Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Biofuel: Capital's Newest Best & Safest Bolthole...?

Per my previous post, instead of sitting and pontificating around midnight I should have been reading this by Mark Lynas and Ian McWhirter from a recent New Statesman. In summary, though, it remains the case that We Are All To Blame. Or maybe I'm just acting like one whom Norman Mailer labelled 'Desperate Ambrose': the perennial ineffectual moaner, at whom the corporate fat-cats laugh with high scorn, safe in the certainty that if there is such a thing as karma in this world then they will yet be favoured by that process, i.e. such was their evil energy in this life that they will be reborn, as evil men... For these and other such thoughts read Mailer's and Mailer Jr's The Big Empty. (Re. the genealogy of 'Desperate Ambrose', I'm not sure if Mailer re-defined some pop-cultural reference entirely for his own purpose. For another take see Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift. Any excuse, after all...)

Monday, 28 April 2008

China hungry for meat, the US crazy for fuel

A report in today's Telegraph tells us there is an OFT investigation afoot into possible price fixing by UK supermarkets and some of their major top-brand suppliers (of products such as PG Tips, Andrex, and Warburton's bread, all used and endorsed round my gaff.) Along the way the report notes more generally that "prices in supermarkets have risen by 5.5 per cent since last April, according to official government data... a 500g packet of dried spaghetti has increased by 51 per cent. The price of butter has risen by more than 50 per cent." As a student in the early 1990s I often subsisted on buttered pasta, and students are generally poorer today - massively in debt, like the rest of us - so you do the math, as they say... but the price of food is evidently becoming a problem for the majority in the UK, especially those 'hard-working families' who did so much to install the current government. The crisis - as usual these days - is bigger and wider and worse than we think, but most people have fingered red meat and biofuel as major culprits, the debate usefully summaried by the Independent here. And what action am I taking personally to address the malaise? Tending the moths in my wallet, as usual, and not drinking take-out coffee anymore. (Astounding rip-off. 'Fair trade' my eye.) As in the case of my cousin whose annual New Year Resolution was to give up bobsleighing and ballet-dancing, I'm sure the benefits of my rigour will be striking. (BTW, the photo - by Tim Ellis on Flickr - is of course a figurine of the old PG Tips monkey, before the brand went 'trendy', presumably so as to raise the price.)