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We have a plastic problem Or let’s start with 1 thing #startwith1thing

24 Jan

By 2050, the volume of plastic in our oceans will have surpassed the volume of fish…(USA TODAY Article)

image

I’ll say that again: In 35 years time, there will be more plastic (that is definitely not supposed to be there) in our oceans than there will be fish (who definitely are supposed to be there).

If you ever encounter anyone who says humans haven’t really had too detrimental an impact on this planet, write them this fact down on a piece of paper, wrap it lovingly around a housebrick and beat them around the head with it until they fully appreciate the error of their ways.

It gets better, this estimate comes with the staggering qualification that it is based on humans not increasing the amount of plastic pumped into the oceans yearly. Already, there is a concentrated patch of plastic waste in the Pacific that covers at least (at least!) 700 000 square kilometres (Km) and that many researchers claim covers a space closer to 15 000 000 square Km. In short, we have a plastic problem in our oceans.

It’s quite easy to glaze over when big issues like the environment are discussed. More times than I could count, I’ve heard the reasoning: ‘what can I do? If big corporations and governments won’t curb their polluting, what impact can I have?’

While I have a little sympathy for this thinking and while it’s certainly a fact that big industry, corporations and governments need to act (and act quickly) to address the dire issues facing our environment, there remain things that we can do as individuals to help.

The recent documentary, Racing Extinction, showcased how by ‘starting with 1 thing’ individuals can make a huge difference to our environments. Check out the site here: Racing Extinction

One of the big plastic problems in our oceans comes from plastic microbeads, the tiny globes found in a range of products from tooth pastes, to detergents and face washes. Very few sewage plants were designed to filter these beads from waste water meaning about 95% will eventually reach our oceans. Once in the oceans, these microbeads are eaten by unsuspecting fish and, ultimately, end up entering our food chain. Although we already know this plastic is having a huge impact on marine life we can only guess at what effect it might have on us with increased exposure through the fish we eat.

Many countries (and some States in the US) have already moved to ban all products containing plastic microbeads and it is thankfully likely that a worldwide ban will be forthcoming over the next 5 years as many more wake up to the damage they cause. Until this ban comes in, why not start with 1 thing today and go through your products to see if you have any thst contain plastic microbeads and throw them out. In future, you could try and avoid products that contain them as there will always be alternatives.

Find out more about plastic in our oceans: The Story of Stuff – Ban the beads

I’ve also written this related post on: Why balloon releases are dumb

And this one: On why you should boycott captive Dolphin swims

Part of the reason the oceans matter to me are incredible experiences like this: On swimming with Manta Rays in the Maldives

It’s better to light a single candle than to stand and curse the darkness.

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A White Flag

5 Feb

Yesterday, I discovered that Chris Huhne’s son, Peter, hates his Dad. Out of all the terrible things we now know about Chris Huhne, the fact his Son hates him is perhaps the most trivial. Trivial perhaps, but it’s a fact that all the News outlets felt the need to run with on their respective front pages. Why?

We’re a warlike species, we humans, it’s seldom enough to beat an opponent. No, victory is not enough, all too often we feel the desire to destroy our opponents. Huhne’s opponents had soundly exposed their target, but it wasn’t enough, every aspect if his life had to be picked apart and destroyed. Welcome to the age of escalation.

Something has got to give.
The
Recently, I found I had an enemy. My enemy felt so threatened that I might expose his secrets that, without thinking any more than a matter of minutes, took it upon himself to try and destroy one of the things in my life that means the most to me: my career.

I didn’t know anything damaging about my attacker at the time other than the fact their behaviour towards people is as atrocious as behaviour they so readily condemned in others. They did not seek clarity about what I planned to expose, but hey I guess facts don’t matter before you try to senselessly destroy a man’s life.

Facts matter to me.

People matter to me.

If me and you have an argument, on or offline, I will stand my ground, but it’s never personal. If the only place I have to go is to seek to destroy your life, then I’ll stop way short. Why? I have to look at myself in the mirror every day and when I do I want to know that the person staring back isn’t the sort of person who destroys the lives of others on a whim, whether to prove a point or to protect my secrets. I am better than that.

This last week is the closest I have ever come to abandoning my ideals in this area. In fact had I not read those horrific texts between Chris and Peter Huhne then perhaps this would have been a lot different post. Just because others have lower standards than my own I will not be lowering mine to compete. I have never been, nor ever will be, in the business of destroying people, even when they afford me no such courtesy.

So, this is not an escalation, but I hope my attacker reads it, because this is a white flag. You win. I just can’t compete with the extents you are so happy to go to to destroy an enemy.

If you are reading this, please know: I don’t hate you. My experience is, life is far too short to waste on hate. No, I don’t hate you, I pity you and I forgive you. I hope you have taken whatever you expected to get from the pain you have caused me and that it was worth it.

It will always strike me as sad that you didn’t spend the time checking out whether the person whose life you were so hell-bent on destroying was someone who you’d have otherwise probably got on well with. So, so sad.

What brave, brave heroes the Left hold up as their atheist Gods.

This is the last I will say on the matter.

Abuse of Power

28 Sep

When the President does it, that means that it’s not illegal.

The abhorrent words of former President of the United States, Richard Nixon, they seem to be a rather fitting opening to this post.

There are two sayings that I’ve always appreciated:

‘With great power comes great responsibility’ – Voltaire

Power can come in many different guises. The power of a relationship dynamic, that which a manager has over their subordinates or even the power a well known public figure has over those who look up to them. I have always felt quite strongly that any powers should never be abused, I think we can all agree on that, right? As an ideal, not abusing one’s position of power seems to be a winner.

My personal hate is Men who use their power – my experiences teach me it is predominantly men, though Women are no less capable of this –  to behave sexually inappropriately towards others. The range of sexual inappropriateness spans from rape at one extreme, through groping to unwanted verbal advances at the other; I don’t really see grey areas, wherever it falls on the spectrum, it’s all wrong and very few things fill me with such rage as hearing accounts from female friends of this happening to them. I’ve stood up in the past and defended those on the receiving end of this, put myself at risk to challenge vile behaviour and it’s something I’d like to think I would always do…but it’s not that easy.

This brings me onto my next quote that I’ve always appreciated:

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the Watchmen?)

The moral arbitrators walk amongst us these days.  They pass judgement of every aspect of our reality: they inform us what we should be thinking and who we should support; we empower them with our time, our respect and, often our adulation and, in return, they tell us what’s what. The glare from the spotlight of scrutiny that they shine so mercilessly on others is so bright that rarely does the mirror turn back to face them…this doesn’t last forever, sometimes the mirror does indeed catch a glimpse:

“I have personally witnessed a prominent person getting disturbingly touchy-feely with women and getting away with it, despite the knowledge of nearly everyone who knows him. What’s more I’m willing to bet that you know who I am talking about from just reading the previous sentence.” – Source: Michael W Story

I wholeheartedly support Michael’s post and it’s sentiment. I share his sense of disbelief that something so widely known has been so easily accepted amongst a group of people who would challenge it with all their efforts if it was encountered elsewhere.

We watch the Watchmen.

We should not build a cult of silence around these people, this person, because of who they are. Sexual Harassment is wrong, pure and simple! It doesn’t matter who the person is doing it, in the eyes of the law we are all equal. Richard Nixon still broke the law, him being President of the US didn’t mean anything.

I sincerely hope the women who have suffered at the hands of this person come forward and speak out. I am confident there are witnesses a plenty, credible people who will support your accounts. Infact, Michael himself states:

For all the fact that this has pissed me off a huge amount, I am wary of naming the offending person. He’s someone with a lot of clout, someone who could make life very difficult for anyone who identified him. I feel it’s up to someone whom he has victimised to make that call, but if that’s you and you are reading this then I will absolutely back you up.

My guess, like michael’s, is that no one will. That is perhaps understandable, but unless you challenge the bully, the behaviour is only likely to continue. If you speak out, others will probably follow. You can stop this happening again.

Read More

Carman Gets Around: My Busy Weekend (Point 3)

Tessera: Bullies and Predators 

Hayley Stevens: Gossip, Skeptics and the Mystery Man

Because the Drugs (Legislation) Don’t Work

11 Sep

I still sometimes wake in cold sweats. I am there again and it is happening.

Late at night, toally unprovoked, the first attack from behind, knocks me to the floor. A large group, all female, all wasted on alcohol and desperate for destruction. I remember it, all too vividly, I will never forget. They probably were not bad women on the whole, it’s all too easy to demonise our attackers, but they were deeply under the influence of alcohol and they felt invincible. I did not (could not?) fight back. They left their mark…

I’m not the only one, take a look at this picture. These injuries:

All these injuries were caused by people under the heavy influence of alcohol. Let’s put an end to this! Let’s make alcohol illegal. It’s massively addictive, contributes to public disturbances and plagues poorer communities. It’s time that stops…

At this point a large proportion of my readers, I hope, are wondering what’s going on. Logic should have kicked in. I’m deliberately using emotion and shocking images to manipulate your thinking and bring it round to mine. It’s a very simple trick and it is easily combatted with critical reasoning: Although alcoholism is a problem in the UK (and worldwide), on the whole, people have a sensible relationship with alcohol. Alcohol did and does cause the things I described, but you should not legislate based on emotion and isolated incidents. That would be really stupid, right? Prohibition of things that are readily available in society is always ineffectual and destined to fail. Right?

Here’s a picture of Leah Betts:

In 1995, this picture outraged the nation. It prompted a sit-down with my parents to warn me about THOSE Drugs. For many in the anti-drugs lobby in the UK, Leah’s picture is enough to vindicate their point that all drugs are bad and all drug use ends in the death of the user.

A single picture proves nothing. This picture of Leah Betts proves nothing, other than life is perilously fragile and the tragic death of a young girl is A Tragedy. It is worth noting that despite common perceptions that Leah died from taking Ecstasy, in fact her death was caused by drinking too much water, which diluted her bloodstream. But, even if she had died from an Ecstasy tablet, you can’t (and shouldn’t) legislate based on this. We should expect and demand evidence-based practice and pictures of dead girls, while shocking and terribly sad, are no aid to critical reasoning. It’s a very simple trick. It’s okay to talk about it, here’s why…

In 2009, the Transform Drugs Policy Foundation calculated/estimated/made-up, the cost of UK enforcement of drugs legislation to £16 Billion. We are paying for that. You, Me and Everyone else in the UK, we’re all paying for that. Part of paying for something is you get to have a voice in how that money is spent.  I can think of a lot better uses for that money and we need more than shock tactics and propaganda if we are to have a sensible, adult discussion on legislation that costs our country vast sums of money to enforce every year.

I’m not going to labour the point on why the, so-called, War on Drugs is dumb, there are far more interesting and educated folk who’ve done that better than I ever could (see further reading), but to summarise:

  • Most of the problems with illegal drugs stem from their illegality not individual substances;
  • In about 60 years of activity, the anti-drugs lobby and enforcement activity worldwide has summarily failed to reduce the number of users and the availability of drugs in society;
  • While Alcohol and Nicotine remain legal, any moral argument based on overall public harm is at best mis-guided and, at worst, deceiptful and morally bereft;
  • Drugs legislation often criminalises those who otherwise lead totally moral and law-abiding lifestyles; and
  • At a time of economic decline the War on Drugs is costing us all a small fortune and achieving nothing.

…But I’m more concerned about one of the by-products of this mis-guided War. Unless we learn from history, it repeats, cliched and entirely true; prohibition does not work. There is always a response.

Over the last few years there has been an alarming rise in the variety and widespread availability of totally legal ‘Research Chemicals’, often known as Legal Highs. These highs come in a variety of shapes and sizes: pills, powders, smokes; all attractively packaged and branded with names such as Herbal Haze (smoke), black mamba (smoke), Columbiana (powder) all totally unregulated available on the UK highstreet and over the internet. What is more, I am reliably informed, many of these Research Chemicals are as strong and, in many cases, stronger than illegal alternatives. Let me say again: no one is regulating this absolutely vast industry that must be worth millions every year.

I am also reliably informed that there are massive inconsistancies between products, even those branded the same way, and I have heard from numerous friends that this has lead them to have quite negative, unpleasant and frightening experiences using such substances. One friend reported smoking a substance, branded as anhilation, which produced a near psychosis, short term loss of some muscle control and days of detachment afterwards. I have a genuine concern that it is a matter of time before people start dying as a result of these substances. But…

Further prohibition is not the answer. It can’t be. Prohibition is the root cause at the heart of the market for research chemicals. Prohibition is no longer an adequate response to the problem. If the government bans one batch of chemicals, within a matter of days a new batch will appear and there is no forseeable end to that. The war on drugs has ultimately created the problem that it was designed to tackle.

We need a serious discussion about drugs legislation in the UK (and worldwide), we need evidence-based legislative practice, logic and less fear. It’s another cliche, but sometimes it’s better the devil you know and we have had many decades to scientifically study substances like cocaine Sulphate, THC and MDMA, so we know their effects on the human body. This is important: we know, quite accurately, their relative levels of harm to society. We know precious little, often nothing at all, about these research chemicals. The clue is in the name.

I believe, that we need to spend more money on dealing with the problems of addiction and stop spending any money on fighting a war that was lost sometime around 1960. Alternatively, we can continue with the cycles of restriction, control and prohibition towards emerging substances; we can continue pushing users towards newer and increasingly dangerous substances, the long term effects of which we can only begin to guess at. If we do this and maintain the status quo, it is my belief that people will start dying. As a society, it’s not too late, we can prevent that happening.

We live in an age requiring that we step out from beneath the fear around drugs thrust on us all by the national media and recognise that legalisation, for a huge swathe of reasons, is the right, the moral and the only option for addressing this hugely important social issue.

Please Note

Writing a post in favour of the decriminalisation of drugs is not the same as advocating the use of drugs. Please bear that in mind, I really don’t care either way whether you do or don’t use drugs (past/present/future). If you are going to read this and suggest that I am advocating drug use, then you’re an idiot.

Also, if you’re going to tell me about your brother/auntie/uncle/cousin who got addicted to Heroin/Cocaine/Crystal Meth and try and use that as the basis for a counter-argument, you will have already failed. So, let me save you the time.

And finally, Something to think about

There are many interesting books (and many not-so) on the history of drugs. Amongst my favourites is The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge by Cultural Anthropologist Jeremy Narby. Narby makes the controversial suggestion that human intelligence and language, The very building blocks of the first human societies, arose from the ritual use of hallucinogenic plants and roots. He makes a fascinating case and it is well worth a read.

Few people have ever summed up the war on drugs better than the genius that is Bill Hicks:

Further Reading

Transform Drugs Policy Foundation: Alternative world Drugs Report

Professor David Nutt – Evidence not Exaggeration Blog

Moron Watch: Category – War on Drugs

Esquire: Legalize Everything

Huffington Post: To win the War on Drugs follow the states

So, you know the drill, if you don’t like these thought, stick around, I have plenty of others.

America, vote Mitt Romney (if you want endless war and fiery death).

2 Sep

This week, I remembered that there is a wealth of difference between UK and US politics.

Picture the scene…

The leader of the main opposition party takes the stage for his keynote at the party conference and promises the party faithful that, if he is elected Prime Minister, there will be:

  • More war;
  • Less global stability;
  • Abortion will be made illegal; and
  • An isolationist approach to trade and imports/exports

There’s no way that would happen and, if it did, there is little hope that politician would ever be anything other than in opposition. Mitt Romney may be the next President of the United States and that’s the basis of his election campaign.

Watch Romney’s speech from the Republican Party Convention:

I found the moronic chanting of “U-S-A” an interesting touch.

Seriously America, you can’t honestly think this guy’s a viable alternative to Barack Obama. Mitt Romney strikes me as a rather venomous man, but here’s what his vague speech seemed to promise if he wins:

  • Romney will have America back to being seen as bully of the world in no time. Obama has said sorry once too often for Mitt’s liking, there’ll be no more apologising and Romney has a plan to create some awesome new situations to not be sorry for.
  • You’ll be going to war with Iran over their ‘nuclear weapons programme;’
  • You’ll be going to war with Syria…reason will be found at a later date;
  • Relations will be deliberately be soured with Russia by adopting a much less flexible approach with the Kremlin. Obama has been too soft there, apparently;
  • Not content with pissing off Russia, Romney also has a bone to pick with China whose loan of $1 Trillion now basically underpins the US economy;
  • He will save the State of Israel from the ‘wheels of the bus’ that he is certain President Obama has thrown them under; and
  • When not busy antagonising other superpowers and bombing small, Muslim countries back into the stone age, Mitt is committed to the criminalisation of abortion in the US, because all life is sacred…well all life except for the lives of those people in aforementioned countries that he will flatten.

It goes on, but it’s not all bad…in between all the war and infringements on basic human rights and freedoms, Uncle Mitt’s going to create a lot of jobs. He doesn’t really state how, exactly, these jobs will be created, but create them he will.

There was a single moment of praise for Obama, for the assassination of Osama Bin Laden…there is a cheer and chanting… Please. Don’t. Let. Them. Win

Political satire must be difficult in the US! I sat through a lot of the Republican Party speeches not entirely convinced that I wasn’t in fact watching a heavy-handed political satire. Mitt Romney strikes me as little more than a very sinister parody, but this is no joke, he might win in November’s US Election. That misguidedly dangerous fool might be the next President,

America doesn’t need Mitt Romney and the world certainly doesn’t need Mitt Romney.

Think of it like this, a vote for:

Probably leads to a future that looks like this:

So yeah, vote Mitt Romney: vote for the destruction of the environment, for religious intolerance, and for worldwide belligerence with massive helpings of war and death…

Alternatively, use your common sense, say no to the Republican morons. Vote for Barack Obama in the November 6th Elections. He’s not Mitt Romney!

On Self-Policing Society (Or on being failed by Warwickshire Police)

26 Aug

Take a look at the fire that I’ve used as the featured image for this post. What you’re looking at is two living Trees and someone’s fence going up in flames, at it’s height the flames reached about 15 meters into the air. This took place on Tuesday 14th August at 7:55pm. The fire was on  a piece of council-owned land in Rugby, between the roads of Wentworth and Saunton and less than 20 meters away from the bottom of my garden. I personally witnessed two youths start this fire and reported as much to both Warwickshire Fire Services  and Warwickshire Police who, despite the fact, chose to do nothing…

I used to have raging arguments with my Dad. He, like his father before him, had grown up in a community that policed itself. In the little mining communities of Wales and Kiveton Park, 10 miles outside Sheffield, as a rule, youths didn’t go around in large groups causing mayhem. If they did, it would not be the local bobby who was called! No, the community dealt with their own. It was truly self-policing; the ring leaders would be singled out and introduced to the ‘fear of God’ and the problems went away. We call this vigilantism today and it’s frowned upon in polite society; I’ve always believed in the rule of law, that self-policing is too wide open for abuse to be tolerated and that we should trust in a police force and legal system that we pay a vast whack of our taxes to maintain. On the 14th of August 2012, I witnessed and reported a serious act of arson close to my property and the law, I’d put so much faith in for so long, failed me, failed my family and the things I’ve worked hard to have.

Me and Dad fought when he extolled the virtues of a self-policing society, but he sagely warned, ‘that’s fine, trust in the police, but what will you do when the people and things you care about are threatened and the police aren’t there, won’t help. Will you stand up and protect it yourself?’ I honestly believed that he was wrong, that would never happen so it was pointless even considering. I’m considering it now…You see, last night I witnessed the same youths responsible for the fire, throwing stones and eggs at moving cars, causing several to swerve dangerously. Again, this was reported to Warwickshire Police and again Warwickshire Police, who at least had the decency to show up this time, did nothing.

Am I being naive? Are arson and endangering people’s lives no longer crimes?? Did I miss that memo?

It hasn’t just been the arson that that I’ve witnessed or the reckless endangering the lives of drivers, no this has been going on for months now. A large glass ashtray smashed upon our patio and narrowly missing our glass patio table, our garden has been repeatedly strewn with rubbish, broken CDs, DVDs while the youths consistently use vile and threatening language against myself and my wife. All these things have been reported to Warwickshire Police who have done nothing despite the fact that the behaviour clearly continues to escalate, taking more and more violent and destructive forms with each passing day. Warwickshire Police have failed us with their disinterest and ineffectual policing. So what now…

I’m considering my Dad’s words like never before:

but what will you do when the people and things you care about are threatened and the police aren’t there, won’t help. Will you stand up and protect it yourself?

I think I already have my answer…

I will continue to use this post to detail further escalations of their behaviour, hopefully, if nothing else, it may shame our local police force in to action before someone gets seriously hurt.

Note on Naming and Shaming  

I have so far resisted naming, shaming and posting the pictures that I have of the youths involved, but this may change if there is continued escalation.

The Prince is Naked. Please don’t look.

22 Aug

Hands up who wants to see Prince Harry’s cock?

Just joking.

It’s not that kind of blog. But…

I bet a lot of you would quite like to see those naked pictures of Prince Harry and the lovely, lovely girls. It will not matter whether the UK media decide to honour the Royal Family’s request to not publish the pictures, many of you will see those pictures anyway. This fact is largely the fault of the Royal’s themselves, as the brilliant Robin Bogg put it:

https://twitter.com/robinbogg/status/238309391806369792

I woke up this morning not really thinking about Prince Harry’s knob and here I am 10pm writing a blog about it. Well done the Royals on missing the point and calling upon the Lawyers before you call on the Public Relations People. So…

Should the UK media honour the Royal Families wishes not to publish the pictures? No, they should not.

On another note

I like Prince Harry. I liked him before, I like him more now. He”s human, he’s flawed and, best still, he’s really shit at hiding it.

If we have to have a monarchy, let’s at least allow it to contain humans who come equipped with foibles, vices and demons; it beats the regimented tradition and stuffiness that seems to typify the vast majority of the Royals. Good on you Harry, you’ll drag the Monarchy kicking and screaming into the 21st century one picture of your cock and one spliff at a time.

To all the people moaning about the money being spent being Tax Payers…Really? The vast sums of money that the Royals piss away on a plethora of entirely useless and unnecessary junk, houses, boats and God knows what else; I’m kinda glad at least a little bit of that money is being used so that Prince Harry can have his end away in Las Vegas.

Anyway, lots of great Tweets on this topic today, here are some of my favourites:

https://twitter.com/fleetstreetfox/status/238323315733823488

https://twitter.com/fleetstreetfox/status/238333201565769728

https://twitter.com/karlminns/status/238259158753898497

https://twitter.com/NicDaviesUley/status/238388399298469888

https://twitter.com/richquick/status/238774839966572544

https://twitter.com/psyphour/status/238748273886769153

In short: Bad PR for the Royals and Good PR for the Royals or at least Harry, who is basically doing what most of us would do if we were him. 

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