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.

Its a different 20%

ADDENDUM - Junkk Male - Dilbert, as always, nails it. Though actually, it is my experience that the most talentless numpties I have ever come across almost always tell you as soon as you meet them how 'they can't stop/help/do anything' because they are so stretched for time. Like the rest of us are not.

Well I'm gob-smacked. Further to our previous posts on this very subject (see More Spin), that's the response to a direct question about the 20% from renewables by 2020 according to DowningStreetSays.

That had me rolling around on the floor laughing for 15 minutes.

How do these people have the balls to come out with pathetic spin that's such ..... utter balls!

ADDENDUM - (Junkk Male) - Guardian - Or change 'em!

Watch-dog watched. Snared. And bitten!

Sir John Bourn, Auditor-General.

So who is he? He is currently the head of the government's national audit office, essentially the spending watch-dog, whose role is to ensure that the government doesn't waste taxpayer's money on pointless, ridiculous or frivolous projects. (Not done much of a job really, if you ask my opinion!)

Why the mention? Well, Sir John has today announced (just been on radio 2) that he will resign in January 2008. So what's he done? Well, according to this from The Times, over the last three years he has run up a few bob on his expenses account.

So what's wrong with a civil servant blowing a few bob?

Well, if you are a civil servant, then how about these as examples to try and emulate:-

"Sir John travelled first-class with his wife on 22 occasions, including to San Francisco, Bahamas, Brazil, Lisbon and Venice, costing £76,000."

"164 lunches and dinners since 2004, including meals at the Ritz, Savoy, Dorchester, Wiltons, Mirabelle and Bibendum. The bills, nearly all for two people, vary from £80 to £301."

Do we need to mention "appearing to accept hospitality from companies such as BAE which compromises the independent and professional standing essential to someone in this post."?

Probably not, but racking up a total of £336,000 in expenses on various globe-trotting trips has just got to be taking the p*ss, so to speak, for someone in the role of a spending watch-dog.

As one of the posted comments states - 'he'll probably come out of it all with a big fat pension', and 'completely immoral'. Quite!

£110k+ per year in expenses only - now that's nice work if you can get it!

U-turns. Another way to spin in one place.

Why legislate when you can green market

Thank heavens I see this here as I was sure I had dreamt I heard it on a SKY News slot last night.

I can't seem to locate a dicky bird on the BBC or The Indy, etc.

Maybe they are still pondering the consequences.

I know I am.

Meantime, amen to this: 'They have little understanding of how to market green issues. Until they do, no matter how much they spend, their marketing attempts will be ignored. My advice is to save your money and bin your ads until you really get to grips with it."

It beggars the imagination how much has been blown already on such wasted efforts. And I have very dim views on the ethics of those being rewarded with bonuses based on us recycling more using our money to drive up the rates. It seems a slight conflict of interest to me, at least in the public sector.

As to the ActonCO2 site I agree and disagree. Or rather, t'other way round. It didn't work when I logged on, and most who tried I doubt will go back (web #101 - don't blow your budget sending all to a site that can't handle it). And anything that expects me to sit through that much web designer wet dream is asking for me to get bored and give up. And once there... I find out what my footprint may be? Woo-hoo. How much and how many people to and run this? And others?

My free reuse site costs no one a bean in salaries and marketing expenses, and is currently 'run' by one. Yet it keeps winning awards by being fun and offering ideas and rewards for DOING.

Though some manpower help is desperately required and would be appreciated as I really need get back to the day job. Anyone?

Indy - Wasted opportunities

Observe... er

Observer editor Roger Alton to step down

Seems a pity, if not a rather sad commentary on the state of our 'independent' media, that a person who seems such a good communicator should be leaving over ideological disputes with the brand's agendas.

Ho hum, I guess I'll just have to take what I read with the same amount of salt as most other 'news' media these days.

Where's there a yoof when you need one!

MySpace and HarperCollins to launch environmental awareness book

I'd say we need to get in there. thing is... can I work the teenie systems required?

MySpace is teaming up with HarperCollins to publish a book on the environment for teenagers. "MySpace/Our Planet: Change Is Possible" will be the first branded book from the online social network.

The book will provide facts, tips and practical suggestions for teens looking to become active promoters of environmental causes. It will be released in March next year in the lead-up to Earth Day on April 22.

MySpace users can submit ideas for the book at and those who make it in will be credited by their MySpace username and location. Topics will include travel, entertainment, health and money.

The OurPlanet community on MySpace has 130,000 members and is part of the MySpace Impact Channel, which helps connect users to politicians, non-profit and civic organisations.

Guardian - HarperCollins launches ebook imprint

Times - Pop in and print off that rare novel

Nice work if you can get it.

No, really.

A wee while ago (and a half-jotted blog post that never happened and now may be too late), I met and chatted with Tim Smit, he of Eden Project.

An awesome speaker on stage, he is somewhat different mano a peon, so I don't think I'll ever be working for him. With, maybe, but even then there are two whopping egos to deal with. Plus his. And don't get me on prima donna traits as well!

Anyway, there are not many jobs I would dearly love to recommend to the right person with the necessary whatevers (especially as the last incumbent - or one from the series - was so darn snotty to me and mine when we tried a hook-up we got really put off the culture), but this is one, from Marketing Week:

Job title
Marketing & Communications Director for The Eden Project

Salary Range
£60000 - 70000 - in Cornwall! What coudl you spend the other 50k on!!!!

Job description

We don't do impossible.

If we did, we wouldn't have turned a former Cornish clay pit into what has been called the '8th wonder of the world'. Since we opened our doors in 2001, we have welcomed over 9 million visitors to our unique experience which is home to the largest conservatory in the world and the tallest rainforest in captivity. Run as an educational charitable trust, we are truly passionate about providing an entertaining day out - we are one of the most visited 'paid for' attractions in the UK - whilst altering people's perceptions about the world around them in a non-preachy, empathetic way.

Reporting into the Managing Director, you will have responsibility for creating and successfully implementing our marketing communications strategy and tactical plans. Whilst appreciating our strong ethical values and charitable status, you will need to ensure that all of our marketing communications allows us to meet our annual visitor targets. It's vitally important that we are continually evolving our offering taking our audience with us and you will be the force behind this. A crucial part of this role will be to provide leadership and inspiration to our team of passionate marketeers.

We need an exceptional individual to take on this unique challenge. The successful candidate will probably come from a leisure/travel, visitor destination, FMCG, Retail, TV or agency background, but experience is only part of the spec. Among your many personal attributes you will have stamina, assertiveness, mountains of self-confidence and be a grounded, easily approachable prima donna free person. You will be intellectually robust and combine your classical marketing experience with natural creativity. All of these characteristics will give you the credibility you will need to make this role a success.

What do you want to say to your grandchildren? I'm glad I did or I wish I had?

If you get the job via this, please think kindly of us:)

I am a tad concerned about what 'reporting into' him might involve. Which may be, on top of my ancientism, may be why my getting paid work is proving so tricky. Ho-hum. One of these adventures I'm on must surely pay big dividends soon!

It ain't what you're trying to do. It's the way you're failing to do it.

I was going to bolt this to another post, but it deserves its own: Scientists say Kyoto protocol is 'outdated failure'

Now I am pretty sure those at either extreme of the the CC divide will spin this (if they refer to it at all - I pretty sure one will) in their usual ways.

But I simply note that it is the means, not the necessity, that is being critiqued.

And, frankly, not before time, with some heft.

We need to sweep away the chancers and the inept who have rushed in to seek green gold, and then discover and support those who can derive actual meaningful enviROIs for the planet from the horribly complex reality that is the global political sphere.

Indy - Sarkozy's green revolution in danger of producing nothing more than hot air - Good start:)

Indy - Is the Kyoto treaty an outdated failure based on the wrong premises? - The Charles Clarke option: 'keep me in charge as my fouling up is experienced fouling up'

Going in circles

I report no more than the facts. and invite you to cock your own eyebrow.

On BBC News this morning it is gushed that a new venue has been added to the F1 calendar: my old tramping ground of Singapore.

However, as if running around in circles for hours powered by awesomely tuned internal combustion engines were not enough, it will be held at night.

Apparently, this will require lights that are four times greater in power than a footy stadium.

Maybe they will get in extra generators.

What's a boy or girl to do?

I bang on a lot about doing here. And will continue to do so.

I have more faith in the benefits of substantive, positive creative activity than an awful lot else waaaaaay too much energy gets expended upon.

But every so often I give pause to ponder the consequences of 'doing'.

No so long ago I debated with myself at length how so much of the human condition that drives one to make stuff might indeed now be what's causing us the problems we are experiencing. There are simply so many of us making so much, the consequences of the processes are having a global effect... possibly.

Makes having a great idea... that needs manufacture... less of a thrill if you are cursed with the thought in the back of your mind that it might just add to the short-term problem. I certainly have a file full of such things. And a few might well feed the family a lot quicker than, I can tell you!

But actually, when it comes to 'doing', at least in this post, I am thinking of the people who don't do that much that's really very 'necessary' or 'useful', and what on earth society would do with them if they are no longer funded (via salaries, etc) to be kept occupied and in chauffeured Priuses or Bali conferences. Tricky.

The pages of government documents and the media and activist websites are full of things to ban. Some worthy of consideration; some vacuous, self-serving rants.

Trouble is, behind almost all is an entire infrastructure of folk who would be, quite simply, out of a job if these things did, in fact' cease to be'.

Take the leisure market. By some estimates, it represents 10% of the world's economy. No more flights would mean 600 million (well, a large % as 'we' returned to our roots. Though the thought of competing with 60M Brits for a campsite slot is not appealing) out of work. And they cannot all become Local government compost advisers or carbon traders.

Woah. Big, connected issues need big, coordinated thinking. Trouble is, I am not seeing any big thinkers on the horizon. At least, any who are not out for No. 1 first and only.

Indy - The ethical dilemma posed by organic food - QED
Guardian- Air-freight food must pass fair trade test to retain organic label in future

Sloppy Science Reporting Alert!

'Air freight by weight can generate 177 times more greenhouse gases than shipping'

What does that mean without any context?


Meanwhile, where the big money is - Olympic consultants cost £1m a week - And they are doing...?

Knowing 'why' may be interesting...

... but in the case of shooting yourself in the foot nowhere near as useful as first not doing it.

Sadly I am on a self-imposed ban from commenting (though I'd get moderated anyway) on a site I still monitor for interesting facts and links. And I saw this:

We all know there’s global warming, it’s ‘why’ that needs an answer. Many scientists, based on research by the Danish Space Center, think it’s down to solar wind activity which reduce cloud cover and increase water vapourisation (clouds account for 95% of the Earth’s greenhouse effect). Just ask Al Gore why polar ice caps are melting on Mars and both Mars and Jupiter are warming up at the same rate as Earth or does he believe there are little green men on Mars belching out CO2.

Too many well paid research, media and political jobs depend on scare mongering findings. Politicians use CO2 as a means of extracting more taxes and the BBC obey their masters.

Here’s my take on the maths ....
CO2 (carbon dioxide) is 0.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere.
97% of all CO2 is natural and 3% of CO2 is man made.
Therefore man made CO2 accounts for 0.0012% of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The UK is responsible for 2% of the world’s man made CO2.
Therefore the UK’s contribution to the world’s man made CO2 emissions is 0.06%.
Therefore a 10% reduction in the UK CO2 emissions = 10% of 2% of 3% of 0.04%.
This equals 0.0000024% reduction in the world’s total emissions of greenhouse gasses.

Compelling stuff (well, Danish Space Centre vs. IPCC... hmnn). Note that the poster is on board with GW. But what I find interesting, and a little scary, is the absolutism of what I am sure is a decimal-perfect academic linear analysis.

No hint that 3% going to four may be a very bad thing in a sensitive system not in natural control (and I accept, thanks to my own eyebrow twitch, that it's hard to ignore that a Krakatoa or Mt. Pinatubo might further tilt the atmospheric nasties, but we're talking avoidable stuff here).

And speaking of avoidable, there's the age-old UK vs. the rest. The prisoner's dilemma.

I see such posts daily. And often they are fed by the latest rather extreme MMGW-pessimistic claims made by those quite high on the official/media tree I would dearly wish were more cautious, as they simply hand the optimists an easy distraction.

Take the forest fires in California. For start, if one accepts it's getting 'warmer' (is it?) a fire seems a fairly likely thing.

But interestingly all culpability claims that have pointed at 'Man' have indeed played the MMGW card. Why just that, when there is still so much to going on to discredit that notion alone!!!!!? What about all the other factors our expanding populations impose? Like sticking houses in front of fires where they used to burn away with no human contact? Or sucking the water out of every place possible to feed golf courses, etc.

There is a very complex thing at work here, and man most likely is not helping, but neither is simply pointing at the sky and shrieking global warming as you whip out your sustainability consultation fee document or recycling target estimates.

ADDENDUM - On the other hand - Science Daily - Massive California Fires Consistent With Climate Change, Experts Say - Experts, eh? One minute you have none, and the next minute a bunch come along and say all sorts of conflicting things.

BBC - Hurricanes and global warming - a link?