Saturday, May 19, 2007
47 Neil says "Technologically it would be simple to produce good, inexpensive housing. Politically you would have to face down so many vested interests"I am informed that the government rules on cubic space per person have actually become smaller since the 60s so this may be a sign of a welcome reversal, or it may just be producing the ever initially popular targets.
absolutely spot on.
I am currently working on a housing project which has been in development for 6 years!
The hoops the local authority concerned has made us go through would be unbelieveable to anybody not in the industry. We're just about to go on site, but that has taken 6 years and a million quid! Grrrrr.
it would take all day to describe how difficult it is to get housing projects through the Planning system.
the new building regs are a definite step in the right direction. Will actually improve space standards quite a bit - some of the private builders are panicking about it as their space standards have been atrocious. Don't have problem with that, but it's all the other infinitely regressing steps you have to go through to get projects approved which are so frustrating.
e.g. to build a housing scheme you usually need Roads Construction Consent from the local authority. But Roads won't START looking at the RCC until Planning has been granted. There are supposed to be 3 month timescales for both Planning and RCC these are rarely met. One part of the project I mentioned above had outline planning approved in 2004. The detailed planning application was rejected so it was redesigned and another detailed application submitted in November 2005. Still not decided, 2 and half years after that. 3 month timescale? Hopefully it will be approved and then and only then will the council formally consider the RCC.
Third party consents also take forever - the local authority has to get formal comment from the likes of SEPA, SNH, Scottish Water on planning applications. Flood risk assesement can be a particular problem because councils, SEPA and SW all pass the buck. Ditto sewerage capacity.
Takes forever. Even getting comment internally from various council departments can take ages.
The project mentioned above needed a formal view from HSE because it is near a distillery. HSE wouldn't speak to us directly, and wouldn't give a timescale for a response. That took nearly a year to resolve and we had to go to the Minister in the end to get a reply. Aaaaargh!
I very much welcome the suggested review of the Quangos - there has got to be a simpler way of doing things than the present guddle.
There are quite often comments online on papers which are far more informative than the articles themselve, partly because better informed & partly because they feel free to speak honestly in a way journalists clearly don't. To be fair there are also far more which aren't, but this is one of the former.
FEARS of a fresh terrorist atrocity gripped the US yesterday after the vice president, Dick Cheney, warned it was "not a matter of if but when" an attack on the United States would take place.From the Scotsman 20th may 2002. If al Quaeda didn't still exist, just barely, those in power would have to invent some other hobgoblin to keep us scared (see this bl;og's heading). I'm afraid no matter how much they prop them up & wave their arms about al Quaeda & Global Warming make very threadbare bogey men. Perhaps, if they get their way, the powers that be will get a bit more mileage out of using the Russians again.
....The New York Times reported that US intelligence agencies have intercepted a series of messages among al-Qaeda operatives indicating the group is attempting to launch an attack as big as or bigger than that of 11 September.
The FBI warned of a possible al-Qaeda plot to bomb US flats. Another source told CNN the volume of "troubling" communications among suspected al-Qaeda members had "definitely picked up in the last month". Their volume and pattern were similar to those before 11 September.
This is not a real ring of galactic clusters. It is an optical illusion formed by a gravity source in the middle which bends light passing on both sides so that the light comes to a focus,after traveling 5 billion light years, here. It is evidence for the existence of considerable amounts of Dark Matter. Dark mMatter is the material astronomers cannot see but would really like to be there if the universe is ever to rebound rather than keep on expanding forever. This doesn't prove there is enough Dark matter of this but it is a pointer. My intuitive guess is that the more matter we find the closer we will get to a closed universe but I doubt if we will ever quite get there - but this is an almost religious speculation more than a scientific one.
The ring , 2.6 million light-years across, was found in the cluster CL0024+17, located five billion light-years from Earth. A member of the team that spotted the dark matter ring, said they unexpectedly found the ring while mapping the distribution of dark matter within the cluster, by observing how its gravity bends the light of more distant background galaxies. Computer simulations of the gravitatonal refraction reveal that as the clusters collide, the dark matter falls to the centre of the combined cluster and "sloshes" back out.
Friday, May 18, 2007
I = P × A × T
Human Impact (I) on the natural environment equals the product of population (P), affluence (A; consumption per capita) and technology (T: environmental impact per unit of consumption).
This describes how our growing population, affluence, and technology contribute toward our environmental impact.
