Saturday 31 July 2021

Strange claim to fame.

Eris is the "second-largest known dwarf planet in the Solar System".

Friday 30 July 2021

Clouds and climate lies

As we hopefully all know by now, the claim that Earth's temperature is higher than it 'should' be is based on sleight of hand - they use two quite distinct definitions of 'surface' and flip back and forth between them depending on what point they are trying to make.

Definition A is 'the surface you can see from space', which is largely the upper surface of clouds and some land/ocean that is not below clouds. Definition B is the land/ocean surface (ignoring clouds).

B is at a lower altitude than A, and hence B is warmer than A because of the gravito-thermal effect. The Alarmists pretend that A and B are inter-changeable, compare the expected temperature of A with the actual temperature of B and then say the reason is 'heat trapping gases'. They might as well blame it on The Seventh Curse of Zog; if you compare the expected and actual temperature of A, there isn't any definite difference and nothing needs to be explained.
The problem with basing a theory on what is basically a Big Fat Lie is that you have to keep making up more lies to explain other phenomena.

From NASA's brainwashing for kids site:

So clouds can have both a cooling effect and a warming effect. When it comes to Earth’s climate, do clouds warm more than they cool, or is it the other way around? Well, that depends on where the clouds are in Earth’s atmosphere. [Actually, this is nonsense. The surprising conclusion is that clouds warm things up overall. But that's for a future post.]

Clouds within a mile or so of Earth’s surface tend to cool more than they warm. These low, thicker clouds mostly reflect the Sun’s heat. This cools Earth’s surface.

Clouds high up in the atmosphere have the opposite effect: They tend to warm Earth more than they cool. High, thin clouds trap some of the Sun’s heat. This warms Earth’s surface.

The observation that it's warmer under high clouds than under low clouds is broadly correct, but the explanation ("trapping the Sun's heat", FFS) is hokum. Two otherwise similar clouds (comparing 'low thick clouds' with 'high thin clouds' is another diagonal comparison) at different altitudes will reflect and absorb the same amount of sunlight and reflect and absorb the same amount of IR from Earth's surface, full stop. Or, comparing like-with-like, thin clouds reflect less sunlight than thick clouds but also reflect less IR from the land/oceans than thick clouds.

They also completely fudged the picture, the Sun is not 'a bit higher than the highest cloud' and can't sneak through the gap. To all intents and purposes, the Sun's rays are parallel. If you redraw the picture with parallel rays arriving directly from above, this would be obvious.

The correct explanation is far simpler and more coherent:

Clouds are primarily warmed by the sun from above!
There, easy. Once you accept that obvious statements, the rest follows.
* The temperature the clouds (are trying to) reach is the same, regardless of altitude (they are getting the same amount of sunlight).
* As a separate issue, the temperature below the clouds rises with decreasing altitude, at (say) 6.5 degrees per km (gravito-thermal effect).
* So the land/ocean surface below the high clouds is warmer.
* It's like two people who walk at the same speed, but one of them (the higher cloud) sets off earlier (higher up) and gets further (warmer) by a given end-time (the surface).
Here's a very simplified diagram to illustrate the point. 255K is the 'effective temperature' of Earth and its clouds - the sunlight hits the clouds first, so 255K is close to the actual temperature of clouds:
i. The effect is quite noticeable. We were on holiday in Yorkshire last weekend and there was more or less constant 100% cloud cover. When the clouds were high up, it was very warm down below; when they were lower, it was cooler. (As an aside, this explains the stupid high temperatures on the hard surface of Venus - their cloud cover is about 70 km up!)
ii. This also neatly explains why it's colder than 255K at higher altitudes. According to Alarmist theory everything must be at least that warm. The top of Everest gets sunshine, there's little cloud cover and there is still plenty of CO2 in the air above it. But it's colder than 255 K, not warmer. ----------------------------------------------
I realise that there is a lot more to all this; I am just addressing the narrow point about high clouds v low clouds.

Tuesday 27 July 2021

Zoom G5n vs Boss ME-80 guitar multi-effects comparison

This will be probably of no interest to my regular readers, but just in case anybody Googles this looking for a comparison, the Zoom is infinitely better than the Boss. I bought the Boss first (about £250) and was not happy with it, so I then bought a Zoom (also about £250) and that thing is a joy.

The Zoom distortions and amp simulators sound awesome, unlike the Boss ones which simply aren't very good at all. The other effects are probably not that much different, all in all a bit better on the Zoom (although there are too many of them).

The Zoom is also easier to use (you don't really need the manual), it has far more user defined patches, you can see what you've saved etc. Sure, I have a couple of niggles with the Zoom (like scrolling through hundreds of options by hand with no 'fast forward' button), nothing is perfect, but there is no question about which one to buy.

Wednesday 21 July 2021

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (488)

Somebody emailed his KLNs to the Labour Land Campaign:

1. A couple of teachers save up for 10 years and buy a flat in London for £400k, with £300k mortgage. They want to live in it for 5 years and then move to a larger £600k property to start a family. LVT is introduced and within a year their flat is now worth £300k.

Although they have lost their deposit it doesn't matter because they are paying down the mortgage by £5k each year and also continue to save £10k per year. So after 5 years they have built up equity of £75k. The house they want to buy is now worth say £450k (rather than £600k).

So now they need a mortgage of £375k, whereas without LVT, they would have £175k equity so would need a mortgage of £425k. They are better off with LVT in place, as long as they can wait 5 years before buying. No need for compensation.

Agreed, but that was just his first example as background, here's the actual KLN:

2. The only people that might lose out significantly are those who bought within a year or two of the LVT coming in, on a 2-year mortgage deal, and get bumped onto a variable rate because they can't remortgage.

They might then no longer be able to save sufficiently to build up much equity at all within 5 years. And would be stuck in housing that is too small through no fault of their own. But most would eventually be able to save their way out of it.

My reply:

The whole negative equity thing is all a red herring.

"The only people that might lose out significantly are those who bought within a year or two of the LVT coming in"

Some points to note:

1. Trading up will still be cheaper and overall mortgage payments will be lower.
2. If LVT just replaces existing taxes on land and buildings (council tax, SDLT, inheritance tax) then their tax bill - and house prices - won't change much. They pay a bit more in LVT than they did Council Tax but save as much again in SDLT when trading up.
3. IF LVT goes further and replaces the really damaging taxes like VAT and National insurance, then they will be better off every year, so they can save up, pay off the mortgage, enjoy life a bit more, whatever.
4. If LVT goes further... then there's no reason to assume that house prices will fall much. The extra net disposable income (VAT and NIC take about one-third of your earnings) will largely go into rent and house prices, so it cancels out.
5. Even assuming house prices fall and some people are in nequity, don't forget that the principal mortgage amount is just a number.
Let's say you have a £100,000 mortgage @ 3% interest, 15 years left to pay.
That means annual payments £8,400 = total payments £126,000 over 15 years.
That's what the bank cares about - the £126,000.
So the bank just replaces the £100,000 @ 3% mortgage with (say) a £75,000 mortgage @ 7.4%. Or a £60,000 mortgage @ 11%.
All those mortgages have the same annual payments of £8,400 for 15 years.
Your payments don't change, you are unaffected (and have more disposable income) and there is no nequity any more.

No problem that I can see.

Friday 16 July 2021

Re plummeting vaccination rates - maybe it does make sense

I had been puzzled/disappointed by the rapid decline in daily vaccinations, from peak 600,000 down to less than 200,000 now.

Actually it does sort of make sense - if you overlay the charts for first and second jabs, offset by three months you get a good match.

In other words, at the end of March/early April they had run out over-50s to vaccinate, so they then shifted focus to second jabs, so we'd expect the number of second jabs (by definition, for the over-50s) to decline at the end June/early July. It's a shame they are not pressing on with younger age groups, but hey, they are less affected so less likely to bother getting a jab:

Thursday 15 July 2021

There's Life in the Internal Combustion Engine for years yet.

 The thing about ICE - petrol or diesel - is that they are an extremely ingenious way of of converting high energy density fuel into a rotary motion.  They are also very cheap to make and there is a whole infrastructure to support them.  They are also very light and nowadays relatively fuel efficient and clean burning.  Small turbo petrol engines are astonishing.  There are 1.2L capacity engines now used where in earlier times you's expect to see at least 2.0L .

If you want low fuel use efficient vehicles among your greatest enemies is weight.  The more weight you add the more weight you need to add.  Thusly by adding a one tonne battery pack to a vehicle you need to proportionally increase the strength of the structure, bigger brakes, heavier duty suspension and so on.  So all things being equal the lighter you make a vehicle the better.  This applies to all classes of vehicle and road vehicles.

So adding batteries to cars is a bit of blind alley because they are very heavy, have low energy density, very expensive (and as they use lots of rare minerals I very much doubt that they going to get cheaper), they take ages to re-charge (for which there is no infrastructure) and they have a limited life (a recent study said about 5 to 8 years / 80,000 kilometers - at which point the vehicle is effectively scrap value). 

An alternative to batteries is hydrogen fuel cells.  But these are also expensive to make and rather delicate.

Luckily along comes that Damn'd market thing. Given that we are being told (albeit erroneously) that CO2 is evil people have got beavering away - some of them in sheds (a very good thing - lots of good stuff comes out of sheds). And there are emerging some very likely superior to batteries ideas.

Exhibit 1.; (I have also heard that Jag is working on the same thing).

An ICE powered by hydrogen. Seems like a plan. The emissions, the by-product of combustion is water. As to infrastructure. You can imaging one of those roll on roll off container lorries delivering a contained of hydrogen very easily to an existing forecourt.

Exhibit 2. This outfit has a low revving (i.e. slow speed diesel) on the stocks which is clean.

Exhibit 3. - racing improving the breed.

Exhibit 4a.

Exhibit 4b.

Exhibit 5. I was speaking with someone who's son works in F1 as a power train engineer. One of the F1 teams is developing a two stroke petrol engine that revs to 24,000 (!) and is clean.

It's going to be easy to switch a petrol tank to an hydrogen tank (many people have already converted V8 Range Rovers to LPG) and crucially we can make LIGHT CARS (heavy cars being a particular hobby horse of mine). As long as the ecomentalist watermelons and the bonkers government can be nailed down the ICE is clearly not dead.


Throwing good taxpayers' money after bad

From Inside Housing:

The mayor’s ‘Right to Buy back’ initiative will provide money to enable local authorities and housing companies they own to acquire ex-council homes on the open market. Properties bought under the scheme, which must meet the Decent Homes Standard, would then be returned to social rent or used as temporary accommodation for homeless families...

The [Right to Buy] policy – which was reinvigorated in 2012 by David Cameron, with significant increases to the discounts offered to tenants – was intended to further homeownership. But research by Inside Housing has shown the extent to which that vision has been distorted, with as many as 40% of homes falling into the hands of private landlords

How stupid and corrupt are these people? Having committed the crime of selling it off at undervalue, they are now doubling up. Two wrongs don't make a right, they make it even wronger.

There is still plenty of publicly owned land in London on which they can build new council housing for a fraction of the cost of buying back ex-council housing. And who says it has to be in London? In the hey day of council house building, they used to build large estates aka 'new towns' a bit further out where the land is cheaper. Extend the rail network* to hook it up and Bob's your uncle.

Buying back ex-council housing doesn't even increase the amount of available housing, it just shuffles it between categories.

* Something they miserably failed to do for Thamesmead, that was an epic fail. The excuse is that it's difficult terrain. But they've built railways underneath the English Channel, above/along rivers and through mountains, for crying out loud, it can't be impossible.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Vaccine hesitancy etc.

'They' did a great job getting the vaccinations up and running in this country. When I say 'they', it is a heck of a lot of people. Think of the supply chain, from the people making the glass vials, the scientists brewing up and testing the stuff, the packaging, the lorry drivers, people running spreadsheets of what batches go where, renting (or requisitioning) suitable buildings and car parks, the nurses on rota, the car park attendants etc.

On the subject of batches, my first one was one of these. I actually vaguely remembered the batch number on the back of the card they gave me and recognised it straight away (funny how your memory works).

But they are now winding things up. The centre where Her Indoors and I got our jabs shut at the end of last week, and nationally, numbers are tailing off, from a peak average of 600,000 per day down to less than 200,000 now:

All of which puzzles me a bit, if they really want to open up on 19 July, they should be exhorting people to get their jabs ASAP. If they did a massive push and powered on at 600,000 jabs a day, we'd be up to 90% of adults double-jabbed within a month, which is probably as high as they are ever going to get. But they genuinely are leaving it up to people to decide for themselves and letting the whole thing grind to a halt.

With the benefit of hindsight, 'they' didn't actually put much pressure on people to get jabbed, it just sort of happened. If Covid-19 had happened under New Labour, they would have been prime time TV adverts, hoardings, leaflets etc. When they were in charge, each advertising break on telly used to have at least one item of government propaganda (eat your five a day, renew your tax credits, shop an illegal immigrant, give up smoking, whatever). It also wouldn't have been called Covid-19, obviously.

Final thoughts... in the UK (assuming Birmingham to be fairly representative of the UK), 'white' people and those in wealthier areas have a far higher uptake than non-white people (am I allowed to say that?) in poorer areas. Which makes no sense to me at all, the vaccines are 'free', for God's sake, and people in poorer areas are more likely to catch it and/or become seriously ill.

Conversely, in the USA, the split seems to be between Republican voters (low uptake) and Democrat voters (high uptake). Unlike the UK, that does make a bit more sense; Republican voters don't trust 'the government' and live in more rural areas; Democrat voters like bigger governments and tend to live in cities, where the infection risk is much higher because you are surrounded by people.

To sum up, there's nowt queer as folk.

Sunday 11 July 2021

"Remember the safety risks when managing cattle"

A personal injury lawyer offers some sage advice in Farmers' Weekly:

Three very different accidents, but with the same common cause, highlight the hazards and potential tragedies caused by cattle on British farms.

One of these involved water buffalo when, in May 2020, Ralph Jump, 57, who kept the animals at his Monmouthshire farm, entered the field to free the hay ring for his bull, after it became caught on an electric fence. He was attacked by the bull, and his 19-year-old son, Peter, who went to his aid, was also injured. Both men died.

In a second accident, Marian Clode was killed when on holiday in Northumberland. She and her family were walking on a public bridleway at the same time as the farmer was moving his cattle to winter pasture. A group of cows broke away and stampeded down the track. Mrs Clode was unable to get out of the way and was repeatedly hit, causing fatal injuries.

Giving evidence at the subsequent inquest, the farmer said he had been moving cattle for more than 40 years without incident. He conceded: “I think, with hindsight, we could all do things differently, but at the time I thought we had a good plan that reduced the risks.”

The third incident was in Northern Ireland, when 24-year-old Ian Beacom, working on his family farm, was crushed by a cow when he got into the cattle crush to administer medication. Although his spleen was ruptured in two places, prompt attention at hospital saved his life.

He said: “I was a bit too comfortable, which led me to do something I shouldn’t have done, which was get into the crush with the cow.”

These are not isolated incidents, as each year on average five people are killed in accidents involving cattle.

Rising to the bait.

Our regular troll posted his usual holier-than-thou gibberish re the 18-year boom-bust cycle:

... it's not clear, but must be a combo of many things, and maybe even things the rational and logical thinking weakling Christian finds hard to accept. For example, in ancient times the business cycle was governed by the Saros, an actual harmonic cycle of solar and lunar eclipses of about 18.6 years.

Now, here's the bit many struggle to even accept as a possibility, notwithstanding the many other possibilities they accept easily yet are no more certain: after many thousands of years of following the sun to determine the great resets, we no longer believe we do that right? But who's to say we still do, yet unconsciously, because otherwise it looks like mumbo jumbo to the enlightenment man?

I propose recessions are directly governed by natural forces fundamentally. We just find that hard to consider because like crazy fools we started to believe we are masters of the universe a few centuries ago as the loyal Christians, we still are.

I offer no explanation for why it is so close to 18 years, it *might* well be something to do with solar and lunar eclipses or some other "mumbo jumbo", so what? The point is that it is a) probably beyond our control but b) predictable. In the same way. most parts of the world have regular winter-summer cycles, we can't control those either but we can predict them and deal with them as best we can.

We deal with the winter-summer cycle by planting crops at the right time; having air-conditioning and central heating; having winter and summer clothing; changing the clocks to maximise daylight hours; stockpiling salt and grit during summer and autumn; etc.

It's the same with the 18-year cycle, we probably can't suppress it. But we can minimise the damage to the economy caused when land price/credit bubbles burst by suppressing them, ideally by taxing land values (and not taxing work and production) and if not, then at least by going back to Georgism Lite. There will still be recessions, but they will be shorter and milder, as they were under Georgism Lite.

That does not make us "masters of the universe", it just makes us masters of ourselves instead of being slaves to bankers and large landowners. It's just a sensible, practical measure, like not sowing spring wheat shortly before winter kicks in.

Friday 9 July 2021

ANPR cameras are beatable, maybe.

There are ANPR cameras on some roads that are connected to an LED screen which flashes up the number of the last vehicle that went past, like at the entrance to supermarket car parks. (I have no idea why, is it just supposed to act as a reminder that Big Brother Is Watching Us? But that's not the point of the story.)

I was stuck in some slow moving traffic recently, and I idly watched the numbers of the cars ahead flash up on the screen, until the screen flashed up the word "MORRISONS".

That's not a registration plate, is it, I thought? Then I noticed a large van, a car or two ahead of me, emblazoned with the company name/logo "MORRISONS" (a local business, not the supermarket, again, that's not the point of the story), so I assume that the camera just reads the first thing it recognises as text, flashes it up and then waits for the next vehicle.

So I suppose what you could do is write something in large capital letters (I assume they are not programmed to recognise lower case) across the front of your boot ("FUCK ANPR" springs to mind) and then enjoy watching that message flash up on all these screens as you drive past.

Thursday 8 July 2021

More Utter Bollocks


 I quote:

These low interest rates aren’t mainly caused by central banks, they’re market prices set by fundamental global influences outside of anyone’s control. The most important is demographics: ageing populations and rapid growth in the developing world have created a huge pool of savings looking for safe assets that generate a steady income. That has driven up the price of those assets and so pushed down the annual income they provide for each unit of value. This powerful force isn’t going to change soon.

Total crap.  

The Central Banks control interest rates.  The money supply is controlled by Central Banks.  The 'fractional reserve' banking settlement is sanctioned and promoted by the government.  Subsidy policy, like housing benefit is policy set by the government.  And tax policy which broadly taxes production and under-taxes or downright subsidises land is set by the government.


Wednesday 7 July 2021

The Shit up with which I have to put.... owning and running a retail FS business.  Here

But, note we do not pay for this. You,our customers, pay.

Tuesday 6 July 2021

The 18-year house price cycle

Just for fun, using Nationwide's numbers for UK house prices adjusted for inflation.

The previous three troughs were 18 years apart, +/- six months. The previous two peaks were exactly 18 years apart. If this repeats, the peak average house price will be over £300,000 (adjusted for inflation) in mid-2025, and then it will all turn to shit again.

Land Value Tax would sort out this nonsense.

Sunday 4 July 2021

"Homelessness and the housing shortage"

If you Google/Bing those phrases, you end up with lots of statements like this (from Crisis):

A shortage of homes and high rents both cause homelessness.

Statements like this have always struck me as fatuous, based on the most tenuous of links. They have both got to do with 'housing' but that's about all.

For example, there are some people in the UK who have barely enough to cover the essentials, but do we exhort farmers, clothes manufacturers, power stations to produce more? Do we say that people can't cover the cost of essentials because food, clothes, power prices are too high?

And while superficially a housing shortage causes high rents, what about all the vacant and derelict housing? If rents were even higher, wouldn't the owners be motivated to get them done up and back on the market?

'Homelessness' clearly exists, it's a serious issue, but it is difficult to define and there are endless categories and degrees. Rough sleepers are clearly homeless; then there are people on welfare who have been evicted and are living in temporary accommodation; people who are couch surfing at friends' homes or who have moved back to their parents; tenants whose leases are about to expire who have to live with the stress of finding somewhere new sharpish; people sharing a flat who can't stand each other any more etc etc.

Where exactly do you draw the line and say which people are truly homeless and which ones are on the other side of an arbitrary line? What about a youngster who has run away from home? Maybe their parents are violent shits who have more or less thrown them out (I'd consider them truly homeless), but what if they ran away from reasonably nice parents just to teach them a lesson (voluntarily homeless)?

And there are also endless reasons why somebody is in the mess they are in. There are the Ds: drugs, divorce, debt, dole. Ex-military and people who grew up in foster homes or care homes often struggle. There's no point apportioning blame, there's a sliding scale between 'it's your own fault' and 'that was a string of really unlucky events'. Girlfriends chuck out their boyfriends, people lose their jobs, people run up rent arrears etc. And once you have no fixed address (somewhere to shower and put on clean clothes), it's difficult getting back into work to rustle up a rent deposit, get a fixed address etc in a vicious circle.

Given the infinite permutations of personal predicaments, does anybody really think that adding a few hundred thousand new dwellings every year would make a difference, or that all the 'homeless' would magically find somewhere to live if rents only came down by a few percent?

To sum up, these are social or personal issues and not really related to housing supply or rent levels at all. So the only solution is political i.e. build more social housing (always a good thing) for the hardship cases, regardless of their ability to pay.

Which would ameliorate things, but it's a moving target. If the council says that anybody who has been homeless (as defined) for more than a certain period gets bumped up the priority list, then wouldn't some people make themselves voluntarily homeless (as defined) for a period in order the jump the queue? That could lead to an apparent increase in the number of people who are officially homeless.

This is just something that has been bugging me for decades, all I can say is that the problem is huge and vague and that there are no easy answers (and I'm not offering any).