Greg Allan

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Greg Allan last won the day on June 10 2013

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    Harborne, Birmingham, UK

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  1. ‘who's ranting moronic political views now? It was the little people who fought wars in the past,our grandparents and their friends,who's guts and bravery made this country what it was.’ Of course many of our forebears demonstrated astonishing courage (and no short amount of ability) in previous wars- I’m not aware that any participant in this discussion has doubted this, nor given even the slightest hint of ingratitude for their sacrifices. I am, however, at a loss as to how you think that having had a grandparent who fought in one of the world wars is somehow a substitute for knowledge and expertise in respect of modern political, legal and economic matters. It is also rather simplistic to imply that it was solely the courage and general efforts of the ‘little people’ (your words, initially, not mine) that shaped modern Britain. Of course, they played a part, but, to be honest, the privileged economic, medical, military and democratic status of the UK in recent history is also, to a great degree, a result of a combination of factors such as a historically sound constitutional framework with an independent judiciary and checks and balances on executive powers, the ideas propagated by generations of brilliant thinkers, the fruits of the work of numerous exceptional scientists and industrialists and also, shamefully, the products of colonial exploitation and the transatlantic slave trade. ‘It is the greed and easy life these peoople that rise to political elite crave.’ That’s certainly true of some of them (and always has been and always will be), but it is rather a gross generalisation! ‘It is well documented the corruptness of EU officals.’ Yes, some corruption has been documented. It is also often argued (with some justification) that many EU officials may be overpaid. I don’t think that many people think that the EU is perfect, or that it ought not to be reformed. It is worth bearing in mind that corruption has also, on occasion, been exposed within UK politics (an obvious example being the fairly recent expenses scandal). Also, it should be noted that virtually all EU countries fare very well indeed in the Corruption Perceptions Index. In short, most of the evidence suggests that the EU is among of the least corrupt of world institutions. 'We need to step back from being goverened by germany and france,' It is precisely this sort of unfounded banality that is inflicting great damage to this country. Do you care to explain how on earth you think that membership of the EU leads to being ‘goverened [sic] by France and Germany’? As powerful member states, they do of course, possess some political clout (Germany more than France, for economic reasons), but in no way does this amount to governance! Do you have any comprehension of the roles played by the respective EU institutions in the Union’s law-making process? I’m sorry, but this really is a ridiculous statement. ‘keep our money at home and sort our country out,for people that live and work here.’ It is worth noting that many of the socially deprived areas which were strongly in favour of Brexit are net beneficiaries of EU funds. Unfortunately, these communities stand to suffer the greatest damage from Brexit. Certainly, a right wing populist UK government won’t help them or provide the infrastructure and resources necessary for them to help themselves. Of course, assuming one accepts the consensus amongst economists and leading industrialists, we all benefit greatly from EU membership in economic terms. Therefore, leaving is likely to greatly reduce the funds which are available to ‘sort our country out’. It is also notable that the EU has done a huge amount for ‘little people’, particularly, of course, in respect of employee and consumer rights. ‘when that is done we can start to look further afield at what we can do to help others,we need to help our own first.’ As I said, membership of the EU provides financial benefits to all; exit from the EU will inflict the greatest hardship upon the most needy. ‘the world is a bigger place then europe and there are far more oppertunities out there than just europe.’ But surely it is better to negotiate as part of an economically powerful bloc than alone (and from scratch, and with virtually no officials with any experience in negotiating trade deals)? The truth, as much as it may be difficult for some to stomach, is that there is no surer way to spurn the most favourable trading opportunities than to opt for a hard Brexit. Also, being as you’re so concerned about corruption, which countries that are less corrupt than the EU would you wish to be the UK’s partners in its new and glorious era of trade agreements? ‘get over losing a vote and get on with helping put our country right before everyone else’ I would not characterize it as a vote that I lost, rather as a vote that our country (especially our children and grandchildren) lost. You also have a peculiar view of the nature of democracy if you think that debate should cease upon the outcome of a vote. Moreover, a general election is about to be fought over… you guessed it, Brexit and its terms! The best way to help the country is to support, if not a reversal of the referendum, then as ‘soft’ a Brexit as possible! People and countries will still trade with us or we can go elsewhere,they can't afford to lose our custom. Yes, they are currently falling over themselves! The problem is that, essentially, we will need their custom more then they (in general, although it depends who ‘they’ are) need ours. Such inequality of bargaining power does not auger well for us! ada ‘One thing i will say about the 'EU', is it is essentially corrupt, undemocratic and heading more in that direction.’ As I mentioned above, the charges of corruption are overblown. As for the assertion that it is undemocratic, do you care to substantiate this claim? The law-making powers lie within the competence of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Perhaps the Commission’s power ought to be reduced somewhat, but it is simply inaccurate to say that the EU is undemocratic. Also, according to the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament's powers were increased, so it is absurd to suggest that the EU is becoming less democratic. ‘If you only consider economics, i would have preferred to stay in.’ You are a few steps ahead of Ada ‘if you consider corruption and lack of democracy, i would have preferred to exit. Nobody really knows if staying in or leaving was economically the right thing to do.’ I think that a few experts have a good idea as to whether it was economically the right thing to do… ‘Experts are just over-educated idiots with an opinion most of the time.’ This is impressive satire. Have you considered applying for a position as a journalist for Private Eye? On the off chance that this astonishing statement was made in earnest, not, why don’t you try the following: trust the methods of Icarus, rather than those of modern aviation experts, next time you wish to take to the air; resort to medieval quackery next time you get smallpox… actually, no need, because it was eradicated by experts; represent yourself in court should you happen to be accused of a serious offence; follow garden centre guidelines next time you acquire some nice new Nepenthes. ‘Even more so when you are dealing with economics.’ OK- if you are lucky enough to acquire a substantial inheritance, I trust that, should you wish to make an investment, you will seek advice from your mates in the pub rather than from anyone who has any clue about the financial sector. I do think its time we stopped moaning about it and just got on with it. Good grief! It’s the main issue in the forthcoming general election! The debate is not about to go away!
  2. Possibly, yes, although, as you said in an earlier post, the CPS is utterly unlikely to alter government policy, so it may well be that the most expedient solution for a society such as the CPS is to bow to the inevitable rather than waste time and resources flogging a dead horse. I didn't say that this is actually what motivated the CPS to adopt its stance, just that it was a pragmatic reason why such a position could be adopted. As for the Brexit stuff, in (admittedly way overdue) deference to those who want to use this thread to discuss the use of peat, I will write a response in the open forum so that people can read or ignore as they see fit!
  3. The main pragmatic reason is that the peat ban seems very likely to happen, regardless of whether or not the CPS opposes it, so it is probably in the best interests of growers if the CPS promotes peat-free growing so that, as far as possible, people are not caught out if and when peat is no longer available. Interestingly, there has been a recent discussion on this topic on Facebook. In particular, Stephen Morley, who is based in the North, swears by peat-free substrates (although I do not know about the economic implications of switching to his preferred substrates). Of course experts are sometimes wrong. On balance, however, it is unlikely in any given instance that an expert (or expert consensus) will be proven wrong by an ignoramus. The view that everybody's opinion carries equal weight, or that 'common sense' somehow trumps expertise, is, in my opinion, terribly dangerous. Universal adult suffrage, for all its flaws, seems to me to be by far the best protection against tyranny, but a representative democracy depends, essentially (and in theory), upon electing people who have the time, intellectual capacity and access to expert advice which is necessary to make important decisions. This is why the referendum was such bad idea. People with little clue as to important matters such as the nature and powers of EU institutions, the legal framework in which the EU operates, the violent history of Western Europe and the likely long-term economic implications of leaving were given the opportunity to vote on a matter of the utmost significance. Needless to say, such people were susceptible to being manipulated by cunning chancers such as Farage and Gove, as well as to leaping to conclusions based on 'common sense' without feeling the need to equip themselves with the knowledge necessary to reach an informed position. It is also notable that 'populist' leaders or demagogues who prey on the ignorant by persuading them to ignore well-founded conventional wisdom in order to promote their own interests seem rarely to be drawn from the ranks of the 'little people' about whose needs they profess to care so much. In fact, once in power, such predators generally seem to trample over the rights and interests of the 'little people' who propelled them into high office. One only has to cast an eye across the Atlantic to apprehend the appalling consequences of allowing pig-ignorance and misinformation to triumph over informed thinking and evidence-based knowledge.
  4. Great plants! Are they as blue in reality as they look in the photos?
  5. No, I didn't grow the Nepenthes from seed, although I have raised a couple from TC which were tiny when I got them. I think that a lot of Nepenthes growers raise when without peat, though. I agree that the CPS is most unlikely to be able to exert any significant influence. As for the reason for the existence of the CPS, I presume that it is essentially to act in the best interests of the hobby. It seems that, even if one does not accept the scientific case for the peat ban, there are fairly compelling pragmatic reasons for the approach that the CPS has adopted.
  6. So it appears that Brexit will indeed have no effect on the impending peat ban. I wonder whether there is anything else for which the EU has been erroneously blamed by the ill-informed (the Human Rights Act, anybody?). Nope, surely not... As far as the peat issue is concerned, a few points spring to mind: 1) I don't think that the argument for a blanket ban on the use of peat in horticulture is especially convincing. It may have to be that measures should be taken to ensure that that its use is restricted to niche users such as ourselves (maybe the price of peat ought to be raised a little to avoid it being used in substrates for general horticulture), but it is difficult to see the environmental benefits in forbidding its use altogether in the name of conservation whilst at the same time precluding growers from successfully cultivating certain species or varieties which are disappearing from their natural habitats at alarming rates (e.g. several species of Sarracenia); 2) I'm not convinced that the CPS has sufficient clout to lobby effectively for any U-turn on the ban (although I would be happy to be proved wrong). The CPS's policy of promoting peat-free growing would therefore seem to me to be manifestly sensible if only as a means by which to prepare for the inevitable; 3) I grow or have grown successfully without peat several Nepenthes species (e.g. bicalcarata, diatas, inermis, jamban, spectabilis, jacquelineae, glabrata and others). Ditto for several Drosera species (e.g. the tropical Queensland trio, regia, several S American Drosera), many Mexican Pinguicula species, a few Utricularia, Darlingtonia and a few Heliamphora. I have experimented with Byblis gigantea and a couple of tuberous Drosera with no success (although I have seen photos of impressive B gigantea specimens grown by Adam Cross in pure sand); 4) more experimentation may, I think, yield more promising results. I understand that the overwhelming majority of terrestrial CP species occur naturally in substrates which do not contain sphagnum moss peat (e.g.most Australian Drosera, all Australian Byblis, most Australian Utricularia, most Nepenthes species, Drosophyllum, all Heliamphora species, most Pinguicula species, Darlingtonia). I'm not sure, however, how easy or cost-effective it would be to obtain the types of substrates in which they are found. Another practical difficulty with experimentation is that many private growers do not possess the space or the spare plants to conduct meaningful research. Obvious difficulties also remain for those who are primarily interested in growing genera such as Sarracenia and Dionaea- I can't pretend to be au fait with the success of growers such as Mike King with seedlings, although the results with divisions and adult plants seem to be pretty convincing.
  7. Damn those pesky leading economists, elite scientists, university professors and political commentators with their cogent, fact-based arguments and sharp analysis! These enemies of the people have robbed me of my critical faculties! In future, I shall demonstrate my independence of thought by forming my opinions on the basis of instructions issued in the editorials of the Sun and the Daily Mail. As per the peat argument, I am certainly no expert (heaven forbid) on the environmental regulations relating to peat, but my understanding is that the domestic measures go further in this respect than required by EU law (although I stand corrected if I am mistaken). Thus, I am not entirely sure how ‘bringing on Brexit’ will assist the situation in respect of the availability of peat for horticulture, unless, of course, you envisage that our departure from the EU will lead to the immediate repeal of all laws relating to environmental protection and permit the unfettered destruction of endangered habitats that Tea Party politicians only contemplate in their wildest dreams.
  8. Great point, and so eloquently put! On a more serious note, in future, please do try to control your impulses to broadcast your moronic political views.
  9. I take it that you've not been following the news since the fateful result came in! The markets are in turmoil, the main political parties are in meltdown, there is clearly no coherent exit strategy, the UK is on the brink of breaking up, we are very likely to end up with an unelected prime minister (at least until such time as a general election takes place) and, furthermore, the result seems to have unleashed a spate of racist and/or xenophobic attacks on foreign EU nationals. Still, we have 'got Britain back' from the 'unelected officials'. The Brexit supporters must be so proud! Fortunately, the peculiarities of the UK's constitutional framework mean that, strictly speaking, the result is advisory only (a last-ditch safeguard against rank idiocy, perhaps). Thus, whilst, for political reasons, exit from the EU is overwhelmingly the most likely outcome, my view is that the remain camp should continue protesting until it is legally all over. This may at the very least convince our EU partners that there is a sufficient groundswell of sane and reasonable people to warrant dealing with us in a favourable manner (perhaps even Common Market membership). The attitude of giving up and walking away when everything is not as one wants is what got us into this fine mess in the first place. Incidentally, I have to question whether a process which involved a campaign dominated by fraudulent claims and insinuations intended to hoodwink the ignorant into voting to leave can really be called 'democratic'.
  10. Might it not have been prudent to have researched such matters before voting to plunge the country into economic crisis? Just the sort of ludicrous hyperbole that got us into this mess. To stay on topic, yes, of course it will be bad for our hobby. But that's the least of our problems now.
  11. I think that sticky-leaved CPs are grossly under-studied as a whole. I noticed a few years ago that Drosera latifolia (formerly ascendens) has tentacles which move rapidly enough for the movement to be perceived with the naked eye. I suspect a lot of species have tentacles which move far more rapidly than is commonly appreciated. I am also beginning to have serious doubts as to whether all Byblis can properly be described as wholly passive carnivores. Byblis gigantea seems to me to possess some kind of ability to draw prey to its epidermis (although I have not observed the method). Byblis guehoi has similar abilities. The other day, I noticed a small flying insect (some sort of fly, I think) which was adhered to the outer tentacles of the underside of a semi-erect leaf a B guehoi plant in my greenhouse. It was most certainly dead. The following morning, it was in contact with the epidermis and enveloped in fluid. It is now dry, but still in contact with the epidermis. Cindy on ICPS forum is the first person whom I know to have suggested that Byblis may have this ability, and I have observed it many times on my plants since reading her comments. I wonder whether Byblis tentacles remain erect owing to fluid pressure within the cells; if the plant has the ability to reduce the turgidity in the cells, it may be able to cause individual tentacles to collapse, this bringing ensnared prey into contact with the sessile glands. Byblis gigantea cells are undoubtedly able to communicate with one another, and seem to possess a sense of 'taste'. I have demonstrated this by placing small pieces of cheese on the epidermis of a leaf and observing glands above the cheese (presumably, the sessile glands) literally oozing fluid. Lots of work for potential PhD students, I think! Greg
  12. Hi Mike, I am planning to come with wife and kids. Greg
  13. Hi Siggi/Dan, I recall looking into this a while back with my own plants. I think that I observed this effect in , amongst others, D callistos and, surprisingly, D pulchella, as well as D scorpiodes. Many species are available in the UK, especially in gemmae season in the autumn. Also, lots of gemmae will be available from foreign growers in the autumn.
  14. I am in the process of converting my lowland tank, which contained a few Neps, petiolaris complex Drosera and annual Byblis, into a highland tank. I am able to accomodate the Drosera and Byblis in a much smaller warm tank, but I am unsure as to what is best to do with the lowland Nepenthes. I have a fairly large N bicalcarata (at a guess, 60-70cm leafspan, with decent pitchers), a large N ampullaria 'Cantley's Red', a fairly large hybrid involving N globosa, and several small N rafflesiana specimens. The options for each are the following: try on a windowsill; try in the highland set up (min winter temps about 10 deg C, min summer temps- whatever it is outside); sell/give away. Does anyone have any suggestions as to the best course of action. I'd rather give them to good homes than watch them decline and die, but I would like to keep some/all of them if there is a reasonable chance of success. Thanks, Greg