Debating the EU
I drifted through a few blogs where a number of UKIP types seem to think that just because their candidate won a debate with I wont raise tuition fees Clegg this somehow entitles them to an in or out referendum. Or that it means that they will do well in the upcoming elections. Im afraid thats not the way it works!
Consider the situation in the US with Ron Paul. He has a habit of not just winning political debates during the Republican primaries but winning them well. While not one of my favourite people, he tends to be much better informed and well-read than other US politicians. And lets face it, his opponents dont exactly help matters, e.g. Rick Perry forgetting which departments in the US government hes going close down, in the middle of a debate with Ron Paul (one could argue its not hard to win a debate when your opponents are douches like some of the circus of fools that make up the Republican primaries).
However, Ron Paul has never been able to turn such victories in the debates into electoral success at the polls. Despite numerous runs for the Republican nomination and a cult following among some of the Tea Party wing of the GOP, he has never actually managed to carry a single state. Indeed he usually struggles to get more than 10% of the vote. And this is among fellow conservatives!
Of course the reason for this is very simple. Ron Pauls policys are considered very controversial and extreme (if not out right crazy), even among conservatives (His supporters are sometimes mockling called Paulestinians by fellow Republicans).
Similarly one could argue that many of Farages views are equally controversial among even Tory supporters (the Daily Telegraph recently describe him as a buffoon), and similarly its not very likely this will translate into electoral results. Particularly as he managed to show himself up as a bit of a fantasist, which will not play well with the moderates (who tend to ultimately decide any election) who dont speak loony toon.
Irish Presidential Visit
The Irish president, Michael D. Higgins is paying a historic visit to the UK, staying with the Queen in Windsor castle. We even have had a state banquet with Martin Mc Guinness in attendance. I mean a few years ago news that any member of Sinn Fein was on his way to the palace would have resulted in a security alert! :))
Michael D. Higgins is not your average politician, as I mentioned sometime ago. He calls himself an intellectual (something of a contrast to most politicians, particular in America where there is rampant anti-intellectualism), a former university lecturer and a poet. One assumes that the reason why Ian Paisley isnt attending this little do is just in case Higgins reads him some of his poetry (which would likely be like Vogon poetry to Paisley!).
Even so it is worth considering why these events are taking place. The strong cross border trade fostered by the European Union and the long, but sustained peace process has gradually enabled tensions to be defused. The road has been long. Indeed prehaps one of the reason why we have peace is that people began instinctively turning off the news when ever they started going on about the latest stage of the peace process!
Even so it does show the way forward for other parts of the world, where there is conflict between different communities. It also shows the value of institutions like the EU. In short, are Farage and his buddy Putin paying attention?
Parking on Pavements
There was something in the news the other week about a campaign by disability groups to have parking cars on pavements banned, as their members often find pavements blocked by cars. Its also a problem for parents with pushchairs (worth reading some of the comments on this page for an example of the issues faced).
I would argue the problem here is that while the majority of people do behave responsibly, e.g. parking up on the pavement, but tucking it away in such a way as too not to block the pavement. But its that 10% of society who are basically assholes who are the problem. Ive seen some motorists taking parking on pavements to its illogical absurdities. By for example parking in such a way that pedestrians are practically forced to climb over their cars (often because they dont know how to parallel park properly!). Or as they pull in, even driving along pavements, beeping pedestrians out of the way (as I saw someone do the other week). Or parking an Artic lorry on the pavement (as I saw some idiot do a while ago).
Or there was the moron in an 8 wheeler dumper lorry the other day. He wanted to turn left, but there was a queue of cars turning right. His solution? Mount the pavement, drive along it (at a corner with a blind spot, again in a massive dumper lorry with lots of blind spots!), jump back down onto the road, skipped the queue and then turned… all without without signalling! 88|
Perhaps I could propose a solution to an outright ban. Make it such that the law provides immunity from prosecution and voids vehicle insurance for any damaged caused to a vehicle parked on the pavement. Hence if someone decides to drive along the pavement or park it thoughtlessly, me and other pedestrians are legally entitled to vent our frustrations by knocking out one of his wing mirrors of our choosing. Or if someone parks a car and blocks the pavement, Im entitled to walk across his bonnet. Or wheelchair user/passer-by is legally entitled to smash in the car window, release the hand brake and let the car roll into the nearest ditch. Thatll learn em!
