Number of the Month

September  2007

Something in the air

Is it destined to become a feature of the silly season for ever more? Our man in Puerto Rico has noticed another outbreak of airborne generators. The air-headed ones that gave rise to the appellation enginasters are back again. We last drew attention to this version a year ago and also commented on its likelihood of success. Up it pops again, but this time it has sprouted a “vast” aluminium cable. Perhaps by next year it will have also developed an electrical insulating material.

Then there are the voltaic cells stuck onto a helium balloon. Even without the cable problem this is a seriously daft idea. There is only one point on a sphere where the surface is orthogonal to rays from a given direction. Those on the side of the light are subject to a diminution of intensity according to the cosine law. Those on the dark side are, well, in the dark. Anyway, why do the want their devices up aloft? Is it to get above the clouds, or is it to make a marginal reduction in atmospheric attenuation?

Altogether now (to the tune of Nuts in May)

Tell us how much does the cable weigh?
The cable weigh?
The cable weigh?
Tell us how much does the cable weigh?
Before we invest in the damned thing.

When do we actually get to see a prototype? After all we have been reporting on this one for six years. And by the way, whatever happened to Steorn? That one was big in last year's silly season.

Footnote: Correspondents have drawn attention in this context to the Laddermill. This resulted from a multidisciplinary student project. Unfortunately, it illustrates the dangers of simplistic computer modelling. In the real world you do not get steady one dimensional winds, but three dimensional gusts. The structure is clearly unstable, with low resistance to twisting and snaking; so, even if they could ever get it up, it would soon end up in a tangle on the ground to the detriment of anyone who happened to be standing within the radius.

The damned liars!

We should all join in with the Englishman’s indignation at the latest con by the Greenie movement and the complicity of the media in it, coupled with the revelation that green taxes have provided an undue bonanza for the spendthrift Government. Even the Telegraph has a ludicrously dishonest headline Atlas reveals how global warming has changed the world. The online version is quite different from the printed one, which shows the shrinking of the Aral Sea in four stages, but the last picture is from 2004, thereby missing the results of correcting decades of Soviet mismanagement. The real story can be found here, for example.

Footnote: Dennis Ambler (always a fount of valuable comment here as well as there) adds further evidence of the widespread deception at The Castle.

Not that old fraud again!

The diet zealots are going full tilt at the moment and they have just launched a campaign based on one of the oldest fallacies in the book. It is known by various names, such as the endpoint fallacy, and involves choosing a comparison date that maximises the effect they are claiming to show. In 1951 the British had endured more than a decade of starvation. Rationing under the post-war Labour government was even harsher than it had been during the war. It was known as the Age of Austerity. The Government had borrowed heavily and, instead of using the money to restore our ability to pay our way, had spent it on setting up a bureaucracy complete with an army of snoopers (plus ça change!). Women in the streets were pathetic, saggy breasted, skinny creatures in thin cotton dresses, raddled old bags by the time they were thirty.

So, to justify the headline End of the hourglass, which year does the Daily Mail use as a basis of comparison to “prove” that women are now all fatties? No need to ask!

02/09/07

The new Kremlinology

In Fulton , Missouri in1946, Winston Churchill announced that an iron curtain had descended across Europe . Earlier, in a 1939 radio broadcast, he had described the Soviet Union as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. These two factors led to the rise of a new academic discipline, which became known as Kremlinology. Specialists tried to guess what was going on inside the Soviet government by analysing external signals, which is rather like trying to gauge a person’s deepest thoughts by measuring residual electrical signals on the scalp.

Those days are passed and Russia now poses a different set of problems; yet a similar problem has cropped up in another place. A public servant has been instrumental in creating a world-wide scare, based on experimental data, which has in turn created a multi-billion dollar industry that is sucking the life out of national economies. He is known to be adjusting the original data, but refuses to give any details as to how he makes those adjustments or on what basis. How he does this in a country that proudly boasts “freedom of information” is just a collateral mystery. So, something like a new Kremlinology has arisen: we might call it “Hansenology”. A group of clever people are spending their spare time in trying to deduce just what these data manipulations have been from the known outputs and presumed inputs. If you have the constitution and appetite for obsessive detail read on.

Link to this piece

The road to ruin (via Brussels )

This piece in the Washington Post (via JunkSience.com) prompted a surge of recognition in your bending author, who has a window into the Brussels dream world by being on the circulation list of the European Parliament Newsletter. They discuss all sorts of things – regulation, taxation, bans etc. What they never seem to discuss is wealth creation. New laws are trotted out by anonymous Green Eurocrats, based more on religious conviction than any form of evidence-based logic, which seem to have the common effect of stultifying any remnants of economic growth. Even when they take up a cause such as competition they manage to do it in such a way that it stifles local economies and still produces virtual monopolies by companies with links in Brussels . Green-inspired diktats, such as the REACH directive, force European companies to give their industrial secrets away to competitors in far more favourable business environments.

Their most recent coup is to force British Citizens into time-wasting rituals of garbage sorting, all based on a methane scare that is even more bizarre than their favourite carbon dioxide one. As in so many cases, British politicians play down the fact that this is due to an EU directive – the opposition like to blame in on the Government, while pretending that they would not be obliged to obey should their turn come. The Government like to pretend that they are in control, while simultaneously seeking to give away the last remnants of power democratically granted to them by the electorate. Not only are old industries dying, but the creation of new ones is suppressed by the growing downward pressure of regulation. You can no longer start a future industrial giant in your garage: various regulatory authorities will be down on you before you have had time to raise an invoice.

Yet there is an all-pervading Panglossian enthusiasm that blinds itself to the approaching economic disaster. Ordinary people can see it, which is why they are to be denied their say by referendum, having roundly defeated any further encroachments upon their democratic rights when given the opportunity. Only the political and administrative classes cry “Ever onward!” as they lead the march to the economic precipice.

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Spot the missing number

Thanks to the correspondence in our Forum here is an extract from the IEEE paper about the flying generator:

B. Weights and Costs

For cost illustration purposes, we use a 100 MW array,
comprised of 3.4 MW FEGs. The cost estimates are based on
250 FEGs/year production rate assuming prior production of
150 FEGs, in accordance with NREL guidelines [20].
A 3.4 MW platform-rated craft is estimated to weigh
21,000 lbs (9500 kg) and cost $1,360,000. Adding ground
systems and production profits brings the total to $2,260,000
per 3.4 MW. The balance of station costs for the 100 MW
array, including site preparation, facilities and equipment,
spare parts and construction is $4,210,000. Taken together
these initial capital costs come to $71,200,000 per 100 MW.

Hint: sing the rhyme.

Footnote: We neglect, of course, the question of aerodynamic stability. Imagine a housefly trained to hold up a human hair about one metre long in the gusting wind. Then imagine an array of same. Chinese kite fights would have nothing on that.

Footnote to the footnote: Fair enough! Your bending author is rather obsessive about electrical insulation, having written a PhD thesis on the subject over forty years ago. Exposure at such a tender age to the statistics of extremes is bound to have an effect. Designing and fabricating a high voltage cable is difficult enough at the best of times, but this “tether” is not going to be sitting in comfortable trench or on the sea bed. It is going to be thrashing about in the wind, struck by megavolts of lightning whenever a cumulonimbus passes, etched away by corona from rather ordinary clouds and subjected to a mechanical fatigue test throughout its working life. You only need one defect in the thousands of metres, such as a gaseous void or a sliver of metal and the system is condemned. Apart from the weight problem, the cost of  such a component is likely to dwarf all others,

04/09/07

On being a moron

See the happy moron,
He doesn't give a damn!
I wish I were a moron.
My God! Perhaps I am!

