Wednesday, 30 June 2010

You what!?

Apparently our colonial cousins to the South (at least their Administration) seem to be having a major attack of the stupids. They are awarding one of the greatest enemies of British personal liberty ever the 'Liberty Medal'. This award is allegedly given to those whose actions represent the founding principles of the United States.

In the words of ex-Tennis Champion John McInroe; "You cannot be serious!"

The Yanks are awarding a medal celebrating 'freedom' to a person whose government created over a thousand new criminal offences? Someone, somewhere has lost it big time. Said award, like the Nobel 'Peace Prize', is now devalued to a worthless political backhander. A backslap between professional politicians. Nothing more. Then again, maybe that's all these political awards ever are. I hope it's not taxpayer dollar they're giving him.

You know, there have been times I've fervently wished Blairs (and Browns) lungs would spontaneously combust so I could pointedly refuse to piss down his throat to put out the conflagration. Clucking bell.

Mind you, the medal is being awarded by Bill Clinton, so perhaps the Americans have discovered the true art of irony after all. I need a drink.

H/T Angry Exile

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

I must have a heart of stone

...Because I didn't cry at 'Toy Story 3'. Laughed a fair bit though.

Youngest, Mrs S and I all trooped off to the local multiplex last night to see for ourselves what all the hype was about.

Overall I'd say not the funniest of the franchise, and a bit too mawkish in places for my tastes, but it gave our chuckle muscles a workout. Lots of dark humour too, which made it not so much of a childrens movie. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't been to see either the 2 or 3D versions, but Disney has come a long way from their old 'family' production values.

Verdict; I'd go and see it again. One for the video collection to cheer you up on a cold winters day. Tip; stay and watch the animated end titles. The gags don't stop even if the movie has, and people are already rushing for the car park.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Icelandic volcanoes

I'm keeping the Icelandic Volcano reports going for the moment because people keep hitting this blog for information, and yes, well, I have a dilettante's interest in the subject. FYI, if you want reasonably reliable reports on what unpronounceable Icelandic mountain might or might not blow it's top and disrupt your transatlantic travel plans, the Icelandic Met Office have a useful map here.

Bárdarbunga is about due for its once a century biggie, but that means nothing in geologic terms. Although there's been a fair few seismic rumblings to indicate possible activity.

Askja has a lot of underground grumbling, and if you believe some sources, may be sizing up for a blow, but then again, low level tremor activity on it's own means little. There are a number of other factors involved. The seismic activity has to come closer to the surface and there's generally ground deformation up to and including formation of a Lava dome. Even then the eruptive process can seem to stall for years before any anything dramatic and newsworthy happens.

My own screen grab above has the names of the relevant major volcanic vent systems pasted in for reference, and I can't help but wish for Theistareykjarbunga to blow its stack, simply for the perverse pleasure of listening to pompous TV reporters cocking it up live on air and forever after on Youtube. Not that this is likely as that particular basaltic shield volcano hasn't had a serious eruption for 3000-2700 years.

Despite recent advances in predictive technology, watching volcanoes seems to me like waiting for a kettle to boil. You know it's going to happen some time, but as for the when and where, it happens when it happens. So there you go.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Which country do I belong to?

This is an interesting question. Having lived over here in BC for the past three years, I found my day to day thoughts on the matter challenged by Youngest this morning. I made a sarcastic remark about the piss poor playing performance (They pay them how much?) of the England team in the 2010 World Cup, and she shot back; "You shouldn't be disrespectful of your country."
My reaction was; whose country?

This gave me pause for thought; I've still got the accent of course, but the question this raises is; am I still English? I would say not. My reasoning is that since I left the shores of England both it and I have changed irrevocably. As far as I'm concerned, arch traitor Gordon Brown signed the Lisbon Treaty and effectively overnight changed my citizenship status. Without either my tacit or overt consent. Does that make me a refugee of sorts?

Hey, nobody asked me whether or not I wanted to be a 'Citizen of Europe'. We were promised referendums on the subject, but nothing happened. True, I was born English of mixed antecedents and still have a UK passport. My Canadian residency status is still officially 'temporary' pending confirmation of 'permanent' but somehow I don't feel English any more. Mrs S and I both have a BC Driving license, health insurance bank account, Job and credit cards. We recycle extensively because we want to, not because we might be fined if we didn't. We do our bulk monthly shopping at Costco and buy fresh veg closer to home. We're members of several local societies and attend meetings. We volunteer. We fit in here.

Tell you the truth I'm beginning to prefer watching Ice Hockey to Rugby, or Baseball to Cricket. Not one hundred percent sure of the rules, but then that was always the case with Cricket or Rugby.

This blog of course, predominantly links with UK bloggers perhaps because I need someone to feel sorry for. To sympathise with. Sometimes I think it's like having sympatico for a small fish struggling on an oversize hook, or someone in an abusive relationship who can't simply walk away. All you can do is watch and make comment.

A grand day out, photoessay style.

Drove over to the Surfer Enclave at Tofino with Youngest and Mrs S yesterday. I got some sand between my toes...... Pity about the rain.
Dropped by at a Surfers beach and watched all those athletic types getting wet in and out of the Pacific surf.  We stayed in the van.

There was supposed to be an Ursus americanus vancouveri in this picture, but Mrs S was on camera duty, the Bear did a runner as I slowed down, and she missed the shot.   Tsk.
Dropped by the Mars Bomber base at Sproat Lake. Those things are bloody massive. Unfortunately they close at weekends, so no guided tour. However, I got my pictures anyhow.

Saw one on the water, and another undergoing a refit in the yard.

Snow on the peaks overlooking Port Alberni.  Odd.  I thought with all this global warming we're supposed to be having that all the snow was supposed to be gone by now.
Ah well, this is what happens when you rely on dodgy statistical reports based on press releases and wishful thinking instead of measuring things properly.
On the way back, Mrs S took over the driving and the sun came out. We stopped off at Cathedral Grove to look at some very big trees and let the dog water a couple. He seemed spoilt for choice. Can't think why.

Back in time for a late tea after which Mrs S and I sat up to watch The Hurt Locker on DVD.  Elsewhere in Canada, people were rioting about globalisation and shouting at politicians hunkered down behind riot police and chain link fencing. My thoughts; Good, the miserable buggers weren't where we were.

Overall, a thoroughly pleasant and relaxing day. I'm having a lot of those at present.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Nail. The. The. Hit. Head. On.

An interesting view which has much to commend it. One which reinforces my long held belief that the most important words in English are 'Please' and 'Thank you'.


BTW: Gratitude to Theo Spark, upon whose blog I found this vid, and Darleen Click from Protein Wisdom. Thank you.

I'd write you a letter......

........but I can't spell thr$#@*&p?pp!

Having a lovely time. Pool is at 86 Fahrenheit and the sun is shining. Only one meeting today and I've already done it. Patchy blogging will continue.

Muffin the Mule on Angel Dust

Richard North, of EU Referendum fame, posts that James Delingpole, blogging on the Torygraph has been referred to as 'Muffin the Mule on Angel Dust'.

Richard makes mention that he couldn't find an image of said phenomenon, but after ten seconds ceaseless searching, I found this picture of Muffin and friends 'partying'.  Although no drug paraphernalia can be seen in the image, one look in the eyes tells the pathetic story of a fallen from grace celebrity living out the twilight of his years in a soporific drug fuelled stupor.

Like the whole 'Man Made Climate Change' fiction; a sad tale from which one may derive much moral instruction.  Poor old Muffin.

Correction: It was Delingpole referring to 'Greenies like Monbiot' as Muffin the Mule on Angel Dust. Although this correction doesn't change the moral of the story.

Momentary lapse. Sorry. Damn this Alzheimers. It's not as good as my old one used to be. Back to work.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

So very true

Saw a bumper sticker in a joke shop which echoed this sentiment.  Just thought I'd jazz it up a little and post it.  Sort of along the lines of "Guns don't kill people.  People with guns kill people."

Religion, whilst ordinarily a fine thing can be taken a little too far.  Millions of dead people can't be wrong.  Heavy sigh.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

40,000 Die unnecessarily?

