Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

I had a good laugh with a pupil late this afternoon.

We were doing a lesson on roundabouts and as we were heading home we were in a 4omph zone with a 30mph approaching. As the 30mph signs came into view around a long bend, I said:

Look at what’s coming up and plan ahead.

Nothing happened. So I said:

Look at those road signs – what are you going to do?

Still nothing happened. I said:

Look at the change to the speed limit.

As we sailed through them at 40mph, still nothing happened. I brought us down to 30mph using the dual controls and got her to pull over. The conversation went something like this:

The speed limit dropped to 30mph. Why didn’t you react to the signs?

They weren’t very clear.

But they were big round things with ’30’ written on them, and they both had bright white lights shining on them. And I was pointing them out to you for the last 400 metres. How do you mean ‘not very clear’

We both had a good laugh about it.

When we arrived back at her home, though, it became clear what she meant. Her first language isn’t English and doesn’t use Arabic numerals or Western scripts. What she meant was she’d seen the sign but what was written on it didn’t make any sense to her at that particular moment.

It’s an interesting situation, because she insisted on taking her Theory Test in English and she passed easily. When I first started teaching her a while ago her English was extremely basic. She had a long lay-off in the middle to have twins, and her English has progressed no end since she started up again. She’s adamant she wants to take her test without an interpreter. Even when I tried to learn a few Chinese words to help her she said she’d rather learn how to drive using just English.

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The Sun is still on its 'must prove extra-terrestrial UFO hit wind turbine at all costs ' paddy at the moment. As I have posted previously, it is digging up old news and pretending it is new to try and keep the irons hot in the fire (i.e. persuade its readers that aliens definitely exist).

Well, it did it again today.

ALL MEN ARE FROM MARS.. AND WOMEN We could all be Martians, an expert on the planet claimed yesterday.

They mean 'an expert on the subject of Mars' and not someone who is actually on Mars – I'm sure they use poor grammar and punctuation to purposely mislead those who are easily misled.

The expert in question is Heather Couper, and the 'new' idea was first put forward in 1996 when bacteria-like structures were found in a meteorite. Indeed, the basic premise goes back to 1969 and the Murchison meteorite (sorry it's Wikipedia again), which fell in Australia.

Hardly the earth-shattering news The Sun is claiming – and if Ms Couper is trying to get publicity out of this, then shame on her.

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Another story in the media today: a Christian bus driver refused to take out a bus which had a paid-for atheist slogan on the side of it.

I initially read it in all three of The Sun, The Daily Mirror, and The Daily Mail. Richard Dawkins is only mentioned in the Mail version (I missed it initially), and then only briefly. For those who don’t know, Dawkins is a rabid atheist who is a hundred times more bigoted than those he seeks to lampoon with every word he utters. I know from long experience his sinister support of these kind of things and his name did come to mind while I was reading the stories and before I remembered his involvement with the group who had paid for the slogan.

And then I saw The Guardian’s article, linked to at the top of this post. Bingo: I knew he’d be poking his oar in somewhere.

In a nutshell, the British Humanist Association has paid £140,000 for this advert – you’d think they’d have something better to spend it on, wouldn’t you? – which says:

There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

The bus driver, Ron Heather – a devout Christian – refused to drive it when he saw it. He is, of course, entitled to feel like this.

The issue isn’t over whether Mr Heather is right or wrong in his belief in God or, indeed, if anyone is right or wrong in their belief of any God or gods. The really worrying thing is that as mandatory Christianity is removed from schools, agencies like the BHA can start to peddle their own sinister brand of ‘religion’ to corrupt people’s minds.

The BHA – and its vice president, Dawkins – is happy to keep asking ‘can you prove that God exists?’, but the simple response to this has to be ‘but can you prove God doesn’t exist?’ The answer in both cases is ‘no’.

I notice from their website that the BHA seeks:

inclusive schools where children with parents of all faiths and none learn to understand and respect each other, instead of being segregated in the growing number of faith and sectarian schools

You can’t help thinking that a better understanding of how the world works might be a more realistic aspiration. But I really like the closing paragraph in the Mirror’s story:

The £140,000 ad campaign is being run by the British Humanist Association to “give atheists a voice”.

