August 31, 2011
Guess Who Didn't Get A Speeding Ticket In New Mexico
Simples, as the onlooking meerkat is probably saying.
Dictaphone? No I Use My Finger...
A CONVICTED drug dealer has forfeited almost £6000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act after being caught with a mobile phone strapped to his manhood.
I'm not sure I understand the Proceeds of Crime Act.
This time the EU has gone too far
The current Defender was first introduced in 1948 and has gone on to enjoy sales of more than two million around the world.
Its basic design has changed little over the past six decades.
Aaargh my eyes! A flabby jelly mould ready to be blinged up to replace the Landy! And it is the EU's fault?
Mr Whippy Gets It
Meltdown for the country's estimated 5,000 ice cream vans started with the rise of the domestic freezer in the Fifties but has been compounded more recently by new EU rules introducing lower emission limits. These mean that many older ice cream vans face costly conversions or face being taken off the road.
In London, meanwhile, tighter emissions standards will come into force from January next year. Some ice cream vans will be able to fit a filter, but the charge for those that don't will be £100 a day.
The amendments add to an already long list of expenses for ice cream sellers, including insurance and a trade licence costing around £800 annually....
The fleet has been reduced to a quarter of that size, with councils piling on more pressure by banning vans from some housing estates, parks and schools because of concerns about noise pollution and childhood obesity.
Other authorities have created ice cream selling exclusion zones in town centres, hiked the cost of a van operator's licence and limited how long vans can sound their chimes. Soaring food and petrol prices have also helped drive a flake into the heart of an industry already on its knees.....
No mention of climate change, just a hint we have had yet another dismal summer. Normally the Indy can be sure to be blaming all ills on climate change....
Meat vs Muesli
The Green manifesto idea for a "meat-free Monday" was given the thumbs down after an enthusiastic council official proposed piloting it with beefy binmen. They were already cross about public hostility – binmen have been attacked – towards efforts to improve the efficiency and environmental friendliness of waste collection.
Creatives, hippies, counter-culture types, gays and lesbians, new media pioneers, all have long been drawn down the A23 to its sunny micro-climate, creating an environment where the Green movement was likely to thrive. Many students attending its two universities graduate and decide to stay, worsening job and housing shortages for the unskilled, but – as in other Green university strongholds like Oxford, Norwich and Lancaster – pushing up the radical vote. Even Tories are quite green Tories in Brighton.
Breaking out of the muesli belt | Guardian Sustainable Business | guardian.co.uk
The environmental movement is largely middle-class and white, and this makes any sort of engagement with the wider community more difficult to achieve.
I'm off for a Gregg's Steak Bake...
August 30, 2011
Homeopathy is very low dosages of a bacterium to cure an infection and is common to treat condition like mastitis in dairy cattle.
Welcome back from your hols love. Still not got the hang of looking stuff up or writing proper like, I see. We wouldn't want you to change.
Elfen Safety Profiteering
1000 posters £1.08 each
Example chosen as top of google search - other providers may be available unless that is you are an employer because you are required by law to either display the HSE-approved poster (or to provide each of your workers with the equivalent 'leaflet'.)
The poster is only available from the HSE or an HSE reseller - it is copyright protected and costs £7.66
We Should All Support Monbiot On This
Who are the most ruthless capitalists in the western world? Whose monopolistic practices make Walmart look like a corner shop and Rupert Murdoch a socialist?
academic publishers. Theirs might sound like a fusty and insignificant sector. It is anything but. Of all corporate scams, the racket they run is most urgently in need of referral to the competition authorities.
Everyone claims to agree that people should be encouraged to understand science and other academic research. Without current knowledge, we cannot make coherent democratic decisions. But the publishers have slapped a padlock and a "keep out" sign on the gates....
It's bad enough for academics, it's worse for the laity. I refer readers to peer-reviewed papers, on the principle that claims should be followed to their sources. The readers tell me that they can't afford to judge for themselves whether or not I have represented the research fairly. Independent researchers who try to inform themselves about important scientific issues have to fork out thousands. This is a tax on education, a stifling of the public mind. It appears to contravene the universal declaration of human rights, which says that "everyone has the right freely to … share in scientific advancement and its benefits".
