Friday, June 16, 2006

Save the Whale

The other day I was queuing at the checkout when a young girl was trying to buy some cigarettes. The cashier felt she was underage, but a colleague called across and vouched for her. My deadpan expression was obviously enough to promote her to make an explanation about the legal situation, to which I replied: 'Oh, it's not that which worries me. It's the fact that a youth with her whole life ahead of her, and with the benefit of all the information she has available on the consequences, still wants to damage her health, bank balance and looks'. Pity it was her Mum.

Which brings me to whales. At we often admit that we're not here to save them, as it really is a tad beyond our remit and there are a bunch of folk much better qualified and bale to do it without us.

It would seem not: Whaling meeting set for key shift

This, forgive the pun, blows... big chunks.

There is no excuse, knowing what we know. These are sentient beings and there is no possible justification on any grounds, research, nutrition, dietary or religious practice to kill them. End of story. The Japanese don't even like the taste any more.

What is worrying to other areas is the precedent of 'buying' votes can and will set. Any individual and/or country who allows their democratic responsibilities and ethics to be turned in this way should be named and shamed.

Anyway, that's just whales. There are much bigger fish to fry.

The Big Question: But all the Answers?

Coo; that didn't take long. Well, I guess the story was bound to spread across a few media. So now we have this one from the Indy
The Big Question: Are speed cameras really the best way to improve road safety?. All fair enough. But I think it does actually miss a few pretty key questions about the legal consequences to the truly undeserving motorist who does get penalised for a minor, unintentional transgression, and the fact that such reliance does not seem to address the necessary commitment of resources to those examples of dnangerous driving that a robot is not interested in catching.

Which is more dangerous? Speed, or bad driving?

Good job I'm still debating opening up the reply facility to this blog. I suspect the following article, and my reply (if they publish it, in which case feel free to weigh in on their site) will... 'arouse passions'. 

Oh, the joy of tootling along at a respectably dull 20mph

My reply: 'I could not agree more. Or be more than slightly concerned about (some of) the consequences. 

As I look out of my window over the residential road a sleepy market down, the first of the morning G-reg 205s (with more money spent on the exhaust note than servicing) and, to be fair, the odd brand new V8 Range Rover, 3 series Beemer or Yummy-Mummy-in-a-hurry Megane, is trying to hit 60+mph as I get my sons ready to walk to school.

For my kids' sake, such a thing could not happen sooner, though I doubt this technology will be able to affordably or even practically be applied to the several hundred meter stretch of hill that so inspires our boy (and girl) racers, or indeed to the one way system circuit that draws them from near and far every Friday night.

So while this initiative is possibly better than nothing as it will undoubtedly curtail some speeding, I do wonder whether it will end up being further relied upon by the authorities  as a substitute to plain, old-fashioned (by which I mean present outdoors and addressing the spirit rather then the letter of the law) human policing, with the added advantage of a nifty bit of income generation on top.

Robots are not able to assess context. At least with this new system the odd slip over a 10% margin (what %age of dial arc is 2mph anyway, and how dangerous is remaining glued to it rather than the road?) will not need to result in a totally unwarranted penalty and all the consequences, as with a Gatso... or temporary speed trap with a quota to meet.

But they still surely will not be able to differentiate between 'speeding' (an average 23mph over the measured stretch, one presumes) and dangerous driving, which surely can still mean hitting 60mph, screeching to a halt for some fags at the offy and then hitting 60 again.

I welcome the notion of increased safety. But I await with dread the lies, counter-lies and statistics that will abound surrounding the fallout.

The authorities, especially those involved in law enforcement, are these days too in love with targets, technology and money, when they should be committed more to enforcing the law, and the spirit of justice, in the cause of public safety.

I have, so far, no points in 35 years of driving. So far. Yet I must confess to savouring the moment that the inevitable 'the law's the law no matter what' zealot cops a fine, three points and bumped insurance for too much looking at the road and not enough at the speedo whilst travelling one direction of a dual carriageway, maybe because they are trying to catch the reg. of a driver who knows the system, and its robot locations, whacking past at an insane speed in the other direction."