Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Think like an Egyptian

I have been filling out some grant and award forms lately and, having come over all MBA, for one created a little graphic to make a point, which I think is worth sharing. I call it E-ramid.

Basically I was trying to distill, into the most basic form possible, the inter-relationships between the core parties who are (or should be) involved in getting our environment back on track.

The orientation is key. The Environmental Community has long been highly active and vocal, but now the Authorities and Business are on board, if a ways behind. These guys are at least all talking, or perhaps arguing would be more accurate.

Thing is, they are mostly doing it in their own cosy little agenda-dominated, jargon-driven, green-elite ways. And that is too often leaving the individual they should be most interested in serving out the equation. In fact the only time the public/consumer are involved is more in the form of being fed scraps, getting scolded... and very seldom rewarded. In this model they would be placed below the triumvirate.

But I think this group needs to be the focus, and to whom all the rest should look up to, much in the same way as an organisational hierarchy works, being given management summaries with issues and consequences that can be easily digested and understood, and with scenarios painted that allow for proactive decisions to be made. By taking those decisions the performance-related bonuses can follow.

And they need to be able to assess performances, so that those initiatives that do work and deliver value for money are encouraged, while those whose returns on investment (though it does need to be accepted that there is a very complex and highly charged interaction, often mutually-exclusive, between 'benefits' that are financial, social and environmental) are not delivering the most good.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I'm not that keen on the 'name and shame' approach to steering environmentally-friendly practices, but in cases 'Where good packaging goes bad' I feel we need to have a few brickbats to put alongside the bouquets.

So I am thinking of creating a site page called 'WrapAtak' (thanks to Martin for that suggestion) where one can post examples that really go beyond the call of sensible wrapping.

For now I'll simply pop them on here, starting with this fine example.

Part of squeezing the '5 a day' down the twins, the irony of its 'no
junk promises' icon was not lost on me.

I can sort of live with the necessity of having a bag to contain the
several cardboard packs, but why oh why was there any need for the
additional plastic tray as well?

Nil points.

Shopping in the right direction

Separated by just a few days, these two stories are linked.

The ugly fruit with a beautiful future & Cut excess packaging, WI urging

The Waitrose initiative is to be welcomed, and the price is a real incentive. I really hope it works.

The problem of course is idealism vs. reality. Possibly our own fault (the it is not by example), but our kids will simply not go near fruit or veg that is not 'perfect', and there really is only so much discarded debris I can and wish to scavenge. Hence we do tend to err on the nicer looking and/or better protected options simply to get their 5 a day down their gullets and/or avoid waste.

Friday, June 23, 2006

4 heavens' sake!

Cripes, no sooner than I put one blog-bear to bed than another falls in my lap 4x4 debate: Enemy of the people.

Am I sensing a campaign here? First the Beeb, and now the Indy.

I have no need of a 4x4, and hence I do not have one. And, frankly, I think anyone who does have one when it's not going to be used for purpose is a tad silly, and even selfish on environmental and safety grounds. But hey, it's a consumerist world, and they are free and legally on sale like plane tickets, berries from South Africa and flowers from Holland, as are non-4x4 high litre saloons and slab-fronted vans, so... what?

Making people feel guilty is of course a good route to go, like the anti-fur efforts (oh, now where are we on that again?) and good luck to those doing it in an appropriate manner (though I think the Greenpeace 'clamp's are a series of mixed messages too much). Those facts at the end are quite telling.

But... I can think of a lot more important stuff that would count as 'enemies of the people'.

I'm well past may teens, but stuff like this almost makes me want to go out and get one just to be 'anti', and I'm on the side of the planet, for heaven's sake!

If a driver breaks the law, bust them (were these mobile gabbing, non-seatbelt wearing types charged?). But it is not against the law to own a type of car. With such media reporting we're in real danger here of creating conflicting and aggressive camps, which will serve none of us well.

Park & Drive

OK, so it's technically nothing to do with 're' or 'e'-anything, but I was moved to comment on this: Driven to anger, as follows:

"It’s hard to vote someone out when you have no clue as to who is responsible, (in this case I certainly have no idea locally), but as I travel the UK and have suffered the inequities of the parking systems throughout our green and pleasant land, I have tended to assign my fury to a government that seems to simply heap more and more petty rules with massive fines on those least likely to challenge them. Perhaps they have seen the writing on the roadside at last.
I have in my driving career been issued with two penalty notices, both of which I fought, and both of which were eventually dropped.
Notwithstanding the issues surrounding where and why these were imposed, the single thing that outraged my sense of natural justice was that at every stage I appealed, the penalty was jacked up another notch, first financially (I suspect initially by no more than an automated system ) and then with threats of court proceedings (in a cities hundreds of miles away). Upon vindication, all that happened was the original fine was waived. There was/is simply no inceptive for them not to take things as far as they would go, regardless.
From my reading of the new proposal(s)  I am not clear if this aspect is to be addressed. But my suggestion then, as now, is that in such cases the consequences of taking matters to ‘the next level’ at the very least apply equally to those issuing these notices as those who are defending themselves against them."

