Saturday 27 February 2021

Here we go again...

From the BBC:

A mortgage guarantee scheme to help people with small deposits get on the property ladder is set to be announced at next week's Budget. The government will offer incentives to lenders, bringing back 95% mortgages which have "virtually disappeared" during the pandemic, the Treasury says.

An extension to the Stamp Duty Land Tax "holiday" is also on the cards.
From The Daily Mail:

Biden bombs Syria border crossing and 'kills 22' Iran-backed militia fighters in retaliation to rocket attacks that injured American troops and killed a contractor in Iraq.

The poor sods will be looking back fondly at the Trump years.
And for a bit of light relief, a "global warming causes cooling" story from The Guardian:

Rahmstorf said: “We risk triggering [a tipping point] in this century, and the [Gulf Stream] would spin down within the next century. It is extremely unlikely that we have already triggered it, but if we do not stop global warming, it is increasingly likely that we will trigger it.”

Research in 2018 also showed a weakening of the AMOC, but the paper in Nature Geoscience says this was unprecedented over the last millennium, a clear indication that human actions are to blame. Scientists have previously said a weakening of the Gulf Stream could cause freezing winters in western Europe and unprecedented changes across the Atlantic.

Thursday 25 February 2021

Not sure why this is anybody else's problem.

From the BBC:

Local MP Liam Byrne spoke about the problem in the House of Commons this week. It is, he told MPs, "a story of two nations - rich and poor".

This is not unique to Birmingham. It is a pattern that is being repeated across the country. The people who are most at risk from the virus are the ones, it seems, who are least likely to come forward for vaccination.

Detailed data on uptake down to a community level is not being published by the government to the frustration of many - the figures for Birmingham were published by the council. But what information is available suggests the poorest and most ethnically diverse communities (there is a huge overlap between the two) are seeing the lowest levels of uptake.

The vaccines seem to be working - hooray
Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, the UK govermnent and the NHS between them are handling it all well - hooray
The vaccines are 'free' and well advertised - hooray
They are not compulsory - hooray
The corollary of 'not compulsory' is that some people, for whatever reasons, will refuse to have it. Fair enough. That's the price of freedom.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

RE: ozone depletion - how does the extra Ultraviolet B radiation affect clouds?

That's a question to which I have found no obvious answer, but I assume that if there is a bit of extra high intensity UV-B hitting the atmosphere, it will evaporate some of the clouds, i.e. turn water droplets back into water vapour. The wavelength of UV-B is orders of magnitude less than that of infra red, so the chances of it being absorbed by a molecule in a tiny water droplet is commensurately higher. And 'absorbed' just means that radiation energy is converted to some other form of energy.

This can lead to a disproportionate effect on surface and atmospheric temperatures. This theory might be totally wrong of course but it seems plausible to me. The effect must be warming, however slight. I've not put numbers on the effect because you have to make far too many assumptions so that would 'prove' nothing. This is a wait and see operation. If I live long enough to see the 'ozone hole' repair itself (perhaps by the middle of this century?) and temperatures fall again even though CO2 levels have increased (and they will), then that would support the theory but not really 'prove' it either way:

1. Starting position pre-ozone depletion

Some sunlight hits the surface, most of it hits clouds and is partially reflected: 2. There is now more UV-B (imaginatively coloured violet, even though it is invisible)

Some hits the surface; most of it hits clouds: 3. Cloud cover is reduced

Some of the energy in UV-B evaporates water droplets and so is converted to latent heat of evaporation (no measurable temperature increase). That thins the clouds slightly and reduces the amount of cloud cover. This allows more sunlight at all other wavelengths through to the surface.

So it's not so much the bit of extra UV-B which warms the surface; it is all the other sunlight that isn't reflected and that now gets through. An average reduction in cloud cover of 2% reduces albedo and increases the amount of sunlight getting through by about 1%, sufficient to cause about 1 degree of surface warming: 4. At night, the water vapour condenses into clouds again

The energy converted to latent heat of evaporation during the day turns back into extra thermal energy when the water vapour condenses again (or the rate of cooling is lower than it otherwise would be). This warms the atmosphere slightly. The surface is also slightly warmer. The pink arrows denote the extra infra red and warmth generally:

Sunday 21 February 2021

Access to LVTC site blocked?

Here for general reference, an email reply from the people who run the LVTC site:

The "you have been blocked" message comes up when a visitor triggers the website's firewall by doing something untoward, e.g. repeatedly attempting to log in to the admin area.

You get three chances before you're blocked for a day, and if you're blocked three times you get permanently blocked by the firewall.

To block visitors the firewall uses their IP address. Unfortunately, because IP addresses are usually shared that does mean some genuine visitors will also get blocked. This appears to have happened [name].

I have cleared the block lists, so [name] will have access. If he doesn't please advise him to clear his browser history (the same thing will apply to anyone else).

Going forward, I've revised the firewall configuration and changed part of the warning message to say:

"Contact with your IPv4 address (visit if you believe you were blocked in error."

Vaccinations are helping drive down new infections. Or not, as the case may be.

The UK government is doing a fine job with vaccinations, which started in December 2020 and really got up to speed in January 2021, averaging 2.5 million vaccinations per week. These appear to be driving down new infections (all data from
Slam dunk, you might think, 1-0 to the UK's strategy!

