March 31, 2012
The Old Ones Are The Best Ones
The EU should appoint a specially designated commissioner for Greece to oversee the country's reconstruction from its deep economic crisis, the head of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers said in an interview published on Wednesday....
Angela Merkel arrives at Passport Control in Athens.
"Nationality?" asks the immigration officer.
"German" she replies.
"No, just here for a few days".....
March 30, 2012
Blowing in the wind
Just a great map!
March 29, 2012
Olympics - A Rich Person's Games
More than half the public thinks the London Olympics will not be worth the taxpayers' money that has been spent on them, according to a survey for The Independent. The ComRes poll found that 51 per cent of people disagree with the statement that the Games will be worth the ｣9.3bn cost to the public purse; 40 per cent agree with the statement and 9 per cent replied "don't know." ...
More people in the top AB group (49 per cent) think the cost is justified than do not (42 per cent). But the opposite is the case among other social classes, suggesting that the Olympics could be seen as a "rich person's event"...
David Cameron ...insisted that the cost of the Olympics could be justified because they could inspire Britain's young people and "have the power to change people's lives". He added: "Every government has to be very careful with public money. We have been with this budget. I am proud of the fact that we are coming in on time and on budget."
As of the time of the bid ..the organising committee laid out the following figures:
£560 million for new venues, including £250 million for the Olympic Stadium.
£650 million for the Olympic village.
£1.5 billion to run the Games.
£200 million on security..
Under £3 Billion - not the £9 billion now reported...
March 25, 2012
BRITAIN’S suburbs are about to get an environmental makeover. Eight million homes from the Victorian, Edwardian and other periods could be clad with up to 8in of insulation under a government scheme to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The thick layer will save householders hundreds of pounds a year in energy bills, but will transform the appearance of homes. The insulation is topped with render that can be painted, sometimes in the style of the original brickwork or in a colour of the householder’s choice.
The plan is being promoted by Greg Barker, the climate change minister.....
Jonathan Leake PR Hack
Jonathan Leake, Science Editor
Scientists are to announce the start of a new phase of geological time to mark the huge impact of humans on the planet.
They argue that humanity is having such a powerful effect on the Earth’s geological processes that they must declare an end to the Holocene, the era covering the 11,500 years since the last ice age, and the start of the Anthropocene — the “age of man”.
Except of course it isn't "officially" - it is just PR hype for the Royal Society's Blatherfest
Scotland's Lord Advocate Rules This Post Offensive
Frank Mullholland, Scotland’s most senior prosecutor, has warned singing or chanting songs which “glorify, celebrate or mock events involving the loss of life” should be viewed as offensive.
Bollocks to The Lord Advocate.
March 24, 2012
Do You Believe In Vicky Pope?
Recent studies show that public acceptance of the scientific evidence for man-made climate change has decreased. However, the change is not that great. The difference I find in talking to people is that they feel better able to express their doubts.
This is very hard for scientists to understand.
I think she means that it is very hard for Vicky Pope to understand that people dare to question her authority. How very dare they!
I Didn't Vote For Dear Beer
Mr Cameron. He should realise that the cheapness of beer is one of the few perks left to make life bearable for his over-taxed, over-regulated, fed-up fellow citizens. Better the sticky heap of Gin Lane, than the joyless futility of government-controlled alcohol prices.
March 23, 2012
Friday Night is Music Night (London Swings Edition)
Turing's Sunflowers - Manchester Science Festival 2012
Celebrate Alan Turing’s centenary year with an experiment!
We need you to sow sunflower seeds in April and May, nurture the plants throughout the summer and when the sunflowers are fully grown we’ll be counting the number of spirals in the seed patterns in the sunflower heads.
I've planted two rows of sunflowers in my polytunnel, in front of the other interesting plants I grow... I urge you to do the same.
A previous post on the same subject ...
The seeds of a sunflower, the spines of a cactus, and the bracts of a pine cone all grow in whirling spiral patterns. Remarkable for their complexity and beauty, they also show consistent mathematical patterns that scientists have been striving to understand.
A surprising number of plants have spiral patterns in which each leaf, seed, or other structure follows the next at a particular angle called the golden angle. The golden angle is about 137.5. Two radii of a circle C form the golden angle if they divide the circle into two areas A and B so that A/B = B/C.
The golden angle is closely related to the golden ratio, which the ancient Greeks studied extensively and some have believed to have divine, aesthetic or mystical properties.
Plants with spiral patterns related to the golden angle also display another curious mathematical property. The seeds of a flower head form interlocking spirals in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. The number of clockwise spirals differs from the number of counterclockwise spirals, and these two numbers are called the plant's parastichy numbers (pronounced pi-RAS-tik-ee or PEHR-us-tik-ee).
These numbers have a remarkable consistency. They are almost always two consecutive Fibonacci numbers, which are another one of nature's mathematical favorites. The Fibonacci numbers form the sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 . . . , in which each number is the sum of the previous two.
The Fibonacci numbers tend to crop up wherever the golden ratio appears, because the ratio between two consecutive Fibonacci numbers happens to be close to the golden ratio. The larger the two Fibonacci numbers, the closer their ratio to the golden ratio. But this relationship doesn't fully explain why parastichy numbers end up being consecutive Fibonacci numbers.
Scientists have puzzled over this pattern of plant growth for hundreds of years....
Water Wars From Climate Change
Ed Davey told a conference of high-ranking politicians and diplomats from around the world that although water had not been a direct cause of wars in the past, growing pressure on the resource if climate change is allowed to take hold, together with the pressure on food and other resources, could lead to new sources of conflict and the worsening of existing conflicts.
A measured opinion, hasn't happened yet but might in the future, which is true of so many things including Kelly Brook creeping into my bed one night to discover what a real man can do....
I noted Harald Welzer's Climate Wars book the other day where he is the high priest of such gloom and doom. (That is gloom and doom about future wars over water not Kelly's reaction to her voyage of discovery).
I should have noted the excellent article The Climate Wars Myth which is the debunking we need.
March 22, 2012
26th May - Book The Day Off
Saturday, 26th May 2012
It si going to be very, very good. The "Special Guests" will delight and amaze you - but I can't say any more. Just be there.
Andrew Thin, chair of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH),... said: “We have evidence that wind farms can be positive for certain species and, from some people’s point of view, a well-designed wind farm can be positive in the landscape in aesthetic terms.”
From some Lord's Coutts account's POV I'm sure they are very positive and freshly diced eagle is some species' plat du jour of choice, but others may not agree.
THE Commonwealth Games face "real risks" of an overspend in the £524 million budget set aside to pay for their delivery, Scotlandâs public spending watchdog has warned.
Say it ain't so! A real risk of some Games overspending!
March 21, 2012
The Secret London 2012 Look Book
This website is designed to give you ideas and guidance about how you can celebrate the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 in your area and to purchase Look items.
You must agree to ...an obligation to follow the London 2012 Look: Brand Protection Guidelines which include rules about where and when Look items can be displayed. Note that special rules apply if you are hosting any events in the places you propose to display Look. You should read the guidelines before selecting items to purchase to ensure the manner in which you are planning to use them will comply with the guidelines. This site also provides information about planting or mowing any London 2012 themed displays and includes some relevant guidelines and terms and conditions which you will be deemed to accept by using any of the planting and mowing templates provided on the site. Please also ensure you have read these before undertaking any London 2012 themed planting or mowing.
I tried to find out about the London 2012 Look so we could all celebrate the Olympics but no luck...
Thank you for your request to view the London 2012 Look Book. Unfortunately your e-mail address does not match our approved list. If you are a Local Authority, Business Improvement District or Port of Entry please reapply using your official e-mail address.
If you do not fit into one of these categories please reply to this message letting us know your reasons for requesting access to the LookBook.
Brand and Marketing
London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd
One Churchill Place
London E14 5LN
Direct Line +44 (0)20 3 2012 856
Switchboard: +44 (0)20 3 2012 000
Fax: +44 (0) 203 2012 001
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited A company registered in England and Wales with its registered office at One Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London E14 5LN and registered number 05267819 This E-mail is confidential. If you are not the addressee you may not copy, forward, disclose or use any part of it. If you have received this message in error, please delete it and all copies from your system and notify the sender immediately by return E-mail.
(Luckily I'm the addressee so I'm allowed to copy, forward, discloe and use any part of this email...)
Harry, I wonder if you are an unpaid intern Yah!, Please give me a clue as to what the appropriate London Olympic Look is? Does it involve Brown Shirts and leather shorts?
March 20, 2012
Guardian Fails A Google Search
Google marked the vernal equinox, or the first day of Spring, using a doodle based on a design by Marimekko, the the Finnish textile company famous for its bright, bold prints.
Spring has historically started on the day of the vernal equinox, which occurs on the night of 20/21 March.
- Umm, the reason why Google is celebrating the first day of spring today, the 20th, is that the equinox occurred during the night of the 19th/20th March. As some of us are celebrating at this early hour....
Windy Flag Waving
England expects every Tory to do their duty and support British wind power. That is the unmistakeable message of a new advertising campaign with a union flag and wind turbine appearing in the right-of-centre Spectator magazine this Thursday.
The use of patriotism is the latest tactic in an increasingly bitter war of words between Conservative party backbenchers and those committed to low-carbon energy....
Ian Mays, chief executive of Renewable Energy Systems (RES) one of the backers of the British Wind campaign, said...""Gas prices have trebled in Europe over the last decade and there is no reason to think they will decrease in future years. Shale gas has benefited the US but is only expected to play a modest role in Britain by 2025...."
"Last refuge of a scoundrel" and all that, some of us aren't so pessimistic about shale gas.
March 19, 2012
Olympic Flame Advisory
The Olympic Flame will come within 10 miles of 95% of people in the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey...
Remember the flame is powered by a butane/propane mix so it is a Class C fire. Only a Dry Powder extinguisher should be used on such fires. The extinguishers can be identified by the French Blue band on them.
Better safe than sorry is our motto here.
£7.5 Billion To Prevent One Warm Day
The UK Carbon Trust estimates that the cost of expanding wind turbines to 40 gigawatts, in order to provide 31% of electricity by 2020, could run as high as £75 billion ($120 billion).
And the benefits, in terms of tackling global warming, would be measly: a reduction of just 86 megatons of CO2 per year for two decades. In terms of averted rise in temperature, this would be completely insignificant. Using a standard climate model, by 2100, the UK's huge outlay will have postponed global warming by just over 10 days.
Moreover, this estimate is undoubtedly too optimistic.....
Nonetheless, the lesson is clear: if the goal is not just to cut CO2 emissions, but also to use renewables to do it, the models show that the cost balloons to £188 billion for this decade and £36 billion every year after 2020. In effect, insisting on wind power means using energy that is far from competitive, does not help to avert climate change, and costs an extra £92 billion for the UK alone.
For any country, this seems like a very poor choice.
And that might be a polite way of describing it.
March 17, 2012
March 15, 2012
Harald Welzer Climate Wars - A Review
Harald Welzer's Climate Wars is a handsome book, well printed on nice paper, and these things are important. There are books I actually want to read that are not, so I won't. And if the purveyors of dead tree versions want us to continue to buy them, rather than electronic versions, then it is a point they must remember.
The translation from the original German by Patrick Camiller, funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is superb in that it is unnoticeable and it reads as though it was originally written in English.
Harald Welzer seems to be an expert on the art of killing and war and the book starts promisingly with an interesting diversion to the German genocidal war against the Heroro people of Namibia in 1904.
Unfortunately by page 5 it descends in to pure tosh as he starts on climate change.
"The consequences are beginning to make themselves felt but it is impossible to predict what lies ahead. The only certainty is that the unrestricted use of fossil fuels cannot continue for ever - not so much because they will eventually run out (which has been assumed for a long time) as because the climatic effects are uncontrollable"
I thought he just said the it is impossible to predict what lies ahead...
"When global warming due to atmospheric pollution rises above 2 degrees, the Western model will reach its limit of controllability". ..An economy based on growth and resource depletion cannot function globally...As resources run out at least in many parts of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, South America, the Arctic and the Pacific Islands more and more people will have fewer and fewer means to ensure their survival.
Of course all the evidence is the opposite, comparative advantage ensures that a global economy can flourish, fewer and fewer people are having trouble finding the means to ensure their survival etc. All those parts of the world that he thinks the Western economy are depleting of resources are motoring to catch up and overtake the stagnating Western economies.
And so he goes on, and on.
To summarise: The West is doomed because of the lack of living space and resources because the rest of the world will be frying under a burning sky and fighting for water and food, and millions will die. Climate refugees will be forcing their way through our borders with violent consequences. (He doesn't mention the millions of climate refugees from the northern Baltic states who have descended on the Mediterranean with only the minimum of conflict over beach towels as they seek to escape the cold.)
