Monday, November 24, 2014

Has the C dropped off?

As the catastrophic climate narrative slumps inelegantly beneath a prolonged lack of warming, where does it leave us? Bearing in mind that it is not easy to come up with a higher authority than the climate – not even Vivienne Westwood on a good day.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the C has come tumbling off CAGW, or Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming as it used to be known before options were quietly widened via the weasel word change.

So apart from a dwindling band of doomsday hopefuls we are presumably left with AGW. Even that seems to be quietly mutating to ACC – Anthropogenic Climate Change. Ho hum, I suppose even a furtive and long overdue change of emphasis is probably welcome.

Where this takes us I’m not sure but I’m pretty sure we aren’t due for a bout of institutional honesty and the sweet strains of mea culpa issuing from the BBC, Guardian, IPCC, Defra, Greepeace, Al Gore, Ed Davey, Ed Miliband, Lord Deben and a host of middle class poseurs of the green persuasion.

It is more likely that the new narrative will be stitched to the old as seamlessly as a dodgy temperature graph. The new narrative will imply that ACC is what was meant all along and AGW will turn up eventually and meanwhile every single weather outlier will be the weirdest weather since the last weird weather and anyone who says otherwise is some kind of flat-earth far-right nutcase denier in the pay of Big Oil...

...or whatever.

The irony is that most climate sceptics probably have no great problem with ACC because we could be affecting the climate in a number of ways from land usage to atmospheric nitrogen or sulphur pollution to airborne particulates. Most sceptics also think CO2 may have a minor effect, but nothing remotely like the calamity proclaimed for so long by the swivel-eyed activists.

The debate may even lurch towards something delightfully rational, where uncertainty is given its rightful place in the science...

...no I’m not holding my breath for that one.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

VIPaedophilia and the trutholith

Fossilised dino-dung (pic source)

Why read autobiographies or newspapers? In most cases, we get the truth when it no longer stinks and has no viable DNA to connect it to current life. Jurassic Park explodes only if somebody turns off the electric fence - as when  the enigmatic Matthew Parris outed Peter Mandelson on Newsnight (27.10.1998).

Even then, the response is spin, cover-up and emergency relationship repair:

Mandelson spinning for himself: “I had been outed by the News of the World some ten years before in 1987 and had long since got over it and got through it."

"The BBC memo said: “Under no circumstances whatsoever should allegations about the private life of Peter Mandelson be repeated or referred to on any broadcast.”...

Paxman's letter: "I'm sorry that Matthew Parris mentioned your name on `Newsnight' last night. In the heat of the moment, he rather caught me out, and I tried to brush over things as soon as possible afterwards."...

The gay intelligence network will have known this - and much more about many more - far longer; it's when it hits the mainstream that it's news. Mandelson may have tried to present it as old hat, but on Newsnight it was certainly news, as evidenced by the urgent reactions.

The law and public attitudes have changed with respect to homosexuality; but not to child abuse. So in an effort to protect VIPs we have, claims John Ward, been treated to a deluge of distraction, including celeb show trials, and, if pushed, reluctant admissions regarding VIP deadies.

Yet there is enough DNA in the story to permit contagion - who still alive did what, knew what and when? Like Watergate, the cover-up could be what destroys the Establishment. An explosive in a sealed container is far more lethal.

The Mail on Sunday - with its over 4 million readers - is now lifting the lid, with yesterday's piece by Guy Adams, which includes allegations of a crime that will not stale: murder.

Some material is based on the investigative website Exaro. No wonder there are moves to "regulate" the Net. (And so much for Private Eye's sustained attempt to tar the internet community - its rivals - with the brush of their illiterate and ill-informed fringe - "From The Messageboards", started in 2008. PE itself was the amateur blog of the Sixties, cut and Gloyed together in Willie Rushton's bedroom.)

That "regulation" in the old days came officially as the D-Notice - now broadened from specific prohibitions to standing "guidance" in five areas, the last of which is: "DA-Notice 05: United Kingdom Security & Intelligence Special Services." Aka, to the cynic, not only anything potentially dangerous but also anything embarrassing.

