Black Francis

  • Posted by tim
  • 9 September 2008

I have just been listening to Frank Black on the youtube with the headphones on, not my first choice of listening tonight as i was getting into some Hank Williams Jnr earlier, but i ended up on old Frank thanks to fate And BT . i never usually look through the comments on youtube clips but i slipped filthily down the page to find a pearl amongst swine. Written beautifully and as heartfelt as Romeos love leaden dialogue with Juliette were these words by ohlutro youtube member Joined: March 21, 2006Last Sign In: 1 hour ago Videos Watched: 6,491, Subscribers: 1, Channel Views: 466.

"Frank Black is the coolest fat-guy ever!!"

Frank has a lot of love out there, even from ohlutro

Summer Lucky Dip Winner!

  • Posted by ruben
  • 9 September 2008

Categories:

Congratulations to Nick Lawrence from Stourbridge, who was lucky number 2,345.

This was the number that was plucked from the mind of Geraldine - a random Cardigan shopper as seen here

Congratulations Nick, enjoy spending the 500 pounds.

I'm sure you'll find plenty in our new range to spend it on!

this christmas i'll...

  • Posted by howies
  • 9 September 2008

Categories:

for years i've been thinking about, and talking about, spending christmas in london volunteering in a soup kitchen or working with homeless people. after working for 5 months in this office doing the DO i've finally decided its time to start doing the things i want to do now and not waiting for tomorrow so this christmas will be spent in london.

as you're writing your christmas lists this year have a look here and see if there's anything you can give.

makes more sense than buying another shit useless piece of plastic for the adorable todlers in our lives whose excitement comes from the atmosphere and love around them and who really can live without anymore toys

Farmers Markets

  • Posted by tim
  • 9 September 2008

With supermarkets abusing their power and forcing farmers to sell for less while they charge us more, many farmers have bravely decided to go direct to us. All over the UK there are Farmers Markets, where the produce has been grown and/or amde by the stallholder. No more paying over the odds to fatcat supermarket shareholders, and you can also ask the producer any questions about the produce. The site features what, why, and most usefully where the markets happen. Get fresher food, support organic growers, and give the finger to the capitalists all in one! Here's a website that tells you where your nearest market is, type in the county you live in and abrahadabra your in. Here for the site.

Hitchiking

  • Posted by tim
  • 9 September 2008

Fumbled across this site that offers lifts all over the place. London to Bulgaria? oh yes.

What Teachers make by Taylor Mali

  • Posted by tim
  • 9 September 2008

Taylor Mali is a teacher and poet. Generally considered to be the most successful poetry slam strategist of all time, having led six of his seven national poetry slam teams to the finals stage and winning the championship itself a record four times before anyone had even tied him at three, Mali was one of the original poets to appear on the HBO original series "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry." He was also the "golden-tongued, Armani clad villain" of Paul Devlin's 1997 documentary film "SlamNation," which chronicled the National Poetry Slam Championship of 1996, the year of Mali's first national team championship.

A native of New York City and vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching, Mali himself spent nine years in the classroom teaching everything from English and history to math S.A.T. test preparation. He has performed and lectured for teachers all over the world. Mali received a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant in 2001 to develop "Teacher! Teacher!" a one-man show about poetry, teaching, and math which won the jury prize for best solo performance at the 2001 U. S. Comedy Arts Festival.

Formerly president of Poetry Slam Incorporated, the non-profit organization that oversees all poetry slams in North America, Taylor Mali makes his living entirely as a spoken-word and voiceover artist these days, traveling around the country performing and teaching workshops as well as doing commercial voiceover work. He has narrated several books on tape, including "The Great Fire" (for which he won the Golden Earphones Award for children's narration) and is also the author of several books and cds of original poetry and spoken word.

MISSION STATEMENT

I want to help reform education in America from top to bottom. I want to be part of the movement that makes an entire generation of college graduates consider teaching before business or law school. I want to help support responsible alternative paths to certification so as to make it easier for smart, successful, and qualified people in their 30s and older to become teachers. I want to get America ready for the Education Tax if it turns out thats what we need. But most of all, I want to be a spokesman for teaching's nobility, one of the poets laureate of passion in the classroom.

He has his own channel on the tube too, all here.

Carbon Offsets a Fraud?

  • Posted by tim
  • 9 September 2008

by Claire Fauset & Merrick

Future Forests, rock legend has it, was first conceived of around Joe Strummer's campfire at Glastonbury 1997. The Strummer/Glastonbury connection gave the company the kudos to break into the mainstream. Strummer's tree plantation, 'Rebel Woods', is the first of many 'celebrity forests'. You can now also dedicate a tree in the Atomic Kitten forest, or help offset the greenhouse gas emissions of the Super Furry Animals.

But, as Geldof's performance at the G8 proved, you can't trust a rock star to have a political opinion on your behalf. The late rock legend may have slammed pop stars for 'turning rebellion into money' , but as the man who sold a Clash song to a Levis advert it should come as no surprise that his solutions to climate change were somewhat less than revolutionary.

Future Forests (now The CarbonNeutral Company) and Climate Care are two UK companies pioneering carbon offsets, the practice of planting trees or funding energy efficiency projects to 'neutralise' the burning of fossil fuels. Among those concerned about climate change, the idea is catching on in a big way.

Having declared itself serious about the onset of climate change, in April The Independent published a piece on 'How To Fly Around The World Without Costing The Earth' promoting the idea of using aircraft and then paying people to plant trees as carbon offsets.

CAN'T SEE THE EMISSIONS FOR THE TREES

There are huge problems with the idea. Simple measuring of emissions is not enough; as aircraft emit at altitude, their impact is around three times as bad as if it were done on the ground.

The emission is instant, whereas a tree only absorbs it over a period of many years. Emissions avoided now have an effect now. Emissions made now and offset will have a negative impact for years until the tree has absorbed them.

It's impossible to say how much carbon a tree will store, so you cannot know how many trees to plant for your emissions. Beyond that, its not straightforward finding out what your emissions are; figures on offset websites for, say, per mile driven usually don't take into account your mpg or how many passengers to divide it among. Figures for a train journey should surely be different if it's a packed rushour train compared to a mid afternoon one with only half a dozen of you on board.

But if finding out about your emissions is convoluted, finding out how many tress to plant is actually impossible. There are things to be subtracted from the offsets. You cant measure the carbon released when the land is cleared for treeplanting. Last years astonishing revelation that trees emit methane (a greenhouse gas more than 20 times as powerful as CO2) alters the sums too. But we dont know how much methane a tree emits. Moreover, methane emission increases as temperatures rise, so as global warming worsens the methane emission vs carbon absorption balance tips and forests have a decreasing impact on mitigating.

Even if a figure could be given for each tree, there's a problem of just counting the number of trees planted. You cant just measure the project you label as an offset; you have to be able to calculate exactly how much of an improvement over "business as usual" youre making, and there are huge disputes raging over these calculations.

For example, to buy the 'carbon rights' in a tree the companies expect only to pay a small portion of the 5 cost of planting and maintaining it. So, can customers be confident that their tree would not have been planted without 'offset' money? Some offset projects have been buying land that's cheap, clearing existing mixed woodland trees and replacing them with their monoculture plantations; you have to subtract the old forests effect from the new plantation, leaving negligible if any benefit on emissions and a big loss to wildlife.

Whilst all these things are serious points, they only show why offsets are clumsy and ineffective.

OFFSETS AIDING THE DESTROYERS

There is a bigger more disturbing truth, that paying for offsets lets us think we can all carry on with our unsustainable high consumption lifestyles, and climate change will go away if we just stick a bit of cash in the right direction. Were we to face the facts that offsets don't really work, we would be forced to concede the reduction on emissions so urgently needed.

Planting trees and energy efficiency are important things to do in themselves, but linking them to offset programmes takes us no further forwards in reducing emissions. If anything, it takes us backwards, as corporations are able to ride on the image boost of appearing greener.

With its re-brand as The CarbonNeutral Company, Future Forests is shedding its roots and going for the big money to be made from helping corporations get a green image on the cheap. It has moved away from simply providing a way of donating to tree planting, to helping businesses to fully understand the opportunities, as well as the risks, presented by carbon emissions, through its carbon consulting, risk management and marketing communications work.

British Airways announced in September 2005 that customers booking through its website would be invited to make their flights 'climate neutral' with Climate Care. By putting the onus on the consumer, BA neatly avoids any obligation or cost for the emissions from its flights. Its like a factory tipping toxic waste into an adjacent river and then asking customers to volunteer money for the clean up. Worse, they claim this is good ethical behaviour and get PR benefits from it at no cost to themselves. At the same time the aviation industry in the UK receives a 9 billion a year tax break, and continues to lobby against tax on aviation fuel, and for airport expansion.

Honda is offering its buyers one month's free carbon offset through The CarbonNeutral Company. But what is one months 'offset' in comparison to the emissions over the lifespan of the car? What benefit to the climate is there in painting a car company as a market leader in environmental protection?

Even if offsets were a scientifically credible solution, we would have to plant an area of new trees the size of Devon and Cornwall every year and maintain them forever if we were to 'neutralise' all UK carbon emissions.

OFFSETTING EMISSIONS IS IMPOSSIBLE

'Carbon neutral' implies that an exact estimation of both carbon emitted and carbon locked up (or 'sequestered'), is possible and verifiable. It also implies that the carbon sequestered in trees is equivalent to the coal/gas carbon extracted from deep in the earth.

The first of these assumptions is highly contested; and the second is just plain wrong. Claiming that carbon stored by trees is safely locked away, as it was under the earth, is simply not true.

This is where we hit the biggest and most disturbing truth of the matter, the thing that makes all the above points largely academic. You can't offset carbon emissions. Its a simple as that.

Burning fossil fuels adds CO2 to the carbon cycle. Trees merely store some of it for a while before releasing it once they rot or burn. They're not an offset, merely a delaying device.

As Oliver Rackham said, it's like drinking more water to keep down rising sea levels. Its not surprising that offsets are being so fervently promoted by those whose activities have to stop if were going to stabilise the climate. The airlines and oil companies want to find any way to carry on, and anything that looks plausible will do even if, like carbon offsets, it is a complete fraud.

The wish to avoid actually changing the things we've come to rely on is understandable, but it's effectively a blindfold we're putting on to tell ourselves we're not facing what's in front of us as we walk toward the cliff edge.

This is an expanded version of an article originally published by Corporate Watch Here's the site.

GM or not GM

  • Posted by tim
  • 9 September 2008

by Colin Tudge

Genetically modified crops might once have proved useful. In the early days, in the 1980s, scientists I spoke to in India hoped to transfer genes from groundnuts (which are very resistant to heat and drought) into sorghum, the staple cereal of the Sahel, which is also drought-resistant but succumbs in the worst years.

In California, there were advanced plans to produce barley that could thrive in brackish water of the kind that is spreading worldwide in the wake of overzealous irrigation. In Brazil, just a few years ago, I found GM being used to make disease-resistant papaya - which grows everywhere in the tropics and is an instant, free source of succulence, energy and Vitamin A. I was all for it.

Of course, the scientists anticipated snags. The GM plants might develop undesirable traits, possibly hazardous to consumer health, not necessarily in the first generation but down the line. That things could go wrong was evident from some of the early forays into GM livestock, which produced sad monsters.

Perhaps the GM plants would escape into ecosystems and become pests - as many a crop has done in the past - but the GM super-crops might prove to be super-pests. Perhaps the insect-resistant types with built-in insecticide would kill non-target insects, with disastrous knock-on effects.

Nevertheless, the mood I encountered then was optimistic, essentially altruistic, and cautious. There was no need to hurry, because the conventional techniques of the day, properly deployed, could do what needed doing.

Today, the world isn't like that: food production is now private enterprise, controlled by corporations and banks. The main purpose of farming is no longer to feed people but to maximise profits, raise GDP and maintain economic growth.

Critically, farming geared to making money differs in all significant ways from farming that is committed to providing good food today and for the future. Farming that feeds people well and sustainably must in general be mixed (many kinds of livestock and crops all interacting). It is complex and labour-intensive. Chemical inputs should be minimised, especially inputs of non-renewables; and, as far as possible, most food should be produced locally. The overall target is to ensure resilience: a steady supply of varied and high-quality crops, even in difficult times.

Cheap food is an illusion

In contrast, farming that is designed to make money must be maximally productive, but at minimum cost. So the systems must be simple: big machines and industrial chemistry instead of husbandry, and the farms on as large a scale as possible and monocultural, with just one crop or one kind of animal. Balanced diets in any one place can therefore be ensured only by mass imports. Labour - usually the most expensive input - must be cut to the bone and then cut again, with the workers paid as little as possible.

Finally, there must be maximal "value-adding" by processing, packaging and contrived exoticism, but above all by turning cheap yet good staples of the kind that have supported the great cuisines into meat for fast food. So we feed half the world's wheat to animals, and 80 per cent of the maize. But if something else should turn up that makes more money than food - for instance, biofuels - we'll grow that instead.

