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Is IS the sum of all fears?

February 7, 2015

nuclearcity_crop_icanAs this blog is titled 2020 Visions and exists, primarily, to help me imagine the future for my children, I read with interest that the terrorist organisation that has dominated the dark side of the 21st century so far has its own 2020 vision.

Although you need to take stuff written on Wikipedia with a hefty pinch of salt sometimes, particularly related to fast moving, politically charged events prone to cyber misinformation, there is a section on the Al Qaeda entry relating to the organisation’s strategy, which cites two separate sources from 2005 who basically agree on the general outline of what is titled “Al Qaeda’s Strategy to the Year 2020”.

It begins with provoking the US to attack a Muslim country by killing many of its citizens on its home soil.

Now, whether or not this has a degree of post event reasoning from the sources, personally I thought in the wake of 9/11 that the main outcome Bin Laden wished to achieve through such a world shaking atrocity was to get the US on the ground in Iraq – as George W Bush wouldn’t be able to restrain himself from finishing what his father started. I’m sure such thoughts and feelings were top of the mind of many of the millions who protested against the West invading Iraq.

Read more…

Green Nation – Free Solar Panel offers in South West UK – Greater freedom for the rest of us

August 30, 2014

This is a big shout out for a fantastic renewable energy company in the South West UK who are doing wonderful things with solar energy.

Established in 2011, Green Nation is developing solar farms of increasing size and helping public, commercial and private residences to maximise the benefits of solar power.

gn_com_home_pics2This is the type of organisation that is quietly making a big difference to some of the challenges we are facing today and on a blog related to imagining the world my children will inherit I have no hesitation in advocating and promoting their offerings.

Aside from being founded and run by people who are passionate about the transformative capabilities of technology, they already have many happy commercial and residential customers who are seeing the tangible and realistic benefits of installing the latest generation of solar panels.

Regular followers of this blog will know my admiration for the call to action campaign One Hundred Months and its excellent monthly updates which are a healthy mix of eye-opening climate science, political skepticism and technological optimisim.

As the counter clicked down to 29 at the beginning of this month, now well under the half way point in this credible and insightful action timeline, the concise and useful 5 point communication contained an excellent article documenting progress that is being made to combat our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels. Titled  10 reasons to be hopeful that we will overcome climate change point number 3 contains this encouraging comment … Read more…

Remembering Frank W. Hoskins – 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade 1911-1919

August 4, 2014

Frank W Hoskins on joining the Rifle Brigade and being posted to Africa and India aged 18

I never met my paternal grandfather, Frank William Hoskins, but his story is one of the biggest inspirations in my life.

He died aged 67 in 1961 after suffering a stroke and contracting pneumonia a few years before I was born.

He enlisted in the Rifle Brigade in 1911 at the age of 18 and was on active service in Africa and India prior to the outbreak of the First World War. In 1914 he was sent with the British Expeditionary Force to France and survived being posted for a year on the Western Front, including having to deal with the first use of poison gas and flamethrowers on the battlefields during the Second Battle of Ypres. In late 1915 he was sent to Salonika to fight on the Macedonian Front for the remainder of the war. He was discharged from the Southern Command malaria concentration centre in spring 1919 – marking the end of his military career.

Having contracted malaria twice during his time on the Macedonian Front I have no doubt that this contributed to his early death as it is well documented these days that the disease can lay dormant and recur for many years after early infections. Added to which were the after effects of the only known drug treatment for malaria at that time – quinine – a hateful substance that caused tinnitus, giddiness, blurred vision, nausea, tremors and depression.

So despite surviving at the vanguard of many battles as a sharpshooter, scout and skirmisher, the psychological and physical legacy of the  ‘Great War’ stretched beyond those early 20th Century years to finally claim him as a victim later in life. Read more…

Rome – a Smart City starting to get into a Twizzy

August 1, 2014

It’s been a while since I produced an automotive related post but a recent trip to Rome has reminded me just how ripe things are for a revolution.

smart_romeThe people of Rome don’t do cycling. In fact, seeing someone riding the streets on a bicycle of any pedalled variety is a rarity. What they do love however is small cars and scooters.

