Saturday, May 09, 2009
The only measure that voters back widely would do little to help the state budget -- but it would send a clear message to Sacramento. The poll found that 73% plan to vote for Proposition 1F, which would freeze the salaries of lawmakers in deficit years.I can suddenly see why such an extremist gets banned from Britain even though Jacqui Smith lied when she said he supported violence. Imagine if the British people were given such a choice.
California referendum propositions - http://www.californiapropositions.org/?q=1a_2009 This is something that Scotland could do even if the UK won't.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Ireland having gone up to 140% of our income is now, in its state of economic collapse, still 1/3rd better off than us.which was read out. There was a bit of quibbling over whether they were still quite as much better off than us but the basic principle was accepted. The question about the tunnel cost was left hanging in the air since the Norwegian obviously couldn't explain why their costs are impossibly low, because they aren't, & nobody from the Scottish government was there to explain why their's are impossibly high.
As regards the Norwegian perhaps you could ask him how Norway has managed to cut more than 700km of tunnels at about £7 million per km when the Scottish government insisted a tunnel under the Forth would cost £4,673 million.
In 1983 a group of 180 apartment buildings was completed in Taiwan. Somebody had made a serious mistake. They had mixed into the concrete a considerable amount of highly radioactive cobalt 60. This meant that ultimately 10,000 people lived in buildings for from 9 to 20 years so radioactive that they received an average of 74 mSv of radiation per year in 1983, declining thereafter as cobalt 60 has a half life of 5 ½ years. This compares with a rate of 0.5 mSv above background which is the normal maximum exposure for radiation workers & total of 15 mSv maximum safe limit for land fit for habitation according to US government standards.
According to the linear no threshold (LNT) theory currently in use world-wide for assessing nuclear risks there is no lower limit to the level at which radioactivity kills (hence the term "no threshold") & this, inhabited for a decade & a half before the radioactivity was traced & measured, should be the site of a truly massive cancer death rate.
A thorough & methodical tracing of all the 4,000 families by a team led by W. L Chen of Taiwan's Director of Medical Radiation Technology of Taiwan's National Yang-Ming University (the full report is available in English on http://www.jpands.org/vol9no1/chen.pdf ) has resulted in an unequivocal & spectacular result. Cancer rates in that highly radioactive building are down to 3.6% of prevailing Taiwanese rates.
For many years there has been an unfashionable alternative to the LNT theory called hormesis. This is an effect, long observed in plants & cultures, whereby intermediate level radioactivity actually stimulates life & improves health. There has been significant evidence for this (the deaths at Hiroshima did not appear to fit the LNT pattern, there are places in India & Iran with background radiation of 15mSv or higher with no observed increase in cancer & numerous studies of radon in homes have found a reverse correlation between radon levels & cancer). Nonetheless, such has been our fear of all things nuclear that the LNT theory has been absolutely accepted despite the fact that there has NEVER been any actual evidence for it.
This study, however, is so detailed, has such well-defined boundary conditions & in proving a reduction in cancers of 96.4% has such a clear result that there can no longer be any intellectual doubt whatsoever. Radioactivity, up to 50mSv, is good for us.
This is reminiscent of the time when Galileo turned his telescope to the skies & for all time disproved the, then politically correct though scientifically shaky, theory that the Sun revolved around the Earth. True the Pope of the time forced him to recant or be dealt with as heretics then were. True it took a long time to bury. However from the time of Galileo's observations the official theory was dead. Unlike normal life, in science the truth always wins in the end though sometimes the end can be a long time coming & much pain may be caused in the interim. This is because while opinions change repeatable science results remain the same - that is the nature of the universe.
The effect of this proof on our nuclear power industries can hardly be underestimated since with the collapse of the theory go most of the fears that have so crippled it. The effect on medicine however cannot even begin to be estimated as the way is now open for serious research on how hormesis works & how it can be used to serve mankind. It is interesting to note that the healing water from the world's great spas has always been mildly radioactive & medicine has heretofore been unable to find out why - I wonder what the future holds for such places.
Yours Sincerely Neil Craig
Thank you for a cogent summary. More on this can be found at. http://cnts.wpi.edu/rsh/ for those interested.
For many years the NRDC and other "pro-environment" groups have insisted that all radiation is dangerous no matter what the level, and cumulative as well, so that the only safe action is to eliminate radiation. Of course there is natural radiation, which varies from place to place; sealing one's house allows radon to accumulate, raising the radiation in the house, sometimes to surprising levels; and going to higher altitudes always results in higher exposures, so much so that airline crews get quite a lot of radiation exposure, enough to be of concern.
The NRDC hasn't quite said that we must evacuate Denver and Colorado Springs as dangerous radiation hazards, but such a policy would be logical, given their "scientific" assumptions.
The alternative theories of radiation are the ancient pharmaceutical doctrine "The dose makes the poison," (i.e. that a some low enough level radiation is irrelevant), and "hormesis", which combines the "dose makes the poison" doctrine with the not entirely intuitive discovery that at low enough levels, radiation is actually good for you.
The hormesis hypothesis has been confirmed many times. One study was by the Swedish Army, which accumulated data on conscripts (Sweden has universal manhood conscription) from areas of known high radiation and compared their health statistics to recruits from areas matched in other characteristics. The conclusion was very much in favor of the hormesis theory. One participant in the study was Claes-Gustav Nordquist, the Surgeon Colonel of the Lifeguards Regiment who was until his retirement one of the leading oncologists in Sweden. There have been many others, but Claes is an old friend so I learned a good bit about the details of that study.
Despite the plethora of data confirming hormesis, the "environmental" movement continues to insist on the LNT (Linear, No Threshold) theory and this is one of their reasons for opposition to nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels.
This is a reprint from Jerry Pournelle's back in May 2004 & is also on the first entry on this blog which is a composite of various items I had previously put on my AOL homepage.
Back then I thought I had made a great discovery the effect of which "can hardly be underestimated" which shows how naive I was. At the time I thought that sending out letters to the world's press on this would get noticed but in fact, apart from Jerry's & subsequent reproduction on New Scientist online (I had to blackmail them into even that much) & a very much later letter in the Scottish Daily Mail media censorship has been virtually total.
Recently Radio Scotland had a silly news item about radon gas which said that Radon was the 2nd greatest cause of lung cancer & though I emailed them to say that the evidence says the opposite they continued to broadcast the same "news" item with this lie. The propaganda position is well, typically, put in this wikipedia article on the subject which relies heavily on saying what the "consensus reports" & relegating the experimental evidence to the end together with a bit of statistical obfuscation. By comparison the article on the LNT theory relies entirely on describing the "consensus", making no mention of experimental evidence (there is none supporting LNT) & describing hormesis as "extreme" without explanation. By comparison honest articles are here & here & with the graph here.
I stand by my comparison of hormesis/LNT as being comparable to Galileo's contention that the Earth goes round the Sun V the consensus that the Sun orbited the Earth except that in the latter case most observational evidence fitted the consensus equally well. Copernicus' book was published in 1543 & Galileo died, convicted of believing the Earth orbits the Sun, in 1642 so western science can't yet be said, with certainty, to be more under political control than during the 17thC Inquisition. When Galileo died the mantle of scientific leadership, rightly & inevitably, passed to Protestant northern Europe.
My various articles containing the word hormesis are here. I have reprinted this here to make it it more accessible & because I expect to have a Big Engineering item related to it shortly. I am also sending the original letter back out - we will see if things have changed.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
The names of some of the people barred from entering the UK for fostering extremism or hatred have been published for the first time. - BBC
Which is an interesting way of phrasing it. Indeed it is not anything like a full list - for example the best known recent banning was that of Dutch politician Geert Wilders for publishing some of the more nasty bits of the Koran. What the government have done is selected a few names whose banning they think will be good publicity & show the government's values. It is pure spin designed to reinforce xenophobia. Since the 2 Russians named are in prison & likely to stay there for many years & Michael Savage hasn't been here for 25 years & had no immediate plans to come here. Saying they will be turned away at customs clearly serves no practical purpose.
Perhaps Jacqui will also be sending out a press release saying how Count Dracula, Attila the Hun & the Daleks are also warned they not be allowed through Heathrow customs. It would be about as useful.
However the particular case of Michael Savage deserves inspection & not just because he looks likely to get significant damages from this nonsense. The government have said
"Therefore we will not hesitate to name and shame those who foster extremist views as we want them to know that they are not welcome here."
