Thursday, January 25, 2007

They're so bad I am at last being moved to action

One of the sadder things about politics today, is how we the people see the government as them and not us. These guys we voted in to represent us, and depend on our support for their jobs and salaries. They are us, and depend on us, and we must never let them forget it.

So tomorrow I am going to a local political meeting. Shame it's at 7am, but hey.

I have decided enough is enough.

They are being rewarded these days more for how clever and bright they seem, rather than how right and effective they are.

This downward spiral needs to be rectified.

Indy - Naked greed and other core British values - I am not alone

I was going to add a new post to make this next point, but as it's about living in Britain and being proud to be British I think it will do here just as well. Because some current miserable examples of those who think they can score some cosy index-linked, gold-plated careers leading us into the abyss, are currently using it as a bandwagon.

A highly lucid, black young man at a school (so some of it must be working, despite what the Media will try and stir up) answered the question 'What does it mean to be British' this morning best, if slightly inaccurately (I believe). He said 'You have been born in Britain'.

Actually I think it's a bit more complex than that, involving British Passports and all, but on balance he's bang on. That's all it is, a label that makes border controls convenient. Anything else (Fish 'n chips, tolerance (or lack, though how the words and deeds of some prepped and manipulated Chavs in a TV isolation chamber can be deemed how British society now is, escapes me), bowlers (hats, not overpaid sponsorship efforts who can't do their job right in Oz), innovation, etc) is simply no longer relevant.

I sat down with my boys to figure out what we thought it could be. Here's what we came up with:

'To be proud of where you came from and where you are, and seek to make the best of your place in the human race, recognising, accepting and revelling in a non-aggressive and not in a negatively judgemental manner our many ways of being and doing, with respect for the past, and a simple, unselfish desire to make things better for all in the future.'

I'm sure there are others better than this. But it's not bad... for a start.

When in doubt, throw money at the box

This is about nothing being wasted, of course, because I am going to allude to the environment when I in fact refer to obesity, and one can only assume little of the slab gets left on the slab... well, until the other part of .. & taxes.

This morning, the big thing was our nation's 'kids of greater than desirable girth'. So far, so Billy Bunter (I hoping I'm safe in this from the PC police, as they all seem to have just graduated in the last 10 minutes from the University of Nannyton with a degree in ElfernSafety and a higher in fixingfingswotwasneverbroketilnow, and while there were lots of punters sticking their oars in when not at classes for 2 minutes a week no doubt).

So we had the Blair-babe blue rinse with the scarf and sing-song patronising voice on the couch, and at the other side a young lady of 12 and her Mum. Not at school today then, 'cos what's better than being on the telly to say that it's really hard not to eat all those buns because of the nasty ad men.

Which the blue rinse obviously got inspired by. Because she reckoned that the supermarkets and parents didn't have enough information, and they needed.. an ad campaign.

Now I am a TV addicted couch potato with the best of them, and merely by paying a bit of attention to the bits between Big Bruvva and The Qui... er... gambli... er... rip-off shows, have a pretty good notion that if you feed your face, or that of your child's, with endless burgers and fries, and then don't kick 'em out in the garden every so often, they may end up like the young Princess of Tonga this am. And I'm pretty sure the supermarkets know this too.

So no amount of money frittered, battered or otherwise coated on such an indigestible notion is going to make anyone take a blind bit more notice of such a thing, or make one whit of difference, except denuding apparently pretty low stocks of public service funds.

At least it's good for the planet..ish

The other night I was watching a documentary channel, and was about to switch off when I saw: 'Next - Megastructures: Recycled Tanks'. How could I resist?

So it was a bit of a surprise to find it was about a factory that... recycles tanks. Dirty great big, Storming Norman Mk whatever Abrams battle.. tanks.

Now I'm a big kid. I like guns and stuff, so long as they are not pointed at me and no one gets hurt, except the bad guys (sooooo open to debate, that one). So I was hooked.

And it was a great show. Even if you are a pure re:anything fanatic. Because these things were/are designed to be recycled all the time. In fact they haven't made a new one in years! As an exercise in engineering and indeed forward planning it ticked a lot of ROI boxes.

There is however the small matter of them doing 10 litres to the mile and knocking down a lot of perfectly stuff with that cannon, of course...

A dish best served cold.

The makers of the Big idea are probably thinking this is over. Sorry, I'm just starting.

TV phone-in quizzes

'My personal experience is not with a phone-in quiz, but a phone-in show, but whichever one it is, the answer is an unequivocal 'Yes!' to 'better' (whatever that may mean) 'regulation' (ditto).

