Thursday, 12 May 2016

Wolstenholme Square 75 years and back to Square one.

Some of you may have heard of Liverpool nightclubs, Cream, The Continental and The Kazimier, few of you will know they sat on Wolstenholme Square. For a more detailed history see liverpool1207.

At the beginning of May 1941, the square looked like this. Nice buildings but only a paint factory



In May 1941, along with other parts of Liverpool it was the subject of an unscheduled redevelopment by the Luftwaffe. Unscheduled as far as the owners and Liverpool were concerned but I'm sure the Luftwaffe had a very thorough schedule.
From Liverpool1207
The post war rebuild was not of the same quality as the original even with the stone cladding, I went to the Continental thrice and hated it, which is good as I normally loath night clubs.



75 Years after the original Luftwaffe redevelopment it now looks like this flattened again in May 2016 by Mee's Demolition, this time, the owners knew.




Soon the rebuild will start, back to, if not its former glory, then to at least a more respectable height.


For more details see Falconer Chester Hall Wolstenholme Square

You might not like it but the buildings that housed the clubs were cheaply put up after the war, this is a timely rebuild. Everyone will still have their memories of nights out, in my case, despite lots of therapy. There is nothing lost in this particular redevelopment, it is the final scab falling off a war wound. One more bomb site gone.


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Hydrocarbons for peace.

There are few people more enthusiastic about electric cars than Robert Llewellyn, better known to some of you as Kryten from Red Dwarf, here is one of his video blogs regarding Orkney.I don't have a problem with most of it but I'm a little concerned about some of Rob's attitudes to hydrocarbons, not the fossil variety or even the biologically variety but the totally synthetic stuff. You can see Rob's opinion when he is shown the old diesel plant, which, I imagine is still kept in good condition to back up the wind.
Orkney's power system is a hierarchy. the first tier is power being generated and then used immediately, the next stage is the large battery, followed by presumably the interconnector or the diesel, then the other.
One a windy sunny and warm day, Orkney will be generating more power than it can use, the batteries will be full and the interconnect will be maxed out, what to do then? Well, the hierarchy seems to be different for using excess generated power that it is for generating power, the diesel section is missing.
Storing electrical power in batteries is highly efficient the energy density is low and over time the batteries discharge, this means they are good for short term storage. I wonder how long Rob has left one of his cars to see how good the batteries are, it something I'm having trouble finding out.
The US Navy has been developing a system for producing Jet Fuel from sea water on its Nuclear Powered Aircraft carriers. See Fueling the Fleet, Navy Looks to the Seas  and US Navy Announces $3/Gallon Jet Fuel from CO2. So the diesel's part in the hierarchy could be restored.
Rob's criticism of the diesel as being "dirty", might be seen as a reason not to do it, but the dirty bit of diesel comes from impurities in the fossil fuel, others comes from the incomplete combustion of diesel due to a large variety of hydrocarbon compounds in the natural mix. The production of wholly synthetic fuel eliminates most of the impurities and allows the fine tuning of the compounds in the synthetic hydrocarbon, which allows the combustion process to be optimised to minimise particulate output. My own choice for the compound would be Hexadecane (C16H34) but chemists might pick a better compound.
There are other alternatives for longer term storage, such as Cryogenic energy storage, which may be more efficient in the short term, but the one thing that is know about hydrocarbons is that they are stable for a long term, they can survive underground. So while over a few months or years the Nitrogen will boil off, if extra power isn't added.
We also have large amounts of infrastructure to transport and store hydrocarbons, if we one day our fuel stores are full and our environmental plants are producing the power that is needed then, we can put some of the hydrocarbons back where the fossils came from back underground, helping to reduce the excess CO2 in the atmosphere.
Synthetic diesel is a very high-density energy store, there might never be a day when batteries have a high enough energy storage for long range air travel or to produce the power for some of the world's biggest machines, they may but synthetic fuels will be there as a backup and very long term store.
If and when we move to a fusion powered world, we can get rid of windmills we can still make synthetic diesel for those of grid needs, we still pump it underground and Rob's mate Chris can still drive around in his vintage motors.
Whatever we do we need a hierarchy of storage and synthetic diesel seem to be a good candidate for the long term tier as well as for various niche applications. It is no use being sniffy about it, we cannot waste the ideas and material we have invested in hydrocarbons.
The one thing that is gone for good for future cars is the mechanical transmission, the superiority of electric transmission and it ability to match the prime mover speed to produce the energy need efficiently is better than mechanical CVT. 

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Not voting

Today is local election day here in the UK and for the first time since I got the vote in 1981, I am not using. The 2 main elections today are for Liverpool Mayor and Merseyside Police & Crime Commissioner. The 2 Candidates I am not voting for are Joe Anderson and Jane Kennedy, in both cases I have personally been abused by them. In Joe's case walking down Dale Street and in Jane's Case when she dismissed a complaint about her staff with the phrase "my staff are above suspicion". Which is not a good attitude to have if you are supervising the police!
I don't like the other parties, so I will not be voting for their candidates. In theory, the Mayoral election is AV, so if no one wins the first vote then everyone but the top two is eliminated and those voters second votes are redistributed. The thing is the Labour party didn't put up 2 candidates, so I cannot vote for another candidate and stay with my party. In essence in Liverpool and Merseyside, the winning candidates will have been picked by the local party selection committee's not the voters. This suits people like Joe and Jane well, it means they can rely on part loyalty and arm bending with the party. It, however, means that the voter is short changed.
The US primary system gets around this but it is an expensive circus, PR ignores the problem completely, the real solution is a proper AV system where each party puts up more than 1 candidate, preferably a number based on the votes the party got at the last election. Then each candidate is eliminated 1 by 1 till a candidate gets over 50%, it is complex but fortunately, we have computers to do the work.
I'm not talking about electronic voting, it could all still be done on paper and then the paper scanned in and the data read, any papers that cannot be read are rejected and entered by hand. Once they have all be done the eliminations would take seconds, though it could be padded out for drama.
This would destroy the power of the selection committees and make the parties more responsive to the voters without the expense of primaries. Joe, in particular, hates it because he couldn't win a popularity competition if he tried, Jane would hate it because her record means that large chunks of the electorate would vote anyone but Jane. This seems to make it ideal as far as I'm concerned, it is more democratic.
There are various pro-PR campaigns knocking around but if you scratch the surface, they still don't want to tackle the power of the selection committees, they just want to have a central list starting with the central parties favourite candidate and working all the way down to canon fodder. Don't be fooled by the PR campaigns they do not want to empower the voter.Just get a better chunk for themselves in opposition.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Meet the establishment. It is you.

I have been hearing a lot to do about Establishment cover ups and how they all got together to conceal the facts about the Hillsborough disaster, but who are they, how did they come to be members and what is the command structure like?
Well after some carefully though I've come to the conclusion that we are all members of the Establishment. If you support a team and swear to the end of time that a particular goal was not offside or are a fan of a band or singer and will not admit that a couple of the songs on the second album are a bit dodgy, the you are showing your Establishment side. Same as if you conveniently ignore the laws of physics to make your Illuminati/NWO/Bilderberg story hang together better.
If at work you have casually disposed of a complaint into the bin because it was just easier that way and perhaps claimed never to have seen it when a complaint is made about the lack of response then, welcome to the Establishment. You are a member of a political part and don't ever mention that the MP for Dunny-on-the-Wold is a waste of space, then welcome to the Establishment. If you are a journalist and you decided to spice something up a bit for some extra sales or because you don't like the person it is about then, I am afraid you have just joined the Establishment.
Admittedly there is some truth in the claim that UKIP is not part of the Establishment, well not part of the current Establishment anyway, they in fact part of the late 1940s Establishment.
Every time you let something slip, don't tell the truth, do something that is purely self-serving and not honest, then you do exactly the same as the Establishment does when it comes to all sorts of things. It not a matter of just of action, though, when you fail to correct someone's mistake when you lie by omission or turn a blind eye when it suits you the membership card is on the way.
The Establishment isn't a club with a membership it people doing what is best for them and their views, it doesn't have a membership list, it doesn't have an entry exam, every time your integrity fails, even a little bit, and it has then, you have joined.
So there isn't some club or cabal that has failed these are a group of people who self-interest and sometimes very petty self-interest led them to not act with the greatest level of integrity. For some, the level may well be criminal but for others, it will just be omissions because they don't need the hassle.
There but for the grace of god (a none existent allegorical being) go us all.




Friday, 22 April 2016

3d unprinting

3d printing, or as NASA calls it, additive manufacturing is destined to play a big part in future space work, test work has already been done building complex metal parts on earth and plastic parts have been manufactured in space. The next big launcher the SLS will use 3d manufactured parts to allow it to be lighter, complex geometries can be created in a single piece, removing the need for joining. See here.
Plans have been made and experiments have taken place, about using lunar or martian regolith+
 to construct habitats. I would expect experiments to take place on the moon with the next 5 to 10 years. See here. In 2015, NASA ran a habitat design challenge see here.
The return to the moon is a staging post and practice for going to mars, there is little point simply repeating the Apollo mission, with the advance in robotics in the intervening 50 years the work of Apollo could be added to with a single human going. The only real justification for sending people is the practice for Mars, to see how bodies cope with long-term low gravity and high radiation.
If I was going to Mars, I would want a lot of infrastructure in pace both in mars orbit and on the surface. Enough to extend a mission almost indefinitely, in the event of a great discovery or failure of one part of the  return system, some have even planned one way missions, which there would be no lack of volunteers for. While with the SLS it should be possible to launch a lot of equipment and with Bigelow's inflatable system get a lot of space out of it, it would be costly. So 3D construction of some of the habitats, even if it is only unpressurised shelters for equipment is almost a requirement. You have to launch the 3d printer and any the equipment to fit out the structure but that is all.
Or is it.
A large part of what lands on either the moon or mars will stop being useful the minute it hits the ground, other bits like heat shields etc will stop being useful before even then and will have been ejected along with other parts. Some of the parts like tankage might be useful but unless it is for spares the majority of the mass, engines, control system etc will be waste.
Unless of course in addition to the 3d printer, a 3d dismantle is taken along, capable of disassembling the redundant decent stage into materials suitable for 3d printing, not perhaps by the construction robot, but doors, wiring etc. Large chunks of a metal descent stage would be recyclable but a little extra care could increase the reprocessed percentage. Plastics could be recycled via Thermal depolymerization, metals by simply sorting, as the recycler is grinding them with a very low energy budget and of course as little mass as possible.
Using similar equipment on earth the could allow the removal of complex equipment from confined spaces or the energy efficient recycling of used aircraft or cars without a complex separation process.


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Why writers have it easy

There seems to be some minor problem with the facade of the new building at the junction of Hope Street and Myrtle Street.  Over the next few days, we will see the bile of Liverpool's chattering class.
There is nothing more pathetic than people who write for a living commenting on science or engineering problems. They have never had their work subject to any objective tests, when a journalist puts a spelling mistake in an article and a sub faisl to spot it, it's no biggy it can just be redone. When a slight problem occurs in a building they didn't like it is a horrendous failing but let us think about what they do. They write a series of words then claim them meaningful, they rely only on the analysis of their friends, colleagues, critics, and enemies.
If you actually build a building, it is subject to the unbending laws of the universe you can't sweet talk the laws of physics into ignoring some problem, you can't rely on the laws of physics working out what you mean or making allowances for you. If a sub-editor makes a mistake with your instructions you can always get it fixed, none of your mates will think any of the worse than you. However should some bricky or building site worker make a mistake that needs to be corrected, then oh in your world this is a disaster not just for the bricky but it casts doubt on the ability of everyone and everything that took part in the design and approval process.
These are people whose stock in trade is to complain about how difficult it is to put together a piece of Ikea furniture, they could never actually manage to build something from the raw materials, even with a plan.
I've worked on pieces of software over 100,000 lines long, the computer doesn't do what you want, it does exactly what you have told it and at the programming level you have to set out the steps at a detail that is mind bogglingly. The same with buildings but with the added problem that instead of a CPU which does what you tell it, you have a person actually doing the building who may do what you said or they may do something a bit different, they may do it better but in a different way, they may also introduce a slight problem. The equipment and materials may even have a problem, which is impossible to detect, but any flaw no matter how subtle will be explored and fully exploited by the weather, chemistry and every single second gravity and of course humanity and all it activities.
What it looks like to me at the moment is that some post-build inspection has found some problem, I'm sure if anything had already fallen off we would have massive headlines in the echo about the danger, plus the closure of the outdoor parts of the Refinery.
The level of this building fault is that of a punctuation error, however, much scorn they pour on this building and it builders, should be poured on them every time a live article has to be slightly fixed.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Echo talks crap.

First, compare these 2 articles in the Liverpool Echo http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/showbiz-news/wirral-page-3-model-who-11058725 and //www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/news-opinion/dawn-collinson-its-time-aintree-11167627.

There is a lot of hypocrisy between the two, even worse is on twitter the echo uses the lead picture of the second while in the article complaining about click bate. Criticising the article produces the normal half thought out 6th form feminism.
No one has asked the woman in this picture how she feels about it, there is an assumption that she is upset, there is also no questioning of her motives for wearing such a risqué/risky dress. The uniform assumption is she likes it and that is enough, but of course, human being come in psychologically in all shapes and forms, for anyone to make assumptions about this woman's motivation based on here sex is of course sexist. To assume that she will feel the same as you because she is the same sex as you is also sexist, this is however that stock in trade of the 6th form feminist. It substitutes, what they will inevitably call the patricidal view, with their own monolithic view, thereby substituting one hegemony with another, This rather sad half baked idea which just happens to make them typical, and allow them to use we.
People get thrills of all sorts in all sorts of ways, exhibitionism is one way , it might not be everyone’s cup of tea but is this woman happens to be an exhibitionism then she probably enjoyed the entire experience. To assume she didn't because women don't enjoy that kind of things is usually what we here about Queen Victoria and lesbianism.
I have seen pictures of people on the tube in full gimp gear, would people so easily dismiss the sexual motive behind that with, perhaps they like the look? Freud & Jung and the subconscious seem to be nothing in the world of the Echo, we are all little automata all acting consciously, knowing all our inputs, all out triggers and all out motives.
Deep down the subconscious motives for why we do anything are rather strange and complex, vast books have been written on them, probe the psyche and you get all sorts of weird motivations to assume, as the author of this article does in her defence of it, that this doesn't apply to women is both foolish, ignorant and sexists.
The Echo happily supports Homotopia, LGBT campaigns but its authors are as blind to the variety of sexualities as those of a retired interwar colonel in Surrey. Their support is for LGBT rights, is not born out of some educated point of view, but out of simply following the fashion. The only difference is they are making different bigoted assumptions’ about sexuality and set it within limits that they are happy with.
The other question is responsibility, the claim is that in one the girl deliberately flashed in the other it was accidental, but people are responsible for, not only the inevitable consequences of their actions but also the likely consequence. You do not get out of responsibility by saying that is not what I intended. The test in law regarding public indecency is, did the person have a "reasonable expectation of privacy", in this case, you have to ask did the person have a reasonable expectation her dress would not fly up, and the answer is no, not simply because it is a dress but because of the nature and design of the dress.
Update:
This is the pic that the Echo was using to illustrate the article on its website, it seems to have changed now. It is still the click bait it still uses on twitter. Even with the skirt not blown up, the picture would look the same. It not that I have looked at some other papers coverage but that I saw the skirt and its owner on Dale Street on Thursday, early afternoon. My first though was that they'd been in the papers over the weekend.