Monthly archives: June 2015

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a rat rod style scooter bike 1

Ratty Scooter

Ratty Scooter

I spotted this across the road whilst wandering around town, and just had to have a picture. How cool is this rat rod style scooter?

When I stop living in the sky and find somewhere with a garage (which won’t be for a while), I’d love to have something like this for the occasional cool buzz around town. Of course, I’ve heard that older scooter engines can be very polluting for their size, so it would have to have a newer motor fitted instead or, for the ultimate mod (but not Mod), it could go electric.

Cool lowrider

I also spotted this cool chopper. The riding position looks close to that of a recumbent, so it mightn’t be as hard to pedal as you’d first think. Steering could be tricky, though.

That back tyre is actually three mountain bike tyres fitted to some sort of custom rim, which is an interesting way of doing things.

Marching against austerity

Anti Austerity march, London, June 20th 2015

So yesterday, a few of us from Salford Green Party, and at least 400 people from Manchester, went down to London to join the big anti-austerity march. A few of the photos I took are in this Flickr gallery. Not all the banners were as amusingly blunt as the one above, and, even on a demo, I couldn’t keep myself from taking the occasional architectural photo. There are a lot of clocks on Fleet Street.

Turnout was estimated to be as high as 250,000. It’s the Tory conference in Manchester in October, so expect to see something similar here then.

There’s a Salford Greens group on Flickr now, which we’ll fill up with pictures from events and campaigns. So far, only my pictures are on it, but I did just create it ten minutes ago.

What a surprise- “Osborne plan has no basis in economics”

The chancellor’s plans, announced in his Mansion House speech, for “permanent budget surpluses” are nothing more than an attempt to outmanoeuvre his opponents. They have no basis in economics. Osborne’s proposals are not fit for the complexity of a modern 21st-century economy and, as such, they risk a liquidity crisis that could also trigger banking problems, a fall in GDP, a crash, or all three.

I don’t think that Osborne is completely economically illiterate, he just wants to create traps for the shadow chancellor. Deficit is the bad word. If another politician said that they couldn’t promise to avoid a deficit, the Tory press would be all over them.

Source: Osborne plan has no basis in economics | Letter from Ha-Joon Chang, Thomas Piketty, David Blanchflower and others | Politics | The Guardian

Naked Bike Ride 2015

I nearly didn’t bother taking pictures at this year’s Naked Bike Ride. The first and second times I did the ride, it was a bit of a surprise to have photos taken from inside the pack, rather than by giggling folks on their mobiles. So I was getting something a bit special.

Yesterday, it seemed that every other rider had a camera, some of them had more than one, and there were GoPros in evidence. So I set off thinking that it would be okay, I’d let everyone else take photos.

But, I’d brought my camera, and then we stopped on Oxford Road and this was the view ahead-

Manchester World Naked Bike Ride 2015

And this was the view behind-

Manchester World Naked Bike Ride 2015

I knew I had to get a few.

Most of the shots came out dark or blurred because of the overcast, but there were a few more I liked.

These guys had issues. But they’re the sort of people who have issues with everything, and whatever the guy with the megaphone was saying was drowned out by the sarcastic cheering of a hundred or so naked folk.

Manchester World Naked Bike Ride 2015

On the left hand side of this shot, you’ll see the coolest rider of all of us, a three year old kid on a balance bike, who managed to keep up with us for nearly half the ride. He’s a star.

Manchester World Naked Bike Ride 2015

Obligatory Beetham Tower with naked riders in front of it picture.

Manchester World Naked Bike Ride 2015


The bunker echoed with its first human sounds in decades, the slap and squeak of rubber soles on marble flooring.

A slight figure sprinted out of the corridor into the three storey atrium, hurdled a chaise and slid to a halt in a crouch. With a sweep of her legs, she turned to face back the way she had come. There may have been the hint of amusement in the eyes as she looked back down the corridor.

