Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dell Hell, Redux

They may make reasonable kit at a decent price, but by heavens their customer service system is enough to make one want to hit the blog wires and pen some bile just to vent off the steam.

A wee while ago, I had a message on my answering machine in a lilting Irish brogue, to the effect that I had a new customer service manager, and it was she. No number, no email in complement... no idea how this would end up.

Yesterday the replacement warranty offer on one of our older PCs expired. I had a letter saying it could only be handled by phone, so a few days ago I dialled that fateful number and ended up in a very dark place.

Endless robots who spoke a kind of English listened to what I was trying to say, ignored it and told me what they had been told to tell me. Twice I was cut off. A few score times I was transferred around the world to be asked the same damn question about my inside leg measurement I'd given previously.

And all the while I kept asking... pleading... that they got a message to my account manager that I'd like to talk about this with her. All said they would do so, and now what about this warranty?

I even emailed.

The result? Well, no call back, it has expired, and you know what? I think I'll use the PC 'til it dies and then not bother replacing it. Or buy one from someone who understands customer service. Oh, and the importance of doing what it takes to ...sell.

Dell, you really need to figure out where you are trying to be, and how you are not helping yourselves get there.

Phew... now I feel better.

BBC - PC maker Dell to cut 7,000 jobs

And a side order of soap with your shampoo, sir?

Only organic for me darling

I have no problem with folk blowing their hard-earned any way they like, especially saving the planet in the process, even if it doesn't make much sense financially.

Where I do draw the line is if the enviROI doesn't add up. This is the cost to my kids by a fad actually suckering the totality of the system for a short term marketing gain.

Sadly, it is almost impossible to assess fairly, or in a way consumers will be able to grasp, especially with packaging having to accommodate about a page of A4 with all the pointless, contradictory, a**s-covering, target-meeting, box-ticking guides we already have and are going to find joining them.

And then all we get is those brands we thought we could trust to guide us, like Fairtrade and the Soil Association (plus a few pro-Bono charities), having a spat on which ethical aspect is more important, and it all dissolves into farce.

Still, while there are those who are sincere, some will simply make more quick green-dosh as the planet bleeds.

Yours, with an airflown cherry on top...

Many publicities can these days be stirred up with bad publicity.

Nice to drift over to the world of ads once in a while.

Dr Martens sticks boot in

This commentator (never been called that before, so I'm climbing aboard the bandwagon) could care less about the ad (though asking the relatives might have been polite), but is fascinated by the process surrounding the apparent 'furore'. Was that the term in the original release used to kick-start it?

When I first read about this it seemed to be some kind of student competition that got taken too far, and without the knowledge of senior agency or client. So far, so tee-hee...whoopsie: 'They didn't die with our boots on?"

Now it seems it is/was a commissioned piece, using a high-profile photographer, for a one-off 'authorised' insertion in some medium I've never heard of, like that would render it in better taste than being seen anywhere else. As most awards hounds will tell you, it's quite easy to get a dodgy bit of 'edginess' mainstream with a complicit agency/client/minor-medium cabal, a little bit of MySpace or YouTube to 'find' it has been spread around, with a nudge from the PR division to kickstart the Daily Mail, and...ta-daa: a bit more than was 'intended'.

So... what next? It was all actually a big hoot to get a bunch more PR value than the original, rather average concept warranted. Surely not?

Bless.

Crap ads don't hurt people. Being complicit in helping sell them for a few cheap ratings points does.

BRAND REPUBLIC

Witches' Knickers

I have pretty much given up on BBC Breakfast News now (and they on me, so not much to lose), as they have pretty much given up on news, or at least reporting, in favour of creating visuals of press releases.

However, around the cornflakes it can still often be lurking on in the corner, and I just caught the tail-end of the latest worthy initiative surrounding plastic bags.

Now as I missed the beginning I am not quite sure what it was all about, but here's a link to today's programme, and as this will soon disappear to the initiative in question: mosbags, guerilla bagging.

Sounds fun. No harm. Good luck to them.

But, now, enviROI.

I learned something. 'We' apparently demand/use/dispose of 290 bags a year, and the reporter was seen under a pile of them. Yuk. Thing is, how much plastic is that? No, really, how much? I don't know, but ignoring litter (which IS an issue) and killing wildlife (ditto, though I wonder how much other rubbish in the sea and fields does more), in terms of plastic weight (not volume), how much are we actually talking here? As the aspiring beneficiary of the RE:tie's contribution (though that is turning something that has no use, save disposal currently, into an actual second useful item) I am the first to wish to say every little bit helps, but context is important. If compressed into a block, how many Albert Halls are we talking here or, more personally, how many bottles of fabric softener for example, with one in our kitchen now destined for the bin because I don't know if I can pop it in with the PEP fizzies in the local plastics skip - which to me is a MUCH BIGGER ISSUE!???!

As it is a critique sometimes levelled at much that Junkk.com and I come up with, I also wonder about consumer uptake.

With a family of four and time pressures, my trips to the supermarket are few, far and frantic. What I have done is kept several cardboard bottle carriers in the boots of both cars, which I take with me and pop in the trolley. These make a big difference to the bagging, and with bottles double bagging, that used to be done. I also have a few score hemp jobbies from council shows and eco-expo giveaways, which it now occurs to throw into the mix, too. So this piece has done its job with a slight awareness boost, and credit to them.

But I have to say I need about 10 to handle it all. I noted that this piece was again a bunch of young, single, urban trendies, on foot picking up a sarny and a bottle of Evian (how many bags' worth?), and again wonder how that equates to a harassed parent trying to get the week's shopping in and done.

Personally, if one were organised, I always thought the crate system was better, though the sheer amount of plastic making them seemed huge and possibly poor enviROI from the get go. But the word there is organised. For spontaneity, we are back to remembering to take these no so little bags with us. For a 5 item dash to the corner shop, why not, but for a bigger effort, by foot or even car, how many are going to go there (though logically why not if you are to struggle back with several laden bags) with all these efforts hanging out of your pockets? There is a supposition one is just carrying out that task, from your home base. Is that practical? Is it going to be done?

But, as noted, other countries seem to do fine, and waste is waste, so it must be addressed. I just wish we could be a bit more joined up, recognise some practical realities, and sell it in ways that might appeal beyond a twenty-something BBC researcher's local street community and PR mates, authority box tickers, real-issue, greenwash-distracting, knee-jerk marketers, etc.

Finally, and on a practical note, I was also a little intrigued by the reporter's choice of recycling bin for his 290 bags at the end of the piece: what looked like a street skip. Now unless there are industrial sized collection facilities in his neck of the woods, I'd hazard that all that ends up in there ends up in a landfill, and so to ensure they stand a better chance of actually being recycled would probably advocate popping them in the bin at the supermarket that says 'plastic bag recycling'.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

'Ah'll be barck'

It's spooky when a reader reads what you are reading at the same time, so I'll give Dave of Solarventi a credit, and as writer as well (saves me some RSI!):

A claimed method of direct CO2 extraction from the atmosphere using sorbents – don’t know if it could work on a massive scale but it certainly sounds interesting - http://www.gizmag.com/go/7341/

But when I thought about it for a few minutes, I became rather less enamored of the idea – I can’t help thinking that this sort of solution is perhaps akin to curing a consequential symptom rather than the underlying root cause?

I can see the headlines in a few years now – “Every house should have one! Erect your own CO2 absorbing tower in your garden and continue to fly, drive and burn carbon as much as you like!”

Couldn't agree more and, harking back to a blog on this subject many moons ago, I do recall the movie Total, er, Recall, starring one Arnie. S. Though in that flick it was for good, there is a powerful image at the end of solidified blocks of gas being released and changing the atmosphere in a moment. The towers in the pic even remind me of the movie.

Imagine a bunch of freeze-dried climate gunk suddenly deciding to erupt! I'm sure it couldn't happen, but....

Critical Acclaim

In a few minutes I'm am looking forward to be visited by representatives of Gloucester University, with a view to seeing how they may help me (and, with luck, and in the spirit of barter, me them).

Frankly, the one thing I am desperate for more than anything is manpower, so while it would be silly to divorce this from money, my dream assistance is simply the gift of time.

Lack of it defines our lives, and so much these days that is poor can be firmly laid at its door as a reason, if not excuse.

I know I am in danger of failing what Junkk.com sets out to be, which is in part a positive resource, and in the form of this blog a constructively critical eyebrow check on what's being spewed out in the name of green, much of which actually isn't very, at all.

One thing that keeps the site perky is new information, and a major source of this is from press releases sent. Actually I have not uploaded one in months, simply because 'I haven't had the time' (rubbish... I have, so long as I didn't eat, see my kids or watch a bit of TV at night). Which is a shame, as there is soem great stuff to share.

Another reason is that I am uncomfortable just cutting and pasting a bit of PR simply to bang something out, as often there is the need for a bit of critical analysis as to who or what is being served by failing to do so.

There's just one of me, for now, and so I hope I can be cut a bit of slack in this regard. Others, with more funding, resource and, one would hope, journalistic experience if not integrity, have less excuse.

This, from Dave at Solarventi: Even the big banks...

...are jumping on the bandwagon now! See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6703679.stm
Seems to be a BIG announcement but with almost no substance on just how and what they’re going to do.

Quite.

BBC - Banking on green gesture?

We open with a helicopter shot of the Maldives...

In the spirit of boundless optimism, all my TV scripts started that way. Sadly, never once did it come to pass. I doubt it was much to do with nascent eco-concern on my clients' parts.

So I was interested in this:

Agencies risk axe from COI roster over eco credentials

What counts as a 'valid environmental policy'?

Is it ticking some boxes to keep yet another overstaffed quango in business, or actually engaging in tangible practices across the board that lead to a genuine enviROI?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Nice guys don't get printed

Hey, it has been a long day...

Working from Home May Produce More CO2 than Going to Office

pfft. I like that.

These days there are too many studies that seem intended to achieve little more than stirring the pot and getting the issuer some PR. Job done, I'd say.

It's all been pretty much said already, but as I'm in my home office in the UK let's offer 2 cents. Yes, in winter the heating is still on during the day, but there are these odd little fellas over here we call radiator thermostats, that allow you to tune the room. And, frankly, with a wife and two kids the rooms being heated the rest of the time don't go too low either as they would howl spousal/parental abuse if they are not erring on the toasty on arrival. And there is the notion (upon which I stand ready to be educated), that it may be better to maintain a well-insulated trickle constant rather than allowing to cool and boost heat up too often.

As to a/c... not yet! With global warming... give it a few years. All I know is when I lived in Singapore, with a daily 32 degrees C and 98% humidity, I did just fine with a fan to keep the air moving.

And for the kettle, well, we have a nifty number here called the ecokettle. Does one cup on demand in 30 environmentally-friendly seconds. And I don't have to make one for a bunch of folk that no one quite knows what they produce or even do anyways. Wit titles like 'Director of...' well, you can think of one.

Plus I get to walk with my kids to and from school and work whilst watching the swans on the River Wye.

It's all a tad moot, as I ain't about to budge, and I doubt many others are either.

Interesting headline though. Bet it did wonders for the ratings, despite that 'may' get out clause. Movin' on...

With all the rubbish being talked, this should cheer you up

I like, as you gather, those who get on and just 'do'

Climber collects Everest rubbish

Nice one, Ken

In the no... idea

Miliband a bit green

As it is just up the road I guess I should have gone, but thank you for this review as substitute. Sadly it merely confirms everything I am coming to believe about this government's commitment to things environmental, and its competence in doing anything fair, practical and effective addressing them even if it had any notion beyond meeting targets and making various peripheral, questionably useful folk very rich

After all that has been shared, THIS is the best that they could come up with?

ps: Nice one, Mr. Hood; Nice one.

Guardian - Is political leadership renewable? - How does one get to write these efforts?

I'm a bit more concerned with whether it has the brains, remnants of public-service commitment and honesty to assess the local, national and global enviROI (return on investment that goes beyond the financial and addresses tangible environmental gains and not just target-meeting for bonus-burghers and short-term political points-scoring) of such initiatives and, assuming these to be real and worthwhile, have the ability and small vestiges of trust that are left necessary to explain it to the population in terms they can understand, appreciate and respond to positively.

What are the odds? The last few eco-outings (road pricing, chip 'n bin, etc) have not gone too well, really. Unsurprising, as most seem to have been based on trying to impose on the public penalties to compensate for a decade of listening and fudging, when a bit of early-adoption hearing and acting might have spared a few behinds from the exposure they are trying to shunt over to a less than willing electorate.

It's a pity, because so much of these efforts are needed and do make sense in an ever-more crowed world, but knee-jerks to meet targets, and issuing bonuses to departments and quangos who exceed them with more hype than substance is not the best way, IMHO, to get the public to buy into anything.

More from the Brown mouth.

I just got an invite to another talkfest, again in London. This time from COMPASS, the of the democratic left. I won't be going. Not for any political reasons, but I did a cost/benefit analysis and, even at a reasonable £22, it's too far for what's on offer.

But I did reply to the invite, from the Chair:

Thank you for the invitation; I am afraid I will not be able to attend.

I wish you luck with many of your stated aims.

'in less than a month Gordon Brown will be Prime Minister. Gordon has said he’ll listen and he needs to. '

If this is the best Mr. Brown can manage you are going to need it. I have lost count of the number of occasions where I have heard in person or seen reported that he, or a member of this government 'will listen'. This has fast become code for 'delay as long as possible until it goes away, doesn't matter any more or happens on someone else's watch, preferably after my fellow ministers and I have long gone following a long and comfortable gold-plate funded retirement.' Good for them; not so hot for the rest of us, the country... or planet.

