Quote of the Week
“We can only speculate about how much more embedded public knowledge of the EU’s benefits would be today if she (Thatcher) and other leading politicians had explained rather than obfuscated; if the basics had been taught in schools and reported honestly in the media. … Instead, the public has remained largely uninformed about the economic advantages of the EU and its ‘frictionless’ single market, for which Thatcher herself pushed so hard.”– David Conn, in The Guardian, 4 Feb.
Given that Nissan chose to locate in Britain for reasons most strongly connected with these islands as gateways to both the European and US markets, Conn points out that Thatcher could have opened the new Sunderland Nissan plant in 1986 with a speech about those opportunities. Instead, she chose characteristically to spin the massive Japanese investment purely as a vote of confidence in good old British know-how.
And many of those who voted Leave still believe in her John Bull-shit, even as they see their jobs vanishing in a puff of good old British smoke; while the Brexit politicians scramble to accuse the EU of treachery, having agreed a tariff-free trade deal on car imports from… Japan, just as we were leaving.
The BogPo consoles itself with the thought that continuing car manufacturing at all in the face of climate disaster is a Thoroughly Bad Thing. If the (entirely foreign-owned) car industry in the UK relocates abroad post-Brexit, we can say, hand on heart, we did our bit to save Humanity.
Just gettin’ it on
“Winter has arrived with savage consequences for digital publishers, including BuzzFeed. In the space of two weeks, about 2,100 jobs have been lost across the media, with many disappearing from purely digital publishers. BuzzFeed’s layoffs amounted to 15% of its total staff, a loss of around 220 jobs across all departments, including in its widely admired New York newsroom.” (Guardian report)
I got a bit confused, the first time I searched for Buzzfeed, to be confronted with a page of the usual garbage ‘Daily Mail’-type stories about Z-list celebs and shows I’d never heard of, recipes, weather reports and clickbait for Harry Potter fans, only without bikinis.
The layout looked like amateur night at the Krazy Kidz Kut’n’Paste emporium, but I guess they must have focus-grouped it, gettin’ down wiv da ‘hood, and all that.
I’d heard they were a really hot breaking news site. There are a couple of newsish stories today, some predictable stuff on Brexit, something about the Duchess of Markle. Since my first shock exposure, I’ve relied on other media quoting Buzzfeed news, a service I never managed to find. They seem well respected in the business.
However, the business is fast disappearing.
“…the past decade has been catastrophic. Between 2008 and 2017, the number of newsroom jobs in US newspapers dropped by 45%, to 39,000, and all US newsroom jobs, including TV and radio, declined by 23% overall.”
The reason seems to be twofold.
One, viewers and readers are tuning to their mates on Instagram as more reliable sources of information, believing in Trump’s truth, that the conventional mainstream media are fake news.
(It seems to your Old Uncle that the media at least tries to represent the truth, while it’s life that’s increasingly fake.)
And no publisher has been able to find a business model that doesn’t involve driving prospective readers headlong into a paywall, forcing people to look at irrelevant ads by pinning their eyes open with digital safety pins, spattering cookies and legal spyware over your computer, or conning readers with low-cost subscription offers they can’t cancel when the price shoots up.
Where your Uncle Bogler feels there is a disconnect in online journalism, is between the urge to inform a loyal readership of their views, and the site owners’ futile desire to make huge profits. Falling between the two, is the natural hope of the hacks to be paid for their time and trouble.
And you can never tell in this business, what might suddenly go wrong. The drink-drive conviction and divorce trials of inexplicably popular presenter Ant McPartlin and his voluntary incarceration in rehab were said to have cost ITV £1.3 Billion in lost share value last year. Ad revenues continue to fall, as the uncertainties of Brexit seems to have affected companies’ marketing budgets.
I’d go further into that, were it not for the annoying paywall Campaign magazine hides behind. I’m not going to subscribe for a year just to read the lead paragraph of only one article, as I have no interest in the rest. Can’t they understand that, and just allow superficial researchers a peep?
(The New Yorker magazine has quite a successful policy of allowing people who receive their daily email digest for free, to view four actual articles a month. Then they bombard you day and night with special subscription offers.)
All I can say is, bad luck. The Boglington Post, with its lately rather silent sister bogl, The Pumpkin, remains rock solid on a readership now averaging 4 a day, and has no plans to downscale. Our own business model is very simple:
Keep on ’til the fun stops. Don’t stop ’til you get it on. Etc.
Taking a chance on love
In the wake of the 69-year-old Dutchman who lost a court case to have 20 years knocked off his life because he felt discriminated against on dating sites, comes a report that a “27-year-old Indian man plans to sue his parents for giving birth to him without his consent.”
