Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hard to s...ustain

I was at a 'do' at Hereford's Shire Hall.

It's the same place I attended for a previous council sponsored event, for Herefordshire's Hydro power future. And yet again I was truly inspired by the organisation behind it all.

For a start, I only learned of it in a local paper last week, in a section for a market town to the North of the county, labelled "Let's Go Greener". It had an email to sign up, which I did, but I never heard back. So I risked a trip anyway. Fortunately it was still happening. Unfortunately I'd got the impression it was a day-long exhibition I got pop into (who can take all day off???), when in fact it was a bunch of speeches and huddles to try and 'understand' what sustainability and social enterprise meant. Plus the main speakers had apparently come, spoke and scooted off so no one-on-one there. So I am in no real position really to comment too much.

What I do know is that the acoustics pretty much meant no one could hear anyone else. And the A/V was almost impossible to view which, in light of my PowerPoint phobia, may have been a good thing.

For the bit I arrived at it seems the county suffers from a lack of engineers and trained staff. By some coincidence, that very same evening I was at a Ross-based event where a whole load of guys in suits turned up to say how awful things were because of X,Y & Z but they were all here and listening.

One thing that has struck me is that when it comes to the rather popular catch-all of social enterprise, it is simply too broad to make any reasonable comparison between those who fall under it and what they are trying to do. When it comes to delivery and funding and discussion and, can, say, be equated to a guy on a grant helping with housing for drug addicts? Yet at such events we are lumped together and competing to be heard. Daft.

And one thing I would mention to some of those who 'work' for entities that do not operate to generate enough value that they can make a profit: frankly if you don't, or can't, make at least a small profit, it would be hard to call any business sustainable. So why being 'for profit' often precludes entry to/partcipation in mnay evnts in the name of sustainable communities is hard to grasp.

Not very nice work. But very getting very nice pay.

Here's a job title to strike fear into anyone who cares about... well... anything really: management consultant.

If my Mum used to be too ashamed to tell folk I worked in advertising and so claimed I worked as the piano player in a brothel, then these were the guys in the rooms upstairs. And billing it at £300+/hr, no result-all fee, for a further bunch of senior, experienced, 'can't do without the talent pool' numpties to pass on to the hapless bunch they claim to serve.

I was en route to a do just now and caught the Jeremy Vine show on BBC R2. Always good for a popped blood vessel or three.

The topic seems to have been inspired by the news that said hourly rate was going to a merry crew to advise the Royal Mail, and £65M had been set aside to cover per diems.

And in a classic twofer we had the lady boss of the Institute of bloodsucking makeweights and an ex-practioner. Both, amazingly, had written books, which by sheer coincidence were mentioned more than the story.

Now I can only presume the lady was a relative of Mr. Vine's, as he pretty much followed each one of her statements with 'well, that's nailed that one!'.

Her opponent was actually rather good on facts, but very poor on presentation. So you can see how this went down in one of our premier news debate shows.

I kind of gave up hoping for balance when this bloke quoted the lady from her own book as saying 'most management consultancy is a total waste'. And she was then allowed to adjust it to 'well, some might be less than...' and move on.

And then a series of utter disasters, mainly public service, costing us a fortune and doing diddly squat, was raised and then dismissed as exceptions. NHS, Tax Credit, Child Support... you name the triumph of sod all, management consultancy was at its core. And still got paid.

What amazed me was this cocky bird couldn't seem to quote a single case (I presume there must be many) where the consultants had actually made a positive difference. She even tried to claim they'd had the 'idea' of putting MOTs online or something... with the DVLA. That's it???? And as the bod pointed out, even that didn't quite work as well as claimed.

Next she'll be saying the got an award for the crinkly bits around Norway (you'll have to know your Hitch-hikers Guide)

And barely discussed was the role of the even more venal crew who hire these guys. If they can't manage, why are they hiring others in to mis-manage for them? I am being rhetorical. Layers confer prestige and/or offer protection come the 'review'.

Sickening. Enjoy the bubbly-bath, guys. There is a wall ready and wait when the revolution comes.

Indy - Are drug treatment programmes a waste of taxpayers' money? - Speaking of total wastes of money. I can't do the maths, but it seems that it's costing hundreds if not thousands per person, to reach fewer addicts.

Edited to adjust the message?

Here's yet another (alleged) example of the media making selective edits in order to slant a story closer to the line that they want to take.

As reported by Raw Story, this piece tells of the anger of students who appeared on a Fox Channel special which was aired directly in response to CNN's 'Planet in peril' show. Its almost a perfect mirror of the 'An Inconvenient Truth Vs. The Great Global Warming Swindle' debate.

Looks to me like 'adjusting the message' is fast becoming the norm across the mainstream media. Whatever happened to honest reporting?

(Come on Peter, calm down, you can stop rolling around laughing now!)

Credit Crunch

As a smug, self-satisfied eco-warrior, each action I take of course brings its own reward.

Today was more so than many.

I just flushed a loo that only required a lightning strike to create life in its bowl.

I put out bin liner only half full of various nasties from a family of five in a week.

I exchanged cheery badinage with the nice man from the kerbside collection service, who happily took my letter to his boss to save on post cost and energy.

Now I am switching all off in the house that is not required to attend a council event in the big city. OK, I'm driving. You can't win 'em all.

Thing is, I happily do these because I don't see why not and nothing much hurts (though the missus is not big on the mellow loo notion, especially with 3 males in the house).

But I do wonder about others.

Especially as there is no incentive to do any of these things. No penalty to be sure, but no nudge to the cause of eco-righteousness.

My water is unmetered. I can put out as many bags as I like. No one insists I put out the RE:Box. And no one cares much if I drive to the city at the same time as another attendee (I have the solution!!!!!! If anyone would like to help me develop it!!!!!!)

And that seems to me to be barking.

ADDENDUM - I attended a local meeting the same evening. Our Environment Cabinet Member has told us that 'we' will not have bi-weekly rubbish collections imposed. No eco or financial reasons, either. In a refreshing bit of honesty he admitted it was because very councillor had told him it was not going to happen and he wanted to keep his job, along with theirs. Ah... democracy.

Go West!

That was the cry of early US settlers once the passes through the rockies to the green and pleasant California lands were opened. Well, those green and pleasant lands appear to be fast becoming a barren desert.

This, from the Guardian, reports on the Californian wild fires and what is likely to be the main underlying problem, a distinct lack of rainfall (and snowfall) and rapidly falling man-made reservoir and natural aquifer levels. It does not point directly at climate change, but to the fact that this part of the world is arid by nature, and man's continued excessive use of available water supplies is depleting what is already a scarce resource.

"The people who move to the west today need to realise they're moving into a desert. If they want to live in a desert, they have to adapt to a desert lifestyle."

I think I'll stay put in cold and damp Shropshire!

Meanwhile, Australians are also suffering from appalling drought problems. This from NineMSM caught my notice, not least because I have a 'Drizabone' golf waterproof outfit, and brilliant it is too, but it looks like the bottom has rather fallen out of their outback market.

"with farmers telling of toddlers outgrowing their gum boots before needing them and their cattle becoming skittish at the unaccustomed pitter-patter of rain on their backs, Drizabone days are now scarce".

Now this article does point directly at climate change. Interesting to note that the Australian government is now offering large grants to farmers to leave the land as the billabongs slowly disappear!

AFFRONT TO NATURE - The Batter Blaster

I think I already had this notion, but under another name.

Now Blogger has nifty archive stuff I am resurrecting under ATN - Affront to Nature!

It's for those 'innovations' that if you have even a modicum of e-mpathy you just go.... 'why????'

But the Batter Blaster dispenses a mix that is 'organic', so that is Ooooook, then.

Treehugger - I wonder who was 1st?

Making more Friends and influencing people

ITV to drop subscription model for Friends Reunited

OK. Now I will join. 'nuff said about online models?

Did I mention is free? Always has been:)

Brand Republic - Google to fight back in battle of social networks - Meanwhile....

Try googling bandwagon

Google goes green with carbon footprint project

Weeee! The more the merrier. Actually, I'm thinking of launching a web-based project that enables people to calculate which carbon calculator to use.

Hey, any info on sensible reduction is fine. However, one does have to wonder what most will make of it and hence whether the money could have been directed in areas more tangible in reducing emissions to a decent enviROI+ level.

And is this the coolest job title in the world or what: geospatial technologist. Beat my Spellcheck even.

Good luck to 'em. With their resources and pooling the info as indicated I think they may be in with a better chance than most of making a difference. Just... how many people and how much time is overlapping in this sector now?

I have already been through the horror of the ActONCo2 effort and never went back. Now, at first click/glance, I am faced by yet another truly inspirational landing page that really looks an effort.

What's the German for 'Well, D'Uh!"

Limiting growth

The only chance of solving the challenge of global climate change is to decouple economic growth from energy consumption and emissions.

Ignoring population expansion in complement is cute, too, unless this is an attempt "...By mid-century, the lives of seven billion people might be governed by its laws.' People consume.

So...'The only chance of improvement is to decouple economic growth from energy consumption and emissions. This must happen in the emerging countries, and even more urgently in the old industrial economies.' Yup. Got it. But I'm guessing a few billion plus are about to ditch the Raleigh 3-speed and looking at a nice hatchback as we debate.

And if any sentient being on the the planet is labouring under illusion that pollution is cost-free then maybe the question is more on the message and the current crop of messengers... as the consequences ain't getting through in any persuasive way!

Changes are needed. But the powerful do tend to be better placed to avoid being losers. Equally those entrenched and well-placed self-appointed (well, to be fair, I'm presuming Mr. F is voted in to do so by some) saviours of the planet who have done so poorly to make much difference to date. Mainly by cherry-picking what they fancy that's easy to score a lucrative gig.

I need a bit more now from poltical leadership than nice words.

Getting the hacks: no problem. But 3 boffins!!!

Looks like we are in for a feast - Dilbert nails it again.

I write this today as I discover that 'small amounts of red meat can cause cancer'. Apparently.

I guess that's what's doing for the Tigers, then. Coincidence? I think not:)

What are these reports worth? And what do they cost?

Reporting News. Or Making It?

I just have to shake me heads when the bouffant and the blonde stare solemnly at the camera and intone '...and what can be done about it?'.

Nothing, my loves, for now you have jumped on the bandwagon it has gathered so much steam it will never be stopped. One the rabble are roused, you can never put the cork back in.

My two 11 year-olds have pestered 'til we gave in, and are going out with some chums tonight trick or treating. They have made costumes and, as far as I can tell, just hope to score some candy. There are no fireworks or flour bombs in the basement. And they have had dire warnings from us and the school about any bad behaviour. I have also cautioned them that not all whose doors they may knock will be inspired by their cute outfits, so just move on if it seems they are unwelcome.

Which, if anyone watched the TV slot I just saw, they will be. Hooded late teenagers with no hint of Halloween make-up or spirit simply out to make trouble. Police vans and threats of ASBOs. Neighbourhood collapse.

It was there on screen so I guess it must happen. Though from the way the muppet with the mic was prompting one had to wonder just how outraged some were before being pushed to respond ion a useful soundbite manner.But there was also no balance... at all. Nice, young, happy kids engaging in a bit of social activity around the neighbourhood for one evening in the year. I have some candy for any that call here. But I will also be taping up the letterbox now.

How sad is that? And with news reports like this it will never improve.

I just hope my boys have as good a time as they are hoping. Fingers crossed.

Guardian - I'm a Halloweenie - Meanwhile in Planet CiF. Some worthy 'facts', though. As a Scot I now don't feel so suckered.

Might Help

Telegraph - Hallowe'en bashers need to lighten up

In the morning I watched a BBC 'report' on the 'state of the crisis' filmed in a sink estate with late teens whose only costumes seemed to be hoodies. Posters from the local plod were shown making a plea to retailers not to sell eggs or flour to any youths for fear of a nasty outbreak of pancake batter-y.

My dear old Mum therefore locked herself upstairs in fear of this feral assault.

That night my two 11-year-olds went out with their mates dressed in costumes they'd made. For 3 hrs they toured the town, had a ball, got a ton of candy from generous, well-prepared neighbours.

I think I know who really needs to sort themselves out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I'm sure there's a default to change, but it's a pity this posts at the point it was drafted and not published.

I have not reviewed this site yet but feel the urge to share as this is a definite 'why not?'. It didn't start well as I tried to sign up (may be a Mac/Safari thing) and it wouldn't work. I've told them and no word yet.

Here's the PR blurb that went with:

Mayor of London launches extended service to help London businesses buy greener

The Mayor of London has nnounced that his Green Procurement Code is being updated and extended. It will now offer businesses specialist procurement advice to buy low carbon products in addition to the traditional focus on buying recycled products.

Previously, the Mayor of London's Green Procurement Code, focused on stimulating demand and creating markets for recycled products. Since its launch in 2001, members of the programme have spent £548.7 million on recycled products and diverted 1.8 million tonnes of waste from landfill. Using recycled materials in new products prevents the disposal of that material to landfill, which reduces emission of carbon dioxide. Over the last two years, 391,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions have been saved through the purchase of recycled products.

To build on this success, the free support service, funded by the London Development Agency will now provide businesses with procurement advice on an extended range of green products including low carbon, water saving and sustainable technologies.

Part of the new service will be interactive to reach the greatest possible number of businesses, including London's small and medium enterprises (SMEs). There is now a dedicated green procurement website and organisations delivering the biggest environmental impact through their purchases can also receive five to seven days of dedicated one-to-one support.

Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said: "I have updated my [oo, get you - for once I'd feel the 3rd person my have scanned better] Green Procurement Code so that more businesses can get specialist support to buy green products. In order to tackle climate change we have to take decisive action right now to cut our emissions of greenhouse gases. My new Green Procurement Code will help businesses to become energy efficient and use their resources more efficiently ultimately helping them to cut their carbon emissions."

The Mayor of London's new Green Procurement Code is the only service of its kind in Europe. The launch of the new service enables London to retain its leadership in the UK on green procurement.

London Remade will continue to deliver the service with new partners, Action Sustainability and Mouchel Parkman.

Do you buy it?

I got quite excited when I read this BBC and Guardian launch new eco sites

More nifty ways to find out things to do to help the planet, I thought.

What I was not quite prepared for was the flogging stuff part when I got there.

My fault, I guess, I just have a different idea in mind when I think 'eco-site'. And it's not 'shop'. Or 'car salesroom'.

Now, the Guardian can do what it likes. But I'd love to have explained to me how 'leading media group' Aunty gets to flog a Ford Focus and still stay credible on reporting climate change... under the same brand name at least.

I am sure all will indeed be extremely successful in the run-up to Christmas, but just not quite so sure as to how it all helps the planet vs. not buying stuff. Instead of the LCD, OK, but what's the betting most in the demographic fancy both, plus a quick trip to Verbier to avoid the crowds. While the snow lasts. There's always the Rockies next year.

Star bucks

It's down to time. And money. And money is time.

I just watched a thing on the news about train travel. All I can say is great. If it takes roughly the same time and costs roughly the same amount... why wouldn't you?

Take my trip to Brussels next month.

I'm staying over at a London chum's again after a weekend event, and taking the Eurostar. Brillo. And £60 door to door. No plane to match it.

And even the timing is great, even factoring in the getting to's and fro's. Coming back not so great, but at £12.50 for London to Gloucester (please let it run!!) I can live with the 2hr bus trip back home.

No brainer for next to no money. And the time is on par. When it works, it works (now, please work.... pretty please:)

The elephant in the room. I guess we eat that first.

Humankind at risk as resources dry up

True and true.

However, it always surprises me how often and to what degree population increase is not even acknowledged, much less any intelligent discussions taking place about its potentially deleterious effects. Especially in conjunction with the human demands on resources during periods of economic growth that are matching that of our race's numbers.

I just wonder what will be the point when those theoretically in charge look at the finite land area (and sea volume) there is to support an ever-increasing human footprint.

Is there anything dumber than really simple?

'Cos I have... er... this freind.

And he...ok... I am trying to get a handle on, amongst many other IT things, RSS.

Because I know I am missing more tricks than a lady of easy virtue leaning against the Vatican walls.

I'm hoping this (which seems very helpful, which is why I URL it your way) may help... if I can understand it any batter than what I know already.

I already have an APB out for a teenager to help with MySpace, etc. I think I need another. If I can say that in public still. I'm not sure I can wait for my two to get that old.


The Ultimate RSS Toolbox

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Digital Point XML/RSS Discussion Forum

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RSS Advertising - Pheedo



Rubbish charging given go-ahead - Confused? You will be:)

You put your green glass in. They take the PEP 1 out. You put your compost in. They take the Tetrapak out. And you shake it all about (actually, there's a fine for that). You do the ok-dokey and you tick a box... that's what it's all about!

It would be funny, were it not true

Dilbert has touched on things enviro before.

Now he skewers them.

Forget me not

It's not enviro, but I'm posting anyway as it goes to the core of how we are mis-governed - NHS pariahs

Oh, yes, I am angry.

My Mum has mild but deteriorating Alzheimer's. She is also quite comfortable financially. When she was no longer able to manage in her own home we moved her to a cottage next to ours where i could keep an eye on her hourly. It has worked well so far. Yes, there was some official interest (more visits and clipboards than I could count in a short period), but once it was appreciated that she had family looking after her this evaporated. Priorities. Fair enough. And we are grateful for the non means-tested attendance allowance that helps us to look after her more intimate needs via private carer visits.

However soon it may be that her medical needs will require her to go into a home, and while this will be a sad day for all there is really no option. Fortunately she is well prepared for this, and we will ensure that she has the best her money can buy.

So why I am I angry? Because, with the exception of the attendance allowance, thanks to her and my deceased father's prudence and thrift she has been near zero a burden on the state or its coffers. Helped in a small way by her family rallying round.

But when the time comes and she passes on, should she yet be able to leave some funds to ease the personal, familial and national burden of geriatric care for future generations, it first has to run the gamut of IHT so the government can suck out as much as it can to fund useless box-tickers and gold-plated civil service pensions.

And yet in defence of this all I see is smug Brown babes and comfy Islington media luvvies trying to claim it is just to redistribute wealth to prevent rich landed gentry spoiling their heirs.

Where is the incentive to save for your old age and the benefit of others who may play a great part in making its consequences less onerous... for all concerned???!

But carry a big pointy stick

Tread Lightly is a new(ish Guardian blog site. Some nice ideas and useful debate.

Trouble is, I'm having a problem working it as will be gathered by my posting on the section. However, I have my reasons.

EnvironmentEditor Comment No. 76060October 29 16:17 Blimey, what fantastic tips...

Yes, tips are good. Long may they be shared.

And this looks like a good place to share them. However I must confess to having a few navigational problems.

This thread, obviously, is about light bulbs. And I have more I'd like to share on other things in other enviro-areas. But this is not so easy.

Take my main area of reuse. There is a link to a more promising zone of the Tread Lightly Section, Waste, but when I tried to read more and contribute to Reuse or throw away? the link didn't work and comments were closed (so please go to to get some hopefully useful options by way of a contribution to that section).

Is it possible to keep such things archived and open a bit longer?

Reality Bites Again... Literally

Malaria moves in behind the loggers

As most will know, I have a bee in my bonnet about deforestation. Mainly revolving around the logic of cutting down mature trees that are doing what carbon offset saplings may manage in 40 years.

However this adds more to my advocacy.

I have often seen certain insect borne diseases springing up in various locations being put down to global warming. Logically of course, if it does get warmer then the environment will be more appealing. So yes, it is an inevitable consequence.

But I think much more real, and immediate, is all the negative effects of man simply doing what comes unnaturally. Flying from a hotbed of nasties in a sealed tube and in two hours being in a climate-controlled building halfway around the world. With unwelcome co-passengers in the blood stream alkready, or about to get some.

Or, as in the case above, simply trashing the joint.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bums and seats (I'm the former)

A little while ago I was asked by our local enviro-community group, EnviroAbility, if I could help them with some design work for a new service, rather entertainingly called 'Take A Pew".

Basically it is a furniture reuse project that aims to place reclaimed custom-prepared church pews in new homes. Once it is fully up and running I'll be sharing more on it, both here and on the main site.

I am happy to say that my design was liked and accepted, and even more so that the strapline suggested was too. Shows there is a thick vein of fun still to be found in secular parts!

I wish them well and will do all I can to help. It was great fun, and the results, I hope, are, and will be, worth it.

AWARDS - MediaGuardian Innovation Awards

WHEN: By Friday, 2 Nov
WHAT: MediaGuardian Innovation Awards
WHAT... MORE?: Blurb: If you, your company, or your colleagues have taken part in a truly innovative, forward-thinking project this year or if you’ve pushed the boundaries or pioneered a different way of thinking then you could triumph at the awards ceremony at the O2 arena in March 2008. The MediaGuardian Innovation Awards are open to media owners, clients, agencies and individuals in the UK and feature a high-profile panel of judges from many disciplines and backgrounds who will work hard to select the worthiest winners. If you’ve been part of something that deserves recognition, get your entry in now. But hurry, this is the last call for entries.

HOW MUCH: There's the rub. Not cheap (well to me). £200 + VAT per category. And I could easily enter half a dozen.

: I was going to blow it out, but getting, and RE:tie, and what we're trying to do in front of some heavy hitters judging-wise is tempting. But oh lord, how can you trust it even gets to them?

And that's all we have time f..

I'll be brief. I have seen some pieces that put the state of government in sharp contrast. This is a small but telling piece on the state of our media: Today for ever

It's actually in the Times' Radio review section, when frankly I think it should be the front page. Especially as 'Today remains the indispensable soundtrack to all that activity for some 6m people.' That's 10% of the population. Or half who vote... ish.

And I do see, and express real frustration at its weakness. No, not everything can be covered in three minutes. And if it cannot, it should not be attempted. Or excused.

It's big. It's not so bad. Is it?

Airbus A380 - the complete guide

All I could do was wonder how many media outlets that spend a % of their time (and sincerity) on climate change were on board, simply being taken for a ride. Like their readers.

Recommended maximum alcohol intake

figures issued 20 years ago were numbers that were scientifically ............. plucked entirely out of thin air!

OK, so this is neither eco nor enviro, but it is another example of hogwash 'targets' being set without any scientific basis whatsoever, and then being used to bash the man in the street into changing his habits. See TimesOnline.

Me, I think I'll go along with the World Health Organisation figures, they look much more realistic! Anyone fancy a pint after work?

'Ah did not have relations with them honours'

In light of the words vs. actions of those who would govern us, this is worth sharing: Aha, the getaway map for anyone planning a cash for honours caper

Times - A sharp little piece of honesty getting under Whitehall’s skin

I'm about ready for a 'why don't the public trust us/engage with politics' chestbeat any time soon.

Oh, then there's this: Brown rewards the PC brigade, not the diligent

Gosh, I am sooo glad I'm trying to found my own business using my savings.

Trust me, I'm your leader. I know stuff.

The words of the then Environment Minister still resonate as I read this: Eat your words, all who scoff at organic food

So, who do we believe now? On anything?

All I am sure of is that the organic counter at the local supermarket will be doing a nice new surge of custom.

Times - Official: organic really is better - Depends rather on which official, mind

Guardian - Organic's better. Admit it

The Hummer H2...Oh

Mass-market hydrogen car is ready to roll

I always have to start these critiques with 'but I do like the idea of hydrogen'.

Two things. The car may be ready to roll. Getting the fuel into the car in any way that saves the planet... less so.

Plus, let's not forget that car makers don't really want us to travel any less. And whichever way you cut it, it's the travelling that uses the fuel that is simply energy that has to be created somehow.... that, for now, means CO2.

But it's a nice thing to look at for the future. Just let's be careful with the zero emissions claims, eh?

Times - Fuel cells drive into the future -

Times - Up, up and away – the hydrogen car is here

RE:PAIR - Car bodywork dings

Another Aunty sent me this; this time all the way from Singapore.

It was a video, but I'm too tight to gobble up several Meg on Google cache, so you get just a frame. Ain't brain surgery.

Now, there are a few caveats. I have no clue where you get dry ice. And it looks dangerous if the thickness of that glove is anything to go on.

Plus it may not work, but seemed to on the video (like those are always true). Certainly I can see who creating localised colling would pull the metal tighter.

Call this one a 'possible'. I'll await confirmation before putting it on site.

One good turn...

How do you resist someone who writes to say how nice your site is... and would you mind helping her help others get on TV?

Well, you don't (plus it looks like a nifty show - just watch out for what is said will be shot, what is shot... and what ends up on the cutting room floor).

Karma, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Climate change bill to be 'stronger'?

Every now and then something the government does surprises me, and this is no exception. The original draft climate change bill has been out for public consultation since last March, something that almost inevitably results in a major watering down of the proposed measures.

But, as reported in the Guardian this afternoon, in this case not; the amended proposals have actually come back with the recommendations potentially strengthened!

For example, they are now talking about including the emissions from the aviation and shipping industries (and quite right too!), and "the revised bill also raises the possibility of raising the emissions reductions further". (Oh, that's spoiled it a little for me, there's that word 'possibility' again.)

"The bill will make the UK the first country to put reducing carbon emissions into law. The bill, to be published next month, will put a legal duty on the government to cut emissions by at least 60% by 2050".

Well, let's see, if we cannot meet the 20% from renewables by 2020, I see it getting rather more difficult to meet a target of reducing ALL emissions by 60% by 2050. But then, of course, this lot won't be in power, and it will be a different government who has to meet (or, of course, lower to something that is achievable) that historically set target.

The proposed bill now also includes for some statutory powers for local councils to "pilot incentives for household waste minimisation and recycling." As reported by And, yes, you've guessed correctly, what that almost certainly means is the introduction of pay as you throw schemes.

However, the statement "Any new schemes must be revenue neutral and should not lead to an increase in the overall cost to local residents." rather fills me with dread. In my experience, 'revenue neutral' normally means I finish up paying more for the same services!

Addendum 2:
There is now a useful Q&A section on the climate change bill in the Guardian too.

IDEA - SpagScale

Having been prodded to do what I really should more (ie: what I'm good at, making stuff down me shed), I have at last added this to the site.

Interesting, but...

I know there's a certain irony in this ad banner being on my site unpaid, let alone at all but hey-ho. Maybe it will be next year's winner?

Any Rowan & Martin Laugh-inophiles out there? I give you: Honda Racing F1 takes top accolade at Green Awards

I haven't gone to and through, it all yet, but this time there can be no sense of unsweetened grapes 'cos this year we didn't enter. The small matter of what won last year being 'odd' (to this ex creative-judge adman) and the more major fact that our money was taken to then have two sets of categories subsequently 'amalgamated'. So our modest concept found itself judged against mega-£ quango-funded monsters (who probably have a staffer to enter such things, paid with...?). No change there then, though it looks they +/- £100k categories stayed this time.

And, so, of all the things to laud, it was... an F1 car. All seen that have we? Noted and acted? Reappraised you relationship with F1 have we? Bernie? I'm sure it will stand out well in Singapore as they race all night under burning arc lamps.

'The judging panel awarded the Grand Prix to the campaign which it believed exemplifies an outstanding environmental message and has the greatest capacity to raise awareness among the general public.' I beg to differ. Or, if so, the rest must have been woeful (as always, it will be interesting to see what the comparisons were/are - more often than not you don't get to see).

Apparently, if 1% of fans who follow Formula 1 were to switch to energy saving light bulbs, according to a Honda spokesperson, the resulting energy savings would mitigate the emissions produced over three seasons by Honda's racing team. Or... if you drive a Volks Bluemotion you can use 25,000 plastic bags. But whatever you do, don't stop driving guys! And fast!

As to the rest, I hope you remember them well and were persuaded to act. Were you?

ADDENDUM - Winners - shame we can't see 'em. I'm sure linking to their sites will get you there.

Best Press Advertisement under 100k : Sustrans
Best Press Advertisement over 100k: DEFRA
Best Radio Advertisement: Capital Radio
Best Outdoor Advertisement: Transport for London
Best Website: The Carbon Trust
Best New Media: ECOutlet
Best Direct Mail: Worcestershire County Council - they won last year. Wonder what this one was?
Best Use of Copy: Stop Climate Chaos
Best use of Art Direction: London Borough of Islington
Best CSR Report: The Guardian
Best Internal Communications under 100k: MCM Architecture
Best Internal Communications over 100k: Marks & Spencer - internal... over £100k!
Best Audio Visual under 100k: Stop Climate Chaos
Best Audio Visual over 100k: Central Office of Information and DEFRA
Best Packaging Design: Greenbottle Ltd
Best PR campaign under 100k: Radio Taxis
Best PR Campaign over 100k: Honda
Best Integrated Campaign under 100k: London 21
Best Integrated Campaign over 100k: British Sky Broadcasting

Media Week - Big ads pick up green awards

Times - Bernie Ecclestone holds £10m garage sale

Guardian - Strictly Come Dancing: what would John Stuart Mill make of it? - I pop this in simply to show that even the notion of the 'popular' vote has its limitations. Actually, mixing 'professional' judges with the public seems now to be about as bad a combo as you can get. If only because as a contestant you cannot opt on a strategy that can be directed to please both, and hence will likely fall between the two.

Weather, climate and man inter-related? Never!

A fascinating lightning image I was sent over the weekend by one of my colleagues was a real eye-opener!

And, just for fun, here's a link to a video on You Tube which argues that inaction is not a viable option on climate change. Quite persuasive!

Painting into corners before building the room

I just saw this and saw red: More heat than light

We cannot allow institutions like the World Bank to impose ill-conceived carbon-based energy reforms on developing nations.

Not so much with what was being said, but the presumption of the way it was laid out, and how that played with me and hence mmight with others... such as those who may well need to be persuaded to rethink.

Whatever the merits (or not) of the subsequent piece and its arguments, I would have to opine that anything that starts 'We cannot allow...' rather sets up a few issues of sensible negotiation practice.

Such as who the heck is 'we'? And who put 'you/(or is it presuming...)us' in charge? And in what way are 'we' in a position to 'allow' anything? And doesn't it all rather suggest a mindset that is 'our way is the only way' which doesn't establish a very helpful basis to effect change?

I'll go read it now.

Yet another 'green' quango?

According to the Guardian, Hilary Benn, now of DEFRA, is looking at creating yet another government advisory service to inform citizens just how to 'green' their homes.

They are going "to create a one-stop "green homes service", making it easier for householders to change their lifestyles by offering advice, installation services and loans for equipment such as solar panels".

Now isn't that pretty much the identical remit that the Energy Savings Trust already has? On top of them we have Low Carbon Buildings, ActOnCo2, Blue Skies, the BRE, the Carbon Trust, Sustainable Development Gov. and Envirowise, as well as multiple regional and local council initiatives.

Sorry, but I can help feeling that this is just yet another example of something that our government can shout about - 'look what we've created to help out' - that is simply replicating exactly what's gone before, and achieving, well, probably, absolutely nothing! Not to mention creating another raft of civil servant, gilt-edged pensioned jobs-worth roles, controlled by a set of meaningless and ever changing targets, where promotion is earned and rewards are granted for doing sod all, and where 90% of the funding goes on staff, administration and internal projects!

Everything is talk, quangos, advisory services and waffle.
Where the hell is the DOING?

Even the civil servants themselves reckon the government is failing on climate change!

And, "half-hearted measures are as dangerous as the 1930s appeasement of Hitler".

Addendum (Junkk Male) - When in doubt (and having screwed up with what you have already), hire more: MPs in call for new climate body BBC

Light weights

Light bulbs - making the switch

davenorfolk - Anyone have suggestions for other useful uk sites on the same subject?

If you are into reuse as a positive, proactive notion you may fancy

For complements to the light ideas of this thread, there's such as this:

Plus discussion, too. I am grateful to the share of the sust-it site.

There may be one already, but when it comes to listings and comparisons, on low-energy I am keen to find an easy to weigh long-life measures, too.

I find a lot of shops will sell something that seems a good deal but serves pockets and planet poorly by blowing within months.

So far the key is to write the date of installation on the body and point out the maths of the lifespan to the retailer if they fail well before time. Not ideal, but may encourage a move to better standards of reliability which will also help the global enviROI of the industry too.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Risky business, politics, anything... not

I think we've kind of accepted, frustratingly, that there is no such thing as being held accountable for one's negative actions any more.

However, having pondered the Sunday paper's various sections today, I have realised that in complement to this there seems a bizarre over-correction when it comes to being rewarded for positives.

I usually consign the Sports section to the bin unread. However I could not help but notice that some football manger that I was dimply aware was not in favour... now is. And his predecessor now forgotten. For now. Meanwhile another is in line for some truly remarkable pay over the next 3 years.

Thing is, I really can't see how any of these guys are making a blind bit of difference in any serious way to the outcome of their team's performance. At least to justify the fuss and froth around their hiring, tenure and ultimate departure (when the ball doesn't go in the net like it used to).

However, as I presume none of this costs me a penny, I am content for it to play out and provide entertainment to those who are entertained by it all, and dubious employment to a bunch of hangers on who ... well, I'm not sure what.

But then we get to the City. This does bother me, because what these guys do can and does cost me. Thing is, again, they seem to get paid telephone numbers by simply being right once in a while, but don't seem to have to give it back when they cock-up. How does that work?

And finally, politics. Um... ditto. Only it really, really... really gets laid on when they are around when something good (and prudent ?) happens, and they are really, really, really , really hard to shift when the chickens come home to roost. Assuming they have not bailed already.

As I have already blogged, it's not just about winning. I value much more the general who coordinates a brilliant retreat to one who squanders an easy victory. Equally the CEO who helps their company weather a storm much more than one who presides over lazy profits. And as for politics, well, there more than anywhere, the noble art of doing what is right has long been sacrificed an the altar of staying on power to tell us what we think is best for us.

Let's call it 3F's - Fab Failure Funding

Guardian - Merrill Lynch, the firm lost $8bn and the chief executive had to go - with $159m

What floats your boat?

It is billed as a dilemma - How much greener are ships than planes?

I guess we can soon expect to see sea miles added to the book attached to the packaging as the responsibility is dumped, pointlessly, on us at point of purchase.

Leftover policies

It's one of those things where you can't help but agree, but equally have to wonder what the heck is going to happen if 'the Man' decides to get involved: Watching your waste

I just hope to heck we don't get subjected to some multi-million £ piece of pointless ad campaigning (shoot, I just read on. We are) where the money could be so easily, and effectively, be applied elsewhere.

I think we have to think laterally.

Speaking personally on a family issue, we are looking at reducing waste still further on a money and health basis. At the moment, we do still waste a portion, but it's mainly the kids, and that then gets consumed by yours truly either on the spot or the next day. I'm not getting any thinner.

One area we are looking at portions a lot more closely. The other month my godmother gave* me a piece of wood with four holes in it to measure 1-4 portions of spaghetti. Works a treat.

ADDENDUM - Just finished a lunch comprised mainly of what the boys didn't eat last night. I'm not sure a governminted campaign, a couple of slots on the BBC news and the nice lady from Good Housekeeping saying it's what Granny used to do is going to swing them much. But we can hope.

Meanwhile I have been asked for a piccy of Aunty's SpagScale. I reminded me that I spend too much time talking and not enough doing. So it's up on this blog now, with a link to the site with instructions (well, drill a hole in a plank... D'uh).

*I fibbed a bit. She gave me 'the plan', a utensil rubbing of her fancy effort. And it only had 3 holes. Sorry. If you can do the maths I'm sure you can do one for any number. I'm guessing 40mm for four, and there's bound to me some whizzo numb3rs way to plot it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Corporal Fraser would be proud, I tell ye... proud!

It's half-time - and we're already 3-0 down

Tricky things, dilemmas.

It cannot have escaped most folks' notice that quite an industry has sprung up around the whole planet saving (from itself) thing.

What I am not so sure is that the balance is right between those doing vs. those talking, especially when it comes to the media talking about those doing the talking.

And it's throwing up a small problem. Facts are nice things to hang a headline on. Especially when they have dates attached.

Trouble is, if you are in the business of persuasion (no matter how sincere), once you commit to one you are kinda bound by the consequence.

So all this 'we're all doomed' stuff is causing me a slight problem. Tell it as it is, or as it might be, and risk the rather obvious deleterious consequence of going past a stated point of no return and hence rather logically acknowledging the point that there is... um... no point trying any more.

Or perhaps simply focus more on all sorts of nifty, proactive, incentive-driven, reward-based ways to get people on aboard with doing better by the planet because they want to and feel like it as opposed to scare stories, guilt-trips, fines, nags and all the other stuff that has worked sooooo well to now. Puts a lot of folk in cushy little numbers plugging those notions, from activists to target-driven pols and quangos to carbon-trading suits to....etc, out of business, but I could live with that at a pinch.

Tricky, eh?

The positives are out there. It's just it doesn't make for a good career in media to report them. So most don't. Yet still get paid well for it.

Hitler. Stalin. Pol Pot. Farmer Giles

Biofuels 'crime against humanity'

And yes, before you can cry 'rapeseed', the headlines have taken an issue worthy of consideration and elevated it to the level of the Judgement of Nuremberg.

Oo, 'eck. There's a point in there, but golly is this the way to make it?

Glad I didn't opt for the Saab biodiesel now. Actually, opt isn't quite the word. In fact the words 'couldn't afford' are more like it.

Anyway, yesterday the old Volvo was serviced and passed with flying colours. 11 years old, tuned to perfection, tyres at right inflation, etc.

What was interesting was a certificate I got 'for when plod stops me to do an emissions check' (it clears me, and passes the buck to the garage, at least for 6 months). Seems that beyond the MOT, you can get hauled up and have a probe stuck up your pipe. And if you fail... £80 on the spot. Nice that the priorities are again tip top.

Maybe when they stop the joyrider with no tax, insurance or MOT they can get 'em on a dodgy tune job. That'll hit 'em where it hurts... their pride.

Indy - Ditto

PROF'S POSER - Paper Cuts

This is one I'd been pondering awhile, and have been tilted to pose following a reader post about recycled book stock.

It certainly should be prefaced with a LiKADaT (little knowledge is a dangerous thing - all together now in a good Italian accent: 'Jus' a likeadat!') tag!

Let's start with the down sides of what I think I know.

Getting virgin paper needs trees. And energy. You have got to cut 'em down, munch 'em up, tidy it all with chemicals and then lay it out and stuff. That means where once there was a tree there isn't any more, and a wadge of CO2 is produced, and a load of water (I think) consumed just to get to the raw stock (we're ignoring logistics of printing and distribution, say, versus a PDF).

Getting recycled paper needs old paper. And energy. And, I believe, quite a few chemicals, too. And for some reason or other, it all costs a lot more, though the gap is closing. But what it doesn't do is consume new trees.

But.... and as I am oft minded to say, it's a big one.... here's my poser: is the former quite as bad as made out, enviROI+wise? Especially in comparison to the latter?

I am set on this trail by the logic, ironically, of offsetting. In simplistic (and now more often than not less practiced) terms it has been sold as good for the planet in the form of planting a tree, which will grow and act as a carbon sink.

So I guess my poser would be whether one could view using virgin paper, so long as it is derived from properly managed forests (and I need to sort out my FSC-certified from my stewardship-thingie. I'm guessing there are as many schemes and logos to confuse as any other e-industry), as logically being an encouragement of good environmental practice? If so, in fact the perverse logic of projection would be that using more paper from such sources is actually even better, as it promotes the planting and tending of forests to full term as opposed to say, a bio-diesel field.

Just how does it compare to recycled which, if one accepts where I am going with the above (which is in the form, at present, of a question I stress!!!) actually seems to be rather stuck in a cycle of energy consumption from collection to reprocessing. And no new trees going up taboot.

I guess ignoring the latter, a key factor in weighing them is the amount of CO2 that gets from raw material (tree vs. waste paper) to new stock. With a few pollutant nasties factored in too, but in another enviROI- tick box, which makes comparison more tricky.

Friday, October 26, 2007

For every snake... a ladder

And, this week only, at half price...!

But seriously folks, who needs the dubious accolade of an international competition seen by mill... well, a few thousand... and a Prius... when you can be regional Green Champion (I can't quite get on with the 'hero' handle) for FOCUS DIY.

Actually I was being a tad bitter, twisted and sarky there, but in many ways this is here, now, real and does really mean something. For a start, £125 in vouchers (see 'em there in the Squidstand holder I designed and made for the occasion. You may notice I also dragged along and got into shot as much else reused as I could carry!).

So far these shots have made it to, the local online news of the guy commissioned to take 'em (and who has some nice words, ta very much). But I am hoping that these will radiate out at least to the rest of the patch my 'award' covers.

Watch this space. Or that one. Or...

Now you can cast your votes

for the worst examples of greenwashing and EU lobbying.

I assume that this is a rather tongue in cheek, whilst exposing some of the worst cases to a greater public view.

Save the world. A list.

A little while ago some chums and I made a TV commercial for a contest (oddly, in that it was 30" and we cut to that, it is now ":60 to Save the Earth" ecospot). Seems we didn't get into the finals. So now it's free to use, here it is:

As a creative soul, and in the spirit of unsweetened grapes (it's all how you say it these days), here's my purely subjective review (hey, it's what blogs are for, and I've found that playing coy gets you nowhere) of what beat us:

1. Are You Game? – First up. Mentions Al Gore. Twice. Darn, should have thought of that!

2. Change the way you think. – Some nice imagery, I guess.

3. Cheeto and Vinn – OK. Singled-minded and funny. Gets the point across. I’m wishing we’d gone the 60’ option now.

4. Decisions – Again, not bad imagery. But hard to get ‘into’.

5. Gaia's Lament – yeah, well. Whatever.

6. Get Your Green on – And there’s a single out soon, too:)

7. Green – Nice. Yet one of the lowest ratings so far.

8. I Did Nothn' – A good line in there somewhere.

9. Keep it Equal – Nice idea. Neat editting.

10. Lights Out – OK, so it’s campaignable. Worth two in the finals?

11. Perry the Cockroach – Um, pass.

12. Plastic Ocean – Nice, simple idea.

13. Roachie Enviro Contest – If you’re going to use music, it seems it is better if wra... er... rapped.

14. Small Changes – I’m just guessing, but I think going with plastic bags would make one a shoe-in.

15. Small Steps – Sort of cute.

16. Support Good Hot – Energy – Interestingly, only the first that seems to have had some production money on it. The line ain’t worth it.

17. The Bags – OK, and here’s another. I’m sure the COI will buy it.

18. The Little Things – Lists are good, too. With a song.

19. The Sky is Falling – Some more production bucks. Not a bad line. Motivated? Highest rate to date.

20. Think Again – Yeah, well. The money is coming out now. Where from?

21. This is not a testYay! Another list!

22. This is the World – Or... don’t cut a tree down that’s already doing its job. Nice production on low budget, though.

23. What Can Regular People Do? – Follow more lists. It works in creative eco ads, anyway.

I still think ours is... was pretty good.

Here's the submission notes:

A simple ad for a simple notion: green IS good, but only if you really think about all aspects very carefully.

Many of us have bought into the notion of offsetting the carbon consequences of our lifestyles. And it is certainly better than nothing, But only so long as the initiative is worthy and well run.

Some schemes still operate on the basis of planting a tree to achieve a balance that will be unlikely to make itself felt for many years, if at all. And time is of the essence, as tipping points are being talked of in terms of decades.

Some of these can of course still be viable and good to support. But, as with all things sold in the name of ‘green’, one needs to always challenge such efforts to justify their environmental value, their envIROI (which is not the same as monetary ROI, as you can make a financial investment in our kids’ future that may not pay back monetarily) before committing hard-earned, and highly useful, funds without thinking, simply to ‘buy-off’ a sense of responsibility for one’s actions.

The facts of deforestation and national emissions of the world’s current greatest greenhouse gas polluter are a matter of public record. The logic of where our priorities should lie in this instance, are our own. There will be hurdles, to be sure, and this is of course a plea more for preservation rather than reduction, but we think it is one worth making, to be considered and, if necessary, sensibly debated.

Other than a bit of time, this ad cost nothing and used no resources... at all. Which is quite an ideal metaphor for the message being conveyed...

IF you think about it!

ps: No trees were harmed in the making of this commercial. But a nice weed didn’t make it. Sorry.

Maybe I should have been nicer about daft celebs and meaningless platitudes. They were the judges after all. Maybe not so daft to see who it was aimed at.

And now... YouTube!

Which reminds me, it's the Green Awards to... night? I entered last year but decided against this ever again having seen who the judges were (for a creative contest - even if it's a people's choice, which I often prefer, there is always pre-selection... and agendas) and what they voted into the finals.

Here's one that may win there (it shows a lady's naught bits, which always helps, if you're being viral.):

And maybe they'll deliver to your door in person! By hybrid!

Time for a picture.

This little button has been popping up on a few articles I have perused of late in such as the Indy, Guardian, etc.

It's for a hybrid. Which, as we all know, must be better for the planet.

Maybe so; maybe no. And I doubt the brochure will do much other than err on the first.

Thing is, and here's why I write, I can't really find out unless I get the brochure. Excuse me, brochures. And guess what? A PDF download doesn't seem to be an option.

What does that say to you?

And what a state it's in!

BBC - state of the planet

Irony Alert!

Next post down: 3m extra homes 'still not enough'

The predictability of global warming is ..... uncertain

How much the earth's climate will change as a result of global warming is unpredictable.

Well, tell me something that I didn't know.

This from National Geographic News reports on a new study which looks at the levels of certainty involved in calculating estimated temperature rises as a result of us humans continuing to pump too much CO2 into the atmosphere.

Now, apart from one or two crazy luddites, we all accept that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and we all know that if we continue to pump ever more into the atmosphere then there is going to be an effect. All the scientists and climatologists tell us that this WILL cause a rise in the temperature of the earth's biosphere. What we don't know is just how much temperature rise equates to what level of CO2 there is, hence, at least to some extent, the endless stream of tis/tisn't arguments, and counter arguments that the earth is not doing anything different than it ever has.

The majority of scientists (the consensus?) tell us that temperature rise is bad on a rising scale, a couple of degrees perhaps maybe OK, but too much and we'll all fry, along with most of the other flora and fauna. (Hence recent headlines warning of mass extinctions.)

What we don't know is just what constitutes too much, the models are so complicated and involve so many interrelated variables that no computer model we can currently produce can provide any answer with any degree of certainty. And that's without starting to factor in natural feedback systems and amplification loops, which make it impossible to predict future temperature rises with any degree of accuracy at all.

All in all the 'science' of temperature rise prediction is a huge can of worms, and those of us not endowed with brains the size of a planet simply have to accept what the scientific consensus tells us, that the numbers are uncertain and that they actually don't know, other than the temperature IS going to increase.

Fossil evidence through geological history over 100's of millions of years shows us that in cool times, flora and fauna have multiplied and genera and species diversity has increased rapidly. It also shoes us that in the much warmer periods, many of the planet's life forms disappear, and that in a few, very short, very hot periods, life forms have almost been wiped out entirely (90%+ of all life forms in one catastrophic event alone). [And that's without mentioning what humanity is already doing to our current flora and fauna.]

Now I'm no scientist (well, in comparison to most of the clever people out there researching away on all of this) but that still worries me significantly. We ARE warming the earth, we simply don't know by how much, or if the temperature rise will accelerate due to natural feedback systems. What we DO know, from fossil evidence that more warmth means less life forms, and that excessive warmth means but very few life forms survive.

Now surely that's a compelling case for looking at reducing our CO2 emissions now, rather than risk hitting some sort of temperature acceleration point in a few decades or so? The science of predicting global warming temperature increases may be uncertain, but I'm pretty sure that if we sit and do nothing, then the consequences appear to be rather dire.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The [unspecified Asian country water] torture

This is a rant.

It has to be because I rather fear that what I am ranting about has no possible solution, which simply makes appreciating it simply frustrating.

It has been kicked off by a small straw; a story I just read about our kids being unprepared for life's slings and arrows by everything at school being changed to only allow positives, with no allowance for competition or failure.

Some dipsy headteacher was quoted wittering on about self esteem, when the piece I read made the fair point that being told aged 8 that you are super in all things is a) unlikely to encourage good behaviour at home or out and about, and c) be poor training for when it turns out later that, in all likelihood, they are not. Bummer.

Of course where the real kicker comes is dealing with it all. Not just in the example above but across the whole governance firmament. Short of presiding over institutional murder (through target-obsessed incompetence) of innocents, lower tier individuals paid via the public purse are never going to be moved from their jobs. And if the are, and certainly if senior, they will either be moved sideways to carry on their 'skill sets' elsewhere, or get paid so much that they never need to work again. Or become consultants.

So maybe it has, at least for some, become self-fulfilling. You are super at aged 8 and then isolated from thinking otherwise by any sense of reality or critique through to adulthood and, if you stay in the cocoon of state employment, kept that way on up to early, cosy, index-linked golden pensionhood. The impact on those your efforts get directed at is... irrelevant, as there is no accountability or responsibility, at least on a personal basis (lazy managers will just pay up - using public funds - to cover up) any more.

But as I cannot see even the most effective, public-supported political party undoing all these drip-drip, society-eroding bonkers laws and the extra several hundred thousand civil servants taken on to 'cope' (keeps 'em off the dole figures, I guess. Trouble is they also often feel the need to meddle) with them, I am afraid this must stay a rant.