Ian Nairn visits Barnsley

Housing shortage: The problem is not councils but builders

Under-pressure Harborough District Council wants an urgent meeting with house builders in the area to ask them: “Can you build any faster?” 
The council has been asked to build 638 homes a year for the next five years. ... 
Both the ruling Conservatives and opposition Liberal Democrats say that the new Government-approved house-building figure is much too high. 
And the Conservatives add that even when enough planning applications are granted, they are completely in the hands of builders who move at a speed dictated by markets – not by local councils or the Government.
I suspect the situation in Harborough, as reported by the Harborough Mail, is typical.

Here, the council is now extremely reluctant to turn down any planning proposal lest the developer win an appeal and costs. This was certainly behind the approval of plans for an out-of-town Tesco here earlier this summer.

But however many new houses a council approves, it has no say in whether they are built or not. It follows that taking more planning powers from councils will not improve the supply of houses.

Instead, we need to get tough with developers who sit on undeveloped land. A tax sounds a good idea.

And why not give councils the powers to build houses that they used to enjoy? The last conventionally financed council houses in Market Harborough are called Jubilee Gardens because they were completed in 1977 - the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

XTC: The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead


A great song by Swindon's finest. The single of this was the first CD I ever bought - some time before I owned a CD player. (I knew it would come in.)

You can also find XTC's Love on a Farm Boy's Wages on this blog.

Arts Fresco returns to Market Harborough, 14 September


From the Arts Fresco website:
Once a year, on a day in September, Arts Fresco transforms Market Harborough to a magical playground of exotic and funny characters, colours and sounds. 
Giggles and cheer are echoing on the streets bringing the entire community together to share the inspiration of art. 
On Sunday, the 14th September 2014 Market Harborough will be filled with huge mystical creatures causing confusion among the people; should they run or follow? 
Come and see for yourselves…

Six of the Best 461

"The debate until now has been civilized - if shallow, dishonest and misguided. Divorces usually only get nasty when the lawyers are called in. If we call in the lawyers on September 19th, you can bet that there will be a backlash - much that we have taken for granted will be lost and bitterness and rancour will inevitably emerge - even in the most civilized divorces much is regretted." Cicero's Songs pleads with his fellow countrymen to reject Scottish independence.

Elwyn Watkins on Liberal Democrat Voice describes how one community in Rochdale took control to protect its children and young people.

Freethinking Economist makes some surprising discoveries in a biography of Roy Jenkins.

Who was Captain Swing? LibrarianShipwreck explains.

"Cook's presence at the top of the order - at least a Cook as demonstrably out of form as this - is impeding their hopes of progress." George Dobell on Cricinfo calls for changes to England's one-day international side.

Talking of cricket, the Lord's site shows us some weird and wonderful items from the MCC Museum (including Bob Wyatt's hip joint).

Mint Chocolate Chip Nice Cream

Mint chocolate chip has always been one of my ice cream favourites so I was really happy when I realized that I could totally do a healthy take on this good old classic using bananananas instead of cream. Plus, ice cream making doesn't get any easier than this. Just chuck it all in the food processor and watch magic happen!



Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream:

3-4 frozen bananas (~330g)

1/4 cup plant based milk

A few drops of peppermint oil or extract, adjust amount after strength

1 tsp matcha green tea powder

1/2 tsp wheatgrass (optional)

Chocolate sauce:

1 tsp liquid sweetener of choice

1 tsp cacao powder

1 tsp almond milk OR melted coconut oil

Optional:
Vegan chocolate chips/chopped dark chocolate/raw cacao nibs to serve as the chocolate chips


How to:
1. To make the ice cream, simply blend all ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth. I like to blitz everything until all the banana coins have been broken down by the blades before adding the milk. Do what works best for you though, and feel free to add more milk if it won't blend with 1/4 cup.
2. For the chocolate sauce, all you have to do is mix all the ingredients together with a fork. If you decide to use the coconut oil it will harden once you pour it onto the ice cream (provided it hasn't melted ofc) which is kind of cool. 
3. Spoon the nice cream up in a bowl or a tall glass, top with chocolate sauce and chocolate chips and serve immediately!


Douglas Carswell speaking in favour of open primaries



When you have finished laughing, remember that the 'political reform' section of the Coalition Agreement said:
We will fund 200 all-postal primaries over this Parliament, targeted at seats which have not changed hands for many years. These funds will be allocated to all political parties with seats in Parliament that they take up, in proportion to their share of the total vote in the last general election.
I think there is a lot to be said for this proposal, but nothing has been heard of it since 2010.

Stamford railway station


Taken last summer, when I also photographed the town's former Water Street station (later known as Stamford East).

Homophobic monks sighted in Brighton and Cambridge

On Wednesday I blogged about the sighting of a monk delivering homophobic leaflets in Market Harborough:
The leaflets were delivered to homes in Granville Street, Bath Street, Nithsdale Avenue, Claxton* Street and Northampton Road. 
One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I saw the monk in Bath Street, followed by two angry people.”
It turns out that homophobic monks have also been sighted in Brighton and Cambridge.

Backwatersman has suggested on Twitter that, like Spring-heeled Jack, the homophobic monk may be a manifestation of our collective subconscious fears.

* Actually it's Caxton Street, after the pioneer of printing. There used to be a type foundry there.

Judge slams lawyer for wearing 'Harry Potter' outfit in court

The Daily Express wins Headline of the Day

Fussy Friday # 35

Marcus Brothers - Enduring Legacies - Judie Rothermel
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How public schools dominate British life and why it matters

Alexei Sayle explains...

Is Douglas Carswell trying to save his seat?

Nigel Farage has hailed Douglas Carswell's decision to resign his seat in the Commons and fight the resultant by-election as a Ukip candidate as "the noblest thing I've seen in British politics in my lifetime".

But is he right?

Could it even be that Carswell's decision results from a cool consideration of his own interests?

Because I have seen two pieces of evidence today that suggest Clacton is just about Ukip's best prospect at the next general election.

The first piece of evidence comes from Huffington Post:
According to research by professor Matthew Goodwin, from Nottingham University, and Manchester University's Rob Ford, Carswell's Clacton voters are the most Ukip-friendly in the entire country. 
Goodwin, co-author of the book Revolt On The Right, explained on his blog: "This is because the seat contains high concentrations of voters who are likely to be very receptive toward Nigel Farage: it has lots of pensioners, lots of voters without a degree, lots of voters with no educational qualifications and higher than average levels of economic disadvantage and unemployment. 
"UKIP tend to thrive in such communities --older, less well educated and insecure voters provide the ideal breeding ground for Farage's army. 
"Clacton is also very 'white', with high numbers of voters born in the country and few minorities, which again favours UKIP, who poll strongest in ethnically homogeneous areas."
The second from Cicero Elections:
In the 2010 General Election, UKIP didn’t enter a candidate to oppose Carswell, who won 22,867 votes. However, in the European elections, UKIP did turn up and absolutely stormed the polls, gaining 19,398 votes against the Tories’ 9,981. Winning almost 50% of the vote, UKIP performed better in Clacton than almost anywhere else in the country. It’s also worth noting that a further 1,500 people voted for other eurosceptic parties at the time. 
In the three months since the European elections, UKIP’s standing in the polls has not dropped and they have continued to do well in local elections in the South East of England.
So resigning as Conservative MP for Clacton to fight a by-election for Ukip may not be so noble after all.

No, the noblest resignation in Farage's lifetimes is probably that of Bruce Douglas Mann, who appalled his fellow defectors by resigning as Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden to fight a by-election as an SDP Alliance candidate when he knew he would almost certainly lose.

NASA, Edwards say goodbye to historic landmark

by Jet Fabara
412th Test Wing Public Affairs


8/27/2014 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A structure synonymous with NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center for the past 38 years -- the grey-colored space shuttle Mate-Demate Device here -- is being dismantled and demolished as a part of the final chapter in the U.S. space shuttle program.

The decision comes three years after the shuttle program ended, and six years since it last supported turnaround operations after the last shuttle landing at Edwards.

