Thursday, June 28, 2007

Today's Top Ten .....

... Predictions. (About Climate Change)

As presented in The Times by the eminent Scientist (maybe?), Zoologist (yes), Climatologist (probably not?) and sometime explorer, Tim Flannery.

Nothing to cause too much dissention in them, was my first thought, but the response comments contain some of the most vitriolic, vehement arguments against AGW that I've ever seen.

"His next job will be as a carnival psychic, clairvoyant, or palm reader. He is well rehearsed in making vague predictions that fit any eventuality."

"Anyone who considers Tim Flannery to be a font of scientific knowledge displays their own ignorance. "

"It is my understanding that Tim Flannery has no scientific credentials. His claims have little or no substance. "

"ten of the most wishy washy unproven and heavily contradicted predictions of all time, I'd say."

"The notion that Man is causing global warming is as ludicrous as a flea floating on his back down a river, with an erection, yelling 'Raise the drawbridge!' "

I suppose everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I can't help suspecting that these responses are probably very similar to what the first 'scientists' who claimed the earth was round, as opposed to flat, received. (Generally just before they were put to death as heretics!)

Just a little poser for you - is this the same Tim Flannery who was voted Australian of the year and subsequently much abused by some in government over there?

Let the work of change begin

So ol' Golden's now in charge, and talking about change. The Telegraph.

After ten years of 'fiscal prudence' ensconced in No. 11, during which time ol' Golden has presided over: ...............

- An iniquitous raid on pension funds (including a huge chunk of mine);

- More than 100 increases in various taxes, both direct and indirect;

- The employment of millions of extra 'public servants' (who the rest of us have to pay for, including their gold-plated, index-linked pensions!);

- Council tax that has gone up by more than three times the level of inflation over the decade(with a corresponding reduction in services!);

- The pouring of extra billions into the NHS bottomless hole without any visible improvement;

- The waste of billions on what now appear to be pointless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq;

- 'Massaged' inflation figures against which pay deals have been set, so that millions now earn less in real terms than they did ten years ago;

........ I'm afraid that all I have left in my own pocket is ............... change.

What's the betting that the new incumbent of No. 11 finds some novel way of taking that off me too?

BBC - Brown to unveil further changes
BBC - Cabinet faces: Old and new - Hilary Benn for Environment. Let's see.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Think tank says nuclear is not viable option

There are many of us who have always assumed that the nuclear power generation option was the reliable, if not necessarily the most pleasant or desirable, backstop; perhaps giving mankind a few more decades leeway in order to develop more efficient and cost effective renewable energy power generation options.

It looks as if we will have to think again. This report via Reuters suggests that the planet cannot afford it, in terms of cost, logistics, or of security.

" ... if it [nuclear] was to play a significant part in curbing carbon emissions, nuclear power would have to provide one-third of electricity by 2075. That .... meant building four new nuclear plants a month, every month, globally for the next 70 years."

One of the report's conclusions is:- "Unless it can be demonstrated with certainty that nuclear power can make a major contribution to global CO2 mitigation, nuclear power should be taken out of the mix"

Back to the "Arks 'R Us" drawing board then .......

Silence is Golden

There are awards in the enviro sector, too (actually, I am pretty sure there are awards for everything, including Funeral Direction), with equally scammy entries, and so I feel justified in sharing: What is your stand on "scams"?

Half a day gone almost, and still no reply. Hmnn.

Maybe it's creative use of white space, with minimal, but eloquent, copy (or, in fact, none).

I know, let's submit it! Does this Forum count as a legit medium? Now, which category....

Oh, rats, I've spoiled it now. Sorry.

Floods of neglect?

I'm not even going to comment on this other than to recommend reading the article, and perhaps the first 12 or 15 response comments. Talk about lighting the blue touchpaper!

Taken from The Guardian CIF, this just shows how far apart peoples' views can get when stirred up just a tad.

There's a slightly more measured article on the Channel 4 website that's also worth a viewing.

I'll just wade back across to the office now .................

MyFace and SpaceBook. And YouBo. And BeTube. And...

I'm over 40. So I can't network socially (apparently) online simply by an inability to work these new-fangled computer thingies.

Nor, some yoof commentators would have us believe, should I try.

Well, sadly for them, and for the sake of, I have, and am. Trying, that is.

I have to admit some work for me. Some don't. I see the value of all, to varying degrees, and need to 'work' them to help our message. I don't see me being the best to do this, so am hoping that some of the chats I'm having with educational institutions about work placements here for students will bring a golden opportunity or few. I'm still not clear how one breaks through, as a vast marketplace, even online, still requires something to make your shingle stand out. Either a growing friends list, I guess, or the quick hit of a popular viral.

So I was simply interested, with little to add as the debate seems to have been well covered already, in this: Do Facebook and MySpace suffer from a class divide in the UK?

Then again, for profile maybe I should...., Word up!

"Any colour, so long as it's green"?

This certainly twitched my eyebrows somewhat. From The Times.

BMW "makes cars that are much more fuel-efficient than the likes of the hybrids built by Japanese manufacturers"

Well, that statement made my eyebrows reach the top of my forehead! If that's true, why the German consumer rush for the Pious et al?

They reckon that its down to a "colossal failure of marketing by the German auto industry".

The consumer survey final point is a real WOW:-
Within ten years ...."more than a quarter of people say that they will not have a car at all and 50 per cent say that they will have some kind of environmentally friendly vehicle: a hybrid, an electric car, a hydrogen-fuelled car or an LPG-powered car."

So its all about consumer perception then. The big question is just how much that perception is driven by marketing? Or, perhaps, how much is marketing driven by consumer perception?

Who's greenwashing who? If the Advert says it's green, then is it always so? EnviROI answers on a postcard please.

And on the same day that this story appears, BMW announce plans to radically reduce the CO2 emissions across their vehicle range. Details on Motoring Reuters. And other additional gizmos to reduce fuel consumption - details at What Car.

Maybe the first salvos in a new marketing effort to overcome their previous 'colossal failure'?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cause and effect... s

By virtue of living right next to it, having watched the flooding on TV I was expecting the Wye River to soon be joining me in the lounge.

Strangely, nothing happened, he says, firmly touching wood.

But there are some pretty nasty things going down, and I have been interested in the coverage so far. Especially on Breakfast TV, with the boss lady of the Environment Agency on hand to offer the kind of advice that is great in theory, but perhaps a little less easy to put into practice.

I also caught a few 'never seen befores' flying about as to the level of the, well, levels.

Now, at risk of being labelled a 'big oil-funded denier' BOFDi, I had cause to ponder this.

As one who thinks there may be something to all this (and hence merit in appropriate mitigations), I nonetheless do concern myself at what gets laid at whose door, opening up which Pandora's Box first to put things right.

My main area of kinked eyebrow is how much is down to new and unimproved weather conditions caused by man-made climate change (with all sorts of carbon trading initiatives just waiting to be brought to bear as a consequence, with measurability and accountability on the never-never), and how much to pretty dire decisions on the ground; which can, and should, be made accountable quicksmart.

There are a lot more of us, living on a lot more land, concreting it over, requiring resources from it and pushing gunk back out. To what extent are these demands, and the political 'quick fixes' ('Eh up, let's pop 500 registered voters on that flood plain, lad') to accommodate these responsible for these floods, and how much to the heavens that have opened to cause this issue?