“Mumbai businessman Raphael Samuel told the BBC that it’s wrong to bring children into the world because they then have to put up with lifelong suffering. … In a statement, his mother Kavita Karnad Samuel explained: ‘I must admire my son’s temerity to want to take his parents to court knowing both of us are lawyers. And if Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault.'” (BBC News, 7 Sept.)
I personally concluded today, my mother allegedly having politely told my grandfather where to shove the money he was offering her to pay to have me aborted, that if we are indeed witnessing the final extinction of the human race, it is surely a unique privilege to be here at such a time.
Don’t you think?
(Guitar bore alert)
Although I know several hundred chords and more, almost 60 years having passed since I was gifted my first guitar by my Granny, I am probably the world’s worst soloist.
Despite doggedly practising scales, which is supposed to familiarise you with the intervals and ensure correct note selection within the appropriate key, I cannot play a melody one note at a time to save my life.
It is indeed the reason that, after a disastrously embarrassing school gig, I gave up the guitar for 45 years. Having two wives in quick succession was another.
Jazz musicians smile indulgently. As long as you manage eventually to resolve to the right note in the scale of the key you’re supposedly playing in, they tell me, there are no “wrong notes” you can play in jazz.
Oh, yes there are! I seem to find them all.
Anyway, I wanted to Post briefly about this theory I have, before somebody else discovers it.
As you problee kno’, the standard “open” tuning of a guitar from the top or first string is “E-A-D-G-B-E” (the string nearest your face is the ‘top’ or ‘first’ string of six, although it is the lowest note – bear with me).
The sharp-eyed among you will observe, G and B are only three whole tones – five frets – apart, while the other strings are each four tones – but still five frets – distant from their neighbours. It’s probably this more than anything that confuses me, as I am insanely logical and it isn’t. (Okay, there’s a good reason, if I could only remember what it is. Something to do with the notes B and C, and E and F, each being only half a tone interval (one fret) apart.)
Who knew so much math would be involved in learning music? And when it comes to augmented and diminished 9ths and 13ths and slash-chords and suspended (rootless) 4th chords, you need calculus and an extra finger or two on your left hand. I never got that far with our dreadful math supply teacher, gropy-hands Mr Nazeer.)
Anyway, some reckless folk, especially folk musicians, will lower the top E, i.e. the lowest note, to a D; i.e., two frets, or one whole tone down. This makes playing in the keys of G or D, favorite folky keys, easier and gives you a gutsy bottom note to resolve to in the bass that’s in your key; whereas the ‘E’ wouldn’t be.
A few hardier people even follow the great French-Algerian player, Pierre Bensusan, who leads what is known as the “DADGAD” movement, tuning to those strange open notes. I guess you’d have to be pretty fly to play in any keys other than D and G, although he manages rather well. It’s quite a different sound.
We’ll ignore any similar cranks reading this.
Now, the standard tuning seems to suit pop, rock and folk players well, as their music tends to be written in the major keys of E, A, D and G, and those are predominantly the unfretted, open strings. So if like me you are hideously inaccurate at melody, you have fallbacks available that don’t sound crap.
Jazz songs, on the other hand, possibly to keep horn and woodwind players happy, tend to be written in the major keys of F, Bb, Eb, Ab and C, often played (for that distinctive jazzy sound) as chords with the addition of the dominant 7th or the flattened 5th note (the “blue note”).
And quite by chance, those would be the open strings if you raised your tuning by a half-note, or one fret, and didn’t want to play too many wrong notes when soloing. For, as if by divine intention you would end up with open strings tuned to F-Bb-Eb-Ab-C and F!
For that reason, to humor my very own loony-tuning theory, rather than risk actually retuning all the strings, I have just bought my lovely new Lowden guitar a present: a spring-loaded, bar-type device known as a “capo” (short for Italian “capo d’astro, or capotasto”), hailing originally from C18th Spain (when it was known as a “cejuelo” and was made of wood), being used to raise the open-string tuning to whatever higher pitch you need.
And because my li’l Lowden was so ridiculously expensive, I reasoned – being insanely logical, you understand – nothing less than a 24k gold-plated capo from a brilliant British company called G7th would do, the cleverest and most ergonomic design going, costing over £40 incl. postage.
What am I like? I can barely play the thing!
Occasionally, you may encounter a guitarmaker whose products make you wet your pants. One such is Theo Sharpach. http://www.scharpach.com/archtop/
I have no idea how much his instruments will set you back, even if you could get your hands on one*. Just win the lottery, okay? Some of the tonewoods he uses are 500 years old.
*The Vienna is $30,000. Or was, four years ago. It’s ‘on application’.
“A further rise in global temperatures would be enhanced by amplifying feedbacks from land and oceans, including exposure of water surfaces following sea ice melting, reduction of CO₂ concentration in water, release of methane and fires. Climate change trajectories would be highly irregular as a result of stadial events affected by flow of ice melt water into the oceans. Whereas similar temperature fluctuations and stadial events occurred during past interglacial periods (Cortese et al. 2007) when temperature fluctuations were close to ~1°C, further rises in temperature in future would enhance the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, entering uncharted territory unlike any recorded during the Pleistocene, rendering large parts of the continents uninhabitable.”
- Professor Andrew Glikson, Earth and Paleo-climate science, Australia National University (ANU) School of Anthropology and Archaeology; ANU Planetary Science Institute, ANU Climate Change Institute, Honorary Associate Professor, Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence, University of Queensland. For longer (very technical) report, see Arctic News, 30 Jan.
GW: the climes, they are a’ changin’
USA: A dipolar system with a remarkable temperature gradient is forming across the North American landmass as I write. According to Severe-weather.eu: “a surface cyclone (Winter Storm Lucian) will move across the Great Plains and will result in extremely powerful warm advection across the central Plains and later over the eastern half of CONUS. Looking over the Thursday map, we can see the temperature anomaly ahead of the cyclone will be more than 20°C above normal, while the airmass behind the system will be more than 20°C colder than average for early February! Very intense winds/jet stream will form in between and also support some severe weather further south along the surface front.”
During the horrendous Polar Vortex incident, “more than 30 record lows were broken across the Midwest. Cotton, Minnesota, was the coldest place in the US on Thursday (31 Jan.) with a low of -48C (-56F) based on preliminary data. (That ain’t windchill, neither.) At -21F, with a windchill of around -51F (-46C) Chicago passed the record low for 31 Jan., while Mount Carroll has probably beaten the Illinois record with a morning temperature of -39C (-38F, or 70F below freezing).” (BBC Weather)
The good news is, it has been colder in the midwest before. More cold records were set in 1994 than have been set this winter. And record warmth has been noted on the East Coast. (Jeff Masters, Wunderground)
Alarmingly, a “nuclear plant in southern New Jersey was shut down early Thursday after intake screens froze over, restricting the flow of water needed to cool the reactor. A second unit at the station on the Delaware river was powered down because of the same problem.” (Fortune)
US Update: So now, it’s Monday 4 Feb, and it’s back up to 60F (17C) degrees in Washington DC, in February, with a forecast of 70F, 21C by Thursday; temperatures in the southeast heading for the high 70s; while California is being hammered by a second major storm in a week. The town of Paradise, incinerated in the Camp Fire last year, is under a flash-flood watch and 7 feet of snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada mountains, with more forecast. (NBC)
By contrast, Boston has had record low-snow, only 2.3 inches, New York likewise, while Caribou, Maine, recorded its snowiest January on record and has tallied 112.5 inches (9’4″) of snow through Feb. 4, almost 50 inches above average. (The Weather Channel)
And: Phil, the Punxutawney, Pa. groundhog is predicting an early spring. Just so you know.
Middle East: “Flooding affected northern and western parts of Saudi Arabia between 27 and 29 Jan. Civil Defence reported dozens of rescues and later that 12 people had died. A total of 271 people had been rescued across the country and 137 evacuated. On 28 Jan, more than 50 homes in Iraq’s Najaf province were swept away by a severe flash flood. Iran’s Red Crescent Society provided emergency shelter for 800 people after heavy rain in southern and western provinces triggered massive floods from 27 January. A total of around 1,400 people were affected” across 4 provinces. (Floodlist).
North Africa: For a second year running, the Arctic was considerably warmer in early February than Morocco:
“Surface air temperatures near Svalbard were as high as 5.2°C or 41.4°F on Feb 3, 2019. At the same time, it was -3.5°C or 25.6°F in Africa. The contrast was even more profound on Feb 4, 2018, when at those same spots it was as cold as -10°C or 13.9°F in Africa, while at the same time it was 5.8C or 42.4°F near Svalbard.” (Arctic-news.blogspot.com)
Australia: “heavy rain has continued to fall in North Queensland, with flooding affecting areas around Townsville from 30 January, 2019. (Townsville received more than a meter (3.3ft) of rain in just a week. That is more than 20 times the average for the time of year – beating the previous record set in 1998, in what became known as the Night of Noah.) (BBC) A few days earlier, wide areas of the north of the state recorded more than 500mm in 48 hours, causing the Daintree River to reach record levels.” (Floodlist)
Update, 5 Feb: the bodies of 2 men thought to have been engaged in a breaking and entering were recovered from a storm drain in Townsville, Monday (4 Feb). Bluewater Creek had 340mm of rain overnight, bringing the week’s drenching up to a record 1.8 meters. Floodwaters are beginning to recede.
“Tasmania recorded its driest January on record, with maximum temperatures an astonishing 3.22C above the long-term average for the month.” Unique on earth, the island’s primeval “Gondwana” pine forests are threatened by more than 40wildfires caused by a great increase in ‘dry-lightning’ strikes, that are burning uncontrolled over 190,000 Ha – 3% of the total land area.
Meanwhile, “A week-long heatwave has floored New Zealand, breaking temperature records across the country. “Hanmer Forest in north Canterbury has hit a record-breaking 38.4C – the warmest it’s been since records began in 1906. (Newshub). Temperatures have soared above 37C (98.6F) in parts of the South Island” And it’s forecast to get hotter. 1 person is known to have died from hypothermia; sea-surface temperatures around the islands are up to 6C above normal. (Guardian)
Indonesia: “Heavy rain in the northern part of Bali triggered a landslide on 29 Jan., killing 4 people. 16 people were injured and required medical attention.” (Floodlist).
Thailand: The Ministry of Education has ordered all schools in Bangkok and some surrounding provinces to close for the remainder of the week amid concerns over dangerous levels of air pollution. Bangkok’s air quality has fallen to harmful levels with the quantity of unsafe dust particles — known as PM2.5 — exceeding what is considered safe in 41 areas around the capital. (CNN)
S. America: floods in Chile affected families and homes in Arica. Around 25,000 were left without electricity. As of 01 Feb, one person was missing, 20 families have been evacuated and 151 people were staying in shelters. Roads, including routes from Arica to Sora and Chapisca, have been cut. Chile has been experiencing a 40C-plus heatwave. Flooding in southern Peru caused a hotel to collapse. (from Floodlist)
Cuba: the death toll from the F3/F4 tornado, the strongest on record to hit Havana, has risen to 6. 2,500 properties were destroyed. The January 27 tornado was followed by a meteorite that landed in western Cuba near the town of Viñales on Friday, Feb. 1. Residents reported windows shattering, and the meteorite was detectable on both satellite and radar. (Wunderground)
Europe: Extremely warm weather is returning to south-central Europe and the Balkans this week, pushing the cold air down over North Africa. It’s been an active start to the tornado season in the Med, with 61 reported in January, including the big one that hit Antalya in Turkey, causing multiple casualties. The south of Italy is in for a period of persistent, excessive rainfall. Thunderstorms will develop along a virtually stationary frontal boundary across central Mediterranean, stretching from Crete into southern Italy. “Torrential” rainfall is forecast for Greece, up to 250mm overnight 5/6 Feb. (Severe-weather.eu))
Flash floods: Others hit Campinas, Brazil; Cordoba, Spain; Jerusalem, Israel; Makassar, Indonesia – all in the last week of January. (Strange Times website).
Antarctica: a hole 2/3rds the size of Manhattan has been discovered under the Thwaites glacier. 14 billion tonnes of ice is thought to have melted out in only the last three years.
Yellowstone: Normally placid Steamboat geyser has erupted for the fourth time this year, keeping up roughly a weekly schedule. See Posts, Passim. The Blessed Mary Greeley is reporting unusual double-signature seismographic patterns of ground uplift around the Yellowstone lake; while the continuous webcam at the geyser basin has been taken offline.
Climate change: Bringing it home to the British consumer
“Consumers are seeing smaller chips as a result of last year’s drought and extreme heat. Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets, said: ‘They’re 3cm shorter on average in the UK. Smaller potatoes means smaller chips.'” (Guardian)
Taken with rapidly vanishig fish stocks, it’s an existential concern, alright.
We’ve ‘had our chips’!
Trevor, a Mallard drake and internet celebrity said to be the world’s loneliest duck, has died – presumed killed by dogs on the Pacific island of Niue, a New Zealand protectorate.
Stranded by a storm two years ago, Trevor had lived in a puddle by the side of a dirt road, which was being surreptitiously topped up by the local fire brigade as there is no natural reserve of fresh water on the island.
He was named Trevor, after New Zealand’s parliamentary speaker, coincidentally named Trevor Mallard.
“Deepest sympathy to the people of Niue from the parliament of New Zealand,” Mallard posted on social media on Monday.
Niue’s chamber of commerce chief added, Trevor’s death would be a loss for the nation. “He captured many hearts and even the rooster, the chicken and the weka were looking a little forlorn today wandering around near the dry puddle,”
(Report: Guardian Green Light)
The BogPo – an Appeal:
Can anyone explain to your old Uncle why it is that Twitter photos no longer appear as uploads embedded in stories on news websites? The text is there, but the picture areas are now blank. This has started happening only in the past fortnight. The BogPo doesn’t have a Twitter account and so never opened the files, but they were at least visible – now not. Why?