Archive for March, 2012

A strike over safety, so Mr. Numpty says “relax safety regulations”

March 30, 2012

The reported version for the strike threat by tanker drivers is:

“The Unite union wants minimum standards for tanker drivers, covering pay, hours, redundancy and holiday entitlement”.

The significant part of that statement, buried amongst usual bargaining points is, according to Unite is the “hours”.

The problem, as I understand it, is the management, in striving to reduce costs, is imposing schedules, backed by “fines” (ordinary workers get fines, as incentives, only management get bonuses).

Unite says that is concerned about the safety aspect of forcing drivers to speed to maintain schedules.

I’m a little concerned myself. I don’t wish to be sharing a Motorway  with a tired, stressed-out driver hauling a tanker full of flammable fuel capable of not only incinerating a large number of co-travellers but, as we saw not so long ago, cooking a motorway bridge, thus forcing a prolonged closure.

I’m not so concerned about the stated average salary of £45,000.

It’s a lot of money, but I doubt many MP’s would take a pay-cut to do the job.

I am concerned about the Government’s response and its obvious sympathies.

Apart from the knee-jerk response of “get the Army in”, they have suspended safety regulations:

For a temporary period, the Government has relaxed the enforcement of drivers’ hours and working time rules, for tanker drivers delivering fuel in the UK. This means they can drive for 11 hours a day instead of 9, and can start work after 9 hours’ rest instead of 11. The maximum working week time limit has been raised from 60 hours to 66 hours. This applies from 30 March to 5 April.

Now I’ve seen lorries and tankers edging across lane lines, in front of me and cursed the fact they have lost concentration and are, thus, endangering me (I don’t like motorway driving, most of the time, anyway).

I’ve seen every red brake light go on, in front of me, with traffic slowing to a crawl, because a lorry pulled out sharply, and I’ve joined in the numerous “cusses” at these thoughtless xxxx’s, as well as at those car owners who have worsened the problem by  tailgate-ing.

But to have The Government respond to what is, allegedly, a dispute about safety by increasing these dangers is criminal. Only bosses’ men, with a cosseted life experience could, so casually, accept tankers, full of potentially explosive material, being driven by overworked and over-tired humans, on roads, full of commuters etc.

 

 

 

 

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@the_tpa What use is a personal tax spend statement?

March 30, 2012

What use is a personal tax spend statement? (and how much would it cost?)

Every Year, I get a statement of how my rates have been spent.

On the one occasion that I waded through this doorstop of a justification for demanding money with menaces, I found myself none the wiser.

Ok! Fire Service cost me £x, Education £y.

Government fiddle factor for support for xxxxx policy was £z

On and on and on it went.

I still had no say in how the money was spent.

I still only had a choice of either voting for my next Labour selected Councillor and my next Labour selected M.P. (this is Wigan), or voting for the opposing “forlorn hopes”.

I still had no idea what money was being parcelled in return for brown envelopes.

I still had no idea (from this source), who was claiming expenses, to which they weren’t entitled.

The whole exercise is akin to being sent an unstamped Xmas card, by the man who smashed your car headlights.

It’s just rubbing it in and making you pay for the privilege.

@TheDailyExpress Maude the Troll causing mischief for commuters.

March 29, 2012

Was Maude clever or stupid?

Anyone with any political nous could predict the reaction to his statement about a jerry can of petrol.

So. is he astute, or was he just lucky?

Politically, the blame wil be laid at the doorstep of the truckers, even if they don’t go on strike, because the Media will take the Government line. That it was their threat that caused the panic buying, rather than Maude and Cameron’s trolling.

Meantime the commuters, the one’s who have greatest cause to panic, will fill their tanks in the hot weather, losing most by evaporation and actually getting short measure, because of the cubical thermal expansion of liquids.

On top of which they will be using petrol to carry the extra weight of having a full tank.

The Chancellor is not losing any tax but is getting a massive boost that will help his borrowing costs.

