Monday, February 12, 2007

Dave won't be happy

I mean Dave the poster on this blog, not Miliband, or Cameron, etc (though they might be a smidge miffed, too)

I wouldn't have even bothered with this, but he is former editor of New Scientist:

An experiment that hints we are wrong on climate change

'I am prepared to listen to all sides of an argument before trying to come to a decision, but I have to say I am swayed not only by numbers in documents, but the numbers of qualified persons producing them. It's looking about 2000 to 2 so far (I exagerate, or what we science types call 'choosing the numbers we like to prove our case', for effect). And when I see the words 'in our forthcoming book' I'm guessing I have to fork out to get this side in itsentirety, which further clouds my view.

Which is frustrating, because I am always up for balance.

I have to agree with any poster (post moderation) who advocates erring on the side of caution, as opposed to a rather Medieval method that seems to work on the basis of 'Ok, you were right, we are both toast. But I had a blast these last ten years'.

I also am more prone to pay attention and support anyone who comes up with rational, positive solutions that work within today's framework, rather than launching yet more intellectual artillery exchanges on how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin, while the clock ticks down.

But I agree, flushing gazillions down some unproven solutions to unspecified problems and an unknown EnviROI is not the way to go either.'

The bride wore green

Here comes the eco-friendly bride

Let no one be accused of jumping on a topical bandwagon.

'...the Bishop of London, has signed a pledge not to take any flights
this year'

This year!? Bless.

Times - The Eco Bride

Nanny will sing to you now

Remember 'Legs Akimbo', the brilliant comic invention and satirical skewer by the League of Gentlemen? A hopeless, internally-riven crowd of PC-trendies tasked with inspiring 'yoof', with whom they have not one jot of cred. I wonder if they decided on 'rap' 'cos it rhymes with WARP.


My twins would have laughed themselves silly if they didn't click over immediately to Runescape. Now there's an idea... work reuse and recycling into online role-playing. Any developers feel like a Junkk-world?

Er.. whatever.

They're not the only ones

I wish I had a sub for the FT.

I saw this:

NATIONAL NEWS: Start-up TV a switch-off for venture capitalists
...for a fourth series, its popular Dragon's Den reality format, in which wannabe...Tycoon, starring Peter Jones, a Dragon's Den judge.Production companies are...portrayed in these programmes."Dragon's Den belittles what it takes to be a...
Feb 12 2007, By Emiko Terazono, Financial Times

Having been through the wringer, I can say it's not that much of a turn-on for genuine entrepreneurs with good ideas, either!

I wrote, and the writer wrote backto see what I had to say:

I was sent the intro to your piece and dashed out to buy a copy of the paper, but maybe it was published another day.

However, even the small section I read struck a chord in one who has stood and still stands at the other side of the entrepreneur: business angel/VC relationship. With the dubious added extra benefit of being involved with such reality TV shows as well.

There's a lot of talk in high places these days about encouraging enterprise, especially the social variety.

As with anything, having a great idea is the easy part. Putting together a business plan that makes sense, and a team to execute it just notches up the grief factor to a whole new level. But once you get to funding....

Which is why a lot of people are seduced by such shows. With the added attraction of potential publicity, which any product or service can only gain from having, especially to a nationwide audience, for no more investment than some time, small change and some humiliation.

I thought I was smart, but perhaps I was too smart. I had no intention of some clown getting half my company for the price of their lunch tab at the Ivy, especially when I had no idea what the deal would be before deciding on the spot, and with no idea of their level of commitment. I just wanted profile. Sadly, they saw me coming a mile off. And now I realise my cunning plan would still be on the edit room floor.

So what we have is an endless supply of hapless, televisual 'Christians' being fed into... the Dragon's Den.

Great for ratings. Horrible for enterprise. Most with halfway decent ideas now wouldn't go near such shows (at the British Invention Show we were running away from their reps), and are tarring serious, sensible, decent investors with a very negative brush. And as far as the youth of the country is concerned, being a good businessperson now merely requires one being like Simon Cowell, only without the charm and the interesting lifestyle.

It's a disaster for getting together the key, complementary components that make up a great team to push something into the market and turn a profit.

If I had one critique from my experience of the more reasonable varieties of VC/funder, it is that they still expect things to be laid out for them in a manner they can recognise. Understandable, but there are a lot of creative people out there who are not that savvy with or temperamentally attuned to P&Ls, spreadsheets, forecasts etc. Or suits. It's a shame therefore that there is not more effort to establish a proactive and productive interface between these two disparate character traits, to facilitate the path to mutual reward.

There is more to life than just making money and showing how 'hard' you can be. And in my business experience, it's the guys who are very smart, and very nice as well, who really make things happen.

'A great person (ok, I'm PC-sensitive) makes others feel small. A truly great person makes others feel great'.

I'd rather work with the latter, as I know that if they make me feel great, together we'll make others feel great, and that is a quick route to success... and staying at the top.

I attach here a URL to just one thread of a posting to a show you may or may not have heard of - SKY's The Big Idea - where the subject of DD came up. You may be interested. I just looked and there is a brand new posting about DD. Not very encouraging.

Nice to see the BBC taking our future seriously

Online petitions...

Can't say I'm to impressed with this way of making a point:

'Reflect, yes. But anything online must be viewed with caution. I have 20 email addresses to play with. I don't know how effective the checking system would be should I decide to play with them all. But that's true of a paper petition.

It's certainly something that should be paid attention to, and not fudged and spun the way I have been seeing and hearing today.

I think we may need something like road pricing to handle traffic and environmental issues. But I don't trust this mob one jot to do it either effectively, efficiently, or even honestly. So trying to stuff things through with no idea where money was going to is what I was objecting to. That's not how some talking ministerial head was trying to weasel it around.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. They have opened a Pandora's box and I don't know how they will dig themselves out. Leave it open and gawd knows what will happen. Close it down and the conspiracy buffs will be in clover. If there is a bandwagon to be jumped on it will be.

I don't think your 'poll' is smart of helpful. As a follower of the majority Jedi Knight faith at the last census that may seem hypocritical, but you are a major national broadcaster either trying to force a point or simply drum up ratings. We know the result you're after.

I hope you don't mess up an exercise in democracy others could gain from using.

After seeing what other media were up to, pitting sides against each other using this facility, I decided to give it a go myself, with a slightly more positive outcome in mind:

We petition the prime minster to enable the creation of a ‘Carbon Legacy’, as a direct, future generation-benefiting substitute for Inheritance Tax

IHT debate boils down into 2 main areas. Individuals get frustrated seeing a major % of savings go not to securing descendant’s futures, but to fund much that is... wasteful. To Govt IHT is an historical plum to good to be denied, justified by wealth being redistributed ‘for the common good’. Climate change is accepted by all as the most serious issue we face, Carbon Legacy is a fruitful compromise between entrenched positions, which remain deadlocked. A no middleman bequest, down to the IHT limit, donated to any initiative that is proven to be tangibly DOING something to improve matters on a measurable e-ROI, free from all but the most crucial instruments of management/oversight. No ‘redirection’! Funds straight to where most needed, to do the most good for the future. Some devils in the detail, but doable with consensus. In so doing it must surely satisfy both the needs and aspirations of all sides.

Keeping control of how we think and what we feed back seems mighty threatening to those used to being in control.

Let's see how long this all lasts.'

Surprise, surprise. Email to Newsnight Editor:

By all accounts your site has crashed again, as has Number 10's.

If you ask people what they think, and then put obstacles in the way of being heard equally, it can lead them to wonder what agendas are at play.

I have never felt more serious than about this issue, and want my petition heard.

Please do not mess it up with games.

You can be too smart for our own good

Read this before deleting...

Ok. I have.

And I'd love to harness just a fraction of the energy devoted to having
spats with, or reporting the ones between climate deniers and the
various other interest groups ranged profitably (in terms of careers and
funding) against 'them'. And if they did not exist they would have to be
invented just to keep a cosy little industry of contention going.

Why bother with such tripe? And who cares who anyone is funded by?

Look at the facts. It matters little whether climate change is caused by
man or nature. It is happening to a degree that it makes sense to
address... NOW!

Let us devote ourselves to sensible solutions that with produce practical
ROIs across the various criteria necessary, primarily the environmental

Hit delete on the wastes of time, and let's find the ones that will make
a positive difference, then devote ourselves to sharing them in a way
to inspire the majority of the population, not get just to score a point and
a nod from a very small peer group who are already on board.

Gulliver's Hassles

Brian May has always reminded me of Gulliver, at least physically, and now it seems he is not above some Lilliputian nibbling by a 'social affairs corespondent': Don’t start him now: Queen’s star pens a mean rock blog

'Sounds like an interesting blog from an interesting man.

At his level most get shaped to snoredome by handlers and PRs.

It's nice to get a feel for the actual guy and his ups and downs.

So it's a shame to see edited highlights applied to make a human being's life look only petty and frustrated.

Though not in the same league, I was advised by my PRs to tone down some opinions I had/have about business, govt departments, NGOs and even (moderated) media as I may need to engage with them to help my environmental Junkk site; but sod it, life's too short. We need to get back to saying what we think, do what's right and not what looks good to make the world a better place. There are too many butt-protectors doing d-squat out there.

The blog URL is not given but I will try and find it.

Sounds like a guy who is on a roll. And not afraid to call a rock an obstacle if it is.'

ADDENDUM: I was right, it was a hatchet job. Nice guy. Nice blog. I'll pop back every so often. Here's the URL. It's only polite.

What was one thinking?

Charles: let’s kill off the cul-de-sac

Open one's mouth (or have it opened for one).
Do not engage brain (well, that one's sorted then).
Issue Forth.
Stand back and get amazed at one's subjects' responses.

Does he really say these things? Or are they issued by his coterie of spinmeisters, all of whom seem to be a tad 'out of touch'.

We live on a main road. Our kids don't go out to play because it is too dangerous. Hence they play in the garden we are lucky enough to have, or get conveyed to their mates from school by car, repeat after me, because cycling at their age is...'.

I would live to live in a cul-de sac, as those that do seem to have thriving communities based on not being too worried about cars zooming past in the town areas as all the Gatsos are on a dual carriageway outside.

Just say Nero

New plan revealed for flight-path Britain

'Labour wants to cut CO2 emissions but it is also pursuing a dramatic expansion of Britain’s airways. Can the circle be squared?'

You'd think not, wouldn't you?

But as this government's approach to ROI's on any basis, especially an environmental one, is, shall we say, 'creative'. Let's just fiddle for the next 10 years as the (potential) flames get fanned. I guess it's only when we're toast we'll know who was right all a long, if that's any comfort.

I guess Mr. Blair is paving the way for all the private jets bringing his mate Al's Global Cool performers.

When did leading by example get so discredited, yet those who would take it upon themselves to shoulder the mantle of leadership become so blind as to the consequences of their actions versus their deeds?

Belief is beggared... again

MPs lose fight to keep their travel expenses secret

My main concern is who are the MPs who want to be exempted from the FoI act

Telegraph - MPs claim £5m travel expenses
BBC - READ THIS!!!!!!- MPs reveal travel expense claims
Times - I popped in a comment here. Where I come from claiming more than you use is fraud - MPs’ claims of £5m in travel expenses show big variations
Indy - Is Norman Baker the most hated man in Westminster? - Who cares? Nice one Norm!
Telegraph - It still gets dark early
And a big up to Mr. Baker! Only MP to write back to me helpfully about my eco-website.
I don't think he actually published the details. He just campaigned for 'us' to see them. Despite what was apparently a spirited campaign by some (to we ever get to find out who) to not find out who may be defrauding their employers (that would be 'us', again)
Thing is, all and sundry seem to be saying they are wrong, so please just forget about them. I do hope the 24-hr headline world of modern media is not so forgiving. I won't be.
Telegraph - The true cost of the great expenses fiddle is ruination
Well, golly.
At least we can rely on those at the top to set a better example.
Say.... some MPs and their travel claims.

BA Humbug

That 'BA' stands for Blogger's Anonymous.

For I think I need to join.

It's midday, and I have only just finished reading and writing my own. And I started at 6am.

So much to do; so little time.

But what to purge? And which nuggets will I miss.

Oh, the humanity.

Vote, er, choose, er, select to suit your agenda... me!

O alwasy wonder how a typical cross-section of naything is set up (good phrase by our media).

Let's see what happens: Be on our Breakfast Panel

My answers to:

What can we do better?
Within the confines of the schedule, more substance. Much better analysis required. You are still journalists, not just purveyors of PR.

What would you like to see more of?
You are covering the environment, but not very well. This morning's effort was an example, just a week and a bit after IPCC. More needs to be done to inspire the public to act because they want to, not from guilt, fear or threat. There are ways to do this, and other people to trot out to rehash tired mantras from the 'who cares' to green elite/hair shirt brigades.


Untangling the global warming paradox

What a great post by ScepticOptimist. I shall be happy to point at it in my blog.

To try and add something, or at least another take on this, I find these cerebral debates interesting, though worrying, as they do seem to be creating distracting delays that are (may be) hard to justify.

I am not an economist. Or a business leader. Or a politician. Or a professional journalist. But I do rather suspect that if (!) we keep on going the way we are (may) be, and don't pop in some corrections PDQ, then there won't be much by way of sophisticated economies to mull over, consumers to sell to, voters to persuade or indeed readers to pay the salary.

The planet has a finite area. There are wet bits and dry bits. We stand on the dry bits and survive off the bounty of the bits we are not standing on. As we as a race are expanding, I foresee a slight problem coming by simple maths. This problem is made a lot worse by some other activities we engage in as we go beyond the basics (eating, drinking, etc), and may even be hyperbolic.

So I am more than a little concerned as to how we are at present doing anything practical to recognise, much less act to slow, stop or even reverse the desire to breed, earn money and find more and more ways to spend on what you don't really need, especially on travel.

But I really think it's worth trying... about now.

Something to chew on

I guess I'm a critic. Hence this piqued my interest: Irish News suffers from disgraceful libel loss

"defamatory, damaging and hurtful".

"Juries do not like the press,"

I clicked the links but could not find any further info, so may I ask a few questions here.

It is indeed hard to imagine a critique that, if negative, could not at least err on the damaging. Hurtful seems harder to prove. Defamatory looks more promising legally, based on evidence.

Now I appreciate that the legal process and justice can be inconvenienced by the sometimes erratic nature of '12 good persons and true', but I'm not sure that 'not liking the press' would be allowed.

I just wonder on what basis the jury found in favour of what seems to be a legal, if not very legitimate charge? Was the food too whatever. Were the venue and the staff as described? If not, and this was proven, then we have another story. If so, one can only wonder at the quality of the defence.

Follow me! I know where I've been!

Blair has fixed on his legacy plan: Tony saves the world

As an ad man who has decided to try and rectify a life making people by or use stuff they didn't really have to, pointing at someone's past record is a bit rich. But we're looking at soemthing a bit more here than David Cameron's schoolboy recreational habits. This is a world he has 'benfitted' hugely from messing up. I feel disicnlined to let him grab the highground in trying to save it. Others may be better equipped and certainly more worthy.

"I'll take whatever works, however unpalatable.

So if Mr. Blair's new found conversion is sincere and likely to be effective then why not. But....

I have just read the replies to this blog so far.

And I am still mulling over a BBC Breakfast spot this morning .

Assuming the Mirror (on a sample of one) to be more a reflection of the majority, non-green-elite views, example, credibility and incentive are key to motivating the necessary masses.

I don't think Mr. Blair and his well connected exclusive brigades are the ones to do it, at least in the populist sense. Shutting up and working behind the scenes on a no-spin, no hype and no publicity basis with the movers and shakers may be another matter. What are the odds?"

'Hmnn, we'll leave it there'

Just watched the almost obligatory daily BBC breakfast eco-slot, this time on how hard it is to be green.

Usual plot. Usual suspects (Lucy Siegel from the Observer and Sue Carroll from the Mirror). Here's my email:

''Great, a quick green-slot with an Observer pro-eco and a Tabloid 'who cares' by way of debate.
Actually Sue did have some good points, as did Lucy.
But what was the actual result for us to act on in anything other than a nanny-state, guilty way? 'Hmmn, we'll leave it there.'

ps: For Mr-Mid, there is another choice for his cereal boxes that is higher on the re-hierarchy than recycling, Re:use:

My office filing system is free and expands daily."

The core of the piece was a study that showed there are 3 green shades: Lite, Mid & Dark.

