Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Shameless Self-Promotion

January 8, 2011


Coming soon…

pudding cover

In the meantime, here is some light music.


In any case, temperatures will rise.

December 24, 2010

Yes, yes. Snow everywhere. Freezing cold. Pretty terrible, eh? Ice and minus temperatures. And it is pretty terrible. My drainpipe outside the house is frozen. Can’t use my bath. In a scientific experiment conducted today, I found that it takes at least three washing up bowls of water to clean the most significant parts of the Stephen. My boiler died, and was resurrected. My old cat died, probably because the boiler did. But no change of resurrection for her.

And yet. As Simon Jenkins said, the weather has been amazing. Clear blue skies, the world made white. An almost Scandinavian winter, in fact. And I don’t see much wrong with that.

And yet, and but. I’m biased. Here on the Clyde Riviera the freezing has been relatively mild. We haven’t been buried under deep snowdrifts, like the east of Scotland. We haven’t been plunged into a deep freeze, like parts further inland.

That’s your Scandinavian winter.

And looking back over my Flickr pictures, I see it’s only been a month since this cold weather arrived. Only a month, but it feels like the whole winter already. Could I handle this for a whole winter? I don’t know.

And I may not need to find out; coming in from the Atlantic is either a shit-load of rain, or snow. But in any case, temperatures will rise. Eventually. And I’ll miss the world made white, and the roads made quiet and slow.

Improvements ordered after 2007 rail crash not yet fulfilled – Herald Scotland | News | Transport & Environment

October 1, 2009

Improvements ordered after 2007 rail crash not yet fulfilled – Herald Scotland | News | Transport & Environment:

“Network Rail said that there was no indication that the crossing in Halkirk, Caithness, was not functioning properly at the time of the accident.

The unmanned crossing is governed by a warning lighting system, which changes from flashing orange to flashing red roughly 30 seconds before a train is due to pass. One resident who lives close to the level crossing said, that on Tuesday afternoon, he heard the loud klaxon sound which indicates an oncoming train – and then the loud bang of the crash.”

Oh dear. If this is true these people drove straight into the path of a train through a correctly functioning crossing. That’s obviously the railway’s fault…

This keeps happening

September 6, 2009

Police have appealed for witnesses after a motorcyclist was seriously injured in a one-vehicle crash in the Highlands.

via BBC NEWS | Scotland | Highlands and Islands | Biker seriously injured in crash.

There are regular appeals for witnesses after crashes. And there are regular crashes. A guy crashed into me a couple of years ago. Despite the police attending, and it being reported in the local press that the guy in question was driving without insurance and disqualified, nothing ever happened. I certainly wasn’t called as an, um, witness. Or offered compensation. Or an apology.

And I regularly witness driving that could easily result in an accident, as long suffering followers of my Twitter account will know.

So, here’s an immodest proposal. The police need more evidence following crashes, and many people need a little something to keep them honest (and safe).

Each and every vehicle should carry a black box. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Just a GPS receiver and an accelerometer would do; though fancy ones could be linked to the car’s instruments and controls, or have video cameras fore and aft. The box might retain a weeks worth of stuff, or it might keep the ten minutes up to a violent acceleration (ie crash). Doesn’t really matter. The box could be sealed, or the driver could download (but not delete) data as they chose. Doesn’t really matter.

To maintain a modicum of privacy, the police would be allowed to seize said boxes after an incident, but not to read them; they’d need a court order for that, along the lines of a search warrant.

Of course many people would object to this, but I think the benefits outweigh the costs. People would know that if they did something wrong, it would be pretty obvious what had happened. People who hadn’t done anything wrong would have some evidence to back them up. And everyone would have a wee electronic conscience, keeping them safe and on the right sight of the law.

Many people have event recorders of this type already. They’re called sat-navs.

I aitn’n’t dead

August 19, 2009

That is all.

but you don’t have the right to know that either

April 27, 2009

BBC NEWS | Politics | Plan to monitor all internet use
Ms Smith said that while the new system could record a visit to a social network, it would not record personal and private information such as photos or messages posted to a page.
“What we are talking about is who is at one end [of a communication] and who is at the other – and how they are communicating,” she said.


March 3, 2009

Transport Briefing — UK transport news, data and jobs

UKs longest road tunnel breaks through at Hindhead

Filed 02/03/09

Construction of the UKs longest road tunnel under land, near Hindhead in Surrey, is a step closer to completion after the tunnel excavations from the north and south met deep under the Surrey Hills.

The breakthrough to link the two tunnels is a milestone for the £371m project and was witnessed by transport minister Paul Clark. When complete, the A3 road tunnel will provide uninterrupted dual carriageway from London to Portsmouth and reduce traffic at a notorious bottleneck.

Approximately 30,000 vehicles a day will be taken away from the Surrey Hills – instead travelling deep beneath this protected landscape. The scheme will divert a length of 6.7km some four miles of the existing A3 Portsmouth Road on to a new alignment, with a 1.8km section about 1.25 miles that passes under the Devils Punch Bowl, placed in a twin bore tunnel, associated side roads and private access alterations, and the detrunking of a superseded section of the existing A3.

If it’s good enough for the Surrey hills, surely it’s good enough for the A82 between Tarbet and Ardlui?

blue sky thinking

February 6, 2009

Snow storms highlight the need for third Heathrow runway, says ABTA
ABTA has argued that this weeks snow storms have again highlighted the need for a third runway at Heathrow airport.

Following the blizzards on Sunday night, which left up to eight inches of snow in the south east, 868 inbound and outbound flights from the airport were cancelled on the Monday while on the Tuesday a further 173 flights were pulled.

It was only by Wednesday that normality returned to the airport, a situation which ABTA believes will be largely avoided in the future once the third runway has been built.

A spokesman said: “This weeks snow brings us back to the issue of capacity. Every time you have a large number of cancellations because of different issues at Heathrow airport you get a knock-on effect.

“Obviously if you had a third runway any backlogs could be cleared quicker.”

Uh, no? You can either use a third runway to improve reliability, at the cost of capacity, or you can thrash it to within a slot of its capacity, at, as we all know, the cost of reliability when the weather goes wrong. Or anything goes wrong, for that matter. Thinking you can have both is wishful thinking.

If there’s more planes, there’s more backlog, and there’s no net benefit to having the extra runway.

It seems quite clear to me that the intention is to, uh, maximise revenue from Runway 3. Why build all that extra terminal capacity otherwise?

Floating on a sea of dreams

January 26, 2009

Plan To Launch Waterbus Service On Clyde from The Herald
Waterbuses similar to those plying the waters dividing New York could succeed if introduced to the River Clyde, with demand growing as the number of destinations increase, a year-long study has found.

The £100,000 report, which looked at similar operations in Amsterdam, Sydney, New York, London and Hamburg, found that a Clyde waterbus or ferry service between Glasgow city centre and Rothesay on Bute would attract both commuters and leisure customers.

It could even extend to Arrochar, at the top end of Loch Long, and revitalise Clydeside towns such as Bowling, which has been identified as an interchange for the vessels.

This slightly silly idea has been floating around for ages. I’ve noticed that it’s particularly popular with people who refuse to believe in the existence of a railway network in this country. Note that pretty much every destination mentioned in the news story already has a rail connection.

Now, of course additional ferry services would be great. A usable Helensburgh-Kilcreggan-Gourouck ferry would rock, for example. And I’ve long advocated, to anyone who would listen, the idea of a ferry link between Kintyre and Ayrshire.

But creating a whole second ferry service from Rothsay… one that’s slower than the present system? That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. And do these guys realise just how long Loch Long is?


January 23, 2009

BBC NEWS | Politics | We will fight recession – Brown
At the time of Novembers pre-Budget report, the chancellor said he expected the economy to grow again before the end of 2009 but our correspondent said this analysis now looked “outdated”.


And this will keep happening while people fantasise that they can somehow predict the future.