A Driving Instructor's Blog

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Three American MoronsAmerica has a problem. Actually, America has many problems. But with COVID-19, some problems stick out more than others.

Mind you, I say that. But in America right now, pretty much all problems stick out. One of the current ones is in Texas. It seems they have had daily new cases of COVID-19 jump from 2,000 to 6,000 (the article says 5,000, but it is actually 6,000 right now) in a few weeks. Putting that in perspective, Texas has a population which is about a third of the entire UK, yet our maximum number of daily cases has never – apart from one day in April, where I think care homes were added – been much above about 6,000. And the charts indicate it is still accelerating in Texas.

Of course, we had the lockdown. And apart from a worrying number of morons ignoring it, that has brought our daily cases down to around 1,000.

In a similar vein, Texas has seen around 150,000 cases overall. So far. That’s already half of what we’ve seen with three times as many people, and a higher population density.

America has a complicated political structure, whereby state government mainly calls the shots, but this is further complicated by the various amendments to The Constitution, meaning the people pretty much decide whether they follow the Law or not (it’s the ‘Land of the Free’, after all). And if anyone tries to make them, they get their guns out and it gets even more complicated (it’s also the ‘Land of the Stupid’ at the best of times). And all this is completely legal, thanks to that same Constitution.

You could write forever about the American system. But the point I wanted to make was about wearing face masks. It seems that the Texas Governor has urged people to wear masks ‘where it is indicated’. This has proved unpopular – violently so, from what I can gather. And my question in the title is simply illustrated by the photo from the BBC.

See if you can spot the morons in it. Hint: there are three of them, and I’ve numbered them just in case you can’t work it out.

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Virus graphicWell, Donald Trump appears desperate to outdo himself with everything he says and does. You will no doubt have heard his latest medical endorsement of the possible use of bleach or detergent – injected or consumed – to get rid of COVID-19. He even iced the cake by referring to UV light – used internally as well as externally – as a possible ‘cure’ for the virus!

Whatever he meant – whatever he was thinking – it is what other people will think that matters. Stupid people, in particular.

There has already been a case of someone in Arizona dying because he took Trump’s previous endorsement of Chloroquine literally and dosed himself up on the stuff used to clean aquariums. His wife was apparently in a critical condition after doing the same. In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s latest rant, Reckitt Benckiser – the manufacturers of Lysol and Dettol – have had to issue warnings not to ingest or inject their products.

The problem is that stupid people don’t know that they’re stupid. In many cases, they actually think they’re smart. I suppose ‘stupid’ is perhaps a bit strong, but the alternative – that they are just average people – is potentially even more worrying, since it means that there’s a lot more of them around.

Sticking with the bleach thing for a moment, household products are not manufactured under conditions that make them anywhere near suitable for internal use. They are even further away from being suitable for intravenous use. An example would be calcium supplement tablets. The raw material in those is often calcium carbonate – but the quality of that material is nothing like the calcium carbonate that would be used in cement, which is another of its applications. The stuff in the tablets is purified in a lab to make it suitable for ingestion. The stuff used in cement pretty much comes straight out of a limestone quarry.

Household cleaners share a similar gulf in how ‘clean’ they are, with the additional problem being that you don’t use bleach – particularly chlorine-based bleaches – internally for anything. They are corrosive and toxic. Even gentler bleaches like the peroxides are used highly diluted and for external purposes (tooth whitening, for example).

But the problem seems to be that stupidity – or averageness – isn’t confined to Trump, the Americans, or any other nation, although there does seem to be a link between education and being prepared to do things that it might have been best not to.

Let’s summarise the problem we have. There’s a virus. It spreads easily. It kills a lot more people than seasonal flu does, even though it isn’t flu. There is no vaccine at the moment. No one alive can remember anything like what we have right now. In order to protect as many people as possible, the government ordered the lockdown we are all currently dealing with. No one person’s life is any more valuable than anyone else’s – no matter what their health or age.

Read that last paragraph carefully. It contains no opinion – just facts.

Now ask yourself this. What has changed in any of that during the last month? Absolutely nothing has.

And yet there is an article today indicating that, with the next pulse of warmer weather getting underway, people are breaking the lockdown rules in greater numbers than at any time since the lockdown began.

In my own industry, I continue to see people who are putting money and themselves above all else. They desperately want to return to work, and will try any argument to convince themselves they should be allowed to. There are still people saying that it’s ‘no worse than flu’. There are still people whose argument is ‘I need money, so we should be allowed back to work’. There are instructors desperately searching for key workers to teach, even though they have children and are in daily contact with vulnerable people. There are instructors desperate to return to work by the time ‘the kids go back to school’ (or conversely, want the lockdown lifted just to suit whatever the schools decide to do so that they can work without having to worry about childminding). There are older people arguing ‘I don’t want to be imprisoned for the rest of my life’, as if that is a reason for the lockdown to be lifted. There are people still desperately trying to believe that wearing a mask and gloves means you’ll be safe sitting in a car with six or more different pupils every day, and who would gladly go back to normal if that’s all they had to do. Some would work tomorrow – with no protection whatsoever – if they were ‘allowed to’. Others repeatedly quote ‘Sweden’, as if that somehow means we ought to pretend nothing has happened.

