Archive for the ‘Dark Mountain’ Category

Official opening of International Bomber Command Centre

April 12, 2018

To coincide with 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force today saw the official opening of International Bomber Command Centre.

Veterans of Bomber Command were invited from all over the world. Some like the Poles and other Europeans, had escaped with their lives from occupied Europe to then put their lives on the line to serve in Bomber Command to help defeat Nazi Germany and liberate Europe from German occupation.

Invited they came, from as far afield as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Australian government met the expenses of their veterans who came. Three hundred veterans, the youngest 92 the oldest 100.

Military personnel too, from US, Canada and Australia milling around.

The surrounding roads were closed, causing a long diversion.

Parking in an adjacent field, even for the veterans. Those in wheelchairs somehow managing not to get stuck in the mud.

A guard of honour mounted by RAF personnel, all in dress uniform, bedecked with their medals.

Once in the marquee, reserved for veterans only, would you like sir tea or coffee, from an airman.

Wandering around, the site shrouded in mist, the trees on the site vanished in mist, not even possible to see the South Common, let alone Lincoln Cathedral the other side of the valley.

The site has special significance. It overlooks Lincoln, it overlooks Lincoln Cathedral. A spire that is the tallest war memorial in the country, the height the width of a Lancaster wing span. For the airmen who flew on a bombing raid, Lincoln Cathedral was the last sight of what they called home, on return if they made it back, the first sight they saw. Many did not make it back. Their names, over 57,000, their names are cut in the panels. They may not have made it back, but they live on in spirit, with their laser cut names. The average age of the aircrew, 23 years old.

Also on site the Chadwick Centre named after Sir Roy Chadwick who designed both the Lancaster and the Vulcan.

The Chadwich Centre houses an interactive museum, in conjunction with Lincoln University, a digital archive, which is hoped to go on-line in the summer.

Between the Chadwick Centre and the Memorial Spire, a path alongside are tablets with a dedications to those who lost their lives.

All too soon, everyone was herded out of the warmth of the marquee, where lunch was to be served later, out into the misty cold, for the opening ceremony.

And cold it was. Survival blankets had to be handed out to keep people warm.

An address by someone from the Lottery, who provided some of the funding (the majority was donated by the public), Lord Howe defence minister in the Lords and Nicky Barr chief executive of IBCC whose hard work, plus her army of volunteers, has made everything possible.

There was to have been a Lancaster flypast, but to the disappointment of everyone, not possible.

No official bigwig, Royal Family or RAF Top Brass. Instead, which was a nice touch, the veterans cut the ribbon. A long ribbon unravelled across where the veterans were sat, scissors handed out, and the ribbon cut.

The Last Post, then everyone, no one sure what to do, headed back to warmth. The opening ceremony had not finished, there was more music, drama, but the cold was too much.

In the open reception area of the Chadwick Centre, on sale books, tea, coffee, craft beer.

At the entrance, complimentary copies of Lincolnshire Life featuring IBCC.

Back in the marquee lunch served for the veterans their guests had to make do with the various food stalls parked outside. A choice of burger, burger or burger, one stall had noodles, and another cakes.

The lunch, three sausages one assumes Lincolnshire sausages, served on a bed of potatoes, carrots and peas. The serving staff volunteers from a local college catering school.

BBC Look North excellent live coverage in the evening by Peter Levy and the Look North team, a pity about the crass comments from the weatherman which were uncalled for, and unfortunate cut short by five minutes by a party political broadcast.

One of life’s ironies, as the opening took place, high level meetings in London, the US and across Europe on whether or not to bomb Syria for its use of chemical weapons on civililians.

In the evening a concert.

On Saturday, world premier of the digitally remastered Dambusters.

Evening Thursday 24 May 2018, RAF 100 Centenary Concert in Lincoln Cathedral will also mark 75th Anniversary of the Dambusters Raid.

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Facebook is not a social network

April 10, 2018

Watching Mark Zuckerberg walk through the corridors of power escorted by Capitol Police was like watching a perp walk, when the police tip off the media. The only difference, he was not facing any charges (yet) and was not handcuffed.

Showing his usual contempt for facebook users he ignored questions fired at him by journalists.

Appearing on his first day before questions from a committee of politicians, it was as though Facebook had sent not a human but a malfunctioning avatar. Was this a human or an avatar representing Facebook?

He claimed facebook was inspirational. Claimed the credit for facebook for any action by democracy activists. Anything bad, that was bad actors. And yes facebook had made mistakes letting in the bad actors to play on their platform.

The only reason Zuckerberg was there was because of the collapse of facebook stock market value. He is still showing contempt for British facebook users by refusing to appear before a Parliamentary Select Committee, refusing any requests for media interviews.

Facebook is not a social network. Facebook is not a community. What we are seeing is not down to a few bad actors or facebook letting them gain access to their platform. Facebook exists to collect and abuse personal data.

The bad actor is facebook.

If Cambridge Analaytica is a bad actor, how many more bad actors, how many more facebook apps harvesting our personal data?

  • facebook has to be regulated
  • facebook has to be broken up, stripped of Instagram and WhatsApp
  • facebook has to be handed to the users

Users have to do their bit.

  • overwrite then delete all personal data
  • turn off location tracking
  • disable facebook apps
  • do not tag friends
  • do not use Instagram
  • do not use WhastApp

What facebook has engaged in is digital rape.

It beggars belief there are still facebook users who have not yet taken these very basic measures.  Are they naive or just plain stupid? Maybe they do not care about their own data security, but what of those they are connected to?  Their behaviour is equivalent in the digital realm to someone spreading HIV/Aids.

Cambridge Analytica Brexit and election fraud

April 2, 2018

We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles. — Christopher Wylie

We couldn’t have done it without them [AIQ]. — Dominic Cummings, Vote Leave campaign manager

I voted Leave for reasons of sovereignty and democracy. Isn’t it ironic that this is exactly what we’ve now lost? — Shahmir Sanni

Facebook exists to collect and abuse personal data.

Facebook apps, surveys, quizzes, games, harvest that data.

Cambridge Analytica used a facebook app to harvest the data of 50 million facebook users then used that data to manipulate them.

Two weeks ago, Channel 4 News broke the news of what Facebook and Cambridge Analytica were doing with the data, the lengths to which Cambridge Analytica was prepared to go to rig elections. The Channel 4 scoop of the decade has subsequently reverberated around the world, US, UK, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Mexico.

Compelling evidence has been presented by Channel 4 News, Carole Cadwalladr, Christopher Wylie, Shahmir Sanni and others of waht appear to be criminal activity between AggregateIQ, Cambridge Analytica, Vote Leave, BeLeave, senior Tories and their advisers, to rig the European Referendum.

Carole Cadwalladr:

‘Find Christopher Wylie.” That instruction – 13 months ago – came from the very first ex-Cambridge Analytica employee I met. He was unequivocal. Wylie would have answers to the two questions that were troubling me most. He could tell me about Facebook. And he would know about Canada.

What Christopher Wylie knows about Facebook, the world now knows. Facebook certainly knows – its market value is down $100bn. But the Canadian connection remains more elusive. What it is. Why it matters. And why it triggered my search for Wylie.

Did this alleged criminal activity sway the Brexit result? I think not, despite the persuasive  testimony from Christopher Wylie.

Carole Cadwalladr:

In total, £3.9m of leave campaign funds were spent with AIQ. Four different groups used the firm, even though all these campaigns were supposedly separate and could only “work together” if they shared their spending limits. Vote Leave spent £2,697,000. There was the £675,000 via BeLeave. A sum of £100,000 that Vote Leave donated to Veterans for Britain, which Veterans for Britain then paid to AIQ. AIQ also received £32,750 from the Democratic Unionist party. Whichever way one looks at it, AIQ would seem to be fundamental to the data-driven targeting of “persuadables” in the final days of the campaign.

These four campaign groups mysteriously and independently found the same tiny data analytics firm, located in a sleepy town on an island off the west coast of Canada, 5,000 miles away.

In April 2017, Dominic Cummings told me by email that Vote Leave had found the firm “on the internet”. Darren Grimes told the Electoral Commission the same thing. The only problem? Online archives show that AIQ’s website didn’t show up in Google searches until after the referendum. “I looked at the time,” says Sanni. “I was, like, ‘Who is AIQ?’ And there was nothing. No website. Nothing.”

Both sides lied to swing the result. From what little we have seen, IAQ told the truth.

European Union was established as a cartel for Big Business, a democracy-free zone. And nothing has changed. An Empire that centralises power, that brutally crushes any dissent on the periphery, as we have seen with Greece.

No Empire lasts for ever. The EU is on the verge of implosion. We must plan for that eventuality, to create a Europe-wide network of cooperating democratic sovereign countries.

Where though I do agree with Christopher Wylie, is where there was cheating, those involved must be held to account. And that also applies to the overspending by Tory candidates in the last but one General Election uncovered by Channel 4 News for which there has still to be criminal prosecutions.

Deathly silence from Mark Zuckerberg until Facebook stock valuation started to crash. He is still showing contempt for facebook users by his refusal to testify before a House of Commons Select Committee.

Facebook must be regulated to stop the collection and abuse of personal data, broken up, stripped of Instagram and WhatsApp, and ultimately handed to over to its users to function as global commons and open coop.

No one disputes the value of facebook as a social network, what is at issue is the collection and abuse of personal data.

The activities of companies like Cambridge Analytica, a threat to democracy, must not be permitted to operate.

Facebook users must also take personal responsibility for the safeguarding their personal data. They would not hand personal data to a stranger in the street, leave cash lying around, why therefore so careless with personal data.

Facebook users need to act now. Overwrite then delete all personal data, never post live links where you are, disable all facebook apps, disable location, do not use Instagram, do not use WhatsApp.

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

Facebook apps, games, surveys, quizzes, harvest personal data.

Instagram is owned by facebook. Pictures posted act as bait to draw into the Facebook walled garden. Instagram claims ownership rights to the pictures. The pictures are not visible on twitter. If you wish pictures to be visible post direct to twitter.

There are superior alternatives to WhatsApp, for example Skype.

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.

 

M&S sparks card fraud

March 16, 2018

M&S has currently an Up To 50% Sale. Yes, a con, it should be a real sale, 50% Sale, not 50% in huge letters and hidden in the small print up to 50% which is meaningless.

Contempt for customers by M&S. The same contempt we see when M&S cannot be bothered to man the check out tills in their food sections.

No surprise, M&S a failing retailer.

There is though a fraud mimicking the contempt for customers, thus appearing to be genuine.

Sparks Card holders have received an e-mail, telling them they have been specially selected to take advantage of the 50% Sale, have to buy now, click on a link, have less than six hours, and to make the case, a clock is counting down.

It looks legit only that is all too easy.

The e-mail address looks odd, but could be legit.

It is not. Do not clink on any of the links.

The giveaway is the clock. Standard for fraudsters, limited time to take advantage of an offer.

The e-mail address raises doubts.

A further giveaway the points recorded.

Only one way to find out.

Purchase made in M&S, the usual appalling wait, insufficient tills manned.

The points recorded on the till receipt did not match those recorded in the scam e-mail.

A conversation with a store manager.

She kindly checked her Sparks Card e-mail, mention of the Sale, virtually identical, but no clock counting down.

M&S have been asked to notify every single Sparks Card holder to warn them of this fraud.

If you have received this fraud, delete, but better still mark as junk or a phishing scam.

It would also be wise to run a virus scanner.

It is also worth checking with your bank for any fraudulent transactions, especially if you are foolish enough to do on-line banking.

Now it may be, M&S also ran the clock. If they did, they are using the same sales tactics as fraudsters, and if they did, it opens the floodgates to fraudsters to make their scams look legit.

Government rejects latte levy

March 10, 2018

The UK’s throwaway culture is having a devastating impact on our streets, beaches and seas. Our report recommended practical solutions to the disposable packaging crisis. The government’s response shows that despite warm words they plan no real action.  — Mary Creagh,  chair  Environmental Audit Committee

In an act of crass stupidity the UK government has rejected out of hand the latte levy.

This is to reject out of hand the evidence and proposals from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

It is a kick in the teeth to the many indie coffee shops that have done the right thing, introduced KeepCup, compostable cups, offered a discount to those who bring in a clean KeepCup for a refill, and above all, encourage people to sit and relax with speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic.

It is a kick in the teeth to coffee drinkers who have bought a KeepCup, or better still relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic.

What the government has shown is that it is craven to Big Business. It has caved in to lobbying by the corporate coffee chains. The same chains, Starbucks and Caffe Nero that dodge tax, to which the government turns a blind eye.

2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year. Coffee cups that cannot be recycled, as what at first glance appears to be paper, is plastic-lined paper, and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined cups cannot be recycled.

Plastic is a modern day curse, it is destroying our seas.

