Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Seasons change

Sometimes it's just nice to appreciate nature without worrying about those trying to control it. Politicians can rant, fake charities can do their worst, the EU can waste our money and destroy our freedoms, but despite their efforts the world keeps turning and the seasons move on.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Online Privacy. - minor update

I have to confess that I quite liked Facebook. It has been a useful tool to keep in touch with friends and family. Recently however it has become annoying. Services and social media have become more intertwined, maybe that’s useful in some circumstances?

My Facebook page is becoming more and more filled with rubbish. Mostly so far this consists of entries along the lines of “XXX has listened to –insert band name – on Spotify, with a link to listen yourself. This is plain annoying but probably harmless.

I wonder how long it will be before everything you do on one service is not just tracked but also openly reported to all the others? Your blog entry, or your comments on blogs, being reported to everyone on Facebook? Maybe some people want this but I certainly don’t, I like to keep my separate interests compartmentalised and my web browsing private.

Therefore I have been playing with a free browser add-on called “Do not Track Plus”. It sits in the control bar and claims to selectively block software trackers from social networks, add agencies and tracking companies. It also reports what it has blocked so you can open the door if you want. The number and scope of the blocklist makes for quite a scary list on some sites.

I have absolutely no connection with the supplying company, I cannot guarantee now effectively it does what it promises but my reader (hello Mum) may want to take a look. The basic service is free (extra services are not, that’s how they make their money). It can be downloaded here. http://www.abine.com/dntdetail.php?

There are some instructions here - from the Mail no less - on how to remove your existing browse history from Google.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Infinite Monkey Theorem

If an infinite number of Met office meteorologists have an infinite number of computer cycles will they ever produce an accurate long range weather forecast?

Answers, consisting of a two letter word beginning with "n", on a postcard........

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Stealth electricity rationing?

Look at any electrical item in the UK and you will see the rating 240V. The supply voltage has been 240 volts for almost as long as I can remember. Not completely as long because I can just remember, as a child, the household trauma and confusion of changing everything from the old DC supply, but it’s been 240 (or often slightly higher) ever since.

Last year, having used most of my old (real) light bulbs and being unable to read a book comfortably under one of the useless new mercury vapour dispensers, I refitted some rooms with halogen fittings and scraped together a supply of a few real bulbs for where they were needed. Success, I could read again!

The last couple of weeks however the lights have again seemed dim, even the new fluorescent in the utility room  flickers for 5 minutes after switch on before becoming almost (but not quite) stable. So I dug out my trusty Chinese voltmeter to find the mains voltage was reading 231 volts. Voltage reductions because of high demand in the cold weather are not unknown but have been quite rare over the past couple of decades. This is not a ‘brownout’ as such, but enough to make lights not quite as bright as they should be.

Then I looked up what the voltage should be, and guess what? The standard voltage across the EU has been ‘harmonised’. Quite a bit of the continent was 220 volts, we were 240 volts, so the EU has standardised on 230 volts. Apparently it isn’t an instant change because even the EU realise it would involve a huge cost in transmission equipment. They have allowed a margin so the UK can use 240 while 220 remains in use on parts of the continent and all stay within legal limits. One can only assume however that any new networks or the 200billion 'supergrid' they want to build to enable windfarms to be properly integrated will operate at the harmonised voltage.

But isn’t it convenient that as we enter an era of fuel poverty created by politically insane low carbon policies the UK power authorities can drop the voltage without breaking the rules or having to make any excuses because officially the supply is only 230 volts, not the 240 volts we are used to..

Friday, 10 February 2012

All energy is Free

I doubt that I am alone in becoming fed up to the back teeth at hearing that wind energy is free. 

Of course it is, but only in the sense that we don’t have to pay the wind to blow. The costs are those of extraction and distribution, and extraction in particular is expensive, the build cost is extremely high per unreliable megawatt produced and the ongoing maintenance costs are high even ignoring the desecration to the  countryside. Proponents like to class the maintenance as ‘green jobs’, but this is a gross misrepresentation, they are maintenance overheads which don’t earn the economy a penny.

They might just as well instruct all job seekers to stop using household appliances and do all cleaning and washing by hand on the basis this would create jobs. Nonsense of course, because a job created by virtue of simply choosing a less efficient method to achieve the end result is not a productive job, it’s just poor efficiency or make-workThe economic gains and lessons of the modern age put into reverse.

Yet these same people who that claim wind is free will use the cost of oil and gas as a counterargument. But hang on! Coal, oil and gas are just as free as the wind. Miners don’t throw money down a hole to make oil or coal come back up. The cost, exactly as with wind, is the cost of extraction. (As is the case with all minerals and metals unless the price is distorted by shortages and traders).

It may be that there are foreign governments involved slicing off a share before selling imported energy like oil on to us, but with wind power there are foreign companies building, maintaining and selling the meagre wind energy back to us. The only real difference is that wind infrastructure is in the UK, messing up our countryside, rather than somewhere in Asia messing up theirs.

So what if there was plenty of energy resource here in the UK that didn’t require huge investment or ugly infrastructure, enough for all our power needs for the next 50 years. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to use it? Significantly cut the energy cost to industry and to people, reduce balance of payments with the rest of the world and boost the economy, all at absolutely no cost to the taxpayer.
Well there is! Recent finds now estimate enough shale gas under County Fermanagh to power Northern Ireland for decades. There is enough gas under Blackpoolto power the UK for most of the next generation’s needs. There are huge deposits now being investigated under Scotland’s central belt. Of course it’s not risk free, absolutely no activity is ever risk free, including windmills, now shown to affect weather downstream of windfarms.  

Shale gas doesn’t even have a grossly worse CO2 footprint (for those beguiled people that still believe in the CO2 monster) and it's relatively clean burning. So why are our politicians so determined to ignore such a gift from nature? If your family was in debt and struggling to pay the bills then you discovered buried treasure in your garden would you decide not to dig it up?

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Where did these idiots go to school?

So here we go again. I sit here looking out the windows at the snow and sleet falling on the frozen ground and the warmists are prattling on about this being caused by global warming! Claiming this is what they expected due to the loss of sea ice exposing the ocean.

No! This is not what they expected. What they expected, and what they claimed would happen was that the world would get warmer. Our children would never know ice and snow. We would be living in a land of droughts and hurricanes while the encroaching rising sea ate away at our coastal towns. Some even suggested that I might be able to enjoy my dotage with a winter-free climate more like the Mediterranean, I was rather looking forward to that.

Anyone with half a brain can understand that this is weather. It’s winter at the moment, and winter brings cold spells because that’s what winter does. I confidently expect later in the year it will be warmer, the time we often call ‘summer’ in this part of the world. That won’t be caused by global warming or Co2 either.

But weather is temporary, and localised and variable what is very clear is that for two winters running we have experienced record breaking cold in the UK and across Europe. That too could be explained as weather, but when we add the record cold spells experienced in India, China,  Russia, the USA it seems very obvious that it isn’t just ‘weather’. It’s a trend, even if not yet long enough to be defined as climate. A trend towards extreme cold over a large area cannot be caused by slightly increasing heat in a small area, they may have a theory but it seriousl lacks the test of having any sort of sense.

So will someone in the government, or the UN, or the EU please explain why they want to kill off even more of the old and vulnerable with even greater cooling by using low carbon supply generation that also makes power more expensive and unaffordable for the poor.