Thursday, October 01, 2009

Chocolate cake such as for a birthday


Gently melt in pan 5 ounces of marge
1 tblspoon of syrup
6 ounces of icing sugar

2 round tblspoons coacoa
and mix
(set aside to cool)

beat up 3 eggs
mix with 8 ounces of flour

FINALLY mix two mixtures together
Put into 2 8 inch tins and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes
Tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow it is done.

FILLING - alternatives
Filling A:
1 table spoon of marge
ditto syrup
ditto cocoa
melt together and spread when cool

Filling B:
2 level tblsps of cocoa
1 tblspn of water
heat or mix together
beat together 2 ounces of butter
6 rounded tblspoons of icing sugar
mix with cocoa and water mixture

Improvement, Variation, double quantities

Gently melt in pan
11 ounces of marge
2 tblspoon of syrup
11 ounces of sugar (sugar is icing sugar throughout)

4 round tblspoons coacoa
and mix
(set aside to cool)

beat up 5 eggs
mix with 16 ounces of flour

FINALLY mix two mixtures together
Put into 2 8 inch tins and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes

Get someone to help clean up the bowls!

Tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow it is done.
Turn out onto a wire mesh with an air gap under it to cool.

Melt together:
3 ounces marge
12 ounces icing sugar
3 tablespoons coacoa
3 desert spoons milk
Melt together, leave to cool.
Stir before spreading.

Put the two cake halves together with fudge filling in the middle and on top.
Add candles.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bonkers Brown and Conniving Cameron

I can't bear to watch Bonkers Brown make an idiot of himself at the Labour Party conference today, however I would still trust him before Conniving Cameron any day of the week. The labour government have done all kinds of idiotic things over the last 10 or so years and even some evil things - the most evil of all being to invade Iraq. The labour government has done nothing to reduce the absurd amount of bureaucracy that I as a small business owner have to deal with, and the tax system is so complicated that no one can be really sure what a lot of it means without a court ruling. Political correctness hasn't just gone mad, its gone completely insane - for example a failure to distinguish between attacking someone's race (which is obviously abhorrent) and attacking people's beliefs (which is the foundation of freedom of speech). As usual, I will be voting Green in the general election (somebody's got to), but I will be hoping beyond hope that somehow the British people manage to see thru Cameron's PR machine. I sadly doubt we will... As a country that can't see the absurdity of having a foreign monarch as our head of state, what chance do we have?

The thing I find objectionable about Cameron is the pontificating. The same pontificating has been coming from other senior tories all this week. There seems to be a mood in the country that wants to replace the Brown government, and in our resignation that the only viable alternative is Cameron, sickening as this is, people will vote for him.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Torchwood: Children Of Earth reivew

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

This post assumes you have read all the regular reviews about this. I'm not trying to provide an overview, just adding some comments to what I have seen written elsewhere, such as: and and

What made CoE (Torchwood: Children Of Earth) interesting was that it confronted us with a whole series of related but different ethical questions, and attempted to contrast them from each other.

Under what circumstances is it ever acceptable to sacrifice a person's life to save others?
How about if that person was a child?
How about if people being sacrificed are choosing to make the sacrifice themselves?
Can it ever be ok to choose to make a sacrifice of someone else's life?
What if the number of lives sacrificed are very small and the number of lives saved are very big... could you not be persuaded to change your mind?
If you were saving all of humanity, how small would the number of lives sacrificed need to be before it became acceptable? Would 10% be acceptable? Or would it have to be less? ... Just 1 in a million... Just 12.... How about if it was just one life in exchange for everyone else? Is that still wrong? How about if it was just the stupid people who got sacrificed? Or how about if it was children that no one would miss?

When Jack walks into the Thames house building and confronts the 456, although he doesn't intend to do this, he effectively sacrifices the lives of (nearly) everyone in the building including his lover. This is contrasted with obsequiousness of the impotent British government. Although the ministers sitting around the cabinet crisis meeting are revealed to be self-serving, callous, and discriminatory against the disadvantaged, they get rewarded with this great "I told you so" moment when Jack's attempt at brinkmanship achieves nothing but loss of life. Being "un-killable" Jack cannot ever make the choice of sacrificing his own life. And in addition this aspect of his character brings with it the prospect that his moral actions are motivated from a very long term view. What might that be like? When he ultimately sacrifices his grandson what might allow him to be able to do that? I think most of us could not. Someone who lives (nearly) forever though is presumably accustomed to seeing his friends and family die.

The 456 mockingly points out how the infant mortality rate is 29158 deaths per day - that many children dying every day under the age of 1 year old. Most of these deaths are preventable and due to causes like malnutrition. If we take Jack's stance of "not one single child", an alien drug dealer might be excused for wondering why humanity are happy to put up with this daily sacrifice of children.

When Frobisher is told by the prime minister that he must relinquish his children in order to protect the public perception of the government's compliance to the demands of the 456, he concludes that it is better to sacrifice the lives of all his family, than to allow the 456 to use his children in the way they intend.

It became clear through the development of the conversation in the cabinet room that the truly appalling thing was not the difficulty of how to respond to the choice/threat being exerted by the 456, but rather the fact that the cabinet was colluding with the 456 to keep the whole matter secret. If the debate over how to respond to the 456 had been conducted in public rather than in the cabinet room, how would it have been different?

RTD is gently teasing us into appreciating the value of public and private information and into seeing the impossibility of putting a market value on life ("units"), the value of any life, the value of one life. The impossibility of answering any of these questions in the abstract. We can only ever answer them with the concrete choices that we make, and even then we must always doubt those choices.

CoE succeeded where much of previous Torchwood has not because it was great drama with believable character motivations (regardless of whatever else was or wasn't believable, when character motivations are believable it is not hard to suspend disbelief on other matters). That CoE was about an extra-terrestrial threat, and a group of established characters merely provided a convenient setting for a brilliant thought-provoking drama. This is the way round it should be. The contrivances were put in service of the drama, rather than the drama in service of the contrivance. When Russell T Davies gets this right, he is an outstanding dramatist - as was shown in the Christopher Eccleston series of Doctor Who, but sadly only rarely since then.

Found this today, which highlights the aspect of CoE that is our cultural "obsession with children". Thought it was interesting.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In the UK, more abuses of public money

Reference this BBC News item yesterday

If it was an MP abusing public money in this way there would be an outcry (as there has been over the last several weeks). But because it is traditional for the UK population to take it up the arse from the monarchy we just roll over and ask "which hole would you like next, Charles?"

An MP paying for his duck island out of expenses is thought to be a national scandal. But Charles paying £3million on things like his butlers and dressers is all just hunky dory.

I know, in terms of my friends in the UK, I might just as well talk to a wall. We'll all so brainwashed here with the royal family's PR machine.

No offence. I'm sure the man himself is no worse a human being than I am, although I doubt I would have cheated on a wife as attractive as Diana. I guess all that inbreeding loosened his marbles. But really that is all beside the point. The "good job" he is apparently doing could be done by someone electable and elected. (See: The Big Monarchy Campaign )

Monday, June 22, 2009

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway

For those of us who hadn't already heard this story and I was one of them until this morning (April 8, 2007 - 2 years ago now), as part of a social experiment, Joshua Bell played incognito in the subway and was largely ignored. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100. I posted this story here because it struck me it has some resonance with the point of the NotReallyRelevant project. (See:

Below is a longer version of the story story that has circulated via email. (See snopes: Snopes: Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway But the story checks out. You can read the full story as it was originally published in the Washington Post here: Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway, including video. Also the Washington Post have a channel on YouTube. A video to go with the story is here: YouTube video of Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway... that's the video I decided to embed above. The Washington Post's channel on YouTube is here.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

HORRIBLE HISTORIES - The 4 Georges: 'Born 2 Rule'

Clarification for anyone who gets their english georgian kings mixed up. Which George was which? ... This video should help you! The four Georgian kings sort it all out for us, by means of forming a boy band. This is just a tiny part of the terrific content from BBC's "Horrible Histories" season. Supposed to be for children, but I'm a lot older than that and it still teaches me a thing or two. For more similar's see: Horrible Histories Songs. They also have a channel on YouTube: Horrible Histories channel on YouTube. Or just search "Horrible Histories" on YouTube.

If you want to put place the 4 Georges on the royal family tree, this seems to do the job

... and for more information about the "Georgian" period of UK history, try this

"You had to do what we told you to, just because are blood was blue" ... nothing changed much since then. Join the "Big Monarchy" campaign on Facebook: Big Monarchy Campaign on facebook

Here is another good one - Henry VIII sings about what he did to each of his wives:

Add on - Who was Thomas Paine?

It's 200 years since the British-born "father of the American revolution" died. His words also helped shape modern Britain and France and yet few people in the UK know much about him - or maybe have not even heard of him.

See this article on BBC news or this one about Thomas Paine and this one about his revolutionary pamphlet called "Common Sense" both on WikiPedia.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Copyright violation, expenses claims, crooks and statistics.

"Copyright violation" otherwise known as "sharing" is the new frontier in equality of opportunity. Throughout human history groups of people in positions of power and in possession of wealth have used their power and wealth to keep control over their power and wealth.

Of course Apple don't want people to be able to modify their iPhones (see today's New York Times) because it sets them free from Apple's control over their invented market for iPhone apps.

Of course it is easy to point out the inconsistencies in the arguments of heroes like Pirate Bay but fundamentally there is something solid behind what they and many similars are doing. The issue is that when it costs nothing to provide someone with a copy of some digital information, how is it that you justify charging for it? How do you justify charging for something that costs nothing?

Of course credit where its due. Give unto Ceasar etc.

Of course it is right that music makers and all creative and productive people who are making the world a better place get rewarded for their creative and productive output. It is harder to see why Elton or Sting or Mick or Simon need my £ 1 pound per iTune download, when they are sitting on pots of money between £175 and £300 million each.

Meanwhile in the UK, elected members of parliament are being shamed into paying back money for thousands of pounds of questionable expense claim items one as much as £41,709. It isn't just one party. Pretty much across the board every elected MP in the UK parliament is having to pay back something... here are some leading conservative members of parliament with questionable expense claims. All of this only came to light because of new freedom of information legislation. Organisations like the Campaign for Freedom of Information kept pointing out that UK MPs had created legislation that forces disclosure of information by public authorities but then had excluded themselves from its remit - And we had to ask the question: on what grounds were they excluded? Freedom of information really gets to the heart of the matter here. Making information free has the effect of levelling the playing field between the poor and disenfranchised on the one hand and the rich and powerful on the other. In a way, what is known as "copyright violation" is really just another kind of freeing up of information, and the outcome of this kind of sharing of information points in the same direction as other kinds of freedom of information.

Stephen Fry is absolutely right that over claiming in the grey area of expense claims is not as important as so much else - not as important as who we're dropping bombs on or selling arms to, or what countries we are invading. However just because most people fiddle their expenses as long as they can get away with it, doesn't make it right. I don't expect politicians to behave any better than other citizens, but I don't think they should be allowed to behave any worse either.

As the Bernard Madoff saga continues to rumble on today the latest is that in the months leading up to his arrest he managed to squirrel away about $12 billion. Something for his family to fall back on after the shit had hit the fan I expect. Madoff was only able to get away with his massive frauds by virtue of his entitlement to keep information away from others.

This guardian article makes it clear that people in the higher echelons of society all have their snouts in the trough. BBC presenters, just as much as politicians. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that given the opportunity to make your own life better at the expense of others, most people will take it. Bankers like Madoff (and there have been several similar cases in recent weeks) are probably only different in that they have more opportunity to make bigger gains at the expense of others, than BBC presenters and politicians.

When times are good, people don't care so much - we all just get on with it. But in tough economic times like the ones we are going through, the selfishness of the affluent people starts to look rather more selfish than it otherwise would.

Less than two months has passed since Sir Fred Goodwin had one of his houses attacked. For those who didn't follow that, Sir Fred is the ex-boss of Royal Bank of Scotland who after managing to incur such enormous losses for his bank that they needed a government bailout, rewarded himself with a huge pension - something around $1.5 million dollars a year (which, since the bailout, is coming out of public money).

Tom Utley in the Daily Mail fails to understand that Fry's point is that lying in the service of warmongering is a worse thing to do than lying about an expense claim. I agree. This does not mean that fiddling your expense claims is ok. It just means that it is not as big a deal as lying in the service of taking our country to war.

I agree with Tom that a lie is a lie - a big lie or a small lie is still a lie. If it is a lie about WMD or a lie about how much rent you're paying its still a lie. However the consequences of a lie maybe that the UK goes to war, or the consequences maybe that Freda Bloggs MP bags a few extra thousand pounds of tax payer money. My thought would be (and I think this was Fry's point as well) that some lies are consequential and some lies are inconsequential. A similar point was made about Bill Clinton lying about not having sex with M.L. Some lies matter (more) and some lies don't (matter as much).

To reiterate my theme: throughout human history groups of people in positions of power and in possession of wealth have used their power and wealth to keep control over their power and wealth. Chief Executive pay, which has been rising steadily over the past decade, compared to everybody else, is just another example.

Meanwhile this is the state of the world...
According to Worldometers realtime statistics regarding the state of the world - you can check their sources -

  • in about 45 years the oil is going to run out, but we're going to have coal and gas for quite a while longer.

  • So far this year (as @ May 13, 2009) almost 17 million abortions, almost 3 million people have died from cancer.

  • So far this year (as @ May 13, 2009) 390,000 people have committed suicide.

  • Right now there are over a billion people with no access to safe drinking water.
These are just a few of the stats that caught my attention... visit the worldometers link above for more interesting statistics. I've no idea how accurate these numbers are, but I have no particular reason to doubt them.

So here is my question: What is important and what is not?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kirsten O'Brien Doesn't Get Topless (Big News)

Kirsten Obrien Amii Grove Topless

Kids TV presenter Kirsten O'Brien is way more media savy than the premise of the program suggests.
She expertly has concocted an hour long conceit about showing her breasts to the world without actually doing so.
Consequently the marketing opportunities for pictures of her breasts are 10 times the size they were yesterday.
And the lads mags can start to speculate about whether she will or won't.

Its a massive TEASE!

As the wisdom from Pooh bear reminds us, although hunny is very good, the moment just before you eat the hunny is even better.

Strangely the show was titled "Kirsten's Topless Ambition" when a much more obvious and appropriate title would have been "Kirsten's Naked Ambition". I'm guessing they thought that was too blatant. But in a show that is all about being Too Blatant, while at the same that show is itself being Too Blatant, it seems to me only fitting to have a title that is equally Too Blatant.

Today the student forums and discussion sites are therefore crammed full of chat about her.
Yesterday most of us had never heard of her.

Here are just a few examples:

The buzz about Kirsten O'Brien
... and more
... and more
... and more
... and more
... and more
... and more (including completely misleading headline)
... and more
... and more
... on and on and on and on and on.

(Even I'm doing it!)

Today everyone's talking about her!
What's worse from my point of view is that she has got me talking about her.

The whole premise of this show is wrong.
You don't get your tits out because you want to be famous.
You get your tits out because you want to show people your tits.
If Vogue magazine would allow me to show my body to the nation, I personally wouldn't hesitate.
My tragedy is that there is no market for pictures of my naked body.

Flirting on the edge of questions about sexual politics, celebrity and popular culture, the show pricks at all kinds of worrying cultural currencies.

The BBC web site programme notes start with
"Kirsten O'Brien is facing a huge decision" ... and this is where the con begins.
Before the programme has even begun, we are already being sold something which is not true.
The promo is sneaking in the idea that the decision is "huge" - and notice how that line slips by without really being questioned.
Actually the decision is trivial, and makes almost no difference to anything.

A much more interesting question is: how do you get BBC 3 THREE 3 to commission you to make a program about your own media profile, which thereby massively raises your media profile?

This really is a question for all of us, and one that Kisten clearly knows the answer to. All power to her! 8-)

What was really interesting about this show, apart from that Kirsten O'Brien didn't show us her breasts, was all the other things that she didn't show us:

She didn't show us the conversations that led up to her being commissioned to produce the programme: how did she wangle that? She didn't show us all the set up that went in to filming set-pieces like when she appears to walk in unaware on Amii Grove doing a topless shoot, like as though the people in the room weren't expecting her to arrive at precisely that moment.

We did briefly get to see an agent calling up the lads mags to see if they would be interested in her doing a "shoot" for them. But only briefly. For the most part Kirsten also didn't show us the conversations wherein she negotiated "interviews" with leading lights in the UK's celebrity fame game, but I can imagine how those conversations went...

"Hello, this is Peter Stringfellow"
"Hello, this is Kirsten O'Brien. You probably have never heard of me, but I have been a children's TV presenter for 10 years, and I have wangled an hour to boost my media profile on BBC Three at 9pm on a weekday. If you are willing to have an interview with me, then it will boost both my media profile and yours. How's about it?"

Similar conversations were doubtless had with the various other celebrity movers and shakers, that she did interviews with.

With the power of having a primetime slot on BBC TV to broadcast the interviews behind her, Kirsten had just the leverage that she needed. It was just the ticket. But the ticket wasn't to a show about radically changing her career path, although it was presented as such. It was a ticket to a show about doing precisely what she was doing. It was a ticket to get interviews with a load of leading lights in the UK's celebrity fame game. Those people are precisely the contacts that she needed to be speaking to to raise her profile, and now that she had some cameras on her, they were obviously all going to be happy to talk to her - because it would boost their own profile to do so as well.

Whether or not Kirsten realised it, she had at the moment she got the contract from BBC Three, already accomplished the objective that she had set herself.

For more of an analysis of this kind of deceit, you can read the post on the Ecstatic Union blog: "How did this blog become so popular?"

If you didn't see or hear about the program you could read this to get you up to speed:
Summary of the programme
or if you are living in a place where you can watch this:
Watch the programme on IPlayer - not available in all countries
(although the first five minutes is enough).

If you really want to see Kirsten O'Brien's boobs, I'm guessing this is about as close as you are likely to get

Addenda - 16 August 2009
Well what a surprise.
Kirsten O'Brien's flagging career has (as predicted) been given a boost by her 60 Minute Tease-athon.
All of a sudden she is popping up doing stuff like this:
Kirsten O'Brien one of two presenters at World Freerun Championship from London's Trafalgar Square

Addenda - 2 September 2009
Ah whaddaya know!
Since teasing us with the prospect her breasts, Kirsten's flagging career has really started to zing.
More exposure from BBC Three... someone on the inside? think you?
Kirsten O'Brien doing yet more "presenting".

Monday, March 30, 2009

2008 Latest Edition - Did You Know 3.0 - From Meeting in Rome this Year


Not quite sure what to say about this.
The stats quoted need verification and clarification (as statistics always do).
But just the idea that some of these stats might be true is worth some thought and investigation.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Madonna takes on AIDS


Monday, March 23, 2009

Dancing On Ice Final 2009


Dancing On Ice Final 2009 - Ray Quinn & Maria Flippiov - Favourite Dance And Bolero Dance

Full story from the BBC:

BBC News: Dancing On Ice Final 2009 - Ray Quinn & Maria Flippiov - Favourite Dance And Bolero Dance

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Google Maps Street View comes to the UK

Google Maps Street View comes to the UK.

Where I used to live with Dyfrig and Rachel above the chemist and opposite the NatWest on Great Portland Street. 8-) ... Funny old world.

Drag the map for a 360 view of the street.

Click the arrows pointing up and down the street to move around at street level.

View Larger Map

Exercise for the reader... go take a walk around regent's park!

And where I used to live with Vip - just by the bridge that is down the quay in the distance. Where Pierce Brosnan as 007 adjusted his tie while driving a motor boat under water.

View Larger Map

... And while we're about it, where I used to work in San Francisco.

View Larger Map

... And where I used to live with Agnes and Jim

View Larger Map

Global crisis 'to strike by 2030'

Prof Beddington will tell the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference today that a the world is heading for a global crisis by 2030 if action isn't taken now to prevent it. Food and energy and water shortages, rising population predicted to exceed 8 billion and all of it exacerbated in unpredictable ways by global climate destabilisation.

Well nobody say he didn't warn us!

The full story from the BBC is here: Global crisis 'to strike by 2030'

This is the accompanying picture that the BBC is showing along side this story...

I'm not sure how the picture is representative of a "global crisis" but I thought I would include it.

You can read about Prof Beddington's appointment as UK science advisor here: Prof Beddington's appointment as UK science advisor.

He is a member of Imperial College, London University.

Find out more about the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference here and a rival Sustainable Development 09 conference here.

On a related note, The Hunger Project has been working to end (not merely reduce but end) areas of chronic persistent hunger in the world for the last 30 or so years. In contrast to working to alleviate famines when they strike (useful and necessary work, but not work that provides a sustainable long-term solution to the problem of hungry people), there approach has always been oriented to developing long-term sustainable solutions by partnerships of local people and global investors - providing "opportunity" rather that "aid".

A partner organisation "Results" is working to create the political will to end hunger and poverty. Those who take Prof Beddington's warning seriously today, would do well to support the work of Results and The Hunger Project.

Polar bears and dogs playing

The other side of nature from buffalo, lions and crocodiles fighting each other.

This shows footage of polar bears and husky dogs or wolves playing together. Polar bears are sometimes seen to be affection towards husky dogs and wolves and even cuddle them.

Almost as though they think of them a bit like pets.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lions vs buffalo vs crocodiles - a three-way fight

A three-way fight between a pride of lions, a herd of buffalo, and 2 crocodiles at a watering hole in South Africa's Kruger National Park while on safari.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Art and Science of Moving Rocks

Wally Wallington has obviously devoted a lot of his life to the art and science of moving heavy lumps of rock in all dimensions and all situations.

He truly has turned his chosen subject into a work of majestic art... almost a ballet.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Roller coaster greater than vertical drop (UK)

Please no one ever ask me to go on this! 8-)

Full story is here: Roller coaster greater than vertical drop

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Still the wrong side of my first billion

Another BBC news item caught my attention today.

See: Bill Gates back on top as the world's richest man

Apparently he has assets of around 40 billion US dollars.

Meanwhile I'm still the wrong side of my first billion - but I'm enjoying the journey! 8-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Woolworths becomes Wellworths

A news item on BBC web site caught my attention today... see: A Woolworths store which closed when the firm collapsed has been reopened under the name Wellworths.

The personal note here, is that Dorchester referred to in this news item is the town I grew up in, and where I have moved back to live.

Those of you not from the UK may not have caught the passing of the great british retailing institution that is "Woolworths", so the summary version is that a retail store that just couldn't quite get its head around modern retail trends, and then lost its supply of credit as the crunch crunched, collapsed earlier this year and high streets all over the UK lost a bit of their heart.

Now people have all sorts of opinions about "Woolies", but some of us liked buying our toy daleks and astonishing cheap mugs and garden sheers there.

So from where I stand this is a good news story on all fronts: the difference that individuals can make when they simply refuse to take the accept "the inevitable", the courage of local entrepreneurship, resilience in the face of the global financial crisis, people acting locally and on a small scale able to inspire all.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Making cars aerodynamic - why didn't regular car manufactures think of that?!

Hope for the future:

Making cars aerodynamic - why didn't regular car manufacturers think of that!?

If you're like me, you may be wondering who the manufacturer of the white egg-shaped pod-like car shown on BBC's Odd box today is. Well I did some hunting around and found it...

In the light of sharp falls in car production here in the UK and car plants facing the possibility of closure today , but also across the globe as it faces its current financial melt-down, innovative manufacturers are likely to be the ones who do best in the long run, and the car companies who have been kept in the pockets of the oil companies promoting petrol gasoline as the only viable automotive fuel will fall aside as well they deserve to, stifling innovation as they do and have done.

Meanwhile at they have been building fully electric cars (as well as some hybrids I think) and although they initially are only accepting down-payments from people living in California, they plan to make their products available across the USA and the entire globe as soon as they can manage to.

Amazingly the Aptera, which looks a bit like a small star trek shuttle craft, can be charged up by plugging it in to a regular mains socket!

Apparently about half of an average cars energy is used pushing air out of the way at a speed of 55mph. With a low drag coefficient of 0.15, the Aptera 2e realizes less drag than a cycling superstar such as Lance Armstrong on a ten speed bike! You can drive about 100 miles on a single charge without recharging for about $0.50 worth of electricity.

Link to Aptera manufacturer's web site... Make cars aerodynamic - why didn't regular car manufacturers think of that!?

See Aptera test drive on

Plane-car article

The organisation "Better Place" is mapping a global plan for car charging stations

"Better Place" is looking to build an electric car network using technology available today. Sustainable transportation, global energy independence and freedom from oil.

"Better Place" is just beginning to build its first prototype battery-changing stations in countries like Israel, Denmark and Japan. It hopes to be a critical link in the evolution of the electric-car market.

To go to Shai Agassi's Better Place, click here

New York times article on Shai Agassi and Better Place - you may need to create a free NY Times account to access this link.

Regretting our pass mistakes:

Who killed the electric car, and why did they do it?

Who killed the electric car, latest trailer