Car News: Jaguar’s Hero

A weekly look at all that sucks in the auto industry, and some good bits

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Ian Callum – the Scot who made Jaguar what it is today – behind him the I-Pace SUV

Dumfries born Ian Callum CBE FRSE steps down from his 20 year post as Jaguar Cars chief designer. He was trained by the industrial design department of Glasgow’s School of Art. He took over Jaguar’s head of design when the company was on the way up earlier this century, taken over from Ford by India’s conglomerate TATA. He leaves when it’s in a precarious position faced by falling sales, the move to electric cars, and Brexit. 

The renowned designer has been instrumental in redeveloping the brand since joining the company, redefining its style language and contributing to the company’s global success. But you could argue the designs he’s seen into production are a mixed bag.

His saloons were welcomed into the modern age for their excellent dynamic performance, great handling and restrained interiors, particularly now the team had junking the gentleman’s smoking club of thick leather upholstered seats, burr walnut everything and quadruple chrome ashtrays. The phrase ‘cars for retired old buffers’ finally lost its punch attached to Callum’s XE, XF and XJ. But exterior-wise it was a different matter. None were exciting to look at. They looked bulky and bloated.

Though prime minister and cabinet were seen entering a leaving the new saloons, (free to VIPs) the cars looked anonymous, some comparing them to Japanese boring boxes. Famous for their grace, space and pace, Jaguars lost their traditional elegance entirely. A rise in sales was not sustained. To my mind, the lack of graceful lines is an opportunity lost, not helped by the adoption of the blandest grille from Jaguar ‘s heritage.

What Callum was good at doing was producing wonderful concepts. Alas, few got near production. Eventually the trend became a standing joke in the industry. Whether this failing was a financial decision, or loss of boldness, I do not know. You can’t keep wowing the public with great designs and ideas but never fulfilling the promise.

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The one that got away – an MX5-sized concept for a roadster, praised by not produced

One of the finest examples was Keith Helfet’s 2000 redesign of an E-Type in the format of a Mazda MX5, back then named the F-Type concept. Jaguar – then owned by Ford – failed to capitalise on over 50,000 deposits received by dealers to make the car, spectacularly losing the chance to attract a youthful market with an exceptionally beautiful, compact inspirational roadster, a significant loss to company and motorists. Helfet left the company soon afterwards.

His team’s effort at creating a modern GT got a much better reception than his saloons. Cheaper than other grand touring sports cars, the muscular F-Type faltered on decent luggage space despite its tailgate door, and has been a slow seller ever since. In fact, as he leaves, Jaguar is revamping the GT line. Aficionados can expect an electric version.

Ironically, it is in the field of SUVs – a category least associated with sports cars – that Callum’s influence has had the greatest impact. All Jaguar’s SUVs have been strong sellers, and the innovative electric I-Pace version has won almost every motoring prize in the automotive calendar including World Car of the Year 2019.

When Callum joined Jaguar Land Rover in 1999, the company was in very different place. Under Ford ownership, Jaguar had been struggling with defining a contemporary identity as had its sister brand Land Rover. The new parent company Tata Motors though provided a great deal of creative freedom. And so, together with Land Rover’s Gerry McGovern, Callum set about to completely reshape the product family. Today, JLR cars strongly compete against products from the big German premium three – Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Callum formed a strong design studio with a diverse creative team.

“I came into this role with a mission to take Jaguar design back to where it deserved to be. Given the strength of both our products and the design team I feel now is the time to move on – both personally and professionally – and explore other design projects.”

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Jaguar engineering can recreate old models, but it’s a millionaire’s club only

Callum spent the first 12 years of his career at Ford design studios, and then chief designer of TWR Design responsible for the Aston Martin DB7, Vanquish and DB9. In 2005, he was awarded the Royal Designer for Industry from the Royal Society of Arts. In 2014 he received the Minerva Medal, the highest accolade bestowed by the Chartered Society of Designers, awarded for a lifetime’s achievement in design. In 2016 he was invited to deliver the MacMillan Memorial Lecture to the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland. He chose the subject “Car Design in the 21st Century“.

He will continue to work with Jaguar as a design consultant, whilst Julian Thomson, the current creative design director, takes over his role from 1 July. From his days attending Morrison’s Academy in Crieff and sending a sketch idea to Jaguar for a job, Callum leaves with all his dreams written into the company’s history books. I wish him well. 

GROUSEY’S FOOTWELL FINDS

Fiat Chrysler-Renault cooperation collapses

In one of those hearty lunch moments when an idea seems good, it takes only the cold light of next morning to realise it’s actually crap. Fiat Chrysler and Renault’s expected announcement of a design and parts merger took less than a week to fall apart. Though both are European, the French and Italian aesthetic don’t quite match. In my experience the only thing the two have in common is a preponderance to produce cars with iffy electrics. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has a highly profitable North American trucks and Jeep brand, but it has been losing money in Europe, where it also struggles to keep pace with looming curbs on carbon dioxide emissions. Renault is an electric-car pioneer with relatively fuel-efficient engine technologies and a strong presence in emerging markets, but no US business. A joint venture seemed logical, but Renault would have been propping up Fiat for a long time before it saw a return on its investment.

Super-bright car headlights may help you see the road, but are they also blinding oncoming drivers? According to the RAC, fully 91 percent of us think some car lighting is too bright. Light technology has evolved hugely over the past 20 to 30 years, and it’s fair to say the regulations have struggled to keep up. It’s well established that light from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is generally more crisp and intense. The way they switch on is rapid and dramatic, given they don’t use filaments. Likewise, the cut-off is sharp and precise. So why might a regulated and homologated LED, or indeed a xenon light unit, dazzle us on the road? While lights conform to present standards, more efficient LED technology may require a regulatory rethink. Indeed, 84 percent think the government should look at legislation. Given the UN Economic Commission for Europe is looking into how lighting regulations need to change, expect an update soon. Either way, drivers, please check your lights, if off line, get them adjusted!

Arrogant Colonials

They’re still at it! Both amusing and annoying to hear so many contenders for Tory glory state with absolute certainty that car makers will not abandon Britain – they mean England – because we buy so many foreign cars, and then repeating the lie as Ford announces closures, Honda, Jaguar-Land Rover, and so on, and so forth. And no car manufacturer is announcing expansion in the UK or moving production to the UK. When so abysmally wrong in predictions, who in their right mind thinks any of the Tory Ten will make a great prime minister?