Another £140,000 and hopefully it would give them a brain, as well.

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I’m getting a lot of hits by people searcing for ‘ Pharox 240v light bulb ‘ or similar as a result of that article I posted a few weeks ago. The Pharox appears to be quite difficult to get hold of over here but you can easily buy equivalent models – take a look here and here (and this one has a bulb identical to the Pharox).

Hope that helps.

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Still determined to prove that it was a UFO that hit that wind turbine last week, The Sun has now splashed the news across its front page that there is life on Mars.

ALIEN bugs are responsible for strong plumes of methane gas detected on Mars, it was claimed tonight.

The thing is, this story contains exactly the same information as this one and this one – separate stories from March and September 2004 . The gas was actually first detected in 2003 . Personally, I'm not really concerned about whether the methane is due to life or not. I'm more fascinated by these details:

  • the way The Sun chooses to omit or gloss over any information which might lead to the conclusion that the methane isn't produced by living organisms
  • the way The Sun deliberately pushes information that it likes down its readers' throats (reminds me of its pro-Thatcher bias in the 80s)
  • the way The Sun leaps on this in the wake of the damage caused to that wind turbine last week by what it says was 'definitely' a UFO from outer space.

Even Colin Pilger – the guy who made Britain a laughing stock by crashing a probe, which had no chance of landing safely, into Mars – quoted from the Telegraph's version of this story says:

It's not proof, but it makes it worth a much closer look.

(The Sun makes the same quote, but obviously attributes much less importance to it). Of course, to The Sun's staff and readers, it is a very small step from primitive methanogens to aliens driving spaceships into wind turbines in Lincolnshire. I was talking with a pupil last night and she says that everybody at work accepts completely that it was a UFO that hit the Lincolnshire turbine! Frightening, isn't it? They'd laugh at anyone who confessed to believing in God, and yet they're happy to believe in spirits, new age crap (aromatherapy, crystallography, and so on – I even have some who kiss photos of famous film stars before they take their tests), and UFOs with far less evidence to support them…!

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While I was looking at The Sun’s website for that UFO story I came across the news that Patrick McGoohan has died at the age of 80.

Patrick McGoohan

Patrick McGoohan

He was the star of the cult classic from the 60s: The Prisoner. But he also starred in Danger Man before that, and in films such as The Man In The Iron Mask , Escape From Alcatraz , and Silver Streak .

The Prisoner was something I remember vaguely from my childhood, and it is re-run on satellite every now and again. So I was saddened to hear of Patrick’s death after what is described as ‘a short illness’.

I was always surprised he didn’t appear in more films, although he did get award nominations for his appearances in those American TV pseudo-films (Columbo, etc.). I suppose time catches up with us all – but it’s always especially sad when an icon from the past dies.

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The Sun can't let this one go. In the printed version (again, I can't find it online) they had one of their reporters at the site of the wind turbine damaged by that UFO carrying out scientific experiments. The story is titled 'Farmageddon '. Apparently:

The shroud of secrecy thrown around the wind turbine wrecked by a UFO was lifted yesterday for The Sun's X-Files-style hunt for aliens.

Oh dear! But intrepid reporter Brian Flynn managed to keep his wits about him on the 'eerily silent' fen (well, it was cold, and the fens aren't exactly the best place to be after torrential rain) as:

…the faint hum of [his] metal detector broke the silence as [he] swept around the base of the 290ft-high turbine.

Now that's how to set the scene, isn't it? There's a well-posed photo of Mr Flynn pointing to the turbine lying beside him (it's about the size of a jet engine, so you could easily miss it if he didn't point). Oh, and wait. It needs to appeal to Sun readers here:

Decked out in boiler suit, hard hat and high-visibility vest, [he] scanned the site for clues of alien life forms.

Alien life forms? Where did that come from? Is someone suggesting an alien might have had the passenger door open, whacked the turbine by accident, then fallen out? A spacechav , maybe? Now the bit I liked most of all:

In the shadow of the looming structure lay the remains of the 65ft-long blade torn off in the encounter.

Hang on a minute! The multitude of stories we've had to put up with this last week all clearly implied that the blade was missing – presumably, being examined by alien scientists at the equivalent of The Sun HQ on Omicron Persei 8 , or wherever the mothership the blade was embedded in flew back to after it pranged the turbine.

Close examination suggested it had taken an almighty blow from a large solid object…

No, really? But unfortunately:

…our hour-long mission to the bitter cold uncovered no sign of alien life.

Damn. And I had money on it – what with all that technology (i.e. the metal detector). I promise you, this one is going to run and run. With or without Nick Pope .

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Another story in yesterday’s press (and covered further today) dealt with the female driving instructor, Denise Dawson , who had been mugged by a gang of violent thugs on an estate in Bristol. She’d positively identified the one who robbed her – and with whom she had struggled – at an identity parade.

The thug in question was Liam Perks (20). As it turns out, he is obviously some species of pond life:

The court heard that Perks, of Henbury, Bristol, had admitted a separate charge of conspiracy to burgle, for his involvement in a gang which stole motorcycles and prestige cars. He is awaiting sentence for that offence

You’d think this little weasel would be on a hiding to nothing, wouldn’t you? Not so. The Judge – possibly a victim of a blow to the head at some stage in an earlier part of his life – decided:

…Mrs Dawson’s good character and compelling evidence could sway the jury, even though she had had only a fleeting glimpse of her attacker.

He said: ‘Denise Dawson was a particularly impressive witness because she showed courage, clarity of thought and was undoubtedly honest. The jury may lend more weight to her evidence than the facts allow. You cannot be sure she got it right.’

The judge said that her evidence was not enough for a conviction.

You couldn’t make it up, could you? A positive ID of a known thug ‘isn’t enough for a conviction ‘.

This so-called ‘judge’ (Jamie Tabor ) also freed a woman who tried to poison her husband with rat poison because he (her husband) was cheating on her. Mr Tabor seems to have an unfortunate habit of imagining up complicated backgrounds to relatively simple cases. You can’t help wondering at what point he would actually side with the victim and against the accused…

I mean, if someone is happy to try and poison a family member, surely they have committed a crime which puts other people at risk no matter how out-of-character it was, how sorry they were, or how disturbed they may have been? Same as someone who kills, mugs, rapes, and so on.

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The Mac is 25 on 24 January. This is that video everyone raved about when it was shown during the 1984 Superbowl :

You can read more here, but the one quotation I really like is from John C Dvorak in the San Francisco Examiner:

The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter). Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. It, unfortunately, leaves the “why** out of the equation **” as in “why would I want this?** The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a **˜mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I dont want one of these new fangled devices.

I like it when people say things which could so easily blow up in their faces.

Most embarrassing of all has to be how anyone thought the Mac would ever beat the PC.

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This in an interesting story from today’s press – well, those which have space after they’ve covered that bloody UFO fiasco.

I didn’t realise BSM got all its cars free of charge from Vauxhall . That’s one heck of a deal they have going there. Or it was. Looks like General Motors has decided it can’t afford this anymore and it wants BSM to pay.

Vauxhall is now in talks with the driving school to get it to pay for the fleet. The change in policy is expected to cost BSM several million pounds.

The credit crunch is hitting even the biggest players, it seems.

I know that people on school franchises pay a lot of money, so I wonder if this will affect how much BSM drivers pay? That’s one of the advantages of being completely independent: you don’t pay anywhere near as much for your car… and things like this don’t affect you either. At least that’s one good thing for me with everything that’s going on at the moment.

EDIT 18 Feb 2009: I noticed someone searched for ‘has BSM recently been sold’ and only came to this page! For goodness sake, look for more recent posts – for example, the one which gives itself away really: BSM Sold To German Buyer !

*** Click Here! BSM and FIAT sign deal (23/07/2009)***

EDIT 13/10/2010: But BSM is switching back to Corsas after only one year.

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