Thursday, 11 April 2019

Yes, but who will stand up for the thieves and adulterers?

There has - quite rightly - been an uproar about Brunei's threat/promise to punish homosexual acts by stoning people to death. Anybody who thinks this is justifiable clearly has a very, very sick mind, because being gay or lesbian is in fact perfectly natural, in the same way as being left-handed is perfectly natural. Some people just are.

But... they intend/hope to stone adulterers to death as well. Personally, I think adultery is despicable behaviour, but it's certainly not a 'crime' that requires a state-sanctioned punishment.

Same goes for 'thieves'. Typical Western penalties - social shaming; fines; community service or prison in serious cases (such as burglary) - seem reasonable to me. To want to chop somebody's actual hand off requires an equally sick mind.

But unfortunately thieves and adulterers don't have their own lobby, for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

More Brexit LOLZ

From The Electoral Commission website:

European Parliamentary elections (Great Britain)

We have published our guidance for the European Parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on 23 May 2019.
The elections will take place in other EU Member States between Thursday 23 and Sunday 26 May 2019.
This page contains our guidance and resources on how to comply with the rules in Great Britain.
An overview document gives instructions on how to use this guidance and who does what at these elections. Read the Overview (PDF)
We have produced a timetable with all of the relevant deadlines. View the election timetable (DOC).
If you are a candidate or agent in Northern Ireland please see Guidance for candidates and agents at European Parliamentary elections in Northern Ireland.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Nobody move or the exam timetable gets hurt!

Going round the silliness clock with the TES:

Pupils might have to sit their GCSEs and A-levels on later dates or at alternative sites in the “nightmare” scenario of a no-deal Brexit causing significant traffic disruption, Tes can reveal.

Exam board sources have told Tes that in the most extreme scenario of a large number of candidates not being able to sit a paper, “drastic” action could be taken to postpone the sitting across the entire country.

"May to meet Merkel and Macron for talks"

... is the shortened version of the headline to this article on the BBC's front page.

Which scans like the first line of (something like) a limerick:

May to meet Merkel and Macron for talks,
All on a cold April day.
The plan is well scripted - when one of them walks,
She will ask for a further delay.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Seems like good value to me.

From the BBC:

In their "summary for policymakers", the scientists stated that: "All pathways that limit global warming to 1.5C with limited or no overshoot project the use of [Carbon Dioxide Removal] ...over the 21st century."

Around the world, a number of companies are racing to develop the technology that can draw down carbon. Swiss company Climeworks is already capturing CO2 and using it to boost vegetable production.

Carbon Engineering says that its direct air capture (DAC) process is now able to capture the gas for under $100 a tonne.

Putting all cynicism to one side* and taking all of this at face value, let's go with it and look at motoring (we could do the same for electricity generation, but the numbers are more difficult to track down and so subject to far larger margins of error).

In round numbers...

$100 per tonne = £77 per tonne = 7.7p per kg.

One litre of petrol or diesel = about 2.5 kg of CO2.

2.5 kg x 7.7p/kg = 20p.

Pump price per litre = £1.20, of which about £0.80 is VAT and Fuel Duty.

Taxes on fuel are an excellent kind of tax, don't get me wrong, but only about one-quarter of taxes on motoring (in the wider sense) are spent on the direct costs of motoring (roads, traffic police, emergency services etc) and three-quarters is 'social surplus' which rightfully belongs to the whole community to spend as it will.

If the whole community decides that one-third of the social surplus should be spent on 'fighting climate change', then we're all sorted. If they would rather spend it on something else, that's their decision and not the motorists' problem.

* I don't believe a word of any of it, but I like quoting people's numbers back at them.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

My updated dream crap-but-loveable car list

I keep a list on a post-it, which is getting increasingly grubby. I've crossed out some from my initial list and added a couple:

1. and 2. I've already got an automatic Mazda MX5 NB (98-05) and a Toyota MR2 mkIII (1998 - 2007). Best cars ever, frankly.

If money and parking space were no object, which happily they are, here are cars 3 to 7 on my dream crap-but-lovable car list:

3. MG MGF (2000-02 facelift version), a VVC if I'm allowed to be fussy, not the Trophy version with the silly spoiler.

4. MG TF (2002-05). Maybe a 160?

3/4. What I don't like about the MG TF is the front grille, which is just slots cut into the bonnet and looks 'French' somehow. The short-lived MG TF LE500 (2007-08) was an MG TF, but it had a proper MGB/MGF-style front grille. So I could merge 3 and 4 and just buy an LE500.

5. Honda Prelude fifth gen (1997-2001), pref. the Japanese Si/SiR version. I'd rather have a first gen /facelift version (ca 1982) but you can't find a decent manual one for love or money any more.

6. Honda CRX Del Sol (1992-98), with the manual targa roof. I see one of these parked on my road occasionally, they are dinky but quite cool.

7. A Peugeot 406 coupé (1997-2004). I saw one of these recently for the first time in years and they really are beautiful to look at.

I think seven's enough. Mainly manual RWD two-seaters, with a couple of automatics, FWDs and four seaters for 'balance'.

Friday, 5 April 2019

There was no mention of this in the IPCC report

From the BBC:

What's really significant, though, is that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was very similar [in the Pliocene] to what it is today - at around 400 CO2 molecules for every million molecules of air...

Temperatures may currently be lower than in the Pliocene, but that's only because there is a lag in the system, he says. "If you put your oven on at home and set it to 200C, the temperature doesn't get to that level immediately; it takes a bit of time," [Prof Martin Siegert from the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London] told reporters.

"And it's the same with Earth's climate. If you ratchet up the level of CO2 at 400 parts per million (ppm), it won't suddenly get to an equilibrium overnight. It will take maybe 300 years or something. So, the question to us is: what is the equilibrium state; what is Earth's climate going to look like with 400ppm, all things being settled?"

The IPCC report explained that increasing CO2 levels from 0.03% to 0.04% would increase temperatures, because ever so slightly more infra-red will be reflected back to the earth's surface. Well of course temperatures will increase, the question is, by how much? A tiny fraction of a degree or as many as two? They left that open.

However much the increase is, how quickly would we expect this to happen? It is warmer at night when it's cloudy than when the sky is clear, if the cloud cover blows away, you notice the temperature drop within minutes.

So if, hypothetically, C02 levels were to jump from 0.04% to to 0.05% overnight and this actually increased temperatures, you might not expect any related increase in temperatures to happen within minutes or hours, but perhaps within days, or months or even a whole year.

"Three centuries" is taking the piss.

It's Opposites Day!

From a blatantly biased article at the BBC:

Leo Varadkar restated his commitment to an open border in Ireland with free movement of people and frictionless trade, with no tariffs and no checks.

Sounds excellent, but wait...

He added: "We don't want Ireland to become a back door to the single market in the event of a hard Brexit."

Isn't that more or less the opposite of the first statement? Or at least, near the other end of a continuum between 'free trade' and 'hard border'? Or what? The more you try and read it in context, the more ambiguous it becomes. Is it OK for the I/NI border to be a 'back door' if there is a 'soft' Brexit, in which case, how 'soft'?

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Reader's Letter Of The Day

From today's City AM (my emphasis):

Re: Deadlocked MPs reject soft Brexit as Tory MP quits party in protest

It is a sad comment on the state of our politics when 261 MPs are prepare to vote for a proposal which is a legal impossibility.

I refer to the crazy plan promoted by Nick Boles MP, under which we would join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and therefore be required to remove all customs duties on goods from other EFTA states, while continuing to allow the EU to determine what customs duties we would apply, including on imports from other EFTA states.

So, to take on example, the EU dictates that we must impose a 13 per cent tariff on Norwegian smoked salmon and continuation of that tariff would obviously be incompatible with the zero tariffs which operate within EFTA.

The legal impossibility of this 'compromise' scheme was pointed out by a Norwegian politicans in a UK national newspaper as far back as December [2018] saying: 'It is not an option for the UK to stay indie the customs union... if you are part of the EFTA platform.'

But Mr Boles chose to ignore that, and now his suggestion has rightly been rejected.

Dr D R Cooper, Maidenhead

I emailed Denis Cooper to say well done, he said he didn't think rejoining EFTA was a good idea anyway, so we disagree on that, but hey - I always thought there was something fishy about Boles' plan.

Fun with numbers

From The Guardian: On 27 March, MPs voted against 'Motion B: no deal in the absence of a withdrawal agreement' by 400 to 160.

Also from The Guardian: The Cooper bill [ruling out 'no deal'] has passed its third reading with a majority of only one vote, 313 to 312

So there must be a significant number of MPs who voted against 'No Deal' but also voted against 'No no deal'. The mind boggles. Maybe there are some who just vote against every proposal by force of habit?