Category Archives: Uncategorized

Papas

The_Two_Popes_posterNot being a fan at all of religion, either neo-religion as in climate change alarmism or traditional religion as in the Catholic Church, I was not remotely expecting to enjoy the movie The Two Popes. I only started watching it at the suggestion of my darling Louise.

But much to my surprise, it was brilliant. The two somewhat ageing Welsh actors – Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce – were superb as the German Pope Benedict and the Argentinian Pope Francis.

It all just goes to show that with a really good screenplay, compelling acting, skilful music, costumes etc pretty much any old guff by way of plot is enough Continue reading

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Fuel

cat in microwave 2It will have escaped no one’s notice that the recent fires in Australia have been particularly widespread this year. Unhappily, a couple of dozen people have been killed, and although this number is much smaller than the many who have been killed by the anomalously cold weather in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan during the same period, it is a couple of dozen too many.

The fires are of course useful fuel for climate alarmists, who want to push the narrative that there is some sort of emergency whereby carbon dioxide emissions will cause us all to fry sometime soon. Thus, Greta Thunberg wrote in a tweet on 22nd December:

Not even catastrophes like these seem to bring any political action. How is this possible? Because we still fail to make the connection between the climate crisis and increased extreme weather events and nature disasters like the #AustraliaFires That’s what has to change. Now.

Likewise, Tim Flanney, a man with a formidable reputation for getting things wrong, says that it is “immoral not to connect the dots” in this way.

The evidence, however, is unremittingly against this analysis. New South Wales, where the fires first took a grip, has had a hot spell, for sure, but not exceptionally so Continue reading

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Citizenship

 

armsI will be sworn in as an Australian citizen on 26th January.

The local council, who do the swearing thing, have asked for “a brief couple of paragraphs with your history as where you have come from and why you have chosen to settle in the Yankalilla District. This information will be used to introduce you to the community.”

My paragraphs are as follows:

My grandfather James Elliott was a Queenslander and my grandmother Gwendolyn Manton was a South Australian. They moved to England for my grandfather’s work, my father Dennis was born in England, and that is where I was brought up. Around my grandfather’s Sunday lunch table in London, I regularly met family and friends from Australia, and indeed other parts of the Commonwealth.

I moved to Australia some years ago after a career in the law, based in London but often requiring travel around the world.

I chose my present home, on the hill above Myponga Beach, because it was then permissible to take my dog Perdita for a run on the beach at the end of the day’s work, and until the present dog ban was introduced, that daily ritual was the greatest pleasure of living here.

I am retaining my UK citizenship, so will have dual nationality. Unhappily, dogs are now banned from running on the beach (it seems they frighten the foxes which eat the local hooded plovers), so neither I nor Continue reading

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Predictions for 2030

 

NostradamusIt is New Year’s Day, 2020. The newspapers are replete with remarks about the way the last decade went. Few are unwise enough to make predictions about the way the coming decade will unfold. But hey ho. Someone has to do it.

Looking back at predictions that other people have made in the past, a couple of themes emerge. The first is that predictions of impending catastrophe almost always turn out to be groundless. There is obviously something about the human psyche which is attracted, in some way, to notions of terrible times ahead. And so if you are straining in your seats waiting for awful predictions, take a step backwards.

Secondly, even when predictions are more or less right, they tend to overestimate rates of change. By and large, things happen in the world pretty slowly, and probably rather more slowly than they did century or so ago.

Trying to keep these thoughts in mind, here is my brief time capsule, to be opened in 10 years’ time. It would be hopeless to expect that they will all be right.

 

Global warming

My guess is that there will be Continue reading

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The True Cost of Renewables

Who speaks

Who speaks for the people who need affordable electricity?

I have been challenged by a friend of mine in one of our jolly Facebook banters to provide “peer-reviewed citations” for the proposition that renewable energy is more expensive than conventional energy. This turns out to be surprisingly tricky, not because the proposition is wrong, but because it is hard to put the issue in a nutshell, and even harder to keep it there.

Let me say at once that I am not at all against renewable energy. If I lived on Tristan da Cunha, I might well think that a wind turbine was a great idea.[1] And hydro is great if you happen to live near a large damable river. I have solar panels on my own roof, with a battery in the garage.[2]

So let’s rule out hydro, geothermal, crowding round a lighted match and all the other small players. In the renewables corner, we have solar generation and wind turbines. In the conventional corner, we have burning hydrocarbons (coal, oil and gas). Let’s leave out nuclear as well the time being; we don’t want people getting excited. , geothermal hydro

Even with that simplification, counting the comparative cost of renewables and conventional power is not easy. Are we talking about the cost of Continue reading

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Where is the Bus?

busWhen Brexit won the 2016 referendum, the flopsie remoaners complained that it was only because of lies. In particular, they focused on the Brexit campaign bus which gave the gross UK weekly contribution, when they thought it should have been the net figure, after deduction of what the EU spends in the UK.

Boris Johnson has just won a considerable majority in the general election. The flopsies will not like that at all. They will want to say the election was stolen by lies.

But this time, there is no very obvious bus.

My guess is that Continue reading

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A Whiff of Musk

VernonVernon Unsworth, the British cave diver who was instrumental in saving the lives of a Thai football team trapped in a cave, has lost his libel action against Elon Musk. Elon Musk had referred to Unsworth as a “pedo guy” on Twitter, and later tweeted: “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true”.

As it happens, Vernon Unsworth is not a paedophile at all, and it might be thought that his action in defamation was something of a sure-fire winner. Musk’s defence was that when he called Unsworth a pedo, he didn’t literally mean that Unsworth was a pedo.

No, he just meant that Unsworth was a tosser.

Not that he was accusing Unsworth of masturbation either. He was just saying that Unsworth was a moron.

And no, he wasn’t accusing Unsworth of intellectual impairment either.

It turns out that, in the general stock of insults, people don’t generally Continue reading

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Climate change – what happened to the Isle of Oxney?

old_mapWhen I was a child, my maternal grandmother retired to Littlestone, on the Kent coast. The nearest town was New Romney, which used to be a thriving port not so very long ago. I recall seeing the metal rings that the ships used to tie up to on the harbour wall.

Not any more.

And what about the Isle of Oxney, just up the road? That is completely gone.

The ravages of climate change? Swamped by rising sea level?

Just the Continue reading

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Middle Agitprop

middlemarchOn the radio, the BBC has been running a dramatisation of George Eliot’s Middlemarch. It is a long time since I last read the novel. Putting a story of everyday provincial life on the radio, with different actors playing each character, inevitably reminds one just a little of a 19th-century version of The Archers Omnibus. Hey ho.

And there is something else.

As the narrative descends from the sunny uplands of Jane Austen to the dreary back alleys of Zola, so George Eliot’s subtle wit is replaced by the whining drone of Continue reading

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Killing for a Browser

My eye was caught by this amusing bit of nonsense on Facebook:

Internet explorer v murder

Curious, I had a quick look at murder rates, and they confirm the popular belief that the murder rate in the United States has been, throughout the last hundred years or so, much higher than in other first world countries. The stats also show that murder rates in the United States have been Continue reading

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