Monday, October 26, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ask Not

I am no lover of the BNP or of Nick Griffin. I fact I find them fairly abhorrent. However I don't think that the BBC can be criticised for having him on Question Time. They have been condemned for giving him credence, for acknowledging him. Unfortunately the system has already done that. It wasn't the BBC. If it is legal for the BNP to run in elections, if the BNP can have members voted successfully as MEPs, then we have to recognise them. We can ask oourselves why, we can wonder why lessons haven't been learned previously, we can despair. But we have to open our eyes and see that people are voting for them. We have to see that somewhere our society is messing up so badly that ordinary people think that it is right and necessary to give their vote to the hatred.

The BBC has helped us face up to our fears. This is correct, we should not bury our heads in the sand. We cannot ignore what is happening. But we can expose it for what it is and remove the gloss that lies over it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mr Herriot!

What an interesting day. Long, and I now wear the unmistakeable odour of "vet" which I have not had for many years. But interesting.

I went to spend a day out with a "real" vet, ie one still in practice rather than being in industry. Normally this means I am able to lean on gates, chat to the farmer, ask the vet a few sensible questions, then go home. It was clear from the start that this particular vet thought I should get my hands dirty. The second visit was to a calving. Except it turned out that it was going to have to be a caesarian. Just as I was about to say "great, I'll grab my camera and get some photos" I suddenly saw a gown being thrown toward me and heard the vet telling me to scrub in. For a moment I thought he was joking, but the look on his face was enough to know he wasn't. So soon I found myself elbow deep in the abdomen of a cow, something I haven't done for about 9 years. Later, on another farm, I was to be found kneeling in cow s**t, collecting ejaculate from a bull. This is something I studiously avoided doing while I was in practice, so was a real shock. And I promise you, just looking at the electro-ejaculator would bring tears to your eyes.

It was all great fun. I don't want to go back in to practice, but I really enjoyed the day.

And one of the farmers was an ex-Spitfire pilot. How amazing is that!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Slow Down

A friend sent an email to the Highways Agency complaining about the variable spped signs on the M1, and that they were almost INvariably slowing down the traffic. The following is their response, and my comments are after!

Thank you for your e-mail to the Highways Agency Information Line today and thank you for taking the time to comment on our Variable Message Signs (VMS). The Highways Agency values the feedback we receive from the travelling public as this is our primary source of identifying how effective our signs are at keeping drivers informed.

On the busiest parts of the motorway network, VMS are set using an automated system called MIDAS (Motorway Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling). MIDAS uses sensors in the road to detect incidents or congestion and then automatically sets advisory reduced speeds (e.g. 60, 50, 40 mph) and warning messages (e.g. Queue Caution) on VMS.

MIDAS has a number of functions, principally safety related with queue protection being one such example. The system provides advance warning to drivers of the formation of queues on motorways, warning drivers who are approaching the back of queuing traffic. Sensors in the road surface detect slowing traffic speeds and electronic signs advise drivers to reduce speeds as they approach the scene. These messages remain until the traffic flow returns to normal and it can appear that the message is incorrect because there is no queuing traffic when you arrive at the scene.

There is also a secondary benefit to reducing the speed of vehicles approaching queuing traffic. Reducing the volume of traffic in an area of congestion means the congestion clears quicker. The result is that the traffic approaching the area where the congestion was will no longer be delayed in their journey by the congestion.

During changing traffic conditions (such as when congestion is dissipating or an incident is being cleared) there is a time lag between traffic returning to normal flows and MIDAS switching off. This is designed to prevent MIDAS switching on and off at regular intervals in stop/start conditions. In addition, MIDAS often detects slow moving vehicles (usually heavy goods vehicles on hills) and advisory speed limits are set automatically, although this may not be obvious to other motorists.

Should you have any further questions about the above issue(s) or any other Highways Agency related issue(s) please do not hesitate to contact us again via e-mail or telephone us on 0845 7 50 40 30.

So, do I think that I might have some comments. Apart from struggling to believe the MIDAS system even exists, how unsuitable is traffic flow to try and automate!

I love the fact that MIDAS will switch off once the flow returns to normal. But the flow can't return to normal if MIDAAS is on because it is telling us to go slowly. The only way flow can return to normal is for us all to think f**k this for a game of soldiers and start going faster than the signs tell us.

They even recognise that to ease congestion you need to reduce the volume of traffic. So how does slowing us all down, meaning that we spend longer in the zone, actually do that. Cars are approaching the zone at 70mph. Therefore the feed in is fast, but the flow through is slow. If I turn on taps and the water coming in is faster than that going out of the plug do you think my bath might overflow. Doesn't take a great mind to see a fault in their logic.

If feedback from the pblic is the primary source for them to identify how effective their signs are, do you think that they will now have identified that they are completely ineffective.!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

On Your Bike

There's a new poster in the mens locker room at the gym. It is of a beautiful brunette sitting on a bike exerciser in a long red flowing dress that covers the saddle area. She has a very big smile on her face. The strapline is "more pleasure, less pain".

Now do I need to get my mind out of the gutter or does anyone else see an innuendo there!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Shining Star

I am placed in a dilemma. I am a Conservative. You have already worked that one out from previous posts haven't you. So I should be pleased that The Sun has switched allegiance from Labour. This should be good news, after all it will bring a raft of new voters (like it or not The Sun has historically been shown to have great influence). But, I would have to say that this is good news through gritted teeth, as this also means my views reflect those of The Sun. Which is terrible. Unbearable. I may have to become a Lib Dem. No, actually, nothing is that bad. {Merlin gets ready to be pelted by rotten tomatoes}

Hear Ye Hear Ye

Some things can really bug me, probably to a disproportionate level. One of those is heard on the morning news, not infrequently. It is when a news item starts "x is to announce today that y will happen". Typically where x is a politician or political body and y is a new document or position paper or policy. This bugs me not because I disagree with the y (whatever it is) but because if it is a news item in the morning then IT IS ALREADY ANNOUNCED!!!!!!!!!!! The infomration is out there, in the public domain becasue we are being told about it. x can't then announce it, all they can do is explain it in greater detail. Arrgh