Greenland

I’ve never been there. It’s in the news a lot lately though.

It’s summer so there are glaciers on Greenland dropping icebergs into the sea, as they have done for a very, very long time. Suddenly it’s ‘a catastrophe’. What a pity it’s not actually a new phenomenon. If the Church of Climatology had a shred of credibility, if their claims were even remotely true, we’d still have the Titanic to sail around in.

Meanwhile the total tonnage of frozen water on Greenland has increased this year. No, I’m not going to bother finding the reference. If you want to pretend the world is warming when it’s rapidly cooling, you carry on. I’m not here to save you, I’m making preparations to save myself. You are free to believe whatever you like. Oh, and the obituary for the glacier on Iceland? That glacier was 700 years old. So, 700 years ago, there was no glacier there. Explain that in terms of SUVs, private jets and Elton John’s magic CO2-absorbing money.

Greenland was in the news with a bigger story this week. Coincidentally, CStM and I were in Denmark while the news broke that Donny Trumpton wasn’t joking – he really did want to buy Greenland from Denmark. Danish news responded with the story that since Greenland was discovered by the son of the man who discovered America, then according to inheritance rules, America belongs to Greenland’s founder. Greenland has therefore offered to buy America.

Donny was due to visit Denmark but has pulled out at the last minute. Why? Ostensibly because Denmark refuse to even consider selling him Greenland. Another possibility is that he realises the massive bollocks he’s made and knows he’ll get a poor – to put it mildly – reception.

I wondered if it was one of his ‘Art of the Deal’ games. ‘You won’t sell me Greenland? Then I’m not coming to visit until you do’. To which the Danes will respond with ‘Well fuck off then, fat boy’ and crack open another Carlsberg. Or maybe pour an Akvavit. They will not play that game. They have no intention of ever selling Greenland. Denmark is not a poor country – and no, it’s not socialist. It’s a kind of directed capitalism. You can set up any business you like, taxes are high but benefits are consequently plentiful. You never have to queue for bread. And there are tax breaks for all kinds of business related things.

These are Vikings, remember. They colonised Iceland and Greenland before anyone ‘discovered’ those places and there is some evidence they were the first Europeans to reach America. Oh, and they called it ‘Greenland’ because it was green. They had crops and cattle on there before most of it froze over. A little bit of history helps put the Church of Climatology in perspective, doesn’t it? That’s why they don’t like you looking at it.

You can’t just buy a country and its inhabitants. If you want it you have to invade and take over. And be ready for a lot of death and destruction and expense. Donny doesn’t seem to have considered for a moment that maybe Greenlanders don’t want to be Americans. Sure, he thinks it’s the greatest country on earth but there is a world outside the USA containing lots of other countries. The people in those countries mostly have them set out and organised the way they like them. They aren’t for sale.

The Trumper isn’t the first to try this. A previous American president – I am told it was probably Truman – tried to buy Greenland and had the same ‘*snort* no’ response. It’s not going to change.

There would be a definite military advantage to the USA if they owned Greenland. Between that and Alaska they could target almost all the northern hemisphere. Do we really want any country to have that kind of power? Sure, you might think of Trump as bumbling but basically benign, but twenty years from now, who will be in charge of all that strategic power? They could target all of Russia. Surely anyone can see that’s going to make Russia a bit edgy and start another arms race. Even though it’s militarily sensible from the USA military’s point of view, overall it is a very, very bad idea.

It is fortunate that Greenland is owned by the Danes. They don’t cave to outside pressure easily. They don’t give a flying fuck what the rest of the world thinks and they are not impressed by the posturing of either Trump or Putin. You don’t like it in Denmark? Leave. No hijab, no Halal, no Euros. They have kept their currency so they still have that option to walk away from the EU. There’s been no sign of them doing so, yet, but they have sensibly kept the option open.

If Donny Trumpton thinks he can worry the Danes by refusing to show up to some pomp and ceremony occasion, he really doesn’t understand those people at all. Denmark is a remarkably flat country, all the more remarkably flat to someone who grew up in Wales and now lives in Scotland. And yet I have never seen a golf course there. I don’t think Trump has anything they want. Not a thing. Not unless he can make a better Remoulade.

I love it there. I can buy whisky at lower prices than I can get it at the distilleries making it in Scotland – and I live a couple of hours’ drive from most of them. Cigarettes are half the price. Literally. And they don’t have the Doors of Shame (although I noted this week some supermarkets have started to install them, but the local shops don’t have them).

I have brought back a good supply of smokes. I didn’t bring whisky back – bringing whisky to north-east Scotland just seemed silly and anyway the price differential was enough to be amusing, not enough to be worth loading up. It’s really down to Scotland’s silly minimum pricing, which means I can get whisky cheaper in another country than I can in the distillery down the road.

Trumpy, no matter how good he thinks he is at manipulating deals, is not going to get Denmark to sell him Greenland. It is not going to happen. So will he refuse to let them buy Ford cars? Pffft. They prefer Volvos, for the most part. There aren’t all that many Ford drivers there.

Greenland is not going to be US State 52. He’d be better off shoring up Puerto Rico if he wants another state as his legacy.

_________

It has been a chaotic summer. CStM and I are just back from a week in Denmark where we visited her family and spent most of the time sitting around being all hygge and doing not much of anything. It was great. Even with Psycho Dog keeping us company and occasionally vanishing to shit on the neighbour’s drive. It was a long way back to the airport though…

We have had almost continuous visitors here since April. These visitors came from Wales and from Denmark (family, both sides) and all expected to be shown around a lot. On a map, Denmark is about the same size as Scotland but what the Danes never realise is that the uppiness and downiness of the Scottish landscape can at least double the driving distance shown on the map. Also, any Scottish long straight country roads always, without exception, lead to an unexpected and unsigned 90 degree bend at some point.

It’s been fun, I’ve seen things locally I hadn’t seen before and revisited some favourites but it has taken up a lot of time. Our week in Denmark was specifically intended to be a resting week (the highlight was CStM’s grandfather’s birthday). No tourism apart from a trip to the beach for a spectacular ice cream. We’re both all touristed out.

We even had a visit to the police station after one Scottish trip. There was a maniac driver who didn’t slow down for a roundabout, passed us, hit the chevron sign, rolled eight times and landed on the far side of the roundabout. He apparently survived but as we had front row seats and he was all on dashcam, we had to give a statement when we volunteered the footage. I’m not putting it online, that would just be sick. Last we heard he was alive, but only just.

Anyway, all of this has slowed down the work enormously. So there will be no more tourism until mid October when we will go to Wales to sit about doing bugger all for a week. Also no overnight visitors.

From tomorrow I have two books to finish work on for other authors, the Halloween Underdog Anthology (number 9) starting up in earnest and more of my own to write.

I also have to get the damn grass cut. And beat the grapevine into submission.

So, no more tourists this side of Christmas. And that’s final.

Reliance

I know, it sounds like the next Mark Ellott novel, following ‘Ransom’, ‘Rebellion’ and the almost-ready ‘Resolution’ and who knows? Maybe it will be.

Well, the replacement router arrived today and it’s much improved over the one I had before. Four years of technology can do that, I suppose. It linked much more easily to the wifi booster and it has a stronger wifi signal than the old one. So four days without internet was worth it.

Just in time – I had almost used up my data allowance on the mobile by using it as a mobile hotspot. I have been considering reducing the data package since I normally rarely use it, but I think I’ll leave it there. It was very handy in this emergency!

It’s amazing how much you can get done when your internet access is severely restricted. I have both Mark Ellott’s and Marsha Webb’s novels formatted and returned to the authors for last checks and I have a short story collection from another author that I can now start sorting out. I’m really going to have to limit my forays into the mad world of the internet in future.

These days in the Internet wilderness also showed me just how reliant I am on it now. Oh I remember when the only phone available was the phone box at the end of the street. I remember when I bought a mobile phone for the first time – I was in my early thirties and scoffed at them until a pheasant flew into my windscreen on a country road and shattered it. Suddenly they seemed like a potentially useful thing to have.

I was, of course, travelling at a perfectly sensible and sedate pace along that dead straight and empty road. It was entirely the pheasant’s fault.

I remember when it became law to fit front seat belts to cars so my father did. It was not yet legally required to use them, so he didn’t. I remember when I was sent, with my younger brother, to the corner shop to by my father’s cigarettes. I remember very well the day they couldn’t sell them to us any more. He wasn’t happy.

