Friday, 29 February 2008

Eco towns...or 'do as I say, not do as I do'...

The Labour proposal to build new eco-towns is laughable. What's the point if the rest of the country is full of energy guzzling housing, antiquated or external fuel sources (and I include nuclear in that description), inefficient public transport, overcrowded road networks, plastic bags and standby buttons? Talk about shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted! In a market where house prices are inflated to the point the next generation in this country have little hope of owning a home, let alone worrying whether the rooftiles are sustainable is a bit like offering cake instead of bread. Not to mention the fact that these towns are going on brownfield sites (like old hospitals and foot and mouth cattle pits...nice, you wouldn't want your kids digging any of that lot up in their sandpit would you?).
And who will live in these towns, will they be green too? Will there be a strict code of conduct? Lights out at nine pm, no plastic toys, biodegradable bicycles only, no imported lettuce?

E-day passed by without so much as a flicker of good-intent on the national grid-o-meter - there is still tonnes and tonnes that could be done in educating and changing lifestyles rather than embarking on a programme of vanity-building in places no one wants to live.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Runways and referendums...

If you were watching The Daily Politics on BBC2 today you would have noticed that there were protests today at Westminster. One on the roof about airport expansion and a march for a referendum on the European Treaty.
One way to reduce carbon emmissions is to travel less.
Planes release lots of CO2 (amongst other gases and stuff)high up in the atmosphere, pretty much where you least want greenhouse gases to be. To fill a plane up with people you have to get them from their house to the plane and, while the notion of everyone walking or cycling round the M25 to Heathrow is rather appealing, I am pretty certain that a lot more CO2 is burnt getting them there. I still think the best bet is to reduce air flight as much as possible and encourage a better rail network feeding into Europe because less CO2 will be used getting people to local train stations than a centralised (southern!) airport.
Logically, if we really want to stop the rise in CO2 in the future, stop building larger and larger airports, stop building wider and wider roads and stop putting stand by buttons on power consuming equipment.
A referendum on Europe? Regardless of whether this is a treaty or constitutes a change of constitution it does feel like the general public is being sidelined by parliament about whether we have any say over what happens to us in the wider context of Europe. Trust, once lost, is always harder to regain.
Even if a public vote isn't necessary in this case and this treaty is simply a 'new improved lite' version of the constitution, a little more effort spent on explanation of the treaty and what it actually means for us all, wouldn't go amiss.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

12 day half term and south east gridlock...

Why do teachers need so many training days and why do training days never coincide with all the schools in the area but are tagged on to various holidays regardless of what other schools may or may not be doing? I've just finished a 12 day half term because the kids are in different schools and if you are a working parent childcare must be a huge headache! (I know I'm going to get it in the neck about how hard done by teachers are, the long hours they work, the kids they have to deal with, targets and assesments they have to meet....) Getting the kids to school is great fun in the south east now, roll on all these new Thames Gateway developments... loads more cars on the road, loads more congestion, loads more CO2! And no, before you say it, car sharing will not work. For a start, a lot of people are on flexi or shift work and not everyone wants to spend the first half hour of the morning with 'that bloke with the nervous cough from human resources who just happens to live half a mile away and never pays for the petrol, ever ...', most people are trying to get kids to baby care/school/grandparents and negotiate the endless supply of speed cameras, variable or otherwise that presumably prop up the government's road widening scheme. This sounds really ranty - you'd never guess I've got a cold! (I've obviously made up the guy from resources before you start wondering!)
This morning was like a scene from Doctor Who, everyone trapped on motorways going nowhere.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Sci-fi and space exploration blog back up...

Oola's sci-fi blog now has a new home at

Attila the Hun...

Watched the interesting mini-film about Attila the Hun last night, if you missed it you can still find on the BBC Iplayer. (Rory McCann as a six foot six Attila) There was a lot of blood and thunder re-enactment but not much in the way of socio-political context other than that he really annoyed the Romans. I would have like to have seen a bit more about the rise of the Hun empire. Whenever I hear the name Attila, I am reminded of the poet Attila the Stockbroker, you can find his work at