Another future problem, for those carrying a spare jerrycan in their boots, is that petrol contains volatile additives, which will disappear over time (replacement for leaded petrol, which could be stored). This means that, although it will still be a fire hazard, it will not work in your car. In fact if you use it to fill an empty tank, it’ll stop your car working and have to be cleaned through the pipes with fresh petrol. (repair garage owners and rescue services will love you, though).

I’m hoping that after the panic buy, forecourts will get fresh supplies and a £10 ration will probably work for my needs.

March 29, 2012

Another piece via Fullermoney details how a realistic Green philosophy can be implemented.

Or put another way : a mother doesn’t expect her child to be born running. She just makes it easier for the child to develop that ability.

Fracking Boom Makes U.S. Laggard No More on Greenhouse-Gas Cuts – This is a topical and informative article by Mark Drajem for Bloomberg. It is posted in the Subscriber’s Area but here is the opening:   March 27 (Bloomberg) — The boom in American natural-gas production is doing what international negotiations and legislation couldn’t: reducing U.S. carbon-dioxide pollution.

 With decade-low prices, natural gas is easing out coal in power generation, a change that cuts greenhouse gases by half at the smokestack. That shift, combined with state programs to encourage renewable energy and new rules from the Environmental Protection Agency that could come as early as today, has put the country on course to cut domestic greenhouse-gas emissions 12 percent by 2020, on par with what the failed cap-and-trade legislation aimed to achieve, said Dallas Burtraw, a fellow at Resources for the Future in Washington.

 “Given the politics of climate policy, it’s easy to get discouraged,” Kevin Kennedy, the head of the U.S. climate initiative at the World Resources Institute in Washington, said in an interview. “But a lot of good progress has been made.”

 Carbon emissions from energy in the U.S., the largest source after China, probably will stay below the record level of 6 billion metric tons set in 2007 for the next 23 years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted Jan. 23, the first time it forecast a long-term reduction.

 The story in the U.S. is in contrast to China, India, Mexico and Russia, where demand for carbon-dependent cars and electricity is surging, leaving the planet on a course for unsustainable warming, according to a report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Global Change Program.

 ‘Urgently Needed Change’

 “There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is under way,” the International Energy Association said in its World Energy Outlook in November.

 Unlike the past, however, the U.S. isn’t lagging behind while progress is made in Europe, Japan or even China.

 The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that failed to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and it tussled with China as negotiations on a climate accord foundered at recent summits. The Senate never took up a 2009 cap-and-trade measure that passed the House of Representatives, and there is no similar legislative effort in the works.

 Progress came from an unexpected source: a fossil fuel.

 With the increased use of natural gas in the U.S. the Energy Information Administration predicts that in 2035, carbon- dioxide emissions will total 5.8 billion metric tons, a cut of 8 percent from a forecast just last year. That’s also down 40 percent from the prediction made in 2005, before the recession, according to Dan Lashof, director of the climate center at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council.

@TheGreenParty: Fullermoney piece on True Greens.

March 29, 2012

This story from Fullermoney just appealed to me and I thought I’d share it.

China Beats U.S. With Power From Coal Processing Trapping Carbon – This is an informative article (also in PDF) from Bloomberg News. Here is the opening:

 After studying chemistry at Shanghai’s Fudan University, Jane Chuan and Wang Youqi pursued doctorates in the U.S. She got hers from what’s now the University of Buffalo in 1988, the year they married. Wang graduated in 1994 from the California Institute of Technology.

A few years later, they were cashing in stock options in Silicon Valley companies they’d co-founded, one of which created a luminescent chemical to store X-ray images. Their home in Atherton, California, had seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and an acre of land, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its May issue.

By 2000, Wang was convinced that the research methods he was patenting could help stave off the environmental nightmare he saw unfolding during return visits to his homeland. China, already reeling from pollution, was poised to more than double coal consumption during the decade. That would choke cities with smog and exacerbate global warming.

Chuan, 61, bespectacled and smiling in her white lab coat, remembers pounding the pavement to pitch U.S. investors on cleaning China’s coal. Only a handful of California’s Internet- obsessed venture capitalists bit, she says.

Leveraging Brainpower

So, in 2003, the couple moved back to Shanghai, the city from which they had emigrated 18 years earlier. They crammed into a 1,100-square-foot (100-square-meter) apartment that was hot in the summer, cold in the winter and crowded with two teenage children home from boarding school on weekends.

By 2006, Wang had his breakthrough in sight. He’d found a way to unlock a chemical stored in the coal that was poisoning his country and to put it to an unlikely use: cleaning China’s air.

The catalyst he discovered speeds reactions that convert methanol extracted from coal into a substance called dimethyl carbonate. By adding dimethyl carbonate to diesel fuel, Wang now plans to cut 90 percent of black carbon soot from the tailpipe emissions of 1,800 Shanghai buses by year-end.

“We said, ‘Let’s go to China, where we can leverage brainpower that’s cheaper and do something important for mankind,” says Wang, 55, a wiry, self-described workaholic who, on this January day, is taking a break from his laboratory to greet visitors in a conference room at Yashentech Corp., the couple’s Shanghai-based company.

Hooked on Coal

Yashentech’s (0214009D) emissions-busting effort is one way in which China is racing to solve its clean-energy riddle: How can a country that’s hooked on coal mitigate environmental damage from the dirtiest of fossil fuels?

#occupy @TonyParsonsuk Political parties want me to pay for them to spam me

March 26, 2012

Political parties do not NEED to be funded by Taxpayers or by corrupting vested interest.

Scouts, Sports Groups, independent political parties and every other group of like minded people are all funded by member subscription.

Some may organise fund raising events and raffles.

Some may apply for grants ( in public competition, giving an argued case).

Only The major political parties have the bare-faced effrontery to demand that they be given money as if they deserved it, or were entitled to it.

They seem incapable of seeing how morally corrupt their attitude is.

Any large donation, from Private Corporations, or Unions, or private individuals is an attempt to gain an advantage over the rest of the electorate, by circumventing due process.

Donations in the form of free advertising, promoting the preferred party and drowning out the competition is anti-democratic.

Although such matters are well-established practice, they are still morally corrupt, in their intent.

Expecting the Taxpayer to fund the advertising of political parties is arrogance.

Politicians are effectively claiming that we should pay for the privilege of being spammed by them.

As for practicalities, any means of dipping into the public purse would involve some form of criterion being applied, which would unfairly favour the status quo.

Consider the election deposit, forfeited by those who fail to achieve a particular quota of the vote; not truly democratic but not too restrictive.

Would independent candidates be entitled to dip into the public purse to the same extent as the other candidates, or, would they be excluded?

Would failing candidates be expected to payback lost Funding?

I don’t want corrupt Government, to perpetuate the two party system or pay to be spammed.

@SallyBercow political funding should be constituency based

March 25, 2012

I liked David M’s. support for a cap.

One way that his could be achieved would be if people could only donate, on an annual basis, for candidates in the constituency in which they were registered to vote.

This would be achieved, because political candidates have to submit a return on electoral expenses, which is, itself, capped.

The returns, for electorl expenditure, are available for public scrutiny and candidates can be convicted of electoral fraud, if a defeated opponent, or newspaper, can find proof of it. (Not police as they are being privatised, in a particular way)

MP’s contributing to party funds is already taken care of in terms of shared expenses. These have to be legitimate (fair market price) costings, or the whole party becomes liable to criminal prosecution.

It could also be used to counter the problem of Union Barons.

Unions could still raise a political levy but such funds would have to be earmarked for the appropriate candidate, with excess funding being returned, or with permission, being used for Union advertising of their wishes:

Unions could put up posters such as “We support Labour to re-nationalise the NHS”

Goldman-Sachs could put up posters saying “We support The Conservative and Unionist Party to reduce taxes on bankers”

No need for State funding,

No need for lavish, party political broadcasts, pushing the two party system.

No need for lobbyists running the country.

Best it would put party hacks and “parachuted in” candidates on a level with local independents.

 

 

 

As for Union Baron problem

@thegreenparty #Misnomer1 Network Rail should be Network COACH

March 24, 2012

If I want to go somewhere by car, I get in switch on and drive.

If its’s a long journey, I can set up my satnav and pretty accurately plan my time of arrival.

Even if there’s been an accident, or unannounced roadworks, or unnecessary contra-flow, I can usually find an alternative route and recalculate my arrival time.

Not so, if I plan to use public transport, particularly a train service.

They have timetables but these are not particularly reliable and if there is some form of route problem, you can’t take a detour.

Who hasn’t been on a train clickety-clacking (almost singing it as “now we’re moving”, “now we’re moving”,”now we’re moving” ) past grazing cows, only to hear that hissing sound as brakes are applied, followed by a disquieting hush.

You sit there staring at a bramble covered embankment, perhaps a lobelia strewn piece of waste land in front of it.

10 mins. later a bored voice comes over the intercom to tell you that there will be a short (LOL) delay … problems on the line. Later that night you limp into the station, too late to enjoy your planned venue and far too early for the train back.

You can give up any hope of letting other’s know when you’ll arrive.

Of course it could be worse. There have bbeen stories of passengers having to disembark and lug their belongings over rough land to a road, in inclement conditions, to catch a COACH.

The gripe that I especially have, Today, is that wallgate Wigan train service seems to specialise in COACH trips.

Oh! I know that this is just a perception but it is one caused by far too many messed up journeys.

It seems to happen on weekends, which is blessing for those who commute to work, as there are stories of people being sacked for persistent late arrival, not just for absenteeism.

It seems bosses (particularly nowadays with Tories in charge and high unemployment) expect you to know when Network Rail has become Network COACH.

The fact that even Network Rail’s online ticket sales service seems blissfully unaware of their schedule being a fantasy is no excuse for bonus driven bosses.

British Rail was inefficient and expensive.

Network Rail is inefficient, super-expensive and downright aggravating.

It’s not that I mind travelling by COACH, it’s just that they don’t always have working lavatories, they are even more crowded than a train, they have poor temperature control, they often get stuck in traffic jams, they rarely arrive on time and they take 5 hours for a 3 hour (alleged) train journey.

They are cheaper; but when you’ve paid Network Rail prices that becomes just another insult.

In a car, the journey may be longer but the cost is split at least two ways and there’s no problem accomodating your luggage. You can stop when, where and as often as you wish.

The service is door to door.

There’s no problem with waiting at a bus-stop in a hot sun or standing in freezing slush.

If you’re rich, the hassle of wondering whether, or not, the taxi will be on time is one less headache.

In a car, the journey can be part of the trip, taking detours to call-in at some place of interest, or stopping at a family pub for a meal at the same price as a railway sandwich.

Best is you can always cancel your trip, without loss of up-front ticket payments, knowing that the petrol in your tank can always be used to take a different trip at a different time to suit you.

Lastly for those Greens going on about Greenhouse gases.

Try thinking through why, despite the high levels of taxation on motorists, it costs so much more to use public transport. Think it through in terms of what that money pays for and its ultimate carbon cost.

If it’s cheaper, it’s greener.

@thegreenparty Petrol consumption down…..Fullermoney

March 22, 2012

Maybe the greenparty should embrace high unemployment as a key factor in cutting the use of Petrol (One of their pet dogma), judging by this piece from Fullermoney.

Musings from the Oil Patch – Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Allen Brooks’ iconoclastic report for PPHB. The full report is posted in the Subscriber’s Area but here is a section on gasoline:

The rise in gasoline prices and the discovery of this disproportionate impact of sales tax calculations on pump prices has come at a time when gasoline consumption is falling. In fact, the magnitude of the drop in gasoline demand is surprising. Moreover, the reasons for the drop are not totally clear. Do they reflect merely the economic impact of higher prices on consumers, which is limiting their ability to spend on non-essential driving? Or does the fall in gasoline consumption reflect other forces at work in both the economy and our lifestyles?

Because weekly gasoline demand is quite volatile due to factors such as weather and the timing of holidays, we have calculated the four-week average for gasoline demand. The chart in Exhibit 7 shows this demand from the beginning of 1995 to the end of February. We have also plotted in green a parabolic trendline showing the rising demand in the late 1990s and early 2000s and the falling demand in recent years. As can be seen, demand was growing faster than the trendline during the mid-2000s, up to the financial crisis in 2008. The entire 1995-2008 period represented boom times for the U.S. economy and consumer spending. That boom ended with the economic crisis of 2008 and the resulting 2009 recession causing gasoline demand to decline. Gasoline demand recovered in 2010 and early 2011 as signs emerged that the economy was starting to recover. Then gasoline demand seemed to collapse in what appears to be a free-fall that is difficult to tie to the performance of the economy.

There are many factors at work in the automobile market � more fuel-efficient vehicles replacing older less efficient ones; a shifting population mix with different driving records; and altered social patterns eliminating the need to drive � that have cut vehicle miles driven. There is also the distinct possibility that the decline in driving is a more accurate barometer of the health of the economy as it may reflect true employment trends. We have been collecting data to prepare an analysis of these various factors in an attempt to better understand the forces driving gasoline demand in this country. Based on our preliminary results, we believe many of the factors have combined to translate into a permanently lower demand for gasoline in the future.

My view (Fullermoney)� If we look at depressed natural gas prices and the secular uptrend in global supply, high oil and distillate prices, the slow US economic recovery, the squeezing of the middle classes, the government’s need for more revenue, more efficient vehicles and changing social patterns it appears safe to conclude that the energy complex is going through an evolution. Declining gasoline consumption is a symptom of this change. However, the supply side of the equation is keeping pace. Refiners will do what is required to ensure their margins.

 

@number10gov Judas goat newspaper columnists and road charging lies.

March 20, 2012

Newspaper columnists are Judas goats.

I find a lot of items by columnists chime a chord with me and I feel gratified that a particular gripe has been aired in public by someone of a similar mind.

I frequently find however that they seem to have placed items. I.e. items that seem to have come straight from The Ministry of propaganda.

Sometimes the particular piece doesn’t even have the same writing style as the columnist but seems to have been pasted in by the editor.

They frequently reflect some pronouncement by the Prime Minister, or some other senior political figure, who we know to have the P’M.’s full backing.

These pronouncement may even jibe with previously expressed views of the columnist.

The Daily Express has recently introduced a column by a right-wing Guido Fawkes, using the same cartoon sketch as a known anarchist Tweeter.

The latest one to catch my eye is in a relatively, recently introduced column by someone purporting to be a grumpy old man. He presumably sifts the Daily Express’s postbag to get the flavour of issues being expressed by the grumpy old man brigade; Presumably why they often concur with my own views.

After seeing that his NHS bill has gone through, without any riots, David Cameron has gone full speed ahead on privatisation.

Announcing that water privatisation was such a success (The BBC’s political editor even lied that Cameron’s view was in accord with public opinion), Dave has announced his intention to privatise the roads.

He actually said that he would use private investment to build new toll roads (apparently he has his eyes on private pension funds as major contributor’s) but with a sub-text.

He claimed that he was setting up an independent panel.

[Why do politician’s insist on using that word, when we all know that it is a form of lying]

Obviously the panel will recommend that old roads would get a layer of tarmac and be called “new ” toll roads.

Further deliberations would read that this was such a cumbersome exercise that it would be easier to just use the Galileo system and charge for all road usage.

It’s just a coincidence that they have just begun getting the Gallileo satellites into orbit (2 in October and 2 in February).

The whole battery of satellites will probably be in place by the time the “independent” panel reports back.

note:

Galileo system finally up and running: 20/10/2011:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15372540

Galileo road charging first mooted a decade ago with plans to have GPS chips in all cars and all mobile phones, made after 2005.

greater detail at http://www.esa.int/esaNA/galileo.html

The eventual plan was that your car movements would be automatically logged and a bill would drop through your letterbox, based on which roads were used and and time of day (rush hour) used. These would be enforceable by fines, which would, be collected by private firms, running their own “collection agencies”. (sounds like the Mafia finally be legalised)