If I shut the door on a Jehovah’s Witness I am not censoring them, I am simply managing my time wisely. The same goes for all things online, but various people don’t seem to understand this. Continue reading
As a sort of half-hearted Labour voter I continue to despair about their energy policies. From Tony Blair mixing up the words electricity and energy when negotiating the 2020 renewable energy targets to Ed Milliband delusionally proposing that the UK can freeze electricity prices while simultaneously de-carbonising electricity.
And my despair continues when I read Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint say the following “It’s important to recognise that when you look at the unit cost of electricity generated by nuclear it actually works out cheaper than other forms of renewable energy.”
Now, you can argue over whether nuclear is or is not cheaper than renewable energy, but since when is it renewable energy? Such slips of the tongue should not be made by a politician who has a decent handle on their brief. Hopefully Labour can make Tom Greatrix, a rather sensible and pragmatic guy as far as I can tell, their Shadow Energy Secretary to save themselves from such embarrassment.
As an old fashioned believer that if you have a product that you cannot sell, then you do not have a product. This principle holds rather strongly with journalism. Quality journalism is not free. It requires for you to train and pay for journalists, photographers, editors and designers. For this reason I welcome the pay walls being erected by the New York Times and other newspapers.
Now, some will tell us information must be free. This is piffle, along with the idea that the internet has somehow democratised journalism. If we aren’t willing to pay for journalism the result will be the Huffington Post, where “analysis” is provided for free by an assortment of advocacy groups, special interests, intellectual charlatans, and outright nutjobs. The rich and the privileged will reign in this grim future, democracy will be nowhere.
Here is an example of this type of thing. Justin Guay, an anti-coal activist for the Sierra Club who frequently publishes analysis about the global coal situation for the Puffington Host. None of his analysis passes minimal standards of journalistic rigour that should be required by any reputable outlet, some of it is outright laughable. Yes, the facts gathered conveniently serve Guay’s activist agenda, and no doubt the Huffington Post got if for free and we can read it for free. But who would pay for such things?
This then is the future of free journalism. Advocacy and corporate interests providing analysis, instead of well trained and paid professionals. My regular read is the Guardian, which unfortunately seems to be resisting the pay wall route, foolishly diluting its product with cheap options such as blogging networks they hope can lead to add revenue based business model.
However as David Simon observed, the choice is simple:
Folks who decry the idea of subscriber fees argue that paywalls won’t work, and that those who advocate for them, don’t understand the Internet. The opposite is true. These folks don’t understand the first thing about actual journalism. It costs money to cover a metro region, or a nation, or the world comprehensively, to place reporters at key points and maintain them while they cover a beat and glean information year after year. Anyone who still thinks that this can be achieved by amateurs or hobbyists are embarrassing themselves. It hasn’t happened in a consistent fashion anywhere, and it won’t happen anywhere. Journalism is a profession; it requires careers, and careers require a living wage, and until newspapers recover a revenue stream for their online product, they have no future.
In the 1850s British coal production averaged 75 million tonnes per year, according to the book I am currently reading. This averages out to 3.4 tonnes per capita. Last year China produced 3.6 billion tonnes of coal, but that only works out at 2.7 tonnes per capita.
So, in terms of coal production China has not even reached levels Britain achieved 150 years ago. A sobering observation.
Britain has recently seen a deluge of water, followed by an even greater deluge of armchair hydrologists. None however could be more fatuous than Christopher Booker, a man who informs us today that they are all the fault of the EU. This perhaps leads to an obvious conclusion: if we do witness the full effects of climate change within Booker’s life time he will likely switch to blaming it on the incompetence of the EU carbon emissions trading scheme.
Rule of thumb: if the Guardian or Observer refer to a nuclear expert or consultant as “independent” it means they are a long term professional opponent of nuclear energy.
Give a banal idea a name and it will take on a life of its own. So is the case with “disruptive innovation”, a buzzword that came into use sometime around 2000, based on Google Ngram. Incremental, evolutionary innovation is out, disruptive innovation is in. The people using this language should have some more self respect, it does little but service the marketing divisions, and egos, of start ups. So perhaps it is time the phrase was banned from all sensible discussion.
A simple statistic, and a dumb quote:
Last year Tesla sold 22,450 cars.
“We are witnessing the most disruptive intersection of manufacturing, innovation and capital experienced by the auto industry in more than a century. Tesla may be in position to disrupt industries well beyond the realm of traditional auto manufacturing. It’s not just cars.”
The Winter Olympics is perhaps the only major sporting event where an old Nazi can sit and watch and feel re-assured. Caucasian after rich Caucasian skies, jumps. luges, bobs and sleds for about two weeks. A dreadful affair, plus it gives the Canadians something to be good at.
So here is some good news. Climate Change is now threatening the Winter Olympics. Half of previous venues will in future be climatically unsuitable for hosting the Games. A timely reminder to those complaining about floods in Britain that there may some positive impacts of climate change.
The long term future of the biosphere is rather dependent on which development path China takes. Here is some good news on this front: GM is to put greater focus on selling SUVs in China. Three million SUVs are now sold in each year in China. In all things China appears intent on outdoing America. The already over-polluted mega cities of Shanghai and Shenzen will see the newly affluent driving in heavily congested traffic in stupid vehicles designed only to project the wealth of their drivers and fill the pockets of the companies who built them.
Fortunately we in the west have Elon Musk to save us. A few months from now Tesla will be delivering the Tesla X. So, here we have a company that fools consumers into believing they need a vehicle that combines the benefits of a sports utility vehicle and a mini-van – few people need either – yet it is lauded as showing us the way to a sustainable future. This dubious model of transport – luxury cars, over-sized SUVs – does need electrified, it needs decommissioned.