The warmest spring in recorded history?

It’s May and the garden is going berserk.  A month ago it looked like a ploughed field, now everything’s vanished behind a burgeoning wall of green.  Unfortunately, much of the green is ‘feral’, so I’ve got to put on the gardening gloves and get weeding.  It’s been so warm (and dry) that most of the plants are several weeks ahead of schedule.  Global warming or random variation?

All quiet on the Southern Front?

Since my last post, we’ve got ourselves embroiled in yet another war.  I need to say up front that I don’t really know whether I support it or not: I like the principle of stopping autocratic regimes from using military force against their own people, but I’m not really sure we should be the major player involved in stopping them.  It was, after all, a UN decision to intervene and a NATO responsibility to do it.  The major NATO partner (The USA) seems to be back-pedalling – I have a certain sympathy for them, as, despite their military budget being more than many UN member’s GNP, they are getting overstretched and fed-up with losing their children to foreign wars.  Unfortunately, the UK seem to think that they can step in and fill the gap.  This does not sit comfortably with the defence cuts that have grounded most of our combat aircraft and are about to sell the Royal Navy’s flagship.  Aircraft carriers are about the only means of projecting power in far corners of the world without some co-operation from nearby countries, and we’re selling ours off.

Hence we’re hiring airfield services off the Italians.  Hiring, note.  The Italians are part of NATO and so should be providing these services at no cost as part of their contribution to the NATO effort.  And what an effort.  The total contribution from the other NATO countries (with the exception of France, who at least are putting their forces where the UN’s mouth is) adds up to less than the UK contribution.  Notably, the country with the healthiest financial situation (Germany) is probably doing the least – throwing up their hands in horror at the thought of sending their boys and girls off to fight in a foreign war…  OK, if you don’t want to fight, how about paying for others to fight for you?

Water, water anywhere?

In my last post, I commented on the wetness of the situation in Northern Ireland, where their so-called water authority had allowed much of the precious liquid to leak away to waste.  Well, the problem has been exacerbated (and spread) by the driest spring ever.  Even West Country water companies are beginning to mutter about restrictions, with reservoirs 60-70% full when they should be overflowing…

Wet summer, anyone?

Is the alternative really an alternative?

The Tories sop to the LibDems is about to be put to the test.  Do we stick with the ‘First past the post’ (FPTP) system or change to the ‘Alternative Vote’ (AV) system.  From the quality of the campaigns so far, the ‘Yeses’ don’t really believe that they can win and the ‘Nos’ think that they already have.  It must be the most lacklustre performance ever by any groups supporting or opposing a referendum.  I’ve not seen any publicity about the real issues, just “It’ll cost too much/No it won’t” type arguments.  The Yes camp really doesn’t deserve to win!

Which is a shame, as it might be the first step towards setting up a truly democratic voting system…  As an aside, I was amused to discover that the FPTP system is not that well enshrined in history, as not too long ago a constituency would elect several representatives and voters would pick that number of reps from the available candidates (as still happens with some lower-level elections).  The ‘one constituency/one candidate’ idea seems to be relatively modern.  I also liked one proposal that you should mark the candidate you least want elected and the candidate with the fewest votes wins…

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