Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The veg plot

I spent about 45 minutes digging this morning - no problem, the soil has grown veg for a long time and can only have been unused for a couple of years, if that.

When I left to come back home the blackbirds were already on the ground looking for worms - nice and juicy they looked too - the worms, not the birds.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


what are words?
where are they born?

whence daffodil?
the tranquil jonquil,
or lilly dill of Daffy St Dafydd.

who knows for sure?
not narcissus
his own image.

nor I
weaving paths
of made up etymology
and nonsense rhyme
like quills upon
a fretful celandine.

alternative ending

like frills upon
the sun-filled celandine

France - electricity consumption down 1%

An article in Le Point claims that electricity consumption was down 1% on normal usage, i.e. about 800 megawatts.

Click on title for details.

And in America North and South

The New York Times reports on Earth Hour's success.

Now we wait to see what the consequences are. The meetings below are ones to watch, not caused by Earth Hour, but maybe influenced by it.

Obama has announced a meeting in Washington on April 27-28 where representatives of the 16 major economies will meet to discuss action on climate change. This will lead up to various meetings, culminating in one in Italy in July.

And of course it should have some influence on both the G20 in the UK, and the Copenhagen meeting in December 2009.

Earth Hour in the UK

This had more publicity on the BBC at any rate than last year. Updates were posted throughout the day as 8.30 pm reached each part of the world. Late last night this article about the Uk was posted online.

Colin Butfield, campaign director for WWF, said a number of "iconic landmarks" such as Buckingham Palace, the Gherkin, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and the London Eye were plunged into darkness for an hour to mark the event.

On Facebook's page, and on the Earth Hour website there were a lot of facetious comments, as well as the positive. Some people feel morally obliged to represent the negative and anti-communal side of human nature. Oh well. It just shows how different we are, and how variable the nature of the human beast.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

See the lights switched off

BBC video of some of the cities from Sydney to Paris as the lights go off.

Scotland takes part

Scotland is also taking part in Earth Hour's switch-off

From Sydney - to the world

Report in the Sydney Morning Herald

This year, exceeding the wildest dreams of its organisers, participation (in Earth Hour) has swollen to an estimated 1 billion people in 83 countries. Of them, 47 were developing economies, up from nine last year.

Earth Hour 2009

This has received rather more publicity this year - I've heard it mentioned three times on the BBC radio News this morning, including a short interview.

There is an article on their website, too.

In Europe the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Edinburgh Castle will be in darkness for one hour.

A symbol, indeed, but an important one.

Though there are dedicated environmentalists such as George Marshall, founder of the Climate Information Outreach Network , and the blog who argues against this action, as ineffective and likely to resonate badly with the unconvinced, to whom darkness is a Bad Thing, associated with death, decay and privation.

And there are plenty of 'rebels' posting on the comments threads, pledging to leave all their appliances ON.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The (veg) plot thickens

Excellent - the veg plot I can use is pretty small, and that suits me. The house and the garden containing the plot are high up from the road, with a fabulous view over the valley.

It's good for salads, sprouting broc, carrots etc. I'm going to make a start on Tuesday morning...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bits here, bits there...

Maybe I should start another couple of blogs - one for walks (and other exercise), and one for gardening. This blog is becoming distinctly bitty.

I'm hoping to make use of someone's garden in the village. She claims she doesn't use the veg section now. I met her at the newly resurrected Gardening Club. When I described myself as a frustrated gardener with too little space, we thought we should get together.

So tomorrow, off I go to check it out. It's about seven minutes walk away, up a very steep drive, though she assures me the garden is flat once you get there.

I was attracted to this article in the New York Times, complete with its picture of a tall planter made of old tyres. Now maybe I could do that bit at home???

Picture by James Patterson for the New York Times

Monday, March 23, 2009

More on inequality

In the Independent Yasmin Alibai-Brown discusses the book mentioned last Sunday

In The Spirit Level, two sober academics – Richard Wilkinson and his partner Kate Pickett, both medical epidemiologists – have published strong evidence to prove that in unequal societies everyone suffers – even those who think they have it made for generations to come. They looked at 20 of the richest nations and compared various social and health problems, measuring those against an index of equality. The US, Portugal (feudal in the near past) and the UK are the most unequal nations, with the top 20 per cent earning nine times more than the bottom 20 per cent. Japan, Finland, Norway and Sweden are where the money gap is smallest.

