Friday, May 30, 2008

End of May - must be power cut time

I love electricity. I cannot imagine life without it it and I want it in bulk quantities. Things have progressed a bit since Mr. Volta was making frogs legs twitch with piles of metal disks and felt immersed in lemon juice. In those days there were not that many people on the planet and horse power was measured by counting the tails. People didn't need electricity or even know they wanted it. Cooking was done over open fires. Home heating was accomplished in much the same way - or you just put on another woolly. There wasn't any aluminium so you didn't need smelters to make it.

No, we have moved on. The population is increasing and we all need electricity and lots of it. Except apparently in New Zealand. I think the wallies in Wellington realise that the population is increasing, I mean they even run a census that periodically tells them that there are more people living here. But what they are unable to accept is that this increasing number of people want to live in the twenty first century and not be time warped in the past. We now need sodding great fridges in our houses because putting a bit of wet muslin over the meatsafe just doesn't cut it anymore. Heat pumps are here to stay and putting another log on the fire in winter and opening the window in summer doesn't make it in a lot of people's books. But the idiots won't even get their head around that as they won't let you put another log on the fire because it is wrecking the planet. And I'm not going down that well trodden track again except to say 'Bollocks'. There isn't a law against opening windows but lets not give them ideas.

This country needs to produce more electricity and lots of it. But what do we get? Winter is just around the corner, the hydro lakes are low (as if we weren't aware of that months ago) so we must all start saving electricity. Don't leave the TVs on standby, walk upstairs and don't use the lift, take bulbs out of their sockets so you can't turn them on. Same old crap we had last year and the year before and the one before that and before that......... Sod off. I want to use as much bloody electricity as I can afford to pay for and I want truckloads of it. I will work harder so I have more money and I will then buy more and it will be there when I want it. That is what I want, nay expect, from living in a so called developed country in the twenty first century. Electricity prices have gone through the roof and I don't care about that so much as I care about being told that I can't buy as much as I want at a price I chose to pay.

Why are we in this parlous state? Because central government can't or won't plan for infrastructure to keep up with an increasing population that needs to live in a technology dependent world. We are not allowed nuclear power stations, they won't build any more carbon fueled power stations (banned them, they have) and we can't have any more hydro dams because the snails and godwits won't stand for it. People don't like stupid windmills because they cause visual pollution (give me strength) and are noisy. Been to a Formula One motor race? Now that's noisy. And try telling Rio Tinto that they are going to have to run Tiwai on wind power - they'll be off to China before you can say carbon credit.

All the sensible and proven ways of making the electrons go round in bulk numbers have been rejected by the dements that run this country and instead what are they seriously considering? A tidal power station submerged in the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour. Like there are tons of those powering major cities around the world. Technology with a long and proven track record for reliability and efficiency - not. DoC are even filing protests against the Kaipara fairy story to ensure the RMA hearing goes on for longer than the usual twenty seven years.

By which time we'll be back to cooking on open fires and the only radios around will be those clockwork bizzos they send to Africa.

Unless someone has the cahunas to stand up and unilaterally declare (not have committees involving all interested stakeholders and native trees) that we are going to build how ever many power stations we now need plus fifty percent powered by whatever is proven to be the most efficient means currently available (be that coal, oil, nuclear fission or fusion, Browns Gas, goats foreskins - I really don't care) we are doomed to slip further and further back into the preceding centuries at an exponentially increasing speed.

I don't think even Macs can run on fresh air.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Hopelessly behind time. All good intentions of keeping a daily log of the recent trip long ago went out the window - I've been back four days and haven't said a thing.

The reason for the trip as per the front cover was the annual conference I've been attanding for nearly twenty years now - generally make about two years out of three. The incentive this year was the USS Midway. When I heard the conference was to be held in San Diego the pull of an aircraft carrier was felt right across the Pacific. The Hotel was chosen for its proximity to the ship as opposed to the conference centre.

So wag the cerebral pursuit last Monday afternoon to stroll along to the Midway.

As we walked towards it I was initially a bit disappointed - it didn't look big enough. Wrong. As you get closer the awful truth dawns upon you - it is absolutely massive, huge, humungous. An afternoon strolling all over this peak of man's engineering expertise sets you back $17 and is the best value tourist dollar I've ever spent. This behemoth is extreme in every way. All the numbers are off the dial. 296m long, a beam of 34m rising to 72m in the middle of the flight deck. Displacement 74,000 tons, crew of 4,100 and so it goes on. 200,000 shaft horse power delivered through four shafts. And all this was built in eighteen months - astonishing. Maximum shaft rpm was 205 which propelled the 74,000 tons at thirty three knots. How do you do that? Having prop blades the size of a tennis courts is probably up there somewhere. At decommissioning the flight deck had an area of 4.2 acres - which means I couldn't fit three on my property. I could have two though.

This shot is taken up by the catapults - just look how far away the island is. The planes on the ship now are a selection of what has been on the carrier over the years and are not representative of any moment in time. Fancy seeing this coming straight at you - a F14 Tomcat

All the grunt is below decks, engine rooms, engineering departments, armaments etc. All the missiles and bombs were actually assembled on board and this happened on the mess deck. SO you could be tucking into your brekker with a bloke next to you fitting the fins on a missile - bizarre. But the thinking goes on in the island.

The flight control is aft (the windows that look like, well a flight control centre) and the bridge is out of sight in this shot.

Helming from the flybridge of a Carolina Classic 28 is going to seem a bit wimpy after I've had this helm view. Just check out how small the people on the flight deck look and how far away the bow is - and we are only half way down the ship here. The Midway was decommissioned in the late nineties and the US Navy has since got rid of paper charts but this ship is exhibited as it was used operationally. The navigation seems positively primitive. A chart with a course plotted into Yokosuka (the ship's home base for the latter part of its life) was laid out on one of the chart tables. It had cocked hats on it that were about a half mile across and this about four miles off shore. I'm not sure I'd like to drive something this big with that degree of inaccuracy

I had long thought that man was put on this planet to build aircraft carriers as evidence that he had reached the absolute pinnacle of his technological mastery of his world. I now know this to be true. They have everything. Self contained (the last piece of this particular puzzle is, of course, nuclear power), big, aggressive and carrying enough firepower to take your head off in all sorts of inventive ways at any point on the planet.

I love them and I want one.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pull up the sumo wrestler

In the final 36hours of the trip now and am quite looking forward to getting back to the real world i.e. the looney bin that is The People’s Republic. Despite the fact we have a Navy made up of a RORO and a couple of popgun carrying frigates that aren’t allowed to fired anything but a blanket at a refugee I would not live in the States if you paid me. A bit of catching up to do on this year’s impressions of the land of the free.

Advertising. I finished my first trip book (I have a back up for the return journey) a few minutes into the SFA-SAN leg of the trip. If you want a good, if somewhat harrowing, read I can highly recommend the Eric Clapton autobiography. He was born and grew up only a few miles from the locale of my youth which makes that part of the story all the more real. I also used to go to Bentalls in Kingston for my records, I too went to Eel Pie Island of a Saturday night. Our paths mercifully diverted from there and I wouldn’t have had his life from the Yardbirds onwards for all the tea in China. He would appear to have come out of the other side in the end but, hellfire, what a ride. Anyway I digress. With Eric finished what was I to amuse myself with for the short flight over southern California. SkyMall Magazine was the only option. This is so good I took up their very generous offer and took it off the plane with me so I could wonder at the many splendorous loads of crap that could be mine for just three easy payments of $19.95. I have dipped into this treasure trove of rubbish on several occasions over the last couple of days my perusals only being interrupted to glance up at the hotel TV’s exhortations to send $9.99 for a video on ‘Crunchless Abs’.

The publishers of Skymall and the makers of the TV ads are doing this to make money are presumably succeeding. TV ads and giveaway magazines are not cheap so how do you make coin peddling the following selection?

The Personal Between the Sheets Bed Fan. This bit of kit creates a ‘cool personalised microclimate between the sheets’ allowing you to ’regulate your temperature as you sleep without disturbing your partner’ This heap of junk turns your side of the bed into a hovercraft by blowing air between the sheets and you are only asked to part with $79.95 for the chance to ruin a good night’s sleep.

On the same page is the Pet Staircase. ‘Sturdy lightweight pet stairs to help pets climb to furniture otherwise difficult for them to reach. Designed for pets up to 100lbs, especially older animals or those suffering from joint problems, our stairs have removable shearling covers (what the hell is a shearling – a shearwater I know) that are soft on paws and made of 100% machine washable polyester (a severe disadvantage in my book). This garbage comes in four sizes ranging from the three step at $79.95 to the six step at $159.95 if you want to aid Rover kicking the bucket by jumping off a tall building.

Not interested? How about ‘Basho the Sumo Wrestler Glass topped table’ This is a sculpture of a sumo wrestler bending over with a sheet of glass attached to his back that is to be used as an occasional table. A snip at $225. Who in the name of Hades would actually want one of these? They are hideous, impractical and expensive – a sure fire recipe for commercial disaster.

And so it goes on – perhaps more examples in days to come. I really cannot believe that America became a global financial titan by flogging coffee tables that resemble a sumo wrestler.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Caution - Idle blogger afoot

Third day in San Diego and this is the first fleeting opportunity I have had to put finger to keyboard. Conference is better than I had hoped and so am spending more time actually attending than I had envisaged. However I have found time to watch the St Louis Cardinals give the San Diego Padres a good bum shellacking. Baseball is an exceedingly dull game which they have packaged very well - so well that it makes for an entertaining way of spending three hours. Don't think I'll be going again.

And then there was the Midway. This deserves more time than I have available between conference sessions and I will try and give it the time it deserves with pictures later. Suffice it to say that I was not disappointed and now I really, really want an aircraft carrier. I think I will still go for the nuclear option as all that re-bunkering at sea looks really tedious. You still have to take on loads of jet fuel I suppose.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

'ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go

This is the third Saturday in May, I am sitting in the Air New Zealand lounge and so I must be off to America. This is what I do in the third week of May. San Diego this year. Never been there before but it is a standout must go to destination as it has the USS Midway set up as tourist attraction. Forget the zoo (which I hear is very good) and all the other attractions, I want to see the aircraft carrier. I chose my hotel not for its convenieice for the conference centre but its proximity to the Midway. Its not nuclear powered but you can'y have everything.

Standard sort of a day really. Play golf in the morning fly to the other side of the world in the afternoon. I trust the flight is more enjoyable than the golf. What is the bleeding point in plying golf when the visibility is down to fifty metres. Even a powder puff hitter like me can (and did) lose balls off the tee in fog like that. So we have a Sean Fitzpatrick round - a game of two halves and the course was the winner. Second nine accomplished in about a shot a hole less than the front nine. What did I expect losing a ball on every other hole for and hour and a half?

No we are now in the lounge and a while to wait before the tin budgie whisks me into yesterday. Odd places airport lounges. A mixture of people as I glance around. There is a group of very loud women who are talking very ostentatiously about how much money they have spent. They are drunk and are getting drunker by the minute. The more they get through the more money they save I suppose. Being a Saturday the busy business executive is absent. These always amuse me. Beavering away on their laptops and /or Blackberries buying and selling and making all sorts of terribly important fiscal decisions that will alter the course of world history. I once saw a bloke in Chicago who looked terribly important shouting at his business contacts down his cellphone and buying everything in bulk quantities. I was certain he was dealing weapons grade plutonium or diamonds or something and was much let down to discover he was dealing in hairspray. So no business types. There is another group of loud people who are talking about shaving eyebrows and whether Aaron would look good in budgie smugglers. He wouldn't but if the whole group get up to the alcohol ingestion rate of the loud ladies (and they are trying) they will all reckon Aaron would look amaaaaazing. Already lots of other things are looking amaaaaazing to this rather sad group.

Travelling bag full of all the essentials for a long flight. Laptop, iPod, a couple of books and fourteen power cords. The delights of travelling with gels, aerosols or liquids have been removed so no having a rollicking good time with the gels over the Pacific for me.

Last year I found it very therapeutic to summarize where I sat in the world in general and the People's Republic of Aoteoroa in particular and I may find the urge to do so again - and then I may not. The news that the bloody Labour Government is now nearly thirty points behind in the latest opinion poll at least ensures that I leave the country for a short time with a spring in my step.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ETS: this is getting beyond a joke

We have already established that the Emissions Trading Scheme is a crock. Fatuous solution for a problem that doesn't exist and would be insoluble even if it did - usual stuff. The submissions to the Parliamentary Committee looking into this before it is passed regardless (this is New Zealand after all) are giving it a right panning and the condemnations are getting more strident by the day.

Yesterday the jokers who run the aluminium smelter at Tiwai said that if the ETS comes into force they will be off like a bride's nightie. 3000 jobs and billions of dollars gone. Southland would not survive - you aren't going to get by replacing an aluminium smelter with a swede exporting business, are you? And for what? For a lunatic idealistic folly of a bunch of bigots who have no connection with the real world.

When Rio Tinto close down the plant because they have been taxed out of the country (and make no mistake this ETS bullshit is turning out to be no more than a tax and a tax on a biblical scale) are they going to see the light and stop making aluminium? Are they buggery. They have already said that they will take the operation to China. What a surprise. They will go to a country of pragmatists who have had the commonsense to tell Kyoto to get some sexual gratification as they leave the building. And by so doing the New Zealand gummint will have in fact increased the amount of carbon emitted (as if it matters) as any plant built in China would be nowhere near as 'clean' as the one in Southland. So in one fell swoop we wreck an entire section of the country and increase global pollution. Brilliant.

This ETS nonsense has to be stopped before it totally ruins this country - and I'm not joking.

What line of business are these clowns in?

'We are constantly looking at new ways in which we can increase our service to our customers as well as improve our business performance and efficiency'

Well what do you think? A company that manufactures life saving equipment? An outfit that splits the atom for public consumption? A meals on wheels service for old ladies perchance? No this is Auckland Council trying to justify giving those stupid Segways to bloody parking wardens. Here's a bit more of their bureaspeak nonsense; they rate themselves as 'innovators and leaders in the field of parking services'. What a load of bollocks. Parking wardens are a revenue gathering arm of the council; no more and no less. And why on earth can't they speak English. Putting a ticket on your windscreen is a fine and is not 'a parking service'

This is a Segway:

They are apparently very easy to operate. So easy in fact that the only person ever known to fail to get one moving (in fact he managed to fall off as I recall) was George W Bush. So they really are a no brainer. Everyone who has ever got onto one of these daft bits of kit is a plonker. It is a prerequisite of getting one that you are a complete wally. If you are a sensible and/or reasonable bloke they won't sell you one. There was a bloke up the beach who owned one and his other vehicles were a hovercraft and a Sealegs. He falls into the category of Plonker with Too Much Money.
So Auckland's ratepayers are supposed to pay for damned Parking Wardens to get around on these. Why? I'll give you a builder's pencil so you can write all the reasons on the back of a postage stamp. What the hell is wrong with a pair of stout boots and legs. Battery charging requirement for a pair of boots was zero last time I looked. If you are into saving money and saving the planet (and we all want to save the planet, don't we children?) just get rid of Parking Wardens altogether and let me park my V8 where ever I fancy.
The really galling bit about this sort of nonsense is that it goes on when the real infrastructure of the city is just falling apart at the seams. The sewers can't cope with rainfall at a rate greater than one millimetre a week, the transport sucks and they spend up large on Segways. I can see Nero calling for his fiddle.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What a bloody mess

And it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of ratbags. This mob signed up to the Kyoto nonsense and then Dear Leader says we will be world leaders in carbon neutrality. God, it makes you cringe just to think of the stupidity of such a concept. It is like saying we are going to be world pioneers in angel dust or chocolate teapots. Meaningless crap. Anyway as part of all this nonsense we are to have the Emissions Trading Scheme. Peddling moonbeams. Wish I'd thought of it. Buying and selling abstract concepts that are then actually weighed. What sort of recreational pharmacology are these guys on. If the price of carbon is $x a tonne we will be charged this and if it is $y a tonne we can sell at that and there is someone clipping the ticket at every turn. And who is that some one? History Boy is right at the front of the queue.

Dear Leader stands up earlier in the week and announces that the petrol bit of the ETS won't come into play until it is well past the election as even the bunch of sheep that masquerade as the New Zealand Electorate won't stand for it. Even she admits that the extra money on gas will be be seen as an extra tax - for the simple reason that is what it is. So the petrol is gone (for a while), the farmers get time off for good behaviour and now the select committee is hearing how real pragmatic businessmen see this stupid idea dreamed up by left wing morons who have never had to work a day in their lives.

A chap who is CEO of Genesis, I think, was giving his two bob's worth to the committee yesterday. He represents evil big business and so anything he says must be bollocks. Well I don't think so. He laid out in black and white what you end up with if you let people who don't know what they are doing play around with legislation. Idiots headed by a failed history teacher have been allowed to dabble in economic policy and the result is an absolute abortion. It shows the foresight and planning you would expect from a five year old. And, as this is the People's Republic, the consequences of their incompetence will be stuff all. If the poorly conceived and even worse fleshed out ETS were to go ahead in its current form the government could garner up to an extra $80 billion in tax. That is not $80 or $80,000 but eighty billion. Not thought of. Happens because the staffers who drafted this crap couldn't organise a nun shoot in a convent. Cullen is sneaking another tax on the unwary - what a bloody surprise. The reason for this obscene unforeseen windfall? Damned Kyoto only charges you for carbon in excess of your 1990 levels. History Boy intends charging you for the lot. And the chances of this extra tax being refunded are precisely zero.

The ETS is a crock and it is based on an even bigger crock i.e. that there is such a thing as anthropogenic global warming. It looks that at last the emperor is being seen to be wearing what he is really wearing. Absolutely nuffink.

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's my money and I want it back

Well History Boy has had a big day in the toy shop hasn't he.

First we hear that for the first time we owe the Kyoto nonsense the wrong side of a billion smackers. Bloody staggering isn't it, all that dosh down the toilet. Well never mind it's not his to spend so he won't miss it. Kyoto is really a good idea (in some people's books) and makes the gummint look all eco friendly and world leaderly. We'll gloss over the fact that it is all futile bollocks and will be looked upon by proper historians as the biggest (and most expensive) con job in history.

Then just to prove that spending money that isn't yours is as easy as he forks out $665 million for a train set that is valued at $430 million. What is all this about? Toll was eager to sell and there was only one buyer. We should have got it for $200 million less than it is valued and not 200 mill more. That is a basic principal of haggling over price surely. The truth, of course is that we shouldn't have got it at all. What the hell is bloody Cullen doing buying nineteenth century cutting edge technology? Kyoto won't let us use it - unless we put nuclear powered trains on the lines and that's going to happen in the eco looney People's Republic - not. OK, so now we own this bargain basement heap of junk we have to spend loads more dosh making it into something that works. More of my money gone.

And the point of all this? We will have a nice spiffy rail service that the great unwashed will flock to in their droves leaving their nasty cars in the garage and we save the planet. And I really think Cullen and the rest of them believe this. No one else does, but they do.

Why the hell do we waste food on these demented morons?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

More compulsion coming to kitchen near you

So close it will be right in your own home.

The country is going to hell on a hand cart. The economy is about to go down the gurgler. People can't afford to put petrol in the lawnmower let alone the V8. There are victims doing without food all over the show and so what does our stupid government have doing the parliamentary rounds at present? Another bit of social engineering, that's what.

And this one is a little ripper. There is a thing called The Public Health Bill skulking round the dark recesses of the Beehive at the moment doing its best to become The Public Health Act. This is a bad thing - a very bad thing indeed.

This little number would have one Government appointed bloke (or blokess if this mob run true to form) deciding what you are allowed to eat or even watch other people eat. They are even after your vicarious pleasures. The Director General of Health (and I don't even understand that bit) could decide to ban anything if he or she thought it was not 'in the Public Interest'. Chocolate eaten by the cubic metre makes you morbidly obese so I'll ban that and also the advertising for chocolate in any media you care to nominate. No discussion, no canvassing the opinion of anyone - just a stroke of the pen and its illegal. You think I'm joking?

But there is more. This Health Nazi could even force TV programs off the air if he/she thought they promoted unhealthy lifestyles. Homer Simpson is a goneburger and he'll have to take all his donuts with him. Coro Street? Gone - too much time in the Rover's Return and the chip shop. Top Gear? Not a show - all that nasty dangerous speed is exceeding unhealthy.

The Dental Nurse would surely shake her head and say I'm scaremongering. Her favourite safety net, Governmental Commonsense, will dictate that this will never happen. Bollocks it won't. I wouldn't trust this mob further than I could throw them but even if I could who in their right mind would give any Government such draconian powers to use if they so please?

The perpetual theme of we know best and you will do as you are told for you own good runs through every move this bunch of wastrels makes. If they are going to control what we eat to make us healthy (even if we want to be fat slobs) why stop with the food and advertising police? Government cameras in all our fridges with feeds to Pie HQ on the 9th floor is a logical next step. Compulsory treadmills in all homes of those with a BMI above 25. Daily usage to be monitored in the room next to Pie HQ. All treadmills to be connected to the National Grid to boost power supplies now that coal fired power stations have all been demolished. Any fatty not contributing a megawatt a year to the National grid will be shot.

Even five years ago all this would have seemed absurd. The scary thing is that now it seems almost reasonable. Wake up you dozy buggers and give this mob the flick before it is too late.

The beginning of the end?

Have a look at this lot. The ETS is the Emissions Trading Scheme.

- The ETS will reduce GDP by $900 million by 2012
- The average household will have $600 less spending
- A reduction in employment equivalent to 22,000 jobs
- By 2025, GDP will be $5.9 billion less than without an ETS
- The average household will have $3,000 less by 2025
- Hourly wages will be $2.30 an hour less by 2025 than they would be without an ETS
- The ETS will reduce emissions by 5% less than merely funding emissions reductions directly
- The ETS may be bad for the climate as some NZ production will become uncompetitive and shift to countries where their increase in emissions will be greater than if they stayed in New - Zealand. This is known as “leakage”
- The ETS will see by 2025 a 12.9% reduction in dairy farming, a 41% drop in diary land prices and a 6.6% reduction in sheep and beef farming.
- As the decline in pastoral production in NZ will lead to greater pastoral production elsewhere, the increase in carbon emissions will be 3 million tonnes - around 25% of the reductions from the total ETS.
- Southland and Northland would be most affected by the ETS with a 3% drop in GDP, with Auckland and Wellington less affected.
- Paying for emissions reduction out of general taxation would be cheaper and more effective.

The ETS was to be the great cash cow that this stupid government said would be a spin off from our being a world leader in carbon neutrality. We would make squillions as we stood proudly in the vanguard of nations saving the planet. We would not only feel good about leaving a negligible carbon footprint for future generations we would also reap economic benefits as we traded carbon credits from our clean green land. I have to stop now as typing this is making me feel physically sick.

So for the terminally stupid I will join up the dots. All the above economic ruin is being embarked upon on our behalf by a government that is so stupid they think anyone can do anything about the climate. It is estimated that the part of the ETS relating to fuel prices would put an extra 6-8 cents on a litre of gas and they already want another ten cents for a regional tax. This morning there are murmurings that bits of the ETS might have to be postponed (it is election year after all) but David Parker (Climate Change Minister for God's sake) denies this.

Base a stupid policy on a tissue of lies and this is what you end up with - an untenable mess. They made their bed, let them bloody well lie in it.