Sunday, 28 February 2010

Yes! We've had no Tsunami

....we had no Tsunami yesterday. Mrs S and I watched over our little part of British Columbian coastline until dusk yesterday and saw no obvious waves running up the channel. The alerts were cancelled last night when it became apparent that the threat of a tidal wave was less than it might have been. Tofino on the west coast only registered a tenth of the wave they were expecting, which must have been a disappointment to all the surfer dudes who live out there.

Regarding Earthquakes, there's a postulation been doing the rounds over the past century or so that Volcanic activity and Earthquakes are more prevalent during sunspot minimums. The only people really discussing this appear to be amateurs, but having noted a bit of an uptick in seismic and volcanic activity from Chaiten, Mt Redoubt and others over the past two years, I'd be tempted to take a wild guess and say we've got a few more of these large events to come. There was a 6.5 Richter scale in California back in January, and if the USGS Earthquake map is any indication, quite a few more biggish quakes have totally missed the headlines.

It's very hard to make definitive statements, but there does appear to be some form of sunspot / seismic correlation, although the lags and leads between events and changes in the respective solar and terrestrial magnetospheres make any predictive model nigh on impossible at my level of knowledge, and even a cursory analysis indicates little in the way of correlation if sunspot numbers are plotted against major seismic events. Too many variables like solar wind, cosmic ray activity, and minor variations due to other causes. All I know is that the climate models based on 'greenhouse gases' are far from complete, and the energy levels too low by several orders of magnitude to affect earth's climate in the way their proponents describe.

What I do know is that increased volcanic activity, whatever the trigger, does affect the climate on relatively short timescales. Occurrences like 'the 1816 year without a summer' which followed a series of eruptions culminating in the 1815 eruption of Mt Tambora for example.

As for purely seismic activity, the late 1960's and early 70's saw a higher than usual number of 7.0 plus Richter scale events, as did the 1940's. Yet from 1968-70 the monthly sunspot count averaged over 100, so on the face of it, no correlation with 'the big one' for whatever region. However after a little digging into USGS Earthquake survey figures I found this;

Now when you run the same figures against the monthly sunspot mean you get the result in the lower chart (My spreadsheet);

Sunspot monthly mean dropping and reported Earthquake incidence rising. Regrettably since January 2009 the USGS has moved their reporting goalposts so as not to report any seismic events under 4.5 outside of the USA. Bummer.

I know this is all very amateur and only covers the past few years, but it is intriguing. Wonder what would result if one of the big brains with all the figures at their fingertips were to have a go. Hell, I'm just a minor blogger who's a bit of a closet geek and likes to try and write science fiction. Yet, my observation goes, while 'correlation is not causation', maybe there's an element of a greater truth here. Hmm.

Sunspot data. NGDC.
7.0+ Earthquake dataUSGS Earthquake hazards program
Earthquakes 2000 - 2010 USGS Earthquake facts & Statistics

Saturday, 27 February 2010

While we're waiting

Have phoned round friends and neighbours to tip them off over the Tsunami warning. So while we wait with bated binoculars for the predicted probable non-event around threeish, might one draw attention to these articles re: home schooling. The first being the death of an abused child who was supposed to be 'home schooled', the second being Gerald Warners blog article over at the UK Daily Telegraph, the third being this enlightening little chart put up at Fern Britton catches a spanking for her reporting of the case on this blog entry.

Over in the UK, there is a body of political thought that seems to want home schooling banned. Over here in BC we seem to know better. Home schooling is allowed government financial support through various schemes. There are significant online resources for home schoolers which are there for the parent who wants their children to have a decent education outside of the school system.

A world of difference from the political 'social engineers' over in the UK who like to seize on any and every opportunity to deny other people choice. I don't see what said activists have to gain from it apart from short term political power and privilege, but maybe that is all there is. Must be a European thing.

Not drowning but waving

Because of the Chilean Earthquake a Tsunami advisory has just been issued for the BC coast. We have friends who were about to put their new boat in the water this weekend. We had hoped to join them for a quick celebratory quaff to launch their new pride and joy onwards, but unless they're out in open water by 3pm Pacific Standard time, maybe it won't be such a good idea.

This far from Chile, and especially on our sheltered part of Vancouver Island we don't expect to see much of a problem, but the emergency kits will be readied just in case. We're about three hundred metres from the foreshore at an elevation of about eighty metres, so I don't think anything will happen. There's a risk of soil slippage and erosion closer to the waterfront, so we'll open the doors in case any of our neighbours get seriously affected. No fuss, no bother. We're here for our neighbours as they would be for us. It's that kind of neighbourhood.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Right is right and so is left?

Now I don't like everything that comes out of Glenn Becks mouth, but this little social retrospective, points out without a shadow of a doubt that there is precious little to choose between Communism and National Socialism. Yes, yes, I know it's from Fox, but overall the film securely nails the oft repeated left wing assertion that the Nazi's were or are 'Right wing'. The sources Beck uses in his little fifteen minute movie are culled directly from from the writings of Marx and Engels, Goebbels and Hitler. Nor can the old 'out of context' chestnut be dragged out; when looked at dispassionately, the similarities are quite stunning. The only discernible difference is that Hitler and his cohorts were Nationalists, and the Communist and Socialists Internationalist. The tools of repression, propaganda and murder remained, if not the same, then remarkably similar.

In addition, the revelations about George Bernard Shaw's beliefs in eugenics (Out of his own mouth taken from archive newsreels) I found particularly disturbing. He actually voiced an opinion that people should have to justify their life every five or seven years, or be killed by the state. Shaw was part of that pre world war two 'Green' movement which advocated mass extermination of 'undesirables', rather like elements of the modern day environmental movement.

It seems to my poor reasoning faculties that Communism and National Socialism come from the same idealogical wellspring. To encapsulate; "We know what is good for you so shut up and do what you're told. We own you." In this fashion, modern political environmentalism can also be demonstrated to flow from the same polluted political headwaters. The only differences appear little more than window dressing. All they want is Lebensraum, and if it's your space they want, then tough luck and goodnight. There be monsters and what they advocate is monstrous.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Relationships, eh?

Mrs S and I have many ups and downs, but it is also nice to note that we are not alone as demonstrated by this photoshopped series of images from a professional photography pairing. Anyone who is in a good relationship will recognise the sentiments behind most of their altered images. The day to day rollercoaster ride that is a marriage by turns exhilarating, terrifying and fun. It's a different kind of fun to singleton amusements, but that is life, and until someone invents something better it will do me fine.

Well the pictures made me chuckle.

H/T This page in The UK Daily Telegraph

Monday, 22 February 2010

You what?

This comes under the heading of 'Whoever dreamed this up has lost it big time'.

Restaurants in Scotland are going to be threatened with legal action if their portion sizes are above a government prescribed limit according to this article. Scottish Supermarkets are going to have to put 'unhealthy' food off their shelves? Sorry, I just burst into uncontrollable giggles, which is most undignified for a man of my maturity.

Right, so the Scottish National Party led Government has decided that instead of combating things like crime, urban and social decay, poor road infrastructure, or public transit issues it is going to effectively institute rationing in the country that gave the world the deep fried Mars bar? (See above picture) Oh for crying out loud!

Well here's a piece of news for you boys and girls of the SNP. Legislate all you want. Cut portion sizes. Forbid the selling of sweets or anything remotely fatty. Until you cut the social budget, and stop making it so easy for people to sit on their arses all day, you'll be stuck with an 'obesity time bomb'. Off with their massive plasma screen televisions. Take the handcuffs off business so they can afford to employ more people, and thus get all the tubby people working off a few excess calories. Unless of course you want to get massacred at the next election for being a bunch of control freak wank artists. No pressure.

An expatriate view of the UK economy

A muvver was checkin 'er cash flow one night,
She’d hardly a fiver an’ money was tight,
The muvver was poor and the money was thin,
Barely a cheque stub to list her bills in;

The muvver turned rahnd for a pen out the rack,
She was but a moment, but when she turned back,
Her money was gorn; and in anguish she cried,
Oh, where is my money?' – the Chancellor replied:

The economy 'as fell dahn the plug-'ole,
Brown’s flushed it right dahn the plug;
Your tiny bank balance so skinny and thin
It oughtern been banked in a mug;

The Chancellor 'as 'ad all your money,
E won't need to tax you no more,
The economy's fell dahn the plug 'ole
Not lorst....... but gorn before!

Revamped by Bill Sticker; H/T Anonymous.

Newsy stuff

Yes, Gordon Brown throws tantrums (As well as the odd Nokia) because he can't handle the job of Prime Minister, but is that news? Those in the know have been aware of this stuff since old Jonah was Chancellor and before. He's unelected and not in control, not fit for purpose. Never was. So what's new?

On the upside, and with not a little hint of 'told you so' it turns out that a fishing ban around Australia's Great Barrier Reef is allowing the reef to regenerate. Another environmental 'No shit, Sherlock' revelation. Although the spokesperson delivering the news had to tack of the tired old guff about the 'bigger threat being climate change' at the end. Contrariwise, in this article published in December 2008, Local Shark expert Ben Cropp is quoted as saying;
"The only change I've seen has been the result of over-fishing, pollution, too many tourists or people dropping anchors on the reef,"
Other locals using the mark 1 eyeball to observe what is going on tend to confirm Mr Cropps observations. Yet the lamestream still regurgitates the activist deck that "We're all going to die because of CO2 emissions." Sad, so truly sad, and the public are catching on to the lie big time.

Ice caps and glaciers not disappearing. Global temperatures indicating a cooling trend. Statistical studies and computer climate models out of step with reality. Scare stories abound, but all of them are highly speculative and not worth bothering with. The IPCC's 2007 AR4 report more full of holes than Gruyere.

What else? Argentina is Sabre rattling over oil exploration in the Falklands, although I don't think they'll be so quick to invade if they remember the spanking they got last time round. On the other hand, old Jonah and the Mandelsnake would roll over and let the Falkland Islanders take it up the chuff if it suited them.

Megrahi the convicted Lockerbie bomber not dead yet? Am I surprised? Not really. The 'three months to live' thing had to be a bluff. People get told stuff like this all the time and are still breathing five years later. People die in prison a lot too.

Paedophile wins award. Convicted child rapist and sodomiser Roman Polanski won an award at the Berlin film festival. Why isn't he doing time for what he did? Just goes to show that if you have enough fame and money, you too can be above the law. Walks away shaking head sadly. I read the book by Robert Harris recently, and it would be relatively easy to write a cracking script based on the narrative.

Hi ho. Time to get on with the working day.

Still February

Heck of a frost this morning out by the waterfront, and fog has photoshopped our view of the local islands. Perhaps this will migrate over to the mainland and put a good surface on the piste. Although what I know about skiing could be put on the back of a postage stamp in Times New Roman 12 font.

What does the day have in store for me? User backups and Windows 7 upgrades. Oh joy. I can hardly wait.

It's still February. One more tick in the immigration box to come. Heavy sigh.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

A phone call from my Mother

I usually make a transatlantic phone call to my Mother every second Sunday.

Today I was busy making breakfast when she rang me. Her first words? "I think we've got the snow meant for the Winter Olympics." Then went on to describe the winter wonderland currently gracing her locale in the UK. "What's it like with you?" She asked.
"Oh, brilliant sunshine. Not so cold. The rain has come and gone. It's very bright in our Kitchen. Gorgeous day." I responded.
"That's nice. Perhaps Gordon Brown could negotiate sending some of that warm weather our way." She said.
"I think that's precisely what happened." I responded. "He manages to screw everything else up." We both chuckled with each other over the transatlantic link.

Mothers and their sons should share a laugh now and again.

John Coleman: Global warming meltdown

My brief description of each section as broadcast on KUSI. Worth a look

Part 1: Intro by John Coleman

Part 2: Pachauri caught lying at Copenhagen? (Glaciergate)

Part 3: More IPCC report 'errors' and advocacy based entries.

Part 4: Observations on 'Radiative forcing'. Scripps Institute refuse to debate on Coleman's special broadcast, as "They felt they would not be treated fairly". As fairly as some have treated those with sceptical views? Hmm?

Part 5: About the 'loss' and 'correction' of temperature records by the NCDC.

Part 6: A small reshowing of the M4GW remake of the Who's Teenage Wasteland (Baba O'Reilly).

Part 7: A tip of the hat to the project and how it was born.

Part 8: The 'Green Police' spoof ads by Audi and 'Carbon footprints' with an interview with Dr John Christy from the University of Huntsville, Alabama. NASA GISS 'Deficient'?

Part 9: Al Gore being 'Hounded' and challenged for his lack of understanding? BTW, Gore isn't being sued by Coleman - pity.

So much for 'settled science'. Time for coffee.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

How I learned to stop worrying and love nuclear power

A long time ago in the many hued ignorance of my youth, I was fervently anti-nuclear. Until that is it was carefully explained to me that commercial nuclear power plants are less than useful when used to providing fissile materials suitable for making nuclear weapons. Thereupon I changed my mind. In the interim I always found it difficult to explain my stance to certain people for whom the word 'nuclear' was synonymous with 'instant death'. Now Drbuzzo over at Depleted Cranium has put all the reasons why we should not be worried about nuclear reprocessing plants used to create baby murdering doomsday machines into one reasonably pithy piece. In his own words;
Not one ounce of weapons plutonium ever came from a commercial nuclear power plant.
Go read it in full. Highly enlightening.

As far as the activists are concerned we need more honest articles like these which explain in no uncertain terms how stuff works, and why it won't blow up and kill us all. We definitely need less drama queen like squealing that "The sky is gonna fall" just because some researcher says mankinds doom might happen if..... only to find that said researcher put the proverbial decimal point in the wrong place, or regurgitated someone else's speculation as fact. Leave that to the lamestream cut n' paste journo's.

A grand day out parts one and two

Mrs S and I went for a day out in Vancouver yesterday and had a thoroughly nice time. Left the car in town and chose to walk and use Vancouvers public transit system instead. Minimal aggravation and maximum smile value. We went to see all the free stuff that a neighbour had told us about. Lots of standing in line, which no one seemed to mind, and apart from dodging the scalpers and avoiding a couple of protest groups, the day went swimmingly.

