Thursday, September 05, 2013

A 11 Mystery

Now you see it – now you don't

Congratulations to the EDP of 22 August for providing the impressive 
overhead views of the A11 dual carriageway work between Thetford and 
Barton Mills. According to the report, the Secretary of State for 
Transport, Patrick McLoughlin was impressed with the work that had been 
carried out.

The Secretary of State is very easily impressed.

Thearticle did contain one glaring error. Preliminary work started in 
June 2012 -- not in Jan 2013 as the EDP stated. The scheduled finish 
date is Winter 2014.

I know this because for a long time I was convinced the completion date 
was December 2013 and not as it is still more than a year away.

Anyway you care to slice it, they are taking two and a half years to 
build a 9.1 mile road with one small stream to cross and one village to 
be by-passed. That's about 3 and a half months per mile! Oh, yes did I 
mention it's as flat as a pancake?

One wonders which geniuses planned this work. Surely the Elveden by-pass 
section should have been done first. It would have been opened by now - 
greatly easing the congestion and inconvenience.

I seldom travel this road, but recently went to London and back twice in 
a week. I counted the number of men working to complete this project. 
There were 4.2 men per mile. With a workforce numbering that high the 
Great Wall of China would just about be half finished!

Never mind the cost – now estimated at £102 million.  Don't forget this is for only half a carriageway – except for the Elveden by-pass section only one new carriageway will be built – the rest will utilise the existing A 11.
Today they are falling all over themselves and breaking their arms trying to pat themselves on the back because they think they might be “ahead of schedule”. What a laugh!  (Note they are still predicting a winter 2014 opening date.)  The momentous news today is they might open one section of the carriageway whilst they do some work on the other. I may be sick!
Sorry the idiots who plan the work should be shot.  The idiots who do the work are just in cahoots with the others.  “Let's drag the work out for as long as possible – we can employ far fewer workers and have lots of tea breaks.”
it's a disgrace.! 

Thursday Morning Coming Down

Lost somewhere, sometime along the way?

I woke up this morning and I was feeling bad. (Don't worry, I'm not going to grab the guitar and sing The Blues, at least not yet).

It felt as if I was living a great Blues lyric, Sunday Morning Coming Down - “Then I washed my face and combed my hair, And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.” It was a Thursday.

I passed the central heating controls and flipped the heating on. It was May 30th. Had there been a climate change professor, a climate change Nazi, a climate change guru or a climate change capitalist with bulging pockets handy I would have gleefully chopped them up and put them on the bonfire. I could have masked the smell with sodden leaves from the garden.

Got breakfast. Heat still on. Braced myself to walk the dog. Put on my two fleeces, my scarf and my K.C. Chiefs hat and headed down the path. Dog may have preferred to go via the football club, but far too cold. Football club walk is exposed to the north wind.

Got home. Picked up the paper and turned to the weather section. The EDP is getting clever these days – burying the weather deep on page 14. It used to be on page two. Forecast for today – cloudy with high of 11 degrees. Yes, that's 52 degrees F. Wind off the North Sea at 10-20 mph. EDP page 12 headline – Grey skies fail to dampen spirits as thousands flock to Suffolk Show. (The capacity of English people to delude themselves never ceases to amaze me – this explains the “stiff upper lip” - it's frozen in that position!)

Meanwhile on page 11 comes the startling revelation that the “UK cut the most emissions across the EU in 2011”. France and Germany also cut theirs. Leader of the pack was Finland which cut emissions by 10%. Wooden spoon goes to Bulgaria whose levels rose by 9.6% in the same period. Anyone spotting a correlation here?

Back at the ranch, the EU is still in the grip of recession with millions of poor people suffering unemployment and cuts to their living standards. Any correlation here?

On page 14 we have an exciting development at the Wymondham Medical Practice. They have obtained planning permission to install a “biomass woodchip boiler to improve its green credentials”. I got confused. I stupidly thought that by burning wood (a carbon based organic material) Wymondham Medical would be adding to the greenhouse gasses. Apparently not. According to my research, burning wood does not count, because it is carbon extracted from the atmosphere in the first place to make the tree. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, are carbon based organic material extracted from the atmosphere millions of years ago. Clear? It's just a question of time – apparently.

Time to draw breath.

Only a few brave scientists and public figures question the premise that global warming (if it exists) is caused by burning fossil fuels. Their concerns are seldom, if ever, given much publicity. Humans would much rather believe that danger is imminent and we are, Dad's Army-like, “doomed”.

Recent evidence has thwarted the climate change brigade. The rise in global temperature has either stopped or slowed to a trickle in the last five years. Lot's of carbon is being burned but little seems to be causing any global warming.

So, in the midst of the coldest spring in living memory here in the UK what conclusions can we draw?

It's always been super obvious to me that putting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is going to cause global warming. But, folks who ought to know better seem to discount the ability of Gaia to cope with fluctuations in atmospheric carbon. More carbon in the atmosphere enables more plant growth. More carbon in the atmosphere enables the oceans to absorb more and oceanic creatures to use it to build shells and coral reefs. (Not sure? Check out the White Cliffs of Dover!)

Ah, say the nutters – it's not the change that's important it's the pace of change.

Let's see, how about some historical evidence. In general the climate has been getting warmer for about the last 12 000 years. Long before any fossil fuels were being used – or even discovered. What triggered this warming? You could spend all day and give yourself a serious Excedrin Headache Number 426 in the process reading about this very question. The theories are manifold. Some might even have elements of sound thinking in them. What is beyond dispute is no-one really knows for sure. But the Ice Age did end and global temperatures began to rise. They are still rising today.

Without real evidence how about a bit of logic? Where does the heat for this planet come from? The sun. Even fervent climate-changers will agree on this. What is then the most likely source of global warming? The sun.

What can we do to obviate the global warming if the primary cause is fluctuations in the sun's radiation? Nothing.

But this does not sell newspapers.

Sine qua non.

Hope Springs - Again

Chiefs Prospects 2013-14

Another year – another chance to be optimistic, or possibly realistic, for the latest incarnation of the 65 Toss Power Trap – and if you don't know what that is then you had better find out quickly or you are no Chiefs fan!

First let's look at the team from the top down. A new General Manager – and long overdue. We shall not mention the previous incumbent except to say that his football career is over. Scott Pioli is currently an NFL informationalist for NBC Sports' Football Night in America and NBC Sports Network's Pro Football Talk. Nuff said?

John Dorsey is now the man. Hid credentials are impressive. He has overseen the draft and free agency. Now he will be judged on results.

New coach – Andy Reid – he was not my choice and I still feel that the Chiefs rushed into hiring him. He has a winning record as an NFL head coach. He has had many months to evaluate the team and oversee the draft and training camp. He must now prove that he is not a stop-gap. Poor old Romeo Crennel. I can't find his current employment on the net. He was a proven NFL coach with experience. He lost 14 games last season. Reid cannot do worse. Or could he? If he does he will be a one-hit wonder and gone before you can say Hank Stram.

On to the team – for it is the players who play, the coaches just coach.

On offense we start with the QB. One thing we did learn last season is that without an NFL QB you are not going to win games of football. To their credit the management took this on board and brought in Alex Smith from the 49ers. He is a proven QB. With the right weapons and the right system he will prosper. We all have high hopes and hopefully he will deliver. But, if not, there are some intriguing subs in the frame. Chase Daniel was brought in to be the back-up and the Chiefs ditched Ricky Stanzl – who never took an NFL snap – to sign and keep as number three QB Tyler Bray. One for the future? Apparently he is making great strides and impressing the coaches. Could be very interesting if Smith gets injured. Bottom line – the Chiefs have rightly concentrated on upgrading the QB position and have, on paper, done a good job. Unfortunately, the game isn't played on paper.

Next to the QB the most important part of the offense is the O-line. Chiefs were dreadful – if even that good – last season as the years and lack of talent caught up with them. So, they quite rightly drafted tackle Eric Fisher as the Number 1 pick in the NFL draft. Then they promptly moved him to right tackle to accommodate the returning Branden Albert. ??

The rest of the personnel are adequate. The Chiefs have to run the ball. The O-line has to be able to run block and also protect Smith. They look better. The guards look ok-ish. The center is ok-ish. The depth is a concern. If they miss out on the injury stakes and Fisher develops they could be a force in the AFL West. Fingers (and toes) are crossed.

Running back – we have a premier NFL running back in Jamaal Charles. The back-ups are beginning to look better and better. The full-back has been strengthened. If Charles stays healthy and does not have to have 25 touches a game then things look rosy in the garden.

Receivers – much has been made of the Andy Reid-type passing game, where, apparently, a nine-yard completion is a long-gainer. We may be in for a surprise. But, apart from the enigmatic Dwayne Bowe the rest of the corps looks unimpressive. Jon Baldwin – a former number one pick – never settled and departed. I can see struggles ahead for this group.

Special teams look good – possibly very good. A new coach and an emphasis on this phase of the game has brought rewards in the pre-season. Colquitt is a class act and Succop is ok – remembering that the life of an NFL kicker is fraught with crises. Look forward to a big improvement in the return game.

On to the defense. Last year they struggled simply because they could not get off the field and the offense was a “three-and-out-machine”. Improved offense will sort that one, so what are the prospects?

The front three now look more like it. Poe in the middle should benefit from a year's experience. The line-backing corps now has some depth and some skill. Look for a big improvement here as well. The Chiefs spent some time and some effort on the secondary which has been revamped. New personnel must get quickly and get better fast. The pass rush was almost non-existent last year. If this season is no different then 8-8 might be a pipe dream!

Bottom line? Chiefs will be better on defense. That's not saying too much since they could hardly be worse.

Prediction time.

NFL pundits have the Broncos as the class act in the AFL West. Some think the Chiefs might make a wild-card spot. Some see 8-8 and some improvement.

Chiefs fans are always optimists. Don't forget by finishing 2-14 we get an “easy” schedule. Manning could be over the hill? Or get injured? We need to get out of the blocks fast and see where that leads us.

Win the first two and go from there.

Hope – again – springs eternal.