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Swifts, Sainsburys and the Bees

Wednesday 1st May, another clear blue sky day, a fraction more warmth than last week, but when did I last see the trees still bare on May day? I'd have to search the archives.

Why is it so cold?

It's the east wind.
It's a blocking system possibly caused by, erm, arctic meltwater or something odd like that
It's climate change, it means everyone gets more extreme weather more often & it can be just nasty, as well as weird and spectacular.
It's thermohaline circulation starting to break down, which would be so awful, nobody would tell us.
It's because the government won't pay any attention to the scientists
It's because there will be no votes in paying attention to climate change until things get much worse than this. Which they will.
It's the immigrants, they make it cold by taking our jobs.
It's the poor, they eat too much
It's the great turtle sneezing

Take your pick!

I made up that list in March, hopefully it's now out of date, and the weather will become glorious. It's been so cold and bitter down here, for so long, I only realised at the weekend that I should have been expecting the swifts, and searching the skies for them. Not this year. Some are coming in over Devon, but only a couple of vagrants have been spotted in Sussex. Will our surviving handful of Black Arrows make it to Brighton, one more time? I hope they do.

Sainsburys and the Bees

So, on Monday, the EU voted on the neonicotinoids, and a moratorium on their use was declared (a news item that lasted about 10 minutes on the BBC's front page, despite clearly attracting a huge amount of public interest). Our man Owen Patterson, despite our protests, despite overwhelming scientific, political and public support for a ban, voted as his natural loyalties dictated, in favour of Bayer and Syngenta (the makers of the pesticides)*. I suppose there's no use telling any of these people that you can't eat money.

On the other hand, I thought Sainsburys might listen to reason. Rival supermarket giant Waitrose had already told its suppliers they must stop using clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam on crops attractive to pollinators, before the vote. So why not? I decided to start lobbying. After all, they've got a lovely page about Bee Hotels up on Sainsburys plc. . . So far, I've asked them why they weren't following Waitrose's example, and @customerservices has told me (once they'd figured out what I was on about, sort of) that Sainsburys is committed to cuddling the environment, and loves all living things to bits, but outlawing dangerous yet profitable pesticides would be taking things too far. Now I've written again, asking them what they plan to do about the moratorium.

I'll let you know how I get on.


The Innkeepers, Indie horror (TUH!) which I was looking forward to but missed at the Dukes so I recorded it off the tv. Utterly futile. BUT we then watched Evil Dead II, as Gabriel was down for the weekend and had it by him. Utterly glorious, unequalled classic, although I'm not convinced streaming things through the Wii really works.

And the latest tv Swedish police procedural, "Arne Dahl" (why the writer gets that special billing I don't know; maybe a form of iconic jumper?). Grows on you.


New Scientist. For weeks I never get round to reading New Scientist, and I have been guilty of complaining that it's just the same old feature stories, recycled over and over since circa 1984; also guilty of gnashing my teeth over the dreadful tide of human interest and social issues material. Enough! Keep it for your Facebook page! But for some reason I've just been feasting on about a month's supply of really thrilling, nifty and exciting stuff. Top favourites, the vr development that will allow (eg) gamesplayers to run around loose in an immersive virtual world, never bumping into each other or walking through walls (unless the game wants them to); while actually confined in a room not much bigger than somebody's back bedroom. This is just what I needed for the games arenas in North Wind and Phoenix Cafe! And then last week (Quantum Deep Space, 20th April), finally, the experiment that tests quantum theory against general relativity. Satellite mediated, China facilitated, do the weird phenomena (eg, entanglement, and the collapsing wave function thing that backs quantum cryptography) survive in the bigger picture? Or do they vanish!

That's been a long time coming. Very exciting. And who will have the last laugh this time? Einstein or the good lord?


Good news from the Brighton front line: after a council meeting on 30th April, the Seven Dials elm (@saveourtree) is saved. More bad news from Brighton: yet another school playing field is to go under, if Mr Gove has his way & one of those new kind of private schools to go on top of it. Already used by several schools, the playing fields would be sacrificed and replaced by an influx of kids getting bused in from outside the area... Please consider signing the petition

*Honestly, I bet they don't even care, I bet they don't reward this toadying at all. It's just a lobbying reflex big corporations have: anybody wants to ban something we sell (eg tobacco cigarettes), we stop them, no holds barred. We don't think about it all. Because we can.