Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Diesel Do Nicely

No dey won't.

(Works best in a Scouse accent)

I don't often do serious articles.  One of my earliest was my second ever post in November 2009 in which I sort of looked at how lean-burn engines were a better, cleaner bet than catalytic converters.

Also around that time, the Government was trying to encourage people to buy diesel cars since better fuel economy meant less Carbon Monoxide & Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere.
Yes - diesel.

Things have changed a bit since then.

People are suddenly more interested in NOx (Nitrogen Monoxide & Nitrogen Dioxide) - these are dangerous gases now linked to respiratory illnesses, stroke and even diabetes.  Scary.

Last night, Channel 4's documentary strand, Dispatches, reported on the situation - fronted by their reporter, Morland Sanders:
Here's a link to the official blurb.

Basically, lots of people were convinced to buy diesel cars on the grounds of fuel efficiency and ecological advantage and they are now being told that it was a bad move and NOx levels are a serious problem, especially in certain urban areas such as East London.

A few people don't come out of this very well at all.  This is Mike Hawes, boss of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders who didn't think that it was cheating for manufacturers to tape up shutlines of their cars when performing official fuel-efficiency tests.
Then there's this guy - Barry Gardiner MP.  I was going to use the first picture, then I spotted the second, then the third - choose which one you like the most:
He is Shadow Minister for The Environment and he was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Trade & Industry when the then-Labour Government decided to encourage diesel take-up.  He admits, "Hands up, can I say there’s absolutely no question that the decision we took was the wrong decision" - but he says that with a big grin on his face and then adds in lots of what he believes to be mitigating factors.

If I thought he was genuinely sorry, I've had accepted that.

He went on to try and make it more party-political with his statement, "Certainly the impact of that decision has been a massive problem for public health in this country. The real tragedy is after we set up the committee on the medical effects of air pollution and it reported back in 2010 we’ve had five years that this government has done nothing about it."

The Tories response is just as bad, “We’ve acted on the Committee’s findings through providing effective health advice to the public. Air quality has improved significantly in recent decades and we are investing heavily"

Recent decades!?  so they are trying to take credit for what happened before they were in power?

And what health advice are they talking about?  I've not noticed any and I'm a member of the public.

I did feel a bit educated by the programme last night though when they did an experiment on NOx exposure to a pedestrian, a cyclist, a bus passenger and a motorist.

You would expect the cyclist to inhale the most, followed by the walker then the bus passenger and finally the motorist cocooned in his car.

It was actually the reverse that was true.  Must remember to put by heating system onto re-circ.

No mention was made of this man:
 Rudolf Diesel.

Now to lighten the mood, here is an American cop joining in with Taylor Swift:

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Rubbish Parking

Traffic Wardens are very unpopular.

This is because they seem more interested in revenue income than in keeping the roads clear and safe.  It's probably not their fault - the Councils are desperate for money and see the motorist as an easy source of income.

Where I used to work, people (not me I hasten to add) would often park on the pavement.  The local traffic wardens would come along making a lot of fuss and noise and give people a chance to shift their cars.  Only after 10 to 15 minutes would they start ticketing.  This achieved a removal of illegally parked cars and no ill-feeling.  I suspect nowadays they would be expected to hide around the corner and jump out as soon as a car was left and the owner was out of sight - I sincerely hope that this isn't the case.

Anyway, traffic wardens are unpopular and stories showing them in a good light are few and far between.  Here is one I posted three years ago.

And here is a Mac cartoon from The Daily Mail from about six years ago:
That cartoon combined the Daily Mail's hatred of wheelie bins with the general dislike of traffic wardens.

The Daily Mail hate lots of sensible things so I wouldn't be too bothered about that - but no traffic warden would really ticket a wheelie-bin would they?


But one with a sense of humour might stick a parking-ticket cover on one that was causing an obstruction:
I found the story on the BBC Website claiming in the headline that it had been ticketed but then admitting in the article that it hadn't.

Lots of other sites also got hold of the story including, of course, the odious Daily Mail.  To be fair to them, they did put "parking ticket" in quotes signifying that it wasn't a real ticket.  It then added the taglines
  • Parking warden appeared to give wheelie bin parking ticket in Carmarthen
  • The Biffa waste bin was left blocking the road on double yellow lines
  • Locals slam warden for 'wasting' council resources and time
  • He is now being investigated by the local authority for his conduct
The first is true.  The second isn't - it was too small to block the road.  The third is also not true - it was just one sad salesman who spoke to The Mail - remember that councils and their employees are two groups that the Mail hate.  Finally, unfortunately, the fourth is true:

Carmarthenshire Council Traffic and safety manager John McEvoy said: 'The officer was patrolling the area when a member of the public pointed out that the wheelie bin was an obstruction, and asked if he was going to book it. The officer, in a light-hearted moment, wrapped a Penalty Charge Notice envelope around the bin handle.There was no ticket issued, it is not possible to book a wheelie bin or anything that is not motorised.Although this was meant as a humorous incident, we take this kind of thing very seriously and have launched a formal investigation into the conduct of this officer.'

It is very rare that I agree with Daily Mail readers but, if you look at the comments at the bottom of the story, the concensus is that the warden had a sense of humour and John McEvoy needs to get a life and not waste council resources following it up.

I also liked the comments from the bin company:

A spokesman for waste collection company Biffa said 'It's a relief to learn that the bin in question isn't in trouble with the council. The ticket issued was simply a throw-away gesture and proved to be a load of rubbish. We are wheelie careful and do our best to make sure that our bins are in the correct locations at all times.'

Now, if you still want a story of traffic wardens having a hard time, this is one from 2012.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Now There's Two of Them

I've always hated the BMW X6:
I've made it no secret that I categorise it alongside the Fiat Multipla, the Google Self-Driving car and the Hyundai Atoz as a completely stupid looking car.

Unfortunately, it looks like 250000 sales means that there a lot of people who like it.

Including Mercedes:
Meet the GLE Coupe.

Or BMW X6 as I'd call it.

This interesting little article from caradvice.com.au, Mercedes-Benz’s global chief of design Gorden Wagener spills the beans - or the Benz.

Looking at the comments at the bottom of the article, the car fans of Australia tend to agree with me.

Wagener admits that BMW invented the SUV coupe segment but reckons it overcomplicates its designs with complex surfacing.  It may have been true in the Chris Bangle days but not so much now.

He goes on to say, "...in the end I think we managed to do a very unique car, a very clean car that is essential for our purity philosophy, it’s quite sexy and sculptured."

Very unique!  Very unique!   OK, I'll let that pass since English isn't his first language - but it isn't even slightly unique and it certainly isn't sexy.

Sexy like James Bond is sexy?
But then again, the Mercs are always driven by the baddies.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

That's Mazda Price!

No it isn't.  This Post has nothing to do with Mazda (or Asda) for that matter - but it does have a bit to do with Asda rivals Tesco.

And several news stories from the past two days.

I've just filled up my car with petrol.  At Tescos.  I was particularly amazed (you'll be amazed at a Mazda) because the receipt printer at the self-serve pump was actually working.  This is the first time in approximately 12 months that the receipt printers have been working - what is the point of having self-serve pumps if you have to go into the kiosk to get a receipt?

I was also amazed at the price - for the first time on yonks, I paid under £1 a litre:

This is down to two factors:

Factor 1 is the 12p a litre off thanks to Tesco Clubcard Fuelsave (more about that shortly)  Things are obviously looking up for Tesco - thanks to people like me, their Christmas takings were better than expected and they've got their pump receipt printers sorted.

Factor 2 is that the cost of Brent Crude has dipped below $50 a barrel.  The BBC have that covered here.  Basically, America and the Middle East are all over-producing their oil so the price is tumbling.  Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia & Iraq but not so much Jordan.

Jordan - not to be confused with the bimbo who calls herself Jordan or the BTCC Driver (and former champion) Andrew Jordan.  Now he is in the news because he has just joined the MG Triple-Eight Team.  He will be taking the place vacated by Jason Plato who is "considering other options" - that story is covered by Autosport.  I hope Jason stays with the BTCC - he clearly wants to and he hints at involvement of another manufacturer team - I wonder if he'll take his main sponsor with him  - now who was that? - oh yes, Tesco Clubcard Fuelsave - the scheme  whereby you get money off fuel if you spend lots in the store.

I believe I covered that before it even started.  And I added at the end of that article a couple of puns that were very funny - including "That's Mazda Price!"

Because it sounds like "That's Asda Price"

OK, I'll get my coat.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Driving Offence

Or driving through a fence.


Bad enough this suspected drink-driver has crashed.

But what he crashed into was a Police Station.

Cheshire Police tweeted this morning, "Man arrested for drink-drive after losing control on a car park and crashing into Frodsham police station. #epicfail." Then "Male in Frodsham kindly handed himself in for drink driving #drivenintostationwall"

A few news sites including the BBC enjoyed telling the story.

They all call it a car though - it is actually a Fiesta van with an unusual paint job.  So I guess a few people in the Frodsham area will know exactly who the 49-year-old man is who has been arrested.

Hope he's more careful when he returns to show his documents.