Monday, March 31, 2008

Nice weekend

Have just spent a very pleasant weekend on SaltSpring Island with one of my cousins. We dined well, watched the Ice Hockey on TV, saw an AGW ranter get told off by one of the commentators. Life was good.

We have an open invitation to go back to Saltspring any time we like, which is nice. Free accommodation, terrific views, amazing food, although the restaurants sometimes look a bit basic. In particular there is a little place at Vesuvius bay ferry terminal. Sunday's special was a seafood salad sandwich and cup of beef and barley stew. Filling, terrifically tasty, I highly recommend a visit.

I can foresee a lot of weekends spent coming and going during the summer. I have neglected this branch of my extended family over the years, and have much time to make up.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Earth hour

Have been reading about 'Earth Hour' a lot recently in the online press. The idea is to save energy by switching off all electrical appliances for an hour at 8p.m. on the 29th of March, and thus cut Canada's (and the world's) CO2 emissions.

I think saving power and reducing pollution are a great idea. Pity it won't work.

My reasoning is thus; Canada, and BC in particular, gets the lions share of it's electricity in Hydro Electric power. Electricity generated by power from a head of water fed by gravity through turbines, which spins generators and thus generates electricity. Hence the name of the main Energy supplier in British Columbia, BC Hydro. The only real effect of all of BC and Canada turning off electricity for an hour will be a surplus of electricity to sell to the USA, and some overflowing spillways. Won't change a thing, so you'll forgive me if I refrain from joining in.

One other observation; people are being exhorted to have 'candlelit dinners' at the time of Earth Hour, romantic though this might be, the candles required to light up a room are more likely to contribute to global CO2 emissions than BC Hydro's customer base shutting off their power for an hour.

Besides, the weather forecast is for snow showers in our part of BC.

Global what?

It's snowing again. Did someone say it was going to get hotter? No? Really?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

If tax is the's a damn fool question

Just been reading about the rural communities in northern BC who are up in arms about the proposed carbon tax designed to 'combat global warming'. The metropolitans, shielded as they are from the harsh rigours of BC's climate, think that putting the cost of things up with extra tax will prevent people from making unnecessary journeys and so prevent the temperature altering from year to year.

The demand for the tax came from 70 'Economists'. When I read that I stopped in my tracks and cast my mind back. In the UK, similar 'Economists' were forever getting things badly wrong. Especially academics. It seems the population of BC has a similar problem. The guilty parties are named below;

UBC Economics

Siwan Anderson, Paul Beaudry, Mathilde Bombardini, Gorkem Celik, Clive Chapple, Brian Copeland, Michael Devereux, Erwin Diewert, Catherine Douglas, Mauricio Drehlichman, Mukesh Eswaran, Patrick Francois, Giovanni Gallipoli, Robert Gateman, David Green, Yoram Halevy, Joseph Henrich, Viktoria Hnatkovska, Atsushi Inoue, Tsvetanka Karagyozova, Ashok Kotwal, Amartya Lahiri, Thomas Lemieux, Kevin Milligan, Hugh Neary, Donald Paterson, Michael Peters, Angela Redish, W. Craig Riddell, Shinichi Sakata, Henry Siu, Rashid Sumaila, William Troost, Okan Yilankaya

Sauder School of Business

Richard Barichello, Anthony Boardman, Keith Head, Thomas Hellman, Sanghoon Lee, Peter Nemetz, Thomas Ross, Ratna Shrestha, Veikko Theile, Ilan Vertinsky, Ralph Winter,

Faculty of Land and Food Systems

Richard Barichello, Katherine Baylis, Sumeet Gulati, James Vercammen,

SFU Economics

Steeve Mongrain, Gordon Myers, Krishna Pendakur, Arthur Robson, Nicolas Schmitt, Simon Woodcock,

Public Policy

Dominique Gross, Jonathan Kesselman, John Richards,

School of Resource and Environmental Management

Mark Jaccard

University of Victoria Economics

Merwan Engineer, Martin Farnham, Elisabeth Gugl, Malcolm Rutherford, Herbert Schuetz, Paul Schure, David Scoones, G. Cornelius van Kooten,

University of Northern British Columbia

Paul Bowles, Ajit Dayanandan, Fiona MacPhail

Imposing a tax to 'prevent global warming'? Analogies fail me this is such a bad idea. Do these guys never open a window or take a walk in the winter? It's cold out there. Then again, they are not the ones who will have to pay or freeze. Nor are they the ones who will benefit from any extra tax. What will all the money raised be used for? Planting trees, or paying bureaucrats and box tickers? The UK has this problem in spades.

As for environmental impact. Cut pollution - yes. Take fishing conservation seriously. Emphatically yes. Those are things we can and should do something about. The weather? Well, that will happen no matter what we do.

More snow

Down at the shoreline it's still pretty chilly, with temperatures around the five degree mark. Took a short trip into town and noted fresh light snow cover on Mt Benson where it had previously melted. Winter is still here, despite it being past the vernal equinox.

A number of the AGW crowd are leaping up and down with glee, pointing at a chunk of ice shelf that has broken off. Shame it means nothing really. It's one little bit of an ice shelf, comparatively speaking. Mechanical stress and increased cold are more likely to cause catastrophic collapse than any warming.

Away from the weather, I'm busy getting on with my new job despite a relative lack of information from head office. I shall just run it like any business; making sure that a service is provided and that there is a cashflow for the facilities needed to do the work. I don't mind, I'm more or less my own boss and I like that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

We have Ospreys

Just put the kettle on to boil for some afternoon tea. Wife has gone to sit out in garden chair. Directly in front of us are three big six foot plus wingspan eagles, wingtipping and wheeling less than fifty metres away. At first I thought two were juvenile Bald Eagles bullying another adult for food. Picked up my bird identification book and realised my mistake. We have a pair of Ospreys nesting nearby.

I am amused by this, don't ask me why, but I'm greatly pleased.


The longer I live out here, away from the insanity that seems to pervade modern day life, the more I wonder at my fellow humans. The rarity of joined up thinking is staggering.

Brought up in an Engineering background, I tend to look at events as processes. Causality rules, so to speak. Nothing happens in isolation with few absolute values. Everything is relative. To pretend otherwise is pure folly.

Conversely, to overstate an effect is an even greater mistake, yet I see otherwise intelligent and rational people do it all the time. They take a philosophical position on the shifting sands of 'morality' for example, and promptly get everything disasterously wrong. Almost like they're wearing blinkers.

So it is with religion; as for me, I find religion gets in the way of God, or at least my perception of God, and what that concept means to me. By way of explanation I don't believe God micro manages our lives. From the limited evidence I have available this does seem to be the case. Ergo, some priest in girly robes telling me for example, that eating beef on a Tuesday is not the will or the Lord will get laughed at for the simple reason that I don't think God cares overmuch. In our day to day lives, experience will bear this out.

What I tend to look at as proof God does not meddle in our day to day lives (He's probably got better things to do) is when 'true believers' start handing around veilled threats that something bad will happen to you if you do not do things like their priests tell them you should. If what they say truly were 'God's will', then surely God would make it physically near impossible for me to do. The same argument can be seen to hold true for 'bad' things like Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Sunspot Minimums, Murders, Ethnic Cleansing etc.

Then again, who is to say what is 'bad'? The Earthquake is mainly a side effect of plate tectonics. Volcanoes are just the Earth venting a little excess pressure here and there. Murders and killing are a side effect of a whole rake of factors which have precious little to do with religion, and more to do with the 'baser' side of human nature. Ethnic cleansing is an extreme extension of natural competition between tribal groups. Ergo, 'bad' is a morally relative position just as much as 'good' is.

By this reasoning, religion can neither be viewed wholly as good or bad. If examined under the light of historical perspective, religion is tribal, or to borrow a term from Desmond Morris, 'super-tribal'. We have had eras in human history when a number of Gods were the religion of preference. At the moment a single God is the religious preference. The rest is all a matter of perception and politics.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

All seasons in a day

This morning brilliant sunshine. This afternoon sunshine and showers. Right now, snow.

Posted 18:45 local time, broad daylight.

Snow stopped after about seven minutes. Now bright blue sky. Cold and damp outside around 1-2 Degrees celsius.

Posted 19:00 local time, red dusk painting the cliffs of Mudge and Link Islands pink.

et in acadia ego

This morning I took a pause whilst walking Dog along the foreshore, sat down on a large, sea washed log and the phrase drifted into my head. "And I also am in paradise" being one of the translations. The bright warmth of a Sunday morning sun on my face, Dog sitting attentively at my feet, water lapping at the pebbly shore, Gulls arguing. When I closed my eyes it felt like a perfect moment.

Wife is sitting up in bed, reading and patiently waiting for me to cook Sunday morning scrambled eggs and bacon. Thin cirrus cloud is drifting east and south. To the west and south, there are snow capped mountains sharply resolved in the clear early spring air. Down in the narrows, the Herring Run has cleared and the water is crystal clear. The day lacks urgency or anxiety. A day for sitting in the sun, sipping tea and perhaps a chilled glass of wine as a companion to a good book. A little slice of heaven.

