So, What Would You Do?

I have a Mazda 626 7 seater wagon 1990, It blew a gear box (Auto) 2 months ago, I put another one it, it blew last week and I got another one (free). It needs new exhaust, and the list goes on.
I need to lose it!

I would like;
– Another 7 or 8 seater.
– A diesel (obviously so I can make my own)
– One that fits under my 1900mm garage.
– I don’t have to have a 4wd.
– I don’t have to have a van.
– I have $15000 max

Any clues?

I hate cars!

Food Wars Are Here!!

I know it’s a long article, but I thought it interesting. I was listening to two people in their 60’s joking yesterday about the global warming ‘crisis’ and how it was just a gimick to make us spend money. That the thought of us ever ‘running out of food’ or needing to move homes due to rising flood waters or running out of oil was ‘unthinkable’.
Anyway, food wars are not around the corner, they are here folks…

NYT January 19, 2008
THE FOOD CHAIN
A New, Global Oil Quandary: Costly Fuel Means Costly Calories

By KEITH BRADSHER
KUANTAN, Malaysia — Rising prices for cooking oil are forcing residents of Asia’s largest slum, in Mumbai, India, to ration every drop. Bakeries in the United States are fretting over higher shortening costs. And here in Malaysia, brand-new factories built to convert vegetable oil into diesel sit idle, their owners unable to afford the raw material.

This is the other oil shock. From India to Indiana, shortages and soaring prices for palm oil, soybean oil and many other types of vegetable oils are the latest, most striking example of a developing global problem: costly food.

The food price index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, based on export prices for 60 internationally traded foodstuffs, climbed 37 percent last year. That was on top of a 14 percent increase in 2006, and the trend has accelerated this winter.

In some poor countries, desperation is taking hold. Just in the last week, protests have erupted in Pakistan over wheat shortages, and in Indonesia over soybean shortages. Egypt has banned rice exports to keep food at home, and China has put price controls on cooking oil, grain, meat, milk and eggs.

According to the F.A.O., food riots have erupted in recent months in Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

“The urban poor, the rural landless and small and marginal farmers stand to lose,” said He Changchui, the agency’s chief representative for Asia and the Pacific.

A startling change is unfolding in the world’s food markets. Soaring fuel prices have altered the equation for growing food and transporting it across the globe. Huge demand for biofuels has created tension between using land to produce fuel and using it for food.

A growing middle class in the developing world is demanding more protein, from pork and hamburgers to chicken and ice cream. And all this is happening even as global climate change may be starting to make it harder to grow food in some of the places best equipped to do so, like Australia.

In the last few years, world demand for crops and meat has been rising sharply. It remains an open question how and when the supply will catch up. For the foreseeable future, that probably means higher prices at the grocery store and fatter paychecks for farmers of major crops like corn, wheat and soybeans.

There may be worse inflation to come. Food experts say steep increases in commodity prices have not fully made their way to street stalls in the developing world or supermarkets in the West.

Governments in many poor countries have tried to respond by stepping up food subsidies, imposing or tightening price controls, restricting exports and cutting food import duties.

These temporary measures are already breaking down. Across Southeast Asia, for example, families have been hoarding palm oil. Smugglers have been bidding up prices as they move the oil from more subsidized markets, like Malaysia’s, to less subsidized markets, like Singapore’s.

No category of food prices has risen as quickly this winter as so-called edible oils — with sometimes tragic results. When a Carrefour store in Chongqing, China, announced a limited-time cooking oil promotion in November, a stampede of would-be buyers left 3 people dead and 31 injured.

Cooking oil may seem a trifling expense in the West. But in the developing world, cooking oil is an important source of calories and represents one of the biggest cash outlays for poor families, which grow much of their own food but have to buy oil in which to cook it.

Few crops illustrate the emerging problems in the global food chain as well as palm oil, a vital commodity in much of the world and particularly Asia. From jungles and street markets in Southeast Asia to food companies in the United States and biodiesel factories in Europe, soaring prices for the oil are drawing environmentalists, energy companies, consumers, indigenous peoples and governments into acrimonious disputes.

The oil palm is a stout-trunked tree with a spray of frilly fronds at the top that make it look like an enormous sea anemone. The trees, with their distinctive, star-like patterns of leaves, cover an eighth of the entire land area of Malaysia and even greater acreage in nearby Indonesia.

An Efficient Producer

The palm is a highly efficient producer of vegetable oil, squeezed from the tree’s thick bunches of plum-size bright red fruit. An acre of oil palms yields as much oil as eight acres of soybeans, the main rival for oil palms; rapeseed, used to make canola oil, is a distant third. Among major crops, only sugar cane comes close to rivaling oil palms in calories of human food per acre.

Palm oil prices have jumped nearly 70 percent in the last year because supply has grown slowly while demand has soared.

Farmers and plantation companies are responding to the higher prices, clearing hundreds of thousands of acres of tropical forest to replant with rows of oil palms. But an oil palm takes eight years to reach full production. A drought last year in Indonesia and flooding in Peninsular Malaysia helped constrain supply. Worldwide palm oil output climbed just 2.7 percent last year, to 42.1 million tons.

At the same time, palm oil demand is growing steeply for a variety of reasons around the globe. They include shifting decisions among farmers about what to plant, rising consumer demand in China and India for edible oils, and Western subsidies for biofuel production.

American farmers have been planting more corn and less soy because demand for corn-based ethanol has pushed up corn prices. American soybean acreage plunged 19 percent last year, producing a drop in soybean oil output and inventories.

Chinese farmers also cut back soybean acreage last year, as urban sprawl covered prime farmland and the Chinese government provided more incentives for grain.

Yet people in China are also consuming more oils. China not only was the world’s biggest palm oil importer last year, holding steady at 5.2 million tons in the first 11 months of the year, but it also doubled its soybean oil imports to 2.9 million tons, forcing buyers elsewhere to switch to palm oil.

Concerns about nutrition used to hurt palm oil sales, but they are now starting to help. The oil was long regarded in the West as unhealthy, but it has become an attractive option to replace the chemically altered fats known as trans fats, which have lately come to be seen as the least healthy of all fats.

New York City banned trans fats in frying at food service establishments last summer and will ban them in bakery goods this summer. Across the country, manufacturers are trying to replace trans fats. American palm oil imports nearly doubled in the first 11 months of last year, rising by 200,000 tons.

“Four years ago, when this whole no-trans issue started, we processed no palm here,” said Mark Weyland, a United States product manager for Loders Croklaan, a Dutch company that supplies palm oil. “Now it’s our biggest seller.”

Last year, conversion of palm oil into fuel was a fast-growing source of demand, but in recent weeks, rising prices have thrown that business into turmoil.

Here on Malaysia’s eastern shore, a series of 45-foot-high green and gray storage tanks connect to a labyrinth of yellow and silver pipes. The gleaming new refinery has the capacity to turn 116,000 tons a year of palm oil into 110,000 tons of a fuel called biodiesel, as well as valuable byproducts like glycerin. Mission Biofuels, an Australian company, finished the refinery last month and is working on an even larger factory next door at the base of a jungle hillside.

But prices have spiked so much that the company cannot cover all its costs and has idled the finished refinery while looking for a new strategy, such as asking a biodiesel buyer to pay a price linked to palm oil costs, and someday switching from palm oil to jatropha, a roadside weed.

“We took a view that palm oil prices were already high; we didn’t think they could go even higher, and then they did,” said Nathan Mahalingam, the company’s managing director.

Growth in Biofuels

Biofuels accounted for almost half the increase in worldwide demand for vegetable oils last year, and represented 7 percent of total consumption of the oils, according to Oil World, a forecasting service in Hamburg, Germany.

The growth of biodiesel, which can be mixed with regular diesel, has been controversial, not only because it competes with food uses of oil but also because of environmental concerns. European conservation groups have been warning that tropical forests are being leveled to make way for oil palm plantations, destroying habitat for orangutans and Sumatran rhinoceroses while also releasing greenhouse gases.

The European Union has moved to restrict imports of palm oil grown in unsustainable ways. The measure has incensed the Malaysian palm oil industry, which had plunged into biofuel production in part to satisfy European demand.

Another controversy involves the treatment of indigenous peoples whose lands have been seized by oil plantations. This has been a particular issue on Borneo.

Anne B. Lasimbang, executive director of the Pacos Trust in the Malaysian state of Sabah in northern Borneo, said that while some indigenous people had benefited from selling palm oil that they grow themselves, many had lost ancestral lands with little to show for it, including lands that used to provide habitats for endangered orangutans.

“Finally, some of the pressures internationally have trickled down. Some of the companies are more open to dialogue; they want to talk to communities,” said Ms. Lasimbang, a member of the Dusun indigenous group. “On our side, we are still suspicious.”

Demand Outstrips Supply

As the multiple conflicts and economic pressures associated with palm oil play out in the global economy, the bottom line seems to be that the world wants more of the oil than it can get.

Even in Malaysia, the center of the global palm oil industry for half a century, spot shortages have cropped up. Recently, as wholesale prices soared, cooking oil refiners complained of inadequate subsidies and cut back production of household oil, sold at low, regulated prices.

Street vendors in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, complain that they cannot find enough cooking oil to prepare roti canai, the flatbread that is the national snack. “It’s very difficult; it’s hard to find,” said one vendor who gave only his first name, Palani, after admitting that he was secretly buying cooking oil intended for households instead of paying the much higher price for commercial use.

Many of the hardest-hit victims of rising food prices are in the vast slums that surround cities in poorer Asian nations. The Kawle family in Mumbai’s sprawling Dharavi slum, a household of nine with just one member working as a laborer for $60 a month, is coping with recent price increases for palm oil.

The family has responded by eating fish once a week instead of twice, seldom cooking vegetables and cutting its monthly rice consumption. Next to go will be the weekly smidgen of lamb.

“If the prices go up again,” said Janaron Kawle, the family patriarch, “we’ll cut the mutton to twice a month and use less oil.”

Contributing reporting were Andrew Martin in New York, Anand Giridharadas in Kale, India, and Michael Rubenstein in Mumbai.

On The Theme of Not Buyig Anything…

There is a new movie out called “What Would Jesus Buy?”
Here is a clip of a promotion for the movie as they protest in Starbucks one day..

“Would Jesus buy a $4 latte if the people who raised the coffee only made 40 cents of that $4?”

These and other questions are raised by Rev. Billy during a protest at SXSW 2007 in Austin TX.
The Movie here

Buy Nothing Day

Join us in becoming a counter cultural revolutionary!


It’s a bit like fasting!

Last year The Age reported this –

IF YESTERDAY was a typical day for the state’s retailers, Victorians spent almost $22 million on household goods. Roughly $11 million went through department stores’ cash registers and $9.6 million was splurged on clothing and soft goods.

But as the retail industry gears up for another peak season of Christmas trade, anti-consumer group Culture Jammers was yesterday calling on people to spend a day spending nothing. All in the name of international Buy Nothing Day.

It was a tough ask, according to Australian Retailers Association executive director David Edwards.

“It’s the absolute peak time for spending in Australia and it’s very much part of our culture … we are trending to be a more materialistic society than a less materialistic society,” he said.

Despite this, Culture Jammers organiser Paul Johanson was out in Bourke Street yesterday promoting the cause, which he says is more about selling ideas than products.

With a pair of scissors hanging from a lanyard around his neck, Mr Johanson offered to cut up the credit cards of the hundreds of lunchtime shoppers. more here

Buy nothing on the 24th Novemeber

Middo Challenges us on Fair Trade

I was reading Middo’s World today and was challenged by his questions on purchasing stuff Fair Trade, not just coffee but everything. A link from his comments sent me to this article…

Cheap, chic clothing is costing us the earth

By Susie O’Brien

October 23, 2007 08:19am

Article from: Herald Sun

IT’S time to examine our clothes in a new light and look at how cheap fashion could be costing us the earth.

Green is the New Black, a new book by British style guru Tamsin Blanchard, challenges us to shop ethically by becoming aware of the social and environmental implications of what we buy.

But if you’re like me and more eco-worrier than eco-warrior, don’t panic.

The book is aimed at those who are more partial to Havaianas than hemp and who don’t want to spend their spare time knitting purses out of recycled onion bags.

As model Lily Cole puts it in the introduction, we may make an effort to ride bikes and buy organic apples, but rarely consider something as simple as inexpensive socks.

Sure, she goes on to explain, we may love the idea of the $4.99 cotton sock, but the bargain price makes it easy to overlook the fact that the cotton may have been picked by underpaid children in Uzbekistan and sewn together in Bangladesh by workers getting paid 11 cents an hour for an 80-hour week.

And why does everyone get away with it?

It’s because shoppers in the Western world don’t want to pay more than $5 for socks. Cole’s words came to haunt me this week as I found myself in the footwear aisle of Target. <more>

Mobile Phone Plan

How many people out there have an old mobile phone in a cupboard somewhere?
It still works, but you just upgraded at some point and tucked the old one away in a drawer somewhere with the charger and cover etc.
In fact I know some of you have 2 or 3 tucked away in that drawer! Old big Nokia’s and Sony’s – you are too conscious about the environment to throw them into some land fill and a bit too lazy to work out what to do with it to dispose of it any other way than chucking it in the bin.

Now I can help you!

Just tell me if you have one…

OR

Tell me if you need one.

Then I will put the two of you in contact with one another and one person gets more space in his/her drawer and one gets a phone.

Either email me, or just pop your email here as a comment and tell me if you are looking for a phone or looking to give one/some away.

Eat Humble Pie…APPLE Pie

Some time ago I blogged about my obsessions to ‘get new stuff’. In fact I often rant about all that. But remember I was all ape about my new Apple Mac? (and here. )Waiting every day for it to arrive and in the middle of it all my new hiking shoes arrived from the states?

Well…
The shoes were too tight…
And the Mac has spent more time in the repair shop than on my lap!

Here is the email I sent to Steve Jobs…yes, I found his email address 🙂

Dear Mr Jobs
I bought a sweet new Macbook 2 months ago I am a great lover of all things Mac!!

It remains to this day in the repair shop, and I remain frustrated!

The story –
From day one it was having difficulty connecting to my wireless network, thinking it was my modem I bought a new Netgear wireless modem.
No change
Called Apple help line twice and we spent an hour on the phone. At one stage we reset all the settings in the DHCP area only to watch them disappear before my eyes!

Generally speaking this is the go –
After ‘sleep’ and ‘restart’ I am sometimes asked “Your normal network is not available, do you wish to connect to ‘sc*****r‘” (which happens to be my normal network)
Sometimes there are no networks available in the drop down list, and sometimes all but mine are available.

Sometimes I would be in the middle of a session on the net and it would get slower and slower and disconnect.

AIRPORT CARD GETS REPLACED AS IDENTIFIED ISSUE BY APPLE PERTH

The first time I open my MB after the repair the error msg appears.
I narrow this issue down to one consistency;
From startup or restart – no network connecting…then if I put it to sleep and wake it up it connects straight away to my network – every time.

MACHINE BACK TO APPLE SHOP

Whilst in repair shop I illustrate by doing a restart, but it freezes on restart as though I put it to sleep and can only be started with a hard reset by the assistant. (happened in battery and power mode)
You sure have some real issues with this computer” said the assistant. I left it with him again!

10 DAYS LATER

I am rung and told it is finally fixed, it was a third party software issue, so they said.

The moment I turned it on at home the same error msg appeared, no problem I figure as it is adjusting to being moved from the Apple wireless to my house. I do a restart and the machine jams in sleep mode refusing to start backup without a hard reset.
Finally it starts and connects.
I try shutdowns, restarts and sleeps and everything works, again and again and again for 2 hours.

THE I LEFT IT FOR 30 MINUTES SLEEPING

Upon reopening the screen I discovered not only a wireless error but the icon up the top for my wireless had gone altogether!!
No wireless.

I packed it all up into it’s box and took it back in. I demanded a new computer, I just want to do some work!! This has been a VERY unproductive month or more.
But I am told that only one bit of hardware has been replaced (Airport card) and I have to have faults on 4 bits of hardware and have them all replaced before I see a new machine…by that time I have hardly got the machine I paid for 2 months ago! I have a bits and pieces machine.

This is not good enough!

Please someone out there get me a new MacBook!!!!! This is a LEMON!

Scott

Within 12 hours I get a call from Australia Mac head office saying that they had recieved a directive from their international office that I had tried to contact the boss and that Sydney needed to follow me up with VIP care – NOT a new laptop though.

Today they are replacing another piece of hardware as it seems that the 3rd party software theory was not the issue.

In fact the problem was occurring before I loaded any extras onto it.
But I now have someone’s attention in head office so who knows if that will make any difference!

Shoes are still too tight 🙂
And I still love Apple Macs!

Guess What I Did Today??


Well I had to go to Youth For Christ office in Welshpool, so what suburb is next to Welshpool? Yes…Kewdale and what lives in Kewdale? Yes – TNT delivery centre, and what lives at the TNT delivery centre? Yes! My Mac, so here I am happy as a Mac user with my new Mac strapped to the back of the Wasp!

Consumerism…

One day I will do a post on all the contradictions and hypocrisies in my life. In fact I wrote some of them down in a cafe the other day with Hamo.
I speak so loudly against the EVILS of nasty consumerism, yet spend endless words on my blog about new toys I am getting.
Aghh life!

But all is well now, guess what just arrived in a courier van!!!???

NO not a new laptop…

My new hiking shoes from the USA!

Should satisfy my consumer urge at least until I can get more stuff on Friday when the next courier arrives..

more stuff..

I did a talk down at the kids school today on poor people in Cambodia…aghhh the tension I live with inside my own self 🙂

What’s a Wii?