VISION AFORETHOUGHT

Common sense analysis of this, that and the other

Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Best way forward!

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Unless you’re well loaded, financially, things are starting to get very difficult for many people due to various factors.

This cyclical nature of the Western economy is, like the solar cycle of identical length, something we take for granted, but it needn’t be that way. Despite living in the ‘free’ West, most people are not really liberated. (This whole blog is all about such a state of affairs and is what motivates me in my work too.)
So, unless you are in absolute power, meaning you won’t have to concern yourself with such matters, I’m willing to bet your typical Brit is worrying about the following:

  1. Paying the mortgage
  2. Paying the car loan
  3. Paying the electricity bill
  4. Paying the council tax
  5. Paying the water bill
  6. Paying the food bill (How much?!)
  7. Paying for the kids toys

And so on, silently, like a slowly ticking time bomb.

Always hoping your ship will sail in tomorrow, such that the stress that tugs at your soul 24/7 will finally be lifted. The strain it puts on your personal relationship(s) all gone.

Sadly, things are not engineered to occur like that. There is no Hollywood ending in reality. (As per most British directed movies that tend to feature a more realistic 3rd act.)

The part solution to this is as I have been saying for 15 years or more and why a NASA image of the sun is my universal avatar, is for as many individuals and businesses as possible (Mrs May won’t have the government do it, she’s in bed with big carbon/nuclear) to fit as many solar panels as possible to their home or garage.

Instead of buying that 42″ LG 4K OLED TV, (next year?), buy two 150 watt solar panels (£300), a leisure battery or two (£85), two regulators (£60), and get your basic gadgets off grid 24/7. As solar panels come down in price, you’ll be able to add more, get some more batteries (maybe a Tesla Powerwall?) and then take some major white goods appliances off grid too. A solar powered fridge eh? The irony!

By doing this, you’ll spend a bit, but then reduce your power bill and even be able to feed back into the grid once your output exceeds your input. Either way, you’ll benefit the environment and be setup to survive a power cut when the End Of Days apocalypse comes to pass.

Light back club: Invest in this…

sunspot_avatar

 

 

 

Written by Oflife

February 15, 2017 at 4:21 pm

Chocolate on the table

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This week there was some good news during a period when most news has been bad, from horrific terrorist attacks to acceptance that the 6th Extinction is no longer theory, but underway. No surprise there, and yes there is a connection between the two.

The good news is that an application to frack was unexpectedly rejected by a council despite said council being almost ‘threatened’ to vote in favor. (And the frackers have not given up yet!) We are all in agreement that an alternative to oil and coal is vital if we are to reduce pollution and extract our soldiers from nations that provide us oil but where there are cultural differences.

However, taking a harmful short-termism path is typical of an industry that would rather consume the whole bar of chocolate than avoid greed and temptation by putting it back in the cupboard. Effectively, the carbon fuel industry would rather suck the Earth dry at any cost than invest their billions in a whole new ecosystem of technologies and subsequent business opportunities – including building huge solar farms in Australia, a Western nation that will not require a military presence.

When visiting the US, where there is a lot more space, anywhere there is a carbon fuel extraction or processing plant is polluted, noisy and unpleasant to live around. A while back I remember driving past a plant not far from San Francisco and feeling immensely sorry for the poor people (mainly Mexicans) living near the refinery. Their standard of living and health is horrible. Environmental prejudice comes to mind.

Having lived in and travelled to many of the UK’s village communities, it is an almost idyllic existence. Quiet, clean and almost crime free. Never mind the ground water pollution and risk of small quakes, having large tanker trucks and associated paraphernalia passing through our communities is just not worth it.

As some communities around Oxford have done, way better to invest in solar farms and Tesla household battery packs and get our villages off the grid altogether bit by bit. The reduction in consumer demand for electricity sourced from carbon and nuclear power stations will free up energy resources for heavy industry that will continue to require carbon and nuclear energy until solar and other clean low accident risk sources can generate enough kilowatts.

As this blog has stated before, a Manhattan Project / Apollo Space Program level investment in clean sustainable non nuclear energy is the way forward, not harmful controversial short term solutions that are little more than shoving the problem under the carpet for another day.

Fight frack club: Done! (I know, I have used that pun before.)

Written by Oflife

June 30, 2015 at 11:56 am

Energy Aforethought

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So the UK’s (uhm, Scotland’s?), North Sea oil production is under threat due to the falling price of crude. Good news for the consumer and businesses of course, but not for the oil rig employees who are about to be laid off, not to mention the environment as people fill up en masse at 99p a litre.

However, if like more forward looking businesses, BP (‘Beyond Petroleum’, hah, don’t make me laugh) and others had in advance used their once huge financial might to invest in practical sustainable clean energy solutions, such as…

  • Tidal barriers, like the superb one proposed across the Severn Estuary
  • Large scale solar fields in Saudi Arabia, Australia etc
  • Next generation battery technology for efficient storage and distribution
  • (Electrical) energy ‘transportation’ infrastructure and management
  • Other

…then, by now, these companies would not only be able to retain their employees and contractors, but help contribute to a reduction in carbon fuel pollution.

They have had years to begin this bridge building in advance (like Rank Hovis Mcdougall: Movies > Bread), but greed and the human desire to always consume the whole bar of chocolate/apple/planetary resources rather than leave the rest ‘in the ground’, means that we’ll now go through a period of energy insecurity and unemployment. This is exceptionally dangerous with the world already in a very fragile position (yes, the terrorists attacks are related to oil – just use a map) but it’s not a surprise.

It’s controversial to say so, but as I have hinted at before on this blog, the types of people who run carbon energy companies lack the vision, imagination and pragmatic compassion essential to bring about change. Just visit a filling station, they are dirty, clunky and smelly, the only major change since the very first pump was installed being a switch from mechanical clickity whiz digital readouts to LCD. Whoopie doo!

Compare to the imaginative efforts from companies like Tesla and Gogoro.

Fight back club: Don’t put more gas in your tank just because it’s cheap – force the industry to invest in the future before it’s too late by maintaining your frugal less polluting lifestyle. Be Pushy.

Written by Oflife

January 15, 2015 at 8:37 pm

We’re winning

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For a while now this blog has called for the UK government to invest in Graphene and other infrastructure technology in order to provide the foundations for a strong ‘smart’ jobs based economy and of course, assist in the development of next generation sustainable energy systems, such as solar and batteries.

We not only got what we asked for, but better, with the EU making a significant investment. This is great news and will lead to the same technological breakthroughs and economic opportunities as the 1970s investments in silicon that we take for granted today.

The silicon chip revolution was ignited by the need to reduce the size of the computers used in space vehicles, whilst today, the incentive will, in part, be to produce flexible wearable gadgets that will make our current toys seem stiff and clunky by comparison.

This is what happens when you don’t invest in the essential inevitable future.

Written by Oflife

January 29, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Economy, Technology

Tagged with ,

OMG

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Exhibit !

 

Written by Oflife

January 15, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Posted in Economy, Finance

Smoke and mirrors

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The government today repeated what has been said before that we can expect quite a few more years of austerity. Some blame the banks, others the government (which begs the question, which one?!) – and some of us actually blame the public too – for borrowing on easy credit (it WAS easy!) – the latter not only leaving no foundations with which to build a life, but a deep hard to climb out of hole!

Well, no matter the accuracy of the above three issues, let’s take a more scientific approach. After all, the great thing about science is that except when travelling at near light speed, physics and mathmatics tends to be robust in their reliability.

Maths says that if our energy and food stuffs goes up in price, so does everything else. In fact, the latter is linked to the former.

What is of concern is the reason for the rise in our energy costs. Namely, the total and absolute failure of the oil companies to invest in sustainable energy on a scale equal to that of the Manhattan Project during WW2. That saw a nation develop the atomic bomb in less time than it took to bring the DVD to market.

The credit crunch excuse cannot be used forever. Most of the banks have repaid the government bailouts and consumers have been pretty good at paying off their debts too.

Sadly, greed and the oft repeated indifference of visionless compassionless clueless stock holder owned corporations to ever think outside the box and invest in OUR future, as well as theirs, is the main reason we are suffering the effects of austerity. Why? We don’t actually need to rely upon them, but are (currently) forced to. Here in the UK, our potential/former enemies now own our energy companies (did you know China owns one of our water providers?) and are doing to us what we did to them in the cold war, and screwing us for every penny they can. Not that Western owned companies are that much better, it is after all a big cartel.

Once you taste wealth, it is VERY difficult to let go. Really!

Technologically, the planet has everything it needs. Superfast supercomputers. Marvelous almost magical materials, such as graphene. Visionary well meaning intelligent entrepreneurs. Proven viable efficient solar cell production in Germany – the world leaders in such things. Seagull friendly wind turbines (for offshore energy generation that does not spoil our priceless landscape or turn birds angry). Huge hydroelectric dams (such as on the River Seven estuary). And new types of clean nuclear energy.

Instead, nothing has been done, so we are now fracking (and shoving the side effects under the carpet for cheap gas) and sending tankers into the melting Arctic whilst 40% of the increasingly dumb population are glued to celeb TV. Not to mention talk of building lots more (current generation) nuclear plants (whose waste disposal will haunt future generations) and of course biofuels that consume basic foodstuffs!

So whilst we wait for for the aforementioned environmentally unfriendly energy sources to kick in (8 years or so?), we’ll be paying for our failure to invest properly despite owning pocket gadgets as powerful as desktop computers of a decade ago.

Why does this happen?

As per my much delayed “WW4/2+2=5” post, sadly, too many large companies and nations are lead by people who simply lack the intelligence, suitability, character, ethic and passion to do anything about matters like this. Some are secure enough to escape the pollution, noisy flightpaths and price rises that effect the majority. Frankly, they just don’t give a f*ck! If you have attended a party, worked, been to school, college or Uni, and are now an adult, the enlightened of you will have observed that it is a simple fact of life that some people are what is known in the trade as douchebags. Sometimes, they end up running businesses and/or countries. The consequences vary from little more than a bit of bad behaviour (Italy) through to screwing the public (as this post is about) to all out despotic repression and worse. A common trait of such people is lack of confidence in self and therefore an assumption that ‘there is no other way’ and anyone or anything else better must be poo poo’d at all costs to keep the spotlight on self. (As an entrepreneur I experience this constantly from skilless losers with a chip on their shoulder.)

The only people who are going to bring this to an end are a mix of social entrepreneurs backed by the fed-up public (you!), through services like Kickstarter and other entities whose creators and members are so different in their character from the cold backwards types who run big pharma and big oil, that one could almost claim they are a completely different species. (“Visionaries are from Mars…”)

Fight back club: Simples! As ever, avoid using anything that is made from or consumes oil and bankrupt the whole industry into submission – whilst at the same time, reducing your carbon foot print. Open your wallet to those wonderful people and companies who are working on our sustainable clean future. For my part, I walk or bike to work and only use a car when it’s essential. Further, I am working on my own sustainable engineering projects through my employer. (I don’t moan in a blog post unless doing something about the matter I am moaning about.)

Yes, some of our energy will always need to be sourced from less sustainable and clean alternatives, but the lack of any serious effort or investment in getting at least 50% of our energy from elsewhere is unacceptable. If consumers can bypass ‘the grid’, then their energy bills will fall significantly and they will have more to spend, bringing an end to ‘austerity’, which in my book is simply a term for ‘we’re going to make you pay for our greed and lack of vision’.

Written by Oflife

November 26, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Posted in Economy, Energy, Environment, Oil

Maggie was right*

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I have had fairly intense arguments over the last decade with those who think that Mrs. T sold our engineering and other industies down the river. Further, that her de-regulation of the banks lead to todays fiscal sins.

1. Today, BMW have invested  yet more into Mini, preserving or creating UK jobs – in the middle of a downturn. Why is this? Because Mrs. T, who was a superb common sense visionary saw the flaws in UK:

a) Union power, that maintained a backwards status quo that a bit like repressive regimes in certain nations, did their people more harm than good. (I don’t include safety and human rights matters where unions are a force for good.)

b) Shoddy quality. The next time I hear anyone state that British engineering was the best in the world I’ll scream. Yes, our old school precision engineering (man + lathe) and technical innovation is second to none, but whether it’s a mass produced affordable car or the most expensive luxury vehicle, they were unrelable rust buckets. Remember how your 70s or 80s car would never start on a wet or cold morning? Or the common sight of vehicles broken down at the side of the motorway?

What a change today, cars are incredibly versatile and reliable, so much so, we don’t really moan about them at all! (Sadly, A greater inconvenience has taken over, the war on motorists by money grabbing authorities and jobsworths, but that’s covered in umpteen other pages in this blog.)

What is this? Because by allowing companies with a proven reputation for extremely high quality engineering and reliability (BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Honda etc) to invest here by buying or forming joint ventues with our own companies, we now have the best of both worlds. British design innovation + overseas engineering quality and worker ethic. The same goes for the US, where companies like Ford and Toyota share resources leading to a better product, happier consumer and therefore increased sales!

Everyone wins!

Let’s make this perfectly clear, if we had not sold British Leyland for £10 way back then (I think it was about that much), the Mini would not exist today, and neither would the superbly designed and top selling Range Rover Sport.

For those too young to remember the 70s, it was awful. Strikes, rubbish goods and services, inflation etc to go along with our equally rubbish weather and generally dour nature. It was horrible and today the standard of our products, sports and the quality of foods in restaurants is way way better than back then. This is all thanks to the merging of cultures and concepts from all over the world.

A very liberal value applied by Conservatives!

🙂

2. With regards the banks, at the time, as is often the case in situations like this, an element of trust was involved. If you give someone freedom to be industrious and they instead choose to be greedy and corrupt, I am not sure the blame lies with you or the other party? This is not much different from those overseas dictators who missuse our generous donations that are supposed to feed their children to instead build palaces and armies, or a parent that trusts their (supposedly) responsible children with the house for an evening.

As it happens, based on events of the last few decades, whether it be banks, big pharma, big oil, Internet privacy and more, industry self regulation does NOT work. It’s like putting kids in charge of class! So, whilst well meaning, the government of the time did make an innocent error with the banks.

There are many other areas where Mrs. T was missunderstood or blamed for events that she may not have been responsible for. At the time, I lost faith in her when the poll tax riots took place because I assumed she was out of order for introducing the tax on the most vulnerable. But more recently I learned that events were not that clear cut and she was not in fact responsible. (You can do your own research to uncover the truth.)

Mrs. T didn’t earn the respect of the respectable working classes for nothing – she was a true democrat and scientist whose personality and values would come in very useful today.

Rational leadership provides for a robust entity, whether it be country, company or community!

3. She was also spot on with the miners. The industry was dirty, unsafe and producing a fuel that was becoming obsolete, as we clamor for a cleaner environment and switch to alternative energy sources.  Again, she saw all this ahead of time. Today, the people who would otherwise be stuck down mines are working in cleaner safer better paid service and other industries. That is why Britain today is so modern and we are not suffering strikes and industrial accidents on the same level of the 70s and early 80s.

Other than the banks, all we need to fix today (2012) is our railways. The staff and service is a disgrace – as my documented in full HD video experiences of the last few years can testify too.

*No pun intended!

Written by Oflife

July 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Capitalism, Economy

World War 4 / 2+2=5 (apparently)

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I tweeted a while back that a major blog post would soon appear, entitled World War 4. Life and work got in the way, so like most ‘non critical’ tasks, it got put on the back burner. Today however, the events on the streets of major cities around the world (4th QTR 2011) inspire a quick pause in work to post this and get a few of thoughts out of the way – most of which have been bubbling away in my mind for decades. It is possible some of you feel the same way too.

As the parents will tell you, I never had time for fairy tails when a child, always questioning the logic of rabbits that could talk or other innocent fantasies. Being a rational child has it’s flaws as well as it’s benefits, but that’s another discussion! If you sit there motionless when people spontaneously clap at a mediocre entertainer, you will understand my point.

As one matures and becomes enlightened, (the latter of which accelerates if you live in California for a while thanks to the infinitely creative and inspired anything goes culture), you can tell when you are being hoodwinked and separate the wheat from the chaff. Most of us are aware of all this but lack the time to do anything about it, so this post makes no claim to originality!

I had also been planning another post entitled 2+2=5, apparently. However, I have decided to merge it with WW4 due to the convergence of issues.

OK, let’s get on with it…

There is something about the Western way of life. Just about everything is a sham – twisted for financial or political reasons – or both – or even simply because we’ve got into a muddle. For some of this, we can probably blame the invention of the middle man, whose motives have nothing to do with science, logic, reason, compassion, nature or common sense, but profit. In fact, those former concepts are all the same holistic force, and one could classify them simply under ‘nature’, so let’s do that!

Like a magician who gets the audience to focus on one hand whilst performing his magic in the other, no matter the subject, the more confusion and lack of rational facts, the harder it is to make a credible argument or protest with clarity and confidence. No one really knows what is going on.

Where is the datum? Who says ‘it’ is true? Can you prove it? If you do punch 2+2 into the grand all knowing knowledge machine, what will the result be? Who is going to fiddle the programming so that the answer is 5? And why?

A few examples:

  • According to some medical research, eggs are good for you. Update: According to some other medical research, eggs are not good for you.
  • According to long term scientific projections, Earth will experience a sudden mini ice age within the next few decades. Update: According to long term scientific projections, Earth will experience global warming within the next few decades.
  • According to scientists, polar bears are drowning whilst trying to swim between ice flows to find food because the ice is melting faster than it used to. Update: According to others, polar bears have always drowned whilst trying to swim between ice flows.
  • According to scientists, if we do not switch to carbon neutral fuels as soon as possible, we can expect catastrophic climate change. Update: Man’s effect on the environment is miniscule, it is the sun we should focus on.
  • According to the Japanese government, the level of radiation from the Fukishima nuclear plant is………………………………………… Update: …………………………………..any ideas?
  • According to economists, free markets self regulate. Update: According to some other economists, free markets do not self regulate.
  • According to scientists, cancer and other ‘contemporary’ illnesses are on the increase due to the fact our bodies have been absorbing the bi-products of (naively developed) materials, such as plastics and household cleaners. Update: People are living longer, so more succeptable to diseases and cancers that effect us all as we age.

So who produced the aforementioned updated data? Well educated sincere researchers driven by the desire for truth or malleable scientists whose ‘sponsors’ have an agenda?

The problem we have is that each side of the issues listed above may well be partially or entirely accurate. But when one or two of the 7 deadly sins inserts their influence in conjunction with a gradual dumbing down of the populace, all credibility is lost and the ‘system’ fails. People lose faith. They gang up on the nearest scapegoat, even if some of the targets of their anger are innocent. After all, not every entity follows a specific ideology or is of a specific personality. We are all different – unless brainwashed en masse.

This focus on specific scapegoats can lead to horrific consequences, as history has proven more than once.

In Rome and other cities today, people are justifiably protesting because they have become disillusioned. And while some may be responsible for their station, some represent an underlying feeling that I am willing to bet a good 20% of those reading this (no matter your class or creed) will sense.

Something is wrong and the wheels are starting to come off – everywhere, and this needs to be resolved pronto!

What the protestors SHOULD be angry about

  • Bank charges that trigger an unstoppable loss of financial control
  • Lack of investment in clean sustainable energy
  • Western installation of despots
  • Failure to invest in public transport due to influence of carbon fuel industry

But hang on, these things are not as bad as genocide, cancer and other issues. Indeed, but if ones life is so focused on dealing with every day annoying issues, one cannot sit down and focus on those things that are important to our lives, families or society – such as charity and goodwill.

Preventing WW4 from escalating

In the mean time, if you want to make a difference, try to avoid using carbon fuel or biofuels and research ALL YOU CAN about solar energy. A solar economy is the solution to almost (almost) all of our ills. Rational argument to follow – and an explanation as to where WW4 comes in. (It has started, and it isn’t going to end anytime soon. And unlike most geographically defined wars of the past, World War 4 really is between the forces of good and evil, concepts that know no boundaries.)

!! WORK IN PROGRESS !!

Why WW4? Hundreds of thousands of people died in the ‘cold’ wars that followed WW2. To entitle this post WW3 would dishonour them. The cold war was indeed a world-war, even if the location of the wars was varied.

Written by Oflife

October 15, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Web 4.0 – Reality Optimisation?

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They say the Universe is mainly made up of empty space – as is matter itself, with vast distances (relatively speaking) existing between the electrons and other stuff, despite any illusionary sensation of tactility.

Well, likewise with the way we exist as humans. There is a huge amount of empty space in our lives. A wasteful existence that requires optimisation – to use a software engineering term!

  • Our cars sit idle for 75% of the day. (That is a guess.)
  • Our homes and offices sit empty for 50% of the (24 hour) day.
  • Even our computers are only using about 10% of their processing power on average while we are actually using them, unless one is a pro photographer or video editor. (Something SETI chose to exploit a while back.)
  • UPDATE: A colleague mentioned lawn mowers! They sit around for almost 95% of each month doing nothing. What if we shared them? Of course, the effect on sales by producers if consumers shared would be catastrophic. Further, the machines we share would wear out quicker. When resources do run low, we may have no choice though and be forced to build things to last longer.

Recently, several startups have launched ventures that now offer a way to harness all this ‘whitespace’ in our lives:

  • Airbnb allows you to rent that empty accommodation while you’re elsewhere. (Albiet, fairly high class accommodation, suited to vacation rentals. But I do recall there was a couch surfing venture somewhere for those seeking a more humble abode!)
  • Not using your car? GetAround solves that one! Self driving cars, the most reliable developed by Google, will turn cars into taxis, a very efficient way to travel – and most importantly, less stressful. Other than the fare or being stuck in traffic when due for an appointment, I think we can all agree that taxis reduce transport stress a great deal!

Which begs the question, what other opportunities are there to harness empty space, such as:

  • Wireless spectrum
  • Parking spaces
  • The human mind! How much time do we actually spend thinking? What about tapping into our minds when we’re asleep? (The ethics of hooking our minds up to some remote system for discussion elsewhere.) 😉

Etc!

Fight back club: What will you optimise today?

I chose the term ‘Web 4.0’ because each shift in the use of the web has attacked a specific issue. Although Reality Optimisation itself does not necessarily relate to the web exclusively, as the above examples prove, it is likely that web technology will aid in making our lives more efficient. Outsource to the machine!

UPDATE: 26 May 2011 – GetAround have won the TechCrunch Disrupt awards. Awesome!

Written by Oflife

May 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Failing to invest in the future

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Today, two pertinent matters highlight how greed and lack of holistic creative thinking can lead to disaster. One slightly more important than the other:

1. Mobile broadband

Recently, some airtime providers in the US and UK have announced the end of unlimited data plans. This just as more advanced devices such as iPhone 4 arrive on the market offering even greater performance and display resolution. Such short termist corporate maleficence will be catastrophic for all parties. In a few months, users are going to receive bills way in excess of their calling plans. In view of the fragile state of the economy, some will default, causing inconvenience, stress and expense, and for those whose accounts are barred, loss of income to the air time providers. Foot shooting?

The air time providers have had 10 to 15 years to invest in a global ultra fast wireless broadband network capable of supporting mobile multimedia. Instead, they have focused on selling consumers what looks like value for money deals on services that cost them almost nothing, such as unlimited text messaging packages.

A text message uses up a tiny proportion of the bandwidth, and to be frank, like Twitter, is one of those ‘inventions’ that didn’t actually need to be invented. Mobile email is (as covered elsewhere on this blog) far more reliable and effective a medium – something more sensible Blackberry users have known for a while. As with the next defendant on this list, greed has meant that the networks have invested in marketing over infrastructure – and now we are all going to have to pay for it – or not for those who are forewarned and search for fairer calling plans.

Update: I omitted to mention the irony of the visionary AT&T advertisements from the optimistic days of the Internet in the 1990s featuring a wide screen video phone a few years into the future. Well, here we are in the future, where Apple, who (no doubt to their frustration) rely upon AT&T in the US are limiting the otherwise brilliant FaceTime feature of iPhone 4 to WiFi because the cellphone networks cannot cope.

2. Oil

Just as an underwater robot damages the cap on the leak, a director of BP commented that the Gulf of Mexico spill has been cursed. Incorrect. It was an accident waiting to happen – and will probably happen again. The fault does not lie with BP, it lies with the whole industry, who like the mobile wireless providers, has failed to invest on a Manhattan Project scale in all new technologies and methods that offer us an effective practical way of generating clean sustainable energy.

As a result of this greed and lack of vision, the whole population is going to have to go through 10 to 20 years of hell as things begin to fall apart. All while grand visionaries and industrialists of the future work away in the background out of the limelight, for fear that exposure to their good work will lead to strategic buyouts or special interest sponsored humiliation by corporate owned media. Such behaviour has gone on for decades and is why there has been so little progress in major technologies over the last 50 to 60 years. Yes, our gadgets may be smaller and our cars sexier, but the infrastructure that undermines our way of life is stuck in the past.

Fight back club: Only spend your money on products and services run by honorable visionary management who care more about their customers than their stockholders.

Written by Oflife

June 24, 2010 at 3:10 pm

UK Election 2010

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See dedicated ‘ON > Election’ page in the navigation column.

Written by Oflife

April 19, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Indeed J.D.

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Great news, a great engineer echoes a suggestion made here back in August 2009.

Fight back club: Support a party or parties who will carry this out.

Written by Oflife

March 9, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Silly Westerners

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On two occasions, once in the 1990s, and again more recently, this blog hinted that Western governments needed to make massive investments in high speed broadband networks with the economic benefits this provides, just as they built the highways, autobahns and motorways in the 1950s and 60s that we take for granted today. The private sector would never be able to deliver fast enough or consistently.

Time and time again over the last decade or so the evidence has continued to pile up that not doing this early on is coming back to huant us. Never mind the scenario discussed in this article – today, the iPhone is a prime example of a device that is technologically ahead of the networks it relies upon. Providing a fast, slick and robust interface, the iPhone (and most other wireless devices) grind to a halt the moment you try to do anything bandwidth intensive on them – such as streaming video – in particular during waking hours! And that is not Apple’s fault, but that of the governments, who rather than invest in the networks, hit them for billions of dollars for spectrum licenses. What where they thinking? (They weren’t.)

What they should have done is what governments do during a time of war or in general with the military – put bids out to tender and provided the money and resources required to meet minimum specification, performance objectives and milestones. Wireless leaders such as Motorola, Ericsson and Samsung could have been installing 4g/LTE base stations across the US, Europe and elsewhere years ago – providing our economies with a fast, slick and robust network in time for today’s speedy gadgets.

But they didn’t, so we are still driving sports cars on windy country lanes – and no, 7MBs HSDPA doesn’t cut it, nor does attempting to get your gadget to logon to the flaky WiFi network in a coffee shop you have rushed into in order to try to download that massive PDF.

Fight back club: Bring down the networks by consuming as much bandwith hungry content as you can until someone realises that information technology economies require a seamless digital highway. Go on, wake up your government today by stressing your air time provider until they cry!

Why are we in this mess? Greed. Did anyone really believe the private sector would deliver? Look at the trains!

Why do I hint that the West is stupid? Because we find it difficult to do things properly unless giving whatever it is a massive focused investment – at the last moment. Eastern nations such as Korea and Singapore have proven better at long term thinking and already benefit from a robust digital infrastructure that was built when we were all on dial-up. But we do do war well. 😉

Written by Oflife

February 5, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Vindication, again again

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A few posts ago, it was suggested that the UK government invested in businesses and encouraged apprenticeships for all the economic, social and other benefits this offers. (And/or encouraged the banks to invest in businesses with all that bailout money.) However, neither did the right thing. Instead, they ignored a form of greed that discredits capitalism, allowing the banks to continue their dubious ways.

So, in the US, the economy is slowly recovering, while here, manufacturing industry is laying off workers and we are not benefiting from this. However, we should be, because Britain can excel at design and engineering when it wants to – it is part of our heritage. It appears that the PM’s obsession with the City has ignored our other assets. First the gold, now our manufacturing industry. Oh dear.

Fight back club: Invest in entities that increase in or create value.

Written by Oflife

December 5, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Dub(a)ious

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As per my posting a while back re the credit crunch, the situation in Dubai is like many other problems with consumers and businesses today, not just due to any flaws with capitalism, the banks or much else, but simply a culling of questionable concepts accelerated when people are forced to make more rational decisions. The architecture and vision for these futuristic cities in Dubai is well meaning and exciting, but was doomed from the start for one simple reason: You cannot create a sense of community out of thin air! It has to evolve. If these cities had instead been created as short term vacaction spots (like Club Med) or villas for the rich to zip off to every year, that would probably work. But no matter how wealthy, few will go live there – no matter the price! And if they do, they will soon return ‘home’. People emigrate to destinations like Spain because other than the weather, there is a decades if not centuries old culture and community. Somewhere to walk and explore. Interesting people to chat to at the cafe. Paris wasn’t built in a day.

The future of humanity (as covered here on the middle classes) will probably need to be based on the way of life experienced in or on the boundaries of the countryside in middle class England and close to or even on the sea. Summary: Spacious homes & gardens for the kids to play and grow healthy in, sustainable architecture & energy, walk/bike ways, wireless broadband, natural building materials, symbiotic relationship with nature and various cultures. It works!

Fight back club: Turn Dubai into a sporting holiday destination. Club Med: Strike while the iron is hot!

Written by Oflife

November 27, 2009 at 11:24 am

Speculate to accumulate

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In the US, by the nature of their history and ‘culture’, people are naturally industrious – working and innovating themselves out of difficulty – with little government involvement. Here in the UK, we can achieve great things once in a while (London Eye, Pret A Manger, Waitrose, non-reality TV seeded musical acts etc), but on the whole, Brits tend to be content with their lot. Therefore, when things fall apart, we don’t do anything about it. (Recent journeys on the railways where hundreds of commuters travels were thrust into chaos by ongoing ‘signal’ problems resulted in little if any fury by the late for appointments/work/shopping trip passengers at Reading Station.) Anyway, a few posts ago, this blog suggested that the government invested in apprenticeships with the proven benefit that not only are the unemployed given a robust hope, but it is a perfect opportunity to motivate the young and energetic to create radical new industries that may solve some of the world’s problems. Most importantly, such a strategy will provide the government properly sourced revenue through income taxes. An ethical and faught for alternative to the unacceptable infringements on the dignity, privacy and decenty of the majority of the populace by yet more rediculous dystopian for profit laws that are rapidly stressing and destroying the lives of increasing numbers of honorable people.

Fight back club: Invest in people and ideas.

Update: Apparently, the US gov did invest in some businesses and that may well have kick started their economy. (I don’t recall that happening – I understood that they allowed some companies to fall into Chapter 11.) Is government investment cheating? Depends. If they were simply bailing out failed industries of the past (such as automakers without a sustainable energy strategy) then of course, that is just popularist smoke and mirrors, and things will fall apart again when reality sets in. Either way, business history (in particular in Asia) has proven that when government invests in sound business (even early state cartel / keiretsu arrangements) it provides a robust foundation for opportunity and growth – and therefore mass employment, social stability and tax revenue. And the latter is what this post is all about! Tiddly pom.

Written by Oflife

October 29, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Banking profits

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Like most consumers, I have no idea what these large banks do. But what piques my interest is how a government whose original value proposition was to spread the wealth and be empathic to the working man can extract billions from the tax payer to bail out the banks and then allow this to happen without offering a refund. Yes, the banks can repay the debt to the government (one assumes they will be repaying the government – and therefore us, the public?), but what is worrying is that the banks are not lending to small businesses. And it is small businesses (in particular those engaged in the industries of the future) who will create employment. And employment helps the working man and reduces the need for government hand outs. Seems to me that leftist thought is significantly more elitist and greedy than the capitalist model they pretend to hate.

Can someone enlighten me, as I don’t really understand what the hell is going on. Cheers!

Fight bank club: I have no idea at all. You?

Written by Oflife

October 15, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Great article on destruction of the middle classes

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Other than technology and the surveillance, uhm, planet – the other core topic of this blog is the (dangerous) attempt by the current government to destroy* one of the most valuable, ideal and stable social ‘arrangements’ to have evolved since the assent of (hu)man – namely, the British middle class way of life. Something I had not really thought about until having my eyes opened of late through an increasing interest in the dumbing down of this nation. I have always taken this lifestyle for granted, assuming it was sought and accepted without any controversy. Through observation and thought, I believe the middle class lifestyle appears as utopian as any: Spacious well architected homes (help reduce family tension – animals need space), a healthy (mainly) fresh and natural diet (reduced body maintenance costs), balanced family size, an income that is neither too limiting nor too pretentious, mutually respectable and symbiotic relationship with the working class, generally positive and pragmatic outlook on life, financially self sustaining (less drain on the state), relatively sound common sense ethics and family values (reducing the likelyhood of children turning to serious crime or becoming dysfunctional), polite by nature (except when blindingly sloshed on a fabulous Cabernet Shiraz), less stressed due to the generally holistic nature of the lifestyle (even if the subject is unaware of such concepts), and most importantly – they keep Volvo in business. (Insert wink emoticon here – Ed.)

The problem is, a number of envious and (unjustifiably) bitter individuals have worked their way into government and are afflicting their ‘revenge’ purely because they have a chip on their shoulder. The direct opposite to the US where one is encouraged to aspire to and respect success. An attitude that is very good for the economy by the way. And without a strong economy, people suffer, scapegoats are unjustifiably targeted (Spain today) – and major wars start.

our_previous_home
Enough space to be

Fight back club: Support politicians who promise to reverse the status quo – something that will alas be a lot harder to do in practise. That said, if the government do sense increasing support for such important values, they may change tack – that’s democracy.

*This comment by Artificer from below the above referenced Daily Telegraph article sums it all up…

“In order to bring about a totalitarian Soviet style Europe-wide super state it is necessary to destroy civil society.

Much of civil society is the lower middle class and the respectable working class, who are in essence very similar, in striving to provide for their families a decent life.

That is why this treatment is being meted out.

Its planned, its calculated, its deliberate and its nasty.”

© 2009, The Daily Telegraph

Written by Oflife

September 25, 2009 at 12:06 am

UK unemployment: Bring back apprenticeships

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One or more skills is a priceless lifelong asset, therefore an apprenticeship is the perfect antidote to tough economic times. Young people still living with their parents and therefore devoid of major living expenses gain invaluable work experience, while struggling employers save on costly hirings until things improve and/or their apprentices are skilled enough to become worth something to the company.

I not only enjoyed my apprenticeship that ran in parallel with college, but it provided a skill set that was useful to my early employers and has since proven invaluable almost daily on both a personal and career level. Taking an interest in something is a proven way to earn a living and self respect – reducing the personal and social problems that can break a society.

Note the socialists posting on the BBC News website who suggest that HM gov should PAY the unemployed! Huh? When will these people learn that just as sustainable energy is good for you and the world around you, so, being a self sustaining human being offers the same benefits. Don’t take, make!

Related, this article from the Guardian attempts to imply that Mrs. Thatcher was responsible for unemployment in the 1980s. Wrong! (I know, I was there.) She took Britain out of the stone age and triggered the creation of the service and technology industries that are what powered the next boom and the brands that are surviving the current downturn because they are run by very savvy managers who get it. Mrs. T arrived in a time of mass unemployment caused by industries and unions engaged in obsolete concepts. The way she has been demonised by the BBC and others over the last few years is appalling. She had honor, was completely uncorrupted, full of common sense and significantly more intelligent than any of the current political class. Her somewhat cold persona may have been due to the fact Mrs. Thatcher was a scientist and so took a fairly rational approach to issues that others may have dealt with more compassion.

Fight back club: Bored? Disconnect from the social net, stop watching ‘reality’ TV, hit the library and teach yourself trade and professional skills – after all, who is going to build the gadgets, buildings, solar farms and space ships of the future? If you’re Mr Grumpy in Frumpton, write to your MP and suggest the government support apprenticeships. They worked here in the 1980s and work in Germany, a country teaming with technical talent and, therefore, desirable and increasingly eco friendly automobiles. Not to mention some of the most advanced solar technology in the world. So, go make it so!

Written by Oflife

August 12, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Swine Flu & The Flexible Economy

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Coming soon – and a concept I’ve been mulling for decades, but only now is the world ready to hear it. (Isn’t it funny how some ideas are crazy until in demand?)

Written by Oflife

April 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Economy, Finance, Technology

Tagged with , ,

2030

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Why is it that researchers, scientists and the media do not perform due diligence before they publish materials that are old news? This in today’s Guardian confirms what The Club of Rome Report concluded – back in the 1960s.

jmj_30_march_2008

Jean-Michel Jarre, Royal Albert Hall, 30th March 2008
© Alex B 2008

Fight back club: Sustainable living, sustainable living, and sustainable living. May not save us (we will probably need to populate Mars long term), but a solar economy will make life a lot more bearable for more people because it’s clean and reliable. And the happier people are, the less likely they are to turn to crime, mass migration, war and/or terrorism. You will notice I don’t mention population control. In a well managed economy this occurs naturally – a good reason to encourage failing nations to give it a whirl. 21 years to conduct repairs people.

As a matter of interest, The Club of Rome Report was explained to my high school class and had a major effect on my choices and outlook on life. Isn’t it thought provoking to consider the impact that such events that occur in ones youth can have on your life path? Our class is so lucky to have had such an enlightened and brilliant English and Social Studies teacher who spent so much time discussing world affairs and other interesting subjects beyond the standard curicculum. Thank you, Sir!

Written by Oflife

March 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

Grrr…!

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The blog was conceived to be an outlet for opinion, suggestion or even some entertainment, but in general it’s a way to blow off steam.

george_peppard

This (© The Guardian) is an excellent example of the type of situation that triggers one to vent. We have here an organisation (The Heartland Institute – note their founders and sponsors) that typecasts those who desire an alternative to a carbon based economy. It claims we are a threat to freedom and market growth. Untrue. No matter your opinion on the causes of climate change, a few points:

1. Carbon based economies* pollute. Just wipe your finger across your window sill a week after cleaning it. Those living in or near a city will know what I mean. And to think people (and animals) of all ages are breathing that same stuff in, 24/7. Worse, travel to Africa or parts of India and other poor countries without a grid based power system and be shocked at how millions of people cook using open fires inside small tents or homes, leading to all manner of respiratory illnesses and local atmospheric pollution. Ironic, these countries are often hot and so solar powered zero carbon stoves will offer a long term solution.

2. The majority of those of us involved in the environmental movement are in fact motivated for reasons of compassion and vision. We see problems and would like to fix them. If specific companies or individuals profit from this, great! That’s precisely the sort of market driven process that will create new jobs, motivate our youth and clear the air. Examples include the increasing number of companies (already mentioned elsewhere in this blog) who are working to increase the efficiency of solar cells or developing workable sustainable energy distribution systems.

3. Any dubious behavior by those exploiting environmental issues should not be used as an excuse to criticise people with genuine concerns who base such concerns on valid scientific evidence or common sense observation. And even if they are wrong about some threats, few of the incentives being taken do any harm and are a wise investment. This is little different to the moon missions of the 1960s that lead to major technological advances, new industries and job creation – even if the reasons for the missions was controversial.

*All economies are currently based on carbon. Some (Australia, Dubai, Israel and one or two others) are working to wean themselves away completely.

As hinted at in my ‘We’re not in a recession’ post of a few weeks ago, there are two types of human: Those stuck (financially and by tradition) in the past, who possess an ingrained inability to ‘see farther’ and those who sense that something’s definitely wrong and it needs dealing with or improving. It is critical not to let the former disuade the latter.

Fight back club: Ignore the terrified traditionalists and continue to lead an environmentally responsible lifestyle by investing in companies that are doing their part. Here is another incentive (1). And here is a great introduction to a product that will help get the ball rolling (2).

(1) © 2009 The Guardian. (2) © 2009 The Daily Telegraph.

Written by Oflife

March 9, 2009 at 3:33 am

We’re not in a recession…

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…we’re in a correction. And it’s a biggie. Unlike the actual recessions of the 1970s and 1980s that came about as part of an approximate 11 year cycle, the current correction covers more than just matters fiscal. Yes, the dubious investments helped bring about the current financial woes, but it also (thankfully) exposed flaws in other areas of life and society – everywhere! Any entity built upon a lie or unstable foundations will eventually collapse or be forced to re-boot. It’s not all bad news, we just messed up in some areas and need to make ammends.

Lack of credit had pulled away the supports that propped up businesses that should have adapted or died earlier. For example, a major high street music and video store here in the UK is shutting up shop. How did they expect to compete against online media and ‘survive’ as long as they did? Another sold trashy goods that can be purchased in other more versatile branded supermarkets or online. The branded coffee shops are suffering too – no wonder, £2 for what would buy a months worth of ground coffee. No surprise people are in debt, that’s over £500 a year! A dumbing down of youth (in particular here in the UK) has lead to a whole generation of people who lack the intellect to create anything with value to themselves or society. And with nothing to sell, our nation is forced to raise ‘taxes’ through collective punishment of the middle classes (very very dangerous) with insipid fines and pointless (& sometimes callous) politically correct laws or attitudes. High street banks have imposed crippling fees on consumers for minor oversights. Said fees cause cheques or direct debits to be returned which in turn sometimes incurs a fee, causing things to spin rapidly out of control. So the bank is swimming in consumer fees, but the consumer has no money to spend and oil the wheels of the economy! We have also spent the last 50 to 60 years being sold products that are not only pointless, but over the long term exceptionally damaging to our health and that of the planet. For example, everyday household cleaning goods, industrial pollutants, medications and more collect in our bodies, groundwater and oceans. Deteriorating environment aside, all the resultant weird and unwonderful illnesses effecting people of all ages today are costing our health services and/or individuals a fortune – if one may set asside the suffering for a moment. The media exaggerate everything too, for example, a day after I made this post (this is an addition), snow covered much of the UK and the press made it out to be a disaster, when in fact, it’s fun (for kids and kidults like me), clears the air, looks lovely and happened frequently a decade and more ago. And if America can keep going in 5 feet of snow, we can handle a foot or less. We were given plenty of notice by the weather forecasters. Finally, we have failed to invest (on a Manhattan Project scale) in practical, commercially viable and efficient alternatives to a carbon energy based economy. If we have, when – and where?

Why did this happen? Greed and lack of vision aforethought. Basically, we’ve made a number of naive or nefarious decisions, depending on who we are. So, we’re in a complete mess and are now going to be forced to think carefully, plan wisely and act with an affirmation and confidence before losing the resources and guidance necessary to complete the tasks at hand.

Fight back club: Banks, think about lending to viable businesses that generate capital assets from effort and intellectual property – not consumers who want a nice sofa or plasma TV that devalue the moment they are purchased. People, consider studying science and technology in depth and work towards a solar economy based on market driven concepts. Try to wean yourself off buying all those plastic and processed goods. You don’t need it. Use honey instead of sugar to help save the bees – it’s good for you anyway. Avoid dwelling on the past or allowing those with interests in it to attempt to stop you. These are the essential corrections that will get the ball rolling.

“I think we agree, the past is over”
– George W. Bush

On the food front, Jamie Oliver is doing much to improve things and his efforts to replace crapfluff with goodstuff are paying off already. Way to go.

Written by Oflife

January 31, 2009 at 11:27 pm

This man is spot on

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Hard to believe this is published in The Independent, but it’s very true.

(Dear WordPress, Why can’t we include hyperlinks in posting titles?)

Written by Oflife

January 22, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Capitalism, Economy, Finance

Heathrow Runway 3

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Having opposed this from the start, it is no surprise however to see that matters fiscal are being put over human rights (ever lived under a flightpath?), logistics and clean air. The visionary and environmentally better suggestions from Mrs. Thatcher (where’s common sense when you need her?) and Boris Johnson to locate an all new airport in the Thames Estuary are just what this country needs. An exciting venture that will not only create even more jobs than R3, but provide major opportunities for architects, planners, designers and those in the construction industry – while at the same time, relieving the people of London of a messy noisy poluting uninspiring airport held together by ducktape and cardboard.

The land where Heathrow sits today could be turned into a huge wildlife park including a sport and recreation centre – away from the polution of central London – and not too far from Windsor and other places of interest.

Fight back club: Buy or donate to causes that are buying land to block construction work.

Sadly, as per my prior posting, I am not confident R3 opponents will win. Britain has lost all concept of vision and good sense, so will continue to become a really nasty place to live and aspire.

Written by Oflife

January 15, 2009 at 11:42 am

Posted in Economy, Politics, Transport

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