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Saturday, September 17, 2011


  Some costings from SpaceX by Elon Musk

The price of a standard flight on a Falcon 9 rocket is $54 million.....

The average price of a full-up NASA Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station is $133 million including inflation, or roughly $115m in today’s dollars, and we have a firm, fixed price contract with NASA for 12 missions. This price includes the costs of the Falcon 9 launch, the Dragon spacecraft, all operations, maintenance and overhead, and all of the work required to integrate with the Space Station. If there are cost overruns, SpaceX will cover the difference. (This concept may be foreign to some traditional government space contractors ....

The total company expenditures since being founded in 2002 through the 2010 fiscal year were less than $800 million, which includes all the development costs for the Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Dragon. ....

The Falcon 9 launch vehicle was developed from a blank sheet to first launch in four and half years for just over $300 million. The Falcon 9/Dragon system, with the addition of a launch escape system, seats and upgraded life support, can carry seven astronauts to orbit, more than double the capacity of the Russian Soyuz, but at less than a third of the price per seat.

SpaceX has been profitable every year since 2007, despite dramatic employee growth and major infrastructure and operations investments. We have over 40 flights on manifest representing over $3 billion in revenues.

....SpaceX intends to make far more dramatic reductions in price in the long term when full launch vehicle reusability is achieved. We will not be satisfied with our progress until we have achieved this long sought goal of the space industry.

For the first time in more than three decades, America last year began taking back international market-share in commercial satellite launch.

By comparison
The shuttle program overall costs $1.3 billion per launch, $60 million in incremental cost.

The total cost of the shuttle program has been $145 billion USD as of early 2005, and is estimated to be $174 billion when the shuttle retires in 2010. NASA's budget for 2005 allocated 30%, or $5 billion, to space shuttle operations; this was decreased in 2006 to a request of $4.3 billion.

Per-launch costs can be measured by dividing the total cost over the life of the program (including buildings, facilities, training, salaries, etc) by the number of launches. With 115 missions (as of 6 August 2006), and a total cost of $150 billion ($145 billion as of early 2005 + $5 billion for 2005,[19] this gives approximately $1.3 billion per launch. Another method is to calculate the incremental (or marginal) cost differential to add or subtract one flight — just the immediate resources expended/saved/involved in that one flight. This is about $60 million U. S. dollars.

Early cost estimates of $118 per pound ($260/kg) of payload were based on marginal or incremental launch costs, and based on 1972 dollars and assuming a 65,000 pound (30 000 kg) payload capacity.[22][23] Correcting for inflation, this equates to roughly $36 million incremental per launch costs. Compared to this, today's actual incremental per launch costs are about two thirds more, or $60 million per launch.
  SpaceX has already said it intends to launch its Falcon Heavy Lift Vehicle, putting the equivalent of a 737 in orbit in 2012/13

  We are very close to the day when commercial space development really takes off. When it is possible to book a flight to orbit, quickly,  regularly and reliably and at 1/20th of the present cost we are likely to see space industrialisation expanding at a rate similar to the doubling in about a year that Moore's law has shown in computerisation.

Update - I sent part of this to Jerry Pournelle in response to anither commenter who asked where is the real life version of his Hansen Enterprizes. He used it here

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Glasgow Skeptics Lecture Against Scepticism

  Yesterday - and so to the Glasgow Skeptics lecture by Eugenie Scott boss of  the American self styled "National Center for Science Education" to lecture us on how much creationism and "global warming denial" are equally anti-scientific.

   The evidence that being sceptical about warming is thus anti-scientific is that "97% of  climate scientists believe it" which is both a lie, it was "97%" of a carefully selected group of 75 and irrelevant. No other real evidence was produced.

    Surprisingly she did mention the 31,000 scientists who signed the Oregon Petition (repeatedly saying 30,000) but said it didn't count because 30,000 is a small % of all scientists (whereas 75 isn't?)

   The reason given for creationism not being science is that there is no evidence against evolution which is a perfectly correct assessment but one whose implications for CAGW went unmentioned.

    The NCSE appear primarily to exist to lobby schools to "educate" children only in what they believe. This was justified by saying that some industry lobbyists also produce material for use in schools. She gave,an example of such dubious material a leaflet containing the statement in opposition to the CAGW claim that CO2 increase plant and crop growth. If the NCSE is an honest body rather than an organisation of Fascist child abusers then, by definition, that claim must either be proven wrong or at least seriously unproven. In fact there is no real scientific dispute that increased CO2 improves such growth. The experiments have been done, repeatedly, and are conclusive. Ergo Ms Scott and the NCSE are lying, anti-science, child abusing fascists.

    Another prominent reason to deny warming "deniers" a platform  was that so many of them are of the "economic right" who believe in dreadful things like "individual liberty".  Really.

   An example of their successful campaigning was given. A parent had complained  about his child being shown the Al Gore film without any contrary view, The school had agreed, for balance, to allow a debate on the subject as well. Since Gore's film has been repeatedly proven, in court and elsewhere, to be a pack of lies rather than an "education", while a debate is, by its nature, balanced this is not really balance (that would be giving somebody an hour and a half to tell lies about Gore and the alarmists which might be difficult). Nonetheless NCSE swung unto action and got even that much honest discussion banned. Clearly the term lying, anti-science, child abusing fascists is not overstating.

And so to questions:

Patrick Harvie, leader of the Green Party

had his own agenda. Boasting, correctly, that unlike the USA, there is unanimity  among our Holyrood parties about CAGW and the need to destroy most of our economy to give an example to rest of the world. Then he got on his new hobbyhorse - the end of any sort of lily livered "compromise" with cigarette smokers. Something with which Ms Scott enthusiastically agreed.I don't remember the Greens mentioning this a few months ago among their election promises but that's how it goes.

Then there was a question from a specially invited creationist. Perhaps they had been unable to find a CAGW sceptic to invite - perhaps not.

Then I got my question - roughly
I suggest that the proper comparison should not be between creationists and warming sceptics but between creationists and warming alarmists. As a teacher of scientific principles  you will know that a theory can only be scientific if it is falsifiable, ie that supporters accept some condition under which it can be disproven. Beyond that the principle of Occam's Razor is that one go for the theory with least unknown assumptions. Could you explain what would be required to prove CAGW false and why the inherently simpler theory, that we are not currently experiencing catastrophic warming is not valid. I made mention of the fact that if Hansen's original predictions were correct we must now be 1 C warmer than then and we aren't which appears to be some falsification. Surely since we are expected to spend many £ trillions on ameliorating CAGW we should first have it unambiguously proven

   Moreover you have claimed a "consensus" though there are many eminent scientists who disagree. For example Professor Ivar Gaiever has yesterday resigned from his professional body the American Physical Society citing their support of CAGW which he described as a "new religion". In contrast I ask you to name one single solitary scientist, anywhere in the world who supports CAGW and isn't' employed by the state. I recently asked this question of Patrick Harvie, on radio, and 4 other alarmists with him and he couldn't answer it, or be fair be didn't answer it for whatever reason.
  Well guess what she couldn't or at least made no attempt whatsoever to answer any of that. She merely repeated ad nauseum that CAGW was correct, that 97% supported it and that there was a consensus. She repeatedly simply refused to attempt to produce any evidence, any falsifiabiolity conditions or name any independent scientist pushing it.
   The next questioner did acknowledge that I might have a point in that some alarmists have overstated their case but then spoilt it by comparing sceptics to Nazis. And so it went.
  Shortly afterwards I was approached by Harvie's halitosical companion who informed me that it was impossible to deny CAGW. Since I had just been doing so I replied that I thought it was perfectly possible to deny that average global temperature had gone up 1 C since 1988 and he said "No it isn't". I will be emailing Harvie to see if he wants to dissociate himself from that claim, since he must know it to be a lie, otherwise it must be taken as representing the standard of honesty to which the Scottish greens deliberately aspire.
     I met Mike from the Scottish Sceptic blog who is working on creating  an organistation of real sceptics. Contact him here if interested.
     At the bar we got into conversation with a couple of the organiers of Glasgow Skeptic and they were actually pretty nice guys, surprised and interested in the facts. I did express regret that she had not answered any questions but was told that that was unreasonable because "she isn't a climate expert". Personally I think if you are going to lecture on why nobody should be allowed to express a contrary view you really should be.
In conversation I suggested a public debate between 4 or 6 speakers to air the subject properly and put on YouTube. They were not averse, though they wanted them to be "climatologists". If that is defined the same on both sides I have little doubt we could find our side and suspect they would have more difficulty. However it would have to be put to "The Committee" controlled by somebody who was totally opposed to letting "minority" opinions be heard. I guess this is the difference between "skeptics"  and we sceptics.
      The lecture should be up on YouTube and I will link to it.
      I hope that if the Glasgow Skeptics decide they are not prepared to have a real debate the Scottish Sceptics will.
  Mike has blogged on the subject here. He feels that those using the name "skeptic" have some obligation to be sceptical.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nobel Physics Prize Winner Ivar Giaever Resigns from APS in Disgust at Warming Alarm Scam

  The American Physical Society has a very politically correct view of catastrophic warming claiming ""The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now."

  However not all scientists are prepared to ignore the dishonesty of their "professional" body.

In his resignation note, Ivar Giaever wrote: "In the APS, it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"
"The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this 'warming' period."
Giaever, co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1973, is an institute professor emeritus at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., a professor at large at the University of Oslo, and the president of Applied BioPhysics Inc...
"We have heard many similar warnings about the acid rain 30 years ago and the ozone hole 10 years ago or deforestation but the humanity is still around. The ozone hole width has peaked in 1993," he continued.
"Moreover, global warming has become a new religion. We frequently hear about the number of scientists who support it. But the number is not important: only whether they are correct is important. We don't really know what the actual effect on the global temperature is. There are better ways to spend the money," he added.
  Lets see if the BBC, which has regularly led the news with "Scientists say global warming is worse than previously..." because some minor researcher has said something without evidence will report this. Clearly if they have an respect for the "due balance" they are legally required to show it will not only lead the news but come out as a newsflash several minutes before. Nope. As I write this Google News has 12 reports, 2 from the relatively trustworthy Fox News and none from the ever corrupt lying fascist parasites of the BBC or indeed  any other part of the UK MSM.

   We have long had the supporters of alarmism claiming that sceptics are "anti-science" (I have sent a letter to the Spectator and will to others suggesting they apologise - I will report if any of them publish it). Clearly telling a Nobel winner in Physics (not like Gores Nobel for political; correctness) is "anti-science" is not something which any alarmist with any slightest hint of integrity could do or even could support others doing. So doubtless every single member of the alarmist community who is not personally a corrupt, wholly dishonest, fascist, parasite, deliberately lying to us will wish to apologise to Professor Giaever. I do not exclude the possibility that there is, somewhere, some member of the alarmist community who, under sufficient prodding, is capable of showing 1 millionth as much integrity as a decent human being..

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Short Global Warming Letter in the Metro

  I am told this letter, well actually a small part of it, was in the Metro free paper on Tuesday. The Metro don't do long letters and rarely very serious ones so I am pleasantly surprised. Haven't seen it so I don't know how much was in it. The letter is largely a cannibalisation of the stuff the Scotsman edited from my previous letter.
750,000 Scottish homes are in fuel poverty; our few remaining real industries are expected to compete with economies where energy prices are under 1/4 of ours. All this is because our government insist on using the money to subsidise windmills and other "renewables" because they allege it is necessary to reduce CO2 and prevent the catastrophic global warming we allegedly see around us. Paradoxically the same people demanding this oppose nuclear power though it combines the advantage of being available ay under 1/4 the cost with the possible advantage of being much more CO2 free than even windmills.
But is this alleged catastrophic warming true or a fraud created by government so that we will submit to more tax and regulation?
I have asked repeatedly and no alarmist, anywhere, is able to name a single scientist who supports the catastrophic warming scare and is not paid by government. I intend to keep asking. Perhaps some reader here believes they can name one.
The largest expression of scientist's opinion on the subject is the widely unreported 31,000 who have signed the Oregon Petition saying that CO2 rise is not only not catastrophic but likely to be beneficial (more CO2 means better growing crops). The BBC, with typical disregard for their legal duty of "due balance" maintain that catastrophic warming is more widely accepted than the law of gravity, censoring any mention of this document - showing literally more heavy censorship than Stalin ever practised over Lysenkoism.
It will be obvious to anybody who understands statistics that it is statistically impossible for "97%" of state funded "climate scientists" to be promoting alarmism and 0% of independent scientists doing so without it being a case of deliberate promotion, to a career making or destroying extent, by the politicians funding the former which is why my unanswered question is very relevant.
When one bears in mind that those and such as those can sell intermittent and unreliable "renewable" electricity to the grid at 46.1p per kwh when French nuclear is produced at 1.4p a kwh (a 3,190% difference) and that the Prime Minister's father in law is making nearly £1,000 a day from "renewable" subsidies, it is clear that there are considerable incentives to keep the scare going despite the obvious lack of evidence, after 32 years, that the planet is suffering.

In modern times the main driver of economic growth has been, and continues to be, energy.
So such government parasitism explains why we are in recession while China and India are growing 10% annually

Ref - 750,000 fuel poverty

Father in law's £1000 a day

Oregon Petition - all BBC mentions ever of Oregon Petition - - 2 out of the 3 are responses from members of the public.

BBC claim warming more certain than the law of gravity

"In modern times the main driver of economic growth has been, and continues to be, energy".

paying 46.1p for power available at 1.4p (Scotsman "new vistas for domestic power" 7th Sept)

PS The Metro published a reply yesterday, quite unusual for the relatively light lettercolumn they run, and it supported what I said.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Building a New Free Market Scottish Party - Net Democracy

   In my last article on a new Scottish free market party I suggested "an online, members only policy discussion board" which would be a fairly simple thing to operate. There are many such discussion boards and at the simplest would involve only ensuring that everybody allowed membership has to be a party member. That was pretty much what I was suggesting.

   Also that all policies to be proposed at the party conference should first be put up for discussion online. I would prefer a moderator on the site - this may seem anomalous when I have run afoul of moderators in the past but the job of a moderator, when properly done, is to prevent a discussion running off topic; long repetitive posts, usually asserting without evidence; short "Yes it is/no it isn't" stuff; and personal invective. All of which clutters up genuine debate.

  Other questions:

 1 - should it be open to public view - I think it should. Seeing open sensible debate would be a refreshing  change in British politics and bypass the political "pundits" who, particularly at the BBC, are likely to be an unreliable channel. It also has the very great advantage that seeing what is going on is the best possible advertising and anybody seriously interested is likely to stump up for membership.

2 - should people use their real names - I am agnostic on this. I almost always use a variant of my name online and think it adds credibility. Would you be more likely to believe the assurances of John Brown or Truthteller? However I would not lightly refuse to hear the latter and understand people can have real reasons not to be too public.

  However I am inspired to take it further by Joseph Friedlander who commented
Indeed, if you could provide live nominating and voting processes and evolved not merely the constitution but the party platform and agenda online you might energize the party to a great degree because they would be fighting for what they had asked for, and come to agree with, not that which was pushed down their throats by indefatigable activists. Love to see you detail something like that in another post.
I would love to see that sort of thing spread to the US.
    I do not have the technical expertise to pontificate here but it is clear that it would not be technically difficult to arrange to register a single vote - 1 per member. Pretty much a combination of a well moderated discussion board and the government E-Petition site. At least for the present Such votes could be non-binding or subject to ratification by the party conference. Leadership does sometimes mean making decisions not just following a headcount. However when the leadership or Conference overruled the online opinion it would feel it necessary to give very good reasons why and would be held accountable as events either justified the decision or otherwise.

   Alternately there could be a right for the party execuctive to use a block vote of 4% of the membership total either for any vote or merely for a vote against change. This would allow a truly popular opinion to outvote the leadership but not a small but active special interest.

   In the longer term we may well see internet "town hall meetings" dominating government everywhere. On the other hand we may not. Right now I suggest first steps rather than the final destination.

   Going back to the subject of a moderator - imagine a formal parliamentary debate without the Speaker. It would be bound to degenerate into chaos. The net is less subject to that because it is impossible to literally shout down the opposition. Nonetheless comments, particularly on politically correct sites do range from a long trail of answers answering nothing, to personal vituperation and obscenity.

    I suspect both a light handed moderator and limitation to party members, required to maintain basic manners, would provide a much more reasoned debate than we see in normal discussion groups, or indeed Parliament or BBC TV "debates".

   I have also previously proposed broadcast debates on subjects of interest. This is something a medium sized party could do and put online even though our government funded "due balance" broadcasters resolutely refuse to broadcast such balanced debates. If they proved popular some extraterrestrial broadcaster might take them.

    Also a new party should keep in touch with its members with an, I suggest fortnightly, email to all members giving inside recent news. Any party that can do a quarterly magazine can easily do that.*

    All of these are directed at reestablishing mass membership parties. I regard the hollowing out of parties and their declining membership, over nearly the last 50 years, as a very serious threat to democracy.  I suggest there are 2 main reasons for this, reinforcing each other
- firstly that campaigns became ever more a matter of TV soundbites in which ordinary members served no useful purpose and even big donors a limited one as "contacts" in the TV industry became the route to power.

    Secondly that when nobody matters except at the very top and no ordinary member can expect to have any role in deciding what the party is supposed to stand for this week why would anybody want to be a member. I remember hearing somebody on the radio saying that anybody who chooses to be a member is "personally ambitious, mad or has a family history of membership" (I was the latter in the case of the LDs).  Supreme executive power should derive from a mandate from the people not some farcical TV "debate" ceremony.

    The net  give an option of rebuilding the sort of mass parties that used to exist. Fifty years abo the Unionist party had a membership well over 200,000. Now it is 8,500

  Obviously all this also applies to UKIP in either the UK as a whole or for the Scottish Parliament.

*I did suggest this to the LDs for Scotland shortly before they expelled me but I assume nothing came of it.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Recent Reading

  The people who did the alleged DNA testing of the Srebrenica bodies aren't going to let the defence experts check it, despite
Discrepancies have also been found between the ICMP’s findings and the original military records of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The ICMP claims to have found the mortal remains of at least 140 soldiers in Srebrenica-related mass graves whose original military records listed them as having been killed months, and in many cases years, before Srebrenica fell. The Bosnian government has resolved these discrepancies by disavowing the accuracy of their original military records and amending them to match the ICMP’s findings
  The alleged Srebrenica massacre in which the town was overrun and 7,000/8,000/11,000/15,000/insert desired number of the soldiers in the garrison is claimed to have been carried out by attacking forces that
." When Srebrenica fell, the UNMOsSrebrenica was "probably no less than 2,000 infantry."
 Or alternately it might be a fraud, maintained for nearly 20 years by governments who would thus be, by definition, wholly corrupt, racist, lying Nazi war criminals.
Obituary of a man whose invention changed the world we live in. Keith Tantlinger invented modern shipping containers. He and his boss ended up rich but not fantastically so though the value added to the world by making shipping a minor part of costs must run into trillions.. He also persuaded his boss to release the idea from coyright making it available to makind. Thus proving that patent laws do not guarantee inventors anything close to the value they add but also proving that many do not do it purely for the money.
The investment in global R & D is $1.2 trillion annually. 1.6% of world GNP. I have previously suggested X-Prize Foundations growing to offering 2% of national GNP, which would be expected to increase investment in winning projects alone to 6% of GNP..
Dan Hannan supports new Scottish libertarian party. So does Norman Tebbit. But Spiked doesn't seeing it as symbolic of the de-politicisation of parties - though it makes some valid points I disagree seeing it as the de-tribalisation of parties which may allow some real politics in.
Roger Helmer, leader of the Tory MEPs says there will be no growth with David Cameron's current addition to ecofascism and regulatory burdens.
7 Principles of sound public policy
"Arab spring" - "doesn’t mean that there aren’t people in the Arab world who want liberal democracy. It simply means that they are not powerful enough to topple regimes or maintain control of new regimes even if they did succeed. The Arab Spring is, above all, a primer on wishful thinking in the face of the real world."

Multiverse theory suggested by microwave background
The growth of free market traditional liberalism - "Compared with today's Republican presidential candidates, Barry Goldwater, the founder of the modern conservative movement – whose views were considered so extreme in 1964 that he was defeated in a landslide – would seem almost temperate. His blend of strict constitutionalism, muscular national security, and small-government economic policy – low taxation and light regulation – has become standard boilerplate on the stump today". - all the more impressive because the writer does not like the trend.
Time lapse film of Chinese building a block in 90 hours using prefabrication.  The building itself uses one sixth the materials of a comparable facility with 15 stories and 600 square meters per floor (~5500 square feet). Waste generated by construction was only 1% of the total weight, not including waste generated during prefabrication.

PS Figures slightly wrong re Srebrenica. While the Moslem Nazi government did initially suggest none of the soldiers escaped it is now known that 7,000 of them did, out of a garrison at the time reported as 7,500 but, if 15,000 were killed, as we are expected to believe, must have actually been 22,000.

So it was actually 2,000 Serb militia, overcoming a well entrenched defensive position held by 22,000 and capturing 15,000 of them. This is a military achievement with few peers in history - perhaps some of Caesar's battles against the Gauls or Clive's victories in India. However, seeing the reporting of it this claim unquestionably represents the very highest standard of honesty western journalists ever aspire and thus, unless they are, without serious exception, wholly corrupt lying Nazi filth without the tiniest trace of personal honesty or decency it must be what happened.

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