Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's little wonder really...

In the wee small hours this morning, somewhere between the alarm going off and waking up, I was listening to the radio. The BBC man and his reporter were discussing a new report into parking in London and three facts leaped out of the burble at me:
  1. That one in five parking tickets is challenged successfully
  2. That one in three parking officers is assaulted - some with baseball bats and other weapons
  3. They are thinking of increasing parking fines in some places to £160
This, in turn, inspired three thought streams:
  1. So what they are actually saying is that one in five parking tickets is an extortion attempt that fails. Given the number of dodgy parking tickets that people don't bother fighting, the proportion of fraudulent parking tickets must be immense.
  2. People are violently objecting to parking officers illegally ticketing their cars. Or parking officers are violently objecting to people who try to stop them illegally ticketing their cars. I mention this flipside, because the violence is not always one-way. Our porter challenged the parking inspector in our street and the parking inspector hit him with his parking ticket machine. So the parking inspector took a weapon to a concerned citizen who pointed out that he had not waited the statutory five minutes before writing the ticket, and that he would act as a witness. It ended happily though. About a nanosecond after the parking inspector hit our porter, he discovered - the hard way - that our porter is a retired middleweight boxer. I bet it wasn't written up that way in the inspector's log though.
  3. It costs more to park illegally than it does to speed, or to drive through a stop sign
Even in my slightly befuddled sleepy state, having had these thoughts, I had a revelation. An epiphany even.
Perhaps less of 1 will lead to less 2.
I was wondering if anyone else shared my revelation when, outside Bayswater Tube this morning, I saw a parking inspector hiding behind a phone box on Queensway while she typed a car's details into her computer. The car was in the side street, driver in the driving seat, engine running, while the passenger hopped out to catch the tube. The passenger didn't take more than a moment to get out, so really the car was stopped at a stop sign and the alighting passenger was a coincidence. Essentially, the parking officer was about to fine a driver for stopping at a stop sign. (Which makes sense, given that the fines tell us that it is more important to park properly than drive properly.)

So I smacked her head into the side of the phone box.

[Actually, I didn't. I stopped walking, did a double take, walked into the station, walked back out again to see if I actually saw what I thought I saw, then someone approached her to ask a question and the car drove away.]

Monday, June 12, 2006

Just how secure is Guantanamo Bay?

A MILITARY investigation into the suicides of three inmates at Guantanamo Bay was under way yesterday as American officials sought to counter international condemnation over the deaths, dismissing them as a “PR stunt” aimed at discrediting the US.
It worked.

The US now looks ridiculous and insecure. It's pathetic.

Or perhaps I'm being heavy handed here. It seems that modern warfare is all about PR and I might be hopelessly out of fashion when I see tragedy in a person so tormented that death looks like their best option.