Monday, November 30, 2009

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:

I'm beginning to feel some sympathy for Tony Blair is the title of an article by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the Independent today. I've read the article, and while I agree with the gist of what she says, I will never feel sorry for war criminal Tony Blair.

Oh Fuck

Charles Dickens Where are you When We Need You?!

Ian M Banks

While I enjoy Banks's sci fi novels i do find them strangely lacking in soul, but in a way i like that clinical feel to them, and they are very gripping. It's just that after reading them I feel I have gained nothing from the experience except a few hours of harmless escapism. I've started reading the Algebraist entirely in that spirit, in which other people may watch Hollywood blockbusters. The Algebraist is not part of his Culture Cycle he says it may become a trilogy, but at the moment is a standalone novel.

Also this week have enjoyed watching the third series of the Mighty Boosh - an improvement from the second series I think. I loved the song "Eels" and a Gary Numan cameo. Most of the already familiar Boosh characters seemed to make a return, and both Fielding and Fulcher seem to be excellent at playing women. Fulcher looked just like Rosanne Barr. I was very impressed.

I sat through over two hours of The Green Mile last night. I decided I'd give it a go a while ago but trying to watch a 188 minute film on Channel five where the ad breaks (and the News) are nearly as long as the programme is just a mug's game. I gave up with over an hour still to go. thought I might try again on DVD, but to be honest, it was syrupy okey homespun american nonsense about God and sin. It was bollox and I hated it. So I read the synopsis on Wikipedia - what a load of old nonsense. Won't be trying to watch that again.

I have a rule that I do not watch anything with Tom Hanks in it. I broke that rule last night and lived to regret it.

solar panels - cheaper than we thought

climate debate links

I've got myself into another row on the internet - these links will remind me to start checking out some of the climate sceptic's arguments:

film with bellamy to watch:

new scientist

anti-cycling article in times

This article is lies, hyperbole, complete bollox, hypocracy and prejudice all stitched together into one long piece of hateful shite.

WATCH out for the iPod zombies. - My comments in bold.
Cyclists distracted by music blaring in their ears have become the latest menace on Britain's roads.
The fashion for cyclists to wear earphones on crowded city streets is being held partly responsible for the recent upsurge in cycling injuries and deaths, as well as collisions with pedestrians.
No it isn't. There hasn't been an upsurge. The number of cyclists increased, and corresponding casualties rose too - though not quite as high.

Road safety groups are alarmed at the practice and this weekend Edmund King, the president of the AA, called on the Department for Transport (DfT) to launch a campaign warning cyclists of the risk. The number of urban cyclists has grown so sharply that safety groups say the risky behaviour of a minority can cause serious problems.

Safety groups? - so apart from the confirmed anti-cycling AA - which safety groups? The AA is not a safety group by the way you morons - it is a roadside rescue organisation and forms part of the outspoken motorists lobby. Were any cycling organisations spoken to before writing this article?

So anyway - what evidence do you have?

It is not known how many of these cases were caused by people listening to music because the DfT and the police do not record the information.

oh - none then.

However, many cyclists believe the problem is increasing. Internet cycling forums are full of heated exchanges between indignant cyclists and seething motorists, railing against the "erratic behaviour" and "breathtaking stupidity" of riders who career through the traffic, sporting the telltale white wires of an iPod.

You've been on the internet and found some idiots arguing and made up a filler article about it.

"If cyclists had to take a test, like all other road users do, and pay insurance, then perhaps there would be a lot less idiots riding their bikes, wearing their iPod or mobile phone earphones and expecting everyone else to not only give way to them but to also read their minds as to their next action," said one blogger after the death of a London cyclist last week.

If this was from an internet forum then there would have been a reply similar to this - which of course, The Times, not having a remit for balance, doesn't feel the need to include:

1. Most cyclists do have insurance, either becasue they belong to the CTC or LCC, or similar group, or because it is included in their household insurance. I have insurance. Most cyclists I know have insurance.

2. As for reading minds, I'd settle for leaving reasonable space, keeping to the speed limit, indicating appropriately, and using your fecking eyes, like we all have to do on the roads. I expect cars to give way to me when I have the right of way, again, not always obvious to the motorist.

Another said that "iPod zombies are a menace. I saw a bus clip one of them the other day in Victoria who was oblivious to anything around him."

So a bus hits a cyclist but it's the cyclists fault. Shame on the cyclist for not reading the bus drivers mind.

This weekend Nicholas Gardiner, an Oxfordshire coroner, spoke out about the risks of riding with iPods, saying that cyclists' careless attitude had to be challenged. "Frankly I find it quite frightening the things cyclists do," he said. "They ought to take a minimum amount of care over their safety. It seems to me ridiculous to deprive yourself of what is the second most important of your senses."
Last year he recorded a verdict of accidental death when Abigail Haythorne, 17, died after pulling out into an oncoming car. She had an MP3 player in her pocket, and her earphones tucked inside her neck scarf, and he said it was possible she was wearing them when she was struck by the car.

words fail me here. So I can't even have an MP3 plyer in my pocket lest it be ruled after my death that it was reason that a car/ bus/ lorry driver, unable to use their eyes, or their brakes, ploughed into me and killed me. Excellent!

Pedestrians, too, have fallen victim to cyclists listening to music and apparently oblivious to those around them. In June, a six-year-old girl from Wallasey, Merseyside, suffered serious injuries after she was mown down on the pavement by an iPod-wearing cyclist who didn't even stop to help her, according to witnesses. The girl underwent hours of surgery to reconstruct her shattered leg.

I think the important bit here was that the cyclist was on the pavement, not the fact that s/he was wearing an ipod. Funny that although the cyclist never stopped they managed to pick up the detail about the ipod. I don;t find them that easy to see, especially while i'm rushing over to help an injured 6 year old girl. So, is this more bollox. Could be!

The issue of risky behaviour by cyclists has become a more pressing issue for motorists because ministers are considering whether to make them liable for crashes, even if they were not at fault.

Oh dear - a complete misrpresentation of a system that seeks to redress the balance for cyclists who find it hard to obtain compensation from motorists, even though the majority of collisions are the fault of the motorists, and the majority of the damage is inflicted on the cyclist.

Youth for Road Safety, a new group, is to launch a campaign called Tune into Traffic under the slogan "Your earphones could kill you".
Manpreet Darroch, who is leading the campaign, said: "It's a serious problem which is only going to get worse as the number of cyclists increases — lots of people are completely oblivious to what's going on around them. (But that's enough about the motorists - Porgy comment) People don't realise how dangerous listening to music is on the roads — whether pedestrian or cyclist (or motorist? - Porgy comment) . It takes one of your key senses away. People shouldn't do it. (Speaks a non-cyclist - Porgy)
"You can legislate until you are blue in the face. On the issue of iPods we just need to raise awareness."

However CTC, the national cycling group, argues that people should be left to make their own judgments. "We encourage deaf people to cycle so we don't think it's essential to hear traffic in order to ride," said a spokeswoman. "You have to be sensible. The most important thing is that you look around you all the time — especially over your shoulder."

This is placed here without further comment. The people who know what they're talking about - the cyclist organisation - in this article they are near the end where they shoyuld have been up front - they weakly argure wheras what the AA said was reported as a fact.

There is currently no legislation in place to govern either the use of music players or the wearing of helmets on the road, but cyclists can be prosecuted for dangerous riding — an offence that attracts a maximum penalty of £2,500.
The police claim to be getting tougher on cycling offences and Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has promised "complete zero tolerance of cyclists who break the rules". However, David Cameron, the Tory leader, last year rode unpunished through red lights in London.
Johnson plans to give even greater leeway to cyclists, to encourage people to switch to one of the greenest forms of transport. He is studying the possibility of allowing cyclists to shoot red lights on left turns at a junction.
Last week King called on the DfT to address the iPod issue. "They're meant to be mobile, but if you are cycling, you need all your senses about you."

Previous anti-cyclist articles:

Naked Cyclist

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Running Nose Blues

I've got another cold! Every damned December - except this one's arrived a week early.

Pleased with the way things are going in the Iraq War enquiry. It seems to be establishing very quickly that the war was illegal.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I ended up embroiled in an argument on a bike forum over the Lib Dems performance prior to and during the Iraq War...with another poster called Toontra.

