The shot I'd like to be able to play is a backhand from the back corner of the court that reaches right to the diagonally opposite corner, with the shuttlecock tracing out a high arc!
I usually have at least one game of singles with Paddy. I always used to beat him, but then he asked what he should do to beat me. I foolishly told him to always hit it high to my backhand. He did that and beat me for the first time ever!
Israel should end its occupation of Palastine, and withdraw to within its own borders. Israel should withdraw regardless of what the Palastinians are doing. The Israeli argument is that they are defending themselves against Hamas rocket attacks. But to the Palastinians it looks like Israel is the agressor.
If Israel withdraws, and the rocket attacks still persist, then a UN force should be deployed in Palastine to surpress the rocket attacks. I doubt if the rocket attacks would continue, because there's only public support for Hamas because they are perceived as resisting the Israeli occupation.
Springer spaniels are fantastic dogs. I really miss our Springer, Roger.
A good thing about Christmas Eve is that you see people you haven't seen for ages. Stu turned up, and it was like he'd never been away.
It was my birthday on Sunday, and I'd intended to visit the excellent On The Video Front, and leave with Dr Strangelove, but someone had beaten me to him, so I made a lunge for Barry Lyndon. It's the work of a perfectionist. Every part of every scene is meticulously composed. I love the huge amount of thought that went into the film. It's the sort of thing one can watch repeatedly. Especially if, like me, you generally find plots hard to follow!
I think my friends found it to be better than they thought they would.
Note to self: Must put cartons of orance juice etc. out on table, and not leave them hidden in 'fridge. Also, must leave bottle opener on table.
When Bill turned up for my previous film, he brought a hat and lots of warm clothes. It wasn't a joke, it's freezing in my house. I know it was the big gap under the front door that did it. On Saturday my dad helped me adjust the step to close the gap. I think it's working! This time the house was nice and toasty.
This Alien Shore had some really good ideas, that were followed up by solid writing. I particularly liked the extracts from writings of that world that interspersed the chapters. The one called Natsiq was particularly good.
One thing bothers me about a lot of sci-fi, and this book is no exception: the structure of society is invariably medieval. In the case of individual books this is fine. What gets me is that nearly all sci-fi is like it. Can't we have a vision of the future set in a stable, liberal democracy? I think that's the book I'm going to write. Nobody will read it of course, but that's never stopped me from writing anything!
Looking at Thermawrap General Purpose Wrap on your website, it says: Thermal resistance 1.455m²k/w in Wall Lining installation. Since its thickness is quoted as 4mm, this would give a thermal conductivity of ~ 0.00275 W/mK. Expanded polystyrene has a thermal conductivity of 0.033 W/mk, so are you saying that Thermawrap is a ~12 times better insulator than polystyrene?I'll let you know if it's really true!
objects of different incomparable types always compare unequal to each other.I don't think this is the right way to go. If you try to compare incomparable types, a
TypeErrorexception should be thrown. For example, at the moment if you write
9 == 'hello'in Python it'll return false, but I think it should throw a
The government’s proposal for subsidising those who took out excessive mortgages in the past, is a text-book example of bad economics. It is unfair, distorts incentives and does nothing to stimulate the economy. Zero out of three is bad indeed.
To use algorithmic information theory to review this book on AIT, the amount of understanding generated per word is very high. The Fabric of Reality is like that too. The problem is that some of the ideas are beyond me. If I could only understand both of these books completely; they're worth thousands of lesser books.
I don't want to sound too pessimistic. I learnt about the different approaches in proving that there are an infinite number of prime numbers. Chaitin also talks about Godel's incompleteness theorem implying that mathematical truth is partly something that is found by experiment. I liked his ideas about real numbers and digital philosophy. It supports my view on a digital universe.
Go and read Meta Math!, the guy brings proper maths to you!
For us I think ZCC occurred in the early 1990s. As I write, this is how the two economies are divided:
- Scientific theories
Software. It used to be that you'd buy software as if it were property. You'd buy it in a box, and the vendor would be paid for each box she sold. If it came pre-installed on a new computer, then it was still as though the software was a physical appendage. You weren't allowed to give someone else a copy.
After ZCC everything changed for software. People started illegally copying software. Some of these were people who wouldn't dream of stealing anything physical and didn't think they were doing anything wrong, others were organized criminals. Into this chaos stepped copyleft software. Copyleft meant that copying wasn't illegal, in fact it was encouraged. This meant that the cost of copyleft software dropped to zero. Copyleft also allowed anyone to contribute and improve the software. Faced with this kind of competition, proprietory software went into a terminal decline. Thus software moved from Money to Information.
Encyclopaedia. It used to be that an encyclopaedia came as a book that you paid for, printed on dead trees. A proper book! Okay, you might go to the library, but somewhere along the line, someone had to pay for the book. There was no problem with copying because it would have probably cost more money to copy the book than to simply buy one.
After ZCC, yes, it all changed. Wikipedia was copyleft, instantly available and instantly up-to-date, and trounced the competition.
Okay, what about all those good old-fashioned things that fall into the Money category. You can't copy food. If I've got an apple I can eat it or give it to you, but not both. You can copy a recipe, but not the food itself. That's why food is firmly in the Money category. There's no such thing as a free lunch. The same applies to cars. If I've got a car, you can't drive it at the same time. I think I've made my point.
Oh, one more thing. It's popular to talk about 'intellectual property', but this is an oxymoron. It's either an idea, in which case it falls into the Information category, or it's property, in which case it falls into the Money category.
Things only move from Money to Information, never the other way round.
Something that's in transition at the moment is music. I remember going into a music shop and buying a tape in the eighties. These days most people illegally download music. People think it's prissy of me to abjure illegal downloading. We're in the midst of a transition to something like Jamendo, where music is made available under a copyleft licence.
In the short term, we'll see books, newspapers, films, music etc. make the transition from Money to Information.
At the moment, when you buy a product like a bike or a car, the total cost is broken down into the design cost and the manufacturing cost. With the coming revolution of RepRap, design will move into Information, and the cost of a bike or car will be dramatically brought down to the cost of raw materials and energy.
In the future, money will only be useful for buying energy, land and raw materials and transport. Within the home, it'll be possible to fabricate all the needed material things, from computers to food.
I watched Easy Rider with Matt and Bill. Matt mentioned that it was one of the first films to use the 'lens flare' technique. At first I didn't quite know what he meant, so the first bit of the film was taken up by him saying, 'look, look, there it is!', and then after I'd got it, I started exclaiming, 'look, look, there it is!' whenever it appeared.
I'd been meaning to read Norman Mailer for some time. Ever since I saw him in some old footage of a debate with Germain Greer in fact. The Gospel According to the Son is probably not a typical Mailer. I like the way that Mailer's Jesus has private doubts, but I did find the miracles and talking to God and the devil a bit hard to accept. He did get the biblical tone right.
The Baader-Meinhoff Complex is, I understand, a controversial film. What the Baader-Meinhoff gang did was wrong. Why? On a formal level I'd say it's wrong because they broke the letter and spirit of the law in a democracy. Do I think the laws against blowing people up are right? Yes. I believe the laws maximize the aggregate freedom of the citizens.
Thank you. The only remedy would be legislative so I'll write to the relevant BERR minister for his thoughts.and a reply from Graham Watson MEP:
I am aware that there is growing debate as to the best way of protecting intellectual property with regard to software, but at the same time not stifling competition or the evolution of this technology. It has equally been suggested that copyright makes innovation more difficult as it allows companies like Microsoft to monopolise undefined areas of software, and that such copyright can only be challenged through the court system, unlike patents which are only granted after rigorous examination. Thank you for drawing this issue to my attention and I will certainly bear in mind your comments when this issue is next reviewed by the Parliament If I can be of any assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.I feel I should reply to Graham, as it seems he has some misconceptions. The problem is that I'm not an expert either. Well, here's my reply:
Graham, thank you for your response to my email about software patents. You write:
It has equally been suggested that copyright makes innovation more difficult as it allows companies like Microsoft to monopolise undefined areas of software...How can copyright allow a single company to monopolise an area? Copyright doesn't prevent anyone from using the ideas in a piece of software, it just prevents them from copying / modifying / distributing the code for that particular piece of software without permission.
In the field of web browsers for example, the fact that Microsoft's Internet Explorer has copyright restrictions hasn't stiffled competitors such as Mozilla. In fact I'm using Mozilla to write this!
and that such copyright can only be challenged through the court system, unlike patents which are only granted after rigorous examination.But Mozilla didn't have to challenge anyone in the courts in order to write their web browser. This is in contrast to patents. If Microsoft had been able to patent the web browser, nobody else would have been able to make a competing product and the world would be all the poorer.
So I say yes to software copyright, no to software patents.
4) Should we strive to eliminate non-Boolean operations on bools in the future, through suitable warnings, so that for example True+1 would eventually (in Python 3000) be illegal?and
8) Should we strive to require that Boolean operations (like "if", "and", "not") have a bool as an argument in the future, so that for example "if :" would become illegal and would have to be writen as "if bool():" ???I say yes to both, but the BDFL said no. I say yes because it makes code more readable, reduces the chance of error, and doesn't seem to have any great disadvantages. In the example, instead of
if :I would write
if len() > 0:. This approach would also solve the last of the 'resolved issues', because writing:
if x == True: ...
would mean the same as:
if x: ...
When you change down a gear, the chain would get pushed onto a smaller sprocket at the front, and simultaneously it would get pushed onto a bigger sprocket at the back, and vice versa. The rear derailleur would work like the front derailleur in a conventional system. No pulleys needed, more efficient!
The pulleys on the conventional rear derailleur are there to maintain tension in the chain, because otherwise as you change to a smaller sprocket, the chain would become slack.
In the new system, the chain would always be at the correct tension because as you change to a smaller sprocket at the back, there would be a compensating change to a bigger sprocket at the front.
Andrew Murrison, Graham Watson, Neil Parish,
I was concerned to hear that the Court of Appeal has ruled that patents should be allowed on software.
The reason that software patents are so bad is that it's so difficult, time consuming and expensive to avoid violating them. One has to hire expensive patent lawyers etc. This is in contrast to copyright, where it's easy to avoid copying someone else's work. So I believe that copyright is adequate for people who want their software to be proprietary.
Please deliver us from the dead hand of software patents!
The subject covers the spectrum from taking the basic molecules of life and using new variants to do new things, to using existing DNA and recombining it in different ways.
The speaker quoted Richard Feynman saying something like, 'to really understand an idea, you have to use it to build something'. So the lab is trying to understand biology by using it to build something new.
There's something that offends the religious in creating life. It's as though being able to create life is either an affront to God, or somehow shows that he doesn't exist. Creating life is nothing new, women have been doing it for years!
Well, I'm divagating. One of the characters, James Egerton, explains that Saint Augustine thought that evil wasn't a thing in itself, but rather an absence of good.
I watched Capote yesterday, and the message seemed to be that Capote was wrong to manipulate the trial in order to suit his own writing. Of course this was wrong, but it's the kind of wrong that still gives me hope. I think the worst thing is nihilism, where nothing matters. Capote is better than that because he thought that something mattered (his book) but he just got the wrong thing.
There is a pure free market position which holds that no financial institution should be bailed out – ever. If this approach was followed, people would factor much more risk into their behaviour and the world would be a better place – eventually. I have some sympathy for the intellectual purity of this position – but that is all. On balance, I think it would be rather a good idea, you know, if we did not repeat the Great Depression all over again.I'm one of those that take the 'pure free market' position. I follow the Austrian School of thought on the Great Depression:
In the Austrian view it was this inflation of the money supply that led to an unsustainable boom in both asset prices (stocks and bonds) and capital goods. By the time the Fed belatedly tightened in 1928, it was far too late and, in the Austrian view, a depression was inevitable.
The artificial interference in the economy was a disaster prior to the Depression, and government efforts to prop up the economy after the crash of 1929 only made things worse. According to Rothbard, government intervention delayed the market's adjustment and made the road to complete recovery more difficult.
I'm still getting to grips with the idea of short stories. Each one of Egan's short stories has enough meat on it to be a novel. Now I've allowed short stories into my life, they seem to just keep on coming. Prowling through the shelves of Bath Central Library I came upon an Alasdair Gray collection of short stories called 'The Ends Of Our Tethers'. Zoe had given me Poor Things and that and his reputation made me give Ends a try.
On reading the first story, some may think Professor Gray a bit pervy. Well, I think Gray has a unique voice. His scottishness is continually present, and his left wingery is put forth unashamedly. Actually, I do have an issue with his socialism. Socialists come in two flavours, those who propound a complete world-view and those that just take pot shots at free-markets and capitalism. The complete world-view types are more honest, but reveal themselves and socialism to be bonkers. The pot shotters are saner, but don't really have a viable alternative. Gray is a pot-shotter.
Don't go away with the idea that I didn't like the book. On the contrary, it was quirky and well crafted.
Katherine said, 'It's a divergent infinite series, so the question doesn't have an answer'. I was impressed!
My brother and Jonathan both came up with practical objections, my brother saying, 'You'd fuse the light!'.
Bill said, 'You can't do an infinite number of things in a finite time, so it could never happen'.
[Correction from bill: '.....if time is infinitely divisible, then you never reach the end point (1 minute), so the issues never arises. ......']
My answer was to say that the universe is digital, so there aren't an infinite number of states the universe can be in.
What do you think?
Btw, the rest of the book is equally thought provoking. Recommended. Interesting parallels with Freedom Evolves.
I instinctively disagree with this. Thinking further, there are two reasons for disagreeing:
1. The issues that David is talking about are political problems rather than scientific problems. The solution to many of these problems is a world government, not a change in funding priorities.
2. Once you have good government, then science and technology is important to people's quality of life. With fundamental research, you never know where it's going to lead. Often there are practical applications that result. For example, would David have cut research into quantum mechanics? If so, he would have damaged the computer industry, and I wouldn't have been able to read his views on the BBC website, or be able to post this response.
When I saw Camus' The Plague at the library I pounced. The plague is obviously a metaphor for Nazism, and the resistance against the plague is the French resistance, which Camus was involved in. As I've said before I avoid allegory and metaphor like the plague. So I read it as if it were a real plague in a real town. The character I identified with was Cottard. I was a bit worried therefore when he went mad at the end and started shooting at people. Cottard actually liked the plague because it meant that for the first time, he was in the same boat as everyone else.
There was something else I meant to say, but it escapes me. Anyway, I've got to go and clean the house as I've got people coming round. See you soon.
So, for holiday reading in France I thought JT should be amongst my books. I never used to understand what was meant by 'comfort food' but now I think that JT is the reading equivalent of comfort food.
The Men And The Girls was an easy and enjoyable read. An Aga saga, it's a tale of everyday life, and the inner lives of the characters, skillfully told by JT. Once thing I wondered was: why did they all put up with Leonard's bad behaviour?
I cheered was when Leonard and Beatrice agreed that there was very little to be said for old age.
The later chapters of Dennet's book were more convincing than the first chapters, but the book was interesting all the way through. Dennet tried to convince me that even in a deterministic universe, things can be avoided, and the important features of free-will are preserved. I just couldn't go along with this argument. Surely, in a deterministic world, all events are pre-determined, and one doesn't really have freedom of choice.
The later chapters give a multiverse approach to crime and punishment. I really liked this idea. It says that if most of the nearby universes lead to a particular event, you shouldn't be held responsible for it. However, if there are thick clumps of universes nearby that don't lead to that event, then you can be said to be responsible. In other words, if you had done things a bit differently the thing wouldn't have happened.
Dennet doesn't call it a 'multiverse approach', and he doesn't describe it as I have, this is just my take on it.
With all this free will stuff going on in my mind, my interest was piqued by an article on determinism and subatomic particles. DDC has convinced me that indeterminism does not necessarily imply free will. This article seems to conflate the two.
Hello,I sent this on 16th August, no reply yet...
In France, jars of chocolate spread, mustard etc, are often designed so that you can re-use them as drinking-glasses when the contents are used up.
This seems like a good idea, so I was wondering why we don't take this approach in the UK? Perhaps jars are more expensive to manufacture if they are designed to be re-used.
I plan to publish this enquiry, and your response, on my blog. Let me know if that isn't okay with you.
Thanks for your help with this query,
This was a morally complex batman film. I saw it as an allegory of the 'war on terror' / war in Iraq, with The Joker as Osama Bin Laden and Batman as the US military.
The issue of torture arose, in the classic situation of a person refusing to say where the ticking bomb is. Batman resorted to torture, like water-boarding carried out by the US. I listened to The Moral Maze on torture, and was horrified to find myself agreeing that it was right to use it in certain circumstances. I can't remember the reasoning and if someone asked me now, I'd say torture is never justified.
Another part of the war on terror is surveillance. In The Dark Knight, batman hacks into everyone's mobile phone and builds up a sonar picture of the city.
Even the cold war comes into this film! In an analogy of the cold war, each ship can destroy the other at the touch of a button. To have the best chance of surviving, it's rational to press the button straight away.
Fate has ordained that the problem of free will occupy my mind. Batman has to choose between saving the life of the woman he loves, or the life of the man he believes can save the city from crime. Is his choice determined from the beginning of the universe, and even if not, does he have any real control over his choice?
It's a great film, but for me the moral choices are clear. Batman shouldn't go around breaking the law, he should respect it like any other citizen, no exceptions. Equally, the UK / US shouldn't have undertaken an illegal war against Iraq.
I think they may meet their match with Hannah and Charlotte, with whom I play 4x4 Boggle on Facebook. On average they get about 3x my score.
I want to play Body Boggle, which is a combination of Twister and Boggle. I might make a Body Boggle mat. Does anybody want to play it?
In France, jars can be used as glasses once the contents have been used up. This saves money, and is also less harmful to the environment than recycling the jars.
I might see if Matt Prescott would be interested in starting a campaign...
...stick your mobile in a bag with rice (uncooked) apparently the rice will absorb the water!!!I didn't have to try it, as the phone suddenly started working all by itself. There were loads of messages and stuff, and I felt super-popular!
I hopped from the bank to a rock, lost my footing and landed up standing in a shallow part of the stream. I got onto another rock, then tried to wade across. I again lost my footing, but it was a deep part of the stream so I had to start swimming in the fast flowing water. I made it to the other side, but it was foolhardy to take the risk of crossing.
My mobile got waterlogged, and it's stopped working. I'm sure it'll get going again once it's dried out.
The view from Col de St Genest:
Set out from la maison through the forest. Stopped at Saint-Barthelemy-Grozon for a Kronenbourg, and watched Pekin 2008. Here's the house as one sees it when emerging from the forest:
If you get the ball in the hoop, it counts as getting it in the hole. This is the approach to the same hole.
The flag is just to the right of the tree in the centre. A divagation: the pylon in the top right hand corner supplies the house with electricity. A couple of days ago it was struck by lightening in a thunder storm (I was cooking a barbecue outside at the time) and the circuit breaker tripped and left the house without electricity.
Oh, and I won the game of golf.
Yesterday at the house, the pressure of the water supply lessened. I followed the pipe to its source in a stream. The problem was that the level of the stream had dropped below the level of the pipe, so no water was getting in. Charles and I dug a depression in the stream bed so the end of the pipe would be under water. This is how it looked after we had finished:
There's a storage tank half way down the hill, so there's always water when you need it:
I've also been reading The Biographer's Tale. I remember enjoying Possession and so thought that another A.S. Byatt would be good. The Tale is a rather literary book, about literary people. I kept thinking the protagonist was a woman, even though he was actually a man.
I'm writing to you from France. Stay tuned for a picture story of sludge being excavated!
I now put this to everyone I meet:
By 2023, more cars will be driven by computers than by humans.
Everyone's disagreed so far. Including Toby, Jess and Janos at work. And Bill and Doug.
Please add a comment saying if you agree or disagree.
For me at that time, LW in his life and work gave me an alternative, a chink of light in the gloom. I had been brought up a Christian, but was learning science at school. Prayer, souls, miracles, heaven and hell didn't feature in physics.
The problem was that my entire world view depended on Christianity, and was being undermined by science. I was psychologically incapacitated for about a year and a half while I wrestled with this relentless doubt.
In the end I realized that science and Christianity were incompatible, and that current science offered the best explanation for how the world worked. I started to describe myself as an atheist.
LW was important to me because he was a scientist who seemed to offer some hope. I'm a bit embarassed to admit to having had a hero, but Lyall Watson was a hero to me.
Whereas MS-Windows has a 'Program Files' directory with a sub-directory for each application, Ubuntu stores application files across the file-system according to type, eg. /etc, /var/log, /bin. I find the Windows approach much easier to work with. The Ubuntu method means it takes much longer to find where things are. For log files it may be easy, but where is the webapps directory for apache-tomcat?
power = 293 * 1.38 * 10^-23 * ln 2 * 2 * 10^9 * 5 * 10^9
~ 0.01 W
we can times this by 100 because k*ln 2 is just the theoretical minimum that can never be reached.
~ 1 W
So with Moore's law, this limit will become increasingly significant.
I've no idea if this calculation is correct, I just made it up to prove my own point! Can someone correct me please?
The parties themselves are very varied in the information they provide. The Conservatives had quite a long piece on their candidate, and a useful list of by-elections. The Liberal Democrats had nothing, and neither did the greens.
Please correct me if you know different.
Who am I going to vote for? I'd like to reward the Conservatives for actually communicating with the electorate, but I'll probably vote Liberal Democrat.
I remember everyone talking about The Beach, and then there was the film and the song. I never seemed to read the book or see the film, but I heard Pure Shores on the radio quite a bit. My brother had the book and said it was good, but I remained a bit of a grumpy skeptic.
I then heard about Alex Garland having writer's block. Is this true? This actually pushed me slightly in the direction of reading TB. Then it somehow came up in conversation with Anita at work. She said it was one of her favourite books, she brought it in.
It really is enjoyable, and a bit shocking. Shades of Lord of the Flies perhaps? The protagonist is not someone I'd be friends with in real life. The narrator presents the tale as an allegory of the Vietnam war. I think Thomas Hobbes would have regarded it as a story of what happens to people in 'the state of nature' when there's no Leviathan. Or perhaps Sal is the Leviathan. You've got me confused now.
Let's move on to the Animated film Akira. Surely I can't go wrong with a cartoon. Can I? My highlight is when the hero has hallucinations. I don't think I've ever had an actual hallucination, but it seemed like you could show that bit of the film to people to give them an idea of what it's like to have a mental illness that grotesquely distorts reality.
Now I've got to return the book to Anita, and it's in a poor state after being carried round in my bag for ages. Hope she's okay about that...
Hello, my friend has a day/night meter and gets cheap electricity at night. I've just got a single rate meter and so can't take advantage of the cheap electricity. I'm an existing Good Energy customer. What are my options?
So my plan is to rent out my garden as an allotment, through the district council. Apparently there's a shortage of allotments, and the district council already has a scheme set up. I'll let you know what happens.
I'm giving this the CO2 footprint label because:
- I wouldn't have to mow the back garden every week, which causes CO2 emissions.
- Food grown locally should be less CO2 intensive.
The other reasons why I installed a water softener are:
- I intend to install solar water heating, and I don't want its heat exchanger to be impaired by limescale.
- Less time cleaning the bathroom, and no money to spend on anti-limescale cleaners.
- The washing machine and other appliances should last longer. In my previous house the loo stopped working because of limescale building up!
Regular readers (hey don't snigger, there's at least one actually) will remember I talked about getting a magnetic water softener ages ago. I decided against that because although I think they can work in some situations, I wanted something that would definitely work for me.
File file = new File(fileName).getAbsoluteFile();
File file = new File(fileName);
Thanks to Jesse Pelton for reporting this bug.
- The response-code element was missing from the
DTD, so that's been added in.
- Now supports the PUT method.
- Can set and check HTTP headers.
- Added a body-file attribute to the request element which allows the request body to be retrieved from a file. There's a new example that shows this.
Removed 'enctype' attribute from the request element. If there's no body-file attribute, the content type is inferred. If there is a body-file attribute the content type can be set explicitly using a header element.
This exemplifies many of the qualities of dM's writing:
- The ability to create an air of the supernatural, but without anything supernatural actually happening. She never weakens her story by descending into supernatural explanations.
- Insightful portrayals of male characters. I go as far as to say that dM is better at writing about men than women.
- Great clarity of writing, including when writing about mysterious things. dM uses precise language and acute observation to convey emotions and an atomosphere that are subtle and elusive.
...I had all the same comforts - cans of hot water, early tea, biscuits by my bed, cigarette box filled, all the touches of a thoughtful hostess.The Apple Tree
I just didn't know what to make of this. Can someone help me and tell me what to think? Is he or his wife the baddie?
The Little Photographer
So convincingly rendered that I felt like I had committed the murder. It's funny, you hear a lot about computer games encouraging criminality, but you rarely hear Daphne du Maurier cited as a corrupter of the young.
Kiss Me Again, Stranger
Okay, well at least continue reading.
The Old Man
Genuinely surprised and delighted by this. I won't go into it 'cause I'll spoil it for you if you haven't read it. This story really stayed with me. Actually that's another thing about dM. She shows exquisite judgement in controlling the release of information as a story progresses. So much so that I'm sure that if you re-read one of her stories it would seem new.
Tony - how do you as a fan of the free market address this issue - bankrupting farmer seems to be a structure consequence of your favoured global free markets?...DaveDave went on to give his view:
Free markets are a way to make a society as a whole richer. It doesn't mean that wealth will be distributed equally. If you want a more equal distribution of wealth, you have to tax rich people more, and give everyone a 'citizen's allowance'.Basically the green revolution has bankrupted all the rice farmers in Thailand, and I guess the same pattern is repeated worldwide.
Much as the banks have bankrupted middle class people in the West, capitalism has done the same for poor farmers throughout the world, whereas they feed most people and are the most productive.
In Thailand, the fact that the middle men, the rice dealers and the millers are all chums with the politicians who allow them to bankrupt the rice farmers even while food prices are at an all time high, is openly discussed in the English newspapers in Thailand.
The same thing happens in the West but it is openly discussed.
Regarding agriculture, this seems to be an inevitable consequence of many indfidually weak farmers, who can be preyed about but a much smaller cartel of rice dealers.
The only way the Thai farmers have got the promise of a fair deal is to threaten to blockade all the major roads.
In Thailand the free market has worked, in that the country is getting richer. Richer doesn't mean happier of course. I could make more money if I had a second job stacking shelves in Tesco's, but I prefer to forgo the money and spend the time arguing with you, oh joy!
You talk about cartels of middle-men, but if these exist there isn't a fully free market. The government needs to improve regulation to break the cartels. You say that the politicians are unduly influenced by the middle-men. This is exactly what Adam Smith warns about in The Wealth of Nations. I'm afraid the only way round this is for individuals to campaign, unite, protest, denounce and vote! To paraphrase Jefferson; the price of (market) freedom is eternal vigilance.
We were shown a series of maps of America; one for each year from the early 90s to today, showing the level of obesity. It showed a dramatic increase. Much of the talk focussed on how to engineer food to taste fatty but not cause weight gain. Apparently we sense fat by its consistency rather than its taste.
The speaker did point out a problem with such food, in that anorexics might eat nothing but that type of food, when in fact they need more fat in their diet.
Let's assume that levels of CO2 are okay up to 450 ppm. Since there's an upper limit, it means we've got to use the CO2 emissions we're allowed, to their best effect. Perhaps UK air travel is the best way to use some of our permitted emissions? Or perhaps not.
The way to enforce a CO2 limit while making sure the emissions are used most wisely, is to raise the global cost of emissions through a carbon tax until the permitted level of CO2 is reached. The revenue from such a tax should be distributed equally amongst the world's population.
Then the climate change aspect of airport expansions is taken out of the equation, problem solved!
Retire 100% of the ROCsToby at work showed me the Energy Watch comparison of how different tariffs treat ROCs and LECs. I would retire 100% of the ROCs and LECs. I realize that this would mean that the tariff would be very expensive, but hey, it's green!
Wireless MetersIn the UK most domestic electricity meters are manually read by a person in a van. A less carbon intensive method is to have wireless meters that are like a mobile phone stuck to an electricity meter. The meter is read by a computer ringing up the meter.
Half-hourly metersElectricity is cheapest at night, and most expensive in the evening. I should be able to set my dishwasher to come on at one o'clock in the morning and pay half the amount! I can't at the moment because my meter can't tell the difference between night and day, and I bet yours can't either. A half-hourly meter measures the amount of electricity used every half hour. Good Energy should install a HH meter in one's house.
While looking at App Engine, it seemed that one of its limitations is that the datastore doesn't support complex queries. It's a big constraint when one is used to SQL. Having said that, I love the fact that it supports Python and the whole thing seems really nicely done. When I come do do my next web app, I'll certainly look first at doing it with App Engine.
What sticks in my mind from the talk is the fact that CO2 emissions are proportional to the weight of the car, and inversely proportional to engine efficiency. Engine efficiency has improved enormously over the years, but today's Mini is twice the weight of the original, and I believe the same is true of the Fiesta. The result is that CO2 per km hasn't improved a great deal.
Much of the extra weight is a side effect of making cars a lot safer. Can we have low emissions cars that are safe? Surely we can.
My French friend Pascal gave a cheer when it was revealed that Peugeot / Citroen were the most likely to make low CO2 cars.
My bet for the future is on electric cars. The Tesla Roadster is already comparatively cheap to run, and with oil prices rising, I think the public will gravitate to the electric car.
Incidentally, we now have 188 ids now on Own-Id. As ever, I'm always keen to hear about your experiences with Own-Id.
For testing Own-Id on my local machine, I use the MyId OpenId server which is great because it's so simple to set up, and it uses Digest Authentication which is a RESTful method that makes testing easy. For me, the one problem with MyID is that is uses a META tag to redirect the browser, but I find it easier for testing to have a HTTP 302 redirect, so I modified the source (just a simple change) to achieve this.
Intellectual property. Kurzweil says that as technology progresses, more things become information. This I agree with, but he goes on to say that it is important to protect the information so you have money to create new things. Here he's trying to perpetuate the idea of intellectual property. I believe that information can't be treated as property, and should be released as free content. You may then ask, how do you make the money to build new things? Well, free content is often available for no charge, but most of the inputs to creating knowledge is other knowledge, so substantially less money would be needed. Okay, but where do you get the small amount of money that is necessary? Well, advertising is the popular method. I'm sure Wikipedia could make an enormous amount of money if carried advertising.
Consciousness. I'm pleased that Kurzweil devoted some of the book to the problem of consciousness. Unfortunately nobody understands it yet as far as I can see. I think Kurzweil accepts that it is essential for our post-biological successors to be conscious. So until we understand consciousness and can recreate it artificially, I think it's difficult to make predictions.
The structure of society. Kurzweil quotes Hobbes, 'the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short' to support his case that improved technology leads to a better standard of living. But Hobbes wasn't merely talking about technology, he was describing life in an unstructured society, an anarchy, or what he called 'the state of nature'. Hobbes' point was that for life to improve and for technology to develop, a structured society is needed.
So I'm disappointed that Kurzweil does not realize the importance of the structure of society. Indeed, Kurzweil talks of the military applications of nanotechnology, but this is like our ancestors talking of how in the far future, technology will be used to defend our village from attacks from other villages. Thankfully we have national Leviathans in the form of democratically elected governments that means that each village doesn't have to defend against its neighbouring village. I predict a global Leviathan, a democratically elected world government, so that countries don't have to worry about defending themselves against other countries.
Ender's Game did not disappoint. Perhaps the aim of sci-fi is to combine a brilliant idea with a gripping story. Ender's Game certainly did that, and it's lasting reputation is deserved.
One gripe I have when writing about books and films is that many of them aren't free content. I'm part of the free culture movement. I'm in favour of the idea of property for physical things, but intellectual property is an oxymoron. When you're talking about information, a whole new set of rules apply. You should be able to do anything you like with information; copy it, sell it, modify it, whatever. The only thing you shouldn't be able to do is remove these freedoms.
- Heat Recovery Ventilation. I intend to install this in my house. My question was, 'what if there's a power cut in the night, will everyone asphyxiate?!!'. The feeling was that there'd be enough air in the house for everyone to survive, and then they could simply open a window when they awoke.
- On-site electricity generation. In the Code for Sustainable Homes, there is a bias towards local generation. I'm disappointed in this. It may be more efficient to have a huge distant off-shore wind farm than numerous local turbines. Government should restrict itself to increasing the cost of CO2 pollution through CO2 TaxBack, and leave the detailed choices about generation to the market.
- Grey water recycling. The speaker, an architect, said he used to be skeptical of grey water recycling as he hadn't yet seen it done properly. What changed his mind was the EcoPlay system. This costs about £1,500 and replaces the cistern in the downstairs loo. It fills up with water from the shower / bath upstairs, and then uses it to flush the loo. If the grey water hasn't been used after a certain period, it is discarded to avoid the water going bad.
- Water softerners. I'm about to install a water softener in my house, and I wanted to know whether it was a good idea on environmental grounds. The speaker said he didn't know definitively, but he was installing one in his house for practical reasons.
Some advocate price controls. The problem is that if prices are kept artificially low, the food business won't be so profitable and supply will decrease.
Some say that if your country's people are going hungry, it's madness to be exporting food, so food exports should be banned. The problem is that this depresses prices, which again leads to a decrease in supply.
I think the real problem is that some people are poor. In the UK we actually tax the poor, and I've heard it said that poor people pay more tax as a proportion of their wealth than rich people. All taxes that aren't related to income should be abolished. This includes National Insurance and VAT. How would this be paid for?
- Ending agricultural subsidies
- Legalizing prostitution
- Legalizing drugs.
- Abolishing the national minimum wage.
- Freeing up trade by ending protectionism.
[...] the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) will force fuel companies to include biofuels as part of their fuel mix. [...] 2.5 per cent of all petrol and diesel sold in the UK will come from crops such as palm oil and maize.Here's why RTFO is a bad idea:
Say I take a (diesel) train to work, but I've adapted my house so that it is zero carbon. My neighbour cycles to work but lives in a draughty house. Even if our carbon emissions are the same, our penalties aren't the same. There's a higher price for emitting carbon by burning diesel than for the same emissions from burning gas to heat a house.
Okay, you may concede that the penalties for CO2 emissions aren't the same, but why is that so bad?
In the above example, you could say that I should live like my neighbour (I shouldn't have insulated my house and I should cycle to work) and then I wouldn't be paying a higher CO2 penalty. This would have a detrimental effect on my finances because a local job would be less well paid, and so would be detrimental effect to the economy.
In summary, having unequal penalties for different ways of emitting CO2 is worse for the economy than having single penalty rate for all types of CO2 emissions. Such a single rate system is CO2 TaxBack.
I understand this is his first book, I'm interested to see how his writing develops...
Why oh why BBC, must you continue to use proprietary formats for audio on your website? Please would you switch to an open format such as Ogg / Vorbis without delay.
With an open audio format, anyone can write the software to listen to it, giving your listeners the maximum freedom. Proprietary formats are often opaque and encumbered with patent / copyright restrictions and can tie users in to particular companies.
So come on BBC, unshackle your brilliant content!
I'll let you know their reaction...
The book's about an artificial peak oil scenario. Over the past few year, I've found myself circulating in a milieu of peak oil buffs, and their feeling is that global civilization could well collapse. I disagree.
As oil runs out, its price will increase. This will make alternative sources of energy steadily more attractive, and the world will switch to those.My detractors say, 'Tony, you can't just leave it to the free market. We need government intervention NOW!'.
Well, we'll see who's right...
Oh yes, and the book was gripping.
- Good that one can edit HTML directly, and the editor keeps the HTML exactly as you wrote it.
- Clean design; little extraneous content outside one's own content boxes.
- One can edit the navigation box.
- One can add other boxes (I've added one for the content licence).
Now the jeers:
- One can add sites eg. /mysite but one can't have a top level site. The top site is actually the log-in screen. I think one should be able to create a top-level site. In fact, if I was designing the thing, I'd just have one site.
- It's possible to use one's own domain name, but there are severe limitations. I've set up http://www.tlocke.org.uk/ to point to my site, but this just redirects to the login page. Not much use if you're setting up a site for general internet use.
- Google Sites allows one to to put pages in sub-directories. But one thing we've learnt about wikis is that all pages should be on the top level.
- I always use the HTML editor. So there should be a setting to go straight to HTML view, rather than going through the hassle of entering the editor each time.
- Does funny redirect thing to links.
- I've compiled a general wish-list for things I'd like a wiki to do.
Well there it is.
The poorest people don't own a car, so parking charges don't affect them. If the rich are concerned about parking charges, perhaps they should take the bus?
I personally don't mind being on CCTV for example, and I wouldn't mind my DNA being held on a database. Of course, it cuts both ways. I suspect that one would be thrown out of a shop if one started filming it, and the police probably don't allow people to film them. I support the principle that if they can film you, you should be able to film them.
Anyway, Rand uses the book to promote her philisophy of objectivism. I think that the book is good, and the philosophy is interesting but not something I can really adopt. Rand says that one should always act in one's own self-interest, she abhors altruism. Well, maybe, but then she goes on to elevate the lone genius, and denigrate working as a group. This clashes with my experience of life. I often swap ideas with other people, to mutual benefit. Cooporation, that's the word. She could have kept her idea of selfishness, because cooperation is often the most selfish option.
Does the philosophy work if you're not a genius? Rand doesn't seem to think much of ordinary people, and yet the book is widely read, so we must like her! I think the hero of the story, Roark, has a particular type of personality. In fact I know someone a bit like him. It's possibly not what Rand intended, but the book kind of says it's okay to be like Roark if that's your nature. My opinion is that it was wrong of him to dynamite the building.
Reading the book prompted the question, 'does not being a genius mean you get on with people better?'. Yes, because if you have a technical skill that's very much in demand, you can get by without having to learn how to get on with people.
Donaldson has overturned my prejudices about fantasy books. I wouldn't compare him to Dostoevsky, but Donaldson deals with morality, innocence, guilt and suffering in a sophisticated way.
I've just started on a Malcolm Bradbury. Paddy shook his head when he saw it, saying despairingly, 'Tony, Tony..., that's the sort of book that old people read..'
|Issue||Tom James||Peter Fuller||David McQueen||Me|
|Local post office closures||Opposes||Opposes||I think that this is a commercial decision for the Post Office themselves.|
|Local hospital closure||Opposes||The private sector should compete to provide health care, funded by central government, with patient choice at its heart. In the meantime, I don't know whether it's right to close Trowbridge hospital or not.|
|Doorstep cardboard collection||Supports||Supports||I favour doorstep collection, together with a disposal tax on products. The current administration isn't managing to collect cardboard even at the current collection points.|
|More pedestrian crossings||Supports||Yes, as long as they're zebra crossings.|
|Affordable housing||Supports||Particularly on brownfield sites||I'd like a building area tax.|
|Hilperton Gap||Supports||Supports||I support the preservation of this green space.|
|More school places||Supports||I'd like education to be privatised, but still funded by the state.|
Actually I still don't know for whom I should vote. Okay, let's rule out Fuller because my direct experience of the conservatives' running of the cardboard recycling has been lamentable. Alright, I'll support the Green. I'm against his policy of subsidising public transport though.
I've said to West Wilts District Council:
Almost every time I take our cardboard to the recycling point (the one by Trowbridge College), the container is overflowing. This must mean that cardboard has such a low value that the District Council has to pay someone to remove it. On the other hand, cardboard must have a higher value than general household waste, otherwise there wouldn't be any point in collecting it seperately.
Therefore, by allowing the cardboard recycling bin to overflow, which means residents put cardboard in with the general waste, the District Council is increasing the council tax bill. Is this correct, or am I missing something?
I'll let you know what they say.
The problem we've got is the emission of greenhouse gases. Therefore we should make it more expensive to emit greenhouse gases, preferably using a carbon tax. The two main problems with the FIT are:
- It only affects electricity consumption, which is not the sole cause of CO2 emissions.
- It subsidises a particular solution (renewable electricity).
I believe that it's the job of government to increase CO2 emissions costs, and it's the job of the market to find ways of avoiding those costs (a complex mix of reduction and renewables).
One of the problems was that it took a long time for me to find out that the server was down. I've now set up Montastic to send me an email if the server goes down again, they also provide a web feed of server status. This should mean that if there's another outage, I should know much sooner.
There remains the problem of finding the memory leak. I'll let you know how I get on!
Someone asked, 'what's the story?'. As I started to explain, I realized there were big gaps in my understanding (this happens a lot). My friend Jonathan has read the book and has a better grasp of these things than me, and set me straight on a few points.
The other question people ask is, 'what does the last bit mean?'. It seems to be aliens communicating with the human, and trying to find a common visual language. In short, I don't know what it means.
Each scene of the entire film is exquisitely shot; visually a pleasure. It's funny how much 2001 looks like the 60s though!
The film has an intermission. An intermission! Bring back intermissions.
Some complain that, 'the UK doesn't have an energy policy', or 'energy is too important to be left to the free market'. I think that the UK is doing absolutely the right thing in having a free market for electricity. There are two genuine problems in energy at the moment, peak fossil fuels and climate change.
With peak fossil fuels our free market means we're well placed to deal with the problem. As fossil fuels run out, their price will increase. As they increase, two things will happen: more renewable generation will become profitable and usage of fossil fuels will decrease. From Adam Smith we know that both of these will happen in such a way as to maximise the UK's wealth.
Unfortunately, peak fossil fuels won't happen soon enough to avoid climate change, and so we need a carbon tax. A tax on carbon doesn't mean we'll be abandoning our free market.
So back to the original question of nuclear power; this is simply the market working as it should and delivering the best bet in the long and short term.
By the way, I think the companies are mad to build nuclear power stations because:
1. Uranium is running out (peak uranium).
2. Other technologies are improving and look like they'll be more profitable than nukes, when you take into account the huge costs of building and decommissioning and storage of waste.
However, I could be wrong and it's their money they're wasting! And this illustrates the benefit of free markets; it doesn't depend on a single person or institution having all the answers.
Own-Id fact: there are now 88 OpenIds on Own-Id.
I've always avoided fantasy subsequently. Gnomes and wizards just seem silly. I've never got on with Terry Pratchett or Harry Potter books.
It was by mistake that I picked up The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson at Bath Central Library a few weeks ago. I thought it was sci-fi, but then saw it was fantasy. Ahhh!
On the cover it said it was a classic from the 70s and for some reason that appealed to me. I know you shouldn't go by covers, but I do. The Chronicles is a trilogy, and I've finished the first book, Lord Foul's Bane. It was great! I like the central character, a reluctant hero. An anti-hero I suppose. The Donaldson dude uses a lot of unusual words; can I have the book in electronic form so that I can click on a word and see its definition please?