FM radio on your smartphone

April 19, 2015

Smartphones have a built-in FM radio chip and yet you do not see FM.


It has been disabled.

The mobile networks make money by selling expensive data.

Android, and the smartphones collect personal data on you.

It is worthwhile therefore trying downloading an app that turns on your FM chip, and you can then use as an FM radio.

Whether this will work on a tablet, I do not know, but it is worth giving it a  try.

As well as giving much better listening and saving on data, it also saves on battery life.

A rare win-win-win.

Afternoon in Farnham

April 18, 2015
Gostrey Meadow

Gostrey Meadow

On the way to Farnham, whilst waiting for the bus, sun obscured by smoke, hazy with smoke.

Bus failed to show, then two buses, as a result had to wait for next bus to Farnham,

In the distance, columns of smoke, massive heathland fire.

These fires happen when it is a dry spring, lots of dry undergrowth.

I say happen, someone has started the fires.

Late to Farnham, but luckily the butcher open, last week missed the butcher.

Cold but sunny in Farnham.

Revolution half price in Waterstone’s. Now the paperback published they are selling off the hardbacks. Seems dumb. I saw one last week, luckily still there. Hardback cheaper that the paperback.

Smoke pollution

April 18, 2015
smoke pollution obscuring the sun

smoke pollution obscuring the sun

columns of smoke in the distance

columns of smoke in the distance

For several days, smoke pollution, you could not see it, but you could smell it.

Today much worse, difficulty breathing, the light an eerie colour, the sun a hazy yellow.

By mid-afternoon, smoke making everywhere hazy, a dark pall of smoke obscuring the sun, a big black cloud of smoke seen rising.

In the distance, columns of smoke, massive heathland fire.

These fires happen when it is a dry spring, lots of dry undergrowth.

I say happen, someone has started the fires.

Something rotten with football

April 18, 2015
Premier Pigs

Premier Pigs

Blackpool fans outside a game

Blackpool fans outside a game

I have never been a fan of football, though as kids we created or own football pitch in the field at the bottom of the garden.

Yes, I can understand people supporting their local football club (though not for me), what I cannot understand, is like mugs being ripped off on ticket prices, buy football kit from overseas sweatshops, or cheering on what are little more than Big Businesses.

Would people be cheering on Coca-Cola or Pepsi of KFC or McDonald’s? As that is effectively what they are doing.

People who turn up to a game, do not do for love of the game, they engage in tribal support for one side or the other.

We have obscene salaries paid to the players. Obscene amounts of money are poured in by the media. Very little of this money trickles down to grass roots level. Where is the money in Hackney Marshes?

Grounds if nothing else for a windfall tax on football.

Not content with their obscene salaries, endorsement of products from sweatshops for yet more money.

Not content with their obscene salaries, widespread tax-dodging.

Foreign ownership of football clubs located in tax havens.

The referee is judge and jury. In a split second, in a highly fuelled atmosphere, has to decide:

  • did he do it
  • was it with intent
  • what is the penalty

TV may beg to differ, those watching who are all self-appointed experts may beg to differ, the manager will always beg to differ.

I can take a picture from one angle and tell one story, I can take a picture from a different angle and tell an entirely different story.

TV is showing one version of what is claimed to be the truth. Do they show it from the viewpoint of the referee?

A top referee, earns less in a year than a mediocre player in a week.

Referees are abused, subject to violent attacks, receive death threats.

Four thousand referees a year are leaving football.

Any player, manager, or fan, who abuses a referee should be banned for a year.

Any player, manager, or fan, who physically attacks a referee should receive a lifetime ban.

Widespread corruption, match-fixing, rigged World Cup locations.

It is time football walked away from Fifa.

At the top, obscene amount of money floating around, nice if you get it, the agents, the managers, the players. Those who do the graft, do not even get paid a living wage.  Some clubs even force their staff to pay for their uniforms.

Frank Knight is a lifelong football supporter, sued by his club owners for defamation of character for questioning the way Blackpool FC is run, ordered to pay £20,00 or be bled to death through the courts.

Frank Knight is not the only fan to be threatened and intimidated.

What happened to free speech?

Former Blackpool FC fans turn up outside the grounds with their protest banners, then go off to support another club.

Fans who walked away from Manchester United, showed another world is possible. Working from scratch, they built their own football club, a genuine local club, not a foreign-owned business operating out of a tax haven.

Maybe one day, fans will realise they are being treated as mugs and taken for a ride, and will follow the example of Blackpool FC and Manchester United, and walk away.

Blackpool FC now plays to empty stands.

There is now a move in football, to cross the tribal boundaries, even to go as far as mass boycotts.

Pause and think, televised matches with empty stands.

It is time for fans to unite and reclaim football.

El Camino de Santiago

April 18, 2015
Abbey Road -  Imágenes del Camino de Santiago

Abbey Road – Imágenes del Camino de Santiago

El Camino de Santiago is a mediaeval pilgrimage route that runs along northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

Russell Brand pays Lord Rothermere a visit

April 18, 2015
Daily Fail

Daily Fail

We have heard a lot lately of an elite group of people known as non-doms, that is not domiciled in the UK, and so avoid tax. For anyone else, to avoid tax, you would have to live outside the UK, and you are limited to the amount of time you can live in the UK, in other words, you are a tax exile.

But, this group have a status conferred by Mad King George a couple of hundred years ago.

It was introduced at the time income tax was introduced to pay for foreign wars, and you guessed it, it was introduced in order that the rich and powerful could avoid tax. In this case for wealthy landowners who owned estates in the colonies.

You can inherit the status, you may have it because yoo claim you do not live here, because you have a burial plot overseas.

It is clearly unfair that a privileged group of people should avoid tax. And that this status should be abolished.

One such person is Lord Rothermere, who inherited the status from his father, also called Lord Rothermere (the title is heredity).

Lord Rothermere just happens to be the owner of the Daily Mail. Which no doubt explains that it is a little more than a coincident the front page headlines attacking the mere hint that non-dom status be abolished and the smears on Russell Brand.

Shedding Light on a Dark Mountain

April 16, 2015

Dark Mountain is an anthology, a collection of art, poetry, essays and short stories. It was an annual publication, since last year published twice a year.

The early volumes had writings by George Monbiot, Naomi Klein and other writers worth reading, volumes that sold out. Later volumes have gone steadily downhill. Dark Mountain 6 was dire, much of the writing unreadable, turgid, pretentious drivel. That is not to say all, there were some gems, a delight to read, but exceptions not the norm.

The art leaves much much to be desired, not helped by being badly printed.

The art in Dark Mountains 7, badly printed, little more than dark smudges.

wood cut in Monasterio de San Martín Pinario

woodcut in Monasterio de San Martín Pinario

Woodcut prints on old printing presses are of far better quality.

Why so bad? Bad editorial judgement, not sufficient submissions, too many submissions to make a sensible choice?

Dark Mountain has with some justification been accused of being nihilist, defeatist, failing to face up to, to fight the problems engulfing the world.

Ironically this is acknowledged in the opening paragraph of the editorial in Dark Mountain 7.

In Aeon’s review of Dark Mountain’s 2012 Uncivilisation festival, the author sounded a warning about the ‘sinister undercurrents’ of the movement: ‘The anti-technology polemics, the witchy nature mysticism and huntsman imagery,’ for this first-time attendee, ‘brought to mind nothing so much as English “neo-folk” acts such as Sol Invictus and Death In June, mainstays of Britain’s far-right bohemia, with its reveries about masks and antlers and the Brownshirts.’

Yes, we can sit back and do nothing, welcome in a world that will be uninhabitable, fiddle whilst the planet burns.

Naomi Klein in This Changes Everything, highlights the problem, that beyond 2C rise we do not know, the models break down. But she does not give up, wrap herself in a nihilist blanket, she proposes solutions, deep carbon cuts of at least 10% a year since yesterday, no longer business as usual, recognises that is is the capitalist system with its reliance on unlimited growth that is destroying the planet, not sit back and do nothing, but see as the opportunity for radical change, to create a fairer more equatable society.

Russell Brand does not stick his head up his arse, he is prepared to stand up and be counted, to enthuse others to stand up and be counted.

I would rather die fighting on my feet as a Warrior of Light, than give in on my knees.

Dark Mountain collection on Medium, is a collection of writings on the many problems we face, of the many solutions that are being put forward.

It is not part of Dark Mountain, has never claimed to be, has never passed off as acting for or representing Dark Mountain.

It came a surprise therefore to receive a complaint last year from Dougald Hine one of the co-founders with Paul Kingsnorth of Dark Mountain. A complaint that quickly descended into an unpleasant exchange of e-mails.

The nub of the complaint was that it led to confusion. Difficult to see how, and when pressed for evidence of this, the best Dougald Hine could come up with was the quote cited from the Dark Mountain Manifesto.

The machine is stuttering and the engineers are in panic. They are wondering if perhaps they do not understand it as well as they imagined. They are wondering whether they are controlling it at all or whether, perhaps, it is controlling them.

This was ludicrous, so ludicrous, I could not stop laughing. How many pieces start with a quote? Does that lead the reader to confuse what they are reading with the source of the quote? Of course not.

The only reason it was used, was it quite eloquently summed up the state of the world. We think we are controlling Nature, but as many disasters have shown, we are not in control, and it is arrogant of us to think we are.

Had anyone been confused, they would have quickly been put straight.

Having got nowhere, events took a turn for the worse. There was then a crude attempt to persuade Medium to delete the account. A crude attempt that happily failed.

All went quiet, until today.

A rather unpleasant e-mail from Dougald Hine demanding once again theDark Mountain collection be deleted.

What triggered this latest tantrum, and it is like dealing with a petulant child throwing a tantrum, was a twitter exchange around ten days ago, with a person unknown to me.

To which elicit a response from Dougald Hine.

Deep ecological thinking is our only hope, something you will not find from Dark Mountain, instead, a nihilist, stick head in sands, dance around a bonfire dressed as animals, which is as about as effective as Nero fiddling whilst Rome burned.

Someone likes what they read, has come across a couple of times Dark Mountain Project, but this is immediately inferred to mean, must be a connection, that it is somehow passing off one as the other.

Had any connection been assumed, the misconception would have been addressed.

But in light of the tweet from Dougald Hine implying something that was not, a tweet was sent to ensure absolutely no misunderstanding.

At no time has it been claimed, masqueraded, passed off as part of or in any way acting as a representative of Dark Mountain Project.

But as I found, not only a tweet, also an e-mail:

Since you made no attempt to correct his misunderstanding that you were a representative of Dark Mountain, it is clear that you are making use of the Dark Mountain collection on Medium to pass yourself off as representing our journal and the non-profit company, The Dark Mountain Project Ltd, that publishes the journal.

As before, wild accusation, if not smears, but no evidence provided to support. At no time claimed to be a representative of Dark Mountain, the Dark Mountain collection is not being passed off to represent anything or anyone. Nor can any such nonsense be inferred from or implied by above tweets. Thus difficult to correct a misunderstanding that does not appear to be there.

Dark Mountain is a collection, an anthology of essays, poetry, art and short stories. Contributors do not get paid. They get a free copy. Copyright remains with contributors.

But having got nowhere with previous false allegations, now implying trademark infringement. Which puts in a whole new ball park.

Please take this email as a final request to either change the title of that collection or delete it. If you do not do so, we will file a trademark notice with Medium, asking them to delete your account, according to their policy:

I would agree, trademark infringement is a whole new ball game.

I have before me Dark Mountain 7, the latest anthology published this week.

Dark Mountain is not a trademark, there is not even the usual copyright claim for the book, either for Dark Mountain Project as publisher, or individual contributors.

Trademark infringement would therefore seem to be yet another red herring.

Dark Mountain relies upon public support, both in terms of funding (first volumes crowdfunded later subscription) and contributions.

Are Dark Mountain supporters and contributors happy with what amounts to bullying and intimidatory behaviour being carried out in their name?

Reposted from Medium.

Five Party Debate

April 16, 2015

First there were seven, now there are five, Tories and LibDems having dropped out. The best they could do was carp from the sidelines.

Nicola Sturgeon once again the star of the night.

She summed up the feeling of the nation, what is the point of kicking out the Tories if all we get is ToryLite, no one can tell the difference between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

What people forget, she is not an opposition politician like Ed Miliband, in Scotland she is the government.

The day before, LibDdems launched themselves as the Coalition Party, reinforcing the perception of the party lacking in principle, who will do anything to be in power. They would probably join a coalition with Isis, then claim they had reduced the number of beheadings.

Nigel Farage turned on the audience.

Natalie Bennet was once again an also ran, the Green Party having learnt no lessons from two weeks ago. If wish to see what could have been, listen to Caroline Lucas on Any Questions last week.

The best we can can hope for following Election Day, is a minority Labour government, with minority parties vetoing any bad policies.


April 16, 2015


What backs a currency?

We used to have gold coins, silver coins.

Some would say, the intrinsic value of the coin was its content, but this was not true, it was the symbol on the coin.

The symbol was the value, by common consent the value.

A ten euro note, is only ten euros by common consensus as to the value.

Symbols can be digits on a computer, can be a crypto-currency like BitCoin or StartCoin or FairCoin.

There are those who wish to revert to the gold standard, a currency backed by intrinsic value.

We could though turn this around, the gold has value because it is easily convertible.

Gold is not that useful. Try carrying around ingots of gold.

Bushels of wheat, cows, all can all be a currency.

A currency has two basic functions, two side of the coin we could say:

  • store of value
  • medium of exchange

When we wish to acquire something, we can barter, you have what I want, I have what you want, but only works if these two conditions satisfied.

With a medium of exchange, we can agree to buy or sell.

Store of value has problems, hoarding, accumulation.

Whatever our currency is based upon, we will try to maximise.

What if our currency was based upon forests? We would increase our wealth by maximising forests.

This is what WoodShares attempts to do, at least it could, only it does not.

If I go to a bank and say I want to borrow a million dollars to buy a forest, the bank will ask me what I wish to do with the forest. If I reply nothing, the bank will show me the door. If on the other hand, I say I wish to cut down the forest, sell off the timber, develop the land, show the bank what return I will make on my one million dollars investment, the bank will ask me are there any other woods I wish to buy.

WoodShares is a commercial forestry operation. Buy land, begs the question what was there before and being displaced. Participate in the discredited carbon trading operation. At the end of the cycle, when the trees have been harvested, ie clear felled, sell off the degraded land.

WoodShares therefore far from being a currency backed by a natural asset, is in reality a crowdfunded commercial forestry project. Neither is WoodShares a green project.

Rich v Poor

April 15, 2015

Two rooms, in one the rich, high earners, in the other room the poor, those on benefits, low wages, zero hours. Both groups discussing the same topics.

What came across strongly was the the appalling degree of ignorance, bigotry and selfish attitudes of the rich. Do their thought processes come pre-formed from the pages of The Sun and the Daily Mail?

The poor feckless, if they worked harder they would not be poor, why did they not save, Iain Duncan Smith did not go far enough in cutting benefits.

The poor were far better informed, they complained of being stigmatised, especially by programmes like Benefit Street. What came across was desperation and fear, the fear of further changes and what these may bring. People living hand to mouth, no food, not knowing where money would be coming from to pay for food and rent, living off Oxo cubes and food banks. Unemployed being forced to waste their time and money chasing after jobs where they probably stand a better chance of winning the Lottery.

The rich think the poor do not know how to manage money. When you are poor, you spend all your time managing money, knowing where to go to pick-up-end-of-day bargains.

The rich, having paid for one house, were looking to buy a second house, to cash in on asset price rises.

Ironically the rich were saving more, cutting back on spending.

The poor wished to see more house building, but council houses, not houses for sale.

The rich thought Right to Buy a good idea. If you are struggling to pay the rent, how do you find the money to buy?

The poor wanted to see a rise in pay, a move to a Living Wage, rent controls, job security, tenancy security.

Neither group mentioned a Basic Income.

The rich thought tax credits a good idea, get people off benefits and into work.

Tax credits are not a good idea, all tax credits do is subsidise bad employers. Pay a decent wage, and workers do not need tax credits.

The top 20% of earners pay 35% of their earning in tax.

The bottom 20% of earners pay 37% of their earning in tax.

Is this fair?

The rich think they work hard.

Do the poor not work hard?

Head of Barclays in 1979 on £80,000 a year now £10 million. If workers pay increased by as much, would all be on £1 million a year.

Do not think workers work hard, then check out Maid In London, hotel rooms in London are some of the most expensive in the world, and yet hotel maids work long hours for bad pay.

Both groups thought training a good idea.


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