Inglorious Cræp

The word on the street was that i’d enjoy Tarantino’s ‘Inglorious Basterds’. That was the word, and the word was bollocks.

I made the effort, and struggled through it.

Let’s be honest, Mel Brookes has been here before and it was unmitigated shite. There is nothing new here. Nothing. It has all been done before, and it wasn’t in the least bit amusing then. The Nazi Era really doesn’t need to be portrayed in high camp style for effect… by jewish film makers, or anyone else.

If the meaning of what happened from 1933 to 1945 is lost on you, watching this film will not cure your retardation, merely compound it.


As previously noted the Copenhagen climate change summit achieved nothing. It never really mattered.

It bothered me that i didn’t back up my claim that it was already too late, and that we were committed to an unstable future climate. This prompted me to go back and find some of the papers i read last year / earlier this year. Here’s the abstract from the one that stuck in my mind:

The observed increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) since the preindustrial era has most likely committed the world to a warming of 2.4°C (1.4°C to 4.3°C) above the preindustrial surface temperatures. The committed warming is inferred from the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates of the greenhouse forcing and climate sensitivity. The estimated warming of 2.4°C is the equilibrium warming above preindustrial temperatures that the world will observe even if GHG concentrations are held fixed at their 2005 concentration levels but without any other anthropogenic forcing such as the cooling effect of aerosols. The range of 1.4°C to 4.3°C in the committed warming overlaps and surpasses the currently perceived threshold range of 1°C to 3°C for dangerous anthropogenic interference with many of the climate-tipping elements such as the summer arctic sea ice, Himalayan–Tibetan glaciers, and the Greenland Ice Sheet. IPCC models suggest that ≈25% (0.6°C) of the committed warming has been realized as of now. About 90% or more of the rest of the committed warming of 1.6°C will unfold during the 21st century, determined by the rate of the unmasking of the aerosol cooling effect by air pollution abatement laws and by the rate of release of the GHGs-forcing stored in the oceans. The accompanying sea-level rise can continue for more than several centuries. Lastly, even the most aggressive CO2 mitigation steps as envisioned now can only limit further additions to the committed warming, but not reduce the already committed GHGs warming of 2.4°C.

On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: Formidable challenges ahead – V. Ramanathan and Y. Feng

My guess is that we are more likely to attempt amelioration through doing something (increasing the amount of particulate pollution) than nothing (reducing the level of emissions). The consequences of which will perhaps postpone the inevitable by a few years and end up exacerbating the situation in the long term.

The real message from Copenhagen is that capitalism is alive and well. It’s quite happy to take the planet to the brink if there’s money to be made in so doing.

The fight is probably over. Time to come to terms with living in a dying age.

Great Barrier Reef Diving

I blame Willard Price.

As a child his adventure books were a form of addiction. The ones that really did it for me were the diving ones, Underwater Adventure, South Sea Adventure, Diving Adventure. I can still recall the scene on the coral atoll with the giant squid caught in the fish trap…

All of which is a round-a-bout way of saying that i’ve always wanted to go dive the Great Barrier Reef. In my imagination it wouldn’t be as a tourist, but as a scientist, or explorer, attempting to unlock some great secret that would help save my watery paradise from the ravages of man…

So much for imagination! It doesn’t look like i’m going to manage to switch careers at this point, and does the world really need any more explorers?

Commercial flight from Tokyo to Cairns. Four day luxury live-aboard. All decisions made based on the fanciness of the websites. Willard would be oh so disappointed.

Fortunately the diving was good… although not as good as i’d managed to hype myself up to imagining it might be. The truth is that the reef really isn’t in that good condition. Even in areas where people rarely dive (we were lucky enough to get to a really remote reef that is only dived a couple of times a year) there is a lot of dead coral around. It’s true that it appears to be recovering – new growth dots the outcrops of dead coral, but the predominate atmosphere is not one of vibrant health.

Live-aboard life is really quite lulling. If you let them the staff will keeping you in a schedule of well organised eating / diving / sleeping. A typical day starts at 6:30am with breakfast, then diving, then second breakfast, then diving, then lunch, then diving, then dinner, then night diving, then sleep. The last step is not really optional… however much you might imagine that it’d be nice to sit around on deck with a beer, the reality is that having a shower before falling asleep is considered a victory. There were people on board who had kept up this schedule for 7 days, not missing a single dive. After four days i could see myself happily following along for another couple of weeks. It all catches up with afterwards, but at the time, it’s was as close to utopian existence as i’m likely to get!

The tourist aspect of it all only really encroached on one dive (out of the 15…) At North Horn on Osprey Reef the sharks now congregate to be fed by the dive boats. This involves winching a dustbin full of tuna heads on a rope down from the surface, and letting the sharks have at it. Contrived as it is, it’s a spectacular sight. Despite a group of 20 – 30 reef sharks, some as big as 3m, whipping themselves into a frenzy, around 5m in front of you, it’s all extremely peaceful. I took video of it, and was amazed that my breathing is pretty much unchanged. In the audio you can hear the bone sin the tuna heads cracking and snapping, but the lack of noise gives it a feeling serenity, belying the chaotic scene.

Fish feeding has never felt right to me… but i suppose it’s inevitable. If the demands of tourism can protect the shark population from continued decimation, it might be worth it. On the previous trip the staff on the boat had removed several hundred meters of baited hooks from the reef, and very little of the outer reef is officially protected from fishing. There are still big fish out there (giant barracuda, tune, manta rays, bull rays, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, trevelly, etc) but the abundance you might see on a TV documentary is far from commonplace at this point.

Part of the reason that i broke my ‘no flying’ ban and went on this trip was a feeling that if i didn’t do it soon, it would soon be too late. I’m obviously bittersweet about the whole thing. It was glorious to get to dive there, but knowing that i’m just adding to the pressure on the system really doesn’t feel right.

Pain in Soft Focus

Lunch today found me chopping up one of my limited supply of sun-dried habaneros. I know that they are sun-dried because it was me that left them in the sun to dry.

Wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The plant that grew on was sold to us by local farmers as an Okinawa Chilli… but it’s obviously habanero, and not 島唐辛子 (never noticed that kanji before… how strange). It’s also the first time that i’ve used dried habaneros…

The sensible thing to do was obviously to chop one up into relatively small chunks, stir fry with plenty of garlic, ginger, tasai, tofu, and black beans, then eat it and see if it killed me.

Guess what? It didn’t! In fact it was remarkably good. Drying did seem to have turned the heat down a little, but i’d say it had also concentrated the flavour, making it more earthy and rich.

Needless to say this was celebrated by taking a picture of the remaining chillies. First with the 10D and then a polaroid (above). No need to post the digital one: it’s mundanely in focus.

The CRU Hack

What a mess. It was no doubt inevitable that this would happen on the “eve” of the Copenhagen conference. The stakes are so much higher than prior examples, like the tobacco industry, and the tactics have been refined over the years. The fine art of disinformation.

I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t matter. None of it matters. And here’s why: we are fucked six ways to Sunday regardless of what is going to be agreed in Copenhagen. That might even be true if Copenhagen were to mark a significant turning point in our attitude, but lets not kid ourselves – it isn’t. Copenhagen is going to be another compromise, another half-hearted attempted to appear to be doing the right things, all while maintaining the latitude to carry on raping the planet.

The horrible truth is that we, humanity, are a scourge on this world. We are the parasite killing the host. The plague ravaging the corpse. We have met the enemy. And it is us.