Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bad Science. Good Blog.

I've mentioned this chap before.

Decided to write a year-end big up to him and hope we may do something to burst a few bubbles together in the coming year.

'Keep 'em coming!

It is a rare treat to see such deserving bubbles burst (I was going to add with pricks usually on the inside) with humour and wit. Sort of an iron fist inside a multi-striped, open- fingered woolly mitten.

The only shame is that so many that should not continue after such exposure still do, and how so few who one would imagine are tasked to take note have the talent, energy, commitment, passion and plain balls to do doing anything substantive to put things right. Perhaps it's because it can take more than the span of a few headlines. So they just sail on in their ratings-worshiping, target-meeting, agenda-driven, vote-catching, index-linked, gold-plated ways, and concern themselves more with feeding off hype rather than seeing the long-term damage it does.

If you'd ever like to turn your attentions to the world of the environment, I'd suggest there are rich pickings already, with more to come. There's money to be made in them thar 'green' hills. But not everyone seems to be too concerned with the scientific facts in separating those who are sincere from theirs, in the name of saving the planet. From governments down (or up, depending on your views).

Anyway, a Happy New Year to you!"

Friday, December 29, 2006

Firefighting with pound notes?

OK, so there are no more £ notes. Bear with me.

Bearing in mind that we are starting to hear the first glimmers of printed carbon footprints on things we buy (my initial thoughts: great in theory, probably necessary, but on present evidence the practice will simply make things worse, expect for those involved who will make a killing consulting and administering it) I found these two pieces worth pondering as the health aspects of what we consumer are further ahead in the whole politico/legislato/lobbyo/mediaballyhoo mix than environment:

Food agency takes on industry over junk labels

Why Kellogg's saw red over labelling scheme

Those tasked with looking after us seem to have an addiction to 'communication'. To someone whose careers, past, present and future, revolve around this, that would seem a good thing. But I do see a rather unhealthy trend to taking an easy option, namely an 'ad campaign', which may be visible, may well cause a blip in target measurement, but costs a heck of a lot to a poor ROI.

Much as I'd blooming well hope the multi-millions of our money 'invested' in improving recycling rates (and champagne toasts in agencies, government departments, quango, recycling company and council offices to the profits (and returned?) made a careers forged) did manage a few %, I still question if that was/is the best use of such vast amounts.

So now we have directors and departments scooting off to SoHo and shoots to create an air something that the very industry it's targeted at won't wear and can swamp in a weekend's ad spend.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending the 'industry' in any way. But isn't it amazing commerce, authorities and even the media can compartmentalise?

I know the issue du jour here is health, but with greenwashing so last month, but doubtless back 'in' the next, I can't help but raise an eyebrow at this:

"Early last year Kellogg's flew a handful of journalists in a private jet to its Old Trafford cornflakes factory."

Nice work if you can get it. I guess they may have felt it rude to ask why a train ride would not have sufficed.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bite your lip

Over the Christmas period there have been many re-runs and screenings of old favourites. One such was the 'Back to the Future' trilogy. For its day it was a technical tour de force, but also, deep down, was a message in there.

The main protagonist, Marty McFly, is a decent, passionate, short hothead, who just can't back down. Within the mighty Junkk organisation is one such: me. I can't stand hypocrisy, rudeness, cheating, incompetence... plus a load of other stuff. More than this, it frustrates me to see such unfair and/or inefficient manifestations get let alone to spread and prosper. Especially when levelled by bullies at those less able to defend themselves. So I weigh in.

I'd like to think I do so with humour and civility, but the fact is, where a lot of friends and colleagues say 'drop it', I just can't. The words of Pastor Martin Neimoller ring too loud in my mind to commit another oft quoted sin of omission: 'Evil only prevails when good men [it was pre-PC]... guys... do nothing'.

But in the same way my kids are told not to lie, but White ones/fibs are OK for the right reasons, I think I have to get a grading system in place and learn to restrain myself on occasion to end up with a better result.

The problem is I like to debate and, frankly, win. In writing. And especially when I feel I am right or, more nobly, when the other party is wrong and an attempt needs to be made to correct them in the hope of avoiding repetition.

But just as Marty McFly eventually discovers that there are only losers all round when you race with those who don't know when to back off, so must I.

I think I'm learning. I really wanted to make the BBC minions explain with to sincerity to a senior person in their organisation who could hurt their careers how they understood why using a monolithic entity and its reputation and its resources to threaten a legitimate, lone questioner was not really on. But I decided to leave that one at the non-apology and move on.

I really wanted to take apart the obsessive poster on the SKY Big idea website, who with each blow by humour and logic I inflicted, came back with ever more irrational and extreme versions of 'bring it on', like some manic Black Knight from Monty Python's Holy Grail. But I realised it had got to a point where it was moving this person to a dark place, and serving my/our interests no purpose any more. I'm hoping their threats and abuse as the last post will serve as suitable epitaph to any who read it.

And so I was this morning going to reach for the keyboard and reply to the replies of a few disgruntled new 'registrants' who seemed unable to to accept that they had been unnecessarily cruel, critical and/or not very thorough (though we must at Junkk accept a failing for still not getting our instructions and warnings clearly enough labelled), and my post (adapted to an FAQ we sent to them) was a sincere attempt at generic explanation but also a plea for understanding. But I did not. They are few, and as is the way have taken precious time away from the many who either coped, didn't mind, didn't see a problem or simply managed, and are now quietly working with us.

The shame of it is that these guys cared enough to write, and often had valid points or suggestions.

But boy, when someone calls it 'whinging' when the simple answer to the 'ridiculous, anti-American... [insert further rant here] postcode registration system' accusation is that we can't afford to pay for the US (or any other) system yet, and simply ask they pop in a UK one for now, it's hard not to wish to point out just how many unpleasant words they used in their email, how many clear online instructions and explanations they chose to ignore to get so wound up, and how it is so simple just to live in the bitter world they prefer to inhabit and leave the rest of us to get on and share info and even critiques in a pleasant and mutually rewarding way.

But I bit my lip.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Money goes where it gets made

A rather typical festive post from a usual suspect, one suspects: 'Tis the season to be wasteful

He's right, of course, if a little bit too 'don't/nanny' for the season*. And you do wonder who it is targeted to is reading it. But the replies were interesting. I especially liked the fact that a certain monopolistic govt. quango with millions to (spend on) waste (but not us), was mentioned a few times. It seems like a few others are not sure what they do, whether they do whatever it is well at all, and who is accountable for the ROI we are covering for offices, staff, boards, salaries and pensions.

My addition:

'We could, of course, also consider the benefits of reuse (and repair).

While recycling is vastly more significant (after reduction) in the great Re-scheme of things, other than to those with boxes to tick and targets to meet it can often be less stimulating. The sense of doing our bit is a great one, but let's not forget the individual is doing a lot of work standing at the kitchen sink each night separating stuff, boosting other folks' profits or career-making quotas. So it's a shame that it still takes millions of our money to tell us that a can can become a plane or another can, to achieve 'significant increases in our rates' (that's recycling rates, not local taxes). Or injecting more public cash into ways to catch the public when they get confused with cotradictory or inadequate initiatives. So I'm hoping to see a lot more incentive based schemes in 2007 and a little less of the 'fine first' stuff we've been seeing this last year.

