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344 - May snippets

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Covid update.


the Queen's Speech    leading to the mess that is/will be the Elections Bill, summed up by the idea that  Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem.


Podcasts   Why I conclude I have no use for these.


I noticed, not for the first time, several lists of short groups of words that people confuse in English. Many, even most, of these are homophones and to a large extent are spelling errors as a consequence. A lot and allot, to which is added the non-word alot, for example. Some are wrong in one form of english and okay in another, such as practise (verb) and practice (noun) which is only practice in US English. Then there are grammar errors such as with the apostrophe and a good example is its and it's. Homophones that could be fixed are exemplified by oral and aural, such that I'd say aural as owral to provide distinction; language teachers quite often need to use both words quite close together. Then there are words that are distinguishable if you listen with care; allusion and illusion for example. There are those where we ought to have learned the difference such as disinterested and uninterested, disinformation and misinformation [clue; the dis-form generally involves dissing].

The confusable that set me off occurred several times on a few pages in a book I was reading this week (and still bothers me) is nutriment and nutrient: both are nouns and nutrient is also an adjective. Several sources I looked at said that the nouns are synonyms – which suggests that one of them is redundant, and that therefore we should act in one of these three alternative ways: ditch nutriment; use nutrient as adjective only; perceive and emphasise some distinction between the two nouns.

These two linked pages give you the odd 250 examples with some quizzes at the end. I saw these as mostly a test of vocabulary, but still worthwhile.

http://guidetogrammar.org/grammar/notorious.htm          http://guidetogrammar.org/grammar/notorious2.htm


I discovered that yet again Time Machine —the backup system on Apple OSX—has stopped working, such that I have backups for April 22-27 but not subsequently. Applying the First Aid disk utility to the backup drives (there's paranoia, plural drives) shows that the disks are mounted and unmounted, causing error 65 and a First Aid fail. Reformatting a disk (Catalina, so APFS plain) allows a backup to occur (hours). But the following day I'm, back to the error message saying that a backup failed to complete. Extensive hunting causes me to discover all sorts of systems like terminal (scary) and console (brilliant; process logs of all sorts) and a suggestion that Growl, which sits on my system making little reports that I ignore, might be the problem. The benefits of having loads of nerds with time spent hunting and more time spent sharing what they find.... So I've deleted Growl, hopefully thoroughly enough, and have a 'first' backup running on the other, now reformatted, drive. The time predictor for the backup is like Eddie Izzard's description of sending a file; a mere 40 minutes ago it was predicting 14 hours to do the backup and now it says 8 hours. I expect it to take three. Oh, twenty typed lines later it's seven hours left.

20210521, having successfully made backups from the 14th to the 20th, Time Machine declares it is again on strike. In the same 24 hours the website refuses to accept its password and the power sockets tripped out in a storm [odd that the lights didn't]. I doubt they are connected, but it feels like a piece of the sky has fallen. This tale continues in essay 346, written on 20210525.


Another element of the Queen's Speech was the Online Safety Bill. This could so easily go wrong and will require some care to produce something worthwhile. One of the very bad things about a large party majority is that it is relatively easy to push legislation through despite sensible objections. Relevant concern here. Taken from there: well-meaning but poorly drafted measures could prove detrimental to individuals and society for years to come. I encourage you to read this and, while there is little point in getting upset before reading proposals, it is as well to be prepared. What bothered me before I read any other comment was the possibility—and to me a significant likelihood—of unintended consequences. Our parliament has no good reputation for fixing these with any speed.

Personally, I'd like a parallel action to sort out how the very large internet companies get to pay corporation tax. For that matter, I'd like sorted out the overseas companies that successfully avoid all taxes. Several points concern me on that: the impossible competition position for UK-based businesses; that those same businesses should be paying tax, when they're quite possibly working from home undeclared; that buying online is so very easy and that comparing prices is so very easy, we rather naturally drift to the cheaper supplier, who will tend to be overseas. It is as if we're going to need an import tax applied to physical non-paper mail. 


A long media piece I read this morning, 20210514, describes some of the attitudes within the Home Office, what it is like to work there and the legacy problems that successive regimes have perpetrated. I do not see why we are so unable to clean house, but perhaps the reasoning centres around the cost of admitting to major errors. Issues one might explore: John Reid's 2006 quote 'not fit for purpose' (and he was Home Secretary at the time); that the HO is a residual department, where the unclear jobs are placed – which mean inevitably that anything bad will roost there eventually. It was Reid who moved the triple-p of prisons, probation and prevention (of reoffending) to the newly created Ministry of Justice; he too who created the UK Border Agency. These two moves were, I think, smart, but as the article says, Now that responsibility for prison reform and criminal justice had passed to the Ministry of Justice, the department had lost two of the areas in which it could implement progressive policies. Which creates a whole new problem, because what is left is prevention, stopping things from occurring. So this almost immediately means that every output is a negative. Take the hostile environment for immigrants (Theresa May as Home Sec, David Cameron as PM, though this also happened while Labour was in power).

I was struck by In many instances, the only time an individual will come face to face with a representative of the Home Office is if they take them to court. We did the taking to court bit, but no-one turned up to argue the state position. Around 50% of appeals are successful and what we experienced is a common event [article], that the HO knowingly pursues hopeless cases. This is more of that negativity, that hostile environment. I wonder at the effects: my spouse has a very solid suspicion of all things to do with the state (any state); the experiences of the last ten years leave me agreeing with her that Britain is not a trustworthy state administration, which is something that runs counter to the previous fifty years of trusting the system. I say it is one thing to not trust politicians, but quite another to find oneself not trusting the state institutions. That way lies anarchy, demands for Robin Hood, superheroes and other flouting of the rule of law, mostly because the rule of law is failing in its objectives. Worst, the role of the state institutions is to keep its people safe and I think this path of intimidation and prevention removes so many freedoms (including the freedom to be wrong, a demand of compliance) that we soon reach a state that one does not want to live in.

How could we change this? The issue of immigration is significant and, while there are many we clearly (argue, please) don't want migrating (here, anywhere), there are many we quite clearly do, those with skills and abilities from which we can benefit. Which is cherry-picking, so one might say it was wrong. So we could quite easily turn around, or at least make some balancing moves, the immigration by making it clear that there is a rapid acceptance programme for those we want, and some very clear terms and conditions. But that doesn't solve the whole of the problem: suppose there is an acceptably qualified doctor; how much of his or her family is acceptable as connected consequence? Parents with no intention of becoming British? Their other children? The whole clan? Where do we draw the line between wanted and not wanted? We could do a lot that is positive, such as providing encouragement to improve English (and I'd make that sufficiently wide to include indigenes) and making that largely free. But the 'hostile environment' somehow precludes looking for ways to make initiatives that could be viewed as positive. Yet at the very same time, it seems to me clear that this is exactly what we need. Yes, it should be clear what we expect of new citizens and that can be set as a high standard to achieve, but the situation doesn't have to be perceived as only negative. Illegal immigration is a separate matter; asylum seekers are separate again and one of the false perception pushed by the right wing press (that's a perception itself) is that somehow all immigrants must be painted as illegal, unwanted and tainted. That is not right: it is not fair to them and it's not fair to ourselves, though that second is a far lesser position.


To add to what I've written about EVs (electric cars, ninny! Keep up!). This. Root question: How do you organise a large number of charging points in the same place? A fast charger wants 250kW, so 30 would require 7.5MW and suddenly you need a substation. Checking content, a home charger might be 3.6kW (slow), 7kW (fast), 22kW running on single phase or three-phase AC. A standard charge point works at 50kW (rapid, more than 43kW), while an 'ultra-rapid' works in the range 100-350kW. Source. A 22W charger means 1-2 hours; a 50kW charger might mean an 80% charge in 20-40 minutes, once you've reached the front of the queue. We have half a million EVs on the UK roads in 2021, of 32 million in total, increasing at about 50% per year, which implies that the 1.2% now would be 9% in five years' time, already 7-8 times more and that in turn implies that many more charging points, many of them in much the same places as they are already, since a 20-40 minute stop implies there is some opportunity to persuade the driver to spend on more than the charge, like a coffee (and it's the extras that make the sale worthwhile). So there will be demand for many more charge points and in some places, many more in proximity to each other. This is then an infrastructure problem. There are (2020) 35000 charge points in the UK, though I struggled to prove that these were actually available (i.e. not private, like at your house). As an infrastructure problem, this largely falls on the DNOs (distribution network operators), since they are the bodies connecting chargers to the network. As this source shows, 'rapid' charging demands 3-phase at 100A per phase and 'supercharger', 130kW 200A per phase. Conversion of AC (supply) to DC (battery) generates harmonics, meaning that the substation meeds to be 50-200m away, which we might read as close but not too close. This much information implies quite a bit of additional infrastructure in terms of additional substations and upgrades to existing substations. For example p5 suggests 20 rapid chargers would require 1000kVA (which would also serve 135 fast chargers) (1000kVA = 1MVA) so that's £100k or so, plus the street works and the cost of the land involved including the new substation. 

No-one is saying it can't be done. At the same time, I'd like to read about progress towards making this happen. Site. It occurs to me that the longer stop implies that car security may be an issue, physical, electrical and data-driven (what the gov't calls digital). I assume that EV lorries are to be charged at a different sort of place. How does one charge at home if you don't have off-street parking? Do read the linked website, though it poses more than it answers, as do I. You might investigate the 18-point charging hub in Dundee. The updated report is due about now, 20210514.

Look hereCharging device statistics,  Transitioning to zero emission,   EV charging stats,      common misconceptions 


4 screenfuls moved to the June page, because....A week into June and I don't feel like writing or reading much. But then the sun is out at last and no-so-much is wrong with the world.

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