Archive for Mystery

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.

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Not Trusting Belgians

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Irregular Features with tags , , , , , on May 23, 2014 by awickerman

The new NATO HQ, which is probably going to be late and over-budget, has reached the fit-out stage where the various nations put in the various computers, desks and doors to make the building actually usable. Most nations have decided to trust the Belgians to fit out their national areas for them, that way they can get a bulk discount from the main contractor and save a few quid.

Britain has decided not to trust the Belgians and the British section will be fitted out separately, along with “Three other NATO nations”. Obviously one of those was the US, but while I can find many, many documents confirming that four NATO countries have opted not to trust Belgians I cannot find out who the other two are.

If I had to guess I would say France and Germany, but that is just a guess. In fairness I cannot think of any plausible reason why I would ever need to know, but nevertheless I would like to. Alas I suspect I never will.

Great Units of Our Time

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 31, 2013 by awickerman

While I realise I may have just led a sheltered life I have never before come across a unit of measurement that combines two units from entirely different systems into one contradictory whole, until today. For today I came across the acre millimetre, which quite obviously is the volume required to fill a one acre area up to a depth of one millimetre.

There was, of course, the acre inch or the hectare millimetre available, but luckily the author spurned these options and instead chose to take the gloriously unconventional path. Truly it enlivened an otherwise deadly dull report, though admittedly at the cost of making me question every other number in the document.

This marvellous unit was topped when, while looking for similarly odd unit combinations, I can across a petition against the Jispa Dam quoting the dam’s capacity as 0.6 million hectare feet of water, which is a truly outstanding unit which will mean nothing to people who think in either system. Only those conversant in both will have a feel for it, and they are probably the people who’d most prefer it if the two weren’t mixed. Truly a triumph of number wrangling.

Interesting Definitions

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Irregular Features, Tenuous Link of the Day, Tunnels with tags , , , , on September 25, 2012 by awickerman

I’m clicking through one of the tunnelling comic and see the decidedly vague headline¬†European countries agree on railway tunnel construction. Slightly curious I head to the article and discover it is in fact about a tunnel between Turkey and Georgia, neither of which really fit in my mental definition of Europe. Of course they are both in Eurovision, but everybody is in Eurovision, I mean Morocco was once in Eurovison.

Luckily this isn’t just me, the geography-defying ambition of Eurocrats aside everyone else agrees both nations are, in fact, in Asia. Well the UN statistical bods do and frankly that’s good enough for me.

A self contained mystery

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Engineering, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Rantings, The Railways, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by awickerman

Rick Haythornthwaite, the chairman of Network Rail, has decided not to seek re-election (i.e. as a well known Labour placeman he probably correctly thinks a Conservative-Liberal government wont ‘elect’ him). As he was leaving he decided to share this wisdom with the public;

“We know that many of the public view the leadership of the industry with confusion, suspicion or disdain. They don’t trust us and therefore are resistant to changes we want to make.”

But why? Why on earth would the public distrust a leadership that includes men like Rick? I mean yes he was picked solely due to being close to New Labour, his last real private sector job went badly, his previous government job was on cutting Health and Safety rules (he didn’t)¬† and he had absolutely zero experience of the railways, but is that any reason not to trust his wise leadership? Or men like chief executive David Higgins, a man who was Chief Executive of the ODA and was in charge while the final bill for London 2012 skyrocketed and then took his zero rail experience (but his vast knowledge of spiralling budgets) to Network Rail.¬† And the disdain surely can’t be because of the huge sums they earn for incompetence, so how on earth can we explain Ricks’s problem? Luckily Rick gives us the answer in the same article;

“I believe we have the chance to leverage a newfound appetite for change among the public, born of crisis, to galvanise a shift from a fragmented to a connected Britain.”

Breaking that down ‘leverage an appetite’ means pushing through expensive schemes that would normally be rejected as a waste of time and money, ‘born of a crisis’ means doing expensive schemes quickly so no-one has a chance to stop them, ‘galvanise a shift’ means push through expensive schemes in the face of entirely accurate opposition and ‘connected Britain’ means High Speed 2 and dozens of other very expensive schemes. To those who are spotting a common theme – well done.

In summary anyone who speaks such utter tripe will be untrusted and disdained and damned if I know why he’s surprised at that.

Ohh and “resistant to changes we want to make” is not only referring to High Speed 2, it’s also code for ‘we want bring back the massive bonuses that we got regardless of how bad things went’, something most people are quite rightly resistant of.

A shocking story

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Engineering, Even Stevie Wonder Saw That Coming, Tenuous Link of the Day, The Railways with tags , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2011 by awickerman

When I first read this story about sexual harassment in Network Rail I just couldn’t believe it was true. I didn’t know Network Rail even employed any women for management to harass, certainly you don’t see women on track or in the engineering departments.

Then it turned out the harassed woman in question was a “a former senior employee in the human resources department” and once again the world made sense.

If this story seems vaguely familiar that’s because it is, it was over two years ago it first came out. This is merely the ‘independent inquiry’ to confirm what everyone already knew. It also confirmed that it’s not just the RMT who have a loose attachment to the truth; the TSSA also make entirely unfounded claims for their own nefarious purposes. But then I suppose ‘Rail unions make up fictional accusations’ probably falls under things everyone already knew.

Someone is lying, but who?

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Engineering with tags , , , , , on May 13, 2011 by awickerman

The railways have got pretty paranoid about electrification recently, back when I did my first batch of training on track access the whole group was taken out to go and play around Waterloo station while being taught the correct way to cross live tracks, now Network Rail are pushing the line that nobody can cross live third rail tracks outside of an emergency. Which brings us neatly to this story;

Station manager sacked for averting death and disaster

The man’s story is that he rang the signal box, told them to turn the power off, got it confirmed it was off and then went onto the track to remove a shopping trolley. Then someone in management noticed he’d been ambling around the track and sacked him for a gross misconduct.

Now either he’s lying (and frankly the details of the story change depending on which version you read, the BBC account is far less clear cut and makes him look a lot worse) or someone at the signal box should be sacked not him. Simply if he did declare an emergency to the signal box and was then told the power was off then the signaller should be sacked (or, as the signaller doesn’t normally control the power, then the local electrical engineer who ballsed up). However if he didn’t actually declare an emergency properly or get it confirmed the power was off then this is just a pile of twisted facts and selective reporting serving as after-the-event justification and he’s a lying bugger who deserves it.

However this does bring us to why I stopped posting. Frankly I just don’t know enough about what the hell happened to make any useful comment beyond “What’s being reported is rubbish”. The truth is known, I suspect it came out at the appeal to the disciplinary that sacked him, but I doubt that it will come out. So all that’s left is a vague story on which all you can do is make an arbitrary decision and rant about it, and what’s the point in that?

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