Reuse is directly and tangibly rewarding personally, often quite a lot of fun, and can save some time (all those trips out to buy something that's been lurking in the back of a cupboard all along), some money (if it's junk in your home it's free, and simply gains in value as junkk) and the planet (no reprocessing energy/consequences in collection, etc).

And, best of all, it provides an immediate sense of making a difference in your own home.

Today I'm making a Warhammer Necron Monolith with my kids out of bits and bobs from blister packs and debris from other plastic presents (not everything is practical to avoid). It's going to be unique, awesome, the envy of their mates and save me thirty odd quid... I hope (to the awesome claim).

Season's Greetings!'

*I'm hoping mine comes across as a bit more you can do rather than not do. 'It's is the way of Junkk, Grassshopper'.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bad Aunty. Good Aunty.

That last post (about getting a bit of grief from overseas visitors) we've traced to 'a' programme on the BBC World Service. I've asked if they can help narrow it down.

As mentioned, it is to be hoped that it was complimentary, in which case we have a lot to be thankful for. Though I would wish they just got in touch first to get the full story (like mentioning we do have some limitations to international visitors) and so's we can listen and get a copy.

Anyway, a bit of a year-end plus, on balance.

Speaking of which (balance that is), I guess I need to put to bed the whole Working Lunch episode, mentioned before (wouldn't it be great to have a way to quickly cross-reference to previous posts?).

Having told the complaints guys I didn't think 'we didn't mean anything by it, and anyway when we asked you a question we didn't bother to read the reply' quite cut it, I asked to go further up the chain.

That didn't happen. What I got was some guy call me who said he had thoroughly investigated, and 'we didn't mean anything by it, and anyway when we asked you a question we didn't bother to read the reply'.

This was looking like going in circles and, with 2007 beckoning, I reckoned one less minor fight for a fresh new year was the least worst option. So I accepted whatever it was, even though it was not an apology.

The BBC is not doing too well at the moment. There are some knives out, from other media to the political establishment. I'd say they needed all the mates they could get, and this process did/does not seem like the best way. It is no good having a complaints procedure if the intention is to make it go away rather than address it.

Anyway, Aunty is a vast and on the whole fine outfit, staffed with mostly dedicated, talented folk. I just hope I get to meet a few more of these guys in the next year's promotion efforts.

Sergey, Larry... and me

That sounds like the title of some critically-acclaimed, but financially doomed movie that was all the rage at an art festival in a mid-Western US (we'll come back to that country, and a few others, later) resort last year.

There is not much I have in common with the founders of Google. They are billionaires, atop a squillion-making media empire. They have each other, and oodles of staff. And I'm pretty sure there are a few munchkins in the mix to cop the flak, if and when it comes.

I do not.

But we do share a few similarities.

We have created websites (in their case Google and, more pertinently to this blog, Blogger). They did so hoping to make money (in their case... well... we'll leave that for now), but also made their service free. And if theirs can go 'a la direction d'une poire' on occasion, so can mine (it's more buggy than the Louisiana Bayou or Northern Queensland in mid-summer), and it frequently does. They just have a few more resources to make theirs work better, and fix them, and I don't.

Even so, despite the squillions and the staff, as it's all free, I find it hard to be too hard on them when it all does go not according to best plan, 'cos... it's free. So when I write in (as you will see I did recently on the blog thread below), it is with understanding and constructively critical feedback. Because I truly believe they have great products, don't really mind that they are using them to make some dough, 'do no evil', etc, because I know the score, read the FAQs, and voluntarily gave them my details because I believe that they are in sincere in trying to make them as good and useful as it all can be.

I sometimes wish that others cut me and the same slack.

But let's start with some good news. Sometime, over the last few days, it seems a BBC radio show beamed globally and told the world about us, I truly hope in glowing terms (why can't they tell us, or better yet ask a few questions first to make sure they understand us). I'm guessing so, because we have a lot of new sign-ups as a consequence. I mean A LOT.

Most are now sitting in our database, able to use most (we'll come back to this, too) of our facilities, and now capable (if they have tuned their SPAM filter) of getting our newsletter. Shame they missed the Xmas edition.

But a few had a poor experience, and for this I am truly sorry. And some wrote in, for which I am truly grateful, because they cared enough to do so. But though a few prefaced or ended their feedback with 'like what you are trying to do', a few were a little harsh for the Season of Goodwill, especially to be read by a lone guy who has returned to his humble home office PC early Boxing Day before the kids wake up, to keep his other 'baby' ticking over as near to 12/24, 345/365 (I'm getting a Blackberry soon, I hope, to make it 365/365).

Their grievances were/are legitimate, and I... we... (my poor, got-a-day-job-but-knows-some-HTML (I don't)-wife) are aware of all and try and address them as best we can.

But as we can't address them all... yet... and have still evidently not explained things well enough on the site (Notice: We're aware of some postcode changes lately that our system cannot yet accept. Please bear with us while we work on it, and if you get an error, pop in the closest that works... When you register, you will receive a confirmation email, usually instantly (or at least very soon), to the address you have entered above, to which you will need to reply to activate the account), I will try to do so here, all over the site and in the next newsletter in the hope of some understanding, cutting of slack and, maybe, with luck the offer of positive solutions.

The critiques are falling into these areas:


A lady in the US successfully sued McDonalds because the coffee she stuck between her thighs to drive away with was not labeled as hot, and it was a surprise when it scalded her when she braked (it's surprising that she didn't get the car maker for not advising that things move internally when you apply them).

We can't afford such litigation. And we won't attract sponsor data or ideas if they can run a similar risk.

Plus, on top of everything, our content is user-generated, so we cannot be on top of it all, all of the time (especially as we're low on munchkin support). We rely on being told of an abuse, and getting to it asap.

So when a Junkk user emulates a reuse concept with a Coke can and tin snips, that's between them and the A&E surgeon's skill in getting the pinky sown back on. But we have tried wherever possible to put in warnings.

We have also tried to comply with all the very latest data protection stuff. Opt-ins, rather than outs. We can't see what more we can do. The site is free, the options to use it are clear and voluntary (not coming back being one). We would hope that those who do see our value would support us by allowing our commercial model to kick in using their traffic and eyeballs. We don't see an occasional ad or better yet offer about some green product/service being too onerous. And there is always the unsubscribe button.


The site was dreamt up in the UK. It was created here. It is run here. One nifty feature we put in from the outset was a localisation feature, so we could matchmake information from one area with folk who may be interested in that same area - JunkkYard, news, products, services.

No way of knowing where you are... no can do.

We specified the site, and to an extent designed it. But in so doing also took a lot of (very expensive) advice from consultants in doing so. Guys who work for eBay, Amazon, etc.

Our registration is based on these systems. A few key facts are asked, and then a very common security system kicks in.

An email goes back to 'your' email to make sure 'you' are 'you'. Which you then confirm, with a password. That way we know who we are dealing with (no spammers trying to access our system) and you know we are looking after your best interests.

Sometimes firewalls and filters intercept this and there's not much we can do to help that. So we have polite reminder to find out if you really did want to register or not. 999 out of 1000 say 'yes'.



Money to pay for the postcode (we looking at £1000 to upgrade the UK alone)/zipcode/ozcode/bundescode/barcode data for the countries. Money to handle the admin of coordinating the flood of issues that would result (imagine getting a question from Tulsa or Woolagong or Narita asking where the local blue glass collection is? We do, still, try to answer), though we are trying to make this all as community and self-help based as we can. But country/county/state coordinators are in the plan and if anyone wants to volunteer... (for now, we do believe in re:ward for re:use, so if you make us money, we'll happily share, once it kicks in). Or, if you do know of any like-minded folks in your country who might be interested in partnering/franchising this project, we would be most delighted to be in touch with them.

And money to evolve the site to cope. Servers. Finding stuff out. Calling people to check. Buying things to review. And uploading it all.

Professional programmers are not cheap. They hire Linda Evangelista to get them out of bed (which she famously claimed she would not do for less than £10k) to tweak some code. And between the bugs, the glitches, the odd new feature I really, really want, and things like making our registration system international, for now the cheque Mum gave me for Xmas ain't going to cover one keystroke.

But, one day, it will. Because, one day, a major marketer - or two, or three... - will take out a dirty great big banner ad on our site, or sponsor our newsletter to reach you, our audience, to sell their second use pack, hybrid car, rechargeable battery, etc. And on that day, I will pay our family back for 8 years' investment, pay me a salary for the first time in 10, and if there's any left over pay the Royal Mail, the US Postal Service, Deutsche Post, etc for their codes, and get Linda E to stop hitting the snooze button and roust the SQL whizz from his or her slumbers.



Coincidentally, after posting this, I have had a missive from another, not exactly poor, fairly well staffed, 'tell us a bit about you and click accept here', free online outfit, MySpace:

Hey folks – should I say mates? – We just launched the UK version of MySpace. We're featuring more UK music and some of the features should work better with local postal codes, etc.

As a result, my lawyers told ME what I have to tell YOU: now that MySpace is looking more UK-ish, you should know that we are still running our site from the US, all your data still resides in the US, and that MySpace's data management practices are still governed by US laws.

Click HERE to show me you read this.

We can't afford lawyers at the 'mo either. So with luck the money we spent on them at the outset is still a good investment

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Not going well. I've lost this post twice now.

Anyway, nothing ventured.

I read this today: A tax on the absent-minded

Now while it may seem a bit more political than environmental, we are in an era when it's ok to impose a £1k fine before putting in place adequate means for the public to avoid it ('Bin there, done that.. got the ASBO.

My reply was simple: 'When's the next election? We can soon sort it out then'.

I should have added, 'assuming there will be another election, they way things are going.'

Oh, Blogger!!!!

It has been a short while.

Partly trying to sort a few things out pre-Xmas (like our next newsletter!!! About 16 hrs to write that baby), and mainly that Blogger has 'evolved'.

This is my first post in its new incarnation, and there are a lot of new buttons, some of which look useful, and doubtless I will mess up trying to work.

Making the switch was also not easy. See the comments made by me and fellow beta-blockheads.

Monday, December 18, 2006

More from the more equal...

This chap and I have exchanged views before: A Stern warning

'You find yourself amazed that people are deploying in camps? This was discussed when you accused car journos of being‘selfish’. I felt such absolutes can lead to lines being drawn, and the majority left cowering beneath artillery exchanges of those who think they know best, or at least better than each other, and certainly the rest of us. See what we can read today, from varied but worthy sources: Care needed with carbon offsets - Deal will let airlines carry on polluting - Eat the world

The ‘carbon’ issue is, to me, critical. So I pay heed to those who have sensible things to say, along with credible solutions. Here’s a new word to share – Vorsorgeprinzip – basically, ‘better safe than sorry’. And in this, I believe we are at one. However... We have an all-time low in trust. With a fair reason. Statespersonship has given way to self-interest. Even those once relied upon to be the voice of the public (media) and minority interests (NGOs) are now corporate in structure, with suspect, self-serving agendas. Who to believe? A huge issue we face is population expansion. We can’t handle it now, so no matter how spiffy the toys we deploy, they won’t make much difference, at least in time. It’s an uncomfortable issue, best left to more courageous souls to address. So let’s make the most of what we’ve got and, if possible, make less use of it as well. Who goes first? Drivers? The travel industry? The supermarkets? The utilities? The individual? Trouble is, they all kinda want to stay at the top of the list... human nature. So... leave it to government... who few believe or trust to do anything other than secure revenue to stay in charge. As you point out, do it they must, and will have to. But it’s not as simple as you make out, which brings us back to lines. Some live outside cities. A few through choice; many through circumstance. Most through necessity. So placing the car-load on this segment, simplistically,via cost on fuel or miles (more logical than for drivetrain arrangement), is not going to work. Because . it . would . not . be . fair. Any more than it would hitting someone in a cottage for eco-rates, while an ODPM newbuild on a flood plain gets a subsidy. Equally rationing, while fairer, is a problem allowing that we all share the world’s air (to breathe or pollute). So to avoid a “some of ‘us’ are more equal than others” allusion, you’ll find ‘they’ will need to figure out an equitable trade between ‘us’ and ‘them’, and do it PDQ so we don’t fry. I see fun with a financier or travel writer being given the same allotment as a Kalahari bushman. Done on a global basis, they’re going have to trade with a lot to fly to the annual NYC do. That’s too many negatives, but it’s pragmatic to try to see the totality of the issue, and be at a level of society to sense how those who may not be able to swap a £2k Mondeo for a £17k Prius feels. Or be told by bi-monthly carbon offsetting ski-trippers to forgo a bit of Majorca sun once a year. We’re in it together. So please, while necessary to share the scale of the problem, try and resist the easy route of criticism from on high in fighting a selective cause. That’s why, on a column such as this you will find such spirited views from those who don’t happen to share them, or have other areas of priority they are frustrated at seeing ignored. I'm proactively pushing an area I believe in and can see the potential for making a positive difference: reuse. Concentrate on encouraging the same in your area of expertise, which is automotive. If we have to travel, how do we do it and survive now as families and as a race into the future?'

Also sent it direct to the editor, with this:
ps; I'm guessing the XC90 ad was ironic:)

Make, mend, and/or save?

I got excited by this just now: A more efficient tumble drier - using a vacuum pump?

Couldn't resist a reply and plug:
Interesting. No reason why it shouldn�t work, though I�d imagine you need a mechanism to repeat the process over and over to vent the damp air and provide a fresh dry zone to migrate to, which would require the drum with the clothes to be connected through the spindle to a fairly robust valve/seal arrangement. But certainly the bearing could possibly be reduced, and the power of the motor, if one accepted a level of user participation load and seal.
There�s also some safety issues, but our pressure cooker already scares the willies out of me, so an implosion seems a better risk!

Would the elf and safety guys go for it? Or consumers if it�s a hassle. I�d don�t see the clothes suffering, especially if you pop them in with a dryer ball.

When it�s done, let me know. Of course, it's all still got an eco-cost.

Our dryer died not so long ago and we sealed up the hole in the wall:
and the metal panels are now doing good service as trays and the door as a salad bowl:

(sorry about the loooong URLs - these take you direct, with luck, otherwise you need to register and search)

The non- urgent we hang all week in the conservatory and the urgents dry overnight (and still get fluffy in the void in the cupboard over the immersion heater, despite it now being very well lagged with that bonded blue stuff. We donated the old red lagging locally via JunkkYard:

But at least you can offset the flight... er...

Further to that last post, try this: Care needed with carbon offsets

The operative word here is 'care'.

I have, obviously, been moved to write to the the author:

'In my job (well, hobby for now, until it pays), I am blessed, or maybe more accurately cursed, with sifting through the information and commentary of each day. Acres of print from the great, the good, the hopeful, those with agendas and, like you suspect, those with PRs... and, of course, politicians.

Amongst those I choose to rely upon is the BBC, confident it will be factual, well researched and in context as well as topical, which is why I tend to read it first. And often I pass the most significant on with my blog.

Your posting today was a 'wow'.

But even more so when I connected few dots with one I read a little earlier.

Just about the only vindication I see and hear from enviro-active media and the lite-green consumers they cater to, is that it's fine to ski in Verbier (while the snow lasts, but then the Rockies beckon), so long as you offset.

I do hope what you have shared will give them something to ponder in being satisfied with that equation.'

Sky High?

It's in a major paper, so it must be true: EU deal will let airlines carry on polluting

I'm losing count of the number of debates if been in and am in regarding this, and it all boils down to trust in those who would create and manage (that would be corporations, travel, and financial, and the governments who depend on them, or at least allow themselves to be 'lobbied' - is a 'lob' the same as a 'bung'?) these initiatives for the public to get on board (pun intended).

So, as I couldn't put it any better, let's leave it to Dave of Solarventi:

"And we all thought that the whole concept of the Emissions Trading Scheme was to ensure, at least in the longer term, that the airlines' pollution could somehow be mediated. The above is like saying 'Carry on chaps - we've told the public that the ETS will help save the planet longer term - please don't let on to everybody that you will actually make money out of trading your carbon permits. Oh, please remember to chuck some of the additional free profits we're giving you back to us as additional tax revenue. Just don't tell the man in the street.' Latest football result:- Corporate profits & government taxation combined eleven 3 Climate change & humanity's future 0."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It all still adds up to greed

Another excellent post from Bad Science: (MediaSlut - Ideas) + Money = CorporateWhore

My reply, well, addition:

'Ho, ho, ho (as we say at the Noth Pole, which is due soon to get a beach it seems). He, and Walls, must be so proud.

Actually, he may inadvertently have hit on something, and I have you to thank for pointing it out:

' can have an infinitely good weekend by staying at home and cutting your travel time to zero.'

Actually, that's not too far from a desireable truth, at least environmentally. And, indeed, at this festive time of the year, socially, too. Me, the wife & kids, at home, making new stuff out of old stuff together. Bliss. Merry Xmas.'

Friday, December 15, 2006

Big Brother 2006

It has arrived: This electric radicalism marries green politics with social justice

One from you; one for me... and we'll ignore the rest:

'In my experience the only people who end up benefitting from trading are the traders, and it is in their interests to ensure as much trading happens as possible. So even though they don't actually make anything, they'll have to buzz around a lot finding folk to get carbon credits from, and buyers to sell it too, plus commission.

Hence, on this basis we surely will be unlikely to see a reduction in this 'commodity' as the market will equally surely drive it up to make profits.

And as we are a global economy, breathing the same air, and polluting it unequally with our SUVs, EasyJet skiing flights and second homes, I will be interested who gets to decide how we swap credits with a Kalahari bushman inefficiently burning logs to cook, or a Bangkok klong taxi driver running a 50's V8 with no exhaust, let alone a catalytic converter.

So basically we're giving the right to several billion folk to 'trade' what: 1 long haul, 2 short hauls, 10 train trips, 50 bus rides and 5000 miles in a Prius? If all of us get to use that allotment I'd say we're stuffed by next Xmas.

Or are Polly and the pols suggesting those who don't need cars so much (ie: those in Westminster, Fleet Street and Notting Hill) trade only with those of us who do (those not urban-based to live or work), for the right to fly to their ski villas? And we'll, er, forget about the rest of the poor sods around the planet, who we don’t need worry about, because they're too poor to do either.

Not convinced. But something has to be done to reduce the CO2 globally. I just don't see this as the way to do it. Me, I'll stay at home , travel as little as I can unless I have to.

And also try to DO something NOW by sharing ways to reuse and repair (and reduce and recycle) via http://www., that are free (I'll one day, with luck, make a matchmaking living), add no more to the eco-pot and may even save some money, time and a few cc's of CO2 all round. Certainly can't hurt. Merry Christmas.'

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

All (most of) our Xmases have arrived at once?

Our friend Andrew has sent this. Take advantage of it as your conscience dictates (those poor loves do need the money to survive and make their meagre profits):

'It is illegal for any lender to charge more than the actual admin cost of penalties levied: estimated at £4.50 maximum for a bounced cheque, £2.50 maximum for a DD etc. Lenders no longer use the word 'penalty' in the hope of getting round the law. They now call it a 'service fee'. The Office of Fair Trading has now refused to countenance out-of-court settlements where lenders offer partial repayments as 'goodwill'. You are entitled to full repayment of the previous six years of penalties with interest. No lender has ever contested a repayment of penalties case in court.'

Are penalty charges bank robbery?

How to claim back penalties

The Money Programme's own Bank Commission

Questions for the lenders

Hear no query, see no query, speak no query.

My reply to a Guardian piece: We shouldn't sneer at the goodwill of ethical shoppers

"An interesting commentary, based on interesting articles with equally interesting posts in response.

I have not read the Economist piece, but will try and do so now.

I did read Mr. Hastings', and have to say I think the choice of the word sneer here was unfortunate. It risks the rebuttal being viewed as more emotional and knee-jerk than factual and persuasive. Especially if, as noted, there was a marked lack of substance in support. And, despite having my own website, I'm afraid saying 'check the URL’ doesn't quite cut it, especially when it comes to fmcg brands. The competition for a consumer’s attention (and to sway them) is vast. FairTrade obviously know this, and rather than blow funds on ad campaigns, they have harnessed a very effective PR machine in support, with the willing cooperation of the media. And why not? But ways to go, by all accounts.

I have a great belief in the 'better than nothing' approach, but would stop short of ' don’t ask questions'.

Trust is a delicate thing. And we can ill afford to lose the first waves of those embracing ethical and environmental issues if (big I, big F) they prove to have been rushed into actions not just that prove financially dubious but also ethic/environmentally. You just end up looking dumb and are less likely to risk being burned again.

Far better to establish the credentials clearly and try to (I know it is hard) share the end-benefits understandably to enable reasoned decisions to be made.

I am currently weighing the whole home wind turbine thing having been a keen convert but lacking the funds to plunge straight away. Now I am seeing a lot that makes me wonder if I dodged a bullet. It's one thing to pay double for my juice; that's my choice. But if it's not going to have a worthy enviROI then... hmmmn.

And I wouldn't be addressing this dilemma as I am now but for those who simply asked 'is this the best way?'

