Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
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- Daniel Hannan’s latest book(s?)
- The Kelpies of Falkirk
- A quota thought that (luckily for me) went nowhere
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Environment
… 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?
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:
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.
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:
If you are wondering about how the steering works, I think this explains it.
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:
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:
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.
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.
Does this photo tell us the direction the Great Climate Debate is going? I took it in Foyles, underneath the Royal Festival Hall, London, on September 2nd:
I put this up to entertain you, and also so that I can send a short email to Bishop Hill about it, rather than a long and annoying one. Because I’m guessing it might interest him.
The Bishop’s (as of now) latest posting concerns an article written by some academic CAGWers (CAGW = Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming), about how they can defeat their ever more annoying and persuasive “denier” enemies?
The answer to this conundrum is - you will never believe it - to be found in the realms of communication. Although Garud and his colleagues note that some observers think that communication is not enough, and point to such initiatives as the Climate Science Rapid Response Team (seriously!) that are already in place, they suggest that something called a ‘narrative approach’ might also be a part of the solution.
But that, as the Bishop well knows but Garud et al do not, is no solution to the problem the CAGWers have. The “narrative approach” is their problem. What the CAGWers have been doing is spinning a narrative and calling it science for the last quarter of a century and more, and now this narrative is unravelling, thanks to the efforts of people like Bishop Hill. This latest plan is for them to stop pretending that they aren’t doing this. That can’t work.
If the anti-CAGWers had relied on books like Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which is one of the books in the above photo, to carry the main weight of their arguments, they’d have been utterly crushed.
LATER: Bishop Hill has linked to this, and there are comments there too.
Yesterday was a grey and drizzly day, as was today come to that.
This didn’t look as good as it would have on a sunny day.:
That’s Barclays Bank, Kings Cross. I can’t help thinking that all that razzamatazz reflects rather badly on Barclays Bank, Kings Cross, even though Barclays Bank, Kings Cross, is not itself razzamatazzed.
This, on the other hand, is just what you want on a grey and drizzly day:
However, although you may want it, so (I fear) will tramps, and tramps always win such contests, don’t they? Whoever smells worse and looks scarier wins. So, unless you are yourself a tramp, this will be a no go area for you, as for me.
Just for now, however, no tramps, and here is how it looks when I point my camera upwards:
Very seventies. Very trashy. But, it keeps the drizzle off. I guess what’s happening here is that middle-aged architects, who were tiny tots in super-trendy seventies households with all the trappings of the time, are now powerful enough to be doing it again, in a vain attempt to recapture their lost youths.
This roof is between Westminster City Hall and that new office block with the crazy angled walls, in Victoria Street.
Regulars here know that I am an admirer of Britain’s short term weather forecasts. Britain’s Meteorological Office also has a disgustingly politicised long term weather forecasting department, whose prophecies I despise. But the short term forecasts are the real deal, based on real knowledge. Pretty much always, these short term forecasts are correct.
Me being a libertarian, I regret that the Met Office is funded out of taxation rather than with voluntary payments from customers. That it is now corrupted by the addition of that long term forecasting bit is a typical consequence of such compulsory funding, because compulsory funding has an inbuilt tendency to be grabbed hold of by people with dodgy agendas that wouldn’t pay for themselves by voluntary methods. It is upon the prestige generated by the short term weather forecasts that the politicised long term forecasts sail forth and do all their damage.
None of which alters the fact that the Met Office’s short term forecasts are, as of now, very good, and a big part of the way I now live.
But as a fan of cricket, as well as of short term weather forecasts, I can’t help noticing that cricket people don’t admire short term weather forecasts nearly as much as I do. I think this is because the only time when weather forecasts loom large for cricket players and cricket watchers is on rainy days, and most rainy days in England are not days of solid rain, but days with rain sometimes but not at other times, and in some places but not in other nearby places. Now that the top cricket grounds in England mostly have clever drainage systems, cricket can be played at them pretty much whenever it is not actually raining. But, when exactly will that be? “Sunny intervals, scattered showers.” That’s a typical weather forecast in these islands. But for how long, exactly, and where, exactly, will the sunny intervals be radiating their sunshine and the scattered showers be scattering their showers?
In England, the weather on a rainy day can be very local. I live a walk away from the Oval cricket ground, which is on the other side of the Thames from me. I have known many a nice day for me when the cricket was washed completely out at the Oval, and other days when they played, but would not have played at all had the weather been as I got it.
A day can be generally rainy, but whether any of the rain will fall, and for how long, on the particular cricket ground that the cricket world happens to be obsessing about that day is in the lap of the weather gods, and beyond the powers of the Met Office to be exact about.
So, cricket people tend not to admire weather forecasts, or to set much store by them.
The ODI on Thursday in Leeds was a total washout. I pretty much knew that it would be, because they were forecasting solid rain, which is actually quite rare in England. But even then, a little local break in the clouds might have meant a shortened game. They just had to wait and see, although by about lunchtime the game was up. That was a day when their deep distrust of forecasts got their hopes up needlessly. The spectators, I believe, stayed away in their thousands.
Today there is the second ODI between England and Australia in Manchester. Here is the BBC version of the weather forecast for that right now:
A chilly but bright start to the day in many areas, but with showers affecting some western areas. Showers becoming more widespread during the morning with some of these heavy. A cool day with generally light winds.
That tells me, and has actually been telling me for several days, that today in Manchester would probably not be that good day for one of my photo-wanders. I typically just want to know what kind of day it’s going to be, and that tells me. If I did venture out, I’d take a brolly and a good book, make an early start, and stay close to transport so I could get home quick if it later turned really bad. But the cricketers can’t tell from that whether they’ll get a game or not, because everything depends on exactly where the rain lands, and in what exact amounts. That forecast could mean anything from an almost total wash-out to a great day of cricket. I will be tuning in to see, but I don’t know what kind of game it will be, and neither does anyone else.
Looking for photos of the Chinese roof dwelling that I wrote about in the previous posting here, I found myself having a general wander around at something called Twisted Sifter, which I enjoyed and have not finished enjoying.
In particular, I looked for bridges. It is becoming harder to surprise or delight me with news of new bridges, because I seem to have seen pictures of most of the interesting recent ones. But this posting, about animal bridges around the world, gathered together bridges that I had not seen before.
This is typical of the kind of bridge they mean:
That one is in the Netherlands.
Interestingly, one of the photos in the collection is of a bridge whose location they do not know, and they ask for help.
Commenter Jimmy Haigh (May 30, 3:05 PM), on this at Bishop Hill:
He’s trying to sit on the fence and eat it too.
He is talking about the revolting Tim Yeo, who either has, or has not, changed his mind about Global Warming, depending on who you read. But either way, he continues to make lots of money out of it.
A fortnight ago today, I went to a wedding. The weather, just as the weather boffins had been prophesying throughout the previous week, was superb:
Click to get a bit of context.
1.1: The weather outside my front door.
1.2: The weather at Aldermaston Station, near where the wedding was to be, when I stepped out of the train.
1.3: The weather at the venue, when I first got there.
2.1: Ditto, this time with a view from the venue. Different view. Same superb weather.
2.2, 2.3: More water-based picturesqueness. 2.2: A cloud! Scary! The little square from 2.3 is a bit lighter than the others, because the photo (click) was mostly landscape, with only a tiny bit of sky, which caused the Automatic setting on my camera to make the sky lighter. The original version of the little square picture featured those sharp shadows, but I decided to stay abstract.
The Bride and Groom, the Groom especially (what with him being the fretter of that team) had been fretting for the last two months about what the weather would be like. Would it be horribly cold? No bother. As another guest said, they chose the first day of Summer.
I have many more wedding snaps to show you, but am doing them in separate postings which each make a few particular points, rather than as a huge and totally unwieldy posting that nobody, apart from the Groom, would have read. That way, I also get some of these postings done, as opposed to (maybe) none of them. That itself being a point.
British Summer Time began last Sunday, and I surely wasn’t the only Brit taken by surprise. According to our excellent and invariably accurate short range weather forecasters (the long range climate guessers are something else entirely), the current (bitterly) cold spell that we are enduring will only end around the middle of this month.
On April 20th, two friends of mine are to be married, hopefully in the warm outdoors, and I hope to be taking photos of it, in the warm outdoors. They hope, as do I, that the cold will soon abate. Fingers crossed. The weather is getting sunnier now, but is still amazingly cold. Coldest March Britain has had for over half a century, they are saying. It was several years ago now that they (i.e. the long range climate guessers) changed Global Warming to Climate Chaos. Wise move. Wiser would have been to shut the fuck up and let Western Civilisation (a) proceed without them fucking with it, and (b) deal with any climate dramas if and when.
Meanwhile, the cold has kept me from roaming London taking snaps during the last week or two. Instead I roam through my recent archives, looking for interesting snaps taken on warmer days.
Here are some more:
This time there are more of those commonplace things that look better in good photos, as I hope you think these somewhat are, than they do when you actually see them. That’s if you even do see them, as in notice them.
Besides which, a double decker bus advert may be pretty obvious stuff to a fellow Londoner. But what if you are one of those lost souls who lives outside London? Or worse, who has never even been to London? Or perhaps never even set eyes on a double decker bus? A double decker bus advert must seem, to such a person, almost unbearably exotic and glamorous.
Note, in the first picture, top left, reflections of these buildings.
One of the about seventy seven signs of aging is definitely being more sensitive to the weather, and in particular the cold. I remember feeling this way as a small child, when first compelled to travel every morning to school. Now, I feel it again. I actually “caught a chill” earlier this week, and had to take to my bed for a whole day.
However, I will soon be getting out from under the weather, if the next ten day weather forecast is anything to go by, which it is. As of today, it looked like that (see right).
Talking of short range weather forecasts, James Delingpole did a silly piece in the Daily Mail a while back, saying the Met Office is a total waste of space. But it is precisely because the Met Office’s short-range weather forecasts are generally so spot-on that its mad opinions about the weather in the more distant future are taken so seriously. If the short-range forecasts were as bad as so many unthinking idiots say, the Met Office wouldn’t be half such a menace on the C(atastrophic) A(nthropogenic) G(lobal) W(arming) front. This Delingpole article played right into the hands of CAGW-ers. Asked the News Statesman: Was there ANYTHING in James Delingpole’s Daily Mail piece which was true? Yes. The Met Office is bonkers about CAGW. But Delingpole’s attempts to prove that the Met Office never gets anything right were indeed ridiculous, and did the anti-CAGW team no favours at all.
But I digress. To more serious matters. There is another reason I am glad the weather is going to perk up soon, which is that rugby matches are far more entertaining when the weather is nicer.
The Six Nations began with what the commentators were all telling each other was one of the best Six Nations first weekends ever. All three games were full of tries. England won. Okay, only against Scotland, but they won, and actually Scotland are looking a bit better now, with some backs who can actually run fast. Ireland and Wales scored lots of tries against each other. Italy beat France. It doesn’t get much better for an England fan.
But then the weather turned nasty and the games turned attritional. England beat Ireland, but nobody scored any tries. England beat France, with one fortuitous England try which shouldn’t have been allowed. Italy reverted to being … Italy. The one truly entertaining thing about the next two weekends, after the entirely entertaining first weekend, is that now it’s England played 3 won 3 and France played 3 won ZERO! Arf arf. Sorry Antoine.
Talking of England v France, I’ve been reading (and watching the telly) about the 100 Years War. And it seems that towards the end, the French cheated by having guns. That explains a lot.
So anyway, no more 6N rugby until the weekend after next, and I really miss it, just as I did the weekend before last. The Six Nations takes seven weekends to get done, with weekends 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 being occupied with games, and weekends 3 and 5 being skipped. During weekends 3 and 5, I pine, and watch ancient rugby games, the way I never would normally, to fill the rugby gap.
The best ones I recently watched were two epic Wales wins against France, in 1999 (France 33 Wales 34) and 2001 (France 35 Wales 43), on VHS tapes. Sorry Antoine. But the next one I’ll be watching will be 2002 (Wales 33 France 37).
That’s the headline, but really, all that the cats are doing is killing off a few endangered bird species.
I guess people get so used to saying that something is both destroying the planet and meanwhile killing a few endangered species, that if all that it’s really doing is killing a few endangered species, it must also be destroying the planet.
Kitten blogging from Delingpole:
Among the report’s findings are that large scale industrial wind farms can:
Rescue drowning kittens from sacks in canals and lead them to secure, happy homes where they are well cared for in handcrafted wicker baskets with lovely, snuggly faux-sheepskin blankets for them to purr on and little saucers of organic Jersey cream designed by Cath Kidston.
Whoever she is. This, apparently.
The enviro-argument has reached an odd stage. Day after day, enviro-non-loonies like the increasingly contemptuous Delingpole pound away at enviro-looniness. Yet because the Cameron Government is a coalition, founded on a deal to do (among other daft things) enviro-looniness, the government just ignores all the complaints, merely cutting the sillier enviro-schemes by small amounts, but leaving the basic looniness to continue. Yet the public must be noticing. They are paying the mad energy bills. They, some of them, must be reading about all the corruption (YeoGummer, etc.). The entire Conservative Party is disgusted and in the mood to vote UKIP en masses. The top end of the Labour Party says nothing, because they believe in enviro-looniness also, yet their massed members must be disgusted by YeoGummer.
So, nobody is happy. The enviro-loonies aren’t getting as much public money as they had hoped for. Many of the rest of us still think they’re getting far too much.
It’s one of those situations where, as Instapundit would say, it if can’t last for ever, it won’t.
But maybe it will.
More enviro-blogging from Natalie, here.