Y’see, It’s All Been Planned!

Remember all the promises? Remember all the bullshit? All those politicians, eager to get their pix in the papers and on the telly, sharing with ‘Our Athletes’? Ah yes, the ‘selfless athletes’ who only wish to bring their country glory! (I should really stop all this sarcasm!) One point which was hammered home time after time was how ‘Green’ these Games were going to be. How everything possible was being done to diminish the ‘construction footprint’? How ‘Green’ were all the buildings; how ‘green’ were all the plans to make the ‘Environment’ suffer as little as possible? I almost listed ‘How Green was my Valley’, but I mustn’t get carried away!

Anyway, one of the proposals to help ‘remove’ all the non-green activities of building this really expensive and wasteful set of boondoggles buildings was to build a big lock which would allow river-borne barge traffic to serve the entire site. Now in itself, it’s not a bad idea, but of course the marketing people got hold of the idea and extrapolated to state that up to 1.75 million tonnes bulk construction materials moved by barge would allow:-

  • up to 170,000 lorry journeys saved
  • up to 4,000 tonnes of CO 2 saved

So, at a cost of £23 million, plus all the other feasibility, planning and other studies which raise the cost to around £40million, the Olympic Park was presented with access for barge traffic which was capable of removing huge numbers of trucks from the construction sites.

Job done? Not quite. The lock has been used by approximately five bargeloads per month for the first two months, and then zero. Green, very Green.

Death is always with us

Long time back, when still a young man, with thoughts only of beer, work, and more beer, during my time in the Merchant Navy, I did two stints on two oil tankers. One of those trips involved a visit to the arsehole of the world, otherwise known as the Persian Gulf to load crude from a dump named Bandar Mashur, in what used to be called Persia, now of course the playground of all things stupid and Islamic, Iran.

In the afternoon and evening before our morning arrival in the harbour roadstead, we had sailed through a blinding sandstorm, with visibility down to about thirty yards from the bridge, so naturally we slowed down, and kept watch on our progress by radar. During the storm we viewed and navigated past maybe two dozen other tankers and large cargo vessels, and as we successfully arrived in the port area, the captain and deck officers were congratulating themselves on completion of a difficult passage.

The American pilot boarded for the short voyage to the jetty and oil terminal, and as he walked alongside the deck cadet who was escorting him to the bridge, casually asked, “Much of a sandstorm last night?”

The cadet replied, “Yes, it lasted for about ten hours, but we slowed down, kept a double watch all night by radar, and we came clear round about four this morning.”

The pilot smiled, and when greeting the Captain and First Mate, asked exactly the same question about the storm, and received the same answer as from the cadet. “You maybe wanna’ stroll up to the focsle’head and check your anchor, Captain,” was the cryptic statement from the professional pilot, but would say nothing further until the deck cadet returned from his two-hundred yard walk forward and back with the news that the topworks, mast and sail of a Dhow were wrapped around the bow and anchor of our ship; and we had run over this small wooden vessel during our sandstorm passage, with the loss of the entire crew of seven men.

Because the Dhow had carried no metal in her rigging, and because she did not have a radar-reflector fitted on her mast, we had not even noticed her presence. Because of the bulk, weight and power of our tanker, we hadn’t even felt a bump as we rolled this tiny vessel under, and killed all her crew.

The Dhow was identified, the crew families and owners were compensated by our Company Insurers without even the need for any court proceedings, and once loading had finished, we left for the long run to Europe. For the Dhow crew members and their families, it was a tragedy; for us, as Officers and crew of a British Tanker, because we knew none personally, it was a tragedy, but less personal than for the dhow crew; but still a tragedy, writ small.

That happening was a tragedy, this is not!

Tickets Please; I thank you!

Remember the story about how two muslim women were denied access to a bus because their faces were covered (niqab, veil, burka, carpet, whatever!)? Remember how the bus driver was excoriated for his actions,which were seen and condemned as racist and criminal? Remember how the MSM reacted, shouting, wailing and shredding their garments (well possibly)?

Wel, the bus company has now reviewed the CCTV records for that particular journey, and discovered that not only were the two women not barred because their faces were covered, as they had alleged, the CCTV review  showed the women banging on the front doors and attempting to board the bus when it had come to the end of its run. They then get on through the rear doors and begin arguing with the driver. They get off and wait for the bus to start its journey back to Paddington – but another exchange follows, and the driver refuses to set off unless they disembark.

That was why they were refused permission, and for no other reason.

So when will we see the apologies to the driver from the BBC and the Muslim council of Britain? Personally, I reckon we’ll be waiting a long.g.g.g.g.g time!

Always tie on tight!

The first building which catches your eyes on when reaching the headworks of one of the deepest gold mines in the world is the Safety Workshop. Besides the classrooms where all the safety regimes are listed and taught, where all the safety films and videos are shown, there is also a complete mock-up of an underground haulage, where many dangers are discussed, accidents and examples are shown and also the means to avoid such accidents happening. No-one can demonstrate how to escape the effects of an underground ‘bump’ or mini-earthquake, caused by the removal of a thin slice of rock stretching many, many hundreds of yards at a depth of maybe twenty thousand feet underground; but most other dangers are well-known and catalogued. These include the falls, the heat-exhaustion, the falling of random rocks weighing in at half-tonne each, the rapid transit from life to death if you place one foot in the wrong place, and so on, and so forth. The ‘Safety’ mantras are preached, and repeated, and reminded so often within the Workshop that one would actually believe that ‘safety rules’ underground as well.

Unfortunately, the one ‘mantra’ which was preached once the cages dropped below the surface of that particular mine was ‘Production, Ore production, Production’, and ‘Safety’ took the last seat on the tram. As a contractor, I ran an installation project underground, but also supervised a team of contract maintenance workers within the gold-ore operation. I have witnessed the ‘losing’ of un-expended sticks of ‘dynagel’ explosive by casually throwing them into the ore passes, I saw a passage where dozens of men were supposed to walk with one side next to an thirty-foot drop with absolutely no protection against accidental falls; I saw many other items which would drive the average H&S inspector up the wall. But was ever anything done? Nope, it was always ‘dig more ore’, get more gold, don’t hold up production!

The only time that ‘Safety’ took priority was when I signed my name to state that a haulage staircase, a wooden stairway which stretched upwards for literally hundreds of yards from one level to another, was dangerous and to be condemned. Once the Mine Manager saw the same conditions as one of my electricians had been complaining about for literally weeks, the entire walkway was replaced over a weekend!

My point is simple, when you read this, you can believe it, because if the great god ‘progress’ or the other idol named‘production’ is thought to be in peril, safety gets pushed out of the queue, and lands up in the back seat as usual!

Weep Not For The Memories

I visited Zimbabwe twice during my time in Africa, both times on business. It was a strange time, when Zimbabwe was still run almost on civil lines, by a Black Administration headed by a Robert Mugabe who seemed to be running against the tide of Black-run Africa with sensible policies towards the farming and business communities, with little showing of the ruthless militaristic policies which dominated his latter rule. None of the tactics which latterly terrorised the farmers, with the bloodshed and plain theft had yet appeared, none of the confiscatory regimes were yet in place. Zimbabwe was being talked about as though it had broken the mould of repressive dictatorships which had bloomed throughout Africa.

The only jarring note was when the S.A.A. jet took off from Harare as I left, and ALL the Zimbabwean passengers applauded as the aircraft achieved height. Somehow I don’t believe the applause was all for the pilot.

Some twenty-seven years later, things are rather different. Page back with Cathy, if you will, and read of the slow, sad, but seemingly inevitable death of a Nation who once lived in a place which was often described as the ‘Breadbasket of Africa’. A Nation which has had it’s diamond mine output sales partially agreed by the Kimberley Process, but the profits from such sales remain invisible to the average Zimbabwean.

X-posted from A Tangled Web

Extraordinarily Disappointing?

In our Democratic process, the leader of the Party with the most seats in Parliament is asked to form a Government by Her Majesty, and so to run this Country of ours under a set of rules. The fact that Cameron sits in Number 10 by virtue of a Coalition with Clegg and his sandal-wearing numpties, is really a matter for him and his Party. But the Coalition is working, and despite rumbles in the undergrowth from a few of those same ‘numpties’, the deal seems to be working. Some if not all of the really stupid things brought in by Labour are being ditched, and who could argue with that?

However, Cameron must still learn his job description does not hold or have the power to make a Web Company change its direction in the publishing and promotion of its stock-in-trade. He might detest the very idea of glamourising the suicide of a man who killed, but it is the right of Facebook to continue hosting that page, notwithstanding the fact that Facebook obviously does not like the spotlight placed on one of its products.

That, and that alone, is the real argument. Should a private Company allow itself to be bullied into removing the page for Raoul Moat, or should it politely state that the opinions of its contributors are theirs alone, and they have every right to post them, however ludicrous, obscene or plain silly those opinions may be.

I do not consider Cameron to be a Right-wing politician, I think he may be a good Manager, but a ‘conviction’ politician he is not. He must get the very idea out of his head that, because the phone message emanates from No. 10, the recipient must jump to do his bidding! What Facebook is doing in the hosting of this particular page is, whilst possibly distasteful, is certainly not illegal, because all those statements are simply opinions.

In the course of my contributions to David’s blogsite, I have deleted a few comments upon my posts, mainly because the comments attacked the writer rather than the writing. I have stated that I will not tolerate obscenity, or personal attacks, and I believe I have kept to those tenets. Both on this blog and on my own site, I have always spoken my mind, and that is the nub of the argument against Cameron and his high-handed statements regarding the Facebook site. The Facebook commenters are placing their thoughts and beliefs in public, and as long as they do not incite violence or insurrection, they should continue to stay on that rather silly Facebook page.

Cameron has stated his position, regarding the sympathy for the dead and injured victims of Moat’s actions; he should perhaps realise that that is his opinion, and he should never attempt to censor or diminish the opinions of those who hold a different viewpoint.