Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Best Laugh of the Day - So Far

Of course if you didn't laugh you'd cry....

Bank of England staff demand big pay rise   (DT - paywall)

Well, considering that they print their own pay anyway, and always have done so, what are they bleating about?

Mickey and Taking does not cover it somehow.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

The South will rise again!

Except, the Confederacy never really went away.

- They kept slavery by the back door until the advent of World War II. They arrested people (including a few whites) for very minor crimes and put them in chain gangs or imposed savage $ fines which they couldn't afford to pay off, thus making them debt slaves (see lengthy Knowing Better YouTube video);
- They had segregation (in one form or another) until the 1960s;
- There is a high overlap between the states which execute most prisoners and former Confederate states.

Today, let's look at the thirteen states with "trigger laws", i.e. the anti-abortion states.

Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee - the five Western-most Confederate States.
Missouri, Kentucky - half-in, half-out Confederate States (they were 'slave states').
Oklahoma - wasn't yet a state at the time of the Civil War, but probably would have been a Confederate State;
Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota - were largely unoccupied at the time of the Civil War and not yet states. These four form a large contiguous block along the US-Canada border between Washington/Oregon (Pacific coast) and Minnesota (Mid-West?). Only Montana is missing from that block. Either Montana is relatively progressive, or they never realised that abortion was legal in the first place.
(Funda)mentalist Utah directly to the south of Idaho/Wyoming.
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Or maybe this is the usual American "progressive coasts, conservative interior" divide? Confederate states without trigger laws are the ones with some Atlantic coastline, plus Alabama, although that will probably be next.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Climate change confusion

From the BBC: "Climate change: Rising sea levels threaten 200,000 England properties".

The picture which they use nicely illustrates the point that they have clearly (and probably deliberately) missed:
Those buildings are clearly well above sea level and entirely unaffected by small sea level changes. The problem is that the cliffs are made of mud or sand and are prone to erosion. If they were solid granite cliffs, there wouldn't be a problem. But they aren't, there is, and there always has been.

You could argue that 'climate change' means more ferocious storms (something quite different to sea level rises), which speed up erosion. And I would refer you to the The Happisburgh Village Website:

1854 White’s Directory for this year reported that the sea had encroached 250 yards in the last 70 years at Happisburgh.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Another Big, Fat Lie

Unless you are a prepper living off-grid in the Alaskan wilderness, you will have noticed that fuel is costing more than it has ever done before. Round the world people are keen to blame their enemy of choice, in the US, it's because of "Putinflation" and in the UK it's "because of Brexit". Elsewhere it's the profiteering oil companies. In reality it's none of these, it turns out to be caused by what David Cameron memorably called "green crap".

As the CEO of Chevron explains, no-one is building refineries any more. Refineries are hugely expensive and the Alarmists have been saying for years that fossil fuels are on the way out, with governments pledging to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and natural gas boilers, so why should any company invest in a new refinery? This also means that the refineries we do have are old, 50 years plus in the US, probably the same in the UK. As the refineries wear out, they have been being shut down, leading to a shortage of refining capacity that has reared it's ugly head before. As capacity decreases, demand, unfortunately, has not decreased at the same rate, leading to the inevitable result that the cost of refined fuel has increased faster than the cost of crude oil.

Never mind, let's blame it on Uncle Vlad, eh?

Don't let that bubble deflate!

Faced with the spectre of reducing loan to income (LTI) rates as interest rates start to climb and thaus causing house prices to drop as borrowers are faced with being able to borrow less on their income, the Bank of England has decided to move the goalposts. The "affordability test" will be scrapped and the LTI rate fixed at its current rate of 4.5.

However, we need not worry, because, according to the BoE,

"the LTI flow limit without the affordability test, but alongside the wider assessment of affordability required by the FCA’s Mortgage Conduct of Business (MCOB) responsible lending rules, ought to deliver the appropriate level of resilience to the UK financial system, but in a simpler, more predictable and more proportionate way,”

Yeah, right! The article goes on to say,

"When (the) two mortgage recommendations were introduced eight years ago, it was to help guard against a significant increase in household indebtedness that may make any economic downturn worse."

