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Showing posts from February, 2012

Why Labour & the Unions are bending the truth about London’s new buses

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I am well excited about the fact that some of the New Routemaster buses are now in service in London.What is surprising, however, is the amount of negativity surrounding it.  Christian Wolmar, who styles himself as ‘Britain’s Leading Transport Correspondent’ tweeted yesterday asking if the new buses were anything other than a very expensive joke.My response to Mr Wolmar is that they are anything but a joke.  Admittedly, I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing one but there are some good reasons to have replaced the bendy-buses with them.As some of the passengers interviewed in this BBC Report noted, the bendy-buses were often known as “the free bus” because there were so many doors that it was easy to avoid paying and not get caught.  The cynic in me says that if Boris Johnson had made a thing about keeping these buses, Ken Livingstone would have run a campaign decrying the “Tory Free Bus Scandal.”  Prove me wrong, folks.Secondly, the len…

The truth is, I’m not a lesbian

I have to say that I quite enjoyed the sound bite from Radio 4’s Today Programme when Richard Dawkins and Giles Fraser were discussing religion.  I loved the delicious irony of Dawkins invoking the name of God, and the fact that Dawkins was caught out and blustered his way through quite an awkward moment.However, at the end of the day, I do actually think that Dawkins had a fair point.  The “right to self-identification” – as championed by Giles Fraser – is in principle an important thing.  What Fraser seems not to have grasped, however, is that there needs to be some meaning behind it.  I’m sure that he would be very keen for me to have the right to identify myself as a lesbian, but whatever box I tick or whatever I say about myself, it clearly isn’t true.In the same way, there are some definite truths about Christianity.  Yes, Christians don’t all agree on everything, but through the fuzziness there is a solid core.  I fear that Giles Fraser is proud of his “inclusive” and relativis…

The ugly duck(ling) billed platypus

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As a transport researcher, I have to accept that my job is not going to add to my sex appeal.  The fact that I spent some of Valentine’s Day reading about concrete probably says something, as does the fact that one of the more interesting things I was given was a National Rail Timetable (on loan for my work, I hasten to add, not as a romantic gesture).Yet, despite this, it is not unusual for some forms of transport to be described as “sexy.”  By normal people, too, not just geeks.  I’d almost be prepared to bet that at least one of you (all 11 of you who read this) has described a car as “sexy.”Believe it or not, High Speed Trains can apparently be sexy as well - I guess it’s all relative.  There is an article here entitled High Speed Trains as Sexy as Fast Cars, although as it comes from TreeHugger.com I’m not sure that I can suggest that it’s normal.  I’m also assuming that the writer had not been exposed to this:My eyes!

Lamenting the good old C of E

For those of you who know me, or who have been long-term visitors to this Corner of the Blogosphere, you will probably know that I am a Christian.  You may also know that although I don’t care much for denominational division that I usually attend an Anglican church.There is lots which is good about the Anglican church.  Personally, I like the breadth of styles it encompasses, the structure of some of the liturgy it offers and the fact that a lot of Anglican churches are at the heart of communities.  People relate easily to them, even if it’s just for weddings and funerals and the odd Christmas sing-song and the opportunities to share the Christian message and make a positive difference to those communities are theoretically huge.What a shame, therefore, that these opportunities are so often lost.  Admittedly, I don’t necessarily think much of the BBC’s standard of reporting, especially on this sort of issue, but I thought it sad that the headline for the Archbishop’s Christmas sermon…

On losing beauty sleep

On Saturday afternoon, I travelled on a South West Trains service to London.  I put my headphones in, turned on my MP3 player (The Verve, if you are interested) and fell asleep.  I`d not been asleep long when I was tapped on the shoulder by the guard, who wanted to see my ticket.  Of course, I obliged, but as he disappeared down the train I was not happy that my sleep had been disturbed.At one level, this was not unreasonable.  After all, it is my duty to have a ticket, and the guard`s job to check it.  But it was not a busy train and the guard passed back through the carriage several times during the remainder of the journey, so I question whether it was really necessary to ruin my nap at that point in time.  After all, I have often been on trains and watched the guard leave those passengers sleeping well alone.  I have also been on trains where it has been announced that "because the train is busy, if you wish to sleep please leave your ticket visible" which is not a bad i…

Transparent Benefits?

There is an interesting article on the BBC News this morning about a family on benefits and how they will be worse off under the proposed benefits cap.At first glance, it is very easy to feel sorry for the family.  He is unable to find a job (and it is fair to assume that he has been trying to do so) and she is unable to work.But then I read some of the comments and looked at the breakdown of spending in detail.  £15 a week on Sky TV? A substantial amount of beer and cigarettes?  Now, maybe I shouldn’t be so judgemental about what people spend their money on, but the comment about “eight people having to choose between eating and heating” doesn’t exactly hold water.I’d also speculate that some of the teenagers have a part-time job.  Additionally, although we’re told that some of the children are from previous marriages, we’re not told anything about how much time they spend living with the other side of the family, nor what “maintenance” they might receive from them.  I don’t feel tha…

Big News

I have just read the leading paragraph of a BBC article on the new Bond film.  Apparently, the first official image from the film has been released and “actor Daniel Craig is shown wielding a gun and sporting stubble.”How is this any more news-worthy than the fact I brushed my teeth this morning?  Honestly, I’d almost be prepared to bet that more people have commented on my own facial hair in the last month (I had a beard, which I have now shaved off) than care about the fact that Daniel Craig has been photographed with stubble.In the same way that “the name’s Bond” is usually followed by “James Bond,” much about a Bond film is fairly predictable.  There will be a villain, a fast car, a girl who is hopefully quite attractive and Mr Bond won’t die.  Sorry if I’ve just spoiled the new film for you, but the point is that it is probably quite difficult to come up with some truly surprising news about the new film.  However, someone somewhere could surely have said something other than “he…

Suits you, sir!

I am intrigued by the debacle over Fred Goodwin and his knighthood, or lack thereof.  There is an interesting article in The Telegraph which suggests that it is nothing but a political game and a “capitulation to mob rule.”I am equally intrigued by the farce over Stephen Hester and his bonus.  At one level, I don’t disagree that the bonus seemed a bit outrageous in this time of recession, but we need to get some perspective.  Firstly, like it or not, it is true that if you want the best people you have to pay for them accordingly.  I’m sure I can hear voices of disagreement, but if you’re not going to object to the fact that football managers get paid several times what Mr Hester was paid and most clubs will pay handsomely for their players then you’re not being consistent.  Similarly, I have no time for those Union bosses who whine, without even suggesting that they should cut back on their own six figure salaries.Secondly, whereas we may be right to acknowledge the fact that there h…