Saturday, October 22, 2011
Money wasted on iconic footbridge
THE powers that be in Glasgow have decided to spend £40 million of our money on a footbridge at Broomielaw. Mind you, it will be an "iconic" footbridge. I think that means it will not be built on the old-fashioned engineering principle of doing the best job for the best price but on the new public works architectural principle of adding as many bells and whistles as somebody spending other people's money can be talked into.
This is one-tenth of the cost of a parliament building or the full price offered for building a parliament on Leith waterfront. It is 20 times the cost of a monorail from Glasgow Airport to Paisley Gilmour Street or from Central to Queen Street. It is enough fully to automate our Underground, thus substantially increasing capacity, and to run it free to the public for 10 years (which would obviously do far more than a bridge to give southsiders the benefit of visiting the west end the ostensible purpose of the bridge). It would pay for fixing five litter bins to every lampost, which I grant would be overkill. It would pay for building an arcology (a posh name for single building not only housing a lot of people but providing shops, pubs, restaurants, etc, to create a community unlike the traditional filing cabinets in the sky) providing homes for 1000 families, though this would make a profit for the ratepayers when sold. It could give a home computer to every Glasgow family with a kid under 15. It could provide a £10,000 rates holiday to 4000 new business start-ups. It could even, heavens forfend, produce a cut in the rates equal to £70 for every man, woman, and child.
We are now within the very short window between the project being only a feasibility study, so the public should not know about it, and the stage where the public should not be asked because it is to late to stop. Now is the time to decide if £40m for a footbridge a few hundred yards from the George V and Bell's bridges is a good idea. This, of course, assumes that the promised £40m will be kept to. Scottish Labour does not exactly have a good record in this area.
Neil CraigThis is the bridge design they had decided would be sufficiently Iconioc to convince the world of the architectural sophictication of Glasgow Council.
Incidentally the bridge at the left hand end, about 200 yds away, is a road bridge but with pavements so this "iconic" footbridge never actually served any serious traffic need. Still what's £40 million when its just the people paying.
At the time, still a LibDem I suggested this is exactly the sort of thing we could properly and successfully campaign against. Everybody I asked agreed that it was a ridiculous waste of £40 million. However I got shot down when the LD's councillor (there may have been 2) emailed me, annoyed because he was a strong supporter of this attempt to put Glasgow on the architectural map, footbridgewise.
So what happened. Well just because a bridge design wins a contract doesn't mean it gets built.
We did get a footbridge of a more pedestrian design (sorry).
The Tradeston Bridge is a pedestrian bridge across the River Clyde in Glasgow which opened on 14 May 2009. It links the districts of Anderston (on the north bank) to Tradeston (on the south bank) - the aim of the bridge being to aid the regeneration of Tradeston by giving it a direct link to the city's financial district on the western side of the city centre.
It cost £7million to construct and is used by pedestrians and cyclists with no motorised traffic
It still makes no traffic sense It is still a waste of money but now only of £7 million of our money rather than £40 million. If it is a choice between completely climbing down and wasting £7 million of other people's money what mainstream Scottish politician would have any doubt?
Did I make any difference - I have never been told by anybody involved that I did, or that I didn't. But then they wouldn't would they. The original silly scheme didn't get built. £33 million was saved (assuming it would have stayed on budget). I certainly did no harm to getting something somewhat more closely approaching common sense prevailing.
It may just have been that having built the "iconic" Squinty Bridge (which immediately broke due to the prefered bidders using inferior steel and the "iconic" tram museum (a tin shed designed by an Iranian architect) they were just iconicized out.
Friday, October 21, 2011
President Gaddafi Rest in Peace - You did Nothing to Match Our Own Government's Atrocities
I looked up what exactly he had been charged with and, understandably there is little coverage of the details. I had to go to the ICC itself which, sadly for an allged legal body, is almost equally unspecific
27 June 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued three warrants of arrest respectively for Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi for crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) allegedly committed across Libya from 15 February 2011 until at least 28 February 2011, through the State apparatus and Security Forces.
Going a little further through the pdf we find the only accusation on p4 of a 7 page indictment
"although the exact number of casualties cannot be known ....the security forces killed and injured as well as arrested hundreds of civilians"As a general rule of thumb the injured will normally greatly exceed the dead, maybe 10 fold, and the arrested exceed the dead similarly. By adding apples grapes and pe4anuts they have, in a manner which proves their total dishonesty, come up with an apparent figure of deaths they know to be a total lie.
So the indictment is that "though we have no evidence we claim that Libya's security forces killed a handful of people who were in rebellion against the lawful government within the sovereign state of Libya."
