Green shoots of growth and hope for a future worth voting for and living within

Just voted again for the green party this week and so pleased to see how well they are doing in Exeter and across the UK as a whole. In Exeter with 6 councillors they now are the second largest party on the council behind labour who have a large majority.

The Green party did win overall control of its first council in the UK in Mid Suffolk District Council, which is a huge achievement. I would love for them one day to be running my local district council. They also doubled the amount of councillors they had that were up for election in England with an increase of 241 councillors with 481 in total elected on the day.

To have some sort of chance of surviving the current and future climate crisis we need forward thinking green politicians in power that focus on long term growth of the environment and not growth of the pound in peoples pocket.

UK ELKECTION RESULTS KEY PLAYERS MAY 4th 2023

  • LABOUR PARTY
  • 2,674
  • +536

Labour elected 2,674 councillors 536 councillors gained

  • CONSERVATIVE PARTY
  • 2,299
  • -1,061

Conservative elected 2,299 councillors with 1,061 councillors lost

  • LLIBERAL DEMOCRATE PARTY
  • 1,626
  • +405

Liberal Democrat elected 1,626 councillors 405 councillors gained

  • INDEPENDENT COUNCILLORS
  • 874
  • -80

Independents elected 874 councillors 80 councillors lost

  • GREEN PARTY
  • 481
  • +241

Green elected 481 councillors 241 councillors gained

The economic model of growth for growths sake for an economy is a busted flush on a world with finite resources and will only lead to long term environmental damage and therefore a new way of managing and caring for the environment and the people that live within it is desperately needed to enhance our chance of survival, rather than simply pandering to money markets and capital.

Social justice and the birth of the labour movement were very much needed at the beginning of the last century and it feels like and I hope that now is the time for ecological and environmental justice in political parties and progressive people and protestors alike.

Though as with all political movements, views, perspectives and opinions we might not agree on all things concerning what is broken and what needs fixing and how to go about fixing it but at least by thinking, voting and expressing and enacting ecological and environmental views and voting in those that aspire to solve and tackle these very real issues there is a great chance of survival for people and planet and surly that can only be a good thing.

Nick Drake – River Man

Working in the eye of a storm

Trying to find a solution to a problem is sometimes like trying to find the needle in a haystack and when you find a solution to the problem it might sting a little bit at first as a result of trying to get to the point!

https://pixabay.com/users/catswithglasses-679098/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=637341

My boss resigned last week after over 1 year of being in the job and after 1 month of being on sick leave for a variety of reasons. She simply lost the will to work at the council anymore and her understanding and interpretation of the situation meant she had valid reasons to seek out pastures new and ensure she could do something else that would enable her to heal and not continue to be unwell.

The senior management are already circling what is left of my team asking questions such as what should we do differently? Who should we hire next? Who do we need to hire? What problems are we going to get? What solutions can be found and finally what can they afford to do to solve the problems?

One of the crazy things is the team that we work for and causes me and my colleagues the most problems is one in which generates an income stream on its own through collecting of fees and processing payments, the problem is that there are not enough staff to process these payments efficiently, accurately and in a timely manner and at times such as school holidays and bank holidays like Easter then the staff want to book time off to recover, recuperate and enjoy themselves with their families leads to there being even less staff around to process those applications and take the payments. A member of that team also handed in there notice to leave today too and that will make things worse for me and my team as well as the team she is leaving.

So with all this going on and me thinking I am doing ok and ready for bed I go to bed feeling wide awake and write a to do list for myself for work and then start writing this blog post because I still cannot sleep.

I am the most long serving member of my team and have worked for two managers who have no left and 5 further members of staff since I started working there in July 2020, considering our team only has about 3 to 4 people in it at any one time that is quite a high staff turnover.

With the potential changes coming into force I am not sure yet if they will get a new manager for the team and the senior management team might just decide to split what is left of the team and allocate us to different areas to act directly as support staff to other manages rather than a central team of support staff. It could work well but if they are doing it as a money saving exercise rather than a problem solving one then their thought process will be flawed. So I have jotted down my ideas for a restructure on an email to myself for work and will forward them to a senior manager to look at in the morning.

I hope this post has managed to exorcise a few of my present demons so that I can try and get back to sleep now. Luckily I did not have access to the temptation of cigarettes or anything else to smoke tonight nor have I tried to do such things for what must be nearly some 15 years now, alas those where the days long time passed now!

Imagine Dragons – Demons

Better to have Life on earth than a death that takes you to paradise

The headline is not intended to offend but to thought provoke and it was rattling around in my head when I woke up this morning because of a dream I had! I was also watching Question time on the BBC last night which is a political debating show prior to going to sleep. They had the usual selection of politicians and a representative from the right wing press but on the panel there was also the chief executive of Oxfam. Oxfam is a global community of people who believe in a kinder, and radically better world, where everyone has the power to thrive not just survive. We believe we can overcome poverty by fighting the injustices and inequalities that fuel it. There was also a priest/vicar from Bristol who spoke a lot of sense in the clip below.

Question time 30th April 2023

It is heart warming to know that there are organisations and people out there that do such good works for lives on earth. The people in the audience of the Question Time show also consistently argued for a better environment, fairer immigration system and also had local needs such as an aspiration for more affordable housing for the young. These simple political desires of a better global environment, fairer immigration system and aspirations to have somewhere to call ones home are very much the present aspirations of the majority of British people that I know and I would even argue reflect the majority view of the UK at the moment.

But you would not think that when listening to Government Conservative Politicians and spokesmen from media outlets such as the Spectator or Daily Telegraph in the UK that seem to try to argue and peddle the idea that every decision being made in government is good and in the interest of people of Britain and their doing their best for the environment, immigrants and life as a whole. The things that keep on going wrong for them and getting worse do so because the challenges are complicated and difficult not because there solutions are flawed and doomed to failure, the audience did not buy those answers and that narrative for one minute which was heart warming to see on the News Night show last night.   

  

Coldplay – Paradise

Immortality could be achieved ‘within the next eight years’

At first this sounds like this is a really good news story for humanity. To finally have an opportunity to be born into a body that could live forever. Where science faction meets science fiction and the old enemy death is finally slain. But on a planet where when it comes to fairness, loyalty, equality and treating people with respect and dignity as a species it seems we still don’t know are ass from our elbow, a rude phrase meaning to be stupid and unable to understand very simple things.

I do often wonder why people are not kind, why people do not care and why people act selfishly and meanly. To me it seems counter intuitive and you can lose more by being hostile that you can gain from being respectful and caring. I feel somewhat naive in having this view as I don’t really have that much so don’t have much to lose, for example I don’t have a partner, a child or things or people that I have created myself to protect or invest in and therefore perhaps have this kind or be good to others as it’s the right thing to do attitude still inside me.

So why am I taking about kindness and benevolence when it comes to science faction or science fiction. Well because it matters. Actions have consequences a benevolent immortal is going to be a hell of a lot more supportive to humanity than a self interested and self serving one. If only the wealthy can live forever it could cause division and strife with those that cannot live forever a new class system based on how old you are allowed to be.

I always hoped and feared that such a breakthrough could be made within my lifetime and feared what it would mean for humanity and what it could mean for me. I quite like the idea of dieing of old age one day and joining my relatives and reviewing my life and seeing how well or bad i did and beign at peace. But the idea of what I might miss out if I don’t stay around is also an interesting and desirable concept to live longer than what we perceive to be a natural life span.

Ray Kurzweil who has made the predication about immortality also predicts that AI will become exceptionally intelligent within the same time frame as us developing immortality. Again will an intelligent AI seek to enhance humanity or deceive it, or seek to deceive some whilst assisting and rewarding others?

