A Thanksgiving Wish

We don’t have Thanksgiving here, and this close to Christmas, I give thanks for that. 🙂

However, I would like to wish all my American friends, followers, and readers
A Very Happy Thanksgiving.

I hope that you all have family, friends, or someone special to spend the annual holiday with. Relish the company. Eat, drink, and enjoy.

Remember those empty chairs too, those you have lost over the years.
Recall happy memories from when they were also around the table.

Spare a thought for those spending the holiday alone, or families who don’t have enough money to splash out on traditional food.

Forget politics for a few days, enjoy some peace and happiness.

And don’t forget to save some energy for Christmas!

Whoever you are with, and wherever you are, you know you will always have a friend here in Beetley.

My very best wishes to you all, Pete.

Electric Car, Anyone?

(This post is about all-electric cars, not petrol/electric hybrids)

We keep hearing a lot about electric cars. They don’t pollute, and they are ‘green’, as far as the environment is concerned. Some countries are insisting that all cars have to be electric by a certain date, though that date varies dramatically.

They have drawbacks of course. Limited range, depending on speed, and using lights or accessories. They are not easy to charge either. Very few charging stations have been built so far, and those that exist don’t have that many spaces. That means you might drive to a place, not be able to charge your vehicle, and then be stuck there.

Even charging them at home is a mission. If I had one, I would have to have a cable running from the car to a power source in the garage. Far from ideal, especially in bad weather, if the car doesn’t fit into the garage, or if like most of us, your garage is full of ‘stuff’, and has no room for a car.

And what if I lived in a smart high-rise apartment in London, with no underground car park? Would I drape my charging lead twenty floors down the side of the building, to the car parked outside? Or in a nice Edwardian house on a street. Would people be prepared to step over or under the cable as they walked along? I doubt that. And nobody will vandalise your unattended car as it charges, by pulling out the plug, or breaking the cable.
Believe that, and you’ll believe anything.

And there are some other much more serious considerations.

It is estimated that the batteries in such cars generally only last about seven years, depending on use, and how many times they are re-charged. If we end up with millions of electric cars on the roads, we will have the problem of having to dispose of millions of worn-out batteries too. And replacements can cost anything from £400 to £1900 each. That replacement cost has to be factored in to a car that has already been hit by age and use depreciation, possibly making the car completely worthless after a relatively short life.

But if it is going to be better for the environment, then it has to be done, right?

Think again.

Cobalt is essential for the manufacture of batteries used in electric cars. A lot of this is obtained from countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo. Child labour is used there in the extraction of Cobalt, as well as poorly-paid and unsafe adult labour. There is no health and safety, and no restrictions on the extraction. Last year, the DRC produced 70% of all the Cobalt used in the West.


But even that won’t be enough once electric cars become compulsory. The ‘answer’ is going to be mining the seas for Cobalt. Those seas already choking on plastic pollution, oil pollution, and garbage pollution. Coral degeneration is a hot topic, but once Cobalt mining starts, the current worries will be overwhelmed by a true ecological disaster. The disturbance of the sea bed will cover plants and creatures in sand and silt, also making the water dark, and stifling the breathing of sea life.

Sea Cobalt

Here’s a recent BBC report on that.

So when Amsterdam bans all but electric vehicles soon, and stands proud as the first city to do so, I hope they are giving some thought to the small boys hammering rocks in Africa for a pittance, or the sea-life destroyed by Cobalt mining in our oceans. And I also hope that they have worked out what to do with all the spent batteries, less than ten years after that.

I know petrol and diesel is no long-term answer. But it seems all-electric has just as many problems too. And I haven’t even discussed the generation of all that electricity using coal-fired, garbage-fired, and nuclear power stations that will still be in use for a generation.

Perhaps the future has to return to pedal power? And a lot more walking.

Lyrically Evocative (27)

I had a brief flirtation with Folk Music in my teens. Bob Dylan, Donovan, and some British Folk Groups like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.

Few of those songs stayed with me, and I rarely listen to any now.

But this song by Buffy Sainte-Marie (Covered by Donovan in the UK) is one that still has meaning to this day, and probably always will,

Here are the lyrics.

The Universal Soldier
Buffy Sainte-Marie

He’s five-foot-two and he’s six-feet-four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He’s all of thirty-one and he’s only seventeen
He’s been a soldier for a thousand years
He’s a catholic, a Hindu, an Atheist, a Jane
A Buddhist and a Baptist and Jew
And he knows he shouldn’t kill
And he knows he always will kill
You’ll for me my friend and me for you
And he’s fighting for Canada, he’s fighting for France
He’s fighting for the USA
And he’s fighting for the Russians and he’s fighting for Japan
And he thinks we’ll put an end to war this way
And he’s fighting for democracy, he’s fighting for the reds
He says it’s for the peace of all
He’s the one who must decide who’s to live and who’s to die
And he never sees the writing on the wall
But without him how would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau
Without him Caesar would’ve stood alone
He’s the one who gives his body as the weapon of the war
And without him, all this killing can’t go on
He’s the universal soldier and he really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from him and you and me
And brothers, can’t you see
This is not the way we put an end to war?

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Buffy Sainte-Marie
The Universal Soldier lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

Here is Buffy singing the song in concert.
(There is a very short interview first)

Plastic Surgery: A Halloween Special

I have never really been a fan of surgical alteration to the bodies we were born with, unless it is for genuine medical reasons, or to remove something unsightly. Years ago, it was suggested to me that I have the bags under my eyes surgically removed, as they are supposedly ‘horrible’. But I would sooner put up with them than face going under the knife around my eyes. Who knows what complications might arise?

In recent times, many women have taken the advantage of having their breasts enlarged, and even their bums made curvier. Men have had pectoral muscles enhanced, and some even endured the treatment for penis extensions. And both sexes have also had face-lifts. That’s up to them of course. It’s their body, their money, and if it makes them feel better, then I suppose that’s a good thing. Just not for me.

But the next time you are thinking about having your lips re-plumped with filler, or your wrinkles smoothed out with Botox, remember one thing. You eventually get old, no matter how much money you spend. Those years of looking your best now may come back to haunt you in your retirement. The silicone-filled boobs will seem out of place, and that alluring trout pout on your lips is not going to make anyone want to actually kiss you.

You might even end up looking like this.

Yes, that’s a real photo. She took a ‘selfie’ and posted it online.
Because she thinks she looks great.

Happy Halloween, to all of you who celebrate it. 🙂
I say ‘BAH!’.
There are no sweets at my house, so don’t bother to come knocking!

Grenfell Tower: The Blame game

I usually post about such topics on my other blog.
But I felt this issue needed a wider audience.

On the night of the 14th of June, 2017, the West London tower block called Grenfell Tower caught fire.
One of the most serious fires in British history, it claimed the lives of 72 residents, and a further 70 or more were injured.
223 other residents either escaped, or were rescued.

The long-running inquiry into this incident has started to publish its findings. And of course to allocate ‘blame’.

So who is being blamed?
Perhaps the builders who used cladding that was known to not be fireproof?
Some of the numerous contractors who cut costs by using sub-standard materials?
The council officials who saved money by not providing adequate fire escapes for residents?
The designers who suggested building a cheap sub-standard building with no regard for those who would live in it?
Successive governments and London Mayors who cut the budget of the Fire Service, reduced staff numbers, and closed fire stations?

None of these.

No, they are blaming the Firefighters. The men and women who walked into that fire pictured above, with no thought for their own safety.
The emergency workers who led survivors down smoke-filled stairways as burning debris fell around them.
The staff who had to go back inside that building when it was over, and perform the grisly task of recovering charred bodies.

Yes, they are being blamed.

Their organisation is also being blamed for ‘shortcomings’ in the procedures that existed at the time.
The control room call-takers are being blamed for telling residents to stay in their flats and await rescue.
Despite the fact that they were following protocol that was designed to stop people dying in a crush on crowded stairways.
They are blaming the Chief Officer for not managing the incident correctly, and asking her to resign.

Can you imagine if the Firefighters in New York had been blamed for the deaths in the Twin Towers? I can’t.

I have only one word for the cynical people who have published this report, and for the media vultures who are spreading their lies.