25th October 2009

As we struggle to change all the digital clocks back one hour this morning, I can't help but think that more than anything else that's happened in my lifetime, it's the constant advance of technology that's the most worrying. Yes, I know, technology is supposed to be a good thing. But in my view it needs to be targeted better, or we'll all be the worse for it.
Take mobile phones. New results from a £20million, decade-long WHO investigation, has revealed that heavy mobile phone users face a higher risk of developing brain tumours later in life. Children, in particular, need to learn to use such devices for important, not spurious, reasons. France, quite rightly, is one of the first governments to publish the risk and take urgent action. The problem is that so often the benefits of technology are being taken over for stupid, commercial reasons, like Wiifi and other games. We're constantly urged to buy a new Nintendo 'brain' game, when surely a Sudoko book or simple paper crossword puzzle would work just as well?
I would urge all techno engineers to target their expensive efforts away from the superfluous to the real needs of society. It makes me smile to see such wonderful new plasma, super-thin TVs - but still with the old fiddly plugs attached. Come on techno whizz-kids, give us simple click-on plugs with click-in fuses, i.e. really useful aids in this techno age.

18th October 2009

I see that Big Brother and Jeremy Clarkson are at it again. A new black box in cars and lorries has been designed to give a verdict on our driving performance, red, amber and green lights installed in the cab. I wonder what happens if, heaven-forbid, you get the dreaded red? Stand in the corner of the motorway with a dunce's cap on? And, Clarkson is no better in his different way. Every article he writes shows him slavering over some super-shiny new boys-toy that zooms at racetrack speeds in 0.1 secs.
And the French? Their latest wheeze is to make cars from flax! I kid you not. PSA, the French motoring group that makes Peugeots and Citroens, has a 'wonderful' plan to increase by six-times the natural and renewable materials used in all its vehicles by 2015 to reduce energy use and CO2 emissions.
But, hang on a minute here. Has anybody bothered to ask people like me what I would like in a vehicle? Here is my top-ten list, and it has nothing to do with CO2 emissions, Ferrari-like engines, or even appearance:
1. It MUST start every time I turn the ignition.
2. It should be made to last much much longer than current models.
3. It should cost much much less than currently.
4. It should have a super-safe exterior, capable of keeping me safe in the event of a crash.
5. Stronger tyres so that in the event of a flat, I can still drive to the nearest garage.
6. In-built phone as standard, with link to nearest garage.
7. Impossible to steal.
8. Oh, and if possible, can the rear have some built-in doggie-friendly components, e.g. unspillable water/food bowl, plastic bone, unchewable/replaceable mat, doggie seat-belt etc.?
9. Small enough to park easily.
10. Easy enough for a woman to maintain without being a techno/mechanical genius.
Is there a car manufacturer out there who is willing to listen to what I want, not Clarkson??

11th October 2009

Global warming and its effects are still much in the news. Despite the fact that many, including me, cast serious doubt over whether it's caused by man's actions at all, we are still going to have to deal with each government's alarming hysteria over it all.
I read that UK households can expect £2,000-a-year energy bills over the next decade if the country is to hit 'greenhouse gas targets' and build enough new power stations — and thousands of wind turbines — to secure the nation's energy supplies.
And even normally slow France has caught the fever too. A new taxe carbone will put up vehicle fuel and domestic energy costs from January. It will cost the average family 74 euros extra per year. However, before the excitable French race to block the barricades, Sarkozy has promised tax rebates. Each adult will get 46 euros if they live in an urban area, whilst those in rural areas like me will get 61 euros back. For those who pay French income tax, the rebate will come off next year's first provisional payment in February. For those who don't pay income tax because of poverty or criminal intent (!), a cheque will be sent.
PM Francois Fillon calls all this "a real ecological and fiscal revolution". I call it a load of rubbish, trying to 'fix' something as elusive as global warming, which could well be a result of normal astrological development, well out of man's ability to fix. But, comme d'habitude, it's the ordinary man in the street who always has to pay.

4th October 2009

I see that, surprisingly, Ireland has voted resoundingly in favour of the EU's Lisbon Treaty in a re-run referendum, overturning a previous No vote. I say surprisingly because I thought that they would follow the standard English mindset: 'over my dead body...'. And yet, there are many people applauding the Irish today - including me. Somehow you get a clearer picture when you move away from entrenched opinions. The ancient nomads only saw the whole of Mt. Sinai when they moved further away.
Talking about the Middle East, did you read the astounding news that Mr. 'I'm in a dinner jacket' , controversial leader of Iran, was born Jewish to Jewish parents? Apparently his family decided to convert to Islam when he was a boy, changing their name and religion in the process. As I understand it, those who convert to Islam must decry their former religion. So, the Iranian leader, rather like Hitler before him, has Jewish connections. There are other similarities too: both had a previously misunderstood, pathological hatred of everything Jewish. But now, all is clear. Guilt, Guilt, Guilt! If I had my way, leaders of all nations should have a psychological clean bill of health approved before they are allowed to be elected. But then, when did non-democracies ever listen to reason?
So, let's hope that Ireland's truly forward-thinking vote will progress to a fully-democratic world where isolated, psychologically-disturbed, leaders are consigned to the wilderness where they belong. Even if the new EC president is likely to be our own Tony Blair..........