Friday, January 7, 2011

Target - resume cycling next week

As well as "time flying" it also seems to have been a "two steps forward, one and a half steps back" week. Ever since my computer crashed (2 days ago) it has spent time "Verifying and repairing" my newly repaired RAID 1 disk drive (Actually 2 x 2Tb drives.) It takes around 6- hours to do a run and if there are errors reported it repeats. The first time after the crash it reported 98 errors after a few passes it is down to 9 errors, but I think the problem might be a conflict between the way in which the disk Drives have been optimised for power-saving and operating as a Raid 1 disk. The second drive is a copy of the first and I am guessing that occasionally the second drive is in a power-save mode and does not respond quick enough when data is being copied and/or checked on it. This then gets flagged as an error. I seem to have several options, one is to fiddle with the drives firmware settings, the second is to replace the drives with non-power saving drives and the third is to use the drives as two separate non-Raid drives and then clone the working drive (with the OS and all the data) onto the second drive and then run frequent incremental back ups.

I might actually take the third option and if both drives behave themselves consider tweaking the firmware settings and re-trying the RAID 1 option, although that would break the "if it ain't broke don't fix it rule". I know I might sound paranoid about this but I really don't want to lose the 350gb of picture and personal data I have stored - although it wouldn't be the end of the world.

I was saddened to see reports of a former Boxer who died in a collision with a Van in London whilst out cycling. It was the first cycling death in London this year (2011). According to the report there were 15 deaths in '07, 15 in '08, 13 in '09 and 10 deaths in '10 in London. In a case that has just come to court a 14-year old Newmarket boy was in a near miss in Newmarket last year. The driver was over the limit and the bike was not so lucky!


There are some tests used by philosophers to assess how we view certain dilemmas which are discussed and enlarged in a book by a Harvard biologist called Marc Hauser in which various scenarios present a dilemma which the reader and the reader is asked to make a choice. In one such dilemma a train is running down a line and is certain to run over and kill five people further along the line, but the "reader" can flip a switch and divert the train onto another line where only one person gets killed. Many people agree that switching the train (so that only one person is killed) is morally permissible. If the question is re-cast such that 5 people are suffering various fatal illnesses and can only be saved with organ transplants would it be permissible to forcibly transplant then from a healthy individual (killing the donor as a consequence) then almost no-one finds it morally permissible.

Why am I wittering on about this - well we often talk about the human rights of an individual but it sometimes seems to me that many motorists consider cyclists a nuisance on the roads and consider their own right to the road over that of the cyclist (and pedestrian, horse-rider and lorry driver). Yet when there is an accident the consequences are generally far higher for the cyclist than the motorist and so we should have a higher duty of care when driving a motor vehicle, which has a higher level of "lethality".

So coming back to the moral dilemmas I feel that in the case of the runaway train it is not morally acceptable to divert the train although it would save five lives unless the single person on the other track has "given permission" in some way. So if the case were set in war-time and they were all soldiers perhaps. Similarly I feel that when I am a motorist it is reasonable that I should have a higher burden of care than when I am a cyclist.

Which leads me on to a headline in the Cambridge News: "No respite for drivers, says city council chief". I agree with the prioritisation of pedestrians and cyclists over private motorists, but the tone of the headline is that we ought to feel sorry for the drivers. Even at the best of times cars are a nuisance (except the one we are driving!!) so surely motorists should be apologising for the blight they represent.


Increasingly I think that people do realise that the car is a mixed blessing. Here in the flatlands there is increasing awareness of the problems caused by speeding and various villages have set up speedwatch groups. This report "speedwatch group say it's working" is perhaps an example of the changing sentiment and dare I say it the "Big society" in action. Even better it is a nice part of the Flatlands to cycle in.

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