1. Ferry arriving at the ferry terminal
2. Another Ferry leaving Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal
3. Ferry steeplechase start line. The hydraulics for the pedestrian ramps failed, so we all had to exit off the lower car decks. Lining up for starters orders.....
4. And.... THEY'RE OFF! The bus queue steeplechase has started!
5. First stop in Vancouver was to be the Sochi 2014 display at the science world. On the way there past the back of the Casino was this display of flags.
6. From the back of the line, a view of Vancouvers science world and the Sochi 2014 bid display.
7. From later in the day, trainee masochists try out the zipline.
8. A ride on the Skytrain. CCTV and RCMP Police foot patrols onboard. I was impressed with the security. Good natured but enough to deter the anti-social.
9. A long view of the Olympic flame through security mesh. A pro Cannabis protest prevented us getting a better view.
10. No council jobsworth will tell them to take down this flag in a hurry.
11. Canada place.
12. Outside Vancouver Art Gallery and Museum queuing up to see the Da Vinci sketches exhibit.
13. North Vancouver from the bus on the way home.

A. Bus queues at Horseshoe bay
B. Rock Gods (Inukshuk, Inuit waymarkers) opposite the Olympic village.
C. Very long shot of Olympic Village from Science Centre Queue.
D. BC Place
E. See all the white tents at the back of BC Place? Security search facilities.
F. Old fashioned Vancouver trolleybus
G. 'Go Canada, Go' at the junction of Burrard St
H. Coast Salish carving centre outside Vancouver Art Gallery
I. Kids and parents posing in bobsled outside Vancouver Art Gallery
J. Canada place
K. Outside Vancouvers Fairmont Hotel
L. Me getting spookily interactive inside the Art gallery

All taken on a basic cameraphone. Note to self; get better camera and wear better walking boots next time round.

Great day out. Lots of freebies. Glorious sunshine all day. A truly grand day out.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Readers Digest no more?

Doctors and Dentists waiting rooms may never be the same again. Unsolicited prize draw entries may no longer sleet through your letterbox. At least in the UK. The UK Readers Digest has filed for Bankruptcy protection. It is a shame, because of the amusing items said organ was able to provide to take your mind off that impending much-dreaded rectal examination or root canal.

However, the business model that supported said publication is failing because they haven't really moved with the changing markets. There are web sites, but they're mostly just web front ends with paywalls to the content which has been demonstrated not to be the most profitable way to make money online. Some kind of content licensing agreement to other web sites might help their cashflow. Ebook downloads via Amazon, and subscriber only author read content advertised by carefully selected Youtube clips suitable for iPhone and other electronic media. Interactive flash games like Sudoku and crosswords paid for by advertising. The print copy could still be subsidised by the online stuff.

Of course they'd have to downsize anyway because Internet content requires a smaller staff overhead, but at least the good old Readers Digest would survive, which is what a lot of businesses in the UK aren't doing right now.

Just my five cents worth.

Monday, 15 February 2010

The next Dalton Minimum?

Just picked this up at wattsupwiththat. A brace of scientific papers have been presented by some quite eminent solar physicists which suggest that the next thirty years will be significantly globally cooler than the last few decades. Now this isn't the first time an event of this nature has been predicted, yet the odds of a prolonged Maunder type solar minimum are not suggesting a new 'Ice Age'. The brainboxes are suggesting something more like a thirty to forty year 'Dalton' type event. Maybe we're already entering an '1880-1910 Event'. I'm not sure. What I am convinced of is that the Earth is not in a runaway heating phase, nor has it shown any credible signs of being so. In spite of all the doomsaying rhetoric.

There's been increasing speculation about something like this in the more serious science blogs for the past twelve months after two years of very low sunspot activity. While all the advocates and political types have been trying to browbeat everyone into believing that the world is getting hotter, including death threats and suggestions that 'deniers' and 'skeptics' should be executed or jailed (You know who you are), the sun has been figuratively putting its feet up. All right, that's anthropomorphism, but it's a metaphor to dramatise a point, nothing more.

Not being as frightfully clever as a lot of people, I still think that it's time to buy Bombardier shares and invest in a snowblower and a 4x4 with some decent snow tyres if you live north of thirty eight degrees latitude more than forty miles inland. Seriously. That's what I'm doing. Laying up stores during the summer to last through the Winters, which promise to get longer and harder for a while. Making sure the house insulation is up to snuff. Ensuring my families safety and warmth.

A while back I posted that I reckoned Piers Corbyn had it right with his prediction of a thirty year cooling and following century of cooler global temperatures. I wonder who Piers will be taking to the cleaners with that bet?

Still think he needs an interactive whiteboard to do his climate prognostications on.

Update: In addition, according to a peer reviewed scientific paper by Comisio and Nishio, the ice around Antarctica has been showing an increasing trend year on year since 1978. Links at wattsupwiththat.

Counter intuitive

Reported by from the New York Times:
Most climate scientists respond that the ferocious storms are consistent with forecasts that a heating planet will produce more frequent and more intense weather events.
Ahem, hasn't anyone in the lamestream media noticed the increase in snow and ice occurring further south in North America of late? Yet there has been a decrease in Hurricane incidence over the last year or three?

Excuse my ignorance, which is considerable, but surely more heat would mean more storms; brownian motion, convection and all that jazz. Instead we are seeing fewer typhoons and hurricanes, which are part of the Earth's heat transferral system. Ergo the repetition of the mantra 'colder is warmer' makes no sense at all. It's completely counter intuitive. If the Earth truly did have a 'fever' as we are so often exhorted to believe, shouldn't it be sweating more?

Hi ho. Throw another true AGW believer on the fire Doris, it's getting chilly out there. Although this being an El Nino year, I'm taking advantage of the more clement weather here on Vancouver Island and working outside cutting extra logs for next. Just in case the cold weather turns right instead of left when it howls down from the Arctic next year. Like it did in 2007/8/9.

Log stoves rock.

Looking back

Across the Atlantic I see politics going to places where politics has no business at all. I mean, come on. Dennis the Menace gets a PC makeover? It this crazy shit true or is someone 'avin a larf? Well there goes my Beano subscription.

Mind you, it isn't the first time that politics has polluted entertainment. Sylvester McCoy, the actor credited with killing off the role of Doctor Who before the series was revamped and resurrected did 'anti-Thatcher' storylines back in the eighties.

McCoy was wrong for the role anyway, as was Bonnie Langford as his assistant. At the time I found myself praying for Tom Baker, or even Peter Davison to make a comeback. No wonder the show was so shit back then. Once a fan, I found all the political nonsense one massive turn off. So it got turned off. The modern version is a little bit crap as well, despite the performances of Christopher Eccleston who did a fine job of resurrecting the character from oblivion despite some pretty yawnworthy stories. David Tennant? Yerss, well, no; sorry. Just can't be arsed with it any more, even when they brought back the Cybermen and Daleks. Don't even get me started on that utter travesty of a spin-off 'Torchwood'. The girl who played the policewoman was wetter than a lobsters underpants. Totally unconvincing and almost painful to watch.

The 'toning down' of story, plot and character seems to happen a lot in TV, and for me is a reason not to watch a TV programme or movie. Especially when soggy PC propaganda tries to hide what it really is, or is insinuated into a show to make it more 'edgy'. 'Edgy' being the bullshit buzzword used to excuse these unholy abortions. All I know is that much of said content comes across as patronising and trite. The lack of veracity and integrity in a story can makes an otherwise entertaining show pretty much unwatchable.

Not unnaturally I wondered if my opinion was simply the blinkered prejudice of someone who's going (long gone) a bit crusty and cynical. So I reviewed a few of the classic episodes and found them still highly enjoyable, in spite of the wobbly scenery and amusingly designed monsters in rubber suits. Kinky, but note Katy Manning's nude pose with Dalek in the above montage from 1976 (Salivate), oh and Louise Jameson as Leela (Drool). I'm a sad old heterosexual, so bite me. Those shows still have their sharp edges and weren't toned down because it might 'offend' someone. The bad guys were bad and the good guys 'saved the day'. Huzzah! There was no attempt to inject a political subtext. That sort of thing might interest a particular minority, but leaves me (and I suspect a lot of others) cold.

By contrast, the once unbearably saccharine Disney currently puts out some good stuff, especially since they absorbed Pixar. Their stories have something for everyone and only fall flat when puritanism (Commercial or political) of whatever kidney puts in an appearance. My take? A good gag is a good gag and shouldn't be gagged (Sorry, couldn't resist that one).

Hmm. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Beyond parody

Well there it is; out in the open from no less a person than Dr Philip Jones of Hadley Climate Research Unit. His data does not support the warming hypothesis because it is 'disorganised'.

In effect these guys have been trying too hard to prove the warming hypothesis with, to be charitable, perhaps not 'dodgy' data, but definitely inconclusive data. The Emperor of Climate Change is perhaps wearing the briefest of see through G-strings, but definitely not the full panoply of garments as claimed by his many vociferous acolytes.

