Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog


Environment and GeneralWednesday, September 15th, 2010, (9:07 pm)

Rosie Walsh from the town of Wallasey in the UK is apparently fed up with her man. So much so, she has decided to give him away on the internet.


Using her local group, Rosie recently posted an ad offering to give away a “man.” Freecycle is a free online service that allows people to give away items that they no longer have a need for.

Rosie’s description of said man is a little vague. His ethnicity is not listed but after being painted he is now a white man. Presumably in good health, he is offered as “free standing,” though Rosie is not a woman to be messed with because she is apparently not adverse to the idea of hanging him if required.

Rosie isn’t required to state a reason for why she no longer requires her man, and neither has she. Perhaps she upgraded to a better model, or maybe she simply didn’t feel the need for a man in her life anymore.

Whatever her reason, Rosie obviously believes the old adage that one persons trash is another persons treasure, and to that end she is giving him away to the first person who offers to collect him.

Certainly if my experience of freecycle is anything to go by, Rosie will be free and single within no time at all.
Friday funnies

Environment and GeneralThursday, August 6th, 2009, (12:31 am)

Ok, I have a question. How do you hang your bathroom tissue? Are you an over person, an under person, or someone who couldn’t give a crap… so to speak.

Loo roll. (Shhh... American don't like using the word 'toilet.')

It’s a silly question I know, but I ask this because the other day someone insisted that the toilet roll in my bathroom was hung incorrectly. I’m not sure that I’ve ever given the subject of how to hang bathroom tissue much thought, but I tend to always place the ‘loo roll’ so it hangs over rather than under, which I was told was the more eco friendly way of hanging bathroom tissue.

“Wait a second,” I thought to myself, “There’s an eco friendly way of hanging toilet roll?” Well apparently so. According to my recent house guest scientists have researched the subject of bathroom tissue usage and concluded that that people use more tissue when its hung over the roll as opposed to under it.

Being a somewhat eco-minded chap I searched the web looking for the facts and figures relating to loo roll positioning. I found various sites including one about a bizarre toilet roll conspiracy theory. Eventually though, I found a website that I felt sure would have details of the scientific study into the environmental impacts of tissue positioning, but unfortunately the toilet paper encyclopedia (I kid you not!) didn’t mention any such research. It did however state that 68% of people hang toilet paper with the first sheet going over the roll, while 25% hang the first sheet under the roll.

The site might not be as reliable as the title suggests though. A breakdown of what people use toilet paper for would seem to omit one very obvious toilet tissue usage which rather brings into to question any of the sites quoted facts and figures. It claims that nose care accounts for largest share of toilet tissue usage at 61%, with 17% for wiping small spills, 8% for removing makeup, 7% for cleaning mirrors, and 3% for cleaning a child’s hands/face, covering the toilet seat, and cleaning glasses.

While I remain unconvinced that there is an eco-friendly way to hang your bathroom tissue I did learn that the use of extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply tissue is causing serious environmental damage.

Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council, said “Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution.” According to Hershkowitz, the process of making toilet tissue has significant environmental impacts in terms of deforestation and the chemicals used in pulp manufacture. More than 98% of the toilet rolls sold in America come from virgin wood, whereas in Europe and Latin America, up to 40% of toilet paper comes from recycled products.

His position on this is echoed by Greenpeace USA who are running a campaign to raise consciousness among Americans about the environmental costs of their toilet habits. That campaign is surely among the environmental groups more optimistic efforts. After all, getting Americans to think about how they should clean up their shit is hard enough without actually getting them to think about how to clean up their… well, you know…

So, environmental questions and moral issues aside, I’m left wondering if there is a right way and a wrong way to hang ones loo roll? Does my hang methodology say something about me, more even than the fact that I’ve already devoted more time to this than I should have done? In the end I suspect it simply doesn’t matter, but I’m curious, what kind of person are you, an over, an under, or someone who couldn’t give a crap?

Greenpeace tissue guide (Also available as an iPhone app!)
Wipe responsibly
American taste for soft toilet roll ‘worse than driving Hummers’
Toilet Roll Conspiracy Theory
Public rest
Now that’s just silly
The truth about recycling
Add your picture to your comments
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Environment and PhotographySaturday, May 26th, 2007, (10:15 pm)

I wonder what it is that draws us to sunsets? As I went to a nearby beach to watch the sun drop into the Irish Sea once more, there were as ever, a collection of cars lined up facing out toward the water. Their occupants were of all ages, some couples, some groups, some alone, but all gathered to watch the spectacle that is an assured crowd pleaser.

Some years ago, when my finances were tighter, friends and I used to go and watch the sunset several times a week. It was the cheapest form of entertainment for us all, and we never grew tired of it. We would goof around writing our names in the sand or throwing stones into the waves counting how many times we could make them hop on the surface before they sank. And sometimes we would just sit on the sand or the wave breakers and watch the sun disappear from view and listening to the waves without saying a word to one another.

On the horizon tonight there were some new additions. Wind turbines under construction as part of the new Burbo offshore wind farm. When complete there will be 25 such turbines just outside the mouth of the River Mersey on the Burbo Flats four and a half miles off New Brighton in the Liverpool Bay.

Some people might feel that such a wind farm would spoil an otherwise undisturbed scene, but I actually think these wind turbines could add something to the experience of watching a sunset.

To me they are symbols of optimistic forward thinking representing a more responsible way of living. Upon it’s completion the Burbo offshore wind farm will provide clean renewable energy for somewhere in the region of 75,000 homes.

It won’t be the only wind farm you can see from the beaches where I live though. Just off the North Wales coast is the North Hoyle offshore wind farm. Built in 2003 it was the UK’s first major offshore wind farm. On clear days it’s visible from beaches around the Wirral Peninsula, including New Brighton. There are six wind turbines at the Royal Seaforth Dock, Liverpool, and just a few miles north, but out of site from the beaches where I live, is the Barrow offshore wind farm.

The new Burbo offshore wind farm will be in commission for 20 years at which point its status will be reviewed. If decommissioned the turbines can be disassembled and removed in a relatively short amount of time, returning the coastal horizon to its state. It’s hard to imagine a coal, oil, or nuclear power station being able to make that same claim.

I can’t imagine that the windmills will detract from my enjoyment of any future sunsets. If anything they might offer new photographic challenges. But really, when it comes down to it as good as any photograph of a sunset might be, there really is only one way to best enjoy them, and that’s to actually be there. I plan to do more of that.

Burbo offshore wind farm
North Hoyle wind farm (off North Wales coast)
Embrace Wind Energy
Yes 2 Wind
[Movie] North Hoyle wind farm
[Movie] Sunset (a very short movie I made)

EnvironmentWednesday, April 25th, 2007, (10:00 pm)

This is somewhat old news but in the light of recent gun discussions we’ve had here, I thought I might post some ‘sort-of’ good news on the weaponry front. That news being that war and weaponry will very soon be better for the environment!

Arms manufacturering giant, British Aerospace (BAE), has joined the growing number of global companies trying to show their softer side by reducing their impact on the environment.

The production of lead-free bullets and recyclable explosives are among key developments being put proposed by arms manufacturer. Other initiatives include grenades that produce less smoke, compostable explosives, and bombs that make less noise in order to reduce noise pollution.

“No company, regardless of what they make, can now just make a product, bung it out there, and then forget about it.” Said Dr. Deborah Allen, director of corporate responsibility for the company. “We all have a duty of care to ensure that from cradle to grave products are being used appropriately and do not do lasting harm.”

One industry analyst, Sarah Bentley, said that bombs made from biodegradable plastics and compostable materials would in fact play a key role in regenerating the environment that they had initially destroyed.

I swear to you, this is absoluely not a joke!

British Aerospace corporate responsibility information
United States Military sustainability website

Environment and MoviesThursday, March 22nd, 2007, (10:30 am)

Perhaps I shouldn’t even joke about my theory that if more scientists had significant interactions with women there might actually be less sciencey stuff being done in the world. I shouldn’t say such a politically incorrect thing of course, so allow me to retract that now and instead present to you the video below which is a recent Channel 4 documentary by Martin Durkin about how global warming is a huge swindle, a conspiracy if you will!

TiVo picked up the documentary the other night and I watched it yesterday evening over a cup of tea and some stolen chocolate that’s been stashed in my fridge for a few weeks now. Titled ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle‘ I was somewhat tempted to simply delete it without giving it so much of a chance to get passed the opening credits, not because I’m closed minded on the subject of global warming, but because TiVo currently has about seven thousand hours of CSI recorded for me and if I’m going to get through that then I really have no time for anything else.

However, after the opening sequence I decided that the documentary was interesting and engaging enough for me to stick with it. Personally the whole global warming debate is simply a lot of hot air, if you pardon the pun. It seems logical to me that burning oil and coal is a rather foolish thing to continue to do when we have the technology and know how to harness the earths clean and renewable resources. Exploration and development of such energy is surely not only good for our environment, but also for our global political stability. After all, it’s hard to envisage a war for oil if oil was in no way as central to our every day lives as it is right now.

It was, however, an interesting documentary. A televisual rebuttal to Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth.’ Featuring a lot of fuzzy haired science types whom I have never heard of (and frankly, why would I have heard of them) telling us all that this theory was wrong and that hypothesis was flawed. They sounded very convincing to me, but regardless of whether their view was right or not, the result was never going to mean that I rush out and buy an SUV, leave every light on in my apartment, and crank the central heating up to full power around the clock. As I said before, the issue of global warming is interesting, but not nearly as pressing as the issue of what I term ‘responsible living.’

Perhaps unsurprisingly the documentary caused somewhat of a stir. Flying in the face of the popular opinion it seeks to discredit, the director, Martin Durkin, surely expected to come under serious fire.

A few days after the documentary was shown The Independent newspaper in Britain called Durkin’s film “flawed with major errors which seriously undermine the program’s credibility.”

Dr Armand Leroi, from Imperial College, and Simon Singh, the respected scientific author, are two eminent British scientists who questioned the accuracy of Durkin’s documentary. Durkin’s response didn’t rely heavily on science when he called one of the “a big fat cock” and told them both to “go and f**k yourself!”

After being criticized regarding the origins of a graph of global temperatures in recent years that was crucial to his argument recent film Durkin is quoted as saying “The original Nasa data was very wiggly-lined and we wanted the simplest line we could find”.

Had I have known how controversial and unbalanced Durkin’s work is reputed to be, I might not have sat through the one and a quarter hour documentary. In the past Durkin’s films have received similar complaints about being biased and misrepresentative of the facts and opinions of the participants. One such documentary, again shown on Channel 4, argued that silicone breast implants were in fact beneficial to a woman’s health.

Notwithstanding the evidence that suggests I simply wasted one and a quarter hours of my life, I would still say that it’s a documentary worth watching if only to hear what those who still argue that we should carry on as we always have might to say. Either way it makes little difference to my opinion that we should all think carefully about how our lives impact not only the environment, but perhaps more importantly the lives of those around the world whom are not as fortunate as us. For me responsible living is more about the moral and ethical implications of the individual decisions we make. It would seem to me that this kind of thinking automatically encompasses much of what is often called ‘environmentalism.’

For example, knowing that Coca-Cola have caused formerly lush farmland to dry up and become arid due to their use of essential groundwater at Indian Coke plants, should lead us to make a choice as to whether we want to support this kind of behavior or not. Like any such ethos, such thinking could be taken to the extreme and drive you mad. But in essence my idea of responsible living is nothing more complicated than the biblical principle of ‘loving thy neighbor’ and no one ever called that a foolish notion did they?

[Video] The Great Global Warming Swindle
Clips from the documentary
Channel 4’s website about the documentary
A comedic response
The real global warming swindle
C4’s debate on global warming boils over

Environment and Faith & ReligionWednesday, February 28th, 2007, (4:52 pm)

The Reverend Jerry Falwell, former head of the ‘Moral Majority‘ Christian political lobbying group, has stepped up to offer the world some holy reassurance on fears that we might be in the grip of a global climate crisis. In his sermon on February 25th Falwell described global warming as “a myth” and that “the Church must quickly get serious about denouncing the accelerating effort to promote the alleged catastrophic human-caused global warming.”

Speaking to his faithful baptist congregation in Lynchburg, Virginia, Falwell said that the growing environmental awareness among Christians and “naive Christian leaders” is “Satan’s attempt to redirect the church’s primary focus from evangelism to environmentalism.”

“The problem is global warming has become a trendy issue of limousine liberals and Hollywood elitists, and the media are promoting it as virtual, if not substantive, fact.” Said Falwell.

His recent sermon isn’t the first time he’s spoken on the subject of global warming or environmentalism. He’s been dismissing all science about the subject for many years and has called it a “myth” on a number of previous occasions.

On CNN’s ‘Inside Politics‘ show in November 2002, Falwell dismissed global warming as “created to destroy America’s free enterprise system and our economic stability.” Frequently interrupting the shows other guest whose views opposed his, Falwell went on to say “I urge everyone to go out and buy an SUV today.”

Falwell believes Jesus Christ will soon return to earth and a violent apocalyptic battle will take place and therefore there is little need for Christians or anyone to worry about any perceived threat of an impending climactic catastrophe.

Of course, it’s hard to take the so-called “Christian leader” seriously when he seems so adept at regularly spewing the ill considered hateful garbage he so often does. In 2002 he angered Muslims by calling Islam’s prophet Mohammed a “terrorist” as well as “a demon-possessed pedophile.” Indeed, just two days after the 9/11 attacks on America Falwell infamously said on Pat Robinson’s ‘700 Club’ TV show that the attacks were God’s judgment on America for “throwing God out of the public square”

Falwell did say in his sermon that he believes Christians should give the environment some consideration but they should not become “first-class nuts.” As yet the reverend has not given any solid direction on how a Christian might become environmentally aware, and it seems unlikely that there will be a follow up sermon offering practical Falwell endorsed eco-friendly hints and tips.

Jerry Falwell Ministries
Falwell : Global warming is [still] a myth
[MP3] Falwell talks… well, crap in 2006.
Fallwell to get Jesus a Hummer
Biblely stuff about the environment
Falwell foolishly blames gays, lesbians, the ACLU and others for 9/11
Falwell sheepishly falls back from his original 9/11 position

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