Driving Licences

spoof driving licence I’ve just renewed my driving licence. Mine was age-related but do you know that a driving licence only lasts 10 years? Most people (estimated at 80%) are, in theory, driving without a valid licence.

The real miscreants are much harder to unearth. Who checks anyway? Those expensive traffic signs on motorways have cameras. They can check us as we pass!

It’s OK to bash the young: an 18-year-old driver is more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash as a 48 year-old. One in five new drivers has a crash within six months of passing their test. Young male drivers have much higher crash rates than young female drivers. Young male drivers aged 17-20 are seven times more at risk than all male drivers – but between the hours of 2am and 5am their risk is 17 times higher. They can’t help themselves. Their brains have not developed any understanding of fear.

Recognise that one in three cars on the road are likely to be uninsured. One in ten 18 to 34 yr-olds don’t even know you need insurance, and many can’t afford the premiums anyway. Why bother? If caught the police can issue £300 fixed penalty. If caught is the problem. When did you last see a policeman?

You can renew a licence online but it takes guts, and you are soon aware that the authorities want to know all about you. This is no longer a free society. Before you start the application process you need a government ID. This is the back door to an ID card.

Understandably they ask for your name. I got that wrong when applying. I no longer use my middle names, but they show on my old licence. The government software was intolerant, unable to cope with that omission, so I had to cancel that application, leave the site, and re-enter all the details again.

That was the first hurdle. My name. Followed by address. OK, I’ve been here for over three years so jumped that hurdle with ease. Then we had date of birth, place of birth, mother’s maiden name. Managing all of those I clicked through to the next page.

It goes on and on. I start to get worried when it asks for my email eddress. It needs a memorable date, a memorable name, my memory begins to fail: will I remember all these details? Will I be rejected? No longer be able to call myself an Englishman?

The intrusion continues. Driving licence number is fair enough but National Insurance Number? Then my Passport number is required. I realise, horror of horrors, that they will use my passport photograph on the new driving licence. Forever I will be labelled as a convict – that photo is awful!

As I get close to the end of the application pages I’m told that they are checking the details I’ve supplied with third parties! Who are these third parties? The KGB or CIA? My bank, the secretary of the local gardening club, the police?

I’m beaten into submission and click my agreement, and move onto the final section. I swear that all I’ve entered on this web site is true, so help me. I know I’ll be incarcerated for life if I’ve made a mistake. I promise faithfully to cut my existing licence in half (at least) immediately. I know it’s an offence to possess more than one licence, and I will return the cut halves to DVLC.

It’s a worry. Not least because David Cameron said, years ago, that a driving licence was really important. Perhaps we should be forced to produce one when we vote? He also promised that the Union Flag would be added to the licence. Clearly that cannot now be done as we don’t know if Scotland is leaving.

‘I’m a free man,’ I’ll shout as they led me away.

Monarchy Returns

crownShould our Monarch be given more power?

This is not a question for a simple blog but it does need to be considered.

Many people are disenchanted with the present system of government. Something of an autocracy run by kids with little or no experience, except that gained from privilege.

That may always have been the case, and is not its major fault provided wise heads can be seen bobbing in the background.

The real problem is short-term (ism). Five years and it’s all change unless we are really unlucky and they are elected for a second, or forbid it please, a third. They then get so arrogant anything can happen. They could even allow another country to be invaded for no good reason.

Over the centuries we’ve had several good monarchs. Our determination allowed us to cover over one third of the world map pink (that’s one reason why I have a pink car – memories are made of such).

They were able to execute (perhaps we’d be kind and just remove) anyone who looked like trouble, or was getting too big for their boots.

Importantly they gave us stability. You knew where you were with a Monarch.

Prince CharlesOur Queen is now starting to share some of her responsibilities with her son, Prince Charles. He is an unsung hero. If every political leader had achieved what he has already managed in his lifetime, we’d still be a great power.

