Thursday, 29 April 2010

So someone else has a dog like mine.....

...and that dog once belonged to the late, great, and incredibly funny Jake Thackray.

Not Canadian enough

Have been considering about the title of this blog and am a little concerned about the lack of Canadian content. Volcanoes, yes, Climate Change yes, UK politics, definitely, but not much about where I live apart from the tremendous natural beauty on my front doorstep. There's the trials and tribulations of our struggle for Canadian Permanent Residency of course, but not much else, as I'm still not up to speed on the politics of BC and Canada in general. Well, I'm not a voter yet by a long chalk, so to date I haven't really seen the point of getting all aerated by something I can't do much about.

The big story over here is Gordon Campbell's Harmonised Sales Tax, which has got a lot of small business people pretty much up in arms. There are a lot of small business people and sole traders in our part of BC, and from what I can see, a lot of them are not terrifically amused by HST. Petitions are being raised to oppose the extra tax, and I'm told if over six percent of the voting public sign up, they can force a referendum. This I find refreshingly democratic. Unlike the UK where the top down model of "do what we say and don't argue, peasant." is well established.

The bad news for the Provincial Government who have shot their financial wad on things like the Winter Olympics, is that from what my friends tell me, the percentage so far signing the petition across the province of British Columbia is ten percent minimum. Locally I'm told, almost twenty five percent of the electorate so far have signed the petition. Considering the number of small businesses that think they will go under if HST is implemented, I'm not surprised. This area runs on small businesses. For the rest, it will probably mean a hike in living costs many cannot afford. According to the protesters Facebook page, they want fifteen percent of the electorate at least to sign the petition.

Working and volunteering closely with public sector institutions, I'm acutely aware that funding for charitable institutions or 'Non-Profits' took a big hit when the Gaming Money was withdrawn. Times are tough for the 400 plus charities around town, and HST will make them even tougher as people will have to work more to pay off the tax, and have less time to volunteer. Considering the public service slack the non-profits take up, this will not help those in genuine need one iota.

Unfortunately I'm not Canadian enough to be part of the anti-tax movement.


So much for a 'low carbon' lifestyle.

Derisive laugh.

Steve Hughes is right

In under ten minutes, Steve manages to encapsulate all that is wrong in Britain, from the 'Don't talk to the Beggars' attitude through 'Elf 'n safetee' and the 'professionally offended' to the smoking ban.

Many a true word, etc, etc.

Electoral fraud

Electoral fraud in the UK has already reared its spavined head because of Twitter. A candidate has been caught, metaphorical finger in the electoral till, because she was was thick enough to put her offence in the public domain. The politico's don't seem to get that all this new fangled technology malarkey is very much a two edged sword. Jonah Brown, the microphone and the traditional voter. Kerry McCarthy, Twitter and the postal votes. David Cameron and the 'unscripted' meeting with the public on Twitter via the BBC, and that's just the scum on the stagnant pond of the three party 'race'. UK Politicians of all three major parties are being shown up for the out of touch, two faced, self serving, deceivers of widows and orphans they truly are.

Postal votes, which I don't trust the security of and this time round will forgo my 'right' to a vote in the UK rather than risk its abuse; have been put into question since their inception. Postal electoral fraud; at its most basic a form of ballot box stuffing, is endemic in Britain. There's even a Parliamentary report for confirmation.

Why? Because there is a whole 'political class' out there who go from high school through University to retirement and never, ever do an honest days 'real' work such as in Trades, Management, Self employment, or on the Shop Floor throughout their entire lives. As far as they are concerned, your vote is a fast track to wealth and luxury and they'll do anything to get it, even usurp the very tenets of Democracy. They feel 'entitled' to your vote. It's theirs, not yours, and they will try and get your mandate by fair means or foul. This lack of experience external to politics cuts across the entire political spectrum. All you have to do is look at the relevant CV's. As for the fraud, I refer you to the aforementioned Parliamentary report for proof. Of such poor thread is the new aristocracy being woven.

William Shakespeare had a wonderful description appropriate to the modern British 'professional' politician which I will take minor liberties with;
'A time pleaser, an affectioned ass that cons state without book and utters it by great swaths: the best persuaded of himself, so crammed with excellencies that it is his grounds of faith that all that look on him love him'
One only has to sideline ones natural political tribalism and open your eyes.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

To paraphrase..

To paraphrase this remark nicked from the Inspector Gadget blog;
The idea that anyone who objects to the most obvious and basic injustices must have some kind of personal problem is endemic in Britain these days.
I'd go farther. The idea that by not agreeing with a very narrow world view that one is somehow socially impaired, is slow poison to a given society. This is demonstrated by the mess the UK has gotten into.

Spot on, Gadget.

Gordon Brown is toast

Apologies or no, this has to be the most damaging thing that can happen to a politician. Watch the lady's expression at being called a 'bigot' for expressing a genuine concern at the UK daily Telegraph web site, then watch the following two videos.

It illustrates an utter contempt for your core vote. Mrs Duffy has worked for councils in child care and other public service roles for over 30 years and this is how she's treated? A more 'traditional' Labour supporter they couldn't have picked. Labour just lost the UK General Election. Big time.

The peals of astonished laughter emanating from Mrs S's workstation as she viewed the news reports were music to my soul.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

All you ever needed to know about the UK general election - but never dared ask

The latest missive from my mother still living in England contained the following excerpt;
You will be aware that we are in the throes of a General Election very shortly so all the political parties are telling us why we should vote for them and all the goodies they will provide for us if they get into power - I seem to have heard this many times before.
Says it all really.

I know what's good for me

I gave up watching TV several years ago simply because the condescending vacuousness on display set my teeth on edge. So-called 'science' programmes that only showed a limited side of the story and ignored the bits that didn't fit. 'Documentaries' that described unproven postulations as incontrovertible facts which happened to be fashionable at the time. New ice age? That was the big bad bogeyman of the 1970's before Warble Gloaming. Bacon and Eggs, another dietary time bomb that was going to kill us all, now exonerated.

There is a line in Woody Allens comedy 'Sleeper' where a character explains that scientists of their age had discovered that all the health food junkies had it wrong, and all the stuff that was thought bad for you was actually good. Now scientific studies indicate that Red Wine is good for you, as is dark chocolate, sex and laughter. So are regular small doses of sunshine and exercise in the fresh air. Physical risk stimulates and destresses us. Red meat and high protein stuff isn't half so bad as we're told, and there's a school of thought that suggests fat isn't the mass killer some have posited, likewise salt.

High exercise and low protein however, don't look so wonderful. Anyone remember the guy who started the jogging craze? Keeled over from a premature heart attack. Can't remember his name. The woman who was always exhorting everyone to 'go veggie'? Linda McCartney. She didn't make old bones. There are many other such examples. A diet high in starches and suchlike which has been advocated by many doesn't seem to be the answer because the 'healthy eating' faction are still complaining there are too many fat people. Could the real answer be that their diets are packed with corn starch and syrup in convenience foods? Just saying. is all.

I think I'll stick to moderation; a little Beer, a little wine, Whiskey, the odd steak, plenty of fruit, moderate exercise, and bursting into fits of laughter at the stupidity of deluded politicians as often as possible. Well, that's my telegram from the reigning monarch assured.


