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Saturday, July 14, 2012

ThinkScotland Revamp -

  Brian Monteith, who used to be the Scottish Conservatives source of ideas until they decided they could do without such inconveniences, has done a revamp of his ThinkScotland online magazine.

New Articles coming up 
David Torrance on the SNP being victims of their own success

Hugh Andrew on the spectre of nationalist dirgism

O'Rourke on the need to elevate John Buchan

Alex Massie says history suggests Alex Salmond might emulate Napoleon

Liz Smith on how to revive school sports

Bill Jamieson questions who can deliver economic self-confidence

Mike Nevin on establishing a new international gold standard

Brian Monteith on the need for more banking competition

Neil Craig on why exploring space needs prizes

Tom Miers suggests ways Unionists can wrong-foot the separatists

Struan Stevenson on learning from how the US saved its fishing fleet

Prof David Purdie introduces his Dean's Diaries from St Andrew's College

ThinkCalm introduces our weekly Keep Calm poster from Keep-Calm-o-matic

Jackie Anderson on the joys of living in sunny France (remember the sun?),

Any Hume explains why he is reprising his Mr Eugenics column.

  My article is the same one I did a few days ago on UKIP's policy of turning our European Space Agency money into a British X-Prize fund, which, despite it being already published here, & despite it not being a specifically Scottish programme, he thought should be highlighted.
Also a number of other Space links:

Reform of the Outer Space Act 1986: Consultation, The UK Space Agency has issued a consultation seeking views of stakeholders on proposed changes to the Outer Space Act 1986.
"Space is one of the UK's key high-tech growth industries," Dacid Willetts, Science minister said. "I fully expect this growth trajectory to continue"
  An interesting admission. The government acknowledges that, even their present policy of putting no more than £10 million into an industry they nonetheless expect to be worth £40,000 million a year will get there. I don't think they can now deny (& none of them have denied) that UKIP's policy of putting in £275 million in X-Prizes, would significantly, probably massively, improve that growth.
Under new Revenue and Customs rules ushered in as part of Team GB’s winning bid, “corporate partners” like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa have a temporary exemption from corporation tax as “non-resident” companies.

Although the multinationals have offices in the UK, their separate Olympic operations avoid paying tax from March 30 to November 8.

The new rules also mean foreign employees working for the firms do not have to pay income tax in the UK.

Campaigning group Ethical Consumer, which carried out the report, estimates the Government will lose out on £600million.

   I have previously written on how the Scotland Act gives us the power to  introduce tax exemptions like this. If London is using this power to encourage investors in the Olympics there can now be no argument from them if we did something similar. The Scottish space industry cannot be over £1 bn a year. The section of it which is actually at the sharp end of technological development not more than £200 bn. Even cutting CT and income tax would not remove more than about half the tax take. Thus, with tax accounting for about 40% of GDP it would not cost the Exchequer more than about £40 million.

Or £400 million across the UK.

But the long term advantages would be enormously greater. Indeed even on the national prestige issue, which is the main reason for hosting the Olympics, being a leader in space development is orders of magnitude more prestigious. Yet this tax money is only a tiny proportion of the Olympics cost (indeed I suspect it is not even included in the "official" costing).
New Scientist on how Virgin is linking up with Planetary Resources, who are intending to mine asteroids. An interesting thing about this is how confident the PR guy is with how there is more than one serious supplier in this business. A general rule is that when you think something can be done one way you may run into serious roadblocks but when it can be done several ways it has got beyond the level of being experimental and approaching commonplace.

 "A "nine - days' wonder" is taken as a matter of course on the tenth day" Heinlein.

How long before Ed Milipede is saying he always believed in space industry?

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Friday, July 13, 2012

A Tunnel on Shetland - Not If The Council Can Get Away With Spending 10 Times As Much

    This may explain something about how tunnels in road tunnels in Scotland don't get built. This is a map of the Shetlands. The 2 main islands, Whalsay and Yell are about 2 km apart. Shetland is closer to Norway than Edinburgh and some locals, knowing about the Norwegian tunnelling experience suggested their council should try it.
Shetland Ferries Map
In 2002 a tunnel was proposed for the crossing between the Island of Yell and the Shetland mainland. Norwegian tunnel experts were consulted and a tunnel was designed for a price of £22 million, after some discussion within the Shetland Islands Council this price was pushed up to £35 million, the Yellsound tunnel option was turned down and instead the S.I.C. decided to build new ferries and terminals for a price of 23 to 25 million pounds. The official running costs of these ferries during the past 8 years have been in excess of £4 million per annum and with the increase in fuel prices may now be nearer £5 million per annum.

   It appears the increase in the tunnel cost from £22 to £35 million is nothing to do with the cost of constructing it and entirely the cost of the Shetland Island Council watching (overseeing) it being done. Since that amounts to only 60% of the cost of actually building it I suppose SIC can be congratulated for being less parasitic than, for example, TIE the overseer of the Edinburgh trams whose interference destroyed the project.

  Nonetheless it is quite clear that they managed to articifiailly increase the cost of the tunnel, which is inherently lower than that of replacing the traditional ferry and then, only by ignoring the fact that a ferry costs quite a bit of money to run, were able to claim it was the cheaper option.
   After all the ferry operators have been making money there for generations and know who to lobby.

   However to make the ferry costs low enough to ignore we had to have the traditional government tactic of pretending the costs were going to be low when "deciding" and then being astonished when they rise afterwards.
1.3.1. Ferry Service Costs
Between 2001/02 and 2004/05, the net costs of providing the ferry services rose from
£6.9m to £12.2m, an increase of 77% over 3 years. Over this period the principal cost
increases were as follows:
Wages and salaries grew by 33% to £ 6.687m,
Direct finance costs (SIC finance code 3***) grew by 71% to £1.846m.
Operating leases on new ships (SIC code 1209) increased from zero in
2001/02 to £ 1.50m in 2004/05

    None of these costs are in line with inflation  In fact they are all things for which the future costs ought to have been known in advance and it is very difficult to believe they were not.
   Since then the Council have determined that their single ferry is, after all that, not enough and want to start a new round. According to the Shetland Times
A tunnel to Whalsay would be too expensive for the council and the idea should be abandoned in favour of building a new ferry terminal at North Voe, upgrading the Laxo and Vidlin terminals and buying a new, larger ferry to share the route with the Linga, according to SIC officials.
In two reports laid before councillors, head of finance Graham Johnston and head of transport Michael Craigie reveal that the basic capital cost of a fixed link would be between £76 million and £83 million, £23-28 million more than for the ferry service.
The figures are based on a range of £10,000-£11,000 per metre and include connecting roadworks but not capital refurbishment costs over the 120-year lifespan of a tunnel
   Of course, yet again, they have made no mention of the ongoing cost of a ferry. I put up this comment which has not been disputed.
The £10/11,000 per metre is at least twice what the average tunnel cost in Norway has been. These fit fairly well with the £35 million quoted. Interestingly the costs here seem to be a council estimate rather than a firm quote from the proposed Norwegian builders.

Why would that be? One option is that they have such a firm quote and have decided not to make it public. The other is that they decided not to ask, relying instead on council estimates. If there is a 3rd option I would like to see it.

I also note that on the ledger against a tunnel is “but not capital refurbishment costs over the 120-year lifespan of a tunnel ” but the same objection to running costs is not used with a ferry. Any ferry’s cost is obviously mainly running costs or are we expected to believe that the ferry will be running, cost \& refurbishment free, in 120 years.
Clearly the council had its mind made up long before it asked the tunnellers for a quote, or more likely didn’t & just invented the figure. The fact is that a tunnel would initially cost little or nothing more than a ferry, would have marginal running costs and would allow far more traffic to move, far faster & more conveniently.
These tunnels have changed life across Norway and the Faroes. My guess is that the councillors have been sat on by Holyrood. Holyrood decreed that they needed a new Forth bridge because a 3km tunnel under the Forth would cost £6,500 million and they don’t want to be made to look like liars.

   Of course there is obviously no comparison between the amount of transport a tunnel can carry compared to a ferry, or even 2 ferries. Nor the convenience of the tunnel. Adding the new ferry cost to the previously incurred ones it looks certain that the whole farrago will cost well over £200 million (assuming no cost overruns and that the ferries will, from now on have zero operating costs ;-).

   By comparison the original tunnel offer was £22 million - 1/10th as much. I suspect asking for a formal quote now would come up with something similar again - inflation has raised prices but as the technology progresses tunnelling costs fall. I even suspect this is why a formal quote has not been asked for.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fighting To Get Space Industry - But Not Here Even Though Space Industry Will Be 11% Of Total UK Growth

Did Texas Gov. Rick Perry snatch a growing company from its home in Kern County?Or does California make it easy for companies to say adios?

A commercial aerospace firm based in eastern Kern County announced Monday that it is expanding its operations to Texas, a move characterizied by some observers as an avoidable economic loss to Kern County and the state as a whole.

XCOR Aerospace, a manufacturer of reusable rocket engines and the developer of the Lynx, a suborbital space plane designed to carry two persons or scientific experiments to the edge of space, announced the move Monday at a press conference in Midland, Texas, the site of its new research and development center.
The center will be created over the next 18 months in an existing hangar on the flightline at Midland International Airport. The company, which expects to grow from about 30 employees to more than 100 over the next five years, has centered its operations at Mojave Air and Space Port for more than a decade.
Despite the move, some operations will remain in Mojave, including commercial launches of the Lynx once flight testing is completed, said XCOR Chief Executive Jeff Greason, who was in Texas for the announcement.

"I personally will be one of those moving to Midland," Greason said. "I take no pleasure in leaving Mojave. I love Mojave. But I had to do what's best for the company."

Indeed, Greason has described the growing space port in eastern Kern as "the Silicon Valley of the private space industry" and the premier location for civilian flight research and testing in the United States.
But California's less favorable tax and regulatory environment -- and its inability to pass timely liability protection for companies planning to invest in commercial space tourism -- made it easier to make the move, he said.

"We did look at three or four other sites," he said. "Each had different strengths. But the folks in Midland were very persuasive."...

"This is a great day for Midland and a huge step forward for the State of Texas," Perry said. "Visionary companies like XCOR continue to choose Texas because they know that innovation is fueled by freedom."...
"The decision to establish XCOR's research and development center headquarters in Midland came after intense competition from other locations," she said. "Once the technical and operational needs of XCOR were met, the final factors influencing the decision to locate R&D to Midland included the friendly business climate, a predictable regulatory environment, and the state of Texas tort reform initiatives."

The organization estimated XCOR will generate $12 million in new payroll and capital investment over the next five years, with an estimated average annual salary of more than $60,000.

In order to accommodate XCOR's flight test needs, Midland must apply to the Federal Aviation Administration for a commercial space launch site designation. Once the application is granted, Midland will have "space port" status, similar to Mojave's.

Stu Witt, CEO and general manager of Mojave Air and Space Port, said the loss of XCOR to Texas shouldn't have happened.

"You can have the tax or you can have the business, but you can't have both," Witt said.
While XCOR is still relatively small, the company has done more rocket engine tests than any private company in the world, Witt said. With the end of NASA's space shuttle program and the coming commercialization of space flight, XCOR is poised for growth.

Over the past few years, Witt and Greason have travelled to the state capital to push for the passage of liability reform, a law that would set limits on civil damages should a space tourist be killed or injured in a mishap. But they've had no luck. In the meantime, Texas has passed tort reforms....

Witt said he's lost two other companies, both aviation-based, to out-of-state interests in the past two years. One went to Arizona, the other to Texas.....

Earlier this year, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, the House majority whip, was able to insert a provision in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that extended a moratorium on federal regulations in the commercial spaceflight industry to October 2015....

Meanwhile, California Assembly Bill 2243, which would give commercial space flights qualified immunity from liability for injuries caused by the inherent risks associated with space flight, has passed through the Assembly and is headed to the state Senate for consideration. This was further than it has proceeded before and Greason and Witt had said they saw it as an encouraging sign.

    The British government recently changed the law on liability to make us more space industry friendly.

    Once a Hub has been established for a new industry the economic advantages of setting up there are very large. Just ask anybody in Silicon Valley. Companies are within hailing distance of anybody they want to hire, offices of most they want to sell to and most subcontracting needs. Once a hub has been established you are sitting pretty and the time to establish it is when the industry is both small and growing. The Isle of Man has already done this for the space industry but its potential is probably limited by its size and not having a road tunnel to the mainland..

   Small countries do have an advantage in establishing commercial space facilities because they can concentrate on setting a tax and regulatory regime that is attractive. Also a space enterprise takes up relatively little ground space (sorry) while being potentially infinitely large up there. Singapore & Dubai have recognised this and are building spaceports.

   Scotland, which has much of its own regulatory powers, an outstanding engineering history and a better per capita scientific base than any other country in the world with the possible exception of Switzerland which is a chemicals hub, is certainly fitted to become such a hub.

  If our political classes were to play the go getting role of Texas rather than the "piss off wealth creators" role of California.

   And now is the time to do it.
  But I have been told that the reason Virgin are not particularly enthusiastic about a Scottish Spaecport is that there is nobody among our Holyrood politicians who has shown them any sign of interest or willingness to help them through the bureaucracy.

  Space, at £9.1 billion is just over 0.5% of the UK economy, though that would also be 5% of Scotland's.
  I suspect Cameron would be pretty happy if our economy grows 0.5% this year - £8 bn
 But the UK space industry, growing at 10% should be up £0.91 bn.

  Or to put it another way, even if there is no acceleration due to SpaceX reducing launch costs 20 fold, we should expect Space Industry alone will produce 11% of the growth in the UK economy this year.

   If we managed the 35% I showed possible yesterday that would be 40% (though that growth rate presupposed that we actually tried to grow the whole economy and it acted as a base, as well as) by making somewhat more effort, via an X-Prize fund with rather more than the £10 million our government is putting into promoting the industry.

  OK there is £275 million being put into ESA by us but that money is nominally for exploration, rather than industrialisation & in fact is for promoting European bureaucracy and politics..Nobody in government (or political parties other than UKIP) even pretends that prizes wouldn't be a far more effective way of spending that money if innovation was the intent, or even pretends they are interested in doing so.

UPDATE The IMF have said they expect 0.2% growth this year. That is just over $3bn. Thus space industry makes up 30% rather than 11% of all UK growth.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Space is the Big Story At Farnborough Airshow

  C4 last night had an item about Britain's space industry hung round the Farnborough air show. With typical insight C4 assured us that "there was not a hint of austerity" in the business but, in the next breath "budgets have never been tighter"!

   Still generally not as Luddite as most reporting. David Willets, the science minister said that our space industry is growing "as fast as China" (ie 10% over the long term) and, which, I didn't know, that 10% of our high technology exports to China are from the space industry, which certainly suggests their government is serious even if ours isn't.

   Also this
Branson took the stage at the Farnborough Airshow on Wednesday to unveil LauncherOne, a companion satellite-launching business to Virgin Galactic's passenger suborbital spaceflight service.
Like SpaceShipTwo, LauncherOne will be flown into the air beneath a carrier jet and released. Once separated, the vehicle's rocket engine will fire to carry it into space....
LauncherOne, which is designed for cargo only, will be able to put satellites weighing up to 500 pounds into orbit for less than $10 million....
LauncherOne, a two-stage liquid-fueled rocket being developed by The Spaceship Company (TSC) of Mojave, Calif., is expected to debut in 2016. TSC is a partnership of Virgin Galactic and Mojave, Calif.-based Scaled Composites, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman.
   Which looks rather more expensive than SpaceX but its a big and obviously fast growing market.

  Willets again, via the huffpo
UK 'Could Build Spaceport'

Any spaceport - purely theoretical at this stage - would involve working with Europe and the European Space Agency, Willetts suggested...
"We'll be exploring the type of certification needed for space crafts and identifying the essential characteristics of an operational spaceport.
At a gathering of space officials and businesses at the Farnborough International Airshow, Willetts said space was a "rare bright light" for the economy
Willetts said the space industry
•Was worth £9.1bn in 2010/11

•Had grown by £1.6bn since 2009

•Grew 7.5% between 2010 and 2011

•Supported 29,000 skilled jobs....

Presenting the 'Civil Space Strategy' for the next four years, Willetts said the government would continue to support the space sector
The government will continue to invest in space, he said, and confirmed £10m had been by the Technology Strategy Board for space, although that had been announced previously
He said: "The bigger picture, of course, is making sure that space continues to be a key enabler of economic growth – and that’s the central goal of the revised Civil space strategy that I am publishing."

"The document, covering the next four years, focuses on creating new opportunities for industry, bolstering the role of space in the UK’s infrastructure and furthering the National Space Technology Programme."
Willetts also said the Satellite Applications Catapult, one of seven new technology and innovation centres, will be based at Harwell Oxford.
  I am told that all a space port really needs is a long runway, clear airspace. a refuelling lorry and possibly a tracking radar. I suspect Branson's customers would also want something more comfortable than a nissen hut and quick access to Skibo, Gleneagles or some similarly plush residence. In any case the clear airspace bit almost mandates it be somewhere in Scotland.

    Doubtless the government would also spend a fair bit painting signs, doing feasibility studies and congratulating them selves for doing so but that isn't necessary.

    The use of the words "will continue to invest in space", when their record is so abysmal and the minimal £10 million amount does not inspire confidence. They clearly know this is indeed one of our few growing industries and will be willing to take credit if anything happens but that is not quite the same as encouragement.

   On the other hand the admission of its importance does leave them open to pressure that they really ought to do something serious.

  How fast could space industry grow?

  Well China's overall economy is indeed growing at 10% and we could certainly do the same. There are provinces doing 16%.

  The US commercial space industry has been growing at 17.6% with the benefit of a very limited private investment in space prizes- roughly 15% better than the economy as a whole.

  That was before SpaceX cut the cost of launches 20 fold & more in future. I think we could add another 5% each minimum for the SpaceX breakthrough and if a major investment was made in X-Prizes as proposed by UKIP.

  That gives us 15% +5% + 5% plus the base level growth for the entire economy of between 0% (UK, 10% (China), or 16% (best provinces of China). Lets take it as 35% a year.

  At that rate in 18 years Britain's space economy would be worth £2019 billion, about 20% above the entire British economy now. Assuming base economic growth across the economy of 0% we get £505 billion, still about 30% of our now and future terrestrial economy. Assume a base of 16% and we get £4,415 billion.All of these are theoretical but the theory is good.

  If our political classes were to take the opportunity. Nothing too excessive. Not one penny not already being put into the ESA bureaucracy. Not 1% of what is "invested" in "renewables" which can never do anything but cost us more.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

£3504 - the Cost To Us Of Anti-Nuclear EcoFascism

The average household's annual energy bill of £1,252 now accounts for 11pc of a couple's basic state pension of £11,175 a year, the study by price comparison website found.
The cost of energy is now the top household worry for Britons (90pc), ahead of the rising cost of food (77pc) and mortgage payments (42pc).
Almost a third of consumers (32pc) say that household energy is unaffordable in the UK, the poll found.
While the average UK household income has increased by 20pc from £32,812 in 2004 to £39,468 today, the average energy bill has risen by 140pc, according to uSwitch figures.
From the Telegraph

Note also that

1- Electricity bills could be reduced by 93% (ie £84) very likely more if we had as much nuclear power as there is a market for and a level regulatory regime. Christopher Booker has also said the the cost could be halved if we had shale gas but he is clearly being very conservative in that estimate & I suspect that shale gas will end under the cost of what nuclear is now (30% of the average or £376), though still higher than what it could be.

2 - Only 1/3rd of electricity is used at home. But wherever it is used the cost is not borne by the capitalism fairy but eventually comes through, through increased prices of everything else, to us. Thus the total cost to us of anti-nuclear Luiddism is not £1252 - £84 = £1168 but 3 times that at £3504.

    As an example of how the anti-nuclear Luddites control; our media lets compare coverage.

    The Chernobyl disaster cannot be honestly said to have killed more than around 50 people. There have certainly been incredible claims that, under the linear no threshold theory anything up to a million would, real soon now, start dying, but this has not happened. Moreover even the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, in a legally mandated freedom of information request, have publicly acknowledged that they know of no actual scientific evidence whatsoever for this "theory" - it is simply political.

  If these predicted deaths had happened they would have been statistically obvious, thus Chernobyl itself is strong proof the theory is false.

    Recently Russia had a 3.4 times worse disaster - the Krymsk flood that killed 171.

  Shortly before Chernobyl there was the horrific Ufa Train Disaster and gas explosion in the USSR that killed 575 - 11 times as many as Chernobyl.

While 21,000 died in the Japanese earthquake and tsunami 0.00 died in the Fukushima nuclear "disaster". I have previously pointed out that the real disaster gets far less media coverage than the false one.

