Friday, October 31, 2008


Picked up on a report that 'global warming' is 'very likely' caused by humans. Firstly there seems to be a lot of mainstream fuss about this, saying that 'It's proven' or repeating the mantra 'the science is settled'. Yet when you actually read the original studies from which the reports quoted are derived, you find a lot of 'mights' and 'could be's' which prove absolutely damn all. Add that to the current cooler weather cycle we seem to be in, which the 'anthropogenic' component hasn't seemed to touch at all.

Here on Vancouver Island it seems to be a little chillier than normal, but then that's well, normal for this time of year. At least according to the weather records from Nanaimo airport. Then, those only go back so far, as do the studies which are claimed to 'prove' that it's all humankinds fault and all you naughty humans should be sent straight to bed without any supper. There's no real like for like data, and all the current data out there does not appear to make a datum.

By comparison, I tend to read a lot of history. Not just 20th century history, and not just the western version, but from as many sources as I can. That tells me that everything the media bangs on about as the 'worst ever' is mostly just headlines to sell newspapers. No matter what you read in the papers / media about Weather phenomena, I will lay pretty good odds that what they are claiming as the 'worst ever' has been easily surpassed in the past thousand years before any 'anthropogenic' influence. Now I'll concede that we as a species do have an effect on our environment; overfishing, deforestation (Ironically for biofuel plantations to 'prevent' AGW), pollution; but the CO2 levels appear to have very little to do with climate, and 'carbon taxes' do more harm than good economically. Ergo my postulation is that this has more to do with the politics of control than real science.

Well, that's just the interpretation of a hack who likes to write science fiction. If the theory says that because of increased CO2 we should be having much warmer weather and it's actually getting cooler, I'd say that the 'theory' as presented has either been misinterpreted, or was pretty far over the wrongness event horizon to begin with. My interpretation? It's just Weather, and there isn't anything we can do about it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Global what?

Had to smother a sceptical guffaw at the continued failure of the Weather to follow the computer models. Here on the island it's been pretty cool despite sunshine, and today is grey and damp. Over in the UK they are experiencing a dollop of the white stuff, which is unseasonably early, but not without precedent.

I know the 'warmista's' out there will hang onto their theory of anthropogenic climate change come what may, but it seems the climate has other ideas. Glad the price of gas is at 108.9 locally, although it would make life easier if it dropped down to below a dollar again. Time to wrap up warm.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Forever Autumn

Ah, but I was younger then, and full of the folly of youthful love. Shan't tell Wife though. Just a little place I once was, and the way I once felt about a special girl. Great tune, pity that the vid gets all anthropomorphic and cuddly in the middle, but it had the best sound quality.

And another old favourite from Jeff Waynes concept album 'War of the worlds'. Thunderchild. Never fails to get me where I live.

Ah nostalgia, never as good as it used to be. Maybe it will be again someday.

Monday, October 27, 2008

This boy's a fool

Don't normally comment on this sort of thing, but really, some people have no idea.

"...I would argue that climate disinformation online is a form of cultural and political malware every bit as threatening to our new media freedoms, used not to foster a forum for open politics but to create, in Nancy Fraser’s term, a “multiplicity of fragmented publics” that harms not only our democracy, but our planet."

Climate disinformation? Harms democracy? Might one point out that Democracy requires freedom to speak plainly in measured and cogent dissent. All of which this particular Lecturer in Journalism seems to think is a bad idea. To take his view "You can say what you like, but only if I approve." In the words of the late, great Eric Morecambe; "This boy's a fool".

One might also point out that his is a minority view. So his argument could be that 'If you're not in the majority you should shut up'. Ah.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

House hunting and other amusements

Found a link to this web site recently. It contains all the geeky and non-geeky IT humour with some exceptions. Well, it puts a smile on my haggard old features. It is hereby added to the sidebar.

Today is a house hunting day. Today Wife and I will be driving around (Much less painful now gas is down to 109.9 a litre locally) visiting all the "Open houses" (Houses for sale which have been spiffed up for visitors) in a given area. Not that we're going to buy anything yet, we're just shopping for ideas to get an idea of what's available. We have our roles for this exercise; I will alternately dazzle with brilliance and baffle with bullshit, and Wife will switch between making notes, going 'Ooo' at interesting features, and acting as my 'straight man' in our well rehearsed double act.

Aims and objectives are;
1) Finding stuff we like
2) Finding stuff we like but is impractical
3) Seeing how much leeway there is in asking prices
4) Watching the Realtors eyes glaze over as I ask ever more questions they cannot possibly know the answers to (Always a good one to get away from a 'pressure sell')

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Every so often this place hits me right between the eyes with the spectacular. Was walking Dog the other day when I stopped to gossip with a Neighbour, who said. "You can see Mount Baker today." We both admired the view, and having more pressing matters to attend to, like retrieving the post and checking we'd got enough to pay the bills, completely forgot about it.

Later that day I looked to see the top third of said snow capped peak clearly visible from where I stood. The thought idly crossed my mind that the peak in question was across the border, south of the 49th parallel in Washington State. Again, more pressing matters pushed the thought to the sidelines and I totally forgot about it. Until this morning when I was making the tea, and recalled the conversation and the breathtaking view of the peak. Booting Google Earth on the 'pooter, I used the handy little utility that lets you measure a line between two geographic points. Result; Over 93 miles.

Wow. Talk about clear air.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Winners & Losers

With the speculators taking a big hit it might just prove good news for the rest of us mere mortals. If they don't have the funds, they can't use panics to artificially inflate prices. Take for example the local gas prices, now down to 111.9 / litre, and oil price per barrel $60 ish. Elsewhere in Canada, this is dipping below the dollar a litre mark. This is good news because the rises that have been stoking the underlying inflation of food prices will slow down.

For example; nine months ago, a 500g pack of thick sliced bacon was $5, now the same product has been seen around $8.29. I cite an example at the top of the price range (Premium product) but my grocery bills have gone up from $70-80 a week to $120 for roughly the same goods, so it's pretty much happened across the board, although if you're canny, you can keep the bills down to size (Not always possible with Wife in tow). These rises take an unwelcome extra bite out of the finances, I can tell you. Forty bucks here, another forty there. It all adds up.

In addition; immigration to Canada isn't a cheap business; every month brings new expenses. The latest item on the list is around three hundred and fifty bucks for a medical examination (Each). Took us a working day to track down which clinics did what (Loss of working time & pay), and who could fit us in on their list. Wife's new job is going through the full process, and it's like the old Cat Stevens number, 'Matthew and Son'. I think the lyric goes; "The works never done, there's always something new." So it is with immigration. Always something new.

On the other hand, when I negotiate past the false flags of nostalgia for Sunny early mornings on the Fosse Way and other Gloucestershire roads, I realise life for me in the UK wasn't as good as it is here. Less stress, fewer crowds. Just the weather alone is a compensation. Brilliant sunrises over the Islands, little traffic. Sometimes the silence can be deafening. When I walk Dog in the woods this morning, the only sounds will be a Sea Lion snouting and snorkelling as he hunts up and down the Narrows, one of the local Black Tailed Deer running away, Dog crashing through the underbrush and the sound of leaves falling.

Have been doing some work on my Sci-fi MSS "Sky full of stars", which grows by the day. Current word count, despite ditching paragraphs of unnecessary verbiage, is over 135,000 words. A tweak here, a sentence there, a single word change. It all adds up. One of these days it might even get finished.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Have just been dredging around my computers hard drive and come across my old cost of living figures from two years ago in the UK: Back in the bad old days when we had a mortgage, we had a total monthly outgoing (Without luxuries) of two thousand three hundred and seventy six pounds and thirty eight pence. This was everything; Mortgage, House repairs, clothing, travel costs, council tax, food, etc. After tax was removed from our salaries, we managed to save a grand total of one hundred and thirty two pounds and change every month. Our two girls could take a bite out of our remunerations to the tune of up to five hundred pounds plus. The change from the aforementioned sometimes went on a bar of chocolate for Wife. The rest went on saving for our big leap of faith to BC. Wife and I occasionally had a trip to the movies, or the theatre when we could blag free tickets.

Using a straight two for one conversion rate to the Canadian Dollar, that would be Four thousand seven hundred and fifty two point seven eight Canadian Dollars basic outgoings. Add another thousand for the girls costs, and we were left with two hundred and sixty one Canadian Dollars after savings.

Now we live in British Columbia, Canada, and although we are not making the money that we were in the UK, our outgoings are at present just under two thousand Dollars per calendar month. That includes all costs including cars, rent, tax, everything. We live fairly frugally, but we don't go hungry, and the view from my kitchen window every morning, even on rainy days is spectacular. Of course we do miss some of our friends and neighbours from back in the UK, but we're making more over here every day.

It's at times like these, despite the fact that neither of us are pulling down anything like our UK salaries, I think we are miles better off. Better quality of life; and although the bureaucracy of immigration sometimes trips us up, less stress. All I can say is this; had I known thirty years ago what I know now, I'd already be a Canadian citizen.

God bless Canada.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Amusing myself

While the country of my birth goes to hell in a socio-economic handbasket, I am left to amuse myself. One of these amusements was another Python precursor called "Do not adjust your set" starring three (With one supporting) of the team who were later to be part of the Python team; Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin (And Terry Gilliam as contributing animator) with another Comedy treasure, David Jason, supported by Denise Coffey and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

Sadly, most of these early shows were wiped, presumably as 'economy measures' by TV Executives, especially David Jason's performance as 'Captain Fantastic'.

Thank goodness for Youtube. Archive footage of the Bonzo's is rare, but I've found this clip from Do not Adjust your set. Hunting Tigers.

Time for a little fishing I think.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Being a Comedy connoisseur

While I'm dredging through the records of Volcanic activity, working and living etc, one of my little joys of life is finding Comedy gems. Stuff which is really funny. For example, I was perusing Youtube and came across an old favourite of mine from "At last, the 1948 show", a lesser known direct ancestor of Monty Python. Starring John Cleese, Marty Feldman, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graham Chapman.

Now I may be getting old and prejudiced, but there are few shows since which come even close to sending me into paroxysms of screen splattering mirth. Here are a couple of the better sketches:
The classic "Let's Speak English" (Note the quick cameo by Barry Cryer)

And the original "Four Yorkshiremen sketch"

Happy thoughts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A quick happy trip down Memory lane

Ah, memory lane. Two of my favourite Monty Python sketches together. The Dead Parrot sketch and the Lumberjack song. Yet to be surpassed. An absolute gem.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Quite a widespread ground frost south of town this morning. Currently bright but chill. I'm sure it wasn't anything like this cool last year. Must check the weather records.

We in Canada have another minority Harper Conservative Government, which I don't think is any bad thing seeing as the other parties appeared to be saying "Vote for us and we'll tax you more". I'm sure there's more to it than that, but Harper is delivering tax cuts, and despite the clamorous few saying 'tax CO2 or you're doomed' the temperatures appear to be going down, not up. Arctic ice is increasing rapidly. Mother Earth seems to have declared 'Business as usual'. As usual.

Back to the paperwork.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I wish, I wish, he'd go away...

Just when you think you can relax, up pops another problem; to wit, Wife's ex. After painful negotiations to get our two girls (Wife's Daughters, my stepdaughters) settled at University, Wife's Ex, who has apparently gambled and lost on the recent stock market nose dive, is pestering us for money so he can duck his parental responsibilities. He comes back from Africa every six months on a free ticket paid by his company, where he gets his living costs paid while he's in Africa on one of those all inclusive ex-pat deals (Fancy quarters, servants, the lot) then throws his money at the girls. They have got used to the fact that 'Daddy' has money and buys things for them and often try to twist his wallet round their little fingers. Hey, I'm just the stepfather who provided a male role model and emotional support during the difficult teenage years, what do I know?

Is it just me, or is it that every time this loser has to face up to his responsibilities (Did I mention that he's got himself into a messy divorce - again?), he comes pestering Wife and getting under our feet, interfering with our plans. To him, it's always someone elses problem. Usually ours.

Wife divorced him for this very reason, in that this guy truly needs to pull his big girl panties on and deal with his own issues rather than fobbing them off onto others and spending the day whining to his mates on some African ex-pats Golf course. He neglects first wife (Now my Wife), who after two kids gets pissed off enough to divorce him. He neglects second wife, who after a few years gets pissed off and begins divorce proceedings for exactly the same reasons. Rather than deal with it himself, he obfuscates and denies before coming sniffing round my doorstep and demanding we solve his problems, making veiled threats against our girls education. Well he can sod off. I'll block his e-mail address and maybe report it as Spam if need be. The cheap emotional blackmail he tries to use just annoys me and upsets Wife. It also poses an indirect threat to our immigration plans. That cannot be tolerated.

If he ever shows up on Vancouver Island, I'll make a report to the RCMP that he has been making threats against us and have the sucker deported. Well, that much will be true, albeit indirectly. He does pose a threat to us in that if we bail him out, that reduces our finances and interferes with our plans to provide a family bolt hole for the girls when things get really tough.

Today I'm not letting wife near the e-mail as it only winds her up and causes me grief. I hate seeing that loser make her miserable.

I just wish the guy would either grow up, or find a bar and decently and discreetly drink himself to death out in the African bush. Hell, I'd even buy him a crate of Jamesons myself if that would help hurry things along. How long before he's out of our life completely?

Update: Wife and I have talked to girls via Skype and made arrangements that will scupper all further interference with their educational finances from annoying ex-spouse. Good.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Local weather gossip

Local gossip reports that there have been falls of snow on Mt Washington (Which probably means nothing) and frost on cars in Nanaimo in the early hours of Wednesday morning (Frost in Nanaimo? Good gravy Gertrude! What is the world coming to?).

Lots of Black Sea Nettle jellyfish have been washed up at the high water mark of late. The peak of the infestation has gone now, but these a nasty little critters with a painful sting, so Dog and I have been avoiding the waterfront. According to some sources this is all the fault of that pesky globule warming, but according to the more down to earth is nothing unusual.

The seal that was killed a couple of weeks ago is now just bare bones and the rags of it's pelt. The skull appears intact, so maybe my initial thoughts about it catching a crack on the head from a speeding boat were wrong.

Anyway, this week it's Thanksgiving weekend. Wife and I will be giving thanks that we still live here, despite the forecast for rain on Sunday and Monday. As soon as we get our next tranche of immigration paperwork dealt with, hopefully in the next two months, we can take up all the offers of work that now keep getting thrown our way.

God bless Canada, BC, Nanaimo, and all our friends, old and new. Not forgetting our local immigration officers, the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society, The local library, ICBC, and everyone else who has been so darned helpful. Happy thanksgiving to you all.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Two good things about the current financial crisis

Two really good things about the current stock market falls;

Firstly, the price of gas has dropped from 129.9 to 117.9 in the past four days locally.

Secondly, all the whinging and bitching about 'Climate Change' seems to have dropped off the media's main agenda.

Wonder if the politicians will have the sense to drop the raft of ineffective and purely superficial 'green' tax plans as well. We can but hope. There's an election coming up, and although I can't vote, am not keen in seeing the NDP or Greens gain any more power. Canada can't afford them.

I don't own shares, so there's no tears shed there. We've spread our capital around a number of banks, so we won't lose if another one goes under, although we've been pretty careful where we stashed our savings. Wife and I have both got jobs. We're just hunkering down, continuing to work hard and waiting for the fiscal storms to pass.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm all right

Kind of sums up the way I feel right now. Things are a bit tough in some ways but Wife and I are still breathing and doing better all the time despite tripping over the bureaucracy at seemingly every turn ("No, your work permit doesn't cover that" or "We have to charge you foreign student prices"). Immigration to Canada is an expensive business unless you're being 'imported' by a big employer with an HR department well versed in the byzantine ways of Work Permits etc.

Still, lots of help if you up and ask for it, and the rules are changing week on week to allow people like me to bring their skills to a market which needs those skills (Electrical, Plumbing, Carpentry, Computing). As the song says, "I'm all right".

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Down on Wall Street

A lot of the media are going on about the current credit crisis and how it is the fault of those greedy, hateful capitalists and Republicans who leech off the poor. This, I find is a very blinkered point of view. The source of the problem actually comes from a relatively obscure piece of American legislation called the Community Reinvestment Act. I know the following explanation is just a broad brushstroke precis, but the facts are true enough.

A little lesson in economic history and the law of unintended consequences is in order here. Essentially the CRA forced mortgage lenders to lend to people who would usually be considered a 'bad credit risk'. Originally passed into US law by the Democratic Carter Administration, it's provisions were massively extended by the Democratic Clinton Administration so that even more of these 'sub prime' mortgages were issued with the increased risk of default in case of economic crisis.

More Americans wanting to buy put pressure on housing stock and forced the price of a home up, thus increasing the need for more credit. This had a knock on effect to all the other markets, UK and European included. The lenders, forced to lower their lending criteria did what they thought was sensible to spread their exposure to bad debt by selling the debt on. Bankers and traders bought and sold the risks rather like anything else they do to make money. In reality what they were doing was trading what was little better than 'junk bonds'. Thus the bubble grew and the exposure to those on the margin of creditworthiness expanded. All it required was a small economic downturn for the whole jerry built monstrosity to go completely tits up.

In the meantime, Congress blocked all attempts by the Republican Bush Administration, who seemed to think all this bad debt was a truly awful idea, to water down the CRA. While Congress blocked all moves to slow the increase of potential bad debt because it would be 'unfair' Bankers kept on selling the risks on in s kind of ever increasing money-go-round to spread the load, rather like a game of 'pass the parcel' where the 'gift' inside isn't all that pleasant to get lumbered with. For some this was not all bad. Those with a little foresight and understanding of what was really going on understood what was coming, made their money and got out of the business of selling credit risk into precious metals. Others didn't. They got well and truly clobbered.

Gasoline prices pushed up by speculators and driven by media panics grew. The costs of transport grew, pushing everyday prices up. Meanwhile the property market saturated, over saturated, then burst when the underlying inflationary spiral of costs not included in the inflation figures got ahead of many people's economic capacity. Companies shed workforce in order to survive. People who were no longer able to pay off their debt began to default on the loans. Bankruptcies grew with ever more foreclosures until the market in selling the mortgage risks collapsed, sucking the rest of the stock market down into a kind of financial space time anomaly.

Banks with a heavy speculative exposure to these risks such as Lehmans in the USA, and Northern Rock and HBOS in the UK, were bound to be hit badly. Anyone with even a little understanding of the market could predict that. Fortunately, the Canadian market does not seem to have quite such a problem with exposure to such bad risks, although property values here on Vancouver Island are going to take a serious hit as many Americans are forced to sell their holiday homes. I'm thinking 15-25% price drops overall.

Looking on the bright side of the whole mess, this crisis means Wife and I can probably buy a decent lot for our dream house at a reasonable price. Wife has a new job. I have a new job. Who says it's all doom and gloom?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Exposing fallacy

Having a read through Anthony Watts blog this morning, I was directed by other comm enters to articles by the very successful weather forecaster Piers Corbyn, and articles about the Gakkel Ridge that basically cuts right through the Arctic, joining the mid Atlantic and Mid Pacific volcanic ridges from the Woods Hole Oceanographic institute. The Woods Hole team have found evidence of underwater pyroclastic phenomena, heretofore thought impossible according to some authorities.

This all rather confirms my thoughts that the idea behind Man made climate change is ridiculous. The energy levels are too small to make a difference, and any minimal climatic effect they do have can be instantly wiped out by a Solar Minima, or several large volcanic events within a relatively short timeframe.

I tend to think that using CO2 as a major climate driver is a political phenomena driven by the ignorance of most politicians and people when it comes to science. The energy levels are all wrong. The atmosphere as a climate driver is like trying to boil a bucket of water using your kid sisters toy hairdryer. You just can't do it because the energy input is way lower than the energy losses and negative feedbacks and the supposed positive feedback mechanisms either don't exist, or are swamped by natural losses and atmospheric damping effects.

Ergo, anthropogenic climate change is a scam, a con, a scary story to frighten the ingorant into penury while making others rich on the back of the farcical 'carbon trading' confidence trick. It has nothing to do with Environmentalism at all. To say it has is part of one of the greatest lies in history.

Rant over, air cleared. Yet still the idiot politicians are imposing 'Carbon taxes'. Makes you want to cry at the stupidity sometimes.