Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Amazing space-efficient design

It's not what you don't have, it's what you do with what you do have.

A Hong Kong architect has made the most of his tiny apartment with a revolutionary "Domestic Transformer" system. Gary Chang can reconfigure the 344 square foot space in 24 different ways, using sliding walls and panels.

Watch this:

Also available on YouTube here.

(If it's design with a political flavour you were after, there's always Ikea's tongue-in-cheek range of kitchens: BrĂ¼n, Kamerun and Kleggi.)

Monday, 26 April 2010

The voters wear the trousers - yes, even the women

Following the Leaders' Debates and the explosion in Nick Clegg's popularity, the right-wing press have tried ever more desperately to discredit the Lib Dem leader.

Innuendoes about financial dishonesty and Nazi slurs haven't worked, so it's time to revive a tactic from a few weeks back.

Since the start of the General Election campaign, the press have had their Leaders' Wives voodoo dolls out, taking particularly desperate stabs at Sarah Brown and Miriam Gonzalez Durantez. And by association, at all women who balance their lives with those of their families.

Last night the theme hit a new low, with the Daily Mail's Jan Moir yanking our chain again:

War of the wives: Guess who wears the trousers in Casa Clegg! in which Moir tries to emasculate Nick Clegg, even citing his wife's accident over the weekend, when she fell and fractured her elbow.

"Yet pro-wrestling observers suggest that Mrs Clegg's injury looks far more like it was sustained during the execution of a classic elbow smash; seemingly a routine response in the Clegg household when Nick doesn't empty the dishwasher quickly enough."

Moir goes on to say

"it has become bruisingly clear to the electorate during this campaign exactly who wears the trousers and dictates policy at Casa Clegg. Clue; not him."

Last night the Daily Mail also damned Miriam Gonzalez Durantez for shopping at Rigby and Peller, while giving the store a glowing write-up elsewhere on its site.

So it's ok to berate Miriam for earning her own money, and for going down the shops to spend it? For having a faith that her husband doesn't share? To extrapolate from her conduct that she beats her husband?

Make no mistake, when so-called "journalists" attack a woman for being independent, or even for having crooked toes, they're projecting their own diminishing influence over readers, over voters.

Women (and I am one of them) don't approach politics like this, and don't need a steer from the Daily Mail on which party is fit to govern based on the private life of its leader's wife.

The people are the kingmakers, or to take the metaphor further: we wear the trousers.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Electioneering meets orienteering

I'm a keen user of Twitter, and from time to time I include my location in my Tweets.

During the General Election campaign I've been doing this by geotagging them, or through the facility on Ubertwitter, which is the Twitter app I use on my BlackBerry. Sometimes I tweet photos via my Flickr or Twitpic accounts, which gives clues about my location, either from the map (on Flickr) or from the scene in the photo.

I've even dabbled a little in Foursquare - though it's the informative rather than the competitive aspect of this that appeals to me.

For me, the breakthrough as a candidate using location-based tweeting came yesterday - I tweeted:
Meeting voters in Romford Market. http://myloc.me/6m4Ti

with a link to this map:

Meanwhile a Romford resident sat at home, looking up the constituency's candidates for the General Election. Discovering that I was on Twitter, she "followed" me (subscribed to my tweets). Then, seeing that I was in the local market square, ten minutes from her home, she came straight out to find me!

I was delighted when she introduced herself and we had a quick chat about the election and the area. I hope we stay in touch.

For my own amusement (and as a reminder) I've been keeping a Google Map of the places I've been campaigning in the run-up to the General Election, with photos, videos and audio clips.

As with anything online, it's never a replacement for campaigning on the streets and doorsteps, but as my surprise meeting yesterday shows, the virtual soapbox can complement the physical one.

Curiously, I saw another tweet yesterday about one of the other candidates, which said,

"He needs more presence on Twitter, talking with the people. Not merely being present outside Romford station is enough anymore."

Friday, 2 April 2010

Pedestrian crossing of the day: a cross between a zebra and a pelican

The first Panda crossing opened outside Waterloo station on 2 April 1962.

And it had everything: Painted black and white triangles on the road, like a backgammon board; red and amber signals on a Belisha beacon-style pole; steady pulsating lights; other lights that flashed with increasing speed; the words "cross" and "stop" rather than the now-familiar read and green men.

Pedestrians were mesmerised.

From the BBC:

1962: New pedestrian crossings cause chaos
A new style of pedestrian crossing has caused confusion among both drivers and pedestrians following its launch in London.
The first Panda crossing was officially opened today in York Road, opposite Waterloo Station in London by the Minister of Transport, Mr Ernest Marples.

He described the crossings, which are being experimented for a year in 45 selected sites across the country, as "a new idea in pedestrian safety".

But an elderly lady, one of the first to use the new crossing, said:

She said: "That man Marples is up to too many tricks. It's a hairbrained scheme and most dangerous."

Indeed, so baffled were the public that these pandas became extinct in 1967.

See Panda crossings in action in these smashing little BBC videos:

The first Panda crossing opens in Waterloo.

Cardiff's first Panda. (Love the line "Initially the police pressed the button for the public. And of course later, the public are doing it under police supervision.")

Experience the Panda for yourself, with Chris Marshall's demonstration.

Havering Councillor quits BNP for being "a bunch of racists"

From the Romford Recorder:

A councillor has vowed to stand independently at the next election after walking away from the British National Party for being "a bunch of racists".

Cllr Mark Logan, who has represented Gooshays ward since winning a by-election in March 2008, said he would be "severing all links with the party and the political group of misfits" because he didn't agree with "the calibre of some people" being put forward as candidates for the forthcoming election.

He said: "There's been some really nasty rhetoric directed at coloured people."

While it's obvious to most people that the British National Party is racist, it is newsworthy that Councillor Logan has himself realised this and resigned from the party.

It's a start, but I hope Councillor Logan will think again about the term "coloured" and really look at people more than skin deep.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

LDVideo: April (paywall) Fool

In case you missed Lib Dem Voice's April 1st joke:

Also available on YouTube here.

We told readers this morning: