Wednesday, April 30, 2008

punkscience is going on a cruise . . .

. . . in the North Sea, for two weeks. So you will have to arrange for other sources of anger and vitriol to inform or entertain yourselves, or to disgust yourselves with, if that's why you're here (I dunno- it takes all sorts).

Whatever you do, I can assure you it will be much less fun than playing with crabs for two weeks- for which, I offer my sympathy.

Ciao!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Noam rules

“If the left means anything, it means it’s concerned for the needs, welfare, and rights of the general population.”

Word. I wonder where Noam's political compass lies?

The Media Lens massive are pretty rad too:

"
In the last decade of corresponding with journalists we have found that they often do behave as though they were living in a police state, or at least in a state policed by corporate power. Many are privately supportive and helpful. Indeed, many journalists who might be expected to be fierce opponents of our work, are in fact enraged by the mendacity and destructiveness of the media employing them. But they tell us their comments must be off the record; that they are not willing to comment over the internet (which is surely monitored); that they will help us only on condition that their names be concealed. Could it be more obvious that journalists do not feel free to write the truth about Alton and Kelner, and much else, because of the likely professional consequences?"

Peter Mandelson is a sociopathic cockweasel

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Word.

I've had a shit day and to come home to face this neo-classical economical, ecocidal mania is just too much for me. I need a drink.

And a spliff. I'm really not much of a reefer-fiend, preferring a glass of good rum when I'm in company. But tonight I just feel the need for that warm fuzziness and the welcome absolution of short-term memories.

Self-medication rules.


Addition:

I changed the epithet in the title. I regret my original term, which was designed for maximum offense and was a product of my earlier bitterness.

Anyway, how's this for an interesting observation:

" . . . arable land would store more carbon year on year for many decades if just left to revert to a natural ecosystem . . . . If we grow biofuels "on previously unfarmed land" we will obviously incur the opportunity cost that the land would (or already does) store more carbon if we DON'T grow biofuels on it than if we DO."

It was a comment from SteelyGlint below Mandletwat's article. I'm not sure how right it is but it certainly rings true to me. Carbon fixed in biofuel production on arable land is rapidly released back into the atmosphere. The obvious problem is that letting arable land 'return to nature' results in a loss of food production capacity, just as the conversion to biofuel production does.

the Americanisation of the UK is almost complete

With the revelation that several UK citizens allege that they were tortured in Pakistan after being detained on terrorism charges the convergence of US and UK security policies proceeds unabated. Our military and security services are now accused of indiscriminate bombing, torture and abuse, ignoring- and even obstructing- the detention of war criminals, advocating the training of a new generation of guerillas and terrorists and- generally- operating utterly counterproductive security policies that serve to propagate and magnify the threat as opposed to reducing it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Murdoch criticises the BBC for being great

James Murdoch, clone of his BBC-hating, right-wing extremist father, has decided that the BBC's iPlayer service is a bad thing. Unsurprisingly really, seeing as his company BSkyB has completely missed the boat on internet TV and is now unable to compete with the BBC's visionary service. This is the second time in a month that the iPlayer has been criticised by corporate figures, who are clearly rattled at its success. Personally, I've never used it, but I can see how I will soon come to rely on it as I loathe the pre-programmed format of modern television almost as much as I hate the mindless shite that is perpetually broadcasted. Basically, these guys are assaulting the BBC because of what it is, not what it is doing. They simply can't stand having to compete with an organisation with a prescriptive mandate for objectivity and balance, however poorly that may be implemented. It clashes directly with the corporate media's goal of homogeneity, elimination of real news and the dissemination of nationalist and corporate propaganda.


Addition:

More lies and propaganda from the little shit in this CiF post. Read the 3rd comment. Word!

lies, damned lies and White House Intelligence Briefs

In a moment that makes me wonder if I am not a little prescient after my previous post, the White House today broadcast claims that the building in Syria that was bombed by Israel- in a flagrant act of aggression- on September 6th, 2007, was a nuclear reactor.

