Posts from March 2011

For Those Who Say “Crashes Are The Best Bit of Motorsport”…

Thursday 31st March 2011

Here’s something you should watch (although you probably won’t).

To coincide with the start of the F1 season, the BBC showed a couple of documentaries about the sport. I’ve only seen one of them so far, and I thought it worth sharing. It’s called Grand Prix: the Killer Years, which sort of gives you a clue about its subject. Crappy title, but it’s really a great documentary (if somewhat gruesome at times; really not sure I wanted to see footage of Lorenzo Bandini’s accident at Monaco, for instance). It’s about the era of the 60s and early 70s, when the cars had developed to the point of being too quick for the tracks; when fatalities became a regular occurrence, and about how the drivers started to get things changed.

Even if you’re not a motorsport fan, it’s an incredibly good documentary and you will find it interesting. Just don’t watch it if you’re at all feeling down, because – and this may come as a shock – it’s not exactly uplifting.

Posted In: Motorsport Tagged: | No Comments

I Probably Should’ve Done Some Work, But I Did This Instead

Monday 28th March 2011

Engineers aren’t exactly famous for our aesthetic design skills. The joke goes that if engineers were fully responsible for designing the way things look (instead of having architects and the like), all buildings would end up being concrete boxes because that’s functional enough. Nevertheless, for reasons that escape me, I’ve always liked doing my own design for my site, despite there being plenty of very nice themes out there that have been made by people who basically know how to make things that look pretty.

I’ve been thinking of freshening the design of the site up for a while, and as you can probably tell (unless you’re reading this in an RSS reader) I’ve now done it. It took a surprisingly little amount of time (as these things go…), as I’ve basically just adapted most of the structure from the old design, but gotten rid of the bits I didn’t like.

Might tweak it again soon. Dunno why I chose green, so I might change that at some point when I get bored of it. And I think it’s a bit sloppy to have a sans-serif font in the header and serif fonts everywhere else, but I can’t be bothered to change it now. Overall, it’ll do for the moment; it all looks cleaner and tidier, and that’s what I was going for.

Posted In: Site Tagged: | 5 Comments

It’s Almost As If One of Them Had a Rich and Powerful Lobby Pressing for its Introduction…

Friday 18th March 2011

A couple of years ago, an independent review of the regulation of the water industry – the Cave Review – was published. This review was done for DEFRA, and looked at ways of altering the current regulatory mechanisms in order to improve the way the industry works. To promote innovation and efficiency, and to change the cost of abstraction and discharge licensing to reflect real environmental costs. As an example of thinking through sustainability, it’s exemplary.

Last year, the Labour government passed the Flood and Water Management Act. Reading some of the responses to the review, you repeatedly see it noted that: “These reforms will need legislative change. For this, the Flood and Water Management Bill, currently in draft, represents a very important opportunity” (from the Ofwat response). Great. So did they do it?

Well, the FWMA was passed last year. In the wash-up period. So no, of course, none of the Cave Review got put into legislation (instead FWMA covers stuff from the Pitt Review, which looked at the 2007 flooding. Not read it, but I probably will at some point). Despite there being the opportunity to do so, and despite the government paying for the bloody thing to be done in the first place… nothing.


For contrast, the Cave Review was published in April 2009. The Digital Britain report – which forms the basis of the Digital Economy Act, also passed in the washup last year – published June 2009. Pardon me if I think water resources are more important than screwy copyright legislation and the role of Channel 4.

Sigh sigh sigh.

I suppose we can only hope that this bunch do something positive. From the quick look over some of the stuff there, doesn’t look like it.

Sigh ad infinitum…

Posted In: EngineeringPolitics Tagged: | 1 Comment

UK Uncut Revisited

Friday 18th March 2011

In a previous post, I mentioned UK Uncut, the activist group that campaigns against tax avoidance. It was mostly a rant, because of a particular protest that seemed idiotic to me.

Today, a report has been published which looks at the 4 main victims of UK Uncut, and what the actual situation is. In each case, UK Uncut’s argument is incorrect, and often contradictory. The report also briefly looks at the economics of taxation, and suggests some ways to reform the tax system.

I think it’s well worth reading, to understand a little bit of the nuance that’s been so crassly ignored by the protests.

Posted In: Politics Tagged: | 17 Comments

Is it just me or does this not make sense?

Saturday 12th March 2011

On the Lib Dem conference this weekend:

“The motion calls for the “complete ruling out of any competition based on price to prevent loss-leading corporate providers under-cutting NHS tariffs”.”

If we can buy healthcare (of the same quality) from someone other than the NHS, for less than the NHS can provide it, why on earth wouldn’t we? Why is this so inherently wrong?

Seems odd to oppose the reforms on those grounds, really.

Posted In: Politics Tagged: | 7 Comments