Her black hair was cut haphazardly, and a scarf covered her mouth so she didn’t have to breathe all the dust she stirred up. Only her eyes and a slit of dark skin around them were visible. Dressed in loose trousers, dark body suit and light jacket and with an old courier bag over her shoulders, she had weapons and exploration equipment carefully secreted about her body. She was ready for the men who chased her.

Her name was Maxine, and it was her job to be the decoy. She was enjoying it more than she should.
She couldn’t yet see her pursuers, but they made enough noise to compensate for that. They were doing what they were supposed to, following her into the residential wing so she could lay a trap for them. Now that she had them here, she had to work out what that trap would be.

White circles in the ceiling were light domes, diffusing the daylight far above that had been channelled through mirrored light tubes. Rectangles set into the wall lit up with uncertain flickers. They would be powered by the mini nuclear plant far below the floor. Even after all these years, the automated systems still worked, which was impressive. Maxine studied the newly illuminated room, doing a tactical assessment.

The atrium was circular, with only one entrance on its lower level, the one Maxine had entered by. A semi-circular balcony looked down from the level of the first floor opposite the corridor, a dark wood double door at the mid point. Curved stairs led up to the balcony, and a jumbled mix of marble and bronze statues were gathered around the walls. So far, so much like the plans Maxine had seen.

Darting toward the nearest statue, Maxine jumped up on to its hunched shoulders and pushed off from its head to grab the balustrade of the stairs, clambering over them. It saved her whole seconds over the less flamboyant route from the foot of the stairs.

The double doors swung open easily, opening onto a darkened room. As more motion sensing lights turned on, Maxine closed the doors behind herself and drew a seat across to barricade them. It wouldn’t hold for long, but she only wanted to create a small delay. She studied the tableaux revealed by the lamps.
She was in a large dining room, dominated by a long table. Three desiccated figures were sat before their final suppers. Judging by their attire, two women and a man. One woman was sat nearly upright in her chair, head twisted toward the door and mouth open in what could as easily be a smile as pain. The other woman, across the table, had slumped forward into whatever she had been eating.

The man sat at the head of the table. There was something lopsided about his head. As Maxine neared him, she recognised what was wrong. Most of the left side of his skull was missing. She walked around the back of his chair and there, still clutched in the leather wrapped bones of his right hand, was a large semi automatic pistol. The fingers snapped off as she pulled the weapon from them. On the table beside the man’s meal was a box of cartridges.

Outside the room, there were voices, shouts of orders, then a hammering as her pursuers tried to force their way in. She held up the gun. Pulling back the slide to chamber a new round, she didn’t like the feel of it. She had seen too many guns disintegrate under test firing to trust this one. There was a .38 revolver in a holster under her arm that she did trust, and a 9mm on her hip, but she wasn’t sure the guys on the other side of the door were worth the expense of bullets. She felt like improvising.

False windows in the walls looked out onto idealised visions of the world before, back when there had been abundance. They looked like nothing Maxine had ever seen. She imagined they bore little resemblance to the world that had led the occupants to build this bunker, either. Under the windows were long tables laid out with the pretty and pointless possessions the rich folk hiding here had felt were important. An array of big watches caught Maxine’s eye. There was a pile of pashminas and shawls in silk and cashmere beside the watches. She wrapped one of the soft wool scarves around her fist and picked up the heaviest, most unnecessarily knurled of the watches.

Beside the doors, there was an override switch for the room’s lights. Maxine turned the lights off and stood beside the switch as the battering on the door began to splinter the chair barring it. It gave way, finally, with a creak and crack, and the door pushed open. Two figures entered, back lit from the atrium.

“She be here?” the nearest one said.

“Must be. None else to go to.”

“Why no lights?” said a voice from the balcony.

“She hide. We find her.”

“We find her, we do her good.” the nearest one said.

Continues in Pickers 1: The Find, which is released on July 4th. You can pre-order it now.

Pickers 2: The Trip is released on July 18th, and can also be pre-ordered.

Pickerscover01-150 Pickerscover02-150

Tory press cheers on £3bn cuts… but ignores anti-austerity IMF report

Today’s right-wing newspapers commit sins both of commission and omission. What they do and don’t say about economics today is very revealing. First, the omission. As Left Foot Forward reported yesterday, along with the Guardian, the Economist and others, the International Monetary Fund has published a report arguing that focus on cutting national debt rather than investment can do more harm than good. It said a bit of debt won’t actually hurt your economy, and will naturally be swallowed up by investment-led growth. Predictably, since this strikes to the root of the Tory government’s rationale for its economic policies over the past five years, (and for the five to come), the paper has been ignored by today’s right-wing print newspapers.

I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you, that most of the press in the UK is so obviously biased. Did the supposedly leftwing BBC mention this? I bet it didn’t.

Source: Tory press cheers on £3bn cuts… but ignores anti-austerity IMF report | Left Foot Forward

The government is reading your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Tell them what you think.

The Government is extending its market research spend to track trends on social media and get feedback from it faster.

Some people see this as spying and worry about its effects on free speech, eg- The government is about to start spying on your Facebook and Twitter feeds a lot more | Vox Political

I’m not so paranoid (about this particular announcement, anyway). I save my worries for the Snoopers’ Charter and other measures the Tories want to bring in. This sounds more like paying someone to see what’s trending, so they can have a better idea of what’s likely to become a talking point.

Vocal opposition makes a difference. Even this government will change (or, at least, water down) policies if it realises they are hated. So, the more people declaring their anger at stupid policies, the better. The paranoid types who see this as a reason to clam up in the feeds are going to have the opposite effect to the one they want.

The Texas Floods Are So Big They Ended the State’s Drought

“Rain just doesn’t fall in a civilized fashion in Texas,” says Ronald Kaiser, a water expert at Texas A&M.

The extremes of Texas’ water problems could be a model for growing areas of the world as climate change gets worse. Extreme dry spells followed by devastating floods- which nonetheless top up the water supply.

One question, and I’m sure it’s a dumb one, but I’ll pose it anyway. If they’ve been pumping water out of the aquifers for years, surely they have the beginnings of an infrastructure to pump it back in when there’s an excess above ground. It wouldn’t be any good flood control, but it might help clear the standing water afterwards, as well as topping up the stores.

Source: The Texas Floods Are So Big They Ended the State’s Drought | WIRED

Homeless People Face £1,000 Fines For Sleeping Rough

Homeless people face fines of up to £1,000 for sleeping rough in public doorways, under a new asbo-style rule introduced by a London Council.Homelessness charities have reacted angrily to Hackney Council’s ‘Public Space Protection Order’, which they say “criminalises homelessness”.The new order bans homeless people from sleeping in public areas and doorways and can be legally enforced through a £100 on the spot fine.This fine could quickly escalate to as much as £1,000, due to additional court costs. It remains unclear on how the Council will expect destitute homeless people to pay up.

This is another one of those ideas so stupid you keep checking to see if it’s a joke. There is wording about putting homeless people in touch with organisations that may be able to help them, but that doesn’t negate the nonsensical basic idea.

There have been some schemes trialled in other countries, where homeless people were given places to live, at the expense of the local authorities, and this ended up costing less in policing, health and other expenditure. It’s also vastly more humane than piling extra punishment onto people who are already at what they thought was the lowest point possible.

Source: Homeless People Face £1,000 Fines For Sleeping Rough | Welfare Weekly

‘Change the law so car-drivers are automatically blamed for cycling accidents – unless they can prove otherwise’ | Metro News

Dutch driving laws force motorists to play it safe. Isn’t it time we adopted strict liability to protect cyclists in Britain?

There’s a vote option at the bottom of the piece. The result won’t make a difference in the grand scheme, but I recommend clicking Yes for the benefit of Metro readers.

Source: ‘Change the law so car-drivers are automatically blamed for cycling accidents – unless they can prove otherwise’ | Metro News