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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Flight control

It's bad enough that I'm not allowed to use my iPad to read instead of a book when the plane is taking off or landing (even though the pilots are now being issued with iPads instead of paper manuals) but the phones thing is getting further out of control.

According to the F.A.A., 712 million passengers flew within the United States in 2010. Let’s assume that just 1 percent of those passengers — about two people per Boeing 737, a conservative number — left a cellphone, e-reader or laptop turned on during takeoff or landing. That would mean seven million people on 11 million flights endangered the lives of their fellow passengers.

Yet, in 2010, no crashes were attributed to people using technology on a plane. None were in 2009. Or 2008, 2007 and so on. You get the point.

[From Fliers Still Must Turn Off Devices, but It's Not Clear Why -]

When I landed at a major US international airport a few days ago, we were informed by an announcement of board the plane, whole taxiing to our arrival stand, that we were required by the airport authorities to keep our phones switched off until we left the terminal building for "security reasons". An awful lot of passengers were pissed off about this, because they wanted to let relatives know that they had landed, check their messages and so on. There was a lot of grumbling as we stood in the 55 minutes line for immigration. Fortunately I had the latest "Economist" with me so I had something read while the people around me, some of them families with small children, had absolutely nothing to do. They weren't even allowed to listen to music or play handheld games.

I began to wonder what "security reasons" there might be for the prohibition. If I were a terrorist dedicated to the overthrow of the United States, then I would simply ignore it. So it can't be aimed at terrorists or criminals or other people who disobey the law. And if the "authorities" really don't want anyone to make phone calls inside their airport, then all they have to do is turn off the cells.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stock arguments

Listening to the wireless whilst pottering around the house, I heard noted pop music impresario Pete Waterman bemoaning the laziness and stupidity of British youth. Now, I normally pay no attention at all to the drug-fuelled ramblings of music industry persons, but in this particular case he caught my attention, because he runs a business in the real world. Or, at least, in Crewe. He has an engineering works and has been trying to hire (I think he said) 20 apprentices but they won't do it because they start at 7.45am and he won't let them use mobile phones while using equipment. He said that he had had to look "further afield" to find the people he needs - he didn't specify but I assume he meant Poland or Latvia.

Meanwhile, my wife was in hospital recently and was being served lunch by a Latvian woman. She was a university graduate but was serving food in a hotel to earn some money in the UK while she bettered her English and went to college in the evening. I know that anecdote aren't statistics, but you see this sam pattern time and time again. Under New Labour insane plans to create an underclass that would form a permanent socialist voting bloc while using uncontrolled mass immigration to keep the lights on we have come close to rendering an entire generation unemployable.

By coincidence, I happened to have been at an employers gathering the day before. I don't want to say why, because it would be inappropriate to identify any of the particular organisations. but it was interesting here some of the CEOs talk about the problems of expanding their businesses in the UK. Some had made a very deliberate decision to expand overseas and it wasn't, as I would have imagined, all about wage levels. More than one of them said that it was simply not possible to find young people in the UK who were prepared to work all day. Someone I know tolerably well has moved his software development company from the south east of England to Romania. You don't just lose the jobs of the software developers, you lose the jobs of the receptionists, janitors, accountants, solicitors and so forth too.

One of the guys at the meeting I was at was talking about the new government apprentice scheme. They have ten places available for (paid) apprentices. Only two people even showed up for interview (in a country with over a million unemployed yoofs). One of the other guys was trying to to hire engineering graduates and couldn't find any. The chap from one of the universities present said that many engineering graduates go into banking and finance because it offers the potential for big bonuses.

What has gone wrong? The New Labour edukashun drive must have had even more disastrous effects on our young people than even I had imagined, and my kids go to state schools so I see the catastrophic reality every day. This leaves me with very little hope for the UK - naturally I am advising my own children to flee as soon as is practical - but someone please tell me that there is a ray of sunshine out there somewhere.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Monday, December 05, 2011

Derek and Clive

I was waiting for a bus in San Francisco. At the bus stop with me were two men, late teens or early twenties. One was African-American, one was Latino-American. They were both dressed in the standard uniform of very baggy jeans with the crotch below their knees, underpants showing so that they looked like escaping mental patients, strangely thick padded jackets (it was a very hot day) and hats. They were talking about potential career options. Their conversation was so ridiculous I dubbed them Derek and Clive. For younger readers, this is an allusion to an infamous series of albums made by Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. One of them actually said, and I swear to Roberto Mancini that I'm not making this up, that he'd considered being a judge, because he thought he would quite good at it (if I understood his vernacular), but had decided against it after discovering that you had to go to law school first.

I would much prefer to be a judge than a coal miner because of the absence of falling coal.

[From Peter Cook - Wikiquote]

The other youth said that he hadn't come to any firm conclusions yet but thought that he might like to work in the music industry.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]