Both are serious, and both need addressing. But I would just like to make sure those Chicken Littles who are responsible for the more immediate, short term and more correctable causes (if, as I suspect, they may exist) do not get a free pass by shunting everyone's attention solely to a falling sky.

Indy - Letters: Flooding - Looks like I am not alone

Democracy Inaction 2

Last night, after a long day, I struggled up the hill to the local council offices for a meeting about the 'Town Plan'.

I was flattered to have been asked, especially as the invitation was based on my potential contribution to proactive and positive environmental measures. So long as no one was expecting me to do a Canute on the floods, I was hoping to have something to offer.

I'm afraid to say I ended up leaving after an hour and a half when, after the obligatory tea break, the next session looked like an equally pointless point-of-order marathon as the first. With nothing on matters environmental looking like being anywhere in the frame.

I come from a different world, obviously. In advertising, time is money, and everything is designed to shorten the first and reduce the second. So the brief is all, and being brief even better. So while meetings are inevitable you have a clear agenda and ensure only those who need to be there are, and you bang through what everyone needs to do to arrive at actions as soon as possible.

What I stumbled into was a masterpiece of vague, over-populated mainly by those with no other commitments in their waking hours save for the task of putting others to sleep. And an inordinate love of their own voices. The only high, and amazing point, was the presence of some committed young folk who actually cared enough to attend, one presumes in the hope that they will make a difference. Big up to them. And good luck.

There was talk of the democratic process, but as a town resident I would never have heard of it unless invited, seemingly through being a bit known for, but also for making some noise about other local issues of late. And though there was a fair spread of folk there, I'd say a few dozen was hardly representative and honestly most were, like me, and with a few exceptions, the wrong side of 50, mainly councillors or parish representatives. Let's face it, at 7pm you are not going to get many with families to feed, or simply be with at the end of a working day.

I also got to pondering who was paid to be there, who was compensated (travel at least), and who was there on a voluntary basis. Because a lot was being served up that seemed to be calling on folk to do even more for no compensation beyond 'contributing to the community'. Noble for sure, but also the realm of those who do not have other commitments or calls on their earning hours, or keen and able to play the system for firmly held beliefs.

Now I'll try to do my bit. But with no agenda, the whole exercise seemed to be spinning on its axis, with all sorts of pockets of priority jockeying for position. I had no idea where the money for all this was coming from, where it was going, or indeed what it was intended to do. And as a further layer of consultation and feedback, I had to wonder what on earth the various elected representatives (paid and not) I'd recently gone through the trouble of voting for... were for. Most were there, rather silent, and seemingly waiting for a bunch of others to step in to act as a buffer zone for some rather ill-defined discussions with, to me, the end result being anything but clear.

I do care about the direction my home area takes, but honestly couldn't cope with being part of this effort to be part of how it gets taken there. And that, I guess, is to my demerit.

But it did get me thinking about what is needed to rekindle an interest in the democratic process in the silent public majority, and that, to me would chiefly involve clear communication and a commitment to making the process as entertaining as possible. With a definite sense of reward (in this case, seeing a clear result) for taking the time to participate.

And while it is difficult to balance, I simply cannot see how organising free-for-all bunfights, with everyone shouting at once, is going to arrive at anything remotely rational. If at all, it will always be those who shout loudest or put up a more united block who will prevail. That may seem democratic, but in a time-poor, career-driven society, it really still does play into the hands of the few. I may have had a contribution to make, but simply could not see how I could make it in such a zoo, or how such efforts would pay off. So I left early. It will be interesting to see how it gets reported and what actually does get achieved over the years (which is the timeframe indicated). I guess I cannot complain if it does take things in a direction I don't like, as I had a chance to be part. But then isn't what I gave my proxy to elected representatives to do? And should I wish to get my views across I can surely approach them one on one directly for a meaningful exchange and leave them to fight my corner in such debates I cannot, or choose not to attend?

Sadly, what I see these days, from national to this most local of levels, is anything but 'democratic'. Process but no product. Waffle and jargon and procedure. Unaccountable layers.
It may not be the best system, and it may be the best there is, but by heavens if it is designed to confuse or bore me into submission when I do care enough to try to be part, lord help us if decisions are based on what the rest of the public can be inspired (or, rather not) to engage with.

Maybe if they did it as a version of Big Brother: the Town Plan, more people would be inclined to take part.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Eureka Moment That May Let You Paint Your House Infra Red

How do you fancy painting your house to generate your own electricity? Sound a bit far-fetched?

Well, human ingenuity never ceases to amaze, even if prompted by a chance discovery. Research into solar nanotechnology now suggests that within 10 years or so you may be able paint your house with pigments containing 'Quantum Dots' which will convert the sun's infra red emissions directly into electricity. Because this technology works on the infra red spectrum, it remains efficient even during cloudy and overcast weather.

See Solar Paint at bookofjoe for the full story.

"I'm gonna paint that [Electric] Bill right out of my life"

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Democracy Inaction

Today is a huge day in UK Politics. Most of us may not feel that way. But it's true.

This pm, we get a new PM. And a new mini-me DPM.

The first we get by default. The second by some sort of vote that I had little interest in, which may explain why I had little influence over it, even if I would have been allowed.

The Westminster Village (a collective term for those who feed off being in, and reporting on, the political establishment) has wet more kickers over it all than the ladies' loo queue at a Tom Jones concert. The rest of us seem to be less than agog.

Personally, I am positively affronted by what I am getting served up by supposedly independent media to ease into power a person whose only statements of note seem to be surrounding the oddly conflicting notions of listening more whilst 'not allowing' a heck of lot.

But most tellingly, I note that the person who will be this unelected (at least by me) 'leader's' offsider is likely to be decided by 10% of those eligible to vote. As mandates go, that is pathetic.

Yet we are talking some of the most powerful positions in our country. But our media seem more concerned by the prospect of fine dining at a some gilded tables than the provenance or quality of the fare.

Maybe we get what we deserve. But maybe we are served such poor options is it any surprise most can't bear to stomach them. But that, is a BIG problem.

ADDENDUM: I am not very party political (the current crop all disappoint me) , so I don't propose to go on much more on this. But in terms of media reaction just take this: New Labour, new era

'Gordon Brown hailed the start of a new political era' - what was he part of for the past ten years?

'In his victory speech...' - 'handover' or 'acceptance' would seem more accurate. What victory did he fight and win?

'...Mr Brown has pulled it off.' What? Doing nothing for long enough? A rare, but useful talent to succeed in today's UK.

"With a man and a woman elected leader and deputy it is Labour that leads the way." Suddenly Labour felt different.' - So meritocracy based on no more than ability is not what it's all about then?

'The aim of the speech was to challenge the misleading caricature.' - Which may have some foundation in fact, maybe?

Sod it... I can't wade though any more of this travesty under the banner of a name that claims it is Independent.

Will Gordon let her speak? - Ok, I couldn't resist. Look at that title. And this from, if not a supporter, one who has a certain empathy with New (and now 'improved', apparently) Labour.

Something for another time

I was idly watching (is there any other way?) BBC Breakfast 'News' this morning, when an innocuous little piece came on about some Eastern European state whose capital has become a City of Culture.

So far, so what. But my ears pricked up when it was introduced in the voiceover by mentioning the fact that such places had been 'opened up' as weekend short-hauls by the explosion in budget airlines. 'Interesting,' I thought, 'I wonder where this is going?'.

Well, for the majority of the next 5 minutes it went there with a full crew to have a very good time, seemingly without irony.

Then we were back at the studio, with one of the BBC's 'experts' (folk who are a) a mate, b) next door and c) On a Sunday prepared to get up at a silly hour. So I have no idea who she was) to discuss it all.

And then, near the end, we had the eco-tilt.

'I suppose we should acknowledge the environmental aspect of all this', she said.

Well, that would be a plan, considering all that has preceded it, both in the BBC's corporate contribution simply by making the piece, but also the consequences of 'selling' the notion so well.

I don't pretend it's an easy one, but I found the jocular bouffant-du-jour anchor chain's final comment so very telling 'Well, yes. But that is something for another time.'

Er, when? And if not by you, who? And why?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sector Spectre

There's a very interesting site called Intelligent Giving, which is devoted to some critical (in the best senses of the word, pro and con) analysis of the world of charity.

I was idly having a rummage, when this caught my eye: The mysterious other Miliband

You have to register to reply, but I think can view simply by clicking, so with luck you can see the context of what moved me to comment:

I was also going to pass over the matter of this speechwriter, or indeed their height, as beyond irrelevant. Then I had a rethink. Physical attributes are, or at least should be still pretty much nothing to do with anything. But at least I can now spot a tall chap in an OTS (jargon is all) crowd and yell out the provided moniker to zero in if he responds... and isn't David Walliams role playing.

Because it does now occur to me that if this is the person penning what's uttered, I may have the whole organ grinder/'revenue collection executive' relationship backwards when it comes to getting heard, and seeing what one has to say work its way into the mouth of Blair (few more hours) babies.

Which brings us to the next point. Having been to a few events now when the billed highlight seems to be a Ministerial speech, I have to say that I am getting a tad bored with a talking head and a Power(what's the)Point parrotfest, as the inevitable provision of the notes (as created, I'm sure, by lovely chaps called Dominic) rather renders the speaker superfluous. Unless, of course, they hang around to answer a few questions (though doubtless in a whole 'not last decade', more honest, direct but still useless Brownian 'I'm not sure I accept that' /'I'm not going to allow that' style).

Or, better yet, step down from the podium and actually at least listen to a few from the floor not selected by Dom's also lovely PR colleague Pen ( I made that up), before hitting the studios to tell the country that they 'have been talking with...' and now have a real grip on what's going on at street level.

I always find the reason given for bailing as truly special: 'they'd love to stay, but they are very busy'. Which rather sends the message that those in the audience are not, and having turned up to be talked at obviously have the spare time to do so and should be grateful for providing an audience.

On the third point, I can only speak for myself as to the level of gruntlement around my sphere, with a slight sense of how others feel by actually hanging around to chat with them long after the ministerial Prius and team has offset it's way to the next non-flying visit. So I must have missed the 'up-and-coming/credible' feedback, but if it comes from a qualified, reliable, attributed and unbiased source will of course bear it in mind. Equally in assessing levels of charisma and authenticity, compared to predecessors in what confusingly (to me at least) is acknowledged earlier as a role that has not existed before. And if that role has not many purse strings, one has to wonder what it, and all those under it, are there for. Money talks. Anything else squawks.

When it comes to feeling well served by those tasked with supporting a sector I find myself peripherally part of, I'd have to suggest that while 'saying' nice is awfully spiffy, a bit more getting on and doing - efficiently, cost-effectively and tangibly where it has the maximum positive result - would be more in order.

The addition of 2000 (more?) public servants may be necessary to help effect this, but if that's the main contribution that can be cited so far, on past evidence it does not fill me with much hope that the majority of effort (and money) will not just end up, again, in a well-trumpeted process at the expense of any actual product.

I'm pretty sure that the previous respondent was one of that 2000, or a ministerial interference runner (I wonder how many in Westminster we pay to deflect us from asking questions and/or getting answers? of our political mast... servants), so it may be fun to come back to see if and what my opinion gets dismissed with.

There's what was. There's what is. And there's... what????????

I watched a BBC news slot this morning when it seemed that all involved with the last decade of government (and staying on) seemed to be awarded a 'get out of everything free' card.

Me... I prefer to look at track records and facts. Or such as they are. And here's one: Council tax 'doubles in 10 years'

Or, to put it another, equally walletally-painful way: 'three times higher than the rate of inflation and twice the increase in average earnings'.

Now, there is an attempt at balance, and: "Councils may well turn round and say well that's because they're providing better services."

O........k. What do we reckon?

Maybe there could be another reason; one raised a short while ago.

Now, there was a slight tweak back to the 'Cross of Ross' posting in the reply section, but really, can there be much doubt as to where a large wadge of the money seems to be going, and 'increased services' are hard to reconcile when weekly rubbish collections are moving in a distinctly unincreased direction.

I'm afraid all this does is push my trust factor in government, and some rather... cooperative... aspects of publicly-funded media, even lower.

BBC - Brown interview: key quotes - I am simply intrigued as to how what is factual 'cannot be accepted' in so many cases. What the heck does that mean?

NOT Gordon Brown

So he has learned, will reach out, build consensus and answer questions at last.

But if the answers to such questions are, and allowed to be (especially in the case of what is surely easily established fact) 'I don't accept that', I'm afraid to all of the above I can only have one reply:

"I don't accept that".

But, as always in this newsflip era, that's probably all there is time for. Shame. On all involved, and complicit.

Friday, 22 June, 2007 - Not looking like many others were too impressed with either the interviewee, or ers. For all the good it does.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The future's a wind-up

I wanted to end the week on a positive note so, despite the title, here it is: Why just a logo is now a no-no

It's an awful lot of journo/marketo guff for what is, in essence a nice simple, relevant bit of eco-A&P.

You're stuck in the middle of nowhere, in the mud, and your only mechanism of survival (seemingly) at a music festival is a device that enables you to spend all your time calling out, listening in or playing Tetris. Go figure.

And because all such activities suck the heart from it in a day (mine lasts a week between charges, and I'm rigging up the solar panel to do the job anyway) you need a juice injection.

So thanks to those nice folk at Orange, you can spend all day further not listening to any music (or at least seeing where it comes from) queuing up for a free handcrank of fresh minutes.

Not sure it's my cup of tea, but then, even though (or because) I'm a customer, I'm not their audience.

Altogether now, children: 'Make sarm noise!'

There are those who write for the major media. Those who they write about. Those who pay to read it. And the real world.

I don't pay. But I do read 'em. Mainly because I have to. But when you come across stuff like this - Three is the magic number - you just have to wonder.... why? Or maybe... who?!! Or, just settle for a: 'do what'!!!!!!?

I don't think I can add much to what a few less than impressed posters have already.

The whole overpaid, inbred world of the idle broadsheet generation has truly lost the plot.

Alberta's 'Black Goo' Rush

We all knew that a great deal more R&D funding would be redirected into renewables as the price of crude oil stayed high, right? Well, not really ...... in fact, hardly at all.

Although some of the Big Oil players ARE looking at some renewable energy forms, and indeed, buying up the rights to quite a few patents in this field, the renewables R&D spend pales into insignificance in comparison to what is happening right now in the Canadian oil shale belt.

The extended high crude oil price has finally made Alberta's Black Goo commercially exploitable, and the cost to the planet is ........ even higher CO2 emissions!

