Number of the Month

March 2008

Some phone booth!

Noted consensus-monger Jim Martin, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in a typical piece of propaganda said "You could have a convention of all the scientists who dispute climate change in a relatively small phone booth".

This week 500 “denialists” gathered for the Heartland Conference at the Marriott New York Marquis Times Square Hotel and more were turned away through lack of space. When you think that such infidels are largely excluded from state funding, this is a remarkable turnout.

Your bending author sent the following message to the organisers:

I am heartbroken not to be at the conference. I hope all goes well. This could be the turning point. It brings to mind the words of Winston Churchill in 1942:
"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
My message to the participants is:


In a long career of assessing and advising on measurements in a wide range of applications, from electroencephalography to submarine detection, your bending author has never come across anything like the situation uncovered by Steve McIntyre in the NASA surface temperature data. There is wholesale adjustment of the numbers in an apparently haphazard fashion. It is one thing to make an adjustment on a known bias derived from a careful calibration procedure, but quite another to carry out alterations throughout a data table (and not small ones either) according to some arbitrary mystical rite.

Coupled with Anthony Watts’s observations on sensor locations, this all adds up to what is by far the most pathological case of bad practice seen in a lifetime of experience. It is difficult to think of an argument for regarding such data, and any result derived from them, as anything but worthless. The only sensible thing to do with data contaminated by the Urban Heat Island effect is reject them.

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The enemy within

When your bending author was an industrial apprentice half a century ago there was an undeclared war going on. It was being conducted by communists and their target was the British economy. They had infiltrated the main trades unions and had effective control over vital swathes of industry. If you worked in a section of the factory where there was a communist shop steward you could feel the constant apprehension. The workers put on a face of treating it all as a joke, but they betrayed themselves in unguarded moments. It was a stressful situation for a teenager to be in and the stuff of subsequent nightmares. The activity was little short of persistent industrial sabotage. Then and since, people have derided the very idea that this happened. Revelatory accounts such as the dramatic film, The Angry Silence, with Alfred Burke as the sinister agent provocateur, or the more comic yet cogent  treatment in I’m all right Jack  are routinely dismissed as wild exaggerations, but they were not.

Now a similar war is going on, but most of the participants and some of the methods are different. The colour has changed,  but the objective is the same, as are some of the people (Danny the Red is now Danny the Green). The way to bring down a modern state is to cut off its access to energy, and that is the objective of the new war. The infiltration goes on, but it is more ambitious and more successful, the target now being the leading components of the scientific, media and political establishment.

There is no more blatant example than that unspeakable travesty of a journalist Johann Hari. The lefty-greeny faction likes to throw around words like fascism, but this man is a genuine fascist. He is a demonstrable liar who wishes to cast aside democracy and install authoritarian government. There has been yet another example of his ruthless mendacity in his attack on Spiked. Without any evidence he trots out the old canard of an ad hominem assault of his targets being funded by Big Oil. How even The Independent, which has so egregiously betrayed the hopes that were raised by its foundation, can tolerate the fellow is a mystery.

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The Traitors' GateBritain’s day of infamy! In defiance of the clear will of the people, the craven political classes have handed over the last large tranche of the powers that we delegated to them to an unsackable,  corrupt, secretive and antidemocratic external body. Two of the three major parties have reneged on their solemn manifesto promises in a deliberate and sordid manoeuvre to thwart the aspirations of a once free nation. They have poured ordure on the memories of all those brave people who died for the sake of our democratic liberties.

When the people of two other countries decisively turned down the proposed European Constitution, some naively thought that was that, but the scheming bureaucrats of Brussels simply hatched a plan to bypass democracy altogether.  

It is not European Union that the British people instinctively oppose; it is this EU, which represents everything we despise. Riddled with fraud, infested with crazed greenies intent on total de-industrialisation and consequent economic failure, determinedly dictatorial, it is the very antithesis of what a thousand years of painful endeavour were for. Our Parliament has voted to become a cipher, inhabited by an isolated clique who pay themselves more and more to do less and less. They still wonder why the people have become so divorced from politics. The next logical step would be to dissolve it, so that they can go out and look for real jobs, but they are not going to give up their sinecures that easily.

Democracy resides in the ability to sack an incompetent government.

Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.

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Best joke of the year so far

Computer system could save £11m


Shock Horror! Temperature hits average

Courtesy of the Junk Science Blog

Then there's this.



Thanks to all those who have enquired about the bending authorial state of health.

It has been difficult to adjust to crippledom, with the unfamiliar technologies of walking sticks, bath lift etc. It is still uncertain as to whether I can have an operation to replace the disintegrated knee joint. Ironically, after beggaring myself to insure against the NHS, I cannot have it in the private hospital, as they do not have the emergency back up teams necessary for a dubious case like mine.

I am still annoyed at my ignorance that common bacteria could so wrack not only lungs but also joints. I wonder whether the medical profession actually appreciate it and whether more arthritis is down to infection than is given credit.

The hardest part was having to give up the beloved allotment. Not only is there the loss of exercise and the sheer pleasure of growing things, but also being cut off from fresh vegetables.

As readers have noted, there has been a reduction of rates of posting here of late, for which apologies. Regrets are also due to those whose e-mails are unanswered, but they are all read, except any that get lost in the spam and junk filters. At the peak I was getting 300 spams a day. They have even attacked the online ordering forms, which come in filled with links to drug peddlers etc.  Particular apologies to those who have had to wait for book orders (please get in contact if the delay is more than a month, as my records have got out of hand and I have sent some twice).

I have managed to complete a little essay on March of the zealots, which might be of interest to number watchers. I have a couple more essays in there somewhere, but it takes time to transfer them from grey matter to magnetic oxide. I have to cut down the pain killers and anti-inflammatories to do any serious writing, but can’t keep it up for long.

Still, I console myself with the Churchill motto of KBO (keep buggering on).


Long past dawn

The monthly Number Watch diatribe back in September 2001 was headed This is the dawning of the age of incompetence, a phenomenon that was observed to be globalised in December of that year.

The BA move to Terminal Five at Heathrow provides a master class in the genre. How could anyone at the top of a major corporation contemplate such as move as one big bang? Disaster was inevitable. Even small organisations (such as university departments) are aware that the only way to manage such a transition successfully is to do it in carefully planned stages. That way you solve the problems while they are still relatively small. Otherwise you fall foul of the fundamental fallacy of socialism – that you can plan for all contingencies. It is quite remarkable that people with no knowledge of how things are done, let alone common sense, can rise to the top of large organisations and, even more bizarrely, stay there after such a cock-up.

The cost in human distress and disruption of business is incalculable. As in the political world, it is no longer requisite that there be resignations. Is no one going to tell them that wandering around saying "It'll be aright on the night" is not an acceptable substitute for competent management?

Number of the month – 15,000

This is the conservatively estimated number of bags left in limbo at terminal five. Each one represents a human calamity, some of them serious. Appalling!


Footnote: we have often noted the tendency of numbers to be self-increasing, but almost doubling in one day must be some sort of record.


Note: The policy of Number Watch has now been amended and financial contributions are solicited to enable it to continue an independent existence.






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