So now we are scrapping one of them, just as we are, er, heading into an economic downturn.

Saturday, 18 June 2022

1. What percent of the atmosphere is water vapour? 2. The lapse rate and latent heat of evaporation

There are many sources that say it's on average 2 percent.

I had long assumed this was correct, it turns it out that it's complete rubbish, and it's actually about one-tenth of that.

Here is a good overview, which says:

... if all of the water in the atmosphere rained down at once, it would only cover the globe to a depth of 2.5 centimeters, about 1 inch.

This number seems to be widely accepted and seems very plausible, although some say as much as 1.5 inches.

The total mass of air pressing down on 1 m2 of Earth's surface is about ten tonnes, a 2.5cm deep x 1 m2 puddle = 25 litres = 25 kg of water. So that means about 0.25 per cent by mass, or about 4,000 ppm by number of molecules, about ten times as much as there is CO2.
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The lapse rate and latent heat of evaporation.

We know that the dry lapse rate should be about 10 degrees/km, that's easy, it's acceleration due to gravity ÷ specific heat capacity = 10 degrees/km. Energy is conserved, it just changes from one form to another; thermal energy is converted to potential energy when air rises and vice versa. But the observed lapse rate is only 6.5 degrees/km. So there are 3.5 degrees/km 'missing'. How does that tie in with the amount of water vapour, which holds 2,257 J/g of latent heat?.

I spent about two hours scribbling calculations to reconcile all this before I noticed that the original estimate is out by a factor of ten; after that it took five minutes. The answer is about 9 grams of water per m3 at sea level, falling by 1.5 grams per m3 per kilometre altitude up to 6 km altitude. The air is pretty dry above that (all water vapour has condensed out as clouds). Add them all up, and you get back to the total mass of about 2.5 kg in the lowest 6 km (average = 4.5g x 6,000m = 2.7 kg).

Entropy says the total amount of energy will spread out evenly. Using rounded figures...
1 m3 at sea level has:
- potential energy = 0 kJ
- 288K x 1,000 J/K/kg thermal energy = 288 kJ
- 9g water vapour x 2,257 J/g latent heat = 20 kJ
Total 308 kJ.
1 m3 at 1 km altitude has:
- 1 kg x 9.81 N/s2 x 1,000m = 10 kJ potential energy
- 281.5K x 1,000 J/K/kg thermal energy = 281 kJ
- 7.5g water vapour x 2,257 J/g latent heat = 17 kJ
Total = 308 kJ = the same as at sea level.

Reality check: 9 grams/m3 = 7g/kg of air = 65% relative humidity at 288K. That seems a bit high, but that is probably largely due to my crass rounding, approximations and the fact that sea level temps are between 'below freezing' and 'very warm' and RH is not linear with temperature. Above the Poles at minus 20C and 50% RH, there's only 0.6g/kg; over the tropical oceans at 30C and 75% RH, there's 20 g/kg. Or something like that.
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Then there's the thorny issue of splitting that 2.5kg into gaseous water vapour and tiny droplets in clouds (which have lost their latent heat). It turns out that the amount actually in clouds is only a few grams out of the 2.5 kg total, so can be ignored for these purposes.
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Which is all rather surprising really; of all the water on Earth, only about 1/10 of 1% of 1% is in the atmosphere, and only a small fraction of that is in clouds. Yet clouds they have a dramatic effect on the weather, and if you overlook them, your in/out radiation calculations will be wildly wrong. For some reason, AGW Theories rely on the wildly wrong calculations, but hey.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Classic shroud-waving

For anyone who remembers the post war Rent Acts, the government's latest proposals on tenancy reform appear to be fairly mild. Tenancy legislation, historically, has either unfairly favoured tenants or it has unfairly favoured landlords. It is impossible to make both sides happy, so the best you can hope for is that both sides are eqhally unhappy. This goes some way towards that. Despite that, there is, of course, a barrage of squealing from landlords, as summed up in this Telegraph article:

Small-scale buy-to-let investors say the new plans make their business models unviable and they will have to sell up for good.

