Mr Verybigliar: (Michael Palin) Well there is a considerable financial advantage in using the services of El Mystico. A block, like Mystico Point here, (indicating a high-rise block behind him) would normally cost in the region of one-and-a-half million pounds. This was put up for five pounds and thirty bob for Janet.
Voice Over: But the obvious question is are they safe?
(Cut to an architect’s office. The architect at his desk. Behind him on the wall are framed photos of various collapsed buildings. He is a well-dressed authoritative person.)
SUPERIMPOSED CAPTION: ‘MR CLEMENT ONAN, ARCHITECT TO THE COUNCIL’
Architect (Graham Chapman): Of course they’re safe. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. They are as strong, solid and as safe as any other building method in this country provided of course people believe in them.
In a study of eighty-nine countries, the economists Mark Skidmore and Hideki Toya, after controlling for every variable they could think of, found that countries that suffered more climatic disasters actually grew faster and were more productive. This seems bizarre: it’s close to the broken-windows fallacy identified by the nineteenth-century economist Frédéric Bastiat—the idea that breaking windows is economically useful, because it makes work for glaziers. But Skidmore and Toya argue that disaster-stricken economies don’t simply replace broken windows, as it were; they upgrade infrastructure and technology, and shift investment away from older, less productive industries. (After the Kobe quake, the city’s plastic-shoe factories never returned.) In Horwich’s somewhat ruthless phrase, disasters can function as a form of “accelerated depreciation.” Something similar often happens on the level of the individual consumer: homeowners rebuilding after a disaster take the opportunity to upgrade, a phenomenon known as “the Jacuzzi effect.” In ordinary times, inertia keeps old technologies in place; it may be easier to make dramatic changes when you have to start from scratch.
But note the double-bind argument also at work here as it was among those like Krugman who reflexively urged bigger and bigger FDR-style “stimulus” projects upon President Obama: if you’re as obsessed with global warming as the average leftist, isn’t “the jacuzzi effect,” not to mention the much larger components of this rebuilding effort bad for the environment, since it encourages additional electrical use and increases a homeowners’ carbon footprint?
Arguably, Keynes’ most famous bon not these days is that “In the long run we are all dead” — something that Japan knows first-hand considering its demographic woes, and Europe’s economy isn’t far behind, Robert Samuelson writes at Real Clear Politics, advising us to “Pray for Japan, Worry for Europe:”
Europe has arrived at this dismal juncture driven by three forces: (a) large welfare states that were too often financed with debt; (b) the financial crisis that led to recession and has pushed some countries (Ireland, Spain) to aid their banks; (c) the perverse side effects of the single currency, the euro.
The euro’s role is especially ironic. Adopted in 1999 — and now used by 17 nations — the euro was intended to promote prosperity and political unity. Countries could enjoy similarly low interest rates and the convenience of common money. It seemed to work for a while. But low interest rates in Greece, Spain and Ireland encouraged unsustainable booms or housing bubbles that, when burst, aggravated their recessions and budget deficits. Now unity has turned to discord. Countries that back the debt bailout — particularly Germany — resent the possible costs; countries being bailed out resent the harsh austerity that’s imposed as a condition of aid.
There is a fragile debtor-creditor consensus that could crumble, posing yet another danger to economic recovery. Already, unemployment rates in Greece and Ireland hover around 13 percent. How much budget stringency (spending cuts, tax increases) will countries accept before social unrest or national pride cause politicians to say “enough”? Even European countries not facing an immediate debt problem need to reduce budget deficits to retain market confidence. All confront a common dilemma. Too much austerity too quickly could create a recession, widening deficits. Too little austerity too slowly could unnerve investors, raising interest rates and deficits.
It’s understandable that the human suffering, physical destruction and nuclear hazards in Japan compel our attention. But we ought to remember that a greater menace to global stability and prosperity lies halfway around the world.
And caused by a similar conjunction as Japan’s fiscal woes: decades of Keynesian welfare state spending on steroids, ultimately combined with a graying and shrinking population.
Profiles from the future of litigation: “The following memo was unearthed as part of the litigation, now entering its 50th year, over the Great Japan Nuclear Incident of 2011. Addressed to General Electric’s then-CEO Jeff Immelt, the memo appears to have been drafted by an executive in the company’s office of strategy:”
None of us at GE needs to be reminded that there is no natural “private” market for nuclear reactors. All our customers are governments, government-owned companies, or nominally private companies regulated by government. In the U.S., demand for reactors depends on the availability of federal loan guarantees and the Price-Anderson nuclear indemnity law (private insurance being unavailable for nuclear reactors).
Politics thus being the mother’s milk of the nuclear business, GE’s Institute of Ecomagination (aka our Washington lobbying shop) highlights a disturbing new correlation: Whenever President Obama endorses an energy option, disaster promptly ensues. His ringing support of expanded offshore drilling came just weeks before the BP oil spill. The Japanese reactor mess followed not long after he lauded nuclear energy as a weapon to fight global warming.
On the site Politico.com, George Mason University political scientist Jeremy Mayer recently opined: “I don’t think Obama’s cursed on energy policy, but this is a string of bad luck.”
We disagree. Though on the advice of PR we’ve stopped referring to it as the “Obama Black Swan Effect,” this powerful yet mysterious indicator is too important to ignore. Accordingly, this office recommends a new corporate strategy: Whatever Mr. Obama says, GE should do the opposite, starting with investing in coal-burning power-plants and health care reprivatization.
This, of course, would represent a 180-degree reversal of current GE strategy, informally known around headquarters as the “jump how high?” strategy. This office nevertheless believes the evidence warrants such a change in direction.
As always, whatever Obama recommends, bet on the opposite. As I wrote in December:
Then: Joe Biden seen as example of Seinfeldian opposite theory, akin to George Costanza in the New York Yankees’ front office, a comparatively plodding backbencher tapped to join a political juggernaut.
NOW: Joe Biden seen as example of Seinfeldian opposite theory, the comparatively grown-up voice of sanity and reason in an otherwise hapless trainwreck of an administration.
John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tells National Review Online that President Obama is dithering on Libya. “Every hour that goes by shows me how [Obama] is not ready for this,” he says. “I am feeling sick to my stomach that we are into something where the president does not know what he is doing.”
Mr. Ambassador — we all have that feeling — for well over two years now.
Remember back in ’50s and early ’60s, when we set off something like 900 atomic bombs in Nevada? And how we just let the fallout blow wherever and it landed all over the eastern US? And how it wiped out life as we know it and all that was left from Colorado to the Atlantic were six-legged rats battling two-headed cockroaches in the glowing ruins?
There’s no doubt the nuclear emergency in Japan is serious, so it’s perfectly reasonable for the media to help us understand the complexities of nuclear reactors, meltdowns, radiation levels, and the like. But having watched with the rest of us, I’m wondering when the identifying crawler on CNN or MSNBC or even Fox will identify an expert commentator as an “anti-nuclear activist.” Given their non-stop air time, several must be sleeping in network green rooms. Before the earthquake/tsunami they could be found opposing our nuclear strategic posture, opposing modernization of our strategic deterrent, opposing civilian nuclear power and arguing for eliminating all nuclear weapons. It may be hard to get the physics right, but the crawler should be easy.
Japan may be on the verge of an unprecedented catastrophe. Saudi Arabia is all but colonizing Bahrain. Qaddafi is close to retaking Libya, with bloodbath to follow. And, as Jim Geraghty notes, the president of the United States is going on ESPN to talk about the NCAA and delivering speeches today on his rather dull plan to replace No Child Left Behind with No Teenager Left Behind, or something like that.
It’s hard to overstate how poorly Barack Obama is doing in the face of these crises — and I don’t even mean how he’s doing substantively, which is a scandal in itself. I mean how he’s doing politically. Recall how much hay Michael Moore made of the fact that George W. Bush read My Pet Goat for nine minutes in that Florida classroom on 9/11 after being informed that the first plane had struck.
