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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Catapult 4 - Ideas in Conversation

  Points that came up in conversation.

1 - I asked what government regulatory changes would encourage the growth of British space industry.

   The reply was firstly that David Willets the Science minister has, to his considerable credit, removed most of the liability and double licencing rules which prevented development under the previous lot. Beyond that, for the longer term, what all humanity needs is the establishment of legal rights of ownership in space.

   The normal interpretation of the Outer Space Treaty 1967 which says explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet, claiming that they are the Common heritage of mankind. is that individual companies, who must operate under the laws of one of these countries, cannot have secure control either.  However, the State that launches a space object specifically retains jurisdiction and control over that object, which means that any base put on an asteroid and that means that if, say, a mine were established on the Moon that area would be usable only by the state or company that built it. It also strikes me that if an asteroid were captured and launched into a different orbit (the ultimate example being sending a million ton metallic asteroid, worth 10s of billions at a minimum) into an Earth orbit, that establishes ownership.

     Property rights are obviously necessary for any economic trading system. The weakness of such rights in so many 3rd world countries is accepted as a significant part of the reason they remain poor. 
In a study published in the CatoJournal, American economics professors Steve H. Hanke and Stephen J.K. Walters conclude that increased economic freedoms—such as private property rights, low tariffs, no price controls, and few state-owned enterprises—result in greater prosperity, improved life expectancy, and more equitable distribution of income
   But the same applies, probably more strongly, in areas of high technology. If lawlessness and lack of property rights is why Zimbabwe has an income less than 1/200th of Singapore, though they were equal 50 years ago, that suggests that the lack of such rights is a very large part of the reason that the private sector has been unable to industrialise space.

   I do not disagree with the space treaty's prevention of states occupying whole planets. Indeed having elsewhere supported not just a land value tax but a right to compulsary purchase such land at the valuation, I see permanent ownership of blocks of land as at least as much of a roadblock to economic progress as a benefit. I would limit ownership in space to about 100km from the location of the base (which would mean exclusive control of most asteroids). I would also consider a lease of of a century, maintainable only with continuous exploitation or occupation (with remotely handled vehicles exploitation without human occupation is a distinct propability|). Hong Kong was largely held on such a 100 tear lease and that obviously did not hinder its development. Any accountant will confirm that what happens to a property in 100 years is of absolutely no investment significance since any profits made after that period, compounded backwards will be effectively zero.

    In any case a new Space Treaty or Memorandum of interpretation among most of the spacegoing countries would have a strongly positive effect on space industrialisation.

    If Britain were to be determinedly pushing for such a revision it would show that we were serious about this industry and act as a significant spur to international companies in space development choosing where to locate, to choose us.

2 - In conversation about Britain's £265 million contribution to ESA the person I was talking to pointed out that ESA is a bureaucratic hole whose achievements are vanishingly small. He pointed out that the French and German "space programmes" which are both relatively substantial, but run in tandem within ESA have never achieved anything that anybody can name.

       I repeated an argument I have previously made - that compared to SpaceX or even the Russian space effort, NASA must be at least 90% wasteful and that since ESA has a budget, including the extra French and German programmes, half the size of NASA without achieving 1/4 as much, or indeed even having any prospect of getting a man off the ground in an ESA ship, they must be wasting at least 95% of the money they get.

     His response was that they weren't that good and it was closer to 100%.

    The point being that there is clearly a consensus that the money going to ESA is wasted (assuming it is intended to achieve something rather than merely pleasing European bureaucrats & a few companies with political friends).

    I think this is an appropriate point to bring in my submission to the Space Centre, that if this £265 million was put into a Space X-Prize Fund that this would mean we would get a multiple of that money usefully used rather than a vanishingly small percentage and Britain would be doing considerably better in space than NASA is. I have yet to find anybody who actually disputes it would work, though politicians willing to say it should be done are almost equally rare.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Radovan Karadzic - Case Collapses - "Trial" Continues - Conviction Guaranted

   We were recently told that 1 of the 2 most serious charges against Radovan Karadzic has been dropped due to the lack of any evidence whatsoever. This was the charge of genocide early in the war. What is not disputable is that there was deliberate racial genocide at that stage - the fighting started when Moslem Nazi militia shot up a wedding party in Sarajevo purely for racial reasons. legally that is undeniably genocide and that is why the NATO controlled court demonstrated the very highest standard of honesty to which NATO politicians and lawyers ever aspire by ensuring that these Nazis guilty of genocide were brought to a real trial well rewarded with cushy jobs as apparatchiks in the Nazi regime NATO imposed on Bosnia.

    The other serious charge against Karadzic was for "genocide" at Srebrenica. In fact the only genocide at Srebrenica was the murder of 3,870 identified Serb civilians in surrounding villages - it was possible for Nasir Oric, the  Moslem Nazi commander in Srebrenica to commit these massacres and later show friendly journalists the films of him beheading women and children, only because NATO helped him.

     The facts of his massacre are undisputed, having been testified to by among others, the NATO commander in Bosnia at the time, during the Milosevic "trial". Being pivotal to ant reporting of that war they have been widely reported by every single broadcaster and newspaper in Britain and America not both wholly corrupt and controlled by genocide promoting Nazis. Unfortunately there are zero newspapers and broadcasters in Britain and America not wholly corrupt and controlled by Nazis.

  However proving himself innocent of this non-existent massacre at Srebrenica is likely to prove impossible since the NATO funded "court" have previously ruled that it did happen and they don't need no stinking evidence on the subject.

    The charges against him were

Count 1: Genocide. – Municipalities: Bratunac, Foča, Ključ, Kotor Varoš, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Vlasenica and Zvornik.
Count 2: Genocide. – Municipality: Srebrenica.
Count 3: Persecutions on Political, Racial and Religious Grounds, a Crime Against Humanity. – Municipalities: Banja Luka, Bijeljina, Bosanska Krupa, Bosanski Novi, Bratunac, Brčko, Foča, Hadžići, Ilidža, Kalinovik, Ključ, Kotor Varoš, Novi Grad, Novo Sarajevo, Pale, Prijedor, Rogatica, Sanski Most, Sokolac, Trnovo, Vlasenica, Vogošća, Zvornik and Srebrenica.
Count 4: Extermination, a Crime Against Humanity.
Count 5: Murder, a Crime Against Humanity.
Count 6: Murder, a Violation of the Laws or Customs of War.
Count 7: Deportation, a Crime Against Humanity.
Count 8: Inhumane Acts (forcible transfer), a Crime Against Humanity.
Count 9: Acts of Violence the Primary Purpose of which is to Spread Terror among the Civilian Population, a Violation of the Laws or Customs of War.
Count 10: Unlawful Attacks on Civilians, a Violation of the Laws or Customs of War.
Count 11: Taking of Hostages, a Violation of the Laws or Customs of War. The Yugoslav war crimes court,however, rejected on 27 June 2012 one of the two genocide charges against the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

  Count 1 having been dropped & 2 being clearly fraudulent we are left with killings, persecution and deportation.  With the deportations of immigrant workers which happened & are happening under the NATO sponsored regime in Libya there is absolutely nothing there that all the NATO leaders are not undeniably personally complicit in. Indeed there are many other crimes, such as torture and rape which NATO leaders are all complicit in in Libya ed which they also assisted in on the Moslem Nazi side inn Bosnia (Oric for example, though not "tried" for his genocide, was "tried" for torture, found guilty and immediately released).  This is why our judicial authorities, not being wholly corrupt racist Nazi whores have charged all none of our politicians involved with such crimes.

   This represents the highest standard of honesty to which any of our judges and lawyers ever aspire.

As an example of our lawyer's standard of honesty look at Vasislav Seselj, who, 2 weeks before he was clearly about the win the Serbian election was "indicted" on absolutely no evidence. He surrendered voluntarily to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on 24 February 2003 and has been imprisoned ever since.
He turned himself in in February 2003 after the ICTY indicted him on eight counts of crimes against humanity yet none of these charges has been proven in court. Seselj had spent more than four years in detention before a trial against him even began and, three months later, just seven hours before the prosecution’s time ran out, the Seselj case was suspended for another 11 months.
   His first "trial" was then stopped shortly before it was about to conclude with the prosecution having been unable to produce evidence against him and if it were a court of law, a not guilty verdict being inevitable. The prosecution were authorised to start again. The second "trial" is in a permanent of nothing happening.

    From time to time the British and American media run a news story about somebody imprisoned without due process in which they parade their allegedly "liberal" sympathies - whether it be Abu Qatada or An San Suu Kyi. If any of those news selections were honestly based on the facts the imprisonment, without real trial, by the American, British and other governments, for nearly 10 years do far, of somebody who would otherwise have been a head of state would have received far more coverage than either of those 2.

