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Saturday, September 19, 2009


From time to time I have spent a few minutes commenting on recent LibDem blogs helpfully available here. My most common thread has been to find if there is any LibDem anywhere defend the war against Yugoslavia?

The answer is no. Zilch, nada, zero, nobody among "LibDem" bloggers feels capable of defending it.

Worse for anybody claiming to be "liberal" the overwhelming majority simply censor the question. Naming the guilty -

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT VOICE:our place to talk
FREEDOM CENTRAL Irony clearly lost on them
DAVE'S FREE PRESS or otherwise

It says much about a self styled "liberal" group that not only can none of them defend this war but that the knee jerk reaction of 90%+ of "liberal democrat" bloggers is to censor the question. Most of the rest simply ignore it.

I have made my beliefs clear repeatedly - that I accept the precedent established at the Nurmeburg Trial - that the attack on Yugoslavia was aggressive & hence a war crime; that the deliberate bombing of Serbian cities was civilian bombing & hence a war crime; that the Dragodan Massacre took place & is hence a crime against humanity; that extensive racial murder (ie genocide, a crime against humanity) took place under NATO rule; that the ethnic cleansing of approxiamately 350,000 people took place (ie genocide); that the kidnapping & dissection of living human beings took place under NATO authority which is a crime against humanity. That the LibDems deliberately supported this war & its consequences is prima faci evidence of guilt. Moreover the party, unlike the other parties, have made it a condition of membership that one personally support these atrocities.

Consequently the fact that not one member of the party feels able to dispute the reality of these crimes or the party's complicity is important. I have, of course, previously contacted all MPs & MSPs & not one of them felt able to dispute complicity in war crimes & racial genocide either. The overwhelming opinion of party bloggers in what has traditionaly claimed to be a movement supporting liberal values, is that they cannot disagree on a factual basis that their leaders are genocidal Nazi war criminals & must resort to censorship.

True colours of a party whose every single member is, officially, a racist, Nazi, child raping, genocidal, organlegger & whose every single member feels they cannot factually say otherwise.

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Friday, September 18, 2009


The Scottish government have announced their next budget which is cut due to there being a recession. The Scotsman says:
THE Glasgow airport rail link, social housing and economic development have become the first major casualties of the Scottish Government's spending cuts.

The axing of the £115 million rail link was the most high-profile of a raft of cuts announced by finance secretary John Swinney yesterday in the draft budget for 2010-11.

Others included a proposal to cut social housing spending by £180m,
This rail link was always political pork barrelling for the Glasgow Labour establishment. When the previous, Labour, administration set it up their own inquiry it said that it made no economic sense & indeed would not have done so even if it achieved twice the expected passenger levels. Back then the cost was indeed quoted at around the £115 million mentioned but it has been rising ever since to anything up to £400 million now.

However the government already have an alternative on the table. ULTra, who are building am automated monorail for Heathrow offered to build a monorail from Glasgow Airport to Paisley Gilmour Street railway station for £20 million.
This, as I reported previously, & again was rejected on the grounds that, without seriously investigating it is not be seen to be "so completely superior" to the rail link as to be worth investigating. I suspect that if an actual assessment were made of the monorail option it would indeed be found not merely to be an order of magnitude cheaper but also superior.

The idea of an automated monorail for the 1 1/2 miles from the airport to the station has the following advantages other than cost:

* Because there are trains from Paisley to Glasgow Central every few minutes it would usually be quicker than waiting up to half an hour for special trains.

* Creating a hub airport - Paisley Station is on the same line as the station at Glasgow's other Airport, Prestwick, to which trains already run regularly. Thus this link would allow people to cross connect turning the 2 airports into a regional hub.

* Modern appeal - monorails, particularly fully automated ones do give an impression of modernity that traditional railways don't & would make an appealing gateway to Glasgow.

* Speed of construction. The world's first passenger monorail, constructed in 1888 between Listowel & Ballybunion, a distance of 9 miles, took under a year so, with modern technology, it should be easy to have this 1 1/2 mile stretch built well before the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

* Encouraging innovation in public projects - there are many such public projects which seem to be rejected purely because of what looks like Not Invented Here syndrome (this happened to a Forth Tunnel which could cost a few tens of millions & to the Scottish Tunnel Project which could have revolutionised the whole Scottish economy) but one such project could lead to others.

* Land saving - since a monorail moves above the ground almost no land is taken out of use.

* Ease of access - Gilmour Street Station is already elevated so a monorail from the upper level of the terminal to the station platform would be a simple & easy trip.

* Government investment - a growing economy has to invest as well as just current spending. By cutting this project the SNP government has ended one of the very few actual government investments is existence.

* Green - since the Scottish Parliamentarians have, unanimously, decided that not creating CO2 is so important it is worth destroying half the Scottish economy the importance to them of the fact that small monorail cars travelling such a short distance use little energy & since there need be no trains added to an already good service there would be no extra there, literally cannot be overestimated. While it would save many cars & buses.

There was also a cheaper version involving a 1,000 yd monorail to the Paisley St James station which would run roughly along the spur the proposed railway would have taken. Since it attaches to much less used line than the main proposal it would , though cheaper, have far fewer train connections & only has the advantage of being the lowest bid.


On the other main cut proposed - cutting spending on social housing - I blogged a few days ago about how how using shipping container sized modular housing units could produce as much housing as wanted at a very much lower cost than current building. This would require some reduction of government regulation which currently appears to be designed to prevent the building of affordable housing but if government can no longer afford to, at the same time, subsidise such housing removing barriers would be a more efficient compromise.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009


Via Brian Wang's Next Big Future comes a proposal for a amazingly inexpensive space goods launching system. This is developed from electromagnetic military rail guns.

military electric rail gun - orbit would need 412 m
"Probably the most successful system was built by the UK's Defence Research Agency at Dundrennan Range in Kirkcudbright, Scotland. This system has now been operational for over
10 years at an associated flight range". The innovation is using a fly wheel to store the energy, so that a large amount can be released very quickly.

Some excerpts on the device (from page 6 on since earlier stuff explains developments to date):

The engine accelerates the flywheel to maximum safe rotation speed. At launch time, the fly wheel ...produces a high-amperage current. The gas gun takes a shot and accelerates the space apparatus up to the speed of 1500 – 2000 m/s. The apparatus leaves the gun and gains further motion on the rails where its body turns on the heavy electric current from the electric generator. The magnetic force of the electric rails accelerates the space apparatus up to speeds of 8 km/s. (or more) (Low Earth orbit requires 6.5 to 8.2 km/s)

Cost of launch one kg of payload [all calculations given in the original but omitted here] Conventional turbo engine is used for moving the fly-wheel ...frequency of launches is t = 30 min.... Let us assume the cost of magnetic launcher is 50 millions of dollars, lifetime of installation is 10 years and maintenance is $2 millions of dollars per year. The launcher works the 350 days and launches 100 kg payload every 30 min (This means about 5000kg/day and 1750 tons/year).

total cost is $6/kg.

The research shows the magnetic launcher can be built by the current technology. This
significantly (by a thousand times) decreases the cost of space launches. Unfortunately, if we want to use the short rail way (412 m), any launcher request a big acceleration about 7,500 gravities and may be used only for unmanned, hardened payload. If we want design the manned launcher the rail way must be 1100 km for acceleration a = 3g (untrained passengers) and about 500 km (a = 6g) for
trained cosmonauts.
Our design is not optimal. For example, the computation shows, if we increase our rail track only by 15 m, we do not need gas gun initial acceleration. That significantly decreases the cost of installation and simplifies its construction.


Personally I would be quite happy to extend it to 427 metres or indeed if we quadruple the length (& construction cost)to 2000 m we halve the acceleration to 3,750 g. Not something any of us will use but that would increase the range of, remarkably carefully packaged, items we could put in orbit. That means we are looking for a mountain at least 2000 m (6,500 ft). Though the speed advantage from launching near the equator may be less important there will still be a benefit to keeping launched objects in similar, equatorial, orbits so that they can easily be collected by the crew, or robot, in orbit.

Incidentally it also solves the longstanding & rather silly debate about manned spaceflight versus robotics. If we can put up 5 tons a day of equipment we are very quickly going to have enough to build an awful lot of structure, including a lot of robotic stuff, up there but it will take a number of real human beings to open the boxes, take out the packaging & assemble the contents. With all the equipment sent from Earth they will be able to do dozens, possibly hundreds, of times more useful work than is currently possible with a couple of shuttles a year.

What we are seeing is that there are a large number of ways to get to Earth orbit at costs far lower than we have now. Since they all have slightly different capabilities (mainly that conventional shuttles/rockets can put people there & this & Orion, while not manrateable, can ship large amounts of structure cheap - $6/kg would mean about $1.20 for a paperback book).

