A Driving Instructor's Blog

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Sad Hill Cemetery in the movieI just caught this story on the BBC website.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (TGTBATU) is the best film of all time. I should say that that’s just my opinion, but I don’t want to water it down. It just is.

It has sentimental value to me as well. An uncle, who died many years ago, was going to take me to see it when it was on at the cinema. I had been captivated by the music, which was being played a lot on the radio, and he said he’d take me. It never came to pass, because about five minutes after he’d said it, my auntie pointed out that it had an ‘X’ rating and they wouldn’t let a 7-year old in.

I digress. A while back, I was playing around with Google Earth, and since TGTBATU was on one of the satellite channels again I looked up the location of Sad Hill cemetery – the setting for the iconic final scene in the movie. The scenery in the film had always impressed me, but the location in Northern Spain turned out to be overgrown. It was an unofficial off-the-beaten-track tourist target, but it was just an overgrown valley – albeit still with great scenery. I’d made a mental note to visit the place if I ever got the chance.

Anyway, it appears from this story that a group of volunteers has renovated the site and put it back to the condition it was in when the movie was shot.

Time to start planning the trip.

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You have to smile sometimes. I just received this email. It’s just a hunch, but it might be a scam.

From: Charles Koch <email address removed>

Subject: CONTACT ME URGENT

Dear Beneficiary,

How are you today, I hope all is well .Be informed that due to your delay ,YOUR FUND worth of (USD$950,000.00) was converted into ATM-Card which you can use to withdraw in any ATM Cash Point Machine Worldwide and have been programmed by the issuing bank .Note that the issuing bank has packaged the ATM CARD with the secret code and registered it with DHL courier service. Also you can withdraw the sum of US$5,000.00 per day.Therefore, quickly contact DHL COMPANY with below

information:

Your full name……..

Your address……….

Your country……….

Your age …………

Your occupation……..

Your Phone number……

Director :Mr Charles Koch

Email address: (Zimbabwe email address removed)

The only money you have to send to DHL COMPANY is only US$95 only,according to the director of the issuing bank for the smooth delivery of your package to your door step. Also you should reaffirm your full NAME, ADDRESS,TELEPHONE NUMBER AND DRIVER’S LICENSE OR PASSPORT to them to avoid wrong delivery.

Congratulations!

Yours faithfully,

Funds Remittance Department

The really frightening thing is that there will be some prat who responds to him.

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Australian politician breastfeedingThis story on the MSN newsfeed (in The Telegraph) falls over itself in its gleeful demonstration of pro-feminism.

Some berk who has a real problem separating home life from work breastfed a baby whilst putting forward a motion to the Australian Parliament. If that wasn’t bad enough, the baby also took a dump in its nappy. No one seems to see any wrong in this (not officially, anyway).

Look at the stupid smiles on the faces of those looking on. It’s in Parliament, for God’s sake, and they’re all sitting around going “aaaaaah!”

I’ve told this story before, but years ago I was on a skiing holiday in France (or it might have been Switzerland). We had gone into a fairly smart restaurant one night for a meal, and at the table next to us was a family who were having a raclette (a big block of cheese that is melted and into which you dip chunks of bread or meat). They had a baby with them in a high chair.

We’d just had our main course delivered when I sniffed and said to one of my companions “I think that baby has crapped itself”. And it had. The woman took it to the lavatory and the stench of baby crap remained in the restaurant while we ate our meal. At the time, a small beer cost about three times more than a pint did in the UK, and that meal was similarly priced. If I remember correctly, the proprietor of the restaurant was feeding us free schnapps after our meal – and it didn’t occur to me until now that it might have been his way of apologising. To be honest, even if he’d have given us the meal for free, it still ballsed up an entire evening, the purpose of which was to eat after a hard day’s skiing, not to experience in this way.

I can state – as an absolute fact, with no worries whatsoever about being wrong – I should not have been subjected to that, and the family who’d taken the bloody baby in was a prime example of irresponsible parenting.

People with babies should not be allowed to take them to work, unless work is at Mothercare or some other place where hormone-addled people work. Breastfeeding in public is gross – the only people who like it are the same hormone-addled specimens, or (if they’re male) perverts trying to pretend they’re not. Anyone normal who says they’re cool with it is just lying, because a part of the body which is overtly sexual for about 95-99% of the time does not become OK to flash about in a restaurant (or in Parliament) just because it means its owner is “making a statement”.

If you have kids, you’re supposed to change what you do to help them grow up properly. You don’t carry on normally, force everyone around you to change, and have your kids grow up in spite of you. Which is what this Australian woman is doing.

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Swedish ParliamentI read about this a while back, but it seems the trial has come to an end. The BBC’s story title is misleading, because it certainly doesn’t answer the question “what really happened when Swedes tried six-hour days?”

The only detail that matters is that those who had their working day cut to six hours were still taking home the same money. I seem to be the only one who sees that for what it is: an effective salary increase of about 25%, which means an increase in wage costs of the same amount for any company who has to foot the bill, or the taxpayer if the government subsidises it.

I mean, how can you trust the comments of people who have been part of the trial to give objective or meaningful feedback? They got a huge pay rise and lots of extra free time – who wouldn’t like that? It would have meant a hell of a lot more to find out what they said if they’d had to take a 25% pay cut. I’m sure they wouldn’t have liked that anywhere near as much.

Of course, the story contains the ubiquitous tale of a mummy able to spend more time with her child (sorry, her daughter – got to keep the old feminine wheel turning full on, haven’t we?)

Unless companies (or government) are prepared – or able – to increase wages by this amount, the numbers just don’t stack up. Less hours per person on the same pay means wage bills go up. Less hours per person also means less output, requiring more jobs, so wage bills go up. Less hours per person and no extra jobs means reduced output, so profits fall. Government subsidies to fund it means higher taxes, so take home wages go down. Increased costs will (and I mean ‘will’) result in companies going bankrupt, so more unemployment. And so it goes on.

But, hey. At least women will get more time at home with their daughters, eh?

Also funny are some of the comments left by frequenters of the BBC forums. One comedian, who goes by the name “bbchateukip”, which clearly defines both the mentality and the political leanings of the user in question, says:

My managers are obsessed with input rather than output – they are quite happy for someone to sit there doing rubbish work but see them as good because they spend 12 hours a day – I am considered lazy as I do the bear [sic] minimum hours but because I know how to use a computer I actually achieve more! this is not noticed though – but least I get to spend time with friends and family

I’m sure his employer doesn’t quite see him enveloped by the same radiant glow, and is probably quite accurate in their assessment. I’m also pretty sure that his implication that everyone other than him is doing a piss poor job is also less than true. And I’m certain that the 24 likes he has acquired are also made by equally misguided people.

Life – and the standard of work you produce – is a little more complicated than just being the result of the number of hours you work. Business success, on the other hand, is pretty much directly connected with it, and could not be sustained following a 25% reduction in hours worked.


The comments above are my own, based on the earlier stories and the latest one from the BBC. However, I have since discovered that quite a few other sources have reached similar conclusions. All of the stories make the point that it is too expensive. Even the articles with misleadingly positive headlines say the same thing. The other stories all appear to be based on this Bloomberg one.

If you have the mental capacity to push the feminist claptrap to one side and look into the guts of the matter, the trial could never have been successful for the simple reason that workers got to work fewer hours for no loss in pay. That detail prevented the results from ever having any scientific value. The only way the trial could have had scientific value would have been if those taking part earned 25% less for doing 25% fewer hours, because if it ever became the norm then – one way or another – that, or rather the cost of that, would have to have been absorbed either by the companies who did it, or the government if it subsidised it.

But even that is a red herring, since there is no way on God’s Green Earth that someone is going to perform 25% (or more, which was the hope) better for a 25% reduction in hours – even less so if they also take a 25% drop in salary. And you don’t need a stupid, very expensive experiment to try and prove otherwise. It just isn’t going to happen.

As it turns out, absence due to sickness (one of the goals) did not improve. In some cases it actually increased significantly. It also appears that a trial which ran between 1989 and 2005 was stopped because there were insufficient data to support the supposed benefits. In other words, it did not work.

Reading between the lines, the trials were carried out at places where the staff are probably about 95% female (retirement homes). And another trial is due to begin amongst Sweden’s social services shortly (also gender-skewed if they’re anything like in the UK), with the complicating factor that there is a shortage of social service staff anyway, and this “experiment” is partly intended to drive recruitment in that area.

Truly scientific experiments attempt to alter as few variables as possible, then look for effects of changes to those that are. If you want to prove that working fewer hours is better, you can’t ignore the costs of doing it, and you can’t tack a recruitment drive on to the end. The results would be absolutely meaningless, no matter what the outcome.

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World MapThis article makes interesting reading. The heads of more than half of the top 500 companies in the UK say Brexit has already had a negative impact business, and two-thirds believe it will worsen over the next 12 months. The only people who have benefited so far are those who export, where the weaker pound has helped them – which makes me wonder what my arsehole of an ex-company’s directors said, since they don’t export very much, and yet were vocal supporters of Brexit prior to the referendum.

What really pisses me off is how every negative story ends with something along the lines of:

Despite ongoing uncertainty, the majority of business leaders – 96 percent – were confident their company can adapt to life outside the EU.

Idiots. It’s just like that asteroid that apparently slammed into earth 66 million years ago – life on Earth may have survived, but the dominant dinosaurs were wiped out. By comparison, managing to survive Brexit would not mean that Brexit is a good idea!

It’s funny, but all you have to do is look at a map of the world (above). Then consider what the world is like in the 21st Century.

We are not going to f***ing survive on our own – even less so if we move in with America just to try to alleviate the inevitable effects of Brexit. And it is unbelievable that anyone should believe otherwise, and especially not the leaders of large companies.

With Trump in the White House, another World War is looking increasingly likely. Trump has talked complete bollocks since the moment he was inaugurated, and yet Theresa May has already given him the key to her flat, which pretty much confirms whose side we’d have to be on once any war started. Europe, on the other hand, looks as if it would be more likely to tell Trump to shove it.

The USA might be the largest economic power in the world, but it is far from being the dominant military one. It is also shackled by being entrenched firmly in a particular moral foxhole, whereas those it might end up in conflict with have no such restrictions, and would happily adopt any moral position (and war tactic) that suited them in order to come out on top militarily. Furthermore, America is now managed by a complete asshole, and any war would be a disaster – both for America, and anyone else who had placed themselves in that same foxhole.UK size versus ego

Theresa May is incapable of realising that Brexit is not as simple or as narrowly defined as David Cameron’s idiotic referendum question last June implied. The extremely narrow winning vote to leave the EU was wrong last year. It’s even more wrong now.

The UK’s size versus the rest of the world is currently the inverse of the size of its ego.

The UK should be a part of Europe. Geographically it is. But it should also be part of it both economically and politically.

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Theresa May and Donald TrumpTheresa May has spent the whole time since she became PM absolutely refusing to give details of her plans for Brexit, and refusing equally absolutely to involve parliament in the whole affair.

UK Courts previously ruled that Parliament must be involved. Theresa May appealed that decision, and after yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the original decision, she is now quoted as saying:

I recognise that there is an appetite in this House to see that plan set out in a White Paper. I can confirm to the House that our plan will be set out in a White Paper published in this House.

The words ‘cow’ and ‘two-faced’ spring instantly to mind. This is precisely the opposite of what she has been saying since last summer, and which she went to court to try to maintain.

Furthermore, when Theresa May came to power, the likelihood of Donald Trump becoming president of the USA was seen as being as likely as Hell freezing over. I do not think – for even a second – that Theresa May wanted Trump in the White House, and I am equally certain that behind closed doors she made the same comments that the rest of the world was making. If nothing else, we can be absolutely certain that, given the choice, she would not have wanted Trump.

But Hell froze over twice in 2016 – once with Brexit, and then with Trump – and will go down in history as a turning point, in much the same way that 1914 and 1939 were turning points. Therefore, it is sickening that May is now kissing up to Trump.

Every single thing Donald Trump said or did during his election campaign went against the morals of huge swathes of people. Indeed, the only people in America who he didn’t insult were the same sorts of people who voted to leave the EU in the UK (with the exception of women, who he insulted every time he opened his mouth). American Redneck males love him. And that’s all, folks.

Trump has more recently claimed that “water-boarding” – a type of torture used on people to make them confess to anything you want them to confess to, and which is similar to drowning them slowly – works. Torture is illegal under both US and International Law. He intends to build a wall between Mexico and the US, in a chilling echo of Berlin in 1961. He has already started moving on controversial oil pipelines through Native American territory – still more chilling echoes, this time of the White Man’s advance through the Americas in the 1700s and 1800s. Trump is also a climate change denier, and has recently ordered the American Environmental Protection  Agency (EPA) to delete all data relating to climate change from its website (he has previously claimed that climate change is a Chinese hoax).

Then we come to Trump’s comments relating to women (well, anyone who isn’t heterosexual and male, really). To be sure, some of his quips would be innocuous on their own. However, every single one of them takes on a whole new meaning when you consider them all together, and especially when you remember that they have come repeatedly from the mouth of a man who is now President of the USA.

Just as you don’t need to be a genius to know with absolute certainty what Theresa May thought of Trump as a prospective White House candidate, or her reaction when he won, you also don’t need to guess very hard to imagine Trump’s view of Theresa May – past or present.

Theresa May broadcasting that she wants to cosy up to Trump in spite of all of this is simply an example of two desperate people looking for support. May is trying to screw the UK, and Trump is trying to screw the US. Neither realises it – but the shocking thing is that the public as a whole doesn’t realise it, either. That’s why we have May and Brexit this side of the pond, and Trump and… well, you can’t really put him into words… on  the other.

Brexit is wrong. Trump is wrong. And God help us all.

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On 8 November 2016, a massive sinkhole 30m across and 15m deep opened in the middle of Fukuoka, Japan, just after 5am. This is what it looked like.Fukuoka Sinkhole

By the morning of 10 November – also in 2016, just in case Severn Trent or National Grid staff are reading this – this is what they had done.Fukuoka Sinkhole Repaired

To be fair, the area didn’t actually reopen until November 15 because of safety checks. Even so, they fixed it in 2 days, and it re-opened exactly one week after the sinkhole first appeared.

You have to consider the magnitude of this situation in order to realise what a bunch of lazy and incompetent prats certain British companies appear to be when they take weeks or months to complete even the smallest of jobs.

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Final proof – if ever it were needed – that Donald Trump must not become US President. The actual transcript of what he has been recorded saying about women makes damning reading.The nuclear button

This is the same man who has been making similarly derogatory remarks about anyone who isn’t American – and most of those who are – on average about once a week, though that frequency has increased of late as the campaign ramps up.

This is the man who has made what has been seen by some as the suggestion that his opponent should be assassinated.

In the UK, someone like this would not even be allowed to keep their job as a McDonalds burger flipper or Big Issue seller. They most certainly would not be awarded sole responsibility for the country’s security. So it is frightening to think that Trump is running neck and neck with Hillary Clinton – it means that approximately half of voting Americans support his warped views, and so must hold most of those views themselves.

In this latest shambles, Trump has not even had the decency to apologise. Instead, he chose to argue that he is not perfect and he is still learning. He is quoted:

I said it, I was wrong, I apologise

This is the man who, should he become president, will have access to the Big “LAUNCH” Button. It makes your blood run cold to think how close Doomsday is, with those NRA nutters and Trump up each others’ backsides all ready to get a set of keys to the Nukem console.

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Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler

That’s right. One of them is in colour.

The farcical American Presidential Election campaign hit a new low today. Donald Trump has made what is seen as a reference to the assassination of Hillary Clinton.

Even if he didn’t literally mean what he said, there are plenty of loonies in the US who would see things differently.

While reading that BBC story, my eye was drawn towards:

Other controversial Trump statements he later clarified

  • Trump denies mocking disabled reporter
  • Trump backtracks on Iran video
  • Trump backs down on abortion amid outcry
  • Trump denies menstruation Kelly remark
  • Trump’s email hacking remarks ‘sarcasm’

And this sorry specimen of a human being is still in the running for President. Worse still, the sorry specimens who support him give him a good chance of winning. And Rudy Giuliani – the guy who was New York’s mayor at the time of 9/11 – has gone right down in my estimation, as he is a rabid Trump supporter.

When you think how rapidly the world has changed during the last 12 months or so – IS atrocities, Brexit, Trump, and countless others around the globe – it is frightening to contemplate what might happen in the next 12.

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Following on from that story about the Americans shooting a gorilla as a precautionary measure n their attempts to deal with crass stupidity on the part of their citizens, at least the Aussies are more sanguine about such episodes.Crocodile - not necessarily an Australian one

Oh, I know they were looking down their noses at us over that bloody Boaty McBoatface debacle, but they’re still refreshingly down to earth otherwise. As this story today demonstrates quite clearly.

If the victim had survived in this case, then she would automatically have been in the finals for the 2016 Darwin Awards. Such was the level of stupidity on display.

It happened in the Daintree National park, in Northern Queensland. The presence of signs, local warnings about it being a known crocodile habitat, Queensland’s “be croc-wise” safety policy, and I would suspect a fair degree of understanding of the dangers of living in Australia in the first place, not to mention those associated with just being Australian at all did not deter this 47-year old woman from attempting to swim in waist-deep water. At night. It seems that the only thing she didn’t do was bring some extra crocodiles with her just to be sure. Unfortunately for her, though, one of the resident crocs was also taking a swim nearby, and saw its chance for a snack.

Unlike the Americans, who you can almost imagine tripping over themselves to get their guns in order to blow away a gorilla who had not actually made any threatening moves towards a four-year-old (some reports say he was actually three) child whose parents had been so monstrously neglectful as to allow him to climb through a fence and fall into a moat surrounding an enclosure, the Aussies are a little more logical over this incident. A local politician, Warren Enstch, said:

This is a tragedy but it was avoidable. There are warning signs everywhere up there.

You can only get there by ferry, and there are signs there saying watch out for the bloody crocodiles.

You can’t legislate against human stupidity. If you go in swimming at 10 o’clock at night, you’re going to get consumed.

Meanwhile, Australian police have been practising the art of understatement:

We would hold grave fears for the welfare of the woman.

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