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Saturday, June 26, 2010


A recent mention by Jerry Pournelle of an item I did summarising here quotable thoughts has, in turn been twice mentioned by him, which did my hit rate considerable good.

Also he linked to my article about the Chinese submarine that surfaced in the middle of a US carrier fleet without being spotted.

And on a different & remarkable example of the continuity of political principle, or otherwise, Daniel Hannan mentioned on his blog
The Conservatives had promised to close the budget deficit with an 80:20 ratio – 80 per cent spending cuts, that is, to 20 per cent tax rises. The Liberal Democrats wanted 100 per cent spending cuts and 0 per cent tax rises. While the Lib Dem position was plainly preferable, coalitions involve compromises,
to which I pointed out
I was unaware that the LDs had wanted to end the deficit 100% by spending cuts. This seems remarkable like classic liberalism. However since I was expelled from that party a few years ago for having had letters published in papers calling for cutting corporation tax & government spending to promote growth (as worked so well in Ireland), the need for nuclear power & that cutting regulations preventing housebuilding would mean more housebuilding, I have to have some doubts if they meant it. Officially the LDs still claim that such views are "illiberal", "too right wing" to even discuss & "incompatible with party membership". There seems to be some contradiction if they are also now party policy.
Other commenters suggested that their 100% call may have been made purely for coverage without any intention of letting it actually happen. This is reminiscent of the LD behaviour at the last Scottish budget when they voted against it because they nominally wanted to make use of Scotland's income tax cutting powers, but without having suggested any of the cuts needed to pay for it & then when, as a result of voting against it, the budget unexpectedly failed to pass, immediately reversing their vote & putting it through unchanged.


Friday, June 25, 2010


For anybody who thinks I am overstating when I call eco-nazis eco-nazis
the author of a damning study concluding that Spain’s “green jobs” energy program has been a catastrophic economic failure — was mailed a dismantled bomb on Tuesday by solar energy company Thermotechnic.

Says Calzada:

Before opening it, I called [Thermotechnic] to know what was inside … they answered, it was their answer to my energy pieces.

Dr. Calzada contacted a terrorism expert to handle the package. The expert first performed a scan of the package, then opened it in front of a journalist, Dr. Calzada, and a private security expert.

The terrorism consultant said he had seen this before:

This time you receive unconnected pieces. Next time it can explode in your hands.

Dr. Calzada added:

[The terrorism expert] told me that this was a warning.

On first thought it looks like the Greens working for Thermotechnic must be seriously retarded. I mean what sort of terrorist gives their address?

On second thought that may be the difference between free lance & government supported terrorists. The latter need not fear arrest. We shall see.

We will also see what MSM coverage it gets. If the boss of Ryanair had publicly threatened to hire a hitman to kill Air Ministry civil servants my guess is it would be news. Indeed I suspect there would be no hesitation in deciding "whose ass to kick". Companies other than Sicilian olive oil importers don't even imagine doing things like that. At the time of writing the dead tree media are saying "move along ...nothing to see" which suggests second thoughts may be right.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010


Open letter to the lot of them
Dear MSP.
Holyrood will shortly be asked to legislate a scheme to take £2,300 million from the Scottish people (£460 from every man, woman & child) to build a new crossing of the river Forth.

If the actual cost of such a crossing is less then the people of Scotland are being defrauded & you are being asked to be complicit.

There are at least 3 major other options which would achieve the same at far lesser cost.

1) A bridge at a reasonable cost. Other comparable bridges around the world have been built at a cost of around £300 million in today's money. Indeed the previous Forth road bridge cost £19 million which equals £320 million in today's values. The only reason against this which I have been able to obtain from anybody close to government is that there could, theoretically, be some unspecified geological conditions in present day Scotland which would require this. However since this would only be the case if there had been massive & immensely destructive volcanic perturbations in the Edinburgh area over the last 44 years & as this has not been noticed it cannot be taken seriously.

2) The Norwegians have, over the last 3 decades 700 kilometres of tunnels at costs of between £3.2 million & £10 million per km. Since then airform tube manufacturing has reduced the cost of building tunnels in the most difficult ground so this should be feasible for no more than £40 million. Admittedly the Scottish Office claim that it would cost £4,673 million to do this but it is a matter of fact that it has been done for under 100th of that cost elsewhere. Even the entire Glendoe power project with 9km of tubed tunnel came in at £160 million which means the tunnelling must have been similar in cost to the Norwegian example. The only semi-official reason I have been given for this disparity is that EU regulations require a 3rd, small, safety tunnel & it seems difficult to see why this should increase basic costs 1,000 fold.

3) Recabling the bridge. This has been done with many bridges worldwide & should cost about £14 million in today's money. Materials available today are very much stronger than those in 1966 when the bridge was completed, indeed carbon nanotubes can be 300 times stronger than good steel. This would be more than is useful but, since the towers have been strengthened since completion it is clear that the bridge road could even be widened to 5 lanes for approximately this price or double decked for a relatively modest price as was done with Lisbon's April 25th Bridge.

I am asking all Scotland's MSPs to give the reasons for costs between 8 & 1,000 times what has been achieved elsewhere since there seems to be astonishing reticence on the subject. It should be the case that all MSPs can answer it. Indeed if any MSP proposes to vote for this & has the people's best interests at heart then, by definition, they will be able to provide a credible explanation. I am forced to ask all MSPs because only 1 of all my constituency & regional representatives even acknowledged the question & that answer, referred to in (1) was clearly not credible. Since I am posting this query on my blog I will also be willing to publish your various responses if you are willing.

Scots government has an abysmal record of such waste.

Scotland's First Minister, Donald Dewar made a specific promise that the Parliament building would cost "not one penny more than £40 million" (& took that lie as an opportunity to launch a wicked personal attack). It cost, officially, £414 million.

Between them they have contrived to pay & charge £67 million to build a Skye bridge that should have cost £15 million.

Between them they commissioned a rail link to Glasgow for about £300 million & cancelled it at a cost of £41.3 million when all parties knew they had & have an offer on the table from a private company offering to build it for £20 million. I can vouch for this personally.

They have embroiled us in spending £600 million in what looks to soon be another cancelled project to build a tram line in Edinburgh when by international comparison it should have been completed for no more than £105 million.

It seems difficult to believe that incompetence alone could achieve this result, though to be fair it is equally difficult to believe that fraud alone could. Presumably there are many many other less high profile projects by which the Scottish people have been similarly milked of our money. I hope there will be enough MSPs with integrity to either explain exactly why the Forth project needs to cost 8 to 1,000 times what it needs to cost or to vote it down.

Neil Craig
7,765 meters long and 287 meters deep undersea Eiksund Tunnel

If any of the MSPs feel that it is possible to give a credible answer to any of these questions i will, of course, publish them.

If none of them do the conclusion is inescapable.

Copies of this open letter have been sent to all our major papers. Again we will see if any of them think the fact that the Forth crossing is up to 100,000% overpriced should be reported.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010


John Redwood says
The surprises in the budget were the big increase in VAT for next year, and the decision to continue with large cash increases in total public spending over the five year period. The Chancellor, who had said that 80/20 was the right balance for spending cuts and tax increases, settled instead for a 57/43 balance in 2011-12 and for 64/36 the following year. His spending totals are:

2009-10 (Last Labour year) £669bn
2010-11 £697bn
2011-12 £700bn
2012-13 £711bn
2013-14 £722bn
2014-15 £737bn (£68bn or 10% above Labour level)

A slightly expanded comment of mine:

Cutting CT to 24% brings us back into competitivity but not close to the front runners. Ireland achieved its 7% growth largely by cutting CT to 12.5% which would require a 4% annual drop over 4 years (that would have taken another £5.5 bn in the first year). I can see why that was politically difficult but if it improves growth even a little would have been well worthwhile.

I would like to think that if the Laffer curve means the CT cuts do not cost as much as a strict arithmetical calculation would show that the saved money will be put back into further cuts. If so it would improve investor confidence markedly if the Chancellor was to say so.

Apart from the CT cut it is a budget for fiscal responsibility rather than growth. However putting a tough framework in place while the government's honeymoon period is on is worthwhile (& properly puts the opprobrium on the previous lot).

Having plugged the massive leak in the ship of state I hope the next years will be put towards getting the engine of growth running. China is managing 11%, India 10% & the world average is returning to 5%. There is no doubt that we can do so very much better than 2%. On those grounds I would have liked to see the cuts more targeted on particular, regulatory departments & quangos. 30% across the board does not achieve structural change whereas a 95% cut in the "planning" regulators & "heath & safety" departments would have achieved similar cuts & ended far more economic destruction.

Thank you for speaking out Mr Redwood. It is important that the intellectual opposition to Lib/Con policies does not come exclusively from Labourites. While I think you could have saved us more than £10 billion in government (based on the savings you made as Welsh secretary) the long term effect of there being a more free market option put forward in Parliament may be even greater.

Spiked also has an interesting article on the subject & in particular on the de facto opposition to economic growth of those holding power, of all parties:
Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader and now deputy prime minister, said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme as far back as 3 January 2009 that: ‘As we come out of this recession, people will be looking for a Britain which is fairer, which is greener, where a mood of austerity, responsibility and accountability is evident not only in business but also in public life.’

David Cameron, then leader of the opposition and now prime minister, also started talking in similar terms in early 2009. He told the Conservative Party spring conference in April 2009 that ‘the age of irresponsibility is giving way to the age of austerity’.

There is no excuse for such lies. Politicians of all parties know perfectly well how to achieve high growth. I do not believe I am the only one to have given them a detailed programme & not one of them has felt it possible to dispute that this is perfectly feasible. Any politician saying that growth cannot be massively increased & that this will not solve all fiscal problems is deliberately lying & simply another fascist parasite attempting to increase state power.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010


This is a description from Heinlein's Number of the Beast of literally his best possible world. Literally because it is where, after checking literally millions of alternative universes, the protagonists elect to settle. (Admittedly they then leave because it is a bit boring.) The society is less scientifically developed than our own but this is a function of the fact that they would be detected in a more developed one - apart from that it is clearly Utopian in a feasible. It comes from the last few pages of section 2 of the book - pp 408 - 412 in my UK edition:

In this analog, the United States (called that, although boundaries differ) is not as smothered in laws, regulations, licensing, and taxes as is our native country. In consequence "illegally entered aliens" do not find it difficult to hide, once they "sling the lingo" and understand local customs.

...This United States, population under a hundred million, accepts immigrants freely...

We seem to be near the warmest part of an interglaciation. Wheat grows where our native world has frozen tundra; the Greenland icecap has vanished; lowlands are under water, coastlines much changed.

Climate and custom encourage light clothing; the preposterous "body modesty" taboo does not exist. Clothing is worn for adornment and for protection- never through "shame." Nakedness is symbolic of innocence-these people derive that symbology from the Bible used in our native culture to justify the exact opposite. The same Bible-I checked. (The Bible is such a gargantuan collection of conflicting values that anyone can "prove" anything from it.)...

The sects here are mostly Christian-on a Saturday morning one sees families headed for church in their finest Sabbath-go-to-meeting clothes. But, since nakedness is symbolic of innocence, they undress in an anteroom to enter their temple unadorned. One need not attend services to see this; the climate favors light, airy structures that are mostly roof and slender columns.

The Bible affects their penal system, again by selective quotation: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth-"

This results in a fluid code, with no intent to rehabilitate but to make the punishment fit the crime. I saw an example four days after we settled. I was driving our steam wagon and encountered a road block. A policeman told me that I could take a detour or wait twenty minutes; the highway was being used to balance a reckless driver.

I elected to pull over and wait. A man was staked with one leg stretched out at a right angle. A police wagon drove down that cleared highway, ran over his leg, turned and drove back over it.

An ambulance was waiting-but nothing was done for a timed seventeen minutes. Then surgeons amputated on the spot; the ambulance took him away and the block was removed.

I went back to my wagon and shook for many minutes, then returned home, driving cautiously. I didn't tell our family. But it was reported on radio and the evening paper had pictures-so I admitted that I had seen it. The paper noted that the criminal's insurance had been insufficient to cover the court's award to the victim, so the reckless driver had not only lost his left leg (as had his victim) but also had had most of his worldly goods confiscated.

There is no speed limit and traffic regulations are merely advisory-but there are extremely few accidents. I have never encountered such polite and careful drivers.

A poisoner is killed by poison; an arsonist is burned to death. I won't describe what is done to a rapist. But poisoning, arson, and rape are almost unknown.

My encounter with this brutal system of "balancing" almost caused me to think that my dear wife had been mistaken in picking this world-we should move! I am no longer certain. This place has no prisons, almost no crime, and

it is the safest place to raise children I've ever heard of.

We are having to relearn history. "The Years of Rising Waters" explain themselves. The change came before 1600; by 1620 new shorelines had stabilized. That had endless consequences-mass migrations, political disorder, a return of the Black Death, and much immigration from Great Britain and the lowlands of Europe while the waters rose.

Slavery never established here. Indentures, yes-many a man indentured himself to get his family away from doomed land. But the circumstances that could have created "King Cotton" were destroyed by rising waters. There are citizens here of African descent but their ancestors were not slaves. Some have indentured ancestors, no doubt-but everyone claims indentured ancestors even if they have to invent them.

Some aspects of history seem to be taboo. I've given up trying to find out what happened in 1965: "The Year They Hanged the Lawyers." When I asked a librarian for a book on that year and decade, he wanted to know why I needed access to records in locked vaults. I left without giving my name. There is free speech-but some subjects are not discussed. Since they are never defined, we try to be careful.

But there is no category "Lawyers" in the telephone book.

Taxation is low, simple-and contains a surprise. The Federal government is supported by a head tax paid by the States, and is mostly for military and foreign affairs. This state derives most of its revenue from real estate taxes. It is a uniform rate set annually, with no property exempted, not even churches, hospitals, or schools-or roads; the best roads are toll roads. The surprise lies in this: The owner appraises his own property.

There is a sting in the tail: Anyone can buy property against the owner's wishes at the appraisal the owner placed on it. The owner can hang on only by raising his appraisal at once to a figure so high that no buyer wants it- and pay three years back taxes at his new appraisal.

This strikes me as loaded with inequity. What if it's a family homestead with great sentimental value? Zeb laughs at me. "Jake, if anybody wants six hectares of hilly land and second-growth timber, we take the profit, climb into Gay-and buy more worthless land elsewhere. In a poker game, you figure what's in the pot."

Global warming, land value tax & sharia criminal law. Not a man for deferring to political correctness.

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Monday, June 21, 2010


"Tarbert" is a word describing a narrow piece of land separating 2 bits of water - narrow enough that the crew of a viking longship could carry it on their shoulders till it reached its natural element. There are a number of places in Scotland which have this name or variants such as Tarbat or Larbert, all on such land bridges. It seems to me a serendipitrous name for a site from which we can transport material destined to cross space the comparatively short distance to orbit.
A couple of days ago I wrote of the difficulty of finding sites in the southern hemisphere which would allow a balanced pairing of Space Elevators in the northern. I ended with the fact that the island of St Helena at 5.45 degrees west is on a line that goes through Spain, the tip of Cornwall & then Scotland, going through the Island of Arran, the Tarbert at the point where Kintyre is nearly bisected & then north past Oban. Tarbert is on the intersection of the latitude line & the shortest tunnel route from central Scotland to Kintyre.

Long ago I proposed the Scottish Tunnel Project whereby, in a rather smaller scale than Norway has done over the last few decades, we could bring the Scottish Highlands & Islands within easy driving distance of our industrial heartland.

Combing the 2 gives this map With new tunnels (red) & linking new roads (blue) Tarbert moves from being an isolated village nearly 200 miles by narrow roads to somewhere about 50 miles & less than an hours drive from Glasgow & the motorway south. Its current undeveloped state makes it all the easier to build a modern centre particularly if given Special Economic Zone status. With there being only 2 islands in the southern hemisphere matching points in western Europe it could be the great 21st century city of western Europe.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010


I have previously written about the Carrington Event in 1859 when a very strong solar flare produced currents in telegraph lines enabling them to work when switched off & started fires in some telegraph offices.This is thought to have been the greatest such flare in 500 years. A similar one nowadays would be likely to knock out a high proportion of all systems depending on electricity, from aircraft in flight to the national grid. The extent to which we are more dependent on electricity than in 1859 will be apparent with a moments thought.

That is why this is potentially a very important story. Much moreso than the "Millenium bug" which showed more to rerunning medieval fears than to science & indeed moreso than a genuine 20ft sea level rise, promised by Al Gore & his pals, even if it were to be true.
A ‘once-in-a-generation’ space storm is forecast to stretch from late 2012 into 2013 when the Sun’s 22- year magnetic energy cycle coincides with its 11-year peak in superpowered sun spot activity.

‘We know it’s coming but we don’t know how bad it’s going to be,’ said Dr Richard Fisher, head of Nasa’s Heliophysics division.

‘Systems will just not work. The flares rapidly change the magnetic field on the earth, like a lightning bolt. That is the solar effect.’ ..

Prof Richard Harrison from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire told Metro: ‘The sun is now waking up. It’s been very inactive but there’s a lot of debate about how dramatic its waking up will be.’
The odds must be against another 1/500 year event after all it is only141 years since the last one. On the other that is an average separation & the odds aren't very long against it happening soon.

The good news is that most of the damage can be prevented by putting all necessary circuit breakers in place; by duplicating some equipment; & by hardening equipment by completely surrounding it with metal. The bad news is that most of those in government are scientific illiterates who care nothing about anything the public aren't being told about. While "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary" real hobgoblins whose threats can be ended without hysteria are of no interest.

More from NASA

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