Teenage pregnancies, mental illness, life expectancy, obesity, illiteracy, homicide, crime are all worse in the states of greater inequality and not only for the poorest but for all citizens and residents. Spain is more equal than its neighbour, Portugal and you can see how vastly different are the social ills in the two countries. There is even evidence that in unequal societies, the people have higher levels of stress hormones

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dora going 'tween'

A Pink Stinks blog entry explains how young girls are manipulated for marketing purposes. In particular they object to the way Dora is being made to grow up into a 'tween'. Dora is a cartoon character who so far has presented some kind of active role model for little girls.
Comments are interesting and there is a petition you can sign here

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another Limerick

Protecting the honour and income of his family...

The honor of dear Bernard Madoff
made him claim only he ever played off-
side in the game
that brought money and fame
Such a shame that they called his parade off.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Two more limericks

How much are you worth AIG
With your clever obscure strategy?
Obama won’t stand it
He’ll make you unhand it
Big bucks rule, it's not his liturgy.

Exactly on whom is the onus
Of controlling the size of a bonus?
The boss of the bank
Or the file and the rank?
These fat-cats must think that they own us.

Not entirely happy with the first one, but for the moment it'll have to do.

Version 2.
Would you pocket the lot AIG
with a secret payout strategy?
I hope O wan't stand it
and makes you unhand it
No big bucks, please, in his liturgy.

Of course the AIG boss is asking them to pay back (half) their bonuses now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Two Limericks

So, I didn't win the challenge, but here are my efforts:

Bernard Madoff
There was a rich guy, Bernard Madoff
Used new dosh to get the old paid off
The money swished round
Till it all tumbled down
Is penthouse for jail a good trade-off?

(So nasty to kick folks when they're down!)

Educational Choice
The idea that a school you must choose
Will leave lots with no choice but to lose
For those with the money
Will sup milk and honey
Let the choose losers sing the old blues

(are my politics showing? Ooops!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Inequality is the root of all evil

Not new, but it's a good reminder to me. This could be why we are 'broken'. Click title for the article. It's based on a book The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, who claim that the countries whose incomes are most unequal also have high rates of unhappiness, of social problems, of teenage pregnancies etc.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Swimming again

Another 50+ lengths. Keep on keeping on.

Births, deaths and Co2 emissions worldwide

To see the statistics for births, deaths and CO2 emissions for all the world's countries, hover your cursor over the one that interests you.
Huge differences in the length of time it takes to emit 1000 tonnes of CO2. But this is given per country, so to get a meaningful comparison we need to divide by the population, I think.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Celebrity Cat

Starstruck Shelby
achieves lifetime ambition
she's on the telly.

Eat medium eggs...

Something that hadn't occurred to me - it seems that breeding chickens to produce large eggs can cause problems. See Times article. A couple of excerpts below.

Phil Brooke, of Compassion in World Farming, said: “Selectively breeding hens for high productivity, whether larger eggs or larger numbers of eggs, can cause a range of problems such as osteoporosis, bone breakage and prolapse. We need to breed and feed hens so that they can produce eggs without risk to their health or welfare.”

Christine Nicol, Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Bristol, said: “There is no strong published evidence of pain in egg-laying hens but it's not unreasonable to think there may be a mismatch in the size of birds and the eggs they produce. We do often spot bloodstains on large eggs. As a personal decision I would never buy jumbo eggs.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Swimming etc

It feels good to be back in the water - approx 50 x 25 meters today, mostly breast-stroke, with several crawl interspersed.
Yesterday I walked for about 40 minutes, with 100 paces running several times - total around 700. Probably not 5 minutes all told, but no ill effects on the knee so far.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Two more clerihews

Gordon Brown
On his way to Washington Town
Hopes contact with Obama
May help him control the drama.

Sir Fred Goodwin
Certainly managed to hood wink
The august bodies who regulate our high finance
16 million in the pot didn’t even make them look askance.

In the second one I was deliberately playing at having a lame kind of rhythm, or lack of it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Clerihews and a senryu

A few of us have challenged each other to produce clerihews. Here are three of mine:

Lord Peter Mandy
Our business grandee
Anointed in green slime
Who’s to say it’s not time.

Alistair Darling
Doesn’t do snarling
At very rich men who lose money
Makes sure their bread’s spread with honey.

Conrad Black
fraudster and hack
says prison's sweet as toffee
playing piano, drinking coffee.

and a senryu for good measure:

Custardial sentence
for Heathrow runway’s friend -
Mando intacto