Friday, February 22, 2008

Do the dead speak in stereo?

I have just ordered a new digital voice recorder. Okay, the main reason was that Maplin have a sale and I can’t resist that place. I try to avoid the shop in Aberdeen, but the website is only a mouse-click away.

I have a sensible reason too. Up to now I have largely ignored EVPs (electronic voice phenomena, jargon for ‘voices of the dead’) because they are next to impossible to verify. There is sound, but no vision. You can’t see if there’s someone else there, someone putting on a throaty whisper. The voices never say anything sensible (apart from the ones that whisper ‘Punch the idiot’, but that’s just my subconscious speaking). They are far too easy to fake, whether on tape or digital media. As Tom pointed out a while back, re-used tapes are not always completely wiped over so the EVP might be nothing more than an echo from a previous recording. Too many problems, so I never put much faith in them.

All the same, I do use a digital recorder just in case. You never know. Digital ones don’t have the motor-hiss of tape, they produce files that can be transferred to computer in an instant, they are small and light and they run for a long time on little batteries. Not too much initial cost, low battery cost and no tape cost. Worth trying.

It occurred to me that there is a way to improve the credibility of EVP evidence and perhaps find something about how they work into the bargain. To do this I need a video camera and two digital recorders. I have too many video cameras and one digital recorder. I could have resurrected an old tape recorder for this but well, that new digital one was half-price…

There are already video recordings of investigators capturing and then playing back EVPs but these are on TV shows. Anything designed for entertainment value is suspect. I’m not saying they faked it, I’m saying it would have been very easy to do and no scientist can take a TV show as evidence. Well, not unless they enjoy the sensation of being laughed at.

What I intend to try is this. Set up two voice recorders so that both are completely in the view of the video camera. Start the camera, then the recorders. State the time and date in a clear voice. This fixes a point on all three, and if ever there’s an EVP worth following up, a good voice-analyst can confirm that the three recordings match on that statement.

Now there’s a camera watching the voice recorders so they can’t be tampered with. Before shutting down, state the time and date once more to fix the end of the recording. Then search the voice recordings for EVPs.

So far it’s not clear how EVPs get onto the tape or digital recording. Nobody present hears anything. Having two running together will help answer that.

First, you need a clear and definite voice on one of the recordings. Then you check the other recording to see if it also appears on that, and at the same time. The video recording will show whether the recorders were tampered with, and will reveal any deep-voiced fakes. For some reason these EVPs don’t seem to show up on video sound. There’s probably a technical excuse but I haven’t found it yet. Perhaps a video soundtrack is limited in range because of the width of the tape, most of which is used for pictures? If so, that problem might disappear with these new hard-disk videos. It remains to be seen.

Right. Let’s say there’s a voice at the same time on both recordings, but nothing on the video. We can call it an EVP and we can assume that it’s somehow inaudible to the human (and camera) ear but was picked up by the recorders. Since it’s on both, it must have gone in through the microphones, so it’s somehow ‘really there’ in the room. That calls for equipment capable of translating inaudible sound frequencies into audible. Bat-listening gear, in other words.

Suppose there’s a very clear voice on one recording but nothing on the other, and nothing on the tape. A glitch? Possibly, but it might also indicate the alternative idea concerning EVPs – that they bypass the microphone to land directly on the recording medium. That would suggest moving the investigation into radio frequencies, the most likely source that might be capable of such a thing. If it is RF, it’s likely that one manufacturer’s recorder will be more sensitive to this than another. I'll have two recorders from different manufacturers so I'll detect this if it happens.

It would indeed be embarrassing to find that the voices on tape came from radio frequencies in use by local taxi firms. That’s possible—I used to have a hifi that picked up those signals. So don’t do this on TV. Don’t dash out with the EVP and claim it as proof until every possible source of error has been checked.

I doubt that setup would produce absolute proof. It would take EVPs one step closer to being useful evidence. It would also give an idea whether to concentrate further effort on RF or sound frequencies—either route is expensive and buying expensive but useless equipment is not sensible.

As EVPs stand, the voices are not clear. They say nothing of note. They don’t have conversations with investigators. We can’t tune in to them because we don’t know where they are. Are they sound waves, radio waves, magnetic or electric waves? Heck, we can’t tune in because we don’t even know which device to tune!

If we did know, if we could record an actual conversation with a spirit, then that would be pretty powerful evidence. Especially if they could provide information on something nobody living could know, but which could later be verified. Where they hid something, where a specific lost item can be found, something along those lines. It would be on tape. It would also be on video – well, the investigator’s side of the conversation would be on video. The investigator’s voice could be checked to prove that all three recordings happened at the same time.

This does of course depend entirely on finding a ghost willing to cooperate. That, as always, is the hard part.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The book, the book.

Dikkii passed this tag along. Normally I don't do tags but this one was so odd it caught my eye. I can't see the why of it. So I thought I'd do it and maybe find out later if it means anything.

1. Grab the nearest book (that is at least 123 pages long).
2. Open to p. 123.
3. Go down to the 5th sentence.
4. Type in the following 3 sentences.
5. Tag five people.

The first four bits were easy. Well, the nearest book wasn't exactly easy. There are a lot of books within reach. I estimated the nearest and grabbed.

So, I now have 'Myths and Legends of the British Isles' by Richard Barber. It must surely pass condition 2 because it's about two inches thick.

Indeed it does. 123 pages is hardly any way into this tome. It's in a chapter called 'The Life of Merlin'. It looks ominous. Five sentences equates to nine lines down. This author must have had a big box of surplus semicolons when he wrote this. Okay, the next three sentences are:

When he felt the chains around him, which prevented him from departing for the forest of Calidon, Merlin was immediately downcast; he remained sad and silent, with all mirth banished from his face, and he would neither speak nor laugh. Meanwhile the queen came into court to visit her lord. The king appluded her arrival, as was fitting; he took her hand and told her to sit, embracing her and pressing his lips to hers.

The king here was Rodarchus, a good time before Arthur. It turned out all right in the end, even though everyone in the story is now dead.

Now I want to know what purpose, if any, it serves. Also I have to foist this on five unfortunates. That might not be easy since most bloggers seem to stop blogging soon after I visit. The tenacious ones, those immune to my Comments of Doom, are ThatGreenyFlower, DrSharna, Liz Burton, David de Beer (I know he likes this sort of thing) and Silverwerecat.

That's most of the planet covered, I think, and nobody on that list is close enough to come round and give me a hiding. So I suppose I'd better go and tell them all what I've done.

Is this why the others stopped blogging when I turned up? Did they know this was going to happen? At least one of them is an astrologer, so you never know...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar eclipse

There is a total lunar eclipse tonight, but I won't see it because there's a planet in my way. It's visible from America (north and south) this evening.

See here for details.

If you're in the right place and free of clouds, have fun watching the moon change colour.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How to torment your children.

Sometimes, people tell me I have an unusual name. Well, it's better than being one of the millions of John Smith's out there and it could have been much, much worse.

I spotted this book on Amazon UK. You can look at an excerpt without buying it (a nice feature but I bought it anyway). Scroll on to the first page of names, and there you will see 'Herbert Slap Aldhous' and 'Onesiphorous Ankers', among others. All real names taken from birth, death and marriage records. Many of them made me feel really quite ordinary.

The British can be quite cruel to their children sometimes.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

IIBB Episode 4, Part 1 - The Paranormal

Sometimes when you search YouTube, you find something that's not really what you were looking for, but which ends up wasting most of the night anyway.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Guns again.

Another random shooting, this time in Illinois, has resulted in five dead plus the killer. He was apparently a model student, highly regarded by his teachers but was on medication - it's not specified in the news what the medication treated - which he had stopped taking.

I thought there were checks in place over there? I thought you had to wait, after ordering a gun, before you could collect it? If this guy was on medication for an aberrant mental condition (that's the impression I get from the news) did nobody think to check? It's all very well having 'the right to bear arms' but surely there are some cases where it's legitimate to restrict that right?

He bought his guns legally. Now the 'ban-guns' outcry is starting up again. Well, we banned guns here in the UK even though few people owned them anyway. I've never owned one. You can learn from our example.

Gun crime in the UK is at an all-time high. The criminals never obtained their guns legally in the first place. Banning them simply meant that the law-abiding handed theirs in. The criminals didn't. Now, you'd think that would have been obvious to everyone, right? Remember though, this is the government that now proposes to control juvenile crime by asking them awfully nicely if they wouldn't mind just not being so downright wicked. That should give you an idea of the sort of people who are in charge here.

Once the law-abiding handed in their guns, the criminals could be certain that they were now the only ones armed. They've been taking full advantage of this ever since.