"People at this base know that the MDD has definitely become a part of the landscape. When you drive onto base, it's one of the landmarks you see, and it will leave a hole in your heart when it's gone, but this process is part of the nature of the programs we work out here. When the equipment is no longer needed, it's in the best interest of the taxpayer to not continue to maintain and upkeep unused structures," said David McBride, NASA Armstrong Center director.

Being one of only two such structures built, the MDD at NASA Armstrong is being dismantled by Pantano Demolition of Manteca, Calif., under a $178,700 contract. The firm plans to recycle as much of the steel used in the structure as possible for future reutilization.

"Even though it's a steel structure, you just can't ignore it, because even in the desert things corrode and rust. While there is funding and interest, it's better to demolish it and get it safely out of here," McBride said. "Since there's a market for reusing the scrap steel, somehow that steel will come back to life somewhere."

According to NASA's AFRC Public Affairs Office, the shuttle-specific MDD was reviewed for possible reuse for other potential project work, but no projects requiring its specialized capabilities were found. It is being dismantled and then demolished in accordance with federal regulations regarding retention or demolition of unused federal facilities.

"This really did take a team effort. Edwards AFB has always been a key partner with everything we've done here to include all the support with the entire shuttle program during its tenure," added McBride.

The 110-foot tall, gantry-like MDD structure was used for de-servicing the space shuttles after they landed at Edwards and for lifting and placing them on NASA's modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft for their ferry flights back to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Constructed in 1976 at a cost of $1.7 million, the MDD was first used in 1977 for the prototype shuttle orbiter Enterprise's approach and landing tests. It was last used for turnaround operations of the shuttle Discovery following its STS-128 mission that landed at Edwards in 2009. In total, it supported 59 shuttle landings over 32 years, five in the Approach and Landings Tests with the prototype shuttle Enterprise in 1977 and 54 orbital missions after their return from space.

Information courtesy of NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center Public Affairs Office

It didn't take BBC1 long to ruin The Great British Bake Off



Do you blame Diana or Iain, asks a poll on the Shropshire Star website. For once my favourite paper has got it wrong. As Ruby Tandoh says, the people to blame are The Great British Bake Off's editors.

The move to BBC1 was always likely to prove a challenge to a programme based on niceness. That is one quality that bright young things on their way up in the world of television have no time for. There has to be edginess. Jeopardy. People have to go on a journey.

So it was that last night's episode was edited in such a way as to produce a wholly spurious controversy. The result is that Diana has withdrawn from the programme.

Nothing is real on television - Diana's withdrawal puzzles me because I thought the episodes were recorded well in advance - but the beauty of The Great British Bake Off was that it lulled us into forgetting that for an hour.

The editors have ruined exactly what it was that people liked about the programme. On what planet was making Iain bring that bin up to the judges' table an acceptable idea?

There is only one way to save the programme. The technical challenge in next week's programme should involve baking its stupid editors in a pie.

Douglas Carswell was never a Conservative

Paul Goodman (with whom I was at university some centuries ago) writes on Conservative Home:
Douglas Carswell has never, as far as I know, been a Tory – that’s to say, a believer that authority in Britain originates from its institutions: the Monarchy, Crown in Parliament, the Church of England. For as long as I’ve known him, he has always been not exactly a Whig but certainly a radical.
But then I said much the same on Liberal England two years ago:
Large parts of the Conservative Party now model their approach on that adopted in America. Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell, for instance, two of the more thoughtful new members of the party's right, owe little to traditional British conservatism and take many of their ideas from American libertarian circles. Some of their less intellectual colleagues have merely adopted the paranoid tone of Tea Party campaigning.
To be honest, that isn't exactly what I said. Before cutting and pasting I had to correct a typo and two grammatical errors. But my argument was sound.

Justice #USA America’s Corrupt Institutions


I don't know how many of you reading this, truly understand how the US Justice System really functions? Well it functions just like Paul Craig Roberts says it does, shamelessly corrupt and about as far away from justice as is possible to be.

I am just featuring the first part of Craig Roberts article, the non-specific part, the part where to be alone charged with a felony, leads inevitably to a conviction. It is that simple. It is that frightening.


America’s Corrupt Institutions

Paul Craig Roberts
August 27, 2014

Every public institution in the United States and most private ones are corrupt.

To tell this story would be a multi-book task. Lawrence Stratton and I have written one small volume of the story. Our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, now with two editions and multiple printings, documents the corruption of law in the United States and has been cited in rulings by Federal District and Appeal Court judges.

Law is just one public institution, but it is a corner stone of society. When law goes, everything goes.

Only about 4 percent of federal felony cases go to trial. Almost all, 96 percent, are settled by negotiated plea bargains. Law & Order Conservatives condemn plea bargains for the wrong reason. They think plea bargains let criminals off easy.

In fact, plea bargains are used by prosecutors to convict the innocent along with the guilty. Plea bargains eliminate juries and time-consuming trials, that is, plea bargains eliminate all work on the part of prosecutors and police and lead to high conviction rates for prosecutors, the main indicator of their career success. Once upon a time, prosecutors pursued justice. They carefully examined police investigations and only indicted suspects whose conviction they thought could be obtained by a jury. Sloppy police work was discarded.

No more. Once indicted and provided with a lawyer, the defendant learns that his lawyer has no intention of defending him before a jury. The lawyer knows that the chances of getting even a totally innocent defendant found not guilty is slim to non-existent. Prosecutors, with the consent of judges, suborn perjury for which they are permitted to pay with money and dropped charges against real criminals, and prosecutors routinely withhold evidence favorable to the defendant. If a prosecutor detects that a defendant intends to fight, the prosecutor piles on charges until the defendant’s lawyer convinces the defendant that no jury will dismiss all of so many charges and that the one or two that the jury convicts on will bring a much longer sentence than the lawyer can negotiate. The lawyer tells the defendant that if you go to trail, you will be using up the time of prosecutors and judges, and the inconvenience that you cause them will send you away for many a year.

In some state and local courts it is still possible on occasion to get an almost fair trial if you can afford an attorney well enough connected to provide it. But even in non-federal courts the system is stacked against the defendant. Many prisons have been privatized, and privatized prisons require high incarceration rates in order to be profitable. The same holds for juvenile detention prisons. Not long ago two Pennsylvania judges were convicted for accepting payments from private detention prisons for each kid they sentenced.

Judges prefer plea bargains despite the fact that plea bargains amount to self-incrimination, because plea bargains dispense with time-consuming trials that cause backed-up and crowded court dockets. Trials also demand far more work on the part of a judge than accepting a plea bargain.

The fact of the matter is that in America today you are expected to convict yourself. Even your lawyer expects it. The torture is not physical; it is psychological. The system is severely biased against the defendant. Conviction by a jury brings a much heavier sentence than conviction by a deal that the defendant’s attorney negotiates with the prosecutor’s office. All the prosecutor wants is a conviction. Give him his conviction for his record as an effective prosecutor, and you get off lighter.

The injustice lies in the fact that the rule applies to the innocent as well as to the guilty.
The prosecutor and often the judge do not care whether you are innocent or guilty, and your lawyer knows that it does not matter to the outcome.

The police have learned that such a small number of cases go to trial that their evidence is seldom tested in court. Consequently, often police simply look for someone who might have committed the crime based on past criminal records, select someone with a record, and offer him or her up as the perpetrator of the crime. This police practice is one explanation for high recidivism rates.

In the totally corrupt American criminal justice (sic) system, anyone indicted, no matter how innocent, is almost certain to be convicted.

Let’s take the case of Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman. more



Lady Justice Wiki

Justice Wiki

Footnote: It was this very thing, the blatant injustice of the American system, that first galvanised me into my blogging "career."

Plastic ducks cause A4042 hold-ups near Abergavenny

Thanks to a reader for nominating BBC News for my Headline of the Day Award.

Steam and diesel at Shrewsbury in 1967



You can also watch a video of the former Great Western mainline from Birmingham Snow Hill to Shrewsbury in this era.