The cheerleaders for catastrophic man made global climate change really do need to be put through the total perspective vortex to see that we as a species have no more effect on climate that a man swimming the English Channel. Locally we might splash a bit, but on geologic timescales we are an invisible dot on an invisible dot. Insignificant. Deep time will be the proof of that.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Housing poverty; a modest proposal

Every so often, usually around election time or some festival, we have noisy bands of protesters out on the streets demanding that someone 'does something' about an issue. At the moment there's the Olympics, so we have bands of shouting people getting under everyone else's feet with their incessant demands.

One of which is 'end poverty now'. This begs two interesting linked questions; what constitutes 'poverty' and who gets to do the ending? To enlarge; I do volunteer work for various charities and know first hand what the Canadian version of poverty looks like. Homeless people, those with poor housing with hardly any insulation, from the young unemployed to the genteel version of poverty that many 'seniors' are reduced to. It ain't pretty.

While the Olympic celebrations are on downtown I have a question I will be directing at anyone brandishing such a placard about housing and poverty in my face;
"Okay, but what are you personally doing about it? I mean Really. Apart from demanding that 'the government' gives out freebies to all and sundry?"
You see, I see the poor housing but nowhere do I see these shouting mobs actually banding together to put in some extra insulation or lay some new flooring, maybe help clear living space by taking a couple of roomfuls of stuff to the recycle place to help improve the lot of those genuinely in need. Maybe a little help in tidying the front yard occasionally. In my book, ten cents of fixed guttering is worth twenty thousand bucks of replacing a wall.

I see government freebies handed out and going on massive plasma screen TV's and laptop computers while the whole house is falling apart. I see support money going on luxury items like the lottery and alcohol while the rug is soaking in grandma's urine because no one can be bothered to help clean up when she has an 'accident'. Dingy, dusty furnishings garnished with stale spilt food that could be fixed with half an hours work with some furniture cleaner. Curtains that need a run through the washing machine to make them look half way decent and lighten the house and perhaps someone's life. The proverbial lick of paint here and there. Places where an hours dusting and cobweb patrol would bring a little brightness and hope where before was only dinginess and depression. How much effort would that take?

Yet what are the 'anti poverty' protesters doing? Getting under people's feet at what should be a time of celebration, demanding that other people deal with their problems like a bunch of mardy teenagers instead of growing a pair and getting their hands dirty doing some real good. They want 'Government' to do something? I got news for you; 'Government' is a heavy handed and highly inefficient way of 'fixing' poverty. You can throw as much money at 'poverty' as you like, but all you'll get is more poor people with more pointless luxury items.

So here's my challenge to you protesting boys and girls. Treat a homeless person to a wash and brush up and some warm, clean clothing. Go help fix some faulty insulation in a poor persons house. Clear the garbage from their yard. Shine some light into their lives. Go on. Try it as an alternative to simply shouting the odds. I double dare you.

Me? What do I do? Lemme see now. Around ten to twelve volunteer hours a week. Building, fixing, helping with deliveries. I practise what I preach. Hows about you protesters doing that for a change?

Friday, 12 February 2010

Odd musing no 400031987 Series X

Whenever I read the newspapers and some study or other proclaims loudly that imbibing 'A' will most definitely result in your untimely and messy demise, my thoughts are always drawn to a scene from Woody Allen's Comedy 'Sleeper' uttered by the two characters Drs Aragon and Melik;
Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk."
Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?
Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
Dr. Melik: Incredible.
One could cite articles stating that Butter is less harmful than margerine. No direct health benefits from Organic foods. Too little salt is as bad for you as too much (Sodium imbalance). Just as an aside, a quick fix for dehydration is Coca-cola, as it is loaded with salts and sugars (Tried it, it works like a charm). Of course it has to be the real thing and not the wimpy diet or zero sugar stuff. Mrs S, who spent a number of years teaching in Africa taught me that one.

One could forgive my cynicism, but each call for a 'ban' on whatever nowadays appears to be coincide with a marketing campaign for another soi disant 'healthy' product. For example, the 'Ban Butter' call from this man was observed to coincide with two 'Healthy' processed spread product launches by Unilever. Again and again the link between marketing campaigns and calls for bans on this and that casts doubt on the veracity and integrity of those calling for the ban. Well apart from smoking. Oh, hang on. Hasn't the evil weed some medicinal properties? Well spank me rigid. Not so sure about tobacco though. As an ex-smoker I don't miss the pervasive smell of stale cigarettes on my clothing. Nor that first cough of the morning. Although you won't catch me complaining about the smell of a good cigar.

Personally, I think Paracelsus had it right "The dose makes the poison". A glass of a decent red (or two, perhaps even three) a day is reputed to do the old ticker the world of good, and a nice dram of Whiskey a day is thought to help prevent some forms of Cancer. Guzzling alcopops until you puke maybe not so much.

Ho hum. All this musing won't pour me a nice glass of Talisker with the Steak supper I have planned for this evening. The health zealots can just go fuck 'emselves.

