Monday, January 8, 2007

BLATHER by John McCaughey, himself

After much begging on our part and the false promise of fame, John McCaughey has agreed to lend, but not sell, his fiascodic wit to The Pest. To Wit:


A Diary by John McCaughey


Blather [magazine] is here. As we advance to make our bow, you will look in vain for signs of servility or for any evidence of a slavish desire to please. We are an arrogant and depraved body of men. Blather doesn't care. A sardonic laugh escapes us as we bow, cruel and cynical hounds that we are. It is a terrible laugh, the laugh of lost men. Do you get the smell of porter?

---Flann O'Brien, Dublin, 1934

A Bad Year for Hurricane Alarmists

There can be no doubt about it: 2006 was a very bad year for hurricane alarmists. Storm and hurricane days were each off by 30 percent, Category 3-plus days off by 50 percent and Category 4 days off by 54 percent. Hurricane days were at their lowest level since 1989. The hyped-season turned out not to happen. Deaths and damages were about a hundredfold less than the previous year. It must be a seasonal thing. So all these theories that global warming fuels hurricane activity turn out to be just balls. And the forecasters turn out to be about as useful as the Deaf Adder they used to teach me about when I won a prize for Scripture Knowledge in school. Still, every non-hurricane has a silver lining. Insurers posted a $24.4 billion profit in the first nine months of 2006.Insured losses in 2006 from natural disasters (usually hurricanes) were $15 billion compared to $99 billion in 2005.

We'll Huff and We'll Puff and Not Blow the House Down

Having ruined some of the finest scenery in Europe (especially in the Scottish Highlands) the New Labour government in Britain turns out to have made a bloomer. A new independent study shows that very few wind farms in England and Wales produce anything like the amount of electricity civil servants and politicians had forecast, despite exorbitant subsidies to wide-boy wind farm developers.

Not merely do the turbines rarely work when power is most needed, but some of the output is ludicrously low: about 24 percent of capacity on average, dropping to 8.8 percent at one pharmaceutical plant which had installed its turbines for PC reasons rather than to benefit the shareholders.

Said John Constable of the group which performed the study: "We're really talking about a garden ornament, not a power station. These are statements about the company's corporate social responsibility, not efficient generating capacity."

Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has set a goal of producing 15 percent of Britain's energy from renewables by 2015. This would be comical if it were not so pathetic.

After You, Claude...

Once a sensible, pragmatic, business newspaper, Britain's Financial Times has gone entirely wobbly, as a long, fatuous lead editorial in a recent edition reveals. This urges urgent and decisive action in 2007 to write and to ratify a new and much tougher Kyoto Accord against global warming. The leader column is full of the same tired old arguments with which the enviros have been boring us for years: mandatory cuts in emissions, the excellence of Al Gore's movie, you know the sort of hopeless rubbish.

Mercifully, the leader writer, to some extent gets a grip near the end when he quotes (from a classic British radio comedy) the phrase: "After you, Claude; No, after you, Cecil" about two old-school British gentlemen who could never get through a door because of excessive politeness.

"No country," says the leader writer, "wants to risk economic damage from cutting its carbon emissions unless it is sure that others will do the same." Quite so: ask the smirking Frogs, the Indians or the Chinks.

The Natural Gas Cartel that Won't Happen

For a while, a year or so ago, it was a fertile and profitable story for energy hacks: the notion that (led by the Russians and Algerians) there would be created an OPEC-style natural gas cartel.

But as time goes by it seems ever less likely. Gas is traded mostly on long-term contracts, so manipulating prices by altering supply (in the way that OPEC does with oil) is more difficult.

In any case, in both Russia and Algeria, under-investment is such that no cartel is needed to boost gas prices, even if Europe depends on Russia for a quarter of its natural gas and Vladimir Putin is an old, unreconstructed KGB man determined to reconstitute the Stalin-era Soviet Union.

But, in the end, Russia's Gazprom is at least as reliant on Europe as Europe is on Gazprom. Go figure...

Home Design Hot Air

BedZed, a development of 99 apartments in south London, was designed to provide "zero carbon" living and to be entirely sustainable: wind-driven ventilation, rainwater to flush toilets, solar panels, walls two feet thick packed with insulation, triple-glazed conservatory to trap sunlight and heat house and many more such features.

Four years later, it turns out that it doesn't work.

The wood-burning technology that was supposed to provide heat and power has been abandoned, few of the tenants use the recommended "organic food boxes" (whatever they are) and the sewage treatment system (waste water filtered through reed beds) is no longer used.

"This hasn't turned out to be a zero-carbon development," says a rue Pooran Desai, who helped found the project. "We have learned as much about how not to do things as how to do them."

The problem is that there is no such thing as a "zero-carbon house."

Crackpot Charlie

Dear old Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who has spent his life waiting fruitlessly for Queen Elizabeth II to die so that he may ascend the throne, now amuses himself by giving speeches.

The latest one informs us that we are "all living on borrowed time" if we don't stop eating up the world's resources.

Charlie is a fan of Al Gore, of course, and worries out loud about the "climate crisis." He encourages staff to get around London by bicycle rather than cars or cabs.

No question that Charlie is eccentric, but then he comes from an eccentric family. The current Queen's great-uncle Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, Duke of Clarence, eldest son of Edward VII, was widely suspected to be Jack the Ripper, the notorious killer of prostitutes in London around 1890. And Henry, Duke of Gloucester, suffered from a distressing mental illness for many years before his death in 1974.

Despite the fact that he believed himself to be a poached egg, at school in Eton we all liked the Duke. He used to be known by us as "Henry Bonkers". So Charles is following a honorable tradition.


"In the case of global warming, the unanimity of so many scientists is very suspicious: it makes one feel that they are acting as a monopoly in their own interest (funds, power, publicity). Their sentences too often begin with the words 'The science says....' as if that could be asserted absolutely. When governments start to act against climate change, the efficacy of what they do will be highly uncertain. What will be certain, however, will be higher taxes (moralistically enforced in a 'Don't you know there's a war on?' tone of voice) and a vast extension of bureaucratic power. Having survived 50 years of people prophesying doom, I feel tempted to walk around with a placard saying 'The End is Not Nigh' ".

Charles Moore, The Spectator (London), November 2006

"John Spence's "Shetland Folklore" (1899) mentioned an old custom from which the verb "to earmark" is derived : Everyone knew his own sheep by the marks cut in their ears. The various sheep marks had names by which they were known, such as "bits, crooks, fiddlers" and "shols" indicating different cuts in the ear...."

Jeffrey Kacirk, Dictionary of Forgotten English


Anonymous S. Yaskell said...

Home Design Hot Air

One of the complaints earth global warming advocated raise is that cement production releases too much CO2.

When the Biosphere project concluded due to unworkability (and not being able to find where the "missing CO2" went that finished off this space-dome living experiment)it was sold to Columbia University.

The environmental scientists there were challenged into looking for the CO2 that "mysteriously" disappeared, somewhere, into the dome.

A couple of ambitious grad students finally measured the cement beneath Biosphere and investigated its properties, and, ¨
guess what? They found the missing carbon!

Seems as if CO2 is PRODUCED in cement manufacture, but is also CONSUMED by cement, too.

Now, what was it Richard Feynman said about all of what we DON'T know concerning carbon?

January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About "A Bad Year for Hurricane Alarmists" Only true for "Atlantocentrists"
Below, the 2006 Pacific activity

Predictions of tropical activity in the 2006 season
for the Eastern North Pacific Source Date
Named storms, Hurricanes, Major
NOAA Average[1] 15.3 8.8 4.2
NOAA 22 May 2006 12–16 6–8 1–3
Actual activity 18 10 5

2006 Pacific typhoon season First storm formed: May 9, 2006
Last storm dissipated: December 19, 2006
Strongest storm: Yagi and Cimaron 910 hPa (mbar), 195 km/h (120 mph)
Total storms: 23 official plus 2 unofficial
Typhoons: 15
Super Typhoons: 7 (unofficial)
Total fatalities: At least 2,532
Total damage: Unknown

Bob Maginnis

January 14, 2007  
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