Tag Archives: Society

The People's Manifesto

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.

Harbinger of Doom

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?

Sipping Socialism (via Podcast)

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

The Smoking Litter Police

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

United States of Emergency

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

The £86888 Auction

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.

Bid now, or donate, no matter how small, remember, every little helps.

Update: Wow! Target reached! Next stop the Tesco AGM!

Chicken Out! Campaign Sign-up


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

Commuter Alarm Clock

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

Gifts for Geeks

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

Petiton the PM

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