Sunday, 7 August 2022

Covid-19 - four-month waves (part 3)

AS I said in March: "Looking at that, I won't be surprised if there's another peak in June 2022."

It seems that the various variants of the virus are mutating more slowly and/or resistance (from previous infections or jabs) is waning more slowly, because the peak of the current wave wasn't until late July. From Worldometers:
But better roughly right as precisely wrong as they say. The good news is that even at the peak, daily deaths were only a fraction of previous peaks, and barely up from the low in June. Unless 'they' just can't bothered collecting/faking* the numbers any more (* delete according to taste).

And I guess the next wave in four or five months' time will be barely noticeable and we can concentrate on worrying about something else, like World War Three, the cost of living crisis or Ukraine-related mass hunger.

Saturday, 6 August 2022

It's like having a new car!

The man at the garage had been saying for some time that the gear box in my MR2 (pre-facelift 5-speed) is 'very noisy', whatever that means. And it was definitely on its last legs, gear changes were crunchy and painful, so if possible I'd start in 2nd, get up to 40 mph and then shift straight to 5th (it is very short ratios!).

I finally got organised a month ago, went up to Carlisle to collect a new-ish box (the later facelift version 6-speed) from Dick Sloan (£650), the local garage faffed about for three-and-a-half weeks (£614 incl. new clutch, incl. VAT) and I picked it up again yesterday.

It's like having a new car! I've had clutches replaced before, but they were just incremental improvements - this is a world apart, and it was a great car before anyway. Combined with the new-ish 6-speed, it is quieter (he was right about the noise); gear changes are buttery smooth; the ratios are the same as the 5-speed with a longer 6th, so you can do 70 mph at 3,000 revs not 3,500 (so doubly quiet on the motorway and better fuel economy); it seems to accelerate better (although this is possibly illusory, bugger all happens in 6th of course); etc etc.

£1,300 all in (incl. petrol to Carlisle and back) seems a lot if you say it like that, but nowadays that's 20 visits to the petrol station, and it will extend the car's life by five or ten years. So worth every penny.

Friday, 5 August 2022

Beyoncé - good at singing and dancing, rubbish at filthy lyrics

Ms Knowles, a squeaky clean living God-Botherer in her early 40s, decided to have a go at a bit of 'dirty talk' in one of the the songs on her latest long-playing record.

The disability campaigners are up in arms about the use of the word "spazz".

Had she intended to insult or make fun of people with disabilities, I would wholeheartedly agree with them. Having actually listened to the song with lyrics on YouTube, it is quite clear that she simply doesn't know how to swear properly.

The offending word is in a verse is towards the end of the song which also contains words like "titties" and "pussy", so falls far short of the high bar set by Azalea Banks with "212" over a decade ago, which is gloriously and wantonly filthy and offensive from the start, even with all the swearing edited out.

She invites her sexual partner to "spazz on that ass". From the context it is quite clear that she means "jizz on...","spunk on...", "spaff on..." or possibly "wazz on [my] ass", but she somehow jumbles these words into "spazz". Unless she is verbifying the word "spasm" in the medical sense i.e. an involuntary muscle contraction such as an ejaculation.

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Headline Of The Week

From The Metro:
Angry man permanently banned from every Sainsbury’s threatens to never shop at Sainsbury’s again

Sliced and diced

For argument's sake, let us assume that this from the BBC is actually a good interpretation of what actually happened, and the whole thing is not false conclusions drawn on the basis of a carefully manipulated series of PR events. Maybe Zawahari was a fictitious character whom the Yanks photo-shopped into existence so that they could later claim credit for eliminating him with a non-existent weapon, what do we know?

The Zawahiri strike, he added, "sounds like a model application" of the [assassination] process. "It sounds like they were very careful and deliberate in this instance to find him in a location and at a time when they could hit just him and not harm any other person," Prof Banks said.

In the case of the Zawahiri strike, it has been suggested, but not confirmed, that the US also used a relatively unknown version of the Hellfire - the R9X - which deploys six blades to slice through targets using its kinetic energy.

In 2017, another al-Qaeda leader and one of Zawahiri's deputies, Abu Khayr al-Masri, was reportedly killed with an R9X Hellfire in Syria. Photos of his vehicle taken after the strike showed that the missile had cut a hole in the roof and shredded its occupants, but without signs of an explosion or any further destruction to the vehicle.


Here is a picture of said vehicle, from The Daily Mail, so that seems like a reasonable conclusion based on scanty evidence:
Anyway, returning to the story:

"... His family protested his innocence and said they were distraught. His wife was reported to be in pieces. Funnily enough, so was he."

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

"Mortgage rules eased as Bank of England scraps affordability test stokes the flames in the run up to the next big crash in 2025-26"

From The Independent:

Mortgage borrowing rules have been eased by the Bank of England making it easier for thousands of potential homebuyers to get on the property ladder.

