Archive for March, 2007

Bacon Butty piles on to one of the notions I criticised here. Food miles are, if anything, less useful than embodied energy as a policy target – after all, a whacking 22 per cent of CO2 attributed to UK food transport originates from sea and air transport. Obviously, the first place to start, especially as something like 33 per cent is attributed to trucks within the UK and zero to rail transport.

It’s also worth remembering that one of the reasons for the supermarket airfreight phenomenon is that the airlines found they had spare capacity on aircraft coming back from various places in Africa. As any trucker could tell you, a backload is pure profit, as the costs are covered on the outward journey. To put it another way, it’s no net increase in CO2 emission unless the route would otherwise be uneconomic and – this being the airline business – politically closeable.

Final thought? Forget all the intermediate interventions, and use the tax that gets to the cause of your problem. But it’s becoming a major political line of discourse that environment/energy issues are a question of consumerism, or rather, inverted consumerism. (Consider Martin Wight’s typology of international relations theories – Revolutionism, Rationalism, Realism, and Inverted Revolutionism. The last was pacifism.) Stop buying stuff! Better – buy expensive stuff that shows your moral character!

But looking at the data, this is ridiculously ineffective. What works is rockwool. That, and lithium-ion batteries, wind turbines, and incremental improvements on a range of other technologies. Not flying, or not buying airfreighted (or perceivedly airfreighted) goods, will do us no good at all. So why is Diddy Dave Cameron so keen?

My chippy reckoning is that it’s class. Anything involving changes to infrastructure or buildings will piss in a lot of Tory pools, from Grecian dukes discovering new laws of atmospheric chemistry to oppose wind power to nifty resellers flipping buy-to-lets in the M4 corridor, and make a lot of sparks very happy, and these things do not please Dave from PR. It’s the technocracy, stupid.

It’s a pity that Gordon Brown insists on taxing the poor into moral enlightenment.

Thogged

I’ve been thogged by the Ministry. Thogged? Well, it’s a meme going around..name five bloggers who make you think, hence thinking bloggers, hence (thanks to Chris Dillow) thoggers.

I don’t usually do these things, partly because obviousness is hard to avoid. But on this occasion, I’m a-thogging the following bethoggen. die Stiftung Leo Strauss, for their unique take on politics, Kevin Carson, who’s crazy but in a reasonably creative fashion, the RepRap Crew who may just be changing the world, Chris Lightfoot who still makes me think, and Dan Hardie who will be a cracking thogger now he’s got his blog started..

I’d also like to suggest an enhancement to thoggin’. What about the blogger who makes you want to throw up? We could call it vogging.

No beheadings in this story, though. Congolese radio station aims to give a microphone to those whose voices have never been heard before. I liked this line:

The show’s technicians – after getting caught in Army-militia crossfire twice – finally managed to put up antennas in the region’s more remote rain forest areas. So now the signal is strong across Ituri…

There’s something inescapably magical about radio – a few years earlier and it would have been indistinguishable from steampunk, or even clockpunk. The German secret agent Wilhelm Wassmuss, operating in southern Iran during the First World War, lost part of his radio gear in an ambush, but kept going, impressing the locals with the sparking transmitter and claiming to be talking directly to the Kaiser. Now, in some parts of Africa, people build towers so they can climb up and get GSM service although they are out of range at ground level, and SW Radio Africa gets round Zimbabwean government jamming of its HF signal by bulk-SMSing its listeners.

Speaking of which, what about this tale? The Zimbabwean government claimed it had obtained 3,000 Angolan paramilitary police to help it cling to power. The Angolan interior minister was quoted as agreeing. Now they deny it. I can see a few possibilities – the Zimbabweans are lying in order to frighten their people with foreign killers, it’s real and they need to import thugs…or is this more like the 3,000 Spanish marines on standby for the Wonga Coup in Equatorial Guinea? Perhaps they are coming, but their mission won’t be what Mugabe wants.

In the meantime, they do keep shooting down those IL-76s in Mogadishu, don’t they? The lost aircraft are EW-78826/serial 1003499991 and EW-78849/serial 1013405192 of Trans Avia Export Cargo Airlines, Belarus. Which, in fact, doesn’t seem to be a Viktor Bout company at all.

OK, so I’m trying to create a dropdown menu with around 40 options using the Python lib Tkinter. I’ve just learned that you can’t just define a command – call it get – and pass in the option as a variable (i.e. def get(variable) and then, for option X, command=get(X)), which brings me the horrible prospect of defining 40 or so functions that would only be different in that they have a different string variable.

This is obviously a stupid way to do it, and one that involves a lot of mindless copying. I’m thinking either: create a list and assign a number to each option, then callback the numbers, or else: do a for..while loop that would create the 40 or so functions when the class is instantiated. I’m not sure how to catch the callback in the first, or whether you’re allowed to autogenerate functions.

Thoughts? (The wanker is me, btw.)

Thogged

I’ve been thogged by the Ministry. Thogged? Well, it’s a meme going around..name five bloggers who make you think, hence thinking bloggers, hence (thanks to Chris Dillow) thoggers.

I don’t usually do these things, partly because obviousness is hard to avoid. But on this occasion, I’m a-thogging the following bethoggen. die Stiftung Leo Strauss, for their unique take on politics, Kevin Carson, who’s crazy but in a reasonably creative fashion, the RepRap Crew who may just be changing the world, Chris Lightfoot who still makes me think, and Dan Hardie who will be a cracking thogger now he’s got his blog started..

I’d also like to suggest an enhancement to thoggin’. What about the blogger who makes you want to throw up? We could call it vogging.

No beheadings in this story, though. Congolese radio station aims to give a microphone to those whose voices have never been heard before. I liked this line:

The show’s technicians – after getting caught in Army-militia crossfire twice – finally managed to put up antennas in the region’s more remote rain forest areas. So now the signal is strong across Ituri…

There’s something inescapably magical about radio – a few years earlier and it would have been indistinguishable from steampunk, or even clockpunk. The German secret agent Wilhelm Wassmuss, operating in southern Iran during the First World War, lost part of his radio gear in an ambush, but kept going, impressing the locals with the sparking transmitter and claiming to be talking directly to the Kaiser. Now, in some parts of Africa, people build towers so they can climb up and get GSM service although they are out of range at ground level, and SW Radio Africa gets round Zimbabwean government jamming of its HF signal by bulk-SMSing its listeners.

Speaking of which, what about this tale? The Zimbabwean government claimed it had obtained 3,000 Angolan paramilitary police to help it cling to power. The Angolan interior minister was quoted as agreeing. Now they deny it. I can see a few possibilities – the Zimbabweans are lying in order to frighten their people with foreign killers, it’s real and they need to import thugs…or is this more like the 3,000 Spanish marines on standby for the Wonga Coup in Equatorial Guinea? Perhaps they are coming, but their mission won’t be what Mugabe wants.

In the meantime, they do keep shooting down those IL-76s in Mogadishu, don’t they? The lost aircraft are EW-78826/serial 1003499991 and EW-78849/serial 1013405192 of Trans Avia Export Cargo Airlines, Belarus. Which, in fact, doesn’t seem to be a Viktor Bout company at all.

OK, so I’m trying to create a dropdown menu with around 40 options using the Python lib Tkinter. I’ve just learned that you can’t just define a command – call it get – and pass in the option as a variable (i.e. def get(variable) and then, for option X, command=get(X)), which brings me the horrible prospect of defining 40 or so functions that would only be different in that they have a different string variable.

This is obviously a stupid way to do it, and one that involves a lot of mindless copying. I’m thinking either: create a list and assign a number to each option, then callback the numbers, or else: do a for..while loop that would create the 40 or so functions when the class is instantiated. I’m not sure how to catch the callback in the first, or whether you’re allowed to autogenerate functions.

Thoughts? (The wanker is me, btw.)

All you need to know about Gordon Brown is contained in this story in the Financial Times. Specifically, this response to criticism of his decision to fund the 2% tax cut for basic rate income tax payers by extending the basic rate downwards:

The Conservatives argue, of course, that the complex set of income tax changes will penalise single people on lower incomes. But Mr Brown’s allies recognise this – indeed they have no problem with it. In their view, this group can bear a little more of the tax burden.

As one ally puts it: “Nobody aspires to be a single person on £12,000. Everyone in this group wants to get married, have kids, get into a higher paid job. And they know from this budget if they make it, the highest brackets are not hit.”

I think I’m going to vomit. Did the guy really just suggest taxing the poor to motivate them to get less poor?

The article is also well worth reading for the view of another “ally” that the point of this is to “convince middle England”. Apart from being a surefire bullshit tag, this means if anything well-off, white, south-eastern conservatives. To put it another way, the poor are being made to fork out purely to dish the oppo. A Labour government – a Labour government

I keep saying it. There will be no war with Iran. The Americans do not have the military resources to start one. Over at AFOE, I calculated they would need a third carrier group plus 100 land-based strike aircraft and extensive tanker, AWACS, Rivet Joint, and other supports, just for the air strikes.

Two carrier groups are on station. The Ronald Reagan group is off Hong Kong. The only other one anywhere near duty is Nimitz, which still needs to complete a three-week COMPTUEX.

What about the land forces? The US Army keeps stocks of kit in various places around the world, so that in a crisis the troops to man it can be flown in. According to the WaPo and General Pace, the stockpile in Kuwait has been sent to Iraq, and so have the stocks held aboard ships in Diego Garcia and Guam. Only the stockpile in South Korea is intact, and that ain’t going nowhere. The units aren’t well, either.

There will be no war with Iran.

Slow Blogging

Note that blogging is currently slow, due to a little project of mine that is taking up spare mindshare. The Guardian Column Generator should be operational by next week or thereabouts. Gah, it’s hard to start programming again, but it’s the satisfaction of craft.





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