  The Burmese leader's equally wrongful imprisonment, but not by us, would have had maybe a 1/10th as much coverage (102,000 items on Google)  compared to Seselj's (6,200 items but overwhelmingly not from Anglo/American media). Proof positive that our media is as corrupt and Nazi as our obscene, racist, genocidal, child raping, organlegging Nazi party leaders and judges.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Catapult 3 - On Prizes

Catapult have £10 million from the government (they are hoping for money from non-governmental sources, such as the TSB who sponsored the meeting. A theoretical possibility of £30 million, but don't hold your breath. This means they are not going to be sponsoring big or cutting edge projects. Indeed they were candid that they were aiming to encourage the "downstream" part of space development, i.e. secondary applications on Earth rather than anything involving going there. They were less candid that that intrinsically accepts that such minuscule government support will not encourage the industry to grow faster here than across the world and that to reach the £40 billion industry size in Britain it will be because the industry worldwide is growing at least the same rate & we are dragged along.
I previously suggested that the money we give to ESA, nominally a space budget but, since ESA achieves almost nothing, actually a budget to placate European bureaucrats should instead be used to fund X-Prizes. Even the government never suggested that there was any reason at all why this would not work, or obviously cost any extra money, all they vouchsafed was that when I detailed this in the submission that they had asked for - they hadn't looked at it.
There is no doubt, as the submission details, that prizes are a more effective way, probably at least 33 times more effective way, of achieving results than conventional grant giving. The 33 times figure is supported here but Freeman Dyson goes further and suggests 100 fold.
So is there a niche for prizes on the sort of budget we have?
There is and the historic prototype exists and has been examined in some detail by Liam Brunt, Josh Lerner and Tom Nicholas of Harvard on the use of prizes from 1839 to 1939 by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) to promote innovation.
We find large effects of the prizes on contest entries, especially for the Society’s gold medal. Matching award and patent data, we also detect large effects of the prizes on the quality of contemporaneous inventions. p3
It awarded both substantial monetary prizes (in excess of £1 million in current prices) and its own highly prestigious medals for innovative implements and machinery. Between 1839 and 1939, 15,032 entrant inventions competed for the prizes and a total of 1,986 awards were made. p6 ...
In 1878 it was estimated that the trials cost £2,000 per annum (Jenkins, 1878, p. 871-872), while in 1920 the tractor trials alone cost the Society almost £5,000 (Scott Watson, 1939, p. 102). In fact, the cost of the trials was a very considerable burden on the finances of the RASE, whose only sources of income were the annual subscriptions paid by its members and the gate money arising from the annual show. p14
In 1855 dissenting manufacturers authored a report stating: “We object to this system [of prizes] on the ground that it operates as an undue stimulus to competition.” In 1856 one manufacturer commented on the apparent “destructive” side of the prize competitions: “It is unfair because there will always be sure to be somebody trying to find out some improvement or other and there is no knowing where will be the end to it.” p16

Report pdf in full

£1 million over 100 years is £10,000 a year. Comparing the economy of the mean year 1889 £10,000 then equates to £10,400,000 as a proportion of GNP (though it would be £862,000 RPI terms which shows how much better off we are plus population rise. The RASE prizes were available to companies across the world, which makes sense as they were funded from exhibition attendees but does not if mainly government funded.
The very largest and most effective of the sort of prizes I can envisage with Catapult's £10 million a year would be something like the DARPA Road Challenge where $3m (£2m) was awarded for a self driving car system over a 240 km journey. The direct result of this is that automated driving systems are currently in civilian use and 1 state has legalised them on commercial roads.
In Victorian times the state was under 10% of the economy and left much such public investment up to private organisations as the RASE. Nowadays the state spends 50% of all our money and in every other field has taken over such subjects.
Using the Catapult funding for prizes in iterative increases in productivity rather than for breakthroughs like an orbital shuttle ($500/£320 million prize) would have a significant effect. Just as more effective seed drills were produced by the RASE a 10% finer resolution by a cubesat camera (cubesats are mini-satellites 8 inches on a side and can now resolve down to a meter from orbit) would be encouraged by such prizes. More like this £400,000 Singapore government prize.
Indeed taking the example of the RASE and the Royal Agricultural Exhibition it organised further I strongly suspect that a similar space exhibition, with sponsorship by companies like the TSB, with the prizes publicly awarded and perhaps broadcast worldwide in a manner impossible in 1889. This would bring in funds an order of magnitude greater than the modern equivalent of what was raised then. Certainly the Catapult's target of raising an extra £20 million from non-governmental sources, which even they regarded as ambitious, looks fairly modest compared to what an exhibition with such prizes, properly handled, could attract.
Such an annual exhibition with the awards being presented would be a strong inducement to the establishment of a hub for the space industry within easy driving distance of its location. The economic plus added to any economy by the early establishment of such hubs is difficult to overestimate - Silicon valley being the most obvious.
That would indeed be the "undue stimulus to competition" the government itself have been so reluctant to contribute too.
If the UK government were decline to support such an idea the Scottish (or Welsh) governments could do so on smaller scales. Assuming that only 15% of the space engineering done in the UK is done in Scotland the amount awarded in prizes for first achievements would only cost about £1.6 million for exactly the same range of prizes.
The Scottish government has previously demonstrated that it understands to principle of such prizes announcing the £20 million Saltire commercial sea turbine award as being such a prize.
An exhibition in Scotland would be a smaller affair than for the UK but might well attract proportionately more interest from visitors and sponsors. After all it would be unique in the world. I would suggest the Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow, where the World Science fiction convention was held a few years ago, would be a suitable venue.
Since the Scottish government intend to spend £6 million over the next few years training van drivers to drive more fuel efficiently putting (p12 #46) £1.5 million into an "undue stimulus" into an industry estimated even by an "at the speed of the slowest" conglomeration of civil service departments, soon be worth £40 billion to Britain does not seem profligate.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Catapult 2

