Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Aliens aren't coming.

There has been a resurgence in the world of science, in the hunt for extraterrestrial life. Articles are appearing everywhere. One article complains that the conversion from analogue to digital transmission means the aliens can't find us any more. We aren't broadcasting on a wide range of frequencies now. Well, that might not be a bad thing because there's also speculation that any aliens who do visit might not be friendly. An open-house policy might not be the best policy.

"We might like to assume that if there is intelligent life out there it is wise and benevolent, but of course we have no evidence for this. "

Why would anyone assume that? Look around at the dominant species here. Wise and benevolent? I think not, overall, and any alien assuming that of us would be in for a very unpleasant surpirse.

Perhaps the aliens will simply move in and take all the oil, coal and gold. Would we do it to them? Yes. Immediately after we tried to buy their planet with some shiny beads. If there are aliens and if they are benevolent and trusting, they'll rue the day they met the human race.

Even the Royal Society is taking the idea of alien life seriously now. They've always considered it all 'woo' but no longer, it seems. Well, when a venerable scientific institution decides to look at something that's only in the realms of possibility at this stage, there is hope for science in general.

I have my own ideas of why aliens don't visit us or transmit to us. Look at how we treat people of our own species who are different. You don't even need to go as far as racism or sexism. Too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, likes a smoke, likes a drink, drives the wrong kind of car, has the wrong accent, believes something different, votes for the wrong politician and so on. We are nasty to each other because of differences an alien race wouldn't even be able to detect.

What would they imagine we'd do to them, an entirely different species?

Maybe they are receiving our transmissions and thinking 'Look out, it's the humans! Hide!' Who could blame them?

There might be another one.

Or there might not.

LogoThere are
or fewer people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

That only covers the USA and I don't live there so if there is one, it's not me.

Anyone know him?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tax month

I've just filled in my tax return and quailed at how much they want. In advance!

No wonder small businesses collapse in their first year here. We have to pay tax for next year as well as this year, even though we don't yet know how much we'll make next year.

That's why everyone who fills out a tax return leaves it until the last week of January. The tax has to be paid on the 31st of this month and the next year's tax is based on this year's earnings.

You can reduce your tax on account but if you reduce it too much you'll get fined. Therefore everyone is filling in tax forms this week because it's not possible to predict income any earlier than this. It's risky even now!

Soon it'll be over and I can get back to normal, but January is, and always will be, a bad time to talk to any UK self-employed business.

Our government really don't like us very much.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Real Green

I've been reading about the Potosi, a five-masted square-rigged ship built in 1895 with a steel hull. The best Internet link I can find is here. Yes, the weather is still dreadful here so I'm not going out.

This ship weighed 4000 tons. Proper British tons, not those French tonnes we have to use now. It could carry 6000 tons of cargo so when at sea it was ten thousand tons of stuff and all the sail meant it could do 14 knots and surprise a steamer or two that tried to cut across its bows.

It sailed from Germany to America, round the bottom of Africa and on to India and back to Europe twice a year.

Guess how much fuel it used?

None at all. It had no engine. It was entirely powered by sail.

Now, I'm not going to say that all those container ships and oil ships must do the same even though six of them produce more pollution than all the cars in the world, but consider...

The container and oil ships are huge. Far longer and wider than Potosi. They could have a few masts and sails and just think - when the wind's in the right direction they'd need no fuel. They could travel for free. When the wind is going the wrong way they could use their engines but imagine - free transport for a lot of the trip.

Go on, ship owners. You know you want to think about it at least.

Stuff the carbon trading. There is a way to transport your goods for free and in the current world climate you'll get massive kudos for doing it.

It'll make the ships more interesting too.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Snow and ships.

There's been a lot more snow since I took the photo and it's still coming down. It's very pretty but I won't be investigating anything until it's gone.

Just Peachie once asked if weather affected ghostly manifestations. I'm not sure although there have been reports of weather-linked phenomena, usually during, or just before, an electrical storm.

It's certainly true that weather affects the reporting of phenomena - because there are few hardy enough to go out and look for any ghosts in weather like this! It's reaching -20C (-2F) routinely here at night and rarely getting above freezing during the day. Roads are deadly, you can't even walk safely anywhere and there is no way I'm spending a night out in those temperatures.

So I've occupied my time with something else. Over a year ago, someone gave me an old model of a ship. They gave it to me because I build these for fun and it was on the condition that I restore it. Here it is - it's 'The Prince' as it was around 1670, after a rebuild that gave it more guns.

The structure was in decent shape, flagpoles and extremities were broken but easily repairable. The big issue was the rigging. This is an old model, built when houses had coal fires and humidity indoors was higher. What seems to have happened is that modern central heating has dried the thread and shrunk it so the rigging has snapped, or has pulled its moorings away. I can tell where most of it should go and I have some pictures of correctly-rigged models as a guide.

The first problem was the rigging thread. I ran out after re-rigging the bowsprit and foremast and couldn't get a perfect match. I now have a pretty close match that I hope won't be noticeable after it's been waxed. I run the thread through a block of beeswax to waterproof it because if it gets damp it'll stretch and sag, and if it gets too dry it'll shrink and break again.

Then there was the pulley blocks. On this model, the ropes run through wooden blocks representing pulleys and a lot were missing. I couldn't find any for sale and had just about resigned myself to trying to make some when I came across this site. All that time, and when I found them I bought a bag of 50 pulleys for £3.20 (less than five dollars). So I can now finish this and I'm snowed in so might as well get on with it.

The site has a lot of interesting stuff, very cheap. This ship will have a few extra cannons when it's done.

The paintwork needs attention but matching that will be hard. I might leave it alone.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


It's often said that Americans don't understand the British sense of humour because the American psyche doesn't 'get' irony. I don't think that's true. I've met several Americans and most of them understand the concept perfectly well.

The ones who should be on irony alert these days seem to be the British media. For today, without a hint of a smirk, Sky News carries two stories.

One describes how climate change (aka global warming) will be of benefit to farmers because it'll make it easier to grow crops. Demonstrating a spectacular lack of understanding of current British agriculture, a former president of the National Farmer's Union said:

"Maize, which has only really been seen in the south, will start to be grown further north, as will soft fruits like strawberries and raspberries, and more grape varieties will become viable in much of the UK."

I live north of Aberdeen. My garden grows strawberries and raspberries and plums and blueberries already, and has done for years. I didn't even plant the raspberries. They are wild ones. The problem we have here is not the cold - because it's not cold in the summer. The problem is the length of daylight hours. Crops that can be completed before the days shorten will grow perfectly well. Crops that need a few more weeks of daylight won't make it, no matter how warm it gets. Climate change won't change that.

Anyway, the govenrment plans to take control of farming because they think they know more about it than farmers. I think I'd better plant more vegetables this year.

Along with the standard 'it's going to get warmer' story we've heard for about a decade with no tangible effects, Sky news has one on the current weather situation in the UK.

It's the coldest winter for a hundred years. Fountains in London are frozen over. I can't remember the last time that happened. The whole country is at a standstill, power supplies can't cope and road grit is in short supply because nobody stocked up... because everyone believed there would be no more harsh winters because the world was warming.

I don't think sacking the people who made up the hockey stick graph is enough. I think they should be prosecuted. People are dying in the cold here because the authorities actually fell for the 'grapes growing in Scotland' stories and made preparations for the mildest of winters. This current cold is forecast to last well into January and beyond. It's hit -18C (-2F) in places and that's without windchill. Roads are unploughed, ungritted and impassable. We used to cope perfectly well with this kind of weather - before the climate criminals convinced everyone they'd never need the ploughs and grit again.

Both stories from the same source on the same day. Don't tell me Americans don't get irony. British news sources certainly don't.

Oh, and if you still plan to convince people that global warming is more than just a profitable scam, I'd wait a month or two if I were you. Trying it today could get you a punch in the face.

The UK is a land of walking corpses.


If this video is correct, the UK government declared the entire population legally dead in 1666, while the Fire of London raged. That law is still in force. This is therefore Zombieland because we're all legally dead.

So the State owns everything we think we own. We have seven years to present ourselves as living beings and claim our entitlement or the State keeps it.

The thing is, it's seven years from the date of your birth. Not seven years from when you find out about it! So nobody has claimed and nobody is likely to.

Legally, we exist only as fictional entities who are permanently in debt even though our currency doesn't exist either, and we are always guilty in court. There are three more videos and it looks like there'll be more. I'll be looking out for them.

Searching for dead people on the internet throws up some interesting stuff sometimes. This particular stuff is scarier than any ghost.