One of those days

"Death takes a beer break". Oh my achin' sides!

The good news and the bad news

Good news for chocolate lovers! Apparently it can reduce the chance of CVA's or Strokes. In the UK daily Telegraph it is reported that in a study at the University of Toronto with a sample of 50,000 people, chomping down on the sweet and dark stuff can reduce your chance of a Cerebro Vascular Accident or Stroke, by 22 percent.

Bad news for vegetarians. The Quorn or Tofu you eat because you want to sit on some farcically moral dietary high ground is actually bad for the environment. Not only does the stuff increase your personal emissions, but it has a big 'carbon footprint' as well. The study, commissioned by the WWF, was undertaken by Cranfield University and reported thus in the UK Times.

H/T's to The Filthy Engineer and Tim Worstall respectively

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

All the way from Minnesota

From those very (and clever) funny guys over at Minnesostans for Global Warming. Great bowdlerisation of 'Baba O'Reilly' (or Teenage Wasteland) by the Who. One of my all time favourite Who tracks.

Terror checks

Popped over to the Angry Exile for my daily dose of antipodean (At least from the UK) invective, and came across a link to this article about Israeli airport security.

Think about it; there's Israel, for all its good and bad bits, stuck amongst a hornets nest of terrorist activity. Rocket attacks, suicide bombers and all the other components of asymmetric warfare, and their airport security takes 45 minutes, tops. What the hell? Then think about what you have to go through to get on a plane at any North American or UK airport. Whole body scanners, the 3-4 hour wait to board, virtual strip searches, and false alarms shutting down whole airports. Yet nutters still slip through the net. When was the last time an Israeli jet subject to a terrorist attack?

We've got the 2010 Winter Olympics over on the mainland shortly, and in addition to the lack of snow, the 'Terror alert' means security around Vancouver is going to be tighter than a Mosquitoes arse. Did toy with the idea of going up to Whistler for the games, but friends who have cabins up there aren't renting as they normally would, and most folk I know are going to look for a big screen location in Downtown Vancouver rather than travel up the Sea to Sky.

What are the Israelis doing right that we in the 'civilised' west are getting bass ackwards? Their focus is looking for suspicious behaviour, not what people are carrying.

The point is that not even the most psychopathic individual does anything without a bit of a mental run up at it. They prepare themselves for the act, and it doesn't take a towering genius to spot the signs. There's a look in the eyes it's hard to describe properly, non verbal clues like dissociation, nervousness, various anxiety symptoms; and that appears to be what the Israeli security bods look for. Not objects that might be used in a 'terror attack', because as I learned in my often mis-spent youth, even a tightly rolled up newspaper can be an effective weapon (Brummie Brick). There is even a tome with many of these 'recipes' in called the 'Anarchist cookbook' describing how household items and chemicals could be turned into explosives or other forms of harmful substance. Yet the point is that even if being in possession of a length of 50lb breaking strain fishing line wrapped around two bits of wood equip you with a handy dandy garrotting wire, does not automatically make you a murderous thug. You are more probably a fisherman who makes his own traces and put said items in the wrong jacket pocket last weekend. As the Israelis seem to understand, it is the motivation that counts.

Over in the UK the idiocy has reached the point where sports shooters on their own land get arrested for carrying a firearm, yet despite blanket bans, gun crime runs rampant through most major British cities. The rules over here regarding carrying a pistol are very strict, yet gangland shootings still happen in Vancouver and other Canadian cities.

Was talking with youngest on Skype a few minutes ago about jurisprudence and the difference between Law and Justice. She's studying law, and even she has trouble with applying rules in a blanket fashion. Her own morality baulks at the thought of the innocent suffering instead of the guilty. I recommended viewing 'Billy Budd' to see how the unswerving course of the law can convict an innocent man. Highly stylised of course, but then aren't all stories that reach the mainstream?

Love them or hate them, if the Israelis are doing something right, perhaps we should be taking a note out of their copybook?

Just a thought.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

The end of global warming

Maybe someone's been feeding the gum to all the squirrels around Washington DC. Curse those eeeevil Deniers!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Put not thy trust in Princes....

Was reading this blog about another victim of New Labours policies, and it brought the following quotation to mind from Psalm 145 verse 3 of the King James version, which were the reported words of the Earl of Strafford upon hearing the sentence of death passed on him just prior to the English Civil War.

Rather like the aforementioned blogger, I too was a quite successful and well off IT contractor in the early 000's. I got sent to jobs, did what the customer asked and ensured it was working well before moving on to the next job. My clients seemed happy, and repeat business was often forthcoming; until, that is, late 2003. Work just evaporated. After that I found myself scratting around for jobs that I was over qualified for, or having to travel to the other end of the country to find work for what was basically silly money.

At first I thought it was simple ageism, but then a chance meeting with an ex recruitment consultant brought the answer; fast track visa's. Companies were ditching contractors for cheaper and more disposable overseas labour. At the time I heard a lot of parliamentary bleating about 'the skills shortage' to which Mrs S often heard my sarcastic retort; "If there's a fucking skills shortage then why ain't I getting hired?" Eventually I had to bite the bullet and took a job as one of the much maligned (And often rightly so) Local Authority Traffic Wardens / Parking Attendants. So Walking the Streets was born out of my daily (Often hourly) frustrations with Local Authority Management, most of my co-workers, and of course the General Dyslexic.

Unlike the aforementioned blogger, we were able to see which way the economic winds were blowing, and after hanging on tooth and nail to that awful bloody job until the kids were both at Uni, sold up in 2007 and made our great leap of faith across the Atlantic. I got offered a job, Mrs S got offered a job, and so we stayed, and I haven't been back to the UK since August 2007. Permanent Residency will (Having jumped through all the hoops), I hope, be not more than three months away, and with it permission to take on more paying work than I do at present. That done, we plan to apply for Canadian Citizenship and make the change irrevocable. The greater plan being to provide the kids with an alternative place of refuge if the UK does finally begin it's final spiral down the metaphorical plug 'ole.

If our friend should drop by this blog, might I say that this blog entry is not so much a criticism as a statement in the vein of 'there but for the grace of God go I'. A gesture of affirmed sympathy, in that I too have walked some of the same road as he. Had I asked politicians for help with the plight of myself and my business instead of taking the actions I did, perhaps we too would have suffered a similar fate. All I know is that it was a bloody close run thing, and some hard choices had to be made and followed through.

Any regrets over leaving the UK? Well, not really. What little family I have left are okay and surviving, but we're a clan of survivors. If they need my assistance or a place of refuge, Mrs S and I will provide for them. That is what a family is for. When the darkness falls and there is only you and yours, theirs are the hands you hang on to the longest. Yet in doing so, one has to fight one's own daily battles, focussing on keeping bellies full and house warm, doing whatever it takes to survive. Emphatically not trusting to those with dogma led agendas to show mercy on you, because when all is said and done; the only mercy you get in this world is that which you make for yourself.

Here endeth the lesson.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

I like Monckton.....

As seen in Melbourne, Australia.

Erudite and amusing. Unlike the doomsayers.

Part 2 here.

H/T This article on Wattsupwiththat.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

I'll miss Haloscan

To all those visitors who come here from 'Walking the Streets'. Your Haloscan comments will cease to be on 24th February 2010 and I would like to say this;

Alas poor Haloscan, I knew it well,
Where fellows of infinite jest,
And most excellent fancy laid their views.
And those bores who laid me snoring on my back a thousand times,
Now how abhorr'd in my imagination it is!
My gorge rises at it.

Paraphrased from 'Hamlet' by William Shakespeare

To get Biblical;
"The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All words are glass, and all the goodliness thereof is but echoes and ghosts"

A Bowdlerised Isaiah 40:6

The Moving comment writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure them back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

A likewise manipulated verse 51 from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Fitzgeralds Translation)

Fear not; for I have the e-mail copies immortalised until the sad day that Google purges my email archive. I'd like to export the bloody things but my Haloscan login doesn't work any more.

Such is life.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

It's Groundhog day!

Six more weeks of Winter, at least according to weather prognosticators with a better track record than the Met Office and their dodgy computer models.

Not so bad over here on the western side of BC, although the 2010 Olympics organisers are having to truck in snow. It's rather grey and claggy on our part of the island, and I'm keen to see some sunshine soonest. The view is fine, but the brightness and contrast need turning up a bit, and maybe some blue airbrushed in. At the moment our local climatic photoshop palette is set to greyscale, which I'm looking forward to seeing the back of. Apparently this is what it's supposed to be like around here during Winter, not half a metre of snow like last year.

Hey ho. Logs to cut, work to do. Spring and my permanent residency card will be along in their own sweet time.

Monday, 1 February 2010

I want one of these.....

Have lusted after a Rocket III for some time. Now, by devious machinations and Machiavellian subterfuge, one is within my grasp. Heh, heh, heh. Evil plans don't always entail world domination you know....

Am feeling very chipper at the moment, having passed my immigration medical and paid the 'landing fee' of CAD$490.00. Never said immigration into Canada was cheap did I?.

The natives are revolting.....

Carbon taxation;

Puts up living costs for everyone.

Cuts, not creates, jobs.

Benefits no one but a political elite and their hangers on.

There is a campaign against 'green taxation' in BC, and a Federal anti carbon tax campaign.

We need less pollution and cleaner air, but Carbon taxation isn't the way to do it. Pass it on.

H/T Small Dead Animals
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