Thursday, 16 January 2014

Who the Fuck is Michael Fallon?

Its been announced today that Michael Fallon is now the Minister for Portsmouth.

Obviously living in the area and working in Portsmouth (not at the dockyard I might add) as well as having links to the yachting fraternity I'm a bit concerned at his appointment.

He seem s to be put into "difficult" political situations in order to calm stormy waters and keep a lid on unpalatable political policies. His previous appointment being at that hot potato, Royal Mail.

So what can we expect from him? Well, I'm pretty sure a bit of political stalling first of all, while the Scots vote on independence.  Once they have made a decision, then the future of Portsmouth will be set.

If the Scots vote to go independent, then Navy shipbuilding will come back to Portsmouth as the only facility able to produce large ships. I expect the politicians to put on a good show, but nothing will happen until the vote. If they did move to close Portsmouth down prematurely, we will have no warship building capability in what's left of the UK and future builds will have to go out to tender across the EU as per EU regulations. I expect no-one in government wants the embarrassment of getting get ships built outside the UK.

Of course while the stalling goes on, ship workers will move away and get jobs elsewhere. The money promised to Portsmouth may go towards creating non-jobs to hold people here or help with the increased benefits bill in order to temporarily hold people in the area.

If the Scots vote to stay in the UK, then Portsmouth is doomed. Strategically important Naval military jobs will be traded for jobs in the retail or hospitality sector.

Michael Fallon is especially well placed for the second option with his links to the city. I'm sure he will be able to guide developers to chose the best pickings for waterfront housing and retail developments. That's where Portsmouth harbour is bound: yet another set of apartment complexes for the privileged few around marinas housing their plastic gin palaces.

Of course all this development threatens the existing status quo for the skint sailor. Harbour fees and changes in policy will push out the small sailor from areas where currently he is welcome.

Its happened in countless cities where such "regeneration" has occurred. Time and time again blue collar jobs have been swept away and replaced by low-paid, low-skill jobs and the areas that supported the blue-collar leisure industry are swept away and fanciefied leaving higher prices in order to cover the cost of the fanciefying, only affordable by the middle-class.

And so the "have" and the "have not" gap increases.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

A "Scandal" That Links Between Climate Change and Floods Isn't Researched?

I don't think so.

This BBC report asserts that Professor Myles Allen from Oxford University says that more should be done to pay him to generate bunkum computer programs which he admits can't assess all the variables, to link climate change to flooding.

Basically, yes, he wants us to pay him money to link flooding to climate change. The admission is there and he'll work damn hard to prove there is a link because he's already pre-empted the results of any research he may undertake.

To me, its a scandal that any money will go to into researching computer models that bear no resemblance to reality and will just reinforce a meme, rather than actually being put directly into improving flood defences where we can be sure that every pound spent will be preventing flooding..

The real reason that so many people are affected by floods that in the past would have hardly been reported by the news, is the building of new housing on flood plains, the lack of maintenance of waterways and the abandonment of common sense by any and all levels of Government.  Well, that and the way news has developed since it became a 24 hour service to dramatise and over hype any phenomenon and portray people as hapless victims, just to try and keep people riveted to their seats for yet another 15 minute segment.

If you look at old properties built in areas likely to flood in the past, you'll see half a dozen steps going up to the front door and an understanding that the living accommodation has to be raised to reduce the risk. I've seen houses built many decades ago near a local harbour that are on stilts to avoid being flooded. Both examples involved common-sense approaches to dealing with living at the waterside. You don't build typical developers shoeboxes at ground level and then moan and bitch that you're flooded. Blame the developers, blame the council for agreeing the plans, but don't blame climate change.

Don't get me started on how every time there's a little flood there are pictures of flooded mobile homes... They're deliberately sited on picturesque river banks which are lovely when the river is low, but ripe for flooding every now and then. If you want to put one of the things at the side of a river, put it on a bloody raft of polystyrene so it floats. To stop it floating away put some piles in and lash it to them. If you want to keep living in the thing, make sure the sewage pipe hinges so it stays connected as the thing rises on the flood. Use flexible fresh water pipes so they to can extend with the rising waters.

As an aside, how much money has the government publicly pledged to help the victims of recent UK floods? How many Millions do you think they would publicly pledge if the flooding was in some foreign country where they can go for a photo-opportunity patting some wide-eyed, fly-covered foreign child on the head once the dysentery and Typhoid have died down?