I believe with all these things, both contestants (who often commit a large amount of time and often money, for free to contribute the 'content') and those who phone in on premium rate lines (to take part or 'vote') must be able to expect a fair delivery (and explanation of what that entails, or not) of the contest/show's stated structure.

That's nothing to do with 'people taking responsibility' for THEIR actions, but a rip-off industry, which is making millions for those unscrupulous, unethical and greedy enough to take advantage of slack or toothless monitoring and policing.

Can you imagine if the advertising industry - or the lottery, for that matter - was allowed to promise one thing and then deliver another, or nothing at all, with rules changing and/or shrouded in secrecy, plus little or no official audit of fairness or numbers?

Doesn't matter if it's a quiz or a contest, if these guys are allowed access to your 0900 billing there is only ever going to be one winner, and they'll make sure it is them, their ratings or their incomes, whichever comes highest, and regardless of skill or result.

Other than that, I'm sure it's all good, honest entertainment.'

Guardian - Call quiz shows dodge bullet

'A similar discussion is going on via the Newsnight online blog as we write. They seem to think it's a matter of better regulation and people should be responsible for their own actions. By that logic a person getting into a licensed (I presume if it is on air, OFCOM grants one) London taxi is 'repsonsible' for being driven to their destination via Alaska.

I'll cut and paste my contribution here, as I doubt that they'll moderate it in for being slightly 'off brief' by referring to any show that has contestants and/or phone-in partcipants/guests/votes via a 0900 number.

I still think the points I made hold true, and looking at that last sentence wonder how the telecoms companies who are willing partners in this racket can avoid some responsibility for being the collection agents.'

UM to original:

It seems some smug folk reckoned being gullible warrants you being fair game:

Let he (or she... must be PC) who casts the first stone...
As one who catches all other's typos but never his own, I'd say a wee bit of slack could be offered as it a) was not exactly a world-changing cock-up and b) about the first I've seen (and passed over, chuckling to myself) on these pages in a fair long time.
Meanwhile, back on the topic....
As one of those it seems deemed by some to have got what he deserved, I do look forward to their posts when they next engage with well, pretty much anything in life really, where what they have been told is not true, or even is as can be reasonably presumed by virtue of no clarifications being obvious, when in good faith they make a financial transaction. If so I look forward to running ads for beachfront property development in certain parts of Florida soon.
It is called fraud. And it doesn't matter if it's your accountant running off with your life savings or a TV production company taking 50p knowing full well you have a 'BMW gearbox on a beach's' chance of getting it back.
And I remain ensure how the collectors of the money (the telecoms companies) on behalf of the con-artists in question, are also allowed free rein to take their skim, especially when I presume both, to repeat, require a licence from those we pay to defend our interests against such sharp practices.
Unless they are in on the deal, too inept or frightened of lobbyists to do anything about it.

Davos III (the plebs strike back)

Not his fault, I suppose, but it's the first report I've read from 'the front' and this came across a bit smug a la 'I'm one of the in-crowd and you'll find out what I heard in secret when I decide.'

Davos 07: are we fanning the flames?

"I'll pop this on the record, so it's slightly more valuable than a free lunch with a VIP and a jolly with a media rep.

I'm wondering what, who 'mainstream media' is.. are? I'm guessing another 'elite' that means 'not the rest of you'.

I also wonder how many representatives of 'it' there were (the BBC apparently has managed 37, which has to be some kind of record - and we have a bet here they didn't take the bus) slumming it in a very cosy resort who noticed the irony of who was there, who was not, how they all got there (speaking of flying visits) and what was supposed to be quite high on the agenda.

So yes, it is getting warmer, and I have a fair notion who is fanning some of those 'flames'. I'll await my e-version in return."

Declan Does Davos II - the sequel

No link I'm afraid, but who really needs one, assuming the facts to be accurate?

DAILY MAIL - BBC accused of wasting £50,000 sending 37 journalists to cover
the Davos economic summit.

Your licence fee at work. And, one presumes, they all took the bus.

Er, what he said...

As we all know, Scott Adams is a genius, and Dibert is more than humour, it is simply the best, most targeted piece of social satire there is. Sign up now (this digs me out of copyright issues... I hope... when I just have to share).

I claim to be no superior being, but in view of what I am trying to do, and the success I am having in getting through to those who are foursquare blocking my paths to sharing it with a willing population, it does strike a chord. For the last 'corporate/departmental/media' comment, simply substitute 'ignored... again' for 'fired', and 'Free ways to deliver tangible, worthwhile financial/environmentally beneficial ROIs to the consuming, taxpaying-public' for 'Linux' and that should about cover it.

Some see grasping commercialism and waste. I see a free gutter guard.

Now, I'd best start by saying it's a pity it's a flyer stuck through my door. No probelm with an ad for a freebie, and I know the logistics are impossible to get around, but hey.

Anyway, tucked down there is a 'twofer' on my kids' summer squash.

But the product is also already on with an idea.

Until the next time...

...there's always us.

I admire what the Indy has done... tried to do. It devoted three straight days to a campaign to cut down on waste. That's a rather dour topic to invest so much headline space on for so long.

And now it is over.

They had, by all accounts (well, theirs. I actually didn't see or read mention of it anywhere else, even the Guardian or any Govt. PR, which is odd, as a Minister came out in support) a huge response.

And that is great. Whether it was just from those already persuaded and acting, who knows?

I hope it has set a precedent, got itself established and will continue. But today it is nowhere to be seen. And while I know certain media are committed, and a lot more than others, I also know commercial realities will take hold. And selling copies appears at the top. And you don't do that with endless pictures of shopping baskets and rubbish tips and local authority ministers in reflective jackets. Jade visits a recycling tip or ship breakers in India... you're golden. So now it is, if at all, on an inner page. And who knows, like fashion fur or the rather oxymoronic ethical travel, it may still warrant coverage if it sells a copy or nets a rating point.

Speaking of which, if I was to cock an eyebrow (and I did), I must say that those who take it upon themselves to throw bricks should ensure that they are at least WoBo's (go on, ask me).

I am always banging on about the deleterious effects of warring camps fighting verbal/written (and often, at least so far, physical protest) wars at the expense of unity in inspiring mass actions.

So, how did this fare? Not too bad, I guess. Some woeful examples were highlighted.

But having not scanned every inch of the pages I have bought the last few days, I don't think the slight double-standard of their own 'product' can have been missed.

Though no free DVD (and what is the plastic in that, if not excess packaging designed to encourage increased purchase?), there was indeed a fair bit of unrequested, unrequired and ultimately disposed off... waste. Ad flyerand a bird thingy. I will keep them as postcards to send... sometime (or donate to the Charity shop as I do all the DVDs), but how many will be so.. disposed.

And I couldn't again note the slight irony of someone trashing (sorry, couldn't resist) others, whilst on the same pages were ads advocating trips, well, just let's say 'not toocarbonifically beneficial, global-warming-wise.'.

Which makes me wonder when the next salvo comes in from the other side to further distract us or keep most ducking for cover 'til it all blows over. Which it won't.


I am guilty. There is a bus service to Gloucester from here. I don't use it. It doesn't go where I need. I doesn't go fast enough. It doesn't go regularly enough.

Some do use it. And need it. And have no alternative.

But it is about to cease. So even if I was challenged to practice what I preach (which, to be fair, I don't in this case, but still do fly the flag for planet-saving and hence will get so tasked), I soon will not be able to do so. Way hey! When next summoned to London I can't get to the station other than by car, so I may as well stick on the A40 and get there quicker (ish), cheaper and a lot more in keeping with my return schedule than the train. No alternative.

It's a dilemma, and I am not sure I have an answer. But to head in a better direction, I'm pretty sure I will face those who make the most aggressive green noises - from Pols to activists - that allowing yet more eco-options is not the best way to get 'us' on board.

Too far?

Just back from walking the kids to school. Gorgeous, if cold.

Which got me to pondering real-life ways to save cost and the planet around the home. As I look out of my study's North window I can see a row of housing opposite. It's interesting to watch the frost disappear in the sunlight. But also depressing to see how many have no frost at all, which means they either didn't know about, didn't care about or couldn't afford (the purchase price) of lagging.

Of all the banks who send my 'We've gone carbon neutral' PR-pap, why could one not simply say: 'Here's an interest free loan to buy lagging - we calculate, at worst, pay back is x months/years, at which point you repay us, plus £1 to go towards the next applicant'. I'd put that on our front page.

It's all a matter of degree, if you excuse the pun.

To watch TV this morning, I entered a very dark room, as we have shutters. I am pretty sure thick curtains would be better eco-wise, but a) they won't fit in the same void and b) I can't afford them (see above).

To switch the thing on (one option: don't), plus the SKY box, I needed some light. And there I stood, at the door, trying to figure out which would be better. Low energy bulb on for a few minutes? Or open a shutter and unleash the cold air?

Probably an green dilemma too far. I may pop it in IT-anic Vs., though. There may be an answer. I'm guessing the former.