An Ode To Science: A Poem by Michael Wharton
The scientific method is the most logical option available,
For gaining new knowledge and understanding the real truth,
Empirical evidence; data, is collected, measured, verified,
Hypothesised, tested, and retested to determine the proof.
Proof of a theory that includes it in a far wider concept,
To explain a natural phenomenon of the observable universe,
With matter, gravity and energy, explained by methodology,
To attempt to do so any other way would just be perverse.
Foolish men have attempted to subvert these noble efforts,
To know the mechanics of all existence with experimentation.
Abusing obsolete beliefs to admonish human intellectualism,
Science prevailed against this offensive with determination.
For aeons we have pondered on the purpose of our existence,
On the origins of humanity and beginnings of time and space.
We organised life into Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family,
Genus and Species, in taxonomy there's no such thing as race.
We catalogued and categorised the visible celestial bodies,
They were then personified, deified, fortified and beatified.
Philosophies and ideologies were attributed to these deities,
These teachings sanctified to identify those to be vilified.
Scientific teaching now teeters on the edge of a precipice,
Created by folk ignorant of evidence contrary to their belief.
What they all fail to realise is right before their very eyes,
Science fabricates a pair of wings and flies up to its relief.
Every single individual is fully capable of discovering truth,
Through experimentation, examination and observation of reality.
The truth will out repeatedly until uncovered in its entirety,
Fundamentalist individuals won't be ready for this eventuality.
When reason replaces dogma as the predominant belief structure,
Humanity will emphatically embrace a new dawn of enlightenment.
No longer will sophisticated society acquiesce to myopic piety,
Human civilisation will be emancipated from dogmatic arraignment.
More poetry from Michael Wharton, this time on the subject of science and scientific endeavour. Science; like all things (at present) is a commodity for enterprise, to research and develop products for making money. If only this were not the case, every scientist developing better shampoos and face creams should be working on diseases like Cancer and Alzheimer's.
More recently, science has come under fire from fundamentalist religious groups who advocate "creationism" or "intelligent design" as competing "Theories" to Darwinian evolution through natural selection. They really need to start to grasp the meaning of the word theory in science...
On top of the onslaught from the evangelicals, Vince Cable is now threatening the budget for scientific advancement in research and development.
Why Don't Some Drivers Indicate Correctly?
I am a humble pedestrian, occasional cyclist but never a driver, so maybe it will be hard for me to understand the effort involved in remembering to indicate. I know some of the Highway Code, I was thinking about taking my test some day, but the way some people drive just makes me think too much about dying at the hands of a moron. I personally find this off-putting.
Of all of the initial lessons one learns when mastering the art of driving, mirror, signal, manoeuvre is a mantra too quickly forgotten on the roads. Those flashing yellow lights are for warning all other road users of your intentions, those you are aware of and those you haven't seen. On many occasions, this negligence has lead to me being stood directly in front of a car making a turn towards me, while I was crossing the road, on one occasion it didn't quite stop in time and gave me a bump. What was really galling was the fact that these drivers seemed so indignant and defensive of the idea that it was their fault for not signalling.
Maybe it's a generational thing, in my experience younger drivers tend to be more guilty of failing to signal. Older drivers tend to indicate every time; my Dad for example indicates round car parks because it has become so second nature to him. This leads me to believe that it may have something to do with falling out of the habit due to some form of encumbrance, such as not being able to indicate for some reason. I noticed that upon looking into the window of the cars that don't indicate, about a 30% were ON THE PHONE, 40% were sticking their left gear changing hand somewhere else (up their nose, on the gear lever, on their face, drinking HOT coffee, TEXTING!). At least another 20% were resting their right arm out the window, the other ten were miscellaneous in case you were wondering.
What Can Pedestrians Do About It?
I have personally confronted drivers about their failure to indicate or being on the phone, sometimes a simple dirty look is enough to evoke a look of shame and apology. Sometimes they get out of their car and harass you verbally for telling them how to drive, but the advantage of being a pedestrian is that I can walk away, they are making a journey of some kind and usually want to get along, in their car. Maybe if it was the norm for people to be openly critical of other's stupidity things would be better. As for now I am the one with a chip on my shoulder from being bumped over by a car driver in this situation.
Now I am finally blogging about it, maybe I can convince people of why it's important to signal at all times to get into the good habit. Mirror, SIGNAL, manoeuvre is not just for when you see other cars around, but all the time, for the people you don't see (like in your blind spot) too.
I started a Facebook Group about this after I nearly got hit again, and shouted at the middleaged lady driver only to get the finger for my wisdom. Please join it and invite your friends, it's open to all and only takes a minute!
