Archive for October 2012
What makes me mad is that I’m forced to waste time posting here each time something that will reduce the quality of life for people happens – like this: The current UK government is proposing to create a teared road system, with the following consequences:
- Massive breach of privacy as cameras will monitor WHO drives WHERE. (Think about that one.)
- Those less well off will be unable to travel as quickly – compassionate Conservatism? My left foot!
- Easy to forget and then have to spend weeks defending yourself in court or proving you were NOT the driver.
- How will foreigners, tourists and other visitors deal with this and be monitored?
- Cost of implementation and follow up may well outweigh the benefits. (Not as serious an issue as 1 to 4.)
Fight back club: Protest against this with as much gusto as you can, and if they beging to implement it, well, I cannot write here what I believe people should do (en masse) to have the whole system dismantled.
The reason all this is happening is because our nation has weak leadership and a subservient population dumbed down by the broadcast media. Therefore dystopian policies funded by the large corporations who will profit from all this are drip fed into our way of life with no concern for the stress, indignity and inconvenience caused. Liberty? I don’t think so.
The culture of blame continues to get worse here in the UK.
- Here an innocent individual engaged in arranging an entertaining social event is about to have his life ruined. Smoke often drifts across roads and motorways when farmers burn their crops, and dense fog can strike at any moment. So drivers use common sense to slow down and act accordingly. Yet on this occasion, no doubt motivated by the desire to obtain financial damages, an individual is blamed who was not even driving. It is obvious where this is headed: Soon, no one will dare organise a bonfire due to the lawsuit mentality taking control of our nation. But it gets worse…
- Families of soldiers killed or injured during war will have the right to sue the army! So, let’s get this right, you enter a profession with the full knowledge that you may get killed, things can and will go wrong, yet your relatives will always have someone else to blame, other than the enemy, (soldier) error, accidents, or just statistics and bad luck? As per item 1, just a great excuse for a money grab. Can you imagine if every death or injury in previous wars (Falklands, WW2 etc) was subject to this madness, the military would collapse under the financial strain and the country would (as it is!) go bankrupt.
- Yesterday, I had to rush to a hospital where someone was in a life or death situation. Despite the traumatic nature of the occasion, on arrival, like all the other visitors, I was greeted with a barrier and ticket machine. Price to leave after a few hours visit? £5.70p. It should be noted that a few years ago I asked the authorities why they charge at this specific hospital. Their answer: To deter non visitors from parking whilst they go shopping. Really? The hospital is located on the top of a hill miles from ANY other buildings. So they lied!
- Related to 3, around the same time, whilst a THREE LANE speed limit was in place on a stretch of motorway near the hospital, I received a speeding fine for doing 50 in a 40 zone whilst on the way to the hospital. (Remember, this was a motorway where one could safely drive 70mph.) I asked why the speed limit? The policeman who answered the phone replied: There are workmen down the embankment and we are worried people may lose control of their vehicles, roll off the road and hit the workmen. I could not stop laughing, contested the fine and was let off. Today every excuse is used to fine regular hard working individuals fattening the bank accounts of councillors and/or the makers of machinery used to issue tickets or entrap motorists. It wasn’t like this in the past and it needn’t be like this now. So why are things getting worse?
- Update (23 Oct 2012) Here’s another example of council jobsworths in action – paying to walk through a car park.
- Oh and another one (Yes I know, it’s in the Daily Mail, but at least they report these things!) – Nov 2 2012
- Of course, financial motives also drive the dispensing of sometimes dangerous or addictive drugs to patients by some doctors, but that is another discussion and already covered by other blogs and writers.
The UK has become a despicable nation that feins victimhood to sap money from everyone but self creating an complete inversion of what is right.
I wonder how much Local Parking Security Ltd were behind any council lobbying?
Note lovely threatening words in the lower half of the sign. Makes you sick! (Ironic.)
Fight Back Club: If you know in your heart you are in the right, refuse to pay and if need be, take legal action, not to profit personally, but ensure justice is done and at least get a refund. With regards the parking charges for hospitals (morally disgusting), I am starting by writing to the authorities responsible and then plan to take legal action as a tax payer on behalf of countless others who feel the same way as I do, but are unlikely to do anything about it. We don’t expect to be faffing around looking for change when visiting ill family or friends. We have enough on our minds already. This people is what Dystopia is all about. Automated for profit law and order, with no care for the citizen.
If you use the Internet domain system ‘whois’ to find the date droprocket.com was first registered, you’ll find it was twelve years ago – by me.
Whilst in the US, I found extreme sports such as snowboarding and others (some of which I participated in) not only great fun and often frightening, but I had many thoughts about the future of it all.
