Posts tagged ‘lies & statistics’

The government has decided to ‘help’ the car industry by giving a £2000 discount on new cars if you scrap a car that’s more than 10 years old.

The discount will be funded 50/50 by the government and the industry.

Before you party too much, lets take a look at the figures…

You know that £2000 50/50? Well, car manufacturers are amongst the only industry to have put their list prices up this year. A Ford Focus convertible (for example) is a £1000 more expensive than last year. That £1000 that will now be discounted in this scheme.

You know the carbon that this will save? Well, lets assume you drive a ten year old Jeep Cherokee 3.7l Automatic – you know, a good low emissions car. That chugs through 333g of carbon/km. Replacing it with a new car will generate 10-20000lb of carbon. I’ll do the maths for you… you could do 17,000miles on the carbon generated just by the production of your new car.

Assume you replaced your Jeep with a Prius. That Prius is still generating 103g/km… So with the fuel your Prius has burnt on those 17,000 miles, you could do another 6,000 miles in the Jeep.

You’re looking at over 25,000 miles before the Prius’ even coming close…

So, we’re supporting a crap industry who are ‘discounting’ money they’ve already added while the world is in recession. We’re pumping out carbon for no gain. We’re destroying our future classic cars by crushing good quality cars that have yet to start appreciating back up past the £2000 mark.

I’m really rather disappointed.

I put in a Freedom of Information Act request regarding the 13 miles of speed averaging cameras that monitor the road between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

Like all such cameras they are front facing, so they can’t catch motorbikes and they have to deal with the glare of headlights. This doesn’t seem much like a ‘safety’ measure to me. If you want to encourage safe driving, surely you would want to have an effect at night, when the roads are more dangerous? You’d also want to keep an eye on those soft and squidgy fast moving types on motorbikes, wouldn’t you? If all you were interested in was making some money, wouldn’t you aim the cameras at the front of the cars where you can take photos of the drivers of cars?

So, I asked for information on how many cars, bike and lorries were given fines every months, broken down by time of day. My expectation was that there would be no bikes at all and that cars and lorries wouldn’t be caught at night.

The response came back today.

Cambridgeshire Police have refused the request on the grounds of law and health and safety…

“For camera enforcement to be truly effective there must be the perception that the chances of being recorded are high at all times”.

“The disclosure of specific data on camera sites would make camera deployment less effective, which would impact on the safety of road users at large”

So, in short, they have refused to tell me about the effectiveness of speed cameras on reducing speeding because they don’t work well enough for the data not to make people think they are crap.

Well done boys…

Sep 2008
4 in a million

So, where do you come from? Where has your family gone?

According to this little flash effort, my family surname is down to 4 in a million in the UK. We’re densest (shh you) in a region of New Zealand, but otherwise unheard off in the country. And in the UK we’re mainly in Liverpool and Cardiff.

How does your surname compare…?

At some time in the not to distant future, a collection of men with egg shaped heads will decide it’s time to power up the Large Hadron Collider. It’s a big and scary bit of science which plans to recreate the first few nanoseconds of the Big Bang.

Not surprisingly, this has spooked some people. If, they say, the plan is to recreate the big bang, how do you know that you won’t do a very good job of it and, well, create a new universe in the middle of this one? Worse still, they fret, what about if you accidentally create a black hole in the fields under Switzerland?

Says the man from CERN:

Any microscopic black holes produced at the LHC are expected to decay by Hawking radiation before they reach the detector walls. If some microscopic black holes were stable, those produced by cosmic rays would be stopped inside the Earth or other astronomical bodies. The stability of astronomical bodies constrains strongly the possible rate of accretion by any such microscopic black holes, so that they present no conceivable danger.

You see? The eggy men take the concerns very seriously. So seriously in fact that they’re willing to back it up with maths!

Look, it’s a 10^-19 chance, and you’ve got a 10^-11 chance of suddenly evaporating while shaving.

Well, that told you!

The thing is, that it’s still possible. And if it does all go wrong and we get sucked into a black hole then the chances are that it’s going to happen slowly enough for us to have a good old panic about it. How quickly? Well that’s a good question, and one that I couldn’t have answered if I was stone cold sober. Since I’m not, I’ll give it a shot…

Until this time, the suckiest of sucky things took 3 years to destroy 34mi2 of English countryside. It started in 1964 when the government had ‘an idea’ and ended on 23rd Jan 1967. Everything that’s happened in that troubled land since 1967 has been of complete insignificance and has been ignored by everyone outside the event horizon.

Unfortunately this means that it would take the best part of a decade for the black hole to swallow the Swiss and it would be nearly fifty years before trains stopped leaving the Channel Tunnel. Maybe we need to adjust our opinions of suck before black holes get the reputation of being as dangerous as garlic bread on a first date.

Either way, it’s obvious that we need to be prepared. As in all the planet threatening disasters that Hollywood has informed us of, the most important thing to do is find a member of the opposite sex, look them in the eye very seriously and ask “do you really want to die a virgin?”

Once we all stop thinking about knotting virgins up and dumping them in beetroot juice to make tie-dye virgins, we come to what is obviously the most serious concern we have. Some of us here may not be virgins. Shocking, but true. So I have come up with an alternative…

Should the LHC go all black holey, everyone will be issued with a kink and a member of the opposite sex (sorry to those who want a same sex partner – Hollywood has informed us that you don’t exist in disasters). It will be your duty to look your assigned person in the eye and say to them “The black hole is coming. Do you really want to die without taking part in a furry bukakke scat orgy with midgets and nuns?”