We've hit peak home furnishings, says Ikea boss | Business. The appetite of western consumers for home furnishings has reached its peak – according to Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer. The Swedish company’s head of sustainability told a Guardian conference that consumption of many familiar goods was at its limit. “If we look on a global basis, in the west we have probably hit peak stuff.
We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff … peak home furnishings,” Steve Howard said at a Guardian Sustainable Business debate. Howard’s comment looks like an example of a “Ratner moment”, named after Gerald Ratner’s description of goods at his jewellery stores as “crap” in 1991. But Howard said his comments did not contradict Ikea’s target of almost doubling sales by 2020, and that changes in consumption were an opportunity for companies to rethink the way they did business.
“We will be increasingly building a circular Ikea where you can repair and recycle products,” Howard said. Never mind pointless apps – our best minds should be solving real problems | Helen Lewis. It all started with the snacks. A few months ago I lied to myself that eating “omega booster seeds” or tiny squares of carrot cake was in some way a substitute for nipping out to get a packet of Fruit Gums from the corner shop, and signed up to get “nibbles” delivered directly to my desk. Of course, that was just a gateway drug. Now there are days when my desk resembles a bustling village post office in the run-up to Christmas. And once you’ve been identified as sitting at the correct intersection of laziness and disposable income, you get a terrifying insight into quite how many things people want to send to your desk.
A shirt in a box for when you’ve spilled your morning latte, or slept in a hedge. Even Uber is at it. The nadir came when I got a flyer advertising a monthly “pink parcel” I could have delivered to my desk. Its decision to refer to its workers as “ninjas” makes the website FAQs feel totally surreal. That’s where the state comes in. 20 of the Sneakiest Secret Doors (list) Hidden Doors and Secret Passageways are always a cool amenity to any house. Not only does provide mystery to your living quarters, but it also allows for a bit of privacy. Hidden doors and secret passageways seem to be a popular room addition since there are numerous companies on the web who specialize in such requests, like The Hidden Door Company, Creative Home Engineering and Hide A Door. Of course, you can easily get the typical hidden door in a bookcase, but we’ve found some pretty interesting ones below!
20. Mirror Secret Door This one is crazy! 19. Just because it looks like a dead end doesn’t always mean there’s nothing behind it… 18. This is the best place to keep that stack of cash or gold bars you don’t want the Uncle Sam to get their hands on! 17. This is one of the most famous hidden doors in history (at least to us). 16. 15. A hidden room under a set of stairs is definitely an unusual idea. 14. 13. This is seriously something out of the game Clue! 12. 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. The Sins of Greenwashing: Home and Family Edition. Meet the ecomodernists: ignorant of history and paradoxically old-fashioned | Environment.
Beware of simple solutions to complex problems. That is a crucial lesson from history; a lesson that intelligent people in every age keep failing to learn. On Thursday, a group of people who call themselves Ecomodernists launch their manifesto in the UK. The media loves them, not least because some of what they say chimes with dominant political and economic narratives. So you will doubtless be hearing a lot about them. Their treatises are worth reading. In some important respects they are either right or at least wrong in an interesting way. In other respects … well, I will come to that in a moment. With the help of science, technology and development, they maintain, human impacts on the natural world can be decoupled from economic activity.
There seems to be some evidence that such transitions could be taking place. I don’t dismiss the possibility that this represents a real transition. And even if it is correct, can the living world weather this trajectory? So far, so interesting. I’m paying my staff a real living wage – not George Osborne’s version | Martin Whitlock. Running a service station is more complex than it looks. At Parkfoot Garage, at West Malling in Kent (of which I am a director) we employ more than 30 staff at a business that never closes.
The heart of the operation is no longer the self-service petrol pumps, nor even the automated car washes, but a large shop that combines off-licence, butcher (employing four), florist, baker, hot food counter, general grocer, newsagent and tobacconist. Keeping all this going 24 hours a day requires commitment and flexibility. The company needs staff who will stay, learn their trade and adopt its service-led values. The company has been paying the living wage for several years, and our motivation is twofold. The second reason is more subtle but arguably more significant, in the broader picture. The living wage provides a framework for answering this question. The problem was this.
The living wage is not set at this level because it is capped at 2% above average pay rises. Life imitating Up: 120 balloons, one man and a garden chair take to the skies. For centuries, man has explored new ways to fly. On Sunday, Danny Boria, of Calgary, Canada, came up with a precise and domestically available answer: 120 party balloons, each 6ft in circumference, filled with helium and tied to a garden chair. “It was the funniest aircraft we could make,” he says. He flew freely for 20 to 30 minutes. Is it really so easy to fly? Sticking with the domestic theme, could you send even a shed or summerhouse into the sky? “If you’ve got sufficient helium, you can lift anything,” says Kevin Garry, professor of experimental aerodynamics at Cranfield University.
That’s what Boria did. Some have suggested Danny Deckchair was Boria’s inspiration, a film in which Rhys Ifans floats off to find true love. Initially, Boria planned to jump out of an aeroplane, with an All Clean Natural logo on his parachute. In addition to balloons bursting, there was one further flight hazard. The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick. Richard Sennett - Home. Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us | Paul Verhaeghe. We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces.
But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you’re reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.
There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. It’s important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. Productivity: 7 things to stop doing.
Stunning Images Reveal Massive Mining Operations Destroy Far More Than They Produce. Operational from 1871 - 1914, the Kimberly Mine is longer than four football fields, and almost four times deeper than Lake Erie. Despite its massive size, the Kimberly Mine only produced 14.5 million carats of diamonds--enough stones to fill just three small buckets. This diamond mine opened in 1870 and just closed earlier this year (2014). At one point, it was home to 1,200 individual diamond claims. Unfortunately, Koffiefontein was not profitable at all by the end of the 19th century.
Operational from 1871 to 1969, the Jagersfontein Mine is known for producing two of the biggest diamonds ever discovered, the Excelsior and the Reitz (now called the Jubilee). At closing, Jagersfontein had only produced 9.52 million carats--represented by the tiny bucket above. This was the first commercial copper mine of South Africa, opened in 1852. This mine was operational from 1862 to the early 1970s. This ball represents the 302,791.65 tonnes of copper extracted from the mine from 1882 to 2000.
Green House Post Growth Project. Everyone agrees that we are in the midst of a massive financial and economic crisis. We have suffered the biggest ‘crash’ since the 30s, and it may get far bigger yet. How ought this ongoing crisis to be understood, and resolved? On the mainstream view: We have vast government deficits, and stagnant economies. We have a dire need for economic growth – and a deep-set need for austerity, bringing with it massive cuts in public services. But what if that diagnosis, which reflects mainstream wisdom, is all wrong? The aim of the Green House Post-Growth project is to challenge the common-sense that assumes that it is ‘bad news’ when the economy doesn’t grow and to anatomise what it is about the structure of our economic system that means growth must always be prioritised.
In December 2012 we formally launched the Project with a Panel debate with the Green European Foundation called Beyond Growth and De-growth. We will be publishing a series of reports throughout the coming year. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. Scott Adams, the famous creator of Dilbert, has made a very good living by understanding and revealing human psychology. In How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Adams shares “the strategy he has used since he was a teen to invite failure in, embrace it, then pick its pocket.” Among the unlikely truths he offers, you’ll discover that goals are for losers, passion is bullshit, and mediocre skills can make you valuable. This is a story of one person’s unlikely success within the context of scores of embarrassing failures.
Was my eventual success primarily a result of talent, luck, hard work, or an accidental just-right balance of each? All I know for sure is that I pursued a conscious strategy of managing my opportunities in a way that would make it easier for luck to find me. Similar to the 10 things I took away from reading The Everything Store, here are 10 things I took away ‘from the Adams book.’ 1. Mark McGuinness writes the same thing in Manage Your Day-to-Day. 2. 3. 4. 5. Chris Hadfield on Life, the Universe and What’s Really Out There. Could These 3 Simple Changes to Banking Fix the Economy? The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities | Cities. “I always said you should never trust a bank with property, or a property developer with money,” says Peter Rees.
The former chief planner of the City of London should know about such things, having presided over the results of both. Over the last 30 years, he has ushered in a menagerie of their monuments, from the Gherkin and Cheesegrater to the Walkie-Talkie and Heron Tower, during which time he has seen a significant shift in the balance of power. “When I arrived in the job in the 1980s, the big banks were in control of London,” he says. “But now it’s the big house-builders. We’ve gone from being ruled by Barclay’s bank to being controlled by Berkeley homes.” Left unchecked, the banks went off the rails in spectacular fashion, as they sprayed money into the great mortgage mirage. Developers have bounced back from the crash with bigger plans than ever before, acquiring vast areas of land with the ambition to operate like the great estates of yore.
How You Climb A Mountain Is More Important Than Reaching The Top. Shopping guide to buying CDs, from Ethical Consumer. Are you buying from a tax haven? Company profiles Product guide to MP3 retailers Product guide to streaming music This is our latest guide to shopping without using Amazon, looking this time at companies that sell music CDs as well as music in newer digital formats such as downloadable MP3 files and online music streaming services.
This diversity of platforms reflects how our listening habits are changing and, at the same time, shaping both cyberspace and the high street. We discovered, by making purchases online, how many other online music businesses are now routing sales through tax havens in a similar manner to Amazon. The growth of digital listening With such dramatic changes to music buying habits, it’s difficult to get a handle on the current state of play, and sales figures differ wildly. According to market analysis from Mintel, between 2007 and 2011 the value of digital music sales rose from £100m to £400m per year. The other options Where to find your local independent record shop. Wind farms have the power to change communities and political allegiances | Environment. Beef farmer Stuart May looked across the Cornish valley where – if an energy company gets its way – 11 wind turbines will soon soar skywards, and shook his head.
"We don't need them and we don't want them," said May. "Cornwall has already done much more than its fair share when it comes to renewable energy. We're absolutely pickled in solar panels and windfarms. They're dotted around everywhere. "I'm not against green energy but there are better ways of doing it than plonking these monsters here. The scheme – called the Big Field Wind Farm – has divided the community.
But it is more than just a local issue. The Big Field Wind Farm is the sort of scheme that will be the subject of fierce political debate in the months to come. The plans for the Big Field Wind Farm, which would be sited in a large bowl of farmland between five villages a few miles from the coast of north Cornwall, are likely to reach councillors in Truro in June. The PR campaign by Good Energy is sophisticated. Pete Seeger: five great performances. Barbara Allen There are hundreds of versions of the venerable folk song Barbara Allen. The song is indestructible and there are many fine renderings, but none can match Seeger's. Listen to the quivering, quavering voice. He becomes the lovelorn, dying William and the haughty Barbara who comes to see the error of her ways and in the end yearns only to be alongside her William. Seeger inhabits a song; this is the folk equivalent of lieder singing.
The young Bob Dylan – a wonderful singer of traditional folk songs in the early 1960s – could not have existed without Seeger. And that's why Seeger objected to Dylan going electric. Where Have All the Flowers Gone? The most famous of the many great songs written by Seeger. Michael Row the Boat Ashore Politics, religion, suffering, the land: American folk music draws on many sources. The Bells of Rhymney An incredible song, an incredible performance. This Land Is Your Land. Pete Seeger: the road goes on for ever. You didn't have to listen to Pete Seeger's music to feel his effect on the popular music of the last 70 years. It was his influence that set the moral compass of many great singers and songwriters, ensuring that even in the times when the music industry threatened to be washed away by the tide of its own most bloated, celebrity-worshipping, money-grubbing excess, the voice of a social conscience could still be heard. Along with Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly, he brought the music of the dirt farms, the sweat shops and the lonesome highways into America's – and later the world's – living room.
By refusing to allow traditional forms of musical expression to die, by "sowing the music of the people", as he put it, he ensured its availability for infusion into later developments, serving to keep a sense of moral purpose alive even when that seemingly fragile element appeared to have been asphyxiated. Where did the story begin? Pete Seeger at the House Un-American Activites committee in 1952. Pete Seeger: the man who brought politics to music. Pete Seeger: folk activist who believed music could make a difference. Ethical shopping guide to booksellers. NHS: Section 75 of the health act is an engine for destruction | Kailash Chand.
The NHS is being taken over by Wall Street. And Cameron won’t stop it | Len McCluskey. The One-Word Answer to Why Bill Gates and Warren Buffett Have Been So Successful. Charlie Brooker's Screen burn: Man v Food | Television & radio. Adventurers halve record for sailing around Britain in a dinghy | Sport. Economy on the edge: seeking a world that works for the 100% | Guardian Sustainable Business.
Britain's five richest families worth more than poorest 20% | Business. The truth is out: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it | David Graeber. Economic Stagpression: Two Charts The Entire World Must See. Robert Reich: 'Austerity is a terrible mistake' | Mary O'Hara | Society. Philippa Perry on How to Stay Sane. Sick of hearing politicians say the global financial crisis was Labour's fault? | Alex Andreou.
NASA-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'? | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment. Britain's five richest families worth more than poorest 20% | Business. A New Dynamic: effective business in a circular economy. Architecture Is Elementary - Visual Thinking Through Architectural Concepts by Nathan B. Winters - Reviews, Description & more - ISBN#9780879051860. "I Don't Want Health Insurance; I Don't Need Health Insurance"
An open letter from Carl Bernstein to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger | Media. Uh-oh, there’s a new Thomas Friedman! The Techtopus: How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages. Owen Paterson: the minister for GM hype | Zac Goldsmith. Now that you know 85 people own more than half the world, here's what to do about it. Basketball: is there a formula for success? | News. An Englishman’s Home is His Cash Cow. What Does Borgen Do? | WHAT WOULD BORGEN DO? President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Address (1961) Student-built homes idle in down market. The genetically modified food debate: Where do we begin? Will the Battersea Power Station revamp ruin the brick beast? | Art and design. Articles - Gardens of Democracy. 25 Killer Websites that Make You Cleverer.
Craft. Richard Sennett - Sociology Books. Richard Sennett - Recorded Lectures & Talks. We can't wash our hands of climate change. So let's roll up our sleeves | Tim Farron. George Carlin: how does our economic system work? Interactive: Snake Oil Supplements? The scientific evidence for health supplements. Ethical Consumer: the alternative consumer organisation. Full Fact | Promoting accuracy in public debate.