Monday, August 06, 2007

re-Considering the Environment

To update the post below, I noticed last week that our printed emails at work no longer included the environmental plea. Instead, it only shows at the bottom of our email window, as it should.

Since our IT department is apparently among my readership (okay, they comprise my readership in its totality) here is another thing they could do to convince us to change our printing habits: change the message to “please consider the bottom line…and your paycheck!” The fact is that wasted company resources will diminish company profitability, resulting in either higher fees to our clients, loss of value to our stock owners, or decrease of funding to the payroll department. Now that’s motivation!

You’ll note that in both the US and the UK the populations operate a large number of automobiles. These populations are subjected to the same environmental agenda on a daily basis by the media and the same plea to reduce consumption. Yet only in the one country with financial penalties for owning large vehicles - in the form of outrageous petrol taxes for which US politicians could expect to be, well, shot – do we find frequent ownership of small, fuel-efficient vehicles. Warm and fuzzy slogans will never accomplish anything where brute economics are necessary.

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...or not to pass.

And now it’s time for a slice of humble pie. I took my driving test in Falkirk and managed to fail in the first three minutes, making the remaining 37 minutes largely an exercise in futility save for perhaps some practice in emotional restraint. I managed to mess up on my reverse parking, thanks to my late signal and a car behind that choose to back up instead of pass me. I guess it goes to show that 10 years of mostly good driving is not a good indication of whether or not one can still pass a driving exam.

On the bright side, if our appeal is rejected by the Home Office, I may be able to trade in my US license for an UK one, thus bypassing the test entirely.

One observation about the difference between an US and UK driving test is that the former is executed with the goal of allowing people to pass, while the later is executed in the hopes of identifying reasons to fail. This is of course done to keep unsafe teenagers off the streets, no doubt by some government official trying to meet a road death reduction target. It almost certainly helps to achieve this, but not in the manner intended by the government. Teenagers are unsafe drivers not because they might, Heaven forbid, signal to turn whilst simultaneously checking their mirrors instead of checking and then signaling; they are unsafe because they don’t take safety seriously while doing 80 in a 40 zone at 3:00 in the morning. They are unsafe because they talk to their friends over 172 db music and cannot see due to the fog formed inside the vehicle by the vibrations (depending on temperature, dew point, and humidity). The road is safer because it keeps some of them off the streets, period.

Having thus criticized the test, it must be said that it should be somewhat harder as driving is much more difficult in the UK than in the states thanks to the necessity of forcing 21st century traffic on an 18th century road system. I suppose that, should the Middle Eastern surgeons now working for the NHS ever figure out how to ignite a bomb without igniting themselves, doing to Britain what the Allies did to Germany, the British public can look forward to a modern transportation network of the first rate – traveling, of course, on the wrong side.

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