Saturday, May 01, 2010
Stan Elder points out (letter Friday) that his Lordship Peter Mandelson recently said "I'm not very keen, frankly, on the third small party wagging the dog, as it were."They cut the first rather bitchy reference to the Dark Lord's title, though not the 2nd one & toned down the reference to the fact that the Lab/Cons have always made their main selling point not that they are particularly good but that voting for a third party risked letting in the Con/Labs.
The polls show his party to be in 3rd place. I assume that, not being a complete hypocrite, he is about to encourage Labour voters, particularly those who have always been told to vote Labour, not because they are any good but simply to keep the Tories out, to switch to LibDem to keep the Tories out.
There is, of course, some question about whether having Lord Mandelson's endorsement is a good thing.
I did send this, without the first 6 words to a number of other papers but a Google search shows no sign of it being used.
In case anybody thinks I am going soft on the LudDims it is simply that voting for them in preference to the other 2 may get a democratic electoral system & give us the chance to vote for new ideas. I have put this comment on the "Liberal Conspiracy" site which explains my position - despite the wholly dishonest title they are entirely illiberal & if they act according to form will censor this comment.
The LibDem's policies are clinically insane. Given the chance they will destroy most of our electricity generating capacity which, since energy & GNP closely relate means destroying most of the economy. They will deliberately cause massive blackouts & expand the present deliberate murder, by fuel poverty, of 25,000 pensioners a year. They are strongly opposed to economic growth through free markets & indeed almost all traditional liberal values. They are supporters not only of war crimes but of racial genocide, the sexual enslavement of children & the dissection of living people to steal their body organs.
On the other hand this barely makes them worse than the other 2 parties. The reason to vote LD is because they want, for reasons of pure self interest, to have a democratic electoral system & that mean that in the following election we will have a chance to vote for some real alternatives.
"if that won't get them voting LudDim nothing will"
Jerry Pournelle has also published this from me which I have also discussed here before
I am reassured by this article & graph. CO2 rise definitely means better plant growth & thus produces a negative feedback. The human component of CO2 is only 3% whereas if we were to reach the prophesied 450ppm that allegedly triggers disaster plant growth would have increased 8%. The arithmetic seems to show that either the CO2 growth is not manmade but natural or it will reach balance at under 400ppm.
Friday, April 30, 2010
"When the U.S. Navy deploys a battle fleet on exercises, it takes the security of its aircraft carriers very seriously indeed. At least a dozen warships provide a physical guard while the technical wizardry of the world's only military superpower offers an invisible shield to detect and deter any intruders.
That is the theory. Or, rather, was the theory.
American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk - a 1,000ft supercarrier with 4,500 personnel on board.
By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier.
According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.
The Americans had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat.
One Nato figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik" - a reference to the Soviet Union's first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age.
The incident, which took place in the ocean between southern Japan and Taiwan, is a major embarrassment for the Pentagon.
The lone Chinese vessel slipped past at least a dozen other American warships which were supposed to protect the carrier from hostile aircraft or submarines.
And the rest of the costly defensive screen, which usually includes at least two U.S. submarines, was also apparently unable to detect it.
According to the Nato source, the encounter has forced a serious re-think of American and Nato naval strategy as commanders reconsider the level of threat from potentially hostile Chinese submarines.
... Beijing pleaded ignorance and dismissed it as coincidence.
Analysts believe Beijing was sending a message to America and the West demonstrating its rapidly-growing military capability to threaten foreign powers which try to interfere in its "backyard"...
Its 13 Song Class submarines are extremely quiet and difficult to detect when running on electric motors. you think?
The Chinese have also developed or are developing a land based missile capable capable of destroying aircraft carriers at a range of 900 miles.
Understandable that the Chinese would wish to make their side of the Pacific their backyard where the US cannot project power without their tacit approval.
That submarine could certainly have sunk the US carrier & probably have got away too, had that been the intent. A submarine that could do that without being detected by the best the US can produce is indeed technologically advanced & the comparison with Sputnik is fair.
Note the difference in media coverage. Certainly had China wished to publicly crow about it they could have but the fact that we do not hear about such a massive change in the balance of power must also be because our own leaders didn't want it.
USS Kittyhawk going for a Song
Thursday, April 29, 2010
old outdated virility symbol that maintains the illusion
We hear continuously that replacing Trident will cost £100 billion. Every time some "leftist" politician is challenged to say what cuts they would actually go for to cut our £165 bn annual deficit their mantra is "cut Trident". So is it true. Well the £100 bn claim is technically true but deliberately misleading & putting it forward as a serious cut is deliberately dishonest.
The original government figure for a replacement was £15-20 bn so how did it metamorphosis? This unusually useful 2007 article in the Herald says:
"A new analysis of projected spending based on official figures suggests that the cost of buying and operating a successor to Trident will be around £70bn. Added to that, there is the £30bn it will cost to keep the existing warheads in service until 2023.
This contrasts with the £15bn-20bn highlighted by Blair and other ministers as the cost of buying a replacement to Trident. "Tony Blair is trying to persuade parliament to sign up to his nuclear insurance policy without revealing its true cost," alleged John Ainslie, the co-ordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
"The government is trying to con the taxpayer into spending over £100bn on weapons of mass destruction that we don't need and don't want. It will be our schools and hospitals that will suffer if this plan is approved."
In the past, ministers have said that maintaining Trident absorbed no more than 3% of the total defence budget. But recently, they have increased this figure to 5%-6%.
In evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee last week, the defence secretary Des Browne admitted that the cost estimates had been revised. "We went through an exercise recently to make sure that we were identifying as accurately as we could the costs that are associated with our nuclear weapons systems," he said.
He accepted that it was "perfectly legitimate" to assume that Trident would continue to absorb 5%-6% of the defence budget. On that basis, calculations suggest, the total cost of maintaining and replacing Britain's nuclear weapons between now and 2054 will be between £90bn and £110bn.
The Ministry of Defence did not reject these figures, and reiterated that costs were expected to remain at 5% or 6% of the defence budget. "To try to extrapolate running costs for the whole 50-year period from that is inevitably highly speculative," an MoD spokesman said, adding that the cost was less than 0.1% of gross domestic product, and a "price worth paying for continued security".
"Three-quarters of Scottish people oppose spending billions of pounds on new nuclear weapons," said Greenpeace's disarmament campaigner, Louise Edge. "Yet the majority of Scottish Labour MPs are either not saying how they will vote, or have made it clear they will vote to replace Trident."
So the overwhelming majority of cost is day to day running costs not a new build replacement & it is 6% of the military budget. £100 bn spread over 47 years comes out at £2.1bn annually & the amount we could expect the Scots budget to go up would be, on a population basis, 8% of that at £170 million annually.
£170 million is not be sneezed at but neither is it the sort of spending cut that will keep the country solvent. It is according to the pdf mentioned here 1/4 of our rail subsidies & 1 1/2 times our ferry subsidy (p61), 5 times the NHS anti-alcohol awareness programme (p63), almost exactly matches the legal aid budget (p69) & a little less than the Scotland Rural Development Programme (p71). So not money we should waste but not the primary consideration for Trident. Note that though the LudDems want to cut Trident they want to keep a nuclear programme so the running costs would be comparable. By that argument getting rid of NERC (government environmental catastrophe propaganda unit costing £400 million) would save £19 billion (over 47 years - not a figure ever seen in print.
There are good arguments for getting rid of Trident both ethical & practical. Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty we have undertaken to quickly (in 1970) take steps to reduce our weapons. Us keeping our full capacity "because we need it to deter" clearly justifies Iran & North Korea, who are in rather greater danger of invasion, saying the same. Thus by keeping it we make the world more dangerous. With the recent US/Russian START treaty cutting their nukes to 1700/2200 by 2012 our 200 odd starts to become a quite significant & destabilising part of the world total.
On the practical front these nuclear submarines are very much fighting the last war. Their only use is in retaliation for, or to deter, a massive all out nuclear city bombardment by the USSR. Modern nukes are actually much smaller than the traditional ones & designed for use in tactical battlefield or military hardened targets. That means delivered by steerable missiles able to hit to within, at worst, a few feet - ie cruise missiles. Trident type ICBMs are accurate to half a mile or so & thus only of use against cities. If, for example, it were ever decided to take out North Korea we would be targeting the military & possibly the Presidential palace & if nukes were used it would be kiloton jobs. We wouldn't want to destroy NK's civilian population because best guess is they don't like Kim any more than we do & he wouldn't care much. For that reason there are almost no circumstances under which Trident could be used which is a serious argument for not having it. This does not preclude having a smaller number of cruise missile launched Bombs.
There is a genuine national debate to be had on our nuclear weapon programme but neither side wants to have it. Opponents have focused on the clearly dishonest cost aspect exaggerating it out of all sense because they think the public will be fooled. If it were a useful adjunct to our national power it would be well worth 6% of our defence budget. Equally Trident supporters are unwilling to think about our military needs & prefer an old outdated virility symbol that maintains the illusion we are the same world power the British Empire was half a century ago.
And for my own personal hobby horse may I point out that for £265 million (1/8th of what the UK spends on Trident & 1 1/2 times what Scotland does) we could have a Space x-Prize Foundation which would make us the world leader in space development (or our money back) & thus not only produce spectacular economic success but also allow us a head start in a large number of military applications (observation satellites, the Thor orbital which, bombardment system) which rather than being a purely decorative & false national virility system would be the real thing.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
"Eros is a typical stony asteroid. One of thousands easily reached by spacecraft launched from Earth...
In the 2,900 cubic kms of Eros, there is more aluminium, gold, silver, zinc and other base and precious metals than have ever been excavated in history or indeed, could ever be excavated from the upper layers of the Earth's crust. A cautious estimated suggests 20,000 million tons of aluminum along with similar amounts of gold, platinum and other rarer metals.
That is just in one asteroid and not a very large one at that. There are thousands of asteroids out there.
What is it worth? The gold alone is worth billions of dollars at today's prices (which would probably crash if you suddenly tried to sell all the gold on Eros at once!). The other metals such as platinum are even more expensive.
The technology to mine asteroids for the most part exists today. What is lacking are the financial resources to carry out such endeavors along with commercial entities willing to tackle the job."
And from Space.com:
"to entrepreneur Jim Benson, these space rocks are this millennium’s Holy Grail.
Benson is chief executive of SpaceDev, a Poway, California-based commercial space exploration and development company that plans to one day launch a robot craft, or a Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP), to an asteroid. Once there, it would land instruments to take photographs and scientific readings to detect the presence of such precious commodities as platinum, gold, cobalt and water.
"The wealth out there is beyond imagination," Benson said.
In fact, the total amount of resources available in the heart of the Asteroid belt -- which exists between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter -- is staggering. There are enough raw materials to maintain a human population of the hundreds of trillions, or 1 million times the maximum capacity that can fit on Earth, says John Lewis, professor of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and co-director of the Space Engineering Research Center."
Reminds me of somebody who suggested 6 years ago that Scotland or Britain put up a £20 million X-Prize which would give our country a head start, both in technical capability & in any legal claim, in the development of these multi-trillions.
We would either be well on the way to having this won by some small robotic probe or indeed it would have been achieved by now.
The LibDems had asked for "blue sky ideas" for something that would give their conference a little life but I was subsequently advised that the Executive committee had been "rolling around the floor laughing at it" (an interesting visual image but possibly only a metaphor). To be fair to the LudDims no other UK party has been more forward looking. Perhaps in another 6 years they will think it a good idea but be expalining that since Singapore or Dubai has already done it it is too late. More likely some other country will. Of course I pointed out at the time that if it didn't work there would be no cost so that there was no logical argument against it. There are still no logical arguments against X-Prizes but we are still waiting.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I felt considerable sympathy for the LibDem representative, an inoffensive wee Moslem lassie who had joined the party during its opposition to the Iraq war (ie after my expulsion) when an Imamish looking nutter vituperatively attacked her from the audience as no longer a Moslem because she was appearing in public, or drinking water in the presence of Christians while being a woman or some similar incomprehensible reason. More reasonable sounding & thus perhaps more dangerous was a speaker who wanted some Sharia law superseding common law within the Moslem community "as the Jews have" (they don't) with an aside that he would actually like Sharia law everywhere but that is impossible. So special Sharia rules for Moslems but if the Moslems take over then no special rules for non-Moslems - the contradiction clearly caused no problem.
My question was
The average household now pays £1243 annually for electricity. This is 4 times the rate in France which means we are paying £900 unnecessarily. According to Ofgen this will rise over the next few years to by 60% to £2,000 meaning an extra cost of £1,700 for each household. This is far more than any token spending commitments or cuts any of the "official parties"* will promise & probably more than the tax rises they are going to produce.
Beyond that all the "official" parties have voted, unanimously, to cut our CO2 producing electricity capacity by 42% along with all nuclear which means cutting half our electricity supply & thus about half our national wealth to prevent the catastrophic warming of last winter. I would like to ask the candidates to say why they want us to be impoverished by Luddism
The chair said he would only put it to the SNP & Green spokesman because they were running short of time (& needed to get in an anti-Israeli question).
The SNP candidate who answered 2nd said that "renewables" were going to become cheap but didn't explain how or why.
More interestingly the Green candidate, Dr Martin Bartos, whom I don't think I have ever met said "I think the speaker is Neil Craig who has written letters in the Herald saying the same things & I don't think he would expect me to agree with him. There are technical difficulties with nuclear & the prices are questionable" (I interjected here & the chair said he would let me reply at the end).
My reply was "It is a matter of fact that the French generate their power at 1/4 the cost of ours. This is not a technicality it is money being taken, unnecessarily out of our pockets. End of." (with hindsight I should also have said that only about 30% of electricity is domestic so so that the damage to the entire economy was far greater & in the end we pay for it all).
Several people congratulated me on that & I think my question & the total failure of the candidates to answer it struck home.
However I am both surprised & gratified to see that I am held in such high regard by the eco-fascist community that they recognise my face in an audience. All the more gratifying as it is 11 months since the Herald last decided to publish a letter from me on eco subjects though they have done a couple on other subjects. Dr Martin looks inoffensive too & I'm sure would not participate in the "we know where you work, we know where you live, we are many" tactics which Greens recently decided to advertise as a substitute for discussion. The very fact that most Green groups have made it a policy never to engage in debate with sceptics proves 2 thing - (1) they know they are unlikely to win any fairly conducted debate & (2) that they know the government influenced & in large part government owned media will give them airtime & column inches to put their anti-human lies while denying scientific sceptics a word. So I am glad the question was, for once, at least asked if not answered.
* "Official parties" - only the Lab/Con/LD/SNP/Green coalition members had been invited - the Conservative didn't turn up
David Cameron has said that in demanding an electoral system in which results are in proportion to votes Nick Clegg engaged in "extortion" & "holding the country to ransom". Iain Dale has joined in. The sheer hypocrisy of that & the underlying implication that the Cons/Labs have an inherent right to rule which it is impertinent of voters for LDs or anybody else to try to change is staggering. I have said on Iain's blog
Well if making it a condition that we have a democratic electoral system is "putting party before country" as Iain says & "extortion" as Cameron says then that is a tacit admission of something.-----Eratatouille----------
That the insistence of the Conservatives, for nearly a century, that they would rather lose & see Labour with total control than change a corrupt electoral system that tended to give them power alternately has been the Conservatives "putting party before country" & "extortion" mounted against the British people by them for that century.
Every single time some Tory has said that voting LibDem or UKIP or indeed anybody else "risked letting Labour in", purely because of the corrupt fascist electoral system you support, was extorting votes.
May we expect an apology for all the Labour governments from their Conservative co-conspirators??
Some years ago I wrote to then leader IDS pointing out that the Conservatives could have guaranteed to win the then approaching election simply by adopting PR & making an electoral pact with the LDs. He obviously didn't reply. So lets not ever have any girning from the anti-democratic Tories that the system no longer works for them & that the public don't respect or trust them.
I have been quote on Britblog Roundup's listing of the week regularly for some time however this week I would like to mention that my previous Scotsman letter was chosen & extensively quoted by this week's host Charles Crawford. Charles is a former British ambassador to Bosnia & Serbia & when the LibDems refused to defend themselves from the charge of participation in war crimes I genocide against the Serbs took up the challenge (I think unsuccessfully but may be biased). I have followed his blog, which is erudite on many other subjects particularly (natch) diplomatic since, & put this in reply to somebody who said he followed Charles' blog just because of my comments.
On the other hand Charles, whom I should not like but do, has just chosen to highlight something completely different I said on the britblog thread. It takes fine judgement to behave so to someone who has said quite harsh things about all those involved in that war which includes him. This is or at least used to be a very British virtue,
Now if only the people on Scottish Roundup thought I was as big a fish as the British site, but then since they put Bishop Hill, one of the world leading sites exposing warming as Scotland's 71st site their standards must be high.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
except for nuclear, tidal & geothermal (spoken very quickly because it doesn't scan)
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the 'Milky Way'.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide.
We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go 'round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.
The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.
And if you think such a universe must be diverse
Each second we get another infinite new multiverse
A necessary antidote to seeing the idiocies around us. There must be a universe where somebody intelligent is First Minister, Prime Minister or God. Indeed there must be an infinity of them.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
In Norway, Seaweed Energy Solutions has patented the first ever modern structure to enable mass seaweed cultivation on an industrial scale in the world¹s oceans. The structure, known as the Seaweed Carrier, makes a clean break with past seaweed cultivation methods that have all been based on ropes. The Seaweed Carrier is a sheet-like structure that basically copies a very large seaweed plant, moving freely back and forth through the sea from a single mooring on the ocean floor.I am not convinced of all this CO2 nonsense but nonetheless have previously blogged on growing oil from algae at sea. If this can be used to grow burnable seaweed in commercial quantities then it is worth looking at for growing genetically modified seaweed which could produce oil, or indeed as GM matures as a technology, almost any compound in organic chemistry (ie carbon based). And I guess, loony as it is, I would prefer the Scottish Government to "save carbon" this way than letting the lights go out. I have sent this to leaders of the Holyrood parties but, unsurprisingly, have had no response. I don't know whether this will work - it all depends on cost about which the article is unspecific - but surely it is worth at least looking at.
The Seaweed Carrier will allow seaweed cultivation to become a possibility in deeper and more exposed waters, opening the way for large scale production that is necessary to make seaweed a viable source of energy. According to SES, growing seaweed in farms covering an area of just less than 0.05 percent of Europe’s coastal regions would yield a yearly production of 75 million tons of seaweed. This biomass could be converted into an estimated 846 Mgy (3.2 billion litters) of ethanol, about 4.7 percent of the global ethanol production in 2008.
If this has potential anywhere it must have it in Scotland. As you can see our national waters could contain the 0.05% of Europe's territorial waters needed without any inconvenience.
If the new government, whoever it is, decide to cancel the order for new aircraft carriers built in Clyde docks, as they should if the purpose of military spending is for military capacity rather than job creation, this is, or the building of equatorial floating seasteads, could more usefully take their place.
H/T Al Fin