Friday, March 23, 2007

The Tooth Hurts

Re-cycle of Life

Though you are too polite to mention it here, I am not and will add that the irony of your dental dilemma is all the more painful in the knowledge that via his salary and, possibly, ministerial perks, we the taxpayers funded Mr. Brown's private cosmetic visit to let him sell his visions to us more palatably.

Colour him bad.

How red is Brown?

As we are working our way through the rainbow, I had initially thought that my feelings on Mr. Brown's conversion from Red to Green had been analysed for what it was already, but it seems it was to depths I would not wish to fathom.

For those perhaps more interested in the environmental aspects of this newer, kinder, gentler, more treehugging Green pol, may I invite you here

At least he seems keener on recycling than I thought.


FOR sale: 5,000-odd mannequins, no heads or legs. All serious offers considered. Please contact Simon Wolfson, Next Plc, Leicester. Next is chucking out the old and bringing in the new. In an attempt to reverse falling like-for-like sales we are promised new ranges, new stores, a new logo, new adverts and even trendy new carrier bags. Not forgetting of course 5,900 new mannequins.

I'm guessing that this is one company not likely to be trumpeting the CSR greenwashing efforts this fiscal then?

If they can't sell them, we could still help find a home - JunkkYard.

It's not what you know. It's how the media sk... screws it

I maintain a watching brief on the Sky Big Idea website. There are still some who use it, and they are on the whole a nice, talented, well-informed bunch. They also have little love for TV reality shows, and Dragon's Den in particular.

So let's see if and where this goes...

I just watched BBC Breakfast TV where, for the first time in the history, all the Dragons in the BBC show's Den had unanimously backed... a standby plug.

I was just wondering how this differed from Karl's show winner back in November?

They had the lady Dragon on to show how serious and professional they were, but when the subject of patent protection came up it seemed to veer from vague to simply not answering the key question of whether this idea was protected, and to what level, if at all.

I also noted that the inventors have signed over 50% of their concept to a collection of ego-driven, competitive money-folk. An interesting recipe.

How this one pans out I will await with interest.

But in wishing these guys and the planet well, why to I get the feeling the only real winners, if any, will be the TV show ratings and its 'stars' profiles.

ADDENDUM: The inventor, Karl, has replied, I'd say in remarkably placid terms. I felt less conciliatory process.

Miffed?! I'd be livid!

The TV stations, from 'entertainment' shows like DD & TBI, but also news, must bear some responsibility for the state of genuine invention and product development here.

For the sake of their own odd agendas in the case of the former, and the cause of co-promotion (in the case of the BBC with the latter), pure bad practice and sloppy reporting is letting genuine stories about potentially significant developments get sidelined (or worse, in your case, barred for no better reason than it has been 'seen' before).

This not only does not serve the interests of contributors like you, but is also not helping viewers gain access to the best information to the options out there.

Thanks to the Sunday Times I am looking at 'the next big thing' in this arena - the Bye Bye Plug - which is apparently going to help me go green and save money.

Maybe it will... I don't know. But I have bought all that I have seen advertised and am/will be testing them to try and produce an objective report. Let me know when yours is ready.

I'm fed up with editors and PR people controlling the access to objective information that I need to lead a greener lifestyle, as opposed to genuine, fact-based investigative reporting.

This is a country in the thrall of 'talk' hype and spin, when more than ever we need to reward 'walking the walk' substance.

If you want to do it right...

Yesterday I went to the Homebuilding & Renovating Show at the NEC... as invited press! Wooooo.

Pretty worth it. My main port of call was the Eco Homes section, which amounted to about a hundred booths.

Unsurprisingly, many were the same as last year. And I was reminded how many of them did not take me up on an offer of free publicity via our diRE:ctory, on site reviews and newsletter mentions since then. The offer still stands, but I am buggered if I am spending any more time chasing folk to offer them a chance at selling their stuff for free.

I was also struck how broad the definition of 'eco' can be. I guess it's fair enough, but I sailed past an awful lot of stands pushing bazzillion £ oak beamed houses. Not my bag.

What was worth it was stopping at the B&Q stand, which was hosting wind turbines from Windsave. Now, I have been dubious to date about some aspects of micro-generation, especially home wind turbines, and had a lot of questions.

Many of these were answered by their sales manager Anya, but she was very keen that more were addressed by technical experts, as one of their frustrations has been the way some media have not understood, or wanted to understand that there are many complex issues at play here.

I am therefore hoping they will take me up on my invitation to come and survey my home for suitability, and provide fair estimates of the ROI's (financial and enviROI) as to how worth it to us it will be. Not only that, we are planning to use a few other homes in Ross as examples to see how things change in even a small area, depending on local conditions.