Me, I'd like to see a little more 'doing' all round, and soon. And not the meeting targets kind, the actually doing something good kind.

Maybe you guys can prod them in that novel direction of what public service is supposed to be about again.

Being a Goddess is not easy

I just have to share this from the person the Indy has hired, one presumes at great expense, to discover, share and inspire with us all the travails of going green:

The Green Goddess

Who cannot but empathise with the dilemma being faced, with a free week looming, such that one could not face using it to fly somewhere.

But at least we can all fall back on a Health Spa in deepest Surrey, where the sun shines all week and there is a great new outdoor pool. I'm sure it's not heated, so imagine the further pain being suffered.

I, for one, cannot wait to learn what else she has to share.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Plastic Tracks



I think I can be credited by wanting to know, and hence seeking the most objective explanations wherever possible, but I have to say I just came across a couple of bits of packaging technology and application that have left me stumped for a reasonable raison d'etre.

At some stage the relative merits of in-person vs. online shopping will be clear (well, vs. no shopping at all, I guess), but as a family we do tend to prefer the latter.

Hence the men from TNT, Royal Mail and DHL are often at our door.

And they are always bearing boxes. Now, I'm the first to accept that a damaged item is not helping the planet in terms of waste of material, manufacture and journeys made, but lately the relative sizes of the boxes to the item have got waaaay out of proportion.

And, to compensate, the packing filler has expanded to match... or cope. So I now have miles of this stuff, and am struggling to find a location, suspecting that I might be only one of few who might be so minded.

I am also intrigued by the little 'eco' label on each air-sac. Better than nothing, maybe, but surely to heavens there has to be a better, equally affordable alternative?

People don't pollute. It's just their stuff that does.

People pollute

Hence not so much the elephant in the room, but the cribs?

I'm seeing a new 'Re': reaction

I don't mind doing my bit. What I do mind is being threatened with god knows what if I don't, to mainly dig out of a hole (pun intended) a bunch of pols who chose not to see this coming until now, or line the pockets of their quango and private contractor chums sorting it out (pun intended).

What a rubbish way to run a country

Looks like I'm not the only one.

The logical, fair way, is to reduce what goes into the system, facilitate the means to dispose of what cannot be so reduced (as opposed to fine first and figure out last), and incentivise rather the demonise to inspire public cooperation.

Costly rubbish technology

The logic of the letters written here is so inescapable I can do more
than add my support... and wonder why we have the systems we have,
backed by punitive legislative proposals and/or mammoth and
unworkable systems and ever more 'initiatives' to be managed
by ever more vast armies of assessors, with a thin veneer of publicly-
funded encouragement to cooperate, designed mainly to meet
bonus targets achieved by using our money persuade us to do the work...
and further reward those who couldn't get it right in the first place.

With luck and by being sufficiently upwind of the odious emanations
from these pseudo-green mandarins, if we are by the time still allowed one,
the verdict on all this can be made at the polling booth.

EcoLogical

I don't know about ready for Ozzy as it's saviour, but this inhabitant of the planet is getting a little less than inspired by those who advocate its saving as a career booster (or creative inspiration, to be generous) whilst not as, such, per se, seeing it applying to them as being practical or indeed necessary. I simply can't wait for how Live Earth pans out as a consequence.

As to pols copping the consequences of their actions, the same 'it doesn't apply to me, of course' seems to pervade every corner of Westminster, so no matter what they put in place, they will either not get to experience it or, if in failing to do so as required, pay for it.

Get the feeling we're all just a tad low on inspiration for all we're being fed? Wonder why?

You can let the green elite out of London, but...

"If you are coming to Hay this year then leave the Hummer in the garage and plug in the Prius."

The joys of going green

Some interesting comments here, with valid views on both financial (you can obviously make the choice to lose money but conduct a more eco lifestyle, and more power to your elbow... IF you can afford it) and enviROI (benefit to the planet, which often seems to be worryingly vague with some initiatives I've seen espoused, with a suspicion too much is touted, too enthusiastically and uncritically, as simply looking green without actually being it).

It all boils down to accurate information, delivered without agenda or spin, so one can make purchase and lifestyle decisions in the best interests of the future whilst trying to support a family (as a few have pointed out, it's easier being green with a wadge in the bank and/or the promise of a career funded talking about it).

Bearing that in mind, I'd say the Hummer is not only best left in the garage, but also probably also best left unpurchased. And while the Prius may be the auto-du-jour of the affluent urban eco-warrior, it may not necessarily be best to make the trip from London to Hay in if one has a stable of options in the garage. You'd surely mainly be mainly lugging a battery along for the ride.

Speaking of which, I'm pretty sure it's self charging - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius - 'it uses a gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain, incorporating large batteries that are charged by the gas (petrol) engine directly or by regenerative braking (cannot be plugged in as built)' - so if you do try plugging it in, you may get a bit of a shock.

Me, I think I'll keep my 10-year-old Volvo well-maintained, tyre pressures optimal, and continue to try and figure out whether Mr. Brown's successor will decide that the Treasury is losing too much money encouraging us all to go green, and whacks a load more duty on LPG, bio-whatever or 'it's not just hydrogen, it's Stuart Rose's 6 litre hydrogen-powered Beemer'.

Spinning is tops

A report on something I was present at, and had a rather different take upon.

WI flexes muscles over excess packaging

I was there when this speech was made, and examples of 'gratuitous packaging' were paraded, which lead to the now infamous 'Banana Metaphor'.

Because, in the spirit of my own education and informing the public, I asked why a cited pack of bananas was indeed so wastefully wrapped in plastic. It seemed odd to go to the expense of doing so if it was not necessary.

Considering that meetings had been held with everyone from Gordon Brown to Terry Leahy by the WI, I was a little perturbed that despite the leap to high-profile criticism, no one seemed to have tried to find out why, or derived a satisfactory answer.

Those my question generated from the floor ranged from protection from organic rotting gases to preventing food waste from singletons dropping from hands and being deemed consumer unacceptable. Both potentially environmentally sound, if true, I’d hazard, but I am still unsure as the very industry that handles this seemed to have differing explanations in justification.

One statistic, also needing confirmation, that did strike me was that food waste represents 95% of total vs. 5% from packaging, and hence one wonders why more effort should not be devoted to reducing this first?

Death, Taxes, Bank Holiday Weather...

... and 4x4 protests.

All are inevitable.

Yesterday I picked up my - very bedraggled - sons from a Scouting camp.

It took a bit of doing. They were in a glorious piece of the country, and one reason it is like that is because it is a tad inaccessible.

Now, while it was a very uncomfortable and awkward hump to get all their personal stuff from the camp to the nearest point I could get my car, the mess tents, cooking stuff, etc were... are (still - we go back if we can gain access later this week) another matter.

