Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's just not British.

Our government and legal system have sunk to levels of pettiness and spiteful vendetta that you'd expect from some tyrant-run banana republic somewhere.

This week they have imprisoned a pub landlord for allowing people to smoke in his pub. Even though 90% of his customers are smokers and even though he does not sell tobacco and does not actively encourage smoking and even though his pub is private property, not a State owned institution and even though he is a publican, not a policeman.

He, like all publicans, is expected to enforce the prohibition of a legal substance on his own private property. The antismokers claim there has been 'widespread acceptance' of the smoking ban. In fact, the reason publicans observe the ban is that they will get six months in jail if they don't.

This week, a woman who found an ancient coin when she was nine years old has had it forcibly removed by the State who claim it as 'treasure'. She will get no compensation. What she did get was a fine and a criminal record.

Now I read of a man who claims to be able to heal cancers, who is being prosecuted under a law that states that the advertising of cancer cures is illegal. He is not advertising. The case hinges on a website full of testimonials by others. It's not his website, he doesn't run it and was not aware of its existence. His patients set it up. Patients who, in all cases, were under standard medical care throughout and whose doctors were surprised at their recoveries. The faith healer made no attempt to dissuade anyone from seeing medical doctors. Whether he can really do what he claims is not the issue here. He is being prosecuted for something he has not done, just because his claims offend the State.

'British' used to mean 'fair play'. Not any more. It now seems to be associated more with 'spite', 'malice' and 'petty officialdom'. Those are just a selection. If you want to know why there is an epidemic of high blood pressure in the UK, just browse the UK newspapers.

The country has gone to pieces. The worst part is, hardly anyone seems to have noticed.

In five minutes it will be the first of March. It's still snowing. I'm climbing the walls here!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fire or ice?

There has been more snow. Again. There have been thaws but there has not been a single day of zero snow since before Christmas. Temperatures locally have hit -20C (-3F) and even though it's currently just above freezing, the snow steadfastly refuses to leave.

So it has now been over two months of solid winter. Much more snow than in recent years although we didn't get it as bad as Washington, and there have been nastier winters here in the past although they didn't last as long. There have been reports of snow in Florida and Texas, places I've never visited but which I would be unlikely to associate with snowmen and toboggans.

Yet, in the face of all this, we have the Church of Climatology once more spouting its insistence that the world is warming.

"It's not warming the same everywhere but it is really quite challenging to find places that haven't warmed in the past 50 years," veteran Australian climate scientist Neville Nicholls told an online climate science media briefing.

Is it? Really, really challenging? Newspapers here have carried satellite images of the UK on which you can play 'spot the green bit' because the entire country was covered from end to end in snow. It didn't look very warm from up there and it certainly didn't feel warm down here.

"January, according to satellite (data), was the hottest January we've ever seen," said Nicholls of Monash University's School of Geography and Environmental Science in Melbourne.

Huh? You mean it's been colder than -20C here in previous years? Odd, I don't seem to recall that. How about Washington under a mountain of snow? Perhaps the insulating properties of all that snow kept it warm.

"Last November was the hottest November we've ever seen, November-January as a whole is the hottest November-January the world has seen," he said of the satellite data record since 1979.

You might want to check the calibration on those satellites. You might also want to make clear that these references to '...we've ever seen' refer to satellite information that started in 1979 and they are not the same satellites. They've been upgraded and replaced. More accurate instruments watch the planet now, and the previous data wasn't as good so don't pretend it's a continuous and reliable measurement. While you're at it, stop pretending that 30 years of measurements have any meaning at all when applied to global climate.

Data has been conveniently 'lost'. Data was cherry picked from specific tracking stations, most of which had been overtaken by urban sprawl and were therefore affected by urban heat generation. Absolute lies and invented threats have been exposed. The planet is freezing and still, still they shout 'It is warming. The snow is an illusion. All hail the Green God' and then they complain that people don't respect scientists any more. Respect? You are lucky you haven't been tarred and feathered.

Then there is the massive iceberg that has just broken off Antarctica. No, it is not 'evidence of global warming'. Another massive iceberg crashed into an already-cracked ice shelf and broke it. It's something that would have happened even if there wasn't a single human on the planet.

What this thing can do is of far more immediate concern that scrabbling to hold on to grant money while the global warming scam implodes.

Massom said the shearing off of the ice tongue and the presence of the Mertz and B-9B icebergs could affect global ocean circulation.

Not some imagined effects that might or might happen in a hundred years. This can happen now.

The area is an important zone for the creation of dense, salty water that is a key driver of global ocean circulation. This is produced in part through the rapid production of sea ice that is continually blown to the west.

"Removal of this tongue of floating ice would reduce the size of that area of open water, which would slow down the rate of salinity input into the ocean and it could slow down this rate of Antarctic bottom water formation," he said.

This lump of ice could wreck the distribution of warm water across the oceans by stopping what amounts to a 'pump' that drives ocean currents. Warming? That will only happen between the tropics because the heated water there won't be able to go away. As for the rest of us, well, better stock up on thermals because we live where that warm water used to go.

While the idiots continue to lie to protect all the money that's tied up in global warming, there's a switch being thrown in Antarctica that could start the next ice age. Not in decades. Next year.

What are we going to do about it? Nothing at all. We are still shutting down power stations and forcing people to turn off their heating with massive taxes and cranked-up energy prices and subsidised wind farms that don't work. The threat of freezing? No, can't do anything about that because it's not politically expedient. The money is in warming, not cooling.

It's always been about money. Ask Al Gore (if you can ever get a straight answer out of him). He has become very rich indeed by sending the rest of us back to a Middle Ages existence.

These people are not merely fools. They are very dangerous people indeed. While they demand we prepare for deserts, we should be preparing for ice.

While people freeze to death because they can't afford heating, these fools are calling for higher fuel taxes. While companies shed jobs to pay for increased beurocratic interference, the fools call for more penalty charges on emissions. Meanwhile the snow falls in Florida.

They should be tried for treason.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Creating evolution.

The creation/evolution fight is firing up in the UK again. Should creationism be taught in schools? It's about time something was! They get precious little science education these days.

I've thought about this a lot over the years and my conclusion is... I don't care.

I don't care if this planet is six billion years old, six thousand years old, or was created as an illusion just before I was born simply to annoy me. Which it does. Every day. I don't care if dinosaurs roamed the earth. They don't now and that's good enough for me. Being stepped on by a careless brachiosaur is one risk I'm happy to lose from my daily routine. If I was a palaeontologist I would care, but I'm not, so I don't.

Was it deliberately created or was it formed through random physical accumulation of bits of stone? Doesn't matter. It's here now and it'll still be here long after I'm finished with it. Long after everyone has finished with it.

Then again, as a scientist, shouldn't I be violently and religiously opposed to teaching children creationism?

I would be opposed to teaching it in science class because science isn't taught in church. That's a matter of being fair about it. I would have no objection whatsoever to teaching it in schools, whether it was in religion class or in a new class entitled 'alternative science' where they could also learn about things like homeopathy and feng shui and make up their own minds about it all.

That 'making up their own minds' part is the reason I don't oppose it. I oppose any attempt - by anyone - to force their own view of the world on others. Especially in schools. Schools should be places of learning and should include things I don't believe are right as well as things I do. What if I'm wrong? What if I were to spend my life forcing schools to teach only those things I believe are important, and then find out I was wrong?

When you get right down to it, we have religion saying 'God made the universe' and science saying 'It just sort of happened'. Not much to choose, really. A big bang, or 'let there be light', which are the same thing in the end.

For almost everyone on the planet it simply doesn't matter. A bricklayer isn't going to be affected one jot if the big bang is right and religion is wrong, or vice versa. An accountant won't find his numbers suddenly change from base 10 to base 13 if the story of the flood is finally proven or disproven. The reality is, the entire issue matters at all to very few people. It affects a few very specific scientific disciplines and it affects a few religious doctrines which aren't going to change anyway.

Which is right, science or religion? Sometimes it matters. If I ever get cancer I'd put my trust in chemotherapy over prayer, but would I refuse to let people pray for me? No I wouldn't. I don't believe it would work but I don't have proof that it won't. It won't harm me to try. Even so, I wouldn't refuse the chemotherapy and rely entirely on prayer.

With creation, it really doesn't matter which is right. Don't we all have enough problems without arguing about where we came from? I'm more interested in where we're going because with the current state of the world, it doesn't look like it's going to be Disneyland.

In schools, children should have the opportunity to learn everything. Everything. Even stuff I personally think is complete nonsense which can't possibly be true, like Marxism and Belgium. Armed with all the information they can hold, they can then decide which to trust and which to discard. For themselves. Like people used to do in the old days before they all decided to let someone else tell them what to think.

Few of those children will become priests and few will become scientists who study evolution. For them, the argument matters.

For the others, the ones who become architects and plumbers and bankers and electricians and even those who become chemists and most other kinds of scientist, it really doesn't matter at all. There is no conflict in being a chemist who believes in God. Not even a biochemist. The two mindsets are not mutualy exclusive at all.

Although I would caution against any scientist, faced with inexplicable results, writing a paper that concludes 'God did it'. Most scientific journals need a little more detail.

Teach those kids everything. Let them decide.

Although, looking at education in the UK at the moment, perhaps that should be 'Teach them something'.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Propellors in the fog.

Did you ever see that John Carpenter film 'The Fog'? Ghostly pirates come in with the sea-fog to take revenge on the descendants of their enemies. Great fun.

Now you can experience a creepy fog around the British coast, courtesy of modern garden ornaments posing as technology.

I'm all in favour of renewable energy but the simple fact is, these things don't work. The wind is not a reliable source. If there's no wind, there's no power. If there's too much wind, they have to be locked down or they'll break. That's why their power generation is always written as 'up to'. A lot of the time, it's zero. Much is made of Scandinavian use of these windmills but little is mentioned of their high cost of electricity, nor of how much they have to pay for imported power when the wind stops.

As for green credentials, has nobody ever wondered how a windmill on a 60-metre stick can stand up in the wind and not even sway? There is an enormous block of concrete under each and every one of them. Add that into the steel production to make and maintain them and they'll produce more emissions than they'll ever save.

There is one killer argument against these things that's rarely mentioned but there's a bit of a giveaway in the article. The fog forms because the rotating blades mix the warm wet air near the sea surface with the cold air above them. However, that can't happen when it's windy because the wind will just blow the fog away. How can they be rotating if there's no wind?

They are rotating because it's sunny. Those long blades will warp in the sun's heat so they have to rotate to even out the heating across their surfaces. When there's no wind they are rotated by powering them with electricity. Not only are they producing no power under those circumstances, they are actually using it!

Still, they do produce a very creepy fog.

I don't know why we aren't working more on tidal power. The tide is not variable, it happens all the time, never stops and never will. The UK isn't a particularly good place for solar power and wind is very variable, from weeks of no wind to gale-force blasts. The tide is the most reliable thing we have.

I wonder if anyone's thought of rain power? We do get an awful lot of that. Turbines in every downpipe, maybe?

Could be worth thinking about. I have some downpipes that will soon need to be replaced anyway. I wonder how hard it would be to fit a waterwheel?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The beautiful people.

It's snowing. Again. The last lot had only just melted away and it's all coming back again. It's enough to make you believe that ice crystals reincarnate.

So, no investigating for the time being, therefore lots of time to browse the papers for some news that doesn't involve something getting banned or some vicious criminal getting let off with a warning while the old lady who tried to stop him goes to jail. Such stories are getting hard to find.

