Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The "Pimp"?

The news this morning, and the ripples throughout the day in Europe, were the unsurprising, postponed and expected speech of the UK Prime Minister David Cameron on "his" country "approach" to the European Union. A lot of argumentation and speculation thrived about this subject in the past few days regarding the role of the United Kingdom in Europe and how this role is perceived by the "Continentals". Mr. Cameron's speech did not make him any favours to change or get any sympathy from them. The main message I got from all the comments about this speech, is that David Cameron wants some leverage, a bit of bartering on the future of his European view (and his voters), a view that is diverging more and more from the project the Continentals want to build.
For this he used nationalist language and feelings. Also some snobbery, superiority and other epithets of what makes British people so good and different and, because of that, so undeserving of the fate and doom Continentals are drifting into, if persisting on the reforms they want to implement.

But... what is really reeling David Cameron? Why now? Why the hurry? Why such an opportune(istic) speech about referendae, used as a threat, a YES or NO (aren't all referandae like that anyway?) Why? Just two words:


1. Angela Merkel and David Sarkozy (now Hollande) have been threatening to impose a taxation on financial services and products, a close scrutiny and accountability of banks and bankers all over Europe. They will include the UK with an inevitability that Cameron wants to avoid at all costs. ALL COSTS! The eurozone has finally realized that their currency has been undermined by the City in London with this latter taking advantage of their membership and inside trading that their counterparts in New York cannot have. The amount of misselling of financial loans, derivatives and futures speculation by the City with false pretences, false premises, concocted assumptions, quotes and profits is beyond any concept one can imagine. Italian councils, Spanish agencies, Portuguese businesses, Greek cooperatives, Irish health groups, the ones that need financing, have been roped in financial products, packaged and legitimized by the UK watchdog. Billions of euros have been sold by City bankers into Continental Europe without any control from the ECB or eurozone governments. Merkel and Hollande finally said "Enough!!! enough David, we are not your "bitches" anymore. We want out and want to have full control on our financial services. If you are in, we need to control the City too, because you have to stop cashing in our efforts, without any counterpart!". 

The United Kingdom rhetoric states that they put a lot of money into the EU. It is forgotten though, and selectivly hidden, that for the past 12 years, the UK has cashed in through the City trillions of pounds based on euro monetary speculation. That is the reason why the financial sector in the UK accounts for 25%!!! of their GDP, making the import/export balance sheet (cars, Vivienne Westwood and Union Jack flags), a mere diversion of where the real money is made. If Merkel and Hollande decide to go ahead, the cash cow will be gone forever. 

The LIBOR manipulation scandal has been treated too leniently as if this is an internal UK misdeed. However the EURIBOR is rated against it on a global economy. Trillions of pounds worth of deals have been affected favouring the pound against the euro. The euro crisis has been the pound profit. With a 25% share of GDP there is not much else to sustain the country at present. The Bank of England injected 600 billion pounds of quantitative easing in the market and the pound did not move a pip (literally, FX trade jargon) such was the scale of the market manipulation. Maybe they were unaware of the deeds of Barclays or UBS but the country cashed in... BIG! The punishment is just a slap in the wrist. With things as they are Angela Merkel knows that any rescue package, any funding in euros from the ECB will end up in the United Kingdom economy through the City. This cannot be allowed.

David Cameron comes out with this "public opinion" threat for home consumption. He is now terrified and really needs a NO to shift the blame to the voters as the UK will not survive with a sudden cut of 25% of its GDP. He knows poverty is at the corner. He uses the label of public choice as a smoke screen of deception.

2. Scotland is the cherry on the top of the cake with this speech. Scotland is planning a referendum on independence next year and wants to remain/join the EU (the EU jury is still out on this technical issue). A referendum on Europe in 2015 involving the entire UK population will make a mockery of the plans Alex Salmond and the SNP have in relation of the future of their country. The debate has shifted and Mr. Salmond will look really stupid by coming now and say "Hmm! Hmm! how about our Scotland issue?" "Scotland issue?" David Cameron and the "British" people will reply in unison "How can you be so selfish when we have now a so much bigger issue in our hands? Shame on you!"

Well done David. Deception, embezzlement, deviousness and misrepresentation. All qualities that are highly coveted by...

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Carbon (Bigfoot) Print

In 1990 I attended a conference on photovoltaic energy in Lisbon. I was managing a farming project that was 10 miles away from the Portuguese National grid and solar panels looked an enticing proposal to supply the energy needs for that farm.

I entered a room where an ongoing lecture was taking place. A scientist was presenting a slide show plus acetates on a Overhead Projector (remember those times?) explaining the virtues of solar energy and somehow in the middle of his lecture he made (and displayed) this amazing statement:

"Your solar panel costs may be recovered in less than 5 years!!!"

I had to raise my hand! I had my doubts, serious doubts. "Are you sure? 5 years?" I asked. "Yes!" he replied "As little as 5 years". "How can that be possible?" I insisted. And his reply stuck ingrained in my memory forever "If a solar panel costs $1,000 and after 5 years it gives you back $1,000 in energy then you have recovered your costs!". "But a solar panel is more than costs, it is high technology, it is pure materials and it is more than the energy it will give back!" I retorted, getting a bit annoyed. "No! That's it, if you recover the money that's what we are looking for." he finalised and resumed his lecture. A murmur of agreement went through the entire audience. On that day I realized that scientists' favourite unit measure is... the US dollar.

My gut feeling was that it had to be more than money. There was no way that a solar panel producing 60Wh would recoup its value after 5 years. Its energetic value on its assembly, raw materials, purity, technicians expertise, design, looking like a piece of jewellery (albeit mass produced) would have to be more than its lifetime production of 25 years, circa 3MWh. A solar panel like that should have an organizational energetic value (a fight against entropy) of at least 20MWh. It was "disentropic" on at least 17MWh. It's price was a gimmick, it was "cooked", an accountancy trick.

After the lecture I was joined by 3 exhibitors that wanted to discuss my point further. Lawrence (Larry) Slominski from United Solar Systems, Fulvio Fratarelli from Solarex and Jutta Warko from Sun Power GMBH. Larry is still doing solar business and so are Solarex and Sun Power. They were all in agreement with the lecturer. They were unable to grasp the, at the time inexistent, concept of carbon footprint. They wanted to sell me... solar panels.

This pricing tag permeates the entire reasoning (or stupidity) of today's world. Even the carbon footprint can be paid back... in cash, just to make you feel better. And that is wrong, very wrong... and distorted.

I live in the United Kingdom. I use Tesco supermarkets. One day you go to Tesco to buy ham. You approach the deli counter and see this big display, 100 metres wide, with 200 staff in their white uniforms, 200 ham slicing machines spinning, 200 hams all waiting for your order. You comment "This is crazy, why all this?" And their reply "We don't want anyone to wait, we want to give you prompt service, how many slices please?". You place your order, sliced and packed, and return home gobsmacked. "Tesco has lost the plot!" you think. "There's nothing like this in the world. What a waste." You are wrong though... it's all over it... it is called the Internet!

The Internet only works on demand; you press a button, you want an answer. The amount of equipment, energy and disentropy needed is staggering. Let me exemplify with a common object, the iPhone5. For this I will use two types of unit, money (because scientists love it) in UK pounds and energy in KWh. My last electricity annual statement showed that I used 4.3MWh at a cost of £621 (£144 per MWh)

An iPhone5 64GB costs £699. This is the price for it in the Apple Store, totally made and assembled in China, with labour costs at zero, shipping costs on China Shipping at zero, energy costs at zero. That is what the Republic of China does in order to cash in US dollars. The fact that you transfer the cloud of smoke to another country, plus the raw materials and technology reflects on its price. Would it be made in the USA, with USA labour, USA raw materials, packaging and the rest and its true price would be £2,000. But this is not the real price. Not yet. Its disentropic value is at least 25MWh or £3610.

This is not over yet. You will have to add to this maintenance costs, charging it, using the on demand service 24/7 for your single apparatus. Allow me to quantify this.

There are at least 30,000 3G mobile masts in the UK network to assist 30,000,000 Internet mobile users including smartphones, iPads, tablets, dongles, MiFi. Each mast needs at least 10KWh. You accrue the disentropy of the hardware at 3 times the value. Total... 120MWh or 40Wh per gadget. You say this is not much, just a light bulb, but this is ALWAYS ON all year round. In one year is 350KWh you burned even if you never used the service (remember the sliced ham?). That is equivalent to 10 full load white washings. Your iPhone5 "burns" 10 white washings each year to have full time access to its 3G network!!!!! even if it's off!

To have all the servers up and running (the ham slicers), the world uses the equivalent of 60 NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS (120GWh) so you can be "plugged in" all the time. However data centres need alternative power supplies in case the grid halts, so they all have generators, batteries and the rest plus that beautifully designed and top of the range server hardware. That adds to another 480GWh. There are around 2 billion users at any one time. They use 240Wh permanently or 2MWh each year. That is equivalent to 400 Christmas roast turkeys with the full trimmings. Your iPhone5 uses one roast turkey a day to have full time access to the Internet information, even if it's off!!

Charging yout phone... 100Wh every day. Another 40KWh per year. Total usage costs are 2MWh or £288. Total for your iPhone £4,000!!!

After one year you change your phone and it all starts again. To make it "green" it should last at least 15 years. Using "scientific" units for you to have access to the Internet, on your phone or at home or office (desktop, wifi, gaming consoles, etc)... the cost is £10,000 every year, and this is a conservative figure. That is equivalent to 45,000Km on a thirsty 4 wheel drive. Or 20,000Km on a Lamborghini Aventador. For every single one of you.

