Monday, March 31, 2008
"What he was after was a certain type of unrestrained but civilised conviviality. The kind of generous and sociable cheerfulness that only alcohol can engender through its sacred ability to suspend or abolish the inherent tension of having to spend time among other human beings. Liberality was the key and a parsimonious hand with the bottle an enemy ranked alongside pretension or the tendency to bore."
Lets face it, nothing makes you friends like an evening in the pub in an extroverted and profoundly garrulous frame of mind. God I could talk the hind legs of a weasel when I'm well oiled.
I don't suppose anyone's interested but my favourite tipple is Mount Gay Eclipse. No, its not a steamy bisexual videotape, its actually the mellowest sipping rum money can buy. Nothing needed to enhance the experience except a couple of lumps of ice.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Where shall I start with the latest development in the Labour Government's climate change denial? I feel myself coming over all 'Marcus Brigstocke' on this one.
The UK's emissions fell slightly in 2007, according to the government. Let's look at that claim a little more objectively, shall we? DEFRA reports a drop of 2%, from 652.3 to 639.4 million tonnes of CO2. Friends of The Earth, notable tree huggers that they are, did some some sums based upon DEFRA's own figures for aviation fuel bunkering. They established that international aviation flying to and from the UK- which are, along with shipping emissions, bizarrely excluded from government figures- mean that UK emissions for 2007 would, in fact, be 6% higher than quoted.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Anyway, I would like to draw attention to this report of the day's session at the inquiry from the splendid bunch at SpinWatch.
So I could shoot him down, of course!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Anyway, I asked him if he had any similar ideas. I was driven to comment by something I heard on the radio the other day.
So, so wrong.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
A - Because they're incompetent sociopathic wankers so wrapped up in their post-Imperialist ideological clusterfuck and in trying to convince themselves that the UK is still a world power that they are emotionally incapable of doing anything other than royally fucking other people's countries up at the expense of our own.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
I found it here. Sadly the chap appears to have posted it in association with negative comments about wind generation, emphasising that turbines can only generate within a given window of wind speed. As if that made climate change, rising fuel bills and energy insecurity worth tolerating.
I am engaged in a dialogue with the blogger in question. Lets see if I can rescue him from his REN status.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I don't think I am overstating the issue when I say that democracy is the highest principle of government. Without it we are open to manipulation by anyone with sufficient power to buy the services of those who cannot be held to account, whether we are referring to bureaucrats, the police or even the military. However, Churchill was dead right when he opined: "the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter".
Why are we living in a nation in which a government demonstrably guilty of war crimes, misgovernment and outright deception of the public remains in power via the ballot box without any evidence of electoral fraud?
To illustrate my point I will refer to an article Johann penned criticising tax avoidance amongst the mega-rich in this country and calling for a progressive policy and the elimination of loopholes. How likely is this to become policy?
For it to become policy it would need a political party to champion it. The dirty tories and the sordid nu-labs are both heavily dependent upon private donations to finance their political activities and wouldn't touch this with a barge pole as donations would immediately cease and the parties would become bankrupt- as has nearly happened several times as a result of the decline in political membership in this country. The Lib Dems are capable of adopting moderately innovative policies but otherwise stick to 'me too' gestures. They are probably the greatest hope for any substantial political change, although the few hotbeds of LibDem activity- such as Cornwall and the West Coast of Scotland don't stand out as bastions of progression by any standards. Living fairly close to Cornwall I can tell you that I generally hear nothing but abuse about the LibDems there.
Of course my chosen political party- the Green Party of England and Wales- grows slowly every election but not fast enough to make a difference in my lifetime.
The problem is not solely the political parties' iniquity, rather it is a melange of socio-political flaws in out little nation that act antagonistically to create an insurmountable obstacle to progress in this country. Let me list them:
- first past the post voting system
- private funding of political parties
- voter apathy and disinterest
- the political power of the media (remember Blair grovelling to Rupert Murdoch for the support of his newspapers over Iraq?)
- corporate tax avoidance (imagine what you could do to society with £41 billion)
Politics in the UK in my lifetime has effectively been at a standstill. Market fundamentalism continues to expand under whichever of the two right-wing main parties is in power. The tabloids continue to direct our attention toward anything but the current spiral into iniquity and effective serfdom, the electorate continue to pride themselves on being ignorant of politics or hold utterly banal allegiances to clearly inaccurate and partisan sources of information such as the Sun (listen to the Now Show from 14-03-08 for some sound bites from C21st UK society).