Dropped by the Torygraph yesterday PM after work, and looked at this headline with a certain yawning feeling of Deja vu. According to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, 40,000 people a year come to an untimely end because of too much fat and salt. The proponents of said dietary knowledge, would like to see the following;

  1. Low-salt and low-fat foods should be sold more cheaply than their unhealthy counterparts, through the use of subsidies if necessary;
  2. Advertising of 'unhealthy' foods should be banned until after 9pm and planning laws should be used to restrict the number of fast food outlets, especially near schools;
  3. The Common Agricultural Policy should focus more on public health, ensuring farmers are paid to produce 'healthier' foods;
  4. Action should also be taken to introduce a “traffic light” food labelling system, even though the European Parliament recently voted against this;
  5. Local authorities must act to encourage walking and cycling and public sector caterers must provide healthier meals;
  6. All lobbying of the Government and its agencies by the food and drink industry should be fully disclosed. 
Well, there's a whole rake of things to make busybodies and prodnoses all over the UK leap for joy.  But hold up a minute; Mrs S has placed a tome on my desk by a Mr Gary Taubes called 'Good Calories and Bad Calories' and pointed at the conclusions Mr Taubes draws, which take serious and carefully reasoned issue with conventional wisdom on the matter of diet and what constitutes 'healthy' food.  What if conventional wisdom is in error?  What if the 'obesity epidemic' is more due to excess sugars and starches in the modern diet, not fats?

Let me try and explain simply.  Anything sweet is made from a sugar, and starch is merely a complex sugar or polysaccharide.which breaks down into sugars as it passes through the digestive system   I learned that in Junior High.  It's easy to prove.  Take a piece of starchy food, a piece of bread for example, and chew it for a couple of minutes.  As your saliva begins the process of breaking down the bread it will begin to taste sweet. That sweetness is the starches beginning to break down into their component sugars as the long chain polysaccharides are attacked by the Salivary Amylase in your mouth.  Bread, Potatoes and Pasta are packed with starches.  Potatoes being mainly Starch, and Pasta, being made from Durum Wheat, is also packed with starch.  What are crisps and fries made out of?  Bingo!  Got it in one.  Potatoes.  Full of Carbohydrates in the form of sugars and starches.  Which, claims Mr Taubes, particularly refined Carbohydrates like white bread and pasta, raise insulin levels, promoting the storage of fat.  Zing!  Cue an 'obesity epidemic'.

From personal experience I find that cutting out the carbs make the excess pounds simply melt away with a little healthy exercise. No morning bowl of cereal, no added sugar, no 'convenience' foods.  This may mean Mr Kelloggs and Messrs Tate & Lyle shareholders find their holdings devalued, but so what?   I'm also pretty sure that too little salt in the diet has a significant risk factor, especially if you have been sweating a lot, and / or passing a lot of fluids.   Why else are salt tablets recommended under those circumstances to help alleviate muscle cramps?  Unless you've got kidney problems you should excrete all the excess salt anyway, and the amounts needed to harm you are a whole lot higher than the 5 grammes a day that is recommended..

So if what Mr Taubes says is true, then butties, pasta and spuds should all attract the proposed surcharges, not because of their fat content, but because of the starch.  The same for 'low-fat' or 'healthy' options packed with starches as filler to replace the fat.  Ergo; cheaper steaks, eggs, milk, cheeses, as under the NICE recommendations, all would attract extra production subsidies.  As an aside this would also mean subsidies for cheaper non starchy vegetables like sprouts and cabbage, but then you can't have everything.  I always stir fry them with garlic and chilli anyway.

The only thing I'd agree with on the above list is that all lobbying by food and drug companies should be banned, or at the very least put in the public domain.  This to include any organisation in receipt of monies from government or their agencies.  In other words, fake charities who can't exist solely on the largesse of the general public.

Sounds good to me.

Monday, 21 June 2010

The end of the world - again?

I'm thinking of resurrecting the 'End of the World Sweepstake' as reports of predicted massive solar flares surface in the media. NOAA warning of a big one in 2013. Must be a slow news day, eh? Right, so we're all supposed to panic and tell the Government to 'do something'. Like what? Sensible suggestions on the back of a postcard please.

Besides, what is this 'Carrington Event' they're all gabbling on about? According to the Wikipedia entry, these things happen roughly every 500 years. Has it been 500 years since 1859? No? Oh.  If we are due a biggish Coronal Mass Ejection, I'd put my money on something like the 1989 event. Not the series of events described. Considering the current solar cycle (24) appears to be a closish match for Sunspot cycle 5, from the depths of the Little Ice Age circa 1798. Comparing like measuring methods with like, not counting every pixel, like SOHO currently allows.

