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A death in the Firm

TITLE: Someone died

So, a rather famous old man died yesterday. I'm not going to say any more about him, for reasons that'll become obvious below: instead I'm going to talk about the vile media feeding frenzy we're about to be subjected to.

Compulsory mourning for a stranger sucks--especially when it's performative Victorian-style royal mourning.

The past century has seen a huge cultural flip-flop so that death and mourning are as inadmissible/peripheral to public life today as sex was in the 1890s, and vice versa.

Back in the 1890s, at least among the upper classes sex was spoken of elliptically or not at all, carried out furtively and in private, and not admitted to in polite society. Everybody did it, but nobody wanted to be known for it, and the taboos surrounding it were many and punishment for infractions could be savage. But mourning was a huge social spectacle, acted out in public: there were special clothes, ritualized stages of mourning with defined time frames within which certain behaviours were expected and other normal activities suspended. The funeral cortege was a public procession through the streets, sometimes with hired mourners to indicate the degree to which the deceased was respected: monumental architecture sprouted in graveyard.

Then the 20th century happened.

Today we're relatively open to discussions of sex--at least to talking about it and portraying it openly in the media. (I'm not sure we're having more of it--the Victorians were hyperactive furtive shaggers--but we're not trying to hide it, for the most part.) However, death isn't something we're routinely exposed to. The demographic transition from a high birth rate/high death rate society to a low birth rate/low death rate culture has resulted in death becoming something that mostly happens behind closed hospice and hospital doors. Funerals still happen, and act as an excuse for reunions of far-flung families ... but then we resume everyday life immediately. Employers grant a week off for the death of a spouse, parent, or child: more distant relatives are ignored. The idea of women going into seclusion at home, wearing only black clothing (and a veil if venturing out in public) for six months, would be a jaw-dropper. Grief and bereavement is a very private thing these days, not a fit subject for sharing. The normal thing to do this century is to leave the bereaved family decently alone with their grief in private.

But then the Queen's squeeze died, and the national discourse is suddenly dragging us on a 150 year deep dive into the unfamiliar territory of archaic public mourning rituals. And the vultures are circling ...

I never met Prince Philip, or his wife and kids. My only interaction with the royal family ever was to walk across a stage during a graduation ceremony attended by a bored minor royal--the patron of the university I attended. They are, in a very real sense, strangers to me: no more familiar than Kim Kardashian or Elon Musk.

And yet I'm expected to join in an orgy of vicarious synthetic grief and mourning and wrap myself in either a flag, or a black armband, or both (I'm unclear). The sanctimonious right wing tone police are already out in force, marching in columns in every newspaper. On top of the normal stentorian roar of monarchist calls for obedience, this time round we also have moralistic finger-wagging injunctions to observe social distancing because of COVID19: to remain silent behind closed doors, the royal funerary rites to invade our private spaces.

The UK is ruled by a monarchy-obsessed reactionary Party (and by Party I do not mean to identify the Conservatives: rather, it's the Party of the Establishment as embodied by the state itself). The media aligned with the monarchy-obsessed party can--and will--use this event to bury bad news or manufacture pretexts (Look! They're not wearing black! Or genuflecting obediently to power!) attack the usual targets. Expect the government to use this grim-reaper-delivered opportunity to the max to bury bad news (renewed rioting in Northern Ireland, the Scottish election, Brexit, COVID19 vaccine shortages, corruption) and demand that we focus on the ritual of royal mourning instead of paying attention to current events.

The cultural dynamic of celebrity drags the unthinking and unaware along with it. Humans like to watch the powerful (we're descended from primates who live in troupes, after all), and the death of a member of the royal family is very much like the death of a film star, musician, famous-for-being-famous celebrity--it's ripe for exploitation for commercial or political ends.

Worse, looming on the horizon is the spectre of another royal funeral. The Queen is 94 years old and presumably a grieving widow. Losing a spouse after more than 70 years of marriage is like suffering an amputation of the soul, according to my mother, after a similar bereavement. She's probably not going to last out the current decade, even though her family is famously long-lived. Indeed, widows or widowers often follow their spouse relatively rapidly after such a long relationship: codependency withdrawal can kill. And the usual vultures are circling.

Shorter summary: the royal family is institutionally resistant to change, this means its death/mourning rituals are increasingly out of touch with contemporary cultural norms, and the cognitive dissonance between what they tell us is expected of us and what we know to be true will be exploited by manipulative and malignant political actors.

1830 Comments

1:

The wall-to-wall media coverage reminds me of Princess Di's death and the media feeding frenzy that got sparked off by it. Even my partner's mother is annoyed by the coverage (at least we're spared her soaps for a few days).

I'm guessing this is going to be a dry run for the next major death in the firm which will involve enforced public mourning and a state funeral. At least there's not to be a state funeral this time; I'm old enough to remember Sir Winston Churchill's funeral on the TV, and my mother's reaction (she'd been a serving WRN - called up in 1940).

2:

From a US perspective, the odd thing about all this is that many of our own so-called conservatives expect performative grief (similar in nature, but less in intensity) of the type expected in the UK. This is particularly odd given that the Republicans are the political party who claim most loudly to revere "the Founding Fathers", meaning men like Washington, Hamilton, Madison, and Adams who pretty much devoted their lives to the struggle to make it possible for Americans to not GAF about English Royalty.

And, as for me, I seriously don't. Philip was 99 years old. This is not a tragedy. People I care more about die every day.

3:

Yes. As I said in the previous post, I have met him - but only once and very briefly. Despite being a monarchist, I agree with everything you say - with one exception, where I go further and one slight niggle.

Condolences are one thing, but mourning by anyone not immediately affected? My father in law (died at 96) had a fairly jolly funeral, and everybody there was saying something like "he was a good old fellow and had a good run for his money".

By all accounts, he (the D of E) agreed with you, too, and requested a simple funeral, even before COVID. The demand for a week's ritual is not being driven by the monarchy, but by the 'monarchical establishment'.

4:

Well, he fought against the Nazis, unlike his uncle-in-law, and his mother is honored at Yad Vashem, so by the dismal standards of monarchies, he was woke, no matter how archaic some of his attitudes. Even staunch republicans like Scottish nationalist Craig Murray have good words to say about him. It's clear this will be used to further the English gutter press' not-even-disguised racist campaign against Meghan Markle. After all, hasn't an official government commission cleared the UK of any institutional racism? Move along, nothing to see here, not at all.

5:

One: The Guardian's Obit was remarkably sympathetic ... pointing out that, unlikely as it seems now - he was at one point a dynamic reformer. I'm reminded of the fictional character, Count Piotr Vorkosigan.
Two: Very few of that WWII generation, who actually fought are now left. As I said yesterday "the last survivor of the Battle of Matapan has died" ... now I wonder how many other survivors are left who witnessed the formal surrender of Japan on 2/9/1945 are now left? ( Yes, he was there, too. )

6:

I had to travel by bus yesterday, and noticed that all of the video advertising screens at the bus stops were showing RIP Prince Phillip messages constantly instead of the usual rolling ads. And Waitrose sent out obit messages to everyone who has a store card, which is just crazy.

Like you I've never met any of the royals - they're pretty much irrelevant to anything in my life. I bear them no ill will, and I'm sure that they're good for tourism or something if that ever resumes, but I could really live without the press obsession on them and everything that goes with it.

7:

... and one of the nicest comments was made by Barack Obama.

I saw some of his sketches and notebooks at an exhibition in BuckHouse when tourist ing in London; quite a polymath. and possibly not given credit for being confident enough in himself to marry a monarch, and not complain about it. Rather ahead of his time.

I just wish that the “professional monarchists” would shut up and stop trying to make a buck from the event, as OGH pointed out.

8:

When I heard yesterday morning that Prince Philip died, I didn't think much of it - "that's too bad" and "well, he was 99" were about the limit of things.

When Princess Diana died in 1997, it was a shock coming down in the morning to the big headlines of her death - but then she was 36 and could have had many years ahead of her. I was surprised that I was moved. I didn't follow the performative mourning though.

So: elderly veteran dies. Fought the Nazis in WWII. Had a worldview not-uncommon to those who were born in 1921. Rest in peace.

Can we have the Republic of Canada when his widow dies1?

1 Almost certainly not. Thanks to Canada's Constitution, that kind of major change is basically impossible.

9:

He was an interesting bloke with many good and bad points, and deserves a lengthy obituary.

But our celebrity culture and royalty-obsessed media will inevitably make this a totally over the top event which I shall do my best to ignore.

10:

men like Washington, Hamilton, Madison, and Adams who pretty much devoted their lives to the struggle to make it possible for Americans to not GAF about English Royalty

The US founding fathers were all white male landowners, 80% of them were slave owners too, and the Declaration of Independence was signed two years after a famous English legal case ruled that it was unlawful to possess slaves on English soil (Scotland took another couple of years).

TLDR is, "no taxation without representation" was a smoke-screen for "nobody's gonna take my slaves away", which wouldn't have been anything like as popular a rallying call with the too-poor-to-own-slaves classes.

I'm going to go with the hypothesis that now they have no direct power over any American citizens, the UK's Royal Family possess all the perceived glamour of celebrity status without the actual drawbacks (i.e. having a government and an army on their side), hence their being at least as -- if not more -- popular among USAns than among their own citizens.

11:

From a broadcasting point of view things have changed drastically since Diana. We are already back to some kind of normality on the BBC albeit with quite a few replacement programmes for tonal reasons. Sporting events are going ahead as scheduled with extended coverage forming some of the replacement TV.

I'm mildly interested to see how this was handled by the networks, the last major incident I was on duty for was Lockerbie and that had half a dozen of us (Master Control, tech area and the late night journalist) scrambling to check the rest of the evenings programmes and adverts and sort out replacements. These days network monitoring is a much more junior position with someone keeping half an eye on the playout server and needing to pass things upstairs to someone who probably isn't even working in the building currently.

12:

Apparently those TV/radio channels covering the royal death noted drops of on the order of 15% of audience ratings as soon as the royal programming came on, and the BBC got so many complaints about excessive coverage that they had to put up an abbreviated form saying "add your email address to the existing complaint".

So there's that.

13:

The thing is, this is a very UK take on how funerals and mourning is a private affair.
It doesn't even hold across the Irish sea.
Irish funerals are a very very different affair and mourning is a very social thing still. Simon McGarr (he of the Google right to be forgotten case and other notable legal activities) wrote up the process very well for UK readers in the early days of the pandemic, as an explanation for why restricted attendance at funerals was such a massive blow in Ireland, it's worth reading:
https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1238607085820153858.html

All that being said, the UK is looking *really weird* from over here at the moment. It's all a bit much even for us :D

14:

The US founding fathers were all white male landowners

Not all. Hamilton was not (except under a very broad definition of "landowner"). He also (to your other point) fought against slavery all his life.

15:

Is there any difference between Scotland and England in their reactions to the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh?

16:

JReynolds @ 8 :"Can we have the Republic of Canada when his widow dies... ... Almost certainly not."

You're right because according to the constitution of Canada, we have a constitutional monarchy and changing the constitution would be hell because of political circumstances.

On the other hand there is nothing in our constitution to hold the house of Windsor in there. Once the current monarch leaves, the government in power can name any individual as the monarch of Canada.

The current Queen of Canada is currently moderately popular, outside of the province of Québec. Her son is absolutely not popular, inside or outside the province of Québec.

17:

Whenever he was mentioned in the media, I thought, oh hey, he's still alive. After all, he was at an age where one could expect his death every day.

That said, it's weird to see his death here in German TV news as lead-in. Normally, celebrity deaths are announced towards the end of the program. As far as I am concerned, his public role was not important enough to move him to the front.

18:

Does price philips' death simply move us all more quickly along in one future direction along with brexit and covid 19 ?

With what has happened it is tempting to think what will happen over the very existance of the union, aka the UK itself. Does the UK now start to crumble more quickly?

Prehaps the UK is now in this position -- the UK; the union is now one of those "baddies" you've seen in half a dozen films whereby they are hundreds of years old and are undead but get killed at the end of the film but they then turn to dust and immediately blow away in the wind.

Maybe that's the UK's fate now; it happens quicker and the future monarch, they are the monarch of ?

Random thought: If Prince charles becomes the king after the current queen dies, what will be his role? His reign will be one of the shortest of all (he'd potentially be well into his 80s). What would he have to rule over? There might not be much of a union to rule over.

ljones

19:

The US founding fathers were all white male landowners, 80% of them were slave owners too, and the Declaration of Independence was signed two years after a famous English legal case ruled that it was unlawful to possess slaves on English soil (Scotland took another couple of years).

TLDR is, "no taxation without representation" was a smoke-screen for "nobody's gonna take my slaves away", which wouldn't have been anything like as popular a rallying call with the too-poor-to-own-slaves classes.

As described in Gerald Horne's book The Counter-Revolution of 1776. Which I think I've mentioned here before, but in case I haven't:

https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qg0bm

20:

The current Queen of Canada is currently moderately popular, outside of the province of Québec. Her son is absolutely not popular, inside or outside the province of Québec.

Harry would have won the vote in english Canada, I think, if monarch was an elected position. How was he seen in Quebec?

21:

TLDR is, "no taxation without representation" was a smoke-screen for "nobody's gonna take my slaves away", which wouldn't have been anything like as popular a rallying call with the too-poor-to-own-slaves classes.

Whatever their motives, it is still true that "men like Washington, Hamilton, Madison, and Adams ... pretty much devoted their lives to the struggle to make it possible for Americans to not GAF about English Royalty."

I think it is fair to say, more generally, that "white male landowners who were also slave owners" is a good description of the Virginia roots of the Revolution. But there was also a northern (Boston and New York City) wing of the revolutionary agitation. Many of them were merchants, did not own slaves, and were disturbed by the repressive economic policies of the British Empire.

The statement '"no taxation without representation" was a smoke-screen for "nobody's gonna take my slaves away"' oversimplifies a more complex reality, as such statements almost inevitably do.

22:

Robert Prior @ 20: "Harry would have won the vote in english Canada, I think, if monarch was an elected position. How was he seen in Quebec?"

Harry is far behind the contestants of the hit TV show "Star Académie" and the regulars of the talk-show "Tout le Monde en Parle". In other words he could walk in the streets of Québec City without the fear of being mobbed.

24:

Can we have the Republic of Canada when his widow dies1?

1 Almost certainly not. Thanks to Canada's Constitution, that kind of major change is basically impossible.

I don't give it more than six months -- and so long only if the formalisms are observed -- after Nigel Farage is crowned King of England.

It is absolutely the case, and has been going on these seven centuries, that the sole disposition of the Crown rests with Parliament. They can make anyone, or anything, King. Putting Farage in would be a nice hack for the oligarchs in the UK, especially since this present sequence of Tory governments have dragged Great Harry's god-king autocracy back into legal meaning. And it's not like Farage isn't auditioning for the job, or that the tragic helicopter crash wouldn't be easy to arrange.

(Charles->William->offspring->Harry->offspring->Andrew, right? Charles can have COVID again; William and offspring are the tragic helicopter crash. Harry's (by careful media work) unacceptable; Andrew's unacceptable. And there'd certainly be a crisis. The present pro-Brexit Tories wouldn't even have to pretend they thought it was a good idea, they would think it was a good idea.)

In Canada's case, as there's a Commonwealth agreement to use the same succession rules, simply not having a change of monarch -- no succession! -- would be an obvious fix.

Stick the crown and sceptre on a chair; we've already got a Governor-General. Elizabeth the Second remains Her Boreal Majesty in perpetuity, or at least until she should come again. Start circulating the full age range of official portraits on the coinage.

25:

Interesting summary of Operation London Bridge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht8D7Q31P3c

26:

Members of the royal family live a very long time (Queen Mum was 104, Prince Philip was 99) Liz is 94.

If she live to be 100 Charles would become king at age 76.

And rule for another quarter century.

So what will the second quarter of the 21st century in the UK look like with Charles as king?

(P.S. sorry about the in video ads)

27:

The statement '"no taxation without representation" was a smoke-screen for "nobody's gonna take my slaves away"' oversimplifies a more complex reality, as such statements almost inevitably do.

Simplification indeed, considering that (apparently) some of the colonists were protesting a tax cut, which cut into their smuggling business :-/

29:

Elizabeth the Second remains Her Boreal Majesty in perpetuity, or at least until she should come again.

The Norstrilians of Cordwainer Smith's "Instrumentality" stories, set far in the future, regarded Elizabeth the Second as their rightful Queen.


30:

In utterly off-topic news, the world's biggest ship is currently visible from my bedroom window, in the Firth of Forth!

31:

I've long held a suspicion that he'll follow the Belgium/Netherlands example and put in a few years and then hand over to William. I don't expect him to duck out altogether, but also don't expect him to cling to the job.

Graydon @24: You can carry that on to ->offspring->Edward (now DofE IIRC)->offspring->Anne. If they started skipping steps Anne would have a lot of support, and if the rules change had been retroactive she'd now be ahead of Andrew.

32:

Wonder if Elon has seen that one...

33:

Not. Happening.

Farage isn't part of the Ruling Party, he's an insurgent outsider -- a grifter in a suit more at home in the BNP (which he modelled UKIP on: UKIP is just the BNP with better tailoring).

Yes, the Brexit ultras in the conservative party agree with him on some stuff, but the key detail -- "is he one of us??" -- is answered unequivocally in the negative.

Also: yes, the crown in parliament is sovereign, but they don't get to rewrite the law of succession without a very important signature at the bottom of the Act, and I suspect an Act amending the royal succession is the one type of Act of Parliament that the monarch could openly and publicly veto without creating a constitutional crisis, because it doesn't affect them personally, nor does it affect the general public, but it concerns the institution they're in charge of.

(Also: the Firm are generally careful not to put all the heirs in one flying egg-beater simultaneously. Or even in the same building, unless it's for a heavily secured photo-op like a wedding or a funeral.)

34:

"The Norstrilians of Cordwainer Smith's "Instrumentality" stories, set far in the future, regarded Elizabeth the Second as their rightful Queen."

Not surprising since Norstril = Northern Astralia

35:

They believed she was still around though, thousands of years from now.

36:

I never met him, but two of my very best experiences as a teen were in pursuit of the 'Duke of Edinburgh Awards'. These had 3 levels and required an increasing amount of community service, adventure and activity.

When I did my 'adventure' part of the Gold award a friend and I were dropped off in West Central Alberta in the middle of nowhere (near Medicine Lake if you must look at a map) with supplies and intent to travel over 100 km through the woods to meet with another group. In January, which meant seb-zero temperatures, deep snow, x-country skis, compasses and some rough topographical maps.

It was one of the finest experiences I've ever had. We were well prepared, camped on the edge of frozen lakes, had immense bonfires in the middle of nowhere.

For that I am thankful to him. Other than that I could give a toss about any Royals.

37:

"They believed she was still around though, thousands of years from now."

Maybe some of them supplied her with their immortality drug, "stroon".

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

38:

Re: 'Losing a spouse after more than 70 years of marriage is like suffering an amputation of the soul, according to my mother, after a similar bereavement.'

Yeah - I was wondering how the Queen is going to cope now that she's lost probably the only person she's been able to be just her own self with for 70+ years.

The Queen and Prince Phillip have been in the media often enough for many to feel that they have a personal connection with them. So some of the publicly expressed grief/sense of loss will be genuine. Hell - people cry watching films, reading books or even just listening to music and we don't (usually) mock them for forming an emotional bond with or reacting to fiction.

As for the media - well their coverage of the people involved/events will show whether they're exploiters or journalists.

39:

Niala @16:
On the other hand there is nothing in our constitution to hold the house of Windsor in there.

Maybe we can have King John of Canada? It worked in the book (which I have not read).

Graydon @24:
Nigel Farage is crowned King of England.

King of England?!? No, no! It's still going to be the UK. "The United Kingdom of England and Guernsey"!

40:

The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme is, as you say, brilliant; for my sins (alternatively, sons) I volunteered to help out with the school’s DofE expeditions. The concept is great, and it makes a difference.

What I liked was that the emphasis was on effort, not results; the expeditions are accessible to all, even with physical challenges; and while our kids focussed on that, IMHO the skill acquisition / service phases were the ones which really make the difference... anyway, Prince Philip did all of the Gold award ceremonies; all of them, as I understand it. He was committed to it.

Because Edinburgh, our student army reserve unit had him as the Honorary Colonel. On his visits, his focus was always the students; seemed genuinely interested.

41:

ijones
NOTHING wrong with our Union - but BoZo is doing his absolute best to wreck it, so that he can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond.
He's an evil little crawling lying slimebag.

Graydon
Bollocks
Come the revolution, Nugent Farrago will have his tounge slowly pulled out with pincers ...
SEE ALSO Charlie @ 33

42:

a friend and I were dropped off in West Central Alberta in the middle of nowhere (near Medicine Lake if you must look at a map) with supplies and intent to travel over 100 km through the woods to meet with another group. In January, which meant seb-zero temperatures, deep snow, x-country skis, compasses and some rough topographical maps.

Um, wow. Sounds like an amazing adventure.

Which Medicine Lake? Jasper National Park, Clearwater County, or somewhere else?

43:

NOTHING wrong with our Union

Roughly half of Scotland seems to disagree with that sentiment, to the extent of wanting to leave it. Not certain how many of the 'remain' Scots would agree with "nothing wrong" as opposed to "not bad enough to give up on".

44:

Farage isn't part of the Ruling Party, he's an insurgent outsider

I hypothesize that so are the New Masters, the money and planning behind Brexit.

(The New Masters being the mix of expat how-dare-tax?! billionaires, Russian money, Saudi money, we-don't-know-where-that-comes-from money; the locus profitable genocide (mostly) by fossil carbon extraction as an extra-national construction of political power.)

If so, one necessary step to consolidating power is to reduce the incumbent Tory power structure to a condition of obedience, and installing an outsider -- who can make it stick -- is a traditional approach to that problem. From the New Master perspective, sticking in someone you already own, in the vicinity of a supine parliament and Henry VIII powers, would make "stick" seem likely.

It would never work while ERII lives, but otherwise? Change of dynasty is not an inconsistent objective with what we see of the Brexit project. In some senses it's their easy end run for political legitimacy and sufficient material power.

45:

Guernsey is not part of the UK...

46:

MaddyE @ 1: The wall-to-wall media coverage reminds me of Princess Di's death and the media feeding frenzy that got sparked off by it. Even my partner's mother is annoyed by the coverage (at least we're spared her soaps for a few days).

That says a lot more about how rotten the "media" have become than it does about the monarchy.

I will mourn his passing as I would mourn the passing of any notable good person. For all his many well remarked upon faults, I do believe he was a good person.

I have sympathy for his wife. They were together for 73 years. That's longer than I've been alive. And I do believe she married him for love and that matters.

As for all the folderol of State Mourning ... I like this quote from Phillip I found in Wikipedia:

It is a complete misconception to imagine that the monarchy exists in the interests of the monarch. It doesn't. It exists in the interests of the people. If at any time any nation decides that the system is unacceptable, then it is up to them to change it.
47:

From what I can see of that book on the Web it looks like the vote was restricted to the Greater Toronto Area and that the kingdom of King John would eventually be limited to that region.

Having the King and Queen chosen separately each year in two talent search reality show contests on live TV would lead to a better and more stable Canada.

48:

JReynolds @ 8: When I heard yesterday morning that Prince Philip died, I didn't think much of it - "that's too bad" and "well, he was 99" were about the limit of things.

I felt (feel) kind of sorry for the Queen ... not as the Queen, but as a woman who lost her husband after 70+ years of marriage.


49:

Guernsey is not part of the UK...

Hence the need for a Union!

50:

Having the King and Queen chosen separately each year in two talent search reality show contests

Maybe the contests could be kind of like Eurovision?

With the exception that whenever a Canadian team wins the Stanley Cup, they get to pick the king and queen that year. (Since the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup was 1992, we can expect that this will be a rarely-used provision).

51:

Not certain how many of the 'remain' Scots would agree with "nothing wrong" as opposed to "not bad enough to give up on".

Polling only finds a majority for "remain in UK" among the over-65s. Deeper polling finds that they're shit-scared of losing their UK state pension in event of independence, and furthermore the newspapers they get their news from are feeding them lies (that if the SNP wins we will leave the UK automatically, that the Holyrood election is a referendum, that their pension rights are in danger).

NB: it seems vanishingly unlikely that a newly independent Scottish government would change the already existing state pension arrangements its population have paid into. It's a guaranteed vote-loser!

52:

Graydon @24: You can carry that on to ->offspring->Edward (now DofE IIRC)->offspring->Anne. If they started skipping steps Anne would have a lot of support, and if the rules change had been retroactive she'd now be ahead of Andrew.

Anne ought to be in birth order ahead of Andrew, sure, but what I'm getting at is that major shifts in the power structure tend to go along with changes of dynasty. And there's certainly both a major change of power structure going on and a case where the symbolic change of dynasty (Diana's children) might not have stuck; the thing attaching legitimacy to the institution of the monarchy is ERII. The kind of people who plan Brexit must see that as an opportunity.

53:

Clearwater County. It was 35 years ago so had to double check, but I remember it being not far from Winfield, so that was the one.

Note: Said adventure was after a couple of years of fairly involved winter survival training and practice under supervision. We had enough food to last us for a couple of weeks, and the skills to find more if necessary. And we knew that if all else failed there were people who would send out the search parties if we didn't turn up within a day or two of the appointed time. I do not recommend random teens just hie off into the winter wilderness.

It was and is a fondly remembered adventure, somewhat sadly now as the friend I did it with died about 15 years ago. He and I also sailed a 31' sloop across the Atlantic once.

54:

ljones @ 18: Does price philips' death simply move us all more quickly along in one future direction along with brexit and covid 19 ?

With what has happened it is tempting to think what will happen over the very existance of the union, aka the UK itself. Does the UK now start to crumble more quickly?

Prehaps the UK is now in this position -- the UK; the union is now one of those "baddies" you've seen in half a dozen films whereby they are hundreds of years old and are undead but get killed at the end of the film but they then turn to dust and immediately blow away in the wind.

Maybe that's the UK's fate now; it happens quicker and the future monarch, they are the monarch of ?

Random thought: If Prince charles becomes the king after the current queen dies, what will be his role? His reign will be one of the shortest of all (he'd potentially be well into his 80s). What would he have to rule over? There might not be much of a union to rule over.

Looking at it from the other side of the ocean ...

Would it be possible for the UK to dissolve into it's component states, but continue to retain a common Monarch? Instead of the Queen (or King) of the UK, you have a monarch of Scotland, monarch of England, monarch of Wales, Monarch of Northern Ireland who are all the same person?

Given his parentage, I think Charles has a good chance of living to be over 100. If the Queen dies in this decade, his reign might last 25 years or more.

55:

"With the exception that whenever a Canadian team wins the Stanley Cup, they get to pick the king and queen that year. (Since the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup was 1992, we can expect that this will be a rarely-used provision)."

That might prompt the injection of some dark money into Canadian NHL teams' budgets to create a win and influence the British Monarchy. What a fun short story that would make. The day Bobby Clobber Chose the King.

56:

expat how-dare-tax?! billionaires

An interesting quirk of UK tax law is that you can be non-domiciled for tax purposes if you spend fewer than 167 days in any given tax year in the UK (i.e. if you're abroad for six or more months), and if you're a non-dom you don't have to pay UK income tax. So a lot of the UK oligarchs are Brits, they just spend a lot of time on their yacht or have a second home in a tax haven.

(The USA doesn't put up with such nonsense, which is one of the few areas where they're clearly better than the UK. Such a shame that STAR trusts and similar provide an alternative set of loopholes.)

I'd have said that there's no need to install a new figurehead by changing the sock-puppet dynasty at the top: to do so would make you a visible target. Much easier to do it the traditional British way, i.e. via unbelievably deep-rooted but indirect levels of cronyism and corruption. (You don't bribe the Chancellor: you just make sure there's a job waiting for him on the board of a bank you happen to own when he retires, and that he knows it's a slam-dunk as long as he doesn't shit in your punch bowl. Same with the PM and maybe the Home Secretary; the Defense minister doesn't really signify these days unless you own an arms company or two, in which case his name would be an asset on your letterhead anyway, however dim he is.)

57:

Yes - as I said in the previous thread before having seen this one, my principal reaction was to feel sorry for Liz. They were an example of a royal couple who actually did love each other.

As for the media, we have "newspapers" which will devote their entire front page to reporting on the fictional domestic squabbles of some soap opera characters I've never heard of as if they were real and important people, and have difficulty with the distinction between the actors and the characters they play. Had there been such a fictional barney in course of transmission at the present moment, they would consider themselves to be in a serious quandary as to what to put on their front page.

Their ridiculous gushing over the death of the deluded idiot Diana must have been largely driven by the same confusion between soap opera and reality - died in a car crashed by a drunken driver losing control while careering through a city at 100mph, just like teenage joyriders only with more fame and money. And he was brown and foreign and ought to go back where he came from etc. etc. as per another habitual attitude of those same papers. It was an event absolutely made for them.

Not that long afterwards I was on a train going to a family wedding, and was surprised to see loads of people with cameras standing all along the side of the track. There were so many of them that I thought they must be waiting for a steam-hauled special, and was disappointed not to have known about it so I could have timed my journey to see it myself. It wasn't until months or years later that I realised they had only been waiting for a duff and I hadn't missed anything. Such is my regard for media gush.

58:

Maybe the contests could be kind of like Eurovision?

Welcome your new head of state, Queen Katie Hopkins the First!

(Shudder.)

59:

That's pretty much what we did do for a hundred years or so, between the accession of Belming Jimmy and the Act of Onion. It might even be a viable option to return to it, or so Charlie has IIRC postulated, on the grounds that Scotland has a better claim to "own" the monarchy than England does; but on the other hand we ended up telling Belming Jimmy's descendants to fuck off and imported a spare Dutch bloke to take over, so I'm not clear how much of Scotland would go along with the claim; I am pretty sure there would be a big argument over it, though, connected with all sorts of ugly sectarian crap.

60:

I'd have said that there's no need to install a new figurehead by changing the sock-puppet dynasty at the top: to do so would make you a visible target.

If you're trying to install MyCronies3.0 over the existing stuff that didn't have release numbers until 1784 and is still somewhat written in Norman French, you might want to do just that.

The problem is not the cronyism per say, it's that if you're a Saudi you can't have gone to Eton.

Nor do you have to admit who is giving Parliament ideas/bribes/detailed texts of legislation.

61:

Ahem: maybe use a few more actual names non-Brits can google for, rather than snarky nicknames, when discussing historic events? Because that stuff is not obvious from context and you're in danger of becoming almost as obscurantist as the Seagull.

62:

Nor do you have to admit who is giving Parliament ideas/bribes/detailed texts of legislation.

That's what thinktanks are for. They're even less transparent in the UK than their US lobbying-group opposite numbers, like ALEC.

Also the UK constitution can be patched on the fly by act of parliament. No need to pack the supreme court!

Finally, the old Common Law system was mostly written out of the code between the 1980s and early 2000s (in England and Wales, where applicable: it never applied in Scotland in the first place).

63:

Except the spare Dutch bloke was offered the job because he was married to one of Jimmy's daughters, and his successor was the other daughter, although the one after that did back up the line a bit and was the son of his cousin.

64:

Not sure that reasoning quite holds...

The vote last time (2014) only had a majority in Glasgow and Dundee (the areas with the highest levels of deprivation). The big failure in the rest of Scotland wasn’t IMHO worry over pension, but worry over economic stewardship.

The SNP leader at the time, Salmond, (to me) was a reprehensible individual, with either a tenuous grasp on reality or a deliberate policy of lying. IMHO, the evidence presented at his later trial for assault demonstrates this. Many “yes” voters at the time didn’t believe this, and thought him to be lucid and reasonable. But the white paper of his time was economic wish-fulfilment fantasy. It relied upon extremely high oil prices, and couldn’t even answer the question “so: what currency?”. The justice policy was just “knives and guns”, the defence policy was shockingly uninformed.

Six years later, we’ve seen the nightmare that is Brexit - and yet exactly the same arguments are being trotted out, about an economic integration that is much deeper, older, and more valuable than that with the EU: “it’s in their interests to give us a deal”, “it will be the easiest deal in the world”, “we’ll be better off on our own”, “there won’t be a border, don’t be silly”.

I’d suggest that right now, the disgust at Johnson and his paymasters is greater than the fear of Scexit screwing the Scottish economy; but only just, and that can change. Right now, we have a First Minister who is damaged after attempts to “deal with” Salmond’s behaviour; married to an SNP Chief Executive who is allegedly refusing to release the party accounts, on the back of several financial bailouts that look... less than wise (handing shipbuilding contracts to major party contributors is no different from the Conservatives at Westminster).

The young, including firstborn, now increasingly believe that any economic contraction (to them, an abstraction) is worthwhile, if we get away from the corruption and incompetence at Westminster. The more mature and cynical worry that we’d be exchanging one set of ideological incompetents for another, and taking a kicking in doing so.

If I was cynical, I’d suggest the real ammunition is being held back until any referendum campaign. It’s rather quiet on that front right now, which might explain why the SNP is doing so well... I’m also curious as to how Salmond’s new “Alba” party does in splitting the independence vote, and achieving its true goal of getting its Dear Leader back in to front-line politics where his glorious skills can be richly rewarded by an adoring electorate, and to force the SNP leadership to come crawl back for his votes in Holyrood. As I said, he’s good at self-delusion.

65:

Pigeon @ 57: Not that long afterwards I was on a train going to a family wedding, and was surprised to see loads of people with cameras standing all along the side of the track. There were so many of them that I thought they must be waiting for a steam-hauled special, and was disappointed not to have known about it so I could have timed my journey to see it myself. It wasn't until months or years later that I realised they had only been waiting for a duff and I hadn't missed anything. Such is my regard for media gush.

Waiting for a duff?

66:

Since the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup was 1992, we can expect that this will be a rarely-used provision

Are you going by the city the team is based in or if the majority of the players hold a Canadian passport?

67:

I got it from the context, but hadn't heard the term Belming Jimmy before, and none of the meanings of the word duff that I know make sense in the other post. I am impressed!

68:

As you may remember, I referred to that, er, gentleman as a Scottish snake oil salesman, and he has never given me reason to change my mind. I liked his presence in politics, because he made Cameron look like the idiot he was, but would never have actually voted for him.

69:

It turns out to matter if the government are mammonite death-cultists.

The current Canadian federal government are truly terrible; they're approving pipelines and neonictinoid pesticides (both in my view crimes-against-humanity level stuff; there's an established legal view that the ongoing and undiminished indigenous genocide is itself a crime against humanity), and they're not managing to realize that there's a climate emergency already happening. But! they're at least willing to admit there's such a thing as a fact. And to spend money to keep people alive.

The previous federal administration, the Harper government, wasn't willing to agree there are such things as facts, and did buckets of long-term harm. The current provincial government in Ontario are certainly loud-and-proud mammonites and (probably) closeted antivaxers; the result is a big pile of corpses, no effective pandemic response, and the general ablation of the health care system. (Which the mammonites all see a feature; it will eventually allow them to make health care accessible to them as a revenue stream, as God intended.)

It turns out that there's a difference between corrupt-with-facts and corrupt-without-facts; the later is almost arbitrarily worse, because "no facts" is also "no quantitative analysis".

The UK, where the Tories are ticking all the fascist boxes, is a more extreme case of this. It's not a choice between ept and inept, or similarly inept and similarly inept; it's a choice between "I admit things have to change, even if I am not sure of the best course" and "nothing that affects me is allowed to change". That last one is moderately bad in prosperous times. In these times -- agriculture as a technological capability is still headed at collapse -- it's impossible. Admission that what they most want is impossible does not reliably happen; atrocity does, as part of the effort to avoid the admission, but the admission itself doesn't.

Even with a presumed economic disaster, corrupt-with-facts is preferable to the violent suppression of dissent. (Where England has already arrived.)

70:

As we always say: thoughts and prayers. Condolences on your loss.

I'd also add that QE2 seems to be not planning to be around much longer: she's not replacing her corgis as they pass, because she doesn't want them to outlive her. This is someone who's not planning for the long term. She's going to be very alone, and that is sad too.

71:

JBS @ 65: "It wasn't until months or years later that I realised they had only been waiting for a duff and I hadn't missed anything. Such is my regard for media gush."

"Waiting for a duff?"

Duff beer?

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

Probably not.

72:

R P @ 43
ONLY because various tories have quite deliberately fucked it up

Graydon
Now THAT is scary...

Charlie @ 51
All the indicators are that, as Brexshit is an ongoing disaster for the UK, an "Independent" Snotland would be even further down in the shitpile & even worse off - but that's actual economics, not political willy-waving. In other words, it's Brexshit-squared in terms of complete stupidity.

@ 61
Then why don't you tell the Seagull to FUCK RIGHT OFF, then?
- sorry Charlie, but you asked for that & even I understood what Pigeon was saying!

Martin @ 64
YES!
And the Scottish economy will be utterly screwed ( Start reading the "FT" - please? )
If it wasn't for complete & total lying arsehole BoZo it would be no contest - "stay together" - which tells you something.

JBS
I THINK he means a Brush Type 4 - yes? ( also known as a class 47 )

Graydon @ 69
Yes
- can we have The War Criminal Blair, back, pretty please? Given the present lot, that is.

73:

Re: '... died in a car crashed by a drunken driver losing control while careering through a city at 100mph, just like teenage joyriders only with more fame and money.'

Very different from what I most recall about Diana which was her involvement in AIDS awareness (an AIDS-diagnosed child sitting on her lap) and her participation in a campaign against land mines. From the below, it looks like she was active in many charitable orgs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana,_Princess_of_Wales#Charity_work_and_patronage

BTW - she wasn't the driver and two kids lost their mother that night.

74:

As an American, I usually have to poke a bit at things like "Belming Jimmy and the Act of Onion". Onion is a common substitution (even in the US) for Union, so was soon (via wikipedia) rabbitholing down witch hunting of the indicated era. (Ugh. Violent suppression of the weird, with shitty heuristics.)
"waiting for a duff" just got recorded as something that people do with cameras at the side of the tracks[1], perhaps waiting for someone "important" to go by. Three online slang dictionaries were not helpful. (Urban Dictionary is often the most useful for contemporary English-language slang. Easiest is to search for word or phrase and add keyword urban)

[1] more rabbitholing; tracks or track? In the US one usually crosses "the tracks" even if it's only a single pair of rails.

75:

Ah, no - waiting for a duff is something people standing by the tracks with cameras are usually not doing. If a special hauled by a famous preserved steam locomotive is due to pass, it's no uncommon thing to see the tracks lined with people with great big cameras on tripods etc. and also family groups down to little kids and people who aren't normally interested in trains. But a duff, as Greg said, is a Brush Type 4, the most numerous type of diesel locomotive to have been used in the UK; utterly commonplace, they are called duffs because they are boring (duff), and nobody turns out en masse to see one go past. Except, apparently, when it is hauling a train containing a coffin with a dead princess inside it.

76:

Thanks!
That led to these wikipedia pages. (Skimmed them.) The glossary list is terrifying. (There are lists for other countries too.)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railfan
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_United_Kingdom_railway_terms

77:

The histrionics following her death seem to have fairly effectively erased from history the media's preference for following her around with prurient inquisitiveness and then slagging her off. All that seems to remain of the former discourse is occasional jokes about Harry's dad being the butler, but I'm not sure if they make it outside the UK much. There used to be loads of that sort of thing; I always took the charity work as something she got into partly to provide an excuse to get away from Charles and the rest of them, and partly as a PR exercise to counteract the loss of popularity she experienced when she realised that princessing wasn't as much fun as the fairy stories make it out to be and started deviating from the script, to the disapproval of the British public.

78:

Ah, okay. I thought maybe you were referring to Duff Cooper .

79:

I had no clear idea what "waiting for a duff" meant, and I received Charlie's reference to one character in "Dead Lies Dreaming" buying another a model of a Baby Deltic locomotive as being an Easter Egg for those of the commentariat who have an interest in railways (beyond just steam locos).

80:

Not being that sort of an anorak, I wasn't familiar with the term (nor gricer), but am glad to learn. I assume that Belming Jimmy is the person better known as Dismal Jimmy, rather than the wisest fool in Christendom.

81:

I've had a suspicion for a while that somewhere in the Royal Household there's an office where they store "Good Causes" for junior Royalty to take up when necessary to burning their reputations. Diana, Princess of Power Shopping got the AIDS kids folder along with land mine eradication for her sins, Prince Harry has the Invictus Games for disabled military veterans and so on.

82:

Maybe the contests could be kind of like Eurovision?

It's worth looking at the Irish Presidency in comparison, mostly because it was designed as an exact replacement for the UK Monarchy.

First off understand the role - primarily ceremonial but beyond that, the country personified. Very little constitutiional powers but they are a tie-breaker in any constitutional or other dispute: there is never a "joint" presidency (sometimes proposed by those who don't get this). The Army etc literally stands behind the President, not the Taoiseach (Prime Minister).
(In the event of invasion, it is ultimately the President who decidess fight on or surrender, for example).

In the initial years, for lack of a better idea, it was for retired politicians, in practice from the dominant party of the time. Little was expected, or done, by the President.

In recent decades starting with Mary Robinson, it has been a role for a "moral leader" - someone with years of activism behind them. Formally politically neutral, they've led "quiet advocacy campaigns" on behalf of the Diaspora, Northern Ireland reconciliation, etc.

The current incumbent follows this role : while an ex-politician, he was a left "firebrand" in Labour in his day - Labour being a minor party - though remarkably effective in government, albeit as a junior minister. Think Tony Benn, not Margaret Thatcher - not a divisive leader, but in retirement respected advocate.

Important here is the selection/nomination process. If you look at many (TV) celebrities, they often have fame because of their job, but can frequently have political views that are obnoxious, but they keep quiet. How the candidate will act long-term needs to be understood. With long-term politicans they've typically been scrutinised and vilifed over time, they're known quantities, which is crucial. This was true also of Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese. We've a nomination process that requires a significant number of TDs (MPs) or county councils to vote in favour. David Attenborough's name has been mentioned - he would make the cut, but most of the other names of celebrities wouldn't.

It's also important that the voting procedure reflects the nature of the role, too. A President by FPTP on 30% of the vote would be a disaster from a "represents us all" POV. Irelands STV works to get a good compromise, conciliatory candidate - though 2-round runoffs work well, too.

83:

amckinstry @ 82: "Very little constitutional powers but they are a tie-breaker in any constitutional or other dispute... ... The Army etc literally stands behind the President, not the Taoiseach (Prime Minister).(In the event of invasion, it is ultimately the President who decidess fight on or surrender, for example)."

That would not work for Canada. The Monarch is not a tie-breaker for Parliament and the Army does not stand behind the Monarch. In theory the Queen can dissolve Parliament. In practice it is only when the government asks for it.

84:

Absolutely agree about Diana and her well-planned (AIDS, land mines) or publicity-convenient (“secret” night visits to hospitals) charity work; I wasn’t that impressed.

However, I get the impression that Harry really believes it. The British Army has a decent success rate at (eventually) getting young officers to care about others by their late twenties; far from perfect, but IMHO a better rate than industry and commerce. If he hadn’t run with the Invictus Games, it could as easily have been ABF, BLESMA, or Erskine. It appealed (I sense the hand of Philip, see DofE awards above) because unlike many other charities, Invictus has an aspirational / development aspect to it.

85:

Greg: All the indicators are that, as Brexshit is an ongoing disaster for the UK, an "Independent" Snotland would be even further down in the shitpile & even worse off - but that's actual economics, not political willy-waving

Correct, but that's a short-term outlook.

Longer term: Scotland is currently under the control of a hegemonizing and unaccountable (to Scotland) political union run by Tories and Tory-lite Labour. The Tories are clearly following a trajectory that ends in outright fascism with a side order of an immense amount of corruption and, as Graydon notes, a total unwillingness to recognize actual facts when the facts contradict their ideology.

England is currently a de-facto one party state: even the choice ostensibly on offer is no choice at all -- it's either the Tories (who are close to indistinguishable from the BNP of ten years ago) or Labour (who under Starmer have triangulated even further to the right than Blair went, so that they're now a de-facto Thatcherite neoliberal party with the same racist anti-immigrant sentiment as the Tories of a decade ago).

If we (Scotland) remains part of the UK, then we will be dragged into the same fascist nightmare as the rest of the country. So leaving, while not a bed of roses, is desirable for reasons other than short-term economic benefit.

Arguing over the pros and cons of rejoining the EU at this point is premature, but I'd just like to note that the accusations of democratic unaccountability and uncaring dictatorial centralism that the Brexiters levied at the EU -- accusations which were baseless -- are in fact valid when pointed at Westminster, from Scotland.

86:

I agree with everything, except that we are already living in a fascist state - just one that is currently using its powers very gingerly and (by political standards) very subtly. "First they came for the socialists, ..." Well, I can assure you from both first-hand experiences and personal accounts, that they have already done just that. No, socialists have not been rounded up and sent to reeducation camps, but socialism has been deliberately, centrally and effectively suppressed in England.

You are rightly concerned about who they may go for after the people they claim are 'illegal immigrants', but I have actual, multiple experiences (if VERY minor, by comparison with what is going on to other people) of discrimination against me and mine, with the scary implication of what you fear. And I, my descendents, and at least six generations of ancestors, have never had ANY citizenship other than British or a right of residence anywhere other than the UK and its dependencies.

Yes, I am fully aware that, if I change residence to Scotland and it becomes independent, my tax bill would probably double. So? I would have to tighten my belt, but that would be a price well worth paying.

87:

You are being unfair. She was very young (married when only just 20), from a very cloistered background, somewhat immature and very insecure, and was thrust into a highly stressful marriage that her husband did not want. He didn't do well by her, either, though the blame for that as much with his upbringing and external forces as in himself. The marriage was obviously a stupid idea at the time, but TPTB were too bigotted to allow Charles to marry a divorcee.

She was desperate to find a role that was more than a brood mare, and had the choice of charities, which says a lot about her. So what if she played the publicity for all it was worth? She badly needed that, for her own self-esteem. And, as examples of her genuine care, influence and courage, she shook hands with AIDS patients in 1987 and walked into a minefield that was being cleaned up in 1997.

88:

Charlie
You are unfair to Starmer...
He HAS TO WAIT until the full disaster of Brexshit is apparent ( Some time between 6-18 months I'd say )
And THEN he can run the flag up, to throw this lot out ....
The cities in England are NOT controlled by the tories.

EC is much nearer the mark - they are doing it very gradually & surprisingly carefully, as they know that, if caught too soon, the game's up. Even I have decided that they MUST be stopped. [ It was the Sarah Everard vigil that tipped me off as to what they were doing ] - as EC says - I too have started quoting Niemöller.

EC@ 87
I blame Elisabeth of Glamis - I was never a fan & I put a lot of The Firm's troubles down to her controlling instincts.
HM-&-Phils marriage nearly collapsed in the 1950's - he went on a world tour to get away from mother-in-law & credible rumour says that he issued an ultimatum: "Wen I get back, she is in Clarence House & not ours!"

89:

Re: 'And, as examples of her genuine care, influence and courage, she shook hands with AIDS patients in 1987 and walked into a minefield that was being cleaned up in 1997.'

Agree. BTW - the Queen wasn't keen about these charity choices ('too unhappy').

Hell - Diana was a kid (20) when she signed up for the royal gig with lots of growing up still to do. And once signed up, she'd never be able/allowed to escape the public eye. Overall, I think she did a pretty good job of using that spotlight.

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1997/summary/

'The Nobel Peace Prize 1997 was awarded jointly to International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and Jody Williams "for their work for the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines."'


https://time.com/5682006/princess-diana-landmines/

Landmine clean-up is still going on.

90:

In THIS case, however, I have heard that it was an Archbishop of Canterbury and someone like the Lord Chancellor who first blocked him from marrying Camilla (way before Diana). But I am not a gossip-follower and my memory has faded, though the third paragraph of this may be correct:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camilla,_Duchess_of_Cornwall#Relationship_with_the_Prince_of_Wales

91:

We shall see about Starmer. He may be playing a canny game, but the evidence so far is that he is just yet another political shit.

92:

Finally, the old Common Law system was mostly written out of the code between the 1980s and early 2000s (in England and Wales...

My understanding is that while this is true of the law, it is not true of the land tenure. And it's hard to look at Brexit and not wonder how it's going to interact with the utility of land tenure.

93:

Celebrity & culture

Just based on general media coverage that I can recall, it seems that the UK and US are the most celebrity-obsessed*. And celebrities are outside one's immediate family. As to what this signifies about these cultures re: need for aspirational models, undeveloped sense of personal self-identity, group affiliation, etc. - maybe a closer look at the typical Brit/USian family dynamic and role of a neighborhood is needed.

* The check-out magazine stands (usu. Murdoch rags) regularly run headlines about celebrities including which moved to Europe to escape the spotlight. Seems that Europeans just shrug/say 'meh' when they see a celeb in their neighborhood.

Because these rags are English-language therefore probably also distributed in all Anglo countries, I'm curious as to how Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and Indian fandom compares re: overall incidence, demographics, fervor, etc.

94:

She got a couple of new dogs earlier this year, one corgi cross and another whose details I forget. She had planned to not replace her dogs but that's a hard plan to stick to as I found out myself. I'd planned not to replace mine but there's a couple cuddling up next to me as I write this.

95:

WrecksIt was an obvious disaster in ~18 months as of June 2016CE. So what's keeps Kier Starmer if you're right?

96:

paws
To you & me yes, we could see it coming ... but not to the general population & especially not to the people of Hartlepool, Boston, Carlisle etc. It's got to get to them, personally.
When it does, they'll scream blue murder, of course, though repairing the damage will take a very long time.
Re-joining the Single Market is the obvious & best first step back to sanity, I think.

97:

She had planned to not replace her dogs but that's a hard plan to stick to as I found out myself. I'd planned not to replace mine but there's a couple cuddling up next to me as I write this.

When the two dogs that grew up with our kids passed I got real firm about no new pets as my wife and I wanted to travel. And the kids were a year or few out of the house by then. My kids have gotten a total of 3 dogs and we watch them at our house periodically. Which satisfies my wife's desire to own one.

We have a well fenced back yard of about 1/6 acre and all the 4 legged visitors react as kids going to Disneyland. One lives daily life in an apartment and the other 2 are limited to maybe 1/20 acre back yard.

98:

The sheeple that haven't realised it by now aren't going to, because they take their prejudices from the media, and aren't prepared to think; the best that can be hoped for is that most of them will die off.

99:

I'm supporting Charlie here, but I would also add there is a very good economic case for Scottish Independence.

Even since Thatcher smashed the unions, the main fault line in economic interest in Britain has been between the manufacturing interests in Northern England and Scotland and the financial interests of the City of London. Thatcher, and the Tories since, (and Labor) have favored London's financial interests. An example of this was during the 1980s, the British pound rose on the back of Britain's oil production, and this rendered British manufacturing uncompetitive with European competitors, decimating British industry. The leaders of British industry begged Thatcher to ease the pound to give them a chance to adapt, but she would have none of it.

The Tories ambition seems to be to turn Britain into a larger version of Panama--an offshore financial haven that makes its living off dodgy financial transactions, mainly driven by the wealthy's desire for tax minimization.

One of the first regions that picked itself up after Thatcher had crashed all its traditional industries was Scotland, and Scotland now has a manufacturing and services economy that is fits into a modern, free-trade world.

The big thing that will happen if Scotland becomes independent is that it will be be able to fashion policies around its main economic drivers rather than those that favor the City of London. It will also be able to have sane, realistic economic policies as opposed to economics based on all the mythological drivel that emanates from the English establishment.

These will ensure Scotland's long term prosperity. In the short term, the disruption of becoming independent can be handled by two things: 1) a major stimulus building infrastructure and 2) competence--something in short supply in Westminster at the moment.

100:

DM @ 99
NO
I think the right-wing vulture capitalists will dismember Scotland first, as easy pickings ....

101:

Death of a spouse, yep. In the US, at least, for older spouses, the average survival is 5 years (my mom lasted about that after my father died).

I am 100% sure that I developed cancer 3 years after my late wife dropped dead, and we weren't together nearly that long.

102:

Bill Arnold @ 74: As an American, I usually have to poke a bit at things like "Belming Jimmy and the Act of Onion". Onion is a common substitution (even in the US) for Union, so was soon (via wikipedia) rabbitholing down witch hunting of the indicated era. (Ugh. Violent suppression of the weird, with shitty heuristics.)
"waiting for a duff" just got recorded as something that people do with cameras at the side of the tracks[1], perhaps waiting for someone "important" to go by. Three online slang dictionaries were not helpful. (Urban Dictionary is often the most useful for contemporary English-language slang. Easiest is to search for word or phrase and add keyword urban)

[1] more rabbitholing; tracks or track? In the US one usually crosses "the tracks" even if it's only a single pair of rails.

I got it from the context of "a hundred years or so, between the accession of" ... not sure about "belming", but I'm sure it's not complementary. I have some familiarity with James the VI & I because he's the king who had Sir Walter Raleigh beheaded and my home town has some small association with Raleigh.

And "a duff" is a common type of British locomotive (as I've been informed) and apparently "waiting for a duff" refers to non-railfans lining the right-of-way when a train carrying some important personage (or their body) is known to be coming by ... as happened with FDR in 1944 ... hoping to make some connection by catching a glimpse as the train passes.

Tracks plural because even on a single track line there are two rails.

103:

Elderly Cynic @ 98: The sheeple that haven't realised it by now aren't going to, because they take their prejudices from the media, and aren't prepared to think; the best that can be hoped for is that most of them will die off.

"Sheeple" - there's a nice FASCIST word that won't offend anyone.


104:

One thing I've noticed is hints of the first baby steps in the rehabilitation of Prince Andrew ... and it looks like Harry will be thrown to the wolves.

105:

I think the right-wing vulture capitalists will dismember Scotland first, as easy pickings ....

Good reason to write anti-capitalist laws. Which Scotland can't have in the UK, but can if independent.

Good reason to be in the EU, too.

106:

OT:
"My only interaction with the royal family ever was to walk across a stage during a graduation ceremony attended by a bored minor royal--the patron of the university I attended."

Being a decade older than Charlie, my graduation ceremony from a London University was to walk past and bow (a little) to Lizzie.

As my memory is fading, and it came up recently in conversation, does anyone on this comment thread know:

1. Where was the ceremony held? I recall it was some institution with a large hall with 2 seating tiers.
2. Was the ceremony for all London Univ. campuses? My memory suggests there were a large number of attendees, so I would guess yes.

As a side note, I did not wear a gown and I believe I was the only student not to do so.

107:

IIRC, British manufacturing had been in decline even before I was born in the 1950s. The 1960s saw successive devaluations of the pound but this did not translate into improved exports. By the 1970s Britain was "the sick man of Europe". I recall the "Buy British" campaign that became "please look at a British product before you buy foreign". Britain's manufacturing did improve in the 1980s by improving design and quality. The overvaluation of the USD until 1987 allowed Britain to export more, especially to the US (and US tourists flew to England to shop at Harrods in droves).

108:

She got a couple of new dogs earlier this year, one corgi cross and another whose details I forget. She had planned to not replace her dogs but that's a hard plan to stick to as I found out myself. I'd planned not to replace mine but there's a couple cuddling up next to me as I write this.

Good news. Thanks for the correction.

109:

Just to be a bit of a contrarian, but....

Well, there's all this stuff the Windsor firm owns, to the tune of about $28 billion.

Has anyone thought about whether getting rid of the crown will strip them of the assets? Or will it simply strip them of responsibilities and oversight, leaving them mildly annoyed and free to do something about it?

While I'm not fond of billionaires as a phenomenon, there's something to be said for nailing their feet in the spotlight and forcing them to be charitable, instead of, well, acting like other billionaire heads of state, like Vlad the Isotope Doser, IQ 45, or the House of Saud.

So unless dethroning the Windsors also entails nationalizing most of their assets, I'd plaintively ask whether it's a good idea or not.

110:

I glanced at that article, and the first few items were Crown property - effectively held in trust for the country. her personal wealth is rather less. But why on earth do you think that allowing the likes of Johnson to dispose of such things would be an improvement?

111:

Is it possible to opt out of a dictatorial society?

Not totalitarian of course - they (Maoist, Nazi, Khmer Rouge, Stalinist) never let anyone opt out.

But what about an emerging corrupt sham democracy run by wealthy elites more interested in making money and using political power to protect their wealth?

Is is possible to escape from such a society without actually leaving your current country?

Instead of crossing a Berlin Wall to freedom on the other side, you simply find freedom in living an obscure, simple life off by yourself and not interacting with the powers that be.

In a new feudalism is it possible to live independently outside the system like a high-tech medieval hermit, off the grid and self sustaining? Even doing that in cities. Forming sub-communities with like minded people.

Would you be left alone to live your life?

112:

And how long can a neo-feudalism (aka "libertarianism") hiding behind a sham democracy survive in the face of:

Aging demographics and shrinking populations (this short video does a great job of explaining what having fewer babies and more elderly does to capital markets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9zH1dWeKE0. This longer one shows what it will do to China: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTbILK0fxDY)

Economic disruption from global climate change (shifting of agricultural areas and food supply disruption, mass migration of people from hot zones, financial losses to seas side real estate)

And the unravelling of globalization (who need cheap third world labor when the factory floor is automated, factories that used to hire thousands now only need dozens, and 3D printing can produce anything you want locally).

Does it explain the uber-elites interest in New Zealand survival bunkers?

Does it all end in a bang or a whimper?

113:

Imagine an end game almost like the Roman Empire.

Population declining and aging, economy shrinking and trade ceasing, infrastructure crumbling, government becoming ever more irrelevant and expensive, a military becoming ever more powerful and ineffective, the elite consuming more and more wealth, and a population alienated and uncaring what happens.

But no barbarians swarming over the frontier.

114:

H
Ah - the usual mistake
The "crown" owns huge amounts - and all, literally 100% of the profits go to the Exchequer.
THEN, some of it is doled out, back to the Royal "household" ( wrong word there, but never mind ) as yearly expenses - this is the "Civil List". ACTUAL tax rate on royal "stuff" is about 85% or higher.
Which is why Chas wants to scrap it, keep the lot & then pay normal taxes, as if they were a commercial business & thus keeping a lot more moolah.
See also EC - Lizzies PERSONAL property is Sandringham & Balmoral - the other places would become the "president's residences" were we a republic - ok?

Duffy
But what about an emerging corrupt sham democracy run by wealthy elites more interested in making money and using political power to protect their wealth? Ah the Rethiglican-run sections of the USA as an example?

"Roman Empire"
In the end was hit by natural disasters: The Plague of Justinian & the volcanic eruption (?) that fucked-over Europe in ? 523 ?

115:

>Ah the Rethiglican-run sections of the USA as an example?

More like the whole world becoming like Putin's Russia - with the same demographic decline, intellectual stagnation and economic decay. Run by an oligarchy hiding behind sham democracies.

116:

Demographic collapse seems like the most likely thing, but here's a possibility-- extension of people's health spans. This seems at least possible, even though it would be legally... interesting, considering pension plans.

Still, it seems like better problems than just dying.

117:

Is it possible to opt out of a dictatorial society?

Technically, yes. As James C. Scott observes, Not Being Governed is hard. Not in the sense of living a rough life, though it is that too, but in giving up all the stuff that society normally provides for token amounts of participation.

Would you be left alone to live your life?

No, but governments quickly find limits on how cost effective it is to continue pestering nonconforming populations.

118:

There is some value in making the Royals titular rather than constitutional monarchs. The recent revelation that the monarch gets to see legislation before it is enacted to make changes that would otherwise affect the monarch would be ended, making legislation less biased towards those with wealth and position.

If what will be left of the UK makes the Royals titular, the state can reduce the funding of all but the immediate King and Queen and heir, cutting off the parasitical extended family. The Royals can still be the tourist draw that they seem to be, but they are then on their own.

119:

"Sheeple" - there's a nice FASCIST word that won't offend anyone.

It gets used a lot as a put down to pew sitters in the US who check their brains at the door of a chruch. It is a take off on Jesus as a shepherd leading his flock.

120:

baby steps in the rehabilitation of Prince Andrew

Given he was known for a while on the left side of the pond as "Randy Andy" and now seems to have ties (entanglements?) with Jeffrey Epstein's sex capades, rehabilitation may be hard.

121:

Imagine an end game almost like the Roman Empire. Population declining and aging, economy shrinking and trade ceasing, infrastructure crumbling, government becoming ever more irrelevant and expensive, a military becoming ever more powerful and ineffective, the elite consuming more and more wealth, and a population alienated and uncaring what happens. But no barbarians swarming over the frontier

You mean the shift to Byzantium with the abandonment of the less-functional provinces of western Europe? That's what actually happened.

The point here is to stop using the British version of "Fall of Rome" as a code, because a) it's poorly documented, b) it's myopic in scope (the dark ages were not worldwide or even Europe-wide), and c) it inspires all sorts of interesting fascist notions about which cocks should be sitting on top of the rubble pile and who needs to die, along with stupid conspiracies to make that sort of cleansing happen.

So what have we got:
1. Demographic transition coupled with resource depletion: meaning yes, it's worth getting freaked out about having aging parents taken care of by immigrant medical personnel. Unless (like me and I think some others on this blog) you end up married to one of those immigrant medicos and realize they're just people like your ancestors from three generations back, moved here to make a go of it in better circumstances. I'm pointing this out because demographic collapse usually has this undertone of white panic in it, and really, it's immigrants coming in and filling the spaces available. Will this continue under climate change? Of course. Does the skin color or ancestry of the immigrants doing the service matter? Not really. If you live in a place like the US, your ancestors were probably spat upon too, not very long ago

2. Government becoming irrelevant and expensive is SOOOOOO Bush II. Did you notice who stepped up to get people vaccinated and run the economy when the corporations took a dump during the pandemic? Government. The last four years have marked the utter failure of the Republican idea that the best government is no government, and the future won't prove otherwise. To be clear: people don't intrinsically need governments as a species, but keeping billions of people alive during this mess pretty much requires a bunch of central authorities really doing their best with the best people they can get.

3. Military becoming more powerful and ineffective? There's a lot of propaganda here. I won't argue that the US is a paragon of efficiency, because I can laugh about the F-35 and littoral combat ships as much as anyone. The problem is that we're finding out that infowar, cyberwar, and hybrid war really can take out a top line conventional military. The part we don't see in the US and UK is that our militaries are busily deploying those forces too, but not reporting on what's happening. We're only partially in dinosaur mode, and there's a lot of evolution going on too.

4. Elite consuming more and more wealth is an endemic problem going back to the bronze age if not long before. Dealing with it by revolution or redistribution is necessary, because said wealthy elites can't hack a pandemic (cf: Trump, Balsonaro, Putin...). So you're right, but that's a known problem. It's not inevitable, but it might happen.

5. Too many people are marching worldwide for anyone to say that no one cares what happens. Again, this is a very 2006 attitude.

Where does that leave us? With a whole lot of possibilities, ranging from catastrophically grim to strange. Status quo is not among them, nor is the mythical Fall of Rome. You're free: choose your adventure.

122:

Alex T
"The recent revelation" - only to the ignorant & uninformed, actually.
Also, Chas has made it clear that the "family firm" needs to be cut-down in size.
As usual people like you are worrying about yesterday's problems & NOT addressing that of the fascist oligarchy creeping up on us.
Same as the anti-slavery idiots, attacking people 200 years dead & ignoring slavery in China.

123:

On the original topic (!) & referring back to rocketjps @ 36 ...
The DoE Award Scheme" was started when I was at school ... and it was, probably deliberately mis-sold. If I had known it was the sort of thing described in # 36, I'd have been very interested indeed. But it was sold as an extension of "the wonderful team & jolly hockey sticks"
I made it very clear that it could be inserted, painfully, where the sun don't shine.
Which of course further blackened my reputation ...
There was absolutely no indication that it was for individuals, but sold as an exercise in spurts conformity.
I only gradually learnt differently, over 20-30 years later.

124:

I never even heard of the DOE AWS until I was to old to be allowed to participate, which may possible account to some extent in my disinterest in the entire House of Saxe-Battenburg-Windsor?

125:

I used to see a lot of DOE groups in the hills when I lived in the Peak District.

Lots of 16 year olds risking joint injuries by carrying twice as much weight as they needed. A line of lost teenagers staggering under the weight of 80l packs with huge amounts of crap hanging off the outside is quite distinctive.

126:

West of Scotland DofE wasn't even a heard of thing. If you wanted to join/do something like this you had the choice of Scouts/Guides (according to your gender) or BB, but no GB.

DofE might well have been a better fit for me, not least because it allowed mixed groups.

127:

Well, there's all this stuff the Windsor firm owns, to the tune of about $28 billion.

That article you linked to isn't actually true. Crown Estates aren't property of the royal family -- they're property of the Crown, i.e. the government. They're about as close to being owned by the Queen as an archaic entailed estate -- she can't actually sell them or control how they're used. It's like saying the White House is the personal property of Joe Biden.

My best guess is that if the UK were to suddenly become a republic all that stuff would become government possessions.

128:

that's a short-term outlook.

The LSE, when not currying favour with the government, would tend to agree

129:

The article seems to have been taken down. What did it say?

130:

In the case of an entire line of succession being wiped out, that is a kingdom finds itself in want of a rightful monarch, precedent is to find a rightful monarch in want of a kingdom and make him an offer. As it happens, there is one available. Like Farage, Karl has been a Member of European Parliament, though I suppose there would be interesting dynamics around Brexit. I gather he's some sort of mild conservative, so maybe not rabid enough for the current batch of Tories. It would be a fascinating development to find a Habsburg going to Britain, achieving what Charles I and Philip II failed to achieve. Armada schmarmada and all that.

131:

Quite a lot, but it got messed around so as not to offend the government.

TLDR: all the economic books for Scotland (and the UK nations in general) are cooked to make them look hopelessly dependent on subsidies from the centre: for example, to count all government spending in Scotland and on behalf of Scotland (including stuff Scotland doesn't want, such as Trident nuclear missiles) is allocated as expenses, while revenue raised from Scottish taxpayers and businesses isn't counted as income unless it's collected within Scotland. And also, all the projections for Scottish economic performance outside of the UK are based on the assumption that the Scottish government will rigidly pursue austerity policies charted by the Conservatives in England, won't have any recourse to tax-raising or bond issuing powers that an autonomous nation would have, and will be on the hook for a giant chunk of pre-existing UK government debt.

The point the article made was that these assumptions are all highly questionable and that a closer look at the actual figures suggest that Scotland could considerably outperform all predictions based on official UK government figures (and do so without significant oil revenue, which is the big accusation that got leveled at the SNP in 2014 -- that their independence plan was only viable if we continued to pump oil and the price spiked to over $100/bbl).