The Dark was that Irish guy Don-something Mac-something who actually came across less didactic than I have experienced before. He was singing the praises of his free electricity. I did note his turbine was a pigeon perch, and somehow they had manged a sunny day. But the rest of his stuff was quite inspirational.

What was not was the main conclusions. Going green is stressful.

And here's a major innovation: more will go with it if it's made easier and cheaper. Now, what initiative can help with that. Well... D'uh.

What's the odds of getting a plug on the BBC?

'Hmnn, we'll leave it there'

I decided to write:

Dear Ms. Carroll,

I am quite a committed environmentalist, so I was most interested, if not surprised, but still disappointed with the BBC Breakfast TV piece you took part in.

Don’t worry, this is not going to be an eco-tirade: I pretty much agreed with all you said, or at least your reason for feeling the way you do to say it.

Yes, it is to be green, in many ways. But, depending on your acceptance or not of certain predictions we may need to think hard about embracing many of them.

But they are being sold appallingly. Hypocritical government, corporate-style e-activists and green elite media jollying around the world to climate conferences to tell the rest of the population they can’t fly. Or domestic initiatives under a green banner with no substance, no hint of where money may actually go, and hence zero trust or public support. Heck, I almost feel like getting a 4x4 and booking RyanAir myself!

It’s no surprise, with the only thing grabbing headlines being endless guilt trips or ‘may as well give up and by a Humvee to get to the Apocalypse quicker and in style’ vs. ‘Share an eco-lodge in Mauritius’ commentators trying to knock spots off each other as to who is better informed.

Such Prius persons are nothing to do with Mondeo Man. They don’t understand the things that matter, and impinge on most normal, average working folk who need to get to work, need to get the kids to a party at the weekend and get two weeks holiday... so slow travel at only £10k isn’t really an option. But they do care.

Going green is only stressful because a load of folk with a vested interest in playing it that way have captured the high, or at least broadcast ground. And offer little but talk.

But there are practical, proactive initiatives out there that are not costing the taxpayer a fortune (or anything), are not designed to meet targets as opposed to actual environmental ROIs, and can be inspirational. A few even have the odd notion that you can have fun and be re:warded whilst saving the future.

And I’m hoping your readers may appreciate hearing about more solutions like these.

Some of us just have more access than others

As I'm pondering democracy, I happened across this from Bad Science: The Price Is Wrong

I was going to post my thoughts, but one thing I have noticed is that these guys are very highbrow and while not rude, rather dismissive of those not within the halls of academe. A shame, as I think a lot more could be achieved by engaging with interested ams like me. So I'll keep it here.

The thread is in fact about academic journals, and the charging policies vs. free access that applies.

I was going to pitch in and add that it can be a similar situation with the environment. Not just with information, but also conferences, etc.

Some of the costs to know and share stuff can be prohibitive if you are not a major commercial or funded GO3, which creates a gap between those who can afford to be 'in', and those who may have a lot to contribute and are priced 'out'. So policy can often go in directions that is not reflected by the views and contribution of a truly representative whole.

I'm glad I got my petition in now

When I did, the site announced that there had already been 1,000, so I see a log jam on the horizon, if not already. It's all about access, and while this looked/s like a great idea in theory, I do wonder how long it is before there is a selection process, which in turn will get hijacked that know how and/or know how to get paid to play the system.

Anyway, here's the next one: No 10 site faces fresh petition

This one is about rubbish taxes, which I have blogged upon already. Frankly the similarities between this and the road pricing one are striking.

It is to be hoped the results will be given worthy consideration by our elected leaders.

Indy: Critics seize No 10's petitions website to slate Government

Speaking of trust in stated aims vs. suspicions of income generation:

Telegraph - Speed cameras fail to halt a rise in fatalities on the roads

Telegraph - Democracy will never be the same again

Telegraph - No 10 site faces fresh petition

The trouble with democracy

It's the best system there is, but can be abused: 1 in 3 homes dependent on state benefits

Summed up perfectly here: 'New Labour welfare policy has been designed to "create beholden voters rather than independent people".'

If there is no financial consequence (other than the chance of losing a hand out - or job, in the case of a bloated civil service and NGOs packed with staff - by not opting in a certain direction) to one's vote, its direction will inevitably go where the most favourable option lies.