Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Unlikely causes of acid rain, part 94: Ammonia

From The Metro:
Cows and sheep release 37 per cent of the world's methane, which is 23 times as warming as CO2....
Yup, that would appear to be true.
Livestock also produce more than two-thirds of the world's ammonia, one of the main causes of acid rain...
Jeez, I don't remember much from my O-Level chemistry, but that doesn't sound quite right to me.
Let's check at Wiki:
Ammonia is moderately basic, a 1.0 M aqueous solution has a pH of 11.6...

Daily Mail on top form

From our favourite roving crime reporter-cum-estate agent:

Three disabled children have been found dead at their home and a 43-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Police were called to a £1.2million property in New Malden, south London, last night where they found the bodies of a girl, four, and three-year-old twin boys.

We're really not sure. But we definitely know.

From the BBC, a couple of days ago:

For most of the 20th Century crime rose and rose and rose. Every time a new home secretary took office in the UK - or their equivalents in justice and interior ministries elsewhere - officials would show them graphs and mumble apologetically that there was nothing they could do to stop crime rising.

Then, about 20 years ago, the trend reversed - and all the broad measures of key crimes have been falling ever since.

Offending has fallen in nations whose governments have implemented completely different policies to their neighbours.
If your nation locks up more criminals than the average, crime has fallen. If it locks up fewer... crime has fallen. Nobody seems to know for sure why.

But there are some people that believe the removal of lead from petrol was a key factor...

OK, in the spirit of Sherlock Holmes: "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth".

The lead explanation seems pretty unlikely, but it's the best we've got so far (I believe the Freakonomics/abortion explanation has been shown to be rather doubtful)...

Oh no it isn't..!

From The Guardian, today:

Cost of alcohol credited for drop in serious violence in England and Wales

... "Violence is falling in many western countries and we don't know all the reasons why," Shepherd said. But he said changes in alcohol habits was a probable explanation.

"Binge drinking has become less frequent, and the proportion of youth who don't drink alcohol at all has risen sharply. Also, after decades in which alcohol has become more affordable, since 2008 it has become less affordable. For people most prone to involvement in violence – those aged 18 to 30 – falls in disposable income are probably an important factor."

UPDATE: as Pub Curmudgeon points out, if alcohol is getting more expensive, how do the bansturbators reconcile this with their bleating about "pocket money prices"?

"Fusion reaction created in microwave oven"

From the BBC:

Scientists have outlined how they managed to create a fusion reaction using a household microwave oven.

Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei collide at a very high speed and join to form a new type of atomic nucleus. During this process, mass is not conserved because some of the mass of the fusing nuclei is converted to photons (energy).

An Irish-UK team placed hydrogen and helium (used in party balloons) into a 800W microwave oven, then added water and dishwashing liquid, and left on full power for several hours.

The results are reported in the journal Nuclear For Beginners.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

"Community generated land values" part the manieth

From the Evening Standard:

The arrival of Boris bikes has fuelled a rise in the rental value of homes in areas considered to be property “backwaters”, estate agents claimed today.

Research by Benham & Reeves found rents had increased by up to 25 per cent in areas such as Sands End, Walworth and Haggerston since hire bikes were introduced.

The survey, of around 200 homes, has been approved by Transport for London. It was commissioned after tenants began to puzzle agents by requesting properties in specific streets.

Marc von Grundherr, director at Benham & Reeves Residential Lettings, told the Standard:

"Over the space of two or three months, I had a couple of tenants saying I don’t want to rent in that street, I want to rent in this street.

"They said it’s because there is a bank of bikes next to the property. I started to think whether there was a correlation between the bikes going in and price increases."

Research found substantial rent increases in areas not served well by the Tube, such as Cubitt Town (12 per cent), Haggerston (16 per cent), Olympia (20 per cent), Walworth (22 per cent) and Sands End (25 per cent). Average rents across London have risen by five per cent over the same period.

Previously many tenants dismissed these areas because they are a 10-minute walk or more from the nearest Tube or train station. The bikes are said to be the “missing link” in the public transport network.

Tuesday afternoon gear change

Grateful Dead "Sugar Magnolia". The song is in A, but after 2 minutes 42 seconds they shift up to B for the last half minute.

Unlike swearing, gear changes are not big and they are not clever, whoever does them.

Russian gas: Monopsony vs monopoly*

From The Daily Mail:

Energy prices in Britain will rise unless urgent action is taken to prevent Russia holding countries to ransom by cutting off gas supplies, a minister has warned.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey warned aggression from Russian President Vladimir Putin could quickly force up costs for families in the UK. 
Energy security will be high on the agenda of a meeting of the G7 meeting in Rome early next month.

A quarter of Europe's gas comes from Russia, half of which passes through Ukraine which has been the focus of mounting tensions after the Crimea region was annexed by Moscow.

Last week President Putin insisted it was 'impossible' for Europe to stop buying gas from Russia...

According to Wiki, European Union countries use 460 bn m3 a year, so they import about 115 bn m3 from Russia. Russian exports are 173 bn m3 a year, so two-thirds of that goes to Europe.

So we are dependent on them - but they are equally dependent on us.

If the EU, or European countries acting in concert, really wanted to do something they would draw the lessons from the way Thatcher dealt with the miners or the way supermarkets squeeze their suppliers, and simply set a cap on the price which they are all willing to pay for imports of gas. This price can be any figure they like, as long as it exceeds the extraction and transport costs.

I can't see Russia's other customers buying all the spare capacity, indeed they could join the buying cartel, hence the exporters will just have to accept it.

(The only reason why the EU/European governments wouldn't do this is if a lot of the senior people are in the pocket of Russian oligarchs, which they probably are, it is certainly true for German politicians.)


* OK, technically that is probably oligopsony vs oligopoly.

Sumoking's Libertarian Corner - How regulation works

With a little (paraphrased) help from comedian Doug Stanhope, because he is 1. funnier than me, and 2. I am buggered for time to do a proper post (though one is slowly coming together, maybe, by 2018). 

"They say if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish.... 

  • then he's gotta get a fishing license, but he doesn't have any money.
  • So he's got to get a job and get into the Social Security system and pay taxes, and now you're gonna audit the poor bugger, 'cause he's not really good with maths.
  • So you'll pull the HMRC van up to his house, and you'll take all his stuff. You'll take his black velvet Elvis and his Batman toothbrush, and his penis pump, and that all goes up for auction with the burden of proof on him because he forgot to carry the one,
  • 'cause he was just worried about eating a fucking fish, and he couldn't even cook the fish 'cause he needed a permit for an open flame. Then the Department of Rural Affair and the Environment Agency is going to start asking a lot of questions about where are you going to dump the scales and the guts. 'This is not a sanitary environment', and ladies and gentlemen if you get sick of it all at the end of the day...
  • not even legal to kill yourself (this is a bit american focused but for Sucicide in the UK, it was decriminalised in England under 1961 Suicide act and not really ever directly a crime in Scots law, but, if you don't keep it private it might be a breach of the peace, consolation for those commuters held up by someone jumping in front of their train).

Monday, 21 April 2014

Daily Mail on top form

From The Daily Mail:

"Those invited to attend the funeral service will be able to gather in the grounds of Geldof's home and use a side gate which leads directly into the church, avoiding the gaze of any media or members of the public.

It is understood the funeral service will be held somewhere between 11am and 1pm, but it is not known yet if there will be a burial or cremation.

According to the Sunday People widowed Thomas Cohen is looking to put the £1million house in Wrotham, Kent on the market immediately.

Fun Online Polls: Girls Aloud & Garden snails

A low turnout but a high percentage of correct answers in last week's Fun Online Poll:

Which was not the title of a song or album by Girls Aloud?
Biology - 1 vote
Can't speak French - 1 vote
Chemistry - 0 votes
Deadlines and diets - 1 vote
Money - 1 vote
Pure maths with statistics - 30 votes
Whole lotta history - 1 vote

According to the BBC:

A fifth of British gardeners have thrown snails over their neighbour's fence, according to a survey.

Some 22% of people questioned for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said they had tossed a snail into their neighbour's garden, compared with 78% who said they had not.

Londoners were the worst culprits, with 30% admitting they had done it. Gardeners in Scotland were least likely, where 14% admitted they had thrown a snail over a garden fence.

Only a fifth? I thought everybody did it. My theory was, if there is a snail in my back garden, it must have come from a neighbour's garden, so all I am doing is returning it whence it came.

So let's see if we get the same responses here.

Vote here or use the widget in the sidebar.