Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Part of a bigger thing

During this years local elections I acted as an observer on behalf of the Open Rights Group. As part of the process of producing the report I have kept my observations under my hat up until now. Well the report has been published and is available to download. As Jason the co-ordinator for our efforts has already conceded, I will happily admit we went into the process with a view. That view was that given all the problems both theoretical and practically demonstrated in other countries, with the safety and security of electronic voting now was not the time to try it out on the British electorate.
The report shows that as foreseen the inadequate planning and preparation lead to many situations where a system designed to prevent human error and provide efficiency gains, in the most part had the opposite effect.
Please, download the report, please, please read it. If you have an opinion on what it says, write your own blog entry, write and article for the magazine or newspaper you contribute to (if it is at all relevant), pen a letter to your MP, MSP or Councillor (the omission of AM is due to as far as I know the Welsh avoiding having to deal with this problem, this time round). What I really don't want is for you to do nothing, if the right to vote, have your vote counted, have your vote kept confidential and the principle that election fixing is a bad thing are all important to you than please keep the word alive that the trials just conducted in e-voting and e-counting were not a success by any measure.
Edit While I have been writing this it has been pointed out that El Reg, The Mail, Press Association, The Grauniad, Channel 4 all have the story, in these days of citizen journalism don't let the old school media keep the lead ;-)

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Play week

I have finally finished the play blog stuff I have been working on over the week.
The get-in
This is where we go into the theatre, build the set, focus the lights and get everything ready for the play. The drama studio "stage" is actually flat to the floor all the way back to a raised area at the back called the baptistry (it is after all a converted church), so in order to have an area higher things are built up with rostra and to create walls, large wooden frames with canvas stretched over know as flats are erected. Both the rostra and the flats need painting and you need to do this without getting in the way of the scaffolding tower being used by the lighting team or getting any paint on the floor. Those of you who have been to lots of productions at the drama studio will have noticed that we no longer paint the floor, it has to remain the specialist black surface it is now. We got round this for Pride and Prejudice by nailing down hardboard with the chess board pattern on.

Technical Rehearsal
Often one or two people get there earlier to fit up bits of kit that didn't get done the day before. Then we run through the play, not for once, for acting, but to ensure that lighting, entrances, sound queues, scene changes, costumes etc, ad nauseum, work. This is the most frustrating session for everyone, the actors have to stand around or skip parts of their scenes, the techies, no matter how good they are will be too early or too late on cues, the stage crew will find that the changes as written don't work and the director is just getting wound up.

Dress Rehearsal
Everyone says that the dress should be run as if it is a real performance, but personally I can never get quite into that frame of mind, the sheer terror doesn't quite hit. However in all other respects it is a real show and unless things go utterly fubar it shouldn't stop and it is the point where the doctrine that you are on your own really digs in. The company runs without a prompt, it is up to everyone to do their best to dig a friend out of a hole if the forget a line, miss a queue or get stuck in a loop. One of the hardest things to change is binning the "sorries" that pepper rehearsals.

Opening night
OMFG what the bloody hell am I doing here? I get huge stage fright, I can however feed off it and it is what drives my performances, I don't think I would manage to get the performances I can without it. Pride and Prejudice was a bit easier in this respect as I wasn't on stage until scene 8 and before then was doing scene changes and the occasional piece of foley work. Traditionally the first night audience is a little quiet and doesn't laugh quite as much as the cast would like. I will admit I do encourage some of my friends to come along on the Wednesday and get the jokes, especially the geeky or filthy ones ;-)

Day two in the Bennet House, Lizzy is called to the diary room
After the utter terror of the first night, the second night is a welcome relief, you generally get a warmer, but maybe smaller audience than Wednesday. Personally I find that if I am not careful and keep focus Thursday is the mistake day. You have done it to real humans once, it must be easy to do again.

Rock and roll
This for me is the night, it is usually the biggest and best audience, although that can be Saturday. it is also as far as my personal performance biorhythms best night, good focus, great feedback from the audience, the cast have settled in, are enjoying it and will have got any rough patches out of the way on Thursday.

Last Night, get out and party
Depending on circumstance this may well be the warmest audience and for some of the cast this will be the pinnacle performance, for others there will be a tinge of "teh w00t last night" but the standard is high enough that it is still a damn fine show even so. Then there is the taking down of all the set and packing away any of the furniture that isn't drama studio property to go away. For something that takes a whole day to build it normally takes less than a couple of hours to demolish, even taking to accunt the exadurated care some of it has to be done with to ensure some of the more expensive bits last as long as possible. Then off to relax over a small glass of wine, enjoy the congratulations of your colleagues and big up thier performance, then talk rubbish for a couple of hours while repeating all the in jokes that have built up over the the week. Matlock!


Back on stream

I suppose the big question after lots of last nights blogging, is what harm was Gatecrasher 1 doing you? Ok it may not have played your favourite music or had your favourite kind of people, but no-one was making you go there. It was employing people and the punters were enjoying it, and now that is broken; people's livelihoods are now at stake and the loss of a venue like that will effect us all as the various nights and events there go looking for other spaces. photos here if you don't know what I am on about

It is the same with the cheering over the death of Bernard Manning, the man has left family behind, loved ones who are now grieving his loss, be happy in of yourself if you like but cheering on a man shuffling off this mortal coil, no matter how much of a bigot he may have been. Just quietly and respectfully tick him off your dead pool team.

The last point is the right wing media hooting on about the BBC trust's new report about impartiality. I don't know what to rant more about, the fact that they are all missing the bit that says Auntie is getting it mostly right, the fact that they don't want impartiality, they want the BBC to bang on about immigration and how bad the government is and how it is all threatening house prices. Or should I just mention to them that they haven't got the faintest idea how difficult the tightrope of impartiality is, in contrast with the heart on the sleeve politics of print media, where no-one manages it and the only paper that really tries is as dull as ditchwater. Or perhaps given that the left also complains about ther treatment that perhaps the problem isn't bias, but that the BBC are asking the difficult questions we are asking them to?

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Top Gear's 20 things you need to know about eco-motoring

I read this and couldn't keep quiet...

  1. According to Euro NCAP, an Audi Q7 is less harmful in a pedestrian impact than a Ford Fiesta.

    That is an argument to improve the Fiesta, not to drive the Audi

  2. A season of F1 racing burns less fossil fuel than a single transatlantic 747 flight.

    I suspect this only includes the racing, given that as there are two races on the other side of the pond a fair few people will be taking transatlantic flights

  3. The Stern Report found that cars make up less than half of all transport emissions in the UK.

    Half over all isn't an interesting figure, what was the proportion when you look at emissions per passenger per mile?

  4. The average British home emits 1,500kg more CO2 per year than a Ford Focus.

    Turn your heating down dude!

  5. Buy local. A car carrier burns 1,756 tonnes of heavy fuel oil one way from Japan to the UK.

    A fair and sensible point!

  6. Oxford Street is the UK's most polluted street. Most of Oxford Street's length is closed to cars.

    In fairness there are a lot of busses on Oxford Street, how do you teach tourists to ******* walk

  7. Like trains, cars are only efficient when they're full. A fully loaded Discovery emits less CO2 per occupant than a fully loaded Smart.

    Jeremy C himself did the test of standing next to a motorway counting cars with multiple occupants, the donkey sanctuary didn't get much money from him.

  8. Acid rain created from mining nickel for Prius batteries has destroyed the landscape in Sudbury, Ontario to such an extent that NASA now uses the area to test drive its latest lunar vehicles.

    NASA sent people to train there for the Apollo programme, which slightly predates the Prius, it was also due to specific rock formations not barrenness. While the Acid rain exists, the fact that the town is famous for the worlds largest coin, a "nickel", suggests that is what most of said metal is used for.

  9. It's at least three times cheaper to drive a small diesel from London to Edinburgh than it is to take the train.

    This is not an environmental point

  10. The average saloon car is responsible for its own kerbweight in CO2 per year. The average Brit accounts for 30 times his own body weight.

    30 times his own body weight ~= 390 stone (13 stone man) if the kerbweight of his car is 200 stone then it accounts for more than half the emissions (1.2 tonne car)

  11. The UK's superminis emit three times as much CO2 as its SUVs.

    In total? Is that because there are more of them?

  12. While 85 per cent of cars are recyclable by law, trains go unregulated, with much of each heading to landfill.

    No 12 and we have our second decent point, someone phone the EU and get this sorted

  13. A domestic flight emits around 400g/km of CO2 per passenger, four times that of a small diesel car with only the driver onboard.

    So don't fly domestic!

  14. Despite being smaller and emitting less CO2 than a Toyota Prius, the Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion is not exempt from London's Congestion Charge.

    Perhaps the congestion charge should be based on emission measures rather than engine technology

  15. Farting cows are responsible for 18 per cent of all greenhouse gases, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.

    So, is the Top Gear team going to give up on steak and burgers? Didn't think so...

  16. Anti-car evangelist Ken Livingstone doesn't even have a driving licence. But he does have a Prius.

    Cheap shot

  17. A Land Rover Discovery has a smaller carbon footprint than a London Cab.

    I bet I know which one does more passenger miles for that footprint

  18. Carbon offsetting could do more harm than good. Forests north of the Tropics retain heat and actually contribute to global warming.

    a) isn't that an argument about positioning of forests rather than just against them b) Offsetting should only ever be used for unavoidable carbon, we should still be reducing like mad.

  19. A Boeing 747 emits 400 tonnes of CO2 in 24 hours. It would take 250 cars a year to achieve this.

    You can see this either as an argument against large plains, or as a suggestion that you should buy an amphibious car and drive the 10600 if you want to get to sydney

  20. Some electric cars aren't even governed by today's safety legislature. The G-Wiz being one example.

    Again, this is hardly an environmental point