Monday, 26 April 2010

Stop! Stop I say!

After recent remarks by an Iranian Cleric that modestly dressed women prevent Earthquakes, a young female person based in Indiana has declared the 26th a Boobquake experiment. All over the planet, females are uncovering their personages and making the Volcano gods very cross indeed. Stop it you fools! Cease and desist! You'll doom us all! NOOOOOOOOO!

Guffaw. Good one.

H/T Tim Worstall and Town Mouse

Active Volcano blogs

These three Volcano blogs appear to be the most often posted by specialists in their field and have relatively up to date information.
The Volcanism Blog
Volcano live news

Volcano watch

Am keeping an eye on the situation regarding Iceland and volcanism. This little Earthquake swarm directly over the mid Atlantic ridge spreading zone was spatted in the early hours of this morning. Location is about 40km due almost North of the Grimsvotn Volcano at the northern tip of the Vatnasjokull glacier. The little tabs indicate the rough position of the quakes and the lighter the colour the larger the quake. For example, the yellow tab indicates a 3.3, and the green tabs a 2.3 and 2.4 respectively.

Utilising what little I know about volcanism, I'd say this doesn't mean a new eruption. On the other hand, I could have it all upside down. Although Earthquake swarms don't necessarily mean it's gonna-blow-and-Oh-my-GOD-we're-all-gonna-DIE!!! right this minute, it certainly means something is going on under that part of Iceland. What it is, is one for greater minds than mine.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Scary stories

Yes, yes, I know the vid is from the Eeevil 'Big Oil' funded Heartland Institute, but I'm busy this morning. Too lazy to post and I have things to do, Garage sales to visit.

The good news is that Youngest is coming over for the Summer. The even better news is that Mother-in-Law isn't. Huzzah!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

No arguments from me......

H/T Witterings from Witney.

Put not thy faith in Computer models

Back in the late eighties, an old chum of mine who sailed racing yachts excitedly showed me a piece of computer software running on his eldest son's Atari (Remember when we thought those were the Mutts Nuts?). Said software did a modest job of calculating water flows around a Yacht keel and other such relatively simple shapes. Of course it completely failed to show things like trailing vortices and other such drag related phenomena.

Modern flow modelling software I am assured, is a little more sophisticated than way back then, but when all the calculations have been done, you still need to build and test physical half or full scale replicas to see how much difference various finishes, coatings and anti-fouling treatments will have on the finished product. There is software that can perform that task, but these things never quite turn out the way the models demonstrate under all conditions. This much is accepted.

Don't get me wrong. Computer models have their uses and can stop you making stupid mistakes. Flight simulator software is nowadays terrific for training pilots on how to deal with various emergencies. The utter brilliance of it always brings an admiring smile to my face. Well, I'm easily pleased. Said flight models have been hammered out by Software Engineers with feedback from professional pilots, rather like Racing car designers interface with the drivers. Driver flags up a concern and the Engineers get to work on dealing with the issue, be that a bit of drift on a fast left or brake fade. You need the physical to improve the theoretical. This is basic Engineering practice to make things better, stronger and faster. It works, don't knock it.

When it comes to weather however, as the recent volcano plume fiasco has demonstrated, the current computer weather models often don't reflect reality. When the satellites and sampling aircraft went to check the volcano plumes reality against the models, they found that the models were, not wrong, but, how should I put this, unrepresentative. The Met office models calculated that the dust cloud would be enough to damage Jet engines. When the flights finally went up to check the model results, they found that yes, there was volcanic dust up there, but not what the models said.

There was also the issue of the Engine makers being asked what the tolerance was for particulate matter passing through a jet turbine. Apparently the answer came back that Jet engines should under no circumstances be exposed to volcanic ash. Considering I've been on flights that have landed in hailstorms and torrential downpours without much incident, this gave me pause for thought. Jets land and take off through polluted air / extreme weather every hour of the day all around the world. The only time volcanic ash has damaged jet engines is when such an aircraft has been flown through a sufficient concentration of airborne particulates that would choke an unprotected human. Like the Speedbird 9 incident in 1982 or the Finnish F-18's and NATO F-16's that reportedly suffered engine damage from the Eyjafjallajökull plume.

People reported clear skies while the flight ban was in place. There was also some reported ash fallout in the UK, but having examined a few press photographs of the fallout on cars, I saw less 'volcanic dust' on the cars portrayed than the recent Birch pollen we've been getting over here that lands on my old 4x4. Needless to say, said Birch pollen has not stopped the local aircraft buzzing around. All right, that's bit unfair, not comparing like with like, but that's what happened with the 'no-fly' ban. It wasn't until the dust was sampled that the 'oops' factor struck, and the picture the models were feeding found to be at odds with reality.

My point is simply this. Models succeed when they are based in reality, not theory. Theoretical models are usually heavily modified or even discarded if found to be misrepresentative. Not so with weather. The current models are shown not to predict as well as advertised, but there seems to be this boneheaded persistence in insisting that they should, come what may.

"Make it work." A vociferous lobby is saying. "We want this to be true." I will not speculate on their reasons, whatever they might be, here. What remains is that the current Met Office models are demonstrably inadequate, and have been for some time. You can want something to be true all you like, but that will not make it so. Your model may tell you the world is flat, but that won't stop people circumnavigating the Earth, or change the curve of the horizon. Nor can a computer model conjure snow on a cloud free day. The world and the weather simply don't work that way.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Home educators are weird?

Well that was the sentiment expressed by a work buddy of mine the other day. We were out on the usual round, me as the volunteer, and him as the hired hand. Instead of the usual music on the radio there was a speaker venting bile against the usual right wing suspects in America. She spoke at length about how wrong Milton Friedman was, and how mean people had been to New Orleans post Katrina. Not being up much on either, I kept my mouth shut and my eyes on the scenery, half listening to the speaker and thinking; "Well that's a new one on me." Then she vented some drivel about there being an increase in hurricanes and tornadoes due to warble gloaming, and I fought to keep a straight face. Being a regular reader of Wattsupwiththat, I understand that there has actually been a decline in the frequency of category 5 storms the speaker was wibbling on about.

We pulled up at the delivery and as usual I began to get out of the van and pick up the gear we were going to fit. Only my work buddy said. "Why're you in such a hurry?" Which I wasn't. Then he insisted I sit in the cab listening to the speaker go on about how evil private education was, and what bad people the Republicans were for not writing the American teachers unions a blank cheque with public funds.

This made me rather uncomfortable, but mindful of my status in Canada, I kept my tongue firmly clamped between my teeth. I have no sympathy for either the extreme right or left, and oftentimes would rather they all went on about their rights elsewhere and left the rest of us mere mortals in peace. On the other hand; what the hey. It was a sunny afternoon, and to be quite honest I wasn't all that bothered. We completed our task, and returned to base having completed the rest of the round, it was then my work buddy rather crossed a line with me. "Hey Bill, don't you think all home schoolers are weird?"
"No." I responded. I really didn't understand what he driving at.
"I did some work for some home schoolers once, and they were weird people." He then went on to give me chapter and verse on how difficult he'd found them to work for, and why should people have the right to take their children out of the school system. I responded about Mrs S being in Home School support, and said that although the people she dealt with could be difficult, they were no more or less so than she had been used to dealing with as a full time teacher in the UK. Probably even less so, as these were people who had elected to educate their children in person. He didn't play the 'Paedo' card, but had he done so I would have been less than polite.

When I related this tale to Mrs S that evening she was rather scathing. "Has he ever had children?" She asked.
"Two, I think." I replied, and I know for definite one of them didn't graduate from High School. Although I didn't tell her that.
"Well, he can't have done much of a job with them." She said bluntly, and went on to be rather disparaging about parents who expected teachers to do all the work of educating their children. My wife spoke at length about her lack of respect for those who see their only parental responsibility as to feed, clothe, and dump their offspring in front of the TV, with no other input apart from acting as an unpaid taxi service. I just shrugged. I like the guy, but he does go on sometimes.

Mrs S and I have no respect for 'Hands off' parenting. For us, the payoff has been two intelligent young women who are making their own way in the world, and will be much better of than we have been. That's because my wife and I understand that the Human race is a relay race, and you have to get the next generation ready to pick up the baton. This entails helping with homework (and sometimes even University coursework now), answering daft questions in a non-judgemental way, helping them overcome their mistakes, and generally just being there to pick them up when they fall.

We have also told our two that we intend to be the most disreputable grandparents on the planet. If that doesn't act as a contraceptive, I don't know what will.

The patron saint of England

Used to be this chap. Who did actually live and preach in England. Currently serving as patron saint of Northumbria.

This fellow however, never did, and probably never heard of the place.

On the other hand, would the country of my birth have ever reached its one time ascendancy within the panoply of nations with the battle cry of "For God, King Harry and........ St Cuthbert?" Ah.

Maybe it's just as well.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Eyjafjallajökull vent system diagram

I've been wondering if Katla and Eyjafjallajökull were on the same volcanic vent system, but this graphic from the Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland web site tells a different story. I saw this diagram over a week ago, lost the link, and couldn't find the page anywhere as I set my browser to purge its viewing history every time I close it.

Makes for enlightening viewing. Click on graphic to see the full size image

Ah-HA! The denoument

After purchase and extensive taste testing it is this blogs proud proclamation that my tireless search for a decent English style mustard in the local British Columbian grocery stores has reached a successful conclusion. Yup. Keens really does cut the mustard. It is at least equal to expensive imported jars of Colemans and far more widely available. My favourite Dijon Mustard (Glorious with locally bred Angus steak) is also available at a reasonable price, so there is no longer any need for me to undertake a life of crime as a Canadian mustard smuggler (I've got a horrible feeling that's slang for something highly unpleasant). Hooray!

Tonight I am also serving up fresh strawberries dipped in plain chocolate with plain yoghurt for dessert. Those have tested out successful as well. Life is sweet. Yum.

Can we straighten this out please?

Saw the following quote on CBC.
war of words between scientists and climate change skeptics
Right. Lets get this absolutely clear. Not all those on the Man Made Climate Change side of the slanging match are 'scientists'. Most appear to be activists, politicians, and business concerns with a lot to gain from this 'Carbon trading' malarkey. On the sceptical side of the argument are quite a number of properly qualified climate scientists, many of whom only speak out when they don't have to worry about activists in their establishment hierarchies cutting off their funding. The lamestream media also seem to have a very strange idea of who is a 'proper' climate scientist, and have been known to simply cut and paste press releases from 'grey' or pseudo research just to get a headline.

To be succinct; not all pro AGW voices are proper climate scientists, and there are a significant number of proper climate scientists who are sceptical of AGW. Is that clear enough? Sheesh.

Oh yes, and this isn't a 'crusade against science'; it's a crusade for the scientific method which some researchers seem to have conveniently forgotten. You know, the bits about sharing data, finding proofs and letting other researchers verify them? Anything else isn't 'science' at all.

Volcano latest

Am keeping a close eye on the Iceland volcano situation, and checking out the Earthquake map this morning noted a sizeable tremor to the east of the recent eruptions. Now this could be indicative of a couple of things; firstly that the magma chamber is draining, having spouted lava and dust to it's white hot hearts content. Secondly that magma is moving Eastwards underground towards the neighbouring vent system.
The first image is a screengrab taken on Monday, when the main Eyjafjallajökull eruption was in full swing. Those 1.1 to 1.6 intensity quakes indicated by the little blue placemarkers had dates of the 16th and 17th April 2010. Now note the second screengrab image. A 2.1 today over ten kilometres East. Could this be of significance or just some post eruption collapsing of empty magma chambers?

Something is happening down below. Is there a Vulcanologist in the house?

I don't think you want to do that

Chortling quietly about this push for a law against 'Ecocide'. In the words of Harry Enfields annoying old git character, "I don't think you want to do that."

My reasoning, gentle reader, is as follows; Eco campaigners push for more biofuels to 'reduce carbon emissions'. More biofuel production requires more fertiliser and land. Rainforests cut down for oh-so-profitable biofuel production. Agricultural runoff from increased biofuel production gets into rivers. Rivers run into sea with extra silt because trees which used to hold the soil in place have been cut down. Extra silt and nitrates runoff about as good for Coral Reef habitats as toxic waste dumping. Coral reefs die, rainforests diminish, and all because of biofuels. I'm not even going to touch on the food riots caused by biofuel production induced shortages.

Even the EU have produced a report saying that Biofuel production is four times more hazardous to the Environment. And that's only if you still hold to the unproven and increasingly discredited notion that man made CO2 emissions have any significant effect upon the climate.

Sooo. Coral reefs damaged. Rainforests diminishing even faster than before. Food shortages. Cause; Biofuel production. Now tell me who is guilty of promoting 'Ecocide'? Oh yes, surprise, surprise; the 'Green' lobby. Including Greenpeace, WWF, et al.

So chaps, I wouldn't be too keen to pass laws of this nature because the law of unintended consequences will undoubtedly come back to bite you.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Getting back to normal

Eyjafjallajökull screenshot as of 12pm GMT 21st April 2010.
See below a similarly timed Flightradar 24 screenshot showing the 60% of flights with their transponders turned on merrily bimbling around the skies of Europe with no reported problems at the time of writing. For the worry warts out there, NASA are doing a splendid job of reporting with satellite analysis here.

Business as usual, but the question remains, was the total flight ban an over reaction caused by a lack of information on the robustness of Jet engines and the density of the plume at given altitudes? The politicians say no, but then they would, wouldn't they? Class action lawsuits looming?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

UK flight restrictions lifted

As of 21:34 Tuesday April 20th the flight restrictions over the UK have been lifted.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible and the only delays will be caused by Air traffic control, pedantic security procedures and striking French baggage handlers. Business as usual then?

Monday, 19 April 2010

How thick?

It is a well established phenomenon that certain types of volcanic emissions can stop a jet engine by forming glassy deposits within the burners and clogging them. One thing that has bothered me since last week is how dense does a cloud have to be to pose a significant risk to a jet engine? Not having access to empirical data is a problem. Relying on computer models alone is not a good idea because these cannot accurately reflect reality without additional input from real life sources.