There's also the question about how much damage similar events actually do. In 1989 such an event blacked out the Hydro-Quebec power grid but little lasting damage seemed to have occurred. Since then, much work has been done to protect power grids from damaging surges.

Regarding catastrophic power outages, solar instigated or not, the last biggie was in August 2003, which can be upsetting if you have a predominantly urban lifestyle. Yet did we hear much about this event outside of North America? Well I've got a pretty good memory, and on those dates I was touring Europe with Mrs S on my old Motorcycle in the middle of a heatwave. As I recall we were in Florence, Italy on those dates. There was widespread news of abandoned grannies stifling to death in the heat of Parisian suburbs, and how this meant we were all doomed, but little else.

You know what?  I'm tired of all this scaremongering.  It's like those sad acts you see on Saturday street corners shouting about 'second comings' and other pseudo religious idiocy.  Incidentally, JC has told me personally that he's not making a comeback tour because he recalls all too clearly what you bastards did to him last time. So there. Also, the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse won't be turning up any time soon because they've sold their steeds and got a cosy little gig as a Jazz Quartet in New Yorks theatre district. Although they do moonlight weekdays as mercenaries in various African states. Just to keep their eye in. The Sun also seems to be looking for auditions.

All the above leads me to think this NOAA 'scary flare' story is just a press release to put in a bid for extra funding. Besides, if all the Mayan calendar predictions come true in 2012, we won't be here in 2013 to see another end of the world event. Phew, what a relief, eh?

Oh bugger it. Time for coffee.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

It's amazing what you find via the comments

Meandering through the 'comments' section of the dear old Torygraph this morning, this little link caught my eye. 'Con with the wind' about wind turbines and the energy they fail to deliver, but also a grab bag of known problems, nebulous anxieties, spurious allegations, and corruption.

"Con With The Wind" Official Trailer from Nick Brummitt on Vimeo.

A bit of a Curates egg, I feel. Although not without merit.

Still think the best form of 'green' power is Hydro Electricity.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Well, so much for that prediction then

Absolutely superb day weatherwise, half of which was spent chilling in the pool after a mornings voluntary endeavour which left everyone with a smile. The forecast was for showers, but where were they? Bright blue skies all day.

Well smack my thighs, I think this calls for an Eighties moment with this old chestnut;

Now it's time to step awaaay from the keyboard.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Nice day, well sorta

Had a pleasant morning and Les Girls dropped me off at an old family friends house while the Memsahib of said gaff went lunching and shopping with Mrs S and Youngest. Old family friend and I watched a lacklustre England play a slightly less so Algeria before declaring the game 'pretty awful' and switching off. Found the constant Vuvuzela noise in the background somewhat akin to a Junior Motocross event going on two blocks away, the sound reminded me that much of 125cc Two stroke motorcycle engines.

Having switched off the TV, we drank tea, fixed his garden sprinkler system, looked up old Atlases and generally rattled about this and that until our respective family members returned. After that I ran a couple of errands, picked up some fresh veg for the weekends repasts, with an emphasis on stir fries and salads. Then back to the barn to christen the outdoor pool.

On the whole, a pleasant sunny day has been enjoyed by all. Well, apart from the footie. England were pretty dire and I found myself wondering; "How much do they pay these guys?" I've seen disappointing performances before, but oh my. Waiting for the goddamn adverts and trailers to finish was bad enough. As if I needed another reason not to want to watch TV any more.

This concludes any further posts on football, the World Cup and anything related to it. Time for a whiskey.

I really don't know how to make matters more transparent

Comment spam and advertising thinly disguised as comments are not tolerated. They are deleted immediately upon discovery. To put it succinctly;
The second word of my instruction to all comment spammers and advertisers is 'off'. Verstehen sie?

Now I'm off for a family day out. TTFN.

Thursday, 17 June 2010


Being a Whiskey purist, I was always brought up to never, ever adulterate Whiskey with anything. No water. No ice; and mixers, including soda, are strictly for those of dubious morality, poor education, and little taste.