  The briefing for the Catapult meeting included this
...the government's recognition of the economic growth potential of the space sector. The 2010 Space Innovation and Growth Strategy set the objective of growing the UK space industry from 6% to 10% of global market share, realising a £40 bn market for the UK by 2030.
    In the Q&A session at the end I asked, though I have changed some of the figures I gave then after using my calculator and records. 
May I suggest that the growth prediction in your introductory sheet are overly modest. £40 billion as 10% of the total implies a world space industry of £400 bn. It is currently about £200 billion. This implies a growth rate of 4% over the next 18 years. The conventional world economy is growing at 5%. If we were to take 10% current overall growth rate of space industry that would be would be over £1 trillion by 2030. If the 17.6% growth rate of the American commercial space industry it would be £3.7 trillion.
This is an important difference since if you want the politicians to take this opportunity seriously you have to tell themm what the potential is.
  The answer was that
I completely share your ambitions. That growth rate is low but it is what all parties could agree to
   Which means it is what all the various government departments and quangos would agree to. Since most of them represent other industries it is unsurprising they would want to downplay the opportunities and that they get a veto because there is no political push for a more accurate figure.

   Compare and contrast with the way the wind industry works - the Scottish Renewables government quango repeatedly claims that "over a third" of  our electricity is already produced by windmills. Since the true figure is 12-15% it is clear that not only do they not give anybody else a veto they aren't influenced by what everybody knows. I am not suggesting that the space community ever lie as the renewablists do - I would much prefer that it remain impossible for any uncorruot politician to claim tom believe the windmillery case more than the space one.

   Some of the figures here are variable - I suspect because it depends on what you count as space industry and that we are seeing a relatively narrow interpretation excluding much of satellite communications.

   The US 17.6% commercial space growth figure came from here, as does a  British government estimate of the industry being £6.5 billion 3 years ago and growing at 5%.which makes it £7.5bn now. To get from there to £40 bn in 18 years would mean 10% annual growth which is what the BBC says we are already doing. Not so ambitious then.

   If the government say Britain is already 6% of the international market that would imply that the world market is about £125 million but this shows that it was £160 bn back in 2009 which at 10% growth would be at least £200 bn today.

   I would not by any means think that the 17%growth rate is likely to be the minimum. The game changer is that SpaceX is now lauunching and says it can do it for $54 million compared to $1,300 million for the shuttle. Moreover that "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."
   Any industry that sees it costs reduced to 1/20th with lower to come is going to improve its rate of growth - spectacularly.

   If we posit a growth rate of 25%m 8% more than the current US rate. We would have a worldwide (humanitywide?) space industry worth £11 trillion by 2030. I don't quite expect that, though there is nothing technically impossible in it. I would, however, say that that growth rate is much more probably than that it grow 1% below the average of all industries which the UK government expects.

   Of course for us to have 10% of an £11 trillion, or even a .£3.7 trillion or indeed even of £1 trillion would seriously enhance our economy.
  In 2 ways it doesn't matter

- firstly government "support" for the fastest growing industrial sector in the country amounts to £10 million (or even say about £40 million if you include our "space agency" and other bodies), for an industry we expect to be worth £40 billion is barely enough to be called a token. This anti-progress attitude has to change if we are ever to get out of recession.

- secondly it doesn't matter whether a 17.6% or even 25% growth rate is achieved across the world so long as it is technically possible. In the same way that the first person to make a gold strike doesn't lose out because he is ahead of the competition if Britain decided to make the effort to achieve 10% of possible world space industry (or Scotland 1.5%) we would not lose anything if most of the competition didn't make the effort.

   All that matters is that it is possible and when something has been done, such as the US 17.6% growth rate, then by definition it is possibble to do it.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Catapult 1

  I spent this morning at a  meeting at Strathclyde University by a government quango called Catapult Satellite Applications. It is one of a group of catapults whose job is to encourage innovation ion  particular industries. Satellite applications are being given £10 million which makes them a large part of government support for the space industry % quite possibly the most useful part.

   I picked up a lot of useful stuff which I will be discussing here over the next few days after ruminating on them.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Sky City One arcology - Scotsman Letter

  This letter in the Scotsman today.
Hunan province in China is following in the footsteps of the Scottish Parliamentarians in spending £400 million on a prestige building.
While our building was the Parliament at the end of the Royal Mile, theirs will be the tallest building in the world. Called Sky City One it will house 174,000 people, plus schools, offices, shops & hotels which makes it around £6,000 for a family home.
It will be built by modular mass production methods, which have been available for decades but tend to run foul of planning permission rules here.
Construction is due to start in November 2012 and be completed in January 2013. Presumably it will not be the last self contained city built.
Scotland's politicians have given us the world's most expensive tram line (twice the cost of Sky City) and the world's second most expensive bridge (6 times Sky City and 8 times the inflation adjusted cost of the previous bridge). They all boast of their commitment to "affordable housing" & now that Glasgow's Red road flats are being demolished it will be interesting to see if they continue to produce the world's most expensive version of that too.
see also  and

  This went out to the Scottish press and has, so far, appeared in the Scotsman alone. However it was unedited except for making the 3rd and 4th paragraphs one. This is almost the only newspaper mention of the fact that the previous Forth Bridge cost £320 million, in inflation adjusted money. The politician's decline to discuss where the extra £2 billion is going. By comparison China is often described in the British press as having a lot of government bureaucracy corruption but clearly, if this were so, they couldn't be building affordable housing that is so affordable - at least not remotely as much as the corruption obvious in the fact that our construction costs average 8 times what they are in the rest of the world.
  The comparison between the 2 omits the fact that the Chinese building is a free market one so that the taxpayers does not actually fund it. The provincial government contribution is simply not to prevent the free market building it. Would that we had as free and entrepreneurial a government as the |Chinese communists.
  There is an online comment, presumably from a nationalist, that I have delineated the failures of Scottish labour. Since the parties were united, under SNP leadership, in deciding to pay so far over the odds on an unnecessary bridge; and the SNP did not seriously question either the Parliament building or tram frauds I do not see how accusations of incompetence and/or theft can be limited to any one party in Holyrood.
   It would be nice to think that either no Scottish politician will ever again say they want to build "affordable housing" or alternately that they will actually mean to do it in a manner which is demonstrably possible. It would be nice, but it would require some faith in their integrity.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

EU should "do its best to undermine" the "homogeneity" of its member states

   I picked this up from the American blogger Steve Sailer who is very good at looking at stories, particularly on PC racial matters which show up the hidden assumptions of what may and may not be said:

The EU should "do its best to undermine" the "homogeneity" of its member states, the UN's special representative for migration has said.
Peter Sutherland told peers the future prosperity of many EU states depended on them becoming multicultural.
He also suggested the UK government's immigration policy had no basis in international law.
He was being quizzed by the Lords EU home affairs sub-committee which is investigating global migration.

Mr Sutherland, who is non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs International and a former chairman of oil giant BP, heads the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which brings together representatives of 160 nations to share policy ideas.
He told the House of Lords committee migration was a "crucial dynamic for economic growth" in some EU nations "however difficult it may be to explain this to the citizens of those states".

     The report originates at the BBC 3 days ago, but it is only the online part of the BBC where they put stories they want to have a record of having reported but not to be seen by many people.
      We live in an era when public opinion about the EU is overwhelmingly sceptical, fanned we are regularly told by the popular press, and when Cameron and Miliband are vying with each other to say that it is "permissable" to discuss immigration. Cameron has even promised to cut it to "the order of tens of thousands each year" by about now though it is actually unchanged at around 250,000.

     This nonsense by Mr Sutherland - it is specifically untrue that immigrants increase the economy proportionately to the rise in population, or even match it - should be grist to the mill of any journalist genuinely reflecting public feeling on the matter.

     So what is the coverage - well there is the BBC's hidden online mention and ..... nothing more. according to Google news.

     What does it say about our MSM that one has to run across stuff from American bloggers to find out what the nomenklatura in Britain are saying?

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