Eugenics Review, July 1929

Don Marquis wrote that publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting to hear the echo. The internet is not like that. Web site hit statistics give links to what people are saying about your offerings.

Naturally, when you indulge in polemic you expect, and indeed enjoy, robust counter-arguments. Unfortunately, these are increasingly rare. Unlike the Establishment Media, the web is a demotic place; and so be it. When you launch a contentious essay (such as religion) into the world, you get a spectrum of responses from all parts of the bell curve. There is a wide range of praise and damnation, such as here at Small Dead Animals. It is reassuring that there are still some who show the ability to marshal arguments in a logical sequence, eschew dogma and understand the rules of English grammar and punctuation (which, unlike its spelling are entirely logical). At the other extreme are those who think that a derangement of Anglo-Saxon epithets provides a cover for an inadequate vocabulary and, of course, there are all stages in between. Is it just subjective prejudice or does one side of the general argument come out of it rather better than the other in these terms? The fascinating aspect of all this is that the writers reveal more about themselves than they do about their targets.

Here is an entertaining contribution from the above collection by one going under the nom de guerre of Throbbin: 

I understand what Bagnell was trying to say - as another attempt to soothe the climate change deniers. His rant is so laden with convoluted, contradictory, stupid assertions that I won't even address it, you guys have fun though. Theres a reason most people in the world understand that Human induced climate change is a reality. And don't try to think of yourselves as the minority vanguard of truth and the scientific process, under siege by the mindless enviro-dhimmi-surrender-monkey-communists. You may pat each other on the back, but the world is laughing at you. John Brignell is a moron to boot - he doesn't actually believe that 2nd hand smoke causes lung cancer, and actually fought the EPA over it. Sounds like another Fred Singer to me. 5 minutes on Google, and you can find out just what kind of person Bignell is - like I said, you guys enjoy your champions, they are becoming increasingly rare and illegitimate.

Interesting word, moron. It used to have a precise meaning (if memory serves, a mental age of under twelve). Now like so many things in modern life it is so larded with political correctness that it has virtually no meaning at all, other than as a term of abuse.

Moron or not, it is something of an achievement, after all that effort, to have established the fact in the mind of such a recipient that one does not believe. Gratuitous abuse, non sequiturs and other garbled logic are part of the price we have to pay for a web that is untrammelled by the censorship that afflicts the Establishment Media; a heavy price but one worth paying.

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06/09/07

Contrasts

Two headlines from today’s Telegraph:

Tories unveil plans for energy regulations

Retreat of the warmists begins to accelerate

The first comes from the front page and the second from the mysteriously still extant truth section.

Stuntman Dave has come up with some remarkably unConservative policies in recent times, but this one takes the biscuit. He is employing a millionaire playboy ecologist to dictate to ordinary people how they may spend their money. As in all green religious propaganda it starts with a big lie, that stand-by takes up 2% of energy supply. Even if the figure were true, for half the year it comes off your central heating bill (not that you would notice such a trivial decrement). But, of course, common sense has nothing to do with it. This is religion! It is the sacrifice that matters.

Booker probably went to press before yet another triumph for Steve McIntyre’s unfunded auditors was announced. Despite much wriggling and hurling of abuse, the Deputy Demagogue, James Hansen, has been obliged to disclose the programs and data whereby he has maintained the catastrophic global warming alarm.

As is its wont, the political establishment continues in its own fantasy world (just look at Booker’s second headline) and carries on as though the whole scare were not falling apart at the seams.

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09/09/07

A small victory against progress

Half a century ago, Lloyds Bank was an honourable institution, dedicated to service, that made a profit for its shareholders on the way. Now it is a soulless machine that maximises profits by ruthlessly exploiting staff and customers at every opportunity. The University of Oxford was the world’s leading community of scholars, with more than its share of Nobel prizes and the esteem of the whole academic world. Now, under continuous pressure from interfering governments, it is a shadow of its former self, yet still managing to retain something of its former dignity. The Daily Telegraph was a distinguished newspaper that celebrated the virtues exemplified by those two institutions. Now read on.

Finally a short prayer for those still stranded in our universities. May the Lord preserve us from management expertise.

11/09/07

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Just a little thing

If you ignore one of the basic principles of science it is a piece of cake to produce a story guaranteed to hit the headlines, especially during the silly season. So, by casting aside just a little thing called the principle of conservation of energy an interesting demonstration of what is apparently electrodeless rf electrolysis is spun into yet another free energy claim. There is also a law by a chap called Faraday that ought to come in there somewhere. The oddity in this demonstration is that an object full of salt water, the human hand, appears unharmed by the field.

The missing number, of course, is the rf input power. It would also be interesting to know what is the red liquid in the bottom of the test tube.

Link to this piece 

Footnote: some interesting links on our forum, including the fact that Rustum Roy has form.

12/09/07

The changing past

“He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”
 George Orwell, Nineteen eighty-four.

More extraordinary revelations at Climate Audit.  People are studiously avoiding the “F” word, but Hansen’s latest activity, whatever it actually is, smells remarkably like Fraud. Yet another development in the expanding field of Hansenology

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13/09/07

Wheels

Time Worstall’s mention of John Gummer as an author of the Conservatives’ Quality of life report, which seems to be a blueprint for the general reduction in the quality of life, takes your bending author back to April 2001. The only thing that has changed since Number Watch experienced that attack is the web address of Sancroft, which is now here.

Gummer is still rather coy about his entrepreneurial activities and no one else seems to be interested, so the answer to the question about fastidiousness must be “Yes”.

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15/09/07

Here we go again

How this 12inch miracle tube could halve heating bills

Those poor old laws of physics are taking yet another silly season bashing.

PS Any news of Steorn?

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Wrong!

One wondered when someone would come up with a reference to the Frank Capra film It’s a wonderful life. It happened in the correspondence columns of the Daily Telegraph. The analogy is 180 degrees in error. This is real life, in which the malevolent banker (Henry F Potter) takes over the mutual society by persuading its members to sell their birthright for a mess of potage. It was one of the sidelight tragedies of modern Britain that governments failed to protect the mutual societies from the predations of the carpet baggers.

It will be interesting to see how history deals with this period, in which people not only gave up their precious mutual societies for chickenfeed, but in the age of leveraged buy-outs sound businesses were turned into (largely foreign-owned) bundles of debt. It affects not only the victims of utilities, but the supporters of Manchester United, who can no longer afford a seat, and the users of British Airports etc. How much does Heathrow-avoidance cost the economy?

Stands by to be savaged by the likes of Tim Worstall.

Incidentally, an interesting example of a genre in the statement from the Chief executive of Northern Rock:

“We are seeing extreme conditions in global liquidity, which have impacted on world markets. As a result, we have taken prudent action to rein back our lending until markets normalise. Against that background it is inevitable, albeit disappointing, that our profits will be affected. We remain focused on prime lending in the UK mortgage market and our credit quality remains robust. The support of the Bank of England through this facility reflects a recognition that Northern Rock is solvent, exceeds its regulatory capital requirement and has a good quality loan book. In these extreme times we are pleased to have a high quality asset base and remain confident in the excellence of our strong customer franchise, our efficient business platform and our well-known brand."

Enough to make anyone rush to get their money out!

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Footnote: Melanie Philips takes a view on Northern Rock

Reading the above prompted your bending author to dig out a little essay he wrote some time ago for his own amusement:

A Tale in the modern idiom

A manifestation of the bipedal mammalian species conventionally allocated the nomenclature homo sapiens, being an immature representative of the binary division of such a subclass of the fauna that are characterised by the possession of particular differentiated genetic structures normally assumed to endow the characteristics associated with masculinity, rejoiced under the admirably monosyllabic appellation of Jack. It transpired that the aforesaid individual, on the occasion to which this narrative is relevant, was accompanied on an expedition of collection and importation by an individual of comparable immaturity but whose inherent genetic make up was of that undifferentiated form that predisposes the bearer to the attribution of what is consensually identified as femininity. The latter, moreover and equally felicitously, enjoyed the allocation of a cognomen of condign concision, namely Jill. The objective of the cooperative enterprise was to acquire a quantity of that liquid recognised as essential to human existence created in the early stages of planetary formation  by the oxidation of hydrogen, the said quantity being determined by the volumetric capacity of a metallic vessel of traditional form comprising an inverted truncated cone with an arched handle.

Now, in trepidation of prematurely revealing the denouement of this tragic history, it must be revealed that the Achilles’ heel of the mission was the lamentable lack of knowledge of both the protagonist and the deuteragonist in this drama of the implacable operation of the principle of gravitation. Primarily, they were unaware of the indisputable fact that, disregarding the occasional existence of that geographical feature known as a tarn, the principle of minimum energy decrees that liquids tend to gather at points of depression rather than at the peaks of eminences. In their ignorance of this fundamental law of nature, they imprudently embarked upon the ascent of a precipitous incline. Poignant to relate, gravitation exerted its baleful influence and Jack experienced an abrupt and calamitous disequilibrium, prompting a rapid decrease of potential energy and the sustaining of a cranial fracture. His sibling was immediately subjected to a similar occurrence and experienced an equally rapid and coterminous descent. By judicious exercise of musculature, the former managed to re-establish a condition of verticality and proceeded with maximised velocity in the direction of domesticity, where he retired to his sleeping quarters and attempted to effect a repair of his cranium by application of a dressing of dilute acetic acid and recycled wood pulp cellulose tissue. As so often is the case, history does not record the destiny of the lesser mortal.

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17/09/07

Bureaucracy unbridled

Last week we made our way to the solicitor’s office to complete our forms for mutual powers of attorney. It is something every adult ought to do, but we had never got round to it. It became urgent, as so many things now do, because of impending draconian legislation that will put this simple essential out of the range of ordinary people and especially those to whom it is most important, the pensioners. Fortunately, we had seen the light before the headlines revealed the disastrous reality: Power of attorney costs to rise tenfold. There ought to be a “run on the bank” type outbreak of queues of people to beat the deadline, but there probably will not be, as governments do not bother to explain to their victims why such things are important. Their explanations for what they have done are all very plausible, protecting the vulnerable etc., but if you make the cost of something enough to put it out of the reach of hoi polloi, you do not enhance the protection, you eliminate it. How many British pensioner couples, after a decade of Gordon Brown, can reach into their pockets for a spare two thousand pounds to protect themselves in their declining years? Not a lot!

It is the usual bureaucratic procedure: start with something simple that works, think of a number of gold-plating improvements and then turn it into something complicated and expensive that puts it beyond ordinary folk. The new form is almost six times longer than the present one.

The main reason that this sort of abuse proliferates in Britain, however, is not the natural behaviour of bureaucrats, but the effective absence of any form of credible opposition. Stuntman Dave is too busy mushing his huskies and coercing his African villagers to do anything about the disasters being visited upon his own countrymen.

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Sorry, wrong number! ( a comment from Rod Molyneux)

The actual numbers are much worse than you think. The current four page EPOA document includes the explanatory notes on completion, whereas  the new documents are  split into  two sections - Property and Affairs (24 pages plus 12 pages of notes on how to complete ) and Personal Welfare (28 pages plus 12 pages of notes).

This gives a grand total of 76 pages representing a nineteenfold increase in the bureaucratic process and surely a candidate for number of the month .

My own company has been recommending clients to effect EPOA's for years  at a cost of £80 and just getting people to do that has been a struggle.

So you are definitely right in saying  that even fewer people will do it now as one look at the forms will deter the majority.

Of course this will produce significantly more work and income for the Public Guardianship Office who will no doubt need to employ many more bureaucrats to meet the increasing demand!

23/09/07

Scientific research today

Says it all really – The mismeasurement of science

24/09/07

The power of propaganda

Further support for the aptness of our long standing definition of Opinion Poll is offered by the latest survey. Man causing climate change – poll yells the BBC. Yes, scientific facts are now determined by vox populi, so much more democratic than when those beastly geniuses like Isaac Newton held sway.

A letter in the Telegraph demonstrates how uninformed people dutifully repeat the carefully sifted information that is fed to them:

T Martin Johnson quotes Christopher Booker's view that "the 'global warming' edifice is starting to crumble" (Letters, September 16). In the same edition, you report that the North West Passage is free of ice for the first time since records began (International News). Funny that…

The writer is, naturally, unaware of the information that has been deliberately withheld from him, such as the fact that the Antarctic ice is presently of record extent (though subsequently subjected to one of those mysterious Hansonian adjustments that occur when results are politically incorrect: only the past has been changed to protect the orthodoxy) or that the North West passage has been negotiated many times since Roald Amundsen in 1903 and as recently as  2000 (as reported by the BBC, who are among those that now claim that there is record melting of Arctic ice).

Booker is quite correct in his assessment, even perhaps guilty of understatement. There does not seem to be any area of the edifice that stands up to the most cursory examination. But, as so often happens in matters of religion, unfortunate facts only lead to even shriller declarations of the faith.

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25/09/07

A dawn long gone

Just six years ago, the first headline of the still inchoate Number Watch for September 2001 was

This is the dawning of the age of incompetence

Well, dawn was long ago and incompetence has now reached its high noon. You could fill an encyclopaedia with examples; so let us just look at two, one in the UK and one in the EU.

In Britain the vanguard of incompetence is DEFRA. Its previous incarnation was as MAFF, about which your bending author had previously written “They have been out of control for years”. In fact, as we remarked in our account of that dreadful holocaust “ MAFF had its name changed to DEFRA, but they were the same people in the same offices with the same mind set.” It was yet another tawdry piece of Blair misdirection. Just in the past year DEFRA have managed to fail to deliver EU grants to farmers, a paltry enough return of a small proportion of the billions that we pay in, so that British taxpayers find themselves forking out for an additional fine for incompetence, which in turn caused cuts in flood defences, with dire consequences for many. Even worse, the latest outbreak of foot and mouth turns out to be cause by penny pinching by DEFRA in the Pirbright Laboratory.

The world capital for incompetence is Brussels , home of the secretive and undemocratic EU commissioners. They have, for example, contrived to create a sudden surge in food prices by issuing a diktat that 10% of fuel should be represented by biofuels, thereby once again creating a false market by throwing about money wrested from the benighted taxpayers of their continent. The energy (in addition to solar) required to grow and manufacture biofuels is similar in magnitude to the energy output from them, and there are other factors, such as water required for irrigation: yet another green delusion. The sufferers for this blind pursuit of religious zeal are not only those who have to pay for it without representation, but also the poor of the world who find their very basic requirement of food for their bellies priced beyond their means.

Of course, Britain and Europe are not the sole homes of the new incompetence, but there are many who serenade the same phenomenon on the other side of the pond.

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28/09/07

Number of the month -19

As suggested by our correspondent, the number represents the proportional increase in bureaucracy in the new forms for power of attorney. It involves the creation of a new department in the new Ministry of Justice. It will effectively kill off this essential measure for most ordinary people. The most remarkable thing about it is the relative paucity of comment, even among the blogs.

Have we just become anaesthetised to such monstrosity? 

Hiatus Your bending author has been temporarily sidelined by a bout of ill health as a result of his prevailing condition (bronchiectasis).

Index

 

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