L’ autour feint


Leaning carefully forward

            in a sunlit corner

unbinding the frozen dew

            that clings like ivy Continue reading

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Late Developers

Gen DaveI looked at my old school magazine last week, which arrived in the mail. They have obituaries, so you can check up to see if you are dead. Not yet in my case.

My eye caught this, a review of the autobiography of Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, with whom I shared a prep room and with whom I played rugby. But not a classroom – although a little older than me, he was academically in the year behind.

He was always an enthusiast, and has obviously Continue reading

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Down to Earth Claptrap

EarthDayIt was Earth Day last week. Their web site said

It’s our turn to lead – Earth Day’s 45th anniversary – could be the most exciting year in environmental history

 Well, it wasn’t. No big surprise there; ever since the first Earth Day in 1970, they have been coming up with the most sublime drivel. Courtesy of iHateTheMedia, here is a selection of the predictions these people made 45 years ago:

“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.”
• Kenneth Watt, ecologist

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
• George Wald, Harvard Biologist

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist Continue reading

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Pact Out


The 4% Queen in Waiting

The general election in the UK is only about a month away. There used to be two major parties and one minor party. There are now two major parties and three minor parties, not to mention the minnows. They all say that they are not going to do any deals with each other. Which is not surprising. By and large, they hate each other.

But if the Conservative party wants to stay in power, it might make sense for it to do a bit of a rethink. Here is the thing. All the predictions suggest that there is going to be a hung parliament. The Conservatives might just about get the largest share of the vote. And they might just get the largest number of seats. But not enough to form a majority. So a very likely scenario is that the Labour Party will get the support of the SNP, and will form a government. It will be uncomfortable, because Continue reading

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My Left Shoe

IMGP5586Jeanie used to think it bizarre that English men have so many different shoes for different occasions.

I suppose she was right.

Click here for Continue reading

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How Green is my Folly?

ABCNature Climate Change has just published the paper Recent reversal in loss of global terrestrial biomass[1]. The main drift is that the total amount of vegetation globally has increased by almost the equivalent of 4 billion tonnes of carbon since 2003. According to the University of New South Wales:

The main cause of this strong growth over the savannas came from higher rainfall, particularly in recent years, although higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere may have helped plants there to grow more vigorously.

So, let’s just recap. There is only a very small proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere, but that little bit has gone up a bit, and is now some 400ppm. For the innumerate, that means a bit less than a twentieth of a percent (the other 99.96% is mostly oxygen and nitrogen[2]). Plants (the things that vegetarians eat) need CO2 to grow. There is not much available Continue reading

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Low Gear

TGSo. The BBC has fired Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear. The BBC’s Lord Hall said:

Well, yes. So it is a bit hard to see what the BBC has achieved by firing him. Top Gear has been generating about £50 million a year for the BBC. The income is now almost certainly going to be lost, and will presumably now be gathered in by whichever television company hires him, and probably the other Continue reading

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Belt up

seat beltsI was in a mini-bus in Sydney yesterday – on a site inspection. There was a sign inside the bus suggesting that seat belts must be worn.

I do not agree at all. There is nothing wrong with seat belts Continue reading

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Marbles in their head

ElginSo, Greece is bust. It owes Germany lots of money. So, Greece’s idea is to set off its newly-revived claim for wartime reparations. It wants €162 billion. Germany says, “Oh no”. It says there was a deal in 1960 which settled all of those claims. But Greece says that that deal does not stand on its way. This is what Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said about that deal:

 Bilateral Agreement of 1960.

This was when, by its own initiative, it paid 115 million Marks, as reparations, and the (then) Kingdom of Greece acknowledged that there are no further claims to be had. This agreement, however, did not have to do with the reparations that involved the damages suffered by the country, but with the reparations to the victims of Nazism in Greece. And, of course, in no case whatsoever, did it concern the Occupation Loan, or even the claims for reparations given the atrocities of war, the almost-complete destruction of the infrastructure of the country, and the destruction of the economy during the war and the Occupation. Continue reading

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Fringe benefit

arjJust as there is a fringe to the Edinburgh so there is a fringe here in Adelaide, which is on right now.

Last night, Louise and I went to see Arj Barker, who is an American comedian. I had never heard of him before. It was not really my choice; Louise was given the tickets.

Mr Barker may well be typical of the modern generation of comedians. He used the word “motherfucker” dozens of times, and his routine included imaginary conversations with his own penis, fantasies about persuading people to smear themselves with their own excrement, and a lot more such smut. The audience, which was very young, seemed to like it.

It is probably the fault of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, who took obscenity to such Continue reading

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