That’s my thought for today. Give our Sovereign back some of the power stolen by politicians. Knowing that you can’t be deposed by a stupid electorate is very useful. Believing that your future rests with Great Britain and does not rely upon a bunch of foreign investors allows long-term planning.

We need to believe in Great Britain again. Is it to late to include our Dominions, once known as Greater Britain? Who knows. The Earl of Loudon lives in Australia. He has a direct line of descent from the Plantagenets, and a better claim to the throne than the Saxe-Coburg.

Tax exile MNo Farah

Tax exile Mo Farah

I do know that Mo Farah… our erstwhile hero has fallen prey to Mammon and is now a tax exile. We gave him everything but he’s no wish to pay anything back.

Your Help

You and me have a task ahead of us.

What I’m really saying is I need your help. Our literary heritage is in danger.

The book trade in England has seen its turnover considerably reduced. We could help.

There are several reasons why the book trade is in trouble:

Libraries no longer buy many books. There was a time when any new book could expect to sell a few hundred copies. It kept small publishers in business. You would not have had Harry Potter without a small(ish) publisher. That’s no longer the case. Cuts have reduced the number of libraries, let alone the books they buy.

Supermarkets (when will we realise they are the curse of the age?) decided a few years ago to sell books. Problem has been that they only want fast-selling books. Profit is the driving force.

We have lost bookshops. The knowledgeable old duffers or (I speak personally) attractive lady who looked after bookshops of old are no longer there. All that knowledge cast aside by Mammon.

How can you help? Only by helping me. It’s the only suggestion I have.

I’ve been publishing books for over thirty years. None have ever sold in quantity, partly because I’ve never rally tried to sell them. Now that has to change. This pensioner now knows penury.

You can buy my books through Amazon – there’s a graphic link on the left of this page.

Here’s a catalogue of the current list of good books. I call this my religious list, only because the first four titles have a spiritual element: they are not evangelistic but are a good read.

I’ll come back later with some more books, especially poetry as they are notoriously difficult to sell. In the meantime download the catalogue. Have a considered look, then go to your local bookshop or use the Amazon link, or any other online bookshop, or contact me (contact page above).

These are books that rarely make bookshops but do form part of our literature. Forget best-sellers. These middle-range authors have much more to offer.

Enjoy your day

Thought for the Day

Thought for the DayNot sure I always feel in control. That must be the same for many of us. You wake in the morning – no doubt full of the joys (if not stop the alcohol!) – wondering how the day will pan out.

That’s the ideal state. My normal way of life, as an old duffer now rejected by age from the norms of society.

Would I really want to get back into the rat-race? To jump out of bed, stuffing toast down a reluctant gullet as I race off to work – or to sit in the first traffic jam. To wonder just how sincere my boss will be today, or will this be the day in which I am ‘let go’. What a damnable expression that is. Why can’t they say, ‘get out, you are sacked, we don’t want you any longer’?

It’s a day to reflect upon the nature of life. What are we all doing here? Why do we worry about the car we drive, the influence we have upon others, or even what’s on the TV tonight or if ‘our’ football team will win?

Food, shelter, warmth with a bit of sex occasionally (for those able to procreate). That’s what we all need. Beyond that it’s a bonus. Someone said when asked about growing old, ‘be grateful that you are still alive’. That makes a lot of sense.

Alive for what? Are we here to be exploited? To help others gain wealth and power? Should we stand by whilst our wonderful world is destroyed by concrete and pollution?

Many species in our ‘civilised’ England are slowly being minimised. Should we care that farmers are ripping out hedges (homes for other species) and spraying obnoxious chemicals everywhere? Does our use of energy make sense?

I’ve no simple answers to such questions. If you wish I’ll sit down and give you both explanations and alternatives.

For today just be content with your own thoughts.

Thorium Update 1

You may recall a short piece about the use of Thorium as low-radiation risk nuclear fuel, see http://www.trevorlockwood.com/?p=452.  Its use is advocated by many countries, so I asked Dr Therese Coffey MP, my local Member of Parliament, for an opinion.

National Nuclear LaboratoryVery quickly she has replied, saying that the government needs to explore all he options, and had asked the NNL, National Nuclear Laboratory, to consider the use of Thorium.

They suggest that Thorium is of only limited use in the UK but within the report there are few, if any, substantive reasons to support their opinions.

The letter suggests that the NNL estimate 10-15 years of research, and that it is unlikely to be relevant to Sizewell C.

There are a number of organisations worldwide who hold opposing views to the NNL. I’m passing on the information gained so far, and asking for opinions.

What do you think? https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/65504/6300-comparison-fuel-cycles.pdf

Dr Therese Coffey MP

Dr Therese Coffey MP

I must thank Dr Coffey for her immediate response to this interesting question.

Energy is a huge question. I looked at the work of Nicola Tesla, whose pioneering work in electricity poses more questions in a recent blog: Limitless Energy

 

 

 

Limitless Energy

It’s not difficult to believe that we are all being conned. In lots of ways. One of the most important is in the supply of energy. At present we rely upon pulling oil and gas out of the earth, where organic matter has been slowly changing over millions of years. The results of this chemical transformation are now burnt, in a fraction of time, to make energy. There’s no thought about how future generations will be able to produce energy, when we have used up all the oil and gas.

Fracking diagramFor now we are keeping up. Fracking allegedly will provide the next platform for our society, which relies entirely upon the creation of energy, usually electricity.

Over the years there’s been rumours. We can split apart the atoms of water, using the hydrogen for energy, releasing the oxygen. All sorts of perpetual motion machines have been tried.

Now we look towards alternative sources of energy, solar, wind, tidal, with the old school constantly telling us that only fossil fuels will do the job. For those involved in the oil and gas industries it really is a gravy train. Turn the tap and out comes black gold. Governments love the stuff because it can easily be taxed.

Nicola TeslaAt the turn of the 20th Century a Serb, Nicola Tesla, emigrated to the USA. He met Thomas Edison, then building an electricity network that relied upon direct current. Tesla explained alternating current, and its advantages. Edison’s saw Tesla as a serious competitor.

Tesla was a brilliant inventor, and we have to thank him for radar, radio, neon, fluorescent lamps and much more.

He showed how to transmit electricity without the use of wires. He faced opposition. His laboratory was burnt to the ground, losing years of work.

By 1899 he started work on trapping power from the ionosphere. Limitless power that the people of the world could share. That seemed to work, and he also discovered that our own brain waves could be manipulated.

Was he alone? Perhaps not. There’s theories that suggest the Mayans and the Egyptians made electricity, indeed the pyramids are generators of electricity and the Ark of the Covenant was a capacitor, lodged inside a pyramid. Pyramids_of_Egypt

Fascinating – and mysterious. Unfortunately it may just be greed that prevents us being able to use this technology today.

Here’s two links that may open a new world for you to pursue this fascinating subject:

Egyptians used electricity: http://youtu.be/vuINhmT3V8Y

The missing secrets of Nikola Tesla: http://youtu.be/7r-3FNtgOFM

Alternatives to War Machine

Sometimes it is necessary to reconsider our institutions. Our armed forces are now being reduced, the Army from 100,000 to 80,000 full-time soldiers. The present thinking is to replace those career soldiers with a part-time force, people who have other jobs.

Vickers_machine_gun_crew The first question to ask is do we need a military arm at all. The Romans never had a standing army, although they are not a good example as many of their troops were mercenaries, if not pressed men.

We need to recognise that our Empire has gone. We are no longer a world power – if you don’t believe me ask China. Even the USA regard us an obedient child, who will always follow, who can provide a useful garden for their troops to play in when necessary.

Our military provide defence, what does that mean? What are they really defending these days. 474 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan, with over 7,000 wounded. What have they achieved, let alone asking why they were there in the first place. Nobody has invaded England for years. Our military controllers and their army of vested interests say we need a large standing army, we must spend billions on aircraft carriers, weapons, planes, nuclear submarines because we cannot know when we will be threatened.