The country that gave us iconic cars like the Fiat 500 and the Vespa and Lambretta scooter brands has clearly embraced other small four, three and two wheeled vehicles, most notably Smart cars.

Rome must be the Smart car capital of the world and it is easy to see why the narrow cobbled streets and lack of large open parking areas or multi-story car parks have led to such an uptake of compact two seated vehicles that up half the space of the average family car. Read more…

LED this way and that on the road to recovery – Spring Fair NEC 2014

February 4, 2014

This last weekend I went on what is an annual pilgrimage for many business owners – that glorious ‘assault on the senses’ known as the Spring Fair at the NEC.

ipad_businessIf you haven’t been there, or to the smaller Autumn equivalent, then it is basically where the nation’s shopkeepers – both online and bricks and mortar – gather to see what latest and greatest ideas they can stock their warehouses and shelves with to entice the punters to part with their cash.

It was interesting to see what’s changed and what hasn’t since my last visit in 2011

The first thing that was noticeably different is that the ‘buzz is back’. You could see that even on the opening Sunday, when the general public like to take a peek, there was business being done. The last time I witnessed anywhere near a ‘buzz’ at a Spring or Autumn Fair was way back at the start of 2008 before the impact of the financial meltdown hit home in the UK.

The other big general change from a couple of years ago is that tablet PCs have become not just a flashy accessory but an essential exhibition tool – from snapping visitor badges, to demonstrating product variations to collecting order information, the exhibition stands were awash with tablet toting staff tapping and swiping away.

Here are a few more observations and highlights from this year’s visit … Read more…

Makes me proud to be British

December 23, 2013

Continuing the unprecedented run of warm and fuzzy feelgood posts on my blog over the last six months or so I’m finishing my 2013 commentary with three experiences in the last week that have made me particularly proud (and lucky) to be British …

TimBL takes a stand on web freedom hypocrisy

ingsoc-prop1As a regular nominee and occasional winner on the various ‘Greatest Briton’ lists, inventor of the World Wide Web and all round good local bloke – when Tim Berners-Lee speaks, I listen and when he worries, I worry too.

This week he was the figurehead of a collaboration of free speech advocates and leading activists who have written an open letter highlighting the hypocrisy of member nations of the Open Government Partnership.

I am less proud of the fact the UK is one of those hypocritical member nations but in 100% agreement with the simple point that the western world doesn’t have a leg to stand on in protesting about lack of web freedoms elsewhere in the world when its leading members are complicit in running one of the largest surveillance networks the world has ever seen.

Commenting on the exposure of what organisations like the US National Security Agency have been up to in secret it says …

“These practices erode the checks and balances on which accountability depends, and have a deeply chilling effect on freedom of expression, information and association, without which the ideals of open government have no meaning.”

Read more…

Out on the highway – Street Gliding the Everglades Headwaters

November 13, 2013

After 10 days of ferrying the family around theme parks and shopping malls ‘Dad’ was given his day in the Florida sun to use as he wished :)

Now that my eldest is increasingly making her own way in the world, I doubt that we will head state-side on a family holiday for quite a while now so I thought I’d go for a full-on American experience and decided to hire a Harley Davidson for a day, head down south for some alligator spotting in the swamps and then have a go at firing some weapons at a gun range.

Street-Glide-2014I’ve never ridden a Harley before and as I’m fast approaching 50 and the age at which my family seem happier for me to own another bike then it was a good opportunity to experience what this style of ‘laid back’ classic motorcycling has to offer.

The bike I chose was the 2014 Street Glide model which is the latest output from Harley Davidson’s ‘Project Rushmore’ – an initiative from the iconic company to incorporate over 100 renovations into their 2014 product range that are based on close collaboration with customers.

The guys at Harley Davidson in South Orlando were very helpful to this HOG world newbie, giving me the full run down on this new machine and some of its ‘awesome’ features, such as the on-board infotainment system that includes bluetooth connectivity.

A few circuits of an adjacent car park to familiarise myself with the basic controls and handling and I was ready to get out on the highway.

Read more…


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