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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Environment

Sunday July 20 2014

As of right now, late afternoon, there is rain and wind outside my window, and not long ago there was thunder.  That’s in London SW1.  And yet over in St John’s Wood, there is a test match going on, and there is no mention of any weather getting in the way of things.

Oh, as if to prove me wrong, Nasser Hussain has just talked about how the rain is staying “east of Regent’s Park”, in other words travelling northwards from me.  North east and Lords would be getting a little bit of moisture some time around now.

It’s very tense, with England 62/1 and chasing just over three hundred, with an hour and a bit this evening and then all of tomorrow, weather permitting.  Ballance and Cook have put on fifty, with Cook batting like his life depends on it.  Which it does.  He won’t die if he gets out soon, but how well he does today and tomorrow could have a big impact on how he lives from now on.

NOT MUCH LATER: 80/4.  Cook just got out, for 22.  Ballance and Bell already gone.  England are not playing at all well at the moment.

Yesterday, someone emailed or tweeted Test Match Special, saying that the Notts captain, Chris Read, could be drafted in, to replace Cook as captain and Prior (who is now dropping catches) as wicketkeeper.  It may eventually come to that.  Continuity of selection is all very well, but what if the continuously selected team keeps on continuously losing?

See this earlier piece.

Saturday July 05 2014
Monday June 16 2014

Indeed:

image

Taken by?  No prizes for guessing who.  Country?  “Poland/Georgia”.  Date?  “Jan/Feb” of this year.  That’s what it said in the email.

Friday May 23 2014

I don’t like my mobile phone, because I don’t use it enough to justify the expense.  Only the map app is of any real use to me.  I rarely use either the phone itself (i.e. for phoning) or the camera.

Or rather, I did hate it, until I read this, at David Thompson’s blog, about how much power it takes to charge up a mobile phone, and therefore how much it enlarges the carbon footprint and hence the self-hatred of an agonised mobile-phone-using Guardian writer:

How terrible should I feel, and what can I do?

A helpful commenter, apparently, responded thus:

Telephone chargers use pathetic small quantities of energy.

Is that true?  I had been assuming that my mobile uses a formidable large quantity of energy whenever I recharge it, and hence a formidable large quantity of money.  Which is why I have been hating it.  All that juice, just for a map and about three calls a month.  But if my phone only uses a pathetic small quantity of energy, and hence only a pathetic small quantity of money, then I am happy about it again.  I may even get to like it.  It’s a Google Nexus 4, by the way.

So, how much does it cost (to hell with my carbon footprint – let the trees around whatever power station I use gulp that in for their breakfast) for me to power my phone from empty of power, to full?  Answers gratefully received in the comments.  Educated guesses welcome.

Incidentally, a pet hate of mine is when I ask someone, who knows something quite accurately (that I want to know) and far more accurately than I do but who nevertheless refuses to guess, because he can’t be as accurate as he would like to be.  (It’s almost always a he – only human males are regularly this socially obtuse and lacking in empathy.) How much does this cost?  Don’t know.  Guess!  No, can’t, don’t know.  Rough figure?  Less than a quarter of a pee?  Oh no, definitely more than that.  More than ten quid?  Oh no, less than that, obviously.  (Obviously to him, in other words.) Right, so you do have a rough idea.  So, what is this rough idea?  Five pee?  Five quid?  What?  What?!?!  You get the idea.

I am not calling you an idiot, unless you do have an educated rough idea of what it costs to power up a mobile phone like mine, but refuse to part with it on the grounds of your answer being too vague to satisfy you, in which case I definitely am calling you an idiot.  If you know but can’t be bothered with telling me, or if you know but you now don’t like my tone, well, I can’t say I’m happy about that, but I perfectly understand.

Thursday April 10 2014

In this:

image

Well, it won’t have taken you long.  But even so, impressive, I think.

The photograph is one of these.

I seem to recall that, in Total Recall (I wish), people’s homes were decorated not with static pictures, but with images that constantly changed.  We are definitely heading that way.

My computer screen now was amazingly cheap, and is by some distance the best one I’ve ever had, a trend that doesn’t look like stopping at all.  Michael J, I know, has two screens attached to his computer, rather than just the one like me.  That too is, I should imagine, a growing trend.  I might do that myself one day soon, if I ever get round to that remodel of my desk that I keep promising myself.  (At present it’s a total shambles, having been designed for one of those horrible pregnant out the back TV sets, and what is worse, one that I hated and immediately swapped for a better pregnant out the back TV, now long gone, of course.)

So, how long before the typical householder connects his computer to about a dozen different screens, scattered around his home.  I’ll never do this, because I have books.  Remember those.  Actually that isn’t very funny, because of course books still abound.  This is because, as Alex Singleton was saying to me only yesterday, the business of reading books off of electronic screens has yet to be perfected.  A few years back, screens to read books with were excellent, because they were built for that and nothing else.  But the arrival of the smartphone, tablet, phablet, thingy has actually caused book reading on the move to get worse, because there’s a trade-off now being made between reading perfectly, and thingy screen perfection.  What you want is a button on all those thingies, to switch to a perfect reading screen when you need that.