I could go on, and on, and on with more examples.

These are the ‘average’ members of society I was referring to. They simply do not have a clue.

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The Fusco familyI just saw this article on the BBC website. Coronavirus has killed four members of the same family in New Jersey.

Grace Fusco was 73. She, and six of her adult children, fell ill after a larger family gathering of up to 20 people. One of those children, Rita, was only 55 and had no underlying health conditions. The story doesn’t mention the ages of Carmine and Vincent, who also died.

It’s a tragic story – and one those over here who are vowing to keep working no matter what should bear in mind.

Having said that, I appreciate that many instructors are in terrible positions. I’m fortunate. inasmuch as I have now have an income from a private pension from my previous employer (hack, spit) of around £250 a week, and a lump sum in the bank from that which I wanted to save, but which could keep me going for several years if I needed it (hopefully, I won’t). And I have no mortgage or debts.

Many instructors – especially the younger ones – have nothing. They have mortgages, car loans, and other debts, as well as kids to feed. Driving instruction is not a high-paying job in the first place – even at best it is ‘adequate’, but you have to have been doing it for years and built up a financial buffer for that to matter.

My primary (selfish) concern is not passing COVID-19 to my parents. My secondary concern is  not passing it to my pupils who have Downs children, who are pregnant, or who have vulnerable relatives. Money comes in third.

I can understand the dilemma many find themselves in. I just count myself fortunate right now.

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Another mass shooting in the USA. And just when you think that, this time, someone must start to take gun control seriously over there, you see this:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, however, said gun control would probably not have stopped the attack.

He added that if a “crazy” gunman launches such an attack, there is no way that law enforcement officers could be there to stop it.

“The best way is to be prepared to defend yourself,” he told CBS News.

Look, you right wing, NRA-affiliated prat, if he couldn’t have obtained the gun in the first place just by showing his ID (and reports suggest he didn’t even have to do that because he bought it online), this almost certainly wouldn’t have happened – like with most of the mass shootings your country is famous for. How the f**k does anyone over there have the ‘right to bear’ an assault rifle? It’s designed to kill people. Period.

It is lack of gun control that has led to it, and lack of gun control which continues to fuel it.

And what Paxton has said is doubly stupid given that the situation is still ‘live’, and no one could possibly know enough about the shooter to determine his motives at this time, and thus conclude so absolutely that his actions weren’t preventable. Gun control would have likely prevented at least some of the 251 people who have already died in mass shootings in the US this year.

We don’t have mass shootings in the UK to anything like the level they do in the USA. Over here, it needs a special kind of psychopath with an especially deep sexual inadequacy to get hold of a gun and kill a lot of people all at once. In America, you can get a gun with your corn flakes, and if it then turns out you’re also inadequate, you’re already tooled up for what comes next.

And I woke up this morning to discover that as well as the 20 dead in El Paso, another 9 have been killed in a separate incident a few hours later in Ohio. The jackass this time was carrying a high-capacity assault rifle and extra magazines.

Gun control is the only answer. Not the full answer – but a damn sight better one than what they have right now.

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Paul Hogan barbecuing shrimpIs it just me, or does every Australian cookery programme revolve around barbecuing 2-foot long shrimps and an octopus in front of Sydney Harbour?

I’m watching the cookery channel and they’ve got an Australian Day. Every bloody programme it’s the giant shrimps and cephalopods. And Sydney Harbour.

If you want even one shrimp that size over here you need to re-mortgage your house.

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German Traffic PoliceThis made me smile. An 18-year old kid in Germany passed his driving test, then got caught by police with a radar gun doing 60mph in a 30mph zone on his way home (with four of his mates in the car). This happened 49 minutes after his test pass.

He’s got an automatic four-week ban, and will have to take further “expensive” training. He also got two points on his licence, a €200 fine, and his two-year new-driver probationary period has been extended to four.

Plus ça change, eh?

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Trump's Space CorpsLike Brexit, Donald Trump is another anomaly from 2016 that just keeps on giving.

His latest stunt appears to involve restarting the Strategic Defense Initiative – aka “Star Wars” – which was first started by Ronald Reagan in 1983 at the height of The Cold War.

The big differences this time around are that:

  • Ronald Reagan wasn’t a certified nutcase
  • technology wasn’t up to it the first time
  • the key world leaders involved now are bordering on insanity

I think the picture above gives a good representation of what is involved – at least in theory.

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Trump's Iran announcement2016 saw two of the biggest catastrophes the world has seen in a long time. Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump as POTUS.

There has been a collective movement of denial over Trump. To some of us, he was a f—ing w–nker in 2016, he has remained a f—ing w–nker all the time since 2016, and he has just shown how much of a f—ing w–nker he really is by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Within minutes of his announcement, Iran said it is going to start enriching uranium again, and Israel has begun bigging itself up ready to go to war with Syria because it reckons Iran is supplying it with arms with which to attack Jerusalem. Russia reckons the action will jeopardise the Korean pact, which means the North will restart its nuclear trials. If Israel attacks any Muslim country, other Muslim countries are likely to join in. Every f—ing lunatic hardcore Islamist who isn’t in Syria will start trying to get at Trump by blowing up whatever country they are currently residing in. And the price of oil is likely to skyrocket. Every civilised country has condemned Trump’s decision.

Britain is in a bit of a cleft stick, because we’re in the middle of trying to spit on Europe, whilst simultaneously being in the middle of shaping up to have Trump’s babies (along with lots of chlorinated chicken) to make up for what we’re about to lose. And thanks to the Brexit effect on the pound – which, in spite of the Brexiter rhetoric a few weeks ago, is now back down the what it was the day after the Referendum versus the dollar – everything is costing more. Fuel prices are already creeping up again (5p in the last three weeks) even before the effects of Trump’s latest folly kick in. In other words, we’re trying to go it alone at what has become the worst imaginable time in which to do so.

I pointed out in 2016 that by leaving the EU we could not foresee what was around the corner, and that a war with someone was possible. Trump has made that even more possible – almost likely.

The problem is that the Iran deal was actually working. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than what Trump has now condemned the world to. He has pretty much proved what the less civilised countries already believed: that America can’t be trusted.

Ironically, America can be trusted. Just not with Trump as POTUS.

The thought occurs to me that I hope I wake up tomorrow (ambiguity in that comment deliberate).

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AR-15 Assault RifleAfter the recent tragedy in Florida, and yet another mass shooting spree in a school, with multiple fatalities, it seemed like the time had finally come for America to realise that virtually unrestricted gun ownership had to be curtailed.

Donald Trump looked like he was about to make a decision that would finally make him come across as a proper POTUS. No, he really did.

It would appear that the solution he is now suggesting involves allowing teachers to carry guns so they can get into shootouts with lunatics like Nikolas Cruz.

Cruz, you might recall, was carrying an AR-15 – a semi-automatic version of the M16 used by the US Military – which he used to kill 17 people. He had a total of 10 weapons, though the identity of these is being kept secret for some reason (no need to guess why, since American gun laws wouldn’t put ownership of a small thermonuclear device outside the reach of the average citizen, purely on “constitutional” grounds). It is known that he purchased a shotgun and an AK-47, and the owner of the shop which sold them to him appears to have done so willingly and with no fuss whatsoever.

This is made so much worse by the fact that Cruz appears to have been a certified head case (if anyone had bothered to check) – certainly enough of one for any sensible person not to sell him a blunt stick, let alone military-grade weaponry (and lots of it).

Trump’s idea is that teachers would carry “concealed” weapons. You don’t need to be an expert to realise that it would be extremely difficult to conceal an AR-15 unless you had very long legs, since it is almost a metre long and weighs about 3.5kg. Therefore, a teacher would have something much smaller and much less accurate except at close range. In short, a hand gun. So Trump’s idea is for teachers to put their lives in guaranteed danger by confronting people like Cruz who, it must be said, could also be carrying grenades (I believe that these can be obtained legally, though with difficulty), explosives (more easily obtained or manufactured), or any number of noxious substances. Of course, where control is so lax to start with, obtaining such materials illegally is even simpler.

I don’t want to make light of a very serious issue, but if this is what Donald Trump thinks will solve the problem, there is every likelihood that his next idea will be for helicopters to drop gasoline on wildfires in order to extinguish them.

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Last month, I mentioned an email I’d received which informed me that I’d got $950,000 waiting in a Zimbabwean bank. All I had to do was send $95 for delivery of the ATM card which would unlock these untold riches.

I just received another one. Apparently, I have $12,000,000 now – $24,000,000 if you allow for the fact I got two copies, one to each of two of the various email addresses I use:

Dear Sir/Ma,

This is to inform all contractors and business owners whom have done any business in Africa without been paid that, they are free to contact the office of the WORLD BANK COMPENSATION COMMISSION for immediate payment considerations.
 
The function of the Commission, is to verify and evaluate claims, and in so  doing, to determine whether the applicant is entitle to any compensation in the amount not less that $12,000,000:00 (Twelve Million Dollars).

The Commissioners assess the type of compensation due to the claimants and  recommended compensation to the Governing Council and intelligible claimant/s is paid within four (4) working days.

This Compensation Commission is headed by the Executive Secretary who is appointed by the board of the World Bank after consultation with the Governing Council. Since the establishment of the Commission in 2014, the staff of the Secretariat comes from approximately 32 different countries and at the height of claims processing, the Secretariat is made up of approximately 30 lawyers, accountants, loss adjusters and information technology specialists.

To begin with the process of this compensation, all eligible persons or come any is require to to send the following to the office of the Commission

A. FULL NAME/ COMPANY NAME
B. CONTACT ADDRESS
C. TELEPHONE/ FAX NUMBER

All information should be sent to:-
  
Olivia Porter
[removed]@gmail.com

Yours Faithfully,
Sarah Grant.

Not very bright, are they? Mind you, some of the people they send these to aren’t, either.

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