Here's the main points again

an article from the Guardian prior to the invasion showing how weak - or non-existent - the Lib Dems stance against the war was:

apparent split within Nato over Iraq.
The row within Nato, which threatens to derail US plans for a military invasion of Iraq, flared yesterday when France, Germany and Belgium blocked a move to send Nato missile batteries to defend Turkey in the event of a war.
In an emergency answer the armed forces minister, Adam Ingram, tried to defend Tony Blair's handling of both Nato and the US administration for nearly an hour.
But Conservatives shouted "shame" as Mr Ingram reported to MPs on the affair, angered that the secretary of state for defence, Geoff Hoon, was not in the chamber to answer questions.
However, some Tories and many Labour backbenchers applauded France and Germany's sceptical stance.
The former Labour shadow foreign minister, Gerald Kaufman, described Donald Rumsfeld, the American secretary of state for defence, as "like a bull in a china shop".
Labour's leading anti-war campaigner, Jeremy Corbyn, said the French position "reflects a desire for peace rather than war", but …
And here’s the clincher…
Paul Keetch, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, made the Lib Dem line clearer by saying "France and Germany have made their point and should back down now".

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back in Town

Had a good few days off - arrived back in London today. Now I have to get organised for Monday - expecting a slight pile up of work.

Monday, November 09, 2009

No Talking

I was at the Luminaire on Saturday night to see the High Llamas. Then today I receive an email from the Luminaire which includes the following paragraph:

A big SOD OFF to whoever wrote the whining, passive-aggressive note on
our mailing list sign-up sheet, asking us to let him or her speak and
not to "shush us" when the bands were playing, suggesting that
shushing those who're talking is not very nice. Nor is ruining our
mailing list sign-up sheet but you go right ahead and do that, and
talk when the bands are on, and we'll go right ahead and tell you get
out. If you're ignorant enough to ruin someone else's enjoyment of a
gig by yapping about X-Factor or whatever the hell it is you talk
about then you waive the right to appeal.

Never let it be said we don't stand our ground on points of principal.

Good on you Luminaire management! It's only a little venue and people prattling on about crap will be a real annoyance. In fact the last time I was at the Luminaire to see a couple of bands there was a persistently noisy group in the audience chatting all the way through the Dials, the support act. Unfortunately no-one told them to shut up. But then maybe that was because they were the main act - the Mekons - and entourage. While I enjoyed their performance (no one talked through their act) my wife took agin them, said they were shit and has failed to forgive their rudeness ever since.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Bike's becoming increasingly knackered. I noticed today that the yellow is showing through on my back tyre and the hub apears to be completely buggered. I should have put it in for a service on Saturday but as i'm off work for most of the week, i won't be cycling again...for a week.

Friday, November 06, 2009

SchNEWS 698

Wake Up!! Wake Up!! It's Yer Junk Mail...
SchNEWS Issue 698, Friday 6th November 2009

Read this issue online (from noon Saturday):
We encourage you to print, copy and distribute the SchNEWS
wherever you can...

Chat to your friends for free on selected mobiles. Learn more.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Don't Say the "C" Word

I've been downloading a podcast called "Miller's Tales" - this is a posh-sounding woman, based in Scotland I think, who puts together a roundup of what she calls "Americana" or even folk music. But what she won't call it is "country", even though on the podcasts i lisened to the music is 90/95% country. Country gets a bad rap in Britain. say you like country and people seem to imagine hoe-downs, buying gingham for emmylou, loose fitting dungarees, redneck Texans or KKK conventions. There is not a period in history where country was remotely associated with right wing bigotry or any of the other cliches about the southern states of the USA.

In reality - throughout the history of country there have been great rebels breaking rules, pushing the music forward. Hank Williams was greatly influenced by black blues players, Woody Guthrie was a communist, Johnny Cash protested against the Vietnam War, Charlie rich was black, KD Lang is a lesbian, Steve Earle is a one man revolution and has been strongly against the Bush regime, Dixie Chix got banned for speaking out aginst the war in Iraq, Emmylou Harris is very much the liberal, etc.... you'd be ahrd pushed to find the stereotypical southern bigot anywhere in modern country, and even in the past - they were far from the whole story. I think what fools people is that the country establishment has always been very conservative - Hank Williams was persona non grata in Nashville for years - but then the rock establishment is still incredibly conservative, usually Republican supporting, obviously racist right into the 1980s, still very sexist, and extremely limited in it's outlook, preferring the rebellious acts of an inept 14 year old boy to genuine acts of subversion against an illegal and reactionary government - this is why raawwwk is the music of america's establishment, and country is the music of the people.

Here's today's weather brought to you by my new phone: