Birmingham is starting the fight against climate change

I attended the Birmingham Strategic Partnership consultation event last night at Think Tank on the Birmingham Climate Change Action Plan.

Whilst I was there I hooked up with Birmingham Friends of the Earth and volunteered and also shamelessly plugged Birmingham Freecycle to anyone who would stand still for long enough – and a few of those that wouldn’t….

The event itself was OK; the council thought seem to be still working under the assumption that they can reduce emissions by less than 90% and still carry on much the same…. this is a bit shocking for anyone else who has read any of the excellent George Monbiot’s work. Go there and read it now and prepare to be seriously scared; he shows how we need to URGENTLY cut emmissions by 90% or we will face a tipping point at which climate change enters a cycle of positive feedback and becomes self-reinforcing and runaway.

But what I have to rail against is crimes against usability again. The external moderator was from a company called BMG; she seemed to be seeing the presentation for the first time as she had no idea where each section finished and the next started and EVERY SINGLE TIME she overshot and had to fiddle with the PC on the podium to sort it out. Also it was glaringly obvious that she had never done the presentation in front of a real audience; it was “interactive” to the point where we could vote using a traffic lights metaphor – and each question was put on screen with the text and JUST the text in the appropriate colour on a strong blue background.

No thought was given to colour blind people; this probably violated the Disability Discrimination Act, and even people like me without colour blindness and with my glasses on found it almost impossible to read. No one had thought “you know – if we used huge blobs of colour on this we could make it easy to read”. It had clearly been slapped together by one of this power-suited busy executives minions without any thought to the final audience or any oversight by the person doing the presentation.

And it’s not as if it was a trivial message – you know the kind of stuff these market researchers usually do – “do you prefer cat food tin label A or B?” – no, this was about how we in Birmingham cope with and reduce the effects of climate change, probably the most important issue for the entire next century, and far too important to be left to losers like those last night. If anyone from the City Council ever reads this – you really should sack these people and emply someone who knows what they are doing; this issue is too important to be mishandled so badly.

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DAMN but it’s fun cycling in Birmingham the snow!!


So as usual, when it snows in England everyone predicts doom and apocalypse.. but you just know that they would also be the first to complain about the cost if we paid enough to get blanket coverage from snow ploughs and gritters. As it is we get such little snow that there’s no way we can afford enough of them… but hey, try telling that to the People Of Restricted Cognition….

Anyway; I now cycle to work as it is probably the only exercise I can get nowadays and also because if you don’t live your beliefs then you’re just a pathetic wimp in my opinion. And I have to say that cycling in when it was snowing was just IMMENSE fun! – the old saying is so right: “there’s no such thing as bad weather: there’s only the wrong clothes.”

Also, I am lucky enough that my route runs along a disused railway line, and this morning it was Christmas card perfect!

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The argument for vegetarian’s might have just become irrefutable; it’s killing our planet

I have always been ambivalent about vegetarianism; on one hand if it is a moral, ethical decision by someone who just cannot face the thought of eating another living beings body I have been supportive.

On the other hand, I have always been profoundly suspicious of it’s supposed inherent health benefits: I mean – we are omnivores! – our bodies and teeth and lifestyle predicasted us to eat everything; roots, berries, cereal, nuts, eggs, meat, fish, fruit, veg – the lot.

And yet – and yet… I have been increasingly worried about the impact that eating meat has on the environment – and that we do not eat meat in the fashion that we evolved to. If you look at our evolutionary lifespan we have spent something like 99.98% of our time as modern humans eating meat only when we could track down the damn animal and club the beggar to death – so about once or twice a week. That’s what we have evolved to do and our bodies are not good at handling meat 10 or 12 times a week; we get heart disease and obesity; we are simply not designed to handle that much rich protein.

Then you look at the environmental costs of eating meat:
- it takes 10 times as much energy to grow meat as it does to grow vegetables; in other words, 10 people could live off the protein that it takes to grow one cow or pig to feed one person. On a small and increasingly over-crowded planet that is just getting unsustainable.
- the carbon costs of eating meat are rising all the time; we have to spend carbon to grow the food to feed the cow or pig, to transport the animal to slaughter, to refrigerate its dead body until we can eat it and then to dispose of it’s bones afterwards.
- the waste products are increasingly overwhelming; cows and pigs produce methane and nitrous oxide which are 23 and 296 times worse for the environment than carbon dioxide is; and then there is the 5 million tons of manure produced every day by American farms.

In short it is just time to quit eating meat; or at the very least to revert to the pattern of meat consumption we were designed for; once or twice a week at most. It’s not just better for you – it’s what we need to do to save the planet.

See the excellent article on Alternet for more.

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Great reasons on "why not to wear a suit"

Check out this blog on why not to wear a suit; one point I really love is where he says that certain people probably need a suit to get confidence and stature in their company – and he states: “Well let me be the first to tell you that if you feel like you need a suit to gain that confidence, you got problems.” Genius!!

Then there is the flip side; if you stopped requiring everyone in your business to wear a suit then it is the equivalent of giving them a tax free pay raise. Let’s all do this!! – it is now the Official Policy of the Peoples Democratic Republic of Birmingham to ban all suits in business! Wear what the hell you want! – and judge people on their competence, not what they wear….

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If you find the blatant racism on Celebrity Big Brother revolting then the solution is simple; STOP WATCHING IT!

If like me you have found the blatant racism on Celebrity Big Brother to be nauseating and revolting to watch then the solution is simple; stop watching it!

I gave up on this show some years ago when I came to the conclusion that to watch it was to consume it – and also therefore to endorse it. Even worse; watching it meant that they got ratings which meant that they made more money from their advertisers and that the show would continue.

Just stop watching it! They deliberately create controversy in order to boost ratings – and unlike other artificially created controversies real people get hurt in this one!

Then after the show, demonstrate your disapproval for racist twats like Jade Goody and Danielle Lloyd by refusing to consume anything they produce and wreaking their fucking careers; these people depend on us the viewing public for their livelihood! Show them that we stand against racism in ALL forms by not watching them and not listening to them. Make them do real work out of the public eye; they do not deserve our attention if they do not subscribe to the basic decencies that the rest of us insist on.

The single good thing to come out of this has been (as far as I can tell without wathcing it) – the quiet dignity of Shilpa Shetty – and the fact that she might now be a household name in Britain! – Yay! Go Bollywood!!

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You could not make this up; creationists in the US refuse to allow their kids to see "An Inconvenient Truth"…

This is just unbeleiveable; some religious, creationist bigot in the US is refusing to allow his kids to watch “An Inconvenient Trust” at school because – get this – he insists that an opposing view be presented as well.

THE CLUE IS IN THE FREAKING TITLE OF THE MOVIE!!! – It is called “An Inconvenient TRUTH” – these are facts! – they are evidence that has been taken from measuring reality; they are not open to debate or argument! Scientists have gone out, looked at a thermometer and written down these numbers! – photos taken ten years apart of the same glacier retreating 500 meters are not made up!

I can see why oil company executives insist on trying to deny climate change; their careers, companies and self esteem are bound up in doing so… but what possible reason does a religious idiot have for doing so?

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Can anyone give me one, sound reason why we allow cars on the road with a top speed that is a multiple of the maximum legal speed?

This is yet another example of the failings of capitalism; immature men with insecurity complexes will always demand fast cars to make up for their many physical and scial failings… and if they are demanded then they will be built.

But where is it in the interests of society to allow cars on the road that can do double or triple the legal speed limit? Just what is the point?

Maybe there is an argument for increasing the speed limit on motorways to 80 mph; maybe we should allow cars to go slightly faster than that to allow for overtaking… but why the hell should anyone be allowed to drice a car that goes faster than 85 miles per hour?

And YES this is state intervention!! – because I simply do not trust the competence of these drivers! There is no need for such powerful cars to be allowed!

And of course, the side issue of greater fuel efficiency is just an added bonus!

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How to stop dogs savaging kids

I cannot believe it; yet another young kid is savaged by the family pet. Even more unbelievable is the fact that the family takes no responsibility for their actions, and allowed a drug dealing thug of a relative to keep a vicious dog in the house. When someone is keeping a dog for it’s intimidation value then don’t let kids anywhere near it.

And everyone bleats about how legislation is needed, without taking responsibility themselves. This will always fail so long as dangerous dogs are identified by breed. This is total crap; the only dangerous dogs are those that have had their tails docked by petty minded twats who are more interested in how a dog looks than in keeping kids alive.

Let me explain; a dog’s tail pretty much serves one function alone; to tell other dogs (and incidentally humans) the dogs mood. I have never heard of a dog with a tail savaging a person! You can tell when those dogs are angry and back off. If it was made illegal to dock a dogs tail for the petty vanity of the owners and breeders then we would all be left with the single best signpost to the dogs mood ….

… and the number of deaths by dog attack would drop like a stone.

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A new term for excellence: "arm-shavingly good"

I just saw the trailer for the new movie "300" based on Frank Millers graphic novel….
… and then watched it again, and again…

… and then watched all of the features on the production of the movie….

… and then wateched it again…

… and every single time I watched it I got goose-pimples… – you know the kind that you get when you feel profound awe in the prescence of greatness? – yup: those.

The story itself is just amazing; 300 Spartans defended the pass at Thermopylae and held off an army of an estimated quarter of a million Persians for three days whilst the rest of Greece mobilised.

But this movie rendition just instilled awe in me time and again; I really cannot wait to see this movie! – it’s like waiting for Lord of the Rings to come out all over again! Hence the title of this blog entry: the trailer was so good that it raised goose pimples on my arm every single time I saw it – and so in response I need to shave the hairs off my arm to stop them raising every time; so this trailer alone is arm shavingly good!!

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Crimes against usability 2; just utter, rank incompetence!

So; I am working away at the dayjob, editing the list of exhibitions we will be at over the coming months. Part of this naturally requires me to link to the exhibitors websites; usually a quick way of doing this is to go to the venue, look at their event listings and then click on the link to the relevant exhibitions website to get the address to place onto our site.

And then ExCel in London (apparently they thought it’d be a really cool idea to name their venue after a spreadsheet… this should tell you all you need to know about them..) decided to open the links to the advertising sites in a new window (oh; JOY UNBOUNDED: a new freaking window to deal with?!) – and after a warning sign telling you that you are leaving their site (no fecking shite Sherlock; that’s what usually happens when I click on a freaking link!!!!) and then to just make absolutely, positively sure you eternally hate their company for life – they do it in a window with no controls, no address bar, no menus and no buttons.

How can anyone be so incompetent? Do they have no idea at all that this pisses off people to the point of blogging about it? – and avoiding their site as if it was ten day old medical waste that had been left in the hot sun?!?!

Check it out at their utterly incompetent site – click on the link to the Pro2Pack site and enjoy the rancidness.

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