Daily archives: May 18, 2006

Nine questions

John Vidal on Comment Is Free poses the nine questions Tony Blair should answer before going any further with his nuclear plans. He won’t, of course. His plan is probably to get so much money invested in the nuclear dream before he goes that whoever follows will be too scared to write it off as a poisoned legacy.

And a companion piece- nuclear power is going to be impossible without subsidies.

Plus- the Energy Review is just another dodgy dossier. (I honestly believe that for the amount that was, we now know, wasted on this review I could reduce the country’s energy consumption by so much we could turn off a small power station. Go on, Tony, give me a few million, I dare you.)

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Scrolling for Columbine

Super Columbine Massacre RPG, an online game recreating the school shooting, is provoking outrage amongst relatives of the victims. The creator claims they produced it to help people understand the event, but you have to wonder if it’s not just there to get publicity.

Having said which, get the game here.

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A tragedy of human planning

An interesting article in the Guardian on how the car came to rule American cities.

In between the wars many American cities had fully functioning electric tram systems that shuttled millions of citizens from their homes to their jobs without the need for a private car. American cities were more compact, more walkable and had vibrant downtowns that were the centre of urban life.

Even in southern California, which is now seen as the ultimate creation of the automobile, railways and trams were a huge part of life. Los Angeles was served by the largest mass transit system in the nation, including 1,000 trains a day running on the Pacific Electric Railway’s 760 miles of track.

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Heavensent 3.6

One of the sealed reports covered what little had been determined from the destruction of a training camp in the mountains. It was supposed that an air raid had levelled the complex, though no aeroplanes had been seen before or after the attack and analysis of the pattern of explosions and burn was inconclusive. Boran put the report aside after skim reading. If requested, he would consider designing camps to reduce the risk from such attacks.

Eventually, Janssen called. Boran picked up some paperwork which required initialling and went upstairs to his superior’s office. Janssen was in the antechamber, contemplating the large model of the fjord and great lake beyond it. He pointed at the large island that choked the sea’s entry to the great tidal lake. “They want to move command of my district to the base on Stran Island. Can you imagine that?”

“No sir.”

“I told them. It does not have the infrastructure, I told them. How can I hope to manage the logistics of the supply line if I cannot visit the marshalling yards or the docks.” Or the pross houses, his mistresses and the steadily increasing store of plunder he was accumulating, Boran completed silently.

“About the marshalling yards sir. They are having problems coping with the increased traffic. It would be advantageous to build new through tracks.”

“With what? I do not have the budget since they insisted I build defences for an attack that will not come. Of course, they shall blame me for their own short sightedness. Enough of this, what about the sabotage on the Plains? What are you doing about it?”

“I have just received the report sir. It suggests a lack of maintenance rather than deliberate damage.”

“Never. Nook is one of my most trusted deputies. A supply train derailed, that does not just happen by accident. Have some troops sent out there.”

“We do not have many troops to spare sir.”

“Nonsense. The seaward batteries are even less use than the glacier ones. Send a few of them before they get too fat to fit their gunnery seats.”

“Yes sir. Is there anything else?”

“No. No. Just go and see to these things.”

“If I may, sir?”

“What? You have things to do, you know?”

“I think the current flow of food into the city is insufficient to support the workers.” He laid a sheet of numbers on the map.

“Nonsense. The evidence of Reff shows that these people can survive on far less than I am giving them.” Janssen swept the paper onto his desk, at least having the good grace not to throw it into the bin whilst Boran was present. “Now go and do what I require of you.”

“Yes sir.”

Heavensent 3.7
Heavensent 3.5
Heavensent 1.1

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Saving Water

It feels strange to be reading about water shortages whilst staring out at heavy rain that feels like it hasn’t stopped for the last three weeks. The Independent has a Q&A on cause and effect, but what can the water customers do about it?

Obviously, we should stop using so much water. Sticking a bottle full of water or a Hippo water saver in the toilet’s cistern is a start. Finding a more efficient way to wash the dishes (one of my major sins) may involve shelling out for a dishwasher, and then you’ll have the worry of the detergents involved. Products such as Eco-Balls mean you can use lower volume washes for your clothes.

Outside you have the benefit of all that water coming out of the sky at the moment. If you want to carry on watering your garden after a hosepipe ban, invest in a water butt to catch all the rain coming down the spout from your roof. In the longer term, how about replacing concrete and brick with grass, herbs and vegetables. This will cut the amount of run off, provide cool pockets in the Summer and save you money on salads.

That’s not going to solve the major problems, of course. Water companies still need to cut the leakage in their pipes (Thames Water loses a third of all its supplied water through leaks, and has missed its leakage improvement target in each of the last two years) and lower water solutions need to be incorporated into new builds as a matter of course. We can do nothing about that directly, but a bit of lobbying and consumer pressure will help.

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Heavensent 3.5

Note I missed yesterday’s Heavensent update. No real reason, I just forgot. Normally I line up the week’s posts on Monday and hold them as drafts until I publish them. This week I forgot to do that. Oooops.

Boran shuffled paper across his desk. Production reports, intelligence reports, statistics for port usage. Lots of things he could look at but not change without permission. The door opened and his assistant bore another armful of documents. “I thought you were going down to the docks?”

“Janssen….. Commander Janssen has something more important to see me about. He just has not called for me yet.” The young man smiled at his boss. There was only a few years difference in their ages- when he still lived in the city Boran could have played in the municipal park with Aylo. Now he had to be guarded in what he said, for both their sakes. A shame, Aylo was a handsome man. “What do you have for me?”

“Traffic reports from the railroad. There is a bottleneck becoming evident in the southern marshalling yards. A report of possible sabotage on the Plains, though it looks to me as if someone is trying to cover for failing in their routine maintenance duties. And these, which are eyes only sealed.” Aylo dropped the last three bundles with a hint of anger. So hard, in fact, that the seal on the top one popped off.

“How are conditions in the city?”


“Not the propaganda about the people of Cora and Munss welcoming their liberation. How are people coping, really? I know that the amount of food coming into the cities- and staying- is a lot lower for the civilian population than it was last fat season. It will be the long nights soon enough, and if we have been starving people through the fat season that is when they will start dying.”

“There are those who would benefit from more food, sir. That is always true.”

“The young, the old and the sick?”


“I will suggest to Commander Janssen that too many deaths amongst the citizenry would have an adverse effect upon the workers and consequently production. He may respond.”

“Thank you sir.” Aylo turned to leave, “If I may say so sir, you are certainly more considerate than many in the command.”

“Thank you Aylo. Do not tell anyone else that though.”


Heavensent 3.6
Heavensent 3.4
Heavensent 1.1

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