The rest of the show... well, OK. But hardly worth the shoe leather. What was a surprise was a few other eco outfits had decided not to be in the 'zone'. Not sure that was a good idea. Apparently the majority of the visitors to the show came first and foremost for the eco section, and as it is a big show, one may miss other areas if time is tight.

One such was nuaire, who were showing a technology that was a bit different from the horde of other solar guys, and which caught my attention. Basically an air driven system, not dissimilar I believe to that of our Solarventi dehumidifier here at Junkk Towers. I look forward to sussing out its merits.

I also had a interesting chat with the technical sales manager of lighting specialists Snaplite, who had a lot of great information on what is real and what is bogus in low energy lighting. My report on this area is looking more and more like it will be a worthy journey.

Then I passed by FiberTech, which has a great UV cured patch for exterior plastics repair called 'Rapid Repair'. I have a sample and now need to find a broken gutter to test it on. Will report back.

And finally REHAU. I mention them because they not only have a load of fingers in even more eco-pies, but also they are based in... Ross-on-Wye. And that appeals to me in more ways than you can imagine. I just love the notion of having a core of technical experts literally right next door to bounce stuff off with.

There may be more to come. I have a stack of guff a foot high to wade through. And will likely enjoy every minute.

The Won't Budg... et

Wednesday, 21 March, 2007

Yesterday I was listening to the Jeremy Vine show Budget follow-up... and the 'performances' I heard, from both sides of the table, had me wishing for Jeremy Paxman to be in the chair.

Though, to be fair to Mr. Vine, much can be laid at the door of the facile demands of soundbite media, where interviewers get constrained and now savvy politicians can use the ridiculous timeslots to say nothing, not answer or duck and run to best advantage.

In Eric Morley, Miss World style, let me in reverse order dismiss the talentless robots put forward by the Conservatives and Liberals. I think I could have drummed up more coherent counter-argument from my kids' playground. There was such fertile ground for opposition to shine and show government failings and where they would make a difference. Sadly, rehashing outdated (things can change in minutes and you need to move fast to react) spin-meister training may seem like good micro-management, but doesn't do much beyond making them seem like only being worried about being on-script.

But Mr. Brown....

He was allowed to waffle out facts ... over and over and over again... that neither answered the questions nor excused the positions the country finds itself in.

It is a possible failing of our political system that some parties have only 5 years to effect real change, but you work with what you have got.

This... government has had a long time more to do what it said it wished to do. Not only has it either not done it, but in many cases has changed its tune to suit.

In fact the only real achievement, supported by Mr. Brown's own testimony, has been to pour money into black holes, and/or employ legions more people to help gobble this money up to little or no result.

As just one example, to Mr. Vine's challenge that most people, including Doctors, find the NHS to be in a dire state despite the multi-billions lavished upon it, we were treated to a time-consuming rumbled drone of figures and excuses about 'modernisation'. You can't blame pre-1997 any more Mr. Brown!

And whoever thought up the nonsense of consuming precious challenge time with 'listener questions' should be shot. One, isolated, cock-up is legitimately and reasonably dismissed as not something he has heard about, but write in and it will be dealt with. When.. in another ten years?

And thus he managed to tell the interviewer wordlessly that he was busy and had enough and that was that. What a waste of space.

And speaking of waste, well, the environment, which is my core interest, I came back last night to a post on my site from a reader which sums up how green this budget was (noting some other great points above):

"I'd like to share the fantastic increase in the budget for microgeneration grants administered via the Low Carbon Building Fund. From £6Mill to £9Mill - brilliant!... that'll make a massive difference! Here's where it will go - half to employ more administrators and bean counters with gilt-edged pensions and half (I hope!!) to those concerned (albeit well entrenched) consumers who would like to do their bit.

So now the LCBF grants will run out at 11:45 on the morning of the first working day of each month rather than at 10:30? Fat lot that goes towards helping. Uncle Gord might as well have stuck two fingers up to the electorate .... or did I blink and miss him doing just that?"

That's our 2p worth anyway.

Telegraph - Budget has left us no better off say 7 in 10

A letter in the Telegraph:

Sir - Well done, Mr Brown. Yet another nail in the coffin of the British farmer - £400 a year to tax our Land Rover. What a good idea. I'm sure my husband will be delighted when I tell him we are selling the Land Rover to become "greener" and save ourselves £400 a year and suggest he gets around the fields to feed our 400 ewes on his bicycle, or perhaps a Smart car would fit the bill?

Unlike many of the owners of 4x4s, we rely on our Land Rover to get around the farm and for hay deliveries, which is one of the things we do to diversify. Perhaps we should get out of farming altogether, so that we can import all our food, and use lots of planes to get it here. Very green, very environmentally friendly.