Friday, January 20, 2006

Sail of the century

If am frequently, and correctly, taken to task by my colleagues for diving off on tangents. That said, if I didn't, would doubtless not have come to pass as it started off as something I felt I wanted to do that really had nothing to do with my day job.

Anyway, I just wanted to share an upbeat tale of something that happened today, that ended up being more than relevant to what we're up to.

Doubtless thanks to our attending some very "you went where?" exhibition, I was sent some magazine that should have gone straight in the bin but couldn't resist at least flicking though... 'just in case'.

And my attention was caught by an ad for a public speakers' agency (and as what goes around comes around, let me share their URL here because they were so helpful: - just make sure you have in mind telephone numbers first if you're serious), and more specifically the picture of Anita Roddick, of Body Shop fame.

We're still very much trying to think up ways to get 'out there', and though I knew the answer I thought I'd phone to see what it would take to get such a person to speak on our behalf. 

Well it should have been a very short conversation. But having got the small matter of 'if you have to ask you can't afford it' out of the way, I ended up in a delightful conversation with a lovely lady called Lucinda about what we were up to and who would be best for our needs (and budget). Sadly, the latter made this aspect of our chat quite short in duration , but I was grateful for her advice and insights.

But the great thing was that thanks to my 'brief' we got onto the subject of her brother, who is Robin Swan, and a rather accomplished fellow all round. Not least of which because he's renowned for such things as going to the Antarctic and clearing up the mess the various other bods down there can't be bothered to deal with and simply discard. So already there was a link.

But it gets better. Warming to a mutual theme, she also told me that he had sailed a very special yacht that used sails made out of old plastic bottles (check it out on . The rest of the site is worth a gander, too). How awesome, not to mention relevant, is that? So on further tangents I will of course be getting in touch to see if we can feature this on our site. 

Everyone will gain, including the sponsor... Coke. Now, what are the odds of getting hold of some relevant guys from there to whom we might pitch a worthy story to make this a tangent that also pays off, literally?

Ah well, you can have too much of a good thing. But... you never know.


I return here, briefly, to follow up on the proposed increase in incineration recently announced, which has stirred up a rather unsurprising amount of controversy.

It's because of some points I picked up following our being put on the Friends of the Earth mailing list, and I have to say that in amongst all the issues raised (from breathing a huge, selfish sigh of NIMBY-esque relief that if these things are plonked in a backyard, it won't be mine, to the one I shared before on how sending up more smoke didn't seem the best idea if global warming is our biggest problem) a few key ones they made did strike me.

For instance: Incinerators are extremely inefficient generators of energy producing more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than old-fashioned coal-fired power stations. That is a fact, if an FoE one, and I have at present no counter information to doubt it. This alone puts up big red flags for the wisdom of this approach. These things are also, by all accounts, very expensive.

But the big one for me is that they require long term contracts that force councils to continue giving waste to the incinerator company, rather than recycling it. For many, many years. It locks us all in to not only a dubious solution, but one that prevents embracing better ones.

This all makes me feel this is a policy that favours those with targets to meet, those working on juicy design, build and operate tenders... and few others.

With the caveat that it is a view from one side, albeit backed by some hard-to-dispute facts, I share the following as worth reading at least: (I've been meaning to ask Emma to create an info category for such issues for a while, so this is a good one to kick off with. But what should it go under? Waste Disposal? Pollution? To avoid being accused of bias I think maybe both). There may well be equally well reasoned and supported counter-arguments, so if and when we get them we will of course share these, too.

Less Fun on Sunday?

The curse of the Martin Albatross strikes again!

Sunday Times considers closing Funday Times kids' supplement

Typical. This was one of the 'influencer media' we'd targeted who seemed likely to feature and reach a relevant audience. I was a bit amazed that it had a staff of five. Shows why we are struggling here with only three of us to generate all the original stuff we have to create, plus acquire and sift all the rest. I hoped they find new homes soon, as I thought it did a good job of informing and entertaining.

It is interesting that it was not deemed to be attractive to advertisers. My kids certainly grabbed each week. I wonder what the reasons were?