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Everything posted by snowflux

  1. I'd have thought a move towards open source software was essential, not only for cost reasons but also on grounds of national security.
  2. As an aside, from the BBC piece: Why is North Sea oil and gas output counted as production? Surely, given that there is a finite amount of gas and oil under the sea, it should be called exploitation and not count towards GDP.
  3. Many Germans do buy (or build) houses, though typically somewhat later in life than in the UK. This is usually done using a "Bausparvertrag" or building loan contract, a contract taken out with a building society in which you are guaranteed the loan of a certain amount of money at a particular rate of interest to buy or build a house in return for saving regularly for a defined period. Mine was for seven years, which is typical. Such contracts typically require you to save 40 or 50% of the final payout amount. Housing in Germany generally consists of relatively spacious low-rise apartment blocks in the town centres and large, typically detached houses in the suburbs. The usual way of doing things would be to rent an apartment in a block typically owned by a corporate landlord while saving in your Bausparvertrag. Then, when that matures, you use the payout to buy, or as is still frequently the case in Germany, build a house. You then pay off the loan from the building society at the interest rate specified in the contract. Variable rate mortgages are virtually unknown in Germany.
  4. Eh, surely they are diametric opposites. Slavery: Work for no money Benefits: Money for no work
  5. Gas power plants rarely ran 24/7 even before the advent of wind power. Most of them are shut down at night when electricity demand falls.
  6. One word: intermittency. The main sources of renewable energy - solar and wind (and even hydro to a certain extent) - are not constant; their intermittency means that there must be some provision for the times when they aren't available. At low levels of renewable energy, up to 30% or so, this isn't a major problem, with fossil-fuelled plants able to take up the slack when renewables aren't available. As the percentage increases, other strategies need to be developed, such as large-scale energy storage, more interconnections between grids and demand management. This becomes progressively more difficult as you approach 100% - a typical case of diminishing returns on investment. That's why the German target is not 100% renewables.
  7. Germany's target is actually 80% renewable electricity production by 2050; it becomes more difficult as the proportion increases, and that last 20% would be extremely tough to achieve. They're currently on about 23% and are working towards 35% by 2020. The UK managed 6.18% generation from renewables in 2012, which is less than any almost any other industrialised country. We really are dragging our heels on this.
  8. I doubt it. Paradoxically, a high UKIP vote in the general election could even work in favour of the Lib Dems by weakening the Conservative vote in Tory/Lib Dem battlegrounds. Edit: Different kettle of proverbials in the euros, of course.
  9. Yup, I think they could do a lot worse. While Labour, Liberal and the Conservatives may be economically challenged, ineffectual and nepotistic, they do at least touch base with reality every now and again. UKIP are off with the fairies.
  10. Is it the storms, disease, pestilence and war that you're worried about?
  11. I don't think we're at that stage yet, but it's the way the wind's blowing (pun intended). Moving to sustainable but intermittent energy sources is going to require some major rethinking of our electricity consumption habits and associated technology. Google, as usual, has a finger in the pie (Google to buy Nest Labs for $3.2bn).
  12. True, but at least the wider economy profits from the input of labour from a working person who is receiving tax credits. Unemployment benefits provide no such return.
  13. Indeed they do, as I know from personal experience. The tax credit system is, in effect, a complicated, bureaucratic and badly flawed approximation to a CI, but has a similar tendency to reduce unemployment by making otherwise non-viable work pay enough to live on.
  14. I know the benefits system has major faults and, as you imply, can encourage dependency. I'm also fully aware of the fiendish complexity of tax credits. However, I do suspect that the tax credit system is probably the reason for the anomalously low unemployment level in the UK given the general state of the economy. You might argue that jobs supported by tax credits are not proper jobs, but they do at least get people working who would otherwise be unemployed and costing the state more.
  15. According to the report you cite, the same substances are also found at non-fracking sites, albeit in lower concentrations. Whether the difference is statistically significant or not is not indicated. My mind is not made up at regards fracking, but the case against is not helped by obviously biased reporting.
  16. That would have given a lower figure this time round. According to the ONS, food prices have risen by less than the average rate of inflation over the last year. Energy costs have risen by more though.
  17. If anyone is actually interested in the real reasons why asylum seekers come to the UK, the following is a good read: Chance or choice? Understanding why asylum seekers come to the UK
  18. Piffle. The main criteria people use when seeking asylum in another country are: 1) Do I know anybody there who can help me? 2) Can I speak any of the language? 3) Will I be able to support myself? It's not rocket science. Imagine you had to flee a totalitarian UK - where would you go after crossing the Channel in the other direction? If you don't know anyone in France and can't speak any French, you could hardly be blamed for looking further afield!
  19. You said 80% of recent migrants vote labour. The link doesn't support what you said.
  20. The people in the bit of Germany where I lived (in the west) seemed generally less bigoted then British people. Mind you, they had no equivalent of the Daily Mail to get them properly wound up.
  21. No. My house is my private property; I'll decide who lives there and at what charge. The British Isles as a whole are nobody's private property.
  22. As a liberal, I'd begin with the principle that no-one has a God-given right to tell anyone else where they are permitted to live. While it may be necessary to limit population flows for practical reasons, the practice of arbitrarily preventing people from crossing certain imaginary lines seems difficult to justify from an objective point of view. But then I'm no nationalist.
  23. I'd be interested to see those stats. How many vote Liberal? Do any vote UKIP? Could you post a link please.
  24. Fair point. OK, people are promoted according to their looks and, for women, low weight is considered an important aspect of good looks. Mystery solved. It'd be interesting to see a similar graph of height against income. Presumably it'd show the opposite, being fairly flat for women and showing a height bias for men.
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