Sunday, 9 August 2015

Battle of the Gob Shites

On Saturday, August 8th, there is a march titled "The White Man March" as you can probably guess, from the title this is being organised by the Racist far right. They are promising 150 people, so rather a small march. I doubt it will happen now after they sent a threatening letter to Joe Anderson, the City Mayor see Neo-Nazi thugs threaten race riots in Liverpool if they're not allowed to march.
If the march does go ahead, then there will undoubtedly be a counter demonstration by the Anti Fascists League, which is for the most part the SWP. The SWP isn't that nice an organisation either, they'd quite happily end freedom of speech, and some will argue that is what they'll be trying to do on Saturday.
If I go down it will be to take photographs and document the entire thing, the one thing that is for sure is that there will be a very antagonistic atmosphere and lots of Police. I will probably wear steel toe caps, as there will also be police horses, who, whilst being staunchly non violent, do weight a tonne.
I don't have any time for the Marchers or the counter marchers. They remind me of people who play their music very loud, and are convinced they are doing everyone a favour, by letting them hear their tunes. Ideally, they'd be placed in either side of a semi detached, on a housing estate, full of semi detached with everyone hating their neighbours for playing their shite music and preventing their great music from being heard properly.
Unfortunately, they like to be in a semi, in the middle of a normal housing estate. They each believe that by making more and more noise they will attract more people to support their music.
Like so much of the crap in the world this is about gangs and the need people have to feel part of a group. "Look, I'm not alone" should be the subtitled on the placards of both sides. Society is full of little groups of people linked by some tenuous connection, who, when they all gather together can convince themselves they are not some minor clique. "Look, I'm at a Corbyn/SNP/LFC/AFL/Religious meeting and everyone agrees with me, which means the whole world agrees with me".
When more than 20 people, or 3 drunks, gather together they suddenly become deluded that they are the representatives of a majority in society and can miraculously solve all the world's problems. You'd think after several millennia of pissed people putting the world to rights, after a mug or two of badly fermented fruit, we as a species would have realised it is bollocks.
The truth, as revealed by Cleveland Brown is simple.

 It is a long hard struggle folks and no amount of protests or counter protests will improve tomorrow, if you are seriously in the fight for a better future, it is the lives of your great great great grandchildren who you should be fighting for.

Personally, I think we should cordon of two separate blocks on Wavertree Playing field and put the White Man marchers in one and the UAF in another and sell tickets to people to watch them.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Schroedingers Spacecraft

Pluto before New Horizons impact or not.
It is now about 2 hours after New Horizons  made its closest approach to Pluto or perhaps crashed into it, we have no way of knowing as the event happened more than 4 light hours away. Even if we had a telescopes big enough to pick out New Horizons the light from the event would not have arrived.
In reality it will not be until we receive the first past flyby communications that we will know whether or not the probe has survived and gathered data.
Currently New Horizons is both an impact crater on Pluto and a Successful space probe, but when, in the quantum sense will this superposition be resolved? When the first light hits Earth or when the first signal has arrived?

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Pluto dwarf planet, major star

On the 14th of July 2015 at 11:50 UTC New Horizons will fly by Pluto at an altitude of 7,800 miles. On July 14-15, 1965 Mariner 4 performed the first flyby of a planet, so it will be exactly 50 years. It is 50 years through which I have lived, I'm 5 years younger than the Space age, but 2 years older than planetary research.
Best picture of Pluto 4 July 2015
In that time Pluto's status has changed from Planet to Dwarf Planet, this has caused some upset to some people. In reality, when Pluto was first observed it was the press that decided it was a planet, astronomers new it was different but couldn't spell out why. When other objects similar to Pluto began to be found, starting with the romantically named  (15760) 1992 QB1 in 1992, it became clear that a new classification was needed or there was going to be a vast number of planets, currently there are over 1500 know Trans Neptunian Object and Pluto is more like the larger of these Eris, Makemake and Haumea than it is like the 8 planets.
In mid June the pictures from New Horizons exceeded the resolution of Hubble images, detail is now beginning to show and in 10 days Pluto will be ready for its close up.
When the mission set out it was to complete the set of planetary snapshots, but it appears now that Voyager 2 managed that in 1989. So this mission now represents a much more important milestone, not the end of one phase of discovery, but the start of a new one, a phase that will take many life times to complete, even if new faster than light travel is discovered. The TNOs cover a vast collection of objects including the Kuiper belt, scattered disk, and Oort cloud enough to make sure that we lose interest before getting to them all.
I had a look through the list of predictions of what might be found, I cannot comment on those but did notice one missing and that is a Flux Tube between Pluto & Charon, similar to the Io Flux tube, but far far weaker. I think it is possible only because the solar wind will be so light at that point that even a ghostly tube may exist. For it to exist Pluto must have a magnetic field and Charon an atmosphere. If there is one I want my name on it.
If you are alive on the 14th then you live at the beginning of a greater age of space exploration than any of your dead predecessors. Like the start of all the other ages it will be live on all sorts of media but you should make sure you gather with your friends and family so you can remember where you were when it started.
I know who I was with and where I was when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon and when Giotto passed by Halley's Comet  they are precious memories to me, if not the others present.