And what does the government do? Nothing. The government would rather pander to corporate greed.

Next time the government claims to care about the environment, respond with two words, latte levy.

Labour must commit now that one of the first acts on taking office will be to introduce a latte levy to take immediate effect.

Plastic pollution in the sea off Bali

March 6, 2018

British diver Rich Horner has filmed the level of plastic pollution in the sea off Bali.

Anyone who still believes plastic pollution is not a problem, that we do not need a latte levy to eliminate plastic-lined paper cups, that plastic is not a modern day curse or that we do not need to to eliminate plastic, watch these films and think again.

Surprise, surprise there weren’t many mantas at the cleaning station.

The dive took place in an area frequented by manta rays which come to get cleaned. The area lies off the coast of Nusa Penida — a small island with low population — there is a stretch of only 20 kilometres of water separating Nusa Penida from the island of Bali and its capital Denpasar.

The beaches of Bali are covered in plastic, the sea full of plastic.

The plastic breaks down into microscopic plastic, marine life cannot distinguish from plankton, eat the plankton.

The weight of plastic equals that of plankton.

Seabirds and sea turtles are eating larger pieces of plastic. They die, their stomachs full of plastic.

By 2050, the weight of plastic in the sea will equal the weight of fish.

Our first visible sign of the problem is litter dropped on the bus, in our streets, plastic covering our beaches, which finds it way into the sea.

A week of snow

March 4, 2018

It started Monday a week ago, awoke to a light covering of snow.  It soon melted away.

In Lincoln, bitterly cold, light flurries of snow, few people about, those that were were stocking up with food.

I had intended to leave early, instead left late, after lunch at County Restaurant the afternoon in Madame Waffle.

Tuesday the snow had arrived. Before breakfast a path cleared of snow.

A day of dark clouds, bright sunshine, heavy snowfalls.

Heavy snowfall, blizzard, and something I had never experienced before, whiteout.  This would alternate with clear blue sky and sun shining.

Subzero outside, and yet, was able to sit and relax in the conservatory, heated by the sun.

Solar power though of no use. Looking out, I see solar panels covered in snow.

Nothing moving, everyone snowed in.

Wednesday, as Tuesday, heavy snow, several inches deep, before breakfast clearing the snow.  No soonest cleared, within half an hour, at least an inch deep. Before lunch, once again clear the snow, now a couple of inches deep.

As Tuesday, heavy snow, dark clouds, sunshine. Again possible to sit in the conservatory, minus three degrees outside, drops to minus seven.

As Tuesday, heavy snowfall, blizzard, whiteout, which  would alternate with clear blue sky and sun shining.

Impossible to go out, sink into the snow.

Farnborough two days in a row, record for colddest place, minus 11.9C.

Warning, we are running out of gas. People should drop their temperature by a degree, will not notice, saves money, saves gas. If going out, turn down the thermostat by at least five degrees, then turn back up on return.

We need large gas storage facilities. We had but was closed last year. That is what happens when privatise energy supply, lose energy security, no resilience in the system.

Not possible to import from Europe, as pipes lack capacity, and even if possible, Europe colder than UK, thus need the gas.

UK was powered by North Sea Gas. It was sold of on the cheap, now UK imports roughly half the gas it needs.

Wind is providing as much energy as gas, but different usage.

Industrial users of gas cannot be cut off, crash cool a kiln and cause tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the kiln.

In Lincolnshire, at least 45 roads are closed, idiots who should not be out, are out in their cars no idea how to handle a car in the snow, get stuck then block the roads.

Police call in the military they cannot cope.

Thursday I managed to get out. To my surprise, many people are walking in the snow in Washingborough. I guess house bound and an opportunity to get out the house.

I ask one man, is it worth walking to the local Coop? He says no, no bread, he has taken the last milk.

As I thought, no deliveries and more people placing demand on local Coop.

Slowly running out of food.

Walking around the village, very cold, Arctic conditions, sub-zero with a gale blowing.

There has been no snow all day.

Friday again no snow. Manage to get out and walk to the local Coop. As I thought, very little stock, no bread, little in the way of vegetables, a small amount of milk.

Again very cold with strong winds blowing.

Saturday a little snow overnight, light covering of snow.

One degree Celsius. It actually feels warm.

Hop on the bus to Heighington. The Spar shop reasonably well stocked, actually able to get some bread, the butcher well stocked.

