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Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Mandela News The Media Won't Report Though It Shows His Nobility

      The broadcast media are still, after 2 days making the death of a 95 year old 3rd world politician the almost the only news in the entire world (C4 news last night apologised for having to give 30 seconds out of an hour to reporting the World Cup draw). For more than they did for Thatcher & infinitely more obsequiously. Objectively Thatcher us far more important to the world let alone in Britain.

       My contribution is I have decided to link to this post by Steve Sailer with something you are definitely not going to hear from any "official" MSM source. Indeed I will submit it as  letter to the nation's press to prove that statement.

     It shows the essential decency, love of country and freedom nobility he had.

     It also shows a degree of Machiavellian ruthlessness and disbelief in democracy, which allowed him to do the right thing when the plaster saint the media are erecting could never have done it.

     Also that real politics, behind the scenes, is not remotely as simple and black and white as what we, the audience, are shown by the "mainstream media":

You may vaguely recall that the first open election in South Africa in 1994 was accompanied by huge lines at the polling booths and scenes of chaos at vote-counting centers. The media predicted it might take weeks to tabulate all the ballots. Then, almost instantly, the final, official results were announced, with no one objecting that that was logistically impossible.

Several years later, The Economist explained what happened: The vote counting was indeed chaotic and looked to go on indefinitely, but early returns conclusively showed Mandela's African National Congress winning a crushing victory that would give it the 2/3rd's majority needed to write the new constitution all by itself. So, Mandela called together the leaders of opposition parties and told them he was rigging the results to restrict his own party to about 5/8ths of the seats so that the new constitution would require some support from other parties to pass. He also gave local control of the Cape province to the white-led party and the KwaZulu province to the Zulu party. Not surprisingly, the opposition was deeply grateful and while many within the ANC were angry, they could hardly overrule Mandela.

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Friday, December 06, 2013

Brian's Big Debate in Airdrie

   Yesterday I got an email from the BBC inviting me to the audience of "Brian's Big Debate" in Airdrie.

     It appears Airdrie is not a hotbed of political forment (it is Labour). Of the 52 in the audience 36 were classes of schoolchildren bussed in. There was me and 15 other adults.

     The guests were 3 woman MSPs from the LabNatCon party and a professor of political correctness called Alan Miller. Britain's 3rd party still censored as with Question Time.

     4 items under discussion - the first introduced by Big Brian and the others, questions from the schoolkids which they may have had some help with.

  1 - Wasn't Nelson Mandela wonderful. You don't need me to say what everybody said. One member of the audience spoke and then Brian browbeat the local minister to speak, after trying and failing to get anybody any other participants. I kept quiet because I didn't feel the need to raise waves and am glad I did reading Jerry Pournelle on the subject

"RIP: Nelson Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa. The transition from apartheid to integration has not been entirely peaceful, but it never rose to civil war, and if South Africa still has a chance of emerging as a civilized society and nation it is due to him. He could have been a dictator. Instead he was a President"

He wrote both better and with more grace than I would have.
I am annoyed that our media have been cancelling programmes and devoting the entire news to hagiography because of a news flash that a foreign, unwell 95 year old had unexpectedly died. The BBC did not do so much for Thatcher who, even if we weren't British, was more important.

2- The possibility of changing the law that requires some sort of corroboration before somebody can be convicted. This was also one of the subjects chosen last time I was at the "Debate" though that time it was not allegedly chosen by a 13 year old.

The reason this time is that a couple of police bodies have reversed themselves and joined the SNP "consensus", Margaret Mitchell, the Tory speaker made a very good point that that looks suspiciously like kowtowing now that Scotland's police have been all brought under one central authority - in Edinburgh.

   I agreed with her on that and that it is very dangerous to a free society when rules of evidence are being removed purely to make convictions easier for one politically promoted charge (ie rape).

   On a second go Mitchell suggested several other changes in evidence which would work without so much of a problem (hearsay & similar previous crimes).

   I tried for another go to answer Miller blaming low rape convictions on "prejudice". I had intended to point out that defending solicitors normally prefer women on the jury since they are less likely to get all protective of the alleged victim, but I wasn't asked.

3 - Was about the rise in pension age. Obviously a lot of the normal about how "they" were just trying to save money. I said "The problem, and it isn't really a problem, is that we are all living longer. Over the last century life expectancy has gone up by 1 year for every 4 that passes and pensions must take account of that. Indeed before most of this audience have reached retirement age we will have made medicinal advances that will mean they can live indefinitely. So the whole question of pensions is going to be made obsolete.

4 - The PISA scores in which Scotland has done marginally better on reading and maths than England and marginally worse on science but the entire UK has slipped to mid-twentieth. The debaters all agreed that things could be better but at least we were ahead of the English.

I said "Scots politicians should be ashamed of this. For 700 years Scots have been better educated than the English, often the best in the world. Our role in the Enlightenment proves that.

We have now done marginally better than England on 2 classes but we actually spend quite a bit more per head. Worse than that - we have done worse than England in science. Scotland and Switzerland place first in the world in terms of scientific citations per capita - the best measure we have of scientific pre-eminence. Our politicians should be deeply ashamed of this failure."

I should have shoehorned in "as a member of UKIP I know there are a number of reforms that could improve the situation though they would not perform miracles and anyway they won't get discussed on the BBC" but we are all wise in hindsight. Improvements would be a voucher scheme; firing the 10% worst teachers since quality of teachers is far more important than class sizes; allowing discipline in schools; not wasting time and pupil's respect by teaching propaganda like CAGW; reinstating grammar schools; and prizes for top performers of which only 4 are actual UKIP policy.

However had I said that I might have put off a contribution from the kid who asked the question. He said that a problem was that it is difficult to learn when other kids are allowed to fool around in classes. I appreciate his problem. It is not in any way "liberal" or "caring" of kids not to allow discipline in schools. I'm not sure how bad things are but if the pupils are openly complaining they must be bad.

On the way out the producer singled me out and thanked me for my contributions. I must agree they were far and away the best from the audience. This desperation to get an audience is interesting though not desperate enough to try anything people want.
PS I should, for comparison, have given the question I posed which the BBC decided should not be asked, under any circumstances, even when there were zero questions (or zero usable ones) from any adult.

".Scotland's central belt has massive shale gas resources. The SNP are bringing in tougher rules to prevent it being exploited. Meanwhile Grangemouth refinery is going to be saved by bringing in shale gas drilled in the USA, where it costs 1/4 of what our gas does. Is this equivalent to carrying coal to Newcastle?"

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Shettleston By Election

    The Shettleston by election result. 4th place puts us well ahead of the LudDums and, as always, the Greens. 3rd would have been wonderful but beating those 2 is well worth it. This ward was always a certainty for Labour so winning was never an issue, what matters is the trend. What we did manage was to put more people on the ground than the Tories - basically, as a party their members are averaging about 80, and I suspect their voters aren't much younger.  

Name of CandidatePolitical PartyElectedVotes
Martin NEILLScottish Labour Party Yes202653.56%
Laura DOHERTYScottish National Party (SNP) 108628.71%
Raymond MCCRAEScottish Conservative and Unionist Party2245.92%
Arthur Misty THACKERAYUKIP1293.41%
Jamie COCOZZAScottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition681.80%
James SPEIRSScottish Liberal Democrats 53

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

How To Choose Which Technology Prizes To Fund - Ask The Customers

        For an excessively long time I have been promoting X-Prizes as the most effective way of encouraging technological progress (by ensuring the rewards to innovation are likely to be closer to proportionally as good as from the other factors of production.

        At one stage, purely as a way of saving tax money, I suggested, as part of my 24 point programme for world class growth, that providing a greater tax allowance than normal charitable donations get could do that.

18 - Beyond an official technology prizes foundation (#12) mainly orientated on space technology, the government should give extensive tax relief for any privately funded technology prizes. Prizes mean that though government can choose to have winners, simply by putting up enough prizes, they don't have to try to pick the winners in advance as grant funding does. Private prizes have the additional benefit that people thinking outside the traditional government "box" can come up with ideas & promote them. This is less important for space development where the technological challenges are mainly engineering & the problems well understood. By comparison pure science prizes, like the M-Prize whose importance to aging research cannot easily be underestimated, has achieved repeated successes with funding which government would consider insufficient to carry as pocket change.

19 - Adopt as an aim that 2% of our GNP should be available for these private & public X-Prizes. Most of this could come from a reduction in grants, it would certainly lead to a far more than 2% increase in GNP (probably much more than a 2% increase in the annual rate of GNP growth) & would do far more for British status worldwide & long term security than the 3% of GNP spent on the military. The evidence is that prizes are 30-100 times as cost effective as the normal government grants & advance payments. If they don't produce results obviously no prize is awarded so that is infinitely more cost effective :-)

        At the time I saw this as a second best option because ordinary multi-millionaires, putting up prizes might insist on their prizes being for technological achievements different from the space ones I wished for (& expected government to obediently support).

