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Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Friends of the Earth

pollution

I find the vast amounts of litter that are abandoned along our highways depressing.

Anna of Friends of the Earth sent the following environmental tip yesterday:

If you have plenty of old plastic carrier bags, use them as bin liners, drainage systems at the bottom of plant pots and hanging baskets, or instead of bubble wrap when packing. See if your local charity shops would like any surplus bags, and get into the habit of taking a re-useable bag next time you go shopping, to avoid picking up more carriers.

This tip is brought to you by Friends of the Earth.

For more practical advice, competitions, quiz and discussion forums where
you can pick up or suggest other tips see:

http://www.foe.co.uk/living/

Yesterday I also came across an Introduction to Permaculture (hat tip: Rebecca Blood).

Posted by bigblue on 23/05/2007 at 07:05 AM
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Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Shadow of the photographer

shadow

That should be plural - shadows - I count eight of them.

I’ve been reading about the current exhibition of photography at Tate Britain called How we are.  There’s a 10-piece preview at The Guardian, who also have a review, as do New Statesman.  The Tate has asked members of the public to contribute to the exhibution by posting their photographs in a Flickr pool.

Imagine curating a display of photographs collected from the homes of millions of ordinary Britons. In order for your show to be remotely representative, it would have to include many shots of special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries, and lots of people smiling, on holiday, with family, partners and pets.

Such an exhibition would not be representative of day-to-day life in our country. As Kevin Jackson notes in the catalogue accompanying Tate Britain’s absorbing show “How We Are: photographing Britain”: “A photographic exhibition is a quotation from quotations.” However, it would reveal something about our aspirations and how we see ourselves. We don’t smile and have fun every day, but what most people want out of life centres on family, friends and good times, and our photo albums reassure us that we have at least in part succeeded.

The Tate’s exhibition, however, reflects a very different side of the nation. It represents the way in which professional photographers, often with artistic aspirations, have captured our country since the 1840s. Like a family album, however, it tells us less about how the subjects really are and have been, and more about what people behind the lens are looking to see. The camera never lies; it always tells a truth about the photographer.

Read on.

Posted by bigblue on 22/05/2007 at 06:59 AM
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Monday, 21 May 2007
It’s a bee

Bee

I took this photograph of a bee in the garden yesterday afternoon. I’m pleased with it because

  1. The bees were moving around rapidly, not settling for long on any flower; and
  2. I managed to freeze the bee’s wings (at 1/400, F5,6 and ISO 400).
The Innovations Report has an interesting article on bees:

A discovery by a University of California, San Diego biologist that some species of bees exploit chemical clues left by other bee species to guide their kin to food provides evidence that eavesdropping may be an evolutionary driving force behind some bees’ ability to conceal communication inside the hive, using a form of animal language to encode food location.

Bees can use two main forms of communication to tell their hive mates where to find food: abstract representations such as sounds or dances within the hive or scent markings outside the hive to mark the food and/or the route to it. In 1999, James Nieh, an assistant professor of biology at UCSD, published a paper in which he hypothesized communication within the hive may have evolved as a way of avoiding espionage by competitors

Read on.

Posted by bigblue on 21/05/2007 at 07:42 AM
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Sunday, 20 May 2007
Traffic Information Signs

Traffic Information Sign

I wonder if I’m overly cynical about these traffic information signs. The one above reads:

M25
J6 - J9
INCIDENTS
EXPECT DELAYS.

The thing about this is:

  1. It’s pretty obvious there’s a problem on the M25, from the long line of traffic on the parallel A25 - as you can see in the photo.
  2. The actual delays were between Junction 6 and Junction 5 of the M25, so the message was inaccurate.

My previous form can be found here (for starters).

Posted by bigblue on 20/05/2007 at 05:24 PM
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Saturday, 19 May 2007
Connect the dots

image

When I saw these Meningitis Foundation badges, I wondered why the charity badge was becoming militarised. I found some information on their website:

The Meningitis Trust has launched a series of four highly collectable pin badges modelled upon 4 classic Action Man figures. The launch is timed to coincide with Action Man’s 40th anniversary. The range of four badges features some of the best-loved classic Action Man characters: Combat Soldier, Frogman, Parachute Regiment and Tank Commander.

So it’s the 40th anniversary of a toy doll, which is a military action figure. But what’s the link to meningitis?  Could it be that infections of Meningococcal meningitis

can be isolated, but can also occur in outbreaks in crowded places, such as army barracks or colleges.

Posted by bigblue on 19/05/2007 at 11:50 PM
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Friday, 18 May 2007
Smooth Fruit

fruit

This week I’ve taken up the habit of drinking a litre of pure fruit every day, in the form of a smoothie.  I’ve been drinking an Innocent Super Detox which is made of grapes, banana, pomegranate, orange, blueberries, acai berries and lemon juice.  They advertise these things as

100% pure and fresh fruit ... Nothing else. No sugar. No water. No concentrates.

Treehugger questions why Innocent don’t make organic smoothies or even use locally sourced ingredients?

Innocent use 25% recycled plastic in their bottles which apparently in ‘the most technology will allow’, but they are working towards a 100%. They also have a ‘how to recycle our products’ page on their website. And while they might not use local ingredients it doesn’t mean that they don’t like them. Innocent are now sponsoring local fruit and veg competitions around the country. Furthermore the company car is electric and they buy their energy from Good Energy. Innocent is renowned for its excellent business model, and their great working environment, as well a being rather witty marketeers. We think they should also be well known for finding interesting ways to be sustainable whilst running a successful business, although we still think that they might be able to introduce an organic Innocent range just for the extra fussy among us!

There is an interesting article on Innocent at the BBC.

Posted by bigblue on 18/05/2007 at 11:31 PM
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Wednesday, 16 May 2007
Vegetarians are from Venus

Mars

I have stopped eating Mars products. I was somewhat surprised when a friend forwarded me this document via email.  It seems that Masterfoods has decided to use animal products in many of their chocolate snack products from this month. Items with a “best before” date from October this year are affected.

The story is covered by the BBC, the Guardian and the Vegetarian Society who say:

The Vegetarian Society is extremely disappointed to learn that Mars favourites such as Mars, Milky Way, Bounty, Snickers, Galaxy, Twix and Maltesers are now all unsuitable for vegetarians. At a time when more and more consumers are concerned about the provenance of their food, Masterfoods’ decision to use non-vegetarian whey is a backward step. Mars products are very popular with young people and many will be shocked to discover that their manufacture now relies on the extraction of rennet from the stomach lining of young calves.

Please contact Masterfoods Customer Services on 0845 045 0042 to express your concern.

Click here to email direct with your comments

Products affected are:

Confectionery:
M&M’s ® All Varieties
Skittles ® Sours / Rainbow
Bounty ® Dark / Milk
Celebrations ®
Flyte®
Galaxy Ripple®
Galaxy Minstrels®
Galaxy ® Block/Caramel/Fruit & Hazelnut/ Hazelnut
Galaxy Promises ® Cocoa Crisp/ Caramel Crunch/ Roast Hazelnut/Rich Coffee
Maltesers ® Original / White
Mars Original ®
Mars Delight
Mars Planets®
Milky Way ® / Crispy rolls / Magic Stars
Revels®
Snickers®
Topic®
Tracker ®Chocolate Chip / Forest Fruit / Lemon / Roasted Nut
Twix®

Ice Cream:
Bounty ® Ice Cream
Galaxy ® Caramel Swirl Ice Cream / Vanilla / Triple Choc
Maltesers ® Ice Cream
Mars ® Ice Cream / Xtra Ice Cream
Snickers ® Ice Cream / Xtra Ice Cream

Posted by bigblue on 16/05/2007 at 07:35 AM
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Monday, 14 May 2007
Dawn in an old world garden



English songbirds awakening, as recorded in Beatrice Harrison’s garden in Oxted. Released by His Master’s Voice. Video by 78_man.

Posted by bigblue on 14/05/2007 at 07:14 AM
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