February 28, 2011
The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) Project
Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature
The number of active temperature stations over time in our preliminary data set as compared to that provided by GHCN-M. The decrease in the GHCN-M station count is a consequence of their inclusion criteria, and can be avoided by different methodology.
Can a group of scientists in California end the war on climate change? | Science | The Guardian
The Berkeley Earth project. The aim is so simple that the complexity and magnitude of the undertaking is easy to miss. Starting from scratch, with new computer tools and more data than has ever been used, they will arrive at an independent assessment of global warming. The team will also make every piece of data it uses 1.6bn data points freely available on a website. It will post its workings alongside, including full information on how more than 100 years of data from thousands of instruments around the world are stitched together to give a historic record of the planet's temperature.
"We are bringing the spirit of science back to a subject that has become too argumentative and too contentious," Muller says, over a cup of tea. "We are an independent, non-political, non-partisan group. We will gather the data, do the analysis, present the results and make all of it available. There will be no spin, whatever we find."
Excellent news - will the other "climate scientists" welcome it?
Of course it won't, in the words of the Guardian, bring an end to the war on Global Warming. Having a better data set of temperatures says nothing about causes, but may give some clues.
February 27, 2011
Sunday Afternoon Film - A Real Navy At Work
It's not the heart attack but the tarmac that will kill you
Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain Quarterly Provisional Estimates Q3 2010
Pedestrian, motorcycle and car user casualties reported to the police showed overall reductions of 3, 8 and 4 per cent respectively compared with the year ending September 2009. The number of pedestrian and motorcycle users reported killed or seriously injured both fell by 8 per cent whilst car user KSI casualties fell by 11 per cent. However, the total number of reported pedal cycle casualties rose by 3 per cent, and the number killed or seriously injured rose by 2 per cent.
The latest figures(P) are for Q3 of 2010:
6,160 pedestrians get killed or injured (severely or slightly), 5,620 motorcyclists and 5,440 pedal cyclists.
On the basis that most pushbikers I know shrug off the normal scrapes and bruises of everyday falls then that is an underestimate. (Pedestrians if they get hurt, get hurt and it gets reported, ditto motorcyclists).
It's not the heart attacks that are the problem for the bloody cyclists, it is living long enough to get into the risk age group.
You Are All Closet Far-Right Nutters
A Populus poll found that 48% of the population would consider supporting a new anti-immigration party committed to challenging Islamist extremism, and would support policies to make it statutory for all public buildings to fly the flag of St George or the union flag.
According to the survey, 39% of Asian Britons, 34% of white Britons and 21% of black Britons wanted all immigration into the UK to be stopped permanently, or at least until the economy improved. And 43% of Asian Britons, 63% of white Britons and 17% of black Britons agreed with the statement that "immigration into Britain has been a bad thing for the country". Just over half of respondents – 52% – agreed with the proposition that "Muslims create problems in the UK".
The poll also identified a majority keen to be allowed to openly criticise religion, with 60% believing they "should be allowed to say whatever they believe about religion". By contrast, fewer than half – 42% – said "people should be allowed to say whatever they believe about race".
Jon Cruddas said that the findings pointed to a "very real threat of a new potent political constituency built around an assertive English nationalism". The report identified a resurgence of English identity, with 39% preferring to call themselves English rather than British. Just 5% labelled themselves European.
The Sunday Guardian's take on this is that these are all "far-right" views" and it is only because because skinhead thugs run the far-right parties that all these people don't join them.
There used to be a strong left-wing leveller English nationalism, Tony Benn and Billy Bragg come to mind. There is even, dare I mention it, a notion that nationalism and socialism go together. The BNP certainly is a socialist party. But to the lazy hacks it is all far-right, what ever that means.
Ireland Not Green
The Green Party have been completely wiped out.
Fianna Fáil and the Greens are the losers of this General Election
No Green will be elected to the 31st Dáil.
When the going gets tough the luxury of gesture politics has to go.
February 26, 2011
A YOUNG carer from Salisbury took a stand against a wheel clamper in an ordeal lasting 30 hours.
Jessica Davey, 22, barricaded herself in her car outside her home at Wesley Court, Harnham, after her vehicle was clamped in the early hours of Monday morning â despite displaying a valid parking permit.
She was worried her Renault Clio would be towed away and she wouldn't be able to afford to get it back.
For much of the time she was sitting in her car, Miss Davey, who works at Winterbourne Care Home, in London Road, was being watched by clamper Anthony Brindley who was demanding £110 to take the clamp off.
Wear the buggers down.
February 24, 2011
On The Streets of London
A lovely looking bunch outside the US embassy complaining it is all Evil Uncle Sam's fault that Libya isn't free.
I claim five points for spotting the Magic Silver Crutch of Benefit without which seemingly able bodied louts wouldn't be able to live on benefits. A point each for the several subsidised ankle biters and minus points for more headscarfs than the Queen has ever worn at the races...
(I thought I had hit the hippy bonus with the Wiccan pentagram on a red background but it seems it is the Moroccan flag, apologies we don't get much Moroccan here these days, just the hippies.)
If they represent the future of Libya than God help us all.
H/t Mr FM
Mr Squirrel Visits The Castle
Once upon a time a naughty squirrel decided to visit the castle where a big bad man lived. Mr Squirrel ate all the nuts the bad man's wife had put out for the rare Tree Sparrows and then it thought it would see if there were any Tree Sparrow eggs in the box. It chewed and chewed the box until the big bad man saw him doing it out of his office window. The big bad man stopped doing all those silly things he normally does on his computer in the morning and went to find his friend Mr Ruger. Even with the big bad man's old rheumy eyes Mr Ruger's great big seeing tube let him see Mr Squirrel very clearly. And the big shushy quiety thing let him give Mr Squirrel a surprise present from Mr Remington. Mr Squirrel isn't going to bother the nice Sparrows again.
February 23, 2011
In Which The Guardian Fails To Catch Up With Worstall And Other Victorians
Could the rebound effect undermine climate efforts? | Environment | guardian.co.uk
One member of the Guardian's environment desk admits to leaving his energy-saving lightbulbs on more than traditional bulbs. Owners of fuel-efficient cars tend to drive them more often.
These are both examples of an often-overlooked phenomenon which, according to a new report, could undermine attempts to tackle climate change.
The so-called rebound effect occurs when some of the savings from energy efficiency are cancelled out by changes in people's behaviour...The rebound effect is still an under-researched and controversial topic.
It is not so-called "the rebound effect"; last year The Mighty Worstall Organ reminded us that
in 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal-use led to the increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries. He argued that, contrary to common intuition, technological improvements could not be relied upon to reduce fuel consumption.
It is known, not "so-called", as the Jevons paradox, sometimes called the Jevons effect.
(The paper itself does acknowledge Jevons)
Pirates - Send In The Tarts.
Two pirates were killed - one knifed by a member of the US special forces and another shot - when rescuers boarded the yacht. Thirteen pirates were also captured.
"It's a black day for us and also the Americans, but they lost bigger than us," a pirate using the name Bile Hussein said yesterday.
"If they still want a solution and safety for their citizens in the oceans, let them release our men they arrested."