I end up with a little footnote. Larry Slominski gave me his business card in 1990.

I have kept it. It is still in a sleeve on my Filofax. I still have this information 23 years on and will still be for a long long time. Original cost $0.10, maintenance costs 0. Cost of a .vcf card on the cloud for 23 years... $50. Is it time to resurrect my Filofax and pen and paper?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


Almost forgotten now and definitely invisible, two (yes not one but TWO) Big Issue sellers were stabbed to death at 6pm (yes 6pm not 6AM) in Birmingham in front of high street and high public attendance shops of Sainsburys and Boots, in front of everyone, in front of CCTV, in front of passers-by, where everyone turned a blind eye because they were not worthy, invisible to all.

Gone now from a life on the fringe of society, poverty, homelessness and other addictions.

I leave you their names, because they had one, they were people like you and I. Who knows which one of us will become a Big Issue seller on a street next to you... It is not a profession one chooses to have.

Wayne Lee Busst (aged 32)
Ian Watson Gladwish (aged 31)

RIP at last.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Mine, Mine! All Mine!!! mwoahahahahah!

"I have a cunning plan..." — Baldrick

Following my previous post regarding the paperless proposal for 2013, it would appear that companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple have this good heart and green thumb, respect the environment (allegedly) and offset carbon footprints on a daily basis. They entice you to use their Cloud services with the Drive, SkyDrive and iCloud. However they have been around for decades and, by a "strange" coincidence, are the biggest and richest companies in the world... with your money. What is in it for them with this new appeal for "going paperless", to "save trees"? What is the Masterplan? Because there is one, I can assure you!
It starts like this... you upload everything to The Cloud now... for FREE!!

For FREEEEEE??????!!! Sounds good to MEEEEEEEEE!!!

You have everything up there! Saved a lot of trees! Oooh.. bliss!

However... firstly, by reading the agreements of the 3 companies, you will notice that they use the same terminology regarding your data. If suddenly everything disappears from their storage, their liability is limited to a refund of paid services. If you pay nothing you get nothing. If you paid something for additional storage, you will get a refund of your last month. That's it... that's all.

Secondly, there is no mention whatsoever, in for instance the Google Terms of Service, of any duty of care regarding your FREE stored data. Ominously they state they "may add or remove functionalities or features, and may suspend or stop a Service altogether". All these companies have omitted any policy regarding future charges for these services... and that's the Plan.

Yes, they have been here for a while. In 2020 when we are all paperless (and defenceless), when paper forests have been reduced to 20% of the actual area we have today (meaning that 80% of paper forest trees have been wiped out, that's it for "saving trees"), when a ream of A4 Value paper in Tesco will rise from £3.50 to £40.00, then they will all come out with this statement:

Dear iCloud, Google Drive, Skydrive User,

It is with regret that we arrived to the conclusion that we can no longer supply our (iCloud, Google Drive, Skydrive) service free of charge, as we have done successfully in the past. The rising costs of data storage maintenance, energy, hardware and administration have led us to conclude that from 1 January 2020 your data storage with us will become a chargeable service. We have also been forced to review the pricing of our current additional storage plans. 

We offer fantastic price plans that start at only £20.00 (or £2,000!!! they can charge you anything by then) per month for a whopping 5GB!!! storage. More price plans are available here

You will be glad to know that part of  your future payments on any chosen price plan will be allocated towards carbon offsetting. We hope that you will continue to use our services after that date. 

We will be sad if you decide to leave us as we think we are the best service provider available. We thank you for the trust you had with us in the past and wish you good luck for the future.

Yours sincerely 

Apple, Google, Microsoft (please delete the one's that do not apply)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Cloud (cough, cough)

Google's New Year resolution consists of pushing through the Paperless Coalition, stating that it saves trees and is best for the environment. They say it is better to read online, and store everything online as "if you’re up for saving time, money and trees, going paperless might be a good goal for you in 2013".

This is not true at all, not even two out of three like Meat Loaf's song. It is only one out of three, you save time. The other two, money and trees are wishful thinking and heart warmth.

Google muscles up some figures as... a single search uses only 1KJ (0.0003KWh, or a 60W lightbulb on for 17 seconds) and making some silly comparisons with orange juice and cars. In the meantime, Google continuously sucks 260MW of power, equivalent to a quarter of the output of a standard nuclear plant. However, something has been quietly omitted on these numbers, something is missing... have you spotted it? No? If not, take a look at this advert first (concentrate on the first 40 seconds):


It's you! You are missing, your computer, your light, your table, your office, your home. Your computer smokes, your iPad smokes, your smartphone... smokes. Replacing paper for The Cloud... smokes! Google does not mention the 5 billion or more powered devices waiting on the queue for the results of a single search, the colossal amount of data centres needed to keep your information literally alive, as you can read here, because you cannot keep information at zero carbon footprint cost. Staying in front of your computer is  not greener than walking to a library to get the same information and the latter keeps you definitely fitter and sharper. The biggest bills Universities have to pay at present, that have risen tenfold are... electricity bills. If you spend more than five minutes reading an A4 page on your screen, a printed A4 is greener! and you can read it 30% faster. I quote a little paragraph from "The price of the paperless revolution" article; if you have time read it all.

"... the environmental impact of a single e-reader—factoring in the use of minerals, water, and fossil fuels along the manufacturing process—is roughly the same as fifty books. At first that sounds encouraging; after all, even the smallest personal library contains fifty volumes. But the real problems come in lifespan. At present, the average e-reader is used less than two years before it is replaced. That means that the nearly ten million e-readers expected to be in use by next year would have to supplant the sales of 250 million new books—not used or rare editions, 250 million new books—each year just to come out footprint-neutral. Considering the fact that the Association of American Publishers estimates that the combined sales of all books in America (adult books, children’s books, textbooks, and religious works) amounted to fewer than 25 million copies last year, we have already increased the environmental impact of reading by tenfold. Moreover, it takes almost exactly fifty times as much fossil fuel production to power an iPad for the hours it takes to read a book as it would take to read the same book on paper by electric light."

Now... saving trees... Google can't see the forest for the trees, again. Trees for paper is at present a sustainable activity, sourced by large recyclable conifer forests in Scandinavia, eucalipti in the Mediterranean. The trees and (rain)forests that are not sustainable are mostly for timber, exotic timber, probably that Imbuya chair and desk that is at Larry Page's office, plus the long table and 20 chairs at the meeting room, made of Pernambuco. If paper is replaced by The Cloud, this industry will disappear and so will the trees and the forests.

Smog in Los Angeles... at least 50% of this is can be
directly attributed to Internet and Cloud activity
The paperless dream consists of a world with no trees, a Cloud of Smoke, powered libraries and people sitting on chairs (ah and clicking the odd Google advert, wink, wink!).

The Cloud that is shown to us is always white or blue, beautiful. It isn't. It is just Smoke! Think twice how much you really need it, next time you upload anything to the Cloud. It can go literally up in Smoke, anytime. So, back up yourself... with paper.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

A Tale of Two Islands

The news today is again old news. The Malvinas-Falklands discussion has been put back on the front page with the same old rhetoric from both sides. The arguments from the UK are pretty much the same and everyone is getting very inflamed and using words like self determination, "desire to remain British" and referendum.

I have one word to David Cameron... Chagos!

Tale 1

In the end of the 1960's (yes 1960!!! not 1860!!!) 2,000 "self-determined" islanders were deported from the Chagos Archipelago in a way that would have made Stalin proud. This was done in such style and in the quiet, so a nowadays still active and permanent USA air base could be built in Diego Garcia, for nuclear bombers purposes. The strategic value has increased after 9/11 with uses for Afghanistan air raids, renditions and to take a closer look (but not too close) to Iran. It is at present the most secretive place on Earth, and makes Guantanamo Bay look like an holiday resort.

The Chagossians were diaspored through the Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritius and... Crawley. After years of discussions with the British Government they were offered in the 1980's a final total settlement of £4,000,000 (£2,000 per head!!). Most of them were living in utter poverty in slums in the Indian Ocean Islands and accepted the money. That cunningly barred them to have further redress in court.

From this... to this>>>>>>>>

As I write these words, they are still fighting a lost battle to return to their original home. The devious behaviour of the British Government continues as they now want to create a Nature Reserve in the Islands, with the intention of cancelling forever any claims for the original inhabitants by making fishing illegal, an activity that would be the main source of revenue and nourishment were they allowed to return.

£2,000 per person and a slum or a council house in Crawley, probably being constantly reminded that they are a burden to the State and should go back to where they belong (where????). In the meantime the British Government has cashed in billions of pounds for providing the "facility" to the USA. Money talks louder...

Tale 2

You know this one!! 1,800 inhabitants were living in the Malvinas/Falklands and one fine morning in the 1980's they woke up with the Argentinian soldiers at their doorstep. What was the reply from the British Government? Task force, troops, airplanes, national sovereignty, to protect the self-determination of the inhabitants of those islands.

Why this "standard"? I think this has to do with... skin colour! and money. Had the Falklanders been living in the Chagos Islands in the 60's and they would all now have a house with a jetty to moor their yachts. They would all be fully employed by the US airbase. Had the Chagossians been living int the Malvinas/Falklands in the 80's and they would all be now... Argentinians.

For the sake of fairness I think David Cameron should offer £2,000 to each Falklander and a council flat in Slough.