All entries for January 2007

January 31, 2007

To drive this badly takes real skill

I’m not thinking about the “never had an accident seen thousands in the mirror” brigade here. Nope, this is an altogether higher evolution of driver. People who:

drive slowly because they are keeping the car a constant 1.5 feet from the left hand kerb. Not 1.4 and most certainly not 1.6, so they have to go along at 30 mph as any faster ruins their concentration…. you’ve got to be able to visualise where your car is on the road pretty precisely to do this.

wait ages in front of you at roundabouts while nothing is blocking them then spring out in front an oncoming car from the right at the last minute… without crashing… you have to have exceptional timing skills to pull this off as well as an understanding of tyre adhesion and how quickly the engine picks up for a given depression of the throttle pedal.

try to execute a u turn after pulling out from having parallel parked on the side of the road and blocking traffic in both directions, then waiting for someone to pass… not so much a driving skill though it does require good situational awareness skills to avoid a collision, and more planning is required to actually pull it off;

The thing is, though, these examples show that it’s not bad driving. It’s not a case of someone driving badly, they’re actually driving pretty well, if you think about it… but why do I end up behind them each morning?

Anyone got any other examples of driving so good it’s bad?


Why do Chavs want to be your friend?

More to the point, why do they want to be your friend so much and then get so arsey if you won’t?

Picture the scene, I am with my kids outside Tescos (possibly my first mistake but press on) getting directions to a shop at 4.15 on Sunday afternoon when two chavs walk up and start talking to the store manager as though he’s not already talking to someone. They just want cigarettes but won’t walk to the garage kiosk which is still open 50 yards away.

Chav 1: Hey, just let me in, will you?

Manager: The store’s closed. I did say the garage is still open

Chav 1: I just want to buy some cigarettes

Me: Hey, guys, the manager said you could get some from the garage and you have just crashed a conversation I was in the middle of here.

Chav 2: Hey, man, why are you giving it all the mouth when your kids are here (places hand in front of mouth and imitates duck’s bill quacking)

Chav 1: (to manager) It’s over between me and you, isn’t it?

Me: I was trying to get some directions here before you guys interrupted

Chav 1: (to me) Hey let me shake your hand.

(Reaches over grabs my hand and squeezes very hard. I pull my hand free before he breaks it – it now reeks of aftershave, or something)

Me: Oi, don’t try to break my hand!

Chav 2: Hey, man, why are you giving it all the mouth when your kids are here (places hand in front of mouth and imitates duck’s bill quacking)

Chav 1: I wasn’t doing anything! (Big innocent, hey me? grin)

Me: Yeah, right, go get your cigarettes and let me talk to this man here.

Chav 2: Hey, man, why are you giving it all the mouth when your kids are here (places hand in front of mouth and imitates duck’s bill quacking)

  • see a pattern forming here, yet? Almost as though chav 2 had been rehearsing that particular phrase for days and now he knows it all the way through is going to use it as often as he can.

Chav 1: Hey, let me shake your hand again. I just wanna be your friend. (Big innocent, hey me? grin again. Gee, this guy is mates with the whole planet.)

Me: I’m not going to let you shake my hand!

Chav 2: Hey, man, why are you giving it all the mouth when your kids are here (places hand in front of mouth and imitates duck’s bill quacking)

  • yep, he actually didn’t say anything else the whole time…

Me: Oh shut up.

And then I walked off with kids in tow, my oldest asking ‘what was wrong with those men?’ .... ah, the intuition of youth… Discretion probably was also the better part of valour in walking off at that point: getting beaten to a finely graded pulp in front of your kids is not really terribly cool.

True story. Truly amazing experience. Enlightening.

Should have tried Sainsburys, instead.

My hand still hurts. I think Chav 1 trapped a nerve.


January 05, 2007

Hybrid embryos

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6230945.stm

Some scientists afraid that this line of research will be blocked are blaming religious groups for their bigotry. As an atheist I want to stand up and be seen as saying that that is a cheap shot. It’s not just religious people who have strong feelings about this. It’s about whether or not we place a real value on human lives.

Or whether humans can be farmed and used as laboratory animals. Have humans simply become one more commodity to be traded and profited from?

I have nothing but sympathy for people who have uncurable diseases but we are not gods. We cannot cure every illness by applying our considerable science to it. We have to draw a line, in my opinion, between what we can treat easily and conditions that we can only treat by turning sufferers into monuments to medical engineering. Where is the dignity in long term suffering just to avoid death? We all die sooner or later and I have written before ( http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/richardstevenson/entry/planet_earth_standing/ and http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/richardstevenson/entry/how_will_you/) about the need to preserve people’s dignity in death. Why are we so afraid of death now as a society?

In the past (quite recently, too) a person who gave birth to a handicapped child would do its best to save the child, feeding it and caring for it but when it died from natural causes there would of course be grief. The point is, though, that the child would not have suffered for long and there was no long drawn out lingering death for the parents to cope with. Why can we not act like this now?

And if we value human life so much as try to act like magicians or gods and save everyone, where is the sense in farming other humans? It is a contradiction to say that it is okay that humans have no value because humans are so valuable.

Perhaps it is fine as long as someone is making some money from it.


January 02, 2007

US National Park Service under orders to suspend belief in geology

Writing about web page http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=801

In order to avoid offending Creationists who have published a book claiming that the Grand Canyon was made by Noah’s flood, this article claims that the US Grand Canyon National Park Service is presently not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature…

Is this for real?


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