Six Weeks and Counting

Last night (well, technically this morning, as it happened at 00:01) the UK Parliament was dissolved, in preparation for the General Election on May 7th.

So that’s six weeks of most televised news coverage/programmes, with pontificating ballbags – both politicians and commentators/experts/specialists spouting loads of crap from all the available parties about what they promise to do for the next few years (and almost certainly won’t actually do, once they get in)

As with the run-up to the Festering Season, I’m going to try and avoid as much of it as possible.

I will do (and have been doing) my own reading on who to vote for – mainly by using the actual party’s websites, but also this outline guide, which is vaguely handy – who to support and who not.

I’m still considering (and at this point strongly considering) doing my own party for the next General Election, and seeing how things go. It could be entertaining – which is more than I can say for the next six weeks of bullshit…


Knackers

ScroogeAmong the things that have amused me today, the image on this BBC story about German Christmas Markets made me chuckle.

After all, how many times do you get to see the word “Knacker” on the BBC? And particularly in connection to the whole Festering Season…

Knackers to German Christmas Markets

Knackers to German Christmas Markets

It probably says a lot about my mindset that it was the word ‘Knacker’ that I noticed first out of the entire thing…


Statistics

On the news last night, there was a story about how rural roads are more dangerous/deadly than motorways (which just makes sense to me – of which more in a minute) and one of their illustrations of this was this road sign

road_statsThis is supposedly a sign from “one of the more dangerous roads” – but 43 injuries in 3 years equates to 14 (point 3-recurring) deaths a year. That’s just over one a month. Not quite such a scary figure…  The same goes with 4 deaths in three years – just over 1 a year.

I don’t know if my viewpoint is a rarity, but I look at a statistic like that, and tend to think “I’ll go with those odds”.

And now, about those stats in the first place…

The stats in the story are :

  • 3 people a day die on rural roads
  • That’s 11 times more deaths than on motorways

To me, that all makes sense, for a number of reasons – including…

  • On motorways, people drive faster – but (in general) pay more attention when doing so. Sure, there’s still idiots – there’s idiots everywhere – but in general people are paying a bit more attention on motorways.
  • People definitely pay less attention – and drive worse – on non-motorway roads.
  • But also – on motorways, everyone’s going in the same direction. It’s *far* harder to have a head-on collision at speed on a motorway.
  • The speeds are higher, but with everyone going in the same direction, it also reduces the relevant impact speed. A head-on is the sum of the two impact speeds – so two cars hitting head-on at 60mph is an impact speed of 120mph. Even if you’ve got someone at 70 on a motorway hitting a stationary vehicle, that’s an impact speed of 70.
  • It’s not the same factor if you were to crash into someone ahead of you (for example) because they’re still going forward at 60-70mph anyway, so – as I understand it – if you’re going 70mph, and hit someone going at 60mph, the *impact* speed is 10mph – the difference, rather than the sum.

The other key factor is that I’m willing to bet that there’s one hell of a lot more miles of rural road in the UK than Motorway. In 2005, the DfT’s report said that the UK has 2,202 miles (3,523 km) of motorways.  According to this document, the UK’s motorways account for 1% – ONE PERCENT – of the total road space/distance.  So again, 11 times more deaths on roads that account for 99 times the road mileage.

All told, it’s just bad stats and shitty journalism

 


Publicity

Over the last few weeks, there’s been a whole load of stuff talked about IS (AKA Islamic State, Isal, or ISIS) – both stuff about hostages held by IS (and the killing thereof) as well as politicians saying how people who go to fight for IS in Syria and the like are just Wrong.

Maybe I’m missing something, but surely if you don’t want people to go and fight for IS etc., there’s a few things that could be done ?

  1. Don’t keep feeding them the oxygen of publicity. The more they’re mentioned, the more they’re talked about and covered in the media, the more they’ll be seen as an attractive option by those of a certain persuasion / defective nature.
  2. If you feel they have to be publicised, you do the same as happened to the IRA, where no spokesman was allowed to be broadcast, any statement was done by an actor’s voice, so on and so forth.
  3. And make sure you don’t show anything but disgust for them. Fuck impartiality, allow presenters etc. to show what they think. Make it clear, say “The terrorist organisation IS has done this, but that’s the most we’ll say about it”.

If you take away the glamour of the organisation, stop feeding them airtime and headlines, they’ll stop being popular.

Of course, the other thing that can be done is to stop focussing on, and alienating, those sectors of the populace, making them feel that the country is against them.

As an example of that, I’ve a colleague who happens to have the surname Ahmed. He flies a lot for the company at the moment, and has been told – in no uncertain terms – “Oh, your name makes sure you’ll never be on the accelerated access programme to get back into the UK”.  That’s a completely law-abiding, tax-paying, UK-resident, UK-born person, who now feels more victimised than he has any right to.

But of course as a nation, we’re not letting terrorists win.  Riiiight.


Scottish Independence

In a few day’s time, Scotland will be voting on whether they should become independent from the United Kingdom.

Personally, I don’t give much of a damn either way on this one, if I’m honest.

However, I do think it would be a more interesting referendum if it had been a UK-wide question, rather than asked just to the Scots.

Anyway – regardless of the outcome, what I hope is that there is a clear and large margin between the Yes and No votes.  I don’t want to see it being 49 to 51 or whatever – because then it’ll just end up with more fighting, that the people who are in that ‘minority’ (that’s still just under half, and thus makes for one heck of a lot of people) feel they’re being forced by the other half to do what they don’t want to.

If it’s a 75 to 25 in either direction – maybe even a 60/40 split then it’s harder to argue the toss at all.

Mind you, the cynic in me really wants to see it split 50/50, and see what happens then.


Interesting Start

On the way to work this morning, I was confronted by road closures and the after-effects of this crash.

Fairly serious – and the damage all looked pretty grim – so I hope all are OK in it.

[Update : As it turns out, they weren’t. One fatal (a motorcyclist)]


Unbalanced

In today’s news, there’s (yet another) ceasefire in Gaza.

I’m neither pro-Palestine or pro-Israeli – personally, I think the entire thing is insane.

But what really gets me is the inequality of the body count.  From the article…

Gaza officials say the four-week conflict has killed 1,800 Palestinians. Some 67 Israelis have also died.

That’s just over 26 Gazans killed for every Israeli killed. And that’s disgraceful.

I seem to recall that at the start of this, the Gazans had killed one – yes, one – Israeli, for something like 200 Gazans. And I just can’t see that having one dead person is an excuse to go and re-invade a country and effectively declare war.