On friday, the last night of the bumps loomed like the vast wall of black cloud I could see through the glass wall of our atrium. Fortunately the rainstorms were mostly over by 5 and even the Ladies second division got a clear row. Even more forunately the eventual results weren’t too black. This time I even remembered to charge the cox-box so didn’t end up hoarse (I’m sure I remember the good old days when only M1 had a cox-box and even then most of the time it didn’t work).

Last night of the bumps traditionally sees crews, especially from the lower divisions, dolled up in war paint. Ladies 2 certainly did this, selecting bright red lipstick, false eyelashes, rouge, haircurlers and headscarves. For those in the right groups, see here for the proof (or here for me coxing. You’ll note my lean – this isn’t because I’m looking round, its because I’m trying to balance the boat. Pull up strokeside!). I got to cox in bright lipstick (do you know, I’ve never worn lipstick before?). Alas, the end result was not too disimilar – another bump down – but after a stop at the beer tree we were agreed that we were not too dismayed, having got considerably further down the course than any previous attempt.

Which left the serious business of M1, so I wiped off the lipstick and we rowed off in a boat imbued with luck, since M2 had bumped up again (in one of those curious twists of fate they had bumped up on wednesday, then been overbumped down on thursday, and then got to bump the same boat down again on friday). John-the-coach had bought spoons, and painted them up in club colours – it works for Kings, he said: when he did it for them a few years ago they didn’t go down on the fourth day, and though he kept the spoons against further use he never had any cause to need them. And so it proved for us. Cantabs slowly closed, but the race was largely decided on grassy corner when their cox made a regrettable steering decision that left them only just making it around the corner, with the coxes hand in the water to slew them around, not a situation calculated for maximum speed. After that all was well, we held them comfortably, and Cantabs were then spectacularly caught by 99’s halfway down the reach. We didn’t really appreciate it when our cox decided that we were rwoing so well that we might as well continue firm past the top finish all the way to the beer tree.

After that we won the “last crew to leave the beer tree” competition, strapped on the lights since it had become dark, and headed off (shakily, since as is tradiational we all swapped sides and put our cox at stroke) to return our lovely boat to Trinity.

Full results are at You will find no particular reason to scroll down to the table at the bottom of the page 😦 – a fine tribute to my captaincy this year.

More exciting is the City 3 bumpscam, which was thursday, and makes us look better than it felt (other than the being caught up bit, of course).

Meanwhile: I’ll be having a few days off blogging in favour of a visit to the Principality.

[Update: here we are;


Tom “one lung” Watt; Andy Southgate; James Tidy; Ralph Hancock; Yours Truely; Dave Richards; Chris Wood; Ollie Crabb; Andy Hurst. Thanks to the passing photographer.]

Sea ice again

Just a quick note prompted by the comments: we’ve slipped below 2008 and are heading below 2006. A long way short of 2007 at the moment. Still all to play for.

[Update: as PH points out, 2009 is now not exciting at all, having rejoined “the pack”, albeit at the bottom edge. 2007 still looks very much like an outlier. Meanwhile, the July ARCUS report is out. Nothing very exciting there I think. I notice that they still persist in nonsense like “All estimates are well below the 1979-2007 September climatological mean value of 6.7 million square kilometers” – this is nonsense not because it is wrong, but because it is the bleedin’ obvious. No-one believes a return to the long-term average is going to happen. The correct “null hypothesis” is a return to the 1979-2007 (or 6) *trend* -W]

No blades for us this year

Ah well, it isn’t looking like a good year. I’ve now gone down 4 places in 2 boats in two days… and none of the rows were very long. Ladies two, who I’m coxing, got taken by two fast crews fairly quickly; not a lot to be done about that, my coxing was OK in terms of steering and in terms of patter; they didn’t row badly for their division, we were just too slow. M1 yesterday got eaten by City 2 rather convincingly; but at least we rowed well and were caught by a good crew. Today alas we didn’t row well – crab off the start (not me!) and failed to recover – and got caught by a not particularly exciting crew. some faint hope of a return match tomorrow.

For those interested, pix are at In particular this is us sitting sadly on the side having been bumped yesterday, watching with no great interest as Champs 1 (who got us today) row past.

On the plus side, M2 rowed over yesterday and bumped up today – I should have stayed in M2 where I was happy.

Paul Holland (M3 stroke) has a blog for the CEN which introduces the subject to newcomers in typical Paul-like language. Paul links to which is some Pathe archive footage of bumps in 1933 – good to see that the art of late conceeding isn’t a new one.

