Archive for June, 2010

Words of Wisdom

Posted in Uncategorized on June 23, 2010 by awickerman

As always the Daily Mash is bang on, though I doubt they expected the Horoscope would be so accurate.

If Forrest Gump has taught us anything, it’s that being stupid, serving your country and not asking questions leads to untold riches, but bucking the system, protesting and thinking for yourself means YOU WILL GET AIDS AND YOU WILL DIE. You’re going to be just fine.

Just replace “get AIDS” and “Be hit by a train” and you have accurate described Britain’s railways. The money is staggeringly good (alas not for mere experts like me, shovel monkeys though are minting it), the system is innately stupid and asking questions is frowned on. OK the ‘serving your country’ part is perhaps pushing it, though I suspect Bob Crow probably thinks trains are more important than hospitals, but certainly bucking the system will end in death by train.

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Scotland’s Bid for World Domination

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , on June 18, 2010 by awickerman

Never let it be said Scotland lacks ambition, even now they plan to take over the world through the medium of deep fried chocolate.

The best dessert he’d discovered, he said, was a Snickers Bar dunked in pancake batter and, this being Indiana, deep-fried.

So says Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana and Presidential hopeful for 2012. If a man infected with the Scottish fetish for deep frying everything gets in power there is no hope for the world’s cuisine or arteries. Or indeed the world itself for that matter.

Jesus H Christ

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by awickerman

Are slightly lower CO2 emissions more important than people’s lives? Personally I’d say no, but the Highways Agency thinks differently with their cunning scheme for “Midnight Switch-Off for Motorway Lighting”.

As the name suggests this scheme will see the lights turned off at night as part of their Sustainable Development Action Plan. Had this been a cost initiative that would be bad but, perhaps, understandable. After all putting a value on a human life to assess a safety scheme has a long (if unpublicised) history on the railways,  though I would note the very crucial point it’s used for staff safety not passenger safety. However this is different, this is a sacrifice (probably literally at some point) to the great false gods of sustainable development and global warming.

I’ll leave you with these two utterly contradictory statements from the HA website;

In doing this, safety remains our highest priority.

Which is then proved to be a total lie in the next sentences;

With the extremely low traffic flows at this time of night, the value of having lighting on the motorway is judged to be outweighed by the environmental impact and cost of providing the lighting.  Almost all the safety benefits from motorway lighting occur outside the midnight to 5am period.

Because safety is their highest priority, right up until anything else intervenes.

Railway Costs, Yet another misguided review thereof

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Even Stevie Wonder Saw That Coming, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by awickerman

Amongst the scintillating reads I receive was this gem, the review into railway costs has, despite reporting early, discovered the well known fact that British railway works costs far more than anywhere else. They’re also expected to report that the Pope has Catholic tendencies, though that has not yet been confirmed.

Sadly after this promising start it appears to go down hill as it starts talking about ‘innovative working’ and other such border line management waffle. While some new thinking would of course be welcome, starting with banishing the Luddite fear of new technology, that is not the real problem. The real problem is summed up by my work on the railways last night.

I arrived on site at 11:45 or so, as is always the case with these things I drove there. (No-one who works on the railways actually uses them, they’re just too inconvenient.) I meet the cast of thousands that is required these days and had a chat with the sparkies (HV electricians) about the books/papers they’d brought to read that night, sparkies only being employed to turn the power off at the start of the night and then on at the end, in between nothing.

Eventually by 12:15 I started wondering when we were going to start, at which point the supervisor turned up and announced the driver hadn’t turned up and as such our nights work was off. Of course the other job was going ahead and had the space for us to tag along, however that wasn’t in the paperwork and so would have been illegal. After checking this was definitely the case I gathered my merry band, gave them the bad/good news and we went home to enjoy a moderately late night and then a day off. Last nights work will be rescheduled as soon as possible as an urgent job, which means in at least 8 weeks time thanks to minimum notice periods.

In those two paragraphs you see all the problems afflicting railway work; the huge number of people needed for even a simple job, the bureaucratic delays, the problem of abortive work where jobs get cancelled on the night but the client still gets charged, the fact ‘urgent’ means ‘in a couple of months’, the paper work which means last minute changes are impossible and most importantly the fact all of this happens alarmingly regularly.

Unless this review deals with those problems, and the real elephant in the room of  the Railway’s horrific approach to health and safety (which is more about paperwork and arse covering for management than safety) it will be just another waste of paper. My hopes are not high.

