Monday, 20 October 2014

A bijou rant-ette: Robbing bastards and Misapplication of laws.

The title of this post is based on The dirty, robbing bastards!

1. Robbing bastards.

Once upon a time, I used to enjoy driving. Maybe getting older has made me less tolerant, but I now hate driving, for several reasons.

1. Increased road congestion, increasing journey times and frustration.

2. Slow-coaches driving well below the speed limit, increasing journey times and frustration.

3. P.I.G.S (People Incapable of Giving Signals). I'm not a %^&*ing mind-reader!

4. P.P.P.R.P. (People with Piss-Poor Road Positioning), obstructing the road when they're manoeuvring, causing delays and frustration.

5. P.P.P.L.D. (People with Piss-Poor Lane Discipline), causing me stress, especially on roundabouts.

6. "Chelsea Tractors" and other large vehicles, obstructing the road when they're manoeuvring, causing delays and frustration.

7. Cyclists wobbling from side to side, or riding two abreast, obstructing the road, causing delays and frustration.

8. P.P.P.H.A. (People with Piss-Poor Headlight Alignment). High headlight aim fails the MOT test. Therefore, vehicles with high headlight aim are technically unroadworthy. Why are so many unroadworthy vehicles on the road and why do the traffic police do nothing about it? Also, H.I.D. (High-Intensity Discharge) headlights. When sitting in a Mazda MX-5, my eyes are only 3'6" (I measured it) above the ground, making me very susceptible to being dazzled by oncoming headlights that are aimed too high. I find H.I.D. (High Intensity Discharge) headlights particularly dazzling. Being dazzled causes me stress, as I can't see properly.

I've been emphasising the words frustration and stress, as these raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Chronic frustration and stress while driving chronically elevate cortisol, which is bad for health for several reasons. See Cushing's syndrome.

Here's a video I shot, using the camera on my Samsung Galaxy SII phone, mounted on the driver's door window with the lens 3'6" above the ground. The video is shaky, due to a combination of uneven roads and very firm suspension. When the headlights flare-out on the video, it means that the sensor in the camera is being overloaded. Ditto my eyes. I speeded it up to shorten the duration, and added an appropriate soundtrack, using Windows Live Movie Maker. Enjoy!

When I can't take being dazzled any longer, I lower the visor to the point where it blocks light from oncoming headlights. This makes seeing high-up objects (e.g. road signs and traffic lights) difficult.

9. Reading Borough Council. Here's a video I'd rather not have been in (published with permission).

Salient points from the above video:-

1. Reading Borough Council are enforcing Bus Lanes at all hours. Where I live, Bus Lanes are only enforced during peak hours, which is reasonable, as Bus Lanes allow Public Transport to travel freely on roads that become congested during peak hours. Sarcasm Alert! Note the heavy traffic congestion in the non-Bus Lane at 01:32 in the middle of the night.

2. The road surface is shiny, due to surface water. There's quite a high reflection coefficient, when viewed from the high angle of incidence of the Bus Lane enforcement camera. As the angle of incidence decreases, the reflection coefficient increases. At low angles of incidence, such as my view of the road from 3'6" above the ground, the reflection coefficient is nearly 100%.

3. There's an oncoming vehicle with bright headlights. I would have had the visor down, so I wouldn't have seen the red traffic light, until I was so close that it was visible around the side of the visor.

See also:-
Bus lane fine in Reading - PistonHeads.
Vastern Road Reading bus lane - FightBack Forums
Is Reading Anti Motorist?

Reading and I have history!

My first encounter was with Reading Borough Council and was on 7.11.2009. It involved the Parking Permit below (Reg. No. deleted):-

Reading Borough Council tried to prosecute me for non-display of the above permit. I appealed on the grounds that Reading Borough Council didn't provide a self-adhesive strip to stick the flimsy bit of paper to the windscreen (as is the case with virtually all car park tickets), and that their flimsy bit of paper had blown off the dashboard of my Mazda MX-5. My appeal was accepted. That's the only time I've come out on top with Reading Borough Council.

My second encounter was with Thames Valley Police and was on 4.10.2010 at 23:56. It involved the (Sarcasm Alert!) Vastern Road revenue generation scheme.
See also:-
Positioning of "Safety" speed cameras - WhatDoTheyKnow

The two lanes each way dual-carriageway was virtually deserted at 23:56, so virtually every driver that drove down that road at that time (about one a minute) was prosecuted for exceeding 30mph.

"It wouldn't be very profitable if everyone stuck to the speed limit" Kate Smith, Thames Valley Police.
No shit, Sherlock! The main indication that the road has a 30mph speed limit are lamp-posts. The West end of the road is part residential. The East end of the road has offices on the North side and a trading estate on the South side, both closed at night. When a motorist comes across a virtually deserted two lanes each way dual-carriageway in the middle of the night, there are two possible responses:-

1. Oh, look! A two lanes each way dual-carriageway with lamp-posts. I'd better drive at ≤30mph.
2. Oh, look! A two lanes each way dual-carriageway. National speed limit (70mph) applies.

I'm guessing that 2. is the usual (though incorrect) response. Why is the 30mph speed limit enforced in the middle of the night down the East end, when the offices and trading estate are closed and the road is virtually deserted?

Thought Experiment in Logic: If Reading Borough Council was concerned about the 25 injuries (1 serious) that occurred in the previous 3 years, they could have done more than just having one of THESE (seen on a recent stroll up Vastern Road using Google Street View) e.g. by adding THESE (as per the A325 in Farnborough) and THESE (as per the A325 in Farnborough). However, that would result in fewer drivers speeding and a drop in revenue from speeding fines.

There have been other encounters (e.g. the GATSO on a downhill road, where speed creeps up unless the speedometer is regularly checked, also police enforcement of a 40mph speed limit on the three lanes each way dual-carriageway section of the A33 at 00:23), but I won't bore you with the details.

2. Misapplication of laws.

Laws are intended to deter people from causing harm, or punish people who cause harm. I've noticed a tendency for organisations to use laws to extract money from people, and cover their own backs. I received a 61 page evidence pack from Reading Borough Council for a case before the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, to which I am taking them, as they refused to accept my mitigating circumstances for driving in the Bus Lane (poor visibility and excessive reflection from a wet road when viewed from 3'6" feet above the ground). Most of the evidence pack was to show that Reading Borough Council met all laws with their street and road signs. They also informed me that Mazda met all laws in the design and manufacture of my car, therefore the offence must be entirely my fault. Their evidence pack also contained a straw man fallacy, plus the implication that I nearly went through the red traffic light due to driving at "such a speed".

Some readers will think that I'm a careless driver who's trying to justify my carelessness. When I drive, I have priorities. They are as follows, followed by results achieved since passing my driving test in August 1979:-

2. DON'T HIT OTHER CARS. Result: Number hit at ≥5mph = 0. Number hit at ≤5mph = 3. Number hit requiring exchange of details = 1.
3. DON'T HIT HARD OBJECTS. Result: Number hit at ≥5mph = 0. Number hit at ≤5mph = ~3.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

A tale of the unexpected & an analogy.

The tale.

A friend had a faulty lap-top mains adaptor. It was one of these:-

I offered to fault-find it. I measured the output voltage with my multimeter.

The output voltage was 0V.

I felt the lead where it exited the connector. It didn't feel right, so I cut the connector off & stripped-off some insulation. Lo and behold, the inner conductor (it was co-axial cable) was broken. I prepared the conductors, tinned them, soldered them and powered the adaptor, with a sense of impending triumph.

The output voltage was 0V.

I tested the continuity from conductors to connector. That's when I discovered that there was a short-circuit between the inner and outer conductors. I snipped-off the connector and confirmed that it was the connector that was short-circuited, not the adaptor or cable. I fitted a replacement connector and powered the adaptor, with a sense of impending triumph.

The output voltage was 0V.

At this point, I decided that the adapter was Beyond Economic Repair and advised the friend to buy a new one, which subsequently worked perfectly.

So, how did the adapter get to have not one, not two but THREE faults on it? It turned out that the lead had been yanked sideways, which bent the connector. The friend had straightened the connector with pliers (!). This short-circuited the connector, resulting in an internal fuse blowing in the adapter. The friend then "jiggled" the connector in the socket, in a vain attempt to make it work. This broke the inner conductor of the co-axial cable.

The analogy.


Some health problems are multi-factorial. Fixing only one, but not all of the problems, results in not fixing the problem. So, if you try "A" and there's no improvement, either "A" isn't one of the problems, or "B", "C"......"Z" need fixing, too.

This post was inspired by Effects of 12 weeks high dose vitamin D3 treatment on insulin sensitivity, beta cell function, and metabolic markers in patients with type 2 diabetes and vitamin D insufficiency - a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

Taking an effective dose of Vitamin D3 for a reasonable length of time didn't make a significant difference to insulin sensitivity or beta cell function. It did for me, as my main problem was Vitamin D insufficiency. I got lucky.

You are *never* going to guess what happened on Saturday night - Part 2.

In You are *never* going to guess what happened on Saturday night, I got to sing with a band called Mirrorball at The Falkners Arms in Fleet. I think that you can probably now guess what happened last night!
"When you're gone", by Bryan Adams & Melanie Chisholm
"Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams.
More "Summer of '69".

If I'd known that a friend was going to be there with her camera, I would have worn smarter clothes!