Number of the Month

April  2009

Fit for purpose?

John Maddox

There have been many respectful obituaries and a few typically snide ad hominems from the greenies for the man who made Nature the world’s leading scientific journal. What misery it must have been for him to see his great creation seized by his pseudo-scientific opponents and perverted to their own ends!

From the earliest days of Number Watch we have regularly commented with increasing sorrow on the dying of the light in this beacon of disinterested science. The nadir was reached when the editors jumped through hoops in the attempt to avoid publishing the refutation of the notorious Hockey Stick (search “Nature” on Climate Audit for the running saga). This theory is now so discredited that it is even disowned by IPCC.

Nevertheless, there is still the historical record of the wonderful work of a man of honour in a dishonourable world. Shall we ever see his like again?

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Random thoughts on elections

bulletThere is no relation between the ability to win an election and the ability to run a country.
bulletWe elect people who have never run anything to run everything. Then are surprised when it all goes wrong.
bulletElections are now TV “reality” shows. The successful candidates have to be young, pretty and charming. All else is irrelevant.
bulletAn experienced person is one who has already made the most serious mistakes in his career.

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One day they will be right

Iss the law of averages, innit.

The UK Met Office have yet again forecast a hot summer. You have to admire their fortitude. There are no scientific grounds for making such a forecast. The weather is determined by such random events as kinks in the jet stream. They should try casting the dry fly on a Hampshire chalk stream. That might give them some perspective, rather than attempting to act as prophets of religion.

Virologists and their hangers-on are yet again forecasting a flu pandemic. It is just an outbreak of WIDIMITWEED. The guaranteed way of raising your profile is to feed the popular media with scare stories.

The trouble with boys who cry wolf is that eventually they will be right. We will be expected to forget all the other occasions.

It is right and proper that those we appoint as guardians to watch for dangers carry out their duties with due diligence. What is not required is that they run at every opportunity to the media to grab their fifteen minutes of fame. They merely give politicians an opportunity for a bit of conjuror’s misdirection and add further chaos to the world economy.

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April is the cruellest month

April is the traditional time for the UK budget. Time was when a Chancellor was required to resign if the slightest detail was leaked in advance. Now the leaking is a part of the process. The only shock this time was the increase in the higher rate of income tax (which, if you were wondering, does not affect your bending author, by a long way). It is a startling return to the destructive politics of envy. For all the miseries that Tony Blair has inflicted on the nation at least he removed that one. It is just another example of the conjuror’s art of misdirection. The Old Labour groundlings loved it.

What really mattered was the level of Government borrowing that was being proposed. It greatly exceeds the sum all government debt throughout history. All Labour governments have left their benighted island bankrupt and undefended. Why did anyone think this one would be different? What no one could anticipate, even after a decade of tax, borrow and waste, was the sheer magnitude of the deficit. It will be more than £3,000 for every, man, woman and child; and that in addition to personal debt.

The worst aspect is that there are no serious proposals to reduce the cost of the huge army of bureaucrats and snoopers that have been recruited. Back in July 2003 our number of the month was based on the headline “Heading for the rocks”. It included all the above considerations. Was it wrong?

This month’s number is the consequence of all that. It has taken a remarkable six years to develop, which, as we remarked in February, makes the effect all that more severe. It is the proposed extra national debt in pounds sterling (assuming that there are enough mugs to buy the bonds).

Number of the month – 175,000,000,000

It all adds interest to the outcome of America's experiment in socialism.

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