 

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Posted in Transportation | 2 Comments

Patrick Matthew – the Natural

An occasional series on eminent Scots unjustly ignored or forgotten

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Patrick Matthew, farmer, fruit grower, horticulturist and original thinker

From the minute we were entranced by a bug on a rug, or wondered why blackbirds are black and gulls are white and live by the sea, we were told an old bearded man took a long journey on a sailing ship called the ‘Beagle’, and explain it all in his Origin of the Species – Charles Darwin. What a pity he was too slow to acknowledge his theory came from a Scottish farmer, Patrick Matthew. Alfred Russel Wallace was no better at telling the truth. It was not Darwin or Wallace who presented an original theory – it was Matthew.

A can of wriggling worms

Let me deal with Wallace here and now. Wallace claimed he had no prior knowledge of Matthew’s discovery. In recent times, investigations prove Wallace did have sight of Mathew’s work. Readers should acquaint themselves with the full story of this outrageous plagiarism in the research of Dr Mike Sutton, ‘Nullius in Verba’, an expose of Darwin and Wallace’s secret, a spotlight on the shameless role of the Royal Society.

The test is not who thought of natural selection first, but who published it first and described it accurately. There’s no getting away from it, that honour belongs to Matthew.

Wallace had lots of time to study Matthew’s papers before publishing his in 1855, Matthew’s theories published over twenty years earlier, in 1831. It’s quite a coincidence both Wallace and Darwin called their ideas ‘Natural Selection’, a term used by Matthew.

Who was Patrick Matthew?

The more one reads of Matthew, the more one likes him. “Every Scottishman has a pedigree” said Sir Walter Scott, and he was right. Matthew was born in 1790, the second son of a line of distinguished gentlemen farmers. They farmed in the Carse of Gowrie from the sixteenth century, a fertile area between Perth and Dundee.

He was educated at Perth Academy. His name next appears in Edinburgh University Library Matriculation Index in 1804-05 attending the classes of Professor Gregory who held the chair of Medicine. He also attended classes in chemistry. His studies were interrupted by the death of his father, and he returned to help his mother develop the vast orchards they held at Gourdiehill. In many regards, Matthew, like Robert Burns, was a nationalist.

Before he published his now renowned book on tree culture, he appears to have travelled extensively in Europe making friends among fruit and wine growers that he met. It was his friendship with a German orchard farmer that saw his revolutionary work laid before Darwin lest Darwin took all the credit.

Patrick Matthew was a Chartist, a believer in the reform of Westminster. He canvassed against the abolition of monopolies, repeal of the Corn Laws, against hereditary titles and wealth, and in favour of free trade. He wrote letters to the Dundee Advertiser on botany and natural selection. There is recorded evidence he tried to raise the subject of evolutionary selection at a meeting of the British Society for the Advancement of Science (the villain is always ‘British’), but his proposal for the day’s agenda was suppressed by the visiting English chairman W. Sharpley.

His two sons Charles and James emigrated to New Zealand and set up the first commercial fruit orchards there, the seeds from Gourdiehill. Young trees were also sent in barrels. Like their father to them, they passed on their enthusiasm for hybridising.

A Perthshire farming friend wrote of Matthew: “The Laird of Gourdiehill was somewhat aloof, outspoken when the occasion demanded, but was a kindly, studious, and well-read man who believed in neither God nor the Devil!”

Matthew died in 1874, said to be buried in Errol cemetery. I doubt Darwin heard of his passing, such is the penalty of the pioneer that I know so well from my own work in Scotland. What is fairly certain is, both Darwin and Wallace read his work and lifted it piecemeal as the core of their theories, each assuming a Scottish author of an obscure book would never be cited as the originator of the origin of the species.

How, when, where?

In the autumn of 1831, shortly after Darwin sailed to the Galapagos Islands in the Beagle, Matthew published his book in Edinburgh and London that laid out his theory of natural selection under the title, Naval Timber and Arboriculture.

To this rather orthodox but erudite piece of tree arboriculture there is included an extraordinary appendix. Matthew writes of his theories on ‘the origins of species and varieties’ summed up the origin of the species in a few sharp sentences. Matthews had good cause later to remind Darwin of its existence when it became clear to him that Darwin must have read his work but had not acknowledged it anywhere.

Though it took coaxing, Darwin eventually acknowledged Matthew’s work existed before his. He waited until the second edition of his book, but studiously omitted to offer Matthew the fame of discovering the connection between nature and the survival of the fittest and the most adaptive. “I apologise to Mr Matthews for my entire ignorance of his publication”. Darwin’s weak excuse was that Matthew had lost meaning by scattering his theory among chapters – a lie. The Royal Society has yet to correct the historical record.

Matthew’s work was read by the few, Darwin’s by the many, boosted by subsequent severe scientific controversy, receiving the endorsement of British scientific establishment only after a raging battle over God versus Nature. Biologist and anthropologist, Thomas Henry Huxley famously defended Darwin’s ideas in open debate, bulldog fashion. Matthew found no need to travel out of his country to discover natural selection, nor a hero to defend him. He saw and studied it all around him in Scotland.

Darwin, unlike Matthew, had taken care to publish his work with quasi-religious hypocrisy attached to divert denunciation from the Church of his day. (The ruse did not work.) In this he was influenced by another Scot of his day, Robert Chambers. Chambers earlier work suggested The Creator laid out the animal and plant kingdoms like a carpet, that then allowed higher forms of life to evolve from lower forms. It was if The Almighty was too lazy to do it all himself, scattering a pile of bones on the ground like a voodoo man to see how they foretold the future of Earth.

Matthew felt no need to appease the Church, and rejected Chamber’s ideas. He practised natural selection in fruit tree growing, saw the regeneration of trees before his very eyes as it happened, tasted it in better apples and pears. The Hand of God had nothing to do with the varieties he paired.

‘Naval Timber and Arboriculture’

Mathew’s book Naval Timber and Arboriculture deals to an extent with rural economy, and in an age when tree growing was of paramount interest to British shipbuilders, the British government perpetually at war with its European seafaring neighbours. 

The Appendix is divided into six parts:

The First Note deals with sea power and territorial acquisition. Matthew saw and deplored how the British state used the law of the strongest in its imperialistic quest to acquire and ravage foreign territories. The Second Note outlines the laws of Nature, the law that ‘sustains the lion in its strength, the hare in its swiftness, and the fox in its wiles.’ Adapt or die. Matthew related that maxim radically to politicians, to ‘selection anew’, if stock is to improve. The Third Note, like the second, is way ahead of its time. It deals with immigration and how it can invigorate a species. The Fourth Note deals with extreme opposites, good and evil, war and peace and imperialism. The Fifth Note deals with the register of shipping tonnage on the principles of ship construction.

The Sixth Note is a geological discussion on the features of the Firth of Tay. From his observations he concludes, rightly, that Holland was joined to Scotland at one time, later raising the level of the sea and shaping our coastline. His liberated mind, free of religious dogma, averred there was sufficient evidence around to explain geological differences and features. In this section Matthew introduces the dynamics of geology to explain the evolution of life on earth.

“The destructive liquid currents, before which the hardest mountains have been swept and comminuted into gravel, sand and mud, which intervened and divided these epochs, probably extending over the whole surface of the globe, and destroying nearly all living things, must have reduced existence so much that an unoccupied field would be formed for a new diverging ramification of life, which, from the connecting sexual system of vegetables, and the natural instincts of animals to herd and combine with their own kind, would fall into specific groups, these remnants, in the course of time, moulding and accommodating, their being anew to the change of circumstances, and to every possible means of subsistence, and the millions of ages of regularity which appear to have followed between the epochs, probably after this accommodation was completed, affording fossil deposits of regular specific character.”

Few scientists anywhere in the world, let alone Europe, Darwin included, were as clear, precise, or as radical as Matthew’s assessment of the history of the earth. It would be astonishing that he faded so quickly into obscurity were it not for the negative influence of the English scientific community, those with the most status dismissing his ideas as ‘merely a lucky summary’, yet he was regarded in highest respect by his Scottish and English arboriculture peers.

Plant growers in the eighteenth century were well aware of segregation and hybrid vigour, and Matthew realised it was present in all living things. It took Darwin twenty years of collecting data from his travels and then in the form of letters sent from others to put all that together and come up with a theory.

The unnatural process of selection

Though Darwin admitted Matthew had understood natural selection years before him, Wallace was a lot less honourable. In his Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection (1870), Wallace is disparaging about Matthew’s discovery. “They certainly propound the theories of natural selection but Matthew made no further use of the principle, and so failed to see its wide and immensely important applications.” That’s some inflated ego at work, or perhaps the wrath of a deflated ego.

Wallace could not point to any earlier mention of natural selection than Matthews. The first mention of the book arrived in the Gardener’s Magazine of 1835 when it reviewed Matthew’s book. For him to brush aside Matthew’s discovery as if skin flakes is damn dishonest. To secure respect and immortality, Wallace made sure his name would always be attached to the coattails of Darwin.

The problem Matthew caused for himself was espousing his political views in the midst of his natural selection theory, and that included his applause for the French revolution. The British establishment did not like that one bit. In fact, Matthew took it for granted everybody understood natural selection existed, but liberté, égalité, fraternité were far more important to attain than any endorsement of his work by the Royal Society. Consequently, he lost interest in the former and pursued democracy by the latter.

For my part, a Scot who dislikes his country robbed of due credit for originating anything, learning fast from the fabrications of the British state that keep Scotland servile, I add that we should beware of those who turn fallacious statements into unshakeable truths by dint of their perceived status, repetition, and the passage of time.

‘Discoverer’ of the evolution of natural selection must be removed from Darwin’s claim.

 

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NOTES:

1: This essay is a work in progress.

2: Nullius in Verba – is the motto of the Royal Society.

3: Sources: (a) E. Blyth – an attempt to classify the varieties of animals; (b) R. Chambers – The Vestigies of the Natural History of Creation; (c) F. Darwin – Letters of Charles Darwin Vol 3; (d) J. Gloag – Loudon’s England; (e) T.H. Huxley – Vestiges of the Natural History of Selection; (f) P. Matthew – Naval Timber and Arboriculture; (g) W.J. Dempster – Matthew and Natural Selection; (h) Dr M. Sutton – Nullius in Verba; (i) A.R. Wallace – Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection.

4: More first rate analysis here:

5: And here: 

6: The history of cartographer and explorer Dr John Rae is not dissimilar to the treatment of Patrick Matthew: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-1pt

Posted in Great Scots, Scottish Independence Referendum, Scottish Politics | 23 Comments

Collaborators

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Truly lovely people: four paid handsomely to block Scotland’s democratic progress 

There is a lot of clearing up to be done when a nation throws off its colonial masters, banishing traces of the old order from indigenous institutions, reopening old mysteries, firing the inept. One among many tasks is to organise ways of purging individual and national guilt without jailing thousands of people. The therapeutic benefits are the same as those we are expected to derive now, told Scotland must atone for its past sins exploiting the slave trade. 

‘Collaborator’ need not be a dirty word

There are good reasons for mounting truth sessions: they reintroduce betrayers and flaky placemen into society ensuring the worst are neutralised from repeating their behaviour in a liberated Scotland, and it stops the unscrupulous blackmailing them.

Nelson Mandela was not the first to advocate public confessionals as a means of allowing those who had committed atrocities, or lesser crimes such as theft from the public purse, to enunciate their mistakes and become free men and women again. They were called ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ groups. Samora Machel of Mozambique was one of the first African leaders to utilise this system, once he had overthrown his country’s Portuguese invaders, a man greatly admired by Mandela.

Collaborators

Who are to be considered collaborators? –  those who live in Scotland or own property or land in Scotland and did all they could to keep Scotland a colonial territory. I imagine none consider themselves as anything other than loyal British patriots.

The smartest upped and died some time ago, such as the Labour MP George Cunningham – Labour, the party of the people – who turned democracy on its head by introducing his amendment demanding a minimum of 40% of the populace vote for Scottish devolution, a tally that included the dead. For perverting the course of democracy, he remained unrepentant until the moment of his final breath in 2018.

There are those walking among us who are morally obliged to explain why they betrayed the democratic principle. If they wish to take their place in society with dignity, an explanation of their behaviour is the least they owe us.

What do you mean, do you really, really mean?

Before baleful unionists and over-sensitive Scottish Nationalists throw their hands up in horror at what they think I mean, (they will do it no matter what I write) I shall explain exactly what I mean.

I do not mean we revert to the reprisals we saw all over Europe when the Nazis were defeated and collaborators were dragged into the street by ugly mobs, had their hair shorn from their heads, their faces spat upon, their bodies kicked and beaten, their clothes torn off their backs, and men urinate on their naked bodies.

Nor am I talking about the barbarity of tarring and feathering that was the practice in English colonies in early modern times and in America too, including this century.

What I mean is this: I would like to see a humanitarian system put in place where people are asked to step forward and confess what they did was disreputable, repugnant, venal, unlawful – whatever they and we feel to be the case – knowing that it caused people hardship, loss of earnings, livelihoods, loss of civil rights, or even death.

The British state holds not dissimilar confessional sessions but they do not include forgiveness. Individuals are brought before a government committee and interrogated by our elected representatives, a place where bellicose bullies explain their behaviour, a recent example Sir Philip Green, a man accused of looting his own empire.

In the system I propose there is no threat of punishment, other than those named who avoid telling the truth are not excused. I propose a system of forgiveness.

How do we forgive?

Foregiveness; there are two ways to accomplish this task. Both require a degree of voluntary involvement. If that is not forthcoming we can always resort to naming names.

The first way is for the elected administration to call bigwigs to the table to admit their wrong doings, press and television cameras present to record their deliverance. The second is for local councils to do the same for miscreants in their area. Better still, sessions can be held in workplaces, bosses called to account.

If we are genuinely agitating to create a better society, is not weeding out the betrayers and collaborators to give them a chance to right wrongs a good beginning? The people I refer to are Scots plus a few English settlers.

No reprisals, no revenge

Such confessionals should have a time limit on them to avoid running over into reprisal, perhaps one year at the most, to allow those with a conscience not bereft of all integrity, enough time to gather their courage and come clean.

Without realising it, the SNP touched upon the idea when Jim Sillars warned the bullies of big business to stop leaning on their workers, demanding their staff vote against their constitutional rights. (An action illegal is some countries.) He was then deputy leader of the SNP. With days to go before the 2014 vote, voters apparently neck and neck, the unionist press true to form, called Sillars’ statement an “act of revenge”.

What was his crime? Sillars cautioned company CEOs with a “day of reckoning”, a pretty mild reproach considering some company bosses had acted like Armani suited dictators.

Company bosses threatening staff with redundancy unless they did as they were told in the polling booth – blackmail is an unlawful act. They were not condemned by the press. Sillars singled out the CEO of British Petroleum. He felt an independent Scotland might be moved to nationalise BP if the company acted like a state within a state.

Truly lovely people

Readers who feel we live in a highly civilised society where public confessionals are not necessary are kidding themselves. The United Kingdom is one of the most corrupt nations on the planet. Scotland is infected by association.

Collaborators allow tax evasion as a legal activity; approve shonky companies dumping workers on the dole for boss and investor profit; drawing down of pension funds, signed PPI deals putting Scotland in hock for decades, placing police as moles into protest groups, employing private companies to remove welfare rights from the poor, the sick and the vulnerable, turn a blind eye to religous groups molesting children, allow the purchase of democracy, the poor imprisoned, the rich go free. 

What have collaborators to do?

I’d like to see people talk about their past, talk frankly about what they have done, and to give details, details recorded for the history books. If they come clean, they should be accepted back into society as good human beings, nothing more said about past deeds.

I want to see sessions deal with people in a humanitarian way, allowing them to speak openly and honestly, and be pardoned. Those invited to take part who exhibit arrogance or defiance, the facts staring them in the face, should not expect forgiveness.

If they leave having denied culpability, shouted down questioners, those around them can judge the depth of their principles and know what their real standing should be in a new Scotland. Democracy demands liars and cheats are met with relentless questioning.

Spoiled for choice

Who would I like to see clear their conscience? (Sexually and mentally abusive priests and archbishops deserve prison sentences.) Here are a few at national level.

Sir Ian Wood: Multi-millionaire, wealth made from North Sea Oil. What was he hoping to achieve telling the nation our oil reserves were running out when he knew it untrue?

Gavin McCrone: McCrone argues he did nothing to suppress his official Report for thirty years that explained how the oil bonanza would make Scotland a wealthy nation and give a huge boost to the nationalist movement. He avers he ‘only handed it to senior colleagues’. Why did he not alert the electorate?

JK Rowling: the world renowned children’s author uses her vast wealth and influence to block the civil and constitutional rights of the nation that adopted her.

Sir Nicholas MacPherson: Former permanent secretary to the UK Treasury; he is supposed to remain impartial, but he chose to enter the public fray over independence by publishing his advice to the cabinet stating independence would not be good for ‘the markets’. He also forgot to mention his family’s land investments in Wester Ross.

Brain Souter: His homophobia; selling Dennis when he had no need of greater wealth.

Kate Watson: the Scottish Labour candidate, former Better Together boss, to explain her links to the 77th Brigade, a “military propaganda unit” within the British Army, a branch now operating in Scotland. All political candidates seeking to represent the public should be transparent about their affiliations and commitments.

Gordon Brown: Hard to know where to start: for financing the illegal Iraq war; never visited the Scottish parliament; bag man to crooked banks; continues to lie about Scotland as a super-federal state; the pitiful ‘Vow’, and so on, ad nauseam.

Blair McDougall: for a litany of lies and fabrication sustained even in the face of glaring facts to the contrary, uttered without embarrassment prior to the 2014 Referendum.

Muriel Gray: as chairperson of the Glasgow School of Art board of directors, why did she endorse the whitewash of a Report on the first fire, and take no moral responsibility for the fire as guardian of the institution, nor for the second fire?

Brian Spanner: not his real name, an odious snivelling Internet creep protected by the British press; his associations with the Orange Order, who finances him; why he felt able to be close to JK Rowling.

Jill Stephenson: better known as ‘History Woman’; a neurotic harpy who berates the SNP at every turn with blatant lies and Nazi slurs; called a female SNP MP a ‘slut’, yet continues to describe herself as an academic. She owes Edinburgh University an apology.

Ian Lang: Baron Lang of Monkton; Tory former Secretary of State, for the dog’s breakfast that is GERs, designed to confuse political opponents but specifically, “the SNP” – his words – from knowing the real economy of Scotland.

David Mundell: ‘Fluffy’ Mundell, another secretary of state working on behalf of the British state against Scotland’s interests, for mendacity, blocking Scotland’s progress, doing more turns than a whirling Dervish.

In conclusion

There are lots of others I could add to that list, as readers could too, journalists moonlighting for espionage reasons, ‘patriotic’ civil servants, BBC bosses, but I concede those who feel we live in the best of all possible worlds will think my proposal outrageous. However, the betrayers I draw attention to approved the killing of innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria, endorsed rendition flights taking suspects to be tortured outside the USA, rubber stamped the sale of weapons to countries they knew would be used to murder civilians, allegedly in our name to ‘protect’ us.

Lest smear mongers get an erection from concocting some lie to make this thesis on imperialism laid bare sound sinister, I repeat the essentials of my case…..

Imperfections pardoned

Nobody’s perfect, everybody makes mistakes, but some who hold power and influence make serious errors of judgement to the brutal detriment of others and undermine the common good, errors that have repercussions for years to come.

If we believe we want independence to see the beginning of a better society, among all the other necessities we shall have to attend to, one of the most important is to help cleanse the walking wounded of their gangrene.

What was good enough for Nelson Mandela is damn well good enough for Scotland.

 

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Posted in Scottish Independence Referendum, Scottish Politics | 18 Comments

Arctic – a review

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Mads Mikkelsen, so low key you are liable to forget his name

Arctic received a 10-minute standing ovation at its premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, which is to say, actor Mads Mikkelsen won the ovation, the film’s first-time writer-director Joe Penna relying entirely on his outstanding acting skills. Moreover, Mikkelsen has so few words to speak, a handful in the film’s coda, it offers the director the chance to exploit his genius for communicating inner thoughts to the full.

One other actor features in the tale, Maria Thelma Smaradottir, but she is unconscious, badly wounded from a helicopter crash, and wrapped in a sleeping bag strapped to a sledge (sled) most of the time. She is our hero’s sole motivation for taking his mind off his own survival to save another, one of the best qualities of human nature.

Copenhagen born Mikkelsen began his career as a dancer and matured into one Denmark’s most respected film and television actors. I try not to miss a film he stars in because he chooses projects with great care, the intelligent and well written. To James Bond fans he’s forever the enigmatic villain whose eyes watered tears of blood in the remake of Casino Royal (2006), but as well as a knighthood from the Queen of Denmark the list of his main role films is of a higher quality: he has played alongside Gérard Depardieu in I Am Dina (2002), in the Spanish comedy Torremolinos 73 (2003), and the infant teacher wrongly accused of sexual abuse in The Hunt (2012).

“I take my work enormously seriously. When I do something it has to feel right. Everything has to be right. I’m not ambitious about my career, but I am ambitious with each job. I can be fairly annoying to work with. No compromises. Let’s put it this way: compromises are from hell. I ask a million questions, and I insist on having answers. I think that is what we have to do. I have to know what the director wants. Some are very much in their head, and I need to force it out of them. I just can’t play around for eight hours and see if something happens.

On the other hand, you can only be famous to a certain degree in Denmark. And if you’ve been in a popular TV show, you’re already famous for life. We say our ceiling is very low, meaning that you’re not supposed to stick out in any way. Anyone who tries to “make it”, we take them right down.”

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Starts with a plane and then a helicopter crash, and things just get worse

Arctic is not a film to see on a cold winter’s day. In my case the Arctic was the subject of my wife’s recent Edinburgh Festival art exhibition, and with a visit planned to Iceland, my curiosity was peaked to see how the moving image compares with the painted image.

It begins in an icy, bleak snowstorm, temperature minus zero, and it’s all downhill into a crevasse after that, freezing man against the cruel elements.

Man against nature adventure films are not a new literary concept. We can go as far back to Noah in the Bible, and move on to Earnest Hemingway’s novel The Old Man and the Sea, more recently The Edge (1997), starring Anthony Hopkins, poor Blake Lively marooned on a craggy rock 100 yards from the shore surrounded by a menacing killer shark in The Shallows (2016), and finally Robert Redford all at sea in All is Lost (2013). In each case the central character is faced by an existential crisis with only their own will power and physical stamina to fall back on in their struggle for survival.

For all its central cliché, Arctic is a compelling film to watch because Mikkelsen playing air pilot Overgard makes every minute impossible to second-guess. He copies Inuit habits – fishing through ice holes, adding tinkling metal on a string to warn him when a fish bites, keeping his catch hidden, gutting fish and eating it raw, sheltering in the remains of his plane, staring at his frost-bitten toes without alarm, climbing the same hill daily to wind up the SOS signal, and waiting patiently for a passing plane to spot him.

The screenplay tells us nothing about his background. We are left to create our own based on what we see and how Overgard goes about his daily routine. Obviously he is physically and mentally tough, able to withstand loneliness and desolation for long periods between sleep, used to an Arctic topography, dressed for the worst weather and well prepared for accident, flares and all.

When a rescuing helicoper crashes, (one more crash and we have an Arctic Triangle!) he is resourceful enough to cannibalise its contents to aid his survival, ropes, sledge, ice pick, cooking stove, propane, and frying pan. Finding the co-pilot still strapped into her seat, barely alive and near death, Overgard decides to leave the comparative safety of his downed plane and his camp’s safe shelter, to drag the woman on a makeshift sledge and seek help miles to the south of his downed plane.

The rest of the film is centred on the various hurdles he encounters mixed with his patient’s degrading health. When he tries to pull her up an escarpent to the top in a mountainous terrain in order to reach an easy journey in a valley below, a clear path to his final destination, the effort beats him not once but three times. With each energy sapping upward haul on his slippery ropes we are pulling with him. Finally, having no choice, he is forced to double back and take the long route. His pain is palpable.

On the long journey he is confronted by a hungry polar bear, an action we knew would take place and we know Overgard will somehow overcome the battle. For all that, the narrative is packed with suspense and tension. We watch Overgard’s mounting bad luck and increasing misfortune pile one on top of the other and we cheer him on.

It would be easier to count the words spoken in this survival thriller than the locationsMuch more is implied than spoken, with Brazilian Penna allowing the fierce landscape and Mikkelsen’s expressive facial reactions to carry the lean but eventful narrative.

It doesn’t teach us much. Arctic reminds us of the human spirit faced by extreme adversity. He’s a resourceful guy – “It’s okay,” he keeps telling himself, “It’s okay”.

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Star and director agree on a camera angle – everything shot in Iceland for the Arctic tundra

I have one more quibble beyond that of formula. I can forgive the rescue helicopter not being same as the one we see upside down in the snow, but Penna does not make enough of the landscape, filming in Iceland.

Where is the wonderment of trillions of stars in the night sky? Where are the northern lights to fill our hero’s soul with hope, the aurora borealis? Where is the majesty of mountains, the vast ice floes, the pink dawn etching the outline of a snow-laden ridge? Visually, what we get is all too bland, too close to days lost in the Cairngorms.

Had Arctic been a little more ambitious, four stars. Mikkelsen is the sole reason to see the film. His performance alone gets it three stars. For that, he can have the last word.

“My legacy? Hopefully my family [wife and two daughters] is going to remember me as somebody who loved them tremendously. If we’re talking about audiences, I would love to be remembered as the person who had a certain variety of work behind them and did his best.”

  • Star Rating: Three stars
  • Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smaradottir
  • Director: Joe Penna
  • Writer: Joe Penna and Ryan Morrison
  • Cinematographer: Tómas Örn Tómasson
  • Composer: Joseph Trapanese
  • Duration: 1 hour 38 min
  • RATING CRITERA
  • 5 plus: potential classic, innovative. 5: outstanding. 4: excellent. 3.5: excellent but flawed. 3: very good if formulaic. 2: straight to DVD. 1: crap; why did they bother?
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Car News: Driving Angry

A weekly look at what sucks in the world of automobiles, plus some good stuff

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Your passenger giving you wrong instructions is enough to trigger anger

Driving in a temper is not a good thing to do. I apologise for stating the bloody obvious. That confrontation with another driver, that argument with your partner and the silence all the way home is a potential killer. The head throbs, reason goes awry, emotion is wasted. Mind elsewhere and you make a serious error of judgement. Your mind should be on the driving, the road ahead, not on who it is you wish to strangle.

The other day I found myself shouting at a driver in front for driving erratically. Too slow off the mark when the line of traffic moved off, running backwards when taking off the handbrake, drifting dreamily across lanes and switching back again. It made predicting her behaviour very unpredictable.

A while back my wife was driving home from Glasgow late on a dark evening. A small white van hogged the outside lane. (There is no such thing as the ‘fast lane’. We assume the overtaking lane means exactly that and that alone.) Stopping her from overtaking went on for a number of miles, no other vehicles around. Eventually my wife decided to pull into the inside lane and let the van driver do as he pleased. Instead he swung over in front of her, so she moved back into the outside lane.

This was repeated twice more. As she attempted to drive past him for the fourth time in the outside lane – she had the faster vehicle – a hammer shattered her windscreen. She careened over to the hard shoulder and screeched to a halt in shock. The van sped on, but not before she gave his registration number to the police. The police interviewed him at his house, but there being no witnesses to the incident, left him with a caution.

What was the driver thinking, the misogynist son-of-a-bitch? This was a classic example of road rage, short of murder.

We all curse at other drivers, cocooned in our wee personal bubble, the equivalent of a dog at the garden gate barking at passing dogs, saying, this space is mine. I have seen men getting out of their cars to have a punch-up at the lights. Tollcross it was, in Edinburgh, a place where once there stood a magnificent, ornate Victorian bandstand removed to rot in a field and replaced by an ugly streetscape of lights and signs and kerb islands. In that instance I don’t recall what profanity one screamed at the other, I remember a young police officer – in the days when they patrolled our streets by foot – appearing from nowhere shouting, “Gentlemen, gentleman! Please be civil!” Educated statesman was that young policeman.

In Los Angeles you allow any pedestrian crossing the road the freedom and right to complete their journey, no matter the circumstance, no matter if not using a proper pedestrian crossing. Back in Edinburgh from an LA business trip, I stopped to allow a little old lady to cross the road. Three cars back in the line, the driver’s fury at my kindness turned homicidal. He pulled out of the line to overtake across the junction at rubber ripping speed, almost wiping out said old biddy in the process.

That reminds me of one other incident, this time in Los Angeles, but one I see repeated in Edinburgh and Glasgow. I was second in line at the red traffic light, about ten other cars behind. The light changed to green but car number one was slow in moving off. Mad as hell, driver number seven hit the horn, and kept his fist planted firmly on the boss of the steering wheel. Unfortunately for him an LAPD car drew up alongside, the officer gesturing the driver to stay where he was.

As I drove off I heard the police officer say as he leant over the driver’s door, “Sir, what is the problem? You are number seven in the line. When the lights change there’s all the other cars to move before you can think of moving one inch!”

What do we have to do to stop being Angry Driver, especially if you know you have a short temper? Competitive in career should not translate to competitive on the road. Domini hat on, here’s my tips:

Move Over If you notice someone tailgating you, don’t make them angrier by going slower or at the same speed. Don’t endanger yourself and others by speeding up. Instead, move over as soon as you can and let the driver pass.

Avoid Eye Contact Sometimes making eye contact with the aggressive driver can increase their anger. Like the dog at the gate analogy, it can be interpreted as a form of a challenge. Ignore them as they pass by and make sure to give them plenty of room.

Stay Calm Don’t let a driver’s poor behaviour get the best of you. Do your best to stay calm. You can do this by giving yourself plenty of time for delays on your trip and listening to your favourite music. Also, use your horn only if you absolutely must do.

Smile – Smile at other drivers if in the wrong, or give a ‘so sorry’ wave. You will be amazed how much more accommodating they become. Apologise if you’re in the wrong; defuse the moment. (Thanks to Hugh Wallace – see letter below.)

Report The Sod – If someone is driving erratically or too aggressively, call the police to report it before the incident gets any worse. (Hands free phone only, please!)

And finally, don’t do as I do, do as I say!

PS: The supernatural film of the same name, Driving Angry, starring the face of a startled sheep, Nicolas Cage, can be seen repeated on late night television a lot of the year.

GROUSEY’S FOOTWELL FINDS

New VW Golf dash

A spy shot of the new VW Golf’s dash shows a complete break away from the traditional wide centre console, facia with radio and a place to hold small items, and above a heavy duty dash full of analogue instrumentation. Instead, the new creation is two elegant parallel lines curving in the middle toward the driver, encompassing digital instruments behind the steering wheel, and an elongated computer screen to the right. Along the bottom line are a series of thin buttons. Sure has taken VW a long time to move into the modern world, what with recreations of the Beetle. A contemporary design is welcome.

Sturgeon visits car designers

It flashed by. Can’t remember where or when. I read a headline and saw a photograph of Nicola Sturgeon with some students who had designed a tubular framed experimental vehicle propelled by hydrogen power. Not a new idea by any means, with a couple of car manufacturers still trying their hand with the stuff. If the Scottish Government could see their way to encouraging clever, innovative companies to locate in Scotland, engineers and designers making cars more environmentally friendly, I welcome it.

Pedestrian expansion

City of Edinburgh Council has released pretty sketches of three proposed greatly enhanced areas for pedestrians. They are actually working on Rose Street now, ideas for that street of pubs littering the floor of council offices for generations. The new initiative has one outside Waverley station – I dislike the concrete expansion into the gardens, one for Victoria Street to the Grassmarket, and one at the traffic mess that is Tollcross. The sketch shows a cross road replaces the every which way existing now. On the left is a wide pavement and what looks like stalls, a large sculpture and the original clock. Surely that’s the spot to place a replica of the beautiful Victorian bandstand removed last century and left to rot. We have one of Scotland’s last foundries in Edinburgh that could make it and we see it used for debates, chilling out, and musical events. If you like the idea, tell the council.

Happy motoring!

 

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Posted in Transportation | 5 Comments

Suckering the SNP

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How gullible can you be and still expect respect?

There are two ways to treat the electorate: intelligent people, a few uninformed, or badly behaved infants wanting constant discipline. The SNP chose the latter.

There’s a certain kind of naivety that is forgivable, the innocent of malice kind that ends in embarrassment for the unwary and unworldly. Then there is the naivety born of plain ignorance, emphatic statements and opinions made in the face of opposing and overwhelming evidence to the contrary, facts easily checked. Lastly, there is the crass naivety that comes out of the mouth of banal pundits and wannabee politicians who overlook the statesmanship part of the job.

Who could have predicted three SNP grandees would err on the side of calumny, Angus Robertson, Stewart McDonald and Alyn Smith? Castigating unnamed independence supporters is a category over-and-above those I mention. The paper is alleged to be open-minded but isn’t since it switched from the Sunday Herald to the Herald on Sunday, (neat Orwellian move) a rag that doesn’t know the meaning of a free press.

Their condemnation of Internet ‘cybernats’ as if one lumpen group is a totalitarian pronouncement made by people we assume are street smart.

Class discipline

The infamous diatribe was published a day after one of the largest and most audacious marches for democracy seen in Scotland this side of Votes for Women. It landed in the lap of hope like a turd.

The (old) Sunday Herald’s acrimoniously inclined, foul tempered former editor, Neil Mackay, has a track-record of suckering guileless SNP politicians, usually at the moment of their triumph. One can suppose there’s more mischief planned.

The endless article was his instigation, wrapped around a brick and chucked at the SNP’s good name. Convincing the Three Stooges to take part in the Herald’s chicanery was an easy sting. Cue jaunty Scott Joplin melody played on the piano.

Report? What Report?

The excuse of the Three Stooges was the existence of an SNP commissioned Report on Internet social sites. The Report unseen and not scrutinised by the public or debated in Paliament – its findings about as distant from everyday life as a homeless person is for a good bed – asserts some people who use the Internet are impolite, antagonistic, or damn well abusive.

The fear is, the persistent could be harming the SNP. If so, and to what degree, none are as destructive as a politicians. When nationalist MPs damn and accuse their voters you know Calvinism is alive and well in the pulpit of the SNP.

The SNP is not a body unto itself, separate from the people. It was born out of the electorate to represent the electorate. When a political party feels the electorate are the problem we should all shudder. Not to keep its fire power trained on the imperialism of the British state that harms Scotland every day, every week, is another indication of a weakness in its current fitness to lead by example.

Who reads Twitter?

Two things: very few people use the Internet for news or discourse, and those that do invariably swear they were swayed to support full self-governance by the very arguments and evidence placed in public arena by so-called cybernats.

Secondly, the Report was one that ought to have been discussed within the SNP rank and file not tossed out into the public sphere, thrown against a wailing wall like a plate of spaghetti in the hope something sticks on the face of a cybernat.

By turning the Report into J’accuse the SNP showed yet again that it is more interested in protecting its image – whatever that is – than in attaining self-governance by the simple means of informing the populace of the benefits of political liberty.

What is a cybernat?

Allegedly a cybernat is a person who uses the Internet almost exclusively to promote their opinion or to inform, or in extreme cases, to harass. (There is a ‘block’ mechanism to stop the malignant, but let’s lay that aside for now.) Apparently, but not exclusively, called a cybernat is to be tarred not a nice person.

As in everyday life, wherever there is human activity their exist bottom feeders; the Internet is not without its share of cockroaches. How they manage to block Scotland’s political and economic independence better than the British state, we are not told.

There is no firm definition of the pejorative term. It keeps company with ‘gook’, ‘Paddy’, chinky, ‘yoon’ included, and other xenophobic vilification.

Reducing people to evil ‘things’

To naivety: Labour’s Scottish branch joining with Scotland’s lords and masters, the Tory party, to halt Scotland’s democratic process is a case in point. When Labour will recover from that monumental public relations disaster is a ‘known unknown’. They caused a huge portion of the population to distrust them to such an extent Labour might never gain power in Scotland in my lifetime.

Johann Lamont set the tone and seal on Labour’s betrayal by smearing as low-life people who want ‘something for nothing’, the poor and the vulnerable, a warning Labour will not reinstate social security rights or repeal the worst of anti-union laws.

This is the party, remember, that has burdened Scotland with massive investment debts, paying way over the odds for new buildings for years to come, quite deliberately to hobble Scotland’s economic choices and keep it a mendicant grateful to the British state.

Robertson’s jam

Angus Robertson is extremely foolish to trust a British owned newspaper, and foolish still to try and justify his actions. When you find yourself forced to explain not once, not twice, but three times, the people you were really rebuking was not nice, right-thinking people, you know you screwed up big time.

Robertson – and one must suppose the SNP hierarchy approved his master plan – was speaking about people who use the Internet and Twitter, people who want to think freely because they had been enslaved by ideologies fed to them by politicians for generations. The web gives them a voice. And yes, the Internet has opened the door to every sociopath with a grudge … and some of them are politicians.

In the tradition of tired men, the SNP forgot their role, seeking out the root cause of social malaise and address that, not condemning it in wild general terms. In telling people to stay positive, the Three Stooges were infinitely negative.

If there are people reciting unhealthy mass rhetoric it most likely our elected leaders and media encouraging demagogues to have their say.

The new totalitarianism

Intolerant politicians the world over are creating a new form of totalitarianism, one that is much more dangerous than a few Internet obsessives not keen on the light of day.

Whatever the SNP does to look radiant and bountiful, newspapers will besmirch one way or another. They ought to be used to it by now, and shrug it off. The public are not interested in cybernattery. People want to know what tangible things will be better after independence: produce in shops; job creation; land reform; our justice system; benefits issuing from being a member of the United Nations; and what will Scotland do if England goes to war and demands Scotland join it?

Get involved in chasing minnows, sacrifing passionate friends, concentrating on keeping a virtuous public image, and no Freudian cliché will be left unstroked.

 

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Posted in Scottish Independence Referendum, Scottish Politics | 8 Comments

Car News: Holiday Hires

A weekly guide to all that sucks in the auto industry, plus some good bits

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That moment, tired and disorientated, you realise you’ve forgotten your driver’s licence

Readers will have their horror story of hiring a car when abroad. You find a long line at the airport desk waiting to fill in documents, a frazzled biddy in front is holding things up carping about the cost or querying the small print, and the receptionist has a permanent take-it-or-leave-it attitude for each and every customer.

The language barrier can be a problem though the receptionist may speak English better than the English tourist. “Na! That’s aka! I ordered bliddy automatic wi’ fower seats, an’ paid fortit, like”, croaks the Geordie, aready dressed for sea and sun in sandals with socks, a T-shirt emblazoned with ”Toon Ultras’. “Si, senor, but none eez here”, answers the seen, heard it all assistant, offering an unsuitable alternative, leaving the customer to turn to his discomfited wife to say, “Never seen nowt like it in me natch”.

The worst of the worst for me was spending an excrutiating hour trailing around and around Malaga airport and around again, carting luggage as the day’s light disappeared, looking for the car hire desk and getting misdirected by bad tempered security officers. (It was in the basement.) The best time was taking possession of a car in pristine condition, parking it an hour later outside a supermarket to buy the week’s produce, returning to find the truck parked behind had reversed into the car and driven off. The read door had a moon-size crater of a dent in it. It was the best of hires because on handing the car back with apprehension the company didn’t blink and eyelid over the damage, such is the joy of living in a world where somebody else takes the financial hit.

The American satirist PJ O’Rourke – Patrick to his pals – is reputed to have coined the phrase, “the fastest car on the planet is a hire car”. The hired car is the one you put the pedal to the metal when the road ahead opens up, and don’t worry when it gets covered in dust, or scraped. You don’t have to clean the interior either. The rest of his thoughts on cars don’t stand the test of time, his go-anywhere and stuff the regulations attitude very Texan. His environmental concern ages badly, far too right-wing for me to take. He’d make a good pal for Jeremy Clarkson. I give him wriggle room for writing “Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.”

Hiring a car in Los Angeles is a safe bet generally – I speak as the man who wrote the Louis Vuitton Guide to LA. Europe is a different matter altogether. Continetal car hire is an industry dogged by unscrupulous practices and interminable add-ons. 

Each visit to Spain, France or Italy I try to get a Smart Car, preferably with the fold-away roof, all one needs to beetle around the narrow backstreets of ancient town and village. I have never managed it. Invariably none are available on arrival at the airport, the company brochure forgetting to mention they have only one Smart car and the boss’s wife likes to use it. Next come pile-on extras, extra for a full tank, insurance, window glass not covered, and on and on it goes.

Finally, one company has received its just deserts. Goldcar is named Europe’s worst car hire firm, with customers reportedly complaining that their holidays were ruined by pressure-selling, rude staff and shock charges. The UK much underfunded consumer body Which? said the Spanish firm had been “rooted to the bottom” of its annual car hire survey rankings for five of the last six years. That’s some achievement; maybe the company aims to be the Best of the Worst.

Goldcar engages in that old Ryanair trick, advertise ’em cheap, and then point out the tourist will need to pay for bring luggage, kids, false teeth and the like. In car hire con that’s petrol, a set of wheels, and the insurance only covers hit by a raging bull.

Goldcar’s on-the-face-of-it prices are cheap – customer report paying an average of £13 a day, often half the amount of other hire companies, but 40% of customers reported experiencing a problem most often relating to “terrible customer service or spurious credit card charges”, says Which? 

Goldcar’s overall customer score was 39% in the survey, pretty abysmal, all things considered. In one instance, a family lost their deposit when their plane arrived eleven hours late. Some reports talk of compies piling on the extras to the tune of 300%.

Hopes that the situation regarding Goldcar might have improved after it was bought out by car hire giant Europcar in 2017 “have been dashed, because the firm’s overall score got worse than before”, Which? said.

Time for a name change; How about Pewtercar?

So who was the best at keeping customers happy? Cicar (Canary Islands Car) is named the best car hire firm with a score of 97%. When it came to big-name firms, Enterprise and sister firm Alamo were rated as the best by customers.

My advice: ignore headline prices; Check and compare, avoid Goldcar.

GROUSEY’S FOOTWELL FINDS

Closed street open

Edinburgh’s free of traffic May weekend, city centre roads were blocked off from traffic, appears to have been a success. We can expect more in times to come. However, an alert reader noticed that the publicity photograph of the first day was full of cyclists. I spotted a scooter rider in another photograph. Sure enough, pedestrian actually meant open to certain types of traffic but not cars, and transportation that can take to footpaths. Since when did cyclists and scooter riders become non-traffic? What’s the point of clearing streets for pedestrian perambulation but allow free flowing cyclist’s access? The council’s blurb ran: “Like events in Paris, New York and Brussels, ‘Open Streets’ will let people experience a cleaner, quieter, calmer environment to explore and appreciate Edinburgh’s historic backdrop at leisure on the first Sunday of every month. ” Aye, right. 

DVLA cock-ups

Reputed to send out almost 93 million items a year to drivers, the Institute for Gross Profiteering, better known as the DVLA, get’s things badly wrong. The DVLA mishandled the confidential details of over 2,000 drivers in less last year, not a great number in proportional terms but hellish if it was your documents. These data breaches saw the DVLA send important documents – including driving licences, passports and marriage certificates – to incorrect addresses, affecting the equivalent of around seven people per day. For comparison, the Passport Office with an equivalent client base had only five data breaches over the same time period, while HM Revenue & Customs had ten. The DVLA is in Swansea, Wales, home of Catherine Zeta-Jones. Scotland had its own office until the Tories quietly removed it to destabalise attempts at self-governance.

New electric cars

I can’t keep up with all the announcements of new electric cars coming on the market. This week alone there are four not including VW’s e-Car. VW seems to announce a new electric model a week. But the point of this Footwell Find is to say the latest are all  aiming for the sub-£30,000 price range new, less any government grant. There’s a determined effort on the part of mass market car manufacturers to create small cars, which should mean small service bills – few moving parts: wheels, brakes, steering wheel, door handles and hinges, windows – cars that ought to last double the life or longer of combustion driven vehicles.

Happy motoring!

 

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Posted in Transportation | 3 Comments