Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Wednesday and 2pointfive_man looks for his Meccano set

Tilting at Windmills, old technology,
can have it's uses as
a model for new technology

Started Wednesday 29th December 2010.  Time: 600 am.

Woke up at about 5.15 am to the sound of Geese flying over the house.  The cat had also decided she wanted a bit of quality time.  She had crawled onto my chest where she proceeded to do a bit of industrial purring that convinced me I was actually awake.  Not one to turn over and ignore the world I sought out the BBC news.  I had last updated myself of the cricket about 130 am by wirelessly accessing BTBroadband on my  Blackberry.  So knew already England had retained the Ashes. Does sport give a feel good factor? I think it does.

By 550 am  I had the pre-breakfast diet of news and information.  I had listened to the BBC News channel, the Telegraph, Shanghai Daily and Hindustan Times had all been delivered to my Kindle.  A great facility within Kindle editions is the View Section List tab.  I have long been a headline and first paragraph reader.  I can usually consign a newspaper to the recycle bin in a number of minutes that are inversely proportional to the that days' news' relevance to my present egocentric world.

In amongst the stories that grabbed my attention this morning there was reason for optimism.  Ignoring all  the doom laden stories of how the weather has affected small businesses, the ski slopes are open.  The 300 direct jobs are benefiting.  More importantly as was pointed out, so do greater rural economy of petrol stations, hotels and restaurants.  As one person interviewed intimated, who  needs to get on a plane to ski in the alps, even if you could travel.  The distributive effect of wealth transfer to the highlands from the lowlands seems to be alive and well and healthy.  We just need to hope that there is not too much of a good thing and the snow gates on the A9 are closed because of wait for it .....  the wrong type of snow.  Infrastructure?  A comment from the Scottish transport minister could be imminent. 

The trade in rare earth elements has hit the headlines.  China has decided to reduce it's exports of raw materials used  amongst others in manufacturing of  IT chips.  American businesses are starting to grumble as they can see restrictions affecting their supply chain.  Rare earth elements are quite abundant but they are distributed thinly in the Earth's crust.  They have to be mined and due to the nature of their distribution a lot of rock needs to harvested to yield useable quantities.  

South Korea's business intelligence must be working more efficiently than some of American's corporations since the Telegraph (Article Challenge to China over rare minerals by Ian McKinnon) has reports that a deal has been struck with Burma to develop it's mineral reserves.  South Korea's familiarity with totalitarian regimes probably makes them more willing to become bedfellows with the Burmese.  However, I can see a potential for a new viral or tweet campaign around "conflict minerals".   Daewoo might be hit by brand avoidance for conscience sake.   Personally, if I was really switched on  I'd be looking into property round Ytterby, in Sweden where rare Earth elements were first discovered. That also assumes that there are any rare earth elements left in the ground around Ytterby.

Recycling and recovery from waste could therefore be a viable alternative.  A crop production solution for mineral recovery would be my pet preference.  We already use varieties of plants that are tolerant of toxic soils to rehabilitate old British Coal board sites.  Let the plants mine the slag heaps of Latvia that are apparently rich in rare earth oxides.   The added advantage would be the locking up of carbon.  Using the plants to produce micro-charcoal which could then be injected back into soils could yield the minerals and create a carbon sink.  Joining up the technology, how much would it cost? What would be the time frame? Would it be a good use of the artificial trading carbon trading market to make the process viable?

Back to the Blog headline.  Meccano has just replaced EastEnders (the former booze cruise destination) as the success story of Calais.  Production is being moved back from China (a reverse of globalisation, see previous blog).  Competitiveness was sited in the BBC interview.  I can recall stories two summers ago reporting the difficulties companies in the special economic zones were having recruiting workers.  Apparently the wages were not high enough to make workers economically dependent on factory work and were instead choosing to return back to their villages and a marginally less well-paid  sustainable rural life.  The report and the move by Meccano are about two years apart.  Is this the start of a flood of manufacturing jobs back to the EU.  I say EU as Meccano although an iconic British Toy Brand is actually French. 

Finally, the average British worker will now have to work two extra days apparently before they have payed off their tax liability.  

I have blogged out for now.  I will go and do something productive.  I have subscribed to the Teleworking Association as it provides a fit with other economic activities I am investigating to supplement any earnings within the dwindling Supply Teaching market.  Further looking into the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs and updating Linked-in profile should be the tasks for the day.  The time between Christmas and New Year always has the potential to be "dead days" in the UK as everybody is on holiday.

It is extremely foggy outside so a good day for the bodywork repair shops!


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