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
To highlight the continuation of the Iraqi civil war and associated genocide I would like to draw attention to this Guardian article detailing attempts to quantify the number of innocents killed.
One small point of contention with the article, however: Jonathan Steele and Suzanne Goldenberg state that the Iraqi genocide is "the worst humanitarian catastrophe in today's world". I disagree. The ongoing civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed more than 5.4 million people, mostly through starvation and disease. Johann has been there and returned to tell the tale.
We- the British public- are, however, a little less complicit in the Congolese genocide than we are in the Iraqi one. And therefore I would like to call upon anyone reading this to reject another term in power for the Labour government or any return to power for the Conservatives- both of whom supported the initiation of a war of aggression in direct contravention of Article 3 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The leadership of these two parties at the time should be indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, along with George Bush, Dick Cheney and José María Aznar. All UK forces should withdraw from Iraq immediately and any peacekeeping duties that are essential to the preservation of law and order int hat nation should be handed over to a combined UN force whose operation is wholly financed by the UK, the US and Spain.
Bush is as blind to reality as ever.
This Guardian article illustrates the human suffering caused by our government's actions. Imagine if this was taking place on the streets of Milton Keynes or Worcester or Aberdeen.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
After reading this post from the Lazy Environmentalist I emailed my MP, Alison Seabeck, to petition for her support on the Early Day Motion mentioned. Her reply:
"Thank you for your email. I regret that as a Government
Minister(Whip) I cannot sign EDMs which are used by back bench MPs to
raise issues. Alan Simpson is a powerful advocate for alternative and
renewable energy on Labour's back benches.
I have recently sat on the Energy Bill Committee which discussed a range
of issues including measures which will enable more microgeneration. It
is important though that we encourage the right type of micro generation
in the right places. Too many people have put up wind energy technology
in places where they get very little return.
During the course of the Energy Bill the Minister did announce that
there would be a strategic overview of renewables this summer and that
the issue of feed in tariffs would be included in that discussion. This
is important. They are by no means ruled out and clearly Alan Simpson
is ensuring they remain on the Government's agenda.
Alison Seabeck MP"
Interesting for several reasons: Firstly, her reference to Alan Simpson as "a powerful advocate for alternative and renewable energy on Labour's back benches" is of note because she specifically identifies him to be an advocate. This contrasts sharply with many members of the Parliamentary Labour Party such as Alison herself and particularly the Cabinet, who- if you are to ignore their propaganda and infer their policy objectives directly from their actions- are opposed to any research and development of renewable generation beyond that necessary to appear to be doing so.
Secondly, Alison's role on the Energy Bill Committee is laudable. However the measures she mentions, “ measures which will enable more microgeneration” and “ we encourage the right type of micro generation in the right places”, are problems that have resulted from Labour's own policies on renewables. Their lack of direction on grants for renewable installations has been well documented elsewhere and I will not go into it here. Also, the reason people install inappropriate renewable capacity is because the government haven't shown any inclination to publicise useful information relating to the suitability of the different technologies. Or any information relating to renewables, really.
Thirdly, the Energy Bill itself has been determined to be illegal by Greenpeace.
Fourthly, the issue of Feed In Tariffs should not be a matter for discussion, it should be a matter for immediate action. There are even websites available that explain, carefully and clearly so that even MPs can understand, how to implement FITs.
Time and again I am appalled by the laissez-faire attitude of MPs towards imminent climate change. Ignorance of the facts can't seriously be an excuse for these people and so what is it? Some mass psychosis towards future generations? Outright denial? Any way you spin this these people are perpetuating the status quo that will result in gigadeaths and the end of civilisation as we know it on this planet. They should be removed from power.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Anyhoo, I await tales of Alison's stirling work in The House with unbaited breath.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Anyway- who wants to hear me bitch constantly about how hard a PhD is and how I've managed to work through 4 defunct HPLC setups in two and a half months? Exactly. No one.
Fucking shite Kontron kit.
Does anyone live in a village that's short of an idiot? I've got a great candidate for the job . . .
The atheist vs christian composting post is the most entertaining I've ever read on the subject. Also the only, but lets not let that detract from its awesomeness.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Jonathon Porritt rules.
He tells of the government's plan to include the cost of carbon emissions in any cost-benefit analysis of proposed projects such as widening the M1 and the 3rd runway. The thing is, they've picked a price for this carbon that is an outright absurdity, as Johnno points out.
I initially raved about this plan because- if the carbon price was set accurately- it would make all the blatantly unsustainable pet projects currently being forced through by Labour utterly unfeasible. I really though that they would get put back into the Fucking Stupid Idea box and left there. Sadly not.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Firstly- and most obviously: I am not a citizen of Great Britain. I am a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as stated in my passport. If you really want to piss the Irish off after decades of bloody sectarian strife, just forget to include them in a statement about the state of our nation.
Secondly: If you even need to consider proposals to strengthen citizenship then you've been up to some fairly stupid stuff that alienated it in the first place. Examine any policy of the UK government over the preceding thirty years to understand this one.
Thirdly: Centralised diktats intended to improve citizenship are blatantly going to be counter productive. In most humans positive emotions such as loyalty and pride result from positive experiences. Personally, I find such positive experiences to be few and far between. Simple comparisons of our nation's state with others in Europe reveal that we have exactly nothing to be proud of apart from winning the Rugby World Cup five years ago. Our public transport sucks, our democracy sucks, our military are falling apart thanks to poor management and overextension of limited resources, our government are responsible for exacerbating climate change instead of fighting it. We have one of the worst records on tax avoidance and one of the most unequal societies in the developed world. And suddenly, this plutocratic collection of corporate whores and incompetent halfwits wants to lecture us on how we should appreciate them? I find this to be a distinctly negative experience and the last thing I feel for Goldsmith and his war crimes are loyalty and a sense of kinship. The words that spring instantly to mind are "get fucked".
Do I have to mention Goldsmith's credibility here with regard to his role in the Iraqi genocide and BAE debacle?
I thought not.
At the same time as we have the police releasing illegal immigrants into the countryside we have John Hutton, Minister of Fatcats and Rising Carbon Emissions on the one hand telling us we should be grateful that fatcats get paid so much and we so little, and on the other hand giving a cheery wave of approval to a new generation of coal fired power stations.
Hutton's incredible ability to ignore every piece of scientific evidence that demonstrates that such policies will condemn future generations to lives of food shortages, poverty and destructive weather patterns would have him lynched in any other country. Unfortunately the Brits simply turn to the next page of the Sun and pass comment on" lovely Sam's 36DD assets".
Hutton's astonishing chutzpah extends to smugly declaring:
Here Hutton demonstrates once and for all why he is not fit to be a Member of Parliament, let alone a Cabinet Minister. If he is ignorant of technologies which can reduce carbon emissions and prevent climate change then he is not doing his job and should be sacked.
Monday, March 10, 2008
"'Development without growth' is precisely the kind of talk that sends shivers down the spines of all good capitalists. But the self-inflicted blindness of contemporary capitalism to the laws of thermodynamics is the first and most problematic barrier to reconciling capitalism and sustainability. It is by no means the only barrier."
". . . at the heart of the issue of scale lurks the vexed issues of population growth. Cut it which way you will, growing populations necessitate growing economies to provide more food, more houses, more services, more teachers, more doctors and more jobs. Growth-bound economists and politically correct environmentalists conspire to keep the issue of population off the agenda, obscuring the incontrovertible reality that every extra human being makes it just a little bit harder to find ways of living within the Earth's limited carrying capacity. It would, however, seem unreasonable to lay the blame for this uniquely at the door of capitalism. Religion, ignorance, prejudice and political cowardice have at least as much to answer for."
