The General Discussion Thread

[Publish Date updated to restore to front page]

Okay as an experiment here it is. Discuss your favourite generals here!

Well perhaps… Really this is simply the place to post news-items, fun-items or whatever takes your fancy. In short just post what you want here.

It’s just another wee experiment – comments welcome.

Squonk.

[Image: General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett (Stephen Fry)]

17,284 thoughts on “The General Discussion Thread

  1. There’s a man going house-to-house down my lane bring us all a 3mm tube that comes out of a manhole. He told me I should buy my own balloons at the joke shop. He’s got a gas company ID badge but the side of his van is painted over with “Derick’s Used Cars” showing through underneath. Should I trust him?

  2. In the inside pocket of his jacket he showed me some little pumps that run on a coin cell. I bought one but he said to keep it quiet in case my neighbours’ balloons deflate when I’m using it.

  3. The United States has a whopping 133 billion cubic metres of strategic natural gas storage capacity (not including LNG terminal stock).or around 1,400 Terrawatt Hours and we have 14 Terrawatt hours. not including LNG stock at terminals.

    Germany has about 250 Terrawatt hours storage capacity not including LNG
    Italy has about 200 Terrawatt hours not including LNG
    France has about 150 Terrawatt hours not including LNG
    and so on.
    And I repeat again we now have only 14 Terrawatt hours capacity.

    Not only are we not in the same ballpark we’re not even on the same planet as anyone else.

  4. Ignore the doomsday scaremongers. I’ve got a whole pack of balloons and a year’s supply of coin cells for my GasBooster.

  5. Oh no. Maybe that tanker of Russian gas being pumped into the network at Milford Haven has some unknown kgb radioactive poisonous substance in it (personally added to the tanker by Putin himself of course) and we’ll all be dead by tea-time – or at least as soon as we turn the cooker on.

    So there’s no point worrying about any future gas crisis!

  6. @Ben

    What you call kerosene is called paraffin here. Was a time a lot of people used it and it was relatively cheap but now in the days of central heating, fitted carpets and inadequate ventilation it’s only used in greenhouses which is why the price is so high.

    All we have left now is fond memories.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJTcScAQvds

  7. When I was a kid we used to play in an old abandoned railway station on a disused line. Adjacent to the station there was an abandoned paraffin depot. There was also an old abandoned Pink Paraffin road tanker and we used to play on its rusting hulk.

    No health and safety in these days!

  8. And just as I suspected after three days of not updating we finally get new figures because a tanker has arrived – http://mip-prod-web.azurewebsites.net/PrevailingView

    LNG increased from 2,226 to a whopping 2,270 GW hours.

    I’m not sure I’m one hundred percent convinced by the Medium Range Storage figures but they are still going down. I’m not convinced that the data isn’t still delayed just with fresh time stamps.

  9. And here’s the International Energy Agency in their most recent energy security of member nations report (2014) saying clearly that we needed more storage and more import diversity.

    https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/ENERGYSUPPLYSECURITY2014.pdf

    Energy Supply Security
    CHAPTER
    4
    Emergency response systems of individual IEA countries
    United Kingdom

    OECD/IEA

    Storage
    The working natural gas storage capacity of the United Kingdom is approximately
    4.7 bcm. Historically, it has had less need of gas storage capacity than other major gas
    markets within the European Union because of “swing production capacity” provided by indigenous gas fields. As these fields continue to decline there is an increasing need for replacement “swing supply capacity” – including from additional import infrastructure and gas storage capacity.

    The country has three types of gas storage: long-range storage, medium-range storage typically salt caverns such as Aldbrough, and depleted fields such as Hatfield Moor), and short-range storage (peak LNG plants). Long-range storage is typically used for seasonal variations. Rough, the only such facility in the United Kingdom, represents three-quarters of the country’s storage capacity. It is owned and operated by former incumbent Centrica Storage.

    So the IEA wrote in 2014 that it would be necessary for the UK to increase its storage capacity and increase import sources as we moved forward. The UK government has actually allowed storage to be trashed to about a quarter of what it was in 2014.

    The IEA report shows in black and white that Britain has done exactly the opposite of what is vitally necessary to ensure gas supply security. Can’t say it is just me saying the sky is falling. Not only do the government ignore their own committees recommendations they also ignore the International Energy Agency and have allowed both the Short Range and Long Range storage systems (identified by the IEA above) to both close. Not just one of the systems but two!!

    IEA must now join the growing list of agencies and governments who think our politicians are basket cases.

    The greatest threat to the UK comes not from Russia as they claim but from our own pig-ignorant politicians.

  10. ANS Messages
    7th January 2019 – 03:27 GMT
    National Grid is scaling back capacity at locations YOURHOME . The ICF is zero – just like our storage. Have a nice day!

    7th January 2019 – 06:30 GMT
    Due to conditions on the network all of us here at National Grid have jumped on a plane to New Zealand. We’ll be back about June when gas engineers will begin the process of re-pressurising the National Transmission System. Please be patient as we expect to be able to reconnect most customers by mid-November before we have to cut you off again in December.

  11. Ben
    “We could have a long discussion about Psychedelics and the missed opportunity with psychology/psychiatry.”

    I don’t know much about it but would be happy to discuss and learn. Aren’t psychedelics used in California to ease depression in the terminally ill?

    Clark
    “what should be done about the profit motive?”

    Not subject ourselves to it.

  12. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43323847

    Russian spy: Nerve agent ‘used to try to kill’ Sergei Skripal

    A nerve agent was used to try to murder a former Russian spy and his daughter, police have said.

    Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon and remain critically ill.

    A police officer who was the first to attend the scene is now in a serious condition in hospital, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said.

    Nerve agents are highly toxic chemicals that stop the nervous system working and shut down bodily functions.

    They normally enter the body through the mouth or nose, but can also be absorbed through the eyes or skin

  13. Phil, psychedelics have also been used to treat – in fact I believe cure – alcoholism and other addictions. There was a BBC Horizon documentary about it years ago. And small doses of Ecstasy have been shown to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, I think.

    Regarding the profit motive, it would seem more a case of stopping others subjecting us to it. But that’s simplistic.

    If I started a sole-trader business, some profit would translate merely into financial security for my business, and next into financial security for me personally. If I then employed some people, profit would translate into job security for them.

    But it looks very different when some huge corporation rakes in billions, employs as few people as possible, and trashes the environment. There must be some further issues involved.

  14. Squonk, the IEA also said:

    “there is an increasing need for replacement “swing supply capacity” – including from additional import infrastructure…”

    The UK hasn’t done that either – well, the LNG terminals I suppose, but it’s not nearly enough. How many single-point failure scenarios are there that would make the lights go out?

  15. https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/279538/Call-to-double-gas-storage-capacity

    Call to double gas storage capacity

    The UK must increase current amounts of gas storage to reduce the impact of energy price spikes, as part of efforts to secure supplies and keep the lights on, MPs have urged

    PUBLISHED: 00:12, Tue, Oct 25, 2011

    The UK must increase current amounts of gas storage to reduce the impact of energy price spikes, as part of efforts to secure supplies and keep the lights on, MPs have urged.

    A report by the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee warned that the UK can only store 14 days of gas supply, compared to France’s 87 days and Germany’s 69 days of supplies, and should double storage capacity by 2020.

    …Tim Yeo, chairman of the committee, said: “The UK will become more dependent on energy imports as North Sea oil and gas declines but prudent planning can ensure this doesn’t reduce our energy security too drastically.”

    So in 2011 the Energy And Climate Change Committee called for storage to be doubled by 2020 to 28 days but instead the government has allowed it to be reduced to 3 days by 2018 and they are perfectly happy with that!

    Tim Yeo was deselected by his constituency Conservative party.

  16. Clark the LNG terminals already existed when the IEA wrote that report!

    They wrote

    The United Kigndom also has four LNG import terminals, namely Teesside GasPort (capacity 4bcm), Isle of Grain (capacity 20.4bcm), South Hook Milford Haven (21bcm) and Dragon LNG (6bcm). There are no UK import projects under construction

    The Teeside GasPort terminal was decommissioned in 2015!!!

    So we’ve shut down multiple storage sites AND an LNG import terminal since the IEA report was written. You couldn’t make this shit up.

    The capacity’s they give for the terminals are annual max flow totals not storage capacity in case you wondered why the numbers seem so large.

  17. Oh, I only mentioned the LNG terminals because some report linked earlier made such a fuss about how they were the most modern in Europe or something. Another load of hyped-up bollox, evidently.

  18. Well obviously it’s pointless complaining to our MPs. If we want anything done about it I suggest we write to the Russian oligarchs living in London. Russians seem to take gas supply seriously whereas our Oxbridge PPE politicians apparently want the system to fail catastrophically.

  19. Clark,

    The biggest single point of failure is just it being very cold for a few weeks. System will fail on its own as storage drains rapidly to zero. If the Langeled pipeline was to fail (and it is a very long undersea pipeline) during even a brief cold snap we likely wouldn’t even make it to the end of the day. I shudder to think what would happen if it took weeks or more to fix an undersea problem.

  20. Squonk, what’s needed is a table. Just a list of the import methods with their flow capacities, highest first; presumably the Langeled pipeline would head the list. The opposing column would be simply the number of days (or hours) until our puny storage was drained, at typical winter consumption rate and assuming no other import method failed.

  21. Stupid question – there certainly shouldn’t be any potential for a cascade failure. But it isn’t impossible that critical parts of the gas supply systems are vulnerable to mains electricity being cut off, in turn due to gas shortage at the power stations.

    I wonder if anyone remotely competent has checked? It’s probably a matter of trawling through contracts. Or could they have just left this to the market as well?

  22. If our storage drained to zero in a cold snap and the Langeled pipeline failed we couldn’t even meet the demand for today let alone 450-500mcm.

    The highest gas demand in the UK in the last decade was 465mcm/day in a cold snap in 2010. Which is a lot more than they couldn’t even supply last week. On peak demand day last week supply to the National Transmission System was only about 380 mcm/day and they had to cut-off customers and let the gas pipe pressure (linepack) drop way down because they couldn’t manage to supply an estimated actual requirement of between 400 and 420 mcm/day.

  23. Clark,

    As far as I understand it there are plans for all of this or there certainly used to be. Well the engineers and grid management have to have plans for it because they know it is a possibility even if the government doesn’t!

    We wouldn’t like the plans but they will have them. Who knows how often they simulate cutting us off?

  24. Fuck. You know what the UK is? We’re the evil Empire from the first Star Wars film. We feel safe in pissing off all around us because have our Death Star – our nukes and aircraft carriers – but we haven’t secured the poxy little ventilation shafts in our home base; one lone attacker in a midget craft could bring the whole edifice tumbling down…

  25. Basically when the Energy Committee said it wanted long range storage doubled by 2020 they were also talking about roughly doubling the total flow capacity rate from long range storage.

    That was extremely sensible because we could then compensate for loss of that pipeline for weeks to months from our strategic long range storage. Which we can’t now.

  26. Clark
    “There must be some further issues involved.”

    Not really. Well, yes and no. Yes because there are always other issues involved in everything. And no because profit is the driver of capitalism.

    Sole trader is merely a type of business. You seem to think that a business with one boss will be nicer than a business run by a handful of directors or a board subject to shareholders. But it is no different. They are all subject to the simple rule that they must maximise profits to remain competitive with other businesses or else they go out of business.

    Sole traders have to minimise production costs (keep wages as low as possible). Sole traders have to lay off in a recession. Sole traders have to utilise labour saving technology. This is how the real world is. This is what happens. Sole traders are subject to the exact same forces as all capitalists.

    Capitalists have no choice in these matters. It is systematic. Hoping for nice capitalists is missing the point.

    A better example you might have given is workers co-operatives. They have every incentive to be as nice as possible to the workers because, in theory, the bosses are the workers. However, all of the above is still true for co-ops.

  27. Ba’al is besieged by Stalinist apologists so I’m providing (at his request) a little democratic context to bloviations of historical nonsense.

    What the fuck? Mark, who claims to be more green than Red. Mary, apparently. John John the naivete, and various others in a confused state of ambivalent ideology. Is it I who is Barney, or what?

  28. I should also add that even if we have a constant stream of LNG tankers queuing up at all our terminals that doesn’t mean we get through a few weeks of very cold. The problem isn’t just if they are empty.

    Even with all our LNG terminals flowing at capacity flat out for weeks we will still be drawing down our remaining puny storage at prodigious rates as well to meet the demand. Within a few weeks that will be gone and it won’t matter how full the LNG terminals are if we need to supply much more than 400 mcm /day with storage empty as they’re simply isn’t enough remaining flow capacity. Even if we had a pile of LNG tankers reaching to the moon it wouldn’t help without first building substantially more terminals.

    I’m thinking that some people (in government?) might be thinking that all we have to do is keep the LNG terminals fully stocked and if all the pipelines are working we’ll get through a a very cold few weeks. But we won’t. The LNG terminals and pipelines cannot refill general storage if their entire capacity is being used to meet demand. It was touch and go with Rough a few times but it has saved us in the past. Without it the numbers don’t add up by quite a long way.

    I say again the system will collapse completely on its own even with everything running flat out in a really bad winter. That’s how it is currently designed. Removing Rough removed the very last safety factor.

  29. Fred:

    Pure L25? No speed or stryhcnine?

    Whiteout?

    Never been there but I guess my highest dosage was about 300 mics. It was enough for self therapy which is only dangerous to Psych income. Saved my bacon for sure.

    BUT it isn’t food. It’s medicine. Now mescaline, my favorite, is more like food.

  30. Ben,

    I’m wondering just what mind altering drugs our government ministers are on as they are clearly in an alternate reality! 🙂

  31. Phil, I’m not “hoping for nicer capitalists”. I’m a realist, and human nature varies between individuals.

    Personally, I’d rather be self employed than employed, and if I was self employed I’d aim to make a profit. If I did well, I might consider offering someone some work, and that someone might be glad of it. Hopefully, my customers would be glad of whatever I was selling.

    Obviously, competition in a market can create a “race to the bottom” in one form or another. But what form that takes would seem to be the critical matter; for instance, minimising waste or inefficiency would be good, whereas minimising workers’ time off would be bad. Utilising labour saving technology would presumably be good.

    Phil, I’m “defending capitalism” here not because I think it’s necessarily good (or necessarily bad) but because we don’t seem to have found the crux of the problem yet.

  32. I’m not your Dr. AA, but if you haven’t tried something in that family for your dark days you might consider.

  33. A long time ago I knew an American computer engineer who serviced military amongst other places. He had previously served in the US Navy aboard “boomers” (nuclear missile subs). He used to sometimes say unbelievable things hinting at a ridiculous secret life working with the CIA which we all laughed at. One of them was that he helped the CIA smuggle LSD in the 70s into the UK via RAF Edzell (despite the name a US Navy base in Scotland).

    More than 30 years later I found myself talking in a pub to a Scot involved in the early 70s LSD supply chain. He said his biggest job was meeting US military people at RAF Edzell and picking up large supplies of LSD. He thought it was just a few US military people earning money one the side but maybe my now long dead old computer engineer friend was telling the truth! It is in the public domain that at one point the CIA bought the entire LSD output of Sandoz labs. Might have been a nice little earner to sell it!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Edzell

    RAF Edzell is a former Royal Air Force station located in one mile east of Edzell, Angus, Scotland.

    It was active for over fifty years, first as a RAF airfield during World War II, and later on lease to the United States Navy, From 1960 until its decommissioning in 1996, and final closure in 1997.

  34. Clark
    “I’m “defending capitalism” here not because I think it’s necessarily good (or necessarily bad) but because we don’t seem to have found the crux of the problem yet.

    Sure I understand you’re taking a critical position. However, if it tips over into refusing to accept anything then it becomes an obstacle.

    Do you accept that capitalists have to minimise production costs in order to stay in business? This is not Marx. This is business school 101; mainstream economics. This is reality; observable in the real world.

    “minimising waste…would be good”

    Sure it would but of course such externalities are what, again in the observable real world, are causing global warming.

    “Utilising labour saving technology would presumably be good.”

    It’s good for the capitalist. Not so good for the worker who gets laid off.

    Technology is a big deal in Marx’s analysis.

  35. Phil, I think we are yet to define “capitalists” and “capitalism” adequately.

    Sure, businesses have to minimise monetary costs, and one of the myriad detrimental effects of this is to increase CO2 emissions. “Internalise the gains, externalise the costs”. But this looks like a legal / enforcement matter – an organised group could gain money just by robbing people, or torturing them until they revealed their ATM PIN number. But one can’t set up such a business because it’s illegal.

    Utilising labour saving technology is not so good for the worker who gets laid off.

    That depends on the job market. If it was a sellers market, ie. there was always more demand for employees than there were people with time available to fill the jobs, it would be a minor inconvenience, and maybe even a relief.

  36. As an aside, not all businesses work by minimising the price to the buyer. iThings and the British hi-fi scene spring to mind. Look at the Linn Sondek turntable. Linn copied the Thorens TD160 design, and sold their copy at three times the price, which convinced a large enough proportion of buyers that it was somehow magically brilliant. iThings sell on precisely that principle, too.

    I was going to call this a ‘niche market’, but iThings are very popular.

  37. The Daedalus Trust – Committed to raising Hubris Awareness

    About Us

    There is a growing body of opinion to suggest that the exercise of power can distort thinking and create personality changes in people that affect decision making. The Daedalus Trust’s mission is to raise awareness of such changes and understand them better.

    http://www.daedalustrust.com/

  38. Clark
    “Sure, businesses have to minimise monetary costs”

    OK. I think that’s a yes.

    RE: Linn turntables. Goods which rely on a brand do have an unusual position which is akin to a monopoly. However, the Wikipedia description of these turntables start with patent which suggest they were not simply a copy of a cheaper predecessor.

  39. Don’t ask me how Linn got a patent on their turntable bearing; I can’t see anything special about it, and no way does it triple production cost. Snake oil if you ask me. An engineer who contributed to HAARP got a speculative patent on a weather modification technique, and I swear we’ll never hear the last of that. Amazon got a patent on “One Click Shopping”; WTF?!. I think you can do quite well from back-handers if you work in a patent office.

  40. http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    A warm approach to the equinox

    As temperatures at the North Pole approached the melting point at the end of February, Arctic sea ice extent tracked at record low levels for this time of year. Extent was low on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Arctic, with open water areas expanding rapidly in the Bering Sea during the latter half of the month. On the other side of the globe, Antarctic sea ice has reached its minimum extent for the year, the second lowest in the satellite record.

  41. The human propensity for believing utter bollox is truly astonishing. The British government believe the country’s gas supply can be reliable with a twentieth of the storage normal countries provide.

  42. Squonk, thanks. Will the ice loss ever be made back?

    Humans believing bollox again. The polar icecaps can melt away, and 30% of the population can still think global climate change is a hoax.

  43. On a yearly basis weather can mean big swings Clark but on a long term basis the trend is way down.

    Here’s arctic sea ice extent compared with recent low extents and previous averages.

    And here’s the long term volume decline.

    https://e360.yale.edu/features/as_arctic_ocean_ice_disappears_global_climate_impacts_intensify_wadhams

    The top of the world is turning from white to blue in summer as the ice that has long covered the north polar seas melts away. This monumental change is triggering a cascade of effects that will amplify global warming and could destabilize the global climate system.

    …Since my days measuring the thickness of Arctic Ocean ice from British nuclear submarines in the early 1970s, I have witnessed a stunning decline in the sea ice covering the northern polar regions — a more than 50 percent drop in extent in summer, and an even steeper reduction in ice volume. Just a few decades ago, ice 10 to 12 feet thick covered the North Pole, with sub-surface ice ridges in some parts of the Arctic extending down to 150 feet. Now, that ice is long gone, while the total volume of Arctic sea ice in late summer has declined, according to two estimates, by 75 percent in half a century.

    The great white cap that once covered the top of the world is now turning blue — a change that represents humanity’s most dramatic step in reshaping the face of our planet. And with the steady disappearance of the polar ice cover, we are losing a vast air conditioning system that has helped regulate and stabilize earth’s climate system for thousands of years.

    On the gas situation all someone has to do is to ask National Grid to simulate what would happen if average demand exceeded 500 mcm/day for say a month or two which is the sort if thing to be expected in a 46/47 or 62/63 type winter so not unrealistic. Ask them what would happen if that happened next winter. Ask them to show the simulation with realistic max flows taking into account bad weather in the North Sea and Norway mean even if the pipelines are flowing you will likely have some supply loss.

    Then ask them to show what would happen if the Langeled pipeline failed completely during a 500mcm plus daily demand. Oh and what if “unthinkable” happened and both Bacton import piplelines were out for any reason as well.

    They can show results with and without sufficient LNG arriving.

    What state would the UK be in by the end of that two month period. They can also pull temperature records from 46/47 and 62/63 and run them them through their demand prediction.

  44. Again you see it isn’t just the size of storage that counts. Each site can only flow at a certain rate. The more storage sites you have preferably spread out then more losses you can withstand because you can inject far more gas. Most first world countries have enough storage to get them through long cold periods with very little or no import supply.

    The UK however doesn’t believe in having backup supplies because we just assume everything will work when needed and that it won’t get very cold for a month or two again. The first assumption has already been proved spectacularly wrong by the sudden shutdown of Rough for safety reasons. The second will almost certainly be shown to be wrong in future and then we are completely fucked!

    At a minimum we need two more major geographically separated LNG import terminals AND and probably ten times as much storage as we have now as the consequences of running out are so dire that the country will be rapidly reduced to third world status.

    Although investment when the oil price was high has helped the UK’s oil and gas production slightly that investment has mainly dried up and the long term gas production decline continues.

    By the mid 2020s the problem will be far more acute than today unless we start investing and building now.

  45. Clark

    Yeah patents are a scam on several levels. BTW just to be clear. The Linn discussion has nothing to do with my assertion about the necessity to keep production costs low anyway. As you said, they tripled the price, nothing about the cost of manufacturing.

