Riding Blind : Dead Hippy Axle Dressing vs Situational Awareness

Riding Blind

For my first post in a long long time, I’m going to talk about some things I have rarely mentioned since I started this blog. Those being cycling and blindness.

There is a reason – apart from whimsy – why this blog is called “Blind Cyclists’ Union”. I am a long time cyclist, and I am also ‘blind’. You’ll note that I’ve put quotes around that ‘blind’ there, because, apparently, ‘blind’ is a spectrum rather than a binary condition.

Well, it is according to those who are responsible for labelling the disabled in order to better pigeon-hole and patronise them – as the DWP (and they should know!) tells us :

Most people who are registered blind have some degree of residual vision.

Yeah, it came as a surprise to me as well, but there you go, in order to be registered blind, you don’t actually have to be.

So the question arises : “How blind ?”. And the answer is, frankly, fucked if I know. I mean how am I supposed to measure it ? Blind enough to be registered, that’s for sure, which is moire than blind enough to fail the mandatory DVLA sight test by a wide margin. It used to be a red letter day if I managed to guess the second line on an eye chart. It’s not correctable, and it obviously degrades with age like everybody else’s. There are additional complications around dazzling from bright lights, ‘floaters’ and various stuff.

Whatever. Anyway, 99.9% of the time this is utterly and profoundly irrelevant. I only bring it up because of a recent spate of spew from the cycling lobby which has particularly boiled my piss.

On Yer Bike

As I mentioned above, I am also a cyclist. I have been since I was a child. I ride on the roads. Less so these days – in my late 30s I trust my reactions less than I used to – but still reasonably regularly. Shock horror, eh ?

Anyway, there’s the background on my end, lets get on with the overheated urine.

Fuck Off Jon Snow

Initially my ire was aroused by this piece in the Indy, whereby Jon (C4 News Snow), the CTC and the Indy have all started a campaign to “Save our cyclists”.

Here’s a gem

The campaign aims to protect cyclists from lorries and buses, which account for a disproportionate number of the 230 cyclists killed or seriously injured every month on Britain’s roads.

HGVs and buses are the largest vehicles on the roads, and have by far the most limited fields of view. You are likely to be KSId if one drives over you, that’s for sure. Then again, they are the most visible – and most visibly dangerous – vehicles on the road as well, so it should be a surprise that they are involved with so many cycle deaths. But somehow I don’t think that’s the point that the Indy is trying to make.

Ambush Predator flags up that on the same day the AA launched a cycling safety campaign by giving away a huge number of free helmets and hi vis tabards. I’d have taken them up on that like a shot, free stuff – what’s not to like ?

Well according to the Evening Standard article AP links to and to it’s author’s blog a number of cyclists did indeed take the huff. The published comments are sourced directly from Twitter – of course – here’s a gem :

Oh, ho ho ho, my sides to fucking split.

Wait A Mo, Did You Say On The Roads ?

@geographyjim’s timeline contains various other tweets insinuating that all cycle deaths are the fault of poor drivers, criminals in charge of HGVs and the like. I am living proof that this is simply not true.

I’ve been riding around on the roads – busy roads mind you – with lorries and buses for more than twenty years, and I am not dead. Here is a full list of all the accidents I have had in that time involving other vehicles.

Cluster Bomb

Age around 13, riding down my own street my chain came off, looked down at chain, became one with parked red Renault 5 stuffing face through rear driver side light cluster. Ouch. Knocked on owners door, paid for damage – well, my rightly angry dad paid, and it took many weeks of car washing and the like to pay it off. Spent about an hour picking glass and plastic out of face. Entirely my fault.

Junction Dysfunction

Age maybe 15, Riding home from school along busy A road, approaching minor junction with cul-de-sac, judged safe to cross junction as nose to tail traffic blocking vehicle egress from junction. Driver of white Ford Sierra decides to poke his nose out anyway, not paying attention, hits me. Arrive at road surface via bounce off red Ford Transit van on my right who was also crossing junction. Minor scrapes to me + van. Front teeth removed from Sierra driver by owner of red Transit, front bumper of Sierra ripped free by cycle pedal. Fault ? 50/50. He wasn’t looking, but his idiot behaviour was entirely predictable. I should have been watching him, not judging simply by traffic conditions. Surprised ? Transit driver was, he entirely blamed Sierra man. And he made him pay for the dent.

Rib ‘n’ Saucy

Age 30+, proceeding at speed (35 MPH) down steep hill through small light industrial area, vehicle (silver two door hatchback of some kind) reverses out of parking area in front of light industrial unit. Doesn’t see me. Taking evasive action I go wide and hit the kerbstone on the other side of the hill resulting in spectacular and very long distance pile up. Vehicle drives off, almost certainly never saw me. I arrive at destination 30 miles later bruised and bloodied. Subsequently it turns out that I have bust almost the ribs down the right side of my body and a couple on the left. That made the two mile stretch of disused rail track fun.

Fault ? Mine entirely. I know the road, I was going way to fast for the hazard level and not paying enough attention.

That’s all of them.

Dead Hippy Axle Dressing

So, if all of these cycling KSIs can be blamed on drivers, someone needs to tell me how come I – with my ‘low vision’/’partial/restricted sight’/blindness or whatever we’re calling it this week – have been managing to cycle around on busy roads and in bus lanes, four lane roundabouts with HGVs, hordes of zombie commuters and distracted school run mums with overloaded cars full of screaming brats and have only had three accidents in over twenty years, all of which were entirely or partially my fault ?

Surely by now I should have been murdered by one of these feckless criminal zombie drivers the cycling lobby are so keen to blame for all the accidents ? But I haven’t.

Situational Awareness

Because if you’ve put yourself in a position where someone has to see you in order for you to be safe — to see you, and to give a fuck — you’ve already blown it.
Neal Stephenson – Zodiac

The above is from some exposition in the cited novel about cycling in a city, they are words I have – literally – lived by.

If you are on a bicycle on the road it is your responsibility to pay attention to your safety. It is not a safe fluffy environment for cyclists, get used to it. Never assume that someone can see you, never put yourself in a position where they need to in order for you to keep your life. Situational awareness and anticipation skills can be developed to the point where even a blindy like me can ride around on the road without being killed or even seriously injured. If you cycle about the place with the arrogance of a self righteous hippy :

Jamie Crick, a presenter on Classic FM, also contacted The Independent to register his support. He said: “My producer and I both cycle into Classic FM and have been swapping terror stories. The lack of provision for cyclists is woeful in London.

Soon you will die. Simples.

I’m blind and I’m not dead. What’s your excuse ?


Climate change vs Nuclear War

Ambush Predator rightly mocks what the Telegraph describe as “The world’s leading scientists” for their rather hysterical claims that climate change is as much of a threat to humanity as nuclear war.

According to the group of scientists, Nobel laureates all

“It is comparable in magnitude [to nuclear warfare]. With business as usual we will have another five or six degrees Celsius [9 to 10.8F] – that could not sustain civilisation as we know it, which is quite comparable to a nuclear shoot-out. It would mean 80 metres rise in sea level – London, Paris and Copenhagen would disappear. This could not sustain nine billion people [the predicted population of the world.]”

As Ambush Predator asks

Is that all?

No giant marshmallow man? No radioactive monster lizard? No hot hail?

Pah! Some disaster movie…

So we loose a few cities, we can’t sustain so large a population as we’d like and it’s a bit warmer and that’s really about it. There is routinely a five or six degree Celsius temperature difference between where I’m sitting now and Devon. During the summer, Barcelona is usually around ten degrees Celsius hotter.

And while an 80 metre rise in sea level sounds quite bad, should one chose to believe such a figure, it certainly doesn’t match the sort of ‘long night, nuclear winter, all higher life forms scythed from the biosphere, nothing left but dust and cockroaches, etc.’ kind of Armageddon scenario that I grew up having nightmares about.

Perhaps I am just more cynical than Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent and author of this bum gravy, but since there seemed to be such a large disparity between what I was being told now, and what I remembered having been told before, I took ten seconds out of my busy schedule and undertook the minimum possible amount of research available to a 21st Century human with an internet connection. Yes, I googled it.

And well well, what do you say, looky there at the first link. A wikipedia article about nuclear winter.

Now I’m not one to blindly trust wikipedia articles, but a look through the sources for this article reveals it to be largely based on the paper “Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic consequences” by Alan Robock, Luke Oman and Georgiy L Stenchikov. A 2007 study of the climatic effects of a nuclear war which is rather adequately summarised by the article.

For a conflict involving one third of the world’s nuclear arsenal

A global average surface cooling of –7°C to –8°C persists for years, and after a decade the cooling is still –4°C (Fig. 2). Considering that the global average cooling at the depth of the last ice age 18,000 yr ago was about –5°C, this would be a climate change unprecedented in speed and amplitude in the history of the human race. The temperature changes are largest over land … Cooling of more than –20°C occurs over large areas of North America and of more than –30°C over much of Eurasia, including all agricultural regions.

So, no agriculture for at least a decade. At all. None. Most of the surface of the earth at or below freezing. And that’s just the climate, without taking into account the additional destruction to life and infrastructure that would accompany a nuclear conflagration of such proportions.

So in point of fact it isn’t really even comparable, by any sane person, to the scenario outlined in the article for worst case climate change. A large scale nuclear dust up would, in all likelihood kill us all and most of the other warm blooded species on the planet.

You’d like to think that such a supposedly elite bunch of ‘scientists’ would have bothered to check the facts before issuing such utter tripe as a press release, but apparently if you’re a climate scientist, this isn’t necessary.

Either that or the bastards are happy to knowingly participate in a deceitful propaganda campaign that suits their agenda.

Either way, is it possible to have someone’s Nobel taken off them ?

Members of the St James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium you are charlatans.

And Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, you are a complete waste of oxygen. It took me one google search to discredit this story but you have regurgitated it in it’s entirety without bothering to check a single fact, you stupid pointless bitch.

UPDATE : Bishop Hill catches The Times out in similar cut’n’paste climate journalism here.

Nuke libertarian gay baby whales for Jesus!

This morning as I was languishing in bed contemplating the day’s work, downing a cuppa and perusing the morning outpourings of the magical steam powered interweb, as you do, my ire was somewhat raised by a story hosted on auntie beeb about a Canadian dignitary.

Canada’s Governor General Michaelle Jean has strongly defended her decision to eat raw seal heart as a show of support to seal hunters.

I’m trying to get the hang of writing shorter, more interesting posts, really I am, so I’m going to skip the sickening way the BBC have reported this, I’m going to ignore the fact that they use the phrases “seal hunters” and “commercial seal hunters” interchangeably with “Inuit people”.

I’m even going to ignore the Animal Rights Nutters angle, save to say that if “clubbing” an animal to death is “barbaric” then you are doing it wrong. As a young chap I trapped, killed and ate my share of wildlife, and more recently have had frequent cause to despatch large trout using a tool known as a priest, so I can personally vouch for the fact that a swift crushing blow to the cognitive centres of a fish, fowl or mammal leaves it dead as a doornail very, very swiftly, and indeed it is only being squeamish and half hearted about it that is likely to cause the animal suffering.

That out of the way, what particularly incensed me was the following

The incident came weeks after the EU voted to ban Canadian seal products … on the grounds that the seal hunt is cruel.

Did they now, did they by Jove ? This raises two of the questions that would, were I not otherwise occupied, currently be keeping me awake at night, viz : “Am I a Libertarian ?” and “Is democracy really right for me ?”

Now no one from the EU came around and canvassed my opinion about the cruelty or otherwise or killing seals, or the fairness or otherwise of

It’s surveillance Jim, but not as we know it

Behind the curve on this one by some way, but hey ho, there you go. Last week my eye was caught by the some posts on councils using citizens (children, in fact) to ‘spy’ on other citizens.

Ambush Predator asks an excellent question :

A spokesman for the council said: ‘Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and its project partner Serco do not conduct any surveillance of residents in enforcement of environmental crimes, and neither do the community champions that have volunteered.’

Why have you dished out hand-held computers with camera capability then?

A very good question, and one which I am happy to answer in lieu of the quoted spokesweasel.

I think what Mr Weasel meant to say was “… do not do anything which would constitute ‘directed’ or ‘intrusive’ surveillance’ under Section 26 of the Regulation Of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and therefore require an authorisation under Section 28.”

26(2) contains the relevant definition :

(2) Subject to subsection (6), surveillance is directed for the purposes of this Part if it is covert but not intrusive and is undertaken—

(a) for the purposes of a specific investigation or a specific operation;

(b) in such a manner as is likely to result in the obtaining of private information about a person (whether or not one specifically identified for the purposes of the investigation or operation); and

(c) otherwise than by way of an immediate response to events or circumstances the nature of which is such that it would not be reasonably practicable for an authorisation under this Part to be sought for the carrying out of the surveillance.

After all, if one of WHBCs little helpers spots someone putting plastic in their wheelie bin (the horror!) that’s certainly an “immediate response to events or circumstance”, and it probably isn’t “reasonably practicable for an authorisation under this Part to be sought for the carrying out of the surveillance.”

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader (assuming one happens along) to spot the other loopholes possibly being exploited here.

I hope I’m just overly cynical and WHBC didn’t really just try to use children,some of whom – according the original article referenced by Ambush Predator – are below the age of legal responsibility (and presumably WHBC won’t be in loco parentis of when they are out snapping) to try and dodge their obligations under RIPA, because that would make the whole thing even more disgusting than the whole brainwashing them to be agents of the state thing.

And that’s really quite high up on the scale of disgusting.

But we have to assume that if they’re sending people out to take photos, they must at least have read RIPA, right ?

A case in point

In my last post, I mentioned that I feel that a useful pre-emptive approach to any future potential energy/climate crises is that anyone who plays ‘greener than thou’ should be rendered for bio-diesel.

Little did I know that within mere minutes I would come upon three apposite examples. Hardly surprising, though, that those should emerge from an article in that vile repository of creeping green totalitarianism the Guardian, where misanthropic bint Madeleine Bunting explains her version of a green utopian future in which, amongst many other shining beacons of hope :

your children will not be better off than you – in fact, in many significant material ways they will be worse off

along with these unpalatable home truths will be the need for intervention in the minutiae of people’s lives: how much you heat your home or use water; how you move and eat.

She is soundly rebutted by both Mr Eugenides and Longrider so I won’t waste time by enumerating all the ways in which she is an evil harpy, instead we shall move on to the other walking fuel substitutes she name checks in her article.

Step forward one Professor Tim Jackson, author of a report titled “Prosperity Without Growth”

He isn’t the first person to erroneously conflate GDP with consumption, fail to grasp the more obvious truths expressed by Mazlo, to suggest massive social engineering projects (or brainwashing, as I like to call it) that favour industries in which he has a financial interest, or to suggest wholesale socio-economic change without so much as a single cost benefit analysis. And he won’t be the last.

He’s clever though. He’s had a good hard look at capitalism and realised that if you want to provide global prosperity without having to rub the evil grit of GDP growth in Gaia’s soft and loving eyes, you can, in fact, achieve it with one incredibly simple step. Can you guess what it is ? Yes, that’s right, you simply redefine what prosperity means! It’s so simple it’s wonder a moron didn’t think of it … oh … wait.

Number three in our list of future vehicle emissions is Anthony Giddens a man so stupid that the tagline to the linked article reads “We are on the brink of a revolution: the demise of the fossil-fuel economy”.

Unless Giddens knows something the rest of us don’t abut fusion research this is arsewash, and likely to remain so until a brealthrough in that area is achieved.

Says Bunting :

The role of state intervention will be huge; people’s choices will have to be “edited”, admits Anthony Giddens in his recent book, The Politics of Climate Change. Leaving individuals to find the moral strength to resist the cultural pressures will simply not be effective (the MPs’ expenses saga would seem to justify this conclusion). Our lives will have to be regulated in ways that we can’t imagine. Consumer advertising will have to be curbed to prevent it exploiting insecurity and anxiety to create new markets.

Edited ? My behaviour will have to be edited ? And this is some awful secret known only to him that he grudgingly shares with the rest of us, is it ? Come round to my house Anthony and try to edit to me. I’ll happily cut and paste you into the recycle bin, you utter twat.

As a final indication of just how lacking in critical faculties the author is, she posits a question :

“What will be difficult is the governance of these changes: what kind of state will be required to push these changes through ?”

A fucking horrible totalitarian one with no respect for human beings, you stupid puritan harridan.

Truly these people are the Green Slime

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