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Sustainable Business: Interview With Eleanor Cunningham Owner of Edinburgh Larder

This is an interview with Eleanor Cunningham who opened the Edinburgh Larder in 2009. In search for sustainable and ethical businesses, coming across Edinburgh Larder was a surprise. Combining locally collected and seasonal produce in recipes which reflect the flavours and tastes of Scotland, she has demonstrated that highly successful business is viable through sustainable practices.

The list of the suppliers she uses is impressive; when you go into the Bistro, you are met with a map of where the ingredients hale from, proudly naming the artisans involved. The Edinburgh Larder started as a café just off the Royal Mile and expanded to include a bistro in the west end of Edinburgh in 2012. At the Edinburgh Larder Bistro they organise events where people get the chance to talk about local produce and share some tasters. They also run foraging courses through the year – a particular delight are the 2 mushroom foraging courses in September and October. Read more

The Corporate Takeover of Education

We are living in an age where increasingly the lifeworld we inherently own and share are becoming colonized with the values of the marketplace.  In short, everything is being bought and sold from under our feet and out of our lives.  This is a distinct and troubling trend where the idea of economic growth is metastasizing into a financialism which consumes everything in its wake.

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Podcast: Dr Gabriel Siles-Brugge talks about the background to TTIP

Dr Gabriel Siles-Brugge, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester, talks about the background to TTIP at University of Manchester Policy Week 2014. In this podcast he gives a historical backdrop running up to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, detailing trade agreements and policies which add context to the current proposals.

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Podcast: Professor Clive George talks about TTIP

Professor Clive George, the author of the book ‘The Truth About Trade’ talks about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which is a series of trade negotiations that are being carried out the European Union and the United States. Many of these negotiations are being carried out in secret and they have sparked some controversy about their nature and outcomes.

As a trade agreement, TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business and covers areas like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations. In an age where companies are starting to sue countries for loss of profit, these negotiations should be thought about deeply. For example Bayer has sued the European Commission to attempt to overturn a ban on the pesticides they produce that are killing millions of bees.

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The Medium is the Means: The Industrial-Educational Complex

Marshall McLuhan is very well known for developing communications theory, and is famously attributed with the expression “The medium is the message”, which speaks of the different affordances which each medium has for communicating information. Speaking has different affordances from writing, radio has different affordances from television, clay has different affordances from paint… Read more

Invisible Colleges and Owning Our Common Intellectual Heritage

The 17th century holds an important history in the development of thought.  It saw people like Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes formulate questioning ways of thinking in our world, encouraging and establishing cultures of exploring the world in which we live, and cultivating a personal relationship with the knowledge of the universe. They confronted the taboo of personal ownership of knowledge through the embracing of skepticism – the need to query the things we have been told and think we know are true – and the application of their efforts to question the ‘regimes of truth’ (a phrase which Professor Penny Jane Burke coins) which existed in their time, as now.

Rene Descartes is a critical figure in modern Western philosophy who lived from 1596 to 1650. His skeptic methodology deeply affected Western cultures and set the scene for more open intellectual enquiry. Through formulating his famous method of doubt he shifted the debate from “what is true” to “of what can I be certain?”.  To this he is best known for the philosophical statement is “Cogito ergo sum” – “I think, therefore I am”.  This provided a revolutionary basis for the questioning of traditions of thinking which had stretched across the medievel period. Read more

Human Development and Opportunity Costs

The creation of social opportunities makes a direct contribution to the expansion of human capabilities and the quality of life. Expansion of health care, education, social security, etc., contribute directly to the quality of life and to its flourishing. There is every evidence that even with relatively low income, a country that guarantees health care and education to all can achieve remarkable results in terms of the length and quality of life of the entire population. The highly labour-intense nature of health care and basic education – and human development in general – makes them comparatively cheap in the certain stages of economic development, when labour costs are low.

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Education As A Public Good: A Digest

Broader approaches to societal development are often harder to “sell” than narrowly focused reforms that try to achieve “one thing at a time”. This may help to explain why the powerful intellectual leadership of Manmohan Singh in bringing about the needed economic reforms in India in 1991 was so concentrated on “liberalization” only, without a corresponding focus on the much needed broadening of social opportunities.

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Pay Multiples: Policies on the Relationship Between Top Pay and that of the Rest by Benjamin Irvine

Despite the requirement in the guidance notes for Local Authority Pay Policy Statements to clearly state what they think the relationship should be between the pay of chief officers and staff who are not chief officers, there is a lack of policies for assessing, justifying and achieving appropriate pay multiples.

Rather than creating independent policies to assess what fair and justifiable pay ratios might be and how to achieve them, they are almost unanimously justified as following from the ‘objective’ and uncontrollable processes which are used for setting pay and grading structures. A recurring justification in statements is that the pay multiple ‘results from the detailed implementation of the pay policies as set out earlier in this statement’. Read more

The Manipulation and Distortion of The Stockmarket

What I look at in this article is how equitable the market place is for Futures and stock trading in commodities raising the question of how equal are the opportunities ?  The idea of protection feature strongly in economic discussions and can cover a multitude of sin from obstruction of data resulting in imperfect information to insider trading, to barriers created around the market place and red tape.  Understanding what manipulation and distortion happens in the marketplace is a critical issue if we are to understand the existing influences on the food prices.

Like bank traders, fund managers often use computerized high frequency ‘algorithmic trading’ to make gains from miniscule price movements. High-frequency trading is based on information that reaches insiders a fraction of a second ahead of everyone else – just long enough to cash in, while raising costs for ordinary investors. Michael Lewis wrote Flash Boys in which he describes the construction of a secretive 827-mile cable running from Chicago to New Jersey which would reduce the journey of data from 17 to 13 milliseconds. The speed of data is a major theme in the book; essentially, the faster the data travels, the better the price of the trade. Read more