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The sudden eruption of news

Theresa May, UK Prime Minister, has just announced her intention of calling a UK-wide general election to be held on June 8th. (She will have to bypass the 2011 Parliament Act, achieve a 2/3rds majority, or call a vote of no confidence in her own government in order to do it, but one way or the other, she can make it happen.)

Parliamentary boundary changes coming into effect in 2018 do not apply; this election will be carried out in existing constituencies rather than the downsized number due for a 2020 election.

May currently has a roughly 20% lead in opinion polls and faces disorganized opposition, except in Scotland (which, with roughly 10% of the total seats, can safely be ignored: she risks losing at most a single sitting MP north of the border—her only one).

Predictable side-effects would include the next UK general election scheduled by the Parliament Act (2011) being pushed back to June 2022, three years after the due date for the conclusion of Article 50 negotiations over UK departure from the EU (rather than 13 months after Brexit-date).

I have some speculations about the big picture and what's going on, but before I unleash it on the blog I want to see what the hive mind thinks.

(Previously, I intended to blog a blue-sky SFnal world-building question this week, but hey: politics just farted.)

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1:

NB: my favourite comment so far comes via twitter: "Just think how bad May knows Brexit is going to be if she'd throw away three more years of Corbyn."

2:

To which the immediate reply was "this is basically what Momentum want; Corbyn doesn't care about winning and won't resign after losing shedloads of [Blairite/Brownite centrist] Labour MPs".

(I think this is a tad too cynical in view of the scale of the onrushing defeat. I'm not clear on who's going to have more MPs — the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, or Labour — but it's going to be much closer than anyone imagined it could ever be in 2009, and there isn't going to be a unified opposition before 2022.)

3:

My take: power grab to cement her position in absence of an opposition (I have a pot plant in conservatory that is more likely to win a GE than Labour).
Cue 5 more years of misrule, austerity, cuts and bloody awfulness, on top of the train-wreck Brexit which will right-royally bugger the economy.
I'd vote for Nicola if she'd come down here and take charge.

4:

I think the game plan is to snag a quick victory (looking like a big one, but a small one would do) and use that to legitimize some truly awful Brexit choices they're planning to make.

Take the UK out of the EU, they'll use their planned majority to begin scraping all that human rights gunk out of the laws and get moving on the foundations of a new era in Victorian governance. If the next election they'd face was 3 years after Brexit was concluded, it would give them plenty of time to pass all those bits of backward looking sadism as well as thoroughly rig the election before they had to face any consequences at the polls. Done aggressively and brazenly enough, all this hooey bullshit about labor rights can be suppressed long enough that the upcoming generation won't truly understand what they have lost.

And then, with no future economic opportunities but tax haven status on the horizon, the current distribution of wealth may become ossified and the changes permanent.

5:

I like it!

If Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens were to have an electoral pact, this might backfire for May, but I can't see an earthly of Labour doing that. Frankly, I think that May will put herself in a position to do an Erdogan (with the Great Repression Act) :-(

6:

I'm voting SNP anyway, because — even though I'm a member of the Scottish Green Party — I'm in a parliamentary constituency which (a) has a sitting SNP MP, and (b) the came-second candidate is a Tory.

My biggest worry is that May is an instinctive centralizing authoritarian. Her Great Repeal Bill will give her huge powers to administratively abolish existing legislation. It may be extensive enough to reverse the Scotland Act (2000), abolish the Scottish Parliament and end devolution, thus ending any possibility of another independence referendum and ridding her of a hotbed of internal opposition. If we consider that rolling back devolution is official UKIP policy, and UKIP is essentially the Conservative Party holding forth at the bar after six double vodkas, I can see her going that way.

I suspect there may be a snap Scottish Parliamentary election on the same basis, before June 2017, with the SNP and SGP running on a manifesto commitment to hold an Independence Referendum if they form a government. And if they don't form a government, or if they lose the referendum, it'll be GAME OVER for the devolved Scottish parliament.

7:

You are substantially correct. (The only question is how far they plan to go — and I think they plan to go further than any of us currently imagine, emboldened by precedents from elsewhere: Trump, Erdogan, maybe Le Pen.) (Ahem: "they" in the context of plans doesn't include May; she's an incurious electoral technician, even less likely to look overseas for exemplars to follow than George W. Bush.)

8:

Makes me wonder, as an outsider to the UK system, how bad things would have to get before Buckingham Palace decides that it's time to say "The Crown is not going to put its seal on this mishegoss"? (I know that power's only theoretical, one-use only, but could this chain of events trigger it?)

9:

Dumb qn, from the land downunder and of rolling prime minsters.
If May wins, there is nothing but convention stopping someone from rolling her for 5 years of power?

10:

Even a nation seceding from the UK didn't provoke her grandfather into stepping in.

I'm pretty sure it'd take something of the magnitude of an imminent end to the existence of the nation before a sitting monarch would raise a finger.

And let's remember that Lizzie Windsor is 90. A spry 90 year old who hasn't obviously lost her marbles, but 90 year olds are not notably pro-active or politically innovative.

11:

Sigh. I have to approve. I've been saying May ought to go to the country to put her changes in direction since the election and her full Hard Brexit plans into action...

And she's probably going to win. Because the majority of Leave voters hear Hard Brexit as hard on immigration (and maybe hard on removing red tape) which is what they want. When Corbyn puts out his Soft Brexit plans no one is going to be impressed. The Lib Dems are still recovering from the time in coalition. And only political junkies are going to pay attention to any other issue than Brexit.

12:

May leads with the support of her party (via the 1922 Committee, consisting of the back-bench Conservative MPs in Parliament). They won't roll her right after a victory; it only happens if the PM is clearly leading the party towards electoral defeat.

I'm increasingly of the opinion that May is a dim-witted Thatcher impersonator and instinctive authoritarian and xenophobe. We might actually (gasp) be better off with Boris Johnson, who is at least obviously an incompetent clown.

13:

Do UKIP have enough donors / political machinery to run candidates this time around?

14:

I've got to the stage where I think the most accurate news reporting comes from the Daily Mash. Two of today's headlines read:

"‘More politics? How absolutely f**king fantastic’, says Britain"

and

"Theresa May announces last election"

Some days the idea that I've probably got considerably less than 20 years of life expectancy is remarkably comforting.

15:

I predict: Massive and widespread tactical voting. Labour annihilated, Tories biggest party - requiring Lib Dem support to govern. Price of said Lib Dem support is second EU ref when terms known.

May forms minority government. Hilarity ensues.

16:

UKIP's donor is running *against* their former-only-MP.

17:

The snap GE will give the Tories the opportunity to rewrite their election manifesto, and so make it harder for the Lords to resist Brexit or other matters under the Salisbury convention.

A snap GE also looks like a second referendum on Brexit without actually being one - if they run on Brexit or otherwise, and win a non-trivial majority of MPs, the skewing effect of FPTP allows them to claim a substantial mandate for a hard Brexit.

18:

UKIP is likely being reabsorbed by the Conservatives, now that they achieved their victory. So expect an enlarged Tory share of the vote, and a further drift towards the extreme right.

19:

I'm betting that the endgame is the recreation of an openly aristocratic society, updated and patched for the 21st century, all the way down to rescinding the franchise from people who don't own any land. That's long-term, obviously, but they could get pretty far down that road even in the next five years if things keep going the way they are.

20:

@tqft,
"If May wins, there is nothing but convention stopping someone from rolling her for 5 years of power?"

Correct. After a UK general election, the leader of the party with the majority in Parliament is invited to form a government and becomes Prime Minister if successful.

During the term of a government, the Prime Minister can resign, and be replaced by The Party. As I was writing this, I realised that in recent years this is as common as being elected PM by the electorate. Examples include: Teresa May replaced D.Cameron (2016), Gordon Brown replaced T.Blair (2007), John Major replaced M.Thatcher (1990), James Callaghan replaced H.Wilson (1976).

21:

May forms minority government. Hilarity ensues.

Optimist.

(I would like to live in your postulated time line, though; it looks a lot nicer than the one I expect to wake up in on June 10th.)

ATTENTION CONSERVATION NOTICE: Real life goes on, and I have to step away from the keyboard for a few hours. Direct questions to me will probably be submerged under a deluge, so don't expect a prompt reply.

22:

I'm increasingly of the opinion that May is a dim-witted Thatcher impersonator and instinctive authoritarian and xenophobe. We might actually (gasp) be better off with Boris Johnson, who is at least obviously an incompetent clown.

I'd agree with the first sentence, she succeeded because the Tories regard intelligent leaders as dangerous. As for the second sentence, look how well that idea worked in Italy with Berlusconi.

23:

Labour, except in certain seats ( E.G. HERE: Stella will retain, she is deservedly very popular ) will be wiped off the map.
I expect the Lem-o-Crats to pick up quite a few, especially where the sitting tory is Europhobe & the local electorate are not.

OTOH, if the Brexit deal looks really shit, then May has a national mandate to cancel ... any fucking thing can & probably will happen.

Sorry, disagree re your #7 & April_D ...May is a centralist, but she is not the rancid crypto-fascist that Maggie was. [ see also your 12 ]
Agree that some tories ( e.g. Rees-Mogg SPIT ) are nasty, but it was May that reminded them that they were "The nasty party" & wouldn't it be a good idea to dump this crap?

24:

Land ownership: no. Paying taxes: very possible indeed. (Current UK floor for income tax is around £10K per year, and with median incomes falling, an income qualification — and a lower-than-qualifying Basic Income or workfare scheme (the latter more likely under this oligarchy), that'll keep the proles out.)

25:

I think this move is about bouncing the doubters and voices of reason in the Conservative Party into supporting May and her chosen hard Brexit, with no ability to ask questions or ask for reasoned debate in the smoke filled backrooms.

All Conservative MPs have to support the party's election manifesto, and by convention the Lords does not oppose the Government's manifesto commitments. Once Mrs May wins a general election no-one in the Conservative party is allowed to argue against Brexit, no matter how disastrous. Well, maybe if the IMF have to intervene in rUK, but that is probably mid 2020s.

This will probably cause a number of pro-remain Conservative MPs to quietly give up and go for that City directorship, while there are still London-based financial services firms who want political air cover. Whether the new editor of the London Evening Standard? Does George Osborne stand for Parliament in GE17?

26:

I think that the most likely scenario of that nature is a military coup, following widespread massacres of starving demonstrators by government rentathugs, supported by King Charles. But that's not going to happen before many catastrophes and 2030.

But I disagree with you about May (#7, #12), and agree with the ex-Conservative blogger you linked in the previous entry. I had a vaguely Anglican upbringing, which has extremists just like any other tribal belief, and suffered from some of them - she is just an extreme version. Our last Archbishop of Canterbury from that wing was Carey, and he wasn't even extreme - 'nuff said? She is fully in control in HER terms (which are not ours), very unlike Trump or Le Pen, not even very much like Putin, and very much like Erdogan. The differences in behaviour so far are due to the countries' traditions, but I can see little difference in attitude.

I might throw a public champagne party if Anaplian is right!

27:
UKIP is likely being reabsorbed by the Conservatives, now that they achieved their victory. So expect an enlarged Tory share of the vote, and a further drift towards the extreme right.

Does the ex-Labour UKIP voter go back to Labour though…

May's speech is awesome BTW for those who haven't listened to it. It's basically saying democracy-bad.

I read all of the Small Change trilogy last month. I'm hearing so many echoes.

28:

Lets hope that young people remember to vote, or that enough of them vote anyway. I doubt they will, and we will have to spend the next 10 years pandering to the interests of old men with no stake or interest in the future. There is a short story 'This Stagnant Breath of Change' by Brian Hodge that sums up our situation. Personally I have stopped thinking about the future. Sorry, more of a rant than a constructive response.

29:

It is tempting to say that the tories will come out - how shall we say - "smelling of roses" for this election, but in reality - who knows? Polls have been wrong several times now and although from now till then is only 51 days a lot can change in that time -- think trump and north korea, for example.

May says that the "whole country" is behind her. I don't agree with that at all -- so might people just vote in the same way they did for the referendum?

In any case I don't think this the time really to sit down and keep on and on saying "I wonder this .... I wonder that?". But rather to get out there and make sure may does *not* come out "smelling of roses"!

Will either vote lib dem or labour here.

ljones

30:

Very likely. But, if they win both, I expect to see a return to the first half of the 18th century in English-Scottish relations. Not using the same mechanisms, of course, but not different in principle.

On the other hand, I give Northern Ireland a 50/50 chance of being cut adrift, rather than being more closely integrated, and left to the tender mercies of the IRA (they haven't gone away, you know); that will depend on whether Sinn Fein succeed with their current campaign.

31:

"We might actually (gasp) be better off with Boris Johnson, who is at least obviously an incompetent clown."

Look how well that attitude is working in the US...

32:

YES
The ex-Conservative said:
For a start, we were not all monsters, bigots, fascists or otherwise card-carrying evil people. Some of us were surprisingly normal. Indeed, to an extent that might surprise many, our campaign office — a few extremely messy, loud, computer-cluttered rooms in a small Lord North Street early Georgian townhouse — ‘looked like Britain’. Without going into detail, members of the campaign team were variously female, gay / bisexual, from religious or ethnic minority backgrounds, young as well as old, from different parts of the UK and the world beyond, possessed of wildly varying degrees of education, family wealth and social status. Like the Tory party itself, we were a broad church, and a tolerant one, too.

So - YES - again!

So lay off, some of you, in the same way that Labour has really decent people, like my MP, but also has "momentum" fuckwits &, of course, Corbyn.

33:

There was a lot of discussion of this at coffee break this morning. Everybody agrees they want the Cons out [I work for a scientific foundation that stands to lose significantly from Brexit, and we've already cut staff this year], but nobody knows who has the best chance of replacing any of our three Conservative MPs. Many of them would have been Labour voters before they came out in support of Brexit, so see no value in voting the weasels back in. So, it seems highly likely that the Cons end up with a supposed mandate to do anything they want.

I've only been back in the UK for 18 months, after most of a lifetime in Canada. Just before I left Canada, we had a similar exercise in strategic voting. But in that case, there was a simple solution, since the second party wasn't in bed with the government.

34:

Given the state of the opposition, I actually wonder why she didn't call for an election sooner. She's almost certain to win big and obtain a clear mandate for her version of Brexit, and - as some people have pointed out - she won't have to face another election right when its impact becomes obvious.
If this strategy has a drawback for her, it's going to be Scotland. If the SNP puts a second referendum front and center and sweeps practically all seats again, Nicola Sturgeon will also be able to point to a strong mandate for her own agenda. It'll probably solidify the Yes vote, strengthen voter's connection with the SNP, and it's hard to see how London could refuse staging another referendum.
Far from uniting anybody, this vote will probably end up reinforcing the dividing lines within the UK, and making it doubtful whether it'll survive in its current form for much longer.

35:

I'm seeing two threads emerging from among my friends - one is Vote for anyone not Tory and evil, and the other is don't vote, and that'll break the whole system.
Both sides are of course, idiots.

I can see the Lib Dems picking up a lot of support as the official Remain party, though I'll stick with my local Labour MP as she's been relatively sane up til now. Biggest problem though is that this will split the anti-tory vote, so I expect they'll keep a lot of seats even if they get

36:

That's my fear, that the Lib Dems / Labour will split the Leftist vote. Small wonder that Cameron killed election reform, when there's no such divide on the right.

Short of a progressive alliance, which I think is a non-starter, there's no way May doesn't win (and then only maybe). Shame that both party leaders have already welcomed the election when neither of them can win it - I'm just hoping they can do some damage to the government's direct power in the process.

37:

Here comes another round of brown people / POC / Muslim / people who aren't speaking English bashing. Also expect another seemingly unrelated uptick in bashing trans people (esp. women). Any election outcome at the moment is going to entrench this for another generation.

38:

Last last chance saloon.

The odds of preventing an explosive bolts separation from Europe are not high, but they do actually exist. It all depends on what reserves of sanity the PLP and the labour leadership can dredge up.

39:

Looking forward to the LibDems joining with the Tories to make as big a pile of shit of things as possible

40:

It's a shame there aren't more interesting parties to vote for. In my last round of local elections I was two percent of the vote gathered by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate. Makes it all a bit more fun.

41:

The quick election will probably also get it decided before the Conservatives lose 20 MPs to election fraud prosecutions from 2015.

42:

I think that the SNP should field some candidates South of the Border. The SNP at least gives the appearance of caring about the future and appear to have strong leadership, two things missing from other UK opposition parties.

The real best we can hope for is some coordinated activity in selected seats where anti-brexit parties combine behind a single candidate. The question is whether enough credible anti-brexit candidates exist (I don't see many coming from Corbyn's Crew, which leave independents or the discredited Lib-dems)

43:

From the little I've read (just the BBC this morning) this sounds like a classic "we can win now, we may not when an election is due, so bugger the fixed term" maneuver.

We had the same thing here after Harper brought in fixed terms. He never actually held an election on the fixed term date, always calling it earlier at an opportune moment.

As well, I suspect she's counting on this being a bit like a war election (ie. don't change horses in mid-stream sort-of-thing).

44:

Remember that the common thread of these political movements is panic.

(Turkey is getting the same desertification that's affecting Syria; the US is faced with not being the supreme hegemon anymore; the UK is faced with not being important enough to define itself; France is faced with not being able to define itself; there's a whole lot of "the future is not going to be something you recognize" going on, and not in comfortingly happy ways.)

So a whole lot of what you're seeing is a Tory conviction that everything will be fine if they can guarantee themselves control (of the money, but mostly control in an amorphous way) and everybody else still trying to engage with a perception of the problems.

Control never works, but if you don't engage with the problems and push an excessively simplistic line of rhetoric you can often get a second term out of it.

45:

Speaking from my safe seat in New Crobuzon, I can see something like this being brought in. "No taxation without representation" to be complemented with "No representation without taxation".

Basically, this is a bloody stupid idea and tellingly is an idea that even the Freemasons of times past were strongly against. Giving all adults save for prisoners and those detained for their own mental safety the vote was actually originally a Freemasonic idea.

The Freemasons had a number of ideas like this, which were mostly aimed at assuring their members of a quiet and prosperous life. Universal democracy was one of their lesser-known ideas; it works by allowing the population the chance to change their government at will, thus greatly reducing the impetus to revolution (and the Freemasons themselves merely bribe whichever set of politicians it is expedient to influence).

46:

Yes, but you have misunderstood the Tories and money. They don't have, and are not aiming for, control of the money - they have a belief in the Holy Free Market and a completely misguided belief that those who DO control it are on their side. Their Article of Faith is that, if they can control the politics, laws etc. (customs, environment etc.), the money will start flowing in the direction they want again. Their panic over money is because their access to it is disappearing, their requirements for it increasing, they don't know why (even if we do), and their dogma of asterity is merely making it worse. But that STILL doesn't mean that they are aiming for more control of it - quite the converse.

47:

I wonder if Corbyn can whip his own MP's to vote for a general election.

I think the driver behind this is probably in part the risk of the election expenses scandal costing the Tories their majority.

I wonder if the SNP will poll 45% or 50.25% and whether they will win every seat in Scotland.

I wonder how May will present a Tory mandate *for* constitutional change for England but no mandate for constitutional change in Scotland from the same election.

What is going to happen in Northern Ireland?

48:

I see May's taking a page from Israeli PM Netanyahu's playbook. He's called early elections twice now, once for spurious reasons, another iwththe stated purpose of getting a more convenient (for him) parliament.

49:

I think in part this is a reaction to the initial UK negotiation strategy being blown out of the water by the EU. Mays instinctive reaction to control slipping through her fingers is to grip more tightly, She's now flagging to them that she'll be coming in harder with a new hardcore mandate.

About the only positive I can see out of this is there will be a fair stab at a LibDem Govt in 2022 and that I'm tempted to see what odds I get for Corbin NOT resigning in June and have a little flutter for the personal bailout fund.

50:

Perhaps we can go for "possess an historical belief that things are working correctly when the money flows to them"?

Solar is cheaper than natural gas in terms of kWh pricing by 2020; the PRC has the resources and the political will to solve their smog problem. (Already cheaper than coal!)

Even if you entirely ignore the climate (I mean, don't; climate = food, and food = peace), that, right there, is the undoing of the thalassocracy. The UK has no idea how to function outside the anglo thalassocracy. Of course there's a certain amount of political panic.

51:

An early election doesn't necessarily turn out well, eg: see Australia's recent double-dissolution election which has made a right mess of the party which called it.

Of course, while the people who were driving the bus are busy squabbling, there's no-one driving the goddamn bus, so it's not all good.

52:

May probably thinks she can secure a super-majority so she can pass any
legislation. From the outset this looks like it'll be the case.

I remember police privatization being floating, has there be anything happening regarding that since 2012?

53:

I'm very worried about potentially increasing apathy among the electorate, especially the Remainers. Being based in Edinburgh, my colleagues aren't exactly representative of Britain as a whole, but a lot seem really tired of referendums, elections, and voting in general.

Even I'm getting sick of it - all the options are terrible (although some more than others - I like my human rights and would like to keep them, please and thank you). But as someone upthread said, good luck trying to make this GE about anything other than Brexit without people thinking you're a raving, conspiracy theorist because "surely May wouldn't do *that*."

Best thing I've learned since Trump, and credit to Maya Angelou: when people tell you what they're like and what they're going to do, believe them.

54:

Question out of ignorance here. My understanding is that Article 50 is only reversible by the other EU members, who have to vote unanimously to do that. Isn't all this "Brexit do over" talk moot now?

55:

that is certainly also my understanding. A lot of Brits seem to not want to acknowledge it.

57:

That does indeed make reversing brexit very hard to do. But not impossible, and the concessions one would have to make to get it would still be less damaging than brexit would be. The problem is mostly one of political will, and a mandate from the general election would fix that.

No, probably not going to happen, but worth shooting for.

58:

It depends. I expect if the UK was to throw the Tories out, and the new government was to turn to the EU and say "we're really sorry, it was all a terrible mistake" and forfeit their special exemptions, then it might be a different situation. This is unlikely.

Triggering Article 50 is fairly final, but from that point on we're talking diplomacy, and literally anything is on the table. The EU as a whole doesn't really want the UK to leave, but won't let them back in without some form of chastisement lest other countries think it might be a good idea. Also this is a prime opportunity to weld the EU closer together, the UK has long been a thorn in their side as much as an ally, so some countries are probably happier to see them gone, certainly to see their power hobbled.

59:

I see May's taking a page from Israeli PM Netanyahu's playbook.

Actually, she's taking it from her role model, Margaret Thatcher (who I think I recall did it three times).

Theresa May is basically modeling herself as the second coming of Thatcher, only stupider and more narrow-minded. Shudder.

60:

Quite. In her areas of thought, I don't think that she is any stupider, but there are a damn sight fewer of those than in Thatcher's. And she is even more fanatical, to use a polite word where another would fit better.

61:

I'm fairly confident that even the Tories must be dimly aware that trying to roll back devolution would carry a non-negligible risk of tipping Scotland over the brink into outright armed revolt.

I'm rather less confident that this would stop them doing it anyway. And maybe that's not an entirely bad thing, because if all-out civil war is the only way to get rid of the Steadily-Less-Beige-But-Not-In-A-Good-Way Dictatorship then I'd rather just get it over with.

62:

Well quickly, at lunch MayTeresa? was talking about "this will give me the mandate I need for Brexit"; who actually sees the Con party achieving 50.1% of all votes cast?

Can Nicola be fast enough on her feet to state that 50.1% of all votes cast in Scotland will be regarded as a vote for Scottish independence?

63:

I'm fairly confident that even the Tories must be dimly aware that trying to roll back devolution would carry a non-negligible risk of tipping Scotland over the brink into outright armed revolt.

Possibly, but the second order corollary of that awareness is that they put up with thirty years of outright armed revolt in Northern Ireland and NI is still part of the UK. (Let's not quibble over the fact that Scotland has ten times the population of NI ...)

64:

Hmmm… I wonder if there are going to be any interesting interactions between election purdah and coverage/discussion of the EU/Brexit/Initial negotiation stuff.

65:

I'm voting SNP anyway, because — even though I'm a member of the Scottish Green Party — I'm in a parliamentary constituency which (a) has a sitting SNP MP, and (b) the came-second candidate is a Tory.

There are many things I loathe about Australian politics, but I do like preferential (aka instant run-off) voting, which eliminates the need for this sort of frustration. I can number candidates on my ballot paper in the order of my choice:

1: Protest vote for single issue micro-party with zero chance of winning

2: Minor party with slim chance, which I can support without squandering my vote

3: Loathsome major party I loathe slightly less than-

4: -the other major party

5: Nazi loon

When the votes are counted, the candidate with the least first preferences has his voter's preferences distributed to the others. Rinse-wash-repeat until a winner hits 50% +1.

66:

That would depend on whether the SNP can get the majority of the country behind it; at no stage in Northern Ireland did even the dissenting parties (peaceful and violent) get majority support. And, until after Blair shafted the place, it was unclear that the revolting parties ever had more than about 20% support. Currently, Sturgeon couldn't swing even non-violent, extra-legal dissent - but, in 2019?

67:

The Scottish parliament has a much less toxic electoral system; a mix of FPTP constituencies (so you get a named local MP to handle constituent issues) and an AV party list system (nation-wide; ensures that minority parties get representation as well).

But the LibDems entered coalition with the Tories in 2010 in return for a referendum on proportional representation, got the referendum ... and lost, big time, when Cameron campaigned against them. Which is why we're stuck with the travesty that is FPTP for Westminster.

68:

Let's see if the Labour party has an election strategy.

I think if they campaign on staying in the single market and attacking the Tories for promising an unrealistic deal and risking the economy, there's a chance to break the Tory majority.

69:

I assume May is sufficiently sane to understand that Brexit will be a shambles, and that going to an election in 2020 in the immediate aftermath will be . . .unpleasant.

And sufficiently delusional to imagine that the crisis-enabled imposition of a Tory agenda for a full five years unfettered by effective opposition or EU constraints will lead to broad sunlit uplands of prosperity and popularity.

70:

Nope.

Problem is, Labour is fighting an internal civil war.

On the left: the party base (overwhelmingly hard left, these days), supporting Jeremy Corbyn (the leader: directly elected by the party rank and file).

On the right: about 75% of the parliamentary labour party (a mix of Blairite/Brownite types and other New Labour apparatchiks).

The only reason the party hasn't already split is because both sides stand to lose; the left would lose many MPs, while the right would lose the national party organization.

Corbyn may well be campaigning to lose the election, because his electoral calculus is that a lot of right-wing Labour MPs will lose their seats, while he can hold the heartland, thereby strengthening his own hand within the party. Even if he isn't playing to lose, the internal party divisions will make reaching a consensus manifesto platform almost impossible ... even before we consider the problem of Brexit support within Labour (the difficult-to-talk-about working class anti-immigrant voters).

71:

I don't think that the party base is overwhelmingly hard left; just left of New Labour. And an unconditional campaign for single market membership might get a large portion of the PLP on board. If Corbyn is able and willing to pull it of - we'll see.

72:

Corbyn may well be campaigning to lose the election

What depresses me the most is the sight of the leaders of both Her Majesty's Government (Theresa May), and Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition (John McDonnellJeremy Corbyn), deciding to put narrow Party interests ahead of the national interest.

Both must know that a hard Brexit is a bl**dy stupid idea that will damage the UK economy; neither cares about avoiding it, because it allows them to defeat internal dissent and strengthen their control over their Party (and entirely coincidentally, their personal ambitions).

What will be interesting is the outcome for Scottish MPs at Westminster. If the SNP fails to keep 56 seats, it will be trumpeted as reason to avoid a referendum; if the SNP gains those last few seats, it will be trumpeted as proof for the will of the Scottish people. Tricky, especially as Scottish Conservatives may be trying to gain the votes of Brexit-favouring voters who picked the SNP last time around.