We’re going on four weeks now, or more, that Barack Obama has been reading My Pet Goat.
He is largely notable by his absence, which is itself the result not only of not knowing what to do but also apparently believing it is better for the world if he remains a minor player as a bloodbath approaches in the Middle East and something more ominous seems to be approaching in Japan. When he talks, as he did in Friday’s press conference, he only makes matters more confusing; there is little reassurance that there is a hand anywhere near the tiller.
He’s done what he [was] designed to do — from the earliest stages of his education on through his studies at Columbia, his tenure as a community organizer, his tutelage under the erstwhile Weatherman, his time in Rev Wright’s church, and his final polishing acts at Harvard, Chicago, and short stints in state and federal government: fundamentally change the US into another Europeanized socialist state run almost entirely by a professional political class and their bureaucratic enforcers.
And he knows the current GOP lacks the political will to roll back those very things he and his fellow travelers have implemented to put the final institutional nails in the republic’s classically liberal coffin.
So, sh*t. Why not just play golf and eat burgers? The f*ck you bitter clingers gonna do about it?
Not much based on the current GOP presidential line-up, which Steve Green compares to the Democrats in 1992 — before Bill Clinton arrived. (Remember the milquetoast line-up of Paul Tsongas and Bob Kerrey?)
Anyone on the right with Clinton’s charisma want to get into the game sometime between now and January?
The Japanese are a resilient people who proved themselves capable of a miracle recovery after World War II. Even so, their 2011 population is an aging one, with almost one in four Japanese over 65. As difficult as such demographics are for a stagnant economy to support, rebuilding economic prosperity to its previous levels with such a workforce challenges credibility. It seems to me–even should the nation avoid the ultimate disaster of Chernobyl-type nuclear accidents rendering its scarce land resource even scarcer through 1,000-year half-life contamination–reconstructing Japan will require something like the Marshall Plan.
The United States no longer can provide that level of assistance, but perhaps the Chinese–their coffers bristling with reserves from years of trade surpluses–can. Thus far, I am not aware of any large-scale assistance from the one long enemy to the other, and it seems that a Japanese decline should, in fact, benefit the Chinese. Nevertheless, a competitor’s misfortune may be a wise investment opportunity.
Thus, aside from all the human tragedy that has thus far occurred and the risks for far greater that could well end in making this the greatest natural disaster in modern times–recall that the fire after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 caused 90 percent of the damage–I also see a great loss for America.
As Amity Shlaes wrote at the very beginning of 2007′s The Forgotten Man, brilliantly — and tacitly — linking a natural disaster in the late 1920s which inadvertently stage set for Hoover, FDR, and the calamity of the following decade with Katrina and our own dormant economy,”Floods change the course of history, and the flood of 1927 was no exception.”
The America of the 1920s was a still largely rural nation with a few urban pockets about to face all of the challenges of the 20th century and ultimately very much up to the task. Japan has a demographically exhausted population and a rapacious neighbor right next door. As Kronos writes, “Undoubtedly this disaster has knee-capped our loyal ally Japan’s regional power for some time to come and perhaps permanently. China enjoys the best position to move into the resulting vacuum and exploit Japan’s hobbling.”
What happens next?
(And what about us? Jeff Goldstein boils America’s potential fate down to six simple words: “USA Inc.: Bought high, selling low.”)
Sky News is reporting, “Japan nuclear plant update: Area residents told to stay indoors, not drink tap water and to cover faces with wet towels or masks.” Michael van Poppel of Breaking News Online adds, “The extent of the incident at the nuke plant is not known.. still very sketchy. Officials appeal for calm.”
I’m sure the Tatler will have much more on this later in the AM today.
A 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Japan, shaking buildings violently as far away as Tokyo. The highest tsunami warning was issued for the country’s northeast coast.
The quake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time off the coast of Sendai north of Tokyo, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. A wave of as high as 6 meters is expected to hit the coast of Miyagi prefecture, the agency said.
An updated report places the quake at a mammoth 8.8 rating. Steve Herman, a Voice of America journalist based in Seoul also has numerous updates on Twitter, including at least one possible tsunami sighting. There’s a photo of buildings on fire here.
CNN’s Lateef Mungin tweets, “There have been only 5 other earthquakes larger than this one since 1906.”
As we noted on Wednesday, global warming doomsday activist Mark Hertsgaard’s ambush interview of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) went so badly, that Inhofe uploaded the complete video of his exchange to his own Website. But watch the start of the clip, where Hertsgaard identifies himself as being with Politico.com.
At the time, that struck us as being a bit odd. Politico frequently toes the Democratic party line, and has had several members associated with the leftwing JournoList that colluded with then-Senator Obama’s presidential campaign. But I can’t recall it going all in on the global cooling/warming/climate change/climate chaos (or whatever it’s called this week) issue. Based on Hertsgaard claiming on-camera that he was associated with the Politico, I thought perhaps that had changed with his hiring, where’s he’s contributed at least one rather strident op-ed.
At the Daily Caller, Caroline May writes that the Politico is pushing back from Hertsgaard’s on-camera claim that he was with that news outlet:
The best way to get the attention of a lawmaker: Say you’re from a legitimate news outlet and proceed with your questioning.
A great way to discredit yourself: Lie about your affiliation with a news outlet and proceed with your questioning.
The problem? Hertsgaard is not with the D.C. insider publication at all.
Dan Berman, energy editor at Politico, told The Daily Caller that while Hertsgaard has written one opinion article for them, he was not and is not affiliated with Politico.
“Mr. Hertsgaard is not a POLITICO reporter or employee and we have asked him not to portray himself as one,” Berman wrote in an email to TheDC.
Well, that’s good to see.
Hertsgaard lives in Northern California; his wife is a San Francisco Public Utilities Commission vice president, according to this Website. On February 12, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Hertsgaard was planning to jet from California to DC to challenge what he calls the “climate crooks,” the “politicians, propagandists and fossil fuel companies that have funded a misinformation campaign,” the Chronicle quoted him as saying.
(The gushing piece in the Chronicle is also a reminder of how that paper could ignore the headlines of the year then-Senator Obama calmly dropped in their lap three years earlier, when he told that he’d bankrupt the coal industry and “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”)
Bryan Preston noted at the Tatler that Hertsgaard’s crusade seems like something out of the pre-Hide the Decline past, not to mention, as we noted, rather hypocritical in the wake of the eco-doomsday crowd’s puritanical paranoia in recent years of excessive jet travel.
Back in 2007, we first highlighted the essay that ran in Editor and Publisher, old media’s house organ titled, “Climate Change: Get Over Objectivity, Newspapers.” Of course, as we’ve seen in the years since, there isn’t much objectivity left for old media to get over.
Evidently the Politico has taken their advice, as Mark Hertsgaard, who identifies himself on camera as working for that increasingly left-leaning and formerly JournoList-affiliated Website badgers Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). As Inhofe’s YouTube page notes, “Global warming alarmists led by Mark Hertsgaard attempted to ambush Senator Inhofe following a hearing this morning. See for yourself who ended up winning the argument.”
Will it take the Republican Party as long to accept modern science as it took the Roman Catholic Church? The church waited 359 years to admit Galileo was right — the earth does move around the sun. Not until 1992 did the Vatican officially withdraw its condemnation of the man Albert Einstein called the father of modern science.
Today, even children know that the earth revolves around the sun. But that idea was heresy to the 17th-century church. When Galileo would not abandon his views, the Inquisition put him on trial in 1633. He was forced to recant under penalty of death, then lived under house arrest for the rest of his life.
Unpack that a bit and you have fallacious appeals to authority, followed by ad hominem attacks and insults. That’s not science, though having worked around more than a few scientists in my time, it’s unfortunately not uncommon behavior for scientists to engage in. Hertsgaard never deals honestly with the ClimateGate emails, which provide extremely strong evidence that the scientists at the heart of the debate were and still are cooking the books. It’s as if “hide the decline” never entered the debate. It’s as if none of the pile of information showing real and widespread fraud done in the name of global warming alarmism never happened at all.
But if Hertsgaard is serious about his language and his eco-apocalypticism, to paraphrase Instapundit, I’d be more likely to believe there’s a crisis when he starts to act like there’s a crisis. That means setting an example and getting off the Internet, to cut down on electricity and air-conditioned server room use. Hertsgaard is based in San Francisco; how did he get to DC? Think of the polar bears, man! And additionally, to borrow from Ann Althouse, the following rules should be observed by journalists who take global warming seriously:
3. Free time should be spent sitting or lying still without using electricity. Don’t run the television or music playing device. Reading, done by sunlight is the best way to pass free time. After dark, why not have a pleasant conversation with friends or family? Word games or board games should replace sports or video games.
4. Get up at sunrise. Don’t waste the natural light. Try never to turn on the electric lights in your house or workplace. Put compact fluorescent bulbs in all your light fixtures. The glow is so ugly that it will reduce the temptation to turn them on.
5. Restrict your use of transportation. Do not assume that walking or biking is less productive of carbon emissions than using a highly efficient small car. Do not go anywhere you don’t have to go. When there is no food in the house to make dinner, instead of hopping in the car to go to the grocery store or a restaurant, take it as a cue to fast. As noted above, your weight should be at the low end of normal, and opportunities to reach or stay there should be greeted with a happy spirit.
Also, the iPod that Hertsgaard carries in his ambush interview with Inhofe is right out as well, given its use of the Internet and petroleum-based byproducts to manufacture it. And note the obligatory use of children as human shields. Nothing like telling a young girl that her future is completely hosed. Near the end of the video, Hertsgaard “salutes” Inhofe for having plenty of children and grandkids — but doesn’t that contradict the global warming alarmists’ fear that large families cause global warming?
Related: “Today, six years ago, the Kyoto Protocols, intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, came into force. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that no country has followed its commitment. That’s good, but also a cautionary tale about the validity of international agreements built on unicorns and pixie dust.”
Update: It gets better: “CANCELED: HOT—Mark Hertsgaard in Conversation with NASA’s James Hansen — Due to snow storms in New York City, this event has been canceled. Please check back again for a new date and time.”
The past two winters have dumped plenty of snow on the east coast, making hash of such claims from a decade ago that “Sledding and snowball fights are as out-of-date as hoop-rolling,” as the New York Times sniffed in January of 2000. And yet, the relentless march to banish incandescent lights to fight the imagined effects of global warming marches on. Often with unintended consequences, as this Philadelphia Daily News report highlights:
Going green has caused some Philadelphians, including City Councilman Frank Rizzo, to see white.
“The new LED traffic-bulb lights were completely coated by snow and ice, preventing drivers from seeing the signal,” Rizzo said about his commute to work Thursday.
Although energy-efficient and cost-effective, LED lights have a downside. The LED bulbs burn cooler than the old incandescent lights, meaning snow that covers them melts slower, said Mark McDonald, Mayor Nutter’s spokesman.
Naturally, the unnecessary replacement of incandescents puts more local government employees to work:
Other cities that are prospering with LED traffic lights have adapted to some of the new technology’s imperfections.
In Milwaukee, the city purchased long poles and brushes to manually clean the lights, according to the city’s chief traffic and street-lighting engineer, Bob Bryson. Cops and snow-removal trucks report covered lights.
In Denver, workers use air compressors and long brushes to clear snow-covered traffic lights. Denver also monitors most of its lights from a traffic control room.
Related: Meanwhile, back in the much warmer climate of northern California,”Solyndra Solar Panel plant in Fremont, California has wasted a billion dollars, $535 million of those a direct bailout from U.S. taxpayers, and it is going ‘bust.’” But it continues to be a useful campaign backdrop for green-obsessed Democrat politicians such as Barbara Boxer and President Obama.
We kick off another year of our Silicon Graffiti videoblog with a look at Old Media’s response to the horrific shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). For anyone who was on Twitter at the time the news first broke, it was quite a sight watching old media’s narrative emerge in real time even before any of the basic facts of the story were known.
But this was far from the first time that a narrative was preformed—or very quickly assembled in the wake of a shock event. We try to place the MSM’s response to the Giffords shooting with some earlier attempts by the MSM to force the facts like a pretzel to fit an existing storyline:
Dr. Oppenheimer, among other ecologists, points to global warming as perhaps the most significant long-term factor.
Oppenheimer even had a tear-jerking personal angle on the ‘absence of snow’ in modern winters. The New York Times writer mournfully announced that snow-balls fights are now as outdated as hoop-rolling, and quoted Oppenheimer on the pathetic spectacle of the unused sled in his stairwell, symbol of a warming world:
But it does not take a scientist to size up the effects of snowless winters on the children too young to remember the record-setting blizzards of 1996. For them, the pleasures of sledding and snowball fights are as out-of-date as hoop-rolling, and the delight of a snow day off from school is unknown.
‘I bought a sled in ’96 for my daughter,” said Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, a scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund. ”It’s been sitting in the stairwell, and hasn’t been used. I used to go sledding all the time. It’s one of my most vivid and pleasant memories as a kid, hauling the sled out to Cunningham Park in Queens.”
Which, in case you haven’t noticed, hasn’t been collected for more than a week now — the current mayor having been brought low by a snowstorm in December.
What would the Little Flower have thought?
First, that his successor-nine-times-removed has been spending far too much time on ephemera — lately, the alleged evils of political partisanship — and not nearly enough on the basics of municipal governance.
And, as a result, he got his pants pulled down by a gaggle of mutinous garbagemen.
Correct on both counts.
La Guardia’s maxim spoke to attention to basics: While there necessarily must be partisanship in government, it rarely has much to do with the delivery of essential services. Keep the fundamentals under control and folks will overlook a lot.
But when a mayoralty comes to be defined by fanciful notions — political labels, bike paths, french fries and other irrelevancies — forgiveness following catastrophe will be a long time coming.
Especially when the mayor’s reaction to the debacle ranges from surly condescension to bewildered resentment to transparently feigned contrition.
Actually, there’s scant evidence that Mike Bloomberg even now knows what hit him — apart from 20-plus inches of snow, of course.
And the sanitation slowdown. Wildcat strike would be too strong a term — wild kitten, maybe. But, still, the mayor couldn’t cope. The truth is that while Mike Bloomberg was off trash talking Democratic/Republican rancor, he lost control of the New York City Department of Sanitation.
Ronald Reagan had a philosophy. He also knew how to create a climate. In the first moments of his administration, Ronald Reagan was presented with striking air-traffic controllers who wanted an unbelievably unrealistic wage and benefit increase. The New York Times (!) said in an editorial at the time, “the Reagan Administration has little choice but to risk the walkout and seek help from the courts. For a settlement on the union’s exorbitant terms would set an inflationary precedent for millions of Federal employees.”Of course, the risks were worse than the Times‘s own assessment. And, the Times overlooked an option. Reagan could can their sorry asses. And that is precisely what he did. Reagan fired the strikers, risking a grinding halt to America’s transportation system and economy. The unions and their captive handmaidens, also known as the Democratic party and the national media, went ballistic. How cruel! How heartless! The press profiled dozens of Reagan’s victims. But he hung tough. After all, the Gipper was the man who, when governor of California, said of the Berkeley protestors, “If it takes a bloodbath now, let’s get it over with.”
Christopher DeMuth, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, and one of the smartest men in Christendom, has argued that this was Reagan’s greatest accomplishment. Why? Because it sent the message throughout the American economy that organized labor wasn’t going to spread the disease of Eurosclerosis in the United States. In places like France, unions to this day run the show (unless the Germans phone in new orders).
There was a very serious threat that the same rot of democratic socialism could sink into the pillars of the American economy (remember Nixon’s “wages and price controls,” Carter’s rationing). Reagan’s shot across the bow of the Left woke up corporate managers long accustomed to having the government siding with labor. Reagan stared down the creeping forces of soft-socialism and the American people cheered him for it. All of a sudden, corporate America got the message that they could undergo the painful restructuring that was desperately needed.
* * *
Calvin Coolidge’s handling of the Boston police strike is often seen as the closest parallel to Reagan’s sacking of the controllers. “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, at anytime,” declared silent Cal. Of course, Coolidge said this when he was governor of Massachusetts (I say “of course” because I looked it up and it makes me sound like I knew it already). But it was that statement that got him on Warren Harding’s ticket as vice president (Americans were sick of strikes back then. In 1919 alone there were some 4 million workers on strike, at a cost to the nation of about $4 billion). And it was that attitude that made Coolidge America’s most underrated president.
Volunteers have reported that ‘a large number’ of elderly customers are snapping up hardbacks as cheap fuel for their fires and stoves.
Temperatures this week are forecast to plummet as low as -13ºC in the Scottish Highlands, with the mercury falling to -6ºC in London, -5ºC in Birmingham and -7ºC in Manchester as one of the coldest winters in years continues to bite.
Workers at one charity shop in Swansea, in south Wales, described how the most vulnerable shoppers were seeking out thick books such as encyclopaedias for a few pence because they were cheaper than coal.
One assistant said: ‘Book burning seems terribly wrong but we have to get rid of unsold stock for pennies and some of the pensioners say the books make ideal slow-burning fuel for fires and stoves.
A lot of them buy up large hardback volumes so they can stick them in the fire to last all night.’
A 500g book can sell for as little as 5p, while a 20kg bag of coal costs £5.
Since January 2008, gas bills have risen 40 per cent and electricity prices 20 per cent, although people over 60 are entitled to a winter fuel allowance of between £125 and £400.
Jonathan Stearn, energy expert for Consumer Focus, said: ‘If pensioners are taking such desperate measures to heat their homes it is shocking. With low wholesale prices and increasing profit margins, there is clearly room for energy companies to make price cuts immediately.’
Ruth Davison, of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘The spiralling cost of energy means heating homes has become a luxury rather than a necessity for many people – particularly the elderly, low paid and unemployed.’
But in addition to Ray Bradbury’s famous dystopian novel (which previously echoed more than a little in last year’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act story), it’s also the alpha and the omega of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, now celebrating its secondanniversary. The rulers of National Socialist Germany burned books because they were frightened by their content; the citizens of socialist England burn books because of their nation’s whackadoodle environmentally correct energy policies.
And speaking of which, great “Final Countdown” find by Sonic Frog.net:
Prince Charles: Eighteen months
to stop climate change disaster
The Prince of Wales has warned that the world faces a series of natural disasters within 18 months unless urgent action is taken to save the rainforests.
In one of his most out-spoken interventions in the climate change debate, he said a £15 billion annual programme was required to halt deforestation or the world would have to live with the dire consequences.
“We will end up seeing more drought and starvation on a grand scale. Weather patterns will become even more terrifying and there will be less and less rainfall,” he said.
The P.C. prince made the above claim in May of 2008. (He would make yet another final final countdown this past summer, and no doubt, there are more to come.) Those eighteen months he warned us about so portentiously have now passed.
Last January, I did a parody of Time magazine’s infamous 1966 “Is God Dead” cover, in which the magazine, strayed so far from its conservative roots under Henry Luce in the 1920s that it finally met up with Nietzsche’s late 19th century aphorism. Nietzsche essentially forecast the horrors of the 20th century as a whole with his statement; it may not be a coincidence that the late 1960s and 1970s were pretty hellish in their own right in America after Time made theirs.
Here’s my version from January, in which I figured that if Nietzsche’s self-designated Übermensch could kill off God, as a self-designated uberblogger, I had sufficient chutzpah (and Photoshop skills) to kill off the smiting deity of the puritanical enviro-doomsday movement: