Guinea Pig Stew

The other week it came time to loan out $25 on Kiva that had recently been repaid. I had a quick search through the listings for a suitable borrower. 

My grand-daughter decided to help.

We looked through a few. Then we came across a fine band of Peruvian farmers. They wanted the money to buy chickens and Guinea Pigs.

Stew? My names is not Stew. My name is Brian

My grand-daughter thought about this particular group long and hard. Her wistful expression said it all.

Guinea pigs. Fluffy little Guinea pigs. Nice guinea pigs. Then, by association, nice Peruvians, kind Peruvians, looking after the nice little Guinea Pigs.

I was a coward. I said nothing.

Because of my silence there was no option. The Peruvians got their loan.

Here they are:
The Yayanmarca farmers Group Peru

One day I'll have to summon thhe courage and tell my grand-daughter what the Peruvians farmers plan for their fluffy little Guinea pigs

But not for another ten years, or maybe twenty.

Don't forget, Kiva is great.

Make loans directly to decent people in the third world, not their greedy ruling class. These are loans that get repaid, not lost in a Swiss bank account or a Mercedes Benz dealership.

Everyone gets their own link from Kiva. Here's mine, go on have a look. (you know you want to)

Do I get any money from this link? - don't be bloody daft.  But if you would rather their main site....

But I do get a bit of Kiva "street cred" from how many people eventually become loaners from my introduction.

I might need that if the local animal rights looneys come calling. Especially if they start asking pointed questions about what exactly happens to Peruvian Guinea pigs -  and who is financing them.

The Apprentice

Billothewisp does not watch the telly that much.

Tonight though (for his sins) he is watching (with one eye only) "The Apprentice" on BBC1.

There are in this program, as you may know, a bunch  of obnoxious wannbee "iconoclasts" brandishing the egos and generally prancing around. Each one desperately trying to be dynamic and go-getting.

Apparently they are making/selling biscuits.

But most of the time they are more interested in bigging themselves up and knifing each other in the back.

Now, Billothewisp is an average sort of bloke. Moderation in all things is his paradigm. He always tries to accommodate different views and attitudes.

He tries to be  understanding and  tolerant.

But tonight he has to ask:

How have these people managed to live this long without being murdered?

Wind Power Today in June

I haven't visited the excellent NETA-bmreports site for a while so I thought I'd have a quick look tonight just to see how much the wind power generation has improved by since my last visit.

I hit the enter key with a great deal of excitement, would it be wonderful?

Would it be, well, at least an improvement?

After all it couldn't get much worse than my last analysis during last winter (See Here)

I waited impatiently while Firefox fired up Java. The seconds ticked away then I watched as all those wonderful little applets burst into life.

My God! NETA is undoubted one of the best and most informative sites on the net!

Here is the one I was hoping to see an improvement in:

Sadly, I was disappointed (again).

Today the whole of the wind turbine fleet was running with a capacity factor of just under 8%. But tomorrow it goes up (wait for it) to 13.5% Woo Hoo!

So today that equates to 1/4 or a single average sized power station for the whole wind turbine fleet. Tomorrow that equates to 1/3 of a average sized power station.

Now I might have incurred the wrath of those who think that the odd snapshot like this is not really indicative of the true output.

To an extent that is true.

But I would like to point out that neither is the so-called capacity factor that windies like to quote. Often blindly quoted at 30% , last year it was 22%.

But whatever the value, Capacity factor is no more worthwhile than my single snapshot.

Because of the nature of wind energy, turbines will be running for most of the time well below their capacity factor,.

They only make up for it due to a few days of high wind.

Most of the time the output of a wind turbine will be less than 20%. For  30% of the time it is less than  10%.

What we need is the most likely output not some dodgy average of power generated from a cube law.

So, are we getting value for money out of these things? Is the irreparable damage done to the countryside and peoples lives worth this pitiful level of power generation?

I think not.

p.s. I must do another 3 or 6 month rolling appraisal again soon.

European Electricity Prices Compared

Here is a price comparison table from The European Energy Portal.

We can do a little analysis of relative electricity prices in Europe.

Highest prices are in  Denmark closely followed by Germany. France is the lowest in Western Europe and Bulgaria is the lowest overall.

  • The Danish pay well over twice the price for their electricity compared to the French.
  • The Germans pay 190% more for electricity than the French, i.e. nearly double.
  • The Italians pay 49% more for their electricity than the French
  • The Spanish pay 43% more for their electricity than the French. Half as much again.
  • The British pay 12% more than the French.

It is interesting to correlate these price differences to installed generation capacity.

  • The Danes are the world leaders per head of population in installed wind power. They also have, by far the most expensive electricity in Europe.
  • Germany has the largest European installation of wind power. It is number two is this highest priced electricity in Europe
  • Spain is close on Germany's heels for installed capacity. Their prices though are a little more reasonable, they are tenth in the price league table.
  • Italy comes a poor third on total installed wind capacity but like the Spanish, they cough up half as much again as the French.

What does this tell us?

Well, I think that the overriding fact is that French Nuclear power (80% of French Electricity generation is nuclear) provides by far, the cheapest electricity in Europe.

Interestingly, the French have the fourth largest number of wind turbines in Europe but like Italy (No 3) and the UK (No 5) this number is about one quarter of that in Germany and Spain.

Compared to Denmark, France (like Italy and the UK) has less than one tenth of the installed number of turbines per head of population.

