Some notes on self-aggrandisement in the Neoliberal University

April 19, 2017 § Leave a comment

Garden Buildings Direct Sales Rep lied to me about FSC Certification

April 19, 2017 § Leave a comment

So I’m buying a wooden garden shed, because I’ve reached that stage of life where one buys a wooden shed. I want it to be made from timber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. I know FSC Certification is not perfect or a panacea for what humans are doing to forests (and their inhabitants) across the world. But I think it probably still makes sense to buy FSC Certified timber where possible.

I saw a shed I liked, for sale by Garden Buildings Direct, a brand name of Kybotech Ltd. On their website it doesn’t mention FSC Certification so I called them to ask. Their Sales Rep (based in the Philippines) told me they are FSC Certified. The FSC website disagrees:

Kybotech 1

I then tried to ask the same question in their online customer support chat, and got no answer:

Kybotech 2

Garden Buildings Direct/Kybotech Ltd. aren’t getting my money. I bought from instead.

(Apologies for the poor quality photos.)

Incidentally, there is an organisation called What Shed? that reviews companies that sell garden sheds. Niche market, right? Which would make you think that their reviews would comment on aspects that are specific to sheds, which are almost always made from wood. But reviews by What Shed? make no mention of FSC Certification at all. Here is their review for Garden Buildings Direct, which is very positive.

Coincidentally, today I also got a quote for repairing sash windows. I asked if the wood used was FSC Certified. The guy giving me the quote said “Now you’re getting all technical on me. What’s FSC?”

Finally, here are some thoughts on this story, shared by a friend on Facebook (where I posted a link to this blogpost):

i’m loving this: As one of the largest manufacturing company’s in this sector they [Garden Buildings Direct] are a specialist in selling high volumes of products at very competitive prices. As such please take this into account when dealing with them. By this we mean they are very focused on a lean operation so they have a company owned customer service center in the Philippians [???] and they offer many options to help you customise your building to the specification that is right for your budget. As such if you are expecting the level of customer service and product quality you would expect from Roles Royce all from a UK based call center then this company might not be right for you.

so basically, please stop having Rolls Royce level expectations from uneducated, third-world folk…. also according to the reviewers “On this page you should find everything you could ever possibly want to know about Garden Buildings Direct”
ergo, FSCs are not the sort of thing you need to know about before buying a shed.

I replied:

Or, alternatively, “On this page you should find everything you could ever possibly want to know about Garden Buildings Direct” means “We are assuming you want to be as happy as possible with the product you buy. We are also assuming that if you know that their FSC certification has been suspended, you will be less happy than if you don’t know this. Therefore, logically, this is not something you could possibly want to know about the manufacturer. So we won’t tell you.”

The moral of the story: don’t go round making assumptions.



Legal advice on objecting to a planning application

April 15, 2017 § Leave a comment

Community Action for Health in Porto Alegre, Brazil

April 13, 2017 § Leave a comment

I was excited to see this announcement on the People’s Health Movement website:

7th April: Community Action for Health in Porto Alegre, Brazil

In the World Health Day, PHM Brazil launched the book Community Action for Health in Porto Alegre. The book is the result of a participatory research created after the IPHU course held in Porto Alegre in 2008. The objectives of the research were to document episodes of community action for health, analyze the interactions between health workers and communities in these episodes and systematize the lessons learned with these stories. The launching of the book was also a way to be accountable to the people who shared their stories with us. We were very happy to see many of them present, participating one more time in the collective process of sharing these stories and reflecting upon them. We are very thankful to all participants who helped to build this work, turning it into a truly participatory one, and to professor and friend David Legge, who helped us enormously since the beginning. We are also very grateful for the financial help provided by Medico International.

The book is available, uniquely in Portuguese for the moment, through the link:

scholar-activist or activist-scholar or neither or both

April 13, 2017 § Leave a comment“i-became-a-scholar-in-order-to-become-a-better-activist”/

Scholar-Activist Project Awards

DIY punk ethic music production

April 12, 2017 § Leave a comment



April 12, 2017 § Leave a comment

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