The Home Office also seems to have made some suggestion that he has advocated violence but he denies it & they have not even had the decency to give time & place for this. Of course, Jacqui Smith herself has not merely advocated but participated in violence, genocide, child rape & organlegging & the British government has been wholly supportive of visits by Americans such as William Clinton who are equally genocidal so it certainly can't be any matter of principle.
Looking at his website it is full of news stories which tend towards libertarianism (against banning books, interested in whether pot should be legalised, against phone tapping & the abuses of "homeland security", for Oklahoma's use of the 10th amendment to overrule Federal law[a potentially bery important story barely covered elsewhere]) a disapproval of Obama, support of the right to bear arms, disapproval of Muslim jihadists having training camps in the USA etc.
And several articles about being banned by the UK government.
And several against the global warming scam.
In general he looks like a very American & less pompous/opinionated/intellectual (delete to taste) version of Peter Hitchens. If our genocidal Home Secretary believes it is proper to prevent such people speaking here then she & her party are indeed fascist. I hope his defamation suit gives her a bloody nose.
Incidentally it is worth pointing out that US global warming alarmist James Hansen who has called for imprisoning people for disputing his proven lies about catastrophic warming & massive sea level rise was allowed to come to this country to tell a court that he advocated the suspension of the rule of law to allow people to engage in violence to promote warming alarmism & cause blackouts. Clearly nothing to do with being worried about violence then & everything to do with suppressing inconvenient facts.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
John's article "Both the Brown and the Obama administrations seem united in one thing - the pursuit of lower living standards for all.....
I said "For the last 40 years it has been politically fashionable & not just among LudDim & Labour parties & the BBC, to say that we are, or will within 10 years, be suffering environmental melt down & the common people must be persuaded not want a higher standard of living.
Well they have got their wish.
In reality, with scientific knowledge expanding faster than ever & Moore’s Law, if anything, speeding up we could all be having the growth rates of China & India if our political class would get out of the way."
Stuart Fairney Reply "That may be the smartest comment I’ve ever read on this blog.
But how can we expect politicians to vote to reduce their power and influence. Turkeys voting for christmas etc This theme was discussed in the best political novel of 2008
John's article "When waste, needless programmes, stupid jobs, pointless regulation, poor efficiency and rampant feather bedding are rife in an organisation, cutting costs is not only easy but rapidly makes the service better."
I said "Wikipedia says John “in 1995 he returned £100,000,000 of Wales’ block grant to the UK treasury unspent following efficiency savings and cost-cutting measures”. I assume total savings were several times that but most of it was used, more usefully in Wales. On a proportionate basis that sum was £2 billion across the UK & probably twice that now & multiplied again several times because Major clearly did run a much tighter ship than Brown.
He can credibly talk the talk having walked the cost cutting walk.
Reply: Yes, I saved more than £100 m and spent the rest of things Wales did need. It is never easy getting them to spend on things people want, as the establishment always wants to spend on itself."
He produced a very downbeat assessment of future growth based on what the Treasury believes to be our current underlying growth rate "So what is the trend rate of growth?
Current Treasury figure 2.75%
Less lower population growth -0.4%
Less impact of larger inefficient public sector -0.2%
Less debt effect -0.3%
Less financial sector distortions and losses -0.3%
Less incentive effect of new taxes -0.2%
Possible new trend rate of growth after recession 1.35%
I will be doing some more work to develop this model. Every 1% off the growth rate means the average family of four being worse off by £1,000 a year for each year of the slower growth. The losses compound up to large numbers quite quickly, as every year adds another shortfall of an additional £1,000 in their share of National income."
I disagreed on the assumption that we can substantially improve that trend by ending government Ludditry "I don’t think things need be so bad as that. It depends very much on the growth rate. If we got even the world average long term growth rate of 5%, let alone India & China’s 10% we could pay off debts in a few years. Growth in turn is not a fixed amount & if we got rid of government anti-nuclear & other ludditry & overregulation we could manage it.
This from Jerry Pournelle yesterday:
“Low cost energy is the key to economic growth, and nothing the government is doing would have as great an effect as a huge nuclear power program. The TVA was the best investment of the New Deal. It may be that private power would have done as well, but the cheap energy from TVA brought energy to the South.
Cheap power is the key to growth; and clearly that will not happen under the Change that we can believe in.”
It could happen in Britain. The best electoral promise in many years was Sarah Palin’s “Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to lay more pipelines and build more nuclear plants”. That would work & there are many people in the Conservative party who would support it. I’m not sure if there are enough."
UPDATE Stuart & others have also commented favourably on this comment of mine:
If money being printed is “flowing into commodities” that is a very bad sign. It means (A) that commodity prices are being artificially pushed up which makes everything more expensive while acting as a depressent to real production & (B) that investors are finding a shortage of real productive investments to make. I believe that the cause is that western governments have produced so many regulations either preventing manufacture (nuclear plantsw, GM, golf courses) or enormously expensive compared to the free market parts of the world (steel making, housebuilding, construction & manufacturing generally).
Technology is still progressing faster than at any time in human history & if we allowed its use we would be growing similarly.
Rather than printing pieces of paper & working the economy by by moving them round we coyuld be running space X-Prizes & building a production line to manufacture nuclear power plants & massively cutting these destructive regulations.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
"One of the best ways to get boys reading is to offer them reading material that motivates them to want to read. Boys enjoy reading: nonfiction; stories with action and adventure; stories with male protagonists; and a wide variety of reading materials, including books, magazines, newspapers, how-to manuals, Web sites, comic books, and graphic novels.
Many teachers do not offer boy-friendly reading material because they view it as substandard. They believe it's better to require boys to read books that meet high literary standards..."
High literary standards being defined as stuff that is introspective, action free, relationship heavy, with no fight scenes & read by schoolmarms of both sexes.
I read Treasure Island in 7th Grade. It was in the reading textbook (Most Tennessee textbooks had mostly public domain material). Do they read Stevenson in grade school now?
I don't think there are objective standards for determining that War and Peace is of higher standard than a how-to manual. If not there is no excuse whatsoever for slanting education against teaching boys just because they are glandularly requited to be more adventurous. his is not only a socially destructive policy it is wicked. It would not be much less so if if there were objective literary standards applying.
A couple of other remarks from on the same day from Jerry that I thought worth keeping
On how peer reviewed science stultifies: I have said for many years that our grant system ought to be required to reserve some portion -- in the neighborhood of 10% -- for unpopular theories and experimentum crucium, as an insurance against the consensus bandwagon effect. I am more convinced of that than ever now.
On the new Federal Energy Regulator embracing windmillery: Which pretty well means that the recession will become a depression. Low cost energy is the key to economic growth, and nothing the government is doing would have as great an effect as a huge nuclear power program. The TVA was the best investment of the New Deal. It may be that private power would have done as well, but the cheap energy from TVA brought energy to the South.
Cheap power is the key to growth; and clearly that will not happen under the Change that we can believe in.
Monday, May 04, 2009
MAY THE 4TH BE WITH MARGARET
Today is the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher coming to power. At the time, as a LibDem I regretted her getting an overall majority, though I can't say I thought a Labour majority was desirable either.
The Radio Scotland Morning Show today was on the somewhat pejorative theme of "should Thatcher apologise to Scotland" which naturally brought out all those whose only contribution to politics is to demand more taxpayer's money, which unfortunately is quite a lot.
I have added this to Graham's blog
Britain was in a state of virtual bankruptcy when she took over from the last Labour government (its the story of the end of all Labour governments). Since then we have achieved a growth rate better than that of the other big EU countries. If we accept that economic growth has been 1% a year better since 1979 than it would have been if Labour had nationalised the "commanding heights of the economy" as they promised (& actually a difference much larger than 1% is likely) she is responsible for 30% of Britain's wealth now.
I strongly suspect that not a single one of the parasites decrying her failure to give them as much of the taxpayer's money as they want has either had the good manners to thank her or the integrity to refuse 30% of their dole/civil service salary that comes from the real economy. Nor indeed that anybody in the taxpayer funded BBC has either.
On Daniel Hannan's blog, where views are more onesided the other way I put
Her biggest mistake was to allow North Sea oil to keep up the value of the £. It made sense in the fight against inflation but it made industry so much less competitive than it need have been & thus the job losses so much worse.
Everybody has 20-20 hindsight & I know of nobody, in any party, who said this at the time.
She was neither as successful nor as destructive as portrayed. Not as much a reformer as she wanted to be, because most of her party were not nearly as libertarian as she. Though she improved Britain's economy it was not nearly as spectacular as the growth achieved by Ireland after its free market reforms in 1989. On the other hand it was far more spectacular, at least in a positive direction, than any of her opponents would have managed.
Perhaps her greatest achievement was after she left office. It has been said that New Labour was her achievement & Tony Blair merely following in her footsteps, but with a sheepish grin. There is a lot of truth in that & certainly New Labour is more Thatcherite than it is Labour. I would also suggest that she has changed the Conservative Party at least as much, though they are less keen to advertise it. When she was PM almost every cabinet contained a majority against her on many issues, laterally particularly the EU. She has said that she was a classic liberal but the Conservative party wasn't. It, to a much greater degree, is now as people like Hannan, Redwood, Douglas Carswell, David Davis & Iain Dale prove. It is certainly more eurosceptic than even she ever was in office - after all the Conservatives, under Heath, pushed us into the EU.
These achievements were made by the real intellectual rigour she brought to politics, which it is much easier to display out of office than when you have to head a government. They are also the product of having & expressing beliefs. Honest expression of belief is at best a hindrance to getting office. On the other hand having beliefs is essential to real achievement which is why she will be remembered long after Blair is forgotten.
"And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things" Nicolo Machiavelli
Sunday, May 03, 2009
"Like fire & fusion, government is a dangerous servant and a terrible master. You now have freedom - if you can keep it. But do remember that you can lose this freedom more quickly to yourselves than to any other tyrant. Move slowly, be hesitant, puzzle out the consequences of every word. I would not be unhappy if this convention sat for ten years before reporting - but I would be frightened if you took less than a year.
Distrust the obvious, suspect the traditional ...for in the past mankind has not done well when saddling itself with governments. For example, I note in one draft report a proposal for setting up a commission to divide Luna into congressional districts and to reapportion them from time to time according to population.
This is the traditional way; therefore it should be suspect, considered guilty until proven innocent. Perhaps you feel that this is the only way. May I suggest others? Surely where a man lives is the least important thing about him. Constituencies might be formed by dividing people by occupation ... or by age ... or even alphabetically. Or they might not be divided, every member elected at large - and do not object that this would make it impossible for any man not widely known throughout Luna to be elected; that might be the best possible thing for Luna.
You might even consider installing the candidate who got the least number of votes; unpopular men may be just the sort to save you from a new tyranny. Don't reject the idea merely because it seems preposterous - think about it! In past history popularly elected governments have been no better and sometimes worse than overt tyrannies.
But if representative government turns out to be your intention there still may be ways to achieve it better than the territorial district. For example you each represent about 10,000 human beings, perhaps 7,000 of voting age - and some of you were elected by slim majorities [Ed-he is clearly speaking of a FPTP rather than proportional electoral system] Suppose instead of election a man were qualified for office by petition signed by 4,000 citizens. He would then represent these 4,000 affirmatively, with no disgruntled minority, for what would be a minority in a territorial constituency would all be free to start other petitions or join in them. All would then be represented by men of their choice. Or a man with 8,000 supporters might have 2 votes in this body. Difficulties, objections, practical points to be worked out - many of them! But you could work them out ... and thereby avoid the chronic sickness of representative government; the disgruntled minority which feels - correctly - that it has been disenfranchised.
But whatever you do do not let the past be a straitjacket!
I note 1 proposal to make this Congress a two-house body. Excellent - the more impediment to legislation the better. But instead of following tradition, I suggest one house of legislators, another whose single duty is to repeal laws. Let the legislators pass laws only with a 2/3rds majority ... while the repealers are able to cancel any law through a mere 1/3rd minority. Preposterous? think about it. If a bill is so poor that it cannot command 2/3rds of your consents is it not likely to make a poor law? And if a law is disliked by as many as 1/3rd is it not likely that you would be better off without it?
But in writing your constitution let me invite attention to the wonderful virtues of the negative! Accentuate the negative" Let your document be studded with things the government is forever forbidden to do. No conscript armies ... no interference, however slight with freedom of press, or speech, or travel, or assembly, or of religion, or of instruction, or communication, or occupation ... no involuntary taxation. Comrades if you were to spend five years in a study of history while thinking of more and more things that your government should promise never to do and then let your constitution be nothing but those negatives, I would not fear the outcome.
What I fear most are affirmative actions of sober and well-intentioned men, granting to government power to do something that appears to need doing. Please remember always that the Lunar Authority was created for the noblest of purposes by just such sober and well-intentioned men, all popularly elected. And with that thought I leave you to your labours.