Sunday, 11 February 2007

What Colour Blue Are You?

You Are Navy Blue
You're a true adventurer. You constantly find yourself drawn to new experiences, people, and places.Sometimes you feel quite scattered and bored. If something exciting isn't going on, you feel a bit lost.

What Colour Blue Are You?

Monday, 5 February 2007

Islam vs Schools

It's been an interesting few days first this then this. I find it interesting that in both of these cases Saudi influence is implicated.

Taj Hargey, Meco's chairman, said he was also willing to organise a campaign
among Muslims nationally to resist "this largely Saudi-driven campaign to make
the niqab a compulsory requirement for Muslim women".


He also alleges that when he complained to school chiefs about the content of
the curriculum and questioned whether it complied with British laws, he was
told: "This is not England. It is Saudi Arabia".

Naturally saudi Arabia being our wonderful ally in the "War Against Terror" (not to mention grateful arms costomer) is doing all it can to stem this flow of hatred spewing forth from its borders.


Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Mind your "Ps" and "Ks"

I see Lord "Cashpoint" Levy has been arested again. Of cource it is all too easy to gloat about NuLabours current difficulties, so I think I'll do just that.

What with first Ruth Tuner and now "Cashpoint" being arrested it seems the noose is tightening around number 10. I wonder how long before Tony gets that knok on the door, although I suspect it wont happen - not while he is still in office anyway - knowing his luk he could well get away scot free.

Personally nothing would bring me more pleasure than to see Tony dragged out of No 10 by the met.

Islamofascism/Regular Fascism

This is probably the first time I've heard DC express a strong stance on anything*. It is certainly a step in the right direction. The BBC video report on this is interesting, amongst other things it quotes the Conservatives as explicitly accusing the "moderate" Muslim Council of Britain of being equivalent to the BNP. Not that this is the first time that I've heard similar accusations of their being extremist, but never from one of the main parties.

This quote from the end of the BBC report is a bit mystifying

But invoking white racists in his argument some worry he will promote alienation
rather than integration.

Who worries about that and what the hell are they smoking! Seriously I cannot understand the objection to this. British Muslims obviously hate the BNP, Cameron is just saying that disagrees with them just as much he disagrees those who wish to impose sharia law on Britain. It seems a perfectly reasonable position to me.

*with the exception of climate change which all of the mainstream parties seem to broadly agree on.

Monday, 15 January 2007

Bank for the Wind

This weeks New Scientist is running a story about a improved method of storing electricity (you need a subscription to read the whole article) from wind or other transient renewable energy source. It uses flow batteries which store up electricity as chemical energy in the same way as conventional batteries, except that the electrolyte is drawn out and stored up in tanks. Charge flows across a membrane between two solutions however the membranes in previous batteries had been known to leak.
This [research] focused on one of the big weaknesses of these devices. The
membranes separating the two electrolytes allowed molecules of electrolyte to
leak across. As a result, each solution became increasingly contaminated with
the other, reducing the battery's output.
The type of battery featured in the article - at Kings Island Australia - gets around this by making both solutions with vanadium in different oxidation states.

Best of all, it didn't matter too much if a few vanadium
ions on one side of the membrane leaked across to the other: this slightly
discharged the battery, but after a recharge the electrolyte on each side was
as good as new...
....One of the key advantages of flow batteries is
their scalability. To increase peak power output you add more battery cells, but
the amount of energy they will store - and therefore the time they will operate
on a full charge - can be expanded almost indefinitely by building bigger tanks
and filling them with chemicals. The result is that the batteries can be used in
a wide range of roles, from 1-kilowatt-hour units (like a large automotive
battery, say), to power-station scales of hundreds of megawatt-hours.
Research into these batteries is continuing.
Vanadium sulphate solutions cannot be made very concentrated
so the energy stored in a given volume of vanadium flow batteries is about half
that of lead-acid batteries. This rules them out for applications where
compactness and low weight are at premium - electric cars being a prime example.
So Skyllas-Kazacos and her team
want to replace vanadium sulphate with vanadium bromide, which is more than
twice as soluble. She expects that research to be completed by 2008.
Also in new Scientist(these don't require subscribtion):

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Cameron is a True Tory

...apparently. So what to make of Cameron's claim to be a TruBlu rather than just BluLubour. Well he certainly has done little which convinces me of that so far, although it is possibly still early days yet. He has spent the last year sorting out the Tories image problem - lets face it he needed to - by bing nice and cuddly. If I were in his position I'd do it too, even if I did plan a more right-wing government. He hasn't specifically ruled out tax cuts on principle(see below), and I think it was right to focus attention on the working poor. True tory policies such as a flat tax(or tax cuts), workfare or independant and selective education would ultimatly help such people of cource. It's the working poor that are screwed most under socialism. The problem is convincing the public of this, Darfur Dave perhaps gives us on the right the best chance of winning these arguments. For the time being I think I'll give Dave the benifit of the dought and stick with the tories, but if I don't see somthing more right-wing over the cource of year two I may switch to UKIP.

He goes out of his way to deny that he would follow Labour's tax-and-spend
policies and holds out the prospect of possible tax cuts. "We are pledged to
share the proceeds of economic growth between public services and lower taxes,
thereby ensuring that over time the state takes a smaller share of national
wealth," Mr Cameron writes.

Perhaps there is more to Cameron than his "cuddly" image.

United Kingdom or Bust... least for NuLabour.

Grade Inflation

There is a rather interesting report in the Telegraph about the continuing rise in the numbers of pupils getting five A* - C grade GCSEs. It seems that when those five have to include both English and Maths the number drops considerably (from 82% to 16% in one case). This will not come as a surprise to many of you, indeed I've assumed for some time that much of the apparent grade inflation is down to higher proportions of pupils taking easier subjects (VGCSEs for instance). Not exclusively in GCSEs either, both A levels and degrees suffer from this. Of course it suits NuLabour not to challenge this, it makes it look as though their education policies are actually achieving something for the money that is poured into them.
The GCSE pass rate has increased each year since Labour came to power, from 45
per cent of pupils reaching the five or more benchmark in 1997 to 58 per cent
this year. The improvement has been cited as a key indicator of the success of
the Government's education reforms.

Schools which had been lauded for their improvement in previous years now drop
to the bottom of the table. The worst falls by 66 per cent from an 82 per cent
rate of achieving five or more GCSE passes at the top three grades (A* to C) to
just 16 per cent once the five passes have to include maths and

Overall the pass rate drops from 58 per cent achieving five A* to C
grade passes to 45 per cent once maths and English are included.

So the question has to be asked; if you take into account the increasing popularity of easy subjects (and the ability to do more of them) as well as the tendency for teaches to become more attuned to - and teach for - the exact grade requirements, does grade inflation disappear? Well maybe, the number of pupils gaining five A* - C GCSEs which include English, Maths, Science, and a foreign language hovered around the 28-30% mark pretty consistently from 1996-2005*. There was a small drop from 2005-2006 probably caused by the decline in language study.

It is certainly something to think about.

*figures taken from The Economist Dec 7th I would post a link but their archive requires subscription.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Lack Of Posting

Sorry about the lack of posting at the moment I have exams.

Titan's Lakes

It seems that Cassini has finally found unequivocal proof of those lakes on Titan.

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

...Fill The Cracks in with Judicial Granite...

The biggest story right now of course (what with most of the political classes holidaying with bee gees and so forth) is the execution of Saddam Hussein. In some ways it was a pity that it happened so soon, after all he was only ever tried for one of his many crimes. I wonder if the families of the other victims will truly feel a sense of closure - though the end result would be the same.

The decision to kill him of the first day of Eid is certainly questionable, I get the feeling that the authorities wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. It seems to me that they view him as a symbol of the old regime and by trying and executing him they hope to justify their own existence. Or maybe I'm being too cynical.

In any case the violence continues.

First Post

Originally I was going to start this blog on New Year's Day (I'd been thinking about it for some time and seemed like as good a moment as any) but I couldn't be bothered so I'm starting it now.