England in winter

Jan 9, 2010 | | 0 comments |

Ah yes. Global warming. We can all thank it for the warmer, drier winters. The balmy winter days, where people can go outside without needing coats. The early spring and late autumn that a warmer climate affords us. Oh wait - I forgot. That's a load of crap. This photo is the UK, taken yesterday, with more snow than it's had in the last 20 years. Which, oddly enough, is the last time it was this cold and snowy. Part of the 20 year cycle, which of course has nothing to do with the corresponding 20 year cycle of solar activity. No - pitiful humans are responsible for that, apparently.

I still fail to understand why the republicans are so mortally terrified of Obama.

Jan 5, 2010 | | 2 comments |

I was sent a video clip by a colleague today which continues the fearmongering from the republican camp. (http://tinyurl.com/yc7dns6)

The state of Detroit is nothing to do with state dependence, conservatism, liberalism or any of the other topics or "entitlement" programs that this 'reporter' blames it on. It's to do with a city that placed all its eggs in one basket in the motor industry, then stood by and watched as the big three motor companies were overtaken by poor management, terrible cars, and the inability to adapt to changing times and conditions.

If it was to do with a particular government, or program, then by that reporters way of thinking, probably 40% of countries in the world would look like Detroit simply because they have democratic / liberal governments.

True GM did offer more 'green' vehicles than the Japanese importers, but the difference is reliability, image and customer service. Any independent review will show you reliability ratings for US cars, coupled with how badly US car manufacturers treat their customers and their products in follow-up service and support. (compared to Japanese manufacturers)

Top 10 cars in the US? Sure the top selling vehicle (not car) was the Ford F-series but the whole list shows the whole story. The top selling CAR was Japanese (but made in America). The only American CAR to make it into the top 10 was the Ford Fusion - built in Canada I believe.

1.Ford F-Series: 179,632
2.Toyota Camry: 150,242
3.Chevrolet Silverado: 149,949
4.Honda Accord: 131,043
5.Toyota Corolla: 121,643
6.Honda Civic: 118,459
7.Nissan Altima: 96,428
8.Dodge Ram: 94,516
9.Ford Fusion: 85,146
10.Honda CR-V: 78,917

The only part of that report that in any way makes sense is the union involvement and their wholesale destruction of the motor industry, and by association, Detroit.

The same thing happened in England in the north with the shipbuilding industry. Two of the biggest cities in the north penned all their hopes on shipbuilding, and have since become Detroit-like. Why? The South Koreans started to build ships cheaper and faster and the UK shipbuilders refused to try to compete. Restrictive and expensive trade union practices (from the TGWU - transport and general workers union), especially pay differentials between workers doing different jobs, combined with frequent strikes, made British shipbuilding firms prohibitively uncompetitive and unreliable. To finish it off, the government (in this case Republican / Labor) sold off two of the companies to Germany and Sweden (Harland/Wolf, and Voss). Not only that, but they sold off the operators too - Cunard and White Star, for example are now owned by the Germans.

As an example of how it should be done, look at the UAE. They realise very clearly that the money from oil is going to run out. That's why Dubai has so many business centres there now, and tourist attractions, and world-class colleges and schools. They're planning for the future, even if they are bankrupting themselves doing it. Which is unfortunate because it does rather undermine my point, but pressing on regardless.....

I still fail to understand why the republicans are so mortally terrified of Obama.

History speaks volumes but nobody seems to want to listen. The unemployment rate for example. Look at the monthly rate here: http://www.miseryindex.us/urbymonth.asp
See a pattern? It goes up every time republicans get in, followed by a leveling out about 2 years after they leave, then it begins to decline under democratic leadership. When republicans get in again, the decline levels off after about 2 years and the rate begins to rise again.
3.9% when Bush Jnr took office. 7.2% when he left.
5.3% when Bush Snr took office. 7.4% when he left.
Go back further. 3.4% when Nixon took office, 7.8% when Ford left - two consecutive Republican presidents.
2.7% when Eisenhower took office, 6.6% when he left.
America's overall prosperity very closely follows the unemployment rate, and only once in the past 100 years has the unemployment rate dropped under republican leadership - Reagan through Bush Snr. Every other time, it's gone up with Republicans, and come down with Democrats. Similarly the country has declined and prospered at roughly the same rate.

Look at the inflation rate (http://www.miseryindex.us/irbymonth.asp) - same thing is true - almost every hike/bump in inflation corresponds with Republican presidents.

At the extreme end of the scale, look at wars or invasions instigated at the hands of Republican presidents in the last few decades:
Afghanistan and Iraq - GW Bush.
Persian Gulf War - Bush Snr.
Panama - Bush Snr.
Grenada - Reagan.
Korea and Vietnam - Eisenhower.
We can't consider Bosnia because it was NATO-led with US involvement as oppose to US-instigated. The last Democrat-instigated invasion or war was the Bay Of Pigs in Cuba in 1961 under JFK and I could probably argue that that was the only one that was a clear and present danger to the US because of the actual proximity to our shores.

Given those basic history lessons, if we're tarring political leaders with the same brush as the entire party, then the American public should be justly terrified of the Republicans, not the Democrats. If for no other reason than they don't seem able to tell the difference between democratic liberalism and communism.

Look - Obama has inherited a scorched-earth policy left to him by 8 years of GW Bush. Nobody can deny that. There's sure not going to be any reasonable sign of improvement in the first year and frankly I would doubt we'll see anything in the second year. If we're still in the crapper in 4 or 8 years time, I'll reconsider, but history is on his side. Give the guy another 3 years and see what happens.

Handing victory to those with bad intentions

Jan 4, 2010 | | 1 comments |

There's an interesting message in the events of the last couple of weeks. Act suspicious, and you'll score a victory for wannabe terrorists everywhere.
The crotchbomber proved this. Three heads of state went on TV. The TSA clamped down on airport "security" even further. And the press and media just went crazy.

I consider it grossly irresponsible of the world's media to report on stuff like this in the way they do. The crotchbomber incident could simply have been reported like this:

"Following some unrest with an unruly passenger earlier today, a flight to Detroit landed without incident."

Instead, CNN's headline: "Terrorist detonates bomb on US-bound flight". (which was wrong in just about every way).

Those 6 words were all the crotchbomber wanted to see. As soon as a major news outlet does something like that, we've lost the battle. What CNN effectively did was publicly congratulate Al Qaeda for disrupting our way of life again.

Every time we clamp down airport security, put concrete barriers in front of government buildings or suffer disgraces like the Patriot Act, it's a 21-gun salute of congratulations to terrorist the world over. We have to basically get naked before we can get into an airport now, and we're not allowed to take any meaningful amount of liquids or gels on flights - all as a result of media and government hysteria.

The problem is, of course, that airport security is just a cruel joke - a theater spectacle designed to irritate and annoy travelers. It has no real security function. The alleged shoe bomber, the alleged binary liquid bomber and now the crotchbomber have all proved that quite conclusively. In each case, it wasn't airport security, or even airline crew that prevented the incident - it was the passengers.

Why do we have to go through all the indecency at airports anyway? Why not just employ dogs to roam around the check-in lines, and if they smell anything suspicious, that person is singled out for secondary screening. Rapiscan's body scanners wouldn't have found the alleged explosive type that the crotchbomber used, but a dog would have. I mean America uses dogs to prevent people from importing fruit in their luggage - surely sniffing for explosives is a more productive use than sniffing for contraband apples?

The cynic in me says we need to follow the money on this latest one. It's not outside the realm of possibility that Rapiscan or one of the other manufacturers of full-body scanners is ultimately behind this. It sounds like a James Bond plot but in today's corrupt business society, nothing would surprise me.

The answer to this latest clampdown is simple - civil disobedience. Everyone must insist on a pat-down instead of using the new body scanners that will inevitably be forced upon us. When the TSA are forced to pat-down every passenger, and the security lines are 2 hours long then trust me - "security" will be stepped down again. Just like it was when the security lines got too long because of the introduction of the puffer/sniffer machines.

Personally, I like the chart that Gizmodo created - it rather perfectly illustrates the stupidity of the press and reaction:

14,480 vertical feet.

Jan 3, 2010 | | 0 comments |

Another great morning skiing today. The snow was perfect, the weather was clear and crisp and my skiing was good. We're so spoiled living where we do.