Sunday, June 20, 2010

Robert Mugabe's Facebook group.

Old Erith Library

The photo above shows the old Erith Library, a building donated to the local community by the millionaire businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (of Carnegie Hall fame). The building is now sadly underused, as the library has moved into a new building opposite Erith Health Centre. It has mutated into "Library Plus" - which basically means far less books, no librarians to help and advise you, and no ventilation or air conditioning. The new place lacks character and is basically a concrete and glass  box, which compares very badly to the classic old building. I have no idea what prompted the move, but it definitely seems to be a step in the wrong direction.

After a couple of years of discreet negotiations, the Radio Caroline ship the Ross Revenge is going to find a new permanent home in Gravesend. Not many people know that for a while there were fairly advanced plans to moor the ship on the pier behind Morrison's at Erith. I was involved with the application process, which actually went as far as a formal planning permission request and discussions with the Port of London Authority and Bexley Council. Unfortunately there were some legal issues with the application, and a couple of objections from residents in the sheltered housing scheme on the river front, and the plan had to be shelved. A real disappointment, as I was to have been the key holder and caretaker of the Ross Revenge when she was not in use. At least she will be accessible to the public when she is moored in Gravesend; currently she is located in a private dock in the Port of Tilbury, which is not open to the public. You can read more about the relocation of the ship to Gravesend by clicking here. A photo of the original Erith Pier planning application can be seen below:

Ross Revenge planning application

Following my recent posting on the possible health effects of using mobile phones for extended periods, the city of San Francisco in the USA is debating the introduction of a law forcing phone manufacturers and retailers to state the transmit power output of each phone on the packaging and advertising material, in a similar way as is now done with nutritional information on food purchased from supermarkets. You can read more about this initiative here.

My sources inform me that Erith bar Potion is on its' last warning from the council in respect of both anti social behaviour and drug dealing from some of its' customers, and from its' continual flouting of the planning regulations after the owners destroyed the historical pub frontage. You can see a recent posting about the problems here. The bar is located in a preservation area where the buildings have listed status. If they do not clean up their act in terms of banning the coke head chavs that use the place as their lair and restore the building to its' former glory, they will lose their licence to trade and be forcibly closed down. Coincidentally I have also discovered that the Ship in West Street has been recently raided by both Bexley CID and the Drugs Squad. All the customers in the pub at the time of the raid were strip searched, and a quantity of both cocaine and other substances were recovered. Arrests were made and the pub has had its' licence suspended for 28 days. I understand that the landlord was not implicated in the drug dealing that had been going on in the pub, but that any actions he had taken to eliminate the criminal fraternity had been ineffective.

All of us who use computers create a problem we rarely consider. How do we dispose of them? This is no small concern. Estimates put the number of personal computers in use world-wide today at about one billion. The average lifespan of a personal computer is only two to five years. We can expect a tidal wave of computers ready for disposal shortly, and this number will only increase. And as if that isn't challenge enough, there are already several hundred million computers out-of-service, sitting in attics and basements and garages, awaiting disposal. Better use of existing computers also conserves natural resources.  Making a single new computer requires a half ton of fossil fuels, one and a half tons of water, and 25 kilos of chemicals. That's why your laptop is the most expensive electronic item per cubic centimetre in your house. Most older machines have now unsupported versions of Windows on them; they are slow, unreliable and unable to run the latest plugins like Adobe Flash, vital for websites like YouTube. Even old PII and PIII computers can run speedily and reliably when the operating system is changed for a Linux installation. Linux is free to download and use, there are tens of thousands of high quality applications available completely for free, and nowadays most users would likely not even realise they were using a desktop operating system not supplied by Microsoft. On new PC's even hardware giant Dell support Linux - as you can see from this page. Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Mint and Fedora all offer accessible, stable, secure desktop environments which work far better on old, refurbished hardware than any current version of Windows does. A ten year old desktop PC will still be able to surf the web, write Emails, prepare office documents, spreadsheets and presentations. It will play audio and video media, edit photos and videos, and play online games using Linux. No need to throw away the PC just because it is old and Windows no longer works properly. If you have an old machine that falls into this category, drop me a line and if you wish, I will upgrade it to Linux for you, completely free of charge. You will gain a computer with a new and faster lease of life, and also be doing your bit to save the environment too, as most old computer hardware still ends up as landfill, rather than being responsibly recycled. A small diagram below illustrates the process:

The BBC have now released a version of the Doctor Who video game for the Apple Mac. A Windows version of the game was released last month. Both are free to download if you are in the UK; I understand that they will be made available outside the UK as a paid download from Apple iTunes in the near future. Below you can view a short documentary showing how the game was put together.

In case you were wondering where the title of this weeks' update comes from - I have to admit I brazenly nicked it from Alan. We were in the garden of the Victoria last night, slowly freezing our extremities in the chill June air, when he remarked how Ian had slowly transformed from a liberal into someone who would probably qualify to be a member of Robert Mugabe's Facebook group. I thought this witticism was amusing if only partially accurate, as I don't think Mugabe is actually on Facebook. I know I am not; as previously mentioned, they have complete control over any information you place on the site, and willingly sell it to all and sundry. Say goodbye to any vestige of privacy if you post anything personal online to Facebook.

I see that Bexley Council have taken a wise and well considered decision to block the planning application for a hideous block of flats to replace the fine Victorian villa located at 106 Bexley Road, Erith. The current building is an excellent example of local craftsmanship that offers some dignity and architectural class in the area. The proposed block of 17 flats was just a cynical money making endeavour. You can read more about it here.

After last weeks' highlight of Kort Propulsion, I have decided to feature a local company each week for the next while. After covering recycling computer hardware earlier in this update, I thought that I should continue the theme with the business feature (who says that I don't plan this?) This week it is the turn of wincingly pun named paper recycling organisation Pulp Friction, who have their UK headquarters in the industrial estate on Manor Road. Their lorries can be seen plying the highways of London and the South East as they gather paper and cardboard for recycling and re - use. You can view their company website here.

The main video clip this week is from a young chap of fifteen who looks like he could be an engineer with a very promising future. He has designed and constructed a working replica AK-47 assault rifle entirely out of Lego - it even shoots Lego "bullets"! Please feel free to leave comments below - as you may know, your feedback may take up to 24 hours to appear on the site, due to the fact I have to manually moderate comments due to the malicious actions of spammers, who post adverts posing as genuine followers of the Maggot Sandwich.


  1. Dear 'Arthur',
    not Erith related - but given your past comments on the 'tasteful' practice of Tattoing I thought you might be amused/horrified at this snippet from the 'Mirror'

  2. Delightful. NOT! How lacking in taste and decorum is the woman in the story?

    Thanks for your comment; Sorry it took a few hours to get it through moderation.

  3. Hugh, I would like to speak to you on a Caroline related issue. Would you email me?