When my turn to face death comes, I hope I can greet the old fraud with equanimity, knowing that for a fleeting moment, I too have dwelt in paradise.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday heresy

As far as some of my old time heroes go, it hasn't been that good a week. Arthur C Clarke, the Daddy of all hard science fiction writers, is no more. Paul Schofield, one of the great classical actors likewise. We will not see their like again.

As for today, I've always wondered why we call it 'Good' Friday. Although for most who do not work in the retail sector it comes as a day off, it has otherwise quite dark connotations.

'Good' Friday we are told, is the day we comemorate the death of a man, who to quote Douglas Adams "Got nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to everybody all the time". I blame religion, although it isn't really the fault of the religious bodies really, it's the zealous amongst the 'believers'. These are the people who often demand that their religion reflect their own petty tribal prejudices and pointless blinkered hatreds. When their religion fails to do this, they go off and decide that the old way is no longer true, and that their new way is holy writ.

Maybe if God managed to speak to us all and said something along the lines of; "Come on guys - I didn't mean you should take it that seriously." It might do some good.

I prefer my heresy, which at least has the promise of a chuckle.
Around 2000 years ago, a man has been nailed to a cross and literally 'hung out to dry' for speaking out against the established religion. The establishment manage to fit the guy up, because he is young, full of ideals, and not all that bright outside of his own belief system. Now he sags, nails driven through his wrists and ankles by unsympathetic Roman Soldiers. "Stop wriggling and it won't hurt so much." Staring down in the baking sun at a small group of ragged losers of disciples who got him into this mess in the first place. "What are you looking at?" Says he.
Shame faced, one disciple steps forward and speaks for the group. "Er, sorry Lord. I mean we're truly sorry we let the Pharisees stitch you up like this. Is there anything we can do?"
"Yeah." Says the man nailed to the cross. "Something to get these sodding nails out, and a decent beer would be helpful."
"No need to be like that." Says the Disciple, and leaves with all his friends.
"Oh come on. I was only kidding." Shouts the man nailed to the cross. "Guys, come back. Hey! I was only kidding! Get me down from this thing. GUYS! Oh bugger."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A flock of Seagulls

There must be another mini herring run on; because there is a large flock of Gulls, by the look of them mostly Herring Gulls, with their distinctive grey backed wings and dark pin feathers.From what I can make out, this single large flock is at least four or five hundred strong, and mostly consisting of juveniles and young adults, all feeding on a mini glut of Herring Roe.
It's certainly not a day to be outdoors unless you are wrapped up warm. The wind has a definitively Northern chill to it, and the rain has been persistent through most of the day. Especially in town and down the Narrows towards Yellowpoint and Ladysmith. The forecast looks more hopeful at the weekend. We have a lunch date booked with some old friends, but in the meantime I think hunkering down and enjoying the benefits of Canadian heating are going to be the order of the day.

Death on the beach

Wandering along the tideline with Dog sniffing and pleasing himself. For todays perambulation we turned right at the beach access as opposed to our usual left. We meandered past a barricade of logs washed up by the rough weather a couple of weeks back when Dog jumped up onto the logs and barked at me. Doubling back, I came across this macabre tableau right up against the cliff face.The corpse of a Deer, legs crushed under a massive metre and a half thick log. Trapped in the shelter it had sought from the surf, head still twisted back in pain as the last bleat of complaint rattled out of it's exhausted lungs.
Now nothing more than a two week old skeleton wrapped in the last vestiges of rotting flesh. Yet even now you can still read the pain in the still wide open mouth and twisted neck, seeking surcease from the agony. Normally all we find of the seas vicissitudes are sea washed bones like these;
A caution against carelessness in this place where the dwellings of man are so close to the wild.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another nice day

Nice day; not that much doing. Am taking a day out from working and just chilling outside. Read the morning papers and waded through the 58 pages of the Mills-McCartney divorce Judgement. The irony is that if she'd shut her mouth in public, the Judge might have been a bit more generous. Even so, £24 million for four years marriage! Holy smoke! As someone said when the Pope spontaneously combusted. What do you do with that much money?

Really must stop reading the UK newspapers, they are so annoying. I think the only reason I do is to keep an eye on the slow motion train wreck that is the UK economy. We have money still sitting in a high interest account and are wondering at which point we should shift it to a less high risk environment.

