Here are the things that struck me:
1. The Powell dude is incredibly cultured. The breadth and depth of his knowledge is astounding.
2. He's a consummate master of language. He then goes further and adds quirks that you can only do if you really understand the rules. I think this is partly because of the distance in time between him writing and me reading. In other words everyone talked like that then. The quirks I'm talking about manifest themselves in oddly contracted sentences. Far out daddy-o!
3. I find the whole thing quite cold and cerebral, with an elegiac quality.
However in general it is true that free markets as described by Adam Smith did regulate the labour force by starvation. In other words, if the price of labour dropped below a certain point the labourer couldn't feed herself and died of starvation. This reduced the supply of labour, and so the price of labour rose again. It works, but isn't morally acceptable.
The good thing about free markets is that they are the quickest way to make your country rich; the bad thing is that the wealth isn't distributed evenly. That's why I think that government should stop taxing the poorest in society, and in this way redistribute the wealth a bit.
I think the easiest method of delegating your OpenId depends on several factors:
Why do you make people redirect to your domain? isn't it easier to add the meta
1. Do you have an editable web page under your own domain name?
2. Are you comfortable with basic HTML?
3. Do you know what to add to the html?
4. Do you know the URL of your OpenId server?
5. How easy is it to add a CNAME record to your DNS?
If the answers 1-4 are 'yes' and the answer to number 5 is 'not very', then it's easiest to go ahead and edit the html. If your DNS hosting company has an easy web interface (like GoDaddy) and you're a bit shaky on the other questions, then I'd suggest that http://www.own-id.com/ is for you.
Often people walk out during DVDs at my house. This time, nobody walked out!
It's clear to me that to go to war you need permission from the UN in the form of a resolution of the Security Council. The UK tried to secure such a resolution, but was unable to. France in particular was against it. Since the UK failed to obtain UN authorization, it was illegal for the UK to then go to war. The people responsible for the crime are all the MPs that voted in the Commons for war.
The-Elected had one final incarnation where you could click anywhere on a Google map of the USA and Australia and it would take you to the Wikipedia page of that political constituency. I liked that idea, but again it never became popular. I've now decided to abandon The-Elected.
Even though it hasn't been successfull in its own right, it has taught me an immense amount about programming and the internet. Thank you The-Elected, and goodbye!
I felt that the sub-plot of Melanie Daniels arriving and her relationship with the family was added in to fill the story out to film length. That wasn't a bad thing, I'm just trying to work out the thinking behind the film. I'm not brainy enough to understand what the sub-plot was all about though.
I was expecting the special effects to be a bit clunky, but in fact they were really well done.
A good film. I'm glad I saw it.
The thing I like about Du Maurier's writing is how she can evoke a dark mood in a very subtle way in everyday circumstances. John Wyndham's writing has a similar quality.
I'm seeing the film this evening. I gather that it's only very loosely based on the book. It'll be the first Hitchcock film I've seen!
PS. My question to you is; would modern double-glazing stop the birds?
I've heard some say, 'Yes, we need to charge people according to how much they throw away'. This is crazy talk because:
- People will just dump their rubbish in laybys.
- It's not just a question of volume of rubbish, it's what's in there; and people don't have the time or expertise to differentiate levels of disposability.
My solution is to have a disposal tax on every product that will ultimately be thrown away. There would be a number of categories depending on how costly particular materials are to dispose of. For example a paper bag would be in a cheaper category than a plastic bag.
The tax would cover the entire rubbish collection budget, and so that element could be taken out of the council budget.
I've added this idea to the Political Manifesto.
That was the thought from Jocelyn Bell Burnell that stayed in my mind after her talk at the Science Cafe yesterday. We've had lots of interesting people at the Science Cafe, but as the discoverer of pulsars, Bell stood out as a figure of historical note. I'll be able to boast in the pub, 'Yes, well of course I attended a talk by Jocelyn Bell in person...'.
In a previous post I wrote to Good Energy asking them to respond to the British Gas Zero Carbon tariff. Thank you to Owen Broadway of Good Energy for responding. His reply to my enquiry is below, and I've made some comments below that.
Thanks very much for your enquiry. We appreciate the time our customers take in looking at how relevant we are to the ongoing battle against climate change. We also appreciate the opportunity to air our credentials in a public forum such as the one you have provided.
Although British Gas has launched 2 new green tariffs; they withdrew their Green Electricity & Climate Aware green tariffs in the spring of 2007 after the National Consumer Council found that they added no additional environmental benefit and were lacking in consumer transparency.
To really look at the efforts British Gas are making we need to look at exactly how the electricity they supply is made. In 2006 just 3% of the electricity British Gas supplied came from renewable sources – less than the government requires them to do, and Centrica, owner of British Gas, is building new power stations that run on coal – the most carbon intensive fossil fuel.
The Zero Carbon tariff offers to reduce a household’s carbon emissions to zero - this is being achieved mainly through carbon offset schemes. Although carbon offsetting offers a bridging solution, reducing electricity consumption and replacing the way it is generated are the primary solutions to combating Climate Change.
Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity NOW; cutting your carbon emissions from your electricity consumption immediately.
It is true that British Gas’s new Zero Carbon tariff plans to retire Renewable Obligation Certificates above the government obligation. Good Energy has always retired additional ROCs, helping to raise the market price for renewable generators and attracting further investment into the renewables market. This has led to us consistently being recommended by Friends of the Earth, The Good Shopping Guide and Ethical Consumer Magazine.
Similarly, Good Energy has also always held onto 100% of its Levy Exemption Certificates (LECs) to ensure that the renewable benefits of the electricity supplied are not double counted.
Good Energy is unique in the UK because ALL of the electricity we supply comes from renewable sources and is backed by 100% Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs), as opposed to one tariff from a company supplying millions of other consumers with fossil fuel created electricity.
I hope this goes some way to answering your questions, if there is anything I can offer more detail on please do not hesitate to give me a call.
It's me speaking again. Good Energy are a great company, I've been a happy customer of theirs for years. However I think they've just been out-greened by BG Zero Carbon in the key area of ROCs retirement. My plea to Good Energy is to make the bold move of retiring 100% of their ROCs. I'm aware that this will increase the electricity price hugely, but I for one would pay up, knowing that the electricity was truly green.
One of Owen's points against BG Zero Carbon hits home, and that's the carbon offsetting element. Carbon offsetting is dodgy and I'd rather avoid it.
Another genuine problem with BG Zero Carbon is that it's only available with dual-fuel. I intend to stop burning fossil fuel gas, and signing up to something that involves burning gas seems a backward step.
If British Gas were serious about climate change, they'd stop burning fossil fuels. However, if they come up with the greenest tariff, then it's still the right thing to do to sign up with them despite the rest of the company not being green.
In summary I'll not be switching to BG Zero Carbon for the time being because of their carbon offsetting nonsense and dual fuel racket. However, Good Energy must retire more of their ROCs because they're not as good as BG Zero Carbon on this most important point. I'd also like to see Good Energy publish their ROC retirement percentage prominently on their website (I couldn't find it anywhere).
I read in the August 2007 Ends Report that British Gas retires 12% of ROCs above its legal obligation for its Zero Carbon tariff, whereas Good Energy only retires 5% above its obligation. I'm a very happy customer of Good Energy, but I'm tempted by the Zero Carbon tariff. Is there a reason why I shouldn't switch to British Gas?
What's the future for Own-Id? The next thing is to allow people to have a link to their homepage on their id page. What do you think?
I think the purpose of the book is to highlight the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie in their sexual conduct. Published in 1882, the book made me wonder if the problems that Zola raised have been solved by paternity testing, contraception and child support. My view is that the main physical problems have been solved, but there's still potential for psychological problems. What do you think?
I've also changed the XRDS document so that Own-Id now supports all versions of OpenId.
Btw, we now have 13 users (domains).
So to really be compatible with previous versions, the markup should be the same as in OpenId 1.x. I urge the authors of the specification to change it back. In my experience with OwnId if you stick to the specification on this, you break compatibility with previous versions.
Come to think of it, I don't see why a link to the server is needed at all. Can someone explain this to me?
I especially like the added justification on the end:
[stop the] privately profitable but socially unproductive labour from tens of
thousands of tax lawyers, tax accountants and other tax efficiency experts and
free them for socially productive labour
It seems to me that this is a microcosm of the buck passing you see on the railways as a whole. The rail companies should take full responsibility for everything that happens on the railways, from vending machines to accidents. To achieve this, the train operating companies should own Network Rail.
In the book, difference regions of the galaxy have different physical effects. These effects seem only to affect 'machines' and not evolved minds. To me this is an interesting idea, but doesn't stand up as how the world could actually work. The point is that a human brain is a machine, and is subject to the same physics as any other machine.
- We're in a mess with global warming, and that's what happens when you leave it to the free market.
- Look at all the problems with the NHS, it should be left to the free market.
For me, this indicates a misunderstanding of the idea of free markets. A free market is a way to maximize society's wealth, given the following constraints:
- The laws of physics.
- Laws of the land, where society's morals are translated into rules that everyone must follow or be punished.
Examples of laws of the land are:
- Don't murder or physically hurt people.
- Don't pour mercury into rivers.
- Don't steal other people's property.
- Don't sell toys painted with lead paint.
- Do give 30% of your income above £10,000 to the government.
- Do give £10 to the government for every kg of CO2 from fossil fuel sources that you emit.
- Everyone has freedom of speech.
A free markets takes these constraints and gives a system that optimizes society's wealth. Implementing a free market involves extra laws. For example:
- Any company or individual is free to start up and offer any service anywhere to anyone.
- No cartels for fixing the price of services or labour. In other words, companies or individuals can't get together to fix a price for their services. They must compete on price.
- No monopolies. A company can't buy up all the other companies providing the same service.
- In the employer-employee relationship, if one party wishes to end the relationship, they can.
The point that I want to make in this post is that the free market solution that you end up with depends on the laws of the land. There is no single free market solution. For example, if it's against the law to pour mercury into rivers, then your free market solution won't result in rivers polluted with mercury. If it omits the mercury law, then you probably will get mercury pollution.
Going back to the quotes at the begining:
- We're in a mess with global warming, and that's what happens when you leave it to the free market.
I'd answer that free markets are just a way of solving an optimization problem. If you want the solution to involve reduced CO2 emission, you have to pass a law that makes it more costly to emit CO2.
- Look at all the problems with the NHS, it should be left to the free market.
This implies that there's a single free market solution to health care. This is wrong. You have to work out a complex system of regulation. Each system of regulation would result in a different outcome. The free market is just a way of maximizing society's wealth given the laws of the land.
The reason for the change is to deal with whitespace better. It's hard to put a script as an attribute, but if you use element content for everything, then whitespace gets changed by editors formatting the XML to make it more readable.
So as I was reading the book, I began to see it as a story of what happens when groups set up in parallel with the state. The mafia is really an alternative government, a law unto themselves. The Godfather is an anarchist.
One may ask, what's wrong with that? Why can't they go their own way? The problems come when they interact with the rest of society. They are parasites on society. They make money from protection rackets, not by making their own contribution to the economy. If anyone stands between them and their revenue stream, they use violence to get their way, whereas legitimate business has to compete on a level playing field.
How to cut gun crime
By David Andrews
The present concern about high rates of illegal gun ownership and associated gun crime can be solved very simply in the same way that illegal whiskey distilling was stamped out in Scotland in the late 1700s, by offering huge, for the day, rewards for information leading to the discovery of illegal stills, whereas in Ireland it was merely made illegal where it persists to this day.
In the UK police could similarly offer a no questions asked hand-in fee of say £2000 pounds for any person who brings a gun into a police station. At the same time a reward could be offered of twice the hand-in fee ie £4000 for information leading to the prosecution of any person found in the possession or control of an illegal fire arm. And £4000 for each and every weapon.
One of the main purposes of holding such illegal weapons is to let others know that you have them, by behaviour and reputation spread by acolytes or fearful potential victims of tacit intimidation.
Thus a little thought will show that the illegal arms user and dealer will have little choice but to throw away, hand in, or not let anyone know they have such weapons, since any holder for the purposes of status or intimidate, will know that he is liable to be grassed up by multiple persons, who will calculate that sooner or later someone else will go to the police, and retribution is likely on all of the many people in the position of victim. May as well be the first to at least take the cash because retribution will be coming.
If the holder decides to keep the possession a secret then their main use – intimidation and status is denied. They will of course still be used for armed robbery but that is a very rare crime and what we are after is to cut street gun culture.
As soon as he tries to sell a weapon, more than a few times, he risks his customers or those who he has advertised his services to, ( the latter will always be more than the former) picking up a £4000 fee for his trouble.
It will not be the case that an industry will develop feeding guns to the police, since they will still retain all their normal investigative rights. Existing and new gun smuggling networks will be rendered extremely dangerous due to the bounty any party could obtain, and of course, whilst guns could be fed to the police by a series of low level associates, the police would simply have to home in on these peoples backgronds.
My response to Dave's idea
I think the weakness in the idea is the £2,000 paid out if a gun is handed in. It would mean that people would import / manufacture guns for £500, then sell them on to the police with a £1,500 guaranteed profit. The country would soon be awash with guns, and the police would be too poor to do anything about it!
By all means have a £4,000 reward for information leading to the successful prosecution of a criminal, but please drop the idea of the police paying out cash for illegal guns.
Actually, now I've got a bit of space in the garage, does anyone know how I can use the space to make money? It's a shame just to have a half-empty garage.
Btw, my car still hasn't sold. Maybe FreeCycle it...
I would go as far as saying that being an atheist doesn't necessarily make you any worse than anyone else, but it doesn't necessarily make you any better either.
Jehova's witnesses occassionally call at my door. I'm pleased that they do, and we have a conversation about what we believe about the world. I explain that I take religious texts in two parts, physics and morality. The physics part of all religions I've heard of is rubbish. Souls, spirits, virgin births, God etc. are really bad explanations compared to quantum mechanics, evolution etc. The morality part of religions is a mixed bag. I think 'do as you would be done by' is a pretty good idea. A lot of the other stuff is a bit grim though.
<parameter name="emailAddress" value="adam.smith@localhost"/>
but now they look like:
This is so that you can conveniently have parameter values with line breaks.
Stoll paints himself as a long-haired leftish alternative type, wearing an old pair of sneakers (his only pair of shoes) and a beat-up jacket. He's obviously a bit of a know-all. I've met plenty of people like this. What really annoys me is when they talk about recipies for food.
Anyway, the book is very readable. I felt that it was as much about his lifestyle as the chase. Hunting down the hacker was good too, both aspects of the book complement each other. Stoll doesn't have a car, he cycles everywhere. So do I! It doesn't make me a computer genius, that would be to fall for the Hawking fallacy (not everyone with motor neurone disease is a brilliant theoretical physicist).
Note: My friend Bill lent me this book (note to Bill: pick it up on Tuesday if you're coming round). He warned me not to look up the accompanying video clips on U-Tube, they'll destroy your illusions apparently!
I turned to my friend Bill and bet him that in 10 years there will be more passenger miles travelled in electric cars than travelled using biofuel powered cars. The number for electric cars doesn't include hybrids, but 5% biofuel mixes and the like do count, but for only 5% of the passenger miles, if you see what I mean. Bill is still considering accepting the bet, but I've mentioned it to several other people and I've recorded which way they've bet.
The first bet is with Toby. He writes:
Due to greater understanding of the brain damage sustained whilst heading the ball in football, you suggested that within 50 years (by 1st January 2057) this practice will be abolished in the game. I suggested this is nonsense, and even if the awareness and nature of the risks involved increased, this would not happen.
So next I bought a real ivy plant, a plant of the genus Hedera. The shop only had Hedera colchica, so I got that. After a while I did a bit more research, and realized it wouldn't grow tall enough to completely cover the walls of my house!
My research said I needed to buy Hedera helix (Common Ivy), which can grow up to 20-30m high. I mentioned it to my Dad, and he said he had plenty. We dug some up and I've just planted it in my garden.
I should add that family (except my Dad), friends, professionals (and friends who are professionals) all think I'm mad to grow an ugly, invasive, poisonous weed that will rapidly destroy the fabric of my house while absorbing heavy metals from the atmosphere.
The NHS should still be free for all at the point of use, but health services should be funded and regulated by the government but not run by them. Private companies and other organization should run hospitals (Virgin, Tesco, Hilton etc.) and the patients should be able to choose between them.
I've lent the book out, it's one of those books you know that everyone is going to like.
One of the dangers of GM is that the GM companies own the patents surrounding the technology, and can lock farmers into a monopoly arrangement. This is analogous to the software world where 'proprietary lock-in' means the customer is forced to deal with only one vendor. I think it's clear that software patents should be abolished, but maybe all patents should be abolished!
PoG is an excellent book, second only to Use of Weapons in the Banks oevre. There's no tedious navel gazing, no wasted words, the tension is maintained throughout. Brilliant insights into the relationship between humans and other sentient machines. I think the best writing is where the author has a lot to say, and a relatively short space to write it. That isn't to say I'm blindly in favour of short books. As Einstein said about scientific theories, they should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. In fact this maxim also applies to software.
PoG was written in 1989, and as I was reading it I was listening to a Pixies best-of CD, which I remember from the early 90s. I was overcome by a wave of nostalgia for the days of listening to the Pixies at my friend's house while we played snooker (he always won).
Anyway, I think Banks has played Risk and games like it. They're a feature of his writing, and he writes well about them. Does anyone want a game of Risk?
In The Seymour Tapes, Lott writes about a bloke who secretly films his family. At one point he had a dilemma in that he saw a misdemeanor by his child, but couldn't confront him with the evidence because that would reveal how he obtained it.
This is similar to the government's problem with phone tap evidence. In the government's case they should either do nothing, or they should go ahead and present the evidence.
Ages ago in the summer, probably 1992, Steve from Uni invited me out to his parents' house in France. There were two books there that I read, Whitley Strieber's Communion and a book of short stories by Ray Bradbury.
A Graveyard For Lunatics is written in a theatrical manner, where all emotion is exagerated, characters are extreme, and events move much faster than in real life. It's set in the 1950s and I think Bradbury is old enough to remember that era. The frenetic, knockabout dialogue doesn't to me have the ring of the 1950s, but what do I know? I'd have said Catcher in the Rye sounded too modern but it was actually written round about then wasn't it?
I have one query about the plot. Why didn't they go and see the 'blind' woman who was with the beast at the restaurant straight away?
Which reminds me of a plot flaw in 28 Weeks Later. Have you seen that film? It's great! The problem is, when the father comes to see his wife when she is strapped down in the hospital, there is *nobody* guarding her, and no nurses in attendance!
However, Terry Macalister's article, 'In it for the money' says it much better than I can.
In brief, speech should be protected up to participation in imminent criminal action. So if you and I go into a store to rob it, and I say "shoot," that's not protected.I think I'll go with that.
It kept my attention engaged, and there were some genuinely humorous moments. At one point the android is reprimanded by its creator:
'You did nothing You are totally useless. You will dismantle yourself and cease functioning. You cannot even be trusted to collect elementary information about the planet.'
'I can walk under water. [...] And I've got a good job in the police force.'
One of the things I didn't like was the idea of people having spirits. It reminded me of the agent detection theory of God and spirits that I first read about in Stephen Pinker's 'How the Mind Works'.
There are a lot more opportunities that arise from having a web identity. I haven't really digested the implications yet...
1. My car runs on a fossil fuel and so contributes to global warming.
2. One could easily have (cause?) an accident.
and I've got two reasons for not selling:
1. Life requires the use of a car from time to time, and I'd inevitably end up getting lifts from other people and not be able to give them lifts in return. I'd feel bad about that. Yes, I could always hire a car, but that would rule out spur of the moment trips, which is one of the joys of driving.
2. Everything involves risk, and I don't want to fall victim to the runaway train fallacy.
I think that since my car is unused it means I've already made up my mind. Now it's just wasting money.
Today most wikis are collaborative, but I predict the rise of the non-collaborative wiki. They will displace many web sites build with the Page Creator model.
I'm writing this now because I've just changed from Wikispaces to Wet Paint. Wikispaces is great, but you have to pay if you want to use your own domain name. I'm a cheapskate, so I moved to Wet Paint where it's free to use your own domain name. It's worth mentioning that from my point of view the Wet Paint editor is inferior to the one in Wikispaces because one can't control the HTML very well (page fragments in links is one example).
There's a lot to be said about what should and shouldn't be charged for on a web site. But your attention is starting to wander, so I'll leave it for now.
The Steep Approach to Garbadale is one of Banks' non-science-fiction ones. His gentlest yet. An aga saga even. Perhaps he's now the male Joanna Trollope? The Banks trademarks are still there. Strong female characters, theme of betrayal, fascination with aristocracy and wealth, a real understanding of the importance of technology and something I pretentiously call 'intellectual realpolitik'. There's also a plot similarity with 'A Song In Stone'.
As Banks matures, there's a sense of him handing down wisdom. This is not unwelcome. He doesn't preach. One of my favourite bits is when the main character compares Sophie to a personal religion. Long live Banks!
The characters are drawn in a subtle and engaging way. This type of story reminded me of War and Peace, although DMT doesn't have a historical agenda as W&P does. It's entertaining to be drawn into the intrigue and interplay of the characters. The reader is immersed in the flavour of the period and I found myself at times taking on the style of speech in the book. It made me sound pompous and daft.
I reckon I'll be looking out for the other books in the series...
This is my friend Liz and me.
Thanks to Rahul for these photos.
Rahul had bangars and mash at the pub, but unaccountably lost his appetite just before they arrived.
Rahul was too coy to release a photo of himself, but he had no such compunction when it came to ducks and swans.
The format of the Science Cafe is a half-hour talk, followed by questions. All of the questions were sympathetic to the Baron. He is an accomplished speaker, and his arguments so compelling that nobody was willing to risk ridicule by challenging him. Then an earnest red haired student asked, 'if not the Precautionary Principle, then what should guide policy?'. The Baron answered, 'scientific evidence should guide such decisions'. I asked, 'What do you do in the absence of scientific evidence?', he paused on the horns of a dilemma. If he said, 'you go ahead anyway', then that's obviously reckless, but if he said, 'you don't do anything until the evidence comes in', then that's the Precautionary Principle. In the end he gave a non-answer, waffling.
Having said that, I agreed with much of what Dick Taverne had to say. He argued that we should take science seriously, and I totally agree with that. Where he veered off course was when he conflated science and morality.
Warning: Threat to belief system. In thinking of the challenges it was possible to make to Taverne, I saw the openings of problems with David Deutsch's ideas in 'The Fabric of Reality', on which I have based my entire world view.
1. I'm concerned that by raising the cost of carbon emissions in the UK, countries with lower emissions costs will come to see their unregulated emissions as a competitive advantage. This would have the overall effect of making global emissions reduction less likely.
However, if we are going to go ahead with a reduction in emissions then:
2. I like the idea of making GHG emissions limits legally binding. It gives the certainty needed for investment, and may lift the issue above short-term party political interference.
3. I favour the idea of a national carbon levy. The revenue raised by the levy would be divided equally among the population through the income tax system. This would mean that the levy would be tax neutral. The size of the levy would be set annually by a committee with the remit of keeping to the national carbon budget. The committee would work in a similar way to the Monetary Policy Committee.
I wore my tongue to a stump talking about 'security through obscurity' and Kerckhoff's principle. He then said sarcastically, 'So I should provide a map of my house to burglars, should I?'. To which, in a triumphant know-all manner, I brandished Peter Swire's Disclosure Matrix!
I've just listened to a programme on Radio 4 where the leader of the BNP used the threat of extradition to France as a way of evading the interviewer's questions on the holocaust. The French law has the effect of sheltering people whose opinions should be subjected to public scrutiny.
In the UK, thanks to privatization, customers can choose their electricity supplier. This means it's possible to switch to green electricity. The question is; what difference does it make if I do?
Under the Renewables Obligation every electricity supplier in the UK has to buy a certain percentage of renewable electricity (about 7% at the moment I think). Electricity that qualifies as renewable receives Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs). ROCs can be traded separately from the electricity.
Bill's point was that if you change to a green tariff, it won't cause any more renewable energy to be produced because the electricity demand of people on a green tariff is under 7% of total electricity demand, which is no more than suppliers have to do already by law!
I thought hard about this and I think he is only right if your green supplier only holds on to the minimum number of ROCS.
Another way of putting it is that the greenness of electricity is soley determined by whether you retire the ROCs for it, rather than selling them. My electricity supplier, Good Energy, retire some of their ROCs, so I think that my electricity is a bit greener than the 7% national average. I'd like Good Energy to retire all their ROCs. It would cost more but I'd prefer to pay the extra and not contribute to global warming.
I can think of two other considerations for how green electricity is. People say to me, 'At peak times, wind turbines can't generate enough electricity and you have to use electricity from fossil fuel sources. Okay, your supplier does offset this with giving other people renewable energy at off-peak times, but it's still not entirely green'. I think this is a minor point compared to the ROCs one, but still I think it is valid. I'd like Good Energy to not do offsetting if possible.
The other consideration is non-energy costs. I've been told that only about 60% of an electricity bill goes on the actual electricity, the rest goes on wires, transformers, administration, meter reading etc. What are Good Energy doing to reduce the carbon footprint of this aspect? Perhaps they could have meters that communicate wirelessly, rather than have a person drive around in a van?
I conclude that I was wrong to think that electricity from Good Energy would be completely free from carbon emmissions. However, I was right to switch to them because the associated emmissions are significantly lower than those from a brown electricity supplier. Also, if you try a thought experiment where all electricity is supplied by Good Energy, the UK's electricity would indeed be entirely renewable!
I read through the various leaflets that landed in the hall, and I ended up voting for the party that had the fewest grammatical errors in their campaign literature (Liberal Democrats).
In order to make a really well informed choice I think one would have to follow local politics week in, week out. I'm just not that interested. I think the thing I care about most locally is the architecture.
I was gripped by Nick Hornby's 'How To Be Good'. Kept on reading it. People describe him as a comic writer, and he does excel at humour, but I found the book sad and uncomfortable as well.
I realize that in these notes about books I'm nearly always saying how good they are. But The Rotters' Club really is good. A few months ago I read 'The House of Sleep' and that made me seek out other Jonathan Coe books. The character Paul in the Rotters' Club is my favourite. He's a precocious, annoying younger brother, 9 years old. I'd like to transclude some of his dialogue but the book isn't published electronically under an open content licence, and there isn't a good and generally available way of acheiving transclusion.
That was one of my favourite bits of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Another great paragraph is:
'I have brought on myself a punishment and a danger that I cannot name. If I am the chief of sinners, I am the chief of sufferers also. I could not think that this earth contained a place for sufferings and terrors so unmanning; and you can do but one thing Utterson, to lighten this destiny, and that is to respect my silence.'
The book is chilling, an excellent example of Victorian darkness. How much of Robert Louis Stevenson is in this book? I'd like to read a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson, can you recommend one? I think he lead quite an unusual life. Had poor health. Apparently he had a rather dissolute lifestyle when he was young, and in the book Utterson looks back on his life and says that he did things that were barely acceptable and nearly did worse.
'The Ex-boyfriend's Handbook' by Matt Dunn is completely different. It's the male equivalent to chick lit. In fact it was on my desk at work and Emily asked why I was reading a girl's book, the cover sort of gives that impression before you look closely. It's a straightforward blokey book, really a feel-good book. Thanks to Irina for recommending it.
I think I've read all of Iain Banks' non-genre books except for Canal Dreams, and I've read all his sci-fi books. I'm so a fan. 'Walking on Glass' was a disturbing read. Banks' books seem to follow a pattern of starting off in an upbeat clever, bounding-along-happily sort of way. This sets you up for a descent into nightmare that doesn't contradict the beginning, it just cleverly reveals it as being part of the horrific whole.
I think Dean Koontz wrote K-Pax. I've seen that film twice, excellent. Is he an alien? I came to a conclusion after watching it but I can't remember the conclusion. Anyway, I've just read Demon Seed. This is another scary book. It seems to me though that people assume an AI will have a human-like set of motivations. But just because something is intelligent and conscious doesn't mean that it will have the same basic drives and feelings as animals.
I'm currently reading 'A Dance to the Music of Time'. I'm starting with the last part, is this a good idea?
Anyway, Alasdair Grey is another author I've been meaning to read for ages, ever since I heard about Janine. I was given Poor Things by a friend, and her judgement was excellent as it is a brilliantly written book. It also raised lots of philosophical questions, but don't get me started. I recommend the book.
My aunt gave me Vanilla by Tim Ecott. This book is clearly based on painstaking research, and gives an exhaustive history of vanilla. The history is leavened by anecdotes of his travels on the trail of the plant. In fact, if I was his publisher I'd suggest it would be really interesting to focus on the anecdote part of his writing for his next book.
The first Bridget Jones book was awesome. The title of the next book 'The Edge of Reason' led me to think that it might be about her losing her mind. It isn't. It is very funny. I remember Helen Fielding's photo from the first Bridget Jones book, and she looks completely different in the dust jacket photo on this book. Incidentally, the author photo of A Man in Full shows Tom Wolfe in a sort of southern gent outfit.
Wolfe has the character Conrad explaining, 'Epictetus said that Zeus has given every person a spark from his own divinity, and no one can take that away from you, not even Zeus, and from that spark comes your character. Everything else is temporary and worthless in the long run, your body included'.
But surely we know that this isn't really how things work. A person's character arises from the particular configuration of the neurons in their brain. Okay, well let's say that Epictetus was using 'divine spark' to mean the human spirit (not a supernatural thing). The bit about nobody being able to take away the 'divine spark' just isn't true. Epictetus obviously hadn't seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
In the kitchen, bathroom and sitting room I've got 50w halogen lamps with a GU10 fitting. Btw, most people say 'bulb', but apparently in the trade they say 'lamp'. I think it's like in the Navy they never say 'boat'.
Anyway, I'm trying to find a low energy replacement. I've bought two lamps from:http://www.yourwelcome.co.uk/acatalog/copy_of_GU10_Low_Energy.html
The first one is the 'GU10 5w Cold Cathode lamp' for 7.99 GBP. This works really well. It comes on straight away and is close to the brightness of the halogen ones. The two drawbacks are:
- The quality of the light isn't as warm as the halogen (but still not too bad).
- It's bigger than the halogens and so doesn't fit in some sockets, and those where it does fit, it sticks out.
The second one I tried is the 'Luxeon LED lamp' at 10.99 GBP. The good things are:
- It looks really good.
- It's exactly the same size and shape of the halogen lamps.
- It only uses 1W (yes, 1W!)
The bad points are that it isn't very bright, and the quality of the light is slightly odd. My Dad called it 'ghostly'. It's very white with a very slight greenish tinge (to my eyes anyway).
let me know what you think. I've given up on the idea of having The Elected hold information like areas, institutions, offices etc. because they are already in Wikipedia. The only advantage was that the information in The Elected was in a structured form, but that wasn't a big enough advantage.
The new The Elected is really a database of constituency boundaries that is combined with Google Maps and Wikipedia to hopefully create something useful. Please send me any links to geospatial data of constituency boundaries and I'll put them on the site.
At the last, having thereby made a unique contribution to something beyond us, each of us was to die into that insubstantial but immortal nowhere.
The story is of his search for faith, told partly through the lives of two victorian figures. Archibald Tait, an archbishop, and Walter, author of 'My Secret Life'.
Throughout, Hughes uses religious language to describe modern, mundane things.
That said, the Levitt approach and results will stay with me. Thanks Bob for giving me the book for Christmas!
I think of digital as being where a range of values correspond to another discrete value. In his book, The Digital River, Richard Dawkins says that DNA is digital. That's because even if you bend and twist the DNA around a bit, the order of the proteins stays the same, and it's the order that counts. When the DNA is copied, the copy isn't nearly the same like a photocopy, the information in the copied DNA is exactly the same, like a copied computer file.
I think that speech and writing is digital too. When I've played Chinese whispers, it's been disappointing because the phrase never changes. If one were to play Chinese pictures (I'm sure there is such a game) with art that didn't contain symbols, the change would be immediate.
This is because with speech, a large variety of sounds map to a single word. It is digital. Also with writing, a large variety of marks on paper map to a single letter. It too is digital.
I think that the holocaust did happen. Why do I think that? I'd like to be able to say that I've done a thorough review of the historical evidence. I haven't, because I don't have the time, money or skill. In fact, it's such a huge undertaking that no single person can fully investigate it on her own. The reason I believe it is true is that I'm relying on peer reviewed research where knowledge is built up by open argument and evidence gathering.
If there were a law that forbade the expression of a particular opinion, this process of open discussion couldn't work. Therefore, this proposed law would cause doubt about the facts of the holocaust.
Future posts coming up on these two questions...
1. How should we treat holocaust deniers, racist political parties etc?
2. What, if any, are the limits of free speech?