So they are not really landlords, they are "investors".

Amy Jones, 50, who manages a portfolio of five buy-to-lets in Wales, said scrapping “no-fault” evictions means that many tenancies will be too risky for landlords to consider.

So not being able to get rid of perfectly good tenants who are behaving themselves and paying the rent is "too risky". I suppose, if you view the property purely as an investment, you want to be able to sell at the drop of the hat and sod the people who have to find somewhere else to live, there's a bottom line to consider here.

Bethany Jameson said: “I for one am selling up, all of them. I will sell one this year and the rest next year. By next year, you’ll be left with no small landlords and tenants will be left with higher prices.”

Ah, that old chestnut, without which no article such as this would be complete.

She said: “I’m appalled at the Government’s constant interference in the private rented sector. Landlords own the properties, not the Government. We have paid for these properties and they are our pension. It is a big assault on our property rights."

No, dear, the state owns the properties, all you own is a right to use that land as you see fit, exclusively, paying no rent. Also, if there was no government, you wouldn't have any "property rights", or any rights at all for that matter.

“I have many allergies and my husband is allergic to dogs, in no circumstance can we allow tenants with pets. We wouldn’t be able to enter the house to do any checks.”.

FFS! (noise of barrel being scraped)

David Carter, 60, who has a portfolio of 13 properties in the South West, said the Government’s plans will backfire because they mean he will no longer let properties to renters on benefits if he cannot easily evict them.

If your tenants are behaving themselves, why would you want to evict them and why is it more likely that you will want to evict them if they are on benefits?

Mr Carter said: “I cannot take risks on tenants without the safety net of Section 21 and being able to get repossession without having to explain."

Ah, so since the law won't let me be a complete bastard to my tenants, I'm not going to be a landlord any more. Well, hurrah! good riddance.

The Government’s ban on discrimination against tenants on benefits will mean little in practice for two reasons, said Mr Carter. Landlords will be able to refuse them easily because they will not pass credit checks. Crucially, because local housing allowance rates have been frozen and are out of kilter with market rents, benefits tenants will also be unable to afford the rates, he said.

So what are you complaining about, then, you twat?

"The eventual legislation needs to recognise that government actions have led to a shortage of supply in the sector at a time of record demand. It is causing landlords to leave the sector and driving up rents when people can least afford it.”

So good they said it twice.

A Government spokesman said: “We make no apologies for improving standards for renters across the country and cracking down on the minority of landlords who don't provide safe and decent homes to live in.

Presumably they were thinking of Amy, Bethany and David. Honestly, these people make me ashamed to be a landlord.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

NewsThump explains BitCoin

From NewsThump:

"Look, if you want to invest in crypto, go for it. Personally speaking, I think fireworks are a much more entertaining way of setting fire to your money, but each to their own.

“But remember, the value of other people’s Bitcoin holding depends solely and entirely on your interest in buying it. There is no underlying or intrinsic value in Bitcoin. If you don’t buy it, or express interest in buying it, then they lose money – well, even more money – so take any advice to invest in Bitcoin from someone who owns Bitcoin with a sack load of salt.”


The slide back to zero continues unabated.

Monday, 13 June 2022

Home-Owner-Ism - Guardian and NewsThump on top form

Firstly, from the Guardian.

A good summary of the overall catastrophic outcomes, the interesting bit is this:

Boris Johnson’s latest proposal to expand home ownership by asking housing associations to sell off homes to their tenants at a discount, and allowing people to put benefit payments towards a mortgage, is just the latest in a long line of bad ideas that purport to expand these benefits to more people...

In fact, one minister’s estimate that the scheme could help just a few thousand is probably on the optimistic side: housing associations are independent bodies, which the government would have to bribe rather than force to sell off their stock, and people with modest levels of savings are disqualified from benefits, which begs the question of how many could afford a deposit


This is a bizarre gimmick of a policy, but I'm sure the Tories ran it past their focus groups. Short term, it might keep the bubble going another three years (bubble due to pop in 2025). But long term, the main winners are the banks, who now have a steady stream of rising future income each time the homes are sold to the next mortgaged borrower, as NewsThump explains.

This comparison is slightly misleading:

The monthly cost of the average mortgage is cheaper than rent for the equivalent home; private renters spend 36% of their income on housing, compared with 12% for mortgage owners.

For FTBs on Day One, there isn't much difference. Over the long term, your mortgage payment stay the same or go down and general price and wage inflation exaggerates this effect.

But there is some truth in it, as NewsThump illustrates:

As Boris Johnson began operation ‘Save Boris’ with a pledge to let plebs own bricks, many have said letting benefits count towards the affordability of a mortgage is a good start, but that the amount you are currently successfully paying in rent is probably a better indicator of what you can afford for a house.

Simon Williams, a renter from Wokingham told us, “My wife and I pay just over a thousand pounds a month to rent our modest two-bed house. To buy one on the same street would require a mortgage of about £700 a month, but apparently we can’t afford that."

Backbench Tory MP Derek Despenser-Matthew told us, “Helping people like Simon and his wife is all well and good, but cannibalising the buy-to-let market it doesn’t make as good a headline as appearing to help people on benefits.

"Plus a lot of our donors are buy-to-let landlords, and it would not make good political sense to suddenly start decimating their core customer base. No, it’s much better to get a headline grabbing policy that will unlikely make it into law before the next election cycle and give Boris a few days of breathing space.”

Friday, 10 June 2022

Putin - the CEO of an oil and gas company with its own armed forces

Most of the reasons bandied about as to why Putin invaded Ukraine are clearly nonsense, unless he is insane. Denazification? Reclaiming lost Russian territory? A buffer zone between evil NATO and Mother Russia proper? Winning a popular war to burnish his tough guy image and distract his 'voters' from the failing economy/massive corruption (of which he is the main beneficiary)? They all seem implausible to me.

I watched a 40 minute video by Real Life Lore on YouTube which does seem very plausible, and does not presume insanity on Putin's part.

The post title is a quote from the video; he wants to be CEO of a state-owned/controlled monopoly, but a qualification for that is being President. Anything he does to remain in power is to be able to permanentaly re-appoint himself as CEO. He also has to run oil and gas half way competently to be able to pay off his selected oligarchs, with a bit left over to bribe the electorate.

Basically, all his invasions and interventions - Georgia, Chechnya, even Syria, annexing The Crimea, arming Donbas separatists, and now Ukraine proper - are about securing oil and gas reserves and/or controlling pipelines and ports (Black Sea, Aral Sea). Russia either takes the territory directly or bullies neighbouring countries into compliance (Kazakhstan, Byelorussia, Azerbaijan). There are also apparently lots of gas reserves in the Sea of Azov, which Russia now has surrounded.

And Putin got away with all the previous incursions, the West did little to stop him apart from a few token sanctions, so he thought we would turn a blind eye to this one, which we didn't. Sleepy Joe as good as declared war on him personally.

Which is also why Putin couldn't care less if he carpet bombs the Donbas and Mariupol back to the Stone Age, he needs to control the geographic territory, not the people. They are superfluous to requirements (and he'd rather they all fled, today's civilian is tomorrow's partisan).

Also, Putin fights like a girl, belying his tough guy image.
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Anybody who starts bleating "But what about the Americans invading Iraq? They are just as bad!" can shut up. For sure, that was largely about oil (David Frost goaded Donald Rumsfeld into blurting that out) and not about WMDs (surely nobody believed that crap) or because Hussein was harbouring Al Qaeda (clearly bollocks).

But the Yanks did not routinely carpet bomb all the large cities, they didn't want the domestic backlash and dreamed they could win over the local population (yeah, right).

Furthermore, it was not too difficult to dislodge Hussein as a dictator, there was hardly a groundswell of popular support for him, the various factions were looking forward to fighting with each other again. Not that any of this is particularly relevant to what Putin's motives are.