You’re Never Too Old, They Say. But I Am

My depressing whinge about age.

For my 49th birthday treat, I went to see Shakespeare in Love at the Noël Coward theatre in London. Expensive but worth it: spry, funny, uplifting and moving but also, for all the surface froth, quite a deep meditation on the creative process and the enduring power of art.

What everyone secretly loves best about it, though, I suspect, is the way it so shamelessly flatters their intelligence. We’re all aware that Shakespeare wrote a sonnet that begins ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’; that Marlowe was stabbed to death in a pub brawl; that Malvolio wears yellow stockings and cross garters. This is basic, middlebrow general knowledge. But the way the show plays with these details and weaves them into the plot without bashing you on the head or over-explaining has the pleasing effect of making you feel like you’re in on a private joke which only an exclusive few get.

The performances in the new stage version are a delight, especially David Oakes’s languid Kit Marlowe and Lucy Briggs-Owen’s adorable Viola De Lesseps. But the thing that really makes this production sing is the live incidental music (as was also the case with two of the other excellent productions I’ve loved recently: War Horse and the RSC Richard II). Nothing quite beats a nice bit of crumhorn or viol or plainsong or rustic balladry to get you in the right period mood.

Don’t worry, though. This isn’t an audition for Lloyd Evans’s job. I’d absolutely bloody hate to be a theatre critic, not least because I remember from my time as a showbiz correspondent in the early 1990s that perhaps eight in every ten productions you have to see are dross. Rather, I wanted to muse a little on the career choices I’ve made and on the regrets that now haunt me as a result. Fellow nearly-fiftysomethings — and post-fiftysomethings — will I’m sure understand where I’m coming from. Time is running out and the options are closing by the day.

Read the rest of my depressing whinge at The Spectator.

Related posts:

  1. Territorial imperative


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John Clare: Your Favourite New Old Poet

July 31, 2014

John Clare (1793-1864)

This has been a terrible year for horseflies. It’s bad enough if you’re human: often by the time you swat them off the damage has already been wrought by their revolting, cutting mandibles and it’s not till 24 hours later, I find, that the bite reaches peak unpleasantness, swelling into a huge itchy dome which somehow never quite generates the massive sympathy you feel you deserve. But obviously it’s worse if you’ve no hands to swat them with, as Girl and I were reminded when we went out for a summer ride.

Every few yards our mounts shuddered and twitched and twisted their heads back under sustained and vicious assault from the evil clegs. Sometimes, you could see the blood. ‘Kill them! Keep killing them!’ commanded our teacher, Jane, explaining how you had constantly to watch each other’s horses and squash all the biters that their own riders couldn’t reach. It struck me that the horse’s tail is a perfect example of Darwinian natural selection: any proto-horse that lacked such a vital anti-cleg device would soon have been driven by madness to early extinction. (Lessons there for the Conservative party, surely?)

Anyway, days later, I was reading the July entry from my monthly literary treat The Shepherd’s Calendar and I came upon this couplet about horses: ‘Switching their tails and turning round/ To knap the gadflys teazing wound’. And as I often do with John Clare I felt that thrill of delighted recognition at yet another instance of rural life so acutely observed and perfectly expressed. Truly if you love the country there is no finer poet than Clare.

Read more at The Spectator

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Women Can’t Do Comedy

If there’s one thing everyone knows about BBC comedy it’s that it’s going downhill. According to Danny Cohen, now Director of BBC Television, it’s too white and middle class; according to producer John ‘Blackadder’ Lloyd, it’s run by idiots like the bureaucrats in the BBC satire W1A who don’t understand what comedy is; according to the gag-inducingly PC Dara O’Briain, it’s too gag-inducingly PC (he means the quota system they’re trying to introduce whereby every comedy panel show must have a token female); according to John Cleese, it’s never been the same since John Cleese left; etc.

Probably they’re all right. I hardly ever watch comedy series any more because they’re invariably full of young people being free and having lots of messed-up fun while yet asking us to feel sorry for them. But this week, just to check what the kids are up to, I thought I’d have a look at Comedy Feeds — the BBC’s now-annual newbie talent contest for sitcoms and sketch shows.

Read the full article at the Spectator

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  3. Territorial imperative
  4. I’m sure Richard Curtis doesn’t really want to kill my children. Well, I say that …


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BBC Goes for It

Which is the worse crime, would you say: eavesdropping on celebrities’ answerphones? Or hosting and covering up for a ruthless predatory paedophile ring — led by your biggest, most heavily promoted star — over a period of four decades?

Mm, me too. In fact, I’d say the Savile affair is as close as we’ll ever get to proving that God really hates the BBC. I mean, the timing is far too perfect to be coincidental, isn’t it? First we get Leveson — essentially a stitch-up by the BBC and the Guardian to entrench the power of the bien-pensant establishment, increase regulation and destroy the free market (especially Rupert Murdoch). Then, just when the tofu-eating turbine-huggers think they’ve won — zing! — a lightning bolt from heaven in the form of a scandal so sordid, so vast, so compromising that it makes Leveson look about as inconsequential as gossip overheard at the laundrette while waiting for your smalls to finish their tumbledry.

Full marks, obviously, to ITV for setting the ball rolling earlier this month with Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile. But full marks, too, to Panorama (Monday) for a belated follow-up as hard-hitting and brutally frank and riveting as any documentary I’ve seen. Some anti-BBC types on Twitter seemed to think that this was just another weaselly exercise in BBC face-saving. Really? I thought it was savage: utterly, grippingly, almost unbearably so, like watching a once-revered pack leader suddenly stumbling and being torn to pieces by the junior wolves.

Usually when the BBC does self-criticism, it’s just an exercise in faux-openness and pretend accountability. On Radio 4’s Feedback, for example, listeners are permitted to be heard raging about vital matters such as the use of intrusive background music on documentaries; then a producer comes on to respond that intrusive background music is a matter of taste. Meanwhile, the issues where the BBC is seriously, dangerously at fault — its ingrained political correctness, its grotesque institutional bias on everything from Israel to ‘climate change’ — continue to be swept under the carpet.

Read the rest at the Spectator.

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Treating Islam with Special Reverence Is Cultural Suicide and Just Plain Wrong

My brilliant niece Freya was talking to my brother the other day about the religious education curriculum at her predominately white, middle-class state school in a pretty English cathedral city. She happened to mention ‘Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him.’ ‘Eh?’ said my brother. ‘It’s what we’re taught at school. After we mention “Mohammed” we have to say “Peace be upon him”.’

Now I know what you’re thinking: that Freya must surely have got the wrong end of the stick. ‘If this were a madrassa in Bradford, well maybe,’ you’ll be thinking. ‘But at a white, middle-class state school in a pretty English cathedral city? No way. Things aren’t that bad. At least not yet, anyway…’

But Freya is not stupid. That’s why, at the beginning, I referred to her as my ‘brilliant’ niece as opposed to my ‘incredibly thick’ one. Apparently, she assures me, they’ve been taught to use the ‘peace be upon him’ formula since Year 7 and though they’re allowed to shorten it to PBUH, they’re definitely not supposed to call him just Mohammed. ‘There’s sometimes the odd snigger when the phrase comes up but we’ve been conditioned pretty much to accept it as normal,’ says Freya. ‘It’s a bit weird, given that there’s only two Muslim kids in my year of 100.’

I find this scary for at least two reasons. The first is what it says about the death of our national identity. When Freya’s father and I were at school, we had to go to ‘chapel’ once a day, and twice on Sundays. In our scripture classes we were taught all the key bible stories, even to the point of having to learn the names of all the apostles. It didn’t turn us into religious freaks — anything but. What it did instil in us, however, was a sense of history and tradition. Like generations before us we were members of the Anglican Church, familiar with the same tales, the same liturgy, the same hymns and psalms, the same rituals, the same boredom.

Before the 1980s, I suspect, this was the experience of most British children, regardless of their race or religious background. It wasn’t a question of forcing Christianity down anyone’s throat — merely an accepted part of the fabric of British life. You went to church (at least occasionally — Christmas at any rate) in the same way you watched Top of the Pops and Morecambe and Wise, or you had roast beef and Yorkshire pud for Sunday lunch. It just was what you did.

Not any more. Sure, the old religion is still covered in RE classes, but at state schools like Freya’s only as an equally valid and certainly by no means preferable alternative to Judaism, Sikhism, Islam and the rest. ‘Jesus was the son of God! Do you agree?’ asks a sample Key Stage 3 question from Freya’s school website. Well, what a bloody stupid question to ask an 11-year-old. How are they possibly going to be intellectually equipped to produce any kind of meaningful answer?

(to read more, click here)

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  4. I feel the need to offer Wikipedia some ammunition in its quest to discredit me


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I Have Faith in George Monbiot’s Sincerity, Whoever’s Paying Him

The other day George Monbiot of the Guardian had me round for the weekend at his country seat in Machynlleth, Wales. You’ll never guess what we had for dinner after a fine afternoon’s sport shooting the red kite which infest that region like a verminous plague. First, we had leatherback turtle soup; then a delicious tranche of foie gras à la Nigella; then a superb escalope of cruel-reared veal in a wild okapi reduction on a bed of endangered tropical hardwood; then

then finally, the pièce de résistance, candied polar bear cub paws marinaded in Château d’Yquem. Afterwards, the world’s third most famous Old Stoic (after Perry Worsthorne and his seducer the late George Melly) proposed a toast: ‘To the eco-bollocks that makes me my fortune!’

No, no, really, I jest. Granted, the world of eco-propaganda can be awfully lucrative, what with all the money sloshing around from advocacy groups like Greenpeace and from big oil companies like Shell trying to ‘greenwash’ their image by giving handouts to the Guardian environment pages. But not for a moment do I imagine that George Monbiot writes his paranoid, hair-shirt, anti-capitalist eco-screeds in order to please his paymasters. Nope, I’m quite sure the dear chap genuinely, sincerely believes every word he writes…

(to read more, click here)

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2 thoughts on “I have faith in George Monbiot’s sincerity, whoever’s paying him”

  1. Dismayed_citizen says:11th April 2012 at 8:16 amWell written, James!
  2. Nige Cook says:13th April 2012 at 12:13 pm“George Monbiot, who knows more about climate change that most of us could ever know, rather likes warm, sunny days. What Delingpole wanted to do here [suggesting that George Monbiot would probably ban warm days] was to remind his readers of Margaret Thatcher’s great disdain for what she called ‘the nanny state’ where everything that might harm us is banned.”

    – Aussie psychologist Dr Dorothy Rowe’s book “Why we lie” (Fourth Estate, London, 2010), page 234.

    Rowe’s book includes a huge amount of “climate change” evidence (which nobody will disagree with), but deceives by making no mention of natural climate variability at all. She assumes implicitly that 100% climate change is unnatural.

    Pseudo-science assumes “climate change” evidence by denying the ever present evidence of natural climate variability; the latter is not an unknown since there is evidence for significant climate fluctuations in all the data and statistical averaging is used by the IPCC to suppress the evidence for these fluctuations, producing a smooth hockey stick shaped curve. See Dr Spencer’s latest satellite data: which shows global warming stopped in 2000, 12 years ago. The mechanism for long duration climate variations is cirrus cloud cover shadowing the surface, produced by the Wilson cloud chamber effect (cosmic rays from the sun produce vapour trails, converting infra-red absorbing water vapour into sunlight-reflecting cloud droplets).

    IPCC fiddles H2O feedback parameters to fit its prejudices, starting off with the idea that 100% of climate change is due to rising CO2. It then uses the circular epicycle argument, whereby models are fiddled to fit the data using false implicit assumptions, and the “goodness of fit” through these two fiddled parameters is alleged to support the model.

    IPCC models assume about 30% of global warming is from CO2 and 70% is from H2O vapour (not clouds) which evaporates in response to CO2 and amplifies the overall warming. There is no inclusion of any natural climate change mechanism in any IPCC models, so they implicitly assume 100% of climate change is anthropic, and this delusion is the basis for selection of the feedback parameters based on fitting historical data, the “justification” being entirely dependent upon this denialism of any natural climate change.

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In Praise of Patrons – Particularly Mine

God, I enjoyed my book launch party last week. (Though not as much as some people, eh, Toby?) So much so that I’m not sure I can ever forgive myself. I keep thinking not of the fun I had but of all those friends I wish could have been there but weren’t. My fault, totally, in most cases: I’m horrendously disorganised when it comes to party invitations — and it’s entirely possible that you’re one of the people I love most in the world but forgot to invite because, hey, I’m just a bit useless that way.

