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Showing posts from January, 2012

On the right to bear arms

We currently have an American guest in our house, which is always fun.  Amongst other things, I very much enjoyed the excuse to be a tourist in London at the weekend, and it is quite fun to mock her.One of the things which seems to have surprised her is the fact that most of our policemen are unarmed.  At one level, this makes me proud to be British, and I am proud of the fact that arming our policemen is not deemed necessary.Somehow the system works – we never hear of situations where hindsight would suggest that having more armed police would have been a good thing.  This is presumably partly because gun-crime rarely happens in front of the police and so whether they are armed or not is irrelevant.  But there must also be an element of being able to control a situation so that it doesn’t get out of hand.  Certainly we tend to have a strong objection to taking a “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude, even when it is arguably unavoidable, such as when Jean Charles de Menezes was…

High Speed 2

I have been asked quite a bit recently about what I think of the plans for a new high-speed railway line between London and Birmingham, and so I thought that I would blog about it.  I appreciate that this may not be of interest to everyone, but then when is that ever the case with my contributions to the Blogosphere?As a Transport Researcher, I should probably know more about some of the hard facts than I do, so I apologise in advance if you think that you’ve got a more educated opinion than me.  However, on the basis of what I do currently know, I am not hugely in favour of the scheme.  My reasoning can be broken down as follows:CapacityThe biggest argument for building High Speed 2 is capacity.  It is argued that the current transport links (chiefly the West Coast Mainline and the M6) are overcrowded and are not going to cope with predicted future travel demand.  This is probably very true, but is all of the predicted future demand necessary?  In an age when we need to be thinking a…

Easy on my soul

According to the BBC, “Work-averse students, corner-cutting journalists and people who simply enjoy wasting time online are in for a testing day.”I’m sure that there have been times in the past when someone could have argued that I fitted all three categories, but let’s gloss over that.  I’ve not blogged in a while and you’re bored because Wikipedia is on strike, so let’s just try and make the best of a bad situation.I should probably comment on said strike, just because it would be rude not to.  If I’ve had the pleasure of your company in this corner of the Blogosphere before, you may well think that I have an aversion to going on strike, as if saying the word to me is like waving a red rag to a bull – and it is fair to say that I’ve not had much time for some of the recent strikes.*Perhaps surprisingly, however, I’m in favour of the stance Wikipedia is taking, despite the irony that I had intended to spend some time on it this morning brushing up on some basic concepts from a report…