Archive for the Almost Beyond Words Category

Graphic Magnificence

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Irregular Features, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , on September 4, 2015 by awickerman

In my ongoing effort to intermittently and irregularly present to you the cream of badly thought through ideas I present this triumph of graphical data representation.

Many would say a graph of Time against Time is a waste of Time. They're probably right

I am delighted this exists. I may well be alone in this delight

Yes it is a graph of time against time. Majestic is the word I hope you are looking for.

Undoing their own bad work

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Engineering, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Rantings with tags , , , , on September 9, 2012 by awickerman

Hidden amongst the government’s planning changes was a small section on how this would help making digging holes in the ground cheaper;

Internet providers have also been told that they will “face less cost and bureaucracy in laying cables in streets”

Leaving aside whether or not such simplification will ever happen (hint: it never has before) one of the main sources of cost and bureaucracy for new street works is a new government scheme launched in London this very July. Under the scheme people digging up roads can be charged up to £2,500 a day in ‘lane rental’ to dig up the road, indeed even if you ignore that ‘up to’ number the DfT’s own Q&A section on the subject freely boasts that this scheme will increase the cost of streetworks;

Q36: How would it help?

A well-designed charging system would also include exemptions or discounts from the daily charge when works are completed at less busy times. So by spending a bit more say on overtime to get the job done at evenings or weekends – utilities and others carrying out works could avoid having to pay the charges.

So it’s pretty clear this scheme was quite explicitly designed to make work happen at more expensive times and, as with all such schemes, will almost certainly involve lots of paperwork proving why each job is allowed to avoid the charge.

Thus barely three months after increasing the costs and bureaucracy of installing cables in the road, the government is pledging to reduce those costs “once officials have found a way to simplify current permit schemes.”

Maybe they should of thought of that before introducing further complications into a system that the previous government had already made stupidly over-complicated and expensive. But then that would be joined up government by competent people, so no chance of that then.

Agent Orange

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Irregular Features, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , on October 9, 2011 by awickerman

While out and about in town I came across a van bearing the legend Agent Orange Environmental. There are so many things that are inappropriately amusing when reading the website, however I particularly recommend the ‘Garden cleaning’ section for the line;

This allows us to tackle anything from light overgrowth right up to the thickest of jungles.

Yes, I suppose it would.

Rail Strike Incoming

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Even Stevie Wonder Saw That Coming, The Railways with tags , , , , on July 26, 2011 by awickerman

So a train driver has been caught reading the paper while ‘driving’ his train. Now the train operator pretty much has to discipline the driver or risk attracting attention from the safety regulators, but it is well established RMT policy that no member will ever suffer regardless of what they do and never face the consequences of their actions.

Thus I predict after the full investigation establishes the driver should be disciplined the local RMT chapter will ballot for strike action until he is re-instated (and pay rises all round to cover the emotional distress of the members seeing someone being accountable for their actions). Now FGW will probably back down, train operators normally do, but some form of industrial action has to be on the horizon.

A lack of trust in politics? I wonder why.

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Irregular Features, Rantings, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , on April 8, 2011 by awickerman

Ignoring quite how I came across this story I give you this;

MPs excluded from tax avoidance legislation

Having badly written the current finance bill MPs decide the best solution is not to correct it so it does what it is supposed to, but instead just give themselves a specific exemption so they’re OK and leave everyone else to suffer.

To be fair it hasn’t actually passed yet but there seems little doubt it will get past the House of Commons, it has so far. There is still the matter of the House of Lords, and if any of them have any sense they will jump on this and shout about it from the roof tops. If there is any point having a second chamber then surely this it is to stop MPs getting away with blatant hypocrisy and arrogance like this?

However as the Lords is now stuffed with political appointees from all sides, most of whom appear to be ex-MPs, failed MPs or wished-they-had-been-MPs I’d be surprised if this doesn’t just get waved through with little more than a ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ from most peers.

Still, it will remove one of the last arguments in favour of the House of Lords so we’ll be one step close to closing it down,  sacking the buggers and stripping John Prescott of his title and hurling him into a rat filled sewer. Which is something I suppose.

Anti-NIMBYism?

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Almost Beyond Words, Engineering, Even Stevie Wonder Saw That Coming, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Rantings, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2011 by awickerman

Those of you with long memories, and a deep held fascination with ugly concrete buildings, may remember the grippingly exciting story of Preston Bus Station, the one that looks like this;

That someone even thought about listing this makes me weep. And then hope in all these budget cuts that most of them have been sacked. Alas I fear such cockroaches tend to survive.

With the monstrosity finally declared ‘Not listed’ (hopefully due to the fact that someone on the panel had a working set of eyes) the structure was promptly marked for demolition as part of a large shopping centre scheme by Lend Lease, the people who gifted the world Bluewater and so on. After a great deal of faffing about that took most of the year (the original application went in back in 2008, which prompted all those efforts to get the concrete horror bus station listed in the first place) the planning inspector finally produced a tome which said ‘It’ll all be fine, apart from local traffic in Preston which may go up a bit.’

This was a bitter disappointment to Blackburn with Darwen Council, who had claimed because of all the shoppers going to Preston there would be social unrest, extremism, death and terrorism and said as such to the planning inspector. Sadly I’m only making up the last two, the local council genuinely said that shoppers going to Preston not Blackburn would cause unrest and extremism. In case you couldn’t guess the Blackburn and Darwen council leader at the time was Labour. I know, I was shocked too, a Labour politician using an unconvincing threat of terrorism to justify their own agenda? Whatever next?

However back to the point, as planning law says government shouldn’t approve a scheme that increases traffic in town centres the scheme should have been cancelled by Eric Pickles, he however didn’t. Perhaps he thought £700 million of investment in a historically depressed region during a recession was worth some traffic, or perhaps he just wants the people of Preston to choke on exhaust fumes, who knows? Either way it had happened and Blackburn council, complete with new Conservative leader,  said it was ‘extremely unlikely’ to appeal and piss yet more money up the wall for no good reason.

However to the great surprise of no-one, least of all anyone who’s lived in the UK for the last decade or so, the politicians have proven to be untrustworthy bastards. Yes Blackburn council will be appealing against Eric Pickles decision on the grounds of the traffic impact on Preston (well after the inspector called Labour’s claims about lack of shopping causing terrorism ‘tenuous’ the Blackburn Conservatives had to find something else to whine about). That Preston council is happy with the traffic impact is, surprisingly, irrelevant.

Thus I commend this to you as an example of anti-NIMBYism, or IIMBYism as it may soon be called, the complaint from Blackburn basically being that the shopping centre Isn’t In My Back Yard.

Fun Places to work #2

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Mining with tags , , , , , on February 7, 2011 by awickerman

In this occasional series based on places I have absolutely no desire work in let us leave the frozen wastes of Russia and instead revel in the frozen wastes of Canada and the wonderful town of Asbestos. For those who have noticed a pattern, well done.

A Canadian town called Asbestos. Next to a giant Asbestos mine. Not a lot more to say is there?

Marvel at the giant hole! Be enchanted by the deep azure blue depths! Hold your breath. Seriously, hold your breath.

This town has much in common with it’s Russian cousin; It is fanatically proud of itself (indeed once had it’s own Corvette the mighty HMCS Asbestos) and is stuffed full of people who will bore you to tears explaining why white Asbestos is safer than the brown or blue flavours (which may be true, I’m sure 300ºC fires are safer than 600 or 800ºC versions, but that’s hardly the point)

But there are differences. First the amusingly mis-guided advert campaign and second the quite spectacular hypocrisy of the government, because Asbestos is illegal to sell or use in Canada but perfectly legal to mine and export to foreign countries. At least the Russians actually use the Asbestos they mine, which may not be better for the locals but is at least less hypocritical.

To end on a cheap joke I commend you all to go to one of the fine restaurants in the town of Asbestos, starting with the Canteen of Asbestos.

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