Sunday, 16 October 2011

"While only 9 per cent of pre-school children can tie their shoelaces..."

"...about 20 per cent can play an app on a smartphone."

Read more here in the FT - companies are targeting children's "tablet aptitude". Jeepers.

Tonight TWMBO and I read The Tale of Peter Rabbit. By picking up a book. And turning the pages. I fail to see how that could be improved.

Technology sometimes gives me the vapours. A spoonful of camomile tea please...

Tree-mendous Talk At New Monthly Meeting For Moray Greens

Green Party members in Moray are shifting their activities up a gear with monthly events in Forres featuring hot topics for all to enjoy. Whether you're interested in environmental issues, social justice or simply want some sparkling conversation why not give them a go...

The first event will be an interactive talk on woodland culture and the restoration of Scotland ’s forests, by poet and author Mandy Haggith. The event is open to all, and will take place from 7.30 to 9pm on Wednesday 26 October in the upstairs lounge of the Carlton Hotel, High Street, Forres.

This year, 2011, is the International Year of Forests, but in Scotland our forests are mostly long gone and replaced by plantations of exotic conifers grown as cash crops for pulp and fuel. There is, however, still a rich heritage surrounding our native trees, not least a traditional link between the letters of the alphabet and woodland species. This interactive talk will take ivy as an example to explore how efforts to restore Scotland 's forests can be informed by our woodland culture.

Mandy Haggith is a poet and author with a passion for trees who lives in Assynt. Her novel, The Last Bear, won the Robin Jenkins Literary Prize for the best environmental writing in Scotland in 2009. She has published two collections of poetry and a non-fiction book, Paper Trails: From trees to trash - the true cost of paper. Her current project, A-B-Tree, celebrates the links between woods and words.

There will be no charge for attending this or the next event in the series (Emma Wood’s illustrated talk on “the Hydro Boys” on Wednesday 23 November). Participants can make a small donations to help cover the speakers’ costs.

What We Did On Our Holidays

Wife-features, Toddler Who Must Be Obeyed and Green Dad are not long back from a few days on the Scottish Riviera aka East Lothian.

On our not very Green holiday (we drove as we had to visit relatives not near train stations and also didn't fancy the prospect of a three and a half hour journey in a cramped carriage with no pauses for air or exercise - but maybe next time we'll let the train take the strain, break up the journey a bit and by then TWMBO will be able to lug her own luggage) we saw...

5 tractors
23 squirrels (all grey unfortunately)
1 enormous slab of chocolate truffle cake
1 greedy daddy (me)
100,000 gannets (on the Bass Rock)
10,000 geese (approximately - they were flying overhead at sunset - what a sight!)
10 pound notes being exchanged for a plate of macaroni with only five pence change given
16 speeding motorists using dual carriageway bits of the A9 to go faster than 60mph
26 speeding motorists going faster than 70mph on the M90
1 amazing red humpbacked railway bridge across the Forth
17 twenty pence pieces fed into an on street ticket machine in Edinburgh giving ninety seconds of parking time
15 Hawick Mint Balls (blimey, sweets are £1.10 per 100 grams these days - what happened to fifty pence a quarter?)
A billion Pringle jumpers (can you tell we stayed in North Berwick?)
1 Law (with 1 fibreglass whale's jawbone at the top) and we didn't have time to climb it. Sigh. Next time...

The Nimby Event Horizon

"Perhaps when the entire landmass has been so subdivided that there remains not a single portion that cannot be identified as someone or other's backyard, then, and only then, will the property owners be able to acknowledge after all that there's something really rather beautiful about a wind turbine.

"Unfortunately, by then it will be too late because there won't be white blades whirring at the end of the garden, but black clouds belching from the chimneys necessary to power all that rural idiocy."

The wise words of Will Self in a Point of View on Radio 4. More here.

The verbose novelist was in Inverness just the other day. Maybe his journey north and back inspired his thoughtful rant.

‘Here are the jobs, here is the investment. Are you really against it?’

The words of one Bill Clinton in a fascinating interview with superhero historian Simon Schama. You can read it all here in the FT.

The jobs referred to are in renewables and energy efficiency. He says the economic case is key to winning the argument on green power:

"For $1bn invested in a new coal plant, you get fewer than 900 jobs, for solar you get 1,900 jobs, for wind turbines 3,300 jobs and [for] retrofitting buildings, 7,000-8,000 jobs."

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Sunniest Town In Scotland

Nairn should try trademarking that claim. It must be true.

Best climate? Yes. Not so sure about the 'sailing marine'.
Today I'm down in the central belt for work and everyone's huddled in jumpers trading stories about how miserable, cold and wet their weekends were. In contrast I'm a wee bit sunburnt, covered in a late burst of freckles and full of anecdotes about skimming stones on a sapphire-blue flat-calm expanse of firth ollowed by miles of barefoot walking in the sand, topped off with a quickly melting ice cream treat.

To be fair it looked quite gloomy in the morning but after lunch what a transformation!

Toddler Who Must Be Obeyed had a whale of a time. She's pretty brave when it comes to paddling and we have to keep reminding her to hold mummy or daddy's hand if she's in the water. It doesn't take much of a wave to give her a wee fright.

A balmy day at the beach in October? Not a shaggy dog story, trust me.
She loves the wet sand and sinking her feet into it. And she also discovered the joys of handstands. Ably assisted and encouraged by yours truly.

We really made the most of it; after all the tabloids have been predicting snow in October. Wife-features has been knitting like a Wallace and Gromit cyborg in recent months so we're ready for any frosty onslaught. Indeed we set out for the beach wearing kagouls and woolly mitts but these were soon peeled back.

But I bet the Indian Summer won't last. My reasoning? I'm on holiday next week. Blizzards ahoy!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Trump Dreads Dreadlocks

Maybe it's his weird combover.

This piece in the Sunday Herald is fascinating.

Donald Trump - property tycoon, rare habitat trasher and bullier of pensioners - seems to think Grampian Police are his own private protection detail.

I particularly liked his company's demand to know how the bobbies would react to "a dreadlocked individual in combats on the estate in the middle of the night”.

Dreads are so 90s eco protest. Modern day environmentalists look like policemen. Doesn't Trump keep up with the news?

A quick reminder You've Been Trumped is showing at Nairn Community Centre this Monday night (3 Oct) at 8.30pm. Tickets are only £4 (£3 if you're under 18 or have a Cinema Nairn loyalty card). I saw it at Eden Court last night and was genuinely amazed and shocked to see the golf resort development from the residents' point of view.

Best bit in the film? So many to choose from but possibly the bit where the boss of STV is caught meeting Trump and describes local people as less intelligent than a dog.

After the Eden Court screening an audience member asked why there weren't people lying down in front of the bulldozers and why there wasn't wall to wall media coverage as work started. Proximity to Glasgow or London seems to be the answer. It's just a bunch of sand dunes on the west coast (Trump's words) of Scotland. Who cares?

Please show you care by going along to the Nairn screening and telling all your pals so we can prevent this sort of thing happening again.