Archive for September, 2011

Fun places to work #3

Posted in Engineering, Irregular Features, Mining, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , on September 21, 2011 by awickerman

The intermittent ‘Places I have absolutely no intention of working at’ continues and this time takes us to Africa and the sun blessed paradise of Zimbabwe. In particular the wonderful town of Zvishavane, whose name is derived from the ancient Shona word for “Hills full of deadly fibrous silica minerals” (This fact may not be technically true.)

An Asbestos Mine in Zimbabwe. I think that covers it really
If this looks familiar, well done. Most asbestos mines do look somewhat similar when viewed from above.

Being in the people’s paradise of Zimbabwe means there are a few twists to the usual logical contortions one finds at Asbestos mines. For starters the entire place is embroiled in an argument about who owns it, the government having taken it from it’s legal owner in one of those dramatic seizures the Mugabe government is justly famous for. Unusually in this case it wasn’t white farmers suffering but black industrialist, however the general thrust is similar. As you would expect it’s gone badly, almost as if government cronies know nothing about real work; production has collapsed and most of the workers have been sacked, so it’s not a pretty sight.

Following the typical pattern the locals are quite keen on Asbestos and have even roped in school children to look endearing and try and get the place churning our fibrey death again. However with a fairly racist empowered Minister of Mines in charge turning away offers of support on the grounds the investors are white and driving the rest away with barking mad mining laws I predict this situation isn’t going to change any time soon.

Now you might argue this is a good thing, after all most people do agree Asbestos isn’t good for you so while it’s a shame for the miners in the short term in the long term at least they wont die of a horrific Asbestos induced disease. There is but one flaw in that way of thinking, most of the locals are going to die of AIDS or Tuberculous before they get a chance to develop a long term Asbestos disease. Besides Zimbabwe has been importing vast quantities of Asbestos from Brazil and Russia in the intervening time, so I can imagine the locals thinking it might as well be local Asbestos being used as opposed to foreign imports.

On this basis I think I can safely say Zvishavane tops the previous efforts, yes its name might not be as amusing but the combination of AIDS, TB, Asbestos and Zanu-PF make it by far a less fun place to work.

Advertisements

Lib Dems Expecting Long Recession

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Engineering, Even Stevie Wonder Saw That Coming, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Tenuous Link of the Day, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , on September 17, 2011 by awickerman

Vince Cable has decreed we need more toll roads to save us all from the slow down in growth. There are two possible conclusions one can draw from this;

  1. He’s expecting a very, very, very long recession OR
  2. He’s an idiot.

Considering the example he gave of the M6 Toll motorway that took 23 years to go from consultation on route (options published 1980) to actually opening to traffic (December 2003). Even if one is generous that it is the construction work and not the road itself that is the object of the exercise that still took took two decades. If we’re still in a recession in 2030 I think the one thing that will be certain is that some new toll roads wont help.

Slightly more seriously even I would note that Vince appears to be asking for something no-one in the private sector actually wants to do (note he wants the private sector to actually build and operate theses new roads). The M6 Toll extension died a death because the traffic levels on the original stretch were ‘disappointing’, the Welsh plan for an M4 Toll never got beyond grand announcements and the SNP¬† turned against toll roads once they found out there was no way to make it free for Scots while still charging English motorists.

Honestly a bit of faffing about with payment methods is not going to change any of that so I am therefore compelled to think that option 2 is the correct conclusion. Which frankly is a relief, a two decade recession sounded a bit grim frankly.

%d bloggers like this: