Tag Archives: opinion

Reality?


This week on Facebook: Having written a short true story with the title The House of the Dead,  I now find myself as an ‘official carer’ and have to confess that I have not been a particularly ‘caring one’! Holding views on the nature of ‘reality’ that I do, I view the world about me in a completely different way from someone who doesn’t have the same perceptions¹. This month my views eventually caused me to question the very nature of normally perceived ‘reality’, leading me in the first instance to the TED video included below and the website on Brain Reality. Read more of this post

Nuclear Energy a solution or a problem?


This week on Facebook: Following last week’s post on Hinkley C, prompted me to ask if nuclear energy was a solution or a problem? What is nuclear energy? Is the energy sources of a State separated from its political system? The supply of nuclear energy has led to contentions between the State and its energy suppliers, particularly those involving the cost of nuclear energy. The State relies on electricity for much of its commercial energy and even more so for its supply of domestic energy. Electricity is now a source of global energy for any developed and developing State, both domestically and commercially. Nuclear energy supply¹ and the storage of nuclear waste², already electoral issues in the western world, are increasingly global political issues. Read more of this post

Hinkley C & UK Nuclear Energy


This week on Facebook: Are articles on the UK and nuclear energy, mainly as a response to my post in 2016 with title Points about Hinkley. The articles, apart from that at (5), all come from Carbon Brief, which describes itself as a UK-based website covering the latest developments in climate science, climate policy and energy policy. It claims to specialise in clear, data-driven articles and graphics to help improve the understanding of climate change, both in terms of the science and the policy response. Publishing a wide range of content, including science explainers, interviews, analysis and factcheck, as well as daily and weekly email summaries of newspaper and online coverage. Read more of this post

Influenced? Moi!


Next week on Facebook: I am going to add articles on the UK and nuclear energy as a response to my post in 2016 with title Points about Hinkley. UK Government policy is to have a wide mix of energy supplies, so we use nuclear alongside other energy sources, such as gas and solar. Today, nuclear energy generates around one fifth of the country’s electricity, and under current government proposals that include Hinkley Point C, some of our power will come from nuclear sources in the future. Read more of this post

HS2 & ‘The Case’


This Week on Facebook: In last week’s post I included a comment by John Redwood with the title, Would you invest your money in HS2 that was (in general terms) opposed to its development. This week I am including  some alternative responses to the HS2. Although in general terms the cost of HS2 generates more article against the scheme than for it. The article associated with the image below gives the impression that the responses of the disgruntled, are not just those of the nimby. The case for or against HS2, is given in the included articles below and the references¹⋅²⋅³.

ICT solutions such as video and teleconferencing solutions have become an integral way to conduct business, but as we can see from the increasing demand for passenger journey, travel is still very important. Developing efficient transport links is important for economic growth, but of course HS2 is not the only solution to support this. (3)

Stop HS2 — click image

Kipper-Williams-on-HS2-009


1. HS2 — 12 arguments for and against: The first phase between London and Birmingham will open in 2026. A V-shaped second section will be added in 2033, going to Manchester and Leeds. The government says it expects 70% of jobs created to be outside London. A government-commissioned report by accountants KPMG suggests that the Midlands and north will benefit more than the capital.

2. HS2 to boost UK economy ‘by £15bn a year’ says report: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) criticised the scheme, saying: “So far, the Department [of Transport] has made decisions based on fragile numbers, out-of-date data and assumptions which do not reflect real life.” The committee also said there was no evidence the line would help the growth of regional cities and would instead draw even more business to London. KPMG’s report to the department was commissioned by HS2 Ltd, which is a non-departmental public body wholly owned by the Department for Transport.

3. HS2 — can the technology meet expectations? The UK’s railway system is the oldest in the world and was established about 180 years ago. It is a mixed usage system, which means the track needs to serve three major purposes; long haul intercity journeys, short haul commuting journeys and freight. Intercity connections are very important, which is one reason the government chose to prioritise the service, but that squeezed the capacity around larger cities like London and Manchester.

