Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pro-Fusion

Hoo-ray! At Last it looks like we might be taking realistic steps to deal with the energy crisis and go some way to combat global warming in a practical way.
It’s probably not fair to suggest that this is the start of something entirely new because scientists and other authorities have no doubt been beavering away for years to make today’s announcement of an international cooperative project to develop a programme to produce energy by nuclear fusion a practical reality. But thus far this public have not been involved very much until this moment .
Now we know what’s happening we can all step forward to encourage the project by letting our MPs and other folk who speak for us know we’re behind it and want to see it succeed. I intend to write to my MP today. So at least he’ll be aware of this. Could I ask you to do the same – even if you disagree with me, at least it will raise the level of debate.



Glowing plasma inside a fusion test reactor (Image: Princeton Particle Physics Laboratory)
Of course there will be resistance. On BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning, they wheeled out Friends of the Earth’s Roger Hinkman to whinge about it but luckily he was unable to raise any convincing objections and the pro-fusion spokesperson was conciliatory and sensible enough to affirm that we also need to make more progress in the development and encouragement of renewables – wave, wind, solar, geo-thermal etc – alongside fusion.[And let’s not forget the still tangled mystery of such phenomena as cold fusion.] But it is clear that there will be huge campaigns by well-meaning Luddites who really object on philosophical grounds rather than for any genuine ecological or economic reasons. They may have valid viewpoints but they cannot be allowed to stymie every positive step forward by raising petty objections thus adding years to each painful stage in progress. Let’s have an upfront debate at the outset, come to some mutually acceptable way forward and seize it with enthusiasm. [Am I sounding a bit like Trotsky or Mao?]
Maybe it’s now time to boost the advancement of renewables and fusion by discouraging the use of oil and coal etc with progressive taxes that will phase them out gradually. We will need to develop a strategy for helping the developing regions of the globe to do the same. It’s seems that most of our major UK political parties are climbing on board this bandwagon. Again they need encouragement.
Of course, the underlying problem of population control needs to be introduced into this arena, but there are lots of religious and other groups who do not wish to face up to this one, but until they do the problems will continue to escalate. As the population grows, the more resources we need, the more land we occupy, the more other species are threatened, the more the natural order will become unbalanced, the hungrier we will all get etc etc etc.
But let’s leave that one for another day…


USEFUL LINKS
http://www.jet.efda.org/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6165932.stm
http://www.nuclearfusion.com/
http://www.nuclearfusion.com/

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

DAB Digital Radio - Part of 1984 Cospiracy?

The more I learn about digital radio, the less I think it's a good idea.
In fact, I am beginning to question the motives for it being foisted upon us.
The first thing you notice about it is it's total inability to tell you the time accurately.
What is the point of having the Greenwich Time Signal or the Westminster Bongs broadcast when the only certain thing we know about these is that if you hear them on digital radio it's not the correct time. And there seems to be no information available as to the time lag on the particular device you are listening on.
It's possible to hear the same moment on radio at least three times if you have analogue radio, digital radio and cable TV on in the house all at the same time . I guess that if you also have computer streaming and satellite TV you could get a couple more versions of what time is now!
The second difficulty is environmental. It goes against the grain to introduce a system which will cause several, if not tens of times the amount of energy to be consumed in listening to the radio than we previously needed. I thought we were making progress with the introduction of clockwork and solar radio, but even in this area the digital version is a dozen times more inefficient.
Furthermore there are issues concerning the disposal of analogue sets as they become useless as the Big Switch-Off approaches. Tons of valuable metals and crystals will be thrown into landfills or incinerators unless a monumental reclamation programme is set in train.
But my main beef is the limitations on access to radio stations imposed by the digital medium. The reception of stations is even more dependent on local relaying of stations than even FM was. The limited approach by even the BBC to music broadcasting in the UK means I often choose to listen to FiP - the Paris based French music station which broadcasts continuous programmes of very eclectic choices of styles and eras all day, every day, with hardly any intrusive talk {a couple of news updates twice and hour is about all you get - usually not even announcements about the record you just heard}. It's brilliant. Does digital radio mean an end to casual listening to foreign station and unavailability of FiP in Britain unless you can sit with your computer all day. I fear so.
Now we come to motive. And here I enter the realms of parnoid imagination. It could be thought that the government chooses to cut us off from the world of radio by imposing a medium which only brings us the stations which the local control machinery passes fit for our consumption. Hopefully there will be opprortunity for local pirate radio to develop but this will not guarantee quality. Rather it will let in the loonies with this or that axe to grind. Political, religious groups etc and a variety of fans and geeks with little or no discrimination beyond their own particular bee-in-the-bonnet or chosen interest. I'm not really knocking such people but I'd rather have access to quality professional product from around the world. It may be that the Web contiues to give us this but with the Big Brother Creep we seem to be experiencing at present I wouldn't discount the development of serious censorship of the Internet by the Government, Big Biz and so on happening quite soon and this will be a disaster.
If you have views - corcordant or contrary - I'd be keen to hear your angle on this one, but please cite any eveidence you can especially if speaking in favour of digital radio. I remain open minded and willing to be convinced but it will take some doing!

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

OK Clive.....

I really appreciate Clive's questions, though I may have misunderstood or be unclear about what they mean, but nevertheless will attempt to suggest some answers - mainly off the top of my head so would be really keen to hear responses and countersuggestions

It's the questions that matter - the answers are not really so important.

