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Saturday, March 12, 2011


  At the time of writing the explosion at a reactor site following the earthquake, is the lead item on Google news. The actual earthquake would be in 4th spot if that item were about the quake rather than a joint one about the quake and the reactor.
An explosion at an earthquake-damaged nuclear plant was not caused by damage to the nuclear reactor but by a pumping system that failed as crews tried to bring the reactor's temperature down, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Saturday.

The next step for workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant will be to flood the reactor containment structure with sea water to bring the reactor's temperature down to safe levels, he said. The effort is expected to take two days.

Radiation levels have fallen since the explosion and there is no immediate danger,
  This fits the video which shows a significant explosion comparable to a bomb but nothing remotely like the Bomb.If this leads to a release of radiation it will be interesting to see how it compares with natural background.

     I am willing to take a small bet from anybody on the Luddite side that when radiation levels are measured in a couple of days nowhere outside the site will have a radiation level 1/5th of the natural level in Kerala, India over millions of years. Were I a natural gambler I would give very good odds on that. We will see if there are any takers.

      I am also willing to bet that the MSM  long term news coverage of this "disaster" will at least match that of the earthquake itself, as indeed it does here in this report which also mentions the earthquake death toll as 1,600 and rising. 

    I placed this comment on Tim Worstall before I had seen the cabinet statement:
Chernobyl killed 56

The eco-fascists made various predictions up to 500,000 from low level radiation (the LNT theory) but absolutely none of this has been detected, quite the opposite as fits the hormesis theory.

The cause was the abysmal lack of concern for safety in the USSR. At around the same time a train accident killed 500.

That was not nuclear and so not worth even a footnote in the media.

Expect to see deaths from this, if any, less than in a car crash but for the media to treat it as more newsworthy than the actual earthquake.
        I now think I was being overly worried and that the death toll, or indeed serious injury toll from this "catastrophe" will not match that of a serious car crash and will, in fact, be zero. Thus every remotely honest journalist or "environmentalist" will instantly acknowledge
that it is no catastrophe or indeed out of line, at least in a higher direction, than the average run of damage from the quake.. Has anybody ever met a remotely honest journalist or eco-fascist?

         The real lesson of this, as with most other natural events, is that the best route to safety is through technological progress and wealth creation. Compare the probable death toll here of about 2,000 with the 242,000 in the Tangshan earthquake of 1976. It was a magnitude 7.8, less that 1/10 the 8.9 o=f this (the Richter scale goes up 10 fold for each level). The difference is that then China was dirt poor whereas modern Japan isn't. If the eco-fascists (or MSM or politicians) care at all about human life they will strongly make this point - I don't think they do but would be glad to be proven wrong.

UPDATE Via EU referendum is a sensible article explaining "There was and will *not* be any significant release of radioactivity.

By “significant” I mean a level of radiation of more than what you would receive on – say – a long distance flight, or drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation.

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Friday, March 11, 2011


   This is something I have called for for years (#9 here) and back in 2006 during a Radio Scotland interview on their then proposal to spend £800 million cutting a new line, I suggested instead automating the system. To my surprise the interviewee was supportive of the idea.

  It was also #9 of the 26 points on the 9% Growth Party Manifesto

     I am therefore pleased to see that this is now intended.
A £290 million plan to modernise Glasgow's subway network is to receive a "substantial capital contribution" from the Scottish Government...
Mr Brown said: "The Scottish Government reaffirms its long-term commitment to helping make the subway modernisation happen, through a substantial overall capital contribution, helping SPT to raise funds from other sources.

"We are assured that SPT's enhanced modernisation case, including changes to working practices, is viable and will, therefore, help provide capital support which includes delivery of a smartcard ticketing system linked to wider integrated ticketing, new rolling stock and signalling with automation, and refurbished stations with improved accessibility including escalator replacement."

The SPT Partnership Committee agreed last year to undertake a major improvement plan which would see all 15 stations redeveloped, access for disabled passengers improved and a smartcard system implemented. More frequent trains and extended opening hours are also planned, along with driverless trains.

    Current reporting has been light on costings but this previous report was more helpful.
Trains on the Glasgow Subway are already semi-automated, with acceleration and braking centrally controlled. Drivers control doors and start trains.

SPT said the upgrade would cost £290m over 30 years compared to the £220m cost of keeping the existing system going. It said this would reduce running costs over that period from £320m to £100m, and potentially boost passengers by 40 per cent to 18 million.

Funding would largely come from borrowing...
SPT said the 6.5-mile loop, whose 15 stations connect the city centre, west end and south side, cost more and more to run while its 13 million annual passenger total was falling because of the recession.

Improvements are more expensive than on other systems because the Subway's trains and tracks are a uniquely small size. This is the legacy of rival railway companies who funded it preventing any of them gaining advantage by being able to use it for their own trains. The system is the third oldest in the world after London and Budapest.
    The 40% increase in carriage seems not overambitious since an automated system could run faster and 24/7 and should pay for the upgrade. I have some questions about how much of the cost will be taken up by the cosmetic stuff and how much by making it driverless. Since the driverless bit is described as the last of 6 improvements "delivery of a smartcard ticketing system linked to wider integrated ticketing, new rolling stock and signalling with automation, and refurbished stations with improved accessibility including escalator replacement ..all 15 stations redeveloped, access for disabled passengers ...along with driverless trains." I assume that bit of the cost is no more than 1/6th ie £50 million, I suspect quite a bit less. doing it cheaper would not upset me but this is Scotland where the politicians normally ensure that 90% of the cost of any public project "disappears".

     Note that if this can be done, the cost of making the Glasgow-Edinburgh railway driverless, another long standing proposal of mine (#10 on the above linked list), should have similar costs. At 44 miles that would be 4.6 times the subway length , though with only 4 stations. On that basis making it driverless would cost £230 million. There would also be a necessary cost in revamping the platforms at the end to suit sending single carriage units every few minutes rather than multi-carriage trains every half hour, but probably also the extra length wouldcut the marginal cost per mile. However having departures every few minutes and able to run 24/7 would substantially increase both the capacity of the route and its attractiveness to passengers. Not having to wait half an hour would shorten effective journey time as much as the £3 billion high speed train the LudDims seriously propose.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011


Beijing now

    National influence tends to correlate with national wealth. Not always and not completely. Up till WW1 the USA was the world's leading economy but considered by those in charge (ie the European powers) as rather minor. The USSR always "punched above its weight" in opposing the USA in the cold war. However in both cases when reality made its presence felt it turned out that economic powers asserted its proper position.

      So with China's economy growing 10% a year it is inevitable that it will rise to global dominance unless the older powers also go for growth rather than going for recession.

      Some pointers to China's current rise:

      Chinese submarines can easily stalk and destroy America's carrier forces. This "Sputnik moment" has gone largely unreported but that only means nothing is being done.

       They have hypersonic missiles which can sink any US ship in the eastern Pacific.

       The Chinese submarine fleet now outnumbers the US one:
The analysis states that China has “the largest conventional submarine force in the world, totaling more than 60 boats” plus “a number of nuclear-powered fast-attack and ballistic missile subs.” Does that mean China has approximately 70 or more submarines? The total is unspecified, most likely because western analysts aren’t really sure how many submarines China has built. The report adds that many of China’s surface ships and submarines are armed with “supersonic sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missiles” (emphasis added.) This is a critically-important fact...