Anyway, this party. As you’ll probably be aware — and if not let me spell it out — the launch was for — the launch was for this incredibly readable, well-researched, funny but also ‘serious and significant’ (says Matt Ridley in The Spectator — and who I am to disagree with so distinguished an expert in so important a publication?) book I recently published. It’s called Watermelons: How Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children’s Future.

I think the main reason the party went so well was that, invitations apart, I had nothing to do with the organisation.

(to read more, click here)

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17 thoughts on “In praise of patrons – particularly mine”

  1. Nige Cook says:23rd March 2012 at 7:43 pm“I keep thinking not of the fun I had but of all those friends I wish could have been there but weren’t. My fault, totally, in most cases: I’m horrendously disorganised when it comes to party invitations … When at school I learned that even a talent as great as Shakespeare could only make ends meet by fawning before toffs like the Earls of Pembroke and Southampton I remember being appalled. But as I grow older and wiser — and the times grow more difficult — I realise that there is nothing shaming or unfair about patronage. It’s merely an honest acknowledgement of how the world works. … I’m less overjoyed by the simultaneous deaths of my two main sources of income — publishing and print journalism — but even here I think there are grounds for cautious optimism.

    “At my launch a friendly City type and his charming wife told me how interesting they thought my life was. I in turn told them how much I’d like their money.”

    This pandering to Mammon will infuriate the miserable self-deluded commies who frequent your website.

    Remember, James, that proper lefty Marxist liberalism insists that money is dirty, greasy stuff you’re far better off without. True happiness is abject poverty. If you were a billionaire you’d waste the rest of your life cruising the Caribbean, watching sunsets while sipping Martinis and complaining about boredom.

  2. Martin Lack says:27th March 2012 at 11:46 amHere’s a poster for you to display at your next book launch (not).
  3. Martin Lack says:27th March 2012 at 3:39 pmAnd here’s another…
  4. Martin Lack says:27th March 2012 at 4:15 pmDear James,

    I know you will cite the Met Office as being part of some anti-libertarian plot to install worldwide Socialist governance but, will you please do us all a favour and suspend your belief in conspiracy theories just long enough to take on board some new information:

    “A project running almost 10,000 climate simulations on volunteers’ home computers has found that a global warming of 3 degrees Celsius by 2050 is ‘equally plausible’ as a rise of 1.4 degrees. The study addresses some of the uncertainties that previous forecasts, using simpler models or only a few dozen simulations, may have over-looked. Importantly, the forecast range is derived from using a complex Met Office model that accurately reproduces observed temperature changes over the last 50 years. The results suggest that the world is very likely to cross the ’2 degrees barrier’ at some point this century if emissions continue unabated. It also suggests that those planning for the impacts of climate change need to consider the possibility of warming of up to 3 degrees (above the 1961-1990 average) by 2050, even on a mid-range emission scenario. This is a faster rate of warming than most other models predict.”
    Citizen science looks at future warming uncertainty.

    N.B. The ability of these computer models to recreate historical trends over the last 50 years is not evidence of fudge factors having been applied: It is evidence of model validation, which – along with calibration and sensitivity analysis – is an integral part of establishing the accuracy of such modelling techniques. You can – or should – trust me on this because, unlike you, this is what I have been doing for the last 20 years or so (i.e. using probabilistic computer modelling in environmental risk assessments).

    Your beloved marketplace of ideas is a dangerous fallacy; of which your success in getting your ill-informed unscientific opinions plastered all over the media and infecting people’s minds is profound evidence. And for what purpose? You may think you are acting in the public interest but, unfortunately, like everything else in Watermelons 2.0, this is an inversion of reality: As Peter Jacques (University of Florida) has pointed out, it is precisely because environmental scepticism is not in the public interest, the tobacco industry invented the sound science versus junk science debate (now being used to great effect by the fossil fuel and energy industry) to confuse people and prevent sensible regulation of their product.

    1. Eworrall says:31st March 2012 at 9:35 amAnyone can retrofit fit any curve by adding enough adjustment knobs to the model , but fitting an old data series is no guarantee of predictive skill. And a model which requires a monster supercomputer array to run has a lot of adjustment knobs.

      Predictive skill is the test of the validity of a theory. And so far, the predictive skill of climate models has been a flat bust. The most likely explanation for this lack of skill, despite decades of research, is that they have selected the wrong forcing (CO2) as the dominant driver of climate.

  5. Angus says:31st March 2012 at 9:05 amGeneral Motors Decides Climate Change Is Real, Pulls Support From Heartland Institute
    I am sure James will have a tantrum over this.
  6. Letusthink says:5th April 2012 at 9:44 amPublishing has a huge influence over our lives and James has a great platform over us as publishers pay him money to write articles. Does James really care what he writes about as long as the cheques keep rolling in?
    1. EricW says:5th April 2012 at 12:57 pmThe Warmists have all the big money – multi billion dollar WWF, Greenpeace, EU climate budgets, as well as all the national backing for Climate Change efforts, such as the new UK Climate Change Fund. Even big oil can’t compete with that kind of money.
  7. Letusthink says:5th April 2012 at 9:53 amThis denial is complex, involving a variety of defensive response from the familiar ‘climate change is a myth’ to the more understandable (but ultimately no more useful) ‘but I need my car for my job’. It is of course no coincidence that the same people who are deeply wedded to high fossil fuel use . . . are the ones most likely to deny the reality of climate change . . . there is nothing so difficult as trying to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it. This is classic denial: no one wants to hold a mental image of themselves as bad or evil, so immoral acts are necessarily dressed up in a cloak of intellectual self justification.
    1. EricW says:5th April 2012 at 12:58 pmI wonder how much money the CRU scientists would get if politicians were convinced that Climate Change is not a threat? It would certainly be the end of their multi million pound government research grants.
  8. Letusthink says:5th April 2012 at 1:52 pmEworrall – “all the big money” doesn’t really mean very much. They don’t exactly have a pot of money sitting around in a bank account. And what do you mean by “compete”. What is the competition here? Do you mean in convincing people about the truth about global warming? OK, unfortunately it is a bit of a competition, but what I don’t understand is how you can set it out so rigidly . . . We don’t want people to believe in manmade global warming . . . why is that helpful? To protect certain interests? To protect human intectualism? Because you have a deep seated love of the ‘truth’. I just can’t see why you would get so passionate about it unless you were earning a nice crumb from embracing denialism. Good luck to you.
    1. EricW says:5th April 2012 at 6:33 pmI’m glad you think hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, for Warmist propaganda doesn’t really mean very much. I’d like to be that rich.

      As for why I am a “denialist”, the reason is simple – I believe, from reading the Climategate emails, and my own research, that Warmist climate science is corrupt, and that the CO2 theory is persisting for political rather than scientific reasons.

      I also think that if you guys truly get the upper hand, more than you have already, a lot of people will die. There are already casualties thanks to biofuel policies – even the UN admits that biofuel subsidies are exacerbating the risk of famine. . Making energy more expensive, through expensive renewables programmes, would kill even more people – all for a cause which is based upon scientific fraud.

      A lot of people died in the 20th century because of scientific fraud. I’d like to avoid repeating that mistake, if possible.

  9. Letusthink says:5th April 2012 at 9:56 pmEWorrall – I think for a few billion dollars is not really here or there when the national US defence budget was over $600 billion in 2010. There will of course be mistakes made along the way as we feel our way into the right policies. Interestingly enough – how many people die in car accidents every year? Cars are not only polluting our planet but killing our citizens in accidents everyday in a more direct way. I just can’t believe scientists/politicians have come up with some elaborate giant fraud – life is too short.

    1. EricW says:6th April 2012 at 6:28 amCar accident casualties are not a justification for ignoring the consequences of policies which cause mass famine in the third world. The famine can be alleviated with the stroke of a politician’s pen, while car accidents are a more intractable problem.

      As for scientists getting it wrong or behaving fraudulently, it unfortunately happens all the time. The scientific method, with it’s standards of openness and reproduceability, was developed to try to prevent episodes of mass delusion. When the method is abused, by scientists concealing data and trying to suppress critics, then science becomes dysfunctional, and theory is no longer verified by facts.

      Such abuse is institutional in the dysfunctional climate science community.

      Note I am not saying the Climategate scientists dont believe in global warming – their problem is they believe too much. Since they already know

      1. EricW says:6th April 2012 at 6:36 amA climategate email you might find interesting – Mr. Smith tries to pressure Ben Santer into revealing method and data behind hid models.

        Climategate Email 1233326033.txt

        > The American Physical Society on line statement reads (in part):
        > “The success and credibility of science are anchored in the willingness
        > of scientists to:
        > 1. Expose their ideas and results to independent testing and
        > replication by others. This requires the open exchange of data,
        > procedures and materials.
        > 2. Abandon or modify previously accepted conclusions when confronted
        > with more complete or reliable experimental or observational

        1. Eworrall says:6th April 2012 at 6:52 amBen Santer is finally forced to publish some of his data. He still does not publish his method. He feels the need to write an apologetic email to colleagues in the climate science community.

          Climategate Email 1229468467.txt

          > I just wanted to alert you to the fact that Steven McIntyre has now made
          > a request to U.S. DOE Headquarters under the Freedom of Information Act
          > (FOIA). McIntyre asked for “Monthly average T2LT values for the 47
          > climate models (sic) as used to test the H1 hypothesis in Santer et al.,
          > Consistency of modelled and observed temperature trends in the tropical
          > troposphere”. I was made aware of the FOIA request earlier this morning.
          > McIntyre’s request eventually reached the U.S. DOE National Nuclear
          > Security Administration (NNSA), Livermore Site Office. The requested
          > records are to be provided to the “FOIA Point of Contact” (presumably at
          > NNSA) by Dec. 22, 2008.

          > Over the past several weeks, I’ve had a number of discussions about the
          > “FOIA issue” with PCMDI’s Director (Dave Bader), with other LLNL
          > colleagues, and with colleagues outside of the Lab. Based on these
          > discussions, I have decided to “publish” all of the climate model
          > surface temperature time series and synthetic MSU time series (for the
          > tropical lower troposphere [T2LT] and the tropical mid- to
          > upper-troposphere [T2]) that we used in our International Journal of
          > Climatology (IJoC) paper.

          > After publication of the model data, we will inform the “FOIA Point of
          > Contact” that the information requested by McIntyre is publicly
          > available for bona fide scientific research.
          > Unfortunately, we cannot guard against intentional or unintentional
          > misuse of these datasets by McIntyre or others.

          >This will make it difficult for McIntyre
          > to continue making the bogus claim that he is being denied access to the
          > climate model data necessary to evaluate the validity of our findings.

          1. Eworrall says:6th April 2012 at 7:06 amBen Santer reveals he wants to hoard method and data secrets because he sees other scientists outside his group as “competitors”, instead of welcoming fresh viewpoints in his search for truth. This attitude seems to be common in the Climate Science community, which is what I mean, when I describe it as dysfunctional.

            Climategate Email 1231257056.txt


            Can any competitor
            simply request such datasets via the U.S. FOIA, before we have completed
            full scientific analysis of these datasets?

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Separating Myth from Reality in a History of the Battle of Britain

We all know that the time before we were born was a golden age when men were manlier, women lovelier, civilisation more civilised, culture more edifying, values more valued and so on. But what if it isn’t actually true?

What if, say, it turned out that Winston Churchill was damn near as slippery and unprincipled a politician as David Cameron? What if the Battle of Britain wasn’t actually won by ‘the Few’ — and wasn’t even primarily a fighter battle anyway? What if, damn it, the famously long hot summer of 1940 was in fact mostly overcast with just a hot bit right at the end in September? What if our radar technology really wasn’t that early or special? What if that famous Low cartoon — ‘Very well then, alone’ — was a joke, given that, even before America joined the party, we had an empire of 500 million on our side?

This is the problem I’m having reading The Many Not The Few, Richard North’s revisionist history of the Battle of Britain.

(to read more, click here)

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One thought on “Separating myth from reality in a history of the Battle of Britain”

  1. Badlander says:18th March 2012 at 12:54 amWhat matters, of course, is that the Nazis were stopped, and Fighter Command were the sharp end of the spear. Whenever I hear the term “revisionist history”, I have to wonder about the motivation of the revisionist. History, of course, has to be reconsidered in light of new evidence, but there are always those who need no evidence to trash what they consider to be anathema. Even a cursory consideration of the factors that led to British victory in the B of B would require one to acknowledge the contribution of the people who didn’t actually strap on parachutes and go prop-to-prop with the Luftwaffe- those planes actually had to be built by someone, didn’t they?- but war is Drama, and the undramatic is always secondary. Hang on to those myths, James, because they are as true as anything, certainly as true as the plodding, finicky details that historians consider to be The Truth.

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Peak Oil Really Could Destroy the Economy – Just Not in the Way Greens Think

If the global economy goes seriously tits up — as I believe it is about to do — the important thing is that we understand the actual reasons why it went tits up. Otherwise the drastic remedial action we’ll inevitably take to ensure that it never happens again may well result in the exact opposite.
Consider, for example, that disturbingly tentacular collective of self-righteous hippyish busybodies Transition Towns. Here is an

ideological movement which senses, as most of us do, that there’s something seriously amiss with western industrial civilisation. It senses — again, wisely and correctly, I believe — that we urgently need to form networks, build stronger and more self-reliant communities, grow more of our own vegetables, and so on, if we’re to weather the storm.

Where the Transition Towns movement couldn’t be more wrong, though, is in its analysis of why these emergency actions are necessary. Transition Towns thinks the problem lies in the greed, wanton resource-depletion and yearning for growth which drive the capitalist system. In fact, the problem lies with the mentality which gave us Transition Towns.

Transition Towns is a ‘community project’ whose aim is to ‘raise awareness of sustain-able living and build local ecological resilience’ in response to the ‘dual challenges of climate change and peak oil’. A jolly admirable aim, too, I’m sure we would all agree, if either of those ‘challenges’ were genuine.

Read the rest at the Spectator.

Related posts:

  1. Three reasons why our economy is heading for the rocks
  2. ‘Bow down to Peak Oil!’ says BBC’s Cthulu-worshipping Newsnight
  3. Climategate: peak oil, the CRU and the Oman connection
  4. The global economy is collapsing. The solution is not more media studies graduates
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Ten Things You Don’t Want to Happen in 2012, but Which Probably Will

My predictions for 2012

1. After the Arab Spring and the Islamist Winter will come Armageddon Summer. It might happen as early as spring but that season has been bagged already. At Islington dinner parties, on the BBC and in the Guardian — after cursory acknowledgement has been made of all the dead innocents — the conclusion will be reached that Israel is to blame. As if its very existence wasn’t provocation enough, Israel has consistently — and deliberately — mocked its poor, struggling neighbours with its outrageous displays of democracy, accountability and economic growth.

2. Boris will make some spectacular gaffe. Perhaps he will suggest, outrageously, that…

(to read more, click here)

Related posts:

  1. What will happen to the convicted rioters
  2. A US president with wandering hands? It would never happen
  3. The BBC: Official Voice of Ecofascism
  4. Exposed: the self-inflicted Hamas ‘massacre’ blamed by the media on Israel

One thought on “Ten things you don’t want to happen in 2012, but which probably will”

  1. Nige Cook says:18th January 2012 at 5:03 pmRegarding Armageddon Summer, North Korea, India and Pakistan have all tested nuclear weapons, but Israel and Iran haven’t (although they are both producing plutonium all the time due to neutron capture in U-238 in their nuclear reactors). So it could be that North Korea will be the first to use them, but the Middle East. (America never tested the simple Hiroshima nuclear bomb before dropping it; the Trinity test was for the complicated implosion bomb dropped later on Nagasaki, not the Mk1 Hiroshima gun assembly weapon.) So nuclear weapons have been used in conflict without any prior nuclear test. South Africa stockpiled Hiroshima type nuclear weapons for a while but never tested them.

    What’s shocking is that ever since 1945, a wide range of pressure groups have falsely exaggerated the effects of the nuclear weapons in a way that fosters the illusion that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were typical or template explosions, despite the fact that the city centres were over 40% area covered with overcrowded wood frame houses, each with a charcoal brazier and plenty of paper screens, bamboo furnishings, etc. Colonel Tibbets who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima explains in his autobiography “The Tibbets Story” that he was well aware of the incendiary problems because they had firebombed all the German cities and 93 Japanese ones. The secret 1947 U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey report number 92 on Hiroshima, volume 2, gives a survey of 1,000 survivors who said the firestorm was due to overturned charcoal braziers in wooden houses. (The heat flash only set black coloured blackout curtains on fire out to 2500 feet radius from ground zero, white colours reflect the heat and don’t ignite, and nobody puts blackout curtains in their windows nowadays!) Problem is, it was secret, and the unclassified report (issued in 1946) obfuscated, making it appear as if the heat set alight the wood directly (it can’t, as the heat flash is so brief that wood just ablates slightly, creating a smokescreen with no sustained fire). City centre buildings today are a lot tougher and less inflammable than the wooden housing slums of Hiroshima, so it is entirely possible for people to survive. 75% survived in Hiroshima despite the complete surprise there and the firestorm afterwards.

    Instead of discussing the facts rationally, the politicians prefer groupthink “consensus” in which the facts are removed from public debate by secrecy classification. This was all very well to help deter Stalin, but bearing in mind the fact Russia later tested more powerful weapons than America (up to 50 Mt), there is little military case for keeping the facts secret today, it’s purely a matter of political correctness:

    1. Keep the basic facts secret/limited in distribution to government contractors only (in manuals like EM-1, Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons). Issue to the public only non-quantitative or vague obfuscation that omits hard evidence from Hiroshima and nuclear tests. Keep everything secret.

    2. Allow the public “debate” on civil defence to begin and end with Hiroshima firestorm photo propaganda and lies by Rotblat/CND being a genuine basis for public education. (Remember CND’s 1982 book “Civil Defence: The Cruellest Confidence Trick”, Duncan Campbell’s “War Plan UK”, and SANA – Scientists Against Nuclear Arms – who in 1992 after the cold war became “Scientists for Global Responsibility” fighting natural climate change with hot air.)

    3. Appease aggressors using Chamberlain’s argument in the 1930s, that if we don’t appease aggressors we will all cease to exist, we’re doing God’s work by shaking Hitler’s hand and talking peace with him, because peace at any price to the Jews is ethical, and Churchill is immoral.

    The Americans are starting to face the truth that Glasstone’s Cold War book on nuclear weapons effects is not an adequate basis for the terrorist and jihad threat today:

    “Appeasement seldom works in the long term … appeasement will not prevent every possible attack.”

    – Robert C. Harney, “Inaccurate Prediction of Nuclear Weapons Effects and Possible Adverse Influences on Nuclear Terrorism Preparedness”, Homeland Security Affairs, volume V, No. 3, September 2009, pp. 1-19 (quotation from page 18)

    “If all residents in the hazardous fallout region adopt a shelter-in-place strategy, the total number of acute radiation casualties is estimated to be ~ 3,600, as compared to ~ 100,000 casualties if all are outdoors and unsheltered. Some further reductions in casualties can be realized if those in the poorest shelters transit to better shelters soon after the detonation.”

    – Larry D. Brandt and Ann S. Yoshimura, Analysis of Sheltering and Evacuation Strategies for a Chicago Nuclear Detonation Scenario, Sandia National Laboratories, Report SAND2011-6720, August 2011, page 5.

    “We have shown that common estimates of weapon effects that calculate a ‘radius’ for thermal radiation are clearly misleading for surface bursts in urban environments. In many cases only a few unshadowed vertical surfaces, a small fraction of the area within a thermal damage radius, receive the expected heat flux.”

    – R. E. Marrs, W. C. Moss, and B. Whitlock, Thermal Radiation from Nuclear Detonations in Urban Environments, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, UCRL-TR-231593, June 2007, page 11.

    Dr G. Andrew Mickley explains how workers who returned to Nagasaki after surviving at Hiroshima were able to use their experience to survive the second nuclear explosion, and to help others to prepare, in his paper “Psychological Factors in Nuclear Warfare”, Chapter 8 in Textbook of Military Medicine; Part I, Warfare, Weaponry, and the Casualty; Volume 2: Medical Consequences of Nuclear Warfare, U.S. Army, 1989, pp. 184-5:

    “The benefits of training are confirmed by the remarkable experiences of nine persons who survived the Hiroshima bombing and then fled to Nagasaki in time for the second atomic bomb. They remembered very well what they had done that allowed them to live, and they quickly instructed others in Nagasaki: “Yamaguchi’s lecture on A-bomb precautions, he pointed out later, was not lost upon his colleagues. With the young designer’s words still fresh in their minds [on 9 August 1945, in Nagasaki] they leaped for the cover of desks and tables. “As a result,” said Yamaguchi, “my section staff suffered the least in that building. In other sections there was a heavy toll of serious injuries from flying glass.” (Reference: Robert Trumbull, Nine who survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki, New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1957.)” –

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