So here goes....


to what degree would your suggested system improve the problem of "short-terminism" in politics?
I don't think short- termism [is this what you mean] is always a bad thing. Short term solutions to temporary problems is partly what my policy on law would be about. And when the law/policy has served its useful purpose - then ditch it.

how would it discourage "chameleon politicians"?
I'm not really sure what you mean. I rather admire people who are capable of changing their mind on issues regularly as long as they're not doing it just to win favour [of voters, clients etc]. This is probably because I believe life, the universe and everything to be ultimately meaningless so I fear principled people more than those who are not sure. People who think they know what's what are fucking dangerous and almost inevitably wrong!

how might it encourage people of good calibre and character?
By them not having to toe a party line in favour of pragmatic or common sense approach.


how would it deal with the Civil Service and its tendency to be self-serving and profligate with other peoples' money?
Good question



to what degree would it free us from the unbalanced influences of "experts"/"specialists"/"consultants"?
To whatever degree we decide to get involved for ourselves


how would it curb the effects of ideologues who are driven by blind faith, irrational speculation, wild imagination, etc?
By making them insignificant to the extent that they become unimportant and of little influence. For crazy ideas that really catch on, I have no defence but that's not really any different from the present situation - hopefully they would quickly burn out - but in the end it's upto every person to defend their own corner [whatever that might mean]


how might it help us escape the tendency towards rigid following of rigid procedures (that Punch-like attitude ... "that's the way we do it")
By encouraging creative and questioning thinking and giving permission to be politically incorrect - making it a virtue in fact

how would it encourage people to vote if they feel that laws, rules, regulation from elsewhere render their own laws redundant?
Don't allow such things to happen unless we choose to. Entities such as the EU or UN are only effective/dangerous by consent active or tacit. A 'Third Reich' -type entity would have to be stood up to by all or individuals, war would have to ensue [this is why I have decided I cannot be a pacifist] or they would have to be capitulated to - it's a mater of "choice"

Over to you Clive.....


For some light relief click here

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Is your Local Council looking after your/our Heritage?

I heard on Frontline [BBC Radio 4] this evening that Blackburn Council is selling a Lowry painting in an attempt to balance their books.
No doubt some of the local citizenry will think this is a good idea, but I wonder if the town's been consulted about this.
For short term gain the community will lose a long-term important cultural icon.

What would be the position if this became common practice throughout the land?

How much would the public/nation be prepared to lose - much would likely disappear into private ownership and abroad. You can only mount a finite number of campaigns to keep artworks etc in public ownership or in the country. The more items which get threatened in this way the harder it will be to save important items.

There have been a number of items on You & Yours [also BBC Radio4] in recent weeks - usually on Fridays - about the problems surrounding public art and the abuse (by galleries and councils) of the terms of acquisition/bequest has been a problem particularly highlighted.

One example I recall - Birmingham (I think) City Art Gallery and Museum secretly sold some examples of a fine Victorian landscape artist when such art was not particualrly fashionable in the Fifties at pittances (eg tens of pounds per piece). This was only discovered when descendents of the bequester went to visit the gallery and enquired about the collection having found the art not on show. These paintings are now worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and are in private hands and mainly untraceable.

Here in Brighton, do local residents actually know what we own as a town? [Same question to residents of other towns.] I know about Dali furntiure and other Surrealist artifacts but what treasures are salted away due to lack of exhibition space? How convenient if when they are forgotten the council decides to flog some of these treasures to pay for one of their hairbrained schemes or even something quite sensible.

Perhaps we should demand an inventory to be published in the local press so that we can see what we own and decide what we need to see more often etc Let the populus decide rather than the Councillors, their staff and academics in the institutions. We also need to know what responsibilty we hold to specific artifacts especially those which have been bequested.

I'm beginning to ramble but I guess I've made my point.

Let's all make a resolution to find out what's in our community and make sure it's not lost, stolen or ruined.

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1984

What can we do to resist the daily advance of Big Brother [the Orwellian one, not as per TV]?

CCTV - everyone wear a hoody and baseball cap and if challenged take off everything

I-D cards - trade them with Pokaman and Top Trumps

Biometrics - poke your eyes out

Questions about things that are none of their business - always tell lies and make sure they're different ones on each occasion


Overload the system with bogus information to the point of breakdown

Please put your practical or ludicrous ideas in the comment section

If nothing else, it'll give you chance to vent your spleen

Here's a Good Idea


Great Concept
goto LINK to find out all about it

BUY NOTHING DAY
It's a great idea to challenge the conventional captalist behaviour most of us blindly follow on a daily basis
Perhaps I'll give it a go - will you too?
Pass it on....

Cameron PP Broadcast on Queen's Speech - The Verdict

Crap!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hooray!!!!!

At last, some feedback

from my old buddy, Clive


"".....OK so you made me look at your blog ... and I wondered about some of the existing problems that I have noticed here and there:

to what degree would your suggested system improve the problem of "short-terminism" in politics?
how would it discourage "chameleon politicians"?
how might it encourage people of good calibre and character?
how would it deal with the Civil Service and its tendency to be self-serving and profligate with other peoples' money?
to what degree would it free us from the unbalanced influences of "experts"/"specialists"/"consultants"?
how would it curb the effects of ideologues who are driven by blind faith, irrational speculation, wild imagination, etc?
how might it help us escape the tendency towards rigid following of rigid procedures (that Punch-like attitude ... "that's the way we do it")
how would it encourage people to vote if they feel that laws, rules, regulation from elsewhere render their own laws redundant?"

Before I respond to any of these points, anyone else want to pick up on them?

Thanks Clive