Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lines, maps, plots and charidee

Spotted some shiny new double-yellow lines painted down a road near the bridge yesterday afternoon, about time to; I can't even begin to count how many cars I've seen parked there. No, seriously; I can't begin to count them. I've seen cars stopped when they've broken down, cars stopped while the occupants ask for directions, and cars stopped to pick up friends they've seen walking along. What I have never seen is anyone stop and get out of their car and wander off. It's odd, it's a nice straight road of reasonable width, but I don't think it would have even occurred to anyone to park there. There's nothing there to park for, though now they've expressly forbidden it I must admit I'm tempted to.

Here's the map of the lights-on procession I've already mentioned.

Without exception everyone who's seen it has said

Where are they going then?
This isn't some joke about the locals' inability to read maps, the same thing was said by a friend who's just moved into the area. So what's the problem? Easy. It's the same reason you don't recognise your country when they put south at the top. There's one defining characteristic of the town - the bridge. The bridge which is to the south of the town, every map you see of my town regardless of where you're starting from, or it's orientational accuracy, has the bridge below the town. Turn this map 90° clockwise and there's a sudden intake of breath and a "Oh yeah, I see". It doesn't help of course that they've not only got the map the wrong way up, but have also failed to mark the bridge on it.

This story pretty much blipped through the rolling juggernaut that is 24-hour news. To summarise Dhiren Barot has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for plotting to blow up areas of London and the USA. Okay so here's a dumb question - "What has he done that's illegal?"

He was taking video footage of prominent buildings paying close attention to security - Hell I'd do that, although my commentary would be more along the lines of "What a waste of time and money", but if that's illegal we'd better lock up a lot of holidaymakers.

He had books that described how to make explosives - okay is there a list of banned books we need to know about. Oh no wait you mean he actually had made some bombs - no. So he had bomb-making apparatus - no. Oh.

He trained in Kashmir to carry out acts of terrorism against other countries. Okay well that's not illegal here, if it's illegal in Kashmir then they can prosecute him.

He had detailed written instructions about how to carry out acts of terrorism against the US and UK, which just proves his lawyer should have used the defence "He's a novelist! This is research"

So what has he been sentenced for
"conspiracy to commit a public nuisance by the use of radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals and/or explosives."
To put it bluntly we think he was going to do this based on the evidence above. Well he's pleaded guilty, and he probably was going to do something, but damn if you can lock someone away for 40 years on evidence this scanty I think everyone should be worried.

Finally I caught a television ad - Ah babies, lots of babies ahh. It was a nappy/diaper commercial, buy a special pack and the company will give a child a tetanus inoculation. Well that's nice, unfortunately for the company (but fortunately for us) the ASA are a bunch of hard-arses and you can't get away with unqualified statements like that. What the company will do is fund the cost of one tetanus shot, total cost 2.5p. So for every pack of disposable nappies you buy a whopping 2.5p goes to UNICEF. Here's a thought open your purse or wallet, dig out a pound coin, send it to UNICEF, you've just done the equivalent of buying 40 packs of nappies. But hey it's all for charidee.