Sunday, November 30, 2008

What to do when its raining

Its absolute madness out there (in London- apologies to you if its lovely wherever you are)- so if like me, you don't fancy the wind and rain or just want a lazy Sunday afternoon- what better to do than to go round the Blogpower television network. First you turn on the television- and its on the cookery channel where the Fake Consultant is busy offering you recipes for cooking birds- particularly Turkey (incidentally happy thanksgiving to any of our American readers). Mutley is worried about the price of pickles, and our roving reporter Welshcakes has been spotting anti-pasta in Sicily. Oh and that cup of coffee- why not make it a bit different- fancy a central American cup. Cookery programs, pah I can hear you saying, I want the real meat out there with the documentaries.

Well switch the channel then- and have a look at Matt Wardman's analysis of the current efforts by the Church of Tom Cruise to send people to help with (capitalise on) the suffering of the victims of Mumbai. Fancy something more domestic- well Ruthie's got an agonising tale of the American welfare system. And Ellee's telling tales of the connection between the credit crunch and drugs and alcohol abuse. The Thunderdragon is focusing even closer to home: heard about the cold war between Eakring and the next village in Nottinghamshire- he has the details

Switch channels and its over to the breaking news: Ordovicius is giving up blogging. It gets worse- apparantly communism is coming back. I wouldn't be that happy with that myself, having just seen what the Baader Meinhof gang did in the fine film out about them. Lets get back to the serious stuff, away from frivolous movies- Bob doesn't reckon much to Cameron- he has just spotted a strategical mistake by the Tory leader. The current issues surrounding Damien Green receive some attention to, as a conservative wonders if the Police have breached Parliamentary Privilege, and a hippy argues that unrestrained leaking doesn't help government. Tom wants the Home Secretary to go, and stop with the excuses.

Intelligent discussion programs are also available: change the channel and you'll find a wonderful discussion of Martin Amis's House of Meetings. Jams though responds by thinking about how the Italian Job really ended. Whereas Kori thinks that a new mode of consciousness is emerging- represented both by Barack Obama and the new mayor of Vancouver. Kizzie explains that the Arabic language is a political subject in the Sudan- and has the details to back up her case. Overall though things must be put into a historical context, like that that Heather Yaxley puts the car industry's marketing into.

Oh its all far too depressing- all our stations are delivering is an unremitting gloom. At least whenever the TV is too depressing, we can turn it off and relax. Lets look at some pictures: Rodin or the Berlin Sony Centre: take your pick. Or why not put on a CD, Grendel has a suggestion for us. Its rousing stuff- and so this roundup has been- the weather in London may be bleak, but this week's stroll round the blogpower channels has been pretty inspiring. I don't agree with everything I read, but I did appreciate it all and there are posts I've missed- why don't you go and explore as well- forget the rain and the cold and get going round that sidebar- there is plenty to see and enjoy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Could India Collapse - Pub Philosopher

Yesterday, I had one of my regular meetings with my accountant. Originally from India, he is a very well read and well informed chap. We usually spend twenty minutes talking about business and the next forty discussing politics and world affairs.

After we had discussed the Chancellor's budget, about which he was unimpressed, we got onto the subject of the rise of India and how soon it will assume its place as an economic and military superpower. Far from being optimistic about the prospects for the country of his birth, he fears for its future stability and, in the worst case, its fragmentation into warring regions.

His rationale goes something like this.

Both Pakistan and Bangladesh are close to collapse. Climate change, leading to rising sea levels and the faster melting of snow in the Himalayas, leaves Bangladesh vulnerable to flooding. Millions of people could be displaced in a country which is already one of the most densely populated in the world. Where would they go? To India, of course. They speak the same language as their neighbours in West Bengal and there are already large Muslim populations in many Indian cities. The collapse of Bangladesh could see tens of millions of people migrating to India and there would be little the Indian government could do to stop it.

