Saturday, February 23, 2008

Told you so

I wonder if the AGW crowd will still be trying to punish us all with their visions of doom and eco-guilt when it starts to get really cold. All through the media, we are being told that the temperature is going up, Polar Bears are falling through the ice and WE'RE ALL DOOMED!

Then why is it so cold, with global average temperature (Satellite measurement) down? This is official. Also official is the increase in Antarctica's ice sheet, snow in the Mediterranean, Middle East and China. I quote from Christopher Bookers column in England's Daily Telegraph;
"Temperatures were lower than their 20th century average for the first time since 1982. Snow cover in the northern hemisphere was at its greatest extent since 1966. At the other end of the world, Antarctic ice-cover was at its most extensive since satellite records began in 1979, 30 per cent above the January average"

As I reported in December, Vancouver Island is suffering more snow than in the past twenty years, and Winter still has a couple of months before it's really over. Funnily enough, this goes completely against the AGW dogma that is still being peddled as fact, and fits in with a Solar sunspot minimum. As I have written before, 'Climate change' is a political phenomenon, not an actual phenomenon.

To quote the last lines of 'Bagpipe Music' by Louis MacNiece;
"The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall forever,
But if you break the bloody glass, You won't hold up the weather."

Winding up my brother

Busy catching up on reading a couple of North American authors whose work I had trouble finding in the UK. Jack London and Damon Runyon. Great writing with cracking little stories to boot. Wish I could write that well. By comparison, my own humble style feels pedestrian and sluggish, whilst one of Runyon's little tales of Broadway rips along at a merry pace, dancing around literary convention with aplomb, and London expertly conjurs up the frozen wastes of the Yukon in a succinct but atmospheric way. Terrific reading.

Back in the UK I always had real trouble finding the more grown up works of London and Runyon. Every library request I ever made for said authors work was met with a blank faced response ("You want who?"). I also had trouble finding anything by Hemingway, apart from 'For whom the bell tolls'. Perhaps it was just our county library.

Anyway, Elder Brother called from the UK to see how poorly we were getting on today. We are doing fine and I told him so. He seemed mildly disappointed. Further wound him up by waxing lyrical about the climate here on Vancouver Island and all the new friends we are making. Brilliant sunshine, going 'tyre kicking' with a workmate (Looking for a new car for him) in a couple of weeks. Learning about the local customs and fitting in rather than doing the expat thing. Visiting old friends here on the island, and making plans to bring my mother over this summer for a break. I could hear Elder Brother going greener by the moment. He dug out the old chestnut that he'd been over here thirty odd years ago, but it was obvious that he was disappointed that we were actually not doing all that badly. Even the most casual listener in on our conversations would rapidly ascertain that he is always looking to hear how I have cocked up.

Elder Brother and I have a 'history'. I am mildly jealous because he got the education (Public school, University, foreign travel etc. He can even play a musical instrument) while Little Brother (Me) went through the University of Life, and has through various alarums and excursions turned out like the human version of a swiss army knife. E.G. I can do most general tasks; fixing anything from a Computer to a Wheelchair and all points inbetween. Oh yes, and I've written a book, had some of my writing published, but not enough to make a regular living at it. In short, our relationship boils down to this; he tends to look down on me, but I don't look up at him.

Truth be told, the only problem I have at present is with Dog. He will not come out for walks unless I drag him out. Mostly I think this is down to the local Bald Eagle population frightening the bejasus out of him. In the UK he was used to chasing Sparrows and Starlings, but the local wildlife is a bit too big for my chickehearted mutt.

Time approaches for my daily beachcombing perambulation to go and inspect the intertidal foreshore. Hell of a lot of Starfish. Lots of Common Starfish which are mostly bluey purple round here, absolute shedloads of Sunflower Starfish, all evenly spaced at two and a half metre intervals. Quite a lot of green and red Anenomes on the rocks and logs. Right. Time to go.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

There's clever and then there's clever

Wife and I stood outside our place last night watching the lunar eclipse pass through totality. Spent a few critical minutes going 'wow' and suchlike as the smoky red disc darkened. I've only ever seen two full lunar eclipses before, and all of them have been different. The first I ever saw was almost totally obscured with only a faint red disc. Same for the second. This time the disc looked like it was heavily obscured by a red smog. Even through my fairly low powered 7 x 35mm binoculars there was little observable difference, although of course the moons disc appeared larger, and strangely more three dimensional.

