Warning: nicotine may induce authoritarian urges, warped judgements and loss of purpose
Smokeless tobacco products, e-cigarettes and novel nicotine products have astonishing potential to reduce the expected one billion premature deaths from tobacco in the 21st Century. Yet some health organisations are spreading misinformation, stoking up unwarranted fears and pretending there is much [...]
In my last post I asked for nominations for a worse policy than the proposed ‘Health in Pregnancy Grant’. An anonymous contributor proposes the Winter Fuel Payment, which is designed to help pensioners fight off the cold over winter. I think ‘anonymous’ may be on to something…
As the chart shows, this unconditional [...]
There seems to be a plan to give pregnant women £200 and training in nutrition – it will be a ‘Health in Pregnancy Grant’ [Pregnant women to get healthy food grant - Telegraph] [BBC]. Despite the recently announced end of spin, this was spun in the media several days before its real announcement, [...]
An excellent new publication from the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, Achieving culture change: a policy framework. It’s open for discussion until 31 August and will be finalised once they have had views in. It’s an important area because many policy objectives depend on influencing, or are thwarted by, deep-seated attitudes and entrenched behaviours… [...]
We’ve had some horrible urban flooding impacts recently. But the outlook is pretty bleak too – the chart is from the 2004 Foresight Report Future Flooding, showing both potentially high future costs (rising from £270m to up to £15 billion) and large uncertainties involved. Now we have been reminded how bad it can [...]
Long awaited 1st of July arrives, and most enclosed workplaces (including pubs and restaurants) in England will go smoke-free today [BBC]. It’s a triumph for all involved – both campaigners and government insiders – following a sustained struggle. It’s also a vital next step in dragging down smoking rates – see chart based [...]
I was pleased to see the schools inspector Ofsted weighing in on religious education (RE) in schools. The report Making sense of religion: a report on religious education in schools and the impact of locally agreed syllabuses [release / report] is interesting – though stops short of a full broadside on the very idea of [...]
I’ve had a bad case of blog block – now over – the whole month of May without posting to Bacon Butty… not least due to a hideous computer crash. It’s amazing just how much embodied time is stored in a computer! Anyway, it’s been a busy period and there is much to be said, [...]
Mia culpa on the cycling and jumping red lights thing [see silly Cyclists obey the law and die post]. An excellent analysis by Marianne Promberger completely fillets the figures and trashes conclusions drawn in the media (and reported uncritically by me…) read her analysis here. For London, the proportion of cycle casualties (fatal, serious and [...]
Women are more at risk of dying in cycle accidents, it seems, because they are more likely to obey the law and stop at traffic lights than the typical male ‘warrior of the road’ [see article in The Times: Women cyclists 'risk death' by obeying traffic lights].
After endless close shaves or nerve grinding moments, [...]
There’s much to inspire disgust in the Virginia Tech massacre – obviously the hideous acts and resulting toll of dead, injured, terrified, bereaved and traumatised but also the excess of righteous hindsight about what should have been done and the gun lobby arguing for guns on campus and that armed self defence would have prevented [...]
There is something stunning in the brilliance of Google Earth [download] – a streaming map of the world in the form of satellite photography with the mean to zoom from planet to street level in scale. ‘Layers’ are overlaid on the map images showing an ever expanding range of surface features: national boundaries, roads, video [...]
There is emerging conventional wisdom that people are concerned about the environment as never before, but are unwilling or unable to do much about it – for example, from last week’s Independent… Britons unwilling to change despite climate change. And that’s not unusual… but how realistic is it?
The Independent on Sunday reached a new peak of absurdity last weekend when it blazed over its front page: Cannabis – an apology and reversed its 1997 campaign for legalisation of the dope, apologising to its readers for leading them astray. The Indy frets that:
Record numbers of teenagers are requiring drug treatment as a [...]
Good speech and blog by David Miliband last week – opening up what should be big questions for everyone involved in the environment: what do we want to do with our land?
The vast majority of land in England, perhaps up to 87% is ‘green space’ – farming, forests and urban green space… see chart [...]
Our elected chamber, the House of Commons, has just turned in an ‘indicative’ (ie. non-binding) vote in favour of a 100% elected second chamber – currently the House of Lords, which is currently formed by appointments, hereditary rights and bishops (see chart / full data). MPs were asked to vote for various combinations of elected [...]
I visited Nim’s Kitchen on Saturday evening, a splendid Thai restaurant in Norwood near Crystal Palace – very tasty food, good ambience and buzz, with excellent attentive service.
Nim’s Kitchen is a very good dining experience, but the truly remarkable thing about Nim’s Kitchen is the eponymous Nim herself -what she’s been though is shocking. [...]
The politics of the now-closed road pricing petition have been terrible for the environment and quality of life, with 1.8 million people given a space to vent mob rage and duck difficult choices. Progress will slow, unjustified concessions will be made, and hesitation and equivocation will be the order of the day – at least [...]
A new system for citizens’ petitions on the Prime Minister’s web site has attracted well over 1 million signatures for a motion to: “Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy“. Extensive news coverage [BBC] and ministerial response [BBC] have followed. Despite a recent speech on Winning the debate on road pricing, Transport Secretary [...]
The German language provides English speakers with some excellent words for which we have only awkward phrases, including:
Schadenfreude – joy in the misfortune of others Realpolitik – power politics based on expediency not ethics Weltschmerz – ‘world pain’ or feeling of melancholia about the world Zeitgeist – spirit of the age Übermensch – the [...]
Scottish independence is in the air. It’s the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union and people both sides of the border are restless with the settlement. In Scotland, partial devolution has intensified the hunger rather than quench the thirst for complete autonomy and the governing Liberal-Labour coalition is losing out to the opposition separatist [...]
Edge, the quite-pleased-with-itself forum for “some the world’s most interesting minds”, has posed its 2007 World Question: what are you optimistic about and why? [World Question Center] And it’s worth dipping into.
I particularly liked the contribution from Daniel Dennett, the American Philosopher, that combined urgency about real-world concerns like climate change and development, with [...]
My favourite Xmas present this year is a beautiful shyrdak (actual one pictured) from Kyrgyzistan. A shyrdak is a felt rug originally designed for a yurt. It has a base layer of felt onto the top of which is sewn a second felt layer containing the patterning. No felt is wasted because the artisans produce [...]
Terrific pamphlet by Tom Burke and Nick Mabey of E3G. Their Europe in the World publication is a vision for Europe painted on the broadest possible canvas – an inspiring call for Europe to cast off its paralysing anxieties and face the globalising world with confidence and purpose. This is about defining a European mission [...]
Several interesting meetings last week… including with:
the Sustainable Development Commission and National Consumer Council on their I will if you will report on sustainable consumption and production; the government’s new Office of Climate Change on reducing carbon emissions from the housing stock [see interesting 40 percent house concept]; stimulating brainstorming session on the [...]
I was asked at work if environmental concerns are now setting the agenda – what with “Vote Blue, Go Green“, green tax proposals, the appointment of a blogger to run Defra, and heavy news coverage in recent months for matters environmental – especially climate change, energy and droughts. IPSOS-Mori has tracked what is bothering Britons [...]
I attended a civil partnership ceremony this weekend – an arrangement for same-sex couples to make a life-long commitment and to secure the same sort of legal rights as married different-sex couples. These came into being in December 2005 through the Civil Partnership Act 2004. The ceremony and whole day was absolutely terrific and congratulations [...]
I’m just reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (Guardian review). For those of us that spent our school days making intense, and supposedly clinching, arguments to religious friends of the type: “if God made the world, then what made God?”, Dawkins’ polemic offers an unvarnished orgy of smugness – the simple joy of having [...]
A fire alarm and office evacuation at work on Friday reminded of the capacity for profound evil that lurks just below the surface in humankind. Once granted the authority bestowed by a fire warden’s jacket, normally mild-mannered and obsequious people can become frightening tyrants, barking orders and becoming blind to reason or sense.
A letter in The Observer (see the one from Moira Davies here) took Ruth Kelly to task for her comments on ‘work-life balance’ and her apparent determination to put her family before her job as a Cabinet Minister. A difficult area, but I wonder if the chief executive of a FTSE 100 company would get [...]