Sunday, January 24, 2010

UK gov trains us to think the unthinkable, daily

One of the reasons that the Chilton enquiry is getting some press, I think, is the whole "45 minutes to launch WMD" story - the problem with the story in the first place is that it was written by politicians and civil servants from a generation of people bought up under the threat of armageddon - but this was the first generation to experience this chilling thought, that a finger on a button in Moscow or DC could end the world.

Now, people are routinely hearing about "horrifying" or "terrifying" things on the news (natural, like Tsunami or Haiti quake, or human, like Bhopal or Beslan)- far from becoming completely numb to these things, rather, the population that bothers to think can now think in terms of plausible risks and limits to damage. This means that the general, critical thinking part of the population doesn't just freeze, when some bogey-man alleged threat is invoked - they stop to consider it compared to other threats (e.g. did saddam hussein have missiles that could reach beyond the middle east? nope.) and rank it in their thinking - as Martin Amis said on TV in the 30th anniversary shindig for Newsnight, "more americans drowned in bathtubs last year than in all the terrorist attacks on the USA" (I'm not sure he's right, but he's certainly in the ballpark).

No, fact is: governments better get used to the fact that anyone under 50 can consider a spectrum of armageddons, ranging from the War with the Machines from T2, down to a couple of pre-teen kids torturing a couple of other kids nearly to death, and seperate out reality from fantasy, and rank the risks.

We don't stop thinking anymore when we hear "armageddon"
This isn't the Cold War, and this isn't the Middle Ages.

Friday, January 22, 2010

redistribution of wealth in the UK under labour

appears to mean
take money and jobs from the people
and give the money to the banks and the jobs to other countries.

when asked (e.g. on QUestiontime on TV this week) why does the government let
Royal Bank of Scotland (80% state owned) lend money to Kraft to buy cadbury
government ministers (and of course tories) say
"oh, but if we intereed in what the banks did, it would mess up the free market and financial service industry which is so succesful at creating wealth and blah blah blahh

1. they messed up the free market by borrowing 150billion pounds from china and putting it into failing businesses (those banks)
2. those banks were not sucesful at creating national wealth, only wealth for a small number of people. other countries that didnt do this had JUST AS MUCH wealth increase
and had a better distribution of that increase over the population.

this is proof positive that the government are unfit to govern since they don't represent the people, not even as shareholders in the banks they bought "on our behalf".

anyhow, if i was (say) a rich bastard who owned a steel mill and a bank, would I let the bank invest money in a competitor steel mill and have it buy my steel mill at a knock down pice, asset strip it, and move on? no i wouldn't. so why did Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling let RBS do this?

The answer is they are too scared to do ANYTHING - they even looked like frighted rabbits in the headlights nowadays.

maybe they will copy Obama, now he's moved on from healthcare to wealthcare reform ....but i'm not optimistic.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

billy bragg is right - the government and RBS are irresponsible, imoral, unethical, lying, short term thinkers behaving like robber barons.

Billy Bragg protest about RBS bonus is absolutely justified

value chain:-

sell of Cadbury to foreigners (just for 1 example) - make more people unemployed - sell of their houses - some of them to foreeign investors - some of them probably to MPs who use them as second houses and claim them as expensies.

profits (abroad) made by bankers, go to their bonuses so they have more money to buy more assets from the more unemployed layed off b the richer government in cuts in public services - banks bailed out by public momey

look, RBS is about to announce 1.5 billion in bonuses - this is the amount the government is cutting higher education&research this year. How short term, bone headedly stupid is that.

UK PLC - bollocks - we aren't a PLC - the government is not taking any liability, and is selling off our assets as if they belong to a private sector and rich minority, a sector that proved itself incompetent and corrupt many times over

now we see RBS is asset stripping British companies, selling them off to the US, and then making a fast buck to pay its bonuses - how stupid is this - an 80% UK taxpayer owned company is helping make UK taxpayers redundent (i.e Cadbury's workers), so they can't pay tax and the other ta payers will be supporting them on social security
so the bastards at RBS can get bigger bonuses.

billy is right to be angry. so am i. i predict a riot.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

HR, worse than cockroaches

worse than lawyers and estate agents (realtors, for US reader), HR people makework
and they make pointless work

a friend of mine is applying for lots of jobs in charities - they seem to be completely infested with HR - Bullshit - basically, all the "job specifications" are 99% boilerplate and only 1% actually talk about the actual work - i.e. what is involved in terms of day to day activities and what is required in terms of specific skills - the rest of it, stuff that anyone who could actually carry out the activities and had the requisite skills and knowledge would, by definition, be able to do in their sleep, makes up 9% plus of any form, and is all boilerplate (i.e. required zero effort by the HR person responsible, zero thought, zero knowledge of the actual domain, zero skill, probably even involved copyright theft since a lot of them look the same so are probably nicked form other companies or other sites on the net) - its shocking - I've seen this creeping madness in staff appraisal schemes in academia and industry, but now it pervades the whle lifecycle.

It must be stamped out - these folks don't even deserve a berth on the B-Ark.

HR = Hateful Reflux

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

taxing patience, taxing bankers...nowhere to run

boris johnson (erstwhile mayor of london) claims 9000 bankers will leave london because of a) 50% tax, b) tax on bonuses.
So where will they go? certainly not china or india, who wouldn;t have them, and probably not america now that Barack Obama is thinking of introducing the same thing
(see NY Times today) or gernany or france where merckl and sarkozy both think Brown's tax is not such a bad idea at all

I like this - the banks thought they could get away from national regulation by being global - they forgot the G7/8/30/blah are global too - we can follow you, anywhere, even through solid air.

taxes on stupidity really need to be made more coherent too, though - we need to tax people who run large miliatry budgets, and tax exports from regions running (real) piracy
I can see a whole new emergence of control by the "outland revenue service" (ORS:)
tracking down miscreants (a bit like Al Capone, jailed in the end for tax evasion rather than just being a gangster

after all, what is the difference between organized crime and merchant banking?
(that's a rhetorical question, btw, but if you want me to answer it, the answer is
"absolutely zero").

holding on to longevity by fingernails?

so its generally acknowledged that all mammals have the rough same number of heartbeats in a lifetime - seems to be a result of the physics of scale Iguess

but what about the number of times you shed/replace skin, or grow new claws/ fingernails?
is that an invariant too?

I think we should be told...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

US healthcare update

seems pretty simple to me..

Monday, January 04, 2010

why don't birds freeze?

given their altitude and wind chill, I'd expect them to fall out of the sky and land on someone's head...but they don't do that very often - they have very little mass and therefore little heat capacity - how do they not just turn into a lump of ice eh?

Pere Ubu (well, the singer, David Thomas) said "I think the birds are a good idea" and he wasn't talking about the band either, but are they? I think they are as innumberable as bees and as indecipherable as