Friday, 30th March 2012: I like the changing season, the changes provide motivation to cycle and take photographs. Mind you there are some subjects that are the same every year. I like flowers growing in the garden and in the wild and at this time of year one of the more striking flowers that pops up in my garden are Imperial Crowns, aka Kaiser’s Crown, Impy Cs or more properly Fritillaria imperialis.
According to Wikipedia they flower in the Northern Hemisphere in late April or May and have a foxy odour that repels rodents. Well they flower a bit earlier than that here in the Flatlands of East Anglia and I have never noticed the odour – I must go out and have a sniff.
We didn’t put these in they were already in the garden when we bought the house. However there were fir trees which we cleared out of the way and then the next year they started to show and have been getting better ever since.
This slight aside from cycling does give me a bitt of space to mention other things in my Blog as well. One of them is cycle related though.
One of the things I have noticed is that despite my best intentions not to I do find myself romanticising the past. You know, along the lines of “In my day the vegetables had more flavour” or “"In my day we could roam across the fields all day long in the holidays”. One thing that is different between now and my childhood is that I now live in the Flatlands of East Anglia and I used to live on the slopes of the Mendips an “Area of Outstanding Natural beauty”. They are different places, with differing climates, and fauna, flora and farming and I mustn’t forget potholes – to my knowledge East Anglia hasn’t got any. I mean cave thingies not dints in the road by the way.
What does seem to be happening around the world though is a “Dramatic decline in bees” – also referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder. The article suggests that a cause has been found – certain types of modern pesticides. This doesn’t just have implications for garden plants – many crop plants are also pollinated by bees. Mind you according to my son the issues have been debated for some time according to this Guardian article defra (and Bayer) indicate that other studies show that the effects are not replicated in field studies. Although have not published their data. Which of course makes one wonder why the studies are unpublished – hardly the scientific method I was taught.
Although as I write this they have had snow in Aberdeenshire – the weather is certainly changeable.
I mentioned in my last post the issues of congestion and Cambridge well in a bizarre headline it seems that Cambridge “City voted one of the least affordable for housing”. I wonder why they voted, surely it would just be a question of looking at the facts? We are also “‘sleepwalking’ into homes shortage", although that article was reporting criticism by a developer.
The trouble is, in my view is that quite a few politicians reaped the indirect benefits of house prices rising (you’ve never had it so good-stylee). That led to housing being unaffordable by those either not on the housing ladder or on the bottom rung. Which in turn means that those already half-way up the ladder are not keen to see the value in their houses eroded – which is understandable, but leads to an impasse.
What is it we want from our green and pleasant land? What sort of society? Inequalities do not provide a stable foundation, nor do concrete jungles where pedestrians and cyclists (natch) play second or should that be third fiddle to too many cars and vans. (Although lorries are seen as a problem on the roads in terms of potential danger and as a cause of congestion at least they move goods around for the benefit of us all unlike all the single occupant cars.)
Whilst I am ranting apparently “Mental health beds cut despite protests” was a news item that caught my eye. It worries me that those least able to voice their needs get ignored by this burst of capitalism in the care community.
Another random item that caught my attention was that “TV licence cheats make up a TENTH of all magistrate court cases”. Apparently 3,000 people a week are being prosecuted. The article indicates that 165,000 people were prosecuted for not having a TV licence over the last 12 months, which at £145.50 for a licence is £24million and licence fee fines were just under £25million in 2010.
According to this article on Magistrates’ Courts expenditure (pdf) (England and Wales I think) the total expenditure in 2008/2009 was £717m (page 9). Which implies that it is costing £71m to punish and collect £25m in fines for £24 unpaid TV licences. (Don’t trust this too much as there are problems with mixing calendar years.)
Who was it that said a “bad tax” was one that cost you more to administer than it earned in receipts? Now I am not arguing that the fines should necessarily pay for all the legal costs. However society is paying for those costs which should also include all of the TV license dodgers. According to their review (page 7 - a flash document – yuck) it costs £124.4m in 2011. Here is the pdf instead. It collected £3.7billion and 96.7% of households having a TV.
And now for some retro photographs – Sweeps, nomads, quacks and crawlers – Victorian London.
And finally the bicycle related item – a pump-hub that inflates you tyre as you cycle. That is neat – although a dynamo that provides electrical power to charge and light and power a pump might have been more general purpose.