To be honest, it is (as expected) a bit of a car-crash, with mixed messages, bloody awful phrasing, and no real clarity on any of it.
So for me (and, I hope, for a lot of others) I’m sticking with my own Plan A, which is to carry on doing what I was doing before.
I’m still planning on mainly using my office – which is OK (so far as I can tell) because I go from a house on my own, to a car on my own, to an office on my own, with no real human contact at all, and thus an absolutely minimal chance of catching it, or passing it on. If my office building gets too crowded then I’ll re-assess and figure out a different plan. Until then, we’ll see.
Other than that, all I’m doing is keeping myself as safe from everything as possible, and hoping that everyone else is doing the same. Really, I don’t see that there’s anything else that can be done.
Today the UK got hit by Storm Ciara – nothing in the scale of American weather and so on, but still, enough to be entertaining
Among other things, it meant that there was a record-breaking subsonic crossing of the Atlantic – just under five hours, arriving at Heathrow a full 80 minutes ahead of schedule – because of the storm’s effect on the Jetstream.
Fortunately, the area I live in wasn’t too affected – we had several trees come down and so on, but they were all apparently cleared away pretty quickly, and a couple of trucks on the M1 were blown over, which must make life interesting. However, other areas were hit far harder, with some winds over 90mph, as well as flooding and so on.
Thankfully, I wasn’t doing much today. I had thought I was back down in London to see a play, but it turned out that is actually on a different day/weekend completely. And I can’t deny, I’m really quite pleased about that.
I’m really not surprised that there are now some calls to do a safety review of the “Smart Motorways” concept. It’s a particular source of interest as I travel on the M1 on a regular basis, and that’s one of the roads that will be looked at.
The concept of Smart Motorways ( flexible speed limits, the ability to make the hard shoulder into a running lane at peak times ) is a decent one, but it also missed out a couple of key factors.
The first – and most important – of those is that a huge number of drivers are fucking idiots, and have no idea how to handle the flexibility of the hard shoulder. I’ve lost count of the number of times I can see the hard shoulder being in use – with signs saying so every quarter-mile or so – and no-one using it. (Admittedly, I tend to then use it and make progress past idiots, but I’d rather see the lane being used correctly) And of course there’s also a significant number of drivers who won’t even use the inside lane, preferring to stay in the middle one, overtaking fuck-all for mile after mile, which also screws things up.
The second factor is that they didn’t seem to think about what happens when someone does have a breakdown or an accident, it necessitates at least a full lane closure (because there’s no hard shoulder to get in to) which screws the traffic up worse than it used to. Yes, there are refuge areas off the main running lanes, but there was a stat (which I can’t find in a story right now) that only something like 30-35% of breakdowns manage to get to the refuge areas rather than stopping in the live lane.
So yes, I’m not surprised that they’ll probably be getting reviewed – I do think they’re a good idea in general, but at the same time I don’t think they’re all that suitable for UK drivers, primarily because of some of their apparently unique behavioural traits.
In the news today, a survey (admittedly, of only 8,000-ish people) lists WHSmith as the worst retailer, for the second year running.
Which doesn’t surprise me – to be honest, the only thing that ever surprises me about WHSmith is that they continue to keep trading. They’ve been in my retail dead pool for about a decade now, and they keep stumbling on.
Personally, I rarely (if ever) darken the doors of a WHSmith. They simply don’t do what I want to buy, there are plenty of places that are cheaper/better, and (to me) most of the stores look dull and dirty. I’m not saying they are dull and dirty, but they look it – again, to me.
The most recent example of this was a couple of weekends ago, I was in a place I’d not been before, and they had a big WHSmith store. But from the outside, the lighting inside was so dull that it looked as though the store wasn’t actually open. Just grim.
The thing that interested me in the story was this :
Every week we serve three million customers in our 600 UK High Street stores
That doesn’t seem like a very big figure, to be honest. So I worked it out.
3,000,000 divided between 600 stores is 5,000 customers per store. Per week. Which isn’t much.
And then you average it out over the seven days of the week – I’ll round it up to the nearest whole, as .25 of a person is ridiculous – and you get 715 people per store per day. Which really isn’t a lot. I can’t see how those numbers all the stores to break even, let alone make a profit.
I truly don’t understand how they stay in business
While in general I despise politics and politicians, I also always vote. It’s my right to do so, and I fully believe that everyone who can vote should vote – and that if they don’t, they have no room to gripe about what’s happened in politics.
Yesterday’s local elections were the first time I’ve ever been so apathetic about it that I honestly could’ve not bothered.
Thing was, it seemed like even the candidates couldn’t be arsed – I didn’t even get any leaflets dropped through the door, let alone any visits.
Sadly, my local council is a pretty safely Conservative (as it turned out, that’s still true, but it’s a lot more precarious than it was) and my useless ballbag of an MP regularly gets re-elected by a decent majority. So it was never likely that anything interesting would occur with my council – which also increased my apathy on the “even voting won’t change anything” score.
All told, I don’t quite know what can happen to fix things and increase the voter buy-in. The current situation is just dire, with no real sign of any light at the end of the tunnel.
Last week, I was as surprised as everyone else to hear that the chef Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide.
Bourdain was a huge influence on the catering world – you only have to read the many obituaries (including this one) to see the influence he had, and the respect in which he was held.
Depression and suicide are bastards. They make you think you’re not worth anything, make you think the world won’t miss you, make you insignificant. They’re lying bastards.
Twitter and Facebook have been full of people expressing shock, and making depression and mental health a subject to speak about, to help remove the stigma around it all, and make more people aware of how prevalent these things really are.
If nothing else good comes out of the deaths of celebrities, then at least it’s making people talk, making mental health normalised and spoken about. And that can’t be a bad legacy really, can it?
Over the last week or so, there’s been an incredible amount of news coverage about the (alleged) ‘attempted assassination’ of an Russian ex-spy in Salisbury.
Today, the news has been full of stuff about how the nerve-agent used ‘points the finger at Moscow’, which just pings all the ‘yeah, but’ bells in my head.
Now, I’m not trying to say “Russia wasn’t involved”, because I simply don’t know. But… this sort of “well it must’ve been them, they’re the ones who made it” ‘evidence’ and hype always makes me a bit twitchy. If you extrapolate that, you might as well say that a car manufacturer must be responsible for every accident on the road, “because they’re the ones who made it”.
I don’t know enough on this one way or the other. But if I were a player on a much larger political stage, and I wanted to (for example) divert public and media attention away from one ongoing political clusterfuck, and point it all somewhere else, I’d be looking at making a Big Bad Enemy that can be blamed for Why You Should Be Afraid. And I’d probably work to either get materials that can be attributed to that Big Bad Enemy, or… well, or just make up all that ‘evidence’. Because of course it’s all ‘top secret’ and ‘in the interests of national security’, so they’re never going to produce that evidence in public anyway.
And it’s impossible to imply that only Russia had access to this stuff. If nothing else, American scientists (and there’s no way there weren’t security/agency personnel in that entourage!) visited and helped decontaminate the plant where the nerve agents in question were being produced. If they were approved for Russian military use (and they were) then those nerve agents would’ve been distributed to army installations and so on. All too easy at that point for them to be ‘mislaid’ and/or sold or stolen to anyone else.
All told, this entire story stinks, and rings very much as “A big boy did it, and ran away!” It’s all just a bit convenient.