Posts tagged ‘watermelons’

An Attenwibble round-up

I was going to write something about the deluded Malthusian fool otherwise known as David Attenborough and his latest piece of twaddle but others managed to eviscerate his drivel before I got a chance to:

Meat, glorious meat…

Given that it is the Christmas silly season, stupidity from those who think that they are our betters is only to be expected. Thus, on the heels of David Cameron saying he wants minimum pricing for alcohol, we have Professor Tim Lang of City University, an advisor to Department for the Elimination/Eradication of Farming and Rural Affairs under the last government and now on the Mayor of London’s Food Board, telling us that we eat too much meat.

*pauses for a bacon sandwich*

According to the good prof, we should go back to those times when meat was only consumed on high days and holidays. If we did this we would supposedly be healthier (less obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes) and help Gaia all at the same time.

*pauses for a medium rare fillet steak*

It would appear that Tim needs to study his history a bit more because, whilst he is correct to say that meat consumption was lower, he doesn’t appear to understand why this was.

Put simply, they were poorer. In the middle ages (and I accept I am generalising here) the serfs working the fields for their feudal landlord only ate meat at certain times because they couldn’t afford to have it every day. The wealthy (the nobility and the clergy) though could and thus did eat meat pretty much on daily basis.

Thankfully for all of us things have changed for the better since then. The majority of us are no longer breaking our backs working the land in the hope of growing enough that, once tithes are taken into account, we can afford to feed ourselves and our families. The revolutions in agriculture and industry from the 18th century onwards meant that more food was produced for less effort and thus real term costs fell.

I would suggest to Tim that, in future, he consults his university’s history department but looking at their website it appears that City University does not have one…

Or is he, as seems common with the Green agenda, suggesting that we throw out almost three hundred years of progress and go back being subsistence farmers? Only this time, no doubt, it will be with him and his fellow travellers as the feudal landlords…

I’m hungry. Who’s for some pork scratchings?

Watching the Detectives Rubbish

Living in Britain I as do I have become accustomed to the fact that, however much I don’t like it, I am spied upon on a daily basis by surveillance cameras operated by all sorts of public bodies and private companies under the nebulous idea of ‘safety’. How a fixed camera emplacement, unlikely to ever be watched in real time 24/7, keeps me safe is, as yet, a still unanswered question.

It should then really come as no surprise to me to learn that Newcastle University – or rather their School of Computing Science and their Culture Lab in conjunction with the universities of Lincoln and Duisburg-Essen – have decided to take surveillance one step further and are placing camera phones in bins – all in the name of encouraging recycling.

The ‘BinCam‘ (as it is somewhat obviously named) scheme works by having an app on the ‘phone rigged to take a photo of the contents every time the lid closes. The picture is then uploaded to Facebook for anyone to who adds the BinCam app to their profile to view. It is also sent to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk where a new Human Intelligence Test is created and some lucky soul somewhere gets to identify the contents of the bin (food, recyclable items) visible in the image. Two scores are then awarded to each bin – one for each category aforementioned – and at the end of each week the bins are ranked in a league.

So far five student households have signed up to the scheme and Anja Thieme, post-grad student and project leader says of it so far:

“A few times we even saw people throwing something away and then going back into the bin to take it out again.? During the focus groups, the students said they felt like the bin was watching them and that it definitely made them think twice about what they were throwing away.?? At the same time they felt motivated by the online league table to recycle more and improve their rating.”

No dear, what we have here is not a sudden conversion to the delights of recycling and the joys of sustainability by the participating students but rather a bunch of score whores all obsessed with being the top dog.

No matter what the field of human endeavour, put enough people in the same place and competition will always result – especially if there is some form of reward involved.

Nevertheless the university intends to extend this ‘competition’ to more student houses at the start of the next academic year with their ‘Waste Manager’ – a title that surely speaks for itself – saying:

“Students have busy lives and recycling competes with other demands. Anything that makes recycling easier is good – but when it is fun and innovative like BinCam it really encourages participation. The use of Facebook and the community peer pressure is fascinating and I am looking forward to introducing the application to other parts of the campus.”