For generations the only threat to this country has come from within Europe. One way to prevent that would be to be centrally involved in a European defence force. At this idea our government throws up its hands in horror, saying our future lies in NATO, by which they mean the USA. That needs to be questioned. There is little logic in their reasoning.

Another argument is that our arms industry will suffer. Less than 4% of our GDP is involved, and in any case the expertise now channelled towards instruments of death should be used for other purposes. We need energy. There are lots of ways to obtain the power we need and even more ways to save the power we over-use.

The threat of attack is said to be with us, always. If war does occur the standing army can do very little. It’s the people, the masses, who are always asked to come forward, to sacrifice their lives for the country.

There are now one million bright young people unemployed. Conscription springs to mind, as education, training and employment are not working (too many NEETs). Perhaps we should look beyond that, and have a ‘plan’ (politicians quake), or at least some idea of where we want to go as a country. Our military spending has dropped from 4.1% to 2.6% of GDP but that still about three times more than most countries. If we set a target of 1% GDP the rest of the money could be used on a whole range of projects.

We are still sitting on our Victorian haunches. A national competition to produce an urban vehicle, even a new transport network; a design for a new town; quality building construction, sending a rocket to the moon; having our own satellite navigation system; supporting creativity; having our own Facebook; a national online shop and distribution network – and you can think of many more good ideas that would give us better value than the estimated £6.5 billion we will spend on an aircraft carrier.

Come on you old duffers. You are the modern-version of the cavalry officers demanding more horses. Being kind to people will produce more than shooting, bombing and invasion.

800px-Nach_Gasangriff_1917

British troops after a gas attack 1917

Thorium Nuclear Power

We have a problem. We have several big problems, but they all come down to the same problem. We need energy. I look out across the North Sea end of the English Channel to see windmills, we are tilting at these triangular distributors of power. They are fine, even though we closed down our manufacturing plant on the Isle of Wight because they were cheaper from China. Don’t ask me what economist postulated that suggestion, just hand me the garrotte. They work. Whether they are economically suitable is another question.

SizewellOur government has invited China and France (could we have two more traditional enemies) to build the next generation of nuclear power plants. Investment has already started. China has sold out of Fortune Sticks (and cookies), the French already look smarter, and are enjoying food and wine with amour. We shall pay.

Nuclear power is serious for us in Suffolk, England. There’s two nuclear reactors on a low-level plain beside the North Sea at Sizewell, a coast well practised at erosion. The old Magnavox reactor has been decommissioned, not before a potentially catastrophic leakage of radioactive water was accidentally discovered. Sizewell B is a pressured water reactor, bought and paid for by you and me, whose profits are now creamed away by EDF, the French experts. It’s hinted they will be joined by China to build a third reactor. That’s likely to be an European Pressurized Reactor, now simply named EPR by Areva, the designers.

All of these are high pressure reactors that must be constantly monitored and controlled because leakage can be catastrophic. There’s been too many failures already. They must be contained within a really strong chamber. They produce radioactive waste.

The biggest advantage of these reactors is that they can make weapons-quality plutonium.

Thorium oreThere are other systems. Notably Thorium: Thorium is a naturally occurring, mildly radioactive element. To use it in a nuclear reactor, thorium must absorb neutrons, a process that eventually converts it to an artificial isotope of uranium, uranium-233. U-233 is fissile, and when it absorbs a neutron it generally fissions, releasing two or three neutrons plus a million times more heat (energy) than burning an equivalent mass of fossil fuel. It takes two neutrons to release energy from thorium and U-233 can supply them, which means it is theoretically possible to sustain energy release from thorium indefinitely. This is the basis of a thorium reactor.

http://energyfromthorium.com

thoriumcycle

This is where I remain fascinated but suggest you look at the following videos:

Professor Bob Cywinski at the University of Huddersfield has a clear view on Thorium: http://youtu.be/ZJt1k8E9edw  as does Professor Jim Al-Khalili of TV fame: http://youtu.be/6X9hQCHHGtI

Another useful video from the Energy from Thorium group is http://youtu.be/tyqYP6f66Mw

The fascinating part, for me, comes when politicians (in this case Richard Nixon) make decisions that have nothing to do with the technology, or even the need, but just to win votes: Google has presented Tech Talks about Thorium reactors: http://youtu.be/bbyr7jZOllI

We need energy. This technology has been tested. There are no experts in the world today. British expertise could resurrect the system, and we could become world experts again. Will our politicians understand?

Quantity or Quality

choiceWe now have choice. Fantastic choice. Except we are too often controlled by those negative thoughts, which come at us four times more frequently than positive thoughts. I’m not sure how that is managed. Given that it’s all a physical, or chemical, world how can negativity have such power? Until we recall that all energy is shared. What we may find depressingly negative may be a positive joy to others.

Imagine the blackbird, the earliest of early risers, willing to tell the world it has survived another night. In contrast see the hung-over worker dragged out of bed to face another days toil.

Regent during the minority of Louis XV ‘he had all the talents except the talent to make use of them’. In some ways that’s mirrored today.

If you go to a bank to ask for money for your business they will demand a fully costed business plan. Too often these are no more than figments of imagination. created to satisfy the bank manager, who doesn’t really care except to ensure the appropriate box has been ticked on the application form. However properly prepared, and constantly monitored they can be very useful tools.

Our government has a business plan. It’s politically driven, and was once based on the pledges given to the electorate during the election campaign. That’s now changed as we move into PR governance. ‘What’s today’s problem,’ is the question asked. ‘What shall we do about it?’

We see announcements that are never going to be policy changes, but are ideas thrown to stir-up the Opposition, and increasingly Coalition Partners. There’s more that are just gut reactions to the problem of the day. The Prime Minister stands at Yalding, allegedly talking – with concern – to villagers. A rescue boat laps at his feet. Cameras click, bland statements are spouted, and the circus moves on – taking the boat with them! Frustrated villagers spend Christmas with cold turkey, shivering with anger (and cold).

That’s the way governments hope to win elections.

There has to be another way.

Choice

masses: HamletThe ‘masses’: that’s us isn’t it?

People now have a voice, at least those with an Internet connection. They can give their opinions. Traditionally there have always been the majority and a minority. The silent crowd, the loudmouth in a bar; the workers and the master;, the voters and the politician. Credence was granted to the minority view, however reluctantly. When sorely pressed the majority could gain sway, hold the upper hand, often by revolution, threat or withdrawal of labour or support. Generally the minority maintained control. Like the rider of a horse; the herder of cattle; the stronger mass allowed itself to be controlled.

This smaller group, the minority rarely worked alone. A small group they may have been but there was always an implied threat. Conform or other demons will descend upon you to make you bow down.

Religions demonstrate this technique perfectly. The threat, often of eternal damnation, remains in the background. It’s a brave soul that acts defiantly against such nebulous forces.

Yet do we now recognise the achievements of the past? Do we learn any lessons? It is now 100 years since the start of the Great War. Too few people now understand what that meant, perhaps by the end of the year the media will have introduced them to the gorier parts. What will be missed is the societal changes. How Downton disappeared, how Great Britain lost its Empire, and its ‘Great’.

The world gets smaller every day. Technology allows us to share the miseries of millions, and for some to grow ever more envious of the trappings of the rich. This presence of the absent has extended the horizon of each individual existence. Has it made us more aware? It’s made us more keen on speed. If we were immortal speed would be irrelevant. We have to cram more into each day, often for no good reason.

We have choice. Far more choice than anyone before us in history. The boundless possibilities presented to us are what makes life worth living. Are you making the right choices for you? Life doesn’t last long. Do it now!

Choice is not making more profit today than we did yesterday. Particularly when that profit is grabbed by our task-master and the government.