All entries for May 2005

May 30, 2005

Chelsea Tanks

Writing about web page http://www.stopurban4x4s.org.uk/

Just sent this off to the Coventry Observer in response to a letter claiming that the use of 4×4 cars was safe and responsible, That followed a protest against them, in which I took part, at Bablake School Coventry on 12 May.

Despite being a supporter of the protest against big 4×4s used on the school run, I accept that not all 4×4 cars are bad. The Fiat Panda, for example, seems a reasonable sort of car. But large 4×4s are far too big for urban use. Many are only bought as fashion statements by people who never drive off road and don't want to know about the environment or other road users' safety. A tall flat fronted 4×4 striking a child not only hits them on the leg but also on the body and probably on the head as well. Perhaps not so much a Chelsea tractor as a Chelsea tank.
Compare cars from the same manufacturer. The Ford Focus out-performs the Ford Land Rover in every environmental category from fuel consumption, through air pollution to noise. For more details see link

Still it's tough being a parent in these days of pester power. One month your kids want you to drive one sort of car "cos it's sooo cool", the next month the fashion's changed!


May 21, 2005

My way or the highway

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,1487422,00.html

I've just sent this off to Guardian weekend. The witch doctors of the nanny state are at it again…..

I'm not surprised cyclists like Zoe Williams "expect one nasty accident a year".

The last time I had a nasty accident was in 1982. Since then I have cycled over 50,000 miles. I don't overtake lorries on their left, I don't ride close to the kerb or parked cars and I use lights in the dark. All vital safety measures for cyclists which apparently Ms. Williams doesn't think important enough to mention.

People are put off cycling because they think motor traffic is too dangerous. It is if you think wearing a plastic hat is a substitute for knowing where the real dangers lie and taking steps to counter them


May 18, 2005

The Apprentice

Watched most of the final session of the UK version of the Apprentice last night.

Wow a programme that makes business look exciting! I always thought top managers were a bunch of bureaucrats, dimwits, free-loaders and psychopaths. Although perhaps the original U.S. version of the show is closer to the truth. See link

I suppose TV tries to make anything look exciting – take Big Brother!


May 14, 2005

Blair, Hoodies and cars

Writing about web page http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk/antisocialbehaviour43.htm

Tony Blair gave his backing to the Bluewater shopping centre's ban on hoodies. And we are told that New Labour is a version of Social Democracy, which in turn is an amalgam of liberalism and socialism

Clearly having got rid of the socialism bit (private finance initiative, anti trade union laws etc.), Blair now wants to get rid of the liberal bit (id cards, banning people due to appearance, faith schools etc.)

What do real people really perceive as anti social behaviour? Top of this list

* Speeding Traffic

* Parked cars

See link

The extent to which the media, funded by motor industry advertising revenue, has succeeded in marginalising the opinions of the majority and diverted the attention of the public by demonising young people, is quite amazing.


May 08, 2005

UK's dysfunctional Capitalism

Text of a letter I've just sent off to Coventry Evening Telegraph…

Sir Digby Jones, chairman of the Confederation of British Industry was reported in the Evening Telegraph as not being worried about ex-Marconi workers getting jobs in the UK, but showed concern about whether these jobs would be in Coventry. I disagree. Most of the engineers I know who left Marconi have changed career. Their specialist skills are lost.

Unfortunately the public debate usually confuses the problems of Rover and Peugeot's Ryton plant with those of Marconi. Although all three firms are in engineering, the car is a mature technology while telecommunications is still in its youth. With a mature technology the focus is on manufacture, with a young technology it must be on innovation. Although Rover didn't invest enough in innovation to even to keep a car company on its legs.

We are told that we face intense competition in manufacturing from eastern Europe and the Far East, to survive engineering must focus on innovation and customisation. Yet the low spending on R&D throughout British industry, Marconi's fall and the exodus of its workers out of high technology shows that the UK has lost the plot.


May 05, 2005

Another gravestone for UK high tech?

Commenting on the news of further misery from Marconi (my old employer).

Nothing of the £10 billion contract to renew BT's network has been awarded to the sole remaining U.K. telecommunications equipment maker, Marconi. Marconi just couldn't afford to make such a large contract a "loss leader". Companies such as Ericsson, ten times the size of Marconi, were able to offer very low prices as they had deep pockets and felt they would be able to generate hugh revenues by licensing what they develop for BT to less technologically adventurous network operators.

The government's blagware about Broadband Britain is looking increasing dubious. The UK's capability to develop its own telecommunications infrastructure is crumbling as the workers with the necessary skills lose their jobs and change careers. You wouldn't see USA, Japan, France or Germany let their high technology infrastructure go down the drain like this.


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