Blogging catch up

Not been blogging for a wee while due to the Christmas break, so I thought I’d do a quick catch up on some issues I haven’t commented on.

Weather cuts
You may have noticed that the weather is a little stormy at the moment, as we’ve seen a succession of storms hitting the UK. Indeed I had to fly back to the UK through one of them and it was something of an “Indiana Jones” flight. Oddly enough the nipper a few rows up stopped crying and seemed to enjoy all the bumping and jumping around as the plane landed, ignorance is bliss!

Anyway, you would think the government would be looking at bolstering spending to ensure less disruption next time the winter weather turns nasty. Actually the Tories are looking to make significant cutbacks into the budget of the environment agency and “hundreds” of those who gave up their Christmas to see the country through the crisis will be getting a pink slip as they’re new year’s gift.

That said, its long been known that the Tory party was a den for loony climate change deniers, so one wonders if this is them hoping that by shooting the messenger, the message won’t arrive. Presumably their “big society” will magically clear the roads of fallen trees and rescue people from rising flood waters.

Did anyone say climate change?
Of course whenever weather events like this occur, many turn to the issue of climate change as a possible explanation. While I would be the first to note the difference between “weather” and “climate” and the unreliability of linking any event between the two. Certainly a long term prediction of climatologists was that climate change would lead to the UK’s weather becoming more stormy and wetter.

This is inevitable, as warmer water’s further south in the Atlantic is the engine that drives most storms, leading to increased rainfall in our part of the world. Or indeed rather ironically, more snow in winter (if that rain happens to arrive in the UK the same time as a cold snap from the east).

Indeed as I’m either travelling between the UK and Ireland at this time of year or trying to climb mountains. I have to say that my experience is that stormy weather this time of year isn’t that unusual. What’s different this year is the storms seem to be that much worse than normal and while typically its my experience that most miss the UK and either head off into the North sea or scrape across Scotland (meaning the media never report it) every single one this year seems to have gone bang across the middle of the country. Although this is hardly a scientific anaylsis I’ll admit.

However, as pointed out in the Spectator magazine (of all places) we can’t just pass the buck and blame climate change for this one, even if it is just part of a long term trend. Cuts, both those already made and planned (as mentioned) have to be blamed for the disruption. After all scientists have been warning of such weather events for some time and it’s not as if this is the first time we’ve had flooding in the country.

The whole point of governments the Tories don’t get is that they are supposed to be there and keep the lights on as it were, even if this means spending money which it appears to be wasteful (by for example having all these gritters ready to go, even if we get a run of winters without much snow).

In the corporate world, if a company cuts back its budgets too much to the point where it gets overwhelmed by a sudden crisis and goes bankrupt, this is part of the normal business cycle. But when the instruments of state fall apart (e.g. the roads/rails get blocked, the power goes off, the mail doesn’t arrive, hospitals shut, etc.) the whole country stops and we can’t very well shut the UK down and reopen the country under a different name!

And if the climate scientists are even half right then what we’re now seeing could be the new normal in a few decades.

Snow trolling
Speaking of weather, tis the season for that favourite right wing pastime – snow trolling. This is where climate deniers come out with statements along the lines of “its snowing outside, thus global warming mustn’t be happening”. Or “there’s ice in the Antarctica, thus global warming can’t be happening”.

The following post from climatecrocks addresses these points. But in short, as noted, there is a difference between “weather” and “climate”. And cold weather in the Northern hemisphere is not by any means unusual this time of year, nor is ice in Antarctica at any time of the year.

There are charts and data available which tracks global temperatures, and the thickness of ice both in the Arctic and Antarctic and all show the thickness of ice sheets, particularly those onshore in the Antarctic (crucial as melting of these will lead to sea level rise) are thinning as well as recent rises in global temperatures (and no warming didn’t “stop” in 1997). Notably another record high in Australia.

In short all that deniers succeed in demonstrating is their own ignorance of the subject, their inability to do something as simple as draw and correctly interpret a graph and why we’re best left leaving this matter to the experts….well at least until Cameron sacks um all!

Nick Griffin bankrupt
It would seem that “nasty” Nick Griffin of the BNP has recently declared bankruptcy. While he and his mob of thugs party are trying to keep a brave face on it, it would seem that this bankruptcy is in part due to a variety of issues, ranging from financial mismanagement and the cost of litigation related to the party’s “white’s only” policy.

Of course one could argue that the BNP has been morally bankrupt for quite some time!

Previously, an MP (or MEP) who fell into bankruptcy was automatically bared from standing for office (the logic being that such an individual had clearly demonstrated he couldn’t be trusted with public funds and of course the possibly his financial position might make him susceptible to bribery). However those rules were changed recently, so in theory he could stand for election again.

But certainly it does push the BS barrier the likes of him suckling off a fat EU salary (Nigel Farrage too) while complaining about the EU and immigrants when it’s the latter two who pay his salary! And naturally this bankruptcy crisis within the BNP doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in their ability to handle money properly.

Thatcher’s Legacy
Speaking of right wing nut cases, we have revelations about what was really going on under Thatcher’s government.

One of the thorny issues regarding the miners strike has always been to what extend did her government plan to close down pits. When Scargill claimed that the Thatcher government planned to closed down nearly all of the pits, even in areas that currently seemed to be safe, many thought he’d gone a bit potty and was merely using the risk to a small number of uneconomic pits as an excuse to stir up trouble. Thus even within the mining unions, he did not enjoy universal support.

Of course hindsight would suggest (indeed the bulk of UK mines did close down under Thatcher and Major governments) that he wasn’t far wrong. But we now have confirmation that indeed, yes much of what Scargill said at the time was accurate, Thatcher did plan to close far more pits than they claimed at the time. Had this been known back at the start of the strike, it would likely have received much greater support, both within the coal mining unions as well as others unions and there’s a good chance it would have succeeded in its goals, quite possibly bringing down Thatcher’s government, much like the previous strike in 1974 brought down the Heath government.

Evidence has also emerged that Thatcher planned to deploy the army against miners and that the police may have falsified evidence against the miners.

Also we have revelations regarding Northern Ireland. Generally it is the view in Ireland that a major obstacle to peace was Thatcher, largely due to her ideological commitment to the unionists (or indeed her outright stubbornness). Thus, the peace process was essentially put on hold until John Major took over. Even though, quite ironically, he depended on Unionists votes to maintain the Tory majority

Thatcher by contrast provoked an escalating tit-for-tat war with the Republicans, with her not giving in to the hunger strikers, which provoked retaliation in the form of attacks on the UK mainland, including an attempt to assassinate her by the IRA (which to be fair was hardly likely to endear her towards a peaceful solution). Indeed, its likely she would have gone a lot further (she once talked about emulating Cromwell’s actions) had she not been restrained by the mechanisms of governments.

Blatter problems
The corrupt egomaniac head of world football, is upset with the amount of diving going on in football. Certainly sometimes many a match reminds me of a ballet performance with many “swanlake dives” being performed, the guy rolls around on the ground and is practically being given the last rites, yet as soon as he’s carried to the edge of the pitch or the person who put in a tackle (miles away from him) is booked, he’s back to life in manner of recovery unseen since Jesus did his party trick many Easter’s ago.

Anyway the proposal is to include some sort of time penalty. That if a player goes off injured he has to stay off until a certain period of time has passed. As its hoped this will discourage diving.

I’ve an alternative proposal – the sugarplum fairy award. This will be a prize for the best diver of the league. The “winner” of this award will be required to play the following season dressed in a ballerina costume complete with a pink dress and slippers and give an acrobatic twirl at the request of away fans. That’ll learn’em! Here’s a couple of nominee’s for the first award.

But seriously, here’s a proposal, why not go after the root cause? The reason why there is diving is that with so much money riding on the outcome of a football match, its all too tempting for players to want to cheat. So why not put a wage cap on the premier league players.

The Italian league shows where things are heading. It started off with diving and harmless theatrics, and now a few years later corruption has reached such epidemic levels that some are talking about suspending the Italian league for a few years.

Video killed the TV star
Charley Brooker‘s look at the history of video games was an interesting watch over Christmas. One theme that was all to present was the issue of violence within video games. Certainly, I would question whether it’s gone beyond the limits of taste in some cases (never was a fan of Carmgeddon or GTA).

However these modern day Marry Whitehouse types take the biscuit. Such as the irony of the NRA trying to link violent video games with spree shootings. After all in the Korea or Japan video games are practically the national sport, yet they don’t have a trend of spree shootings. One would be forgiven for asking if the real reason has something to do with the easy availability of guns.

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