The image on the top left is an image from NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites. In it, the plume from Eyjafjallajökull appears to be dissipating to relative transparency several hundred miles downrange.

Given that damage to jet engines can occur when passing through relatively dense concentrations of airborne volcanic particulate matter as in the oft quoted 'Flight Nine' near disaster, the key question is how dense does a plume have to be to inflict such a catastrophic failure? Surely the answer to this conundrum should already be in the public domain for airlines and regulating authorities to refer to. Especially if the people entrusted with making critical decisions about closing airspace are to make good judgement calls in a timely and informed manner. This news item refers to the damage incurred by several Jet fighters which flew through the plume. The question is, was this a visible section of the ash cloud they flew through or invisible particulate matter? We don't know.

Maybe we're missing some key information, and it exists in an obscure Engineering text from Rolls-Royce or Pratt & Whitney who have designed Jet engines which can cope with having the equivalent of a jet propelled chicken thrown into the compressor blades at several hundred miles per hour every couple of seconds. See video below.

Then there is this 2007 promo video where sand is ingested through a jet engine during a test. Sand is mostly silica which is the basis for glass, so its behaviour within the high temperature environment of a Jet engine should not be that different from glassy volcanic particulates from a volcanic eruption, shouldn't it?

No one, short of the most rabid Jihadi wants to see aircraft falling out of the sky, so how much can a modern jet engine actually take? More to the point, how many commercial aircraft are equipped with the quality of engine which can shrug off sand like the one in the video? Just a thought.

External webcam status

Just got back from work to pick up a comment posted at 2.14pm PST saying the Eyjafjallajökull webcam seems to be down. Just tried the link from the sidebar and it works fine as of 4pm PST which is about 10pm Icelandic time. Can't vouch for the webcam as that is under the control of the Icelandic version of the Met Office.

Just my observation but the colour of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption seems to have changed. Last night it appeared more of a sullen reddish colour, at the time of writing it appears to have become more yellowish.

Useful links

For the fifty or so people an hour currently passing through this site looking for webcams and volcanic activity associated links, I've stuck the most popular collected links from various posts into one small box on the top right hand column so you don't have to go searching through all my half baked waffle to find them.

Hope you find them useful. Requests for other links in the comments. Will respond after work. Sensible, witty, amusing or interesting comments are always welcomed. Off topic, abusive comments, conspiracy theories or comment spam will be deleted as usual.

Katla early warning

As anyone who's ever studied the subject even superficially is aware, volcanoes and earthquakes or tremors go together like bread and butter. Large movements of magma down in the bowels of the Earth cause 'swarm' Earth tremors and quakes. At the moment of writing there are no such quakes reported from under the 10km wide Katla caldera in Iceland.

You can check this out here via the Earthquake map. The site text is in Icelandic, but the map is pretty clear. While there is a cluster of quakes accompanying the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, there are no reported indicators under Katla, or even its lava dome to the East side of its glacier, the most likely site for an eruption.

News on the eruption, and others via the USGS reporting web page is here.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Every volcanic cloud has a silver lining

One of the unforseen consequences of the blanket ban on air travel over Europe, as pointed out here, is that a bunch of freeloading moneywasters can't do any damage for the moment.

H/T Julia M for drawing my attention to it. Guffaw.

Eyjafjallajökull webcam links

Not being an Icelandic speaker, I can only take a half hearted guess at what the text means, but for what it's worth, here are Webcam links to a view of Eyjafjallajökull from one location, and a view of the volcano a lot of people are worrying about, Katla. Can't tell you if the feeds are live or not. Also at the time of writing it's night time in Iceland, so not much to see.

Getting home

I've been checking my visitor stats, such as they are, and noted a number of visitors from Tampa, Florida. If you guys are looking for a way home or into Northern Europe in a tearing hurry I have a suggestion.

Current status indicates that transatlantic flights into Madrid, Spain may still be operating. Also, there is a highly efficient, fast and comfortable TGV service from Madrid into France, and from there all points North and East. I've used this train myself on a trip from Cordoba to Paris, and from Paris into London via Eurotunnel. It's clean, quiet and fast. So if you're really, really, really, (Why?) desperate to get back to the UK or Northern Europe and don't mind the extended cost and journey time, there's your way home. Miami to Madrid; Madrid to London, and don't forget to book your seat. A simple ticket purchase isn't enough.

Give the respective airlines a phone call and check the current status of flights to Spain. Don't just rush down there and hope for the best. The bright side is you even get to miss Heathrow or Gatwick (Awful places). Good luck.

For those who want to get home to the UK and don't mind a longer ferry trip, there are ferries across Biscay to Portsmouth and Plymouth from Spain.

Update: Looks like Eurotunnel are claiming they are full, although other sources are claiming otherwise. You could almost fly into Spain, buy a junker (cheap knackered car) and try driving home via the ferries.

Everything in proportion

Thanks to Scoakat for this one; a little game that shows how big the Universe is and how small everything else is in proportion.

Now is what you had to say that important?

Now here's a thing

Re: this Icelandic volcano dust cloud. Test flights have been made through the dust cloud, and according to the Airlines, no engine damage occurred.
KLM, acting on a European Union request, flew a Boeing 737-800 without passengers at the regular altitude of 10 km (6 miles) and up to the 13 km maximum on Saturday. Germany's Lufthansa said it flew 10 empty planes to Frankfurt from Munich at altitudes of up to 8 km.

"We have not found anything unusual and no irregularities, which indicates the atmosphere is clean and safe to fly," said a spokeswoman for KLM, which is part of Air France-KLM. German airline Air Berlin said it had also carried out test flights and expressed irritation at the shutdown of European air space.

"We are amazed that the results of the test flights done by Lufthansa and Air Berlin have not had any bearing on the decision-making of the air safety authorities," Chief Executive Joachim Hunold said. "The closure of the air space happened purely because of the data of a computer simulation at the Vulcanic Ash Advisory Center in London,"
The dust cloud is a Computer simulation? Heavy sigh. That's like using Mystic Megs Newspaper Horoscope to predict the migration patterns of Geese. You mean to tell me no-one actually took a plane up there, took samples of the cloud mass at varying levels over Europe and tested them for density, hardness etc? Oh good grief.

H/T Richard North at EU Referendum.

Update; European 'No-fly' order from here. European Airspace restricted until Monday, 0700 1900 GMT at the earliest. Yet flights to the US and currently Norway from Iceland continue. H/T to An Englishman's Castle for that snippet.

Some news not yet in the news is the big Coronal Mass Ejection heading our way from the sun due to hit today. A big thank you to Piers Corbyn in the comments for that one. Predictions of associated weather events here. BTW Piers, if you read this, can you post the PDF in something a bit more backwards compatible?

What does this big solar eruption mean? Well to be truthful I'm not altogether sure. Big solar flares and CMEs tend to be associated with EM disruption, which traditionally means disrupted satellite communications and mobile phone outages. Nowadays systems tend to be better 'hardened' than few years ago, a spin off from 'cold war' technology. Like with all the warnings about volcanic glass abrading jet engines and scouring aircraft windshields, maybe our technology can cope better than we think. I'm just pleased that the acid rain thing hasn't come to pass.