  46. https://blog.metoffice.gov.uk/2017/01/26/winter-1947-brought-a-freeze-to-post-war-britain/

    Winter 1947 brought a freeze to post-war Britain

    Seventy years ago, from late January until mid March, easterly winds drove a succession of snowstorms across the UK resulting in what was believed to have been the snowiest winter since the mid-nineteenth century. Six weeks of snow, which began on January 23, led to thousands of people being cut off by snowdrifts. As the UK was recovering from the effects of the Second World War, the armed forces were called upon to clear roads and railways of snowdrifts that were up to seven metres deep in places.

    According to the record, snow fell every day somewhere in the UK for a run of 55 days. Because the temperature on most days barely exceeded freezing, much of the snow settled.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_of_1962%E2%80%9363_in_the_United_Kingdom

    Winter of 1962–63 in the United Kingdom

    A short wintry outbreak brought snow to the country on 12–13 December. A very cold easterly set in on 22 December as an anticyclone formed over Scandinavia, drawing cold continental winds from Russia. Over the Christmas period, the Scandinavian High collapsed, but a new one formed near Iceland, bringing northerly winds. Significant snowfall occurred as the air mass moved south and parts of Southern England in particular had heavy snow late on 26 December (Boxing Day) continuing into 27 December.[5] The cold air became firmly established.

    …On 29 and 30 December 1962 a blizzard swept across South West England and Wales. Snow drifted to over 20 feet deep in places, driven on by gale force easterly winds, blocking roads and railways. The snow stranded villagers and brought down powerlines.[5] The near-freezing temperatures meant that the snow cover lasted for over two months in some areas. Snow lay to 6 inches depth in Manchester city centre, 9 inches in Wythenshawe, and about 18 inches at Keele University in Staffordshire. By the end of the month, there were snow drifts 8 feet deep in Kent and 15 feet deep in the west.

    …In January 1963 the sea froze for a mile out from shore at Herne Bay, Kent.[11][12] The sea also froze inshore in many places, removing many British inland waterbirds’ usual last resort of finding food in estuaries and shallow sea. The sea froze 4 miles out to sea from Dunkirk

    …In February 1963, more snow came. It was also stormy with winds reaching Force 8 on the Beaufort scale (gale-force winds).

    A 36-hour blizzard caused heavy drifting snow in most parts of the country. Drifts reached 20 foot in some areas and there were gale-force winds reaching up to 81 mph. On the Isle of Man, wind speeds were recorded at 119 mph.

  47. Clark at least the lights and gas networks stayed on. Well in 1947 the UK’s infrastructure was still badly damaged but for most of the time gas and electricity stayed on although there was electricity rationing for a time as it became difficult for coal trains to reach power stations.

    Gas was coal gas (town gas) then created locally for a city and surrounding area (I find myself remembering the gasworks smell as I type this). Electricity was also generated almost entirely by coal. And of course people usually had coal fires they could rely on if there was a power-cut.

    But, in general the UK’s energy infrastructure got through which is why I’d like to see these winters simulated for what would happen today.

    Imagine what it would be like in these conditions if your only electricity most days was for a few hours overnight and maybe a couple of brief periods during the day. For the few with an alternative source of 240V they could get their gas heating on but everyone else will have to make do with turning the gas cooker on (if they have one) and huddling in front of it in the kitchen.

    You see even if we have reasonable amount of electricity on a day from lots of wind plus nuclear and remaining coal plus imports we still have to turn the power off to save the gas network. As far as I know that is the actual official plan if gas gets really short – just electrically black out more and more of the country so their boilers for the central heating don’t work.

    The IEA report says that the government will basically shutoff just about everyone if needed with last reserves used to try and keep hospitals etc with electricity and gas even if the entire city around it is in darkness.

    Despite ongoing global warming it is a virtual certainty we’ve got more winters like these ahead and perhaps the simulations have already been done and presented but the government is just ignoring them like they’ve ignored the IEA, The Energy Committee, The CMA and business leaders. Sounds like treason to me intentionally endangering her majesty and her realm and giving comfort to her enemies.

  48. “intentionally endangering her majesty and her realm and giving comfort to her enemies.”

    Sarcasm gets lost on me on the internet. This is a joke right? Otherwise I’ll have to write another poem.

  49. I recall reading a while back that historically doomsday, end-is-nigh proclamations proliferate before major social upheaval. If so, I imagine Squonk’s recent posts heralding a transition to a free worlld of technology driven libertarian abundance. Ah, sweet dreams. Where’s our nano factories?

  50. Phil,

    I had just been reading a summary of The Treason Act 1351 on Wikipedia

    Unless any government minister is “violating the Queen’s eldest son’s wife” (perish the thought) or has violated the Queen’s companion – that sort of thing – giving comfort to the Queen’s enemies is the catch all option you have to go for!

  51. Pat duh Prevaricator..

    Your Act has managed to survive the last decade due to your fiercely protective tactics in the Breitbart mold of black mold. Superficial overtures to the notion of democracy hidden under a bushel of fascism you claim to abhor but embrace with the cold calculation of Javert makes you the sodden soul of hypocrisy itself. You know that name intimately as its your raison d’etre..your mantra: your perverted Papist prayer. Do you prey on the unwary as part of your candle-lighting rituals? Is human flesh a delicacy to your Hannibalistic propriety?

  52. Hey a really bad winter won’t be doomsday for most of Europe – just maybe for us.

    And maybe we can charter a few of the new LNG floating re-gasification tankers and park them around gas infrastructure and feed into the network. Possibly that could even be planned in advance and tested. Just waiting until we hit a wall doesn’t sound like a good option to me.

    I just have a feeling in my bones a long easterly winter is coming soon. But then I hate winter. Roll on May when I’ll probably cheer up!

  53. I’m enjoying the anti authoritarianism from our Scots and American cousins. Perish the thought indeed! Ugh.

    I read too little fiction but am currently enjoying The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin RIP. Clark, if you’re a reader take a look. It describes an anarchist society in a remarkable way. If you haven’t got a local library (sic) you can have my copy when I’ve finished.

  54. “you can have my copy when I’ve finished”

    The settlers of Annares do not use the possessive. They don’t say “my hand hurts”. They say “the hand is hurting me”. So you can have the copy I am reading if you want!

    It’s SF and the central character is a genius physicist who prefers honest numbers to deceitful words. I think the journey he takes will be to reject his society and then realise his error. But I have yet to find out.

  55. One study of Maunder Minimum temperature changes although slightly dated now.

    Chilly Temperatures During the Maunder Minimum

    The impact of the solar minimum is clear in this image, which shows the temperature difference between 1680, a year at the center of the Maunder Minimum, and 1780, a year of normal solar activity, as calculated by a general circulation model. Deep blue across eastern and central North America and northern Eurasia illustrates where the drop in temperature was the greatest. Nearly all other land areas were also cooler in 1680, as indicated by the varying shades of blue. The few regions that appear to have been warmer in 1680 are Alaska and the eastern Pacific Ocean (left), the North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland (left of center), and north of Iceland (top center).

    If energy from the Sun decreased only slightly, why did temperatures drop so severely in the Northern Hemisphere? Climate scientist Drew Shindell and colleagues at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies tackled that question by combining temperature records gleaned from tree rings, ice cores, corals, and the few measurements recorded in the historical record, with an advanced computer model of the Earth’s climate. The group first calculated the amount of energy coming from the Sun during the Maunder Minimum and entered the information into a general circulation model. The model is a mathematical representation of the way various Earth systems—ocean surface temperatures, different layers of the atmosphere, energy reflected and absorbed from land, and so forth—interact to produce the climate.

    When the model started with the decreased solar energy and returned temperatures that matched the paleoclimate record, Shindell and his colleagues knew that the model was showing how the Maunder Minimum could have caused the extreme drop in temperatures. The model showed that the drop in temperature was related to ozone in the stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere that is between 10 and 50 kilometers from the Earth’s surface. Ozone is created when high-energy ultraviolet light from the Sun interacts with oxygen. During the Maunder Minimum, the Sun emitted less strong ultraviolet light, and so less ozone formed. The decrease in ozone affected planetary waves, the giant wiggles in the jet stream that we are used to seeing on television weather reports.

    The change to the planetary waves kicked the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)—the balance between a permanent low-pressure system near Greenland and a permanent high-pressure system to its south—into a negative phase. When the NAO is negative, both pressure systems are relatively weak. Under these conditions, winter storms crossing the Atlantic generally head eastward toward Europe, which experiences a more severe winter. (When the NAO is positive, winter storms track farther north, making winters in Europe milder.) The model results, shown above, illustrate that the NAO was more negative on average during the Maunder Minimum, and Europe remained unusually cold. These results matched the paleoclimate record.

  56. John Hemming MP (Lib Dem) ran The Gas Crisis Blog from 2005 – periodically blogging when we were running short of storage with the last major issue being in 2013. He lost his seat at the 2015 general election.

    http://gasissues.blogspot.co.uk/

    We had four times as much storage then as we do now.

    In these days National Grid produced daily spreadsheets with fancy charts and more detail than we get to see now. Even the historical documents are now 404 not found.

  57. On the bright side if the sea freezes around our coasts like it did in 1963 at least the Russian ice-breaker LNG tankers can get through to the terminals.

    Russians. What would we do without them?

    Amazing colour film of Herne Bay Arctic Circle (errm. I mean Kent) 1963, Not very far away from Isle of Grain LNG terminal.

    http://screenarchive.brighton.ac.uk/detail/1032

    Runs at wrong speed so sound is weird but well worth a watch. Unfortunately the video settings don’t allow me to embed it.

    I really wouldn’t be standing on the pier!!


    Screenshot Herne Bay 1963

    Watch the ice flows hitting the pier supports towards the end of the video. It finally collapsed completely 15 years later!

  58. Unfortunately I am too busy to digest and disucss Glenn’s link right now.

    Glenn, I’d love to hear what you make of it and why you chose this above other introductions.

  59. Political problems, and indeed the very need for politics, all stem from a few simple facts about human psychology.

    Various surveys and psychological experiments show that essentially everyone considers themselves better than everyone else, or at least better than most. This is of course impossible, but it is an inescapable consequence of being alive. Each organism must act as if it and its offspring are more worthy of life than all others. This is merely the physical expression of the survival instinct.

    Thus, each viable human is born with a psychological component which was first named by Freud as the id. The id is entirely selfish. The id is much older, in an evolutionary sense, than conscious thought, and is thus subconscious, ie. its action is already so familiar by the time consciousness develops in an individual that it is simply not noticed.

    However, humans are social animals, and thus human societies maintain fabricated values which are inherently incompatible with the urges of the id; values such as “fairness” and “equality”. Humans have therefore developed a further psychological component, again first named by Freud as the ego. The ego must exist partly in consciousness and partly subconsciously, because it “mediates” between the urges of the id and the demands of society.

    We all like to think of ourselves as “decent”, “fair”, “honest” etc. because these are the values which would make us good members of society. But these values are inherently at odds with the urges of the id. The ego therefore regulates both communication and thought, carefully avoiding the inherent contradictions, and diverting or closing down communication whenever there arises the danger of exposure of both the fundamental nature of the id, and the deceptive functions of the ego.

    The functioning of these systems is most easily observed in children before their ego has become an accomplished deceiver. A child who has done something “wrong” always has an excuse, but generally it is far from convincing. They get better at it until they are said to have “grown up”.

    Human are therefore inherently deceptive, of both self and others. It is inevitable, and it gives rise for the need for political organisation. To be effective such organisations must have transparency and accountability, because it is impossible for an individual to reliably detect or correct their own self-deception.

  60. Beliefs and rational positions at first sight appear similar, but are in fact entirely different, almost opposites. Rational positions are attempts to consciously account for facts, and are always provisional, subject to change in the light of further information.

    Beliefs are materials stockpiled by the ego for use in constructing rationalisations – which from children we call excuses. The ego can even use rational positions for this purpose, so the difference between beliefs and rational positions is one of usage rather than content or accuracy.

    This explains why differences of belief are so often at the heart of conflicts, and why beliefs are so often propagated in order to foment conflict, to gain advantage.

    I therefore propose that NO beliefs deserve respect.

  61. Lucky I don’t believe anything then. The Universe contains a “maybe” as Robert Anton Wilson would say 🙂

    Meanwhile back to the apocalypse. Maybe.

    Will we go into a Grand Minimum now? Well nobody knows because we didn’t have modern instruments observing the sun at the time so we can’t be sure how it happens.

    However from monitoring magnetic fields, sunspot polarity and number, UV and X-ray etc., some techniques have been developed and it looks like there will be a solar cycle 25 although latest public research is that it is likely to be even smaller than the one just ending which was itself relatively small.

    In addition it is expected that there will be a deep solar minimum . The period from now to about 2023 or possibly 2024 will likely see the Sun in deep minimum condition with the absolute minimum expected about 2020/2021. Whether this is a precursor towards a full grand minimum in a future cycle nobody knows.

    But the likelihood of an easterly winter setting in earlier in winter and sticking would appeared to be increased over at least that period and the jet-stream holding in the polar air is already weakened by climate change.

    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1702.04414.pdf

    DECIPHERING SOLAR MAGNETIC ACTIVITY: SPOTTING SOLAR CYCLE 25

    We anticipate that a short ascending phase would ap-
    pear to favor a weaker cycle 25 (than 24; cycle 24’s
    ascending phase was shorter than that of cycle 23) as
    there is more overlap time between the oppositely signed bands.

    I think what’s happened is that we’ve been so overdue for a really, really bad winter that people have forgotten they can happen here.

  62. The id-ego model is not a belief. It is a rational position to account for facts, some of which I mentioned in my comments; it accounts for many more besides. If you think it is wrong, you may suggest an alternative model, or present additional or contradictory facts.

    But no one likes the id-ego model, simply because it exposes the id and the deceptive functions of the ego. It punctures our self-image. Consequently, the most powerful theory for understanding human problems is almost universally disregarded. Current civilisation is, therefore, doomed.

  63. Squonk –

    ” I think what’s happened is that we’ve been so overdue for a really, really bad winter that people have forgotten they can happen here ”

    I think you are correct there..I remember it was like last week’s Freeze..Every year, and always lasted longer..The snow is all but gone here now.

    I Was a few monts old Baby of the 62 / 63 winter..atz why I love the Snow n Ice.. The mountains are allways so much more Beautiful when Clad in Snow

    The Warlus is a curious thing.. Missed the Shetlands by a long way.. i Hope it survives.

    This was Me..Chittering as I remove about 12 inches of snow off Ze car –

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW-opgSbzzo

    And on the way out on my visit..One can see the Clyde..with Low tide sandbanks.. Also the wind driven fine ice.. It was Dark when I came Slowly back up there =

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW-opgSbzzo

    Enter Spring..With a Spring in yir Step People

  64. Brian,

    I remember doing a paper round in the most amazing blizzards. Nothing as extended as 47 or 62/63 though.

    Ben – post what you feel you want to 🙂

  65. Agreed Squonk…

    Neary every year we would wak on the frozen dam.. Hear wee cracks. I wann go to Lake Baikal –

    http://ribttes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Breathtaking-Photos-of-Frozen-Lake-Baikal-in-Siberia-Russia-e1415160216424.jpg

    Two weeks from now..say three from our recent snows freeze .. this is Me..on a Clyde Beach..Wee fire.Shorts n teashirts..with the Lady Gang – Listeningwater, Dances in Moonlight, and Sirius.. Isle of Arran in Background..And one year Later..the Same Date Time, Arran was cut off by snow… Sheep were submerged.. FLUCTUATIONS These days –

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/40675776082/in/dateposted-friend/

  66. Clark, for the avoidance of doubt, my previous post was an attempt at humour, following up on your proposal that “NO beliefs deserve respect.”
    Just thought my post looked a bit harsh, if misunderstood! Cheers

  67. JOML, thanks. Your comment seemed a bit ambiguous, humorous agreement, but lumping beliefs in with logical positions, so I expounded.

    The id-ego model is something I would much rather not believe because it is an absolutely dismal outlook, about both others and self. But the vast majority of human behaviour makes it seem very likely.

    Luckily Bjork hadn’t worked it out by the time she wrote this. I love the accompanying video too:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDbPYoaAiyc

  68. Clark

    Glenn’s link is to a “note” that Marx himself never published. It contains ideas he later developed. Gawd knows what someone unfamiliar with Marx would make of it. However, it does discuss an idea, alienation, very connected to your comments about Freud.

    First, my idiots precis of alienation.

    Marx’s Alienation

    Humans have evolved to imaginateively confront nature. We build our own environment. We like making things. It’s what we do.

    Under capitalism we are alienated from our labour because:
    -we no longer make things. At best we make bits of things on a production line.
    -we have no control over our labour. We clock in, we clock out and get told to make bits of things we do not use.
    -the fruits of our labour enrich those who opress us.
    -we relate to each other through the exchange of commodities

    Basically, we do shit work to buy shit things and all end up hating ourselves. Or better put: alienated man is man estranged from his fellow man, from nature, and from himself.

    Freud and Marx

    Freud’s works, along with those by Einstein and Marx, were top of the pile of Nazi book burnings. All three and Darwin were scientific (very arguably not Freud and Marx) but certainly materialist and revolutionary. Freudians, embraced in the early Russian revolution, were later persecuted by Stalin. In democracies pschoanalysis was disarmed by becoming the preserve of the privileged tended by professionals, focused on self help. Of course, it is a very Freudian notion that the strength of the rejection is a measure of the threat presented.

    Freud & Marx both asserted that present-day civilisation is necessarily founded on the repression of humanity’s deepest instincts. That man’s actions are driven by unacknowledged subconscious motivation is both Freidian and Marx (Historical Materialism).

    Freud, unlike Marx, denied the implications of his thinking. Yet even Freud speculated about a post scarcity society where repressing instincts was not necessary.

    However, many of Freuds specific ideas are nonsense. Not everyhting, empathy for example, is born out of sexual repression. Penis envy may be a reflection of patriarchy but we don’t all want to shag mum. etc

    The nexus of Freud and revolutionary thought is fascinating. It is the attempt to understand hidden motivations shaped by a sick society. Some argue that anarchism and communism must be built on resolving our mass hysterias.

  69. JOML

    I thought your comment was clearly a joke. A very good one at that. Freud observed the deeper meaning of jokes, slips of the tongue and dreams.

  70. “FFS, I must remeber to spellcheck.”

    LOL. Compulsive contradictory acts. Very Freudian.

  71. Anyway, on to important matters. Anyone want a cat or three?

    Last night we got another friggin cat. Our neighbour’s mother died. Our neighbour lives with her daughter, granddaughter and four dogs. So we have the cat. Which is very heavily pregnant. I’ve been up much of the night waiting for kittens.

  72. Clark

    BTW Freud too was pessimistic. But that was because he failed to recognise the possibility of social change.

    Marx. More optimistic than Freud.

  73. Alienation. Separation between the person taking action, and the effects of the action. Yes, this is a primary problem; a problem that’s increasing as systems of people become more organised, larger, and more powerful.

    A particularly extreme example is that it is an essential component of modern warfare, yet there is also a great similarity in the meat industry.

    It has some odd effects. When we send e-mails these days, included links are often expanded by adding material from the page linked to into the e-mail. This proves that software at the e-mail provider is scanning the e-mails. No one cares, because it seems impersonal, distant. But try asking those same people for their password to their e-mail account, so that you can read their e-mails.

    Why do people trust faceless companies of hundreds of people more than they trust their “personal friends”?

  74. https://www.entsoe.eu/news-events/announcements/announcements-archive/Pages/News/2018-03-06-press-release-continuing-frequency-deviation-in-the-continental-european-power-system.aspx

    Press Release] Continuing frequency deviation in the Continental European Power System originating in Serbia/Kosovo: Political solution urgently needed in addition to technical

    The Continental European (CE) Power System -a large synchronized area stretching from Spain to Turkey and from Poland to Netherlands; encompassing 25 countries- is experiencing a continuous system frequency deviation from the mean value of 50 Hz, and this since mid of January 2018.

    The power deviations are originating from the control area called Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro (SMM block) and specifically Kosovo and Serbia.

    The power deviations have led to a slight decrease in the electric frequency average.

    This average frequency deviation, that has never happened in any similar way in the CE Power system, must cease. The missing energy amounts currently to 113 GWh. The question of who will compensate for this loss has to be answered.

  75. https://www.rt.com/business/420912-gas-crisis-europe-russia-ukraine/

    No chance of another European gas crisis, because this time EU in full control of Ukraine – analyst

    Brussels will not allow a repeat of the January 2006 gas crisis, when Ukraine allegedly siphoned deliveries destined for Europe, predicts TeleTrade analyst, Petr Pushkarev.

    That is because the current Ukrainian government is completely dependent on the EU, both financially and politically, he told RT.

    “Europe has all the levers of influence on Ukraine, something not seen in 2006 or in 2009. And of course, Europe will not weaken pressure on Ukraine on the gas issue, where it directly relates to the interests of the EU itself. Therefore, Gazprom, severing the contract with Ukraine’s Naftogaz, knows what it is doing, and does not take any risks,” Pushkarev said.

    Last week, Russia’s Gazprom said it would cancel its contract with Ukraine’s Naftogaz for the supply and transit of natural gas to the country. The announcement came after the Stockholm Arbitration ordered Naftogaz to pay Gazprom $2 billion, while ordering the Russian company to compensate Naftogaz to the tune of $4.67 billion.

  76. https://www.entsog.eu/publications/security-of-gas-supply

    After the gas crises of 2006 and 2009, the EU reinforced its security of gas supply notably by adopting the first security of gas supply Regulation No 994/2010 in 2010. On 28th October 2017 revised Regulation No. (EU) 2017/1938 concerning measures to safeguard the security of gas supply and repealing Regulation (EU) No 994/2010 entered into force which aims at preventing gas supply crises and appropriate actions from all relevant stakeholders

    …The Regulation introduces for the first time, the solidarity principle. Member States will have to help their neighbours in the event of a serious gas supply crisis in order to avoid any possibility of disruption for the European households. Securing energy supplies to the European consumers is one of the cornerstones of the Energy Union and a key priority of the European Commission.

    Just confirms that the EU was obliged to save Theresa May by responding last week to keep our lights on. What they must be saying behind closed doors?

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