Monday, 28 September 2020

Nitrogen Triiodide


I well remember the fun we had making this stuff during my schooldays. The things we do just to make a loud bang.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

The PH Index

I’ve just spent minutes on end inventing the PH Index as an important measure of political ineptitude which also applies to the world beyond politics. Is there a world beyond politics? Well if there is the PH Index applies to that too.

PH stands for Pig-Headed which seems to be one of the major personality traits of the political class. The only observable personality trait in many cases. The PH Index goes from 0 to 14, chosen because it is analogous to the older pH scale of acidity and alkalinity. A PH of 0 would represent the complete absence of pig-headedness while 14 would be total pig-headedness although clearly neither are achievable in real life.

Most natural PH values occur between 4 and 9 which again correlates well with pH values found in the natural world. Most of us are Pig-Headed to some degree, but a PH of less that 4 is unusual because it implies an almost saintly level of dispassionate weighing of pros and cons and we all know how annoying that can be.

However, a PH value greater than 9 takes us into even more annoying political territory. Jeremy Corbyn is a superb example of a person with PH value somewhere between 13 and 14. He doesn’t quite reach 14 but still a stunning achievement even by Labour Party standards. Matt Hancock is an oddity though, because he has a PH value of 15 which is impossible. More research needed there obviously.

It is early days but Boris Johnson seems to be about 12 to 13 although he could be an example of assumed pig-headedness. He knows a high PH value is absolutely essential for political success without apparently realising that it also contains the seeds of political destruction. In his case a PH of 10 or 11 might be politically safer.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Contact tracing forever

Strange times. Some obvious conspiracy theories thrown up by the coronavirus debacle are clearly plausible, especially those relating to the creepy imposition of a police state.

One obvious possibility thrown up by the UK coronavirus shambles is how automated centralised contact tracing could become permanent. The justification is not difficult to foresee because mild pandemics such as influenza have always been a regular part of life. There is no need to be a fly on the establishment wall –

Lessons learned, why not do something about it, we have the technology, we know it makes sense…

The justifications are already in place - tick. Neither is it difficult to foresee the coronavirus pandemic being used as evidence that something even worse could descend on us without warning - tick. Next time think of the children – tick.

Coronavirus contact tracing may be patchy and glitchy at the moment but that misses the point. It can be made to work well enough technically and after the pandemic nonsense runs out of steam it could be switched on again. Eventually it could be encouraged for almost any form of public activity from going to the pub or café to public transport to shopping. To begin with it need not be mandatory, merely accepted as sensible by a sufficiently large number of people.

We already know that public acceptance is not likely to be a major hurdle if virtue signalling and personal safety are stirred into the narrative. About a third of the adult population may be sufficient to push it further even if another third opposes it and another third is in the don’t know camp. Especially if the media push it from health angles.

It’s another plausible conspiracy theory where it is so easy to see how sinister beginnings will not be seen as sinister by a substantial section of the population. The narrative will always include prominent references to privacy safeguards. Yet safeguards or not, some will accept it anyway and that could easily be enough for any government to quietly dispense with privacy at some point.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Is Boris Basically Bonkers?

The evidence -

Via Tallbloke we have this from the BBC.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he wants to make a "big bet" on renewables, turning the UK into the "Saudi Arabia" of wind power.

Talking via video link to a roundtable discussion at the UN in New York, he said the country held "extraordinary potential" for wind energy.

He said the UK should embrace a range of new technologies to achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

The UK holds the presidency of the UN climate conference, known as the COP.

What is the nutcase saying here? We clear out the people and turn the UK into a giant wind farm to supply other countries with intermittent electricity? Surely Prime Ministers should as far as possible restrict themselves to pronouncements which are not so obviously bonkers.

Maybe not though. Maybe he is just as casually cynical as Tony Blair with much the same political outlook.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Trump's CRT ban

Mercatornet has an interesting piece on Donald Trump’s ban on Critical Race Theory.

With the November election just around the corner, it’s only to be expected that President Trump would seek to rally conservative voters and drive his supporters to the polls. So, when his administration, on September 4, instructed the federal government to eliminate all training in “Critical Race Theory,” some thought it was just a red-meat stunt to excite the Republican base. Others saw it as an act of right-wing censorship and an obstruction of racial progress.

In truth, there’s much more to this development than mere politicization and censorship.

The issue raises an old question - how does political propaganda with such weak intellectual standards find its way into academia and education? As the piece states, all we really have is zero-sum class warfare. Crude it may be, but eventually it may destroy us. 

Critical Race Theory is a branch of Critical Theory, which began as an academic movement in the 1930s. Critical Theory emphasizes the “critique of society and culture in order to reveal and challenge power structures,” as Wikipedia states. Critical Race Theory does the same, with a focus on racial power structures, especially white supremacy and the oppression of people of color.

The “power structure” prism stems largely from Critical Theory’s own roots in Marxism—Critical Theory was developed by members of the Marxist “Frankfurt School.” Traditional Marxism emphasized economic power structures, especially the supremacy of capital over labor under capitalism. Marxism interpreted most of human history as a zero-sum class war for economic power.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Worst ever government part II

Do not follow up a Folly. Many make an obligation out of a blunder, and because they have entered the wrong path think it proves their strength of character to go on in it. Within they regret their error, while outwardly they excuse it. At the beginning of their mistake they were regarded as inattentive, in the end as fools.

Baltasar Gracian - The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647)

Following on from the Tuesday post about conspiracy theories, they may be dubious for a number of reasons, one of which occurs when they leave out the powerful ebb and flow of uncontrolled circumstances. However, powerful people usually try to take advantage of uncontrolled circumstances once they have grasped the implications and the opportunities.

Which leads us on to a popular and clearly plausible conspiracy theory about the coronavirus debacle. The endlessly protracted UK government response to this relatively minor pandemic certainly suggest a degree of covert opportunism. As if eco-loons have been promised something significant. To my mind this is an entirely plausible conspiracy because of another pandemic, the global eco-loon pandemic.

The UK government still appears to be committed to ludicrous, damaging and pointless climate change policies and pandemic measures are an entirely obvious opportunity to suck a considerable amount of consumer consumption out of the economy. A temporary suck perhaps, but the underlying aim probably concerns the cementing of unforgettable precedents with an eye to longer term behaviour modification.

There is an unmistakable sense of psychological manipulation in the political atmosphere at the moment, apart from the obvious pandemic scare stories and bleak exaggerations. As if David Cameron’s Nudge Unit has been tasked with using the pandemic to nudge us very firmly towards more abstemious lifestyles more consistent with environmental fantasies.

This of course is not new. Malthus has long been a source of middle class anxiety about the masses getting above themselves. What we appear to be witnessing now is that anxiety translated into political moves in a very old game. A culmination of many decades of zero sum political propaganda ultimately rooted in Marxism –

There is only so much to go round and we don’t think you should have more than your fair share, and by the way we apportion your fair share.

Covert as always, wrapped up in virtue as always, crudely misleading as always, flat out wrongheaded as always – but that appears to be the underlying opportunity being grasped very firmly indeed. Forget the private car, the holidays abroad, the unlimited travel and the freedom to be an active part of a free economy. Forget freedom.

The Big Book of Boris Government - Parable 1