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Monday, January 26, 2015

Two windmills



We were out walking through Carsington Pasture today. It’s a somewhat barren landscape above Carsington Water, pockmarked with old mines and spoil heaps and now home to four huge wind turbines which can be seen for miles. You may be able to judge their size from the trees and the ruined stone windmill in the foreground.

The sound made by these things has been the subject of much debate, but I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. In the stiff breeze we had today, they make a low thrumming noise rather similar to the sound and the rhythm of a dishwasher. I wouldn’t want to live nearer than a couple of miles though; the sound must carry at night.

Big wind turbines are an impressive sight, especially up close on a windy day. What strikes me is the power behind the technology, the power of greedy and ambitious men. Women too no doubt, but let us leave the main responsibility where it belongs.

One is left with an acute reminder of the formidable realities of power, the ability to manipulate and persuade, the power to promote unworthy causes and harness worthy people to them. Voting will never change that.

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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

German Christmas Macaroni

(pic source)

When the snow falls wunderbar
And the children happy are,
When the Glatteis on the street
And we all a Glühwein need,
Then you know, es ist soweit:
She is here, the Weihnachtszeit.

Every Parkhaus is besetzt,
Weil die people fahren jetzt
All to Kaufhof, Mediamarkt,
Kriegen nearly Herzinfarkt.
Shopping hirnverbrannte things
And the Christmasglocke rings.

Merry Christmas, merry Christmas!
Hear the music, see the lights,
Frohe Weihnacht, Frohe Weihnacht!
Merry Christmas allerseits...

Mother in the kitchen bakes
Schoko-, Nuss- and Mandelkeks.
Daddy in the Nebenraum
Schmücks a Riesen-Weihnachtsbaum.
He is hanging auf the balls,
Then he from the Leiter falls...

Finally the Kinderlein
To the Zimmer kommen rein,
And es sings the family
Schauerlich: "Oh, Christmastree"
And the jeder in the house
Is packing die Geschenke aus.

Merry Christmas, merry Christmas!
Hear the music, see the lights,
Frohe Weihnacht, Frohe Weihnacht!
Merry Christmas allerseits...

Mama finds under the Tanne
Eine brandnew Teflon-Pfanne,
Papa gets a Schlips and Socken,
Everybody does frohlocken.
President speaks in TV,
All around is Harmonie.

Bis mother in the kitchen runs:
Im Ofen burns the Weihnachtsgans.

And so comes die Feuerwehr
With Tatü, tata daher,
And they bring a long, long Sclauch
And a long, long Leiter auch.
And they schrei - "Wasser marsch!"
Christmas is - now im - Arsch...

Merry Christmas, merry Christmas!
Hear the music, see the lights,
Frohe Weihnacht, Frohe Weihnacht!
Merry Christmas allerseits!

(Author unknown)


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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chilcot to be published now



After much criticism of the earlier decision to delay publication until after the general election, David Cameron has announced that the Chilcot report is to be published immediately.

“This government has nothing to hide,” Mr Cameron said to assembled journalists, “we publish now.”

We understand that the report is to be published as a partwork consisting of sixty monthly issues. Specialist partwork publisher DeLaye has been engaged to deliver the project on time and within budget.

Each issue will cost £4.95 including postage and the first will include a free cutout model of a WMD - see illustration above. A range of tasteful binders will be available, one binder having space for twelve monthly issues. 

As a special incentive, the final summary and list of recommendations will be given away free to all subscribers at the end of their subscription period. Publicity, marketing and related Twitter feeds are being handled by upmarket consultants Obskuranti.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

White rhino

source

According to the BBC and David Shukman the northern white rhino is teetering on the brink of extinction. Although it doesn’t look white to me. More grey than white. Shukman seems concerned though. Even more worried than the rhino but that’s what he does – brow-furrowing concern.

In an age when mankind can send robots to look for life on Mars, why can't science stop so many forms of life from being wiped out here on Earth?

The question comes amid the loss of species on such a relentless scale that conservationists call it the Sixth Mass Extinction - the fifth being the asteroid that killed the large dinosaurs. This one is driven by human activity.


It seems to me that there is a scale of possible reactions to this story.

From: Arm-waving we-are-destroying-the-planet, something must be done, it’s all our fault or rather your fault for being a thoughtless consumer bastard.

To: Indifference.

I’m firmly in the indifference camp – I really don’t care if northern white rhinos become extinct. I’m happy enough for other folk to try saving them, happy enough for substantial sums of money to be spent in the attempt - Shukman's salary for example. So go for it David - save them. 

I’m not prepared to pretend it really matters to me in any meaningful sense though. That would be cant. Johnson was good at spotting cant, especially in Boswell.

You tell a man, ‘I am sorry you had such bad weather the last day of your journey, and were so much wet.’ You don't care sixpence whether he is wet or dry. You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society: but don't think foolishly.”
James Boswell's  Life  of  Samuel  Johnson,  LL.D.

The BBC does cant rather well, it’s the fashion and has been forever, but Johnson’s advice was sound. It even applies to northern white rhinos which aren't actually white.

