Various hassles are getting in the way of blog entries, but I had to stop for a moment and capture this bit of Glasgow City Council silliness.
There’s a piece of road in Ardgay Street that is no longer actually road since it was converted into Sandyhills Park (back in the late 1970s, I think), so it’s only used by pedestrian.
It’s falling apart, and is better described as a collection of holes than either footpath or road, and has been breaking up for years.
This morning, on my way for the train,I passed a guy shovelling tarmac into one of the holes and another running a petrol-powered tamper over it.
When I went passed again on my way back home in the evening – the team had filled ONE hole, and left.
A pointless and futile effort, as there is at least a dozen (or more) remaining, and the whole area is breaking up as cars, vans, and lorries turn here in order to stop at the nearby shop.
It’s hard to see the extent of the holes in the pic below, they don’t show up well, but you can see the single patch on the right.
Crazy, pointless, and really just a waste of effort, material, and money, as the turning traffic will soon break the patch up.
While I don’t need to be reminded or taught the legalities of the incident, and the responsibility entrusted to those who deliver our mail is to deliver without regard to its content, it’s hard not to sympathise with the postie who binned the ‘junk mail’ he had been loaded down with, rather than delivering to the intended addresses.
While what he really deserved for his initiative was a medal, the rules meant he got an unpaid work order of 135 hours.
After all, I suspect there are few households where such material comes through the letterbox and is not lifted with little more than a glance to see if it has a genuine address to the named resident and address, or is merely bound for ‘The Householder’, or does not even carry an address – and is then transferred summarily to the nearest blue bin for waste paper.
One has to wonder how environmentally sound all this waste paper is, given that much of it comes in envelopes with plastic windows, which are not easy to recycle as the plastic contaminates the paper if not separated at an early stage.
While the mass-mailers claim they keep many postal workers in a job, one might also wonder how much more efficient and better employed our postal service would be if it was not handling tonnes of junk mail, and delivering countless thousands of mail items that become waste the moment they are delivered.
I would be quite happy if my postie binned all the junk mail and leaflets that arrives at my door (he or she actually walks past mu blue bin every time he walks to my letterbox), I have absolutely no interest in it, and never look at it other than to identify it as junk.
It is 100% waste, both in material terms, and in terms of the energy wasted in producing it, transporting it to my door, and then disposing of it.
While I pay a horrendous amount of tax on the basis that my cars pollute, junk mailers get off absolutely free, while we pick up the tab in our Council Tax for dealing with their waste.
Time to tax junk mail
I propose a 100% tax (whatever they cost equals the tax) be levied on all junk mail and leaflets pushed through our doors.
Doubling the cost to companies that insist on dumping huge colour catalogues through our doors (IKEA), or full colour glossy local directories, might help stem the flow.
And any junk mail delivered without being tax paid should result in a fine equivalent to the 100 times the tax on each offending item.
I can dream 🙂
Mail Preference Service
One of the main frustrations that the sort of junk being referred to here arises from the fact that it is not addressed to the house it is delivered to, so the Mail Preference Service cannot stop this rubbish arriving.
Although I had heard a number of detractors claim the MPS did not work, I registered for it, and took the trouble to send every piece of offending mail that continued to arrive to the MPS.
They cannot deal with offenders if not told about them, which I suspect most people do not bother to do after they have signed up, and merely complain that “MPS does not work”.
However, I found that after a few months, and a few repeats of the offending mailing, the last of them ended after about 6 months’ worth of forwarding them to MPS – and they have not returned after many years of being registered.
It does work, but only if you use it correctly and see it through.
But, it can’t do anything about the junk that the postie brings, and which is merely an anonymous drop without the house address on it.
Before venturing into the detail, I have to clarify the use of the word ‘Charity’ in the title. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable in this case, since the problem does arise from the way legitimate charities keep pushing plastic bags, or sacks – appealing for old clothes and unwanted goods – through our doors, and how their initiative has been hijacked by crooks out to steal their donations by following the legitimate appeals with collections intended to collect the same items, with a sham claim of being part of some charitable operation, or just openly collecting the items for resale and profit.
The problem is the number of these appeals, and the amount of plastic bags, or sacks, that they produce which are just discarded in most cases.
One or two such appeals, perhaps made once or twice per year might be acceptable, but one has to wonder at the amount the average home is being expected to put in these sacks, as I counted 19 last year.
That’s a sack from some clothes or goods appeal arriving once every THREE weeks on average – and I suspect the number was greater in the past.
Each usually arrives folded in a small plastic bag printed with the details of the appeal, and this is waste and discarded.
While I keep the larger sack inside the small one (and say ‘Thank you’ for the free sack), I suspect most households just throw the whole lot in the bin, so wasting the material, inks, and energy consumed in manufacturing them. Not very ‘Green’, or environmentally friendly.
The table below shows the name of the organisation pushing these sacks through my door, and the number of time they did this during 2012:
|Coping with cancer||3|
|British Heart Foundation||2|
|Cancer Research & Genetics||2|
|Kidney Kids Scotland||2|
|British Red Cross||1|
|Tree of Hope||1|
I’m sure some will choose to misread this post, and take it as attack of some sort on the real charities that at listed, but all I am doing is pointing out the waste.
It could be done in a better way.
For example, there’s no good reason for delivering these sacks heat sealed into a little plastic bag (some arrive rolled up, with a rubber band holding a printed paper note, but that’s probably not much better) – the sacks could be folded in such a way that they formed a self-closing rectangle, and the organisation’s details and the details of the appeal could be printed on the area that remains visible after folding. This would remove the need for the plastic bag used for delivery, eliminating the waste of material and need for a packing and heat-sealing machine – the latter being replaced by the folding machine.
I haven’t bothered to look at the organisations dropping these sacks off, to see which are genuine and which are bogus, or merely profit oriented (and I am not giving anyone like that my stuff for free if they are going to make an unshared profit from it!), but as they arrive this year, I might have a closer look at them, and repeat this ‘End of Year’ summary next year, with a bit more detail.
This recent article seems to completely miss its own point:
It is not just humans that are steadily growing in girth, webpages are going the same way too.
The average page is now about 965 kilobytes in size, reveals a study of top sites by the HTTP Archive.
The figure is 33% up on the same period in 2010 when the average webpage was a svelte 726 kilobytes.
Keeping webpages small is likely to become more important as increasing numbers of people browse the web on the move.
Analysis suggests the bloat is down to user demands for more interactivity, as well as the tools used to watch what happens when people visit a site.
I wonder if the author was worried about offending somebody – and losing income?
I run a browser that allows me to block all adverts completely and absolutely.
I have not seen an online advert – other than by accident – for more than six years.
When I do, it’s because I am forced to fire up Internet Explorer because some poorly written web page will not work in another browser.
And when I do this, I am appalled at what I am presented with on most pages…
The time taken for pages to load also climbs, as all those animations have to be delivered as well as the legitimate page content.
They’re generally unreadable as the are scattered with various animated adverts trying to draw my eyes away from the static text I actually want to read.
This is made worse as desperate advertisers repeat the same irritating adverts two or more time on the same page, and even have different version made to fit into different spaces on the page.
It wouldn’t be quite as bad if they allowed the reader to halt the animation, but when you right-click for the options, this is never possible.
It’s a relief to gat back to my browser of choice – and freedom from those irritating adverts.
Fortunately for me, the stuff these ads are for are generally tat, so I can easily choose not to buy any of them – not that I have to, as most of them have ‘names, labels, and celebrities’ to pay for, so are overpriced anyway, and can be replaced by generics.
But the bottom line has to be the shameful way the article above blames the web content for the bloat it mentions, rather than the unnecessary adverts loaded into those pages.
I don’t have any problem with one ad to sell or inform buyers, but the high pressure campaigns and brainwashing marketing exercises are things we don’t need, and in these days of ever increasing prices, can do without.
If you buy such products – rather than an unbranded generic – you are funding yet more adverts, and these waste electricity, time, paper, cardboard, ink etc, and lead to more CO2 emissions for no useful purpose. And we are forever being told that CO2 is bad for the planet, aren’t we?
At least when I relate tales like this, it’s not because I’ve spent hours trawling the net, but have merely glanced over the articles that a few selected feeds have deemed interesting, and offered to me for consideration. A few minutes can dispatch 20-3o stories to history.
For those who like to crusade mad Health & Safety causes though, I’m beginning to think there’s a bunch of folk out there who have nothing better to do than sit for hours and work how they can complain about something, and claim that other people’s Health & Safety is compromised by something that those of us who live in the real world have no problem with – probably because we haven’t lost touch with reality – yet.
I seem to recall a recent Barnardo’s advert came in for their attention, because the behaviour depicted – a girl being beaten about the head repeatedly and descending into addiction – could result in brain damage. (Somehow, I think that might have been the message).
Now they’ve had a go at a Coke advert, which depicts a singer called Duffy cycling through a supermarket. Personally, I can’t stand the noise she makes (some call it singing apparently, but that’s not the issue), and you won’t find me paying for a name stuck on some overpriced sweet water, but once again, poor old Health & Safety is being trotted out by self-appointed experts, as 18 people complained the singer was not wearing reflective clothing and her bicycle had no lights in the advert.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also said four viewers worried children could copy her behaviour.
Coca-Cola argued the ad was supposed to reflect “Duffy’s fantasy”, and shows the singer coming offstage before sipping from a can and then cycling through dark streets and into the store, before returning to her concert in time to perform an encore. The drinks company argued that the commercial depicted the singer’s escape from the pressures of stardom and was “far removed from the real world”.
It also said they had gone through a “vigorous” production process to ensure the scenes met Highway Code criteria for riding a bicycle on public roads. The regulations recommend cyclists wear reflective clothing in the dark, and the company pointed out that the singer had worn a black and white sparkly top that stood out, while the bicycle she was riding had lights on the front and rear in each shot.
Following its investigation, the ASA did not uphold the complaints, noting the “fantasy context” and deciding that older children would understand cycling round a supermarket was not a realistic situation.
These people who have nothing better to do really don’t deserve the time of day, and are offered far too much tolerance.
I would propose that our Health & Safety would be better served if time was not wasted in the obligatory process of giving their stupid opinions credibility.
As with the insane legal claims for fat payouts which the “No Win No Fee” mentality has promoted – and led to a preliminary review stage to weed out claims such as the classic claim made for sore because a shopping centre’s floor was “too hard” – maybe someone with should be appointed to review the Health and Safety claims from time-wasters.
I expect I’ll now hear from the animal cruelty brigade because I have an elephant riding a penny farthing bicycle in this post, and the Health & Safety lot because it has no helmet, reflective jacket, armbands, or lights, and is probably overloading its bike as well, just for good measure. Maybe it should both have, and be insured as well, in case it falls off and lands on somebody, and they injure it!
Guess I spent too much time in the real world of Health & Safety, in industry, where people stood to get killed, or lose bits of their bodies if things were not done right, and not in “fantasy world”.
One of the great mysteries which has preyed on my mind, for some years now, has been the lack of a charging socket on petrol-electric hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Pious… what? oh, sorry, Toyota Prius. Widely touted as some sort of miracle, if driven normally (by which I simply mean someone not trying to eke every mile out of each tankful) , then the consumption matches that of any other car with the same size engine – not really a surprise to any engineer as the car’s petrol-electric system is a closed loop. The battery is charged by the engine, so battery mileage still comes out of the tank, and losses in the system account for any contribution that regenerative might make. Regen doesn’t count since anyone with a light foot on the brakes will get very little from that source.
The Prius is generally considered to be nothing more than a Fashion Statement by those who analyse it for themselves, and ignore the hype.
Don’t take my word for it, there are plenty of independent reports to be found on the web, prepared by people with no connection to Toyota, or any other manufacturer, but who have simply been disillusioned by the Pious. And, having to drive it a particular way is no excuse.
As I noted at the start, one of the stunning omissions from cars like the Prius, and all the other hybrids so far as I can recall, has been the complete absence of a charging socket. Instead of being able to plug the car in overnight and charge the battery, the only to charge the battery in a hybrid like the Prius has been to take the thing out for a run.
A BBC news report spotted today might provide the answer. While I can’t get a straight answer from the car’s data, the BBC reporter claims a Prius runs out of battery power after travelling about six miles. The car’s data for the most recent model with improved efficiency and a smaller and lighter NiMH battery shows it has a 200 volt, 1,300 Ah battery combined with a 50 kW electric motor. I’ve no idea what efficiency their control system has, so we have to make some guesses now. While the bare numbers suggest the batteries would run the motor for about half an hour, that assumes a flat discharge curve, and that the motor would run acceptably right up to the last minute, and we know that is wrong as the end of the discharge curve will tail off, leaving the motor running unacceptably slowly. There’s another twist in the data, as the battery is only charged to a maximum of 60% of capacity, in an attempt to extend its life. Without trying too hard, it looks as if we’ve managed to work out that a Pious will only run for 15 minutes, or less, on battery. And in the real world, with transmission and control losses, this will be even less.
If we’re remotely correct, it’s not hard to see why independent experts have christened it a Fashion Statement, and why they’ve never bothered to fit a charging socket. The Prius really is a sop to making a petrol car meet low emission regulations, not to the provision of an alternative power source or renewable power.
Toyota blurb may be hailing the “Prius with a plug” as some sort of miracle that will have everyone plugging in to use mains electricity to charge their Pious battery, and even going so far as to state that they are boosting renewable energy use and promoting wind farms and wave power (even nuclear if I read their claims properly) by creating demand for overnight electricity to charge their hybrids, but until they put a decent size battery in the car in the first place, it’s all pretty pointless – except to let them fiddle with petrol/electric numbers, and add in the electric miles to the petrol miles and calculate wonderful, but impractical, fuel consumption numbers.
I’m afraid I can only conclude that the past lack of a mains lead on the Prius was either because Toyota reckoned it would have been seen as a bit of a joke (for six miles), or that it would be something they could pull out of the box later, and score some green or environmental points with as a “great idea”.
Lest anyone dismiss me as a Toyota-basher, be clear I’m only questioning the claims around the Prius. I am a Toyota owner and like it, you’re not getting any details because I don’t like having to avoid assassins, but I will say it does 15 mpg and is good for getting away from assassins.
Of course, it doesn’t take any engineering analysis at all to work out that the Prius is “show” and not “go” – just look at the way celebrity vermin flock around it and hype their ownership, as if it makes up for all the energy waste their various entourages squander as they follow them about in SUVs, jets, etc etc.
Before the recent local by-election, I noticed the inevitable publicity sprouting up around the area, most noticeably in the form of those dreadful party signs tied around out lampposts.
At the time, the reason I mentioned them was because my last memory of them was cluttering the place up for weeks afterwards, and wondering if we were going to be put up with the same rubbish lying around again.
One odd thing that happened after I made the comment was that no more of these signs were tied to the posts in our street. While we were limited to two (and the scattering of a few Greens), our neighbours in the adjoining streets – which are less frequented thoroughfares than ours – were subject to and average of six. I don’t think I frightened them off, as I didn’t even raise the subject in conversation, or mention to anyone that could have identified the spot.
However, I was out for a wander the other night, and had deliberately not looked for a week, just to see what might have happened after a reasonable time had elapsed from polling day.
Almost proven wrong in all cases, I saw the signs had gone, with only the odd straggler left on the occasional lamppost for some reason, and the view was much improved with all that rubbish gone. One local businessperson had installed huge banners and flags just to make it clear who they supported – 10 foot tall flags and 30 foot long banners along the walls of the premises were hard to miss – and they were gone too.
The only downside was that quite a lot of the cut cable-ties had dropped to the ground and been left. They will be swept up in due course – the little council street sweeping gizmo chugs it way down our street fairly regularly, but I think those abandoned cable-ties may be less than friendly towards the local wildlife and pets.
Eating humble pie – not always a bad thing.
Glasgow is an untidy city and litter laws are ignored. You would expect that at least prospective councillors would instruct their agents not to deface walls, shops and public buildings with posters. Nearly all voters received their literature via the letterbox, so there is no need for posters.
In future, candidates should be compelled to remove these ugly posters or deposit an extra £50 on nomination day to the Cleansing Department to deal with this nuisance.
Given your scribe’s earlier musings on the rubbish being tied around all the lampposts in Glasgow’s east end at the moment, you could be forgiven for thinking the preceding was written by the same person, but you’d be wrong.
The apparently random and unrelated picture may have given you a clue that there was something afoot (and the Apollonian reference is purely coincidental), and you’d then have been right.
The opening text was actually written by Name and address supplied of Glasgow, who had their letter published in the now defunct Glasgow Citizen newspaper of May 22, 1969. I happened to find this topical item when I found the old paper, and its photographs of Apollo 10, which it introduced with:
For the first time in any Scottish newspaper, readers can study the superb colour close-ups taken by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Thomas Stafford from only eight miles above the Moon’s surface. These pictures, the most exclusive ever taken, will pave the way July’s scheduled landing on the Moon by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin.
Together with the Command Module nicknamed Charlie Brown, where astronaut John Young remained alone, and is usually forgotten, Cernan and Stafford piloted the Lunar Module, Snoopy, to test its radar and ascent engine, survey Apollo 11’s landing site, and also made the first ever live colour TV transmission from space.
Even though we are supposedly all green and environmentally friendly and aware, it seems that things are no better 39 years later, and an election still means rubbish plastered all over the place, and another rain forest giving its life in the name of election communication that have a life of around 1 second, as they make their way from letterbox to bin. I seem to have received as many mailings this week as I did last week, and all from the same people.
The most pathetic attempt arrived this afternoon. I already referred to the sad boilerplate letters, where the candidate pretends to know you by pasting your name and address into a template letter, apparently supposed to fool you into thinking it has been personally written to you. Today’s new low was delivered in an envelope that had been printed in a longhand font, in blue ink, presumably to make it look as if someone had taken the time to write it out in longhand – just for you. I still shudder as I think of our Sales & Marketing director bundling our typist off home with bundles of envelopes at the weekend, paying them a few quid to hand write the envelopes for his next, greatest, sales campaign – that made me shudder too. Anyway, having gone to all the effort of producing this mock, personally addressed envelope, the candidate involved lost any chance of winning a vote by addressing me as “Dear Resident” on the enclosed letter.
Yet another case of someone without two brain cells to rub together – but still good for a bit of a laugh on its way to the (recycle) bin.
And I managed to make a post that included by-elections, space exploration, and history, and all without being deliberately contrived.
Beginning to feel a little neglected down our way.
While neighbouring streets have spouted anything up to four campaign banners on their public lampposts and street railings, we’ve been left with only one until this morning, when we woke up to discover the banner gnomes had been up at the crack of dawn, and we’d received the free gift of a second banner, and yes, the Scottish Labour gnomes are indeed taller than the SNP gnomes, and their banner has been installed above their opponent’s banner.
I wonder if any of the candidates has ever heard any of the dopes that strap loudspeakers on their car, and then drives around bellowing inane drivel in some sort of sad attempt to drum up support for the one they worship.
If they weren’t so sad as to waste their time on this pointless promotion, they might be at home when one of their number passes them doing the same thing. If so, then they might wonder at what the point of this exercise is. It certainly doesn’t do anything to publicise their candidate or inform anyone about them.
All that happens is you hear the indistinct, mushy speech somewhere in the distance, so you can’t make out what is being said as they are moving around.
Next, if they happen to come down your street, the chances are they’ll have a some horn loudspeakers strapped on the roof of their car, being directional, the result is that you still can’t really hear anything until they get close, and then once they’re past, you can’t hear them again. The net result is that all you get is a few sentences when they’re close, which means little.
They could stop, but who’s going to loiter and listen? They could drive a lot slower, but they’re on the public road, so I’m sure someone would call the police and report them for driving without due care and attention, since they’d be interfering with normal traffic flow.
All in all, these loudspeaker cars seem very pointless – whatever else they do, they don’t get any message across. Even if you could hear them, since you only hear a few seconds of their message at best, they do little more than advertise a lack of thought.
Some them do score more points for comedy though, and you can only wonder at the few that appear with home stereo speakers tied onto the car roof, and wonder what state they’re in when they’re taken back home, especially if it’s been raining while they were out.
It’s a pity they pass so quickly, as they’re always out of sight by the time I get to the window and can look down into the street for a pic. And that doesn’t say much for their effectiveness either.
Much as this post could be about what the title might suggest is the obvious subject, it’s not. Rather it relates to the amount of rubbish that the current (and all the other) election campaigns will generate.
Some SNaPpy riser was up early, and they had adorned not one or two lamposts (which might be deemed reasonable) with their favourite yellow and black artwork, but had decorated whole streets with the same stuff, as if volume and numbers would bludgeon the population into submitting to their message. Better still, whoever put these up, while being unable to work out that overkill would atually lose votes, had been imaginative enough to arrange these adverts so that they were facing oncoming traffic on both sides of the street, causing accidents as they diverts drivers’ attention from the road and children wandering about thereon. Not a particularly good reflection on the party they represent. Unfortunately, they also forgot the potential voter on foot, who is still free to walk on either side of the street as they please, and might only ever see the back of the sign, unless there’s some bylaw in place I don’t know about.
Regardless of their effectiveness (nil in this household, actually negative), we’re going to have to look at this rubbish for the next 17 days until the elections on the 24th. I understand that in theory, these adverts are then supposed to be removed by whoever placed them – care to take a bet on this happening? Did it happen after the last election? Well, did it?
For once, I see a good job for a “Jobsworth” – someone with a little white van, equipped with a clipboard and camera, recording all these adverts tied to lampposts, poles, street guardrails and whatever, wherever they are still in place after the election grace period, and every candidate slapped with fine for not seeing to their removal. Fines payable by the candidate too, not the party, so they can lose that along with their deposit.
The worst aspect of these pole ads is that it brings about a rivalry, and I expect to see the other candidates hire taller flyposters to have their offerings placed higher than the current incumbent in a futile attempt to gain greater prominence, leading to more rubbish and waste. And another fairly safe bet that there won’t be any sort of rush to remove these later additions from our lampposts either.
It was the same as last week, when I got what looked like a government letter, maybe even something important. Instead, it was nothing more than a begging letter from one of the local MPs, pleading for a vote. Worse still, it contained a survey and envelope for something I didn’t even bother to finish reading as it was so pointless, and the whole lot went straight in the bin in seconds – worthless and pointless waste.
It all seems terrbily wasteful, from the same people that look at us and expect to be taken seriously when the tell us to recycle, not drive, be green and environmentally friendly, but will produce what will no doubt amount to tons of waste in an effort to have us keep them in a position where they can keep on chanting “Do as I say, not as I do”.
No wonder I have no time for them.
(If I need say, this is partly tongue-in-cheek, but still seriously directed at the campaging and the waste it produces, not anyone’s favourote party or MP).
I make no secret of hiding my utter contempt for cliques, and any sort of group that seeks to establish some sort of superiority above those who do not see things the way it does.
Take, for example, the iStuffs. Members of this group see anything preceded with the letter ‘i’ as having some sort of magical excellence lacking in the same thing without the mystic prefix. They will pay many time the price for a glorified MP3 player, even though it won’t play MP3s and forces them to buy proprietary music tracks, and then there’s a certain mobile phone with the same prefix, devoid of any real innovation, surpassed by the technical abilities of the competition, locked into an expensive provider, and even with software that threatens to lock it and deny the user access if they try and circumvent restrictions placed on them.
As noted earlier, the residents of Dysart had a big white wooden box foisted upon them at a cost of some £18,000 in the name of ‘art’. Nobody asked them if they wanted it, and it was eventually ordered to be dismantled after meeting determined their protests were valid, there had been irregularities in the planning and installation, and there were unseen Health & Safety issues.
Now, a fully paid up member of the Art Clique has decided to brand the residents of Dysart as “phillistines” through the pages of an Aberdeen based magazine, Art Work.
In his magazine article, author John Di Folco wrote: “The doughty denizens of Dysart have certainly set themselves up as hot contenders for this year’s Philistines Oscar
“Fife Council bowed to the strident protests on the basis that ‘nobody was comfortable with the health and safety issues,’ which is a pity since a goodly number of public art works throughout the UK would fail to meet this requirement, but thankfully remain in situ.
“That it failed is ultimately due to a disturbing trend which accords strongly-held, forcefully expressed and often ill-informed opinions, a credence and credibility they simply do not deserve.”
There’s really only one philistine in evidence here, and he didn’t wake up to find this rubbish nailed under his front window one day. We can be pretty sure whatever view he does have will have been chosen for its artistic content, and he’d be first in the queue of complainants at the council’s door if his outlook was defaced in this way.