....the U.S. submarine fleet is highly-trained and experienced in blue-water operations and that Chinese submarines will take years to develop those same skills. I’d tend to agree with that analysis, but there is the very disconcerting reminder [fourth link] that in 2007, a Chinese attack submarine successfully penetrated the defensive screen of the USS Kitty Hawk in the Pacific Ocean and surfaced within easy “kill” range of the U.S. carrier. That indicates that (A) the Chinese submarine crews are far more skilled that previously thought, (B) that the U.S. Navy is way too overconfident, or (C) both options could be true

   A pure comparison of numbers may not mean much but the Chinese ones average newer and we know at least some of them are quiet enough that the US cannot detect them, so it is at least even money that the real disparity is even more to the Chinese side than the numbers show.

    Another point is that while surface ships are big and impressive and popular with those who want a navy to show off, they are also vulnerable, not just to submarines but also aircraft, missiles and space observation. If you want a navy for use rather than show go for submarines.

     Two other points arise in relation to the current Libyan imbroglio. Firstly, despite all the media coverage of our embarrassing attempts to get our citizens out of Libya , all 800 of them, the Chinese have, quietly and without fuss, got their 30,000 home. Secondly, more disconcerting because it points towards intent rather than just capability, is their decision to support UN sanctions, though not yet military action, against Libya. Previously China has stuck to the position, correct in international law, that unprovoked aggression against other countries is illegal and that internal matters, short of genocide, are internal. That they have changed suggests 1 of 3 things - that they believe Gaddafi is so much worse than some of their friend (Burma, N. Korea) and ours (Thaci in Kosovo, Georgia, Congo) as to be a special case; or that they are more anxious to placate the Americans than ever before; or that they are starting to think of themselves as the potential aggresors rather than victims.. Of these 3 only the 3rd is credible.
       Another point is that China is still building a space capacity, still expecting a Moon landing by 2017. The US, on the other hand has, with the return of the last Shuttle, lost its capacity to put people into space at all, except by buying a ticket on the Russian one.
Discovery Final Shuttle Landing
    Note that I do not object to China getting wealthier, they have earned it and so far at least, have not done it by invading anybody*. I object only to the fact that western governments have deliberately prevented our economies achieving the similar growth we so easily could have.
* I believe, looking at the historic record, that since the industrial revolution produced real economic growth within the normal person's lifetime, no state has been strengthened by taking over a neighbour with a resentful population. Previously this was how "empire building" was done. Nowadays the effort required to increase growth by 1%  for 10 years is far less than that needed to occupy an adjoining province which theoretically would add 10% to national wealth. The only exceptions, which prove the rule, is when the native populations were tiny or exterminated. This goes against most received wisdom but look at the record. The USA expanded into largely uninhabited areas and grew strong - Britain in India and Africa wasted our strength. Germany did well economically despite having no real empire, up until it was taken over by a loony who thought they needed Russian land (minus the population) .  Japan tried to take China as its colony in the 1930s and got mired in an unwinnable war. In the post war period it stayed home and made money. The USSR expended its strength holding down eastern Europe but is now doing well and grew fast in the 1930s too. Croatia, while no super power, has not lost from occupying Krajina, with US aid, because they were ruthless enough to get rid of the population - Kosovo & Afgahnaistan are and Iraq was enormous costs.
  Incidentally the fact that the Moon and Earth orbit are uninhabited is a very strong argument for going there.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011


   This reported by EU Referendum and the Mail has had remarkably little coverage.
Around 600 chanting demonstrators had massed around the court in support of Mr Hayes. Roads were blockaded and dozens of police officers deployed to keep order...

A stand-off followed with several demonstrators staging a sit-down protest in front of police vehicles, refusing to let them pass. Several arrests were made and police dog-handlers called to the scene.

As he emerged from the court surrounded by his supporters, Mr Hayes said: 'The judges are breaking the law in their own courts. I asked him [Mr Peake] if he was serving under his oath of office.
'I asked three times for him to confirm this and he refused, so I civilly arrested the judge and I called upon some people in the court to assist me in this.
'[The protesters] were acting lawfully and the police should not have arrested them.'

The BCG's main aim is a rallying call for 'lawful rebellion.' Leaflets handed out by the crowd said: 'We, the British People have a right to govern ourselves
  The BBC reponse, local only, seems remarkably muted. 600 ordinary people "rioting" and imprisoning a sitting judge is not exactly common (even the 300 counted by the BBC). By comparison when a student riot broke into a building housing the Conservative HQ it was first item on the broadcast and paper news for several days. OK these guys did not do damage but it is also clearly a more directed, direct and thought out challenge to the liars, thieves, and organlegging war criminals running this country

    I would have thought that any judge would have been happy to say that he was complying with his oath of office. The refusal to do so is therefore astonishing - I assume that the BCG have got something and that there is some part of that oath which would obviously be incompatible with their current actions. Perhaps either enforcing EU laws or judges interpreting laws into existence that Parliament never passed.

     This seems a very British legalistic sort of rebellion, but all the more effective for that. If 600 people had rioted in a traditional, rather scary, manner it would have been big news. I have to assume it isn't because those in charge don't know what to make of it. As somebody who has previously pointed out that there is a legal duty to bring mass murderers to justice when the judicial system is so corrupt that they won't I can't deny sympathy for this group.

     Comments on the Mail article also seem fairly supportive.

    The Liverpool Echo report is the most thorough.

    The British Constitution Group website is here.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011


      This comes from Sarah Palin's Going Rogue (p364) she says, in relation to her own media smearing and subjection to blatantly false ethic complaints
Prior to the election of 1994, the Democrats had held a majority in the House of Representatives for four decades. Working with a team of grassroots activists, Newt selected and trained candidates, shaped a political message , and become what Horowitz called "something rare in Republican politics - a genuine movement leader."

     To the left that meant one thing: he had to be eliminated. There are many fine Democrat public servants, but sadly many in the party have moved increasingly to the left, and often the beating heart of their political warfare has been the personal destruction of their political enemies. Generally speaking, after decades of failed social policies and weak national security positions, the party doesn't have a strong base of success from which to win political arguments. So it targets people instead of ideas.

     Back in the 1990s, Democrats had Newt in their sights. And strangely enough, the more influential he became, the more "unethical" he became - at least if you counted the number of complaints filed against him. Horowitz wrote, "Eventually Democrats lodged seventy four separate charges against Gingrich, sixty five of which were summarily "laughed out of the committee."

     Over time the cloud of ethical questions hanging over Newt reached critical mass. Instead of defending their own, Republicans on certain committees forced Newt to concede to one charge.

    In my case, one by one, every ethics charge filed against me and my staff was tossed out. But there was one that was settled with a finding of no wrongdoing....
  With the exception of John McCain that is easily the strongest approval she gives of any current Republican leader. She clearly accepts that he is extremely capable and was walking the path she now is before him. It seems even the uncommitted accept he is the "most brilliant" possible candidate which is, or should be, a good qualification for running America. Incidentally Jerry Pournelle has a similar view.
I presume that most of my readers know that Newt Gingrich is an old friend. I first met him when my phone rang and a voice announced that he was Newt Gingrich, a Congressman from Georgia, and he had just read A Step Farther Out and wanted to discuss it with me. He had got my phone number from the publisher. I had never had a cold call from a Congressman who didn't want money. Newt and I became friends, and I used to see him when I went to Washington...

.. But I am in complete agreement with him that energy policy is perhaps the most important task of the United States today. We're in deep trouble, and until we staunch the bleeding, we won't solve our economic problems. We can't spend our way to prosperity, but we can divert a lot of our spending toward sensible energy policies.
  Energy policy is also Palin's area. I have said before that the most inspiring remark during the last Presidential campaign was her saying "Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines and build more nuclear plants". I don't think even honest "environmentalists" could deny that had that been done America would now be in at least its second year of good growth though they would think that a bad thing.