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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

HMS Victory
Portsmouth dockyard is home to historic warships alongside museums showcasing naval history. The dockyard has many attractions so you need at least two days to get the best out of it. A good place to start is HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s flagship and the world’s oldest commissioned warship. Victory is in dry dock so unable to sport full mast because the weight would cause her hull to bow. In 1805 she was Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, the battle in which Nelson died a hero’s death and which also marked the end of Napoleon’s attempt to invade Britain by the seas.
The inside of Victory gives an insight into what life would be like at sea. I found it a lot more compact inside than I imagined; even I had to duck my head at times. I found it strange to think that I was on the vessel where Nelson spent the last moments of his life.
The Mary Rose
In a dry dock behind HMS Victory is the new Mary Rose museum.  The building was purpose built to house the remains the flagship of King Henry VIII which capsized and sank in the Solent in 1545. The museum is very well done; the remains of the Mary Rose are on its starboard side and on the port side the artifacts that were found with the ship were displayed laid out as they would have been on the ship. The starboard side was preserved by silt whilst the port-side was exposed and so decayed and was lost. The Mary Rose is currently behind Perspex because she is being dried out as part of the final stages of the work undertaken to preserve her. It was good for me to have seen Victory first because the layout of the two ships is similar which allowed me to interpret clearly what I was seeing of the Mary Rose.
Another historic sailing ship housed at Portsmouth is HMS Warrior. Built in 1860 she was the first armour-plated iron-hulled warship, the most revolutionary warship built. She rendered every other battleship of the time obsolete. Warrior was propelled by steam power as well as being fully rigged for sail.
HMS Illustrious with HMS M.33 in the foreground
Historic dockyard No. 1 houses HMS M.33 a Coastal Bombardment vessel built in 1915. M.33 is one of only two British warships to survive from the First World War. The ship fought in the Gallipoli Campaign and went on to play a part in the Russian civil war. She is currently being renovated and it is planned that the work will be completed, allowing full public access, in time for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign later this year.
The dockyard is still a working naval dockyard and current ships of the Royal Navy can be seen in the harbour. They can also be viewed from Victory museum’s viewing platform. During my visit, one of the museum’s curators explained about the decommissioning of HMS Illustrious within Portsmouth Dockyard. She then produced a book on warships and showed some of the ships that were currently in dock. Another prominent ship in the docks at the time was HMS Dragon (Type 45 air defence destroyer) which was being refitted prior to her current deployment in the South Atlantic.
The curator next pointed out a Victorian structure that covered the place where Queen Victoria alighted her train before boarding a ship to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. I was also pointed in the right direction to find W L Wyllie’s excellent Panorama of Trafalgar which I otherwise would have missed. The painting was displayed as a ’son et lumiere’ which was an excellent way of showing it off but it also meant I couldn’t linger to study it as long as I would have liked.
Ships in Port
The best way to see the ships that are docked in the port, along with other more permanent features is to take a boat trip around the harbour. The tour includes a commentary naming the ships in harbour on the day and pointing out other various features of interest.
It is also possible to take a free water bus to Gosport to see HMS Alliance at the Submarine Museum and the Museum of Naval Firepower which is situated nearby. I ran out of time so this is on my list for the next time I visit.
Royal Marines Museum
Another attraction included in the entrance ticket is the nearby Museum of the Royal Marines which is housed in the former Royal Marines Officers Mess at Eastney Barracks. The museum provides an in depth history of the Royal Marines and gives insight into what modern Royal Marines basic training involves and what it takes to be a Royal Marine. The videos of recruit’s stories as they undertook their basic training are quite touching and enlightening. I spent the whole morning there and I could have done with a little bit longer.
The dockyards are also home to the National Museum of the Royal Navy which is dedicated to past and present men and women of the Royal Navy. In addition to the fine ships and Naval history that can be seen at the dockyards there are many other historical landmarks that are worthy of notice.
I thoroughly recommend a visit to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and its associated attractions, not all of which I have mentioned.

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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Balls the prophet

The Mail says Ed Balls predicted the crash in 2007, which is why he urged Brown to hold a snap election.

Out of 20,000 professional economists, Oz econ academic Steve Keen reckons only some 20 saw it coming. EB has an econ-academic background; so has his brother Andrew, who joined bond investment giant Pimco in 2006. Did the latter have interesting conversations with the former in 2007?

Clearly we need Balls' insight - as long as his concern is not limited to party success. What is he predicting now, I wonder?


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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

It's not UKIP the Pub Landlord is standing against

Here is an extract from Wikipedia's page on the South Thanet constituency:
General Election 2010: South Thanet[16]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
ConservativeLaura Sandys22,04348.0+6.8
LabourStephen Ladyman14,42631.4−8.1
Liberal DemocratPeter Bucklitsch6,93515.1+2.9
UKIPTrevor Shonk2,5295.5+0.7
Majority7,61716.6
Turnout45,93365.30.2
Conservative gain from LabourSwing+7.4

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

General Election 2005: South Thanet
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
LabourStephen Ladyman16,66040.4-5.3
ConservativeMark MacGregor15,99638.8-2.3
Liberal DemocratGuy Voizey5,43113.2+3.8
UKIPNigel Farage2,0795.0+3.7
GreenHoward Green8882.2+2.2
IndependentMaude Kinsella1880.5+0.5
Majority6641.6
Turnout41,242651.1
Labour holdSwing-1.5


The idea that UKIP seriously hope to win there, is risible. UKIP's highest poll in 2010 (N. Farage, 17.4%) was in Buckingham, against John Bercow; the next highest was Robert Brown's 8.3% in Cambridgeshire North West. As we have seen already, UKIP's best chance of gaining seats is to win over disenchanted sitting MPs.

Al Murray may claim to be standing against Nigel Farage but all he is likely to do is disrupt the competition at the top in this Con-Lab swing seat - and, more importantly, disrupt the minorities' campaigns there generally with his additional noises off.

And get a lot of attention with his joke "Free UK Party" (FUKP, get it? I get it daily, teaching excluded primary children. What a wag.)

He is not standing for any party, not even the Labour Party for which he is an activist - or was, until this possibly Labour-vote-dividing stunt.

He is standing for himself.


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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.