"Within any capitalist system, to be 'uncompetitive' at either the company level or at nation-state level, is to fail. It is as simple as that. Competition for customers, competition for capital, competition for talent and competition for reputation and brand value: it is competitiveness that sorts out the capitalist sheep from the capitalist goats. Competition has become both dominant and deeply divisive, as pointed out by Tony Stebbing and Gordon Heath:However, as we have already seen, competition itself need not necessarily pose such a dilemma. In terms of the efficient use of both resources and capital, the challenge to eke out maximum economic value for every unit of energy and raw material is as critical to sustainability as it should be to commercial success. The problem is not competition per se, but the incorrect valuation of resources and inadequate levels of regulation to create a level playing field conducive to sustainability."Competition makes economies inherently unstable and leads to the extinction of businesses through dominance and monopoly. The wide-spread belief that the competitive process must permeate every aspect of life is damaging the global environment since the pace of economic activity exceeds the capacity to assimilate polluting consequences. Competition drives the rate of economic activity towards the maximum energy and resource use. It is unsustainable because there are no intrinsic controls upon the pace of economic activity." (Stebbing and Heath, 2003)
This is probably a judgement that most people would arrive at instinctively anyway. Populist interpretations of evolution, from Herbert Spencer and Thomas Huxley onwards, have accustomed people to the idea of nature being 'red in tooth and claw', with all life forms engaged in endless titanic struggles to ensure 'the survival of the fittest'. So what could be more 'natural' than the history of humankind (both before and after the Industrial Revolution) being cast in the same metaphorical framework? This rationale of social Darwinism has been taken up with unbounded enthusiasm by the politicians and academic economists most centrally involved in the neo-liberal revolution of the last 25 years. When all else fails, it has provided at least some flimsy justification for patterns of irresponsible and uncaring corporate and political behaviour that prioritise competition over everything else, characterised by folksy phrases along the lines of 'Its a jungle out there', 'Its a dog-eat-dog world', 'Let the devil take the hindmost', and so on.
So it often comes as a bit of a blow to them when this interpretation of evolution is revealed as a complete fabrication, a socio-political distortion that tells us much more about Britain during the mid 19th century than about the evolution of life on Earth. What we now know is that individual organisms in a mature ecosystem go to great lengths to avoid competition by specialisation or by developing their own differentiated niches. Resourcews are often shared with frugal efficiency. Territorial animals actually avoid fighting if at all possible, relying upon complex behaviours and rituals that stop short of actual conflict. This has all been formalised by ecologists in what is known as the competitive exclusion principle': The occupant of any niche excludes all others by virtue of specialisation, and therefore avoids competition and possible extinction.
Beyond that the work of scientist such as Lynn Margulis and Janine Benyus has revealed fascinating patterns of mutual interdependence and elegant symbiosis. The great biologist Lewis Thomas is quoted as saying:'The urge to form partnerships, to link up in collaborative arrangements, is perhaps the oldest, strongest and most fundamental force in Nature. There are no solitary, free-living creatures; every form of life is dependent on other forms' (Thomas, 1980)."
Friday, March 07, 2008
Left I rules.
Greg Palast rules too.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Now you can add 'bad sex life' to the list.
I had intimate encounters with several girls of a sky-pixie-fan persuasion when growing up. As a randy teenager it was always rather frustrating being turned down for reasons of religion. I always thought it was an enormous cop-out (possibly one of the reasons for my deep-seated hatred of religion?). I now firmly believe that parents should teach their children all about sex and leave it up to the child to decide when they need to gain any direct experience. Trying to control my development into an adult through direct repression always backfired with me and made me all the more determined to expand my knowledge of forbidden pleasures such as smoking, drinking and girls' naughty bits.
If you can raise a well balanced child with a broad set of interests and pastimes and help them to understand the pressures of modern society then they are going to be far better placed to deal with the advances of randy teenagers or their own hormonal urges than a child who has been repeatedly told that such things are evil and to be suppressed and resisted at every turn. Human beings are human beings, the better parents understand this and treat their children accordingly the better society will become.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
So, not only will the tax payer be responsible for paying far over the odds for these buildings, but they will now not benefit from any tax return on the enormous profits these companies will reap from the tax payer either. Nice.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
"Far from rebuilding public trust in science and medicine, this group's repugnant philosophy could finally destroy it."
As a scientist myself I cannot begin to verbalise the frustration I feel when I see scientific advice being rejected in favour of politically expedient options. The only reason this happens is because public feeling is so ambivalent to science due to its incessant manipulation by politicians, corporations and other vested interests that they have lost the ability to distinguish between a scientific position and a political one. Consequently, they can't perceive the government acting against their best interests (they let the government invade Iraq, for example, although Rupert Murdoch bears much of the responsibility for the obfuscation and outright lies which drove the public to sit idly by while that happened). If the public were better educated in general and about science in particular there would be uproar in response to this sort of misgovernment.
If anyone wants to know my position on GM read George's Captive State or visit his website.
GWADs rank ahead of RENs in my book of contempt, but nowhere near cockweasels.