A Driving Instructor's Blog

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I found this handy little tip.

In Windows 7, if you create a new folder (anywhere, but I did mine in the root of the C drive), and then rename it as:

GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

You get a single folder which contains direct links to all Windows 7’s features in a single place.

If you right-click the new folder icon, then choose Send To, and Desktop (create shortcut) you’ll have a handy link on your desktop to all those Windows system apps.

You can read more on cnet and ZDNet.

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Well done to ECT on getting just 3 driver faults this morning. She’s another I taught from beginner.

She’s had a bit of a rough ride on this, having had a test cancelled just before Christmas and another one just afterwards (both due to snow and freezing conditions). After the last conducted test she had to go and see her GP about nerves. He prescribed beta-blockers – and they really did the job. She was calm and smiling right from the moment I picked her up (compare last time, with the stoney face and nervous driving/stalling). We had a great hour and a half, with everything going right and being carried out smoothly.

She’s getting her car at the weekend –  so good luck, and enjoy your driving, Liz.

Of course, it is also good for me now I’m back in the groove!

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I was driving through Clifton (a housing estate) this afternoon, following a black SmartCar (the sports one – reg no. P053 JWN ).

Along Southchurch Drive it was driving quite normally, but outside the shops near the Southchurch flats it slowed right down and then proceeded to drive slowly and erratically as it went  left at the roundabout on to Farnborough Road. I moved into the bus lane (which is not in operation at this time), but was wary of this car because it went half into the bus lane, then moved out again… and continued to weave until it came to the traffic lights. Even here, it stayed in the right-hand lane, but moved partly over into the bus lane, coming to a stop at the junction in the right-hand lane again.

I didn’t pay it much more attention, until I glanced at the driver and she was texting. She was so intent on the text that she missed the lights change to green. As she turned right on to the A453 she saw me looking at her and she stayed behind me then. I turned off to go towards West Bridgford, but she carried on and judging by the way she moved to the left lane afterwards she was still texting!

These people deserve lifetime driving bans.

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Recently, I’ve been getting annoyed with online suppliers.

To start with, postage costs are becoming a joke – you can buy something which costs less than £5.00, and then get stung for postage of £6.50 or more.

Then there is the delivery time – online ordering used to be famous for being quick. But not any more. You can order from Amazon and other places, then find yourself waiting for two weeks for something that is actually in stock. If it isn’t in stock, you can wait several times longer.

What makes all this worse is communication. To be fair to Amazon, they do keep you informed – but I ordered something on 28 December from another retailer and I had to chase it up on 20 January, because it hadn’t arrived (and the website said it was in stock) and I had heard nothing from the supplier. They told me that they were waiting for it to come back in stock and it would be delivered to them “next Wednesday” (i.e. 27 January) and they’d ship it then. On 3 February (the next Wednesday) I chased it again – this time to be told it would be another 3-4 weeks.

Now, I don’t mind waiting if I know what is happening, but having to chase it all the time is just not on. When you combine lead time and postage costs, then factor in sheer ignorance, online ordering is becoming less and less of an attractive option all the time.

So it is pleasing to announce that something I ordered on Sunday was shipped on Monday and delivered this morning (Tuesday) before 9.30am. They sent an automatic confirmation of my order (which is standard) and a shipping email (sent by a human being).

The company is called ToolStop, and they sell tools and accessories.I would recommend them to anyone.

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I mentioned in a previous post how a run of 14 passes last summer can suddenly turn upside down – particularly if a pupil who turns into a ‘serial failer’ through nerves takes their test several times in fairly rapid succession. It feels so much the worse when pupils who you’d have as dead certs to pass lose it on the day and make mistakes (a couple of weeks ago a pupil who never stalls – and hasn’t stalled since – decided to do it repeatedly on her test).

Anyway, it feels like I’m back in the groove again – well done to JH, who passed this afternoon with just 2 driver faults. I taught him from scratch (they’re the most satisfying), and he is one of several pupils who’ve had their tests cancelled more than once during the snow. So I’m now on a 50% pass rate for 2010!

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Another interesting story – this one is about the modern culture of praising and rewarding children for things like being able to pee in the toilet without missing as if they’d just invented an unlimited energy machine or something.

I couldn’t agree more.

The article says:

Growing numbers of experts believe families lavishing compliments on their youngsters for something trivial actually demotivates them.

It isn’t just children. It demotivates anyone with brains enough to see through it… and for those without the brains, you just end up with a bunch of people who’ve been told they are brilliant when they aren’t!

The whole issue ties in with an earlier post about exams and the annual argument over whether they are easier than they used to be. FACT: Yes. Exams are easier now than they used to be. And the pass level is set so low that they are almost impossible to fail. People just can’t seem to grasp the simple concept that if you have someone with intelligence measured on a scale of 1-100 right at the top end, then somewhere or other there will be someone with intelligence right at the bottom end. And most people will cluster somewhere in the middle.

So rigging exams to make sure everyone gets grades which point to them being at the top end is simply covering up the reality. And this latest article is providing evidence which fits right into that reality: pointless praising of someone who isn’t bright does not make them bright. In most cases they know they aren’t bright, and the false praise is wasted. As the article says:

Simon Brownhill, a sen[i]or lecturer in education at Derby University, said that prizes should be linked to proper achievement, above what is normally expected.

He said: ‘A prize should be something you can work towards. When I was learning to swim I got a certificate for five metres, one for ten metres and so on.

‘Whilst I am all for rewarding achievement, it has to genuinely recognise progress. A prize or certificate for nothing devalues the concept of a reward.’

In other words, you only get praised or rewarded if you actually do achieve something real.

As usual, some of the comments left by people on the Mail article give an insight into what I am saying about some people having intelligence down the bottom end of the scale. Fed Up from Birmingham is a prime example:

Load of rubbish. You try telling a child everyday that it’s useless, and in the end they believe it enough TO BE USELESS. Now, try praising a child everyday, for anything, no matter how small, and that child will feel 10″ tall. And before you say ‘how do i know’, well i’ve brought up 3 healthy, well balanced, sucessful children that are a credit to me and everybody around them, by doing just that.

Nothing annoys me more than people who cannot understand something failing to realise their limitations and then opening their mouths to broadcast the fact. This idiot has missed the point entirely: trying to make children feel good about nothing is not as useful as making them feel good about a real achievement. No one said anything about telling them they are useless – just don’t keep telling them they’re great unless they actually are!

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Thanks for the heads up from Kirst D’Raven (from the Unknown Phenomena Investigation Association), who pointed out this updated story in the Chorley Guardian about the Buckshaw Beast.

The Guardian – which is probably normally delivered by Town Crier (or on wooden tablets in hard copy) to Buckshaw residents – is naturally all excited about the worldwide media attention the story has whipped up.

I must admit that the whole thing is still a little unclear. You see, in August 2007 there was a similar story about The Beast Of Dartmoor (the Daily Mail has a vast repertoire of headline vocabulary, as you can see). The ‘beast’ turned out to be Troy – a Newfoundland dog approximately the size of small asteroid, who wandered around the place where the picture was taken.

People seem to be claiming that the photo of the Buckshaw Beast is the same photo of Troy from 2 years ago. Take a look at the two side-by-side. Troy is on the left, the latest Beast on the right:

Troy vs. The Beast

Troy vs. The Beast

I’m not convinced they are the same photograph. Troy’s left foreleg is reaching forward as if he is walking, and he is next to a rock. The Beast is standing still and there is no rock visible. But having said that, the two animals are almost identical in appearance. Uncannily similar, in fact, and it would not surprise me if the photos are of Troy from different angles – or possibly of another Newfoundland.

Now there’s a thought: does anyone in Buckshaw own a Newfoundland?

Something else I noticed when I had a quick look to see exactly what the geography around Buckshaw is like, and that is that Buckshaw Village is sandwiched between the M6 (less than 1km to the west), and the M61 (less than 2km to the east). There is a notable lack of any wild open space except for a few small managed woods adjoining the two golf clubs bordering the village, and a country park to the north, which is bordered by the M6, M61, and M65. It isn’t what you would call wolf or hyena country. But it is dangerously close to places like Wigan, Preston, Manchester, Bolton, and Blackburn… definitely crackpot country!

One thing is certain: it isn’t a wolf and it isn’t a hyena. OK, that’s two things, but you get what I mean! Nor is it a cross between a boar and a wolf, or any other pair of species incapable of breeding together (either as a result of some warped desire, or through the basic laws of biology). I doubt even that wild boars can be found in the location in question, and certainly not unless they managed to cross the motorways – and that wouldn’t make sense, because they are sods to find even when you know they inhabit an area.

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These two excuses for “organisations” are really ticking me off at the moment.

I’ve written about the huge damage the Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) has wrought on hedgerows around here (after many years of not touching them at all). I’ve also commented on the appalling gritting service provided during the bad weather (i.e. none at all during the worst parts) by both the Nottingham City Council and the County version. In fact – now that the snow has gone – I am biding my time, waiting for my car to be damaged as it goes through a major pothole so that I can claim against the idiots who will now take months to do anything about the problem.

But my latest gripe involves blocking roads to carry out minor roadworks operations, and taking weeks to complete it.

First of all, on the A60 in Ruddington there are temporary railings up in various places (the kind which narrow the road). They’ve been there for a week now, and they have spread down the road as the week has gone on to places where they prevent or restrict the movement of two-way traffic. There is also one of those converted containers from a lorry which serves as a site office just at the end of Landmere Lane.

What are they doing? They are surfacing – or I should say “resurfacing” – the bloody bus stops. Not on the road, but on the pavement.

  • There was nothing wrong with the original surfaces
  • The road is in a far worse state than the bus stops
  • The workmen appear mid morning and by mid afternoon they are in that bloody site office drinking tea until they leave well before 3.30pm
  • They don’t work weekends

It’s no wonder this work takes weeks – if it was being orgainised and carried out by chimps it could be done quicker. It really should only take a few days. I’m also pretty sure that idiotic Health & Safety rules are the reason it causes so much disruption, with temporary lights if traffic would come within 100 metres of a workman in the brief periods during which he’s actually working.

The second thing bugging me is how the Council has closed a lane permanently on Huntingdon Street outside the Litmus Buildings. There used to be a left filter lane and two straight-ahead lanes – but our illustrious idiots decided that the left filter lane should go to make room for a huge pedestrian area (which was huge to start with). Why?

These idiots are known to be car-haters, and all councils (wherever they are) are staffed with the kind of people who should work in nursery schools and care homes but who, instead, become responsible for hard decisions affecting the entire population (if it isn’t things like this, it is multi-colored wheelie bins where you “can only put potato peelings in the green one if there is an R in the months, and it isn’t raining, and if snow isn’t forecast – but not otherwise, and add the number you first thought of”).

It might have something to do with the Council’s attitude towards the darlings who live in the Litmus Buildings. It may have something to do with the number of far-eastern students we have at the moment, who seem to spend most of their time standing in the middle of busy roads looking vacantly upwards (why do they do that?), having ignored the pretty coloured lights, and some of whom will have no doubt fallen foul of this foolish activity and prompted a “safety review”. Who knows? But it sure doesn’t help the traffic flow when people want to turn left – and it is now a very sharp left, so very slow – during rush hour.

And they haven’t even removed the old lines or partially covered arrows. They can’t even carry out bad decisions in a proper way.

And the third thing involves the absolute chaos they have allowed to develop down in Hyson Green. The traffic lights have been out for at least a week and replaced with temporary ones – again, it seems to be down entirely to resurfacing the pedestrian crossings on the pavements (not the roads). And when I went to pick up a pupil down there yesterday, it turned out they had closed off the Nottingham-bound side of Radford Road from the Asda garage (though not the darling trams… oh no. They were still allowed to move). It was gridlocked chaos.

I haven’t got a clue what insane purpose this is going to serve, or why they chose to just block off the road for the weekend and then do nothing. Knowing the idiots involved in all this it wouldn’t surprise me if they ended up turning Hyson Green into a no-car zone – it’s just the kind of area the Council is likely to do that to. I DO know that no one was working yesterday to get it done quickly (big surprise there then).

The roads are an absolute disgrace with potholes. The idiots at both Councils will no doubt need months of meetings before they even start to send men out with tarmac and shovels (and lots of cones and site offices to enable them to turn a few hours worth of work into a week long catastrophe). Obviously, putting new tarmac down on all the bus stops is much more important.

Incidentally, I should also point out that the bus stop work does involve replacing ONE kerbstone as well. It is much higher than the others (well, maybe 6 cm at most taller than it was before) – no doubt this is where the bus is supposed to stop to prevent passengers having to step on to the bus! I would imagine that the whole exercise is going to involve hugely expensive retraining of bus drivers (who stop wherever they bloody well want), and is in response to the millions of people the Council’s Health & Safety primates believe have died in the last 12 months due to having to step on to a bus.

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A few weeks ago I commented on a story where Munir and Tokeer Hussain (Tokeer’s name was spelled ‘Tokir’ in the original story) had been jailed by a living fossil (known colloquially as ‘a judge’) after they had chased, caught, and beat up a scumbag (Walid Salem) – a burglar who had broken into Munir’s house and tied up his wife and children. In the first story, knives and death threats were also mentioned. The imbecile representing what passes as ‘law’ in this country let this pathetic animal off, whereas the injured parties were locked up.

Well, I noticed today in the Daily Mail that both their sentences have been cut, with Munir being released on a reduced and suspended sentence. Tokeer has had his sentence reduced, but not suspended, so he remains in jail (from what I understand in the story). Apparently, since it wasn’t his wife and kids, he isn’t getting the ‘merciful’ (the actual word used) reduction.

Quite frankly, it is still pathetic. Both men should be awarded medals – not convicted of any crime.

Salem is (or was) a career criminal with 50 convictions stretching back over 30 years (so you can guess how many crimes he has gotten away with).

Still, the original judge obviously made a huge balls up with his incompetence – and he will have gotten away scot free as well. All ready to screw someone else’s life up with his unique take on reality, no doubt.

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A while ago, I wrote about the Polar Bears Fallacy (and a new book which was due to be published). The book was called Global Warming And Other Bollocks , and as it happens is wasn’t a bad read. It brought into question a lot of the things we take for granted when we are told them by the media.

Let me just clarify: I say ‘media’ because although the media would argue it is reporting what the government says, it actually reports what it wants to report. The Daily Mail, for example, is happy to twist every detail in order to attack Labour and Gordon Brown (and especially Tony Blair) – so it cannot then turn around and argue it is innocent when it has been part of a blatant lie or hypocritical story (remember the Incandescent Light Bulb saga?) No. If the media publishes something then it – and only it – is responsible for it if it hasn’t researched properly.

I noticed this story – again, in the Daily Mail – yesterday (the whole topic has been dubbed ‘Climategate’). It starts:

Claims by the world’s leading climate scientists that most of the Himalayan glaciers will vanish within 25 years were last night exposed as nonsense.

It explains where the story came from:

But the experts behind the warning have now admitted their claim was not based on hard science – but a news story that appeared in the magazine New Scientist in the late 1990s.

There is a very telling quote from Dr Benny Peiser, head of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. He says:

The IPCC review process has been shown on numerous occasions to lack transparency and due diligence.

Its work is controlled by a tightly knit group of individuals who are completely convinced that they are right. As a result, conflicting data and evidence, even if published in peer reviewed journals, are regularly ignored, while exaggerated claims, even if contentious or not peer-reviewed, are often highlighted in IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports.

This is something I detest: holding a belief, then twisting and manipulating facts to fit in with that belief.

In actual fact, the whole chain of involvement regarding the Melting Glaciers story is laughable. It starts with a claim made in 2005 by WWF (the uber-green charity that likes Pandas and other cuddly animals) after it read a story from The New Scientist (aka ‘She’s Dumbed Down Enough Captain – I Cannae Dumb Her Down Any More’) in 1999, which based its story on a telephone chat with Syed Hasnain (an unknown scientist at Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi), who now claims his comments were “pure speculation” (so you can see what sort of ‘scientists’ he is, then).

I noticed in the article references to a few other recent stories that I’d missed.

There’s this one (also in the Mail) – which in itself appears to be the latest in an ongoing issue which I had also missed. Here, the IPCC has produced graphs which appear to ‘prove’ major temperature changes in recent years – but these have been artfully manipulated to hide data which might not support the view. In fact, the data it hid (or rather ‘removed’) actually showed the opposite of what it was trying to claim. How? Well, the IPCC’s graph is shown below:

The IPCC's Climate Change Graph

The IPCC's Climate Change Graph

But if you look more closely at the area inside the red square you can see that the green line disappears. The data which are missing actually show a marked fall in temperature – but the IPCC didn’t like that and left it out:

The REAL Data The IPCC Should Have Included

The REAL Data The IPCC Should Have Included

You can read the article yourself to pick up the peripheral matter of who leaked the data, but the deceit involved is central to my gripe. One telling quote from the article says:

For example, some suggest that the ‘medieval warm period’, the 350-year era that started around 1000, when red wine grapes flourished in southern England and the Vikings tilled now-frozen farms in Greenland, was considerably warmer than even 1998.

Of course, this is inconvenient to climate change believers because there were no cars or factories pumping out greenhouse gases in 1000AD – yet the Earth still warmed.

As the article points out, the mercury thermometer wasn’t invented until 1724, so producing a graph like the one above is very tricky and will always involve guesswork and unprovable assumptions. But when you have the following kind of person directing or helping to create such a graph then you really need to hold on to your hat:

Another British scientist – Chris Folland of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre – wrote the same day that using Briffa’s data might be awkward, because it suggested the past was too warm. This, he lamented, ‘dilutes the message rather significantly’.

What this one is saying is that it might be best to leave out some information because it goes against the point they are trying to make and so weakens their argument. It is shocking that anyone should remain in their position of employment with such shameful unethical behaviour occurring to them so readily.

What they ended up doing was taking out the data they didn’t like, and replaced them with some they did.

In another article in the same thread (to do with the Copenhagen summit late last year), the British Meteorological Office is also implicated. For those who don’t know, the Met Office is responsible for getting short, medium, and long-term weather forecasts wrong in the UK; and it seems it is now diversifying into the arena of political intrigue with a similar level of competence. It is claimed that they ‘manipulated’ climate change figures to make sure that any suggestions that global warming was not a fact were omitted or masked. This particular story was dated 17 December 2009 and is heavily tarred with the ‘hacked emails’ thread, but one from a few weeks previously highlighted the same issue.

You need to read all these stories in context, as they are all interlinked.

Global warming as a man-made phenomenon is far from proven.

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