These thingies have got to the stage of being essential, but to put it mildly, they are not yet perfect.

An interesting moment will happen when screens are pretty much flawless at doing reproductions of great paintings.

Or to put all this another way, when people look back on our time, they’ll not be impressed with our screens, any more than I am impressed by the screens we had thirty years ago.

And with pictures of the quality of the one above, or of all the others in the set I found it in, being so abundantly available on the www, there’ll never be any shortage of stuff to show on all our screens.  And that’s not even to mention the ones we take ourselves.

Friday April 04 2014

A commenter on one of the climate skeptic blogs, I think at Bishop Hill, provided a link to this fascinating posting, at Coyote Blog.

The Coyote man combines three tendencies that he sees in global temperatures.  First, there is a warming process that has been going on since the Little Ice Age.  Second, there is a slight kink upwards in this graph, very slight, associated with recent CO2 increase.  Third, there is an oscillating wave, for some reason involving a couple of acronyms.  And the result is a graph that seems to fit the recent facts better than any other graph I’ve seen.  Certainly better than that idiot hockey stick.

If Coyote is right about all this, and he is in fact only semi-serious about it, then the global temperature will soon be seen to be inching downwards, until about 2030, at which point it will then turn back towards relatively rapid heating, again, along the lines of what happened from circa 1970 to circa 2000.  So, a few We Will Freeze years, followed by some more We Will Fry decades.

However, we’re talking tiny numbers here.  None of this is remotely describable as a catastrophe, even in the long run.

Coyote says he developed this stuff six years ago.  But I could find no link back to him actually saying this six years ago.  Pity.

Not for the first time, I find myself wishing that I could live another two hundred years rather than for about another twenty or probably less.  What will happen to global temperatures for the next century or so?  How will the politics of it all play out?  I’d love to live long enough to find out.  But, I won’t.

This started out as a jokey posting about climate science.  It ended up as yet another rumination on the process of getting old.  When you are young you are going to live indefinitely.  You will die, eventually.  But too long into the future for this event to be distinguishable for practical purposes from never.  Then, rather suddenly, that all changes.

I recently did another climate science posting at Samizdata.

Wednesday February 19 2014

There are some spectacular pictures now up at English Russia, taken from the air over the Russian Far East, i.e. Vladivostock and surrounding parts.

Here is a good one (scroll down at page 3 of the posting):

image

What’s good about that is that it shows how roads stop fires.  On the right, fire!  On the left, the other side of the road, no fire.

Other pictures in the set include several of two rather spectacular bridges in Vladivostock, of which this snap is my favourite (scroll down at page 2):

image

That is the bridge over the Golden Horn Bay.  The other and bigger Vladivostock bridge joins Vladivoskock to Russkiy Island.  See this Guardian reportThis map, if you reduce its size and go north a bit, shows where both the bridges are.

Monday February 03 2014

Here are an extraordinarily large number of photos of the Airbus A380, showing off at a Russian air show.

Here is one of my favourites, in the photoing-planes-from-above-and-yet-also-from-the-ground genre, that the A380 so likes to encourage, when showing off at air shows, the point being that for such a big airplane, this is a bit surprising:

image

I could be wrong, but somehow I don’t think a slogan like that – “Own the sky” - would be used in the primmer, prissier West, now so much more environmentally hesitant about jet airplanes.  Not environmentally hesitant enough to actually stop flying them and flying in them, you understand, but environmentally hesitant enough for everyone to pretend they feel bad about it.

I got a very similar shot of the A380 when it performed the same kind of dance routine at Farnborough, in the summer of 2010:

image

No mention of anyone owning the sky then, there.

Another difference you can see there - see planely, you might say - is the difference a better camera makes.  Happily my 2010 camera is not the one I use now, which is rather better.

Tuesday January 28 2014

In New York, when 432 Park Avenue has been built, the views from it, from 1271 feet up, will look like this.

And in London, lots more Big Things are in the pipeline.  In twenty years, someone is guessing that London will perhaps look like this:

image

The City of London is also known as the Square Mile, so I have cropped out the City with the automatic square tool in my photoshop clone.

The people who concocted this rather commonplace piece of visual extrapolation have assumed that there will be no outbursts of history to complicate the picture.  This may be wrong, but it makes a nice change from a few years back, when people were faking up pictures of London under thirty feet of sea water.  That kind of thing is not just not believed any more.  It is not even being thought about any more.  It never occurred to any of the people now spreading this story around, about London building lots of new towers, to mention Rising Sea Levels, Climate Chaos, etc. etc., blah blah blah.

This is often how big arguments are won and lost.  In silence.  The people talking tripe stop talking it.  And the people who have been explaining why the tripe is the tripe that it is, and have been in the habit of denouncing it in loud voices, no longer have any tripe to denounce.  So they also go quiet.

Tuesday December 24 2013

Even since Alex Singleton, earlier this year I think, turned my vague suspicion that my photos tend to lean to the right into a stone-cold certainty, I have been trying hard not to do this, to the point where I sometimes even see rightward leaning where none really exists.  I subjected yesterday’s photo, for instance, to a one degree leftward lean, but then reversed it.  It was, I believe I discovered, okay as was.

I have also been on the lookout for any other photographers guilty of this same sin.

Now, as a rule, I love the photos that Mick Hartley puts up at his blog, both by him (that one as of now being his own most recent one) and by others.  If I do not comment there much about these photos, well, that’s because putting “Hey nice photo” there, time after time, would get very boring.  But that’s what I typically think.

However, here are two snaps recently featured at Mick Hartley’s, of London and its bad air in former times, taken by Anthony Linck and Hans Wild, photographers for Life Magazine, no less, which both, to varying degrees (and especially the first one), seem to be suffering from, if I may so describe it, Micklethwait’s Disease.

I now feel much better.

Wednesday November 13 2013

… in among all the stuff that does not.

Foster’s flaccid Gherkin used to advertise erectile dysfunction treatment.  Personally, I don’t think the Gherkin looks like a penis, more like a vibrator.  Certainly not a gherkin.

And: Synthetic creature could “save nature” says Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg.  Has this woman never seen any horror movies?

Related: Will Jellyfish Take Over the World?

Tuesday October 29 2013

When I managed to get out onto my roof, I made several more afternoon visits to it.  But then I got up earlyn to take photos at dawn.  But it was quite cloudy, and since then I’ve been waiting for a morning that the weather forecasters were saying would be clear.  Tomorrow looks like it might be:

image

So, early night tonight, and early morning tomorrow morning.

They said it would blow a bit last night, and it did.  Now they say it will be bright tomorrow morning.  Should be.  But will the timing be right for me to see an actual sunrise?  That looks close.

I need to check, today, that they haven’t locked the door yet.

Monday October 28 2013

Quite often I start a BrianMicklethwaitDotCom posting, but when I’ve nearly finished it, I realise that it will do as a Samizdata posting.  This happened today, twice.

So instead, here is a link to a story, from April 2011, about Copenhagen’s Sperm Bike.  How did I miss this?  Probably because the site is called Treehugger, and peddles stuff about the need to screw up Western Civilisation because of the weather getting too hot if we don’t.

This is what the Sperm Bike looks like:

image

If you are wondering about how the steering works, I think this explains it.

Tuesday September 17 2013

In that earlier posting here about reflections in cars, I wrote about how the brain interprets, while a camera only sees.

I think this also explains a related phenomenon, which is that when I go out on one of my photo-expeditions, I often need time to appreciate which are the best photos I took.  When I look at all my photos from a day out as soon as I get home that evening, my memory of what I photoed is still, approximately speaking, fresh in my mind.  Which means that I cannot see the photos objectively.  I cannot separate the pictures I was trying to take from the pictures I actually took.

But later, as the memory of the trip fades, and all I have is the photos, and the memories those photos still manage to trigger, I am able to look at the photos as if I were looking at someone else’s photos.  And I can then see far more clearly which the best ones are.

So, for instance, on September 5th, I went on a pilgrimage to the Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, partly to see what the Thurrock Thameside Nature Park is, but mostly to try to check out the big cranes at the new London Gateway container port.  With luck I’d be able to see the cranes from the south end of the park, looking east north east downstream, and so it proved.  And, of course, I took a zillion photos,of the cranes and of everything else that caught my eye.

Of these photos, it is now clear to me that two of the best are the two below.

I took many photos of the cranes, of which this was the best, I now think.  And that despite me later having got somewhat nearer to them than I did when snapping this:

image

I think what I like about this photo is that the inevitable blurriness of the cranes, what with them being so far away and the zoom operating at its most zoomy, is offset by the not so blurry pylons nearer to us.  In almost all half decent photos, something in them is in sharp focus.  Not everything, just something.

And then later in the day, just when I thought all the excitement was over, I took a whole batch of photos like this, of the sky:

image

Of which that one is now my favourite.

I don’t think I’ve ever before managed to photo, quite as well as that, those lines of light that sometimes emanate from the sun when it is behind clouds.  The reason this worked so well on September 5th was that there were not only regular clouds, but also a general mistiness or cloudiness in the air, all of it, which picked up these lines and really emphasised them.  Not even I could fail to photo the results interestingly.

Earlier, that same general cloudiness and mistiness had made photoing the cranes rather harder, but all in all, I was very glad of it.

Monday September 16 2013

I like this, from The Pointman, one of my favourite commentators on the Great Climate Debate just now (very anti-CAGW):

That’s what I’ve come to think blogging is. Yes, you can muck around showing how slick or amusing you are but unless you’re genuinely trying to talk to one or two other human beings out there, who perhaps may only exist in your mind’s eye, you’re just adding a bit more volume to the background noise of the internet. You have to take the view that apart from them, nobody out there is listening, so you can talk freely and at your own pace.

To take that thought one step further, once you accept the very real possibility that you might well be talking into an empty void, you don’t really have to care from then on about how the viewpoint you’re expressing will be received and of course, how you choose to express it is your own business. It flows. You’re a free man.

I was tempted to put this on Samizdata, but I think it fits better here, don’t you?  Hello … Hello … Anyone there? … Oh well, just me then.  No worries.