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009


It used to be said you are getting old when policemen start looking young but when self made billionaires look young....
Elon Musk (born 1971) is an American engineer, entrepreneur and philanthropist best known for co-founding PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla. He is currently the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and Chairman of SolarCity.

The Tesla car is a very neat piece of technology even getting the approval of Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear despite it being an electric car but his real ambition, & greatest promotion of human progress is SpaceX.

SpaceX is a company created to build commercial spaceships. Its leading project is called Dragon & it may be the saviour of NASA & much more importantly, provide a commercial shuttle to the International Space Station. And yet more important than that will be all real commercial interests that will use it.
On August 18, 2006, NASA announced that SpaceX had been chosen, ..

NASA awarded a cargo delivery contract to SpaceX on 2008-12-23. The contract calls for a minimum of 20,000 kg of cargo over up to 12 flights to the International Space Station at a cost of $1.6 billion USD, with options that increase the maximum contract value to $3.1 billion
$1.6 billion is very big for the commercial space market but is nothing compared to what NASA spend (eg that one extra Shuttle launch will cost $2.7 billion).

SpaceX site here. Expect the \MSM to discover this as soon as it happens, but not before.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Over recent years we have seen astonishing economic growth in 3 similar states - Singapore, Hong Kong & Dubai. In some ways Dubai, the most recent success of the 3, is the most interesting. The first 2 are part of the Oriental world where success blooms widely but Dubai is part of the Arab world where, despite or arguably because of oil, the place is full of corrupt medieval failed states.

Most importantly Dubai is not an oil state or its wealth would prove nothing. "revenue from petroleum and natural gas currently account for less than 6% of the emirate's gross domestic product".

It isn't a libertarian experiment having a strong government funding & planning system. The International Herald Tribune has described it as "centrally-planned free-market capitalism." which is very similar to Paul Krugman's description that "Singapore grew through a mobilization of resources that would have done Stalin proud"> Its economy works on a mixture of banking & tourism with a lot of really overly expensive construction.

It has probably benefited from neighbouring Arab sheiks being rather more willing to do their financial services there than in the west but there is a sharp limit to how kindly people are in trusting with their money. The tourist bit is even more surprising since, although they have become a hub airport the intrinsic tourist attraction is not greater than any other bit of sandy Arabic beachfront property.

I suggest that this shows that while free marketism & the rule of law are very important to economic success a government actually putting growth as their "number one priority" is as important. Unfortunately most politicians saying that are lying. It is probably also a considerable bonus if you have a small state able to fit its laws to make itself more competitive, particularly in financial matters, than larger rivals. And countries pushing the technological envelope, as in the fact that both Dubai & Singapore are building spaceports, is vital.

All of these are advantages held out by proponents of seasteading & Dubai, Singapore & Hong Kong, while obviously not floating cities are all recently founded cities, built in places which previous land based empires had considered undesirable. Seasteading was not possible until the technology existed (if it yet does) to built purely seaborne communities but these 3 may properly seen as precursors in decades to come.

Monday, September 14, 2009


On a previous occasion I lietsecNroman Volrlaug as pretty much the one deserved winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
NORMAN BORLAUG , Led research at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Mexico City. Major figure in the real Green revolution (ie increasing agricultural yields. Not a politician & the most worthy recipient. GRAND Mughal Akbar once remarked he would venerate the person who could grow two blades of grass where one grew previously - this scientist qualifies.
From Reason magazine
Norman Borlaug, the man who saved more human lives than anyone else in history, has died at age 95. Borlaug was the Father of the Green Revolution, the dramatic improvement in agricultural productivity that swept the globe in the 1960s...

Borlaug grew up on a small farm in Iowa and graduated from the University of Minnesota, where he studied forestry and plant pathology, in the 1930s. In 1944, the Rockefeller Foundation invited him to work on a project to boost wheat production in Mexico. At the time Mexico was importing a good share of its grain. Borlaug and his staff in Mexico spent nearly 20 years breeding the high-yield dwarf wheat that sparked the Green Revolution, the transformation that forestalled the mass starvation predicted by neo-Malthusians.

In the late 1960s, most experts were speaking of imminent global famines in which billions would perish. "The battle to feed all of humanity is over," biologist Paul Ehrlich famously wrote in his 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb. "In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now." Ehrlich also said, "I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971." He insisted that "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980."

But Borlaug and his team were already engaged in the kind of crash program that Ehrlich declared wouldn't work. Their dwarf wheat varieties resisted a wide spectrum of plant pests and diseases and produced two to three times more grain than the traditional varieties. In 1965, they had begun a massive campaign to ship the miracle wheat to Pakistan and India and teach local farmers how to cultivate it properly. By 1968, when Ehrlich's book appeared, the U.S. Agency for International Development had already hailed Borlaug's achievement as a "Green Revolution."
Unlike today's "Green" doomsayers Borlaug devoted his life to the Green Revolution - the creation of new varieties of crops. Even if the statement that he "saved a billion lives" is somewhat exaggerated he is one of the few Nobel Peace Prize winners who stands tall compared to winners of the non-political prizes.


Sunday, September 13, 2009


In 1912 Charles Dawson, a respectable British lawyer claimed to have discovered the fossil of the earliest known man - & he was British. It took until 1953 until he was publicly denounced by the scientific community though a few, largely foreign)!) had said so much earlier.

"In November 1953, The Times published evidence gathered variously by Kenneth Page Oakley, Sir Wilfrid Edward Le Gros Clark and Joseph Weiner proving that the Piltdown Man was a forgery and demonstrating that the fossil was a composite of three distinct species. It consisted of a human skull of medieval age, the 500-year-old lower jaw of a Sarawak orangutan and chimpanzee fossil teeth. The appearance of age had been created by staining the bones with an iron solution and chromic acid. Microscopic examination revealed file-marks on the teeth, and it was deduced from this someone had modified the teeth to give them a shape more suited to a human diet.

The Piltdown man hoax had succeeded so well because at the time of its discovery, the scientific establishment had believed that the large modern brain had preceded the modern omnivorous diet, and the forgery had provided exactly that evidence. It has also been thought that nationalism and cultural prejudice also played a role in the less-than-critical acceptance of the fossil as genuine by some British scientists...more"

Another reason it wasn't denounced is because Dawson had consistently refused to let scientists examine it presumably sharing Professor phil Jones expressed view about the Met Office's refusal to produce & subsequent loss of the data for global warming "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it."

There has been a surprising number of people trying to blame anybody but Dawson despite him having "previous" to wit "the teeth of a reptile/mammal hybrid, Plagiaulax dawsoni, "found" in 1895 (and whose teeth had been filed down in the same way that the teeth of Piltdown man would be some 20 years later), the so-called "shadow figures" on the walls of Hastings Castle, a unique hafted stone axe, the Bexhill boat (a hybrid sea faring vessel), the Pevensey bricks (allegedly the latest datable "finds" from Roman Britain), the contents of the Lavant Caves (a fraudulent "flint mine"), the Beauport Park "Roman" statuette (a hybrid iron object), the Bulverhythe Hammer (shaped with an iron knife in the same way as Piltdown elephant bone implement would later be), a fraudulent "Chinese" bronze vase, the Brighton "Toad in the Hole" (a toad entombed within a flint nodule), the English Channel sea serpent, the Uckfield Horseshoe (another hybrid iron object) and the Lewes Prick Spur"

It suggests that people are simply unwilling to accuse the "great & good" & possibly particularly lawyers of being liars.

This is supported by the subsequent history of the subject "In the period 1930-1950 Piltdown man was increasingly marginalized and by 1950 was, by and large, simply ignored". For alleged primary scientific evidence to be ignored strongly suggests there was a general feeling that it wasn't genuine but an equally strong lack of desire to rock the boat by saying so.

The comparisons & differences with the global warming scam are clear. In both there is a political/social drive that supports it) in Dawson's day the desire to extend back the date of Britain's greatness, today because warming hysteria supports government's desire to expand its control & revenue raising options. In both cases we see non-scientists in the lead presuming a political "consensus" which most scientists are to polite to loudly describe as lies (see the numerous times politicians have stated that 99% or 99.9% of scientists support this "consensus2 when far & away the largest group to have given an opinion, the 31,000 Oregon Petitioners say otherwise). The main difference, however is the amount of state pressure pushing the warming lie, the many billions of £s paid by government to sell it, the way that the now government funded Royal Society has been strongly supportive, though now quietly hedging its bets, whereas Dawson, despite desperately wanting it, was refused membership. Most importantly & indicating the importance of modern politician's corruption of science while Piltdown Man was of purely, though considerable, academic interest, the Kyoto regulatory part of the warming lie costs $800 million every day.

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