Dragons on the road map

Guy Herbert:

It’s the sort of #roadmap that has “Here be dragons” written all over it, isn’t it?

Yes. My part of Twitter is all: The politicians are tyrannising over us. I wonder. What if they are just scared? Of course, the second does not rule out the first.

Engine issue

Via Instapundit, this:

Police in Broomfield stated on Twitter that they received reports of dropped debris in several neighborhoods …

One of the engines on a passing United Airlines plane exploded. The plane flew back to Denver and landed safely. Nobody was hurt either by falling debris or in the plane.

CNN reported that there was an engine issue. I’ll say. A Boeing 777 apparently.

Lots more social media photos, including passenger videos of what remained of the engine, at the other end of the “this” link above. No way anyone could pretend this didn’t happen.

Quite a story. The Guardian agrees.

Steve Davies: Four new technologies to be optimistic about

I seem to recall a lecture, given by Steve Davies at the IEA just before Covid and the political reaction to Covid started spoiling all our lives, in which he warned that modernity might be stopped in its tracks or worse by some unforeseeable disaster, and that we should watch out. And I’m pretty sure that, during the Q&A, he even mentioned the possibility of a pandemic.

Now however, Steve Davies says, not unreasonably or inconsistently, that the future is brighter than many now, as the Covid crisis persists, assume or at least fear:

People everywhere need to recover their sense of confidence and optimism and to realise not only that this is, undoubtedly, the best time ever to be alive, but also that the future will be even better.

Davies then writes about four technologies which he says will transform life for the better: autonomous vehicles, synthetic food, artificial intelligence, and anti-aging medical treatments. So, life will not only be better; it will also last for far longer.

Regular readers of this blog will know that recently I have particularly noticed technology number two in the Davies list, synthetic food. And number one, autonomous vehicles, has long been to be an interest of mine also. I agree that both will be “epoch making”, eventually.

But I probably won’t live to see either epoch unfold. As far as I’m concerned, that last one, extended life-span, through the conquest of such things as cancer, can’t come too quickly. Which is why it almost certainly won’t come, for me, quickly enough.

However, I recently I heard some wisdom based on recent personal experience spill out of my mouth, to the effect that, now, being told that I have a potentially quite-soon-fatal disease, at my already quite advanced age, is a big deal, but not that big a deal. This just means that I will die a bit sooner. But what if such a medical mishap meant that I died a lot sooner, like about a two hundred years or more sooner? That would be a very big deal. In an age of multi-century lifespans, if that is what is about to arrive, people will surely become far more risk averse even than they are now, because they will have so much more to lose by dying.

But then again, adolescent boys have long had a lot to lose and they are notoriously prone to risk-taking, just for the hell of it. So, what do I know?

In general, will people actually be any happier? I doubt this, because happiness seems to depend more on one’s internal mood than on one’s mere circumstances. I don’t feel any more miserable now than I was a couple of years ago, when I was unaware of my medical condition and before it started or at any rate before it started hurting.

J. P. Floru is doing a book about Covid

Called “Covid Hysteria”, so I think I know how he’ll be coming at the subject. I learned this from Facebook, in a posting sent out to all his Facebook friends. But you surely don’t tell all your Facebook friends something you are trying to keep deadly secret, so I assume he won’t mind me gossiping about this. If he does mind, well, he should have been more discreet.

I greatly admired this earlier book of his.

Would you like to live on top of a petrol station?

Today I staggered out to do some shopping. Well, to be more exact I walked out, but then staggered back. Whatever. Anyway, during the walking bit, I photoed just one photo. This:

The light is dim and the focussing uncertain. (I think I should start photoing more photos with my mobile phone.) But you will get my point, once I get around to making it.

My point being: That’s a petrol station in Vauxhall Bridge Road, just before I get to my shops. And above it and right next to it, people live.

Would you want to live above a petrol station? I don’t think I would.

I grumble here from time to time about health and safety, but only in a world where health and safety trumps everything else would a building such this one seem routine. Irony alert: “Health and safety” means that there are now huge risks that we are willing to undergo now, which we were not before.

Imagine living in such a place during the Blitz. Not that I suppose for one moment that anyone ever did.

Health and safety: Before-and-after photos of the South Bank carousel

South Bank, London, 2012:

Closer up:

Same thing, 2017:

Closer up:

I have a vague recollection of this contraption having suffered some kind of accident or mishap which might have explained this transformation. But the only accident I managed to learn about today was one that happened in 2016, by which time the semi-transparent encasement had already been added.

What happened was that the carousel just stopped. So, the people who were stuck up there were that little bit safer while they waited to be rescued. On the other hand, I imagine that the covering made the actual rescue more difficult and dangerous. If so, there’s a lesson there, isn’t there?

I don’t know exactly when this change happened, although I surely have more photos in the archives that would narrow it down a bit.

Meanwhile, I am pleased about these before-and-after photos. Getting photos like these can be hard, because you have to know beforehand what is going to change. Or, you just have to photo a lot of photos.

I photo a lot of photos.

The return of the black-all-over London black cab

I was out and about in the Victoria Station area this morning, and it was very cold and very bad photoing light. But, taxis with adverts usually photo well. I saw two taxi adverts I’d not see before.

This, for perfume:

And this, for I don’t know what, but I’d not seen it before:

It had the look of the sort of advert that only happens when when the real advertising is happening a lot less, and they have spare slots going.

Because, that was my overriding impression. Hardly any taxis with adverts, whether I’d seen them before or not. And lots of taxis without adverts:

The ratio was about three or four to one, no advert to advert.

Then, the clincher:

That’s right, a taxi with an advert for taxi adverts. A taxi advert in both senses, in other words. An advert for taxi adverts, on a taxi.

So, here is just another business going through very bad times. Has anyone, I wonder, committed suicide because he’s in the taxi advert business, and is heading for unavoidable financial disaster? It’s not a silly question.

There are just fewer people, and in particular far fewer high spenders and deciders-of-these-things, wandering about in London being influenced by such adverts.

I hear conflicting rumours and stories about just how bad, medically speaking, the Coronavirus story really is. In particular, I am hearing that it’s not just deaths that are freaking out the decision-makers, but the serious and often long-term damage done to people who don’t die. But I am still strongly of the belief that the cure is one hell of a lot more damaging than the disease.

Only a small risk of getting rabies

Michael Jennings:

Oh, those glorious days of the past when I could be bitten by dogs in beautiful places with glorious mountains, churches, food and wine, with only a small risk of getting rabies. I miss those days so much.

Sigh.

Farage is up to something!

Sounds to me like Nigel Farage is about to step back into British politics, big time, as the man who will lead Britain out of Lockdown:

Because of his role in contriving Brexit, Farage is already the most consequential British politician alive. If he did this, that would become doubly true.

What people forget, many because they simply choose to, is that Farage is very good at arguing, as the above clip illustrates. Also, he knows how not to be silenced. At present, very depressingly, about a quarter of Britain, maybe even less, thinks Lockdown should end. Farage could double that percentage very quickly, and make Lockdown unsustainable.

If I’m right, this is the best British news there’s been since Lockdown began.

LATER: JH-B‘s all over this, as is Ivor Cummins. Cummins, like me, has become increasingly desperate and bad-tempered in recent weeks. This will surely cheer him up also.

Yes, this is definitely happening.

Promising looking e-scooter from TAUR

This looks rather promising. It’s a new design for an e-scooter which, by the look of it, is still portable, but which answers some of the doubts that are now being expressed about e-scooter safety.

Carson Brown, the designer and public face of TAUR argues that a basic cause of e-scooter danger is the ungainly body posture demanded by the current and less bulky versions of the e-scooter:

One thing that sets TAUR apart is the foot platforms, which provide a dedicated place for the rider to stand. Instead of placing your feet behind one another with your hips twisted awkwardly, you stand fully facing forward with your feet side by side. The platforms are 2.5 times wider than the deck of a typical scooter and help the rider with stability. The benefit of facing head-on with your body aligned is that you are able to twist 180 degrees in either direction — giving the rider maximum ride awareness.

There are other tweaks added to achieve much greater safety, like much bigger and tougher wheels, and lights to signal your presence. In general, the TAUR, Carson says, is an e-scooter designed to travel on roads, rather than merely on super-flat surfaces like shopping centre pedestrian areas.

Having been watching the e-scooter story unfold, I note that a big problem now is that to achieve maximum portability, safety seems to have been sacrificed. That’s a deal breaker for many and probably most people. I’d sum up the TAUR by saying that the “traditional” e-scooter, the one we now see trundling about in London from time to time, is the smallest and cheapest and most portable e-scooter you can have that still goes reasonably well. The TAUR, on the other hand, is the safest e-scooter you can still carry by hand when you’re not travelling on it. It’s not as light as it can be, so you can lift it easily. It’s as heavy and bulky as it can be, while still remaining liftable.

This reminds me somewhat of the definition of, I think it was, the General Motors Cadillac. A car like the Ford Model-T was the cheapest car you could have, and that of course was mass produced, to make it as cheap as possible. And of course GM had their version of that also, at the bottom end of their range. But, the top-of-the-range Cadillac was the most luxurious car GM could still sell in sufficient numbers for it to be mass-produceable. This notion of satisfying a basic requirement while maximising another very desirable variable is a powerful way to think about the design of manufactured things, I think. The trick being to choose exactly the right variables, to be satisfied, and to be maximised.