It’s always easier to get forgiveness than permission


Click to enlargeKurt Kohlstedt

“Dear Bridge Farm School,” the letter reads. “Thanks for your letter and naming a house after me. Please have a picture, and if you don’t like it, feel free to add stuff. I’m sure the teachers won’t mind. Remember, it’s always easier to get forgiveness than permission. Much love, Banksy.”

RTFA, click the link above.

Thanks, Honeyman – your new wheels? Keep the shiny side up, the rubber side down! 🙂

Prototype “pee power” toilet gets test in University

A prototype toilet has been launched on a UK university campus to prove that urine can generate electricity, and show its potential for helping to light cubicles in international refugee camps.

Students and staff at the Bristol-based University of the West of England are being asked to use the working urinal to feed microbial fuel cell (MFC) stacks that generate electricity to power indoor lighting.

The project is the result of a partnership between researchers at the university and Oxfam, who hope the technology can be developed by aid agencies on a larger scale to bring light to refugee camp toilets in disaster zones…

The technology uses microbes which feed on urine for their own growth and maintenance…The urinal – conveniently located near the Student Union bar – resembles toilets used in refugee camps to make the trial as realistic as possible. The equipment that converts the urine into power sits underneath the urinal and can be viewed through a clear screen…

An estimated 6.4 trillion litres of urine is produced by humans across the globe every year, so researchers believe it has great potential as a cheap and readily available source of energy. Ieropoulos said the unit installed at the university would cost around £600 to set up.

There is a seemingly endless number of sources of so-called waste our culture of capitalist profit, first and foremost – ignores.

How do you run a bus on poop?

The UK’s first bus powered entirely by human and food waste has gone into service between Bristol and Bath…The 40-seat “Bio-Bus” runs on biomethane gas generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste.

The eco-friendly vehicle can travel up to 300km (186 miles) on one tank of gas, which takes the annual waste of about five people to produce.

It is run by tour operator Bath Bus Company and will shuttle people between Bristol Airport and Bath city centre.

The biomethane gas is generated at Bristol sewage treatment works in Avonmouth, which is run by GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water.

GENeco general manager Mohammed Saddiq said: “Gas-powered vehicles have an important role to play in improving air quality in UK cities but the Bio-Bus goes further than that and is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself…”

Har! Hold that thought.

Bath Bus Company’s Collin Field, said: “With so much attention being directed towards improving air quality generally, the public reaction to the appearance of this bus on a service between a world heritage city and an airport will further focus on the potential for this particular fuel…”

Bristol sewage treatment works processes around 75 million cubic metres of sewage waste and 35,000 tonnes of food waste each year.

A total of 17 million cubic metres of biomethane, enough to power 8,300 homes, is generated annually at the plant through a process known as anaerobic digestion.

Yes, it gives me the idea to harass the pols in town – in Santa Fe. The city was the first in the United States to institute buses running on compressed natural gas. Seems to me the easy bit would be conversion to bio-gas. OTOH, the city’s wastewater and sewage treatment facility seems incredibly inefficient. Might be an occasion for doing something bright with the process?

Yum, the newest flavor treat glows in the dark!

Late last month, as a definitely unique way of celebrating Hallowe’en, Bristol-based specialty ice cream-maker Charlie Harry Francis unveiled what is probably the world’s first-ever glow-in-the-dark ice cream. His secret ingredient? Jellyfish protein.

The ice cream had actually been in the works for several months, ever since Francis and his team discovered that “this amazing scientist from China” had synthesized the luminescence protein from jellyfish.They ordered some, and made ice cream with it.

The protein is reportedly activated by the calcium in the ice cream, and it luminesces when agitated – this means that it glows when you lick it. Francis has tried it, and while there’s no word on the flavor, he has stated that he doesn’t seem to be glowing anywhere, so he assumes it’s safe to eat.

What it isn’t, however, is cheap. Due to the cost of the synthetic protein, he figures that each scoop of the ice cream is worth about £140. Although he hasn’t stated whether or not he plans on making it commercially, it’s probably safe to assume that this is a one-off experiment.

Mail me a penny postcard when the price – even for a trick-or-treat special – gets down to something close to affordable. I look forward to giving it a try.

Shot with stun gun by coppers – man turns into human fireball


Andrew Pimlott

A man has died after being shot with a police Taser while dowsed in flammable liquid…Andrew Pimlott, 32, turned into a human fireball after he was zapped by officers called to his home to investigate a domestic incident.

They found Andrew in the back garden covered in liquid and holding a can of fluid…An officer deployed the Taser and Andrew immediately burst into flames…

Andrew suffered serious burns and was rushed to hospital after the incident in Honicknowle, Plymouth, last Thursday.

Police initially said his injuries were not life-threatening…But the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed today that Andrew died from his injuries in Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, on Tuesday…

IPCC Commissioner Sarah Green said…“Our investigation will be looking at what information was known to the officers attending the scene, the officer’s rationale for discharging a Taser on a person known to be dowsed in flammable liquid, whether the discharge of the Taser caused the fuel to ignite, and we will look at training and policies.”

How do you get to be ignorant of the explosion or fire danger coincident to firing a Taser at a flammable liquid?

Bristol’s Banksy draws the Queen as Ziggy Stardust


Click photo for closer look

Street artist Banksy is believed to have stencilled a picture of the Queen as Ziggy Stardust to honour the Diamond Jubilee.

The graffiti expert is believed to be behind the painting, which shows the crown-wearing monarch sporting a jagged red stripe, just like the 1970s David Bowie creation. Her Majesty’s startling image – which sprang up as the country celebrated her 60 years on the throne – appeared on a wall previously used by Banksy…

A piece of street art purporting to be from the graffiti artist appeared on a London street in May. The picture, which shows a young boy of Asian origin hunched over a sewing machine, uses Union Jack bunting as an apparent nod to uniquely British celebrations.

So far, it has been interpreted variously as a comment on the upcoming Olympic celebrations, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and even the riots of last summer…

Created in Banksy’s conspicuous black-and-white style, the picture shows the little boy kneeling on the pavement and frowning in concentration while he works…

Banksy, who began showcasing his work in Bristol, is known for his satirical and subversive graffiti with underlying social commentary…

An artist of some controversy, his works have been much debated by councils and members of the public, in order to decide whether it should be removed as graffiti or left in situ as art.

I’m of two minds about graffiti – though not about Banksy. Most graffiti sucks and is useless vandalism from ego-smitten, no-talent scrawlers.

I have always supported the sub-group [like Banksy] which reflects public muralists as much as anything else. There’s a singificant different in intent, quality and talent.

Pee-Power tests at UWE proves potential fuel cell option

Research into producing electricity from urine has been carried out by scientists at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol.

It is claimed the publication of a research paper into the viability of urine as a fuel for Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) is a world first. They say tests have produced small amounts of energy, but more research could produce “useful” levels of power.

Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos said he was “excited by the potential of the work”.

MFCs contain the same kind of bacteria that is found in soil, the human gut or waste water from sewers.

The bacteria anaerobically (without oxygen) respire just like any other living organism, and this process gives off electrons. Those electrons are then passed through an electrode and a measure of electricity is generated…

“Through this study… we were able to show that by miniaturisation and multiplication of the number of MFCs into a stack and regulating the flow of urine, it may be possible to look at scales of use that have the potential to produce useful levels of power, for example in a domestic or small village setting.”

Terrific. First, it’s always useful to add another potential waste source to the mix of electrical generation. Second, I’d love to see what might be developed either as a domestic source of electricity or a small village setting.

We live in a core community of about 110 homes. An ideal size for small-scale energy production.

Man hid body in apartment for 10 years

A body lay undiscovered under a sofa in a sheltered flat in Bristol for nearly 10 years, an inquest has heard.

The dead man, Denis Pring, 73, had been living with a city council tenant Alan Derrick, who has learning difficulties.

The inquest heard Mr Derrick did not want to tell the authorities that Mr Pring had died because he was worried he would be evicted…

Mr Pring, a former warehouseman, is believed to have died at some point between April and June 1998…

Mr Derrick, the dead man’s friend and drinking partner, had invited him to stay there because he had nowhere else to go. But when he died suddenly, Mr Derrick panicked and worried that he might be evicted.

He covered up the body with cushions and two armchairs and carried on living in the flat in Bedminster, Bristol, for the next 10 years without reporting the death.

Neighbours complained to the council about foul smells from the flat but although council officers visited twice the body was never found.

Mr Pring’s skeleton was discovered in January 2008 when cleaners were brought in after Mr Derrick was evicted from the flat following a county court order…

The council’s deputy chief executive, Jon House, acknowledged a “more active intervention nine or 10 years ago”, and a ” healthier dose of common sense”, might have led to Mr Pring’s body being found earlier.

Aside from the dude probably being a bit more than slightly round the bend, the fact that fear of becoming homeless should prompt the bureaucrats involved to learn something about their clients.

As we all are.

First newborn given xenon gas to prevent brain injury


Riley Joyce with his mom and dad, Sarah and Dave

A newborn baby has become the first in the world to receive xenon gas treatment, pioneered in Bristol in a bid to prevent brain injury.

Riley Joyce had no pulse and was not breathing when he was first delivered by emergency Caesarean section at the Royal United Hospital, Bath. He had a 50:50 chance of permanent brain injury and was transferred to St Michael’s Hospital, Bristol.

His parents agreed to the experimental treatment and Riley is now doing well.

Every year in the UK more than 1,000 otherwise healthy babies born at full term die or suffer brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen or blood supply at birth…

Professor Marianne Thoreson said: “After seven days, Riley was alert, able to look at his mother’s face, hold up his head and begin to take milk.”

She said: “Over the past eight years, we have shown in the laboratory that xenon doubles the protective effect of cooling on the brain.
“However we faced the challenge of how to safely and effectively deliver this rare and extremely expensive gas to newborn babies.”

Dr John Dingley, who invented a machine to deliver the gas, said: “A key design feature of this machine is that it is very efficient, using less than 200ml of xenon per hour – less than the volume of a soft drinks can. “Xenon is a precious and finite resource and difficult to extract so it can cost up to £30 a litre…

The device is now authorised for clinical trials and will be used on a minimum of 12 babies over the coming months in a feasibility trial before it can be used on a larger scale.

Bravo!