tonypcollins

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A cosmic indian summer

Is the average temperature on earth higher today than it was a century ago when industrialisation expanded throughout the globe to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population? It is actually not as easy as you might expect to find the answer amongst the plethora of press releases from the climate alarmists. From all the micro data that the climate alarmists are extracting, analysing and dispensing, why is it so hard to find a simple list of actual seasonal temperature recordings over the last one hundred year period in any given location? Instead we get charts of variations of temperature from the norm (although rationalising what ‘the norm’ is and when the norm supposedly happened seems to be just ignored). They provide charts of ‘moving averages over years’ with the years selected to ‘prove’ a trend entirely at the writer’s discretion. And while the internet is absolutely overwhelmed with alarmist headlines, basic, actual temperature data over 100 years, separated by season is very, very hard to find. But I eventually did find one. It was from Britain. Have a look at these actual seasonal temperatures over the last hundred years in the country that birthed and led the industrial revolution and tell me where you see any temperature trends that would alarm you.

So as a brief scan, in Central England in 1912, the year the Titanic sank and the coal miners went on strike, the average winter temperature was 5.36, spring 8.53, summer 17.55 and autumn 10.39.

At the start of the ‘Boomer’ generation in 1948, winter was 5.13, spring 8.75, summer 17.50 and autumn 11.15.

In swinging 1965, the year Gen. X was born, winter was 3.28, spring 8.43, summer 15.71 and autumn 10.40

In 1981 the year the ‘Millennials’ arrived on earth, winter was 4.33, spring 9.17, summer 15.06 and autumn 10.12

And at the dawn of the 21st century winter was 5.35, spring 9.49, summer 16.45 and autumn 11.57.

I could take three summers spread over this period of 2000, 1948 and 1912, draw a connecting line and claim that the climate has since cooled by 1 degree over the century.  I would not do that of course, three points over a 90 year span does not make a valid data base. Yet the alarmists fill the media and internet with no more than micro data snippets to make their claims. So just look over the above 100 year chart as a total group or a random handful and just ask yourself, do these temperatures alarm me? 

According to the best astrophysics information we have, our temperatures are, unsurprisingly, linked with the natural orbit of the earth around the sun, which is a changing environment and by no means a perfect circle as we might have assumed. Milutin Milankovic, a contemporary of other mathematics and physics geniuses Einstein, Minkowski and Tesla, demonstrated the way our solar system works. Milankovic’s calculations remain valid today having been constantly reviewed with all the computing support to which modern astrophysicists have access. 

In brief, there are three cycles contained in the way earth orbits the sun: tilt, precession and elliptic; and the elliptical plane changes quite dramatically every 100,000 years. Not surprisingly, the glaciation of our planet also works on this 100,000 year cycle. 

During a glacial period the planet cools as the heat of the sun moves further away, the air dries out and water levels fall as liquid is transformed to ice. Land bridges start to become available and islands appear where before they were part of the sea bed.

If we just look back 400,000 years we have scientific consensus from both sides of the climate debate on the temperature cycles as per the chart below. And all agree that the cycle started to cool down again about 6,000 years ago. What we don’t have consensus on is ‘where to from here?’ As below, the alarmists little arrows project, with no mathematical base that I can see, that the temperature heads rapidly due north towards a hell on earth scenario. They state that the cooling of the planet over the previous 6,000 years suddenly u-turned just 100 or so years ago when industrialisation, motorised transport, steam ships and smoke belching trains started to take hold around the globe.

They ignore, of course that even today, with a population passing 7.5 billion compared to 2.5 billion in 1950, human generated C02 represents only 3% of total C02 which was confirmed in this EPA document (click to enlarge). 

As a brief history of our climate in this current ‘inter glacial’ period, when the last glacial episode officially ended Canada was still under 2+ kilometres of ice and it was possible to walk across the Bering straight from Eastern Europe to North America. Aborigines could also island hop from South East Asia to Australia as could the Celts cross from Europe to Britain. Our planet had been in that ice age for the previous 100,000 years. Over the first 6,000 years of this inter-glacial phase the ice mountains melted  and the oceans rose dramatically, submerging islands and causeways and possibly even a small continent if the legend of Atlantis has any basis in fact. The sea height has levelled out since then. 

Basing projections on historical patterns, which are linked to the orbit of the earth around the sun, we are in fact right now coming towards the end of a cosmic Indian Summer and we will gradually move back towards a much cooler planet and in about 90,000 years we will again have Canada, Northern Asia and Europe all underneath kilometres of ice sheet.

The reason for the heightened anxiety of the alarmists is that today our scientists are micromanaging data and constantly tweeting bite size doomsday headlines that simply are not supported by the bigger picture trends. The climate works in tens of thousands of years, not in months. The last time humans went through this climate cycle they were blissfully unaware of the fact that there even was a cycle; it was a pleasant and warm time and they probably just enjoyed it; a few hundred generations later the climate was comparatively much colder, but they did not know it was colder because they had no records to analyse; it just was what it was. Too much micro analysis of climate data on a month by month basis is just creating hyper anxiety and panic.

But ‘getting it wrong’ is not the reason I speak up against the climate alarmists. It is because they have the right problem for the wrong reason and that makes them counter productive to solving our environmental challenges. It is because, even as they march on their Friday strikes and fly around the globe in their thousands to attend conferences and draft resolutions, they are just plucking temperature levels and deadlines out of the air about when we may reach the point of no return which target seems to be a  shifting landscape. In 2008 the tipping point was predicted to be 1 August 2016; in 2016, following the Paris Agreement which set 2 degrees as the tipping point, IIASA (science institute) policy brief said we had until to Dec 31 2020 to keep warming under 2 degrees; as that date approaches the 2019 climate summit in September says we can still get under the 2 degree tipping point within 12 years so that takes us out to 2031. Prince Charles is a little more optimistic and thinks we have until 2050. And now there is another big pre Christmas conference in Madrid, delegates from 200 countries, they apparently need to tidy up some details from the 2015 Paris Christmas party, oops I mean conference, and maybe review the next tipping point date.

Fossil fuel over-use is not a problem of climate, it is a problem of health. Instead of talking about the ‘invisible demon’ C02 and the inevitable ‘Mad Max’ scenario, all because of the industrial sins of our forefathers, we need to be talking about investing in better technology to reduce lung-damaging air pollution in our cities. We need new technology to prevent pollution of our farming soils and our waterways that poison our food and water sources. When we get rid of the climate doomsday message and focus on health solutions then we might start making some progress. Right now the climate alarmists are only creating a climate of doom and hopelessness. And that carries the risk of being a self-fulfilling prophesy.

 

References:

1) Vostok ice core: a continuous isotope temperature record over the last climatic cycle (160,00 years): Jouzel, J., C. Lorius, J.R. Petit, C. Genthon, N.I. Barkov, V.M. Kotlyakov, and V.M. Petrov. 1987.

2) Extending the Vostok ice-core record of palaeoclimate to the penultimate glacial period.: Jouzel, J., N.I. Barkov, J.M. Barnola, M. Bender, J. Chappellaz, C. Genthon, V.M. Kotlyakov, V. Lipenkov, C. Lorius, J.R. Petit, D. Raynaud, G. Raisbeck, C. Ritz, T. Sowers, M. Stievenard, F. Yiou, and P. Yiou. 1993.

3) Climatic interpretation of the recently extended Vostok ice records.: Jouzel, J., C. Waelbroeck, B. Malaize, M. Bender, J.R. Petit, M. Stievenard, N.I. Barkov, J.M. Barnola, T. King, V.M. Kotlyakov, V. Lipenkov, C. Lorius, D. Raynaud, C. Ritz, and T. Sowers. 1996.

4) Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica.: Petit, J.R., J. Jouzel, D. Raynaud, N.I. Barkov, J.-M. Barnola, I. Basile, M. Bender, J. Chappellaz, M. Davis, G. Delayque, M. Delmotte, V.M. Kotlyakov, M. Legrand, V.Y. Lipenkov, C. Lorius, L. Pepin, C. Ritz, E. Saltzman, and M. Stievenard. 1999.

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Faith moves mountains (of garbage)

In indignation at the snide disrespect being shown to my generation (via the ‘ok Boomer’ social media catch-cry), I published my previous blog stating at the outset that I did not want to take the bait and fuel the animosity and then I proceeded to swallow the bait whole and throw gasoline on the debate (if you will excuse the awfully clumsy mixing of metaphors) with graphs, pictures and commentary.

In reflection, when my indignation was appeased, I did have to accept that the millennial generation is not too dissimilar to we baby boomers in our youth. They are genuinely frightened of catastrophic pollution and the impact on their generation just as we were equally genuinely frightened of catastrophic nuclear war and the impact on our generation.

Of course we are not the only two generations to have our demons of fear. The generations prior to ours had the terror of another world war or another global depression or another global pandemic like the Spanish flu. And on and on it goes back in time right to about 12,000 years ago when the biblical flood, which is gaining increasing geological support, engulfed the known world and almost entirely wiped out humanity. Fear is the one common challenge that all humans have had to deal with throughout the generations.

We use the phrases ‘love’ and ‘hate’ so loosely that it becomes difficult to sit down and define exactly what we mean when we use them. In practical terms the states of love and hate are rooted in ‘faith’ and ‘fear’. The greater our fear is, the closer we come to this state we refer to as ‘hate’. And on the other side of the coin, the greater our faith is, the closer we come to the state of ‘love’.

When we have a fear of someone or something we move from a state of disliking that thing or person progressively through to a point where we are in terror and that is when we reach the state of hate. At the ultimate point of fear, we are facing our primal demon and we feel absolutely dispirited.

On the reverse side of the coin, when we have faith and trust in a person, an organisation, place or situation we grow in our love for that place, situation, organisation or person. At the peak of our love scale we feel a connection which we describe as spiritual.

The nuclear threat today is no less than it was fifty years ago, so why do we no longer angst so much about it? Why is it not first item on the agenda of every UN meeting, the lead story in all media? Quite simply because we no longer fear it. The threat technically is still as real as it ever was, the President of the USA even recently threatened it, but still we do not fear it. We have, over time, developed moderate to strong faith that no nation would ever use nuclear weapons on another because it would mean mutual destruction. That no one person would ever truly have complete control over a decision to actually launch global nuclear war.

Faith in human ingenuity, human survival instinct, human spirit or in a greater cosmic power that intervenes in the affairs of men all contribute to reducing the state of communal fear and allowing humans to embrace a cooperative and creative approach to global problem solving. For it is this very essential gene unique to homo sapiens that has distinguished us from our close cousins the great apes and the rest of earth’s animal kingdom, to which we fundamentally belong. 

Possibly the most authenticated case of a contemporary near-death experience is that of Anita Moorjani. In February 2006 Anita recovered from an end-of-life coma, during which all her organs were shutting down, and recalled her experience in that state of receiving a message to ‘go back and live your life fearlessly’. Within five weeks her stage 4 cancer had completely vanished. Anita now leads a full, positive and energetic life and appears to have attracted to herself tens of thousands of positive, life-affirming people; Anita has complete faith that all is unfolding as it should. A successful and joyful life is totally dependent on our decisions as to how to relate to others. We cannot help people who are living in a state of fear by joining them in that state. That only feeds the fear and accelerates the path to despair. The only help we can give is to be a living beacon for the other path. The path of faith leading to a state of love of life.

And today, even when ecological fear permeates the environment, there is a beacon of hope; and hope brings faith. A young man who is as fearless and creative as Greta Thunberg is frightened and helpless. His name is Boyan Slat and he was born in 1994, so he is a millennial, but just click here see what this young man has done. He established this “Ocean Cleanup” enterprise when he was just 18 years old and got it started with a $2million crowd funding effort. 

What a pity Greta Thunberg did not talk about Boyan Slat when she got the chance at the UN. Greta Thunberg’s speechwriters, who made such a big point about her sailing to that conference across the ocean as her ‘save the planet’ contribution, did not once promote Boyan Slat’s impressive entrepreneurial work to clean up the ocean that she had just sailed on. On the contrary she proclaimed, on behalf of the millennial generation, that solutions were nowhere in sight. The fear is turning to terror and that path leads to the gates of hell on earth.

Boyan Slat is a beacon offering the alternative path. He offers faith in the survival instinct and creativity of home sapiens to do what homo sapiens have done for 200,000 years. Solve the problem they face, clean up the oceans, clean up the rivers.

Boyan, from an old boomer, ‘I love you, man.’

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You’re ok, boomers

I watched Greta Thunberg, millennial poster child for the climate alarmists, speaking at the United Nations. What anger and venom was in that face and in the words she spoke. And the new darling set the stage by so publicly promoting that she sailed to the UN Conference on a multi million dollar carbon fibre yacht so that she would not make a carbon contribution to the climate. Oh how they cheered, the irony lost on the cheering audience that they had all flown first class to listen to her. And many of them possibly also numbered among the 28,000, the equivalent of 70 jumbo jets, who had travelled to the Poland climate alarmist conference the previous year and also among the 40,000 alarmists who had travelled to the earlier Paris alarmist conference. But they applauded the example that this child showed us by travelling on a yacht that not even the reasonably wealthy boomer, whose ‘wealth’ they despise, could ever hope to afford.

I didn’t really think there was any significant animosity between the elders of the 1950’s and 60’s and the younger generations, but someone certainly is trying to create a lot of animosity. The “Boomers” seem generally to be very happy with the way Gen X have taken up their responsibilities, despite not understanding their music; but the problems appear to be with an ‘alarmist’ sub-category of the millennial generation; these are 18-34 year olds born from the mid 1980’s to the early 2000’s.

I have started noticing how many of these millennial climate alarmists have started referring to my generation most disrespectfully with the dismissive phrase: ‘ok boomers’, which they see as a more clever version of patting granddad on his deluded head (and I use the word ‘clever’ quite incorrectly). We have apparently earned that disrespect because we are accused of being the generation that has left millennials with the unbearable anxiety and stress of having to inherit ‘our mess’. That we Boomers cannot fathom what it is like for these young people to live with such anxiety. I don’t want to take the bait, wade in and fuel the animosity, but we do need to do a bit of a fact check on the charges made by the alarmists against us as boomers. It seems such a silly attack because generations are not fixed date separations. The generational transfer is quite fluid and while there will be evolving cultural footprints exactly when they started and when they ended is very difficult to define. But let us look at a few key trends over the relevant decades:

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Coal burning, one of the big contributors to C02 in the atmosphere, accelerated dramatically in the decade 2000 to 2010, and primarily in China. This was entirely as a result of China becoming an economic ‘powerhouse’, building massive factories to feed the new breed of “superstores”. The economic powerhouses of the boomer generation were Europe and the USA whose coal consumption was comparatively very modest. The boomers were the ’boutique’ generation, millennials have become the ‘superstore’ generation. Boomers repaired appliances, millennials discard and buy new. And the flow on effect are the landfills and oceans clogged with discarded waste.

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Look at the trend in passenger air travel kilometres graph. No sign of the millennial generation trimming down on demand for air travel. Scheduled services have in fact accelerated 80% in just 8 years from 2004 to 2012. Those planes today are not filled with ‘Boomers.’ The Travel industry have their business antennae set for the the millennial market. A report by industry giant by Travelport says young people ages 18 to 34 are most likely to spend more money on vacations than other age groups. An Expedia poll shows also millennials travel the most; 35 days each year to be exact.

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But it is not just the airline industry that the millennials consume with voracious appetites. By 2010 the average boomer was 50-60 years old and had a limited demand for mobile phones and their contribution to mobile phone use is displayed in the left side of the graph attached. Shift along to 2015 – 2018 and just watch the impact on i-phone consumption by the millennials.

Every i-phone is a handful of rare earth elements (as are the mechanisms of wind power generators and electric motors, but that’s another story for another time). Rare earth elements are separated from the rest of the earth by a highly toxic chemical process. The millennials consider mobile phones to be disposable items to be discarded and replaced every time someone tweaks a camera setting in a new model. The very visible and tangible consequence of this vast consumption of mobile devices is, in a word, Baotou. That is a city in Mongolia that has grown to a population from under 100,000 when the boomers were born, to 2.5 million; based on the mining and processing of rare earth elements to satisfy the demands of the millennial consumers.

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One of the many waste pipes creating toxic lakes across China and Mongolia
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Baotou rare earth element mine

While Baotou is one of the major sources today of these rare earth minerals, and China has, up until 2013, supplied 90% of the world supply of REE, as demand has grown massively since 2013 other countries are getting in on the market. India, USA, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Russia and Brazil are all now mining rare earth elements. What started hidden away in ‘out of sight out of mind’ Mongolia and Northern China is now coming to a country near you, and all to satisfy the insatiable demand of the millennials to discard a 12 month old phone for the latest model.

The millennials are also the generation that has brought in the Uber Eats mentality because they do not think they should have to cook their own meals. Paying for cars to drive around and around the block, pouring emissions into the atmosphere so a car is always on hand to pick them up a burger when they feel the whim.

The alarmist millennials are spreading anxiety around the world like a virus all because the temperature has warmed by 0.8 degrees C since 1880 and the seas are rising at 1 – 2 mm pa. The reality is that the planet has been warming annually, and sea levels rising, consistently since the last ice age ended. In fact scientific ice core analysis shows that Antarctica warmed about 20 degrees in the years from 20,000 to 10,000 years ago (while the rest of the planet warmed only 4 degrees over that period), the ice age was coming to its natural end. That was a process of nature and processes of nature extend over tens of thousands of years, not over decades. Of course no alarmist is still reading because the official stance of millennia-controlled media is now to refuse to debate the issue. That decision exposes them as propagandists rather than journalists.

If you want to know how to handle global anxiety, you could do worse than talk to a boomer. We boomers grew up knowing that two men who represented two super powers that lived in constant paranoiac fear of each other, each carried a suitcase around with them everywhere they went in which was a button that could launch enough nuclear rockets to destroy the planet several times over in a matter of hours. When I was 12 we had the Cuba standoff crisis between these two nations that had us all just waiting for the minute that life-ending nuclear war started.

Technology development in the previous generation had introduced nuclear power. Nuclear power was seen as a clean and highly effective alternative to fossil-burning coal power. As indeed it is, in theory. The phallic atomic bomb came as a very unwelcome side product driven by the ambitions of Hitler, just as viagra was initially developed as a medicinal treatment for high blood pressure.

So we protested to our elders in our youth, as youth will do. We were the “Make love not war” generation and when we assumed our own democratic influence on the world we actually did something about the situation and we made the changes. The graph shows the dramatic decline in battle deaths from the 1970’s, the decades of the boomers in control.

And if the alarmists want something else to get concerned about, in the decade when boomers were approaching adulthood, well over ten million people had died from famine. Boomers were the “Live Aid” generation. We cared about the plight of the poor people of the world. The dramatic reduction in death by famine during our watch is demonstrated in the attached graph.

But the millennial alarmists, rather than get on and do something about the state of the world, just want to fly around the globe from one conference junket to the next. And they skulk in the background, grooming their “Gen. Z’ children to demand that their grandparents start doling out their life savings, that they believe is their entitlement, to further feed their indulgences. So if you millennial alarmists just keep playing the blame game as the only contribution to humanity you are capable of, and if the 20/20 Generation do experience what your millennial poster child is predicting, either by natural means or as a result of your out of control consumerism, it won’t be the boomers that Gen. 20/20 will be pointing the finger of shame at, it will be the self indulgence of the millennial generation and the impotence of their alarmist sub category.

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Put the house on it….

So after England beat the All Blacks in the RWC semi final, Chinny, the born again Pom, sent me a text telling me to mortgage the house and put it on England to win the final. Indeed the England win over the All Blacks has resulted in a sudden media and fan driven anointing of the English, having won one game against the All Blacks, as the new world champions. But we heard all that a few weeks ago when the Aussies did the same to us in the first Bledisloe Cup game; in fact their 6-try, 47:26 win against the All Blacks was far more impressive than the English win. Media and fans suddenly proclaimed the Wallabies as the world champions in waiting. That only lasted one week until we took them down 36 nil in the rematch. If there was an England/ NZ re-match this week I would still back NZ to take that game. It is all to do with edge in motivation giving you the physical edge. That edge is always easier to gain as the challenger than to maintain as the incumbent. But what was important was that the Wallabies in Perth and the English in Yokohama actually beat us when they both played what we refer to as the All Blacks game. So exactly what game is that?

Over the period of five years from 2004 to 2009, a World Rugby project of ‘Experimental Law Variations’ examined the whole nature of the game of rugby union. The new ruck/ maul laws that came out from this great experiment might have referred to caring for the health and safety of Rugby’s ’employees’ (in respect of Rugby Associations legal exposure as employers), but also they were designed also to speed up and open up the game to make it more of a TV spectacle to attract new fans and more sponsors. World Rugby effectively converted the game of Rugby Union to being a hybrid Rugby League/ Union game. Rugby Union still doesn’t have the six tackle rule and still maintains genuine scrums but in this new age rugby union game, the basic strategy is to achieve the fast recycling of the ball through off-loads minimum, minimum numbers to clear tackled rucks and cross kick passing, just like League. Backs and forwards merge in roles; backs are expected to compete for possession in rucks and join rolling mauls; locks turn up as first receivers and midfield attack runners; front rowers are sea-gulling out on the wing. The objective is to keep the ball alive; the less time bogged down in set piece play the faster the game. The one little flaw in rugby union’s version of rugby league, let us call it rugby fusion, is that we still have 15 players, not 13 as in League, and so our defensive line gets too clogged up. Still, a few more rule tweaks can no doubt sort that out.

The French have always had a flare for this fusion style of rugby, but only when they could be arsed doing it, otherwise they were equally happy just squeezing opponents’ testicles in the dark depths of a ruck just for laughs. The Aussies sort of got it. I would even put a few bob on the possibility that Cheika was awarded the WR Coach of the year back in 2015 on a promise to deliver Rugby Fusion with the Wallabies. He probably meant well but I  think either Cheika’s heart or head was not really in this new fangled style of rugby. It came together for the team a couple of times but with nowhere near the consistency to keep him in his job. Japan is a team that has embraced the new fusion style of play and lit up the rugby world in the previous RWV with a win over South Africa and again in 2019 coming in top of their pool, beating Ireland, who had recently had world #1 ranking, along the way.

But without question New Zealand have adapted to this new high-speed rugby fusion style of play much better than other countries. At the same time the highly technical laws of scrums, mauls and rucks have become a major source of frustration to traditional fans and players alike. Much of the rest of the rugby world claim New Zealand gets preferential treatment by the refereeing establishment in their implementation of these technical laws, particularly in the scavenging role around rucks. Perhaps there is some truth at times, but if you are the only team that is enthusiastically adopting the new-age game, then those in rugby power who appoint the referees will be well pleased with you and may well be ‘encouraging’ (although they most certainly were not encouraging in the last Lions test).

The key to success in this new rugby fusion is extreme fitness and conditioning combined with high speed ball-skills training. Interesting to note that the ‘ball-in-play’ time today is 50% higher (average 40 minutes a game) than it was in 1987 when RWC began. Over the past ten years, no one embraced this physical challenge like the All Blacks.

England had defiantly stuck to the traditions of rugby; that it was a thug’s sport played by gentlemen, in contrast to football which was a gentleman’s sport played by thugs. But then England ‘got the memo’ when they were thoroughly embarrassed by not making it through the pool stages in the 2015 RWC on their home ground. Eddie Jones was brought in and has spent the past four years coaching traditional rugby union out of the English team and teaching them how to play fusion style. But it has taken him all of those four years to get his team’s fitness and conditioning levels to the point where they could execute this fast-paced style of game for a full 80 minutes. They first really got it right in the pre tournament match against Ireland, then followed up in the quarter final against Australia and then showed they could go back to back in the semi against New Zealand and, on their day, beat the best of the best at fusion rugby.  Now they face the big challenge.

After token efforts to adopt this new age style of rugby, South Africa has returned to the bastion of old school rugby (if they ever really left it) and the question will be asked whether England has the mental and physical conditioning to play one more of those high pace games against the black hole, brute force of South Africa.

This is the game that will put them up against the toughest of the old school rugby exponents; a team that just squeezes the life and joy out of a game in order to get a penalty or drop kick shot at goal. For that is what New Zealand knew they would have to face and for which they were possibly pacing themselves. I do not really think Eddie Jones had ‘pace yourselves’ in his final briefing for the semi final; and that was probably the intensity difference between the two teams on the day. I am far from convinced that the English fitness and conditioning would be at such a level to enable them to repeat their semi final performance against the powerhouse defence of the Springboks. Even the All Blacks have struggled with that challenge over the past season.

But this is much bigger than a question of which team can last it out for the 80 minutes and win fair and square. England with 340,000 players is only marginally behind France as the two standout economic powerhouses of the northern hemisphere. This Finals Match is a battle between old school and fusion style rugby. A battle that World Rugby has a very, very vested interest in. If the very top level rugby required to win world championships reverts back to the old school union that we saw in the Springboks v Wales semi final, then TV and its sponsors will be switching their focus and money on more exciting sporting options like lawn bowls or cars driving around a track 50 or 60 times. South Africa at 650,000 players has almost as many as England and France combined. This is the Helm’s Deep of rugby.

For World Rugby, England adopting Rugby Fusion must be ‘encouraged.’ No one needs South Africa to stomp back to the caves of stone age rugby, golden cup held aloft, fee, fie foh, fen, brimming with the blood of the Englishmen.

If a ‘let the best team win’ outcome was the objective, I would have thought Nigel was the obvious choice for referee of the final, given his bias-free effort in the English-NZL semi final. It was odd that, given no one had a bad word to say about his refereeing, they have given the Final to Jerome. There was plenty to be said about Jerome’s refereeing in the other semi, and not flattering. You remember Jerome? Of the “Oui Jerome?” fame. Come on, you remember, third game of the Lions tour of New Zealand, final minutes, play stopped as officials desperately tried to figure out how to reverse the penalty that Monsieur Poite had already awarded the All Blacks; a series-winning penalty in front of the posts. A gimme. The evidence blatant, from all TV angles; even the offender conceded his moment of madness. But when, heads bowed, the referee, nearside touch judge and the TMO all agreed that the penalty just had to be awarded, unavoidable, a whisper from Jerome away across on the far pitch; an instruction secretly transmitted into the monsieur Poite’s earpiece and out came the game-saver “we ‘ave a deal……occidental offside, no penalty.”  A very creative referee is oui Jerome, just the man for the job and I would not be surprised if this appointment is just reward for that fine call two years ago. “Honest Nigel” apparently could not be appointed because of a sore leg gained during the first half of the semi final game. I didn’t see any sign of a limp, but nonetheless a sore leg wouldn’t stop them putting the world’s most experienced referee in the TMO seat. But the support refereeing jobs have gone to Jerome’s old partner of the Lions third game, Monsieur Poite, and a couple of under cooked NZ referees, both called Ben.

So my pick for the final? South Africa will be penalised out of the game or England will be under penalised into the game, or a combination. Things will be seen or not seen as required. It will be a famous victory for England and will inspire the northern hemisphere into the exciting new era of Rugby Fusion. South Africa will be sent back to sit in their corner and think about things for a while. And although the All Blacks should not need any support from the officials to see off Wales for the consolation prize, they have put our dear old Wayne Barnes in to keep an eye on things.

What forward pass? I didn’t see a forward pass?

You DO remember Barnsey, Cardiff 2007? Now there is a man who knows how to miss a forward pass from three metres away. This time hopefully he is there just to ensure that the other fine exponent of fast open rugby also comfortably sees off the Gatland-coached old schoolers from the valleys. The Taffies can also go away and have a think about themselves.

So I think Chinny could be right. My faith in my corporate conspiracy theory means  it would be well worth a punt to put the house on England to win, unless…………

Hello Mr Jones, I wonder if the team would like a nice cup of tea with some sandwiches for your meeting?

Eddie: “Why thank you Susie, very sweet of you, that would be lovely. Ok lads, grab a cup of tea and sandwich and gather round the whiteboard.”

Now I just KNOW you remember the ’95 final, just sayin’ is all.

Footnote:

South Africa won, convincingly 32:12. Penalties awarded 10 against England 8 against South Africa. I was wrong on two counts: clearly no referee bias in favour of England and South Africa did not take Rugby back to the stone age; they played as openly as anyone could expect in a RWC Final. I recall after the last RWC final in 2015 I wrote my blog pledging to never again raise the issue of referee bias. To be fair, the 3rd Lions test in 2017 did give me good reason to break that pledge, however now let me reaffirm my pledge to abandon my quest to seek out conspiracies and hidden agendas (until the next time). But I cannot leave off the subject without noting in the final a player found himself “accidentally offside” in identical circumstances to the All Black Lions situation and was immediately penalised by Oui Jerome. No hesitation this time, just sayin’….

The only credit I can now take is my claim that without referee ‘encouragement’ I did not think England could get up for another game like they played against the All Blacks; that they might have run the tank too low one game early, which mistiming probably cost us a NZ v RSA final. England fading in the last 20 minutes to concede two excellent tries confirmed that. Still, the All Blacks finished the tournament with a well earned consolation prize; we were given the chance to end as winners and took it. England finished the year as losers. They have to wait months to get another chance for a win. Winning the semi final has been totally eclipsed by their failure to finish the job. Fee fie foe fen….we are off for a braai with our African friends

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Build it and they will change.

That’s the current Dunedin City Council way of doing things.

The DCC 2013 Transport Strategy document sets this Council’s goal that, by 2024, 40% of us will be commuting either by bike, bus or on foot as our main mode of transport (P.30 Strategic Approach-Overview). The $60 million conversion of the Central Business District’s main thoroughfare into a single lane for motor vehicles and a dedicated cycle way to allow a larger pedestrian zone is the next stage to prepare the city infrastructure for this target.

On foot realistically means those residing in the inner city, mainly students plus a few inner city apartment dwellers. Cyclists would primarily be those living on the flat suburbs and connected by the cycleway network from South Dunedin to North and around the harbour. The bus network has the greatest catchment area of all the hill and outer suburbs of the city.

In its planning for future bus transport, the NZTA (which funds the subsidy for buses) commissioned a national survey, published in 2013, on the use of buses and found that, in Dunedin, only 2% used the buses regularly (20 or more days p.a.). 4% uses them occasionally (10-19 days pa.). (click to enlarge).

While the DCC document did not provide a target split between the three non-vehicle modes of transport, buses, having the largest catchment area, would have to account for at least half the target. This would mean increasing regular bus transport from 2% to 20% of residents or, in people terms, from 2500 people to 25,000 people. If those 25,000 people had to be transported from their suburb to the city during the 7:00 – 8:30am peak departure times, with an average 20 minute trip from terminus to CBD, that would require over 200 buses on the road. And again on the afternoon return journey. The good news is that they would be running convenient 10 minute services to achieve that; the bad news is that at any one time there would be 70 buses trying to get into the CBD bus hub which has only ten set-down bays.

Walking is probably the next highest category in the target given the size of the inner city student population. A DCC 2013 survey of residents showed 14% walked to the city as their main mode of transport. That would align with the NZTA national figures and is credible given the student population. However it is unlikely to grow significantly by 2024 without either major growth in student numbers or in apartment development.

So in people numbers the 40% target represents 50,000 residents. 25,0000 would be catching one of the 200 buses to town, 18,000 will be walking, leaving 7,000 to be cycling along the cycleways and presumably looking for 7,000 bike parks within walking distance of their destination.

So as well as 200 buses and 7,000 bikes, the streets would still have to cope with the other 60% of residents in cars as well as delivery vehicles, emergency service vehicles of ambulance, fire and police, people moving around the city in work vehicles and out of town vehicles.

Are the Councillors actually digesting those numbers?

The above DCC artist’s image shows traffic (well actually only one car which is stretching artistic licence) driving one way- north to south down the CBD. So if someone driving from the south needs to get into the Meridian/ Golden Centre or Wall Street carparks what will they do? They will be forced to drive down the one way system to Hanover or Frederick Street and come onto the main street from there to join the north south traffic flow. Traffic will not be halved by changing to a one way street, it will mean the same traffic that currently occupies two lanes will then be driving in the one lane.

If Council’s plan for tightly constricting traffic flow in George street goes ahead at the same time that the hospital build constricts traffic flow on the one way system for 10+ years, then there will inevitably be the sort of traffic gridlock in our small city that would normally be associated with a Jakarta or Mumbai.

The redesign plan for the CBD area is based on having the appropriate infrastructure design in place for when the 2024 vision of 7,000 cyclists and 200 buses arriving into the CBD Bike Park/ Bus Hub, is realised. The Councillors are so convinced that this vision will be realised that they have now endorsed a budgeted $60 Million project to convert our main street to a town plaza. Have the DCC thought this through at all over the past six years of planning and implementation? 

At the very least, the six year old Transport Strategy goals should get an independent, professional performance review, following the significant investment over the past six years in cycle ways and the bus hub, before we commit to another $60 million converting the CBD. We need to know whether the “build it and they will change” policy over these past six years has actually made any significant difference to the actual modes of transport.

We know they want to do their bit to save the planet but, by the time the hospital gets built, half of the car users will probably be driving hybrid or electric cars anyway and the dramatic reduction in carbon exhausts will have been made by advanced technology not by forced reverting to the 1950’s. Civilisation is enhanced by meeting challenges and moving forward not by giving up and going backwards.

Footnote: 19 August 2019 and the official NZTA cycleway statistics are published. The jewel in the cycleway crown, Great King St right through the heart of the university precinct records a zero increase. The Victoria Rd cycleway, the ‘visionary’ concept of linking south Dunedin to the city by cycleway: a 7% decrease. Daily average cycle count last month was 130 from six different counters around the city; that of course does not account for the same cyclist being recorded on two or more of the six counters on the same day. And with all cyclists at least making a return journey, lets be generous and say there are 65 cyclists. NZTA concede that, while ‘not startling”, they are showing gradual growth. If that is acceptable growth after five years, just how low was the start base? They may see an average daily total of 130 from six counters as being acceptable, but that is still a long long way from the 7,000 the DCC strategy is counting on.

For more reading on the subject:

https://tonycollinsblog.com/2016/04/28/3906/

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Where to Miss? To the stars.

The 2017 “Stars in their Eyes” talent show at the Community hall. Who will forget it? The pre-show favourites were Bill, Paula and Steve, “and tonight Mathew we are going to be the Hues Corporation with: ‘Rock the boat, don’t rock the boat baby.'” A very solid, if uninspiring performance.

Then next onstage came ‘the moment’. Grant and Jacinda stage-whispered the immortal words from Titanic to each other of “where to Miss?” “to the stars”  before launching into their tear-inducing rendition of theme song “My heart will go on”. So patiently rehearsed, secretly over months and so movingly presented on the night that an unexpectedly large number of swinging voters, swung, making it a very close contest.

Finally came the drama of Winston’s solo effort of Englebert Humperdinck’s “After the loving” and many of the old dears who had always liked nice Mr English were now swaying their i-phone torches and swinging their knickers and that performance gave Winnie enough votes to allow Rose and Jack to take the “Stars in their eyes” title.

It was an ominous choice of song that Jacinda and Grant chose as it turns out. We forgot that movie ended with an iceberg and a lot of people were made quickly boatless and floating in the freezing Atlantic.

The Clark/ Cullen team had always steered clear of that iceberg; the Key/ English team didn’t even allow it on their radar; even Andrew Little saw it in time to make an emergency turn and avoid collision. But now the Ardern/ Robertson team, with the grinning masks firmly in place, are steering straight back towards it.  Capital gains/ inheritance tax. The hidden iceberg that would sink the ‘New Zealand that we know’ as surely as the unsinkable Titanic.

What is the difference between us and one of the many poverty-stricken 3rd world countries in Africa, South America, Asia or even increasingly in Europe? Answer: It is a dominant middle class. The middle class is the ballast that keeps a country stable.

China has only emerged recently from the 3rd world status, when they only had a labour class and a political elite as their social structure, to the second biggest economy in the world with a political strategy to create the biggest middle class in the world.

But the growth of China’s middle class has been at the cost of middle classes in the west, including New Zealand. Lured by the temptations of retail warehouses full of cheap, disposable consumer goods, we have sold our middle class soul to indulge ourselves.

Only a generation ago Dunedin used to make things, lots of things.  We had Sew Hoys clothing factories; Ellis’ mattress and bedding factory; Zephyr heater factory; McLeods soap factory, Hudsons biscuit factory, Mosgiel wool and yarn mills, Methven taps and plumbing equipment factory, McSkimmings brick factory and even Hillside trains workshop. And we had large head office infrastructures to support these factories. We were far less dependent on the outside world back then; and we had plenty of goods to trade for those that we needed to buy in. Now we don’t. Plain and simple. And that story is not unique to us, it is repeated in every town and city around the country.

That time is gone. We now gorge ourselves on Chinese-made consumer goods and more and more of us are using credit cards to do it. More and more have no earned income, that is income that has created an asset on the other side of the balance sheet. The socio-economic gap is widening; the middle class is shrinking. The middle class is progressively joining the social welfare queue and the pressure on social welfare taxes is forcing more and more off the bottom rung and onto the street. That is evidence we can’t deny.

Jacinda and Grant’s solution is to collect more taxes to pay more social welfare and provide more social services and so a Tax Committee is established to achieve that. That report recommends a Capital Gains and Inheritance tax of 33% be introduced. But history teaches us well that tax webs catch the butterflies and bumblebees but are no more than a minor nuisance to the magpies and hawks. Living outside the legal system or moving wealth into offshore tax havens are the options that the criminals and the wealthy take. The tax webs catch the law-abiding middle classes. And so the economic gap widens ever more. Venezuela here we come.

Venezuela was once the wealthiest country in South America based on its oil industry.

Hugo Chavez

Chavez was a caring, smiling man who spent much of the income from the boom years on social services; he did not invest in maintenance and development of his oil industry infrastructure and in diversifying their economy. So a few decades on, a run-down oil industry infrastructure in combination with a downturn in global oil prices meant his country’s income stream collapsed. When Maduro took over the presidency in 2013 the Venezuelan people were in a deep economic crisis with more and more depending on social welfare. And he responded the only way he could with a collapsing economy; he borrowed to meet increasing social spending, with China being the largest creditor having loaned over $US60 billion over the past decade, according to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Today 90% of Venezuelans are living in poverty; the economy had 80,000% percent hyper inflation in 2018 and there is no way out. Food is at a premium, electricity supply is unreliable, homelessness a norm and people cannot get even the most basic medical help. Nearly three million have left the country as refugees. And it can only get worse. Any bailout will take over ownership of their oil reserves and they will be a slave nation.

It can happen quickly even to wealthy countries and happens under the most well-meaning, but commercially naive, political leaders in charge. Those with smiles on their faces and stardust in their eyes.

New Zealand still has a middle class, but with the massive undermining of  our manufacturing industries, the new middle class will inherit that status from the investments made by the baby boomers during years of full employment. When we had workers, supervisors and managers in a huge range of manufacturing and service businesses. If Jacinda and Grant bring in a Capital Gains and Inheritance tax, that middle class will be decimated in this generation. Family income generating assets will be sold off to meet social welfare demands and down the rabbit hole we go. Within two generations the middle class, the ballast of the nation, will be all but gone. There will be a huge welfare state class and the 1% super rich. Unchartered waters for New Zealand but look around the globe at other countries’ experiences and you see massive poverty, massive civil unrest. No doubt Jacinda and Grant will have hoped to be based in New York by then on some UN gig. Auntie Helen mentored them both into their roles in politics, Auntie Helen knows people at the UN.

There may well be a theoretical rationale for CG&I tax, but any such debate is dependent on timing and circumstances. When a couple or single parent is struggling week to week just to pay the rent, food, electricity and transport costs for the family, there is not point telling them they need to put aside 30% of their income for their retirement in 30 years. Likewise when we have a generation that is already in debt, due to declining infrastructure and inflationary property costs, and is dependent on inheriting capital assets to just maintain the lifestyle of the previous generation, then it is counter productive to talk about 33% of the current market value of those assets being handed over to the state for disbursement to the low/ zero income earners. That just creates a progressively bigger pool of low / zero income earners and a progressively smaller pool of capital investments from which to generate future social welfare and services. The rich get richer, buying up those middle class assets, and the middle class becomes poor. At that point Jacinda has to go to the international loan sharks and, as Venezuela has discovered, that is the end of life as you knew it.

The old socio-economic systems are heading us straight for an iceberg. Rampant consumerism is driving technological advances far beyond our ability to manage the consequences. It is destroying our middle class, destroying our ecology.

Brave new intelligent solutions need to be found and only brave, intelligent leadership can find them. But a CG&I tax is, as the metaphor states, just moving deck chairs on the Titanic. Back to the movie and what happens when the ballast is compromised:

“She can stay afloat with the first four compartments breached but not five. Not five. She goes down by the head, the water will spill over the bulkheads, from one to the next back and back there’s no stopping it.”

“But this ship can’t sink!”

“I assure you, she can. And she will. It is a mathematical certainty.”

Footnote: While the report said ‘full steam ahead, that is no iceberg it’s a mirage’ Jacinda sniffed the wind and decided if she wanted to go back to the ballroom where she was the belle, she had better steer a by-pass course to starboard. Iceberg averted, mirage or not.

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Twinkle, twinkle

The star of Bethlehem is the defining cosmic symbol of the birth of Christianity. The star that attracted the three Magi to travel for several months to bear witness to the birth of the Messiah. The one who would be king of the Jews. This of course made the three magi themselves also an essential part of the birth of Christianity and yet we never hear of them again in the books of the New Testament..

We read in the bible they visited the Court of King Herod on their journey and were instructed to report back to him when they had found this royal baby. We read that after the Magi witnessed the birth they returned to Persia by a different route to avoid Herod; and we read that Herod then issued orders for all Jewish males under the age of two to be slaughtered to ensure the death of this potential threat to his line.

We also read that Mary and Joseph were warned of the threat and departed urgently with their new born for Egypt; and that when Herod died two years later, the family returned to Judea. But after that we read very little about Yeshua (subsequently amended to Ioasus by Greek scholars and later Romanised/Anglicised to Jesus). The only reference during his first thirty years of his life was a time that the family went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. We read from the bible that Yeshua, at age twelve, astounded the Hebrew scholars with his knowledge of scripture; but then we know nothing again of Yeshua’s young adult life until he publicly began his ministry with his baptism at age thirty, quite a mature man by the standard of the day.

He was baptised by John, the son of his mother’s cousin although we also know nothing of their relationship prior to that point. We have no idea where he gained the knowledge that he impressed the scholars with, or where and how he spent the subsequent eighteen years preparing for his mission to gather “the lost sheep of Israel”. His mission appeared directed against the religious hierarchy of Judea who had ‘turned God’s house into a den of thieves’.

What was the wandering star that caused the Magi to set off around 6bc (minor errors in creating the modern Gregorian calendar have demonstrated that the birth of Jesus would not have been at the beginning of 1ad as we assume. King Herod the great, who is also central to the nativity story, is recorded to have died in 4bc.

Computers today enable us to actually back-trace the location of planets and even comets two thousand years ago. An obvious first point to check is whether the star of Bethlehem was Halley’s comet on its regular circuit. But that passed through earth’s sky in 12bc, at least 5 years before the birth. Apart from which, in ancient times, comets were considered forerunners of catastrophe, not the joyful birth of a saviour.

Of interest, the original Aramaic text of the Magi’s explanation is that they had seen Yeshua’ star “in heliacal rising.” This means a star that appears immediately prior to sunrise. The most significant planetary observation is the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn which make an exceptionally bright ‘star’. This alignment randomly appears in different constellations each time but when it occurs in the constellation of Pisces it is recognised as the Star of David.

It was Johannes Kepler, the father of modern astronomy, who had studied the writings of a medieval Jewish scholar, Rabbi Abarbonel, and discovered the significance to the Jewish people of the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which together shine like a superstar, in the constellation of Pisces. This alignment was regarded as the ‘star of David’. Kepler also calculated that during 6-7 bc this alignment of Jupiter and Saturn made the rare appearance in Pisces and was in fact a triple conjunction, occurring three times in the period. This has been confirmed by modern computer-generated calculations as occurring in 6bc on May 22, October 8 and December 2 with the heliacal rising of Jupiter in the dawn sky. This is a very plausible source of the legend that a king to restore the line of David would be signalled by this ‘star of David’ appearing. With such a favourable birth star in Jewish beliefs, Yeshua was well worth a lifetime of training by the leaders of Persia to become a future leader of Judea and Israel.

So the Magi were literally looking for the Jewish baby boy born under the star of David. This would certainly spark the interest of Magi given such a rare conjunction and even more so spark the alarm of the current King of Judea, Herod. Triple conjunctions are rare, the next after 6bc was 786ad, and the next after that in 1583. A triple conjunction in Pisces, the Star of David, is even more rare. It should also be noted that this time was also when the vernal equinox was moving from the age of Aries into the age of Pisces, the fish. This is notable with the significance of the symbol of the fish in Christianity. The last 2,000 years with the vernal equinox in Pisces has certainly been the age of Christianity. The Spring equinox is now changing to the age of Aquarius.

So what then became of the three Magi? The Magi were the astronomer-priests from Persia, adherents of the religion founded by a Persian astrologer/ philosopher named Zarathustra.  It seems peculiar that three foreigners who followed the religion of Zarathustra, an opposing religion to Judaism, would be summoned by the Jewish God, Yahweh to witness the birth of Yeshua for no other reason than to bring gifts and then depart. But yet  the Bible speaks no more of them. There is a reference in an excerpt from a medieval saints calendar printed in Cologne which read, “Having undergone many trials and fatigues for the Gospel, the three wise men met at Sewa (Sebaste in Armenia) in A.D. 54 to celebrate the feast of Christmas. Thereupon, after the celebration of Mass, they died: St. Melchior on Jan. 1, aged 116; St. Balthasar on Jan. 6, aged 112; and St. Caspar on Jan. 11, aged 109.” The Roman Martyrology also lists these dates as the Magi’s respective feast days.

So did the Magi play a real part in the mission of Yeshua throughout his life? Did they continue a role in his education after his birth and the family’s return from Egypt? Did Yeshua live with them in Persia to prepare for his mission? And did they see his mission as purely spiritual to bring Zoroastrianism to Israel or as the cosmically anointed inheritor of the kingship of David to restore the sovereignty of Israel as a defence against Rome?

Rome was a serious enemy to Persian Empire and Judea was right on their western border; it was earlier ruled by Persia before Alexander the Great conquered them. So it was certainly in the Persians’ political interest to have an allied, independent Judea between them and Rome. Whatever you think of this theory, clearly the Roman governor of the time and his Jewish religious puppets took the possibility seriously.

It raises the question about just how much influence the Persian magi had on the politics of Judea and whether they were continually working towards the eventual 66AD great uprising of religious zealots in Galilee and Judea when the Romans were actually finally driven out of the region. If so it was a short-lived victory as Rome returned with a vengeance in 70AD and the Jews were driven from the land which was given to the Philistines.

Incidentally the next great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be in November/ December 2020. I can’t wait, but this one will be in Capricorn, not Pisces so don’t expect a descendant of David to appear in Israel.

That is earth on the left of the sun with Mars behind us. Top of picture the giants Saturn and Jupiter (father and son in Greek mythology) one behind the other in direct line with the sun, forming a superstar.

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