Thursday, August 31, 2006

Demand and supply

They're to mean to post it free, and I'm too mean (well, broke) to pay to access it in its entirety, but here's something encouraging from the Indy today: Supermarkets in pursuit of the green pound.

The bit worth getting encouraged about (at least for "it would be misleading to put these revolutions in the grocery and retail sectors down to political pressure. Something substantially more powerful is at work. What we are witnessing is a new trend in consumer demand."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Missing the points.

Two ads from the same magazine this week.

One is certainly a 'better than nothing'. The other seems slightly at odds with its aims, though.

It would appear that Clubcard points can range in hue.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Art. Life. On Reflection.

Still having trouble resisting the odd punt into the blogosphere, as in the case of this from Newsnight's Ethical Man. Before my wife clouts me, in mitigation there is an opportunity to get the URL across to the media (and, currently, 12 fellow posters, which seems a very small number all in all) such that they may wonder what we are and say hi.

I have had a few eyebrow twitches before on how the life of an 'I'm from the BBC' reporter, whose paid job this year is to be ethical, can mirror an average Joe trying to assess and install a multi-thousand pound sustainable energy system. Lack of film crew can seriously affect the way a supplier, council or local population treats you.

But in this case I thought the piece, and options, accurately reflected reality. Though it did seem prompted, as was my first thought when reading it, by the 'no car/arrived by car' question posed by an earlier poster. Anyway, as always, in case I do get edited, here's my offering:

"This well illustrates that not everything green can be painted in black and white, and almost any effort of this nature will inevitably be an exercise in compromise.

For those who wish to try, it does seem possible to exist in an urban situation without owning a car, but when it comes to needing one it would be nice to have the salary or expense account to enjoy when necessary the option of getting one on demand.

As a countryside homeworker I guess I could use public transport. However I am not sure how long I could sustain bearing the costs, especially those of transit time which I doubt any client will be prepared to support.

Equally, I'm sure if Ethical Man needs to do a far-flung piece, there may be some questions around the office water-cooler, HR and indeed by licence payers should he be away too long by sailing there.

But the importance of this feature is that one gets introduced to, and an appreciation of the options, from the personal to the professional to the environmental (which sadly can be conflicting), and assisted in making informed choices.

Hence in this case, as car was the chosen option for perfectly valid personal reasons, I was interested and impressed that a purely tokenistic vehicle choice was not made rather than barrelling down the motorway lugging a battery. The fantastic makes better copy than the mundane, with many in the media playing a part in keeping things overly idealistic and free of financial consequence (not all, including the BBC it seems, can swing a freebie or loaner from a PR dept!), impractical and hence beyond the abilities of many average families to embrace, no matter how keen they are to do their best.

At least DOING something is better than nothing."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Doing the right thing for the right reasons... in the wrong way

I have littered about the place a hefty collection of essentially worthless grey boxes. Partly it is because I have this odd notion that I may one day have a use for an extra 1GB of storage lurking in an entire CPU, but mainly I am still unsure what to do about them.

The ideal of course is that I get some money. Well, forget that. For a start, as mentioned, they are essentially worthless. So next up is that they get reused. Or at very worst recycled. These latter involve donation, which I am happy to do, but then we come to a bit of an issue, and one that is more than a tad topical: security.

This of course has provoked a response from those with a vested interest in the business of discarded IT. One such we have just been happy to print on our very own pages, reassured by the defence of its service (noting in passing the double-edged sword of Google Adsense, which has ads on the same page for services that may or may not be as worthy - caveat emptor).

But one thing I do note is that to get the reassurance one needs, you need to pass off in excess of 20 units.

Now most idividuals, and even small SMEs, do not have such numbers. What can one do? Is there a similar service for single units? Is it as secure? Can it be sustainable for the reuser without being financially prohibitive for the disposer? And if not, is the council 'bin' any more secure?

Quite an issue.

One notion I have is using the localisation capability of to pool diverse individuals in a coalition of the willing that builds to the trigger level, at which point the units are pooled (centrally would involve storage, at least temporarily, and possibly transport commitments) ready for collection.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Turkey is a dish best served cold

I'm still weaning myself off the surfing and the blogging, but it's not easy.

However, some things are helping me see the wisdom of the effort.

Take today's Guardian Online. I have captured a block of three topics, topped by the one that almost sucked me into its lair: 'Why do newspapers hate us bloggers?'

They don't hate you... er... us! They love us! Look at that figure in red below. Over a hundred comments before elevenses. Chock full of extreme and diverse opinion, quotes and links. Sure the readership number is trivial, but the source material is gold-dust. If you are a hack or commentator (or are they the same thing?) who is paid to read this stuff and write about it, who needs research?

Sadly, I am now having to find more profitable ways to spend my hours, so wading through such material, much as I'd like to, is no longer an option. And in any case, these days even if I do see something of interest, I have no faith in whether it's accurate or the time to check.

Sadly, it looks like the media I used to trust to discover and report for me are not bothering much either.

Space... the final frontier

A few posts ago I had cause to tweak an eyebrow at some coverage in the Sunday Times magazine last week regarding an eco-artist who took pictures of people protesting about global warming... from his helicopter.

This week there is a similar airborne piece, which I felt was much more striking and justified.

However, despite the familiar, depressing and assuredly concerning pictures of retreating ice fields and glaciers, what was more striking to me was the percentage that were not so much to do with climate change (though it all has a contributory effect) as population expansion and the consequent demands on our planet's finite space to house and feed these ever-increasing numbers.

For every square meter of forest turned into housing, as economies develop you'll generate a whole new source of domestic waste, and demands for energy to light, watch TV, water, garze cattle, grow soy, provide cars, roads to drive them on and biodiesel to fuel them.

I can't help but feel that if this is not addressed (though I have no easy-PC suggestions how) as a priority, all the rest is rather trivial in comparison.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bouquets & Brickbats

The other day our laser printer started making a noise like a dying buffalo. After 3 turbulent years I thought it had given up the ghost. With a purchase price just shy of £200 almost all its residual value is in the consumables, and with it gone they are useless, so I was keen on fixing it.

Initial signs were not good. Well out of warranty, I was looking at call-out fees alone approaching £100. Even lugging it in for an assessment was in the £50 mark.

So I managed to locate the initial sales folk and they said it was worth trying the manufacturer (Epson) help line (0870 44 3 77 66 - select 'sales' and then go with the flow). And I must say it worked out very well. I eventually reached a human after the longest voice menu drill down in history. And, with luck, tproblemelm has been resolved. A free repair advice that saved all round.

That's the bouquet. The brickbat is the status print.

Why on earth is it necessary to such so much ink out on that bar on the left? Surely if it's a roller test one can have a narrow lengthwise and vertical bar to test coverage?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Conspiration Constipation

'They' must be out to get me.

First up, no sooner do I start weaning myself off the vast amount of time searching, reading and too often fruitlessly responding to the flood of online blog static out there, I somehow now find myself seduced by a plethora of manhour-sucking awards and competitions.

Some involve money; some involve potential PR. And some the nirvana of hooking up with complementary talents to move things along. A few offer all of these. And so are too good to ignore.

I have just completed my application to Sky's The Big Idea. Literally a few days' worth of drafting, crafting and rushing around shooting a video pitch. But with £100k at the end, perhaps worth it. I just hope they buy my notion of as an 'invention' that has been created to help create an infinite number of other inventions.

But no sooner do I leave this one in the lap of the Gods of Ratings, than I come across a design competition for canny designs! Only due Friday, so I have, er, one day to not do what I was and devote to the slim chance of a shot at this. Oh, phew, it's 'members only'. And when once this would have me signing up I'm afrid that budget boat has sialed... and sunk.

And then there is this: profit@50. Not a great deal of dosh, but it scores big on the profile meter.

Just one problem. I am not... quite... yet... 50! I'm still embroiled in the thinking behind 'Must be under 30' Guardian cartoon competition (a few posts back), which I miss out on by being too old, and now this looks out of reach becausee I'm too young!!!!

Ever felt you were a square peg in a sea of round holes?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Still looking, but not finding

Another I couldn't resist pitching into, if only in the hope the mainstream journalist may read and wonder about my email address (I now see little other value in these things) and find out what a '' is:

Wanted: a practical guide to saving the warming planet

"Debate on global warming, be it man-made or naturally-occuring, is really moot. So I agree the key things we must focus on are reducing consumption wherever possible (economical, political and a whole raft of other 'als' permitting), and certainly reducing waste. It is simply a matter of efficiency. Which surely must appeal to any 'conservative'.

