Sunday, August 31, 2008


Back in Britain, from the 1960's through to 2003, there one was a series of programmes called 'Tomorrow's World'. The series showcased inventions that could and sometimes did change our lives, although sometimes not in the ways first envisaged. Some of the inventions demonstrated were a little wacky and too off beat for words and some failed spectacularly during the show's notorious 'live' demonstrations.

I was reminded of the show because I've been watching DVD's of James Burke's 'Connections', in which the ex Tomorrow's World presenter detailed the source of inventions that underpin everyday life. A sort of Historical Science show.

In episode ten of the first series, James asked a question about what we should do about the ever accelerating changes in technology and discussed the four main possible answers, citing pros and cons for each. In the end he asked whether we wanted the benefits of technology without being able to understand it or to destroy it in an attempt to go to a sort of technological "Year zero" so that everyone can understand what is going on.

As a society in the West, we have to ask these hard questions again. There is a drift towards religion for answers, and although belief is a fine thing, the answers provided by the self perpetuating hierarchies of the various religions are more to do with keeping the religion(s) in question going than making our lives better. People who do not understand technology are rebelling against it because they do not understand how things work, or how to control them, this attitude begets fear which begets closed mindedness and irrational responses.

Two classic examples of how religious type belief provide the wrong answers when it comes to science and technology are; Intelligent design, a modern reworking of Paleys Watchmaker fallacy, popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the postulation of Anthropogenic Climate Change, which when the wheels finally come off it will prove as big a hoax as Piltdown Man. Both these 'theories' require more belief than fact. Both are supported by fragile assumptions and dubious evidence; I cite the ignoring of geological facts by the 'Intelligent design' supporters, and the massaging of climate data by the supporters of 'CO2 causes Anthropogenic Climate Change'. Both factions are wrong, simply because we still do not fully understand the forces behind how species adapt or not, and our ideas of how the climate operates are inadequate to say the least, and to say our ever changing climate is all down to one trace atmospheric gas is a bit of a reach to put it mildly. As with 'intelligent design', the theory doesn't fit the ever changing facts, even if you use a shoehorn.

So why in the name of all man has ever held holy are our politicians preparing to commit economic suicide in the name of Climate Change? I'm no expert, but the fallacies are obvious to even me. We need some form of modern King Canute to set matters right.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Speaking of Vultures.....

They don't make 'em like this any more - wonder why?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Seal, interrupted

This mornings walk along the shoreline with Dog was punctuated by the appearance of six American (Turkey) Vultures who scattered at our leisurely approach. The object of there attention was a dead juvenile seal up near the high water mark. Much to my chagrin, this morning I had omitted to take my camera with me. Nothing much to remark except the seal was less than twelve hours dead (No smell of decomposition)and there was no obvious cause of death.

The Vultures simply sat in a nearby Douglas Fir and waited for us to move on. Dog fussed and sniffed around for a few minutes before I called him away. The Vultures laconically watched us go before resuming their interrupted repast. De gustibus non disputandem.

Deceased Seal photo added one tide later. Not much change. I half expected that the vultures would have stripped the corpse by now. They must be on a low fat diet considering the amount of blubber left behind.

Carrion regardless perchance?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Zoom Zoom

Well, here's one of the first Canadian victims of AGW scaremongering and the concomitant speculation that has pushed up the price of gas, helping to depress the economy. Wife was booked on a Zoom flight to the UK which has just been cancelled because the budget airline could not afford to pay the inflated gas prices and artificially AGW panic inflated 'green' airport tariffs. Zoom have filed for bankruptcy and all flights are cancelled.

While the Greenies are dancing round with glee because this airline failure will perhaps reduce 'carbon emissions' and thus 'save the world'. I wonder if they have given thought to the hundreds of people their panic mongering has put out of work. Pilots, Cabin staff, Maintenance crews, Ground staff, Booking clerks, Managers, IT support and all the other workers who make international flight possible.

For Wife this has been a minor inconvenience. She has had to re book her flight with another airline and cancel her credit card payment to Zoom. She will still fly back to England in a few weeks to see Youngest ensconced at new University.

While Wife is attending to that small errand, I'm going to buy an SUV. With a bit of luck I will cut a deal and get one of these 'six months free gas' deals that are floating around. After that, I'm going for a little drive.

As for the recent spate of Earthquakes off Vancouver Island. Over here near Nanaimo we never noticed, the shocks never even rattled the crockery and even Dog slept all the way through it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fuel cell musings

Being a climate change ‘denier’ does not mean one is blind to the world and it’s workings. To be honest the opposite is more accurate. I see the insanity and repeated panics unravel before my startled eyes and can only stare gape mouthed in amazement at the self-delusion going on in the world. It seems that some folk only operate when they’re having the knickers scared off them unnecessarily. More sinister are those doing the scaring. They are the people we need to examine most closely and believe least.

Me, I don’t like being worried all the time. A constant level of extreme anxiety has long-term health implications, which turn the fatal disease called life into a less than pleasant experience. Do we have to pass the time between birth and death in a persistent state of unhappiness? Bollocks to that. I may be a grumpy old cove, but under this stoic crusty exterior beats the heart of a playful, childlike, psychopathic monster. Well, not really, but the playful thing is true enough. Life should not be a veil of tears, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a hound, a bastard and a liar.

For myself, I like to take a good long look at any problematic situation, then see what I can do towards fixing it or ameliorating its effects. My first question however is always; how much of a problem is it? Followed quickly by; can I adapt and develop workarounds? How practical are my solutions? To argue by analogy; is there really a bear in my yard? Is he preventing me going about my daily business? If so, how can I get him to leave? Will he just wander off when he gets bored if I wait long enough? Can I borrow my neighbours shotgun should the need arise? What will I say to the Wildlife Officer when he finds me the possessor of a new bearskin rug?

Bearing this life attitude in mind, Wife and I have long held the ambition of disappearing out into the boonies to create our own little paradise far from the madding crowd and I believe this is eminently possible without giving up the comforts of technology like heat and light. A fuel cell solution seems a far more workable solution than inefficient Solar or Wind power.

Put succinctly; from hard experience I know what it is like to be cold, miserable and hungry and you can stuff that life experience where the sun shineth not. Just because some bozo politicians (and intellectually challenged followers) think global Armageddon will occur because Earth got a little warmer for a few decades, and that we as a species were / are wholly at fault, I see no good reasons to be hitched to their economic kamikaze wagon and give up stuff I like on their control freak agenda. In the words of the prophet, fuck that for a game of soldiers.

There is also a body of opinion that says because of the coming energy crisis we should all embrace vegetarianism. No thanks say I, vegetarianism is a flaccid, lifeless creed, and I prefer good old stick to your ribs meat stews cuisine as well as lighter foods when it is warmer. A healthy diet is a mixed diet, and as for low fat, has anyone ever heard of fat-soluble vitamins? Although you don’t need much Vitamin A, D, E & K on a day to day basis, a diet deficient in these essential nutrients can prove debilitating, and artificial supplements are too bloody expensive and possibly even harmful.

In addition I am also getting lazy in my frail dotage (Frail? Hah! Says Wife) and want to do the least work for the most results. To work smarter, not harder is my credo. I’m not the sylph like athlete that I was at 23. No more chopping logs in the freezing cold for me. That's a mugs game although jolly good exercise on occasion and something to take your mind off things.

Thus it is I have been doing some proverbial back-of-a-fag-packet calculations regarding the energy requirements of a five or ten acre smallholding, considering the landscaping and drainage work required to provide a residence that will feed me and mine (Up to an extended family of 15) in comfort if the rest of the world wants to take itself to hell in an economic handbasket. Not that economic meltdown will happen long term, but I am getting older and have come to enjoy the comforts of hot running water, light for reading, and good fresh food well cooked. Energy poverty is not going to be an active phrase in my families lexicon thank you.

