Archive for March, 2018

200 Degrees Nottingham Station

March 31, 2018

A very fleeting visit to Nottingham.

Alighting at Nottingham Station, I was surprised at the size of the station.

I exited via a side exit, which was also the exit for the tram into the city centre.

I did not take the tram, as no idea how far to the city centre or how frequent the trams, and preferred to walk.

I followed the sign for city centre at least there was a sign, and found myself at the main entrance.

I could not find what I was looking for 200 Degrees. A Costa and a Gourmet Coffee stall serving Union Hand-Roasted.

I left the station forecourt, passed by tax dodging Starbucks, and there on a corner by a bridge overlooking the Nottingham Canal was 200 Degrees. Not quite the station, but near enough.

A wonderful ambience within, interior much larger than the exterior would suggest. Divided into three zones, a serving area, an open airy light space and a darker brick-lined interior. Exposed riveted steel columns. Wood panelled walls.

I was reminded of speciality coffee shops in Athens.

An enticing array of cakes. Leftovers of lunch. I would imagine lunchtime a wider choice.

There was a reason I was looking for 200 Degrees. I had tried their espresso blend Brazilian Love Affair a few days earlier at The Bean and Vine in Newark. Wonderful aroma, but not so great coffee.

Brazilian Love Affair. Strange I thought, espresso blend from Brazil, one country, though as Stephen Leighton quotes in Coffeeography, there is an awful lot of coffee in Brazil. On closer inspection, Brazilian (unknown), Colombian (Arabica), Vietnamese (Robusta).

What self-respecting roastery uses Robusta? Vietnam is infamous for dumping rubbish coffee onto the world market.

Vietnam, to the surprise of many, is world No 2 coffee producer after Brazil.  The country was conned by the World Bank into growing coffee as a cash crop. Guaranteed prices, they were promised. Guaranteed prices that never materialised.  A large volume of cheap inferior coffee was dumped on the world market. The price for coffee collapsed and has never recovered.

I was curious, what was it like when brewed by 200 Degrees in their own coffee shop, and why do they bizarrely include Vietnamese Robusta in their espresso blend, Brazilian Love Affair, Brazilian (unknown), Colombian (Arabica), Vietnamese (Robusta)?

Only one way to find out.

I had time for a cappuccino. A cake for tea.

The cappuccino though was blended with chocolate.  Not what I wished for, as I wished to see what the coffee was like.  I was offered another coffee. I said thanks, declined the offer, then changed my mind, I would take a takeaway and have on the train, much as I dislike takeaway coffee. Nothing beats sitting and relaxing with a coffee in glass or ceramic.

The coffee would have been brought to me table,  I carried it, as I had stayed chatting with the baristas. Very helpful, pleasant and knowledgeable baristas.

Coffee beans were on sale, as was tea.

Adjacent to the coffee beans, a grinder. Moot point, have the coffee professional ground but not fresh coffee or grind at home, fresh but not the best grind.

I raised my query, why Robusta? They were as perplexed as myself, and they too would like to know why the roastery includes Robusta?

Three grinders offering a choice.

The coffee menu, quite a choice, including cold brew.

Cold brew, if get the method right and if a quality single origin, is excellent. But not today. Excellent way to drink coffee in the summer.

I was though surprised to see nitro cold brew on offer. A disgusting gimmick, nothing more.

An interesting flask on the counter, klean kanteen, I say flask rather than refillable cup, as not exactly barista friendly. Stylish design, shale black, looks expensive, looks more suitable to carry around trekking, than everyday to and from the office via a coffee shop.

A busy coffee shop, being nearby a railway station, takeaway trade too.

True to their word, a takeaway coffee as I left. Were the takeaway cups compostable? Not known and does not say on the cups, therefore I assume not.

I should have tried at least a taste, but did not until several minutes after my train pulled out. A little weak and insipid I hate to admit, but improved with the addition of the coca maybe that is why they add. With Robusta, I would have expected strong and bitter.

It raises yet more questions on why Robusta?

The takeaway cup has an account of a coffee shop from 1642. It does not though say where. For that have to go on-line. If nothing else, a clever way to direct to their blog. I did, and could not find.

Being so close to the station, why does anyone frequent Costa or Starbucks? And if in the station forecourt why Costa when there is a guy with a stall serving Union-Hand Roasted Coffee.

A very fleeting visit, forty minutes.

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Afternoon in Nottingham

March 31, 2018

A very fleeting visit to Nottingham.

