Random musings from the front line (well, more like the support trench, or perhaps the castle 10 miles away, supping Chateau Lafite with the General Staff) in the battle for curiosity, inertia, grammar and a Dachshund called Colin.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Goodbyeeeeee (for now)

Well, all good things come to an end. In my case, a mediocre but mildly diverting thing has come to an end. To be quite honest, I think I secretly hoped that this blog would be pounced on by international media, and held up as an example for everyone in the English-speaking world as to how to write witty urbane random musings. But, 'twas not to be. Nevermind, I thought, I'll carry on anyway, as it seems to bring at least half a dozen of my fellow bloggers round my pages every now and then. But, I've run out of time and motivation, and henceforth my posts will be rather infrequent, if not actually non-existent.

So, to my dwindling band of blogging "pals", thank you all very much for your visits, comments, feedback and occasional insult, and I absolutely promise I'll regularly pop by your blogs. PLEASE don't forget me, and remember ... Nietzsche's "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" epithet is complete bollocks.

Yours

The Merkin

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Global Warming - The Truth

This post was originally a comment left by me at Mark Gamon's excellent blog. Since then, I've revised my figures (I was working of the top of my head) and done some more reading. But the gist is identical.

Global Warming - the Wikipedia article. You know what, regarding global warming, and I hate to agree with idiots like George W and non-scientific capitalists like the International Council for Capital Formation (ICCF) (a summary of their position is here), but people who refuse to spend a fortune in reducing carbon emissions are actually doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Kyoto is nothing to do with Greenhouse gases, and everything to do with reducing hydrocarbon dependency, and almost every climate scientist, geologist, government advisor and president knows it (they have been told the truth). However, the "pee-pul" haven't been getting the message about them forcing companies to find alternatives to oil by-products. So, they invent this propaganda (a big fat lie that they can easily fool the public with) that man made CO2 is the significant cause of global warming. It isn't.

Image from Wikipedia Article linked to below on Milankovitch Cycles

ALL CO2 contributes to (although does not, in itself, cause global warming, and it would happen anyway, about now, whether we were on this planet or not. Anthropogenic (man made) CO2 emissions consist of only 6% of the total put into the atmosphere. The rest is from volcanoes, mid-ocean ridges, natural plant processes and rotting vegetable matter, all of which would occur whether humans were on the planet or not. Even the best case scenario of the much-trumpeted (but poorly understood) Kyoto Treaty is to delay an (agreed) inevitable temperature rise by 30 years - not much in the 4,600,000,000 years of the Earth's history - and certainly not the best way to spend billions of pounds more on "carbon efficiency" than anti-poverty. One unexpected volcano eruption puts more CO2 into the atmosphere than the USA has done in the last 100 years! The reason why the planet is heating up is simple - the last ice age hasn't ended yet.

When news reporters say that "CO2 emissions are causing the greenhouse effect", "the icecaps are melting" and "global warming is a serious reality", they are absolutely correct. But a lot of the temperature rise being experienced is to do with the fact that the Earth does not orbit around the sun at exactly the same distance every year - over a geologically short (but in human terms, very long) timescale this distance fluctuates with 3 very distinct periodicities, measured in tens of thousands of years. Because of these variations (called Milankovitch Cycles ) the glaciers that formed Glen Coe have retreated (which was nowt to do with any caveman) and the glaciers in the Norwegian fjords are still retreating, which is nowt to do with us. When the ice caps have completely melted, and the most recent (of about 40) ice ages has then ended, in about 40,000 years time, the next Milankovitch Cycle will start, and in about 100,000 years, France will be covered in an ice sheet.

As an aside, global warming will cause the UK (on the same Latitude as Newfoundland and Moscow) to be much MUCH colder, not warmer, as the Gulf Stream will be disrupted - even if the Earth's temperature rises by a few degrees Celsius on average. Another little appreciated fact is that if the entire Arctic icecap melts, the sea level will not rise by so much as a millimetre, as that ice floats on water, and displaces its own mass, by volume. Antarctic ice, on a continental landmass, is a different matter.

So, to summarise, human beings had nothing to do with the previous 39 ice ages, or the ones before that, and have precious little to do with this one (either its beginning, or its end). Therefore IMHO, the best way to spend countless billions is not for politicians and single-issue green loonies (who know perfectly well the truth) to spout endless bollocks about carbon-trading and CO2 emissions, but to divert the same sum into urgent R&D into sustainable energy and sustainable raw materials for when the oil runs out. THAT scares me.

EDIT: All the above opinion is mine alone. I have no axe to grind and am not in the pay of anyone who has any agenda whatsoever, and my conclusions are drawn from 4 years at a prestigious university studying this very phenomenon. There is, as Wyndham points out in his comment, stacks of arguments on both sides, but my point is that I NEVER see a balanced opinion from an unbiased source. Just as we would discount Esso's Chief Scientist telling us that oil usage doesn't cause CO2 emissions, we should also discount scientists working for enormous ecocharities financially dependent on tactics that result from scare tactics. One famous account (which I've never read, to my shame) of all the arguments is Bjorn Lomborg's "The Sceptical Environmentalist" , but there are many many others out there from people such as James Lovelock, David Bellamy and various non-partisan institutions.

Just ask yourself, if you disagree with me, who told you? And who told them? And in that chain, how many of them have taken the trouble to look at undisputed primary scientific data? I have, and I was amazed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Royal Naval Bohemian Rhapsody

Just found this on t'interweb - HMS CAMPELTOWN's version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" - it's OK, but not as good as the Army's "Is this the way to Armadillo" video spoof. The air guitar bit in the middle is brilliant though!



It can also be downloaded, or played at higher resolution, here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Green Glowing Pubic Wigs

It's always Wyndham or Aginoth who find these things, and I can never resist them. So ... here we are again. I'm Green Lantern, apparently, despite the fact I've never heard of him. Anyone care to enlighten me?

My results:
I am Green Lantern
Green Lantern

85%
Iron Man

75%
Spider-Man

70%
Superman

60%
The Flash

60%
Hulk

55%
Supergirl

53%
Robin

50%
Catwoman

45%
Wonder Woman

43%
Batman

35%
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

I always liked Batman, as well. Oh well.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Captain Keo

No cloud = lots of sun = February suntan!

As part of my never-ending quest to travel the world on charter airline aircraft and drink local beers with over-tanned expats, this week I have mostly been in ... Cyprus. It's a fantastic place, as long as you keep away from Agia Napa in the east and Paphos in the west, with very friendly locals, dirt cheap food and drink and signs/notices everywhere in English. And, because it was British until 1960 (part of the island still is sovereign British territory - 99 square miles of "Sovereign Base Areas"), they call their currency "Pounds" and all drive on the correct side of the road. All in all, the Lonely Planet guidebook summed it up best ... "A Greece that works".

My new best friend So - great people, great scenery, more history than you can shake a Minotaur-shaped stick at and a very amenable climate. But the icing on the cake? Captain Keo. Keo beer is the island's only natively-brewed ale and is very nice indeed. Now I'm not a real ale buff (sandals and beard never suited me) - despite the infrequency with which I drink lager - but this stuff is nice. Slightly hoppy, but light and with no aftertaste, I have worked out how I'm going to make my fortune in the UK - importing Limassol's finest export. So, join with me and raise a glass. To the captain!

Anyone care to lend me an import/export business?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Neological Adventures

The following was emailed to me last week as "New Words for 2006". A few are old favourites and can be found in the inestimable Roger's Profanisaurus, but as for the rest - edit your dictionaries accordingly, and start testiculating!

TESTICULATING. Waving your arms around and talking Bollocks.

BLAMESTORMING. Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

SEAGULL MANAGER. A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

ARSEMOSIS. The process by which people seem to absorb success and advancement by sucking up to the boss rather than working hard.

SALMON DAY. The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die.

SITCOMs. Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids or start a "home business".

SINBAD. single working girls. Single income, no boyfriend and desperate.

PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE. The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.

OHNOSECOND. That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake (e.g. you've hit 'reply all')

GOING FOR A McSHIT. Entering a fast food restaurant with no intention of buying food, you're just going to the bog. If challenged by a pimply staff member, your declaration to them that you'll buy their food afterwards is known as a McShit with Lies.

AEROPLANE BLONDE. One who has bleached/dyed her hair but still has a 'black box'.

AUSSIE KISS. Similar to a French Kiss, but given down under.

BEER COAT. The invisible but warm coat worn when walking home at 3am after a booze session.

BEER COMPASS. The invisible device that ensures your safe arrival home after booze session, even though you're too drunk to remember where you live, how you got here, and where you've come from.

BREAKING THE SEAL. Your first pee in the pub, usually after 2 hours of drinking. After breaking the seal of your bladder, repeat visits to the toilet will be required every 10 or 15 minutes for the rest of the night.

GREYHOUND. A very short skirt, only an inch from the hare.

MILLENNIUM DOMES. The contents of a Wonderbra, i.e. extremely impressive when viewed from the outside, but there's actually fuck all in there worth seeing.

MYSTERY BUS. The bus that arrives at the pub on Friday night while you're in the toilet after your 10th pint, and whisks away all the unattractive people so the pub is suddenly packed with stunners when you come back in.

PICASSO BUM. A woman whose knickers are too small for her, so she looks like she's got four buttocks. Similar clothing often seen on the chest of fat girls in Newcastle - the "Picasso Bra".

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Think Once, Think Twice, Think .... Never

This spoof BBC news page that was emailed to me made me laugh, although it's a week out of date. I actually saw the whale ("Celebrity Big Blubber", apparently) by the Houses of Parliament, and recognised it immediately as I had driven my little ship (inadvertently, I hasten to add) amongst a school (pod?) of pilot whales in Lyme Bay about 5 years ago. Unlike dolphins, who love playing in the bow-wave of boats, the whales gave us a stiff ignoring and went to look for Lib-Dem MPs, I guess. After all, everyone knows, dolphins are gay sharks.

BONG. Whale Dies in Thames. BONG. Click on picture for larger image

I have lots of friends who ride motorbikes safely and considerately. However, there's also a fair number out there who seem to be on a suicide mission, and who do not exactly help their standing amongst us 4-wheeled types by putting their headlights on full-beam the entire time. I don't doubt how cool you look on a bike (in fact, I'm rather jealous), but every time I'm tempted to take my CBT (Compulsory Basic Training, which you have to do before you even get on a moped, apparently) I can't help but remember the 2 dead biking friends (actually, 1 is still alive, technically, if you get my meaning) and 3 dead sailors of my acquaintance, all of whom were in road accidents that weren't their fault. To say nothing of the fact my mother would be mortified. So good luck to them all, and damn their eyes for not being able to be caught by the new shiny forward-facing 'TruVelo' speed cameras that Hampshire Police have installed everywhere (no number plate on the front of a bike, see). Good luck, and stay alive, you jammy sods.



In other news - buy a tee-shirt with Latin on it. How very cool (I can imagine Patroclus wearing one). Or buy a Liberal Democrat tee-shirt with an amusingly inappropriate slogan. Like "I want a Hughes one". Or "Oaten So Good". As Finbarr Saunders would say - "yuk yuk tee hee".