Piers thinks that this CME may trigger changes in Earth's geomagnetic field which will in turn set off Earthquakes and additional volcanic activity. Well, let's do the old "We'll see" on that one. I'm not overly concerned myself, but will be giving major fault lines and volcanoes a wide berth for a few days, just in case.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

The very latest news

Travellers stuck at airports all over the globe because of the Icelandic eruption have been informed that their ticket costs will be refunded, but there will be no additional compensation as this is an 'act of God'.

In an interview at his Vancouver Island address today, God has denied being involved, stating; "Look, it's a volcano, they erupt. It's got nothing to do with me."


One of the few things I miss from the UK is Mustard. Colemans English Mustard to be precise. For me, no other condiment quite hits the spot when it comes to Ham.

Over here of course you can get some wonderful Bavarian smoked ham which, if you buy from the local Meat Store (Cross between a Butchers and a Delicatessen), is complemented to within an ace of gastronomic perfection by the slightest smear of Colemans finest. The downside of my craving for Colemans of course is that it usually only available from specialist 'British' shops in tiny jars at relatively high prices, or a trip to the USA is called for, which even I think is a bit excessive for mustard.

An anxiety of mine over this current 'no-fly' business from the UK is that stocks of Mr Colemans finest tongue scourer and taste bud pick-me-up may cease to become available over here for a while. Or at the very least the prices will rocket due to scarcity. So today, much to my joy and felicity, I found that the product I am so enamoured of might just be marketed under a different name, often seen gracing the same supermarket shelf as the less potent generic 'Yellow' mustard available here in Western BC. Keens. As in 'Keen as mustard', which I am informed is the original recipe.

Blind tastings will be done to confirm (or not) my suspicions. Bugger the volcanoes and the lack of flights from the UK. There will be no Mustard rationing in Western BC. An alternative source has been found. Huzzah! We're all saved!

Excuse me. Despite the current rain and chill today, I'm having a really nice day. TTFN.


The above screenshot was taken off the Radarvirtuel website which tracks aircraft all over the world by their transponders, rather like the currently overloaded flightradar24 site. Three aircraft flying in the whole region. Wow.

Well the AGW folks must be just dancing with joy to see the air traffic over most of Europe shut down. Well, at least not those of their number flying business class to conferences in Cancun, Bali or wherever on jollys to discuss a non-critical (and some would say non-existent)'problem'. Of course my strong suspicion is that they're in the pockets of a well heeled lobby with Carbon Credits to push or taxes to force on an increasingly sceptical public, so who cares, eh? The offending lobby have even been claiming that tiny rises in temperature caused the Icelandic volcanic eruptions. A claim which I'm sure has many Geophysicists either laughing themselves silly or picking their jaws up off the floor at the crassness of such an assertion.

Flight restrictions are due to continue into Sunday until 1pm GMT, and the latest from Iceland is that the offending volcano is still going strong.

The upside is that many are commenting upon how quiet it is without all those pesky hairyplanes bimbling noisily overhead. The downside is the delays to air freight, air mail, and all those wonderful conveniences of modern life which get delivered in the hold of a 747 or similar. Have asked family and friends to keep an eye on the situation and take some elementary precautions.

Glad I don't own any airline shares.

Friday, 16 April 2010


In haste to post I got a little geographically challenged and would like to correct my error. See above an annotated geological map with the sites of historical significance (Red dots) indicating their position and relevance on volcanic fault systems to the current eruptions (Red squares).

For more in depth coverage of the geology, may I recommend this Ph.d Field trip web site which I found highly informative on the geology of the area.

According to some sources, the Katla Volcano partially covered by the Mýrdalsjökull glacier is a little overdue to kick off, as the last big blast was in 1918 and it is known to erupt every 60-80 years. According to some Geophysicists, the current eruptions just over 15km to the west might just do it, although no undue rumblings have been observed recently.

Looks possible that the current no-fly rule might last a bit longer than this weekend. Oh-oh.

Transatlantic calls

"How are things in that poor country?" I asked my Mother today when I phoned her. She laughed with me and gave me the local news from my old stamping ground. She's well provisioned in case this Icelandic eruption results in food shortages in the UK. Full freezer and larder, but then Ma always was one with her priorities right, bless her. I warned her about the possibility of serious acid rain, and we had a chuckle about that. "Maybe it'll catch Gordon Brown out in the open." She said, and the vision of old Jonah Brown screaming "I'm melting! I'M MELTEEEEENG!" like the Wicked Witch of the West while dissolving in a sudden downpour raised a belly laugh.

The word is that everyone she knows are bored to tears with the anodyne politics spewed out by the main three parties, and she's voting for an Independent who speaks his mind. Siblings will probably vote similarly, although in a different constituency. Not that it will make any difference unless the political mould is well and truly shattered, and politicians start taking their orders from constituents once more. Not supra national bodies like the EU and well paid lobbyists like at present.

From the infamous "We are the masters now" (mis?)quotation heard from the Labour side of the House I've always understood that at that moment the balance between voter and politician underwent a paradigm shift. The politicians think that they are masters when they are actually elected to serve. If they truly think that then we are backsliding to a Feudal system with Lords and Peasantry, which the current political elite seem to want. FFS! We're supposed to be in the go-ahead progressive enlightened 21st century where the sky is no longer the limit and humans can go anywhere they damn well please, or am I dreadfully out of touch here? Perhaps this is so. Comfortable complacency has done for active democracy, which only a few crusty old die-hards really believed in anyway. The rest would cheerfully trade in their birthright for the proverbial 'mess of pottage'.

I'd be one of the voices shouting "Wake up you dozy buggers!" at the UK electorate if I thought it would do any good. Regrettably my eyes have been opened to the laziness and avarice of a society that has never really known true hardship. No-one starves unless they're on an extreme diet or hunger strike. The 'elf 'n safety culture robs people of decision making abilities and the choice of taking real risks. I often wonder why I waste my time mentioning it.

"Enough now, Bill. Enough." Says my inner voice. "Take a day off me old chum."

Good idea. I have a new life. Time to get on with it.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Inverted facts

Seen in the UK Torygraph regarding disruption to flights caused by the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland while referring to the Laki event of 1783;
"The amount of gas produced was enough to cause increase temperatures for a whole summer."
Apart from being shocking grammar for such a publication it's also the exact opposite of what happened. The Laki event caused lower regional temperatures, the Sulphur Dioxide and other volcanic emissions resulting in the death of crops and livestock. I swear that the Wikipedia entry has been doctored since I last checked it out. This article from NASA reports up to a three degrees Celsius cooling due to particulate matter blocking solar radiation.
The Laki event had such a significant impact on the climate because it released large amounts of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. When combined with water vapor, the gas formed into tiny particles called aerosols that reduced incoming solar radiation, cooling the average temperature over Northern Hemisphere land masses by as much as 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer of 1783, as simulated with the computer model. Tree ring data also showed significantly reduced tree growth in the summer of 1783, indicative of the coolest summer of the last 400 years in northwestern Alaska, while tree growth in parts of Siberia was the least in 500-600 years.

Increase my arse! The only increase is in the levels of article doctoring and outright bullshit. Orwell would be shaking his head in amazement.

Update: It might be a good idea to get livestock and pets indoors and wear acid resistant headgear, as the stink of Sulphur has reportedly reached Bergen in Norway. I'm assuming that the same stink will soon head south. Sulphur Dioxide + rain = Acid rain. Concentrated acid rain is not a good thing whichever way you measure the world.

In addition, some scientific papers have cited a 'hotter' summer in 1783, yet the Eruption of June 8th would have not impacted on the regional weather immediately. Yet the Winter of 1783-4 was renowned as a bad one. This does not bode well. I wouldn't be banking on too many barbecue days this Summer in Europe if the eruption continues. Over here we're discussing installing a second wood burning stove and looking at cutting another two trees for the woodpile. Just in case.

Update on the update: Have just been going through various historical reports of the 1783 eruption and hope like hell this years volcanic belch won't result / hasn't resulted in serious hydrogen fluoride emissions like in the 18th century. That means Hydrofluoric acid rain, a damn sight nastier than Sulphuric acid rain. So treat your wet weather gear with that Teflon based stuff.

In the meantime, my family back in Britain are being cautioned to ensure the freezer is full, and that there are a few extra cans on the shelf ,just in case. A lot of Britain's food is flown in, and stocks of food are generally delivered on a 'just in time' basis. There may be a risk of shortages if the 'no fly' rule continues for longer than three days, and Britain is far from self sufficient in food production.

If I'm overstating my case, all they'll have is a full freezer, slightly overstocked larder and perhaps some better waterproofed outdoor gear. No doubt my family will tell me off for being foolish. Or more foolish than usual. If I'm right, I don't really want to think about it. Today, and for the duration of the eruption, I want to be wrong.


That was the noise Mrs S made upon reading the news that all non emergency flights out of the UK are grounded because of dust kicked up by an Icelandic volcano. This has been coming a while because the fault currently spewing dust into the air faster than a Chinese Coal Manufactory is often known to kick off following other recent eruptions of an adjoining fault system. Norway has been similarly afflicted by the dust, so no surprises there.

When volcanic activity can have an immediate modifying effect upon the weather (Clouds of ash filtering out solar energy - How's them renewables workin' out for ya?), and the current failure of all those clever computer climate models to predict anything, what does perplex me is the continuing United Nations political circus deciding that a global tax on carbon can control the Earth's climate. The UN must be full of very clever people who are doing what very clever people often do; assume they are so clever they can't be wrong. Even when it is patently clear to even the meanest intelligence the postulation that CO2 levels are a primary climate driver simply ain't working. As many Geologists keep pointing out, CO2 temperature rises lag temperature by around 800 years, the Vostok ice core record proves it, and all the rhetoric to the contrary won't change that.

It occurs to my limited cognition that there must be some kind of cleverness event horizon, which once crossed, nosedives into extreme stupid. This must be why extremely academically clever people are often poor decision makers. For proof; how many members of MENSA are multi-millionaires? Not that many.

This is why Academics and Theorisers need Technicians and Engineers who can turn (or not) their nebulous theoretical castles in the air into clanking, whirring reality. Technicians and Engineers are (At least in my experience) generally aware at some level of their limitations, yet ironically are often the translators of cleverness. I cite the builder of the worlds first electronic computer, Thomas H Flowers, a Post Office Telephone Engineer as such an example. Turing was the 'Genius', as was Max Newman, but Flowers actually built 'Colossus'.

Notwithstanding, none of this helps if your transatlantic flight has been cancelled in case volcanic dust causes catastrophic failure of your airliners engines and causes it to drop precipitously out of the sky. There are some things that can be fixed in flight, and Jet engines aren't one of them. Well, certainly not while on a near vertical downwards trajectory at any rate.

Hi ho. Gorgeous morning here in Western BC and I am going to take lots of sun breaks whilst writing reports.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

It's the 70's all over again

The final proof of this blog posts title is that the musical 'Hair' has been resurrected and is playing in the West End of London.

Bloody hell fire.

Whatever next? No. Don't tell me, let me guess. The Conservatives will win a small overall majority. The following year a massive industrial dispute (Probably public sector) will force a Conservative government with a narrow majority to 'go to the country'. Whereupon the great British public will return a Labour Administration which will finish the great work of screwing Britain's economy once and for all. Said Administration will have to visit the IMF for a bailout. Then the country of my birth will circle the plughole three times before disappearing down an economic black hole. The EU, finding that there is no more money to be squeezed out of Britain or Germany will begin to fold for lack of cash.

This time there is no Thatcher to rescue Britain. Say what you like about the mighty Mrs (Now Baroness) T. She made us take the bad medicine and cut out the dead economic wood. This time the state suckled 'entitled' generation will not let that happen. Then they will be the first to the barricades when there's nothing left to fund their idle lifestyles.

Faced with an imbalance of funds flowing into the great European Federal project the EU will militarise or implode and disintegrate. Then silence. Nothing but utter blackness and fading laughter, apart from after dinner Cognac and Coffee, with a selection of tantalising Desserts from the trolley. There may also be cheese and crackers.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Just a thought

What with all this row over the Vatican denial, and other people making accusations of child molestation by some Catholic priests. I thought I'd make my own, brief observation; it's nothing new. Been going on for centuries.

How do I know? Weeell over twenty years ago I was researching a Novel length project about a little known Anglo Saxon hero purported to have lived in the early to mid tenth century. Wrote about 50,000 words on my old Imperial Safari (Just before buying my first 'pooter) in the early eighties before the project ran out of steam. One of the little snippets I came across whilst doing research was reference to a law passed by Athelstan, Grandson of Alfred and 'First King of all the Angles' forbidding a child and priest to be alone with each other without a third party (Parent or guardian) present.

Interesting what you dredge up, isn't it?

Monday, 12 April 2010

Where's my Longbow?

"Rise, and rise again, until Lambs become Lions." Great line. Looking forward to this one. Tickets will be booked shortly.

This looks promising as well;

May looks like being a cracking movie month.

Die Facebook! Die!

It's like being a member of one of those bloody secret societies whose rules include the dictum that once you've joined, the only way out is feet first. Back in September 2009, I sent a request to delete my Facebook account. As far as I was concerned, that was that. This week I started getting Facebook 'friend' requests from commercial spammers. I went to the facebook login only to find my 'dead' account had been reactivated, despite following the instructions for deletion. The spammers have been added to my spam filter where their e-mails will rot unread and unmourned before final deletion. As for Facebook, what do you have to do? stick a stake through its URL and bury the wretched thing at a forgotten crossroads at midnight? I'd do the E-Suicide thing, but I only want to delete my Facebook account for the worthless waste of time that it is.

Today I have had to waste an hour of my time altering the privacy settings on said account so that only confirmed 'friends' could see it rather than go through all the nonsense of trying to delete the bloody thing again. Not that I left anything on there of any note to see.