There are no checks, no waiting periods, no restriction on gun-buying in the UK. The transactions take place in back-alleys and bars. The guns don't come with any registration or training and there is no guarantee they won't explode the first time you pull the trigger. Naturally, the only people buying them now are criminals. We ordinary folk aren't allowed them.

The school shooting in Illinois was a terrible event. There have been others in the past and there will no doubt be more in future. Before you Americans adopt the 'ban-guns' response, watch the British press for news.

We have no guns, yet there are more shootings now than ever before. Criminals, by definition, do not do what the law says. Their guns weren't legal in the first place.

Don't ban your guns. Improve your checking systems.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Even Valentine cards?

A legal expert has warned that sending a Valentine's day card 'could be construed as an unwanted sexual advance' and if you send (or have sent) one to a work colleague today, it could lead to a sexual harrassment claim.

Even Valentine cards are now seen as offensive weapons. So in this day and age, how do couples get together? How does it happen? Soon the act of saying 'hello' to the opposite sex will get your name on the sex offenders' register. Perhaps all the men should move to one side of the country and all the women to the other and we can set up a big fence down the middle. Will that satisfy the PC controllers? Perhaps we should all wear badges displaying our sexual orientation, religion and political affiliation. I seem to remember someone trying that about 70 years ago. As I recall, it didn't turn out to be a good thing.

I'm safe enough. I didn't get any and didn't send any either, but I bet there are a lot of people scrabbling to retrieve their internal mail at the moment.

One last thought - aren't Valentine cards supposed to be unsigned? So who do you sue? It'll be interesting to see if any cases come up.

Black and white and women and God.

I've been watching the US presidential doings with some interest. Purely academic interest because I'm on the other side of the planet and so nobody over there cares what I think about it, nor should they.

It's interesting to us Brits because we don't get the option you have. Our political parties choose the leader themselves. We only get to vote for the party. The current Head Buffoon, Gordon Brown (a name just begging for a parody of the old Stranglers' song, Golden Brown) took over from the Prince of Lies, Tony (I smile because I have no idea what's happening) Blair even though the Brown one was not voted as Prime Minibrain by the public. There is much resentment about this as well as about the lunatic ideas he keeps coming up with. He has proved to be as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle and has a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp. We really don't want the world to think we all look like that.

It seems you US folk get to decide who's going to be presidential candidate for each party first, then have an election to see who gets into the White House. I think that's a good idea. I also have the impression (not sure if it's right) that your President can't just hand over to anyone he likes if he gets a better offer.

Anyway, we get to hear about your candidates over here too.

Barack Obama looks like the leading contender at the moment. I like him. He gives the impression of honesty, which is good for a politician. I don't believe any politician in the world could possibly be really honest, but one who at least makes the effort is worth backing. There is contention in the press that he might have converted to Christianity for political ends. Well, he might have, he might not have. Who can tell, and does it matter really? Every politician knows that America would elect a syphylitic blue gay toothless gibbering basilisk before they would elect an atheist. Whether he's honest, whether he's Christian, doesn't matter. He looks the part. In politics that's most of the battle right there. Politics is a game of bluff. If he's bluffing, he's good at it and therefore good at politics.

The Press love to say he's running as 'the first black President'. From what I've seen, he's not. He's not pushing his skin colour (well, I only have filtered coverage over here. I don't know for sure).

Hilary Clinton is running as the 'first woman President'. It's not working for her because she whines too much. We had a woman Prime Minister once and she had more balls than the entire current government put together. There was none of this 'tears will get me my way' crap with Mrs. Thatcher. Stand in her way and she won't go around or over you. She'll go through. Politics is not for the tearful. Crying won't sway the UN or the Russians and everyone knows it. If Hilary wants to win she should have spent some time with the Iron Lady. There would then be no begging, and definitely no tears.

The only one that worries me is Mike Huckabee. He's running as 'the first President to sound rather like a Mark Twain character' or something and as far as I can tell, his only policy is to get creation taught as science.

Creationism is not science. It's belief. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, it's perfectly reasonable to believe in whatever religious doctrine you choose (except Scientology which is just mad). But it's not science. That's a different thing altogether and whether you think it's right or wrong, it's science. Huckleberry wants to impose Christian dogma on the science class but isn't likely to force the church to teach evolution as a potential alternative to creation. That's beyond unfair. It's silly.

If science, which holds evolution as a central tenet of geology, biology, history etc has to compromise, why doesn't religion?

I see no objection to teaching religious matters in schools. In a class labelled 'Religious Studies', all these things are legitimate. I recall my own experience of such a class at school, where the diminutive but determined catholic teacher taught us the Bible, over and over and over. We had only one immigrant at the time, a Pole who cared less about the subject than we did. We pointed out, often, that there were other religions to learn about such as Druidism (we were British children after all) but really we did this just to watch her face change colour. In fact, her class worked rather well because some of us spent a fair bit of time researching other religions to annoy her with.

Teaching religious beliefs in a science class is like teaching Spanish in a Latin class. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the material, it's just in the wrong place. The Latin teacher would be well within his/her rights to demand equal time in the Spanish class. Try that with the creationists. They believe the Earth is 6000 years old. Science believes it's older. Why is science's viewpoint less valid on this matter? Why do churches not present evolution as a valid alternative to creation? Evolution doesn't even preclude creation as far as I can tell. It could have been built in by a creator who recognised that things would change. Still, it's not science, and has no place in a science class.

Huckleberry is a fundamentalist and any fundamentalist is dangerous. Fortunately he's not doing too well as far as we in the UK can tell.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The laughable policeman.

Political correctness has infested our institutions to an appalling degree. The smug, self-righteous control freaks with those permanent tight smiles, hateful attitudes and blank eyes will not even allow the police to differentiate between a white suspect and a black suspect.

Told by a rape victim that her attacker was a tall, large black man, the police arrest a slim, short white guy who has never been to the town where the attack occurred and are determined to convict him. They're convinced he's the right man. All they need is for the victim to change her story.

He's now been cleared but is still tagged because the company that controls those tags is manned only by incompetent idiots. As is every government-run organisation these days.

This is insane. Quotas must be filled, and to hell with doing the job properly. The police didn't even apologise - they said they decided 'there was no realistic chance of a conviction'. In a real world, there should never have been an arrest. I'm very much against the 'compensation culture' that has developed in recent years, but in this one case I hope he sues hard enough to bankrupt that police force. We won't miss them. It's not as if they're interested in doing their jobs. Rather like our current crop of politicians, in that respect.

That lack of apology says it all, really. The conviction is the thing. Get the boxes ticked. It doesn't matter who you jail as long as you have someone in jail for each crime. It's no wonder organised crime laughs at the police. The Keystone Kops were more efficient.

It works both ways - in the comments below the story, one commenter describes how the police accused him of snatching an old lady's handbag. She described her attacker as being one white man so the police (the same Blind Division, presumably) arrested a couple of black boys.

This Government wants everyone's DNA on a national database. I wouldn't trust them with a photograph of the back of my head. With a hat on it. A more incompetent, idiotic, worthless band of oafs has never before soiled the seating of the House of Commons. They could all be replaced with baboons tomorrow and nobody would notice, until things started to improve.

I think I'll vote for the Raving Loony party next time. At least they're honest about it.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The monsters can’t touch me. I’m British.

I recall a very old film – can’t remember the title – which starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee as British scientists travelling by train across some uninhabited region of Europe. They had found a caveman frozen in ice, which unknown to them harboured an alien parasitic lifeform. The caveman stayed in the ice throughout the film, I think. It wasn’t that cheesy. The parasite managed to escape and inhabit the body of an unfortunate railway worker, and then hopped from body to body at will and, naturally, killed people.

At one point, officials searching the train opened the cabin occupied by Cushing and Lee, and said they needed to check everyone on the train because they had no idea who was currently the monster. Peter Cushing’s response will stay forever with me. In a tone of utter indignation, he exclaimed “Monster? We’re British!”

I’ve been thinking about that lately because of the attitudes of the politically correct socialist morons who currently infest our country. If they want to defend uncontrolled immigration, they say ‘Britain is composed entirely of immigrant races’. Which is true. Although none of those races were invited, although every one of them was met with violent resistance and none were housed and given benefits, it’s still true.

If they want to try making us all feel that ‘White Guilt’ that rages in their own veins, they remind us that we conquered and occupied a large chunk of the planet. Which is also true. It’s old history, I have never personally invaded anywhere and thus have no reason to feel their ridiculous guilt, but it’s true.

These people have no idea what it means to be British, yet they act in a truly British way. It doesn’t look like it, but they do.