Inconvenient research that will be ignored

Posted in Uncategorized on June 12, 2010 by awickerman

I predict now this research will go absolutely nowhere, it is just not what anybody involved wants to hear. Killing oil covered sea birds rather than cleaning them? Madness. Just because they all die within a week is no reason not to produce those iconic pictures of caring volunteers cleaning them; smug self satisfaction is in fact more important to most of those groups than actual animal welfare.

As for everyone else involved, oil firms obviously can’t mention it, while the US government will merely file it so they can use it as yet another stick to beat BP with in a few months time (while letting Haliburton and Transocean of scot-free as their American).

Apart from the birds it’s the scientists I feel sorry for, all that work and no-one is going to even want to read their work because they’ve come up with the ‘wrong’ answer.

A Wicker Man Short

Posted in The Wicker Man list with tags on June 8, 2010 by awickerman

A Wicker Man candidate in brief. Today’s deserving victim is – Nick Palmer.

The former MP for Broxtowe (Nottingham) he’s got his ‘You were kicked out by the voters’ cash to reacclimatise him to having a real job. This amounted to the substantial sum of £54,000, which is annoying but not enough to get him a place in the Wicker Man.

Mr Palmer’s crime is that after receiving this big pile of cash (on top of damn near £160k in expenses last year including employing his wife) he decided he just hadn’t had enough of milking the tax payer and so signed on. Worse he has the cheek to claim it’s ‘to learn about the system’ as politicians ‘should have experience’ which is clearly bollocks. If he actually cared about the system he would have looked years ago, while on the second point he lost his seat after being rejected by the voters, therefore he is not actually a politician. He is in fact an ex-politician and therefore by his own logic doesn’t need to know.

It is in fact obvious that 13 years of being on 64 grand a year (plus  maxed out second home expenses), employing relatives and then a giant redundancy package weren’t enough. Nick just had to take even more tax payer money just to feed his addiction, from the look of it he was straight in Monday morning desperate for his fix of someone else’s money.

Nick Palmer you stand condemned for your greed and shameless avarice, that plus your horrific voting record mean there can be but one sentence;  death by flames in the Wicker Man when the time comes.

The US Oil Spill

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Rantings, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , , , on June 8, 2010 by awickerman

I’ve avoided this one as there didn’t seem a lot to say, everyone seemed to be trying to stop it and it probably would be better to wait for the investigation and all the facts to come out. Admittedly that hasn’t stopped politicians mouthing off about blame and so on, but honestly what did you expect? (Actually based on Piper Alpha I had some hopes. That was the disaster were a US firm in the North Sea badly, badly fucked up and killed 70 odd people and didn’t get criticised and threatened with death till after the investigation proved they were guilty as hell. But then American politicians do have an addiction to double standards and hypocrisy)

Anyway I’m commenting on the subject as I’ve recently found out quite how far the US government is going in it’s efforts to make things worse. First off the much hyped ‘Presidential panel’ gathering the finest experts in every field except oil production, therefore denying it of any possible relevant knowledge or experience. Now you may argue you want off-the wall ideas and fresh thinking, it’s a bad argument but you could make it, in which case why censor the panel? Now professor Katz does appear to be thoroughly unpleasant (complete with a Brass Eye-esque belief in good/bad AIDS) but someone must have thought he was an expert worth consulting, yet he was instantly dropped once it emerged he was a arse. So either this is a genuine utter disaster where you need everyone OR you can drop him as it’s not that bad, in which case tone down the rhetoric and threats.  Is consistency so much to ask?

The second point is if anything much worse as it damn near had a practical impact. To disperse oil you need a dispersant and in general they are not especially nice chemicals, hence why they all need EPA approval. The BP choice Corexit has been on the EPA list for over 20 years and was used on the Exxon Valdez spill and dozens since so is a well understood and tested choice, hence it was stockpiled in vast quantities on the Gulf Mexico in preparation for any problems. So what happened a few days into this spill? A few previously anonymous politicians and green groups (well I’d never heard of them) started whining about it and eventually got the EPA to threaten a ban. Ignoring the annoyance that anyone took them seriously you do have to ask why now? Are the US government actually trying to make things worse or do they genuinely think Louisiana will look nicer with a nice skim of oil on it? (On which note I also found out that 80%+ of state revenues in that state come from the oil industry, I therefore sincerely hope the fisherman who turn on the news get their wish and the industry is banned. I think mass unemployment and even larger taxd bills would be a just punishment for their ill-informed whining.)

So there you go, a tad more proof of Regan’s old saw

The ten most dangerous words in the English language are “Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

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