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Saturday, June 21, 2008


OK here is my reason why the Scottish Parliament, which won awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects (they held their award dinner a few hundred yards away & the architect's widow flew in so isn't it lucky that award, not known in advance, went that way) & brickbats from the public, is so deeply naff.

Look at the pole holding up the canopy. The bigger canopy since there are 2 which seems redundant. Now look at the bar holding it up. What is holding the bar up?

The answer is a very thin piece of metal which bends into the supporting strut. So all the weight of the canopy & the thick support bar flows through a very much thinner (1/2" ?) support on the bend where the stress is heaviest. Or to put it another way all that that canopy actually needs is a very thing support these 5 big bars are just there for show.

In fact the canopy could be supported by suspension wires from above which would be much more elegant.

The whole thing is like that overdressed, cluttered with function irrelevant as long as it looks big & yet it doesn't look big it merely looks fussy & overdecorated.

At the time I thought they should have blatantly gone for a skyscraper as high as the top of Edinburgh Castle up the Royal Mile. That would have been impressive & quite deliberately out of keeping with its surroundings, unlike this thing which is merely accidentally out of keeping. Since that would have produced a large amount of office space in the lower flours, which Edinburgh is short of, which could be leased or sold that would have produced a Parliament which made money. Think of how impressive a debating chamber set on the top floors of something more impressive than the gherkin would have been.

They could have hired Richard Rogers or Foster to design something more impressive than the Gherkin but no - Donald Dewar, who wanted to spend £400 million on a monument to himself insisted on getting a Spanish architect, not a particularly good Spanish architect but from a city, Barcelona, which does good architecture.

So we got something bad, & expensive. We got lied to repeatedly by Dewar & the bureaucracy about the cost, which, after enquiries, turned out to be nobody's fault at all. Then the roof fell in. Well actually what happened is that one of the horribly expensive roof beams, which, as with the canopy serves no useful purpose but looks fussy fell off when the glue holding it there failed.

I feel a metaphor for how these numpties run the country coming on.

Friday, June 20, 2008


New research compiled by Australian scientist Dr. Tom Chalko shows that global seismic activity on Earth is now five times more energetic than it was just 20 years ago.

The research proves that destructive ability of earthquakes on Earth increases alarmingly fast and that this trend is set to continue, unless the problem of "global warming" is comprehensively and urgently addressed."

Or at least so said CBS until a short while ago they dropped it. No retraction let alone apology has been forthcoming. They believe, probably correctly, they can just get away with it & move on to the next lie, as indeed the media has been doing for decades.

It will be obvious to anybody with as much scientific knowledge as an intelligent 10 year old schoolboy that global warming of a fraction of a degree, in the atmosphere, can have absolutely no effect on the Earth's core at many hundreds of degrees.

To give the BBC all the credit they are due - during a programme "raising awareness" of warming last year I did hear one female presenter, while delineating all the dreadful stuff global warming was doing, ask her resident expert to explain how global warming had caused the Asian Tsunami. The expert, having some actual awareness of warming did rather shamefacedly admit it was the one thing they couldn't blame it on.

CBS not only didn't have as much knowledge as this, they clearly made no attempt whatsoever to check Dr Tom in any way.

Dr Tom turns out to be equally at home giving his scientific opinion on personal auras, Kirilian healing, Jesus' tomb being in Japan, meditation, telepathy & astral travel as even a short check by CBS would have shown.

This is an example of a journalistic trick. Journalists never, well hardly ever, make up stories themselves but they can choose to accept, or not accept, anything somebody else says (even if it is only after being asked "would you say....). This is how they get all these headlines which say "scientists now confirm that global warming/salt/passive smoking/AIDS/scepticism/not wearing a string vest is worse than previously thought" - just choose the "scientists" & censor any mention that 10s of thousands ofscientists say the opposite.

Having once, for a few hours, been taken in by a much better constructed hoax which I immediately acknowledged I am available for a moderate fee if CBS wish advice on how to do professional journalism. It will be interesting to see if the Guardian report this piece of "environmental" nonsense as they exageratedly reported the previous hoax. It turned out to be fronted by a Guardian journalist & had been done to take in the sceptical community & prove how credulous we were - in fact it very largely proved the opposite & certainly far less credulous than CBS.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Field of Golden Rice genetically modified to have more protein which could allow malnourished children to grow up without protein deficiency brain damage

The Environment Minister says of GM foods

"There is a growing question of whether GM crops can help the developing world out of the current food price crisis. It is a question that we as a nation need to ask ourselves. The debate is already under way. Many people concerned about poverty in the developing world and the environment are wrestling with this issue."

The Prime minister believes

A THOUSAND new nuclear power stations are needed across the world to tackle the oil crisis, Gordon Brown warned yesterday.
As the global fuel crisis deepened, the Prime Minister called for a long-term response to the problems which have sent UK petrol prices soaring to almost £1.30 a litre.

He said a new generation of nuclear reactors – to add to the 400 around the globe at present – and a 700 per cent increase in renewable energy would help "lessen our addiction to oil" and provide Britain with secure energy supplies.

It is good to see them taking a principled stand against Ludditism & very good to see that their focus groups must be telling them popular opinion has turned heavily against Luddite eco-fascists. On the other hand it would have been nicer if they had had the same principles years ago. There is no scientific justification for saying there is a "growing" question about whether GM can produce more food - this has been certain for years - & if we had started on replacing our reactors back when these same people were destroying our nuclear industry we would not be facing blackouts now.

From the end of a 4 page news story about Max Tegmark a physicist who believes in a somewhat more esoteric multiverse than the Everett multiple universe theory I have written on before.

But why do some equations describe our universe so perfectly and others not so much?
Stephen Hawking once asked it this way: “What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?” If I am right and the cosmos is just mathematics, then no fire-breathing is required. A mathematical structure doesn’t describe a universe, it is a universe. The existence of the level IV multiverse also answers another question that has bothered people for a long time. John Wheeler put it this way: Even if we found equations that describe our universe perfectly, then why these particular equations and not others? The answer is that the other equations govern other, parallel universes, and that our universe has these particular equations because they are just statistically likely, given the distribution of mathematical structures that can support observers like us.

The article starts here.

Incidentally for all those "environmentalists" who say that science only counts if it is peer reviewed & published (one respected moron on an "environmentalist site |I was banned from recently said the Oregon Petition didn't count because it wasn't peer reviewed) may I point out Dr Tegmark's difficulties inn getting this published though not in getting more mainstream work done.

"Right from the start you tried to get this radical idea of yours published. Were you worried about whether it would affect your career?
I anticipated problems and did not submit until I had accepted a postdoctoral appointment at Princeton University. My first paper got rejected by three journals. Finally I got a good referee report from Annals of Physics, but the editor there rejected the paper as being too speculative.

Wait—that is not supposed to happen. If the referee likes a paper, it usually gets accepted.That’s what I thought. I was fortunate to be friends with John Wheeler, a Princeton theoretical physicist and one of my greatest physics heroes, who recently passed away. When I showed him the rejection letter, he said, “‘Extremely speculative’? Bah!” Then he reminded me that some of the original papers on quantum mechanics were also considered extremely speculative. So I wrote an appeal to Annals of Physics and included Wheeler’s comments. Finally the editors there published it."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The ugly term “ethnically clean” first appears in a 1982 New York Times article describing not some Serbian repression of Albanians, but the Albanian secessionist program of eliminating Serbs from Kosovo in order:

“to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic and then the merger with Albania to form a greater Albania.”

For obvious reasons not even the NYT mentions the NYT's publication of that as part of an article detailing the trouble immigration was producing in Kosovo. All such history has now been airbrushed out of western media history.


The sort of stuff that doesn't get on telly.

A few months ago, I had plotted the Average Geomagnetic Planetary Index (Ap) which is a measure of the solar magnetic field strength but also daily index determined from running averages of eight Ap index values. Call it a common yardstick (or meterstick) for solar magnetic activity.

