2017-10-15

Car Free Bath

Walking along Oldfield Road on my way to work, I saw a notice attached to a lamppost. It turned out to be a traffic notice restricting parking in Oldfield Park, order 17-012/LC. The council were inviting comments, so I wrote the following in support of the order:
As a resident of Oldfield Park, I'm writing in support of the above
scheme as I believe that removing parking is a necessary first step
towards a car-free city. Cars cause traffic congestion and pollution
and are dangerous. Removing parking will deter car use, and at the
same time make routes more navigable for buses. Faster bus journeys
will make buses cheaper and more frequent, setting up a virtuous
circle. I note that the city of Oslo started their car-free program by
first reducing parking, and are on track to be car-free by 2019.

I've heard people say, 'if buses were cheaper and more frequent then I'd use them, but until then I'll keep using my car'. The problem is that cars impede buses, which makes them more expensive and infrequent, so cars have to be removed first in order for buses to flourish.

The reason that everyone can't travel by car without causing traffic congestion is the large amount of space taken up by cars. Buses however take up far less space. This poster shows the space taken up by cars versus buses versus bicycles:






Of course, the absence of cars is a necessary but not sufficient condition for buses to flourish. There has to be competition amongst the bus operators and electronic tickets that work with any bus operator.

2017-07-24

France 2017

Today is the anti-penultimate day of the holiday in France, and I'm thinking back to our arrival. La Garde is about 30 minutes drive from Angers, so I hailed a taxi outside the station and we were off! The driver didn't recognize the address, but no matter, I directed him from Google maps. We arrived, he dropped us off and drove away and I looked around for the gite. It was 22:00, and with mounting panic I realized we were in the wrong place. I told Claire not to panic, not realizing that it was I that was panicking, and that she was perfectly calm. Jung would have called it projection. There followed a period of confusion. I phoned for another taxi but my French was so bad that I was unsure whether I'd successfully done so. We waited for ages, but of course the taxi turned up and we made it.


The first book I read was A Hero of Our Time, with a Byronic anti-hero (the title is sardonic I think). On the other hand, he wasn't that bad. It's probably that in the time it was written it stood in contrast to the idealised characters that had always been portrayed.




A few days into the holiday and we were walking from La Garde to Coutures by a roundabout route and we used a track that wasn't on Openstreetmap. It is now. I hadn't used Openstreetmap for ages, and was pleasantly surprised at how the editor had improved.



 The reason for my trip to France was to take a photo of the electricity meter at Château de Montsabert for Giles at work.

Château de Montsabert

Electricity Meter at Montsabert


I'm a fan of the Ion data serialization format, and for various reasons I wanted to write a parser for it. So I started working on it while in France, and I finished it yesterday. It's called Pionic. Ion is like JSON, but has support for timestamp and decimal data types, and more besides.


I've just finished reading Jung's Modern Man in Search of a Soul, and he talks a lot about dreams, and how they are a way to access the unconscious mind. I don't really have dreams, but after starting to read the book I frequently had dreams. In my latest dream I was the science advisor to President Barack Obama and I was terrified that he'd ask me what the atomic number of nitrogen was, and I wouldn't be able to tell him confidently.

2017-05-09

Yesterday I went out canvassing for Wera Hobhouse of the Lib Dems, who is standing for Bath MP. I haven't been canvassing since I went round with my Dad many years ago, when he was a town councillor.

I'm just about to go out again this morning, traveling up to Odd Down. Must make sure I get a rosette this time.

2017-04-18

I've Joined The Liberal Democrats

Following the snap election announcement, I've joined the Liberal Democrats as I believe they're our best chance of stopping Brexit.

Looking over their website, they say that they're against a hard Brexit, rather than simply against Brexit. But this is better than the Tories, and in my constituency of Bath the 2015 general election results were:
  1. Conservative 17,833
  2. Liberal Democrat 14,000
  3. Labour 6,216
  4. Green 5,634
  5. UKIP 2,922
  6. Independent 499
  7. English Democrat 63 
My MP, Ben Howlett (Conservative), voted with his party to trigger Article 50, but the Lib Dem position was to vote against Article 50. So I reasoned that the best hope to get a pro-EU MP for Bath is to do what I can to help the Lib Dems, so I've stumped up £70 and joined them.

People argue that the referendum result was the will of the people and parliament must comply with it. I feel that in this tussle between the referendum and parliament, ultimately parliament should decide. Referendums are never a good idea, and I was against a referendum right from the beginning.

If anyone's still reading, here's my main reason for wanting to be part of the EU. We've got to have some way of coexisting with other people, and democracy seems the least bad approach. Without the EU we'd have democracy up to the national level, but anarchy beyond that. As we know, in an anarchy, life is 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short'. Without an EU we've had two world wars; essentially European civil wars played out over the globe. On the other hand, with the EU we'd have democracy right up to the continental level, which is our best chance of peace.


2016-06-10

Louis XV


This is my Louis XV chair, which with folies de grandeure I think of as my 'reading chair'. It's right below the window where the resident smokes his Galois and looks out at the Loire.

I went to La Souris Gourmande for lunch, and a fellow diner was a famous person. I didn't recognise him myself, but people came up to him and asked for selfies. All I can say is that he wore immaculately white trainers, and that he ate fondue with two friends.

You distracted me there, but in that chair I was reading C. P. Snow's The Sleep Of Reason. I think he may be one of my favourite authors. There's a bit where he says that free will may not exist, but you have to go in as though it did. It's not a very satisfactory answer to the problem, but it's the same (provisional) conclusion I've come to.

Well the task for me now is to find a suitable bar to watch France v. Romania in the opening game of Euro 2016.

2016-06-08

Mon Ami Jaeger


He's allowed on the chairs at the café!

Hello Again Jaeger

Through a great green front door, thick with decades of layers of paint. Up ancient, rickety, Dickensian stairs in the gloom, each step yielding a creak. Then into the apartment looking out onto the Loire in the dazzling sun.

I've renewed my friendship with the black Labrador called Jaeger at Les Blancs Manteaux, and thereby came to an act of civic heroism. An elderly man walking a small dog was trying to hold back the Jaeger, but was too frail. I promptly grabbed Jaeger by the collar and the old man gratefully carried on his way. The people of the town have commissioned a statue in honor of my bravery.

The Loire burst its banks in the deluge, and there are still parts of the riverside path that are inundated. Walking along, a woman on a bike stopped and asked if the way I had come was flooded. I replied that it wasn't flooded, and it was clear for her to keep cycling along. She didn't seem to grasp what I was saying, and so I became quite insistent that the way was clear. This went on for some time until she pointed behind her at a flood that I was about to encounter. It dawned on that she hadn't been asking me about her way ahead, she had been warning me about my way ahead. I laughed, but she did not.

Even though I'm a hypochondriac, I'm convinced I've got a sleeping disorder.

2016-05-05

Police Commissioner Elections

Just remembered to vote in the Police Commissioner elections. My area is Avon and Somerset and my vote was:

Kerry Barker (Labour)
Chris Briton (Green)

I voted Barker because of his policy of helmet mounted cameras, and Briton for his drug decriminalisation stance.