"The industry already contributing to climate change more than any other is frantically turning up the heat. The process of refining bitumen emits three to four times the greenhouse gases produced by extracting oil from traditional wells, making the tar sands the largest single contributor to Canada's growth in greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, the industry plans to more than triple production by 2020, with no end in sight. If prices stay high, it will soon become profitable to extract an additional 141 billion barrels from the tar sand, which would place the largest oil reserves in the world in Alberta."

For a depressing read see the full article by Naomi Klein at Rabble News. The black goo rush was recently described by the FT as "north America's biggest resources boom since the Klondike gold rush"

All in all a bit of a one-sided match: Renewable Energies 0 - Big Oil 6

And the winner of the prize for the newest destructive eco-disaster is .......... Northern Alberta.

But, what's being brought to bear to WIN?

I always say, something is a lot better than nothing: Glastonbury fights climate change

You can almost sense it coming...


We seem to now have yet another awareness campaign to play with. At which you go to, and ... sign-up.

And in return you get a wristband, made (no matter what) from...?

At least there are a bunch of other BTNs in the rest of the piece.

I'm sure it pays a lot on campaign managers' salaries and airmiles offsets, at least.

So long as he* is so spot on, I just have to share

The ongoing genius of *Scott Adams' Dilbert satire (Green poke era)

And, sometimes, opportunities just get presented: NHS urged to cut carbon emissions

So the next time you go in for a one thing...

"Fill 'er up please." "Certainly sir ..... apple or pear?"

Could we be filling up our cars on fruit juice based fuels one day?

An interesting article on the potential of producing a new type of bio-fuels from fruit sugars. The chemistry appears sound but I'd like to know a little more about the catalysts they are using, and just how much energy is required in the generation of the fuel in order to determine its exact enviROI. Full text at

Imagine the FT headlines in perhaps 30 to 40 years time .....
"Big Oil takes backseat to Big Fruit!" Or,
"Granny Smiths lines up hostile bid for Exxon-Mobil".

IP, IP 'ooray!

I was away dawn 'til dusk yesterday at an ultimately very useful conference on Intellectual Property hosted by a West Midlands organisations called Fillip.

At first I thought I made a big mistake and was in for a loooong day, as I sat surrounded by what seemed every lawyer in the region, to be talked at by every other lawyer in the region. The seminar pack was certainly not encouraging, as the curse of PowerPoint was again to be unleashed - I cringed when one speaker actually said "I'll just read what's on the screen and, of course, in your notes". Thank the lor' that we were not being billed by the minute!!!

But, as with all things, you have to sift a lot of silt to get a nugget, and they did appear. A fact here, an anecdote there. Bearing in mind the target audience was the SME market, I was getting quite frustrated to have presentation after presentation that was pitched at companies to whom 'only a few thousand' is not a real issue to find, albeit for a key aspect of business such as IP. But one real beacon was Mandy Haberman, of anywayup cup fame, who was a real inspiration (her turning point was sending a prototype, filled with Ribena, in an unpadded box to a Tesco buyer... who called with and order by return), much like Heather of Wiggly Wigglers the other week, not just for her success but the fights she had to (successfully) take on to emerge triumphant. Though it must be said the sheer number of scumbuckets around worldwide (mainly in major corporates) there are ready to screw anyone for a penny is depressing.

I was there mainly for the RE:tie but, thanks to the trusty Lappy Sling, got a look in, too.

One of the speakers was from CadburySchweppes, and seemed keen to talk more and introduce me to the right people.

I certainly came away more than ever convinced of the vale of IP, but also the sheer complexity and cost of it. This honestly does put best practice out of the reach of many at the small 's' of the SME spectrum, and it is always worth trying to get that across.

That was my message, and it was welcomed. In fact, as a consequence of the day, I am now more than happily off on a another tangent, but one I hope will for once be more than productive and even profitable.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Driving towards a brick wall"?

So just what were the actual outcomes of the G8 meeting last week?

I found little in the outputs that made me feel any the more secure - it was all 'moving towards', 'look at', 'review our position', 'agree to think about' - all talk, and very little actual do or will, and certainly no actual definitive targets at which to aim. I concur that it was more of a 'tactical political shift', rather than a positive way forward.

So, rather than attempt to review the entire G8 gamut, this rather eyebrow raising item from freelance journalist Ralph Surette pretty much says it all. Although written very much from a Canadian perspective, I can't find anything in it with which to disagree.

The "Captains of no progress" are still at the helm, and the "dirty, lumbering supertanker called the world economy" shows but only minimal signs of changing course.

How far off is that wall? Is there time to brake and/or change course? How about listening to the G8 String Octet? Maybe they sound a little similar to Nero fiddling as Rome burned? Or the band on the Titanic playing as she slowly went down?
Fading out .... 'For those in peril on the sea........'

Thanks due to David Suzuki for the title of this post.

Today's forecast - Heavy Wars

Oh dear ..... another frightening glimpse of the future?

The UN's top environment official is now predicting massive geo-political disasters caused by water shortage and migration wars in Africa and East Asia. Full story from The Independent.

"Climate change has become a major security issue that could lead to "a world going up in flames", the United Nations' top environment official has warned. From rising sea levels in the Indian Ocean to the increasing spread of desert in Africa's Sahel region, global warming will cause new wars across the world, said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). "

It looks like our bet-hedging arms dealer (See Monday's blog - Arms dealing - the career of the future?) is possibly a very perceptive chappie indeed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The slooooowest crash in IT history

You can't get humour like this any more.

You may recall (and by skipping back a few posts actually read - oh heck here it is) that I shared the news of the latest Govt. eco/carbon/climate website to consume more funds to 'help' 'us' go greener, namely ActonCo2 (as opposed to EalingCo2...har-har. They may titter in West London).

Well, possibly thanks to the most concerted PR campaign by every Govt. PR agency (I must have had thirty emails) in the land, and the cooperation of the likes of me, it seems that it doesn't work after 5pm (no civil service jokes, please).

Having pointed a few of you at it, I had a flood (well, two) of emails to say that it says 'come back later'. And, checking myself, this seems to be the case.

Now the explanation is that it's because it's so popular. And I would wish for such a 'happy problem'.

Or, just maybe, it's because all the complicated guff I mentioned in my quick review (slow review not possible as there is not access for now) means that it's all tied up dealing with the few folk who can get through. And having failed, and once the PR has worn off, how many will go back?

Expensive. Useless. And looks a lot better than it delivers. Ring any bells?

He IS reading my blog...

... and then making a brilliant satirical cartoon out of it: Dilbert.

OK, so it's just coincidence.

Memo to all Pols, activists and holier-than thou media: try leading by example before climbing in the driving seat. Your lack of deeds vs. the words is starting to grate.

But... is it art?

Well, I don't know much about it, but I know what I like: Turning the place over.

Very little to do with saving the planet (probably a negative enviROI, truth be told, as it obviously had construction and has operational costs. Plus it is only temporary), but as life is about a bit more than that, if we are going to p*ss stuff away, I am quite impressed with this.

Back now to being an eco-grinch.

Two Wongs don't...

In the interview referred to in my last post, Mr. Miliband made a fair point when challenged about relative actions. But it's hard not be struck by today's Guardian lead - China passes US as world's biggest CO2 emitter - and a rather smaller associated plea - 'Are you doing your bit?' - in the same piece.