With regard to spam. My opinion of spammed products is this; anyone who spams e-mail or Facebook accounts does not have a product worthy of market. I wouldn't buy said products if you paid me triple their price. Spam, at least in my eyes, reduces the product for sale to worthless dross, be it wonderful fake Rolex watches powered by cockroaches, coloured chalk pressed into tablets and sold as painkillers or treatment for erectile dysfunction, or even incomprehensible adverts for Chinese or Japanese porn and / or prostitutes. Oh yes, I forgot drug taking paraphernalia, that's worthless crap too. You know who you are.

Guess who said this

“Education has failed in a very serious way to convey the most important lesson science can teach: skepticism”

Click on the link to find out.

Scepticism? From this guy? You a feather down me could knocked have with. Holy out of context Blatman? This from the person quoted as calling for 'sceptics' to be thrown in jail back in '08? Good gravy! Will wonders ever begin?

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Conversations with Canadians part 1

Spent yesterday evening with friends talking about, amongst many other things, how the Health Services operate here. As well as their day jobs, said friends periodically work as volunteers for a charity providing health care in economically depressed countries all over the world. One friend is Senior Manager within Vancouver Island Health Authority. Will see them today and pop the question; what would you do if someone within your Health Authority allowed an activist to use one of your databases for a political campaign.

I have the strangest feeling that the words "They'd never work in Canadian medicine again" might find their way tripping delightfully into the conversation. As far as health care is concerned, Canadians have things called ethics, which currently seem to be rather out of fashion in Britain at the time of writing.

It's also rather ironic that despite all the hoopla about obesity and alcohol consumption in Britain it seems that these things are on the increase. Well I suppose if you're being hectored all the time about what you're not allowed to do, extra booze and some comfort eating might just take the edge off it.

Friday, 9 April 2010

A guide for UK politicians - financing law and order

Regardless who wins there are going to have to be significant cuts in public services following the UK General Election, including in the area of law and order. Here is a simple suggestion from the 1970's on how some cuts may be ameliorated by raising funds directly from the private sector.

Especially if the Chief Constable wants to keep those oh-so-important 'Senior Business Analysts' with the Met or 'Internal Communications Officers' at Avon & Somerset.

As many a front line Copper on Response has been heard to remark in world weary tones; "You couldn't make it up."

You heard it here first.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

A guide for UK Politicians - How to fix the Health Service

As envisaged by the Goodies. Watch the videos - Nothing much changes, eh?
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Why should I vote for you?

As predicted on this blog a few days ago, the UK election is for 6th May and the usual "Vote for me and my focus group driven policies." Has swung into high gear. I've been having a nose through the three main parties web sites, and discovered the following fundamental differences;

The UK's Economy and Employment....................................

The UK Health System..........................................................

The UK Education System.....................................................

The UK Justice System..........................................................

A 'better' future....................................................................

The Environment..................................................................

Muffled guffaw.

UKIP seems to be the only rational answer, but to be honest it doesn't matter who gets elected. In the UK at least for the next few years economically speaking it's going to hurt. Lots.

Monday, 5 April 2010

A scientist speaks out

From 'At last the 1948 show'. Pure comedy gold.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Greenpeace are coming to get you

Seen first at Bishop Hill's blog. Greenpeace just stepped outside the law with this gorgeous piece of foot in mouth disease;
We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work.

And we be many, but you be few.
Of course the challenges were immediate, such as;

You just crossed the line into being a terrorist organization.

Of course there's been a lot of hurried backtracking and weasel words about 'non-violent means'; but let's say some Greenpeace activists, as they will in their zeal to get at the 'deniers', step over the line; the resultant legal fallout will bury Greenpeace. The first blow struck. The first damage to a sceptics property. The first harassment of a known sceptic in their job, of their family, of their friends. All that can and shall be tracked back to this single Greenpeace sanctioned official threat. Ouch.

With those ill chosen words open warfare has been declared upon the unbelievers over the poor application of scientific method by the church of the true believers in man made climate change. May I, amongst I suspect many others, point out the following;
It wasn't the sceptics making false scare story claims over dubious science.
It wasn't the sceptics who exaggerated.
It wasn't the sceptics failing to fact check.
It wasn't the sceptics who tried to squash debate to advance their own cause.
Who was it?

The fallout I suspect, will be that a well funded media machine has been beaten by a bunch of sceptical amateurs. Amateurs who have done what they did for no other reason than to uphold the integrity of science. Amateurs who broke Climategate when the lamestream wouldn't touch it. Amateurs who found and publicised the false assertions in IPCC reports. Amateurs who offered an open and honest scientific debate and all Green'peace' had to offer of any substance was a direct threat.

Ooh boy. Someone's in trouble and it ain't the sceptics. Guffaw. Chortle.

Today I became rather hacked off because the tail end of a storm knocked the power out while I was half way through cooking supper. I have now been officially cheered up.

Update: As suspected, weasel words have taken the place of the offending blog, including this little gem;
Of course the anti-science brigade on the web has seized on the line in Gene’s post and run with it (and will run and run and run), taken it out of context and run with it some more – it’s what the climate contrarians exist to do.
'Anti-science'? That's a bit rich isn't it considering the thinly-veiled-scare-story-press-releases-masquerading-as-scientific-reports that Greensleaze seem to specialise in.

Cheeky sods. One thing Greensleaze doesn't do is science. It does scary stories to frighten the kiddies. Not impressed.

Election date UK

Well the UK is definitely having an election on the 6th of May. Confirmed. A little tweety bird just told me that temporary electoral workers have been asked to keep this day free. No other dates have been mentioned.

If the British electorate returns yet another Labour government, I will know for certain that all my ex-countrymen are suffering from a collective insanity not seen since the last time. The Tories may be a bit sleazy, but at least they don't pick your pocket and call it 'a future fair for all'.

Muffled guffaw.

So many by so few

Like the dog to his vomit I return to the online pages of the Daily Telegraph to encounter the same shit different day. More fool me. A visit to the columns of James Delingpole and Christopher Booker shows a veritable catfight between the 'True Believer' and 'Sceptic' factions in the argument over Man made Climate change. I rarely comment because you only get dragged into long pointless arguments over what constitutes 'evidence'. The one thing that strikes me is that although there may be two to four hundred comments on each story, the commenters appear to be a vociferous hard core of less than fifteen to twenty in number, with several posters using multiple ID's. Especially on Delingpole's blog. It's a veritable valley of the Trolls in there I tell you.

As far as I'm concerned the whole boondoggle is a big 'not proven and economic suicide if implemented'. Like much of the rest of humanity, I'm more concerned about where the next paycheck / meal is coming from than what some wildly speculating politician / media figure / pressure group / Fund-hungry researcher says will happen fifty or ninety years from now. I mean, look at all the doomsaying predictions from the last century that didn't come true. My point precisely.

Time for a nice bacon and egg breakfast with fresh oranges and good coffee. Chores to do, transatlantic calls to make, friends to visit.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Are the British arresting bloggers now?

Oo-er. Breaking news just picked up from Grumpy old twat's blog, posted by Tractorstats. Grumpy Old Twat has gone missing presumed arrested and imprisoned for unspecified offences.

Is this true? Just what the kerfuffle is going on? Even if said blogger is to be released at 7am UK time on Sunday. Very strange.

Update: I call self publicising shenanigans. It's a 'read me' stunt. OH wasn't involved or he'd have blogged it. Guys, you're off my sidebar. April 1st was last week.

Website blocking back in the heinous UK digital economy bill? Anti-establishment Bloggers going missing? In a democracy? Sorry, forgot. The UK isn't a democracy any more. Hasn't even got an elected Prime Minister.

Laugh of the day; Grauniad article claiming teachers automatically 'mark down' children with less than cerulean skin tones. Mrs S guffawed at that one. Her response; "Mark them down? - You daren't." Besides, most examination marking is done anonymously, isn't it?

As for this little gem;

Yes, yes, please. Back to the Eighties. Not the nine o'clock news, Blackadder, The Young Ones, Spitting Image, the beginning of Red Dwarf. A comedy gold mine.

As for this stupid statement;
David Miliband said: "It was a very different Britain. It was a meaner, more brutal Britain. David Cameron joined the Conservative Party in the 1980s because he admired much of what Mrs Thatcher was doing."
He obviously doesn't recall the events that made the early privations of the 1980's necessary. Idiot.

Although I won't be going back to the UK in any case. I like it too much here in BC.

H/t Cranmer and Dick Puddlecote

Here and there

Been perusing the news from the UK after we got our power restored (Again) today after the recent storm. BC's major resource (Trees) have been cutting power lines by falling on them in a typically Canadian and ecologically sustainable way. Our local power and cable companies respond in a typically Canadian and ecologically sustainable way using chainsaws. Dead tree is sustainably converted into logs which are recycled into log burning stoves, clearing space for new, more vigorous timber to grow, or left to mulch down, returning its nutrients to the soil. Storm caused power outages where we live out in the boonies following said storm have lasted less than nine hours in total. By contrast, a similar intensity storm in the UK has left people without power five days later. Ouch.

Locally, Federal and City taxes have stayed roughly the same overall. In the UK, comparable taxes are significantly up. Just as an aside, it's worth noting that if we ditched the so-called 'green' taxation locally, taxes would have actually fallen. Things are tight for everyone, but even to my limited intellect it seems like a poor economic choice to stick public sector spending and taxes up during a de facto economic depression. Something has to give.

Did I mention that all my old mates, stuck in the UK are jealous? Heh, heh, heh.

Friday, 2 April 2010


Bit of a hairy time weatherwise down in our little enclave. A big storm is ruffling Western BC's feathers and looks like it will be with us for the next 24 hours. Trees are down cutting power lines. We had a six hour power cut this morning, next door neighbour got an improved view when a big fir bordering their property got about fifteen metres trimmed off its top. That's right, not feet, metres, as in just short of fifty feet. Over on our side of the fence, a swing seat weighing just short of two hundred pounds got blown into the pool twice in the same afternoon. When our Landlord and I lassoed it and hauled the saturated thing out of the water it must have weighed more like four hundred. Quite comical the way the feet stuck out the water like some submerged plastic statue of a cow. An afternoon trip into town took us through torrential rain along tree debris strewn roads, twigs and small branches dropping down, and at one mildly alarming juncture a power cable laid across a main drag with cars driving blithely over it.

What excitement eh? Did ask God whether all this storminess was on the back of yesterdays mildly irreverent post. His response; "I don't do weather.".

Did have a look at the lamestream TV, but after about ten headache inducing minutes waiting for the Weather forecast, we elected to watch an old movie. You can only be patronised so much by plastic perfect people telling you how wonderful your sad, sterile life would be if only you would purchase their marvellous product. Yeah, well if it's that good, how come you got to advertise so much?

Pass the paracetamol.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Good Friday thoughts

In my quieter moments I occasionally talk to God. Honestly. Not in the Churchy, on your knees or face down kissing the floor type of thing which he says is flattering and terribly sweet, but looks rather undignified, and on one of his occasional off days, plain hilarious; but rather in a two buddies out for a beer kind of way. Like as follows;
Bill; "Great sunrise God. You're on form this morning."
God; "Cheers, Bill. Nice to see talent appreciated."
Bill; "Yeah, pity about Monday. Shocking. Too much grey."
God; "I know. I was a bit preoccupied."
Bill; "Really? I thought you were above all that. It's not Dawkins is it?"
God; "Oh good me no. Best advertising I've got is old Dicky. Love the man."
Bill; "Yeah, but Dawkins is always trying to prove you don't exist."
God; "Cute isn't he? Great at giving priests a kick up the arse. Pious bastards."
Bill; "You don't like priests?"
God; "Not really."
Bill; "Hold up a minute. Aren't priests supposed to be your representatives on Earth?"
God; "Look Bill, you're mostly a fairly smart guy, but sometimes you're thicker than a plank sandwich. How many churches and faiths are there?"
Bill; "Er, quite a few."
God; "And which one is the right one?"
Bill; "Ermm........ Dunno."
God; "Exactly! Pass me another beer will you? Now what I'm saying is this. Holy Joe preacher wanders off into wilderness to find me."
Bill; "Hang on, you're omniscient. He doesn't need to visit the wilderness."
God; "Good boy. That's what I try to tell them. Do they listen? No."
Bill; "Eh? So how come they cook up all these religions."
God; "No idea."
Bill; "Yeah but you're all seeing all knowing, right?"
God; "Yup."
Bill; "So couldn't you straighten matters out by doing something?"
God; "Last time I tried it got old JC here nailed to a tree. He's still upset about it two thousand years on."
JC ; "Bloody priests. Be nice to everyone I said, and the next thing I know there's this bloody Roman Legionary giving me a sympathetic nod as he's hammering the nails in. Hurts you know."
God; "All right, all right. No need to keep hammering it in."
JC ; "But that's exactly what they did."
God; "Enough Joshua. No use dredging up the past. Bill here was asking why I don't intervene more and I was trying to explain."
JC ; "Waste of time. I'd just build extra space in hell and recruit more demons."
God; "Now, now. That's enough. You see Bill, the problem is this free will malarkey. It's built in. Most people don't use it. Well perhaps they misuse it is what I'm trying to say."
Bill; "Right. So you're telling me you don't do miracles and that?"
God; "No... Tell a lie, I do sometimes do the odd one to keep my hand in. Or rather I send the Angels off to have a bit of a laugh. Gabriel is a right sod, and Michael, well, let's just say he likes to play fast and loose. Tinkers, the pair of 'em."
Bill; "So what have all the religions and temples got to do with you?"
God; "Dunno. Never go there."
Bill; "Hold up a minute. So all these big temples are...?"
God; "Just bricks and mortar, and sometimes just odd bits of stone."
Bill; "Blood and sand!"
God; "That's been tried, too. The religion game has been known to attract some fairly bloodthirsty types."
Bill; "So religion is..?"
God; "Nothing to do with me. Are we going fishing this evening?"
Bill; "Why not?"

BTW. God likes Monty Python. Here's his favourite bit from 'Monty Python and the Holy grail', although he says the beard makes him look too much like Karl Marx.
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