Seriously thought, I think the problem here is that there has been this new urban planning movement which on the one hand seeks to make cities more pedestrian friendly, but also assumes that cars and pedestrians can mix. By for example creating shared space junctions without any defined right of way or traffic lights for pedestrians or cars. Or as noted allowing cars to park on pavements.
The problem is, this works okay if everyone is nice and courteous and paying attention (i.e. not walking along texting…or worse driving and texting!), but that isnt always the case!
1st of April is the usual day of those infamous April fools. Ive noticed Wikipedia has developed a habit, not of putting up prank articles, but putting up genuine articles on the 1st of April, just labelling them a little differently.
For example, on the 1st of April on of the featured stories was the case of Batman suing the Commissioner (not Batman suing commissioner Gordon, but a tax case from 1953, filed by a Mr R. L. Batman) ;D
Or the described the founding in 1935 of the Reserve Bank of India as an attempt to control all the money in the country (well thats generally what central banks do!) :))
Or my personal favourite, that by launching Gmail Google gave people the ability to store 1GBs worth of spam :>>
A wee funny story. I happened to burn my hand 88| a few nights back while cooking spuds. Nothing too serious but a little sore for a while. I occurred to me, what if I need to go to hospital?
Id had a glass of wine, so not enough to have contributed to the accident but enough to rule out driving, and at that hour of the night, difficult to get a cab. So Id likely have to get an ambulance. That would be difficult given that the 999 operator would be getting an Irish guy on saying sure I been cookin the spuds and I burnt meself. No doubt theyd assume it a prank call and hang up. It would be like me ringing the police and complaining that someone was after robbing my lucky charms :))
Tories all at sea on wind farms
An interesting article by former energy secretary Chris Huhme regarding wind energy. He points out that the Tory policy regarding wind power, where they have cut and are often openly opposing onshore wind farms, makes no sense. It effectively amounts to a policy of higher bills. The only energy source that can hope to compete with Natural Gas on price is onshore wind.
Nuclear is too expensive (as Ive discussed before). Their efforts to save on bills by cutting energy efficiency tariffs (or green crap as Cameron prefers to call it) will actually in all probability increase bills in the long term.
And this is particularly relevant given that a few years ago the Tories effectively committed to an energy policy that amounted to a new dash for gas. But with events in Crimea, one must wonder where this gas is going to come from? There are alternatives to Russian gas, as I evaluate on my energy blog, but all of them are long term policies which will only work with a mixed energy grid, i.e. getting as much as we can from renewables, which means more onshore wind, and greater energy efficiency (which means those green tariffs they hate and more).
Marathon cancelled…for lack of water
Sheffield council hardly covered themselves in glory recently. They screwed up in the provision of water supplies to a half marathon they were organising in the city (blaming a private contractor, which sounds suspiciously to me like they tried to save a few pennies too many). Yet rather than just assume that runners would have the good common sense when told of this to either back out, if not able, or source theyre own water (e.g. carry water, or nip into a shop on the route, or have one of their mates in the crowd get water for them), they decided (as a result of a risk assessment“…or SAPS as I called it, standing for Save Ass Policy Scheme) to try and cancel the race, leaving thousands of runners whod been training for the event in the lurch.
Of course inevitably many of the runners simply said sod it and took off running. Now youd think the council would leave it at that and retreat with their tail between their legs. But inevitably the called out the police to set up road blocks and try to stop the runners. The police only relented when their own risk assessment concluded that it would be more risky to stop the marathon, plus where would they put 4,000 runners theyd have to arrest and dont they have some actual real criminals to go chase.
Now this would be excusable if we were in the middle of summer, but of course it was a chilly wet April, hardly the sort of conditions where people are going to faint. I mean its not as if they were holding it in Bahrain or something! But the problem with these SAPS is that they are motivated by a fear of what some ambulance chasing lawyer might convince a judge to rule, rather than anything based on common sense.
All in all, if Sheffield council cant organise a marathon one has to worry if they are competent and capable of running anything else. I hope the electorate in the city take note of this incident and remember it next time theres an election.