Friday, 29 May 2020

Journalism v Onanism

News' journalists are getting quite a hard time at the moment and at the top, they do a vital job or should do of holding the powerful to account but that only covers a small percentage of the trade. Below the national organisations like the BBC, CNN and the broadsheet papers we have the greatest mass of journalists working from the Tabloids downward including free news, local papers right down to press release republishers.
Some of the local papers may hold the odd councillor or cop to justice once in a while but their stock in trade is a crime, the more sordid the better, and local scandal, all coloured by a village jingoism. When a local gangster is shot they are a businessman when some low life dies in a gang on gang warfare they are lovely people who loved their mother and everyone got on with and had an infectious smile.
When it comes to the truth then it what they can print without being sued that passes for the truth, this is to some extent true of bigger papers but they are tackling bigger prey which often has access to my learned and very expensive friends. The further down you go the less supervision and the less likely to have access to courts or lawyers demanding a right of reply.
In short, they play to their audience which over the years has retreated to D & E social grade, you find spurious claims of things invented locally or specialities and for a promo, it will not be half price Beaujolais nouveau but Tennets or perhaps Stella. Down here is not the glamours side of journalism but it is by no means the bottom of the barrel.
Down at the bottom are the people who republish press releases with the most minor of changes and if your lucky some checks for accuracy. These are common in a lot of fields often staff by journalists forced out of the marginally more respectable press by the cost-cutting brought about by the likes of Google. The thing that determines publication here is not the fear of libel but they fear of copyright.
The one thing that is most obvious about this transition is as you move further down the more the journalists think of themselves as Woodward or Bernstein, quite often both with a bit of Paul Foot thrown in.
Even at the national level, there are problems, you can watch Piers Morgan defending journalists left,  right and centre, this is a man sacked for faking stories. The prime minister is still considered a journalist after being sacked at least 3 times according to the Independent.
That those 2 could still get jobs as journalists, tells us something about the trade and integrity if journalists want to be take as they want to and act as seriously as we need them to then they need to start being disassociating themselves from the likes of Piers and go.
If a journalist asks you "Are you guilty" do not answer "I am not" because is some papers they will happily truncate it and use the partial quote as justification. Journalists need to be talked to in the same way a solicitor advises people to talk to the police or the way Dominic Cummings reads out statements to journalists.
Journalists if you want to do your job sort out your own house.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Raspberry PI Hat CAD files

I needed to design a Raspberry PI hat and after looking around it appears there are no official releases. What I've done is take the DXF file for the PI 3 board and moved one edge. The position of the mounts and the connector is from the original. I've uploaded blanks to get hub as PIHat if anyone needs them.

If you want to improve them let me know and I'll make the git hup accessible to you.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Extinction Rebellion's biggest mistake

One of the cries of extinction rebellion has been "Listen to the scientists" but they only want to listen to the diagnosis, when it comes to a cure it does not listen to the scientists. See Jet fuel from thin air: Aviation's hope or hype? 
The solution they offer is the same one that has been offered to every generation by some group or other a return to nature, the solution never varies only the problem changes. It is the same snake oil elixir that been offered by The Romantic Movement, the Hippys, Arts and Crafts movement, Conservatives the world over etc etc

One general law of physics is that if you have enough energy you can do just about anything. We have several potential sources of no carbon energy the environment and nuclear fission with a third nuclear fusion under development. The first part of any solution is going to be based on large amounts of power generation, via these sources, we can start building them now, start developing more systems and move first to more electrically based power.
There are of problems with the energy capacity of battery storage. Highlight by this graphic.
You see that battery storage is down at the bottom left, this is not a good place to be it means that to store the energy for a long journey or with a heavy load you need a lot of space and mass for the batteries.
Hydrogen, by comparison, is very good at storing energy in terms of mass but very bad in terms of volume only liquid hydrogen beats batteries in volume per joule and is way behind diesel, etc. For an aircraft, this creates a problem you have to have big tanks which either add drag or eat into internal space. Liquid hydrogen is also very cold so cold it can freeze liquid oxygen. Liquid methane which can be made from hydrogen via the Sabatier process is not as mass efficient as hydrogen but is better in terms of volume and temperature, both these fuels were tested in the 1980s by the Soviet Union on the Tu-155 and were successful.
We can extract hydrogen from water by electrolysis it is also produced as a by-product of some chemical reactions, it, of course, takes electricity to perform electrolysis. Hydrogen from sunlight is a relatively new technology that can avoid the electrical stage and shows promise of being more efficient than electrolysis from electricity generated by photovoltaics.
To make Methane from hydrogen, via the Sabatier process,  you can use CO2 captured from the atmosphere but it takes energy to both captures the carbon and to convert it. You can also turn that methane into jet fuel or diesel via the Fischer–Tropsch process. The first was discovered in 1897 the later in the 1920s. Fuel advertised as GTL Fuel ultra-low sulphur diesel such as Shell's GTL is made by the Fischer–Tropsch process suggesting that most of the energy cost is in making the methane, as GTL fuel is readily available.
We could simply capture the carbon as CO2 and pump it underground and take the equivalent amount of natural gas. This would make sense if the energy used to capture and convert the CO2 is greater than the cost of extracting and cleaning the natural gas. To improve the levels of CO2 you might be required to pump more CO2 into the ground than extracted as natural gas.
Rather than go through the Sabatier process, the mixture could be made into syngas for the manufacture of plastics. While there are concerns about single-use plastic items, large amounts of plastic are used in items which benefit from the longevity of plastics. Making plastic from atmospheric carbon will lock that carbon up in the insulation of wires, window frames, and household appliances. It can be recycled via thermal depolymerization but that is another subject.
Crude oil is very complex and contains many chemicals which are used in a wide variety of ways which do not add to global warming but if the switch is made to using atmospheric carbon to make some of this product it might still be sensible to extract some crude oil for the more complex ones, but if atmospheric carbon is pumped underground to replace the fossil carbon at a 1:1 rate this would end up reducing atmospheric carbon as a percentage of the carbon from the oil will never enter the atmosphere. Mandating that a greater amount of carbon is pumped into the ground will ensure faster carbon reduction.
Even where the technology exists to replace hydrocarbons with batteries we would have to build a lot of new infrastructures and retire others before its expiry date. The synthetic fuels burn cleaner than fossil fuel, every litre stored in the supply system is carbon locked up. Replacing that infrastructure has a carbon cost attached to it as the replacement will likely use fossil source energy in the manufacture. It makes sense to consider a move to synthetic fuels and only replace old infrastructure when it is either time expired as that will use the least energy.

Southern Ocean

The transmission of electricity at the moment and likely forever requires cables and with the cables, unless there superconducting comes losses, this renders some parts of the planet that are rich in environmental energy unexploitable. In the case of the southern ocean, the cables would have to also pass at extreme depth. One possible way of getting around this is to capture the energy via tidal, wave and wind power and convert it into synthetic fuel in situ either on the islands in that ocean or in floating mother ships of a size similar to Prelude FLNG. This could process the electricity into synthetic fuel that can be moved around to were it is needed.
Bar the last idea the import things is electricity generation the first thing that any government interested in reducing climate change should do is invest in electricity product from clean system not just enough to meet current needs but an amount that looks like oversupply then as the other technologies improve we can focus on using that supply to reduce atmospheric carbon by any means possible. Changing the way we live will not solve the problem, biofuels unless made from the waste product will only make the problem worse.

Third best

Some might say this is not the best solution to them I say

If you don't know who Robert Watson-Watt was then you should. The situation and threat we face are worse than the ones he did, the need for a solution is greater.

Stop Press 2013

I have been informed of the existence of this paper, from 2013. Since then Direct Carbon Capture has come a long way.

Friday, 11 January 2019

A Phoenix from the ashes on Upper Parliament street.

For a bit of background see this blog from over 18 months ago.
It has been reborn as 18F/3306 Land on Upper Parliament St between Mulgrave St and Kingsley Rd SchoolL8 by the same developer.
The height of the buildings has been reduced by 1 story and there slight fewer flats. Various paths have been reduced to allow more green space and the street plant is up so maintaining the number of trees. A break in the building provides a path through the development address the concerns of the residents.
The objections raised seem to have been dealt with 1 by 1 making it very difficult to raise new objections but I'm sure this will happen a debate on the subject is already going on here amongst those likely to support the development.
I prefer the old development but will happily support this. I attended the planning meeting and the developers have addressed all the planning concerns, I doubt it will stop those with the more bizarre or unreasonable objections trying to stop.
Hopefully, the rebirth of Upper Parliament street as a proper thoroughfare is underway.

Update. The new application if before the planning committee on the 18th of June 2019. See Land on Upper Parliament St between Mulgrave St and Kingsley Rd SchoolL8 


This was passed on the 18 June.

Renders from the developer's application.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Dictatorship of the proletariat

The dictatorship of the proletariat is not the same as the dictatorship of an individual prole but a lot seem to think it is. There is an argument that when some development or other does not suit some of the locals then it cannot be supported by socialists. Only capitalists would spoil your view, only capitalists would develop on the bit of land near you.  For some sections of society, who believe themselves to the archetype working class, then anything which happens that is not what they want, cannot be socialists, after all as members of the working class they are in control.
If you think you genuinely socialist society will not do things that you do not like you are delusional. The principle of socialism is the greatest good for the greatest number. If, by whatever mechanism, it is decided that more housing is needed and that bit of land by you, is a good spot for it, then as a good socialist you have to consider the value of this argument and acquiesce if the building is needed. In today mixed society, simply not liking the people doing the building is not an argument against that building being done.
In a socialist society, it is just as likely to be your neighbourhood plot of land that is developed as it is under capitalism, socialism is not a justification for NIMBYism. NIMBYism is a conservative trait, a selfish trait, if you are prosocial housing, you cannot be anti it being next to you.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Why do these people hate Liverpool

Popped along to the planning committee to see how a development I supported was going to fair, it is a couple of hundred yards from my flat. It is a great candidate for development, all of Liverpool would benefit from the improvement it would make to the approach down Parliament street.
It was rejected.
One of the opponents of the project was sitting in front of me and was at one point nearly ejected herself for her shouts of "rampant gentrification" and "it because we are ruled by white male patriarchy", and they were the quality arguments against. The Councillors of this city have stopped standing up to the ignorant baying mob and have become its vassals.
They complained about how little green space there was in the area, this despite the map behind showing Crown Street park, Falkner square and the corner of Prince's park.
Tony Conception was one who voted against, I said "congratulation another victory for incoherent gibberish" as I passed him on the way to the toilet.

The councillors of this city have a lot to answer for in destroying what is good and at the same time preserving what is not. They are, by and large, craven cowards incapable of putting the city and its population as a whole above the unfounded fears of a bunch of NIMBY Luddites, who now have a new collection of slogans to shout out, regardless of context or meaning. A similar thing happened with a Kirkdale development.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England also got involved, no explanation from them as to why they have moved from protecting the rural to protecting inner-city brownfield sites.
The barbarians are not just at the gate, they are on the planning committee.
See Skyscraper City for more background.


22/01/2018: After 2 weeks of trying to get an explanation out of the CPRE there has been no significant reply, no explanation for their actions.


11/01/2018: An updated application by the same developer has been put in see here.

It was approved.

The development

Some historic pictures of the area

The Junction Upper Parliament Street, Embledon Street, Toxteth, L.8 - 1955 Slightly further up than the proposed site.

Even in the early 70s, the south side of the street was intact large buildings similar to the ones that exist further down the hill. from A sense of place.
Upper Parliament Street with Bloom Street, where the Hospital is now.

and in Upper Parliament st at Bloom st in 1968
Same corner from Montpellier Terrace 1960s. note the background houses on the right.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

James Street

One advantage of the strike is you can get a good look at Platform 2 at James Street.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Kirkdale impasse

Kirkdale sits to the north of Liverpool city centre, it stretches all the way from Leeds street to the border with Sefton and from the River to Scotland Road & Walton Vale. It used to be a densely packed area and was often described as having "great community spirit" but that also went with "great sectarian violence".
Kirkdale centered on the site of application 17F/0587


It was an area with great pockets of the deepest poverty, the earliest records of my paternal grandfather's family have all 7 of them living in a cellar on Limekiln Lane. Each floor of the house would be rented out to different families, I believe it was the English who got the ground floor and the Scots the upper, though it may be the other way around, whichever way it was the English got the best floor. Oh, and by floor, this could be a single room and the stairs would be a ladder.
My earliest memories of the area date from the early 70s getting a bus through the area it was a bit run down but largely intact. The main roads were lined the entire length by buildings mostly terraces with shops on the ground floor and the occasional ornate pub.
Towards the end of the 70s when my family got a car I can remember going along Vauxhall and I swear I remember the heat when driving past the Tate and Lyle refinery. Further, at around Marybone, there was a petrol station but under a set of offices.


Drive down either Scotland Road or Stanley Road and then you are in for a grim journey, what was once an entirely built-up area of terraces both great and small, is now a patchwork of derelict land, grassed over with the odd tree and interspersed with the corpses of roads that ran through it. The residential part used to be to the east of Vauxhall Road to the west of the was industrial and the docks, most of the industry is gone as is the housing to the east. In place of the Tate and Lyle factory has sprung up the Eldonian Village a scab of semi-detached suburbia, taking what should be prime sites for offices or industry.
You'll often hear complaints that areas like Kirkdale do not have the same services as other parts of the city, often accompanied by comments that they have lost various ones. It is true they have but the services that were in the area were there to serve a large community both residential and industrial. When the infrastructure needs replacing or cuts need to be made, Kirkdale's reduced population meant that it didn't have a large enough population to justify the services. So whether they be council or private businesses they either closed down or moved out. If you want them back then you need a bigger population and that will not happen with bungalows and semi-detached houses.


Looking north

A recent planning application 17F/0587 has caused a lot of debate, one organisation, whose HQ is opposite the proposed site, it is to the left of the above image, put up the following tweet.
It uses some interesting phrases "absent landlord", I'll assume this is shorthand for "Absentee landlord", this in a derogatory sense applied to 2 groups, one is landlords who rent out their property but do not ensure the maintenance of the property, they are absent from the life of the property, not simply absent from the local area. The other is to do with the large holdings in Ireland granted during the plantation of Ireland to English landlords who simply rented out the entire holding and still resided in England and simply took the wealth out of Ireland and spent it in England.
The term is not really applicable in either sense here as the owners of these properties have to release them on a regular basis if they fall into disappear people will go elsewhere. It also unclear how they are irresponsible.
The other claim is that they are putting "profit before people", this kind of phrase was often used when dangerous working practices cause harm to employees or to the surrounding people. It is not entirely clear which people are being harmed by this building. Sure some do not want the building but that doesn't really constitute meaningful harm especially when the site being taken is far from unique.
Apparently "Kirkdale is an inclusive community" this quite clearly questionable as one of the things that have come up is that the locals want to control who comes into their area when that was suggested it garnered at least one like.
Students seem to attract a particular ire, it is interesting to ask why someone who had ambitions for their children who wanted them to get an education and get on would look at their children and see potential students but in this area, they seem almost a different species something that is nothing to do with them.
While I haven't seen it mentioned in this context yet, gentrification seems to be one of the fears of the community. Gentrification, where is it bad, is where it forces out those already resident in an area, it would take a lot of building in the Kirkdale ward before there was any chance of the locals being pushed out. The only building in Kirkdale at the moment could never be described as gentrification it simple regeneration of derelict land.
"real people" was another term used this is a worrying phrase at it suggests there are some non-real people, people who are in someone way fake or fraudulent and don't require being treated like "real people" it is a horrible phrase which covers up all sorts of bigotries and hatred. It is a phrase that UKIP & the EDL like to use when differentiating their knuckle-dragging followers from those they see as "the urban elite". Controlling who moves into your area is not usually something associated with inclusive communities.
One of the other phrases used as criticism was "multi-storey" anything over a bungalow is "multi-storey", in this case, the proposed development is the same height as the surrounding buildings, though being flat-roofed it fits in one more habitable floor but, this makes it the dread "multi-storey". The phrase is used to conjure up images of the 15 storey buildings that were badly built in the 1960s, some were awful but a lot were simply trashed by the locals.
What are the elected representatives of the area doing to illustrate the contradictions in what the residents have said they want, well it seems nothing. Instead, they seem intent on blocking development and possibly incurring extra expenses for the council. The recent blocking of application 17F/0441, a modest affair on Scotland road was blocked against the advice of the Planning Dept on what seems spurious ground, any appeal outside the council will all most certainly to succeed but will, of course, cost everyone involve cash, but it will allow the councillors to say look at what we did. In the case of 17F/0441, no locals registered objections with the council.


Some have suggested the site should be a Village Green, this is a bit of problem as Kirkdale is not a village but I think it gives an insight into the mind of some of the protestors, they want a return to the rural life in Cranford et al. but of course those are fictional sugar-coated idealisations, which never existed. While it might be difficult for us to understand today but the reason people moved to the horrors of Victorian Cities from the countryside was that life was actually better in the cities. Even today being poor in the countryside is probably worse than in the city, as everything is more expensive or far further away and the transport is very bad. What cities have is not village greens but squares like Abercromby Square and Falkner Square with gardens at the heart of them.

The future

This entire episode looks like a massive combination of childishness, NIMBYism all tied up with inverse snobbery. Individuals have conflicting ambitions and like children will not give up any but simply insist they should get there way. There is an unhealthy chunk of small-minded isolationism when it comes to people who might possibly be from a different socio-economic group. There is a complete lack of leadership from elected representatives, who know that their best chance of keeping votes is just to play along as they think the locals can be fobbed off with blaming others when their plans trip each other up.
It is pretty appalling and is not good for the city, the residents of Kirkdale want their own "managed decline" well if they want to live in the suburbs or the countryside perhaps they should go and live there. Kirkdale's location within the city determines what its inner-city nature should be, that is what made it what it was and defines what it needs to be, the city as a whole will have to decide to end the selfish NIMBY attitude surrounding the area for good and have to expose the self-serving attitude of those who seek to be community leaders exposed.
The community is a fractious one the Eldonian Village Hall was burnt down in an arson attack, I do not think anyone was prosecuted but the suspicion was that it was connected to some internecine rivalries. Who knows how many people are for or against this development, it is only the loudest voices the can be heard and they seem to hail from a far wider area than just Kirkdale.


This application was turned down today.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Grenfell Tower

This disaster comes in 2 parts, the first is the neglect of the Council, the bad workmanship of the internal upgraded, the second is the failure of building regulation to specify safe forms of cladding. The first part the responsibility falls primarily to the council, it is responsible for making sure that fire regulations and building laws are observed and it has a duty of care to it residents. Some of this may eventually trickle down to the government for cuts but the bulk stops at the council.
The second part, the cladding, which seems to have greatly magnified the initial event, responsibility falls squarely on government, and not just this government, every government back to the late 1980s when problems with cladding first became apparent.
Rightly or wrongly building regs have become the safety standards that people work too, projects that exceed building regs are looked on as being wasteful. This is a case of practice going beyond regulation and it has been a problem before. Events like the Summerland disaster, Manchester Airport disaster and many more are cases were regulation was needed and was known to be needed but the government could not be bothered because it had more important, in its humble opinion, things to do. This report from 2016 details the history some of the recent history: Fire Risks From External Cladding Panels – A Perspective From The UK.
The only real way to deal with this is an independent body which sets regulation as and when it sees fit, supervised by a court, where involved or learned parties can ask the court to order the body to either make or remove requirements based on learned testimony. I can see no way in which politicians can ever be the prime moves in this, boring safety regs do not score browny points, each politician plays to their own audience and its favourite subjects, they will always come first.
While it may be good to have a go at the current party in government this problem has been brewing for many parliaments, but parliament likes to keep things to itself and giving the power of secondary legislation to another organisation would hurt.
Oh, and as Jeremy Corbyn's bill to make rented properties fit for human habitation, would not have had any effect on this disaster, as there was no mechanism by which bad cladding could be deemed to make it unfit.
This kind of regulation is the boring, unsexy stuff which MPs cannot be bothered with until it is too late. So kindly all of the Politicos and their followers, get off your high horses this is a failure of you all to get down and actually handle the boring stuff and learn to cope with the world where things move on without needing your approval. You all failed left and right.

The dangers of external cladding fires in multi-storey buildings
External Fire Spread – The testing of building cladding systems

Friday, 26 May 2017

Exceptionalism is Unexceptional

Exceptionalism is a word often linked with America, in the phrase American Exceptionalism, the belief held by some Americans that the USA is a special country for some reason, whether it is manifest destiny or some rubbish based on the King James Bible. The one thing that is not Exceptional about American Exceptionalism is that it is not exceptional. Every country I can think of, or people or tribe has some belief that in some way their grouping is exceptional, because of some unique accident of history.
The exceptionalism comes in 2 forms the exceptional good, "we" brought, light/democracy/peace/rule of law to the world or the exceptionally bad. "We" brought death/famine/despair to the world.
They sit in the same category as religious belief, god created the world for us to live in, we are special not animals. You see bits of it in all sorts of places, making us better or worse than animals. In SciFi we are either the great bringers of enlightenment or a plague on the galaxy. To the rational mind we are a boring unexceptional species in the galaxy and at home we just as boring and unexceptional as any other creature, and similarly so our countries.
Whether it the "we are great" rhetoric of the Nationalists or the "we are terrible" of the Alt-Nationalists they both seek to make us, who ever we are special, and it is really sad. In the UK we have UKIP at one end and say stop the ware at the other. I'll let you decided which is which.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Mind of the Corbynite

I've seen a few comments from hardcore Corbynites of the form "X was ranting about Corbyn on the telly, I asked them who they where voting for, they said Labour. You have to laugh".
It is rather disturbing comment, what do they find funny, is it they they think that behind at he slagging of of Corbyn, X really agrees with him but cannot bear to say it or is it a laugh at X who had the party the voted for stolen from them, yet they still cannot break the habits of a life time and so are playing into the Corbynites hands? Neither is good, there are a few other possible explanation but neither show they Corbynites in a good light.
After this election Corbyn et all, will be claiming that every vote for Labour was a vote for Corbyn, let us not forget these knowing comments from the Corbynites when they make these claims, while standing around in the ashes trying to blame everyone else but themselves.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Wall of rubbish

The latest generation of high speed missiles seem to be worrying some in the Navy, namely the Zircon,  given the need for a quickish response here is a solution using equipment that is either all ready on board or can be fitted quickly, and there is nothing exotic about it.
One of the weak points on naval system at the moment is how to engage something with is not line of sight but is close in, say shielded by a small island or another ship. If it is a long way away then a missile or shell can just be fired over the top, but close in you might not be able to get the gun high enough to fire via a high trajectory, and given the high velocity of the round it will be a while before it comes down. Missiles are expensive and still difficult to get to something which is close into say a cliff on the far side of an island.
In a lot of these cases a mortar would be ideal, especially with smart shells, the question is could a mortar be used against a fast missile, say Mach 6. Well given the right round and enough warning yes. If I was in a ship under attack by a Mach 6 missile I would want every possible system used to defeat that threat and want them all at the same time, I don't want to try 1, then have a think and try another. So if an missile is detected in bound then all possible system should engage. It's impossible to make a Mach 6 missile stealthy, its nose and any leading edges will literately be glowing a dull read with heat from the friction and the shock waves will show up on radar.
So I'll assume all the normally anti air weapons are being readied from missiles to guns that are in a position to lay down flak and they are all being coordinated via a battle network such as the Cooperative Engagement Capability system of the US Navy
Some ships in the fleet may be blocked by others from direct fire. Unless they have mortars which can be used to add to the flak clouds. The also may have an advantage of artillery flak, when it comes to sea skimming missiles. The shells will be coming in vertically, if they are fitted with an annular blast fragmentation warhead, then rather than have to fly through the thin disk, the missile would have to fly along a chord of the disk. Coordinating this with Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact along the path would create clouds of shrapnel which would play hell with an air breathing missile. Ships at greater distance could add to the flak cloud with artillery.
Assuming you can only defeat speed with speed is wrong, the important thing is time, if you have AEW, whether from a drone and a Merlin, then you might have enough time. Which reminds me does Crowsnest have an IR seeker?
The type of weapon needed would be some form of combination of 2B9 Vasilek

Tuesday, 21 March 2017


Corbynites and Momentum can go on about policy till there blue in the face, they still miss the point that the electorate hates Corbyn, no matter how many quite sensible socially progressive policies they put forward looming large over them will be Corbyn and his ilk.
What the voters see with Corbyn is a pathetic whiney little man who could not organise a piss up in a vegan brewery.  He is also a charisma black hole, with no hint of leadership ability, that no one outside of his cliche can imagine as PM, he would be as out of place as PM as Trump is as President.

Let me list the problems.


This as far as the general population is concerned is a weakness, if you have views and beliefs then you should be prepared to fight for them, as a private set of views very few will see them as a major fault however when it comes to a Prime minister, then it is a disbar. If through some accident or misfortune you end up a hostage of some warlord or tyrant in the middle of nowhere, then you don't want to find that the PM has moral objections to sending in a bunch of highly trained heavies to get you out. If someone wants to sign a note and opt-out of any use of violence to rescue them, then fine.


For all its failing western civilisation has achieved a lot, you might think the poor are hard done by but there is no one who would find their standard of living or life expectancy any better 100 years ago but Corbyn reeks of disdain for the west.


While he may have been correct about the mess of the Iraq war, we don't know for certain that through some unforeseen set of circumstances it might have been worse if the war had not happened. Corbyn's objects to the war were not based on the specific set of circumstances of the war it was part of a blanket objection, which given that others are prepared to start wars, is not a vote winner.


The first year of his leadership was a mess and it hasn't got much better. With the Virgin trains stunt, only a moron could have made such a hash of it. He and his team seem incapable of understanding that if you attack anyone, justified or not, they will defend themselves. This inability to see that others will look after their own self-interest rather than just roll over is something Corbyn shares with the brexiteers and the likes of Farage. The empty-headed love some Kippers have for Farage is mirrored in the Corbynites love of JC.


His performance in the Brexit campaign was abysmal. His decisions to impose a 3 line whip to support the government line was bad, but to make it even worse he, later on, managed to condemn the everything that 3 line whip had been put in place to support. His varying position looks very much like political expedience on a moment by moment basis, as if by support a point of view half the time and opposing it the other half of the time will result in him being supported by both sides, it will not it will end up with the support of none.


The constant slagging off of Tony Blair and the Blairites is very counter productive but it is about the only thing that unites the Corbynites, but even if Blair had only achieved 1 thing it would be more than Corbyn has achieved, he has been a disloyal back bencher for years and Blair achieved more for the poor the Corbyn ever has or will, see.


Corbyn hold the record for the most votes against the Labour leadership, that he and has supporters go on so much about the disloyalty of others is just pathetic hypocrisy and obviously so, watching his supporters twist and turn as they try to defend the abuse heaped on those who do not follow "the leaders" will is galling.


The biggest area of liability is his supporters, they are just appalling in general. The more they behave like themselves the more they make him unelectable.The average Labour voter is appalled by them but the Corbynites are only interested in themselves, they have no idea whose votes put Labour in power and whose votes lost Labour power.

Len McCluskey


Monday, 20 March 2017

Cheer leader

Someone has accused me of being the cheerleader for mediocre architecture in Liverpool. IMHO nothing could be further from the truth. It may seem, to some, that by not condemning the new buildings provided they are adequate, that I'm setting the bar far too low. However, on a lot of the sites that are being developed the bar is currently several feet below the ground and any improvement is to be welcomed.
From just before WW2 until very recently Liverpool was certainly on the back foot economically and hence in terms of its architecture, the fine examples were allowed to rot until they were in danger of falling down, and others were swept away in an attempt to modernise to get back on the development path by correcting what were seen as infrastructure failings. In reality, this did very little. Liverpool's decline was a product of 2 factors, firstly the decline in the British Empire, this removed the stranglehold British manufacturing had on the former colonies and simply British industry protected behind imperial trade barriers could not cope, the colonies bought from other places with world class products. This decline led to both a decrease in imports and exports, from the north and midlands, the source of a lot of Liverpool's trade.  Secondly, technology led to increased concentration of management etc in London, previously you had needed a Liverpool office to handle the day to day running of any business with an interest here, but gradually the increase in telecommunications reduced the need when head office was only a phone call, fax or email away. Coupled with changes in maritime technology, bigger boats and containerisation.
One way or another Liverpool suffered people moved out of the city centre to the suburbs and new town around. When housing redevelopment happened, first high-density tower blocks were built, each one the same, destroying large areas, some of which needed to go others need to be restored. Then the tenements went, Gerrard gardens, Kent gardens etc, again some needed to go. Then the tower blocks went, replaced with out of place semi detached. Reducing once lively and bustling areas near the city centre to misplaced suburbs.
Businesses in the city centred pottered along but the to Let signs were becoming more numerous and the derelict buildings more common. There were some attempts at speculative buildings, some of which went wrong. The site of Peters Building has been empty since the mid-70s after a scheme to develop the site went bust before the new build was started. The area around Hackins Hey suffered a similar fate and lies mostly empty now. Opportunities missed and mistakes were made by the beginning of the 90s things had bottomed out. The UK as a whole and especially the south-east had gone through several economic booms followed by recessions, Liverpool had only had the recessions.
Things began to look up in the 2000s, perhaps because they could get much worse, and at least when the 2008 crash came, we were at least in the same boat as everyone else, for the first time in a long time, but town was horribly pock marked with car parks and ruined buildings, but sprouting amongst them this time were cranes, perhaps more cranes that have been in Liverpool since WW2. They were beginning to fill in some of the spaces, cover some of the blight. What they were building wasn't always welcomed but it was clean and tidy and spoke of new life. It wasn't the highest level of architecture but it was functional.
If you turn up at a job interview wearing a cheap but presentable suit all spit and polish and with a willingness and enthusiasm, then you will be in with a chance. Get it right and the next time you have to go looking for a job it can be an Armani suit. Liverpool's new buildings are that cheap suit, they are the foot in the door, in 10 or 20 years time if Liverpool's on the up, developers will be willing to disregard these buildings and replace them with better and bigger with the same alacrity we would dispose of the cheap suit.
If we insist on not doing any interviews until we have a good suit then we are likely to be out of work for a long time, in the end, the quickest way to an Armani suit is via an M&S special.
In the process of putting up these buildings, there is also the buzz of industry and progress, something which adds to the attraction of the place. People may not like the stag nights and hen parties roaming town of a weekend but not only do they provide employment, they also show that the young do not share the views of Liverpool gained from Brookside, Bread & Militant. The bigotry and closed minded attitude towards Liverpool can hopefully be a thing of the past and help, every good night in Liverpool, every good student experience is one more positive attitude to Liverpool, even if they never come back they only have to say they had a good time a few times to make it worthwhile.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Long and Winding Road

For several years now I have been pushing out various ideas for extension of various rail networks, mostly Liverpool's Merseyrail, all of which have managed to attract zero attention, in the local press, unlike some others. Despite there being a lot of similarity in the plans and mine coming out first. The latest plans share 99% commonality with my own, as we both shamelessly use google maps to draw on. I did  learn something from this one, and that is that you can customise the place name markers on Google Maps. This may have been one flaw but another made clear to me is that I must use a Beatles reference in the name. So for this on I have picked the Long and Winding Road.
So here it is the ultimate extension to Merseyrail to Thurso and not just Thurso but Thurso, Quebec via Thurso, Scotland which already has the most northerly railway station on the island of Great Britain.  Thurso, Quebec also has a railway station which is on the main Ottawa to Montreal line.
So here is the first map of Merseyrail Transatlantic.

The first part of the route would be too extended the Northern Line beyond Kirkby and via Wigan to Thurso on the north east type of Scotland. You might think that America being to the west then the west would be the way to go, but unfortunately not, despite the invite of a station in Dublin, the 3000+ km from the west of Ireland to Newfoundland is a bit too long and the waters a bit too deep. Then there is the volcanically active mid-Atlantic Ridge, which stretches on average 2.5 cm a year. So it to the north and a bit of island hopping. So first it is Thurso, Kirkwall on Orkney at a modest
54km, just a warm up, the tunnel would unlikely to surface but have a vent shaft combined with the station. Then on further north to Lerwick, Shetland at 166 km it is getting a bit longer.
At a junction with a line coming in from Bergen in Norway, we hand a hard left out to Torsharvenon Faroe at 366 km which is beginning to push it out a bit.

Then a further 500 km to Höfn í Hornafirði in Iceland where a lot of surface running will start, one line round the south of the island and one around the north, to keep the route open when various bits of Iceland are exploding. Once we get to the west coast at Nanteyri it back into a tunnel for the 360 km tunnel to Greenland to a place I can best describe as  68°44'46.36"N  26°22'34.17"W followed by the longest tunnel 1160 km under the ice of Greenland to good old Sisimiut, a good place for a station. This would be the longest tunnel on the route only helped by the fact that the water above is frozen solid.

A 340 km hop brings us to Baffin Island on the west coast just opposite Cape Dyer.  While we are actually on dry land with no ice pack it may be best to stay underground as the weather is awful, like North Wales on a June day and anyway we have a lot of fjords and the like to cross before we get to Kimmirut on the Davis Straight for the last 175 km sea crossing to Kangiqsujuaq,Quebec and our first touch of the continental Americas.

It is now plain tunnelling to Thurso, Quebec and the main rail lines of north America, if the technology exists to get this far the might as well tunnel it to keep the scenery pretty and quite.

All in all, it is 6137 km Thurso to Thurso, at HS2 speeds of 400 kph that is 15 hours 21 minutes. Personally, I would recommend standard gauge but I'd wait till full automatic tunnelling can be done, with TBMs capable of handling the pressure, if there is a breakthrough of the ocean, and being able to fill the hole. Perhaps using Q-carbon to provide strength for the walls.
It would have to consist of multiple parallel interlinked tunnels possibly 6 or more to provide the ventilation necessary and provide the volume to handle the blast from the trains shock. Plus the extensive cabling to provide power on the longer sections, and escape and rescue.
Additional tunnels would be provided for freight which would only require slow extremely long trains.
OK, I admit it is a Beatles themed Trans-Atlantic tunnel, but is quite likely a more practical scheme for long distances travel than Hyperloop.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

New LOR North extension.

If the LOR was rebuilt as per my earlier blog, then it still wouldn't connect to one of the original destinations of Merseytram, Kirkby.

In it final form the LOR was connected to the main rail network at Seaforth, see this map. Until the 1990s the route was still clear, though now it has been filled in with houses. The LOR's trains usually terminated at Seaforth & Litherland station. During the Grand national meeting, some trains would go to Aintree Racecourse railway station via the North Mersey Branch.

The North Mersey Branch heading east as it crosses the Southport line.
From it junction with the Southport line, there remains a single unelectrified set of rails, maintained by network rail to their minimum standard and used by maintenance vehicles to access the Ormskirk line. A junction connects the remaining line to Aintree station, but beyond the junction one bridge has been removed but the rest of the route is clear to Fazakerley junction on the Kirkby line between Kirkby and Fazakerley.


In my original plan, I terminated the New LOR at Sandhills station. The track there is now down to 2 set of rails, previously there were many more lines as out to Southport was quad and the North Liverpool Extension Line also passed through, see here. In the intervening stations between Sandhills and the Junction for the North Mersey Branch, the remains of the extra lines can clearly be seen. This would allow extra lines if needed to connect the New LOR from Sandhills to the North Mersey branch. Though as the lines currently only carry four trains per hour, it would be possible to fit additional services in Tram Trains.
Mersey rail has long term plans to reintroduce services on the North Mersey branch to Aintree, with at least 2 intermediate stations. On the map at the top of the page, the line from Sandhills to Aintree is marked in white as it is either in use or Merseyrail has expressed some interest in use/

Beyond Aintree

Merseyrail's plans involve leaving the North Mersey Branch at the Aintree North Curve that might be a reasonable thing, however, it would also be possible to reinstate the line beyond Aintree to Fazakerley Junction.  It would then join Merseyrail's line into Kirkby, taking advantage of the Bridge over the M57, though as this is only a single track it may represent a bottleneck.
At Some point, the line would leave Merseyrail, perhaps after Kirkby station and revert to tram running through Kirkby, where it could be used not only for people intending to use the LOR into Liverpool but also as a feeder for Kirkby station for trains heading East or West. This corresponds to the purple line on the map at the top.
This is an additional 7 km of surface lines over what Merseyrail has either work at the moment or plans to have in use. Which using the costing in the original article come to between £119.21 and £238.41 million, bringing the total for the system to £550 & 1280 million. The biggest disruption in the build would be putting the track down on Kirkby's roads.

Saturday, 7 January 2017


You don't hear much about new overhead railways being built, they are things that exist in New York, Chicago and in Liverpool's case the past, but new ones are surprisingly common.  The Docklands Light Railway is largely overhead as are sections of the Newcastle Metro, European cities have or had some elevated railways, sections of Hamburg Hochbahn are elevated.
The very earliest overhead systems where simply brick viaducts, while the arch spaces could be used they took up a lot of space and often ran heavyweight trains. Later systems used lighter weight trains and lighter weight viaducts enabling the systems to be raised on steel or concrete columns. Leaving space beneath for roads. Some like the Liverpool Overhead were built above other railway lines, that ran along the street for freight transport between docks.
The main advantage of the overhead railway is, that like an underground it leaves the surface free or largely free for other uses, such as roads, pedestrians or surface level tram lines. Compared with underground it is cheaper to build and easier to maintain, as well as requiring less safety systems. As they do not have to cooperate with other surface vehicles the can also have double the capacity of surface level trams.
Liverpool lost both its tram and overhead railway in the 1950s, things which, with hindsight seem like a mistake. There was even an attempt in the 2000s to create a new tram system as Merseytram, but that too failed, even after the purchase of the land and even the rails had started.
for an idea of station location on the LOR section see


A large part of the original Liverpool Overhead Railway's business was messengers moving between the docks, the widespread of the telephone put an end to that. Changes in technology and the docks have meant that that need has not returned. However, the rise of the area as residential and the move of the retail area of Liverpool further towards the river may offer a source of passengers.
There are some other unused old rail resources in central Liverpool which could be brought into use to produce a more integrated system, especially if Tram-Train technology is thrown into the mix, a central network connected, via existing heavy rail lines to subsystems on the outskirts, can be created.
Original the LOR was an isolated system but it was finally connected to the main rail network with a link to the North Mersey Branch, which allowed connections to all the north line to Southport and the line from Aintree to Ormskirk, it would have provided access as far as Kirkby but the North Mersey Branch was not electrified that far. The change of use does not extend far beyond Sandhills Lane so there would be little case for extending the line back to Litherland. However, joining the Northern line near Sandhills could use the wider track section provided by the CLC route.
To the south, a connection to the Northern line at Brunswick could be made. Further links could be made by the Wapping Tunnel and the Waterloo Tunnel to Edge Hill, where a curve would create a triangular loop line. Extra stations could be provided along the length of the tunnel.
In order to use the tunnel, the line would have to drop down to ground level. The normal clearance required on motorways is 15.1 meters, if this is required for the new railway then this would put the rails some 17 meters above the ground. The steepest gradient on the Docklands Light Railway is 1 in 17 (5.88%), at that gradient, the ramps would need to be 119 meters long. This length easily fits into the available space where transitions are required.
Merseyrail already plans a connection from the northern line, south of Central station to the Wapping tunnel as part of it Edge Hill Link scheme, with at least one additional station at Crown Street. Part of their plan is to open up the area around Wavertree by rebuilding the LOR as Tram-Train and linking it to Edge Hill the link could be fully utilised and the Trams go beyond Edge Hill and at some point leaving the railway and mix with ordinary traffic as a street tram.
The tighter turns of light rail would allow, with some tunnel works a connection to the wapping tunnel heading west, though the floor would have to be lower to clear an intrusion into the tunnel.
The Waterloo tunnel passes within 400 metres of Lime Street underground on the loop line, a short branch from the Waterloo could provide a platform parallel to the current loop line platform and provide access to both Loop Line and Mainline passengers.
With a connection made to Lime Street then a short spur of a loop which passed down Princes' parade would allow the cruise liner terminal to be connected conveniently to the mainline station, with just a short walk.


It is difficult to estimate costs but I found Comparison of Capital Costs per Route-Kilometre in Urban Rail from a Danish university.  Which contains this table

There are about 7km of existing tunnel, which as the tunnel is already built I have priced as surface, 8 of elevated and an extra 0.6 miles of new tunnel. All figures in millions.

2000 → 2017 $ 1.4016
2017 $ → £ 0.81

Cost Kilometre 2000 prices 2017 prices 2017 $ → £
Surface $15.00 7 $105.00 $147.17 £119.21

$210.00 $294.34 £238.41

Elevated $30.00 8 $240.00 $336.38 £272.47

$600.00 $840.96 £681.18

Underground $60.00 0.6 $36.00 $50.46 £40.87

$108.00 $151.37 £122.61



So roughly £275 to £685 million for the overhead rebuild or between £435 and £1045 million for the complete system.

Monterrey Metro

From Garcia Bridge Engineers 
 This is not for light rail but it shows how a viaduct is built

which has quite a lot of similarities with how the original was built! Though instead of being counterbalanced the front is supported by mobile columns on their own railways.
From YOLiverpool


For a plan to extend further to Kirkby see New LOR North extension.


Now with added Bramley Moore station marked to cater for Everton FC fans if their new stadium goes ahead. See Liverpool Echo story.