That is, until you look at daily new cases in other north European countries which have barely started with vaccinations. In these three countries, daily cases also peaked in late December or early January and have been falling since then. I am aware that you could also cherry pick countries which show a slightly different pattern, but that is not the point. More things for which there is no obvious explanation:

Saturday 20 February 2021

"Silver bullet housing policy could make homeowners millions"

Lola emailed me a link to this regurgitation of the press release:

New modelling shows that the average homeowner who did take up the scheme could make hundreds of thousands, or even millions of pounds, depending on where they live – after building costs and costs of finance. One worked example in the paper shows how a post war cul de sac in Barnet could voluntarily decide to uplift. This would transform the 26 bungalows worth £14 million in total, to be given an additional £54 million in uplift, £10 million of which goes to the council, £44m of which goes to the homeowners (£1.7 million each).

Economist Sam Bowman tells Guido that the policy could solve the housing crisis by unusually making everyone a winner:

“This is the silver bullet that could solve the housing crisis – unlike almost all other proposals, this one works by enriching existing homeowners when they allow more homes to be built. The solution to this decades-long problem is to make it a win/win for people who own their own homes and people who want to. If the government goes ahead with these plans it could make Thatcher’s right-to-buy look like a drop in the ocean in terms of increasing homeownership in Britain.”

This superficially sounds like the grey market in air rights in Manhattan or some Home-Owner-Ist Ponzi scheme. So I followed the links to the actual proposal in order to see if it really was that dumb.

It isn't actually. What it boils down to is that under current rules, one person on a street puts in a planning application to significantly extend his home, and all his neighbours oppose it. Under their cunning plan, those on a street who want to extend come up with a planning application for the whole street which gives every owner the same right to extend, and they all take a vote. If a majority agrees, then everybody can extend up to the new maximum.

Those who are opposed will vote against. Those who aren't bothered either way have to make a calculation - being surrounded by larger/higher buildings depresses the current rental value of a home, but the automatic right to extend it by a certain amount increases its potential selling price. If it's a net uplift, then it makes sense to vote in favour and bank the uplift.

So actually it's quite a sensible suggestion. In theory, it pushes the balance towards densification rather than sprawl, which is believed to be A Good Thing. But clearly, it will make very little difference to anything. I can only see it taking off on streets where all homes are similar, so everybody's uplift is the same.

And as per usual, it just funnels money/value towards people in high value areas. In an average residential area with averagely spaced semi-detached houses worth £200,000, the ones with a third storey are worth (say) £50,000 more, but the third storey costs £50,000 to build. In an expensive area where an average semi-detached costs £600,000, the extra storey might increase the value by £150,000 for a build cost of £50,000, so that's a straight profit of £100,000 for just ticking the "yes" box.
As ever, this is a job for Land-Value-Tax-Man.

For a start, existing buildings would be used more efficiently so there's less need for new construction.

Councils can also be more generous with the right to extend. Every time a home is extended (or improved), the average rental value of all homes in that area goes up ever so slightly, so everybody's LVT goes up slightly. The first ones to extend (or improve) are getting a good deal, because they are only paying for a small fraction of the extra rental value.

When enough people have extended (or improved), the last few who haven't might as well extend (or improve) as well (or sell on to somebody who will) to catch up - there is no point paying for something (i.e. the market value of planning permission i.e. the LVT bill as if they had done an extension or improved) which you aren't using.

This is a very gradual thing, but it sorts itself out in line with market forces. If it's a low demand area, few will extend so there's not much impact, LVT bills don't go up and not much gets extended. Even if the council in a low demand area gave everybody permission to extend by two-storeys, very few would bother - it would be cheaper to just move to a bigger house. In high value areas, it will be a more rapid race to the top.

Wednesday 17 February 2021

"My confusion and anger ended when our host showed me the real physics"

I did a bit of light trolling at Science of Doom and elicited this response:

You are confusing several topics.

No I'm not. They are confusing the issue, as he later confirms:

Elsewhere I have discussed why it is simplest to consider the steady-state balance or imbalance at the TOA [top of atmosphere]. An imbalance at the TOA is created by rising GHGs slowing down the rate of radiative cooling to space. DLR is an internal radiation flux that moves heat WITHIN our climate system and therefore isn’t important to the radiative imbalance at the TOA. A “rising effective emitting layer" is important to the balance at the TOA.

Since AGW is a very complicated subject, it is often explained with a variety of models paradigms including: Increasing DLR “warms” the surface, CO2 “traps” heat, CO2 acts as a blanket or insulation, GHG’s act as shell or layer around the Earth (Willis promotes a “Steel Greenhouse” Model) and a “rising effective emitting layer” model (promoted here and by Linden among others). IMO – and others probably do disagree – all of these models are flawed.

Which was exactly my point. Notice how he first says that the "'effective emitting layer' is important" and then says that the "'rising effective emitting layer' model [is] flawed". I have spent a year wading through these endless layers of crap:

When I first came here (on the advice of Steve McIntyre), I was continuously frustrated and intemperate, because I KNEW that doubling CO2 would double the number of photons emitted by CO2 and usually halve the distance they traveled between emission and absorption. I couldn’t see why doubling CO2 would change anything – which turns out to be an excellent first approximation to the truth. The reduction in radiative cooling [to] space from 2XCO2 is barely more than a 1% change despite doubling the emission of photons by CO2. (As best I can tell, the rising effective emitting layer model doesn’t take into account the doubled emission of photons by doubled CO2.)

Luckily, Salvation is at hand for those Who Know And Want To Believe:

My confusion and anger ended when our host stopped talking about models and paradigms for AGW and showed me the real physics: Schwarzschild’s equation for radiation transfer. This is the equation that climate scientist use to predict that a doubling of CO2 will slow radiative cooling to space by about 3.5 W/m2. Unfortunately, this equation is a differential equation that must be numerically integrated over the path radiation takes, and therefore may or may not be meaningful to you...

I do not pretend to understand this equation numerically, but the gist of is what common sense would tell us: some gases are better 'insulators' against radiation than others, in the same way that some gases are better for thermal insulation than others, so radiation (or thermal energy) comes out of one side more slowly than went in on the other - but it still gets through in the end. Wow, big deal.
Basic physics tells us that everything can radiate (we are told hat N2 and O2 can't, let's just accept that) and that the temperature of the atmosphere falls with increasing altitude (because of the gravity-induced lapse rate). Therefore, stuff which is higher up will be radiating less than the surface. Outgoing radiation is about one-third from the warmer surface and two-thirds from cooler clouds (which themselves have only about 75% emissivity) and if you average those out, you get the same answer as what is actually observed, which is what is needed to keep the atmosphere at a steady-state temperature.

PS, the figure of 3.5 W/m2 (which he himself dismisses as "barely more than a 1% change") is a key part of the Alarmist belief system. This was originally derived by simply assuming that warming over an arbitrarily chosen time period was directly caused by changes in CO2 levels. They later reverse engineered the answer they wanted from an equation not necessarily designed for this purpose. Even if correct, that equates to a surface temperature which is about 0.7 degrees warmer for every doubling of CO2. Again, big deal. (This is of course wholly at odds with Al Gore's claim that temperatures rise by about 1 degree for every 5% extra CO2, not that he ever retracted it or that the Alarmists even notice the discrepancy - if Al Gore's chart had been a good predictor, then temperatures would be about 10 degrees warmer than they actually are.)

Tuesday 16 February 2021

"Why did COVID fail to take off in India and has now collapsed?"

A good article in The Daily Mail (whose covid-19 related reporting has been very good):

Scientists are baffled by the relatively low rate of coronavirus infections in India after at one point it looked as though it might surpass the US as the country with the biggest case toll.

Infections began to plummet in September, and now the country is reporting about 11,000 new cases a day, compared to a peak of nearly 100,000, leaving experts perplexed.

They have suggested many possible explanations for the sudden drop, seen in almost every region, including that some areas of the country may have reached herd immunity or that Indians may have some preexisting protection from the virus.

I had noticed that, and I am as baffled as they are. As the charts in the article show, India had a steady increases in cases/deaths for a few months, followed by an equally steady decline. Peak daily deaths were no higher in India than in the UK, even though India's population is twenty times as large. There was no exponential growth or fall, it's a straight line up and a straight line back down.

Brazil had been following a similar straight up and down path to India until late last year, when they were hit by a second wave and/or the Brazil variant. But India is approx. one-fifth of the world population, so you've expect there to have been a far few new variants there as well.

Answers on a postcard, your guess is as good as mine.

Something else that baffles me is that the lockdowns/easing don't seem to have had any discernible impact on daily UK cases/deaths. The easing of the first lockdown in July (in the middle of a gloriously warm summer) had no discernible impact - there was no sudden increase. Numbers didn't start ticking up until two months later (when it started getting cold).

They peaked and started falling again just before the December lockdown, and they peaked again two months after that. In other words, the number of infections continued going up for nearly two months after the lockdown started. Of course we'll never know what would have happened without lockdowns, but hey.
Also, well said Mr Z. From the BBC:

Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi said that it's his "very strong instinct... to say, those who through no fault of their own other than their work, have to come into contact with the virus, should be prioritised". He listed shopkeepers, teachers and police officers as those who might be prioritised next.

Yup, give the teachers a jab and let's get the kids back to school ASAP. I trust that bus drivers are also in his list.

Sunday 14 February 2021

"The Amazing Case of 'Back Radiation' – Part Three"

I dipped back into Science of Doom again for a giggle and ended up at this fine article, it's the third article in a series which is basically a long list of things which are undisputed. The series builds up to this:

Wavelength Dependence on the Temperature of the Source

Of course, radiation from different temperature sources do have significant differences – in aggregate. What most, or all, believers in the imaginary second law of thermodynamics haven’t appreciated is how similar different temperature Planck curves can be:

Notice the similarity between the 10°C and the -10°C radiation curves. Alert readers who have pieced together these basics will already be able to see why the imaginary second law is not the real second law. If a 0°C surface can absorb radiation from 10°C radiation, it must be able to absorb radiation from -10°C radiation. And yet this would violate the imaginary second law of thermodynamics...


[Downward longwave radiation] is emitted by the atmosphere, reaches the surface and is absorbed by the surface. This absorption of energy changes the surface temperature. The physics behind this are [sic] very basic and have been known for around 100 years. Proving that the surface doesn’t absorb DLR should be a walk in the park for anyone with a small amount of cash. But only if it’s true.

Say what now?

Let's assume the ground is zero degrees C. Case A: air from the south wafts in which is +10 C. We'd expect the ground to warm up a bit (and the air to cool a bit). Case B: air from Siberia wafts in which is -10C. A sane and rational person would expect the ground to cool further (and the air to be a bit less cold), but apparently, the ground will warm up almost as much as if the air were +10C rather than -10C. This would to energy appearing out of nowhere (because the air is also getting less cold) and so is clearly impossible.

And I'm not aware that the Second Law says that objects can't absorb radiation from cooler objects. That is a red herring and neither here nor there - if the warmer object is emitting more than it is absorbing, it is cooling down. What the 'Law' says, among many other things, is that heat goes from warm objects to cold objects. Whether that is due to conduction or radiation or anything else is a secondary issue. The word "radiation" only appears once in the very lengthy Wiki article (and once again in the footnotes). Rather conveniently for the forces of common sense and reason, it's in the following sentence:

The second law is concerned with the direction of natural processes. It asserts that a natural process runs only in one sense, and is not reversible. For example, when a path for conduction and radiation is made available, heat always flows spontaneously from a hotter to a colder body.

They seem to be trying to convince themselves of something that in their hearts they know is not true.
The Alarmists sometimes use the warming effect of clouds, which is noticeable at night, as evidence to support this nonsense.

That is a different effect. The clouds are emitting their own 'colder' radiation (which has no effect), and also reflecting 'warmer' radiation emitted by the surface back to the surface (which does have an effect), at exactly the same 'warm' frequencies (colours don't change when reflected in a mirror) which the surface absorbs, reducing the net energy radiated away by the surface, thus warming it up (or at least, slows down the cooling process).

Even if you go with the Alarmist theory, if clouds reflect 60% of radiation at all frequencies, this makes it (say) 5 degrees warmer. CO2 can't re-emit downwards more than half of one-tenth of frequencies of radiation, so pro rata, that means about 0.42 degrees of warming and it can never be more than this, no matter how much CO2 there is.

Furthermore, if we are dabbling in crude radiation calculations, CO2 emits at 14 - 16 microns. Using Wien's Displacement Law, this is the peak radiation emitted by a blackbody which is only about 200K, i.e. about negative 70 degrees C. Which sure as heck can't warm the surface, that's just not happening.

Saturday 13 February 2021

Gloriously missing the point.

From the BBC:

Vaccines and treatments could mean that - by the end of the year - Covid-19 is an illness we can live with "like we do flu", the health secretary has said. Matt Hancock told the Daily Telegraph he hoped new drugs by the end of 2021 could make Covid a "treatable disease". The drugs - and vaccines - represent "our way out to freedom", he said.

This appears to be the majority opinion nowadays and nothing controversial. Can't fault him for saying it out loud. But...

Dr Sarah Pitt, a virologist at the University of Brighton, told the BBC: "It's not a type of flu. It's not the same sort of virus. It doesn't cause the same sort of disease, it's very, very nasty."

Duh. Of course it's not a type of 'flu or the same virus, he didn't say anything of the sort. Industrial accidents aren't like car crashes. A fight outside a pub is not like a climbing accident. Heart attacks are not like cancer. His point was that we have to accept a certain level of injury, hospitalisation and death. We focus our efforts on reducing those risks which are easiest/cheapest to reduce, but there's a cost-benefit analysis and there are residual risks that would be too difficult/expensive to reduce any further. And yes, the disease can be "very, very nasty", but so can 'flu.
On a related matter, the UK seems to have really got its act together with these vaccinations. The 15 million in the four highest risk categories will have had, or at least been offered, their first jab within the next week or two.

What is not clear to me is what is the best thing to do next (and whether the government has even made up its mind):
a) Spend a month or two giving these people their second jab (and make everybody else in the next, lower risk categories wait for their first jab) or,
b) Let the people in the first four categories wait another few months for their second jab and offer people in the next categories their first jab?

It's a very finely balanced calculation and depends on all sorts of assumptions about probability, cost of outcomes and weightings. My gut feeling is that a) is better, just in case Pfizer are right and there shouldn't be more than 12 weeks between jabs. I suppose the question is, what is the likely total number of hospitalisations/deaths under either course of action (which I don't know, probably nobody knows)?

Friday 12 February 2021

Land Value Tax implementation - the easy way

Anytown District Council
1 High Street
Anytown AN1 1AA
xx January 202x

Mr & Mrs Smith
1 Acacia Avenue
Anytown AN2 4BQ

Dear Mr & Mrs Smith

Your Domestic Rates bill 202x-2y - property ref. XYZ1234
Following enactment of The Tax Simplification Act 202x, various taxes will be abolished and replaced with a single tax on land and buildings with effect 1 April 202x. The taxes which will be replaced include Council Tax, Stamp Duty Land Tax, Inheritance Tax and the TV licence fee (for full list see enclosed leaflet). These taxes were arbitrary; economically inefficient; prone to avoidance and evasion; and had high compliance and collection costs.

