That Nappy Conundrum

Oh dear, another piece of Green propaganda makes headway.

Aided by modern materials and a redesign, the washable nappy has spread across social classes to vie for the affections of parents in the wake of arguments by campaigners that they are more environmentally friendly.

The impact on landfill sites is cited as the single biggest problem with single-use throwaway nappies. Each baby is estimated to go through 4,500 before being trusted to give his or her parents sufficient warning to get to a loo in time.

The problem is that there are no environmental advantages to washable nappies, once you do a proper cost benefit analysis. As, in fact, the Government did.

Yes, disposables take time to decompose: but washables have to be washed. The costs in terms of energy and emissions of the latter just about equal the benefits of not having the landfills.


Deep Research

So, in writing an article about internet fads and micro-celebrities, The Guardian decided to illustrate it with an image from

Fair enough.

Its a good one, too. Here.

It was also on the front page yesterday.

Amazing how deep their research is, isn\’t it?

Mr. Dillow Will Like This

His misfortune was to follow a man who was reckoned by everyone to know precisely what he was doing at every single moment of every single day. José Mourinho, the handsome Portuguese capable of weakening the most football-phobic of female knees, had elevated the art of coaching to new levels.

A wily media operator, a sharp tactician, the shrewdest of psychologists, Mourinho took credit for Chelsea\’s success in recent years. It was the manager who did it; nothing could have been done without him.

And yet, this season, the club is in with a strong chance of achieving everything with a man written off as second rate. It is a result that would suggest the manager doesn\’t matter that much. Which would rather undermine conventional wisdom.

We live in the era of management. We are fully paid-up members of the cult of the executive. It is a modern-day tenet of faith that everything can be delivered by simple application of management techniques.

Gene Therapy

Hundreds of thousands of people with failing eyesight have been given fresh hope of a cure after gene therapy techniques were used to treat a teenager.

The treatment transformed the life of a severely visually impaired 18-year-old. Healthy genes were injected into one eye, leading to a significant improvement.

Eh? How does this work? I was under the (obviously mistaken) impression that gene therapy only worked if you could get it into the cells that then replicated. That is, that you needed to get it into the actual genetic structure of the individual and that thus such therapy really only worked upon hte next generation.

Clearly, I\’m wrong, but seriously? Just inject the healthy genes into the afflicted organ and everything starts to work?

Not Quite Right

Walking the dogs this morning, saw a bloke at the containers for recycling items. He\’d taken his car with him, carrying what seemed to be two or three supermarket bags of stuff. As  he was sorting through the bags, putting each item into the correct slot, I couldn\’t help noting that he\’d left his engine running while he did so.

Not that I\’m all that into recycling, as you know, but if you are into it enough to do it, that motor running rather defeats the whole object, doesn\’t it?


Gordon was friendly – at least until I explained my mission.

"Make up with Peter?" he hissed in an angry whisper.

Then, as his voice gradually rose from dispatch-box volume to a near shout, he exclaimed: "Peter? He\’s been going around telling everyone that I\’m gay! And I am NOT GAY!"

It\’s not actually something to worry about any more, you know?

Oh Noes!

Corruption in the EU?

Battersby uncovered evidence that the agency’s former director, Hamed Sow, who is now the energy minister of the west African country of Mali, approved the award of lucrative European Union contracts to a company in which he had a financial interest.

Sow is alleged to have arranged for the CDE to back a loan of nearly £3m to a textile company in Mali, without disclosing that he owned up to 20% of the company and was receiving payments from the firm.

Who would have thought it?

Whistleblowers fired for revealing corruption in the EU?

A British whistleblower who exposed alleged corruption at a European aid agency faces the sack after he told EU fraud investigators that his boss was involved in the scam.

Gosh, that\’s a surprise.

What we really ought to say to the European Union.


How Wonderful

Organisers of the 2012 London Olympics have block-booked 1,925 rooms in some of the capital’s most exclusive hotels for international delegates and their spouses at a cost of £10m.

Top officials have been allocated 345 suites costing up to £3,000 a night at six Park Lane hotels including the Dorchester, the Hilton and Grosvenor House. Half the bill will come out of the coffers of London 2012, the Games organiser, in the most expensive block booking in Olympic history.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) indicated this weekend that it was surprised at London’s largesse. At the Beijing Games this summer officials will stay in only two five-star hotels, with some residing in cheaper accommodation.

The officials in London will be given the use of a fleet of 3,145 chauffeur-driven cars, despite the promise of a “green Games”. The route to the Olympic park will be cleared of traffic so they can glide to their destination in east London in about 20 minutes.

That is money well spent, don\’t you think?

In The Comments

So, a decent and balanced piece on GM crops. No, really, it is. Containing this point:

The trouble is that GM crops represent everything that the environment movement has come to hate, though it was not the technology itself that originally made greenies froth at the mouth. It was its promotion and marketing by international conglomerates such as Monsanto a decade ago that raised the hackles. As a result, GM crops have become a lightning rod for protests about globalisation. \’GM technology permits companies to ensure that everything we eat is owned by them,\’ claimed campaigner George Monbiot.

First comment:

I might if GM crops were researched and distributed by not-for-profit agencies.


Third comment gets it:

Peculiar. Do you have the same attitude towards antibiotics, computers, toothpaste, pacemakers, ice-cream, cars, airplanes, toilet paper, books, films, music and just about everything else in your life and the world?

Will Hutton

Thatcherism may have been ideological, but it was an evident answer to the real issues of the time. Corporatist price and incomes policies had not addressed inflation; public intervention had not lifted economic growth.

Controlling the money supply, deregulating markets, privatising nationalised industries and reducing the power of organised labour would do what the outgoing mainstream consensus could not. They would lower inflation and revive the economy.

Glad we\’ve finally got agreement on that then.

One thought does occur though: if that\’s what is needed to lower inflation and revive the economy, as we\’ve now got rising inflation and a deflating economy, why aren\’t we doing the same again?

Ruth Sutherland

I wonder, do journalists ever read what they write?

Did you know that 27,000 workers in the manufacturing sector have lost their jobs in the past three months? No reason why you should – it hasn\’t exactly dominated the headlines.

Actually, no I didn\’t, but it doesn\’t surprise me in the least.

Despite being cold-shouldered, and despite the job losses (more than a million since 1997) UK manufacturing is not in terminal decline: far from it.

That\’s why it doesn\’t surprise me. That three month figure is bang on trend for the past decade. And why would that be?

Firms which survived the deindustrialisation of the 1970s and 1980s, or which have been set up since then, are lean and productive; annual productivity growth in UK manufacturing in the first five years of this decade has outstripped that of France, Italy, Spain and Germany.

That\’s why. Productivity in manufacturing has been rising strongly….indeed, this is something that has been going on for, ooooh, two and a half centuries or so. As this producitivty rises we need fewer workers in that sector. No surprise here at all, and the faster the productivity rises (without demand rising similarly) then the more job losses in the sector there will be.

Now if I can piece that together in three minutes on a Sunday morning why can\’t someone being paid to tell us like it is do so in the hours she had to write the article?