It would militate that when installed wind power capacity gets above a certain percentage, the price to the consumer sky-rockets. It also shows that wind power is the inflationary driver behind electricity price hikes all across Europe. Generally the more turbines per head of population, the higher your electricity bills are. French prices are driven low by nuclear. If they dispensed with their windmills then their prices would probably be even less.

But the above table contains another really disgraceful truth.

Compare the prices for all of the above nations for a low level user (left column) and a high level user (right column).

You will find that in most countries, including Denmark, Germany, Spain, France and the UK, the high level user gets a discount. In Western Europe, only Italy and the Netherlands charge more for profligate useage.

Surely, if we are trying to cut down on energy useage, we should stop having the smaller users subsidising the higher users.

In other words, why do we have pensioners and the thrifty, subsiding the extravagance of the well-off or careless?

Is that not basic common sense that we should reward energy thift, no punish it?
[Note: 27/03/2014]
 Sadly, sometime in the last few months the European Energy Portal appears to have removed the comparison tables on national electricity and gas prices. It now only publishes comparison tables on petrol/diesel/lpg. I would suspect that the freely available data has been censored as it seriously undermined EU policy. As this post is now 3 years old I hope to update it in the near future when I identify another straight-forward source of pricing information. (red rags bulls and all that)
Regards Billo
[End Note]

The Case against Coal

Both Coal and Nuclear provide excellent base load electrical generation. Both are in a league of their own for cost and reliability.

So why should we replace the coal plant with nuclear? Why not keep things diversified? Can we not use the coal as spinning reserve for wind?

Besides the CO2 emissions, there is another very good reason why we should build more nuclear and use it the retire coal fired plant. (which of course means we can then forget about the nightmare of wind and its intermittency)

It is in a table at DECC Here screenshot below.

Need I say more?

New Nuclear Sites Confirmed

The government has confirmed the sites for eight new nuclear reactors.

And about time too. See Fuels & Power article Here

All the political dithering and posturing over the last ten years (yes ten) has seriously compromised our ability to produce the base load electricity we will so desperately need now.

All over the country old and obsolete plant is being forced into ever longer service because there is nothing to replace it.

Inevitably old plant is less safe than new plant. For exactly the same reasons that a new Ford Mondeo is massively safer than a 1960's Ford Prefect.

But because of the political dithering and toadying to narrow minded environmental bigotry, we now can ill afford to close any of the old plant whether it is coal, gas, oil or nuclear.

Inefficient as it may be, the 50-60 year old plant has to soldier on.

Why can we not close it down anyway?

Because without it, the country's electricity supply simply could not cope.

If ten years ago we had embarked on a steady and measured programme of renewing our nuclear stock and replacing old coal plants with Generation IV nuclear plant, today we would perhaps (like the French) have the lowest electricity prices in Europe, and also the lowest electricity generation CO2 emissions.

Along with that we would have no dirty coal plant and our dependancy on foreign gas would be diminished. As we currently have "in stock" about 60 - 80 years worth of nuclear fuel just sitting on the shelf, we would also be self sufficient in energy.

But it is no use crying over spilt milk.

What we need to do now is to get those in high office to understand the need for much more new Generation IV nuclear plant. France has 58 nuclear reactors with another 3 in various stages of build.

The French have shown that Nuclear works and is highly cost effective. Their huge success lays bare the lies and propaganda about "subsidised nuclear".

If nuclear is so "subsidised" how come the French (80 % nuclear) have the cheapest electricity in Europe?

How come in windmill ridden  Denmark electricity bills are among the highest?

We don't just need eight new Generation IV reactors, we need to start with at least twice that number.

But that is just a start.

I suppose a confirmation about eight new reactors is better than yet more dithering.

But it is still a long way from what we really need.

A Confidential Crime Policy

Back in 2000 one of the Great Good and Extremely Well Fed was appointed as a "Blue Skies Advisor" to Tony Blair.

The individual was John Birt, previously Director General of the BBC and general stalwart of the New Labour establishment.

His mandate was to pursue "A New Vision for the criminal justice system"

To be fair to Dear John, he was enthusiastic in his task.

Some would say over-enthusiastic.Especially those who did not want the boat rocked, let alone capsized.

The confidential document he produced, or rather, some of the statistics he presented in it, caused a minor governmental earthquake.

The report was suppressed. Ministers were not available for comment. Whenever it or its contents were mentioned, the topic was quickly changed.

After being stonewalled by a red faced government, the press eventually gave up. The report was very quickly buried. Dear John was pensioned off to other things. Various news/media bodies were bought off/debts called in, to ensure the outline of the report only got a very brief public airing and was never mentioned again.

This was one of those gorgeously ugly moments we sometimes have in our land. Where the hidden forces of the state leap in on a damage limitation excercise.

Panic stricken they seek to suppress a document, or the reportage of a demonstration or some foreign debacle. All of which could have catastrophically embarrassing results if not killed off.

Incidentally, this report (funnily enough) is still quite hard to come by. So I've put a rather crap pdf copy of it Here.

The document is still stamped "Confidential - Policy". But have a read anyway.

You know you want to.

So what was so wildly dangerous about Dear Johns report? And why am I blogging about it now? Eleven years later.

The reason I am writing about it, is that unfortunately, I don't think much has changed.

The report also contained some shocking statistics. But not the normal run of the mill, manipulated and sanitised statistics boringly churned out each year, but the real ugly data.

These are statistics  that are normally airbrushed out so the public don't get alarmed at the incompetence of their government and legal system.

For example: (this relates to the late 1990's)

Per year there were 14 million serious offences.

Half of these 14 million offences were committed by a hard core of 100,000 serious persistent offenders.

Each of these hard core offenders was committing on average 90 serious offences per year.

At any one time 15000 of these offenders were in jail and the other 85000 are out on the streets, doing their "business".

82% of this group on release from jail were re-convicted.

The item that almost the whole of the establishment wanted to avoid was that this flew directly in the face of their idolised view of criminality as a sort of base band signal produced as a result of poverty and deprivation. To them it was nothing to do with evil or greed.

Today we have Clarke, Cameron, Clegg and Milliband vying for positive voter feedback on being "tough on crime" or "compassionate" or whatever.

But really they need to read John Birts report. It may out of date, but it is still highly relevant.

It showed that in the 1990's half of all serious crimes were one off's. I would suggest that these people need re-habilitation.

It also showed that the other half were committed by dedicated and perpetual criminals. Each of whom was responsible for 90 serious crimes per year.

To a mere pleb like myself this sounds very much like:

We should be compassionate to crimmo's who have only committed one crime. Give them a second chance. Lots of supervision, support and training.

This in turn makes some space in the prison for:

The bastards who perpetually wreck society and peoples lives. Lock them up and throw away the key.

Just on this reckoning, if we released (or let out early - with supervision) 15000 low rate/first time offenders (out of approximately 65000 low rate/first time offenders) and locked up another 15000 hardened crimmos - or significantly increased their sentences, then that would reduce crime by:

 90 x 15000 = 1.35 million serious offences per year

Or (in 1990's figures) it would reduce the serious crime rate by approximately 10%.

Thats with NO increase in the prison population.

Well, it is just an idea. It would entail a little more leniency for those who have taken a bad turn. It would also involve a lot less tea and sympathy for the hard core. Neither of which is regarded as a vote winning  idea by our Great and Good.

What are the real chances of any government doing anything soon about serious crime, compassion and real justice?

Uh, Don't hold your breath.

Palm Oil and Wind Turbines

Billothewisp regards chopping down virgin rain forest to grow Palm Oil palms as an act of criminal stupidity. (See Another Green Energy Scam Here)

But he also finds the curious double standards of wind turbine supporters rather puzzling.

Ruining the countryside in Malaysia so we can generate electricity with approximately a 25% smaller CO2 footprint than by using traditional hydrocarbons is, essentially stupid, and is, to be fair, usually opposed by those who are pro-wind.

But really, Palm Oil is no more (or less) stupid than ruining the country side in (say) Dorset so we can generate intermittent and pitifully uneconomic wind energy.

If you consider things like:

-The 200 tons of concrete in the base,
-The mandatory spinning reserve (that is to cover no wind, not breakdown - that's extra),
-Cycling up and down the CCGT backup so the turbines can actually do something once in a while,

The amount of CO2 saved by wind generation is actually less than that saved by stupidly inefficient Palm Oil generation.

The little spat going on between Greeny palmoil advocates and Greeny windpower advocates can at times reach a state of high farce. It is after all, a serious clash of dogma, and bizarre fashion statements. A bit like communism versus fascism but without the manifestos and military parades. Or a clash of religious dogmas, but without the incense and hymns.

Although comedic it is also a tragedy for the poor bloody common folk who have to put up this narrow minded hyprocisy, whether they are in Malaysia or Dorset.

Of course with both of these mad schemes it is likely that after a full audit of the gains and the losses the only profit will be to the land owners and operators.

The unthinking supporters of both schemes ensure that the mountain of gold being drained from the common folk in both Maylasia and Dorset gets ever higher. Meanwhile the countryside (either rainforest or Purbeck farmland) goes to hell.

So in finality here are two picture of different groups of Nimbys, one in Malaysia and one in Dorset.

While they may be culturally different they are both fighting for the same cause - protecting their local heritage and countryside. Both groups are often despised and villified, referred to as Nimbys by those keen to spoil the environment for their own gain, either political or financial. But the Nimby label, whether worn in Malaysia or Dorset should be worn  with pride.

After all, if you don't look after your own back yard, how can you ever help to look after anyone else's?

All Billothewisp can say to both groups is: Good luck, and keep up the good fight.

One day this lunatic obsession with Palm Oil and Wind Turbines will abate.

But it won't be because it is finally realised by their supporters that both schemes are next to hopeless in preventing pollution.

It will be because the next fashionable "cause" will come along and displace them.

Hi Ho Hum

One Hundred and Eighty Onshore Turbines for Dorset

This post is about a strategy document, quietly being pushed through by Dorset County Council. This document seeks to industrialise virtually the whole of rural Dorset by building 180 on-shore wind turbines.

The DorsetForYou webpage holding the documents: 

The Draft Document : 

The Technical Appendix:

The good people of Dorset have had some success defending their communities against useless Industrial Wind Turbine Complexes. Two such plans (East Stoke and Silton) have been successfully fought off. But the corporations  are certain to go to Appeal, as has happened elsewhere.

Especially now, as the prize would be a planning precedent that would allow them to cash in all over Dorset with Dorset County Council's blessing.

If you think this is a storm in a teacup and only concerns two villages, I have some very bad news for you. This is only the thin end of the wedge.

Over sixty communities and maybe as many as one hundred and twenty will be lined up for industrialisation. Like dominoes they will be picked off one after the other. Sixty rural villages, towns and hamlets in Dorset. All lined up for having Industrial Wind Turbine Complexes imposed on them. How many (if any) Dorset communities will be left un-scarred?

The Bournemouth Poole and Dorset Renewable Energy Strategy, has been prepared by Dorset Country Council. It is now nearing its final draft stage and has been quietly (silently?) released for public consultation. I have yet to find anywhere that tells the public it is available for comment or what it contains.

In this document, the recommendation is that Dorset should install 180 turbines. Each of these white elephants would be higher than Salisbury Cathedral. This 180 on-shore wind turbine plan is promoted as the "realistic" option. But the report does not rule out their preferred option which would be 360 turbines.

Why 60 villages? Look at a map of Dorset. Rule out the main conurbations. Rule our AONB's. What is left?

If one village is affected by 3 turbines (or two by six), that is 60 communities blighted for 180 turbines. 120 communities ruined for 360.

I repeat this is NOT Off-Shore. This is On-Shore. Next to where people live. The planned Poole Bay off-shore turbine complex is extra to this.

Which bit of Dorset gets ruined the most? Here's some screen shots from the PDF of the Technical summary. (Notice they even sell these figures as including noise mitigation -prior to this the figure was over 1400 turbines!)

First the "Maximum Scenario"

Now the Medium (or as they say, "more realistic") Scenario

I half expect you not to believe me about this. It is so utterly outrageous. So go to the links at the top of this post and see for yourself.

Please post a comment if they "disappear" I have copies and I'll publish here..

When you read about the gallant defence of villages of East Stoke and Silton, remember their planned (and resisted) industrialisation is the thin end of a very ugly wedge.

If we allow their desecration; Your community is next.

Erasing English Politics

My friends at the BBC (of which I have none) have, on their sumptuous website, a main page for each of the countries within these islands.

Tonight we are going to play a little game with some screen shots I have just taken.

Now this is a simple little task. A bit like "I Spy" or "Spot the Difference".

The question is: 

What is the missing topic on the page header....( If you need to cheat...look just above the date)

Northern Ireland:



OK so far? 

Now what was the name of that insignificant little country that I have forgotten? 

OH Yes....

So my English dinlows have you noticed the missing little two words? 

That little something the 50 million souls in England clearly cannot be trusted with?

Maybe we grubby little Englanders cannot cope with the stress and strains of (Ugh!) English politics. Maybe it is a good thing that those kindly dears at the BBC have banned it from  polluting our gaze or warping our poor little minds.

It is so good to see that our great benefactors and guardians in Broadcasting House are looking so kindly down on us mere English plebs. 

Goodness! Just Think. 
English people interested in (Ugh!) English Issues? Whatever next?
Heaven Forbid! We'd be wanting an Assembly  next!

But our benefactors at the BEEB also have another brilliant idea. They are trying to breath some life into the corpse of John Prescott's regional dismemberment, er sorry, I mean regionalism plan. 

So they have this:

Oh Joy! Some regional info.

But no politics. Even here the nice kindly people at the BEEB wouldn't want to frighten the simple English folk with any mention of politics. Goodness No.

Much better that England is a Political Free Zone. All politics relating to England and an English identity are airbrushed out, just in case it confuses the English  or possibly frightens the horses.

The BBC can proudly state that their web pages and programs are scourged of English politics. Hurrah!

To end on a serious note: How the hell are any of us in these islands going to progress our democracy while 50 million are airbrushed out of the political landscape?

This not only demeans the English it diminishes the Scots, Welsh and Irish too. If the English cannot be trusted with an Assembly, you have to ask, are the other assemblies and parliaments just tokens? Simply there to appease nationalists rather than progress our democracy?

While the English issues are ignored by the political classes (and the bloody BBC), then the democratic freedoms of everyone in these islands is diminished.

The Camel Assasins

When I first read This Post on "Watts Up With That"  I thought that the author must be on drugs. But as I read on it became all too painfully obvious that this was far from some drug induced hallucination.

It was for real.

Basically, in order to save the planet from Global Warming, the Australian Government plan to gun down one million feral camels. Simply to stop them farting.

You're next sunshine

If this scheme was ever extended to the human race then Billothewisp would have his life expectancy seriously curtailed.

The camels will be humanely shot (Oh - that's alright then), and the amount of CO2 released from the decomposing carcass and the fuel used by the hunting party carefully itemised against that saved by the prevention of camel fart-gas. The resulting "Carbon Credits" can then be traded

No. Seriously. I am not on drugs either. Honestly. Read the Australian Governement paper Here.

Now putting stupidity and drug induced psychosis to one side, on the balance of things, I generally think a mild amount of AGW is taking place. Consequently I often try to present what I consider rational aspects of reducing pollution, like this post on stopping the Indonesian Peat Fires  - due for an update soon.

But unfortunately, any rational argument for stopping bad things like deforestation, and slash and burn farming get thrown out the window when the lunatics and doom-wishers start down the End-Of-The-World-Is-Nigh path and present ever more extreme and absurd scanarios and solutions for global warming.

But I never thought that sections of the Australian government were also in need of Psychiatric care.

I may be disparaged by the true believers in the global warming camp as a mere Luke Warmer, but believe me, lunatic ideas like this will soon reduce that temperature to tepid.

Banking, Foreign Aid and Pensions.

OK you grubby little Englanders. It is Saturday night. Let us put the world to rights. Or at least, let us think about how to fix a few things that desperately need attention. So tonight....

Putting the world to rights involves doing three things:

1. Screwing over the disgustingly greedy bankers.
2. Ensuring foreign aid actually goes to decent people not tyrants and despots
3. Making sure that those who invest in a pension actually get one.

Here is a short discourse on the way it is, what needs fixing, and the way it could be.

The way it is:

The obscenity of the banking scandal continues. The banking wide boys reward themselves with outrageous bonuses while waving two fingers to the rest of us. The banks charge loan shark rates to borrowers while rewarding savers with a pittance. Businesses needing working capital can go to hell.

Foreign Aid
The governement grotesquely announces that it wants to be an aid "super-power". It shovels more and more money abroad in a grandiose attempt buy itself friends and importance on the world stage.  Massive amounts of the aid money ends up supporting the tyrants and bigots who brutalise much of the third world. The decent people of the third world who need a hand up (not a hand out) get the table scrapings, if they are lucky.

The self same banks, also peddle dodgy pensions. Though they make their financial advisors and associates millions, they leave the suckers drawn into their schemes on a sure course to a poverty ridden old age.

So how can this be fixed?

Basically, as stated at the start, we need to:

1. Screw over the bankers.
2. Ensure that foreign aid goes to decent people not tyrants.
3. Ensure that people who invest in a pension actually get a decent return.

So here is a suggestion. Naive it may be. Even unworkable - maybe.

But I hope you find it interesting,

The way it could be.

Instead of trusting the untrustwothy bankers, pension savers would commit (say) a portion of their pension to micro-finance initiatives. This could include foreign aid initiatives like those run by Kiva. Through organisations like  Kiva, this money gets lent out directly to the ordinary decent people in the third world. Of course lending like this, although relatively safe, gives a poor or nil financial return.

This is where the foreign aid budget comes in. Instead of just funding ugly despots, the foreign aid budget could provide a return to the pension saver for the loan. This would amount to perhaps 5% of the loaned amount. It would ensure that foreign aid actually supported decent people rather than the ugly despots. It would mean individuals would take responsibility for helping the poor of the world, not some government quango. Meanwhile their government would take responsibility for ensuring that pension funds, honestly saved, get a decent return, At the same time, they could massively reduce the corrupt foreign aid budget.

But there are losers:

1. The ugly despots who find they cannot now affords a new golden 500 series Mercedes every six months. Or some new electric whips for their secret police.

2. The bankers who suddenly find out that their slush funds have vanished and their bonuses are in jeopardy.

Anyone grieving for the losers?

...Thought not.

p.s. If you are wondering "What about investing in UK industry?" ... see one of my next posts

E-Coli: A Tragic German Double Standard

So, now it looks like it really was the beansprouts (see guardian here) Those Spanish cucumbers were innocent after all.

Thirty-one dead. Three thousand infected (and rising). Many left in need of kidney transplants. A terrible catalogue of tragedy which, unfortunately, is far from closed.

It also looks like it was all too predictable. Beansprouts were responsible for a similar outbreak (though this time Salmonella) in the UK in 2010. In fact between 1973 and 2007 Beansprouts were responsible for no less than 37 major outbreaks of food poisoning from either salmonella or e-coli across the world.  (See Here).

That number of course, excludes the UK outbreak or the latest German disaster.

Uncooked "Organic" bean sprouts:- The symbolic food of the Green movement.

I bet nobody told you (before now) that they can harbour E-Coli not only on the outer extremities but also internally. Washing them for a week may not remove the infection. See Here

Compared to other vegetables, uncooked bean sprouts present a significant health risk (See Here - "Minimising your Risk"). This risk is particularly severe to the young, old and vulnerable.

Beansprouts require scrupulous hygiene from seed to plate. Clearly, in Germany this hygiene regime was seriously compromised somewhere early on in the chain. But nobody actually knows where yet.

All over the world, and especially in Germany, environmentally concerned parents have been feeding raw bean sprouts to themselves and to their kids. They then probably wash them down with some unpasteurised "Whole" milk. (another fad). Meanwhile these same parents have been panicking over nuclear incident, on the other side of the planet, that killed no-one and resulted in a few vegetables getting a barely measurable dose of radiation.

Double standard? I think so.

Beside cooking, there is another way you can ensure uncooked bean sprouts are fit to eat. You can irradiate them with Gamma rays. ( See Here )

Actually this process is quietly used by many hospitals to reduce the risk of patients getting secondary infections from poorly cooked food.  To quote from the above link:

"Food irradiation for a number of produce items would give us not just a marginal increase, but give us probably the Grand Canyon increase of safety.

It was touted as a method for wholesale treatment of vegetables in the 1980's but in the UK it was rejected.

To be fair is is a bit OTT for most fruit and veg.

It's appeal to the food industry was that it would significantly improve shelf life. The fact that it would also protect consumers from a low risk of food poisoning was, at the time, just a bit of useful propaganda.

But never the less, if these bean sprouts had been irradiated they would not have been poisonous.

Thirty one people would not have died.

By the way don't think that the bean sprouts would have become radioactive either. To make something radioactive you need a Neutron source not a Gamma ray source.

Maybe there is an opportunity here for some adventurous German bean sprout producer:

 Ship your sprouts to Holland.

Get them irradiated and them sell the back in  Germany as guaranteed E-Coli free.

Just don't mention that they have been irradiated. The German irrationality over everything nuclear would guarantee certain bankruptcy.

Windfarm Wars: Last Chance To See on iPlayer

It is your last chance to see Windfarm Wars on BBC iPlayer. The four episodes expire tomorrow and I have a dark suspicion that the BBC will then find the deepest and darkest cupboard in their vaults and bury this series forever. Such must be their embarrassment at portraying the ugliness of the corporate wind developers.

This documentary series concerns a proposed Industrial Wind Turbine Complex, planned to be built in the middle of a Devon beauty spot.

If you have not read my previous posts on this documentary series, which went out over 4 weeks at 7pm on BBC2 on Fridays then, if you like, there is a more detailed description of three of the episodes HereHere and Here .

The series started out with a typical BBC portrayal of the decent people of Den Brook as a bunch of out of touch, middle class, aged buffoons.

But by episode 3 something had happened.

I can only guess that the production crew got tired of the ugly multinational, their propaganda and secret data.

Or maybe they realised that the people of Den Brook were not just some cartoon charactitures, but real people trying to defend their countryside and way of life.

Or perhaps they were just sickened by the horribly greedy land owner.

The ritual pastiche portrayal of the common folk as selfish Nimby yokels went to the wall.

We all saw (and started to cheer on) the protesters, led by Mike Hulme - An ordinary bloke, living a low impact life with his wife. He got pushed just a bit too far by the intransigence of the developer.

Oh Boy! I bet they regret taking him on.

Episode 4 is Here , Episode 3 is Here, Episode 2 is Here and Episode 1 is Here

But only for the day!

If you are time limited I recommend episode 3 as the best. But then, after that you will really want to watch episode 4.

Episode 2 is interesting as it is where the production team appear to start distancing themselves from the developer.

Episode 1 shows the initial condescending attitude of the BBC to the people of Den Brook. Watch out for the crumbling icebergs and smoking chimneys. But it is still worth a watch.

While you are on the BBC page(s) look at the Windfarm Wars base webpage Here Notice the promoted websites on the right. Not a mention of critical sites like Renewable Energy Foundation or The John Muir Trust or even the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Just one by a no-name company, allegedly offering you "Green Energy Guide: The Pros and Cons of Wind Energy and Wind Farms".

But what you get is a condescending and  ill informed propaganda  piece that trots out all the usual ludicrous claims made by the wind lobby.

The BBC should be truly ashamed the this website gets such a promotion.

 I wonder why it is there?

Maybe to try and kiss and make up with their  truculent friends in Renewables UK?

Who knows.

But certainly such an unbalanced page, masquerading as impartial information should never get an airing.

By all means have a page (or even two) from the wind lobby.

But then we would know who and what we are dealing with.

The Cucumbers are Innocent OK?

Germany: Strain O105 E-Coli.

25 dead. Approaching 3000 infected. 800 very seriously ill.

Billothewisp admits he got it wrong. The Spanish Organic cucumbers were not to blame. They were infected with the wrong strain of E-Coli. That is of course assuming that there is a right strain of E-Coli in the first place.

But whatever.

It would appear that the cow shit sprayed onto these wronged veggies held the wrong version of the E-Coli infection. Basically the E-Coli outbreak has, as yet, not been pinned down.

But we do know where it is. We also know what it has done so far.

So, is this a not a major disaster? Should we indulge in a little hysteria? Maybe spread some fear and panic?

So here goes. Panic And Fear Mode ON:

Already 25 are dead with 800 whose lives are seriously compromised.

Even with the 3000 lesser infections: How many of these in future years will develop cancer or other fatal illnesses?

How many more infections will there be?

How many will die now?

But more importantly, how many will die later?

How many are so mildly infected that they do not even know thay have been infected?

We know millions of will die in future years from cancer and other illnesses. Can anyone say with certainty that these deaths were not triggered by a mild unreported dose of E-Coli?

How many more will die because they stopped eating healthy vegetables and then develop cancer (in later years) from the junk food they subsequently indulged in?

In fact, should we not evacuate the German state of Saxony-Anhalt until the emergency is over?

Perhaps we need to draw a 20Km exclusion zone around the centre of the outbreak.

We could forcibly re-locate the people into shelters and school halls until the emergency is over.

Perhaps we should spend billions "decontaminating" Saxony-Anhalt, so even the smallest possibility that any form E-Coli benign or otherwise, is eradicated.

You know, Just in case.

After all, if it is good enough for Fukishima, where no one died and barely anyone was "infected", surely we need to adopt similar draconian tactics to stop this E-Coli outbreak in Germany.

If you live in Saxony-Anhalt then maybe you should be afraid. Very afraid.

Panic And Fear Mode OFF:

So. Are you panicked? On the verge of Hysteria? Did that hit the mis-information spot for you?

Besides the body count (Saxony-Anhalt: 25 Fukishima: 0)  the main difference between The Saxony-Anhalt Disaster and the Fukishima Disaster is the tsunami of self serving hysteria from the press that surrounded Fukishima.

While there is obviously a great deal of concern over the E-Coli outbreak, the press, so far, have avoided the incoherent feeding frenzy of fear that accompanied the difficulties in Fukishima.

