Archive for March, 2010

Doing the Government’s Job For Them

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Rantings, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , on March 31, 2010 by awickerman

While looking for new car insurance these terrifying goons offered a quote. The deal being they will fit you with a tracking box so they know how many miles you do and charge accordingly. Looking into the FAQ it emerges that there are ‘peak times’ they charge you double for (so it’s time and distance logging) and that it it also works as an anti-theft device (so real time capable).

Is it just me that finds that alarming? That people will voluntarily let a random company put a tracking box into their car that will know where they are, where they’ve been, when and how fast they were going. Because you just know it wont be long till the government will demand the police have full access to these devices  for counter-terrorism reason or the ‘war on speed’ or just because ‘the innocent have nothing to hide’, which remains one of the most terrifying phrases in the English language.

About the only silver lining is that the next government can’t be as authoritarian and anti-civil liberties as Labour without actually being dictators, but I’m not sure it will be enough. If people will volunteer for this sort of stuff I doubt enough fuss can be kicked up to stop it.

And the worst part about it? Well, tempted as I was by their bald statement that they own the box “but you have our permission to have the box in your car” (must be a contender for cheeky bastard of the year clause) I think this must be a winner;

Q.21 If I decide I want to change from coverbox in the future do I have to pay to get the box removed?
A.21 No, we can just leave the box in your car.
So they will continue to track you but you don’t even get the benefit of cheap insurance or an anti-theft device. And you can’t easily (or indeed legally) remove it because (a) they wont tell you where it is and (b) they still own it and haven’t given you permission to remove their device from your car.

Next time you wonder why people aren’t fussed about ID cards or a national DNA database just remember this.

Perspective? Bob’s heard of it.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 30, 2010 by awickerman

Never let it be said the RMT lack a sense of perspective. Because sacking station staff who sit on their arse all night is exactly the same as the holocaust.

Fuckmonkeys the lot of them.

Inappropriate Songs for a Wedding #8

Posted in Inappropriate Songs for a Wedding with tags on March 21, 2010 by awickerman

Thanks to the joys of automatic possibly related post generation this link appeared at the end of last weeks inappropriate song post. Frankly I wasn’t aware there were that many special wedding music moments and wondered which band could provide that many songs that shouldn’t be played. While there are many candidates this week’s winners are AC/DC who can inappropriately score your entire wedding should you so desire;

  • Prelude – Hell’s Bells
  • Processional – Highway to Hell
  • Bridal Processional – Sink the Pink
  • Interlude – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
  • Recessional – Are You Ready?
  • First Dance – Shake Your Foundations
  • Cutting the Cake – T.N.T.
  • Garter and Bouquet Toss – Satellite Blues
  • Last Dance – You Shook Me All Night Long
  • Getaway – For Those About to Rock

A bit patchy in terms of inappropriateness but frankly who wouldn’t enjoy that wedding?

An Ignoble 2010 Candidate

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, And thus the Mystery was solved Watson! with tags , , , , on March 21, 2010 by awickerman

A bare 10 years of hard work has produced the shocking result that people go slower around roundabouts when it’s dark and rainy. For an added media-friendly twist they’ve managed to somehow link this to climate change. Apparently designers should bear this in mind, though buggered if I can see how, cover roundabouts in giant umbrellas perhaps?

However my favourite part lurks at the bottom, the contact is Simon Fullalove.

Shock, Horror, Abscence of Surprise!

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , on March 19, 2010 by awickerman

So the RMT strike has (just) got a vote for strike action. Closer than I expected, maybe the signallers aren’t as stupid as Bob Crow hoped. Anyway to the beginning of this tale;

The maintainers strike was never going to go anywhere, if nothing else who’d notice? Last time they went on strike a 100% service ran. This is a shame as they have something of a case, while their working practices are terrible and they do have an abject fear of technology sadly neither of those things are uncommon in the rail industry. Everyone is scared of change, because change might mean an increase in liability and while the RMT is legally immune from prosecution (well as long as Labour are in power anyway) no-one else is. Given a choice between risking court and spending someone elses money what would you choose?

However this massive and endless rise in costs has finally gone too high, hence these cuts which probably are needed. What is dodgy is the pace and planning of these changes, for a good (if pro-RMT) summary go here. While this may seem out of character given the above fear of change remember the key here is to avoid liability not safety. No-one, not Network Rail and certainly not the RMT is that bothered about accidents, if it was really important there would have been big changes years ago (yes individuals do care but as organisations they don’t.) These changes, while they may be rushed and ill-planned, do not increase the liability of management and so are fine.

So that’s the background. What happened today was that the RMT announced the signallers were going to come out as well. Sure it was close, with just 54% in favour on a 71% turnout you could argue that in fact most members either didn’t want to strike or couldn’t be bothered to vote, but such facts are frankly irrelevant. The important thing is the strike is legally supported and happily coincides with the the ineffectual maintainers strike, almost like it was arranged. Which it was as Bob Crow has near as dammit admitted, thus making it technically Secondary Action and therefore illegal.

Will the police investigate this breach of the law? Of course not! As we’ve seen above the RMT is immune from prosecution, the pesky laws only apply to management and other people. Instead I predict a climbdown from Network Rail on both issues and Bob Crow grinning triumphantly. It will not be pretty, it will not be cheap and it will still end in misery for the travelling public because these things always do.

The Joy of a Colossal Cheese Grater

Posted in Almost Beyond Words with tags , , on March 18, 2010 by awickerman

It’s that time of the year, the eagerly awaited some-firm-I-forget Skyscraper of the year award! Actually technically speaking it was that time about a month ago, but hey it’s only just made the engineering update emails. If this is a reflection of the laziness of the updaters or the fact no-one thinks the awards are important I know not. But anyway to the awards.

While the winner itself is dull, being basically just another glass and steel tower, second place is funky. Best of all it’s actually happened unlike other crazy ideas. It is, of course, a stupid idea and will doubtless never be filled, there are far too many skyscrapers in Dubai already. But where as the 800m tall Burj Khalifa is merely over-compensation on a colossal scale and thus tiresomely boastful the O-14 is so strange as to be joyous.

As Dubai collapses in a pit of bankruptcy, mainly due to expensive dick waving such as giant empty towers, few will mourn their ostentatious cash splurging and casual contempt for the basics. I however will miss the occasional gems of madness that sneaked through, the strange joys you get when there is far, far more money than sense.

One of Constructions Great Questions

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Rantings with tags , , , on March 17, 2010 by awickerman

There are many great questions in construction, but one that does tend to crop up fairly regularly is  why do socialist governments like teasing the construction industry with the promise of vast amounts of lucrative work from a credulous client (i.e. themselves) through some form of national investment bank? (A subsidiary question is why do they always chose similar names for these schemes?) This is a worldwide left wing phenomenon that’s been going on for years, see Australia, America and of course the politburo of Comrade Brown, yet there is no answer to the conundrum.

This idea keeps cropping up but keeps never happening and it is a mystery. Sure communistical leaning governments do like their massive public work schemes and grand projects, but as I said these investment bank schemes never happen so that’s no explanation. All I can think is that they deep down hate the construction and engineering industries and like to taunt them with ideas that they know will never happen. Perhaps they enjoy feasting on the cruelly raised hopes and crushed dreams? Damned if I can think of a better reason to keep bringing it up then not doing it.

As to the idea itself? Well it’s a very  stupid one who’s only attraction is to the industry, in terms of lack of understanding, bad contract writing and endless pockets  will never find a better client than central government. Fortunately (for everyone else) it depends on ‘cross party consensus’ which in practice tends to mean letting the people who follow you take the credit for schemes you started, as that’s about as popular in political circles as actually listening to voters it’s never going to happen.

I’ll end with my normal complaint, Labour has had 13 years the vast bulk of which were in a booming economy. If they gave a flying f*ck about infrastructure why didn’t they start this 13 years ago? I accept this applies to almost every recent government announcement but that doesn’t invalidate the point. We won two complete world wars in less than 13 years, there really is no excuse.

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