Garden makeovers – good for the Soul?

They make you buy power tools to cut away the old decking.

They encourage you to work to pay for all the new additions (tools, plants, fences…).

You get a serious workout, without a fitness coach or gym membership.

You get to do something good for the Planet (plant carbon dioxide-breathing, organic thingies).

They create a habitat for wayward butterflies and bees.

They impress your partner (momentarily) with your newly developed DIY skills (just in time abilities).

You get to practice your problem-solving skills and achieve something tangible, if not beautiful to look at.

You get out of doing boring housework like washing, cleaning and cooking.

You become just that little bit more self reliant.




Ceasefires and stalemates

When are opposites alike? Sometimes the status quo is seen as equilibrium, sometimes change is seen as equilibrium (a constant, a recurring rhythm cause by forward momentum). Some examples are the justice system in a country (regardless of whether corrupt or effective) and computer innovation respectively.

Ceasefires may happen when an equilibrium settles in (for example,  the stalemate in the Palestine/Israel conflict or in union-management relations), or when one side claims resounding victory (which in the recent Palestine/Israel conflict, both sides appeared to do). Meanwhile, extremist acts or wars start when people can’t tolerate stalemate (the status quo) any longer. The moral: when a ceasefire occurs, don’t confuse stalemate ceasefire with agreement or victory ceasefire. And don’t assume the ceasefire will last, necessarily.

Finally, given how fast technological innovation is moving, politics needs to rely on technology to a greater extent just to keep up. Some examples:

  • Regular online voter referendums (automated surveys, authentication, collation and results publishing),
  • Data-driven policy making (including peer government data bench making),
  • Border traffic counts (of legal & illegal travellers),
  • Political impact reporting and analysis,
  • More online exposure of political issues by the government to online-savvy voters.

Don’t just rely on Wikileaks, tabloid headlines, investigative journalism or the acts of extremists to influence public opinion.

Ultimately, the problems of too much politics and not enough effective leadership will turn to technology for the solutions – governance by artificial intelligence, supported by ethical and moral codes, making fast decisions with maximum information in real time…

Is our government part of the solution, or just part of the problem?

The two most pressing issues for the next UK general election – unplanned immigration and terrorism.

Without investing in effective UK border control (whatever it takes), the problem inside becomes bigger than the problem offshore.

That means stopping and searching every vehicle, plane and ship, returning refugees automatically and quickly to their home country at the UK taxpayer’s expense (everyone entering illegally is a refugee with every incentive to put up a World class case to stay), hunting down human traffickers & inbound terrorists, charging and if found guilty, jailing them both for long periods.

How to pay for all this? Change the law and seize the money owning (in cash or kind) from convicted master criminals. If the law was changed to automatically seize the estimated proceeds of crime, with no recourse by the convicted criminal, justice would fund border protection.

Stronger laws and stronger vigilance would also dampen down crime & terrorism inside the UK in the future.

What’s the alternative? Death by a thousand cuts – the flight of capital and the brain drain, as the best seek safe havens to work and raise families in elsewhere. What else? A collapsed NHS system, credit rating downgrade, riots, overcrowded schools,  ineffective housing and unviable transport solutions. And the entire fee-paying populations of the war-torn countries of the World flooding into Britain to (in time) re-create ancient animosities here…

If the politicians can’t deal with these two issues effectively and soon, there won’t be a country left worth governing.

The Road to War

It seems that very quickly, Britain has changed its approach from aiding humanitarian relief efforts in Iraq, to aiding Kurdish forces in their efforts to stop the Islamic State form acquiring Kurdish territory.  Whether or not Britain escalating that support level is wise, communicating the rationale to the British voting population as clearly as possible and as quickly as possible is certainly wise. Especially after the relatively recent (and unpopular) invasion of Iraq to seek out what turned out to be non existent weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

In my view, the article written by Sir Malcolm Rifkind in the Daily Telegraph (18 Aug 14) ‘ If we have to work with Iran to defeat the Islamic State, so be it’ usefully laid out the landscape of Arab politics very well. It also outlined, from Britain’s perspective, how choosing to work with less than ideal allies partners to defeat a common enemy is needed at times,  Britain & the US working with Russia to defeat Nazi Germany in WW2 being a good example.

Personally I don’t understand what Islamic State (IS) is actually trying to achieve. Its leaders must know what will happen when they ‘pull the tail of the tiger.’ Regardless of what I think, it’s hard to see how a small force of Sunni jihardist fighters can possibly hope to defend some recently captured desert territory, against the combined forces of Western Intelligence (with pin-sharp satellite surveillance), multi-national oil companies, the international banking system, benign Global Islam, the United Nations, NATO forces, the forces of neighbouring threatened Arab states (Shia majority ones in particular) & Israel.

That super group could if it quickly imposed its will, turn the IS caliphate into a giant Guantanamo Bay-style containment camp for jihardist fighters, surrounding them in a ring of steel, disarming them and shipping all convicted jihardist terrorists from other countries into the same internment camp.

Instead, it’s probably more likely that the super group will, as for the Al-Qaeda challenge, close ranks against a common threat & systematically dismantle IS leadership from the top down, take down its websites, try harder to close down its financiers, while rolling back IS influence and captured territory, with help from local Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq & Syrian leadership, as necessary.

The problem in nature with any ultra-violent entity is that it cannot last, because of its extreme impact. Ebola being one example, the Roman Empire (that crumbled into corrupt decadence) being another and the ‘Thousand Year Reich’ that Hitler aspired to being another.  In contrast, weeds & grass have become the most successful plants on the Planet, because at worst, they only pose nuisance value to those with the most power.

Perhaps there is a lesson from nature for aspiring leaders who don’t just want to grab power, but also rule on a sustainable basis?

Parenthood 1


If you’re a parent, try to only pay forward your hopes and your inheritance. Not your insecurities and your debts.

When a child first learns to say no, don’t despair. That’s the beginning of a lifetime of them making their own stamp on the World.

Parents spend a lifetime learning things the hard way, so they hope their kids can learn important lessons from them the fast way. Kids  try to learn  off their friends, or from online games and think they’re learning key stuff the fun way & the easy way. Real life is waiting patiently to teach them the consequences of their choices (about who they learn from)…  Then ironically as parents, they hope their own kids will learn important lessons the fast way…


Words without much value

Smart people make it a priority to develop their listening skills.

They listen for distress calls, things said in confidence, confessions, client needs, facts, opinions and competitor threats. They listen to their inner voice telling them great ideas.

And in the face of moral uncertainty, they listen to their conscience.

Smart people’s ears together give them balance, for their mouth to then speak.


Unsmart people make it a priority to talk at people.

They reassure themselves by listening to the sound of their own voice, no matter what it’s saying to the World.

Unsmart people don’t have time to find out what others already know, so bore them instead.

They can’t hear distress calls, confidences, confessions, needs, facts and opinions, or threats, over the sound of their own voice.

While unsmart people are so busy speaking, they can’t hear their inner voice, or listen to their conscience.

Unsmart people’s ego and insecurities give them imbalance, for their mouth to then speak.

High five the crazy


Does the strongest form of sanity involve a bit of creative crazy paving, once in a while?

If you can switch from a serious to fun mood, does thinking improve by switching from logic to playful just as often?

Einstein said that ‘imagination is more important than knowledge.’ Gait or Stray. Left turn and right stuff. Allow your inner Vulcan to leave the urban office for the landscapes of possibility. Harvest the time you have left, learn to discover your talent and craft your balance.

I so need to take my own advice…

Second for best

In life we all have our moments to come first.

First word and first step. First day at school. First glow of pride. First flush of frustration.

First best friend. First joke. First confidence and first betrayal.

First crush and first kiss.

First partner and first rejection. First sexual experience and first long relationship.

First job application, first place of your own, marriage or partnership, first born.

First word and first step and so it goes…


What about second?

Second is the chance to get it right. To see things with a bit more perspective. To discover your popularity isn’t just limited to one trick pony, one person alone, no matter how amazing they seemed at the time.

Second is a reprieve and a relief. Second gives you room to move up. Second for best, not second best.

Should the UK leave the EU?

Taken from the Evening Standard 5 August 2014, Gerald Lyons, Mayor’s Office advisor and economist, stated that’ the time frame over which business looks ahead can only be a few years… in that business model, there is bias towards the status quo, or avoiding unnecessary uncertainty.’  Mr Lyons also quoted from the new ‘Europe Report’, published in Aug 2014 with an analysis looking 20 years ahead and prepared with the help of Volterra economic consultancy. The report stated:

The current size of the London economy is £350B per yr, about a quarter of that in the UK.

1 The Report concludes that the best outlook for the UK and London over the next 20 years would be in a reformed EU. In that scenario, London’s economy could grow to £640B per yr, omitting inflation, so is real growth. This could generate 1M extra jobs in London to 2034.          

sleicest comment: The probability of the UK exerting enough influence to achieve a substantially reformed EU is likely to be low, so the probability of this likely benefit value is therefore low. Nick Clegg favours the UK staying in the UK and David Cameron to date favours being seen to ‘go through the motions’ to look like is working to achieve this goal. German & French leaders will likely counter UK influence to achieve reform, if it means any loss in their relative power, or financial cost to their countries ie them having to pay the restructuring cost to help weaker members reform.


2 If UK remained in an unreformed EU, London might only see 200,000 more jobs created to 2034.

sleicest comment: Labour’s default plan? If so, hardly a vote winner.


3 If the UK left the EU, maintained good relations with the EU and adopted outward-looking policies, the London economy would grow to £615B and see 900,000 jobs created by 2034.

sleicest comment: Challenging to achieve over the next 20 years, but with reasonable planning and execution, its probably fairly high, so much of the benefit then becomes realised. Likely to be Boris’s plan, if became Tory leader and PM.


4 Worst scenario is where UK leaves the EU and does so on bad terms with our European neighbours, and does not produce a growth-focused policy. The London economy would only grow to £430B by 2034 and shed about 1.2M jobs.

sleicest comment: The UK abruptly leaving  the EU (UKIP’s proposed approach) would achieve this, as EU members likely close ranks to penalise the UK and set an example to deter other EU nations doing similar.

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