Computerwise I'm toying with the idea of replacing my old 1998 Compaq laptop with a Mac. Much nicer. The only reason I stay with a PC is that I've got so much licensed software. Don't like Vista at all, not that keen on XP either. In fact the more I see of the alternatives, the keener I am to ditch Microsoft products. If I had the choice I'd have WordPerfect as a word processor. Microsoft Office is okay(ish), but there are features in WordPerfect that I miss, like the Alt-F3 reveal codes option which gave you the opportunity to really clean up your document code. The revision functions were better, so I could keep track of MSS document changes more readily. I've looked at Open Source / Linux and other stuff, but that would end up distracting me from the business of writing. I'm not a code cruncher, and programming quite frankly, bores me to tears. Always did. It's not that I can't do it, it's just that I really can't be bothered. I find programming sends me to sleep. Did do a bit of it professionally once. Completed a job once, but I tended to find myself nodding off at my desk by the middle of a working week. It was more fun in support, even though the pay wasn't as high.

Dog has arrived, and is looking at me hopefully, so it's time to pootle off down to the beach. Heavy sigh, life is so hard.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Snow on Mt Benson

On the western side of Nanaimo there is a large tree covered mountain, Mount Benson. At about a thousand metres tall, or just over three thousand feet, it's a relatively small mountain. Having talked about it with friends and workmates, the anecdotal evidence keeps coming back that this is the longest Mt Benson has held it's snow cover for over ten years. The first two or three snows covered it down to around the two hundred metre mark in late November 2007. The snow is clearly still there in mid March.

Down here at more or less sea level, the buds are just beginning to break on Birch and most of the other deciduous trees, the Daffodils are out, as are Crocus, Snowdrop, and assorted other flowers. Various Birds have returned and are busily nesting, I've heard at least two species of woodpecker in the woods today. New life is burgeoning. Spring is definitely on it's way.

However, head another hundred or so vertical metres higher and it's still fairly wet and wintry. Another hundred vertical metres after that and you're more or less at the snowline. This is good, because these conditions will stop the Pine Beetle and similar infestations in their tracks.

Amazing what a sunspot minimum and La Nina event will do to the global climate. Makes you feel rather humble don't it?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Arresting experiences and shore walking

Yesterday Wife and I were out shopping. As we came out of the car park we saw a bald headed man in his late forties on the ground to the rear of a battered old white Lincoln. A younger guy with short brown hair had hold of his arms. Both in everyday street clothes.

Wife and I, being the kind of people we are, naturally assumed that the older man was having some kind of siezure and the younger man was trying to help him, so we both headed towards them to render assistance. As Wife got within ten metres I noticed that the older man was not in spasm, he was struggling with the younger man. "Step back love." I called Wife back as we had obviously fallen witness to an arrest and didn't want to piss off the local RCMP plain clothes people. We stepped away and watched the older mans arms pushed firmly behind his back and the cuffs snapped on. Another plain clothes man arrived and together they ensured the older man was hefted to his feet and shepherded off to the local nick. No punches, no kicks, no guns, threats or Tazers, just a little judicious Judo type hold and the supposed malefactor was hauled off in chains, despite quite a bit of swearing on his part.

Today was not so full of drama. Having looked at the budget and decided that the purchase of a new camera is going to have to wait until next payday, we instead took a wander down to a pub that has been highly recommended by our friends. It was like stepping through a space warp into the pubs I spent a goodly portion of my mis-spent youth in. Heavy dark beams and age yellowed ceiling. Beermats and memorabilia pinned up all over the walls, just a bit tidier and less careworn. The Guinness wasn't bad either, served just the way I like it, slightly below room temperature, not chilled. Well 'kept' too, with that dry hoppy flavour I like. I could get used to that.

Upon our return home, Wife had the sitting room changed around, and I retuned the TV to one of the analogue stations before taking Dog out to hunt around the inter tidal zone.

At the time of writing, most of the inter tidal stretches of shoreline are coated in a granular coat of Herring roe. Anywhere there is sea grass or any other form of sea weed it looks like it is heavily coated in coarse brown sugar. Despite the fishing boats having gone, there is still enough Herring out there to keep at least eight sea lions busy on our side of the Narrows alone. I watched one feeding less than forty feet away, gulping and snorting down fish after fish until he (she?) stopped and saw me watching him (her?). After a lazy pause the Sea Lion dived and swam off to haunt other nadirs. Like most sensible creatures, I don't suppose they like being watched eating any more than I do just in case some pedant sees fit to criticise your manners.

Bald Eagles all over the place still. Dozens of them down by the low water mark. At least ten perched in the the branches of the local waterfront Fir trees in a three hundred metre stretch. I stopped at one point and spooked four from a tree directly overhead, less than twelve metres above me by accident. The Gulls don't seem to mind having these big winged raptors hanging around, there are huge rafts of seabirds sitting out in the Narrows, occasionally taking a leisurely dive below the water in search of an easy feed. Everything around here seems just so all fired unhurried.

Had a chat with one of my neighbours whose property overlooks the water. Turns out that even those who have been here on the Island ten years or more haven't seen anything like it. Conversations with people born here have turned up more or less the same story. Herring have been reported as being sold for five dollars a bucketful in Nanaimo they are so plentiful.

As for me, I am waiting for the first of April to get my years fishing permit. If the Herring run has been this good, the Salmon will be even better. The 'springs' are plentiful in Ladysmith right now, and that bodes well for bagging a few salmon over next month. I just hope our Freezer is big enough to hold my limit, or that Wife doesn't start pulling a face and saying "Not Salmon again!" when I return with my catch.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A sky full of eagles

Not much on today apart from a short trip out to pick up a couple of garden chairs. I'm still cursing my old camera. It really isn't up to the job for photographing some of the wildlife around here.

Take this afternoon. Returned home at ten past five local time, looked up and saw a sky literally full of Bald Eagles. Not the usual two pairs that live here year round, but dozens of the things, elegantly wheeling and wingtipping as close as fifteen metres away. All no doubt gorged on the remains of the Herring run now the fishing boats have mostly gone. A gorgeous sight to behold. Until that is I tried taking photographs. Could I get one in the viewfinder to take a decent shot, could I hell. I find myself wishing I still had my old 35mm SLR. How can you miss a Bald Eagle for crying out loud! It's got a six foot plus wingspan, a distinctive white head and neck with the upper surface of the tail feathered in white and I swear the cheeky so-and-so's were posing over our house.

I am definitely going out for a new bloody camera this weekend.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Winding down

My birthday today. Still a little ache in the jaw from yesterdays visit to the Dentist. Nothing really much to do but hit the keyboard and walk Dog. Since I am no longer in the UK, none of my friends has sent me a card. I've had a few phone calls and e-mails but nothing much else. Not awfully bothered really, the big five-oh was last year, so this is a bit of an anti climax. I'm just happy to be here. Birthdays are for children really. All the hoopla I can do without.

Cursing my own foolishness right at this moment. Have just returned from the shoreline where I missed a golden opportunity of photographing Sea Lions at close quarters. Had the camera all right. Sea Lions snorting and diving less than thirty feet away. Bone brain here had left his SD memory card in his laptops card reader. To be frank and candid I'm rather cross with myself for being so careless. When I pulled out the camera and went to click the shutter, a 'No memory' warning flashed up. I can be really dozy sometimes.

As for the fishing fleet on our doorstep, looks like most of them are packing up and going home after four solid days of 24/7 work. A few nets are still down in the Narrows, but most of the action has moved south of Round Island. Half of the boats are gone. Tomorrow afternoon I expect that most will be gone, and all I will be left with on my solitary meander over the shellfish beds is the crying of well fed Eagles, and (Groan) the silence of the clams.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Working boats

Feeling a bit sorry for myself after a visit to the Dentist, so took an amble across the road to take a peek at what the boats were up to. There's still quite a few in the Narrows, but there are more in the lee of Round Island, and the smaller feeder boats are working both sides of the channel, within 20-30 metres of the shore.
The Gulls are sitting on the water like so many flakes of snow, mostly too full of fish to move much. Just marking time above the shoals of Herring still in the channel. Larger predators herd the shoals, leaving V shaped ripples as they come close to the surface, which isn't difficult, given the relatively shallow water.
I had a stroke of luck and got these rather low quality pictures with my rather old and shaky digital camera of a boat similar to the one I described previously. In the first picture, the crew snag one of the buoys supporting a Gill net.
In the second picture they are sliding the nets over the wheelhouse so that the top and bottom run over either end of the rotating paddles.
In the third shot the paddles are stalled because something big and predatory has gone through the net mesh and left a three metre wide hole. To the guys working the boat this wasn't a problem, they seemed to be having a little fun as they worked up and down the nets. Pretty chill down there, even in the afternoon sun, yet one of the lads in the stern of the boat pictured took time to strip off buck naked and change into his waterproofs. Either that or I was being mooned. No matter, it's a young mans game down there, and fooling around keeps you warm.

Note: There are three or four variants of this type of boat. All around the same shape and size hull, but I noted one which worked bow to stern with shorter, mesh type paddles as opposed from right to left with the big paddles like on the boat pictured.

Herring observations

The Herring run is still ongoing after three solid days. Last night, having been woken by a wifely elbow in the ribs (She stayed sound asleep, I had to get up), I took a look out of my kitchen window to see all the boats working out there, lighting the channel up like a string of fairy lights.

One of the things I'd never noticed before was the 'feeder' boats that each of the larger boats carried with them. These are rectangular shallow draught boats around thirty feet long with outboards, unpainted alloy hulls and a curious rotating dual paddle arrangement running over half the length of the boat itself. The first paddle runs longditudinally down the boat two broad blades either side of a central shaft and set so the shaft's centre is level with the boats gunnels. The second paddle has broader blades and sits parallel to the first above the centre line of the keel. Under the blades is a section of the hull partitioned off from the bows and stern. A gill net is looped out of the water over the bows and laid over the paddles, then the paddles are started up and they rotate, pulling the boat sideways along the gill net and flipping the fish into the partitioned centre section.

From my vantage point I have seen the centre sections of these craft at least knee deep in silver fish bodies. There are something like twenty plus of these little craft packed into an area a kilometre and a half long and three or four hundred metres wide, chugging back and forth to their mother ships. Happy ribald shouts at the underwater bonanza being exchanged between boat crews, singing and laughing.

It's chilly, and having done a bit of sea fishing know how cold and miserable it can be in the current choppy conditions. Yet a lot of these guys sound quite happy. Must be something in the water, the Herring for one.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Carbon offsetting

Just as a matter of curiosity, I've been visiting various 'Carbon Trading' and 'Carbon offsetting' web sites, and trying to work out who benefits from these enterprises.

Now if you're convinced by the 'Human Carbon Dioxide emissions are the root of all climate evil' argument, the thought of counteracting one's flight to Malaga by burying a heap of vegetation / planting a tree in Africa might sound like a good idea.

Back in England, I knew of farmers planting hundreds of trees even before this alarmist 'Climate change' stuff was invented. Veritable forests have been planted because of the inspiration from such one time media darlings as David Bellamy, for whom I have the greatest respect. As a botanist, conservationist, environmental campaigner and TV personality, David helped popularise earth sciences and conservation. He has done more for the planet in this way than all the Monbiots and Gores of this world. Now however, he has been sidelined and even demonised for his assertion that 'Anthropogenic Climate change' is a myth. Some of his views can be found in papers such as these.

Just for a little history; the first I heard of Carbon trading or offsetting was back in early 2007 when I was working in the UK. At the time I thought it sounded more like a sop to the 'If you're against Anthropogenic Climate Change, how are you counteracting all those flights you're making' side of the argument. It still does. Maybe that's because all these terribly clever people who come up with these schemes don't think the rest of us poor slobs can't look at the bigger picture. They appear to think that the rest of us poor mortals are thick.

One of the acts of faith the Climate Change lobby want the rest of us to perform is to offset ones 'Carbon Credits'. A whole industry has been set up to take our 'Carbon guilt money' off us. Taking a flight? Hey, pay your 'Carbon credits' and you can go anywhere you like. Feeling guilty about having to drive to work every day? Buy some 'Carbon Credits' or offset your carbon emissions and you can drive twice as far. Of course it's not that simple, but my point is that there are people making money off this carbon emissions guilt trip. It's a scam.

I make the scam accusation for two reasons;
First: Having put down false data in a couple of web sites to see how much it would cost me, I worked out that I could pay CDN$150 just for the privilege of living at I always have, which is fairly frugally. For this fee the various carbon offsetting organisations promise to plant trees / bury vegetable waste upon my behalf. Hold the phone! I did that stuff already! My family have composted waste and planted quite a few trees ourselves over the years. So why pay someone else to do what we've already done? Oh yes, and the Offsetting and trading companies prices for doing so look a bit higher than they should. By the same token, Logging companies who replant do more for the environment, and far more cheaply.
Second: It is a proven fact that atmospheric Carbon Dioxide levels lag behind any warming trend by twenty years or more, so therefore the argument that Carbon Dioxide causes global temperature increase is false and trying to 'offset' carbon is rather putting the cart before the horse.

Therefore I repeat my assertion that carbon offsetting is a scam. A con. A sop to excuse the jetsetting lifestyles of the Political class while the rest of us have to pay for their luxuries from our taxes. They meet at 5 star hotels, fly halfway around the world and then have the nerve to tell the rest of us what to do. We're being had. The Emperor is naked!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Stating the obvious

You Probably Couldn't Be a Vegetarian

The truth is, you really like your meat - a lot more than you like animals.

For you, being vegetarian is hardly even a choice. You'll take steak over tofu any day.

A vegetarian lifestyle is not in the cards for you. You're just not going to go there!

You Are 45% Angry

Generally, you are not an angry person.

But you're easily frustrated and enraged. You have one heck of a temper.

And because of your anger, you tend to feel resentful and even spiteful.

You already know how to quell your anger. You just need to do it more often.

There's a Chance You Could Be Violent

Overall, you're a pretty chill person - and you have a good handle on your emotions.

Sometimes your anger gets the best of you, and end up regretting how you act.

Try to curb your temper more often. It only has to get out of control once to do some damage.

The Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change (Uncensored)

Item not currently being reported by the Mainstream Media. (Link to *.pdf)

'Global warming’ is not a global crisis

We, the scientists and researchers in climate and related fields, economists, policymakers, and business leaders, assembled at Times Square, New York City, participating in the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change,

Resolving that scientific questions should be evaluated solely by the scientific method;

Affirming that global climate has always changed and always will, independent of the actions of humans, and that carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant but rather a necessity for all life;

Recognising that the causes and extent of recently observed climatic change are the subject of intense debates in the climate science community and that oft-repeated assertions of a supposed ‘consensus’ among climate experts are false;

Affirming that attempts by governments to legislate costly regulations on industry and individual citizens to encourage CO2 emission reduction will slow development while having no appreciable impact on the future trajectory of global climate change. Such policies will markedly diminish future prosperity and so reduce the ability of societies to adapt to inevitable climate change, thereby increasing, not decreasing, human suffering;

Noting that warmer weather is generally less harmful to life on Earth than colder:

Hereby declare:

That current plans to restrict anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a dangerous misallocation of intellectual capital and resources that should be dedicated to solving humanity's real and serious problems.

That there is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change.

That attempts by governments to inflict taxes and costly regulations on industry and individual citizens with the aim of reducing emissions of CO2 will pointlessly curtail the prosperity of the West and progress of developing nations without affecting climate.

That adaptation as needed is massively more cost-effective than any attempted mitigation and that a focus on such mitigation will divert the attention and resources of governments away from addressing the real problems of their peoples.

That human-caused climate change is not a global crisis.

Now, therefore, we recommend -

That world leaders reject the views expressed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as popular, but misguided works such as An Inconvenient Truth.

That all taxes, regulations, and other interventions intended to reduce emissions of CO2 be abandoned forthwith.

Agreed at New York, 4 March 2008. [End of Declaration]

Sounds good to me. The fishing boats are still out in the channel in force, and have been all night. Looks like kippers will be cheaper this week, then. Picture taken last night at ten pm from my kitchen window.

Hat tip to: An Englishmans castle

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Herring run

Down south of Nanaimo this afternoon there is a Herring run in progress. Forty plus commercial fishing boats are busily netting and long lining for all they are worth. I could clearly see and hear all the activity down in the Narrows from my kitchen window as seen below.

The sea by the western edge of Mudge Island, all the way down to Link and Round Island is a pale pastel milky green band rich with Herring roe. Long slicks of Roe and spawn leave fifty metre long trails of white surface scum on the surface of the water, spreading along the current lines. The Harbour Patrol, in a small cabin cruiser with an outsize outboard motor are out checking fishing licences. Even a senior couple in a small white dinghy who have brought out their rods and lines to see what they can catch.

Gulls sit on the water, too gorged to move, while the local Bald Eagles swoop lazily in a perfect blue sky, looking for the odd careless salmon feeding on the glut of Herring.

In and under the water, massive shoals clearly visible, are buffeted and herded by several Sea Lions, their three and a half metre long pale brown bodies clearly visible from our vantage point above. As the Sea Lions moved down southwards, two Common Seals took their place, feeding in a leisurely fashion.

On the other side of Mudge, someone is blasting. Each heavy thump, sounding like heavy logs sharply hitting concrete from this distance, is heralded by a number of toots from one of those little compressed gas horns, and followed by one longer morselike dash sound. Toot-toot-toot-toot-toot (Bam) toooot. Dog is currently trying to hide under my chair. Poor animal. He does so hate the noise.

Despite all the blasting, fishing boats are coming and then leaving an hour or so later, their bare alloy hulls riding visibly lower in the water as they struggle up the narrows against the flooding tide. The run continues. For hours, maybe a day. Then all the excitement will die down. Until the next Herring or Salmon run comes to Dodds Narrows.

There is warmth in the early March Sun, the breezes are soft and forgiving for this time of year. I live in a small piece of Paradise.

Friday, March 7, 2008

How things begin

A bit chilly and damp at the moment after two gloriously sunny but cold days. It's a bit more like an English winter at the moment here on my bit of Vancouver Island. Drizzle and damp.

Dog gave me cause for amusement last night. We were taking our usual perambulation through the woods when a Deer spooked nearby. Much to my amazement, instead of running for home as he usually does, Dog up and chased the Deer with much woofing and bouncing before returning to me a few moments later with ears and tail decidedly in the up position. Made a big fuss of my chickenhearted mutt because I feel he needs a little confidence boost like that every now and again, and I'm happy that he still has a little heart in him. I hate to see him cowering at every strange noise. I feel responsible somehow.

Dissimilarly; was walking through downtown Nanaimo earlier on today and picked up some details of a local short story competition. On the drive back home I was thinking about whether to enter or not when I passed the sign for the Jolly Miner pub just off the downtown section of the island highway. A song that was played a lot on the home service when I was very little popped up from the jukebox in my head "Big John". A little imagination later from my mental card index of character traits and the story arrived complete in my head. I could even see and hear the characters in my minds eye.

Well, I'd better get researching and writing. Tie it in with a couple of current news items.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Selling Britain by the kilo

There was a time not so very long ago when I thought I might return to the country of my birth. Having heard today's news I thought; "What's the point?" The politicians have sold the land of my birth down the river by refusing the people a say regarding continued and closer membership of the European Union.

I feel a little guilty about this because one of the first votes I ever made at age 18 was for Britain to remain in the then Common Market. Now that the trading bloc we in Britain were promised has turned into a lumbering bureaucratic monster that destroys the environment with it's Common Fisheries Policy and Common Agricultural Policy that brought North Sea Cod, amongst other species, to near extinction and laid waste to hedgerow wildlife in the UK, I feel that there is no point in returning at all as I had originally intended.

My feelings on the matter are a little schizoid. On the one hand I feel outraged, betrayed, and with a great feeling of something irreparably gone forever; a sensation of mourning if you will. On the other there is a burgeoning elation that since I no longer belong to Britain, I can make my place in the world anywhere I wish. I must choose, and stick with that choice.

Today has been a gloriously sunny day, and the setting sun washed the cliffs across the Narrows with a gorgeous rosy tint, softening their harshness. Flowers have found their way past the frost. Today, despite the sadness I feel for the country of my birth and it's betrayal by self serving politicians, I make my choice. My heart and home will be here, and I will learn the words to "O Canada" and mean them. I will learn to ice skate and love ice hockey. I shall make a home for the next generation and bring them here to grow and prosper. We will contribute and make our lives better than back across the Atlantic.

My choice is made. God bless Canada.

Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate

We regret that many advocates in the debate have chosen to give up debating the science and now focus almost exclusively on questioning the motives of ‘skeptics,’ name-calling, and ad hominem attacks. We view this as a sign of desperation on their part, and a sign that the debate has shifted toward climate realism.

We hope the present study will help bring reason and balance back into the debate over climate change, and by doing so perhaps save the peoples of the world from the burden of paying for wasteful, unnecessary energy and environmental policies. We stand ready to defend the analysis and conclusion in the study that follows, and to give further advice to policymakers who are open minded on this most important topic
Edited by S. Fred Singer.

Serious analysis and a proper scientific analysis of what is happening with the climate. All other political humbuggery has no value. Well worth wrapping your brain around if you can. Failing that, a cure for insomnia. Not sure that I understand all of it, but it's a more informed and hopefully reliable piece of analysis for all that.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


One of the things I do when not working at my job or hammering the keyboard is Beachcombing. Of late there has been a frisson as I make my way to the low water mark. For several weeks, there has been gossip going around the waterfront communities of the RCMP finding human bits washed up on Valdes Island. Three right feet, one of which was wearing trainers have been found. Even the UK press has picked up on it.

The foreshore is a rich place for those with an elephantine streak of curiosity. There's the Starfish, Purple, Bat, Common and Sunflower Stars. The Razor clam and Oyster beds. Sunken trees which act as a magnet for mussels. Various crabs. Empty Lewis Moon Shells as big as the palm of your hand. Massive logs get washed up after storms, even bits of a careless Deer that has fallen into the water and drowned. So far, no human bits.

Then again, Valdes is only ten or so miles away, so who knows what the spring storms will dredge from the depths?