And now even the cover-up is covered-up, as The Guardian reports (htp: Michael Krieger):

"Two newspaper executives have told the Observer that their publications were issued with D-notices – warnings not to publish intelligence that might damage national security – when they sought to report on allegations of a powerful group of men engaging in child sex abuse in 1984. [...]

"Now it has emerged that these claims are impossible to verify or discount because the D-notice archives for that period “are not complete”.

"Officials running the D-notice system, which works closely with MI5 and MI6 and the Ministry of Defence, said that files “going back beyond 20 years are not complete because files are reviewed and correspondence of a routine nature with no historical significance destroyed”.

"No historical significance.".. nice.

Understanding English: "a shred of evidence"

Actually, historical context is important. Watergate came at a time when, among other things, the Vietnam War had changed attitudes to power and authority. And the fallout from the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 (which has its roots in recklessly loose monetary policy dating back at least as far as the early 1970s and particularly in the "Conservative" 1980s and 1990s) - a fallout which hasn't yet had anything close to its full devastating effect, and one I constantly wonder how to avoid - means that we are in a mood once again to take on the Establishment.

We still wait for the findings of the Chilcot enquiry, while Tony Blair trots about the Middle East in the guise of peacemaker; but he is young and healthy enough to live to see the truth extracted live from the hermetic amber of official records.

And while there is some legal hemming and hawing about the prosecution for old cases of child abuse - see the Parliamentary briefing paper "Limitation period in sexual abuse case
Standard Note:  SN/HA/4209" - liability for murder has no end date.


Will there be an explosion? And what will the the aftermath for the rest of us, if the Establishment is in disarray?


 
A Mills Bomb (pic source)

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

The mendacity of institutions

It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentional lying that there is so much falsehood in the world.
Samuel Johnson quoted in Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson

Memories of my younger days suggest that institutions had more integrity than is the case today. The Post Office, the BBC, the AA, the police, the local council and even the government may have been stuffy and somewhat inefficient, but were not generally regarded as mendacious.

Today institutions have changed for the worse – they tell lies. Usually lies of omission, Johnson's carelessness perhaps, but still lies. I could be looking back through rose-tinted spectacles of course, but I’m not too sentimental, I don’t actually want to go back to driving an Austin A40. In any case, there is a reasonable explanation for the mendacity of modern institutions and that’s public relations.

A few decades ago, institutions may have had their press office to deal with newspaper reporters and even a rare visit by a chap from the BBC, but they were much less inclined to put out a message so dripping with positive spin that it may as well be a barefaced lie.

Modern institutions have their off-days, but are far more inclined to defend the indefensible, if necessary for years. They are far more inclined to put out press releases which don’t even tell half the story, manufacture stories from nothing and generally exaggerate, misinform and mislead.

That would be bad enough, but all this positive spin promotes institutional mendacity. That in turn promotes mendacity among employees. It attracts those who are more inclined towards shading the truth, influences career progression, seeps into the culture, infecting everyone without the integrity to resist.

Institutions were always an important part of our culture. The BBC, the police with their whistles, bicycles and truncheons, the local council and the local bank. Again it’s worth wiping those rose-tinted spectacles in case they are misted up with nostalgia for a more honest past, but I don’t think it is all nostalgia.

The mendacity of institutions is genuine and most of it seems to be down to PR. How are we supposed to build a culture on lying?

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Dreaming of Boris

source

Fortunately I never dream of Boris Johnson, but the other day I had a kind of surreal daydream while musing on the various nutters determined to rule our lives. Maybe their nuttiness is infectious.

In my daydream, Boris was on a local bus so I sat next to him. I had to - there was nowhere else to sit. Some seats were occupied by glossy young people with iPads. All the remaining seats were cordoned off with some kind of red tape, so I “chose” the one by Boris.