...governments should refer the academic publishers to their competition watchdogs, and insist that all papers arising from publicly funded research are placed in a free public database. In the longer term, they should work with researchers to cut out the middleman altogether, creating – along the lines proposed by Björn Brembs of Berlin's Freie Universität – a single global archive of academic literature and data. Peer-review would be overseen by an independent body. It could be funded by the library budgets which are currently being diverted into the hands of privateers.
The knowledge monopoly is as unwarranted and anachronistic as the corn laws. Let's throw off these parasitic overlords and liberate the research that belongs to us.
August 29, 2011
Otters and salmon have returned to our rivers, red kites are soaring over our motorways and exotic egrets are colonising our wetlands. So has British wildlife really made a comeback? Naturalist Stephen Moss investigates
Yes of course it has,...
It would be tempting, given this litany of success stories, to take the Panglossian view that all is for the best, in the best of all possible worlds. But climate change is itself, of course, a double-edged sword.....Rising temperatures are bad news for specialist mountain creatures such as the ptarmigan, mountain hare and Britain's only alpine butterfly, the mountain ringlet, because as temperatures rise they simply have nowhere to go.
...Organisations such as the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and National Trust – along with smaller groups like Butterfly Conservation, Buglife and the BTO – are doing all they can to give a helping hand to Britain's wildlife at this time of unprecedented change.....
I spoke too soon, keep giving them money to ward off the rising temperatures.....
Bansturbation Fake Of The Week
Manufacturers of sugary drinks should be banned from marketing their products to children, a report has said.
The study by the Children's Food Campaign.....
Blah Blah Blah - the CFC (I thought we had banned them?) is of course part of a charity - have a guess how much of its nearly two million pound income is actually from people dropping pennies into its collecting boxes.
Charity overview 1018643 gives the answer (about 3%)
August 28, 2011
Data Back Up Virgin
Sir Richard Branson: The night I lost my home in an inferno | The Sunday Times
We’d had the most sophisticated fire equipment and fire alarm system, which had been overhauled about four days before. All of that should have gone off at the start and management should have been there in seconds. But none of the alarm systems went off ...
My office was in the house and I lost everything in it. I’d got a long way into writing my autobiography (which included losing my virginity) and it’s lost. Fifteen years of handwritten notebooks went and photographs and so on.
Running a business, we have a meticulous computer backup system so I’d assumed all that was completely safe. But it turns out the backup was also in the house. Everything filed on the computers there in the past few years is lost, both business-related and personal.
The first rule of backups is OFF SITE. Unbelievable.
This isn't a paid advert but a genuine recommendation.
I use Jungle Disk I costs me pence a month to have all my stuff replicated on Amazon servers hidden in American mountains.
My accounts are done on Kashflow, which also keeps the details safe away from the castle.
If your stuff is only in your house or office, do something about it, today.
Provocative St George
IT'S the national flag of their country and they fly it with pride. But supporters of Berwick Rangers claim they are being prevented from waving the St George's Cross in Scotland.
Many followers of the Borderers are proud of their unique status as the only English football club to play in the Scottish league.
Strathclyde Police, who oversee Berwick's away games with Clyde and Queen's Park, said it advised its officers to remove any flags which they deem to be "provocative".
Though probably they could get away with a quick chorus of Handel's Judas Maccabaeus (written to celebrate the victorious Duke of Cumberland upon his return from the Battle of Culloden...)
Google - Keep To The Knitting
Google says it would pay more tax in UK - Telegraph
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, has blamed the Government's weak tax laws for the fact it pays just £8m of corporation tax in Britain despite making more than £6bn in revenues in this country.
Mr Schmidt told the Edinburgh Television Festival yesterday that Google "loves" Britain and would pay more tax if it were legally required to do so. He said the company's hands were tied by Britain's low tax demands.
"It is true we could pay more tax but we would have to do so voluntarily. It's called paying the legally minimum amount of tax required," he said.
Oh stop pretending to being so bloody lovely, you are a corporation maximising returns for your shareholders. That is what you are meant to do and is the best bloody thing you can do. Just stick to that.
Obama's First Hurricane
The scale of Hurricane Irene, which could cause more extensive damage along the Eastern Seaboard than any storm in decades, is reviving an old question: are hurricanes getting worse because of human-induced climate change?
The short answer from scientists is that they are still trying to figure it out. But many of them do believe that hurricanes will get more intense as the planet warms, and they see large hurricanes like Irene as a harbinger.
The even shorter answer is "No".
No Shit Sherlock
Imperial College team says government is 'seriously undermining' anti-tobacco campaign....They estimate that of the "high-grossing" films that had their tobacco content monitored, 66% featured tobacco imagery. More than half (57%) containing scenes of smoking were rated U, PG or 12A, and only 8% were given an 18 certificate.
Recent UK-subsidised films featuring smoking include Sherlock Holmes ...
Haven't they got any wards that need cleaning?
August 24, 2011
Monboit's Rapture At The Arrival Of The End Times
How much of this is real? How much of the economic growth of the past 60 years? Of the wealth and comfort, the salaries and pensions that older people accept as normal, even necessary?
Once our needs had been met, continued economic growth did most people few favours. During the second half of the growth frenzy, unemployment rose, inequality rose, social mobility declined, the poor lost amenities (such as housing) while the rich enhanced theirs.
Now, bar the shouting, it's over. Last week the Wall Street consultant Nouriel Roubini, one of the few who predicted the financial crash, spelt out the fix we're in. Governments cannot afford to bail out the banks again. Quantitative easing can no longer help, nor can currency depreciation. Italy and Spain will be forced, in effect, to default, and Germany won't pay out any more.
Nor can the current economic system address the environmental crisis.
So far governments have responded to the renewed crisis of capitalism by frantically seeking to invoke the old magic again, to start the engine of creative destruction once more. The means to do so no longer exist. Even if they did, they would only delay and enlarge the underlying problems.
The most hopeful sign that politicians might now be prepared to ask the big questions was the presence, in Ed Miliband's pile of holiday reading, of Prof Tim Jackson's book Prosperity Without Growth.
Jackson has begun developing a macroeconomic model which would allow economic output to be stabilised. He experiments with raising the ratio of investment to consumption, changing the nature and conditions of investment and shifting the balance from private to public spending, while staying within tight constraints on the use of resources. He finds that the redistribution of both income and employment (through shorter working hours) is essential to the project. So is re-regulation of the banks, enhanced taxation of resources and pollution and measures to discourage manic consumption, such as tighter restrictions on advertising.
Why do I have a feeling Monboit typed all this tripe one handed?Because it is all such a priapic wet dream of his he believes is coming true that all connection to reality has been lost?
August 23, 2011
Met Office Fun & Games
Met Office: Weather game information
In the weather game, you’ll be asked to interpret a number of forecasts to help Brad the ice cream seller maximise his profits. There’s an element of luck here. Even if you give Brad the best forecast possible, the weather may not oblige ― just as in the real world!
In our weather game, we’re experimenting with different ways of presenting a forecast to see which works best for different people. That’s why we ask you for some information at the beginning, such as your age and gender. This information won’t be used for any other purpose.
Why is there uncertainty in our forecasts?
A weather forecast is an estimate of the future state of the atmosphere. It’s created by observing the current state of the atmosphere and a using a computer model to calculate how it may change over time. As the atmosphere is a chaotic system small approximations in the way observations are analysed can lead to large errors in a weather forecast. We can never create perfect weather forecasts because we can never observe every detail of the atmosphere as it changes hour by hour and day by day.
To estimate the uncertainty in the forecast we use what are known as ‘ensemble forecasts’. Here, we run our computer model many times from slightly different starting conditions. Initial differences are tiny so each run is equally likely to be correct, but the chaotic nature of the atmosphere means the forecasts can be quite different. On some days the model runs may be similar, which gives us confidence in the weather forecast; on other days, the model runs can differ radically so we have to be more cautious.
Pity they didn't choose organising a convivial evening in a brewery instead...
August 22, 2011
The cardinal distinction between democracy and totalitarianism
Skimming through a holiday book I came across this quote from the dark days of the war. Its refreshing frankness made me sit up and want to share it:
The following extract from Churchill's Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945
by Nicholas Rankin (pp379-380) is taken from a minute to the Security Executive, made on 06 September 1940, by Sir Alexander Maxwell, Permanent Under Secretary at the Home Office, in response to a proposed defence regulation making it 'an offence to attempt to subvert duly constituted authority.'
There would be widespread opposition to such a regulation as inconsistent with English liberty. Our tradition is that while orders issued by the duly constituted authority must be obeyed, every civilian is at liberty to show, if he can, that such orders are silly or mischievous and the duly constituted authorities are composed of fools or rogues [...] Accordingly we do not regard activities which are designed to bring the duly constituted authorities into contempt as necessarily subversive; they are only subversive if they are calculated to incite persons to disobey the law, or to change the Government by unconstitutional means. This doctrine gives, of course, great and indeed dangerous liberty to persons who desire revolution, or desire to impede the war effort [...] but the readiness to take this risk is the cardinal distinction between democracy and totalitarianism.
I somehow doubt that spirit still exists in Whitehall.
Quote via consonants
Sea Levels in Vietnam
Climate change is turning rivers of Mekong Delta salty, spelling disaster for millions of poor farmers
This story keeps returning as the rice bowl is held out for cash yet again.
Extraction of fresh water and shifting sands make deltas more salty as well, if indeed this is the case. Because the data, the one component missing from the many versions of this story that are going round at the moment, seems not to support the sudden panic.
And the man on the local beach says:
More Questions on Vietnam's Sea Levels: Adam Bray - Writer, Journalist and Photographer in Mui Ne Beach, Vietnam
It is apparent to me that the scientific community has at the very least manipulated information to illustrate a theory that the data, taken as a whole, may not actually support. It appears that Vietnam’s sea levels may in fact be lowering, despite scientist’s claims to the contrary.
August 21, 2011
The Great Escape
As events go this turbulent August, the disappearance of a cow from a small farm in Bavaria doesn't quite have the resonance of Colonel Gadaffi's last stand, the arrest one-by-one of Rupert Murdoch's staff, or the implosion of the world economy. But the story of Yvonne, a six-year-old bovine who broke through an electrified fence on 24 May and has been on the run ever since, is moving ominously up the news agenda and, in the coming days, may well eclipse all other concerns. ...her ability to evade capture has brought her fame beyond even the wildest of bovine dreams. So far she has outwitted Bavarians armed with telescopic sights, a helicopter equipped with thermal-imaging gear, an animal tracker whose skills were honed on the African savannah, and the searching eyes of police, ramblers and fortune-seekers after the €10,000 (£8,700) price on her head.
There has been the odd sighting, but, by the time the men with the tranquillising darts have shown up, Yvonne has melted back into the depths of the pine forest. Yet if humans have been unable to make contact with her, she, apparently, has got in touch with them. An Austrian animal psychic claims to have telepathically reached Yvonne, who has reassured her public that she is OK, but still too afraid to give herself up.
I predict she will steal a motorbike and try to jump the fence into Switzerland...
Auld Alliance Breaks Over euro
THE SNP is backing away from taking an independent Scotland into the Eurozone and towards maintaining Sterling as the currency of a newly-created state.
The Nationalist-led Scottish Government has said it is opposed to proposals put forward last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to harmonise taxes such as corporation tax. Such powers should be the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament, the government says. MEPs said last night that such a stance would "blow a hole" through any idea that Scotland could join the Eurozone, with analysts predicting that tight fiscal integration will be required of all countries in the zone as part of current efforts to lift it out of economic strife.
When even the Scots Nats won't swallow it you know it must be bad.
August 19, 2011
Friday Night Is Music Night (Peaches Edition)
August 17, 2011
Going Gentle Into That Good Night
I voluntarily went into a National Trust tearoom this afternoon and enjoyed a cream tea.
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
What was I thinking? It's the end, get me some tartan slippers and wish me well as soup dribbles down my cardy...
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
August 16, 2011
Read The Bill - Ask Your MP
Would it be unreasonable to ask your MP to promise to only vote on Bills she or he has read and understood? And if they refuse to so promise push them on why not?
I commend the idea to you all.
August 12, 2011
Friday Night is Music Night (Summer Holiday Edition)
The boys weren't arrested, because they ran away. 'We didn't know what we were doing. We were teenagers, we'd drunk too much - frankly, we did behave appallingly, irresponsibly, criminally.....
And not even a member of the Bullingdon...
The Dangerous Tastes Act
CUTTING the levels of salt in people's diets will save lives and public money – but action must be taken now, experts have warned.
"Civil society, governments, academia, and health organisations all have a part to play. Denial and procrastination will be costly in terms of both avoidable illness and expenses."
Prof Cappuccio, from the University of Warwick, added that trying to change personal behaviour and choice alone was "not an effective or realistic option when the majority of salt is added to food before it is sold, and food marketing relies on taste".
Bloody individuals buying food on taste! How stupid can you get, we must regulate against them having tasty options!
The Dangerous Tweets Act
POLICE could be handed new powers to shut down social media networks, after David Cameron announced the government was looking at a stringent new measures to tackle disorder following the riots in English cities over the past week.
The crackdown was described by legal experts as the most "fundamental shift" in the government's relationship with the internet and by civil liberty groups as "very dangerous"
The Prime Minister said that “everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill.”
He said that he has asked the police if they need new powers, and that Government is “working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services".
Asking the police if they need new powers is like it was asking Amy Whitehouse if she needed an extra line...
August 11, 2011
Time To Turn To Theodore
THE riots in London and elsewhere in Britain are a backhanded tribute to the long-term intellectual torpor, moral cowardice, incompetence and careerist opportunism of the British political and intellectual class.
They have somehow managed not to notice what has long been apparent to anyone who has taken a short walk with his eyes open down any frequented British street: that a considerable proportion of the country's young population (a proportion that is declining) is ugly, aggressive, vicious, badly educated, uncouth and criminally inclined.
Unfortunately, while it is totally lacking in self-respect, it is full of self-esteem: that is to say, it believes itself entitled to a high standard of living, and other things, without any effort on its own part.....
Perhaps Amy Winehouse was its finest flower and its truest representative in her militant and ideological vulgarity, her stupid taste, her vile personal conduct and preposterous self-pity.
Her sordid life was a long bath in vomitus, literal and metaphorical, for which the exercise of her very minor talent was no excuse or explanation. Yet not a peep of dissent from our intelllectual class was heard after her near canonisation after her death, that class having long had the backbone of a mollusc.
Criminality is scarcely repressed any more in Britain. The last lord chief justice but two thought that burglary was a minor offence, not worthy of imprisonment, and the next chief justice agreed with him.
By the age of 12, an ordinary slum-dweller has learned he has nothing to fear from the law and the only people to fear are those who are stronger or more ruthless than he.
Punishments are derisory; the police are simultaneously bullying but ineffectual and incompetent, increasingly dressed in paraphernalia that makes them look more like the occupiers of Afghanistan than the force imagined by Robert Peel. The people who most fear our police are the innocent.
Of course, none of this reduces the personal responsibility of the rioters. But the riots are a manifestation of a society in full decomposition, of a people with neither leaders nor followers but composed only of egotists.
He has being saying it for a long time, and sadly his prophecies are proving correct.
An Appeal To Our American Friends
Welcome To The Fish Slicer
SCOTLAND'S first commercial-scale tidal turbine has been connected to the electricity grid off the Orkney coast and begun generating power.
The gigantic machine which resembles an underwater wind turbine weighs 1,500 tonnes and stands 70 feet off the seabed.
Atlantis Resources Corporation hopes the 1MW device, known as AR1000, will generate enough electricity annually to power about 1,000 homes.
Tidal turbines harness the energy provided by the movement of the tides and supporters say they will provide a predictable, reliable source of green electricity.
However, questions remain about whether the technology will be effective, the impact of tidal renewable energy on marine life and some concerns have been raised by shipping and fishing groups
Genuinely I hope it works, A far better idea than wind. But the cost of building them in such a hostile environment may, I fear, scupper them.
August 10, 2011
The Joy Of Rioting
I haven't taken much notice of the riots, down here in the country an "Enfield Vigilante" isn't a concerned citizen of a North London borough who just waves their hands in the air at the horror, the question is only which Mark and whether or not bayonets are fixed.
But as I am being asked by readers in our ex-colonies WTF is going on, is it Al-Qaeda, Al Gore or Alcohol? I thought it worth looking into.
The shocking acts of looting may not be political, but they nevertheless say something about the beaten-down lives of the rioters
Alex Hiller, a marketing and consumer expert at Nottingham Business School, points out that there is no conflict between anomie and consumption: "If you look at Baudrillard and other people writing in sociology about consumption, it's a falsification of social life. Adverts promote a fantasy land. Consumerism relies upon people feeling disconnected from the world."
At the other end of the authoritarian-liberal spectrum, you have Camila Batmanghelidjh's idea, movingly expressed in the Independent, that this is a natural human response to the brutality of poverty: "Walk on the estate stairwells with your baby in a buggy manoeuvring past the condoms, the needles, into the lift where the best outcome is that you will survive the urine stench and the worst is that you will be raped . . . It's not one occasional attack on dignity, it's a repeated humiliation, being continuously dispossessed in a society rich with possession. Young, intelligent citizens of the ghetto seek an explanation for why they are at the receiving end of bleak Britain, condemned to a darkness where their humanity is not even valued enough to be helped."
Between these poles is a more pragmatic reading: this is what happens when people don't have anything, when they have their noses constantly rubbed in stuff they can't afford, and they have no reason ever to believe that they will be able to afford it.
Millions of trees are going to die as this sort of guff is spewed out.
As far as I can see no one seems to be pointing out the essential cause of all these riots. Rioting is fun, exciting and you get to pick a prize at the end. Even young bloods at Oxford have been known to smash stuff up for the hell of it. It relieves the tedium of it all.
The reason you and I don't do it is that the penalties outweigh the rewards. Penalties that are worn as badges of honour by some would be the end of our careers and our social standing.
The long term solution is about enabling people to have personal respect and ambition, freed from the serfdom of the council ghettos.
Make them more boringly middle class like us.
Immediately the balance between risk and reward needs to be tilted to disincentivise the behaviour.
And how to rebalance that cannot be understood unless it is acknowledged the sheer bloody thrill of being a rioting looter.
(Al-Qaeda, Al Gore or Alcohol? A bit of all three actually, hot weather, some illegal hooch and a soupçon of radicalisation are all in the mix of why now and why here.)
August 9, 2011
So How's That Prohibition Idea Working Out
ABOUT one in 12 cigarettes in Scotland is made and sold illegally - funding criminal activities and costing the government millions of pounds in lost tax revenue.
A survey found that smokers in Paisley bought the highest proportion of illegal cigarettes at 13.7 per cent, while in Glasgow one in ten cigarettes is not bought from legal sources.
Scotland, along with the rest of the UK, is seen as a lucrative target for cigarette smugglers, due to high domestic duty on cigarettes.
"Tobacco smuggling is organised crime on a global scale with huge profits ploughed back into activities like drug dealing, people smuggling and fraud," said John Whiting, assistant director of criminal investigations at HM Revenue & Customs.
Now there's an unexpected result, who would know that punitive pricing and prohibition funds the creation of crime syndicates. Obviously criminals and politicians, sorry I repeat myself, will be clamouring for more prohibition to boost their profits. The obvious alternative is just too silly for words.
None So Green
On August 5, voting for the Best Green International Celebrity at the International Green Awards opened to members of the public. This year's nominations include former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, actress Cameron Diaz and supermodel Gisele Bündchen..... and this person.
Yes - vote for "her", all the rest are models or popstars. I wonder why they have included one very very rich person who no one has ever heard of....
Don't Let Huhne Get This Idea
Sony Japan is due to be shut down for two weeks this month as part of a government-imposed energy conservation effort.
"Imposed" note. It is the only logical way to increase energy conservation.
August 8, 2011
Polar Bear Attack Failings
“The 29 year-old picked up the rifle and pulled the trigger but the gun didn’t fire. Why did this happen?
“The gunman fired again but again it didn’t go off. He fired all four bullets in magazine but none went off. We need to look at the routines of this British company to see that they were in order.”
...it was reported that the bear may have been shot with an old Mauser hunting rifle. The German made, bolt-action weapons are common on the island, locals said.
Expedition leaders are advised that camps should be protected either by trip wires, lookouts thought the night or guard dogs. However, it emerged yesterday that the camp had operated without an overnight lookout or guard dog.
An explosive trip wire designed to scare off approaching animals failed to trigger and without a watchman there was no second line of defence.
Unfortunately a Westerly wind and freak climatic events have led to an unprecedented amount of ice in the fjord meaning we are marooned here for the time being.
August 7, 2011
Biking in Bacelona
The Spanish-led research team found that for those using the Bicing scheme there was an estimated 0.03 extra cyclists' deaths each year from traffic accidents and an extra 0.13 cyclists' deaths from air pollution compared with an overall saving of 12.48 lives through the benefits of physical activity
0.03 extra deaths a year - one every 33 years? I don't believe it.
In 2010 two cyclists died in Barcelona - As they say -
2010 also saw a notable drop in bicycle-related accidents (by almost 20%). As for accident numbers, the Councillor for Mobility explained that Barcelona "is very close to the figure it had enjoyed before the Bicing service started" (376 accidents in 2006, 399 in 2010).
So in fact the bike hire scheme in Barcelona leads to more people being in accidents - not something the headline writers like to say.
August 5, 2011
Man give caution for shooting rooks for human consumption - Telegraph
The 45 year-old, who has not been named, was arrested after the Taverner's restaurant in Godshill, Isle of Wight, was discovered to have started serving rook salad.
Yesterday, officials confirmed the man, from Ryde, Isle of Wight, had been issued with a caution following a joint investigation Natural England and Hampshire Police.
The man was arrested in June on suspicion of committing a number of offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Rooks and other wild birds, except wood pigeons, are legally protected and their sale for human consumption is illegal.
It wasn't many years ago since I was served rook salad at a resturant, the owner had shot the rooks himself and gave away the amuse-gueule so maybe it was legal.
Of course in last European unpleasantness they reached the dizzy price of 2/10 each as fillers for game pies. The public soon got bored of their flavour so by 1949 you could buy them for 9d each.
For a decent rook pie rather than a veggie salad with strips of fried breast:
Skin the birds, cut off wings and legs and draw them. Stuff with a veal forcemeat. Season well with salt and pepper. Arrange in a pie dish with slices of steak and a good beef broth. Cover with puff pastry. 350 F for 1hr 45min. Top up the stock and serve.
Friday Night is Music Night (No Money Blues Edition)
Arctic Tipping Point Tipped
Scientists say current concerns over a tipping point in the disappearance of Arctic sea ice may be misplaced.
Danish researchers analysed ancient pieces of driftwood in north Greenland which they say is an accurate way to measure the extent of ancient ice loss.
Writing in the journal Science, the team found evidence that ice levels were about 50% lower 5,000 years ago.
They say changes to wind systems can slow down the rate of melting.
They argue, therefore, that a tipping point under current scenarios is unlikely.
August 4, 2011
The Real Welfare State Problem
Britain’s ageing population will live beyond 100 in unprecedented numbers, official figures reveal today, wiping out budget savings and leaving the State facing crippling health and welfare bills.
The new analysis shows that 20-year-olds today are almost twice as likely to reach their 100th birthdays as their parents. It leaves all three major parties grasping for policies at the next election to address the growing costs to the public purse.
The number of centenarians will rise dramatically over the next half-century, the Office for National Statistics predicts. In 2009, there were 11,600 but the figure will hit 80,000 by 2033, rising to 276,600 in 2050 and 510,000 in 2066, out of a projected population of 81 million.
The rapid improvement in life expectancy stems from improved medical treatment, housing and living standards, and nutrition. Only 0.6 per cent of those born in 1911 have reached 100, while babies born this year will have a 30 per cent chance of living past 2111.
Ponzi schemes crash when there are more withdrawals than new suckers putting money in.
Lib-Dems Want Your Children
Television and radio advertisements and posters in nurseries and on buses would spell out how parents should play, read, talk, praise, and feed their children every day, under the proposed drive.
Companies that make toys, children’s books and baby food would be encouraged to brand their products with an official logo under the proposed scheme, which is modelled on the successful “five-a-day” fruit and vegetables dietary campaign.
The children’s minister, Sarah Teather, warmly welcomed the proposals, which came from the think-tank, CentreForum....
The initiative would aim to overhaul society’s attitudes towards parenting in a similar way to the change in how drink-driving has been seen over the past 50 years.
The report, Parenting Matters, calls for professional parenting advice to become as widespread as antenatal classes.
But poorer parents need to be “incentivised” to attend courses to help them complete the “five-a-day” essential actions. They could be rewarded for attending classes with higher child benefit payments or annual bonuses, the study suggested.
Baby shops and supermarkets could even offer “loyalty points” under the scheme.
The report acknowledges recommendations are “potentially controversial” and that “interfering” in how parents bring up their children leaves the proposals open to accusations of a “nanny state” mentality.
"Open to accusations"? I should bloody think so, unless you want your child to be a state monitored member of the Lib-Dem Youth Movement.
One in seven Britons does not feel safe in their own home at night, according to a new survey.
Younger people felt even less secure, with one in five of those aged 18 to 24 saying they did not feel safe at night in their home.
Four in 10 people even admitted they keep something nearby, from a heavy torch to a kitchen knife, which they would use as a weapon to protect themselves and their property against intruders.
Just seven out of 10 people aged 18 to 24 said they felt safe in their home at night, compared with nine out of 10 of those aged 55 or over, the poll showed.
I wonder what we could allow people to do which would make them feel safer?
August 3, 2011
Giant turbine blades likely to claim lives of migrating geese - Nature, Environment - The Independent
There is no doubt that the giant turbines will kill some pink-footed geese, which migrate to Britain during the winter
Plans for two giant wind turbines that threaten to claim the lives of scores of pink-footed geese every year were today given the go-ahead by the High Court despite a legal challenge by local residents at Eagland Hill in Lancashire. The proposed turbines will be located about 5km from Morecambe Bay where a special protection area hosts a range of birds, including pink-footed geese.
The anti-turbine Eagland Hill Action Group (EHAG) fought a last-ditch High Court bid to block the scheme, arguing that the inspector, David Pinner, erred in law by failing to reconsider whether an environmental impact assessment was necessary, and failing to conduct an appropriate assessment under EU wild birds and habitats directives.
EHAG also argued there was procedural unfairness because the group had not been invited to take part in the discussion on the compensation proposals for the geese.
What exactly is the compensation procedure for a goose that has been minced, A solemn promise that only the finest organic sage and onion will be used in the pie? Or that the fattened liver will be reverently turned into the finest foie gras?
August 2, 2011
Polly Admits To Irrationality And Is Wrong On The Science
... a taste of the Tea Party arrives on these shores in the peculiar paranoia of the climate-change deniers. You may dismiss some as fruitcakes or oil company lobbyists, but when Andrew Turnbull, former head of the civil service, reveals that he is of their number, it should alarm us.
I won't rehearse the paranoia of the deniers who think the world is against them: yes, it is.
For some reason they consider "the warmists" a leftwing conspiracy, though why is never clear.
On matters of fact, those of us who are not scientists can only listen to what scientists say and trust such an overwhelming global consensus. As cabinet secretary, Turnbull would have had to appraise evidence on myriad subjects of which he could know little: relying on best expertise is the only rational approach. So in what part of his psyche resided the Tea Party idea that scientific facts don't matter?
Reason should rule, but none of us is as rational as we pretend, each inhabiting our imaginations more than we do the real world, with opinions driven by beliefs, passions, convictions, hopes, fears and a hundred contradictory thoughts and impulses. But to make sense of the world, there is an obligation to seek out evidence and trust to expertise. Where it conflicts, we fight our political corners.
But science is different. Chief scientist John Beddington said in a forthright speech this year that we should become "Grossly intolerant of pseudo-science, the cherry-picking of the facts and the failure to use scientific evidence and scientific method"
Too right Polly, you aren't as rational as you pretend, and old Bedders hits the target with the attack on cherry-picking, it is just the target isn' the one he thinks it is.
Simms Wrong On Poverty
The relentless pursuit of productivity is socially divisive, environmentally destructive and doesn't make us any happier
This is part of Andrew Simms 100 Months To Save The World series as he tries to persuade us that eating grubs with a stick in our mud hut would make us happier. Twat.
Polly Wrong On History
The founding fathers built a constitution of checks and balances believing reasonable men would agree; how could they foresee Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann or Glenn Beck? To the British eye, America was always dangerously prone to waves of populism and McCarthyite panics. The country has reached a deadlock that may set it on a faster road to decline as absolute intransigence creates a constitution that no longer functions. Why bother with the great show of presidential elections when presidents are denied the power to match their pomp? The politics of miasma, where words matter more than facts and actions, lets the Tea Party demand the impossible – debt reduction with tax cuts, spending cuts without touching the gargantuan defence budget. Obama believed against all the evidence that his opponents would see reason. That's not who they are.
Oh yes, the Founding Fathers had only gone through a bloody revolution so they were wishy washy liberals who knew everyone would see sense if only they agreed with Polly.
August 1, 2011
150 years of forecasting
Monday 1st of August 2011 is a very special day for the Met Office. We will be celebrating 150 years of forecasting for the nation, marking the anniversary of the first ever public weather forecast appearing in print.
Starting with the lines "general weather probable in the next two days", the short piece which appeared in on page 10 of the The Times in 1861 was a bold move which started forecasting as we know it today.
It was, of course, the hottest day forecast since records began....