Sadly, it's tricky whilst also worrying about natural conservation which, in any form, is going to be hard to achieve with an expanding global population. Most, myself included, shy away from going much further 'there'.

But I'm afraid a polar bear's few thousand acres will come second to a few thousand more voters' homes getting profitably bullt on an ironically water-starved South Eastern flood plain."

I'd read this with a hope that there may be an indication of what form this guide may take. Sadly it was again more debate on whether it was required or not, which I guess I added to.

But at least when it comes to guides on doing stuff that can help, there is at least to point to in mitigation.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Unfortunate Illustrations

Not really anything to do with matters 're' or even's adventures, but I have to post this from today's Guardian - Cartoon competition.

As a not bad cartoonist, I was already sharpening my HB pencil when I noticed: 'entrants must be under 30 on January 1 2007'.

Ooooo, so close. But then I noticed a significant percentage of the posters below had asked 'why 30?', to which I can only add my voice. It's not like it's a kids' competition. I'm even pretty sure it is ageist and as such possibly now (or at least soon) illegal.

No excuses. This may prove interesting to monitor.

ADDENDUM: Paranoia is knowing they are out to ignore you

I decided to pop back to see what's what a few days later, and as there was no reply or, oddly, further posts (read on) decided to have another go. As this letter to the original poster (and attached screenshot) shows, there seems to have been a glitch preventing futher discussion. I wonder why?

Dear Mr. King

As I have an interest in this issue, I returned to the site today to still find no answer to the postings regarding the age limit, and hence composed the following. Sadly it was not possible to upload (see attached). I'm sure there is a perfectly good reason for this, though the phrase 'Comments not allowed on this entry' is less than enlightening, and does in itself raise a few additional questions.
So I remain interested. Maybe I'll have more luck sending this to you directly:

"A few days have passed, yet I still see no answer to the majority of posters' legitimate questions regarding the age limit.
It may be ageist. It may be legal. It may be demographics. It may be marketing. It may be ethi... well, maybe not. But having asked politely, I'd just like to know the reasoning behind one not being able to enter a non-gender specific creative competition for post-student, working-age UK adults (I can understand the need for kids' versions to have an upper limit) by virtue of being over 30. Is it hoped by staying mute long enough we can all be relied upon to have Alzheimers? Or maybe you too have simply forgotten... to reply? You could of course let such senior citizens enter, and then make sure they don't win if they don't suit the profile. Like every other media competition."

The Plot thickens... well, a reply:

On 9 Aug 2006, at 09:17, wrote:

I dont have any email in my inbox from your email address so I couldnt have
responded. I am forwarding your query and complaint to Ian Mayes the
Guardian reader's editor. I work for Guardian Unlimited - the website and
not the newspaper. I was asked to publicise the competition by colleagues
on the paper which I did. I didnt draw up the rules to the competition and
do not even know who did so Ian is the best person to contact neither drew
up the rules Please contact Ian Mayes the readers editor with your
Oliver King.

And so I stay hopeful, though with eyebrow twitching...

Dear Oliver,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

I do appreciate and sympathise with your position, and apologise if my wording made my comments seem personally directed at 'you'. This was not my intention as I fully appreciated the fact that you were just the guy writing the post to advertise the competition.

I was simply interested in answers. And the blog seemed the best place for these to be forthcoming from those who initiated it (I was not aware of the level of distinction between the paper and website); not necessarily to me personally but to address all with similar questions on the blog.

Hence it was frustrating to find that further comment had seemingly been stopped and there remained no organiser's reply after two days. It is surely only to be expected that following such postings there is monitoring of responses?

Still, we are getting places. I will await feedback from Mr. Mayes.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Martin

You can be too mature, apparently

A follow up and, I guess, an answer at last:

"Ian Katz who drew up the competition said he was looking for undiscovered
cartoonists the paper didn't know about. He also said the age limit is
similar to the student journalism competitions the Guardian regularly runs
which offer short-term work as a prize. It was determined to follow similar
rules in this case."

Whether it is a satisfactory one is another matter, along with my having the righteous energy to pursue further. I could still wonder why undiscovered cartoonists the paper didn't know about 'must' be under 30. Do you become known, especially to them, when you're over that age? And 29 year-old students are a new one to me, too.

Funny how 'ist' the supposed organs of liberty and equality can be when it suits.

Meanwhile, at a supermarket near you...

Just read an interesting story about Wal-Mart (which may translate into ASDA here?) 'going green' in Fortune.

Overall it's encouraging, but again, contradictions abound. I just loved the bit about conservationists pitching to the bosses whilst scuba diving here and hiking there around the world. Nice work if you can get it, but I guess a small price to pay to swing the monolith in tangible green ways. And the CEO has traded his Beetle (!) in for a hybrid... er... SUV. Not sure if that was a step in the right direction or not.

But I think I am most focused on this claim: '[The] argument was simple: Wal-Mart could improve its image, motivate employees, and save money by going green.' Reads like our pitch to ASDA about 3 years ago. This has translated into tangibles: 'On Kid Connection, its private-label line of toys, for instance, Wal-Mart found that by eliminating excessive packaging, it could save $2.4 million a year in shipping costs, 3,800 trees, and one million barrels of oil.'

A lot of the inspirations to have hit these multi-million salaried execs seem a bit 'Well, D'uh', when they are reported as so excitedly coming up with initiatives, but at least they are not (always - there is that bottom line) saying no.

And maybe I have some guys to write to about Can't hurt.

If you have something worth saying, say it!

As I start to look towards ad-land again as a way of keeping the family alive while the machine secures its foothold, I find my Creative Director juices flow when I see certain ads, and view them critically for strategy and message.

And I am starting to feel that the conveying of anything 'green', despite moves in the right direction, is still tending to draw the short straw when it comes to communicating in the same way and to the same effect as other brands.

Take this Lexus execution. It's a 4x4. But it's a hybrid. So it's evil (official). But also gets off the congestion charge (have to check - maybe not, as I'd have to presume they'd mention that for the Chelsea Tractor brigade's benefit). In fact it is a series of contradictions. But at the end of the day it's a dirty great big greenish SUV for those who still want to be up in the sky, lug half a dozen kids, look spiffy and deflect Greenpeace stickers

I'm not sure I get that from the headline. The subhead tells me it's a hybrid. The first line of copy waffles and then goes off into some very vague areas of fact.

As I dust off the porty, I am encouraged. However, much as I'd like to get such guys' ads on, helping shape them still rather requires me to reach them. And that is still proving... tricky.

If you have nothing worth saying...

... issue a leaflet and/or press release anyway (it may be so bad it gets coverage)!

An interesting snippet from the 'Prufrock' business gossip section of the Sunday Times, which is usually more concerned with which 'richer than god' mandarin is outsquandering another, and hence needs to invite the reporter along on their private plane/yacht/country estate to ensure it hits the presses. This one was more modest:

Eco rules for the jet set

I'm presuming that opting not to travel at all is another option they advocated (but I guess if your business is travel, then you may decide that is a step too far. At least sustainable is better than nothing).

But I have to say it does highlight how a lot of organisations are struggling to make the whole eco-thing interesting. While an undoubted good thing, switching the lights off in your resort room is, as pointed out, not exactly cutting edge. Some newsletters we're getting are looking decidedly tired. The non-commercial re-brigade are really scraping the barrel. There really is only so much you can re-hash. Guys like Grist still seem to be keeping things fresh, but the global warming debate is tending to circle now, too. What more can you do? I do still revel in Treehugger's news of innovations, but again there is now a plethora of folk selling eco-stuff.

As we try and get towards our next, second (ouch!) and hopefully vanguard of more regular newsletters, we really must weigh the best regularity (I'm thinking monthly to start, down to a maximum of weekly, perhaps with options of full text or summaries) and content balance. I'm hoping that between ideas, features and of course the odd blog I've penned, we will have enough to stay fresh maintain the interest of our audience.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Coke adds... data

Actually they haven't.. yet. But on a more positive note I'm hoping this ad, which pretty much shows what we're up to (if for a very different reason) is karmically encouraging. At least we know they have a caliper in the office!

What's odd about this picture?

All very noble 'n all, and yes it did get noticed, but as it isn't mentioned anywhere I have to wonder how they got there. And, indeed, how the shots (there are many - we are talking an international artist here - I guess he cycles around) get taken.

There may be hints in the words 'seen from the air', 'pay a flying visit' and 'aerial artist'.

