random thoughts to oil the mind

Month: March 2007 Page 2 of 4

Ireland Joins the Developed World

Where else would you find a sign like this in a major airport? (Excuse the blur)

escalators.jpg

Audiobook Showcase

Another site for those lovers of audiobooks. Podiobooks offers a way for authors to showcase their talent for free, parcelling up their work into episodes which can be delivered via podcast or downloaded manually from the website. Whilst listening to the books is free, the website recommends users to donate, as 75% of donations goes straight to the authors themselves, which they regard as a much more equitable way for authors to market their abilities. It also offers something of a return to the serialisation of novels so popular in the past; subscribe to the book(s) of your choice via RSS and listen to the podcast via your favourite media player, or upload to an mp3 player to listen on the move.

Biofuels: Oil for Votes?

Where your next tankload is coming from?

Just where is the EU going with its agricultural policy? With the European Commission endorsing a plan to up the previous goal of a 5.75% market share for biofuels in the overall transport fuel supply by 2012, to 10% by 2020, one has to wonder which part of the EU’s goals is being pushed hardest. From the EU website:

The EU is supporting biofuels with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, boosting the decarbonisation of transport fuels, diversifying fuel supply sources, offering new income opportunities in rural areas and developing long-term replacements for fossil fuel.

Certainly all of these goals would be furthered by such a move by the EU, but which has prompted this raising of targets despite the estimate that most member states will not even achieve the original goal. As a long-term replacement for fossil fuels, the biofuels movement would appear to be unsustainable. Whilst it does offer a new ‘energy farmer’ role to those particularly in the developing world, the biofuels movement will likely set back the move towards sustainable agriculture, and has the potential through furthering intensive farming and monoculture techniques of causing greater environmental damage than the potential harms of global warming. 1If these are indeed caused by carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Technically the move may ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions, at least insofar as it prevents the further introduction of carbon deposits in fossil fuels from being added to the atmospheric carbon cycle, yet at the moment many biofuels in the market are so inefficient as to be net pollutants. 2And quite what is meant by ‘the decarbonisation of transport fuels’ is best left to the PR people.

All of which leaves the diversification of fuel supply sources. For the greatest efficiency, there is little doubt that biofuels should be burned in power stations rather than mobile internal combustion engines, yet that would appear to be only a secondary aim of this directive. Perhaps the recent EU spats with Russia offer a greater clue to the hasty attempts to diversify fuel supply sources, and leading the charge in this regard is Sweden. Their aim, to make Sweden an oil free society, and to break their dependence upon it by 2020, may seem outlandish. But it is not motivated by the fear that oil is running out.

In the earth’s interior there are very extensive coal-based energy resources, from methane hydrates deep in the oceans and in northerly permafrost areas to unexploited deposits of oil sands and shale oils. The superficial deposits of coal, oil and gas that man makes use of today are the tip of the planet’s enormous energy pyramid. Thus, oil will never run out, neither in a theoretical nor a practical sense.

Sweden’s aims are very similar to those of the EU:

  1. To reduce Sweden’s climate impact.
  2. To secure Sweden’s supply of energy in the long term.
  3. To become a leading nation in the development of new technology for sustainable use of energy and more efficient use of energy.
  4. To strengthen our international economic competitiveness.
  5. To use and develop the energy resources from forests and fields, “Sweden’s green gold”. 3Making Sweden an OIL-FREE Society, Commission on Oil Independence, 21 June 2006, p. 11. Highlights added.

It would appear then that the true aim of this EU directive has less to with cleaning up the economy through greater reliance on renewable energies, than an attempt to reduce the EU’s heavy reliance on the volatile world oil market. Burning (inefficient) biofuels in combustion engines is not an answer to carbon emissions, long or short term. Will logic intervene and see support for the use of biofuels as petroleum replacements decline? Or will the EU continue to intervene in the hopes that the big buzzwords climate change will allow them to push through seemingly popular policies, ultimately in the name of power politics?

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1. If these are indeed caused by carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
2. And quite what is meant by ‘the decarbonisation of transport fuels’ is best left to the PR people.
3. Making Sweden an OIL-FREE Society, Commission on Oil Independence, 21 June 2006, p. 11. Highlights added.

France Crowned Again on Six Nations Super Saturday—Probably!

Ireland denied once again on points difference from their first Six Nations championship, and on St Patrick’s Day to boot, as France took the challenge set by Ireland in their 8 try victory over the Azzurri. With the unlikely Italian victory out of the picture, the French set to work against Scotland in Paris, with a target of 24 points. Although England playing in Cardiff would have a mathematical chance to clinch the title, a championship victory for them would be an incredible feat. The title was France’s to lose, and Scotland’s to deny.

A dramatic start to the day in the Stadio Flaminio as Ireland looked to stretch a big point victory over Italy to put France in a difficult position later in the day. Italy started well, kicking penalties and a drop goal, and despite conceding two tries looked to be in a decent position at 12-13 until a controversial try to Ireland in the dying minutes of the half put them 12-20 ahead. The second half, however, was a one horse race, as Ireland put try after try past the Italian defence. The game opened up considerably as the scoreboard racked up a considerable points difference for Ireland, but a last minute decision to continue after the clock went red left Italy in a position to score a generously awarded second try to claw back 7 points before the final whistle. The final score of 24-51 left France needing a victory margin of 24 points to claim the trophy.

Knowing what they had to do in Paris, the Scots ignited the game with an early try to put France on the back foot. From there France fully attacked the game, looking to be half way to their tally by half time, when Sean Lamont took a quick penalty to sprint for the line and spoil French hopes. Leading 20-14 going into the second half, France got the bit between their teeth and forced a 25 point lead with over 15 minutes to go. First half hero Lamont was bizarrely sin binned for an infraction by his younger brother Rory, and all looked to be going France’s way using all the strength, speed and skill they could muster. Yet a late try from the unlikely arms of Euan Murray put the championship just beyond France’s reach. As the BBC commentator put it:

“He’s got a five yard run in, and like every good tight-head prop, he’s now got cramp!”

Patterson’s failed conversion left France needing a try to win. The clock went red, the French pushed for the line, pushing on, penalty after penalty. With the ball over the line, the referee went to the television referee asking for any reason not to award the try—and who other than an Irishman to be occupying that position! The try awarded. France triumphant. Ireland beaten on points difference for the second year running.

Although Wales will play host to England shortly, the required margin for England (victory by 57 points) to claim the championship essentially confirms France’s championship.

Moving Your WordPress Blog

As I found recently, if you’re planning on moving your WordPress blog around on your server or domain there are a few things to be aware of. Most importantly, do not move the blog before setting up the WordPress for the new location!

  1. Go to the admin section of your blog, select and find the Options > General panel.
  2. Change the WordPress address and Blog address entries to reflect the new location of your blog.
  3. Update your blog, and do not worry if there appear to be problems, simply log out.
  4. Delete the wp-content/cache folder from your WordPress installation (if it exists).
  5. Move the WordPress files to their new location, including all subdirectories.
  6. If you use Permalinks, update them via the Options > Permalinks panel.
  7. Update the settings for any plugins which require addresses which have changed.
  8. Navigate to your new blog address and check everything is working.

Whilst this should update most of your settings to reflect the blog’s new location, some problems might arise with links and images, particularly relative links if you have changed the blog’s location within a single domain. If this is the case it would be easiest to edit the links en mass via the SQL database, however if this affects only a small number of posts it could prove simpler to edit these manually.

Note: WPG2 users might find the WPG2 Plugin page on their WordPress page reports everything successful, yet their embedded gallery page attempts to find images under the old structure. In this case, Show/Hide Manual Configuration Form will display the entries which need manually updating to reflect the blog’s new location.

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