All parties might care to remember the Battle of Derna where the US Marines cleared out a pirate menace on the shores of Africa.
Pirates - who currently hold 30 ships and more than 660 hostages - typically win a multi-million dollar ransom for releasing their captives. The money is often spent on alcohol, drugs and prostitutes.
Western officials have long worried that money from piracy is making its way into the hands of extremists to fund violence in Somalia
Or we could just send them more prostitutes to spend their money on rather than waste it on extremism. We certainly have more of them spare than we have fighting men.
Libya - The EU Acts
LIBYA: European Union suspends trade agreement | Los Angeles Times
"I deplore the loss of life and I condemn all acts of violence,” Ashton told journalists in Cairo. “I call on everyone to exercise restraint," Ashton said.
"We will be suspending the framework agreement, which we are in the process of negotiating," she added.
As far as I can gather that is the entire response the slug has come up with so far. To stop talking to other slugs in comfy rooms in some agreeable location. Though I did catch her talking about the importance of democracy, which was a bit like Katie Price lecturing us on the importance of taste, decency and sexual restraint.
February 22, 2011
Christchurch earthquake: 65 people dead in 'New Zealand's darkest day' - TelegraphA major earthquake in the New Zealand city of Christchurch has left at least 65 people dead, hundreds more injured and toppled buildings in what the prime minister has described as "New Zealand's darkest day".
My thoughts go out to our kith and kin. It is a small community, everyone will be affected.
Most of my family and personal friends are North Islanders so are probably safe but the whole nation are our friends, friends our politicians have shamefully abused. My thoughts and hopes are with them.
(The NZ fern leaf is part of the insignia of The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry)
Jacqboots Smith - I am a poor defenceless "picked on" girlie
Jacqui Smith: My expenses were examined first because I'm a woman - Scotsman.com News
Smith, who posed for the magazine while walking around London's Soho, which has long had a reputation for its thriving sex shop trade, said it was her gender that led to people targeting her claims.
"I know that it was my expenses people looked at first because I was a woman and should have been at home looking after my husband and children," said the mother of two.
No, it was because you were a crook in charge of law and order.
This Morning's Surprise, He Is Still There Clinging To Power
Robert Fisk - Who would have thought it? Once a titan bestriding the stage, a man so full of it he was eponymous to a whole world of journalism. Sometimes these old relics from earlier days just don't know when the younger connected world is telling them it is time to go.
February 21, 2011
Tonight on The Telly - Must Watch
An old friend of the blog airs his story. A shocking story.
Il nʾy a pas de héros pour son valet-de-chambre
Porter leaves St John's after 66 years - The Oxford Student
St John’s has bid farewell to its longest-serving member of staff after 66 years on the job: longer than the Queen has been on the throne.
Peter Cox joined the College as an under-scout in 1945, aged 15, starting immediately after VE day.
Cox saw a lot of famous faces during his time at St John’s, and was able to reel off a list of names of figures as diverse as Francisco Franco, Robert Graves and Princess Margaret.
“One so-called famous person, who I never really had anything to do with, was Tony Blair”, Cox said. “All I know was that he was a long-haired git who played the guitar. But I wouldn’t say he was dreadfully famous.”
I remember him well, I hope he doesn't me.
Presidential Dealings With Gaddafi
What price will we pay for Blair's sordid Faustian pact? | Mail Online
What can Tony Blair, the man who brought Colonel Gaddafi in from the cold, be thinking as he sees his new friend cracking down with such brutal force in Libya?
What will be running through the mind of ‘peacemaker’ Blair as he surveys the funeral marches of protesters coming under machine gun and heavy weapons fire from Gaddafi’s henchmen?
Or as he hears reports of more than 300 being massacred?
....The deal Blair made was utterly shameless. He was to let ‘bygones be bygones’.
Gaddafi’s support for the IRA was among a number of crimes over which a diplomatic silence was drawn.
So was the 1984 incident in which gunmen inside the Libyan Embassy in London opened fire on a group of anti-Gaddafi protesters outside, murdering PC Yvonne Fletcher. And Libyan government responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, the worst terrorist atrocity in modern British history.
By siding with the monstrous Gaddafi, we have deeply antagonised the people of Libya who despise him and who could one day – perhaps very soon – be in charge of the country. If they do take power, Britain is unlikely to be forgiven.
Quite rightly, Foreign Secretary William Hague is rowing away from the Blair era strategy of backing Middle East strong men as fast as he can, and has banned all arms export licences for Libya.
The cost of Blair’s amoral dealings with Colonel Gaddafi will be fully apparent only when his successors come to power. Let’s hope they have the generosity and maturity to let bygones be bygones too. But I doubt they will.
Do read the whole article - it sums up the harm the vacuous and vainglorious Tony has done to our interests. As a better man once said:
Misleading Defence Headlines From The Telegraph
Pah! I thought it might be a useful article about reinstating the concrete blocks and how to weld up some large caltrops and how to hide some AT mines in the begonias. But nothing more than how to put pot plants on your septic. Guess I will have to carry on preparing my defences on my own.
False Alcohol Argument Syndrome
Experts warn of lives lost to drink - Scotsman.com News
The liver death rate in the UK is 11.4 per 100,000 people, more than double that of the other countries with similar drinking cultures and genetic backgrounds, such as Australia, Holland, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.
That's the key statistic that is being used today by a prodnoses demanding a clampdown on booze.
But surely it is saying that the high death rate has nothing to do with booze if similar populations taking a similar dose have widely different outcomes. It would suggest some other factor at work.
What that might be or whether the stats are faulty I don't know, but I do know a false argument when I see one.
But there is some good news:
But there are fears among professionals in the field about plans which will see councils take over responsibility for public health in local communities. A poll of members by the Faculty of Public Health found that one in seven was considering leaving the field because of the reforms, while three per cent had already decided to do so.
February 20, 2011
How Not To Die By Your Friendly State Overseer
Eat less red meat, Government scientists warn - Telegraph
The recommendations will follow the publication of a full report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, which is due within days. The findings are expected to echo the committee's draft report, which found that lower consumption of both red and processed meat would probably reduce the risk of bowel cancer, the second most common cause of cancer death in Britain.
Looks like the rate is plummeting already - see the excellent Mortality Trends for more slicing and dicing of the actual data - for instance the female equivalent graph which shows the same.
So this is a campaign that will be a success, triples all round as the further fall in figures proves that the prodnose intervention was worthwhile as it saved lives.
Living High On The Hog
£1.3m hedgehog cull to save islands' birds eggs 'fails' - Scotsman.com News
EIGHT years on, £1.3 million spent and more than 1500 hedgehogs killed or relocated. But a new report on the attempt to eradicate the animals from the Western Isles in order to protect wading birds says there is no evidence that the culling operation has had any effect.
It also concedes that egg-eating hedgehogs may not be the only culprits in reducing the numbers of wading birds - such as redshank, dunlin and snipe - with the effects of changes to farming practices and increasing flocks of predatory herring gulls also possibly to blame.
However, scientists say they want the board to sanction a more targeted, four-year project to find out whether the hedgehog-eradication programme works at a further cost of close to £1m.
£867 a hedgehog? No wonder they want another million to tidy up the project. For that sort of money you could subsidise a travelling community to move there and bake them in pies... now that is a pest control idea.
February 19, 2011
As I Oil The Coil Of The Hempen
Chris Patten - is there a more obnoxious person infesting our body politic? Glenys Kinnock and Baroness Ashton might come close if it was put to a vote? But votes and democracy are alien to these three and their ilk, so I'm declaring Fatty the winner by fiat; unless you have a better idea.
February 18, 2011
Friday Night is Music Night (Best of Belgium Edition)
And no Plastique to be seen anywhere.
Louise Gray Squirrel
By Louise Gray...
An air rifle can also be used as long as the user is properly qualified. Free shooting of squirrels is also generally accepted as long as the person has a licence and can guarantee a clean kill.
However the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals argue that most people will be incapable of killing a squirrel without causing “unnecessary suffering” and will therefore be in breach of the law. They recommend taking the animal to the vet to be put down for around £30 or calling in pest control experts who will shoot the animal or kill it with a blow to the head.
Bright little dark eyes, chubby cheeks and a sweet twitching nose, they are so cuddly, how could you possibly want to club a grey?
The story rumbles on - it's not worth paying the subscription for - just Google "Convoy Escort Programme" which Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) have been putting together for months. Dobson Fleet Management won the contract to run it sometime ago, so there is no new news.
Pity we don't have a bloody Navy any more that is capable of taking anything more than a tiny boat....
AFP: Royal Navy frees Yemeni fishermen from pirates The Royal Navy has freed five Yemeni fishermen held hostage for three months on their boat, but also had to release the Somali pirates who seized their dhow, officials in London said. The crew of British warship HMS Cornwall discovered the fishermen after carrying out a search of their dhow last Thursday in international waters, the Ministry of Defence said. The fishermen were released and have travelled back to Yemen on their boat, said a ministry statement on Wednesday. The navy also found 17 pirates and an arsenal of weapons on board the dhow which was being used as a "mother ship" to launch attacks. But the Royal Navy were forced to take the captors back to Somalia as it was felt there was not enough evidence to charge them, a ministry spokesman added.
A related thought has been bothering me for a while.
As we know the Chinese are doing huge and increasing amounts of trade with East Africa, but we hardly ever hear of any problems they have with pirates and their vessels, I wonder why that is.
Celebrations in Belgium
What would be a humiliation for many turned into a party for Belgium yesterday as the country's citizens marked 249 days without a government, a figure that they are treating as a world record in political prevarication.
On every other day, the crisis pits the leaders of six million Dutch-speakers against those of four and a half million French speakers, but people from across the country put aside their differences to celebrate the occasion.
In Dutch-speaking Ghent, some people stripped down to their underwear in protest at the situation. In Leuven, a long line of students snaked through the central square for a free portion of frites, Belgium's beloved national dish.
Acting prime minister Yves Leterme cautioned not to make too much of the day. "Don't overestimate the impact on politicians and decision-makers."
Free chips, naked protestors and grumpy politicians concerned that politicians are being inconvenienced in making up policy - what's not to like?
February 17, 2011
Hospital Food - The Petition
More people than ever before are leaving hospital malnourished, according to latest NHS figures. These figures don't explain why this is, but in my view the food they are served in hospital plays a part. I'm Mark Sparrow and I decided to launch the Hospital Food Fight campaign after my experiences in hospital. Mark Sparrow's campaign demands that all NHS hospitals provide patients with tasty, nutritious meals.
BBC Weather Forecasters - We Pay For Expertise
BBC weatherman 'brandished imitation gun' at motorists, court hears - Telegraph
Desune Coleman, 45, is accused of driving alongside a car on the M1 before winding down his window and pointing a gun at the driver.
Coleman worked as a welder after leaving school aged 16 before joining the Guildford School of Acting in Surrey.
After leaving EastEnders in 1999 he had acting roles in shows including The Bill, Casualty and as a reporter on The One Show.
He has also appeared in West End musicals including Miss Saigon, Chicago, Simply Heavenly and Rent and understudied the lead in Trevor Nunn’s musical opera Porgy and Bess.
He worked for BBC Radio Derby before becoming a £33,000 a year weatherman for BBC East Midlands Today in 2007. He also makes occasional local appearances, this month opening a local shop in Derby.
£33,000 a year to read out a couple of five minute forecasts a day on local TV?
I fail to spot his meteorological education so I cynically doubt he has much input into the actual forecast.
There was a time when BBC forecasters were actual forecasters, but now, as on the commercial channels, they seem to just be eye candy or quota fillers.
In Which The RSPB Acknowledge Predator Control Helps Rare Birds
RSPB Scotland said that a drop of up to 50 per cent in the numbers of lapwing, dunlin and curlew in the uplands over the last 25 years was caused by a combination of changes in habitat, including forest edge exposure, grouse moor management intensity and an increase in the population of crows.
Lapwing populations fared better on areas with more intensive grouse moor management and worse where there was high crow numbers.
(Full paper here)
In Which The Friends of the Earth Acknowledge Worstall is Correct
BBC News - 'People are being given too many recycling bins'
Councils are asking householders to sort their rubbish into as many as nine bins to boost recycling, a survey suggests.
On average, the Taxpayers' Alliance pressure group found councils expected residents to sort their household waste into four bins, bags and caddies.
Friends of the Earth's waste campaigner, Julian Kirby, said recycling was hugely popular, with over 80% of households satisfied with their waste and recycling service.
"While some people are frustrated by complicated sorting systems, the Taxpayers' Alliance are missing the point - we don't need lots of bins to have a good recycling service," he said.
"In the simplest, cheapest and most effective services, the binmen sort recyclables from one or two bins into multi-compartment trucks so householders don't have to."
I don't think the TPA is missing the point, it is pointing out that the complicated systems are unhelpful and unwanted.
There is a pressure group of recyclers who push for the public to do their sorting job for free, there are greens who see the toil as a daily obligation to the Goddess Gaia but an ancient economic sage revealed the truth of the costs of sorting and so no one sensible now believes in home sorting.
It may take some time for councils to catch on though.
February 16, 2011
History of Flooding
Floods caused by climate change - Telegraph By Louise Gray.
Devastating floods which wreaked havoc across Britain in 2000 were made more likely by global warming, according to the first study to link flooding in this country to climate change.
Using a detailed computer climate model, developed at the Met Office Hadley Centre, the project team simulated the weather in Autumn 2000, both as it was, and as it might have been had there been no greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the 20th Century.
This was then repeated thousands of times using a global volunteer network of personal computers participating in the climateprediction.net project.
Flood levels, Worcester
Beside the entrance to the Watergate to College Green by Worcester Cathedral some of the flood levels have been marked on the wall. The July 2007 flood level has recently been added (top right) this puts the flood in context with other high floods of the past, the highest in living memory was the flood of March 1947, the mark for this flood on the extreme left and is around one foot higher than the 2007 flood. The larger plaque at the top marks the highest known flood of 1770.
This is an update to a 2007 post here where the 2000 flood level can be seen.
February 15, 2011
Rock Bottom - How To Get It
There have been problems with ordering Geoff Baker's book Rock Bottom through Amazon so here is the link that works: Rock Bottom - Get it Direct
Or the easiest way to order Rock Bottom is to send your order by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will send back a paypal link.
If you ask nicely you may get a signed copy.
(Oh and no that isn't the cover - I didn't have a jpg of it so I found a nice seaside picture to go with the theme of the book.)
You Are What You Read
Top seller a "limpid" account of escaping from the communists, at number three not THE Ian Fleming on improving your performance and number two the old National Socialist himself.
I'm sure this tells us something about Guardian Readers....
Charity Weight Concern said improving the health of workers would also benefit employers' bottom lines.
And what would the fake charity Weight Concern know about profit and loss accounts?
The Chris and Connie Show - Adult Advisory
Connie Hedegaard insists tougher carbon targets will boost European economy | Environment | guardian.co.uk
Europe's climate chief insisted on Monday that tougher greenhouse gas targets would improve the EU's economic performance, rather than push businesses overseas, as companies and green campaigners tussled over whether current emissions goals were too weak.
So if you hobble the horse it is more likely to win the race, in which case those two lumps of dogmeat at the Newbury race must be the bloody winners according to these two twats.
Connie Hedegaard in May 2008, told Denmark, “Sustainable economic growth is an attainable objective. The Nordic Region has made great progress with solutions based on environmental technology, and some day it will be possible to stockpile energy generated from renewable sources such as windmills, and to run vehicles purely on excess energy.”
Chris Huhne, who has been a prime mover behind the plan for higher targets, reacted angrily, telling the Guardian: "The short-termist view of sticking to 20% doesn't cut the mustard. Moving to 30% would give our businesses a head-start in new green industries and get us off the oil hook quicker, insulating us from oil price spikes."
February 14, 2011
French Fear German Guns
Majority of Swiss vote to keep a place in home for firearms - Scotsman.com News
Swiss voters came out strongly in favour of their right to bear arms yesterday, with a clear majority rejecting a plan by churches and women's groups to tighten the nation's liberal gun laws.
Opposition against the proposal was strongest in rural and German-speaking parts of the country, which tend to be more conservative and where shooting clubs are popular.
French-speaking cantons in western Switzerland backed the plan.
No news on how the voting on the proposal to keep white flags in the home fared in different parts of the country....
Rock Bottom - Out Today - Ideal Valentine Gift
BEATLES EX-PR PUBLISHES RUDE ROCK ‘N’ WOE BOOK
After a six-year struggle to get it into print, Geoff Baker - former PR to Paul McCartney, The Beatles and Oasis - is finally publishing his rude, racy and irreverent novel about the music industry.
Rock Bottom is Baker’s black-humored but fond satire which pokes a tongue behind the scenes and between the sheets at almost every aspect of the record business.
The first, limited edition of 1,000 copies will be available on Amazon from February 14th, priced £7.99. It will be published by Ragabond Press, a micro publisher that Baker set up with another former journalist, Jill Newton, after the UK’s mainstream publishers refused to touch his book.
Baker says Rock Bottom is ‘a work of complete and utter fiction’. The 400-page paperback romps and ruts through the conjoined stories of a flagging rock star, his demented PR and a blackmailing fan who threatens to ruin the pop idol’s reputation by unmasking a long-hidden sexual secret.
‘The star, Birmingham-born genius Ian Taylor, is not remotely based on anyone I’ve known,’ said Baker, ‘I made him up and he is as fictional as Henry the Horse who dances the waltz.’
Instead of writing about actual people I’ve worked with, it was more interesting for me to create fictional types of that rock world – the musicians, managers, record company execs – and to have a laugh at what fame can do to people and how it can disastrously affect those who work around the famous.
‘But what was of most interest to me was to make the fan the central character of the book; the fans’ feelings are often overlooked in the music game so I made the fan the heroine for a change.
‘Rock Bottom is basically a celebrity love story, but it’s quite sad in parts – rock ‘n woe, we call it. It is also the flipside of The X-Factor, revealing the madness and misery of making it big, so in some ways it’s a cautionary tale for those who long to see their name in lights.
‘The book is also rather rude. We were thinking of having a Parental Advisory sticker on it as the vernacular of the business is certainly not kids’ stuff and as a word search revealed there are 864 f-words in the book those who dislike bad language might be better off reading Trainspotting instead.’
Although Ian Taylor’s genius but mercurial temperament was drawn from Baker’s imagination,
he admits that various journalist characters who play supporting roles in the lurid drama were partly inspired by old pals from his newspaper days on Fleet Street.
‘I’ll be interested to see if any mates from the hack pack that I used to run with recognize anything of themselves in the book,’ said Baker, 54, ‘A number of them are editors now.’
It has taken Baker more than six years to publish his novel.
‘I wrote the original story in three months, back in 2004. I got a leading literary agent and he enthusiastically sent the manuscript to every major publisher – but none of them would touch it with a bargepole. Four years of rewrites followed, my funds ran out and if it hadn’t been for the support and belief of my wife Amanda throughout it all, I’d be rotting in debtor’s prison.’
‘Pissed off but unbowed’, Baker and Newton – an old Lyme Regis school pal - formed their own micro publishing company, Ragabond Press.
‘Jill and I re-met by chance after having not seen each other for more than 35 years. We talked about the book and realized that as she was trained as an editor and a sub and I was trained as a hack, maybe we could combine our skills for the book’ said Baker.
‘So between us we took on every aspect of getting a book done – editing, proofing, type-setting, layout, design, photography, distribution, marketing, PR, the lot.’
Now Ragabond Press, which is based in Newton and Baker’s home town of Lyme Regis, has seven self-penned books in production and is considering publishing other writers.
‘Rock Bottom comes out on Amazon on February 14 and we’re going to take several months to slowly plug it, just like I used to with a rock album,’ said Baker, whose next project is Ragabond Press’s The Beatles Fanthology, the story of the Fab Four told through the memories and stories of Beatles fans.
Or send an email to email@example.com to cut out the middlemen.
I haven't read it all yet, but what I have is funny, far more touching than I expected, insightful and real page turner. The plot canters along and you want to keep up and know what happens next.
Get a copy, you'll enjoy it.
The ban on designer party drug miaow miaow has failed to reduce its availability and may even have driven some users to harder drugs, according to a new report.
The only surprise is that it is reported.
February 12, 2011
Darwin to a critc
My dear Sir.
I should be very glad of any criticisms on the origin— I imagine you have not finished it. ...
The fair way to view the argument of my book, I think, is to look at Natural Selection as a mere hypothesis (though rendered in some degree probable by the analogy of method of production of domestic races; & by what we know of the struggle for existence) & then to judge whether the mere hypothesis explains a large body of facts in Geographical Distribution, Geological Succession, & more especially in Classification, Homology, Embryology, Rudimentary Organs The hypothesis to me does seem to explain several independent large classes of facts; & this being so, I view the hypothesis as a theory having a high degree of probability of truth. All turns on whether the above classes of facts seem to you satisfactorily explained or not.— The difficulties are great; but they concern the “imperfection of the Geological record,” “means of distribution” & “possibility of transitions of organs” And on these classes of facts we are confessedly ignorant, & we do not know how ignorant.— I simply believe that we are far more ignorant than any one supposed—
Forgive me for troubling you with this harangue, for I should very much like to stagger you,—to pervert you or any good man ought & must require months of self reflection. *
Yours very sincerely | C Darwin.
It may be a vain & silly thing to say, but I believe my Book must be read twice carefully to be fully understood.— You will perhaps think it by no means worth the labour.
*CD and others wrongly suspected that Woodward was the author of an anonymous critical review of Origin published in the Athenæum, 19 November 1859
How very different to how some "scientists" take criticism these days....
373 Dead From Global Warming (or maybe more)
N16.7 Trillion Lost To Climate Change | P.M. NEWS Nigeria
At least N16.7 trillion (US$110 billion) was lost to impact of climate change globally in 2010, says Dr. Kenny Tang of the Oxbridge Weather Capital, London, United Kingdom.
According to Tang, the impact of climate change had been so devastating that property worth $110 billion had been destroyed worldwide while several people had died as a result of massive flooding, tsunamis, hurricane, among others.
Tang disclosed that 375 natural disasters occurred worldwide, adding that 300, 000 people were killed in the disaster with 207 million people affected globally.
He lamented that in Haiti, 200,000 people were killed as a result of heat wave which swept the whole land, while 1,985 others were killed in Pakistan and 3,451 killed in China.
Other reports say: Tang said 373 people were killed and about 250 million affected. He said 220,000 died in Haiti.
That heatwave in Haiti that looked like an earthquake, I wish I knew the truth. As an expert on Sustainable Environmental Finance I'm sure Dr Tang does, and where the money should go.
The Local Jungle Drums Story In Full
My council tax at work. Move breakable objects out of reach before reading.
Have your say here
Happy Darwin Day - And 21st To Son No.2
February 11, 2011
Friday Night is Music Night (Sensible Shoes Edition)
Walk like an Egyptian
All the old paintings on the tombs
They do the sand dance don't you know
If they move too quick (oh whey oh)
They're falling down like a domino
All the kids in the marketplace say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian
The old fool proved all the pundits wrong, how many people has the BBC got out there wittering on about the brave democracy demanders?
Of course an orderly transition would the sensible thing, but we are talking politics and religion so sense doesn't come into it.
Expect it to get ugly, and don't expect democracy.
Trouser Snake Oil Salesmen
Boots the chemist is facing an inquiry by the advertising watchdog into health claims it makes for alternative remedies that are not backed by scientific evidence...continues to sell a £19.91 “Ladycare menopause relief magnet”, worn in women’s knickers, although it has removed unsubstantiated claims that this can treat hot flushes, mood swings, weight gain and low libido and it is no longer on special offer.
Lady Care meet Prince Albert, I know you will be attracted to each other...
Back in 2004 I noted: Totnes has decided not to mark next year's 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar - because it might offend the French.
Totnes councillors feared commemorating Nelson's victory over the French and Spanish could upset their twin town in France.
I was unimpressed by the scabby shabby little resort then but now I read: Totnes in Devon might be the most forward-thinking eco settlement in the world. As fossil-fuel reserves dwindle and the economy contracts, will resident-led Transition Towns become the way that we all live?
There are more new age "characters" than you can shake a rain stick at, more alternative-therapy practitioners per square inch than anywhere else in the UK and the town was once named "capital of new age chic" by Time magazine.
A local currency is central to the Transition plan. "Think of a leaky bucket," explains Brangwyn. "Any time we spend money with a business that's got more links outside the community than in it, we leak money from the local economy. What local currency does is allow that wealth to bounce around in that bucket.
The great plan in Totnes included the planting of 186 hybrid nut trees around town. You can just walk around and help yourself to free nuts, which can only help community cohesion.
Is it something in the water down there?
As You Drive On The M4 Past Reading Consider This
Wind turbine costs more than it saves - Telegraph
The 280ft turbine situated in a business park near the M4 in Reading operated at just 15 per cent of its capacity year, meaning it generated £100,000 of energy, despite attracting subsidies of £130,000 from the Government.
Since 2005, when it began producing energy, the turbine has been subsidised with £600,000 of public money but has run at an average of 17 per cent of its capacity.
February 10, 2011
Oz Alarmism - Have Your Say
Were the devastating floods in Queensland caused by climate change? Quite possibly but not certainly. Was the devastating cyclone in Queensland stronger than it would have been without a changing climate? Quite probably but not certainly. Were the devastating bush fires on Melbourne’s Black Saturday exacerbated by climate change? Very, very likely but not certainly.
What is certain, however, is that the increasing frequency of all those extreme events was predicted by climate scientists long ago. And what is almost equally certain is that they would not have happened at all, or would have been more benign, if we hadn’t been emitting all that CO2 for the last 100 years.
The climate is an angry beast, and we are poking a stick at it.
NOTE: this is an experiment in the blog-review process by Steve Lewandowsky. He'll be recording a podcast in a few days from now so please post comments on this draft which will stay online for 24 hours:
Comments at the link please, but also welcome here.
Global warming theory says cyclones, flooding and droughts will become more commonplace – and it's already happening
As an Australian, it can be somewhat disconcerting when climate bloggers from overseas hold up Australia as a harbinger of what's to come for their own countries. It's not fun being climate change's cautionary tale.
In Australia, farmlands that were parched from years of drought were recently wiped out by floods. Over the past 50 years as the world has warmed, both drought severity and the number of heavy precipitations events have increased. The results are in from the most comprehensive, sophisticated climate model of all – nature.
It's not appropriate to say global warming causes a particular weather event. But it's equally false to say global warming has no effect on weather. Yes, we've had floods and heavy downpours in the past, well before modern global warming. But now the odds of heavy downpours and floods are increasing.
Wait a minute, scoffs the sceptic. How can global warming cause droughts and floods? Aren't you just trying to blame everything on climate change? But increased drought and heavy downpours aren't just predictions from a climate model. They're happening in the real world.
One hopes this rash of extreme weather events will be a wake-up call for an Australian government dragging its feet on climate action. However, the early signs are not encouraging.
A lot of anecdote but a distinct lack of any figures that show the extreme events have actually increased.....
Can you help the Met Office know what the weather is?
Do you have a weather station at home?
We’re planning to enhance our weather observations network by inviting everyone who has a personal weather station, manual or automatic, to send your data to a new website.
We hope this will appeal to schools, amateur meteorologists, and weather enthusiasts across the UK.
This extra data will be extremely useful in monitoring localised extreme weather events such as heavy snow and rain. This Weather Observations Website, which is being produced by the Met Office in partnership with the Royal Meteorological Society, should be launched in early 2011.
I just need a USB connection to the hank of seaweed hanging outside the office door and I'm fit to help them out....
Our Failure Your Fault
Successive British governments have failed to support and promote the organic food and farming sector, according to a damning report. Their failures have left the UK an isolated "lazy man of Europe".
Research from the UK's biggest organic body highlights the low priority given to the sector by "diffident" policy-makers, which it claims led to sales of organic food and drink slumping in the recession while other major European organic markets successfully weathered the storm.
The report, Soil Association : The Lazy Man of Europe....
Ahh, a trade union that demands fees from its members to promote their interests blames the Government for the fact that their members interests haven't been promoted. I don't think we need worry about this report any further.
Wood From Trees
Seeing the wood for the trees - The Forestry Commission’s place in modern Britain - ASI
“In every great monarchy of Europe the sale of the crown
lands would produce a very large sum of money, which, if
applied to the payment of the public debts, would deliver
from mortgage a much greater revenue than any which
those lands have ever afforded to the crown...When the
crown lands had become private property, they would, in
the course of a few years, become well-improved and wellcultivated...the revenue which the crown derives from the
duties of customs and excise, would necessarily increase
with the revenue and consumption of the people.”
Adam Smith, An inquiry into the nature and causes of the
wealth of nations, Book V Chapter II
Hardly needs updating and expanding but the ASI has done so.
The facts are simple but the political truth isn't. Of course the state forests should be sold off, but the middle classes have got themselves into such a tizzy over it that Hulme could power half of London with the backpeddling Ms Spelman is having to do. There is no chance of actually persuading the people on this one, and I suppose it isn't that important, but this is the story of every economy the Government makes. It ends up not happening.
February 9, 2011
Dave The Eurosceptic?
All smiles as a federal Europe creeps closer | The Times
As far as is known, David Cameron showed no discomfort at last Friday’s EU summit when he was presented with the Franco-German plan to create a federal Europe.
Considering Mr Cameron’s Eurosceptic background, the absence of any opposition might have come as a surprise. Why is the British Government apparently so relaxed about this enormous step in the EU’s journey towards full federal statehood, a proposal that would have caused paroxysms for Margaret Thatcher or even John Major?
Answer on a postcard to those Eurosceptics who voted for Dave please.
Bear Model Reveals All
Polar bear families shrinking with the ice through lack of food | The Times
The latest study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, predicts that up to 73 per cent of pregnant females will lose their offspring if the spring sea ice break-up occurs a month earlier than during the 1990s and up to 100 per cent if it occurs two months earlier.
"If climate change continues unabated the viability of the species across much of the Arctic will be in question," said Péter Molnár, a biologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, and lead author of the paper.
Predicting climate change impacts on polar bear litter size : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group
We used multinomial logistic regression models30 on data from 28 pregnant females with known litter sizes to test whether litter size at den emergence can be predicted from maternal age (A), storage energy29 at den entry (E), energy density29 at den entry (E/LBM), or certain combinations of these variables (see Table 1 and Methods for details). The model with only energy density was an excellent predictor of litter size at den emergence (likelihood ratio test, P=0.0004), and the regression probabilities of having one, two or three cubs (Fig. 1) are
28 mummy bears and a computer model, add a couple of scenarios and press the panic button.
Charles Tells EU To Listen To The Grass
Wasting Nature’s capital means financial ruin | The Times
HRH The Prince of Wales
As I will suggest when invited to address the European Parliament today, a solution may lie in developing a deeper understanding of the relationship between economic and environmental resilience. In this way, we may be able to bring about the significant changes in individual and corporate behaviour that, I believe, could stimulate the creation of wealth and jobs while safeguarding our environment.
There is, surely, no way round the fact that we have to move away from our conventional model of growth based, as it is, on the production and consumption of high-carbon-intensity goods. It seems that the current economic system, characterised by a catastrophic decline in biodiversity, increased water scarcity and food insecurity, has little hope of securing our prosperity. The challenge is all the more urgent if, as predicted, the world’s population grows to some nine billion by 2050. We need to meet the challenge of decoupling economic growth from increased consumption in such a way that both the wellbeing of Nature’s ecology and our own economic needs benefit simultaneously.
Decoupling will not, of course, be straightforward. We need urgently to focus on lowering the carbon footprint and environmental impact of our goods throughout their life cycle, from manufacturing and distribution to use and recycling.....
At least "Let them eat cake" was shorter and easier to understand...
February 8, 2011
Do You Like Hospital Food?
Notes from a hospital bed: Words fail me
It's a 'meal' that was served up yesterday to a child a day after he'd undergone an appendectomy.
What is it meant to be? And there is no room for improvement in NHS food?
February 7, 2011
Labour Peer's Jungle Drums
House of Commons - Treasury - Minutes of Evidence
Chairman (Mr John McFall): On that close engagement, if we refer to the Governor's appearance before the Committee two weeks ago today, Wednesday 24 June, I said to him: "If we believe the jungle drums, Governor, the White Paper could be out next week, but you have been consulted on that, have you not?"
John McFall is now Baron McFall of Alcluith and aged 66.
Is he a racist in need of diversity training for using the phrase "Jungle Drums" without apology, or does such vilification only happen to nice old ladies who give their time and expertise to The Big Society? Though if she has any sense she won't bother to again.
Police anti-terror campaign urges public: Go with your gut instincts - Scotsman.com News
Assistant Chief Constable Colin McCashey, head of counter-terrorism in Scotland, has asked members of the public to go with their "gut instinct" if they notice something out of the ordinary
I'm not sure he would like it if I went with my "gut instincts" which might be a tad more physical than just ringing the rozzers.
I hear the sound of distant drums....
The affair began at a meeting of the Wiltshire Involvement Network (WIN), a statutory, independent health watchdog, at a Scout headquarters at Potterne Wick, Devizes.
Members were discussing how gossip can spread when Anna Farquhar, the 70-year-old chairman, said: "You cannot help the jungle drums."
Sonia Carr, a member of the Wiltshire Racial Equality Council who was sitting in the public gallery observing the meeting, intervened to say that a racist term had been used.
Mrs Farquhar said she did not think the remark was racially offensive, but said she was sorry and pressed ahead with the meeting.
Yet Mrs Carr, 50, submitted an official complaint to Wiltshire council – which launched an investigation, produced a 10-page report upholding the complaint, and barred all watchdog members from council premises and meetings.
Mrs Carr said in her complaint that the apology was inadequate, that senior watchdog figures had failed to challenge the "jungle drums" remark, and that watchdog members did not understand "equality and diversity issues".
She is understood to want a full apology and all members of the network to have diversity training.
Mrs Farquhar, from Devizes, told The Sunday Telegraph that she believed "jungle drums" was "a common expression similar to 'grapevine' or 'rumour mill'", and this was the meaning intended.
Phil Matthews, WIN's vice-chairman and a member of the local Coalition Against Racism, said: "It was an innocent comment, a widely used phrase and certainly nothing that should have led to a formal complaint."
"I am outraged at how we have been treated. It's the worst kind of political correctness. Anna's remark was nothing to do with race.
"You might expect this from loony Left councils in the big cities, but you don't expect it in the Tory shires.
I have been unable to unearth how much the Salisbury Coalition Against Racism costs the local taxpayer but I have a feeling it is too much....
Do check out the other videos of Bill Callaghan's tours of the Tower....
February 6, 2011
Gideon's Idiot Idea
Wealthy non-doms are facing a crackdown on their tax perks as the Treasury seeks new sources of revenue to spread the financial pain.
George Osborne, the chancellor, is considering a new levy on Britain's 120,000 non-doms, which he could signal as early as next month's Budget. It would be used to help lift the income tax threshold for the lowest-paid to £10,000 and reduce the burden on the middle class.
David Cameron says in an interview today he "would love to see tax reductions" but they are not possible when Britain is borrowing 11% of its GDP.
Non-doms are people living in Britain who claim a foreign connection that entitles them to avoid tax on overseas earnings and assets. Gordon Brown introduced a £30,000 annual charge on those who have lived here for seven years, but that has raised barely £160m a year, a quarter of the predicted sum.
Only a quarter, I wonder why that could be? Not even a rounding error in the sums but caused an exodus of talent, enterprise and money. And now he wants to try and tax the even more mobile high flyers (the proposals to extend the tax to less permanent non-doms).
As Boris would say:
Ὄρνιθος ἀγαθῆς ᾠὰ χρυσᾶ τικτούσης
ὁ δεσπότης ἐνόμισεν ἐντὸς εὑρήσειν
χρυσοῦ μέγιστον ὄγκον, ὅνπερ ὠδίνειν·
θύσας δὲ ταύτην εὗρε τὴν φύσιν πάσαις
τὰ πάνθ' ὁμοίην οὖσαν. ἀθρόως δ' ἕξειν
μέγιστον ὄλβον ἐλπίσας τε καὶ σπεύσας
ἀπεστερήθη τοῦ τὰ μικρὰ κερδαίνειν.
Guardian Green Writer Confused By The Optics And Ice
Greenland's race for minerals threatens culture on the edge of existence | World news | The Observer
There has been much discussion in Greenland and elsewhere about the first sunrise this year in Ilulissat, down the coast. For the first time in living memory, the sun rose above the horizon two days early – a phenomenon that has baffled Greenlanders and scientists.
Currently, some believe that the most plausible explanation is, as you might expect, global warming. It is thought that the Greenland ice sheet and the glaciers surrounding the town are melting so rapidly that it is now possible to see a lower part of the horizon that was previously hidden by the ice.
So the Sunday Guardian is channelling The Daily Mail who first broke this story. It isn't baffling anyone with more than half a brain.
Greenland's Early Sunrise « The Half-Astrophysicist Blog...from the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen university.
It is an atmospheric phenomenon known as inversion: When temperature is lower at the surface than it is higher up in the atmosphere, light is bend so it looks like the sun is coming up before it really is.
Two days later the opposite thing happened and the sun came up "too late".
The reason why we dont see this things that often at lower latitudes is simply that the amount of atmosphere the sunlight must pass through is much longer up north. And inversion occurs much more frequently uphere.
Global warming has got nothing to do with it. And the inversion has happened before and that is why the sun seems to behave irregularly up here.
Green on Green
Green factory plan 'threatens bird habitat' - Scotsman.com News
PLANS for a new factory to provide equipment for green energy have been criticised by environmentalists, who claim it will destroy a protected reserve for migratory birds.... the proposals, which would develop more than 200 acres of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), would destroy an important habitat for rare species such as the bar-tailed godwit and the red-breasted merganser, as well as more common birds such as oystercatchers, curlew, redshank, wigeon and ring plover.
In a masterplan document outlining its proposals for the area, Clydeport states that Hunterston is "ideally located" for the renewables market, pointing to its proximity to offshore windfarms on Kintyre and Argyll.
A spokeswoman for Scottish Natural Heritage said: "We're aware that Hunterston is one of the sites being considered for renewables manufacture. We would have serious concerns, but would set these in context of the social and economic importance of the development, which we have to consider."
In other words if it says its a "green factory" it will be OK to trash an SSSI...
February 4, 2011
Friday Night is Music Night (Sweet Chariot Edition)
And a short version as it should be done...
Tonight I Will Be Mainly Watching The Game At The Pub
Plebs Getting Spoilt - Government Acts
Eat shoots and leaves - but in the right order - Scotsman.com News
RHUBARB is in and strawberries are out. Scots would only tuck into "in season" produce under the latest plans to transform the nation's health and eating habits.
Dubbed "Eat In Season", the government hopes it will lead to people eating better food, saving money and adopting a more "sustainable" lifestyle choice.
The government believes shoppers have become spoiled by supermarkets shipping in all kinds of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables all year round.
Haggis, 'neeps and porridge only until August then.
Aerial view of a drought-affected area within the Amazon basin in Manaus, Brazil. Photograph: Rodrigo Baleia/LatinContent/Getty Images
Strange how the drought ravaged Amazonian forest hasn't got many dead trees and looks very like old parkland which we have managed for centuries for livestock and timber....
February 3, 2011
Her Majesty's Royal Wusses
A Malaysian Navy patrol ship opened fire on pirates that had boarded the MV Bunga Laurei off the Comoros. Commandos fired more than 600 rounds before the pirates surrendered.
Perhaps Kenya's navy has the answer. Its patrol craft covertly operate a shoot-to-kill, take-no-prisoners policy. The Tanzanians almost certainly do the same. The safest ships of all are flying the Russian flag: armed guards aboard them simply blow pirate boats out of the water and leave any survivors to drown. Attacks on Russian vessels have abruptly ceased.
Our own Royal Navy has shown its muscle only once: in November 2008, a frigate returned fire on pirates who had fired at it, and two of the attackers were killed. But a Ministry of Defence directive since has forbidden RN captains to confront or arrest pirates "for fear of breaching their human rights".
Ye gods, how low have we sunk. A bit more rum and the lash I think needed on board.
Hat tip to a reader for sending that to me.
Tonight I Have Mainly Been Eating Ham Cooked in Ginger Beer
I have previously confessed; An Englishman's Castle: Nigella's urges have made me into white trash but when a man is tired of Nigella what does he do to ginger up his life?
Cook the ham in Ginger Beer instead.
Full fat ginger beer with sugars, not sweeteners.
If needed it can be diluted to ensure it covers a ham in a pan.
Boil for the requisite time.
When cooked take out and let cool for ten minutes or so, glaze fat with simple mix, golden syrup with mixed spice or mustard/honey/cloves and bake for twenty minutes to get it golden.
Lovely hot and great cold, just a touch of ginger in the meat, and the fat absorbs all the flavours to tingle your tongue.
Oh Goody A Natural Disaster Is What We Need
Professor Vicky Pope told me recently, a warmer world is a wetter world as more water evaporates from the oceans, although the extra rain is unlikely to fall evenly across the globe. "Also in general, as more energy and moisture is put into the atmosphere [by warming], the likelihood of storms, hurricanes and tornadoes increases," said Pope, head of climate change advice at the UK Met Office.
Immediate attention should be upon those in danger from Yasi. But a big question in the aftermath will be whether the battering Australia has taken from extreme weather, on top of its recent long drought, will shift the country's stubborn streak of sceptical opinion on climate change. Climate sceptics, as elsewhere, are firmly in the minority, but their viewpoint appears to have become more popular in recent years.
Following the recent general election - seen by some as the world's first climate change election - cyclone Yasi could be a tipping point for opinion, suggest observers.
Of course he insists he isn't href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2011/feb/02/cyclone-yasi-australia-climate?commentpage=1#comment-9403428">saying this extreme event is linked to climate change, he is just hoping that ignorance and fear will play into the warmist camp.
February 2, 2011
218,592 reasons for open govenrment
A cash-strapped council which has one of Britain's highest-paid chief executives has banned a petition calling for her salary to be cut.
The e-petition calling for a reduction in the £218,592 salary of Suffolk County Council chief executive Andrea Hill was placed on the authority's website.
But council officials removed it from the site after just seven people had had a chance to sign it, ruling that the subject matter was 'inappropriate' as the council did not have the power to cut her salary.
Suffolk County Council Petitions
I wish to request a significant reduction in Andrea Hill's salary
Outrage as petition calling for council boss to take a pay cut is deleted - mirror.co.uk
The county council “de-activated” it 24 hours later...
(Note to hacks - it hasn't been deleted, just closed to new signatures, haven't any of you heard of a tool called Google?)
A riverside view Blog reports: Eric Whitfield, Suffolk County Council’s Monitoring Officer, said: “The council’s provision for receiving and dealing with e-petitions is included in its constitution and reflects the legislation and the national guidance for local authorities set out in the government’s model scheme. “Full council is not able to vote on the alteration of individual terms and conditions. “It was therefore my view, as the council’s monitoring officer, that this petition was inappropriate as it was calling for the council to take action which it is not lawfully able to take.”
So the council is so bloody useless they can't review job contracts and so banning the petition is the right thing to do. Bet your boss was pleased you came to that view - except the petition only had seven signatures and would have lingered in obscurity. Because you banned it, it is now in all the papers and Suffolk Council and Andrea's £218,592 are being reviled everywhere...
Murderers To Concentrate On Flower Arranging
NHS managers ordered to look at environmental impact of decisions | Environment | The Guardian
Flower arranging classes for ulcer patients, water-powered air conditioning for hospitals and instructions to doctors on using the correct bin – all are key elements of a greener future for the National Health Service to be set out today.
Health service managers will be handed a "route map" laying out some of the measures they need to take to meet the government's greenhouse gas targets
Meanwhile in the real world Traction Man points out:
Two patients a day die in our hospitals for want of a drink of water. According to figures released by the National Office of Statistics and reported in the Daily Mail, some 800 patients die of dehydration in our hospitals every year.
The figures for deaths through malnutrition in our hospitals stand at 284 in 2008, that’s up from 175 deaths recorded back in 1997. And those figures are just the officially recorded cause of death. The true figures may never be known but we do know that a large number of elderly patients have their health impacted by poor nutrition.
As with dehydration, some of these figures could include people who had serious illnesses such as stomach cancer – meaning not all the cases are necessarily due to neglect.
Rhonda Smith, of malnutrition charity Bapen, said the death certificates massively underestimated the true extent of the problem – and that the real figure ran into thousands a year.
If these official statistics are true, then the NHS is owning up to more than 1000 people dying every year in our hospitals through lack of food or fluids. Unfortunately, unlike road deaths, where enormous sums of money are spent on speed cameras and other traffic calming measures, little appears to be done to address these entirely avoidable deaths.
There’s no other way of saying this… deaths caused in our hospitals through neglect in feeding and hydration need to be made a serious offence. It’s nothing short of state sponsored murder when patients die of thirst or hunger. Until someone takes responsibility and is jailed for this, patients will continue to die needlessly.
The statistics also showed that 3,627 patients died with C. difficile in 2009, up from just 457 in 1999; and 671 died having contracted its fellow superbug MRSA – three times the number when Labour came to power.
These numbers are probably a massive underestimate because people are not always tested for the bugs and the result is not always entered on death certificates.
In 2009, 604 patients died with crippling pressure ulcers – bedsores – which are entirely avoidable if nurses ensure patients are turned in bed regularly.
February 1, 2011
Taking the temperature
...in August Peter recorded 25C/77F in a hot spot, but only 18C/64F in a damp, shady spot - the sort of difference you might find between St Tropez and Southport.
The amount of rain received also varied hugely, with 50 per cent less on the leeward side than the windward side.
Dampness affects the temperature quite dramatically, because water removes heat from the surroundings as it evaporates.
Even the colour of the soil affects the speed at which it heats up, with darker soils absorbing more heat than lighter types.
The thermal inertia of water - it takes a long time to heat up and cool down - means it is still radiating warmth after the rest of the garden has cooled.
But luckily we know the world's temperature to the last tenth of a degree....
In Which Monboit Argues For The Forest Sell Off
The public is not the same as the state.Nor is it simply the collective noun for atomised private citizens....The state is not us....I would support the shrinking of the state....the big society is all guff.
The creation of the public forest estate was as brutal as any other nationalisation.....the state ownership of forests is not a concept we should rush to defend.
I'm happy to welcome Moonbat to the side of reason on the forest sell off debate because This is the practice of modern documentary makers, who can gather huge amounts of material and then edit and assemble the material in a way that they can present a message, the message the producer wishes to convey. This is irrespective of what is actually said, and what interviewees actually intended.
How The Market Self Corrects
The increase in a pint of milk is likely to happen because of significantly higher animal feed costs, which have forced farmers to switch to a cheaper but less efficient feed, reducing milk yields and supply, according to the latest research.
The Grocer, the trade magazine, said that in a bid to reduce their overheads, some dairy farmers have started to buy less feed made from grains and more forage material such as grass and silage.
Dairy farmers are under significant pressure after supermarkets waged a price war over milk during 2010, driving down the price to 127p for a four-pint bottle, or 31.7p a pint, in a bid to attract customers.
Farmers have argued these low prices are completely unsustainable and that they were losing money on each pint sold at this price.
A lot of consultants will be advising farmers to scale back if possible.
Gosh amazing innit! Price drops, cut back on production, price rises. Obviously this is a new concept and The Grocer hasn't quite worked out that feed costs are variables not overheads but I think they have a glimmer of an idea about how the market works. I wonder if anyone else has ever discovered this?
Sushi "Coordinating Conjunction Of Your Choice" Nudes
South Africa's ANC deplores 'sushi on models' after scandal - Telegraph
South Africa's governing party has pronounced that eating sushi off the body of a model in a bikini is politically incorrect.
African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe is unequivocal: "This act is anti-ANC and antirevolutionary. This act is defamatory, insensitive and undermining of woman's integrity."
Mantashe adds: "The ANC is not into nightclubs or partying, but it is a revolutionary movement."
I'm worried about that coordinating conjunction "but". It seems wrong, or is the revolutionary movement their equivalent to partying; "There is no wine but we have beer". Or did he mean "because"; "We don't party because we are a miserable bunch of Trots".
As if I didn't have enough else to worry about.
A boot room for muddy wellies, a pantry for cold puddings and pies, a large kitchen for family meals, and enough garden to grow potatoes – these are the seductive benefits of the English farmhouse. Not only are these houses rooted in some of the best landscape but they are also proving to be fruitful economic assets in uncertain times.
Across the southern counties, from Kent to Cornwall, estate agents report more buyers looking for farmhouses than there are properties to satisfy them. Upmarket property finder William Marsden-Smedley, of Prime Purchase, describes them as a “bombproof investment”.
lready the next wave of buyers moving out of London, fattened by this month’s bonuses, is looking for farmhouses as the property of choice. Around £7 billion of City money is expected to flow into property.....
Well that has cheered me up this morning, how about you?