Mixed message? Me, I waited 'til they stuck up a crane and then asked the operator to take some shots of our town ;)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Agenda Benders

Another lost archive, this time from when I was contributing to the BBC about blogs, and not a little miffed about editorial, if not censorship. Still worth sharing:

There is no doubt that power can turn the head of those who wield it. And there is equally no doubt that those who occupy any position of public profile in or for a major media organisation will inevitably find such a gift, and curse, bestowed upon them, willingly or merely as a consequence. And as will always be the way, such power can come in many forms, stemming equally from the way it has been wielded, from respect to to fear. With, in the case of media, perhaps one extra aspect, the desire to be heard. You may agree or disagree with someone who can lay claim to column inches or minutes of airtime. You may like or dislike them. But if you think there's the faintest chance that you may get to their audience by engaging with them in any way, it's worth the punt.

Until recently, access to the major media was quite simple. You were either part of the story-telling system, or part of the story. Now, with the advent of the forums and blogs sprouting everywhere, there is a chance at finding oneself as a potential profiled player in either, but most significantly the former, at least by temporary association. This can be heady stuff. And has been hailed as a new era in citizen journalism bringing a new dimension to the media fare we are served and/or can opt for.

But is it? With recent personal experience I can testify that what seemed to be a brave new world of equal access and freedom of speech can easily be manipulated by whomsoever controls the medium to meet their requirements, benign or otherwise.

For this reason I have now decided to try to avoid reading much less contributing to any other blogs, and concentrate solely on my own, using and quoting such information resources with whose provenance I have more confidence, at least historically. I will always have my own of course, and what I have written, and hence think, is there for all to read and judge accordingly, warts and all. And I think I will continue to avoid allowing replies, at least directly (I always welcome contact for personal discussion), to avoid any chance that what is on view (ie: from others) artificially adds weight to my own, inevitably subjective, viewpoints.

In short there will always be an agenda. It's silly to pretend, or believe, otherwise.

Me, myself... not

I have, it seems, a common name. First and last. Those Hugenots got about a bit. Hence I share it with quite a few folk. Some of note.

Usually this is quite fun. But then a Sunday Times journalist with my moniker wrote an expose of the Russian Mafia, so I was a bit concerned when any black cars with smoked windows drove past the house a bit too slowly.

And now this morning I was in front of the TV when Newswatch came on, pretty much starring in commentary and print... me! Only it wasn't. And this person's views were not mine at all. Now I have chosen to contribute to this programme before, and at the very least readers of this blog know it. So do most of my chums. Fortunately none of you are up at this time so it is not an issue.

But it did make me think. What was the point of the name? It could have been anyone. Even adding the town can still lead to a mis-identification of there are more than one of you.

I think it's mainly to ensure those that write in check to see if they have been mentioned, which at least means some sort of audience.

I certainly think that's true of the Telegraph system I have given up on since having a post edited (see recent previous blog). When I read the initiating article first thing there are no posts as the moderating (and editing) is taking place. But unless I have contributed I can't really be bothered to check subsequently.

Vanity, vanity, thy name is 'Cross of Ross'.

Asking for thirds

Just stumbled across some notes I took for my recent jaunt to London. Hate to waste, so here they are:

Did you know there a Third Sector? Until recently, I didn't. So it came as a bit of surprise to find we ( fall within it. It has an office. And a Minister.

And so it was that I was up at crack of dawn (and back in the wee small hours:( to attend an event snappily entitled 'Joint HM Treasury & Cabinet Office Review On The Future Role Of The Third Sector In Social & Economic Regeneration' in London, drearily.

Basically it's an outreach, recognising that there a bunch of folk 'out there' doing stuff that is quiet helpful to the social fabric, and that it wouldn't hurt to complement. I'd even go so far as to say 'they' had understood a bit of help, or at the very least reduction of hindrance, would go a long way to making things happy and happening.

It all kicked off with the inevitable speeches from the inevitable bevvy of pols, with the inevitable excuses for not hanging around beyond wishing us the best, Young Mr. Grace-style... 'you're all doing very well'. Ah well, busy folk, I guess, but it does strike one that for all the stories they tell of 'meeting real folk' you need to wonder when it is they actually do it. Actually a fairly sharp bunch, with a few young... so young. There was a nice balance of fresh enthusiasm, though already jading with trappings of power.

At least they are trying, which is why I committed to attend.

Was it worth it? Well, it was 15 unpaid/compensated hours of my life, plus car, return train and tube.

Basically it was two sets of workshops, where 'we' (social enterprisers) sat in groups and came up with answers to structured questions around themes such as:

* Promoting Innovation and Enterprise

* Future role of the sector in shaping and delivering public services

* Cohesive communities and building a voice for citizens

* Creating a sustainable resource base

It was all structured, which is necessary, but to me no so happily. Thanks to the schedules overrunning it was more important to do what we were meant to in the allocated space, rather than consider coming up with anything sensible. More process over product. I almost expected them to ask us to make sure we ticked the box and signed in.

But by some miracle a few useful discussions were had.

Plus a few 'debates'. I think I was a very lone 'commercial' social enterprise in a sea of NGOs, charities, etc, and all of whom knew this turf backwards.

I don't like being patronised by some smart-alek in a suit whose job and salary depends on dealing in process, when I have committed my whole being to product.

At least there was a nice buffet.

I have posted the thoughts I had on the site.

ps: On a small, but not unconnected note, for visual accompaniment I attach just some of the paperwork associated with it all. Note the natty folder. Now how much better had it been not immediately disposable, but rather had a second use? Just asking.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Data Overload. Answers underwhelming?

A while ago I had a request from some media initiative I'd signed up for, to help with some research.

Keen to help, I clicked the link and even got cracking, but when I saw the thing was scores of pages long I paused, and then when it transpired they were asking pretty deep rooted financial stuff about our business I stopped dead, not even midway through.

At least this thing allowed one to have a mooch forward to see what you were letting yourself in for, and even store entries 'to date' (which strikes a chord having just lost a mulit-page online application that did neither when my browser hung - the secret is just to whack in x's and nonsense numbers until the end (don't hit submit!) and capture the headings on a Word .doc to craft at leisure, and then cut and paste when you're ready). But it was still just too much, and I dropped it.

But it seems they knew where I lived, and did not want take 'waaaay too hard' as an answer, because I have just been reminded:

"We are now heading towards the end of our annual collection of data. Your input would be greatly appreciated to help provide an overview of the whole sector, and provide results that are useful to [the commissioners]."

As it seemed only polite, I was moved to write to explain why we are not participating further in this survey rather than just not responding:

"We are and have been keen to help and indeed support any initiative(s) of this nature, as they can be more than beneficial to our area and possibly our own interests. We in fact have benefited from support in the past.

However, we are finding ourselves bombarded with such requests, and frankly many are too extensive, intrusive or indeed too regular to cope with unless they are a requirement of a grant process (and even then I have had cause to request a qualitative person-based interview rather than a form-based one). I also have a real problem with such structured questionnaires as they often do not allow for context.

This one fell under the first two as far as we are concerned. I did try, but gave up when I saw where it was going (which at least it did. Some refuse to allow you to proceed unless you fill things fully and in a way designed to suit the acquisition system)."

No kidding. I get these requests all the time. And some on a very regular basis. Plus reminders. They can get very hurt that you don't feel like filling in their form, their way.

What really gets me is that few, if any of these forms have been structured in a way that I felt I was contributing meaningfully, or were trying to help me help them. So much needs context or an explanation. And too often saying 'don't know', or 'none of the above' or 'more than one' is rarely an option. Nothing gets me offside more than a form telling me I have not filled it in correctly before allowing me to move on, especially when it doesn't allow me to answer correctly (it is way worse when it is something serious, or involving money, when you have to put your name to it at the end). There is seldom a 'gave up becuase this is a stupid form' option.

So I have to question this research technique, how much it all costs and how meaningful the results ever can be. But I'm sure it all makes for lovely reports that no one will read.

Ok, so I'm a hypocrite. Now what?

Here's an interesting piece - Welcoming Homer the tree-hugger - sent to the BBC Green Room by an American writer.

Considering the provenance it is unsurprisingly funny, intelligent and irreverent.


Despite enjoying every word, and agreeing with it all, by the end I was not terribly sure what more I could do.

Yes, 'we' need to cooperate. And certainly those on his list need to be brought on board. But join what?

How I wish I had the cachet of writing something like the Simpsons behind me to get published in such a major medium and simply say 'please join and use it. It's free, it's fun and may make a small difference'.

I guess I'll try. But will it get read in some niche area by anyone other than a bunch of hypocrites like me who will immediately discuss and criticise without even giving it a go?

We have had welcome support for form many areas. But what has amazed me is how few we can trace who have actually signed up and used it. Our best hope are those who just like the idea and want to play.

Back to the shed.