Alighting at Nottingham Station, I was surprised at the size of the station.

I exited via a side exit, which was also the exit for the tram into the city centre.

I did not take the tram, as no idea how far to the city centre or how frequent the trams, and preferred to walk.

I followed the sign for city centre at least there was a sign, and found myself at the main entrance.

I could not find what I was looking for 200 Degrees. A Costa and a Gourmet Coffee stall serving Union Hand-Roasted.

I left the station forecourt, passed by tax dodging Starbucks, and there on a corner by a bridge overlooking the Nottingham Canal was 200 Degrees. Not quite the station, but near enough.

A wonderful ambience within, interior much larger than the exterior would suggest.

An enticing array of cakes. Leftovers of lunch. I would imagine lunchtime a wider choice.

I had time for a cappuccino. A cake for tea.

Being so close to the station, why does anyone frequent Costa or Starbucks? And if in the station forecourt why Costa when there is a guy with a stall serving Union-Hand Roasted Coffee.

A very fleeting visit, forty minutes.

Cambridge Analytica the Mexican connection

March 30, 2018

Facebook collects and abuses personal data.

Facebook apps, quiz, survey, game, harvest that data.

Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of 50 million Facebook users, then used it to manipulate the very people whose data they had harvested.

Russian hackers, Russian bots, were blamed for interference in elections. We now know it was much closer to home, Cambridge Analytica were operating in our own backyard, unnoticed, until Christopher Wylie‏ blew the whistle.

Cambridge Analytica has its tentacles every where, US, UK, Kenya, Nigeria, India, Sri Lanka, Mexico.

They go in, do the hard sell, we can swing the election your way. They are like ghosts, go in, do the dirty work that politicians cannot soil their hands with, then long before discovered, if ever discovered, have crept back out.

This is only one Facebook app.

And yet people are still leaving their personal information on Facebook, have not overwritten then deleted, are leaving live links of where they are, have not deleted Instagram and WhatsApp.

Facebook collection and abuse of personal data

March 29, 2018

Facebook business model is collection and abuse of personal data.

Facebook apps, every quiz, survey, game, harvest the data facebook collects, all your personal data, that of your friends, every single thing you do on facebook.

One such app was used by Cambridge Analytica, was used to harvest the data of 50 million facebook users. They then used that data for manipulation, bragged they swung the US Presidential election and won it for Donald Trump.  It has also been claimed they meddled in the EU Referendum.

Facebook claim a breach of trust.  No, the only breach of trust was facebook collecting data on its users.

Facebook and  Cambridge Analytica both claim the data that was harvested, data of 50 million Facebook users, has been deleted.

Not true says Christopher Wylie‏ a whistle blower at Cambridge Analytica.

Not true says Channel 4 News, who in the scoop of the century broke the original story last week.

Channel 4 News found it all too easy to obtain this data. They then knocked on a few doors to see what the good folk of Colorado thought of the collection  and abuse of their personal data.

They were shocked, they did not wish to discuss or appear on camera. One exception was a lady who said she was aware of how Facebook operated.

It beggars belief people are still leaving their personal data exposed on facebook, still leaving live links of where they are, are still using Instagram and WhatsApp.

All personal data should be overwritten with false data then deleted.

Never post live links of where you are.

The most valuable data you post on facebook is your personal data and where you are.

In settings disable apps, disable location data.

Do not use Instagram. Rights are claimed to your pictures, it is owned by Facebook, you are acting as bait to draw others into the facebook walled garden, the pictures posted are not visible on twitter.  Post pictures on twitter or google maps, but not Instagram.

Skype is a better alternative to WhatsApp.

 

Caffé Nero dodge tax

March 28, 2018

Caffé Nero and Starbucks are two large tax-dodging coffee chains serving undrinkable coffee.

Caffè Nero dodge tax as does Starbucks.

Caffè Nero dodge tax through a complex network of companies, ultimately owned by a Vulture Capitalist holding company based in Luxembourg.

Debt was used to acquire the company, which is then loaded onto the company, unable to  service the debt let alone pay it off, Caffè Nero is a zombie company.

Were Caffè Nero to file for bankrutcy, it would be another BHS.

This tax-dodging we all pay for with fewer police on our streets, the terrible scenes we have seen over the winter in our A&E departments in hospitals, cuts to social services, mass library closures, cuts to social benefits.

For the independent coffee shop, it is unfair competition, as they pay their taxes.