In years to come, the "Fukishima Disaster" that killed no-one, and injured maybe 20 workers will still be held up as a item of fear and dread.

While a preventable toxin, produced in bovine effluent that killed dozens and crippled hundreds, leaving many in need of a transplant, will be quietly forgotten.

Nobody will remember the Saxony-Anhalt Disaster. Except maybe those left bereaved or on dialysis.

Worse still, you can guarantee that sometime, somewhere in the world the Saxony-Anhalt Disaster will be repeated again, and again, and again.

But (sensibly) we won't stop eating vegetables.

p.s. I just read on Google News that it may have been the Cucumbers all along. See News Report Here

Dare I say: Cucumbers  are obviously intrinsically unsafe. Maybe they should be be banned?

You know it makes (non)sense

Wind turbines and the kidney Seller

I was just listening to Radio 4 "Thought For The Day". On it the narrator described how, in China a young man sold one of his kidneys so he could buy an iPad.

The commentator described what an bizarrely unequal transaction it was. He described what pitiful return the kidney seller got for compromising his body and his health.

It occurred to me that this really is not that far from what is going on with the wind turbine gold rush. The way we are mortgaging our children's future,
scarring our landscapes and ruining the lives of those who are forced to live near these things. All for a pitiful return.

No doubt the Kidney buyer, some immoral medic who despoils the name of medicine, makes huge sums of money.
No doubt he or she is as sharp suited and corporate as our own wind turbine developers

Wind turbines are ludicrously ineffective, costly and ugly. They produce ridiculously small amounts of energy which may or may not arrive
at any time day or night (when it is unwanted). The return to the community for the damage done is inevitably pitiful.

The only thing in their favour is that they are highly fashionable.

Pity the stupidity of the Chinese kidney seller.

Then pity the stupidity of the blinkered people who avidly promote wind turbines.
They avoid the truth about wind turbines simply so they can have heir ugly expensive fashion statements polluting our country-side.

At least the Chinese kidney seller only compromised his own life.

Unfortunately wind farm supporters can compromise the lives of many others.

Usually to a greater extent than their own lives are affected.

Rethinking England

I'm having a bit of a wobble about where I stand regarding England and an English Assembly. Though to be honest, I have never been totally convinced about the current viability of a separate English devolved parliament. Especially one modelled as the English equivalent of the Scottish parliament or the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies.

An English Assembly looks like a nice idea. It would bring a level of equality across these islands.

But the cold hard question we have to ask is: Would the English vote for it?

That is of course assuming that the Great and the Good ever allowed such a vote in the first place.

I think at this moment in time, most English voters would only see it as just another layer of bureaucracy. More "Jobs for the Boys" - and expense account fiddles.

I also fear that is all it would become.

The current ruling elites value their precious "World Role" far beyond any concept of national fairness or even-handedness. Yet another layer of bureaucracy could be used to obfuscate their power base. This could potentially make them even more invulnerable to national scrutiny as they prance around the World Stage from their Westminster stronghold.

The political classes would obviously rather keep their virtual dictatorship over English affairs. But if necessary, they could cope with another layer of bureaucrats, as long as they keep their dominant position in Westminster.

Politicians are, without doubt the most disliked (even loathed) class of individuals in the land.

So do we want more layers of self serving elites with their little empires and petty squabbles?

I think the resounding answer from the electorate at any potential vote would be no. Just as has happened before.

Like when the elecorate (or at least the good people of the North East) soundly rejected John Prescotts dirty little regionalisation plan, which would have cemented in the self servers while dismembering England wholesale.

But where does that leave England today? The answer from me is, I am afraid to say, "I don't know".

In previous posts, I railed against the sheer unfairness of the current system which denies an English identity. Especially as English taxes finance almost all of the governance of these islands. The unfairness of tuition fees and prescription charges rankle many. Myself included.

It is not that the Scots and Welsh governments voted for reduced charges.

It is that the English has no say at all. We simply had to put up with what we got. No voice. No debate.

England has in many ways been erased from the UK nationality debate. It is a non country with no representation and is despised and vilified. Especially by the ruling elites.

Of course if Alec Salmond has his way (and he is a very persuasive individual) then the issue of who governs England will soon have to be addressed.

I suppose really, we need to start thinking about this now rather than if/when the Scottish vote for a cessation of the Union.

But I for one, at this moment in time, don't really know what to think.

So I am open to suggestions.

But really I think we all need to get a debate going and a game plan(s) sorted for whatever outcome happens in the Scottish referendum.

We can't simply muddle along like this. The problem and the issues will not go away.

Renewable Energy Foundation - Under Attack

The Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) is in the pocket of no-one.

Not the government, industry,academia or the media.

They provide expert, rigorously researched data to anyone who wishes to have it. No obfuscation. No spin. Just solid data with an expert commentary and opinion which is based firmly on that data.

They report on all forms of renewable energy. Their funding comes from a number of sources, some industrial, some not. But nobody calls the shots.

Their research has led them to be heavily critical of on-shore wind generation and particularly the Klondike style gold-rush to install ineffective and intermittent on-shore wind turbines in ever more inappropriate and damaging locations.

This though, obviously does not sit well with the companies and "trade associations" that have much to lose from the REF's stance. Then of course we have the wind lobby's unthinking and unquestioning admirers in the media.

