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Told You So October 24, 2009

Posted by markswill in Navel Gazing.

Nothing satisfies the frail ego like a dash of smug reassurance – just ask failed Lib-Dem leadership hopeful Vince Cable (or skinned-teeth F1 champ, Jenson Button). But journalists have to move swiftly to capitalise on something they scrawled in yesterday’s papers/today’s fishwrap, bloggers even less so. Except for Arianna Huffington of course.

Nevertheless it’s with a certain sang froid that I look back on some recent postings and mutter if not ‘I told you so’, then at least ‘pass me my clever clogs, I wanna go dancing’.

Take my last epistle on declining standards in what’s left of the national press. I sat down with this morning’s Guardian – well somebody has to – and without really trying (i.e. I was skimming) found several howling typos within a few minutes. These included two missing possessive apostrophes and ‘heroin’ suffixed with a rogue ‘e’. So has the Guardian entirely dispensed with sub-editors, or just succumbed to the fancy-pants phonetics espoused by whacko educationalists who’ve spent too much time hanging around deprived housing estates?

Then we have my September 28th thoughts on the disappearance of local abattoirs due to EU legislation, a phenomenon accelerated by the growth of major supermarket chains. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the few remaining slaughterhouses in these parts has just gone (pork?) belly-up, partly blaming Hereford councillors for allowing a huge new Asda to open in the city alongside two existing Tescos superstores, a Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and a Sainsburys. By the way, empty premises now constitute some 40% of what was the city’s main shopping centre. And my butcher, who now has to use an abattoir thirty miles further afield, has just put his prices up… again).

Meanwhile I see that Barnes & Noble has just driven its own nail into the coffin of the booktrade I wrung my hands over in ‘Aging Disgracefully’ in mid-September. Yep, the world’s largest bookseller has followed Amazon (with the Kindle) and Waterstones (Sony’s eReader) with the launch of their ‘Nook’ which will if taken to its apparently intended conclusion result in the end of all those pesky books, bookshops and the staff who work in them. It’s a businessplan I’d love to pore over at my leisure, but meanwhile…

My final bout of slapping my own back came after partaking in a Webinar (that’s like a seminar but via the comfort of your home computer using technology that turned out to be rather rickety) on ‘Electric Drive: can we really meet the challenges and embrace the electric car?’ Following my May 8th posting which, whilst wholeheartedly accepting the need for a lower-carbon transport system, cast some doubt on the future of electric vehicles, I was impressed to hear someone from the virtual floor, as it were, pipe up with the claim that China controlled a finite and fast-dwindling supply (mainly in Tibet) of the lithium from which they make the lion’s share of the batteries that power most electric and hybrid vehicles. (There’s a terrible pun in there if you winkle it out). None of the learned panel which, with varying degrees of clarity and conviction had proselytised  on the glorious future of the electric car, could satisfactorily address this dilemma.

This by the way, came just 24 hours after the news that each of the few hundred FCX hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars Honda plans to lease in the USA cost around a million dollars each to produce. This smacks of the diminishing returns fiasco orchestrated by General Motors in the 1990s who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on every one of the EVI electric cars they would only lease for one year, eventually recalled and then quietly crushed.

So much for the sustainability of alternative transport for which better solutions than limited energy sources or hugely expensive hydrogen-fueled engines must still be found.

Sadly though, it’s not actually unalloyed self-aggrandisement this week, for in that self-same blog on the dubious prospects for electric cars, I lauded the almost spiritual virtues of my ancient and oil-hungry Lancia Gamma Coupe. And as some of you may recall from my Sept 6th scrawl, the Gamma unceremoniously exploded its guts somewhere on the M5, the upshot of which means a replacement or engine (assuming one can be found) or an expensively re-built one (assuming the parts to do so can be found). Which may well be seen by green transport addicts as a case of divine retribution, but find me an electric car that gets me to Asda and back with a freezer full of meat slaughtered somewhere the other side of the M25 and which costs less than a 30 year-old Italian classic and I’ll buy the bugger like a shot.

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1. jan buxton - October 25, 2009

Surely finding typos in the Guardian is like shooting fish in the proverbial barrel? – it suggests all is well with the world. Similarly the reputed propensity of Lancias (and to some extent other Italian makes) to self-destruct but to do so with style and flair – although you have my sympathy.

2. Paul N. Blezard - October 25, 2009

A sad old supercilious, nit-picking, proof-reader writes:
The Grauniad, was ever thus, was it not? Hence the nick-name.
And it’s always dangerous to rail against typos if you ain’t done yer own proof-reading extra-carefully…..(or made the mistake of leaving your spool-chucker on Yanklish)
The following errors leapt out at me from the Williams missive:
‘heroin’ suffixed with rogue ‘e’
Surely that should read:
‘heroin’ suffixed with [a] rogue ‘e’; n’est-ce pas?
And then: ‘Hereford councilors’
I think you’ll find that’s spelt: ‘councillors’ in dear old Blighty, nicht-wahr? (Not to be confused with counsellors, obviously).
And where’s the acute accent for your not-so-trusty coupé, I’m bound to ask?
And ‘less that a 30 year-old Italian classic’ should of course read:
‘less thaN a 30 year-old Italian classic’
Finally, I’ll stick my thick, smug neck out say that I’m sure there’ll be an affordable electric car capable of fulfilling your meat-carrying requirements available within five years. In fact, if you were prepared to call a G-Wiz a car, it could probably do the job now….
Anyone need the services of a free lance proof-reader?! 😉

3. Paul N. Blezard - October 25, 2009

“my thick, smug neck out say”

Obviously that should have read:

“my thick, smug, neck out AND say”

Not feeling quite so smug now….
PNB ;-(
PS Congrats to Valentino, the G.O.A.T. (but what were the ‘old hen’ T-shirts all about?) And commiserations to Noriyuki Haga.
WSB’s greatest ‘nearly-man-san? Assuming Spies stays shiny side up in Race 2, obviously.

4. markswill - October 25, 2009

Ah well, nobody’s perfect… but I have now corrected the mistakes (all of which were of course missed by the spell-check which I clearly relied too much on when hungover of a Saturday morning).

Just got back from a bracing pedelec bike ride through the surrounding Welsh hills, BTW, so I’m not entirely sceptical but a freezer full of meat would not fit into any pure leccy car that I’m aware of. And driving a fully loaded G-Wiz or an Aixam battery car the 65-odd mile round trip to/from Hereford’s Asda would, I think, be a tall order.

Onwards, then – Mark

5. WTK - October 25, 2009

Picky, picky, picky. It is function over form and intent rather than content, afterall. Would Albert Speers have been such a successful architect if he worried over the mortar thickness? Should Frank Lloyd Wright be faulted just because concrete spalls around re-bar? No, let’s look at the 315 years of natural gas supply discovered in the states of NY and PA this year for which the government won’t permit drilling rights. LNG anyone? Electric cars; sure ’nuff! Calculate the total carbon emmissions of mining, production, carbon prduced electricity, 660 pounds of toxic, 8 year life span batteries, recycling costs, and you will find a shortfall of carbon reduction benefits. And this is assuming that guilt-ridden mankind actually affects the globe with his addition of .025% additional hydrocarbons. And those pesky Africans and third-world citizens wo are burning WOOD! Mercy on us. Jesus wept. They are intentionally killing white folk. And I thought all the lithium was used to keep psychotics sane. Well, at least the future lithium supply will be plentiful. We’ll need it at this rate. Lastly, the Lancia story answers why I drive Porsches. (This blog was written without the help of proof-readers or artificial aids of any kind.) And you can Caveat my Emptor on that!

6. Alex Ramsay - November 8, 2009

You’re right, it’s a terrible pun (no, quite clever really)

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