It works, does it not? While the food technologists and retailers have grown rich beyond all dreams of avarice, the masses have had, at least until recently, cheap food: it takes up just 8 per cent of the average Briton's income. Yet cheap food is an illusion. It is made to seem cheap by creative accountancy that ignores the vast quantities of oil needed, the collateral damage to soil, rivers, lakes, forests, wildlife, climate and, indeed, to human life, as well as the most blatant injustice as farmers across the globe are made bankrupt.

According to the UN, one billion people now live in urban slums worldwide; and most of the shanty-dwellers are former farmers or their immediate descendants and dependants. The multinationals assure us there are "alternative industries". No, there aren't. When and if there are alternatives, it may be sensible to encourage people to leave the land. Not until. And it's a big "if".

As long as GM was part of an economy and a morality that had the well-being of humanity at heart, it had the potential to become what Ivan Illich in the 1970s called "a convivial technology", truly improving the human lot. As things stand, it merely serves to consolidate the status quo: to strengthen the arm of the corporations, which alone will control the seed and the inputs that the new seed requires; and to promote all the agro-industrial strategies that are so obviously destructive.

To be sure, the biological risks of GM remain, and should not be underestimated; but given time, and due caution, they could have been minimised. Commerce, however, demands immediate results, such that organic farmers already find it hard to buy feed for their animals that is not made from GM maize or soya. Yet reports that all is safe in the world of GM technology are greatly exaggerated.

Nor is it true that it simply replicates the "horizontal" transmission of genes that occurs in the wild, and hence is "natural". Natural genes contain stretches of DNA known as "introns" that modify and regulate their function. Genetic engineers strip out the introns before they transfer them, to make life simpler. The difference could be significant, but we just don't know. I have yet to hear an advocate of GM technology even raise this issue.

Indeed, there has been so much hype and obfuscation in the promotion of GM - Prince Charles's recent warning about the looming environmental disaster aside - that it would be foolish to believe a word of it.

We have heard much, of late, of the "golden rice" made by Syngenta. It is fitted with a gene that produces carotene, which is the precursor of Vitamin A - the lack of which is a prime source of blindness among children worldwide. Therefore, Syngenta tells us, golden rice is a good thing - a sentiment echoed subsequently in the media and in the House of Lords by Dick Taverne.

But carotene is the yellowish pigment in green leaves (such as spinach) and in all yellow-orange roots and fruits (carrots and papaya among them) and is one of the commonest organic molecules in nature. Poor people do not need handouts from Syngenta. All they need is horticulture - which, before the days of corporate-owned monocultures of commodity crops, they had.

We are told that GM crops yield more, and that the technology's opponents are irresponsible. Yet yield is rarely what really matters: very few famines in modern history have been caused by an inability to grow enough food; it has always been secondary to wars and economic breakdown, often caused by the west's destruction of subsistence farming.

And anyway, the idea that GM crops can be relied upon to yield more than conventional crops is simply not true. Some GM crops do sometimes yield more than most standard crops in some circumstances and in some years; often they do not. In the long term, we have yet to see. The published results which seem to show that GM crops consistently outstrip their conventional counterparts are highly selective, with unfavourable results not made public.

More and more, we are urged to rely on the "objectivity" and unimpeachable integrity of science. But when science itself is up for sale, there is no court of appeal.

Colin Tudge is the author of several books about food and farming, including Feeding People Is Easy and So Shall We Reap.

This article was originally published in New Statesman.

On another note Greenpeace used to have a page on their site dedicated to buying non GM food products, clciking on the page brings this up:

The Guide was produced in 2003 as part of our campaign to remove GM ingredients from our food, allowing shoppers to see which products were GM-free and which ones weren't.

It was an enormous success and proved extremely popular. Covering a wide range of foods, including top brands and own-brands, products were colour coded to show whether your shopping trolley was free of GM ingredients or not.

As part of a massive consumer backlash against GM food, most supermarkets and food manufacturers stopped using GM ingredients in their food. In addition, subsequent EU legislation means that all products containing GM material need to be clearly labelled, which has made our Guide pretty much defunct.

That's not to say we need to be complacent about GM food though. Our position is that genetically modified organisms should not be released into the environment, full stop, so the continued presence of GM food in our shops (however clearly labelled) is an indication that GM crops are still being grown around the world. Not only that, but milk herds are still being fed with GM feed, so the only way to ensure your milk is GM-free is to buy organic.

To check out more on the Greenpeace site please check this out.

METALLICA

funnily enough i honestly thought this day would never actually come...

but METALLICA are good again!!!

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