Take this Leo Hickman Guardian Environment Blog Entry. Dear Leo is apparently an unblinking fan of Wind Turbines. While the latter part of his Guardian article is a reasonable exchange between him and a REF spokesperson the front end is full of innuendo and supposition. If you read it, get past the blinkered opinionated front end with its veiled character assassinations. Then read the exchange with blinkers removed.

Interestingly, the front end of Leo's blog entry presents unchallenged criticism of REF from the likes of the quaintly named British Wind Energy Association ( now more fashionably renamed "Renewables UK" ) But Leo fails to mention that this is not just a supporters group, it is actually the so-called "trade association" for the wind industry.

Some call it a trade association, personally I would call it a cartel.

This is the same organisation whose members routinely refuse to release wind data and noise data to council planning departments. Let alone concerned individuals.

Unlike the REF there is no transparency, no openness. The data is secret. Unless that is, you are prepared to risk everything by taking them to the high court like good old Mike Hulme did ( See this Post )

The attitude and tactics of the Wind Turbine lobby get ever more like the attitude and tactics adopted by the big Tobacco companies in the 1960's. Back then, not only was the truth suppressed but anyone attempting to reveal the truth had their career ruined.

Perhaps that is the next port of call for these huge Corporate wind turbine companies.

Maybe after REF they will apply pressure and get NETA Data removed or filtered, especially that pesky section half way down - "Peak Wind Generation Forecast", and its equally pesky partner "Wind Forecast Out turn". Then  nobody else, like the John Muir Trust can criticise them. ( Access their report HERE)

As for poor old Billothewisp, without the NETA data or the REF data, posts like This One, or in fact, any of These posts, would not be possible.

We would all be in the dark while the the huge international corporations and their "Oh aren't we green" front companies rake in the profits from the outrageous subsidies.

What is more, if we continue to allow these gold-diggers to continue brow beating and undermining legitimate groups like the REF we probably will all end up in the dark.

That will be when the wind stops blowing, and the lights go out.    

Windfarm Wars: The Final Chapter

Windfarm Wars is/was a documentary series on BBC2. It followed the progress and opposition to a proposed industrial wind turbine complex to be built in the heart of rural Devon. Like its predecessors, this final episode is a must watch.

For some unknown reason it will only be available on BBC iplayer for 6 days. It is available HERE but be quick.

Regrettably there is no real happy ending. Unless that is, you are a ruthless corporate windfarm developer. Even they have some difficulties with the conditions (so it is not all bad).

Mike Hulme and friends gallantly fight the corporate monster. They are truly inspiring, but the contest is so totally unequal it is enough to make you despair.

A few interesting little snippets crawl out of the woodwork. RES the "Oh So Green" developer is actually part of the McAlpine Group.

In other words, this is just another dirty corporate monster trampling over the common folk for its filthy lucre.

The stupidity of the government (or at least the last government) really comes to the fore. At least the second enquiry recommended  ETSU-R-97 (the windfarm noise standard) should be reviewed.

But the government still appeared complacent to the need for change. Probably because the government is completely in the pocket of the big corporations. The common people can go to hell.

I was absolutely amazed at the sheer depths the developer went to. At one point the child of the the project manager (now a director of RES) gets to give evidence to the enquiry.

Then the project managers partner was wheeled out. Of course, the project manager protested that she had no idea what their partner was going to say (yea,  yea, yea).

I imagine that RES were so desperate for people to speak for the development, anyone would do.

Watch out for one other windfarm supporter, evidently known to the developer. He effectively suggests that Den Brook and its residents should be sacrificed so the wind farm could go ahead.


Perhaps Mike and the rest of the locals should be shipped out on cattle trains to some remote detention  camp where they can be "re-educated". Then RES can build their money making  monsters unheeded.

I will be blogging more on this, but for now I would really like to say a big thank you to the people of Den Brook and their supporters.

Their campaign has been absolutely inspiring.

They have taken a big chunk out of the wall that protects and promotes this nationwide crime. I hope their fortitude and resilience will force a re-evaluation of this truly failed technology.

Maybe then we can stop wasting money on ineffective and costly wind turbines, and also stop lining the pockets of greedy developers.

Spanish Cucumbers, and English Hydroponics.

I don't want to make light of the terrible events in Germany concerning the E-Coli outbreak, but I do think a little acidic evaluation is necessary.

What would you rather eat?

An English cucumber, grown under glass, in a bug free environment, with artifical mineral nutrient fertilizer, using soil-less Hydroponics?

Or a Spanish "Organic" cucumber grown "naturally" in the ground and regularly sprayed with a mix of piss and cow shit.

I understand E-Coli is only spread by "faecal matter" (i.e. cow shit). As I tend to be a bit squeamish about eating faecal matter I would tend to go for the untrendy, Oh-so-unnatural English cucumber.

I might well miss out on that little extra taste added by the fresh cow doo-da, but that is just one of my many failings.

As it is, I find I have to eat enough shit from  those who rule over us, so missing out on that little extra something, and avoiding E-Coli as well seems OK by me.

Of course I could alternatively go for some condemned Japanese Spinach, which committed the crime of being grown near Fukishima. Condemned it may well have been. But (even mildy) radioactive it was not.

Would I rather a plateful of hysterically denounced Fukishima "Glow in the dark" spinach or a bovine excreta flavoured cucumber?

Hmmm, I think it would have to be Popeye's choice food for me.

How about you?