In summation this current trend in bad driving could be due to many of the other bad driving factors I have seen, or it could be a phenomenon of its own. This does not matter, what really matters is that it stops being so prolific. We need to scold drivers with a simple phrase that will put them right back in the learners seat; Mirror, SIGNAL, Manoeuvre!
Headphones & Earphones On A Bike - Is It A Distraction?
As somebody who very occaisionally will take his bicycle out for a spin, and only on cycle lanes, I can honestly say I have never even contemplated the idea of listening to music whilst cycling. For starters, when listening to music I can't help but move some part of my body along to the rhythm of the beat. This is a very Bad Idea when urban cycling, which requires fast changes in tempo all the time. If I was listening to music I would be slower to react to a change in the speed of what was going on around me.
The other downside is that, essentially, you can't hear very much of what's going on around you on the road. This is obviously very dangerous considering how quiet cars are getting these days, and they will practically be silent assassins when they are all electric cars. As much as you should be looking around you at all times on a bike, you should also be listening. Most times a change in revs in the cars around you can be a great indicator that they are about to do something to endanger your life.
Is Cycling With Headphone/Earphones On Dangerous?
Here is a great example of the kind of accident that can happen due to this incredibly Bad Idea. I have seen so many people doing this on a regular basis, I'm surprised that there haven't been more accidents. Obviously, there have been more than just this one, they just don't all get reported, probably because the embarrassed cyclist doesn't want people to think of them as the fool they are.
Cyclists also seem to find it hard to understand what a red light means, I have seen so many near misses out of the bus window at traffic lights. A cyclist will come steaming past us (Red Light Jumping or RLJ) as we roll to a stop, and nearly get side-swiped by a car coming towards the lights from the left as they change. Combinations of two or more bad road habits are all it takes to guarantee a road traffic incident.
The worst example of stupidity I have seen recently on this subject has to be when I saw a cyclist on a road coming towards me in full proffessional gear, pointy helmet, shorts and all. Despite all of his expensive stretched latex and nylon strapping, he was using both hands completely off the handlebars to send a text message as he stared intently at the screen of his expensive looking phone. He was also wearing earphones, at first I thought he was changing tracks but he clearly had a separate mp3 player hooked up to his headgear.
Can Cyclist Listen To Music Whilst Cycling In Safety?
With products like the Soundwalk Audio MP3 Cycling Speaker Vest, or Slipstreamz Cycling Earwear for Headphones out there I'm not sure if this Bad Idea is going to end without government intervention. These products are trying to market themselves as safety devices, as in you won't have to wear earphones to listen to your music. You don't have to listen to your music on your bike in the first place surely, music is distracting no matter how it is blasted at your ears.
So dear reader I leave it up to you to spread the word to the people who are still putting their lives, and the lives of innocent others, in danger. Proclaim (loudly, earphones/headphones remember!) to them that it is indeed a "Bad Idea!", with optional mime of taking off a pair of headphones.
Text Walking - A Modern Phenomenon Menacing The Pavements
If you live in a busy bustling city anywhere in the world, chances are there will come a point in the next week where you will directly observe this modern phenomenon. A person marching towards you, head down, staring intently at the screen of their mobile phone as their thumbs stab wildly at the keypad or touch screen. Texting and Walking is a growing habit of the masses, yet it is a REALLY Bad Idea.
These people are completely oblivious to the world around them, even to you, as you casually sidestep them on the bustling pavement. Trouble is they didn't sidestep you at all, you did all of the sidestepping action. What happens when two people like that are heading towards each other? Two guesses...
While I was working as a charity fund-raiser on the streets of Manchester, I witnessed people walking into lampposts, bollards and each other on many occasions whilst text walking. I have even seen old ladies forced to give way, to people trying to change tracks on their mp3 player. Texting and Walking is so much worse when there are earphones or headphones involved, or a hood, sunglasses, or baseball cap.
As you may have already guessed, Texting and Walking is especially dangerous when crossing the road or walking down a flight of stairs. In fact there was a story about a man fairly recently, who fell down some stairs in a multi-storey building. He was on one of those reality talent shows last year if I recall correctly, and I also remember police stating that he may have been using his phone at the time. I myself have seen people walking lazily across the road, as they text their loved one that ultra important lol reply SMS to a joke they were sent.
Texting And Walking - Is It SO Dangerous?
After a little googling, I couldn't find what I was looking for, but I did find one that was even funnier! This young girl seems to have gone for the old classic slapstick staple of falling down an open manhole. Clearly if she hadn't been texting and walking at the time, she would have seen the massive gaping hole in the ground ahead of her.
People of the world, this practice isn't just dangerous, it isn't just plain ignorant, it's fully inconsiderate, deadly and a very Bad Idea! Simply stop, text then walk; or alternatively win a text walking Darwin award! Let people know of the danger and warn them with a stern "Look Out Where You're Going!".