Monday 30 December 2019

Can Someone Explain Australia?

OK. First up, it's a cute song, and I've nothing against seeing some of Ms Minogue.

But... here's the things they show in the ad:-

- beaches
- sports
- bit of modern art
- fishing
- restaurants
- wines
- pubs

You can go to France, Italy or Spain and do all that, can't you? So, why spend a couple of days and a grand flying there and getting jetlagged, when you can nip over the channel?

Sunday 29 December 2019

An Objective Analysis

In the spirit of togetherness as befits the season of goodwill to all men I thought it might be timely to assess and complement our soon to be ex (hopefully) EU 'partners'...

Switzerland’s less fashionable neighbour. Still thinks the Austro Hungarian Empire is a thing.
Created by us. Good tank country. How did it end up with the best race track in the World?
The USSR’s favourite Cold War thugs
Part of the Balkans. Hence Trouble
Worst sherry in the world
Great engineers
Bacon and Hamlet
Battlefield of choice for Russia and Germany
Fantastic rally and GP drivers and fought the Reds to a standstill.
The place you drive through to get to Switzerland and Italy
Came second. Twice.
Don’t trust a Greek bearing gifts
More Soviet thugs and like Austria still think the Austro Hungarian Empire is a thing.
Highly intelligent with a great sense of humour and Guiness
Best food anywhere. Ferrari. Maserati. Lancia. OSCA. Need I say more?
See Estonia above
False teeth and tax evasion
Invented Capitalism. And were indirectly responsible for the Glorious Revolution.
Plumbers for hire. More excellent battlefields for Germany and Russia
Our oldest ally. Port.
Hitler’s oil fields and more thugs for whoever.
Think Czecho..
Another Balkan state = trouble.
Lazy. Like killing donkeys and bulls
Abba. Blondes. Norway with a sense of humour.

Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to you all.

What if it's Everyone Else That is Right?

From Sky News

The head of the Lake District National Park Authority in Cumbria says the rugged landscape excludes too many people and must change to attract a more diverse mix of visitors.

His warning comes after attempts to make the UNESCO World Heritage site more inclusive have sparked a series of rows with conservationists.


Research shows visitors to the Lake District, where the rugged fells inspired the romantic poets and author Beatrix Potter, are too heavily weighted towards older, able-bodied white people.

Why do people even assume that everyone else wants this? My idea of a nice holiday is going to France, barbecuing mergeuz, drinking wine, swimming in a pool, reading books and exploring the history in the local area. I'm not going to go to a place with even worse weather than Wiltshire to spend my days walking up and down muddy hills wearing a cagoule.

I suspect the people who do it probably have a history of doing it. It's what they did with their parents as kids, so they carry on doing it. The people who came over from the Caribbean or from India didn't do it, so it's never grown.

Killer Argument Against LVT (475)

The "Golden Rule" is that "he who has the gold, makes the rules" and, as this, rather lengthy, essay proves, those who have the gold in today's world, have interests diametrically opposed to the transfer of taxation from the productive economy to land, in fact, precisely the reverse.

Saturday 28 December 2019

It would appear that some at the Bank of England aren't that stupid...

Subsequent to my recent post, Surely, the Bank of England is not that stupid? (the BoE said banks should increase mortgage-to-income multiples if house prices rose), comes this in The Telegraph (also emailed in by Lola):

Ultra-low borrowing costs have fuelled a huge property boom that pushed house prices beyond the reach of young buyers, the Bank of England has warned.

A five-fold surge in house prices over the past 50 years can be “more than accounted for by the substantial decline” in the cost of borrowing, according to research by the Bank.

Its economists warned that even a housebuilding spree would not have stopped a huge rise in prices caused by the long-term plunge in rates - undermining claims that Britain's property bubble has been caused by a lack of new homes.

I assume that they are referring to this Staff Research Paper, which goes into a lot of detail, but can be summarised as follows (exactly as we explain it):

a) Rent as proportion of average gross earnings is very stable, bobbing around at 35% - 40% for the past three decades (Figure 10). So it can't be 'lack of supply' otherwise rents would have increased faster.

b) Rent (a constant) divided by required monthly repayment rate (interest + principal) = mortgage.

c) Mortgage + deposit = house price.

The paper does not seem to make recommendations, although you'd have thought those are obvious...

Tuesday 24 December 2019

"More High Street/Business rates fun"

Emailed in by Lola from The Telegraph:

Harrods’ Knightsbridge store alone will pay £17.1m this year in business rates, according to property consultant Altus Group. Retailers large and small claim the property tax is deeply unfair because it hits high street stores far harder than online players such as Amazon, which rely on cheap out-of-town warehouses.

“There isn’t a level playing field and nobody’s tried to put in place a level playing field,” Ward says, “Until there is a fundamental review of the business rates system, then I think that the high street is really doomed.”

According to this, Harrods has an annual turnover of £2 billion, most of that will be from its flagship store in Knightsbridge, so they are paying less than 2% of their turnover in Business Rates.

Does he not realise that there is a perfectly level playing field? If he thinks he can make more profit by shutting down the flagship store and just selling stuff online from an out-of-town warehouse, then why doesn't he do it?

He doesn't do it because he knows perfectly well that the £17.1 million a year they pay is only a fraction of the extra profit they can make by trading from a huge building in the swankiest area of London, surrounded by obscenely wealthy people and tourists who have nothing better to do that go to Harrods and spend money.

Monday 23 December 2019

Xmas gear change

Celine Dion, "I met an angel on Christmas Day", up a cheeky semi-tone half way through the last line of the middle eight at 1 min 52 secs.

Sunday 22 December 2019

Fun With Numbers

We were always taught that there are three ways to solve a quadratic equation i.e. something in the format Ax^2 + Bx +C = 0 - factorisation, the quadratic formula and completing the square  (see Cliff Notes).

Maths genius Po-Shen Loh has finally realised (or finally admitted?) that at this is all Emperor's New Clothes stuff (which maths people have used to show off and/or torture generations of pupils), and has explained a method that is so blindingly simple and obvious that a load of people - including me - are thinking "Damn! Why didn't I think of that?" (ignore the ghastly soundtrack):

The beauty of it is, even if you forget the precise steps, as long as you understand the logic in his video (which I won't bother paraphrasing, just watch the video starting at 1 min 46 seconds, it takes him less than a minute to explain), you can reverse engineer this method yourself.

1. Make sure that A = 1, so if you are given 2x^2 - 16x + 30 = 0, divide it all by 2 to get x^2 - 8x + 15 = 0.

2. Divide B by 2 and square it; deduct C (NB, if the constant at the end is negative, then add it!); then find the square root of the result, that is our new number "u" (I don't know why he chose "u").

3. x is then negative half of B, plus or minus "u".

For example:

x^2 - 8x + 15 = 0

16 - 15 = 1, the square root of 1 = +/- 1 ("u" in his notation).

x = 4 +/- 1 = 3 or 5.

Apparently it works in all circumstances, even if the answers are fractions or include the square root of a negative number.

Saturday 21 December 2019

Surely the Bank of England is not that stupid?

Emailed in by Lola from FT Adviser, subject line 'FFS'.

The Bank of England would expect to loosen its mortgage affordability rules if the UK experienced strong house price growth, it has said.

In a working paper titled Modelling the Distribution of Mortgage Debt, out this week (July 3), the central bank tested the regulation of affordability in two different scenarios — a ‘business as usual’ one and one it named the ‘upside scenario’.

So they not think about what they have just written?

You could just as well turn that first part round and state:

If the Bank of England loosens its mortgage affordability rules, the UK will experience strong house price growth.

To all intents and purposes, credit availability and house prices (aka 'The Housing Crisis') are the same thing.

Friday 20 December 2019

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence...

Damn and blast.

I wanted to go to the shops with the lass yesterday evening in the Del Sol. Once we got up to speed, I noticed that the rear left tyre was flat, so we went home to try again in the MX-5.

The battery  in that was completely dead, which sort of serves me right as the battery is three years old, they never last long in MX-5's and it had died on me a couple of weeks ago. So a trip to Halfords it is.

Not to worry, say I, let's just go in the MR2 Roadster. On the way home, I noticed that the power steering was defective and it would barely turn right. My local garage is now shut for Xmas/New Year and I can't take it in until January.

To be updated during the course of the day as matters progress...
Del Sol - AA fitted the spare wheel for me, we found the puncture on the tyre, which was on the inside wall one inch up from the ground. Lord knows how that happened. He told me it was irreparable, I went to the tyre place, they concurred, and fitted me a set of Uniroyal Rainsport 3's, the same as I have on the other two. £220 for all four. It is now noticeably nicer to drive.

MX-5 - not even the red light for the immobiliser was blinking when I got in and tried this afternoon, so I assumed the battery was stone cold dead. Funnily enough, it started first time, no problem. How can batteries recharge themselves overnight? We will never know. Drove to Halfords who tested it and told me the battery was fine and I just need to drive round for three-quarters of an hour to fully charge it, which I did.

MR2 Roadster - I played musical cars so I could put the MX-5 on the side of the drive which is easier to get in and out of, which meant juggling the MR2 sideways. Power steering is completely dead, and it took ten iterations before it was in place.

Two out of three ain't bad, I suppose.

Thursday 19 December 2019

The funny things that Home-Owner-Ists say...

From The Daily Mail:

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: 'We welcome the continued commitment to a fundamental review of the business rates system and would like to see this formalised in the upcoming Budget.

'It would do far more to help relieve struggling high streets and safeguard jobs and communities than short-term discounts which will only impact some businesses but not all.

'The retail rates discount is just another sticking plaster that ducks the real crisis facing high streets especially in vulnerable areas of England already suffering from years of economic decline and falling rents.

Retailers aren't suffering from falling rents; their landlords are.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Australian heat-wave, BBC vs Tony Heller

From the BBC:

Australia has experienced its hottest day on record with the national average temperature reaching a high of 40.9C (105.6F).

The Bureau of Meteorology (Bom) said "extensive" heat on Tuesday exceeded the previous record of 40.3C set on 7 January 2013. Taking the average of maximum temperatures across the country is the most accurate measure of a heatwave.


There are 25 locations in Australia with daily temperature data going back before 1890. This graph shows all 1,389,419 daily maximum temperature readings at those locations since 1876.

The actual waveform is a 120 year long cycle. The hottest year was 1902 and the second hottest was 2018. Australia was cold during the 1970s ice age scare, just like everywhere else.

At least one of them is grossly misrepresenting the actual situation.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

"Dick" by name, dick by nature...

From The Evening Standard:

Britain's most senior police officer has described the legalisation of cannabis in Canada and parts of the US as "interesting experiments" that should be watched... She said the debate around the subject was "complex"...

No it's not, it's perfectly simple.

... and believed if the UK was to legalise drugs immediately, it could lead to a variety of health problems.

Nonsense. We know from places where they legalised it that usage does not change massively (up or down), so there is little or no net effect. I, and I assume most people, don't like the stuff and wouldn't be interested even if it were legal.

However, speaking to radio show host Eddie Nestor on Monday, Dame Cressida said: "I think it is worth looking at what is happening in Canada and parts of the United States, albeit we have to recognise culturally that is very different."

Very little is 'happening', that is the beauty of it. As to 'culturally very different', she really is scraping the barrel. A sane person would consider Canada, the USA, Portugal, Netherlands as 'culturally very similar' to the UK.

"My concern is, I’m not a health professional, but you see what is happening with skunk and some of the damage done to people with mental health issues, is absolutely huge."

No you aren't, and no it isn't.

"The organised crime groups, in my view, would come in and cause problems in different markets and start selling different things to people. Let's see though what happens."

Wait, what? "The organised crime gangs would come in"??? They're already in! If you make something illegal, you end up with criminal gangs (Prohibition in the USA). If you legalise something (repeal Prohibition), the opposite happens.

And nobody said we should make the really strong varieties legal, that's no argument against legalising (and of course regulating and taxing) the normal strength stuff. You might as well say that because it's (quite rightly) illegal to drive a car that's not roadworthy, that you should simply ban all cars.

Amazon's move to New York

From The Guardian:

Amazon said on Friday it will open offices in New York City’s Hudson Yards neighborhood in 2021 to house its consumer and advertising teams, marking its most substantial expansion in the city since the reversal.

The move comes 10 months after the company cancelled plans for a headquarters in Queens after extensive backlash from residents and politicians, including Ocasio-Cortez.

They had objected to the nearly $3bn in financial incentives the city and state had offered Amazon for the construction of the headquarters.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez ('AOC' to her friends) has given herself a well deserved pat on the back for calling this one right.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Fun With Numbers

This week I have been mostly thinking about natural logarithms.

I'm not sure if there's any practical purpose to this in everyday life, but it means expressing a number as a certain power of e.

e (or e^1) = 2.7 1828 1828 459 (I have put the spaces in because this is how you memorise it to 12 decimal places). The natural log of e = 1.

e^2 = 7.389, so the natural log of 7.389 = 2.0, and so on.

To approximate the natural log of any number up to 1,000, you just need to memorise two tables, I've rounded all the numbers a bit because this is only an approximation:

Table 1
Natural log of 2.7 = 1
Natural log of 7.4 = 2
Natural log of 20 = 3
Natural log of 55 = 4
Natural log of 148 = 5
Natural log of 403 = 6

Table 2
25% = 0.22
50% = 0.41
75% = 0.56
100% = 0.69
125% = 0.81
150% = 0.92

You can memorise more increments if you wish, but it's just as easy interpolating between them.

So... how do you work out the natural log of, for example, 80, to one decimal place?

The highest number from Table 1 that is lower than 80 is 55, so the first part of your answer is 4.

Then subtract 55 from 80 = 25. That's 'a bit less than' 50% of 55. You look in Table 2, and the next part of your answer is 'a bit less than' 0.41, call it 0.4.

Add the two parts together, the natural log of 80 is 4.4.

Check on calculator, yup, the answer is 4.382. You can put in a bit more effort and interpolate between 0.22 and 0.41 to get close to the 0.38 bit.

Let's do 100.

The first part of the answer is also 4, from Table 1.

100 - 55 = 45, which is 'a bit more than' 75% of 55, so look up 75% in Table 2, the next part of your answer is 'a bit more than' 0.56, so round it up to 0.6

4 + 0.6, the natural log of 100 is about 4.6.

Check on calculator, the answer is 4.605.
After half an hour's practice, you can get most to the nearest decimal place, two decimal places if you put in the effort and strike lucky. It's a bit more challenging than playing Candy Crush or something.

Friday 13 December 2019

Tory win - great news for state-backed and monopoly businesses!

From The Guardian:

FTSE 250 rockets to record high as banks, housebuilders and utilities surge

Wednesday 11 December 2019

The original Peloton advert reminds of a chapter from Nineteen Eighty-Four

From here:

The telescreen was giving forth an ear-splitting whistle which continued on the same note for thirty seconds. It was nought seven fifteen, getting-up time for office workers. Winston wrenched his body out of bed -- naked, for a member of the Outer Party received only 3,000 clothing coupons annually, and a suit of pyjamas was 600 -- and seized a dingy singlet and a pair of shorts that were lying across a chair. 

The Physical Jerks would begin in three minutes. The next moment he was doubled up by a violent coughing fit which nearly always attacked him soon after waking up. It emptied his lungs so completely that he could only begin breathing again by lying on his back and taking a series of deep gasps. His veins had swelled with the effort of the cough, and the varicose ulcer had started itching.

'Thirty to forty group!' yapped a piercing female voice. 'Thirty to forty group! Take your places, please. Thirties to forties!'

Winston sprang to attention in front of the telescreen, upon which the image of a youngish woman, scrawny but muscular, dressed in tunic and gym-shoes, had already appeared.

'Arms bending and stretching!' she rapped out. 'Take your time by me. One, two, three, four! One, two, three, four! Come on, comrades, put a bit of life into it! One, two, three, four! One, two, three, four! ...'

The pain of the coughing fit had not quite driven out of Winston's mind the impression made by his dream, and the rhythmic movements of the exercise restored it somewhat. As he mechanically shot his arms back and forth, wearing on his face the look of grim enjoyment which was considered proper during the Physical Jerks, he was struggling to think his way backward into the dim period of his early childhood...

Stand easy!' barked the instructress, a little more genially.

Winston sank his arms to his sides and slowly refilled his lungs with air.

The instructress had called them to attention again. 'And now let's see which of us can touch our toes!' she said enthusiastically. 'Right over from the hips, please, comrades. One-two! One- two! ...'

Winston loathed this exercise, which sent shooting pains all the way from his heels to his buttocks and often ended by bringing on another coughing fit.

'Smith!' screamed the shrewish voice from the telescreen. '6079 Smith W.! Yes, you! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You're not trying. Lower, please! That's better, comrade. Now stand at ease, the whole squad, and watch me.'

A sudden hot sweat had broken out all over Winston's body. His face remained completely inscrutable. Never show dismay! Never show resentment! A single flicker of the eyes could give you away. He stood watching while the instructress raised her arms above her head and -- one could not say gracefully, but with remarkable neatness and efficiency -- bent over and tucked the first joint of her fingers under her toes.

'There, comrades! That's how I want to see you doing it. Watch me again. I'm thirty-nine and I've had four children. Now look.' She bent over again. 'You see my knees aren't bent. You can all do it if you want to,' she added as she straightened herself up. 'Anyone under forty-five is perfectly capable of touching his toes. Now try again. That's better, comrade, that's much better,' she added encouragingly as Winston, with a violent lunge, succeeded in touching his toes with knees unbent, for the first time in several years.

Why on earth anybody would pay £2,000 to be subjected to this rubbish is a mystery to me.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Weak "climate denier" argument.

Prompted by Bayard's comment here about water vapour (and the logical impossibility of the CO2/H2O positive feedback effect, without which there can't be Runaway Global Warming. The arch-Alarmist website Skeptical Science admits that CO2 alone can't do much, it needs the CO2/H2O positive feedback effect as well), I did a bit of googling and stumbled across this.

There are at least a dozen sound reasons why I refuse to along with the "climate catastrophe" narrative, but this isn't one of them:

The effect of water vapor on temperature is especially important because of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claim that CO2 can cause catastrophic global warming. 

Because CO2 is not capable of causing significant global warming by itself, their contention is that increased CO2 raises temperature slightly and that produces an increase in water vapor, which does have the capability of raising atmospheric temperature. If that is indeed the case, then as CO2 rises, we should observe a concomitant increase in water vapour...

Agreed so far.

However, Figs. 9.3 and 9.4 show that water vapour (relative humidity) between 10,000 and 30,000 feet declined from 1948 to 2014.

That's his punchline? Here's his mistake - a decline in relative humidity can mean one of two things:
a) Less water vapour at the same temperature, or
b) Same amount of water vapour at a higher temperature.

So those measurements don't necessarily mean less water vapour.

From here, a nice chart:

So if we have 10g of water per 1kg of air at 15C, that's 100% relative humidity. If we warm the air to 25C, it's now only 50% relative humidity.

I'm not clever enough to reverse engineer the calculations, but I wouldn't be surprised if the average 6% fall in relative humidity over six decades means the same amount of water vapour and 1C higher average temperatures, and let's just accept the claim that the average atmospheric temperature has indeed increased by 1C over the last six decades (quite possibly true, quite possibly it's much more or less than that, or even a fall, I'm not sure it's a relevant metric, what matters is whether anything bad happens, down here on the surface).

I would be surprised if there was a significant increase in water vapour (you have to believe this if you are an Alarmist), but I'm not convinced there was a significant reduction, which is the basis of the argument under discussion.

KIller Arguments Against LVT, Not (474)

It's nice to see five time honoured classic KLNs in this morning's City AM, neatly packaged and bundled. I've a nasty feeling that Homeys just choose a few at random from Cue Al Pacino quote.

Should business rates be scrapped and replaced with a land tax, as the Lib Dems suggest?

Sarah Collins, director of RIFT Research and Development, says NO.

At first glance, scrapping business rates will be received well by small business owners. But there’s a problem: it needs to be paid for, and to the tune of around £25bn each year in typical tax revenue (1).

The Lib Dem solution is to tax commercial landlords, which is all well and good until you realise the following.

Local councils are dependent upon business rates to fund local services. Any funding gap brought about by a miscalculation or by landlords simply domiciling their assets elsewhere (2) would leave neighbourhoods bereft of support for things like affordable homes, social care, play areas — all of which the Lib Dems say they stand up for.(3)

These same commercial landlords — the likes of British Land and Land Securities — are also invested in by pension funds (4). Tax them until the pips squeak,(5) and returns will diminish and pension pots will shrink. This will again impact the very same people whom Jo Swinson says she’s looking out for.

While well intentioned, this clumsy policy has potentially disastrous unintended consequences.(6)

1) Yes, it was proposed as a replacement tax, so ought to raise the same amount as Business Rates. Landowners in low value areas will pay less, landowners in high value areas will pay more. LVT is more 'progressive' than Business Rates.

2) We're familiar with the Missing Homes Conundrum. This woman is going one better with the Missing Land Conundrum. Or does she mean that people will re-register their land titles in the name of an offshore entity? Has she not heard of ATED, which is only payable on high-value UK housing owned by an offshore entity, and which has collection rates of 100%? Or does she imagine that if she buys a home in the USA and doesn't pay the property tax, they'll let her off scot free?

3) There is no direct link between taxation and spending. This KLN links Business Rates with Good Things, an interesting twist on the traditional KLN that LVT revenues would be wasted on Bad Things.

4) Totally irrelevant.
a) Pension funds also own shares in weapons manufacturers (and other cartoon baddies like Big Oil, alcohol and tobacco); is this an argument against embargos on the sale of weapons to unfriendly regimes, or against fuel duty, or against preventing under-18 year olds from buying booze or fags?
b) Pension funds also own shares in retailers and other businesses currently paying Business Rates; British Land and Land Securities own land and buildings in low value and in high value areas, so the gains and losses will cancel out anyway.

5) It's a replacement tax. You could increase any tax (apart from LVT) to a ridiculous rate; you could increase  Business Rates until the pips squeak; that's not an argument for or against any particular kind of tax. And in (3) above, she criticised LVT on the basis that revenues would fall.

6) She has named precisely zero adverse consequences.

Monday 9 December 2019

Well, yes and no.

From The Daily Mail:

A mother has blasted Marks and Spencer for 'false advertising' after her artificial Christmas tree arrived wonky and looking like a 'twig without any leaves'.

Ms Jasionowicz, of Cheshunt Hertfordshire, said:

"I was hugely disappointed because we put a lot of time and effort into putting the tree up. We took it down straight away because it looks awful. It looks like a twig without any leaves. I expected a quality product but that's not what we got. The image on the website does not represent the product and I feel like we were sold short."

"Sold short"?? It looks worse than no tree at all, so well done Ms Jasionowicz for naming and shaming M&S.

But with just over two weeks to go before Christmas the family are yet to find a replacement tree and have been given a refund by M&S following a complaint.

Wot? The shops are full of them.

Saturday 7 December 2019

This year's Xmas CD cover

This was a collaboration with my daughter, who can share the blame/credit:

The unsurprising impact of scrapping bridge tolls

From the BBC:

Journeys on the westbound carriageway on the Prince of Wales Bridge have increased by 16% in the year since the tolls were removed.

An average of more than 39,000 journeys are being made each day, up from less than 34,000 per day in 2018 when the £5.60 charge was still in place. Highways England said traffic rose by about 32% on the M48 Bridge, but exact figures were not available.

All those journeys mean more economic activity and so on. Tolls mean income for the bridge owner and and equal and opposite cost to motorists, so that is just a transfer of wealth and cancels out. Tolls also depress economic activity, so scrapping them is a clear win overall. Which is why I don't like tolls.

The bad news is, the value of that extra economic activity in south Wales and Bristol largely goes into higher land values, so the total rent collected i.e. land rent + tolls, stays the same.

This bit is interesting:

In the past two years the eastbound carriageway had seen a daily average of 3,000 more journeys than the westbound carriageway, where the tolls applied.

But after the removals of the tolls, the difference has fallen to about 1,000 journeys more eastbound per day since the tolls were removed, with an average of 40,364 trips from Wales to England in 2019.

How is this sustainable? To get from south Wales to Bristol, you have to take one of the two toll bridges, so the number of journeys each way should be the same.

One possible answer is that 1,000 people emigrate from Wales permanently each day, but that can't be right because Wales would be empty by now.

Thursday 5 December 2019

"The end of the world is nigh"

Comment by OnTheOtherHand here:

The whole [climate change] issue is so complicated that in order to understand it fully, one needs to quit life and study it full time, or one has to pick trusted sources to digest the complexity and summarise. 

Based on the other beliefs that tend to be correlated with climate alarmism - e.g. big government controlling lives rather than freedom, SJW, rejection of most tradition in favour of this replacement new "religion", I tend to smell a rat with the data selected by climate change proponents.

I come from a position that every generation thinks that there is some massive problem that will never be solved - Malthus and overpopulation, global cooling in the 70s, DDT and pesticides, nuclear war, acid rain and forests, ozone layer, AIDS going epidemic in the general population, GM food, bird flu, ebola.

Global warming is one of our problems, but I am sure that it will make more sense to invest in research and innovation and adapt than to bomb our economy now for certain just to slightly reduce the possibility of catastrophic GW theory being right.

The end of the world is nigh. Repent, or at least signal your virtue by campaigning about plastic straws.

At the risk of sounding glib (some of those things were real issues which we actually dealt with; some were real issues which we learned to live with/brushed under the carpet; some were real issues which somehow sorted themselves out; and of course some were just scare stories etc), amen to that.

Jo Swinson's strange accent

The wife watched The One Show on BBC1, which was followed by the Andrew Neil/Jo Swinson interview, so despite myself, I watched the first few minutes.

He asked the obvious question, "Would you agree to a second Indyref if the SNP demanded that in return for supporting a second referendum on Brexit?", which she resolutely refused to answer.

So far, so boring.

What was weird is that Ms Swindon has a Scottish accent most of the time, but she pronounced some words in proper Queen's English, in particular the word "vote".

Did anybody else notice this?
UPDATE: prompted by Staffordshire Man's comment, I subjected myself to the first ten minutes again on BBC i-Player, and he's right. She pronounces words with long vowels (like 'campaign', 'time' or 'voting') not in Queen's English but in the Bristol/south west fashion, with the long vowels slightly too long. Short vowels are straight Scottish, using Andrew Neil as a comparison.

Monday 2 December 2019

"Here Are Five of The Main Reasons People Continue to Deny Climate Change"

From Science Alert.

Yup, good list, sign me up to all of those five.

Point 1:

Deniers suggest climate change is just part of the natural cycle. Or that climate models are unreliable and too sensitive to carbon dioxide.

Climate or climates clearly exist, and it or they keep changing. The derogatory expression 'Climate Denier' is based on 'Holocaust Denier', people who flatly refuse to accept that there was such a thing despite a huge mountain of evidence saying that it did happen. Even the perpetrators didn't deny that it happened, they just downplayed their own personal roles.

The chart shows that average temperatures have increased by about 1C over the last fifty years. I'm happy to take this at face value. They can say what they like, this is entirely within the normal range of up- and downward fluctuations since we started recording temperatures reliably.

And don't they keep telling us that last time CO2 levels were this high, global temperatures were 3C higher? Which sort of illustrates that there is little correlation between CO2 levels and temperature.

So that whole section falls flat on its logical arse.

Most insulting of all are the sweeping generalisations under point 5:

Deniers argue that climate change is not as bad as scientists make out. We will be much richer in the future and better able to fix climate change. They also play on our emotions as many of us don't like change and can feel we are living in the best of times – especially if we are richer or in power.

But similarly hollow arguments were used in the past to delay ending slavery, granting the vote to women, ending colonial rule, ending segregation, decriminalising homosexuality, bolstering worker's rights and environmental regulations, allowing same sex marriages and banning smoking.

These are not scientific questions, they are value judgments. As it happens, I am, or would have been had I been alive and asked at the time, in favour of everything on that list, except of course the smoking ban. Most of the items are pro-freedom; the smoking ban is anti-freedom.

Sunday 1 December 2019

"Last Christmas"

It being the first day of December, we put up the Xmas decorations, and Her Indoors and I went to see Last Christmas.

What can go wrong, I thought, it was universally panned by the critics as a cheesy, predictable Xmas rom-com, guaranteeing that you'll be pleasantly surprised, i.e. coming out thinking "It wasn't that bad, really".

What they don't warn you is that it is a real weepie tear jerker, I was welling up for the last ten minutes, thinking about my own mortality and the meaning of life and stuff.