Monday, June 24, 2019


no, i'm not talking about greener washing machine detergents.

i'm talking about the number of projects i've been asked to join recently looking at air quality in cities, and correlating it with transport, health, etc

I remember when they cleaned the victorian coal-smoke black off of Westminster Abbey.
I remeber when they got rid of led (anti-knocking) additives in petrol.
I remember when they banned smoking in public places.

I'd have thought it was completely obvious that we should have a lot less crap in the air. whether its from cigarettes, or diesel, or coal or just people talking rubbish.

lets move on to more important things like reliable safe water, sea level, extreme weather, and species extinction.

lets stop window-dressing (eco-washing - as in ethics washing) with these superficial, trivial, obvious problems which have solutions which happen as a side effect of solving the really big problems.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

frogboiling on multiple timescales

the country is getting used to being boiled a la frog.

we have the spectacle of the tory leadership campaign - today's news is that over 100 tory MPs are backing someone who has been fired for lying from one job, and made the country a laughing stock in his utterly useless (but offensive) antics as foreign secretary. he didn't totally screw up london while mayor, but he did throw £40M quid down the toilet trying to build a garden bridge for his rich buddies.

then we have the spectacle of brexit, a plan so without merit that it makes playing chicken with cars on the freeway look very sensible

then we have climate change - the last three days, people are probably thinking to themselves that 1.5C rise in average temperature really wouldn't be such a bad thing.

no. no. no. stop this. stop all of this. just stop.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

technological solutions to the Irish Border backstop/stopgap/barrier to an orderly brexit

A. Is the answer DLT (no, that isn't Deer, Lettuce and Tomatoe)

1. it's a multilateral problem (i.e. you have 3 or more parties) - obviously - the republic of ireland, the UK, and the EU (more if you want fine grain distinctions such as NI, etc) - so any tech for managing people, goods and services needs to deal with 3+ stakeholders.
2. there's no trust (if there was, we wouldn't be in this mess) - so relying on the ECJ, Dublin Courts or the British courts won't cut it
3. the solution has to last a while, and survive changes...

All these are pre-conditions for choosing blockchain (or distributed ledger) technologies. superficially.
however,, going the other direct, blockchain systems are typically run by people we don't trust (e.g. bitcoin miners are mostly in PRC), or are centralised by US based companies (Etherium and Hyperledger services run by Amazon or IBM or others), or don't scale fast enough to cope with the transaction rate (all of the above fail this test too).

So that rules out blockchain.

B. What does that leave?

Quantum entanglement and SQuID based sensors would be cool if we could afford them (but if every accountable radish has to have a 100,000 pound supercooled widget attached to it the size of a small fridge, that's kind of a bit overkill.

C. I propose Maxwell's Demons, as reported in 1867. These are small, cheap, and have the added advantage of being a British Invention. They can be employed everywhere, taking very little space and using next to no energy at all - hence this is also a sustainable solution. If it works, we can see it being adopted all over the world - for example, a first obvious customer is Donald Trump who can use it on the Mexican and Canadian borders right away for a small license fee.

D. Of course, this doesn't deal with the actual problem, which is (as discussed here) non-technological, but it will get the politicians to stop wasting us Geek's time with stupid questions