   With the BBC's charter duty of "due balance" they are certainly legally required to report in a manner balanced to what really happened. With £389 mentions, currently, they must, if uncorrupt, have made 1,323 mentions of Krymsk (ignoring the fact that the latter is current news). Being wholly (well 99.5%) corrupt they manage 7. Ufa, even being as outdated a news story as Chernobyl should have 4,300 mentions. On this case the BBC manage to prove themselves a perfect 100% corrupt ecofascist propagandists having censored any mention of that event whatsoever.
    I will be putting some of this as a letter across the media. We will see if questioniong of fairly obvious and indisputable media censorship is, even with editing, publishable.

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Monday, July 09, 2012

Lords Reform - Constitutional Amendments 16

  Some time ago I had a letter published on Lords reform and said I would get round to suggesting the ideal. John Redwood has asked toe same question so, belatedly, here is my view.

   It is generally accepted that a bicameral legislature provides a separation of powers of government and thus makes unitary dictatorship more difficult. For this reason the vast majority of countries now and at least since the Middle Ages in Europe, have been bicameral.

   The British House of Lords is what remains of Britain's bicameral legislature but in practice, it has little real power and no democratic legitimacy and thus serves more to create the illusion of such separation than the actuality. This is fairly satisfactory to those in the Commons who have all the power which is why, after more than a century of almost everybody agreeing that reform is needed we haven't had it. Indeed the MPs are almost unanimous in fearing that a democratic Lords would be a rival for the Commons.

   What should the purpose of a 2nd chamber. It should be an impediment to useless regulation. It should also assist in making government more competent and less parasitic. If we want a government of liberty and democracy I think it should also be representative of the people (ie democratic). On the other hand if elected in exactly the same way as the Commons & with powers either the same or subset of the Commons powers, it would serve no extra purpose.

   I would therefore not give it the power to introduce new legislation. Nor the power to bring the government down through a vote of no confidence. It therefore could not be the primary chamber or indeed any significant influence on the executive part of government.

   Instead its power should be that of pruning useless bits of government. By having only that power it would concentrate on it. I would give the Lords the power to introduce the repeal of laws (I would not prevent the Commons doing so as well but they rarely do).  The Commons would also have to debate and pass the repeal initially, as now, but if they did not and the Lords reintroduced and passed it again a year later a Commons veto would have to be passed by 60%. This is roughly the reverse of the power the Commons have now to override a Lords veto.

   I am here lifting from Heinlein's Lunar Assembly speech though I am afraid I am not being as radical as he.
1 proposal to make this Congress a two-house body. Excellent - the more impediment to legislation the better. But instead of following tradition, I suggest one house of legislators, another whose single duty is to repeal laws. Let the legislators pass laws only with a 2/3rds majority ... while the repealers are able to cancel any law through a mere 1/3rd minority. Preposterous? think about it. If a bill is so poor that it cannot command 2/3rds of your consents is it not likely to make a poor law? And if a law is disliked by as many as 1/3rd is it not likely that you would be better off without it?

   I would also add to that the :ords should have power to close down any branch of government found to have lied to enhance its power; produced regulations whose cost/benefit ratio is at least 4 times greater than that of the restrictions applying to a comparable field; or funded a quango/charity which used that money and could reasonably have been expected to use that money, to advertise/"raise awareness" of the need for more government regulation; or which had broken its Charter or articles of association by lying or grossly exaggerating. The Lords would also have the power to permanently exclude anybody involved, or anybody involved in any personal overuse of their powers, from any form of government employment.

   This is again taken from Heinlein
if his intention is to govern as little as possible-as that means he must keep a sharp eye out and his ear tuned for signs that subordinates are doing unnecessary governing. Half my time is used in the negative work of plucking such officious officials and ordering that they never again serve in any public capacity.
    This would mean that the government parasite who assured us Children just aren't going to know what snow is,” by now because of catastrophic warming would, along with the social workers who kidnap kids for no good reason, the promoters of the evidence free LNT theory and other scares and the BBC, who continuously break their Charter duty of "due balance" would at least have to consider that their jobs could be on the line. Ditto Ed Davy who lied to the Commons that the "experts in the shale gas industry" had told him and Cameron how dodgy their predictions were when in fact it was, quite deliberately, only their competitors he had chosen to speak to.

     To do all that we have to have a chamber with a democratic mandate. I propose that the chamber be made up of 300 Senators. 100 chosen every 5 years at the same time as the general election. The choice proportionately with the entire country serving as 1 constituency, Israeli style. This means that anybody who agree with as much as 1% of the country is going to be represented. I would not go for such a fully representative system for a chamber that was going to form a government, since e it is likely to be so splintered (though it must be admitted that Israel has survived it).

     I don't think it can be seriously denied that this would serve to, with at least some degree of success, prune our government of the parasitic growths which are directly sucking up half the national wealth and destroying at least as much of the potential economy as actually gets produced. There are a previous 15 such controls over government that I have suggested that could also be considered.

     OK now for something a bit controversial. Limiting the franchise.

    On the one hand the argument that democracy cannot long withstand having the free loaders voting themselves "bread and circuses" and that "every election is a sort of advance sale of stolen goods" (Mencken).

    On the other virtually every proposal to limit the franchise and exclude those unworthy tends, coincidentally, to leave those in the group the proposer is in, whether this means limiting it to the intelligent, the educated, the rich, heads of families, people whose grandfathers lived here, Aryans, self styled "technocrats", believers in catastrophic warming, or the urban proletariat.

    So here is something original. Let people sell their votes to the Lords. Let the government offer, say £500 to everybody willing to give up their vote for a 5 year term & sell them on at the same price to anybody who wants to buy, with a minimum of 5 votes per person. Government simply carries out the exchange. Government is instructed to vary the amount annually by 5% (plus growth and inflation) to bring it to a balance of 25% of the population disenfranchising themselves.

   I think it not unreasonable that somebody willing to see their vote is not likely to consider the national interest much when choosing who to vote for. The cynical might think that £500 would have far more than 25% of the population lining up, particularly when it is the 2nd chamber we don't have any say in at the moment. However I am idealistic enough to think the cynical might be in for a surprise. In any case I am quite certain that it would see a higher electoral turnout. People value what they have paid for (Heinlein again) and I doubt if many who had paid that money, or foregone getting it, for their vote, wouldn't use it and use it with some thought.

    Finally, the decision to reform the Lords should be by a multiple choice run off referendum, or more likely 2 rounds of such, with proper broadcast debates on each version. I do suspect that my option would be a bit to much for most people but that is how it goes. Another stitch up where the people are simply bystanders in how our "democracy" is stitched up by those already in power, would not have legitimacy, or deserve to.

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Sunday, July 08, 2012

Recent Reading

Compared to the average three year life span of a common rat, the 10 to 30 year life of the naked mole rat, a subterranean rodent native to East Africa, is impressive. And compared to the human body, the body of this rodent shows little decline due to aging, maintaining high activity, bone health, reproductive capacity, and cognitive ability throughout its lifetime. Now a collaborative of researchers in Israel and the United States is working to uncover the secret to the small mammal's long — and active — lifespan.
Researchers are working to determine whether the naked mole rat's unusually high levels of NRG-1, a neuroprotecting protein, is behind the naked mole rat's three-decade life span. Because rodents have an 85 percent genetic similarity to humans, it may hold the key to a longer and healthier life for us as well.

NRG-1 is a minor compound in humans too, with little clearly identified purpose.

  John Brignall of Numberwatch gives as good as explanation of the Euro crisis as I have seen.

The Euro is not suffering a series of crises. From the moment of its launch in 1999, it has been haunted by a steady divergence of the economies that subscribe to it. The successive crises occur in the fields of politics and the markets, human activities controlled by emotion rather than logic. It was predictable and widely predicted that the concept of One Size Fits All (OSFA) would prove to be fatally flawed. As the divergence progressed it was amplified by positive feedback mechanisms: for example, as some economies thrived because they had the advantage of an undervalued currency (much as China has benefited), so others found that they were handicapped by an overvalued currency, though it was the same currency. Thus resources were gradually diverted from the weak to the strong and on the graph of economic health the individual national lines fanned out wider and wider. Borrowing is easier with an overvalued currency, so the tendency to take on debt as a means of “keeping up with the Joneses” was irresistible to naïve politicians and individuals, piling feedback upon feedback. The continual stream of diktats, of varying degrees of irrationality, pouring out of the Brussels Kremlin, exacerbated the deterioration, while political straitjackets, such as the Common Agricultural Policy, handicapped the weak more than they did the strong.

  Good article in American Thinker of the radiation Linear No Threshold fraud.

  See the cars and people, or any other sign of life? No? This is one of a number of pictures from China of whole cities that have been built by speculative builders and have no actual inhabitants. With the Broad group now also able to build better, higher and cheaper it looks like China may have a massive housing bubble.

HT Chaos Manor
Joseph Friedlander's article on the amount of radiation released by atom bomb tests.

1.87% of all warheads ever built were detonated. I don’t believe this statistic has ever been written up anywhere, an Next Big Future original.
This is more detonations than a full scale Orion (atomic launch of 10,000 tons to orbit or better) flight just to lend perspective, and of far higher yield on average. So we paid the price in fallout and instead of a solar system wide empire, we just got strutting politicians and only by a miracle avoided a nuclear war.
It was, in the words of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, the “tipping point” in the Syria conflict: a savage massacre of over 90 people, predominantly women and children, for which the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was immediately blamed by virtually the entirety of the Western media.

Within days of the first reports of the Houla massacre, the U.S., France, Great Britain, Germany, and several other Western countries announced that they were expelling Syria’s ambassadors in protest.
But according to a new report in Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims were member of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad.

  While this massacre got extensive coverage on our state propaganda broadcaster (infinitely more than the wholly censored Fragodan massacre of at least 210 unarmed civilians carried out by our police) the important question has to be who carried it our. If the victims were Assad's allies then obviously the perpetarors were ours.

    Clearly nobody at the BBC would have difficulty denouncing the Jews for killing Germans at Auschwitz if the party line required it.
  Toni Mcleod had here child taken from her because the "Social Work" Fascists decided that in her household it was likely to be exposed to political ideas Fascists don't approve of and possibly grow to not be fully loyal to the state.

Spiked has a longer article. what I find most dangerous is that either almost our entire media think that government siezing children from birth purely to prevent them ever having political thoughts the GFascists don't like is a matter so unimportant as not to be worth reporting or they almost all accept it is so important it has to be censored.
     Scientific censorship to promote the clearly  fraudulent scare that pollition from vehicles kills..

Dr. James Enstrom had been terminated from his research position in UCLA’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences following a secret faculty vote. After Enstrom’s 34 years of service to the university, what could have led the faculty to such a radical decision?

...his research did not align with the “academic mission” of UCLA’s School of Public Health. The University’s statement is in reference to a peer-reviewed study led by Dr. Enstrom — one that challenged previous research by some of his colleagues who claimed that fine diesel particulate matter was associated with an increase in mortality.
The results that Enstrom challenged were used by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, to justify new regulations ...

 as his own research demonstrated, there was no association between diesel fuel emissions and mortality.
Furthermore, Dr. Enstrom uncovered the truth about the lead author of the CARB Report — that instead of having earned a doctorate in statistics from the University of California, Hien T. Tran had misrepresented his credentials. He actually obtained a Ph.D. by paying $1,000 to a diploma mill called “Thornhill University.”

.....while UCLA took harsh measures against Dr. Enstrom, the CARB “scientist” who faked his academic credentials was issued nothing more than a slap on the wrist: He was temporarily suspended for misconduct.
“If academic freedom means anything, it should permit a professor to challenge bad science and expose scientific misconduct,” points out David French, senior counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which is filing the suit on Dr. Enstrom’s behalf. “Yet UCLA appears more committed to a political agenda than to free and open inquiry.”

Via Jo Nova - The funding of the Royal Society. No wonder they push governments "hobgoblin" lies..
From The Inquirer
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts  - "The UK space industry is worth an estimated £7.5 billion and is an important driver for economic growth," he said. "This is why we've earmarked £10 million in the Budget to start a national space technology programme and committed to reducing the regulatory burden on industry."
However, he was looser of lip in an interview with the Daily Mail, where he explained that Scotland is already earmarked as the launch site for any space holidays, and that Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is the preferred carrier of choice.
"It would be great to see vehicles being launched from the UK again - to see Virgin Galactic launched from Lossiemouth, for example," said Willetts

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