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Archive for October, 2007

Embryo police state?

If ever a video shows you what is wrong with New Labour’s Britain these days, this is it. I still can’t believe what I’m watching is true.

Mr Pollard was reported as clearing up flood rubbish from his front garden when he noticed the police harassing a youth opposite his house. Mr P. retrieved his camera and this is what he filmed!

The film needs little further explanation. It is a small but telling example of the gradual breakdown in trust between a once highly regarded police force, and the public in general.

This seems to me a small but important example which demonstrates the way in which policing has changed significantly in the last 20-30 years.

I’m old enough (60s) to remember the ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ era, where police still exhibited the same sorts of characteristics that Robert Peel instigated over 170 years ago when he formed the Metropolitan police. Until recent times the police were essentially the same sorts of citizens as the rest of us, albeit ones with the significant additional powers of arrest. But nevertheless they were a citizen’s force first and foremost. They upheld the citizens rights against those who sought to act outside the law, be they state officials or other citizens.

In the last generation I’ve noticed a distinct shift away from their traditional role, and they are ever more becoming an arm of the state rather than the citizenry. One only has to think of the powers they have acquired to arrest people outside Downing Street who have the temerity to read out a list of those who have died in Iraq, or the arrest of those who wish to protestt within a kilometre of the Houses of Parliament.

This video neatly sums it up for me. The first reaction of the police in question, is to seek to prevent an ordinary Englishman going about his own business on his own property. Moreover they appear to be making up the law on the hoof.

I contrast this with the way in which I have observed the Police in Manchester, who regularly film those who are participating in peaceful protests in the city centre. When I’ve asked them why they are filming, the stock excuse is, ‘in case any complaints are made afterwards, we have the evidence’. Well if filming peaceful protestors is good enough for the police, then it seems the sauce for the gander is that ordinary citizens should in turn be free to film the police.

Mr Pollard (the film maker) is to be congratulated on capturing this evidence on video. It is to be hoped that it receives a much wider audience.

All I’d ask is that anyone seeing this passes it on. And if you are a UK citizen, please contact your MP and ask, nay demand that they get to grips with this. Ask them to raise the whole subject of police powers and their drift away from being a citizens force, and seek answers from the government as to what they propose doing about it.

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Practical skills

A small point today, but one which sent my mind wondering.

The lad from next door found a flat tyre in his mother’s car which he’d been borrowing. Obviously and sensibly he was wondering how bad it was and what should be done. I happened to be passing so had a look and confirmed that there was indeed a puncture, and pointed out the culprit, a screw that had become embedded in the tyre tread. I suggested that it be swapped for the spare tyre and taken to the local tyre fitting branch to be repaired.

I was surprised to realise that he wasn’t sure how to change the tyre. I contrast this with my own youth when ‘messing about with cars’ was something most lads did as part of life, often undertaking simple repairs and changes to components as part of the make do and mend culture. I helped him change the tyre and then went with him to get it repaired.

Of course nowadays, with cars being so complex in terms of electronics, you just can’t fix a car with screwdriver and spanner as in years gone by, and we’ve come to rely on specialists for all sorts of things. The downside is we lose more and more practical skills, and become dependent on others, usually service companies of one sort or another, to fix the problem.

I can’t help thinking that youth is missing something today.

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In 2009 the European Commission are intent on framing a directive to phase out the sale by 2012, of the traditional incandescent tungsten filament light bulbs. The sort of bulbs that have been around since Thomas Alva Eddison invented them 130 years ago.

In typical fashion, and wanting to display their eco credentials, the UK government are intent on gold-plating this directive, and bringing forward the dates when various wattages will be banned from the shops.

Most of the population have not yet caught up with this legislation, and I suspect this is a time-bomb waiting to explode. As usual there are unintended consequences to this legislation.

Low energy light bulbs contain mercury which will need to be handled carefully, and no doubt at significant cost, when they fail and go to land fill. Not only that but how long will it be before a child accidentally comes into contact with a broken bulb in the home.

Low energy bulbs are dimmer, by definition and are dangerous in places such as staircases and landings where good light is needed to avoid tripping.

But in the UK, where for large parts of the year central heating systems are in use, the science put forward for justifying low energy bulbs is completely flawed. The case in favour of low energy bulbs is founded entirely on the claim that they will reduce energy usage. Since the vast majority homes in the UK are heated by some form of central heating, when central heating systems are operative there will be no saving from the use of low energy bulbs. The reason is quite simple. Standard tungsten filament bulbs emit a small amount of heat energy. As a consequence central heating systems use correspondingly less energy since thermostats cut in when a fixed temperature is reached. That temperature is dependent on the sum total of all heat inputs, including that from tungsten filament bulbs. When low energy bulbs are used, central heating boilers will have to work that little bit harder and use more energy to replace the lost heat from standard bulbs, in achieving the same domestic temperature. It is a ‘zero sum’ calculation and hence in this situation there is no saving whatsoever from the use of low energy bulbs.

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