A Video From We Own It

A short video from campaign group We Own It.

INTRODUCTION

This short but powerful video was brought to my attention by an email from We Own It, and I am sufficiently impressed by it to share it here, so that those of my followers on this blog who do not use Twitter, Facebook or Youtube can see it.

THE VIDEO

Some Suggestions Re Public Transport

Some thoughts on public transport, prompted in part by Lord Adonis’ resignation statement.

INTRODUCTION

The timing of this post is due to the resignation statement of Lord Adonis, a man who I have very little in common with, but who hits the nail on the head with his resignation statement, which you can read in full, courtesy of The Guardianhere (an excerpt is reproduced below, courtesy of twitter):

adonisresig

EAST COAST FRANCHISE LOWLIGHTS

The first time the East Coast Franchise hit difficulties, it was being run by National Express. The then government took it into public ownership, albeit with the (stupid) rider that it be reprivatised as soon as it was back in the black. On reprivatisation it passed into the hands of Virgin Trains, run by a combination of tax exile Richard Branson and the Stagecoach Group (as a non-driver who lives in Norfolk I know them too well and like them too little for comfort). The East Coast Franchise is now back in trouble, and the current transport secretary, Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling, as well as being a strong contender in the ‘most incompetent minister ever’ contest is such a ‘private good, public bad’ zealot that rather than take the logical option of taking it back into public ownership is bailing it out at vast cost, thereby setting a horrendous precedent which will enable any other rail franchise that hits trouble to demand a bail out. 

RENATIONALISATION AS START POINT

Not only should the East Coast Franchise be renationalised now, with it being made clear that it will not be privatised again, the whole railway network needs to be renationalised. The Labour party have laid out how this can be achieved – namely by refusing to put each franchise up for tender as and when it expires. For further detail check out We Own It’s Railways page. However, this is only a beginning – both because railways are only one part of public transport – there are also buses, and because one needs to consider how the system should be run. As I was typing this, the following came through on twitter from We Own It:

we own it buses tweet

Bus and railway services need renationalising, and they need to be run jointly. As to how they should be run – well there are two groups of people who should be represented in the body that runs public transport services: those who use the services and those who provide the services. If services are to be publicly owned (and these should be), they need to be fully publicly accountable. 

SOME EXTRA RESOURCES

I have three final links to share which relate to this piece:

  • A second piece from the Guardian on the Adonis Resignation
  • Mike Sivier of Vox Political has offered his take here.
  • The Mirror has demonstrated yet another way in which privatisation is failing us, with fares going up by an average of 3.4% (when we already pay on average five times as much as our fellow Europeans for a service that is probably not even on fifth as good as most of them get – I have travelled extensively in Europe over the years and most countries provide far better services than are available here in Britain) – we have on average the oldest carriages since records began (that average is 21 years old, with the Caledonian Sleeper holding an unwanted record with 42 year old carriages).

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here is you reward for reaching the end of this piece:

TW30TW29TW28climbing squirrelrunning squirrelTW27TW26TW25TW23TW22TW21TW20TW19TW18TW17TW16TW15TW14Sun on the Great Ouse11 lapwingslapwings and gullMallard drakes and white duck

 

Upcoming Local Elections

Politics and nature combine to form one YUGE blog post!

INTRODUCTION

In my part of the world there are local elections happening on May 4th, so I thought I would use some thoughts about them as the starting point for this blog. I will go on from that to sharing various interesting and important stuff, and of course there will be some of my own photographs.

LOCAL ELECTIONS

Although my polling card is safely in my possession I have yet to receive any communication from any of the candidates, and can therefore talk only in general terms. I will definitely be voting. Since I became of voting age more years ago than I care to reveal I have only once failed to vote in an election I was entitled to vote in, and that was in the first election for Norfolk Police Commissioner. I will not be voting for any right wing parties or individual candidates. After their massive betrayal of those who voted for them (myself one of them) in 2010 the Liberal Democrats have much ground to make up and at this moment the odds against me putting my cross in that particular box are of the “write your own ticket” variety. While it is possible that I will be impressed by someone standing as an Independent candidate it is not very likely. This leaves me looking at two options:

  1. Labour – if the candidate is of the right type and not someone who will use their entire campaign to bash their party’s  twice elected leader I may be induced to vote for them.
  2. Green – this party stands for many of the things that I  believe in, and I am not going to hold the entire party to account for a mistake made by one of its co-leaders (Jonathan Bartley endorsing “light it up blue”, which readers of this blog will realise is an absolute guarantee of an entry in my bad books). If they can find a candidate with the qualities shown by Sian Berry in her campaign for London Mayor and subsequently in her work as a Greater London Assembly member I will certainly by influenced in this direction.

I will probably be voting Green because I see the way forward as being in a red/green partnership, and I think the Green side of that partnership needs strengthening. Also, a Green vote has the merit of being a vote cast unequivocally in favour of Proportional Representation. 

After this start it is time for some…

POLITICAL SHARING

I start with a piece by Richard Murphy titled “Time For a New Political Party?”, in which he looks at a suggestion originally made by Richard Dawkins in a piece in the New Statesman. While I would say that the launch of a new political party should be delayed until FPTP is replaced with PR (under FPTP the Tories have a built-in advantage that would only be strengthened by the addition of a new party) I believe that Professor Murphy is pretty well on the money with his suggestions about this new party. Please click on the screenshot below to access this post, and if so inclined add your voice to those commenting on it:

TRUK

Next, from the Skwawkbox comes the most recent piece on the story I have dubbed Coynegate – the massive breaches of the Data Protection Act by right wing candidate for Unite general secretary Gerard Coyne. To read this story, titled “EXCLUSIVE: COYNE TELLS BBC HIS LABOUR DATA USE ‘CONCLUDED’. IT ISN’T.” please click on the image below:

coyne stopped amended

My next link is to the homepage of the We Own It Campaign’s website. To find out for yourself what they are all about click on the screenshot below:

WOI

Next, courtesy of DPAC comes a public service piece titled “Important information on how disabled people can enforce their right to travel on buses“. Although the title is on this occasion set up as a link, I also provide a screenshot below on which you can click to get to the original:

DPAC

The focus, including my photographs is about to shift to Nature (note to my many  fellow autistic bloggers although you do not feature in this post I have some of your finest stuff bookmarked for use in the very near future), and the turning point is a campaign against the large scale felling of trees in and around Sheffield. I have two links in connection with this. First, for the benefit of those of you who use social media, a Thunderclap, which you can boost by adding your own connections on facebook, twitter and tumblr. I link to it by way of the screenshot below:

ss

The second link on this subject is to the page that lists all the campaigns in and around Sheffield that are now grouped under the umbrella of Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG). I link by way of a screenshot once again:

Sheffield Tree Action Groups

The last piece of shared content for today before moving towards my photographs comes to you from Sweden, and has a section to itself:

ANNA INTRODUCES EMMELINA

Anna is a Swedish blogger who needs to no further introduction to readers of this blog. As for Emmelina, that will have to wait for the moment. Yesterday Anna put up a post about a very curious little creature she had photographed on her door, which she called “Who’s This?” I thought that the little creature was a stick insect, but the reveal when it came today was far more interesting. It turns out that the creature is actually a moth that resembles a stick insect. Here is a link to the piece in which Anna reveals the identity of the creature. Finally, revealing the Emmelina part of the title, here is Wikipedia on Emmelina Monodactyla.

PHOTOGRAPHS

To end the post here are some of my own photographs…

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The first bee I have caught on camera this year.

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Using a derelict shop front to explain the importance of King John to King’s Lynn’s history is sensible. My main quibble with the new statue of him being…
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That is bad quality work, not that it is of a bad quality human (though he was certainly that, in spades).

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The first ducklings of the year. I hope that some at least of them survive the marauding Herring Gulls (this is NOT a joke btw)

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I have bagged a number of peacock butterflies of late, but these light coloured ones fly both faster and for a greater percentage of their lives, so for the third time today this is a first of the year.

 

 

 

Mainly Science

Links to a selection of interesting and/ or important pieces I have found in the last day or so and some of today’s photographs.

INTRODUCTION

I will be sharing various links I have found in the last day or so in this post. I also have some photographs from this afternoon.

THE GREAT BUS RIP OFF

This is my most recent find, courtesy of campaign group We Own It. They have a piece in The Mirror today which you can access here. Below is an infographic map showing the amount of money from British bus services that goes directly into the pockets of shareholders:

As a postscript to the above, the only reason the figure for East Anglia (my region) is so low is because being largely rural and hence fairly sparsely populated it does not have many bus services.

POLITICAL IDIOCY  – TORIES GO AFTER SCHOOLS WITH SOLAR PANELS

Instead of sensibly rewarding those who try do their bit by using solar panels to generate some of their energy this government is hitting some of them with extra bills. Private Schools (i.e. fee-paying schools, and the sort of school to which MPs, especially Tory MPs, send their children) will not feel the effects of this because in a spectacular misuse of the English language they are classed as “charities”. State schools (those that ordinary folk attend, as a few eons ago, I did) pay business rates which means that those state schools with solar panels will be paying a combined £1.8 million in extra rates for having them.

To charge anywhere more money because they have solar panels seems utterly boneheaded to me, but to charge schools, who should be setting positive examples to their students, for having solar panels takes the stupidity to level unanticipated even by Einstein when he said “only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe”. 

To read the full article that inspired this section, courtesy of The Guardian, please click on the image below:

Business rate changes are a big setback for solar projects in state schools, critics say.

TWO STORIES OF STELLAR DEATH

The first of these stories is a commemoration of…

SUPERNOVA 1987-A

As the second part of its name suggests it is now 30 years since the explosion of this star was witnessed on Earth, and to commemorate that anniversary some new observations have been made of the stellar remnant by the Hubble Space Telescope. To read the story in full, which comes from ibtimes.com, please click on the image below:

Supernova 1987a

My second piece in this section comes from NASA’s official website and concerns…

THE DISCOVERY OF THE
UNIVERSE’S BRIGHTEST PULSARS

When a supernova collapses, if the remnant weighs more than 1.4 solar masses it continues to contract beyond the white dwarf stage to form a neutron star, which is stable between 1.4 and 3 solar masses (beyond 3 solar masses the crushing continues until all that is left is a black hole). A spinning neutron star is known as a pulsar. To read about the discovery of the new record holding pulsar please click on the image below.

NGC 5907 ULX is the brightest pulsar ever observed

DOWNLOAD A FREE POSTER
FROM THE NEW SCIENTIST

New Scientist are at the moment offering everyone who creates an account on their site (it is free, and very easy, to so) a free download of a You Are Here poster showing us our place in the Milky Way. If interested, click on the edited version of my poster below, which I have reduced for this specific purpose, while making sure I still have the original.

NS_MILKY_WAY_POSTER - Edited

ROCK SOLID EVIDENCE THAT WE ARE NOW LIVING IN THE ANTHROPOCENE

This is the first fruit of my creating an account for myself on New Scientist. The article, which I have linked to by way of the image below (I have also included the explanation of the image from the site) is about the 208 minerals that humans have created during their tenure on the planet (yes, the primary evidence on which the article is based is quite literally rock solid).

Simonkolleite found in a copper mine in Arizona

Mines are a good place to find minerals like this Simonkolleite – evidence of the impact humans are having on the planet

PHOTOGRAPHS

To finish this post here are some photographs I took while out walking this afternoon:

gate in old wallOld wallBlackbird4LBBBlackbird3Blackbird2Blackbird 1Red MountGuanock gateMinsterMoorhens

NAS West Norfolk Just Giving Page

Announcing NAS West Norfolk’s Just Giving page, and sharing a few other interesting and important bits.

INTRODUCTION

I have a few other links to share as well, but this will be one of my rare posts not to feature any photographs. 

THE NAS WEST NORFOLK
JUST GIVING PAGE

This was discussed and agreed on at our branch committee meeting yesterday, and is now ready for viewing. To see the page itself please click on the screenshot below:

jg

TWO PIECES WITH TRANSPORT LINKS

The first of these two pieces is a campaign run by We Own It titled We Want Buses for People not Profit. For more please click the screenshot below:

bus

My second piece with transport connections is an article by Patrick Barkham, a well known writer on nature, published in The Guardian, about a piece of road-building that is in the pipeline and if allowed to go ahead will be incredibly damaging to the environment. The development is planned because the road in question struggles to cope with the traffic that uses it. However, extending roads (as is planned in this case) or building new roads is proven not to alleviate this type of problem – it just generates even more road traffic, with attendant problems of noise, pollution and the destruction of sometimes priceless nature and habitats. Why is there so much traffic on Britain’s roads? Because our public transport system is a complete joke – and that is where attention should be devoted. To read Barkham’s article please click on the image below:

Shrill carder bee

FOR AN ELECTED UPPER HOUSE

There have been recent damning revelations about the conduct of certain members of the House of Lords. The single most damning incident caught be a fly-on-the-wall documentary was of a certain peer who arrived by taxi, told the driver to keep the engine running, went into the house to trouser his £300 daily attendance allowance and then got back in the taxi. This has prompted the Electoral Reform Society to launch a petition calling for an elected upper house to replace the Lords. To view and if so inclined sign and share the petition click on the screenshot below:

electeduh

ALWAYS #HELP TO GET HOME

This is a campaign launched by the NAS nationally. Full detail about the campaign is available here. There is a petition running as part of this campaign which you can access by clicking on the image below:

 

COINS, TOYS, MILITARIA AND A FEW LINKS

Some of the highlights from the early lots in the July auction, and a few good links.

INTRODUCTION

Although the links I shall be sharing have nothing in common with the main part of this post, which is about the start of imaging for James and Sons July auction, there are not enough of them to justify a post all to themselves, so I am tacking them on.

THURSDAY: COINS

On Thursday the imaging I was doing was all of coin lots…

60
Lot 60, the lowest numbered lot that I imaged on Thursday (I scanned these lots at high resolution, a number of lots at a time – scan each face, and bolt together to make the main image…
60-a
…while keeping the individual images to enable viewers to see them in closer focus.

60-b75-a9393-a93-b102102-a102-b

108
These ‘cartwheel pennies’ were produced only in 1797, because it was discovered that the amount of copper in them was worth more than the face value of the coin. They were therefore removed from circulation, which had the effect of causing a coin shortage.

108-a108-b

FRIDAY

Yesterday’s imaging was more varied, featuring a few more coin lots, toys and some militaria…

151
This is lot 151, and will start the militaria section – the four sets of medals that I arrnaged around the commemorative plaque were awarded to four brothers who served together.
151-a
The first of five close-ups of parts of the whole.

151-b151-c151-d151-e301303304307308309120120-a120-b132132-a132-b133133-a133-b135135-a135-b

LINKS

First of all, a link to an excellent in=depth piece about the murder of Jo Cox, written by kittysjones.

Then a link to two excellent letters in the Guardian about the Baker Small scandal – the first has among its signatories Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society.

My two remaining links are both from weownit, one being to a petition against a plan by the government to ban councils from setting up bus companies to run their own services, and the other to some more detailed information as to why publicly owned buses would be an improvement.

Rugby, Links and Pictures

An account of this weekend’s six nations action plus some pictures and some links.

INTRODUCTION

The third weekend of the six nations rugby tournament is done and dusted. As indicated in the title I also have some links and pictures to share.

THE SIX NATIONS

On Friday night Wales took on France at the Principality (nee Millennium) Stadium. Yesterday’s two matches featured Italy versus Scotland at Stadio Olimpico and England versus Ireland at Twickenham.

WALES V FRANCE

Wales came into this match with one win and one draw to their name, France with wins over Scotland and Italy (a record which flattered them – given a decent kicker Italy would have beaten them and they were not convincing in the second game either). The match was fairly close throughout, and not of the highest quality. The Welsh emerged victorious and thus temporarily sat at the top of the table.

ITALY V SCOTLAND

Since Italy were included in the tournament, making it the Six Nations, these two sides have accrued 14 wooden spoons between them (Italy 10, Scotland 4) and few would bet against one or other adding to that tally this year. Often of late Italy have come to grief in the kicking department (see above) so it was ironic that on a day when Kelly Haimona was flawless with the boot they were well beaten, and are now very likely to finish bottom.

ENGLAND V IRELAND

England came into this match having won both games, unconvincingly against Scotland in the Calcutta Cup match and very comfortably against Italy. Ireland, winners in 2014 and 2015 had started with a draw and a defeat. England dominated the first half but failed to register the points to reflect that, and when James Haskell got himself sin-binned (for the fifth time in his international career) defeat was more than a possibility. However England were only one point behind when Haskell was able to rejoin the action, and two converted tries in a short space of time thereafter put them 13 points ahead. Although Ireland pressed hard in the closing stages England had done enough and on the balance of play over the whole 80 minutes their victory was well deserved.

THE TOURNAMENT SO FAR

England now lead with three wins from three games, Wales are second, and France third, with Scotland currently fourth, Ireland fifth and Italy sixth. England and Wales face each other in their next match, and the winner of that will be a strong favourite for the trophy, with France likely to finish third. Ireland, Scotland and Italy are fighting out the bottom half of the table. Thus far the quality of the play has not been especially high.

PHOTOGRAPHIC INTERLUDE

After a big chunk of text, here are some pictures…

LINKS

Although there are not that many of them I am splitting these links into sections, starting with:

TTIP LEGAL ADVICE

This is a direct link to Michael Bowsher’s legal advice about TTIP.

COSMOS UP

A link to a very interesting piece about Asteroid 2013 TX68, accompanied by an image:

Asteroid

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Three links, and also three pictures, the latter showing how I have combined two metal badges to make a composite public transport badge. Since I am talking about public transport, here is a reminder of my London transport themed website,
www.londontu.be on which I have already posted two of the links.

Citymetric expose in great detail the lack of a business case for the controversial garden bridge.

Following on from the previous link, change.org are running a petition against the building of the garden bridge – please sign and share.

The last link before the pictures that end this post comes courtesy of we own it and is a call to stop some our finest stations from being sold.

Composite badge
Both sides of the two combined badges in one picture.
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The front off= the ‘composite badge’
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The reverse side.