The British are mongrels. Celts, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Romans, Normans – our rainy little island seems like an irresistible destination for most of the world’s people. It still does. I have no idea why. Yet this invasion sequence is very interesting to look at.

Celts and Gaels still have a hold here. Welsh and various forms of Gaelic persist in some parts. Angles and Saxons formed the core of the language that we call English but those Celts are still hanging on in there. This combination has proved indestructible.

The Vikings invaded but never really settled in most of Britain. Their preference was for the coast. Yet they settled. They won. Do we speak Scandinavian anywhere in the UK?

The Romans did rather well. They controlled most of the UK for a long time. Their structures and relics are still being found to this day. Do we speak Latin, or even Italian, in any part of the UK?

The Normans did well too. They subjugated the entire country. Britain was lost, a country now under the rule of a French king. But wait—do we speak French anywhere in the UK?

These invaders came and beat the previous population. Or did they? Which side assimilated the other? Britain is still Britain. The British are still the British. English is still the language here. Winning against the Brits isn’t like winning against anyone else. We absorb you. We assimilate you. Resistance is futile. Yes, the capital of the Borg is London.

Look at the opposite scenario. Those places that used to be part of the British Empire. Which language is spoken in many of them now? That convoluted, impossible-to-master-even-if-you’re-born-into-it, mish-mash of other languages called English. When the British invaded other countries, how often did they give up their language and traditions and assimilate into those countries? Never. How often did they bend those countries’ traditions and language to their will? Almost every time.

This race has been formed from the fighting men of every invading race in Europe. Because it’s an island, it was less easy for peaceable folk to migrate here. The warriors came. The nastiest, toughest, most vicious control freaks of the world invaded here in wave after wave. They were all assimilated into the British way because by the time it had formed, it was a way that suited those people. A controlling, invading, subjugating way. The British Empire was an inevitable outcome. It could have been predicted from Roman times. If you want to blame someone for the Empire, blame all those foreigners who brought their cruelty genes to our population and formed a race filled with such easy malice, such cool blooded cruelty, that they became unstoppable. We are not one. We are legion. Every one of us.

We do not rage in the streets like the hot-blooded races of the world. We are calm and focused in battle. There are races who proudly boast that their soldiers are not afraid to die. The true British don’t believe they can die. “I’m afraid I couldn’t possibly come along with you, Mr. Death. You see, we haven’t been formally introduced.” If the British have been going to Hell, then by now you won’t get in there without a tie.

The Empire fell because the British can’t help fighting other people. We also can’t help fighting one another and trying to control each other. The fall of that empire was as certain as its formation. It was too big. Too many petty internal squabbles, too much competitive ambition, too much cruelty. The invaded peoples rebelled, one by one, and who can blame them? The same British arrogance and overbearing self-confidence destroyed the empire as surely as it created the thing.

Nowadays the British don’t travel the world to invade places quite so often. We’re an old race and prefer to stay home. So we wait for them to come to us, to invade again, to replenish our gene pool with new youth, to boost that vitality we used to have. In the meantime, we fight amongst ourselves.

That’s why the Politically Correct are acting in a British way. Control and subjugate. They can’t do it overseas these days so they try it here. Once, these people would have been High Commissioners in some country or other. Denied their birthright, they turn on their fellows. It’s in their genes. Trouble is, it’s in everyone else’s too.

Look at that PC attitude of ‘Everything I say is right even when it’s patently nonsense, and your opinion is that of an uneducated oaf'. Compare it with the leaders of Empire. It’s exactly the same. All that’s missing is the direction – the PC direction will not get Brits to follow it. If they directed their efforts outwards, there’d be another Empire by next week. It would probably fall apart the following week but we’d just start again.

The next invasion will come. We’ll fight it but it will win, and it will win because we need it to win. A hundred years later, those invaders will speak English. They’ll put the tea in the cup before the milk. They will look down their noses at any race speaking any language other than English and they’ll definitely, one day, try to take over the world again. Wearing neat uniforms which they’ll apologise for bleeding on, they’ll be back.

Peter Cushing’s words sounded like humour. I’ll bet you laughed at that opening. I’ll bet you’re not laughing now.

He was right. No monster would attack a Brit. No monster would dare try. The Devil himself would have to think very hard before taking us on.

When it comes to monsters, we’re out of their league.

Bending time.

I'm no physicist. I just want to be clear on that. The subject does come up with some fascinating things though. If I'd been better at mathematics, I'd have been interested in taking that route.

This week, New Scientist talks about time travel. Again, you can't see all of it unless you subscribe or get hold of a copy but here's the gist of it (based on my limited understanding).

In 2008, the Large Hadron Collider starts up. I don't know for sure what a hadron is or how big it is, but the LHC is very big indeed. It will accelerate tiny particles to enormous speeds and smash them into each other. This is what happens when you let child-geeks play marbles, you realise. They can't just stick with the little glass balls. They have to develop the theme - to make it harder they use subatomic particles and massive magnets to accelerate them. It does sound like enormous fun. I wonder if 'Hadron' is Greek for 'marble'?

The thing is, this LHC sends particles so fast that their collisions could rip a hole in space-time and form a wormhole to the future. A very little wormhole, only big enough for subatomic particles to pass through, but it would nonetheless be the first definite transport of an object through time.

The article says that 'time travel, if it's possible at all, would only be possible as far back as the invention of the first time machine'. I didn't (and still don't fully) understand why this would be but I suspect it's to do with the wormhole idea. A wormhole created in the future would have to link to one in the past. We've never created a wormhole yet. Until we do, the future people can't link to it. Something like that. I think. If the calculations of physics are right, we could be on the verge of the time travel era but only as far back as now. That's great for people in the future but not a lot of use to us.

One of the biggest and most convincing arguments against time travel is this: If people in the future manage to invent time travel, why have none of them come back to see us?

It's always been a flawed argument. Anyone who claims to have come from the future ends up in the rubber room. So maybe some have come back. Anyone with sense would come back in time armed with horse-racing and football results and some winning lottery numbers. They'd keep a low profile, gradually build up a fortune and retire. They would not announce they were from the future, because their history books will tell them that in the 2000's, anyone claiming to be a time traveller ended up in a rubber room. They might be here. They're probably not. According to the theory of wormholes, they can't be--but they might be once the LHC starts up. Don't bother saving the lottery results until after that happens. Then save them all. Your great-great-grandchildren will make a fortune with that information. Perhaps they already have.

There is, of course, the pessimistic view that states that nobody from the future has come back to see us for a much simpler reason.

There isn't one.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Snow joke.

It snowed last night. The news portrayed this as a Big and Terrible Thing.

Big deal. It's February. Snow is not unexpected in Scotland. It's not unexpected any time between November and May. I've seen hail in June.

I remember building snowmen, snow-Tyrannosaurs, even a snow-Stegosaur using plates of ice for the back spines. No more. There hasn't been a winter with enough snow for any of these for years. Last was a snow-Marge Simpson, which I have a photo of somewhere. It was at least nine years back.

I remember coming out of a house in Cardiff and wondering which of the white mounds was my car. Then thinking that it didn't matter because even if I found it, there was no chance of driving it anywhere. As I recall, it had a broken starter motor at the time. I wasn't going to crawl under it in that weather.

I remember opening my door to go to work, finding three feet of snow resting against it, shutting the door, phoning in and going back to bed.

There has been no really bad snow in the UK for about ten years. Yet we get reports of 'oh dear, terrible snow has hit and cars are crashing'.

Photographs show cars off the road, in a ditch, with snow barely touching their axles. News reports show people talking of terrible weather with a light dusting of white stuff--almost a talcum-powder covering--in the background.

I have driven home from a party in total darkness, no street lights, for fifty miles on a road that was so deep in snow you couldn't see the edges of it. I did this in an ageing Ford Fiesta so worn that in daylight, you could see light between the door and its frame. The car was painted with Hammerite to hide its rust and it was transgenic - bits of other cars were welded to it to keep it together. Blizzards blanked out all view of the road ahead once in a while so progress was a crawl (never stop!). It was no fun at all but it was possible. Even in that monstrosity.

Last night I went to visit a few friends. We had whisky in mind so I walked there. The roads were glass-smooth and difficult to walk on yet cars shot by as though they were driving in the summer heat. They could have hit their brakes with the weight of obesity, it would have made no difference. There is no respect for nature now. Ice isn't a plaything, it isn't just something the news men put out to scare drivers. Modern drivers believe their cars, and themselves, are indestructible. Then they crash in snow that would barely slow a sensible driver. I blame computer games. Everyone thinks the 'Game Over' comes up after three lives. Bad news - it comes up after one.

All those strandings, all those crashes, have nothing to do with bad weather.

It's bad driving.