Jez Weston

Jez Weston

  • Commented on Rejection Letter
    We know how to build secure and reliable software for large, complex machines that will kill people when they go wrong AND will be in service for decades. That's what the aviation industry does. There's only four things that need...
  • Commented on Popcorn Time
    (OGH: It was indeed very off-topic. Your blog, your rules.) Regarding the reunification of NI/Ireland, it strikes me that there's a worryingly feasible chance that this could happen. No-one wants it, but we've had a year of things happening that...
  • Commented on Popcorn Time
    To return to OGH's topic, there's a bunch of interesting questions to discuss: 1) What a trade agreement between the rUK and NZ would have to look like, for the NZ and other former colonies to show any interest? 2)...
  • Commented on Popcorn Time
    UK ex-pat in New Zealand here. The formal relationship is simple - the Queen is head of state of New Zealand, which means approximately nothing. There's a minor independence movement here, but no one cares. We don't even care enough...
  • Commented on The End of the British nuclear deterrent?
    The Federation of American Scientists has the best publicly available estimates of nuclear forces, listing Russia at 1950 deployed warheads, USA at 1590, and UK at 120. Let's not forget, nukes are not a difficult technology. 1940s tech gets you...
  • Commented on The Day After
    Nevil Shute didn't have the advantage of global circulation models - in the event of Armageddon, almost all fallout will start in the Northern Hemisphere and stay there. NZ's biggest health problem will be the almost complete lack of pharmaceuticals....
  • Commented on The Day After
    https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas It's going to be good news economically for NZ, as we pick up a decent number of educated, working-age refugees from the US, just as we did when Bush II got in....
  • Commented on The iron law of development
    Ok, classic economic analysis applied to power tools: I've a hand plane, a Stanley No 5. It's a beautiful bit of kit. I used it this evening. I've an electric plane, a Bosch with a carbide blade. It's loud and...
  • Commented on A plaintive request
    And SpaceX just landed another rocket. That's well on the way to a drastic cut in launch costs....
  • Commented on A game of consequences
    "My standards for sociopathy are set by the friends I've had who were raped by their parents." You said that a true sociopath cannot be reasoned with and should be killed. Am I mis-interpreting your statements? Can we at least...
  • Commented on A game of consequences
    And that's exactly what I mean - this belief that all sociopaths are child rapists, just like all autistic people are Rain Man. Humans are great at using black-and-white thinking to create out-groups. Examples include the communist scare in the...
  • Commented on A game of consequences
    Just like autism, sociopathy is not an either/or condition. It's a spectrum. We now have the decency to treat people on the autistic spectrum as something other than broken and we recognise the value in people who are not entirely...
  • Commented on A game of consequences
    I'll agree that it's complicated, but: 1) The vast majority of people came after the drop-off of the native popluation and their eradication as a controllers of the land. But yes, a major factor delivering resources to the early colony...
  • Commented on A game of consequences
    I think you might be understating just how much of a difference there can be between the appearance of a political state and the reality. Stopping colonists from destroying colonies requires quite drastic limitations on those colonists, unacceptably so to...
  • Commented on Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera
    Laser/target interactions are complicated, with lots of strict thresholds and non-linear behaviour. Hit a solid with a pulse of enough laser energy in a small enough spot over a short enough time, then it digs a hole and creates a...
  • Commented on Holding pattern (part N ...)
    That's why I mentioned the 1950s, as that was the high point of the reform Democrats in the USA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Athens_(1946) for an example round about then.) Of course there's still corruption. My point is that kind of behaviour is now...
  • Commented on Holding pattern (part N ...)
    The invention of the modern public service. In 1850 both the UK and the US had tiny public sectors, like 5% of national income. The public sectors were entirely nepotistic with positions bought and sold. By 1950, the public service...
  • Commented on Introducing new guest blogger: Heteromeles
    So that's IPCC Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 then? Twelve billion people burning ten times as much coal by 2100, with coal use only dropping after that coz there isn't much left. It's hard to credibly suggest worse. "A scenario of...
  • Commented on Introducing new guest blogger: Heteromeles
    "how the Earth's biosphere is likely to change in the wake of anthropogenic climate change" - should the key word there by "likely", not "possibly"? Coz there's a huge difference between the two, for any particular warming trajectory. What matters...
  • Commented on Random thought for the day
    Japan has a process for redrawing electoral boundaries, it's just ad hoc, occasional, and driven in practice by the Supreme Court arguing with the government of the day (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_Japan#Malapportionment). And this is the kind of thing that drives or hinders...
  • Commented on Random thought for the day
    As Noel said, arbitration clauses are not new and this is not just about the financial sector. On this side of the planet, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations fell over this weekend because of the political power of domestic sectors. The...
  • Commented on On the Great Filter, existential threats, and griefers
    We've been viewing this as a two-party problem: nascent civilisation versus griefers. I think it's a three-party problem: nascents, griefers, and any other nascent civilisation within sight range. For griefers to be sure they've caused a hard extinction of a...
  • Commented on Why we're not going to see sub-orbital airliners
    As OGH has mentioned, F-T from biomass and renewables starts to look good at $200/bbl. That's a price that doesn't end civil aviation, it doesn't even halt the 5% per year growth in air traffic, maybe it knocks it down...
  • Commented on Why we're not going to see sub-orbital airliners
    There's a heap of ways to extract CO2 from the atmosphere. There is no way to do so usefully, i.e. at a reasonable cost of money and energy. There's a good summary of direct air capture techniques in the latest...
  • Commented on Why we're not going to see sub-orbital airliners
    It can draw from anything containing carbon, but the main use is from methane or coal. NZ built a methane-source synfuel plant as a response to the 1970s oil shocks. It failed commercially with the low oil prices of the...
  • Commented on Why we're not going to see sub-orbital airliners
    Fuel price volatility is a non-issue because every airline hedges the cost by buying fuel months or years ahead. Air New Zealand made a bet the last time oil hit US$80, in 2009, that the price would go up and...
  • Commented on Why we're not going to see sub-orbital airliners
    "some lossy reactions" - Make that about 50% loss, if you're trying to go for a pure biomass->Fischer-Tropsch->synthetic jet fuel, thus doubling the cost and land area needed. If you're trying to go from biomass to jet fuel via F-T...
  • Commented on Metacommentary
    There's two factors here: 1) PV cells lose output as they heat up so you want to keep them cool. 2) Water is a crap absorber of sunlight, so you want your sunlight to be shining on a pipe full...
  • Commented on Metacommentary
    There's two trends I've seen in comment threads, both of which come down to the history of technology. They're not really strange attractors, more common cognitive biases. The first is failing to remember history - the past thread on transportation...
  • Commented on The morning after
    What's terrifying to me is that there is literally no party I could vote for if I still lived in England. A vote for the Greens is wasted outside of Brighton and I'm not stupid enough to think that a...
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