Now, as my sons titter, and some quango-funded PC-brigade try and figure out how to bust me for that headline, I can only agree with Mr. M that it does probably make his job a lot harder when he meets his Chinese counterpart if we are doing diddly to put our own house in order.


I'm afraid that, as the man to convince me of anything, much less the wisdom of saving my own future, he is not proving the most inspired of choices... or messengers.

Bar this one reasonable retort, in the interview he was not convincing at all. And the examples of what 'we' are being called upon to engage with and/or do are not doing much either.

Even his 'defence' of the point regarding the example of his soon-to-be-ex-boss' predilection for jumping on a plane at the sound of an envelope being opened was fudged, and deliberately spun away without giving any answer. So why should we listen... or act? And speaking of China, the book I am reviewing, Last Call, paints one heck of a picture of the imminent Asia tourist industry. Scary.

You need more than facts to persuade. You need trust. And passion.

I am looking for what's right to support and do, but on this basis I'm afraid Minister. M is not looking like the one to deliver it.

Maybe we need a calculator to calculate the best calculator

Just watched on BBC Breakfast TV Environment Minister David Miliband (for some, unexplained, reason sitting in an internet cafe) talking about the latest 'carbon calculator'.

The first question from the interviewer was the best: why do we need another?

It's a fair point. There are many. According to Mr. Miliband it is 'the gold standard' (see my initial review below). So that's OK then.

And, having calculated away, I wonder what exactly I'll do except file and forget.

Why do I get the odd feeling that a few boxes got ticked in the Ministry and Television Centre (today's eco-slot... check), but little else will get done.

Anyway, it has been done, and as I was about to post I got this nice letter, which I duly pass on:

20/06/2007 08:00

Dear Sir

I know readers increasingly want to do their bit to help combat climate change - and knowing about your carbon footprint is a good way to start.

That's why we have this week launched a new online CO2 calculator, where people can find out their carbon footprint. The calculator will also suggest the practical steps we can take to cut our emissions and, often, save some money as well.

Things we do in our everyday lives have an effect - good or bad - on the environment. And more than 40 per cent of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions come from our homes and travel.

Most of us have become a bit greener already - for example, nearly all of us are into recycling now - but there are lots of other things we can do to reduce our impact on climate change.

Whatever your lifestyle, the Act on CO2 calculator will give you practical pointers about how to cut your emissions, tailored to the way you live.

To check out your carbon footprint, and find out what you can do about it, log on to:

David Miliband
Environment Secretary
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Sadly, having logged on, I was confronted by a wall of complicated, slow, time and energy-sapping fancy graphics that got in the way of simply getting to the point. So I gave up. And I have fast broadband. I wonder if others, and especially those at home with possibly slower lines, will be more dedicated. gets a few justified brickbats for some aspects of design and navigation, but it gets a lot more bouquets for being quick, and giving you what you want, or pointing you at it, very quickly. And in a fun, interactive, real-person to real-person web 2.0 way.

So as an exercise in genuine ROI, I wonder how much this committee-created, ministry multi-layer sanctioned drain on the taxpayer cost, and what it will achieve for that money?

Should you have any thoughts, they are keen to hear from you: Feedback on the calculator can be emailed to

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's funny because well, because it's...

Dilbert - call it a humour offset

Careful what you wish for

An interesting question in Brand Republic, that leads to a Marketing article that doesn't seem to work (for me at least. Curse these Mac/Safari browsers): Can the industry manage more than a long-term pledge to cut packaging?

All I ask is that such cuts are done in the name of genuine enviROI (actual benefit to the planet's future, which may or may not mean any fiscal returns) and not just for cosmetic or PR purposes.

I was at Total Packaging at the NEC not long ago, and one telling (if as yet unconfirmed) stat was that of such 'waste', 95% came from food and 5% from the packaging.

Now I know they will not compromise... much... on what helps shift from the shelves, but what I don't want to find is that the reduction goes in areas where the consumer gets stuff home and for whatever reasons do not consume fully - hidden bruising, shorter lifespan, etc.

For sure more effort needs to go into what enters the waste stream from the moment of manufacture, but we need a much more coherent approach, and cooperation between all necessary parties (govt, local, govt, etc) on joined up thinking towards effective recycling (and NOT another 'Recycle - it good for our tonnage-based bonuses' campaign) and, my personal favourite, re:use.

I post this. And simply wonder why it is not on every other front page

The Earth today stands in imminent peril

'...and nothing short of a planetary rescue will save it from the environmental cataclysm of dangerous climate change. Those are not the words of eco-warriors but the considered opinion of a group of eminent scientists writing in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.'

It's fairly clear-cut. And not too encouraging, really.

So why are we all not popping down to B&Q to get our self-assembly ark kit?

There could be many reasons. Climate fatigue, maybe? A bit like charity fatigue, only we're no longer up for saving ourselves.

Or a few too many headlines like this, that go on to copy like this: 'Six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the United States...'. And an awful lot of ''might may be right".

I don't know. So I still wonder. And that... may be the problem.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mea Culpa?

"This is your captain speaking .......... I'd like to welcome you aboard our low CO2 emission flight to the south of France."

The airline pilots association are claiming that the airline industry is being unfairly targeted as the worst of the contributors to climate change. Full ABTN article.

“Air travel has just been an easy target. But not any more. World air travel actually accounts for only 2% to 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions according to the International Panel on Climate Change and while air travel is proving more popular, carbon dioxide emissions will not be more than 6% by 2050 – a tiny amount compared to the big polluters.”

Isn’t it amazing just how easily human nature forces all of us to adopt an ‘it’s not us, it’s them’ type of attitude? Just one question – who is giving us the real numbers and the actual facts?

But we all may stop jetting off to the Mediterranean sun anyway if the researchers at New Scientist are correct – it will be waaaay tooooo hot for us Brits to handle! See Dangerously hot.

Back to sunny Skegness it is then.

Arms dealing - the career of the future?
Meanwhile, how to profit from Global Warming - become an arms dealer! Taken from The Observer.

'Expect huge migrations of people looking for food and shelter as they flee areas that become uninhabitable because of crop failure or flooding,' he says. 'You are already seeing this happen in places such as Bangladesh. That will force western governments to increase their military spending to keep people out.'

Now that’s how to put an optimistic slant on forthcoming geo-political disasters caused by global warming! Just to be fair though, he has hedged his bets by putting some huge investments into Green technologies too. Heads he wins, tails he wins?

He mentions Bangla Desh – the UN reckons the disastrous Darfur conflict, as well as smaller episodes in Somalia and Ivory Coast, are also a direct consequence, to some degree, of global warming, too. Sci-Tech Today story.

Vivoleum - made for the people by the people.

Ashes to ashes? Perhaps that should be Oil to Oil?

This is absolutely hilarious – it has to be one of the best stunts ever pulled on the Big Oil fraternity. See Daily Kos - Vivoleum .

It does, however, have some potentially serious undertones – they couldn’t really be thinking of making a replacement fuel out of human carcasses ……… could they?

Shades of Soylent Green ….. but this time as a fuel rather than as feedstuff?

More or Less?

David Cameron told us today what his big idea is for government. To do much less of it: Power to the people? Hmmn. I am just interested in the numbers:

Sounds awesome! But...

Do we still have to pay for all the meddling, overseeing, assessing, policing, etc public servants and over-funded, empire-quangos that have been stuck on the roster to keep themselves occupied 'doing' government?

And if a way can be found to ditch them without too many redundancy compo claims that would render it all a fiscal disaster, do we get a refund?

Council tax funds pensions!!


So now I'm beginning to understand just why some councils are moving to fortnightly bin collections - much of their (sorry, but shouldn't that be OUR?) allocated cash goes straight into 'gold-plated', index linked pensions. .... And they can still retire at 60 whilst the plan is that the rest of us will have to work until 68!

Wasn't council tax supposed to pay for essential services? I don't remember agreeing to help provide super pensions for the faceless bureaucrats who spend all day pen-pushing and inventing new and ever more meaningless targets. But I suppose they have to employ someone to decode the data collected from the "Chip 'n Bin" devices.

I could hardly not share this, could I?

The ongoing satirical genius of Dilbert

Lord Above. Well, until next year.

I'm afraid I had a few thoughts about The Green Bishop?

Whilst endorsing the notion of something is better than nothing, I have to express some concern about the preponderance of those in the public eye who are publicised as 'giving up [insert eco-damaging indulgence here] for a [acceptable media-worthy personal/corporate inconvenience period here].

As we're on a theological bent, what kind of message does it send that these things can bought off by a brief period of abstinence?

That's like flying half the planet around for a climate change awareness concert about the damage of flying halfway around the planet, and making a big play about offsetting the travel... then going straight back afterwards to... oh.

Let he whose business doesn't 'require' travel cast us back into the Stone Age.

For me, in such cases, the messenger can often be as important for credibility as the message.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Click. Clunk. When you switch.

Now, how many hours of standby will we need to save to compensate for this: TVs 'dumped after digital switch'

Thanks to Junketeer PJ for sending this in from the BBC (so we know it must be true), 'About eight million TVs and video recorders will be dumped after the digital switch-over, a survey suggests'.

The rest of the piece makes equally interesting reading. But what's the betting we end up with a quango and csar in charge of fining us for leaving a little red dot glowing at night. OK, I know it's more than that (and I don't), but really.....

Of Pods, Vlogs and Wormcasts

I have just returned to the blogseat having had the privilege of sharing a breakfast networking event that had as its guest speaker Heather Gorringe of Wiggly Wigglers.

Beyond the obvious inspiration of her business success, as an engaging and highly entertaining speaker it was also fascinating to be given a true 'warts and all' account of her struggles to get going, get established, and overcome hurdles.

I also learned a neat trick for post-talk Q&A time: have some giveaways ready for the first to pipe up. Breaks the ice nicely. I was, I am proud to say, the first beneficiary of this clever motivational technique. What's more, I now have another nice book to add to my Junkk RE:view section collection (with a rather embarrassing backlog)!

My question was actually about her adventures into the world of web 2.0, which are many, varied.. and highly successful. Her weekly podcast recently won a top award, and is picked up worldwide.

I really need some help and advice to make more of all that can engage with in this regard, and she has kindly extended an invitation to chat more and see how we can help each other, though I suspect it may be more in my direction (that said, we did pop them on our diRE:ctory years ago).

Another nice part of the event was the realisation that this area does seem to be throwing up more than its fair share of entrepreneurial spirits to complement a fairly healthy level of official interest in all things environmental. So I was also pleased to reacquaint myself with Herefordshire's new Cabinet Member for the Environment, who I hope will take me up on my invitation to visit. I certainly feel there are synergies to explore.

I'll end with a but, if only a small one. In fact it simply highlights how so much that is green cannot be easily popped in black and white pigeon holes.

Readers will recall that recently I was enthusiastic about a local initiative to encourage the practice of macerating waste and sending it down the plug hole for recovery.

So imagine my surprise and disconsternation when Heather referred to this... and was not in favour. Showing the surprising breadth of representation our fair county can throw up, she was then challenged by Sir. Colin Shepherd, who declared an interest (he apparently pioneered such things) but really rather disagreed with her. Sadly the debate did not get taken to quite to the satisfactory conclusion I'd hoped. Nor, really, did a further point from the floor regarding the use of Green Cones, about which I have also blogged in the past (but can still not persuade the sales guys to take the 10 minutes it would require to add to our diRE:ctory). Again there was some debate, as Heather rightly pointed out its positive products are 'wasted'. However I do think there are other, practical aspects of consumer behaviour she may not have truly appreciated, and for which I will accord it a 'better than nothing'. Mind you, I am feeling a DIY solution may be in the offing.

In chatting to another guest, more than knowledgeable on the subject, I must say it is a tricky one. Obviously any form of useful reclamation is better than none. But, if we do look at my favourite umbrella measure, the enviROI, then if the priority we face globally is reduction in airborne greenhouse gasses, recovery must come at the top. Hence, for now, I do think I am erring on the macerator route as best for my kids... with some healthy composting on top in complement.

Unless, as I think they used to say on 'That's Life"... you know different!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Not a lot of people know that..

I just had a press release from an agency that's not about a thing. It's about what 'we' think about things Climatic, niftily entitled 'Climate What?'

Now, as I continue to struggle with finding the time, or the money to find the people with the time, to help me upload this stuff on our steam-driven site's admin system, I figure why not pop it here on the blog for now?

What caught my eye was that these guys have paid (using bmrb and a sample size of 1,000, which is fair, though having sat through too many focus groups in my ad days how the questions get asked is pretty key, and you seldom know that background) to have confirmed what I have suspected for a while, namely that, despite all the gazzillions being spent and acres of media devoted to it all, most still haven't got a clue.

Or as they say (which is shorthand for I can just cut and paste from now on):

Coverage in the media has never been so high, with the term 'carbon neutral' by all acccounts appearing in the UK media almost 500 times in the past two weeks alone (how do you check that?). However the complex message of climate change and environmentalism is still not being properly communicated to the public.

A recent Environment Agency poll has stated that, despite the hype, less than half of the people in the UK are changing their behaviour to reduce their carbon footprint, and that less than a quarter of these are recycling. Their figures also reveal that 73% of the UK population do not understand what is meant by the term 'carbon neutral'.

"Our findings show that there is still a huge gap in public understanding about the terms used in the media, by government and by big business", says MD Sara Tye, managing director.

Which makes me wonder what the heck the disconnect is, especially when we are seeing bazillions being poured into all sorts of enviro-comms efforts with, seemingly, so little effect. Maybe that odd notion we at Junkk have often floated may be something to do with it, namely scare, guilt, nanny and fine don't quite cut it. A little fun and incentive could go along way, if done right, but the protagonists mentioned don't do that too well, and even if those they commission can, the dead hand of a committee will always lurk in the background.

I'll also nick the following bit (nothing like choosing facts you like) for my own presentation to the VCs next week, but apparently for those companies with an environmental policy (not too sure myself what that actually translates into, but hey) there is a 'potential market of more than 9 million ethical customers who are willing to put their money where their mouth is'.

However, the newly motivated eyebrow-twitching journalist would like to know more about the 65 % of the respondents in the study who do understand what 'carbon neutral' means, and said they would pay more for products that they knew were going to help the environment [my italics].

As we've discussed here many times before, there is a subtle, but yawning gap between not doing as bad as you might, and actually doing good. And while better is better than nothing, education does need to get to grips with the total ramifications of the purchase of a product or service. Otherwise we will soon find ourselves with something like, oo, say... ethical space tourism: 'I blasted 6 billion litres of greenhouse gasses to get up here, and all I needed to do was plant a forest the size of Belgium to buy it off!'.

What I did rather like was my age range (45-54. Not telling you where in that, though) is the savviest, and would be prepared to pay a premium if they knew it was helping the environment (note my bold). Apparently only 24% of the 25-34 age group understood the term carbon neutral, despite being the most likely to be willing to pay more for carbon neutral products. Which leads me to ponder whether greens wash best with those more inclined not to ask awkward questions. Or care. Green is in danger of becoming a fashion item, and consequently just as easily dropped later on.

And without trying to get to Ecky-thump as to why, it seems there is is something of a North/South environmental awareness divide. Only 18 per cent of residents in Yorkshire/ Humberside are carbon neutral savvy. This contrasts with the 32 per cent of the population living in the South West as the most eco aware area of the UK. Maybe those Priuses are not so good on the Dales?


Without attribution I'm taking this definition slightly on trust, but it seems to be fair enough, but of course we get into the detail of further terminology such as 'offsetting', which opens up whole new cans of worms. (I'm seeing Heather Gorringe of Wiggly Wigglers today, by the way).

The term Carbon Neutral can be applied when an activity has a Net Zero Emissions of carbon. This can be achieved through an investment which offsets the carbon produced by the relevant activity. This offsetting is most often achieved through Carbon sequestration which is the term describing processes that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by capturing and storing carbon (while releasing oxygen) both naturally and artificially.

Of course I have come up with enviROI, which Carbon Neutral can loosely be factored into. No wonder the general public is often confused!

All in the best possible taste

As it says: Finally some common sense

Couldn't agree more. But I doubt it will make a gosh-darn bit of difference.

There are vast industries feeding off (sorry) anything like this, from government to quango to the media, where stirring it up, talking about it in excited ways and then taking steps can lead to lots of lovely jobs and lucre researching, assessing, running campaigns and getting Shocked on a Sunday.

I am beginning to wonder if everything we buy will have so much that we 'need' to know it will come with its own CDR that will need viewing pre-consumption. Which is about as likely as me figuring out what all the guff on there already means.

Mind you, I just saw a news item where it seems that parents have not figured that letting their kids eat all the pies may explain why they look like the DPM.

But I'm sure they are not the kind plonked in front of the telly 24/7, so maybe another COI-budget hike may be the answer? Adland awaits the siren call. There's almost as much to be made saying don't as promoting the culprit in the first place.

How sweet is that?


And ad with babies.

Ford 'next generation' by Ogilvy

And then, my attempt at answering a question:

I am still absorbing the exchanges of a day spent at the Guardian Climate Change Conference, which included a 'breakout' session for 'the media'.

One thing was clear: there were a lot of folk there from a lot places with a very definite 'interest' in the environment. What their motivations were, and what they were saying vs. what they were doing remains to be seen. The main sponsor was Shell, and the hand that fed got a little bitten, if reports the next day were anything to go by. Of a lot that was shared to show what they were doing, more seemed to pick up on a fair old bunch they were not. Feral media in action? Or a slight kickback against tokenistic greenwash? It's a really difficult one.

So let me apply a purely consumer view on this effort, fuelled (!) by a more than passing awareness of and interest in things ad, marketing and, as you may gather, planet-saving.

Thanks to this ad, I know of a thing called Flexifuel. I know little else. It's for future generations, apparently, but that's it.

So, a company making and promoting the means to travel about may (or may not) be making something that addresses climate change caused by exhaust emissions, if not the all the other consequences of manufacture, use and disposal (though car companies are pretty ahead in this regard).

Do I care? Do I feel warm and fuzzy? Do I see the brand most associated with mass transport and mass-production of consumer goods as a delicate, planet-saving flower? Yes, no and maybe, in various measures across all. They didn't make the ad for fun, so its intention was to sow a seed of mitigation against the name. Not flog Jeremy Clarkson another F40.

And why not? Others do nothing. Some do worse. The ASA report seems to be getting more and more packed with dodgy greenwash claims masquerading as responsible ads/services to address such issues.

I can think of worse things to have on screen. I just hope what lies behind it is genuine and sincere. And if it is not, those involved to feel very proud.

If a client comes to you and says 'Here's a thing we'd like you to sell for us that's a tad better for the planet', I'd admire any who say 'No thanks, we'll stick with the Party Poker TVC brief. It's more honest'.

If we are serious about climate change it will take a lot more, a lot earlier in the chain, to do the necessary. What happens later, especially at the consumer end, is really just window-dressing.

Now, where's that Massive Attack 'Best Of'?

What she said

I have been having a go a lot lately. Time to let someone else do it (and cop the 'you're just being beastly, as it is all in a good cause' flak): Janet Street-Porter: The awful conceit of these New Puritans

Bet they will all be getting gussied up for Live Earth as we speak. But I'm also thinking our Janet may fancy a bit of a party, too.

I will mostly not be going, but only 'cos I haven't been invited. I think I am doing quite enough for eco-awareness without having to pay a bunch of climate offset brokers more than they already have.

ps: Shame she managed to rather dyslexificate the TRAID acronym. Though it may get a few Chinese gangsters running the eco-sweatshops on board.

Hear no evil. See no evil. Certainly don't write about it. And that way many comfy, high paid jobs can enjoy the status quo.

It was ever thus. Probably.

But here I must commit the seemingly terrible, unsporting, and un-British crime of wondering if things are as good as they could be, and seek in the only ways I know to understand why. And, if not as good as is possible, see how they may be improved, through word and, preferably, deed.

A few weeks ago, I wrote to our local paper. We live in a lovely market town, enjoying a lifestyle which most city chums envy like mad. However, one Friday night I was walking my kids home from a club and we had to endure a trip that was something out of a bad post-apocalyptic C-movie. Screaming harridans. Drunken aggression. Roving cars with more spent on the turbo dump than the MOT. It was not pretty. And I thought it needed addressing. So I appealed to those in power, or tasked to assist, but there was no reply.

The next week the banner was taken up by another, who coined the rather colourful phrase 'Beirut in Bloom', and advocated vigilante groups. Now, this seemed a tad in excess of requirements, but certainly this time got a reaction. A lesson learned?

Thing is, the reaction from councillors was pretty much 'don't trash our town by talking it down'. I won't go into the rest, but suffice to say there will be a lot of 'discussing', 'looking at', and 'raising of' during the next voting period with, one suspects, a flurry of 'initiatives' pre-election.

And while it did not figure too highly in the Guardian Climate Change Conference (review well underway, trust me), there was a hint of what I see waaaay too often these days by way of a diversion by those who get called upon to explain the frilly kickers around their ankles.

And this is the time-honoured cry that there should be no criticism, as it doesn't help make things better. To an extent this is true, but there is criticism, and there is criticism.

As our outbound Dear Leader tried, in his best 'am I bovvered?' way, to point out, there can be an extreme whereby it is simply 'damn at any cost, and fire a full salvo of torpedoes as something bad is bound to get hit'. Sadly, for those like me who mostly agreed with him this was rather unproductive, this came from a guy who also kinda, sorta is on a shaky pedestal when it comes to legitimate investigation and commentary. You know, things like being caught in, at best, a failure to deliver on promise or, at worst, a total porkie.

I honestly don't know what to do for the best, but I don't think it's an option to shut up and trust that the system, and those who run it are always competent or indeed often honest enough to be let off without being called to explain, if not account.

