Monday, January 26, 2009

Volcano Alerts

Having a look at the current status of volcanoes around the world, and found this handy page.
Chaiten in Chile is erupting away at Red or level 5 status
Redoubt in Alaska, not so far from the currently quiescent Mt Kasatochi to the West that blew it's top in 2008, is at watch alert Orange (Eruption due soon)

Other, less newsworthy eruptions are as follows.
Galeras 01.22N 077.37W COLOMBIA LEVEL III E
Karangetang 02.78N 125.40E SANGIHE IS. ALERT LEVEL 3 E
Soufriere Hills 16.72N 062.18W WEST INDIES LEVEL 4 E
Yasur 19.53S 169.44E SO. PACIFIC ALERT LEVEL 3 E

A quick google at about 3pm PST turned up nothing in the English language media for the Galeras and Yasur eruptions (Well it has been erupting almost continually for the last 800 years), and nothing at all for Karangetang.

Hmm. will be adding to the sidebar as well.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another set of isolated weather events

Snow in Saudi.

Hail and snow in Dubai last night.

Did someone say it was getting warmer?

Reality bites.

Update: Oh yes, and it snowed this morning outside our house. All melted by midday.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The debate is not over

"Science should be an open debate, with all valid research getting equal display. Consensus can't be claimed when many questions continue unanswered. Silencing those who question popular culture does not benefit the truth sought by science." Baltimore Examiner.

"With statistics you can make numbers go to almost any conclusion you want. It saddens me to see members of the scientific community do this for media coverage." H/T Anthony Watts.

I've said it before; man made climate change is a political phenomenon, not a real one. The world has warmed, but now it appears to be cooling. Driving the populace into penury on the back of a politically popular fiction therefore promises to create more problems than it solves.

To get old testament for a moment, Pharaoh's dream interpreted as seven good years followed by seven lean years would appear to be an object lesson. Hunker down, it's a-gonna get chilly round here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BBC bias

Not having watched TV for a good while, I've been out of touch with things back in the UK. Even before travelling over the pond to find a new life, I was aware that the BBC regularly misrepresented factual information to support some form of political agenda. Now it appears that they have been caught red handed fiddling with historical documents, to wit; President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration speech. You cannot defend this. Whilst holding no brief for or against the politician in question I find myself quite shocked, but not overly surprised, that certain parties would warp his meaning to suit their own bias. Who the hell do the BBC think they are?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More classic Python

What can you say? Scientifically accurate and funny.

What I did today

While some people were bunking off to watch a US politician make a speech, I was doing voluntary work. As were a lot of people. Having no TV I went through the whole of today not hearing a word (Despite doing a lot of walking and talking to people) about today's events in Washington DC. Well, this is Canada.

Came back home and checked out the news, and found much of it deluged in what can only be described as open verbal masturbation. The mainstream media have been behaving like it's the second coming.

Now I'm willing to cut a man some slack, even if I disagree with his policies, but I have the distinct impression that a lot of people are in for a bit of a let down. I actually feel sorry for the poor guy. So many people have pinned so many hopes to his coat tails that the first time circumstances force him into a turnaround, the very people who sing his praises now will be the ones to bury him.

Besides all that, got through a lot today. Still a little more to do, but we broke the back of the job today. Will finish off tomorrow, day job permitting.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Foggy bottom

Todays little sojourn down to the waters edge saw me entering the set for a Hammer Horror movie. Thick layer of mist up to two metres above the water flowing down and dispersing from the neck of the narrows, then a thin haze up to about sixty metres or so. Dog splashed happily in the shallows like a two year old with his first pair of galoshes, and I inadvertantly upset a couple of the local Blue Heron population that flapped away croaking complaints. A Stellers Sea Lion was snorking and snuffling while it hunted in the middle of the channel, with no signs of human activity but the far off mournful klaxon at the Duke Point ferry terminus. Very peaceful.

Yesterday I was happy to see the return of our local Bald Eagle population. I was within fifty feet of them when we simultaneously spotted each other. They cussed me in fluent Eagle, and I just stood there marvelling at the sheer size of the damn things. Wingspans broader than I am tall, and talons the size of my hands. This means there's fish out there. Wonder if we'll get a repeat performance of last years Herring run when fish were being sold at five dollars a bucket?

Continually watching the exchange rates. Looks like we'll be moving the last of our funds out of sterling, but I want to see how the markets react when the reality of the new US Presidency hits home. Maybe Barack Obama will do the smart thing and keep fobbing off the wilder assertions of the environmental lobbyists, and look after his country first. As for the country of my birth, I have the horrid feeling that the UK economy may end up doing a Weimar because the pillocks in charge know less about sound economic management than a lightly stunned Lemming. Either way, we have to be prepared to shift our funds to where we lose the least. If commodities drop a little more, it may be worth buying gold again. Although the best time to do that was last year.

Anyway, back to the grindstone, I have work to do, and may even get some plot mapping done on the sequel MSS.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fog in the Narrows

Woke up this morning and did a bit of a double take. Down in the Narrows, a dense ribbon of sea fog obscured our view of Mudge Island, the water, and everything up to sixty metres high over the water. It was flowing North to South down the channel at about 15 knots (My estimate)like a slow river of indistinct grey slurry. Above this line the sky was totally clear.

Very strange, but we've had a lot of low cloud and fog recently. The past two days have had sunny periods where it looks like God unzipped the clouds over the city for a few hours during the day just to see if everything was okay with Nanaimo, then zipped them right back up again at night.

Price of Gas is perplexing. Most Gas stations are selling it at 93.9, a rise of 19 cents from two weeks ago. Oil prices haven't gone up that much, so what in the hell is going on? Are the Gas companies trying to make some extra bucks before that idealistic fool the Americans have elected screws them with extra taxes to prevent the non existant 'global warming'? Shut up Jones, you've MSS to write. You promised Wife you would ignore the issue for a while and took a serious work break.

Today the Weather is a side issue, we're going to the movies to see 'Defiance' starring Daniel Craig.

Update: Gas prices seem to be associated with currency fluctuations affecting the Canadian Dollar....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Woke up this morning a bit fuzzy headed. Had no idea what I was going to do now that work on the submitted MSS has been discontinued for the sake of the whole households sanity. Picked up and read the introduction of 'Ringworlds Children' by Larry Niven and the opening line of the sequel to the 'Sky full of stars' MSS came to me;
"The question is." Said Weissman, tapping tombstone teeth perplexedly. "How come he's still alive? We all saw the explosion."

To work.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ink capable

Much as I am enamoured of Inkjet printers for their versatility and economy, the one I have has an unerring sense of bad timing. Yesterdays farce saw me running out of ink twenty pages into a fifty page document. Result; I have to spend valuable time away from day job getting refills done. This entails a fifty kilometre round trip and over a valuable hour out of my working day. It also meant that the MSS samples due for despatch yesterday didn't go until lunchtime today.

The upside is that it got me away from my desk for a while. Wife remarked at how crabby I've been getting lately and that it was a good thing for the whole household that Mr Grumpy had got off his backside and away from the keyboard.

Writing the initial manuscript is the easy bit. The thing I find frustrating and what drives everyone else completely crackers, including Dog, is my tendency to revisit every damn paragraph in 240,000 words and fiddle with them. Change the metaphor, delete a simile, tone down the hyperbole, alter the key descriptive terms, and occasionally even delete a character while generally behaving like an obsessive compulsive with a bad case of the fidgets and attention deficit disorder. The MSS samples are now, for better or worse, out of the door and I am forbidden by Wife upon pain of agony to revisit them until I get a reply from the agency that wanted to look over my work.

"Get on with the next one Jones." Wife has laid down the law and I defy her at my personal peril. Just as well she keeps me on the straight and narrow because I'd never have gotten even this far without her.

The other edict Wife has decreed is forbidding me to write about the Weather, as I only get uptight about the whole global warming bullshit. "Everyone around knows it's a load of crap to line politicians pockets." She vouchsafed unto me. "You have better things to do with your time." She's right of course. I have a trilogy to finish. One must complete the tasks one begins, or what's the point?

We were promised sunshine today but I didn't see any.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I submit

This weekend has been dedicated to preparing MSS samples for submission to a UK literary Agency. I'm not holding out much hope, as by the look of their listings, most of their current list of authors are middlebrow literati who write novels about the human condition, and little else.

My stuff does pay slightly more than lip service to the vagaries of love, hate, betrayal etc, but I do try and make the characters part of and drivers of the events they are involved in. I suspect a rejection slip will be the result, but that's just my naturally ingrained pessimism. There isn't a single slightly futuristic or fantasy writer on their books.

Oh well, here goes;

Sample list:
Short Screenplay 13 pages plus 1 page character notes
1st MSS 50 page sample & 1 page synopsis
2nd MSS 50 page sample & 1 page synopsis

Who knows, maybe in these economically straitened times they are looking to branch out of their existing list of genres. One can but try.

Friday, January 9, 2009

We're all doooomed (Not) again

Forgive my scepticism, but that's becoming more and more of a conditioned reflex. If it's not one thing it's another. Was pootling around my reading list and had a look at Anthony Watts blog, which carried the following headline:“The good news is, if this sucker blows, global warming is not going to be a problem.“ About news items regarding the recent swarms of earthquakes in the Yellowstone Caldera. Previous observations in 2004 indicate that a similar bout of Earthquake 'swarms' were due to the movement of Hydrothermal fluids rather than Magma. Doomsday looks like being postponed again. Ain't that a bitch?

I seem to recall a Horizon 'Documentary' on the BBC back in 2000 which gave you the impression that Armageddon was but a heartbeat distant. Had the programme makers faithfully reported what the USGS researchers at Yellowstone were saying they would have gotten a slightly less than sensational story; but the headline 'World might end one day - but not just yet eh?' might not be conducive to increased viewing figures. Just like that other load of complete and utter garbage 'An inconvenient truth'. The Western world passed the edge of an all time gullibility event horizon with that pile of deeply flawed crap. You can tell I wasn't impressed with the movie or its 'science' can't you?

What is it with all these 'the world is going to end' scenarios? There is so much good stuff going on out there in life that we have to ill wish and frighten ourselves into misery just for a change? Like teenagers going to watch schlocky horror movies. This is the part of the human condition I've never been able to fully comprehend; so many people would rather believe a thousand over sensationalised negative fictions rather than one rather mundane positive fact. 'Millions of people no longer starving'; 'Living standards better than twenty years ago'; 'Fewer than ever not dying of infectious diseases'. Maybe the people who regurgitate negative nonsense just want to make themselves look important. In the words of the old Cole Porter song;

Have you heard,
It's in the Stars,
Next July we collide with Mars

Stuff it; I have other things to do, and a nice large measure of Malt Whiskey beckons. Time to feed Wife a sizeable Vodka and Orange. She's earned it for putting up with an old grouch like me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Alternate beginnings and endings

Have been trying a new tack with the "Sky full of stars" Sci-Fi MSS. In order for the backstory to work more smoothly with the rest of the narrative I've changed the beginning, adding a four thousand word section that makes for a more dramatic opening. At the other end, I've found myself writing another section to wrap up all the loose story threads yet leave scope for a follow up.

Haven't decided whether to kill the hero off or not. Rather like one of those eighties soap operas where characters come back from the dead to satisfy audience demand. Well I haven't really got an audience yet, but I live in hope. Upbeat or downbeat ending? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Laws of nature

Arthur C Clarke, Science Fiction Writer and man credited with the idea of Orbiting communications satellites once laid down three laws of prediction;
1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

I was browsing through Wikipaedia this evening and found out about a gentleman named Dr Paul Ehrlich. Some of his predictions may be of interest. I make no other comment apart from how wrong can a man be? Looks like Clarke's first law of prediction is in serious need of revision.

If asked, I would amend Clarke's first law to read; When a distinguished scientist states that mankind is somehow doomed, he is almost certainly wrong. When he states that humans might muddle through somehow, he is very probably right. The other two of Clarkes laws appear not to need such amendment.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Outlook changeable

"There do be a change in the wind me hearties. A change do be a comin'" (In my best Geoffrey Rush impersonation). Well not so much in the weather, as that always manages to catch you off guard on the Island. Sudden thick snow shower this afternoon had a number of people (Including us) forced to make a quick dash into the big Canadian Tire store, several making sharp wisecracks about "this goldarn global warming eh?" as sleet and snow began liberally coating everything in sight.

I just had to laugh. Wife has often told me off for being an "obsessive old grouch" about the whole issue, and I've been forced to silence by my dear spouse upon pain of torture. This is not a vain threat. Wife knows where all my sensitive little places are, and kitty has sharp little claws. Ow.

Notwithstanding, all of a sudden the 'Global warming' bandwagon looks like the wheels are finally beginning to come off. Dishonesty and / or outright incompetence from unregulated 'Carbon trading' companies. Articles in the mainstream and online media casting doubt upon the dogma of man made climate change springing up like Hydra's teeth. It's not just the long time sceptical commentators like Christopher Booker. The climate change bubble bursts as the weather refuses to comply with the doomsayers predictions.

Couple of additions to the sidebar along with a little tidying up. Roy Spencer, Climatologist, Author, and former NASA scientist, and Skeptics Global Warming. Oh, and a dog, named Kyoto of all things.

What I'd like to see now is all those scientists and other people who have had their careers ruined by the warmista's shrill demands given some form of recompense, and some long overdue impartiality returned to academia. Perhaps the jailing of a couple of the leading lights for the fraud they have attempted to perpetrate upon us all. Which would be poetic justice after their calls for "denier's" to be treated like criminals and locked up. Although, he said thoughtfully to himself, I won't be holding my breath. I'll just be happy when all the extra 'green' taxes are dropped.

Back to Sci-fi MSS editing. Second draft almost finished. It's looking good.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Global cooling?

Quiet start to the New Year, with much to do come Monday morning.

Am getting increasingly peeved with the "Global Warming Denier" tag, although there is an element of perverse pride in being identified as one not taken in by the whole alarmist nonsense. Notwithstanding, I'm not one of the "coming ice age" faction either, although the Weather phenomena would suggest that we are in one of those cooler cyclic climate events. To be honest, there's so much delusion, obfuscation and downright dishonesty going on that it's hard to know what the damn truth of the matter is anyway.

Being a cynical soul, I try not to 'believe' in much at all when it comes to the climate. Cooling or Warming, it's all the same, and that humankind has precious little to do with the global climate, the main drivers of which appear to be Solar activity, volcanism, the water cycle, and electromagnetic variations. To suggest that an atmospheric trace gas currently measured around 385 parts per million is responsible for it all sounds very shaky from even my limited layman's perspective. Especially when the estimated total human contribution of this gas is a mere 19.25 parts per million. By comparison, there's much more Argon in the atmosphere, just under three times more. CO2, I would say, is the least of our worries. As it gets cooler, if my reading of physics is right, then we should see Atmospheric CO2 levels begin to drop in the next few years as the oceans cool.

My concerns regarding current weather trends are being raised by the number of incidences of ice crystal related phenomena being observed around the world; Nacreous clouds, icebows, and various other ice crystal refracted phenomena. Norwegian observers I am reliably informed, are seeing far more Nacreous cloud formations this year, and Icebows have been reported in the national and international media quite late in the year. Using the simple logic that says "Ice crystals are evidence of cooling" I tend to be swayed more towards the viewpoint that we are currently in a cooling phase of the Earth's climate cycles. Although I fervently hope we are not in for a Dalton type minimum. That would be worse than everything the doomsayers predict.

Those who still deny that these cooler weather phenomena truly exist really need to step away from the keyboard and get out a bit more. Rather like those observed trudging along in the snow holding banners reading 'stop global warming'. The past two years have been cooler than usual, and rather give the lie to the 'Man is responsible' standpoint. They cling to inaccurate assertions like CO2 rise leads temperature change (Which it doesn't), and think that applying political logic in a scientific debate will change the weather (It won't). In addition they seem to be suffering from the delusional belief that Man as a species has much significance when it comes to the weather (We don't).

Anyway, no-one's going to read this. Humans as a species don't like logic much. Fantasy appears far more preferable. That's what it looks like to me.