9 posts • joined Tuesday 29th July 2008 16:05 GMT
<< only a few days ago i was sat in a police station while a police officer sat opposite me flicking through a police guidance booklet saying to me 'there must be something i can arrest you for in here, we have all kinds of powers' >>
Nah, sorry, I don't buy that. I'm first to agree the police aren't above abusing their powers, you don't have to persuade me of that, but I reckon the worst of them would have more about him than that. I think there's probably more to this story.
Meh. This is the worth of anecdotal evidence, though... (reg writers take note.) Maybe it did happen just like you say, if so I only hope you find the IPCC easier to convince.
@ Tim Blair
<< please will that god thing prove his existence by killing me in the next 10 hours >>
Genius. I bet no-one's thought of THAT one before.
@ Anomalous Cowherd
I take the point that the materials to construct an elevator aren't available yet. And the other points made by yourself and by Geoffrey Summerhayes are fair. I'm not sure I agree that it would be unavoidably necessary to go to another planet to obtain the means to build one - but I concede I'm not an expert so can't really argue that point.
I would say, though, Anomalous, that when I think of 'working on the space elevator', I'm *including* the work necessary to develop the technology and materials to build one. Saying it's 'just science fiction' isn't in itself a reason not to work to make it a reality - however long that might take. *If* we agree that it's a project that would generate huge benefits in the long term, at least. If we take that attitude then there's not much point hoping for any technological development at all: so much of the stuff we have now was once considered science fiction. Now it's real.
@ Garth and 'nucular'
Ooo - sorry to hog the page, but I discovered something the other day... Probably old news to many... But it looks as though there's an argument for us Brits and educated Americans to stop being so smug about ignorant Americans saying 'nucular'.
Apparently - and www.etymonline.com confirms this under its entry for 'nucleus' - the word 'nucleus', from which we get 'nuclear', actually stems from the old Latin word 'nucula', meaning 'little nut'.
Okay, not strictly relevant, but I thought I'd share...
@ Richard Gadsden
"Fallout", you say? Check and make sure you're not confusing the new 'Orion' craft that the US is using to replace the Shuttle with the older concept of the same name: a drive system that was to generate its forward thrust by detonating strings of nuclear charges behind it. The two are very different principles (if for no other reason than the strings-of-bombs idea at least employed innovation, if scary and impractical innovation - whereas to my non-expert eyes the 'new' Orion just looks a mighty step backwards).
Mind you, that said, we're still planning to launch people into space on top of huge, barely-controlled explosions... I'm afraid I'm one of those people who thinks that a cost-effective, efficient, and less flamboyantly unsafe method of getting people into Earth orbit should be the first step before we even start thinking about going to the Moon, much less Mars. Don't get me wrong - I'm very fond of the Shuttle and will miss it when it goes. But is anybody actually, seriously, working on developing the technology for a Space Elevator? Wouldn't it be more sensible to focus our attention on cracking that first? Once we've got that sorted, surface-to-orbit travel will become a breeze, and we'll be free to pick a destination.
Yes, I know there will be political problems (the Elevator would have to be tethered on the equator somewhere and America and Europe don't own any of the equator that I'm aware of) but I don't think they'd be insurmountable at all, given what such a structure could bring the country it ends up being built out of...
@ "But it's The Rules!"
The trouble is that "doing the right thing" is so very subjective here. For all some maintain that lower speed limits make for safer roads, so others insist - with just as little empirical foundation - that raising speed limits actually wouldn't make things any more dangerous.
I think this comments page has surely made clear that there are a lot of factors involved in road safety, of which speed is but one. That you may consider the rules 'arbitrary and capricious' is neither here nor there. Many people might argue that many other laws are 'arbitrary and capricious'. Should we be free to disregard any we personally don't agree with? Or should this right be extended only to those driving fast, heavy vehicles in narrow channels?
As it happens, where some speed limits are concerned I fully agree with you that they are excessively restrictive. But where that's the case, then whining about the cameras is a bit like spraying a fire extinguisher at the tips of the flames. Attacking the base of the fire would seem more logical - and in this case, that means lobbying your local authority to set more realistic limits. If you could also try to persuade the national authorities to introduce an actual required standard of ability and behaviour for drivers, then I think we'd all benefit.
In the meantime, the fact remains that cameras only raise revenue to feather politicians' nests if drivers choose to speed.
Fine with Streetview
Nope, just can't get worked up about this one. Like 'Man Outraged', I'm also keen to protect our right to privacy (I've just switched ISP away from BT because of their underhanded behaviour over Phorm). But as mentioned, there is no right to privacy in public streets. Google - evil megalomaniacal corporate leviathan though it might be - isn't doing anything wrong here; and if anything, this ruling should help to protect the rights of photographers to take pictures in public without being treated like terropaedorists.
I don't like the idea of government databases storing all my phone calls and emails. I don't like that at all. I don't like the idea of government agents entering my house and examining my stuff. I don't like the idea of having to present 'papers' in order to be able to travel around my country, or being marked as a potential Suppressive Person (or whatever the New Labour version is) because I choose to use pseudonyms or noms-de-plume for certain purposes.
I don't believe that CCTV prevents or deters crime, so I believe there shouldn't be nearly the number of cameras there are. I don't think that companies should be demanding half the information they ask me for just so I can use their service or buy their product, and I certainly don't think they should be flogging that info to anyone else under any circumstances at all.
So as you can see there are lots of things I *would* get concerned about to a lesser or greater degree. But Google taking photos of my street? Nope. Not bothered in the slightest. As for those people who believe it'll be a charter for burglars, well, the truth is that most burglars are opportunists. Their planning tends to be minimal. Most are also driven by a need to feed a drug habit. Whatever the motivation, they tend to focus on easy-to-reach nearby areas: the chances are very good that anyone likely to break into your house is already quite familiar with it, and wouldn't gain anything more from Streetview.
@ Alexis Vallance
Not sure we disagree all that much - your views on speeding causing accidents (or not) aren't far from mine. Speed that the driver can't handle; drivers' overestimation of their own skill (endemic on today's roads)... These are things that cause accidents, and speed compounds them.
As for cameras, well, I don't much care whether they're visible or not. Like I said, I know the terms of the licence I hold, I know what I need to do to keep it. If I'm caught out breaking the rules I'll accept the penalty.
Nothing not already said... (probably)
I don't think there's anything I'm going to say that's not been said already in 200+ posts, but it's something I feel strongly about,
Firstly, driving is *not* a right in this country. You have the right to travel freely about the land, but you don't have the right to drive a vehicle on the roads until you can prove that you're able and willing to drive in accordance with the requirements of a licence. A licence to drive is a *concession* - one that in my view is too easy to get and too easy to keep. The argument that speed limits are somehow unfair assumes that the limits are an unjustified restriction on a basic human freedom, and they're not. The speed limits, I accept, might not always be appropriate for the situation: round my way, the council does indeed seem to believe that 'slower = safer', and is imposing ridiculously low limits on long, straight roads and gentle curves. This is wrong, sure - but it's not the sort of wrong that's going to be improved by my breaking the limits as some sort of idiotic 'protest'. I know how it works: if I want to keep my licence, I obey the law, whatever my opinion of it. This is not a human rights issue.
Speed *does* kill, and I don't understand the reasoning of those who claim it doesn't. It isn't always the sole cause of an accident, granted, but it certainly contributes to the severity of accidents that occur. And although fast driving alone doesn't invariably cause accidents, it certainly *does* cause them in those cases where the driver thnks he's more skilled than he actually is - and let's face it, that number includes a *huge* number of British drivers today. Too many drivers today are arrogant and reckless, and those characteristics *are* causes of accidents in themselves. Coupled with excessive speed - which is to say, speed the driver can't handle, regardless of his or her self-confidence - they are even more dangerous.
Speed cameras are not a tax on driving. Let's get that myth dispelled. You can't opt out of paying taxes, but you can opt out of paying speeding fines merely by not speeding. Breaking the law then complaining that you shouldn't have to pay because you don't agree with the law - well, that's stupid. Speed cameras are an entirely legitimate way of enforcing one particular law. What they can't do, as others have pointed out, is ensure safety on their own. But they can (note: 'can') help. If you don't agree with the limits, or any other road law, then by all means protest at the appropriate level - appeal to your council Highways department to have limits changed, perhaps - but in the meantime stick to the rules. Think about it - it's for everyone's benefit. However good a driver *you* might be, the roads are busy. Obeying the laws is a way to make sure that you're predictable for others. Their sticking to the rules helps you predict what they're going to do. And that IS a safety issue. You might have a flash BMW and be guaranteed a new, even shinier one from your firm if you break it - but while you're free to disregard your own safety you have no right to disregard other people's.
As for Jeremy himself, personally I enjoy watching Top Gear (I'm also a big fan of his fellow presenters, I should point out), and I've loved the few of his books I've read. I don't know the man, but I do know the sort of character he portrays. People complain about Top Gear encouraging speeding and the like and they blame Clarkson et al for this - but it's really not their fault. It's the fault of the idiots in the audience who don't know what "tongue-in-cheek" means.
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