Independent
BBC
Guardian

The possibility that this was, in fact, a nuclear plant, is a little remote. Why would Syria start a nuclear program? The US and Israel clearly have the country infested with agents and have satellite imagery of every inch of its surface. Syria stands to gain nothing from a nuclear program- whatever its purpose. I think this is an outright fabrication by the US to perpetuate ill-feeling towards the Arab states of the Middle East (anyone remember the "Iranian weapons" being supplied to Iraqi militia that were labelled with Roman characters, instead of Persian). Syria offered an olive branch to the US and they flatly refused it. The US has everything to gain from falsifying these allegation and Syria has nothing to gain from them being true.

'Nuff said.


Addition:

The IAEA has now waded in to the debate, pointing out rightly that the US and Israel should have shared any intel on a nuclear reactor with them first and foremost. Another example of the hell-bent unilateralism of these two states.

Just for a moment here, lets pause and review what enormous and genocide-promoting gaffs US intelligence has provided us with in the past.

  • "Iraq is building nuclear weapons"
  • "Iran """""""""""""""""""""""""""""
  • A refusal to confirm or deny whether Israel has a nuclear weapon
Lets also just stop and consider what has been said by the US here:

  • that the reactor is "good to go"
    • this is clearly such utter bollocks that it should instantly invalidate any further posits from them. The "reactor building" didn't even have a roof when it was bombed!
  • "Syria had built the plant "carefully hidden from view""
    • so 'carefully hidden' that a commercial satellite operator could get images of it? What utter shite!
  • "the reactor was designed to produce a small amount of plutonium, which can be used to build a nuclear bomb"
    • sorry, what? How did they know this? If the North Koreans have spent the last twenty five years running a reactor similar to the alleged one here and haven't built a working warhead I don't think there's much to fear here. Building a nuclear powerplant and building a nuclear bomb are quite, quite different kettles of fish.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Spectator: A mouthpiece for US and Israeli propaganda

Compare and contrast these two reports of the Israeli air strike on September 6th upon a target inside Syria.

One of them presents balanced perspectives and attributes its sources. The other is hysterical and makes extensive use of unattributable, unnamed sources.

Which do we think is the most accurate? Hmmmmmmm?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Middle Eastern insight

This ZNet interview with Norman Finkelstein is an amazing insight into the forces at play in the ME.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dominic Lawson is a climate change-denying cockweasel

For someone who writes for the Indy he's remarkably stupid. He has utterly failed to contemplate the trend for rising fuel prices that will make renewable generation profoundly competitive within a few years. He is stupid enough to not have learnt anything from The Stern Report. He also makes no consideration of the apocalyptic consequences of rejecting sustainable development and renewable generation. In fact, this article misses so many glaring chances to point opinion in progressive directions- that is, directions which would lead to progress- that you have to wonder at the man's motives for essentially advocating the end of our society as we know it.

Take the economic point Lawson makes: That the economic downturn turns people's concerns away from environmentalism and towards economic stability. What he has missed completely is that the economic system itself is sick and in dire need of reform. The banks, whose idiocy and greed produced the economic crisis, aren't mentioned at all. Neither is any proposed changes to the system that might allow economic concerns to be mitigated.

That's just one example of an elephant in Dominic's room. Another would be his justified assault upon micro-generation. Damning David Cameron's poxy little turbine is entirely correct and Dominic throws some good figures in there. But this is after he has slated the EU's proposals for renewable energy generation, observing that they will cost the consumer £10 billion in total. The fact that such capacity will produce essential reductions in carbon emissions, increase energy security, generate thousands of jobs, shield us from subsequent rises in fuel costs and another million good reasons also pass mention, as does the fact that we should not be footing the bill for it- the government should be using our tax money to stabilise our economy and energy security!

But the worst piece of misdirection is Lawson's observation that "the British public . . . need educating about [the inconsistency of wind generation]" using the Texan example. His tone implies that, if the public knew about this flaw in the technology's reliability to generate electricity, they would reject such technology whole heartedly.This implication that renewable generation is flawed, uneconomic and inappropriate runs through the whole article. And, of course, it is entirely incorrect. As I have demonstrated time and again on this blog, renewable generation is perfectly capable of powering the world as long as it is applied intelligently.

Finally, and most damning of all, Lawson fails to extrapolate from his condemnation of renewable generation and covert endorsement of unsustainable development to the future: If we don't move to a sustainable society then catastrophic climate change will be inevitable and millions will die, our society will be crippled by food-poverty and mass migration of climate refuges and the economy will collapse. Dominic seems to imply that this is an acceptable alternative.

He is, clearly, a fucking cockweasel.



Addition:

Case closed:
“The burning of fossil fuels sends about seven gigatons of CO2 per year into the atmosphere, which sounds like a lot. Yet the biosphere and the oceans send about 1900 gigatons and 36000 gigatons of CO2 per year into the atmosphere – ... one reason why some of us are sceptical about the emphasis put on the role of human fuel-burning in the greenhouse gas effect. Reducing man-made CO 2 emissions is megalomania, exaggerating man’s signi´Čücance. Politicians can’t change the weather.”
A dirty little propagandist cockweasel.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Israeli Defence Force tortures children

I'm not a fan of the Israeli military, for various reasons. This is one of them. There are several others.

manufacturing consent

So, evidence has surfaced revealing the extent to which the BUsh administration has used ex-military characters, many with conflicting corporate interests in defence contracts, as expert commentators on US television to disseminate propaganda and disinformation regarding their terrorist and torturing activities.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

children aren't stupid

A notable social phenomenon is that of the disgruntled teenager. I was just thinking about this and I wondered if its a result of modern children seeing beyond the hypocrisy of modern educational discipline, whose mandate states that "if you conform, you succeed". Most children develop the perceptiveness to analyse their own, and other children's, parents' degree of conformity to this dogmatic principle and perceive the utter lack of correlation with wellbeing, affluence or happiness.
Therefore- they reason- if it is clearly unrelated to real-life success, why is it enforced with such zeal and conviction?

Seriously, kids are way more perceptive than most people give them credit for. I am reminded of a quote from The Guide:, that one where the guy who runs the universe is explaining how he interprets things he sees . . . the exact one escapes me but its all about saying what you see, not what you think you see. Its a perception thing, yeah? Like seeing a British soldier shooting an Iraqi youth and thinking "wow, he just shot a kid", instead of "wow, he just saved me from a terrorist".


Final comment: Yes, I am drunk.

English racism

Really quite laughable. Link

Friday, April 18, 2008

Putin's latest trophy?

He emphatically denied it. It has to be true.

Tyrannical piece of sleazy shit.

climate change - the good news and the bad

The good.

The bad.

For those of us who follow developments in climate science this is hardly news, though. George covered the gist of it months ago. You'd expect MPs to be abreast of developments in this field. I recently attended a climate Q&A session with Linda Gilroy, MP. She seemed to think that carbon capture was already a working technology (as opposed to a potential tool in the box that has yet to be applied commercially) and that nuclear power was utterly essential to the future generation capcaity of the UK (just as Trident was essential to our national security). Goes to show what the people who run this pseudo-democratic piece of shit country know.

At least she brought this to my attention. Plymouth Marine Laboratories are a partner in the project, which contains noble objectives such as "To assist in the national aim of reducing UK CO2 emissions by 60%, by decoupling economic growth from energy use and pollution". It also contains some fucking stupid ones, such as "To assist in bridging the gap between the present day fossil fuel economy and the future hydrogen economy". Anyone who knows the slightest bit about "the hydrogen economy" knows its a fucking pipe dream for at least a century. Someone ought to point this out to George Bush.

Incidentally, did anyone else know that the word 'news' originates from an acronym of "North, East, West, South"?

shite internet and Ubuntu

I'm spending my Friday evening in front of the TV sharing my mind with you, my totally awesomely random readership and I'm getting frickin frsutrated with Virgin broadband because every page I try and access through Windows Firefox hangs halfway through downloading. I figured this was just Friday night internet access in the 'Muff and then, out of curiosity I switched to Ubuntu and tried it through that and wow! All pages came through straight away, except for my staple reference site, WIkipedia. I don't know if their suffering server issues but I can't get anything from them or other Wiki sites, like Wikiquote (I'm looking for a Churchill quote from this shit).

Anyway, I'm impressed with this access thing but remain ambivalent towards Ubuntu, despite my early hopes for it.

BTW- Lethal Weapon (the first one) is probably one of the best films ever. Its depiction of '80s society and its failings is poignant and touching, despite Rigg's homophobic lines.

Bush administration exploited top General's stupidity to introduce torture policy

He was stupid because he imagined for one second that the US government, exemplary practitioners of terrorism and torture, could come up with something superior to the Geneva Conventions. That's what US exceptionalism does for you, I suppose.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ruth Kelly is an ignorant, deluded, sociopathic fuckwit

So I deem anyone who defends biofuels. Really, you have to be quite staggering naive to think that an "independent" government agency (because such a thing exists, yeah?) can audit the influx of biofuels to monitor the "the impact of their biofuels in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability". The 'sustainability' issue can be shot to pieces by anyone reading Jonathon Porritt's blog. The 'greenhouse gas emissions' by reading George's. Don't even mention her hypocrisy at advocating one imported source of environmentally apocalyptic fuel over another!

But then Ruth has never been a fan of rationality or truth, has she? Let alone science!

This woman has more power than any of you realise. Her malignantly irrational influence and mediaeval morality need to be removed from any position of authority, now!

Peter Ainsworth is no better. He's a dirty Tory pig who wants to push poverty stricken children further into destitution and ignorance, as Johann makes clear:

"The Tories, by contrast, want to move in the opposite direction. They have kicked [Ed] Balls for trying to make these schools take more poor kids, with David Cameron calling it “crazy”. Instead they want to imitate the Swedish model, where parents can set up their own schools and receive funding from the state. But this has actually increased social segregation in Swedish schools, and even their centre-right government is backing down. On top of this, the Tories are committed to ending the educational support that already exists for the poorest kids, by shutting down SureStart centres, and cancelling the Educational Maintenance Allowances which give £30 a week to skint students to stay on at sixth-form college."

a model of corporate sociopathy

No, I'm not talking about PFI. This is new. And its another prime example of how mega-business can exist beyond the law- does anyone imagine for one moment that the fine ultimately levied against these morons will come close to covering the true sum they have extorted from the nation?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Its costly having a carbon conscience" - NO SHIT, SHERLOCK!

The Guardian ran this story. "Fucking weak as fuck!", I thought. Not a mention of any need for government legislation to drive people toward the serious changes in life style that any meaningful assault upon climate changing emissions demands.

A personal example: I have to be on an island in the Netherlands next month for a research cruise. I could get there by flying with FlyBe (£30) direct from the city I work in . . . OR I could get the train to London, Eurostar to Brussels, Thalys train to Amsterdam, a local train to a coast town, a bus to the ferry port, a ferry to the island and a taxi or bus to the ship. Guess which I chose?

Ha! BOOOOOOM, sucker!

I am the ultimate responsible citizen, because I chose the train marathon. Actually its only a full day's travelling, leaving on a 5am train and getting there as the sun sets. But the cost? A cool £250. I really can't crow about this too much because the money comes from my budget but I really do try and get everywhere I can these days via the Eurostar. Its not just that I hate airports and flying generally- besides the trauma to my conscience its a god-awful mess standing in lines to be patronised by blank security robots with hand-held metal detectors- but I just hate the process of taking off and flying over hundreds of miles of obscured countryside. I'd rather have my soul connected to the land I'm traversing through the medium of my eyes.

Anyway, this is not a first. In the past couple of years I have only flown to Lanzarote. I have been on the Eurostar to the continent twice. If I have to go anywhere other than Europe- I will fly and I will make the most of the experience. But if I am heading into the civilisation of the continent, where trains, trams and efficient bus services exist in abundance, why scorn it? Why not experience life as it should be!

novel renewable generation technology

This is subscription only but it looks awesome so I have pasted the full text of the article in here:

"Whirlpools created by currents as they flow over obstacles are powerful enough to tear apart bridges and offshore rigs. So why not use them as a source of renewable power?

Previous attempts to harness energy from the flow of the world's rivers and oceans have had limited success, at best. Tidal flow can only be tapped at certain times of day, while underwater turbines are only viable if they are mounted in rapid currents.

Now researchers led by Michael Bernitsas at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, are preparing for the first outdoor trials of a technology that makes use of the slow-moving currents down rivers and across the ocean.

When water flows over an underwater obstacle, whirlpools or vortices form alternately above and below it. The vortices create a tugging effect, so the result is an alternating force that yanks the object up and down (see Diagram). It is these oscillations that can have devastating consequences for rigs and bridges, but Bernitsas has now created a device that turns them into usable amounts of electricity.

In his lab, he took a cylinder 10 centimetres in diameter and 91 centimetres long with the same average density as water and suspended it horizontally in a bath. Then he generated currents of between 0.5 and 1.0 metres per second - speeds that are common in rivers. The vortices generated by the flow moved the cylinders up and down, and by attaching the cylinders to springs that turn an electric generator he was able to convert the motion into 10 watts of electrical energy. Bernitsas calls the technology Vortex Induced Vibrations Aquatic Clean Energy, or VIVACE, and plans to commercialise it with his company Vortex Hydro Energy.

He has also come up with an idea for squeezing more energy from VIVACE. At the Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering conference in Estoril, Portugal, in June this year, he will show how roughening the surface of the cylinders allows them to capture more energy. The idea was inspired by the fact that fish that use energy from vortices to help propel themselves forward also have rough skin.

VIVACE's big test will come next year, when the team plans to deploy a larger version in the Detroit river. They expect it to generate 3 kilowatts, enough to power lights on a nearby pier, and claim that still larger versions could produce megawatts of power at a cost of around 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. This would make it competitive with coal and gas-fuelled generators.

These projections are contested, however, by commentators who point out that the performance has yet to be tested in the fluctuating current of a real river. They also have doubts about the claimed cost of the power it produces, since it is not yet clear how much the system will cost to maintain. "It is very new and very different to existing devices," says Walter Musial of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. "There are a lot of questions still to be answered."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tony Blair is a cockweasel

He was wrong to meddle in the SFO investigation into BAE's sale of weapons of mass destruction to a tyrannical theocracy. He's also a genocidaire, a corporate whore and a religious fundamentalist nutbag but we all knew that already- this is new.

The Corner House and Campaign Against the Arms Trade are both awesome!

punkscience was off walking . . .

Haven't been around for a few days because I spent Saturday to Monday walking the SW coastal path from Minehead to Woolacombe with some friends. It was awesome! And bloody knackering.

Simon Gunter is a fuckwit

Apparently he's a spokesman for Tiscali, the ISP. He has claimed that the success of the BBC's iPlayer threatens to overload his company's capacity and seems to think that this is the BBC's fault. He is wrong. He's also a complete twat for having the gall to blame his company's shite service and race-to-the-bottom pricing regime on the BBC's awesome service.

TWAT!

Friday, April 04, 2008

when democracy doesn't work - part 2

Johann has written an article which compliments a rant I had recently about the failure of democracy int his country. I ranted about how the political mechanisms in this country are resilient to meaningful reform. Johann has pointed out that the electorate are ignorant of politics due to the lack of sophisticated and objective coverage on TV- the main source of news for the people of the UK. Basically, if political coverage is reduced to a soap opera format then the real issues can be safely buried by those who want them to be and the electorate will go to the polls without any comprehension of the consequences of voting for the person who has come out on top in the popularity contest of modern electoral campaigning. Just look at Boris The Clown's mayoral campaign.

Simon Jenkins rules, "eco-towns" are an ecological catastrophe

What an awesome article! I think its time to write to Alison again.

"Britain has plenty of potential eco-towns. They are called London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle, to name a few. They conform to every one of Flint's declared objectives. They have an infrastructure of utilities, schools, clinics, libraries, welfare services and public transport already built. People have shown themselves ready to live, work and play in them without using cars. They are settled communities able to absorb immigration and high-density living, without tearing the bonds of local leadership.

If Flint wants to see land available for development in these eco-towns, she need only get in a helicopter and fly over them. They have the lowest residential densities in Europe, the most road-space and, incidentally, the greatest problem in generating communal cohesion. They can and do handle more people each year, even if it does mean more flats and fewer gardens."



"Any fool can build in what remains of the countryside and call it eco-something. It will not save life on Earth, but merely drive ever more people into hypermobility.

The way to preserve the green of the countryside and maximise the carbon-efficiency of human habitation is to make today's cities work better. They are full of useable land. They have suffered enough insults from politicians for the past century. Cities are the new green."



"[Caroline] Flint wants between 30% and 40% of houses in her eco-towns to be for the poor. Her boss, Hazel Blears, wants "half the households" not to be allowed cars, presumably also the poor. She does not say who will live in these ghettos. The idea that they can be made both privately financed and "affordable", whatever that means nowadays, for locally employed families is laughable. A 6,000-house eco-town cannot begin to sustain a full range of services, nor would any developer touch an estate where nobody can have a car.

To be poor without a car in a British new town is hell. That is why the last census showed only 14% of residents in Bracknell and 19% in Milton Keynes as car-less, against a national average of 27%. People have to get out of these planners' dream towns. Anyway, it is only big cities that do without cars: 37% of Londoners and 48% of Mancunians. Wild horses would not get Flint or Blears to live in their new towns, yet like city builders down the ages, they inflict them on the poor."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

why is the disgraced boss of Northern Rock being paid £1,000,000 ???

Can anyone else imagine a mode of employment where, if your actions have led to the complete failure of your business, you would be allowed to leave with anything more than the shirt on your back? Apparently, in the world of high- (and now low-) flying management you get given a cosy million for sinking one of the UK's biggest banks with your ineptitude. If anyone can justofy this to me then please try because I am utterly staggered at the arrogance on display here? This is exactly what 20 years of neoliberalism has done to the UK- disgraced corporate figureheads, like disgraced politicians, are immune to the law of the land that demands accountability for your crimes. Remember the Hamilton's? Seen them in the dole queue? How about Jeffrey Archer? Derek Conway? Jonathan Aitken? (An interesting aside- try googling "disgraced tory" and see how many different names pop up. )

I could do the same ofr the corporate world but I'm bored now- I think you get the gist.

Seriously- a million! I won't earn that much in my entire life in research, unless I work myself like a bitch to make it to professor one day- and believe me, that ain't worth it! It seems that, if you want to earn megabucks these days, discarding any ethics and scruples you may have is the first step. Which is a victory in the first place for those who wish to perpetuate the sordid status quo of our little planet.

scary, scary stuff

The US is already deploying Big Brother tactics against environmental groups. Now activists can be targeted for extreme prison sentences, branded 'domestic terrorists', just for their thoughtcrimes.