It got me to wondering what will happen if 4x4s are rendered uneconomically viable or, as could happen, get banned. One could argue that this would return large tracts of the countryside to a kinder, gentler, motorised-free age.

Or... that farming would cease to be practical, and we'll simply entertain our kids by grabbing a plane to where the weather is nice(r).

I just think that before things get too hasty, and to symbolic, we should be careful what we wish for.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

More Cats. More bags. But is anyone listening to the chorus?


This one almost slipped by me: SCANDAL OF WASTED MILLIONS AS BRITAIN'S RUBBISH PILES UP

It's very short, and very tabloid. But worth reading.

Thing is, will anyone pay any attention, much less do anything about it all?

ADDENDUM - A tad more:

THE GREAT DUSTBIN GRAVY TRAIN

I rather fear that this will be dropped and disposed of like yesterday's news. But considering the amounts involved, the public does deserve accountability.

Without wanting to get party political, as Shadow Environment Minister Greg Barker says: “We are entitled to ask what we are getting in return. WRAP has done some valuable work but it is not enough. We need an organisation that is more accountable and has more teeth, rather than just having more consultants, more bureaucracy and more short-term initiatives.”

I'm afraid that if this is the best that can be offered in justification, it is simply not good enough: 'WRAP spokesman Gareth Lloyd last night claimed the quango produced value for money and had met its targets to increase recycling and cut waste going to landfill. He said the salary bill had soared to pay for extra staff to cope with the increase in WRAP’s remit since it was set up seven years ago. '

This time I simply want to know what has been the ROI as a taxpayer, and enviROI as a co-dweller on this planet. I know what they have had to spend, and getting vast sums to create empires doesn't do diddly for either, and when it comes to the comms budget they have had to drive up the rates they get bonusses for improving, I'm sorry, but as an ad man the numbers simply are pathetic.

This offers an interesting complement: Recycling's green contribution questioned
Environment Agency (EA) chief executive Barbara Young has said: “recycling does not really contribute much to tackling climate change.” The comments contradict findings of a 2006 Waste & Resources Action Programme report.

I was moved to reply:

I’m sorry, but as a very confused, and hence hard to engage member of the public (what you don’t understand, or believe, makes persuasion a lot harder. And two funded quangos knocking spots off each other is unlikely to unmuddy these waters) all I need is some simple guidance on what represents good enviROI (benefit to my kids’ future) with, preferably at the same time, a decent financial ROI as a taxpayer.

I’d have to say that, as an alternative to doing nothing, recycling seems a no-brainer. What it’s costing is a much bigger issue. So it may be legitimately asked whether a slavish devotion to meeting targets is the best way other than, as this weekend’s Sunday Express seems to have raised, generating massive financial rewards for those who benefit by spending public money to boost their bonuses. Considering the PR climate and sums committed on advertising, one would blooming well expect rates to go up, so using my money to make me work for free to drive up fat cat incentive schemes seems... quaint, at best.

It’s not a matter of the EA claim saying recycling does not help mitigate climate change – as it patently can do - but simply how much of a positive it represents as a total of our consumer behaviours. And what its relative value therefore is. Especially when it comes to huge public comms budgets. It therefore seems possible that these vast sums may not have been best directed to achieve a worthwhile envROI.

And I, for one, find questioning THAT more than helpful.

Silence is Golden... balls

We seem to be drifting into some kind of a phony war across every aspect of our lives. And I mean it is being 'fought' by phonys from left and right, politically

As I catch up on the past week's emails I have had the TV on and find myself shaking my head.

From civil liberties to the environment, a succession of folk have paraded across the screen and said... absolutely nothing, either through ignorance or choice, about some vastly important issues. Gordon Brown, our next leader, is a truly dire practitioner of this technique, to his immense discredit.

Peter Hain, the aspiring DPM, and member of the Cabinet, seems to have not been in the loop of plans for some swingeing proposals to 'help' counter terrorism. Yet he infers we should give the thumbs up as an electorate.

Ditto the chroming Gallic boss of EDF energy. While I credit Andrew Marr for asking him, I can't help but not the critique levelled recently against the BBC and its celeb interviewers that they give big business leaders an easy ride. As to what we do with all the glowing gunk his proposed nukes will leave behind long after he has retired to his sunny villa, his allowed reply was that 'we should instead focus on the big picture'. Er, no. What are these actual proposals, monsieur? A promised talking shop won't do at this stage.

All these replies are based on trust. But there simply is none, with very good reason.

If the media are incapable of marshaling and reflecting our feelings on this, I can only hope the democratic process may yet to be roused to do so. Soon.

Philips washes greener?

Philips launches green tick logo

I may be missing something by not being privy to more than is outlined in this piece, but I’m afraid it really only raises more questions in my mind.

While any commitment to the environment - by anyone - is better than nothing, I am looking at the enviROI (return on investment to the environment) of this initiative and having trouble tracing it through.

To kick off, this consumer at least has plenty of logos enough already to wade through already, most of which I already have little clue what they mean. And I am presuming this is unique to this brand, which is quaint, but essentially meaningless. I’m sure it will be accompanied by a huge campaign to tout it around, but it’s a wonder how much that will serve to influence my purchase behaviour in a competitive market (especially when other manufacturers will doubtless be designing a leaf out of their own book), versus simply ticking a box on the CSR list at AGM time.

Whilst refreshingly honest, it also seems to make the point that they have a lot that is not that eco, and one has to wonder why? So for me the claim at the end, and the effort behind it, has about as much value as the marketing speak waffle used to explain it. I’m afraid the only green I’m sensing won’t wash.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Space, the final...solution?

I'd already posted on this baby, but in reviewing the posts (a lot, but some good ones, so I broke my 'no more than 100' rule) I found I might have been hasty in my critique of our reaching for the stars efforts. Well, at least the punting rich geezers up there bit , anyway.

As there are some here who seem to know, I would like to tap into the collective intellectual resource being brought to bear to help me with a question.

For a while I have been perhaps a tad less than fair to one Mr. R Branson in having doubts on his claimed green campaigns - towing planes to take-off (did that ever happen?), biofuel-powered planes (could that ever happen?) and £25M eco-prizes (does that include waiving the rights to profit sharing?) - especially when one of his highest profile current extravaganzas seems to be sending rich tourists into space atop what I had thought to be a massive column of greenhouse gasses.

Now it seems that I may have been unjust, and it's all 'just' (I have to presume there's a smidge of energy in the production, and possibly a tad of pollution still involved in the combustion) oxygen and hydrogen, though I also do recall steam to be considered a greenhouse gas.

We have a most helpful earlier offering as regards Ariane, but can anyone enlighten me as to what other space borne efforts, including Virgin Galactic, actually do consume and exhaust?