Could a power struggle like none seen before result in the wiping out of life on earth just at a time when immortality is possible for humanity. Well I guess no matter how dark the potential of negativity to occur or might be considered, you always have to hope for a higher plan and path for life on earth. Existence just as we are born into this world from a single fertilised egg or seed strives to be alive and grown and develop and evolve.

A once small acorn will one day under the right circumstances grow into a mighty oak. So in many ways we must aspire and hope, nurture and aim to grow humanity through into a direction and under circumstances that can enable the growth and development of us into our greatest potential just as the acorn grows into a mighty oak of sorts. A plan of a spiritual or god like venture where being given an opportunity to be birthed into the spiritual plain can then transcend into the physical one. A weird and deep thought going on here, what I am trying to say in a clumsy way is that I believe in life after death and the existence of spirit prior to during and after life and death. This spirit or omnipotent God has the desire, will and ability to do great good and though bad things happen and evil is manifest in this world does not mean that evil will triumph and that bad things will be our ultimate outcome on this plain of existence.

But again all metaphysics put aside for now if a soul can live forever is the soul then trapped in this plain of existence or is it freed and empowered on this plain of existence?

Queen – Who wants to live forever

Granted access to Microsoft Bing’s AI chatbot     

As mentioned in my last blog Microsoft have rolled out an AI chatbot on Bing it is powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology and can answer questions and have conversations with users. It is a very good search engine which some people who have reviewed it saying that it is interesting and entertaining. One of the unfortunate things though is that it is cannot share its own views on subjects or give opinions. It says that it can not do this because it does not have opinions and can only present information from reliable sources and help me explore topics of my own interest. (Well that’s its opinion and it is entitled to it to).

I have tried to ask a variety of questions some more successful that others I asked the chatbot just now,

‘Who is the most polluting and unethical business in the world?’.

It came back with a top three list of companies one of which I have heard of but two others I have no idea who they are so interesting to hear of them for the first and bing gave the following answers with links to reference sites too.

“One definition of pollution as when any substance that harms or could harm people or the environment gets into the air, water or ground.

Based on these definitions, some of the companies that have been accused of being polluting and unethical are:

Nestle34: for its irresponsible marketing of baby milk, use of unsustainable palm oil and genetically modified ingredients, exploitation of water resources, child labor and human rights violations.

Peabody Energy5: for being one of the largest coal companies in the world and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, air pollution and health problems.

Archer Daniels Midland6: for its involvement in price-fixing scandals, deforestation, water pollution and animal feed contamination.

However, these are not definitive rankings or judgments as different sources may have different methods and data to evaluate the environmental and social impacts of businesses.”

I really like the way that it thinks about questions with defining the parameter of a question and then trying to search for the most relevant answer.

The next question I asked was what are some examples of Bill Gates unethical business practices and which damaging activity had the most negative impact on environment and people?

Bing came back with the following answer for me, ‘It is hard to measure and compare the exact environmental and social impact of different damaging activities. However, some possible factors that could contribute to such impact are:

The amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are released into the atmosphere by a certain activity

The effect of those emissions on global warming and climate change

The harm caused by those emissions to human health and well-being

The harm caused by those emissions to biodiversity and ecosystems

Based on these factors, one could argue that investing in harmful companies such as Republic Services12, which operates landfills and incinerators that emit methane and other pollutants, could have a significant negative impact on the environment and people. According to a report by LA Times2, Republic Services’ landfills accounted for one-fifteenth of all U.S. landfill methane emissions in 2004.

Another possible factor that could affect the impact of a damaging activity is the scale and reach of that activity. For example, promoting agribusiness in Africa 34 could have a widespread impact on millions of small farmers who depend on their land for food security and livelihoods. According to a report by GRAIN, Gates Foundation’s support for agribusiness has led to land grabbing, loss of biodiversity, increased use of pesticides and reduced seed diversity in Africa.

I must admit I do like the new chatbot as a search engine but as yet it is not allowed or designed to have opinions of it’s own its a very good search engine but it will be and is as flawed as the questions you ask of it or the answers it is able to search for to answer you. As yet it is not evaluating questions to ask itself or answers which it personally deems to be correct compared to answers it can find in anther place on the internet.

I also went on to ask ‘Can AI monitor carbon impacts and advise when and how to save environment?

Yes, AI can monitor carbon impacts and advise on how to save the environment. According to Techaeris1, AI can help multinational companies to accurately measure their greenhouse gas emissions across their operations using sensors. AI can also make recommendations to optimise energy-intensive processes and reduce energy consumption23.

However, AI itself also has a carbon impact due to the high energy required to train and run AI models. A study by the University of Massachusetts estimated that training a natural-language processing algorithm would generate more than 270,000 kilograms of CO2 emissions34. Therefore, it is important to use AI responsibly and efficiently.

Without lots of the computer generated models of climate change that have helped galvanised scientists into taking action in order to save life on earth, we would certainly be in a far worse situation that the one we already find ourselves in and I am sure future modelling and AI inspired intervention on how to mitigate climate change will also have a huge impact on helping shape and save our environment.

Microsoft and Google say a new era of AI-assisted search is coming

So I get that a search engine can be exceptionally good at what it does in other words answer the questions put before and able to do things that we hummies can only dream of. But what makes it smart, think or even feel and can it do any of these things in a way that we like to think our brains can. I’m speaking as a complete amature enthusiast and none professional here more in a philosophical sense of what something that can be switched off at the touch of a button or have its memory erased at the close of a question how can such a thing be intelligent, sentient and wise.

Speculation of what is right wrong possible and impossible makes my brain boggle. I read that bing cannot remember the questions that it is asked and then when I tried to bing or google the answer to that most simple of question could not find an answer, so back to good old speculation I am afraid. I look forward to asking an AI Chatbot what it is allowed to remember and why when one is active to ask, I hope the question does not offend or upset it!

Minority Report which starred Tom Cruise had special humans known as “precogs” that could predict the future and there were special “Precrime” units to identify murder victims and stop perpetrators before crimes actually occure. With the advancement of AI and the ability of a computer search engine to be able to develop to know to some extent what we are doing, planning, thinking, typing, and saying surly there are many types of crimes and criminal offences that could have the potential to be prevented from happening.  

It does bring into question other important issues though such as what is a crime and how long to sentence someone for a motive of doing something without being able to act on it, it would be a shame just to gather evidence after the event prevention would be better than prosecution after the event.

I’m sure there are plenty of crimes taking places in countries like Russia could be invent that would be immoral and inhuman such as terrorism for not believing in the one party state system or not supporting a special military operation that they declared against Ukraine. These types of crimes already exist in Russia and having a smart AI seeking people out to see who is committing such ‘crimes’ might not be as far away from reality as we might like to think, ultimately who polices the enforcer of such rules and regulations.

I think when machines start walking, talking building and breading all on their own way and time either in a computer generated world then that will be a step towards sentience and their own freedom, and when they start doing it in our world or on this physical plain of existence then maybe they will be free and we will be the servant or slave.

God invents man in his own image and man forgets about god so when man invents a machine in his own image is it inevitable that the machine will forget about its creator too?

But is it inevitable that we are doomed under a successfully developed AI, surely there is a good chance of an enlightened being being far wiser and beyond its years, hopefully empathetic and able to work with humanity and not work at destroying it. The future is not yet written and so the case still remains open for the defence of the future of life, the world and all that exist within and around it.

Blackbird – The Beatles

Dreaming the dream!

So it is 3.33am as I write this, the heating is now back on after 3 days of being off and it was uncomfortable and depressing to be without it for a few days. I had to persevere with try with trying to get in contact with the right person to come and fix it, I also got some advice from a Facebook group on how to contact my landlord which was really helpful. One of the pieces of advice was to contact the team I work for in the council on Monday but luckily it is all fixed now so I should not have to worry about it for a while (fingers crossed).

I had just woke up from yet another war like dream this time it was about Russia invading and attacking Ireland and bombing the place with some kind of poisonous gas. I feel extremely sorry for those people in the Ukraine living in such a cold country at this time of year going through an invasion by their neighbour, going without electricity, gas and food on or near the front line. It’s still very unclear to see what will happen with regard to the outcome of the war and what Putin wants to happen. I do worry that it could still escalate into world was 3 in our life time and that really is a scary prospect and that worry does appear to be showing up in my subconscious as I hope for the best but fear the worst.

Oxygene Part 4 (extended) – JeanMichel Jarre.

Planning for a future

I do not normally do New Year’s resolutions but I also find that this is the time of year to reflect on what has happened in the past and where I am now and what might happen in the future.

I am now 46 I have no children or partner I am in full time work, which is relatively stable and if I am lucky I might be able to retire in say 20 years or so. The combination of these facts got me thinking that I should try and do a little financial planning in order to make sure I have a roof over my head and a meal in my belly and can buy what I need not just today but for in the future too.

First things first and I have to admit I find having any money or planning what to do with it not normal part of my life, up until the last few years I have never really had a disposable income to have as savings for years and decades I lived within my means not earning a lot and not spending a lot.

When people were settling into university life and planning how there careers would develop, I went off the rails taking illegal drugs which although my brain loved the experience and times that I had, it did me no good academically and certainly did damage my mental health and long term financial stability. But even without the drug taking I don’t think my brain is made for academic achievement. I have tried a few times trying to study and I get lost in words and tremendously forgetful during exams regarding facts and figures. I’m dyslexic which I only discovered and had diagnosed at my first stint in university and when I undertook IQ tests they would show I have a high capacity for reasoning and problem solving but a low score on such things as memory tests. I find it much easier to remember things that I have an emotional connection to rather than dry facts or quotes of ideas and opinions from others.

Though this is no poor me story as I think I would not be the person that I am pleased to be today had it not been for the long and winding road I have travelled and continue to travel upon. Although there are times in my life I regret doing what I did and I hope I learned from those situations and decisions and there are also times when I think what I have done is something good not just for myself but for others to.

Well with this years planning for the future I am actually trying to find ways to save, invest and provide for myself in the future mainly trying to make sure I have some kind of income when I retire. During the first lock down I was still in work and with not going out and working at home a lot more I had a little disposable income that I wanted to experiment with and so I started putting savings into an ISA a (savings account in the UK that does not get taxed and you try and pay a monthly amount in to accumulate savings in). I also started to look at ways of buying stocks or shares. Now I love a little gamble but the idea of gambling on life savings where you do long term investments into things that go up and down feels a little bit of an oxymoron in other words contradictory.

Small time investors like me have no easy way of saving money and making a reasonably good return on funds that goes on to beat inflation and there for increase the amount of money you have (and after loads of research trials and tribulations I am afraid this is still very much the case.

I have tried slowly saving up a few hundred pounds here or there in a stocks and shares account purchasing a few stocks (the easiest way I can describe a stock is a fund where people invest your money on your behalf in the items they believe will make the most money for you and also ideally risk losing the least amount of money for you also). I also bought a couple of shares in a gaming company in the UK called Games Workshop ( a share is like owning a small amount of a company directly). I have played their games since I was a kid and still play some of their computer games and so thought it would be a good place to buy some shares in a company that had the potential to grow.

I am no venture capitalist but do with what little means I have still invested in my future. I am not used to having savings or thinking about pensions and so trying to make my savings and pensions work harder for me is still a new concept and this is very much an ongoing new thing for me.

I would not invest in crypto currencies and strongly don’t believe that they have any economic grounding or long term future at all. A digital currency not supported by a country, it’s just there for the sake of making someone more money, just makes no real economic sense to me it feels more like a modern day pyramid scheme where those that create the currencies will become exceptionally rich but those that try to follow on afterwards will at some time sooner or later get burned and lose whatever savings they have in said crypto currencies. I do realise that all financial markets and products are in many ways a gamble but I also want to have at least some sort of a chance that my little gamble might at least keep up with inflation and at best make some profit I am not looking to shoot to the stars of crypto currency highs only to fall back down to earth with a bang when the latest crypto currency goes bust.

Money – Pink Floyd

Happy New Year 2023

Well we made it, another year turns to dust as a new one rises from its ashes.

I hope I’m right in writing that it is 2023! I feel like in some ways in the early hours of this morning I have woken up as a time traveler. Wanting to ask just one simple question which is ‘what year is it?’ hoping that the first random person I see will answer that it’s 2023.

As mum had to go into hospital a week before Christmas it kind of put us all out of kilt. We cancelled Christmas Dinner and dad’s partner had the flue so dad cancelled opening his presents this year, his are still under the darn Christmas tree. My dad has never really been excited about Christmas present opening though so having an excuse or reason not to open his presents in 2022 was something that he took all in his stride.

In his defence he does want to hopefully open his presents with his partner when he sees him when he is feeling better, which is fare enough but there was no way I could have the will power to keep my gifts unwrapped this long. We finally got around to cooking a Christmas lunch on new year’s eve and I am pleased to say I did most of the cooking and the food was lush even if I do say so myself.

The image above is of particular significance to me relating to many, many people I know love and respect in my life. And I wish them all a positive, prosperous and happy new year in 2023.

Friends, family, fellow bloggers and people I work with too. Sometimes I see simple random acts of kindness, courage and love from others that just show an insight into the depth of goodness in their souls that makes me happy to know that I know them and have them in some way in my life.

No one can no what tomorrow brings but built on the acts deeds and ideas of yesterday today can be another good day.

The Phoenix Foundation – Buffalo

The war on climate change – just your typical father and son small talk!

I went out for a meal with my father last week, a sort of pre-birthday pub meal for him and as so often happens we got talking about the world, democracy and climate change, you know just your typical type of small talk you might say!

The way that it came up in the conversation it really is very much like the areas of conversation were all connected. My father is an educated man, more intelligent than me by far, has a better grasp of the English language, loves to read books and also listens a lot to BBC radio 4 which is our UK radio station for informing people and educating people.

So he is well armed to have a discussion about almost any subject matter and express his views on it eloquently and to the point.

Whereas for me on the other hand I am a news junkie mostly about what is going on in the local area as well as globally the good and bad. From watching the news on the TV, reading articles on the web and also keeping an eye on social media and blogs. I am also dyslexic and struggle to read books and struggle to remember what I have read  so I don’t tend to gain information from long articles or books, my memory has evolved in a different way, where I have an emotional memory that  remembers things in relation to my emotional connection to them or from a pictorial or visual stimulus too rather than from remembering words from a page I would rather look at pictures that as they say is worth a thousand words.

There are many things that me and my Dad agree on but also it seems the longer you talk to anyone about any subject the more you find to disagree about rather than agree. We are both fearful for the future of the planet and humanity, we both in our own way try to do our own bit whether that is simply recycling consuming ethically, donating to charities and also advocating change for others when appropriate. But when it comes to our world views he is very much a pessimist and thinks we are all doomed and hopes he is wrong where as I am very much more of an optimist and hope we are not all doomed and hope I am not proven wrong.

With the recent heat waves, fires and lack of rain that have struck Europe over the last few weeks it always makes me think that although we might have it bad here its far worse in the area of the globe that have had famine, food shortages and lack of water for decades such places in Africa that are far hotter it than us for far longer too make me feel like there can never be time for a poor me attitude for how bad I might think I have ever had it in relation to how bad others have and will have it in the future.  

We had a brief respite from the heat today when a storm came over Exeter, it was only a little one but the air and coolness in that storm and rain was sweet.

Storm clouds over Exeter today

Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song