The Shirty Dozen

BBC's Panorama is one of the few true, old school investigative news programmes around these days, so when I came across an invitation to submit my blog (well, it was to anyone, so I hope they have a lot of staff) I thought 'Why not?'

So I composed the following, and it can't hurt to have it logged here:

The environment is BIG these days. There are lives at stake: a current and future planetful, by some accounts. There is also good, and bad, money to be made taking advantage of its problems. I have a few profound views that shape my blog’s content... My ‘Shirty’ Dozen:

1) The facts and/or causes of climate change/global warming are too often distracting, or used as such. What really matters is that there is no sense in wasting anything unnecessarily.

2) People are inevitably polluters. With a growing global population, all we’re really doing is buying time... and still not very well. But it’s still worth trying!

3) Hence any well considered, positive/proactive initiative is better than nothing, well worth supporting and applauding. But there always need to be SWOT analyses and ROI assessments built-in... with consequential contingencies.

4) Little that is green can be viewed productively only in black and white.

5) There is still waaay too much remote, high-level talk, and not enough individual action.

6) Where there is action, the demands of PROCESS too often hijack the aims behind the RESULT, making change much more difficult to apply.

7) Most everyday folk would like to do something, but few have the time or resources to find out or sift through everything out there (and often contradictory), much less engage. They must be reached on terms they can cope with, and in ways they can respond to.

8) The public are often poorly served by those - authority, activist and even the media - with what can look like pretty short-sighted, selfish or self-promoting agendas. Inefficiencies and hypocrisies need to be exposed and called into account

9) The ‘Green Elite’ can too often contribute to the problem rather than helping with the solution.

10) Green need not always be good, or be above question. If it doesn't make sense to me, it may not to others. So it's always worth asking why.

11) Positive results need to be promoted, and rewards and incentives favoured over nagging, scare tactics or threats.

12) It is possible to be an idealist. The tricky part is keeping pragmatic and practical along with it.

Enough Talk

It's a painful process, weaning myself of all this. I enjoy it. But it is an addiction, and like all such, can prove a negative infleunce on one's day.

But I was helped by yet another consumption of time and energy, again courtesy of the excellent Grist.

They had inspired a debate that was essentially about how best to deal with communications - Self-interest is the answer - and when words like 'cool' and 'brand are bandied about, it gets my attention. Having read all the comments I was ready to pitch in. But then... how much would I consume today on trying to write a well argued piece? And what, really, would it acheive?

Nah. Better to stay with trying to do something.

Not that it stopped my having a small input on someone else advocating doing something, this time by tapping into Geothermal.

I guess I just feel more comfortable with the notion of reducing waste rather than finding new ways of making and expending energy to make more.

The consequences seem less fraught with contradictions.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Too much. Too Often. Too late?

As I have mentioned, for the sake of all sorts of things that really need preserving, I am cutting down on the whole surfing thing, and even, to an extent, the commentating.

It really has been a case of 'too much, too often'.

And having read this - Media attacked for 'climate porn' - in one of the few daily 'must reads', the BBC, I can see I am not alone. The irony of this being more, if not the same, at least simply 'more' to digest, is not lost on me.

Or the fact that the most likely result of not a bad analysis is a lot more 'is!/isn't' exchanges as Rome burns (or will soon as the planet heats).

The piece also introduced me to a series of pretty neat articles i was not aware of until now, labelled 'The Green Room".

Maybe I'll contribute, but I have to say I think that in many ways it's simply too late, so there is little point.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


The information overload reduction process continues apace, as I divert more and more daily 'e-wsletters' to the Trash. Note that I can't quite bring myself to unsubscribe, which means they are still to be read and/or simply serve to clutter up my hard drive until one of my infrequent purges.

I'm having more trouble weaning myself off commenting.

Yesterday there was a piece on BBC Breakfast TV's business section, with the Jerry of Ben & Jerry's. I actually thought he was quite an engaging soul.

What surprised me was that there was the opportunity for an online chat via the blog of Declan, the host. More so that it wasn't 'under' the BBC but actually Blogger (like this) and had been going since April.

Anyways, I thought it a good opportunity to pitch in and maybe get some profile.

Boy, did I get thwarted. Despite being registered and all with Blogger, I was not with 'the Group', and it was all over before I could figure out how to join, which I still can't.

Maybe someone, somewhere, is trying to tell me something.