Thursday, March 01, 2007

And the losers are...

The truth, any semblance of journalistic skill, er...?

When broadcasting turns bad: Sky / Virgin negotiations left in bloody tatters

I have followed this spat on the various news media these last few days.

What got me was that at no point did a reporter pin either down to what was and was not said. I'm sure that both at one stage were accusing the other of mendacity (no Mr. Arsenal comments from me!).

It might have helped if one was caught in a porkie.

Other wise the only losers are the viewers as a bunch of testosterone gets redirected elsewhere.

Telegraph - Why must I be divorced from The Simpsons?

Space, the final affront?

Hawking to get brief experience of weightlessness on space flight

As an eminent scientist, one can only presume he will be taking his place to further our understanding of the planet and the changes it faces, say, in climate.

If it were just space tourism or a cheap PR gimmick it would be harder to justify as I doubt this thing is powered by rubber bands or even biodiesel.

Telling it like it is

Rail chief's overcrowding solution - don't travel

Actually, he's dead right. At least in the terms above (it gets a bit fudgier in the piece)

Bit of a tough sell though.

And the band played o...

All those scientists may still be wrong

I've just popped over today at a late stage from another debate (prompted by a possible discrepancy between what he says 'we' should do, and does himself... not a predilection exclusive to just him, mind) about Mr. Gore's role as a leader of one set of views.

And again I witness what seems more like a game of shuffleboard... to the death... on the Titanic, with the victor hopefully enjoying a last piece by the band before all go under.

All I know is I'd prefer to be around to see him (and others) proved wrong than right.

But then I guess the devil was always in the details.

It's not just me then

I actually met an advert ‘complainee’

My jaw was on the floor at the 'washing up'.

Laugh and the world laughs with you

I just got an email from a comedian. No... really. Actually that's no, I didn't (it was from his publishers), but yes, really, he's a comedian. His name is Mark Watson.

It was headed:

Letting Junkk-ers know about CATE-ers (and vice versa)

We prefer Junkketeers, but what's not to like already?

And, as promised, I am doing exactly what I said on the bin:

499 people to his cause.

Well, make that a round 500! I 'm in. All I have to do is figure out MySpace. I know we are on it musically, and I think we are on it as I just don't know how to work it yet. Think dinosaur. But I know a lady who can (my lovely missus, who certainly is on it).

Mark's really keen to link up with people who are already Good At The Environment,

Ah, problem. I don't think I am. I'm p*ssing off a lot of good greens by taking them to task.

But I'm sensing there is a movement that's not so 'Prius Pious' and Mark's' is one such.

...and it would be fantastic if you'd consider featuring his campaign on your website and newsletter.

Can and Can. I shall also blog him on my, er, blog, as soon I as I put down this mouse and keyboard.

It would also be a great way of directing people to

Well, there's a plus!

The idea is to create a community of people who work together to come up with creative ways to cut their carbon footprints and live more greenly

Can do. Am trying.

(in a non-expert,



Tick (immodestly)

...unsanctimonious way)


...through a network of online blogs (including to more seasoned campaigners who are Good At The Environment),

See above.

...comedy gigs, marathon live shows,

I'll leave that to him. But may visit. I could make a flag to wave. Out of Junkk:)

If he ever needs musical input my lovely lady sings with a band called greenhaus, who do nice mellow, angry protest stuff to chill to.

...real world challenges,

Just so long as it is not flying to the Arctic to study why the glaciers are melting because so many people are going there with film crews to study why thy are melting... etc.

...and eventually a book.

Did you know I write too? Just saying's all...

In contrast to the greener-than-thou eco-warriors who have enough time, money and dedication to devote their lives to living sustainably in the country,

That'll teach me to reply as I read. I'm guessing you are on board with my mantra above, then?

Mark is on a mission to get well-meaning but apathetic

Don't forget poorly informed, woefully motivated and disastrously incentivised...

...urban dwellers to stop being terrified about climate change, and to put their heads together to help change things.

My record, while cracked, speaks for itself.

Cunning plans so far include art installations using rubbish,

We can help. We do cunning like a fox does anti-hunt protests.

...a large-scale musical endeavour involving instruments made from trash;

Well, the band does use electronica, which is a bit of a deal breaker. But we can help with this too. We know people who make noises from Junkk.

...a peaceful campaign to get specific celebrities to give up their private jets, by asking them in ingenious way;

I blogged a while ago about how funny it would be to get a load of Land Rover workers to chain themselves to a Greenpeace flight.

...a massive cycling effort powering an entire show;

Oh... in with a chance:)

...'pimping' the allotments of a whole town in the North of England;

As opposed to knocking them down to feed the Olympic maw. We know a lot of allotment people too.

...and a lot more besides

Might even know some stuff to help here.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to check out his blog.

I did. I like. I can't... yet... work it. Patience Grasshopper.

Mark's won the 2006 Eddies Award (formerly the Perrier award) for his cult Edinburgh festival shows, is a regular on BBC2's Mock The Week, currently has two TV sitcoms in pilot, has a written a couple of literary novels, and his series 'Mark Watson makes the world a substantially better place' (are you sensing a Messiah theme yet?) is currently being aired on Radio 4. Basically, he's a very funny and talented guy,

I'm sensing that.'s a really important issue and it would be fantastic to let lots of people (who are not, perhaps, MySpace addicts) know about CATE.

My best is being done as we speak.*

Your website seems a really great fit.


Anyway, let me know what you think,

Kinda have. See above. And being reaaaaallly, lazy and strapped for time, this is what will go in my blog, now, Feb's (don't ask) Newsletter er... soon and the site, somewhere appropriate in several places asap, but to do this you need to help me by filling out of free diRE:ctory pages.

Say hi to Mark and a big up on the effort.

*I just wish I had his people!

ADDENDUM - you know what's a nice start to the day? When folk write back. In this case, the man himself:

[That was] the lady in charge of promoting the whole thing from the publishers' angle.

See, you are ahead of the game. You have people. I need people. Then my people and your people could kick us into shape.

I think she'll probably be very happy that you mentioned the whole odd exchange on your blog.

Good. I was just concerned that she'd disappeared into the ether after a very nice email. But now we are in touch, too, which is a bonus.

I will mention it on my site, in turn.

Ta muchly.

Sorry you had to read a lot of propaganda about my career.

No worries. It was interesting, edifying and inspiring. Probably in that order.

Basically, it looks like we have the same aims,


except you were there a lot sooner.

But somewhat of a slower-burner, PR-wise. Plus you have people. I am green... with envy. Too.

So perhaps we can join forces in some way.

As so much in the world of planet-saving is downright divide and rule (sadly mostly EcoElites - vs. our EcoLites (I can muck about with acronyms and spiffy new words with the best of 'em!) - dickin' about arguing/slagging each other off as to who is greener rather than getting on and DOING) I see this as a plan, and hence am up for it.

That's probably all she was suggesting. But in publisher-talk.

Ah, Bisto. Well, the offers all stand. Maybe I need a Babel fish to convey my enthusiasm publisherspeekly back. I'll repeat it, in tangentially-prone creative speek mano-a-mano here. I will trawl your site and MySpace a bit more when I get a mo.

You can go on my site wherever you please. A diRE:ctory invite is attached below.

You will be in our February newsletter, which is now due next month (don't ask). I know the power of celebrity. If not how to meet deadlines.

I have an events page, too. And will pop your tour on... soonish (it's that people thing again)

I can offer a lot more from self and others (my people, if not my 'people') to assist yours with various efforts if required. Music, junkk bands, allotment warriors. Mention us to yours next time you are chatting and I'll put 'em in touch with mine. Then they can do all the work and we'll just turn up on the day for the good seats and glory.

And... er... that's babadababa... all folks! At least for this exciting episode.

Look forward to our many paths crossing one day.

Shooting the Messenger #101

More on Gore

There a very good, US-based, free eco-newsletter called GRIST. I like what they are doing. I like their style. Usually.

'You are bang on. The best way to handle attacks is with good nature. And the best way to promote good nature is with humour (there’s not enough ‘u’ in humour, for the benefit of some of our US friends... evidently).

However, I would suggest that on its own this is not enough. You also have to listen (not in the way our government here does, which is without hearing, so as to keep on doing what they would anyway), engage and communicate. Or at least make the effort. Which means getting inside various heads you may not wish to (which now makes me realise why my government doesn’t hear: there’s nothing to stop anything that goes in one ear go straight through and out the other!).

And that means dealing in facts. Not just the facts of the matter, but also the facts of how matters get reported these days.

Even in the old days, which I still hanker after, this held true. I recall a Rolling Stone ad campaign... Perception: Reality. There’s what is. There is what should be. There is how what is should be reported and is. And there is appreciating that fact.

We are in a hype-driven, celebrity-obsessed culture. There is a vast industry feeding off it, with a serious interest in keeping a lot of folk employed and paid very well on the incoming, ongoing and departing antics of those selected or who volunteer to be the icons. Hence you can carve some serious column inches, readership, broadcast minutes and ratings with the ‘problem’. Then you can keep it bubbling in the same way for a while with ‘awareness’, usually surrounding the icon, and then when it gets a bit tired you can feed off the decaying bits by turning the icon info a fallen idol.

Which is why I get a bit concerned by the various icons the common man, woman and child often get presented with. Here in the UK our very own PM is shaping up as a ‘Green Ambassador’, but only once a few things that are a ‘bit impractical’ to his personal social life and professional career have been established as ‘not applicable’. Mr. Gore is different. When it comes to the environment he has form, and it is long-standing and mostly good.

However, we are living in the today of the media spotlight, with all those (purely personally opinionated) factors ranged at a public figure, ready to boost and then burst at will.

Look at this very blog and posts. What has happened? What are the %ages ‘pro’ & ‘con’? And this is a specialist eco-publication! I don’t know about rearranging deckchairs, but it reads more like shuffleboard to the death before the thing sinks. What on earth is a semi-informed, give-a-hoot populist press and TV news industry going to make of it all (from my reading the ‘tabloids’ here they could have cared less, and the ‘qualities’ such as the Times. Telegraph and even greener, more liberal, papers like the Indy and Guardian went pretty much with the ‘bubble prick’ side, I’m afraid. As did the BBC)?

That is an inconvenient fact of life. No point railing against it. It’s here to stay. And will get worse. So to manage it you have to play the system with skill. Which means everything from the selection of your candidate to working with the media by their rules... and be purer than the driven snow. Circling the wagons and retreating inside a comfort zone of like-minded huggers may offer respite, but won’t deal with the real, harsh world. You need to get out and deal. But you need to be consistent. ‘Hypocrisy’ is a very sticky brush to get tarred with, and difficult to remove. Worse even than doing wrong, so long as you do not commit the heinous crime of changing your mind, as our Leader of the Opposition will find should he come down hard on drug use having been given free pass for indulging while young, silly and very rich.

Speaking of which, while no fault of the individual, and no valid reason to not have an opinion or wish to express it, rolling in it does carry certain problems when telling, or even suggesting how other folk should, or need to behave. As does celebrity, which these days does tend to equate to rich, no matter how gobsmackingly unworthy it may be.

Because there is a slight tendency for a bit of a ‘them’ and ‘us’ thing getting set up from the get-go; more than happily exploited by those who can feed off the tensions created.

To save the future, we are realistically looking at some ‘doing without’, which does not quite gel with global population expansion, economic growth, greater (ie: powered) efficiencies, etc, but there you go.

And to paraphrase another intense farm book wildly, ‘Some can do without more easily than others’. It’s all relative. For every downshifting Pious Prius Person living a posh urban lifestyle, there is a Fairly-concerned Fiesta (it’s a small Brit Ford) Family who may not mind a bit of upward mobility and find it a bit rich that, while flying private jets is OK to spread the word about not flying is necessary for some, it’s not any more for their two week bit of sun a year.

You lead... by example. And hence you need to ask whether the EnviROI (Environmental Return On Investment) is worth the ‘awareness’ of the ‘problem’ vs. the sense of discord sown.

We are starting to get more and more celeb ‘green’ stories and events, and it is striking how the media who get invited into the inner circle (I almost fell off my chair laughing at one gushing report from the backstage VIP ‘Green room’, which had to be cordoned off from the hoi polloi who wanted to see their idols scoff eco-canapés and bubbly) are quite happy to be part of this elite new ‘club’. While a few, either without an invite or with a few remnants of journalistic integrity, do wonder how a PR from a non P-on going from a Hummer to a Lexus Hybrid 4x4 a) warrants a story, b) is in any way making a sacrifice or c) helps the planet, lugging a big battery down the motorway.

So it is perhaps reasonable to expect our ‘green’ ‘leadership’, self-appointed, thrust upon us or, fingers crossed, worthy, to at least try to do what they say we should do.

I don’t really think Gandhi would have quite got where he did with his cause if he decked a few folk who got in his way and then justified it because he was carrying an important message on non-violence, so you just gosh-darn well cut him some slack... or else. Equally any of his entourage. And I do believe if he, they or indeed any supportive entity had tried to argue otherwise they would have got short shrift. Too much flailing about and saying ‘look who’s talking’ just comes across as a tad holier than thou, and not a little defensive and indoctrinated.

So, in such a case, are questions on the validity of the messenger’s effectiveness in bearing this message ‘an attack’?

Looking at the originators (speaking of tarring with broad brushes what is a right wing vs. a left wing think tank anyway?) of the piece, it is probably meant to be so. And I am grateful for a level of back story insight from this and other blogs to have a better idea of the facts. Plus a very reasonable, and unexploited (even here, beyond the original poster, though some have posed questions I hope will see answers to clarify doubt) explanation of high usage to supply a home office (as is mine, hence running the house utilities 24/7) and a staff, though I might need security at some stage for having doubts others would seem to wish to deny me on some issues.

Because some remain, and it really doesn’t matter to me who started what or said what once the debate is engaged if certain facts are established. And beyond the energy usage one that will never change is the media. Was this managed well? About as well as the UK government handled road pricing, I’d say. A sensible notion for future transportation now an electoral albatross to any who dare mention it, even in more considered terms.

I too favour personal responsibility for actions, and by my lifestyle would estimate my family will do quite well from most initiatives.

However I still have a lot of doubts as to who gets to decide (there are also a few Kalahari bushmen may wonder why they don’t get to trade a holiday to Aspen with a broker from Brooklyn flying overhead to sort out some carbon credits between those who have them to trade), as an ex-engineer who dealt in numbers and efficiencies, and a current ad man and green-lite writer who understands short-term politics, corporate activist priorities and corporate PR/CSR greenwashing only to well.

I know it won’t... can’t be 100%, but I don’t want to see any efforts in the name of green on behalf of my future generations carved up between government, NGO and financial trading empire builders’ departments, staff, pensions, comms budgets, fact-finding tours, climate change conferences in nice sunny places. Or subsidising celebs and their massive support systems and sycophantic media camp followers, to have nice parties to boost ‘awareness’ of how much they need to do this so we can’t .

Do what you do best. Live the life. Share it online. Do before you talk. And if it’s worth it, fun and inspiring, people will want to read about what you do.

They may even follow your example.'

New Consumer - Al Gore & Diaz: ‘Live Earth climate crisis gigs will reach 2 billion