- Kent State was 5.
- Bloody Sunday was 13
- Waco was 76 (24 of them Brits which our media appears to have forgotten to report).
- Dragodan was at least 210 and that was a genuine international crime because we did it in Kosovo.
- The NATO bombing of Libya (officially merely to protect Benghazi from being bombed and not for regime change, because that would be a war crime, or to bomb civilians in other owns because so would that )had killed 800 months ago and must be several thousands now. Again an international crime which is what "international law" is supposed to be about.
- NATO "security forces" in Kosovo murdered 1,800 innocent civilians, in a srare of neither war nor insurrection, by dissecting them while still alive. Again a crime against international law.
- Krajina was anything up to 125,000 based on those still missing. Again a crime under international law.
- Our government's deliberate artificial pushing up of electricity prices is 25,000 every year.
Anybody want to suggest that Blair, Clinton, Brown, Cameron, Ashdown, ... all the way down to such minor murdering Nazi animals as the vast majority of MPs, including my local one and probably yours,, every single "journalist" on the BBC and most of our lying and censoring media Lord Bonomy (the Scottish "judge" in the Milosevic show trial", Elish Angiolini (Scots Solicitor General) are not more clearly and unambiguously guilty of massive crimes than those Gaddafi was "charged" with? Anybody doubt that every one of them could not, with greater justice, get a bullet in the head.
Dan Hannan got it on the money when the "indictment" was issued, though it has always been obvious to me that the Pan Am bombing was nothing to do with Libya but carried out by Syrian backed Palestinians. But Syria became our ally in the first Gulf War so suddenly they weren't involved.
Looks more like more popularity than any of the corrupt pensioner murdering, organlegging Fascist parasites we have could get. How many people in David Cameron's home town would fight bombers to save him?
UPDATE This suggests that gadaffi was set up "Madsen’s sources said Gaddafi was told to surrender to the al-Qaeda rebels besieging Sirte before morning prayers at 5 am, but that it was decided to surrender after the sun was well up in the sky so the white flags would be clearly visible.
It also appears likely the arrival of Secretary of State Clinton in Libya may have played into the plot and convinced Gaddafi to surrender." The article also explains why it is bad policy to invite somebody to surrender under a white flag and then shoot on it. Much worse policy for a major world power which may sometime want a reputation for honest dealing.
The claims are not exactly proven but the "official cover story does not make sense. If Gaddafi wanted to escape Sirte, why didn’t he do it under the over of darkness? It makes little sense to attempt an escape convoy in broad daylight in rebel territory with U.S. predator drones likely on constant patrol.". Expect to see this as censored as the poisoning of Milosevic. Like almost everything not government approved, by our broadcast "news".
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Meet the Next US President
Obama is toast - he has been incompetent is almost every possible way and America is still in a recession I have yet to find anybody disputing it could have got out of 3 years ago. The next President will be Republican. Herman Cain is leading the Republican pols and has convincingly won 2 major straw polls. His 9-9-9 plan (corporation tax, VAT and income tax of 9% and cut all the parasitic parts of government, particularly the EPA, accordingly is the issue everybody in America is talking about.
Yet the British media have barely noted the lead candidate's existence. I went through the first 5 pages of this Google News today without finding anything from a British news source. The entire BBC has 5 mentions, 4 of which are purely for their US & Canada subdivision.
Compare this with the much hyped "occupy Wall Street" campaign for which the BBC has many pages (I got to 5 before quiting) or Google News with 37,400 items and the Guardian (natch) among the top and 7th places.
Obviously, unless Britain's entire media are corrupt liars willing to censor any fact or tell any lie in the cause of the fascism of Britain's nomenklatura the likely winner of the next Presidential race is thousands of times less important than, what an eye witness not filtered through our media described as
I’d venture a guess of about 1,000. Multiple reports have said that far fewer, about 200, sleep in the park overnight. A thousand isn’t tiny, but in New York City it’s not a huge gathering ...relatively small when you consider the tons of publicity the protest has received. In addition, a significant proportion of the people I saw – I’d say at least a quarter - consisted of journalists, tourists and other onlookers. Indeed, OWS has become something of spectacle that people want to observe, another activity to cross off the sight-seeing list while visiting NYC....
It was a sea of mostly twentysomethings with dreadlocks, piercings and, of course, tattoos.....At the outset, it was said that the protesters did not know exactly what they wanted. I was curious to see if there was now any more clarity in the message coming out. There wasn’t. There was a mish-mash of slogans: ‘Quit coal’, ‘Stop hurting animals’, ‘Support revolution in Peru’. One woman held up a long-worded poster complaining about Staples, the stationery store.
Indeed, the striking thing was that there was little proper discussion and debate, despite the General Assembly forum. It was not the lack of a coherent message, but rather the lack of any attempt to come to a better understanding about things that was remarkable. These are the children of the politically correct era...The only union rep there was a speaker from the Communication Workers of America, but his fellow union members didn’t join him.From Spiked - a valuable bit of balance to the total lying our own and I suspect most US media have been engaged in. Any mass protest which contains only 200 people in one of the world's great cities , of whom 50 are journalists or other onlookers is clearly purely a media event no more spontaneous or representative of popular feeling than Al Gore's Pop Concert Against Global Warming or any spontaneous demonstration in North Korea. And not compatible with our MSM being any more trustworthy than NK's.
Previously I have said I thought Sarah Palin would be the best next US President. I don't necessarily feel otherwise but she may. A couple of days before she announced her withdrawal I though she had shown that her tactic of not entering the race had succeeded. Perry's vote was crumbling and U thought she could have taken that as the moment to enter and triumph. I still think she could have. However she originally said she would run "if nobody else does". I think that, with a growing family, she was considering it out of duty not ambition. Now, with somebody else honest, principled, competent, highly intelligent (worked as a mathematician)* with proven executive ability to run large organisations (and rescue them from collapse) and with a programme of growth similar to hers she doesn't have to. She says
"Herman Cain is not a politician. He has the business acumen and that background in the private sector, knowing how to create jobs and meet a bottom line and understanding the work ethic. He's pulled himself up from the bootstraps.
That's that Americana story that so many of us are intrigued with and impressed with. So look forward to hearing more details about Herman Cain's 9-9-9 program."At the most appropriate moment (her timing has been flawless) I expect her to endorse him and him to win.
*The PM of Singapore, and son of its first PM also studied mathematics at Cambridge (while most of our leaders did PPE at Oxford). There is much to be said for intelligent leadership.
Oh yes - he is black but not the sort of dependent black the ruling class like
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Nobody knows how life got started on Earth. The normally accepted theory is that various molecules got randomly combined in the energy rich environment and then evolution automatically took place of the rest. The "organic soup" experiment did show that organic compounds could be produced with relative ease but the pure odds of them combining into something capable of replicating itself are astronomical and unless there is some factor making replicating compounds more likely, would be incredibly unlikely to happen. within the lifetime of the universe.
However what we do know, as this diagram shows, is that life developed within 500 million years of the planet's formation - almost as soon as the mantle had cooled enough for it to survive. If it was a purely random accident the odds of it happening that quickly are small. I see 3 alternatives:
- That there is some unknown chemical relationship making life bearing compounds more likely so that the formation of life by accident is likely - it would have to be a considerable effect to bring the odds down from unlikely on millions of planets in the life of the universe to likely on 1 within merely hundreds of millions of years.
- That life originated elsewhere and has been carried, at bacterial size, everywhere - if so such life should be endemic everywhere there are or have been conditions that can support it. This is known as Panspermia and fits what we know. Thus we should expect to find bacterial type life on Mars whenever humanity gets off its arse and seriously looks. The probes so far have produced results which cannot be explained as finding life as we know it, nor explained as having found nothing. In this case the level of our ignorance is plain, and considering that we are willing to spend trillions killing people, inexcusable.
- That we live in a multiverse with an infinite number of universes, or at least potential ones. In that case we are bound to live in a universe where life formed because otherwise we wouldn't be here to see it. I believe we do live in such a universe. However in such case there is no particular reason life should have formed so quickly. We will always now be 4 billion years from the creation of life and there would be no real difference if the Earth had been around for 4 billion years rather than 0.5 bn. It would mean that we only had 2.5 bn rather than 5 to go before the sun explodes but that does not affect our ability to investigate the universe now. If this, rather than the panspermia theory were true we would not expect to find life on Mars.
However what also strikes me is that the formation of life may not be the difficult trick.
- 0.5 bn years, or less, possibly much less for life to form.
- 1 bn to start photosynthesis
- 1 bn to develop a cell nucleus.
- 1 bn to produce multi-cellular life.
- 0.5 bn to get up to the reptiles.
- 0.2 bn to get to dinosaurs and mammals.
- & 0.005bn - maximum time to get from the chimpanzees to us.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Cheap Electricity by 2013 - Nuclear and X-Prizes
We are heading for blackouts and if current party policies continue have no chance of getting out of recession or even of not falling in deeper.
Legally we are committed to getting rid of the 82% of our electricity that doesn't come from windmillery and hydro (mainly hydro). The SNP want us to do that by the year 2020.
As well as that the EU has decreed that about half our coal fired power stations must close to control their emissions.
Hunterston nuclear power station was officially supposed to close in 2011 and although the government have revised the rules it is working at below capacity and cannot continue forever. Most other nuclear power stations in the UK have already closed and all are supposed to go by 2023 when Torness is slated to close.
On top of that the moment by moment variability of wind means that it destabilises the grid when it gets to 10% (almost there now) leaving it vulnerable to crashing.
Much of this could be solved quickly simply by reversing policies.
- Decide that with the Met Office now officially predicting rapid cooling we should suspend the Climate Change Act until such time as there is evidence of historically unprecedented warming - which I suspect will be never.
- Allow the free market to immediately start working on extracting shale gas. It might take a couple of years before it starts seriously affecting the economy.
- Replace the UK Atomic Energy Authority with a new organisation, possibly under the same name, probably headed by a retired nuclear submarine officer (their record of safety is fine without the bureaucracy).
- Introduce a legal right to appeal for the removal of any government regulation on energy production which has a 4 times, or worse, greater ratio of cost to benefit than regulations existing in another part of the industry. Thus if nuclear power plants are 1,000 times safer than windmills (they are) most nuclear "safety" regulations would become illegal. Costs, as with most civil cases, to be paid by the loser. This would provide strong pressure for a level regulatory field and reassure investors.
- Allow the immediate building of as many nuclear plants as there is a market for.
- End the carbon levy and involuntary windmill subsidies. I would allow a 2 tier system whereby those who support Luddism and windmillery would retain the current electricity tariff, or indeed be allowed to pay extra as pro-nuclearists say their fall to the market price and that the extra paid by these greens by used to maintain some windmill subsidy. Thus we would be free to choose to be "environmental" or not. Since the state has promoted windmillery this any government employee, including ministers, who does not have a prior record of supporting nuclear would, to show integrity, be expected to pay the "environmental" tariff. Anyone choosing not to would be permanently ineligible for government employment and anybody standing as an MP who did not do so would be legally required to head any electoral communication with "I am a corrupt lying charlatan who has been deliberately impoverishing the electors on a fraud I do not believe in".
Monday, October 17, 2011
I originally said I expected to limit the Big Engineering series to not including interstellar travel because we didn't know how to do it.
The Woodward effect is a hypothesis proposed by James F. Woodward ,[he calls it the Mach effect] a physicist at California State University, Fullerton, that energy-storing ions experience transient mass fluctuations when accelerated. While some have expressed doubt about this hypothesis, no respected theoreticians have yet disproved it....
If the Woodward effect were real, and if an engine could be designed to exploit it, the basic concept would be that the engine would pull ions when their mass was lower, and push them when it was higher. The result would be steady accelerationSo the theory is consistent with current theory. But does it work? Well
In 2004, John G. Cramer, Curran W. Fey, and Damon V. Cassisi of the University of Washington reported that they had conducted tests of Woodward's hypothesis, but that results were inconclusive.
Inconclusive is not exactly conclusive but we are talking about experiments at the edge of the technological envelope that makes the cold fusion stuff look simple. Those look like 3 experiments which have found something where conventionally they should have found nothing. If I asked myself to bet on whether the effect is real (and I am) then I would bet fairly heavily that it is.
On January 20, 2006 Paul March and Andrew Palfreyman reported experimental results at an American Institute of Physics conference. Test results exceeded Woodward's predictions by one to two orders of magnitude.
In 2006, researchers at the Austrian Research Centers reported results of a study of the effect using a very sensitive thrust balance. Results did not seem to be in full agreement with the findings claimed by Woodward and collaborators. However, given the importance of the subject the researchers recommended further tests.
In which case once we have something in orbit (ie zero-G) we have acceleration requiring no fuel so long as power can be produced. With fusion, which we do not have but clearly is possiblel sometime, that gives us a space drive.
Build a true Mach-Lorentz Thruster — assuming such a thing is possible — and if the technology scales the way Woodward believes it must, the outer Solar System is reachable in less than a month. In fact, the travel times are limited largely by the accelerations a human crew could endure. Clearly, the implications for interstellar missions are interesting indeed. But we’re a long way from building such devices.That presumably means a 1G acceleration or slightly above.Personally I am not that concerned about it for travel within the solar system. We could build atomic powered ion rockets in orbit today if we had the prbital industry - that is simply engineering. If such rockets managed only 0.01 Gs they would make the outer system reachable in under 10 months (distance goes up with the square root of the acceleration) which is more than good enough to settle the Solar System. My concern is not about how it will be done but finding a baseline, using current technology or stuff reasonably assumable from it. Perhaps this drive will be developed so quickly that it will be used to settle the Solar System but we can do it with what we have now.
