Monday, January 31, 2011

Fun and games

The BBC, we are told, has fought off a High Court challenge from Monckton, who has been trying to prevent the broadcast of the "Meet The Climate Sceptics" documentary tonight.

Monckton had applied to Mr Justice Tugendhat for an injunction stopping the programme, on the basis that it had not included his right of reply. He said that he felt he had been "unreasonably treated and misled" and complained of breach of contract. He wanted the programme to include his 500 words or three minutes which, he said, was proportionate in the context of a 60-minute film almost exclusively about him.

Interestingly, Tugendhat in dismissed the application, seems to have agreed with the BBC that there was no contract between Monckton and the film makers that would entitle him to a right of reply. Although "dressed up" as a claim in contract, the real complaint was one of defamation.

It is fascinating that Monckton feels the need to go to court on this, and more so that the BBC and the film-makers sought to defend it. Under normal circumstances, a balanced film would afford those involved plenty of time to argue their case.

But this is climate change, and we are talking about the BBC. Dellers is right. It was always going to be a stitch-up, and we're not going to be disappointed. Already, The Guardian is sniggering that the sceptic cause is "possibly not aided by having as spokesman the hereditary peer Christopher Monckton, who recently needed to be told to stop referring to himself as a member of the House of Lords".

That is the level of "debate" to which we have become accustomed.


UK consumers are ripped off

A very useful piece here. What is not easy to discern, however, is why the regulator allows the energy companies to get away with what amounts to overcharging. The suspicion is that they are being allowed to build up a war chest to finance the greenery.

Either way, we are being seriously ripped off, and there is no one looking after the consumer interest.


Comment removed

How ironic it is that Booker should write his column on how the warmists abuse science, only to have a troll launch into the comments with a stream of abuse of Booker ... and myself.

Currently, well over 900 "comments" come from this one troll, aphasicfinder (click the link and "activity" on the toolbar), getting on for a half of the total on the board. This is classic troll abuse, a process that has acquired the label "bombing" and one which, on a well-managed website, would lead to the offender being banned.

But at last, the Disqus/Telegraph team has acted. It has deleted all my posts – every single one. All the hundreds posted on all the Booker columns have gone, most of them without trace. Only occasionally do they leave a forlorn "guest" tracer, with the notice "comment removed" (above). In true Soviet style, I have been "disappeared".

Needless to say, the troll's posts are still there and increasing in number by the hour (examples posted).  This is how the newspaper supports its own columnist and his researcher - with that sort of back-up you can really go places. Its idea of support is simply to allow the troll to take over the site. Its activities are untrammelled, its flow of abuse unchecked, spewing out its stuff with an apparent endorsement of the newspaper - and certainly with its permission.

Troll activity on The Telegraph has been a problem for some time. But with this latest inept move, the newspaper has gone so ludicrously off the rails that it is actually supporting the trolls which are disrupting its own sites, insulting its own people and its own readers.  No wonder it is a failing business.  Any organisation with that much contempt for its own customers deserves to fail.

So, when we see its pompous leaders in its newspapers, instructing us, the government and many others on how to run their affairs, we might recall that this is an organisation which cannot even manage its own webspace properly.


Stitched up in spades

Dellers on his last but one post kindly put up a generic link to this blog, so I pointed readers to the specific post to which he was referring. However, events have overtaken me, and he has now put up a further post, which does link directly to my original piece. The circle is now complete.

The latest effort by Dellers is to draw attention to another BBC stitch-up, which purportedly has filmmaker Rupert Murray "taking us on a journey into the heart of climate scepticism to examine the key arguments against man-made global warming" where he tries "to understand the people who are making them".

That comes from the promotional spiel and is patronising tosh. It goes, purportedly to ask: "Do they have the evidence that we are heating up the atmosphere or are they taking a grave risk with our future by dabbling in highly complicated science they don't fully understand? Where does the truth lie and how are we, the people, supposed to decide? "

It is patronising tosh, of course, because – as I explain in my own post – the tone and conclusion of every TV documentary is decided well in advance of its making, long before a camera team captures the first footage. No commissioning editor on this earth – and certainly not the BBC – is going to commit the £300,000 or so budget to an open-ended "journey of discovery". Before any contract is signed with the film-makers, the exact "line to take" has been spelled out and agreed. The job of the film-maker is to deliver it – no matter what it takes.

However, not only is the spiel tosh, it is patronising tosh, for it assumes we are gulled into believing this is an honest journeyman at work. The film features, we are told, Britain's pre-eminent sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton as he tours the world broadcasting his message to the public and politicians alike. "Can he convince them and Murray that there is nothing to worry about?"

The answer to that, inevitably, is "no". We know this without even seeing the programme, which is on tonight at 10 pm on the TV channel BBC Four. And how do we know this? Because many months ago, Rupert Murray was commissioned to make a film to deliver that answer. It is as simple as that.

With all the things going on in this world, and all the important events that assail us daily, one wonders why the BBC bothers - why it is so important to it that the "right" message on climate change is given and maintained.  And the answer here is that, currently,  the issue climate change underpins a world view to which the BBC subscribes, one which, in its terms, legitimises social intervention on a huge scale.

This is then, less about a low-grade, compliant little programme-maker, and more about power - the imposition of a particular world view, and the suppression by whatever means, of any alternative messages. This is serious stuff.


Record breakers

The Guardian, which occasionally has its uses, is telling us that Belgium could soon lay claim to being the holder of an award with the unwieldy name of "World Champion in Not Forming a Government".

Actually, the story was run on 26 January by Euronews, the same day as Deutsche Welle, but five days behind the curve on European matters is not bad for a British newspaper, and the rest don't seem to have done the story, except the Economist which doesn't really matter.

The Guardian treats the issue in a light-hearted manner, noting that Belgium has been in limbo since June, with coalition talks between the seven parties constantly breaking down. It tells us that the latest mediator, Johan Vande Lanotte, who was appointed by King Albert II, resigned last week, complaining that he couldn't even get all the parties around one table.

