The Blog

I've got one of these frame locks, am happy with it and now I want to buy another one (UK). But I'm drawing a blank from all the usual sources, like Amazon, eBay, Evans, etc. I'm even having trouble sourcing one from Germany/France.

It must be the LH NKR variant that is screw mounted and allows the key to be removed. I'd prefer black but would accept black-silver.
 ABUS Bicycle Lock 4850 LH/SP (NKR), 8.5 mm, Black: : Sports & Outdoors »
Buy ABUS Bicycle Lock 4850 LH/SP (NKR), 8.5 mm, Black at Amazon UK. Free delivery on eligible orders.

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Farr is a boutique electronic dance festival on July 13-14-15. Near Baldock on the A1, 30 miles north of London. Think 3 nights of clubbing rather than a "festival" festival with some well known House and Techno names.

I've got access again to a limited number of tickets at the "Super Early Bird" price of £75+£6 instead of the regular £90. Available at the link below.

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Don't eat the seed corn.

We're going to need all the fossil fuel that's left to create a world where we don't need it any more.

 The Sower's Way: some comments »
Image: sower by Vincent Van Gogh The publication of the paper "The Sower's way: Quantifying the Narrowing Net-Energy Pathways to a Global Energy Transition" by Sgouridis, Csala, and Bardi, has generated some debate on the "Ca...

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Avaaz is raising money for the refugee team at the Rio Olympics.

"These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem," IOC president Thomas Bach said.

I immediately thought of James Bridle and his "Flag For No Nations" essay. Can we get them to walk in the opening ceremony behind a space blanket as well as the Olympic flag?

A Flag for No Nations.

Refugee team to make history at Rio Olympics (CNN)

After she swam for her life, Syrian refugee now Olympic hopeful (Huffington Post)

The refugee team

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"Welcome to the first true post-mass media election."

Yes. That really happened.

Obama ramped up the social media to dizzying heights and Bernie surfed far past where an also-ran could be expected to wind up, but Trump is kicking it, and he's tapped into something utterly terrifying. Sort of like an unholy, ghastly hybrid of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, and the late Sir James Goldsmith, rebooted in New Jersey and sent on a daikaiju rampage through the American Id.


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You'll hear a lot of talk about calls for a UK General Election because Theresa May wasn't democratically elected. Quite apart from misunderstanding representative democracy there's a small problem that hardly gets mentioned. It took Nick Clegg last night to recognise it in public, but even he glossed over the problems. He was the architect of the Fixed term act of 2011. which was a sop to the LibDems to get them on board for the coalition. This act requires 5 year fixed terms but Clegg claimed on TV that there are methods built in whereby elections can be called early. Well, in order for a general election to be held before the term is up, one of three things has to happen.
1) The act is repealed
2) There is a vote of no confidence in the government, without a second vote of confidence in the government in 14 days. Both by a simple majority in the House of Commons.
3) There is a vote for an early election passed by 2/3 of the MPs

There is precedent in Europe for option 2) to be deliberately pushed by an incumbent coalition but it's very unusual. Try and imagine a Tory government with a majority calling for no confidence in itself with a 3 line whip to make it happen! Not going to happen. Try and imagine a coalition of SNP, Labour and Tory renegades getting a vote of no confidence passed against a Tory 3 line whip. Again, not going to happen.

So unless something really, really bad happens or for some reason Theresa May resigns, it looks like we're stuck with her and the Tories till 7-May-2020.

And she'll be watching you.


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Jimmy Cauty's ADP tour of a "Riot in a container" is paying a visit to the Beanfield next weekend and then on to Stonehenge for the Solstice.

I thought I'd go and try and find the location both of the battle and exactly where the container is going to be sited. It turns out the Beanfield was cut in half by the building of the A303 dual carriageway and the small lane the convoy was forced down is now a dead end. But in the process I found a wonderful image of exactly where the container is going on google streetview. It looks like some squaddies in a tank have stopped for a full english in the middle of some J.G.Ballard-ian dystopian landscape that just needs a couple of hundred police in fluorescent jackets to be part of the show.

Streetview, container location
Aerial, Beanfield

It's 31 years since the Battle of the Beanfield

It gets better. Just round the corner is a red brick motel and a swish boutique hotel with golf course. Not quite pink, but still,

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot SPOT
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
‘Til it's gone

Brexit Leave campaign
meets Right wing think tanks
meets Right wing tabloids and broadsheets
meets Climate change denial
meets Big Oil
meets GMO/Big Agriculture

And all tied together by lobbyists and lobbyist organisations out of a single address in Westminster

It's not about Boris's hair or Farage's latest craziness.
It's not about Turkey joining the EU or some mythical tide of immigrants stealing our jobs and our benefits.
It's not about EU bureaucracy
It's not about saving or killing the NHS

It's about a high-stakes, power grab by all the usual suspects.

Don't give it to them.

Vote remain.

ps. The link between climate change denial and GMO promotion is wierd. You'd think if you denied science in one place you'd mistrust it in others. But of course it's never about the science. It's about regulatory capture by big business.

And not so surprising that the Leave campaign doesn't want to talk about the environment.
 Mapped: The Cosy Climate-Euro Sceptic Bubble Pushing for Brexit and Less Climate Action »
There is a deep-rooted connection between UK climate science deniers and those campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union, new mapping by DeSmogUK can reveal.

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One more time, with feeling. Farr festival is a boutique electronic dance festival on July 14-15-16. Near Baldock on the A1, 30 miles N of London.

For just a little longer, the ticket link below is for weekend camping tickets at a heavy discount.

From tomorrow (May 24) for one week. Tickets @ £75 and 3 for £150. Get in there.

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Let's talk about global population for a moment. There's a technotopian view that "Given current trends, it is very possible that the size of the human population will peak this century and then start to decline.". This is an idea that Stewart Brand promotes as does Kevin Kelly as evidenced by their bets on the Long Bets website among others. Typically this goes along with comments like "The growth rate of the human population has already peaked. Today’s population growth rate is one percent per year, down from its high point of 2.1 percent in the 1970s."

Now, the best source of data about global population is probably the UN. Their papers are pretty dry but there's a good summary of their data here. And also in the UN's executive summary here. What seems to have happened is that the growth in population was close to an exponential curve up to about 1950. But then it transitioned to a linear growth so that from about 1965 to 2015 the growth in absolute numbers has been pretty constant at 1b every 12-14 years, 80m every year. Now in a linear growth phase, of course the RATE in terms of the percentage of the total is going down. Simple maths. A constant addition is a smaller and smaller proportion of the growing total. However the linear rate is constant. If the growth in population is following a resource constrained logistics curve we would expect an S shape. So that after the linear region we would expect the growth to slow and the total to then plateau out. However looking at the UN forecasts, even the most optimistic has the peak at around 10b in 2080. The median predictions don't top out this century and hit 11.2 billion by 2100. The UN has recently revised (2015) their forecast of 10 billion persons in the year 2056 (six years earlier than previously estimated). If anything the recent historical data and near term (30-40 years) forecasts are for slightly higher than linear growth. This is the data that Hans Rosling uses as the basis of his presentations to the BBC and Davos, although he manages to a positive spin on it. We should be more sceptical.

All of this forces me to say "citation needed" when referring back to statements like "very possible that the size of the human population will peak this century" or "Human population of the world will peak at or below 8 billion in the 2040s and then drop dramatically.". It looks too much like hand waving. So where's the justification for a different outcome from the forecasts of the most well respected source? When should we expect a slow down in the linear growth, because it's still happening.

This seems critical to me because people who seek to find technological answers to our problems tend to argue that Malthus and Erlich were wrong and continued economic growth is possible indefinitely. Continued growth in global population makes this harder and harder to support. It may not be the relatively quick Malthusian disaster produced by exponential growth, but linear growth is ultimately just as bad, it just takes a bit longer before you hit the limits.

Projections and futurists usually take a predictable approach. Take what's happening right now, project the graphs out to 15 years with no real changes in approach. Then push the models to 30 and then to 60 years with some changes that make a certain amount of sense. Now go back to 1970 when Erlich and crew were predicting Malthusian apocalypse. They'd had 40 years or so of accelerating exponential growth in global population and it was currently peaking at 2% pa compound. If that had continued we'd be on 9b now (2016), 12b in 2030 and 18b in 2050. Understandably they couldn't see how the Earth could possibly support that. But given the current situation they were seeing around them at the time, it was reasonable to wonder what would happen.

As it turned out they were writing just as the first demographic transition happened from exponential growth to linear growth. Instead of 2% pa, the system switched to 80m pa. It's now kept that linear growth up for 50 years. So if you were projecting right now, it would be reasonable to expect that linear growth to continue for at least another 15 years, maybe to 30 years out. And you'd be stretching the point to justify it for 60 years. It is possible that we're on the threshold of the next transition from linear growth to zero growth or even falling growth. But right now in 2016 it's hard to see.

So what is underpinning these 3 regimes?

- Exponential growth: Agricultural revolution. Crop science. Industrialisation of agriculture. Cheap nitrogen fertiliser produced with cheap energy. Antibiotics.

- Linear growth: Urbanisation. Falling fertility rates among developed populations. Underdeveloped areas with exponential growth becoming a smaller proportion of the whole. What else?

- Zero and falling growth: Pollution and resource constraints. Food capacity constraints. Ageing menopausal populations. What else?

What have I missed as justifications? And why should the transition happen from linear growth to zero growth? What I don't feel I've got a handle on is why we've had constant linear growth for 50 years and why it should stop. Instead of arguing about the details of which futurist was right or how previous predictions turned out to be absurd, where's the analysis of what was happening then, now and in the 30 year future?

I don't really see how to avoid this. It suggests to me that it's a core, big and difficult problem that won't go away. And it's the one big problem that underpins all the other big problems. If we're not to have those catastrophic failures defined by "SFPD - Systems Fail, People Die", then we have to come up with solutions for supporting 11-12b people within the next 100 years. And we have to do it while in the middle of climate change and resource limitations (eg fossil fuels) becoming major factors. And of course it's worse than it appears because that rising population has increasing expectations of consumerism. Generating increasing amounts of pollution, both as CO2 and as more traditional forms. And using up our resources at an increasing rate.

Happy Vernal Equinox Day.

The equinox was actually at 04:30 UTC, with sunrise for the pagans at Stonehenge at 06:06 UTC. But I wasn't awake for either.

And next Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon (Wed 23rd, 12:01 UTC) after the Vernal Equinox. So thanks to the calculations for the date of the Jewish feast of Passover, that's Easter.

Trying to unpack the symbolism surrounding all this is beyond me. The blood of sacrificed spring lambs, eh. M'kay, err, say what?
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"Pavlov's Dogwhistle"

Or is that redundant?
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