Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What a Waste

Way to go the Women’s Institute. They’ve started a campaign to reduce packaging on goods in supermarkets. The amount of rubbish wrapped around a lot of the things we buy is becoming so ridiculous you’d think that the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) was never brought into force.
This group of women in the past (or even today) were seen as middle class conservatives who were good at baking and making jam. However, in the last few years in particular, they have thrown off their stuffiness and shown that they have a very good social conscience. Their nude photos for charity, and their public berating of Tony Blair have shown they are also a force to be reckoned with.
Let’s hope that their new found notoriety helps bring this important waste problem to wider public notice and more people force the removal of all this useless packaging.
When a waste tax was brought in Germany some years ago and consumers were being charged for disposing of their waste many simply unwrapped their shopping in the store and left the packaging for the supermarket to pay for its disposal. It did not take long for the message to get across.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

So Why don't the Scots Support England in the World Cup?

it is just a little sad to listen to the moanings of the English media, mainly tabloids, at the fact that Scots refuse to support England's bid to win the World Cup.
It does of course force us Scots to ask questions of ourselves:
Q. do Scots really hate the English?
A. No (well some do, but it's usually a sad individual who hates anybody)
Q. Do we really not want them to win anything?
A. if truth be told I think most Scots don't really care that much ... however ...
in 1966, when England did win the World Cup I was a boy of 12, I remember many Scots people watching the game and supporting England; all seemed happy enough when they won. What we did not know at the time was the unrelenting triumphalism within the English media that would ensue from then on, and it has finally removed any feeling of supportiveness many Scots, Irish and Welsh might have previously held for the English at sports.
The main reason Scots football fans want England to go out of any tournament early is so we can watch the rest of that tournament in peace. TV commentaries are usually given by partisan English presenters; that means when we are watching a game between the likes of say Brazil and Italy, commentators very often think that it is okay to spend much of the game discussing the England team.
If England wins at anything, any live tv programme that evening, no matter the subject, will have references made to the win completely disregarding the fact that England is just one of four countries that make up Great Britain. Don't we all remember the day they beat Germany 5-1?
Why does it bother us? The UK is an invention of the English, the way it has been set up has suited England in so many ways. England is the biggest country on these islands and the English can have no idea what it is like to be dominated, and at times even bullied by a larger cousin the way Scots, Irish and Welsh do. When it comes to celebrating good fortune it can all be a bit unfortunate for ordinary English folk. Most other nations would celebrate in the same manner when they win something without annoying their neighbours, but it is difficult for England to do that due to the way the United Kingdom is set up. The other countries in the British Isles have their own national tv, radio and printed media and can go over the top in their celebrations without affecting anyone else. The English media by design is pervasive within the UK and does affect all the other nations, and it may well be they are paying for that now.
I've heard it said that we Scots are a bit jealous that England has actually won the World Cup. What nonsense, we know that winning the World Cup is a bit beyond us. We just love being there and we would be happy to stay there longer by getting to the second round ... boy would we celebrate then. So, roll on 2010.
What is also a bit sad about this little stramash is that it has brought to the fore some real English resentment, especially the feeling that we Scots are ungrateful for all the English have done for us. One writer and historian on tv the other day reminded us that England pays all our bills. He does of course have a very clouded view of how Britain operates politically, but then that's historians for you. One would need to ask why one nation would spend hundreds of years pursuing the domination of another sovereign state just to pay its bills. If that was all they wanted they just had to say and we could have been spared all that blood and gore. As it is, and as Robert Burns quite rightly wrote, the Scots were: "bought and sold for English gold",
and cheaply bought at that.
All that said I, like many other Scots, have relatives such as nephews and nieces, and also friends who are English and whom we love dearly. They will be gutted when England get beaten and we don't want them to feel like that. There are also a few English players who I like and admire as people, as well as for their footballing skills, and I would like to see them get just rewards for their skill and hard work, but the thought of another 40 years of gloating by the English media and football pundits is just too much to bear. So, sorry to my English friends and loved ones, but I hope youse get gubbed!
C'mon Trinidad and Tobago!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Catching Up

It’s been a while since I even thought of the blog. Just sitting here musing and fretting about my thesis. Ground to a halt again. My supervisor is waiting for the last bits so he can take them away on holidy with him … what a strange fellow! Most folk would rather have the latest airport blockbuster to read on their hols. Still, if that’s what he wants I’ll try and provide.
The world cup is upon us and you’d think the fate of the world depended on it. I like football, but Jeeez, and it hasn't even started yet!
Seems the world has just cottoned on the the fact that climate change is for real. Okay so we better just deal with one problem at a time, eh? It seems if you try and put forward two potential problems people’s brains go into stasis.
Sure global warming is crucial, but so is soil erosion, water stress, diminishing biodiversity, abyssmal world politics which lead to conflict, and the human miseries of poverty, inequity, displacement, hunger and starvation.
Much of these things are ignored by most people except when they are confronted with them in the media, but it is all happening in faraway land and most of the folk are alien to us, so they are as easily forgotten when the tv is switched off as the fictional dramas broadcast yesterday –
we see them and we feel guilty, we don’t see them and we forget; I am as guilty as the next guy.
However, we are not powerless in all of this. The Make Poverty History campaigns have showed us that politicians do take notice if enough people speak out. Yes, little changed, but that was because ordinary folk did not keep up the pressure. So politicians are allowed to wriggle off the campaigners’ hook. We should look at it all more positively, like just how quickly they were forced to climb onto that hook in the first place.
A lot of the time it appears that big business think they can do what they like and the cash-fodder (the wider public) will just go along with it and separate themselves from their money. However, these boardroom jockeys are very vulnerable to the vagaries of public perception.
Here’s a novel idea, let’s take as an example the huge transnational company Exxon (Esso) one of the most powerful in the world. Many people around the world take exception to this company. It’s anti-climate change stance has apparently hindered political will, in the USA in particular, to facing up to this challenging task of reducing the environmental impacts of burning fossils fuels (Exxon’s stock in trade). Now, if a few years ago everyone, or even nearly everyone, for just one week of every month bought alternative products to Exxon’s, how many months might it have taken before the board had a change of heart?
There are ongoing campaigns against illegal logging, and palm oil plantations in Indonesia.
There are plenty of alternatives, but these are cheaper. If enough of us cash-fodder let manufacturers know that we won’t buy their products just to save a penny or two they will use the alternatives.
Why do we bemoan the state of the earth and still believe it is politicians' and big business’s problem to fix it when it is obvious that they don’t want to. We have individual responsibility and we have the power to change things without having to do very much except be consistent in saying what we want and in demanding the powerful be held to to account. If a gasfitter made a botch job of your heating system and blew up your house you'd certainly want him/her to be held to account why not politicians and CEOs?
I suppose the main question in all this is: why are we so insistant in handing over our personal responsibility to people, many of whom we would not invite to our house for tea?
Ultimately, those we put in charge only have the power we give to them, or allow them to have –Really. So we must ensure they use that power, first and foremost, for the proper protection of the environment that allows us to live in some degree of comfort on this planet. We all know by now they will only do that if we force them to do so. So join Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth and or join your local community council or forum and make your voice heard. Get involved, it only takes only a few hours a week.

hasta luego (trying to learn Spanish)