It is Obvious

Chris Rick has got altogether too much to say

Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category

Ideas that provoke a thought


Posted by chrisrick13 on March 1, 2011

It is obvious: you have choices.

Having just put Dr Bartlett in the blog as one of my heroes I looked at his video again.  I once read an SF story about some space ‘pirates’.  They had chanced on a world that was one huge library.  There was nothing to steal as the people who ran the library said they could take what they wanted.  All they had to do was watch the ‘intro video’.  They did that, and it programmed them so that they could no longer steal.  I think Dr Bartlett’s video forever changes you.

If growth has to stop at some point and oil will run out then we all have to face up to what we are going to do about it.  At my age there is a chance that I will die before it affects me…but it is such that there is a chance I will be alive into the problems that are coming and at my most vulnerable (70, 80, or 90 years old).  One of the things I can do beyond investing in myself is to live in the right place.  There are a lot of candidate countries, but how to choose the right one?

Here are some factors:

A good supply of water…though global warming could change that for anywhere.
A climate that does not encourage disease…see above.
A climate that is not inimical to life (the Arctic or Sahara for example).
No mosquitoes!
Not a third world country…not an easy one as countries might revert to third world status, but I think I want to start somewhere with an infrastructure.
Somewhere small so that travel is not a big issue.
A democracy…again I want to start in the right place even if it changes.
Somewhere that it is easy to prevent inward migration if lots of other people decide it is a nice place to live.
Somewhere where the current rulers are showing an interest in the future (energy provision, sovereign fund).
It can grow enough food to keep its population alive.
It has natural resources including some energy.
English speaking would be convenient but I’m happy to learn another language.

I might grow this list.  There is one country that fits nearly all of that very well.

It is obvious: you have choices the tricky thing is exercising them.

Posted in climate, Ideas | 2 Comments »

I wonder

Posted by chrisrick13 on February 25, 2011

It is obvious: it only takes good men to do nothing for evil to prosper.

Not my words.

There was a time in the first Iraq war when the defeated Iraqi troops were streaming home down a valley overflown by allied planes.  The Americans call it a turkey shoot.  It was certainly fish in a barrel.  They couldn’t do the slaughter that Saddam would have done without compunction were roles reversed, and let them retreat.  I thought at the time that they should have leafleted the area and told the troops that any moving vehicle would be obliterated, and walking humans would  be unharmed.  This would have efectively disarmed Saddam.  He might well have just bought more arms, but the southern Arabs would probably have succeeded in their uprising.  Then the uprisings were not supported by the west (or anyone else).  Had they been I wonder whether we would have waited 20 years for Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and the others that will follow.  Was that why Saddam was left?

I wonder now, today, what would happen were there some active support for the revolts?  Would we see more?  Saudi Arabia comes to mind.  China? Russia? Venezuela?  Scotland?

We are in dangerous and uncertain times…but I don’t think that it is any different to the past thousand years, certainly the past two hundred.

I have written much about triggers making predicting an impossible task.  I have already pondered if certain events were triggers, but they were not.  I wonder now whether a street trader setting fire to himself in Tunisia is the trigger.  If triggers are impossible to predict I wonder if analysis of a certain state of affairs would reveal that it was vulnerable to a trigger and thereby allow prediction based on a vulnerability to triggers and the probability of one happening.

It is obvious that we really do not know enough information about what governments are doing ‘behind the scenes’ to make accurate statements about what is actually happening and why.  We can only speculate.

As for the line of Arab countries, it matters now because of oil, but it soon won’t.

It is obvious: it only takes good men to do nothing for evil to prosper and there is a lot of that going on.

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With sympathy

Posted by chrisrick13 on February 8, 2011

It is obvious: live in the future

I still have sympathy for politicians of whatever colour.  They sometimes have power which they struggled mightily to get, but when they have it there is not much they can do with it.The economy of the nation is one that I bleat about lots.  They have conflicting advice, poor information and few available tools.  Anything that they do has a long lead time meaning that they can’t act promptly and often will not see the results of their endeavours until after they are out of power when the opposition takes all the credit or blames them.  I wonder why they do it.

However that is not the only aspect to having power.  There is another much more important task for them and it is one that receives a lot less publicity.  It is like the explorers of centuries ago.  Set off from England looking for North America, get your course one degree wrong and by the time you cross the atlantic you are in Brazil.  So it is with policies enacted today having a significant effect many years hence.

There are many examples.  In the 40’s the NHS was created.  It was said at the time that with the consequent improvements in the nation’s health that the cost would steadily reduce.  How different things could have been.  Our lengthening life expectancy is down to good sewers and vaccination programs.  The Victorians built the former and small teams of scientists for beans developed the vaccines.

The M1 and the rest of the motorway network has had a huge impact on life in this country.  It has allowed us as a nation to respond to economic demands in a flexible and cheap manner.  The rail network similarly…but for that we must again thank the Victorians and before.

North sea oil used to upset me.  Get it out the ground as fast as possible and spend it seemed to be the intent.  Why not keep it and pace its extraction over a hundred years?  Why was the decision made to flare off a lot of gas?  Big decisions that are affecting us now.

So with those and many other examples it is down to the government to find the clear winning policies and back them.  They can gather experts together from all over the world and perhaps come up with a few good policies.  The results will be seen in the future.

If they are unsure then they can ask the BBC to interview a few people on the street.

In the meantime I have a few ideas, or I wouldn’t be writing this.  Research into fusion power.  We are doing it already but not on a big enough scale.  Coal.  Start building coal power stations with socially acceptable handling of the pollution aspects…or simply don’t bother like the Chinese.  Education and training.  Famous words from Tony Blair but not much action.  This has two prongs.  First is bringing everyone up to a decent standard.  This has huge savings in social costs.  Second is getting our best thinkers to spend time doing it.  Put lots of money into higher education…and research.  It is a bit of a lottery, but the more tickets you have the better the chance of a big win.

I have a number of other interesting ideas that I will save until I am Prime Minister.

It is obvious: live in the future and you will make a better job of today.

Posted in Economy, Education, Ideas | Leave a Comment »

PhD in shopping?

Posted by chrisrick13 on January 15, 2011

It is obvious: they are out to get you.

Food shopping is not an activity of choice.  Just the two of us now so we do it every 2-3 weeks with small stuff in between.  Trying to diet so we don’t need bread.  Drink green tea so we don’t need milk.  When my sons were at home we had games to make the shopping bearable.  Curling was a favourite.  You have to push the trolley the length of an aisle without touching the sides.  That was too easy so we added the requirement of a 360 degree turn.  We did the two trolley trick moving stuff between a hidden second trolley so my wife was never sure what she had got and not got.  There were others.  She knew that banning us from shopping was a defeat so had to endure nearly twenty years.

Now it is just me  I have to take part.  My reward is getting it over quickly.  I have taken to calculating unit prices on the different sizes of items to fill in the time.  Largest is not necessarily cheapest.  The problem with different brands is that you are not comparing like with like.  Things like shower gel are easy though.  It cleans me and surprisingly little is needed to achieve clean – it does not matter what the brand is.  The Sainsburys brand is about a fifth the cost of branded ones.

I had to pause at the meat though.  There were two 500gm packs of lean mince for £5 and next to them were two 700gm packs of the same stuff for £6.  It took me a moment…actually several moments…actually a lot more moments than it should have.  The 700gm packs were the better deal.  The easiest way was to say that for a pound I was getting 400gm more.  However they are destined for bolognaise that will go in the freezer so we can throw them away in 5 years.  I know that we won’t get more meals, just larger ones.  So where was the benefit in the 700gm packs?

When we got to the checkout I realised that we had well over £100 in the trolley.  When you pay they also print out vouchers and one that I often get is that when I spend £50+ they give £5 off the next £50+ shop…provided it is within a week.  As I said above, we shop every two or three weeks.  I never claim the discount.  But I had an idea.  When the checkout total got to £55 I put a divider onto the conveyor belt.  I paid and sure enough got my £50 voucher.  I got a very odd look from the checkout lady as we ran the second half through.  Again £55 and I proudly presented my voucher and got £5 off the shop.  YESSSSSS!  I now expect them to add a ban on using the voucher on the same day as receipt.

I hear the question: why don’t you buy more and shop less often?  (I could have said ‘fewer times’ but could not remember if it was less or fewer.  ‘Fewer’ sounded right.)  Perhaps we just need a little more organisation to increase our storage.  That would be more efficient.  At times of high inflation we would be investing in food futures.  The trouble is that you have to buy the appropriate amounts of stuff that you consume over the same time period or you are forced back to the shops when the first things runs out.  A nice problem though and counteracts the supermarket just-in-time supply model.  I will have to sit down and calculate relative consumption rates.

I’m harmless, well, mostly harmless.  Time on my hands and an active brain.  I wonder how many people over the coming months are going to find themselves with time on their hands and smart brains who are not harmless.

It is obvious: they are out to get you.  You are not paranoid.

Posted in Ideas, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »