Sunday, 22 February 2015

A new dimension

This blog being what it is, I couldn't let this go without some kind of comment.

Google have rendered Merseyside in 3d. Well not quite all of it, but an awful lot of it. From Garston and Speke in South Liverpool, right up to Crosby. From pastoral Gayton, right down on the South West corner of Wirral, right across to the industrial estates of Knowsley and Kirby. Anywhere they've surveyed recently, which doesn't cover where I am now. No doubt it will soon enough.

The level of detail is remarkable, as is it's ability to render itself very quickly. Having a cooked PC and a fast internet connection no doubt helps. Must give it a try on my old laptop.

The generated landscape is both obviously artificial, and instantly recognisable to anyone familiar to the area.

We were wondering how they did it. It seems probable that they're using aerial photographs (presumably they've had drones or light aircraft going around for the last few months)

This means it doesn't do things that have underneaths very well. By way of example, here are two views of the three main football stadia...

First of all, Prenton Park.


Then Goodison Park


Then Anfield


All fine and dandy.

But here's how it looks from inside.

Prenton Park:


Goodison:


Anfield:



Not quite there is it? Just a squared off compromise using local colours.

Still, it's rather impressive to be able to see my local turf as an abstract 3 dimensional sandbox, where I can wander at will.

I've read that this is just the beginning, and Google will be rolling this out far more extensively in the future.




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Saturday, 14 February 2015

minds eye

Picture a terrorist.

What you see depends upon context of course. If you're over a certain age, and you live in the British Isles, or Spain, you might have in mind someone in paramilitary garb, planting nail bombs in the litterbins of London and Madrid.

But it's more likely that you pictured someone with a beard and a Koran.

This certainly is what you get when you do a google image search for "terrorist"

What brought this to mind was a post I read somewhere. The poster had arrived at a UK airport, and was dismayed to find the person manning the security checkpoint was a Muslim.

"I had an altercation with a bloke at Luton airport going through security who quite frankly looked like he could have been a member of Isis , why is it in England we employ people on security and passport control who look far more likely to be a terrorist than any normal person ??? ....anyway apparently I had committed the cardinal sin of having a re sealable plastic bag that was bigger than the dimension allowed.....had I wanted to blow up the plane however...looking at the state of him I am sure that would have been fine." 

Standard issue bigotry of course, but it did get me wondering.

Google images is a repository not just of image data but of cultural prejudice. The link above makes that very clear.

So what else could I look for?

Well how about "Rapist"?

The most obvious defining feature of a rapist is facial hair. Well, being male then having facial hair. A high proportion of black people in there too. Obviously, black males with facial hair should not be allowed to take jobs where they could end up alone with other people. Like Driving Instructor for example.

"Paedophile"?

Paedophiles are almost without exception male, white, middle aged, connected in some way to show business, and have odd hairstyles.

Women, such as "Gemma", "Lisa", "Sarah", "Tanya" etc. generally don't wear much in the way of clothing. They can also be found pouting provocatively while leaning forwards to show off their heaving bosoms to best effect.

Anyway, back to terrorism. It's surprisingly difficult to define. I found a good article about it here: http://people.howstuffworks.com/terrorism.htm

Well worth a read.

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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Vote Whigs!

Don't vote for those newfangled labour party splitters. You're just wasting your vote and ensuring the tories get in again.

- Paul, february 1902

Now where did I park my DeLorean?

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Mmmm. Dead babies for breakfast.

I remember once seeing an interview with Frank Zappa. I don't remember much about it except for a bit where he said something along the lines of

"When ever I see a sensational news item, I don't think, "Why is this happening". I think, "Why is this being reported now"

Anyway, a couple of bits of news caught my eye today.

Firstly, ITV news reported that The Green Party would allow people to join Al Qaeda or Islamic State.

http://www.itv.com/news/update/2015-01-25/green-government-would-let-people-join-is-or-al-qaida/

Secondly, The Independent reported that The Green Party would evict Her Maj, and put her in a council house.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/we-would-evict-queen-from-buckingham-palace-and-allocate-her-council-house-say-greens-10000370.html

Thirdly, a radical left wing party has just done, in the Greek National Elections, the equivalent of Respect taking most of New Labour's core vote.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30975437

Finally, a few days ago, the major broadcasters were forced (at least in part by David Cameron - I wonder who he thinks the greens will take votes from) to expand the leadership debates to include Greens and Welsh and Scottish nationalists.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/11363254/Broadcasters-try-to-call-Camerons-bluff-with-7-way-debates.html

Bren and I joined the Green party a week or so ago, although we haven't done anything apart from set up a direct debit for monthly subs, but it might be interesting to go to their next meeting and say hello. I've sat on my fat cynical disillusioned arse for too many years, and  from the above, it looks like they may make real inroads this year.

We'll see.

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Friday, 16 January 2015

The Great Squirrel Case Challenge of 2015.

John Michael Greer has announced a competition that will finally give my Great Idea the push it needs to make me the great saviour of The Whole Damn World.

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"I’m delighted to announce a new contest here on The Archdruid Report, the Great Squirrel Case Challenge of 2015. The goal is to come up with the most absurd new energy technology you can think of, and write either the giddily dishonest corporate press release or the absurdly sycophantic media article announcing it to the world. If you or a friend can Photoshop an image or two of your proposed nonsolution to the world’s energy needs, that’s all the better. Post your press release or media article on your blog if you have one; if you don’t, you can get one for free from Blogspot or Wordpress. Post a link to your piece in the comments section of this blog."
__________________________________________________________________________

This great idea has been buzzing around my head for a while now, so I'd like to thank the Archdruid for giving me the push I needed to share it with the world.

Like so many brilliant ideas, this is simple, cheap, and effective. It makes use of an inexhaustible resource, and could potentially supply humanity with all the energy it needs, indefinitely.

Here's the idea.

http://www.soilerosion.net/image/raindrop.jpg

Raindrops fall from hundreds or thousands of feet up in the atmosphere. In doing so, they transform those hundreds or thousands of feet of potential energy (obtained through the simple physical reaction of evaporation and condensation) into kinetic energy.

That's free energy, right there. Thousands of tonnes of water, sucked up into the sky by the laws of physics. No fossil fuel inputs required. You see a depressing layer of nimbostratus. I see trillions of potential milliwatts adding up world wide to an energy source that will transform our world.

  • It's carbon neutral
  • As global warming evaporates more water, it will become more and more effective
  • By taking energy from the ecosphere, it may actually help to offset the effects of anthropogenic climate change.
  • It's non-polluting
  • You can drink the waste byproducts
  • It works whenever solar energy doesn't!
I'd like to do a bit of maths here. I'm not a mathematician, but we can work out the precise details when I get the research grant and hire some people who can do that kind of stuff.

The terminal velocity of a raindrop varies between 4.5 and 25 miles per hour, depending upon size [1]. Rain  hits the ground hard. Hard enough to wash away mountains. And let's not even talk about hailstones.

How much do raindrops weigh? the smallest mass of a raindrop produced during a drizzle is 0.004 mg and the largest produced during a heavy storm is 300 mg. [2]

So how much energy is produced by a raindrop impacting upon the earth?

Not much.

But.

There are lots of them. Hundreds.  Thousands. Hundreds of thousands. And lots of small numbers add up to much bigger numbers.

So how, you ask, do we turn this into useful energy?

The answer is piezo quartz technology.

This is a proven, cheap technology that requires no exotic or rare inputs to produce. They can even be made of wood [3].They work by producing electricity when deformed. If made thin enough, a raindrop, hitting at the speed of an olympic runner, would be enough to create a small charge. The very necessity of making these things thin would mean that less materials were required to produce them.

An array of such crystals would generate a charge that could then be either used locally, or fed into a larger grid.

Think about it! This is something that can be incorporated almost anywhere. They can be formed into a coating for roof slates, or road surfacing (surge of added energy produced by every passing vehicle).

They could be visually unintrusive, so that they would not generate the sort of backlash from the kind of people that object to solar arrays or wind turbines.

Because they can be made from relatively abundant materials, they can be produced locally, cutting down on the energy costs of production and distribution, and their manufacture, installation and maintainance would create jobs anywhere that gets any substantial rainfall.

Convinced yet?

Well as one final point, let me put this idea your way.

Where are the most energy intensive places on Earth? The Sahara? Antarctica? Nope. They're generally in places where you get a lot of rain. Great Britain and Western Europe. The Eastern Seaboard of the United States. China and Japan. None of these places are renowned for their vast dessicated deserts. They're all temperate or subtropical areas that have, close at hand, vast quantities of this criminally underutilised resource.

Harness the power of the falling rain! Turn a wet blanket into an electric blanket!

One last word.

VAPOURWARE!

Literally.

1. http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2007/EvanKaplan.shtml
2. http://hypertextbook.com/facts/1999/MichaelKodransky.shtml
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piezoelectricity

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