Lack of living space and being overrun by foreigners will cause the collapse of a decadent democracy. I think we have heard these worries from Germany before.
I wouldn't suggest you buy this book because some right-on friend of yours will soon be waving a copy under your nose demanding you borrow it just as they did with Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth. I'm afraid it will become a Bible of the Greens so do read it. As Sun Tzu said " Know your enemy".
Indian Progress, Private vs Public
Optimists point to the extraordinary increase in mobile phone ownership as evidence of development. Ten years ago fewer than 4 per cent of rural households had a phone — today the figure is 54 per cent.
But the census has shown that just 10 per cent more households in India have a private toilet than in 2001. Access to treated drinking water is also limited to just a third of homes and 17 per cent still need to fetch water from more than half a kilometre away.
Two thirds of Indian households still use firewood, cow-dung, crop waste or coal to cook on — a statistic that helps to explain the scale of both health and environmental problems in India.
The fact that more households now have access to a phone than a toilet has provoked a debate on whether public policy or private consumption is responsible for skewed priorities.
I would also guess that phones are supplied by private companies whereas water and sewerage systems and electricity supplies are a responsibility of government departments. No wonder they lag behind.
Hot Causes Cold And Hot And Dry Maybe
Recent studies have linked the gradual shrinking of Arctic sea ice to colder weather in the UK and the rest of Europe, as well as the US and China. However the Met Office has not spoken about the issue before. The hot, dry spring of 2011 has also been linked to melting sea ice by meteorologists.
Despite the colder winters, nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001, according to the Met Office's temperature data. Such warming, driven to largely by man-made activities, is causing Arctic sea ice to melt at a rate of 12% a decade in summer.
Slingo also dismissed fears that the Arctic could be entirely free of sea ice in summer as soon as 2015. Between 2025 and 2030 would be the earliest date she would consider it possible, she said, and the Met Office's latest models suggested 2040-60 as most likely. "Our expectation is certainly not in the next few years as you've heard from some evidence," she said.
She also said that suggestions the volume of sea ice had already declined by 75% already were not credible. "We know there is something [happening on the thinning of sea ice] but it's not as dramatic as those numbers suggest."
The problem, she explained, was that researchers did not know the thickness of Arctic sea ice with any confidence. She hoped a new ice-monitoring satellite launched in 2010, Cryosat2, would help with more accurate measurements.
So it's all guess work at the moment then, what a surprise.
March 14, 2012
Enjoy Your Steak - A Doctor Writes
The latest “red meat is bad” scare starts with cancer, then throws in heart disease and premature death. Scarier still, it’s a big study by the Harvard School of Medicine and is likely to be “statistically significant” — or at least as significant as any epidemiological research is likely to be. Ninety-nine per cent of people involved in car crashes are wearing shoes. It doesn’t mean shoes cause car crashes.
The problem with studies of diet is that it’s very hard to do a gold-standard, randomised, double-blind controlled trial. ....
Most studies of diet are retrospective, asking people to remember when they last ate a sausage, or they concentrate on certain religious faiths that aren’t supposed to eat certain meats. In the latter case, it could be their religious faith or a love of nuts that’s keeping them alive, rather than a lack of sausages. It’s hard in a dietary study to control for one variable at a time, because of the sheer variety of things we put in our mouths and other habits we have that may affect our longevity.....
As for red meat, it’s a great source of iron, particularly for women, and you can lower the risk by trimming off the fat and not frying it in some disgusting transfatty gloop that’s been sitting on the stove for three months. Enjoy!
Dr Phil Hammond
Prof David Spiegelhalter (Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge) popped up on R4 this afternoon to put into context what this "20% increase in risk" meant. He said that a healthy 40-year-old who ate red meat every day might (if this study is correct) reduce their expected age at death by one year - from 80 to 79. If you're over 75 that probably equates to about 3 days.
March 13, 2012
How Many Green Jobs In Scotland
Richard Marsh, a renewable power economist, said the First Minister and green energy companies are “greatly exaggerating” the supposed benefits of their plan for a new swathe of wind and wave farms.
While they insist that 48,600 jobs will be created by the end of the decade, he said the real number of long-term posts is more likely to be 1,100 but could be as low as 300.
He said diverting public funding into the industry instead of projects where it would have more economic impact in effect means that every renewable power job costs 3.7 posts that would have arisen elsewhere.
But the Scottish Executive last night described Mr Marsh’s figures as “completely wrong” because jobs are already being created in the development of new green technologies and upgraded its own estimates further.
A spokesman claimed 70,000 people are working in the “low carbon economy” and this figure will increase to 130,000 by 2002.(sic)
A Real Environmental Disaster
This and other equally worrying realities will be presented this week to around 35,000 people from 180 countries at the World Water Forum, a gathering held every three years, which will hear the most disturbing reports yet on the state of the world's rivers, lakes and aquifers.
To illustrate the political, technical and financial solutions to the world's water problems, a 400 square metre Village of Solutions will be built inside the Water Forum this year, housing a school, library, town hall, factory and bank. Different funding mechanisms and technologies will be explained.
However, the forum, organised by the French government, the World Water Council and the City of Marseille, where it is being held, has been criticised for being merely a "talking shop". "They will have the big debates there, but it's not where change happens," said Daniel Yeo, WaterAid's senior policy adviser for water security. "The real situation is that dirty water kills more kids in sub-Saharan Africa than TB, malaria and Aids combined. We have the technology to change this; what we need is the political will and the internal capacity to deliver it in developing countries."
How many lives could sewers built with the money that is being spunked away on a 35,000 talking shop save?
Get the basics right first, clean water, sanitation, efficient stoves, preventable disease control and extreme weather protection. We know how to do all these, and to do them universally costs peanuts compared to the money wasted on the climate change scare.
Lib Dems - Don't Sack Ineffectual Staff
Employers who want to sack ineffectual staff will have to write to them, with an offer of a pay-off to avoid the need to go to a tribunal, under plans due to be unveiled by Lib Dem Business minister Norman Lamb....
Mr Beecroft had proposed allowing employers to sack unproductive staff with basic redundancy pay and notice. However he conceded that a “downside” under his new scheme is that employers could fire staff because they “did not like them”.
Does this apply to The Cabinet as well, where hiring and firing at a stroke seems to be the tradition?
Bacon Sarnie Will Kill You And Cause Climate Change
It was found that for every serving of red meat - equivalent to 3 ounces (85 grams) - eaten each day there was an 18 per cent increased risk of dying from heart disease and a 10 per cent increased risk of dying from cancer.
For each serving of processed meat, equivalent to two slices of bacon or one hot dog, the risk of dying from heart disease rose by a 21 per cent and from cancer by 16 per cent.
Scientists added that people who eat a diet high in red meat were also likely to be generally unhealthier because they were more likely to smoke, be overweight and not exercise.
In an accompanying editorial Dr Dean Ornish, of the University of California, San Francisco, said that eating less red meat could also help tackle climate change.
Dr Carrie Ruxton, from the Meat Advisory Panel (MAP), a British group of doctors and scientists funded by the industry, cast doubt on the findings and said the conclusions were based on a "theoretical" model"
I think we know where to file this report, don't we.
March 11, 2012
That M4 Windmill
Among the poorest performers are two turbines at GlaxoSmithKline’s pharmaceutical plant at Barnard Castle, Co Durham, and the Ecotricity wind turbine at Green Park in Reading, Berkshire, which the company boasts is Britain’s best-known because it is adjacent to junction 11 of the M4.
The turbine beside the motorway runs on average at just over 16% of its capacity. It earned £229,700 in 2010-11, but half that was paid in subsidy. The electricity generated was worth about £115,000.
The Barnard Castle turbines did even worse, running at just 8.2% of capacity and earning £26,000, half of which was paid as subsidy by the government’s renewables obligation scheme.
Something to think about as you are stuck in a traffic jam looking at them.
Diving Sea Birds
And as populations are never static that probably means half the world's sea birds are in ascent.
Wind Power The Curse Of Scotland
Gerald Warner: Fuelling an inconvenient delusion that spells ruin for Scotland - Comment - Scotsman.com
WIND power – more accurately wind impotence, since turbines operate at just 24 per cent of capacity – is the curse of Scotland. One of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe has been brutally ravaged, families have been driven into fuel poverty, pensioners have been presented with the lethal dilemma “heat or eat” – all to appease the neurotic prejudices of global warming fanatics.
Last week, the punitive costs of this lunacy were exposed in a report by Professor Gordon Hughes, professor of economics at Edinburgh University. He has calculated that the bill for wind energy by 2020 will cost consumers £120 billion. Yet generating the same amount of electricity from efficient gas-powered stations would cost only £13bn. Where the full insanity of the renewables option is brought home is in Professor Hughes’ claim that, beyond the crippling cost to consumers, “there is a significant risk that annual CO2 emissions could be greater under the Wind Scenario than the Gas Scenario”. The optimistic forecast is that wind power might reduce carbon emissions by 2.8 per cent: the worst-case scenario, as the quote above shows, is actually a negative carbon reduction – achieved at a cost of £120bn.
The inefficiency of wind turbines requires perpetual back-up by building gas turbine power stations – running two parallel energy generation systems, each alternately redundant, in times of economic crisis. The fiscal ratchet is turning relentlessly.....
March 9, 2012
Friday Night is Music Night (Drinking Edition)
Olympics To Come In Under Budget
MPs have expressed concern the London Olympics will go way over its £9.3bn budget - and said it was "staggering" the initial estimates about security costs were so wrong.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has also raised doubts about the Games' legacy and warned the Olympic Stadium in Stratford must not become a white elephant.
The Government says it is confident London 2012 will come in under budget.
..."The cost of purchasing the Olympic Park land will ultimately come back to the public purse through the resale of the land after the Games and was therefore not included.
"Funding for the legacy programmes, that the PAC refer to, comes from existing business-as-usual budgets and we have been clear about this. These are for projects designed to capitalise on hosting London 2012 but are not an additional Olympic cost."
I understand now - "under budget" means not putting all that boring stuff like buying the land and building stuff that will last more that two weeks into it. So does that mean the whole £9.3 billion is being blown in the fortnight?
Non-Food Biofuels Bad - FoE
The government has given the go-ahead to a huge wood-burning plant which it claims will provide power for a quarter of all Welsh homes, sparking outrage among green campaigners who fear British forests could eventually be lost.
Charles Hendry, the energy minister, said the 300MW power station on the coast of Anglesey would provide a "secure, flexible and renewable source of power" while creating hundreds of jobs. The Holyhead biomass facility would help Britain meet its renewable energy targets.....
The concerns were expressed as a draft report by a panel of 19 top European scientists, who expressed scepticism about the wider carbon advantages of biomass and biofuels, known collectively as bioenergy.....
It is not just green groups who oppose the bioenergy drive. The wood timber industry says prices have already shot up by 50% over the past three years as energy companies seek out new supplies for their biomass plants. ..
The raw timber I turn into logs went up from £1000 to £1600 from 2010 to 2011. I wish I had stockpiled more in 2010. I have now.
And you mean to say trucking timber out of the Canadian wilderness, kiln drying it, shipping across the pond, and then stuffing it into our furnaces isn't carbon neutral? I'm shocked, and that the FoE recognises that shocks me even more.
Who Needs Teacher When You Can JFGI
Children in the UK prefer using Google to asking their parents or teachers when they have a question, a snapshot survey suggests.
Some 54% of the 500 children asked said Google and other search engines were their first port of call when seeking information, pushing parents into second place on 26%.
Only 3% would ask their teacher.
Only 3%! Kids aren't stupid. the teaching unions will try to prevent the information revolution change the way children are taught for as long as possible but the kids have twigged and eventually the adults will as well.
FJGI? Look it up.
March 8, 2012
Freedom of what?
Salacious whistles and sexist comments may fall foul of new laws against sexual harassment to which Britain is signing up, the prime minister will announce on Thursday.
The pledge to criminalise "verbal, non-verbal or physical" sexual harassment is one of the commitments in the Council of Europe's convention on violence against women, which David Cameron will commit to signing at a special event to mark International Women's Day.
Among the pledges in the convention, which has already been signed by 18 countries including Germany, France and Ukraine, is one to pass legislation or other measures to criminalise or impose other sanctions for "unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment".
So if anyone criticises my choice of suit as being cut for a younger man I will be able to sue. In fact if you so much as raise an eyebrow at my purple crushed velvet loon pants you are for it. Oh happy days!
God for Harry, England, and St George!
The Army Captain, who was named best gunner in his apache helicopter training group last month, scored 39 out of 40 as he shot at a target from 30metres using a M4 Rifle.
His instructors said his closely grouped shots in the centre of a human silhouette were “a perfect result”. Only one of the shots strayed marginally outside the maximum scoring area.
As well as firing at the silhouette he also fired 8 shots at a photograph of a man holding a pistol and got all of them on target around the chin and neck.
As he entered the firing area, the Prince, who is know for being camera shy, turned to a bank of photographers and said: “Anyone with a camera wants to stand the other end?”
Granny would be pleased.
It's what Princes are for.
March 7, 2012
Guardian Still Hiding The Decline
How do we know how warm or cold it was in the past? | Environment | guardian.co.uk
Growth rings in tree trunks can be wider or thinner depending on the climate at the time of growth, so fossilised trees can reveal the length of growing seasons....
To make their temperature reconstructions as accurate as possible scientists have calibrated each proxy by testing how it changes in response to changing temperature....
A detailed review of Mann’s book: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars as it relates to the Wegman report to Congress | Watts Up With That?
Mann then goes on to defend “hide the decline” by saying:
These data show an enigmatic decline in their response to warming temperatures after roughly 1960, perhaps because of pollution21–that is the decline that Jones was referring to.
While “hide the decline” was poor–and unfortunate–wording on Jones’s part, he was simply referring to something Briffa and coauthors had themselves cautioned in their original 1998 publication: that their tree ring density should not be used to infer temperatures after 1960 because they were compromised by the divergence problem.
So the tree ring density proxy has been tested against recent temperatures and failed the test. And yet " Mann now admits his original hockey stick existed solely because of “one set of tree ring records,”
Would you buy a bridge from him?
Tax The Windmills
....The Treasury is poring over ways to make more cash to plug the deficit in the Budget this month, whether from the disabled, middle-class mothers or bankers in £2 million white stuccoed houses. But one group is still receiving massive handouts â the dukes and earls of this kingdom.
Many are in receipt of a large government cheque not because they live on a desolate council estate surrounded by unemployment but because they are sitting on their own estates. Their undeserved windfall comes from permitting the building of wind farms on their rolling acres.
Ah, you might say, but they should be compensated for allowing these ugly monstrosities on their land; it must be irritating to glimpse a turbine as they look out of the drawing-room windows. But the sums involved are worth as much as their grand masters. They wouldnât scribble over their Constables, but they are happy to spoil some of the most beautiful moorlands and mountains of Britain to get cash.....
March 6, 2012
Panorama and Farm Subsidies
Samantha Poling reveals how millions of pounds of public money are being paid out to businessmen and millionaire farmers in an abuse of the farming subsidy system. Investors tell us how they have been paid without having to do any farming at all. And Samantha also sets out to see if she can take advantage of the subsidy system and become rich from the loophole.
The programme also examines the rest of the subsidy system and hears criticism of large payments to wealthy individuals like the Queen and the Duke of Westminster simply on the basis of owning large amounts of land.
I managed to watch about two minutes of this before getting bored, but the what I saw and the synopsis seems to suggest it was a lazy ill-informed programme.
Put to one side what we think about farm subsidies. Let us just take them as a fact.
They are an entitlement to an annual payment with certain terms and conditions which was set up to last until 2013, and may continue longer. The main condition is that the land the subsidy is ensuring stays in a good agricultural and environmental condition stays so for each year. These entitlements are tradeable.
Some farmers have wanted to cash in their entitlement for a lump sum, they may be retiring, moving, divorcing or just want the cash. So a business man can buy the entitlement, giving the actual farmer what he values the future value of payments at. The businessman then receives the annual payment as long as the land is maintained.
Is that so hard to understand? The businessman isn't milking the system. The system had provided the subsidy for the farmer and the farmer has cashed it in with the businessman.
The fact the businessman is making a large return on the lump sum invested is a reflection on that setting up these deals isn't that easy. A couple of years ago I spent some time looking at them for a city contact and the difficulties and risk meant he walked away from the potential return.
And as to large landowners receiving large returns. If you pay people by the acre to manage land and reward them by the mile for planting hedges then those who have more will get more. Because they do more.
March 3, 2012
Word of the Day - Imposthume
“Dost thou know me bladder, / Thou insolent impostume?” snarled a character in John Fletcher’s The Island Princess. That was in 1621, when people had a more imaginative way with insults. Impostume is now rare, its infrequent escapes from the less-thumbed pages of our dictionaries being mostly in quotations from old herbals.
That’s because an imposthume or impostume is an abscess. It’s from Greek via the Latin apostēma. The Oxford English Dictionary notes that it’s “a word which has undergone unusual corruption”. On its way to us through French it was successively modified to empostume and then impostume. Meanwhile, Middle English had apostume, taken directly from Latin. This lost its initial vowel by a process called aphesis to become postume. By confusion with humus, an h was inserted to make posthume (the same thing happened with posthumous, from Latin postumus). By analogy, people came to believe impostume should similarly be spelled imposthume, the most common form from about 1700.
By the seventeenth century, impost(h)ume had become figurative, meaning a state of moral corruption, a festering sore on the body politic, or somebody metaphorically swollen with pride.
There is a word that could be so well applied to so many...
Mann, Virginia and the Suggestio Falsi
Mann said in an email that he was pleased that the legal campaign was over. But he added: "It's sad that so much money and resources had to be wasted on Cuccinelli's witch hunt against me and the University of Virginia, when it could have been invested, for example, in measures to protect Virginia's coastline from the damaging effects of sea-level rise it is already seeing."
As the author of the iconic "hockey stick graph" showing a sharp rise in warming in the 20th century, Mann has long been a target of those who deny the existence of climate change, who accuse him of manipulating data.
So the sea level in Virginia is rising.
The mean sea level trend is 4.44 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of /- 0.27 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from 1927 to 2006 which is equivalent to a change of 1.46 feet in 100 years.
Mann is correct and I wouldn't accuse him of manipulating the data, but the suggestio falsi is that this is a new and urgent problem caused by AGW.
March 2, 2012
Antarctic Ice Loss The Scary Numbers
Scientists have also used satellite observations of the land-based ice sheet to measure whether the Antarctic ice sheet has been losing or gaining ice.
Attempts to answer the question came up with estimates ranging from an increase of about 100bn tonnes of ice per year since the 1960s to a loss of 200bn tonnes a year over the same period. However, more recent reports agree that the ice sheet is losing ice – and indeed that the rate of loss has been speeding up.
The Antarctic Ice Cap contains about 85% of the world’s ice, which is about 80% of all the fresh water on earth. That ice weights about 24.5 million billion tonnes).
Assuming the higher figure of loss that is an annual loss of 200/24,500,000* 100 = 0.008% - we are lucky their measurements are so precise.
8 thousands of 1% - or are my maths wrong?
Friday Night is Music Night (Wandle Delta Edition)
The Wandle Delta is here:
Scientists have warned of the risk to marine life as climate change causes the oceans to acidify at the fastest rate for 300 million years.
The greatest acid scare since 1988. Will no one think of the kids?
Plague On Its Way Due To Global Warming
Research had shown that Europe's warming climate was making the spread more possible.
The possible arrival of African horse sickness was "the main worry," Professor Baylis said. There is a vaccine for it, but it is a live-virus vaccine which carried its own risks, he said,
Big Brother Warning
In the UK and beyond, we need to ask ourselves whether we are not drifting, imperceptibly, towards new forms of an authoritarianism that once seemed in permanent retreat.
....we need to be less complacent, in future, about those freedoms we say we cherish; but which we often let slide, when some man or woman in a suit tells us we would be safer with just a bit more form-filling here, a bit more fee-paying there, and – oh yes – those security cameras on every corner, to check that we’re doing as we’re told.
March 1, 2012
Being Unpatriotic About The Olympics
Whatever our politics, whatever our feelings about sport, the overwhelming majority of Britons hope fervently that the London Olympics this summer will be a resounding success
It has now been deemed "unpatriotic" to not wish the games well so I will tread carefully less I am sent a white feather.
But "overwhelming majority of Britons hope fervently that the London Olympics this summer will be a resounding success"? Really? I guess most people want it to pass off without major embarrassment and want to watch a bit of sport on the telly but are ashamed of the waste of money it all is. It is only a small unrepresentative example but I haven't met anyone who is fervent in hope about them, and that includes people who are working there, people with tickets and people who live near it.
And of course there are some old curmudgeon's who would love to see Seb Coe's inane grin wiped with fiasco after fiasco, but we are probably in the minority.
Whereas the Diamond Jubilee - people are looking forward to that, they remember the Royal Wedding last year and know a good show will be put on in a worthy extravanganza. Funny how the political class are not enthusing about it.