Pyramid Comment

This journal takes an alternative view on current affairs and other subjects. The approach is likely to be contentious and is arguably speculative. The content of any article is also a reminder of the status of those affairs at that date. All comments have been disabled. Any and all unsolicited or unauthorised links are absolutely disavowed.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Southern Electric - Calendar Dates


It seems essential to record the receipt date of all communications when dealing with energy companies in general, but Southern Electric specifically. Especially those (snail mail) letters that have no explicit date on the envelope. The dates actually recorded can suggest an alternative reality: the internal content of letters can easily be interpreted as delay by the customer. When the opposite situation applies

Southern Electric
Southern Electric - North Sea Gas And Hess Energy
Southern Electric - The Deceit
Southern Electric - The Letter
Southern Electric - Update

An attempt to settle an account on-line could only be assumed successful since after paying the electricity bill (11th September 2010), the window closed and failed to reopen so that the gas bill could not be settled. On re-opening the account, status details had disappeared and although the login was successful, the account had become 'unknown' with any amount owing on any account, either paid or not, set to £0.00. This made it impossible to continue any on-line transaction. An explicit e-mail was sent (11th September 2010) to notify Southern Electric of this issue and in the meantime, an e-mail receipt was received that proved that the electricity payment had been successfully made on the recorded date (11.09.2010). The small discount (2.5%) that would be credited if payment by 14th September 2010 was met and should, therefore, be received.

Several days later, the account had been restored and was accessible, but no alerting e-mail was ever received to advise about this restoration of account details and only by continually (daily) checking the website was this eventually detected. Presumably, the notification alert from my e-mail possibly initiated action. I have no easy way of knowing and is... unknown. Gas payment was duly made. Two days later, letters dated 14th September 2010 were delivered stating that both electricity and gas payments were now overdue. Red reminders. The electricity bill had been settled on 11th September 2010 and can be proven by a dated receipt. This clearly shows that the date explicitly printed on the electricity bill 'Red reminder' had already been prepared with the 'payment by' advice date.

The gas payment was made on 17th September 2010 and so falls outside the 'payment by' discount (2.5%) date. However, my attempt to pay this was 11th September 2010 and inside this specified date. The disappearance of my account details that prevented this payment happening was nothing to do with me. When my next payment becomes due (29th November 2010), I will be in a position to know how to proceed: pay promptly or delay until the 'Red reminder'. The small discount (2.5%) will then clearly be sacrificed, but...

An e-mail was received dated 20th September 2010 (9 days after my initial alerting memo) advising that payments had been made: electricity on 11th September 2010 and gas on 17th September 2010.

It's as though everything was suspended around 14th September 2010 to capture all the unfortunate (and, of course, unexpected) errors and later, as though nothing had happened, just... continued.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Those who categorically ridicule homeopathy as wrong only demonstrate their own ignorance of the obvious. Multiple dilution of a solution does not result in nothing. It just dilutes it. Somewhat different to what the anti-homeopathy brigade alleges. To state complete disappearance is idiotic non-logic.

What is it that infuriates this lobby? This is possibly orchestrated by the pharmaceutical industry, since homeopathy is a threat to their massive monopoly. The active in a drug may only be a few mg (say 10mg) dose for an 'average' 80kg, but the therapeutic dosing level may be met in micrograms. For the 100kg individual (not uncommon), less than 10mg moves towards a 1:1000 weight ratio. Not much. Microgram quantities are 1000 times less than this - that's 1 millionth (0.000001 part) of a gram. Similar (realistic and comparable) quantities to homeopathic remedies.

  • Why is it imagined that a synthetic drug is any more active (and more or less dangerous) than a natural product. Consider the very small and lethal (to humans) dose of some poisons: curare or strychnine.
Patients requesting a possible homeopathic solution to any dis-ease clearly infers the threat to (more and more) dangerous pharmaceuticals. More potent actives require less of the drug. The economics should be apparent: less drug per patient represents a greater return to the manufacturer. However, the more potent the drug, the more potentially dangerous and it becomes easier to accidentally overdose or experience a serious adverse drug reaction. The absolute reliance on doctors can also a very BIG (psychological) issue. A decreasing faith in modern drugs demonstrates the issue and in itself can fuel dis-ease.

It's so pathetically obvious.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Human Egg Donation

The live birth-rate around the globe is the single and most important issue facing the survival of planet Earth. The human activity that is the greatest threat is not consuming fossil fuels and the alleged global warming, but mankind's predilection with greed and selfishness. Not all of mankind, but certainly the more (self-congratulatory) advanced (!) societies. And thereby being a consumer under the control of commerce. It seems that the more 'advanced' the society the more 'backward' it becomes. An apparent paradox.

The amount of drinking water is in decline as building with cement and concrete accelerates along with a growing (global) population. Stories of natural disasters around the world, however regrettable, simply illustrate the growing problem. Human tragedy is always a good lure to the TV companies... to create more finance. Selling lucrative stories and the advertising revenue it attracts (parasitical behaviour) is always commercially viable. Advertising revenue rises with the amount of devastation. The population growth is perversely (and cynically) encouraged as the consumer population continues to grow.

The desire to watch bad news is still very popular as long as the bad news happens to someone else. What is the psychological driver for bad news? Why do people seem to enjoy bad news, though outwardly appearing moved? Guilt possibly as they become aware that they demonstrate poor (greedy and selfish consumer) behaviour when so many others have so clearly lost everything. These graphically destitute people live a truly dire existence when from an armchair and watching real stories the realisation is one of the awfulness of it all. At least offering a helping hand is something in the right direction. The problem is that the TV gets swithched off, but the mental images get turned off and forgotten as well.

The amount of waste in food terms is grotesque when around the world there are huge numbers of starving people. The upbeat talk of there being enough food to go around is obviously the justification to make money and appease the more sensitive minded. It is not uncommon to see those with sufficiency generally being the ones who don't care much as they are too involved with self. Those who are less sufficient, but reasonably comfortable, are not able or willing to change. It is always for someone else to act and not the one who feels upset by unfairness. It's all part of the human psyche: "the problem isn't mine, it belongs to someone else" mindset.

Human egg and sperm donors could receive payments of £800 under proposals to to solve shortages in the supply. On the global stage, overgrowth problems threaten human existence so the claimed shortage in supply is complete rubbish as an argument. The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) imposes a £250 ceiling on payments to avoid commercialisation of the procedure: obtaining eggs and sperm. Unknown sources of these two procreation essentials are statistically likely to generate mutants. It remains unclear why there is the alleged shortage of both sperm and eggs. Unless, of course, the financial implications are considered. There is no genuine medical reason to encourage the birth-rate, but there are good reasons to reverse it. But these do not engage money-making processes (to commercial enterprises) and so are ignored.

  • Research is the most likely answer, but into what? Or to produce what?
Within a globalised growing population there is hardly a problem with conception in general around the world. The real issue is those who cannot have children (and usually there is a biological reason for a failure to conceive). The greater the population the greater the chances of accidental inbreeding within a local area. Many find partners in very different locations, but many more settle locally. Creating a glut of eggs/sperm will increase the statistical chances of 'accidents' happening. This defines the absence of accident and the introduction of stupidity. The potential problems should be obvious.

When a human-engineered conflict (war) begins it will eventually terminate. After a great deal of death and destruction that feeds the human procreation programme: produce more humans and rebuild (at an economic advantage to the construction industry) the destroyed human societies. The human growth problem will not terminate and will continue creating worse scenarios. There can be no let up of reduction in the problems when talk is about providing finance that will make global problems worse.

Of course, the real need is to create more female eggs so that research can continue. What kind of research is never explained other than attempts to justify with the eradication of mostly genetically-based health issues. A growing population will almost certainly experience exponential health issues. The scenario is self-sustaining. More people, the more health problems expected. But the financially lucrative consumer population grows. The waste also grows, but the energy consumed to create the waste continues to promote healthy financial markets for the energy suppliers.

Earth Mantle: Drilling Into An Artery

Plans are underfoot to 'bleed the Earth'. The technical difficulties of succeeding in this concept are enormous, but the real issue is: why should it happen at all? Best guess is that oil is thought to be obtainable. The motivation to overcome these difficulties then becomes very clear and it would seem the origin of Earth's dwindling oil reserves is less clear than is imagined. High risks are considered in the pursuit of wealth and the dangers are probably ignored. An abiogenic mechanism would overturn current thinking and science would have to rethink the entire geology theories of the Earth. The cost of the Chikyu vessel is reported to be $540m. This does not include (apparently) the operating expenses, but it would appear that before operating within alleged limitations (as the story depicts), it must spend months in the search for oil. What bad 'luck'! The overall outlay is enormous, like this vessel. Ostensibly to study Earth tectonics and help predict earthquakes. Earthquake occurrences cannot necessarily be predicted, but the locations of highest risk are quite apparent: at or near the boundaries and the intersecton of tectonic plates.

  • Its mission is to drill into the tectonic plates and potentially into the earth's mantle. It is anticipated that research will play an important role in understanding the 'principles of tectonic movement' and 'earthquake prediction'. Chikyu uses the riser drilling system for conducting upstream oil and gas industry activities.
  • The equipment and material include a riser pipe, drill pipe, downhole measurement tools and devices, and an artificial drilling vessel. In addition, a blow out preventer ensures safe drilling in unexpected high pressure flows of oil and gas and other fluids from the well.
  • When drilling, to prevent reservoir pressure suddenly forcing its way back up the drillpipe, there is a blow out preventer system. This weighs 380t, stands 14.5m high and can withstand a pressure of 103MPa. Because of the water depths, the drillship has a riser drilling and a riserless drilling option.
  • Results are expected, not only to provide clues to the role of a subsurface biosphere left untouched deep under the sea, but also to help understand the mechanism of microbial methane generation and gas transport in seafloor sediments.
  • The expedition also expects to reveal the relationship between the extents of subseafloor microbial communities and methane commonly found at high concentration in the hydrothermal fluids, and the formation of hydrothermal mineral deposits.
The background spiel (lengthy or extravagant speech or argument usually intended to persuade) does not explain such a large outlay unless there is a non-disclosed motive that offers very large rewards. The search for gas and oil fields (commonly found near one another, since they are directly related) is a prime candidate. The dangers of deep sea drilling have been exposed by the recent débâcle in the Gulf of Mexico.

The image of an erupting volcano should serve as an example of the probable consequences, though on a minuscule scale. If a human or any animal artery is severed or punctured the outward pressure forces blood to leave the body with potentially disasterous consequences. When the body dies and the internal pressure ultimately falls and bleeding will... stop. Unless there is a very good reason, it is madness to damage an artery. A breached vehicle fuel tank will eventuate in the failure of the vehicle. The pressure within the Earth's mantle is unimaginably high and once ruptured it would be... impossible to stop. The human body has a very limited amount of blood. The content of the Earth's mantle is by comparison limitless.

The mantle is also radioactive. The heat generated within the mantle (up to 6000°C) is similar to the 'surface' temperature of the Sun. Incidentally, when climate change (or global warming) is discussed, the heat radiated by the Sun is always cited, but never the internal heat source of the inner Earth! Heat captured and retained from without is in competition with the heat trapped from within.

That never gets out!

Universities: Income Source

The easier entry access to university (tertiary) education is a source of income paid for by those being educated. The future of a country is in the maturing generations. This is a realistic forward-looking projection for 'growth', but the future generation is cynically being financially charged for its own advancement. Everything and anything has value... to someone else. But that value must be realised... now. This is a similar principle to buying a property and paying in full before a single brick has been placed.

The need for poor students arises from the presupposition that a poor student will require a student loan to cover tuition fees and living costs. It's predictable that any rise in tuition fees will see the inevitable profiteering from accommodation rents being raised. A student from a wealthy background is less likely to need money by way of loans. The debt for the poor begins right up at the front and will ultimately benefit the wealthy through the cost subsidy. The more students (many undertaking degree courses that possibly lead nowhere), the more revenue gained and all at the future expense of the new graduate. The minimum realistic grade that will sustain the entry-exit with a government financial gain is probably the 2.2. The cynical truth is revealed by virtue of the non-degree. This is an appalling betrayal. It's greed and social engineering at its worst.

Currently, a pass at 'A' level is an expectation of A* to be regarded as anything worthwhile. That's ridiculous and pass numbers are expected to reach almost 100%. This strongly suggests 'dumbing-down' and the reason can only be to enlarge the student population eligible for university entrance. Should a large number decide it is not a sensible choice to buy-into a massive future debt, the increased possibles should offset the actual number dis-interested in a now doubtful quality university education and NOT going onto tertiary education. The general (average) university will be charging the highest fees (£9000 a year for 3-years = £27,000 excluding a possible 30 years' interest) for possibly a second-rate degree from an appropriate university.

  • The term 'dumbing-down' is not intended to mean 'making the 'A'-level easier' simply by way of a less demanding content, but the manipulated method of modular work. Aggregation of module marks that go forward to the overall result. Historically, an 'A'-level course would have been 2 years at the end of which there was a final exam. The entire workload of those 2 years was examined in one exam, probably a 3-hour single exam. Maybe even two 3-hour papers. ('O'-levels were over 5-years.) The modular method has many parts of the course examined close to the time of learning during the 2 years. This means that retention/revision is less demanding at the end of the 2 years.
  • Another very important difference is that the pass-mark was not established until all the papers had been marked and recorded. The reason for this was that it is not easy to judge the difficulty of a question when being devised and written. Should it have been a difficult question then the marks would generally be lower. If easier then more papers would have received high marks. To ensure balance and fairness across the entire set of papers (nationally) the passmark for all grades (A -> E) may be raised or lowered accordingly. The issue with modules is that unless the same procedure is employed, the mark is recorded at the time of marking (ahead of the 2 year course completion) and left unchanged. The result is a distortion of the balance across the whole set of national papers.
    • What happens when the number of successful candidates reaches 100% with A** grades? Perhaps it will escalate to ++++A****? Employers are NOT fools. The degree may simply be the ticket for an interview. The graduate then needs to sell him/her self. An interview for a professional position would certainly involve a real situation test: the Technical Interview. This tests true ability to do the job and not just acquire good 'grades'. These do not necessarily mean much. If everyone obtains several A*s, what differentiates any one pupil from any other? The university that confers the degree will also count for a great deal.
    • The manipulation can be introduced by NOT making allowance for easy/difficult questions. A slightly less difficult/demanding question can have a much larger positive effect on the students' chances of success. The intention in any exam should be to stretch and challenge the pupil to test whether any course work is actually understood. It can be easy to simply calculate an answer using a known procedure, but questions should be worded to determine if the student understands the reasoning behind the question. One well-constructed 'deeper' question is much more testing than several simply factual questions.

    Regurgitation of facts by themselves
    can never be enough

    Tuition Fees in the UK have escalated by 900% since September 1998 when they were introduced (£1000) to £3290 ( = x3.29 in 2010/2011) and then in 2012/2013 up to a £9000 ( = a further escalation of x2.73) maximum (for now - DA). Like any interest rate on any loan this can be increased at any time in the future and any number of times. A 30-year repayment term may see (will see - DA) many increases over the term. If you're English and wish to study abroad, the fees can be less (a great deal less - DA) than in the UK. But being English in a UK country, but not England, means being penalised. The system traps everyone and there is no escape and the system seems to work on the assumption that students expect a good-time with their friends (very expensively) and are not guided by their head to target the BEST option.


    The low-paid graduate will subsidise the high-earner. The top-earner is more able to pay off a student loan than a low-earning graduate.

    • Nicholas Barr, professor of public economics at the London School of Economics, told a National Union of Students debate last week (24th March 2009) that the current university funding system benefited high-earning City workers able to pay off their loans quickly, while those on low incomes were saddled with debt for many years.
    • This has not improved (18th August 2011) and is similar, but now actually potentially worse.
    Clearing houses (UCAS) will attempt to marry-up an eligible student with any placement should the university of choice be oversubscribed (it will be, of course as there will be too many successful A-level students - DA). To imagine that pass-rates can increase towards 100% is absolutely unbelievable unless the exam pass requirements are severely lowered. The obvious objective is to simply increase the number caught in the trap to then be eligible for grotesque debt.

    Note added: 20.08.2011

    • The number of students seeking a place through clearing rose to 195,415 according to UCAS. Apparently, 18,000 calls chased after just 40 places (unspecified) in Salford University (ranked at 97 out of 116) and, although not in the clearing process, 10,500 calls were enquiring about 100 vacancies from its waiting list. Confirmed placements reached 401,957 (an increase of 7721), despite the grotesque hike in fees.

    • It remains to be seen how many are careful to ensure that the course is appropriate and not just an opportunity to experience university life. This will prove to be very, very expensive experience. The need to go and the need for the right place to go are crucial in any objective decision.

    Student Tuition Fee Trap

    The more students, the greater the financial yield. It's so obvious it's nauseating. The betrayal of a generation (just to begin with - DA). The wealthy will have a clear run at the best places, and the web-like connections network, will just about guarantee career placements. The less rewarding jobs will distill down to everybody who's left. The poor will be less likely to be able to pay off a loan. The interest on the debt will just continue to grow. The older graduate will probably buy property (mortgage with interest) and increase any personal debt MASSIVELY.

    David Willets (Minister for Universities and Science) claims that a loan/debt for tuition fees is not like a mortgage? Fascinating. Unconscionable. Debt could remain up to 30 years, but Willets will be gone (NOT - DA) soon enough. Who truly believes that everybody will obtain a well-paid job - £30,000 -> +£50,000? Businesses don't exist to pay good wages. They pay wages sufficient to attract suitable staff.
    Any company only needs enough staff to make profits for (increase share prices) the business.

    Cynically, the purchase (a mortgage is just ANOTHER loan) comes AFTER the purchase of an education. Debt -> interest -> profit for doing nothing. The illusion is that a 'quality' university education is open to all (a growing number).

    Of course, it isn't

    It never was and it never will be

    A government (especially Tory-controlled) could never sanction any motive that isn't driven by greed and control and the benefit of the already wealthy.

    • Don't be surprised: it's the exclusive group that the Tories have always championed. Themselves - DA

    Student Loans: Elitism And Hypocrisy

    Be aware that interest begins at day-1 of the 1st installment (of 'just' £9000) and interest will accrue every day after that. Interest due on the maximum amount before any repayment can be repaid (before 3-years assuming that a job is required to pay back any 'loan'). Undergraduates don't repay loans. Graduates repay loans and begin after a minimum of three years later. And all that accrued interest from day-1. Of course, any undergraduate who does not stay the entire course and successfully graduates, will still have to repay the loan so far advanced. Completely tied up. And trapped.

    The important move is to get a student onto the university's books so that charging the student can begin well before a degree is conferred. A degree is not a right and has to be worked for, but employment still has to be found after the event. That is of no further concern to the university or the government, but the debt must be serviced. The jobs market is in a terrible decline and made worse by the unstoppable growth of the global population. More and more graduates chase fewer and fewer jobs. The scenario must simply get worse and there is no change viewable on the horizon.