Sep 232007

You’re poor? Service providers care little about your disperse populations? Then anticipate the future and make it your own. The EU average is one computer per eight school students. Extremadura manages one computer per two school students. How has it managed to leapfrog the most technologically-advanced areas in the Western World? By saving itself €20 million in licencing fees.

An eight-minute documentary in English, from the Euronews channel via YouTube, on how one of Europe’s poorest areas has engineered both a software and a socio-cultural revolution.

This video is really, truly, worth your time.

Sep 202007

Summer was fine. I spent it in Salamanca. You should be able to see a slideshow of Salamanca on this blog, but unfortunately, for some reason, it seems to have stopped working.

Shame, really. The real thing is, however, worth the visit.

Aug 052007

I’ve updated so you can now see a gallery of photos I took of Salamanca last year. Salamanca is a beautiful city – full of people and places. It’s a hidden pearl. A little over a hundred kilometres from the Portuguese border, it’s well worth a visit if you get the chance.

I lived in Salamanca for a number of years and would love the opportunity to live there again one day. Perhaps not all year round – my roots in Chester are now too strong. But Easter, the summer and Christmas are wonderful times of the year to find oneself in this brightly blue-skyed friend of a city.

Aug 042007

Heatwaves in Europe have doubled in length since 1880, according to a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres. This report from the BBC:

“After looking at the records more closely, we believe… heat waves have been underestimated by about 30% over the entire Western European region,” Dr Della-Marta told the BBC News website.

“We see a doubling of the length of heatwaves and we also see a tripling in the frequency of one-off events.”

The results support the idea that the western European climate in summer is becoming more variable – that the range of temperatures had increased. “That means we’re getting stronger heatwaves or perhaps summers that are not so strong in terms of heat,” Dr Della-Marta explained, “this is a major cause for concern.”

The heatwave experienced by Europe in 2003 had major adverse socio-economic and environmental effects.

Thousands of elderly people died. Forests were devastated by fire, water ecosystems were strained, and the total mass of Alpine glaciers shrank by 10%.

The authors say we can expect extreme weather events like this to occur more frequently in future.

Jul 282007

Whilst I’ve been sort of ignoring my blogging duties here (not exactly ignoring – I have been missing them), I’ve been helping to set up a new website for the Chester Constituency Labour Party here in the North West of England. You can now find this site at

I’ve helped with online ventures before – most intensely, with the “website” and “es” projects of some years ago. But setting up a political website for a party is a different matter – which isn’t to say that politics doesn’t come in to any website, behind the scenes.

A political website, though – that is to say, a website for a political party – must square many public as well as private circles. It must appeal to its own membership as well as the wider constituency of voters. It must defend as well as attract.

Not attack exactly, but punctualise surely – and frequently. That is what politics is about – engaging in a long-running conversation with an adversary.

A lot of work has already been done on this website – good people volunteering their free time for the good of the wider Party and for all the people of Chester. The real work, however, is only just beginning. As someone said to me recently, a website is ten per cent creation, ninety per cent promotion. I really haven’t learnt this lesson here at – or rather, I haven’t had the time to apply it.

So let’s make the time.

Jul 012007

A wide-ranging background feature from the Times today on the transition at Number 10 Downing Street. It tells of how Blair’s family slept on old mattresses on the floor and ate takeaways during their last night at the residence.

Would this happen to an ex-Prime Minister in other countries?

As the article points out, politics – certainly in Britain – is a brutal business.

All this, with the current terrorist threat as a backdrop.