Archive for United Kingdom

wanton and furious cycling

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2017 by xi'an

A cyclist was convicted of “wanton or furious driving” last week in London after hitting a pedestrian crossing the street, leading to her death a few days later. The main legal argument for the conviction was that the cyclist was riding a “fixie”,  a bike with no front brake and fixed-gear, as used in track cycling. Which is illegal in Britain and, I just found out, in France too. (He was actually facing manslaughter, for which he got acquitted.) This is a most tragic accident, alas leading to a loss of a human life, and I did not look at the specifics, but I do not get the argument about the brakes and the furious driving: if the rider was going at about 28 km/h, which seems a reasonable speed in low density areas [and is just above my average speed in suburban Paris], and if the pedestrian stepped in his path six meters ahead, he had less than a second to react. Front brake or not, I am certainly unable to react and stop in this interval. And braking hard with the front brake will invariably lead to going over the bars: happens to me every time I have to stop for a car with my road bike. And would if I had to stop for a pedestrian.

Incidentally [or accidentally], here is the item of British Law from 1861 on which prosecution was based:

“Whosoever, having the charge of any carriage or vehicle, shall by wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect, do or cause to be done any bodily harm to any person whatsoever, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years.”

And here are the most reasonable views of the former Olympian Chris Boardman on this affair and the hysteria it created…

both sides [no comment]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2017 by xi'an

“I think there is blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it.” Donald Trump, Aug 15, 2017

“What I condemn is the violence that’s been done by any side, by all sides, in all this.” Jeremy Corbyn, Aug 7, 2017

Boots is deliberately overcharging for the morning-after pill!

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , on July 21, 2017 by xi'an

“Boots charges £28.25 for Levonelle emergency contraceptive (the leading brand) and £26.75 for its own generic version. Tesco now charges £13.50 for Levonelle and Superdrug £13.49 for a generic version. In France, the tablet costs £5.50.” The Guardian, July 20, 2017

the end of travel?

Posted in Books, Linux, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on June 25, 2017 by xi'an

First came the bad news that travelling [by plane] with any electronic device larger than a small cell phone would be prohibited unless the device was checked in. I first thought this was a sort of weird protectionism for American airlines, since only Middle-East carriers seem to be impacted at the moment, but there are serious hints this could soon be extended to all flights to the USA. And to the UK. And likely to about every flight in a near future. That is fairly annoying and more, not only because it hugely reduces the ability to work on a plane [unless carrying paper printouts of every paper one wanted to read or review during a long flight, until this is as well considered as a fire hazard!], but mostly because quite likely these electronic devices in checked-in bags will be damaged or stolen. So the only convenient [least inconvenient] solution may be to stop travelling with laptops and operate on remote or cheap disposable machines from whenever one is. Since I presume even the smallest PCs like Raspberry Pi’s will be banned at some point. The only good news are for computer companies. And book sellers maybe.On top of this, I learned that the UK has [again!] copied the US in requiring visitors and even its own citizens to open devices to Border or Customs officers. And to disclose social media identities and associated passwords. A British Human Rights activist was recently arrested at London Heathrow for refusing to do so. And I read today that divulging those media IDs are now optional on the visa waiver program and possibly soon to be compulsory. Which sounds insane as a way to fight terrorism as it is obvious to set parallel accounts. And yet another travel nuisance.

At some point in the past, I had mused that we would soon be forced to travel with no personal item, maybe not even our own clothes, but a uniform provided by the airline. With luggages on a drone plane following by a safe margin. The invasion of privacy now contemplated and soon implemented by states that do not any longer seem concerned with Human Right goes way beyond this fantasy scenario. If travelling between countries means a massive reduction of one’s rights and dignity [which is already quite reduced under the current conditions], travelling may soon become a rare occurrence…

may June 8 be the ides of May!

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , on June 7, 2017 by xi'an

London calling

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , on June 4, 2017 by xi'an

London calling to the imitation zone
Forget it, brother, you can go it alone
London calling to the zombies of death
Quit holding out and draw another breath
London calling and I don’t want to shout

The Clash, 1979

Manchester, United we stand!

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , on May 24, 2017 by xi'an

This is the place
In the north-west of England. It’s ace, it’s the best
And the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands
Set the whole planet shaking.
Our inventions are legends. There’s nowt we can’t make, and so we make brilliant music
We make brilliant bands

We make goals that make souls leap from seats in the stands
And we make things from steel
And we make things from cotton
And we make people laugh, take the mick summat rotten
And we make you at home
And we make you feel welcome and we make summat happen
And we can’t seem to help it
And if you’re looking from history, then yeah we’ve a wealth

But the Manchester way is to make it yourself.
And make us a record, a new number one
And make us a brew while you’re up, love, go on
And make us feel proud that you’re winning the league
And make us sing louder and make us believe that this is the place that has helped shape the world

And so this is the place now with kids of our own. Some are born here, some drawn here, but they all call it home.
And they’ve covered the cobbles, but they’ll never defeat, all the dreamers and schemers who still teem through these streets.
Because this is a place that has been through some hard times: oppressions, recessions, depressions, and dark times.
But we keep fighting back with Greater Manchester spirit. Northern grit, Northern wit, and Greater Manchester’s lyrics.

Tony Walsh