I’m delighted to see Mark Thomas new book “The People’s Manifesto” is now available from the publisher as a traditional paperback and an ebook. It’s as razor sharp as any of his previous books & TV shows, and stunningly diverse because each policy was suggested and voted on by the general public in shows all over the country last year. I was at the Newbury gig. It was very funny. Definitely a present to consider for all thinking carbon based life forms in your vicinity.
Every season has it’s harbinger.
The first train service disrupted by leaves reminds us that autumn is on the way.
Eddying drain pools tell us the leaves are now successfully clogging the sewers, and winter is near.
These temporary blockages are swiftly removed, making a terrific compost that nurtures the first daffodils of spring, giving us hope that good weather and good times are ahead once more, and then, as the winsome joy of sunshine-halo afternoons begins to fill our hearts, the harbinger of summer floats into our unsuspecting homes.
The summertime harbinger is of course not hayfever, but the first noisy muppet with a stereo in their back garden, banging out a loop of brainless dance tracks.
If humans can’t be considerate towards their next-door neighbours, and indeed, the neighbours a long way down the road, what hope do they have of peacefully sharing the planet?
As a five year old in 1977, punks scared me. In the village where I grew up there were only two bits of graffiti that I can recall, one was the anarchy symbol, daubed large by the shoe shop, and the other was the word “sex pistols” enhancing the wall near the public toilets, just next door to the Baptist church. Continue reading
Is it wrong to gain commercial profit through somebody else’s law breaking? Perhaps its morally wrong, but its not necessarily unlawful: so every day, when the corner shop near us profits indirectly as its customers ignore parking laws, where does their responsibility end? Continue reading
Today at lunchtime I was alerted by a colleague, to an uncommon sight: a uniformed officer of the law, smoking. A smoking plod is probably just as likely as a smoking anybody, but I can’t remember ever seeing an officer smoking in uniform. This one wore little blue epaulettes and a bright yellow arm band that suggested that he was a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) rather than a Police Constable (PC). He had his hat off, so perhaps he was on a break, but it was a strange sight nonetheless. Continue reading
In March, the US federal reserve made a 29 billion dollar investment bailing out the collapsing Bear-Stearns bank. Last month the behemoth mortgage lenders Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac were underwritten to the tune of 200 billion dollars. Yesterday the seven hundred billion dollar bail-out bill on federal intervention in financial markets was rejected by the House of Representatives. Continue reading
Please help! A comment just arrived on the “contact us” page, and it’s a work of art. I can’t decide if it’s a flame, or something intentionally funny. The irony is beautiful. Continue reading
As the largest food retailer in Britain, what Tesco does has a massive impact on the rest of the British food industry, however, Tesco are not a charity and their primary purpose is to make maximum profit (supposedly within ethical guidelines). The profit-vs-ethics problem is therefore one of ensuring that the right ethical guidelines are followed and where animal welfare is concerned (suggests Hugh) Tesco should be independently audited, specifically “to ensure that chickens purchased for sale by the Company are guaranteed always to have been kept in conditions that meet the Five Freedoms.”
Tesco however, are being a bit awkward in their latest mission to cloak the facts about the welfare of animals that end up on their shelves and will only take Hugh’s resolution to their AGM if the cost of distributing the relevant papers to their shareholders is met. They could waive this fee (after all, every little helps) but they have so far refused to do so.
The cost of the distribution is (apparently) £86,888, which sounds a lot, but for a company that made profits of £2.55billion last year, it’s not going to break the bank. However, shareholders are shareholders and the profits belong to them, so the directors cannot be blamed for not wanting to stump up the cash… can they?
So how to raise £86888 in two days? Ask nicely, auction your services, and hope.
Update: Wow! Target reached! Next stop the Tesco AGM!
I couldn’t help but marvel at the efficiency of our local station café recently, as I watched the staff pipeline their customer orders. The busy morning rush was so great that they’d streamlined the operations; one person greeted customers, took orders from several of us at once, and processed the payments. This freed the second member of staff to focus on juggling the coffee and tea machines: getting the maximum throughput from the two staff, and the machines. Continue reading
On a recent train journey I overheard a conversation about someone who’d enjoyed the first class wine so much on a recent intercity journey that they had difficulty staying awake so as not to miss their destination. Staying awake is a problem for many commuters and for those whose destination is not the terminating station, it can be both costly and time consuming. An alarm clock is the obvious tool of choice, to solve the problem, but they’re not convenient to carry. Helpfully some phones include alarm clock applications, but aside from the fact that they can ring a bell at a predefined time, they’re not very useful because what’s important is getting off at the right station, not at a specific time. Continue reading
This is a true story. Two staff in a small convenience store are chatting as the queue I’m in slowly moves forward towards their dual tills:
Shopkeeper 1: These plastic bags get thinner and thinner!
Shopkeeper 2: Yeah. Continue reading
Since we’ve owned our own home we’ve tried to always use environmentally friendly products for all cleaning and laundry tasks. This has been surprisingly difficult because the big four supermarkets in the UK have had a pretty poor record of having more than one “eco” product in any section at any time. Continue reading
The experimental petition system that Downing Street is running has generated it’s first 1,000,000 signature petition: it asks the PM to “scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy” and it’s a great example of how public opinion is not necessarily good for the public. Continue reading
If you’re going to do something where you have just one shot, then you have to get it right first time, there can be no deviation. This is a very different requirement to just getting it right every time after a short teething period . Space exploration is full of one-shot right first time problems. For special problems you need special people. Continue reading
Christmas cards are lovely. A small personalised message from someone you know, providing assurance that they appreciate you and think enough of you to select, purchase and deliver a card all the way to your home.
So everybody near and dear to us will be wondering where the hell our card has got to. Well, ok, we admit it, things have been too hectic and we’ve run out of time. Continue reading
What are the best
alternative presents for a geek?
The typical geek has carefully selected and purchased their gadgets of choice, has a computer that’s tuned to perfection and needs no software purchased (because their entire suite is open-source) – so aside from comedy tee shirts with clever slogans that can only be understood by other geeks, buying for geeks is difficult, especially if you’re not a geek, because you can’t even understand if the tee is funny or not. Continue reading
Can everybody please stop sending me Thresher Discount vouchers? Ok thanks for thinking of me, I very much appreciate that bit; but it seems everyone I know is intent on passing me this little “under the counter number” and hasn’t twigged that they’re just part of a huge viral advertising campaign. Continue reading
When re-reading the International Declaration of Human Rights the other day, I found myself mulling Article 1 repeatedly: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
The British Government has never been more accessible and the DirectGov website now boasts over three million unique visitors per month, a figure that’s rising by 10% each month.
Those users are primarily discovering public service information and not having an active say in government, but something is changing in a small but significant way: you can now petition the UK Prime Minister online. The dawn of digital democracy is upon us. Continue reading
BBC news have been extensively reporting that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to death, following his conviction for crimes against humanity. This sentence shows that a respect for human rights is not a part of the freedom that has been offered to the Iraq people by “the coalition of the willing”. Continue reading
Wimmerfield Crescent is a residential street located in Killay, Swansea. It feeds three small residential cul-de-sac roads, one of which is called Heol Glasnant where I used to live. Heol Glasnant has the unusual property (in Wales) of being flat, and the lack of throroughfare made it an ideal venue for street parties. Continue reading
Having converted my Grandparents stash of cine film to a digital format earlier in the year I’ve at last found a few minutes to extract something of general interest (as opposed to the family-interest stuff), so here it is. Continue reading
The problem with summer is not the heat. It’s the music. Patio doors are thrown open and people migrate their lives to the garden. Naturally most people in the UK don’t have garden-based speakers that might deliver music to where it’s wanted at an appropriate volume, so folk just turn their indoor stereo up. Continue reading