Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas to you all

It's been an odd year, plenty of ups and downs.

It started with the collapse of my attempt to restructure my firm, followed by a few difficult months when it became increasingly apparent that my "difficult" partners had no intention of changing their ways.  It improved a lot in the summer, when I faced facts and handed in my notice so that the conflict could stop and we could all just get on with life.

That didn't exactly work, as they used that as an opportunity to rip off me, the partner who had already handed in her notice, and the one remaining sane partner.  We've been fighting that for the last 5 months, which has been hard work - and expensive.  There seems to be an end in sight for me, though, if not my partners (or maybe I'm just being optimistic?).  One thing is certain for 2012, though, I will be leaving the firm at some point during the year, and will able to put the two of them behind me and focus on setting up my own firm instead.

That has obviously distracted me, and the blog has suffered correspondingly.  I'm sorry about that, I've always enjoyed blogging but just haven't had the spare energy latterly - or the ability to look upwards and outwards enough to have a bloggable opinion on anything.

Building the Caterham has been a joy, and a welcome interruption to the lying, squabbling and, frankly, plain greed that Tweedledum and Tweedledee (my soon-to-be-erstwhile partners) have displayed.  I love making things, building things, and hope to divert that into my new business next year.  If I have learnt anything from Tweedledum and Tweedledummer, it is how much easier it is to destroy than to build.  Ho hum.

Anyway, thank you all for visiting on the few occasions I've posted something, and thank you especially for replying.  It's really appreciated, it's nice to know there are other sane people out there when you're trying to deal with the Tweedles.  I wish you all the best for Christmas, and hope you all have a fantastic celebration. (Except Measured of course - don't go getting arrested!)

I'll leave you with two warnings, though.  First, take care while everyone is visiting, you don't want any upsets:

Second, think carefully when asking for something, in case you are given it.  Such as asking your child to "sing up":

Saturday, 10 December 2011

How to Collect your Christmas Tree in Style!

As demonstrated by one of my co-competitors in next year's Caterham Academy:

Nice one Alex.  We bought our tree today, wish I'd thought of that :-D

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Would you make decisions on the basis of these models?

We have been told for years now that Climate Change models predict the future of our climate and that we must act in order to prevent the calamity that is coming.  Eeerily accurate, in a way that weather predictions are not, these climate predictions say that the global average temperature rise will be this much, and the increase in rainfall will be that much, and that these will cause various human disasters.

Of course, you can hide a lot in an average.  So it is interesting to see what exactly these figures are an average of.  As reported (or should I say "admitted") by the BBC, the Met Office has published a study plotting the likely climate impacts on 24 countries around the world.  They're not exactly convincing.

It seems that 21 different computer models of climate were used to assess various locations as to their vulnerability to floods, rainfall changes and suitability for growing crops.  You would think that, if the "science is settled", then the answers would be fairly consistent.  However, the proportion of UK farmland likely to become more fertile, is apparently somewhere between 60% and 99%.  Aside from being good news rather than bad, that is quite a wide range indicating that the models underlying this prediction are exercises in guesswork at best.  Worse still is the prediction of flooding risk, with estimates ranging from a 180% increase in flood risk to a 56% reduction.

Looking into other countries, where they do not have our history of meticulously recording the weather, it is even worse.  Bangladesh's change in flood risk is somewhere between -59% (that's minus 59%to +557%.  Egypt could be anywhere between 100% better off, or 206% worse off.

When 21 "state-of-the-art" models reach such divergent conclusions, only one conclusion can be reached.  They're all rubbish.

I'll leave the last word to the BBC:
As a policymaker, as a business leader, as a citizen, would you make decisions on the basis of these models?
No. I wouldn't.

(Hat Tip to the Filthy Engineer, again...)

Classic Clarksonisms

With many thanks to the Filthy Engineer, here are a selection of previous utterings from the Yorkshire buffoon.  Enjoy...

1. “I’d like to consider Ferrari as a scaled down version of God.”

2. [On the Porsche Boxster] “It couldn’t pull a greased stick out of a pig’s bottom.”

3. [When driving the Mercedes SLR McLaren through a tunnel] “When they debate as to what the sound of the SLR engine was akin to, the British engineers from McLaren said it sounded like a Spitfire. But the German engineers from Mercedes said ‘Nein! Nein! Sounds like a Messerschmitt!’ They were both wrong. It sounds like the God of Thunder, gargling with nails.”

4. “I’m sorry, but having an Aston Martin DB9 on the drive and not driving it is a bit like having Keira Knightley in your bed and sleeping on the couch. If you’ve got even half a scrotum it’s not going to happen.”

5. “Speed has never killed anyone, suddenly becoming stationary… that’s what gets you.”

6. “Koenigsegg are saying that the CCX is more comfortable. More comfortable than what… being stabbed?”

7. [On Detroit] “God may have created the world in six days, but while he was resting on the seventh, Beelzebub popped up and did this place.”

8. “Owning a TVR in the past was like owning a bear. I mean it was great, until it pulled your head off, which it would.”

9. [On the Renault Clio V6] “I think the problem is that it’s French. It’s a surrendermonkey.”

10. [On the Enzo Ferrari] “I rang up Jay Kay, who’s got one, and said: “Can we borrow yours?” and he said, “Yeah, if I can borrow your daughter, because it amounts to the same thing.”

11. [On the Porsche Cayenne] “I’ve seen gangrenous wounds better looking than this!”

12. “The air conditioning in Lamborghinis used to be an asthmatic sitting in the dashboard blowing at you through a straw.”

13. “Whenever I’m suffering from insomnia, I just look at a picture of a Toyota Camry and I’m straight off.”

14. “If you were to buy a BMW 6-series, I recommend you select reverse when leaving friends’ houses so they don’t see its backside.”

15. “That [Pagani] Zonda, really! It’s like a lion in orange dungarees. Kind of fierce, but ridiculous all at the same time.”

16. [On a Chevrolet Corvette] “The Americans lecture the world on democracy and then won’t let me turn the traction control off!”

17. [On the Alfa Romeo Brera] “Think of it as Angelina Jolie. You’ve heard she’s mad and eats nothing but wallpaper paste. But you would, wouldn’t you?”

18. “A turbo: exhaust gasses go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster.”

19. “This is a Renault Espace, probably the best of the people carriers. Not that that’s much to shout about. That’s like saying ‘Oh good, I’ve got syphilis, the best of the sexually transmitted diseases!’”

20. “In the olden days I always got the impression that TVR built a car, put it on sale, and then found out how it handled – usually when one of their customers wrote to the factory complaining about how dead he was.”

21. [On the Mercedes CLS55 AMG] “It sounds like Barry White eating wasps.”

22. “I’d rather go to work on my hands and knees than drive there in a Ford Galaxy. Whoever designed the Ford Galaxy upholstery had a cauliflower fixation. I would rather have a vasectomy than buy a Ford Galaxy.”

23. “Usually, a Range Rover would be beaten away from the lights by a diesel powered wheelbarrow.”

24. “Racing cars which have been converted for road use never really work. It’s like making a hardcore adult film, and then editing it so that it can be shown in British hotels. You’d just end up with a sort of half hour close up of some bloke’s sweaty face.”

25. “I don’t understand bus lanes. Why do poor people have to get to places quicker than I do?”

No. 10 definitely applies to my 911, and I know a distressing number of people who think 18 is true...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

21 Shopping Days left

Mrs P found this book, which we're working through this year.  It has some interesting quips and insights.

I'v always loved, for instance, the story of the MP who took a call from the local newspaper editor asking what he would like for Christmas.  Somewhat flattered, but not wanting to seem too greedy, he commented that John Lewis has some excellent hampers in stock this year. And so the article ran: "We asked leading figures what they wanted for Christmas.  The Archbishop of Canterbury said he wanted an end to the violence in Iraq.  The Dalai Lama said he wanted peace in the Middle East.  The Pope said he wanted an end to poverty.  Your local MP said he would like a hamper from John Lewis".

Today's page, however, points to the real story of Christmas.  It has reminded me that what actually happened was that a teenage Mum, pregnant outside marriage, almost abandoned but wonderfully supported by her fiancĂ©, is forced to travel a huge distance (by the standards of the time) in order to conform to the tax regulations of an occupying foreign power.  When she arrives, there is nowhere for the child to be born so she ends up giving birth in a cowshed behind a pub, with no midwife, no gas & air, no clean sheets, and no epidural.

There is a message there.  Christmas is not about getting everything right.  It's not about getting the decorations just perfect.  It's not about getting every last present spot on so as to provoke squeals of delight.  It's about coping with whatever circumstance happens to have thrown at you that year, fitting around that, and remembering what is important - keeping the family together.  Do that, and you can allow something wonderful to come out of it, not make something wonderful happen.

So if the roast parsnips don't turn out quite right, don't worry about it!

Mind you, that hamper does look nice...

Thursday, 1 December 2011

I Couldn't Agree More

I agree wholeheartedly.  We all deserve a decent pension.  Where we differ, is that I think the term "everyone" includes people in the private sector, too.

Now, the reason I don't have a decent pension is that the taxman takes 2/3 of my income, partly to fund the kind of pension for public sector workers that is way beyond anything I can afford..  Sort that out, and I'll be more sympathetic to changes to your pensions.