Archive for the ‘social behaviour’ Category

Dodgy builders

March 13, 2018

Last week within a space of two days, dodgy builders called, one offering repairs to the roof, the other the roof required washing.

If dodgy builders come calling, do not engage, call the police, if maybe work does need carrying out, ask reputable builders to take a look and provide a quote.

A cold calling zone can be established.

roof repairs

Dodgy builder calls. The roof requires repair work.

He was in for a shock. A meeting with Trading Standards and Police was taking place at the house where he called.

When questioned, he refused to answer questions, who he was, name of company, turned nasty then legged it up the street.

The incident was called in.

roof needs washing

How gullible are people?

Dodgy builder calls late morning.

Two rough looking white guys in their twenties, dressed in dark clothing, the one who called at the door a black beard. Had it been night they were dressed for a bit of house breaking.

The roof requires washing. This was following a morning of heavy rain.

Not only did the roof require washing, it required spraying to make it waterproof.

We have had centuries of straw, slate and roofing tiles, but the roof needs spraying to make waterproof.

Dodgy builder refused to leave his leaflet. Managed to acquire one left in letterbox of neighbour.

Police were notified. Local beat officer arrived promptly.

no cold calling zones

Where there is a problem with nuisance doorstep callers,  the Police and Trading Standards with the agreement of local residents can establish a No Cold Calling Zone.

scams and fraud

Dodgy builders are one of many frauds and scams relieving gullible people of their hard earned money, often of their life savings.

Phishing scams, text, e-mail, dodgy web sites, telephone calls, used to obtain bank account details. Within minutes account will be emptied.

Vital Nature and associated companies dodgy pills and potions scam. Pills and potions of dubious provenance, operating out of France though that could be a front address.  Credit card fraud, money laundering, harassment phone calls.

Commemorative mint scams, must have commemorative coins, offered at special price. In reality worthless junk metal.

Australian Lottery scam. You have won but need to pay administrative fee to release your winnings.

Long lost relative scam. Would love to visit, if could only could afford air fare from Australia.

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.

Chiltern Railways pilots recycling of coffee cups

March 2, 2018

Everyone needs to take responsibility; the reality is that everyone has been getting away with it for a long time. — Peter Goodwin, Simply Cups co-founder

Chiltern Railways is to introduce a scheme to recycle coffee cups at its stations.

Each station will have bins to deposit the cups, which are then taken away to be recycled, except the passengers have to segregate liquid, lids and cups, three separate bins.

An estimated 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK. Anything that addresses this is to be welcome.

What appears to be paper cups are plastic-lined cups, and there lies the problem, these cups cannot be recycled and therein lies the problem.

At first glance the scheme looks good but does not stand up to close scrutiny.

The Chiltern Railways scheme is at best a distraction, at worst legitimises our throwaway consumerist culture.

If nothing else, it makes the point, plastic is not recycled, cf steel, glass, aluminium, it is down-cycled, the plastic to be turned into branded pens for Chiltern Railways.

In the natural world output from one process is the input to another. There is no accumulation of waste either in time or space.

Ancient woodlands are the perfect example.

Anything that forms closed loops, where waste from one system is input to another is to be welcome, but that is not the case with plastic.

The loop is not closed, all that has happened is a delay, the plastic has been down-cycled, then onward to a one way trip to landfill, incineration or the ocean.

Plastic is a modern day curse. The planet is being smothered in plastic, plastic pollution is killing our marine life.

From where do the passengers obtain their coffee?

A reasonable assumption, either on the train or a takeaway stall at a station somewhere en route.

Make it mandatory, a condition of the lease,  for any of these coffee outlets that takeaway cups have to be compostable, that they have on sale reusable cups for example KeepCup and offer a substantial discount if seeking a refill.

At the station, a bin for compostable waste or at rural stations a compost heap. Though there is a question mark on whether or not these compostable cups do actually compost on a compost heap.

On a different line, an example would be Alton Station, where volunteers maintain a station garden.

The introduction of a 25p latte levy will help to focus minds.