So I won't.

Hence I will be asking a few local councillors and the county plod what 'Total tosh" actually means by way of an official reply to charges of failures to police under-age drink sales, anti-social behaviour and potentially dangerous driving.

As I will also continue to do with those in government, local government and associated multi-million £ quangos, when to legitimate questions raised by a lot of savvy folk, I mostly seem to find the reply is "Don't rock the boat, as ... we are 'discussing'/'looking at'/ 'raising' it...'.

Monkey see. Monkey do.


I recently wrote a review of the Wiggly Wiggler event, and offered it to the local paper who were more than keen. But some sod has obviously distracted them from this nice, positive piece with more on this issue. And this person seems to have been... me.

Seems that in chatting to them about one thing, another got into the mix and, well, you know what sells papers. So now I am, if in the most sincere manner, complicit. I don't know if the Ross Gazette content is online to point to what appeared, both as article and letter, but as this is long archived at least I feel I should add my notes to them when asked to comment further.

Let the tush-tissue operation commence!

Oo-eck. Am I going to get in trouble? I feel I started all this with my letter to you guys a while ago! So long as it comes across as trying to improve things as opposed to just having a go that's fine. I did not feel the vigilante aspect was going in a helpful direction, and wrote to the Journal (who jumped on the bandwagon a bit sensationally) to clarify, and am glad they printed that.

However, looking at what you reported* our councillors as coming up with in response, it all seemed a bit low on.... tangibles. And if we are to sort out what, despite the 'tosh' dismissal, they seemed to agree was a problem that needing nipping in the bud, I think a tad more substance may be in order. And it may surprise them that I am not alone.

*'Cllrs agree a stronger police presence was needed... and are requesting a visit... so they can relay their fears' - so they have them too, it's not really 'tosh' then? And fears have not be relayed before? Surely not? If so, why not?

*Cllr Lucas - 'We don't need reminding that we only have one policeman dedicated to the town' - Well, from reading the rest maybe it seems they do. What else don't they feel in need of reminding of? Not a great bit of feedback. As to tanks, well, I suspect Mr. Jenkins was being 'colourful'. There are no AK-47s either, but can Cllr Lucas argue that, at times, there are not groups occupying certain areas outside of normally accepted levels of behaviour, with the forces of law a tad absent? I think his rebuttal was disingenuous at best.

*Cllr Cutter - 'the lack of a police presence needed addressing' - to address what, if not real and legitimate concerns?

*Cllr Ravenscroft, whilst offering at least one suggestion (a community police officer. Hmn. Powers? Authority? Support? We are talking some rather nasty stuff to deal with here) - 'Ross is not alone' - So, as Beirut (ok, some Yardie areas of Brum) has it bad then we can't look at putting our own town in order? This is an oddly dismissive comparison and justification to make. I for one don't care about elsewhere. My family lives here. If it's about stretched resources that is well worth bringing to the fore. Why are they stretched? What can be done? Who is not doing their job(s), as a shrug and 'life's tough' isn't really going to cut it.

*Cllr Bartrum - '2/3 of a recent forum felt there was a perception of lawlessness' - And yet it's 'tosh' to be concerned, then? Two thirds!!! I don't know what forum it was, but as a reflection of the town that's a fairly hefty sample!

Whilst agreeing Mr. Jenkins may have been a tad OTT, especially with his vigilante talk, it's what gets you noticed by the media... and politicians.

And can these worthy gents really argue that there are not people under the influence (if underage why, how?), and who do drive in ways that are not reasonable (why?), and who are likely responsible for the town's other possible twinning moniker: Ross-in-Shuttering, for all the smashed and boarded windows.

To deny this, and that some people at least are aware, unhappy and even threatened that not all is as rosy as it could and should be, seems... interesting, at least to this voter assessing the new team as they settle in. As is what I sensed was a slight message of 'butt out', which did not sit well. But maybe, and I hope this was the case, this was by reading it without the benefit of hearing it being said.

The curse of Junkk

There was a time when I pretty much jogged along, did what I did, tried, a la Google, 'to do no harm', and accepted pretty much all that those who knew better - government, teachers, doctors, police... media - served up almost without thinking.

That has now rather drastically changed, so when I see such as this I really can't resist a scope and a ponder. And, often, get moved to put RSI-riddled wrist to keyboard rest. Which is a curse, because throughout the day I seem to do it a lot.

Take this: World oil supplies are set to run out faster than expected, warn scientists

My first thought was 'So what?', and the second was 'What scientists?'. Well, let's look at the second first.

First up, it seems this headline has taken a rebuttal by group of scientists to one from another group, which seem to be saying there's a bit of it still sloshing about. This is shaping up like a climate change debate, and we know by now where those get us.

To my very simplistic 'So what?' the kicker is at the end. Of course, if it's the stuff we are addicted to and messing the place up, then having no more to play with would seem to sort out the problem... er.. wouldn't it?

Well, as this clearly shows... no.

And I am now cursed some more with trying to get my head around it all.

So it must be true...

I am almost immediately wary of anything that is billed under the title 'The Truth About...', but in a media environment currently dominated by factual extremes, - from over-funded, target-based ads to spoil-at-any-costs tabloids splashes - The Economist can usually be relied upon to provide slightly more journalistic integrity in its research and analysis: The Truth About Recycling

Or... can it?:)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Prime minister's questions live - as 'interpreted', self-evidently, by the Guardian

Always interested in seeing things reported by our feral... excuse me... mainstream, good old media press.

As I have also noted a plethora of broadsheet articles and Newsnight specials lately about how blogs are dragging us into a subjective gutter zone, and hence it should only be left to the professionals to give us the facts and tell us what and how to think, I for one am very grateful that around 30% of the facts (maybe I have got that wrong.. who cares?) quoted in the original piece had an unpaid proofreader on hand in the ether to ensure it's all accurate... or at least point out where something is plain wrong.

I guess 'we' at least should be grateful this blog allows such unmoderated posts.

But it does make me wonder how much else we are served up unchallenged and/or unchallengeable hews close enough to the line.

A little... make that a LOT... on the side

The Guardian Climate Change Conference review is turning into something of a magnum opus, so I am revisiting, adding and editing to do it justice, so it may be a wee while in arriving.

So, by way of an interlude, I thought I'd share this.

One of the more relevant, useful... and welcome... additions to the delegate goodie bag was bottle of belu water.

Now, if instead of a near free, and just as good glass of tap I have to go for a bottle, I can't really think of any more deserving brand. Because its packaging is also a wee bit better than most others, too.

But... and it's a... nah.. let's make it just a niggle.

In light of my recent labelling ponderings, what with all and sundry doing all from just discussing to already jumping the entire armoury, I have to say I looked at my bottle and thought: 'what the heck does that mean?'.

Because, with the promise of food mile traffic lights, charts and all manner of other money-wasting nonsense yet to come from a doubtless wildly diverse collection of directions, I can now already add 'No Global Warming - Penguin Approved'. While one word may well make it technically accurate that this the 'first carbon neutral BOTTLED water and does not melt the ice caps (actually... I think they may struggle with justifying that second half. It probably melts them less quickly than the rest, but getting it up, in, out, back and down from production to compost does, I suspect, have a carbon consequence), I have no clue what that means.

And I rather suspect that, along with a load of meaningless other icons and initiatives yet to come, we will simply end up with more guff on the shelves for us to ignore.