Big corporations dominate too many areas of our lives. They destroy the character of our town centres losing our sense of place. When they go under, we are left with devastated town centres which never recover.

They drain money out of our local economies. Spend a tenner in a corporate chain and that is a tenner drained straight out of the local economy, less a tiny trickle down to low paid temporary zero hours staff.

Spend a tenner in a local indie business and that tenner is retained and recycled within the local economy. There is also a local multiplier. For every pound you spend it is as though more than a pound has been spent, as the local business will spend it in the local economy. The coffee shop will be ordering cakes from a local bakery.

And the clincher, the local indie coffee shop serves better coffee.

Acquisition of Harris + Hoole by Caffè Nero has resulted in low staffing levels, leading to poor service, many good staff have left, the coffee once sourced from Union Hand-Roasted is now roasted by Caffè Nero, death by a thousand cuts.

One reason for the acquisition of this loss making chain may have been to offset tax.

I suggest for next issue of Caffeine that UK Uncut are invited to contribute a feature on tax dodging by Starbucks and Caffè Nero.

The Bean and Vine

March 27, 2018

Newark a small market town. Surprisingly not taken over by chain stores, still many independent stores. Nor has the heart of the town been ripped out by modern buildings, though a pity the modern shop fronts.

Walking from Newark North Gate Station I thought the road I was on was it, until I walked through an arcade, and found myself in a large market square, not surprisingly called Market Square. Rows and rows of empty stalls, no market traders.

On one side a coffee shop, The Bean and Vine.

I poked my head in the coffee shop. I had not intended to stop and have a coffee, but when I asked and they said closed at four, in ten minutes time, I decided to stay.

A little early to close, on the other hand I had seen no one around since I had arrived, it was like siesta time in a small Spanish town.

I ordered a cappuccino. It was not great but at least they asked, did I want chocolate dumped on top? And no, it should not be chocolate, use cocoa. They agreed and that was indeed what they used.

Too hot, cup size too large, not ground fresh.

I asked to look at the beans, which they also had on sale, a Brazilian blend supplied by 200 degrees.

Ii thought a Brazilian blend, as that was what it said, but on reading, Brazilian (but did not say what), Colombian Arabica, and Vietnamese Robusta.

Vietnam is infamous for dumping on the world market low quality coffee. Robusta!

A skilled barista correct size cups, maybe a better coffee. But Robusta!

Food served, I did not try, own cakes, again I did not try.

They may, as the weather gets warmer, pleasant to sit outside, days lighter, open later.

Pleasant ambience, and centre stage, a large wood burning stove.

I asked of the market. Trades every day but not today, Tuesday. Wednesday and Saturday the big days, but depends on the weather.

Afternoon in Newark

March 27, 2018

A fleeting visit. Very much a spur of the moment decision. I saw a train and hopped on it.

It went to the wrong station in Newark, there are two, but that was a minor in inconvenience.

I have often passed through Newark, but never actually visited.

Signage from Newark North Gate Station would have been of help.

I passed by a museum that had a Lawrence of Arabia Exhibition. I had not the time, but I learnt the exhibition had finished a couple of weeks earlier.

A small market town. Surprisingly not taken over by chain stores, still many independent stores. Nor has the heart of the town been ripped out by modern buildings, though a pity the modern shop fronts.

I thought the road I was on was it, until I walked through an arcade, and found myself in a large market square, not surprisingly called Market Square.

Rows and rows of empty stalls, no market traders.

I poked my head in a coffee shop that was on one side of Market Square, The Bean and Vine. I had not intended to stop and have a coffee, but when I asked and they said closed at four, in ten minutes time, I decided to stay.

A little early to close, on the other hand I had seen no one around since I had arrived, it was like siesta time in a small Spanish town.

I ordered a cappuccino. It was not great but at least they asked, did I want chocolate dumped on top.

I asked of the market. Trades every day but not today, Tuesday. Wednesday and Saturday the big days, but depends on the weather.

I thought walk to the river, opposite way to what I thought, but no time.

Now lost.

I retraced my steps, and just made the train with a few minutes to spare

Lincoln Street Food Festival

March 25, 2018

A street food festival was held last year. The travelling circus has returned.

Lessons should have been learnt, and not invited back.

Even worse, if true, Lincoln Big are paying this travelling circus to come to Lincoln.

Last year, it was freezing cold, wrong time of the year for street food.