One story claims that Americans are the most attractive people in the world. I've never visited. Perhaps I should. The average British street has some very attractive people in it too, but also a high proportion of those who look like extras from Lord of the Rings. The kind who didn't need makeup to play orcs. We also have a Prime Minister with a face like a bag of spanners and the temperament of a Siamese cat that has been forcibly hurled into a patch of wet nettles, as well as an entire government that seems to have been selected on the basis of repellence in both features and personality, which can't help the average at all.

I haven't met many Americans, which I suppose is a consequence of not having been to America as well as a natural dislike of social situations that might have people in them. The few I've met have proved to be very pleasant people indeed, as have all those I've had occasion to communicate with over the internet. So from my own limited sample set, Americans come out well above the British.

It's not really a fair comparison, because I've never met or communicated with American lunatic fundamentalists with one-issue crusades like the Westboro Baptist Church or Al Gore, whereas I have unfortunately met many British idiots. We do seem to have more than our share. Somehow, they even manage to get into positions of power. Okay, Americans sometimes elect idiots too, and so do other countries, but only in Britain do we seem to make it a condition of employment. We now have councils who fine people because someone else has scrawled graffiti on their walls or because their bins are filled just a little too much. We have a government who are in uncountable debt but are more concerned about writing 'warning - this drink contains drink' on wine bottles bought only by people who already know exactly what's inside. This country has gone from being a world power with an empire that spanned the globe into what can most generously be described as 'a silly place'.

Maybe Americans are the most attractive people in the world. Maybe that's down to plastic surgery and Vogue magazine's insistence on perfection. Maybe it's because they aren't as maniacally paranoid as most current British people. America has ugly loonies too, but we Brits have, I'm sure, the ugliest and the looniest.

At least we are still world leaders at something.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A new ghost pic.

Gwrych castle, in Abergele (if you're not Welsh, it's best not to attempt pronounciation. Untrained attempts at the language can be fatal), has long been regarded as a haunted place. Now there's a new and very clear photo of a girl at a first floor window.

It looks like a reflection in the glass, of someone standing outside, but if you click on the arrows below the photo in that article, it's clear there's nobody outside.

A couple of notable points:

a) In the UK, 'first floor' is upstairs. I believe in many places, 'first floor' is the one at ground level. In the UK we call that 'ground floor' and start numbering above it.

b) There's no floor in that room. Most of the castle is a ruin and unsafe. If she's a dressed-up fake, she must be on a pretty tall stepladder and since she's not holding on to anything, she must have nerves of steel. The floor she should have been standing on is now a mass of rubble on the floor below.

So it's a hard one to explain away. She can't be a reflection from outside unless you accept both levitation and corporeal invisibility as realities. She can't be standing inside because there's nothing to stand on. Photoshop? Well it could be done in photoshop but the photographer is not a ghost hunter, is making no money or publicity (the article says he's a company boss but doesn't name the company) and has no obvious motive to produce a fake.

She's not explainable by pixellation or pareidolia. Far too clear an image. Her manner of dress is nondescript, could be 18th century or could be yesterday.

I can't explain this one away or find any non-ghostly explanation other than photoshop, and you can apply 'photoshop' to any ghost photo that has ever been or will ever be produced since the invention of the computer. So that's no help.

It's a pity he used digital rather than film. Then again, film is harder and harder to find these days.

Looks like it could well be genuine to me. If it's not genuine, then it would have to be deliberately faked, and I can't see any reason for this photographer to do that. Some of the comments below the article cry 'fake' but they have not (so far) provided any real explanation. They're just the sort who would cry 'fake' if a ghost poked them in the eye.

Take a look while you can. Newspapers tend to drop older stories to make way for new ones and the images are copyright-locked so I can't copy them here.

Nice to see the paranormal getting in the news again. It's been a while.

What a world.

I've decided to start smoking again. The advent of third hand smoke, where non-smokers can be harmed by the mere whiff of tobacco odour on a smoker who has come back inside after being forced out into sub zero temperatures to partake of a legal activity, has convinced me. There are too many feeble idiots in the world now. If there is a God, it's time for another flood. This time, no ark.

There's just no point trying to be nice to these people any more. They aren't worth the effort. I'm going out tomorrow to buy some real cigars and smoke them at home while it's still legal. Moves are already afoot to make it illegal to smoke cigars in my own car or my own home. I will disobey those laws. Enough is enough.

Should I be scared of the authorities? Really? Look at what I have to fear. A police force who refused to enter a river to save a trapped child because health and safety law said they might be at risk of getting a bit cold and wet. I'm supposed to respect and fear weak and worthless people like these? I will not.

I am not a strong swimmer. If I had been there I would have tried. I might have failed and had to be rescued too, I might have suffered the embarrassment of spending time in hospital and I might even have died.

Better that than to live with the memory of watching a child freeze in a river for NINETY MINUTES because a set of rules was more important than a child's life. These people expect to be respected and obeyed. I think they should be shot.

So I will go back to smoking. It might shorten my life, it might not. It is a small act of rebellion against a country that is increasingly full of bubble-wrapped automatons who follow the rules, fear everything that exists and believe every piece of rubbish that is spouted by alleged experts who demonstrably have no idea what they are talking about.

I might not live so long as I would as a non-smoker, but I'll be a lot more relaxed about it.

I don't currently see a downside to that. This is not a world worth persisting with.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Killer Cat?

Many old religions revere cats. They were sometimes said to be connected with guiding the dead into the afterlife. Witches were usually assumed to be habitual cat-keepers. Cats and the supernatural have always been linked. It's not surprising. Cats are weird things.

Even so, it's a surprise to find one that can reliably predict who is going to die.

He's very good at it, apparently. So is he predicting, or is he a furry little serial killer?

Either way, I hope he stays away from me.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Not so simple.

It's still snow here and tonight the light rain has turned the street into a skating rink. I'm not driving on that. There are signs of melting so maybe, soon, life can get back to normal.

So I've been browsing and I keep coming up against the question 'can it be too cold to snow?'

The obvious answer is - if it could, there'd be no snow in the Arctic or the Antarctic. So it can't. And yet the pseudoeducated keep coming up with 'Yes it can'. Their argument is that at sub-zero temperatures, the air cannot hold enough moisture to produce any precipitation.


It's partly true, and that's why it rains/snows. The argument requires a static system and we don't have one. Air moves about. The technical term for this is 'wind'. In warmer regions, air picks up moisture. When moisture-laden air moves into colder regions, the moisture drops out. Depending on the temperature of the colder region, it could drop out as clouds, rain, snow or hail. Warm and cold are relative terms so the moisture content of air at zero degrees will drop out if the air cools to negative degrees. All that matters is the difference in temperature, not the absolute temperature itself.

So the argument that cold air can't hold moisture is not a justification of the 'too cold to snow' myth. It's an explanation of why snow (and rain) happens at all. Warm wet air comes into a colder region and the moisture it contains precipitates. That's how come it can snow in Antarctica at temperatures in double figures below zero.

It cannot be too cold to snow. It all depends on whether incoming air was warmer before it arrived.

The other thing I found was centrifugal force, which I was told at school was a myth.

Perhaps not.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


It's still snowing here. There were a few days of thaw in which my pond melted enough to let three dead fish surface but it's been iced over for almost three months and I have doubts that I'll see any survivors in spring. I have never before had a fish die of freezing. One of those fish has been in there for over ten years. He's not dead yet, I hope, but he'll be getting lonely soon unless the global warmers can produce what they promise. So far they have produced the opposite, garnished with lies.

Nothing ghostly to report. I, like other investigators, look out at the weather and think 'No, sod it'. We're not freezing to death on the off-chance of catching a photo which, let's face it, is down to luck and will be called a fake anyway. Besides, the chances of joining the dead are enhanced by black ice and lack of grit on the roads. There's no point in proving the existence of the afterlife when you're already in it.

So I'll have to find something else to talk about. There's no way I'm going ghosthunting in temperatures like this.

I don't want to be one, not just yet.