Quiet on the river yesterday

Yesterday was appalling weather-wise: lightning and thunderstorms all day long and torrential rain. At work, the man in the yellow jacket showed up and stuck his head into the ceiling void – this is a sign of really heavy rain. He doesn’t seem to do anything – its more like the seaweed you hang up curling; or the little figures in the barometer who go in and out; as an indication of the weather. This wouldn’t matter much except bumps is next week and we need to get our outings in, and our roving reporter on the river bank (Emma in nb Kestrel) told us that the river was over its bank and creeping up over the hard. Fortunately it stopped raining just in time, and we only got our delicate little feet a tiny bit wet. Oddly enough it was really quiet out and we had a good undisturbed outing.

My photo shows evil City blades (boo hiss) and the beauteous Amy umbrellaing off to prepare James-the-Cox’s birthday cake wot I also photographed, though that will be of no interest to people who weren’t there. Just like the rest of this entry :-).

Communicating Science

PD has an article about Communicating Science whose title I’ve shamelessly stolen, and a follow up imaginatively titled Communicating Science 2. Since he sideswipes Mooney, I’m all for it 🙂

I wrote an exciting and insightful comment there, which like everything I write anywhere got misinterpreted. So I’ve cleaned it up and put it here:

“Scientists should talk more” is (I think) just excuse making. In much the same way that you can be sure that when GW really starts causing trouble [see folks, I do believe really, I haven’t quite gone over to the Dark Side yet, and I still don’t understand RF], all the right-wing conservative folk will be laying into the scientists for failing to warn them loudly enough that there was a problem.

The clue is in the job title. Scientists do science. They are good at it (well, the good ones are. Just like anything else, there is a wide spectrum). They usually aren’t good at communication (do *you* remember the science-types at school?). People who are good at communication are the despised PR-types, journalists (ahem. sorry about that one), marketroids, etc. etc.. In fact, we science-types got an excellent lesson in the value of journalists communication skills when putting together the “global cooling” paper, which John Fleck immeasurably improved. But he didn’t do the science for it (well, to be fair, it was a historical-review type paper not science anyway).

What the scientists are saying is well known. You can find it in IPCC if you want. All govts employ enough speechwriters and tame semi-scientists to translate it into politician-speak if they want to hear. Generally govts don’t want to, because they know full well what the answer is: slow down, less economic frenzy, less bloated consumption. You see it written in minature in fisheries policy, where the science is if anything even clearer, and ignored.

I’m not saying that scientists shouldn’t talk. When I was one, I did, though in venues of my choice (and a couple of times on the radio, though that was uncomfortable). Anyone who wants to should. But don’t expect any upsurge in talking to lead to a change in policy, because lack of words isn’t what is holding policy back.

While I’m here, and in an attempt to distract you from my illogic, this reminds me of something I heard on the radio today: yet another report, this time to the UK govt, about how to prevent the banking crisis blah blah wibble, and how boards need better non-execs, blah. It is all nonsense. They are companies, dedicated to making money – that is capitalism. If they think taking risks is going to make them piles of dosh, they will find a way to do so. If you don’t want them to take risks, you need to find a way to make it unprofitable – perhaps by not propping the fools up when they collapse in a heap. But to do that you then need to make it possible to allow them to fail, which takes vigorous careful action, not something govts are over-fond of.

M1 and W2

For those accustomed to a daily diet of Stoat, my apologies. It is nearly bumps (next week) and M1 is finally getting its 5 outings a week in, so I’ve been fairly busy. Not only do I have to row, but I’m also faced with the onerous task of being sociable in the Old Spring afterwards. Its a hard life. I’ve been forced to row stroke side, and have finally become comfortable there, just in time to swap myself onto bowside when our injured hero returned. We are finally starting to live up to our menacing black boat.

By way of an interesting contrast, I’m also coxing W2. I think I’m probably not quite the heaviest person in the boat, though I’m not sure. Having been shouted at by various coxes over the years it is fun to realise that coxing is a skill in a way that I hadn’t thought of. Not just the steering – I think I can cope with that – nor even the reactions in the race – don’t know yet – but in the line of patter you have to feed to a crew to keep it going. An ideal crew, of course, knows just what it is about, how long it is rowing for, and unhelped will get to the finish line in a state of exhaustion and collapse. Most crews will gently fade as one, then another, then finally all rowers slowly decide to wimp out and let others take the strain. Not to mention the way technique collapses under pressure. They need to be refreshed, reminded to row together, and in a way that sustains their interest.