Busy lives? Other demands? Unless things have changed radically from my own days then those demands are likely to be nothing more strenuous than drinking, surfing the ‘net, playing computer games and watching lots of TV. Plus some studying.

The idea is novel, I’ll grant you that, but how long until the novelty wears off and the students get sick of it? Will their new found enthusiasm for recycling hold or will they simply go back to what they were doing before?

Of course, if it does take off, then how long before some idiot civil servant or politician either here or in the EU decides to make the whole thing compulsory – and backed up with the obligatory fines for those who step out of line?

Children? We don’t need no stinkin’ children!

That the watermelon*, sorry green, movement is no fan of humanity – and the progress we have made since we first figured out how to rub two sticks together to make fire – should come as no surprise to anyone. Indeed one of their catechisms is that the sheer number of us (rapidly approaching 7 billion) means that we are looking at a Malthusian nightmare in the not too distant future.

For those who need the history lesson, Thomas Malthus was a British scholar who proposed the theory that continual population growth would eventually result in a situation whereby humanity would not be able to feed itself.

Needless to say such a situation has yet to present itself and mankind has so far managed to make supply keep up with demand** but that hasn’t stopped people continuing to insist that it will come to pass as the population surges towards an estimated 9 billion by 2050.

It is therefore didn’t particularly surprise me yesterday when I saw that Chris Packham was in the papers advocating population controls.

Like Malthus he believes we should stop breeding in the UK because the projected figure of 70 million people on this island come 2020 is too many. I know it maybe a typical complaint to say that we are all full up but the UK does not have a particularly high population density, weighing in at 53rd all told which is behind a number of smaller European countries and an awful lot of Asian ones. The UKs problem is that our infrastructure (dating back to the Victorian Era in places) needs a major overhaul, not just lots of tinkering around the edges.

Returning to the subject, Packham suggests that a slower population growth be achieved by the use of tax breaks to those who elect to go childless or settle for only one. If he is advocating that people should pay only for the services that they consume (rather than fixed percentages based on income) then I’m right behind him. Seems a much fairer way of collecting money wouldn’t you say? He isn’t of course, in much the same way as he made no mention of reducing, let alone scraping, Child Benefit which is paid to all those who breed. Or was until yesterday – now it is restricted to those not in the upper tax brackets.

No, Chris is more concerned about the other species with which we share this planet:

Fact is, we all eat food, breathe air and require space, and the more of us there are, the less of those commodities there are for other people and, of course, for the animals.”

And of course doing his best for the environment:

If I didn’t recycle and shop locally, I couldn’t see the point of being human.

Laudable aims but not being able to see the point of being human if he didn’t do those things? Oh please, do the achievements of the human race mean nothing to you? Is everything you buy locally sourced locally? No out of season fruit and vegetables? Nothing imported from other countries? None of which would be possible without the accomplishments humanity has made since that first stick rubbing moment.

What Chris seems to forget is that nothing slows a birth rate more than industrialisation. As we get healthier, better educated and live longer we no longer need to produce large families in order to ensure that some of the children make it to adulthood. With birth rates in the developed world already dropping below replenishment levels the majority of the population increase in this country is going to be coming through immigration and the children of these first generation immigrants.

If Chris really wants to slow the rate of population increase then can I suggest he devotes his efforts to ensuring that Africa starts industrialising? With China and India are already moving in the right direction, it just needs that basket case of a continent to play catch up.

All in all it wouldn’t surprise me if Chris were a fully paid up member of the The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Which is fine by me as it just means more for the rest of us and our descendants.

* Thank you James Delingpole for that most excellent throwaway.

** Anyone who mentions Ethiopia here will be up against the wall soon after Bono and Geldof. Clear?