It was due to be held a couple of weeks ago but heavy snow forced cancellation. It took place this weekend, Friday Saturday and Sunday.

Friday very quiet, Saturday surprisingly busy, queues at some of the food stalls. Maybe for Lincoln folk, whose idea of fine dining is McDonald’s or KFC, it is seen as quality food.

The one stall empty, though no surprise, the coffee stall.

Litter everywhere, overflowing bins.

The useless Lincoln City Council knew of the market, could they not have arranged extra street cleaners to clean up the mess and empty the overflowing  bins, or at the very least make the organisers responsible?

Contrast with the Lower Marsh Street Food Party, where no litter problem.

Abysmally low environmental standards. Plastic boxes for the food, polystyrene burger-style boxes for the food.

Useless Lincoln City Council hectors the rest of us to reduce our waste, to  recycle. Can they not get their own house in order, set high standards for street markets?

Large generators beside the stalls, very noisy.

Why not an arrangement where plug into power sources from lampposts, as they do in other towns?

Awful music blasting out from many of the stalls, which was very unpleasant. Even worse from a large tent in Cornhill, which also attracted drunks.

What the street food market did though highlight, we do not have  to have large lorries driving through the pedestrianised streets after ten o’clock or before four o’clock, as during the market they could not gain access.

Nothing wrong with a street food market, but it has to be done properly. Instead of paying a travelling circus, invite individual quality food producers, hold in Sincil Street not the High Street, charge a nominal pitch fee.

Look to the successful street food markets held elsewhere.

Godalming has an annual street food festival, that puts this to shame.

Lunch at White Hart Hotel

March 23, 2018

Today decided to dine in style.

Lunch at the White Hart Hotel in Bailgate.

For starters, wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil.

The starter was a meal in itself.

Followed by rib-eye pork steak. A very impressive steak knife, an implement of quality.

Ingredients sourced locally, with a list where sourced from. A pity more do not follow this excellent example.

The rib-eye pork steak  was sourced from the butcher in Bailgate. Redhill Farm Shop, from where I obtain their excellent ham and Lincolnshire sausages.

Compliments to the chef, the food was excellent. The vegetables, at least the cauliflower, could have been cooked a tad longer.

I was warned the  rib-eye pork steak would be slightly pink. Fine for steak, but not pork, I asked that it be cooked a little longer.

I noticed an adjacent table had Lincolnshire sausages, sourced from Fosters, not the butcher in Bailgate.  These were under cooked.

I would recommend if The White Hart Hotel wish to serve the best quality Lincolnshire sausages, either source from the butcher in Heighington or from Redhill Farm Shop in Bailgate.

I later popped into the butcher and asked of rib-eye pork steak as not something I had come across before.

The offer of a coffee was declined. There are far better places for a coffee in Lincoln, Makushi aka Base Camp on Steep Hill, Madame Waffle in the High Street and Coffee Aroma just off the High Street near The Stonebow.

I had a window seat. I would not have liked to be in the main body of the restaurant as too much like a chain restaurant.

I was very impressed by the steak knife. An implement of quality.

Facebook business model collect and abuse personal data

March 22, 2018

Facebook let a firm called GSR scrape 50 million user profiles and sell the data to another firm, Cambridge Analytica, whose express purpose was to manipulate electoral behaviour in favour of Donald Trump. That’s the one-paragraph summary of a story that will unfold with increasing complexity this week. — Paul Mason

There are several evil corporations. Monsanto aka MonSatan destroys the environment. Nestle human rights abuse. Facebook collection and abuse of personal data.

Channel 4 News has done the world a service in its expose of Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica had access to a facebook app that harvested the personal data of 50 million Facebook users, then is believed to have used that data to influence the US Presidential Election and elect Donald Trump, or at least they have bragged so.

Cambridge Analytica is a side show, and the focus has now quite rightly shifted to Facebook.

Facebook collects and abuses personal data. That is the Facebook business model, that is how Facebook makes money, a lot of money.  Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg has contempt for your personal privacy.

Contrary to what Facebook claim this to be a breach of trust, Facebook makes its money, its businesses model, is built on breach of trust. Every day Facebook breaches the trust of its users.

Cambridge Analytica used a Facebook app to harvest Facebook personal data. It did what every Facebook app does.

A Facebook app, every game, quiz, survey, has access to not only all your personal data, but also that of your friends. And this is continuous access.

  • e-mail
  • photos and videos
  • phone number
  • date of birth
  • hometown
  • current city
  • religious and political views
  • friends list —> access to all your friends
  • relationship status
  • education history
  • work history
  • status updates
  • likes
  • website
  • groups you’ve liked and manage

Who or what is behind that app that is harvesting your data?

In summary, an app gains access to:

  • your basic information
  • your e-mail address
  • your profile info: birthday, likes and location
  • your events

What is basic information?

Well it is actually quite a long list: name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends, and any other information you made public.

All handed over with a single click.

Now you may be happy to see all this information handed over to who knows where, to who knows who, to do as they please, but what of your friends? If you have no concern for your own privacy, do you not have an obligation to respect that of your friends, did you ask each and everyone if it was OK that their name be passed to this app?

Would you hand all your personal information to a stranger who stops you in the street, name, where you live, where you work, school, university, name of partner, name of dog?

Would you hand over a key to your house and say ok to rummage through all your personal effects?

Would you grant access to all the clubs and societies you belong to?

Would you hand over your work pass?

If not then why do you do this on Facebook?

Also be aware when commenting external to Facebook, if linked to Facebook, Facebook now has access to what you are doing outside of Facebook.

Facebook is not a social network.

With Cambridge Analytica there was no data breach at Facebook. This is how Facebook works. You are the product on sale.

Facebook users mistakenly think the only people they are sharing information with are their friends. This is simply not true.

And who are these friends? Often they are people never met, have not a clue who they are.

Many users are now deleting their Facebook accounts. The problem is, Facebook will still have all your personal information.

Overwrite all your personal information with fake information, then a few days later delete.

Never make a live link of the places you visit.

Never tag friends.

Never post videos on Facebook. Post videos on vimeo or youtube and post a link on Facebook. Always drive traffic out of not into Facebook.

Do not use Instagram. Instagram belongs to Facebook, claims rights to your pictures, the pictures are not visible on twitter.

Post pictures direct to twitter, not via Instagram. Encourage your followers to follow you on twitter not on Instagram.

Coffee shops provide a good example. If pictures posted on Instagram act as bait to draw customers into the facebook walled garden, thus complicit in the abuse of their personal data. The pictures can be sold. Pictures not visible on twitter, even though one assumes the whole point of posting pictures is for them to be seen. The coffee shop would get far better traction by posting direct to twitter and posting pictures on Google Maps.

Do not use WhatsApp, it too belongs to Facebook. Use Skype instead.

Check your Facebook settings. You will be horrified at the number of apps you find. Most you will have no knowledge of. Get rid of every single one.

Lobby the government. We need much stricter data protection.

We have had the farce of the Information Commissioner announcing to the media, maybe raid Data Analytica the next day, maybe the day after, maybe by the end of the week. As I write, Data Analytica has not been raided. Any incriminating evidence will have long gone. There are boxes going out the door.

The maximum fine in the UK is £500,000. This is peanuts to Facebook. There should be unlimited fines, punitive fines.

Facebook dodges tax. There should be a social media tax, based on the number of users, exemption for any social media network held in common trust, owned by the members, a social media commons.  There should be a tax on advertising revenue.

We need to create a social media commons, or failing that, Facebook handed to its users.

 

In addition to collecting and abusing personal data, then enabling it to be harvested by Data Analytica and other data harvesters, Facebook has then provided a platform to enable Data Analytica and others to abuse and manipulate users through acquisition of their own personal data.

Data Analytica have bragged they won the election for Trump by manipulation. They have bragged of being willing to bribe corrupt politicians, to set them up with girls from Ukraine.

Facebook should disable their news feed. It serves no useful purpose other than to disseminate fake news and propaganda.

I and others have been warning of Facebook and Instagram for years.  Will the current scandal finally force users to wake up and take notice, not only take notice, but act?

Facebook is a toxic virus that has invaded every aspect of our digital lives.

Mozilla has pulled the plug on Facebook. We must pressurise other corporations to do the same.

We show our support for Mozilla by downloading and using Firefox.

Facebook has to be broken up. It has to be stripped of Instagram and WhatsApp, but what is left has to be broken up.  No one uses Facebook because they like Facebook, they use it because their friends are there. We therefore have to have open standards where there are many social networks, with communicate both within and across networks. An example would be telephone networks, anyone on one network can communicate with anyone on any other network.

Facebook is not the only tech giant that has to be broken up. Google has to be stripped of Android, YouTube and self-driving cars, leaving Google as a search engine.