     I think the odds are quite heavily that Sarah Palin can secure the Republican nomination if she chooses. She is enormously popular with the grassroots. I am less sanguine that she can beat Obama,. I think it more than 50% likely she could because he is deservedly unpopular and she is an outstanding campaigner. Though she would deserve to more than 50% leaves a lot of uncertainty. The media smearing of her has been just so overwhelming that polls show that though nearly 50% approve strongly just over 50%  think the opposite, which is not a good starting position.

      I think it would be wise for the 2 of them to agree a common platform with Newt for President and Sarah for VP and Energy Secretary. This depends on Palin being much more ambitious to improve America than personally ambitious.  I believe she is. Her saying that "I'll run if nobody else does" seems more reticent than one might expect.If so the very act of visibly sacrificing for the general good would greatly strengthen both her own and the ticket's popularity.

       As a result 2 terms of Gingrish followed by 2 terms of Palin is an ideal result better than merely 2 terms for her would be. Running as VP and with a senior cabinet post would prove to everybody, perhaps even slightly to herself, that she has the experience for the top job. This would also heal the wounds that the Tea Party predominance in Republican victories has brought about without handing power back to "country club Republicans".

       We know that the US media will go to absolutely any lengths to smear any progressives - Palin has already experienced this which gives her an advantage in that we know that had there been anything remotely approaching dirt it would already have been thrown. As VP candidate she would be well placed to carry the fight back to the media and since the greatest US media mogul is on record as saying that the government should impose China's one child policy on Americans too she has ammunition to use.

      Once in power any leader risks falling under the sway of career civil servants (less so in America than Britain it still happens). The top job is always a lonely one. Newt and "Sarah Barracuda" together would be difficult to bring under the sway of anybody. He has an outstanding record of new policy development, including a commitment to X-Prizes. She is recognised as having a forensic eye for detail and pushing though policies against the vested interests.

      I did suggest this in less detail before. Will they do it? Who knows but I see no downside to it from Newt's point of view and relatively little from hers.


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Monday, March 07, 2011


   I hadn't noticed this before
Scotland's renewable electricity target for the next decade is being raised from 50 per cent to 80 per cent, First Minister Alex Salmond announced today.

The FM confirmed the Scottish Government's increased national target - now 80 per cent of Scottish electricity consumption to come from renewables by 2020 - ahead of a major international conference in Edinburgh next week to help accelerate investment in the growing low carbon economy.
Scotland's existing target was established in 2007 and, aided by a rapid expansion in wind power, the country is on course to exceed its interim target of 31 per cent in 2011.
  I have previously shown this table of Scotland's electricity production
    Back when I thought the intention was "only" to destroy half our power I referred to Holyrood's unanimous decision to do this over the next 10 years as "clinically insane". This is far beyond such lunacy.

   Cutting out 100% of the nuclear (purple) and thereby most of the pumped storage which is largely pumped up by nuclear power during the night) plus gas and coal (light blue and grey)  would leave our current hydro and windmills at about 9GW. If that is to be 80% of power we might be allowed another 2.25 GW of coal and gas. A total of 11.25 GW instead of the 50 we currently use, so we will lose 77.5% of our electricity. This obviously takes no account of periods, such as during the December freeze when windmills provided only about 0.2% of our power for several weeks. In periods like that we would be down to 7 GW, 14% of current power. It is known by every person competent to be in government that electric power correlates closely with national wealth so the SNP deliberately intend to cut our GNP by 77% over the next 9 years - which means continuous recession of 15% per annum until we are the coldest and most northerly 3rd world country.

        This is not the worst. Since the power interconnector from England has low capacity we will  probably have to evacuate several million people from Scotland in winters of such weather to keep deaths below 100,000 annually. I assume Mr Salmond has been told this by every competent official with access to his office. Perhaps global warming will finally start and prevent such winters.


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Sunday, March 06, 2011


  The Press Complaints commission have lived down to expectations. They rejected my complaint reported here and here that the Herald in refusing to publish a factual reply to specific charges put by another letter writer, naming me, was in breach of their alleged standards. This flies in the face of a principle they have previously applied. They break the previous precedent on the basis that some things have changed in their principles since then but make no attempt to say where, when or why.

    This was expected because the PCC have previous for saying that just because something in their Code is stated this does not mean they actually meant it. It is hardly surprising that, if they don't have any respect for their written rules, they will have equally little for precedents.

      The dog that didn't bark in their response is their failure to condemn, or even mention, that fact that the Herald editor had quite blatantly and deliberately lied to them saying "in the past two years, we have published 20 letters from Mr Craig, the vast majority of which have been about renewables and other energy-related subjects". In fact I had only had 4 letters overall published and only 2 which could be considered on related subjects. I assume from the refusal to mention it that have acknowldged it was a total lie. A newspaper deliberately perjuring themselves in testimony to the PCC must obviously, in the PCC's eyes be more serious than merely deliberately lying to readers. By making not even the tiniest complaint about this the PCC have openly and deliberately given a green light to any publication to tell any lie in a PCC investigation and also in any newspaper story.

      My thanks to the Press Complaints Council for proving, again, that they are, under no circumstances an honest professional oversight body and in fact are nothing but a newspaper funded lobby organisation.On top of that they have confirmed that any paper that accepts them as a referee of professional standards can, under no circumstances, honestly claim to have any professional standards that involve not lying.

      I can't say any of this is surprising but since I believe in the experimental method, considered it worth proving.
Commission’s decision in the case of Craig v The Herald (Glasgow)

The complainant was concerned that the newspaper had published three readers’ responses to a letter he had submitted on the subject of renewable energy (headlined “Renewable energy is more costly than other clean sources of electrical power”). One of the replies highlighted mistakes in the complainant’s correspondence and he had argued that the newspaper’s failure to print his response to that criticism both denied him an opportunity to reply and would have misled readers into thinking that he could not formulate a rebuttal.

The Commission recognised that the letters page provides, in many publications, a valuable platform for readers to engage in frank exchanges of robust opinion with other interested parties. While Clause 1 (iii) permits the publication of such comment, newspapers still have a responsibility to ensure that letters are accurate and, if a significant error does occur, a fair opportunity for reply is given when reasonably called for.

The Commission noted that when outlining his concerns, the complainant had cited an upheld adjudication by the Press Council in 1983 which stated that in circumstances where a letter named an individual and challenged him to reply to questions “there [was] no doubt that the editor was under an obligation to publish the complainant’s answers”. There were a number of reasons why the Commission could not rely on this particular adjudication when considering the complainant’s argument: 28 years had passed since it was issued; the Press Council was disbanded and replaced by the independent Press Complaints Commission in 1991; the Code has been revised approximately 30 times since the inception of the PCC; and each case must be considered on its individual merits.

On this occasion, the complainant’s response to Mr Hansen’s letter did not identify any inaccuracies: it merely accepted the author’s position that the figures he had given were incorrect and offered a further interpretation of statistics relating to the production of electricity.

The Commission made clear that the selection and presentation of material is considered to be a matter for discretion by individual editors provided, of course, that the Code of Practice has not been otherwise breached. In circumstances where Mr Hansen had not demanded a response from the complainant, the Commission took the view that the newspaper was permitted to make an editorial judgement as to whether its readers would be interested in the complainant’s further correspondence and when it was appropriate to bring the debate to a close.

Readers generally would have recognised that the subject of renewable energy and government plans for sustainable power was a matter of ongoing discussion. They would not have been misled into believing that the newspaper’s failure to publish the complainant’s further thoughts on the matter meant that he felt unable to respond or, indeed, that all parties had reached a consensus. No breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) was established by the complaint.

Finally, the Commission turned to the complaint under Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply). It noted that no inaccuracies had been determined as to raise a breach of Clause 1 of the Code and it therefore followed that there was no breach of Clause 2.

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