What’s Happening In Ireland?

Published by:

In 1996, you could not get divorced in Ireland. In 1993, simply being gay was criminal. Ireland STILL outlaws abortion.

Historically, social policy in Ireland has been outsourced to The Vatican – the Irish government has had a complete lack of testicular fortitude and acted as a Papal rubber stamp. The Irish had no control over their own private lives, were told to like it, and did.

That all started changing in the 2000s. Ireland was exposed to something it hadn’t seen for many, many decades: Other cultures. The British were easy to dismiss: They were vile oppressors, terrorists, eaters of babies, the Evil Empire which had divided the Fair and Good Emerald Isle.

The Internet hit Ireland like a hammer hits a window. Ireland had some waking up to do. It started asking questions. Hating the queers is normal – I thought everyone did it? Normal women can’t get abortions – I thought that was only for prostitutes? Some people don’t believe in Our One And Only God – I thought that was only for evil rapist-murderers?

Slowly, Ireland came around. The breaking point was the economic downturn in the late 2000s and early 2010s. In other nations, it was easy to pin the blame on foreign agents, immigrants, Jews, bankers… Ireland had none of these in any noticeable quantity and was especially hard hit.

Ireland turned inward – there wasn’t anyone else. Even the English couldn’t take the fall this time. Could it be themselves to blame? Were they, in fact, a little bit backwards as all the folk on the Internet and their weird “freedoms” seemed to suggest? It led to soul searching and a huge wave of liberalism. Folk don’t naturally want to hate each other, it has to be learned somewhere, and conservatives are driven mostly by fear and hate, the laws of “We’re all united if we can hate on some insignificant minority”. The conservatives had gone too far: Everyone else wasn’t doing anything like that. Maybe family planning was for the best? Maybe my marriage won’t fall apart if a gay couple can marry?

The Irish government had failed to silence dissent on the Internet. Irish people could see how life was in America, in Britain, other Anglosphere nations. Those people could do things, and did do things, that simply weren’t done in Ireland. Ireland started to realise it was being oppressed.

When Ireland is oppressed, Ireland does something about it. 

The snooty priests and out-of-touch government were preaching the laws of hate, but the Internet is fundamentally a social place, and hate doesn’t work well. We still cover instances of hate mobs individually on places like Twitter, they’re so rare.

In 2013, support for marriage among homosexuals was 36%. Queers can have their own special “civil unions” only because the European Union said they had to stop discrimination. Marriage is sacred! Marriage has deep and special meaning to the family!

Ireland performed secular marriages. Ireland did not bar atheists from marriage. Infertile people were not restricted from marriage. Marriage clearly was not sacred, was not about the family – it was secular and discriminatory.

A bare minimum which was good enough for the European Court of Human Rights was not good enough for the Irish: In 2015, a referendum on the topic seems to be polling 70% in favour.

Well done, Ireland.

Update

The preliminary results are so overwhelmingly in favour that the “No” campaign – based mostly around wanting to prohibit infertile men and women from marriage (and how is this not plain evil?) have conceded defeat.

The Extremism Problem

Published by:

Parliament Square in Westminster contains many statues the Conservative government would like to ban.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is an authoritarian, oppressive sort and wants to bring in orders to silence "dangerous views" or those who may seek to "undermine democracy" or British values of "tolerance and mutual respect".

Let’s ask some of the statues in Parliament Square.

Nelson Mandela is an easy one: Tear it down. The Conservatives themselves said he was leader of a "terrorist organisation", from the mouth of Margaret Thatcher.

Mahatma Gandhi is another simple decision. He was jailed by Lloyd George’s government for sedition – his extremist views were too much for the UK.

Winston Churchill, having just won the war and lost the election, decried democracy as "the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried". Maybe he could stay after some debate?

Jan Smuts, another statue in Parliament Square, was censured by the United Nations for his extremely racist policies.

History is clear on the point: When we need to make political advancement, we sometimes need extreme views. We need the extremists to tell us where we stand and to test whether the mainstream really is a good idea.

We are in danger of silencing our next Winston Churchill or the next Mahatma Gandhi, just because he makes us feel a bit uncomfortable.

Just when your parents were children, people who advocated that homosexuals should be allowed to marry were extremists. The government performed alarmingly dangerous medical experimentation on a hero of WWII, Alan Turing, because he was homosexual.

When your grandparents were courting, those who thought a woman’s place was anywhere outside the homestead were dangerous extremists. There were even those who questioned the wisdom of the future Queen Elizabeth II and claimed she would be permanently damaged by the experience of working in the factories of WWII – no place for a high born princess, clearly. I wonder if Theresa May would like to tell our Sovereign that in person?

Pehaps our Home Secretary would like to learn some of our British values of tolerance and mutual respect, lest she accidentally silence herself?

It’s comfortable to think that we’re perhaps more enlightened now, but sobering to have the Conservatives remind us that we’re (or at least they’re) not. When we are not on our guard against the government, when we allow them powers they must never have, they will use those powers to do the things they must never do.

Officer Discretion?

Published by:

A recent viral story is that police issued a warning about a four year old girl riding a bike on a pavement. The bike had stabilisers on. For our American contingent, that’s a “sidewalk” and “training wheels”.

So let’s get this out of the way: The officer was absolutely correct to do what he did.

I didn’t say “right”, I said “correct”. The law is simply that a bicycle cannot be used on a pavement (except those duly signposted as “shared surfaces”) and must be used on the public highway, the road, at all times.

There aren’t any age exceptions in the law. Parliament clearly intended the law to apply to all ages.

Two things came out of it.

Lincolnshire Police issued a statement with a mild apology, saying “Safety is our priority and cycling on the pavement is illegal. However, common sense obviously prevails and in the case of young children officers should use their discretion and offer the most appropriate advice for the circumstances."

I don’t agree at all. It’s not the police’s place to decide who the law applies to and who it does not apply to. That’s for Parliament to decide. We elected them to do that.  The police must apply the law evenly, fairly, universally and without discrimination. We wouldn’t tolerate police deciding that they don’t want to apply the fraud law to a rich person.

If the law is wrong, it needs changing, and that’s for Parliament alone to do.

Next up was a cycling charity Cyclists’ Touring Club, saying “The police officer has forgotten that children under the age of 10 are below the criminal age of responsibility so they can’t break laws and can technically ride on the pavement.”

He’s so wrong that it’s not even funny. Kids under 10 do not get a free pass from the law. It’s true that they cannot be prosecuted, however their adult supervisors absolutely can be. Kids can break laws, but it’s usually the parents who get punished for it.

In this case, what should have happened is that the father got a fixed penalty notice, the bicycle confiscated, the Internet and media lose their collective shit about it and the Government change the law to prevent it happening again.

This is going to happen again because the law remains intact. A very similar case was when a parent was carrying his child on a mid-frame fitted child seat on a bicycle. He was issued a £100 fine, a fine which was illegal. The issuing officer was unfamiliar with mid-frame seats and assumed they did not meet regulations. However, the seat was European type-approved, correctly fitted and legal in this country since European type approvals are valid in the UK. The seat, being approved, is still on sale at national retailers. The parent’s mistake there was in admitting guilt in court. He should have denied it, as the law specifically proscribes type approvals and he’d have got away with it – he did not have sound legal advice.

I go all vapist!

Published by:

image_thumb.png

That’s right, I changed from a dirty smelly smoker to a vapist. I’ve now been without tobacco for four days (Ed: At time of writing. It’s been four months now!). That’s not why I’m writing this, though.

We can usually rely on the BBC as being pretty well clued in and factual. This graphic is not.

image

(Source)

All three items of the list are inaccurate!

1. An atomiser is a specific type of nozzle, most sprays use them. e-cigarettes do not.

2. “Liquid nicotine” is named in the same way that “liquid salt” is seawater, except seawater contains more salt than the fluid used in these devices. The “coil” is also wrapped around a wick, which uses capillary action to draw up the liquid.

3. The “smoke” produced is not water vapour, and in fact contains very little water vapour. Also, very few of them have an LED on the tip.

If it’s not water vapour and nicotine, what is it?

Approximately 38% glycerine (vegetable sourced) and 60% propylene glycol. The remaining 2% is largely essential oils of things like vanilla for flavour. There’s a tiny amount of nicotine, but it’s very small (it doesn’t need to be great).

So what is this propylene glycol? Its a close relation to ethylene glycol, often used as antifreeze and tastes very similar – it’s quite sweet tasting. However, its chemical properties are vastly different. Ethylene glycol is quite toxic and used as rat poison! Propylene glycol is a common food ingredient, found naturally in biological systems and metabolised via glycolysis (some sugars are metabolised to glycols in a stage of their metabolism, this skips the sugar step) which the body can use as energy. It’s a slippery, oily substance which boils at just over 150 celsius. Due to this, my PC uses it in the liquid cooling loop.

From this knowledge, we can make a sound estimate as to their safety. Compared to tobacco, they’re leaps and bounds less harmful (but this isn’t difficult!) and the most harmful material in there is the vegetable glycerine, which can carbonise on the heating element. The nicotine? A fairly mild plant alkaloid similar to caffeine, but several times more addictive.

Get off the road, you don’t even pay road tax!

Published by:

IMG_20140330_1512581_thumb.jpg

IMG_20140330_151258

 

As a cyclist, riding this thing, there are a plethora of regulations in the Highway Code.

There are a few which are poorly understood.

1. You must not cycle on the pavement (“sidewalk” for folk in the Thirteen Colonies)

2. You must use a type-approved light after dark.

3. You are not a type vehicle subject to Vehicle Excise Duty.

That’s really about it.

The first is obvious.

The second is a bit more…nuanced. Until recently, the only approved lights were incandescent bulbs, under a section meant to outlaw the use of candles, gas mantles and other enclosed combustion lamps, so LEDs were not sufficient (albeit allowed as supplementary lighting).

All this only applies after sunset and you can be given a fixed penalty notice for breaching these conditions! The maximum fixed penalty is £30.

You must use at least one white or yellow front light, and at least one red rear light. You must also have white and red retroreflective panels. The lights intended to be the legally sufficient lights before 2005 had to bear a British Standard “kitemark”. Optional extra lights do not need any marking (but cannot be red in front, cannot be white or yellow at back, and cannot be blue in any case, same as any other road vehicle).

The lights can be flashing – between 60 and 240 flashes per minute. It is strongly recommended, even by the Highway Code, that a steady beam is used when cycling outside street-light areas. (It is not legally required, however, just a very good idea.)

The lights must be fitted centrally or on the offside (the side towards the middle of the road). Other lights can be fitted anywhere. The lights must not be negligently positioned so as to dazzle other road users, so don’t face them up! If a car hits you and your lights are positioned badly, you are legally liable for the damage to the car since you caused the accident! The car driver will likely not be liable for damage or harm to you or your equipment.

If the lights are not capable of a steady output, they must emit at least 4 candela and if they are capable of a steady output (even if they’re not being used as such) and must be no more than 1.5 metres from the ground. The rear light must not be less than 0.35 metres from the ground. The Regulations also state that no vehicle may have a fitted light which emits a flashing light automatically. This causes a bit of contradiction, however most bicycle have no “fixed” lights – they’re removable – and the fact that a light can produce a steady light means it does not automatically produce a flashing light.

Compounding this, “regulatory fixed lights” are not present at all as a cycle has no legal requirement for lights, so there are no “regulatory fixed lights” on a bicycle – This means the clauses requiring lights when in conditions of seriously reduced visibility do not apply: This doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea!

In short: If you have front and rear lights which aren’t hopelessly dim, you’re legal due to the 2005 change in the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations to permit European standards. A light has to meet BS 6102/3 or a European Standard. While the standards overlap quite a lot, the EU standards are much more up to date and you could appeal that one all the way to the European Court of Justice since the UK government is treaty-bound to implement European Standards. It cannot go saying that approved equipment is illegal.

What does a bicycle need to be road-legal?

1. A red rear reflector

2. If side reflectors (e.g. spokes) are fitted, they must be within 10 cm of the outside rim (what the “outside rim” is, is not defined)

3. If a front light is employed, a front reflector is not needed.

4. Yellow reflectors on the pedals are mandatory. It doesn’t define if they need to face any particular direction.

5. Lights in addition to any lights which meet the requirements are “additional lights” and can do anything except be red at the front, yellow or white at the back and must not be blue.

I personally recommend German StVZO approved lights. That’s a European Standard and our law allows them. The German standard is the highest in the world.

Moving on from lighting, you do not pay Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), however you still have a legal right to use the public highway. Some car drivers are not legally educated and think that you shouldn’t be on the road as you don’t pay “road tax” – “Road tax” does not exist. Some car drivers, such as that stupid bint who deliberately hit a cyclist in Norfolk, will even go out of their way to try to cause an accident. If they do, they are legally liable and could be guilty of all manner of offences, the most serious carrying a 25 year jail term. That dumb idiot in the link? £667 out of pocket and seven points on her licence. She also lost her job and was “cyber bullied”, that is, bombarded with protests from law-abiding citizens at her bloody idiocy and wilful disregard for the life and limb of anyone else.

Roads are paid for out of general taxation, VED is just part of general taxation. Claiming that cyclists shouldn’t be on the road because they don’t pay “road tax” on motor vehicles is, in the words of the Cambridge Cycle Campaign,

“Arguing that cyclists therefore have less right to use the roads is like arguing that smokers should take precedence for medical treatment, because non-smokers don’t buy cigarettes and therefore ‘don’t pay hospital tax”

Tobacco duty also contributes to general taxation, it doesn’t go straight to the NHS.

The last “road tax” was abolished by… Winston Churchill in 1926 during his stint as Chancellor.

A campaign “I Pay Road Tax” was begun by a cycling journalist in 2009 to challenge the use of the term “road tax” and has been supported by the president of The AA.

The title of this post? Some diesel sniffing trucker who cut me the fuck up yelled it out the window of his dirty cab as he went past.

Currency Union and Parliamentary Sovereignty

Published by:

Alex Salmond’s promises seem to be evaporating faster than he can make excuses for them. Today, the Chancellor outright stated that there will be no currency union between the UK and any independent Scotland. He also has support from all three major Westminster parties. It’s pretty clear that Westminster thinks its a terrible idea.

It isn’t.

It’s a one-sided idea.

Salmond has been giving the Scottish public one story while privately he knows another. His chances of entering the European Union, and all the benefits that brings, rely on every single European Member State voting unanimously to amend the treaties binding them, the very backbone of the European Union. Those odds are very small, if they exist at all. In nations like Ireland, it would require the passing of a referendum. Yet Salmond promises it will happen..

He also knows that North Sea oil and gas are a resource of the past and will only continue to dwindle. His publically stated figures for offshore production vary from 25% to 70% more than the oil industry’s own estimates: I’d sooner trust the industry than a politician with his political life on the line.

So why is he so adamant on using London’s money while decrying London as the root of all evil?

In a currency union, the two countries would have to underwrite each other’s loans, support each other’s banks, agree on interest rates and so on. Alex Salmond’s independent Scotland basically gets a blank cheque underwritten by the British taxpayer. When his economics turn out like independent forecasts predict (anything from “unaffordable” to “catastrophic”), he gets to have London bail him out. Now is it obvious why Alex Salmond likes the idea so much? It’s a safety net for when his high-spending policies turn into economic “difficulty”.

Westminster would have no choice but to bail Scotland out, otherwise the mere presence of the currency union would act to strongly harm the British economy. It’s exactly why Germany had to bail Greece out so heavily, Greece just couldn’t be allowed to fail.

A report and analysis by the Treasury (PDF) has four major points to make:

  • There is no rule, precedent, tradition or principle requiring, obliging or even hinting that it would be a good idea to form a currency union with a departing state.
  • An independent Scotland would be more exposed to risks from volatile industries like finance and energy than the rest of the UK.
  • Nations with direct control over monetary policy can better cope with economic difficulty, and better take advantage of economic success.
  • The Eurozone crisis has underlined that a shared fiscal policy and financial guidelines are easily flouted, rarely observed, difficult to enforce and do not result in stability.

The British Parliament, therefore, has no intention whatsoever of handing over the keys to the Bank of England to a foreign country.

It’s such an obviously bad idea that it has Ed Balls actually agreeing with George Osborne! The CEO of my employer posted on an internal blog that these two agreeing was in fact “perverse”.

Balls:

"Alex Salmond is saying to people that you can have independence and keep the pound and the Bank of England – that is not going to happen.

"It would be bad for Scotland, it would place an unacceptable burden on the UK taxpayer, it would repeat the mistakes of the euro area, in fact, worse.

"It won’t happen, I wouldn’t recommend it. Scotland will not keep the pound if Scotland chooses independence."

Even worse for Alex Salmond, the Treasury’s permanent Secretary (who sort of knows his stuff) has given civil service advice (PDF) to the Government. It isn’t pretty for the Scottish National Party.

"Currency unions between sovereign states are fraught with difficulty. They require extraordinary commitment, and a genuine desire to see closer union between the peoples involved."

Does this Scottish government seem to have that “genuine desire”? Exactly the opposite. Salmond’s party wants to distance Scotland from the UK, not forge any form of “closer union” – You can’t have a closer union while destroying that same union!

"The Scottish Government is still leaving the option open of moving to a different currency option in the longer term. Successful currency unions are based on the near universal belief that they are irreversible. Imagine what would have happened to Greece two years ago if they had said they were contemplating reverting to the Drachma."

We can imagine, and it isn’t pretty. Euro-based financial markets would be closed, investors would flee in terror and the Greeks would have no way whatsoever to pay their debts. As a state, Greece would have failed exactly like Zimbabwe did in the 2000s.

"If you follow Treasury advice and this week rule out a currency union in the event of Scottish independence, you can expect the Scottish Government to threaten not to take on its share of the United Kingdom’s debt. I do not believe this is a credible threat."

If the Scottish Government were to do such a thing, it would be viewed by the markets and credit ratings agencies as a debt default and its ability to borrow on the financial markets would end up in ruins.

As the oldest Parliamentary democracy, Britain is the origin of the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty. This means that Parliament can do whatever it wants to do and can pass any law it chooses.

This is why the Tories aren’t too keen on the Human Rights Act, as it restricts what Parliament can do and goes against this doctrine. Indeed, no real “Bill of Rights” can be compatible with Parliamentary Sovereignty, as such laws attempt to restrict the government, while the doctrine states that the government cannot be restricted. It’s why Britain has no written constitution and is very sceptical about European attempts to obtain one.

A currency union would undermine this same doctrine. Parliament would have to hand over influence on interest rates, loans, creditworthiness, banks and all the related laws and regulations regarding all of the preceding – I’m sure Holyrood would relish the opportunity to have power over one of Europe’s biggest economies. The Tories have taken enough beating from their party extremists about handing over sovereignty to Europe, handing over enormously more than that to Scotland is unthinkable.

Personally, I’m more ambivalent about the wider principle of Scottish independence. I support the idea of self-determination, and I believe Scotland takes more than it gives to the Union (Alex Salmond apparently believes so too, he wants so much to keep the bits that benefit Scotland), such that it would benefit England if Scotland were to go its own way. I’m much more sceptical about Alex Salmond’s ability to deliver on what he’s promoiing.

United Religion

Published by:

Make whatever you like out of this. As a Humanist and part-time Discordian, I take it to mean that humans are inherently good and benevolent towards their fellows.

Baha’i
Lay not on any soul a load you would not wish laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.
Words of Baha’u’llah, Gleanings

Buddhism
Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
Udana-Varga 5.18

Confucianism
Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself
Analects of Confucius, 15.23

Christianity
In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Words of Jesus, Matthew 7:12 (from Leviticus 19:18, which reads “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”)

Discordianism
WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THAT, IF IT IS WHAT YOU WANT TO DO? "But nobody Wants it! Everybody hates it." OH. WELL, THEN STOP.
Principia Discordia

Humanism
A humanist makes their ethical decisions based on reason, empathy, and a concern for human beings and other sentient animals.
The British Humanist Association

Hinduism
This is the sum of duty: Do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.
Mahabharata 5:1517

Islam
Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.
Words of The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith

Jainism
One should treat all creatures on Earth as one would like to be treated himself.
Words of Mahavira, Sutrakritanga

Judaism
When he went before Hillel, he said to him, ‘What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbour: that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it.’
Words of Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat 31a, commenting on Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”

Native American Spirituality
We are as much alive as we keep the Earth alive
Words of Chief Dan George

Unitarianism
We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent existence of which we are a part
Unitarian Principle

Sikh
I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.
Works of Guru Granth Sahib, page 1299.

Taoism
Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss.
T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien, 213-218

Zoroastrianism
Do not do unto others whatever would injure yourself.
Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29 (Leviticus re-phrases many other parts of Shayast-na-Shayast, this is Lev. 19:18 and is just one of them)

 

We can sum this all up with the word “benevolence”. I wonder when our worldly religions will start seeing this as their goal to be aimed for and achieved, not an advertising ploy to put on a good public facing image.

On Conservative Amorality

Published by:

The Tory party has frequently portrayed itself as “the conscience of the nation”, something I’m rather pleased to be able to demolish today, though I wish it hadn’t come to this.

A few years ago, the major internet service providers (ISPs) were threatened with legislation by the Labour government if they didn’t take action to block child pornography. We were assured that the system would only ever be used to block access to child pornography.

Two years ago, the High Court decided that the system, as it was already in place, could be equally used to protect the income of private business, so The Pirate Bay and other filesharing search engines were blocked. The promise the Government had made was broken.

Nowadays, Cameron’s band have pushed the major ISPs so far that they now are forced to censor out completely legal content. Gambling, adult content, religion, tobacco, alcohol, dating, hate speech, self harm, and charities and services aimed at proving support to vulnerable children relating to alcohol, self harm, and so on.

I’m not even joking. They’re working on a “whitelist" so that specifically approved services are permitted. – They know there’s a problem and  they have no intention of fixing it properly, just making it appear on the surface to be “we’re working on it”.

They’re not even trying to hide the fact that they’re endangering the most vulnerable children by restricting access to avenues of support. The Tories plain do not care, and Labour support this also, they’re completely amoral: They get there way, and if a few 13 year old girls avoidably commit suicide as a result… then who cares? It’s the price that Whitehall has to pay in order to achieve its real goals: Control, restriction and oppression.

It’s morally reprehensible and, as the father of two small children and an IT professional, I will do everything in my power to ensure the Tory Kiddie Killer net-censor is absent from my household. If, when she gets older, little Daniella feels her only avenue of support is a charity’s website (we were all teenagers once, they’re not entirely rational) from the safety and privacy of her own room on her own laptop or tablet, it absolutely will not be made unavailable to her by some Tory internet censor.

That’s my promise as a father. It’s also my big “fuck you” to Cameron and his cronies.

What would happen if gravity stopped working?

Published by:

 

It’s amazing what comes from the minds of children. If gravity stopped working, we’d all float away, right?

Not so fast: We wouldn’t. We’d all die, really, really quickly.

The atmosphere is held here by gravity, so the bottom of it is squished by the top, it’s compressed, and so denser. Dense enough for us to breathe.

When gravity is turned off, the pressure of the bottom of the atmosphere, here near sea level, pushes the rest of the atmosphere up. Ever seen the demonstration of a low grade vacuum resulting in the air around it crushing a can? That sort of force is pushing all the air away from Earth.

It wouldn’t be instant, I don’t even know how you’d begin to estimate this, but I guess it’d take a few days before air at sea level is too rarefied to breathe. We can capture and store air really well, it’s what tyres do! So you get your air compressor out as soon as gravity goes off, and you fill everything you can with compressed air. Years of it. You need about 600 grams of oxygen per day (300 ml a minute) and one cubic metre of air will keep you going for 2 hours.

(see: http://members.shaw.ca/tfrisen/how_much_oxygen_for_a_person.htm )

So we compress the air to about 120 PSI, which is what an air compressor you’re likely to keep in your car is capable of, and is about 8 atmospheres. We’re in physics experiment land, so let’s fill a house with it. We get about 300 cubic metres. This is, at 1 atmosphere, 2,400 cubic metres of air, so you have 200 days of air. That’ll last you long enough to see what’s going to happen, at least.

Immediately, you don’t feel as heavy. In fact, you can fly. Just flapping your arms is good, you’ll take five or ten minutes of intense flapping to get to speed, but you’ll be able to fly about as fast as a house sparrow. You can easily fly back down again, so that’s a good idea. You’ll get the hang of it.

So you spend six hours flying around and the sun goes down. Earth is still rotating, and you’re rotating with it, that doesn’t change, you don’t suddenly get flung off. It’ll be snowing, no matter where you are (unless you’re in a dry area like a hot or cold desert). The reduced pressure is already lowering temperatures globally.

Without a gravitational bind to the Sun, Earth is very literally flying off on a tangent. So is the Moon. Earth is going at 30 km/s tangentially to the Sun, the Moon about 1 km/s tangentially to Earth. The Moon will drift away, and Earth will fly through the solar system (as will every other planet), but always away from the Sun.

If we know the length of tangent C, then its distance outside the circle is given by B, where the radius of the circle is A, according to C^2 = B(0.5xAxB)

After a day, the Earth has travelled 2,500,000 km. Solving, as we know A is 150,000,000 km, we get:

2,500,000^2 = B(0.5×150,000,000xB)

= B(750,000B)

= 150,000,000B

B = 6,250,000,000,000 / 150,000,000

B = 41,667 km.

So Earth got just 41,700 km further away from the Sun in one day. I used a lot of rounding there, but it’s correct enough, we’re about 5% either way from the “true” value, but that’d also depend on the time of year, as Earth is not always the same distance from the Sun.

A week later, and the atmosphere is about what you’d find at the top of Everest. You can’t breathe it for long without suffering hyopxia, and it results in temperatures around –80C at night, and about normal in daytime. We’re now 292,000km further away from the sun, but this is small, less than Earth’s orbital eccentricity adds per year.

If we go four weeks later, the atmosphere is almost a vacuum and we’re 1,1700,000 km further away from the Sun, but still, this is less than the difference between its furthest point (June) and closest (December). Daytime is scorching at 150 C, but night is frigid, it drops to less than –100C. The Moon is still around, though in the same point of the sky and showing the same phase constantly. It is travelling with us, and only gets 86,400 km further away per day. After 28 days, it is 2.4 million kilometers further away, over six times it’s current distance. It’ll be only just visible as a disc.

As the atmospheric pressure is so low, the oceans are now boiling away. Water boils as low as 30C.

If you haven’t died of cold, heat or thirst by now, congratulations. Everything else on Earth probably has. Heat is still around, geothermal in origin, but water just sublimates straight to steam and escapes. This is Earth’s ultimate fate – it will boil off all its water after first freezing it.

At day 200, when you’re finally out of oxygen, Earth has travelled just 8 million kilometers further from the Sun (not far enough to really change anything, if gravity were still working), the atmosphere is long gone, water on the Sun-facing side sublimates instantly due to the lack of any atmosphere, resulting in steam geysers from what little water is left.

It’s the atmosphere leaving which is the big killer.

Science has this weird way of having to conform to evidence, observation and proof. Each branch of science has its own major theory, the “all-encompassing” theory which unites that branch of science. Biology and Medicine has Evolution, widely considered the strongest theory Science has. Chemistry has Molecular Orbital theory, VSEPR (Google it) theory, both of which are well understood and work very well. We get to physics… which has the Standard Model of quantum physics and General Relativity.

General Relativity describes how gravity works, does so precisely and has resisted every attempt to find observations which it cannot explain, but is widely regarded as weak and incomplete. While it works fantastically well, it has no means of explaining why gravity exists. The Standard Model has the Higgs Boson to give particles mass which was detected at the Large Hadron Collider in 2013, but this was a bad result for physicists: They expected it, it didn’t teach them anything new. They still have no idea how to introduce gravity to the Standard Model. Higgs gives mass to particles, but why does mass cause gravity? Nobody knows.

Science can tell us how a bacterium will evolve resistance to an antibiotic (MRSA will eventually kill off all Creationists, as they think methicillin should still work, since staph. aureus cannot evolve resistance if evolution doesn’t exist!), it can tell us how to synthesise a food additive which tastes sweet, but doesn’t undergo any metabolism and passes straight through (like sodium cyclamate), it can even tell us how electrons can jump past a barrier too high for them just by being close to it, and we can make mass market computer parts based on that (flash memory).

It can’t tell us why mass has gravity. So it’s okay if you died on day 200, science still can’t tell us how gravity works.

How To Watch TV

Published by:

In news lately was Tory MP Mike Weatherley, former entertainment industry executive, now the Prime Minister’s Intellectual Property Advisor.

He believes that if you watch TV via BitTorrent instead of iPlayer, you should be tossed into jail. If you listen to music by downloading it instead of, say, Spotify, you should be deprived of your freedom and become a burden on the taxpayer.

The Tory Party is so far detached from you and me that they think that watching or listening to the same content, on the same equipment, same screen, same speakers, same headphones, same cost, same price, but doing so “the wrong way” is grounds to slam you in prison.

Oh, and if you’re merely suspected of doing so, maybe by by that neighbour who’s cat keeps shitting in your flowerbed, your Internet should be disconnected and you should be put on a blacklist.

Why do foreigners keep calling us a Nanny State? Why do the Tories keep being called the Nasty Party?