Search found 76 matches

by stevenf
Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:35 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Quality control/improvement - for governments
Replies: 25
Views: 4557

Quality control/improvement - for governments

Quality control and improvement systems are now almost universal in manufacturing and the service sector. When well implimented they can be valuable. Do the processes and principles involved lend themselves to governments? Would it be possible for an 'indifferent observer' to establish a continuous ...
by stevenf
Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:15 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Controlling healthcare costs.
Replies: 117
Views: 17579

Re: Controlling healthcare costs.

Last week's British Medical Journal contained this little gem: US healthcare executives hit pay jackpot BMJ 2011; 343 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d8330 (Published 29 December 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d8330 Healthcare and pharmaceutical executives were four of the top 10 best paid executives in the Unit...
by stevenf
Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:11 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Should UK citizens face charges for US crimes?
Replies: 39
Views: 8579

Re: Should UK citizens face charges for US crimes?

The asymetric nature of the UK/US extradition treaty is a problem. Relations of this nature between states should be symetric.
by stevenf
Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:31 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: A state funeral for Thatcher - why or why not?
Replies: 77
Views: 31900

Re: A state funeral for Thatcher - why or why not?

To all responders - Thank you. I may have betrayed my private inclinations on the subject in the wording of my question. Though Thatcher has made an indelible mark in British, European and World history, it is not the sort of mark with which I would wish to be associated. It is perhaps ironic that a...
by stevenf
Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:12 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: A state funeral for Thatcher - why or why not?
Replies: 77
Views: 31900

A state funeral for Thatcher - why or why not?

It is proposed that a state funeral be given to Thatcher - the proposal emerging from a narrow right wing establishment coterie. This has been done without debate in parliament or elsewhere - a deficiency that I would like the xkcd community to remedy.
by stevenf
Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:31 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: What factors lead to the failure of a bank?
Replies: 26
Views: 6908

Re: What factors lead to the failure of a bank?

Please forgive me Liveboy21.

I am entranced beyond words by the notion of a "rouge trader". Perhaps a trader caught with his hand in the client's account...
by stevenf
Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:28 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Request for info - UN "first contact" protocol
Replies: 3
Views: 2701

Request for info - UN "first contact" protocol

In 1991 at a meeting in Buenos Aires the UN adopted a "first alien contact" protocol apparently. Though I have searched to the best of my ability I have been unable to find the details of the protocol - even on the UN website. Does this mean that the protocol does not, in fact, exist or th...
by stevenf
Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:29 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Is temporary inflation the solution to the European crisis?
Replies: 27
Views: 5922

Re: Is temporary inflation the solution to the European cris

Inflating debts away also devalues savings which primarily affects those who need them to live on - the elderly especially.

Inflating debts away has been done but it is not a problem free solution.
by stevenf
Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:54 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Consequences of attacks on nuclear facilities
Replies: 3
Views: 1502

Consequences of attacks on nuclear facilities

So far, I think I am right in saying, there have been no attacks of importance on nuclear facilities anywhere - either by states or groups. The leaks from nuclear facilities, of which there have been several, most recently Fukushima, give some pointers to potential consequences. A European group out...
by stevenf
Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:33 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Controlling healthcare costs.
Replies: 117
Views: 17579

Re: Controlling healthcare costs.

Here's an illuminating recent study of cost-effectiveness:

http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/G ... itWall.pdf
by stevenf
Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:11 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Controlling healthcare costs.
Replies: 117
Views: 17579

Re: Controlling healthcare costs.

Declaration of potential conflict of interest - I have worked in the UK's National Health Service for more than thirty years. The market/capitalism is an amoral mechanism for the reassignment between parties of assets. An asset is worth what someone is prepared to pay for it or, more realistically,...
by stevenf
Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:32 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Banning Social Media in the Context of Rioting
Replies: 30
Views: 6361

Control of social media during civil disorder

It is asserted that some of the recent civil disorder on UK streets was co-ordinated via social media. David Cameron (UK Prime Minister) is proposing a master kill switch for social media that the regime of the moment can hit when things get too vivid on the street for political comfort - I'm paraph...
by stevenf
Sat Aug 06, 2011 9:36 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: U.S. loses AAA credit rating from S&P
Replies: 139
Views: 16008

Re: U.S. loses AAA credit rating from S&P

The individual components of the global financial crisis ought not to be viewed in isolation - everything is intimately connected to everything else, to the extent that it should really not be regarded as a series of interacting systems but as a syncytium. When viewed from this perspective it is pos...
by stevenf
Fri May 27, 2011 8:40 am UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Tornado damage
Replies: 37
Views: 5800

Re: Tornado damage

Thanks to all contributors. Such tornados (and earthquakes) as we get in the UK are vanishingly slight compared to the stateside versions. At most there are a few slates off and and a tumbled chimmney stack or two. Annual weather related deaths can be counted on one hand usually. The most recent her...
by stevenf
Thu May 26, 2011 8:15 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Tornado damage
Replies: 37
Views: 5800

Tornado damage

In the UK the majority of houses are built of brick, stone, slate, tile, concrete etc. on the outside (and on major internal walls) and timber, plaster etc. inside. We do have some timber framed houses, especially the newest ones. Looking at the horrendous damage that can be done to a timber frame h...
by stevenf
Tue May 10, 2011 8:19 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Nuclear energy
Replies: 545
Views: 90985

Re: Nuclear energy

Helium has a vast number of legitimate uses and an even larger number of silly non-essential uses. Almost all uses involve permanent total loss - it vanishes into space ultimately. There is no more available than that which arises in geology extremely slowly. Rather like the rare earths - we'll only...
by stevenf
Fri May 06, 2011 7:59 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Deficit reduction problem
Replies: 63
Views: 8398

Re: Deficit reduction problem

biodomino for President! The dismal science rarely if ever makes specific allowance for the social value or utility of goods or services and yet it is the social capital in a society that underpins happiness, mutuality, reciprocity, dignity etc. etc. Most consumers in most fields of expenditure are ...
by stevenf
Wed Apr 27, 2011 3:55 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Deficit reduction problem
Replies: 63
Views: 8398

Re: Deficit reduction problem

We have drifted quite a long way from deficit reduction... TGARCH-M is sort of right in that the public/private division of opinion is probably unbridgeable as are the other differences of outlook outlined in this thread. You say tomato and I say tomayto etc. If only the level of public/media politi...
by stevenf
Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:37 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Deficit reduction problem
Replies: 63
Views: 8398

Re: Deficit reduction problem

On healthcare: In private healthcare there is, notoriously, excessive investigation and treatment. Furthermore, in a litigious environment, defensive investigation and treatment adds to the burden. All extra costs - both financial and in terms of futility and adverse outcomes. In the NHS (which succ...
by stevenf
Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:02 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Deficit reduction problem
Replies: 63
Views: 8398

Re: Deficit reduction problem

This is an excellent thread with a huge scope. For the avoidance of doubt - I am with biodomino. Categorise me as left wing, egalitarian, communitarian, deliberative democrat, Green, progressive... The UK deficit is stupendous - eye-wateringly so. Though I am open to correction, our net debt is some...
by stevenf
Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:31 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Nuclear energy
Replies: 545
Views: 90985

Re: Nuclear energy

On the helium question - I heard that by statute the USA has obliged itself to dispose of its entire stockpile at any price achievable. Is this true and if so has the perpetrator been apprehended yet?
by stevenf
Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:20 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Nuclear energy
Replies: 545
Views: 90985

Re: Nuclear energy

The prevailing south westerly wind would carry the plume directly from Sellafield to my home in a couple of hours. The UK is small enough for the plume to reach anywhere in less than a day if the wind were in another direction. Given that the quantity of Caesium, plutonium and numerous other radionu...
by stevenf
Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:40 am UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: Recommend a book
Replies: 484
Views: 271722

Re: Recommend a book

The book 'Little Missions' (1932) by Septimus Despencer is chiefly famous for being the first to contain the phrase: "Oh dear! Our postillion has been struck by lightning!" It is on page 42. However, it is also an interesting read too. It is a true account of the investigative travels of a...
by stevenf
Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:33 am UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Nuclear energy
Replies: 545
Views: 90985

Re: nukular energy

Here is the text of a letter that I sent to a national daily paper this week: Sir We risk being rushed to judgment by both the pro- and anti- nuclear lobbies in the wake of Fukushima. The pros concentrate on their low carbon and low fatality claims. The antis focus on the proliferation risk and wast...
by stevenf
Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:27 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Bankers - that's with a B!
Replies: 37
Views: 4924

Re: Bankers - that's with a B!

My thanks to all who are contributing to this thread. It pays to hear a variety of views.
by stevenf
Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:15 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Bankers - that's with a B!
Replies: 37
Views: 4924

Bankers - that's with a B!

In the UK there is a great deal of popular discontent with the scale of the bonuses that bankers pay themselves, even when their organisation has made a loss or is in receipt of public funds. Does anyone know or can anyone calulate how much more depositors and investors in the organisations would ha...
by stevenf
Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:04 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Do you ever see a happy fashion model?
Replies: 17
Views: 2597

Re: Do you ever see a happy fashion model?

Translation please - SRS?

Thanks for the photo too - don't you agree it is so much more agreeable to see a smile?
by stevenf
Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:17 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Do you ever see a happy fashion model?
Replies: 17
Views: 2597

Do you ever see a happy fashion model?

My principle motive for looking at any fashion related photo or text is to reinforce my loathing of the topic and my prejudices against artifice. I hope that's clear. Now the question: No matter how hard I try I cannot call to mind seeing any happy fashion model - they all look horribly sullen, moro...
by stevenf
Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:23 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: What if Murdoch was a progressive?
Replies: 13
Views: 2861

Re: What if Murdoch was a progressive?

Reith's ideas are best viewed through the prism of the world view that held sway at the time, they are much harder to hold in focus now. I hope that we can move toward a communitarian future in which the limitations of the neoliberal free market capitalist hegemony that we are presently 'enjoying' a...
by stevenf
Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:12 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: What if Murdoch was a progressive?
Replies: 13
Views: 2861

Re: What if Murdoch was a progressive?

Many professions go in harm's way. I have had a gun drawn on me by a man who had served a long term in an institute for the criminally insane for murder. Alone in a remote rural hovel in the dead of night, save for a man with uncontrolled acute hypomania, I have had a woodsman's axe buried in a door...
by stevenf
Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:02 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: What if Murdoch was a progressive?
Replies: 13
Views: 2861

Re: What if Murdoch was a progressive?

Dear podbaydoor How long have I got to familiarise myself with the detailed CVs of the four journalists you mention? It is possible that you have alighted upon four paragons of spotless virtue but I remain sceptical. Having followed current affairs on a daily basis since the mid sixties I have becom...
by stevenf
Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:07 am UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: What if Murdoch was a progressive?
Replies: 13
Views: 2861

Re: What if Murdoch was a progressive?

Politics is fickle, inconstant, prey to passing fashions and subordinate to financial muscle. The electorate is apathetic, naive, misdirected by 'bread and circuses' and gullible to a breathtaking degree. The published and broadcast media, the major link between politics and electorate, are facile, ...
by stevenf
Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:08 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Standard Unit of Healthcare
Replies: 27
Views: 5155

Re: Standard Unit of Healthcare

The problem that this thread is encountering is that many contributors are making the same conceptual errors that early fiction writers and film makers made - assuming that interstellar or intergalactic space travel will be accomplished by recognisable technology. Healthcare, as currently understood...
by stevenf
Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:30 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: failsafe features in fission reactors
Replies: 15
Views: 1960

Re: failsafe features in fission reactors

On the BBC World Service the use of sea water was described as a 'Hail Mary' measure.
by stevenf
Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:22 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Alternative Energy Storage
Replies: 50
Views: 5230

Re: Alternative Energy Storage

I love Velifer! Beneath my green house I have a five cubic metre hole into which is pumped, by PV powered fans at approx 500cfm, the hot air from the top of the greenhouse - somewhat like a hypocaust. After a couple of years we have reached the view that it is a reasonably effective thermal damper r...
by stevenf
Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:19 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: failsafe features in fission reactors
Replies: 15
Views: 1960

Re: failsafe features in fission reactors

My thanks to all who have replied.

I am sure that we all wish those who are at work in such a dangerous environment the very best of luck - and safety!
by stevenf
Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:34 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: failsafe features in fission reactors
Replies: 15
Views: 1960

failsafe features in fission reactors

I am puzzled why the Japanese reactors were not designed to fail to a safe(r) condition in a SCRAM. Cannot the control rods be withdrawn and held out by electric current and inserted by gravity? Cannot the containment be pumped down to the required level and then flood to the brim by default when th...
by stevenf
Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:20 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Alternative Energy Storage
Replies: 50
Views: 5230

Re: Alternative Energy Storage

There was a story in the UK press a few months ago about a US plastic surgeon who runs his diesel Mercedes on what he gets out of his liposuction patients. Might be apocryphal. Electricity from any source can be made into hydrogen and stored/transported as such. Pumped water storage can be into hill...
by stevenf
Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:18 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: ESPs orbiting very fast - or maybe something else...
Replies: 2
Views: 561

ESPs orbiting very fast - or maybe something else...

A recently discovered extra solar planet (sorry - I can't recall the designation), calculated to be of great size and close to its star, is said to be orbiting very fast - every three days I seem to recall. Is it possible that this phenomenon could be something more like a partial/segmented Dyson sp...
by stevenf
Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:27 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: ICE, Hybrid, and EV: A discussion of the merits
Replies: 215
Views: 29477

Re: ICE, Hybrid, and EV A discussion of the merits

An element in the equation that is rarely discussed is the status of vehicles in contemporary society. Objectively, a car is a domestic appliance, like a fridge or toaster. The car has, however, become fetishised and freighted with a mass of sociological and iconographic addenda. Furthermore, the gr...

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