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Indications
Friday 10 February, 2023

I can imagine the conversation that has taken place in meetings at many car manufacturers.

DESIGNER
Those pesky repeater indicators are really paining me! They don’t allow me to create flows that just, well, y’know, flow!

MARKETING
Sorry you feel that way, but punters want them. We have brochures with them listed as a plus point. They stay.

ENGINEER
You realise that each single repeater requires a hole in the appropriate body panel, extra wires running from the main loom, the bulb holder, a bulb, and all encased in a wonderfully designed housing that our designer designs so well!

ACCOUNTANT
Do what? Extra wires? Extra holes? Extra bulbs? Extra stuff?

ENGINEER
And extra safety.

ACCOUNTANT
But extra stuff! You realise that that means, don’t you?

ALL
Extra safety?

ACCOUNTANT
No, less profit! Take them off. If you don’t, I will arrange for a baying mob of shareholders to come and steal your children.

And that, folks, is the story of why fewer and fewer cars on the roads have repeater indicators on the side while the indicators at the front are fashioned so as to only be visible from the front...

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The British Art of Queuing
Monday 13 February, 2023

It had been a very interesting two weeks of camping in Namibia. There were lots of dangerous animals, which were mainly hard to see. I suppose it goes hand-in-hand. A lion wearing a hi-vis jacket wouldn’t be able to creep up on anything.

Regardless of whether any of the wildlife was to be seen wearing clothes, it all came to an end and we were due to fly out from Windhoek. We were a party of around fourteen people and the queue to the check-in desk was long. In fact it was longer than the length of the hall and so when it reached a wall, it was forced to adopt a kink.

Enter, The German.

He joined the queue at the point where it was required to bend and he neatly cut our party into two. Upon trying to explain to him that he had joined the queue at a mid point, he gestured towards the check-in desk and showed with his hands that he was standing in a straight line direct from it. It was then that he folded his arms, puffed out his chest and stood with his feet apart as if daring any of the party, fore or aft of him, to try and budge him. He also insisted (in German) that he spoke no English.

I said to a fellow party member (in English) that once he gets to the check-in, comments will be made about how he was seen to place a large knife-like object into his carry-on luggage.

Amazingly, The German, who spoke no English, understood that we were looking to stitch him up by misinforming security and he made his views on the matter quite strongly (in German, naturally). Some of the party tried to explain further to him, but his continued insistence that he didn’t understand English meant I was reduced to inflicting my poor German on him. Despite it being dire, I know I made myself clear and his reasoning (in German) was equally clear. With his feet being firmly planted, I persuaded the front half of the party to move behind him in the queue so that were were not split up.

A few choice words and phrases were muttered by members of our party and oddly enough he understood them all, however none made him behave with un-German reasonableness.

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Mugging
Wednesday 15 February, 2023

Imagine I am a baker and not a blogger. Squint a bit. There you go!

Now, further imagine that in 2021 I was a baker selling buns at £1 for a pack of six. Stay with me.

During 2022 I, as that baker, raised the price of the pack to £5, citing production costs (flour, energy etc.) and did so with a baker’s honest face.

Now, I want you to imagine that my production costs have fallen substantially and I am unable to pretend they haven’t because the information is out there. And so I reduce the packet price, not to the £2 that would reflect the true price of production, but to a more profitable £4.

Why?

Well, when the price was £5, customers complained all the time, however they didn’t stop buying the buns because all my fellow bakers raised their prices in line with me. When the production costs went down, we all decided to maintain a high price because we now understood that the customers were mug enough to pay through the nose.

As long as no baker breaks ranks, we are free to rip off customers.

Applying this to fuel prices, imagine if Shell was the subject of a boycott. Imagine motorists continuing to buy the fuel they require, but from anywhere else but a Shell filling station. Would Shell break ranks and bring an end to the mugging?

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Any Interest?
Saturday 25 February, 2023

The push to attain perfection in the world of A.I. continues. At the moment, if an authority or retailer makes a mistake, punters can complain and appeal.

However, already we have a culture whereby attempts to correct errors are thwarted by the slavish respect minions have for computers. If The System says it is true, then it is true, no matter what the truth is or the assertion on the part of the victim, even armed with irrefutable evidence. Now, once The System is joined by A.I., there will be a wall of denial that will probably be impossible to counter.

Being dismissed by computers on the basis of incorrect data, bad assumptions and la la la, I’m not listening, is going to be worse than Dante’s vision of Hell.

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Smoking Under the Influence of Driving
Sunday 26 February, 2023

Drive while eating a cheeseburger, that’s a bust. Eat an apple while driving, and prepare to enjoy arguing with a judge. On the other hand, smoke a cigarette while negotiating traffic, and you are on safe ground.

Smokers across the country will be apoplectic that a non-smoker is trying to take away another right of the smoker. Personally, I don’t care whether someone wants to smoke or not. Generally I don’t care what others do, unless it has the potential to directly affect me

Blow smoke in my face and I will object. Get drunk and become abusive towards me, or drive a vehicle and threaten my safety and that of other road users, and I will object. Hold a burning stick while in control of a vehicle and threaten my safety and that of other road users, and I will object.

“Where’s the harm in smoking a fag while driving?” is the refrain.

Where’s the harm in eating an apple while driving? Where’s the harm in eating a cheeseburger while driving? Where’s the harm in keeping one’s eyes closed while driving?

Where’s the harm in objecting to risks arising from the actions of others?

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Needs Must
Tuesday 28 February, 2023

A million years back, I was required to create and maintain a webpage as part of a university course. While fellow students broke out various applications to create and edit their efforts, I wrote mine in Notepad.

Theirs all looked cool. Mine looked, er, basic.

As it didn’t attract any points towards a grade for the course, I left it at that.

Then I got lazy. Calling it simple, I used a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) application to edit and manipulate whatever I chose to upload for all to see. And it worked for over twenty years. In fact, the application I settled on was launched in 2002 and never updated.

Many said my output was crude and lacked finesse. Regardless, it suited my needs. That ‘many’ also pointed out that my chosen software tended to insert wasteful lines, tags and arguments. Still, I was unmoved.

At the end of 2022 I switched to a Mac and discovered that I would need to splash out some serious money so as to allow me to continue the current level of laziness and ineptitude that my twenty-year-old program had facilitated. For a while I struggled on and limped along with a virtual Windows PC running on the Mac, but it was a chore.

Spending good money so as to continue a shockingly poor practise seemed such a waste, as well as meaning spending money I don’t have. Eventually I bit that legendary bullet and looked for a decent editor that would allow me to reacquaint myself with HTML. It was then I appreciated the comments from others down the years on the levels of spurious code inserted by my application of choice. It was quite difficult to work out what it all meant, such was the amount of superfluous code.

It only took me twenty years to finally understand what I was being told by countless commentators, whereas world leaders don’t seem to accept what anyone tells them in a lifetime…

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Pain
Thursday 2 March, 2023

If I had a penny for every person who asked me about the pain attached to writing content for this blog, I’d probably have enough for a down payment on a packet of crisps.

Without doubt, there is pain. This is especially true if kneeling in front of a child’s swing while typing. The impact of the seat upon one’s head has two effects:

     1/ It is rather distracting
     2/ It can lead to concussion

The only reason I can write this entry is because I concentrate on ducking in time with the swing. Mind you, once the writing is thought about…

OUCH!

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Too Polite?
Monday 6 March, 2023

You have ventured out from your home to a place other than work. There are many people there. A little common sense is required so as to avoid the experience turning into a free-for-all with bodies falling and being trampled over.

Basically, a trip to the shops.

Eventually you approach a restriction and someone using a stick to walk is coming the other way. Do you carry on, knowing (hoping?) they will defer to you as you stride purposefully, or do you embrace your humanity and stop to allow the elderly or infirm person to pass?

Of course, you stop.

The target of your action smiles at you. Sometimes it is accompanied by a verbal thank you.

Just before they reach you, the ignorant sub-human immediately behind you takes the opportunity to shove past you and into the path of the person you invited through.

Is the cretin just that, or are you too polite?

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Snow, No Snow
Friday 10 March, 2023

The light was there, peeking through the curtains as if afraid to be noticed. Looking out through the window, it was possible to see that the sky was packed with clouds laden with threatening intent.

It was currently raining and possessed the potential to become a deluge of biblical proportions.

The weather forecast had claimed it was to be a morning of snow. The reality was a dreary dampness in the air generating cold droplets that slid down necks. Snow would have at least brightened up the early morning as the sun struggled into the sky behind the grey shield.

By the time it was bright enough to read, the rain had turned to sleet and promised to become the real deal, turning the ground white. Instead, the cold continued to be accompanied by nothing more than growing puddles.

However, once the daylight plateaued, what was falling had turned into big fluffy snowflakes.

Soggy snowflakes.

The puddles continued to grow…

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The Banana
Sunday 12 March, 2023

Nobody knew his secret. No one had been told. A secret is no longer a secret if you tell someone.

He led his life quietly, lest he be found out. He was afraid to be obvious. Too many questions would surely lead to his being discovered as the fraud he was, no matter what he projected.

Day in and day out, he went about his business as if nothing was amiss. However, every footstep; every slight noise; each disturbance, and he would almost jump out his skin, such was his fear of being spotted for what he truly represented.

It was hard being something he was not.

Fear ruled his life and discovery of his dishonesty created that fear. He was someone undeserving of trust; someone to avoid dealing with. If it were to be known; he was someone to hide one's valuables from when he visited.

He was bent and yellow to boot.

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Identity Issue
Thursday 16 March, 2023

Am I a fruit or a vegetable? Wouldn't you like to know! Pub quizzes across the country are attended by those who know of the argument, but who are split between those who shout, fruit, against those who scream, vegetable.

According to the experts, I am a fruit. Horticulturalists will point to the fact that we tomatoes are grown from seeds that develop from the flowers we produce. Culinary practitioners will tell you that we are to be used as if vegetables.

So, the fact is that we are fruit, but we can be used as vegetables.

The problem is that, in these enlightened days, we identify as onions. Well, at least I do, although I prefer to be known as Mandy at weekends.

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Oranges and Lemons
Thursday 20 March, 2023

I was going to write a spoof about how oranges are the only fruit to be named after their colour. Then I remembered the colours lime-green and apple-white.

There are undoubtably many more, and so I decided not to write such a piece. If I had pressed on with it then I am sure it would have fallen flat and been considered a bit of a lemon…

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Humanity
Monday 27 March, 2023

The destiny of humanity is linked to many things. The future of the planet is one. Whether we are visited by aliens from another galaxy is another consideration. For some. A few…

Of the countless constraints and opportunities, very few people will see what is hidden, but at the same time, crucial. Yes, the direction of humanity is inextricably linked to fruit.

After all, the basic question being asked is: Man goes where?

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Scared to Death
Thursday 20 July, 2023

The St George’s Day nationwide phone alerts test went well, and possibly better than most people think.

That some mobile phone users didn’t receive the test warning, is of no consequence. The fact is that the test was widely reported. The concern that the authorities wished to place in the minds of the population, was firmly implanted. With political instability suggesting the precarious nuclear balance was tipping over, what better time to test a system so as to bolster the fear that helps control the masses?

Estimated to cost in the region of £25.3 million over the first three years of operation, it is a fine example of spending Taxpayers’ money to further government control of the people. Does anyone really think that a warning system is going to really help if a nuclear missile is headed our way? Given the blast area of today’s weapons of mass destruction, the resulting gridlock is only going to enable people to be eight miles inside the death zone instead of nine.

The purpose is clearly not to help in such circumstances. However, instil the right amount of fear in the minds of the sheeple and you can introduce various controls that masquerade as security measures. The result is a system that allows apparent dissent while maintaining total control.

Yes, the test went better than you might imagine.

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Automatic Prosecution?
Wednesday 26 July, 2023

Autonomous vehicles are the future. We hear it all the time. It will be safer and that will make it cheaper for society, in the long run.

However, what are the downsides? There are possibly as many, if not more, than those oft-quoted as benefits; although that may depend on the opinion of the commentator.

Gone will be the offences of dangerous or reckless driving. Careless driving will be one of those things discussed by history nerds in the future, possibly treated as a mythical thing. Speed cameras will be taken down or stand, rusting, by roadsides, unused and uncared for by anyone.

Or will they?

When passing a large lorry on a major road where its speed limit is lower than that of whatever you are travelling in, it doesn’t make sense to linger as one passes. If that means popping over the proscribed speed limit for the duration of the pass, then that shortens the time during which a much smaller vehicle is alongside what can sometimes be a behemoth. What then?

Will autonomous vehicles stick to speed limits, regardless of safety or common sense, or will the box of magic tricks allow a miniscule breach of the rules so as to minimise risk? If it does, and that results in the need to issue a speeding ticket – who is responsible for paying it? Is it the car manufacturer? Is it the company that develops the autonomous driving software? Is it the Registered Keeper?

Answer that question and you can graduate upwards to trickier matters such as those involving death or injury caused by autonomous vehicles.

It might be worth remembering that we are being led by a government that has mandated the outlawing of selling new non-electric cars by 2030 but hasn’t managed to come up with any ideas regarding the structure of driving lessons and tests once internal combustion engined vehicles with gearboxes are off the roads. So, don’t figure on any proper legislation ahead of autonomous vehicles appearing on the road.

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