Wednesday 5 July 2023

Inventions and Disinventions 11

Keep Calm and Carry On
, also:


Take a door wedge on holiday to put under the legs of wobbly café tables.  (@elsie_em)

Drop the onshore wind farm ban.
Grow tea in the Scottish Highlands.
Harvest nurdles from beaches and reuse.

Grow pumpkins.
Tax aviation fuel, says Mark Miodownik.
Teach philosophy in schools.
Set up a Single Person’s union.

Install drain nets to stop plastic reaching the sea.
Invent a ship that hoovers up plastic waste.
Make Anne Reid a Dame.

TV programme: The Choir Inspector
Subject religions to equality laws.
Ban inappropriate fancy dress.

Ban dancing en pointe.
Ban carpets in pubs.
Build park-less flats for non-drivers.

Ban facial tattoos.
Introduce queueing in pubs, with numbered tickets.
Limit the size of cruise ships.

Build storm drains in desert areas that collect water from flash floods and melting snow and pipe it somewhere it’s needed. (Wasn't Col. Gaddafi working on a scheme?)

Melt down "copper" coins and make them into something useful.
Use electric cargo bikes: they're 90% less polluting. 

End mowing of road verges to create huge wildlife habitat, says UK study (Guardian)Number job applicants, to disguise gender and “foreign” names. (Being done, needs to spread.)

Consult women before making decisions that affect them, like mixed hospital wards, mixed toilets, mixed changing rooms...

Enable land line phones to send and receive text messages (they'll probably disappear before this happens).

Provide transgender people with separate prison units, hospital wards, changing rooms and toilets. (A domestic violence refuge is on the cards.)

Rewild grouse moors:
if you want to eat grouse you can farm them.
Turn highline park walks back into elevated railways, restore all Els and build more.

Let American workers sit instead of making them stand unnecessarily.
Ban super-strength alcohol and improve obesity, domestic violence and public disorder. 

Leave leaves to fertilise the ground and provide cover for mammals and insects. Scrap all leaf blowers.
Adopt a countrywide standard system of colour-coding bin bags

Supply milk in frozen cubes. (Via Twitter. You could always freeze it yourself in an ice tray.)
Manufacture all-in-one duvets – integral cover, wash the whole thing.

An outdoor composting toilet is the latest middle-class must-have! (They don't sound all that convenient.)

In clothes shops, abolish separate areas for men and women. If the shops won't provide single-sex changing rooms, why are they still segregating the clothes?

Keep those blunt dressmaking shears – use them to cut frozen pizzas or bread slices so they fit in the oven/toaster. 

Institute Aunts’ Day, Spinsters' Pride, Water Day (Apparently the success and prominence of days, weeks and months depend on sponsorship and the selling of merch.)

Repurpose shopping centres, department stores and high streets. Must we sit here and watch them rot or be demolished?

Let women inherit titles formerly passed down the male line. (We’d get more sensible people in the House of Lords.)

Allow girls at schools with mixed toilets to "leave the room" in groups in the middle of class. Or else they could organise shifts: girls 10-10.30, boys 10.30-11 etc. You could install CCTV, and panic buttons. Parents could sponsor Davlavs in the playground. But it would be so much simpler to go back to single-sex toilets.

Make scientific papers more accessible. Writers should give a condensed version on youtube. Writers of popular science books should use a personal version of Twitter (or get me to edit).

Provide showers and lockers in workplaces for the increasing numbers who cycle to work.
Repeal the 1824 Vagrancy Act that criminalises begging and rough sleeping.

Reuse and retrofit buildings instead of knocking them down and building new ones – reduces pollution.

Make drivers pay a carbon tax from which non-drivers are exempt. 
Ban alcohol on planes. Shut bars at airports – or make them stick to normal licensing hours. 

Mine landfill for plastic, gold, rare earth minerals.
3D print lost buildings (Glasgow Art School, St Peter’s Seminary)

Employ moderators for comment sections and social media. And give moderators training, a qualification and a professional association.

Set up a Court of Law for Ideas. Before proceedings start, the judge rules that reality exists, and that anyone using the epistemology defence will automatically lose their case.

Set up a government body overseeing materials supplied to schools, also speakers. It seems anybody can provide educational materials to brainwash children into a point of view or misinform them about biology. Ofsted has produced a report on propaganda July 2021 – watch this space.

Dampen forests before they catch fire
. Turn the hose on the trees around your house. And keep the area free of fallen branches and leaves.

Single-use plastics, what CAN we do?
Bring back drinking-water taps in every public loo.

Persuade organists to follow the congregation, not the other way round – and turn down the volume.

Make museum displays disabled-friendly: everything at wheelchair height, brighter lighting, objects on turntables, with a mirror to shaw the reverse.


I'd build identical apartments – one for each MP and Lord, assigned at the beginning of "term". Randomly.  I'd make them a bit of a step up from a Travelodge, maybe with on-site restaurants, etc. A proper Westminster village. If they want more luxury, they can pay for it themselves. (@BonehouseWasps)

And bedrooms for those MPs who want to stay overnight. No more claiming expenses for a second home. (@GillUpNorth)

And remove all bars from Parliament buildings and forbid alcohol on the premises.

The government plans to issue guidelines on working from home safely: Find a suitable area, with a suitable table, and invest in an adjustable office chair with arms. (And learn to touchtype.)

Firms are considering “spokes and hub” offices post-pandemic, with offices in suburbs and a head office in town. 

Study suggests most firms could continue with staff working a four-day week (Headline, Jan 5 2021)

As people stay at home, there’s less gum on pavements.

“We anticipate never going back to five days a week in the office. That seems very old-fashioned now,” says boss of Unilever.

Covid led to huge London property exodus, says Hamptons (Guardian hed Dec 2020) 
Better connectivity to allow more people to work from home (Penny Mordaunt)

The Centre for Cities suggests moving public sector staff into offices in disused shops. FE colleges, swimming pools, sports halls, libraries, yoga studios, care homes nurseries and health centres should return to the heart of towns. (Janice Turner, Times 2020-12-06)

The chairman of NatWest has said the number of people working in central London will never return to pre-pandemic levels as employees will not return to the office five days a week. Howard Davies told Bloomberg that “the days when 2,500 people walked in through our office door at Bishopsgate at 8.30am and then walked out again at 6pm, I think that is gone”. Several other British banks have already begun cutting office space in the capital. Week July 2021

It’d be pretty cool if we had a centralised UCAS like system for apprentices, then regional Oxbridge-type colleges for apprentices where you could live and socialise and take other courses in languages, philosophy, maths, etc (@danwaterfield)

Protein from gorse bushes could feed millions of people, says expert. (Guardian 2022-01-11)

In Australia, orange farmers are donating orange peel to sheep farmers. The sheep will eat it, and the mice won’t.

Perforated lasagne sheets you can break tidily to adapt to the width of your dish are overdue for invention. (@LucyHunterB)

Farming deer, reindeer and elk is one of the fastest-growing industries in rural America. But farmers must pay for expensive inspections and eight-foot fences. And the animals are raised as stock for private game reserves, not food. (via

Just your regular reminder that most cities in North America have so much surface parking and underdeveloped land that they could double their available housing without demolishing a single building — and could potentially do it in years, not decades. (@AlexSteffen)

New job, old goats. Melissa Jeuken is the new goat herder of Howth Head, Co Dublin. She is managing a herd of Old Irish Goats in a groundbreaking conservation grazing project to reduce gorse cover in an area plagued by wildfires. (@philipbromwell)

The way meat is harvested en masse is unethical and contributes to Global Warming. Instead of farms for Sheep Cows Pigs etc there should be large parks where the animals roam free. During the months of January and July anyone would be able to hunt up to the animals. (@Addy20943225)

Increasingly, if it could be done by machine, it would be, and with the Internet providing global real-time communications, if it could be done remotely cheaper elsewhere, it would be. China is running out of peasants on the farm to become industrial workers. The prevailing trend for a long time in the world economy has been the progressive replacement of labour by capital. There are still decent paying jobs: I suggest people look at skilled trades, like auto mechanic, electrician, or plumber. It can't get outsourced. The issue there is status. It's manual labour and therefore Blue Collar. (DM, via Facebook. He adds that people get degrees to increase their status.)

Southwark council has unveiled a new Streets For People strategy. Some really interesting ideas – they want to:

Make all pavements 2.4m min. or 4m in town centres
Plant 20,000 trees
Put a place to rest (e.g. a bench) every 100m on all streets 

(Those wide pavements will need pavement cleaners armed with brooms and soapy water.)

Any pedestrianised shopping area should provide: free mobility scooters, wheelchairs, Uber trikes, rickshaws, horsedrawn fiacres, and a fairground watercourse with coracles or gondolas.


One day we'll blown down huge tower blocks in cities that block the view of the Eiffel Tower.

First class on trains. (Abolishing first class was suggested for some packed commuter routes in the south, said the Telegraph in 2017: “First class compartments will disappear from crowded commuter trains", the Transport Secretary has pledged, as he said passengers should no longer be “segregated”.)

According to George Monbiot, European countries are restricting cattle and sheep farming to preserve the environment.

Hive mind, I am composing a list of unethical technological oversolutions. Coffee pods, creating massive amounts of plastic waste by oversolving coffee prep, are a perfect example. (@raynayler. Someone adds “Campbell’s Soup sippy cup”.)

Abseiling landscapers have recently replaced the entirely dead planted façades of the Atlas building in Old Street. You'd have thought they would have learned by now. (@russellcurtis. If you want green walls, why not just plant some ivy or Virginia creeper?) 

During Vatican II, Bishop Garcia Martinez urged the Catholic Church to move on from the veneration of dubious relics: "reverenter sepeliantur et deinceps nulla mentio fiat". "Let them be reverently buried and then let them not be mentioned." (@Robin_C_Douglas. In 2023 Pope Francis said that maybe not all visions of the Virgin Mary are the real thing.)

About to lecture in a modern, purpose-built education room without a light switch. The lights are on a sensor. So when we're in the room the lights are permanently on with no option to reduce numbers of bulbs, dim or turn them off. Honestly, who designs this crap? (@jpwarchaeology. See also toilets where the light goes out and you have to wave your arms about to turn it on again.)


80s ski-wear in custard, turquoise, pink and purple. Likewise mountaineering gear and backpacks in jade and pink. (Though apparently it makes hikers visible to friends and rescue parties.)

The combination of a van, a motorhome and a boat – perfect for motorists who like to go out into the open waters. Just 21 examples of the Boaterhome were built in the 1980s. (@aut0mob)

More here, and links to the rest.

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