I had noted that there was a curious step function in 2005, almost as if something had “switched off”....

As of June 2008, we now have 32 months of the Ap hovering around a value just slightly above zero, with occasional blips of noise.

What is most striking is that since 1932, there have not been ANY years prior to 2007 that have zero data. The closest was 1996:

1996 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1

2005 3 0 2 1 3 2 2 2 3 0 0 0 18
2006 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 5
2007 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2008 0 0 0 0 0 0

Now we have almost two years.

It does look like there is a very strong chance the sun is going into a quiet phase. If so global warming will be the very least of our problems. I don't want to replace one hysteria with another & we are still dealing with speculation rather than anything close to certainty but it is still a proper reason for concern.

Certainly cold periods are a lot worse than warm ones & the Little Ice Age was not fun.

The solution is technology. I don't mean pumping out more CO2 though that wouldn't do any harm I mean stuff like building enough nuclear capacity to not only keep the lights on but to keep us warm. Beyond that the best place to terraform the planet from is from orbit. One cure to warming was orbiting sunshades - a cure for cooling would be to turn them round & use them as orbital mirrors. A few hundred square miles of tinfoil (you can build enormous structures of very thin tinfoil when you are in a place with no weather or gravity). The bottom line is that we have the capacity to become a truly spacefaring species now & we should do it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

SNEK ($s needed for each kilowatt-hour) COMPARED TO PER CAPITA WEALTH

Lets see how these figures pan out:

STATE-------PER CAPITA-------------SNEK
5. Norway 46,300 $----------------$2.17
6. Ireland 44,500 $---------------$7.75
7. United States 44,000 $---------$3.62
11. Iceland 38,000 $--------------$1.50
12. Hong Kong 37,300 $------------$7.30
13. Denmark 37,000 $--------------$6.00
14. Canada 35,600 $---------------$2.34
16. Austria 34,600 $--------------$5.30
18. Switzerland 34,000 $----------$5.17
19. Finland 33,700 $--------------$2.15
20. Australia 33,300 $------------$3.47
21. Japan 33,100 $----------------$4.40
22. Belgium 33,000 $--------------$4.53
23. Sweden 32,200 $---------------$2.50
24. Netherlands 32,100 $----------$5.91
25. Germany 31,900 $--------------$5.16
26. United Kingdom 31,800 $-------$6.14
27. Singapore 31,400 $------------$6.33
28. France 31,100 $---------------$4.54
29. Italy 30,200 $----------------$5.82
32. Taiwan 29,500 $---------------$3.14
33. Spain 27,400 $----------------$5.56
34. Israel 26,800 $---------------$4.33
35. New Zealand 26,200 $----------$3.19
40. Korea, South 24,500 $---------$3.26
42. Greece 24,000 $---------------$6.01
44. Kuwait 23,100 $---------------$3.61
46. Czech Republic 21,900 $-------$4.15
52. Portugal 19,800 $-------------$4.71
54. Puerto Rico 19,300 $----------$3.53
56. Slovakia 18,200 $-------------$4.40
57. Hungary 17,600 $--------------$5.33
62. Argentina 15,200 $------------$5.89
66. Poland 14,300 $---------------$5.17
68. Saudi Arabia 13,600 $---------$3.88
70. South Africa 13,300 $---------$1.94
71. Malaysia 12,900 $-------------$4.15
72. Chile 12,700 $----------------$4.81
74. Libya 12,300 $----------------$4.16
75. Russia 12,200 $---------------$2.12
79. Bulgaria 10,700 $-------------$3.32
Mexico 10,700 $-----------------$7.34
81. Kazakhstan 9,400 $------------$2.21
82. Thailand 9,200 $--------------$4.39
83. Romania 9,100 $---------------$4.17
84. Turkey 9,000 $----------------$6.88
85. Brazil 8,800 $----------------$4.99
Tunisia 8,800 $-----------------$7.00
88. Iran 8,700 $------------------$3.84
89. Colombia 8,600 $--------------$8.21
96. Belarus 8,100 $---------------$3.62
97. Ukraine 7,800 $---------------$1.76
99. China 7,700 $-----------------$2.45
100. Algeria 7,600 $--------------$8.03
104. Venezuela 7,200 $------------$4.59
107. Peru 6,600 $-----------------$9.50
118. Philippines 5,000 $----------$6.12
125. Sri Lanka 4,700 $-----------$11.57
126. Morocco 4,600 $--------------$5.92
129. Angola 4,400 $--------------$45.50
Serbia 4,300$ not known
131. Egypt 4,200 $----------------$4.81
132. Syria 4,100 $----------------$2.56
134. Indonesia 3,900 $------------$7.75
137. India 3,800 $----------------$6.12
143. Vietnam 3,100 $--------------$4.33
147. Iraq 2,900 $-----------------$2.83
154. Pakistan 2,600 $-------------$6.11
158. Sudan 2,400 $---------------$27.00
160. Bangladesh 2,300 $----------$10.89
173. Burma 1,800 $---------------$22.75
181. Nigeria 1,500 $-------------$17.18
205. Afghanistan 800 $-----------$40.00

That's more like it. So dividing it into 6 lots of 6 (excluding Serbia) we find
Average snek for top 12 (Norway-Japan) = 4.26
for next 12 (Belgium-New Zealand) = 4.76
for next 12 (South Korea-South Africa) = 4.32
for next 12 (Malaysia-Tunisia) = 4.62
for next 12 (Iran-Angola) = 9.26 (even without the Angola figure it would have been 5.96)
for next 12 (Egypt-Afghanistan) = 12.71

So we have a slightly lower snek at the wealthiest levels generally rising, though not greater than the level of random variation, until we reach income levels of about figures of about $7,500 at which point the snek rises abruptly.

Incidentally had Ireland, Hong Kong & Denmark not been in the first section it would have shown a figure of 3.34. Had the UK & Singapore not been in the 2nd section it would have had a snek of 4.46. One shouldn't really take out inconvenient figures & I am not putting these up as "real" figures however I think Hong Kong & Singapore which are non-nuclear because of lack of space & Denmark & Ireland out of ideological reasons & Britain which, for the same ideological reasons is letting our supply disappear could reasonably be taken out.

We may be seeing 2 lines compounding. A graph of well run countries would show the snek reducing to much lower levels at the wealthiest end (as Finland has managed) but there is also a line for the political influence of the "environmentalist" movement who, in promoting anti-nuclear & "alternative power" policies push costs up & consumption down. Because this is an essentially parasitic movement which appeals to people with few real problems to worry about this occurs much more in wealthy countries.

The last section may also be overstating the relationship between poverty super-low electricity consumption. It can be divided into poor countries which nonetheless have infrastructure & governments at least trying & places where neither electricity nor the government's writ runs very much outside the capital city (Angola also fits this). I think any country with a Snek above Peru at 9.50 is likely to be a very dangerous place.

PS I am now reading a US govt report on the increasing number of "failed states" & what the US cavalry should do about it. On p26 they mention is passing "One reason for the resurgence of Sendero Luminoso in Peru, for example, has been that in most respects, the state does not exist outside Lima" which reinforces the conclusion I came to in my previous paragraph about states with sneks of 9.5 & above being ones where the rule of law is breaking down. This has consequences for countries such as the UK with a snek of 2/3rds of that & the looming closure of 40% of our electric power.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

SNEK ($s needed for each kilowatt hour) COMPARED TO GROWTH RATE

Having done my $nek figures for 75 countries I have decided to see how they correlate with growth rates taken from GeographyIQ. A lot of the fastest growing countries are tiny & I am omitting them as being prone to being statistical anomalies anyway or having discovered oil:

STATE-------GROWTH RATE-----------SNEK
4. Angola 15.00 %----------------$45.50*!
7. Kuwait 12.60 %-----------------$3.61*
12. China 10.70 %-----------------$2.45
14. Kazakhstan 10.60 %------------$2.21*
16. Venezuela 10.30 %-------------$4.59*
18. Belarus 9.90 %----------------$3.62
19. Sudan 9.60 %-----------------$27.00*
22. India 9.20 %------------------$6.12
23. United Arab Emirates 8.90 %---$3.17*
25. Argentina 8.50 %--------------$5.89
27. Slovakia 8.30 %---------------$4.40
28. Vietnam 8.20 %----------------$4.33
30. Afghanistan 8.00 %-----------$40.00!
Peru 8.00 %---------------------$9.50
33. Singapore 7.90 %--------------$6.33
38. Romania 7.70 %----------------$4.17
39. Sri Lanka 7.50 %-------------$11.57
46. Ukraine 7.10 %----------------$1.76
51. Colombia 6.80-----------------$8.21
Egypt 6.80 %------------------$4.81
Hong Kong 6.80 %----------------$7.30
55. Russia 6.70 %-----------------$2.12*
57. Bangladesh 6.60 %------------$10.89
Pakistan 6.60 %-----------------$6.11
62. Bulgaria 6.30 %---------------$3.32
66. Czech Republic 6.10 %---------$4.15
Libya 6.10 %--------------------$4.16*
68. Ireland 6.00 %----------------$7.75
73. Malaysia 5.90 %---------------$4.15
Serbia 5.90 %---------------not given
75. Poland 5.80 %-----------------$5.17
80. Finland 5.50 %----------------$2.11
Indonesia 5.50 %----------------$7.75*
85. Philippines 5.40 %------------$6.12
87. Nigeria 5.30 %---------------$17.18*
Turkey 5.30 %-------------------$6.88
93. Tunisia 5.10 %----------------$7.00
97. South Africa 5.00 %-----------$1.94
103. Israel 4.80 %----------------$4.33
Korea, South 4.80 %-------------$3.26
Mexico 4.80 %-------------------$7.34
Thailand 4.80 %-----------------$4.39
107. Sweden 4.70 %----------------$2.50
109. Norway 4.60 %----------------$2.17
Taiwan 4.60 %-------------------$3.14
120. Iran 4.30 %------------------$3.84
121. Chile 4.20 %-----------------$4.81
Greece 4.20 %-------------------$6.02
124. Ecuador 4.10 %--------------$11.00
129. Hungary 3.90 %---------------$5.33
Spain 3.90 %--------------------$5.56
134. Brazil 3.70 %----------------$4.99
138. Syria 3.50 %-----------------$2.56
146. Austria 3.30 %---------------$5.30
147. Denmark 3.20 %---------------$6.00
United States 3.20 %------------$3.62
153. Algeria 3.00 %---------------$8.03
Belgium 3.00 %------------------$4.53
Burma 3.00 %-------------------$22.75
159. Netherlands 2.90 %-----------$5.91
160. United Kingdom 2.80 %--------$6.14
161. Australia 2.70 %-------------$3.47
Canada 2.70 %-------------------$2.34*
Germany 2.70 %------------------$5.16
Switzerland 2.70 %--------------$5.17
166. Iceland 2.60 %---------------$1.50
170. Iraq 2.40 %------------------$2.83*!
Saudi Arabia 2.40 %-------------$3.83*
176. Japan 2.20 %-----------------$4.40
177. France 2.10 %----------------$4.54
184. Italy 1.90 %-----------------$5.82
188. New Zealand 1.50 %-----------$3.19
189. Portugal 1.30 %--------------$4.71
200. Puerto Rico 0.50 %-----------$3.35

I have to admit that excluding those marked"*" for being oil rich & "!" for "recovering" from war I don't see much of a trend. China, Ukraine & Russia, with low Sneks are all in the top 66: but Finland, South Africa, Sweden & Norway, all with rates less than 3 are in the next 66 & Syria & Iceland are in the last 1/3rd. It may well be that a number of factors are being co-mingled such as the high readings for subsistence economies. the fact that faster growing economies will, if they don't keep increasing generation capacity, automatically see the ratio of GDP to capacity increase; that a 1% miscalculation in figures will move about 20 points up or down. It is probably true that one year's figures are a snapshot not trend. Ah well back to the drawing board. Tomorrow I will check Snek against per capita GDP.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

