Tag Archives: UK

Creative ambiguity, Scottish independence, and sudden death

17 Sep

Fascinating little post by Tyler Cowen:

Many political unions subsist on creative ambiguity.  That is, if the right question were posed, and the citizenry forced to answer it definitely, political order might spin out of control.

Canada, Belgium, and indeed the entire European Union seem to be organized on this basis.  It’s not quite that everyone thinks they are getting their way, but rather explicit concessions are not demanded for each loss of control embodied in the broader system.  Certain rights are held in reserve, with the expectation that they probably will not be exercised, but they can nonetheless influence the final bargaining equilibrium.

Most international treaties rely on some degree of creative ambiguity, as do most central banks, with their semi-promises of bailouts but “not too much not too certain you know” as the default.  You might like the mandated outcome (or not), but I doubt if it would improve political discourse in the United States to have an explicit thumbs up vs. thumbs down referendum on abortion.

Many partnerships and marriages rely on creative ambiguity too.  Should the Beatles have forced Lennon and McCartney to specify who had the final say over each cut?  That probably would have led to a split in 1968 and there would be no Abbey Road.  Must parties to a marriage specify the entire division of chores and responsibilities in advance?

via Creative ambiguity, Scottish independence, and sudden death.

Aka, what you don’t say may keep you whole.


Devolution: the basics | DEVOLUTION MATTERS

12 Sep

Aka smaller is better.

In essence, devolution is a way of enabling Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to have forms of self-government within the United Kingdom. The UK Parliament has conferred various sorts of legislative powers on the elected Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly to do this.

via Devolution: the basics | DEVOLUTION MATTERS.

The Next Big Thing in Green Energy: Floating Wind Turbines – Technology – The Atlantic Wire

23 Apr

Wind power, you see, is one of the few natural resources the United Kingdom has a lot of. Smartplanet reports that “the UK has more offshore wind capacity than any other country,” but the problem is most of the steady, heavy winds blow over parts of the ocean that are too deep to build foundations to. So floating turbines, which stay in place via cables anchored to the seafloor, make sense. But they’re still very much experimental technology. The first-ever floating turbine went into operation off Norway in 2009, and today Norway’s still the most advanced in the field. The U.S. and U.K. want to catch up, and they’re willing to pay to do so. So if you’ve got some plans lying around for a design you think might work, now’s the time to pitch them.

via The Next Big Thing in Green Energy: Floating Wind Turbines – Technology – The Atlantic Wire.

Resilience in a Small English Town

9 Mar

Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition movement, did a case study of the transition movement in Totnes for his PhD thesis, Localisation and Resilience at the Local Level: The Case of Transition Town Totnes. Writing in a review of Hopkins’ thesis, Frank Kaminski note that Hopkins draws a broad general conclusion: “the Transition approach has been effective in generating community engagement and initiating new enterprises.” Beyond this Hopkins has noted that, Totnes

could supply nearly all of its own food needs, the only exceptions being foods that require soil types not indigenous to the region. As for energy, Hopkins shows that local renewables could meet half of total demand, and that efficiency measures could make up the difference. On the subject of housing, he says that demand could easily be met with local materials (e.g., straw bales, earth, lime, car tires and other recycled objects, hempcrete and cob) but that ramping up current natural building efforts to a commercial scale has proven difficult. Lastly, with regard to transport, Hopkins notes Totnes’ high level of automobile use and suggests that a crucial step in reducing it will be to sway people’s attitudes.

Kaminski concludes by noting that, while England “shares much of America’s oil vulnerability, it’s easier to get around there without fuel, since the area was settled long before the reign of the automobile.”