However 1 G acceleration gets you close to the speed of light. which would mean a trip to Alpha Centauri in about 6 years. Somewhat less for the voyagers because of relativistic effects but not much so.
That is twice as long as Magellen's circumnavigation of the world 1519-22 but far shorter than Marco Polo's travel to China 1259-95 (and neither had communication with home and other conveniences). I think we can take Odyssesus' 10 years from Troy to Thebes as exageration (we could fly it in an hour now). From the 1940s to 1973 people took the £10 assisted passge to live in Australia not expecting ever to return. So if a slower than light spaceship like this is possible then it would be enough to settle nearby star systems. And if the theory is right, which the experimental results suggest relatively lightly, then it is possible. And continuous expansion from their equally feasible.
And if it is possible it should be done and probably will be 2 or 3 decades after we have cheap and reliable enough travel to orbit to kickstart space industrialisation/settlement [2012/13].
(The reader may consider what is possible with both an accelerationless drive and cold sleep but I will leave that until the latter shows serious progress.)
Sunday, October 16, 2011
It is a reasonable question and leads me to the conclusion that moderation of blogs to keep out the bottom 3 classes there may often be a public benefit.
The site author got his question answered when no "scienceblogs" regular proved capable of answering me on any but the bottom 3 levels and proved the genuineness of his commitment to real debate by having not a word to say against such tactics when used by warming alarmists that site supports.
Next Big Future on areas where we may expect serious improvement over the next few years
1. Pro-growth Policies
2. Energy Efficiency - superconductors, thermoelectrics, improved grid
3. Energy Revolution - Mass produced fission, fusion, and maybe cold fusion
4. Additive manufacturing
5. Not so mundane - neuromorphic chips, quantum computers, photonics
6. Automated transportation (leading to robotic cars and planes)
7. Urbanization MegaCities
8. Urbanization Broad Group skyscrapers, Tata flat packed buildings
12. Improve medicine and public health
14. Synthetic biology and recombineering
15. Sensors everywhere
16. Education transformed and accelerated innovation
17. Supersmartphones, exoskeletons and wearable systems
Technologies we were promised but never delivered - less serious
Model planes potential as terrorist weapons - the flip side of military UAV's changing war
Windmills simply cannot compete with shale gas in a free market society - good article by GWPF member
Incredibly a sensible article on radiation has slipped by the BBC censors:
The standard measure of the biological effect of radiation is the sievert. One sievert is a heck of a big dose, but one tenth of a millionth of a sievert, or 0.1 micro sieverts, is roughly the dose from eating one banana.
So we can use one banana as our basic unit and convert other radiation exposures to so many bananas.
Radiation Dose Chart
But why bother converting this to bananas? Partly because it's hoped BED is friendlier than sieverts and grays and rads and rems, and all the other paraphernalia. I'd agree. Though not everyone likes the BED because of problems counting changing level of exposure from the radiation in a banana as it passes through the body.
But I reckon the BED is useful for several reasons. First, it reminds us that radiation is commonplace. You can't get much more ordinary than a banana.
Second, we know eating one banana won't kill us. Not even nearly. Not without extreme violence. This affirms an age-old point about toxicity - that danger is in the dose. In other words most things, radiation included, are only dangerous in sufficient quantities. The distinction between toxic and safe is not really a distinction of kind, but of quantity. That goes for just about everything from water and vitamins to arsenic
Radiation dose at the boundary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station on March 16: 1.9 millisieverts (mSv) per hour (note this is the boundary of the power station not of the exclusion zones 10 and 20 km away)
Maximum allowable exposure for U.S. radiation workers: 50 mSv per year
That is 1.9 bananas an hour and 50 bananas eaten in a year respectively.
Green Party controlled Brighton Council buys a new fleet of gritters to combat the snow children born in recent years have, if government ecofascist claims are in any way truthful, never seen.
Another scientist elected to mem,bership of the Union of Concerned Scientists - Kenji Watts
Kenjii has a family relatio9nship to Anthony Watts - he is his pet cat.
Undoubtedly every honest alarmist who denounced the Oregon Petition because alarmists had managed to sneak Dr Geri Halliwell onto their roles (temporarily) will now denounce the UCS. Yep every last one of them who is honest - ie zero.
Larger scale here
If we are concerned with the inadequate rate of economic growth, we must recognize that the single greatest impediment to economic growth is the size and scope of the Federal government. Unless we can reduce the extent of regulation and introduce some economic rationality to important regulations, we cannot hope to see incomes rise to provide a better future for our children and future generations.