It will not make it easier (i.e. cheaper) for first time buyers, it will just force them to borrow larger sums to pay higher prices for what they would have bought anyway.

The affordability “stress” test forced lenders to assess whether people applying for a mortgage would be able to cope if interest rates rose to 3 percent.

The Bank of England said that the change should not be seen as a “relaxation of the rules”, adding that a number of other measures still in place “ought to deliver the appropriate level of resilence to the UK financial system, but in a simpler, more predictable and more proportionate way.” The test was introduced in 2014 following the 2008 financial crash and was designed to stop reckless lending to people who could not afford it.


But hey, let's allow reckless lending again, now that what happened fourteen years ago is fading from memory. It's like banning guns, seeing gun crime fall and then legalising them again on the basis that gun crime is low.

Another rule, which is still in place, limits most new mortgages to a maximum of 4.5 times a borrower’s income. The Bank of England’s financial policy committee said in 2021, after a review of the rules, that this other limit “is likely to play a stronger role than the affordability test in guarding against an increase in aggregate household indebtedness and the number of highly indebted households in a scenario of rapidly rising house prices.”

FFS. How is borrowing 4.5 times your income, especially if it 4.5 x joint income of a couple, not reckless? Back in the sensible days of Georgism Lite, that limit was about 2.5 x main earner's income.

Added to a decent deposit, that's enough to pay for the bricks and mortar value or the cost of building a new one (with a sane profit margin for the builder), which depresses the price paid for the land/location value, hooray. We know this is true because they were building plenty of new homes for FTB's during Georgism Lite (landlords were frozen out by rent controls, tenant protection and high taxation of unearned income), and the insurance value of housing was pretty close to how much they cost to buy.

Sunday, 31 July 2022

That is, and always has been, your actual job.

From Sky News:

A UK-French taskforce is to tackle Channel travel chaos after gridlocked traffic caused hours of hold-ups last weekend - with rail strikes on Saturday and holiday traffic expected to add to the misery.

Thursday, 28 July 2022

Supply and demand

Confused.com has a function which shows the lowest petrol/diesel prices within a certain radius of a chosen postcode.

It told me that the garage a few miles up the road had dropped it to 169.9p/litre, so I whizzed over there.

The 169.9p/litre was correct, but inevitably...
a) They had sold out "an hour ago, but we should be getting more in today".
b) The forecourt was full of new arrivals and recent arrivals manoeuvring around the pumps to find one that was still in service.
c) I thought sod it, I'm here now, I'll just fill up with the closest thing to proper petrol i.e. super for 184.9p/litre.

Saturday, 23 July 2022

Why "Climate Science" isn't really science (2)

Follow-up to Bayard's post of Wednesday. For sure, some Climate Scientists exaggerate or make false claims, but that doesn't invalidate anything.

For example, nuclear power stations 'work'. They use uranium etc to produce electricity, fact. They also appear to be profitable. We can argue - quite reasonably - about the risks and costs of pollution, safety, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, decommissioning and long term storage etc, but those are not nuclear science issues. Just because some politicians make outlandish claims like them producing "electricity too cheap to meter" does not invalidate the science.

My big bugbear with Climate Science is that it is based on the bald claim that Earth's surface is 33 degrees warmer than it should be based on incoming sunlight.

Therefore, they say, something must be 'trapping' thermal energy in the atmosphere; and that something is Greenhouse Gases (which sometimes includes water vapour and sometimes doesn't, depending what point they are trying to make).

And therefore, if Greenhouse Gases at 'pre-industrial levels' cause 33 degrees of warming, any increase in them must cause more warming (whether linear, logarithmic of geometric). And as a matter of fact, things have warmed up a bit since the end of the Little Ice Age.

The 33 degree claim was originally made, and the calculation explained by Hansen back in the late 1980s and has been Climate Gospel ever since, completely unquestioned, even by many Climate Deniers. Some Climate Deniers have put forward other explanations, some with good pointers, none watertight and some pretty flaky.

So how do they calculate the 33 degrees? By comparing half an apple with an imaginary pear is how. Here are the workings (refer to Stefan-Boltzmann equation to convert between temperature and W/m2):
What are the obvious flaws here?
- They take clouds into account when calculating weighted average albedo of Earth's effective surface (which means that part of the surface that can absorb radiation FROM and emit it directly TO space - oceans/land under cloud cover simply can't, so can be ignored here) , which reduces solar radiation IN to 238 W/m2, but then just ignore clouds from there on.
- They then assume that solar radiation IN is all absorbed by oceans/land. Nonsense, over half is absorbed by clouds, less than half by oceans/land.
- The actual question is: is the effective surface at the right temperature to emit this much (238 W/m2 on average) back to space?
- They skip these this question, come in at a tangent and say that a black body (an imaginary pear) would have to be 255K to emit as much radiation as the effective surface absorbs in solar radiation IN (this is true).
- They compare this with part of the effective surface (half an apple) which has an average temp of 288K (also true), discrepancy = 33 degrees (mathematically correct).
- They then put forward an explanation for the 33 degree difference - it's Greenhouse Gases, and the rest is all built on that - all the pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo like "radiative forcing" and "fluxes" and "effective emitting altitude" and "atmospheric windows" and "computer models" and "positive feedbacks" until your head spins (I know what these all mean. They are all dead ends or working backwards from the wrong answer).

Why not compare a whole apple with a whole apple, and take all its physical properties into account, in particular the low temperature and emissivity of clouds? That seems to be a lot more rigorous to me, so you should consider clouds and cloud-free oceans/land separately when looking at solar radiation IN and LW emissions OUT.

This is the more scientific approach. For sure, it's all rounded and mid-points of estimates and so on, but it follows the general idea based on what information I can glean. I could keep digging and add more and more lines and home in ever closer to an even more robust answer: If you do it properly, you find that Earth's oceans/land and the clouds above them are the right temperature to emit as much LW radiation as they absorb in solar radiation. Sure, the sea level surface is warmer than in the pseudo-scientific calculation, but so what? An aluminium frying pan in the sunshine gets warmer than the pavement it is resting on, that has largely to do with aluminium's lower emissivity (plus/minus dozens of other adjustments). Look at the whole of the real apple and all its physical properties, not just a part of it/them!

[Completely different sets of rules apply when considering the temperature difference between sea level and clouds - the gravity-induced lapse rate; latent heat of evaporation; reflection and re-emittance of of LW between the two; dew points at different absolute humidity, temperature, density and pressure etc etc. I can't cover all that here, but it is irrelevant to the actual topic of 'what gets to space'].

Therefore, I conclude, unless somebody can show why their approach is better than mine, I refuse to believe anything based on the 33 degree Greenhouse Effect, because there simply ISN'T ONE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!

Bonus: the above approach neatly explains the alleged Greenhouse Effect (or absence thereof) on Venus and Mars, regardless of the fact that their atmospheres are nearly 100% CO2 - it's the clouds (or absence thereof) wot dunnit.

Caveats:
- I have only been looking into this for two-and-a-half years and 'only' did O-level physics forty years ago, so clearly have plenty more to learn.
- Has the climate changed in many areas over the last century? It would appear so. Has it remained surprisingly stable in other areas? It would appear so. If the clever scientists with their millions of measurements say it has changed, then probably it has. Just because nobody is sure of the real reason doesn't mean that we should latch on to one particular explanation, especially if it based on pseudo-science.
- There are lots environmental, economic and political reasons for using less fossil fuels, sure, but those are quite different topics. For example, I'm against nuclear weapons, but that does NOT mean that I don't accept the science of nuclear fission. I am, in fact, broadly in favour of reducing fossil fuel use for precisely those reasons, but that does NOT mean that I just blindly accept their pseudo-science. We bribe our kids with the promise of Xmas presents for good behaviour; we don't waffle on about Santa's Naughty List. Treat people like adults and they might just behave like adults.

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Why Climate "Science" isn't really science.

Ferreting around on my hard disk, looking for an old document, I found this: The People Versus the Climate Research Unit (CRU) by Willis Eschenbach*, which dates back to 2009. The author describes himself as

an amateur scientist with a lifelong interest in the weather and climate. I’m not "directed" by anyone, I’m not a member of a right-wing conspiracy. I’m just a guy trying to move science forwards.

Back in 2004 Warwick Hughes, an Australian climate researcher who had previously been in cordial contact with Phil Jones, the director of the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia (UEA, where the whole AGW scam started, emailed Phil Jones, asking to see copies of the dataset that was used to create the CRU temperature record. Phil Jones famously replied:

Subject: Re: WMO non respondo … Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it. … Cheers Phil

Now this might seem a reasonable response, but, as Willis Eschenbach points out,

...science can only progress if there is a free exchange of scientific data. The scientific model works like this:
• A scientist makes claims, and reveals the data and methods he used to come to his conclusions.
• Other scientists who don’t agree attack the claim by (inter alia) seeing if they can replicate the result, using the first scientist’s data and methods.
• If the claims cannot be replicated, the claim is adjudged to be false.
Obviously, if the data or the methods are kept secret, the claims cannot be verified. Attacking other scientist’s claims is what what scientists do, that's their job description. This adversarial system is the heart of science.


The importance of the Scientific Method is obvious: if other scientists can't see the original data on which a theory is based, the author of the theory can claim any old tosh and it would be very difficult to prove it wrong, as recent history has shown.

*Sadly, I did not keep a record of where I found this on the internet, but if anyone woud like a copy, I would be happy to email it to them.

Edit: Sobers has provided me with a link.