S.N.E.K. - $s Needed for Each Kilowatt-hour

I thought if I am going to write on this measure I should come up with an acronym. I admit to being an old Judge Dredd fan, where they have used Snek as a swear word for decades. Lets consider it retroactively adding a bit of economics to the governance of Mega-City One

26 Thailand $ 519--------118--------$4.39
27 South Africa $ 467----241--------$1.94
28 Pakistan $ 410---------67--------$6.11
29 Egypt $ 404------------84--------$4.81
30 Belgium $ 376----------83--------$4.53
31 Malaysia $ 357---------79--------$4.51
32 Sweden $ 335----------134--------$2.50
33 Venezuela $ 335--------73--------$4.59
34 Greece $ 325-----------54--------$6.02
35 Ukraine $ 320---------182--------$1.76
36 Colombia $ 320---------39--------$8.21
37 Austria $ 318----------60--------$5.30
38 Switzerland $ 300------58--------$5.17
39 Philippines $ 300------49--------$6.12
40 Hong Kong $ 292--------40--------$7.30
41 Nigeria $ 292----------17-------$17.18
42 Czech Republic $ 249---60--------$4.15
43 Norway $ 247----------114--------$2.17
44 Romania $ 246----------59--------$4.17
45 Chile $ 231------------48--------$4.81
46 Portugal $ 231---------49--------$4.71
47 Singapore $ 228--------36--------$6.33
48 Algeria $ 225----------28--------$8.03
49 Vietnam $ 221----------51--------$4.33
50 Peru $219--------------23--------$9.50
51 Bangladesh $ 207-------19-------$10.89
52 Denmark $ 204----------34--------$6.00
53 Hungary $ 191----------36--------$5.33
54 Ireland $ 186----------24--------$7.75
55 Israel $ 186-----------43--------$4.33
56 Finland $ 186----------88--------$2.11
57 Kazakhstan $ 168-------76--------$2.21
58 United Arab Emirates $ 168---53--$3.17
59 Kuwait $ 130-----------36--------$3.61
60 Morocco $ 125----------21--------$5.92
61 New Zealand $ 118------37--------$3.19
62 Slovakia $ 110---------25--------$4.40
63 Belarus $ 105----------29--------$3.62
64 Iraq $ 102-------------36--------$2.83
65 Ecuador $ 99------------9-------$11.00
66 Angola $ 91-------------2-------$45.50
67 Burma $ 91--------------4-------$22.75
68 Syria $ 87-------------34--------$2.56
69 Bulgaria $ 86----------37--------$3.32
70 Sri Lanka $ 81----------7-------$11.57
71 Sudan $ 81--------------3-------$27.00
72 Puerto Rico $ 77-------23--------$3.35
73 Serbia $ 77 not given
74 Tunisia $ 77-----------11--------$7.00
75 Libya $75--------------18--------$4.16

Which I think is as far as it is useful to go. Once again we see the developed countries very largely lying in the $5.40-$2.40 range. Ukraine Norway & Finland lying below - Finland is building nuclear, Norway has lots of hydro & much GDP comes from oil & Ukraine is still benefiting from cheap Russian gas. Greece, Hong Kong, Singapore, Denmark & Ireland, among developed countries score above - 2 of those are city states with limited land for generators & possibley use less per capita because of the heat island effect in urban living; Denmark has made a big thing politically of windmills & most of its power seems to come from Norwegian & Swedish hydro: Ireland has a problem because it also has spent a lot on windmills with nothing to show for it & also gets a lot of power from Hunterston in Scotland, where we are already facing blackouts after it closes.

We also see a lot of really poor countries where I assume electricity is limited to cities on good days. Insofar as they depend on subsistence farming they can do without so much of it & insofar as they do without much electricity they are going to depend on subsistence farming.

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