ADDENDUM:

One of the (many) frustrations of a moderated system is that Qs can cross with As, and debates can get a tad jumbled. A classic of the former has just happened here, and I pretty much got my answer in an overlap. Fortunately, it seems my usual admittance of bozoness, combined with a quest for answers, was not far off the right track. Unless this latest guy is wrong, I guess. He doesn't sound like he would be, though.

Gentlemen... unfurl your sails.

Not convinced: Powerboat plan to go round world in 65 ecofriendly days

'Course, not using any combustible fuel at all and sailing using
no-emission wind power is perhaps a tad more eco-friendlier still -
if you are sincere in trying to make some point about saving the
planet, and not just scoring a few greenwash points and column inches
whilst having a hell of a jolly.

Discus..

..ted.

BBC interviewers 'too frightened of offending big business leaders'

BBC business news failing impartiality test, says report

Meanwhile, our elected representatives continue to lead by example...

Noting the source, but the facts still seen clear: Prescott stretches 'junket' into family holiday

Ditto: Blair’s farewell tour stains his green legacy with carbon

Sunday Telegraph - Things we won't miss: Two Jags, 19.8 staff, a £2.4m bill

Green Rush The Growers... Oh

I'm not sure, but the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and Dubya must be allowing themselves a small sherry and a snicker about now.

This is what it looks like online: Organic move to cut food flights

I don't know if it was/is a SlowNewD, but what I saw on the TV screen seemed a tad less calm. In fact more knickers seemed to be getting twisted than a tornado passing through the Ladies' Unmentionables Department at your local M&S.

And, as always, I think the consumer, closely associated by the planet, looks to be coming out of this dazed, confused and a lot worse off. But at least the ratings are going to be healthy, so there are some winners.

So far I have seen a succession of green interest groups, with a few others from the pro-Bono end of feeding the world/poor lobbed/ing in for good measure, pretty much knocking spots off each other as to who is more worthy, and why their cause is better than someone else's. All on a nice salary and pension no doubt. I never knew there were so many spokespersons for things 'I'm not quite sure what they actually do' around.

I just hope that out of all this furore in a Fairtrade coffee cup there may be a result that has a good enviROI. Just because it has come from another country doesn't mean it has cost the planet as much, as force rearing artificially here can be worse. And the packaging may mean it gets consumed rather than consumer-unacceptable quality material simply gets ditched.

Of course, what I don't seem to have heard to much is the odd notion of us not expecting to have it all, all the time, on demand. And though I am usually pretty pro-choice and pro-consumer, for a retail spokesperson to say they have to do it to meet consumer demand is a tad disingenuous.

Times - Green masterplans make Sainsbury’s boss see red

Indy - Organic movement faces split over air-freighted food

Indy - Dominic Lawson: A lesson in how to dig yourself into a hole


Thank you for this piece. Most thought-provoking.

I have a saying, which I have used so long I may have actually nicked it and forgotten I had: 'Nothing that is green can be viewed only in black and white'.

Sadly we seem to be moving into a ever more complex eco-areas, but those who can and should know a lot better (including some in the media) are in my view making matters (In assessing eco-value I tend to apply my own measure on most things: the enviROI, or return on investment to the environment, which I admit is in itself is simplistic by being more concerned with immediate climate change impacts than social costs) a lot worse by applying some very hasty, poorly-considered cookie-cutter initiatives for more than dubious reasons.

I am in particular vexed by what I see these days in the arena of all things 're', with meeting targets and paying out bonuses as a consequence often taking precedence over actually doing any good.

I would like to think we could afford a few brief moments to take a breath and think through some hugely expensive, often woefully negatively impactful and almost inevitably uncancelable endeavors before leaping into them. And asking what exactly we, and the plant are actually get for the vast sums that seem to be paid to those who would claim to be qualified to manage this on our behalves, often with almost no real accountability.

Telegraph - Organic vegetables face air freight ban

Mirror, mirror, pure and clean; just like my image if I'm Green.

How Green is Blair?

I managed to miss this episode, both live and in the next day online follow-up. Which is frustrating, and also renders me ill-equipped to comment in an informed manner. But as this hasn't stopped most media much these days, here goes.

Noting that now ex-Ethical man a few posts over has managed to generate in excess of 100 replies (to not too many here, bearing in mind this is discussing the enviro-record of the guy who has overseen our green performance for the last decade, and set much that is yet to happen in place) to support his justifications for getting back on air again, as it is relevant I would like to offer one opinion.

In asking 'How Green is Blair', or indeed any person who would seek to tell us how to take on this colourful hue, surely a major factor must be in looking at what they say vs. what they do.

In the case of Mr. Blair the politician, I am presuming the story I missed laid bare his record. I'm sure it was illuminating, and his explanations hand-wringingly sincere and 'adept' at satisfying his and the news media's agendas.

However, I am still trying to reconcile how anyone who doesn't seem to feel what he 'needs' to do (for instance, the global lecture circuit - to pay for a lifestyle choice he and his family seem to enjoy and seek to maintain) as it 'isn't practical not to', is different and exclusive to what the rest of us are facing.

I am prepared to be lead by visionaries, but only those who can also do so by example. Otherwise, they can go fish.

I used to be ethical, but now I'm not it's all ok

Has flying been unfairly demonised?

So I watched the cause of reduction being simply being played with for a year, and then figuratively as well as literally get dropped into the bin at the end.

Now, having waded through a lot of interesting, useful, worrying and frankly gob-smackingingly scary stuff here, I think the most potentially damaging thing to the environment I have read is in the original post: '...now that I’m not Ethical Man'.

You can do a lot more damage from within. Ask any Trojan.

Hope the ratings were worth it.

Charity begins...?



It must often seem I have a bit of a 'thing' about charities.

Ignoring for now the value they have as a complementary source for social good, they certainly also provide an incredible re:use function as well.

And when done well, on both counts, I am here to applaud and support. For instance, as mentioned before, by trying to figure how to use Junkk.com to divert the much dreaded plastic bag for where it is not wanted... to where it seems it is. That first poster is asking for your old, clean bags!

However, I also feel they can get it wrong, and the other poster is an illustration. I was actually directed to it by an old lady neighbour, who was not impressed. I have to agree. It's bad enough them getting to compete unfairly with rate-paying retailers selling new goods at cut prices, (my view is that they should be re-selling nifty second hand bargains alone), but the symbolism of selling 'brand new hats for Ascot' just didn't sit right.

I think they can find a niche in our consumer sector, and it need not be restricted to a grubby one, but not in this way, with such luxury goods possibly made for the purpose and competing with a nearby haberdasher struggling to compete in a harsh climate.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Building Bridges

As I am more in the habit of burning my bridges before I get to them, it is nice for a change to see some valuable construction work bear fruit.

Yesterday I was strolling back through town when I chanced upon an expo (well, a few stalls) in the Market Square, one of which was festooned with 'recycle now' banners.

Now, as may be recalled, I am a little chary of some from this sector, having felt Junkk.com to have been at best poorly served, and at worst rather dubiously treated by a couple of dodgy dealers of theoretically green-promoting largess in the past.

Anyway, fresh from swallowing my pride at Total Packaging, and with luck forging new and useful bonds with a WRAP big-wig, and having found a new soulmate at Eden Project (whose previous PR director treated me and our lovely Head of Prose and Comms Anita so shabbily a few years back) the other day in London, I decided to see if the magic may apply on a more local basis.

Well, fingers crossed, it looks like it may. I had a very nice chat with Jeremy, the officer of the day, and as a consequence ended up talking with the head bod for Hereford and Worcestershire's enviro efforts. And, thanks to this, we should see a whole new level of synergistic bonding taking place. For a start, they were happy to have our stuff on the stand, so I dashed home to get a standee and flyers to them asap. And these will now be touring around, much as the Junkk.com demo kit is currently doing in Cumbria. They help me; I help them. How sweet is that?

And to kick off from our side, I am happy to share what they were doing there, which was promoting a kitchen waste sink macerator device, with added grant. And very nice both look too, both environmentally and financially.

I initially had my doubts, and expressed them rather starkly by asking 'How the heck does flushing pureed waste down my sink help the planet?'.

Well, the answer was simply and convincing, if disappointing to learn that (as is too often the case) it is not applicable in very many other places.

Because it seems that our local water guys have in place a system to collect biogas from the sewage system, and better yet then recover the resulting dry matter for use as fertiliser. And that makes for a 'win win' in my book. So I will be applying and installing asap, as it is also not beyond the ken of a fair DIYer... apparently.

I'll still be using the compost bins for most organics as I think I can find uses for this at home, but as this machine will chew up the rest and squirt it to enviROI+ nirvana, it gets my full endorsement and with-feet vote.

Nice one council, water board and others! Let's hope such an initiative catches on everywhere.

For those in the relevant areas, once they give me the PR and details I'll upload it.

Scott and Peter and Ted and Malice

The ongoing, spooky (at least as it seems to mirror my life) genius that is Dilbert.

Forces of IT evil - 0, Peter - 2

Well if that isn't asking for it, I don't know what is.

Two small victories for me over my LCD (lowest common denominator) screen status. Well, 1 and three quarters.

First, up, having blown 3 times the price of a Windows compatible, I at least have a Skype phone, on my Mac, that seems to work. That is, I made a call and received one. Whether I will do it without the help of a tech expert next time is another matter. But I am now online and freely available... literally, if sometimes not actually able to come to the phone.

The other is our first test of the upgraded Junkk.com site. Very exciting, except for the fact that a lot didn't work, which is why we have it on a test server. Can't wait to let it loose. New homepage with auto-updates of latest ideas and blogs. New functionalities such as a much more useful edit/delete function on JunkkYard. And some major glitches sorted. Sweet.

Well, when they work.

Oh, what a waste of...?



I was an odd youngster. Where others were wearing their hair long and their politics left, I was usually considered a touch on the Tory side. Which annoyed me a lot, and actually such labels still do bug me for their all-encompassing nature, as it seldom adequately described where I was coming from, which was trying to assemble personal best from the policies that all sides were espousing.

But one thing was sure, when it came out, I really didn't see the problem with Poll Tax. While a few others most certainly did. Riotously so. Maggie outingly so. I can't recall exactly when it was now, but it may have had something to do with me owning my first flat and sharing it with a mate, and our paying on where it was and not what we used had something to do with it.

Hence I find myself with odd, and conflicted feelings about all that surrounds the newly-announced Waste Strategy and all the media surrounding it, a small sample of which (noting how the leanings of some are evidenced by the spin they put on the same facts) can be surveyed here:

Telegraph - England's rubbish crisis -
Telegraph - Cash carrot to curb the family's rubbish -
Telegraph - Miliband offers recycling carrot -
Telegraph - Households to face £30 recycling fines -
Times - Waste Not, Want Not -
Times - Pay-as-you-throw scheme for waste ‘penalises householders’ - 'Recycling volumes will rise most quickly if the Government smooths the path of those who make a living from reuse and reclamation. There is no place yet for fining or taxing those individuals yet to appreciate the benefits of an afterlife for their rubbish.'
Times - Councils ‘need money to meet costly targets’ -
Mail - Now you'll have to pay to take your rubbish to the tip - But if they try to avoid these charges by driving their domestic refuse to the tip, they will have to pay anyway.
Express - DUSTBINS: NOW WE FACE FINES AND TAXES - Lower-income households receiving council tax benefit - often families with young children - could also be exempt, despite generating relatively large quantities of waste with nappies and other trash - er, excuse me...?
Indy - Cash rewards to reduce rubbish disposal - Every household in the country could have at least five bins in the future to allow separate collections for glass, paper, cans, plastics and food waste, though not garden refuse - tell that to Elsie in her flat opposite!
Indy - Legislation to tackle excess packaging - I still await how 'excess' is defined any better than 'necessary' without also clamping down on every other aspect of consumer culture, from advertising to fashion.
BBC - Bin charges 'to boost recycling'

By any measure, I should be up there waving from the rooftops. It seems to be exactly what the young me was in favour of, and how the old me lives. But...

There is an odd unease in the land of Martin at the logic behind it, the competence of those who would put it into effect, and the actual enviROI that is going to be derived vs. the social divisions, public rejection and possible 'targets rather than tangibles' measures to be imposed.

I choose to be optimistic, as there is a lot of talk of reward and incentive, but this has to be complemented by the mechanisms to do the right thing easily and conveniently. People are starting to wake up to the fact that much of what is out there is a big fine waiting if you do not work for free for councils who you pay, and who pay contractors big money already. I don't mind doing my bit, but certainly want it appreciated and acknowledged. I do not like being forced to act in support of overpaid and inefficient systems, especially under threat. On a personal level, but also as a matter of logic, if segregated recyclable materials are a resource, why would I be penalised for bringing them to a collection centre? Should I quickly throw out all I have collected over the last few years into one massive, mixed black plastic bin liner and simply drop it outside. How on earth does that serve the environment????!

There is also the not so small matter of what is actually being done, and what is seen to be done. A few too many of the proposed initiatives smack of populist window dressing, tackling high-profile but irrelevant targets at the expense of real ones. There still seems a typical, massive, and hugely wasteful focus on trying to deal with the end point problem by using those who have little control over it all as scapegoats, when so much more could, and should be done (and a heck of lot more transparently in a financial sense) as things go into the consumer system before they become disposable.

For my kids' futures, I expect substance, and not window dressing, and if they can't find a way to sell it to the public with their existing methods, maybe they need to change. Or be changed.

