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Many cyclists are scared of cycling between Brighton and Lewes because they’ve heard that the cycle lane is on the A27. In fact, it is beside the A27 and is completely segregated from it. The worst part of the ride is the part of the Lewes Road (the A270) in Brighton between the Vogue Gyratory and the bottom of Coldean Lane. Either end of this section is bad. The outbound carriageway is made dangerous at the turning for Coldean Lane by motorists who will cut up cyclists in the cycle lane, which at that point is still on the road. People have been killed and injured. The other end of the same section of road is dangerous on the inbound carriageway because of the way too many motorists behave alongside the row of shops. One such offender has been caught on camera by me – see the video below. The cycle lane on the A27 itself is a real joy. From Falmer it is downhill all the way to Lewes but for some reason unknown to the wit and ken of us two wheelers, the return journey never feels as hard as it should. It is truly a magical hill!
I started recording my route near the top of Hollingbury Hill because I live near there. I strongly advise cyclists not to head out of town Northwards from here, up the Ditchling Road. This is another place where the feng shui of the road causes motorists to behave like nutters. There have been far too many fatalities on this section. Although it adds a few extra miles and minutes to your journey, head South down Ditchling Road from this point. Better to arrive a few minutes late in this world than forty years too early in the next. Especially since there isn’t a next world. This is it.
For far too long us cyclists have been treated worse than horses or dogs on the road. Nicey nicey behaviour by us hasn’t helped our cause. Those who point to cyclists running red lights are grasping at straws. Plenty of us don’t but are still routinely abused by the minority of motorists who couldn’t care less about our safety. Well, the times they are a’ changin’. We’ve got the technology now to pursue the dangerous drivers. I’ve fitted my bike with a cam, which records high definition footage for hours at a time. They’re not that expensive any more. Until now, if we took the trouble to complain to the police, we were told nothing could be done without another witness. This advice was handed down from on high because we were considered to risky witnesses in front of a jury of motorists. Prosecutions have to rest on strong evidence. The video camera is good evidence. We don’t even have to stop to record number plates. Incidentally, time and date stamping videos is a waste of time because the stamping mechanism can so easily be altered. However, a cyclist can prove what time he was out on the road by using an app on his phone to record GPS settings. I do that routinely now. Therefore, there can be no argument when these incidents occur and exactly what happened. In the video that follows, I have recorded two dangerous incidents and I have informed the police about both of them, via the Sussex Police website dedicated to anti-social driving: Operation Crackdown. I suspect the risks they posed to cyclists never crossed the drivers’ minds. This is the root of the problem. Decades of consciousness raising campaigning has got us nowhere. A hundred years and more of the motorised vehicle has proven that many drivers will only behave themselves if they think that they will get in trouble if they don’t. Now they will and the word will spread…
First up, here’s my route. Google maps got a bit stroppy with this one. I definitely didn’t go off on any dog legs but you get the picture… use the controls to zoom and pan…
View Scrapper Duncan’s Old School Cycling – Episode 3: Brighton to Lewes and Back in a larger map
Here’s the video. Many thanks to Rachel Fryer for kindly letting me use her music. You’re a star Rachel!
I received an email back from Sussex Police a couple of hours after I filed the reports. The first email reply related to the second incident – the driver parked in the cycle lane. Whilst making the report I realised that I had wrongly recorded the vehicle’s registration number. Operation Crackdown’s website told me that the number I entered was incorrect. I looked at the video again and realised that I had incorrectly transcribed a “8″ as a “B”. This is what the email said:
Dear Mr Duncan Roy
Thank you for your report to Operation Crackdown regarding the VOLKSWAGEN index XAZ8564.
Operation Crackdown provides the opportunity for members of the communities within Sussex to report incidents of dangerous, careless or anti social driving or riding on the road. This information allows Sussex Police and its Partners to focus on those who present the greatest risk.
The information supplied will be checked against a number of databases depending on the severity of the incident that has been reported.
The most frequently used intervention is a letter of advice sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle from the Superintendent of the Road Policing Unit, however other options include a visit to the driver by a member of the Road Policing Unit, or for the most serious offences a targeted intervention which can lead to arrest and conviction at court.
This is the first time the vehicle has come to notice and we will continue to monitor this vehicle.
Thank you for the filmed evidence and we shall keep this on file.
Since August 2007 Operation Crackdown has received 38022 reports, this has generated 4661 letters of advice, 277 uninsured vehicles have been seized, 312 warnings/seizures have been issued to drivers for anti social driving and 68 drivers have been arrested.
Thank you for your interest in road safety.
Police Headquarters, Malling House, Church Lane, Lewes, East Sussex. BN7 2DZ
Telephone 0845 60 70 999 or Email: Crackdown.Database@sussex.pnn.
At the Patcham Weightwatchers meeting on tuesday night, the matter of porridge came up. It seemed that people were eating it under sufferance, knowing that it is good for you but not knowing how to make it good. Here’s how I make porridge every morning for my lovely wife. That’s right, every single morning. What a great house husband I am!
Here’s some information about this so-called milk. First of all, it’s not milk. Not as we know it. It’s a blend of soya beans and water with calcium and vitamins. The actual ingredients are: water, hulled soya beans (6%), raw cane sugar, tri-calcium phosphate, sea salt, stabiliser (Gellan gum), flavouring, vitamins (riboflavin, B12, D2).
These have been my favourite cartoons for quite some time, although having seen this one, I’m not so sure. Only joking! If you need cheering up in a twisted but good way, hop over to the Perry Bible Fellowship.
Well, it is early days for Brighton & Hove’s Green Party led City Council so it might be churlish to expect too much. On the other hand, we Green Party activists sought power to change the world rather than feather our own nestlets. The planet is too important to fail!
A central pledge of the Brighton & Hove Green Party’s manifesto is going to be fulfilled – council housing is going to be brought up to a decent standard, thanks to a deal agreed in council to invest in the housing stock. During the refurbishments, solar panels will be installed on all council housing which is suitable for it. 1,600 homes will benefit from this scheme. This means that Brighton & Hove will be one of the world’s first Cities to generate solar power from domestic residences on a mass scale. Carbon emissions will be reduced, residents will see their fuel poverty alleviated because they’ll be selling electricity back to the grid and the local economy will benefit from the installation and maintenance work.
Despite the coalition government declaring Equality Impact Assessments to be unneccessary red tape, the council has promised to continue with them. The idea is that without a proper consideration of the impact of decisions on equality in diverse communities, inequalities can be created accidentally. The thieving tory bastards never care too much about inequality anyway methinks. In fact, they seem to thrive on. That and despair.
The council will tackle head on the drivers who park on the pavements behind the yellow lines on Elm Grove. These antisocial motorists impede the safety of pedestrians. It has always been illegal yet for some reason the previous administration (the thieving tory bastards again) did nothing about it. They had no plans about any kind of illegal parking, including the Travellers though nowadays they like to pretend otherwise.
A community garden will be set up within Dyke Road Park, giving local residents a place to meet, socialize and grow food together.
In other news, a new library was opened by Councillors Sue Paskins and Bill Randall in Whitehawk on 19th September. It is a cutting edge building, designed to be sustainable. It includes a new and improved toy library, a community café, meeting rooms and a community library all under the one roof. Located next to Whitehawk Primary School, the Children’s Centre and a Healthcare Centre, it is convenient for local people to access. The council, with funding from the Department for Education, has invested £7.47 million for the benefit of young and old alike. New classrooms have also been built for the expanding intake at Whitehawk Primary School. There’ll be an IT suite inside the library for web surfers.You can access library services online too.
No longer will anyone will be able wake up in the morning and say, “I had the weirdest dream last night”, because some boffins are close to being able to record your dreams and replay them on a monitor. If I my wife says that to me, I say, “Well, all dreams are weird. If you told me you had a humdrum dream, that would be remarkable.” Then the rest of the day goes badly. Yes, I’m a morning pedant. I like accuracy. When one of these machines comes along, I’ll be more charitable. I’ll just say, “Oh great, I’m really into other people’s weird dreams right now, rather than my own. I’ll just make your breakfast and pack you off to work before I settle down to watch your dream.” Then I’ll get to watch my wife make various excuses whilst she fumbles for the emergency delete dream switch and says something like, “Oh, it looks like I hadn’t switched it on.”
Don’t believe me? By using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) software, the brainy end of Berkeley have cracked the problem. Hm. Actually, they have cracked the beginning of the problem. They have begun to be able to recreate what our brains see. The technique has involved breaking down the part of the brain which deals with vision into tiny cubic zones, known as volumetric pixels, or “voxels.” That’s another new word to learn. Then a machine with access to vast computational power learns what the voxels are seeing by referencing it against a clip which the subject has been watching.
The patient would watch one trailer while a computer program recorded their brain activity and built an algorithm by checking it against the video’s visual patterns. Researchers would then show a second clip to test the computer’s movie reconstruction algorithm. The end result of the research was a blurry-but-continuous 100 second reconstruction of the original movie. 5,000 hours of footage from youtube was used. In the image below, the man on the left was shown to the subject and the machine recorded the image on the right. This is considered to be a pretty good start.
In the 1950s people crowded around boxes with this sort of image quality and called it television. It needs refining but has all sorts of potential. Medically, we’ll stand a better chance of communicating with stroke victims. Entertainment wise, the best dreamers will be on a money making mission. They won’t be living their dreams, they’ll be selling them. Doubtless the porn industry will lead the way, as it has done with all other video technology and much of the internet. Yes people, you may not like to think of it that way but the fact is that the porn industry put money into these technologies and got them off the ground when no-one else had the liquidity required for the high risk investments needed to improve the gadgetry. Perhaps a new form of privacy rights will arise, to protect men from embarassment. In the clip below, there’s a series of videos in pairs. Each moving image on the left is what a subject was shown in the experiment and each one on the right is what the Berkeley machine recreated (after it had learnt what to do) from the brains of the subjects viewing the clips.
The following video contains lots of clips and shows how the machine learnt the magic. The movie that each subject viewed while in the fMRI scan is shown at upper left. Reconstructions for three subjects are shown in the three rows at bottom. All these reconstructions were obtained using only each subject’s brain activity and a library of 18 million seconds of random YouTube video that did not include the movies used as stimuli. (In brief, the algorithm processes each of the 18 million clips through the brain model, and identifies the clips that would have produced brain activity as similar to the measured activity as possible. The clips used to fit the model, the clips used to test the model and the clips used to reconstruct the stimulus were entirely separate.) The reconstruction at far left is the Average High Posterior (AHP). The reconstruction in the second column is the Maximum a Posteriori (MAP). The other columns represent less likely reconstructions. The AHP is obtained by simply averaging over the 100 most likely movies in the reconstruction library. These reconstructions show that the process is very consistent, though the quality of the reconstructions does depend somewhat on the quality of brain activity data recorded from each subject.
This is going to blow away the sellers of those wicker and feather constructions known as dream catchers.
Christiania is 40 years old today. It is a community of 850 anarchists living in the heart of Copenhagen and living proof that there is an important distinction between anarchy and chaos. The residents claim self-governance from the rest of Denmark. The flag of Christiania was chosen because when the land was first squatted, there was a lot of red and yellow paint left behind by the military. Denmark has regulated the commune under a special law: the Christiania Law of 1989. It began when increasing numbers of young people faced homelessness. They took over the land, which had just been vacated by the military. The commune governs itself by consensus, rather than a formal democracy, and consequently has very few rules. The publicly stated rules include bans on cars, stealing, violence, guns, knives, bulletproof vests, hard drugs and bikers’ colors. There was a problem with biker gangs at one point but the spirit of the Christianites saw them off, despite the fact that the former were armed with AK47s and the latter relied on non violent persuasion. This precious community is a beacon of hope for us all.
They’ve had their problems, sure. There has been violence. What human society is entirely free of it? I visited the place myself in 1998. I didn’t learn much because I took all my prejudices with me. Although I wandered far beyond Pusher Street (where cannabis was openly traded) and along delightful lanes, I was too shy to knock on anyone’s door, as my guide book recommended, to ask what I should learn about the place. That sort of behaviour is taboo in our society but positively welcomed in Christiania. Since the jurisdiction of the Danish state did not run to the island, I bought some cannabis and adjourned to the pub to smoke it. The barman came over and told me off. “This is a pub“, he said, “you can smoke tobacco in here but not drugs.” I apologised profusely. I didn’t know the rules. “You can smoke it outside”, he said, “and I’ll look after your pint.”
We’re on the brink of a massive housing crisis in the UK. The recession is making lots of people homeless. There are lots of empty properties. Will our young people, who are most affected by the recession, take a leaf out of Christiania’s book? Meanwhile, over there, a ten day birthday party is beginning. Promises to be quite a bash.
Update: following my posting this morning (see below), Nathan Hassall got in touch (see comments on Campaign for more jazz on BBC Radio) to explain that the campaign for more jazz on BBC Radio is definitely not over. I’m very pleased to hear that. He makes a very good point about the BBC having a huge archive of great jazz music, which they could play at more accessible hours than the paltry offerings at off beat moments currently aired. Let’s hope the organisation known as Jazz Services updates their print and digital media so that the campaign itself becomes more accessible.
Original Post – Entitled “The campaign for more jazz on BBC Radio is finished“
The Nathan Hassall Trio played a set dedicated to Charlie Parker at St Luke’s Chuch on Friday night. Despite the double bassist and pianist being substitute players and, consequently, the trio never having played together before, it was a very enjoyable evening, for me at least. A musical friend of mine, let’s call him NDRJ (he’s got a complicated name) who came along at my invitation, was less convinced. Rather charitably he said, “By the end the double bass player was playing in time with the others. Not bad, I suppose, considering that they hadn’t played together”. He added that they were all “excellent musicians.” Well, I enjoyed it anyway. It was the last in this year’s series of concerts in the church, which Rachel Fryer has organised and, on occasion, played in. Nathan Hassall was in a chatty mood. Not even a collapsed railway tunnel standing in between him and his journey home put him off from talking.
He knew we’d gone to listen to his music but he wanted us to hear something else as well. In between songs, in the interval and at the end he repeatedly urged us to sign the petition from the Campaign for More Jazz on the BBC. Now there’s a cause, I thought. Jazz! What’s not to like? The literature on the campaign said:
There is a substantial and growing audience for jazz but very little makes it onto the radio these days. In the past the BBC not only provided a broadcast outlet for jazz but also had an active and influential role in the development of jazz music. This campaign, led by Jazz Services, seeks a greater allocation of jazz on the radio and for the early introduction of a digital platform that features dedicated stations for jazz, folk, roots et cetera. Jazz Services say that this should also include Radio 6 Music and Radio 1 Extra.
Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be an online way to sign up to the campaign. I picked up a postcard which suggested that you give your name, address, postcode and email address(!) underneath the following text.
I support Jazz Services campaign for more jazz on the radio, and a digital platform dedicated to under-represented music, as I consider the BBC is not representing the interests of licence fee payers. I would also urge the BBC Trust to recognise the importance and value of jazz in their forthcoming Strategy Review Consultation.
The postcard was addressed not to the BBC but to a private organisation instead.
It requested that we respond either online or by post by 20th May. Nathan Hassall kept telling us this campaign was really important and entertained me wonderfully, so I’ve gone to the trouble of checking the facts. Unfortunately, the fact is that Jazz Services are not running this campaign any more. This is hardly surprising because the deadline for submissions to the BBC’s Strategy Review Consultation was 20th May last year.
Mr Hassall, I really do hope you’ll come back to Brighton to play for us again. We are an appreciative audience. These postcards do look like a bizarre old school data mining operation though. Your insistence that this campaign was more important than your own career is hard to fathom. Presumably you’ve been misinformed? Was the campaign a success? I’m not in a position to judge – I don’t know how much jazz was on the BBC before and after 20th May 2010. Here’s the BBC’s current jazz offering. Here’s me doing my bit for the jazz scene, with my favourite, Charlie Mingus.
Here’s a match played before I had managed to learn anything much about the beautiful game. Lord knows what I was thinking here. Grant on the other hand had tightened up his game considerably, compared to when he had first joined Brighton & Hove Chess Club about 18 months previously. I was no match for him!
If your screen isn’t big enough to see this game properly you can also look at it in my Chess In The Cave channel. The only time I ever beat Grant Minshull again was in the somewhat unusual conditions shown in the following film. You can’t see the moves but you do get a taste for the challenging match atmosphere. The game starts at 1:40.
At long long last, this blog’s original purpose is about to be fully realised. The original idea was to make cooking and cycling videos. I’ve been pressing ahead with the cooking videos but I had one or two, shall we say technical issues with how to make the cycling videos. I still do but I now know the way around them.
To celebrate this breakthrough and also the outrageous claim by CERN yesterday that they had broken the speed of light, I cycled from Patcham to Peacehaven and back very very fast and filmed the whole thing. Here’s the best way to cycle that journey. Being no fair weather sportsman, I’ll be posting cycling videos right through the autumn from here on in. Sorry about the sound quality this time around. There’s only one bit of talking. Turn the sound up when I talk to camera and you’ll discover the paradox at the centre of my personality.
Here’s a map of the route. Use the controls to zoom in to check the precise directions. It’s pretty simple. Please note, I did not swim any of this route – obviously GPS tracking has been buggered about by the chalky cliffs…
View Scrapper Duncan’s Old School Cycling – Episode 2: Patcham to Peacehaven and Back in a larger map