My site gets many press releases, and if appropriate I am happy to share a 'better than nothing' as I come across them (your URL awaits FairTrade - your name is mentioned a lot already by others, positively, so it would great to have your pitch in support ) so please if you have such feel free to send them in. But I do now, with limited resources to check, concern myself with provenance chains before committing to an unequivocal endorsement by

That, ultimately, is still up to the individual to discover what they need. But any smart outfit will make it easy for them to do so, and trust in the result."

Interestingly, in several other places I am seeing the trend to 'stop asking questions because [we're worthy, you're just being difficult... etc]'. The best form defence is attck I suppose, but in mnay ways a rational reply that answers can stop the 'fight' right away.

Monday, December 11, 2006

You show me yours...

Green credentials are all the rage. Mr. Brown has shown us his by popping a few quid on a flight and a few p on a litre, so he is now covered.

So I was interested to note two stories from two extremes of the political spectrum. One, in the Mail on Sunday, was about the closure of Post Offices. Won't this tend to make people need to travel more to do their Royal Mail thing? The other, which I actually was surprised had not made it anywhere else (at least that I noticed), was that a pre-budgetary tax raid has ruined an airline carbon reduction scheme.

Telegraph: Stop Jim

Prudent and green, Gordon, prudent and green.

Taking it to the Max

This was interesting: We may yearn to be green, but we can't afford to be gullible

Not so much for the content, which is really nothing new, but that we still find oursleves spinning around the same old 'tis/tisn't cliches. Even those subsequent to my plea:

'I started reading from the top with such hope. I refer of course to the comments posted so far in reply to this article. While buried amongst them there is essentially a potentially valid rebuttal to some of the 'facts' Mr. Hastings has researched and passed on, which would make for an interesting further debate, I end up seeing the same old camps staked out, issuing left-right, urban-country hissyfit swipes.

This is all surely way beyond political inclination or socio-economic aspiration?

Why are we still at a point where someone like myself still feels unable to arrive at some sort of objective conclusion based on factual information and substantive evidence?

Ignoring the aesthetic aspects (I actually find that one outside Reading a wondrous image, though I would concede having scores whirring in my backyard would not be that fun) and financial ROIs (I could live with, or least be prepared to make the sacrifice of extra expense of the energy generation if it takes CO2 out of the air... soon), but the jury still seems out on the overall environmental ROI anyway, which is surety the main point?

I despair of the hot air still being expended by all talk and no action, but Mr. Hastings does have a point that such massive investments have to be proven to be practical solutions. I can't believe the numbers are not now pretty clear, and can be explained in ways for layperson to judge before they support this initiative or that eco-tariff.

I am already backing off a home turbine because it doesn’t look like the numbers do work on any basis. Solar panels are also under question. Even sending a goat for Christmas now seems likened to lobbing in a cluster bomb.

May be such dissent is being sown and fostered by those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Divide and rule? I don’t know. But this makes it all the more critical for those with the passion and belief to not rush those of a lighter-green hue into directions that can backfire and create future resistance to more positive solutions.'

Friday, December 08, 2006

Planet Earth

The above... is a famous BBC show. Quite excellent.

Were it that some of its employees were on the same one as the rest of us.

Back in November, I had occasion to ask a question of the Working Lunch team, and this resulted in a rather odd reply, the consequences of which rumble on to this day.

I recently had a reply from their complaints department:

Thank you for your emails about previous correspondence you've had with
Deputy Editor for Working Lunch. Please accept my sincere

apologies for the delay in responding.

I contacted her and discussed your correspondence to date. Lynne
explained that the reason she posed the question - "May I ask do you use
"see us on the BBC" on all your promotional literature?" was simply because
of the text in the auto signature of your original email to the show. She
was genuinely interested in this and assures me there was nothing sinister
behind this question.

She did not hear back directly from you (please note that if you sent
further correspondence to the Working Lunch team she may not always receive
this due to the sheer volume of email traffic to this inbox).

Reading her initial response to the question posed about the
competition I trust that this answered your concerns on this subject. Lynne
informed me that all the information about the competition should also have
been on the auto-response email you received.

In conclusion, I trust that this explains why Lynne posed this question to
you. If you have any further concerns about this please contact Lynne
directly on the following number: [I'll spare her this].

Thank you, once again, for contacting the BBC and for your patience in
waiting for a response.

Yours sincerely

Divisional Advisor
BBC Information

As the reply seemed to be 'it's between you and the original person you couldn't get a reply from anyway, and nothing to do with us as we have no power or opinion' (shades of Newswatch?), I decided that it wasn't going to end quite yet:

Thank you for your email.

Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding.

No problem. I know you must be busy. And it's not time critical.

I'm still not too satisfied with this I'm afraid. And don't really see any value in going to the trouble of talking to [her] any more. Her interest was... interesting... though obviously fleeting and soon forgotten. But I am glad there was no sinister intent. I just wonder why the question was posed. I've removed it now just in case, and as it is quite old news.

Appreciating how busy you all must be (I too have a good few hundred emails to address daily, many of which I am not paid a salary to address), may I suggest that if such a question is posed, it may be worth having systems in place to accommodate the answers, if only as common courtesy.

Hence I would like to get another view on this as I appreciate you are only in the position of passing on those of the protagonists. So who do I get in touch with now who is outside of the BBC? OFCOM? Board of Governors?

Yours patiently,

Rather deliciously, this is what came back... again:

We are sorry but our email system will not receive your email unless you use one of our pre-formatted webforms. We realise the inconvenience but hope you will understand that this helps us handle the many emails we receive every day more efficiently and makes best use of your licence fee.

I have now readdressed it to the 'black hole' that is our licence fee consumer. Watch this space.

Too PC. No Comment.

BBC - Birth rate 'harms poverty goals'

Twisting the story

You kind of expect it in a Kansas trailer park, but not so much 'North of the River' (that'll teach those cabbies): How could a tornado hit London?

And because it was not expected, I rather leapt to the conclusion that here, if it were needed, was evidence that things are deteriorating, climatically. And frankly I was poised to make this comment when I started reading more.

Thing is, it is not unheard of. And while 'worst in 25 years' makes for a pithy phrase, that kinda means it was worse 25 years ago.

Not to detract from the climate change argument, which I support by advocating we stop wasting stuff and cut down where we can, but it was refreshing not to have seen more 'See, we're all doomed' bandwagon jumpers come out.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

If you don't have enough lemons... borrow them.

This may be cheeky, but if it works it shows that a little ignorance can be a useful thing.

Our hugely complex, vastly expense website currently only allows one picture per article, at least when I upload. And I don't dare ask the IT guys to get out of bed to even quote for making it possible for me to do more.

Thing is, I'd like to add a few more to illustrate stories.

So I have a plan. I'm going to try breaking out the pictures from the blog references, hopefully in sequence. That way blog readers can view above or below (and mayeb the nasty word breask will no longer happen, which is a plus), and I can pop in a URL to site articles to more info visuals. Not elegant, or optimal, but in the spirit of bodge, let's see what happens...

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas - Photo Archive

L2R: The stand. JunkkMale in demo mode. A lot of questions. The panel.

Little Victories

[Lesson 1 - last post of the day at the top, but not necessarily with pictures in the right order]

Just one day away again, and I am struggling to keep up with the backlog.

But this one was worth it. Because, dear reader, last night's jaunt to London was a) fun and b) ended with a bit of a result.

We were there for 'Dreaming of a Green Christmas' at the Science Museum's Dana Centre.

A hundred were invited, and I'd say sixty or so turned up, and it was a pretty packed affair at that.

I'll let the link take you to who was there, but it was an eclectic mix and I learned a fair bit.

Met some nice folk, from co-panellists/exhibitors, to audience members. My personal favourite comment was from one who, on being asked why she voted for, said 'Well, reuse is the best eco-option there is' (taking reduction as a given). Nice to see, live, that people 'get' what we're trying to do. The stand was popular, and I have a few new items I made for the event that went down well and must post.

I also got speak, and pitch for on a few award category criteria, including 'best for' recycling, reuse, energy effciency and sustainability.

Well, with much chuffingness, I can advise we managed to score top slot in 3 of the 4.

And with a couple we did it by quite a margin. See that big bar in the picture.... us!

A bit of a boost, and another notch on the way.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mind the gap

Business warned of 'creativity gap'

"There’s currently a coffee commercial, rather a lush one in fact, whose main message seems dedicated to a rather contrived joke, instead of the product benefits. The wise and benign plantation owner asks his hapless charge what he is doing there, and on being told it is the youth’s gap year, comments: ‘Gap between the ears, more like!’ Oh, how we laugh when that comes on.

However, it seems a worthy metaphor for the sate of British advertising, and now business, and I rather suspect our performance internationally is already registering blows as a consequence.

The 4% statistic is shocking, but not surprising. Though how the question was posed may offer some insights. I wouldn’t want Tracey Emin pitching for me either.

In fact the word creativity rather suffers from a broad range of interpretation. What, exactly does it mean? As suggested, it probably means an awful lot of things to different people, ranging from pure artist, to creative/media industries to... ‘them’.

Personally, I choose to interpret it, at least in the business sense, as seeking innovation; ways of doing things that have not been done before - to get a better result, to stand our more, etc. But there is one small problem with that: risk.

We seem to have arrived in the most risk averse era yet. And we can’t just blame the bean-counters (who may soon figure that if you don’t make any more beans, there’s no job counting). Even those MBA-toting, metric-spouting, blue-sky-thinking communicators and marketers in business and government seem so worried about losing their jobs, they all rush to be first to be second. But usually that means they end up last.

At least in the marketing world they soon end up ‘pursuing other options’. "

Not one for the main site!*

Partly becuase it is not reuse (please, let it not be recycling), but mainly becuase it's got to be the most gross-out bizarre thing I have ever been sent.

But, in a strange way, I felt compelled to appreciate the imagination shown.

Tampon Crafts

* Though most 10year olds will find it a hoot.

Empty (or in this case full) gestures

Eco warriors get a lift in Golden Square office

Staff arriving at M&C Saatchi’s offices in Golden Square were surprised to be forced to take the stairs yesterday.

To publicise a new green initiative, the advertising agency filled its lift up with balled up pieces of paper with the slogan: "If we recycle this much paper in an hour, we can save three trees a day".

My reply to the City Editor:

Let’s just hope they remember to recycle the paper in the lift.

But they did get the PR! Though what green initiative was/is that? If my experience of agencies is anything to go by, they'll have sent a junior in a taxi to buy 5 reams of virgin recycled paper stock to scrunch up.

Monday, December 04, 2006

WRAPPERS - 50cent... or free

Of course, we could mention another alternative for that over-stretched budget: newspaper!

Getting my goat (or not)

Confusing times.

Here I am, trying to figure out what's best for the family, budget and planet, and so I turn to the Sunday papers for inspiration.

And what do I find? Ads for buying goats for the 3rd World, neatly indispersed between articles (quoting charities) saying it's a bad idea!

Which is it!!!?

This is a serious issue. Twerps like me have little time to get into the minute details of this, and once we suspect it's going pear-shaped we turn off.

And when that happnes, what goes first, the head office pension fund or what the poor sods in the field need?

Just one last, wafer-thin mint

Gotta love the chattering classes. They can chatter all right: Global warming? I'll bring you some back from Macy's

"Remember Mr. Creosote? It was a fairly gross, but effective, satire on the notion of testing one's ability to sustain excess by the expedient of blowing up when you reach the point of no return. And now we have the latest commentator for this fine organ pitching in with another 'we really must stop... soon' piece. And that's about it. Bless. I guess it was just delicious irony I'd popped over from Mr. Juniper's article about how we are no longer the dirty man of Europe. If it's shopping, maybe it's now 'The dirty man and woman not in the UK but Macy's?'. Even better, there's this ad at the top offering me the prize of a holiday to the Caribbean. And, puh-lese, can someone explain to me this trading thing? Is it only between those in Notting Hill and Luton, or can the rest of us join in, including the entire population of sub-Saharan Africa?: link - “We can trade, but that doesn't stop emissions. And what of those who share the air we breathe, as opposed to flying through it?"

You have to love this post:

Um, these wouldn't be the shopping trips to New York thoroughly covered in Saturday's Guardian, would they?

Just saying.

Thanks Ian!

Big in the City.

I'm seeing a trend here, and it is a worrying one. Half thought-out notions being floated, seemingly with reasonable concerns, but by folk who live and work in places most set to benefit (or at least suffer least) from them: Admit it, we’re travel addicted. Let the taxman put the brakes on

My reply:

Dear Mr. Jenkins,

I admit it; 'we' are. But while I have to agree with all you have identified (and applaud that you have, at least, unlike most commentators, researched broadly and attempted a fair assessment of the situation along with most possible options), on present evidence have to raise a question mark as to the best person to apply the brakes.

I have some experience of all this. Well over a decade ago, when living and working in Singapore, the road pricing system had already well and truly 'popped up'. I also happened to meet a local lady, who is now my wife. Subsequently we moved back here to the UK; not to where my source of work was most conveniently located (London), but to be close to my dying father, and now dependent mother. There are compensations, such a massive boost in quality of life, and even the work issues are now mitigated by such as broadband, but there's no escaping our social and business communications - in person - are not optimal. For a start, one half of the family is 11,000 miles away.

Hence we not so much crave mobility, but by any reasonable measure need it through circumstance. No one sane seeks to spend 12hrs in a plane or 2hrs on a motorway. But yes, to an extent that has been our choice. So you are right that we have worked within an existing framework in planning where we are and will need to be, along with the associated costs of time and effort.

These of course are now changing. Radically.

I suspect you are right that the easiest and quickest way to restrict me... us.. is price. It has worked already. I cannot afford to fly, so come a family affair I am not sure what we will do when the need arises.

And when you say 'Rationing is by congestion or it is by price', why not also develop on the component of rationing itself?

Of course, for a start it would be a logistical nightmare. And while congestion is a vote loser it's not really accountable, whereas price is more easy to apply to the author, and hence erring on political suicide. Especially when there is the very real accusation to be made that it favours those in cities (when we are being told to become home workers, and many do not live in a city) with reasonable transport systems and is, in a related way, favouring the rich over those less able to fund their addiction, necessary or not.

Rationing could (if agreed and applied fairly, which it won't be. If the reduced eco-tax on a ODPM new build plonked on a flood plain in Kent is equated to the penalty on my 17th century cottage - insulated as best it can be - is anything to go on) be fairer and attempt to take into account the infinitely complicated impact we are all having on the environment. And yes, if it's gas into the atmosphere, stopping it has to be the priority.

But when it comes to fair, we are forgetting the global element. While I might reasonably be awarded a trip to the rellys once a year, what is poor Madonna to do to conduct her job, and to acquire more children (at least she is addressing - though I doubt for the reasons I allude to - the greatest actual problem the planet faces, namely population expansion, which puts travel in the shade whilst adding to its necessity. If you can't survive where you are, you need to move), in comparison to my more modest needs? Well, we could trade, and I get richer (along, I suspect with much-traveling City types trading in it all) as a she travels more, but that doesn't stop the emissions.And what of those who share the air we breathe, as opposed to flying through it? If we 'assign' one long haul, two short haul air trips and 10,000 miles in a car and 20,000 in a train to a every Kalahari bushman and Mekong boatlady, the potential for planetary disaster is magnified as they gain new items of value to trade with the addicted.

It's also a matter a of priority. As you rightly point out. How can we tax travel when the reasons to need it (more distant hospitals - I will soon blog on two signs in our City - not local, as I was require to take my Mum 20 miles away - hospital; one advocating the use of friends or relatives to help with transport, the other saying appointment priority would be give to those who use an ambulance. So I help and am penalised?!) are multiplying. It's the result of a political and administrative culture where success is measured in isolated targets, and the process is more important, and career-rewarding, than the final result.

It should be, but is less travel really the intention? Because fewer cars and travel means less revenue. And while a reduction in congestion may be nice in central London, if the same amount of fuel is going up in the sky at the periphery, then the planet is not gaining, while the policy wonks fly to Bali for a conference on global warming, funded by the money made on the charges. As you say, heaven help us if these guys stay in charge.

On Wednesday I am bringing the family to London for a show has been invited to appear in. There is no alterative for reasons of practicality and sheer cost (£40 petrol (at least Science Museum is giving parking to me- like the event, free) vs. £200 train fares) or time (last reliable train home 6pm; show ends 8.30pm). I have no choice, socially or for my work. Penalise me by taxes alone, set by and supported by those who live in a city earning a lot more, and the urban/country divide over something as petty as fox hunting will extend to a massive gulf.


ps: I doubt this will fit in the blog reply section, and so will attempt an edit. So forgive my sending direct first. But as you will have gathered, this is not something that can be dealt with in a pithy phrase or sound bite piece of legislation.


Call me a suck-up (and, let's face it, few do), but I am pleased to say I have had a reply from the author, and when it is one of the few commentators I truly respect I take total pleasure in sharing it:

Many thanks for your e-mail. I appreciate your predicament, but am not sure what your proposed solution is, unless we simply learn to live with global warming. As for choice, everyone thinks their own is a necessity.

With best wishes,

Simon Jenkins

He has stung me with that comment on a lack of a solution, which I feel moved to address. Watch this space (or maybe one above)

BBC: Youth Poll

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Drawn, hung and quartered

Actually, they all seem to have an episode on it (Simpsons, etc), you really have to hand it to the cartoon industry to put the ire in satire.

If you can, catch this: Futurama.

I think, therefore I am. I do, therefore...

Before I forget, a quote I just saw from author Terry Pratchett:

"Igenuity can get you through times of no money. But money cannot get you through times of no ingeuity."

Were it true.

He obviously has had little dealings with politicians, the media or big business.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Laugh? I could have died!

I think I may have written about Bad Science before, but it is worth the reminder.

Basically a Blog by a very well informed chap called Ben, who either has more time on his hands than me, or doesn't sleep. I was going to say you may not agree with all that he says (a lot don't), but as he takes the time to sift the facts from the 'bad science', it's hard to argue with him.

He's also very funny.

I cite this one The Natural Home of Silliness simply becuase he moved me to write in.

"Thanks for that.

The world is going to heck in a handbasket and now I have a further insight into the mentality and priorities of those who would lead us out.

At least we'll die laughing."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sane is as sane does

There are certain publications who ask for your opinion, and then don't print them. This is one. Recycling no longer domain of ‘loonies’. Quite rude really. Not to mention a tad behind the curve. Why do I bother? Well they do give me grist for my mill:

'Nicely put. Of course, one could argue that if what we live through is sane, then maybe the loonies have a point.
Nice to read that one of the more significantly sized, and daily high-profile brand’s marketing directors has his finger on the pulse of consumer expectation.
There are many ways to save money, boost sales... not to mention gain some good PR, perk up the CSR from Greenwashing to something less cynical, and... oh, I don’t know... make some more money?
Actually I think most companies do recycle their paper, if for no better reason than they can suffer financially (fines if they don’t; refunds if they do). Bit of a no-brainer. So I can only assume those bags you see are not In Barnet, or the council prefers fining individuals and not business ratepayers, or in fact they are there to be picked up by recyclers.
Consumers are getting to grips with green issues, and are desperate to do so. Not that it is made very easy for them. But look at the amount spent on recycling communications, backed by high-profile fines, etc, which make me wonder who can afford to be not bothered, much less unaware.
Off for my bath now. But maybe it should in fact be a shower... with a friend?"

It's AIDS day

I read somewhere that there are not enough days for all the 'Days' we now have, and if we reduce it to a Day then this actually detracts from the rest of the time. I have to say, by my own reaction (oh, fine, now what?), I tend to agree.

What I did find an interesting commentary on the state of media and who reads/watches what, is that I only picked up on it thanks to Google.

Those who write for (recycled) glass eco-nanny media, shouldn't fly to conferences

Sorry. Couldn't resist (only read this becuase of his name, which I thought was an eco-topic): Off to New Zealand to discuss the future

"I was going to cock an eyebrow at the headline and wonder... ‘the future of what?’, but then saw it qualified in the first line of text.

To this the irony of traveling and meeting corporeally has been mentioned, but one does have to wonder at the location as well. All’s fair in geographically sharing around, so I guess next year it will be Blackpool. Though the weather isn’t so nice this time of year (but I guess you guys are doing your bit to correct that.). Those Kiwis are pretty up on eco-stuff so I guess they’ll have lots of tips.

Who’s paying for the trip? And the carbon whotsists? I know it was/gets done for travel writers. But Is it everyone? I guess it’s not up to the paper for this one. If so, is there anywhere left to whack in a fir tree to compensate for all the journos going to conferences all the time. i belive there is actually one on global warming coming up in Bali.

ps: Actually my family uses newspaper for wrapping paper, as it sets off the presents inside. And we use the money saved to buy stocking fillers. The kids love the boxes to play with, but the paper just goes to stoke the fire in 10 seconds.

Thanks for inspiring great reuse idea for our second use website : actually print the news on the pages in such a way as it can be folded so the colourful ads and maybe some key visuals end up on the outside and look like Xmas wrapping. Now wouldn’t that be neat instead of an extra printing... reuse built in!"

The latter is a good idea, though.

ps: I mislabelled the file 'GiftWarp'. Seemed appropriate.

Don't Try, Don't Get

Hey, you never know: Christmas Gifts: best of the bizarre (Or is that bazaar?) Spend! Manufacture! Retail! Advertise! Spend some more!

'Nice to see a few there that may conceivably be deemed to have the environmental Xtra Factor, too.

There really seems little point 'buying' something for he/she who has everything, so for that truly personal gift may I suggest making it instead:)

We have a few idea to share.

And some will be on show at 'Dreaming of a Green Christmas?' next week at the Science Museum.'

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I have always shared Jeremy Clarkson's view on what makes a hero, so I read this Who is the greenest of them all? carefully. Some here are, by his (and my) definition worthy: lives were put on the line, and in a few cases lost. Others are simply too facile to worry about.

Anyway, here's what I added:

'Ah, top 100 lists; what would life be without them? You know, despite being introduced each time as the result of a ‘massive poll’, I have always missed my chance to vote either as a member of the general public or member of a niche industry. I guess I’m not on the right PR/researchers speed-dial. Or they don’t fancy going outside of London to ask.

As pointed out, in the absence of any apples vs. apples, or indeed any real stated criteria, it’s all a bit of a laugh really. Though it was nice to pick on some thoughtful suggestions I wouldn’t have considered, but now will.

Personally, I would vote for all those who DID/DO something over those who whitter away a lot (with a few exceptions, whose manner of saying made a difference - and as opposed to those simply booked a seat as an employer's (usually a medium) rep at the next Bali climate conference, or as an ‘expert’ or commentator).

Speaking of Santa, especially a Green one, you may be interested in the Science Museum’s ‘I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas’ show next week:'

In Inconvenient Blog?

Here's another organ of the media that seems to have a problem accepting my contributions: Coca-Cola in early stages of green tea variant launch

Anyways, bearing mind the names Coca-Cola Green and Green by Coca-Cola I thought this was worthy of posing:

"Those clever tinkers. Just wondering whether, in due deference to the tea's colour, and with the exception of being one presumes healthier (ie: less sugar packed), there is any aspect of this product or packaging that has an environmental or ethical angle?"

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

With friends like these...

BBC Newsnight Ethical Man's been at it again - Save thousands and live longer with ethical living, and so have I:

What I do with these posts is copy and paste what’s been written, with the comments below, and then work through jotting away to come up with my contribution. Here you go:

The first thing I thought was “Oh, wow. He’s managed to persuade someone else to give up their car.” But then I find that what looks like a fairly OK piece of kit has been crushed and sent off to the recycler (how much energy in the air from all that... right now), and replaced by the Saab. Now at least that’s not a new car (at 5-25% bad eco-stuff, depending on who you believe, in the making), but really...

So basically you still get to use the car almost as much as you would (ie: when you only need it) and Gid gets to drive around the rest of the time, emitting away. It’s not the car that pollutes (figure above notwithstanding), it’s the driving it around that does, isn’t it?

So basically more traveling is going to happen, and you save on capital and most running costs, and Gid covers the rest. Neat.

You can afford a lot more than most obviously, but then you shunt the cost elsewhere anyway.

I wish I could be so ethical. Or have such friends. I have a bit of swamp in Florida should you wish to get in touch.

For those (Justin, you’re welcome – it’s in London. But I’m afraid I’m driving in as it’s all the demo gear and the family!) wishing to find a few more fun and practical things to do whilst staying at home, pop along and visit us and a few other sat ‘I’m Dreaming Of A Green Christmas at the Science Museum

If only the trains ran... at all

If you're going to p*ss people off, you may as well make it all sides.

So I decided to reply* to this: If only the trains ran on time . . .

Let me begin, as I always do to articles penned by the great and good of British journalism, in London, to note that for some of us the option of a tube is not always open, with children or without, outside your fair city. There is, of course, the bus, and here we start to meet on matters of... 'delivery'. I am sure we will have many a merry tale of those raped and pillaged catching the last bus home on one side, and various photo ops of HRH, Ken and whoever is the eco-pol of the day on the other (won't say anything about a possible mix of the two livening things up). Moving on, we then become as one: defunct routes. I look out on the Ivy-covered arches of Mr. Beeching's brainwave. And hence to make any kind of trip I need a car to even start with the train , and once I get there, I may as well keep going, not just for convenience (last back to catch the connection , if it comes, is around 6pm), but also the price. With those darn kids in tow, we're looking at £200 vs. about £7 a head. And to some in the country, that is a saving still worth making, planet or no planet. And I say this as one doing all I can to help save it in other ways.

*It won't get printed as they seem to 'moderate' (see pic) me every time. Ah, Freedom of the Press.

Sticks and stones

Will never hurt me, but poor ratings will with luck sink in with the producers and sponsors, where what a few brave souls were trying to point out from the outset once we saw what was going on (and saw ourselves being vilified by the few acolytes - one suspects mainly staff of the production (the website numbers tell their own sorry tale) and, worse, the vindictive twists of the edit suite :

Media Guardian: On Saturday night, another of Sky One's big hopes for the autumn, The Big Idea, a business reality show featuring The Apprentice's Ruth Badger as a judge, ended its seven-week run with a whimper. The final installment of The Big Idea attracted just 24,000 viewers on Sky One between 9pm and 10pm.

Am I in 'told you so' mode/mood? A bit. But I take no pleasure in the failure, as we invested a lot in getting seen.... by a rapidly diminishing audience, with almost no media coverage in complement.

One can only wonder what may have been had they not tried to engineer the heats to suit whatever bizarre notion they had of the kind of audience they were trying to reach.

My personal view is that this could have been a BIG idea, but a slow burner. People of passion getting involved, pitching genuine ideas with substance that could go on to make a difference, and creating a groundswell of support from those fed up with Dragon's Den egos and similar editorial manipulations.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Well, at least they are consistent.

Or should I say symmetrical?

It all started so well. We didn't go into the SKY Big Idea expecting it to be Shakespeare, but it was a good chance to get some exposure and win some seriously useful money.

What I didn't anticipate was just what lengths the organisers would go to to steer the show the way they wanted. And the more I became aware of this, the more I asked questions, as did others - the website is worth a read, especially the Forum, to see the disconnect between what was promoted to both contestants and audience (25p a go texters).

And the more I asked questions, the more such coverage as got went down the pan. At the beginning we were those kooky guys with the neat idea. By the finale, they had edited us with a very nasty voice over and judges all saying it was the worst thing ever. Which of course they did not. Fear the man in the edit suite!

Well, fear too the man with a hard disc recorder.

I just had a scope through the footage, and another thing about the final has been raised:

From the sequence above, in addition to getting first pitch of the night (and hence the most chance for people to vote), who had their glee club right in shot at the back, and with a convenient, perfectly positioned placard throughout the entire show and all other contestant's pitches?

I'll give you a few hints: he won. He is the only one not there (there were seven, so I decided on symmetry, too). And even at this pathetic size and resolution, do you notice that curiously well contrasted yet back illuminated bluish panel at top right, often right next to the guy's heads. That's his product... in everyone else's pitch!

For what it's worth I doubt he knew, but I am prepared to bet the production guys did. No camerman or producer would let that by more than once. Even the guy holding it looks like a stagehand (I've been called paranoid once, but at full res in digital... it would be fun to find out who he is)!

Thing is, on balance it was about the only truly innovative idea in the final, but having micro-structured the set-up over the last several weeks, with all sorts of odd things befalling those who thought they had a chance by the originally stated criteria, it seems they couldn't take a chance even on that.