Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Housing woes - oh, and they're in the UK

Dear old William Rees-Mogg has a typically pithy article in the Times. Change the context to NZ, and his comments are still apropos. Especially the ones about the four conditions for a cartel. From the article (my numbering added):

"1. license housebuilding, so that no one could build a new house without a licence, or even rebuild an old house or a redundant barn.
2. encourage developers to maintain large land banks in order to benefit from rising prices.
3. leak out new permissions only after long periods of delay.
4. combine this with an unlimited flow of mortgage credit and relatively low rates of interest.

If you restrict supply below the market clearing level and increase funding, you will inevitably create a bubble and you will lock people out of the market."

The wisdom of the old geezer: two of my go-back-to books by this guy are the rather apocalyptic "The Great Reckoning", published in 1992, which foresaw in rather exquisite detail the rise of terrorism among other things; and "The Sovereign Individual", published 1997, which foresaw the break-up of the world's larger and more unwieldy entities, and the privatisation of states, armies and other traditional nation-state apparatus, on smaller scales. Blackwater, anyone?

Prophetic stuff.

And wonderfully different to the asswipe smush (one square only, though) served up in the name of analysis in our own little deranged dominion.

Monday, April 23, 2007

We'll have to coin a new shorthand for this

Darwin is hard at work again, here.

Used to be 'Fish, Barrel, Shoot' as a shorthand for, well, shooting fish in a barrel.

Taunting a number of crocodiles then suffering the consequences (both kids and crocs) has that air of inevitability about it all, n'est ce pas?

So perhaps 'Croc, Taunt, Lunch, Shoot' is it......

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Solar independence

Th is is good news. There are several companies very active in the CIGS field now (Nanosolar, Miasole, Konarka, Heliovolt) and there is a very useful directory here.

The premise is simple: thin film solar generates DC current in useful amounts, and the films themselves are produced via a printing process akin to newspapaer printing. That is: by the hectare. The films can be molded in any shape, stuck to existing e.g. roofs, and costs are predicted to ba around $USD0.50/watt within 5 years.

So instead of building centralised power stations, this holds out the prospect of completely self-powered houses. Nice thought, huh?


Another good directory here. Once this stuff gets commercialised with distributors, franchisees, integrators and tradespeople on tap, it will be gangbusters. Or even, Dambusters. Just think of what evacuated-tube solar hot water is doing right now. The same, squared, will apply to residential solar. And the nicest aspect (no URL, found the info while wwilf'ing) is that the power is clean: no more spikes or ripples caused by neighbours welding, nearby industries, or incompetent power suppliers.