More at Pub Philosopher.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Empty Wessels --- Grendel

Thank you all for your kind comments in reply to my previous post. Mutley wondered whether I had been anywhere and actually no. Life had just carried on as normal just minus a few hours hunched in front of a monitor hoping that the muse of the blog would touch me with a piece of inspiration.

I have spent quite a bit of my time off blogging doing quite a bit of reading. Just revisiting a few of my favourite books that I hadn't read in years.

One such was Shirer's 'Rise and fall of the Third Reich'. If you don't know the work (which I'm sure you probably will) the title pretty much gives away the content. As I ploughed through the bit about the 1920's I came across the reference to Horst Wessel the SA street thug who, although killed like so many others on the streets of Germany at the time became posthumously famous for his marching song "Die Fahne hoch" which is also known as the 'Horst Wessel Lied'. The song which became the second German national anthem between 1933 and1945.

It occurred to me that I had never knowingly heard the piece so with nothing other than minor curiosity searched on YouTube to see if it was posted on there.

Of course this was a bit of a mistake. Still being a touch naive about the interweb I had of course forgotten that YOUTube is not a repository of fascinating audio and visual information posted for general interest but is rather a showcase for the bizarre and a vehicle for the self aggrandising.

Continued at Grendel

Saturday, November 22, 2008

King Colin Holds a Feast of Blogpower (Or a Round Up, if you like)

T'was Pentecost and King Colin did call a feast at Camelot.
He did summon far and wide for the Knights of Blogpower.

T'was a fine and verdant day of May when the Knights arrived.
'Forsooth' said King Colin 'Tis seven summers since such a throng of worthy knights did to Camelot repair! Great deeds indeed shall be recited in these halls as the embers burn low!'

And the knights and their ladies did dine, on mostarda and Christmas cake!

Once the company was feasted, King Colin did decry 'Tell me, my good knights, what deeds hast thou done that have made the realm of Blogres sing with the valour of the sword, what deeds hast thou done that shall make men accord us mickle worship!'

First rose Sir Mutley of Bridport. 'My liege, I have found the Holy Aura! Ten leagues east of the Kingdom of the radioactive Howler Monkeys it lies, beyond the forest of Complex Office Relationships.'

And there was much rejoicing.

Then arose Sir Cafegrendel of Aus. 'The Golden Bean, my liege, is within my grasp!'

Then with bloodied torso, entered Sir Tiberius of Westminster. 'The Gauls are defeated, he cried!'

'Let us toast to that with a bottle of Valpolicella!' cried the Queen of Western Plain.

'Wouldst I could' said Sir Kori of Brus. I must depart before midnight to return to the dark side of recycling.

'And I' cried Sir Tome Paine 'I must cleanse the House of Commons of vermin!'

Then the doors of the hall flung open and there entered on foot, his cloak torn, his staff raised, t'was the wild man of the O'Donnell.

'Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye! The realm of Blogres will not find peace till ye solve ye the riddle! One nut or two?'

King Colin turned to Merlin Wardman and asked what the wildman meant. Merlin replied 'The nut signifies the BNP. One or two signifies, do we have a right to know? Was the leak inspired by God or the evil one?'

'The evil one' cried the Knight of the Thundrous Dragon 'Tis of naught who is Knight of the Party of the Britishnational!'

'I stand by him' said the Knight of the Philosophical Pub.

Sir Bob Piper laughed and cried 'Let them be judged as they do judge'.

Sir Cynical of the Morning Star shook his head. 'Half right, half right, he said'.

Sir Guthrum the Wise arose amidst the voices 'I have seen the Devil's whore!'

Confusion broke loose in the halls as the knights reached for the swords, the unity of the table broken.

Sir Tony of Tuscany, that darkest of Sorcerors, took the chance to turn his lady into a car.

Whilst the Knight of the Investment bank and Sir Jeremy Jacobs decided to depart and find that evil cad, Sir Jonathan Ross, despoiler of the good name of many a damosel.

Indeed it seemed the peace of the Kingdom was doomed to fail until...

Who is this riding across the drawbridge in his green livery and his Saxon helm?

Which brave knight is this and what puissant deeds does he have to tell?

Tis Sir Grendel!

And the return of the much loved warrior brought peace to the hall.

'Sir Grendel! Where hast though been these seven months!' cried King Colin.

'My liege, I have been making my own Worm Farm'

And all did nod with wisdom.

King Colin turned to those assembled. 'Let us reflect, my friends of the great wisdom we have learned'.

And there was great rejoicing.

Friday, November 21, 2008

If Anything Matters, Everything Matters ---- In Search of High Places

Meaning, meaning, meaning.

Have you ever driven into a parking lot and just cranked the wheel as far as it will go? Round and round you spin. You may have noticed at that point that even though you have the steering wheel pegged you never end up repeating the exact same circle twice? There's always a bit of drift—just enough to keep things interesting...

Okay, maybe not, but anyone who's been around here awhile knows where I'm going with this. Matt and I have been going round on the meaning of life since the very first (with the help of many others along the way). Indeed, we may well sound like broken records at times. Still there is this "drift," subtle shifts in the direction of the conversation and an unshakable feeling that there is more to be said—that it's still a conversation worth having. Or maybe that's just me? I don't know.

Starting back in July there was a rash of "meaning of life talk" that broke out. First here. Then here. From these two conversations two theories of meaning were purposed (well, more than that actually, but these were the only two that stayed in the discussion):

Continued at In Search of High Places

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I love Penguins...... Hercules

The three-week-old was given a toy penguin for company after having to be separated from a brother .

Staff at Living Coasts zoo in Torquay, Devon, are hand-feeding the penguin named Pingu.

Head keeper Tony Durkin said: "The chick wasn't getting enough food. The toy is its surrogate family."

Crossposted from Hercules

Friday, November 14, 2008

Can PR manage Trust? Heather Yaxley - Greenbanana views of public relations and more

The BBC reports that energy prices "could fall soon" - I just received an unsolicited telephone call from British Gas offering to save me money. Was the call to tell me the company was reversing the horrendous 35% increase introduced this Summer? Of course not, the telesales chap simply wanted me to sign over my electricity supply too.

Boris Johnson reports a similar call - seems British Gas think the answer to customer satisfaction is to annoy us with the heavy sell. I told the caller that I was happy with my electricity supplier and that I didn't want to receive calls from British Gas selling me things (I am registered with the telephone preference service, but apparently that doesn't protect me against sales calls from companies I buy from!).

The guy then started into a sales pitch to counter my response - so I told him that at 4.30pm, I was working and didn't want to take his call. He seemed confused that someone could be working from home - does he think everyone who answers the phone during the day is unemployed or a housewife?

Last week, I received a package from British Gas containing some low energy light bulbs, with a patronising remark about energy efficiency. I didn't ask for these and don't need them as I already use such bulbs. Indeed, they cost pennies in the supermarkets and they generally last for years. How dare British Gas lecture me about saving the planet when it has used resources to send me something I don't need using marketing money from the extortionate bills it charges.

Do I sound like I like British Gas, let alone trust it?

If I visit the British Gas website, the green messages keep on coming - all one way regarding how it can help us to save energy, blah, blah, blah.

Continued by Heather at Heather Yaxley, Greenbanana view of Public relations

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Making Sustainable living ..... Sustainable --- Green Living

When a dear friend of mine (single male, no kids) asked me quite innocently some weeks ago whether I was "doing any work these days?" I felt like I had been slapped in the face. I had been running on empty for a while, often feeling dizzy when working in the garden, forgetting what I meant to get when I went into another room, and with a general feeling of being rather overwhelmed. You see, I am a "stay-at home mom", so therefore - in the eyes of society - I am not working.

I felt this myself, despite the fact that I have three young children, one still in (cloth-)nappies, I am homeschooling my six-year old, I am in the process of planting a permaculture garden on our 3 acres block and grow almost all the vegetables we eat, I bake all our own bread, I cook from scratch every day, and I have no grandparents or other relatives around who might be able to look after the kids for a couple of hours so that I can get a break.

I was an academic in my former (pre-children) life, and the endless amounts of washing and cleaning, of wiping bottoms and feeding my insatiable boys (who seem to get hungry again as soon as they finish one meal!) simply don't seem to have the same kind of "work appeal" as typing away at the computer or lecturing a group of students.

Of course you can now say - well, that's your choice, so just stop whingeing and get on with it, or get a proper job! Believe me, I tried. For a while (when I had only two kids) I was teaching part-time at the university. Financially, this made no sense whatsoever - I ended up being worse off by the time I had factored in the cost of child-care, petrol and parking.

Continued by Chervil at Green Living.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On The New President, Or, The World Doesn’t Change All In One Day

Those who follow this space closely will know that we, from time to time, scout around and see what the other members of my blogging community are up to.

The "Blogpower" bloggers are primarily based in the UK, but others are located in the US, Canada, Australia, Italy…and even the Sudan.

We’ll see how they reacted to the US elections—and we’ll discover that while many are happy, it’s not all strawberries and cream out there.

We’ll meet the happy, we’ll meet the silly—and we’ll meet the not-so-very-happy as well.

So with that said, let’s head over to the UK, shall we?

"When as the rye reach to the chin,
And chopcherry, chopcherry, ripe within,
Strawberties swimming in the cream,
And schoolboys playing in the stream..."

--George Peele, “The Old Wives Tale

Not quite 100 miles north of London, and roughly 100 miles west of Amsterdam lies a whole bunch of lovely farm country, which includes Norfolk, where the "Norfolk Blogger" is one of the happy. No longer will the USA seem as though we are “putting two fingers up to the world”, we are told (for the benefit of Americans, the “peace sign” is not always seen as peaceful…); and in fact, it’s “Now for America to become the "good guys" again”, as the blog’s title reminds us.

Our friend Ellee Seymour, besides being one of the happy, is also the one who is checking up on her fellow bloggers’ predictive skills, as she reviews who was more right about the outcome, and those who were, shall we say, not exactly right at all.

There is advice to be had, as well. Matt Wardman, over at the “Wardman Wire” cautions us that “landslide” talk is helping no one. (Be sure to follow the comment thread for a most informative list that shows the margins of victory for every Presidential election since 1900.)

Thunder Dragon notes the problem of Presidential lame dickitude and the apparent pointlessness of the G20 economic summit--unless Obama attends.

Some offered advice just before the election, as well. Our friend Hercules presented cautions that seem to have also been well represented in the official John McCain message…and Ruthie Zaftig suggested people like Hercules should basically get over it.

And on a completely different subject “The Tangled Rope” blog reminds us that the Fifth Annual Worldwide Admire Your Genitals Day was celebrated November 6th…

More analysis: “A Conservative’s Blog” is worried about possible protectionist tendencies from an Obama Administration, “The People’s Republic of Birmingham” hopes that expectations are not impossibly high, and Andrew Allison reminds us that voting against Obama is not a sign of racism…even as he expresses his appreciation that the US has elected a President “…who can string a few words together in grammatical English…”

Analysis of the day: the “Capitalists @ Work” blog compares the 2008 and the 1860 Presidential election maps, creating some serious electoral déjà vu…and suggesting the possibility of “Republican dreams gone with the wind”.

"It must be some measure of the catastrophic decline in Australian cricket that there are blokes in the squad these days who have not even published an autobiography, let alone a barbecue cookbook."

--John Huxley, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, Nov 10, 2008

Australia’s “Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe” offers Obama two llamas and three bananas, along with the observation that Obama wasn’t the only world leader who acceded to power this past week.