4. Transport experts call for independent review of HS2 options: Alternatives to HS2 should be reconsidered, a group of travel experts have warned in a report saying the high-speed rail line could be five times as expensive as an equivalent railway in France.

5. Unlocking the benefits of HS2: Government policy is to build HS2, both phases one and two, and to improve regional rail connectivity through schemes like Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Connect. To do one without the other is a foolhardy choice and does a great disservice to the country. Nowhere would feel the full benefits of HS2 if we see it as a binary choice between HS2 and other programmes to better connect our regions. The great towns and cities across the North and Midlands, from Bradford to Birmingham, need both.


Referenced Articles Books & Definitions:

  • A bold text subscript above and preceding a title below (¹·²·³), refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download url that is usually free.
  • Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) reference a particular included article (1-5).
  • A link (url), which usually includes the title, are to an included source.
  • The intended context of words, idioms, phrases, have their links in italics.
  • A long read url* (when used below) is followed by a superscript asterisk.
  • Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
  • JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online. 

¹HS2 Phase Two—Economic case advice for the Department for Transport (pdf): Risk analysis shows that the case for the Phase 2a increment is robust to a variety of potential changes to both scheme and cost assumptions. The majority of the sensitivities tested — including variations in construction costs, fares and GDP — provide over a two-thirds chance of the scheme providing medium, or higher, value for money.

²The Economics of High Speed 2 (pdf): Before spending more taxpayers’ money on this project, we believe that Government should answer the questions raised in this report. It needs to demonstrate that HS2 is the most effective way of achieving the declared objectives of the project and, if it is not, then the plan needs to change. The lengthy passage of the enabling legislation for the first phase of the construction provides an opportunity to examine the case for HS2. There should be no embarrassment in being prepared to revise the project: the objectives and cost are too important.

³Economic evaluation of the High Speed Rail (pdf): All over the world, governments of different political orientation are investing in high speed rail (HSR) infrastructure. In some countries the enthusiasm is more intense than in others. There is no a single pattern. UK and the US are now closer to building HSR infrastructure but until now they have been reluctant to give the definitive approval, and the money allocated to HSR has not gone beyond financing the cost of the evaluation of its economic and financial viability. Other countries, like France and Spain, have been keener on HSR than other European countries like Norway or Sweden, for example, whose governments are still studying whether this type of investment is socially worthy. Spain is a unique case because with much less traffic density than other countries (and much less congestion) in the conventional rail network, it is going to very soon be one of the first countries in the world measured in HSR kilometers.

Influence — maybe?


On looking at some of my ‘drafts posts’ I came across one that included the case for HS2 and decided to post it this week. I am reminded of an article that I read some time ago when an Englishman was bemoaning the fact it took so long (with the appeals procedures) to get things ‘done’ in England. He was engaged in a conversation with a Frenchwoman on train journey through France, in which the Frenchwoman said, “Monsieur, in France, when we want to drain a swamp, we don’t tell the frogs what we intend to do.” I’m not sure if the remark was true, or the Frenchwoman was simply poking fun at the Englishman. Either way, I thought the Frenchwoman’s remark quite funny and recounted it to my colleague when we met for our monthly ‘pie and a pint’.

The subject came up when I asked him about HS2. He is a model rail enthusiast and knows far more about trains than I do, so I assumed that he would know about the HS2. It apparently is not a subject that appears great deal in model railway magazines and my colleague knew less about the HS2 than me. We did however end up discussing high speed rail in the word today (which he knew a lot about), and specifically in relation to the notion of comparative advantage (which I knew a lot about). Incidentally, I did remember an article that I had read on Japanese Bullet Train — probably attracted to it by its reference to the kingfisher.

Kingfisher perched on a branch — click image

 

On Friday morning I sat at my computer (unable to sleep) and searched for articles that may support the case for HS2. Clearly I am influenced by my own views, an Independent newspaper article appealed to me claiming that HS2 won’t improve Government’s poor record on infrastructure. Although I’m not quite sure if this is not simply a left wing newspaper popping at an austere  right wing government, or if it is seriously intended to address the lack of rail infrastructure in the UK.

The Independent article fails to mention that in practice that any UK government always spends more money than it receives as revenue and mentioned a report that predicted and expected economic growth in 2025. Economic growth? I live in a State dependent on deficit financing in which the public administration must raise the necessary finance. I have to wonder just how much I am influenced by what I choose to read on social-media.

Criminals & Taxation (reprise)


This week on Facebook: It was only casually reading about the Lloyds bank case that I decided to research some of the government’s financial losses¹ for which no one, and especially not a politician or apparently any other public servant is ever held responsible (the original can be viewed here).

I read that the fraud scandal carried out at Lloyds bank took the police six years to investigate at a cost £7 million (excluding the cost of the trial). The case was dealt with by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) which, regardless of its successes and failures, as part of the public sector, has an impact on a seemingly inexorable budget deficit.

Certainly some investigative journalism usually results in a story reaching the public, it may even create a furore for a time, but the government know that any furore will eventually subsided and its cause forgotten. The fraud investigation by the SFO at Lloyds bank (a bank involved in a government £20bn bailout) resulted in six fraudsters being sent to jail and a possible £100 million compensation paid to small-business victims by Lloyds bank (1). Read more of this post

A little weed! (article reprise)


This week on Facebook: I never paid a great deal of attention to the issue of forbidden drugs and legislation but age has not only enfeebled my body but also my brain. Some time ago my attention was caught by an article linking cannabis and ageing (the original can be seen here) and it was curiosity that drew me to read the article rather than any desire to smoke pot.

This week I had a conversation with an artisan who does some work for me, and he was making the case against the legalisation of cannabis. This started me thinking about the subject for another post. Is there a connivance by the government to make Aldous Huxley’s 1962 prediction a reality?

It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: That we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude. Aldous Huxley 

Read more of this post

Poetry & other ‘things’!


This week on Facebook: Not that I am short of things to write about but sometimes even I get bored with myself and my tendency to rabbit on and on Still, when I meet my ex-colleague for our monthly ‘pie and a pint’ we often discuss how little things have actually changed. Then we are both getting old and hold the geriatric view that the world is going to hell in a handcart.

Of course materially things have changed quite dramatically, particularly post WWII and especially for the following generations. Although I’m not sure that today Aaron Copland could call his piece Fanfare for the Common Man without raising a controversy. I’m sure that any such controversy would get a mention in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, unlike Copland’s sexuality. It seems that todays society has a predilection for declaring and writing about sexual orientation something that has yet to occur, at least in our conversation over a ‘pie and a pint’. But then it may all be part of a geriatric view that the world really is going to hell in a handcart.

Not so the epigram plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, which is probably familiar to most of my generation. However, some of my family may read my reflections so for their benefit I will add that it was a somewhat cynical remark by Alphonse Karr translated as, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. 

Read more of this post

The Quantity Theory of Money


This week on Facebook: I have to think very hard about whether I am a monetarist or not, the answer seems to depend on how strongly I believe that the State guides its political economy by changes to the monetary supply and other forms of fiat money creation. It was an article or remark of Mervyn King in which he displayed misconceptions about money velocity, particularly with regard to quantitative easing, that first brought the Irving Fisher equation of exchange (MV=PT) to my attention. Economist vacillate over measuring Instruments in economics¹ and while I would hardly call myself an economist — I share in their vacillations. Read more of this post

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Martin Widlake's Yet Another Oracle Blog

Oracle performance, Oracle statistics and VLDBs

The Land Is Ours

a Landrights campaign for Britain

The Bulletin

This site was created for members and friends of My Telegraph blog site, but anyone is welcome to comment, and thereafter apply to become an author.

TCWG Short Stories

Join our monthly competition and share story ideas...

The Real Economy

Blogs and stuff from Ed Conway

Public Law for Everyone

Professor Mark Elliott

Bleda

Am I my Brothers keeper?

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