Doctor Who Series 10 Trailer

Looks interesting, including the retro Cybermen

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Quick Links 13th March 2017

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.


Life In General.

My birthday this week, and also a quiet week work wise (see below), not that I planned it that way, but it worked out well for me. Next week is looking a little different, busier and some family things to do.


Work.

A quiet week this week. No news on any proposals, and I am assuming that no news isn’t necessarily good news. I’ll be doing some chasing next week to see where things stand. A few meetings lined up next week, although at the moment I think it’s likely that it won’t generate any paid work – we’ll see.


Wonky Veg – I find the results of the surveys reported here to be a little concerning. I think the public is a little bit out of touch when it comes to what’s involved in growing veg at a commercial scale, and just how little the growers actually receive, particularly from large supermarkets. A 50% discount just wouldn’t be viable, but it is better than this just going to waste. I’d be interested to see some more work done on the economics of this, and perhaps a little more education of the public too.


Australian Urban Wildlife – [LINK] As you probably know, urban wildlife is an important thing to me, so this was a nice read for me, although on the other side of the planet!


Champion Of The Unofficial Countryside – [LINK] In a way this links to the one above, but it’s important to recognise why these sites are so important.


Not So Smart Meters – [LINK] I can’t say this surprised me when I read it. Although smart meters are great when they work, I still feel they are too vulnerable to being hacked or other glitches, particularly software problems.


Q. Why Did The Elephant Cross The Rail Tracks?

A. Because He Wanted To!


Currently Reading

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter [GoodReads] a birthday present and the “official” sequel to The War of the Worlds.

A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk’s True Life (Journals Vol. 3) by Thomas Merton [GoodReads]

The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King [GoodReads] I’m reading for an online group.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


 

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Busy Doing Nothing

Some days are meant for catching up on all those things you’ve been putting off but don’t seem to achieve much. 

Welcome to my Sunday. 

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Broccoli Success

I’ve been really please with the broccoli that I’ve grown this year and last. I’ve concentrated on one variety that can be spring sown, but also overwintered. It’s a variety called “Marathon”, and I started out with some spring (late March) plants that I was harvesting by the early summer. I planted some more in mid-summer and these grew all through the autumn / winter and I’m harvesting now.

I’ve backed these up with some purple sprouting, that looks as if I’ll be able to harvest later on this week, and so I’ll have a pretty good crop of broccoli nearly year round. My plan is to do the same again, and in fact it looks as though the next lot of spring sown plants will be here in the next week to ten days.

Probably the most significant difference between the spring sown and the overwintered plants are that the spring sown varieties, have produced a single large head and then once that has been cut lots of little side heads. The overwintered plants, have only really produced the latter, but they have been prolific so we’ve had lots to eat. Weight for weight I’d estimate it’s about the same, and in fact there’s also quite a bit more green leaves with the overwintered plants, so that adds a bit of variety too.

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Broken Promises, Broken Country

[Today’s post is a bit of a political rant – please feel free to skip it if that sort of thing doesn’t interest you].

In 2015 the Tory Party manifesto contained a promise not to raise income tax, national insurance contributions or value added tax (VAT). At the time I can remember saying to my then colleagues that it was a stupid promise, (effectively blocking the three main ways a government can raise money at significant levels) and that I doubted that they would be able to keep that promise.

On Wednesday they broke that manifesto promise and raised NI contributions for the self employed. [Full Disclosure: I am self employed and therefore this will effect me directly]. Now there has been significant claim and counterclaim that they haven’t broken a manifesto pledge because it wasn’t what the legislation said; but I’m sorry – liar, liar, pants on fire. A manifesto pledge is made before an election, the legislation is enacted afterwards (assuming that you get in government). So actually the promise was broken when the legislation was laid and not last Wednesday then, wasn’t it, the manifesto pledge did not distinguish between employees and the self-employed, whatever your subsequent claim it is you manifesto pledge that you have broken.

As the proposal further unravelled we’ve now seen the Prime Minister back pedal and say that this won’t be legislated on until the autumn and not now (probably because there are sufficient Tory backbenchers who would vote against it, and the government would loose the vote), presumably in a hope that it will be forgotten about by then, and it can be sneaked through.

Regardless of all of this, I actually think that NI should be raised – across the board. We have a Tory government and once again we see that Education, Public Services, especially adult social care, and the NHS are completely f***ed (remember when we were last in this situation? Well it was a Tory government then too).

Austerity (or budget cuts) have been the mantra of the Tories since 2010 – the first five years they had their Lib Dem glove puppets to hide behind (bad news send out a junior Lib Dem minister), who got their reward in 2015, and lost nearly all their parliamentary seats. Coupled with buying off (one-off grants to) local authorities not to raise Council Tax (until now when the horse has finally bolted and now a 5% rise means a lot less than a year on year rise of 1% over the past five years would have) and in some cases buying off local authorities in order to prevent them embarrassing the government (Surrey County Council), this Country’s finances and public services are firmly in the toilet.

So actually put 1% on NI across the board or if you want to “even things up” 1% on employees and 2% on the self-employed, I really don’t care about your manifesto pledge (you’ve always been a bunch of liars, so you don’t change your spots overnight anyway), which was a stupid promise in the first place – just try being honest. You’re in government and need to sort out the mess that you’ve created. Austerity (cuts) do not work, and they never have, so now that the chickens are coming home to roost, how about having an honest conversation with the country and asking them what they actually want, and not what you think is important and while you’re at it what about some of those other stupid promises? Do we need HS2 (to save 20 to 30 minutes travel time) or could we spend that money better some place else? Do we need two (or three) new nuclear power stations, when there are better renewable alternatives, and spend the difference some place else.

FFS – have an honest conversation with the Country and stop pretending that we don’t have an opinion or a view, and only what you think counts.

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The Sun Has Got His Hat On!

The sunshines on me today.


Temperatures between 16 & 18°C, blue sky and barely a cloud in sight. Sunglasses 😎 for the first time this year.

We went for a nice walk this afternoon. It’s my birthday, so no work for me today. Lots of butterflies about, loads of brimstones, plus a peacock and a comma. 

Lots of new books to read too, the only problem is knowing where to start!

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Hacked

I’m not surprised at what Wikileaks has revealed [NY Times Article Link], I don’t think I’d ever assumed that any item of technology was completely safe. On the basis that the moment anyone claims to have made something secure, someone else will be looking at ways around that. Virtual cat and mouse if you will.

Also glad to see that George Smiley is making a return to print 😉 [LINK]

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