Vancouver, BC’s “The Conscious Earth” reminds us that political apathy is often related to the question of who’s running…

Returning to the UK…the Emperor Camillus, the conquest of the Etruscans, and the never-ending question of how a Senate deals with a fiscal windfall are questions addressed by the most excellent “Westminster Wisdom” blog.

Tuscan Tony, the master of mixing the moderately naughty with Conservative politics, brings us the truly important electoral results: Whirl of Change has defeated Straight Talk Crunch in the Baskin-Robbins “Flavor Debate ’08!”, marking the sixth and seventh times politically inspired flavors have been tried at the ol’ 31 Flavors.

There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.

--Gautam Buddha

I am myself forever guilty of this habit…and it is fair to say that I would not be here today if it were not for my habit of doubt—and there are two members of my community who have substantial doubts about this new President.

From “The Two Wolves” come concerns that the US has become a nation that votes based on race…and from the “Pub Philosopher” we are asked, basically, just how happy should liberals really feel if Obama is elected and California passes Proposition 8 on the same day?

We’re almost at the end, and since we are talking about doubt I wanted to bring to your attention a blog from the Sudan that is not a part of our Blogpower community, “Soul Searching”; who sees the election’s demonizing of “Muslim” Obama as a setback for Arab-Americans.

The final blog: my own. I challenged myself to dress Sarah Palin in the finest of clothes, from Saks’ and Neiman’s no less; and to do it for a mere $43,000—2/3 off the Republican National Committee’s expenses.

The point: could you trust an Administration to spend $150 billion if they couldn’t handle $150,000? Two stories full of Oscar de la Renta and Miu Miu later, not only did we do it, we did it under budget.

So there you go…we learn a bit about what folks are thinking, we get a few cautions, and we are reminded that this is our chance to redeem ourselves…if we don’t screw it up.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Sandi Toksvig for Doctor Who! --- Finding Life Hard?

Amidst all the media brouhaha about Brand and Ross last week I missed hearing the most important news of the week. It took Younger Son to tell me that David Tennant is retiring from his role as Doctor Who.

I had a quiet little weep.

But then, on the News Quiz on radio 4, I heard something that perked me up no end. The panellists had been discussing the fact that it was public pressure that made the BBC act in the lewd phone calls affair. And Sandi Toksvig said she was going to ask Radio 4 listeners to write in to demand 'Sandi Toksvig for Doctor Who!'

Now wouldn't she be perfect? She has just the right quirky eccentricity to carry it off and in the age of a black American president, maybe it's time for a female Doctor.

Write to the BBC if you agree!

Posted by Liz at Finding Life Hard?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

From Food to Fuel --- Ellee Seymour

Sainsbury's is to stop dumping thousands of tons of waste food at landfill sites and will instead use it to generate its own electricity by converting it into methane gas. This gas will be used to provide light and heat for its stores.

What concerns me about this is the quality of wasted food they are throwing out, that they are forced to dump good food because of sell-by dates.

Is any of this food offered to homeless organisations, or families and pensioners living in poverty? Could we not have social network groups which collects left over supermarket food at the end of the day, let them take anything for free if it still looks edible rather than dump it.

At present, Sainsbury's sends a whopping 60,000 tons of food waste to landfill every year from its 800 stores. It has been forced to consider alternatives because of soaring landfill tax costs; it presently stands at £30 a ton, but is set to rise to £38 next year and to £46 in 2010. It will cost them an extra £1 million in the next two years.

As well as recycling its waste food, Sainsbury's also plans to recycle all of its 20,000 tons of non-food waste, including metal, plastic and paper packaging. From next year, Sainsbury's intends to become the first leading British retailer not to send any waste to landfill sites.

Yes, I know Sainsbury's is being very proactive and responsible. But please don't throw out good food. I notice how the reduced food shelf always has a flock of people pushing each other out the way to grab a bargain. I hate to think of good food ending up at landfill or in an anaerobic digester plant.

Posted at Elle Seymour