‘Blimey, don’t take any notice of that – just treat it as a cheeky little nudge,’ Boris chuckled, pointing a pink finger at the tape. ‘It’s all Cameron’s idea, this nudging caper,’ he added. ‘I took it into my noddle to push it too its logical conclusion but it’s only a harmless jape to put you chaps at your ease.’

‘You chaps?’ I asked but Boris was off on another tack.

‘I’ve been busy today - buying some tremendously attractive and very reasonably priced oven-to-table ware,’ he went on as we drove by Denby pottery, ignoring a crowded bus stop. ‘Back at base they insist I should get out more if I’m to move on... not that I am moving on or have any ambitions in other directions beyond mayor of London which is of course my proudest.... proudest thingy.’

He gazed out of the bus window, suddenly listless. ‘So here I am not moving on... on a bus,’ he added after a few moments of silent contemplation. He mussed up his hair which had fallen into place as it so inconveniently does.

‘But why come here?’ I asked. ‘Why a bus - and why oven to table ware - specifically? What’s the policy angle on stoneware pottery?’

‘Oh I don’t know, I don’t use it myself. It was something to do during my tour of the North, part of the connecting with people idea I thought of in bed... in my bed I hasten to add.’ He laughed and wobbled.

‘This isn’t the North,’ I pointed out.

‘Isn’t – umm – isn’t your whippet allowed on the bus?’ Boris bent down to peer under our seat.

‘My whippet?’

‘You must know what a whippet is,’ Boris replied, his voice somewhat strained from bending down. ‘Skinny little dogs – run like blazes. Usually fed on tripe I believe.’

‘We don’t all have whippets and this is the Midlands, not the North,’ I informed him. I had to address his broad back because he was still peering under our seat.

‘Well this is North enough for me,’ he said, returning to a vertical posture, pink-faced after his prolonged underseat examination. ‘I’m not venturing beyond the tree line in a bus.’ He laughed again.

We said nothing for a while as the bus trundled on its way, passing bus stop after bus stop. Boris seemed worried, but I didn’t have enough sympathy to offer him. Anyway, one of the iPad crew was rolling up the tape so I assumed this phase of Boris’ connecting with people idea was fizzling out.

‘This is my stop,’ I said as we trundled through the outskirts of Derby.

‘Before you go...’ Boris grabbed my arm. ‘Why don’t people realise I’m just a regular guy with some terrific ideas who would always to his damndest for them... in the event of... well under changed circumstances... whatever they may be.’

‘Think about mendacious hairstyles and move on from there,’ I replied.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Morning jumble: fatties and druggies

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1eZkywvh2E

Cost of obesity 'greater than war, violence and terrorism' - Daily Telegraph.

Suggested eye-catching initiatives:

- minimum pricing for pizzas
- every chip should bear a laser-printed health warning

Little people, behave yourselves.

They should have only organic chicken breast and estate-bottled Chablis, like us.

Does the Prime Minister take "sugar"? Did he ever? Boris the Punter's Friend did. Somebody in Westminster still does. Hooray for the New Cocalition!

Let's draw a little white line under this and move on...

If I don't see you down Annie's Bar, I'll be in the Westminster Arms. Cheers!









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Monday, November 17, 2014

Armistice Day

A World War One National Kitchen
source

This is another chapter from my aunt's memoirs where she describes Armistice Day as she saw it from the back streets of Derby in 1918 when she was ten years old.

November 11th 1918
It was a raw November morning, just like any other day. Little did we think as we scrambled out of bed, hurtled downstairs to wash and dress in front of the kitchen fire, that it was going to be one of the most important days of our lives.

Dressed, we sat down to a dish of porridge followed by dry toast. The porridge was sweetened with treacle which we held above the bowl on a spoon, and dribbling it made patterns on the creamy surface.

The treacle was different from both the Golden Syrup we buy today and the tinned thick black stuff. It was, being neither one nor the other, an in-between of the two. Golden brown, runny, certainly not sickly. We’d take an empty jam jar to our corner grocer’s shop and a pound jar was filled from a barrel for fourpence halfpenny.

I loved to watch the treacle sluggishly flow when the tap was turned on. Mr Scott the grocer always caught the last little drop on his finger as he turned off the tap, and licking it would smack his lips. How lucky he was, I wished I were a shop lady!

Off to school and at mid-morning out as usual into the playground. We were puzzled as to why the teacher hadn’t come outside to ring the bell signalling the end of our break when a girl said to me,

‘Look, Sir Thomas Roe’s flag is flying.’

I looked up and there on the big house across the way, the Union Jack fluttered high on its pole. There wasn’t much breeze but enough to move it gently.

We became aware just then that all the teachers had trooped outside, headed by the headmistress. We all stood and stared and though there was hardly any need, she put her hand up for silence. In a voice which trembled slightly she announced,

‘Children, I have to tell you the good, the wonderful news. The war is over. An armistice has been signed. You can all go home and tell your mothers and you need not come back to school this afternoon.’

An excited buzz started. She raised her hand again, telling us that we must first say the Lord’s Prayer and then sing the National Anthem. So we stood, first humbly with heads bent, then poured our hearts out in ‘God Save the King’.

We scampered into school for hats and coats and our feet barely touched the ground on our way home. Mam was in the scullery stirring a large pan of soup when my sisters and I burst in.

‘Well,’ she said after the news had sunk in, ‘as it’s a special day I will treat you to a dinner at the National Kitchen.’

We could hardly believe our ears! Lizzie, one of the girls from next door joined us and we set off, feeling as if we were on our way to Buckingham Palace. The National Kitchen was attached to a factory not far away and I should imagine served also as a canteen for the workers, though I didn’t know that then. It was a big, bare place and we must have been early as very few people were inside.

We had to go to a counter to collect our dinner, the cost of the meal with pudding to follow being sixpence each. There was beef, potatoes and peas, spotted dick and thin custard. The beef was eatable but it was a good thing we had strong teeth. The potatoes, plain boiled, were a bit watery, the gravy thin and anaemic, the peas like bullets, practically uneatable. There was a sudden burst of laughter from my elder sister and Lizzie.

‘What are they laughing at?’ I whispered to my younger sister. I was overawed at eating in a public place.

‘I don’t know,’ she whispered back, ‘but I heard Lizzie say something about the peas and a good blow-off would almost certainly shoot the cat.’

It took a few minutes to sink in and when it did, my face went scarlet. Furtively I looked over my shoulder. Was anyone near enough to have heard?

The spotted dick was nowhere near as good as Mam’s and after getting a jug of celery soup for her (we’d taken a large jug as Mam suffered with her stomach, but they only half filled it for sixpence) we walked back home. It was the first time I had ever eaten ‘out’ and I have never forgotten such a momentous occasion but I certainly didn’t think much of it at the time.

As the days passed, the lamplighter came back – the biggest joy of all. One night in bed my sister suddenly burst out laughing and when I asked her to tell the joke, she spluttered,

‘I was just remembering Lizzie and those peas.’

‘Oh yes,’ I answered innocently, ‘how did the poor cat get on?’ With that we both guffawed and Mam put her head round the bedroom door with a stern warning about being fit for school in the morning.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Atmosphere

Crich church from Crich Stand


We went for a short walk through Crich Chase today. Cold, very misty and damp. Muddy underfoot as well, yet deliciously atmospheric.

Quiet too. Heavy mist seems to do that - damp down sounds to shut out the rest of the world. There was still enough colour to enjoy though, enough leaves on the trees to glimpse the fading glories of autumn.

The pic shows Crich church viewed through the mist from Crich Stand. I had to use the zoom and balance the camera on my flask but it gives some idea of how atmospheric it was.

A little while later a light breeze cleared away the mist and showed us another grey day without the atmospheric charm. Good while it lasted. This is a pic of Cromford canal on the way back. Even in the lightest of breezes those leaves were falling like confetti.


Cromford canal

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