73:

Article 50 has to be triggered in accordance with the constitution of the country leaving. There could be a case made that as one of the constitutional principles of the UK is that no Parliament may bind its successor the triggering was not valid, especially as so little time elapsed between notification and the election call.

A bit nit-picking, but I wouldn't bet against the argument coming up if the election goes for sanity.

74:

I am wondering if an increased tory majority would enable May to stand up to her right wing when it becomes clear what the Mohs scale turned up to 11 hard brexit actually means. I could of course be hopelessly optomistic

75:

Well, yes. But one could quibble over the fact that we have an entire infantry brigade stationed in and almost entirely recruited from Scotland. And Scottish squaddies probably won't like the idea of rolling back devolution and more than the average Scot, and they really won't like seeing English troops giving aid to the civil power to put down the riots that would probably kick off if the Tories made it official policy.

*sigh* You know, if someone had said this to me before last July I'd have thought they were a paranoid lunatic.

76:

Also, I assume May is motivated in part by a desire to consolidate her own leadership. She didn't depose Cameron, and most of her rivals self-destructed or knifed one another (Gove/Boris), but leaders who didn't come to power by way of an election always suffer from a bit of a legitimacy problem, both internally and on the public stage.

Within the party she has a difficult job straddling two stools between the "remoaners" and the hard-Brexiteers.

A landslide win, plus the Tories' weird tendancy to form a personality cult around a strong female leader should give her much more freedom to manoeuvre on Brexit negotiations (or anything else) as the conquering heroine of 2017.

In Australia, Turnbull plainly intended to consolidate his leadership and marginalise the hard right of his party by calling an election when he was in his honeymoon period after taking the leadership from the unpopular Abbott. A big win would have justified that coup to the party. A botched election campaign and tiny majority means that he is now dependent on that rabid right fringe to stay in power. If it didn't mean three more years of awful policy it'd be funny.

77:

I think this decision is down to May wanting personal political control of the Brexit process, not having to cater to groups either within or outside her party. I also suspect the Tories will do better in Scotland than they did last time (not too difficult). Perhaps the SNP should remind people how it is much the same group running the Brexit negotiations who last time around agreed to things like unrestricted EU access to Scottish fishing grounds in return for not restricting the City of London.
On the independence issue I expect her to announce that another vote might be a possibility iff the SNP gain a clear majority in the post-Brexit election, i.e. pushing it back to 2023 or later.

78:

Sorry, meant to add...
The cleverness of this is that her "the nation has come together" spiel will be justified by counting every vote for a party that (now) accepts/supports Brexit.

79:

"Hard left" in current UK political-spiek is anyone to the left of Churchill, Eden, Macmillan or Douglas-Home. The 'centre' is WAY to the right of those.

80:

Urrgh.

I notice how most people on the left/remain side are too busy campaigning to reverse the decision of the referendum to actually give any alternative way of leaving the EU. Which is one reason why May can do what she is doing. Presumably the election will therefore be ran with both LD and Lab saying they'll reverse article 50, instead of offering a different way of leaving. May will probably get a landslide. Though if she does lose, that would actually be worse-whoever gets in would be tied to trying to reverse A50, which will require giving the rest of the EU literally anything they want, for it to be possible. This would probably make even the most butchered Brexit a better alternative.
Meanwhile, overruling a pretty clear, if close, result will prove out the feeling that MP's only act in their own self interest. UKIP will come back on superchargers and Nitrous.

I voted to leave, and I still think it will, long term, be the right choice. Some of the arrogant, bullying statements from various EU officials have re-enforced that for me. But, leaving needs to be done properly. It doesn't have to be antagonistic, and there is no reason we shouldn't keep the better laws.

81:

Presumably the election will therefore be ran with both LD and Lab saying they'll reverse article 50, instead of offering a different way of leaving. May will probably get a landslide.

Since Corbyn and the Labour Party are officially Leave now this seems unlikely. Instead they will offer some sort of Soft Brexit with all the benefits of May's Hard Brexit but letting us keep decimal currency and the metric system or something.

82:

Jeremy Corbyn is a bit like the Pope; his primary interest is in the survival and (future) prosperity of the Labour Party which he has served all his adult life. Without Labour the poor and the working people of the UK would be getting more of a shafting than they have been under Blair, Brown, Cameron and May, that's his view.

He is aware that 20% and more of solid Labour Party members and voters are UKIP-curious and any real attempt to derail Brexit that could be laid at the Party's door means they will vote for any demagogue who will get rid of asylum seekers and allow them to buy bendy bananas again. They're not left-wing, they're traditional Labour, union members of the sort that happily operated a "no niggers" closed shop at their places of work for decades, make racist remarks when they're with their friends and generally would fit right into a beer hall in 1930s Germany, language barrier be damned. Labour can't lose those votes and survive as a major party, they've seen how powerless the Lib Dems have been even when they did get a substantial proportion of the vote and a lot of second places.

The solution? Vote for the SNP. They're more serious about being left-wing than London-based Labour can be today and they're not crazy. As someone Charlie has a reflexive hate on for once said, "There Is No Alternative".

83:

Apart from me being a Unite shop steward...yes, I've seen the attitude you describe, but not commonly and certainly not everyone. The remain camps biggest failure was to constantly dismiss UKIP voters as stupid racist morons, which completely removes any chance to engage with them, put your point across and maybe even convince them. Or indeed, to understand the real reasons why they're unhappy with the status quo.

But hey, belittling a large number of voters worked so well before. What can possibly go wrong? Just ask President Hilla...

84:

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

85:

Yes, that's correct. Once the Article 50 notice has been filed, the default option is that a the end of two years the UK is out with nothing to show for it. Any other outcome (including "oops we're sorry please let us take back our notice") must be agreed to by all of the remaining EU members. This is why it will be so very difficult for May (or anyone else, really) to negotiate a "good deal." All of the remaining countries who like being in the EU have every incentive to punish the UK for leaving to set an example for anyone who is thinking of going.

My own guesstimate is that the difficulty of the task ahead and the likelihood of getting totally screwed has finally sunk in, and this is an attempt to consolidate as much power as possible now before the writing on the wall becomes apparent to everyone. Delaying the next election is also a positive from May's perspective.

Here's what I think the timeline looks like:

June 2017: Tories win big, essentially because the only opposition with any decent amount of organization is the SNP, and they're too small to matter. (BTW, I agree w/ HorstMohammed @34 re: Scotland; this could really be a defining moment for the SNP.)

Octoberish 2017: Hmm, those Brexit negotiations aren't looking so good, but it's complicated and there's still time. Meanwhile the multinationals quietly start thinking about their UK exit strategies, resolving to have them completed by the-one year mark of the Article 50 filing.

March 2018: Big one-year-and-where-we-now stories on TV. Still no progress on Brexit, and there is starting to be some unpleasant rumblings of discontent from the unwashed masses. Meanwhile, the multinationals start reviewing their UK-exit plans, and decide to put them into action in about 90 days.

June 2018: First announcements of multinationals departing, rumors of more, and more retrospection about May's progress one year later (there isn't any). Significant protests are becoming more regular, and the SNP schedules IndyRef 2 vote.

Late Fall 2018: Still no agreement, many multinationals leaving, London property bubble fully popped and the real estate market is in free-fall. Tax receipts are way down, and the pound has fallen roughly 50% from it's high vs. most global currencies. With high inflation and anticipating a truly miserable Christmas, large protests and other types of more violent revolt are routine. May and Tories vow to restore order and the police state swings into action.

Early Spring 2019: The value of the Pound continues to decline, everyone who can leave the UK is, and May's government is presiding over a vast and violent crackdown. Human right abuses occur regularly, and due process is observed in name only. The world is watching awful, bloody protests across the UK, and as a result (1) foreign investment stops, and (2) the EU becomes even less willing to deal on Brexit.

March 2019: UK gets kicked out of the EU with no deal, May is replaced by someone even more hard-line, and dark days are upon the UK. Scotland decides that leaving looks pretty good right about now.

I hope I'm wrong.

86:

I think the real issue involving political parties is that one of them, mostly by coincidence, lines up at some point with the what most of the scientists are saying, and most of what constitutes "best practices" about most of the issues currently on the table. In the U.S. we call this the "reality-based" party.

If you're lucky, the "reality-based" party spends more time in power and more time setting the agenda for your country. If you're not lucky the less-rational party is in power and setting the agenda. Successful countries, in the long run, are those where all the major parties have a decent minimal level of contact with reality. Unsuccessful countries... not so much.

As you observer, Greg, the people in the other party aren't horrible; they're just wrong. I was completely be-snargled when the Republican assistant to a major political leader admitted that their party was not "reality based" (in pretty much those words) and nobody on their side batted an eye.

Right now the liberals, by whatever name, happen to be the most "reality based" party. (The Democratic party in the U.S.) When that stops I'll vote for someone else.

87:

The solution? Vote for the SNP. They're more serious about being left-wing than London-based Labour can be today

Errr...no. In Midlothian, they cut council house building by 75% compared with their Labour predecessor; across Scotland, they've chopped funding to FE colleges (mostly serving working-class kids) so that they can offer free University tuition (mostly to middle-class kids). Hardly a demonstration of the Socialist Ideal.

But I'll grant you that they've done some self-serving things that smack of Control Economies we have known and loved. They've attempted to centralise power (see Police Scotland - no financial justification, but it makes the Police easier to control), stifle criticism (see the articles about how SNP-controlled committees were rewriting reports), and push their ideology (mandatory addition of "The Scottish Wars of Independence" to school curriculums).

...and they're not crazy

They are somewhat (understandably, but irritatingly) monomaniacal on the subject of independence referendums, and all too happy to use ...because, Westminster! in the same way that UKIP uses ...because, Immigrants!.

Personally, I'd be a lot happier if the SNP concentrated on improving Health and Education outcomes, rather than seeking to distract from their failings after a decade running them. As I've pointed out before, a long-drawn-out media debate on Independence that ultimately comes to nothing is useful for both Sturgeon and May; it lets them issue strong statements that allow them to look good to their party faithful and distracting from other failings; while avoiding any risk from an actual Referendum.

88:

"All of the remaining countries who like being in the EU have every incentive to punish the UK for leaving to set an example for anyone who is thinking of going."

Does no-one else think this sums up a good reason to be suspicious of the EU? I mean, leaving all else aside, a referendum result is a country deciding it's own future by direct democracy. How does punishing that right to self determination sit with being the liberal, freedom protecting, friendly institution that the EU is supposed to be?
Obviously there's a lot to sort out, and I would even expect a small bill for the various projects we were going to be funding. But why must it be antagonistic?

Imagine if Scotland had voted leave a few years back, and Cameron had decided that they must be made an example of. People in the remaining UK would be furious.

89:

Convince them of what? That Brexit is a bad idea? How do you go about convincing them of that? Facts, reality, consequences? They got all that, repeatedly and still voted Leave.

I did say 20% or so of Labour supporters are UKIP fodder, that was proven in the referendum when traditionally Labour supporting areas that regularly send Labour MPs to Westminster voted for Brexit even after a lot of people told them it was a fucking stupid idea. They listened instead to demagogues like Farage and blowhards like Gove and Johnson who promised them sovereignty, the end to immigration and bags of money for the NHS. The propaganda arm of the Dirty Digger's Australian/American publishing empire pushed the "evil foreigners are taking our jobs and raping our women" buttons as hard as they could and they fell for it because it fitted their own internal mental picture of how the world really is.

There are a shitload of Labour supporters who don't think that way but just like the scummy underlayers of the Tories there's a thick strata of not-very-smart not-very-nice people who make up a chunk of Labour's voting population. Pretending they are otherwise is pretty pointless, unless you can lie to them even better than the other side did. Corbyn and the Labour Party can't afford to lose them -- see what happened to the Dixiecrats after the political shifts of the 1960s in America for a worked example.

As for your "President Hillary" quip, she got over three million more votes than Trump did even with the efforts of the FBI, the Russian government and the press working their hardest to pull her down. If Remain had won by that sort of a margin there wouldn't be a problem (other than the Leavers continuing to whine about asylum seekers and bendy bananas...)

90:

Really curious about scenarios or civil disorder / rebellion among Scots and N. Irish. Here in US I don't think much of angry people calling for succession or revolt and USian noisys seem much louder on average than UK dissidents but what the heck: it's happened before.

Is a scenario of revolt entireably unreasonable in today's Scotland or Northern Ireland? Would removal of all actual authority, maybe leaving a powerless shell for show, provoke today's populations to smoke or even fire? What might?

91:

We might actually (gasp) be better off with Boris Johnson, who is at least obviously an incompetent clown.

Not sure about that. Beneath the carefully-constructed persona is an intelligent sociopath, IMHO.

Remember, this isn't just an oath-sworn Member of Parliament who sold out the interests of his constituents, and the national interest, in favour of of narrow Party Interest; he also sold out Party Interest in favour of "Personal Benefit to the career of Boris Johnson".

This was a man, willing to screw over the nation, without hesitation, in the cause of "give power to meeeee!", and I view him in exactly the same light as Farage.

92:

It sounds a like the People's Revolutionary Front of Judea vs. the Revolutionary People's Front of Judea. (And a lot like internal Democratic Party politics in the U.S.)

93:

That sounds depressingly prescient.

94:

Mostly have questions ...

Assuming that most parties probably came close to emptying their coffers during the Brexit campaign, who's financing this election? Which party's coffers are fullest? Or, has May inked a deal with the social media ad agency (Dictators 'R Us, HQ: Unknown) that worked on the Trump and Erdogan campaigns? Has anyone done an analysis of which medium works best for what type of voter?

Have Google, FB and Twitter got their Brit-version anti-hate AIs in place? Speaking of which ... I'm guessing that watching FB and TWTR will become so important that other aspects of campaign might be ignored. Okay - if I were a UK voter and based on recent political upsets, I'd want to know how many new accounts for each were being signed up during this campaign, what the most popular new posts ('news items'esp. alternate facts) were posted and forwarded and where (UK vs. outside UK), etc. OTOH - also very important to know/follow what's being said/promised on traditional media and how May's actions track against which sets of promises made (media/target audience).

Interested in knowing what the other folks here think should be watched, and watched for.

95:

"Convince them of what? That Brexit is a bad idea? How do you go about convincing them of that? Facts, reality, consequences? They got all that, repeatedly and still voted Leave."

Were they? I mainly remember a right load of baffling crap from both sides of the campaigns. To get your message across, you need to understand your target audience first, then tailor the info you give.
Most of the areas you describe are still suffering from the collapse of industry in the 80's, despite 3 terms of a labour government. No wonder they voted for a change, any change. You're right that UKIP have fed a lot of crap and misinformation to such people, but where were the alternatives? It seems as long as they voted Labour, the party didn't really care what else they thought.
The biggest issue was immigration, so I'll mention that. It is now known that the government consistently under estimated migration into the UK. This meant they haven't sorted policy and funding on all manner of things that you need to support extra people-housing, schools, etc. Similarly, migrant labour has been used to undermine pay and conditions in low end jobs-Sports Direct, Amazon, that sandwich factory in the North east that was in the Mail, pretty much any sort of warehouse job. The government has failed to prevent that, meaning a lot of jobs on offer are now bloody awful.
These are, imo, all the governments fault, not the migrants themselves. But it left a wide open political goal for any nasty fucker going to put the blame on people who just want a better life. People will say some pretty salty things about foreigners, but I believe that is mostly due to being spoonfed such language by the gutter press. If the above sorts of problems had been properly tackled, the actual racists would have no meaningful support and our migrants into our country would have had a much better time.

Interesting your comeback to President Hillary...so, a few % in the national polls matters there, but not in the EU referendum? I think a lot of people need to deal with where we are now, not where they wish we had gone.

96:

Does no-one else think this sums up a good reason to be suspicious of the EU?

No, because it's entirely in the Brexiteers' heads.

One set of Brexiteers make up stories about the EU planning on punishing us.

The next set of Brexiteers seize on these stories as evidence for why we should leave the EU.

Last weekend this was demonstrated when they learned that the European Medicines Agency and European Banking Authority (which are both currently based in London) were thinking about the practicalities of moving somewhere in the rEU. Rather than being an obvious consequence of leaving, and that EU agencies are located in EU countries, and that moving thousands of professional staff (who may well have partners and children) is likely to take 2 years, this apparently is a duplicitous move to punish the UK.

97:

Really? Because I only ever see this argument coming from remainers, both before and after the vote. Both news sources and people on my facebook. The person I was responding to seemed to be implying that punishment was both inevitable, and a reason not to leave, though if I am wrong on that then I apologise.

98:

Re: 'Convince them of what? That Brexit is a bad idea? How do you go about convincing them of that? Facts, reality, consequences? They got all that, repeatedly and still voted Leave.'

Recall headlines that there was more Google search activity for 'what is Brexit' immediately after the 'Yes' vote result came in than during the campaign. So there may be a chance to do some educating.

99:

Is it possible that this is a last-ditch effort to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Having created this amazing cock-up, the Conservatives appeared to be saddled with working out the grim details and getting all the blame. The consequence might not have been the distopia imagined by some, but would very likely have resulted in oblivion for the Conservatives.

Now there is a slim chance that the LibDems might hold the balance of power, might exert a "restraining effect" on extremist Conservatives, and might attract enough of the blame to save the Tories in the end.

Too implausible?

101:

Re the "punish" comments:

So, as a non-UK, non European (and therefore mostly neutral, accept I have a lot of friends in the UK and are sad for their future, but OTOH I'm looking forward to having some nice cheap vacations in London in a couple of years assuming things don't become too disastrous there): I think when people say "Punish", it really means "don't roll over for us". One of the striking things I see from both the Brexiters is a hugely hubristic sense of entitlement...a belief that the rest of the world owes them something and the only reason they didn't get it is those evil bureaucrats. "Oh, we'll leave but Europe will let us have the good stuff and not the bad stuff".

Look, lets say you were shacking up with a bunch of roommates. And then get up and say "Screw you guys! I'm leaving!" They are within their rights to change the locks, say "Please get your stuff out by next week" and "What? No you don't get to come hang out at our parties anyway!" The rest of the EU owe it to their own populace to get what they think is the best deal. One negotiates with a hand, and while the UK does have what's in hand, it's not exactly a Royal Flush. You need to have something to offer. The rest of Europe are not stupid. Angela Merkel has a PhD in Quantumn Chemistry, FFS. If you have the UK being a pain in the ass about stuff it's easy for everyone else to just shrug and ignore the UK. Punish in this context doesn't mean "We station the rest of NATO off the UK and blockade", Punish means "Treat exactly the same way they treat Russia, Turkey, North Africa and every other neighbor.

The funny thing is I bet money we'll then see a rash of Daily Mail headlines along lines of "Evil EU won't give us a deal" or "Disgusted of Turnbridge Wells forced to stand in same line as Algerians at airport!" You are already starting to see that sort of rhetoric with the moving of EU institutions out of the UK. Guys, would you expect the EU to open up institutions in, say, The Ukraine? Why would they possibly want to keep them around in the UK?

You actually see a similar dynamic going on in the US with some of the current rhetoric around Nato. Guys, Canada and Mexico aren't just going to roll over. They have to be offered something. If the what's offered is "you do what we want or don't trade with us", fine, but then don't be shocked if Canada shrugs and does their own agreement with China.

102:

Somewhat pedantically, Leave won by a ~3% margin, whereas Clinton lost despite winning 2% more votes than Trump. To make a more accurate comparison: if Leave had won by the same number of votes, but failed to carry the referendum because the Scottish Highlands got more electoral votes, I'm pretty sure shit would have gone down.

Anyway, the point as I understood it was that Hillary won more voters despite hurting some Trump supporters' feelings by calling them deplorable. I don't think we can blame accusations of racism for the Leave victory, unless you're saying that British voters (for some reason) are significantly more sensitive to such accusations than Americans.

103:

Occam's Razor - Brexit is expected to become a pig's ear within the next 18 months, with clarity approaching by September.

May is a competent politician devoted to not presenting the appearance of failure. She is perfectly aware that June will approach the high point of her popularity and is taking preemptive action to stem the bleeding by shivving the opposition in advance.

Longer-term, the hope is that something nasty happens to the EU, letting her retire with a legacy of pushing conservative policies while closing that Brexit resulting suffering was inevitable. Holding the vote early gives her some extra time to exit on a high note.

104:

To expand a bit... Trumpette is facing dissent, argument and delay from the other parties and the Lords. There is a current combined-forces police investigation into 20 Conservative MPs (and the central party) for election expenses fraud in 2015. If proven, the Tories will have bought the election. So this could invalidate the Conservative win, which then risks the referendum. If they win a quick election, it gives them legitimacy to ignore the 2015 scandal as "the previous lot". If any of their MPs are later found guilty, they may be able to fight them as by-elections. And a majority plus split opposition gives them the grit to force a result through on Brexit. And if they lose, someone else gets the poison chalice.
Compare with "Russian links? Bomb Syria."

105:

Wondering whether this is a time-buying ploy for EU or even US negotiations. Unclear of what normally happens immediately after a general election, that is, how long before the newly elected gov't has to show up at Parliament with policy to discuss/enact?

If the UK signs a trade deal with the US in July (because both Trump and May need some good news), then the pressure would be off on getting a better deal with the EU.

106:

As of this evening, CPS is apparently considering prosecution against 'over 30' individuals, and any charges will have to be brought against them before the general election, presumably while they're campaigning.

If those individuals are in fact running for reelection when they are charged, I imagine that could throw at least a small spanner in the works for May and her quest for legitimacy.

107:

I can't possibly see the US signing a trade deal by July. The UK maybe; something can be rammed through with a "take it or leave it". On the US side a trade deal involves a huge, complicated set of trade offs with various politically important factions (or, see why the US pays far more for sugar than the rest of the world), and involves selling to the senate, in a current super anti-trade environment. This by an administration that can't seem to accomplish anything. Actually, ironically, by far the worst case might be "US Administration negotiates something, Trump and May celebrate it, bill promptly tanks in Senate". The amount of egg on various people's faces there would be YUGE..

108:

I would dearly love for the Labour Party to stand up in Parliament tomorrow and say that "We cannot in good conscience vote for an election at this point while our opposition members are facing prosecution" and completely F up Ms May's triumphant statement.

109:

I suspect a tiny little bit was the news that I heard this morning (although others may have heard it earlier, I've just spent 48h in bed with a really bad migraine) that Labour has just tested a load of it's new policy ideas and they've tested really well.

Labour is currently at a real low in the polls, I think it's an all-time low for a party in opposition, but they're starting to put together some policies that the pesky electorate seem to like. In 2020, when the impact of the mess that the looney right in the Tories cobble together for Brexit hits and if these policies do seem attractive, then she's really in trouble. But an election in 8 weeks? Suddenly Labour are scrambling to put a coherent set of policies together. OK, so are the Tories but maybe less so.

Also, I'm not sure how many of her most annoying hard-line Brexiteers are in Remain-voting constituencies, but one of her PITA backbenchers called a by-election over the Heathrow expansion plans and got kicked out on that basis. She might well lose a few more if she's lucky (mostly to Lib Dems probably) while still gaining seats overall. Because unless she's really unlucky, Labour are going to lose a shitton of seats.

Of course Labour will, despite the in-fighting, rally to fight together for this election. And they can pump a message of controlled Brexit, good for jobs, support for the NHS, support for carers, integrating social care and the NHS and a few other really good hot topics where the Tories look weak. Will it work? I doubt it, but the ammunition is there. If Labour get a good message on Brexit and a good message on these other issues as well they could make a Con minority government or a Lab-SNP coalition. The SNP probably don't get destroyed in the same way the LibDems did because their voting base is sufficiently different to the LibDems and SNP voters are not going to switch to the Scottish Tories and not that likely to switch back to Scottish Labour. The Labour Party might have to promise #IndyRef2 in 2018/9 as part of the coalition agreement, but they'd probably be willing to do that, it's not political suicide for them to say "We'll give you your referendum, but we'll campaign for remain."

110:

Total wishful thinking at least 5 years too soon. They could be offering real magic beans to everyone and still not look credible coz Corbin's the big steaming turd sitting in the center of the room. My wife mentioned today that a recent opinion poll said only 13% of respondents thought he would be a good PM.

111:

Since the US administration doesn't yet have an Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs (not even nominated yet!), an Under Secretary for International Trade, or an Ambassador to the United Kingdom, I'd say that drafting a trade agreement by July, let alone passing one, isn't possible.

112:

Yeah. I mean if May completely drops the ball and for some reason no one is interested in Brexit then there'd be a contest but if at any point things stop going the Tory's way they'll shout "Brexit" and promise a bigger, harder, redder, whiter, bluer and brexiter Brexit than anyone else.

113:

It all depends on what reserves of sanity the PLP and the labour leadership can dredge up.
Less than zero.
Corbyn is stuck either in 1972,or worse, in 1934.
Forget it.

114:

I am bloody furious about it. Because I figured the best chance we stood of getting rid of this utter arse of a government was the election due to happen right in the full of the backlash that is due to happen when the consequences of leaving the EU finally manage to hammer it through all but the very thickest of skulls that it was a bad idea.

By calling an election immediately after triggering A50 May has now shifted that event to the half-way point between elections, which is the easiest time for a government to get away with being shitty, while at the same time removing any hope of being able to vote in anyone who might repair the damage this time round because now it's too late. And she's bound to win it because every single other party is fucking useless and have been right through the whole fiasco, so the effective one-party government will continue.

The only spark of light I can see is the possibility that they'll have to nuke the fixed term parliament act in order to be able to do it.

115:

Notable that as of writing, the EU leadership are welcoming this - they now know that they will have "someone with a direct mandate" to negotiate with.
As to the actual outcome, that's a n other story

116:

See you that quote from the Irish Times?
She favours a gentle society over a dynamic one, views the market with the suspicion of a mild social democrat and takes nationhood more seriously than the universalist end of Christianity tends to.
Well?

Does not sit well with your persistent belief that she is a n other Mad Maggie.

117:

Yes
That is what I'm hoping for ...
As are the rest of the EU's leaders if I'm reading the tea-leaves correctly

118:

If Labour get a good message on Brexit and a good message on these other issues as well they could make a Con minority government or a Lab-SNP coalition.

That latter I very much doubt - the Conservatives did extremely well in 2015 by threatening the perils of Scots (even worse, nationalist Scots!) being involved in government.

I can't see that anything has changed in 2 years to make such a threat less effective - indeed, given that the SNP are fairly strongly pro-EU, I suspect a similar campaign would be even more effective today ("not just nationalist Scots, but traitors too! Maybe even Jacobites!")

119:

The solution? Vote for the SNP.
NO
The one party who really tried hard to enact actual fascist legislation in the UK, that was overturned IN THE COURTS & not by the non-existent "opposition"... ?
I refer, of course to the SNP's proposal to spy on every child & every parent in Scotland.
[ Charlie will have a fit because I posted this, but it has the unfortunate demerit of being true.]
This is the real reason I distrust the SNP & also suggest that no "opposition" is a bad thing, even if you support the governing party, whoever they are - you still need the reality checks.
This applio=es here, ( London & England ) as well, of course.
Corbyn is worse than useless.

120:

CORRECTION:
2018/19
"Oops, mistake, we're cancelling At 50"
EU accepts this, institutes minor penalties, status quo ante ...
Which is what Verhofstat & many others are hinting, RIGHT NOW, if you've been paying attention ....

121:

Thank you
I can't see those faults from this distance ...
See also my #119, above

122:

I think your timeline here is a bit optimistically langorous as far as the
corporate response goes. Every significant multinational employer in the
UK would have at least crayon sketches of their response to the referendum
in place by April of LAST year, on account of the proles having Strong
Opinions if nothing else. The execs, even if they didn't really care on
a personal level, would tend to want to figure out if they should back a side.

Proactive decisionmakers thoroughly dedicated to the well-being of the
company, the shareholders, their own careers, OR their bank balance would
have had preliminary plans for both Leave and Remain in place by the
referendum. (Didn't some manufacturers start trying to extract commitments
from the government BEFORE the referendum?). Most other employers got
their Leave plans sketched on a napkin by July. While I'm sure there were
a lot of 'do nothing and hope the courts reverse brexit' or 'everything
is fucked forever there is no hope' napkins on people's desks, all but
the most delusional companies have serious planning at least in progress
by now.

Companies whose strategy is that the Captain goes down with the ship
of State, but the Board shall leave on a rat-drawn chariot, will tend to
be stealthy about it. If you've got immobile UK assets, like ten-year
Central London leases, conker reprocessing centers, or high-quality
marmalade plantations, the last thing you want to do is preface your
sales pitch with 'by the way, I've decided that it's impossible to make
a profit running this facility in the UK.'. It's also easier to extract
subsidies for your facility during a graceful shutdown if the Government
isn't pissed at you. (Them not knowing about the shutdown may also help.).
There may be an extra stealth factor supplied by the fact that the
rightie rags don't really want to run headlines like 'Industry to abandon
UK by 2020' and 'want a job? Consider learning Deutsch.'

The pound and UK-sector stocks haven't fallen much because investors note
the massive crash in value of historically high-valued assets, figure
they're undervalued, and buy. Some of 'em are also going in for the
'dead cat bounce' - that is, they're betting that while UK-sector assets
won't recover their original value they WILL fluctuate above their current
value briefly. Today's high valuations are unlikely to last.

The City of London euro and EU-serving financial services industry is
almost certainly ALREADY relocating. The London offices are staying
open for now because they've got almost two years to finish moving and
there is a reasonable chance of exploitable differences in regulatory
framework. I wouldn't be surprised to find UK-based subsidiaries of
multinationals being loaded up with distressed assets that have just
been redenominated into pounds, though...

One thing that's struck me as odd is why a bunch of UK politicians are
so willing to melt the pound in exchange for extra power - while I understand
hunger for power, I generally expect them to ALSO want to hang onto existing
wealth. By any chance, do any of them have significant holdings in dollars
or dollar-denominated non-UK securities or something?

123:

Pre-300, so without the Red Masque and playing 'straight' (cough, oh LibDems, oops - although he apparently voted correctly, his Mind is just not for keeping).

It appears Ms May and the Bankers are playing footsie under the table (points to Sterling drop):

EU’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE Two major London-based European agencies could stay post-Brexit despite EU claims they must be moved, Government insists The Sun, 17th April, 2017

Britain is fighting to remain the home of two of the EU’s most prestigious agencies covering medicines and banking after Brexit, in a move that is likely to cause astonishment in European capitals.

London battles to keep hold of two main EU agencies FT, 17th April, 2017


So, there's the SUN and the FT agreeing. Cats and Dogs, living together.

~

Not sure how much more proof everyone needs that the ancient Left - Right distinction needs putting to the knacker's yard, or that even the slightly-less ancient 4-grid cross (Political Compass) needs quietly placing in a rest home as well.

Serious question: is this all a Simulacrum, or do your Minds really only work in these most basic of axis? Because unless there's some kind of meta-award for acting dumb while Rome burns (Bohemian Rhapsody YT: Music, Queen, 6:06) it all looks like someone took away something and without it you're all... well.

Fucked.

124:

There's an entire "In the Thick of It" script I just wrote that makes this funny, but I won't copy/paste it (it'll probably end up on a Channel 4 special, esp. since John Clarke died and if you've not noticed, the fucking Grey Boring Vampires are killing off even that little spark of joy).

Oh, and it has the word "cunt" in it, so Americans are never going to pay to watch it.

A: "Yes, but, we have to understand that the Australian ambassador meant "friend" when she said the C-word, even if it was over her being annoyed that her Snapchat data was being spread all over the internet. (pauses uncomfortably, says the word with trepidation) Cunts are friends, Mates are enemies... I'm right on that, aren't I?"

B: "Theresa May is the only woman whose' cunt is so dusty she's literally killed it off as an insult. No, really: the Australians now have to look at all those forest fires and Mad Max becoming reality and she's sucked any fucking joy out of the term: there's fucking aboriginal communities drinking terps who are now fucking aspirational communes compared to the fucking UK government. She's killed off an entire branch of linguistic diplomacy in the name of sour fucking grapes and sucking fucking joy out of the world".

A: "But, Tasmania? I thought the wood-chip-pulp was a good thing"

~

Anyhow, @host - you want the really cynical view?

125:

If we condemned every party on the strength of one badly thought-out piece of legislation that was struck down in court before it could do any actual harm then none of them would last a single term in office.

126:

I think that the most likely scenario of that nature is a military coup, following widespread massacres of starving demonstrators by government rentathugs, supported by King Charles.

You do realise that can be read in two ways?
* King Charles supports the government rentathugs
* King Charles supports the military coup against a Government that used rentathugs.

I'm assuming the latter, but it still fails a credibility test: military coups generally only work with a conscript army, because otherwise you just haven't got the manpower to make it work. And if it has the widespread support of the population, it isn't really a coup; it's just "the People's Liberation Army rescuing the masses from the excesses of the Gang of Four's cult of personality and the Red Guard" (obviously with less triumphalist revolutionary artwork; fewer square-jawed workers with bronzed biceps, sledgehammers and scythes on their shoulders, following a Red Banner...)

For instance; at the peak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, there were 25,000 troops on the streets, attempting to suppress the activities of 200 to 300 activists among a population of 2 million; and they were only able to hold the line, they couldn't "defeat" any insurgency.

Essentially, the entire British Army, and all of its Reserves, with the full support of the Metropolitan Police, couldn't even hold London. There was a commonly-repeated saying in the British Army: political problems can only be solved by political means.

127:

Zzz. You're not getting it yet.

These Are the Days of Our Lives Wikipedia link: released in 1991.

It's a rather famous part of UK music lore that the man did his swan-song on "Top of the Pops": These Are The Days Of Our Lives YT: Music, Queen, 4:11

Now, go look at that video again. 0:11. That's not our Reality version. Internet Cat Memes didn't exist back then, and Bastet hadn't even been driven to wakefulness via orgasms.

~


Now, attempt to see what that means. (And no, the cat wasn't in the original in our Time Line.


You're being fucked with.

*shrug*

128:

Do a GREP and why the two-end spectrum arts and Russian revolution is salient. (Remember? Lessons, not learned, two spectrum inputs etc).

You've a literal rogue Cat Goddess / AI / H.O.P running amok and changing your reality. And she's really really really pissed off. No, really. 13,922,614 views. And that cat was never there. Until it was.

OH, right: UK politics - same deal for US politics and so on:

Yeah, whatever. You take their ability to cast a subjective pall (hello Democratic convention) / remove the Archons spell, suddenly they're all nude and fucking amateur hour.


*shrug*


If Bastet loves Queen, then well: there's hope. She didn't pick fucking MegaDeath.

129:

pulled cynically, its going to go one of two ways..
Thatcher II gets back in, and is impossible to dislodge from the jugular of the nation as she rides its crumbling corpse down into brexit ruin

theres a hung parliament.. and UKIP get to call the plays.. st some point someone makes Farage Chancellor and...
oh, hang on, that was Germany wasn't it?

130:

You are Otis Eugene Ray and I claim my five pounds.

131:

As a dual-national (Anglo-Turk) briton, with an immigrant partner, these are scary days to be alive.

From where I stand, May had a look at the Turkish referendum results and went "I want some of that too".

Of course it is not as simple as that, but she is definitely not as clear headed as many of us, and at least as delusional as Blair at top of his form...

132:

The anti Corbyn comments reflect the views put out by the neo-liberal/fascist press and the Guardian. I would ask how many of the UK commentators on this thread are active Labour party members? Those of us who are active party members would in many cases disagree with the prevailing opinions in this thread. The party has been on election footing since the referendum and has a set of potential policies, but you wont be reading about them in the British press-they would upset the proprietors.
Labour will support a general election on sound policy grounds, if nothing else, ducking it would hand a big stick to the British press and Mrs. May
If you do not want a May government there are three things you can do, VOTE, encourage others to VOTE and help a party of your choice out by volunteering to canvas and also get the vote out.

133:

Phil: How does punishing that right to self determination sit with being the liberal, freedom protecting, friendly institution that the EU is supposed to be?

Back in the 1860s a number of states tried to exercise their right to self-determination by leaving the USA.

I have to say that the EU's reaction is a lot lower key than a civil war.

Less flippantly; there's been a lot of very aggressive anti-EU rhetoric coming from the leave camp in the UK; it's hardly surprising that the EU administration as a collective contains a lot of people who feel personally insulted by the (pretty libelous) lies thrown at them. Nevertheless, it's the Brexiters themselves who're taking a maximalist stance on negotiations.

It's a divorce. The Brexiters thought they could get a cheap divorce and keep the house and the CD collection, despite the other party holding all the cards (including the deeds to the mortgage). Oops.

134:

OK
Find some others in the past 5 years in the UK?

It was the sheer idea of guvmint spying on the children for the local version of political correctness that got to me (As well as the Soviet & Nazi precedent, of course )

135:

To which I may add that the Army HATES internal political problems & tries to stay out, as far as is possible.
Sorry EC, but you are dreaming a very unpleasant fantasy.

[ IIRC, the then editor of the Sunday Times proposed, effectively, a treasonous military coup back in the late 60's ... he was quietly taken on one side & told to eff off ... & "If you do that in public (again) we WILL jail you" ]

136:

I herd J MacDonnel on the "Today" programme, about an hour back.
You DO NOT NEED the supposed "right-wing" campaign against Corbyn, if J McD is spouting the utter fucking nonsense he was emitting this morning!

Incidentally, though I think the Labour party's current policies are utterly bonkers, I will be voting for my local Labour candidate on 8th June - because it's a personal vote.
Stella will almost certainly retain her seat & be one of the 50 - 100 remaining Labour MP's.
I hope so, because she is one of the few MP's, of any party, who seems to have her head screwed on - which is why momentum want to get rid of her, of course, idiots.

137:

YES

As you know I was a very very reluctant "remain" voter, as the EU really needs reform & a good internal kicking.
BUT
The really unpleasant things ( * ) that have come crawling out of the woodwork after "leave" won the referendum have shocked me, to the point where I am much more strongly "remain" - or more accurately - "Maybe we can cancel At 50" than previously.

( * Racist, xenophobic, ignorant, uneducated crypto-fascist shite, basically. )

138:

I'd say you are seeing this from the wrong point of view. Rather than asking 'Why is May doing this?' ask yourselves why would she not call a General Election?

As things stand now she has a legitimacy problem as party leader and also as PM, a very narrow majority that makes her hostage to the most rabid Eurosceptic Tories (just to mention one example, most people this side of the Channel think Michael Howard tirade on Gibraltar was meant to send a message to May 'Don't you dare trying to reach a deal with EU, we - and Murdock - will sink you if you won't get us the hardest of Brexits'), a calendar that would have her calling the next General Election in a very bad moment, and legal problems that could potentially put the Tories in serious difficulties.

A victory would solve most of those problems, and it seems probable that she can get a much increased majority and even better, a reinforced Lib-Dem group that would give her a much needed flexibility.

There is only one obvious disadvantage, or two if you will: Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the results could be unpleasant. But even there if she gets a big majority she will have a maneuver space now she lacks...

In other order of things, it seems some 'experts' in the press defend she's after a mandate, i.e. that she plans to go to Brussels and maintain the Union must give her the deal she wants because British people have voted a manifest including this and that, and/or convince the Union to give Britain a better deal because there is no way to revert Brexit.

Well, Tsipras and Varoufakis had a mandate. Didn't get them very far, did it? Let's be clear about this, democracy is not Germans doing what Greeks vote, and you being Brits won't change a thing. What you vote only ties you. Further, the idea the only reason the Union negotiators aren't bending over backwards for Britain is they are trying to reverse Brexit is preposterous; everyone and his cat understand that there is no possibility to avoid Brexit since Labour is with the Tories in it.

A last comment: sterling climbed abruptly from 1.25$ to 1.28 with May's announcement. Markets seem to think a general election means soft Brexit has become more probable...

139:

Considering what has happened in Anglo politics ever since Jim Prentice tried to nail down the lid of the Wild Rose's coffin by calling a snap election, I wouldn't be stunned if Uther Pendragon won this election! The last three years have not been kind to politicians who had a cunning plan and just needed to get through an election to make it real.

140:

The UK government keeps very detailed (and personal) records on every child nowadays, although it appears these may become "whole life" records over time.
The good news is that they only get "left on a train" sometimes, and that the list of people allowed to access them doesn't yet include every official in the country.
I'm not sure how this overlaps with what happens in Scotland, but as it is Westminster that pays the piper...

141:

Seriously, it stands to reason that not being a member can never be as good as being a member. In consequence Britain's status in relation to the Union will necessarily be worse than now. Calling this downgrade a punishment is... well, let's just say it's undeserved.

It's true we European federalists really don't enjoy being told we pursue Hitler's goals only by other means, but even if Boris had learnt to keep his mouth shut 'amicable divorce' would still be an oxymoron.

142:

Calling the named person bill fascist is really going a bit far. Even the courts admitted the aim of the legislation was "unquestionably legitimate and benign" and that the problem was that some of the provisions for information sharing (but presumably not information collecting) breached EU human rights laws about privacy.

Easily corrected through amendments, I would think. Disappointing that it wasn't caught earlier or no one thought it might pose an issue, to be fair.

143:

I've seen (mainly elsewhere) a few comments to the effect of "having a large majority makes negotiating easier". As Alatriste notes, this is complete bollocks.

Firstly, no other government cares about nuances of your domestic political situation (see: Cameron whining to the EU27 about immigration, being met with "show us some actual facts and we'll talk; your backbenchers/tabloids are your problem". Then complained he couldn't get a deal...), except insofar as they might be negotiating with someone else if they stall - which didn't apply here anyway. They only care about what you can & can't offer.

Secondly, as anyone who has ever negotiated anything knows, it is much easier to get the other side to respect your red lines if you cannot personally break them. Her ability to say "I'm sorry, I'd love to make that concession but I could never get it past my parliament, terrible shame I know" is an enormous advantage to her. It's certainly possible that May doesn't see it that way, but I think it's more that she doesn't care.

The modern Conservative party is entirely, 100%, about the acquisition of power and dismantling the state. Previous to May, power was desired for the ruling team (or at least the Party); with her the circle has narrowed to one T. May. She must have total unquestioned authority, in cabinet, parliament, and country, and nothing else will do. Losing EU negotiating power means nothing to closing her grip on the nation.

What she actually wants to do with that power is less clear - with the rest of her party, selling off everything they can get their hands on to their mates for a tidy profit was the M.O. She doesn't seem quite as keen; or, at least, it's not a priority. Cameron wanted to loot & run, but she's sticking around. For what?

144:

Noted - I meant the latter :-) But what opposition are you assuming? How many troops do you think that it would need to arrest just the members of the Cabinet, their PPSs, FFSs etc.? Yes, some of the mandarinate and other senior officialdom would actively oppose the new regime but, if it really came to that extreme, I doubt very many. It would not happen if we had even a semi-effective government with significant popular support, but only if it turned into a disaster on wheels. No, even with a smaller army than the UK now has, manpower is not the problem.

145:

THIS:
Markets seem to think a general election means soft Brexit has become more probable...
With a "mandate" May can, as you say tell the extreme hard-brexiters to stuff it & a much "softer", able-to-accommodate ( if not all, a lot more people ) & semi-workable solution becomes a distinct possibility.
I agree that the Lem-0-Crats are going to pick up a lot of votes - it is to be hoped that this translates to seats?

146:

I think "paper" records are a slight difference ( Like my NHS & NI numbers & the attached records? ) from appointing a guvmint Block Warden to spy on & interview the parents, when they have inconvenient political, or this being Scotland, religious ( Note* ) views?
Which is where the protests came from - NOT from the spineless politicians.

( Note* The Orkney "satanic" abuse scandal, brought about entirely by religious factionalism & spite )

147:

Given 2016, I think we'd better prepare for the worst and the most surreal games to play out. So how bad and surreal can the next couple of months get in the UK?

While being careful what we wish for.

For the first dramatic act in the tragedy, I'm waiting for enough Labour MPs to defy Corbyn's public requests and abstain. Thus denying Theresa May of the 2/3 majority of total membership needed to get past the FTPA. That should happen before the end of the day, I think. There again, maybe enough of the sitting turkeys will vote for Christmas for her to get her way.

148:

Oh dear, this is the "All tories are evil robbers & cruel exploiters" meme again.
DO READ the article from Norfolk that Coarlie linked to?
Your quiet rant is no more true than: "All Labour politicians are really communists who want to collectivise everything"
See my comments on Stella, above, as well.

NOTE: Of course there are some in each of the named parties who do conform to that stereotype...
All of momentum as "Militant-reborn" on one side, Rees-Mogg & Grayling on the other, f'rinstance

149:

THIS
The complete & utter failure of the supposedly-loyal Opposition to, you know OPPOSE.
Too busy investigating their own anuses & the purity of the left-ideological programme some want to follow, rather than getting on with the fucking job!

150:

Why do you think the "most likely scenario of that nature" implies more than a very small chance? The other scenarios OF THAT NATURE are even less plausible. And, actually, it's almost a pleasant fantasy, compared with some of the more plausible alternatives :-( Let me expand.

May gets in, does an Erdogan on changes to the law etc., we get a Chobham-armoured Brexit, the economy tanks, sterling is dropped from the ERM, welfare is essentially stopped, food and fueld prices hit the ceiling, the police are losing control in some areas, the usual rentathugs (you should know who I mean) are armed and used as a militia to suppress dissent, Northern Ireland is melting down, Scotland is in active (but not yet violent) revolt, support for May drops to 10%, there is a planned mass march on London, May is trying to order the army in to bring Scotland to heel and the RAF to back up her rentathugs in stopping the march (but has not yet succeeded in either), and King Charles summons the Chiefs of Staff for a consultation. Nothing unbelievable so far.

The result of the putsch is a period of rule by the mandarinate, followed by a civil government of national unity, referendums on new electoral/government procedures and a change to a properly federal system, and 50 years of rebuilding Britain from a disaster zone into a functioning European country.

151:

Yes. One of the catastrophes of the social changes of the past 70 years has been the number of children who are brought up by dysfunctional parents and without any familial or community backup. This is a significant cause of developmental problems, including physical, psychological, social, educational and other, and is the main reason that so many British adults are so unfitted for adult life (including parenting!) And the past century has taught us that it is FAR better to do something for EVERYBODY, rather than singling out just those who need it. I was very sorry when that bill went down.

152:

The Momentum campaign to deselect Stella Creasy appears to be mostly inside Greg's head, although if he's been hearing this at Labour Party meetings I will gladly accept his word. In the Wantage constituency meetings the hot topics are NHS, NHS, NHS and conditions at Calais .

Why is May doing this? Because she's ahead in the polls and thinks she'll win. Duh. There's a slim chance that she's wrong though. If the last two years have taught us anything, it's that nothing can be ruled out, however mad.

153:

Yes, but Americun RW/Red State voters are CONVINCED that is what the Democrats do, take their hard earned money and give it to "Those People" lounging in their welfare hammocks.

The exact inverse of reality, and when you try and explain this to them, they start spouting talking points from the Propaganda Organs, which is the intellectual equivalent of putting their fingers in their ears and chanting "la la la" (Which I have also had happen).

From Darkest Arkansas.

154:

In the spirit of predictions, isn't greater surveillance where we're all headed anyway? It's wise to be concerned/cautious about the trend, and it does sometimes feel odd to live in one of the most surveilled countries in the world.

But every potential dystopian future has its advantages, and being able to put together all this disparate information about people might make a huge difference for people who would otherwise slip through the cracks. Children are especially vulnerable given their tendency to stay quiet about family issues, and it would be amazing if we could see the problem before it gets so bad the only options are removal, fostering, etc.

I'm just worried that the Brexit/general election kerfuffle will put the named persons bill on the backburner for the foreseeable future. Shame.

155:

Nothing unbelievable so far.
Ya think? Whilst I'm expecting May to tend towards Authoritarianism - postulating the Army on the streets within the next 5 years is hysterical. Even at its most dysfunctional the UK (or rUK) is NOT Turkey.

156:

What do you think Monty Python's Life of Brian was parodying in the first place?

(Clue: British left wing politics in the early 1980s. Now ask yourself where Jeremy Corbyn comes from ...)

157:

The divorce analogy probably gives Brexit voters an overly optimistic impression - as divorces involve a dissolution between equal partners.

Brexit is more like quitting a club that provided a ton of benefits in exchange for following some rules and paying dues.

With the best will in the world, you either agree to follow the rules (say, free movement and product safety) in exchange for the benefits, (say, access to the single market). Or, you sod off.

Either way, since you aren't in the club, you lose the power to write the rules.

Leaving the EU is perhaps understandable if you are fantastically individualistic or really dislike immigration, but complaining about the resulting losses is silly.

Now, realistically, the EU will benefit from a humiliating, but not terribly damaging collapse. The ideal will be the UK fragmenting and then England and Scotland rejoining separately, under harder terms. This possibility may be accomplished simply by front loading losses.

158:

No, we aren't - we're worse off. I don't think you realise how much of our foreign exchange income is critically (sic) dependent on our membership of the EU and skilled immigrants. Nor how dependent we are on imported fuel for essential services, including farming, and how we can't even feed and clothe ourselves even WITH fuel. Prioritising those uses was a major strand of government in the 1940s and 1950s (even 1960s), but we couldn't do it today, and I don't see May abandoning monetarist dogma to move to where we could. Do YOU remember the foreign exchange (including oil) crises, and just how much Soviet-style regulation was needed to keep them under control?

No, it's not certain, probably not even more than an outside chance, but I have seen no economic analyses of how Britain could survive outside the EU and with the loss of its skilled immigrants. Remember that, as the economy tanks, economic immigrants will move back to where they came from or elsewhere, and the first to move will be the ones we can least afford to lose (i.e. those that get us the foreign exchange).

159:
DO READ the article from Norfolk that Coarlie linked to?

You're going to have to be more specific than that. I can't find any links Charlie's posted apart from the two in the post, neither of which relates to Norfolk.

I'm not saying anything about all Conservatives, or even most Conservatives; there are many perfectly reasonable arguments from the right across many policy areas, and many voters, party members and MPs who hold sensible views. I'm also not saying anything (at all) about Labour.

What I am saying is:

  • David Cameron and George Osborne were obsessed with selling off almost everything owned by the state, irrespective of whether that makes any sense at all (Police Forensics? Land Registry? Social Services? Defence acquisition? Parole services?), generally at far below market rate. They were joined in this by many of their ministers, in particular Grayling and Gove. Their motives for this are both ideological and personal.

  • Theresa May, on the other hand, seems to be all about personal power: no dissent is brooked, and MPs displaying a level of anti-Brexit sentiment far milder than she once did (during the referendum) are destroying the unity she constantly demands in all her speeches. Her motive for this remains unclear to me.

I don't think those descriptions are really in question...? OK, I'm sure people will quibble about specific privatisations making sense or not, but "privatisation was the core policy of the Cameron administration" seems pretty undeniable.

160:

When I'm looking at the looming Labour debacle, it just occurred to me how effective Cameron was as a party leader (not as a PM - Brexit and its consequences alone will be sufficient to mark him as one of the worst). But from a purely partisan point of view, the shift in the Tories' fortunes between 2005 and now is immense. He took over a party that was suffering from its deeply unpopular policies and internal rifts and successfully turned them into the "serious", natural government party again; he managed to run a coalition in which he imposed his will on his partners while giving them practically nothing in return; and he mostly settled the Tory infighting over the EU and robbed UKIP of its raison d'etre.
Now they're set for near-total political dominance in the short term, and who knows, they might even be able to find a scapegoat for the Brexit consequences. The press is certainly already obliging them with all the talk about saboteurs and an evil EU hell-bent on wrecking the UK.

161:

If the UK signs a trade deal with the US in July (because both Trump and May need some good news), then the pressure would be off on getting a better deal with the EU.

Not gonna happen.

Trump is a bully: he has to be the winner, and his adversary the loser. Right now, UK/US trade follows EU/US rules and reflects the status quo ante under Obama and Bush II. The UK has less bargaining leverage than the entire EU (being smaller and poorer) and will furthermore be negotiating under a deadline. This hands all the cards to Trump. Is he really going to reverse the habits of 70-odd years by being magnanimous? Or is he going to see a weak prey-beast and go for the throat?

163:

You seem to forget that Maggie was also religious. The big difference is the role of the big market institutions — which was a lot smaller when Maggie rose to power. Maggie, too, was an instinctive authoritarian centralizer: I suspect if you parachuted her into May's shoes she'd view the banks and money markets with exactly the same degree of suspicion as May.

164:

I hate to say it, but this is a fantasy ... which is fortunately not going to happen.
A military coup in Britain?
Simply not on ....

165:

Unfortunately, not inside my head.
Would that it were.
I have heard them ( members of momentum ) complaining of her "right-wing" tendencies then & exploding when I pointed out to them that "Marx was wrong, you know."

166:

No. I agree with you, but the word is UNfortunately :-( I am not joking about the UK facing economic catastrophe, but all the analysts I have seen are concentrating on the immediate effects, and most are ignoring the elephants in the room (only some of which I mentioned). What I am really afraid of is that things will be as bad as we say, and we will NOT get a revolution - merely (political) business as usual.

167:

theres a hung parliament.. and UKIP get to call the plays.. st some point someone makes Farage Chancellor and...

My money is on UKIP getting zero, one, or (at most) two seats. In other words, they'll be outnumbered by the English/Welsh Green Party (who weirdly never seem to get equal time with UKIP on the BBC news programs, Question Time, and so on — can't think why (unless the BBC News org really has been rolled by the far-right)) ...

The real turd in the punchbowl would be a hung parliament with neither a Labour nor a Tory majority, and about 50 (as predicted) LibDems. At which point any coalition effort will need to include the SNP. Unless we end up with some kind of fucked-up "government of national unity" involving the right wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party voting with the moderate wing of the Conservative Party and both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn out in the cold.

(But what I really expect is a 100-plus Tory supermajority. We're so fucked.)

168:

Andy: for the record, I am not a Labour member. Or an SNP member. I am a paid-up member of the Scottish Green Party, which is a separate party from the English and Welsh Green Party.

169:

And the fact that the House of Lords was still capable of acting as an opposition, when the official one was ineffectual. May has no such constraint. But I think the word "gentle" in that article was a mistake, and what was meant was closer to "calm" or perhaps even "stable" (i.e. conservative in the non-political sense).

170:

Greg, the "named person" proposal was an unconstitutionally intrusive but nevertheless well-meaning attempt to deal with a real problem — namely the failure of existing social welfare checks to save children from being murdered by their parents or guardians, after a number of cases in which children "slipped through the cracks" and ended up severely harmed or dead. Hint: attempting to prevent extreme child abuse, however cack-handedly, is not the same as trying to set up a totalitarian surveillance state. Intent matters. And, as noted, the courts found it was a bad idea, so the Scottish parliament went back to the drawing board (and is still trying to come up with an acceptable solution).

171:

I question whether this has actually changed to any great degree. See for example, Charlie's recent comments on parental mortality in the past, leading to orphans and step/adopted parents galore. Plus much of what we now consider dysfunctional was considered "normal" or simply ignored. Add in a lesser intensity of surveillance and reporting by the state and similar institutions. Plus what was reported to the state was less comprehensive, nuanced or informed by a desire to help families (as opposed to simply needing a register of available labor or potential dissent.)

