Every home in the UK could get their electricity from wind-power within this decade

In a speech Tuesday (Oct 6th), Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged that the United Kingdom would generate enough electricity from offshore wind to power every UK home within a decade.

The UK government also unveiled a new target for floating offshore wind to deliver 1 Gigawatt of energy by 2030. That’s more than 15 times as much power as floating offshore wind currently generates worldwide, it said. The government promised £160 million ($207 million) to upgrade ports and infrastructure…

Britain must “build back greener” from the coronavirus pandemic in order to accelerate progress towards a legally binding target to reach net zero emissions by 2050, Johnson said…

While I’m not convinced Boris Johnson and his Tories are best capable of leading this task, he’s got the science and technology right for a change. Unlike his peers here in the GOUSA. At least the Left and Right in Great Britain appear capable of uniting on a plan to make the switch to renewables for generating electricity…and leave “stupid and spooky” behind.

Phony-Quality Steel scandal hits Boeing, Toyota, Nissan and more


Kobe executives now qualify for their own reality TV show

❝ Boeing, Toyota, Nissan and other big companies are scrambling to check the safety of their products after it emerged they had been supplied with falsely certified metal from Kobe Steel in a deepening scandal that has dealt a fresh blow to confidence in industrial quality controls in Japan.

More than a fifth of the value of Japan’s third biggest steelmaker was wiped off after trading resumed in the company following its admission of falsifying inspection data on an estimated 20,000 tonnes of metals shipped to about 200 customers in the year to August 2017.

❝ The steelmaker had sold metal with strength that did not match the quality standard it had promised its clients for use in products ranging from cars to aircraft. It warned at the weekend that the problems could stretch back 10 years.

❝ It is the latest in a string of scandals highlighting wider concerns about inspection and quality control in Japan from wobbly building pilings at the construction arm of Asahi Kasei to overstated fuel economy at Mitsubishi Motors. The Kobe Steel news came just days after Japanese carmaker Nissan was forced to recall about 1.2m vehicles that were inspected by unauthorised technicians.

Other companies affected by the Kobe Steel scandal include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, IHI, Honda, Mazda and Subaru. Kobe Steel said it had no evidence of any safety concerns as a result of the fraudulent certification.

If Japan can get away with corruption like this for a decade, it sets a new goal for Trump and his chump followers to try to match.

Electric Cars Will Cost Less Than Gasoline-Burners by 2025


I could be tempted

❝ Battery powered cars will soon be cheaper to buy than conventional gasoline ones, offering immediate savings to drivers, new research shows.

Automakers from Renault SA to Tesla Inc. have long touted the cheaper fuel and running costs of electric cars that helps to displace the higher upfront prices that drivers pay when they buy the zero-emission vehicles.

❝ Now research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicates that falling battery costs will mean electric vehicles will also be cheaper to buy in the U.S. and Europe as soon as 2025. Batteries currently account for about half the cost of EVs, and their prices will fall by about 77 percent between 2016 and 2030, the London-based researcher said…

❝ Renault, maker of the Zoe electric car, predicts total ownership costs of EVs will by the early 2020s equal conventional internal combustion engine vehicles…according to Gilles Normand, the French company’s senior vice president for electric vehicles.

If I could justify buying a new vehicle to replace my 24-year-old pickup truck it probably would be from whomever offers me a smallish EV pickup, say, a quarter-ton AWD.

Still, I just don’t drive enough to justify a second new or newish vehicle in our family. My wife’s 4-year-old Fiesta is still very low accumulated miles – our go to town shopping-mobile – averages 40+ mpg.

The next army of American workers who will be automated out of existence are truckdrivers


AP Photo/Tony Avelar

❝ Carmaking giants and ride-sharing upstarts racing to put autonomous vehicles on the road are dead set on replacing drivers, and that includes truckers. Trucks without human hands at the wheel could be on American roads within a decade, say analysts and industry executives.

At risk is one of the most common jobs in many states, and one of the last remaining careers that offer middle-class pay to those without a college degree. There are 1.7 million truckers in America, and another 1.7 million drivers of taxis, buses and delivery vehicles. That compares with 4.1 million construction workers.

❝ While factory jobs have gushed out of the country over the last decade, trucking has grown and pay has risen. Truckers make $42,500 per year on average, putting them firmly in the middle class.

❝ On Sept. 20, the Obama administration put its weight behind automated driving, for the first time releasing federal guidelines for the systems. About a dozen states already created laws that allow for the testing of self-driving vehicles. But the federal government, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will ultimately have to set rules to safely accommodate 80,000-pound autonomous trucks on U.S. highways.

In doing so, the feds have placed a bet that driverless cars and trucks will save lives. But autonomous big rigs, taxis and Ubers also promise to lower the cost of travel and transporting goods…

Trucking will likely be the first type of driving to be fully automated – meaning there’s no one at the wheel. One reason is that long-haul big rigs spend most of their time on highways, which are the easiest roads to navigate without human intervention.

But there’s also a sweeter financial incentive for automating trucks. Trucking is a $700-billion industry, in which a third of costs go to compensating drivers.

Decent, well-written article. You should read it. In most states, the number 1 or number 2 job category is truck driving. Probably half of those drivers are working over-the-road. Gonna be a lot of unhappy unemployed truck drivers, say, before the 2028 presidential elections.

Pepsi and Coke battle for the lead among losers


Still cranking out profits from carbonated water and sugar

Americans bought less soda for the 10th straight year in 2014…An annual report by the industry tracker Beverage Digest found that overall soda volume slipped 0.9% last year, moderating from the decline of 3% the previous year.

And the poor performance of diet sodas in particular led to a shake-up in the top 10 US soda rankings; even though people bought less Pepsi, it managed to regain the No 2 spot from Diet Coke, which suffered an even steeper decline. Diet Coke had knocked Pepsi off the No 2 spot in 2010…

Interesting to investors and hedge funds. Meaningless compared to good news for the health of the nation.

John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest, attributed the moderation in soda’s decline in 2014 to the continued growth of energy drinks. He also noted that Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group have improved marketing for their soda brands.

Soda volume has been declining in the US since 2004 amid concerns that sugary drinks fuel weight gain, and a proliferation of alternatives in the beverage aisle.

They’re still cranking out easier profits from stuffing people with sugar.

Despite the ongoing decline of soda volume, the broader US beverage industry performed better than in the previous year with growth of 1.7%, according to Beverage Digest. That increase was driven by an increase in bottled water sales.

How dumb is that? Continued growth in designer water sales confounds any measure of intelligence.

Poorest president in the world gets $1 million offer for his 1987 VW Beetle

vw_beetle_jose_mujica-

The Uruguayan president Jose Mujica says he has received a million-dollar offer to buy his blue 1987 Volkswagen Beetle, which has become a symbol of his austere lifestyle.

The man once nicknamed “the poorest president in the world” told the Uruguayan weekly Busqueda that an Arab sheik offered $1m for the humble car.

When asked about the reported offer at a news conference, Mujica, who is standing down as president, said: “That’s what they said to me, but I didn’t give it any importance.”

In an informal chat, Mexico’s ambassador to Uruguay recently suggested to Mujica that he auction the Beetle in Mexico and predicted he could get 10 four-wheel-drive trucks for it…

Mujica, a former leftist Tupamaro guerrilla leader, said that if he got $1m for the car, he would donate the money to a scheme for the homeless. If he got trucks for it, he said, they could go to Uruguay’s public health office or his campaign workers.

The president said he would gladly auction the Beetle because he has “no commitment to cars” and he joked that he did not sell it because of his dog Manuela, famous for only having three legs.

Manuela

My kind of president. Not that I ever expect to get to vote for one.

And if someone like Mujica wanted to contest for president of the United States it would have to be as an independent. Neither Establishment party would let him into a primary – and I’m not certain many Americans would vote for someone who wasn’t safely respectable.

There are times when I think we’re working hard at becoming a stuffy, small-minded nation.

Snapshot of a decade in China


Click to reach interactive infographic

Interesting stuff. If you know your history, China and India shared pretty much the same sort of economic power and social situation internally at the time of China’s revolution – 1949. Their economies have diverged.

One of the most significant parallels, the shared experience of corruption – if you’re a Westerner doing business in either country – is slowly beginning to turn. The international rating system for corruption now place China just above India – and we will learn over the next few years whether or not the call to clean that nation of corrupt officials and business people actually becomes a standard.

Still, the infographic says a lot about rising from the Dark Ages to, say, mid-20th Century levels in 60 years is impressive.

23 found guilty of murdering Muslims in India’s Gujarat state

Twenty three people have been found guilty of murdering Muslims, including women and children, in sectarian rioting that erupted in India’s western Gujarat state a decade ago.

An equal number of mostly Hindu defendants were acquitted for their involvement in burning 23 Muslims to death in the small Gujarati village of Ode after bolting the doors of the house where they had taken refuge from marauding mobs and then setting it alight.

Eighteen of the victims were women and children.

Rioting erupted in Gujarat in 2002 after a suspected Muslim mob burned a trainload of 58 Hindu activists at Gujarat’s Godhra station, 100 miles from the state capital Gandhinagar…

Hindus blamed Muslims for the train fire and, seeking revenge, went on a rampage through their neighbourhoods in towns and villages across Gujarat in three days of unrelenting violence following the incident. Sporadic rioting continued in the state for at least three months in what was considered one of India’s worst outbreaks of sectarian violence in recent years and one which activists referred to as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and an ‘anti-Muslim pogrom’.

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party…was held responsible for failing to stop the violence. Many activists, backed by media reports and human rights groups accused Modi of actively encouraging the rioting…

The Ode massacre was one of 10 key incidents being probed by a Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team set up in 2008 after Modi was blamed for interfering with riot cases registered in Gujarat by obstructing investigations.

What is there to say?

Nation-states that rely on theocracy for wisdom in governance inevitably fail every historic standard of decency and lawfulness.

British Library returns stolen manuscript to Italy

A thousand-year-old religious manuscript which was looted in Italy during the Second World War has been returned by the British Library to its rightful owners in the southern Italian town of Benevento after a decade-long legal battle.

A British lawyer who acted for the archdiocese of Benevento, handed back the manuscript personally. The codex was written on parchment around 1100.

“The return of the missal had become highly symbolic for Benevento and its cathedral, so they were absolutely delighted to have it back,” Mr Scott said…

The early 12th century liturgical book is the first item to be returned by a British institution since the UK adopted a law regarding the looting of cultural treasures during the Nazi era, from Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in 1933 to the end of the war in 1945…

It is assumed to have been looted, but it is not known whether it was stolen by a German soldier, a member of the Allied armies or an Italian soldier or civilian.

It turned up in a second-hand book shop in Naples in early 1944, where it was bought by a British officer, Capt Douglas Ash of the Intelligence Corps, who was told by the owner of the shop that it was “molto antico” – very old.

On his return home he offered it for sale at Sotheby’s. It was bought by the British Museum for £420, before being transferred to the British Library in 1973.

The archdiocese of Benevento asked for it to be returned a decade ago, but the British Library refused the request.

Don’t you love how upright and prestigious institutions have no problem whatsoever keeping hold of stolen goods? Often, the rationale is some sort of elitist defense – “you ordinary folk wouldn’t know what to do with it if you had it back!”

I don’t know if that’s the case with this manuscript; but, hey – the British Library has known it was misbegotten for a decade. How long do you need to make up your mind about honesty?

3rd Edition of Oxford English Dictionary unlikely to appear in print

Publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary have confirmed that the third edition may never appear in print. A team of 80 lexicographers began working on it following the publication of the second edition in 1989. It is 28% finished. In comments to a Sunday newspaper, Nigel Portwood, chief executive of Oxford University Press, which owns the dictionary, said: “The print dictionary market is just disappearing. It is falling away by tens of percent a year.” Asked if he thought the third edition would appear in printed format, he said: “I don’t think so.” However, an OUP spokeswoman said no decision had been made.

“It is likely to be more than a decade before the full edition is published and a decision on format will be taken at that point,” she said.

“Demand for online resources is growing but large numbers of people continue to purchase dictionaries in printed form and we have no plans to stop publishing print dictionaries.”

The Oxford English Dictionary already publishes revised and new entries online every three months, with a new version of its OED Online website due to be launched in December.

The publisher produces approximately 500 dictionaries, thesauruses and language reference titles in more than 40 languages in a variety of formats.

Ten years from now, I don’t doubt there will be folks who still want a hard copy of some book or other – including the OED. They most likely will be made available as vanity publishers now offer single copies from digital files.