388 - Summer Snippets 22 | Scoins.net | DJS

388 - Summer Snippets 22

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Summer snippets runs from June onwards. I have formed a subsection each time any single topic passed a two-screen measure (on my own set-up). No doubt some pieces ought to be uploaded separately, but I cannot as yet decide the basis for this.

I opted to expand #383 into #384-7, where perhaps I should have used a further sub-division. 

I turned the growth of monkey pox cases into a maths page aimed at those with no knowledge of logs, in the faint hope of persuading readers that they might yet see a use. Short form; it is how you find the t in  C = Kᵗ. 

I notice that drop-down menus often don't work on the website; I think this is because it takes quite a long time for enough of the site to load (the indexes for those menus) that this is taken by users—and that's primarily myself—to mean failure. Since I put in a number of alternative routes to help people find what they might wish to read, I'm not going to worry unduly about this.


I've written several times about the need to change our demand for energy. This piece starts from an award-winning article and turns steadily to what one might, as an individual, do about this.

This moved to form §388.1, 20220616

[30]  https://theconversation.com/climate-scientists-concept-of-net-zero-is-a-dangerous-trap-157368?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2016%202022%20-%202322523139&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2016%202022%20-%202322523139+CID_53c6eee2cbb2689da70367c2a8825179&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=an%20article%20we%20published


I notice that, much as expected, the government's idea of planning matches my idea of almost the opposite. One such matter lies with food and our ability to grow enough on our own land to feed ourselves – food security. Yet again, the lack of forward thinking means that we are not only failing to do this but that movement is in the wrong direction.  This became §388.4


A piece about gun control in the US and comparison with other nations. Moved to form §388.2, since it hit sufficient length. Done 20220617.


A piece on the benefits of Brexit—spoiler, none found—was moved to #388.3. I expect to add to this, but I do not expect to discover any advantages to having Brexit(ed). There are changes that have occurred, but that is not the same as having advantageous change. The only thing observed is that a smaller national unit can move quicker that the federal one; thus for example Britain has moved more immediately than the EU on several occasions related to the Ukraine war. I think this would have been true while within the EU too, since we did not, at the time have a European standing army. What we have in its place is NATO.


I have been wondering about the imminent political demise of Boris at our PM – a good thing short term but for a change of government then the longer he stays in, the better for everyone that doesn't vote conservative. My mental ears pricked up on comments that disagreed with my long-lasting perceptions of the Tories and who votes for them, or doesn't.

This became so long I moved it to §388.5 20220707 the day Boris apparently resigned. We will discover the extent to which this is true in subsequent weeks. I noticed he did not use the verb resign at all in his address outside No10. 

1) Older voters move to the right as they age.

This appears to be true.

2) The Tories are the party of small government, lower taxation and spending. 

Not true, it would appear.

The Conservatives are the party of high UK borrowing and low debt repayment, contrary to all popular belief.

3)   The Tories are who the elite vote for (the rich, landowners, the educated).

Currently not true, if it ever was. The proportion voting Conservative goes down with increased education. 

I titled this page the party of tax and spend, however true or untrue that may actually be, on the grounds that this is the phrase the Tories so often use to denigrate—the in-word in parliament is traduce—the Labour party.


To me, increasing inflation and a leap in energy costs is reminiscent of the 1970s. But few under 50 have any appreciation and no memory of this. So the general reaction is to demand 'something be done about it', rather than tighten a belt or two – which is what we all have to do. But, of course, the media so easily have the wrong end of the stick, and choose to interview those panicking and demanding, rather than those who adapt quickly. I suspect that many have adapted, in the same way that we adapted to covid. The comment that the 2020s are not the same as the 1970s is  correct, in that we don't have strong unions, though we don't have government in agreement with the unions. What we do have is a visible difference between the interests of the workers and of capital (business, the rich and powerful). This heads us towards a very bad place. We should already be recognising that we're going to have a shrinking economy and that (therefore) resilience is a key factor. Which means that the sooner we adapt and the sooner we recognise change as opportunity — to spend more intelligently, to use the squeeze to, say, lose weight, eat differently, insulate our homes, build better homes, and so on. But what is visibly happening is that the media expect the government to somehow magically make the whole issue go away (I dunno, maybe giving us money to fill the hole?). I am expecting that a lot of householders' money currently spent on entertainment (streaming, etc, but also eating out) is going to have to move to energy, especially when it gets colder. Meanwhile the media will describe this as a choice between eating and heating, without (by choice) reducing other spending. What we need is a prominent figure to point out that they can't afford to have more children. We need fewer people; rant, rant and repeat.




This chart from [112 of 388.4]. I'd love to see this compared to 2022 and 2023 figures. I'd like for all of us to produce this at a household level. I wonder if we ought also to do it for our lifetime totals. I hope that fuel for transport is under transport. I may well attempt to provide my own figures for comparison in the hope of encouraging readers to do the same. I show the 2021 table alone on the right since the order is different. 

[112] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/united-kingdom-food-security-report-2021/united-kingdom-food-security-report-2021-theme-4-food-security-at-household-level


Largest countries by land area, to the right: I'm not sure I'd have guessed these in the right order. Change here only occurs if Russia or China are accorded land they have acquired or claimed. In China's case, pockets of land in the South China Sea and possibly Tibet, and in Russia's case, the Crimea and parts of Ukraine. And, unless we cause this to stop, a lengthening list.

Largest countries by population is more likely to change if population growth is uneven: I expect India and China to swap places by 2030.

China         17.7%                         Brazil            2.7%

India           17.2%                        Nigeria         2.66%

USA             4.18%                      Bangladesh  2.11%

Indonesia     3.42%                      Russia          1.85%

Pakistan       2.83%                      Mexico         1.61% 

On this ordered population list the UK is 21st, immediately behind Germany and France.


Decisive people don't make better decisions [70]. I've long thought this, so I'll agree. But that means that indecisive people don't either. So the decisive folk spend a lot less time in decision (and in indecision) and thus have, potentially, a better quality of life. That the research says neither makes 'better' decisions says less about the process than it does the learning that occurs from having made a decision; evidently this is not assessed and generally we don't record how/why we made those decisions.

Being less or more confident of the choice that has been made cannot affect the outcome. It can however influence future ones. State-oriented people are less confident of whether the choice is right, which makes pursuing our goals a much greater challenge.

I read the questionnaire that formed the basis of the research and I found that, probably in order to make the quiz work at all, the answers are binary choices. Personally, for many of these I wanted a third or fourth answer, mostly Something Else, which, as far as I could tell, meant I'd have taken au unlisted and different action long before the decision point indicated. As to how any measure was applied to whether a decision was a 'good' one or how confident one felt about the decision taken, I felt that this was not satisfactorily explained. Also, that if it were explained, I would disagree with this content. I suspect that this confidence is based upon whether one says one spends time unable to move on after an event, but that the events so described didn't strike me as decisions at all, but as failure to take timely action.

[70]  https://theconversation.com/decisive-people-dont-make-better-decisions-new-research-183874


The Americans (that's the US) have been very stupid yet again. Vested interests have won yet again. The headline is 'EPA  ruling limits climate change action'. Those states that generate power from coal are not, now, restricted from doing so. It is not that the climate change action in the US is blown away, but it is certainly damaged. It is not the huge change-stopping event that the media have claimed it to be, nor it does mean that the national government needs to come up with (and for Congress to agree) much better concrete action. This is likely to fail. Existing plant appears to be (now) protected from action; the required technology for carbon capture is not adequately demonstrated to demand its inclusion (and the power companies have no interest in that occurring, any more than those confronted with bigger bills want to pay any more for power. We are in a proper Catch-22, can't-win scenario, mostly because we've had a remarkably free ride in burning fossil fuels with no regard for the future and here we are needing to recognise that dues are heading our way. Thus Americans are, as I understand it, able to continue to pay less than appropriate for energy, or can be virtuous and pay significantly more, which is very much like buying organic food. There is no mention in the press I read whether Americans can buy energy from renewables, such as we can in Britain. What we're collectively going to do is wriggle to avoid this (paying for energy, not using fossil fuels) for as long as possible, with disastrous consequences. Yet again our 'great' leaders aren't leading (or aren't being allowed to do so) and so we are reduced, still, to what we can do at an individual level. Which is fine for those who can afford it, and, simply, the advantaged gain more advantage. 

