Thursday, 11 December 2008

Worth checking out

Some interesting stuff that has caught my eye recently:

Broadcasting guru Richard Rubin has a wise and thoughtful piece about dodgy BBC outsourcing, the Ross/Brand affair (expressing exactly my own thoughts about how this was just a particularly ghastly example of what has become a "nasty, cruel and very regrettable" aspect of British popular culture), and how TV stars can get radio wrong. Also fond memories of meeting Kenny Everett and Keith Skues.

In Ross's case, there can be little doubt that the negative coverage was partly prompted by his outrageous but seemingly sincere belief that his £6,000,000 a year contract with the Corporation was "worth a thousand journalists". It was that remark that prompted me to stop listening to him -- I rarely watched him, in any case -- because the BBC must have, as its irreducible core, robust, well funded and well staffed journalism, and the thought that, at a time when it was cutting journalist posts, such cuts were helping to pay this grossly overcompensated 'star' was offensive, to say the least.
There is a new edition of Joel Crawford's online mag Carfree Times. Among other things, he puts forward An Agenda for President Obama. Nothing less than the fate of the Earth is at stake, he says:
It has become apparent that we simply cannot continue growth in the manner prescribed by the World Bank and the IMF. Unfettered capitalism is the road to vast riches for a very few people, a better standard of living for many, but not all, people, and massive damage to the ecosystems that sustain life on Earth.

The only solution is a completely different approach. We must focus not on material standards of living but on quality of life. (.....) Rising material standards of living have led, in the main, to a falling quality of life. We must focus not on goods, the manufacture of which is nearly always accompanied by damage to the environment, but on services, which can provide a livelihood to enormous numbers of people while improving the quality of life and protecting the environment. One service in desperate need is indeed the repair of damage we have already done to the environment ..... 

He goes on to deal with the transport and energy implications in particular. With the aim of ending dependence on fossil fuels as rapidly as possible, he calls of course for a national system of renewable electricity generation, but also, in the short to medium term, for an urgent large-scale programme to reduce energy consumption in all buildings (labour-intensive work which will provide many jobs), an end to new housing in rural areas and distant suburbs, a new tax on air tickets, a ban on all airport expansion, and heavy public investment in the railway network. The article focuses on the USA but most of what he says applies everywhere, and it is well worth reading in detail.

Progressive London is a new website designed to keep alive the progressive policies of Ken Livingstone. It is cross-party, not a purely Labour affair. It is campaigning on various fronts, including a petition against the latest above-inflation fare increases.

Intriguing revelations from Christian Wolmar, who claims that the Cabinet is deeply split over transport policy:
On transport, it is clear that Geoff Hoon has little truck with the environmental agenda. He is a definite supporter of the third runway at Heathrow, the touchstone issue in this debate. A host of younger Cabinet members, such as the Millibands, more tuned into the Green agenda, are ranged against him. Gordon Brown's instincts are to side with the arguments in favour of economic development and I suspect that means the third runway will get the go ahead in the New Year. 
Bendy buses revisited: following my posts in March and September, London Travelwatch has given its attention to TfL's proposal to abandon bendy buses on, in the first instance, routes 38, 507 and 521. I am happy to say they wholly agree with me that this is a stupid idea:
London TravelWatch believes that there are overwhelming advantages in terms of accessibility, manoeuvrability in limited roadspace, loading and dwell times at stops, and economies of operation to the use of articulated buses on routes with high volumes of passengers. In particular these are very suitable for use on routes which serve main line railway termini where large volumes of passengers often arrive at stops in very short spaces of time from arriving rail services.
Congratulations also to Dave Cole, who has been following this issue as well, and has managed to extract some information from TfL. One commenter on his blog points out that the proposed replacements for the Red Arrow routes (507 and 521) will lead to a net increase in the amount of road space required of 21% and an increase in the number of drivers required of 82%.

And finally, European socialism is back, according to Neil Clark in the Staggers and Naggers:
Across the continent, there is a definite trend in which long-established parties of the centre left that bought in to globalisation and neoliberalism are seeing their electoral dominance challenged by unequivocally socialist parties which have not.

No comments: