Besides, he who follows another not only discovers nothing but is not even investigating - Seneca
Sunday, 31 August 2014
The bureaucrat's prayer
Saturday, 30 August 2014
Sponsored narratives aren't necessarily false or even misleading, but sponsorship casts a shadow over their veracity. It corrodes the altruistic possibilities of human discourse, inserts covert sympathies, manipulates emotions and loyalties, inserts the levers of power into the very heart of our language.
Sponsoring a narrative isn't purely a financial matter though. Money certainly comes into it, because publicity comes into it, but so do the endless subtleties of social caution and that ingrained fear of new ideas we all know too well. Above that we have the advisory phone call, the discreet lunch, the country house party, the raised eyebrow, the nudge, the wink and the old school tie.
Friday, 29 August 2014
The day I met the Queen
Thursday, 28 August 2014
The Pottery Cottage murders
|The Glasgow Herald April 28th 1977|
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
The road to Sheffield
Beeley moor is like that even though the gibbets are long gone. At least I think they are. The moor is attractive in summer but even then there is something a little grim about the place. An extraordinarily atmospheric area even on a clear day. I love it.
Today the heather was out in force and the views excellent with very good visibility. Not easily captured on a photograph though - the superb expanse of it under a vast sky.
The moor is steeped in history from Hob Hurst's House to a number of old guide stoops such as this one directing travellers towards Sheffield.
These stone guideposts, or 'stoops', were set at intersections of packhorse routes, were required by an Act of 1697. Beeley Moor is particularly rich in examples. They fell into disuse in the second half of the 18th Century as Turnpike roads superseded the old packhorse routes.
Tuesday, 26 August 2014
Islam and the youth bulge
Sunday, 24 August 2014
Why we need packaging
Saturday, 23 August 2014
Bomb the Ban
|From Wikipedia. Sort of.|
Friday, 22 August 2014
A sense of community
We've forgotten that bit haven't we - the inspiration? We've sucked the human juice out of a useful notion and made it dull, mechanical and more than a little unhealthy.
Thursday, 21 August 2014
Climate and the bourgeoisie
|An early low-carbon bourgeois|
To my mind the orthodox climate narrative is obviously political, not a scientific discovery about the future. Equally obvious - it was designed for maximum bourgeois appeal. So what is the attraction of such a superficially alarming narrative?
Admittedly one would have to be gullible to swallow the sustainable energy guff, but that is what feed-in tariffs are for - to create a misleading sense of familiarity with wind and solar. Familiarity is half the battle. Add in a green badge for saving the planet and the job’s mostly done.
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Beneath the social construction
Victor Hugo - Les Misérables (1862)
I like this quote. Social change is the result of a kind of disjointed undermining. Even the miners have little idea of consequences, however fanatically they dig away down there.
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
The power game
Clean Technica reports on the Westermost Rough offshore wind farm.
The United Kingdom celebrated the installation of its first 6 MW wind turbine over the weekend, having erected the first of 35 Siemens 6 MW turbines at the Westermost Rough offshore wind farm in the North Sea.
The Westermost Rough offshore wind farm is a joint venture between DONG Energy and its partners Marubeni Corporation and the UK Green Investment Bank.
Is that this Marubeni Corporation?
Marubeni Corporation, a Japanese trading company involved in the handling of products and provision of services in a broad range of sectors around the world, including power generation, entered a plea of guilty today for its participation in a scheme to pay bribes to high-ranking government officials in Indonesia to secure a lucrative power project.
And this Marubeni Corporation?
In January 2012, Marubeni Corporation agreed to pay a US$54.6 million criminal penalty to settle multiple US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) charges relating to its work as an agent for the TSKJ joint venture. The TSKJ joint venture comprising Technip, Snamprogetti Netherlands, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) and JGC Corporation hired Marubeni to bribe lower-level Nigerian government officials to help it obtain and retain contracts to build liquefied natural gas facilities on Bonny Island in Nigeria. TSKJ paid Marubeni US$51 million which was intended, in part, to be used to bribe Nigerian government officials.
Of course I am not implying or suggesting that there is anything questionable about Marubeni Corporation or the Westermost Rough project.
Monday, 18 August 2014
How to be overweight
exercise.com has a calculator which I'll assume is reliable, so I began with a BBC report taken from the ONS which says the average English male in 2010 was 38 years old, 5ft 9in tall and weighed 13.16 stone.
Okay, so the calculator says he should consume from 2090 to 2700 calories per day to maintain that weight depending on how sedentary he is. Let's take to 2400 calories for someone who is mostly standing.
Sunday, 17 August 2014
Heat and light
Saturday, 16 August 2014
WiFi and Hurricane Bertha
Friday, 8 August 2014
A horror of being wrong
Some people, and I think I’m one of them, have a problem with being wrong. It manifests itself as a certain lack of robustness when it comes to attacking almost any social malaise or political stupidity. Almost always there are caveats. Almost always arguments are less robust than they could be. Note the almost.
Thursday, 7 August 2014
The vision of seasteading is an urgent one. We can already see that existing political systems are straining to cope with the realities of the 21st century. We need to create the next generation of governance: banking systems to better handle the inevitable financial crises, medical regulations that protect people without hindering innovation, and democracies that ensure our representatives truly represent us.
Seasteaders believe that governments shouldn’t be like the cell phone carrier companies, with few choices and high customer-lock-in. Instead, we envision a vibrant startup sector for governments, with many small groups testing out innovative ideas as they compete to better serve their citizens’ needs.
Currently, it is very difficult to experiment with alternative social systems on a small scale; countries are so enormous that it is hard for an individual to make much difference. The world needs a place where those who wish to experiment with building new societies can go to test out their ideas. All land on Earth is already claimed, making the oceans humanity’s next frontier.
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
A Moral Principle gets wet
One of Bierce's many word cartoons where the reader supplies their own image. A great alternative for those who can't draw. My mental image for Bierce's two chaps on the bridge is in the style of a Punch cartoon by Sir John Tenniel. For me it maintains the vintage aura.
Mind you, although there is a vintage aspect to Moral Principles fighting Material Interests on a bridge, the outcome is bang up to date.
Tuesday, 5 August 2014
A light dies down
Our weird culture has become obsessed with what ought to be as opposed to what simply is. A frantic political correctness is on the march and doesn't know when or where to stop and look around. Our supposedly technical and rational culture has meekly succumbed to swivel-eyed hysterical posturing.
The delicate flowering of each individual human spirit becomes a feared strangeness, unwanted. A thing to be covertly damned from every secular pulpit and quietly rooted out from our fanatically domesticated garden where nothing grows naturally.
Chesterton had his allegiances too, his treasured notions none could challenge, his core beliefs of right and wrong. Yet he also had a sceptic's eye, a genial observer's eye unclouded by fashionable enthusiasms. A century later we haven't quite lost his gift, but in spite of his enduring popularity we never learned Chesterton's lessons. And really - it's not as if they were even new.
Yet I think what he didn't foresee was how the evolving world of electronic communication would become a tool of mass propaganda. How the spread of information could so easily we turned into the spread of misinformation.
In his day, the great concern was the power of newspaper proprietors. What he probably didn't foresee was the kind of large scale collusion we see in mass communication. It isn't merely the narrative-weavers, but our own failure to understand the pitiless and incessant struggle for social conditions which are, at best, second-rate and ultimately disappointing.
Perhaps for most of us, the light dies down too early.
Monday, 4 August 2014
Raise a glass to the prophets
Sunday, 3 August 2014
It is not illegal to publish lies
Saturday, 2 August 2014
Death by charcoal
I was momentarily taken aback by Stendhal's reference to charcoal as a tool of the would-be suicide. Only momentarily though - I soon had to ditch some delightfully daft images of sketching oneself to death.
Of course it's the carbon monoxide generated by burning the stuff in an enclosed space. What I didn't realise was that Stendhal's readers must have been familiar with charcoal as a painless way to go. Wikipedia suggests the charcoal exit has been popular in the Far East for some time.
In November 1998, a middle-aged woman in Hong Kong committed suicide using this method inside her small, sealed bedroom. As this method is not listed in Tsurumi's Complete Manual of Suicide from 1993, she may have invented it herself; she had a chemical engineering background.
In order to prevent charcoal burning, the Hong Kong Government replaced the traditional countryside charcoal barbecue with an electric grill. Some non-government organizationsworked with charcoal retailers to promote the message of "treasure your life" by putting "seek help" labels on the charcoal bags.
Obviously the subject has lots of scope for tasteless suggestions, especially now the issue of assisted dying has been raised again.
Friday, 1 August 2014
Progress by precedent
The most dispiriting thing about such quotes is surely their age. Over a hundred years old and still relevant today. Governments of all hues still fail to reform the reform. As Chesterton pointed out, it is a good way to prevent real revolution and no doubt that's the point.