132:

>I'm pointing this out because demographic collapse usually has this undertone of white panic in it

The biggest demographic collapse is happening in China

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTbILK0fxDY

And has already happened in Japan:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iheEi6Mzu1s

And South Korea

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TNi98Z-QdE

And Iran, whose TFR is lower that that of France:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeianT8vrAQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y93ip0lMNJ8

Bottom line is that declining/aging populations eff with both government expenditures and capital markets.

There is no such thing a no-growth capitalism.

And an economy cannot grow while populations are declining and aging.


133:

You mean the shift to Byzantium with the abandonment of the less-functional provinces of western Europe? That's what actually happened.

You mean the empire lasted almost 900 years after Rome fell as a power center?

AMAZING?!?!?!?! [/sarcasm]

This bit was missing from my world history education in my teens. It only came up later in a broader study of history on my own.

And even then the "fall" wasn't so much an event as an end point to multiple factors.

134:

Personal worked example:-

I live and work in Scotland, and have a personal Scottish income tax code. However, the firm I am employed by has a head office in Hampshire, so money I make for them is treated as being "English revenue". However, the block grant that Holyrood is allowed by Westminster/Whitehall is augmented by the Barnett formula in partial compensation for this.

136:

My best guess is that if the UK were to suddenly become a republic all that stuff would become government possessions.

How long before it was privatized, or at the very least leased to a PPE for nominal rent with the taxpayer on the hook for repairs and maintenance but the private partners getting any income it generated?

137:

I live and work in Scotland, and have a personal Scottish income tax code. However, the firm I am employed by has a head office in Hampshire,

In the US the last year has caused a lot of fights between states.

Massachusetts vs. New Hampshire.
Lots of people live in NH but work in Mass. Overall taxes are lower. But with work at home the people are wanting all the Mass taxes to go away as they don't enter the state anymore. Even though they have a "seat" in Mass.

And the opposite in places like New York / New Jersey. NJ wants to tax the income of all of those work at home folks who haven't commuted into the city of NY for a year now. And have NY/NYC not collect any.

Lawsuits will go on for this for a while.

As a side note my wife's unemployment coverage was dictated by Texas UI system but day to day administered by NC where she now lives. Lots of paperwork to keep straight plus several retroactive things due to the way Congress wrote the pandemic specific laws. "Who's on first?" daily at times.

138:

How long before it was privatized, or at the very least leased to a PPE for nominal rent

The UK isn't going to become a Republic under the current Conservative kleptocracy, so that question is unanswerable. My guess is any post-monarchical regime would be a junta or dictatorship of some form, probably hard right in theory but with radical wealth redistribution policies on the ground (at least for members of the ancien regime).

139:

"The recent revelation" - only to the ignorant & uninformed, actually.

When and how did you know that the monarchy could change laws before they were to be voted on? Clearly you had knowledge that journalists are only now reporting on to us plebians.

As usual people like you are worrying about yesterday's problems & NOT addressing that of the fascist oligarchy creeping up on us.

Whatever mind-reading machine you used to divine my thoughts, I suggest it might need some recalibrating, or that you pointed it at the wrong head. Try using my social media posts as a baseline to calibrate your technology. ;)

140:

Regrettably, I can see a possible path to it happening, via a Blairite landslide (*) and then a restoration of the open Conservative kleptocracy. But, even if that happened, it wouldn't be before the end of this decade. It's nearly as unlikely as England applying to become a USA state, though.

(*) With a smokescreen of 'democratisation', much as That Blair emitted to increase our level of fascism.

141:

There is a web page on a programming Wiki called Why Is Payroll Hard?. The author has the scars from trying to implement a new payroll system for Chrysler.

One entry in the bullet list is:

There are approximately 50 states and 300 communities' taxes to be dealt with, including reciprocity. (If you work in A and live in B, you can pay the lower of the two communities' taxes. But if you live in B and work in A ...).
142:

The title of Duke of Edinburgh has been inherited by Prince Charles, along with Philip's other titles.
Although it was announced that Edward would get the title, it appears that this will be when Charles takes the throne and all his previous titles revert to the Crown, making them available to be bestowed again.

143:

Rbt Prior @ 136
Exactly.
What we have, presently is much more sensible ....
Incidentally, there are a couple of wierdos in the "Crown" properties - Buck House is the official residence of the Head of State - like the Elysee Palace in Paris - not a problem, Sandringham is personal private property - but ... Windsor Castle is the odd one out. It's a national historic monument & it's Queenie's favoutite hole close to London & it's also Crown Estates & also "English Heritage". Um.

Alex Tolley
The monarch/head of state has to have sight of the papers, if only to comment & annotate - as for "change the law" - the last example known of was when it was proposed to make homosexuality illegal, back in the mid-1800's & Vicky refused, point-blank to believe that Lesbianism existed, so it was never criminalised(!) It's also an extra form of proof-reading ( I think we all know about the screw-ups that happen in proof-reading? )

EC & Charlie
I think that BoZo is really pushing much too hard & that this (mis)government might just make it to 2024, but the open corruption & incompetence are already showing, even to the uninformed - & that it will collapse in vicious internal recriminations - over Brexshit & the Union & the economic collapse.

145:

Back in the 80s our small insurance agency software company was working with the big companies. One day walking through a floor of various programmers at the Hartford I noticed a stack of fan fold printout that was in binders and 3' in total. I started to ask what his job was then saw "Workers Comp" written in marker on the sides of the printouts.

We sold software to automate offices of 1 to 5 people mostly. (We had a few that were near 100 but they were rare.) We would get asked about implementing payroll. We never budged from "No, nope, nopity nope nope."

HR at my wife's job was interesting. They operated in 40+ states at any one time plus a few dozen countries. And 13 or so union contracts. Getting a straight answer to most questions took some time.

146:

I actually like having a monarchy, as I've said before around here:

1. Its better than an elected head of state because the HoS should be a unifying figure, and elections are divisive by nature; there is always going to be a substantial part of the population who didn't vote for the winner.

2. It puts people with a multi-generational perspective at the heart of the government. When Trump came over on his state visit it was Charles who lectured him about global warming. Everyone else was more concerned with the short-term diplomatic games.

(It was also fun to watch Trump wetting his pants with excitement over being treated as an equal to the Queen of England)

The one thing that does bother me about the Monarchy is the human rights angle; it condemns a baby to life in a gilded cage merely because of who its parents were. Mostly we just see the gilding, and yes its a very big cage, but it is still a cage, and like an animal in a zoo you can never get rid of all the people peering at you through the bars. I imagine that it bothers those born into the royal family somewhat less because they grew up with it and are used to it, but many of those who marry into the family seem to have lots of difficulty adapting to life in captivity. Harry has spent most of his life trying to get out of the cage; for a while the Army provided a temporary escape hatch (just imagine: a life where being in the Army looks more like freedom than being a civilian). Then he married Megan. She seems to have simply refused to accept imprisonment, and that gave him the impetus to break out himself.

Somewhere I read an ethical riddle about a perfectly peaceful and happy society which depends for its existence on some child being tortured (warning: TV Tropes). Britain is not that, but the Monarchy kind of shades it that way.

147:

It's been an open secret for many, many decades (my grandfather told me about it, and it's something he knew about from his time in the Civil Service during WW2). That journalists are only reporting on it now is because they've only got interested in the changes that royal influence has introduced in the last few years.

Unfortunately, when there's something well-understood in specific circles that interests journalists for the first time in a while, they will present it as "new" news, not as a rehash of old things they've just discovered.

148:

Charlie, Krugman is in-joke stealing from you....
"Financial industry types often talk about the FAANGs: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google"

149:

You're talking "off the grid". That works, if you care to live like that... or at least until the land you're living on becomes of importance to the Powers That Be.

150:

I have to admit to being somewhat amused by yct about "the unraveling of globalization", when a) auto manufacturers use a *lot* of robots, and b) the "War on Coal", which is actually the "War on Coal Miners", who are heavily unionized... of whom, in the seventies, there were about 780k in the US, and are now 78k, due to mountaintop removal, and giant machinery.

Oh, and the recent fun and games in the Suez Canal, and the screaming that we can't hear over JIT stocking as a failure.

151:

Paul
The story you were looking for was by ( of course ) Ursula Le Guin, it's called "Those who walk away from Omelas" & there is a recording of her reading it - originally on LP disc ( Yes I have it )
Damn, but we need her, here, now.

152:

David L @ 119:

"Sheeple" - there's a nice FASCIST word that won't offend anyone.

It gets used a lot as a put down to pew sitters in the US who check their brains at the door of a chruch. It is a take off on Jesus as a shepherd leading his flock.

It's also a favorite word for Ammosexual FASCISTS, Boogaloo FASCISTS, QAnon FASCISTS, Trumpolinist FASCISTS, Looney-Tune Libertarian FASCISTS and right-wingnut fascist FASCISTS for putting down anyone who does not unquestioningly accept their particular brand of fascism.

It's a FASCIST word and if you don't want people to think that YOU might be a fascist too, you shouldn't use it. Plus it's demeaning, just like using ethnic slurs to label people.

I don't really understand why this word in particular offends me so much, but it gets on my nerves and I think less (MUCH less) of people who use it. It's evidence the user's ignorance is far deeper than that of the target group they're contemptuously belittling.

153:

David L @ 120:

baby steps in the rehabilitation of Prince Andrew

Given he was known for a while on the left side of the pond as "Randy Andy" and now seems to have ties (entanglements?) with Jeffrey Epstein's sex capades, rehabilitation may be hard.

That's why I think THEY are using the current distraction as cover to conceal the agenda.


154:

Robert Prior @ 136:

My best guess is that if the UK were to suddenly become a republic all that stuff would become government possessions.

How long before it was privatized, or at the very least leased to a PPE for nominal rent with the taxpayer on the hook for repairs and maintenance but the private partners getting any income it generated?

It would happen faster than the speed of sound, but less than the speed of light.

155:

the HoS should be a unifying figure, and elections are divisive by nature

The monarchy is only conditionally unifying. For example, the British monarchy was totally not unifying prior to Catholic (and Jewish and nonconformist) emancipation in the 1830s-1860s: it symbolized an institutional religious apartheid. That's mostly papered over these days, but as the UK becomes majority-atheist the days of having a minority most-favoured religion (only 5-10% of the population are CofE communicants these days: it's behind Catholicism and Islam, IIRC), that the monarch is head of the church looks increasingly out of touch.

Again, it's not unifying if the monarch has a political agenda of their own. The Queen getting to comment on legislation that affects the monarchy directly is just about plausible, if extremely dodgy on grounds of institutional corruption. But I note that Edward VIII was gotten rid of for being far too close to that nice Mr Hitler back in 1936. Charles has raised eyebrows by writing to cabinet ministers about policy matters. And it'd be extremely easy for a future monarch to cross the line from unifying to intensely divisive -- if, for example, they picked a side publicly over a knotty issue like Brexit. (Yes, according to rumour the Queen leaned towards Leave. But then, the Queen doesn't have to give a damn about the economy or freedom of movement, she and her family are set for life.) At least she kept it low-key. If King Henry IX were to say "I think you should all vote Conservative at the next election", that'd ... well, it wouldn't be pretty.

TLDR: monarchy is palatable only to the extent it converges with a ceremonial rather than an executive head of state. The best monarch is one whose duties could be discharged by a stuffed toy, or my pet cat. Activist monarchs are terrible. And sooner or later, almost any dynastic system will throw up an activist.

156:

Nope, FAANGs has been in common usage in tech sector coverage for a couple of years. I didn't invent it, and neither did Paul.

(If they were PHANGs, that'd be another matter ...)

157:

You want to be careful using that word. You wouldn't want to wake the sheeple.

158:

It's a FASCIST word

I assumed it was a left-looney word, because I first heard "sheeple" from people on the left-looney-fringe, raving against government and corporate conspiracies…

This was back in the 80s.

So I'm not convinced it was a fascist word, per se, so much as an anti-authoritarian one. Have the fascists taken it over, like they did with "fake news"?

159:

"Instead of crossing a Berlin Wall to freedom on the other side, you simply find freedom in living an obscure, simple life off by yourself and not interacting with the powers that be."

The problem is that bad societies tend to find you, and that that's not really free, IMHO.

Having to radically alter your life to avoid being f*cked over is not being free.

160:

I used to hear the word Sheeple in flaky hippy circles. The last 15 or so years I've mostly heard it used by antivaxers when talking about we sheeple who meekly believe the scientists rather than the mommy bloggers.

Whatever its origin, it has definitely become a major word choice of right wingnuts of all stripes, do define all those of us who are not their particular brand of right wingnut.

161:

"You're talking "off the grid". That works, if you care to live like that... or at least until the land you're living on becomes of importance to the Powers That Be."

Or to people who have themselves been pushed, or to people fighting back blindly against the interlopers being pushed (i.e., you)....

162:

That's very one-sided. Yes, that's true - but a demogogic autocracy, even an elective one, positively selects for such undesirable monarchs or oligarchies. Out of the last seven prime ministers, we have had at least five who were - that's a pretty bad record compared to our (very patchy) sovereigns in the days when they WERE sovereign.

The key factor here is to avoid autocracies, and Parliament was for a long time the control on the autocracy of the Sovereign. Now, with a dominant party being able to control both the Sovereign's powers and Parliament, what control is there on it?

163:

Charlie
EXCEPT ... Both Phil the Greek & Chas have been very vocal about conservation issues - which are now political - they were not when they started, were they? The Duchess of Cambridge made a political statement by going to the Sarah Everard vigil, which the police-white-wing establishment pretended they hadn't heard or seen ......
According to other rumours, HM leant towards "Remain", for family & historical reasons. YMMV.
See also EC

What do you do when a democratically elected government or PM or President is an autocratic Traitor?
( The US got rid of IQ 45 - but there's now a desperate fight to get voting reform in place, before the R's re-institute Jim Crow & KKK rule - yes? ) We have a lying trator in charge of a legal misgovernment, bent on wrecking the place, just to suit themseleves ...
and you are worried about the MONARCH?

See also slavery, statues & the PRC.

164:

It's been used by a lot of such people. It is, however, the only appropriate word for the large proportion of the electorate who take their opinions from the media etc., even when those are obviously self-contradictory or in flatly in conflict with the facts available.

As is pretty clear, I will have no truck with the linguistic fascism, which tells the public what words they must and must not use.

165:

"Sheeple" is essentially a conspiracy-theorist's word: it is a word conspiracy theorists use to dismiss everyone who "buys the official explanation" (i.e. does not buy into their nonsense). And back in the 1980's conspiracy theories were more of a left-wing phenomenon. Nowadays they are more of a right-wing phenomenon, by far. Hence "sheeple" is far more likely to be used by Qcumbers and such.

166:

I think there's been a cognitive bias at large in the world that associates "flaky hippy" groups with the left, but I think that is a category error and always has been. It quite possibly simply didn't arise much back before the crest of the hippy wave, which was above all anti-normative and to a limited extent anti-establishment, but which didn't really embed its own politics (each hippy group developed its own). One of the key developments of the 60s was that non-conformity could be extremely lucrative when marketed the right way (anti-conformity can after all be a kind of paradoxical conformism too, as generations of "rebellious" fashions demonstrate). I believe there always were extreme right-"libertarian" hippies and everything in between, just like feminist language about empowerment always had a Randian twist in certain circles, something that (kinda sorta) predates second wave (Rand was resurfacing some early 20th centurey/late colonialist tropes in a different context).

I think there are understandable and even justifiable reasons for this bias, and it certainly doesn't always lead to the wrong answers, but it's worth checking for now and then.

167:

The few years of my life where I was adjacent to or partially within 'flaky hippies' taught me that for the most part they were anti-establishment and/or 'dropouts' of various forms.

My time in that mental space was in and after the Clayoquot Sound protests of the early 90s. There is a population just ripe for dissection into its component groups - from Troskyists to Tories with Composters. The main themes were some definite in/out group dynamics (which I think are common in all populations), and some baby/bathwater rejection of logic in a blanket rejection of 'establishment' thinking.

So while rejecting the mammonite neoliberal 'consensus' about what is important and Just was a part of it, so was rejecting the (purportedly) neoliberal 'consensus' about the utility and purpose of vaccines. Other bizarre in-group thought police notions were about the importance of marijuana and the utility of VW vans. (Marijuana - who cares, VW vans - occasionally working piles of junk).

168:

The recent revelation that the monarch gets to see legislation before it is enacted to make changes that would otherwise affect the monarch would be ended, making legislation less biased towards those with wealth and position.

Judging by what's been revealed of Charles' letters to the Government, it would be the opposite. It's the current government that adjusts tax laws to benefit those with wealth, while the Heir to the Throne is the one campaigning for conservation, climate-friendly policy, consideration for minorities, etc, etc.

Remember the screeching from the Daily Heil when Charles made a passing comment that a more appropriate title for the Monarch might possibly be "Defender of Faiths" rather than "Defender of the Faith"?

169:

"What do you do when a democratically elected government or PM or President is an autocratic Traitor?

Ask an Australian about their governor-general's "reserved powers". Firing a government when needed it good - one of the leader of the opposition's old mates firing a government when it's not needed is less good.

That sort of constitutional surprise is why I'm very conservative about major constitutional changes. Constitutional powers often turn out not to be what was expected by the people who wrote them.

Roles of heads of state rely as much on soft power as on the written word of the constitution. And what constrains that is tradition. When you lack several decades of tradition, things get fluid. Hitler's subversion of the Chancellor's role in Germany is an extreme example, but Mary Robinson's transformation of the role of the "ceremonial" position of the president in Ireland is a more typical example.

If you mess with embedded traditions then the new constitutional order may not be what you expect.

(Yes, constitutional traditions didn't constrain Trump as much as they should have - but honestly they're all that did)

170:

Wait, you think that your lord&master, his grace, the cat, *isn't* running things?

171:

Ok, on this, I can speak authoritately... being a hippy. Yes, when I moved away from home, I put together a small commune in an apartment. I wrote an occasional column for the Distant Drummer, Philly's underground. Then my first wife got the job of typesetting the paper.

The idea that most hippies were "non-political" was propaganda. Trust me, at least 90% of us were political... given the draft and the threat of being sent to 'Nam. Most of the hippies I hung out with went to demonstrations.

Plastic hippies - the ones from the 'burbs who put on their plastic love beads and came to hang with the hippies on weekend should be excluded.

As the War wound down, and then Tricky Dick forced out, the Movement, to a large degree, collapsed - we were mostly under 30, and had spent since '65 fighting against the war, and the Civil Rights movement fed into the hippies; that's a long time at that age.

The capitalists saw marketing potential, packaged some of the look, and sold it to the plastic hippies, then to more folks our age. Hell, they did tours of Haight-Ashbury (and it was reported in the undergrounds that some folks ran along with the buses, holding up mirrors (you want to see freaks? take a look).

It was a *small* movement, but was great for headlines. This time around, a lot more people are coming out, and they haven't spent 10 or 15 years fighting a War. And they see that this will affect their lives, as much as that did ours... so I don't expect anything to fall apart in the movements now for at least another 10 years or more.

172:

(Thread is already rambling a bit, so)
Fascinatingly effective Antifa activities exposing and disrupting white supremacist(/Nazi) rallies. Basically,
- Activists infiltrated white supremacist online groups, some of them encrypted telegram groups, and captured messages and trolled competently a bit. Even set up some honeypot groups. Pathetic COMSEC(/OPSEC) for these white supremacist groups, but probably a lot of variation with some cells competent.
- Plenty of activists were ready and willing to show up in the flesh, and they actually showed up at counter-rallies.

Not sure how (or whether) to map such tactics to the fascism emerging in the UK, since it's also emerging within a government that can and does squelch protests and would severely punish infiltrators(/data exfiltrators) of their communications (if the data exfiltrators were caught). (I do not approve of the doxing, fwiw.) I hope UK activists devise effective tactics to fight this.

'White Lives Matter' rallies flop as hardly anyone shows up - The poor turnout underscores how the country's unpopular and disorganized extremist movements have been driven underground. ... The march was organized on the encrypted messaging platform Telegram over the last month with a call for nationwide action. (April 11, 2021, Brandy Zadrozny)

CVAntifa - Fighting the fash in Corvallis, Oregon (8 April, 2021)
"This event was organized on Telegram and was widely circulated in White Supremacist circles on beginning in late March. We have obtained logs from the, “ADMINS OF WLM ZONE” chat, where individual march leaders coordinated and planned their actions."

VICE is in the doghouse now for other reasons, but
Leaked Chats Show ‘White Lives Matter’ Movement in Shambles After Antifa Infiltration - “What an absolute garbage dumpster fire,” one Telegram user wrote. (Tess Owen, April 9, 2021)

Dailybeast:
Infiltrators Are Sabotaging the Proud Boys’ ‘White Lives Matter’ Day - COVER BLOWN - Extremists tried to make planned rallies look like a grassroots movement—but their secret chats have been leaked. (Kelly Weill, Apr. 09, 2021)

Long thread of social media image caps (since many will be deleted) of the rally day (linked also on cstross twitter):

White Lives Matter's terrible, awful, downright no good day 🤣 pic.twitter.com/f7FqZAJbIa

— Gwen Snyder is uncivil (@gwensnyderPHL) April 11, 2021

Oh, and new moon in several hours: https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/

173:

Now, THAT's a good conspiracy theory, if ever there was one!

Harking back to the first use here, are you SERIOUSLY denying that the majority of the people who were sold the Brexit myth did not fully justify the term sheeple?

We know damn well how the various charlatans, crooks and demagogues sold the myth, that they dominate the UK media, and how they prevented both BBC and ITV from laying into it. That didn't stop the facts from being well-known, easily checkable, and half of the electorate ignored those ignored in favour of the myth they were being sold.

Examples in the other topic where various publics have swallowed a pack of lies justifying for an unnecessary war, the evilness of a subgroup, and so on, are also relevant. Any electorate that doesn't think for themselves deserve the name of sheeple. If you disagree, then propose another and justify it.

174:

Martin
Exactly - Chas, as a member of the HoL was - effectively - doing his constitutional duty by responding to a "constituent's" worries, as a n MP in the HoC would.
Of course, this got up some peole's noses.

whitroth/Bill Arnold
Indeed ... how do we protect ourselves against BoZo & the truly evil people behind him?
One thing - protest rallies are not the way, ISTM.

175:
Early designs featured a flotation and ballasting system and active motion compensation system to facilitate a controlled transfer of a topsides’ weight from the vessel to a platform substructure. Allseas developed the original idea to include steel jacket installation, jackets and topsides removal and rigid pipelay capabilities

Sounds like something quoted directly from The Structural Dynamics of Flow by Michael Dorman.

176:

Elderly Cynic @ 173 "Any electorate that doesn't think for themselves deserve the name of sheeple. If you disagree, then propose another and justify it."

I've never seen that word before and I read the BBC news site and USA news sites in a regular fashion. It's obscure.

Just use "sheep". It's been used as a metaphor many times before. It's clear.

Hey, the word "sheeple" makes me think of cartoon sheep jumping around in a steeplechase competition, like the sheep in F'murr's BDs.

https://www.bdfugue.com/le-genie-des-alpages-t-3-barre-toi-de-mon-herbe

177:

I thought part of what shrank the counter-culture was an increase of violence. Skimming the wikipedia article, there was a lot of violence at Altamont, and the Hell's Angels were a big problem.

In a discussion of Summer of Love by Lisa Mason, I was surprised at the amount of rape in the book, and a woman who was there said it was accurate. Mind you, I don't know about the amount of rape in the earlier counterculture.

178:

"The last four years have marked the utter failure of the Republican idea that the best government is no government"

Eh, what? This has never remotely been an idea of the Republicans or even Libertarians. How did you confuse Republicans with anarchists? The Republican Party has always been solidly in favor of massive government.

179:

Since the conversation has moved on.

1. Currently, SpaceX has 1380 Starlink satellites. How long until Starlink satellites comprise the majority of active satellites in orbit? I've seen that there are 2400 active satellites in orbit, but I'm not sure if the source is trustworthy.

2. The technology to remove space debris has been more successful than I anticipated a few months ago
https://www.npr.org/2021/03/21/979815691/new-effort-to-clean-up-space-junk-prepares-to-launch
https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/04/the-era-of-reusability-in-space-has-begun/

3. Neuralink has attached a chip in a monkey to get it to play video games with its mind. He plans to test it on humans by the end of the year

4. As per our discussion in the previous thread, and since this is a British blog, I have the following question: If Argentina bought Chinese carrier-killer missiles or Turkish Bayraktar drones, could they conquer the Falkland Islands?

180:

It's not THAT obscure - according to the OED, it's as common as privateer or runcible. Apparently, it originated in the Musical Times in 1945, so it could be said to have been invented by proto-hippies :-)

181:

I've never seen that word before and I read the BBC news site and USA news sites in a regular fashion. It's obscure.

Seems to have 2 common usages. The ones described here in terms of politics. And in a lot of (US?) Christian circles when talking about pew sitters who check their brains at the door.

182:

Outside of most of Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, most of the rest of the world is at or below replacement

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependencies_by_total_fertility_rate#/media/File:TFR-HighRes-2020.png

183:

Elderly Cynic @ 180: "...it's as common as privateer or runcible."

I like runcible because it rhymes with fencible, which is pretty obscure too.

184:

Is there any definition runcible that isn't part of 'runcible spoon'?

185:

Not sure. Perhaps national propositions, to allow citizens to push an act when the legislature won't. Perhaps a way to have "standing" in the courts, if you cannot *directly* show harm.

Protests, on the other hand... there are a *lot* of folks out there who feel alone, "all the folks around me say... am I the only one who thinks...?", and protests tell them no, they're not, and yes, we can do something.

Kept us going during the Civil Rights Movement, and 'Nam, in the States. Is keeping folks going on police violence.

186:

Nope. That was a huge amount of media coverage, and the right and the media wanted to see Altamont as the anti-Woodstock. However... come on, the Angels are only one small motorcycle club, they had no national affiliates or any such.

And, as I was saying, the media was trying to play the hippies as non-political, and not active in the antiwar movement.

187:

It's a nonce, a nonsense word. They explain it in the wiktionary:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/runcible

188:

What I find really interesting in that article is the drawing by Lear himself, which features a runcible spoon without any prongs, in contrast to most definitions I came across.

189:

ioan
First - they've got to get the money
Second - a Daring-class destroyer has a lot of missiles in its tanks
Third - there are RAF aircraft at Stanley
Fourth - any Argentine shipping to the Falklands has to get past the RN's hunter/killer subs.

Ongaku
Maybe not - I have a Runcible Hat, for instance!

190:

Apparently, [sheeple] originated in the Musical Times in 1945

Google Ngram Viewer indicates that, though around, the term didn't really start to be used for another forty years. As an interested observer of the US political loonscape, I've been familiar with it for many years. "Wake Up, Sheeple!" is a standing joke.

191:

Robert Prior @ 158:

It's a FASCIST word

I assumed it was a left-looney word, because I first heard "sheeple" from people on the left-looney-fringe, raving against government and corporate conspiracies…

This was back in the 80s.

So I'm not convinced it was a fascist word, per se, so much as an anti-authoritarian one. Have the fascists taken it over, like they did with "fake news"?

Yes, they have. It's become part of the language of hate.

I probably shouldn't let it anger me so, but it gets my hackles up. You should call someone "sheeple" anywhere it would be appropriate to call them "untermenschen" ... or "n*gger".


192:

zephvark @ 178:

"The last four years have marked the utter failure of the Republican idea that the best government is no government"

Eh, what? This has never remotely been an idea of the Republicans or even Libertarians. How did you confuse Republicans with anarchists? The Republican Party has always been solidly in favor of massive government.

"I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

It's their rhetoric. They only want to keep those parts of government that give them power to oppress the rest of us. Any part of government that benefits us has got to go.

193:

Ongaku @ 184: Is there any definition runcible that isn't part of 'runcible spoon'?

I believe he also mentioned "runcible cats" and "runcible hats".

194:

Ongaku @ 188: What I find really interesting in that article is the drawing by Lear himself, which features a runcible spoon without any prongs, in contrast to most definitions I came across.

Perhaps, based on the drawing, a "runcible spoon" is an "impractical spoon" ... impractical works as a substitute word in the other uses I'm aware of ... "runcible cat" and "runcible hat"


195:

Bollocks. Both of those two words are associated with historic oppression of the worst order, whereas sheeple is not.

196:

Here's why I was asking: I doubt that Xi would invade Taiwan unless he did a Spanish Civil War-style test of his weapons systems. This is the only scenario I could come up with that wouldn't trigger WWIII due to mutual defense agreements.

My other impression is that the discussion in the previous thread was so high level that people weren't paying attention to much to the limitation of Chinese weaponry. Perhaps analyzing this example could change that?

197:

"Sheeple" is a modern form of "lumpenproletariat". Both terms mean "people who are too ignorant and stupid to agree with me".

198:

No, they don't - and sheeple doesn't even imply that. It refers to people who are too idle (yes, stupid or ignorant, but those are lesser reasons) to actually think for themselves, especially in the context of believing what they are told by demagogues.

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/lyndon_b_johnson_137074

If you dislike the term then, as I said above, propose another and justify it.

199:

Strongly Seconded.

200:

And why are they so "idle"? Because they think they have better things to do. Why do they think that? Because they are too stupid and ignorant to know better.

Words like "sheeple" and "lumpenproletariat" carry a very definite message:

1. They divide people into an Elite who understand the Great Truth (as defined by the user of the word) and a larger mass of people who do not. (There is also the category of Reactionaries who do understand the Great Truth but choose to oppose it for nefarious reasons of their own).

2. They denigrate the larger mass as being some combination of Ignorant (in which case they must be educated) and Stupid (in which case they are not competent to decide). The test for this is their reaction to being told the Great Truth; if they accept the Great Truth then they were Ignorant but are now part of the Elite. If they reject the Great Truth then they must be Stupid.

3. Stupid people cannot be trusted to make decisions for themselves. Therefore it is the duty of the elite who do understand the Great Truth to ensure that the right decisions are taken in spite of the opposition of the Stupid.

Thus the use of such terms is the first step on the road to overthrowing democracy and replacing it with a dictatorship of the Elite.

This framework applies to any Great Truth, whether that be communism, antivax, flat earthism, capitalism, socialism, or any religion. It also applies to Great Truths that many of us hold dear, such as democracy, freedom of speech, the rule of law and stopping global warming.

The issue is not whether your Great Truth is actually true or not, it is the language you use to describe those who disagree with you.

So I am not going to propose yet another synonym for the same broken concept. I am simply going to note that there are people who disagree with me and move on. In the past I've found that my ideas were wrong sufficiently often that I no longer trust my own views. I find it is more profitable to engage with those who disagree rather than simply writing them off as too ignorant or stupid to agree with me. My practice of this attitude is not always perfect, but I keep trying.

201:

Perhaps that's for the best since your last is a lengthy restatement of Orwell's definition of the proletariat and their reason(s) for not rebelling from 1984.

202:

FWIW,given the current most frequent users of "Sheeple",an old bit of verse comes to mind: "Known by the company one keeps".

203:

Did John Brunner write a novel called "The Sheeple Look Up"?

No!

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

204:

To summarise: Calling people sheep in order to change their minds is a baaaaad strategy.

205:

Do you mean this one? https://bygosh.com/poems/judged-by-the-company-one-keeps/

One night in late October,
When I was far from sober,
Returning with my load with manly pride,
My poor feet began to stutter,
So I lay down in the gutter,
And a pig came near and lay down by my side;
Then we sang “It’s all fair weather when good fellows get together”,
Till a lady passing by was heard to say:
“You can tell a man who boozes,
By the company he chooses”,
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.
206:

Re: 'And why are they so "idle"? Because they think they have better things to do.'

Or ... they're exhausted, have zero learning opportunity/access nor adequate psychosocioeconomic support.

Sheep - don't recall any stories where sheep don't need to constantly graze because of their herbivore digestive system constraints. In contrast to pterry's intellectual camels (e.g., You Bastard) whose better energy/fat reserve systems allow them to lift their heads up out of the feeder bin/grass patch, look, wonder and puzzle out their place in the world.

My guess is that when a group is being trash-talked, the trasher hasn't taken a close enough look at the system (components & process) leading to this result. Yeah - some stuff is random but if the stats keep building up, it's probably a systems thing. And ignoring this is a sign of intellectual laziness, i.e., projection on the trasher's part. Full circle - you get that a lot with systems.


207:

If Argentina bought Chinese carrier-killer missiles or Turkish Bayraktar drones, could they conquer the Falkland Islands?

Nope.

Firstly, buy them with what money? AIUI the Argentinian military is still running on left-overs from the 1980s -- for some reason civilian governments aren't enthusiastic about throwing money at an institution which historically has form for military coups, death squads, and failing at wars.

Secondly, there's more than missiles to conquest: the missiles might be useful against the RAF Typhoon squadron at Stanley, but completely beg the question of what happens a couple of weeks later when a pair of Astute-class SSNs show up and start sinking the Argentinian navy, while the army still needs some way of supplying whoever pulls the short straw and gets sent to occupy the Falklands.

And that's before Boris Johnson -- aka Clownshoes Churchill -- takes the god-given opportunity to dress up in Margaret Thatcher drag and send a QE class carrier down the Atlantic to distract everyone from COVID/Brexit/his latest sex-or-corruption-or-both scandal.

On the other hand ... about 80% of the Falklands economy depends on squid exports to Spain, and you know what Brexit has done to UK fish exports in general (down 98%) due to paperwork requirements. All Buenos Aires has to do is wait six months and Johnson will be offering them money to take the by-then-bankrupt Falklands off his hands.

Indeed we've been here before in 1980-81, and if the Junta had just sat back and waited HMG would have offloaded the Falklands onto them in good time. Hopefully the current civilian leadership have read the history books and are playing it sensibly this time.

208:

Yes, I do. I think of it often of late when talking to the FOX-poisoned.

209:

Article in The Economist here.

The gist is that the typical new Tory voter in the "Red Wall" constituencies is probably living in a new Barratt housing estate (Barratt prefers to call them "places") that they could afford because house prices Oop North are low, and home owners tend to vote Tory. The last paragraph of the article concludes:

There is an egalitarianism to Barratt Britain. Accountants, teachers, sales reps, plasterers and driving instructors live on the same street, and the smaller choice of pubs and restaurants means they socialise together, too. As long as mortgages remain affordable and petrol is cheap, it is not a place that worries much about politics. That is a boon for the government, and a problem for Labour. “When you knock on the door of a big new house,” asks a shadow minister, “how do you tell the people living there that the country is going wrong?”

So, are these people "exhausted, have zero learning opportunity/access nor adequate psychosocioeconomic support", or just people who happen to disagree with you?

To me this looks like another example of that irregular verb: I know the facts, you have opinions, he's biased, they've been brainwashed.

210:

Especially if you're trying to pull the wool over their eyes?

211:

"Secondly, there's more than missiles to conquest: the missiles might be useful against the RAF Typhoon squadron at Stanley, but completely beg the question of what happens a couple of weeks later when a pair of Astute-class SSNs show up and start sinking the Argentinian navy, while the army still needs some way of supplying whoever pulls the short straw and gets sent to occupy the Falklands."

Thanks for the analysis. These problems would be magnified for any hypothetical Chinese invasion of Taiwan. In short, the Chinese Navy doesn't have a weapon to give it a decisive advantage against SSNs.

"And that's before Boris Johnson -- aka Clownshoes Churchill -- takes the god-given opportunity to dress up in Margaret Thatcher drag and send a QE class carrier down the Atlantic to distract everyone from COVID/Brexit/his latest sex-or-corruption-or-both scandal."

Would he send the QE though? The missiles in question were designed specifically to sink aircraft carriers and destroy airfields in the first 5 minutes of a war (think Guam or Okinawa).

212:

My hope is both Argentina and the PRC step away from military solutions, as they frequently open noxious cans of worms, like the invasion of Iraq, where we discovered what could be worse than Saddam Hussein. If Xi is feeling pressured to "Do something", shots may be fired. If this extends to a US carrier being sunk, at minimum, it may become difficult to buy anything made in the PRC. Trade is better, giving the PRC most of the benefits and governing is an SEP

213:

Re: 'So, are these people "exhausted, have zero learning opportunity/access nor adequate psychosocioeconomic support", or just people who happen to disagree with you?'

Not clear to me which 'people' you mean.

My take-away from the post I commented on re: 'sheeple' was that 'sheeple'/people who are easily manipulated are inherently lazy/stupid. (And I don't think this is true for many folks. )

About the living in the burbs thing and being oblivious as it relates to exhaustion, etc.

Yeah - I can relate because I and pretty well all of my friends/sibs went through that same or very similar phase: buy the best house you can get a mortgage for, spend 3 hr/day commuting quite often after a 10-11 hour 'work day', start/raise a family (plus multiple pets), plus misc errands, chores, home maintenance, etc. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation pretty well for 15 years or so -- and we each had only one official full-time job thanks to enough education to get that decent job in the 'big city'. Very tough to get and stay involved in politics when you've run out of hours in a day.

Basically -- you can use exhaustion to keep people from learning including learning about how others are living.

214:

That's an intelligent take on the whole thing. I'm not sure I agree with you entirely - lots of media is deliberately designed to play to people's fears - but it's definitely a part of the problem.

215:

In short, the Chinese Navy doesn't have a weapon to give it a decisive advantage against SSNs.

I don't know how decisive it would be, but one thing going for the PLAN is the bathymetry of the Taiwan/Formosa Strait -- it's pretty shallow. IMO, air-independent SSKs are better suited to operate there.

216:

Before attention is shifted entirely to "Strange Attractors", my condolences (FWIW) to those who miss Prince Phillip. I haven't heard differently, but it sounds like there might've been enough of him still there to say goodbye, a couple more years and that might've been unlikely.

217:

Would he send the QE though? The missiles in question were designed specifically to sink aircraft carriers and destroy airfields in the first 5 minutes of a war (think Guam or Okinawa).

I have no idea!

However, missiles are useless without targeting information, and unlike Argentina, China has a fully-developed military with stuff like spy satellites: it's unclear how easy the Argentinian forces would find it to locate a carrier in the middle of the Atlantic, especially with submarines sniping at them with Tomahawks. And in any case, a Briitsh carrier group would have Type 45 destroyers providing an air defense screen -- a class designed for anti-aircraft and anti-missile warfare (including supersonic sea-skimming missiles and ballistic missiles).

Basically these are all horrifyingly expensive 21st century weapons systems that have never actually been used in combat. I'm pretty sure nobody has any idea how effective they'd actually be against each other.

218:

To summarise: Calling people sheep in order to change their minds is a baaaaad strategy.

Similar to trying to win an election by calling those who don't agree with you stupid. That only works (when it does) if you start out with a majority.

219:

China is a huge country. Don't you think it could hide military exercices in which to test 21st century weapons systems?

220:

I'll answer this. They have tested the weapons. However, there's war-game tests, and then there's real life. To give an example Saudi Arabia a few months ago successfully intercepted a Houthi missile fired at Riyadh. Houthi missiles ARE more primitive than Chinese missiles, but I don't know to what extent the Chinese missiles could counter the system the Saudis were using (likely designed in the US or Israel).

Let me put it another way-to what extent did the Armenia War last year validate or disprove previous war-game scenarios about the use of drones against an industrial army? Or the Libyan Civil War? The Russians extensively tested the Pantsir system against drones. That didn't stop the Bayraktar drones from destroying several of them. Not only did that kiboshed Haftar's plans to take Tripoli, it also allowed the GNA to retake a lot of territory from his forces.

221:

dpb @ 204: To summarise: Calling people sheep in order to change their minds is a baaaaad strategy.

... and rude.

222:

Charles Stross

They are, in a very real sense, strangers to me: no more familiar than Kim Kardashian or Elon Musk.

I don't actively seek to avoid "news" about the "Royal Family" the way I do with those others. I am mildly amused to indifferent rather than actively annoyed by it.

I mourn the passing of Phillip as much as I mourn the passing of any of the "Greatest Generation". He had a long, full life and I hope it was a happy one. I know his family will miss him.

223:

> Before attention is shifted entirely to "Strange Attractors"

I've got one: Has there been any press coverage in the UK about the switching on of coal-fired electricity generation Monday in response to the very low wind speeds and consequent lack of wind power over the past 5-6 days?

224:

Actually, I'm hoping China *doesn't* invade Taiwan, given that an "independent" (under the control of the 0.1%) is significant in the end of the novel I'm currently working on, and it's set about 105 or so years from now....

225:

Basically these are all horrifyingly expensive 21st century weapons systems that have never actually been used in combat. I'm pretty sure nobody has any idea how effective they'd actually be against each other.

The thing about going to war in the 21st century is that people know how the weapons that got extensive use in the last war will work.

However, since weapons are very expensive to build, it's hard to justify thorough testing of shiny new weapons in RL conditions.

Consider: (1) 1986 F-16 Inversion when flying over the equator - this was caught in simulation (fortunately). Cruising over the equator, and your plane flips over due to software doing what it was told rather than what you want it to. Oops.

(2) 2007 F-22 Complete systems failure over International Date Line. That happened in real life. Fortunately, the planes involved were able to visually follow their fuel tankers back to safety.

Just two examples, found with a bit of searching. I'm sure that there are many more - plus even more bugs that will be found only in the next war.

226:

To give an example Saudi Arabia a few months ago successfully intercepted a Houthi missile fired at Riyadh. Houthi missiles ARE more primitive than Chinese missiles, but I don't know to what extent the Chinese missiles could counter the system the Saudis were using (likely designed in the US or Israel).

But the real question is what would happen if China fired 50 or 100 at a time? And how many times could they do this?

I suspect the answers are maybe most of them stopped on the first volley but on the 4th or 5th?

227:

Some 21st systems are already tested.

I suspect that a single Storm Shadow targeted on the Minister of Defence's office in the Libertador Building in Buenos Aires, would focus minds admirably. Do it about 3am on a Monday night and you minimise casualties among innocent bystanders.

It is likely the minister would quickly identify ending the conflict as a personal political imperative.

Doing the same to every military airbase in the country at the same time would make it clear you want the ill advised conflict ended.

We've moved on since the Falklands.

228:

#222 - Well, last Saturday I did report the death of the last survivor of the Battle of Cape Matapan (27 to 29 March 1941). Somehow I saw that as a much more significant event than him getting married or talking to people.

#223 - I don't think so. What there has been is a manifesto pledge by the Scottish Green Party (reported) to leave the remaining North Sea Oil where it is. What was not reported was any proposal to replace non-fuel petrochemicals (such as the plastics large bits of our computers are made of) with anything else.

#225 (1) and (2) - Failures by USians to write navigation software to handle these events correctly. I don't specialise in navigation software and can tell you that much just from the blog posting.

229:

Um, yes, the US is used up and all, but has anyone realized that we've got the most veteran military force in the world at this point, warts and all? I don't think China's fielded their military as much as we have. The Russians have done more, as has the UK. China has experience internally, but less externally, AFAIK.

Then there's the whole infowar/cyberwar angle, and apparently that's going on at a low level already. It's not a "yapping chihuahuas of cyberwar" scenario, it's that major institutions are getting attacked daily, and every once in a while one breaks through. But I suspect that the shelf life for most cyberweapons is on par with milk or SFF novels, not bullets. They won't necessarily be useful if you leave them sitting around unused for a year or five, because someone may find and patch the exploit they require.

What we don't know is how less tested Chinese systems will work against worn US systems. If China had any sense and wanted a military advantage, right now they'd go for a big ol' strategy that emphasized a global fight against climate change and united all the major powers. Then, with the US taking a very neeeded peace dividend, they could rev up and take Taiwan. I suspect that a lot of Chinese jian-rattling is about taking the focus off internal problems. Ditto Russia and Putin's dream of reuniting the Soviet Bloc. What I'm not sure about is how much the Chinese and Russians have military-industrial complex issues analogous to those that plague US politics.

230:

Just two examples, found with a bit of searching. I'm sure that there are many more - plus even more bugs that will be found only in the next war.

I think the best/worst example of this is the saga of the USN Mark 14 torpedo in WWII. An utter disaster and waste of money that cost the US all kinds of lives and money to deal with the failures and then the fixes. All due to a mindset of saving money up front.

Here's a write up. I've linked to the start of the issues but the entire article is worth reading about how a bureaucracy can really mess things up.

They were performing so poorly that an admiral set up a test through nets in a harbor in Australia to PROVE to the brass in Washington that the crews were not the problem.

231:

I don't specialise in navigation software and can tell you that much just from the blog posting.

There are a LOT of edge cases in such software. Not all of them obvious during development. And for those plane I suspect memory and CPU power were issues.

A friend work at NASA at the Cape a few decades ago. He said they were doing a sat launch around midnight. Rocket went up fine but a minute or few in the tracking radar reset itself to "home" and they lost the track. So per procedure they destroyed the sat.

In the post mortum it was discovered there was a software bug in the radar system that would cause an uncaught divide by zero (or similar) fault that would only occur on the date of that launch.

232:

SFReader @ 213

I'm talking about the people mentioned in the Economist article, who live in new-build Barratt homes.

They take as an example an estate at Pegswood, which used to be a coal mine. Its a half hour train ride from the centre of Newcastle on Tyne, so not a 3 hour commute, and of course there is nothing saying that its inhabitants have to work in the city.

Another example from the article: Cramlington, which is a 25 minute drive from the centre of Newcastle on Tyne.

In Cramlington, Richard, who works in sales, earns around £28,000 a year and his partner, a part-time administrative assistant, earns £12,000. That is enough for a four-bed house and two cars. “If I’d moved to London and got a graduate job, I’d probably be renting a shitty flat and I doubt I’d have two kids,” he says.

Don't know how many hours Richard works, but he doesn't sound like someone who does nothing but eat, sleep and work just to keep food on the table. I also don't know where he works. I mention Newcastle because its the nearest city, but there is a big industrial and retail estate west of Cramlington, so its even possible that Richard has a ten minute walk to work.

Obviously I can't prove that these examples weren't cherry picked, but the point of the article was to explain why so many people in the north of England are now voting Tory for the first time. Most of them come from traditional Labour working class backgrounds; many will have older relatives who used to be miners. They aren't voting Tory because they have never heard of Socialism, or because they don't know about Labour policies.

233:

Nuts. Here's the link.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_14_torpedo#Controversy

If a moderator wants to move it to the comment, great.

234:

What I'm not sure about is how much the Chinese and Russians have military-industrial complex issues analogous to those that plague US politics.

Well they do have that habit of executing the someone at the top of a process if they really piss off the PTB. That can focus a manager at times.

235:

...and Storm Shadow can be delivered from a range of about 300 miles. Even if you can identify targets, can you defend against aircraft firing missiles from that far out? (well, unless you have a system like a combination of Samson and Aster 30)?

236:

Ah, yes, US-written navigation software.

When I stage my coup (all one of me), and become short-term czar of the US, one of the first things I'm going to do it order ALL UNITS IN CGS, and GET RID of American (I don't care we call it English) units, dump 'em on the trash heap of history with cubits.

237:

ALL UNITS IN CGS

Make it MKS and I'll agree. I think in newtons and joules better than dynes and ergs.

238:

What about changing every unit of velocity to furlongs / fortnight?

(For the record: 1 furlong / fortnight = 1.70 x 10-4 m/s, or 6.11 x 10-4 km/h.)

239:

Why do you think that military and similar systems do NOT use CGS or MKS now and for a while?

240:

Has there been any press coverage in the UK about the switching on of coal-fired electricity generation Monday in response to the very low wind speeds and consequent lack of wind power over the past 5-6 days?

Use It Or Lose It, basically. The UK has very few coal-fired power stations still available for use. EU-wide pollution controls the UK is still signed up to limit operation to 1500 hours a year for each coal-fired station. This time is normally reserved for winter when the highest demand for electricity occurs but if the Spring arrives, those 1500 hours haven't been used up and a lull in the wind occurs then one or two stations with reserve time on their docket get fired up. It's worthwhile noting that the 1500 hours limit has extended the lifespan of several of the larger large coal-fired stations that, absent the limits would have been run into the ground by now and shut down completely.

Bringing a coal-fired station up to speed and generating electricity takes time and effort and doing it to train up the staff, identify technical problems etc. once or twice a year regardless is also a good idea. The fuel, lump coal stores pretty well in heaps but it does deteriorate over time so using up the older stocks every now and then is worthwhile economically, they have been been paid for already after all.

241:

Navigation software usually holds lat/Long internally in decimal degrees. The issue with crossing the Equator or the International Date Line is that one of the 2 has its sign reversed.

242:

> (1), (2)


Something I've noticed for, lessee, maybe 40 years.

Programmers/software engineers, at least in the US and I suspect elsewhere, can be very skilled, very effective and produce miraculous things. But they tend not to be very broad-scope outside the programming context, and that can have effects.

(3) I was advising on the creation of an open-literature database in the early 1980 that was meant to keep track of Soviet scientists doing interesting things. A major, trauma-inducing event for the programmers was to realize that transliteration from Russian, let alone translation, is not a one-to-one transform. Joukowski and Zhukovsky are the same guy.

They eventually figured out how to handle that, and I suspect today it wouldn't be all that hard to do.

(4) Names again, leaving aside transliteration. Chinese is Family - Given (AIUI) and Russian in official documents tends to be the same. Spanish is Given - (other given) - Patronymic - Matronymic. And, of course, because patriarchy, the patronymic takes precedence. The President of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, is properly referred to as Presidente Cortizo. Please do not call him President Cohen.

And so it goes.

243:

And there's Icelandic, where the 'surname' indicates father/mother — so parents and children have different surnames.

244:

AT @ 223
No
Nothing to see here,move along, we're pretending it didn't happen
We know the answer is nuclear, but people are still scared of the paper Tigers of the protestors

David L
Mark 14 torpedo? LINK ( Ignore intial advert ) - "Drachinefel" posts some amzing naval history stuff ....

245:

Let's just say metric....

246:

Sure, we can. When a) you give folks right out of school a chance to *learn*, and not have them right mission-critical code, and b) when management gives us the chance to do a good job.

"There's never time to do it right, there's always time to do it over" was the mantra attributed to mgmt when I started programming in 1980.

247:

Volume in barn-mega parsecs. (~3cc)

248:

Mark 14 torpedo?

Yes. That YouTube video seems to have been scripted from the Wiki article I missed putting in my comment.

The British sardonic voice gives it a bit of extra flavor.

I liked the very brief put down of Admiral King along side of him demanding the UNS BuOrd FIX IT. From King's Wiki article:
King, who was an Anglophobe, displayed stunning and uncharacteristic incompetence and disregard for the lives of American sailors by ignoring valuable British advice regarding convoys and up-to-date British intelligence on U-boat operations in the Atlantic.

And in a strange coincidence sort of thing, this morning I was working on some computer issues for the grandson of the commander of the US Pacific sub fleet at the outbreak of WWII.

249:

What I find really interesting in that article is the drawing by Lear himself, which features a runcible spoon without any prongs, in contrast to most definitions I came across.

After a quick Google image search to confirm that, yes. Both the original drawing and the photos of real objects. That 'Victorian runcible spoon' is a spork. I have seen sporks before.

I conjecture that silver Victorian-era antiques are considered too dignified to be publicly called sporks by stuffy people.

250:

What I'm not sure about is how much the Chinese and Russians have military-industrial complex issues analogous to those that plague US politics. Well they do have that habit of executing the someone at the top of a process if they really piss off the PTB. That can focus a manager at times.

That's not quite the problem I was referring to. In the US Military-Industrial complex, as in the Prison-IC, the Fire-IC and so forth, the problem is that the people profiting from the complex made it as hard as possible to get rid of the complex. It provides jobs in rural areas, it sends money to a majority of districts in the legislature, it deals with a Horrible Crisis (if not a HORRIBLE CRISIS), and it gives people profiting enough money to buy legislators to keep the gravy train rolling. And of course it burns out poor people, cranks up deficits, and doesn't solve the crisis it's supposed to solve.

But it's profitable for the contracting companies.

The problem the US has is that hurting the MIC causes trouble in a large number of areas, making it harder to pull out of wars (cf: Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam...). What I don't know is whether the military forces in other nuclear powers have similar institutions that make it hard to downsize militaries.

251:

1.8x10^12: not just a Good Idea, it's the law!

252:

Re: ' [exhaustion] but it's definitely a part of the problem.'

I've been wondering how the COVID-19 hybrid office/work-from-home is going to play out long term - specifically whether workers/employees are going to end up with more or less time for themselves.

Related to this is the drive for more work flexibility: employees being on-call 24/7 and/or showing up wherever on demand. I understand the need for building in more 'flexibility' into our work/career models but am concerned that the current version that's being used is resulting in employees* working (and expected to keep working) even longer hours - esp. in the US and any other country that's largely adopted the US business-centric work ethic model.

* Teachers appear to be the most visible example of how this current 'flexible model' is not working - for them or for their students.

253:

I think the best/worst example of this is the saga of the USN Mark 14 torpedo in WWII.

Ah, yes; Failure is like Onions. Not everyone on this blog will have half an hour to listen to Drachinifel be snarky about torpedoes and political failures but for those who do the presentation is worthwhile.

254:

Re: ' ... people mentioned in the Economist article, who live in new-build Barratt homes'

Sorry - I couldn't read it (paywalled) but thanks for the summary!

About the only explanations that jump to mind:

a) They're aspiring their way into success which means voting for role-models and not exhibiting any behavior that could reduce their chances at promotion. (I'm guessing their demographics - esp. employment profile - would skew away from entrepreneurs, artists, intellectuals and toward the larger/corp middle manager set.)

b) They're traditionalists: their family have always supported the Tories and they personally have little patience or interest in politics overall. (Similar to the fairly strong GOP support among Pennsylvania miners despite being repeatedly screwed by same.)

255:

The Missouri* legislature is considering a bill to establish a Rush Limbaugh State holiday:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/bill-would-create-rush-limbaugh-day/ar-BB1fDIeb

They're asking for January 12, I might be happier if it was February 17.

*We can't agree how to pronounce it and we live here! At least half of the year "Misery" works fairly accurately.

256:

We know the answer is nuclear,

After diving into the data available at

https://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/download.phpable

which seems to capture a large fraction of the UK grid supply and demand at 5-minute intervals, I am inclined to agree.

Or at least want to see a way to buffer the extreme variability/ intermittency of wind and solar on time scales ranging from minutes to weeks that wouldn't be as bad environmentally and economically as building the equivalent nuclear plants.

Other takes on the question are solicited.

257:

Tim H. @ 255: "We can't agree how to pronounce it and we live here!"

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/En-us-Missouri.ogg

258:

At best, I expect improvements in energy storage to reduce the number of nuclear plants needed, but not in my lifetime. On the other hand, I would be more comfortable about Nuclear power in the US if the Navy ran it, "For profit" and "Life & death" are an ugly mix.

259:

That's their opinion, and it's what you'll hear in the more civilized parts of the state, but possibly half the population would beg to differ. Your selection does hint at the weather rather well though.

260:

The Missouri* legislature is considering a bill to establish a Rush Limbaugh State holiday:
I won't speak ill of dead American Royalty (yet), but here's some tame material instead:
Anyone else remember Rush Limbaugh (and many others) swallowing this bait? Pure big-words gibberish, in a made-up journal, with made up references.
Wishful thinkers (David Thorpe, 12 Nov 2007)
Carbon dioxide production by benthic bacteria: the death of manmade global warming theory?

(e.g. The Journal for Geoclimatic Studies is the name given to a nonexistent journal which published a fabricated global warming study in November 2007 )

There's also this, from around 2000, a web comic (Electric Sheep Web Comix - Issue Two). (It's quite dated, about the Limbaugh/H.Clinton animosity, and Limbaugh dies of a heart attack.)
"Rush Limbaugh Eats Everything"
In particular, the epilogue about future Americans in Antarctica:
Epilogue: One thousand years later.
"It was Roosh Lim-Ba's sacrifice which brought forth the abundant, life-giving fungus forests which cover the land, as well as the vast herds of rats who provide us with meat, milk and furs. It is Lim-Ba we thank for these goodnesses!

261:


Then there's the whole infowar/cyberwar angle, and apparently that's going on at a low level already. It's not a "yapping chihuahuas of cyberwar" scenario, it's that major institutions are getting attacked daily, and every once in a while one breaks through. But I suspect that the shelf life for most cyberweapons is on par with milk or SFF novels, not bullets. They won't necessarily be useful if you leave them sitting around unused for a year or five, because someone may find and patch the exploit they require.

While the larger point that the future of war, especially among the big boys, will be increasingly electronic (and probably non-attributable), this particular "lose it or use it" concern is probably misguided.

Current (and likely future) major attacks are quite modular. To use a physical metaphor, think of the actual vulnerability/exploit as the fuel for the missile and the attack code that does all the damage as the warhead (or the spy camera, as in the case of the recent SolarWinds attack). The attack portion can be held indefinitely, other than updates every few years for OS or major firmware upgrades. The exploits are easier to write, since there's a never-ending stream of vulnerabilities that go by and can be cherry-picked; often when a major attack is exposed, it actually has three or four different exploit avenues available to adapt to whatever the local environment is.

262:

Tim H
NOT 12th Jan - please!
( My birthday )

Boyd Nation
The Boss' employers are into Financial Services & they are, naturally careful about IT security.
Even so, they were attacked earlier this week - the hackers did't get very far in, but even so, there was a temporary (?) upgrade of live-users security, require log-in reconfirmations/passwords etc, until their internal IT guys could patch-&-sterilise the problem. They certainly were not happy little bunnies for a while.

263:

I think that Brazil, India, South Africa, and a 100+ other countries might not go along with that solution.

Or at least want to discuss it more. [/sarcasm]

264:

Not everyone on this blog will have half an hour to listen to Drachinifel be snarky about torpedoes and political failures but for those who do the presentation is worthwhile.

I left the Widipedia link out of my main comment. Here it is again. 5 to 10 minute read. Everything in the YouTube plus a bit more.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_14_torpedo#Controversy

265:

Spork was a propetary name, introduce in 1909, but then disappeared; it was reused as such in the 1970s, and started to be used in common speech. While Victorian examples COULD be called sporks, they weren't at the time.

266:

When was the last time that the USA faced up against even a second-class military? Iraq's air defences were at best third-class, and its ground defences had been bombed to hell and back by the time there was any contact. And other than that? The USA navy, which would be relevant to a far-eastern conflict, has essentially NO recent experience.

267:

SFReader @ 254:

a) They're aspiring their way into success which means voting for role-models and not exhibiting any behavior that could reduce their chances at promotion.

Possibly for some, but probably not enough to explain the "Red Wall" collapse at the last election. The article makes the point that these estates contain a mixture of the aspiring lower-middle-class: corporate pole-climbers (like Richard the salesman), lower-stratum government employees (teachers, nurses, policemen) and self employed traders (plumbers, driving instructors).

They're traditionalists: their family have always supported the Tories

Definitely not. These people come from traditional Labour backgrounds. The whole point of the article is that their switch to Tory was the reason why Labour lost those seats.

One point mentioned in the article is that these people use (and value) free government health and education, but they don't rely on government benefits and rather object to seeing their taxes spent on those who do. (Yes, I know, insert rant on the Victorian myth of the "undeserving" poor here, but the myth persists).

Possible other explanations (veering off into speculation):

They are more nationalist than socialist. Jeremy Corbin's history of supporting people who were killing British soldiers *really* rubbed people up the wrong way, while the Tory whole-hearted support for Brexit appealed to them. This is the social class that provides a lot of enlisted men for the military.

They have a strong distrust of socially liberal thinking. Gay rights, Black Lives Matter, tearing down statues of slavers, these things leave them cold. At best they see them as irrelevant, at worst they actively oppose them. (Insert Kitchen Sink Drama scene here).

However, all this is getting away from the original point of this discussion. I referenced this article to show that dismissing everyone who doesn't agree with a more leftist point of view as "sheeple" who don't know better is short sighted and intellectually lazy. In fact, it exhibits exactly the same vices that it accuses the "sheeple" of.

268:

They aren't voting Tory because they have never heard of Socialism, or because they don't know about Labour policies.

So what are you saying here: they are voting Tory because they are arseholes? There's a lot of that going around...

269:

When was the last time that the USA faced up against even a second-class military?

Consider Kosovo. In the face of air supremacy, the JNA managed to both conceal and protect the vast majority of its fighting vehicles in theatre; to deny low-level operations by allied aircraft; even managed to shoot down a stealth bomber.

Consider Iraq. For all that the 1991 and 2003 invasions were overwhelmingly successful, it's worth remembering that the Iraqi Army was still mounting battalion-level attacks against the UK Brigade in Basra, a week into the campaign; and managed to monster a US Aviation Regiment at Karbala (28 out of 31 AH-64 suffered serious damage; one was shot down).

The problem for any opponent is that the US is unbelievably powerful. Any weakness in your armed forces, and the US has the resources to exploit that gap to the full, while accepting losses in people and equipment that would deter anyone else. If the British had 28 AH-64 "seriously damaged", that's half the entire fleet and possibly all of its spare parts gone...

Iraq's air defences were at best third-class

Errrr..... no. They were rather good - we sold them a lot of it, and trained some of their people - and the pilots certainly didn't regard the threat as "second rate" (having listened to a couple). Again, the gap was that the Allies had practised exactly this, over and over, at RED FLAG and similar; while various sneaky types were cutting fiber-optic cables to screw up their command and control.

270:

The Labour voters in the North of England voted Labour in the past because they were poor, generally. They lived in a rented council house and the menfolk did dirty work like construction, coal-mining and shipbuilding. They didn't vote Tory because Tories were toffee-nosed gits who worked in offices shuffling paper, they owned their houses and didn't rent them, their kids went to grammar schools and University while the Labour voter's kids left school at 15 to go into the same sort of hard-grafting work they did. Those voters were tribal, racist, sexist and anti-Semitic but solid supporters of the Labour party which ignored their foibles as long as they voted the right way at elections.

Now the descendants of those Labour voters have a house and a mortgage, their kids go to decent schools because of where they live, they're earning a lot more than their parents ever did but they're two hundred thousand quid in debt to the mortgage company. They're terrified their property's value will go down, not up especially if the Wrong Sort of people move in next door so their family history of xenophobia and racism and new financial strains pushes them towards the Tories who have always supported property prices and keeping the Wrong Sort out.

271:

> the extreme variability/ intermittency of wind and solar on time scales ranging from minutes to weeks

This table is impressionistic, but it gives the correct impression. It's the UK wind power in gigawatts sampled once each morning between 10:30 and 11:00 UTC from 1 April 2021 until this morning, 15 April.

Wind Power
GW

6.54
3.98
4.81
6.99
12.14
11.66
7.69
11.08
3.29
2.69
2.58
1.75
0.2
0.74
2.39


272:

Nojay
As you have noted, to some extent - - - Don't forget hanging monkeys as Frenchmen!
They are amazingly xenophobic - Brexit pushed all their unthinking prejudice-buttons.
Having Corbyn as arsehole-in-chief, facing both ways on Brexit, really didn't help either, to say the least.

273:

What we don't know is how less tested Chinese systems will work against worn US systems.

Or how well US systems will hold up against a numerically superior front rank or near-front rank great power, as opposed to lightly armed irregulars.

The US military is well-tested against Afghanistan, Iraq, and other colonial adversaries, which is a whole different kettle of fish from the PLA.

Consider front-line fighters: the Taliban had bupkis and Iraq had 1980s vintage Russian kit flown by demoralized crews. In contrast, the PLAAF has stuff like hundreds of J-11 (an SU-33 clone with Chinese improvements) and J-10 (home developed 4th generation jet fighter, looks heavily based on the IAI Lavi, an Israeli 4G fighter that was cancelled under US pressure to stop exports competing with the F-16). Not to mention stuff like the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter just entering service -- a plausible F-22/F-35 competitor.

When you bear in mind that the wikipedia data on these fighters' capabilities reflects what the Chinese government is willing to talk about in public (the real capabilities of the versions in front-line service for defending Chinese airspace presumably outstrip any export versions by quite a margin) the picture for US forces trying to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion look very grim indeed (as in: expect high aircraft losses on both sides).

274:

The cost of pumped-water grid power storage is about £200 million per GWh. Battery tech might bring grid power storage down to £100 million per GWh or so but the batteries are the most expensive part of the cost of storage and they need to be replaced every ten to twenty years whereas pumped-storage systems last a lot longer after the costs of construction have been met.

Assuming we were trying to meet demand for electricity from renewables only and using storage to prevent rolling blackouts or even a collapse of the grid, the UK would need to spend the thick end of a trillion quid on batteries to sufficiently buffer demand and the vastly expanded fleet of wind turbines and solar panels needed to fill that storage when the weather conditions collaborated. That's not even considering the 300GW or so we use for heating in winter for homes, businesses, hospitals etc. which really needs to come from non-fossil-fuel electricity rather than burning gas as we do now which contributes to climate change.

275:

Now Labour has totally-pro-Brexit Starmer in charge they can maybe claw back some of the Red Wall in the North but even though he's positioning the party as Tory-lite and all in favour of maintaining property prices and keeping Those People out I'm not sure the NuTory voters in the North will come back. It's a shame, really, if ultra-super-Marxist baby-eater Jeremy Corbyn had actually won the election we'd probably have had a second Brexit referendum by now but them's the breaks.

276:

Also, Iraq had been under sanctions for over a decade, and their equipment had suffered badly from lack of maintenance. That was one reason the inspectors pointed out that it almost certainly did NOT have deployable WMD, as was then shown to be the case.

277:

While all of that is impressive, in my opinion the real determinant is tolerable casualties.

The impression is that the US can only accept between 5k (Iraq) and 58k (Vietnam) KIAs before they abandon the mission. Europe can accept even fewer. Iran's entire defense policy is based on that assumption. The big unknown for Xi is that he doesn't know how many casualties the Chinese population is willing to accept before they'd turn against this war.

While those fighters are impressive, the real resources are spent on drones such as the Wing Loon (Pterodactyl), equivalent submarine drones (not familiar with them), and carrier-killer missiles. The idea is to kill 5k USian soldiers within the first 24 hours without suffering corresponding casualties on his side. If he thinks he can achieve this, he'll invade.

Since I'm not familiar with the Wing Loon's performance, I was using the Bayraktar as a stand-in. Hence, the Falklands scenario.

278:

"...two hundred thousand quid in debt to the mortgage company. They're terrified their property's value will go down, not up..."

...having been trained by Tory interests into thinking that the opportunity to indulge in childish dressing-up fantasies (wheee look at me I'm a financial magnate) anent the price of their house is of such tremendous value that it not merely outweighs any contrary motivation to revile those same interests for compelling them to send several extra hundreds of thousands of quid up in smoke over their lifetime, but hoodwinks them into denying that they are so compelled at all, even as they live their lives in holy terror of their one sole great fear of being unable to meet the demands of the mortgage company.

279:

I don't know about the UK, but for many people in the USA the house is a significant asset in retirement. Even if medical care is free, it's only normal that their main concern is 'do I have enough to retire'. I know you didn't say this, but voting based primarily on that concern doesn't make them sheeple.

280:

Assuming we were trying to meet demand for electricity from renewables only and using storage...

Have you seen any estimates of how many GWh storage/backup(*) would be needed for each installed GW of wind (or wind + solar)? Since the wind can go for several days at really low levels, that seems to imply something like 100 GWh/GW, no?

(*) The UK currently uses gas turbines for much of the backup and those are well suited to the task -- except for the "gas" part.

281:

Nojay
Not quite
Starmer is entirely aware that Brexit was an utter fuck-up ... but dare he say so?
Unfortunately, no, he dare not.
Meanwhile - I note that Eric Pickles, of all people, is saying that the current tory sleaze/chumocracy/nice-little-earners scandal is not acceptable. It's really bad if it's got up his nose, I think.

282:

Consider the British Expeditionary Force in France in the early days of World War I. They were "veterans" against colonial uprisings, but they had some major difficulties fighting other first-world powers and IIRC were thoroughly demoralized by the time the French were ready to launch their counter-attach at the First Battle of Marne.

283:

Have you seen any estimates of how many GWh storage/backup(*) would be needed

There have been some academic exercises on storage to cover the intermittency of renewable generation but they're based on estimates of how rare you want rolling blackouts and possible grid failures to be in the future. Do you want 99% guaranteed supply, 99.9% guaranteed, five-nines etc.? You could plan storage to cover, say, only 50% generation of demand from renewables for a week but what happens to the much rarer but still possible case of 20% generation for ten days? Do you pay twice as much up front for extra infrastructure to cover that outlier case, are your customers willing to pay to prevent that Black Swan event just in case? That still leaves the question of the excess generating capacity over and above that needed to meet demand that is required to fill up that storage in the first place, something which further adds to the costs.

Non-fossil-fuel generators that can supply power on demand are basically limited to nuclear plants. Even hydro is storage-limited although nations that use hydro as a large or near-total part of their generating capacity like Norway have very large amounts of infrastructure and a small population -- IIRC Norway has over 31GW of hydro installations for a population of about 5 million, that's 6kW per person. The UK generates about 30GW on average for 60 million people, more in the winter and less in the summer of course but the Norwegians heat their homes with cheap hydro electricity, we burn shitloads of fossil gas to do the same.

284:

The impression is that the US can only accept between 5k (Iraq) and 58k (Vietnam) KIAs before they abandon the mission.

I don't think that's true. Both Iraq and Vietnam were unpopular wars from the beginning, and represented policy positions which were obviously clueless, and we'd lost all those people without winning anything, or even making usable progress towards winning. That's a perfect formula for poor morale.

Give the U.S. a war where the military is accomplishing something that can be successfully sold as good policy and the U.S. public will get behind them with an 80-95 percent approval rating. I think that keeping China from gobbling it's neighbors will qualify, as will keeping Russia from gobbling it's neighbors.

Attacking Iran, not so much.

285:

With regard to Taiwan, aren't they officially under the U.S. "nuclear umbrella?" Or is that not the current policy?

286:

"Give the U.S. a war where the military is accomplishing something that can be successfully sold as good policy and the U.S. public will get behind them with an 80-95 percent approval rating. I think that keeping China from gobbling it's neighbors will qualify, as will keeping Russia from gobbling it's neighbors."

That may hold for the generation that remembers the Cold War, and is predominantly white. The younger generation doesn't remember the Cold War, and treat Europe with, at best, indifference. If China or Russia were swallowing countries where they have extended family, attitudes would change. Note that the East Asian American population skews older, with 70% of Asian Americans identifying as Chinese, Indian, of Filipinos.

It might be broadly popular, but I doubt it would breach 60% among the younger generation, roughly the popularity of both the Iraq and Vietnam Wars at the beginning.

You're probably right that the public might be willing to support higher casualties for popular wars. I also agree that a war against Iran wouldn't be popular. I'm just not sure that protecting Taiwan or Europe would be more popular these days?

287:

"With regard to Taiwan, aren't they officially under the U.S. "nuclear umbrella?" Or is that not the current policy?"

Officially, the US recognizes One China. They refuse to say whether they recognize the ROC or PRC as the legitimate government. Unofficially, it is by verbal, not written, treaty.

288:

It's a shame, really, if ultra-super-Marxist baby-eater Jeremy Corbyn had actually won the election we'd probably have had a second Brexit referendum by now but them's the breaks.

The same Jeremy Corbyn who imposed a three line whip on the Labour Party to get them behind May on her desperately premature Article 50 invocation? Once he'd done that, he basically bollixed any chance of a second referendum. If Article 50 was to be invoked, it should have been after a coherent strategy had been agreed — one on which we could have had a referendum. Instead a fixed period countdown was started, with us effectively crashing out in a mess.

After that I may have voted Labour, but it was as the lesser of two evils.

What might have happened if there had been a pro-EU Labour leader, who knows? Someone who'd have pushed with passion for us to stay in the EU, one who believed in the freedoms and protections that we're losing. The fight might still have been lost, but the outcome surely wouldn't have been as abysmal as what we've got.

289:

"Give the U.S. a war where the military is accomplishing something that can be successfully sold as good policy and the U.S. public will get behind them with an 80-95 percent approval rating."

On thinking about it more, I think that you're basing your analysis on a huge historical misconception. Withe the exception of WWII, the American Civil War, and Afghanistan, the concept of a popular war in the US is a historic retcon. In all three cases, there was an attack on US soil

This situation is more analogous to WWI. For all of Greg's complaints about the US waiting to long to enter the war, the prewar situation was that, while neutrality was the overall winner, support for Germany exceeded that of support for the UK (Irish Americans tended to enlist in the German Army before the US entered the war). The German American population still had relatives fighting in the German Army. Teddy Roosevelt ran for the election of 1916 as a third-party candidate on a "German-aligned neutrality". Support for the UK was mostly upon the richer strata of the North, and the former Confederate veterans who believed erroneously that the UK was pro-Confederacy and despised the fact that 1/3rd of the Union Army was composed of Irish and German volunteers (Wilson's constituents). Had Roosevelt not split the Republican vote, it's unlikely the US would have joined WWI at all.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_in_World_War_I#Public_opinion

290:

The same Jeremy Corbyn who imposed a three line whip on the Labour Party to get them behind May on her desperately premature Article 50 invocation?

Yes. The same Jermey Corbyn who went into the most recent election with an agreed Labour Party policy of renegotiation of the terms of Brexit with the EU, Britain to remain part of the EU while those negotiations were carried out and then hold a second referendum with the agreed terms of Brexit laid out, do you accept these terms or do you wish to remain in the EU?

Sadly Corbyn's ultra-Marxist baby-eating habits were front and centre of the yellow press as Greg will tell you while the Tories campaigned on "get Brexit done" aka wogs out and the value of your home will never go down. Guess who won?

A pro-EU leader like, for example Maggie Thatcher would be great but would the rest of the Labour Party follow her in agreeing Remain was the best outcome for the United Kingdom? Corbyn was a concensus politician, not a Maximum Leader type like Blair. Starmer is trying to be Blair Mk 2 but he's not got the Trump-like always-right attitude that 'Smiler' Blair portrayed which is a big downside for his future prospects as Labour leader. I expect he's going to have a rough ride at the next Labour Party Conference.

291:

Give the U.S. a war where the military is accomplishing something that can be successfully sold as good policy and the U.S. public will get behind them with an 80-95 percent approval rating. I think that keeping China from gobbling it's neighbors will qualify, as will keeping Russia from gobbling it's neighbors.

Without taking the time to be eloquent or polite, I think you're delusional to think this would be popular. Especially past the first ship sinking or airman captured. There are just too many people in the USA who equate winning with basically no casualties. And them plus the we shouldn't do it anywhere anytime are a significant percentage of the population.

And on top of all of this I keep harping back to the logistical supply chain issues. Unless the US is willing to physically attack inland China they are close and we are, well, on the other side of the planet. And given modern transportation systems in China they can get ready for this without massing things on the coast. Hell, they can fuel their air force without any special anything for the most part. The US would be limited to how many tankers could get to nearby bases. Unless we think Singapore and Malaysia will let us fuel up at their depots. And pilot fatigue? I suspect at best we'd be flying in from hours away compared to the Chinese.

I'm sorry but I think that China wants to fight it out, unless the entire regions joins the US/Europe in the fight it will be a done deal. Maybe with a lot of death and destruction but still a done deal.

292:

Charlie, please delete this post. The part about Teddy Roosevelt is pure nonsense. I think my general point is correct, but I conflated the 1912 election, and incorrect memories of TR's position. This should teach me to pay more attention to what I write, and not trust my memory so much.

293:

I think the question of "will the war be popular" depends on a whole bunch of factors we currently know nothing about. In the case of China vs. Taiwan, we'd have to see whether the Chinese simultaneously attacked other nations, or whether their tactics involved attacking U.S. naval ships or U.S. civilian shipping. Are there layoffs or a stock market crisis in the U.S. because of the attack? Are the mainland Chinese soldiers committing atrocities? How do the other Asian nations react? Does China attack Taiwan while Putin is attacking Ukraine? To what extent does the attack on Taiwan affect U.S. industries? How do our allies feel? Has Taiwan managed to make any nukes? And a dozen other questions.

This is all stuff we can't know about until it happens, and every bit of it will affect public opinion. The issues in World War I lined up in a specific way for specific reasons, and we have no guarantee they'll line up the same way again. In particular, I don't think there are any Republican isolationists anymore.

294:

First of all, note that my position is conditional. There are two "ifs" there, and both would have to be fulfilled.

As to whether a war to defend Taiwan would be popular, I think that's probably a given - I've thought about this a little more since replying to Ioan above.

If China Taiwan anyone the economic effects on the U.S. will probably be horrific. Consider what will happen to insurance rates for anyone trying to ship to/from Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. Consider what happens to the U.S. when we can't get goods from Asia anymore. Consider what happens when the stock-market realizes just how bad the situation is... an attack on Taiwan will probably be indistinguishable from a high-powered attack on the U.S. economy.

295:

Troutwaxer @284:

keeping Russia from gobbling its neighbors.

A few months ago I looked up GDP figures per country.

I was amazed that in each of the three estimates (IMF, World Bank and UN), Canada's GDP was higher than Russia's.

The notion that Russia could invade and conquer all (or some) of the territories of the former USSR is just bananas - they could certainly try, but they would fail. Even with no push-back from the EU, US, or anybody else, they'd be facing endless guerilla warfare in the occupied territories, plus sanctions, plus terrorist strikes inside Russia.

My $0.02.

Ioan @289:
Teddy Roosevelt actually ran in the 1912 Presidential Election, not 1916. (Interestingly, The Alternate Historian thinks that, with the benefit of hindsight, the wrong person definately won the 1916 Presidential Election. Makes a good case for President Charles Hughes.)

296:

In contrast, the PLAAF has stuff like...

Beware the danger of "Top Trumps" and the direct comparison of individual aircraft types. Much of the effectiveness of allied air forces isn't the equipment per se, but the training levels of the crews and maintainers, and the ability to coordinate it. Massing thousands of aircraft (and their refuelling assets, and reconnaissance assets, and post-strike assessment), and then doing it all again the next day, is far from a simple task.

NATO airforces have been doing this on a regular basis (in between actual wars) on exercises like RED FLAG, MAPLE FLAG, and COPE THUNDER. It's the reason why the Iraqi and Yugoslav air defence systems were overrun with such low loss rates.

A historical analogy might be the Dowding System; on paper in 1940, the Luftwaffe looked to be equal to the RAF - but the RAF was far better organised, and far better supported.

I don't mean to disrespect the PLAAF; they're competent and increasingly well-equipped. But they got a shock in 1991 and in 2003 when they saw the impact of Coalition operations, and they're been trying to catch up in doctrine, equipment, and training. The British even did a brief training exchange...

297:

I can't see a war between the US and China. The one "good" thing about globalization is that the supply chain is globalized... and I think too many things come from China that the US military needs.

298:

Ninja'd! "Sorry about that, Chief."

299:

I should apologize for doing such poor quality control on some of my posts. I've been too rushed today, and have to remember that some of my high school history classes were trash (very pro-Confederate)

300:

John Birmingham just published a near-future thriller in which a PRC - USA war happens: Zero Day Code.

The Chinese act in what they think is their own interest, and take measures that they think will make retaliation by the USA unlikely. By the end of the first book, things are looking bad for the USA, but it's implied that things are going to get messy for China.

Annoyingly (for me anyway), the books in the series were all published as Audible books only. The first one finally came out in Kindle. The others will presumably do so in the fullness of time.

301:

If China Taiwan anyone the economic effects on the U.S. will probably be horrific. Consider what will happen to insurance rates for anyone trying to ship to/from Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. Consider what happens to the U.S. when we can't get goods from Asia anymore. Consider what happens when the stock-market realizes just how bad the situation is... an attack on Taiwan will probably be indistinguishable from a high-powered attack on the U.S. economy.

All of those are possible and even likely. But more and more there are non trivial numbers of people in the US who don't care or blame it on others or are just so pissed at the government they'd cheer on the Chinese.

I know too many Trumpers to think otherwise these days. 5 years ago I would have been much more in agreement with you.

302:

I have my doubts that war is likely with either China. I just had an objection to the logic of post 277.

Russia may be another matter. The problem here is that the country is a kleptocracy, and I suspect that the nature of such things is that after you've stolen everything that's stealable in-country you go looking for excuses to loot other countries.

303:

Well, you should be worried about the UK going on an invasion spree, then.

JReynolds is right. There MAY be war with Russia, but it will be because they feel that they have no option.

304:

David L @ 239: Why do you think that military and similar systems do NOT use CGS or MKS now and for a while?

FWIW, we used meters & kilometers for almost everything while I was in the National Guard, so the U.S. Army was "metric" to some extent prior to 1975.


305:

Ioan
I THINK the USA recognises Taiwan as a separate country, these days?

Bellinghman @ 288
Exactly
Corbyn who has always been ultra-left-anti-EU ( "it's a capitalist employer's ramp" ) & most importantly ... has not changed his opinions or learnt one little ting at all since 1975/
I THINK that the rest of us have learnt things & changed our opinions in the past 45 years?
What might have happened if there had been a pro-EU Labour leader, who knows? Someone who'd have pushed with passion for us to stay in the EU, one who believed in the freedoms and protections that we're losing. The fight might still have been lost,... No, it would not have been lost - remember that the majority for Brexshit was very narrow, & that with fuckwit JC merely shitting on his hands.

Nojay
I will repat something I've said a few lines up, especially for your benefit, as to why JC was & is hopeless, OK?
Corbyn who has always been ultra-left-anti-EU ( "it's a capitalist employer's ramp" ) & most importantly ... has not changed his opinions or learnt one little ting at all since 1975/
I THINK that the rest of us have learnt things & changed our opinions in the past 45 years?

Where I agree with you is that Maggie Roberts would never have stood for this madness - which tells you how utterly fucked we are to regard her as a bastion of sanity!

Troutwaxer
an attack on Taiwan will probably be indistinguishable from a high-powered attack on the U.S. economy. ... Which really scares me - it's actually an incentive for the PRC to attack Taiwan, because it trashes their opponent economically

JReynolds
More on that Birmingham book HERE

306:

I have no doubt that the UK is headed for a major stupidity incursion, possibly by getting into a war, possibly for other reasons.

Russia/no alternative? Kleptocracy plus "makes things tense when they should be calming things down." I'm not 100 percent sure they're headed for a serious war at some point in the next decade, but that's the way to bet.

307:

The US has become bizarrely used to the idea that wars they fight involve very little sacrifice.

The last war with significant US civilian casualties was the Civil War. Since WW2 the US has fought only much, much smaller nations. The one well-prepared minor power was the first Gulf War under Bush Senior, and that had a majority of the world’s best armed forces all helping in a fight in a big empty desert.

China is a superpower. Russia is a major regional power. This is not liking kicking over Afghan warlords. Think millions of US casualties.

No nation “chooses” to fight a war like that. They blunder into it by underestimating the resolve of the other side.

308:

Scott Sanford @ 249:

What I find really interesting in that article is the drawing by Lear himself, which features a runcible spoon without any prongs, in contrast to most definitions I came across.

After a quick Google image search to confirm that, yes. Both the original drawing and the photos of real objects. That 'Victorian runcible spoon' is a spork. I have seen sporks before.

I conjecture that silver Victorian-era antiques are considered too dignified to be publicly called sporks by stuffy people.

So, what about the "runcible hat" or the "runcible cat"? You could probably cut tines into the brim of a hat, but I think it's going to greatly annoy the cat.

309:

Allen Thomson @ 242: (4) Names again, leaving aside transliteration. Chinese is Family - Given (AIUI) and Russian in official documents tends to be the same. Spanish is Given - (other given) - Patronymic - Matronymic. And, of course, because patriarchy, the patronymic takes precedence. The President of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, is properly referred to as Presidente Cortizo. Please do not call him President Cohen.

And so it goes.

LAST_NAME; FIRST_NAME MIDDLE_INITIAL (or name) ... Cortizo; Laurentino C.

Fill in the blanks correctly, because that's the way you're going to be known for the rest of your life.

310:

Niala @ 257:

Tim H. @ 255: "We can't agree how to pronounce it and we live here!"

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/En-us-Missouri.ogg

Better aim low boys, they're riding Shetland Ponies!

311:

"No nation “chooses” to fight a war like that. They blunder into it by underestimating the resolve of the other side."

Exactly. Underestimate something, anyway.

312:

OK. So who is making things tense? The USA/NATO have been squeezing Russia economically and pushing it into a corner since 1991, and Biden has just done a major escalation.

313:

Sheeple are as inclined to vote left as right; 'Paul' etc. are simply drivelling that the use of the word is a leftist (pronounced 'damn commie') conspiracy. And anyone who was actually thinking would realise that my quoting of LBJ was making it clear that I was rejecting the Great Truth idea that is a characteristic of the belief of many groups of sheeple.

Anyone who uncritically takes their belief from a demogogue or anyone who is likely to be one, is one of the sheeple. THAT'S the meaning. Yes, it's rude and it's meant to be.

314:

@302 "Russia may be another matter. The problem here is that the country is a kleptocracy, and I suspect that the nature of such things is that after you've stolen everything that's stealable in-country you go looking for excuses to loot other countries."

What's there to loot? In a post-industrial economy, the wealth is generated by human capital, trade networks, and the money is digital. Guess what would disappear in the first 5 minutes of an invasion? I agree with JReynolds that this idea is "bananas"

@295 "I was amazed that in each of the three estimates (IMF, World Bank and UN), Canada's GDP was higher than Russia's."

This figure is often trotted out, but it's a red herring for 2 reasons
1. Canada is among the top 10 economies in the world. Another way to look at it is that Russia's economy is on par with South Korea's. That's very impressive for a nation which was a crumbling mess just 2 decades ago and has spent 7 years under sanctions.

2. For military reasons, GDP (PPP) matters more, since that determines how impressive the military is. Here it ranks 6th in the world. Note that this makes it a regional power, not a superpower. I think that only China and the US qualify as superpowers (the EU doesn't, and neither do Japan and India).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)

Overall, I think the calculus for Russia is the same as for China: how many casualties can the West sustain before it pulls out, and how many casualties can Russia sustain before the population turns against Putin

315:

How far back do you want to go? Neither country has been good to the other since God was a pup. It's tit-for-tat game-theory run amok and neither side seems able to keep from poking the other in the eye. At this point "who started it" is secondary to "how can we stop this?"

316:

I THINK the USA recognises Taiwan as a separate country, these days?

Ah, nope.

The US has always recognized "one China". It was just a matter of which power center was recognized as the official government. And that was switched by Nixon.

Not to say there are not people still asking the question of "Who lost China" who were not alive when Mao drove the nationalists to Taiwan.

But official US policy to Taiwan is complicated, confusing, and to be blunt, logically inconsistant due to our official statements that there is only "One" China. We sell them arms. We do deals. We tell China to leave them alone. Sort of. Mostly. But we don't have a full ambassador there.

317:

Allen Thomson @ 280:

Assuming we were trying to meet demand for electricity from renewables only and using storage...

Have you seen any estimates of how many GWh storage/backup(*) would be needed for each installed GW of wind (or wind + solar)? Since the wind can go for several days at really low levels, that seems to imply something like 100 GWh/GW, no?

(*) The UK currently uses gas turbines for much of the backup and those are well suited to the task -- except for the "gas" part.

To what extent does retrofitting for energy efficiency to reduce demand play a role in the U.K.? Well insulated buildings should require less heat in the winter and well designed insulation should require less cooling in the summer1.

I know Charlie has posted in the past about being in some kind of designated world heritage area where he's not allowed to make even minor modifications (such as fitting insulated windows - not even on the inside where they wouldn't be seen). Or have I misunderstood?

1 My house was built with NO insulation. As I remodel/repair I've been trying to add insulation in the walls & seal the windows to reduce my energy use.

318:

I've mostly given up trying to point out reality to you and the other nuclear true believers but this just got my goat.

"The cost of pumped-water grid power storage is about £200 million per GWh."

No it's fucking not.

Snowy 2.0, generally agreed to be a be useless, over cost project, utterly knobbled by a government that's owned by fossil fuel interests and controlled day to day by Murdoch, has 350 GWh of storage for about £2 billion, so about £6 million per GWh. That's on the driest inhabited continent, that's also the flattest continent (inhabited or not). Literally the worst place in the world (of continental size) that you could try to build pumped hydro, built by the most anti renewable energy government in the world and its still about 1/40th of the cost you're claiming.

319:

Ioan @ 286:

"Give the U.S. a war where the military is accomplishing something that can be successfully sold as good policy and the U.S. public will get behind them with an 80-95 percent approval rating. I think that keeping China from gobbling it's neighbors will qualify, as will keeping Russia from gobbling it's neighbors."

That may hold for the generation that remembers the Cold War, and is predominantly white. The younger generation doesn't remember the Cold War, and treat Europe with, at best, indifference. If China or Russia were swallowing countries where they have extended family, attitudes would change. Note that the East Asian American population skews older, with 70% of Asian Americans identifying as Chinese, Indian, of Filipinos.

It might be broadly popular, but I doubt it would breach 60% among the younger generation, roughly the popularity of both the Iraq and Vietnam Wars at the beginning.

You're probably right that the public might be willing to support higher casualties for popular wars. I also agree that a war against Iran wouldn't be popular. I'm just not sure that protecting Taiwan or Europe would be more popular these days?

The "younger generation" has never had to face THE DRAFT. The current "all volunteer" military affects approximately 1.5% of the U.S. population, INCLUDING the National Guard & Reserves, and the family, friends & loved ones of service members.

Opposition to any war the U.S. becomes involved in won't build until it begins to affect the folks back home. And any direct attack on the U.S. or U.S. territories would likely increase, rather than decrease, support for war.

Can you say "Pearl Harbor boys 'n girls?

320:

You're absolutely right about the danger of "top trumps" comparisons -- but my broader point was that China develops its own kit, it's not just using stuff bought off-the-shelf from other manufacturing powers. Which strongly suggests to me that they're developing their own doctrine in parallel with the weapons systems. And as you say, they got a ringside seat in 1991 and 2003 ... and have had 20-30 years to assimilate the lessons about what they can expect to face in a conflict with the USA.

I think a stabilizing factor in China/Taiwan that doesn't get enough attention here is that any invasion of Taiwan would effectively slaughter the goose that lays the golden eggs. Right now Taiwan (via TSMC) is more or less the dominant chip fab on the planet. In event of an invasion, that's going to be toast for a couple of years, at least -- even without factoring in sanctions on Chinese products. China is a major industrial exporter and those sanctions would kneecap their balance of trade and hit the middle classes in their pocket, breaking the implied social contract the CCP settled after Tiananmen Square (total control of the political sphere in return for delivering economic prosperity): the risk of social instability at home can't be discounted.

321:

To what extent does retrofitting for energy efficiency to reduce demand play a role in the U.K.? Well insulated buildings should require less heat in the winter and well designed insulation should require less cooling in the summer

British governments have been providing funding for upgrading insulation in homes for the past couple of decades. It's helped a little but it also resulted in part in the Grenfell Tower fire where the externally applied insulation kept 70-odd people warm for the rest of their life (tm Terry Pratchett). Since then there's been a bit of backing-off of retrofits of that sort while the coroner's courts sit and the investigations continue.

It's still the case that we need a shitload of energy in winter to provide heat, even with good insulation installed in most or all homes, businesses, offices, workplaces, hospitals etc. at a cost of hundreds of billions over several decades. The peak figure I found online recently, unsourced unfortunately, was for 2010 when the maximum energy requirement for heating was 300GW nationwide in the UK.

Even if we cut that requirement in half with earth-houses for all and/or Todos Santos style apartment blocks that would be 150GW of non-fossil-fuel energy just for heat plus another 50GW of electricity for everything else. Right now, after a decade of throwing money at wind renewables and some solar too we've got about 25GW dataplate wind capacity that on a good day generates 12GW of electricity, on a bad day it generates 500MW. Solar, in the summer that can peak at 6GW at noon but it produces zilch when it's dark and cold. Good or bad, we have to have that 150-200GW of heat when we need it and if the wind doesn't blow we'll burn gas, oil or even coal and damn the climate.

322:

JReynolds @ 295: Troutwaxer @284:

keeping Russia from gobbling its neighbors.

A few months ago I looked up GDP figures per country.

I was amazed that in each of the three estimates (IMF, World Bank and UN), Canada's GDP was higher than Russia's.

The notion that Russia could invade and conquer all (or some) of the territories of the former USSR is just bananas - they could certainly try, but they would fail. Even with no push-back from the EU, US, or anybody else, they'd be facing endless guerilla warfare in the occupied territories, plus sanctions, plus terrorist strikes inside Russia.

My $0.02.

I don't think Putin shares your skepticism. I wonder what the residents of the Crimea or Donbas think about the possibility of Russian conquest.

323:

Elderly Cynic @ 312: OK. So who is making things tense? The USA/NATO have been squeezing Russia economically and pushing it into a corner since 1991, and Biden has just done a major escalation.

That's what the Russian's say. OTOH, they also say they don't try to interfere in U.S. elections.

324:

More efficient heating would probably do a better job than insulation (though obviously both is better).

A split system reverse cycle aircon that provides 8 kW of heating costs about £600.

https://www.thegoodguys.com.au/hisense-c71kw-h8kw-reverse-cycle-split-system-hsa71r

Reverse cycle aircon, (heat pumps) of reasonable quality produce about 5 times more heat than they consume as electricity. So straight off that cuts the 300 GW to 60 GW.

325:

Ioan
It seems ( "seems" notice ) that the Ru population are no longer enthusiastic about a war in Ukraine ... too many "little green men" died last time around & they are getting apathetic, if not pissed-off.

JBS
Or S Osettia or Georgia, or "the Baltics" or Moldova, or ....

326:

I think a stabilizing factor in China/Taiwan that doesn't get enough attention here is that any invasion of Taiwan would effectively slaughter the goose that lays the golden eggs. Right now Taiwan (via TSMC) is more or less the dominant chip fab on the planet.

TSMC has the best manufacturing processes for the highest-value chips using extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) wavelengths. The machines that create and manipulate light at those frequencies come from, I think, a Dutch company. The mainland Chinese would like to buy these EUV imaging systems and build their own high-end chip manufacturing plants, the Americans have said no to this because it would mean giving up a stick to beat the Chinese with (see also access to the ISS as well as several other major collaborative scientific projects around the world).

The result is that the mainland Chinese are clearly aiming for homegrown EUV chip manufacturing to be able to match TSMC's production capabilities. They are, of course, indulging in industrial espionage on the grand scale but they're also pumping billions into basic research and development to accomplish this and they've got the technologists and scientists who can probably succeed in this. Saying that there's a lot of technical 'magic' in working at the 5nm level, getting a production line on that scale working reliably takes billions of dollars and the ritual sacrifice of a young goat with a black-handled knife on occasion.

The Next Big Thing is X-rays for 3nm and lower chips but AFAIK no-one has a good handle on how to achieve that sort of process at any cost right now.

327:

1. Sanctions on selling civilian aerospace material to China would also hurt them.
2. It's not just the foundry. All the leading semiconductor equipment companies are US allies
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiconductor_equipment_sales_leaders_by_year

I know that China doesn't have an equivalent to ASML, I think the same holds true for the other 9 in this list

328:

Thanks for the info about the Snowy 2.0 project. I ran the numbers and it turns out to get hold of the 350GWh of headline storage capacity would involve draining the top reservoir from top-full to dry pretty much -- about 250 million tonnes of water down 700 metres or so to the lower reservoir, plus conversion losses. It's not actually likely this will ever happen but that's normal in pumped-storage systems.

It helps that the top reservoir is already in place and its construction costs are already covered but there's a lot of tunneling involved and I'll be surprised it the project comes in at the specified budget. Still a very cost-effective scheme looking at the capacity and capabilities.

329:

Nojay @ 321:

To what extent does retrofitting for energy efficiency to reduce demand play a role in the U.K.? Well insulated buildings should require less heat in the winter and well designed insulation should require less cooling in the summer

British governments have been providing funding for upgrading insulation in homes for the past couple of decades. It's helped a little but it also resulted in part in the Grenfell Tower fire where the externally applied insulation kept 70-odd people warm for the rest of their life (tm Terry Pratchett). Since then there's been a bit of backing-off of retrofits of that sort while the coroner's courts sit and the investigations continue.

It's no good to insulate if you're going to do it in a slip-shod manner that kills people. Still, there should be ways to do it that don't place lives at risk. One thing I've read about Grenfell Tower is the "landlord" knew they were installing unsafe materials. And they were actively resisting the resident's fire safety complaints prior to the fire.

It's still the case that we need a shitload of energy in winter to provide heat, even with good insulation installed in most or all homes, businesses, offices, workplaces, hospitals etc. at a cost of hundreds of billions over several decades. The peak figure I found online recently, unsourced unfortunately, was for 2010 when the maximum energy requirement for heating was 300GW nationwide in the UK.

Even if we cut that requirement in half with earth-houses for all and/or Todos Santos style apartment blocks that would be 150GW of non-fossil-fuel energy just for heat plus another 50GW of electricity for everything else. Right now, after a decade of throwing money at wind renewables and some solar too we've got about 25GW dataplate wind capacity that on a good day generates 12GW of electricity, on a bad day it generates 500MW. Solar, in the summer that can peak at 6GW at noon but it produces zilch when it's dark and cold. Good or bad, we have to have that 150-200GW of heat when we need it and if the wind doesn't blow we'll burn gas, oil or even coal and damn the climate.

If you CAN reduce demand that's going to reduce the need to burn fossil fuels. I don't expect it can be the whole strategy, but it should be part of an overall energy strategy.

330:

Re: ' ... but they're also pumping billions into basic research and development '

'R&D Intensity' (how much of the gov't budget goes into R&D) places the US 10th globally. Private/corp R&D spending in the US has also dropped off. So basically the US is telling the world to look elsewhere for tech leadership. (Unless the US is/was banking on specializing in only a few select 'can't lose' areas --- which also doesn't really make that much sense because that's not how R&D works.)

https://www.aaas.org/news/snapshot-us-rd-competitiveness-2020-update

Makes me wonder how any sane USian was okay with the major cuts to R&D by the previous Admin. You cannot be a tech leader without doing the R&D. Biden's budget includes a huge boost for R&D - wonder how Mitch/GOP are going to distort the merits of this. Of course if you're going to do hi-tech R&D then you'll need to properly educate your population across the core sciences. Hmm - maybe that's what they're afraid of: a science-literate electorate.

331:

OK. So who is making things tense?

Perhaps, and this is just a suggestion based on observed behaviour rather than interpretation of intent, it's the country that invaded and occupied Crimea, astroturfed an armed rebellion in Donetsk, has been fighting in eastern Ukraine for the past few years (tanks, artillery, and shooting down airliners), and which just moved 20,000 troops up towards the Ukrainian border?

You know, the one that attempts to murder/imprisons its domestic political opponents, used chemical and radiological weapons in the UK, etc, etc?


...Biden has just done a major escalation.

Yeah, phoning Putin to discuss the situation and to propose a summit, how dare he!

The most optimistic interpretation of Russian behaviour is that it's diplomatic attention-seeking; "We do our big spring training exercises near the Ukraine, and Biden will be forced to hold talks with us!". Putin stops being ignored, maybe gets some leverage to reduce the sanctions against his corrupt buddies...

The most pessimistic interpretation is that Putin and the kleptocracy are feeling uncertain in the face of domestic political opposition (see: Navalny), and have decided to follow the Tsarist Interior Minister's observation that "...what this country needs is a short victorious war to stem the tide of revolution". After all, they may believe that France and Germany will veto any military response to (say) another landgrab in Ukraine.

Somewhere in the middle, there are soldiers getting rather twitchy about what the politicians intend.

332:

The US has become bizarrely used to the idea that wars they fight involve very little sacrifice.

You might assume that of US politicians; but I suspect that if you talk to anyone connected to the US military, they'll disabuse you of that opinion. I mean, a couple of trillion dollars, thousands of dead US soldiers, and nearly twenty years of what many AIUI refer to as "The Forever War"? There are career US soldiers who have done four tours of Afghanistan, and many reservists who have done two tours.


The one well-prepared minor power was the first Gulf War under Bush Senior

I really think you should add the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to that list. Mainly because they won. You might consider adding Afghanistan, who have just seen off their third invading Empire of the past two hundred years.

333:

@ Nojay 274:
Asked it before, but does anyone have an estimate of how much of the the ~300GWe needed for heating during the UK winter could be reduced through efficient insulation, ground heat pumps, maybe district heating?

334:

You might consider adding Afghanistan, who have just seen off their third invading Empire of the past two hundred years.

Quoting a remark from years ago, more political snark: Obviously the US has to get out of Afghanistan soon. The Communist Chinese can't invade while the Americans are still there, and can you really call yourself an empire if you haven't invaded Afghanistan and learned to regret it?

335:

Yeah, phoning Putin to discuss the situation and to propose a summit, how dare he!
There's this:
FACT SHEET: Imposing Costs for Harmful Foreign Activities by the Russian Government (April 15, 2021)
Overall, it's relatively tame and focused, though it will sting.
Re the SolarWinds operation,
"The U.S. Intelligence Community has high confidence in its assessment of attribution to the SVR."
I do not know how robust their attribution is, or the nature of the evidence used to support the attribution.(Whoever tripped the Duo MFA new-device alert (could be a different actor) at FireEye put these USA counter moves into motion.)

They sort of walked back the Afghanistan soldier bounty allegations, indicating "low to moderate" confidence.[1]

Putin and his inner circle are IMO high on their own supply (of manipulative misinformation) re the J. Biden administration's competence and in particular re Biden's mental competence. This is quite hazardous; in particular Americans can be bug-fuckin dangerous when threatened. Ideally the Russians feel reassured about the measured response summarized in the above link. (While expressing outrage, of course.)

[1] https://www.thedailybeast.com/us-intel-walks-back-claim-russians-put-bounties-on-american-troops

336:

With all this talk of Brexit, maybe Britain should just go big or go home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHglo_N7P_Y

Canzuk (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom).

The idea goes back at least as far as Winston Churchill's dream of a Union of English Speaking Peoples.

And it is probably just a pipe dream. but on paper the Canzuk Union has a lot going for it.

Britain restores itself as world power instead of devolving into insignificance.

Unlike the EU, Canzuk members are culturally similar, with equivalent standards of living and with the same language (unlike, say the Spaniards and Danes)

It would be the largest country by land area in the world, with vast natural resources.

Increased trade, free movement of people, greater diplomatic leverage...

Becoming an oil producing trading block on par with NAFTA, the EU, Shanghai Accord, and ASEAN would let Britain still play with the big boys.

Canada is becoming the third wheel in a Mexico-USA centered NAFTA anyway, why not join up with the other dominions as a separate trading block? Let NAFTA become Latin American oriented (LAFTA?)

Australia and NZ can stand up to China.

You could throw in mostly English speaking India and post-apartheid South Africa.

Ironically, with India's demographic and economic potential, Empire 2.0 might be ruled from New Dehli while London becomes its "New York", a cultural and financial center.

Britain provides financing, Australia NZ and Canada provide natural resources, and India provides industry.

Or is this all just an exercise in imperial nostalgia?

Empire 2 - electric boogaloo.


337:

The Communist Chinese can't invade while the Americans are still there, and can you really call yourself an empire if you haven't invaded Afghanistan and learned to regret it?

Heh. About a week before the Soviet Union went into Afghanistan, some colleagues and I were wondering what was going to happen. "Surely the Soviet General Staff knows what happens to empires that invade Afghanistan", we said.

And then they went in and it did happen.

And then the American empire did go in and it did happen.

I suppose it's only fair that China gets its turn. One might hope that they'd be smarter about it, not send in military units but Belt and Road development projects.

But we'll see.

338:

There have been grants available for decades for stuff like loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, double glazing, and so on; loft insulation in particular has been plugged for a good 4 decades off the top of my head, and longer if you exclude the actual "grant" part of the plugging.

Most houses I see have got double glazing now, whether through choice or through natural replacement of mouldy old wooden window frames, which it has now become hard to do without getting a double glazed replacement; the main exceptions, apart from people in situations like Charlie's, are the poor bastards who have got sash windows and so need it the most, but usually lack the clarity of mind to productively address the problem. It makes a tremendous difference, both in reduced heat loss through the panes and in massively improved draught exclusion; living in the same house before and after the contrast is dramatic. As a bonus the double glazed units are louder and slower for burglars to negotiate than the old windows were.

Loft insulation seems also to be pretty widespread, but a lot of it is a bit crap due to age; I think the current recommendation is something like 150mm of fibreglass wool, but go back a bit and they were telling people to put down 50mm or even 25mm - which to be sure is a lot better than the nothing at all there was before, but is really not enough; and people moving in subsequently tend to think that having whatever is there already means they don't need to improve on it.

Cavity wall insulation is hard to guess at; it's been around for ages but you still get people coming round offering to drill a hole in your wall to see if you've got it and telling you encouraging stories about what grants you can get for it if they find you haven't. So I would suspect there are still a good many houses without it. And there are certainly very many older houses that only have single leaf walls to begin with. These are a problem. I have seen streets of them treated by gluing 100mm of expanded polystyrene to the outside of the walls (and then pebbledashing it), but it doesn't seem to work all that well, and there are far more streets where it wouldn't work at all for one reason or another than where it might. Similar story with underfloor insulation - not applicable if you don't have a void floor, and those who do often don't know you can do it.

Those are the big ones, because nearly every house that isn't old enough to have attracted regulations akin to Charlie's is some kind of brick box with a peaked roof on top, so those are the things you can do to it and if for some reason you can't you're basically stuck. They do make a great deal of difference if you do everything and do it thoroughly. It's not out of reach to make a house approach significantly closely the ideal of needing no explicit space heating over and above the waste heat from other appliances and metabolisms; mine gets fairly close, but very many that could fall a long way short in practice.

Few houses have aircon. While hot spots do exist, most of the country never gets hot enough for long enough at a time to make it worth the bother. And it is expensive and a maintenance hassle. It mostly seems to be installed by rich people who would do better just to open a window so they can say they've got it, rather than in response to a need. This means there are no quick gains to be had from making it run backwards as a heater. Heat pump systems do exist but they are expensive and a pain in the arse to install, and may well still be more expensive than gas to run; real world gains seem to come out at about 2.5-3x for ground source and somewhat less for air source, whereas gas tends to be cheaper than electricity by roughly twice the expected heat pump gain, so you need to be Committed, or else not on the gas grid, for it to be worth bothering at all.

At a very rough guess I reckon there's a good enough chance of halving the heating usage if you can work out what to do about all the sash windows and single leaf walls, and manage to get every house thoroughly up to the mark. Beyond that it gets really difficult, because you start having to completely replace huge numbers of houses with brand new ones.

339:

Eh... not so much. As far as the brass went, a lot of them had been there long enough to experience asymmetrical engagements where they could get away with being a bit shit, followed by the Boer war which demonstrated rather clearly what happens when you get to expect everything to be like that, and (even if not in every quarter) Lessons were Learned. There had been considerable study of what kind of shape a European war against a modern adversary might take; it had predicted really rather well what kind of tactics and weapons would be successful and what would not, and in the opening weeks the BEF were often using methods that are usually thought of as having been discovered only later in the war, where "rediscovered" would suit the case better. Not that there were not also plenty of blind gods of the cavalry who basically didn't want to know; there were, but they were a lot less preponderant than the popular image would have it.

At grunt level, most of them hadn't been there long enough to be veterans of anything much, although there were still quite a lot of Boer war vets. The point there wasn't that they were a veteran army so much as that they were a professional army; they joined up of their own accord, expecting to serve for many years, and so could be better trained, better integrated and better motivated than people who had been forced to join up Or Else, spent two or three years going through the motions and then promptly forgot everything as soon as they got out, such as the continental conscript systems readily produced. Of course, some conscript-trained soldiers were highly enthusiastic, but they were still lacking in the basic knowing their stuff department.

The overwhelming problem they faced was simply that the force was too ruddy small, and for political reasons was compelled to take a token part in the principal front alongside the French (who were annihilating similarly-sized chunks of their own forces every few days in dumb-arsed attempts further south along the front to defeat machine guns with bodies that nobody ever talks about, and so could not really be said to have lacked the troops to cover the whole front), and in many ways drew the short straw in the nature of the bit they got to cover. So the attrition rate over the first few months of the war, while of little concern to the much larger French army, was enough to wipe out most of the BEF, and the high training and cohesion with it. The few good soldiers that remained were then swamped in a mass of raw recruits many of whom barely knew which way round to hold a rifle, and the innovations in tactics were also lost as the army was no longer capable of implementing them.

Similarly with shortage of up-to-date weapons; to begin with they were not short of machine guns, nor entirely ignorant of indirect fire techniques (albeit less refined than subsequent development would make them). But they only had enough to go round for a tiddly but well-trained army. In that army's annihilation and replacement the knowledge and habits were lost.

(This is distinct from, although overlapping with, the shortages of shells and other munitions after the first spasm of the war. All the participants had failed to anticipate the length of the war and the scale of production required, and they all got bitten by that one in their own way. The BEF's situation is different by way of the massive dilution of knowledge to the point of virtual extinction, and the loss of the habits of weaponry that went with it.)

Had the BEF been fighting against a German army of comparable size, it would be a lot clearer that they were in fact not unable to fight an advanced opponent. What they couldn't do was fight off such a sodding big one.

It's not really the case that they were "demoralised" after the retreat preceding the Battle of the Marne; they were knackered, and hungry, and pissed off at having to retreat, but they still had the will to fight. It was only Sir John French who was demoralised; he had lost his bottle and was retreating and greeting and threatening to pull the BEF out of France altogether, until ?Joffre told him to stop being a big baby and made him pull his socks up.

340:

...Biden has just done a major escalation.

Yeah, phoning Putin to discuss the situation and to propose a summit, how dare he!

You missed the changes in the last 24 hours.

341:

You might assume that of US politicians; but I suspect that if you talk to anyone connected to the US military, they'll disabuse you of that opinion.

The vast majority of people in the US never talk to that group. It is a small slice of the population and even though I live within an hour or so of 2 major bases with troops overseas it is more of a news cast status update than a war. It is just not a part of daily life of 98% of the population. And for those where it is, they are not evenly distributed through society.

Which creates so many societal problems.

342:

SFR
Of course if you're going to do hi-tech R&D then you'll need to properly educate your population across the core sciences. Hmm - maybe that's what they're afraid of: a science-literate electorate.
Remember that huge numbers of USA-ians have been brainwashed into Cretinism, & simply do not accept any of the modern biological sciences.

Martin ( & EC )
ISTM that the real problem is that Putin ( Like IQ45 ) believes that politics, especially internationally, is a zero-sum game. This can lead to "very bad outcomes" shall we say?

Afghanistan
Everyone forgets the successful invasion - the 3rd British one ... where we went in, quickly, trashed the opposition, re-installed a semi-puppet leader, told him, "Do what you like, but don't give us border trouble" - & then, very quickly, effed off, back to India. Worked (approximately) 1920-1970....

Pigeon
You'd be suprised at how effective single-glazing, but with the window curtains long enough to JUST tuck into the top of the under-window radiators is (!)
Heat pumps? ( i.e. refrigerators in reverse ? )

And ... at Mons the BEF gave the advancing Germans a very bloody nose, but they had to retreat, because their flanks were turned

343:

Duffy @ 336: "Or is this all just an exercise in imperial nostalgia?"

You bet, and its proponents haven't noticed the Trans-Pacific free trade accord, where the UK is currently a supplicant, sorry I mean applicant.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comprehensive_and_Progressive_Agreement_for_Trans-Pacific_Partnership

344:

on paper the Canzuk Union has a lot going for it.

Only if you're a white supremacist dipshit. Because when you scratch the Canzuk advocates' backgrounds, what you find is usually an acute case of swastika envy, or at minimum a hankering for the good old days of Apartheid-era South Africa.

"Empire 2.0" was in fact suggested by some of the more swivel-eyed brexiters a couple of years ago and roundly ridiculed, especially once anyone thought to ask the other postulated national partners what they thought of the idea.

Hint: these days India has got more nuclear weapons than the UK, and the home-grown ability to put probes into orbit around Mars.

345:

#318 Para 4 - So Australia has pump storage HEP built by the USA!?

#338 - Where I am presently, nearly every house I can see is made of sandstone, about 12 inches thick.
The others are cavity wall brick bungalows, with loft/roof conversions to make an extra room.

346:

"Heat pumps? ( i.e. refrigerators in reverse ? )"

Yep.

Pigeon's numbers are a bit overly conservative. He's saying under 2.5 CoP for air sourced reverse cycle air conditioners. Australia and New Zealand share a rating system and it gets cold in New Zealand. You can find plenty of air to air units that are better than 5 when measured with an outside air temperature of 2 degrees. (2 degrees being the standard)

Ground sourced heat pumps can break 10, *if* they're used properly, and not as a drop in replacement for a boiler. If you're heating from a ground temperature of say 10, up to a room temperature of 20,that's easy. If you're trying to heat water to 60-70 and put it into existing radiators at then you'll struggle to hit 2.

347:

Or Britain can continue to devolve into its component parts: Scotland, Ulster, Wales, Isle of Man, Cornwall, London City, etc. - many of whom would rejoin the EU.

Each becoming as important on the world stage as Lithuania.

And having left the EU with its agricultural price support policies (which Britain can no longer take advantage of) it's got to find food somewhere.

The American farmer will be happy to oblige, for a price.

Maybe one day protesting Englishmen will be throwing American tea into the Thames.

348:

We might be small, but we punch above our weight when it comes to stupid.

Here's our current leader's famous "this is coal" speech. Not quite JFK's "not because they are easy, but because they are hard".

https://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2017/feb/09/scott-morrison-brings-a-chunk-of-coal-into-parliament-video

349:

Ground sourced heat pumps, great! How well do they work for a block of eight large flats plus two street-facing shops here in Edinburgh, where I live? We have a drying green out back on the north side of the building that gets buggerall sunlight to warm up the soil to provide ongoing heat energy for the pump. The drying green is approximately 6 metres square and seems to be mostly rocks under a thin layer of turf.

There's a shitload and three-quarters people in the UK who live in similar properties, ten-story apartment blocks and terraced housing and the like. We've had this discussion about solar panels in the past with I've Got Mine Fuck You Randist types saying that of course everyone can get free electricity that way after slapping £10,000 worth of panels on the roof of a house they own worth £200,000 and installing a £5,000 battery pack so what's the problem?

350:

I do recommend this guy (I don't always agree with him but he is always interesting) on how America is going to treat post-Brexit Britain (main point starts at 3:30):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSKZ3JfJm8o

Before we are through forcing a new trade deal on you, Britain may as well become our 51st state (on the plus side Americans really are fascinated with the Royals and may take them off your hands).

Zeihan's presentations boil down to a few main points concerning how the world has changed:

1. End of the Cold War made all our assumptions obsolete.

With the Evil Empire gone, American foreign and trade policy makes no sense and is continuing through simple inertia. After WWII America bribed together a coalition to fight godless communism in return for offering the services of the American navy to maintain free trade. However, this global trade system is not something America participates in very much, exports make up a relatively small part of our overall GDP. We could go isolationist tomorrow and do just fine (because of point 2 below). The rest of the world OTOH would go to economic hell in a hand basket.

This something Trump actually understood, but he tried to execute a new foreign policy in his typically vulgar, thuggish, ham-fisted and incompetent manner. Future American administrations will continue to dismantle our now obsolete post-WWII foreign policy structure, but with more finesse. Future presidents will be America First - they will just be nicer about it.

2. The shale revolution has made America energy independent.

That's a huge change. Indeed, we will later this year become the world's second largest exporter of oil and natural gas after the Saudis. As such, we no longer give a rat's ass about the Persian Gulf, the Middle East or even Israel (except for reasons of sentiment). And American boys will no longer be dying in the mountains of Afghanistan. As such we hold the reins. Want to crush Putin's Russia? Flood the would markets with American oil and natural gas and watch energy prices collapse along with the Russian economy.

In either case, America really doesn't need the rest of the world anymore. But the rest of the world desperately depends on the US navy.

3. Demographics are destiny.

See the following videos explaining what aging and shrinking populations do to military strength, government spending, national debt and capital markets:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9zH1dWeKE0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a12amneWnQ

As such China is already a dead man walking. Russia has one foot in the grave. Europe will stay on life support. Japan only maintains its economy by going ever more massively into debt.

There is no such thing a no-growth capitalism and economic growth is not physically possible with shrinking and aging populations . Only two nations have healthy (from an economic point of view) demographics are America and India (which is the next superpower, not China). Also throw in México whose demographic profile makes it the prefect economic partner for America - not Canada (which is why Canada is now NAFTA's third wheel).

With an aging/declining population, China's economy is now based not on consumption or even exports but on inventory building (like those vast empty cities they built just to keep workers and investors happy and nobody lives in). As such their economy is a Ponzi scheme using Enron-like accounting that will collapse like a house of cards. It explains why the CCP has gone uber-nationalist and authoritarian. A storm is coming and the men in Beijing know it.

(Fun Fact: by 2100 half of the world's working age population will be living in sub-Saharan Africa.)

They are all short videos, so get a cup of coffee and watch them all. Then watch his full hour and a half presentations. He's not always right, but he is insightful and very interesting.

P.S. Though aging/shrinking populations doom capitalism they may save yet the planet form extinction level global warming. So there you have it. You can either have a vibrant economy or a living planet. You can't have both.

351:

>Hint: these days India has got more nuclear weapons than the UK, and the home-grown ability to put probes into orbit around Mars.

Which is why any Empire 2.0 reboot would be ruled from New Delhi.

352:

I disagree, in one small respect with his lend-lease analogy. In the period 1945-1970, we were in hock to the USA up to our eyeballs, but maintained a degree of independence; in the forthcoming deal, we will not be so indebted to the USA, but will sacrifice the last of our independence.

I am expecting the trade deal (when we have tugged our forelock and accepted our serfdom) to breach our EU deal in ways that make the current Northern Ireland breach look piffling. In which case, I am pretty sure that the EU will close its borders to our food exports and in other ways. I am also expecting the UK to be told to enforce the DMCA and most of the rest of USA IP law.

You are also wrong when you say that there is no such thing as no-growth capitalism. There is, but it's not the sort of capitalism we have.

353:

>There is, but it's not the sort of capitalism we have

It is also the kind of capitalism that investors are not interested in.

354:

Well, sort of. Gorbachev and Yeltsin did their best to achieve rapprochement with the West, and were repeatedly kicked in the teeth, which is why Putin was elected. Yes, he views everything as a zero-sum game, because that is the game that the USA/NATO have forced Russia into!

To remind people with selective memories, Biden started off his presidency by publicly abusing Putin and imposing sanctions against Nordstream 2. It surprised me that he was so crude and blatant, but I was expecting something like that.

https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2021/02/12/bidens-sanctions-policy-the-first-steps/

355:

I fully agree. And investors can get stuffed - yes, I am one, and would willingly sacrifice my gains from that if there were an opportunity for a better society.

356:

Please remind Mr. Putin that payback's a bitch.

And make no mistake, we can hurt the Russian with impunity and their only remaining weapons', cyberwarfare, is even now having its teeth pulled by the NSA and CIA.

That's how America fights wars. Whether its Pearl Harbor or the 2016 presidential election we first get our butts kicked, then get pissed off, recover and wipe the floor with our opponent. I hope Putin likes the taste of merde because we are going to make him eat a lot of it.

He can't hurt us by hurting NATO because we are now basically just an honorary member. However, we can crush his economy by opening up the spigots from our fracking operations. And demographically Russia is receiving last rites. Putin has less than 10 years to achieve his foreign policy goals before there are too few draftable Russian males to fill the ranks of the military and enough STEM trained cadres to keep the lights on and nuclear weapons functioning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkuhWA9GdCo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcBfz2VUmUI

357:

Like many pundits he's stuck in the early 20th century mindset that productivity depends on people lined up at factory workbenches and sitting at desks in office, ignoring increased levels of automation and more advanced machinery and data processing. This attitude is a hangover from the past when a country thrived or starved depending on how many people were out in the fields digging at the dirt with pointed sticks. Too few people or too few pointed sticks = calamity!

Japan has had a noticeably ageing population for thirty years and more and remains xenophobic and anti-immigrant to a much greater extent than most advanced nations and yet Japan has some of the best economic performance figures over the same period. The reason is automation with machines doing the work rather than people who are generally in short supply nowadays. Saying that a remarkable amount of the Japanese irregular workforce consists of ojisans and obaasans, 70-year-olds out in the fields[1] or helping out in the family restaurant business in the kitchens. Just because they're old doesn't mean they are totally incapable of carrying out productive work.

[1] Nowadays "rice farming" can involve piloting a pesticide-spraying drone over the family's rice paddies rather than stoop labour in mud.

358:

I think we've fully established that nothing invented in the last 300 years can work in Edinburgh theme park.

It would be nice if we could save civilisation, but if it doesn't work in Edinburgh (and nothing does except nuclear for some reason no one can explain) then it can't work anywhere.

Of course people might say that heat pumps work perfectly fine from Hong Kong highrises to Sydney terrace housing to Swedish and Shetlands district heating. But they'd be wrong because it doesn't work in Edinburgh...

https://www.shetnews.co.uk/2014/10/30/taking-the-heat-out-of-the-sea/

Sarcasm aside, your borehole would be 150m deep and drawing heat from a circle 300m or more in diameter. Or you could (if it wasn't Edinburgh where nothing works) use air to air and make use of the latent heat of vaporisation in the damp winter air.

359:

Electricity is usually piped in so it's covered by other peoples planning regulations.

Given that the issue seems to be that it is nigh impossible to get permission to change the buildings it's obvious that the solution is a city covering dome.

If you make it high enough then you could disrupt cloud cover to the point that solar becomes practical. Even if you don't go this far it would provide free insulation and the lack of atmospheric mixing would strongly encourage people to pollute less.

What's not to like?

360:

It would be nice if we could save civilisation, but if it doesn't work in Edinburgh (and nothing does except nuclear for some reason no one can explain) then it can't work anywhere.

If you're willing to write off half a million people who live in Edinburgh and billions more around the world who live in highly urban environments because you've got a solution that works for the low-population density area you live in, wonderful. That's the IGMFY attitude I was referring to.

As for why nuclear works -- it produces energy in the form of electricity to meet demand with no storage requirements and doesn't emit large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. Nothing else does that.

Right now renewables are backed up by burning cheap gas which emits large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine. Currently in the UK we're getting about 1.7GW from wind and 17GW from gas, for example. We have about 25GW of wind turbines and 35GW of gas generators installed. Either:

We build out a fuckton more renewables, fifty or more times what we've already got to provide for the slack times

Or we build out half a fuckton of extra renewables and lots of storage and hope we don't get a Black Swan event when the storage runs dry and the weather gods don't oblige

Or we continue to burn gas and hope no-one notices as the CO2 level in the atmosphere rises and rises and the next few COP meetings promise we'll do something substantive about climate change real soon now.

Kyoto Protocols 1997, CO2 level 360 ppm.

Paris accords 2015, CO2 level 400 ppm.

Today, a decade and more after the world embraced renewables as The Solution to climate change, CO2 level 418ppm.

361:

First practical suggestion.

362:

Scam emails ...

Anyone here noticing a bump in scam emails recently? None for about a month, followed by handful within a 24-hr period. (Decided to forward the most recent to the company that supposedly sent it - haven't heard back yet.)


Surprised that no one here has yet commented about this FBI-Hafnium story considering its obvious SF/conspiracy/autocracy/thriller elements.

https://www.wired.com/story/fbi-takes-drastic-step-to-fight-china-hacking-spree/

363:

"If you're willing to write off half a million people who live in Edinburgh and billions more around the world who live in highly urban environments because you've got a solution that works for the low-population density area you live in, wonderful. That's the IGMFY attitude I was referring to."

Note that you're including Hong Kong among the "low population density"...

I know usians get accused of being parochial, but surely this takes the cake. Hong Kong makes Edinburgh look like the Gobi Desert.

I'm hardly writing them off anyway. The UK uses 300 GW extra in winter. Heat pumps would cut that to 30-60 GW without spending a cent on retrofits which cost hundreds of thousands of pounds per dwelling (talk about I've got mine, insulation, and the rest of you poor people can get fucked!). It's a quick way for people of all incomes to have warm dry housing that actually pays for itself. A little public subsidy would cost several orders of magnitude less than hundreds of nuclear reactors and no one would even notice the expense. If the theme park residents can't have modern conveniences, then that half million (1% of the population) just use resistance heaters. Maybe they can put a tax on visitors to pay for the extra cost to residents of living in the park. That's 3 GW, so the UK winter consumption is 33-63 GW instead of 30-60. That's just noise. I'm pointing out that the people who live in the theme park don't matter, not because they are being written off, but because less than one percent of the population of the UK live in listed houses or world heritage theme parks. So they simply don't matter from a *global warming* perspective.

Far from that being randian, its a collective action sort of thing. To each according to need, from each according to ability. The theme park residents can't have efficient heating, so they're not expected to.

"As for why nuclear works [blah blah]"

I've never disputed that nuclear works (if you ignore that no one could conceivably pay for it, it would happen far too late and can't be built at the required scale). What I was gently ribbing you about is that no 21st century solution can be implemented "because Edinburgh", but that nuclear gets a free pass. Can't have solar at some remote location supplying the New Town, because it makes Mickey Mouse sad, but 200 Hinkley Point C is perfectly fine with the Mouse.

For reasons...

364:

About pumped hydro storage:

It turns out that there's a major such facility in Virginia. Wikipedia has some numbers on it:

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

[Lightly edited]

The Bath County Pumped Storage Station is a pumped storage hydroelectric power plant, with a maximum generation capacity of 3,003 MW, an average of 2,772 MW,[2] and a total storage capacity of 24,000 MWh. The station consists of two reservoirs separated by about 1,260 feet (380 m) in elevation.

Construction on the power station, with an original capacity of 2,100 megawatts began in March 1977 and was completed in December 1985 at a cost of $1.6 billion ($3.8 billion in 2019 dollars).

A database at Sandia National Labs,

https://www.sandia.gov/ess-ssl/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/GESDB_Projects_11_17_2020.xlsx

indicates the same 3 GW, but says it can run for 10 hours, so 30 GWh storage capacity.

$3.8e9/30 GWh = $127 million/GWh for construction. It would be interesting to get a number for O&M. Also to get construction figures for other pumped storage facilities to see how they scale with size.

365:

My mail system eats scam emails, so I don't know, but I'm getting about 4 scam phone calls a day.

366:

Honestly, a CANZUK union makes as little sense as an independent Scotland joining Canada instead of rejoining the EU. "Let's leave one union that hasn't done anything for us in 40+ years, and confederate with a country across the Atlantic Ocean! Makes total sense!"

(Although maybe Canada could join the EU? Wouldn't we be a slam-dunk, economy- and democracy-wise? Ignoring that bit about "European" in the "EU", of course).

A lot of the countries suggested as part of a wider union have serious democracy problems, in that democracy is either visibly eroding (India, UK) or has existing structural problems (Canada, what little I know of Australia).

These countries are interested in trade with each other. Closer political union? Come on!

367:

A few more from web-facing email address. Nothing more in gmail but that has pretty good filtering and I use it less frequently nowadays.

A definite increase in phone calls from subcontinental waterfowl cleaners, usually several a day.

368:

It's hard (impossible) to put a general figure on pumped hydro in terms of dollars per storage.

Batteries, a 12 Wh cell costs say 3 dollars. So 12 GWh costs 3 billion dollars (roughly).

With pumped hydro a 2 GW turbine costs say 2 billion dollars, and the pump costs 2 billion and the tunnels cost 2 billion, and the power lines cost 2 billion. So it's roughly 8 billion dollars, but the cost per storage depends on the size of the smaller of the top and bottom lakes and their height difference. And that depends entirely on the geography. So any statement "it cost x" (even my statement) is either wrong or applicable only to a specific case.

369:

Heat pumps or reversible (not just reverse) refrigeration.

These have been in wide use in the US for decades. And for the last 2 or 3 decades the efficiency rating regulations have been rising. So today they are pretty damn efficient. Since in much of the country we require (well really really really want) AC along with heating this makes a big difference in the total electrical use of a unit today compared to one sold 50 years ago. The biggest complaint is that the air blowing about from one isn't all that much hotter or colder than the existing air. (Some folks want near flames or icicles.) Anyway they work really well these days. Especially with zones and variable speed blowers and smart sensors in a few places around a home or office. The efficiency is such that a heat pump based water heater is more efficient that an electrical heating element or gas flame unit. It just costs 2 or 3 times more up front.

At least in the US they tend to cost more in absolute $$ than a gas unit but gas is, well, gas if you're looking to reduce hydrocarbons. A heat pump is better at lowering hydrocarbon use even if the electricity comes from a gas fired power plant.

They basically come in 2 flavors. Heat exchange with the air. Which is likely 99.9% or more of the currently installed units in the US. (All kinds of political debates about how they might change the local climate in dense areas but that's another thread.)

The other one is ground heat transfer. The temperature of the top 5 to 10' of earth has nothing to do with this. As gasdive mentioned, this is done with bore holes .5M or so in diameter back filled with the soil and a very long coil of tubing that the fluid transfer medium will pass through. These holes can be from 50M to 150M deep. Or more maybe. Depending on design and local conditions a home or small business might have 1 to 3 such holes.

Both air and earth work and work well. NOW. Talking about air 30+ years ago or earth 10-20+ years ago compared to today is propaganda.

I haven't looked into earth heating/cooling extraction for medium to large business and I'm sure there is a limit to the scale at which it can be used but talking about surface temps is a distraction.

370:

the cost per storage depends on the size of the smaller of the top and bottom lakes and their height difference.

Based on UK PS facilities, this is nonsense. The cost per storage for a site is determined on how much artificial expansion of the volume(s) of the lake(s) is required.

371:

This something Trump actually understood

Just like a 5 year old thinks McDonalds, your home kitchen, and that 5 star restaurant are all the same because cooked food comes out of all of them.

372:

JReynolds @ 336: (Although maybe Canada could join the EU? Wouldn't we be a slam-dunk, economy- and democracy-wise? Ignoring that bit about "European" in the "EU", of course).

There are a few groups in the EU that do not want to have anything to do with Canada (because of the seal hunt and a few other reasons) but on the whole we are the country with the most economic and special political ties to the EU.

The CETA accord is a huge free trade agreement between the EU and Canada.

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

373:

Missouri has 2 pumped storage facilities, but one is seldom used because it's on the Osage river and it upsets people to see what it does to the fish. The other had an issue due to minimal maintenance, washed out a State park.

374:

The Dinorwig pumped-storage scheme in Wales uses a worked-out slate quarry as its top reservoir which didn't need much digging out. The bottom "reservoir" is a river, the source and sink are only a couple of km apart which kept tunneling costs down. In today's prices Dinorwig with 8GWh capacity cost a bit over 1.5 billion quid to construct hence my £200 million per GWh pricetag for pumped storage. It's lasted fifty years and continues to operate with some refurbishment costing a few hundred million quid.

The Snowy 2.0 pumped-storage project in Australia already has a large top reservoir in place but it needs much more tunnelling to connect it to the sink reservoir. I think I saw the tunneling distance mentioned as 27km, mostly horizontal.

Grid battery storage is cheaper than Dinorwig and most other pumped-storage projects but the most expensive part of the equipment, the batteries themselves will need replacing every ten to twenty years depending on the number and depth of cycles they have been put through. A better calculation would be to work out the total cost of construction and maintenance over a century of operation in which case pumped-storage wins, unless water gets to be very expensive in the interim.

375:

2. The shale revolution has made America energy independent.

Yeah, nope. (Shale oil is collapsing due to renewables undercutting all fossil fuel, with a side-order of depressed demand due to COVID19.)

3. Demographics are destiny.

Only true up to a point, and the USA is currently doing its best to stifle its demographic potential by loading down youngsters with huge amounts of education and healthcare debt and zero prospects for building up capital, combined with spiraling house prices. Really, the US is following everyone else in the developed world down the same hole. Indeed, the future of the 22nd century is all about shrinking and ageing populations worldwide, even if we don't undergo catastrophic climate collapse.

There is no such thing a no-growth capitalism and economic growth is not physically possible with shrinking and aging populations

Yup.

Which means capitalism is doomed.

And assuming the aforementioned catastrophic environmental collapse can be fended off, the future belongs to Africa.

376:

Please provide a description or title for future youtube links.[1] (Also, more practically, youtube video links often die and a title can be used to re-find the video.)
I clicked on the first blind link, and it had no description, so didn't watch, nor any of the rest. Do you recommend anything written by the author? Not spotting much in scholarship-style.

[1] e.g. Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition - The Hut on the Fowl's Legs. Baba Yaga (3:11, Youtube)

377:

The problem is that the downsides of the British Empire's model were "extract resources from colonized countries" and "enforce white supremacy." The upside was that everyone knew that whatever rules existed would be enforced fairly.

In theory it would have been possible to upgrade colonies into parts of the UK, but that would have meant doing things like giving Americans seats in Parliament starting around 1770, giving Gikuyu tribal chiefs patents of nobility and estates around 1930 and seating them in the House of Lords, and so on. In reality, British class and race prejudices made that impossible.

But it would be a really interesting alternate reality, probably starting with some "Natural Philosopher" who had very strong ideas of "Nurture over Nature" and proved it by setting up schools for orphaned Black children or something similar - essentially financing an educational Portmeirion and carefully recording the results of the experiment.

378:

I think we've fully established that nothing invented in the last 300 years can work in Edinburgh theme park.

The real problem with the UK is threefold:

a) The housing fleet is, on average, 75 years old. This makes retrofits painfully expensive. Better to tear it all down and rebuild from scratch, if you want energy efficiency, but ...

b) The housing fleet is monstrously expensive: the average dwelling passed £250,000 a month or two ago, an average which includes leaky hovels is depressed former mining villages, and where the average new-build has less floorspace than its Japanese equivalent. This is because successive governments have deliberately inflated the housing market as a foundational plank of fiscal policy going back 40 years, to use it as collateral to secure the banking/finance sector's dominance within Europe. (This financial sector bubble is now heading for an explosive burst thanks to Brexit, but it may take years or even decades to hit home, and there's a floor under housing prices anyway due to demand and lack of space: see below.)

... Anyway, the combination of a monstrously overvalued housing sector and maladaptive property means trashing it and replacing the lot would cost double-digit trillions.

And there's no easy workaround, because ...

c) Housing in the UK is expensive because there's no space, at least no good quality convenient land suitable for building on (there's plenty of godforsaken mountainsides in the middle of nowhere with no transport infrastructure and no amenities).

If Australia was populated to the same density as the UK, it'd have 2.6 billion people living on it -- about 95% of the combined populations of India and China.

Upshot: we need new and better housing if we're going to solve our energy problem in the UK, but to get it we'd have to demolish capital assets currently valued at 30-70 trillion quid and replace them, and a good chunk of the value is locked up in land and location which can't be substituted.

379:

I love the phrase "spruiked it's virtues," with reference to coal, but I think if someone "spruiked my virtues" the appropriate response would probably be to slap them!

380:

I think we're in the same book, just on different pages.

381:
Unlike the EU, Canzuk members are culturally similar, with equivalent standards of living and with the same language

Il a dit quoi, lui?

Même langue.

P'tit con.

382:

(Shale oil is collapsing due to renewables undercutting all fossil fuel, with a side-order of depressed demand due to COVID19.)

Actually no. The US government's EIA report about gas production and consumption in the US says, for depression-year 2020:

The electric power sector consumed the most natural gas of any sector — 31.7 Bcf/d in 2020, a 2% increase from the previous year. In 2020, natural gas prices were the lowest they had been in decades.

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=47076

For those non-Americans among us, 31.7 Bcf/d is about a billion cubic metres per day.

Lots of renewables on the grid means the need to burn lots of gas as backstop hence the 50% increase in gas consumption for that purpose over the past ten years. If the worst came to the worst the generators could substitute oil for gas as the CCGT plants that provide much of the world's electricity supply are surprisingly fuel-agnostic. Coal would be a bitch though but sperm whale oil would be easy-peasy.

383:

You might add one more, these days, if you put working class folk in decent, energy efficient housing, reactionaries would whine loud enough to break glass.

384:

*sigh*
In the US, the GOP has not had a clue about R&D since the end of the Moon Race, with a *very* slight burp in Raygun's SDI. Around '12? '13? one of my Senators was on campus for an open house, and commented that then, after a term or so of Obama's spending, the NIH (I said this was on campus) was barely back up to 2001 levels, but with inflation and all, needed to be *double* what the increase was.

The GOP does not believe in *basic* research, because Companies Will Do It All, ignoring companies' "will this increase ROI this quarter? *next* quarter? That's long term planning".

And this is why the US has fallen so far behind.

385:

"your borehole would be 150m deep and drawing heat from a circle 300m or more in diameter"

You could locate it in one of Edinburgh's extinct volcanoes...
...the film writes itself (badly, probably).

386:

Unlike the EU, Canzuk members are culturally similar, with equivalent standards of living and with the same language

Il a dit quoi, lui?

Même langue.

P'tit con.

En effet! Et on oublie aussi les millions de gens qui parlent des langues autochtones comme l' ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ

387:

Yes, we're coasting, have been for decades, if we don't screw up, we might make it last a couple more. If Biden is replaced by a "Contemporary conservative" their first goal will be to take apart as much as possible and if they're as diplomatically inept as the last one, the bovine by-product will hit the rotary air circulater much faster, especially if many of the Nations productive capacity was off-shored to become estranged, which will require us to rebuild from scratch, if we have time,which I doubt. Remember, bad things happen when people vote conservative.

388:

Of course, the USSR going into Afghanistan wasn't helped by the US's heavy support of the warlords.

Gee, wonder what happened to all those weapons we gave them?

389:

Come on, really?

The US's energy independence is based on fracking. Have you noticed any pushback against fracking?

And demographics? ROTFL! I think that the only reason the US population is still going up is... immigration from Central America.

The "economy" is BS, what with the overwhelming majority of it being imaginary money that the stocks, etc are playing with, that have no real basis.

390:

Duffy @ 350: There is no such thing a no-growth capitalism

I'm not so sure.

Growth is defined as the increase in value of the goods and services provided in an economy. It is generally measured as a percentage increase in GDP minus inflation, which is not quite the same thing but is something that can be measured.

The argument about "finite growth", as I understand it, goes like this. Economic activity is the conversion of raw materials into goods. The supply of raw materials is finite. Therefore economic growth must come to an end at some point.

However this ignores both the services part and the use of technology to increase the value added. For example, our esteemed host creates value by arranging words in a pleasing order. These arrangements consume no resources themselves. In the past these words were distributed on dead trees, but increasingly they are now distributed electronically, so that no dead trees are required. Both of these things have increased economic growth without increasing the consumption of raw materials.

Economists are starting to think about peak stuff; the idea that consumption of material goods is near or at its peak, and that future growth will be in services.

Back before the Industrial Revolution the vast majority (90%+) of the population worked on or around the land, and it was generally assumed that land was the fundamental limiting factor in economics. These days in industrial countries the number is below 2%, or maybe 3% if you include workers in agricultural service industries like tractor factories, and land is no longer seen as a limiting factor for the rest of the economy.

Now we are starting to see the same thing happen to raw materials. Economic activity is increasingly composed of services rather than manufactured goods, and even those manufactured goods are increasingly valuable because of the know-how added rather than the raw materials they are composed of.

So if economic growth is detached from the supply of raw materials, it follows that the economy can continue to grow without necessarily consuming more raw materials. Of course right now raw material consumption is increasing, but that doesn't mean it has to continue forever.

391:

Gee, wonder what happened to all those weapons we gave them?

Clandestine gun-running has been a staple of US foreign policy since at least 1950. It would be interesting to find out what happened to all that hardware.

392:

Paul @ 390: "However this ignores both the services part and the use of technology to increase the value added."

I would replace "technology" with "new technology" in that phrase.

And I would replace "millions" with 500,000 in Niala @ 386

393:

Just noticed that BBC R4 is broadcasting ( As a series ) The Shadow over Innsmouth

There is no such thing a no-growth capitalism - are we entirely sure about that?
As noted by others, some of your assumptions are also dodgy.
Paul is asking the same ...

EC @ 354
Putin is an Ex-KGB man - what part of that do you not seem to understand?

Nojay
As for why nuclear works -- it produces energy in the form of electricity to meet demand with no storage requirements and doesn't emit large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. Nothing else does that. THIS
Now will someone PLEASE DO SOMETHING about the stupid luddite fake Greenies, who are preventing our escape?
{ Side-order - why are nuke power-stations so ridiculously expensive, compared to others - again - how come the Froggies got it right? }

gasdive
IF heat-pumps are that good & relatively inexpensive, then why aren't we submerging in the things?

David L
Bore-hole 5 metres in diameter? ( !! ) Sure about that?

394:

The mention of pumped power storage above reminds me yet again how well we have concealed the Future Inland Sea Empire from you thirsty unfortunates in the rest of the USA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludington_Pumped_Storage_Power_Plant .
Built in 1973.

As for the US, the biggest problem is that we have now arrived in what was forecast for 2030 of later, the misrule by the rural olds. Huge chunks of the US have blue majorities, but have been gerrymandered Red. Given the 300 state bills in play right now suppressing Dem votes, the USA is approaching a one-party state for a number of states.

That means continued misrule more often than not, with Dem rule having to exhaust time and energy fixing some of the mess before being able to build.

[[ html fix: avoid punctuation directly after a plain URL. Also I don't know why but I keep having to haul your comments out of the spam folder - mod ]]

395:

Martin @ 331 & 332

... After all, they may believe that France and Germany will veto any military response to (say) another landgrab in Ukraine.

If they nibble away at Ukraine in small enough chunks, they may correct, and not just because of appeasement by France & Germany.

The one well-prepared minor power was the first Gulf War under Bush Senior

I really think you should add the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to that list. Mainly because they won. You might consider adding Afghanistan, who have just seen off their third invading Empire of the past two hundred years.

The parallels between the Vietnam War and the war in Afghanistan are fairly "interesting". They both exposed limits of strategic bombing against stubborn guerilla armies who are allowed retreat into safe havens to re-arm & re-equip. The difference is that in Afghanistan the safe haven was provided by our nominal ally and was not subject to even perfunctory attack.

FWIW, the U.S. "Intelligence Community" has released their Annual Threat Assessment.

Note the assessment predates Biden's Afghanistan troop withdrawal announcement, so it probably doesn't forecast the fate of the Afghan Government accurately. I doubt we'll see a reenactment of the "fall of Saigon" ... we don't have enough helicopters with sufficient range for one thing and the Taliban are more vindictively revanchist than the NVA in 1975 & would be certain to fire upon any such evacuation attempt.

396:

I doubt we'll see a reenactment of the "fall of Saigon" ... we don't have enough helicopters with sufficient range for one thing and the Taliban are more vindictively revanchist than the NVA in 1975 & would be certain to fire upon any such evacuation attempt.

One of my correspondents who has experience in Afghanistan yesterday expressed distress at what's going to happen to people the Taliban disapprove of for various reasons. Social workers, uppity women, politicians, intellectuals, etc. The usual.

I'd like to see some evacuation process set up to get out as many as possible of those who would like to leave in the seven months remaining. C-17s rather than helicopters.

397:

The other one is ground heat transfer.

I wonder what the lifespan is for dense urban areas for this, especially cooling.

According to Rail Magazine, the average temperature in the Underground tunnels in the year 1900 was 14 degrees Celsius.

Temperatures on the Tube vary line by line and day by day but you can probably be fairly sure that during the summer months it will be in the 30s.

What 19th century engineers failed to realise was that 79 per cent of energy given out by the Underground trains, the people and the rest of the infrastructure is actually transferred to the clay around the tunnel's bores.

And so, over the years, the average temperature has climbed. Taking an average across both winter and summer, and all of the lines, it's 25 degrees Celsius down there.

https://www.mylondon.news/news/nostalgia/london-underground-used-much-cooler-16856927

So if you have a dense urban core with buildings using boreholes and ground heat transfer to cool them, how long will that work before rising underground temperatures make it inefficient?

(I'm ignoring heating, because even in Canada a really well-insulated building can generate a lot of its heat from devices and occupants. There was, famously, an office tower in Calgary that didn't turn on heat in the winter because all the computers (in the days of CRT monitors) generated enough waste heat to keep the temperature at 20-25°.)

398:

Just like a 5 year old thinks McDonalds, your home kitchen, and that 5 star restaurant are all the same

Which given Trump's well-known eating habits is probably how he thinks of them…

399:

There was, famously, an office tower in Calgary that didn't turn on heat in the winter because all the computers (in the days of CRT monitors) generated enough waste heat to keep the temperature at 20-25°

That means it was effectively heated by electricity topped up by the combined body heat from the inhabitants. I don't know what supplied Calgary's power at that time, coal probably if it's the era of CRTs.

There was a proposal I saw a while back from a French company to put data centre server racks in the basements of apartment blocks and use the waste heat from the servers to warm the apartments above. I don't know if anything came of that idea though. I'm still holding out for my idea of doing something similar with spent nuclear fuel rod storage casks with the upside there's no need for electricity to warm the apartments at all, really Green and eco and all that.

400:

Bill Arnold @ 335:

Yeah, phoning Putin to discuss the situation and to propose a summit, how dare he!

"There's this:
FACT SHEET: Imposing Costs for Harmful Foreign Activities by the Russian Government (April 15, 2021)
Overall, it's relatively tame and focused, though it will sting.

Putin & company can still attend the UN General Assembly sessions in New York, but they won't be allowed to visit Disneyland.

[ ... ]

They sort of walked back the Afghanistan soldier bounty allegations, indicating "low to moderate" confidence.[1]

“This information puts a burden on the Russian government to explain its actions and take steps to address this disturbing pattern of behavior,” the official said, indicating that Biden is unprepared to walk the story back fully.
[Press Secretary Jen] Psaki reiterated the intelligence community’s low-to-moderate confidence in its assessment about possible Russian bounties but said that U.S. intelligence had “high confidence” in a separate assessment that Russian military intelligence officers “manage interaction with individuals in Afghan criminal networks” and that the “involvement of this... unit is consistent with Russia’s encouraging attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan.”
“I am unsurprised that the review led to a murky determination of low to moderate confidence. While it is clear that Russia and other adversaries have been providing assistance to their proxies in Afghanistan, identifying type and amount of such assistance with great specificity has been the persistent challenge,” Jason Campbell, an Afghanistan policy official in the Obama Pentagon, told The Daily Beast.

I don't know if they walked it back that far. It's more nuanced assessment than retreat.

Putin and his inner circle are IMO high on their own supply (of manipulative misinformation) re the J. Biden administration's competence and in particular re Biden's mental competence. This is quite hazardous; in particular Americans can be bug-fuckin dangerous when threatened. Ideally the Russians feel reassured about the measured response summarized in the above link. (While expressing outrage, of course.)

Putin is still pissed off at Obama for the 2010 spy scandal when we embarrassed the Russians by offering to swap their illegals for Skirpal et al.

401:

"IF heat-pumps are that good & relatively inexpensive, then why aren't we submerging in the things?"

Difference between brochure figures and what you actually get in practice. The results obtained by people who have installed the things indicate that they are indeed cheaper to run than heating by electricity, but not cheaper than gas. And they are expensive enough to install that people who buy brand new Range Rovers have to think about it instead of just going ahead.

Air source ones tend to be shit in proportion to how much you need them not to be. If you are trying to extract heat from typically soggy British air at 2 degrees C or so, then since the thing that takes up the heat must necessarily be some degrees colder than the thing it is taking up heat from, as soon as you turn it on it clogs itself solid in its own private iceberg. Of course, you can make an ice-source heat pump work, but it needs to be enormous, and still isn't very good.

I don't think very many people drill 150m boreholes in their back garden to run a ground source one from. In so many cases it would be quite an entertainment just to get the drilling rig through the streets to the house, and trying to get it through to the back would be as good as a circus. I think it also brings you into conflict with complex regulations about digging deep holes and maybe even mining rights in places. The usual thing is to lay the pickup loop horizontally a couple of metres deep, using a mini digger some of which can be small enough to even get through doorways at a pinch, or one of those hypodermic knife plough things, or a shovel if it comes down to it.

So it is of little interest in the first place except to people who can't get a gas supply, and then you need a big enough back garden to lay a decent length of pipe in, and loads of money to pay for it all. Or you can live in a place which is rich with oil money and has the sea to put the pipe in, but even fewer people do that.

402:

Pigeon @ 338: At a very rough guess I reckon there's a good enough chance of halving the heating usage if you can work out what to do about all the sash windows and single leaf walls, and manage to get every house thoroughly up to the mark. Beyond that it gets really difficult, because you start having to completely replace huge numbers of houses with brand new ones.

That's what I was getting at. Integrated energy policy should approach the problem from both sides; find renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels and cut energy demand to the extent it's feasible. Most of the discussion here has been on the shortcomings of the first part, so I was wondering about the second.

It's too bad we don't have some way to trade some of our excess summer heat for some of your excess cool weather. It'd be great to be able to just open a window (suitably screened of course to keep the bugs out) instead of having to crank up the AC.

403:

>Economists are starting to think about peak stuff; the idea that consumption of material goods is near or at its peak, and that future growth will be in services.

What's driving the decline in goods an increase n service is population aging.

Old people don't buy things, they buy services (travel, dining and entertainment, and medical - lots of medical)

404:

>I think that the only reason the US population is still going up is... immigration from Central America.

Yep, our demographics are strong AND we are becoming more non-white everyday.

Trump and other nativists not withstanding, America remains open to immigrants (unlike, say Japan).

We need immigrants to grow our economy.

But Europe stopped having babies so these immigrants are not going to be white.

Hence the emergence of Trumpism.

America can either be an economically vibrant great power or it can be white.

It can't be both.

405:

The version I heard was that the "bounty" intelligence was single-sourced from a detainee who was saying anything and everything to get the torture to stop. It made great headlines for a while though.

406:

Sorry, but the true levelized cost of energy (LCOE - factoring in all up front construction and operational lifetime costs) which allows for apples to apples economic comparison says otherwise. Renewable energy costs have fallen, but nowhere near enough. In fact, LCOE says natural gas is still the cheapest and coal is still king according to this brutally honest video (you can see the disappointment on the narrators face - he really wanted renewables to be economically viable, but the harsh facts say otherwise):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6PTKXz_2r0

Note: Oil is almost exclusively for transport, only rarely for energy production, so it is not included.

LCOEs costs per kWh are:

Natural Gas: $0.02 to $0.08
Coal: $0.04 to $0.15 (mature tech, not much room for improvement)
Hydroelectric: $0.01 to $0.28 (relatively few locations to build dams, and they've all been built on)

On Land Wind: $0.04 to $0.12
Off Shore Wind: $0.10 t0 $0.21 (much bigger up front costs than on-land wind)
Solar PV: $0.06 to $0.56

Concentrated Solar: $0.06 to $0.25
Nuclear: $0.05 to $0.13
Geothermal: $0.05 to $0.15 (new advances in deep drilling and applying fracking techniques could be game changers)

OTEC: $0.10 to $0.17
Tidal: $0.15 to $0.40 (even fewer possible locations than hydro)

Summary chart shown on the video at 16:27.

The apparent winners are wind, hydro, natural gas, coal and nuclear.

But none of the LCOEs sited for renewables include their necessary energy storage facilities (li-ion batteries, air batteries, pumped hydro, etc.) so total system LCOEs are even higher. So scratch wind.

Hydro power can't be expanded because all of the practical places to put hydro dams have already been built on. So scratch hydro.

Coal is dirty, deadly and causes global warming. So scratch coal.

Nuclear is almost impossible to build and permit these days (much as I would have it otherwise). So scratch nuclear - unless we see a serious development in easy to install plug and play small modular reactors (SMR).

So that leaves natural gas, which creates less than half the GHGs that coal does per kWh and is so insanely cheap due to fracking advances it's almost free. And it is the reason America is going to become the second largest fossil fuel EXPORTER after Saudi Arabia later this year.

My ideal solution would be to go balls to the wall with nuclear, especially new advanced and inherently safe technologies like pebble bed reactors and SMRs, and use the off peak kWhs to electrolyze as much hydrogen as you would want for a true hydrogen economy with hydrogen fuel cells for transportation.

Alas, we don't live in an ideal world.

So my realistic solution is to frack natural gas until it comes out of our ears, with side bets on deep geothermal (made possible by fracking and drilling technology advances) and SMRs. What's left of GHGs are to be dealt with by other means (planting forests, fertilize the oceans, sequestration underground, etc.)

The harsh truth is that if we continue to use fossil fuels, global warming will kill billions.

A harsher truth is that if we go fully renewable, real energy costs will increase and billions (not just oil oligarchs) will be thrown into poverty.

The harshest truth is that humans will choose to avoid immediate poverty even if it ensures death decades or generations hence.


407:

Duffy @ 347: Or Britain can continue to devolve into its component parts: Scotland, Ulster, Wales, Isle of Man, Cornwall, London City, etc. - many of whom would rejoin the EU.

Each becoming as important on the world stage as Lithuania.

But not, perhaps, so influential as the Duchy of Grand Fenwick?

And having left the EU with its agricultural price support policies (which Britain can no longer take advantage of) it's got to find food somewhere.

The American farmer will be happy to oblige, for a price.

Maybe one day protesting Englishmen will be throwing American tea into the Thames."

Surely it will be chlorine washed chickens. The U.S. is not, AFAIK, a net exporter of tea.

408:

I highly recommend Vaclav Smil's "Energy and Civilization"

Summary: The history of mankind's energy use has been one of ever increasing concentration of energy per unit of fuel (in terms of calorie per weight of fuel)

Fire
Farming
Fossil Fuels
Fission (we got side tracked)
Fusion (someday)

Renewables, which are inherently low density and dispersed (rough equivalent to the energy density of farming), are counter to the overall historical trend of ever more concentrated energy sources. This alone argues against their widespread adoption, not to mention that in real terms renewables will always remain more expensive (in terms of their EROEI) and less useful than fossil fuels.

Adopting renewables wholesale will save the planet from global warming but will also increase the real cost of energy (this is a conspiracy of physics, not of the oil companies), and causing a real drop in overall wealth and standards of living for everyone (not just oil sheikhs and oligarchs).

Barring any major breakthrough that allows us to leap frog to fusion, what we should be doing is maximizing fission energy sources (especially new developments like thorium and small modular reactors), utilizing off peak kWh to hydrolyze water to create a hydrogen fuel economy (whenever somebody compares fuel cell cars to EVs remember to include the massive cost of disposal for worn out li-ion batteries, fuel cells OTOH never wear out).

Renewables will remain useful as niche energy sources as determined by the individual purchasing decision of users (residential and commercial) - not by a nationally enforced program.

409:

America can either be an economically vibrant great power or it can be white.

It can't be both.

Of course, "neither" is also an option…

410:

"{ Side-order - why are nuke power-stations so ridiculously expensive, compared to others - again - how come the Froggies got it right? }"

Oh, we can't do it any more. We've forgotten how. We've lost the skills. We haven't been educating enough nuclear engineers. Whine, flap, can't.

Bollocks. We did it before, when nobody had ever had any knowing-how to have forgotten, the skills didn't exist, and you couldn't even be educated as a nuclear engineer. Oh and the country was fucked to a puddle after doing a massive war. The difference now is that we can't be fucking arsed.

Also, of course, Cthulhu forbid that the government should pay a penny for anything useful. The mere suggestion is heresy. It must be done by private enterprise, with profits, and opacity, and ten times the cost, and of course all the clandestine contributions to the ministerial priesthood and promises of eventual bishoprics etc.

Why can't we electrify the railways? Same thing, pretty much.

411:

I'm a big fan of Grand Designs with Kevin McCloud and I am always amazed at the expensive and extensive regulatory hoops that Brits have to jump through to get a home remodeled or built. The show has also taught me that apparently nobody in Britain builds with a proper design plan or solid financing. And for some crazy reason Brits don't mind spending millions of pounds on a home that looks like an ugly parking garage.

412:

If I had to put all my chips on one bet, it would be deep geothermal. This has the potential to be a real game changer allowing us to tap the heat of the Earth anywhere, not just Iceland. It's facilities would be small and compact, not destroying dozens of square miles of habitat like solar arrays and wind farms. Unlike NG it would have zero CO2 emissions. Unlike nuclear its inherently safe

413:

"It's too bad we don't have some way to trade some of our excess summer heat for some of your excess cool weather."

Phase change!

Concoct some material that melts at about half way between "cold" and "hot" and absorbs a lot of latent heat, and make millions of tons of it. And a bunch of wind-powered ferries to ship it back and forth across the Atlantic. You have it in the summer and melt it, then we have it in the winter and solidify it again.

:)

414:

>In theory it would have been possible to upgrade colonies into parts of the UK, but that would have meant doing things like giving Americans seats in Parliament starting around 1770

See "The Two Georges" by Harry Turtledove

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

For more than two centuries, what would have become the continental United States and Canada has been the North American Union, a self-governing dominion within the British Empire with Alaska being retained under the rule of Russia and Hawaii being a British protectorate. The title of the novel refers to a fictional Gainsborough painting that commemorates the agreement between George Washington and King George III, which peacefully ended the American Revolution. The painting itself has become a symbol of national unity.

Native Americans fared much better than in real-world history with tribes such as the Iroquois and the Cherokee managing to keep much of their land and have autonomy, their status comparable to that of the Princely States in British India.

As the North American Union remained in the British Empire following peaceful negotiation, the French Revolution was suppressed at the storming of the Bastille by troops under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte in the service of Louis XVI, thus preserving the Bourbon monarchy. By the twentieth century, France and Spain exist in a French-dominated personal union, the Holy Alliance, which controls most of Latin America and Northern Africa and is ruled over by François IV.

The abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833 included slaves in North America. The emancipated blacks prospered, gained education and experienced a rapid upward social mobility, by the twentieth century, becoming a mainly middle class community. Conversely, the Irish-American community remained a predominantly poor, working class population, subsisting on hard physical labor such as the coal mining on which the North American Union depended for its energy. This created a feeling of bitter jealousy among the Irish, and many of them came to support the Sons of Liberty, a terrorist organization that wants to see America become independent from the British Empire and promotes a blatantly racist and xenophobic ideology.

In the twentieth century, the empires of Great Britain, the Holy Alliance and Russia are the world's major powers, with the Austrian Empire being a European land-based middle power coveting Balkan territory and neither Germany nor Italy becoming unified nation-states.

As in the Mexican War of our history, the mid-nineteenth century saw Britain and the North American Union conquer a large portion of Nueva España (in this case, also including the Baja California peninsula) from the Holy Alliance. The city of Los Angeles was renamed New Liverpool and developed into one of the largest cities of the North American Union and the Province of Upper California.

415:

Nojay @ 360:

It would be nice if we could save civilisation, but if it doesn't work in Edinburgh (and nothing does except nuclear for some reason no one can explain) then it can't work anywhere.

If you're willing to write off half a million people who live in Edinburgh and billions more around the world who live in highly urban environments because you've got a solution that works for the low-population density area you live in, wonderful. That's the IGMFY attitude I was referring to.

That's not the way I read it though. It came through to me like half a million Edinburghers (Edinburgundians? or Edinbourgeois?) are holding up solutions for the other 67.7 million inhabitants of the U.K. with a "dog in the manger" attitude. I don't propose to write them off, but I do wonder why they should have veto power over the rest of the country?


416:

"You could locate it in one of Edinburgh's extinct volcanoes...
...the film writes itself (badly, probably)."

Is it 90 minutes of some poor bastard trying to drill basalt?

417:

Bore-hole 5 metres in diameter? ( !! ) Sure about that?

I typed

with bore holes .5M or so in diameter

I think you missed the DOT.

418:

As you say. And those aren't the only examples :-(

419:

IF heat-pumps are that good & relatively inexpensive, then why aren't we submerging in the things?

In the US I suspect that heat pump HVAC systems are the most common installs for new construction. Nat Gas is no where near as cheaper as in the past. And what are called mini-splits are more and more common for very old situations where you can't really run new ducting. So they are room sized with a 5cm or so hole through the exterior wall.

Here's a link, just the first one I found that showed some pictures.
https://www.achrnews.com/articles/140289-mini-splits-continue-to-revolutionize-the-hvac-industry
Small lump on inside. Slight bigger on outside. Power to be run to outside unit. And they don't have to be back to back through the wall.

420:

So if you have a dense urban core with buildings using boreholes and ground heat transfer to cool them, how long will that work before rising underground temperatures make it inefficient?

I wonder similar things. But for urban areas you might have a bore sink going down 1000' or more. And maybe 3 or 4 in a grid.

I don't have the knowledge or time to figure it out as to what happens that deep with how much heat being added.

Once you get deep the earth is a pretty big heat sink. But it's not infinite. The question is how deep would we have to go to treat it as infinite.

Plus in the winter in many places we'd be pulling out heat.

When I've looked at visiting England I have noticed that the climate is much more moderate both high and low compared to most of the US. I've been in Toronto in February and tried swimming in a lake north of Toronto one August. Moscow it's not but still way too cold for me.

421:

I'm still holding out for my idea of doing something similar with spent nuclear fuel rod storage casks

With a dosimeter for all new inhabitants as a part of the move it kit.

GDRFC

422:

then since the thing that takes up the heat must necessarily be some degrees colder than the thing it is taking up heat from

Nope. Doesn't work that way. But efficiency does go down.

And I've yet to see one without a heating element inline of the airflow for when the efficiency gets to low.

As to cheaper than gas heat or not. It all depends on the cost of electricity vs. gas which varies all over the world depending on extraction taxes and breaks and then retail taxes.

As to costs, in the US you'll spend from $5K to $15K for a typical heat pump (outside air based) setup depending. Assuming you already have duct work in place. A gas furnace can be $5K to $10K and you still don't have AC. So in the end the install costs can be similar.

Two big factors in the US are:
- does your address have nat gas service?
- can your electrical service handle the load of a heatpump?

423:

gasdive @ 365: My mail system eats scam emails, so I don't know, but I'm getting about 4 scam phone calls a day.

I don't get that many outright SCAM calls any more, but there's a lot of sketchy telemarketing robo-calls wanting to sell me stuff I don't want or need (health insurance, extended warranties, solar panels).

What's about to drive me to distraction is the house flippers wanting to make me a cash offer on my property (i.e. the house I live in).

It's a tiny run down house on a tiny run down lot, but I'm less than two miles from the State Capitol ... walking distance to government offices & downtown businesses (1.8 miles to Red Hat corporate headquarters) ... and you walk right past a Krispy Kreme on the way.

Yet, those assholes think I'm going to sell them my HOME for less than the assessed tax value?

Fuckin' low-ballers think just because I'm old I'm too stupid to understand how much the house (and land) is actually worth.

424:

JReynolds @ 366: Honestly, a CANZUK union makes as little sense as an independent Scotland joining Canada instead of rejoining the EU. "Let's leave one union that hasn't done anything for us in 40+ years, and confederate with a country across the Atlantic Ocean! Makes total sense!"

(Although maybe Canada could join the EU? Wouldn't we be a slam-dunk, economy- and democracy-wise? Ignoring that bit about "European" in the "EU", of course).

This is kind of old (pre-BREXIT), but that Peter Zeihan fella' had an interesting take on the EU:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DO5gwjHVxg

Don't know how well Canada would fit in with the reality of EU demography?

425:

Re: Why things are so expensive to build.

This is a general problem, not limited to nuclear power stations, and near as I can tell, it is simply down to most of the western world having really bad doctrine on infrastructure procurement.

Various attempts at cutting down on insider dealing and making bids entire rule based has caused a situation where the state is a purchaser with amnesia, and doing a good job on your current project does not help you land the next one.. and worse, doing an awful job probably wont hurt you next bidding round, either.

It does not help that the western countries with the best record on "Getting things actually built" have pretty negative stereotypes in the public conciousness, so their praxis does not get copied much.. Spain is better at building railroads than anyone, but..

426:

Troutwaxer @ 377: The problem is that the downsides of the British Empire's model were "extract resources from colonized countries" and "enforce white supremacy." The upside was that everyone knew that whatever rules existed would be enforced fairly.

As long as you limit "everyone" to upper class white colonists. Rules were NOT fairly enforced for lower class whites, much less for "non-whites".

427:

Canada is a prototype of the EU, but joining it is unlikely.

The cultural, historical and linguistic differences between Victoria, Winnipeg, Iqaluit, Quebec City and Halifax are vast.

Canada is a confederation of somewhat independent provinces with somewhat common goals. It is a non-stop job of work to continue convincing everyone that they should remain within the confederation.

There are precisely zero reasons we would ever consider joining something absurd like Canzuk, and thousands of reasons to reject it outright. EU is a bit closer to the mark but there aren't a lot of compelling reasons that can't be resolved through trade agreements.

428:

We installed a heat pump heating + hot water system over a year ago in an old (by Vancouver standards) house. The biggest pain point was that the ductwork for the previous gas forced-air system was undersized for that, and woefully undersized for a heat pump system. The heat is much more pleasant than the previous gas system, more gentle, much quieter. Some amount of that might be from the better ductwork, but not all.

Downside: we have had one occasion of having to chip ice off the outside fan when the rain went sideways from an unexpected direction.

At the same time we installed an induction stove. It boils water faster than the previous gas stove, cooks better, and the only downsides were having to buy some new pots and not having a wok. Neither was a deal-break for us.

Bonus: in an earthquake-prone location we now have no gas piped in the house, and are therefore less likely to lose the house to a fire if there is an earthquake.

Unexpected bonus: our air monitor (VOCs, dust, etc) shows the air inside is *much* cleaner than before we got rid of the gas system.

429:

The cultural, historical and linguistic differences between Victoria, Winnipeg, Iqaluit, Quebec City and Halifax are vast.

And you skiped the prairie. When we switched our Canadian version of some insurance agency (think 1 to 10 people) software around 79/80 the folks from the prairie wanted to buy the US version so they could keep using MM/DD/YY. They were really pissed that we obeyed the law and made them switch to YY/MM/DD. Actually "really pissed" is a mild reading of their feelings.

430:

Allen Thomson @ 391:

Gee, wonder what happened to all those weapons we gave them?

Clandestine gun-running has been a staple of US foreign policy since at least 1950. It would be interesting to find out what happened to all that hardware.

For reasons of plausible deniability, many of the weapons supplied to American "clients" came from non-U.S. sources. How do you tell the difference between a Soviet-era AK supplied to Afghanistan by the GRU and a post-Soviet AK from Bulgaria (with repackaged Chinese ammunition) supplied by a CIA contractor?

https://www.rollingstone.com/feature/the-stoner-arms-dealers-how-two-american-kids-became-big-time-weapons-traders-176604/

431:

Allen Thomson @ 395:

I doubt we'll see a reenactment of the "fall of Saigon" ... we don't have enough helicopters with sufficient range for one thing and the Taliban are more vindictively revanchist than the NVA in 1975 & would be certain to fire upon any such evacuation attempt.

One of my correspondents who has experience in Afghanistan yesterday expressed distress at what's going to happen to people the Taliban disapprove of for various reasons. Social workers, uppity women, politicians, intellectuals, etc. The usual.

I'd like to see some evacuation process set up to get out as many as possible of those who would like to leave in the seven months remaining. C-17s rather than helicopters.

If they'd go ahead and start now they could do it with Airbus 300s & Boeing 757s; carry a lot more people. But I'm not hopeful.

432:

It's a good idea to get any basement checked for radon gas[1]. Having a spent nuclear fuel cask emitting 20kW of heat down there means you get the entire testing and alarm apparatus free with every purchase because Nuclear is SCARY! so it's a double-win.

[1] Radon gas is organic and cruelty-free and approved by Linda McCartney so it gets a pass from the nuclear Chicken Littles, same as K-40.

433:

Fuel cells do wear out if they run on air as the oxidiser. The catalysts get polluted with all sorts of crap that's in the air, the produce nitrogen compounds including acids etc. The really good space-rated fuel cells run on hydrogen and oxygen and they can last a long time because the inputs are very clean.

434:

"Air source ones tend to be shit in proportion to how much you need them not to be. If you are trying to extract heat from typically soggy British air at 2 degrees C or so, then since the thing that takes up the heat must necessarily be some degrees colder than the thing it is taking up heat from, as soon as you turn it on it clogs itself solid in its own private iceberg."

This hasn't been true at any time this century. They work great in 2C air that's 100% humidity. In Australia and New Zealand they have to pass a test at that exact temperature and have an efficiency higher than you claim is the maximum efficiency reachable. Practically the first thing mentioned in NZ real estate adverts is "heatpump" if there is one. Eg,

https://www.realestate.co.nz/3960154/residential/sale/20-aharkness-place-westport

Westport is on the West Coast of the South Island, right in the teeth of the roaring 40's. Average humidity is 80% year round and 12-15 rainy days a month all year.

You're really decades out of date on this one.

435:

Robert Prior @ 396: (I'm ignoring heating, because even in Canada a really well-insulated building can generate a lot of its heat from devices and occupants. There was, famously, an office tower in Calgary that didn't turn on heat in the winter because all the computers (in the days of CRT monitors) generated enough waste heat to keep the temperature at 20-25°.)

That's why I was asking about insulation earlier. I used to subscribe to a magazine called Mother Earth News that had a lot of articles about insulating Eco-friendly homes to the point where they would contain the body heat of occupants & waste heat from the lights (before CFL & LED lighting were common) and require minimal additional heat in the winter.

With the right kind of design, you can keep the heat out in the summer and use natural cooling in place of Air Conditioning. Maybe couldn't completely eliminate the need for AC in some places, but you could reduce demand.

I realize AC isn't that big a need in the U.K. & there would be a big cost in replacing existing housing ... but as time goes by, the U.K. is going to need NEW housing and the new construction could take advantage of energy efficient design principles.

Plus, I'm not that confident we'll be able to contain (much less reverse) climate change, and AC may become more important in the U.K.'s future.

436:

"IF heat-pumps are that good & relatively inexpensive, then why aren't we submerging in the things?"

You tell me. I can see 2 from where I sit on the lounge. I go to former colonies like Hong Kong and they're literally everywhere. You look down on practically any major city and the roof of every high rise is covered in the outdoor units of heat pumps, they're a huge selling point for a house in the South Island of New Zealand.

The UK doesn't have them, but they do have pebble dash, which is clearly the most horrible looking thing and would instantly devalue any house, anywhere else in the world, to below zero, but you guys love it.

You're a weird mob.

437:

"then since the thing that takes up the heat must necessarily be some degrees colder than the thing it is taking up heat from"

"Nope. Doesn't work that way."

The rate of heat flow from one thing to another is proportional to the area of the contact between the two things and the temperature difference. [Newton.] For the air to act as a source for the heat pump, heat must be able to flow from the air to the machine. Therefore the part of the machine which is in contact with the air must be at a lower temperature than the air itself. You can make it be less lower by making the thing bigger, but you can't practically get it down to zero, and you absolutely can't make it be higher no matter what you do, otherwise things would get very interesting indeed. It's a limitation in fundamental principles, so you can't frig around it by being clever. Patent offices, indeed, ban applications from people who think they can.

Having the evaporator matrix choke itself solid with ice can be a problem even for air conditioners ingesting (humid) air at somewhere around 30 degrees C. In that sort of context and temperature it is merely a symptom of the machine being shit, because if the air is hot enough to need cooling it is practical to make the matrix big enough not to need to get below freezing point to achieve the desired heat transfer rate. But in the case of an air sourced heat pump ingesting humid air at temperatures which are nigh on freezing to begin with, it isn't practical at all. Basically, at that point you've had it. Even if you were somewhere it had dry air to eat, it would have to be really dry to keep the ice accumulation from being a problem.

Once it starts to ice up the problem rapidly makes itself worse, because the ice acts as insulation, so the heat input drops to effectively zero, and the inner surface of the ice rapidly gets much colder, freezing it on hard. To clear it off in a reasonably short time in such low ambient temperatures, you need to reverse the pump and heat the matrix from the inside. Of course, this further knackers the already succulent average efficiency...

I guess you might be able to do something with mechanical scrapers to remove the ice as fast as it forms, but it still might be tough to keep the power consumption low enough to make it worthwhile. Especially as the low source temperature on its own is enough to kill the efficiency before you start. This is no doubt why AFAIK nobody bothers.

438:

"This hasn't been true at any time this century. They work great in 2C air that's 100% humidity."

I quite simply do not believe you. It's not a matter of "this century" vs. any other century, it's fundamental. If you want to pull heat at a rate of kilowatts out of air at 2 deg C without the surface of the heat exchanger dropping below 0, you need a sodding great massive big one. (Or some compromise involving a sodding great massive fan, but that is very likely to cane the overall efficiency. Big fans are hungry.) If you do allow the heat exchanger to drop below 0, it will ice up. And that's the situation you have to deal with. It's not something that you can avoid by being clever.

Even if you did manage to find space to put the thing, it would not be robust in operation. If the size is adequate at 2 degrees, it's only half of adequate at 1 degree. You need to (more than) double the area to maintain the heat transfer rate and still keep the surface temperature above zero. If the input air temperature drops from 2 degrees to 1 degree while the thing is operating at more than half capacity, the surface of the exchanger will be pulled below zero and it will ice up.

Because of the positive-feedback nature of the icing process, once it starts it proceeds rapidly, and the iced-up state is then stable and will persist indefinitely unless the compressor is turned off (or reversed) until it has completely thawed. So a hypothetical system which would function at 2 degrees, being operated at anything over a fraction of its intended capacity, would be highly unreliable and prone to conking out if the ambient temperature dropped a fraction of a degree.

And of course when the air temperature does get below zero, there is nothing at all you can do about any of it. 2 degrees down to zero is not much of a variation, and you can't rely on it not happening. It's bound to happen, and then any kind of device will freeze up if there's any moisture about at all.

439:

Native Americans fared much better than in real-world history with tribes such as the Iroquois and the Cherokee managing to keep much of their land and have autonomy

One of the grievances the colonists had against Britain was that the British insisted that treaties with the natives be respected, rather than following the fine old colonial tradition of ignoring them when they wanted a bit more land. There's a reason that the first nations tended to be British allies, both in the American Rebellion and the War of 1812.

So that bit of the novel didn't stress my believe suspenders… :-)

440:

I think it would be great. I'd certainly have one - if I had a basement and any use for 20kW of heat. I could set up dioramas round it and projections on the walls, on themes like Gothic-style Mad Scientist, Terrorist Cell, Old Dalby, Curies' Lab, Neil and Vyvyan's Uranium Mine, and so on. Could even have costume parties around it on the same themes.

441:

I've been in Toronto in February and tried swimming in a lake north of Toronto one August. Moscow it's not but still way too cold for me.

Wuss. Don't let a little ice keep you out of the water :-)

Next you'll be telling me that you put the top on your convertible once it gets below zero, rather than wearing a toque and enjoying the fresh air!

442:

But I'm not hopeful.

Me neither. It's going to be bloody and awful.

443:

And you skiped the prairie.

No, the 'Peg is in the Prairies.

444:

Downside: we have had one occasion of having to chip ice off the outside fan when the rain went sideways from an unexpected direction.

In my admittedly limited Vancouver experience, sideways rain from all directions is expected winter weather…

I love Vancouver in summer; February, not so much…

445:

For reasons of plausible deniability, many of the weapons supplied to American "clients" came from non-U.S. sources.

Check out the Camp Stanley Storage Activity in Boerne, Texas. They're still hiring armorers with experience in used foreign weaponry.

446:

I guess your carefully reasoned utter bollocks analysis trumps my actual experience and that of millions of people living in cold damp environments, and the standards organisation of two countries.

However sure you are of your expertise in heat pumps, you might consider the amount of heat released by turning water vapour into ice is vastly vastly more than the amount needed to turn ice into water and have it run off the evaporator. Then think about what that might mean in terms of your carefully reasoned utter bollocks analysis.

Of course if you've already convinced yourself that the efficiency of heat pumps hasn't increased in the last 50 years, and that there's no such thing as cheap computers and sensors that can work out the optimal time to switch to defrost, then that probably wouldn't alter your carefully reasoned utter bollocks analysis.

447:

insulating Eco-friendly homes to the point where they would contain the body heat of occupants & waste heat from the lights (before CFL & LED lighting were common) and require minimal additional heat in the winter

Back in the 80s when I was studying engineering one of our profs talked about the very energy-efficient house he had designed and built. (Youngsters might want to google the energy crisis in the 70s, which resulted in heating costs increasing much faster than inflation, which was also pretty high and typically exceeded salary increases.) It was so well-insulated that he and his wife overheated if they didn't leave their bedroom door or window open a bit at night — even in a prairie winter! (That's nighttime lows of -20 to -25°.)

448:

Is it true that heat pumps stop working when it gets very cold out?

Yes – but it would have to get very, very cold for a heat pump to stop working entirely.

Different models of heat pumps have different ratings for how cold it can be before they stop being effective. For the sake of this example, we will use the rating for a Mitsubishi Hyper Heat™ heat pump, which is rated to provide sufficient heat output down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat pumps are rated for “output.” In this example, when it is 30 degrees out, a heat pump will easily produce 100% of its output at the highest efficiency. However, as temperatures start dropping, output starts dropping as well – and when output starts dropping, the heat pump will “work harder” to keep your home at temperature. Much like having to put your foot on the gas to get your car up a steep hill, this is where efficiency rates of heat pumps start to drop – more energy is used to produce less output.

With the Mitsubishi Hyper Heat™ heat pump, the efficiency rate will start to drop at around 2 degrees Fahrenheit. At -2 degrees, you will get around 87% of the unit’s output. And at -13 degrees, you will get around 76% of the unit’s output. It is unclear at what temperature the unit will stop working entirely – we haven’t yet had a day cold enough to demonstrate that with the Hyper Heat™ heat pumps, though some Mitsubishi documentation suggests a stopping point of -18 degrees.

https://truenorthenergyservices.com/heat-pumps-101-faq/

Of course, this company operates in Maine, which has a much warmer and more temperate climate than that suffered by those living in the icy wastes of Britain. ;-)

449:

Don’t care what you believe. Heat pumps - almost always air-sourced -are pretty much the standard heat management system here on the Wet Coast. I’m on Vancouver Island, in a fairly large house I built myself. The heat pump and ducting and installation cost around CD14k on 2011 and so far as i can tell have tended cheaper since. My total energy costs for heat/light/cooking/water/computers(lots of) and machinery (quite a bit of high grade semi-pro) has averaged C$1500 p.a. over the intervening years.
The weather is similar to where we used to live in UK (Winchester) but at the colder end in winters. The house is well insulated and properly ventilated, something that no UK house I’ve ever visited could claim.
The heat pump works entirely adequately in any weather we get - down to -10C is not too unusual- and does not get turned into an ice block. Nor does it explode in bouts of superheated air in the summer.
Current models are significantly more efficient and when a replacement is needed I won’t hesitate to install one. And I get a/c on the small number of days when it gets really hot 35c or so.

450:

Out of curiosity, how much do you pay per kilowatt-hour? (net including delivery/taxes/whatever, i.e. divide electric bill by kilowatt hours.)
A lot of hydro/cheap electricity south of the border in that area, so US houses use heat pumps as well.


451:

Yep.

They use them in Antarctica.

"Using the heat pump system for heating and cooling
proved to be a durable and energy efficient solution.
Durable because only one installation is needed for both
heating and cooling, and efficient because of the low
energy consumption for heating."

Innovative transportable laboratories for polar science. Liesbeth H.W. Noor 2018

But as you say, it's not the icy wasteland that is London.

452:

gasdive @ 450

When I take a walk in my neighborhood I don't often see heat pumps on the side of houses. All these comments about using heat pumps in the winter have made me go to the Web to see what vendors said about their own heat pumps. It turns out that their pumps stop being efficient and stop working completely near -15 or -20 C.

I then went to read Liesbeth Noor's article on using a heat pump in Antarctica. I found they don't rely on the heat pump alone for heating, since it shuts down automatically at -29 C.

"...temperatures below -25°C are infrequent in this part of Antarctica(Shanklin et al.,2009). If temperatures fall below -25°C the installation will perform at a lower capacity; below-29°C the installation will switch off automatically. Anti-frost protection measures need to be taken by closing the ventilation openings in the docking station and placing anti-frost heaters in the container laboratories...."

The winters I've known around Montreal and Ottawa and Québec City have routinely had temperatures at -30 C. Often the temperatures reach -40 C.

You can have an heat pump if you really absolutely want to, but you also need a completely independent heating system for the really cold days.

453:

Whether the heat pump needs a 'completely independent' heating system for cold areas depends on the design of the heat pump. Ours has a back-up heating element that we expect to never need in Vancouver.

https://betterhomesbc.ca/products/do-i-need-a-backup-heat-source-for-my-heat-pump/ has some information.

454:

So only works perfectly down to 11 degrees colder than ever recorded in Edinburgh which started this aside.

www.edinburghlive.co.uk/news/edinburgh-news/gallery/pictures-crazy-edinburgh-snowpocalypse-2010-15750340.amp

And still be working perfectly at the lowest London temperature recorded since records began in 1697, -19C.

Seems like a reasonable trade off to cut winter energy demand by 240 GW without having to install a single pane of double glazing.

455:

Bill, I think it is about C$0.12/kWh or thereabouts - somewhere around 9c US?

As runix mentioned, every heat pump indoor unit (confusingly referred to a the furnace by most people) I’ve seen has a heating element for when needed. The only time mine has ever fired up was when drying the drywall mud before the actual heat pump was hooked up. Now *that* was expensive in electrons.

I think (and can’t be arsed to check) that Panasonic sell a unit good down to -36C.

Whatever, heat pumps are wonderful things. You get more out than you put in - how can that not be neat?

456:

Pigeon @ 400
I looked up UK heat pumps ... first cost is high & even promoted efficiencies are not that great, but thanks for the additional info. I also suspect a price cartel, but no evidence.

@ 409 we can't be fucking arsed Or rather - no greedy little corrupt shit is going to make millions out of it, ripping us off - & as you note, the same applies to the railways.

David L
Maybe I need new specs!

Nojay
A friend's father's house was in Cornwall ... yup, a dosimeter would start going "CLICK!" in his basement.

Rbt Prior
-13 degrees Fahrenheit. WHAT IS THAT? grrr ... ah -25 °C
Really!

457:

#409 Para the Last - Scotland inceasingly has, but Ingurlund seemingly won't, so there's little point in Wales doing so even if the political will to do exists.

#414 - Well I read if as "if it works in Australia it must work everywhere, even in places where the locals know it won't work and can explain so, with worked examples".

#415 - It could be worse; it could be 90 minutes of someone trying to drill granite or even Lewisian Gneiss!

#418 - Well, I know of cases where housing associations have discovered air source heat pumps, and think they have discovered cold fusion!

459:

What Pigeon said is mostly correct, but there is a wrinkle that people from the UK rarely get (even those that have been skiing!) It is actually much EASIER to keep warm whan it is colder and, related to that, much easier to keep cooling elements from freezing up. When it is seriously cold, the air is dry and, even more importantly, water vapour condenses as a more like a powder than a solid block of ice. And then there's sublimation.

Exactly how well heat pumps would work for the UK, I don't know but, considering that I have had Merkins flame me for saying that bicycle chains rusting up is a serious problem, I am disinclined to trust anecdata from alien climes. Equally, I am NOT saying that they won't work - just that I shall remain undecided until I have seen some evidence. And the fact that they are not widely sold here imakes me a little dubious.

But there are other problems. Heat pumps (and air conditioners and anything that voids heat or cold to the outside) in high density locations are a menace to anyone using the streets. That is one of several reasons that I would ban air conditioners in cars in the UK, especially in cities. Yes, there are peoiple who drive cars rather than walk for exactly this reason!

In much of the UK, good ventilation is as important as heating, and there are SERIOUS problems when people put in efficient insulation. Damp is the most common one, which can be solved by powerful dehumidifiers, but radon is a much more serious one in many parts of the country, and there are plenty of other such nasties.

Lastly, demolishing and rebuilding would destroy most of our architectural heritage, cause a massive amount of waste to be disposed of, and use a huge amount of energy. Cement manufacture alone is one of the biggest causes of CO2 emissions.

460:

It came through to me like half a million Edinburghers (Edinburgundians? or Edinbourgeois?) are holding up solutions for the other 67.7 million inhabitants of the U.K.

Nope: I use Edinburgh as my go-to example for planning headaches but it's actually typical of 50-60% of the UK in terms of difficulty in modernizing housing.

I'm going to repeat myself: the average British home is 75 years old. That mean, coincidentally, happens to reflect a point where lots of new homes were being built to replace older ones that had been bombed flat by the Luftwaffe: there's a long tail, and the oldest buildings in daily use in the UK are on the order of a thousand years old, although they're mostly churches: houses don't generally stay in use for more than 200-400 years.

461:

The interesting angle here is Bastiat and the Luftwaffe as window breakers.

462:

Chiming in on the heatpump issue - I moved from Durham (cold, damp) to Trondheim (cold, damp), and this past winter has involved temperatures down a a minimum of -27°C in January (the entire month averaged below -18°C), and an entire month of average -1°C, with daily variation well above and below freezing (November) that coated everything in a thick layer of ice. The latter is worse - you don't need as many clothes, but the constant melting/freezing cycles are just miserable.

Most houses in these parts rely on resistive heating, and also, a substantial minority (I'd estimate 1/3) also have one (or more) heat pumps. Typically these are "small" units for heating/cooling a single room, although the flat I rent is primarily heated by underfloor heating energised by a heat pump (with substantial backup resistive coils) (built ca. 1990, I think).

The heat pump ran into difficulties three times this year:

  • When it was turned on in october it... didn't. I overheard the discussion of what it took to fix - this stuff is not cheap. At all. A decent boiler isn't cheap either, but this is probably more.
  • After about 2 weeks of constant melting/freezing cycles, I'm fairly sure the resistive coils were coming on, at least periodicially, based on the increase in electricity usage. Whether that was to defrost the external radiator or to heat the house instead of the heat pump (or both), I have no idea
  • When the external temperature dropped below about -10°C, the coils came on pretty much constantly to assist (for a 180m^2 house, a total of 4MWh of electricity was used in January, at least 85% of which was for heating)
  • After the coldest nights, the heating wasn't quite enough and the living room would be somewhat below its set point when I woke up
  • Regarding the final point, I emphasise the scale: there, I was asking for a 47°C delta between inside and outside. One of the flats I lived in in Durham, during my PhD, was just about capable of maintaining a temperature delta of 17°C.

    The insulation in the flat is good enough that waste heat from our computers is a problem - usually, the living room is at its set point when I wake up, and over the course of the day (especially when I switch from my work laptop to my desktop for games in the evening), the living room temperature shoots up, and I have had to open a window even on some of the coldest days. You really hear the difference, too - the computer fan speed drops like a stone when it starts sucking in outside air while the window is open.

    Even with Norwegian electricity prices (I've paid an average of about 7p per KWh since I moved here 2 years ago), I'm pretty sure electrical heating is still more expensive than gas heating. It simplifies the infrastructure, though - no need to have rpipework for central heating to all rooms; just the larger rooms might need dedicated circuits for higher power heaters (typically 500W units for smaller rooms like bedrooms, and a total of 1-3KW for a living room). It also means that houses tend to have large interconnects and headroom for, e.g., electric car chargers to be retrofitted. When my parents, in the UK, had one of those put in, they had to have the immersion heater in the water tank disconnected, as their grid interconnect wasn't specified for that high a load (and promises of "we won't use both of them together" were understandably ignored). Not sure if this is a problem in buildings newer than late Victorian era but, well, see Charlie @ 378 on that point.

    463:
    Sorry, but the true levelized cost of energy (LCOE - factoring in all up front construction and operational lifetime costs) which allows for apples to apples economic comparison says otherwise. Renewable energy costs have fallen, but nowhere near enough. In fact, LCOE says natural gas is still the cheapest and coal is still king according to this brutally honest video

    This is obviously false. Those LCOE figures omit the waste clean up costs, or, alternatively the costs of destroying civilisation. There is nothing "true" about them.

    464:

    W.r.t. your last point, yes, it assuredly is. It's why I don't believe in the electrification (heating and vehicle) dates for the UK. In order to deliver that, we need to expand our electricity infrastructure by a factor the three, everywhere from generation down to the room circuits you mention. And, while there are some government gestures at those two extremes, there is damn-all in between.

    And, paradoxically, older houses are often EASIER to redo than more modern ones, because absolutely the worst type of construction for that is concrete. Even when there are electricity ducts (which is not always the case), they aren't likely to be adequate. And, at the other end, floorboards make it easier than chipboard/OSB sheets.

    465:
    Whatever, heat pumps are wonderful things. You get more out than you put in - how can that not be neat?

    I read a short story once where excessive use of heatpumps had cooled the earth to the point where the air had liquified.

    466:

    #459 - As Charlie says; just to add that this message is coming to you from a building which is One Hundred and Eight (108) years old, and that's a fairly typical age for this street.

    #464 - Likewise, but I can't remember what it was titled.

    467:

    Counter-wrinkle; the important point in terms of chilling humans is as likely to be air speed (so-called wind chill) and/or relative humidity as declared air temperature. Given that air speed is usually positive (if not highly so) and RH high (80% or above), a temperature of $value is often colder to a human in the UK than to the same person in a drier and/or calmer part of the World.

    468:

    On UK housing stock:

    The UK urban population took off during the Industrial Revolution. Houses have been built more or less continuously since then, and many of the older ones are still around. A typical town has Georgian houses built circa 1800, or even older houses remodelled as Georgian, followed by roughly concentric rings of Victorian, Edwardian, some art-deco, *lots* of semi-detached three-bed houses built between the wars, post-war prefabricated, maybe some brutalist tower blocks, and then some modern housing estates built by companies like Barratt and Wimpey. A few towns still have bits of Tudor, and there is the odd Norman castle. A friend of my wife grew up in a 16th century farmhouse, and when the chimney caught fire they discovered a priest hole in between two fire places. But that's exceptional.

    Along the way there have been various bits of urban redevelopment: ancient town centres bulldozed in the 60s to make way for exciting new shopping centres, now being demolished once more. Rinse and repeat. Also slum clearances in the 60s where poor people were forcibly (for their own good) relocated to those brutalist tower blocks.

    In short, its a right mixture.

    Houses here are mostly built of brick, or for more modern ones concrete blocks faced with brick on the outside and gypsum panels (what Americans call "drywall") on the inside. Pre-war houses have lime plaster on the inside, which is a pain.

    Modern building standards require double glazed windows, insulation in the walls and loft spaces. Most older houses have been retrofitted with some kind of insulation, usually by injecting polyurethane foam or polystyrene balls into wall cavities.

    British central heating is generally based on hot water circulating through radiators. The same hot water circuit also heats water for the household. Apart from drinking water in the kitchen, cold water for the house (flushing toilets, filling baths etc) is stored in a giant tank in the loft (aka attic) and fed to the house by gravity. Hot water is supplied from a closed and insulated tank which is almost as big and built into a special purpose cupboard upstairs. This tank typically contains both an electric heating element and a heat-exchanger circuit taken from the central heating, so the central heating system also heats the hot water. The cupboard is called "the airing cupboard" because the hot water tank keeps it warm, so its a good place for drying and storing laundry.

    The central heating boiler is powered by gas.

    (If you are wondering, the tank in the loft is basically a giant one-way valve. It became standard back in the early days of domestic plumbing when having mains water contaminated by accidental syphoning of used domestic water was a realistic concern, and we've still got it).

    (There were also some cheap houses built in the 70s that had ducted air central heating like in America. However they tended to use a single common duct with a tee at the end for multiple rooms. So you could lie in bed and hear *everything* in the adjacent bedrooms. I even saw one house where you could lie down and peek through the two gratings. So that never caught on)

    In theory plumbing a heat exchanger into the central heating system would be fairly straightforward; just put the heat exchanger next to the boiler and plumb them in parallel with a two-way valve to select the source. However this would require a heat pump capable of putting out water at 60 degrees C in winter, and as others have noted above the numbers don't add up.

    Just like everywhere else the UK building industry and house market is deeply conservative, so introducing new ideas like sealed houses that only exchange air with the outside via a heat exchanger, well, its not happening.

    469:

    Environmentally, solar is not pristine either.

    The destroyed habitat alone makes PV a bad environmental choice. The PV cells themselves are doped with toxic materials. Until recently, PV meant flat-panel cells and modules. While this allows for some saving in production costs due to inexpensive roll-to-roll fabrication, the material costs are much higher, since almost the entire cell needs to be lined with doped silicon. The doping often involves the introduction of relatively expensive materials, such as gallium arsenide or indium selenide.

    http://72.3.251.71/DE/Editorial/Concentrating_on_the_Solar_Future_1765.aspx

    PV cells do not last for ever. Current warranties run for about 10 to 20 years of operation, after which they have to be disposed of and replaced. A complete conversion to PV energy sources would present us with a serious toxic waste disposal problem.

    For a nice summary of the adverse ecological impacts of Germany's renewable energy program, see this article from Der Spiegel:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-renewable-energy-policy-takes-toll-on-nature-conservation-a-888094.html

    "It was in this way that, in 2009, Germany's largest solar park to date arose right in the middle of the Lieberoser Heide, a bird sanctuary about a 100 kilometers (62 miles) southeast of Berlin. Since German reunification in 1990, more than 200 endangered species have settled in the former military training grounds. But that didn't seem to matter. In spite of all the protests by environmentalists, huge areas of ancient pine trees were clear cut in order to make room for solar collectors bigger than soccer fields. A similar thing happened in Baden-Württemberg, even though the southwestern state has been led for almost two years by Winfried Kretschmann, the first state governor in Germany belonging to the Green Party. In 2012, it was the Greens there who passed a wind-energy decree that aims to boost the number of wind turbines in the state from 400 to roughly 2,500 by 2020. And in the party's reckoning, nature is standing in the way."

    Compare that to a highly efficient combined cycle natural gas turbine generator. For example, the proposed Apex Matagorda Energy Center natural gas power plant will have a capacity of 317 mW and a 22 acre footprint. That’s twice the capacity of the German PV facility, or half the equivalent are per power output of only 11 acres.

    Summary: The wisest application of solar is as an adjunct to a stable power grid, eliminating the need for an expensive storage system, for those areas where the climate makes sense to use rooftop solar. This approach could see solar vastly increase it share of the energy mix to between 5% and 10%. This will naturally reduce the growth in the fuse of carbon energy. But solar is not an existential threat to carbon fuels. That's not a conspiracy of the oil companies.

    It's a conspiracy of physics.

    Li-Ion batteries have made amazing strides in the past few years in terms of weight, charge, cost and lifetime (with 600 to 1000 charge cycles before needing replacement) but still have a ways to go before they can be as commonplace as a refrigerator or dish washer. Right now they are not practical for most consumers, and at the larger utility scale bulk heat storage systems are best. Even the best rechargeables wear out. And when batteries wear out they become toxic waste. Think about how many cars get scrapped annually. Imagine the toxic waste disposal problems from millions of junked EVs every year. And millions more of Tesla Powerwalls.

    470:

    "The Two Georges" by Harry Turtledove

    Richard Dreyfuss (the actor) was the first author, with HT as the second.

    One thing about that novel that was in the background: the authors made it very clear that Irish were still considered as little better than barbarous scum. Also, we didn't get any points of view from people living outside the white dominions.

    I think that RD and HT wanted us to figure out that that British Empire was just as merciless to its non-white 'citizens' as it was in the real world.

    As for Charlie's New British Empire in the Merchant Princes setting, he made it clear1 that its growth to the south was not just co-opting elites, but also incorporating populations as citizens with equal rights as well. Which is what gave it its stability, until its absolute rulers made a series of dumb decisions. So when the empire fell apart and reformed as the Commonwealth, it didn't lose outlying members, because everybody thought that they should be one political unit. So rule by consent of the governed, rather than force.

    Makes me wonder if the French Empire in the series has the same cohesion. (I'm guessing not, but we'll see).

    ~oOo~

    1 Correct me if I'm wrong, Charlie!

    471:

    Mine is only 91.

    The story is "The Snowmen" by Frederick Pohl.

    472:

    I dont think many houses on a modern UK estate have either cold or hot water tanks, they dont fit with the ongoing trend of reducing the overall floor space; cold is fed direct from the mains and hot is 'on demand' using a combi boiler of some kind.
    One or more wood/multi-fuel burners may be provided to maintain pollution levels.

    473:

    Speaking of India as the center of a new empire:

    India will be the next super power, but in a post-global world where even the most powerful nation is a regional power. If America decides it doesn't feel like underwriting the global trading order with the US navy, if we decide to take our toys and go home, then regional power like India become paramount.

    70% of world trade crosses the Indian ocean - but only if India allows it (in the absence of the US navy) - and that includes nearly all of Persian Gulf oil shipments (which we no longer need or care about because of fracking).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yttug-a3sWI Who will Dominate the Geopolitical System in this Decade? | Peter Zeihan | IEC 2021

    Now if British devolution into a half zone smaller statelets turns violent, they are going to need UN peacekeepers.

    India is a big contributor to the Blue Helmets.

    So how about Indian troops patrolling the streets of London?


    474:

    Friends of ours bought a new build on an estate in the west of Edinburgh which doesn't have a boiler at all - heat and hot water is one of the services included in their management fees. There's a boiler house at the end of their street that supplies the whole street.

    Not sure I would be confident enough that the charges would always be reasonable to sign up to something like that, but it should be much more energy efficient. I don't know what the heating mechanism is - if I was designing it then I would have stuck a heat pump in while the ground was bare at the start.

    475:

    So how about Indian troops patrolling the streets of London?

    True poetic justice. I can only imagine how the gammon demographic would react.

    That being said, I hope that the dissolution of the UK is as non-violent as possible.

    476:

    Our house is 21 years old now; we bought it new, back when we were DINKYs (dual income, no kids yet). Outside Edinburgh, so we could afford a garden :) At the turn of the century, our gravity-fed water system / gas-fired central heating was still standard, and the combi-boilers were only just starting to become competitive in sizes larger than "small flat".

    What I have noticed with all of the new building around Edinburgh (it's basically filled up all of the gaps north to the sea over the past century, and is now expanding southwards) is that the new houses don't have chimneys. Up until ten years ago, you'd see a fireplace in most new builds, that could be set up either as a working open fire, or a gas fire. Instead, you now see rooftop solar as standard (it's optimistic, given that we're as far north as Anchorage, but it all goes to make a difference).

    Quick note about geothermal in Edinburgh - the "geo" bit varies. Parts of Edinburgh suffer from subsidence due to the unmapped mine workings from the 18th century and before*; other parts sit on top of igneous rock. There's a reason why the Geology Department at Edinburgh University is quite so old; Arthur's Seat and the Castle Rock are obvious volcanic plugs. Drilling holes might not be as easy or side-effect free as you might hope...

    * The National Mining Museum has a map showing the extent of the workings of the pit in which it's based; well north into Edinburgh. The more northerly deep mines actually had a tunnel all the way under the Forth estuary...

    477:

    @464 - Hah. Now there was somebody that didn’t understand, well, anything .

    @467 - I grew up in UK and lived in houses ranging from multi-century to brand new (as of 1984). Terrible construction standards, dismal materials, lousy heating, no ventilation other than leaks and windows. Appalling plumbing, pathetic lighting. I’m not sure if it is a good thing they tended to ‘fairly solid’ because that makes it harder to demolish and replace with something better. American houses (‘91-‘04) are expensive wooden sheds - *but* you can make very efficient wooden sheds if you try. You wouldn’t build UK style brick houses out west because they’d collapse at the first earthquake. The key is to “build it tight, ventilate it right”. Air leaks are like memory leaks; you think a little bit escaping won’t really matter but boy, does it cause problems. Murrica got plumbing right too. Then again, Murrican electrical... eek. Canadian houses (‘04 on) are much the same but typically more insulated with obvious locale differences. Same plumbing , same electrical, mostly. Less guns.


    @468 - so much nonsense. Solar panels appear to last much longer; 35 years seems easy so far. Any idea that batteries will be left as ‘toxic waste’ is ridiculous because they constitute the easiest mine ever dug. I’m getting the strong impression you are obsessed with gas.