Archive for April 2012
As the British economy continues to crumble, the evidence that cultural laziness and/or lack of investment in key industries is why nations fail to remain economically viable is vindicated by which are climbing out of or not even in recession (the US, Germany) and which are not – Spain, UK et al. In the US and Germany, the government and investors have poured billions into new technologies (mainly solar in Germany) so not only creating or retaining jobs, but seeding and laying the foundations for the industries of the future. This provides a solid bedrock for long term employment and tax revenue, so everyone wins.
Thirty years ago, a remarkable British invention, the HOTOL SSTO Space Plane was conceived. It’s incredible propulsion technology was based on a hybrid engine that offered the low altitude air breathing benefits of a jet engine with a high altitude/space fairing rocket motor – allowing a craft to take off like a regular airplane and then rocket off almost into space where it could fly half way around the world at many times the speed of sound – with no worries about the sonic boom waking Mr. & Mrs. Jones at 4am. However, as is often the case with British innovation, we failed to capitalise on it, and 30 years later, the world is still firing rocket only craft into space and Britain’s economy has not benefited from HOTOL at all.
Make it so!
Well, today, with a more optimised version of the engine in the form of Skylon now undergoing testing, and only £250 million or so required to take things further, the British government, banks and private equity has a superb opportunity to further develop and harness this technology before it is left by the wayside or benefits someone overseas. What better way to inspire the young, who are currently obsessed with the very worst role models than by triggering their imaginations with such developments such that they can study the technology behind Skylon and be inspired to train for employment or entrepreneurship in aerospace and the future of humankind up there where it’s at.
FLight back club: Mr. (David) Cameron, now is your moment. Mr. Osborne? Fire up that cheque book!
Update: 16 July 2013 – UK gov to invest £60m in Reaction Engines.
Every time I think of an idea that it is unlikely my employer will develop (IE, 99% of them), I’ll post it on the new NFI page.
So, hop on over!
I don’t normally blog about other companies, unless it’s bashing big dirty energy or big we don’t actually need 95% of what you produce pharma, but it’s time for some positive vibes in VA, so here’s praise for Addison Lee Minicabs. A company that shows how creative customer centric entrepreneurship can offer a better and more viable alternative to cartel powered entities that use their corrupt nature to exploit the public and hinder the progress of humanity for reasons that go way beyond this posting, but have a lot to do with liberty.
Having used Addison Lee to ferry my employers crew and I to and from meetings and socials when time was of the essence, the price was FIXED (IE, not dependent on the time it took, so getting stuck at red lights didn’t effect the price) and the service exceptionally efficient. The same even when one was returning from a social under the influence of a drinkipoo or two – they never exploit your situation. Effectively, the responsibility to be efficient lies with you the passenger – if you miss the agreed pickup window time period, well, they will drive on to the next fare.
Anynoodle, have a read of this, which is in the left leaning Guardian, meaning they may have a tone of writing that is not in tune with the opinions of this here blog. The bus lanes are either full with stuck busses, or empty, so if the Addison Lee minicabs can use the lanes without disrupting the buses, why not let them?
Ignore the poor reviews of Addison Lee on Google, most look like plants by competitors because I have heard nothing but praise from other users and if they were that bad, well, they would not still be in business, because that is how the (dignified) capitalist cookie crumbles.
Fight back club: Use Addison Lee!
Goddam I’m angry! (Well, that IS what created blogging in the first place, right?) Days after posting this, AL have veen vilified across the board. That is SO typical of the backwards British, and ironic in view of my post of a few seconds ago on the Skylon space plane technology. An innovative independent business that dares to challenge an overpriced CARtel* is being attacked from all sides, which proves they were onto something. It is no wonder our economy is stuck in neutral and people are broke. The second someone comes along with a more honest business model, they are shut down. And so what if the MD has an opinion? At least he thinks!
*Sorry, could not resist.
Oh dear, one post after another. Not good to blog during working hours, but cannot let this one slip.
As VA has mentioned before in reference to other matters, a great way to get away with something dubious is by deception. Case in point: During most of the debate about fracking, the worrying issue was that the chemicals used to extract the gas could eventually leak into the groundwater above, polluting that used by future generations. A while back, I listened to a superb BBC Radio 4 program on fracking, where scandinavian government scientists had looked into the effects of fracking. The outcome was worse than they imagined and they decided to oppose it. The twin threats are not so much the minor quakes, but the aforementioned pollution and the fact the gas obtained is not a low carbon fuel. Effectively, we would be moving from a dirty fuel (coal), to a slightly less dirty fuel, fracked gas.
So the UK government and the company behind the fracking are diverting public attention away from the threat of polluting to the easier to placate risk of minor quakes. The same in the USA, where fracking is now being adopted by a government who were voted in and continue to state they desire a switch to sustainable energy. But then, that administration got in through deception, so no surprises there!
Ray to go!
Photo taken this morning by the author and uploaded to this post on location.
Whilst a camp science fiction movie should not really be referenced in a blog like VA, there was a key scene in Independence Day when the alien Will Smith’s character captured forms a telepathic connection with the President. He asks the alien why they are here, to which the Alien responds, (approximate): “We have exhausted our resources and are scouring the Universe for what we need. When we’re done with your planet, we will move on to the next!” At the time I remember thinking that the message of this scene was a hint at our own behaviour and we were not much different. Something that could haunt us in the future.
Fight back club: The only ways to stop fracking is to protest en masse (won’t happen, we’re all too busy or exhausted) and/or begin to move to a sustainable lifestyle whereby you are not dependent on a fuel source you do not approve of. For my part, I am putting much time into thinking about how to bring about a practical economically viable solar economy and therefore have been experimenting with solar panels and solar powered household gadgets. So far, very impressed with some offerings. The problem is, those who lack vision and desire short term results and shareholder returns will do anything to delay sustainables – as hinted at in the aforementioned Guardian article. The West missed a huge opportunity to invest it’s previous oil wealth in new technology, choosing instead to spend the money elsewhere. Yes, we need to move away from nuclear and fuels imported from dubious nations, however, rushing into a short term solution is storing up problems for the future. But greedy short termists don’t care, leaving the ball in the court of the consumer and entrepreneur.
Tim W at The Daily T says we should frack.
In view of the significant discrepancies with regards to events at Gatwick Airport today, and of course, conflicting reports/rumours from other incidents – Titanic included, surely it is time a service is developed that ensures witnesses to an event whose statements are made public go through a validation system first. In particular considering how fast rumours spread across the Internet through social media and emails.
Such a Citizen Journalist Rating? (CJR) system would be similar to those product review websites where the reviewers must provide information to authenticate who they say they are and in some cases, their qualifications. This would ensure any citizen (and trained!) journalist would build up an honorable reputation. Ideally, you want a few 5 star CJ’s at the next controversial incident!
With events like air crashes and other man made disasters, lengthy investigations and court cases will in most cases provide the truth, however, in other situations, in particular, murder, war, chaotic riots etc, there may be inaccurate reporting that can lead to individuals or groups being unjustly humiliated, vilified or even punished. In the case of this emergency landing, even the type of aircraft was reported incorrectly, and then there were reports a lithium ion battery caught fire, and then, there was no fire, not to mention the panicing flight attendants, who in reality, were doing their job to get people off the aircraft, just in case there was a fire. Clarity not.
nfi = need for invention!
Fight back club: Coders? Make it so!
For those who have been following this blog for a while now, no explanation will be required for the display of the above image.
For more recent visitors to VA, it represents the status of England today. Unlike earlier posts featuring the Titanic intact, here the vessel’s back is just starting to break before she splits in half and quickly sinks to the bottom of the freezing ocean, killing many.
The breaking in half of this once superb ship with so much potential represents in the context of this blog the more obvious fact that the nation is on the verge of events that like the Titanic disaster itself, will be due to a conflux of issues. Equally worrying, the split represents a dangerous divergence of values that are fairly likely to divide the nation with potentially lethal consequences. (As highlighted in my delayed Breakdown post, a number of very respectable colleagues of mine – some from New Zealand and Australia – have been so disgusted by the state of this nation they have already ‘abandoned ship’ and gone back to their homeland. There are Brits running for the lifeboats too.)
Freshers unsure of the true state of the country will, beyond just living here, need to keep up to date with all that is being reported in the news, in particular the broadsheet newspapers – and of course, read through most of the contents of this blog with an eye on those posts and pages associated with dumbing down, for profit law and order and (misused) surveillance.
Credit to National Geographic and James Cameron who produced the incredible 3D computer simulation of the Titanic’s last moments.
Fight back club: Fight back. It works.
During childhood, along with dinosaurs, space craft, human behaviour and American military aircraft, I took much interest in the Titanic – fascinated by the sense of security and confidence projected by her enchanting internal and external beauty – right up until the moment she sank. Complacency can be fatal.
As frequent VA readers will know, despite my day job in what we Brits call ‘IT’ (such a terrible, crusty old school term!), this blog has become unintentionally almost entirely focused on the surveillance state – in particular matters like this, that are more worrying than any other threat to our freedom and dignity.
By studying history and making day to day observations, it should be clear to all that those who have a low opinion of themselves are fairly likely to abuse any power obtained through their employment or membership of an organisation. As per my forthcoming (delayed because I am busy) BREAKDOWN post, having earlier this year been abused in public by almost thug like staff at a railway station (witnessed and recorded), I know first hand what it is like to be a hard working citizen who is targeted by people with a grudge. This happens in dictatorships and leftist nations – and the UK is fast becoming both thanks to a mix of efficient cold automated technology, weak frightened politicians and (alas) the general populace whose values and self respect has been stripped away by over 10 years of rot.
From my travels around the world, including villages and cities in Egypt, mainland Europe and of course, the USA, one comes to the same conclusion every time! Where there are left wing politicians or repressive governments in positions of power, there are high levels of crime against innocent people (as opposed to between gang members or inter group conflict) and the general standard of living is much much worse. Compare to cities or rural communities where there is ZERO tolerance on serious crime by the community AND police, so one can enjoy a higher standard of living and not feel repressed.
I blame councils, whose staff are paid almost double that of a recently graduated software engineer, and so, in turn, have to bring in enough money to pay themselves. So cameras are installed, impractical speed limits and parking restrictions are enforced, leading to the entrapment of hard working people in return for a nice little earner that is equal to one or two weeks food shopping. And to read in the aforementioned article that Google stand to receive £2billion for their help in all this monitoring is an outrage, and negates their “Do no evil.” mantra!
If the government(s) are so concerned about crime and civil disorder, they should invest their billions in laying the foundations for a more tolerable society that will reduce crime and terror because people will be content with their lifestyles. And that means moving to clean sustainable energy, efficient public transport and an education system that breads intelligent capable workers.
All they are doing at present is using fear to oppress people because they have failed to apply the aforementioned, rather than deal with the cause of the crime. Again, improve the standard of living for people and crime will fall. Want evidence, visit any random rural community. The system is self regulating, no (electronic) surveillance required. All powered by disciplined family units, low unemployment, low noise and clean air.
This post is slightly ‘random’, but I think you know what I’m getting at.
I’ve invented a slogan! “REPRESSION – TOOL OF THE FAILED!”
Have been trying to find a Hypercard emulator for OS X Lion (10.7 onwards) or any other OS – and no luck at all. My employer needs it to restore a simulation we were contracted to create for Bistsream Corp in 1991.
If you’re a veteran geek and know of any way to run a HyperCard stack on OS X (or any other OS!) please can you comment below.
Update: Of course, a full on pre OS X MacOS emulator would solve the problem too.
(BTW, Hypercard was superb. It would be great if someone created something like it today for building apps or web mockups.)
…thanks for betraying our trust! We voted you in because you promised to rid the UK of snooping jobsworths, ineffective privacy invading CCTV cameras, money making “30 years of points free driving” motorist entrapping speed cameras – and most importantly, this.
What happend? Lost your self respect and confidence, and projecting it onto the population, like repressive despots? What have you to fear?
So you’re sacrificing our rights to stop terrorists? But what’s the point of life at all if our daily sense of privacy is ruined permanently causing some to get stressed at writing anything controversial, romantic or business confidential with the fear it may be dug up in the future for motives nefarious or schadenfreude? Monitoring a couple having a private snog in an alleyway somewhere hmm, only to have it splattered all over a tabloid the next day after someone sells the footage? Never mind private emails, texts and voicemails.
And by announcing this, those who do really want to commit an atrocity will simply cease to use electronic communications, which leads one to conclude (as many others have) that this is more about monitoring those who question and reject the choices being made in more mundane issues, from energy production to animal experiments. A huge affront to democracy and our right to protest effectively!
I thought all this was the stuff of the previous government and other nations whose repression is so successful, their populace cannot innovate and so remain stuck in a groove of indefinite depression.
Fight back club: Leave the country.