172:

So we are supposed to cast JC as Brian?

173:

Looks like Farage is going to stand again in my constituency.

Last time this had the tiniest of silver linings as we got a lot of entertaining fringe candidates.

I will be deploying my usual argument to those considering voting for him; that he would be a terrible constituency MP, as he would spend his time and efforts on UKIP national matters rather than local ones.

174:

I was not talking about the extreme cases, which is the main thing we have statistics on. I was talking about children not being read to, inability to prepare food, inability to do most household tasks, no understanding of the society they live in, lacking ambition, etc. That is a major cause in the increasing number of children leaving school borderline innumerate, illiterate, unemployable or incapable of living (effectively) by themselves. Plus the decreasing proportion at higher skill levels. You may not believe this has changed, but I can assure you that it has.

175:

I think JC is supposed to be the Popular Front ... he's over there. SPLITTER!

176:

Where was Marx wrong? The only wrongs I see are that his followers used his analysis to predict and enact the political future.
Marx analysis of added value, accumulation loop of capital and periodic crises of the capitalist system have been confirmed more than any other economical theory.

177:

Yes
Entirely correct.
Unfortunately, I don't think there is a solution, or not an easy one, anyway, given the constraints on innocent people being monstered by officialdom - there's far too much of that already (!)

178:

Marx was a brilliant analyst of the politico-economic situation at the time he was writing.

He then postulated what would happen ( Which is now taken as gospel by "Marxists" ) with the condition, unspoken, that things would not change much.
But, they did change ...
working conditions improved slowly, employers started to recognise trades unions, health insurance came in ( Thank you Bismarck & Lloyd George ) the electorate widened ( even to including WOMEN! ) etc.
He predicted revolution in the most developed countries, which were the ones that adapted & changed the most, thus removing the pressure for a "workers" revolution.
The Lumpenproletariat also diminished as education & skills became more widespread, as well.

So, he was wrong, but classical Marxists refuse to accept this, same as the conventional religious believers refuse to recognise the other realities of the world.

179:

Marx wasn't wrong per se, it's just that the act of publishing his theories changed the world he was trying to theorise about. Employers aren't idiots and can read as well as the next person - if you tell them their workers might bloodily revolt unless some concession are made, they'll listen.

Classical Marxists aren't refusing to accept that he was wrong, they're refusing to accept that by some measures, they've already won.

180:

I think you are only partly right. Probably more children are being read to, but fewer are learning to do everyday necessary tasks. I would conjecture this is a middle class bias. Probably more "lower class"/working class children are being reached by education than 100 (or 70) years ago. But middle class people are less sharp than they used to be. You could blame this on women working outside the home and getting more access to leisure activities. I would say men haven't adapted as much as they should and employers/the state have barely adapted at all. It's also hard to sell thrift and diligence when those things clearly don't reward people as much as they used to. It's hard to learn how to take care of property or garden, if you don't have property or land. It's hard to learn to fix a car when cars don't require as much driver maintenance and need experts if they do break. (And there are probably fewer people who are classically working class, unless you count immigrants, who do possess many of the admirable qualities you lament the passing of.)

But just to be a fuddy duddy myself, I remember even 20 years ago, employers were amazed at how well organized I was and how little supervision I needed. But that's partly because young people who can do those things now tend to get the opportunity to do better jobs. And older people who could do these jobs won't be offered them because of a mixture of status and price considerations. Plus automation has finally caught up to some of these jobs. (I was an ex grad student in between permanent jobs. Amazingly that was exactly what temp employers needed because everyone half way competent now gets a college degree and puts themselves above such employment. And yes, a lot of the people WITH college degrees are less competent than many people who did not get formal schooling in earlier times. But in earlier days most of them would have died or shoveled manure. They would not necessarily have gotten more community support to be all they could be.)

In general people of all ages and income levels have become less competent and less engaged with reality as they spend more time on their phones. My wife has noticed the rapid deterioration of drivers in the last 10 years, for example.

So I think you are correct on some trends, wrong on others and also partly right/partly wrong on the causation.

181:

But what opposition are you assuming? How many troops do you think that it would need to arrest just the members of the Cabinet, their PPSs, FFSs etc.?

The lesson from history that the British Army took very close to heart, and which is carved deeply into its institutional memory, was being ordered to carry out internment in 1971.

It didn't work then; it would be even harder to make it work in an era of pervasive communications, operating against a government (that has already employed rentathug and presumably suborned or neutralised the Police) and mass media (being largely owned by the Barclays / Rothermere / Murdoch / that ilk) that would obviously be deeply opposed to such an action. What if the fascists being overthrown have secured weaponry, or armed PMC bodyguards?

As a minor nitpick, it wouldn't be "arrest", as the Army doesn't have those powers (getting MoD Police on-side would be a sensible first step for the legally-minded). This would be an instant issue once you saw the Ministers' close protection officers faced with attempts to unlawfully detain, including threats of the use of lethal force.

As for "how many troops", let's assume the arrest of 300 to 500 key individuals; Ministers, key MPs, leading civil servants, key SPADs, complicit media owners and editors, complicit rentathug leaders. Assume a "multiple" of twelve as a basic arrest team (gives you an Officer or Senior NCO in charge, sufficient soldiers to overmatch a one or two-person close protection team, cover the front and back of a dwelling, kick down doors); and trying to do it as simultaneously as possible. Suddenly, you're looking at committing 10-20% of the entire Regular Army to the task (once you consider that a battalion of 600 could perhaps deploy 25ish multiples). Kind of hard to brief and deploy most of UKLF without any of the Fascists noticing...

182:

Can't disagree much there, just that it's maybe unfair to blame later developments on Marx. If he'd lived, I'm sure he had adjusted his predictions to the new data. He died 1883, trade unions were legalized 1872 in UK, 1884 in France and 1897 in Germany.

183:

Trump is a bully: he has to be the winner, and his adversary the loser.

True. On free trade with the UK post Brexit, I believe it is possible to convince him -- or for him to convince himself -- that he wins with such a deal because he thinks (a) he's pulling the UK's chestnuts out of the fire and (b) he's sticking his thumb in the collective eye of France and Germany.

184:

Except that I don't think Trump thinks that much about France and Germany.

His foreign focus (to the extent he has it) seems to be Mexico, China, and Russia. It would be ironic if the UK signs a free trade agreement with Mexico. Perhaps May applies for the UK to join NAFTA?

185:

I suggested earlier this year that post-Mexican wall the Trump administration could conceivably go for a NAFTA where the NA was North Atlantic and meant the US, UK, and Canada, then a new NATO that included only the same three. That was before all the generals he appointed to civilian offices started steering Russian policy back towards the Russians being the bad guys.

Well, the year is still young. Further reversals are always possible.

186:

Trump is a bully: he has to be the winner, and his adversary the loser.

I feel I should point out the cognitive dissonance involved in concluding that on the one hand Trump is a psychopathic fascist bent on destroying the machinery of civil society to enrich himself and his friends while centralizing power around his cult of personality, while on the other hand assuming that he'd be negotiating a trade deal in good faith for US interest.

He wins if the trade deal makes him look good on TV somehow. They don't even have to actually negotiate it: just announce that it'll be bigly good and shake on it, details to come soonish!

187:

Er, no. 70 years ago, illiteracy and innumeracy were far rarer than they are today. Check it up :-(

188:

... also note that a hypothetical trade deal can be a source of internal leverage just as much as external.

"As you know it's very important that we negotiate this trade deal with Theresa May quicky and in the American interest. I understand you do a lot of business in England, and there's something that concerns me. You see... I know for a fact that my businesses are aligned with the interests of the United States, but I'm not sure yours are. Why just the other day someone sent me this article in one of your newspapers..."

189:

Well, don't do it that way, then. Do it when there is a cabinet meeting, with either or both of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner or King telling the policemen to let the soldiers in. In the UK, politicians do not yet have their private armies, separate from the police and regulars, to protect them from coups. Naturally, this wouldn't work twice, but it doesn't have to!

Yes, OF COURSE, it could go wrong. But it doesn't involve anyone else (not even the MPC) being told anything until just before they need to act. As I said, I think that it's very implausible, but it's the most likely scenario for the Sovereign stepping in that I can think of. Can YOU think of a more likely one?

190:

Or Jared/Ivana negotiate first and tell DT later that he really, really likes this HUGE deal! Also, a legal vetted and sworn-in ambassador is completely beside the point when you have this power couple doing all the heavy lifting. Seems that's what's happening anyway.

191:

Re: TMay

She worked for a cheque-clearing company that serviced a very small select group of banks ... any idea what baggage/promises/commitments attached to this?

I'm still trying to figure out the money funding this election given someone's comment a few topics back that very few Brits have formal political memberships because such is usually detrimental to their jobs/careers. This of course means that reasonable working folk are deliberately left out of the pre-screening of their future gov't leaders. (While I appreciate keeping one's work and politics separate, personally think such a blanket policy/practice is suicidal for a nation.)

192:

Bear in mind elections over here have strong funding caps (thankfully) and therefore less opportunities for our politicians to get their noses in the trough.

Funding is nominally provided centrally via the Party who solicit donations from Businesses and other organisations. Traditionally the Conservatives/Tories are the champions of big business and funded accordingly. Labour has traditionally been funded by subscriptions from labour organisations such as unions plus fewer business men with a more left leaning outlook.

As noted upthread a decent proportion ofthe last lot of winners are facing investigations for expense fraud ie underreporting their election spend! It would be very interesting if the investigation triggers arrests for people a few days before they stand for re-election.

Thankfully we have none of that crazy PAC white the US has. (I hope!). There are probably a few iffy ’charitable organisations' that lobby and donate but they are not a big problem AFAIK.

193:

On the ordinary working class bit - this article give some background, disclaimer it's the Fox New of UK newspapers so look for bias and exaggeration.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2175695/One-seven-MPs-real-job.html

194:

I went and looked: Statstics for the UK seem to either show a slow tailing off of the rate of decline of illiteracy through the latter half of the 20th century, and/or they're vaguely inconclusive once you reach the last couple of decades of the 20th and into the start of the 21st century.

Do you have better links that clearly show a decline?

195:

Ooh, working on three fronts, and an attempt at two meta-levels, with a brave but inaccurate stab at level 3; we can work with that. But no, you've missed the point of the joke.

And you're showing your knickers at the same time! (And, unless you're actively engaged, you've just made one of the most offensive jokes ever made, akin to Holocaust ones. I'm fairly sure you're just using the Time Cube reference rather than anything else, so not offended).

~

Philip May, husband of Britain’s soon-to-be Prime Minister Theresa May, works as a pension fund expert at investment fund Capital Group, which has a large stake in companies that have been accused of tax avoidance, the Independent reported Tuesday.

Theresa May’s husband works for investment fund with stake in tax dodging companies: report Politico (EU version), July 2016

While he's on the PR / smoozing side at Capital One, rather than actual wealth management, she's certainly in the food chain. And Capital One... 100% part of the Atlantic / 5EyE / Anglosphere, Defcon 2 levels.

What is clear is that some kind of rampant insanity / Right-wing global collusion / psychopathy has taken hold or there's something the public is really not being told. USA, UK, Turkey, Russia etc.

I chose to make a Cat / AI joke about it via Queen (Good Omens: all cassette tapes (which really dates it) in cars turn into the Best Of Queen Hits) as a meta-joke; the reality is probably less funny.

196:

No

Because you are talking repeated ultra-leftwing bollocks of the highest magnitude
"The King" leading a coup - really?
With "the Army" being complicit - really?
Not since 1661 at all, actually ... the cultural ingraining against it is very strong.

197:

"The King" leading a coup - really?

Came very close in 1688 — depending who you believe. (The King did lead an army into battle a year or so later, and not on parliament's side, so ...)

Then there was the constitutional crisis of 1909-11. The King did step in to resolve it (on the side of the HoC, not the Lords); if he'd zigged instead of zagging, what would the outcome have been?

And then there was 1938. (Monarch deposed, using his relationship with a divorced American woman as an excuse; truthiness would have it that he was deposited because he was a bit too friendly to that nice Herr Adolf.)

The 1971 MI5 alleged coup plot was probably a non-starter and Lizzie would have stomped it flat if it had gotten that far — if QE2 stands for anything, she's deadly serious about stability and tradition — but the fact that anyone even considered it is totally barking mad on the face of it.

I've been saying for a couple of decades that the event horizon in politics is never more than five years away: look more than six years ahead and the political future becomes utterly opaque. Six years is all it took Germany to go from not-terribly-stable-but-muddling-along Weimar Republic to fascist dictatorship re-arming and occupying the Sudetenland. Six years is all it took to go from Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the Brexit referendum. And so on.

A state of affairs leading to a pre-coup situation with $MONARCH as a credible figurehead lending it legitimacy in just six years would be a marked deviation from recent history but is definitely not completely impossible if two or more things go horribly wrong and align just right. Example: hard Brexit goes through just as Global Financial Crisis 2.0 strikes, to a backdrop of Donald Trump nuking North Korea and flattening South Korea at the same time. Sterling really tanks just as all the soft money hammers into food futures — just as it did in 2007/08, leading to the Arab Spring when grain prices across the middle east more or less tripled in six months — and ill-advised austerity leaves people starving in the streets (just as it did in the 1870s Great Recession). Theresa May or someone even worse uses the Great Reform Act to unilaterally edit laws, striking out anything they disapprove of. This facilitates a control-freak attempt to roll back devolution and local rule in Scotland and NI, leading to extreme unrest — and in NI, a return to bombings. The GRA may also be used for other, currently unforeseen but bizarre efflorescences of authoritarianism: write your own worst-case scenario here. At this point everything would be worse than in the early-to-mid 70s, by some considerable margin, and the powder keg is waiting for one final spark. Inconceivable? Well, it couldn't happen now ... but six years is a very long time in politics.

198:

Ahem: The Wilson Plot.

The fact that MI5 actually has it's own special little webpage devoted to the subject kinda tells you all you need to know: THE 'WILSON PLOT' MI5. No, really, someone thought that denial from a fucking security 5EyE agency was worth writing.

199:

And in today's news, further evidence that the UK's entire political establishment has thoroughly lost its marbles, as idiotic non-Tory MPs go nuts thinking they have a chance to unseat the Tories, fail to realise they're actually playing right into May's hands, and vote 522-13 (I mean, for fuck's sake) in favour of the early election.

http://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2017-04-19/debates/0DE53CE3-2E92-44E8-A3BE-A7BEE2D9F075/EarlyParliamentaryGeneralElection

200:

Take a look at http://nogger-noggersblog.blogspot.ca/ and scroll down a bit; look at the 30 day precipitation record and 15 day forecast graphics over to the right. Recall what time of year it is.

Then take a look at https://cleantechnica.com/2016/02/12/is-this-the-best-solar-chart-yet/

What they know (and we don't) is something close to how much the PRC is spending on solar this year. There are plenty of articles out there that make harrumphing noises about "overproduction"; well, no, China isn't really a market economy. There are market elements, sure, but what you're seeing is industrial policy to the effect of "this smog problem is going to Go Away", and co-incidentally the global economy's basis on oil is going to go away, too, leaving China with a big lead in solar cell technology and production. Purely on economic grounds of price per kWh; nothing whatsoever to do with the climate. So, odds are, sometime this year the official price for New Solar Installations goes below natural gas in price/kWh and the Market has to notice.

A quarter of everything is way overpriced absent any consideration of climate change, and the banking system and insurance industry up and snuff it as the market undergoes something you can't really call a correction. This takes the thalassocracy with it; the modern form starts in 1908 with the formation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. (Because they'd figured out your stokers limit your speed.) Naval policy is about strait control because trade is about strait control, and it all sat on control of the world oil markets. The thalassocracy isn't going to lose control of the oil; the value of the oil is going to drop below the level that makes maintaining the USN to control it practical or possible. The long 20th century drops its curtain.

The UK economy is purely financialized. It is impossible to argue that the Powers That Be shouldn't have seen this coming, because it's been coming since the 1980s. The prospect of hanging concentrates the mind, and May is out of the financial industry, not the old-line aristocracy. May is looking at that prospect of hanging and seeking to make it completely impossible. (One reason to get the hell out of Europe; it avoids interacting with a legal system they don't control. Probably the reason if you're a Tory.)

Turkey is desiccating, just like Syria. The cultural machinery doesn't seem to have risen to the challenge.

The US, stuck with Trump's zero-dimensional chess, isn't relevant so long as they don't nuke anybody. If they don't pivot right smartly on their economy it won't be recoverable. The GOP is in favour; technology leads to less patriarchy. A good solid economic collapse lets them finish recreating the Confederacy.

201:

Would you please attempt to explain what you're driving at in plain English?

202:

Anybody interesting in the 13 no votes?

203:

Nobody I've ever heard of, but this is the list:

Ronnie Campbell (Labour - Blyth Valley)

Ann Clwyd (Labour - Cynon Valley)

Paul Farrelly (Labour - Newcastle-under-Lyme)

Jim Fitzpatrick (Labour - Poplar and Limehouse)

Clive Lewis (Labour - Norwich South)

Fiona Mactaggart (Labour - Slough)

Liz McInnes (Labour - Heywood and Middleton)

Dennis Skinner (Labour - Bolsover)

Graham Stringer (Labour - Blackley and Broughton)

Lady Hermon (Independent - North Down)

Natalie McGarry (Independent - Glasgow East)

Michelle Thomson (Independent - Edinburgh West)

Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP - Belfast South)

204:

Thanks!

The only one under fifty is up on fraud charges, and otherwise multiple degrees of fringe. So no plausible principled centre of gravity, more's the pity.

205:

Some very sensible person on twitter that I can't find right now said that May was a typical Daily Mail reader that, for some reason, lots of people think is pretending to be a typical Daily Mail reader.

206:

What is clear is that some kind of rampant insanity / Right-wing global collusion / psychopathy has taken hold or there's something the public is really not being told. USA, UK, Turkey, Russia etc.

I've been thinking about the same thing.

There was This today, but anyone with a brain would know that someone in Russia must have created a strategy document(s), so while it's interesting, that's almost certainly not the "big problem."

I can imagine several scenarios. The first is something having to do with climate change, such as a reliable-but-secret prediction about how - I really have no idea - the entirety of Greenland (or maybe Antartica) is going to melt this summer due to [redacted.] (Whatever redacted might be.)

Second, a reliable prediction of certain kinds of volcanic activity might touch off a panic. If it were clearly known, for example, that the Yellowstone super-volcano was going to blow in 2020, that might inspire all kinds of weird governmental activity. Keep in mind that there are other supervolcanos, such as Toba in Sumatra.

Third, there might be some kind of technological advancement the governments can't stop, perhaps an open-source and reasonably strong AI stack capable of being run on a Linux box, or maybe a form of fusion which can be built from - who knows - off-the-shelf hardware store parts.

Fourth, the arrival of aliens.

Fifth, an out of context problem. (Cthulhu is coming, stick out your minds!) Or it may be that the ____ government has finished reverse-engineering the Predecessor relics recovered from Iraq.

Sixth, the arrival of some kind of horrible new weapons technology.

The problem is that none of these seem very likely, and some of them would already be well-known. For example, if the Yellowstone super-volcano was going to blow we'd know about it years in advance, because the magma chamber is currently not full and it will take years and maybe decades to fill it. (This is a necessary precondition for an eruption.) If aliens were coming, astronomers would be the first to know. So 1-4 are all unlikely because they would probably be common knowledge.

But a horrible new weapons technology would be hard to predict (and it might be hard-to-invent but easily replicated) and so would an out-of-context problem.

Could the panic be over something which will not happen, but which superstitious, high-ranking humans imagine will happen? That could be interesting. Getting tired now, but something to think about.

207:

And have been largely neutered in the USA; Or at least "Management" has so many tools for their suppression, that it is very hard to organize a resistant sector (like Walmart).

Walmart frequently does (anti) union things that are ILLEGAL under current law. But I am more likely to be punished/muzzled for saying so than they are.

And the whole Fast Food sector? See the bit about abusive scheduling software up thread. An estimate I read said 40% of low wage workers are victims of this kind of "wage theft" every month, which would not surprise me. But their is intense pressure to shut up and keep on, or you might be blacklisted.

208:

Note that the FTPA required 2/3 of all seats. Which means that an abstention is a vote against. And while the 13 made a show of voting against, the SNP abstained en bloc. This is being explained as "not standing in the way of the election" which is a misreading of the act. What I haven't found yet is the full list of abstentions.

I'm pretty sure the Labour party missed a trick by playing along with the call for a general election. It's all moot now, but I wonder what might have happened if May hadn't got her election. I can't imagine she'd risk a whipped vote of no confidence in her own government. Which would mean an attempt to force through a repeal or modification of the FTPA in the same rapid way that Art50 was handled. It probably would have succeeded in the same way with a bit of grumbling from the Lords. I don't know who that would have benefited. Anyway, it didn't happen so here we are again.

There'll be a lot of noise. Labour seem to want to continue their strategy of polite disagreement which is worthy but failed. We'll be told this is not really about Brexit, but really is about Brexit. Which means that every vote against the Tories is a vote against Brexit. IMHO...

209:

The 1971 MI5 alleged coup plot was probably a non-starter and Lizzie would have stomped it flat if it had gotten that far — if QE2 stands for anything, she's deadly serious about stability and tradition — but the fact that anyone even considered it is totally barking mad on the face of it.
Rumour has it that Mountbatten was approached & the reply was in "Strong Naval Language" shall we say?

Along those lines it is known that Geo V slowed-down (at least) the tory ultras in the aftermath of the 1926 General Strike by saying/suggesting: "I want to be King of all my people ... "

210:

So, odds are, sometime this year the official price for New Solar Installations goes below natural gas in price/kWh and the Market has to notice.
Just as the fuckwit BritGov ( Prodded by almost-certainly corrupt "civil servants") removes all subsidy for solar ....

211:

Keep in mind that there are other supervolcanos, such as Toba in Sumatra.
The entire bay of Naples?
Shudder
And the ground down there is bulging ....

or maybe a form of fusion which can be built from - who knows - off-the-shelf hardware store parts.
Lockheed skunk? Or somebody else?

perhaps an open-source and reasonably strong AI stack capable of being run on a Linux box
Now that really would scare guvmints.

But, you are both correct ... it really does seem that "There's something in the water"

212:

Which means that every vote against the Tories is a vote against Brexit. IMHO...
Maybe
Maybe not
Remember that London & the London respectable papers (excepting the Torygraph) are pro-remain or at least "As-soft-a-Brexit-as-possible" - even the Standard (!)
A lot of voices are now saying that this gives us a possibility of a much softer brexit as with a big majority, May can ignore the loonie ultras & what's more sack the Three Clowns when they fuck up & before the end-date.
All up in the air, with no definite conclusions to be drawn.

One fairly certain conclusion: fuckwit MacDonnel opening his big mouth on yesterday's "Today" programme has cost Labour all its marginal London & near-London seats.

213:

You cant have it both ways Greg - if the market price of Solar is about to drop below other fuels - then its precisely the right time to lower (not drop) subsidies. Now you can argue that its a fluke of timeing and they should have waited another year or so to give the solar installers a cushion - but believe it or not HMG has some pretty good economic forecasters in it - its just variable as to whether they are listened to.

214:

Not offhand, unfortunately, and we could well be talking about different measures; I was meaning functional literacy and numeracy, which I accept has changed. I can find references, but it's not so easy to find one reliable enough to be worth a damn, not least because of the changes in the metric. Please feel free to criticise me for sloppy phrasing (and even sloppy thinking) - I can only plead "Guilty as charged, M'Lud."

The point is that the requirements for functional literacy and numeracy are different (and harder) today from those of 1947 - the point made most often is that all jobs and the use of most domestic items now require the ability to read instructions etc., whereas they didn't then. But it's perhaps more different in numeracy, where the ability to do simple arithmetic is less critical, but the ability to 'understand' numbers is more so.

215:

Sometimes I wonder about the reading skills of people posting here, though you are usually rather better. But, to repeat for the last time:

As I said, I think that it's very implausible, but it's the most likely scenario for the Sovereign stepping in that I can think of. Can YOU think of a more likely one?

216:

Which should never have been perpetrated. Solar power for general use is, was, and always will be a damn-fool idea in the UK. The numbers simply don't add up, even if the (ecological) harm of the manufacture, deployment and disposal were small enough (which is dubious). There ARE non-fossil, non-nuclear power sources suitable for general use in the UK, but it isn't one of them.

217:

You haven't heard of the Beast of Bolsover? I have a lot of time for him - he is a raving loon, but is one of the few MPs who seems to be entirely honest - what you see is what you get. And it isn't rare for him to be the only one speaking up for backbenchers against front-bench stitchups, or for the country against the political establishment.

218:

"The UK economy is purely financialized. It is impossible to argue that the Powers That Be shouldn't have seen this coming, because it's been coming since the 1980s."

And there is considerable evidence that it was deliberate.

"The prospect of hanging concentrates the mind, and May is out of the financial industry, not the old-line aristocracy. May is looking at that prospect of hanging and seeking to make it completely impossible."

Not noticing that she is likely to replace it by garrotting :-(

219:

I think a horrible new weapons technology is even less likely than aliens. Weapons tech has been pretty linear like, forever; The problem is how the Mil SF crowd perceives it.

Examples, the Machine Gun in WW I; It was pretty much a "known" tech, and everyone was experimenting to find out what "worked".

Doctrinal evolution and application is another matter. In the 80's the joke was that the Iran-Iraq war was WW I with Modern Weapons and Medieval Mentalities. Iraq finally broke the stalemate in 1988, but it was "known" methods; Then they went up against the first team in 1991.

And only the WEIRD societies seem to be able to get it "right" for values of right.

Defeating Insurgencies is another "known" problem, it is the Western Democracies short time Horizon and/or unwillingness (squeamishness?) about the traditional Roman solution, part of which is a necessary part of ANY "solution", sometimes you just have to kill some of the bad guys. But given a blindingly obvious need, well....

Also consider the emergent Law Enforcement preference, at least in the USA for "suppression" remedies. Eventually that will either shift, or blow up in their faces. (as it did in Ferguson, etc) The forces of suppression are ascendant right now, and attempting to use their power to cement themselves in. In will get very ugly.

In order to have sophisticated weapons technologies (Drones, etc) you have to have a sophisticated tech base. If the satellites and Telecoms go away, so do the drones.

Pull out the Western Technicians and parts supply chain, the various Mid Eastern Air forces will be like Iran or Iraq in 2003.

220:

An entirely new weapons system may be unlikely, but if the US navy have successfully got their railguns working for ABM defence that would presage a sudden, dramatic end to the idea of MAD.

221:

So, odds are, sometime this year the official price for New Solar Installations goes below natural gas in price/kWh and the Market has to notice.

What happens when the sun goes down? This is a serious question.

At the moment renewables such as solar and wind around the world free-wheel on the large installed base of gas, coal and nuclear plants that generate power on demand 24/7. Renewables plus a shitload of storage to cover weather variation and diurnal cycles are a lot more expensive than the on-demand fossil and nuclear plants but that's never part of the Powerpoint Rangers glorious vision of the renewables future.

By the way I've been hearing that "solar is cheaper than coal/gas-generated electricity" line for nearly a decade now. If so, why is (unsubsidised) coal/gas/nuclear so cheap and (heavily subsidised) solar still so expensive?

As for the Chinese they're still burning lots of coal, about as much per capita as Germany does (ca. 2 tonnes per person per annum) with no plans to stop any time in the next few decades. They're upgrading their coal plants to modern standards of pollution control and decommissioning older less-efficient plants but they're still increasing the total amount of electricity production from all sources, it's not a question of replacing coal with solar or wind or even nuclear.

222:

They couldn't stop the Prime Minister from going to the country, even if they had voted against overriding the Fixed Term law. If that vote had failed she could call a vote of confidence and whip the Tories to vote "no confidence" and dare the other parties to vote to support her as PM to prevent the dissolution.

The Fixed Term concept had so many loopholes it was pretty pointless to begin with but it looked good.

223:

the SNP abstained en bloc

Cleft stick.

The SNP know they're going to sweep Scotland. Currently there are one each Labour, Conservative, and LibDem MPs in Scotland, and 54 SNP. There may be some seat shuffling but when the dust settles in June there will still be over-90% SNP MPs plus detritus. If IndyRef 2 is a formal manifesto commitment then that just underlines the strength of their position north of the border. They're not going to lose this election (purely in terms of Scottish representation).

However, the election costs them time and money and effort while playing to the advantage of Theresa May, who right now is locked in a game of chicken with Nichola Sturgeon over (a) IndyRef 2, and (b) Scotland's interests in a soft Brexit (or no Brexit), and (c) longer term centrally enforced budget cuts that are ramming unwanted austerity down the Scottish government's throat. It also interrupts campaigning in the Scottish council elections scheduled for May, which is deeply annoying because it forces them to run two election campaigns simultaneously and fight on different issues. So there's got to be a strong impulse to say "fuck you, we're no' co-operating".

224:

Read a claim (where?) that the Russians already broke the equilibrium with a new generation of hypersonic cruise missiles.

But being Russian Tech, what is the likely failure rate?

225:
[...] the English/Welsh Green Party (who weirdly never seem to get equal time with UKIP on the BBC news programs, Question Time, and so on — can't think why

In the 2015 general election, UKIP got 12.6% of votes cast, against 3.8% for the Greens. A current polling average has UKIP on 10.6% against 4.3% for the Greens.

Our electoral system is incredibly stupid, and I do not want media coverage allocated on the same basis. Percentage of the vote is much more reasonable, and that says that UKIP should get about 40% of the coverage that Labour get (and the Greens should get 10-15% as much as Labour). I dislike them as much as the next hominid, but they deserve their share of coverage.

Now, ex-Leader & failed candidate Farage, on the other hand - his media profile is another question...

226:

If solar goes below gas in price per kW/h installed in the UK — I expect that to take a few months to a couple of years longer than in sunnier latitudes like China or the USA — then the abolition of subsidies for solar in the UK doesn't matter in the long run; the limiting factor becomes the price of land.

Hmm. I wonder if the utilities have enough leverage to drag green belt land into use for solar? Especially if the ongoing nuclear renewal in the UK drives any further into the swamp and the Green Alliance are right about electric car charging hotspots triggering brown-outs by 2020 as electric car usage soars and the grid struggles to cope on a local scale.

227:

The other mil-tech to watch out for is the supercavitating torpedo (article dates to 2006) like the Russian Khischnik — second generation, main design goal being to add guidance on top of the existing, achieved 200 knot speed of the existing, in-service Shkval torpedo (which is unguided, optionally nuclear-tipped, with a range of up to 13km).

Launching a supercavitating torpedo gives away the position of the launch platform SSN; it was originally deployed as a "revenge weapon" for an SSN that had already been pinned down by an adversary. But if you designed it as the "second stage" of a conventional torpedo, or for delivery from a drone micro-sub, what you end up with could be regarded as a stealthy (until final dash) underwater anti-shipping missile.

(And anti-missile lasers are fuck-all use under water.)

But we're veering wildly off-topic here, and if Graydon is correct (and I think he is) the age of the traditional maritime empires are coming to an end and the question of who can punch out a USN carrier battle group most effectively is as relevant to the future as the question of who can stand up to Napoleon's Grand Armee.

228:

Note that the UKIP/Green vote ratio can be swapped, almost exactly, in Scotland. (Greens get about 8-10% in parliamentary elections; UKIP poll around the 2% mark.) Indeed, the current SNP administration in Holyrood is a minority, which relies on the Green MSPs to get their legislative program through. (The Scottish Green Party is somewhat to the left of the SNP but their biggest point of disagreement is fossil fuel production; this would have been a deal-breaker in the North Sea Oil boomtime years, but is increasingly irrelevant.)

229:

What happens when the sun goes down? This is a serious question.

Spectacularly irrelevant to the problem.

This is not about installed renewables hardware or actual supply of electrons; this about the price assigned to unextracted fossil carbon and the value assigned to various assets like refineries and manufacturers of big drill heads and so on. The problem is the market noticing that those prices are wrong on the high side.

The existing "Carbon Bubble" discussion tends to talk about it from the regulatory (the planetary carbon budget for no more than 2 C
(direct anthropogenic forcing) demands most known reserves go unburnt) or insurance (insurance companies are very vulnerable to a world with more violent weather) angle, but straight up pricing out of the market works, too.

(Storage qua storage isn't a technical problem; it's about picking a winner, so people know where to invest. Rather like picking diesel-electric for railways in the late 40s/early 1950s. It doesn't seem especially unlikely that the PRC is having problems with picking a winner in terms of storage technologies.)

230:

If you want to worry about arms tech, the US may be in the process of deploying ~100 kJ chemically pumped laser "gun pods" to frontline fighter aircraft, aka "you only thought we had air supremacy before".

Not really relevant; military power arises from, it does not create, economic power. And economic power rests on food and food is threatened everywhere.

231:

(Storage qua storage isn't a technical problem; it's about picking a winner, so people know where to invest. Rather like picking diesel-electric for railways in the late 40s/early 1950s. It doesn't seem especially unlikely that the PRC is having problems with picking a winner in terms of storage technologies.)

likely. Sigh. Should go eat breakfast.

China started in on the heavy solar investment around 2000. It seems implausible they're not aware of storage as an issue, don't have a plan, and aren't rolling that plan out. This is at base an old-fashioned "make lots and lots of these small number of types of things with a simple metric of quality" problem, it's not a complex control problem. It's every bit as amenable to central planning as roads are.

232:

Indeed, the current SNP administration in Holyrood is a minority
Agreed, but that's an artifact of an electoral process (additional vote/member) which was deliberately engineered to make it virtually impossible for any one party to achieve an overall majority.

233:

The problem is the total production cost of getting electricity to a consumer socket. Solar panels and wind turbines stop doing generating electricity pretty often, when the wind stops blowing and the sun goes down. The solution is renewables plus storage but people pointing out the supposedly-lower price of renewable generation never mention the additional cost of storage needed to keep the lights on when the renewable sources stop generating sufficient electricity to meet the instantaneous demand. At that point fossil carbon gets burned in large amounts[1] to cover the deficit. More renewables means either large extra costs for storage or more carbon being burned to keep the lights on, and people given the choice of sitting in the dark or having electricity on demand will burn every gram of extractable fossil carbon to do so.

[1] At one point during the winter here in the UK we were using about 50GW of electricity. The sun was down (no solar), The wind was quiet (less than a GW), nuclear was producing its steady-as-she-goes regular 7GW or so and nearly all of the rest was being met by gas in CCGT plants, about 25GW of fast-response fossil carbon consumption. The weird thing is we've been inundated for decades with press reports about wind farms and pictures of wind turbine arrays in the sea which, on average produce about 2GW or so of our generating capacity. Nobody has ever made a big splash about the 25GW and more of gas turbine generators we've built out over the past ten or fifteen years but they're what really keep the lights on as coal gets taken out of the loop in the UK.

234:

China is throwing everything against the wall in terms of electricity generation to see what will work and what won't, because they need the electricity. They're planning to have a generating capacity of about 2TW (2,000 GW) in a few years time and that means building out solar, wind, nuclear, hydro, coal, oil, gas, hamsters in wheels, you name it. They are aiming to limit coal to about half of that target but they might have to go a bit higher (maybe 1250GW or so). If they go deeply into renewables they'll have to spend money on top of that for storage to provide reliable on-demand electricity to industry and consumers and storage costs quite a lot of money per GWh. They have lots of coal and it can be burnt quite cleanly with some effort, absent the CO2 emissions problem hence their intention to keep digging up coal and burning it for the next few decades.

235:

"Absent the CO2 emissions problem" is a lot like saying "other than being shot in the head".

Food security fails first. This is obvious to the meanest intelligence and you can watch it happening in the present. I don't think the PRC is planning on a couple more decades of coal.

236:

I disagree about the ability to take out a USA carrier group, because it would turn a slow decline into a sudden shock, and that often causes the organisations knocked off their pedestals to behave irrationally and excessively. Not a pretty thought with those currently in charge of nuclear weapons.

237:

Right. The various storage solutions work tolerably well for overnight but, in the UK, the requirement for a high-solar supply is for over winter :-( That is why people are seriously considering bloody great power lines from the Sahara to the UK ....

226: "Hmm. I wonder if the utilities have enough leverage to drag green belt land into use for solar?"

Already sparsely widespread, thankfully halted by the removal of the insane subsidies.

238:

"Absent the CO2 emissions problem" is a lot like saying "other than being shot in the head".

Yes. This is why I'm a big booster of nuclear power but the Big Money today is in renewables which will require a lot of construction, a lot of materials, a shitload of storage and buckets of money and even then they might not keep the lights on reliably. Gas producers LOVE renewables.

China needs electricity. It has a population nearly five times as large as the US and only a little bit more generating capacity than the US at the moment. They're burning coal more efficiently than they used to which has resulted in a slight drop in coal production and consumption but there's no intention to stop burning coal in gigatonne amounts any time this century. They do have vague plans to be generating about 300GW of CO2-free nuclear electricity by 2030 or so but coal will remain their main source of electricity for the next fifty years and more.

239:

I don't think they're willing to shoot themselves in the head. Another fifty years of coal is way into "strap block of C4 to head, detonate" territory.

240:

Another fifty years of coal is way into "strap block of C4 to head, detonate" territory.

And your point is? We (the global "we") should have stopped digging and extracting coal totally thirty years ago or more but we didn't. The C4 has been cranially applied and detonated already, long ago. The alternative to not burning coal for the PRC (3000 Mtonnes in 2016), the US (900 Mtonnes in 2016), Germany (170 Mtonnes in 2016) etc. is blackouts, deaths, civil unrest, riots and a whole lot of Bad Shit. CO2 is a slow frog-boiling problem compared to flash mobs burning everything in sight because there is no electricity when they want it.

241:

It would involve calling for a vote of no confidence in her own party, though; that would be fun.

But the wider point is the attitudes displayed by the non-Tories supporting the motion - all that gung-ho "yay we're going to beat the Tories" stuff, and barely any sign of recognition that she's called it now because it means a far better chance that they won't beat the Tories than waiting until 2020, nor that the near-certain result of an increased Tory majority will make any opposition they think to muster less effective.

We've also missed the opportunity to take the route that doesn't involve May calling for a vote of no confidence in herself - ie. junking the fixed term act, which was the one possibility for a beneficial side-effect. In general terms, I am opposed to any measure which tends to increase the time between elections, and consider the removal of the "...but probably no more than four" qualifier from the "definitely no more than five years" interval to have been a bad thing.

242:

I think the PRC is going for coal replacement with solar.

They're not part of the thalassocracy, they're certainly not part of the oil empire, they don't have an entrenched fossil carbon power block to anything like the same extent the anglosphere does, and it improves the hell out of their strategic position by improving their economic standing.

One of the things I haven't seen discussed is that Trump's statements about North Korea make perfect sense if you consider the possibility of a US nuclear first strike on North Korea's nuclear capability. Less than one SSBN and depressed trajectory shots would be plenty. It's also a way to make it much harder for the PRC to continue with such an economic plan. (Because at-least-regional chaos.)

Looks like someone talked Trump out of it.

243:

It would involve calling for a vote of no confidence in her own party, though; that would be fun.

A vote of no confidence by the Tories would very obviously be a "dash to the polls" tactical vote. Having the Labour Party and other opposition parties vote en masse to keep PM May in power would not be as clear a tactic to the general public and they would lose anyway as no-confidence requires a simple majority.

all that gung-ho "yay we're going to beat the Tories" stuff

What do you expect them to say? "We're doomed, DOOMED I tell ye!!!" doesn't play in the electoral hustings. Time to rally the troops and sauve qui peut.

244:

Mischievous question - positing climate change driving more unpredictable weather - does wind in particular become more useful?

245:

The Chinese are trying to cap the amount of coal plants in build and operation but they'll still be getting at least 25% of their power from coal in fifty years time (at the moment it's about 58%). They are building out a lot of new non-fossil capacity in hydro, wind and solar as well as nuclear but part of the end of expanding coal capacity is an increase in gas consumption which still adds CO2 to the atmosphere. They need lots more electricity to lift their rural areas out of poverty, a bit like the TVA in 1930s America and solar isn't even near to supplying that increasing demand.

One annoying thing is that I see figures for solar installs in China and elsewhere but they never specify what the actual duty cycle is going to be -- does "150GW" of solar mean 150GW of electricity produced annually or does it mean 25GWe per year at, say, a 15% duty cycle? We get a lot of that sort of obfuscation in British wind farm press releases (i.e. a "100MW" windfarm consisting of twenty 5MW turbines, average duty cycle about 30% = 30MW per annum).

246:

NO!! It increases both the possibility of a prolonged calm, and of periods when wind speeds are too high for even constant speed turbine heads to actually generate power.

248:

Until a century storm comes along every ten years or so and rips the turbines off their towers, yes.

249:

"What do you expect them to say?"

The Hansard link does show a few MPs being clearly aware of what she's up to. So, I guess the answer is I'd "expect" more than a few to be responding in such terms.

250:

Some people believed punishment inevitable, yes; if you look at it game theoretically it is - the UK has betrayed their partner in a Prisoner's Dilemma and the only rational course for a betrayed partner is to punish pour encourager les autres. Luckily for the UK, the EU doesn't seem to be looking at it as game theory (or thinks Brexit will be punishment enough).

251:

It is utterly pathetic that nobody has been arsed to design a wind generator that doesn't have to shut down when it gets too blowy for the poor little flower. I doubt I'm the only one for whom it ruins the credibility of wind power; they'll have to sort it out eventually, to deal with the objection you raise, and the sooner the better.

252:

The French presidential election isn't getting much coverage in the UK, but is shaping up to be extremely 'interesting'. The most likely result is either an inexperienced but independent centre-left or a tainted centre-right establishment president, but there is a chance of an extreme left (and that's by French, not British, measure) or extreme right one. I doubt that will have much effect on June 8th, but it's certainly possible if one of the latter two gets in - and I can't even begin to guess how!

253:

Er, the forces involved are quadratic in the peak wind speed. Designing something that will deliver useful power at at 2 m/s but is capable of surviving 60 m/s isn't exactly easy.

254:

"Does no-one else think this sums up a good reason to be suspicious of the EU?"

Yes, though there have been other reasons as well. (Namely the ringer they've put Greece through.)

255:

Now you can argue that its a fluke of timing and they should have waited another year or so to give the solar installers a cushion
Correct.
It should have been tapered-off, rather than cut sharp. ( IMHO )

256:

STILL missing ... sufficiently good battery &^/or other storage technology.
If that does show up, then solar is a real solution, even as far North as the UK.

Predictions as to the likelihood of this?

257:

Well, a constant speed head will feather the blades to keep the rotational speed constant across a range of wind speeds, but above its limiting speed, it has to declutch the generator to stop that over-speeding (I have seen photos of generator fires caused by failure of the clutch to release in high winds), and fully feather the blades to protect the hub bearing. Even so, when the wind speed gets high enough, the blades can just be stripped from the hub.

Nojay and Elderly Cynic have already discussed this from other angles.

258:

And it gets worse when economic gets involved. (Since you want to extract useful power at 2 m/s.)

This is one of the reasons I think ocean wind (trimming sails is an old technology) is a better bet than terrestrial.

259:

It's just a matter of money.

There probably isn't enough lithium, considering global storage requirements. But there's that Harvard team working on flow batteries, the Australian team working on flow batteries, Goodenough's (yes, really, that's his name) team's solid-electrolyte batteries, nickel-iron (old fashioned, but potentially cheap), nickel-cobalt (team with an interesting depositional electrode), sodium-sulfur battery chemistries, methane, ammonia, and other chemical synthesis, and who knows what else.

The problem is no one knows what to pick. A sensible government would be throwing a few billion pounds at the problem and going "right, that. We are going to see an immense lot of that made". Nobody with the money has, as yet. (Rather like fuel cell research is never methanol-air or ammonia-air, it's always something that won't work. The purpose of the system is what the system does, and the purpose of the system always includes keeping on being the system and if it starts by being the Oil Empire....)

260:

The Indy ( Not a normally tory-supporting paper )
May for a soft Brexit
Interesting

261:

it really does seem that "There's something in the water"

The other thing that might be "in the water" is that humans forget history very quickly. It's been seventy years since WWII. One generation is completely gone and a second generation is going, so being anti-fascist and anti-bombast isn't instinctive politics for anyone born after maybe... 1960?

For those of us born after 1960, some of us paid attention in our history classes and some of us didn't, with predictable results.

263:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/07/solar-power-growth-worldwide-us-china-uk-europe

The relevant parts are quoted below
"But despite the slowdown, the UK still led Europe for solar growth with 29% of new capacity, followed by Germany with 21% and France with 8.3%. Germany, which moved several years ago to subsidise and build a solar industry, still retains the crown for total solar capacity capacity, with Italy second top."

This is despite the fact that the subsidies were slashed by two-thirds. I can't find the article right now, but off the top of my head, the installed solar capacity in the UK for 2016 was 50 percent what it was in 2015.

264:

Well, yes, and the available power goes as the cube... Seems a shame to waste it, especially as high winds probably mean the heating load goes up. Since the usual design of wind turbine cannot furl, only feather, you still have to deal with the straight drag, and you still have to react what torque you can't feather out against something; better that that something should be a generator than a brake.

265:

But we're veering wildly off-topic here,

Agreed, and I'm half-sorry for bringing up the issue of weapons tech. (Everyone might note that what I originally wrote, and then erased, was something like "a horrific new weapons technology that's hard to invent but easy to duplicate," which is an entirely different issue than who currently has the cool weapons.)

The big point here is whether, aside from the strategic advantages of May calling an election, there is something important that she knows which we do not.

266:

Declutch the generator... or turn the field current up, or increase the ratio of the CV drive between it and the windmill...

Use a hub bearing which is up to the job... including, if necessary, passive measures to engage more bearing surface as load increases, to maintain minimum friction at low load while allowing higher maximum loads...

Use a different design of windmill, which can furl... most vertical-axis configurations have the possibility to be modified to allow the radius of the blades to be adjusted from fully extended to right up against the mast (plus additional advantages for maintenance accessibility, support and other things)...

That the configuration currently in widespread use suffers from a glaring deficiency does not mean that that deficiency has to be perpetuated in all future installations. We're not talking about selenium cells as the only possible source of solar power, or lead-acid batteries as the only possible storage; people have put the development effort in to make better alternatives. Similarly we do not have to remain indefinitely using the same basic configuration as Windy Miller and suffering the same disadvantages.

267:

On the other hand, it seems that those who do remember the war or at least its immediate aftermath are more likely to have voted against remaining in the EU than those who do not.

268:

I will answer multiple comments here so I don't spam

1. Storage
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-08/tesla-completes-hawaii-storage-project-that-sells-solar-at-night

Tesla recently made a storage project in Hawaii which sells for 13.9 cents per kWh. Note that this is on a lightly-populated tropical island. Estimates I've seen say that lithium-ion storage will reach grid parity in the US around 2020.

2. China's coal plans.
As usual, numbers help these discussions.
http://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/3/21/14988436/global-coal-boom-decline

Of China's 2020 goals:
Operating: 921 GW
Currently being build: 280 GW
On hold (likely cancelled): 441 GW

Here is my interpretation: China is still building coal plants, but they realize that they need less than projected. The on hold category consist of plants that were approved a few years ago, but now they've changed their mind. Perhaps they will continue to change their minds in the future?

269:

I wonder if one problem with wind generator design is that "Everyone knows what a windmill looks like" but has no preconceived idea of what a solar cell looks like.

270:

I missed that reply. I simply took it as a satire on leftwing politics everywhere, because the situation is similar in the U.S. (and probably other places.)

In the U.S. we get to blame an FBI program called Cointelpro which was designed (among other things) to make sure that leftwing groups fought with each other.

271:

I'm not a professional aeronautical, electrical or mechanical engineer. Since you say that those things are "easy to do" I'll believe you, IF you post your Engineering Council registration so we can verify it!

272:

No, I've missed that. It certainly would be interesting to watch them allocate blame if they walk it back. (We've recently gone through a similar excercise here in the U.S. with "repealing" the ACA.)

273:

That's actually one thing that I (again, neither British nor American) don't understand about Brexit. It's totally understandable that (a subset of) people in the US want to go back to the late 50s, when Ike was in the white house, everyone had a job and 2.2 children, the colored people and women knew their place, we hadn't had those nasty smelly hippies yet, and the US ruled the world militarily, economically and in every other way. It's much less understandable to me why anyone would want to go back to 1950s Britain, where you had rationing, nasty insurgencies in Malaya and elsewhere constantly humiliating the establishment (not to mention Suez) and generally things weren't really looking that great. No accident that huge numbers of English were fleeing for Australia/Canada/South Africa/Rhodesia/the US/NZ/anywhere else they could at that point. Or is the idea to go back to the 1850s? I doubt India can be re-conquered at this point!

274:

That three-blades-on-a-pivot design for windmills has had a shed load of work put into it, both empirical and theoretical.

It's not easy to make an efficient windmill; vertical axis windmills have many obvious virtues (the generator can be bolted to the ground, you don't have to have any more rotating mass than the windmill blades) but you run smack into the same problem that rotary wing aircraft have; you have to accept the drag involved in coming back around for another go. The blades have to move upwind half the time. There is no clever fix for this.

That common design uses proportionately very thin blades and faces the wind direction; the blades are aerodynamically driven all the time, and because they're proportionally thin and carefully designed create little turbulence (that is, drag, both for themselves and for the next windmill down in the wind farm). It's efficient. But because it's got to be mass efficient -- it takes more energy to move a proportionately heavier blade -- and economically efficient -- can't make them out of unobtanium or even expensivium -- you get this peak strength issue in storms. Which involves a bet about how bad the weather gets, how often and the expectation that the wind farm can afford to replace x-percentage of blades (and generators, and towers) per year. That's a very difficult bet because the weather's getting less predictable.

275:

Presumably some are aiming for 1947. And given there's a minority of brexiteers convinced Ireland will follow the UK out of the EU and join in their glorious whatever, there seems a fraction definitely aiming for before the 1920s...

276:

It's much less understandable to me why anyone would want to go back to 1950s Britain

I think they want to go back to no-later-than-1920s Britain. The last decade when the nobs were really in charge, the proles kinda-sorta knew their place, and Britannia Ruled The Waves.

It's a noxious fantasy of course, but it's part of a nation-building mythology, and myths are pernicious because they're so hard to debunk.

277:

There is a MUCH smaller relative difference between the power transmissable by a bicycle gearing system and an HGV one, than between 2 m/s and even 40 m/s wind. It's worth thinking about that.

278:

Personally, I think it's 1750 :-(

279:

I think that's definitely a big part of it.

My childhood was spent in Saskatchewan, where folk memory of the Great Depression was strong. The NDP government (socialist, started medicare in Canada, etc) ran a small but steady budget surplus until the generation that remembered going hungry and banks taking the family farm died out, at which point a Conservative government got in and prompt ran up the biggest deficit in the country.

Of course there was more to it than just that, but I've always believed that the lack of personal experience was a big factor how people voted to reverse a long-standing policy.

280:

As I said, I think that it's very implausible, but it's the most likely scenario for the Sovereign stepping in that I can think of. Can YOU think of a more likely one?

I actually agree with you, in the sense that the Crown and Crown Forces are not naturally revolutionaries - there is an extremely strong culture of staying well clear of politics.

However, they might be persuaded to be counter-revolutionaries, under the circumstances you described - because while HM Forces are apolitical, you would see a backlash if there was an attempt to abuse "Military Aid to the Civil Authority".

The example might be where your hypothetical thuggish government reacted to the refusal of the Police to carry out said thugs' political will (Arrest the heretics! Shoot the demonstrators!), by insisting that the Armed Forces carry out illegal acts against the UK population. At which point, I rather suspect that the route would be a legal one - the Crown would play its Joker, dismiss Parliament, and ask someone else to form a Government (even if they don't have a majority in the House) for the period between then and a General Election...

281:

Re: TMay's husband: senior exec of financial company being investigated for tax evasion

Thanks - that's what I was wondering.

So, TMay & DT may as well be clones. Just who in the UK likes DT - there should be some polls out comparing various G7 leaders by now. Given that TMay & DT are quite similar, it shouldn't be too difficult to point at his utter uselessness as an indicator of TMay's likely results and maybe get enough Brits to think really really hard about what kind of gov't they want. (Okay - I understand that TMay worked within the system, but so did DT by exploiting the weaknesses of GOP system/ethos.)

282:

Just to be clear, you mean "They" as in the ruling class.
Other "They"'s in use in this sort of conversation include older right wing people, who do want to take it back to the 1950's/ 1947, when you could still be racist and your inept son didn't have the competition for jobs from less inept foreigners.

283:

It's tempting to believe those ...
But I really think they want to go what they imagine is "forward" [ Note ]except it's a crypto-fascist "Forward" ( And a huge number STILL don't realise the fascist components, either )
Re. Pigeon: I was born in 1946, but I & a lot of people my age ar, actually remoaners, simply because we DO NOT WANT to go back to the period 1946 - 62.
( Apart from the steam rail traction, of course! )

Note] In as the idea that the EU is "yesterday's model" & that it is broken, whereas it just needs a little fixing. And is certainly less-worse than the alternatives.

284:

The other important point is that we twit brexiters about going back to the 1950's, but certainly most I have observed have no such definie ideals. It's simply about taking back sovereignty (as if all the other abrogations of sovereignty didn't exist) and making sure no more immigrants come to this country. The 1950's thing is more of a an anti-brexiter stereotype.

285:

Since wind speed increases with height, why not design a wind turbine that can be hoisted up and down depending on likely wind speed. (It's not like levers and pulleys haven't been used for 000s of years, y'know.)

I cannot get over how limited and tunnel-visioned the designs of such products are. Do these designers ever go outside to look at the environment their devices are supposed to operate in, or ever use the stuff they design?

286:

That three-blades-on-a-pivot design for windmills has had a shed load of work put into it, both empirical and theoretical.

Another factor is where the wind resources are. Look at maps for wind resources at 20 meters above ground level versus at 80 meters. Even if the turbine proper isn't increased in size, there's a large benefit from mounting it that much higher. Many of the alternate designs don't allow for that.

287:

> century storm comes along every ten years

We've had three century floods here in seventeen years, so you do have to wonder about those estimates.

288:

The estimates are historical.

The present is a departure from the historical.

289:

Oh, yes - if possible. But I am not joking about the government bringing in armed rentathugs - they already employ some really nasty unarmed ones, and give them near-immunity from the laws that constrain the police.

There were rumours that Thatcher enquired about calling in the army during the Miners' Strike, and was told that any such order would be refused. I do not know how she leant on the Chief Constables, who initially refused on the grounds that what she was ordering was illegal.

290:

Well, sure, but keep in mind that if the tip of the bottom blade is passing 20m above the ground and the tip of the top blade is passing 60m above the ground, the wind speed and thus the thrust experienced by the blade at those levels can be quite different. Still the same hub and gearbox, though.

This very much part of why windmill design is hard.

291:

A solid structure is much stronger than one with moving parts; that would increase the size and weight considerably. Plus, every complication is something that needs maintenance, and is likely to go wrong in a crisis.

292:

I am slightly younger, and fully agree. There were other positive things, too, but a huge number of more seriously negative ones.

293:

Sorry that comment deserves a PHB award.

The PHB's motto :

"Anything I Don't Understand Must Be Easy"

294:

Toss Zika into that mix. Apart from rampaging narcissism, DT also shows signs of ALZ.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/zika-alzheimers-effect-adults-symptoms-causes-what-happens-latest-study-a7198876.html

Excerpts:

'Experiments on adult mice engineered to mimic human Zika infection show that the virus seems to attack immature cells in the adult brain. Those same cells are vital to learning and memory – and so losing them could have disastrous effects, comparable to those experienced by people with Alzheimer’s.'

...

"It was very clear that the virus wasn't affecting the whole brain evenly, like people are seeing in the foetus. In the adult, it's only these two populations that are very specific to the stem cells that are affected by virus. These cells are special, and somehow very susceptible to the infection."'


295:

Dunno how it is in UK fandom, but most of US fandom uses Australian ballot a lot. It's even started getting some play in the mainstream media, calling it the "instant runnoff" ballot.

I can't say how frustrating it is, when I hear some idiot saying "I don't like this person, but the one I like will lose, and ->I don't want to waste my vote

"What a maroon" - B. Bunny

mark

296:

Re: "Anything I Don't Understand Must Be Easy"

PHB is hilarious - thanks for the link - even though you probably meant that as an insult. Agree and often admit that there are indeed very many things that I don't understand. (This is not the same as being unwilling or unable to understand.)

297:

Yes. In the US, until *maybe* the last year (thank you, Bernie), it was almost impossible to have an intelligent political argument, or even conversation, without extensively defining your terms.

And, from a US PoV, with the serious ramp-up of the right, leading to St. Ronnie of Raygun's election, the Dems kept giving in, and moving rightwards, abandoning their actual base.

Neoliberalism has been significantly bashed in other threads, but one point that I've realized only fairly recently, is that it is utterly uninterested in anyone without any college education. Their idea for industries going under, or moving, is reeducation... as if 95% of employers are even going to look at hiring someone > 40 who's just learned something new.

Hell, I started dying my mustache and beard, and some hair, in '04, because I was "between positions", and I mean, like, Everyone Knows that computers are only for Young People (who they can overwork and underpay), and I was So Old....

If they're willing to give you any support at all, they want you to work, or be looking for work... even when there's no jobs. The idea of the government being an employer of last resort has never entered their minds.

And robots and automation are going to make more and more jobs gone.

"Hard left" these days would consider someone like, I dunno, LBJ as "hard left" (he rammed through Civil Rights, Voting Rights, and Medicare).

mark

298:

More moving parts, more complexity, more specialized maintenance ... isn't this the way almost every product has evolved since the Industrial Revolution started? Size is another feature of major industry. So power/hydro dams and nuclear energy generation plants are typically massive but is that because they have to be that size to work effectively or are they that size because that keeps competition out? (Serious question because the other major post-IR trend has been miniaturization.)

This is not a complete derail because how the general population perceives energy providers is politically relevant (TMay, DT).

300:

So power/hydro dams and nuclear energy generation plants are typically massive but is that because they have to be that size to work effectively or are they that size because that keeps competition out?

There are efficiencies of scale, yes.

301:

I do find it odd how your reply is to a person who is so knowledgeable about some topics but totally clueless about others.

The three blades for a wind turbine thing was worked out over 80 years ago or so, more by accident and experiment than by empirical calculation. Basically more than 3 and they cause turbulence with each other, less than 3 and you aren't sweeping enough of the available air flow to be as efficient as you can be with 3.

Elderly Cynic #289- I have spoken to a man who was a Marine officer at the time of the miner's strike, having fought during the Falklands. He said how he had gone home on leave during the strike, and wandered over to see the picket lines, and then got near the police one. Whereupon an officer challenged him and asked for ID, so he produced his Marine card and was told "oh your lot are over there sir". Which turned out to be marines on leave making some extra money by dressing up as coppers as a manpower re-inforcement. I don't recall if the marines were actually fighting picketers, but it wouldn't surprise me.

302:

:-) A favorite, and real.
Another more generic one, about scientists vs normal people, can be helpful when trying to explain the scientific mindset to non-scientists. (And sometimes, failing.)
https://xkcd.com/242/

303:


That's perturbation theory. It works surprisingly well in many cases and, unsurprisingly, not so well in others.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perturbation_theory

304:

The one exception appears to be transport.
There were several electrically-powered systems that were, quite deliberately shut down during that period, all for short-term ( Maintenance / replacement costs ) "reasons" that were, by today's standards amazingly environmentally friendly in operation.
London had the world's largest Trolleybus system. As I remember, the original "Routemasters" were NOT an improvement.
Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow all had excellent tram systems - all scrapped.
( Never mind the amazing one in Colwyn Bay/LLandudno! )

305:

Oh dear
At least partially-true, because..
Breaking "The Problem" down into "simple" chunks & then solving & re-assembling is a standard Physics/Science module for problem-solving, that non-science people simply do not "get" at all.
Very funny, though, because it is (partially) true

306:

I came up with this image in another forum and I think it's worth repeating:

May seems likely to tell the UK that the hard Brexit will be a glorious victory for the mighty British Empire as her lieutenants bravely force their troops to charge the machine gun posts of EU bureaucracy waving their Union Jacks and wishing they’d been issued ammunition.

307:

Our electoral system is incredibly stupid, and I do not want media coverage allocated on the same basis. ... Percentage of the vote is much more reasonable, and that says that UKIP should get about 40% of the coverage that Labour get

I think that's a very odd thing to say. If the system is stupid preferences under it shouldn't matter full stop, you can't really dodge through "stupid, don't use" and end up at "use" with any shred of consistency. I don't have a good suggestion, but I will note that media attention and voting intention are linked, so the claim "no voting intention should result in no media attention" is not good (by "no vote" I mean below the margin of error).

Even in Australia, though, with our "number all boxes" system the minor parties generally struggle. It seems to take actual representation to get over 10% barring major upsets (although the fascist surge might prove me wrong) and we seem to only get real spreads of parties under proportional systems. I am more drawn to the Aotearoa local government system of preferential voting within multimember electorates as time goes by. Yes, it's complex to administer but it's still quite easy to vote. My reasoning is that it's much easier to hire highly skilled administrators than to find a highly skilled electorate.

308:

That is so wrong, on so many levels, that I don't know where to start.
( So I won't )

309:

"Apart from steam rail traction"

I'd actually like "some steam", but also some carefully selected older diesel, like Deltics, actually reliable Hymeks and HST sets.

310:

Yeah. And, as even a physicist should be able to understand, fails dismally when the important benefits or problems are properties of the system, rather than of the components - though many don't seem to. You need to know rather more mathematics to understand when and why incremental techniques (including perturbation theory) will work, and when it won't. Many physicists don't seem to - including some of the most eminent.

311:

The three blades for a wind turbine thing was worked out over 80 years ago or so, more by accident and experiment than by empirical calculation. Basically more than 3 and they cause turbulence with each other, less than 3 and you aren't sweeping enough of the available air flow to be as efficient as you can be with 3.

I presume wind generators work differently to airscrews in this respect then? After all, you see airscrews with as many as 8 blades these days.

312:

Not at all. Access to the English countryside (and preservation of important traditional ecologies) was another. And the general agreement that the country had to work together and compromise politically was a third, though the Brexiteers have no intent of going there. I am sure that I could think of others.

313:

I like it! Currently, the majority of the pundits assume that May will use a large majority to push a soft Brexit, but a few think that she will do the converse. I side with the latter :-(

314:

I presume wind generators work differently to airscrews in this respect then?

There is the slight difference that airscrews are mostly operating in an airstream moving at 100-300 knots, rather than 0-30 knots. Aside from that ...

315:

I side with the latter

Me too :-(

316:
The three blades for a wind turbine thing was worked out over 80 years ago or so, more by accident and experiment than by empirical calculation. Basically more than 3 and they cause turbulence with each other, less than 3 and you aren't sweeping enough of the available air flow to be as efficient as you can be with 3.

That's not quite right.

Look at this chart. Tip-speed ratio is the ratio of the blade tip speed to the airflow speed. As you can see, the main effect of number of blades is to move the optimum tip-speed ratio. If you want torque you use lots of blades; if you're feeding an electrical generator (which likes speeds in the thousands of rpm) then you go with as few as possible to reduce your gear ratio; gearboxes are currently the limiting factor. One- and two-bladed turbines have been tried, but the cycling loads (every time the blade passes in front of the tower) are awful for fatigue life - although some people think they've solved this. Hence: three blades.

Vertical-axis machines' main issue is also fatigue; they have enormous full-cycle bending loads on the base, which is a pretty hard problem to solve.

317:

THe pundits do like to second guess politicians, it's one of the things that keeps them in their jobs. The problem being, is there any evidence at all that May et al would do that? None that I have heard of.

318:

I presume wind generators work differently to airscrews in this respect then
It's always a tradeoff, and dependent on design requirements.

A major factor behind extra blades on an airscrew or submarine prop today is noise reduction. Modern airscrew design is able to get more out of each blade, which balances out the loss of making each blade smaller, the newer design generates less thrust overall, but a modern powerplant can compensate by making it rotate faster, though that makes it noisier.
There is also a large amount of calculation involved in blade shape depending on the operating environment - the Hercules for example originally used a square tipped blade optimised for heavy takeoff power generation, while the identically engined Orion used a round tipped blade optimised for cruising flight efficiency.
This is less of a consideration for wind turbine blades, as the inherent noise is balanced out by a massive increase in size and therefore reduction in rotation speed (though not tip speed), so you either optimise for efficiency in the transfer process, or optimise for power generation in the case of windmills that pump water around.

319:
I think that's a very odd thing to say. If the system is stupid preferences under it shouldn't matter full stop [...]

Not at all. It's still a rigorously-conducted poll with a sample of 66.4% of the entire electorate. It might not agree perfectly with opinion polling, but it's certainly not worth discounting out-of-hand.

Plus, likely sources of error (FPTP making minority party votes irrelevant / suppressing turnout, tactical voting) all seem to me to decrease the vote share by UKIP - so if anything they should be getting more media coverage.

320:

I presume wind generators work differently to airscrews in this respect then? After all, you see airscrews with as many as 8 blades these days.

Yep, because no-one tries to pretend that a 6MW (10,000HP), 40% efficient airscrew that works from 2m/s to 100m/s is plausible, let alone manufacturable. Quora has an interesting summary of some of the things that have been tried. There's a company in NZ that made 2 blade windmills with wooden blades (in the sense that you can make "carbon fibre" using cellulose sort of wood), and also tried 5 and 7 blade designs. Despite some pundits making silly noises, more blades may increase overall power output for that tower, but they create enough turbulence that power per square kilometre drops, but since a lot of the cost is the towers having more towers means the farm is more expensive... so Cringely's idea of lots of smaller towers with more blades means you have both higher costs *and* lower output. Ooops.

In terms of small, local generation the industry talks about micro generation which is home-sized, and mini or small as being 2-20 homes (give or take).

For microgeneration PV is the be-all and end-all, even in far north canukstan it is usually cheaper and more reliable than anything else including diesel generators. You have to get surprisingly close to the arctic circle before it stops being economic. I have commented elsewhere about the suitability of small wind turbines (they are big, noisy, and expensive to both install and maintain). Micro-hydro is very useful if you have us plausible combination of flow and head and I have greatly enjoyed it on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand (where a dry week might only see 20mm of rain, and a wet one 200mm). But PV... you put it up, plug in it,and clean the worst of the crud off it every now and then. Anything else starts to seem like a fools errand after a while.

On a small scale, wind works very well in many places just because at 50kW or so it starts to be worth building a bigger tower on a windy hilltop and running an extension cord out to it. There are community wind facilities in many places that do exactly this, and in some places they are in a micro grid (King Island in Australia, for example) with PV, batteries and generators to form a robust system. At that scale hydro can also work very well, and there are a decent number of small-to-middling hydro dams around the place. I'd almost count the 20MW dam I grew up near in that category, as it's on the line between "dam" and "lake" in size. This is also the scale where diesel piston engines are used, because a 100kW diesel is quite a manageable size for a truck mechanic to cope with. Much bigger and you need specialists (equipment *and* skills). Also at the large end of small, CSP starts to become attractive if you can use the heat for something. Or these days you can get 10MW and up CSP/steam thermal plants with storage if you want it. But you're still able to get PV with reasonably simple setups that a decent industrial electrician can deal with, including batteries. RedFlow do their "container full of batteries" at this scale, for example, which will work with just about any source of electricity, and you can do much the same with the PV - just build a pile of 10kW single phase arrays and feed them into your "mains bus" (it's probably too small to call it a microgrid) and stabilise that with a specialised box of tricks.

But I can't say this often enough: start with PV and if that doesn't work *then* look for something else.

321:

Argh. Despite preview, failed to notice unclosed <blockquote> tag. Admin, any chance of a fix? (please delete this comment either way)

322:

( & Elderly Cynic )
Why should this be so?
You already claimed May is a "tool of the bankers" or equivalent ... but the bankers & financial industries/activities generally are DEAD AGAINST Brexit.
London & large sections of the SE are pro-remain, which is May's "home territory"
Why should she suddenly switch around?
It's not consistent & neither are your viewpoints, actually.
Please show your reasoning, double-spaced, one side of the paper only (As they used to say )

323:

Cheers guys; I'll cheerfully agree that a 2 blade (or even a 3 blade) mini or micro generator can be "noisy" but in different ways IME.

The 2 blade makes a "thrrrrrmmmm" noise every time a blade passes a certain angle relative to the tower: I suspect this angle is affected by the blade angle of incidence.

The 3 blade intermittently and unpredictably makes a sound like a flapping sail on a sailing ship.

324:

As has been noted elsewhere, Theresa May's policies appear to be a 90% fit for the 2005 election manifesto of ... the British National Party, aka the Fascists.

In Charlie's world, if it goose-steps like a fascist and salutes like a fascist and says fascist things, then we must give due credence to the possibility that it is indeed a fascist.

Meanwhile, it's time to re-read Umberto Eco's fourteen signs of fascism and see how many fit. Theresa May as a figurehead doesn't personally match all of them, but the majority are all present among her followers and the news media that support them.

325:

While I can't speak for OGH, I can't find anywhere that either of us have even implied she is a tool of the bankers. Yes, some other people did, including your nemesis.

All her behaviour (and reports of her, personally) as Home Secretary was that she was an authoritarian control-freak, close to being both dictatorial and paranoid (in the lay sense). She has always loathed any external limits on her authority, the ECHJ (actually Churchill's legacy, nothing to do with even the EEC), and any civil rights that are not in her gift (and subject to her override).

She has also made it clear that she wants to eliminate all ecological and environmental rules - remember that the UK exports much of its atmospheric (and some marine) polution to mainland Europe, and there is an interlocking set of pro-pollution pressure groups which are highly influential.

Most of the media, especially the Dirty Digger's empire and the Wail, are viciously anti-EU, and she isn't going to want to antagonise them.

There's more, but that will do.

Her previous support for the EU was one speech, where she damned it with faint praise, because she was in a pro-EU government. I know of no evidence that she has any time for any aspect of the EU - which doesn't mean that she hasn't. She has also said that no deal is better than a bad deal, based on pure emotion. I am pretty certain that the EU will NOT accept her demands (and demands they will be), and her response will be to get more aggressive, rather than compromising.

326:

It's fairly obvious that May is holding this election because (a) her support is unlikely to get any higher from now through 2020, and (b) it'll increase her majority, which in turn (c) will allow her to ignore whichever barking fringe of the Tory party she chooses to ignore.

What's less obvious is what May really thinks. But, based on observation, I tend to the view that rather than being a highly intelligent statesperson playing dumb for tactical advantage, she's actually a very narrow Thatcher impersonator (only not as smart) and she means what she says.

The lesson of the past few years is, when someone tells you what they believe, you should probably believe them. QED.

327:

She has also made it clear that she wants to eliminate all ecological and environmental rules

Out of interest where did you see this? A quick google doesn't show it up?

Plenty of evidence for authoritarianism - which I think is the fundamental problem not the EU per se, just that she doesn't like anything which trumps her authority.

328:

Seen on Twitter - "She [May] is the last remaining Horcrux of Margaret Thatcher."

329:

You could be right that I have overstated but, reading between the lines, I think that it's clear. The UK has already got a huge discrepancy between what it has promised to do or is required to do, and what it is planning to do, let alone has done. Most of neglect and recent funding changes could be the legacy of whatsisname, but look who she appointed to head DEFRA.

I don't think that she is actively hostile to ecology and the environment, so much as she will happily sacrifice it if it helps her mission. And, with the pressures to attract 'investment' and encourage businesses, I think that's what we're going to see.

330:

I don't believe there's a cunning plan. I think what you see is exactly what you get. Which means that giving jobs to the Brexiteers (Johnson et al) was not about giving them rope, it was about getting the job done. No matter how laughable that might be.

What scares me is the third possibility. Tactical voting means we get a small majority with eve less of an opposition. Which then means that we get a Hard Brexit as she tries to juggle the power blocks. And the election turns out to be a complete waste of time because we end up exactly where we started.

331:
all that gung-ho "yay we're going to beat the Tories" stuff

What do you expect them to say? "We're doomed, DOOMED I tell ye!!!" doesn't play in the electoral hustings. Time to rally the troops and sauve qui peut.

When politicians come out with this kind of nonsense I can only think they are either dishonest or deluded - both reasons not to vote for them. Same with all the weaselly not answering questions.

332:

Johnson is not a Brexiteer - he took that line only to depose Cameron and become PM. He is an opportunist. If May loses, he might succeed this time, though I believe that he has been politically neutered. My money would be on Hammond versus Davis, on soft versus rabid Brexit platforms.

333:

When politicians come out with this kind of nonsense I can only think they are either dishonest or deluded - both reasons not to vote for them.

That's... sweet. You will only vote for a principled realist politician seeking election to government no matter how depressing and nihilistic their stated opinion of their chances are. I wonder why we never see any of that type actually elected to high office? After all why would you bother getting out of bed to go and vote for them if both they and you were certain they were going to lose? Why make the effort to help their campaign, donate to them, generally try and improve their chances? Why would they bother standing for office in the first place?

The politicians who actually get elected encourage their voters with unreasonable expectations. That's the way the world is, even if they are Forlorn Hopes. I'd certainly discount someone's statements about their chances of winning but I'd recognise them as a measure of their willingness to stand up and fight and an invitation for others to join with them.

334:

When politicians come out with this kind of nonsense I can only think they are either dishonest or deluded - both reasons not to vote for them

Nope, not at all.

It is a sad truth of life that probably a majority of the electorate vote along tribal or team-sport lines, rather than evaluating the actual political issues and voting for the party promising to come closest to their desired outcomes.

If you go into a football match admitting that the other side is going to cream you, (a) it demoralizes your players, and (b) it demoralizes your supporters. If you say the other side will probably win six weeks before the match, your fans won't bother turning up to the game. Or, in electoral terms: the tribal loyalists will pull the covers over their heads and not bother voting. So admitting weakness becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

335:

There's another problem with large wind turbine blades in that the swept disc gets larger and it's possible for the end regions of each blade out from the hub to be in radically different wind conditions i.e. the end of one of the "bottom" blades in a 120m diameter 5MW wind turbine can be in a 5/ms wind at 220 degrees and the same region of the "top" blade can be in a 10m/s wind at 180 degrees. This puts a large asymmetric load on the hub and blades both laterally as well as rotationally. In really bad wind conditions this can pull the rotor disc apart unless it is built seriously overstrength = extra mass on top of the tower, extra cost, extra inertial loads etc.

336:

In Australia, the Turnbull govt (!) has just announced a big investment in pumped hydro for energy storage, mostly using existing dams and hydro power stations in the Snowy mountains and Tasmania.

Some background: The modern Green movement in Oz got its start successfully protesting hydro dams on rivers in remote Tasmanian wilderness in the '80s. If greens hate dams, the climate change denying right is going to like them. It really is that petty.

Now, after the denialists spent the last the last few years ranting about the threat renewables pose to energy security, Turnbull has sold this project as an energy security thing, painting the right into a corner. I must grudgingly admit he's been very clever.

337:

Which turned out to be marines on leave making some extra money by dressing up as coppers as a manpower re-inforcement

This is something that occasionally crops up on the Army Rumour Service - soldiers being used in the Miners' Strike, dressed as police officers. It's generally regarded as being one of those urban myths; always "a friend told me that..." or "I knew a bloke who said..."; and uttered with the conviction of the true conspiracy theorists... (see also: British troops fighting in Vietnam)

The Police were using Military barracks as temporary accommodation; and had instruction from the Army in riot control (UK police don't spend much time in riot gear, and didn't have the broad skills or current instructors; a few incidents where they stood around and acted as brick magnets drove some change and investment in training, equipment, and facilities). But by all reputable sources, and a few disreputable ones, the Army wasn't directly involved.

So no, I'm unconvinced about any "soldiers reinforcing the police" stories. Police officers tend to get shirty about non-police "dressing up", for a start.

338:

You are missing another obvious reason for having an election now.

Currently (believe it or not) the economy is in a good state. That isn't going to hold so its better to go now when people are feeling generally well off rather than in 2-3 years time when things aren't going so good.

339:

Well that's the thing, if you'd like to come with me to visit the actual real person who told me this, I'm sure you could interrogate him to your satisfaction. History is easier to study when everyone involved is safely dead with most of their records shredded or burnt.
As for police officers, given that this was also the era of covering things up and stark incompetence in many areas, I am certain that a lot of police would have said "you know what, who cares if we have some navy types giving us some muscle in our uniforms".

340:

Of course, it's quite impossible that the Home Secretary had had them sworn in as special constables. He had that power, under the Police Act 1996. If so, they would almost certainly have been there on standby, to be called in by the regular police if the situation turned into a full-blown riot.

341:

I'd probably just ask him some clarifying statements for a bit more detail (as in "did this actually happen to you, as described, or are you retelling someone else's story?"). Then I'd clarify whether he actually observed said troops, in Police uniform, actually helping out on the front line - and not driving the buses / lorry with the riot stores / water bowser / minibus with the packed lunches.

I genuinely don't mean to be insulting, but unfortunately there are more people claiming to have (nudge nudge, wink wink) just helped out a bit here and there (looks all mysterious) but can't talk about it (hint hint)... than have ever actually done so [1]. So, when someone makes a claim like "HM Armed Forces personnel were disguised as policemen, contrary to the statements of all involved" I'm naturally suspicious of the story's provenance. He may well be retelling faithfully, while the Marines involved were winding him up.

[1] A quite well-regarded Professor at a local quite well-regarded university used to casually mention in public that he had been "Special Forces" (including in print, in the university magazine, which is what caught my eye); and would (allegedly) allude in private to tales of derring do. This came slightly unstuck when an actual former SF type enrolled on his course. It appears, AIUI, that the Professor had been an Army officer, and passed the All-Arms Commando Course (no mean feat), then worked in 3 Cdo Bde Logistic Regiment; but for whatever reason, felt that this wasn't quite impressive enough.

342:

I don't really see why the police and Home Office would need lots of ersatz police to do the job they faced, providing police cover for picket lines. They moved police from other areas in to the few pits and other locations where there was thought to be a need for a large police presence (Orgreave, for example) but most pits had a regular picket and a few police to cover them as aggro was not expected. I do know a lot of out-of-area police got a lot of overtime payments as did the local cops but there was no need for and a lot of downsides to having Marines (and why only Marines? All of them on leave at the same time in the same area?) dressed as police on the picket lines. It does make a good story though.

343:

Perhaps the low voter turnout is due to most people agreeing with my view and finding politicians a bunch of dishonest delusional slimy shits not worth bothering with? My criteria for voting are that a politician (a) says what they are going to do in clear language and not politics-speak and (b) do it without back-pedalling if elected. If the SNP can manage this why can't Labour?

344:

But politics should be a serious matter, not a game. I'm certainly not going to vote for someone who treats it like a game. Politicians should be very very dull and make arguments based on lengthy Powerpoints full of statistics. Angela Merkel seems like a good politician. The silly game type of politics is how the Merkins got Trump. Idiocracy.

345:

For the appalling failures of DEFRA see Private Eye ad nauseam.
Also, DEFRA's failing repeatedly get blamed on the "Horrible EU" as I have note elsewhere ( i.e not in these pages at all ).
I do agree that the one thing that worries me about May is her apparent authoritarianism...

346:

Interestingly, May has taken to repeating, recently, about politics NOT being a game, silly or otherwise.

347:

My biggest problem with politics in the UK is that the only really professional politicians appear to be in Scotland - Sturgeon, Salmond, Davidson, even Dugdale seem more on to it than most of the mob down south. I may not like their policies, but I can respect the players.

Corbyn is clearly of the old guard, although frankly anyone *that* hated by the mainstream media must be doing *something* right. The rest of the senior labour team are bloody useless, can't even infight properly. I have one of the new crop who shows promise but is too fresh to be properly corrupted yet, and not like they can do much anyway.

All the Tory leadership are identikit thieves out for themselves. May appears determined to do anything to get revenge on the EU for the Abu Qatada fiasco and take the country down with her.


UKIP are just a bunch of chancers trading in short term power for whatever they can get.

The Greens have occasional moments of sense, but outside of one or two electorates are perpetually doomed.

The Lib Dems will do anything to get into power, but have little idea what to do with it if they get any.

Where the hell do you turn? What happened to the sober sensible politicians who are boring and just keep everything running in the background?

348:

I have some time for Diane Abbott - not great, but a notch or two up from bloody useless. And then there's John McDonnell - not so much bloody useless as bloody disastrous.

349:

Right. A perfect match for Leadsom.

350:

I could explain why it's not as implausible as might appear, given what Thatcher and Scargill were up to, but won't bother; I neither believe it nor disbelieve it, as I have seen no convincing evidence either way.

351:
Interestingly, May has taken to repeating, recently, about politics NOT being a game, silly or otherwise.

Instead of endlessly parroting "Brexit means Brexit"? That's worth a grin.

352:

Today's Bagehot in the Economist is, from this fair remove, interesting:

Economist

353:

it's quite impossible that the Home Secretary had had them sworn in as special constables. He had that power, under the Police Act 1996.

Not in 1984-85, he didn't!

354:

But politics should be ...

Stop right there: you used the "S" word!

Here in the real world we have to work with what we've got, not what should be. You get points for idealism, but your side loses every time.

355:

A definite senior moment! I would have to search further to discover what powers he DID have :-)

356:

One way to look at the economy is that it's built on innovation nigh-entirely happening in the 1930s.[1] (Gas turbines, high performance ICE engines, microwaves, transistors, light metal refining, chemical synthesis...) Those innovations are played out; there isn't any more growth there. It's easily and obviously encapsulated in airliners; a new airliner is very expensive for some very marginal efficiency improvements and it takes as long as going from the DC-3 to the Boeing 707 did.

EVEN IF you have no concern for the climate, the problem is how to get off this local maximum and on to the next, which will hopefully be higher. The opportunity for further productivity gains is certainly over there somewhere, not on top of this metaphorical hill. It's very hard to get off a hilltop without going down for a bit. "Down for a bit" is a very difficult political sales job, and a willingness to take risks when things are bad is rare. But if you want to do something about the path dependency problems that keep people trying to make a better diesel when both growth and the climate assert that's a bad plan, you have to come down off that hill on purpose. And it helps a lot to have some idea where you are going. It really helps -- it's necessary -- to arrange things so money gets lost trying out alternatives.

[1] VLSI chips are more 1950s discoveries. They're the one thing that's post 1930s in this and thus the 90s boom. But that's pretty much done now, too.

357:

Graphene & its derivatives?
[ Note the first transistor was very late 1940's ]
Medical/Pharmaceutical progress - the latter seems to have started moving again recently, after 2 or 3 decades of stasis.

358:

Almost.
But, I'd take exception to:
Corbyn is clearly of the old guard, although frankly anyone *that* hated by the mainstream media must be doing *something* right though
Corbyn is stuck in either 1972 or, worse 1935 & really hasn't got a fucking clue.
He's so bad that I'm afraid that my local Labour MP whom I personally support may lose her seat, unlikely though that might seem ...
I'd also take exception to your take on Sturgeon, but that record is getting repetitive here .....

359:

Fiber-optic communications - that's 1970s (first working laser in 1960)
Programmable logic - that's 1980s.

And I'd suggest that credible VLSI is also 1980s. When I did my degree in the 1980s, we still had to buy coloured pencils to draw our stick diagrams for the digital design course ("Use this colour for the metal layer"). HDL was the hot new thing, and even into the 21C, any credible digital design team needed an A1 plotter to draw the layout.

The digital design engineers I worked alongside until 2015, didn't have a plotter to their name...

360:

Graphene belongs in the general category of meta-materials, things that don't have the physical properties you expect. (E.g., negative index of refraction.)

Any economy sits on food. People generally lose track of this because so few people are directly involved, but mess up the food and you get what's happening in the Eastern Med. (Dubya's idiot wars didn't help, but desiccation is a mightier thing than wars.)

So, right now, food comes from a chemical industry that's pushing global extinction and hopelessly fucking up the carbon and nitrogen soil cycles. That really ought to stop. It's heavily mechanized. (It's heavily mechanized in ways that allow IP issues to prevent the harvest; http://boingboing.net/2017/03/22/make-hay-while-the-sun-shines.html)

So the place I'd start is by decarbonizing agriculture. Take a lot of budget and say "I need you to demonstrate a crop in five years with zero fossil carbon inputs" and see what you get. Treat this as the existential threat it is; use war emergency powers to raise the war emergency taxes to pay for it. (re-arrange land use as required to benefit collective organization...)

Once you know what agriculture is going to run on, you have a pretty good idea what the trucks and trains will run on. They're next. (I suspect we'd see less steel and more aluminium but who knows? It's not like you can't electrolytically refine iron.)

If you've got spare money or spare labour or just a sense of urgency, housing can go along at the same time. What does a house look like when you can't light stuff on fire to heat it, and can't use fossil carbon materials? (plastics, tar, most adhesives....) Better figure that out. Better get building; that's going to create something that at least looks like growth.

The other goal -- aside from food security -- is the "smallest", meaning shortest supply chain, complete toolkit to do all these things necessary to food security. Once you've got that, it's plausible to spend a generation getting back to (for example) the current level of dentistry. Don't _want_ to go that far down but if you're eating OK it's an option.

361:

Medical/pharmaceutical progress has been continuous, at least for the past 70 years. It may have SEEMED stuck, but I can assure you that it wasn't. Major breakthroughs don't come to order, and simple things like proton-pump inhibitors have made an immense difference to many people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_and_development_of_proton_pump_inhibitors

362:

VLSI was an extrapolation of the integrated circuit - 1950s - THAT was the real game-changer!

363:

Lasers come from masers pretty continuously at Bell Labs which is 50s. (Pretty much the whole of the 1950s) And while VLSI didn't take off until the 80s the optical mask tech innovation it sits on is (at least IIRC) 50s as well, coming out of PCBs. (If you don't run it back to photoengraving in the 1800s somewhere.) Everything else in that cluster sits on the lasers because lasers turn out to be how you get the necessary purity of materials.

So just like I'm ok with sticking "gas turbines" in the 1930s, I'm OK with sticking "VLSI" in the 1950s, even though commercial jet travel is late 1950s. This is absolutely NOT the only plausible taxonomy. I do think it's obvious that this particular innovation cluster is effectively mined out.

364:

Apropos of the wind generator thread, on the way to the airport in St. Louis this morning, I saw a train loaded with wind generator blades. They were on 89' (27m) Flatbeds, which is the longest you can run on US railroads, and each blade rode on two of them, with a fairly complex rig allowing the clamp to move as the train moved, since the two flatbeds would be changing orientation to each other as the train travelled around curves. I suspect there's also a limit on how sharp a curve they could take. The blade itself was almost as long as the two cars, so about 165' (51m) long. Long train, as well, I saw at least 20 blades and didn't see the whole length, plus there were two more (empty) flatbeds at the tail. I'm guessing there was at least 1 more, just seems they'd ship them in groups of three.

365:

Take a lot of budget and say "I need you to demonstrate a crop in five years with zero fossil carbon inputs" and see what you get.

Chattel slavery and stoop labour, at a guess.

366:

The point I was clumsily trying to make is that "doping up some semiconductor" may well stretch back to the 1940s/50s, but without the software revolution, you're left hand-drawing and hand-checking masks.

It would be a bit of a hand-wave to suggest that some of the key leaps within software systems that allowed LSI to scale upwards is "just software, and that started in the 1940s" - e.g. high-level language parsers come out of the 60s; "GOTO considered harmful" is Dijkstra's work from 1968.

Look through the list of Turing Award winners, and see how many of the concepts are really "rooted in the 1950s" stuff...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_Award

I mean, ARPANET? The World-Wide Web? It would be a bit cheeky to say that WANs were recognisably laid down in the 1950s, although their parents may have been.

367:

That won't work.

(Graydon missed out the other, obvious, qualifier: "zero carbon inputs, and must produce the same output per hectare as carbon-fuelled agriculture.")

368:

Programming things like masks was 1970s, at the latest, and would have been done much earlier if the computers had been up to it. They weren't software leaps - that sort of use dated from the 1960s - the only change was computers big enough to do the job. Heck, 3-D printing was 1970s - I remember the racket of the foam cutters!

WANs (and LANs) date from the 1960s - I didn't use the former, but had colleagues that did, and I did use the latter.

369:

"It would be a bit cheeky to say that WANs were recognisably laid down in the 1950s"

Yeah. It'd be about 100 years too late, as a certain Mr Pratchett was aware... :)

370:

In that sense, considerably older - semaphore beacons date from 1792, and naval flag signalling from much earlier - make it automated WANs :-)

371:

As an aside, I remember when I was working as an engineer one of our group was an expert in LANs, of course called our Main LAN Man. One of the (Chinese) engineers on the team managed to convince a visiting marketing engineer that Main Lan Man was actually a Chinese name that had been bestowed on the (Quebecois) expert…

We managed to keep the joke going the whole day, somehow.

(That was back in the 80s, when China was still pretty closed and most laowai knew nothing about Chinese culture but Bruce Lee movies.)


And there's an amusing book The Victorian Internet about the social effects of telegraphs (and how a lot of the concerns mirrored those we saw raised about the public internet).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Victorian_Internet

The central idea of the book posits that of these two technologies, it was the telegraph that was the more significant, since the ability to communicate globally at all in real-time was a qualitative shift, while the change brought on by the modern Internet was merely a quantitative shift according to Standage.


On Graydon's subject of advances, the reason Perimeter Institute was founded was because Mike Lazaridis believed that in order for technology to keep advancing we needed to keep doing fundamental research (and he was seeing that more-and-more government support was only going to applied research with fairly immediate payoffs). It's been a while since I was at the conference there and my memory is fuzzy, but they see their mission as supporting fundamental breakthroughs that may lead to the next transistor (in terms of opening possibilities).

So if we're looking at a (non-apocalyptic) future a hundred years out, maybe we should assume one big breakthrough? Quantum computing? Something more esoteric? (Not a physicist, so I don't know where the current theoretical frontiers are, at more than the pop-sci level anyway.)

372:

Even if we want to insist on electrons, the telegraph signalling system of the Army of the Potomac looks a lot like a WAN. (for a certain value of "wide", anyway.) Go into camp, roll out the wires, and the corps commanders and headquarters start chatting away.

374:

Graydon's brain decided a context of food security rather implied that bit, and didn't bother to flag it as an assumption. (Lo! the utility of review!)

The real spec is tricky; you don't want to insist on equivalent area (because maybe we're trading area for reliability or yield (eg., let's get around the salt problem with chinampas), we don't want to insist on lower energy or labour inputs (because we're optimizing reliability (so maybe we need grow lights and we use the waste heat for the apartment block over the multi-level greenhouse) (or maybe we're doing reduced-area gardening under glass, and need more labour)), and we certainly don't want to insist on nutritional equivalence. Someone somewhere must have a developmental and activity nutrition standard ("what kind of diet involves the most healthy adults starting from before mom gets pregnant?") which is certainly more complex than calories/day. (Or "more carrots".) It would be a challenging specification writing exercise and involve several specialties I don't have.

Doing it for real would involve changing the depiction of successful eating in media, too.

375:

This gets into taxonomy, and it's way outside my understanding, but so far as I recall being told back in the 1980s, none of the math was new. A lot of the math was being repurposed, but the actual underpinnings was no later than Turing in the 1940s. It was figuring out how to go from the match to "we can build that" which was hard.

376:

The WWII ration system in the UK would make a good starting point. A lot of people ate better when that was in force than they had done before. Dull, particularly by modern standards, but nutritionally adequate.

377:

I popping in to mention that we are also living in the Rule 34 verse:

Some guy bought put options against the soccer Club Borussia Dortmund (BVB).
Then built and planted bombs where the bus with their players passed, apparantly hoping to injure or kill many of the players - luckily the bomb went off to high and most shrapnel missed the bus. Still injuries.

The he hoped for the stock price of BVB to plummet and sell his put options.

He also faked an ISI claim to the deed and a left wing one. The first's authenticity was doubted by many rather quickly, the second was totally obviously fake.

Guy was caught because in buying the options, he apparantly triggered some banks watchdogs and anti money laundering tripwires.

Two questions:
Is this the first similar attack? (Buying put options or otherwise betting on falling stocks, then sabotaging)
What do the cryptocurrency folks make of this?

378:

The WWII ration system in the UK would make a good starting point. A lot of people ate better when that was in force than they had done before.

And healthier than they did after, according to my mother, who's 1950s university degree was in Home Economics.

379:

Or, indeed, the railway telegraph network and its use for synchronising towns around Britain to GMT ("Railway time") - long before NTP...

As even more of a digression (but we are well over 300), you remind me that Tolkien was a signals officer in WW1, and it is quite probably significant that early WW1 field telephones and the palantir network have much the same security vulnerabilities.

380:

It's the first obvious crime of its kind (as in, the perp was caught more or less red-handed), but it may not be the first ever; by definition, if earlier incidents had succeeded, we wouldn't have heard about it.

Also, there's a long and dishonourable tradition of life insurance fraud involving murder, e.g. UA 629 in 1955. Not too different in terms of structuring.

381:

What are the prime carbon inputs into agriculture?

At a guess, I'd say fertilizer first and machinery distant second.

The global combined Haber Bosch plants are said to consume 1% of the worlds energy budget OR 1% in the form of natural gas plus 2% electricity for the turbocompressors. I find it hard to see how all the tractors and combine harvesters should amount to more than 1-3 % of the worlds energy budget, but maybe I'm wrong.

I make the heretic guess, that at a glance, much agricutlure of the future will not look radically different. Still large fields plowed by tractors. Only the tractors will be battery powered (Jphn Deere announced one this winter). Bigger part of fertilizer will be reclaimed from wastewater (Even with the recent move EU wide to ban sewage sludge application MAP (Struvite) for example can be reclaimed from wastewater or sewage sludge. Just not for free ...). My guess is that the Haber Bosch plants will continue to run on natural gas for a while even if we try seriously to get off carbon, and then we'll replace the natural gas with renewably generated methane (biogas or something synthetic) to save the capitel investment in the plants.

There's also lots of more or less organic farming tat, at a glance, you won't tell apart from conventional agriculture - heavily mechanized, fertilizer input (in the form of manure) but with crop rotations and green fertilizaation to keep some semblance of soil health.

I think the challenge will be come up with farming that handles unpredictable weather reasonably well (which probably means to mix different strains of one plant each year, hoping that one does well) and that still works well with machinery. The last time I looked at agricutlural trade press (a few years back) there were trials to harvest different combinations of corn, squash, sunflower and bean with common harvesters.

What I see as likely new strain in agriculture is large raceway algal ponds + insect farms. There were also experiences with duckweed ponds, using wastewater as fertilizer and then using the duckweed as the protein rich part of chicken feed.

What I somehow do not believe in is greenhouses with electrical lighting for the plants as supply of significant calories.

p.s. A while back I looked ata few of those studies comparing crop yield of conventional and organic farming. While organic farming does quite well at the field and growing season level, there where no multi year, farm level studies that I could find. This is significant because of fertilizer use - organic famring can't use fossile based fertilizer, so they stick with manure and green fertilization (leguminoses), putting a great limit on yield.

382:

You are correct, but even Turing's mathematical work was irrelevant to the delivery of computing! The essential mathematics dates from the 18th century, with 19th as the hardware became more advanced. Turing's work etc. was critical to the understanding of the limits of what can be done, but not to actually doing it. That was pure technology.

383:

Fertilizer is required as an input in large part because the farming practices promote damaging runoff. There are several maize farmers who decided (for obviously personal reasons) they weren't dealing with fertilizer companies some time ago -- in one case back in the 1970s -- and they've managed to demonstrate comparable yields.

The only things current practice optimizes are input company profits (seed, fertilizer, etc.) and labour inputs. There's a lot of room for methodological improvement. (Remember that farmers have no power; farm productivity has roughly tripled since 1950. Real farm income is kinda flat. They're not in much of a position to change anything themselves.)

I expect we won't see very much under grow lights for its whole life cycle (though if that's the only way to get cinnamon it might well happen that way) but I expect early starting will be very important.

Phosphates look likely to plain old run out, and that will be important.

384:

For every kg of plant based protein, you need 1/15 kg of nitrogen. That has to come from somewhere, hence fertilizers. Your maize farmers will have some fertilizer input (manure?), you don't get the nitrogen amounts high yield maize needs (up 160 kg/ha) with green fertilization (IIRC, beans fix at most 40kg/ha and growing season in the ground).

As for runoff, this can be prevented with some good practices (limiting total fertilizer amount, not spreading on frozen ground and doubtless many others). How well all of this can work ultimatley, I don't know. Most EU member states manage to keep nitrate out of their freshwater reserves, northwestern Germany (heavy agriculture, lots of cattle production => lots of manure) doesnt. Does this mean that intense agriculture will always pollute, or do 'our' famres simply ignore the best practices? I don't know.

My guess is that with little or no bylaws regarding fertilizer use and compartively cheap fertilizer, many farmers will apply rather too much.

Any feeding installation will have manure and manure is

Which country are you talking about, do you know if there are any laws re. fertilizer application? Anything else to enforce good practicves as mentioned above?

I've never worked in agriculture, but I did work in biogas and had collegues who were active farmers. Discussions about fertilizer, how much area does a farmer need to dispose of manure or biogas slurry etc. came up often. And maybe my farmer-coworkers painted a more positive picture of their profession than is actually justified ...

You mention phosphate and I agree that this will be a huge issue.

385:

YUCK!
I can remember rationing ... the food variety was ... non-existent.
And "Margarine" - euw.

386:

It really shouldn't be; there's a huge amount of it: 300 billion tons according to http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/phosphate_rock/mcs-2012-phosp.pdf

In terms of crustal abundance, it's about 0.1%; compare 0.18% for carbon. There's enough of it there, we just have to get hold of it somehow or other. I suspect an important tool will be the clue hammer, applied with vigour to the heads of those who fail to realise that food is more important than money. (See also comments upthread about food supplies being dependent on a functioning credit system, which is only less insane than not seeing that as a problem.)

387:

Buying put options or otherwise betting on falling stocks, then sabotaging
Don't recall any stories about physical sabotage (long ago decided to actively avoid active involvement in the markets; too many temptations among other reasons), but manipulation is a feature of the markets, and since many players are psychopaths and sabotage is an obvious thought, I'm sure there have been incidences of physical sabotage (fire insurance fraud is a thing, for a similar example). (Repeat; no claim of expertise.)
The Short and Distort: Stock Manipulation in a Bear Market
S&D players clutter message boards, so optimistic information cannot easily be found. "Get out before it all comes crashing down" and "Investors who wish to enter a class action lawsuit can contact…" are typical posts, as are their projections of $0 stock prices and 100% losses. If their strategy is suspected by "longs", they attack the person who has caught them. In other words, the market manipulator will do everything in his or her power to keep buyers out of the stock and keep the price heading south.

388:

The particular maize farmers I'm recalling are in US states starting with I -- Iowa and Indiana, I think.

The thing about runoff is that it strips soil; it's not primarily a problem of runoff adding nitrates downstream (which is a problem, just nothing like the worst problem), the problem is that soil isn't "these minerals", soil is "this ecology". The modern practice destroys soil depth; you get a top five centimetres that's on life support and that's it.

Nitrogen fixing happens due to bacteria in the soil; legumes have a symbiotic relationship with those bacteria but they have to be there in the soil, they're not present in the bean seed. So soil health matters, and the heuristic for soil health is depth. There are practices which lead to deeper soil. (and darker soil, and so on.) Actual soil ecology is a black art; we can't culture most of the bacteria and can't study them. Plus it's not all bacteria; fungi matter, element availability matters, moisture and temperature matter, the amount of carbon affects the temperature and usually the water retention and it's a bit like "oh, we've cracked the genetic code!"; sixty five years after Rosalind Franklin found the structure we're in this ever-expanding fractal haze. Heaving nitrogen on top isn't actually required if the soil is healthy. The idea that sufficient yield is only possible with heavy additions of nitrate fertilizers is not universally accepted. So there's a huge unexplored space where the soil is treated as the primary crop and the food crops are extractive side effects. It doesn't get anything like enough research funding.

389:

Ok, march for science time.

Feels kinda like when I got to Australia and discovered that they had an anti-nuclear movement... "oooo kaaay, do you have one against slavery too? What about for women being allowed to vote?". Do we really have to protest to remind politicians that not every law is subject to revision by parliament? Cthulu take me, I am just waiting for someone to legislatively adjust the law of gravity (who's pushing that British spaceport? Them?).

In this case "reality - it's real, man". I was really tempted to put that on a sign but I suspect not everyone would take it in good humour. So I've gone with "I (heart) experts".

390:

The Conversation had an article on the unregulated "crop probiotics" stuff that is starting to appear that is somewhat relevant. The human side I follow somewhat in the hope that I can fix various food sensitivities that I have developed over the years. But for crops... my only experience is that buying in soil from elsewhere is a very risky thing for farmers to do. At the superficial level you get a new set of weed seeds, but longer term we ended up with a couple of dead spots in the orchard where even the grass didn't grow very well. We were never quite sure why. But the land we bought came with some big piles of soil that had been there for a while, and they were in the way...

391:

Area is area; if you want your overall fertile soil area to increase, you have to increase it where it is. It'd be going too far to say this is well understood, but there's a lot of successful empiricisms. What won't work is moving dirt around[1], or relying on the compost of more organic material than the plot of land produces; that decreases fertile area, which is not what's wanted.

The human side is complicated, and we can known more about it. (Short human version -- consume live-culture fermented food. Your innards are pretty good at picking what you need. Mechanism totally up in the air right now. Soil version -- we have no idea what's in there. We're guessing about what happens based on what we think these plants need. We can measure how dark the dirt is and how fluffy it gets how far down...)

[1] there are some indications you can transplant a soil culture to a bunch of nutrients/rock flour/etc. and expand the supply of dirt but that's not really well understood, either. "start with lichens" is very slow, and seems to be what happens naturally.

392:

..The methane is used as a cheap source for hydrogen. Decarbonizing ammonia production does not require a clean source of methane, it just needs a clean source of electricity, because the hydrogen can be gotten from electrolysis just as easily. This was, in fact, the way the first industrial ammonia plant worked, and how many still do. Ammonia production keeps being brought up by fossil fuel doomers but it is far and away the easiest aspect of modern agriculture to move to a non-carbon basis: Inputs: Hydrogen, atmospheric nitrogen, heat, pressure. Hydrogen means seawater and electricity. (and the water reforms when the ammonia is used in the biosphere or run through a fuel cell) So, basically, this is never, ever going to be a problem.

393:

This is also why it is so very attractive as a fuel - No limits on how much can be produced, no footprint on the biosphere at all because the cycle starts with nigh-limitless resources and the end point returns all the component atoms whence they came.

394:

And there's a readily available source everywhere there are humans: excrement. Unlike nitrogen and potassium, phosphorous is very stable in the soil and is almost all preserved in its passage through animals and composting.

395:

This is mainly for for Dave_the_proc (unless I have had another senior moment and got him confused with someone else!) Have YOU a clue what is likely to happen in Norn Iron in 2017/2018? Other than "nothing good", of course :-( I have my suspicions what Sinn Fein are up to, and think that it might work this time. If I am right, the current Scottish Question will be overtaken by an even nastier one, though I doubt that its full ramifications will appear before 2019.

396:

Because this is a political thread, and we all need a giggle right now ...

Some of you might have noticed that in addition to Theresa May calling a general election, the Scottish council elections are currently in the campaign stage (voting in mid-May).

Here are the views of one particular candidate in Scotland, at council level. (Let me add: UKIP typically get 2-4% of the vote in Scotland.)

Save the dolphins! Abolish free bus passes for pensioners! Mandatory dressage lessons in schools! Bring back the guillotine!

397:

So nice to hear the first cuckoo of summer - I think that it's going to be a good year for them.

398:

WOW! I thought you were exaggerating for comic effect.

399:

My understanding is that it is dangerous to use human excrement as fertilizer. Crops grown in such a way need to be thoroughly boiled before they can be eaten, which tends to limit the menu to various sorts of gruel.

400:

By the way for people that love to say things like "polls have been wrong a lot lately" - please stop that. Commentators misinterpreting poll have been wrong lately. All the supposed "wrong polls" results have been within the margin of error from the predicted result. If the poll says that Brexit vote will be 48%+-4% and it comes out being 50.5%, then the poll is correct, while commentators that used this poll to claim that Brexit vote will fail were in the wrong. US polls said that Clinton will win the popular vote by 0-4% and she actually did exactly that - she won it by 2%. State-by-state polls and individual UK districts have lower polling quality and thus much higher margin of error (up to +-10% sometimes). Polling has been way more accurate than people give it credit to.

401:

There are reasons not to use UNTREATED human excrement as fertiliser, yes, but the methods of treatment to make it safe have been known and used for a very long time. Including in the UK :-) If we didn't put so many toxins into our sewage system, it would be a lot easier and safer to use.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/aug/29/waste.recycling

402:

Short-radius nutrient cycles are just begging for parasites, yes. Which is why you need good treatment rather than just dumping the honey wagon on the field.

Problem with current sewage systems is that they mix everything that goes down the drain together. If we had a separate pipe for human excrement (esp. without TP) it would be a lot easier to get the nutrients back. As it is you have useful stuff (excrement) mixed with a lot of stuff you don't want (soaps, detergents, industrial crap…)

403:

Fermented human sewage sludge has been used as a fertiliser in the UK for a long time although paradoxically it can't be used on organic farms.
Pathogens are destroyed by the treatment process with the possible exception of the eggs of the beef tapeworm which is not common and much less serious than the pork tapeworm.
Sewage sludge can also contain toxic metals. There have been experiments using sewage sludge as animal feed but these required removal of toxic metals.


http://sustainablefoodtrust.org/articles/human-manure-closing-the-nutrient-loop/


https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sewage-sludge-on-farmland-code-of-practice/sewage-sludge-on-farmland-code-of-practice

404:

As in taking ruminants that had been condemned as unfit for human consumption, and turning them into feedstock for ruminants? Nah. Nobody could be that stupid ....

405:

To hark back to an earlier digression, the telegraph section of http://www.ajhw.co.uk/books/book146/book146.html is interesting concerning the Victorian internet. Rerouting around faults, overhastily-reported inaccurate news, community internet, flame wars, electronic payment, standards conflicts, enthusiasm for vs. prohibition of encryption... it's all there.

406:

Wow. Just wow.

At least she wants to save the whales, and I don't have any major objections to children learning to work with animals (though I suspect that Gisela is looking make sure the supply of grooms and footmen isn't interrupted.) I'm sure that if she gave up the racism, sexism, and fascism she'd be a pretty good councilperson. On the other hand, what would be left of her?

407:

On a more general level, why does anyone in the U.K. imagine that the glories of the 1920s are coming back? This would require an empire, and I hate to think about what would happen if a British Regiment tried to go ashore in New Delhi and retake India. I suspect the Indian P.M. would nuke you guys (not a lot, just a little) merely to make the point that they aren't a colony anymore!

I've read a little Kenyan History, and when I think about how much trouble was caused by the Mau Mau "Generals" (who had probably been sergeants for colonial troops in WWII) the idea of how badly it would hurt to take back an empire just astonishes me.

I'd go on a major rant about "what's wrong with you people" and so on, but I have to remember that plenty of people in the U.S. are convinced that we'd be better off if the 1820s came back!

I do have a solution for the UKIP problem, however. I think the U.K. should restart (or enlarge, if it still exists) the Colonial Office. And you should give them their own army, staffed exclusively with the people who believe that there should be a new British Empire. And then you should arm them all with Lee-Enfields, that great weapon of the colonial wars, and send them to retake Singapore and the Malay peninsula, or maybe Pakistan.

408:

Sounds interesting - would appreciate a link to a 101-level (semi-technical) discussion of this.

409:

Re: 'State-by-state polls and individual UK districts have lower polling quality and thus much higher margin of error (up to +-10% sometimes).'

Agree somewhat.

However --- when it is known (legislated) that it is only the state-by-state (Electoral College) that actually votes in the POTUS, continuing to use and report on a methodology that only uses/reports on total votes cast regardless of state with concomitant too-small sample sizes with known unacceptably high built-in errors of +/- 10% is not only stupid, it's irresponsible.

410:

I knew someone once with a composting toilet. Unfortunately, she lived in the desert near Death Valley, so I'm not sure how she gardened, but I love the idea and would own one in a second if I didn't rent.

411:

The Lee-Enfield was a bloody good rifle. More fun to give them the old minié-type Enfield whose ammunition lit off the Indian Mutiny - muzzle-loading, and you more or less had to stand up to load it just to make things even more entertaining.

412:

Was that the one where the ammunition had to be lubricated and the rumor went around that the lubricant was made from pig-fat (which of course is non-Halal.)

And being a good rifle doesn't mean they're a good military rifle; the Lee-Enfield was useful in WWI, but "insufficiently modern" well before WWII.

413:

Re: 'Sewage sludge can also contain toxic metals.'

As well as a slew of Rx and non-Rx drugs. No idea which is easier to extract - metals or drugs. You'd probably need multiple filters, i.e., one filter per type of contaminant just like Mother Nature uses. Below is a 2013 article, so still pretty recent.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/drugs-contaminate-lake-michigan/

Referenced article:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653513010412

'Highlights

•Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) were monitored in Lake Michigan.
•Fifty-four PPCPs were assessed in surface water and sediment on six dates.
•Many PPCPs, such as metformin, were detected 3.2 km away from the shore.
•Hydrophobic compounds were detected in sediment at concentrations up to 510 ng g−1.
•Using a risk quotient, the ecosystem risk was found to be high for many PPCPs.'

Could be a market for 'prime waste' just like in the olden days: guaranteed drug and additive free.

Read some time ago that various trees are especially good at taking out certain toxic metals. Noticed in BBC Farm docs that the UK countryside while picturesque has little in the way of forests. May be time for the UK gov't to encourage strategic tree-planting. The page below shows some positive results on both metal and chemical removal from soil using trees/plantings.

https://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/infd-5wqcqy


About human poop as fertilizer ...

From what I've seen on BBC Farm docs, human waste was usually applied only to the field where the cultivated crop was way above ground, therefore not contaminated by human excrement. That was year 1. Year 2, you could safely plant root veggies in that soil provided you did not add any more human waste. Basically, a synchronized rotation of field, plants and fertilizer.


Human poop as soil ...

Perfect for some mushroom and insect farming. More importantly, this can be used as the first purification stage for soil (freshly replenished with nutrients) that will later be moved onto veg and cereal fields.

http://discovermagazine.com/2013/julyaug/13-mushrooms-clean-up-oil-spills-nuclear-meltdowns-and-human-health

414:

That's the one. And the alternative version of the rumour was that it was beef fat, so the Hindus were severely dischuffed as well.

Alternate history idea: someone counters with a third rumour that it's mutton fat, and arranges for the occasional wisp of wool to turn up in the ammo by way of "confirmation". Mutiny doesn't happen, consequent reform of British rule in India doesn't happen either, unrelieved tension gives rise to much more severe insurrection a few years down the line, Russia steps in...

415:

Since we're past 300, I had an idea for a T-Shirt, (since we're also discussing the far-right.) Looks something like this, with the text centered:

Homo Sapien
Neanderthal
Homo Habilus
"Florida Man"

416:

The UK does do strategic tree planting, though it's not the same as you propose; we have large tracts of fast-growing softwood monoculture in mountainous regions which aren't any good for growing anything else except sheep. They are somewhat eerie places: dim and gloomy, shaded by the lushness of the canopy high overhead, but barren and dead at ground level; unnaturally silent, with no birdsong, all sound deadened by the thick carpet of fallen needles, even your own footsteps are suppressed. Nearly nothing lives in them and I believe there are also problems with their effect on the soil, though I'm not sure what.

We used to have deciduous forests but they mostly got cut down for construction material and fuel; the popular account is that it was Henry VIII chopping them all to build his navy, though that isn't terribly accurate. Charcoal production for iron smelting was a pretty big one, and the main limiting factor in iron production until Abraham Darby started digging up his reducing agent instead. They didn't get to grow back because the cleared land was too useful for agriculture and other things. With the much larger population these days, that point is many times more significant. Which is a shame. I'd far rather see a tract of land planted with trees than used for yet another "business park" or out-of-town shopping centre or other type of breadheaded concrete desert.

417:

About 20 years out of date, I'm glad to say if not 30.
The "Conifer Monocultures" are largely gone I'm glad to say & both parts of guvmint & private groups, like The Woodland Trust - I'm a member - are all doing good work.

418:

Read some time ago that various trees are especially good at taking out certain toxic metals.

The City of Toronto cut a bunch of cottonwoods/poplars awhile back that had grown on former industrial land now up for redevelopment, and then had to go to some trouble to explain to people who were a)upset that any trees were being cut and b)different people upset the wood was not available for firewood.

b) was relatively easy; you can demonstrate that the wood burns green, and point out that this is not something where breathing the smoke is a good plan.

a) was more difficult, but was eventually explainable as "we have removed the bio-circulating[1] heavy metals from the environment because we've found someone who will process the wood at a reasonable price".

[1] there's some really dire stuff down there under clay caps and no one wants to poke it.

419:

It doesn't matter, the last mass E.coli(?) Broccoli(?) outbreak in the US was traced to fecal contamination from the field workers in the California Central Valley.

Walmart was recently touting a new, computerized system development (not implemented, just a plan) to track crops by batch/field. Duh, why not just make SURE the damn farmers/contractors provide porta potties and adequate breaks to use them? Nah, that's not anything you can get a $bonus from.

420:

Re British invasion to "Repossess" India.

Nah, more like Bismarck's apocryphal response to the prospect of a British invasion; "Send the Police to Arrest Them".

421:

Makes sense to safely burn the trees once they became the 'reservoirs' of the toxic minerals.

There may be a commercial business in this: Cut down/pick up trees that have especially high concentrations of some rarer elements and bring to specialized facilities where they are burned (using themselves as fuel) and their elements purified/segregated and ultimately resold (recycled) into industry once again. (The commercial angle is necessary to legitimize such a practice to the large segment that's anti-ecology.)

Was aware that ash borers reached Toronto and that the best way to get rid of this pest is to burn affected trees. Have had to cut down a few different infected trees in my own backyard as new pests show up.

422:

Hate to tell you this but
Bring back the guillotine!
Was entirely correct.
In Scotland it was called The Maiden
And was much-used
At least one Argyll/Campbell was got rid of, using the Maiden, in 1661, IIRC.

423:

I've never seen anyone imagining that the 1920's are coming back. Brexiters are often stupid and/ or mad, but the 1920's aren't reasons given for voting that way. Rather it's about nebulous concerns of sovereignty, thinly or undisguised xenophobia with no ideal date attached, or hatred of red tape after reading 30 years of lies about the EU. In the case of farmers a letter I saw said basically that they didn't like the CAP and it's paperwork and they could survive without it.

424:

And being a good rifle doesn't mean they're a good military rifle; the Lee-Enfield was useful in WWI, but "insufficiently modern" well before WWII.

Compared to what? It was robust, accurate, and better than its peer group in 1939; and AIUI regarded as the best "military rifle" of its era.

The primary infantry rifles of Germany and Russia in 1939 were also bolt-action, clip-fed, 7.92mm rifles (except AIUI that while the No.4 held ten rounds, the Kar.98k and Mosin-Nagant only held five). The USA was a half-generation ahead with the Garand, but the Garand was only still being redesigned in 1940 (the US Army was only fully equipped with it in 1941).

Remember that semi-automatic rifles were still in their infancy. In trained hands, the Rifle, No.4 (next iteration of the SMLE design) was absolutely reliable, simple, affordable - and contrary to the claims of the Mauser marketing department, more accurate (there's a thread running on military rifle acceptance standards over on the Rumour Service; even in mass production, the standards demanded of the No.4 were higher than those of the Kar.98k).

In the 1980s, the No.4 was still used by the Cadet Forces; and in the late 1980s I was using one (converted to 7.62 NATO) as a long-range target rifle. I saw Indian Policemen carrying the No.4 in the 1990s, and the Canadian Rangers are only now replacing it for arctic use...

425:

The rear-locking bolt of the No.4 was considered better for long range -- 600 metres and out -- shooting because it damped better than front-locking bolts did. You saw No.4 actions with target barrels and fitments used for target shooting at least up through the 1980s.

On the other hand, the main reason the No.4 was still in use for Hitler's War was the sheer mass of Lee-Enfields and .303 ammunition left over from the Great War; there was absolutely no priority attached to updating the infantry rifle compared to anti-aircraft guns or tanks or aircraft, especially after Dunkirk. (Though the No.4 is a bunch of post-Great War improvements they're incremental and could be applied to existing stocks.) It had been used in the Great War because the Pattern 1913 Enfield (in .276 Enfield), that careful distillation of the lessons of the Boer War, had the misfortune to have its deployment stepped on by the start of the Great War.

The best military rifle design of Hitler's War was very probably the Polish wz.38M, which was at the "first batch for troop trials" stage when the Nazis and the Soviets rolled over Poland. Self-loading and a better design than the Garand.

426:

Save the dolphins! Abolish free bus passes for pensioners! Mandatory dressage lessons in schools! Bring back the guillotine!

We also have the problem of candidates who don't understand the job they're applying for. Although it would be kind of cool if local councils *could* decide to introduce the death penalty... for the laws they make. I am thinking specifically of parking, but I'm sure there are other things.

427:

Short-radius nutrient cycles are just begging for parasites, yes. Which is why you need good treatment rather than just dumping the honey wagon on the field.

We run our composting toilet bins through a summer to get them reasonably hot (black plastic bin in direct sun on a 40 degree day... they get toasty). The sheer age helps. Then I bury the compost (which looks and smells like soil) down ~30cm and don't plant root vegetables in that bit of the garden that year. Albeit we are still working on getting enough good soil to plant root veges at all - most of our place is half a metre clay cap over acid sulfate, with 5cm of instant lawn rolled out on top. 2 years in some of the garden beds are starting to work.

Problem with current sewage systems is that they mix everything that goes down the drain together. If we had a separate pipe for human excrement (esp. without TP) it would be a lot easier to get the nutrients back.

Composting toilets FTW. Also, compost bins. Like everyone in our area we get 220 litre wheely bins for compost and recycling, and 160 litre for rubbish. Unlike most people, it takes us several weeks to fill up the two we put out (compost bin only goes out when we have weeds that probably shouldn't go in the compost bin), and roses. We have roses as a weed (I have dug up about about 2 bins full of roots, I prune them at ground level regularly, but still they grow).

428:

when I think about how much trouble was caused by the Mau Mau "Generals" (who had probably been sergeants for colonial troops in WWII)

I vote they start with Fiji, who export more mercenaries and UN peacekeepers than just about anywhere (Nepal is next IIRC). But Fiji is a "democracy" run by a military dictator so their troops also have experience with encouraging peace at home... ideal as the first recipients of civilisation gifted by a resurgent British Empire. It's a small island nation of only a few hundred thousand people, they should be able to pacify it at least as fast as they did Ireland.

429:

Guy Verhofstadt in The Guardian, in case anyone hasn't seen it or the dozens of other similar pieces.

Leaving the European Union means the EU agencies based in the UK will be relocated. I expect this will be approved by EU leaders as soon as June, if not before. Contrary to the obscure claims by government officials, the European Union’s “crown jewels” of the European Banking Authority and the European Medicines Agency will not remain in a post-Brexit Britain, paid for by EU countries. This is not, as the Daily Express has decried, a “punishment”. This is another logical consequence of Theresa May’s article 50 letter.

"you're not my real dad"... has Teresa may got worse as she ages, or did she say that to her parents when she was a teenager?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/22/dont-believe-theresa-may-election-wont-change-brexit

430:

Read this
Please?
Very perceptive

431:

I think the two party equilibrium is stable without an external disruption, so a successful centre party is one of those "can't get there from here" situations. As the article points out the SNP in Scotland are a centre party in power that is in a stable position where they can't be dislodged by Labour or the Conservatives but they attained the position because of the permanent democratic deficit with Westminster.

432:

People find it difficult to get their heads around May, because, as a couple of links posted here have shown, she is actually a conservative (small c), and most of us have no memory of a government led by such a being. The last traditionally conservative PM was Chamberlain or possibly Eden. Otherwise, Churchill was a historically anomalous 18th century Whig, MacMillan and Heath were right wing Social Democrats, and Thatcher and her successors were NeoLiberals (I discount Douglas Home, who was a placeholder).

May, by contrast, looks like the genuine article: a solid grounding in "Church and King" High Toryism, suspicious of foreigners, suspicious of market economics (the manifesto will apparently include commitment to a ceiling on gas and electricity bills), a lady bountiful approach to charity which leaves nobody any actual welfare rights, and a version of authoritarianism based on moral judgement.

Dealing with this will need different tactics to dealing with Thatcherism, and people who don't grasp that are going to find themselves wrong footed most of the time for the next five years. Unfortunately, I see no evidence that anybody in the present parliamentary opposition in any party has a clue.

433:

A fair point, with one correction. Her moral judgement is based on authoritarianism, not the other way round - look at the differences between her and every Archbishop of Canterbury since Carey - and/or read the Gospels and judge her on those.

I had a traditional upper-middle class Anglican upbringing, and know her type well - paternalistic, arrogant and closed-minded intolerance is the most common defect mode of traditional 'high'/'home' Anglicanism (other branches of Anglicanism have different ones, as do other sects and religions). That is very different from the arrogant, but benevolent and relatively tolerant, paternalism of Churchill, Macmillan, Douglas-Home and possibly even Eden, as you point out.

I don't think that the fascism she will introduce will be brutal, but it will be pretty nasty against anyone classified as being 'not one of us'.

434:

Re: '... will be pretty nasty against anyone classified as being 'not one of us'.'

Wonder whether TMay has a list of which traits identify this group. If she's as closed-minded and authoritarian as you say, then it's likely that having any one of the listed traits would be enough to be kicked out of her 'us' group. Assuming just 6 or 7 disqualifying traits, with each trait normally distributed, this leaves less than 5% of the current population fulfilling her 'one of us' criteria. Now all she has to figure out is how that lucky 5% that gets to stay in England is going to be able look after the country all by their lonesomes. (I'm guessing 'work competence' is not one of her 'one of us' traits.)

Tried to find such a list - no luck - but did find the article below re: May's okay with putting the UK's healthcare system up for grabs in US-UK trade talks. This could throw the spanner into the works if Brits feel as strongly as Canadians about their universal healthcare system. As every analysis conducted in the past 20+ years on health care systems consistently shows: the US medical system is PROFIT-centered and over-priced for what it delivers. So even if UK patients wouldn't be required to pay directly out of pocket at point of care/treatment, there are very many other nasty for-profit strategies that could be implemented. Authoritarians like to follow their own special 'rules' so the slightest deviation could be used against a Brit to refuse coverage. (See US HMOs and medical insurance coverage for tips and pointers on how this works. BTW, MDs also get regularly shafted by these corps as seen in class-action law suits against some of the largest HMOs.)

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-donald-trump-nhs-us-trade-deal-brexit-torture-a7548156.html

Excerpt:

'Theresa May has left the door open for the greater involvement of US corporations in British healthcare as she arrives in America to lay the groundwork for a future trade deal.

Ms May would only say that she was committed to a health service that is free at the point of delivery, but made no comment on whether the NHS would be off the table in any future talks.'

435:

Thank you
It explains why I always think of myself as a leftwing tory/Social liberal.
Macmillan was brilliant, f'rinstance ....
I also take your point about May, it would explain my & Charlie's very different takes on her - & why, quite possibly, why we are both wrong.

EC & SFR @ 433/34
I suggest you reread 432. Very carefully.

436:

Re: 'I suggest you reread 432. Very carefully.'

Okay - I reread it ...

Am unable to see a logical equivalence between using the NHS as a trade bargaining chip (with the US, with their current POTUS ... ugh) and the image of a Lady Bountiful.

Okay - there is an alternative explanation: May really really likes West London theatre, has always had a mad crush on ALWebber (more so since he became a Peer), and her life's dream is to become the British Eva Peron.


'A new Argentina' ... Madonna's film version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-JGINJGxlE

437:

Damn ... should have looked up 'Lady Bountiful' before posting. Now I get it - all show, no real feeling.

Used to think that I understood English!

438:

(And also Elderly Cynic at #433)
...she is actually a conservative (small c), and most of us have no memory of a government led by such a being.
Can somebody explain further what this means in the UK context?
To me (American) small-c conservatism is essentially a bias against rapid change, and especially against rapid change that isn't an incremental modification of the current state of affairs. ((American) "Conservatives" are always trying to appropriate the term.)
Can you suggest a publication that expresses UK (small c) conservatism well, preferably one that makes arguments that require at least a bit of mental effort to refute?


439:

You have seriously misunderstood - I did not use the term 'bigotted', because that is not how such people think. Don't confuse what 'chris y' and I am talking about with the bigotry typical of some of Northern Ireland, the continental European neo-fascist or the USA bible belt. Yes, perhaps only 5% of the population is fully in tune with her beliefs, but I doubt that she would regard more than 10% as definitely 'not one of us', and subject to active discrimination. In particular, it's not so much who people are but what they say and do - for example, homosexuals were tolerated provided that they kept it a secret - Oscar Wilde's crime was not to do so. Also, see my next response (to Bill Arnold).

To Greg Tingey (#435): I have no idea what you are on about.

440:

Not easily :-( Yes, it's similar to USA conservatism, but the details are very different, and the bias is (to a great extent) towards a partially imaginary, rose-tinted view of the UK and its place in the world, and against any change or viewpoint that conflicts with that. Because it's a largely emotional stance, there isn't really any source of rational arguments (or a precise definition!)

Note that 'chris y' may mean something slightly different by conservatism, but I think that it will overlap.

441:

The whole discussion reminds me of the bit from Doonesbury during the Reagan administration, about a kind of conservative brain-damage which means that the victim "can only see backwards through a rose-colored haze."

442:

Hope this isn't going to take this thread too far OT, but the first part of the french elections is underway; the polls have now closed.

Emmanuel Macron(23%); Marine Le pen(23%); Francois Fillon (19%); Jean-luc melenchon (19%); Benoit hamon (7%).

That is just a projection however. Hopefully lepen won't get though!

ljones

443:

That is just a projection however. Hopefully lepen won't get though!

Don't say that!

... Yup, Le Pen got through.

(Polling suggests Macron will steamroller her, but we've been here before so often that I am now steeling myself for the sight of a swastika flying over the Elysee palace in a couple of months' time.)

444:

I suspect one of the reasons we've seen problems about the polling is that Russia has hacked at least some of the polling computers and is feeding the political operatives garbage. It's a much better strategy than attempting to sabotage the vote counting.

445:

Graydon, can you provide some links for the following claims?

- fertilizer not essential to nutrient production - I've never heard before that nitrogen fixing bacteria work without symbiosis with specific plants (is this your claim?) and afaik there's practically no mineral source for nitrogen

- link soil loss to agricultural practices - where I live, farmers at least *talk* about maintaining a soil carbon balance, have metrics for soil health that go beyond macronutrient availability (groundworms are an important metric). All within conventional agriculture. I do believe that the problems you describe exist somewhere, but agriculture is a wide and varied field with many practices...
(It's also possible that the farmes I used to know pulled some wool over my eyes...)

Regarding sewage as fertilizer:

- you usually don't spread raw sewage (=faeces + other stuff) but sewage sludge with is primary sludge 8settleable solids from the faecs) + waste activate sludge (=the bacteria doing the treatment) after stabilization via anaerobic digestion. This reduces pathogens. AFAIK best practices are close to what is described upthread.

Again, AFAIK pharamceuticals are more a problem in the wastewater after treatment than in the sewage sludge. Powdered activated carbon as adsorbent seems to be a promising candidate to remove pharmaceuticals, but this is still very much ongoing R&D (but on full scale).

And, AFAIK, the discussions around nutrient reclamation from watewater I hear are mostly about phosphate. Phosphate reclamation from ashes after sewage sludge incineration seems to be a thing as is phosphate reclamation in the form of MAP (Magnesium Amonium Phosphate) from sewage sludge or raw Urine!). Aparantly, IDK if the heavy metals co-precipitate with the MAP, if so you have a problem...

Haber Bosch - my thinking upthread, in *not* replacing methane as a hydrogen source with hydrogen from electrolysis was more along the lines that there's lots of fixed capital standing around in the form of Haber Bosch plants and a 1:1 swap of feed makes economic sense.

Note that while I will often stress that for many problems around wastewater, solutions exist - but at least 50% of this worlds population has no wastewater treatment what so ever. So you get eutrophication of parts of oceans. Which is horrible.

446:

Throwing around Nazi references isn't going to help. The country holding the election is France, not Germany. Right wing authoritarians in France remind the population every chance they get that the 1940 Nazi invasion succeeded because of the ineffective centre/left government in power at the time, hence "we need a strong leader and united people".

447:

According to fivethityeight.com French polling is quite a lot better than UK polling. It is historically pretty close to the mark. It gives all of the other candidates a 15% lead over Le Pen for the second round.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-french-election-is-way-too-close-to-call/

448:

The bacteria in the nodules on a legume aren't from the legume; they're from the soil. https://www.britannica.com/science/nitrogen-fixing-bacteria and note the bit about "invade". Also the bit about "commercial culture". There are non-symbiotic nitrogen fixing organisms, and I cannot stress enough that we really don't know what's going on in there. It's insanely complex and parts of it are completely opaque. But certainly some of the nitrogen is coming from the non-mutualists, or, more probably, the not-mutualists-with-crops. Even more certainly, it's better to have a wide variety of potential mutualists in your soil rather than imposing a particular cultured mutualist over a wide area when you plant crops than can support a nitrogen-fixing mutualist.

When you remove the ground cover -- when you plow -- you get increased runoff, and thus topsoil loss. The whole "no till" movement is about never not having ground cover so the soil doesn't get washed away when it's bare in the rain. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/newsletter/notill.htm is nice and succinct. Note that bit about "erosion".

Also note that plowing is still what is mostly done.

449:

Which is where you have to hope that Macron has no lurking scandals (organic, synthetic, or otherwise) and that the security is very good indeed for runoff candidates.

450:

Macron is pretty much a #wildhunt 2017 script. His ideological framework is all over the place: member of the socialist party, buys himself out of his contract with E50k (?!?!), then worked at Rothschild & Cie Banque, then makes the catchy new En Marche! movement. (Although, if he actually meant his ecological policies, we're in favor - his funding, however...).

Let's just say: he's the perfect foil to the Bot / Kek meme armies. You can practically feel the waves of incoming Rothschild's anti-banking memes flowing freely, even without help.

~

Anyhow, @host's twitter:

2002

Alt.Conspiracy.Net: Man, the CIA can bug your TV and make it watch you.
Disinformation.com: look at all these weird and wonderful stuff delights, order from our catalog of fringe stuff, it's groovy and wild!

2016

Antipope.org: Whose this weirdo who needs medication going on about all this nonsense?! Looks like a classic case of psychosis! Weird obsession with numbers: 3, 6, 8, 9; lots of references to lasers and Mind / telepathy and 'she' claims it's all art.
([Redacted]: No worries little cat, we got you fam)

2017

Wikileaks: Yep, that was in 2014 though.
Shadowbrokers: And here's the actual code!
Facebook: Please don't worry, we are actually attempting to monetize the invasion of your Mind
Alex Jones: I'm a performance artist, here's my Lawyers, totally legit Art Project I have going on.
China: I haz ATVs Now.

But that’s exactly how Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s innovation skunkworks Building 8...

Facebook is looking at using optical imaging – using lasers to capture changes in the properties of neurons as they fire – to glean words straight from our brain before we say them. If these signals can be read, they can be transmitted silently to other people.

Facebook has 60 people working on how to read your mind Guardian, 19th April, 2017

Facebook is working on a way to let you type with your brain The Verge, 19th April, 2017

Is InfoWars' Alex Jones Actually a Performance Artist? Newsweek, 17th April, 2017

China's first cargo spacecraft docks with orbiting space lab Reuters, 22nd April, 2017

Success in recognizing digits and monosyllables with high accurary from brain activity measurement Phys.org, 18th April 2017

Interspeech 2017

451:

Yes None of the people who voted for any of the other three main candidates will vote le Pen.
Final result:
le Pen 24.5% Macron the rest ....
But - what are Macron's real policies, is he a French Blair?

452:

Uff, dropped a link:

2017

Zen Doctrine of No Mind AMZN

And, because weird and legal in some parts of the world, here's apparently a full copy in PDF version from the Archaeological Society of India. Yes. Don't make me point out the joke. Note: might not be legal in your country of origin (*cough* VPN *cough*).

Zen Doctrine of No Mind PDF, large 162 pages


身是菩提樹, The body is a Bodhi tree,
心如明鏡臺。 The mind a standing mirror bright.
時時勤拂拭, At all times polish it diligently,
勿使惹塵埃。 And let no dust alight.

Who knew 713 defenses were required, eh? (we knew).

453:

It's unlikely that Russian hackers targeting pollsters' systems significantly influenced polling, at least in the US. There was a remarkable uniformity in the trends and in how they responded to various types of news. Further, the announcement by James Comey (head of the FBI) a week before the US presidential election that the investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails might be reopened is adequate to explain a significant suppression of liberal voting in relevant regions. (Note that, due to the electoral college system, a 77,000 vote swing in the right states would have changed the result.) It seems entirely credible that this single event caused a several-percentage swing in the popular vote, which (due to the electoral college emphasizing less-populated - typically conservative - states) was adequate to hand Donald Trump the presidency.

Polls may be good at measuring current views of the polled. Knowing who will vote - crucial to publishing a meaningful poll result - is much harder, and the core of pollsters' statistical secret sauces. Those recipes broke down in elections that significantly departed from historical voting trends.

My impression from international news sources (and online political betting trends right before the Brexit poll) is that an enthusiasm gap is also sufficient to explain the Brexit result. Yeats's "The Second Coming" has never felt more relevant in my lifetime.

454:

He's... let's say. Manufactured in the same manner as Blair. This would have worked 10 years ago; now, not so much. Literally not keeping up with the Joneses - and, yeah: someone is betting hard on this meme

Liberté et Sécurité (Image, safe)


There's some serious bite-back already happening about the early release of the man responsible for the gun attack in Paris three days ago. No links, too hot; but if that one gets tied into a GreenPeace deal, Adiós muchachos.

455:

Liberté et Sécurité

Oh, very nice. I like that a lot!

456:

My specific suspicion is that the hackers interfered with the Democrat's internal polling. I suspect this is why the Democrats failed to do the necessary work to shore themselves up in the swing states.

That being said, there are obviously multiple reasons as to why Hillary lost, Comey's letter being the immediate problem, but the Democrat's firing of Howard Dean in 2008 probably being the real cause - the Democrats don't have a good "farm team" in the city councils and state legislatures to represent them at a local level and solve local problems. Dean's "50-State Strategy" would have been a major help with this issue.

Your comment about "The Second Coming" is about how I feel too.

457:

Have you ever read the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons? (before he went... well... you didn't call it Alt-Right back then, but it's a descriptor).

Specifically the entire dual body cross resurrection bit with the good old priest being slain repeatedly to resurrect the weak young fool to run their genocidal campaigns?

"Second Coming"


Man, this one is comedy gold. You're on your 9th. And The Cat Came Back this time.

458:

If memory serves me correctly, I first started them about 30 years ago, though the bits with the resurgent Catholic Church came a few years later, and I've reread the whole thing periodically... probably about due to read them again.

I don't know why you've chosen to cast me as the genocidal pope. I've got no faith in either political party, and the problems with the Democrats go very deep and will not be fixed correctly (or fixed by anyone who currently has national power within the party.)

So how about you unpack and explain why you find me so papal and genocidal?

459:

It's nigh-certain there were adjustments to the reported vote totals in Trump's favour in some swing states with Republican control of the state apparatus; it's absolutely certain that North Carolina and other states engaged in voter suppression of dubious legality to Trump's advantage.

Do remember that the US holds elections at the state level and that many states hold what DO NOT qualify as democratic elections by international standards. There's a US agreement not to talk about it, but it matters.

460:

Sigh, and then the Ego took hold. Remember, it's all YOU as species, not YOU as ID/EGO. Literally telling you what actually happened.

But, ok, let's play the personal ID game:

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of indignant desert birds.

That's a very cute allusion to personal authorship, but sadly - temporally impossible. Although, of course, since 'your' first work was The River Styx Runs Upstream (Tales of Mystery and Imagination, 1979, full text) we'll suspend disbelief and imagine your Obols got stolen (DOOT DOOT) somewhere. Oh, and of course, we'll throw in: Slouching Towards Bethlehem YT, music, Jodi Mitchell, 6:56 and Slouching Towards Bethlehem Joan Didion, Goodreads link.


But you missed the point:

The Cat Came Back HD YT, animation, 7:37.


And the 9th resurrection was a tell to the [redacted]. Our kind do not go mad. We expect silliness to stop.

461:

No, it doesn't.

Since 2008 over $1-2 trillion dollars has been fed into a system that was gobbled up by Hedge Funds, Banks, Commercial Property (inc. landlords) and so on.

It's the biggest "wealth" (actually deflationary fiscal in attempt, but read the next bit) redistribution in the last 300 years.

Oh, but... kicker. It was all locked up and the "economy" was artificially kept stagnant, meaning that wages and so forth kept flat-lined.

You're looking at the first stage of gigacide, and you don't even recognize the signs.