348 - June snippets | Scoins.net | DJS

348 - June snippets

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Castles in the air           How big is 21 acres?       

Housing index,  the building footprint expressed as a percentage of the whole plot.  Hence ascertaining the split between house footprint, hard surfaces and garden (soft surfaces). 


Retention in teaching    10% of teachers leave teaching in the UK each year. 32% of new teachers leave within the first five years. Growth of teacher numbers is less than that of pupil numbers.  image source.



Heat Dome    Hitting temperatures of 50ºC and how man copes with temperatures exceeding 35ºC.  And the town where it hit worst has now gone....


On other fronts, and perhaps to move to the previous pages on the general topic, this from The Conversation:-

The red/yellow chart shows change in sea level is not at all uniform.

The mostly blue map showing the Arctic Ocean (or would you rather call it a sea?) shows the subsurface temperature at 2 metres and so is a measure of the permafrost, and a place where CO₂ is stored, twice as much as in the whole of the atmosphere. If you look at the link, this chart flips between 97-06 and 07-18, so you can see the recent change, or what the authors think most shows what it is they want you to take away as understood.

Other charts not copied here show the deforestation in Brazil, the NO₂ in Europe changing in 2020 lockdown (comparing Easter 2019 with the same time in 2020).

I looked at all of this and decided that none of this says the world is ending. It of course supports any opinion that says we're getting it wrong, but, as we've learned so thoroughly with the pandemic, the detail figures for one aspect or location don't tell the overall picture, and vice versa.


The Martians have landed. On earth, already.  FullFact felt it necessary to counter-argue  a Facebook post which claims that Covid vaccines give recipients “magnetic” properties, and allows them to be detected by electronic devices via Bluetooth. FactCheck 28/5/2021. 


There's a world-wide shortage of chips. There is also a very small number of chip manufacturers. Amongst the mess that is reportage I noticed that some idiot got away with using semiconductor as a substitute for chip, when semiconductors are used in volume to make chips. Calling them microprocessors would be accurate enough. Because one person did, many sheeple followed so I caught this on the radio yesterday (day out, so radio on in car eventually). There might well be a shortage of semiconductor as a base from which to make chips. The referenced article is very poor echo-chamber material. The Guardian is better and as ever references its own related articles, so one can explore the topic as they understand it. Reasons are not well presented, but it appears to be based on (i) the pandemic limiting production for a while and (ii) increased demand, notably from car manufacture. Or, perhaps, that demand has increased and the big manufacturers are hit by this, putting anticipated models into delay.  Cars in generalNissan, Ford. Tech in generalSamsung,  Apple.

What this is not is a shortage of silicon, only silicon chips. Which asks why the adjective at all, since we don't base chips on anything other than silicon, much, yet. The food version means different things in the UK and US (the UK-chips are french fries in the US and US-chips are crisps in the UK). Nor is this a particular shortage of other material from which computer chips are made.

Chip manufacture is itself an interesting thing to investigate. WikipediaThere are two major manufacturers of computer processors, Intel® and AMD®. source. The greatest production is from TSMC in Taiwan (of course; TSMC is the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) and GlobalFoundries in the US (mostly, but also Germany and Singapore). Analysis of a sort.  I have to wonder what is missing from the media stories. For example, The European Union (EU) has set a goal for Europe to produce at least 20 percent of the world’s semiconductors by value by 2030. Semiconductor revenue in Europe is lower than in other regions, although Europe does have key strengths which could help it to achieve the ambitious targets. An example is in the production of chips for the automotive industry, with firms such as NXP Semiconductors (Netherlands) and Infineon (Germany) specialising in this field.  Source.  So wouldn't a world-wide shortage encourage a shift within Europe to local suppliers for the car chips? One understands that results wouldn't be immediate. There is understandable confusion between who designs chips and who actually makes them. Also, chips can be for phones and cars and computers and we easily confuse ourselves that these are the same, or different, when making general statements. 

I conclude that this is a badly reported tale. For example, Apple used Intel chips (Intel do both design and manufacture) and their newest computers use the M1 chip, which is made by TSMC. A concern in the West is the Chinese attitude to Taiwan, which puts the (perception of) stability of supply in doubt, so, for example, Intel announced an expansion and large volume chip designers such as Apple and Qualcomm (who fairly obviously contract out the manufacture) need to be concerned similarly.


A consequence of this bad reporting is that one may yet be persuaded to pay (support) better independent reporting. However, what pertains here as echo-chamber based on very little real or researched content demonstrates both the need and the current failure for this to occur. As an example, The Conversation sells itself as such a source—"academic rigour, journalistic flair"—but what I read often falls down on one or both counts, perhaps demonstrating that rigour and flair make poor bedfellows. So I wrote to them about this conflict, to no reply a week later.


A week into June and I don't feel like writing or reading much. But then the sun is out at last and not-so-much is wrong with the world. So I moved a chunk of what I wrote in May onto this page.

Page added to the Maths section about Xⁿ starting with n.


This old fool managed to fall over while running. One might hope this will teach me to lift my feet (knees) more, but that is unlikely to last. As an indirect result there will be more writing on here.

One long article worthy of share is from The Atlantic, and explains—or purports to—how the US had fractured into four more-or-less separate states of thinking.  I have paraphrased throughout what follows. The author, George Packer, has labelled these; first, Free America, which amounts to 'don't tread on me' and seems to me somehow white, redneck, deliberately not responsible and perhaps mostly Republican. Second, Smart America, who are the very vocal and effective top ten percent (not all of them, but mostly from that sector); think of them as meritocrats. Meritocracy also doesn't do responsibility well; smart Americans work hard all of the time, pursuing their version of success and in general not mixing well with those not like themselves. That may give them, accidentally, common ground with the Free Americans (your problems are your own); generally I see Smart Americans as probably democrats. One difference is that Smart Americans seems not to have much use for patriotism, but that also means that by ceding this entirely they gift it to others. Third we have Real America, to whom Sarah Palin and later Donald Trump appealed; these are white, religious, nationalist, working class, hard-working producers, oddly conservative to the extent of indifference to what occurs outside the borders. I read this as white Christian nationalism even if its members denied such. Trump appalled these folk (which explanation I don't understand; I'd have thought he'd appeal greatly). Fourth of these groupings is Just America: they may mean Unjust America, for it is the lack of equality in justice that characterises them. Mostly this is the failure of social justice, but these are people who feel oppressed on some way. Oppression in this sense is that 'the system is out to get them'. These folk see the system as a fixed hierarchy (that rings true in the UK too); they are anti-supremacist, probably anti-white in turn, but every group that identifies as oppressed belongs (an easy list to write). Yet my understanding of the Just America includes many overeducated, underemployed young whites, who continually misreads or ignores the Black and Latino working classes, though I may be conflating ideas incorrectly.

I found all four categories somewhat hollow, though no doubt the certainty that any stereotypical member of any of the four is very definite that they are Right and that their lives make sense in that their actions are consistent with their beliefs. Each group identifies with a problem that is real enough; each offers a value that the others need and lacks ones that the others have. Free America celebrates the energy of the unencumbered individual. Smart America respects intelligence and welcomes change. Real America commits itself to a place and has a sense of limits. Just America demands a confrontation with what the others want to avoid. 

Not a description of a country I want to visit; though much of the geography appeals, the people strike me as downright dangerous.


Floundering around looking for something quite different I found a report that says GOV.UK content should be published in HTML and not PDF. Presumably if so, then perhaps many more documents well outside government should follow the same suggestion. A pdf file is difficult to mess about with, so it is also more difficult to maintain; but that is the whole point, in effect it works to counter all sorts of behaviour the originator views as theft or other abuse. The benefits of using html is that it will fit whatever screen is in use, it is much easier to find and to track – and so, the argument goes, to use, but then that 'use' is what the pdf-user was to some extent trying to prevent, particularly the copy/paste action. Maybe the position is different for HMG, where copying from a site as a quote ought to cause a reader to go view the gov.uk site for the 'latest update', no matter how much what it says is not what the user wants to read. While bits of gov.uk are good (improving, say) at showing date of last update or edit, that does at least recognise that the sort of access most of us want is for the information to be convenient and accessible. Whether those same features apply outside government is a decision for others. Maybe much of the complaint over html would be cured by a sufficient log of edits, which doesn't have to be left publicly available.


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