Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What's big, yellow...

I was never good at those shark in the custard jokes.

Two letters in reply to a piece I missed in the Indy (which I am sure is traceable):

Sir: Your feature on the huge area of land occupied by oilseed rape (12 May) made me recall a conversation with my father, a former airline pilot. I remarked about how much of France and England were covered in yellow fields and he said that this was how you could tell, from 37,000 feet, where the boundaries of the EU were. Present airline pilots may like to confirm if this is still the case. This would seem to indicate that the supply of oilseed rape products is determined by subsidy, rather than demand.

Sir: "The Rape of Spring"?(article, 12 May) "Garish"; "Slicks of Day-Glo yellow"; "an intercontinental crisis"? What an emotive introduction to a report that fails to find any evidence for a major role for oilseed rape in hay fever. This is a crop that produces a useful and healthy oil, which could also help to cut our carbon dioxide production.

Interesting. I am also keen to understand how it helps cut our CO2 production.

This allows me to air one of my odd ponders, like what happens to the inland climate if we suck all the energy out of the air coming in from the sea with wind farms (just asking - it may be minimal).

I remember an album from my youth, called, I think, Albedo 0.39, which was the reflectivity of the Earth.

My ponder is what the effect of such high reflectivity crops are vs. a darker green on the whole sun beating down thing? One has to presume there may be one if the coverage gets significant.

It struck me as I was leaving the UK for Geneva to help save the planet with RE:tie. By air, I have to admit. But as the Indy did point out yesterday - Deforestation: The hidden cause of global warming (I must mention two things. One is that I do recall us all being a bit worried about cutting down rain forests even when I was a kid, so how hidden it is/was escapes me. Two: that's no excuse to keep on wasting away now) - the whole travel thing rather pales (pun intended) in comparison to other effects... possibly.

Grist - If not an answer, a lead to further info

Calls are free. The shrink bill is mounting.

Speaking of count-ups (see previous post).

Today is day 5 of my Skype saga.

Goaded by a more tech-literate mate in Hong Kong, and the promise of free calls, I last week ordered up a handset.

And this weekend I played software roulette with this piece of hardware and the various online options between our PCs and Macs, made all the more fun by the various drivers coming on disks that won't fit into a Mac, and when they do fit in the PC then clashing with the XP OS.

So far, all I now have a very good, extra, instant messaging system, but then what was wrong with email, especially as you don't waste all morning saying hello to and fro? And I can hear the other end but can't seem to get my voice heard even though the test says if you can hear yourself (which I can) then it's all spiffy, while the online icon says 'Skype can't hear you'.

So far, it is: Me = 0. Skype = 0. My psychiatrist = kids through college.

News, new, slow news day

I don't really have much to lose with most parts (a few nice, notable, exceptions, who are the only ones likely to be reading this) of the BBC these days, so what the hey.

Turned on at 5.30am to get straight into day whatever of the Maddyfest. Concerned journalists and anchors here and there swapping war stories about how the beastly Portuguese coppers don't give press conferences BECAUSE THEY ... ER... 'WE' NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON!!!! No irony at all when they interview a Brit policeman who mutters that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing here to be allowed to get on with their jobs rather than having to tell the bad guys (I didn't mean the media, but...) every ten seconds what they may or may not be doing to satisfy the demands of the media.

And now, having got that off my chest, here is the rest of the news.

Seems a highly-funded bunch of academics has announced a study that pumping out endless 'We're all toast' climate change doom 'n gloom stories to a willing and eager ratings machine such as our media... isn't helping much. Check back a few years to see why I can only ponder, with some rueful shaking of head, that I wish I'd said that. Oh, I did. Along with a few (not many) others. And I told a few media outlets, such as the BBC, but maybe offering a word of caution on the responsibility of outrageous reporting wasn't quite in keeping with their journalistic standards of... 'WE'RE ALL DOOMED! - say eco-activists with book tours', vs. 'NO, WE'RE NOT! - say big-oil funded deniers'. Which ever way, the ratings flames are fanned to good effect by those less interested in the truth, accuracy and a better future tomorrow, than a good headline today.

And so we come to Declan, 'discussing' (if that is what his slot can be called) train travel today, looking as cute and cuddly as ever in his Thomas the Tank outfit on the footplate of a steam train. Now, remind me, how do these things work? Oh, yes, they burn vast amounts of of coal, and not very efficiently belch it out of their smokestack. Ah, well, a little artistic licence in the name of good TV, eh? But one wonders when he'll be off to the Arctic to 'study' global warming.

Anyway, a point was made. The eco-family tested out a train and the car. Train = fun. Car = chore. No contest. But... Train = loadsamunny, plus lots more per person. Oops. There's also the small matter of where you are setting off from and going to. Plus flexibility. And convenience. And...

I am leaving soon for the first day of the Total Packaging Show at the NEC. I need to get there, do the biz and get back. Money, time and convenience. On a good day in the car outside of rush-hour I can get there in about an hour, and back to get in more work, for about a tenner in petrol. In that time I may just about have got a bus to Gloucester to the station, if one runs at the right time and there is a train. And I have a family to feed by every minute of my day being used to try and make my business work. Because the demands of those in power require that.

Sorry, no contest. So I am not sure what point was served by the piece, as it merely served to confirm my situation. As far as I was aware, not one jot of 'discussion' about how to improve matters was attempted. Plus ca change...

But I think they are flying more reporters to the Iberian Peninsula. The weather is lovely there at this time of year, I gather.

Indy - Wild theories and a warped sense of priorities - at least they didn't also put the latest 'scoop' on the front page.

Indy - Reporting The Hunt For Madeleine: Media and police collide on the Algarve - Has a nice sense of irony and moral outrage, though you do suspect they are also not averse to feeding off it all. One thing that does come across, to me at least, is how sidelined the actual finding of the little girl has become to the process of reporting upon the cirrus surrounding it.