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The End of the Ash?

Ash dieback

Ever since 2012 when Ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus Fraxineus) was discovered in some young trees in a Buckinghamshire nursery, the species has been under an official death warrant.

The problem with these pronouncements is that they do not always fulfill the prophesy, though I hesitate to say this one will not.

The warnings from DEFRA and the Forestry Commission are as much about isolating and destroying affected trees and slowing the spread of the disease in the hope that good management will slow or halt the spread.

It has worked, as in east Anglia where the worst outbreaks have occurred, it has not spread at anything like the rate projected and areas told they were next on the list have so far mainly remained unscathed.

What most of these measures do is buy time, there is no chemical cure for this disease or certainly not one that is practical in terms of cost and practicality, but buying time gives the scientists the chance to not only find a potential cure or limiter but also to assess if all the various clones of Ash are susceptible.…

Not an English country garden

I often go to Cherie’s Place to see what delights she shows. Her travels are well documented and I confess to knowing more about Belgian townscapes from her efforts to educate me than from my own experiences. Ancient English cities and country gardens too, as she often visits hoity-toity places on the ‘National Register’ and firmly in the English psyche.

She has kept us all up to date on her  nieghbour’s oak tree which graces the corner of her garden  and which has had a beard-trim lately.  And she is keen that we see what she sees from her windows.

I do not dare show mine.…

An oasis of civility in an increasingly uncivil world

Jesse‘s tagline does make one realize that perhaps, sometimes, it’s better, as JD used to say, to forget the vicissitudes out there and concentrate on more pleasant things.

To paraphrase Edmund Burke though – we can’t, otherwise the EU will never get brought down, the PTB would simply transpose it into something else.  Were it not for UKIP and other activists, across the board, this debate would never have arisen.

However, with the sun out and the boat beckoning, time for more pleasant thoughts:

Do you see an animal’s face here, by the way?

summer cairn

En Primeur

Bordeaux_Lot 2015_102

Ever since the great ’82 vintage in Bordeaux, buying wine “en primeur” has been an increasing yearly ritual until recently.

En Primeur is the buying of wine before it is released to the market, the buying being based on experts opinion of the wine in cask before it is finally bottled and sometimes later, this of course means having a lot of faith in the experts’ opinion and even among them, opinions can vary.…

The Strépy-Thieu Boat Lift

For as long as one can remember, the people of Belgium wanted to have an inland waterway that connected the Meuse river with the Scheldt river. With the start of the industrial age, a navigable waterway proved essential for the transport of coal and, in general, for the economic development of the province of Hainaut. Finally in 1879, it was decided that a canal would be built, but there were some technical challenges that needed to be overcome first. The major problem was the height difference between the rivers, which at 96 meters would require as many as 32 locks, which was prohibitively expensive and therefore not feasible.

Read on.


The archaeological blues

Paleoanthropology Division
Smithsonian Institute
207 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20078

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled “211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull.” We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents “conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago.”…

Weather modification


Haiku points to the article from All Africa, in which:

A TOP Zanu PF official’s hypothesis for the failure of the party’s land redistribution programme is that Britain and America have imposed sanctions on the country’s weather patterns.

Pressed to explain the decline in agricultural production, Ndlovu said Western countries are tampering with the country’s rainfall patterns in order to sabotage the land reform programme.

Haiku commented: “And I’ll bet you thought that it was all due to global warming,” to which I say not so fast.…



Forecasting looks at data about the Sun’s activity and other radiation measurements. The ‘art’ of scientific data analysis is getting quite refined.

Forecasts in a simple graphic manner can be seen below.…

Real science

Chuckles sends this from Robert Brown, Duke University Physics Department, quoted in Watts Up:

Physicists therefore usually know better than to believe the very stuff that they peddle. When I teach students introductory physics, I tell them up front — “Everything I’m going to teach you over the next two semesters is basically wrong — but it works, and works amazingly well, right up to where it doesn’t work and we have to find a better, broader explanation.”

I also tell them not to believe anything I tell them because I’m telling them, and I’m the professor and therefore I know and its up to them to parrot me and believe it or else. I tell them quite the opposite. Believe me because what I teach you makes sense (is consistent), corresponds at least roughly with your own everyday experience, and because when you check it in the labs and by doing computations that can be compared to e.g.