Then we get the punch line: if the politicians haven't sorted out their differences by 17 February, the paralysis will have lasted for 250 days, and the record will be in the bag.

Parties representing Belgium's two communities, the 6 million Dutch-speaking Flemings and 4.5 million French-speaking Walloons, have struggled to cooperate before. But Belgium surpassed its own national record when it hit 194 days in December and is well on its way to beating Iraq, which dithered for 249 days after the 2010 elections.

However, people – and particularly Belgians - are beginning to realise that the absence of a government isn't funny at all. Ratings agencies have warned they could downgrade Belgium's credit rating if it continues is this state and, conscious of the danger, and exasperated with their politicians, last week, more than 30,000 people marched through Brussels to demand that a government be formed.

So far, though, there seems to be absolutely no sign of the stalemate being broken, which means that the Belgians are soon going to be proud holders of a record that none of them actually want.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

She is out at last

She is out of the ice, we are told, ending the month-long operation in the Sea of Okhotsk. "The operation to rescue the Sodruzhestvo mother ship out of ice trap has been completed," Russia's Ministry of Transport said in a statement today.

A month after the ships were first reported as trapped in the ice – and after a day with no news on the Okhotsk Sea crisis - we earlier received a cautiously optimistic report from Voice of Russia that suggested that the last vessel, the factory ship Sodruzhestvo, was on its way out of the ice.

The report spoke of the icebreakers Admiral Makarov and the Krasin having led the 32,000-ton giant through "another ten miles of thick ice" and of the convoy "moving to clear waters". Only the Voice of Russia seemed to be reporting this, however, and even it was hedging its bets by saying that "experts" are predicting that the ships will break clear, rather than making direct assertions.

Interestingly, we are beginning to learn quite how exceptional this incident has been. The most recent episode that is anything like it happened last year when two identical 104-ton fishing vessels were trapped in the ice. This was in the Terpeniya bay off the southeastern coast of Sakhalin, though, and the stranding happened later in the season, on 11 January. On 19 January, a Mi-8 rescue helicopter evacuated 14 sailors and the boats were temporarily abandoned.

This was at a time when exceptionally cold conditions were being reported, and temperatures were dropping as low as minus -38°C during the nights. Later, an icebreaker was called in, which towed the vessels to Korsakov in southern Sakhalin, normally an ice-free port and a centre of the sea fishery.

There was also an incident reported on 22 January 2008, when emergency crews evacuated nine of the 14 sailors on board four ships which got trapped in ice in the Sea of Okhotsk on 18 January.

The four ships – a survey cutter, a fishing seiner and two barges attached to the vessels – had been heading for winter anchorage at the settlement of Adzhan, Khabarovsk region, but became stuck in the ice. The vessels were found 100 kilometers off the region’s coast the next day by an AN-74 aircraft and the rescued people were taken by Mi-8 helicopter to the town of Nikolayevsk-on-Amur.

Before that, it seems we must go back to 1965 when, according to one report, five Soviet ships were trapped by ice in the same region. Without icebreakers available, this report says, boats with their crews had to wait until June to be released. However, a contemporary report seems to suggest that the ships were accompanied by the icebreaker Lavarev (pictured - the name could be incorrect - it might be Lazarev), yet were still unable to break free.

There is also a report of 26 March 1952 in the New York Times (paywall) of a giant ice floe trapping a large Japanese fishing vessel and a rescue ship off northern Hokkaido within sight of Russian held Sakhalin Island.

To find another comparable incident, we have to go back to 27 December 1935 when the 2,000-ton freight and passenger vessel Lozovski was trapped in ice en route to Vladivostok, with ice pressure threatening to crush the hull.

Some passengers made the hazardous eight-mile trek to shore – although one passenger and a crewman disappeared - while others set up tents on the ice to await rescue. In a neat bit of historical symmetry, the icebreaker Krasin – the predecessor to the current ship – was sent to the rescue and itself was trapped 30 miles from the Lozovski. Both ships had run out of coal and were reported to be relying on oil stoves for heating.

At the time of the report, the rescue ship Uritski had been despatched from Valdivostok with fresh supplies, and was planning to use dynamite to make a breach through the ice to rescue the trapped ships. Now, more than 75 years later, the second icebreaker bearing the name Krasin has finally pulled off a feat, the like of which its predecessor had failed to do.


Simply reckless

An extremely good piece on energy policy in The Mail on Sunday: "The government is betting the farm on the throw of a die. What's happening now is simply reckless," it says.

There really is no point in me re-inventing the wheel and reviewing the piece in detail. Much of what is written has appeared on this blog in the past anyway. The real issue, I suppose, is to try and understand the mindset of the politicians – such as Cameron and Huhne – who keep this dangerous and corrupt system in place.

There is also a halfway decent article here from the Daily Failygraph. They are late to the table, but one needs to be charitable ... better late than never.

On the broader front, I am being increasing attracted to the idea of "psychic disease" – not mental disease, as such, but a corruption of the intellect which allows otherwise sane people to do dangerously stupid things. It seems to me that if we understand more of the pathology of this type of disease – especially in its epidemic form – then we might be better equipped to deal with it.


Back to the Nursery

The most telling moment came in an interview between Nurse and a computer-modelling scientist from NASA, presented as a general climate expert although he is only a specialist in ice studies.

Asked to quantify the relative contributions of CO2 to the atmosphere by human and natural causes, his seemingly devastating reply was that 7 Gigatons (billion tons) are emitted each year by human activity while only 1 Gigaton comes from natural sources such as the oceans.

This was so much the message they wanted that Nurse invited him to confirm that human emissions are seven times greater than those from all natural sources. This was mind-boggling. It is generally agreed that the 7 billion tonnes of CO2 due to human activity represent just over 3 percent of the total emitted. That given off by natural sources, such as the oceans, is vastly greater than this, more than 96 per cent of the total.

One may argue about the "carbon cycle" and how much CO2 the oceans and plants reabsorb. But, as baldly stated, the point was simply a grotesque misrepresentation, serving, like many of the programme's other assertions, only to give viewers a wholly misleading impression.

Thus, for all Nurse's triumphalism, it is very clear that he does not have the first idea of what he is talking about. Yet, in the name of science, this man is happy to call out Delingpole and tell him he is wrong. The contrast is highly revealing – Nurse has no place in a proper debate on climate change. He belongs in a nursery.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

An article of faith

It has become enormously important for the Met Office to protect is own claim that it in some way predicted the severe weather at the beginning of the winter, so much so that it has become an article of faith that it was correct. To cement the lie, and with the help of the BBC's Roger Harrabin, the Met Office has been attempting to re-write history.

But, with a modicum of patience and a great deal of persistence, Autonomous Mind has finally nailed this lie. Based on a response to an FOI request submitted by Katabasis, another diligent toiler in the vineyard, he has discovered that the Met Office has been "economical" with is account of what it told the Cabinet Office, which it claims proves it predicted the bad weather.

With a copy of that advice now to hand, he finds that the all-important sentence, which qualifies its advice, states that: "The Met Office seasonal outlook for the period November to January is showing no clear signals for the winter". In terms, this proves that the Met Office complexly failed to discern the change that hit us less than a month after it had issued its wholly inadequate "assessment for winter".

Autonomous Mind believes that the Met Office is now completely discredited. Also utterly discredited is the BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin, who tried to protect the Met Office, abusing his own position on its behalf. Both now owe us all an explanation.


Friday, January 28, 2011


Nicked from Witterings from Witney - who undoubtedly nicked it from someone else - the picture above is offered without much comment. Other than to say I found it funny, if you analyse the humour, it is more subtle than at first appears. It doth lampoon our own prejudices.

Nevertheless, for whatever "crime" it is I have been judged to commit, I shall undoubtedly incur the wrath of the very few (and by definition) anally retentive Leftoids who visit this blog, and shall burn in their version of a secular Hell – which probably means endlessly reading speeches by David Cameron.

And, do you know what? With a smile on my face as I contemplate the throbbing hatred of the lefties – who are usually warmists, so I get two for the price of one – I don't give a damn.


Are they at all surprised?

UK consumer confidence, we are told has suffered an "astonishing collapse" with an eight-point plunge in the most closely-watched barometer of consumer confidence.

This is the GfK NOP Social Research index of consumer confidence, a survey of 2,000 people, conducted on behalf of the EU commission. It tumbled eight points in January to -29, the sharpest fall since 1992 and the lowest reading in 22 months, "hit by high prices, a rise in value-added tax and looming public spending cuts."

The survey was conducted earlier this month, before official figures had indicated that the economy had shrunk in the final quarter of 2010. Separately, a survey from the Confederation of British Industry reported that sales growth on the high street slowed this month, as expected, after spiking ahead of the VAT increase.

Straight out of the department of the trite and superficial, The Daily Telegraph says these findings "will prompt more questions as to whether the coalition risks tipping the economy back into recession through its programme of tax rises and spending cuts to reduce the budget deficit."

Not withstanding that a goodly few might raise their eyebrows at the claim that the recession ever ended, since there aren't any "cuts" and the Cleggerons are simply shifting increased expenditure from general categories to debt repayment, can we at least please stop talking about reducing the deficit?


Through the worst

Russian icebreakers Krasin and the Admiral Makarov, engaged in the Okhotsk Sea rescuing the ice-trapped factory ship Sodruzhestvo, have now cleared the most difficult stretch of ice, covering eight nautical miles over the past 36 hours.

We are told that the ships still have 25 miles before they reach open sea but, from all accounts, the worst is over. We are nonetheless reminded that the Sodruzhestvo (pictured) has been the hardest of the trapped ships to tow due to its wide body. The icebreakers have to coordinate their efforts to clear a wide channel in thick ice for the vessel to finally reach open waters.

TASS is reporting that the success raises hopes that the month-long rescue operation could end in two more days. The convoy will soon reach the area of drifting ice. After that thirty miles will remain to clear water. "The voyage is likely to take another two days and the rescue operation may end on January 30," Far Eastern Shipping Company spokeswoman Tatyana Kulikova says.


ET don't phone home

There is no hope of alien life in space, we are told, from which we can take some comfort. We will never be embarrassed by an ET-like figure coming down to Earth to wonder what strange creatures inhabit a country called England, once known for its moderation and sanity.

We are thus spared its observations that, in between chopping up £4 billions-worth of brand new, unused aircraft, we have officials who descend into the absurd, fining a 64-year-old grandmother £50 even as she picked up a piece of litter she had accidentally dropped.

We need not worry about its puzzlement at the contrast, when the state broadcaster hires 20 dog-owners to get their pets to poo in a local street, to demonstrate to grateful licence (aka tax) payers what it will be like if they don't pay even more tax. And we are spared the problem of having to explain why BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons has run up expenses totalling more than £12,000 in six months, the grateful licence (aka tax) payers thus having to stump up for, amongst other things, £5,593 on hotels, £4,501 on train fares and £427 on flights.

There will also be no ET to discover that this is the country where stunned councillors have been told that there will be no police patrols after 8pm at newly-built adventure playground at Waterlees Park in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, because it is considered "dark and dangerous".

We would not have to cringe with embarrassment at its amusement when it found a tourist taking a souvenir model soldier home from Britain had been ordered by security officials as Gatwick airport to remove its three inch rifle before boarding an airliner, they having ruled that the tiny plastic replica was a "firearm".

Our putative ET will never learn that the madness also spreads. It will not find out that European authorities are still unable to charge for a gas produced when people breathe out, and which is absorbed by plants as fertiliser, because thieves have stolen £25 millions-worth of the permits to produce it, and despite confident predictions, have not been able to fix the insecure computer systems.

And it will never know that French elephants who pack their trunks and go to the circus in North Africa have become Moroccan "nationals" and cannot return home because of bureaucratic rules - and nor will it find out that most "green bio-fuel" aren't. Perhaps it is just as well there is only one world. There probably isn't enough room in the universe for two of them.  And the aliens have taken over anyway.  We don't need an ET to phone home and tell everybody how mad we are.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nimrods home to roost

The crying waste involved in scrapping the remaining Nimrod MR4s sees the end of a saga that began with a decision made by Portillo in his capacity as defence secretary for the Major government. How apt it is that the mistake, having been made by a Tory minister, should have to be corrected by ... a Tory minister. And how typical it is that the taxpayer foots the bill, currently up to £4.1 billion, for which we get nothing at all but an expensive pile of scrap.

It is not altogether a bad idea trying to graft on new technology onto old airframes, but this project carried the practice to extremes, ending up with virtually new (but not quite new) aircraft, at more than three times the cost (and possibly much more) of buying and converting new airframes. For once, I am with Lewis Page on this. We are better off without these white elephants.

The worst of it, though, is that we really do need this capacity, and none of the alternative options really cut it. Apart from anything else, if we have a serious maritime incident out in the near or mid-Atlantic – such as, say, a large ship sinking - we will need overhead assets for command and control.

But, while the clever dicks prattle, what this case underlines is the importance of procurement, the long shelf-life of bad decisions, and the costs of getting it wrong. Yet, at the time Portaloo made his decision, there was very little intelligent (or at all) discussion in the media. Everybody can be wise after the event. What we need, though, is to be wise before the event, in which case the worst of these disasters could most certainly be avoided.

Unfortunately, that would require of the media, amongst other things, to spend some time researching and understanding a subject, and writing intelligently about it. It is not that hard - look at FRES for instance - but this is not something in which our media has shown any great skill.

Thus, for all the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, we are most certainly likely to see history repeat itself, with more procurement disasters probably already in the making - the Army has not yet abandoned its ambitions for FRES.


Nice one

The Met Office is caught out in a lie. Why is it that lying is the dominant ethos of public service these days?


Built on a lie

Time Magazine picks up on the Galileo story, repeating the meme that the project is "plagued by epic delays and woeful cost overruns." And, as always with lazy journalism, it goes for the cheap rent-a-quote, citing Mats Persson, director of Open Europe, who tells us, "Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong," thus in turn reinforcing the meme.

I do get more than a little pissed off with this. If you stand back from the hype, there is no evidence to support a claim that Galileo is suffering from "cost overruns."

Looking at broad US costings for GPS, in order to commission a brand new, fully-fledged satellite navigation system, complete with ground stations and infrastructure, you are not going to get much change out of €10 billion. If anything, that is on the low side.

Thus, to say, as does Time, that the predicted cost of the project has almost doubled to €6.4 billion is to miss the point. The original estimate was unrealistically low, and the current estimate is also unrealistically low. If the EU got inside €6.4 billion, it would be a modern miracle.

Thus, in this case, we are not dealing with cost overruns, but something completely different. Essentially, as we averred in our piece, the EU commission has been lying about the cost, and is continuing to lie. It did so and is doing so because, had it been open about the true costs of the system, it would never have got approval in the first place.

Such issues are not hard to work out, but they point up the essential defect of the whole project, in common with the EU itself, that it is built on a foundation of lies. That, it seems, the timorous little journos of Time Magazine can't deal with, so they run with the low-octane Open Europe line and stay within their comfort zone.

This is what is has come to – the euroslime can rob us blind and no one even has the courage to say so – least of all the Uncle Toms in Open Europe.


Three hundred metres

According to the Voice of Russia, in the last 24 hours, the ice trapped Sodruzhestvo factory ship has made a mere 300 meters in the past 24 hours - not even twice its own length. Aided by the Admiral Makarov and the Krasin, Ria Novosti confirms that the convoy has only covered 1.8 miles "in heavy ice floe" since the start of what was hoped to be the final phase of the rescue in the Okhotsk Sea crisis.

"The convoy is moving very slowly due to breaking towing cables and constant shifting of heavy ice floe," says the spokeswoman for the factory ship owners, Tatyana Kulikova. "The ships have managed to cover only 1.8 miles since Wednesday, and have about 20 miles to go till they reach clear waters," she added. The Krasin is towing the Sodruzhestvo, while the Admiral Makarov is leading the convoy, attempting to clear a passable channel in the thick ice.

Since the beginning of the current operation on Wednesday morning, the rescue operation has been suspended twice because of the breakage of towing cables. Yesterday we learned that a replacement cable had been brought by helicopter. Now, that cable seems to have broken. This is the third time a breakage has been reported.

Looking at the sheer bulk of the Sodruzhestvo (pictured top), it is not at all surprising that problems are being experienced. But with it having spent over four weeks trapped in the ice, the 348 crew must be wondering whether their ship will ever again see the open sea. Still, as one of our readers observes, as long as they have this, they won't get bored.


Buy euros

The single currency is finished, says Jeff Randall. The debt bill is too high for the Club Med nations and they will have to leave the zone.

Yeah ... but we've heard that before. This is a political, not an economic project, and the "colleagues" will do everything in their power to keep their "baby" alive – and some. So, where economics ends, politics takes over. They will ruin the economies of every nation in the EU rather than give up hope.

Many times and in many places, it is said that Merkel must bite the bullet. Let's even mix metaphors ... Germany has to pull the plug, or it will bring us all down. But when, we ask ... when?


Myrtle the Judas goat

It was Autonomous Mind who first picked up the stench on the breeze from a little-known blog. This had it that Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell were seeking to wind up the Better Off Out campaign. Supported by Mark Reckless, they are proposing that BOO should be replaced by a cross-party referendum campaign, which says AM, "confirms the suspicions of many people" that the pair "are nothing more than David Cameron’s useful idiots".

The clue as to the direction of travel came from an earlier post on the Hannan blog and, while it does indeed look as if the deadly duo are shifting their ground, I would not entirely endorse the analysis offered by AM. Given how the pair, and Hannan especially, function as token eurosceptics, their function to lead waverers into the Tory Party, the real clue to their role is given in the comments to yet another Hannan post. There it is suggested that Judas goat might be a better descriptor.

A Judas goat is a trained goat used at a slaughterhouse and in general animal herding. The Judas goat is trained to associate with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared. Judas goats are also used to lead other animals to specific pens and on to trucks.

Funnily enough, though, Judas goats are illegal under EU slaughterhouse law. Once an animal has entered a slaughterhouse, it must be slaughtered within 24 hours. There are no exceptions permitted, and the only working animals allowed - and then just in the lairage - are dogs. As long as he is an MEP, Hannan would be safe enough from the branding.

However, so apposite is the description that we have nevertheless decided on an honorific for the Hannan, judging "Myrtle" to be the most appropriate. This is slightly better than Rose, but that name can hardly apply. The experience of that animal which led it to such great fame is that which is intended for the unwise and gullible who follow Myrtle to the final destination.

But, says Your Freedom and Ours, see how they squirm, while Witterings from Witney adds his own well-crafted points.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Experts warn"

There are probably no two words in the entire English language that have become more debased than: "experts warn". That simple truth, however, evades the simple souls recruited by The Daily Telegraph to write their headlines, their latest offering being: "Climate change means we will be skiing in Yorkshire rather than sunbathing under palm trees, experts warn."

This announces yet another dollop of from the incredible Richard Alleyne, styled as the paper's "science correspondent", his labours helping to turn a once respected newspaper into the laughing stock that is has become, driving down the circulation to the point eventually when even this blog will be able to boast more readers.

Of course, we all remember the contribution from The Independent on 20 March 2000, when we got the headline: "Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past". According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia - former home also of Paul Nurse - within a few years winter snowfall, would become "a very rare and exciting event".

Now, that Viner's little fantasy no longer holds true, we thus have the re-writing of predictions on a scale that would have taxed even the inventive powers of Winston Smith. And in this case the honours go to Dr Simon Boxall, of the National Oceanography Survey, who tells the gullible Alleyne that, while the planet as a whole will get much warmer, this country will see temperatures plunge as the ocean currents and weather patterns around the world change.

What is so very remarkable about this is not that Alleyne is stupid enough to believe it, but that he is stupid enough to believe that we, his readers, will believe it. Nevertheless, his commentators are attempting to disabuse him of that, as indeed they have tried with Geoffrey Lean and Loopy Lou.

But such is the nature of the British press that they haven't quite caught up with this internet thingie, and still believe - in common with the political classes - that communication remains a one-way process. For supposedly intelligent men and women, they are having extraordinary difficulty learning the very simple lesson, that ex cathedra pontification from idiot hacks no longer works. We are amused but not persuaded, and are increasingly taking our custom elsewhere.


On being stitched up

Well over three thousand comments on the Dellersblog about the Paul Nurse stitch-up (now online) is a remarkable social phenomenon. It is one to which the media and politicians should pay attention, as it demonstrates that "debate" – such that it is – has not disappeared. It has simply found other venues.

However, the use of scare quotes on the "debate" is well merited. The comments range from the barely literate abuse, to the pretentious, aggressive and, occasionally, well-reasoned. Very few, nevertheless, are going to plough through the many thousands of entries, but by and large, having comments read is not the intention. Instead, the aim of each side to dominate the argument by force of numbers, driving the opposition into obscurity.

Whether this is important is hard to tell, but the warmist "community" is certainly investing a huge effort in the activity, matching the determination of the BBC and its fellow-travellers in The Guardian and Independent to bring down high-profile sceptics such as Delingpole.

Given that the blog and then the comments are a response to the BBC Horizon programme, though, it is interesting but not at all surprising to find that none of the commentators display any real understanding of the dynamics which led to Delingpole being interviewed.

The core issue is that he was interviewed by Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, for around three hours, on camera, for the Horizon programme, which purported to argue the case for greater trust of science, claiming that science was "under attack".

What was very clear, though, was that the producers then "cherry picked" a tiny segment of the interview that gave them the line they wanted to present to the audience. That itself is a major issue and one might have thought that an intelligent, semi-adult discussion might then have responded by at least remarking on this phenomenon.

This is the practice of modern documentary makers, who can gather huge amounts of material and then edit and assemble the material in a way that they can present a message, the message the producer wishes to convey. This is irrespective of what is actually said, and what interviewees actually intended.

As it happens, I have had the self-same experience myself. Recently, I was interviewed for the Dispatches programme by Rageh Omaar. That interview was easily three hours and I spoke freely, at length over a wide range of issues, all to do with the very contentious subject of immigration.

When the programmes were aired (it was a series) my interview was used, in very small measure, here and there, totalling no more than a few minutes. It showed my saying words, and I did say the words. But in no way did it even begin to convey what I felt about the subject. Huge areas which I had discussed at length were not even raised.

What helped me to recognise the process was that I've done the same thing. I've made several documentaries myself, including two Dispatches programmes. You write the script first, setting out what you want to say. Then you go out and find the talking heads that will say the words you need to fit the script. You (in this case I) interview them, collect up the words on the tape and then go back to the edit suite and pull out the words that fit.

I remember at a late stage in the film-making, we needed a scientist to say one thing, one sentence, to confirm a key premise we needed to make, for the film to hang together. And we would not find anything like it in all our interviews.

We hunted around and eventually found a water scientist in Inverness, who looked as if he might say it, so we took the crew all the up there from London. I went through the motions of interviewing him, waiting for him to say the words we needed.

At the time, we were under huge pressure to catch the last flight back and the man would not say the words. So I talked around the subject, and kept re-phrasing the question, putting it to him again and again. Then, as we were getting more and more desperate, he said the magic sentence. He didn't really mean it, but the way I had asked the question gave me the string of words I needed.

The cameraman snapped off the lights, we threw the kit in the boxes and fled, rushing to catch our flight. The poor sod must have wondered what he had said to get such a response. When the film was broadcast, it had that one sentence in it. Nothing more from that man, even though he had talked for hours.

That is TV for you – that is how it works. That's what Delingpole went through. The "line" was already pre-ordained - worked out in advance. He was picked as the "talking head" most likely to, and Nurse went out to collect the words needed to fit that part of the script.

It thus really didn't matter what Delingpole might have intended. The outcome was always going to be the same. So those who exult in him being "caught out" or some such really do not have the first idea of what they are talking about, or the first idea of what was going on.

This, of course, makes television documentaries (potentially) a massively dishonest medium - you think you are watching the expressions of the participants, but you are not. The audience is being led through a carefully crafted script towards a conclusion that was decided in editorial and commissioning offices, months and sometimes years before the first camera was switched on.

And yet, so many fell for it, have fallen for it before, and will do so again. Many did so this time because the programme fitted their own prejudices and expectations. But, while they are strident in condemning Delingpole, if they believed (or convinced themselves) that what they saw was real, they are the fools,

Delingpole's mistake was in trying to play a bent game straight.


Groundhog day

The silence from yesterday in the Okhotsk Sea crisis is now explained from the latest report, which tells us that the rescue of the Sodruzhestvo factory ship had been suspended once again. In a re-run of an earlier drama exactly two weeks ago, the tow rope snapped as the ship was being dragged through the ice.

With the icebreakers Krasin (pictured below from 2006) towing the giant factory ship and the Admiral Makarov clearing the channel ahead, the ships only managed to break though "one and a half miles of thick ice" before the tow was lost again. We are told, however, that "spare towropes were delivered by a helicopter" and that the operation has been resumed. Make of that what you will.

This is now the 27th day the Sodruzhestvo has spent locked in the ice. And, although the Russians have been fairly candid about the difficulties involved in extracting her, the continued delays must be trying patience. There are 40 miles to go to the ice edge (although Russian miles tend to be rather elastic) and the ships were last reported in "a complicated area of dense ice".

Thus, there is still no immediate end in sight to this drama. The authorities are only committing to "several days" before the ships are in the clear, and experience tells us anything could happen.


A "disproportionate" response

An almost certain way to ensure that a subject gets nowhere near the MSM is to have a committee of MEPs look at it. That has proved to be the case with the EU's "disproportionate" response to the outbreak of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus in 2009-2010. Despite the press release and the full resources of the EU parliament press team, the only newspaper we can find that has carried news of the investigation is the Sophia Echo.

The issue is now the subject of a resolution adopted by the EU parliament's public health committee, addressing the cost of vaccination programmes and relative risks that were faced. MEPs criticise the EU commission and member states for their "disproportionate" response and their ill-co-ordinated vaccination programmes .

The criticism arises from differences in vaccination schemes in various EU, the excessive expenditure on vaccines, "the potential influence of pharmaceutical companies in response processes," and the conflicts of interest. Billions of euros were spent in total, yet H1N1 had caused 2,900 deaths in Europe by April 2010, compared with 40,000 for seasonal flu in a moderate year.

This is an issue we looked at a number of times, most notably here, but we also looked at the attempts to highlight the way the World Health Organisation and other public health bodies had "gambled away" public confidence by overstating the dangers.

At the time, of course, this was a classic scare, obviously so, and we said as much. Yet, while this has been latterly recognised, not least now by this MEP committee, none of those who succumbed to an expensive and damaging panic seem to be able to recognise the similarities in the dynamics of the global warming scare.

What also deserves comment is the way the public authorities - so quick to spend our money on their "moral panics" as they are sometimes called – are less enthusiastic about examining the results of their folly, and learning lessons from it. To that effect, we should offer one small cheer to the EU parliament, although the motivation here was to have a pop at "big pharma" rather than the thought that they might do something useful.

So it is that this one is going to get away – billions spent, and no real lessons learned. What makes me think that, once the global warming scare collapses, we will be faced with exactly the same thing?


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Last one out?

As the Sodruzhestvo (pictured above – ship on right) enters its 26th day of captivity in the ice of the Okhotsk Sea, the agency TASS was confidently reporting that she will be freed today. That news was posted early this morning, Moscow time and there are quite often updates issued. And, in the early evening here (England), it is in the early hours Wednesday in the rescue area, and all we are getting is an ominous silence.

We had been told from diverse sources that the icebreakers Krasin and Admiral Makarov would begin to pilot the factory ship from the ice. The Krasin was first into the ice after refuelling, and had forced its way to the factory ship. The Admiral Makarov was following, making the escape channel wider.

The two icebreakers were then to operate in tandem, leading the Sodruzhestvo to ice-free water for about 50 miles across heavy hummocky ice. The weather conditions were said to be favourable and the last we had heard was that the Krasin had been clearing the Sodruzhestvo from ice and preparing a channel for towing.

Meanwhile, as this drama plays out, US Rear Admiral Dave Titley, at an Arctic conference in Tromsø, Norway, is telling us that commercial ships could be sailing across an ice-free North Pole as soon as 2035.

Titley predicted that, as the ice-free period gradually increased, the Bering Strait between the US and Russia would begin to rival the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia as one of the world's most important shipping lanes.

This, no doubt, will come as music to the ears the crew of the Sodruzhestvo, who might also be entertained by the total lack of Western media coverage. The only news from that source, coming out of the region concerns a "rare whale" which has left the Bering Sea and is heading for the Gulf of Alaska.

Researchers have been tracking the whale since they tagged it off Russia's Sakhalin Island on 4 October, and the media is showing far more interest in this solitary mammal than it is the fate of over 400 trapped crew.  It would be nice to think that the Japanese had a whaler handy to do a bit of quick "research", which could then grace the plates of Tokyo diners.


A neat asymmetry

One cannot help but be amused at the coincidence of the BBC transmitting its Horizon Programme, as an ill-concealed (and poorly constructed) defence of warmist orthodoxy, at the same time Peter Sissons is serialising his book in The Daily Mail, today arguing that the BBC has become a "propaganda machine for climate change".

In the media generally, this is definitely the sort of issue that separates the men from the boys. It thus comes as no surprise to find The Independent running interference on behalf of the BBC. Its so-called science editor, Steve Connor, has been rushing in to tell  us that, "Scientists are being subjected to shocking levels of personal vilification and distrust" - this according to the distinctly low-grade former East Anglia University student, Paul Nurse, who fronted the Horizon effort.

With its daily circulation of 175,002 (down 6.39 percent, year-on-year), this national newspaper now takes in considerably less readers in a day than we get in a month, the other difference being that, while its readership is declining, ours is increasing. That is unlikely to be a coincidence.

Of course, the other cheek of the BBC's arse, The Guardian, has been in full flow, with not one but two pieces on the programme. That tells you exactly where it is coming from, as if anyone needed any reminders. For a more considered comment, you may have to wait for The Sunday Telegraph this weekend.

Comments on the Dellersblog, meanwhile, are in full flow. One of the commentators refers to a Daily Mail poll asking whether the BBC is biased in its reporting on climate change? Some 85 percent say "yes" and 15 percent say "no". And this is a paper with a circulation 2,030,968. Dellers has it, methinks. The Guardianistas and Independenistas are talking to themselves.


Biting my tongue no longer

After this, we now get this: "Gay squash club's £6k grant for lesbians".

Thus we are told that Britain's first gay squash club has been given a £6,500 government grant to help recruit lesbian and transgender players to the sport. The cash from Sport England will also be used encourage bisexuals to take advantage of free coaching sessions, as well as funding new equipment.

4Play Squash, based at the Finsbury Leisure Centre, in Camden, north London, was formed 21 years ago. Its committee secured the Sport England money by promising to "help develop squash in the gay community … particularly gay women".

Enough! We've held our tongues for so long, letting the equality industry have its way, allowing it to create a moral equivalence between this sterile, unnatural state and normal human relationships. But it is going too far when we actually have to pay to promote it as well. Doubtless this is not the first time our patience and money has been so abused, but this is wholly, completely totally unacceptable.

There is a word in the English vocabulary – it is "backlash". It starts here and now. We have had enough of this, more than enough. Sow seeds, reap whirlwinds ... simples.

Meanwhile, The Daily Mash does what it does best ... taking the mick out of the mick-takers. And yes, of course, this is a tiny amount of waste compared with the torrent of public money pouring down the drain. Only today we learn, through successive mismanagement, PFI schemes with a capital value of £56 billion are to cost taxpayers £229 billion over the next sixty years.

Against that, £6,500 isn't even the decimal point on a rounding error, but the payment is somehow symptomatic of a public administration that has lost the will to live. This is an administration which has the greatest of difficulty collecting the bins on time (or at all), mending the roads, keeping the streets free of rats (of the four-legged variety), and catching the burglars, yet there is public money to spare for this sort of thing.

And, in only a few weeks now, the bills for Council Tax will start plopping through the letter boxes - the administrative classes with their hands out for more, to feed their voracious appetites for salaries, expenses, comfortable offices and generous pensions.

None of the slime, at local - and especially national - level have the guts to come to the doors with their hands out for payment, like honest traders.  They have their debt collection agencies, their bailiffs, their uniformed police thugs, their tame magistrates and their prisons to do their work for them, to distance themselves from their own crimes and neglect - and contempt for the people they are supposed to serve.

But, as they will yet find, you can take the piss out of all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time.  But you can't take the piss out of all of the people all of the time.  Some of us tend to get a tad upset.


Monday, January 24, 2011

They were only playing leapfrog

Events in the Okhotsk Sea crisis are moving apace, with TASS reporting that the Bereg Nadezhdy fish carrier "has been led by two icebreakers from the ice area to clear water." Now the Admiral Makarov and Krasin icebreakers are returning to the Sodruzhestvo factory ship "in order to guide the vessel to ice-free waters."

This looks quite promising. An earlier bulletin set the scene, telling us that the icebreakers were leading the fish carrier to "ice-free waters" and had covered 12 of the 38 miles to the ice edge, over the past 24 hours. Then Ria Novosti issued a bullish report relaying an announcement from a spokesman for Russia's Federal Fishing Agency.

Said Alexander Savelev, the Bereg Nadezhdy had been successfully towed to clear water. "The refrigerator vessel is out of danger," he said. "In the next few hours, after refuelling, the icebreakers will return for the Sodruzhestvo mother fishery ship."

He added that the weather conditions were favourable for the rescue operation, with temperatures of -14°C. "The crew is alive and healthy, although during the operation a sailor had to be evacuated from one of the icebreakers with suspected appendicitis," Savelev also said.

In the early afternoon here (in England at the time of writing), it is close to midnight in the Okhotsk Sea, and operations no doubt will be scaling down. In the morning it is hoped that we will be seeing the final, final stage of the rescue, that has already seen its fair share of false dawns.

What is interesting though is that, throughout the operation, diverse spokespersons have been stressing that the ships were in no danger. With Alexander Savelev now telling us that the Bereg Nadezhdy is "out of danger," we can only draw our own conclusions as to the veracity of the previous statements.


Walking the dark side

Dellers has discovered that, if you always keep a hold of Nurse, for fear of finding something worse, you find ... something worse.


Out of touch

David Davis is running the meme that Cameron and his cronies are, with the departure of Coulson, at risk of getting out of touch with the rest of the population.

This is tosh. The Cameron clique and its devoted claque have never been in touch with the population. But the worst of it is that they have never tried to get in touch, or even felt the need so to do. They come from that peculiarly British, upper class "toff" section of society that believes it already knows what is good for the common man. They need nothing so vulgar as contact with the oiks to inform them of what needs to be done.

For the likes of Cameron, communication is a one-way street. He talks, we listen. He would never actually see the point of having it any other way. And that is why he and his little mates, in the fullness of time, will crash and burn. We will do our best to help him on his way.


Wrecker greens

Whatever Cowen's ambitions might have been about holding on until 11 March, they seem to have been wrecked by the Irish Green Party. It has decided to withdraw from the Government after "losing patience" with the lack of resolution to the ongoing saga of Fianna Fáil's leadership.

It has been suggested that the immediate outcome of this palace coup is that the date of the election will be brought forward, with Green Party leader John Gormley (centre of pic) declaring that Fianna Fáil’s leadership issue was too much of a distraction for the Government and meant an immediate election was necessary.

An early contest, however, is still not a foregone conclusion, even though the opposition Labour Party is preparing a vote of no confidence. There is still the matter of the Finance Bill to get though, to give effect to the measures contained in the Budget and give a legal basis to the EU bail-out.

This is supported both by Gormley and his party, and the Opposition benches. Cowen is saying that it would not be possible to deal with the Finance Bill within one week, so he will not be resigning as Taoiseach. Nor will he be seeking the dissolution of the Dáil and an immediate election. And in this, Cowen does seem to have the whip hand. If he is dumped immediately, the Finance Bill goes, and Brussels would be exceeding displeased.

Nevertheless, Fine Gael's deputy finance spokesman Brian Hayes says that it is party's view, alongside the Greens, that the Finance Bill can pass all stages in both Houses in time for the Dáil to be dissolved next Friday. An election could then follow within four weeks.

The odd man out is Sinn Fein's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. He says the Bill should not be put before the Dáil, and is calling for an immediate dissolution. That is unlikely to happen, but the Sinn Fein stance could reap electoral dividends when voters come to deciding who will replace Cowen and his crew. Not only the government, but the entire political class is on notice.


Sunday, January 23, 2011


Every time someone dies as a result of floods in Queensland, a thousand greenies should be dragged out of their squats and drowned.

That, of course, is goldy - a bit like irony, as anyone who isn't being wilfully stupid can see. The difference is that it is better quality than the stuff produced by George Monbiot (aka Moonbat, although "ocean-going shit" will do) - and it doesn't rust.


Before and after

The video above shows what happened when we still had a country – and industry – run by grown-ups. And look what we have now come to. Children are to be taught about homosexuality in maths, geography and science lessons as part of a Government-backed drive to "celebrate the gay community".

Weep for what we once were and have now become.


Avoiding the debate

As a further illustration of quite how childish our newspapers have become, we can set the scene with a robust opinion piece in the Australian Sunday Herald Sun, addressing the continuing scandal of the Brisbane floods.

Exploring the role of management of the Wivenhoe Dam, under the heading: "Greens be dammed, we need protection," this piece notes that: "Eco-catastrophists always cite the precautionary principle: if they are right and we don't reduce CO2 emissions, we face Armageddon. If they are wrong, all it costs is dollars." It then goes on:
But when money is allocated and attention prioritised to making contingency plans for vague hypothetical scenarios in the distant future, real priorities are neglected and real risks overlooked.

When leaders proclaim climate change as the greatest moral challenge, the entire machinery of government becomes preoccupied with the busy work of solving an imaginary problem. It is then easily blindsided by a real emergency.

This all-too-human phenomenon of selective attention is depicted in the famous psychology experiment with a gorilla. Volunteers have to watch a video showing a group of people passing a ball and count the number of times the ball changes hands. Most people concentrate so hard on the ball they don't notice the big gorilla that walks through the middle of the screen.

We have been so busy fretting about carbon dioxide that we have neglected the real challenge - how to adapt and protect ourselves from natural disasters.
As important as the sentiment is the debate – the fact that there is one. And the issues being rehearsed are not just local to Queensland or even Australia. The piece explores tensions between rampant greenery and public protection which are manifest here and everywhere in the developed world.

Kick-starting that debate is what Booker tried to do last week in The Sunday Telegraph, while the main newspaper focused on stream of consciousness and human interest copy.

One might have thought, though, that with the dam management and the green involvement prominent in the Australian media, this week's newspaper might actually acknowledge the extent of the debate and the strength of feeling. But not a bit of it. They ignore it. We have instead more human interest as we are regaled with a half-page illustrated account of "the desperate attempts to save a family from the Queensland floods."

This retreat into childhood truly is disturbing. Never more so do we need these important issues debated and when the so-called "broadsheets" sell the pass, we really are in trouble.


"Unusually strong"

On the back of "abnormal weather " we now have a further development in the Okhotsk Sea crisis with TASS reporting "unusually strong" ice pressure. This actually comes as no surprise at all, as the wind direction and strength over the last few days has combined to create possibly the worst conditions that can be encountered.

As a result, the convoy comprising the Admiral Makarov and the Krassin icebreakers, attempting to lead out the Bereg Nadezhdy fish carrier and the Sodruzhestvo factory ship, has not moved a single mile forwards since Saturday morning. It is still stuck at a distance about 30 miles away from the areas of open floating ice, exactly where it was yesterday.

The plan devised for the rescue operation has not changed, and is now being described as "multi-stage and complicated", with the Makarov and Krassin attempting first to free the fish carrier from the ice, after which the intention is to return for the Sodruzhestvo with its 348 crew members.

Waiting at the edge of the ice are the icebreaker Magadan and the tanker Viktoria. The latter will have to refuel the two icebreakers before they start back into the ice, but it looks to be a long wait. The trapped ships have entered their fourth week of confinement, some two weeks after premier Putin suggested they might have been freed.

Suggestions are now emerging that initial efforts to free the ships were delayed because all of the icebreakers in Russia's Pacific fleet had been leased out to the oil and gas company Exxon until 2016.

A rescue operation was initiated only after the Kremlin had intervened and guaranteed payment to the appropriate parties, by which time several days had passed. Putin must now hope for a successful ending to this crisis, as loss of the ships and any men may raise uncomfortable questions about the lack of preparedness in the region.