Minor aggravation with a 20 year old piece of NHS dentistry which chose last night to fail, but it isn't painful. Unfortunately I may have to lose a tooth. A Dentists bill for CDN$2000 on a possible root canal and new crown is a bit too steep for me at present. As matters stand I'll still have to spend CDN$200 on an extraction and maybe a couple of fillings. Shame, and I didn't think there was a problem. Just goes to show how wong you can be.

Picked up on a news story from earlier this month that a chap called David Suzuki had made a rather ill advised public statement which gave right wing bloggers a field day. He indicated that political leaders who denied that there was a real problem with Anthropogenic Global Warming should be arrested and jailed.

I have no doubt that Mr Suzuki is a reknowned and brilliant man in his field, which happens to be genetics, yet I feel that he might be being stupid in a way that only very clever people can be. Jailing politicians for 'ignoring the science' is one of those exhortations which rather devalue any arguments he might put forward. Jailing people, even politicians, for their point of view has been tried by a number of regimes for centuries. The problem is that their ideas always leak out. You can't jail ideas. The only real way to deal with false ideologies if to hold them, kicking and squealing, up for careful examination. For mockery even. Ideas can be suppressed, but never judicially eliminated without genocide, and even then without too much success.

Mr Suzuki's problem here is twofold; firstly a lot of the AGW arguments are being disputed in open forums at quite a high level. Gores assertion that higher atmospheric CO2 causes a warming effect when observations indicate that higher levels of CO2 are actually a result of an increase in global temperature. In England, even a high court judge pointed out nine areas of inconsistency in Gore's film, 'an inconvenient truth' which was being pedalled as factual in UK educational establishments. Secondly, he appears so convinced that his arguments are infallible that he is contravening one of the fundamental scientific errors; that of logically and consistently applied doubt.

What with the snow all over the place including Greece, perhaps the AGW crowd might concede that while the climate changes, there isn't a lot we as a species can do about it.

On the other hand, there is stuff we can do about pollution, which is a problem. There is stuff we can do about overfishing, which is also a problem. We can improve international shipping standards so that old and dangerous ships are not run until they sink, leaving oil slicks which do poison wildlife and harm the ecosystems. We could rigidly enforce 'No commercial fishing' zones to let fish stocks recover. We could reduce our use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and so help to prevent algal blooms, which have a number of deleterious effects. There are things we can do to make this world a better and cleaner place, and although Jailing politicians sounds like a good idea, we should be doing it for the right reasons, like when they get caught with their greasy little hands in the public purse.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Today I am a much happier fellow. My work permit was approved yesterday, and today I have a Canadian Social Insurance Number, with leave to remain for the next twelve months. First payday is scheduled to be at the end of March. Not that we need it of course, but it means neither I nor Wife have to return to the UK with all its economic and social problems. We are planning to ride out the UK recession over here, taking advantage of the lower cost of living.

Kids are settling down to life without us dogging their every step, and seem to be doing well, although my thoughts of them are forever tinged with a natural anxiety for the next generation's well being. Youngest is making noises about coming over to Canada to do some post graduate study. Eldest is keeping us guessing. All her activity is centred around her friends, but she made positive noises during their Christmas visit, and if current boyfriend doesn't buck his ideas up, he might end up as one of those sad acts who you find in pubs every night bemoaning the chances they never took.

Spoke to the local immigration officer who has been so wonderfully helpful of late, and offered my heartiest thanks. It's still a scary learning curve, but I think that's the steepest bit over. Next step, BC Driving Licence and Health Insurance. Got to get my head in the BC version of the Highway Code.

Any old road up; the fishing season approaches, I'm feeling pretty amused by life, and Wife is smiling once more. So far, so good.

Monday, February 18, 2008

News from the UK

Busy trying to sort out work permit so's I can take my new job. Last time round was a bit of a cock up, but we have since been to see immigration, who have helped us with my application. By tomorrow I should have had the problems ironed out, and might just be able to go and actually do some work.

Not that I'm keen to go back to the UK any time soon. The news is uniformly dire with nary a glimpse of a silver lining. Bills are rising all the time; Phone, Gas, Electricity, Council tax, food, petrol and transport costs. Bankruptcies are at record levels. The Government has nationalised it's first Bank. A 'credit crunch' is in progress. Taxes are up. Services are down. You pay a grand a year, and if you're lucky the Local Authority doesn't bug you, and might, just might, if you ask them really, really nicely, empty your bins once a month. Not only that but people are being murdered on the street and their killers given comparatively light sentences if caught by a Police 'Service' that is so busy collecting statistics, that the Constables don't get out on the streets doing their job half the time. The only people who seem to be making any money are the Politicians and their hangers on, who are trousering more than I used to make in a year after tax in expenses alone. Well, them and a few city traders. Although I never begrudged the money men their massive wedges. At least they don't go round telling the rest of us what to do.

Oh yes, and that doesn't even mention the demands for Sharia law from a minority of the population, and the selling of old Englands soul and sovereignty to the ever more bloated European Union. Hells Bells and ecky thump! I am glad I got offered the job I was.

Over on Vancouver Island, life is comparatively peaceful, with only odd bits of body found washed up on the shores of sparsely inhabited islands like the three right feet washed up on Valdez in the past year. I found the carcase of a Deer on the shoreline, and something that looked like a human tibia, but after careful examination, and careful perusal of some textbooks, saw that it was a bone from one of the local Deer that had tried to swim the narrows and drowned. The two articular grooves at the bottom were the big clue. So it was that I didn't waste the RCMP's time with a false alarm. From those I've met, they seem a decent bunch. Although I wouldn't like to get the wrong side of the law anyway.

Have been pounding the keyboard on a new project inspired by my own blog musings about going to the stars. I'm enjoying it, and don't really care about submitting it to any publisher. It's too niche, too rough cut. Too small a market sector.

Weather has been nice this weekend. Glorious light reflected from Mudge and Link in the late afternoon. This is a tiny tranche of Canadian Paradise. I am so very lucky to be here.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Time travel

The Large Hadron Collider comes on line shortly, and already the idiots with nothing better than a degree in ‘Media studies’ (A non subject if ever there was one) are posting dire predictions about what such a device will do. There is much speculation about ‘Time travel’ becoming possible and 'rifts in space time', which shows how weak a grip on reality some people have.

What these prophets of doom fail to notice is the singular lack of time travel at other, similar but far smaller installations. In essence, the principle of the big one at CERN is a bigger and more sophisticated machine than previous incarnations. A charged plasma is accelerated round and round in a superconducting magnetic circle before being ‘fired’ into a ‘target’, or made to collide with a dissimilarly charged plasma going in the opposite direction at a given point in the circuit. The resulting reaction is then examined, and postulates compared to the results. Of course, it’s all a lot more sophisticated than that, but as far as basic principles are concerned, that description is close enough.

Current theory on Time Travel indicates that a huge dense mass would be required to make it possible, and whilst accelerating particles to near light speed might increase their mass, that takes energy, and all the power stations in all the world wouldn’t even come close to the energy levels required to move more than a molecule a day back in time. Even my schoolboy physics is sufficient to tell me that.

Upon reflection over that last paragraph, I would insert a qualification; ‘within the current framework of knowledge”. New stuff is being discovered every day, technical problems overcome, workarounds found for sticky problems; ergo, at a given energy level within an environment such as the LHC, the principles enabling a much sought after artificial wormhole generator might be discovered. The only certainty is that framework of knowledge is constantly changing. Old assertions are challenged and disproved, others may be found to be true all along. Others may be only found to be true under a highly specific set of circumstances. Only careful experimentation by the guys at Stanford, CERN, and a few other places will tell.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Dangerous to know

Busy day today, fixing wheelchairs and aids for the disabled. I just got on with it, not fussing the rest of the guys with 'what do you want me to do now?' I just picked my jobs and did the ones I could. I like working with my hands. It's absorbing, even cathartic, and strangely enough helps me think. Successfully fixed four wheelchairs, a stroller, and a few other bits and pieces.

I used to blog about my last UK job under a pseudonym, and had a regular readership of over 2500 'hits' a week. During December 2006 this rose to over 8000 individual readers a week on the run up to Christmas. Not like this blog, which is a very placid and obscure little backwater in the blogosphere, which suits me just fine.

Six months after I finished that job and stopped posting about my job on the blog, my ex-employers thought they'd found me out, and my old alter ego got a threatening 'cease and desist' e-mail from my old boss. One of the things I gave thinking time to today was what I was going to do about the threat, which has been bothering me for quite a while. What it boiled down to was this; what were they going to do if I left the blog up? Have me arrested? Sue me? Refuse references? These three options had me pondering until I arrived at the following decision; they can go swivel on it. The blogs will remain. Firstly I don't like being threatened. Secondly I'm over five thousand miles away and the UK civil courts have no juresdiction. Thirdly, in the UK I'm broke, so they aren't likely to get any money out of me. Fourthly I'm not going to quote them as a reference. Although I did a capable job for them and always got praise from my immediate superiors for the quality of my work, I hated every minute of the time I had to spend in my erstwhile bosses presence and almost wrecked my health working for them. Upon careful reflection I have decided that I owe them nothing. Fuck 'em. Petty little sods. The blogs can stay up as a memorial to their ineptitude. If they can prove it was me in a court of law, which I doubt they ever could; there's no benefit for them. If the press ever connected my alter ego's blog to my real name, it would make my employers look even more petty and ridiculous than ever I found them. The blogs traffic will eventually wither and die until it becomes a dusty little cul-de-sac on some back road off the information superhighway. Calling attention to it would be a mistake. If they had any sense, my ex employers should let that particular sleeping dog lie. But they haven't. That's probably what drove the blog.

Talking of sense, I've been haunting the UK newspaper forums of late, although I know I shouldn't, and find precious little there. If what is written is the reflection of the UK's general level of intelligence and education, then UK plc is in serious trouble. Very few people seem to think before posting. They don't look at the big picture at all. From the insulting behaviour of the online 'trolls', to the frothing insanity of the conspiracy theorists and religious fanatics, there's hardly an atom of logic to be found at all. They almost always attack the messenger, not the message, because many have nothing but dogma to fall back on for argument. Their intellectual bankruptcy appals me. For myself I often erase what I've written and step away from the keyboard because reacting to the futlity of it all is just not rational.

Whenever temptation to get involved in a posting free-for-all strikes a choice piece of dialogue from the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy drifts into my head. "You can read my mind?" Goes the outraged voice of Arthur Dent, the quintessential middle englander.
"Yes." Responds the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android. "And I'm amazed you can live in anything that small."

Such is the human condition. Never mind; the fishing season is almost upon us, and I've got a nice little spot picked out from which to bag the odd salmon. One of my daily tasks is to improve my access by placing rocks to form a stable stairway down to the shore. I've also taken to reading 'Hemingway on Fishing' and P J O'Rourke's pieces on the subject, which may not have as much literary merit, but are far funnier.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bear faced cheek

One of the environmental claims about the alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming of planet Earth which won Al Gore a (Wholly unjustified) Nobel prize was about Polar Bears being stranded on a rapidly diminishing Arctic ice pack. To be specific, his whole argument was centered around one photograph. One photograph, that's all. He completely ignored the recent increase in the Polar Bear population in Northeastern Canada. Not to mention the fact that the population elsewhere is stable, rather than the catastrophic decrease in the numbers of Ursus Maritimus that some parties allude to. As an 'endangered' species, they tend to fall into a 'vulnerable' endangered category, rather than the 'critical' end of the scale that some might want you to believe. Extinction is a long way off.

Polar Bears, are what are called apex predators (Top of the food chain) that can survive sub zero temperatures and swim up to 100 miles. They may be white and furry, but they sure as hell ain't cute. An old family friend of ours who worked on the first radar surveys in the Arctic was once stranded on the ice and has told me how terrifying these critters are close up. They are one of the few creatures on this Earth that will actively stalk humans. To them, we're an easy kill, a Seal that has learned to walk upright and which can't run fast enough. They even resort to cannibalism when food is really short. Strangely enough they can also successfully interbreed with other species of Bear like the Kodiak Grizzly.

During the current arctic climate conditions, some of the Polar Bears aren't doing so well, some are doing fine. Some of this, like the concentration of pollutants in their blubber, is human linked because they will eat anything (There is even a well documented account of one having a chew at USS Connecticut's rudder which it may have thought was a dead whale). In Churchill Manitoba, some of the local Bears had been found to eat garbage and even dumped car batteries at the local tip. Notwithstanding, the dump was shifted to a location outside of their range.

Despite four highly publicised and quoted 'drownings' in 2005 Polar Bears as a whole seem to have adapted well during the temporary warm period we're coming to the end of, building dens on land as opposed to the ice. Ironically as the Arctic gets colder, and the ice thickens they may even become even more endangered because they will have to cover more pack ice to find food.

My own anecdotal evidence about the state of the Arctic sea ice is this; last year I flew Air Canada over the Arctic at the height of summer (July). From the air I saw 'leads' between the ice pack and land which is normal at that time of year, also huge tracts of barren Nunavut where the ice had melted. Even then there were lakes clogged with ice floes. From my thankfully warm and comfy window seat I also saw near unending sheets of sea ice.

Couldn't see any bears from that height of course, but according to the experts, they are down there, and many of them are doing very nicely thank you.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Another scare story

Dihydrogen monoxide:

  • is called "hydroxyl acid", the substance is the major component of acid rain.
  • contributes to the "greenhouse effect".
  • may cause severe burns.
  • contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
  • accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
  • may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
  • has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.
  • Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:
  • as an industrial solvent and coolant.
  • in nuclear power plants.
  • in the production of styrofoam.
  • as a fire retardant.
  • in many forms of cruel animal research.
  • in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.
  • as an additive in many "junk-foods" and other food products.

Reference Here

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Flying in the face of the evidence

When I look out of the window, I can see the snow falling outside. In my native land, there are more storms predicted after a washed out summer of 2007 when the default setting for the British weather was rain. Moving East across Canada from our little domicile, the temperatures plummet, and winter's minions stalk the Great Plains and Eastern Canada with little respite. Heavy snow has been reported in the Middle East, China, and many other parts of the globe, with the Hong Kong Observatory reporting record cold. In the USA, the Texas Panhandle is feeling an icy bite, and in New York State the Groundhog seer Punxsutawney Phil predicts more winter to come. Skiing championships have been postponed in France because of too much overnight snow. Excess rain threatens the Indian Potato crop. Wisconsin is registering record cold while in the Hamptons, paradoxically speaking, the climate is much balmier. One could be forgiven for thinking that overall it’s gotten rather chilly all of a sudden.

Regrettably, asking the rather obvious question of; “Aren’t we supposed to be living in a period of Global Warming?” Is received in certain quarters as a ‘hate crime’. To challenge in public the currently received wisdom that our planet is growing ever hotter due to human activity is to invite ostracism, ridicule, and in some places, even loss of livelihood. This smells worse than the headless two day dead Herring I often find on my seashore walks. The ‘science’ says we’re all going to boil to death, and instead which we end up wrapping up warm. Who wants to suppress all the dissenting arguments?

What is even more depressing is that now there is supposed threat from something called Dihydromonoxide, which under certain circumstances is almost 100% lethal, and a new theory about Man’s vandalism of the planet caused by mining and drilling, which has resulted in Anthropogenic Continental Drift. Oh dear. Well, we’ll all be dead in a hundred years, so I don’t suppose all this arguing over whether humanity has dug it’s own supposedly rather watery grave will address any real problems.

Update: Snow has stopped, sun is shining. I am reminded of a Vacouver Island axiom; "If you don't like the weather right now, go inside for five minutes."

Un Mauvais Quarante-huit heures

Still recovering from a bit of a fright. Went to the border to get a work permit for the job I was offered (That no Canadian seemed to want), only to be turned down flat. Quite honestly the whole experience floored me for two whole days until we went back to our local immigration office who had previously given me clear instructions upon what to do.

Local immigration officer looked at the forms I had been handed back and screwed up her face in bewilderment. There was no reason that she could see for my application to be refused. She went back and forth, soliciting opinions, and checking her manual before packing us off with assurances that we were okay to stay while we appealed the border guards decision.

The really funny thing is that I was originally going to return to the UK in December, but hung on when the job offer came along. All the time filling in forms and ensuring everything we did was legal, decent, honest and truthful. Otherwise I'd be back in England bitching about the awful weather and keeping my eyes open for cheap flights to Vancouver.

As waiting for all the letters of confirmation etc has kept me in BC longer than anticipated, I've had to apply for 'leave to remain' as I've gone over my six months. If I go back to England now, I stand to lose the job offer, but have to wait while everyone else gets their act together to say whether I can stay and work or not. One office says I can take the job, the border guards say I can't. I wish they'd all sing off the same hymn sheet so everyone knew where they were. I want to do the right thing, but the way things are structured makes it very hard.

In the meantime I have taken to writing short stories while my thoughts are too jangled to focus on the bigger narrative. Came up with a little gem of an idea of an old chap who asks for a pound of pig's liver at an English supermarket, and ends up being arrested and charged with a 'hate crime'. An all too real scenario in our increasingly PC world.