Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bad news for China

Here is an excellent example of what happens when you allow the state to become omnipotent: China's 'Big Brother surveillance' to dwarf UK. Communist China doesn't sound like much of a utopia to me, but that could be because I haven't experienced the miracles or played the right video games.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Climate Change Propaganda

We've all heard the stories. The planet could soon become so hot we won't be able to live in it - like Venus. From an early age children are taught "The Greenhouse Effect" and during Live Earth in the UK, Johnathon Ross likened Global Warming to Slavery. So like the great "oil will run out in fifty years" crisis of the nineties and the "millennium bug" and various other theories such as "the sun revolves around the earth", humans are basically making educated guesses about the planet. Of course to ignore our scientists would be foolish, however lets hear both sides of the debate before deciding.

So to begin, most scientists do not dispute that Climate Change is occurring. The real debate is whether human beings are contributing towards global warming, and if so, whether there contribution will actually damage the planet.

Media groups/scientists/governments supporting the theory that man is responsible:

BBC Climate Change - Note how under the evidence section there is no evidence and also how the series jumps to an assertion that humans can do something about it.

An inconvenient truth - The temperature of the planet is rising, but the site lacks evidence that it is caused by greenhouse gases or that humans have made a significant contribution.

The Guardian - note how they say "Measurements at the Earth's surface show that average temperatures have risen by some 0.4C since the 1970s. Scientists are confident this change can be blamed on human emissions because the increase is too big to be explained by natural causes."

Defra/UK government - The evidence area is interesting, however I think there are gaping omissions. The ActOnCo2 site does not even provide any evidence to support its assertions.

Campaign on climate change - again the evidence is lacking

Friends of the Earth - no evidence here. Just the same assertions.

The Royal Society - misleading arguments.

New Scientist - This article claims to be balanced, but it is?

"Neutral" sources:

Wikipedia - the evidence

The Times

Media groups/journalists/scientists/governments who challenge the "consensus" on global warming:

Gary Novak - An argument that Global Warming is not caused by CO2 emissions.

The Telegraph - Does the temperature of the Sun have any relevance?

The Telegraph - Are the statistics used valid?

The Letter science magazine refused to publish - Is this a common pattern?

Sun Times - Counter arguments to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"

If you've taken the time to read all the above, well done. When I finished I found myself immensely confused. It seems that their isn't a scientific consensus at all and that the debate is still going strong.

Nonetheless I came to the conclusion that we shouldn't ignore it and that scientists should start directing their efforts towards producing energy without releasing CO2 and politicians should provide grants and incentives for companies and individuals to utilize the least until we understand things better.

Charging more for flights and trying to get people to put less water in their kettle is, in reality, a complete waste of time because firstly nobody with the money to go on holiday is going to stop using planes or stop filling up their kettle. Secondly when China and the rest of the developing world starts to make the same energy demands that we do, a few half-filled kettles simply won't cut it. Non-polluting fuels however would be a solution to the problem..assuming there is one.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Unsociable Mobile Phone users

Mobiles have transformed the world. We can socialize from anywhere whether to chat about evening plans or to ask for help when the car breaks down. People can accomplish much more in a shorter space of time.

Yet there is a downside - the fact that I often find myself talking to a person face to face when their mobile goes off. What happens? The person answers the phone and proceeds to have a five minute conversation whilst I am next to them and forced to waste my time as they chat. I find that extremely disrespectful and unsociable, and its not limited to one or two people - everyone seems to think it acceptable.

However when I am with someone and my phone goes off, I politely request to the person on the phone that they call me back or attempt to end the call rapidly (unless there is an emergency). Its a sign of respect to the person I am with.

Therefore my advice is that in future you note the people who continue to have their conversation in your presence and who are prepared to waste your time. These people, without intending to, are telling you exactly what they think of you and you should react accordingly.


News blues

Today I read a very telling article at The Times. Apparently Blair was not a good prime minister and never was. Its interesting however that the paper actually supported the Blair administration whilst he was in power and waited until his departure to condemn him. Its good to know how the media treats the subjects that make it rich when they are no longer useful.

Another story which made me cringe was: 'Stress risk' for British troops. Of course there is going to be stress! Its part of territory and something you accept if you take the job. Perhaps the media should consider how much stress every single Iraqi faces in their life every day trying to stay safe. They don't have a choice and can't leave when things get bad.

Do you agree? To help you decide take a look at Jibjab's movie: "What we call the news".


Monday, August 06, 2007

The Blair legacy

Blair did a surprisingly large amount as PM and below is a summary of what I believe his successes and failures are.

Northern Ireland - He helped peace emerge in the region - this is, in my opinion, his biggest achievement. Lets hope it will endure.

Minimum Wage - Despite its effects upon inflation, it has helped ensure that people in unskilled jobs are recognized and I think it should be viewed as an achievement, albeit tentatively.

Making the Bank of England independent - Again we should be cautious in declaring this an outright success, but I think it added stability to the economy, however for too long they were pressured into keeping interest rates low - and this has had consequences.

Community Support Officers - Initially the idea seemed ridiculous to me when proposed , but they do now patrol the streets and try and make people feel safe. However whether the rest of the police force ever get involved in the area they serve is arguable.

He supported the campaign for the Olympics, however did not lead in this area. Overall I think it is the Mayor and Sebastian Coe we should hold responsible for it.

He added support to the campaign to Make Poverty History late in his premiership.

Climate Change
He added support to the campaign on Climate Change however made no effort to introduce cleaner fuels except for nuclear power, and that was only after David Cameron made it a political issue.

The reasons for the war may have been flawed, however he has brought Britain closer to America and removed a tyrant.


Stealth Tax - 66 new taxes

NHS - Small improvements in some areas such as waiting times, but massive overspending (such as on the computer system and colossal staff salaries (£100000+)), poor staff management (such as the lack of GPs available at off peak times) and poor financial planning which has forced the NHS to tighten its belt.

National/Cultural Identity - This might sound quite an odd category, however people have grown progressively more selfish, nosy and cynical. They over-consume, gossip, binge drink, take drugs and have no respect for their neighbours. Blair and the House of Commons for a long time ignored the public and made policies without listening to them.

Weakening of the House of Lords - Admittedly admittance should be due to meritocracy and not family, however its role in ensuring our nation remains democratic and free is essential. Blair tried to get his way with the House of Lords and when his attempts failed he sought to undermine it.

Education - I've ranted about this many times, but the system is a shambles. It rewards conformity rather than individuality and is generating a society of bureaucrats. Did you know that exam boards are given a "quota" - a target number of students which should get an "A", "B" and so on. If not enough students get an "A", they simply change the grade boundaries. It might explain why more people are getting better grades at least.

Housing crisis - Blair ignored the warning signs completely and then proposed a reactionary measure -"affordable housing" to respond to the price rises.

Pensions crisis - Blair failed to deal with it, and in doing so has let the problem compound and grow.

The Dome - Yes, I know, its an old issue but it symbolizes to me exactly what the Blair government has been about - overspending, giving jobs to the lads, short-term thinking, poor planning, unrealistic expectations and missed deadlines.

and finally, his biggest failure...

Civil Liberties and Terrorism - The role of the state is to defend Freedom, not erode it.