The homophobic monk of Market Harborough


Northampton has its clown: Market Harborough, it seems, has a homophobic monk.

The Leicester Mercury reports:
A man dressed in a monk’s habit has posted “vile” homophobic leaflets through doors in Leicestershire. 
Police have launched a hate crime investigation into the incident, which happened on Tuesday afternoon in part of Market Harborough. 
Several people have complained about the leaflets which claimed homosexuality was a sin, immoral, a pathological condition and the work of “the Devil”. 
It also claimed homosexuality was “directly linked to pagan idolatry and its attendant depravity” and that events such as Leicester Pride were “lewd occasions”.
The paper goes on to tell us:
The leaflets were delivered to homes in Granville Street, Bath Street, Nithsdale Avenue, Claxton Street and Northampton Road. 
One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I saw the monk in Bath Street, followed by two angry people.”

A guide to the underside of Rotherham politics



Offering "robust scrutiny of all things political in and around Rotherham," the website Rotherham Politics is indispensable reading this week.

Its archives go back to 2008.

Happy eighth birthday to Liberal Democrat Voice

Stephen Tall tells us that today is Liberal Democrat Voice's eighth birthday. Many happy returns.

Looking through my own archives, I find that I was saying nice things about it as early as 14 September 2006:
Welcome and congratulations to Liberal Democrat Voice, which already seems to be establishing itself as the place for Lib Dem discussion on the net. Natural selection operates pretty ruthlessly there, so it is obviously doing a lot right.
And that remains true today.

Food Safety for Bake Sales



Bake sales are a popular way for organizations to raise money. Who can say no to delicious homemade baked goods for a good cause? When the time for a bake sale comes around, remember to keep food safety a top priority.

 No permit is needed for a nonprofit organization bake sale for charitable, educational, or religious purposes. However, there are some rules that are in an organization’s best interest to follow.

Only sell non-potentially hazardous food items.
Non-potentially hazardous foods are considered low risk for foodborne illness. Some examples are cookies, brownies, doughnuts, muffins, scones, fudge, fruit pies, cake, bread, or candy.
Potentially hazardous foods should not be included in a bake sale. These are items that are higher risk for foodborne illness and require refrigeration. Some examples are cream filled desserts, home canned foods, whipped cream, cream cheese, pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, cheesecakes, and custard desserts. 

Protect food from contamination sources.
Food sold to the public must be protected from exposure to bacteria, virus, and other contamination sources. 
   - Always wear clean disposable gloves or use tongs or bakery paper to transfer food items.
   - Protect foods by packaging them in food grade plastic wraps, bags, foil, or paper plates.
   - Cloth napkins and paper towels are not acceptable packaging.
   - Pre-wrapping items is a great way to protect the food.
   - Bake sale items should not be self serve, unless they are allpre-wrapped. There should be no bare hand contact with any of the food items.

Make sure consumers know their risk.
Post a sign in a clearly visible place that states that food items were prepared in a kitchen that is not inspected regularly by a regulatory authority.

Bake sales are a great way to raise funds. They allow us to share a group or organization’s mission as well as homemade goodies. To ensure that your bake sale is successful, be sure to follow all food safety precautions. 

More information about bake sales and food safety is available at our website at:

Little Letters - Getting Ready For School

Here are a few detail about our new Quilt Along - Little Letters.
I will be posting 2 letters each week on Sunday
and Wednesday starting September 7.
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If you would like a kit we still have a few left.
You can order one here
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If you are going to use your own fabric you will need 
1-1/2 yards of light for the background and one small scrap
 approximately 4-1/2" x 11" for each letter.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
The following tutorials will be used throughout this project.
Snowball 
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A. Draw diagonal line on square.
B. Place square on end of strip and sew on line.
C. Trim corners off.
D. press open.
 
Half Square Triangle
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A. Draw diagonal line on wrong side of light.
B. Sew 1/4" on each side of line.
C - Cut on line and press toward dark.
D - Square units to correct size.

Beat School (1961)



We should all be grateful to Sam Holler for tweeting this video. As he says: "Everything about this 1960s alternative school is delightful and hilarious. Best clip ever."

