August 2010

Erm, excuse me?

A third moneymaker was arrested after leaving the brothel for more cash to pay for a double dip – and promptly burst into TEARS.

The crackdown, codenamed Operation Monaco, began on Thursday and the News of the World was invited along for an exclusive peek at how businessmen – many on more than £100,000pa – are blowing bonuses around the Bunk-up of England.

Umm, since when are newspapers invited to accompany the police on their raids?

Two bits from Elon Musk

This profile of Elon Musk* has two fun bits in it:

He investigated the science behind rocket launching and concluded that there was no real reason why it was so expensive. He believed the space industry was dominated by inefficient government bodies. By starting afresh, and going back to basics, Musk believed getting into space could be done quickly and cheaply. He was right. SpaceX\’s Merlin engines are beautifully engineered and powerful, but simply made. They run on highly refined kerosene that costs less than petrol. The rockets they power – in the shape of the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 – are also simple. They have fewer stages (where one bit of the rocket separates from the other) than their rivals and are mostly re-usable. Thus they can put cargo into space for a fraction of the cost.

It\’s that old markets thing again. Through experimentation with different methods of doing things and testing one against the other in said market we end up improving productivity. Something that government mandated monopolies rarely do.

And through it all is the desire to colonise Mars. Musk insists that his most powerful Falcon 9 rockets could already launch missions to Mars if assembled in Earth\’s orbit.

Well, yes, but that\’s not the difficult bit. As has been pointed out, once you\’re in orbit you\’re not half way to the Moon, you\’re half way to anywhere. It\’s all about delta-v you see. It\’s getting a complete Falcon-9 into orbit that\’s the tough bit…..

* Bit surprised a few years ago to get an email from Musk asking me to call him. \”So, this aluminum scandium, is this the stuff I should be using?\”….\”Umm, maybe, for the welding properties, but probably not. What you really want is scandium aluminide for re-entry bits but that\’s another decade or more away.\” \”OK, well, we\’ll leave that sort of research to other people…..\”

First, and quite probably the last, time I\’ve spoken to a billionaire.

Well, yes folks, but here\’s the lesson to draw from it

A Turkish drug trafficker sentenced to 20 years\’ imprisonment for his role in one of Britain\’s largest-ever heroin seizures cannot be deported because of an obscure European law.

OK, so why?

But his lawyers successfully overturned their efforts by mounting a lengthy series of appeals, focusing on a little-known, 30-year-old treaty between the EU and Turkey which mainly deals with import duty on fruit and vegetables.


The treaty which enabled Gok win his case governs tariffs on goods between Turkey and Europe, and includes a detailed list of aubergines, watermelons, marrows and other foodstuffs covered by the agreement.

Known as \”Decision 1/80 of the Association Council of September 19, 1980\”, it also includes a number of \”social provisions\” which were the key element of the case put forward by Gok\’s solicitor.

It meas that Turkish nationals can only be denied the right to live and work in European Community states if they pose a \”specific risk of new and serious prejudice to the requirements of public policy\”.

Ah, there it is. Now, having signed up for this then of course we have to live by it. We are a country ruled by the law…the details of the law, not the spirit of it….and not by whatever laws the powers that be find convenient at any one time.

But precisely because we are a country ruled by the law we have to be very careful indede which laws we sign up for. And of course we\’re not careful. The entire European Union system militates against anyone being careful in that manner. Which is why we end up in such situations: no one properly discusses or debates these laws, we cannot reject them (new ones of this type, covering trade as it does, would be in the sole competence of the European Union anyway), essentially, we\’re stuck with whatever Brussels decides to stick us with.

Maybe heroin smugglers who have gone straight should be allowed to stay upon release, maybe they shouldn\’t.

But it is something that you\’d rather our own Parliament would have the opportunity to decide upon, wouldn\’t you?