Sunday, 28 August 2011

I thought "The Science Is Settled"?

...yet someone thinks that:
in climate 
substantially revised"
Who is this maverick? Are they an errant blogger, clutching at straws they do not properly understand? Are they a "denier", flatly refusing to believe that the earth is round and that anthropogenic global warming is real?  No, this is CERN, the multinational research agency known for being fairly rigorous in their science.

But surely this is a minor point, a trivial side issue?  No, this is an important aspect of our understanding of climate. More from CERN:
Atmospheric aerosols play an important role in the climate. Aerosols reflect sunlight and produce cloud droplets. Additional aerosols would therefore brighten clouds and extend their lifetime. By current estimates, about half of all cloud droplets begin with the clustering of molecules that are present in the atmosphere only in minute amounts. Some of these embryonic clusters eventually grow large enough to become the seeds for cloud droplets. Trace sulphuric acid and ammonia vapours are thought to be important, and are used in all atmospheric models, but the mechanism and rate by which they form clusters together with water molecules have remained poorly understood until now.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Climate science is not "settled", much of what is officially promulgated about global warming is just opinion, and that the opinions you are fed are not even very solidly based.

Thank Heavens

Global governments 'must get tough on obesity', it seems.
Tougher action - including taxing junk food - is needed by all governments if the obesity crisis is going to be tackled, experts say.

The international group of researchers, who have published a series of articles in The Lancet, said no country had yet got to grips with the problem.
I must say, it is such a relief to hear that all the truly global problems have now been solved. No more wars, famine, genocide, dictatorial regimes, natural disasters, and so on.  All sorted.  All that "global governments" need worry about now is obesity.  There are parts of Africa that are going to be so pleased to hear that.

(H/T to Mummylonglegs)

Saturday, 27 August 2011


I re-discovered a video this week, which thought I had lost. Back in 1987, I was a teenager stranded for the summer at a remote Aero club, there on an RAF flying scholarship to learn how to fly single-engined Cessnas.

Now, flying training involves long periods of waiting interspersed with short periods of activity. There is plenty of book learning to do in the downtime, but you can only keep that up for so long. So the solitary TV in the corner would be on quite a lot (no Internet, remember...).

This video had just been released, and was surreal enough that it caused quite a fuss. The result was that it was on rather a lot:

All I had remembered of the video were the visuals (for obvious reasons). I quite liked the song, but didn't recall who it was or what it was called. Then, this week, the iPod came across the track for me at random, and suddenly I was back at the flying club, 17 again, looking out the window to see if the weather had lifted.

I've played the video a few times this week, and all the memories of my flying scholarship have come back, clear as day.  It's been nice.  And all it took was a single hook - this video.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Caterham update

I have a delivery date for the kit.... 30 September. Expect my posts to become a bit single-tracked after that date!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Where are the parents?

Wiggy has posted a thoughtful piece by @TooManyBlueys explaining the effect of process by which foster parents must discipline those in their care.

Essentially, they can't. Even minor stuff has to go via the Courts, the result of which is usually that the child is removed and placed somewhere else, such as a Young Offenders Institution or a prison. Whether this is due to the child's human rights or what, I do not know, but it is clearly insane. It interrupts any good work that might be being done with the child, and (arguably) infringes those very human rights by inflicting a disproportionate punishment.

So that's one to add to my list of prescriptions. Allow parents to, err, parent those in their care.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Is feminism patronising to women?

My interest was caught this morning by this tweet by Marie J, retweeted with approval by Elaine Chalus:
Why any woman in the UK would ever vote Conservative is completely beyond me.
I replied smugly, wondering if Mrs P (who I know votes in this way) could perhaps see something that they could not?

I was told, in reply, that clearly Mrs P has concerns other than the dire impact of incoherent policy making on women. That made me wonder. Does Mrs P have to see all issues purely from a woman's perspective? It would seem, according to Marie J and Elaine Chalus, that the answer to this is a resounding "yes":
Any woman who considers herself a person in her own right, should then also be able to understand the impact of policies on her own life, and thus be able to judge appropriately. That necessitates evaluating policies in terms of gender.
(Elaine Chalus)
Snap. I'd argue the same for any group unfairly affected by policy. Emphasis on *unfairly*.
(Marie J)

What this is saying to me is that, given that she is a woman, my wife must see all policies purely in terms of their effect on women.  All policies must be evaluated in terms of gender.  She must therefore identify herself as a woman only.  She may not (or should not?) look at a party's policies in the round, to identify whether, in her opinion, they would be beneficial to the country as a whole.  She must look at the effect of a party's policies on women only.

I think this is sexist.  I think this belittles women.

I think this says, in effect, that women should not worry themselves over complex stuff like international finance, national debts, deficit financing, the proper level of government intervention in the economy, and so on.  It is dangerously close to saying that women shouldn't worry about such things, they should leave them to the men - after all, men will at least understand them.  Just vote on the basis of which parties will offer childcare vouchers.  Don't fret your pretty little heads over the complex stuff.

Now, be absolutely clear; I reject that view entirely.  Simple experience has taught me that men can be utterly hopeless at such issues while women can be instinctively good at them, and I have seen it often enough in my day-to-day life.  In my opinion:

  • women are just as capable of understanding and holding a considered opinion on issues that are non-gender-related
  • women are not inclined to take a paranoid approach that regards every issue as intrinsically gender-biassed
  • women are perfectly capable of seeing the wider picture, seeing the effect of a set of policies on the country as a whole - not just from their own narrow perspective.

I am surprised to find myself (seemingly) being contradicted in this view by two apparently intelligent women.   Now, it is important for me to acknowledge that I may have misunderstood the views expressed - if so then I invite Marie and Elaine to set me right, which they can do here free from the constraints of 140 characters. If I have misunderstood, however, then Marie and Elaine may wish to reflect on how they communicate their views!

Mind you, if I understood correctly, and if this view is widely held, then it does at least explain how Labour managed to gain and keep so much support.

Saturday, 20 August 2011


Although simple in form, this poster is of course a cutting comment on the declining intellectual standards over the years - pointing out to us via the simplest of metrics how in a few short decades there has been a marked decline in the level of basic skills that can be expected of juveniles, even in Western democracies characterised by free universal education. Its message calls for action, pleads with us to instil those most fundamental of life skills into our youngsters.

Yes, I'm talking about the apostrophe, of course. But the cartoon is quite funny, too.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Real lawyers don’t jerk knees

This post, by Legal Bizzle, is worth a read.  Too often, a knee jerks, a straw man is attacked, and the debate advances not one jot.  In a clever allusion between contract negotiations and law & order debate, Bizzle warns us against such lazy thinking.

Off you go, have a read, let me know what you think.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Give this chap a medal

This deserves a wider audience.

OK, I understand that the criminal justice system is a bit busy at the moment, but let's try and find time to prosecute these drivers. His point about ambulances is spot on, but it's not the only reason.

The same thing happened next to me once, and when I did finally get to a junction that I could use, I couldn't get off the motorway because of all the people pushing past along the hard shoulder on my inside. Eventually, just I had to put on the horn and the indicator at the same time and go for it.

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse...

Also, it seems that all communities are involved. Paddy Murphy was heard to mention to his mate "my brother was among the looters who ransacked Argos in Manchester last night... he's got 500 catalogues if you want one".

There are some things money can't buy...

Borrowing needed to cover our deficit - £148.9 billion.

National debt that will one day need to be paid off - £1105.8 billion.

Watching France stare a downgrade in the face - Priceless.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A simple question

I filled Mrs P's car with diesel this evening. The bloke on the cashdesk was Middle Eastern in appearance, with a strong accent. We chatted while I fiddled with my PIN number. He had a question he wanted answering.

Why are they doing this? In Middle East, we have no Opposition party. We gave no rights. You have good society here. We come to England, to safest country in the world, and you have riots? Why? There is nothing to riot about here!
I couldn't really answer that.

I'm not making this up, either.

Lessons will be learnt...

Yes, it's the standard phrase, waiting in the wings, just itching to be used as soon as the fires die down and the yobs stop throwing stuff.  But will there be any truth in it?  Or will things just carry on as before?

What has happened is, without argument, completely out of proportion to any possible cause that may be cited.  Even if the man who was shot turns out to have been totally innocent of all charges and mercilessly executed by the Police (which I doubt, but...)  then how does looting a JJB Sports shop help that?  Did JJB provide SO19 with free trainers so that they could run into their firing positions more quickly?  No, I didn't think so.  These riots are pure opportunistic criminality, and nothing more.  The rioters are looting and burning because they have realised they can, they have realised that nothing will happen to them, they have realised that the rule of law has retreated.

So the lessons that need to be learnt are quite simple.  Reverse the soft-left bleeding-heart policies of decades.  Take a few decisive steps to re-assert the rule of law:

  • Tell the Courts to rip up the sentencing guidelines and keep the "community sentences" for crimes that caused no injury, loss or fear to other members of the community.  Stuff like TV licence evasion, not stuff like mugging or burglary.
  • Tell the Courts that if a previous sentence didn't stop the offending behaviour, that means it didn't work.  Therefore, the next one needs to be harsher.  A lot harsher.  
  • Locate a supply of rigid steel backbones, lubricate them well, and insert one into each serving Police officer above the rank of Chief Inspector.  Explain to them that their job is to police their areas, that the Officers beneath them need their support, and that if The Guardian phones up asking why force was used, they should (a) tell them the real truth, (b) do so immediately, and (c) offer to take the journalist along next time there is a mob, at the front of the police pack (naturally).  
  • Close the CPS and replace it with some kind of organisation which might actually prosecute people once in a while.  Explain to them that their job is to make life difficult and unpleasant for the criminal classes.  Make sure that the lawyers it hires include at least some of the sort who look for reasons why they can proceed, not reasons why they can't.  Speaking from experience, I can say that both sorts of lawyers exist, both are (in fact) equally useful, but that the latter need to be kept very firmly in check.
  • Add a new subsection to the Human Rights Act, to the effect that a Court shall have a sense of perspective in all its judgements, and shall take into account any behaviour by the Claimant that contributed to the alleged infringement of his or her human rights.
  • Pass a law establishing that teachers are indeed in loco parentis and that a punishment inflicted by a teacher is acceptable regardless of the opinion of the parent or guardian, provided that it is not grossly disproportionate.  
  • When a prisoner complains that his treatment is unfairly harsh, measure the harshness of his or her treatment against the harshness of his or her offence.  If the prisoner is whinging about something that pales into insignificance against the impact of their own crime, tell them to shut up and take it.  
Any other suggestions?

Out & About, some good news....

Popping out during my lunch break, what should I see in an Oxfordshire lay-by?

A low-loader.

A very large low-loader.

A very large low-loader being loaded.

A very large low-loader being loaded with an equally large, red,... water cannon.

From the look of the low-loader and the straps being used to tie it down, I'd say it is off on a journey somewhere.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Solve the Riots with More Spending....

Perhaps the recent riots are indeed caused by insufficient public spending. Blue Eyes has the prescription:
the only additional public funding which should result from this latest example of Britain’s total lack of institutional organisation should be channelled towards building prisons, beefing up the courts and getting the police out of their offices and onto the streets. Anything else is just a sop to the criminals.
Yep, that should do it.

Face Facts

Courtesy of The Filthy Engineer:

In a US context, but the principle applies equally well to us.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Going fast, getting nowhere: Neat Disabled Sign

Richard at Going fast, getting nowhere likes B3ta's suggestion of a better disabled sign:

I have to agree, that is very good.  However, I think the best suggestion is this guide to parking at the airport:

Thursday, 4 August 2011

We're all in this together

So Blue Eyes has been banned from Inspector Gadget's blog. Can't say I'm surprised, given the usual style of comments there. Blue committed the mortal, unforgiveable sin of criticising a policeman! Worse, he suggested that their pension scheme should bear some resemblance to that available to others! For this, he is apparently a troll and a banker (which is worse, I wonder?), and if he persists in arguing that police pensions should be like everyone else's then he shouldn't expect officers to turn up if he gets burgled.

Now, that last comment provoked the same reaction on my part as it did for Blue. Told in the comments that
my colleagues and I keep you safe at night. we [sic] investigate when you’ve been robbed, me [sic] maintain your way of life, we ensure the bad guys are always chased, so yes, you can pay our pension after a [sic] we retire.
I couldn't help but point out that:
I can honestly say that we do appreciate that. We really do. When you actually do it. However, what tends to happen is that when we call, it’s “not a priority”, or “no-one is available”, and when we have to sort it out ourselves because you’re not there, it suddenly is a priority to arrest one of us.
Blue Eyes even has a solid example (mine only come from family & friends...):
I tried to get my local Safer Neighbourhoods team to intervene with the people in the flat below me who smoke cannabis most evenings. As far as I can work out they simply don't work evenings or nights. The argument for the good pay and pensions is that it is an anti-social work pattern, but apparently not if you are on my local team!
That comment from Special Dibble is not the only example. PC Lightyear thinks that:
the emergency services are different due to the role they perform- you want the ambulance service to be cut back when you’re waiting to be cut out of a wrecked car? Or the fire brigade when you’re trapped in a burning building, or the old bill when youre [sic] house is being burgled.
This is the usual Police argument.  "We're special", they say.  "You need us, you'll miss us if we're gone".  True enough, we would indeed miss them.  In what way (exactly) does it make the Police special, though?  How long would the average Policeman cope if the water companies stopped supplying him with potable water?  Or if the supermarkets stopped supplying him with essentials such as bread, milk, (donuts...?) and so on?

And what about me?  I'm a patent attorney.  They don't need me, surely?  Except, maybe they do.  A good proportion of my work is for a company that leads the world in radiotherapy treatment; I secure them the protection they need for their inventions, allowing them to justify the research and development work that they do.  That development work has, over just a few decades, made radiotherapy treatment far safer, and far more effective.  Just as I want the Old Bill to turn up when my house is being burgled, I suspect Special Dibble will want my client to have found it worthwhile making that investment when he (or someone close to him) is diagnosed with a tumour.

The simple fact is, we all depend on each other.  Such is the nature of a market economy. The Police, however, seem to think they are in some way blessed.  Sorry to break the news boys and girls, but you're not.  That doesn't mean you're not appreciated (when you actually do your job), it just means you can drop the holier than thou attitude when you're dealing with the law-abiding public.

Just as I am a servant to my clients, so the Police are servants to all of us.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Plodding on

I've whinged about the police often enough. I think my views must be pretty well "on record" by now - i.e. that a police force operating on behalf of the law abiding populace to protect them from criminals is a very good idea and it would be nice if we had one.

As ever, it is a pleasure to see that I am not alone. Oscar India has noticed that a third of crimes reported to the police are not investigated. I find that surprising - I would have put the figure much higher, as my experience is that 100% of non-motoring matters were not investigated to any extent.

Anyway, he makes the point that I have tried to make:
The reason millions of us are increasingly angry about endless speed cameras, fines for "incorrect recycling" and so on isn't that we think we should be able to drive everywhere at 100mph or throw rubbish in the streets, it's because we feel that we're a walking cash machine for the police and State, that authorities are quick to rush in and fine us for such things because it's easy, yet when we need them as victims of far more serious crime, it's just too difficult to bother.
Hear hear.