One mystery is where the school was. The commentary on the video says Burgess Hill in Hertfordshire, but I can find no such settlement.

There is a Burgess Hill in West Sussex, of course, and also an area of Hampstead with that name. Maybe it was in one of those? - someone may recognise the building.

As Dangerous Minds says:
Like the best of the British Pathe clips, this short clip on Burgess Hill Beat School leaves you wanting to know more. What happened to the school? Did the experiment of a Beat School work? What did these children grow up to do? Where are they now? It would make for an interesting documentary on BBC 4, and one hopes a dozen researchers are penning such a proposal right now.
We may be surprised at the outcome. The painter Augustus John's children were raised among bohemian squalor, but one of his sons insisted on being sent to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth and ended up as Admiral of the Fleet Sir Caspar John.

Six of the Best 460

Viktor Orban
"Descriptions matter, I’m not saying they don’t – but when the politics of language pushes the rest aside, it seems to me that what it does most of all is remind us of our own powerlessness." David Boyle discusses the absence of big issues from today's politics.

Ian Ridley on why he still wants to see a change of Liberal Democrat leader.

"To be black and interact with the police is a scary thing. The fear doesn't have to come from any kind of historical antagonism, which, trust me, would be enough; it can also come from many data points of personal experience, collected over time. Almost all black men have these close-call-style stories, and we collect and mostly keep them to ourselves until one of us is killed." Lanre Akinsiku writes on the experience of being a young Black man in America for Gawker.

Amy Brouillette on Foreign Policy explains why Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has transformed himself from a dissident compatriot of Vaclav Havel to a would-be Vladimir Putin.

Atlas Obscura takes us on a tour of the secret libraries of London.

"On that day, almost 35,000 Allied soldiers landed at Kiska ready to overpower the Japanese. As they stormed the beaches, braced for heavy casualties, they noticed something unexpected: No one was fighting back." Ella Morton on Slate reveals the strange wartime history of an Aleutians island.

Avoid the risk from measles: Get vaccinated

In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. And yet measles cases in the country hit a 20-year high this summer. How can that be?

When health officials declared measles eliminated, it was because the disease was no longer considered native in the U.S. Thanks to vaccination, measles — which once caused 3 million to 4 million cases a year in the U.S. — isn’t continuously transmitted here anymore.

But the disease is still common in many countries around the world. Unvaccinated travelers can bring measles to the U.S. with them.

Globally, 20 million people get measles each year, and about 164,000 people die from the disease. Measles can also have lasting complications, including loss of hearing or lifelong brain damage.

Measles is caused by a virus and is very contagious. It can be spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. It’s so contagious, in fact, “that any child who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you’re unvaccinated, you can get measles from an infected person. Unvaccinated children and pregnant women are especially at risk for contracting measles.

Some families choose not to vaccinate their children while some are not able to get vaccinated against measles because of allergies or other pre-existing health conditions. By vaccinating your child, you protect not just him or her but you help protect others in your community who are unable to be vaccinated by slowing or preventing the spread of the disease to others.

Luckily, measles is easily preventable. Talk to your health provider about measles vaccination for you and your family.

The guardian of the Jordan would have got his paws wet


A couple of days ago I posted a photograph of a cat sitting on the stones at the mouth of the River Jordan.

This is a photo of the same spot after two days of rain. (It also shows the larger River Welland and the railway bridge over it.) The guardian of the Jordan would have got his paws wet if he had tried it today.

Still, I am pleased to have met the Jordan's genius loci.

Goughville-on-Sea


We are perhaps all familiar with the Batsford book jackets designed by Brian Cook in the 1930s. Brightly coloured and so evocative of an era blessed with some of the best in commercial art, they have become highly collectable. But post war, Batsford needed to rationalise, and all that bother with rubber plates and transparent inks was simply too expensive, and a whole lot of trouble for those down on the printroom floor. What was needed, particularly for the British Heritage Series, was a generic cover that would do for all the titles, so that all that had to happen was the dropping in of the title onto standard cartouches.

But just look at that illustration. Everything's here that the range of titles demanded: a town, village, church, cathedral, country house, coastline, quayside, a river and a castle. Somewhere I imagine is an 'old inn of England'. It's a cappricio of everything Batsford stood for, and doubtless some of these delightful juxtapositions rubbed off on me when I did my own town prints. The artist is Philip Gough, born in 1908 and trained in Liverpool as a theatre designer, and after producing designs for the original Toad of Toad Hall in 1929 he went on to work on some twenty five theatrical productions in London. Gough had a great love for the late eighteenth century and the Regency period, and his work is perhaps very redolent of that other great artist, sadly lost in the Second World War, Rex Whistler. So now I'm looking out for more of his work. I know he did at least five covers for individual Saturday Books, and in addition to illustrating authors such as Jane Austen he worked on several books for children. Oh dear, yet another collection appears about to start. I think there's still room in the still room. 

Dear Jane Journal

Row C and Top Row Triangles complete.
Augusts - 345 pieces
Total Pieces - 1050

Officials Expand Space-tracking Website



By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2014 – Defense Department officials announced additions to its space situational awareness program’s Space-Track.org website.

In a recent telephone interview with DoD News, Air Force Maj. Gen. David D. Thompson, U.S. Strategic Command’s director of plans and policy at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, said the release of new high-quality positional information on space debris of an unknown origin will help owner-operators better protect their satellites from these objects and ultimately create less space debris.

“We run a predictive program that shows where the objects are, where they will be in the future, and the potential for these objects to run into each other,” Thompson said.

Thompson explained that most of the debris that is considered “objects of unknown origin” resulted from launches or space collisions, but has not been definitively identified by source.

Thousands of space objects

The Joint Functional Component Command for Space at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California currently tracks more than 17,000 objects in space on a continuous basis, Thompson said. Among those objects, he said, about 1,100 are active satellites currently conducting operations.

The average person has a lot more invested in space than he or she may realize, Thompson said.

“We have more than 30 GPS satellites on orbit today providing global navigation and positioning for the world,” the general said.

With modern smart phones offering so many diverse functions, the loss of connectivity and functionality could cripple a fair amount of consumers in the United States and abroad.

“Networks that run those and the timing required to keep them all in sync is enabled through the global positioning system that every U.S. citizen and just about every advanced global citizen depends on,” Thompson said.

Yet it is the other approximately 16,000 objects -- the ones not active and/or of unknown origin in space -- that JFCC Space and Stratcom are most concerned with.

Objects present collision threat

Many objects, ranging from at least the size of the human fist to as large as the international space station, which is slightly larger than a full-sized soccer field, continue to pose a collision threat in space, Thompson said.

“There is also a high volume of debris smaller than the average fist that [JFCC Space] cannot track that are also on orbit today,” he said.

With old satellites and debris orbiting at thousands of miles per hour, the probability of a collision poses a threat to the continuing mission of operational satellites.

Exchange of space information

While some active satellites are not maneuverable, JFCC Space officials said they try to inform the owners of all satellites that they may want to take action to reduce the likelihood of collision.

“Exchanging information allows spacefaring organizations to take action to reduce the risk of a collision that could generate hundreds of thousands of pieces of additional space debris,” said Lt. Gen. John W. Raymond, JFCC Space commander. “JFCC Space shares information globally because it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure the safety of the space domain.”

An example of space cluttering occurred in 2007, Thompson said, when the Chinese conducted an anti-satellite weapons test and almost immediately created 1,500 new objects that pose a risk to satellites in orbit.

Stratcom tracks space objects

And after the collision of an inoperable spacecraft with a commercial communications satellite in 2009, Stratcom took on the role for the world in keeping track of such objects and providing that warning to others to prevent the situation from worsening, Thompson said.

“We have the assigned responsibility for planning and conducting space operations,” said Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, Stratcom’s commander.

“By sharing previously unavailable information on space objects, we’re helping nations that operate in space to do so safely and effectively,” Haney added. “It is one way we fulfill our assigned space mission for the U.S. and its allies, while also protecting capabilities important to citizens around the world.”

Yet it is a mission that extends beyond the average civilian.

Warfighters depend on satellites

Joint warfighters depend on advanced warning such as missile launch or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance from satellite systems, Thompson said.

“It’s understanding what’s there [in space], what [the object] is doing, and how it poses a threat to our military mission, to our ability to support joint forces and contribute to the global good,” the general said. “While space is a very big place, there are a lot of things up there.”

As such, for several years, JFCC Space has been responsible for monitoring, coordinating and synchronizing space operations for the Department of Defense.

“We are the single point of contact for U.S. military space operational matters,” Raymond said. “We are not, however, the only ones who operate in that environment.”

Many organizations in space

Many public, private, commercial and other governmental organizations conduct space operations.

“Space is not owned by anyone, it is used by all and we strongly support responsible and safe use of space and transparency of operations that go on in space,” Thompson said.

Reversing congestion and pollution in space, he said, is a complex task.

“We are talking decades or centuries before the environment will clean itself naturally so we have to share and act responsibly with this precious resource because it’s important to all of us,” Thompson said.

ALCOM gets Alaska Renewable Energy tour

by Alaskan Command Public Affairs

8/22/2014 - FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- Hot springs that generate geothermal energy, pellets to replace wood in fireplaces and turning garbage into an energy source were all things members of Alaskan Command learned when they visited the 9th Annual Alaska Renewable Energy Fair and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power in Fairbanks Sunday.

Air Force Lt. Col. Adrian Crowley and Air Force Maj. Jason Toole attended the site visit with Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz to learn more about renewable energy research and needs in Alaska.

"It's important for the Defense Department to look at renewables and alternative types of energy because of the amount of consumption we have," Crowley said. "We want to be good stewards of the environment, reduce our operating costs, and ensure energy resilience ... and these visits help us understand how we can do that."

The annual fair is hosted by the Chena Hot Springs Resort where the director harnessed and now uses geothermal power to operate a year round greenhouse.

"We were given a $3 million grant to study geothermal energy and bring it to Alaska," said Bernie Karl, director of the Chena Hot Springs resort. "And we've been able to do it. Working with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, we built the furthest north year-round production greenhouse in the world. When it's negative fifty degrees outside at Chena Hot Springs, we're still growing lettuce, tomatoes and other various crops in our temperature-controlled greenhouse."

Alaska is a prime laboratory for energy research, because even though the state produces oil, delivery to the far flung corners of the state is difficult and expensive.

According to the director of the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Gwen Holdmann, Alaska provides a living laboratory because energy needs can be very sudden, very dramatic and very destructive. "Here in Alaska, we are technology agnostic. We use whatever works because we have to."

Examples of that innovation by Alaskans can be found all over. In Igiugig, the population of 60 installed a hydrokinetic energy device and has the cleanest dump in the state because it has found ways to use methane and to recycle.

"Surfing is a major pastime in Yakutat, and they have found a way to harness wave energy," Holdmann said. "The 750 residents of St. Paul Island have gone 15 years using wind energy without a battery. The airport is run completely on that energy. They also use black blades to help shed ice on the turbine because the sun is attracted to it in the winter. That has significantly cut down on energy costs for them."

Kodiak Island's energy is now 100 percent renewables and Cordova's power system is totally underground.

Twelve percent of the world's microgrids reside in Alaska. There are more microgrids in the nation's 49th state than anywhere else in the world.

Energy Secretary Moniz reiterated the department's Revolution Now initiative to bring alternative and renewable fuels to the United States.

"These initiatives are important because there is substantial warming at some latitudes," he said. "In Alaska, there is real innovation going on here because there are difficult energy issues in remote villages. Renewable technology could help mitigate some of that disruption."

The defense department has an important mission to conduct homeland defense, civil support, and mission assurance in Alaska to defend and secure the United States and its interests. This responsibility requires effective and efficient sources of energy to ensure success. Renewable energy offers the DoD opportunities to diversify their energy portfolio in Alaska while also potentially providing more cost effective ways to produce energy.