Mark Grant is always an amusing read and here is his latest missive reposted in all it’s semi-psychedelic glory, for it amused me :
“For him it was a dark passage which led to nowhere, then to nowhere, then again to nowhere, once again to nowhere, always and forever to nowhere, heavy on the elbows in the earth to nowhere, dark, never any end to nowhere, hung on all time always to unknowing nowhere, this time and again for always to nowhere, now not to be borne once again always and to nowhere, now beyond all bearing up, up, up and into nowhere, suddenly, scaldingly, holdingly all nowhere gone and time absolutely still and they were both there, time having stopped and he felt the earth move out and away from under them.”
-Ernest Hemingway, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”
The European Union is leading the nations of Europe nowhere. They have sat there and languished in their own self-adoration, propped up their egos on self-congratulation and flounced recitals of praise fluffed and huffed by one politician and told to another. They have a central bank promising what cannot be delivered and they have used up all of their capital to buy the debt they have created to support the artifice. Then having mutilated the pension funds of their citizens and having pressured every money manager on the Continent they congratulate themselves on their lower yields.
“Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news hath but a losing office, and his tongue sounds ever after as a sullen bell, remembered tolling a departing friend.”
-William Shakespeare, “Henry IV”
They say it is improved financial sustainability; I say it is chicanery. They see a road without end; I can see the end. They congratulate themselves; I yawn as the mumbo jumbo continues. The spice must flow and so it does but they are now consuming more than is being produced and I can smell the coming storm and the signs of the forthcoming giant sandworm abound.
“When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.”
-Frank Herbert, “Dune”
They honey is the ability to trade with each other. The vinegar is the cauterization if anyone leaves. Germany prospers. Everyone else suffers. The unemployment rate hits 12.2% which is a concocted number far below actuality but that is what they say, that is what is believed, but our old friend reality always has a funny way of showing up when you least expect him.
In France they now have 3.26 million unemployed with two uninterrupted years of monthly rises in their unemployment rate and a 1.2% increase from March. Nearly 337,000 more people are out of work in France than there were when Hollande was elected in May 2012. Unemployment is Spain at 26.8%, some 6.2 million people out of work while the economy has shrunk -1.3% in the last two quarters. Italy’s economy is projected to shrink by -1.8% this year according to the OECD while their unemployment rate hits 12%, a thirty-six year high. Besides Germany these are the pillars of the European Union and that union is crumbling.
Stick your nose up into the wind.
The stench is overwhelming.
“At the great iron gate of the churchyard he stopped and looked in. He looked up at the high tower spectrally resisting the wind, and he looked round at the white tombstones, like enough to the dead in their winding-sheets, and he counted the nine tolls of the clock-bell.”
-Charles Dickens, “Our Mutual Friend”
For those who may be wondering what happened to The Wasp – he is here but utterly dismayed by UK politics and the constant stream of piffle and hot air that is the UK. Other priorities need attention currently but I am not going away be assured.
In the mean time, another one of my favourite Grant lines :
A fool-proof method for sculpting an elephant:
First, get a huge block of marble; then you chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.
Sitting here in Tallinn enjoying some much needed rest I was flicking through BBC News to see if anything was happening in the world when I cam across one of those headlines that makes a jarring sound in your head when you read it because some words just do not belong together in a headline :
Teachers rampage against reforms in Guerrero state, Mexico
Come on now – teachers and rampage in the same sentence with the teachers doing the rampaging rather than an acne encrusted armed lunatic as is usually the case when those two words are found near each other in a headline. My brain immediately offered visions of a jostling horde dressed in corduroy, worn brown shoes and jackets with elbow patches but it would seem that Mexican teachers are not like those of my school years :
Teachers incensed by sweeping education reforms have attacked the buildings of political parties in Mexico’s south-western Guerrero state.
For several hours, masked protesters started fires and attacked the offices with pickaxes and sticks, spraying slogans on the walls.
The state governor has called for support from the federal government.
The reforms impose centralised teacher assessment and seek to end corrupt practices in the education system.
Those practices include the buying and selling of teaching positions.
I would imagine the lessons are worth attending there!
On Wednesday evening, a fire at the plant suddenly exploded with a huge, deafening bang, throwing people to the ground blocks away. It measured as a 2.1-magnitude seismic event, according to the United States Geological Survey. Even 50 miles away, homes shook.
The blast came minutes after the fire began, so firefighters were already on the scene. Some may be among the dead, but the casualty count is unclear, Waco Police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said, estimating that overall, five to 15 people may have lost their lives. Smith said the death toll could spike to 60 or 70. More than 160 people were injured.
“We have two EMS personnel that are dead for sure, and there may be three firefighters that are dead,” Smith said.
About half the town was evacuated, including a nursing home with 133 residents. A middle school is also near the plant.
A reminder of what we were warned of back in 2000 from the infamous Independent article – it is still online but a bugger to get to load so here is the text I grabbed a couple of years ago :
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
Britain’s winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.
Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain’s culture, as warmer winters – which scientists are attributing to global climate change – produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.
The first two months of 2000 were virtually free of significant snowfall in much of lowland Britain, and December brought only moderate snowfall in the South-east. It is the continuation of a trend that has been increasingly visible in the past 15 years: in the south of England, for instance, from 1970 to 1995 snow and sleet fell for an average of 3.7 days, while from 1988 to 1995 the average was 0.7 days. London’s last substantial snowfall was in February 1991.
Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community. Average temperatures in Britain were nearly 0.6Â°C higher in the Nineties than in 1960-90, and it is estimated that they will increase by 0.2C every decade over the coming century. Eight of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the Nineties.
However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.
“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.
The effects of snow-free winter in Britain are already becoming apparent. This year, for the first time ever, Hamleys, Britain’s biggest toyshop, had no sledges on display in its Regent Street store. “It was a bit of a first,” a spokesperson said.
Fen skating, once a popular sport on the fields of East Anglia, now takes place on indoor artificial rinks. Malcolm Robinson, of the Fenland Indoor Speed Skating Club in Peterborough, says they have not skated outside since 1997. “As a boy, I can remember being on ice most winters. Now it’s few and far between,” he said.
Michael Jeacock, a Cambridgeshire local historian, added that a generation was growing up “without experiencing one of the greatest joys and privileges of living in this part of the world – open-air skating”.
Warmer winters have significant environmental and economic implications, and a wide range of research indicates that pests and plant diseases, usually killed back by sharp frosts, are likely to flourish. But very little research has been done on the cultural implications of climate change – into the possibility, for example, that our notion of Christmas might have to shift.
Professor Jarich Oosten, an anthropologist at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, says that even if we no longer see snow, it will remain culturally important.
“We don’t really have wolves in Europe any more, but they are still an important part of our culture and everyone knows what they look like,” he said.
David Parker, at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Berkshire, says ultimately, British children could have only virtual experience of snow. Via the internet, they might wonder at polar scenes – or eventually “feel” virtual cold.
Heavy snow will return occasionally, says Dr Viner, but when it does we will be unprepared. “We’re really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time,” he said.
The chances are certainly now stacked against the sortof heavy snowfall in cities that inspired Impressionist painters, such as Sisley, and the 19th century poet laureate Robert Bridges, who wrote in “London Snow” of it, “stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying”.
Not any more, it seems.
Compared with the reality this morning outside The Waspsnest :
As it weighed 5.4 tonnes in its bare form, one would have thought that there would not be too many applications for it outside large boats. It seems though that a German tractor pulling team had other ideas and after some considerable modification they produced this methonol burning version complete with 126 spark plugs and 168 valves and 10000 hp :
And, after producing a monster like that, I suppose you could forgive the somewhat over the top vehicle it sits in :
You can get a grant towards the cost of each new electric (plug-in) car or van you buy, if it meets certain conditions. Grants are available for:
25% off the cost of a car, up to a maximum of £5,000
20% off the cost of a van up to a maximum of £8,000
We now have to fork out for charging them too and not just on private drives :
The government estimates that it will cost between about £1,000 and £1,500 for drivers with off-street parking to install charging points in their garages or driveways; it will fund 75% of this cost, up to a maximum contribution of £1,000.
Ministers also want to encourage train operators to install new charging points at railway stations, and have offered the same 75% incentive.
And local authorities wanting to invest in rapid charging points, which cost about £45,000 to install and make it easier for drivers of electric vehicles to undertake longer journeys, will also be able to apply to central government for the same proportion of funding.
What really grates in this case is that the people buying these cars are not exactly short of a bob or two in the first place. The Nissan Leaf for example is just short of £24000 AFTER taking the £5000 subsidy into account! Surely they can afford another £1000 on a plug point?
Surely I am not the only person fed up to the back teeth with being gouged through energy bills to pay for an ever expanding array of bribes subsidies which will soon be more of the bill than the damned gas I use to heat the house?
Time to stick a bigger wood burner in I think and starve the beast before it starves me.
And, if you think I am being overly flippant, even The Royal Academy of Engineering doesn’t think (pdf) electric vehicles will do much to reduce CO2 emissions, not to mention that billions will need to be spent on upgrading the UK electricity distribution infrastructure, all of which will come from us poor sods that pay the bills :
A car comparison website lists the CO2 emissions for all of the UK’s major new
cars. The average CO2 emissions rating is 173g/km (grams of carbon dioxide per
kilometre driven), the lowest being 89g/km and the highest 500g/km.18 The 2020
target for average emissions is 130g/km. It is expected that this figure will be
reduced progressively and some experts are talking about a long-term target of
around 80g/km for 4-seat internal combustion engine vehicles.
Results from electric vehicle trials show that EVs equivalent to a small petrol or
diesel four-seat car use around 0.2kWh/km in normal city traffic. CO2 emissions
from power stations vary from year to year and also over the daily cycle as the
carbon intensity of generation changes: in 2009 it was 544g/kWh. Thus the
emissions related to an EV are about 100g/km. Trials on a small fleet of four twoseat
Smart Move vehicles have shown average CO2 emissions of 81.4g/km using
electricity of the same carbon intensity.19
On this basis, it is difficult to see how EVs fed from the present UK electricity
generation mix are significantly better in terms of carbon emissions than petrol or
diesel vehicles.20 To have a major effect commensurate with the 2050 target, the
introduction of EVs would need to be accompanied by almost total
‘decarbonisation’ of the electricity supply. Under these conditions, they could
provide the ideal solution of personal mobility without the environmental
So, unless we totally remove gas and coal from the generation mix, cover the entire country in windmills and surround it with wave generators, we may as well choose to drive a small modern diesel. Unfortunately, that won’t keep the tree huggers happy so we will all end up paying for the nonsensical green dream.
THE Nissan factory in Sunderland is to produce a new electric car that will be unable to get as far as Doncaster.
The Leaf, backed by £21m of taxpayers’ money, has been specially designed so that if it is driven out of the factory after rush hour on a Thursday morning it will grind to a state-of-the-art halt on the A1 approximately 100 miles later.
A company spokesman said: “It should get you at least as far as Knottingley, if you keep it at 28 all the way and ignore red lights and stuff.
“The absolute furthest it would get you is probably about two miles north of Burghwallis, which – as I’m sure everyone would agree – is almost Doncaster. When you phone for a cab tell them to pick you up from the pub.”
The spokesman admitted it would be difficult to recharge the car in the middle of the South Yorkshire countryside due to Britain’s ‘scandalous shortage’ of incredibly long extension leads.
He added: “You may as well just abandon it by the side of the road. But they only cost about twenty thousand quid so you’ll probably have at least five of them.”
The company stressed the car would be more attractive to people who lived in urban areas, close to their place of work who had always wanted to have a long cable running from their third floor kitchen window down into the street like some sort of Action Man death slide.
The spokesman said: “We are building up the infrastructure so that in five years time you’ll be able to go to Tesco for your weekly shop and then nip into the recharging station for about 16 hours.”
Meanwhile, the company has developed a range of marketing slogans including ‘The Leaf – Quite Good For Sitting In’ and ‘The Leaf – Because You Hate People So Much You Can’t Even Spend 15 Minutes on a Bus’.”