'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Earth Conscious Pledge - Cumbria Futures Forum

Here we are.
Note my low impact blog.

If you are an individual or organisation living in Cumbria:
Cumbria Futures Forum.
Cumbria Futures Forum Pledge.
Have fun.
From the main website
In honor of Blog Action Day, we wanted to highlight some of the many Blogger-powered blogs that are focused on the environment, climate change, and sustainability. Want to see more Blog Action Day participants from around the web? Find them on Blog Search.
Cleantech Blog - Commentary on technologies, news, and issues relating to next generation energy and the environment.
The Conscious Earth - Earth-centered news for the health of air, water, habitat and the fight against global warming.
Earth Meanders - Earth essays placing environmental sustainability within the context of other contemporary issues.
Environmental Action Blog - Current environmental issues and green energy news.
The Future is Green - Thoughts on the coming of a society that is in balance with nature.
The Green Skeptic - Devoted to challenging assumptions about how we live on the earth and protect our environment.
Haute*Nature - Ecologically based creative ideas, art & green products for your children, home and lifestyle, blending style with sustainability.
The Lazy Environmentalist - Sustainable living made easy.
Lights Out America - A grassroots community group organizing nationwide energy savings events.
The Nature Writers of Texas - The best nature writing from the newspaper, magazine, blog and book authors of the Lone Star State.
Rachel Carson Centennial Book Club - Considering the legacy of Rachel Carson's literary and scientific contributions with a different book each month.
Sustainablog - News, information and personal meanderings related to environmental and economic sustainability, green and sustainable business, and environmental politics.
These Come From Trees - An experiment in environmentalism, viral marketing, and user interface design with the goal of reducing consumer waste paper.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Inheritance tax - do we give a damn whose idea it was?

Not really.
A threshold increase was always going to be announced.
The Boy George knew it was coming so said "£1Million" knowing it was a bit ahead of what Darling/Grodon had worked out precisely. Who cares, he/they thought, if £1M would have a negative effect it's bigger and, in this instance, better than £700k.
More money for hospitals and education and .... see I've forgotten already the other thing, are all ... yeah the flight tax... I remember. Anywez they were all anticipated and The Boy George did a clever bit of upstaging - stole all the punchlines. That's the way I read it.
Or - Did he? I have serious doubts all round - everyone of them is a fibbing Tuareg.
Hell I'm confused now. Maybe they were Genghis Campbell's ideas afterall- Simon Hughes thinks so. Not much you can do with a name like Simon Hughes?
Go for a fixed term between elections that's what I say.
I'm not sure I can be bothered voting again. Certainly not for a party.
Forgive my political outburst - I retire from paid employment tomorrow (12 Oct 2007) after 42 years and I'm feeling a little trepidatious (must check spelling).
We had in mind that this blog site would be 'Arts & Literature'. Didn't we TWIR? What happened?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I've been thinking

I've been thinking. Twice in as many weeks.
Take a look at these 6 faces: Why are they likeable?
Charles, the painter, says it's due to their World icon status and also adds Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe (to balance my male dominated selection). I'm not so sure. 2 of the above have no World icon standing and 1 of them is relatively unknown. 3 are alive; 2 were shot; they all have some celebrity probably due in some way to the way they look. Quite a lot of icons are not likeable and quite a lot of celebrities I wouldn't recognise. Tony Blair, George W and to some extent David Cameron all have recogniseable, approaching icon, faces, but for different reasons, have a countenance in need of a good slap (as the late father used to say). I'd queue to have a smack at young Cameron.
I know very little about the personal traits of any of the above - John Lennon I believe was a bit of a self-centred sod with Cynthia at least, but that doesn't stop me liking his image.
Wondering now - why in my first 'think' I didn't choose a woman. Ummm - could be something to do with the published image of women. Female images are always based on sex which can be confusing as we all know. The likeability of a Marilyn Monroe image is totally constructed.
See what I mean? Personally Julie Christie always did it for me.
No. There has to be something more to it. It's not to do with beauty either 'cos that's in the eye of the beholder.
I'm puzzled. Maybe it's face shape or eye spacing or the captured smile. Captured smile or the image frozen in time - constructed again - Einstein didn't smile much but the eyes twinkled (Charles said). Lennon's eyes hidden I hear you say. In that case that would make him least likeable of the bunch above. Maybe so?
Charle's threw in Che Guevara as another of the likeable icons. It depends on which image they print I say. Discuss or tell me to get on with something useful.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

See Di and Robert Plant

Last night Di (RW) and me went to a rock n roll event in the newly refurbished Birmingham Town Hall. 10 years of Brum Rock (The 60's mainly); 3 hrs of happiness including 25 minutes of absolute genius - Robert Plant.

Why, how and where? The where bit is already obvious. 10 days back I was sur(f)ching for the words for 'storm in a teacup' sung by 'The Fortunes' 1965ish, written by Lynsey de Paul (i didn't know that). I noticed that the Fortunes were still playing and had a date at Birmingham Town Hall on 6 October.

"Let's go" sez I in a spur of the moment sort of way "it'll be a bit of nostalgia for us..... The only downside being missing sounds of the sixties as we have to travel back on the train on Saturday morning." So we booked it. ........."It also says that ...subject to availability .... Also appearing ... Steve Gibbons, Danny King, The Rocking Berries, Bev Bevan and The Move, Trevor Burton, some of The Moody Blues, Robert Plant, Jasper Carrot .... ........"

" WHAT?! Robert Plant?" spluttered RW. "There's a 20 million waiting list to see him and ledzep … 'ow much are the tickets?"

"50 quid it's for charity and there's Dave Pegg (bassist with that Fairport lot) subject to availability" - he was available unfortunately but more later.

"But what about Robert Plant" she went on. "My hero ... Best voice in rock. Lovely hair.... Wonder who had his babies? ....... Robert ....? Plant ...." You get the picture?

And so it came to pass. Everybody was available. Danny King had been sprung from the retirement home. He had a hell of a comb-over but moved well and had the voice of an angel though not the memory. He must be 70 at least. He did admit though that he was "..nervous as hell because of Planty". I know what he meant. Planty with just a guitarist (Justin Adams) and 2 West African guys on percussion (Salah-Dawson Miller) and a 1 string violin thing (Juldeh Camara) were mind-blowing good. 4 songs Ledzep re-interpreted back to roots. I could have gone to heaven then. Di was already there. Robert Plant - as close as that tree in our yard and chatting away to the audience as if he'd just got the bus in from Stourbridge. RW's still talking about it 2 days later. She thought he was just talking to her.

The Fortunes were a little too cabaret but very good nevertheless a little… oh and then we had Raymond Froggat. ........ and to my great embarrassment, and the rest of the cast who studiously ignored him, Dave Pegg! Oh dear oh dear .. he's my age now and should know when not to play TFT (the fucking tambourine- for the musicians amongst you). He kept appearing on stage obviously much the worse for drink, trying to moon walk and join in on backing vocals with whoever had a mic. He nearly took out the drums at one point as he skidded on some trailing cables. Danny King, 10 years his senior, was much steadier. C'mon Peggy - get off! In one drunken moment I spotted him playing air tambourine and singing to an imaginary mike. Could have been funny - but it wasn't. He enjoyed himself though

I'm off to down-load some Planty stuff and track down whatever that thing was that Juldeh Camara was playing.

Got to get RW off the flaming Robert Plant website first, and she wants me to have my hair curled and wear my shirt out over my jeans. Not sure about the Planty poster blue tacked to the wardrobe door. What am I going to do? We'll never travel in silence again.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Cumbria – Consultant Fees Coast if you ask me

My reference to the Energy Coast may have baffled anybody who read my previous posting.
Even if “a blog is the sound of one person talking to himself” (*1) just so’s I can get my own thoughts sorted it’s worth me wandering through the subject.
The West Cumbria Strategic Partnership (
http://www.westcumbriavision.co.uk/) commissioned Grant Thornton to come up with a master plan for West Cumbria.

This document was costly, £200k plus, and adds to the £10million (and more) of consultants fees milked out of the system over the last 15 years or so. I’m not bitter by the way - just a natural born cynic.
The rather catchy tagline ‘Britain’s Energy Coast’ and the green mesh lines stretching from Allonby to Millom confuse the reader into thinking that the West Cumbria Strategic Partnership/The Consultants Grant Thornton are proposing an economic solution for West Cumbria (from Allonby to Millom) based on Energy production.
Britain’s (Nuclear) Waste Reprocessing Coast would have been a better tagline and maybe change the colour, of whatever is obscuring the coastline, to Red.
Let me be clear about this the only energy being generated in Cumbria is from the 100 or so Windmills scattered down the coast, oh- and one gas fired Combined Heat and Power Plant on the Calder Hall site. The Nuclear power station at Calder Hall closed a while back and had it’s cooling towers dropped 2 days ago. Chapelcross on the other side of the Solway has also closed. There was an oil powered station at Workington 30 years back and all our coal was sent out of county to - I don’t know where. There’s a gas fired station near Barrow but Barrow though I believe technically part of Cumbria (West too) seems to have been largely ignored on the cover of the plan at least.
Energy wise unless there are plans for a few hundred more windmills I can’t see why we should become Britain’s Energy Coast. Windmills once built need very little maintenance and while being built seem to employ more Danish and Dutch labour and resources so the local economic benefit is at best poor.
The Solway Energy Gateway above Allonby towards the mouth of the Eden would make tremendous sense with massive energy generated by the tides and would also give lasting economic regeneration. There are some hurdles though, the main one being the local environmental impact. Local environmental impact might be the price we have to pay though to have any chance of impacting on Global Climate Change.
A new Nuclear Power Station at Calder/Sellafield would seem to be in the subtext of Grant Thornton’s plan. Whilst I have no problems with Nuclear Power Stations (I’ve made my living for 30 years or more from the Nuclear Industry), the only reason for a plant in Cumbria is the existence of a nuclear licensed site and a population conditioned, through 60 years of exposure and dependency to accept anything nuclear.
Sellafield has never been a nuclear power station – how many times have I had to tell people over the years and how sick am I of the jokes – Cumbrian – glow in the dark – 2 headed fish – pre cooked lamb.. I’ll stop.
Sellafield is a waste treatment and reprocessing plant for the nuclear industry.
Read the words from the Grant Thornton’s plan (11,000 words and loads of big pictures over 48 pages – this blog posting is 1,200 words with 1 picture; possibly 3 pages max- work out the value for money – bear in mind it took me 35 minutes to write this)
West Cumbria has major nuclear assets and internationally competitive expertise and skills in a range of related activities, including environmental remediation, engineering and decommissioning. Employment in Research and Development is double the regional average.These strengths and assets are of national and international importance. The UK’s energy, environmental and economic policy now involves a unified approach to the twin challenges of energy security and climate change. Maintaining a sustainable national economy requires integrated answers to both. This approach will also provide major business opportunities for UK firms.It will also enable the UK to make an important contribution to European energy policy. West Cumbria can provide a unique contribution to the UK’s short and long term policy goals, transforming its own economy in the process. Our Vision for West Cumbria is based on this unique relationship between local economic assets and transformation and national policy priorities.”
Now read them again.
Now tell me what they mean?
Weasel words when read with the tagline.
“West Cumbria has major nuclear assets and internationally competitive expertise and skills in a range of related activities, including environmental remediation, engineering and decommissioning. Employment in Research and Development is double the regional average.These strengths and assets are of national and international importance…..”
Yes it does have major nuclear assets but it does not have nuclear energy producing assets. The redundant reprocessing plants at Sellafield were classed as liabilities until very recently and there is a new research centre now so that must be what doubles the regional average (regional being where exactly?)
“(environmental) Remediation, engineering and decommissioning “ – yes at last – glossed over pretty quick and early – that’s what we do.
Look I’m glad that we are doing it and not anybody else.
The rest of the executive summary really means -carry on Cumbria being the nuclear waste treatment plant for Britain and the World.
The £300million a year Nuclear Decommissioning Authority continues to buy the dependency of West Cumbria. We see a succession of companies coming in to show us how to decommission – mostly American (though I used to share a building with a German/now French company) and my old factory has now been bought by a Swedish outfit. It’s a whole lot of heat and not much light as far as I can see and quite a lot of money spent on local advertising and promotion telling us Cumbrians about how good the colonists are and how much they are spending on social projects in Cumbria - sponsoring businesses, schools, the local supply chain, rugby teams. If you have to blow a trumpet it might as well be your own. It turns off most Cumbrians – they see right through it. Actions - not words about actions. Let people judge for themselves.
Instead of the NDA waste of nuclear money on themselves and commissioning consultants I could have provided the plan for free and redirected the money to better schools, a university 10 years ago (not just now), apprenticeship training, infrastructure. Focus on engineering and the environment not just nuclear. If we get a new nuclear reactor at some time then so be it. If we really need to have a windmill every mile including 60 in the Solway at Robin Rigg then so be it. But let’s not dress up what we are doing as a “unified approach to the twin challenges of energy security and climate change”. It means sod all to the population at large. All we want is a sustainable way of life not so obviously dependant on the command employer and not to be told by the incoming colonizers what a good job they are doing for Cumbria.
*1 – plagiarized from ‘the sound of 1 hand clapping’ – van morrison or zen?