Archive for November, 2009

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November 30, 2009

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Is “big state” the problem or the solution to society’s ills?

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north-west alliance

November 30, 2009

This link is for an election campaign for Socialist parties, intending to contest the next election. I only got it because of a personal email.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocZXFF6O3OI

The lack of publicity that these groups are getting means that they will be unlikely to get many votes and unseat New Labour in Wigan. Unless the situation changes significantly, I will probably vote UKIP, even though they seem to be right-wing (but left of New Labour). I want New Labour out but I don’t want Tories in. At present Ukip seems to be the only viable, high visibility option.

Roger Taylor – the unblinking eye

November 27, 2009

Looks like taylor (from Queen) has joined me in the grumpy old men’s club.

http://www.youtube.com/user/queenofficial#p/u/0/K8ZtaDOniZ0

OUT NOW! Roger Taylor – The Unblinking Eye (Everything Is Broken)

25/11/9 brighter borough funding

November 25, 2009

Posted on WEP website in response to attack on Councillor Brierley for not agreeing to donate “Brighter Borough” funding to British Legion.

It is wrong to deny appropriate funding to our armed forces.
It is wrong to underfund those organisations and facilities that support British soldier’s, sailors and aircrew, who have been damaged in our name.
It is wrong that requests for aid need to be made.
I buy my poppy with a feeling of anger that my taxes are being used to fund unnecessary foreign adventures, unnecessary political jaunts such as G20 soiree’s (white truffle’s at £50,000/kg served at recent troughing), unnecessary foreign aid, unnecessary renaming of Ministries etc. etc.
This is a national disgrace.
At a local level, we have Lord Smith arranging that Wigan mortgages its future to a £217 million civic centre, whilst allowing a claim to be made against individual Councillors’ brighter Borough funding.
Ther name of the fund gives away its purpose. It’s a token sum, allocated to Councillors to help “brighten” their own ward. It’s the only money, where non-New-Labour Councillors have any say in how it’s spent. Each Councillor has control over about £5,000.
How far can that go?
A pelican crossing costs about £30,000.
If I were a Councillor, I would need to think very hard about the best use of such a small sum. I certainly wouldn’t be committing it to something that should be getting properly funded, at a national level, no matter how worthy it might be.
I’ll be standing for CAP in Abram ward.
That’s Abram, Platt Bridge, Bamfurlong, Bickershaw and Lower Ince. Even the cost of a Xmas tree for each of those neighbourhoods would be almost prohibitive.
Check out the Xmas lights at Platt Bridge; all four of them, outside the Labour club (you’ll need to look hard)

24/11/9 increase voting turnout

November 24, 2009

Whilst agreeing with most of Ross Clark’s column ( in Daily Express) about Chief Police Officers, I worry about our creeping adoption of American political philosophies.
In this case the election of local officials, as parodied in the 1974 film “The Front Page”, shows how easily we could move from “nobody goes to prison” to “execution, for a good headline”.
The amoral Mayor, in the same film, points up the difficulty of even electing someone, in a two-party system, to oversee the police chief.
 As with all aspects of our political system, we need a greater degree of democratic inclusion.
If people were invited to vote on individual issues (instead of who to surrender power to), the alleged apathy of the British electorate would evaporate overnight.
Offer the right to vote on littering convictions versus prevention of muggings. Offer a choice between more prisons or more counselling of victims. Make these offers and see how voter turnout will begin to rise.

Inter-stellar travel

November 22, 2009

Warp-drives, stasis pods and spaceship sized wormholes exist only in Science-fiction.

Unless these these things come into the realms of reality then Inter-stellar travel is highly improbable.

Our next nearest Star is 4.3 light years away. It would take 8.6 years, travelling at the speed of light, to travel there and back.

It would need infinite energy to travel at the speed of light.

 Even if we could manage half the speed of light (we’d still need a prohibitive amount of energy and of projectile mass to do this) , it’d take a minimum of 4 x 8.6 = 34.4 years to do this (accelerate to halfway, then decelerate for approach).

 In fact the maths is more complex but  think of that time as being practicable, which it isn’t.

A 20 year-old would be 54 year old by the time he got back.

Because of time dilation, he’d be older than his great, great, etc.  grand-children. Why would anyone want to do that?

Other points to consider are that an atom of gas  meeting a spaceship, travelling at such speeds, would have sufficient Kinetic Energy to blast a bloody big hole in said spaceship. Even at one molecule per cubic mile, the risk is not insignificant and we’ve still to consider micro-meteorites.

Suppose we had a forcefield, we’d still have to worry about the leakage of atmosphere, through micro-cracks in the hull.

34 years is a long time and we’d  have to consider the evaporation of the metal hull, on longer journeys (the black ring in  filament bulbs is caused by evaporationb of the Tungsten filament).

Aliens visiting Earth would need a knowledge of Physics etc. beyond ours and we still have to wander why they would bother. Would you travel in cramped conditions, risking death in Space, re-cycling your own urine etc. for periods longer than most people’s adult life span, just to stick probes inside some alien freak?

The only plausible aliens would be some form of Space Gypsies, who’d rape our planet, like locusts, and, then, move on.

 

terra-forming real or S-F

November 22, 2009

Mars
I hope Mars does not have native life forms, or someone will surely set up a campaign to preserve it against human intrusion.
There are four problems with Mars as a new Earth:
a) It’s small size means that it has a low escape velocity, which allows too much of its atmosphere to evaporate into Space.
b) It’s core is cold, suggesting it has little naturally occuring fissionable fuels.
c) It doesn’t have much water
d) It is far from the Sun and therefore cold.

We can rectify (a) and (c) by travelling farther out to the asteroid belt and see about shoving some of these into Mars’s Gravity well.
Many of the asteroids are made of ice, which would add to the mass of the planet, as well warm it up by impact.
Rather than using rockets to move the asteroids, it may be possible to use solar sails to catch the solar wind. Creating such sails might be possible using the low pressure in Space, with materials, such as polyurethane foam, which would expand freely.
All of the above is qualitative in nature and a quantitative analysis might deem it impractible, at present. However, If the Earth were to undergo some cataclysm, the proverb about eggs and baskets would make that Math redundant.
Venus
Venus has a reverse of the Martian problem.
 Its mass, dense atmosphere and Solar proximity make it unsuitable for most Teresstrial life. The use of the word “most” is the key to possible, although tenuous, hope that we could Terra form Venus.
Earth has microbes and animals, which feed off them, in its mid-ocean fumaroles and in Iceland’s hot springs. The microbes survive in very hot water, heavy in sulphides. Venus has an atmosphere, which is largely clouds of Hot Sulphuric Acid.
I am far from qualified to judge on whether, or not, it would be possible to bio-engineer, or adapt such organisms to live in the atmosphere of Venus, possibly with the addition of Green algae to work on the Carbon Dioxide.
If it were possible, then we could convert the atmosphere of Venus into an Earth-like atmosphere and cause a reverse of the Greenhouse effect, leading to a cooling of the planet.

22/11/9 foreign owned Monopolies

November 22, 2009
The water companies have declared profits of £700,000, yet have argued for further increases in water rates to be levied. The increase is to cover the cost of replacing decaying Victorian water supply pipes and sewage outlets that they have been supposedly replacing since 1989.
From an original penny in the pound of the rates, the charges for water and sewage have increased above the rate of inflation, ever since the time, when water was first privatised, in order to deal with this particular issue.
Two decades later, they are costing the average taxpayer considerably more than a penny in the pound of Community Charge but are, now, claiming that they still haven’t fulfilled their obligations.
It’s time to put a cap on the profiteering by monopolies, under foreign ownership.
The profits that these foreign investors should be able to make on any of the privatised utilities shouldn’t be significantly better than that obtained by British citizens investing in an ISA.
The only reason why any British politician could possibly be able to tolerate this inequity, is if they have shares in these foreign companies.
I doubt if it will happen but it would be interesting, in respect of the above, to be made aware of our politicians’ shareholdings.
What objections could our “Honourable” and “Very Honourable” members have to such disclosures?
 
Published version:      Watchdog right to bring an end to water profiteering                                                        WATER companies have declared profits of £700milliion, yet argue for increases in charges (“Ofwat likely to insist on dip in water bills”, November 23).                                                                                                                                            The rises, so it is claimed, are to cover the cost of replacing Victorian water pipes and sewage outlets that the self-same companies have been replacing since 1989; supposedly.                                                                                                     From an original penny in the pound on the rates, water and sewage charges have risen above the rate of inflation since water was first privatised.                                                                                                                                              Two decades later, the average taxpayer is being charged  considerably more than a penny in the pound of council tax but the companies say they still haven’t fulfilled their obligations.                                                                                                  It’s time to put a cap on profiteering by monopolies; especially those in foreign hands.
John Shale, Wigan Lancs .

22/11/9 Dave’s 6% slip

November 22, 2009
It has been stated, the Lisbon Treaty allows our new President  and his minions to impose new laws on us.
Laws, which will take precedent over any national laws. So what value have the exceptions negotiated by Germany, Czechoslovakia, Eire etc.?
More importantly, how much value can we place on David Cameron’s promise to bring in legislation to prevent further erosion of our own elected representatives?
If he, as he claims, he is powerless to overthrow our subservience to the Lisbon Treaty, how can he make good his promise to limit its empowerment of our more dominant European partners?
If David Cameron wants to know why he has slipped 6% in the polls, I suggest he considers what message he has sent out by this statement of surrender. I suggest he consider how much further his poll ratings are likely to slip; especially as UKIP’s Nick Farage has entered the lists. Farage won’t just be opposing Bercow ( a constant reminder of the sleaze of MP’s of both established parties), he will be opposing both party leaders.
Farage may turn out to be a paper tiger but while he roars, he will take votes off both major parties.

20/11/9 a load of balls

November 22, 2009
Allowing parents to sue schools that they believe have failed their children is an example of the impoverished thought processes of the present Government.
Firstly, the sought-for recompense does not help the specific child or the rest of his/her peer group.
Secondly, it would actually harm a school that has tried to address the problem by replacing failing teachers or an inadequate leadership.
A new Head, trying to turn the school around, would be faced with a legal battle and, if the suit went against the school, a shortfall in the school’s budget that would hurt the current school population.
The threat to close “failing” schools is equally unrealistic.
These are not fee-paying schools, where the Government can wash its hands of the displaced pupils. These are State schools and The Government has to cater for the educational needs of the pupils.
A typical Secondary School would have between 900 and 1300 pupils, with L.E.A.’s trying to maximise profitability by keeping school’s as near to maximum capacity, as possible.
If such a school were to be closed, the pupils would have to be shared out amongst neighbouring schools. This would mean possibly six or more nearby schools having logistical nightmares in terms of accommodation, the effect on discipline and the ability to achieve Government targets.
Exam results would be adversely affected, in all the local schools, until and unless a “new” school was created.
So far, most school closures seem to have occurred, where the site has been a prime location for housing developments.
There is a limit to how far one can go down this road in terms of financing new school buildings, on less desirable sites.
The old school buildings would likely to have to be retained, as would most of the staff.
A new Head and a large quota of trainee teachers would need four or five years to establish itself.
It would be face extra difficulties, because the parents of more normative pupils would opt for schools, which weren’t experiencing such “exciting” changes.
In short, such a measure would actually harm the education of more pupils, than if no action, at all, were taken.
In fact, the normal evolution of the teaching staff might well achieve an improvement in standards, without the external meddling and target-setting of politicians.