D4D

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Archive for the category “Cynicism”

Incompetents (Part Two)

Following on from the other post about people (or at least politicians) not thinking things through, the other one is/was about the EU’s new plan for all new cars to be fitted with speed limiters from 2022.

Speed limiters are – in some circumstances – a really good idea.  If the limiting was in place for areas with lower speed limits – the areas with speed limits of 20,30, 40, and perhaps even 50mph – then that would be good. I see so many people speeding in those areas.  I still think it’d have its problems, but this would at least help.  (I’ve said before that I have my reservations on this in the 50mph average speed limit areas currently in place on a lot of motorway work areas)

If, however, it’s something that is brought in universally, for all roads at all limits, then it’s idiotic – and again, shows a lack of understanding when it comes to people, business, cars, driving, and umpteen other things.

The first thing that occurred to me when I heard this was that a goodly portion of police (or council) funding is generated or paid for via speeding fines and the like. If speeding is hugely reduced by automation and limiters, where will that money and funding  be coming from?

For another thing, if everything is limited to the national speed limit, it’ll reduce people’s desire/drive to pay more for larger/faster vehicles. If you can get a basic [car model]  that’ll do everything and can go up to the speed limit where it’s limited, why would you pay two or three times the price for a performance version of the same [car model] that can’t do anything extra, that can’t go faster or perform better?   (Personally I don’t see much point in these super-performance models anyway, but that’s not the point here)

Again, I like the idea of auto-limiting speeds/cars in slower and busier areas. But making it a universal solution seems to have missed a fair number of knock-on issues, with no clues or hints about how to actually fix them.

Incompetents (Part One)

There’ve been a couple of times in the last week where I’ve been surprised by how little some people understand things – which is kind of surprising, considering what low expectations I have of people in general.

The first of these surprises was with Tom Watson (MP) blithering on about how McDonalds should cancel their Monopoly promotion this year.  In and of itself, it’s not a bad idea – I’m no fan of McDonalds, and their Monopoly thing definitely encourages people to buy/eat more than they usually would.

However, Watson’s announcement was made the day before the promotion launched. By that time all the necessary materials have been prepared, printed, distributed, all the ads have been made and booked, and it would be almost impossible to cancel the promotion.   And there seemed to be no real understanding of that.

If the press release had been a couple of weeks later, and was aimed at getting McDonalds to stop using it after the current promotion then that would’ve made more sense. (Not a lot more sense admittedly, since even a rudimentary Wikipedia search will tell you it’s been an annual promotion since 1987, but there’s always a chance that they might do something else, if a new idea could come up that would work equally well as a promotional tool)

All told, it just showed (in my opinion) that it was all just a “This is bad, OK?” press-release, with no real thought or understanding of the business (and marketing) processes underneath it.

 

Ambivalent

This year is currently a weird one for me with regards to the Festering Season.

Usually by now I’m totally done with it, had enough, and generally pretty fucked off with the entire thing.

This year, though, I’m just ambivalent about it. And I don’t actually know why.

We’re still being faced with the same inanity and vapid bullshit on TV adverts and the like. We’ve had Christmas Shit™ (cards, confectionary, blah blah) in the shops since September. Now we’re in December they’re playing sodding christmas carols and tunes in the shops and on the radio, and various fuckwits are already blithering about “It’s christmas”. (No it’s fucking not, it’s just December)

And on the face of that paragraph, you’d think I am hating it. But I’m not. I still feel the same, that it is all crap and bollocks, but it’s not enraging me this year the same way it has in the past.

It annoys me that I don’t know why it’s not annoying me as much as usual.  But I’m also not going to complain – in some ways it’s quite nice to be a wee bit more tolerant of the whole farce than usual.

I don’t like (let alone love) the season and what it does to people – and I honestly doubt I ever will. But at least this year I also don’t hate it the same way I usually do.

Laziness and Safety

I regularly drive through Woburn, and at least a couple of times a week I’m amazed at how lazy people are, even when it comes to their own safety.

In the case of Woburn, there are two zebra crossings within a very short stretch of road. There are good reasons for this – the road is usually busy, and fairly fast. But people still cross away from the crossings, where it’s apparently “more convenient” rather than walking a tiny way to the crossing where cars *have* to stop for pedestrians…

The first one looks like this…

image (C) Google Streetmap

This is where most people cross – and you can see the markings for the zebra crossing at the top of the photo (the zig-zags, for non-UK readers) Note also that this is just after a busy crossroads, so has any number of vehicles coming round corners and paying far more attention to other vehicles than to pedestrians. I measured it on Google Maps – it’s 30 metres from here to the crossing. Not even a minute’s walk.  (I’ll also note that all the people avoiding the crossing are able-bodied, so it’s not like they can’t walk that distance.)

The second one (slightly further up the road from here, after a tight choke-point and just round the corner so out of view from this one) looks like this

image (C) Google Streetmap

This one is a bit harder to see – it’s a bit further, at 45m from where people actually cross – but it’s still there, with markings visible across the road.  Here, people cross from the pub to the hotel and back – and again, with parked cars on the right, an extremely tight road with drivers focusing on squeezing through rather than on pedestrians, people trying to park (or turn into the various lanes and archways along this bit) rather than walking that 45m to be able to do so safely.

I know people in general are lazy bastards and so on, but really, it utterly amazes me just how many (and even more so at school times, as there’s a school just back from where this shot is taken) are prepared to ‘save’ time waiting for a space in traffic and then risk their all to cross the road, rather than walking that tiny distance to do so safely (and actually usually more quickly than waiting for that gap!)

I don’t know if they don’t see the crossing, that they’re blinkered to just going straight across the road instead, or if they’re all just fuckwit examples of Darwinism waiting to happen.  Either way, it is (to me) a gobsmacking way to live.

Gutless

As part of my whole weight/fitness thing, I’ve been going once a week to a programme called Gutless for the last twelve weeks.

It’s been an interesting programme, basically one two hour evening session a week, which consists of one hour of physical exercise, and one of information and chat about food and nutrition.

For me, the exercise has been of more use and interest than the food and nutrition stuff (as I learned more for exercise techniques etc. than I did for the food/nutrition) but it’s all been a generally positive programme.

As with other things I’ve been trying this year, it hasn’t been as successful as I’d have hoped – for me, at least – but in general it appears to have worked well for the other members of the group.

For me, it’s given me extra ideas and stuff to do, as well as knowledge of better workouts and so on, I’ll take that knowledge and go forwards with it as well, so it has been a positive process.

I’m glad I’ve done the course – and the workout/exercise side is going to be continuing on as a separate programme we’ve worked out with the instructor from the programme – and we’ll see how things work out going forwards.

All told, I’m happy with how it’s been. I’d be happier if the weight loss had been better and so on, but I know that it’s also helped me make other positive changes, and right now that’ll do me.

Labelling

This week, I’ve found myself actually shocked by the news stories about Pret a Manger and their labelling – and more relevantly, the whole story about the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to unlabelled sesame in a Pret sandwich.

The inquest into Natasha’s death was this week – she died two years ago – which is why it’s been in the news this week.

It turns out that the UK’s Food Regulations 2014 have an exception that allows freshly handmade, non pre-packaged food to not be individually labelled – which is the loophole that allowed Pret to get away with not labelling each sandwich individually. To me, that’s disgraceful. The loophole was (understandably) intended for small sandwich bars etc. to not be constrained by huge amounts of red tape. It’s not intended for large commercial efforts. (Although of course they’ve taken advantage of it)

Even worse, Natasha isn’t even the first person to have died as a result of this mis-labelling or lack of information.

All told though, two things in the whole sorry story left me utterly gobsmacked and despairing of people and corporations.

The first was how badly the staff on the flight handled Natasha’s allergic reaction. The doctor who attended to her wasn’t made aware of all the equipment on the plane, and also that “because Natasha went into cardiac arrest as the plane was landing, it would have been unsafe to retrieve the defibrillator from the back of the plane, where it was stored, while Natasha was being tended to at the front” (that quote is from the Guardian story)  I mean really, for fuck’s sake, how robotic and uncaring do you have to be, to go “Nope, I’m not going to get that, we’ve got to be prepared for landing the plane”?

The second thing – and to me, the worst – is the timescales involved. Pret a Manger knew about this issue when Natasha died. Two years ago.  Yet it’s only now, once the coroner has finished the inquest, that they say “We’ll look at changing our labels“. That’s two years where they’ve known about the problem, and have done nothing. I wonder what the reaction would/will be if someone else turns out to have died for the same reason within that time.

I assume there’s been some corporate legal bullshit going on that says that if they changed the labels before the inquest, they’d be acknowledging they were liable, or some such.  Thing is, they were – and are – liable. If the labels had been in place, she wouldn’t have taken that sandwich, and wouldn’t have died. How on earth can that be anything other than being responsible for her death?

Debtor’s Tales

This week I read the story on the BBC of a woman whose father committed suicide because of his debts. It’s an interesting piece – but, having been through that process, there’s something just Not Quite Right about it too.

I know lots of people – particularly middle-aged men – hide their heads in the sand when it comes to debts and so on, in the seeming hope that it’ll all just go away. (Spoiler Alert – It never does)

In this case, the man ended up being declared bankrupt by the local council, as he couldn’t keep up payments having missed one. (And the council behaved shockingly badly, even for local authorities – I know that if I’ve ever had a problem, I’ve got in touch and it’s all been easily sorted. But of course, you have to get in touch)

According to the story, once he missed a payment, the council billed him for the whole year at once. (Again, I’ve received that letter, but then got in touch and got it sorted down to a new monthly amount that accounted for the missed payment to be spread over the remaining payments)  He couldn’t afford the full year, so just didn’t pay anything – and kept on not paying anything.  (There is also a quite stunning degree of stupidity going on here, but I do semi-understand the mindset)

Where I get really twitchy about the story, though, is after he’s declared bankrupt.  Supposedly, the court-appointed trustees for the debt – and this is where he and I differ, in that he was declared bankrupt by someone else, where I declared myself – super-loaded the entire thing with extra charges, which is something that simply didn’t happen with my own Payments Agreement.  From the article…

Straight away he was charged £3,800 in something called “statutory interest”, which took his debt to about £15,500. But that was just the start. Over the next three years my dad actually paid £15,000 to the trustees appointed to collect the debt – the accounting and consultancy firm, BDO – but over the same period the bill from the trustees grew to £72,000.

(c) BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-45581526

Whatever was happening, that was iniquitous – but I don’t know what it was about.  When I got my agreement, it was the amount remaining from my income after all the bills and expenses had gone.  I paid that amount for three years, and that was it. No further charges, no ‘statutory interest’, nothing. The only other thing I had had to pay was the court fees, which came to £700-odd, from memory. That was it. 

Yes, I paid any extra income for three years – but that figure was set at the start of the process, and only changed if my situation did. The entire process was clean, fair, and the best thing I ever did.  Obviously I’d have preferred to not be in the situation where I needed to go through that process, but there we go – hindsight is a wonderful thing on that score.

So yes, it’s a terrible story of what happened to this man. But there’s also a lot that’s not being said, or that (in my humble opinion) needs further exploration.

But as always, the biggest thing to say about it all is that the help is there – so long as you make the effort to find it, to keep in touch, to talk to the right people.  If you just hide away then it’ll all keep on coming back, bigger, nastier and more brutal than before.  There’s no escaping this sort of shit, it just gets worse if you hide from it.

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