I do think it is related, as I have a foreboding about a 'them & us' culture building up surrounding the car and its use, and it is not being fought very well by those who see a sensible reduction in all that's bad about the things (and there is a lot) as something to encourage. By not acting fairly or sensibly with those who could so be onside, they are in danger of losing support or indeed converts. 

Que sera, sera. Que?

Night before last I watched part a reality TV show whereby some rich
types (Public At Large Class) get to be taken around by some other
rich type (Celeb Class) to assess the best way to blow their wad.

This episode was about their future car purchases, and as money
seemed no object the choice seemed to be between a Range Rover and a
Merc estate.

As money was not an object, the majority of the the programme was a
bit stuck when it came to the running costs angle, but hit more
promising ground on environmental (via a rather charming, if
centrally-cast munchkin from Greenpeace seen advertising npower for
free with a nice shot of their sponsored 'clamp' - who says there is
not always another agenda at work?) and then safety (trouble was it
applied more to those being hit than those in the SUV).

Despite this assault, they (much to the relief of the daughters, to
whom 'cool' was a major factor) 'decided' on the 4x4. Much grinning
all round. Wonder what the celeb and crew dove off in (Ms. Greenpeace
was on her bike, of course)?

Then next morning we had a piece on flowers, with a grower, a
distributor, a seller and a celeb. arranger (nice job, mate). Mid-way
into all the jollity, it cropped up ('scuse the pun) that a large
majority of our posy-culture is fed by blooms flown in from all over
the planet. So the question was asked; 'couldn't we just live, if at
great aesthetic (and career) costs, with the seasonal offerings from
our own shores to avoid the obvious massive eco-consequences?

The answer was of course... 'Que?'.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


My Mum is not easy to impress. Certainly she has been more than a
little dubious about her son's career path of late.

So it was nice to leave her gobsmacked with how smart I am (her
words), and especially that it was all thanks to Junkk.com.

Yesterday she called me over to her cottage to ask me to arrange a
plumber to fix her sink tap.

"No need," I cried, "for Junkk.com comes to the rescue!"

And so it was. The solution was found on our pages, and the fix made
within minutes.

Now if that has happened to two B&Q sinks, how many more may there
be? Time to get in touch with them.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Whale meat again?

Not too sure what is going on here. And it doesn't sound promising. First it's bad, then it's good (if you a whale-hugger)  and now its, er... not over: Japan seizes control of whaling group after historic vote. At least it's in the news.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Save the Whale

The other day I was queuing at the checkout when a young girl was trying to buy some cigarettes. The cashier felt she was underage, but a colleague called across and vouched for her. My deadpan expression was obviously enough to promote her to make an explanation about the legal situation, to which I replied: 'Oh, it's not that which worries me. It's the fact that a youth with her whole life ahead of her, and with the benefit of all the information she has available on the consequences, still wants to damage her health, bank balance and looks'. Pity it was her Mum.

Which brings me to whales. At Junkk.com we often admit that we're not here to save them, as it really is a tad beyond our remit and there are a bunch of folk much better qualified and bale to do it without us.

It would seem not: Whaling meeting set for key shift

This, forgive the pun, blows... big chunks.

There is no excuse, knowing what we know. These are sentient beings and there is no possible justification on any grounds, research, nutrition, dietary or religious practice to kill them. End of story. The Japanese don't even like the taste any more.

What is worrying to other areas is the precedent of 'buying' votes can and will set. Any individual and/or country who allows their democratic responsibilities and ethics to be turned in this way should be named and shamed.

Anyway, that's just whales. There are much bigger fish to fry.

The Big Question: But all the Answers?

Coo; that didn't take long. Well, I guess the story was bound to spread across a few media. So now we have this one from the Indy
The Big Question: Are speed cameras really the best way to improve road safety?. All fair enough. But I think it does actually miss a few pretty key questions about the legal consequences to the truly undeserving motorist who does get penalised for a minor, unintentional transgression, and the fact that such reliance does not seem to address the necessary commitment of resources to those examples of dnangerous driving that a robot is not interested in catching.

Which is more dangerous? Speed, or bad driving?

Good job I'm still debating opening up the reply facility to this blog. I suspect the following article, and my reply (if they publish it, in which case feel free to weigh in on their site) will... 'arouse passions'. 

Oh, the joy of tootling along at a respectably dull 20mph

My reply: 'I could not agree more. Or be more than slightly concerned about (some of) the consequences. 

As I look out of my window over the residential road a sleepy market down, the first of the morning G-reg 205s (with more money spent on the exhaust note than servicing) and, to be fair, the odd brand new V8 Range Rover, 3 series Beemer or Yummy-Mummy-in-a-hurry Megane, is trying to hit 60+mph as I get my sons ready to walk to school.

For my kids' sake, such a thing could not happen sooner, though I doubt this technology will be able to affordably or even practically be applied to the several hundred meter stretch of hill that so inspires our boy (and girl) racers, or indeed to the one way system circuit that draws them from near and far every Friday night.

So while this initiative is possibly better than nothing as it will undoubtedly curtail some speeding, I do wonder whether it will end up being further relied upon by the authorities  as a substitute to plain, old-fashioned (by which I mean present outdoors and addressing the spirit rather then the letter of the law) human policing, with the added advantage of a nifty bit of income generation on top.

Robots are not able to assess context. At least with this new system the odd slip over a 10% margin (what %age of dial arc is 2mph anyway, and how dangerous is remaining glued to it rather than the road?) will not need to result in a totally unwarranted penalty and all the consequences, as with a Gatso... or temporary speed trap with a quota to meet.

But they still surely will not be able to differentiate between 'speeding' (an average 23mph over the measured stretch, one presumes) and dangerous driving, which surely can still mean hitting 60mph, screeching to a halt for some fags at the offy and then hitting 60 again.

I welcome the notion of increased safety. But I await with dread the lies, counter-lies and statistics that will abound surrounding the fallout.

The authorities, especially those involved in law enforcement, are these days too in love with targets, technology and money, when they should be committed more to enforcing the law, and the spirit of justice, in the cause of public safety.

I have, so far, no points in 35 years of driving. So far. Yet I must confess to savouring the moment that the inevitable 'the law's the law no matter what' zealot cops a fine, three points and bumped insurance for too much looking at the road and not enough at the speedo whilst travelling one direction of a dual carriageway, maybe because they are trying to catch the reg. of a driver who knows the system, and its robot locations, whacking past at an insane speed in the other direction."

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

[ ? ] is the last refuge of [ ? ]

This Sunday's Times had a full magazine article on a topic dear to my.. our, dear reader... heart(s), entitled:  The last refuge , to which I could not resist a reply:

[ ? ] is the last refuge of [ ? ] Re:  The last refuge [I'll let you fill in the blanks - my suggestion is 'Procrastination is the last refuge of the last person to apply for the job of Titanic deckchair mover'

"Thank you, Bryan Appleyard, for a clear, if chilling (no pun intended) outline of the issues that confront us, though in an otherwise excellent summary I would say a bit more than a tilt to Prof Lovelock's thoughts on the issue of population could have been worth factoring into those Sandalesque restorative or Nukist techno-solutions. People are consumers. Consumers cause pollution. Pollution causes climate change (or at least doesn't help much). Climate change reduces still further the ability of the planet to sustain life. Ergo..? 

So 'we' need to change. But one additional problem I might suggest is the fact that there is a rather large, and still somewhat disenfranchised collection of folk (to which we happily claim membership, and have deemed our light green PALs, for 'public at large'). We see ourselves caught in an uncomfortable no man's land watching the mighty artillery exchanges of Green Elite Nukes and Sandals (plus a few from the 'not-us, too-late, I'd like to stay elected or next-generation-to-miners' getting thrown in) sailing overhead, and are pretty much stuck where we are while all this rages around us.

But let us not forget that there are many small things we can do, are in many cases doing and which cumulatively do make a difference. But as inhabitants of a consumerist society, it is odd that so few target the powerful motivations that lie behind tangible, if selfish, reward-based end benefit."

I would like to have delved deeper and discussed more, but this would have made it even less likely to be published than its already slim hope.

It was a good article, though. I learned a lot. 

The bit on biodiesel has added to my misgivings. The little known facts about the consequences our dietary preferences (carnivore - well established. Lettuce - I didn't appreciate that 'til now!) highlight the main issue of what we are prepared, or will need to be forced to give up. And by whom. 

There's the rub. I rather like being in the country. Can I stay here if I don't eat salads on EasyJet?

Where there's blame there's a flame

Saw this Reid blames everyone except himself in the Telegraph, and couldn't resist a reply:

"I have lost my job a lot. Seldom for not being very good at it.
So I’d be interested to know when, lately, anyone... anywhere... has actually been identified, much less fired (and in anything other than highly favourable financial, or at least secured ongoing career circumstances) in government (ok, big business too) service, other than a few recent ministers whose failings were so grotesque and monumental as to be a serious threat to those working alongside them (their party, fellow MPs and ministers), as opposed to those who paid/pay them to serve (the people).
Everyone makes mistakes. The notion that you should be allowed to keep on making them ad infinitum is a joke.
The pendulum has swung. It was once unacceptable in how cavalier a manner a good worker could be treated by superior whim, but now it is equally unacceptable that those who are not up to the job get to stay in it, much less rewarded during and after for fouling up.
Trouble is, now that so many ‘protections’ are enshrined in law and/or supported old boy’s network practices, I don’t see how we can ever get back to a fair and sensible system where the right person for the job is hired, supported in doing it, rewarded for doing well (and I include here the undoubted majority of talanated, hard-working civil servants) ... and dealt with appropriately if they are not. It’s like snakes and ladders, with two snakes colludingto take each other up (and stay there), as ladders are now too unsafe to use. No mechanism for redress of course.
I’ll use my vote all right. But its consequences cannot and hence will not be tied to Mr. Reid’s recent nonsense or the backside covering result of some mid-level servant using my money to dig a colleague out of a hole, which in real life should land both at the job centre.
And as they all know they are immune from the consequences of their actions (other than a bit of embarrassment), they will keep on making a pig’s ear of it all.
At least Mr. Reid has floated the possibility of taking responsibility for authority so greedily grabbed and imposed. But as you point out, he does not seem to believe that it could actually apply to him, so why should any below think any different?"

A Corny Tale

More (mis)adventures from this 'greenifIcan' novice. Having
successfully bought a lovely slab of Gloucester Old Spot at the
butchers, I decided to give the veg section of the supermarket a miss
in favour of the local greengrocers.

In the aforementioned supermarket, the ears of corn are trimmed, on
display in their very own tray with plastic wrapping, and usually
originate in the USA. Not optimal environmentally, but what you see
is what you eat.

Not sure where the local stuff came from, but it was in its own
wrapper. So far, so super.

What was not was the potential (I ended up dealing with it) 50%
wastage with none in the family too keen on the one that had Mother
Nature's very own genetic modifications.


Monday, June 12, 2006


Last night there was an episode of the Simpsons which addressed
recycling. It's not the first time they have turned their attention
to the environment (there was an excellent one where Homer became
garbage commissioner and blew the annual budget in a day), and will
not be the last I'm sure.

It was, of necessity, cliched, with ethical (and sanctimonious) Lisa
fighting a losing battle against apathy (the rest of the family and
town), greed (Mr. Burns and nonsense (Principal Skinner getting less
for a few tons of collected paper than it costs for the petrol to
take it to the recycling centre - at least they paid!).

But there was also reuse. Mr. Burns, 'inspired' by a six-pack plastic
holder killing fish, collects them to turn into nets. Just what we'd
advocated for a football goal. There is hope for us yet.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A very expensive crutch

I am so looking forward to the World Cup. As someone who could care less about the whole thing, and rather more about the cost of the drag of all those flags fluttering away on cars, I'm looking forward to having  no reason not to be out and about enjoying the great weather.

So why on earth has this caught my attention: Rooney jets back to World Cup but United say forget about group stage?

Well, for one it was in the Indy, and that's important because they do care about the environment, when the red-tops have columns by Jeremy Clarkson rather than columns and blogs about him.

And so far the Indy, nor any like them (that I've seen) has not managed even a quiver of an eyebrow at this whole jet thing.

If the whole effort was time-critical, I could see some justification, but the guy is sitting on the subs bench. Why can't he take the train? Or at least a plane shunting around a few hundred at a go? Especially as there seems to be a 12 person entourage involved.

Just asking.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Fiendly Skies

Nice to see a bit of honesty in advertising, though I doubt it was intentional. Even the art direction complements the apocalyptic inference.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Who will rid us of this troublesome person... with a brain and an opinion

Another week, another eco-fatwa. At least in the world according to Clarkson: Pot-Porritt wants me eliminated.

If nothing else it proves again what I maintain, that without him the enviro-brigade would be at a loss (and me, for blog material at least), and him without them.

Anyway it seems that major e-lite (that's short for eco-elite, but does throw up an interesting alternative) guru Jonathan Porritt has said anyone who 'shuts up' JC should be given a knighthood.

In this odd world where Morrissey can stay singing when he says a lot worse about meat-eaters, and some dusky-hued folk (and I mean ladies at the Cenotaph) can get banged up for saying a lot less, this seems quite mild.

But having done my 'O' level in Brit history, I seem to recall what happed to Thomas a Beckett, and it was on equally dodgy 'nudge-nudge, wink-wink.. I didn't actually say that' basis.

I must say it's a pity if he did say it, and in this day and age getting that fact confirmed will be a fun effort. Not. 

Because I saw Mr. P interviewed the other day, and it was more than reasonable and made a lot of sense. Saying silly stuff about JC does not. It simply gives him all the material required to write a very funny piece and make the whole environmental thing look a tad dull, boring and silly. And while you're nodding and laughing you miss out on the few howlers that JC has stuck in there  that just don't add up.

And much as I appreciate his contributions to all this, these I wish he's tone down. But it is a free world. For now.

To your credit

I like free. I like knowing stuff. I especially like knowing stuff about me. So I like this. Check out your credit rating for free this weekend 

It's not strictly Junkk.com material (though it is all about avoiding waste), and it has not been 'tested' yet by me, so I'll restrict it to here, but having followed the links to annualcreditreport.co.uk I don't see a problem and it's a major 'why not?'.

Navel Gazing

I just had to share this, courtesy of the FoE (who have a lot more hits than misses I'm finding): INFORMATION COMMISSIONER ADMITS HE FAILED TO COMPLY WITH FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 

Joking aside, it is symptomatic of a worrying trend, namely the fact that those who think they know best, but often do not, are seldom inclined any more to let us know what they are up to in case, god forbid, we may have another view.

The first casualty in war is the truth. It's getting more and more like the ongoing casualties of life today are bluster and obfuscation.

And without such as the FoE, they seem to be getting away with it. 

RE: cycling

I love cycling, if in a Dutch, flat-earth kind of way. Ross-on-Wye is basically built on the side of a valley, so you are either going up a steep slope and have to get off and push, or are burning brake blocks to avoid a headlong rush into the river (My family are the only one who go the wrong way round a gorgeous Forest of Dean trail because an investment pushing up a 1/2 mile hill means half a day coasting down a slight incline).
I also don't do major roads (a brush with an EU lorry wing mirror on the A40 highlighting the value of a helmet) or cities (a brush every 10 seconds with every car who would go from 30 to 50mph just to get past and then turn left 10' in front of me showing the value of all those TV ads about courteous driving. Not).
So you would think it clear which side I'd fall on when it comes to this article: How Nigel Havers incurred wrath of bicycling readers
But I'm afraid I pretty much agree with him (except the 'all' and 'bastards' bit, as that is straying into Clarkson silly shock-jock territory). At least based on what I read here.
Bearing in mind the media only quote that which generates more quotes (rather than a balanced view), we have such as "I have no objection whatever to occasional pavement cycling and have every sympathy with cyclists.", which justifies this on eco-grounds and health. The key here is 'occasional', where I would say 'common sense' and 'courtesy'. With my kids we do sometimes end up off road and in the vicinity of pedestrians, in which case they get the priority. If necessary by dismounting.

So I have little sympathy with those who have not done their cycling proficiency test or abide by its spririt. I walk my kids to school and with my Mum to the shops. Hardly a trip is completed without some cyclist who is so healthy they can't resist a short cut jumping a light, riding on the pavement or coming the wrong way down a one-way, at speed and with no consideration for others. And one day that is going to mean the health service does have an extra burden. Either from some two-wheel cretin finding out that they can't win in a head-to-head with an SUV, or some poor kid or senior who have come off second best when 40 kilos of muscle and bone atop a few kilos of metal and spokes hits them at 10kph.
It's illegal, guys. And dangerous. And if you're all growed up and want to assert your rights then obey the law.

Just because you feel aggrieved at the treatment meted out by idiot motorists, there is no excuse in simply doing the same to the next down the rung.

Remember, making a bike still causes emissions. Walking has no impact at all.