Two related ideas came to mind, and I made some sketches. One was based on that scene in a Bond movie when after somehow exiting an aircraft without a parachute he free falls and literally flies across the sky to grab onto a parachutist – saving his own life in the process. I thought it would be cool to design a flying squirrel like winged suit and have a number of crazy people jump from high up and race to the ground, opening actual parachutes at the very last moment. Today, this is reality.
I thought further – how about building small one man unpowered rocket shaped craft with small fins or wings. Even crazier ‘pilotnaughts/astropilots’ would slide in head first, a toughened cockpit window providing them a view of our lovely planet below. Multiple cameras and other telemetry measuring systems would beam everything down to Earth for our entertainment.
The DropRockets as I call them, would (you guessed it) be dropped from an extremely high altitude (way beyond 23 miles!) and as with the winged suit idea, the astropilots would guide the DropRockets back to Earth, aiming them towards and through airborne target rings for extra points.
Once closer to Earth, depending on the design, small wings would pop out and the DropRocket would glide down to a landing strip, or a parachute would open and the craft gently deposited back on Earth like a space capsule.
I had planned to execute on the latter DropRocket sport when the technology made it possible and I had the time and resources. It has been possible for a few years now, but I have not had time to begin the project yet.
Today, Felix Baumgartner just did something even crazier than either of my ideas, and that was to freefall in a protective suit, but no wings or craft. Like some of you, I just watched the whole event live on YouTube (in 1080P HD video too, an impressive feat of streaming video in itself!) and as is the case with most competitive multi-idea inventors, designers and entrepreneurs, I felt a certain sense of ‘told you so’ and a negative sensation of “Oh why didn’t I start DropRocket sooner so it would have more impact as a concept?”
Which brings me onto the reason for this post. Twitter. Those of us with a creative mind love to make things, fix things, break with convention (and even break convention!), express our opinion and of course, make the odd joke! But as other bloggers and tweeters etc probably already subconciously feel, the very process of ‘pre-talking’ about things dilutes the human energy required to actually go and do ‘it’.
Further, if the effort required to create even a pro-active tweet or blog post consumes more energy and is more frustrating than simply ‘picking up the phone’ and carrying out the task, then there is no point. Just composing a 140 character tweet is an effort in itself. Since first discovering Twitter, I always wondered why they chose LESS than the global standard 160 characters of a phone text message to at least bring some familiarity to the equation. What makes things worse is that you have no idea if anyone is ‘listening’ and acting on your rants, raves or calls for assistance. And, with so many people following each other, we’re all bombarded with too many views, news and blues, so like a jammed gearbox, our minds lock up.
We feel good at tweeting or blogging, but then so does drinking cola, but it isn’t necessarily healthy or effective over the long term.
He did it
So whilst my blog will remain active as a useful source of info for those interested in it’s contents, I won’t be using Twitter any more, and ceasing to comment below tech or newspaper stories, where over the years, I have posted about 5000 comments and received five times that in ‘Likes’ (although without a ‘Hate’ button, that figure is meaningless!)
Even without the aforementioned flaws in it’s design (there are more that I won’t dwell on here), without a business model, Twitter has become flooded with spammers and fake followers, requiring time consuming blocking. I don’t sense it has done anything to change or improve my own life or that of others, anywhere in the world. It is just a distraction from GTD.
Has it lead to more installed solar panels to ween us off carbon fuels? Has it saved a nation from a dictator? Has it found a stolen bicycle? Etc. No! Social media is a deceptive and not very pro-active distraction, even if it DOES make you feel better after hitting the [Publish] button. There are too many flaws in the execution of social media systems to make them anything but a very addictive drug. As you know.
I have been, am and will continue to be doing a lot of real actual pro-active work, in fact, in a password protected area of this here blog, I list all I am doing at any one time, updating the list when time allows. (Currently, about 25 separate activities.) With regards my employer, we always complete our projects (unless scrapping any for obvious business reasons) even if there is little to show during the development stages. Bare that in mind!
Fight back club: Pickup the phone. For my part, at 10am tomorrow morning I am calling Transport For London at 10am to pitch one of our ‘jumps’ to them.
BTW, Twitter is a good replacement for RSS and company press release summaries. You can use the Twitter API to embed a number of your latest company or organisation tweets in a page.
…if any company has ever devised an artificial product to replace a natural process and then engaged in nefarious behaviour to destroy the natural version in order to profit from sales of the artificial version?
Be(e) interested to hear of any evidence of this, perhaps from employees or disillusioned management or directors of any such company?
Consider what a specific GM seeds company has done to ensure it’s eternal income…
Fight back club: Dig deep.
Some of us hoped that with the arrival of a more conservative leaning government, some of the highly unethical abusive and greedy actions by council jobsworths would come to an end. Judging from this, it has not.
It is one thing to tweet and blog about such matters, but to try to do something about it is another. As hinted at before, I hope to put time aside to create a non profit organisation to support and defend the innocent victims of state spying and for profit law.
If anyone is interested in such an entity, do comment below. When appropriate, I for one will try to put some money into it. Objective: Provide moral support to and help defend the innocent victims of our for profit surveillance state where you cannot trust anyone, fear to engage in any private activity for fear it will be caught on HD CCTV and have to keep your eyes constantly peeled – in your own country!
Fight back club: Fight back and don’t let up. If you have an opinion on this and/or have also been a victim of such unwarranted behavior, do comment below.
Related, read the paragraph below the Infiltration heading in this Wikipedia entry on the Stasi.
For those new to VA, I began to blog about matters like this after experiencing or observing first hand behavior that was unheard of in the UK prior to my 10 years in the US. Most of this I will publish (if not already) in the future, but for an example of misdirected law, in July 2008, I was in Oxford city centre, the streets were full of people. Right in view of everyone, I saw a bike thief trying to locate and steal unlocked or poorly locked bicycles near to the public library. I began to video and photograph this on my phone and went towards a PCO to report the crime so he could arrest the thief or call for support. The PCO was busy issuing an on the spot (£60?) penalty charge to a very poor looking and frustrated foreign cyclist – I was in ear shot. His crime? He had inadvertently ridden his bicycle along a main shopping street in Oxford, where riding bikes is banned, although the signage is not ‘in your face’, so to speak. (I photographed the PCO issuing the ticket too.)
A sidenote: Pushing a bike through throngs of people causes your handlebars to bash into people. Try it!
Anyway, by the time the PCO had finished issuing the ticket, an appalling act on it’s own – a polite warning would have sufficed! – the thief had gone. I reported the whole matter to the police and forwarded my camera footage and photos. I do not know what happened since, but I can verify that in that city, which is one of the worst examples of reverse law, this sort of thing happens all the time, or used to anyway. I felt much sorrow for the cyclist and if I had known then what I know now I would have intervened both to stop the cycle thief and give the PCO a piece of my mind.
Update (Sunday 7 Oct 2012)
Located July 2008 photo of the PCO and cyclist referred to above. Around the corner, a bike thief is in action! (Photo/video grab to follow when I get time to find it.) But being the thief won’t be good for a quick ££ for the authorities, he gets away with his crime and no doubt continues to ruin the lives of hard working people across the city. Much more on bike crime to come when time allows. And yes, beyond exposing mid-directed law and order I am doing something about it, I have designed a new type of bike rack that amongst it’s other features, will hopefully make it much harder to steal cycles. My employer will try to bring it to market once we finalise the industrial design. The police are already aware of our idea and we hope to work with them and the local council.
In view of this, a few comments, related to the (admittedly amateurishly presented) suggestions made here (by me) on my employer’s website. This really is all about the essential characteristics required to ensure a better quality of life for us all:
- Sound state backed infrastructure
- Thoughtful design
The private sector should never run national infrastructure, in particular the rail networks, else there is inconsistency and flaws that are for all to see. Whilst in some subjects I believe conservative values to be valuable, with national infrastructure, socially imaginative state based ideals and concepts work well, as long as the system is biased towards quality and reliability over profit – in other words, like some military projects. Work is farmed out for tender and the best selected.
Having travelled a considerably by train in recent years (a horrific experience for countless reasons), here is my take on selecting suitable railstock:
Ageing but superb for the average commuter and productivity worker
Although an ageing model with manually opened doors, the best train is the one shown above, for the following reasons:
- Comfortable seats.
- The pull down seat trays hold small laptops and tablets superbly.
- The power socket is centrally located below the seats in front of you so easy to reach by either passenger.
- Very quiet ride. (So much so, it is sometimes difficult to sell if your train is moving out of the station, or the one on the other side of the platform!)
The Virgin Pendolino trains, whilst aesthetically superior, lack the well designed seat trays, the power sockets are in the wrong position, and the internal sliding doors feature buttons that are attached to the actual doors, so you cannot operate the button when the door is moving or in the open position! (You can see this on the photo here.) This latter issue is something you witness every journey as passengers struggle to open the doors whilst carrying luggage, the doors sliding shut on their arms or baggage.
- State backed
- Fair rewards based pay to motivate staff
- Same trains across all networks for consistency and reduced cost
- Well designed seat trays and power sockets
- Pay as you go ticketing system
Fight back club: Contact your local MP or community rail representative with your ideas – they DO listen!
A few years ago, we shared the aforementioned page with several key management at National Rail and First Great Western. Some of our suggestions where adopted within the same year, so don’t doubt your ability to bring about change if you put pressure on the powers that be.