       In this exchange on comments Mike Haseler's Scottish Sceptic site he made this point which has made me reverse my opinion. Getting the ideas for X-Prizes from one central source, even such wise ones as myself or the government, is not as good as drawing them from a widespread mass of potential customers as prizes funded by individuals would be.

     Scottish Sceptic says:    

I remember when I first entered industry. Timex in Dundee had this massive manufacturing plant, but they saw the real money went to the equipment designers. So when I started I was put into their answer: an R&D department which was created to “think up good ideas” for products.

At the time, being a wet behind the ears physics/electronics graduate that seemed a very sensible idea. But very soon I began to realise that all we were doing was “inventing” products which the nerdy people in R&D thought we wanted … or worse stereotypical ideas of what other people wanted.

I even introduced the revolutionary idea of … asking shop workers what they thought about our products designed for them … and the reply was not very complementary … but by then it was too late to change much.

From this experience I learnt that successful companies need real customers … they need demanding customers who are willing and able to communicate with the design staff – because only that way does the company produce goods which will sell.

What has happened in UK science, is that the necessary customer in industry has been eliminated, and now we have nerds in academia trying to second guess what commerce and industry would want if there was any to take up and use their research.

And instead, now the politicians have become the customer … and so research is more and more pushing political viewpoints and has less and less economic benefit.

neilfutureboy says:    

That post encourages my ever unflagging enthusiasm for X-Prizes. Specifically that prizes, if suggested by potential customers (which includes us all) would be not only a financial driver of innovation but would drive it in a useful direction.

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Positively Against Positive Feedback

John Brignell makes an interesting point about the climate alarmists'  claims about positive feedback:

It is the vital secret ingredient that is difficult for most people to understand. It is therefore more valuable to the computer-aided conjurer than all the smoke. mirrors and props are to the stage magician.
Feedback is a potent component of system design, creation and description. Within certain restrictions, negative feedback reduces gain and is a stabilising mechanism, while positive feedback increases gain and can lead to autonomous instability. We recently noted that the climate alarmists had almost exclusively concentrated on proposing mechanisms of the positive sort. In fact, both the theory and the modelling on which climate alarmism is based are highly dependent on the selection of putative positive feedback mechanisms and the corresponding relative diminution of negative ones.
Even the some of the simplest of digital computer models defy convenient forms of stability analysis: it is so easy for such systems to include non-linearity, memory, thresholds etc. We are then reduced to testing with simple trial input signals (such as pulse or step). The warmist modellers are so secretive that we do not know what tests, if any, have been applied. The simplest explanation of the common behaviour of the climate models is that they are all inherently unstable, yielding a ramp-like output, almost regardless of input. Ancient modellers, especially those who go as far back as the days of analogue computers, will be familiar with such behaviour in erroneous models of the real world.
Forty years ago, we were trying to teach students not to pre-load computer models with assumptions based their own prejudices, which would predetermine the outcome. Now, professors are doing just that and thereby achieving world fame. Appropriate point for a timely repetition ...
     I would go a bit further.
     Negative feedback is a common feature of any complex mechanical system. It simple means that when the machine is getting outside its safe design parameters it activates some system of returning it to normal. A valve on a steam engine which opens at a particular pressure is one such.
      It also applies to living systems. I once gave this lecture to a doctor who said "You're talking about endocrinology", which I hadn't known.
      It should also be applied to social systems - which is why I like the US constitutional respect for "checks and balances". This is also part of why free speech and democracy are good things - in a dictatorship if things go wrong nobody but the dictator can change it and has no incetive to admit getting anything wrong, indeed they have an incentive to suppress any voice of sanity, whereas in a democracy voters notice (moreso when free speech prevails) and there is the pressure to fix it. That is why, in a democracy with free speech any really destructive doctrine will quickly fail.
      Whereas where there are overwhelming barriers to new parties as in Brtain today & the USSR under Stalin (where new parties are disenfranchised by a corrupt electoral system or shot respectively) and state ownership of the media, destructive lunacies which have ideological approval (catastrophic warming & Lysenkoism respectively) become rigidly enforced. Indeed once they have become official truth and the governing class is sufficiently isolated rom reality, a positive feedback system develops.
      In machinery there is a technical name for a device designed to use positive feedback. A bomb. In nature positive feedback occurs in forest fires and avalanches (at least until they run out of wood or snow). In medicine it is known as cancer.
      You get the point. This ought to be a guiding principle in establishing any political governing system. Fire and government are dangerous servants and the latter is the more dangerous. The Norse understood this when they made Loki (Fire) the smartest but most untrustworthy of their gods.
      And so back to climate science.
      The climate alarmists claim positive feedback is dominant in the runaway warming they threaten. CO2 rise, they claim, will cause temperature rises of about 0.5C to 1 degree but "climate forcings" will multiply that by any number they feel like. No evidence of that has ever been produced - it is simply part of their computer models.
       Any system governed by positive feedback is, as demonstrated, inherently unstable. But we have had climate on this planet for 4,500 million years and never once seen a runaway greenhouse effect. There have been periods of cooling - once with the planet completely or almost completely covered in ice which means there may be a net positive feedback effect from cooling (more ice means more sunlight reflected into space).
        But with 4,500 million years without a heating explosion it is simply impossible that climate feedback on heating can be positive. It can be neutral, in which case we will get that 0.5-1C warming but odds are better in it being somewhere on the negative axis which means less, perhaps much less, than that.

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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Glasgow Helicopter Crash - Did People Die Because They Weren't Rescued - Again

From Sky:

"John McGarrigle has been waiting since Friday for news of his father, also called John, who was inside the Clutha pub when the police helicopter crashed into it.

He told Sky News: "I'm extremely angry my dad is lying in there.

"I was told last night that (the building) would not be getting touched (and that) no bodies were being taken out.....
Helicopter crash
The wreckage of the helicopter has been lifted clear of the Clutha pub
"What about the dignity for the human beings underneath that police helicopter? If they've got one out, they can get the rest out."

Mark O'Prey was last seen in the Clutha bar on Friday night by a friend who went outside for a cigarette moments before the tragedy.

His worried family told Sky News they are frustrated at the inability to get information about their loved one.....
"Here we are two days later and he's still inside.
Ian O'Prey
Ian O'Prey says he is desperate for information on his missing son Mark
"I would hope he would do the same for me if I was lying in that pub. I'd like some answers, not (to be) fobbed off."

David Goodhew, of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said  ......"We have got to dig slowly. The building is in such an unstable condition."

      Has the delay in searching for survivors cost lives. Nobody can say for sure but it is certainly possible.

      Nor is this the first time. Alison Hume died from a survivable fall purely because the fire service not only refused to get her out but even orevented a civilian rescue - "‘Some people have said to me that if the same thing happened again, they wouldn’t even phone 999 – they would get a rope and do the rescue themselves".

      Some years ago I denounced this behaviour in a case even closer to this crash.

      In May 2004 the Stockline plastics factory blew up a few hundred yards in the other direction (busy neighbourhood) & again on seeing it I was surprised how slowly the work of searching for people know to be buried was going. ( bodies were recovered over the next few days & it was known that several of them were alive after the explosion because they called for help on their mobile phones. The search went slowly because the authorities were unwilling to risk killing people if the debris moved. Would more people have survived if the authorities had been willing to take a few more risks to save lives?

I don't know for sure but I do know it is a question that does not get asked & it should be.

       That explosion was a couple of hundred yards from where I live and I can confirm seeing the site and being horrified at the total lack of movement when there were known to be living people under the rubble.

        At the time I wrote to a number of newspapers & broadcasters but, the Scottish media being what it is, neither letters nor news on the subject was allowed. If it had been things might have improved.

       I will be sending a letter closely based on this. We will see if it is something the media allow this time.

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Monday, December 02, 2013

UKIP Scotland & The Herald

    The Herald have a story about UKIP Scotland which I have no intention of directly commenting on.

    The journalistic integrity of the Herald can be determined by their attitude to censorship. The article has a long string of online comments by LabNatConDems but none by UKIPers. For balance I put this post:

Since the Herald absolutely refuses to report UKIP's policies and statements, or even to publish readers letters which disagree with the government paid PR flacks whose letters attacking UKIP are regularly featured, it is hardly surprising the Herald have no clue what is going on.
UKIP supports a referendum on the EU (unlike the SNP who are committed to no independence and no referendum to even let the people decide)
UKIP are opposed to separation.
UKIP are the only party not openly committed to ever rising electricity prices. Indeed we are committed to much lower ones without all the windmillery.
UKIP want to roll back the smoking ban.
UKIP oppose unlimited immigration
UKIP want less nanny statism
UKIP want a growing economy - the rest of the world is growing at an average of 6% a year while the EU is in recession
UKIP want popular referenda as a legal right
UKIP want to end fuel poverty, the only party that do
UKIP want to cut government waste/fraud like the £2,300 million spent on the Forth bridge when every politician knows it could have been done for £300m
UKIP aren't trying to frighten people into obedience by saying they see catastrophic global warming outside the window
UKIP are the only party that don't want the media controlled by the state
UKIP are the only party that haven't lied to the electors.
  If anybody likes more than 50% of these they are UKIP supporters because NONE of the other parties support the above.  
   Unsurpurisingly it has been censored.
   I take this as indicative. That under no circumstances will the Herald ever publish anything from anybody in UKIP unless it can twisted or edited, dishonestly, to attack UKIP.


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Sunday, December 01, 2013

The disease of ‘public health’

    This is an interesting article from Christopher Snowden on Spiked.:

An abridged list of policies that have been proposed in the name of ‘public health’ in recent months includes: minimum pricing for alcohol, plain packaging for tobacco, a 20 per cent tax on fizzy drinks, a fat tax, a sugar tax, a fine for not being a member of a gym, graphic warnings on bottles of alcohol, a tax on some foods, subsidies on other foods, a ban on the sale of hot food to children before 5pm, a ban on anyone born after the year 2000 ever buying tobacco, a ban on multi-bag packs of crisps, a ban on packed lunches, a complete ban on alcohol advertising, a ban on electronic cigarettes, a ban on menthol cigarettes, a ban on large servings of fizzy drinks, a ban on parents taking their kids to school by car, and a ban on advertising any product whatsoever to children.

Doubtless many of the proponents of these policies identify themselves as ‘liberals’. We must hope they never lurch towards authoritarianism.....

The issue of risk should also be viewed from the right end of the telescope. In a society in which almost everybody willingly puts themselves at risk, those who attempt to lead lives of ascetic self-denial should be regarded as curious outliers. They have every right to pursue extreme longevity if that is their wish, but they have no right to bully and cajole those of us who prefer the good life into emulating them. Whether they are well-intentioned do-gooders, sly charlatans or malevolent bigots, they must be tolerated in a civilised society, but they do not have to be suffered gladly and they should never be given the reins of power. It is time to denormalise the demagogues of ‘public health’.

   My belief is that it is not that we live in a society that particularly believes in puritanism or totalitarianism or is particularly cowardly but that it is caused by the need of empire building bureaucracy to find something more for government to do or regulate. Unfortunately while welfare needs are now small compared to national gdp and even welfarists desires are only substantial the amount to be spent on regulating unquantifiable "risks" is infinite. I have tried to say this in my comment on the article:

" An interesting article. Christopher turns over a rock exposing a number of current political parasitism issues.
Programmes like these have no failure (or success) standards. They are thus ideal if "the purpose of government programmes is to pay government employees and their friends, the nominal purpose is secondary, at best" - Pournelle. With no failure standards such programmes may be expanded without limit.
That it gives gainful employment to hordes of congenitally fascistic busybodies is, from the standpoint of bureaucratic empire builders, including politicians, a bonus.
The adoption of the term "public health" is itself interesting. In the 19thC genuine public health - epidemic disease hitting rich and poor alike in newly created mass urban living, was a major cause of the rise of socialism. Preventing the poor going down with typhus was sensible self interest for the rich. The conquest of epidemics is being followed by the disappearance of ideological socialism (there are other reasons but this is 1).
The misuse of the term "epidemic" he refers to is also typical of modern political corruption.
Even on "failure standards" these programmes are failing. The NHS is spending £5 bn a year on morbid obesity (eg 30 stoners who need their walls knocked down so they can be carried to hospital) so "anti-obesity campaigns" are clearly not working (this is not a call for more to be spent on having a more expensive failure).
Moreover if longevity is the result it is inexplicable that more money is being spent on each of the symptoms than on research into slowing, stopping or reversing aging despite numbers of lines of inquiry.
If the purpose is merely to pay and empower politically active fascist idiots the present system could not have been better designed.
If it had been to maximise lifespan or happiness no element of it would have been produced."

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