We used to buy things with money. Now we just wave a plastic card at a machine and soon we’ll have the card chips in our hands.

Now, of course, the Phone is God. You can use it to pay for things, watch films, browse the internet and if you can figure out how, you can even still make phone calls with it. That feature, once the only reason for a phone’s existence, is now buried in the mass of icons on the screen and in the 48 gigabytes of memory it contains. Ah, I recall fitting a 16 kilobyte memory pack to a ZX-81 and thinking it was amazing.

So many of us are absolutely reliant on the internet. Leg Iron Books could not function without it – the days of high street printers are pretty much gone and the thought of having to cut and paste with real scissors and paste is horrifying. And yet that’s how I wrote my PhD thesis. My mother typed it, on an actual typewriter, I cut and pasted pages together for the retype.

Money, as pretty much everyone knows, no longer exists. Well, you can still (so far) get cash but most of the money circulating in the world is just numbers on a screen with no physical reality at all. If everyone decides to withdraw their money form a bank they will soon find the bank doesn’t really have all that much actual cash. It’s mostly just binary digits.

And to think, these same banks poo-pooh the likes of Bitcoin. Their methods have been the same for years!

On it trundles, the world based on unreality, and it works, sort of. At least for now.

All it will take though is one solar flare, one coronal mass ejection, and it’s all gone. Wiped. Cleaner than a Hillary Clinton email inbox. All evaporated like the dew on a summer morning.

Heck, I was put on restricted access this week by a lightning bolt. To be fair, it was four hours of lightning bolts and a pretty intense blast at the end. It was enough to fry a router and a landline phone. I couldn’t do too much through the mobile phone. I could check and send emails but sending/receiving large documents or image files was a ‘no’.

If that had hit the bank computers I could have been wiped out along with a lot of other people. How could I prove how much money was in those accounts? It didn’t really exist in the first place!

I have been paying a lot of attention to the sun recently. It has three cycles that go from high activity to low and it is now entering what is called a ‘grand solar minimum’ where all three cycles go low at the same time. It’s nothing to get all worried about, it’s happened before. Humanity survived.

It does mean it’s going to get colder. That’s why the Climatologists have rolled out the Unassailable Weapon in the shape of a highly suggestible autistic child. Argue with what she’s been told to tell you and you are attacking an autistic child. I feel sorry for her. Autism does not equal stupid. One day she will realise how she was used and she is going to go through hell. You think the Church of Climatology cares? Once they are done with her they will discard her with not a single look back.

But yeah, it’s getting colder and it will get worse. So the push is on to get as much funding as possible for the pretend science of man made global warming before the lie becomes obvious. Millions will die but hey, the Climatologists will make a load of money so that’s okay with them. It also helps their depopulation agenda which naturally does not include them.

I, and many others, have tried to tell the Church of Climatology what’s really coming but that just makes me a ‘Climate Denier’ which is their new word for ‘Heretic’. I stopped bothering, let the buggers freeze. Anyway it’s too late now, it’s already started and there is not a damn thing humanity can do about it. Light up the fireplace, get the popcorn and watch them shiver while they complain about the heat.

There’s always a silver lining. Low sun activity means a much reduced chance of a solar flare or coronal mass ejection coming our way. It’s never zero, of course, but the odds are in our favour as long as we can keep ice off the wires.

A mass ejection or flare would have to be pointed right at us to have an effect. Well, actually pointed a little bit ahead of us since we’re a moving target. A flare on the opposite side of the sun won’t bother us at all. This means the chance of being hit by one are always reasonably low anyway.

The chance is never zero. Never. Probabilities go up and down but they never hit zero. One day it could happen – in fact it’s safe to say that one day it has to happen. When? Tomorrow? Next month? A decade from now? A century?

There is no way to know. And there isn’t likely to be much, if any, warning. Go to bed rich, wake up a caveman. Go to bed connected to the world, wake up alone and isolated.

As people rely more and more on online comunication, the latter is going to be the hardest to bear, I think.

We really should have a backup plan in case of such an event.

But nobody has.

Extermoonate!

Around 1990, I worked alongside some scientists who studied methane emissions from ruminants, particularly (but not exclusively) cows. I wasn’t directly involved, I was working on probiotics for pigs, but we are talking the same scientific group.

Their aim was to reduce methane emissions from cows, in the name of global warming, because otherwise we’d all be dead by 2000. Must have worked then, eh?

Nope. Not at all. The meddling kept getting funded but the cows farted and belched unhindered. My suggestion of adding a spark plug at either end to burn off emissions and simultaneously create double-ended dragons or self-cooking steaks was scoffed at. No imagination, those scientists.

Besides, the methane and CO2 belched and farted out of cows is as nothing compared to what comes out of mud flats, wetland, bogs, marshes, swamps… and when a subsea methane clathrate collapses, the cows become utterly irrelevant for that whole year. Sometimes you even get to see swamp methane as will-o-the-wisps when a bit of naturally-produced phosphine sets it off. Worrying about cow farts was, and still is, pointless but if you throw money at scientists they will find a way to use it.

To be fair, these days they have to accept funding. Their jobs depend on it. The days of pure research are gone and I count myself lucky to have been part of them. Now, you have to have a commercially viable aim for a project. Research for pure interest, and the inventions that came as byproducts of that, are gone for good.

Well, after a few decades of failing to stop cows farting (plugging the holes just makes them inflate and float away) the only solution left is the one that was obvious all along. In the name of conservation, in the name of ending animal cruelty, the plan is… kill all the cows.

The Amazing Occasional Cortex’s ‘Green New Deal’ is neither green nor new. There have been decades of research into stopping cows farting and belching methane and nothing has worked. Even if it did, all those wild ruminants would fill the void very quickly. So we’d have to kill all of them too.

If we do, their niche will be filled by other species and since most animals produce methane to some extent, and all of them produce CO2, the only way to save life on the planet is to exterminate all life on the planet.

Including insects and microbes. They represent an enormous biomass and they all produce CO2. They all have to go if we are to truly reduce CO2 emissions because shutting a few power plants is going to make no difference at all overall.

Makes sense? Has any of the ‘progressive’ claptrap ever made any sense?

No, it makes no sense. In the 70s we were heading into a global ice age due to rising CO2, then we were heading into a planet with a runaway greenhouse effect like Venus because of rising CO2, now we have ‘climate change’ because of rising CO2 so they can claim a win either way.

And they have an army of acolytes hanging on every word. Believe! Listen to our High Preists with their white coats and hockey sticks! Live as we direct or the Green God will smite thee! The End is Nigh!

I have tried to point out to these people that this is the basis of every major religion on the planet and that they are members of the Church of Climatology. Do they listen? Of course not. Who would willingly deny their own religion?

Now, the Occasional Cortex says we have twelve years to kill all the cows and abandon all technology. All those advances, all those innovations, must be discarded. Yes, she tweets this from an iPhone while drinking Starbucks and checking the time on a posh watch. And to think, people say Americans don’t understand irony.

Is that what happened to those who built the ancient structures we don’t know how to build now? Did they fall for the same scam? Did they abandon their technology because of farting cows and destroy all records of their inventions to make the world a safer place to bang rocks together and collect berries?

There are so many ruins under the Amazon forest that it is becoming clear that it’s not an ancient forest at all. It’s a runaway weed patch. The ‘lungs of the planet’ are not a discrete organ all in one place. It includes that lawn outside your window, the weeds growing in hte cracks in the pavement, the algae around your windows after a wet season. All of it is absorbing CO2 because all of it needs CO2 to live.

We are all to become vegetarian to save the planet by eating its lungs. Isn’t that a fun image? Well it can’t work. Those grasslands the cattle graze on are not used for crops because those areas are only good enough to grow grass. You can’t plough a field when the bedrock is six inches down but grass will grow there and cows will turn that into something you can eat. Vegetarianism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

There will be climate change, there always has been and always will be, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Not a thing. You adapt to it or you die. Nature doesn’t give a damn either way. If the human race is eradicated, another species will take our place. Just like the cows.

If you want to worry about humanity getting wiped out, you’d do better to worry about what’s currently happening between India and Pakistan than worry about half a degree of temperature change or a millimetre rise in sea levels. But hey, if that’s what floats your boat…

This planet has gone through changes that have put cities under the sea and the sea bed at the tops of mountains and humans have never, and will never, have any control over any of it. If the planet decides to have an earthquake or a tsunami or a volcano, the best you can hope for is getting enough warning to get out of the way. You cannot control this.

That is the part that the control freaks really cannot stand. We have absolutely no control over nature. None at all. So they have to pretend we do. They pretend we are ‘causing an ice age’ or ‘causing global warming’ or ‘causing climate change’ because they cannot stand not being in control. I’m surprised they haven’t blamed dinosaur farts for deflecting an asteroid so it crashed into Earth and killed them all.

We really don’t have hat much effect on the planet. Sure, we had cities with smog and some places still do but that’s a local effect. Not a global one. Cleaning up our cities to get rid of the smog is a Good Thing but really, only for ourselves. The planet does not care.

If we managed to get this planet to a state where we cannot live on it any more, nature will not care. It will replace us with species that can live on it in its new state and carry on going around the sun as usual.

Taxation will not affect that one jot. What does the rock we stand on care about our money? What does any other species on the planet care about it? Hell, there are whole populations of humans who don’t care about it.

Going back to living in huts made of dung and working dawn to dusk on subsistence farming is not going to make the slightest difference to climate change. It will only affect our ability to cope with it.

We really are not Gods. We do not control the weather and we have absolutely no control whatsoever over the planet. We are hairless monkeys with fancy toys and smugness and that is it.

The planet doesn’t care if we wipe out our species with our own self-importance. The loss of a species is nothing to Nature.

It can simply make another one.

Endgame

The Amazing Occasional Cortex is the best thing to happen to American politics. Her entertainment value trumps even Trump. I hear the senior Democrats plan to get rid of her ASAP because she’s too dim even for a career in politics. And she’s giving away the game.

She’s also quite pretty when she’s not doing the bulging eyes and catfish mouth thing. Dimmer than a five watt light bulb, even so.

I once bought a five watt (tungsten filament) light bulb when I was a student. I put it in the central light in the room I occupied. I swear the place got darker when I turned it on. The gloom level it gave was most delightful.

Occasional Cortex has rediscovered something science was bilking money for back in the 1990s. An impossible project with just enough hints of vague promise to keep the funds flowing. I wasn’t working on it but I was there.

I’ll try to keep to layman’s terms and not don the lecturer cap here. At that time I had just switched from working with ruminants to working with pigs. It was the time I developed the artificial pig gut so I could experiment without messy animals getting in the way. I still have its final incarnation, it’s in pieces in the garage. I doubt I’ll ever run it again though.

Anyway. A ruminant (cows, sheep, goats etc) has four stomachs. The last of these is a proper stomach like we non-ruminants have. Number 3 is for the lecture hall, I won’t bore you with it here. The first two are usually pretty much combined into one big fermenting bag. It doesn’t digest anything from the animal’s point of view but it digests things animals can’t digest. Namely, grass and other plant materials that would pass straight through us undigested.

They do this because the rumen, that big bag, is loaded with a massive population of bacteria and protozoa. My PhD was on the rumen protozoa, mainly Dasytricha and Isotricha, incidentally. Also, while I was doing my PhD, someone else discovered that the rumen was home to the only anaerobic filamentous fungi known at that time.

Back to the point. The thing about that rumen is that it is almost, (but not quite) totally lacking in oxygen. It is the perfect place for methane-producing bacteria to thrive and they do. Big time. You think you fart a bit of methane? Pfft. If dragons were ever real, they were cows with spark plugs in their noses.

So, in the 1990s, there was much funding available for reducing methane production by cattle. It can’t be done, of course. Mess with that microflora and you’ll show a result but when you stop meddling, it just goes back to its natural balance. Keep meddling and the cow gets sick.

The thing about ruminants is that they don’t have a single essential amino acid requirement in their diet. The bacteria and protozoa in the rumen make them all from grass and the cow digests the bacteria and protozoa later. You can, it is true, feed a cow urine-soaked newspaper and it will survive. Carbon source, nitrogen source, its rumen microbes will produce all it needs. However, it needs that microbial population in balance. If it goes out of kilter the animal can get lactic acidosis or bloat, both of which can be terminal.

I did have some fun back in those days. I had found methane-oxidising bacteria in pig guts. Yes, I was pressured in a most unfriendly way into handing those results to the cow meddlers and I put up just enough resistance to let them think I cared. Pig guts (like human guts) have way more oxygen than a rumen, relatively, but it’s still not much. Those methane oxidisers, which require oxygen, were growing incredibly slowly and having no discernible effect on the pig’s methane production. They had no chance in the rumen but it was fun to watch them try.

Later I ‘leaked’ ammonia oxidising bacteria to the same group. They are real, but again, they aren’t doing much in a low oxygen environment.

The only way to reduce the global production of methane by cows is to… kill all the cows. This is obvious and has been from the beginning. It will make no difference unless you kill all the wildebeest and deer and rhinos and antelopes and moose and reindeer and every other herbivorous animal on the planet. Oh, and you have to drain all swamps and estuarine sediment areas too. But reducing methane was never the point.

It’s incredibly silly anyway. Cows can live on grass, we cannot. Huge areas of land won’t grow anything but grass. Turn them into croplands and without many, many tons of artificial fertlisers they will grow… only grass. You grow meat animals or nothing at all on those lands.

The point was, as Occasional Cortex makes clear to even the dimmest of voters now, to stop you lot eating meat. It was to make you drain away your energies on tofu and beans. That’s going to reduce methane production? Really?

Man made climate change is a load of cobblers. We all know it, even those who promote it know it. If Al Gore really believed it he wouldn’t live in a mansion that lights up like a planetary Christmas tree. None of them really believe it. It’s just part of the plan.

The sun is entering a Maunder minimum and real science has known this was coming all along. They were scared to say anything because denying the ‘man made’ part is a career ender. Even those who tried to warn everyone always qualified it with ‘but man made global warming will continue afterwards’.

No it won’t. Most of you will be dead afterwards. Why do you think they are so keen to move people out of the future nature reserve called Africa and send them North? A Maunder minimum will kill them even faster than it will kill us. People adapted to tropical climates are not going to last long when the glaciers start to roll again.

It’s happening faster than real science expected. Sunspot activity is dropping sooner than expected. You don’t have 20 years before it hits, it’s already started. That polar vortex is just a taste. Hence the panic to move the Plan forward faster now.

So if you have been preparing for a meatless warm future, well good luck to you. I have many years of fishing skills and know how to set a rabbit snare, and how to prepare a rabbit and cure the skin for later use. Oh I haven’t done that for decades but it’s really not hard once you know. I’ve been getting ready for cold, no electricity, no mains water or sewage, and a meat based diet based on what’s likely to be left around here.

The Plan has been no secret for a very long time. This particular ‘conspiracy theory’ has been, quite literally, set in stone and put on on public display. Still, many deny it.

Many poo-poo it even now. However, most of those who scoff are avid fans of Bernie Stalinders and the Occasional Cortex and all the free stuff they promise that will be paid for by someone else. They are listening, not to the voices of reason, but to the voices of madness and disaster.

One of those voices is now telling them the links in the Plan.

I think the Democrats will get rid of her sooner rather than later. But I hope she stays for a long while.

She’s the best laugh I’ve had since the Benny Hill show.


Retirement is official

Well, the lab is empty. It was the last bits today. All the big stuff was out so the car is full of plastic bags stuffed with random bits for the final clearing-up. I am no longer paying rent on a lab I rarely used for the last few years and I won’t be doing any more 60-sample marathons. Ever.

See, with microbial samples you can’t do half one day and half the next. The half you do the next day will have changed. If you freeze them, you kill some species faster than others. If you don’t freeze them, the population will change overnight, even in the fridge. So if you get 60 samples you have to do them all that day.

This often meant working past midnight. In a remote lab, alone. Stuff that. I’ve done it many times and I don’t want to do it anymore.

I’ll still take on consultancy work if any appears but no more late-shift lab work.

With the demise of the lab, I can make my retirement from science official and concentate all my efforts on Leg Iron Books. No more distractions that lead to blunders.

Science is wrecked anyway. When I started it was all about getting new knowledge. Now it’s all about getting new money, and to hell with principles or diligent research. I can’t do that because I’ve never cared about money. I was always a blue-sky researcher and often, those wild experimentations came up with good results.

Nobody seems to care about results any more. The conclusions are pre-written by the funder and if you don’t reach those conclusions you get no more funding. I won’t play that game.

So I am now a publisher full time. Oh, and a seller of second hand lab equipment for a while 😉 I will hang on to some things that will be useful in brewing, of course, but there’s a lot I don’t need to keep.

I appear to have a large stainless steel condenser in my collection. I think I’ll hang on to that…

So, I enter 2019 at the start of a new career that really started in 2016, but which is no longer split by a second career. I am now Leg Iron Books and I have to learn marketing, fast.

Now, at least, I have the time to do it.

Wind Power

No, no, no, I have not made another baked bean Madras. Once was enough for anyone’s lifetime. I have never felt so deflated, nor so totally empty.

This is about the Green God’s Gadgets. Again, no need to worry. I have not grown a straggly beard and had all my arm muscles replaced with lentils and string beans. I am still of the firm opinion that the entire man-made global warming rubbish is a control freak scam and believe me, smokers are currently best placed to spot those. Especially smoking scientists – which is what I am.

However. I am and always have been attracted by the notion of free energy. Okay, yes, it’s never really free. You have to buy the thing that turns sun or wind into electricity and it only works when there is actual sun or wind around. I get that. It’s not just about electricity bills though.

Living way out here, internet is best described as dire. Sometimes teeth-grindingly slow and sometimes it will die out for short random intervals. I have been looking into a 4G connection. That will work if I place the receiver at a certain point at the kitchen window (yes, it’s that bad) but it can work.

It still won’t work if there is no electricity. It doesn’t matter how many phones or tablets or laptops you have fully charged, when the power goes of and the router stops, it all stops. Unless you stand in exactly the right place with your phone. A little restrictive, I think you’ll agree.

Two issues here. Recently, someone drove a truck or tractor into the phone line pole at the end of the drive. Phone and internet were off for a day until it was patched up, and off for another few hours another day while they fixed it properly. A small issue? Yes, but it can happen again.

The phone line passes through trees and trimming back those trees would be a job for a tree surgeon. Get it wrong and you’d bring the line down right now. Ignore it and one day, one of those branches will fall on the line and bring it down. It will happen.

The other issue is the electricity supply. This is prone to random outages. The local distribution transformers are at the top of a hill – safe from flooding but not from lightning. It’s not too frequent but sometimes there is no electricity.

This is a bigger issue for us than for most. Cooking is not a problem, we have a hob powered by gas bottles outside. Heating is a small problem, we have a wood burning stove in the living room and an entire elm tree cut into small bits in the barn, so could huddle up and survive an extended blackout.

The big problem is water. Our supply comes from a well via a pump. The well head supplies the pump tank by gravity but the pump supplies the rest of the house through filtration systems. That has to have power. No power, no water.

I have considered buying a generator. There is an old huge rusty one here which could probably be put in working order but the amount of fuel and oil those things can go through in regular use is horrible. I am still considering one as an emergency backup. It would really only need to run the water pump as the most vital component of the system, so a small one would suffice.

But… could I sustain the pump with a Green God Gadget using 12V batteries and an inverter? It does of course depend on how long I’d have to do it for but it’s possible, at least for a short outage.

I looked into it. Solar is a bit of an issue this far north. When the problems are most likely to arise – winter – the sun peeks over the horizon, says ‘ screw this shit’ and ducks back down again. You can’t charge a little garden solar light in winter here.

How about wind? We get quite a bit of that, being on top of a hill. Well, okay, but it’s not really reliable. On a still cold day after a storm there’s nothing to charge the batteries to run the pump.

Both options are very expensive to install. The Green God might be here to save mankind but he ain’t doing it for free. No sir, he’s an expensive consultant indeed.

Maybe these things will pay for themselves eventually. Maybe not. There’s only one way to find out and it’s risky. What I need is a Scotland-oriented reliable power generator.

Rain. Rivers. Streams. I have never seen a hosepipe ban in Scotland. Water is not short of supply here, it drops out of the sky most days. So, if I get a windmill, put cups on the ends of the blades and dip it in the stream next to the house…. I have something far more reliable than wind power.

What if I install little waterwheels all along every downpipe from the roof? Each one only generates a little bit but if there are 20 or more per downpipe it would add up.

Sun power is sod all use in north Scotland in winter. Scratch that one. Wind power is a bit better but windless days happen – and often when it’s really cold. Water though… there’s a lot of it and it’s always moving. Best of all, you get no energy from the water itself.

Water power is actually gravity power. 20 waterwheels in a downpipe or drain – how much energy does the water lose from one waterwheel to the next?

None. The energy is not coming from the water. The water is a vector. The energy is coming from the gravity pulling the water down, and that is inexhaustible. It does not matter whether you have 10, 20, 100 waterwheels in that downpipe. The last one gets the same driving force as the first one.

The same is true in rivers and streams and our ancestors knew this. They could build one or forty watermills along a river. It made no difference at all. If you were in watermill 40, you saw no difference in river speed from watermill 1. No energy is extracted from the flow of the water because that’s not where the energy is. It’s gravity. Water flowing downhill. It would work the same if it was dry sand flowing downhill. Gravity is the energy that cannot run out.

Nobody seems to care about this. It’s all ‘buy solar panels, buy little windmills’ and they will work some of the time. As I said, here in north Scotland, solar panels work when you don’t need them and wind can be capricious. But the river always flows.

I have a map of this place dated 1768. Both the main river and the stream are on the map and both are still here. Neither have any record of ever drying up. They flow and they flow and a watermill will not slow the energy in that flow by a single joule because it is not the water that is the energy in the flow. It’s gravity. That is the real free energy but the Green God’s Followers don’t want to exploit it. There’s no money in free stuff  😉

So I am wondering. I have candles for lighting, I have all sorts of backup batteries for computers (enough to keep the little ones going at least), I have alternative heating and cooking arrangements, so really I need to power the water pump and possibly a 4G router in a total outage. I don’t really need a big generator.

You know, if it came right down to it, I could bypass that pump and use the gravity-fed water from the well. Unfiltered and risky but better than nothing and boiled, it would be mostly okay.

So. If I get an old car dynamo or alternator from the scrapyard, fit it to a waterwheel with sufficient diameter to ignore the seasonal rise and fall of water level, and dip it in the river, I could have a more reliable bank of backup batteries than anything the Green God’s Gadgets have on offer.

That river is not going to stop flowing tomorrow. The wind might.

Tobacco, the wonder plant

As suggested by Smoking Scot in comments, here is Nisakiman’s elegant idea for a ‘smokers welcome here’ image:

It comes from an idea a long time ago which I seem to recall was started by either Frank Davis or Junican. I’d like to be more specific but I’m afraid I was very, very drunk at the time. I’d actually written two of the stories in the latest Underdog Anthology around that time and entirely forgotten about them… yeah, pretty drunk.

Tobacco is currently villified by the Righteous and their indoctinated dancing clowns of hate but the original inhabitants of America (is that the latest PC term? Please forgive me for not caring) knew a lot more about this plant. They used it for more than just a sly puff at the back of the wigwam sheds.

Modern science has been gradually catching up. Well, the discovery of vitamin B3, Niacin, aka nicotinic acid, and its derivation from nicotine happened a long time ago. There is much more though.

Tipped by Sam in email – Tobacco flowers have a yeast-killer in them.

I had seen this go by on Twitter along with another claim that tobacco may have anti-cancer properties (now there’s a twist, eh?) but no antismoker worth their bile would accept a cancer treatment that came from the tobacco plant, naturally.

This yeast-killing antibiotic (the term is usually used to mean an antibacterial in my world but we’ll let that slide) is vey interesting. It works on Candida albicans, a ‘mostly harmless’ yeast that can still cause thrush and other, not necessarily fatal but really annoying infections. I wonder if it works on other yeast/fungi? Athlete’s foot is really hard to permanently dispose of. Ringworm is an evil fucker and there is speculation (not proof) that seborrhaic dermatitis has a yeast as a causative agent. They are all hard or impossible to cure at  the moment. Should we rub some tobacco flowers on it and see?

The article talks about the ornamental versions of Nicotiana but you know they have to be so, so careful these days. Ornamental tobacco is no use for smoking but as with all these domesticated things it’s a toned down, weaker version of the wild one that has to survive with no watering or plant food or weeding or pest control.

I’m betting real tobacco flowers are way more effective than the domesticated, pampered ones. These plants are quite capable of looking after themselves. In many ways.

Tobacco has multiple medicinal properties. Who knew? Pretty much everyone before the white man’s Puritan horde decided they didn’t like it. Hating tobacco is racist now. There’s one to have fun with.

I look forward to the first tales of antismokers refusing niacin, the new anttfungals and the new anticancer drugs because they come from tobacco. You can watch them suffer and die while watching me not care.

They have no sympathy for me. Expect none in return.