Archive for Evil Government Bastards

Windmills – Still Rubbish

Posted in Mining, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Rantings, The Wicker Man list with tags , , , , , , on December 13, 2010 by awickerman

Durham University have sent one of their research students to look at offshore windmills, I’m not sure why, perhaps he had offended them in some way. In any event he has come back and worked out exactly how good/awful they are, using numbers rather than the vague insults and projections I’m usually forced to rely on. The summary is here with the bewitching title;

UK offshore wind farms: must do better”

Which, while accurate, is kind of like saying ‘Harold Shipman: must stop killing people’, it’s a nice idea, but it’s not going to happen.

So why must the windmills do better, well they were only actually available 80% of the time. That’s not generating electricity 80% of the time, that’s just potentially available to generate some electricity 80% of the time, the actual load factor (how much of the total theoretical production was actually produced) was far lower. As we saw last time on off-shore windfarms that ain’t good. The deep ff-shore windmills would hope to be available 90% of the time, if the ones in shallow waters can’t manage it what chance in the middle of the North Sea?

On the plus side the costs weren’t as bad as feared at a mere £70 per MWh (Not counting the fact taxpayers were been fleeced by the government to provide the subsidy to build the windmill, which then produces the expensive electricity your electricity provider is legally compelled to buy. Bastards).

Sure that’s more pricey than coal, say £45 per MWh for the average European coal fired plant, but it could have been a lot worse. You could be buying electricity in Germany where they have to contend with lignite power station trying to generate electricity by burning muddy twigs and costing fortune while doing so. Then there are the proper coal burning German power stations which have to buy coal from DeutscheSteinKohle, a company who’s mines really should be closed, but aren’t because the German government really likes miners and wants to carry on paying £200,000 a year per miner to keep them mining over-priced coal no-one outside Germany wants. Then there is the German solar industry which continues to cost a fortune, and of course they subsidies their own windmills.  Basically it all costs a fortune, apart from Nuclear and Russian Gas, which is probably why the Germans use so much of both.

Today’s thought for the day; Chris Huhne is a twunt who will be one of the first into the Wicker Man come the revolution.

Positive Action

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Engineering, Rantings, Tunnels with tags , , , , , , on December 3, 2010 by awickerman

The government has decided we need positive action to end the under-representation of people in random jobs. There are some obviously stupid parts, like the section where they say Primary schools could use this law to hire more male teachers, cunningly ignoring the fact it’s not discrimination that causes female teachers to dominate, but a complete lack of  male applicants. However one section did jump out at me;

“British women don’t lack experience, they don’t lack ambition and they don’t lack skills.”

With all due warnings about personal anecdotes that is just not true in engineering, certainly at my work they generally do lack experience and skills as they tend to bugger off and have a sprog for extended periods. A lovely choice and fine example of women having it all I’m sure, however it does have downsides, mainly that the women in question aren’t working or learning at the time so will lack experience and skills that their male counterparts pick up while still working.

OK I’m slightly bitter, one of our tunnellers had a couple of sprogs then announced they wanted to work from the Cardiff office. We don’t have any other tunnellers in Cardiff, hell people don’t build that many tunnels in Wales in general as there is nothing that expensive in Wales (you only build a tunnel if you can’t flatten the land above) and in fact the entire UK tunnel department is based in one office in London, and the firm wants to keep it that way. If I were to ask to move to a random office as it would be more personally convenient they’d laugh me out of the room. When she asked personnel ‘advised’ the boss to let her do it as they were worried she ‘d sue if the firm didn’t bend over backwards; new mothers do well at employment tribunals, especially when they work in a 95%+ male environment, strangely white straight men do less well under those circumstances.

On a similar vein whenever we’re doing site work one of our best metal specialists will generally not arrive before 10am and starts asking to leave at 3pm, because of her two kids. We put up with it because she is quite outstanding technically, but she is only used as an absolute last resort because of the problems of getting a decent days work out of her. As for getting a night shift done, forget it, which pretty much rules her out of any London Underground work and a good chunk of the railway work. Is this discrimination from the project managers? Certainly they are not picking her for jobs because she is a woman with kids, but then because she is a woman with kids she will not do as a good a job as a single bloke who’s happy to do nights.

So here is today’s controversial conclusion; yes there is a problem with discrimination in tunnelling, but it is fully deserved and this law wont do a damned thing about it.

Poverty Saves Lives

Posted in Irregular Features, Rantings, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , on September 11, 2010 by awickerman

Less people are dying on US roads, a marvellous result no doubt, however the explanation given by the government bod in charge, Ray LaHood, is somewhat unusual;

LaHood said the weak economy was a contributing factor as many Americans chose not to go out to bars and restaurants after work or on the weekend.

So because people are too poor to got out they’re not dying on the roads. Frankly I think the millions of unemployed people would say that’s cratering the economy to make the roads marginally safer is an over-reaction, but who’s going to listen to them? Probably not LaHood who also said;

“While we’ve come a long way,” he said, “we have a long distance yet to travel.”

Expect further economic destruction in the name of safety, better to be unemployed and homeless than have a fractionally  higher chance of dying in a car accident.

Italian Justice is Broken

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Almost Beyond Words, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , , , , on August 24, 2010 by awickerman

Slightly delayed, but no less barking due to the passage of time, I bring you this beauty;

Italian prosecutors are going after the scientific members of the ‘Major Risk Committee’ for failing to predict the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake. While this is obviously madness, it is still impossible to predict earthquakes, the particularly offensive part is that the politicians who failed to enforce the local building codes are getting off. Or to put it another way the scientists are threatened with prison for not doing the impossible while politicians ignore their own safety laws and so get people killed get away with it.

And the final sweet twist? Thanks to the wonders of the Italian legal system nothing on this case will happen till the Autumn (summer holidays are important!) at which point no decision will be made till next year at the earliest. If justice delayed is justice denied there is no justice in Italy….

Three for One Health Special!

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Even Stevie Wonder Saw That Coming, Rantings with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2010 by awickerman

And now a news story that manages to annoy me in three distinct ways. The BBC reports that the
Life expectancy gap ‘is widening’, which while not good news (all else being equal I think most people would prefer the gap to close) this is not in itself annoying. The three annoying points are;

1. The NAO says the figures mean a Labour government target to reduce the difference in life expectancy by 10% by 2010 is unlikely to be met.

Sodding government targets. Why anyone even bothers measuring them I’ve no idea, they were only ever a cheap headline and never got resourced (apart from the PR and monitoring). So after wasting money publicising them we now get fleeced again assessing them. Why? Seriously why?

2. It is calling for more investment to help GPs tackle problems like smoking and poor diet in poor communities.

The solution is ‘Basically we need more money’. It’s always that, never ‘We recommend taking a step back and thinking about this’, instead the demand is always to hurl more money at the problem in exactly the same way. The report goes on to say anti-smoking campaigns were less effective in poorer areas and so the solution is to double the spend on said campaigns. WTF?

Leaving aside the fact we probably can’t afford to see too many smokers quit (tax revenues are ~£10 billion a year from tobacco duties alone) this is madness. The schemes don’t work in poorer areas for whatever reason so why on earth will doing the same thing but harder be any different? Why not instead recommend changing the scheme, perhaps to one that might work. Why not spend the extra money on a research scheme to find out what will work? But then I suppose if the schemes work and people stop smoking all the anti-smoker workers will be out of a job; it’s in their interest for the scheme to fail or they’ll all be made redundant.

3. But it says that at present the system “does not provide enough of an incentive” to encourage family doctors to focus on the neediest groups in their practices.

Bloody GPs! Apparently we need to pay them more to actually care about their patients. Because £100k a year for a three day week just isn’t enough money, they need a lot more of our cash before they’ll put down the golf clubs and actually do any work. Heaven forbid that a GP ever does anything without being paid a fortune for it.

Or we could sack the lot of them, spend the money on practice nurses, pharmacies that can issue antibiotics/painkillers/contraception and expanded A&E. Such a situation would be functionally identical to where we are now but with several  massive advantages; 1. Golf courses will go bankrupt 2. When you have an ear infection you’ll just get some drugs instead of being patronised by an idiot of a GP who will eventually works out that you have an ear infection and then send you somewhere else to get some drugs 3. Nurses actually are (mostly) caring professionals so would help their patients instead of being unmitigated selfish arseholes like most GPs.

I can but hope in the ‘savage’ spending cuts to come everyone involved in this report is sacked and maybe even deported. They wont be of course, the civil service never cuts its own bureaucracy or the useless jobs (front line services are favourite because that scares politicians off from making cuts in the first place) , but it’s a dream.

Jesus H Christ

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by awickerman

Are slightly lower CO2 emissions more important than people’s lives? Personally I’d say no, but the Highways Agency thinks differently with their cunning scheme for “Midnight Switch-Off for Motorway Lighting”.

As the name suggests this scheme will see the lights turned off at night as part of their Sustainable Development Action Plan. Had this been a cost initiative that would be bad but, perhaps, understandable. After all putting a value on a human life to assess a safety scheme has a long (if unpublicised) history on the railways,  though I would note the very crucial point it’s used for staff safety not passenger safety. However this is different, this is a sacrifice (probably literally at some point) to the great false gods of sustainable development and global warming.

I’ll leave you with these two utterly contradictory statements from the HA website;

In doing this, safety remains our highest priority.

Which is then proved to be a total lie in the next sentences;

With the extremely low traffic flows at this time of night, the value of having lighting on the motorway is judged to be outweighed by the environmental impact and cost of providing the lighting.  Almost all the safety benefits from motorway lighting occur outside the midnight to 5am period.

Because safety is their highest priority, right up until anything else intervenes.

The problem with planning

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , on June 7, 2010 by awickerman

In essence it’s this. Peruse to page 6 where you will see the chairman of a small-medium sized house builder reveal the firm spends more on planning and planning fees than it does on bricks.

If this is a bad thing depends on whether you think this country needs more housing or not, which itself depends on whether or nor you own one. I will merely note that most of Parliament appears to own dozens of houses (brought with our money) and so has most to lose if housing supply increases and causes a drop in house prices.

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