The elements of process are relatively simple. First you require a water source, a well or spring is good, then a small electrolysis device for breaking the water down into its component molecules with a compressor for the collected hydrogen, and a vent for the excess oxygen. The hydrogen tank works as a buffer for the fuel cell, which by the process of combustion and integral generator creates energy and waste water which gets vented into a storage tank for later use. The energy thus created is sent via a converter to the rest of the house and grounds, providing power for the whole domestic complex. The only problem appears to be what to do with the surplus electricity if you’re living ‘off the grid’. I’m sure we’ll think of something. That and a ground source heat pump should keep us appropriately toasty or well chilled for quite a number of years. One of our neighbours has one and had to build a swimming pool and king-size Jacuzzi in their basement to soak up all the excess heat. That sounds good to me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cool for August

Locally the temperature has not risen above 20 Celsius for a number of days. While this is a pleasant respite from the usual heat of the day, from what one can ascertain this run of cool wet weather is far below average for the coming Labour day weekend. Is that volcanic plume still causing problems?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cooking perfect hard boiled eggs

When your own Mother asks for your advice on a matter, you know you’re getting it right. Especially with a mother as critical as mine. You know the sort of thing; you weigh too much / too little, too tanned / too pale, too severe / too scruffy whatever. Like most sons, there is little about me that my mother cannot and will not find fault with.

When it comes to boiling eggs however, I am the acknowledged expert of the family. Eggs with rich, golden yolks that are just set and treacly but not runny with none of that horrible dark grayish residue on the interface between solidified powdery bright yellow yolk and rubbery white that is the hallmark of the overdone egg from the nightmare days of 1970’s school dinners.

Experiment so far has proven that you can cook up to half a dozen eggs at a time and obtain the desired result and within a small variance produce first class results.

To prepare, select six (or desired number of) relatively fresh extra large eggs. Set these aside to warm to room temperature. Selecting a suitably sized pan, fill to an eggs depth with water, add a large pinch of salt and put on heat until the water boils. Take pan off heat, and using a large spoon carefully deposit the eggs one or two at a time into the near boiling water so that the shells do not crack, bring water back to the boil and set your timer for nine minutes exactly, no more. For large eggs, eight minutes forty five seconds will do, for medium sized eight minutes thirty seconds is an elegant sufficiency. This is a time critical process, and cannot be left to the vagaries of fate, so use the oven timer if need be, not chance it using your watch.

When the timer sounds at the end of nine minutes, take the pan off the heat and flush out the hot water with cold water under the tap until the water in the pan is cool. This is the trick which arrests the cooking process, and prevents the unwanted result of ‘overcooked’ powdery yolks and rubbery whites. When the eggs are cool enough to handle comfortably, remove from water. Crack end of shell and peel, then split in half to eat either hot or cold with condiments or accompaniment of choice.

You see? Men can boil eggs, and do it well.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ice free North Pole

People are still panicking and saying that the North Pole will be ice free this year, and that this is something to worry about because this is the first time this has happened.

I say not so; SSN-578 (USS Skate) managed it on 17th March 1959. Check the 5th Photograph down.

There is also anecdotal evidence that a Chinese fleet sailed through a largely ice free arctic around 1276CE.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

SOHO back up

Well, looks like I was a bit previous there. The 'CCD bakeout' warnings are gone from the SOHO solar observatory website and there is news on Spaceweather that a new sunspot (cycle 24 at last?) is emerging, although you can't quite see it yet unless you have your own solar observatory.

Vancouver Island is still a bit cloudy this morning, and the forecast promises rain. Oh well, time for breakfast and a trip up to Parksville for one of the charities I work for.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Well whaddaya know?

Your result for The Perception Personality Image Test...

HFPS - The Humanitarian

You perceive the world with particular attention to humanity. You focus on what's in front of you (the foreground) and how that fits into the larger picture. You are also particularly drawn towards the shapes around you. Because of the value you place on humanity, you tend to seek out other people and get energized by being around others. You like to deal directly with whatever comes your way without dealing with speculating possibilities or outcomes you can't control. You are in tune with all that is around you and understand your life as part of a larger whole. You prefer a structured environment within which to live and you like things to be predictable.

The Perception Personality Types:


Take The Perception Personality Image Test at HelloQuizzy

Still spotless

Solar activity seems to be taking it's own sweet time getting cycle 24 running. We're getting the odd sunspot, or should I say sunspeck they're so small, but at the moment of writing there's been little activity. As far as I'm concerned, this is just a glitch in the normal run of things. Could be wrong of course, but at least I've got some extra warm clothing for Winter this year.

Of course some pundits are coming out of the woodwork saying that this is the beginning of a new Ice age, but I'm not buying into that. Didn't happen in the 70's, which was the last time there was a panic of this nature. It got cold and wet for a few winters, but not that much.

Sunspot activity is not the only indicator of solar activity, there are coronal holes, flares etc. Regrettably there's been a 'CCD Bakeout' marker on the SOHO solar observatory site since 8th August, indicating that one or several of the onboard sensors are inoperative, so monitoring solar activity minus your own observatory is getting a bit tiresome.

Looking on the bright side, one good thing about all the pundits screaming that we have to 'do something' about the continuing non-event of climate change / global warming is that Winter clothing often gets more heavily discounted because no one believes they'll need it and are so not buying so much. For example, I recently bought a seven hundred dollar leather coat for one hundred and eighty bucks, a good hundred dollar leather hat for fifty five dollars. Insulated hundred and forty dollar Winter boots for sixty dollars. Three hundred bucks (Around a hundred and fifty pounds sterling or two hundred and twenty euro's) including tax has seen me obtain kit which will shrug off sub zero cold with ease. I have a kerosene lamp and gas stove for when snow brings down the power lines like it did last year, so we're prepared for whatever eventuality. Am I worried? Not really.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vids on alternative environmentalist thinking

Currently looking for funds to allow screening in movie theatres.
Michael Crichton's critique of Environmentalism as a 'religion'.

Philip Stott on how the AGW scaremongering has damaged 'real' environmentalism.


The guilty party has been identified. Thanks to an entry on Anthony Watts blog, and largely unreported in the MSM, I now feel I know what is responsible for the unseasonably cool and cloudy weather currently afflicting Vancouver Island and much of North Western America and Western Canada. A volcanic eruption in the Aleutian Islands (Kasatochi, seen here pre eruption) shot a large plume of heavily SO2 laced smoke into the atmosphere 7th / 8th August, and we are seeing the consequences. Although I'd rather not see a re-run of what happened after the Laki event of 1783.

My first thoughts are; With the global temperature already on a slow cooling trend and the PDO shifted into the cooling part of its cycle, we may be in for a bit more chilly weather than we've bargained for. Fortunately I have invested in some warm clothing for the coming Canadian Winter.

My second thoughts are; Well any cooling thus caused should be a godsend for those who are concerned about the effects of a putative (but not actual) warming of Earth's climate. This means a couple of good volcanic eruptions can easily wipe out any effect man might have on the climate in the proverbial five minutes flat. Huzzah! No massive rises in sea levels. Polar Bears get to keep their ice. We don't need to worry about man's relatively minuscule contribution to Earth's CO2 levels. Win-win, right?

Here my cynical third thoughts come into play; The downside of any cooling is lower crop yields, washed out harvests, less food all round. Some people (Quite a lot of them actually) will starve. Yet the Politicians will tax much needed economic activity into the ground 'to stop global warming / climate change', despite there being a complete lack of incontrovertible evidence that mankind has any real long term influence on what the weather does. NB: 'Peer reviews' do not a postulation prove; observable, reproducible evidence of an effect does.

The only 'evidence' of Anthropogenic climate change is deeply suspect because the models are incomplete and any predictions they make have so far been demonstrably highly inaccurate. The basic theory of runaway climate change requires an infinitely thick atmosphere, which Earth does not have. CO2 is only a minor 'greenhouse gas' in comparison with Water vapour, Methane, and a number of other gases. Furthermore, CO2 is not a 'pollutant', it is an essential part of the cycle of life. Without it, we're dead. As will everything else be that relies of aerobic respiration, plants, animals, a lot of bacteria. An extra 75 parts per million is not a bad thing at all. Especially for plant life.

Not that this demonstration of how insignificant an influence mankind has over the climate will make any difference. The 'believers' will still cast those of us who inconveniently point out the real truth of the matter as evil 'deniers' in the pay of some wicked corporate bogeyman, and will continue to do so when there's six feet of snow on the ground and glaciers are grinding inexorably down from the mountains. That's human nature for you. Never let facts get in the way of belief eh?

Note to self; Yellow pages, check for skiing lessons.

Monday, August 18, 2008


The current cool weather on this part of Vancouver Island has come as quite a relief after the muggy heat of the past few days. Even the mossies have deemed it too hot to make their usual meal out of me. Dog, with his thick coat, has suffered greatly with the heat, and is going to be sent for shearing this week.

As for other non weather related stuff, I even caught a fish yesterday. Tiny little guy who tried to swallow my lure whole. Notwithstanding, I threw him straight back in the water and he swam off. He will live to bite another day. Barbless lures make it easy to flip unwanted piscine life off your line with little damage. I'm just amazed the little tinker actually managed to get his mouth round the hook.

As for writing, I've resumed work on one of those 'back burner' projects that I've been fiddling with for the past five or six years. It shows promise. Forty thousand words, and the characters feel solid and three dimensional.

Regarding my 'First Flights' MSS, there's been no word at all from any of the enquiries I made. Seems like no one in publishing wants Sci-Fi right now. Not from any relatively new authors anyway. At present I'd settle for a 'thanks but no thanks' or even 'fuck off and die' response, but this silence is absolutely mind numbing.

Not so silent places are the woods. While I was away visiting relatives and chilling, one of the woodland trails has become blocked by fallen trees, and when I say blocked, I mean where three separate tree trunks, all over two feet across, have fallen to form a six foot high blockade. One tree fell and smashed into another, which smashed into another, and all of them fell around the same spot. Must have made a hell of a racket when that lot came down. Just goes to prove the old adage that nothing happens in isolation. Nature follows the rules of causality.

Wonder if my handy neighbour with his chainsaw will clear the way again.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I think I'll go and see this one...

....if of course it gets screened up here. Failing that, a trip to Seattle might be in order.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


There are much better things to do in life than rail at the stupidity of the world. Fishing is one such thing.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I don't get this....

Maybe I'm just being politically naiive, which is very possible, but over the water in England there seem to be a number of editorials in this vein. My question is; who started shooting at the South Ossetian civilians first? This is a multi choice question:
a) Georgia
b) Russia
(*Correct answer is a)

All the comparisons with the Gleiwitz incident in 1939 ring pretty hollow to me. Just who is trying to whip up a cassus belli here? More to the point, why?

Gnome from home

There are things which amuse me, and this is one of many. A woman in Gloucestershire had one of her garden Gnomes stolen. Three months later, the gnome was returned with a photo album showing the gnome in scenes from around the world and a polite letter to the owner explaining the gnomes absence.

Personally, I can't abide the things. They make gardens look cheap and tacky. Their presence in a garden bespeaks volumes about the occupants. Phrases like "Nice people....but..." come to mind.

However, taking one on a world tour sounds rather more classy, and says a lot about the character of the gnome abductor. For example, our youngest (at 19) still has an ageing and much repaired woollen Teddy Bear which goes everywhere with her and will no doubt be passed on to the next generation. This particular Bear has been all over the world in her suitcase. Canada, USA, Singapore, Dubai, Egypt, Tanzania, Kenya, even Scarborough. People who still carry that sort of thing around seem to be still very much in touch with their 'inner child', which might look slightly odd, but indicates a small silent core strength of character which will serve them well in a crisis. So long as they have an inner babysitter available for when the inner child throws Teddy out of the pram.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


There are people who want to shut any debate about the effects that CO2 is or is not having on the climate down. They are right, everyone else is wrong, no one is to talk about this again, ever -OR ELSE!

They ignore certain laws of physics.

They ignore reasoned argument based on known physical laws and in depth physical observations.

Everyone but them is wrong.

To them everyone who doesn't agree with their viewpoint is an evil 'Denier' in the pay of Big Oil and should be silenced. They ignore the 300 million US Dollars made available to the pro AGW camp by Al Gore, who has a great deal to lose should the AGW theory be exposed as the sham it is.

One could be impolite and ask them to "(Expletive deleted) off", but that is not my way. I shall voice my concerns and point out the shortcomings of the opposing arguments in as public a forum as I can. Physics will out. Water on stone.