Whilst not applicable to rail passengers, we must end the grab it and go culture, encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served on glass or ceramic.

Insidious collection of personal data

February 24, 2018

Drip, drip, drip, insidious collection of personal data on an industrial scale. It has become so pervasive we no longer notice, even worse we become innocent unwitting carriers of this disease.

Drip, drip, drip, on-line surveys, telephone surveys, crude collection of personal data masquerading as a draw or competition, store loyalty cards, store questionnaires, instagram, facebook, collection of personal data on an industrial scale.

Caffeine and so-called Frank Green smart cups, a crude trawl for personal data, a fake competition dressed up as care for the planet.

Another example from Caffeine and so-called Frank Green smart cups, this time driving traffic from twitter to Instagram.  Again dressed up as care for the planet. Through a tedious serious of links, taken back to the same crude trawl for information dressed up as a competition.

Why?

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Caffeine is free, only not really free, it is a vehicle to deliver advertising to its readers. You may pick it up free, the coffee shop where you found it, has to pay the shipping costs.

The latest issue of Caffeine, issue 31 with the meaningless cover, has a full page advert for Frank Green.

Standart and Drift are not free, do not carry adverts, though Standart does have partners and supporters, for which they are very open and honest and up front about.  What neither do is engage in this crude abuse of their readers, it would cause irreputable damage to their reputation if they did.

The same issue of Caffeine had an ill-informed article on the proposed latte levy, even worse urging readers to oppose the latte levy.  The article just happens to mention in passing, KeepCup and Frank Green, both of which just happen to have full page adverts, KeepCup on the back cover, Frank Green the facing page to the appalling article Could the latte levy kill your local?

Plastic pollution is killing the planet. One of the causes is takeaway disposable coffee cups, something we can all do something about by refusing takeaway coffee, instead, relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served out of glass or ceramic.  Meanwhile Caffeine opposes the proposed latte levy.

Marianna Chrzanowska-Hunt wrote an excellent article on Society Café for Licorne Magazine. Without realising the implications she gave a link to Instagram, it would have been better to have given a link to twitter.

This is not a criticism of Marianna Chrzanowska-Hunt, far from it she is well worth following on twitter if interested in coffee, more so than Caffeine, her excellent tweets on Bath indie coffee shops form the basis of The Bath Coffee Trail, rather she has been cited to illustrate how we can unwittingly aid the collection of personal data.

Instagram is not visible on twitter, it claims rights to your pictures, it is owned by Facebook.

Facebook is disruptive of the Internet, it acts as a walled garden where users exist as bait to entice in other users.

Facebook is not a social network. Facebook exists to collect and abuse personal data. Facebook is currently facing legal action and massive fines across multiple jurisdictions for gathering and abuse of personal data.

We have got into bad habits, where Instagram our photo album, Facebook our diary, documenting all aspects of our personal life with absolutely no idea where this information is going.

For the fraudster, Facebook has become a gold mine.

The call from the bank, from internet service provider is not, it is a phishing scam, terminate the call. Same applies to the helpful caller offering to fix the problem with your computer, a problem you never knew you had.

Suspicious e-mail, do not open, delete, better still mark as junk or phishing scam.

When ordering, only provide the bare minimum of information to service the order, leave the rest blank, or if forced to complete, fill out with false information. Question why this information is required or order from elsewhere.

Do not fall for the fake competition, fill out surveys.

Why the quest for followers? You have no idea who they are, even less what they do with the personal information they glean on you, and not only on you, on your friends too.

All personal information on Facebook, overwrite with fake information, then a few days later delete.

AeroPress

February 22, 2018

Wouldn’t it be fun to see who could brew the best cup of AeroPress coffee? — Tim Varney and Tim Wendelboe

The history of the Aeropress is unusual.

It was not developed as would expect by a company like Hario, a Japanese company renowned for its innovation in coffee brewing.

The design was by Alan Adler, an expert in aerodynamics, not coffee. He wished for a quick and easy way to make a cup of coffee

He invented the Aerobie, in essence a ring frisbee.

What he noticed was the body of the frisbee introduces drag. He therefore developed a ring, where the ring functions in the same manner as an aircraft wing, it provides lift.

He then turned his attention to coffee making.

The cafetiere or French press does not provide even distribution of the flow of water through the coffee, poor quality of extraction, lack of consistency.

The same problem can be experienced with an espresso machine. Watch very carefully next time a barista at work. They carefully level the ground coffee, they press down to compact the coffee. There is skill involved. If the coffee is not level, or if cracks appear in the compacted coffee, do not get even extraction of the coffee, which can result in weak and insipid coffee.

There is no one way or correct way to brew using an AeroPress.

Variables include grind size of the coffee, water temperature and brew time.

AeroPress competitions have proved to be highly popular.

The very first World AeroPress competition was co-organised by Tim Varney and Tim Wendelboe and held at a coffee shop in Oslo.

And taking their cue from these humble beginnings of the first World AeroPress competition, an AeroPress competition organised by the Lincoln Coffee Collective is the pre-launch event for the Lincoln Coffee Festival. And yes, it is being held in a small coffee shop.

Phishing scam

February 22, 2018

A few days ago I received an e-mail purporting to come from HMRC.

I did not open it. To open it risks malware. Nor did I delete. I mark such e-mail as a phishing scam.

The call that comes through purporting to be from your bank.

There has been an attempted fraud on your account.

Oh.

Yes, but do not worry, our fraud team caught it in time.

Can you  before we discuss it any further confirm who you are? We will need to ask you a few questions.

Full name, date of birth, address ….

This is another example of a phishing scam.

Never discuss anything on the phone, and that includes carrying out a survey.

There has been two of these in the last couple of weeks.

One claiming to be a survey by a hospital, another a random survey.

Yet more examples of phishing scams.

For fraudsters a very useful app for their smart phone. Can set the number of where calling from that will appear on the victim’s phone, can set background noise to create the illusion of where calling from.

As I am writing, a call from a fraudster.

Hello, I am from BT Open Reach, I would like to discuss Internet.

Do not have BT Open Reach.

I would like to discuss Internet.

Don’t have Internet, middle of nowhere.

You do not know why I am calling?

Yes, you are a fraudster, I am recording the call. I have a police officer here.

You have a police officer there?

Yes. I have a police officer here, I am recording the call, the police officer would like to talk to you.

The line goes dead.

Facebook is a goldmine for fraudsters. Facebook is not a social network, facebook exists to steal and abuse personal information.

No matter how many times people are advised not to, they post on facebook where they live, schools, work, name of dog, name of partner, date of birth. All of which is valuable information to the fraudster.  And to help the opportunist burglar, we are on holiday.

Once the phishing scam has access to bank account details, the account will be emptied, possibly even before the call ended.

Easy money for a conversation lasting little more than a minute.  Scams that are netting the fraudsters millions of pounds.

The fraudsters recruit students, who recruit more students. Their accounts are used to launder the money.

Phishing scam is not the only fraud, there are many many more.

Vital Nature and associated companies dodgy pills and potions scam. Pills and potions of dubious provenance, laced with lead, several hundred times recommended dosage, billed for stuff not ordered, stuff ordered does not arrived, harassment phone calls, credit card fraud with card details. Scam mail delivered by Royal Mail.  Operates out of France and that may only be a postal address, a front for somewhere else.  By operating from France, outside jurisdiction of Police in the UK.

Commemorative coin scam. Mints offering worthless commemorative coins. That being only the first part of the scam. Second part, unsolicited coins arrive, if not returned at your expense will be billed.

Dodgy builder scam.  Work that did not need doing. Details of house security passed to opportunist burglars.

Australian Lottery scam. You have won but need to pay administrative fee to release your winnings.

Long lost relative scam. Would love to visit, if could only could  afford air fare from Australia.

Could the latte levy kill your local?

February 13, 2018

The latest issue of Caffeine, has a lead article Could the latte levy kill your local?  It is nonsense and shows a lack of understanding of either the proposed latte levy, its impact or why it is necessary.

The simple answer to the question posed is no.

We have a simple principle, the polluter shall pay.

It is not acceptable that coffee shops externalise their costs onto the rest of society, which is what they are doing with plastic-lined coffee cups.

The 25p latte levy is not to penalise coffee shops, it is to make them pay their externalised costs, but more importantly, to change behaviour.

In the UK we are throwing away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year. These coffee cups cannot be recycled. Although they appear to be paper, they are plastic lined, and therein lies the problem, these plastic lined coffee cups cannot be recycled and are adding to the growing problem of waste.

The planet is being smothered in plastic, sea life is being destroyed by plastic.

Compostable paper cups are a step in the right direction, but they are not the answer. If I have a coffee in a compostable cup, I am on my way home, I can drop on the compost heap. But if not what then? Therein lies the dilemma. It will join the general waste stream.

How long to decompose? I dropped a couple on the compost heap a few weeks ago. Not a lot a happening. It is though winter.

I would like to see a few people carry out this experiment. After use, drop compostable cups on a compost heap, monitor what happens.

Reusable coffee cups are not the answer either. Bulky, expensive and a pain to carry around.

I have yet to see anyone buy a KeepCup or clones thereof, let alone see anyone walk in a coffee shop and use one.

Conversations in coffee shops bear this out. Even when substantial discounts are on offer, take up is low.  Though this may be about to change.

I was in a coffee shop, where Frank Green cups were on sale. Ugly,  inelegant and made of plastic. I asked how much did they cost, what discount if any if used? No one knew. They did not know because no one could ever recall one being sold let alone used. They could not even find it on the till.

Where reusable coffee cups come into their own, is if targeting office workers popping out for a coffee, and only then if coupled with a substantial discount.

Compostable cups, reusable cups, are addressing the symptoms not the underlying problem of grab it and go consumerist culture.

We have to encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served in ceramic or glass, make takeaway coffee socially unacceptable.

Why do we not grant coffee the respect it deserves?

We wax lyrically about the terroir. We would not dream of swigging a good wine out of a plastic-lined coffee cup. Why therefore do we not treat a good coffee with the same respect?

Those who will lose out will be the chains, not the indie coffee shops. Their businesses model is built on grab it and go undrinkable coffee.

The 25p latte levy will not be absorbed any more than the 5p plastic bag charge is absorbed. To believe otherwise is to entirely miss the point of the levy. It is there as a deterrent to change behaviour, not to penalise coffee shops or coffee drinkers.

All the indie coffee shops I have spoken to welcome the 25p latte levy, they see it to their benefit, plus they see the environmental damage caused by disposable coffee cups.

Since the policy has been proposed, it appears to have focused minds.

One coffee shop I spoke to had had KeepCups on sale for a couple of weeks, more to see how they sold, than anything else. They sold like hot cakes. The day I was there, three had been sold that day.

Another coffee shop has already changed to compostable coffee cups and will have KeepCups on sale soon.

Other coffee shops have told me they are looking into both compostable cups and KeepCups.

Four Boroughs offer a substantial discount which is a good idea, more should follow their excellent example, though I prefer the elegance of KeepCup.

Or is it simply a clever PR gimmick rather like Pret a Manger offering organic filter coffee at 49p a cup, with no reusable  cups on sale? Four Boroughs are not offering a discount if you bring in a reusable cup for a refill.

Research has shown, need to both offer KeepCup or clone thereof and a substantial discount to make any impact on reducing use of disposable cups. Either one on its own has little impact.

I recommended to a coffee shop about to open, buy in KeepCup, sell at cost as a promotion during first week, offer a discount for a refill. They are an integral part of a new bus station. Bus passengers would have been tempted and intrigued by their fellow passengers. Sadly my recommendations fell on deaf ears. Even worse they stuck up a poster telling bus passengers the coffee shop was not a waiting room, in other words bus passengers not welcome.

No one will be paying a latte levy, not if they use a compostable cup, not if they bring a cup for a refill, not if they sit and relax with a coffee served in ceramic or glass.

What we need is dialogue between baristas and clientele, as to what we must do to get rid of disposable coffee cups.

Rather than writing nonsense and showing lack of understanding of the issues, even worse asking readers to lobby Members of Parliament to oppose the latte levy, Caffeine should be urging its readers to lobby hard for the latte levy to be brought in at the next Budget.

By calling for no latte levy, Caffeine is not helping either indie coffee shops or the planet, they are working hand in glove with the chains who behind the scenes are lobbying hard to block the latte levy.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy.

The Westminster Collection

February 7, 2018

Latest scam from The Westminster Collection is the RAF 100 commemorative coin.

Delivered in an official looking envelope, with accompanying sob story of two WWII aircrew, and what better way to commemorate these brave aircrew than buying a worthless commemorative coin.

Not only that, you have even been specially selected for a discounted special offer, you and every other mug who has received the letter, fools and their money easily parted.

Veterans appear to have been targeted. Has a veteran organisation handed over details? Worrying and depressing if that be the case. But equally could be on a scam list.

The Princess Di coin scam, Falkland War coin scam and many others form what is known as the mint scam.

These are not the only scams. Vital Nature and associated companies pills and potions scam.

These worthless commemorative coins forms only part of the commemorative mint scam. The next part, if foolishly part with money, will be supplied unsolicited coins, billed if not send them back at your expense.

Send a polite letter, have not ordered unsolicited goods, will be kept for ten days then disposed of, onus on the mint to arrange collection at their expense.

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 state that unsolicited goods which have not been ordered and are sent ‘out of the blue’ can be treated as an unconditional gift; in other words, you can keep them or dispose of them as you wish. The Regulations make it a criminal offence to demand payment or threaten legal action to obtain payment for unsolicited goods or services.

If as has been reported RAF Association has endorsed this coin, the trustees should resign for legitimising a scam.

If wish to commemorate aircrew from WWII, visit International Bomber Command Centre, give them a donation.

Please warn veterans of this scam.

Reusable coffee cups are not the answer

January 16, 2018

Reusable coffee cups are not the answer to the growing waste problem of plastic pollution.

It seems to be that [reusable cups] are the best solution if we can get to that. — Caroline Lucas

In the UK, we throw away 2.5 billion coffee cups every year.

These coffee cups are not as first appears paper, they are paper lined with plastic and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined coffee cups cannot be recycled and contribute to the growing problem of plastic pollution.

 

Contrary to what Caroline Lucas has claimed, reusable coffee cups are not the answer.

I have yet to be in a coffee shop and seen a reusable cup sold, let alone used. When I have inquired, I have been told take up is minimal, even when a substantial discount is on offer.

There is also as James Hoffman has drawn attention to, a hygiene problem if people bring in their own cups to be washed.

Compostable coffee cups of little use, unless a compost heap on which to deposit.

Resusable cups are expensive, bulky, inconvenient to carry around. With the exception of office workers popping out for a coffee to take back to the office and even then only if coupled with a discount, unlikely to have any impact.

Pret a Manger started the New Year with filter coffee at 49p a cup, a 50p discount if brought own cup. In the absence of any in-store information, lack of reusable cups on sale, will make little difference. Little more than a PR stunt.

Why are we not seeing any statistics published? I would expect to see a weekly report, to see what impact, if any, in reducing the use of plastic-lined takeaway cups.

Without seeing any results from Pret a Manger SumofUs have launched a petition asking that Costa follow suit.

This is tinkering at the edges, addressing the symptoms not the underlying problem.

The underlying problem is the grab it and go consumerist culture, encouraged by chains like Costa and Pret a Manger, it is what their businesses model is built on.

What we should be doing is encouraging relax with a cup of speciality coffee served from glass or ceramic in an indie coffee shop. Only then are we gong to reduce the plastic pollution.

We should also be pushing for the introduction of a 25p latte levy at the next Budget.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy.