torsdag 20 juni 2019

Britain’s new inter city trains - could have been better.

Long distance trains in Britain dating from the 1970s and 1990s are being replaced wholesale by the new 800 series trains from Hitachi. They could have been worse, but the designers have not really addressed some of the fundamental problems which go back to the time when mark 3 stock was introduced in the 1970s.
  1. Seats misaligned to windows. This is primarily a matter of getting the bay dimension correct in the first place. If this is 1.90 metres there is sufficient legroom for everyone and all the seats can align.
  2. The luggage space is in the wrong place. People will not use the large luggage areas as they are not secure. The optimum location for luggage is between seat backs but this means that most of the seating should be in facing pairs as in the mark 1 and mark 2 stock. As soon as the seats are arranged in an airline configuration, this useful luggage space is lost. Given that it is too late to change the fundamental design, the large luggage areas should be fitted with some means of securing cases eg with lockable cables and keys with a coin deposit system. Otherwise people are not going to use them.
  3. Space next to the unglazed sliding door pockets should be used for luggage or toilets or equipment cabinets.
  4. The discomfort of the seats is due to insufficient lumbar support. This could easily be remedied by changing the shape of the foam inserts.
  5. The vehicles are too long. The end space cannot be used for seating due to the tapered shape and it cannot be use for entrance vestibules as there would be excessive platform gaps.
  6. The vehicles are difficult to get on and off - indeed, hazardous - due to the design of the steps and the large gaps. Retractable steps should have been fitted. The excessive length of the vehicles is probably a factor.
  7. The overall design of the trains is ugly, with a flat roof with lumps of equipment spread along the top, giving the trains a horrible skyline, rotten aerodynamics and likely problems with snow and rain. These items should have been faired into the roof, as an stock such as Electrostar series.
  8. There is a huge gap between vehicles. This is also terrible both visually and aerodynamically. The space aught to be closed by rubber fairings or extended panels, or the vehicle bodies built out and used for equipment. There is probably quite a lot of equipment which could usefully be relocated here from under the floor or elsewhere.
I would question the wisdom of having a single fleet huge fleet to a single design from a single supplier. Britain’s railways have run the risk of a fault affecting the entire fleet, and then what? It has happened enough times before. The current problem with the Boeing 737 Max is only the latest in a series of such events; the same thing happened with the Merchant Navy class of steam locomotives in the 1950s, when the fleet had to be taken out of service and replacements drafted in from all over the country.

onsdag 29 maj 2019

Place of worship, or arts venue?

Gothic cathedrals have been having a bad time lately, what with the Notre Dame fire, and now Salisbury Cathedral, which currently has a giant Gaia hanging in the nave. It dominates the view as you come in and is there for the annual festival. Its presence proclaims how the Church of England has forgotten what it exists for, and what the cathedral was built for in the first place. Christianity deals not with the earthly realm but with the heavenly one. The Gaia would have been perfectly in place in the Cathedral Close or even in the cloister, only not inside the cathedral itself. There is not even a scriptural text to set it in its context, such as, ‘Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven’, ‘My Kingdom is not of this world’, or ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof’, or ‘Heaven and Earth are full of Thy glory’.

The Bishop, Dean and Chapter need to think more carefully about what is allowed to take place in their cathedral. Its primary purpose is not as an arts venue.

söndag 19 maj 2019

Islamophobia #1

“Islamophobia” is a dishonest neologism which has been used to shut down discussion of Islam and label critics as racist. There has been discussion of the subject recently, in an attempt to define it, perhaps as a prelude to making it a crime. A phobia is an irrational fear. Christians and Jews have had good reason to fear Islam for the past 1400 years. Mohammed himself was responsible for a notorious atrocity against Jews, Banu Qurayza, when 600 men were beheaded on his orders, and the women and children taken into slavery. Since Islam venerates him as the perfect man, fear of Islam is anything but irrational. Christians and Jews have rarely been well-treated under Muslim regimes. The recent experience of Christians under ISIS is not an exception to the general case; 3 million Greek and Armenian Christians were murdered in Islamic genocides in the 20th century alone.

This is not to deny that dislike of Muslims has a racist component, since most Muslims are foreigners with dark skins, and irrational dislike is indeed a phobia. There has been an epidemic of attacks and crude invective against Muslims in Britain. They are being made to suffer for the actions of those responsible for incidents such as the Manchester bombings, and for the utterances of the teenage supporter of ISIS who justified the action. It is understandable, if inexcusable.

This BBC Sunday programme has a balanced debate on the subject, 36 minutes from the start. One of the speakers, herself a Muslim, points out that Muslims are far from being the only victims of racism, and that there is a certain onus on those at the receiving end of public dislike, for whatever reason, to practice some self-reflection. Dislike of Muslims is not entirely unconnected with incidents such as the London and Manchester bombings, the truck attack on Westminster Bridge, the exodus of Jews from Malmö, and the fact that anyone travelling by plane now has to allow an extra hour to pass through security checks ‒ which is not to prevent attacks by radical Methodists.

EU election virtue signalling

The posters for the Swedish election to the European Parliament have produced the usual crop of platitudinous virtue signalling.
  • For democracy, against division and extremism. (Social Democrats)
  • Our grandchildren come first - every country should take responsibility for the climate (Social Democrats)
  • Take a stand for secure jobs, not pay cuts (Social Democrats)
  • Oil lobbyists versus climate activists (Vänster)
  • Our fight against right-wing populism is needed in Europe (Centre Party)
  • Hope instead of hate (Green Party)
  • Yes! Vote out extremists and nationalists (Liberals)
They give the impression that they have been generated by a computer programme.

lördag 4 maj 2019

Silence on Christian persecution due to “trade”

Apparently, the silence on Christian persecution is due to fear of offending trading partners like Saudi Arabia, not political correctness. So says the Guardian’s Religious correspondent, Andrew Brown.

That is an interesting angle. It does not explain why the persecution, which is systematic, is confined to certain countries. There is none in Japan, or Thailand, for example, and there was little in India until recently. Brown manages to avoid naming the principal persecutors and their motivations, which are grounded in their own religious, or stringently non-religious, ideologies.

It is amazing the lengths that some people will go to in order not to state the obvious.

fredag 3 maj 2019

Persecution of Christians by persons unknown

It is amazing how an article in the Guardian, reporting the publication of a study about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, fails to mention the M-word.

Who do they think is responsible for this persecution?

måndag 29 april 2019

Scottish independence problems

The Union originated due to the Scottish having lost a vast amount of money in an ill-fated colonial project. It will not break up unless the money settlement works.

Scotland in the EU, but England outside it would not work. England is the main source of goods imported to Scotland; they would become more expensive as they would be subject to the EU tariff, which would lead to cross border shopping in places like Newcastle and Carlisle. This in turn would lead to long tailbacks down the A1 and M6, as cars and HGVs waited to clear the EU customs barrier that would go up.

There are also issues over who would pay for defence.

The Scots would do better to focus on the highly concentrated pattern of land ownership in the country, and to use the freedom that already exists to apply a land value tax. However, Scottish politicians do not seem to be particularly smart or they would not be operating policies such as higher income taxes in Scotland.

Britain’s new inter city trains - could have been better.

Long distance trains in Britain dating from the 1970s and 1990s are being replaced wholesale by the new 800 series trains from Hitachi. The...