New Horizons Web Page.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Seconds out.

If I read one more joke about the leap second, then someone is going to die. In the days before twitter it took a good few weeks before every single possible joke on a fashionable topic had been exhausted. Now by the time you have read the first all possible versions of that joke have been tweeted, in every applicable language. A long twitter fad is one that lasts a month, a twitter fad that makes it past a week is geriatric.

Most marginal ideas can be created dissected and disposed of in a matter of hours, on the internet, with the exception of conspiracy theories, the more they are cut, the more they live, each slice creates a new scion which will itself be dissected and multiplied like all those that came before.

The shrapnel produced by this endless pounding is like an irritating dust that gets in the way of the view. It blocks up vents and creates friction in the bearings. It's no longer like a big rock that stands in the road that simply has to be bypassed it a long section of the road a cloying suffocating mess, which in some conditions becomes an impassable quagmire.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Things to Come

This the future for humanity, it is this or nothing.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Still ruled by princes

The UK may nominally be a monarchy and lots of other countries republics, but in reality the duties that the state assumes for itself and the duties that conservatives would like to limit a state too, are those of a medieval prince.
The first duty of a medieval prince was the defence of his lands, mainly from other medieval princes, to fight in the wars of his allies and those he owed fealty to.

Protecting them from his knights or from each other was a long way down the list, protecting them from disease and injury was even further down the list. In the case of disease, it doubtful they could actually have done anything.

The standing of a prince amongst his peers was judged by the his wealth, his victories in battle and the wealth of his knights.

Today, governments around the world will spend enormous amounts of treasure and blood to stop the likes of ISIS and Al Qaeda from killing its citizens, it will deprive its citizens of the basic freedom of privacy, deprive those from other countries of the freedom itself.

The most princely of states are the ones that actively eschew the hereditary principle, while their citizens are killed by disease, injury and their fellow citizens. The measure of a modern state should not be the prestige of its leaders.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

We need to talk about Warren

Sometime ago the leader of Liverpool City Council was Warren Bradley, a LibDem. He became leader when Mike "Jackanory" Storey had to resign of a breach of the code of conduct. Storey was at best anodyne, a primary school headmaster with all the charisma of a primary school headmaster. When Warren came along, I'd never heard of him, but it was quite clear he was only Storey's proxy.

Both Storey and Bradley achieved very little, the greatest achievement of Storey was securing the Capital of Culture year for Liverpool and that was about it. Very little happened in the city.

After a brief discussion with Bradley, it seems that he thinks of himself as badly done by and regards any mention of his conviction for a rather foolish bit of electoral fraud as abusive. Warren you weren't hard done by, you were just so far out of your league it was painful.

One of his statements that "educated people are seeing through Joe Anderson", would seem to imply, that as he doesn't like the guy, he sees himself as an educated man. Well, while I don't have any facts about his education, if he has one he has always hidden it well. He variously came over as some who hasn't got that much of an idea of what's going on, always slightly bemused or slightly drunk.

Like a lot of LibDems, he suffered from a lack of imagination and drive, whether you agree with Anderson or not, he has got something done, Warren and Co never did, they were obsessed with not annoying anyone, in the end they annoyed a lot of people. People will forgive mistakes, they are less forgiving of inaction. It is equally true that always answering the call "something must be done" with something is just as wrong.

Liverpool Council suffered from a paralysis that it didn't want to be in the same light as Militant, this led it to be non-confrontational and frankly cowardly, Warren is the personification of that. You can see in the local journals the anger that Joe Anderson has raised by simply doing things, some are outraged that he has not doing the things that they want, others are just annoyed that he is doing things at all. All of them are convinced they speak for the people of Liverpool, all of them ignore the fact that in the May election Joe's party increased its seats on the council.

Let get this right Joe is not a smooth political operator he is in fact a bit of a gobshite but so are his most voluble critics. Not least among them Warren. What most of the voices offer is a quick fix, just do what we want, have our  priorities and it will all be ok. What history teaches us is that this is wrong, you cannot have any real, permanent long term effect on society over night, this is a long hard slog where the reasonable ambition is to make things better for your great grandchildren. To believe you can do it quicker is vanity and a dangerous vanity.