What I do when drinking Whiskey is to chill the glass in the freezer for twenty minutes prior to pouring myself a generous measure, no more. Drinking neat scotch out of a cold glass seems to bring out the flavour like nothing else can, especially in a single malt like Talisker. Not so shabby for Jamesons either.

Youngest, knowing my weakness for a good single malt, brought a duty free bottle of my favourite tipple with her. Out of a cold glass you get all the flavours of the drink, and elements you don't ordinarily taste out of a glass at room temperature. The glass is chilled. I am chilled. Youngest is officially in my good books and can do no wrong.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Because it's a sunny day...

We're off on a family outing to do what Tom Lehrer suggests...

Heh, heh, heh.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Why don't spammers try to sell you what you really want?

While patently ignoring the World Cup and all the whining about a differing sort of irritating noise, I periodically clear out my e-mails spam filter and find myself wondering why the only spam I get is from pharmaceutical vendors, purveyors of cockroach powered timepieces, the incomprehensible and inscrutable sellers of Japanese and Chinese 'adult' goods, fake financial services and the occasional Nigerian charity scam. Who wants that shit anyway? I certainly don't.

I mean, come on guys. How about trying to sell me something I want for a change? Not that I'm likely to trust any of you, but give it the old college try, eh? A lightweight Kayak maybe, or six months supply of Sleemans Honey Brown Lager, bargain Alaskan cruises, All Terrain Vehicles and car repair products at rock bottom prices.

Nah, that's too much to ask.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Lifelong learning

One of the pieces of advice my father gave me, or rather one of his little aphorisms that stuck in my head was; "If you stop learning, you might as well stop breathing." Which, like sons do, I took to heart in my own way. Used to drive Dad nuts the way I often had my nose stuck in a textbook, because the learning he had in mind was mostly practical. For me, the learning process has covered a life full of evening classes, block release at technical college, and an Elephants Child's insatiable curiosity only partially slaked in libraries and technical manuals. Therefore when Mrs S sent me this article by Charles D. Hayes, I took an interest and found myself nodding along to much of the content.
Compulsory schooling, whose purpose is to outlaw ignorance, seems instead to have certified it on a grand scale. The anti-intellectual attitudes of millions of so-called educated people serve as living proof. More to be pitied than those who have fallen through the "educational" cracks are those who have been intellectually lobotomized in the name of learning. Marking time in lives of stultifying mediocrity, with no strong interests in much of anything, they put up with jobs they hate and pretend to enjoy the mindless entertainment they pursue to compensate.
Go have a look; be challenged.

For my part I am content. Youngest has arrived safely and is sleeping off her Jet lag. She dozed off last night reading our copy of Milan Kundera's 'the unbearable lightness of being'. I've just spoken to the landlord who tells me the pool is ready for use. The sun is shining. Our family is on holiday for the next couple of weeks.

I do so hope I'm going to have a nice day.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

An interesting idea

On how to manage fish stocks and begin to put an end to overfishing.

Enlightened self interest solves a potential crisis? Who'd ha' thunk it?

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Hey up

Popped over to the Icelandic Met Office web site and saw what looks like significant grumblings in the Katla caldera over the last 48 hours. May be something, may be nothing.

My concerns are as always with travelling family. Youngest is due in Vancouver tonight, and Mrs S is going over to pick her up and go shopping tomorrow. Being a mere male, I don't get the whole shopping thing and always refer to the apocryphal story of the Cowboy who visits a city mall for the first time and remarks; "Never saw so much stuff I didn't want to buy."

The thought occurs that if Katla does decide to go pop, by the time any eruption belches it's way up through the crust, Youngest will be safely ensconced over here in BC and relaxing by the pool. We may even get the cover off this week. Providing we get enough sunshine for the solar collectors to do their stuff, that is.

What the hell, I'm relatively happy. I found a nagging engine management problem with my truck yesterday and fixed it at no cost, apart from the time of digging through endless auto repair forums. Turned out to be a water temperature sensor that was shorting out. A clean and some WD-40 later and the engine is running like a bird.

Friday, 11 June 2010

How to slice billions off deficits

I keep on reading that both the UK and US Governments are in serious financial trouble. They have massive bills that they simply can't pay, or rather the taxpaying public is going to have to stump up for, unto the third generation.

What I also keep reading about are the huge tranches of funds that are spent on various committees and, in the UK's case QUANGO's (Quasi-Governmental Non Government Organisations). These committees seem to have large amounts of public money at their beck and call, yet I've nary to see a one of them do anything but be sinecures for members of what were in earlier times deemed the 'awkward squad'. Activists, retired trade union leaders, Party political peers and friends of the not so great and not so good. All involved in what under examination seem to be little more than sinecures.

One of the most diverse and well funded seems to be involved in 'fighting climate change'. Well (Now here comes the predictable bit), seeing as the climate is always changing, mostly naturally, is all the cash being thrown around on the back of statistical studies not, well, over reacting a bit? All the movement of green pieces of paper won't alter one drop of rain, or add one cloud to the sky, so why do it? If the 'green' economy can only subsist with massive subsidies, then surely the time has come to pull the plug and invest in more workable technologies. Wind and Solar just aren't working as promised, so perhaps we'll just have to either shut down the Western economies and suffer, or invest in more mainstream technologies. Makes sense to me.

Bingo! Billions wiped off deficits. World economies saved. Half hols for everyone. Not bad work for a Friday. Mine's a beer.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

A problem Deer to this locality

Angry letters have been exchanged in the pages of the local press. Well, as angry as Canadians ever become without resorting to firearms. The cause? One population which seems to be thumbing it's metaphorical nose at extinction scares, to wit; the local Black Tailed Deer.

As you can see, they're quite unabashed by the local human population, and seem to be thriving despite calls for a cull from local gardeners outraged at these saucy even toed ungulates munching their way through the tulips every spring.

These pictures, and a few more besides, were taken around 3:30 Pacific Standard Time in suburban North Nanaimo. The week before, a similar family grouping held up traffic on a main route just off the Island highway. Only one driver sounded his horn at them, the rest simply stopped and waited while the buck and three hinds of the group sauntered from one grazing spot to the other.

Me? I don't mind one way or the other. But it's nice to know if everything does go pear shaped economically as some of the prophets of doom would have us think, there's a ready supply of fresh meat within easy reach. Hey, not only that, it's organic.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


What have I got to say about an urban Fox having a go at two human children?

Reality bites. Literally.

That is all.

Not so Harmonised Sales Tax

Signed up at Costco yesterday with the aim of paring a few dollars off the monthly shopping bill, only to find that businesses are already charging HST before it comes in officially on July 1st. Not that things are all cut and dried by any manner of means. The big anti-HST petition movement has snowballed, and at the time of writing, unless of course the Government can weasel out of their own referendum legislation, a referendum on HST looks inevitable.
The petition will be submitted on July 5 and could lead to a number of possible scenarios, including a review in the legislature, go to a referendum – or even trigger a recall campaign.
Today (June 7), Fight HST campaign organizers announced that they have met that target in all but five of the 85 electoral districts in the province and, in the process, have gathered more than 620,000 names on their petition.
Don't understand all the ins and outs myself, but this article in the Globe and Mail seems helpful.

My level of economic understanding is simple; more taxes won't help an economy grow. At the higher end of the taxation bell curve, extra taxes, especially those that hit the less well off worst, act as a serious hindrance to economic recovery. We need tax to pay for essential government services, but as once wittily observed by someone who has a handle on these matters; taxation is like milking a cow, you need to get the right amount of milk for the minimum amount of Moo. Something like that, anyway.

So where's it coming from?

Yeah, I mean call me a thickie if you like, but where is all this bailout money coming from when everyone appears to be broke? Oh, sorry. Forgot. /facepalm. Taxpayers.

Monday, 7 June 2010

So what happened?

With NATO troops going off to Afghanistan and some not coming back, and others not coming back in the same state they went in, my question is; what's it all for? Especially when you read of how far the Afghans had come in the fifties and sixties. Hospitals, female emancipation, burgeoning industry and a growing economy. Then it all went pear shaped in the early 70's, and by the 90's had reduced the place to a wasteland full of warring tribes. The Soviets came in '79 and got driven out; then there was the Taleban, and what did they achieve? Now? The CIA factbook entry is hardly complementary.

Afghanistan as it was;Once Upon a Time in Mohammad Qayoumi

Well maybe 1950's and 60's Afghanistan wasn't 'perfect' in the eyes of some, but until the crazy people with guns decide it's time to call it a day, or are all shot, their country will forever remain completely fucked.

(Shakes head in saddened disbelief)

H/T Harry's Place

Monday. bloody hell, Monday

Picture taken from our deck first thing this morning with new camera in 'Panoramic' mode.

Seriously cool or what?

How I feel about it all.....

Rather brings a lump to the old throat. Praise God for sunny Canadian mornings. These are the things that keep you going.

Now to work.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Indulging myself

A damp and gloomy day this June 6th, when my thoughts turn to my father, who was a Royal Navy Signalman on LST's (Landing ship, Tank), Juno Beach, D-Day.

To cheer myself up, I shall indulge myself with a few pictures of seaplanes, big boats and yachts seen at the Marine Fair yesterday.
Harbour Air and West Coast Air planes at the dock.

Have a look at the stern of the yacht in the foreground. It's registered in Edmonton, Alberta. Where the hell can you go sailing a boat that size (It's a ninety footer) in Edmonton? Oh, hang on, maybe it's one of those prairie schooners we hear about.

Mrs S and I drooled over this one. Talk about fast and sexy.

Alas, anything bigger than a Kayak is beyond us because like the crab boat below, we too are on a tight budget.

Nevertheless, I took and passed my pleasure craft license first time. Quite chuffed about that really.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Mauna Loa monitoring

When I first heard of a CO2 monitoring station being placed on an active volcano, my first thought was, not unnaturally; "Well of course your CO2 levels are larger, you're on a bleedin' active volcano my lad." Now over at Wattsupwiththat, guest poster Willis Eschenbach has explained carefully why the placement of the worlds primary collector of CO2 data on an active volcano does not necessarily matter.

The article demonstrates that yes, CO2 levels have risen to almost 390ppm (Parts per million, that's 0.00039 of Earth's atmosphere) in the current 'warm' period since an estimated 280ppm around 1800, in the second half of the Little Ice Age. That cannot be in any doubt whatsoever.

On the other hand, I am as yet unpersuaded as to whether this matters a whit, as the linkage of CO2 levels to climate has yet to be proven. There's still the record of the Vostok ice cores which amply demonstrate that CO2 levels appear to lag temperature rises by some 800 years, not lead as the 'true believers' would have us think. Which would 'prove' their hypothesis. Statistically speaking.

Ergo, the CO2 levels we are seeing have their roots back in the 1200's AD. If what the Vostok cores indicate is true, currently increasing levels will begin to drop over the next century or so to return to the levels of the early 1800's by around 2600 AD. So, panic over. Whew, what a relief, eh?

As far as climate is concerned, particulates causing changes in Earth's albedo seem more likely to alter the climate than a transparent trace gas. There is plenty of empirical evidence to prove that assertion, the most recent of which was the post Mt Pinatubo cooling. In my book that's more 'conclusive' because real measurements trump statistical studies every time.

The only warming I'm really fussed about is that we haven't had yet over here on Vancouver Island. However there is a bit of gossip going round saying our usual warm weather is due to return next week.

I bloody well hope so. My farmers tan needs a top up.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Interesting development

The news that Easyjet are going to trial an infra red 'ash cloud avoidance' (AVOID) system is interesting. First tests in two months. The cost to EasyJet? One million pounds this year in development and trials.

Hang on a minute. One million? That's pretty small potatoes for a piece of technology of this much usefulness. On the other hand, it should come as no real surprise that this technology has become available, since the systems developer, Dr Fred Prata, has been working in this field for some time.

Now if only a fraction of the funding thrown at the non-problem of Warble Gloaming had been pushed into dealing with the known travel related problems of volcanic eruptions and their particulates, maybe we wouldn't have had all the air travel disruption in May.
On the other hand, I note sadly, perhaps the 'authorities' would have closed airspace regardless. Because it's pretty clear the disruption and airspace closures were mostly a big arse covering exercise by ignorant people without the knowledge to do their jobs properly.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


Watching the developments from the other side of the pond, I'm sorely tempted to wince sympathetically for my poor compatriot souls stuck in the UK. On the other hand, I'm also desperately trying not to be smug and say 'told you so'. Having got rid of one set of incompetent control freaks, the British electorate have just gone and taken on another. When are you guys over there going to get tired of the same old same old and wake up a bit?

Being a gentleman of some life experience, I would like to offer a few axiomatic phrases, which may have some bearing on the situation.
  1. Banning stuff is not the answer.
  2. Don't like other people's personal habits like drinking, smoking, or eating meat or dressing differently? Get over it. Sometimes you have to just accept that's how things are.
  3. Don't like what's happening in your street? - Political and /or Religious dogma is not the answer. They're often the source of the bloody problem.
  4. Getting out and actually discussing things with friends and neighbours and applying your own non-violent solutions works better than lawyers or other third parties.
  5. Victims are simply that and rarely anything more until they grow a pair and engage with the world instead of hiding from it.
In my previous incarnation I recall getting into a prolonged comments discussion regarding problem neighbourhoods with someone who seemed to want nothing more than be a victim. They simply wouldn't accept that if they decided to switch off the idiot box and get out of the house once in a while, their life might become, well, better. They might have even made some surprising new friends, but perhaps that is what they were afraid of.

The world, if you believe the lamestream media, is a big, bad and vewy fwightening place for poor ickle bunnies. I say it's amazing how kind people can be if you ask them politely and treat them as fellow human beings. Speaking as one who has had to deal with groups of angry people (Often at me) and survived, I won't say the experience isn't scary, but then, so is motorcycling, free fall parachuting and bungee jumping.

People who talk and don't let themselves get socially isolated or marginalised don't do things like this. World Weary calls him 'scum', but without knowing more about the guys background I'm not so sure. I will say that he should have been shot down like a mad dog in the street because that is what he had become, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Especially as Gadget reminds everyone, the only armed Police response is probably miles away and so tied up in 'elf 'n safetee and procedures that they would have been less than useful.

In Canada, the RCMP and Provincial Police are routinely armed. This I support. I say a properly trained and armed officer on the spot could probably have prevented the Cumbrian massacre by either shooting the man or forcing him to put down his gun. Similarly, proper enforcement of the handgun regulations and a sharp word could have prevented the Dunblane massacre. I also say Capital punishment for the crime of murder is also a good idea because it prevents a second offence. How many murderers have killed after serving a jail term? The answers might surprise you. Just a thought.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Ebola: a possible cure?

Just picked this piece up from the Lancet about 'curing' Ebola in Animal test subjects. This is massive news, as previous testing had only managed to 'cure' Guinea pigs. Which was pretty handy if Mr Snuggles has got out of his cage and taken a trip to Zaire, where the disease seems most prevalent.

Now that researchers have gotten the treatment to work of Primates, it is only a matter of time before some kind of human clinical trials can begin. No doubt there will be side effects to the treatment or drug, but when the alternative is internally and externally bleeding to death, well, call me Mr Silly but I'll take the side effects every time. This is hopeful news. Technology does it again.

H/T This post at Genomics, Evolution and Pseudoscience.

New camera

Hooray! At last Mrs S and I have been able to agree on and purchase a new camera. To wit, a Fujifilm Finepix AV100 from which the results have been better than expected. The top shot was taken through our spotterscope of two of the local Bald Eagle population some three hundred metres away overlooking the shoreline. The poor focus is down to my camera technique more than anything, as otherwise the AV100 turns out crisp detailed shots you normally pay a lot more for. I also need to build a stable mounting point for the spotterscope which will allow far better focusing, as hand held is no good at all. We bought the little point and shoot locally for CDN$89.00. Which isn't a bad price for the camera and its two year warranty. Might invest in a bigger, faster SD card as problems are reported in HD Movie mode with older, slower SD cards. 8 gig should do the trick.

As for the outside world? More volcanoes erupting, Hamas 'Aid' convoy picks fight with Israeli security and the usual suspects get their panties in a bunch. UK Capital Gains Tax changes will financially hurt those (Like Mrs S and I-more fool us) who have UK investments over GBP2000. Met Office still making dire predictions (That have a worse track record than Mystic Meg). British MP funded gay lover on expenses yet says he will 'continue as MP' (and serve whom, may one ask?). Popes private library opened to researcher (But no later than 1939, mind) and the Gulf oil leak is still going strong despite the boy presidents 'personal' intervention.

Hi ho, off to work I go. Might snap some stuff along the way. There's bugger all I can do about the rest.
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