The equation was developed in the 1970's during the course of a debate between Barry Commoner, Paul R. Ehrlich and John Holdren
This is one of the staple equations of the "environmental movement", perhaps the satple, despite the fact that Impact & Technology are virtually impossble to measure numerically & Affluence little moreso.
However the main point has to be that technology, because it is how we manipulate the world to produce ever greater effects with the same inputs is not a multiplier of impact but a divider. High technology produces more efficiently per unit (it may thus allow to produce more units which means wealth but that is an increase in affluence & doesn't change the basic effect). If higher technology requires less inputs it is, by definition, an impact divider rather than multiplier.
As Doctor Emmit Brown said in Back to the Future II when it was suggested they deliberatley fly into the baddies car "that is a 1950s Chevrolet, this is a state of the art DeLorean - they'd go through us like paper". 1950s cars did use so much more steel because they were lower technology.
I do think it pretty worrying that the Royal Society is slithering away from a motto which deliberately made no compromises with the political correctness of the era of Charles II, Darwin's enemies or anybody up till now.
by Ben Pile & Stuart Blackman
It is an ominous sign that the prestigious scientific institution has changed its motto from 'on the word of no one' to 'respect the facts'.
Nullius in Verba, the motto of the prestigious Royal Society in London, is usually translated as 'on the word of no one'. When it was coined back in 1663, it was intended to distance science from the methods of the ancient universities, which relied heavily on the personal authority of the scholars. 'On the word of no one' highlighted the independent authority that empirical evidence bestowed on science; knowledge about the material universe should be based on appeals to experimental evidence rather than authority.
Lately, however, the Royal Society has dropped any mention of 'on the word of no one' from its website. Instead, it talks of the need to 'verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment'. Lord May of Oxford, erstwhile president of the Royal Society and former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, offers us a whole new translation: 'respect the facts.' This provides the title of his recent review in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS), in which he gave the scientific nod of approval to seven recent publications on climate change, including books by George Monbiot, Al Gore and Sir Nicholas Stern (1).
The Royal Society's 'motto-morphosis' - where it has gone from saying 'on the word of no one' to demanding that we 'respect the facts' - points to an important shift in the way that scientific authority is used to close down debate these days.
Also reported on CCNet today
Thursday, May 17, 2007
This is purely pandering to the Green Luddites. There is no credible risk of spillage & we are depriving the country of the £6 million annual fees for no work. Is this the way to get the economy moving as the SNP (& indeed Labour repeatedly) promised? When something comes up, as it surely will, where we need to spend £6 million will the Greens be on their feet apologising that it cannot be done.
£3 million each annually as merely the first instalment payment for 2 Green MSPs seems a very high price.
Vaclav Klaus the Czech President has made a speech on environmentalism which also encapsulates my views. Naturally it will not receive 1000th the coverage the BBC & other MSM give to the expertise of Gore or indeed Madonna.
During his speech, Klaus argued that environmentalism represented just as big a danger to freedom as communism.
Klaus's publisher, Marek Pecinka, characterised his book as "an effective antidote against the gossip of Al Gore."
In a speech last month, Klaus said that while he recognised concerns about the environment were legitimate, his problem with environmentalism as an ideology.
"Environmentalism only pretends to deal with environmental protection," he told the right-wing libertarian think-tank the Cato Institute in Washington.
"Behind their people- and nature-friendly terminology, the adherents of environmentalism make ambitious attempts to radically reorganize and change the world, human society, our behavior, and our values," he added.
What an upside down world we live in.
"West Nile Virus, which is spread by mosquito bites, has infected 23,974 people in the US and killed 962 of them since 1999"
That the virus is killing people is not news but dead birds are.
It is also worth pointing out, as I have done before, that the "environmentalists" ban on DDT has allowed the world's mosquito population to flourish & thereby killed 1.5 million people from malaria each year, proving the claim that the Greens have indeed killed more people than Hitler.
The DDT ban was introduced because there was some, slight & partly disproven, evidence that DDT might harm birds. Such is the complexity of ecology (a fact ignored by the "ecologically aware" community) it is clear that the DDT ban, by encouraging mosquitoes, assists the spread of west nile virus & thus, among other arguably greater effects, kills birds.
HERE IS A JUNKSCIENCE ARTICLE GOING INTO THE DDT CASE IN GREAT DETAIL
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
LOTS OF COMMENTS - including election
Russia - a high growth success http://www.sundayherald.com/international/shinternational/display.var.1362865.0.0.php
Iain McWhirter http://www.sundayherald.com/election2007/election2007/display.var.1362917.0.0.php
Green coalition http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=660142007
Tactical voting http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=660132007
SNP's 4% promise http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=659732007
Subsidising banners http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/letters.cfm?id=660192007------
Swing against the leading party http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/news/display.var.1363345.0.0.php
Salmond being reasonable http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=663822007
Irish immigration http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=669312007
Kicking Moonbat & the enviros http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2069395,00.html
"Tactical" Green vote http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=668852007
Tom Shields http://www.sundayherald.com/election2007/election2007/display.var.1346652.0.0.php
Extending Hunterston http://www.theherald.co.uk/business/news/display.var.1368757.0.0.php
Serbia "The reason why Serbia is still attacked is because, as a human being, if you want to have any self respect & you know you have done soemthing truly subhuman you either have to do something almost superhuman to atone or convince yourself that your victims aren't really human.
Nova news http://news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=716772007
Postal ballots http://news.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=718462007
Blair war criminal http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.1391070.0.0.php
Representationof small parties http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/letters.cfm?id=728302007
"Environmental" reporting http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=729272007
Disnae say Disney http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=727702007
Forth crossing http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=727782007
Subsidised trains/trams http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/letters.cfm?id=735342007
Minority govt http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=735002007
Special relationship http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/mark_seddon/2007/05/changing_relationships.html
Trump's golf course http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=735312007
Putin's visit to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on May 9-12 resulted in a dramatic agreement over a trilateral deal involving the three countries: to build a pipeline along the Caspian Sea coast for transporting Turkmen gas to the European market via Kazakhstan and Russia.Kipling called the movement of the Russian borders southwards & the British Empire's movement north the "great Game". In those days it really was somewhat of a game since none of these territories had anything much worth owning. Nowadays they do. Britain & indeed the entire EU are now pieces rather than players in this game in which the US has just lost big time. The influence on western Europe over the coming years can, unless we go nuclear in a really big way, hardly be underestimated.
The pipeline is expected to be operational by 2009, and is estimated to carry 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas annually....
.....constitutes a great strategic setback for the United States' obsessive campaign in recent years to secure oil and gas from the Caspian and Central Asian region that would be independent of Russian control....
Tehran will have sensed by now - just as it is about to sit down for negotiations with the US over Iraq - that it has virtually become the last frontier in the energy war. Europe's remaining hope of diversifying its energy sources (away from Russian supplies) will significantly depend on its access to Iran's gas reserves....
Thus Russia's transit monopoly through the so-called Central Asia-Center Pipeline, known officially as the Single Export Channel, will remain firmly in place for the foreseeable future. Thereby, Central Asian states' gas reserves are, in effect, amalgamated with Russia's into a single pool that will be marketed under Russia's physical and commercial control.....
Washington's objective was threefold: cajole Nazarbayev into committing Kazakh oil in a big way to the US-financed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline so that the venture becomes economically viable; two, encourage Kazakhstan to work in tandem with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan so that a trans-Caspian gas pipeline bypassing Russia becomes a reality; third, promote Kazakh oil exports to Central Europe via Georgia and Ukraine so that the pro-US countries of "new Europe" , such as Poland and the Baltic states (and potentially Ukraine), could jettison their dependence on Russian energy supplies, which is an imperative for the geopolitics of Eurasia in any new cold-war setting.
So it came as a body blow to Washington that Nazarbayev said in Astana after talks with Putin last Thursday, "Kazakhstan is absolutely committed to shipping most of its oil, if not all of it, through Russian territory.....
Nazarbayev has been equally caustic about attempts by Washington to instigate instability in Ukraine with the objective of rolling back the revival of Russian influence in Kiev.
What emerges is that the US attempt to drive a wedge between the Central Asian countries and Russia lies in shambles. Russia's economic recovery and its willingness and capacity to play an assertive role in the region have instilled confidence in the Central Asian states that they can look up to the Kremlin for a leadership role.
Meanwhile the British media is camped out in Portugal. The BBC had THIS quite well presented but minor online offering. The rest of the media has averaged less coverage. Another example of how the purpose of the MSM is to divert & entertain rather than inform.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
It is quite clear that the Portuguese police literally don't have a clue. This is not criticism - sometimes there are no clues.
The questioning of Robert Murat, something from which he will probably never be free if Madeleine isn't found, was brought about by a suspicious journalist. Lori Campbell of the Sunday Mirror made this deductive leap because
“He was acting very strangely. I found him to be creepy. When he was talking to me he was vague about his background. He was coming in and out of the family apartment speaking with the media and acting like he was somebody official.”say no more.
Clearly Ms Campbell has heard of Soham where the murderer showed a similar enthusiasm for media highlife. However this not only isn't evidence it isn't anything. Journalists are not detectives, they are, at best, amateurs in the field yet on this lack of anything lives are being ruined.
I suggest a better comparison would be with the Jill Dando murder. There, as in this case, police had come to a dead end, or lots of dead ends. There, as here, their was immense pressure to find someone. A story must have a beginning, a middle & an ending - preferably a happy ending but at least some sort of ending & if real live is not so obliging it must be created. The media demand a solution & they will have one whether it exists or not. The right solution would be best but they will bay for blood till they have some sort of solution.
The Portuguese police are thus under immense pressure to find somebody - anybody. In the same way the UK police were under similar pressure to "solve" the Dando killing & were able to pin it on on Barry George. Some of them may even have believed it, after all the human animal has immense ability to rationalise our desires. The fact remains that there was no real evidence against Barry George & a solid alibi. Nonetheless it would have taken a brave jury to release him & attract tabloid opprobrium on their own heads & he did not get a brave jury.
There is no reasonable doubt that Barry George is innocent & without taking the Marat case to far the fact that he was living with his mother makes it improbable that he could kidnap the child & bring her to his home.
Mr Murat, 33, was taken for questioning at Portimao police station yesterday along with a German woman, believed to be his girlfriend, and a Portuguese man.The feeding frenzy by journalists dissecting the lives of these people is obscene. Trial by media is clearly incompatible with justice or even the rule of law.
Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa, spokesman for the Madeleine McCann investigation, said today that a British man in his thirties taken from the house which was searched has now been classed as an “arguido”.
..........Mr Murat's cousin, Sally Eveleigh, said there was “absolutely no way” he could have anything to do with Madeleine’s disappearance. Ms Eveleigh, who runs a guesthouse near Lagos, close to Praia da Luz, told Sky News: “They [police] had heard from English reporters that ... Robert had said he missed his daughter so much. And from that, because they’ve got nothing to go on, they’ve all started assuming.
“We had dinner with them on Saturday night, him and his mother. He was so calm, they stayed at the table when we left - if you’re doing something bad, there’s no way you would be doing that. And I’ve known him all his life - he’s much younger than me - and there’s absolutely no way. He loves children, but not to do something like that."
Ms Eveleigh was visited by police last night who questioned her about her cousin, she told Sky News.
UPDATE Iain Dale has said something similar.
Monday, May 14, 2007
What it takes is $25 (£12.50).
If you feel like splashing out $35 you can become a scientist with his own free mousemat.
I am currently offering to make you enormously attractive to members of the opposite sex. Join the Union of Sex Gods & Goddesses at the low introductory price of £10 sent to me. For £20 you get a can of Lynx as well which is guaranteed to at least double the effect.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
OK so all this is a bit silly. The BBC's reporting naturally gave most of its coverage to the plucky Brits & how we wuz robbed
It meant that Scooch narrowly avoided finishing 24th out of 24, as British act Gemini had in 2003 - famously scoring "nul points" - with the song Cry Baby.As the Serb singer said
But Scooch were characteristically undeterred by the result.
"To be honest, this experience has been one in a million," said singer Caroline Barnes.
The Eastern European state will now be charged with hosting the event in 2008.Which is probably true.
Following her win, Ms Serifovic told reporters "a new chapter has opened for Serbia".
"I am so proud. All my success is made by singing."
The complaints about tactical voting (by other countries of course) may have some basis
Former YugoslaviaThe strange thing about this tactical voting is that if what the BBC & other media have been saying for the last 17 years - that hatreds in the Balkans run so deep that genocide is inevitable, that it was not caused by us supplying psychopathic ex-Nazis with money & guns & that we have, at all times, been involved merely to bring peace - were in the remotest degre truthful then they wouldn't have been voting for each other. The alternative that it was virtually entirely the fault of NATO's genocidal Nazi leaders arming psychopaths will not, naturaly be mentioned by the BBC.
For the first time, a fromer Yugoslav country has won. But how have Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and F.Y.R. Macedonia voted. Actually, the other five countries have all given their top mark to Serbia. 46 of the 73 Mecedonian points came from other F.Y.R.s., the same counts for exactly half of the Slovene points (33 of 66). For Bosnia & Herzegovina we can count 37 out of 106. Overall, it has to be pointed out that Serbia, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Slovenia have received points from every other ex Yugoslav country.