fredag 21 februari 2020

Gissa vart spårvagnar går?

Göteborgs spårvagnar rullar i tjänst utan linjeskyltar. Problemet uppståd i början av förre sommar. Förklaringen är att skyltar använder ett slags komplicerad elektroniskt system. Det går inte att lagas och leverantör har gått i konkurs.

Var är det med Göteborgs Spårvagars ingenjörer att ingen av dem kan hitta en tillfällig lösning? T ex skriv på nummret med viteboardpennor? Klistra på transparent färjad plastfilm med tejp? Visserligen inte den vackraste lösning men bättre än ingenting.

Långsiktigt varför inte använder ett helt tåligare system t ex textil rullskyltar som håller lika längt som fordon sjålva - och är dessutom mer läsbar än de nuvarande svårtlästa LED / matrix skyltar.

Mercantilism wherever you look

Discussion on the future of the UK outside the European Union rages on. Reading through most of the articles, and comment on the articles, in the newspapers, it is as though Adam Smith had never written “Wealth of Nations” and Henry George had never written “Protection or Free Trade?”

The prevailing idea of economics expressed here, on both sides of the EU debate, is the seventeenth century mercantilist view which was refuted by Smith and all the classical economists who followed in his wake. Smith is a hard read, though not impossible for a reader of one of the newspapers which are aimed at the better educated sector of the public. George wrote a popular exposition of the argument against mercantilism.

Mercantilism is the dominant theory behind EU trade and economic policy. It will drag the continent to disaster if it is not abandoned; it was the ruin of France, Spain and Portugal in the eighteenth century; these countries and their former colonies still suffer from the legacy. But when commentators advocate boycotts of EU products and the imposition of tariffs on imports from the EU, they reveal the same mercantilist notions as those who support the EU and all its works.

Please take some time off from the internet and come back when you have read and digested these volumes. Both are in print and available on line.

söndag 9 februari 2020

War on carbon – gas boiler ban threat

Here comes more folly in the War on Carbon. There is a plan to force everyone to replace their gas heating boilers with electric heating systems. This is strange, because the thermal efficiency of modern gas boilers is over 90%, which is about as good as it can get. Over its complete cycle, electric heating is only about 30% efficient due to thermodynamic and transmission losses. Such a proposal can only have come from people who do not understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In 1959, in a lecture with the title ‘The Two Cultures’, later published as a book, C P Snow had a thing or two to say about just such people.

“A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare’s?” 

The efficiency of electric heating can be improved by using heat pumps but relying on the electricity supply creates a security problem which is less of an issue with gas supplies which contain substantial reserves in the distribution system. Moreover, the gas supply system could be used to store and distribute hydrogen, which could be an effective way of utilising the energy created by the surplus from wind generation, which has the grave drawback that supplies cannot be matched to demand.

A better option, based on sound thermodynamic principles, is to promote more local generation in the form of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) in which hot water for heating is created as a by-product of the electricity generation. CHP generation can be on-site for large buildings such as public and industrial premises and blocks of flats, or through the use of district heating systems. In the case of on-site generation, surplus electricity is fed into the grid and paid for.

A bad and unscientific decision is about to be made, yet again.

lördag 8 februari 2020

EU sends bill for an extra £1 billion to UK

The EU has sent an additional bill of £1 billion to the UK government, on account of the growth in the UK economy relative to the rest of the EU (which we were assured would not happen because Brexit would be a disaster).

The EU has no reliable figures on which to base its claim on the UK. Not every member country returns reliable figures. Those with large black economies will not be required to pay their share as so much of their economic activity does not turn up in the official returns to the EU, and their governments have an incentive to report lower figures.

Romania and Greece are the biggest offenders and are getting away with fiddling at the expense of the countries with traditions of honesty. Fraud is rewarded. The UK should make payment dependent on the submission of accurate figures from every one of the E27 countries.

The UK should agree to pay when the trade returns of all 27 countries have been audited so that it pays its correct proportionate share.

The VAT gap – official EU report.

fredag 7 februari 2020

Brexit a right wing conspiracy?

Is Brexit a right wing conspiracy? It is curious how this accusation has arisen. The EU’s policies are fully in line with the ultra right neo-con agenda. The main beneficiaries are the Franco-German industrial giants, plus owners of large agricultural land holdings. That is not surprising because the EEC was set up as a way of getting the European military-industrial complex to work together, instead of against each other, and they have the resources to pay for the best lobbyists. These are the main beneficiaries of the EU’s trade and economic policies: protectionism, the CAP, VAT and the Euro, which favours mercantilist Germany. Freedom of movement ensures that wages are driven down to the lowest level. The Euro is a device for paying German workers in an undervalued currency, while at the same time providing an easy market for German products. Minimum pay and workers’ rights are nothing more than window dressing. The CAP and import tariffs drive down real wages by putting up shop prices. VAT does the same.

The very same corporations and individuals bankrolled the Nazis in Germany and fascist parties elsewhere in Europe. Many of the employed slave labour during the war, and many of the survivors never received compensation from their exploiters.

It is time this myth of Brexit as a right wing plot was laid to rest. The perception of Labour opponents of EEC entry in the 1960s was not mistaken.

måndag 3 februari 2020

Crossrail - a case study in mission creep

Crossrail is now running about three years late. Several layers of bad decisions have led to this.

Crossrail was originally conceived as an east-west relief route for the Metropolitan and Central Lines. A quick and easy fix would have been a new tube line on roughly the same alignment. This could have used small bore tunnels and been self-contained, with self-driving trains as currently operating successfully on other tube lines. Being a self-contained route without junctions, the line would have been optimally reliable, with a service of 34 trains an hour being achievable, as on the Victoria Line. It might have been extended to Heathrow, or it might have run to Hammersmith over part of the present Metropolitan Line. It might have joined end-on to the Jubilee Line at Stratford, avoiding two sets of reversals. Such a line would have been running at least five years ago.

 As it was, there was mission creep. Large bore tunnels were used, with full size trains and overhead electrification, the trains had to be designed to accommodate three different systems of signalling, and the route is shared with the main lines, which builds-in unreliability and potential widespread disruption.

Having got to that point, however, risk could have been reduced by putting in a conventional signalling system on he tunnel section, which is the current obstacle to getting the service running.

Gissa vart spårvagnar går?

Göteborgs spårvagnar rullar i tjänst utan linjeskyltar. Problemet uppståd i början av förre sommar. Förklaringen är att skyltar använder ett...