Not poor, but the man

Andrew (whatever is his surname, anyway [*]?) The Poor Man says it all… [**]

[*] Anonymous bloggers, while mysterious, are silly. Fair enough if you’re a White House mole or whatever, but Andrew’s a normal-ish liberal-ish blue-state-American bloke; similarly D^2 is a normal-ish (as far as it gets) Welshman. Although occasionally I assume he’s Daniel Drezder in drag, for obvious reasons…

[**] I have no idea what drove me to this late-2003 post, although I suspect it might be the enormous amount of "make infinite amounts of $$$ now" spam. Relevance, precience, and fate, anyway. Thankyou, Viagra salesmen, for driving me to, erm, useful things.

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Fortunate news

At least *some* people who are daft ignorant tossjobs choose to protest against things that aren’t actually happening by not voting, instead of by voting for the populist idiots they’d probably vote for otherwise.

Although the writer wins irony points for claiming "the country just sits around living in fear because they [the media] promote apathy and hatred", and then claiming immediately afterwards that crime is a terrible problem and that the courts are too lenient.

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Surprising restraint

Researching the post below reminded me: it’s very unusual (0 out of 18 level crossing fatalities in 2003) for a train-on-car level crossing crash to kill any passengers, and unusual (1 out of 18) for it even to kill the train driver (p45 of the latest railway safety report sheds more light).

The car on the tracks at Reading was a Mazda 323, which is not a serious or heavy piece of kit. The train was an HST based on MK3 stock, which is collision-resistant and several orders of magnitude more massive than the Mazda. The normal result of a 100mph collision would be train a bit dented, driver [*] understandably traumatised, car rendered entirely theoretical.

It’s most likely that this is the kind of freak accident to which the HSE was referring when it said level crossings offered the "greatest potential for catastrophic risk on the railways" (p4), with a bit of car getting in between rails and wheels, and physics doing the rest.

But I’m surprised, given the media’s constant scaremongering about more or less everything, that nobody’s yet raised the prospect of terrorism: after all, an exploding car would dramatically increase the odds of a level crossing strike that derailed the train and killed a significant number of people.

My guess is that this story fits the [**] "the railways are so rubbish and dangerous, isn’t it dreadful" template so well that adding *another* lazy hack meme to the mix would’ve been far too confusing for all concerned.

[*] Train driver, obviously and just-as-well-ishly.

[**] Completely fictional, but this never stopped anyone before…

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Selfish, inept idiots

Car drivers are, unsurprisingly, responsible for the vast majority of deaths in car, bike, motorbike and pedestrian accidents. Even so, had I been asked five years ago to predict the main causes of deaths in major rail accidents, I wouldn’t have classed the idiots who drive cars among them.

How wrong I was.

I’m not singling out Gary Hart or the fuckwit who caused the latest disaster for *special* blame here – Mr Hart did the same as nearly everyone with a driving license in driving while half-awake; the latest guy may or may not have been attempting suicide but certainly followed the lead of many other imbeciles (and the people in that article are just the ones who got hit).

The driving system in the UK is fundamentally deranged, with levels of incompetence and idiocy allowed that would be illegal and (more importantly) untolerated in any industry or branch of public transport. The laws need completely replacing with a system that stops car drivers from wiping out those of us who prefer less murderous means of transport.

(side note: the greatest credit to come out of this goes to the designers of the MK3 coach. The ratio of bad-crash-ness to fatalities is extremely low, as in all major British rail accidents since Clapham Junction in 1988, because of the design of the carriages involved. This is another reason why all pre-1970s trains in regular passenger service need to be scrapped ASAP).

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Much as I hate to undermine the cohesive, society-building influence of my last article… there are now two "election[s] in which the American public earned the soubriquet ‘The Yanks were too stupid to go for the wonderful guy (and elected the criminal scumbag instead". HTH, HAND.

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Look inside America; she’s alright

I really like the concept of a country founded on the principles of liberty and freedom from tyranny, and that added Mill-ish liberal values into its constitution over 200 years ago.

I love New York, I love the Pacific Northwest, and I’m even quite fond of California. I really want to see Chicago and New Orleans (and I don’t just mean the musicals…), and anywhere in the Northeast would be a civilised place to live. I’d even happily visit the bits in between, if someone who I wasn’t afraid of invited me there.

There’s no real point to this post: I just feel I’ve been a bit negative about Yankland lately. I don’t like your president, but hell, I hated John Major too. Don’t take it personally: America still rocks far more than most places on earth.

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