Last January, I stumbled upon a 1½ lecture the
previous October in St Paul Minnesota by Lord Christopher Monckton,
which tears to shreds the current convention/cult that the world is
warming as never before and that it is all the fault of us humans and
our penchant for burning fossil fuels. I
referenced it in my blog in a post entitled
Climate Faeces”, and conveniently provided the Youtube video,
where you can still find it. In addition, you can download a 7.5 Mb
PDF of his 86 slides
Interestingly, last May the prestigious Oxford Union
debate, with Lord Monckton as one of the speakers, which roundly
rejected, by 135 votes to 110, the notion that “global warming”
is or could become a global crisis. Opinion is certainly
There have been some fascinating developments
as a result of the October 2009 lecture, which are likely to lead to a media explosion that
will largely demolish whatever faith is left in the
cult. It is already limping badly after the
of November followed by
the disastrous Nopenahagen
Climate Change Conference in December.
Three events have occurred.
John P Abraham is an associate professor of mechanical
engineering specialising in heat transfer and fluid mechanics, at
the University of St Thomas in Minnesota, near to where Lord
Monckton delivered his lecture. He has prepared a lengthy,
lecture and slide presentation (126 slides) of his own, which rebuts in
tremendous detail most if not all of what Lord Monckton said and
displayed last October (though
curiously he at no time contacted Lord Monckton to either tell him
what he was doing or to seek clarifications.)
He published his
lecture on the internet in early June 2010.
Professor has a drony voice and his presentation style is nowhere
near as entertaining as the exuberant Lord's, he nevertheless shoots
countless deadly darts at one Lordly slide after another. I was most
disappointed to learn that the Lord was so wrong and evidently as
slippery as a snake-oil salesman.
barely a week later, on
10th June, Lord Monckton replied to those darts with a thrilling
of his own: a polite
84-page amply illustrated letter of eviscerating precision to the
Professor. His refutation comprises no fewer than 466
exhaustive penetrating questions, which first seek to clarify each of the Professor's
accusations, and then ask whether the Professor was not
aware of a litany of mistakes, errors,
misquotes, distortions, elisions and other artefacts by which the
Prof had constructed his rebuttal. Believe me, you do not want
to be on the receiving end of the Lord's rhetoric.
One little titbit that the Lord brings to
light is how NASA offshoot the
Institute of Space Studies, which provides one of only
two terrestrial data sets used as primary sources by the
Panel on Climate Control),
raw temperature data
in the period 1999 to 2008.
This was in order to show global temperatures
“rising” between 1880 and 2000. In 1999, it had to be
“processed” (in some mysterious unexplained manner) because the raw
data itself demonstrated no such conclusion.
But by 2008, the raw data had come even more uncooperative,
so the whole data set, not just that of the period 2000 to
2008, was again
“processed” to make the global
“warming” even more stark. GISS did this by both
raising temperatures post 1950 and lowering
temperatures during the previous fifty years. I have
animated the relevant curves here, and you can see it is a
case of such blatant scientific dishonesty that you can only
Lord Monckton concludes that Professor Abraham has deliberately and malignly
distorted the St Paul's lecture in order to destroy through
falsehood the arguments made and the professional reputation of the
Lord who made them. The latter therefore demands a
retraction, an apology, an investigation, the deletion of the presentations from the
University's servers and elsewhere and compensation of US$ 110,000
to be paid to a charity for Haiti.
After a cooling off period, he published the letter on the
internet and broadcast a typically boisterous interview on US
television, in order no doubt to raise the temperature and pressure:
bad tempered letters from the university
which maintained that the dispute was no more than an academic
discourse, refused Lord Monckton's demands and threatened legal
action of its own.
The Professor then, on 20th June, issued a
revised lecture, thereby tacitly (though not explicitly)
admitting that at least some of the Lord's complaints were
justified, or else why the revision? But the bulk of the
material to which the Lord objected appears to remain, in which case
the Professor and the University are digging themselves into an even
deeper, hubristic hole.
The outcome of this affair is not going to be pretty for
the University of St Thomas or for the
climate changeology movement
Along with no doubt hundreds of others, I wrote to
Father Dennis Dease who is president of this Catholic university, and
said the following.
I refer to the dispute between
your Professor John P Abraham and Lord Christopher Monckton,
the latter's lecture last year,
the former's rebuttal,
the latter's refutation of that rebuttal and
the former's revised rebuttal.
This is a battle that Prof Abraham
cannot win and therefore neither can the University of St Thomas nor
you as its head. This is because the central issue is one of
demonstrable fact. On this issue, Lord Monckton is provably correct
in virtually all instances and Prof Abraham is provably wrong, and
so wrong that deliberate intent and a motive of malice can scarcely
be denied. It is absolutely nothing to do with academic differences
The longer you choose to prolong
the dispute and allow Prof Abraham to prolong it, the more
unpleasant the penalties that both of you, as well as the
university, will ultimately suffer. Furthermore the longer it
festers, the worse will be the case in favour of anthropogenic
climate change in the court of global public opinion. After
Climategate and the disastrous Copenhagen conference, it surely
cannot withstand another global scandal.
Few people had heard of Lord Monckton or his 2009 lecture, but now
thanks to the Professor's rebuttal and the Lord's refutation, the
world has, and is drawing its own conclusions over the dispute.
Apologise, withdraw the rebuttals
from the internet and pay the 110 grand - and you can count
yourselves lucky to escape so cheaply.
As a fellow-Catholic, I am sure
you also appreciate, as I do, the moral angle to this affair. It is
a sin to deliberately lie, dissemble and bear false witness, as Lord
Monckton has forcefully demonstrated that Professor Abraham has
done. A Catholic University should have nothing to do with and
immediately dissociate itself from such behaviour, or else it can
hardly call itself Catholic.
I do not expect a reply. Nor does even a proper
investigation appear likely.
However, having now received the Lord's lengthy
and implicitly acknowledged, by virtue of the revised rebuttal, that he is at least partially correct, the
University can no longer claim the justification of honest mistake.
This can only mean even greater retribution when Nemesis eventually
descends, as it undoubtedly will, most probably as a lawsuit. Or maybe
two, with each side suing the other for defamation and libel (though I
imagine no betting shop will give odds that the University will win
either of them).
Meantime, as mentioned, I expect this issue will go as
viral as did the infamous Climategate e-mails, with consequences that
seriously compound the existing damage to the cult.
Ireland is an island to the west of Britain but
Northern Ireland is just off the mainland - not the Irish mainland, the
The capital of Ireland is Dublin. It has a population
of a million people, all of whom will be shopping in Newry this afternoon.
They travel to Newry because it is in the North, where Sterling prices are
lower because of Gordon's devaluations. The North is not part of
Ireland or the €urozone, but shoppers from the South still pay in €uros.
Under the Irish constitution, the North used to be in
Ireland, but a successful 30-year campaign of violence for Irish unity
ensured that it is now definitely in the UK. Had the campaign lasted longer
the North might now be in France.
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. It has a
population of half a million, half of whom have houses in Donegal.
Donegal, in the west of Ireland, is in the north but
not in the North. It is in the South. No, not the south, the South. All
agree it is not in the east.
There are two parliaments in Ireland.
parliament is called the Dáil (pronounced "Doyle"), an Irish word meaning a
place where banks receive taxpayers' money.
The one in Belfast is called
Stormont, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning placebo, or deliberately ineffective
Their respective jurisdictions are defined by the
border, an imaginary line on the map to show fuel launderers where to dump
Protestants are in favour of the border, which
generates millions of pounds and €uros in smuggling for Catholics, who are
opposed to it.
Travel between the two states is complicated because
Ireland is the only country in the world with two M1 motorways. The one in
the North goes west to avoid the south and the one in the South goes north
to minimise the price of drink.
We have two types of democracy in Ireland.
Dublin democracy works by holding a referendum and then
allowing the government to judge the result. If the government thinks the
result is wrong, the referendum is held again. Twice in recent years the
government decided the people's choice was wrong and ordered a new
referendum, which the people obligingly then got right.
Belfast democracy works differently. It has a
parliament with no opposition, so the government is always right. This
system generates envy in many world capitals, especially Dublin.
Ireland has three economies - northern, southern and
black. Only the black economy is in the black. The other two are in the red.
All versions of the IRA claim to be the real IRA but
only one of them is the Real IRA. The North's biggest industry is the
production of IRAs. Consequently, we now have (at latest count) the
Provisional, Continuity and Real IRA. The Real IRA is by far the most
popular among young graffiti writers because it is the easiest to spell.
The world cup snoozeroo is over; it is another four
years before we will again have to get worked up (or fall asleep) over
the next one, in Brazil.
If ever there was a case for a complete review and
overhaul of how soccer games are managed, surely the South Africa event
had made it. It is bad enough that so few goals are scored: I
calculated that in 2006 there were 40 minutes between each World Cup
goal, and I doubt if 2010 was much different. It is why it cannot
catch on in America, yet this is a problem quickly solved simply by
widening the goal mouth.
But the on-field management of the game is an ongoing
train-wreck which continues to drive spectators and TV viewers (OK, me)
crazy. There are a number of serious structural problems, which
can nevertheless be remedied easily, cheaply and rapidly, if only there
were the will to do so.
Consider the injustice of:
wrongly allowed goals,
wrongly disallowed goals,
feeble yellow card,
barracking the referee.
Wrongly Allowed Goals
The handball of Thierry Henri last November where he patted the ball
over to William Gallas to score the goal that secured France's
qualification for South Africa at the expense of Ireland.
Though the referee didn't spot the handball, nor did the
linesmen, the TV footage clearly showed it. So Mr Henri and his
Fr(h)enchmen were through and the Irish were out.
Wrongly Disallowed Goals The equalising goal that was clearly scored by England's Frank
Lampard in the 39th minute in its knockout match against Germany yet
inexplicably disallowed by the referee.
The English went on to lose 4-1 and get kicked out of
the tournament, but who knows how a draw at that crucial moment might
have changed the game dynamics?
The handball save by Uruguay's Luis Suárez of a sure winning goal by
Ghana at the end of extra time was spotted by the referee who punished
it with a red card for Suárez and a penalty for Ghana.
Unfortunately, though, Ghana missed
the penalty, went on to lose the subsequent penalty shoot-out and so
went home dispossessed and early. Yet Uruguay's profit from its
blatant - and observed - cheating was entirely within the rules of
soccer. No wonder Suárez was booed every time he touched the ball
in the semi-final which, to general relief, Uruguay went on to lose
against the Netherlands.
Diving Diving - or pretending you have been knocked over by an opponent in
the hope of securing a free kick or penalty - has long been one of the
disgraceful features of soccer, and South Africa was no exception.
Apart from its obvious unsportsmanship, it is distinctly
unmanly to roll around weeping on the floor feigning injury when there
is none. Soccer is supposed to be a game for men not schoolgirls.
Rossi, who crumbled to the ground in seeming agony after the slightest
shirt-tug from New Zealand's Tommy Smith, was rewarded with a penalty.
This evened the score and avoided an embarrassing defeat of the 2006
world champions by a soccer minnow like New Zealand (a bit different
from NZ rugby!).
As some kind of
divine justice, however, Italy never made it to the knock-out stages
anyway. Neither did New Zealand - largely due to that penalty -
but unlike Italy it was one of only nine teams which didn't lose a
single game, despite being ranked 78th in the world. So while the
reigning world champions left South Africa in disgrace, NZ did so with
head held high.
There were countless similar incidents of diving, many
of which the referee also rewarded, though he also often ignored them.
But diving per se is never actually punished, either
during the game or after it. So you have nothing to lose (other
than your manliness and self-respect).
Missed Fouls Then there are the fouls which the referee fails to spot. He
is human and the players are clever, so you cannot lay the blame on him
providing he's doing his best.
In the World Cup final, the referee issued a
record-breaking 14 yellow cards for various fouls, nine against the
Netherlands. Yet only one player, Dutchman Johnny Heitinga, was
sent off. With its resultant one-man advantage, Spain eventually
scored the match's winning only goal in the dying moments of extra time
to secure the revered trophy for the first time.
It was a bad-tempered game with fouls aplenty,
especially by the Dutch, yet despite the yellow-card count, several more
were missed by the ref but broadcast on TV.
But if the referee doesn't spot your foul, you've got
Feeble Yellow Card Soccer's yellow card is a pathetic sanction, as we saw in the
Netherlands/Spain final. The offender plays blithely on and
suffers no real punishment (eg a sending-off) unless he is foolish
enough to collect a second one (as Mr Heitinger did). So it is a
very feeble deterrent to foul play.
Conversely, the red card is such a harsh punishment that
it is rarely issued.
What is absent is a meaningful
“medium-level” disciplinary measure that would inflict sufficient
pain to constrain bad behaviour at an early stage, but without ruining
Barracking the Referee Finally, there is the constant arguing of players with the referee.
Often he is clearly intimidated, to the extent of being
driven back by a crowd of angry young men shouting and waving their arms
because they happen to disagree with his decision. (The photo
shows Manchester United doing the barracking.)
The ref appears to be powerless to deal with this kind of behaviour, and
therefore gets more of it.
In big games it's probably partly because the players
are much better paid, more famous and more influential than he is, he
doesn't want to blot his copybook for the future and, disgracefully, he
cannot count on FIFA's unequivocal support.
So what are the remedies?
Pretty simple, really. Learn
from other games.
tennis or cricket:
Introduce goal-line technology.
If Wimbledon's hawk-eye system is
deemed too slow, there is another promising German system known as
Cairos GLT (=
“goal line technology”).
This involves burying wiring in the goal area and putting a chip in the
football which sends an instant goal-no-goal signal via computer to the
referee's wristwatch. It apparently costs just £7,000 per stadium.
No doubt other technology systems
àOn discipline, copy rugby:
A yellow card earns ten minutes in the sin-bin.
The wrongdoer is thereby meaningfully punished but also - to his
shame - so is his team.
Barrack the referee, and each time he advances
the free kick ten metres towards the opponent's goal.
Too much ref-barracking earns a yellow card.
Where, but for a foul a goal would definitely
have been scored, as in the Suárez handball case against
Ghana, award a penalty-goal in addition to the appropriate sanction
levied on the perpetrator.
Where video evidence shows foul play or diving,
whether or not spotted by the referee, cite the player after the
game and impose suitable punishment.
The relevant governing body (eg FIFA) should
back the referee's decision in all circumstances. If it is
unhappy, the remedy is to not use the ref in future but not to
undermine his past decisions.
These simple and above all
proven measures would hugely enhance soccer as a worthy game.
I was asked by a colleague to provide some brief feedback on three posts
about BP's Macondo blowout and oil spill. They are written by
Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute, with titles suitably
mordant in line with the PCI's own name.
is a prolific American author of eight books and numerous treatises, as
well as a public speaker, all on the need to wean ourselves off fossil
fuels, that peak oil is imminent and that we are all pretty much doomed.
Interestingly, although he gives the impression of being an academic, he
doesn't seem to have graduated with any kind of third-level degree from
anywhere, his main qualification being that he is a
at the Post
Carbon Institute. The PCI
is a small-ish think-tank (eight staff) in California established in
2003, which seems to be committed to promoting the man-made
Answering the fundamental query whether the
is real or overblown, it
just 160 words ending with an exasperated “End
Like any zealous religious cult, the PCI clearly has little patience
with asinine questions.
But, unqualified for anything as he
appears to be, Mr Heinberg has penned no fewer than 4,237 words in the above
three posts, and I have read every turgid one of them (so you don't have
to). Judging from this selfless exercise, I would conclude that PCI
Senior Fellowshipness relies not on the content of what is written but on
a carelessness towards facts,
a rather incurious approach to science
and engineering, and
a generally flatulent writing style.
For example, Mr Heinberg postulates
(without any data) that the casing within the Macondo well might be
breached, with reservoir pressure causing the whole well to collapse into a
crater. This is ridiculous science. With a clear path for the
reservoir pressure to escape up the wellbore driving gas and oil into the
sea, there can be no differential forces at reservoir level to cause such a
He happily parrots consultant Matt Simon
who says without a shred of evidence that it could take 24 years to kill
Macondo (my maximum estimate would be one year).
Mr Simon is the author of
“Twilight in the Desert”
which makes a case that Saudi Arabian oil production has peaked. In
fact, as I
wrote four years ago, Mr Simon seems completely unaware of Saudi's huge
scope to squeeze much more oil out of its existing fields and to discover
more fields. It simply has to apply the latest technology and accept
robust returns on investment rather than the ridiculously outlandish levels
to which those spoiled princes have become accustomed. Mr
Simons' analysis and prognostications can be too shallow and should not be
accepted at face value.
Actually, Mr Heinberg is only too willing
to accept the words of anyone who will enhance his doomsday storyline, without a thought for the
quality of his source.
He also repeats multiple errors, for
It's not the Deepwater Horizon spill, it the Macondo spill
It is by far not the worst spill in US history (not yet);
He thinks cargo ships can't operate in
“oil drenched waters”.
He thinks oil price spikes and shortages are bad
for the oil industry but in fact they rejuvenate it.
He fears hurricanes could delay clean-up and relief
well activities - yet they will probably be equally beneficial in
spreading and degrading spilled oil
He thinks the relief wells must intersect Macondo
on the first try, whereas several stabs are routinely needed before
hitting the bullseye.
He writes a
long, meandering, meaningless essay about the need for
“courage”. He seems to mean that Governments should do stuff
(green stuff of course) even when their electorate don't want it, which is
normally the prerogative of totalitarian regimes.
But I can't go on any further; it's all just too boring
- but you get the idea.
Not a word that Mr Heinberg writes should be taken
seriously. From a position of considerable ignorance, he is spoofing from start to finish, sprinkling the
occasional fact here and there like some kind of stardust.
I wouldn't suggest you not bother clicking on the three
links at the start of this post.
Footnote (11th July):
I submitted a brief comment at the end of each of the three
Richard Heinberg posts, each stating that my own observations could be
viewed on the Tallrite Blog and providing a link to this post.
Despite 54 other comments appearing,
mine have been blocked. I wonder why.
Actually I don't. It is normal
behaviour for religious cults to excise all signs of heresy.
The idea of building
a giant mosque on Ground Zero in New York is beyond parody. But it's
apparently going ahead (unless Americans can screw up the courage to stop
It seems that many
Americans think that objecting to such a mosque is somehow, well, nasty to
Muslims, without regard to whether such a mosque might itself be somehow,
well, nasty to non-Muslims, especially those connected with the viciously
murdered 2,976 innocents on that terrible day in September 2001.
this is the same country that built, as a memorial to the heroes of United
Airlines flight 93, where the passengers attacked and overcame the Jihadist
hijackers thereby aborting the mission, albeit at the cost of the lives of
everyone aboard, a
“Crescent of Embrace”.
One can hardly conceive of a more
insulting or tasteless tribute to those 36 upstanding citizens who were
violently slaughtered by an Islamic
“Crescent of Embrace”.
This one-minute video,
Audacity of Jihad”, sets out the case against the
Ground Zero mosque.
There are, however,
even moves afoot to suppress it.
Late Note (27th July 2010)
Englishman Pat Condell articulates what Americans themselves should be
The mosque is to be called
a choice of name which
could hardly be more provocative to Christians and triumphant for Muslims.
As Raymond Ibrahim, a Christian Arab
scholar of Islam
the Christian city of Cordoba in Spain
“was conquered by Muslims around 711,
its inhabitants slaughtered or enslaved. The original mosque of Cordoba
— the namesake of the Ground Zero mosque —
was built atop, and partly from the materials of, a Christian church”.
Undoubtedly, the uncontrolled blowout
of oil and gas from the 5,500 metre deep Macondo well while being
drilled by BP in 1,522 metres of water is amongst the worst disasters to
have resulted in the history of the hydrocarbon exploration and
production industry. Only the most dedicated and skilful of human
ingenuity and engineering grunt, without regard to cost, will bring it
back under control and make it permanently safe.
But, despite what “expert” after
“expert”, up to and including the White House energy adviser (and top
environmental adviser) Carol Browner and her boss have told us, it is
certainly not the worst such catastrophe, at least not yet. Eleven men
were killed, which is an untold and never-ending tragedy for each of
their families. But, for example, when in 1988 the North Sea's Piper
Alpha platform, operated by America's Occidental Petroleum exploded
(twice) and was destroyed, the appalling death toll was 167.
We are similarly misinformed that
Macondo represents America's worst environmental disaster, worse even
than the Exxon Valdez in 1989. Firstly, though we know the oil tanker
Exxon Valdez spilled 250,000 barrels of heavy viscous crude because that
was its capacity, no-one knows the Macondo flow rate because there is no
way to measure it. Every single figure being bandied about, from 2,000
bbl/day to 80,000 or more is based on nothing other than humans
eyeballing the flow as depicted by underwater TV cameras; there is no
science involved whatsoever other than measuring the oil that is
In any case what is relevant is the
environmental damage being done. The Valdez ran aground and spewed its
treacly load just four kilometres from Bligh Island and fifteen from the
Alaskan mainland, so all the wild life and beaches were instantly
devastated. By contrast, Macondo is 80
kilometres offshore and its crude is lighter and more volatile, so that
much of it is simply evaporating in the balmy Gulf of Mexico weather,
being biodegraded by wave action and spreading out thinly as it makes
its leisurely way towards land or further out to sea. That is, the oil
that has escaped BP's clever ruse of applying dispersant at the seabed.
On top of that BP has contracted an armada, largely from local fishing
communities, of 1,400 vessels and 20,000 people to boom and skim and
scoop the oil to keep it from the coastline. Consequently, our TV
screens are not depicting mile upon mile of blackened beaches and tens
of thousands of oil-covered birds and animals that were such a shocking
feature of the Valdez calamity, nor indeed docks brimming with idle
As for the
total amount of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, Macondo is a long
way from the record of 1979's Ixtoc blowout in just fifty metres of
water in the Bay of Campeche. It leaked 3.3 million barrels over a
nine-month period before finally being capped, having despoiled nearly
3,000 square kilometres over 260 kilometres of mainly Texas coastline,
and killed up to 80% of marine life.
instructive, however, that thanks to rigorous clean-up and nature´s own
recovery mechanisms neither the Valdez nor Ixtoc caused lasting damage
to the environment. Likewise, we can be sure BP is big and rich enough
to fulfil its promise to make good all its mess, eventually.
public figures have failed to put perspective on the Macondo blowout,
they have displayed similar ignorance concerning the extraordinary
technological efforts BP has been applying in reducing the flow until
such time as the two relief wells reach their target.
BP has been
working with up to 20 surface ships in close proximity, each held in
position by satellite-centred dynamic positioning, most trailing some
kind of piping or electric cabling to control a device at seabottom,
ensuring activities are co-ordinated and nothing gets tangled. In the
cold, pressurised, lightless, hostile environment 1,522 metres
underwater, BP has been using some fourteen unmanned submarines to
conduct a series of intricate manoeuvres such as shoving, tugging,
manipulating, cutting, grinding, positioning, connecting, observing.
But because few understand the engineering that is going on and it
cannot be seen, interest in this astounding activity is scant. So the
ignorant assumption is that it is all a bit amateurish with silly names
like topkill and BOP. But BP has been systematically applying one
imaginative potential solution after another, each one carefully thought
through with failures and back-ups accounted for in their plans. No
organization could be tackling this massive challenge more
professionally than BP and every attempt to distract it reduces its
chances of success.
Nevertheless, BP's highly professional (if unrecognized as such)
approach to the problem it has created does stand in stark contrast to
the events leading up to it, which indeed are highly questionable. A
lot of evidence suggest disgraceful, last-minute, cost-reducing short
cuts at the expense of best practice and proper planning.
A couple of weeks ago, the day after
the US Administration subjected Tony Haywood and BP to a $20 billion
“shakedown” (Congressman Joe Barton's word), Mr Haywood appeared before
a Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce to be grilled on
primetime TV, ostensibly about these events.
earlier it had sent him a fourteen page letter detailing five technical
areas where BP had arguably cut corners to save time and thus money on
this million-dollars-a-day well. It was superbly crafted, meticulous in
its technical detail, leaving very little wriggle-room for Mr Haywood.
Yet when it came to the hearing, the search for the truth of what caused
the blowout was overwhelmed by the Congressmen's and Congresswomen's
overweening desire to demonstrate their toughness. In opening
statements lasting over an hour, they one by one expressed their horror,
fury and disdain in what felt like a public lynching, yet not the
slightest modicum of curiosity.
real questioning began, the aggressive tone continued, yet the questions
singularly failed to delve into the acute technical issues so adeptly
exposed in the letter. In turn this allowed Mr Haywood to repeat his
mantra that BP was still investigating, he wasn't a technical expert,
action would be taken and other evasions. It was patently clear that
the interrogators themselves had not bothered to swot up their subject –
or even studied their own letter - and were therefore cautious not to
dig too deeply.
example, it was pointless to ask Mr Haywood if, were he on the rig, he
would have cancelled the “CBL” (cement bond log, an expensive technique
for estimating how effectively pipe has been cemented in place). This
simply allowed him to slide away by saying cementing was not his area of
expertise. It would have been far more incisive to demand a straight
answer to the question implicit in the letter – why did BP cancel the
CBL? But a coherent response risked the terrifying prospect of exposing
the Congressional interrogators' ignorance, so it was safer to emote and
of ignorance meant that the Congressional enquiry, for all its cost and
distraction, yielded not a single additional piece of useful information
beyond what was in its letter.
think that not just for BP, but for the US Administration and the
general public, the most important issue right now is to kill that damn
well, make it permanently safe and clean up any damage, and that nothing
should be allowed to stand in the way of this and every assistance
Yet the US administration seems to apportion
greater priority not to winning this gargantuan battle against nature
but to launching enquiries, belligerent “kick ass” blather, criminal
investigations. This is the behaviour of ignorance.
Once Macondo is solved – and it will be –
there will be plenty of years and decades for anger,
recrimination, retribution, lawsuits, enquiries, investigations,
compensation, fines, prison sentences, sanctions or whatever, and to do
it properly. The future is a long time.
Caging Tiger-think key to Ireland's economic revival Comment on an Opinion piece in the Irish Times
on 20th July 2010 You have argued strongly for more stimulus. But answer me this. A
stimulus involves the State spending money to promote growth, which in
turn means the State decides where and how to spend the stimulus money.
What gives you the slightest confidence that the State (indeed, any
state including the USA) knows the best way to spend such money?
The State, because its priorities are so different from those of
business, is structurally and systemically incapable ...
Moral trade-off muddies aid or trade debate Comment on Irish Times opinion piece
on 16th July 2010
There is no doubt that aid to feed the
starving is ultimately destructive, and indeed feeds not so much those
originally targeted but the scale of the original poverty and in many
cases terrorism. If ever evidence was needed about the long-term
negative consequences of indiscriminate aid, just look at Ethiopia. In
Bob Geldof's Live Aid era (1983) Ethiopia's population was 17m ...
Food for thoughtP! Letter published in the Sunday Times Minette Marrin asserts that parents feed their
children fattening food because it's cheap. These foods are in fact much more expensive than healthy
foods, and the "poor" can afford them only because their poverty is relative
not absolute. A trip to any supermarket will soon reveal that
potatoes, meat and water are ...
Do you think full civil marriage rights should be
extended to same-sex couples? Comment on an Irish Times poll question (64% voted Yes) No. The state has no reason to extend any marriage-type concessions to
any groups whatsoever other than (A) male-female pairings and in
particular (B) marriage (meaning life-time commitment). These
alone procreate new citizens [with most chance of] growing into
productive, peaceful adults ...
have no f**king soul ... And my soul is screaming because you don’t have one to
join mine. You have no f**king soul. You can’t give a f**k. I left my wife
because we had no spiritual common ground. You and I have none, zero. You
won’t even f**king try.”
Mel Gibson, divorced,
fervid Catholic, Jew-hating
Oscar-winning movie star and director,
displays his sensitive side, as he
engages in a spiritual discussion about souls with his mistress,
the classical musician Oksana Grigorieva.
Quote [not online]:
“She was only a whisky
maker, but he loved her still.”
Ginger Meggs, Australian
Hat-tip: Graham in Perth
“Radical leaders prey on the
fearful and naive.” [Added
They were later prevailed upon (I
wonder buy whom?) to remove it
as “the pictures overwhelmed the intended message of
Quote: “Dutch researcher Sara Kinsbergen caused some
amusement when she categorised the different types of
non-governmental organisations flooding the developing world into
QuaNGOs (quasi-autonomous NGOs);
BoNGOs, (business-organised NGOs);
ENGOs, (environmental NGOs);
INGOs, (institutional NGOs);
GoNGOs (government NGOs) and of course
MoNGO (my own NGO) – one-off charities
set up by individuals. ”
Columnist Sarah Carey, commenting on
a recent conference
organised by Dóchas, Ireland's umbrella organisation for NGOs.
There's a whole new vocabulary we
need to learn.
Quote: “I do leave my religion behind me and I genuinely mean
that. While we all have our beliefs and our own religions, I don’t
think it should cloud our judgment.”
[Added July 12th]
The clownish Dermot Ahern,
Ireland's one-time Foreign Minister currently Justice Minister,
doesn't want his judgement clouded by, well, judgement.
He has just forced through a Civil
which for no return to the State
grants the financial benefits of marriage to gay and unmarried
- provided they are sex-oriented.
(No room for cohabiting maiden aunts)
Either Mr Ahern believes in his Roman
in which case he is deeply sinful for wilfully abandoning its moral
when he goes to work;
or he doesn't, in which case he is a
every time he walks into a church.
Either way he is a man without a true
He really should have stuck to his
and without a compass of any kind so he could stay missing longer.
cannot live with a nuclear Iran. I am willing to absorb what takes
place [in the event of use of the military option] at the
expense of the security of the UAE.”
Yousef al-Otaiba, United Arab
Emirates ambassador to the United States,
in unusually blunt remarks, endorses an attack on
Iran's nuclear facilities to disable its bomb-making programme.
John Bolton, America's pugnacious
ambassador to the UN under George W Bush
reckons Mr al-Otaiba echoes the misgivings of many Arab countries.
Since we know President Obama won't
upset his Iranian dictator friends,
it seems only Israel can make the Arab world safe.
Ironic, isn't it?
am convinced that his honour would have ruled differently had he
been sitting in the Sderot youth cultural centre, rather than on
Brighton's sunny shores.”
Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador
to the UK, makes a caustic observation when
Judge George Bathurst-Norman tells a jury in Brighton that life for
As a result, vandals
who wilfully caused £180,000-worth of damage
to a factory fulfilling an arms contract for Israel, walked free.
Update (3rd July)
reveals that the judge,
who it turns out was born in the Arab town of Jaffa (opposite Tel
has form in going easy on anti-Semites those who
have killed hundreds and thousands of Afghans and Iraqis.”
Grayson, Democratic Congressman from Florida
addresses the House in an appeal to, in effect,
declare defeat in the Middle East and run away.
is this ignoramus actually proclaiming?
The vast majority of killings of Afghans and Iraqis
have been perpetrated by depraved Islamic Jihadists
who want to deny Afghans and Iraqis their human rights
including the right to rule themselves.
(and Brits et al) are the ones
who are trying to PREVENT this slaughter.
the Jihadists stopped their killing,
the Afghan war would be over, as indeed the Iraq war largely is.
American envoy is scheduled to meet with Hamas representatives in an
Arab country and hand them a letter from the Obama Administration.”
Roee Nahmias, a
journalist with Israel News,
makes a shocking accusation (or revelation).
Is it true?
Quote: “World sees Obama
as incompetent and amateur.”
Headline in US News & World
Report to a column by Martin Zuckerman.
For some of us [ahem],
this has been obvious since the Primaries in 2008
“The educational system in America is designed by Whites to mis-educate
Blacks not by benign neglect but by malignant intent. The
civil-rights movement was never about racial equality.
Instead, It was always about becoming White ... to master what
The ever reliable Rev Jeremiah Wright,
preacher and mentor to Barack Obama and his family for over
twenty years, launches a fresh racist diatribe against Whites.
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy
is a delightful novel-style history of modern Israel and Palestine told
through the eyes of a thoughtful protagonist from either side, with a
household lemon tree as their unifying theme.
But it's not
entirely honest in its subtle pro-Palestinian bias, and therefore needs
to be read in conjunction with an antidote, such as
This examines events which led to BP's 2010 Macondo blowout in
the Gulf of Mexico.
BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded it through adventurous
acquisitions, aggressive offshore exploration, and relentless
cost-reduction that trumped everything else, even safety and long-term
Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in
refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in
The Macondo blowout was but an inevitable outcome of a BP culture that
had become poisonous and incompetent.
However the book is gravely compromised by a
litany of over 40 technical and stupid
errors that display the author's ignorance and
It would be better
to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying.
As for BP, only a
wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will
prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once
mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.
nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’sincredible story of survival in the Far
East during World War II.
After recounting a
childhood of convention and simple pleasures in working-class Aberdeen,
Mr Urquhart is conscripted within days of Chamberlain declaring war on
Germany in 1939.
From then until the
Japanese are deservedly nuked into surrendering six years later, Mr
Urquhart’s tale is one of first discomfort but then following the fall
of Singapore of ever-increasing, unmitigated horror.
After a wretched
journey Eastward, he finds himself part of Singapore’s big but useless
Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in
1941, he is, successively,
part of a death march to Thailand,
a slave labourer on the Siam/Burma
railway (one man died for every sleeper laid),
regularly beaten and tortured,
racked by starvation, gaping ulcers
and disease including cholera,
a slave labourer stevedoring at
shipped to Japan in a stinking,
closed, airless hold with 900 other sick and dying men,
torpedoed by the Americans and left
drifting alone for five days before being picked up,
a slave-labourer in Nagasaki until
blessed liberation thanks to the Americans’ “Fat Boy” atomic
distraught and traumatised on return to Aberdeen yet disdained by the
British Army, he slowly reconstructs a life. Only in his late 80s
is he able finally to recount his dreadful experiences in this
There are very few
first-person eye-witness accounts of the the horrors of Japanese
brutality during WW2. As such this book is an invaluable historical
“Culture of Corruption:
Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies”
This is a rattling good tale of the web
of corruption within which the American president and his cronies
operate. It's written by blogger Michele Malkin who, because she's both
a woman and half-Asian, is curiously immune to the charges of racism and
sexism this book would provoke if written by a typical Republican WASP.
With 75 page of notes to back up - in
best blogger tradition - every shocking and in most cases money-grubbing
allegation, she excoriates one Obama crony after another, starting with
the incumbent himself and his equally tricky wife.
Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarett,
Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Steven Rattner, both Clintons, Chris
Dodd: they all star as crooks in this venomous but credible book.
ACORN, Mr Obama's favourite community
organising outfit, is also exposed for the crooked vote-rigging machine
This much trumpeted sequel to
Freakonomics is a bit of disappointment.
It is really just
a collation of amusing
little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour
and situations. For example:
Drunk walking kills more people per
kilometer than drunk driving.
People aren't really altruistic -
they always expect a return of some sort for good deeds.
Child seats are a waste of money as
they are no safer for children than adult seatbelts.
Though doctors have known for
centuries they must wash their hands to avoid spreading infection,
they still often fail to do so.
Monkeys can be taught to use washers
as cash to buy tit-bits - and even sex.
The book has no real
message other than don't be surprised how humans sometimes behave and
try to look for simple rather than complex solutions.
And with a final
anecdote (monkeys, cash and sex), the book suddenly just stops dead in
its tracks. Weird.
A remarkable, coherent attempt by Financial Times economist Alan Beattie
to understand and explain world history through the prism of economics.
It's chapters are
organised around provocative questions such as
Why does asparagus come from Peru?
Why are pandas so useless?
Why are oil and diamonds more trouble
than they are worth?
Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine?
It's central thesis
is that economic development continues to be impeded in different
countries for different historical reasons, even when the original
rationale for those impediments no longer obtains. For instance:
Argentina protects its now largely
foreign landowners (eg George Soros)
Russia its military-owned
businesses, such as counterfeit DVDs
The US its cotton industry
comprising only 1% of GDP and 2% of its workforce
The author writes
in a very chatty, light-hearted matter which makes the book easy to
However it would
benefit from a few charts to illustrate some of the many quantitative
points put forward, as well as sub-chaptering every few pages to provide
natural break-points for the reader.
This is a thrilling book of derring-do behind enemy lines in the jungles
of north-east Burma in 1942-44 during the Japanese occupation.
The author was
a member of Britain's V Force, a forerunner of the SAS. Its remit was to
harass Japanese lines of
command, patrol their occupied territory, carryout sabotage and provide
intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping the enemy out of
is admirably yet brutally frank, in his
descriptions of deathly battles with the Japs, his execution of a
prisoner, dodging falling bags of rice dropped by the RAF, or collapsing
in floods of tears through accumulated stress, fear and loneliness.
He also provides some fascinating insights into the mentality of
Japanese soldiery and why it failed against the flexibility and devolved
authority of the British.
The book amounts to
a very human and exhilarating tale.
Oh, and Irwin
describes the death in 1943 of his colleague my uncle, Major PF