Here it is: DEFRA

The Big Apple Bore

New York may be a greener place but it's also become boring. Whatever happened to Sin City?

I am very much of the view that anything is better than nothing, and anyone is better than no one when it comes to making the planet a better place for future generations. So if it's boring it may be preferable to being interesting for all the wrong reasons.

And hence I have to say most on the list of initiatives seems pretty tame, logical and, with luck, likely to have a welcome effect.

Where I do get concerned, from billionaires upwards, is when the actual agenda is not too driven by altruism.

While the positives may still outweigh the negatives, there is a very broad and complex series of factors at play here, from difficult to quantify ones like 'awareness' and 'public motivation', to simple, tangible carbon reduction.

While not always easy, I try and judge all I am served by its enviROI, the actual benefit to what goes up in smoke at the end of the day, as this seems to be our most pressing area to address.

Sadly, and all too often, I find too many fail by being more minded to meet a target, score a rating, a political point or push a project through. And that does not help my kids' futures.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

All roads (and train lines) lead to London. Darn it.


Caption 1 - The carpark at Didcot Parkway. Rich in symbolism, I felt.


Caption 2 - The goodie bag from the do. I'd have to say a few trees were hurt in the making of this show. Ah well, all in a good cause. And I did get a few things I can now re:view.

For a London boy, I find myself oddly in dread of going there. Yet, inevitably, I find myself doing so, again and again. Big lights, big city. Centre of all things.

Yesterday was another long day, but a worthwhile one.

The trip itself was very pleasant, both ways, though at four hours in either direction totalled a working day alone. I have been further experimenting with my options, and this time decided to try Didcot Parkway in another car/train combo.

By way of nerd analysis, I break down the trip in several ways, pretty much in this order of importance:

1) Cost (miles, fare, parking, tube, etc)
2) Time (on the road, on the train, hanging about for connections)
3) Convenience (turn up and step on or sweat on a connection)
4) Reliability (will they shut the motorway... again. Will the cancel the train.. again)
5) Flexibility (can I turn up or do I need to book? And can I change my plans?)
6) Comfort (sitting in my case next to the loos. Sitting at Swindon waiting for the missus to get me)

The drive was lovely, but did take 2hrs. I'd say petrol was pretty fair, especially as I took the small car. What was nice was the ticket price (except the parking) - £20 - but it was pretty restrictive. It kicked in at a a fair (fare?) enough post-rush hour 9.30am, but had a rather inflexible, pre-4pm, post 'lord knows how late' return, which made for an undignified early duck out and some Cinderella style scampering to get there to avoid becoming a pumpkin (or end up being penalised). This added the additional 2hrs. Other than standing on the way back, it was all comfortable, but the time and convenience was pretty low. Not sure I'd do it again, as all I managed was a rushed few hours to do the biz.

And this was two-fold. First up was to meet a potential advisor on hooking up with venture capital/business advisers for RE:tie. This went very well and is looking promising. I'd not go so far as to say that RE:tie is a no-brainer, but in the current climate its business applications are pretty clear... IF handled well. I came away feeling this chap knew where I was coming from and, more importantly, what and who it would take to make the journey to where I want to go a decent one for all concerned.

The other bird that got duly well stoned was the annual Bray Leino (possibly the world's most soothing homepage) networking bash (oddly, though this was held in London, most there who I met were from anywhere but). This is a specialist eco-PR agency who I came across as a consequence of them and us being involved with ecover. Sadly no one from that company was there, but a lot of other more than interesting, and I hope mutually regarding folk were. Such as dyson (new product out, which I plan to review soon), ecotricity, green.tv... and innocent. And it's true what they say - you can be as virtually whizz-bang as you like, but it really only happens in person over an organic quiche and a glass of fresh OJ (I made that last bit up).

Bonds were forged, with luck, and opportunities will I hope soon be created.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

You can call me 'Al'

ETHICAL MAN GOES GLOBAL

'Newsnight's one-time Ethical Man, Justin Rowlatt, travels (somewhat unethically by plane) to India - ETHICAL MAN GOES GLOBAL'
-----------------------

I don't know how he fared with families there, but he didn't do too well here. As to whether it was 'somewhat' something ending in 'ical', ethics were not the first thing that sprang to mind.

Glibly admitting the blatant nature of a 'don't do as I do; do as I say' reason, if not excuse, really doesn't (green)wash any more, even with the sad attempted justification of 'raising awareness'. But it is still being trotted out as if it justifies anything, no matter how superfici-al (another one) done in the name of eco.

As Saint Bob Geldof recently opined about the forthcoming Live Earth concerts: 'We are all pretty [gosh darn] aware enough already, and really don't need a bunch more celebs flying all over the place to tell us'. Such as Mr. 'Well, you know, not flying isn't really practical...for folks like ME' Blair, 'You can call me - in my Lear - Al' Gore, Leonardo 'I try to fly commercial' diCaprio, Richard 'So it's a few rich guys atop a column of greenhouse gasses to have a Kodak Moment in the stars - but I've sponsored a prize' Branson' and every eco-writer whose doom and gloom book has been preceded by a global promo tour.

All followed, or mirrored by just as '-al' journalists who seem big on justification and low on irony. I imagine it will not be long before Justin has to fly up to the icy wastes to join half the BBC already there 'studying' what Global Warming is doing to the icy wastes, thanks in part to all the folk flying up there to 'study' it.

Sure it may be your job. But that's the point. We all have jobs, and a lot of them involve some form of flying. If you won't... can't... shouldn't have to forgo this in the name of earning a living, why the heck should anyone else? THAT is the only message all this fake concern for the environment conveys. The BBC trumpets the world's largest network of correspondents, so why do we need one to fly, presumably with crew, to India to report on it there? If it's for a quick entertainment ratings fix then admit it, but don't try and pretend it is 'somewhat unethical' or has one whit to do with concern for our planet or kids' futures upon it.

I just look forward (with dread) to when a few thousand Indian journalists come over here to see how our water levels are doing, followed by a newly affluent middle class from Asia who as a consequence don't think any restrictions need to apply to them either. No wonder, with such a message from the media: 'whoever it is, it isn't me'.

THIS was his first return at living ethically having ended his year and dropped the 'attempt' like last night's leftovers in the waste bin???! He can, apparently, because he's 'no longer ethical'. Well, golly, that's all right then.

No wonder George isn't giving up his car. Good to see he can get his aircon fix at M&S though. I guess paying for plastic bags here soon will make up for it.

Nice one, BBC... nice one.

VIDEO


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Team.. er.. Work

Or... jobs for the boys & girls?

Just got this press release:

Office of the Third Sector appoints four Deputy Directors to spearhead new team structure

The Deputy Directors will each lead a new team, created as part of the recently announced OTS restructuring and coming into effect on June 4, and play a pivotal role in the leading and implementing the Government's approach to the third sector.

The range of skills and experience of the new appointees, encompassing considerable achievement in both public and third sectors, will help the OTS strengthen levels of understanding and partnership between the third sector and every level of government.

Now, while I am all for strengthen levels of understanding, and positively over the moon about the possibility of partnership (well, still waiting for any yet, but I'm sure it's coming), and accepting this is an exciting new sector to 'engage' with, but I do have to wonder what four new DDs and 'teams' adds up to in terms of service delivery and ROI to the taxpayer.

Just asking.

Those who report on the rich and famous are different to you and I...

... they evidently have no shame:

Indy - Her Majesty's parliamentary press corps are hopping mad. For years
they have had the privilege of parking their cars for free in the
Mall but there has now been a crackdown. Hacks will now have to fork
out 2,200 pounds a year for parking on the Mall, which is set to make
for an interesting set of expenses over the coming months.

Why, pray, do they need a car in the first place?

'No flies on us' zone

Nothing like a good bit of in-depth, critical repor... printing of a press release:

Global travel firms unite in climate-change drive

I look forward very much to the arrival of any bio-fuel that is 'carbon free', as I rather suspect that some may still be involved.

However, in the great trading scheme of things, if we are on a possible window measured in decades, it may be wise, no matter how unpalatable to the current lifestyle expectations of the richer nations and their populations, to also look at the possibility of a little less gadding about in the first place. That way we don't have to knock down forests to make the stuff and burn it in the first place.

Pretty please:)

You scratch my back?

A curiously uneditorialised press release being reprinted here, all the more odd as it is from a rival paper group:

Murdoch: I'm proud to be green


Just one quick question; one of many this piece raised in my mind. As they obviously exist, but given that my 1/2sqm solar suitcase promises 13W on a good day, how exactly do these work?: '...practical measures include solar-powered golf carts to carry people round..'

Monday, May 21, 2007

'Aving a LARHF

Mars forced into u-turn over animal products

There seems to be a whole new level of 'aving a LARHF (Left And Right Hand Foul-up) these days, where it almost beggars belief that one side of a marketing-driven organisation can institute something without those who may offer valuable views (especially to avoid boo-boos) having a say.

In this PC, inclusive, multi-allergic world, a major fmcg didn't commit to adding an animal-based product to some ranges where before there was none, without someone in the decision chain going: 'Er, hey guys, what about...?'.

Then again, if it were not for the cost involved and the amount of egg that should rightly be spread over various faces (with all due deference to Vegan sensibilities), have seen the more than chipper spokeslady making the most of the media interest last night, one could almost be forgiven for thinking that 'any publicity is good...'. Like it was meant to be:)

National Vegetarian Week (21-27 May 2007) - Gosh, what a coincidence!

Ask a silly question...

Is the environment a vote-winner?

Yes, so long as the enviROI (environmental end-benefit) is real, assessed without agenda, applied with long-term fortitude, with the pros and cons explained to the public clearly, based honestly and sold without spin.

So, no matter what hue from the political spectrum the next knee-jerk, half-considered, tomorrow's vote-swapper initiative gets served up from... then the answer must be... probably.

Trouble is, there will be one inevitable loser: the planet, and our kids' futures on it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Better than expected?

I just opened a read the latest email newsletter form the latest in a long line of lifestyle newsletter/feeds that I get. It's called ecogeek, and perfectly good it is too. Today they are suitably excited about their progress:

Another Milestone is Upon Us. We've just passed 1,000 RSS users and are officially being forced onto a dedicated server because people love us so much!

Even more awesome? EcoGeek is now providing content to Yahoo! along with a few other top environmental blogs like TreeHugger and WorldChanging. Check out green.yahoo.com for more.

Good for them, and well done. But it got me to thinking. Junkk.com does waaaaay better than that. Click on the link and we do a lot better than Yahoo, too.

Now, I need to capitalise on this as it obviously matters. And helps spread the word further.

Yet again, this is an area I know of, but not much about, and need to get going on this pronto.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Politics. As Usual.

Good day for burying awkward news?

'Just how does this fit into Gordon Brown's new attempt to build trust?'

Well, I suppose it does seem a good way of trying to erase analysis of various parties' roles in the last ten years, and 'starting afresh', in theory untainted by the fact that he and most who still surround him were in the room when it all happened... Pensions, Education, Health, Iraq...

I'm still trying to get to grips with how this government thinks they bear no responsibility for their collective actions previously - under a leader they elected, - simply because a new leader has oozed into the top slot due to lack of... well, everything really.

I for one am living what they have created and know who bears responsibility. Trouble is, when it comes to voting them out there is precious little alternative, though I'm damned if this time I'll allow my protest be deemed a 'spoiled vote'. It was a democratic statement of my view on the competence who would claim to be fit to lead us, and should have been accorded status as such.

I just hope the 'Anyone but these clowns' clown who does get in has the humility to realise that by scraping in with a pathetic percentage of a pathetic percentage who vote does not count, nor should be trumpeted as 'a mandate from the people'. What are the odds?

Indy - The MP, his quad bike and a phoney scare story - Well said. It's just another nail in the coffin of the people's faith, and trust, in those who would claim to 'serve' the public.

Letters - QED

Indy - MPs have no reason to be exempt from FoI law, watchdog warns

Crashing the party

It's pretty obvious that there are opportunities for promoting Junkk.com on social networking sites, especially as it has a lot that is visual and you can 'do'. And I'd like think our structure and style is appropriate and attractive to such audiences.

Other than the small matter of finding the time to tackle this task, it is also important to do it right. Hence I was pleased to stumble across this piece, which I found useful: Avoiding the MySpace Mistake (though the title may be a tad misleading - we should make such mistakes as MySpace! It in fact refers to etiquette upon it)

Getting Out & About

In terms of priorities, with all that is going on I seem to have a list 'yaaaaay long' of what to do first. Cloning self would be a good start.

However, pretty near the top, it seems obvious that while I have devoted so much time to RE:tie of late, Junkk.com has played second fiddle. I don't mean the site itself so much, which in theory is bubbling along on its own by being designed as a user-managed and evolving experience (exciting new features to come soon, though!), but promoting it.

For a long time I have been well aware of the potential of such sites as YouTube, MySapce, etc in offering routes to expose new markets to what we have on offer, especially as so much of it is stuff to 'DO', and is so visual. I'd also like to think we're pretty hip too, but by using that word I'm probably showing I'm not the guy to ride that particular wave.

Anyway, I was therefore grateful for this piece in BusinessWeek - Avoiding the MySpace Mistake - and even was moved to write to the author.

While my site is itself a budding social exchange, it is obvious to me that there are many opportunities for 'promotion' out there on sites such as MySpace, YouTube, etc.

The key is 'cutting through' and getting noticed, but in focusing on how to do that it would be all too easy to forget there are certain key considerations that need to be borne in mind, and this article was a valuable reminder of these.