The recent series 'Sherlock' explored some consequences of the 70s miners' strike. It was clear to me at the time, well outside the industry, that coal had no great future and was going to shrink dramatically. The media chose to characterise this dispute as the state trying to kill off the unions (not entirely untrue) but there was an opportunity, not taken, for an understanding that coal had to shrink and that jobs are not guaranteed, that jobs-for-life was always a false promise. We have this to an extent with the railway strikes in 2022; change must occur, job-for-life is not guaranteed. Not least, moving on is important; while one message from the programme was that it is no help to anyone for a town to be labelled 'former mining' or 'post-industrial', because that is always looking backwards and mourning what was. The UK has a similar problem in having been a great empire and it clings to the past instead of deciding clearly what its future will be. The Tory view of freedom from Europe (they'd capitalise that) attempts such a vision but ignores so very much of what causes the world's economics to function at all. Having left, the possibility of rejoining is remote and I suspect that we have to fail for decades, falling out of the G7 and G10, before the political climate will recognise the advantages to being a member of Europe – at which point we will be a supplicant and still a pariah. This was a gross error. The more we choose to diverge, the more we will have to actually be independent. But we are not at all prepared to pay for that to occur.

[80] https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2022/06/scotus-epa-ruling-west-virginia/661448/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20220630&utm_term=The%20Atlantic%20Daily

[81]  https://www.statista.com/statistics/987347/brexit-opinion-poll/  As of May 2022, 49 percent of people in Great Britain thought that it was wrong to leave the European Union, compared with 37 percent who thought it was the right decision. During this time period, the share of people who regret Brexit has been slightly higher than those who support it, except for some polls in Spring 2021, which showed higher levels of support for Brexit. The share of people who don’t know whether Brexit was the right or wrong decision has generally been consistent and usually ranged between 11 and 13 percent.




Discussion recently with other old blokes about reading, underlined the perception among the age-group that the young barely read at all. The test question is to ask anyone under 40 if they can count the number of books they have read from choice. So all school texts are excluded (Far from the Madding Crowd; ..Thunder, Hear my Cry; ..The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, etc), but any Harry Potter is included (and for some, that is most of their subsequent list). No, reading a magazine doesn't count, and reading on a Kindle only counts if you finished the book, in which case it is quite possible that the Kindle or equivalent will tell you how many books you have read. If someone says that's too many to count, then ask them about books read just in this year, 2022. If it gives you context, I'm on 2-10 books a week; this is week twenty-something and I've apparently read something like sixty books this year. Some were even on paper, which means, almost certainly, I've read them more than once, now. Mostly I read on an iPad; when I'm on a reading jag, it'll peak at maybe ten books in a week, such as when I decide to read (or re-read) the whole of an author's output. An example from January was that I read thirty Jack Ryan books, slowing down after about No 25. In March I read almost everything from Jodi Mitchell, who has an amusing way of looking at time travel, again petering out at around the twenty mark. In between I worked through the Felix Francis novels (since Dick stopped) and in the same way caught up on other authors of interest, like Eric Flint. This didn't apply to Cixin Liu and Alastair Reynolds, both of which I found eminently put-down-able. Which is probably my loss.  You might persuade yourself to look at #194.


I was wondering idly about the understanding of happiness, about which I have written before. The tern in vogue is wellness, the condition of good physical and mental health, especially when actively maintained by proper diet, exercise, and avoidance of risky behaviour. Yet that begs an understanding of risk as intended by the author of the definition. I suggest that a working value of risk is behaviour which puts at risk the 'good physical and mental health' already explained. So does that mean that one should not race, in that competitive exercise that pushes the envelope gives an increased risk of injury, or does one balance the risk of injury against the benefit to mental health for an achievement? Is there some sensible, wellness optimising, middle ground here? How much repetition of some—physical or mental—exercise seen as  necessary does it take to become so very boring it is having an opposing effect? For example, if I do a surfeit of sudoku in pursuit of mental health, how much damage am I doing physically from sitting still for so long?  Conversely, if I do oodles of exercise, am I paying a price in cognitive decay? 

As to how we might measure wellness, it seems to me to be, still, stuck in a state which is entirely subjective. Subjective measures are heavily flawed since a lot of assessment is done by comparison, not only with the local evidence but by measuring against expectation. So I'm going to be claiming physical unwellness when running 5km takes more than 25 minutes (and I have complained at that occurrence), where others would be delighted (and are) at the same feat inside 40 minutes, claiming this as evidence that they are well. Such is relative; context is significant. There are mental equivalents. There are (many more) things we could measure and do not, some of which might even be useful and relevant to stemming the steady decay that ageing represents. To any younger reader, adding another year increases the speed of decay; if you need evidence, look at the age-grading curve, (#263 view up the page) as increased difficulty at doing (anything, other than becoming older still).

Want to be happier? Manage your stress levels – do stuff that minimises this, by dealing with whatever bothers you the most. Time management will help. Clarity of thought will help. Have less alcohol, more sleep, more exercise, better food, better company. Lower your expectations. Make becoming happier a personal target. List of lists.


Here's an allegedly better map of the tube system, which means how to get around London. While I am marginally interested in improved representation of information, I find I really do not care. London is a place I actively do not want to visit. Ever again. So for me, how to get around London is based on the M25. Or staying away from the SE of England altogether.


This map shows less topology and is more nearly geographically correct. I think I'd prefer the opposite to be available;  more topology. I can see that moving lines around to make the labels fit well is a necessary limitation. I think the walking links should be included. I assume that the shading indicates some sort of ticket price banding, which makes Heathrow in band 6, Kew in band 4. Here below is that other map, the 'regular' version.

https://content.tfl.gov.uk/standard-tube-map.pdf is my preferred form. Once the map becomes complicated like this we have two choices: one, to accept 'complicated' and embrace it wholeheartedly; two, to attempt whatever simplification we can accept as users. I see this map as about as simple as we can make it without throwing away whole lines and /or stations.


[90] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/05/single-use-plastic-chemical-recycling-disposal/661141/

The first problem is that there are thousands of different plastics, each with its own composition and characteristics. They all include different chemical additives and colorants that cannot be recycled together, making it impossible to sort the trillions of pieces of plastics into separate types for processing.

Another problem is that the reprocessing of plastic waste—when possible at all—is wasteful. 

If the plastics industry is following the tobacco industry’s playbook, it may never admit to the failure of plastics recycling.

Yet another problem is that plastic recycling is simply not economical. Recycled plastic costs more than new plastic because collecting, sorting, transporting, and reprocessing plastic waste is exorbitantly expensive. 

Despite this stark failure, the plastics industry has waged a decades-long campaign to perpetuate the myth that the material is recyclable. This campaign is reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s efforts to convince smokers that filtered cigarettes are healthier than unfiltered cigarettes.

Chemical recycling is not viable. It has failed and will continue to fail for the same down-to-earth, real-world reasons that the conventional mechanical recycling of plastics has consistently failed. Worse yet, its toxic emissions could cause new harm to our environment, climate, and health.

According to a report published by the Canadian government, toxicity risks in recycled plastic prohibit “the vast majority of plastic products and packaging produced” from being recycled into food-grade packaging.

Proven solutions to the U.S.’s plastic-waste and pollution problems exist and can be quickly replicated across the country. These solutions include enacting bans on single-use plastic bags and unrecyclable single-use plastic food-service products, ensuring widespread access to water-refilling stations, installing dishwashing equipment in schools to allow students to eat food on real dishes rather than single-use plastics, and switching Meals on Wheels and other meal-delivery programs from disposables to reusable dishware.

Yes, I want no more single-use plastics, but how do we actually support that? What is the argument from, say, the large supermarkets that justifies wrapping the cucumber, the broccoli and lots of other veg in plastic? Is it cheaper than the alternatives, and, if so, what would we have to do to stop this being so? Do we actually need to ban single-use plastics?

I think the domestic solution is to move to a 'local' veg supplier who uses hands or paper. We recycle paper quite successfully.

Cucumbers last longer if wrapped, like ten days. But the sites that say this don't say how long one lasts unwrapped. It cuts out the consequences of handling by many (not least by my missus, likely to handle ten things while choosing just one). The plastic reduces dehydration and protects a thin skin. I say we need to eat it sooner but we also need to reduce biohazard. So (plastic, oops, paper, surely) gloves in the veg dept? Wrapped veg has a lower wastage rate (on the way to the end user). Morrison's attitude.

What about replacements for cling film? Reusables. Cotton? Beeswax?

Actually, I think I have reached the conclusion that, since we have issues with recycling plastics because they are inextricably mixed, then it makes sense to remove the plastic from recycling (trying to return it to fresh plastic) and instead find uses for old, mixed plastic. One such has been explored by me already, and in a watch-this-space sort of way; we can turn mixed plastics into a building material. We'd need to address the erosive effect observed in oceans and soil, where the particles become ever smaller, but is seems to me that we could generate plastic-based bricks for far less energy than we spend on creating bricks and mortar. Essay #309 and others. This essay chain was edited this month.

https://www.freethink.com/environment/bricks-made-from-plastic-waste describes a start-up in Kenya that crushes plastic, mixes with sand and applies heat to make brick shapes. These are considered twice as strong as brick, about half the weight and significantly cheaper. As yet, the resulting bricks are used for paving. The issue of use as a structural material lies with plastic being compressible. One assumes that plastic bricks are weak in fire; we know that plastic degrades in UV light. So in order to make plastic bricks good for construction we would need to cover them from light and fire, but we could make the plastic into containers to fill with other non-degrading material such as sand and then to make these containers in shapes that interlock. To avoid the compression issues we either include a support structure or build at single-storey. The behaviour under fire is why plastic bricks are used for perimeter walls, paving and open areas, but even here UV degradation is going to be a long-term issue, especially if the selling point is that the plastic is removed  from the possibility of degradation.


Trying to understand why it is that actions to curtail Russia are not succeeding, I came across [130], which explains that Russia is pretty unimportant in terms of world economy, except for oil and gas. It is only the 11th largest economy overall, despite being the third largest oil producer after the US and Saudi Arabia and second largest oil exporter after Saudi. It also sits on the largest proven gas reserves in the world, is the second largest producer after the US and the largest exporter.  In particular, Russia is the largest energy supplier to the EU, accounting for 27% of oil imports and 41% of gas. Second-placed Norway accounts for 7% and 16% respectively.

I think this explains a lot. How, then, might sanctions have any effect? Russian oil is consumed, largely, by China and Germany, but those who have indicated that they won't buy oil or gas have simply opened the market for those who will, mostly on the other side of the Urals. So, far from causing a reduction in production or sales, the opposite has occurred, and so the Russian economy is not suffering at all from sanctions, as yet. By refusing to buy from Russia, the world supply goes down, at least theoretically, and so the price ought to be expected to rise.

[130]   https://theconversation.com/russias-oil-is-in-long-term-decline-and-the-war-has-only-added-to-the-problem-186167?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20July%205%202022%20-%202340023313&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20July%205%202022%20-%202340023313+CID_fcc394cddacd758e1bb9d5571cfc20eb&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=What%20went%20wrong


I received a mail telling me about the Community Safety Charter, whose objective is to enable active bystanders in capturing information (which I reckon means video) so as to deal with community safety issues,  enabling a more positive, proactive approach by the whole community when witnessing or experiencing confrontation, hostility, or harassment.  

A good idea, you would think. Considering whether to sign up, I realised that the proper consequence would be that, every time one steps out of the door and therefore into public space, one is then expected to have one's phone in hand and perhaps already recording, much as a police person has active live video much of the time. Practically, this must involve an awful lot of editing so as to have relevant, useful usable content. I am far from sure whether I am prepared: (i) to carry the hated phone; (ii) to have the damned thing occupying a hand; (iii) to have it pointed in any useful direction; (iv) to invade the lives of others by recording – I would far prefer to have been asked for permission to be in anyone's recordings; (v) to wade through the 99% of complete dross so as to have even as much as 1% of usable material, when I think it might be a tenth or less of that; (vi) to be so positive (that our society is that negative) that doing this would be useful. I would, actually, rather sign up to do editing of the take of a street camera.

I feel much the same about car video cameras. Yes, I could have one and yes I can see that they might well capture something that showed an offence occurring, but while I see suitable content on almost every drive, that is often not where the camera would be pointing. More, to have good enough quality to capture the number plate is an expense several times more than the benefit I perceive. What would work, I think, would be the equivalent to a camera on a cyclist's helmet, roughly capturing what your looking at – though I still doubt that the quality would be high enough for prosecution and I continue to think that the overhead of editing to the point where a police person could be bothered represents a commitment to community improvement far further than the gains so achieved.

Which, in turn, means that things have to get a whole lot worse before this worm will turn toward change.

Our local police have indicated quite clearly (and reasonably, from their viewpoint) that if you have video of an offence occurring, they'll try to pursue it. The implication is that without it, anything reported will likely be added to the list of known disturbances. Which is a bit like saying 'don't bother'. All of this points to a need for more automatic capture of information, implying a need for cameras everywhere, all taking pictures and all to be analysed by a bot until such time as a human points to a moment and requires another human to act in some way. That's a huge overhead for very little change. But, given the way in which people behave on the road only where they are aware that a camera is active, we can see that such a change is needed. 

Also, I'd say, for rules to be sensible. For instance, the flashing lights by a roadside school need to work on a Sunday, don't they? Similarly, the small town where we holidayed had a 20mph limit past a school, complete with speed camera – but, time after time, we missed the 20 sign and caught the 30 sign indicating that we'd just gone through something slower. No paint on the road; a sign (eventually found) easily hidden by parked vehicles, no obvious school – and in the school holidays. I have no complaint with there being a reduced speed limit (especially if the need is established); I have a big problem with being prosecuted for being unable to be aware of a change of rules. 


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