The new Domestic Rates will raise the same total revenues as the taxes it replaces in a fair and economically efficient way, with low collection and compliance costs. This will make budgeting and planning easier for government and households alike. Each household's share of the total taxes paid will be largely unchanged over the medium or longer term. Your local council's funding will be unaffected.

Valuation and assessment
Your property has been allocated to Band D (large terraced house or typical semi-detached house). According to data compiled by the Valuation Office Agency and HM Land Registry, the average gross rental value of all Band D homes in your assessment area (postcode sector AN2 4, see enclosed area plan) is £11,000 per annum. We have subtracted a general deduction of £4,000 for building and maintenance costs to arrive at a net rental value of £7,000 for Domestic Rates purposes. This is multiplied by the official rate of 25%, so your annual bill is £1,750. Please refer to the enclosed leaflet for details and worked examples.

Ways to pay
Please complete and return one of the enclosed forms within 30 days in the prepaid envelope provided:
* If you receive income subject to PAYE (salary or private pension), we recommend that you complete and return the attached 'PAYE details' form which will enable your employer or pension provider to deduct the amount due directly from your salary or pension in monthly instalments and pay it to HMRC.
* If you are not in receipt of a salary or a private pension and/or prefer to pay directly, please complete and return the enclosed 'Direct Debit' form.
* If you are over retirement age, you can apply for deferment using the enclosed 'Deferment' form.
* If you have suffered a recent change in circumstances and feel you are unable to pay (involuntary redundancy, divorce or death of a spouse), please complete and return the 'Hardship' form.

Failure to complete and return the appropriate form within 30 days may result in interest and penalties being charged.

Please contact us within 30 days by completing and returning the enclosed 'Appeal' form in the prepaid envelope if any of the following apply:
* you are not the owner of the above property (please pass a copy of this letter to your landlord or other owner).
* your property has been converted to flats or you otherwise believe that it does not belong in Band D.
* you believe that there are other reasons why the net rental value of your property is significantly less than £7,000 per annum.

Please keep a copy of the form for your own records. An unsuccessful appeal may result in your property being allocated to a higher Band. If you submit an 'Appeal' form, you must still also complete and return one of the payment forms.

If we do not receive an 'Appeal' form within 30 days, you will be deemed to have accepted that your property has been allocated to the correct Band and that you accept the assessment. This will be binding on you and any future owners of the property.

Yours faithfully

Ms Henrietta George
Director, Council Finance Department

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Cancel Culture

From the BBC, 4 February 2021:

US country star Morgan Wallen has been dropped by his record label, after a video emerged of him using a racial slur. Nashville's Big Loud Records said it had "made the decision to suspend Morgan Wallen's recording contract indefinitely" in light of the video. In the footage, reportedly filmed by a neighbour last weekend, the 27-year-old is seen saying goodbye to some friends and calling one of them the N-word.

He has apologised for the incident. "I'm embarrassed and sorry, I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologise for using the word. I promise to do better."

Top contrition there. These apologies have become so formulaic and convoluted as to be meaningless.

However, the industry's response to his use of a racial slur has been swift and decisive. Within 24 hours of TMZ publishing its video, Wallen's music was pulled from the airwaves by iHeartMedia, the largest radio station group in the US, which owns more than 850 stations, including 135 country music stations. Other major networks, including Cumulus Media and Entercom, have also removed his music from their playlists... Broadcaster Country Music Television also distanced itself from the star... And the Academy of Country Music said it was revoking Wallen's "potential involvement and eligibility" for this year's ACM Awards.

So, they've made every effort to shut down his career*. Yes, he was acting like a bit of a twat late at night (he's a pop star, he is supposed to act like a twat), but his friend has been silent in all this. I assume that he wasn't particularly offended, which is pretty relevant, if you ask me.
Also from the BBC:

An actress who was dropped from a play for posting alleged homophobic remarks online had not realised the character she was due to portray was a lesbian, an employment tribunal has heard. Seyi Omooba was due to play the lead character, Celie, in The Color Purple at Leicester's Curve Theatre in 2019...

At the time the show's producers wrote in a statement: "Following careful reflection it has been decided that Seyi will no longer be involved with the production."

Ms Omooba is suing the Leicester Theatre Trust and her agents Michael Garrett Associates Ltd (Global Artists) for around £128,000 over her sacking, on the grounds of religious discrimination and a breach of contract...

So, her Chistian beliefs aren't holding her back from suing for £128,000 in damages? How has she suffered a loss of £128,000? I'd like to see her substantiate that. Can actors sue if they fail an audition, which is what this amounts to (albeit retrospectively)?

I find myself agreeing with her QC (it's unusual for me to ever agree with anything either side's barrister says in such cases):

Representing the Leicester Theatre Trust, Tom Coghlin QC... added that the actor's stance constituted a "repudiatory breach of contract" and that her dismissal was therefore not "unwanted conduct... The role that she complains about being dismissed from is one that she would have refused to play in any event," he suggested. "Her choice was to resign or be dismissed and she chose to be dismissed."

Nailed it!

Ms Omooba is being represented by the legal arm of Christian Concern, an organisation co-founded by her father, pastor Ade Omooba MBE.

A 'special purpose vehicle', if there ever was one.

The group said the case "will expose the mechanisms of censorship at the heart of the theatre industry", adding that "any dissenting views against LGBT ideology, especially Christian beliefs, are currently incompatible with a theatrical career".

That goes with the territory, she must have known the rules when she decided to go into acting. That's the way the world is. That's like hoping to make it in Hollywood while being openly anti-semitic (not even Mel Gibson could pull off that one). Or hoping to become Pope if you are openly gay. Or a woman (maybe share can sue the Roman Catholic Church for that?). I expect that the show's producers would have reacted the same way had one of their cast made racist comments (and rightly so).
* Here's the sting in the tale:

From Billboard, 5 February 2021:

While Wallen's radio play eroded on Feb. 3, sales of his music swelled, according to preliminary reports to MRC Data. His catalog of albums and songs sold a combined 22,500 copies in the U.S. on Feb. 3 -- an increase of 339% compared to sales on Feb. 2 (5,000).

The music industry still hasn't learned the lesson of Street Fighting Man.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Sexy bagels!

Here's a flyer we received this morning. The front seems innocent enough:
That can't be said for the reverse:

Monday 8 February 2021

Land Value Tax in Baden-WĂĽrttemberg

I took part in an online talk/discussion about the introduction of Land Value Tax in B-W on Saturday, led by one of the hardcore Georgists driving it.

The whole process was as slow and painful as you can imagine. They set up an official lobby group in 2012 and spent years getting various existing organisations on board. They explained to the hard left "Die Linke" party that this would reduce inequality; they explained to the Green Party that it is a tax on use of natural resources; they told the NIMBY and nature preservation groups that this would discourage urban sprawl; they told the tenants' organisation that their landlords would bear the tax; they told the construction industry that it would not be a tax on development etc.

The background is that Germany has a very low level Council Tax called 'Grundsteuer'. The average bill per home is less than £400 a year. It's so low, there's not even a monthly instalment option, you just get a bill and you pay it, like you pay the gas bill or your home insurance. It has all the flaws of Council Tax. It bears little relation to the land value; there is no regional variation in final bills (so it's regresssive); it's based on valuations that are fifty years out of date, which is actually irrelevant as each local council can set its own tax rate (as a pro mille figure); proceeds are collected and spent locally etc.

For some reason, the German Constitutional Court (who have a say in these matters - they got rid of Wealth Tax because housing was taxed at lower rates than proper wealth, why not just include housing at market value, the same as everything else?) had decided that Grundsteuer was unconstitutional (not clear why) and the Federal Government had to come up with a fiscally neutral alternative. They came up with a complete fudge of a law that said each State can make up its own rules on some sort of replacement tax on land and buildings. So the lobby group fought hard for eight years, contacting endless politicians and attending hearings at federal, state and local level.

Some states went Home-Owner-Ist and have a flat rate per dwelling (more or less). Bavaria completely missed the point and decided that the tax should be a fixed amount of a few cents for each square metre of interior floor area. Some States base the tax on the total value (which is a step in the right direction, but makes valuations trickier and discourages development). Only in one state did they make any headway - B-W will introduce a low level LVT, payable by the owner/landlord in 2025. B-W is a very wealthy state in the south-west corner (Porsche and Mercedes are based there), which bizarrely enough is run by a Green-Conservative coalition. It had been solid majority Conservative for decades before that. Nordrhein-Westfalen is still prevaricating and could go either way. 

Inevitably, there was the usual Home-Owner-Ist bleating, even though the effective rate will be less than 5% of the site premium. Poor Widows in Mansions and so on. Which is weird, because the annual tax on a mansion near Stuttgart will only go up from £600 to £1,000 or something. People in flats in the periphery will see their annual bills go down from £500 to £300.

The presenter admitted that taken in isolation, the whole exercise had been pretty pointless and replacing Grundsteuer with an LVT of 5% would have precious little effect on anything. But at least they had their foot in the door. He said that it would be great if they could bump up the LVT and reduce VAT in tandem. (He explained that VAT rates are set nationally, so I'm not sure why he picked on VAT as the next on the hitlist).

I pointed out that the next tax to replace must be Grunderwerbsteuer, which is like Stamp Duty. It is a State-level tax (like SDLT in England and Northern Ireland; LBTT in Scotland and LTT in Wales). Each State can set its own flat rate (between 4% and 6.5%, no tiered rates as in the UK) and keeps its own revenues. That's pretty steep, and total revenues are slightly more than the total revenues from Grundsteuer (EUR 16 billion against EUR 13 billion). He agreed, and agreed that this would help get the construction industry on board, but that tax didn't appear to be next on his 'to replace' list (and wasn't up for debate anyway).

That's all really. It reinforced my view that the only way to persuade a government to replace taxes with LVT is via the ballot box. It doesn't matter if 95% of people hate the idea (rightly or wrongly) or simply don't understand the point. If you can get 5% of people voting for a Georgist party, the Big Two will adjust their policies to claw those votes back again. Which is another reason for a Georgist party to be doggedly centrist/apolitical. If it positions itself as hard left, the Tories won't care how many votes it gets; if it positions itself as neoliberal, the Labour party won't care.

Sunday 7 February 2021

Re: those experiments which purport to prove the Greenhouse Effect

Here's a typical example:

Can anybody see the 'glaring' error?

Agreed facts: the atmosphere is largely transparent to shortwave sunlight (wavelength less than 4 microns); the surface is warmed by shortwave sunlight; the surface emits longwave radiation (anything more than 4 microns).

Questionable claims: greenhouse gases reflect or reradiate 83% of this longwave back down to the surface; the surface receives twice as much 'back radiation' as it does actual sunlight (source). This is why the surface is 33 degrees higher than the 'effective temperature'. CO2 accounts for about one-fifth of this 'back radiation'*.

Does this experiment demonstrate back radiation or 'trapping'?


What we see in this experiment is the two hot lamps warming up the two bottles and the gas in them. That's the 'glaring' error. The lamps are emitting lots of radiation at at wavelengths 14 - 16 microns, which CO2 absorbs (but N2 and O2 can't), warming up the CO2 (see bullet point 1 here). There is nothing magical about this; leave a piece of aluminium and a piece of wood in bright sunlight, the aluminium will reach a higher temperature.

A much fairer experiment would be to have three large greenhouse frames (the larger the better) covered in very thin, clear polythene (which allows most radiation through in both directions) in a shaded area, so that the only radiation they receive is longwave from the ground and from the surrounding atmosphere (which is much less intense than the light emitted by a hot lamp). UPDATE, it would be good idea to pipe water under the floor to keep it at the same temperature as nearby areas which receive sunlight /UPDATE. After all, the claim is that CO2 traps or absorbs longwave radiation emitted by the ground and the surrounding atmosphere. You have one full of normal air; one full of CO2; and one full of argon (monatomic and definitely not a greenhouse gas, as defined) as a control experiment.

CO2 and argon have a similar mass per unit volume and both have much lower specific heat capacity than normal air (see bullet point 5 of previous link); they also both have similar thermal conductivity, much lower than normal air (i.e. they are better insulators). Put your aluminium and wood in a freezer and the aluminium will cool down faster as it is a better conductor/worse insulator.

I'd be surprised if the greenhouse full of CO2 reached a steady state temperature (after a few days, averaged over a 24-hour period) higher than that of the greenhouse with normal air. That would be like putting our aluminium and wood in a larder and noticing a few days later that they are different temperatures. And even if it did, we have the argon-filled greenhouse as a control. The chances are, it would be a similar temperature to the one with CO2 i.e. most of the differences can be explained by their lower specific heat capacity (they warm up and cool down faster) and their lower thermal conductivity and higher mass per unit volume (they cool down more slowly).

To the extent that the 100% CO2 greenhouse is slightly warmer than the one with normal air, you adjust for its other properties by comparing it with the temperature in the 100% argon greenhouse (see previous paragraph) to arrive at a much smaller (and possibly negative) figure which will be the result of radiation 'trapping'. If it's negative, then stop right there.

If it's positive, let's be generous to the Alarmists and assume a logarithmic relationship between CO2 levels and temperature. You divide that extra temperature difference by 11.3 (going from 415 ppm to one million ppm is to double concentrations just over 11 times) to estimate the likely increase in temperature if CO2 levels were double their 'pre-industrial' level, i.e. 0.06% instead of 0.03%, and then  deduct the 1 degree that has already happened (we have already gone from 0.03% to 0.04%). Then - assuming we still have a positive number - count the zeroes after the decimal place! (If you assume a linear relationship - which is what the Alarmists' charts actually show - you'd divide the change by 2,500 and then subtract 1 degree). For completeness, normal air is 1% argon by volume, i.e. there's 2,500 times as much argon as there is CO2.
Finally, I suppose you should repeat the experiment by setting up the greenhouses in the open, so that they also receive incoming sunlight during the day; that makes the downward adjustments more complicated because there will be a real greenhouse effect (no convection) but probably worth doing.
* The precise fraction is never made clear, but clearly it's enough to make a difference if the explanation is correct.

While it is quite true that the atmosphere is radiating back at the surface and you can measure it, the atmosphere is cooler than the surface (because of the gravity induced lapse rate. If CO2 really 'trapped' warmth, the lapse rate would be higher than expected from first principles. Venus' atmosphere is 95% CO2 and the lapse rate is exactly what you'd expect from first principles) and the net transfer of heat (whether by radiation or conduction) will always be from warm to cool, but that's an aside, and even this basic truth is 'hotly' disputed by Alarmists, so let's concede on that to keep the peace. You can't just add radiation from different sources either, but hey.

Write to your MP. Tell them Charles can't do this.

Email from Republic:

What's the problem?

The Duchy of Cornwall, which Prince Charles runs as his own private business, is exempt from lots of different laws. Either a law doesn't apply to the Duchy or the Duchy will face no consequences if they break the law.

Now the government is planning major reforms of leaseholder rights. The reforms will mean people who own their homes but not the land their home stands on will find it easier to buy the land, and will be better protected from unscrupulous land owners.

Unless you live on Duchy land.

Already Duchy tenants are excluded from the right to buy the freehold, which would give them ownership of the land under their home. In this country we're not all equal in the law, if your landlord is Prince Charles. These reforms are an opportunity to put that right, but Charles is already lobbying to get exempted from the new reforms.

Write to your MP today!

Please write to your MP by visiting Tell them Charles can't be allowed to get away with demanding more exemptions from the law. Even if your MP is a staunch royalist, they might agree with you on this point. Even if they don't, we need to make them aware of the strength of public opinion on this issue.

Your emails to your MP make a difference. So please, get writing!

Best wishes

Graham Smith
CEO, Republic

UPDATE, from the BBC:

The Queen was shown legislation which may have forced her to reveal her private finances in the 1970s "by convention", Buckingham Palace says. Papers published by the Guardian suggest the monarch's personal lawyers successfully lobbied to change a draft law to conceal her wealth.

Wednesday 3 February 2021

HMRC twattery

I posted an application on paper to HMRC five months ago.

Today they sent an email saying that that particular department no longer accepts paper applications, asking me to send 'electronic copies' by email instead.

They had lovingly scanned every page of my original application and attached that to their email.

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Why the gravito-thermal explanation trumps the 'greenhouse effect'

UPDATE May 2021. I've boiled this all down to a simple explanation based on common sense, basic maths and a rudimentary knowledge of the Gas Laws.

Please read my post Acceleration ≈ Gravity
From Forbes, replying to the question "If Heat Rises, Why Is It So Cold In The Mountains?":

Gas also get cooler as its pressure drops, which it does as it rises up where there is less air pressing down on it. So when warm air rises, it cools off. That’s pretty significant here.

This paragraph over-simplifies to the point of being totally wrong. The effect of reducing density by half and pressure by three-quarters (i.e. at 10 km up) would be to cool some air which has risen from the ground to about negative 100 C (if I understand this correctly). Actually it's a balmy negative 50 C up there.

What actually happens is sunlight hits the ground and warms it up; this warms the air; warmer air is less dense so it rises; energy cannot be created or destroyed, so thermal energy is converted to potential energy. That's how the lapse rate formula is derived, then you adjust it for latent heat of evaporation/condensation = 6.5 degrees per km altitude. You work out temperature first, and (lower) pressure and density are derived from that. Moving on...

But there’s an even more important force at work: Earth radiates heat (infrared light) into space. Down near sea level, heat from the sun hits the ground and is trapped under 100 km (at least) of insulating air and clouds that intercept escaping heat and re-radiate it back toward the ground. The higher up you go, however, the less any of this can happen. Above a certain level, the atmosphere loses heat to space faster than is can be warmed either directly (by sunlight) or indirectly (from the ground) so it gets colder and colder.

Up to a point.

Air, being mainly NO2 and O2 doesn't emit much radiation. Neither does CO2, for that matter, it just absorbs 5.14% of infra red and warms up slightly and then warms up the 2,499 other molecules around it (see footnote). The first assumption must that the atmosphere would warm to the same temperature as the surface. If you assume no atmosphere (like on the Moon), you can calculate the likely temperature of the surface quite easily and accurately, based purely on incoming sunlight = effective temperature +/- adjustments.

So our first assumption is that earth's atmosphere would be 255K (the effective temperature of Earth's surface based on incoming sunlight alone). And its average temperature is indeed about 255K, but then you have to adjust for the lapse rate, so it's 33 degrees warmer at the surface - and 33 degrees colder at the top of the troposphere, approx. 10 km up.

The final sentence ("Up to a point") is a nod to the fact that the greenhouse effect does NOT explain why it is so cold on very high mountains. If you look at the temperatures at the top of mountains which halfway up the troposphere (5km to 6km height), the temperature is what you'd expect based on incoming sunlight alone, you can cheerfully ignore all the air above it, of which there is still a heck of a lot (nearly half by mass). If the greenhouse effect existed, it would be warmer than that. No evidence of greenhouse effect.

But let's climb further, to the top of Mount Everest, near the top of the troposphere. Its effective and actual temperature would also be 255K (assuming no atmosphere) but its actual temperature is a darn sight colder than that. According to the greenhouse 'trapping' effect, its temperature would be at least 255K, plus a smidge for the greenhouse effect of the small amount of air above it (about 25% by mass). In actual fact, there appears to be a negative greenhouse effect. Which can't exist, by definition.
Footnote - first the article says radiation energy is 'trapped' (plausible) and then they say it is re-radiated. Which one is it? It can't be both.

The Alarmists like to do demonstrations where they fill a tube with CO2, place a heat source at one end and measure the amount of radiation that gets through to the other end - it's very little, which indicates 'trapping'. If it were re-radiating, then at least half would get through. So 'trapping' seems more plausible and CO2 absorbs 5.14% of the radiation from the surface and warms up a smidge, that warms up the air around it by 1/2,500 of a smidge, which is a small number, certainly less than one degree. And the gravito-thermal effect greatly outweighs this at the top of Mount Everest.

Then there's this: "Above a certain level, the atmosphere loses heat to space faster than is can be warmed either directly (by sunlight) or indirectly (from the ground) so it gets colder and colder."

Nope. The atmosphere doesn't lose thermal energy to space (and it can't lose it faster than it receives it). The only way it could cool down is to emit radiation, which it doesn't (to any great extent). The point is, the air up there was never that warm in the first place - see explanation of lapse rate.