Stock up with provisions. At least will not starve.

In the afternoon a trip into Lincoln. One kind person has even cleared the bus stop.

Walking to the bus stop and waiting for the bus, cold and damp, a breeze blowing, misty.

Very bleak journey into Lincoln.

The State of the Art Lincoln Central Bus Station colder than outside.

Outside the entrance a couple of inches of slush, Lincoln City Council cannot be arsed to clear the snow.

Sincil Street and High Street the same, slush covered streets. Traders pay enough in businesses rates, the least they can expect is the streets to be cleared of slush.

More people out than I expected. Maybe Saturday, maybe first opportunity to get out of the house and into Lincoln.

Stokes on High Bridge as always, empty, same for Cafe W at Waterstone’s. On the other hand Coffee Aroma busy and at Madame Waffle packed queuing at the door to get in. That is th difference good coffee makes.

I take the opportunity to stock up with more provisions.

Walking back to the bus station, I notice the slush melting, water gathers at the lowest point and flows, the newly installed drains not at the lowest point. Yet another design flaw for the newly opened Lincoln Central Bus Station that only opened last month.

Sunday a few degrees above freezing, the snow starting to melt, very misty.

It snows, and the country grinds to a halt, the trains do not run, those that do run, break down leaving people stranded for several hours, foolish people go out in the cars, clueless driving on snow.

For the last decade winters have been mild. Temperatures of 10C, maybe drops to 5C, occasionally below zero.

These mild winters have lulled the country into a false sense of security.

The Arctic, zero degrees, at least twenty degrees warmer than it should be , strong winds circling the North Pole driving the cold air southward into Europe.

What is a heat wave in the Arctic has panicked climate scientists, as what has been observed is way beyond their worst case scenarios for climate change.

Big Rock Coffee Company

March 4, 2018

I had never heard of Big Rock Coffee Company until my attention was drawn to a coffee shop hosting a focus group.

Canopy Coffee are looking for keen coffee enthusiasts to partake in a FREE focus group discussion this Wednesday 28th at 6.30pm to give some consumer reaction to an exciting new coffee concept – Big Rock.

When anyone talks of something being exciting, the alarm bells start sounding, worse still a focus group.

Why is everything referred to as exciting? It is PR marketing gibberish, nothing else.

Focus groups are widely discredited.

Why would any reputable coffee shop host a focus group?

Why restrict to the age group 25-40, does no one drink coffee outside this age group? What does it say of the coffee shop?

It took place, the snow was bad. No detailed report posted for those who could not attend or who were barred by the age discrimination.

My curiosity was piqued.

I decided to check out this coffee company, what was special, why did they need a focus group, why not simply sell speciality coffee to discerning coffee shops?

Big Rock is a small single-origin coffee company built on a big idea.

We’re committed to :

1. Providing exceptional quality coffee from single origin sources.

2. Making a big difference to people’s lives by offering stability and hope in an unpredictable world.

We’re honest people with a clear message. We wanted our name to reflect those principles.

It just so happens that we found our first coffee partner on a farm overlooked by a gigantic monolith called ‘El Peñol.’

Marketing hype, tells me nothing about the coffee.

Digging further, more marketing hype, ‘genuinely unique flavour profile rarely found in the UK’ they claim what they are doing is something new, ‘pioneer a new sourcing model directly from his farm’

We’re not willing to compromise and sell Better Coffee using an outdated system which disenfranchises our own farmers. That’s why we created ShareTrade.

And more of the same

Our greatest asset is our direct relationships with individual farmers; the people who’ve planted, nourished and tended their crop – often for decades. So before we started building websites and designing logos, we packed our bags and travelled to the mountains of Colombia.

We learned that the real struggle farmers face is uncertainty. Fluctuating prices and currency exchange rates, insect infestations and plant diseases that threaten their livelihood combine to make coffee farming an extremely risky way to provide for their families. Not only that, some of these problems lead to a lower yield and poorer quality coffee, creating a chain reaction that ends up hurting you, our customer.

The current system seems to work for everyone except the people who matter most- the farmers. There’s so much good work being done by agencies and NGOs on the ground, but we believe the only solution is a total review of the pricing model and striking a mutually beneficial economic deal with the farmers, and a better system of value creation. So we created ShareTrade, a new sourcing model.

NGOs are not doing an excellent job on the ground, they are outsiders, make promises rarely kept, take a few photos with smiling faces to be use for fund raising back home, then depart in their air-conditioned 4x4s, never to be seen again.

NGOs step in, launch projects, outsiders, with no local knowledge, no long term commitment.

As Phil Adams reports, they have a name for these projects in Uganda.

Project has become a dirty word. In Ugandan coffee farming circles it means “fuck things up and take pretty pictures”.

So what is ShareTrade? Is it a coffee crowdfunding, as the name would suggest? Or maybe with all the marketing hype, a scam?

No, it is Direct Trade, but given a different name.

ShareTrade is a new model of cooperation with coffee farmers that recognises and rewards the value they create.

We start with a simple viability price. This price is what’s needed to ensure the profitability of coffee farmers – and take it from us, it’s a lot more than the market price, or even the Fairtrade price. This viability price is guaranteed, come rain or shine (and you need a bit of both.) It’s the foundation that gives our farmers confidence, stability and a basis for committing to their farms and to producing quality coffee.

But a better price and a commitment to investment are just two thirds of what ShareTrade is. The final part is our relationships. We maintain constant contact with our farmers, sometimes as mentors, but mostly as pupils, working together to build a long term system which rewards quality and innovation. And as we look to develop our business and start to make a profit, our commitment is to sharing this with the farmers too.

ShareTrade is the heart of Big Rock – the foundation that lets us accomplish our dream: to bring about deep satisfaction at every level of the coffee chain.

FairTrade is a marketing scam to make smug middle class feel good, nothing more. It pays a tiny premium above commodity price. By not rewarding quality, it maintains growers in poverty.

Direct Trade is about building long term relationships, paying a higher price for quality. Everyone benefits, the growers, the roasteries, coffee shops, those of us who appreciate decent coffee.

Direct Trade offers transparency, accountability, traceability.

No mention by Big Rock of varietals, processing, Q grade of their coffee.

To claim they are doing something new, is disingenuous, it is insulting to the many who have been working hard for many years to establish long term relations to pay higher premiums for coffee, to bring us speciality coffee.

To name but a few, Square Mile, Union Hand-Roasted Coffee, Hasbean, Small Batch, Falcon Speciality Coffee, Dark Woods Coffee, with apologies to the many I have not mentioned.

The name Union in Union Hand-Roasted derives from a union of farmers, roasters, tasters, drinkers and tweeters.

Last week I was contacted by someone who tried to justify drinking at Starbucks because he did not wish to drink coffee at a hipster indie coffee shop. This level of bullshit only serves to reinforce their prejudice.

All Big Rock has done, is renamed Direct Trade, ShareTrade, claimed it is something new, then surrounded it with marketing bullshit.

And no this is not an ‘exciting new coffee concept’ as falsely claimed by Canopy Coffee who hosted the event, which took place during the snow.

Thank you to all the participants for this discussion evening in assocation with Big Rock. Hats off for braving the freeze and the brutal wind chill to talk about all things coffee.

An extremely informative and diverse discussion with lots of opinion and great insight, both in regard to what companies perhaps could be doing and what exactly we all were drawn to as consumers. A big thanks again.

Nothing informative. A detailed report for those who did not or could not attend or were excluded by the age discrimination would have been useful, maybe something to look forward to. The claim ‘what companies perhaps could be doing’ is simply false, many companies are engaged in Direct Trade, working hard to improve the lot of growers, improve the supply chain, to deliver quality coffee.

I have made no mention of the coffee, I have not tried, but Big Rock are not doing either themselves or the farm from which they source any favours with this bullshit. Excellent coffee speaks for itself. It does not need marketing hype or bullshit.

It may well be Big Rock supply excellent coffee. I am more than willing if supplied with a bag, to cup and see how it stacks up in a cup of coffee.

Real Fresh Coffee by the co-founders of Union has a section on Direct Trade, Coffeeography the growers and farms from where Stephen Leighton head of Hasbean sources his coffee,  The Monk of Mokha the risks one Yemeni man Mokhtar Alkhanshali took to bring speciality coffee out of war-torn Yemen.

The Lincoln Coffee Festival kicks off on Wedneday 14 March 2018 at Coffee Aroma  with an afternoon of conversation and book signing with Stephen Leighton. An opportunity to learn about Direct Trade with one of the pioneers of Direct Trade. No bullshit guaranteed.  Chat and speciality coffee served by experts.