benchmark of competent government was once “can this lot
manage a whelk stall ..?” Well, I was going to try and get
techno and suggest “can this lot change the batteries in a
torch..?” but I think I lower the tone in the usual manner,
and so the theme of this piece is “can this lot be relied
upon to flush your toilet?”
happens when you allow politicians to get involved with making
presumptions about science that lead to specious law making?
Lavatory cisterns that cannot flush adequately, that's what.
This arises from the same stream of witlessness and misplaced
prioritisation that also leads to the continuing cockup of
telecom deployment and the persistence of 3rd world telephony
seen government make a hash of genetically modified foods; the
mad cow mishandling was exemplary – leading to a slump in
farming, the mishandling by Oftel of BT’s monopoly has
resulted in the worst of every world, with BT reduced to a
shambling hulk as the rest of the world picks off the vital
national telecoms infrastructure. Where are the votes?
Internet babies and foxes, apparently.
although Mad Cow disease is a big deal if you get it, the
numbers involved are (mercifully) minor compared to the
numbers who die from more mundane and less newsworthy causes.
But there are Big Issues out there that affect us all, and the
most insidious one of all is the matter of personal identity
you want to own your own data? Would you prefer that Tony
& Co. did, after all, they can’t even manage criminal
records reliably, as reported last December:
France, the Data Protection Registrar, has warned Jack Straw,
the Home Secretary, that a large number of new certificates to
be issued by the Criminal Records Bureau could contain false
there was also is talk of letting judges know of a
defendant’s prior record before any verdict is delivered.
about having your identity in the hands of the European
Commission..? I thought so. Or maybe you would like your
identity to be managed for you by one of the agencies that so
frequently gets it wrong. Although real numbers are hard to
come by, it is estimated that 40% of such records contain
incorrect information! Even your trusted and loved scribe was
once gonged at Comet for failing to appear on their reference
database because he happens to live as a postcode that
consider the prospect of genetic databases. Wouldn’t life
insurance companies love to get them..? Wouldn’t
sociologists and social engineers like to look out for the
“labour tendency” or the “nazi” gene ..? They
couldn’t possibly restrain themselves.
what’s he on about this month about toilets for ..? I'll
tell you what. The more observant amongst you will have
noticed that many toilets ain't what they used to be. Without
wishing to be indelicate, the new statutory limit of 6 litre
capacity flushing is not enough for many occasions. Here’s
flush volume of the WC is reduced from 7.5 litres maximum to 6
litres maximum for all new WC suites. This change, which
becomes mandatory on 1st January 2001, brings further water
conservation measures to the bathroom industry and will be
welcomed by both industry and consumers."
on this at http://www.builders-surplus.co.uk/info/water_regs.asp
for those so disposed).
"must" ..? Oh dear, here we go again. Toilet
inspectors ahoy, maybe our metric banana inspectors can double
up on their days off?
and look out the window; the chances are that if there is not
a tidemark half way up the glass, you are on the second floor
of your home, watching the rabbit hutch float off down the
lane. The fact is
that the government in its infinite wisdom listened to the
knee jerk alarmists a few years ago, when we had enjoyed 3 dry
summers in a row, and decided that we would all run out of
water and die of thirst unless we immediately introduced
legislation to curtail the evil of toilet flushing.
conservation? The fact is that the laws of averages applies
throughout science and nature. These cycles do not always
conveniently fit into the lifetime of politician or a single
parliament. The really amusing thing now that the country is
under water, is that we need our cisterns to be capable of
storing more water, since the reservoirs are all bursting. We
could have a “distributed water network” - the wet
equivalent of the internet, and use it as a buffer for the
ineptitude of governments and water companies. That a large
number of 6 litre flushings are now being “doubled up” to
12 where once a traditional 7.5 litre “pull” would have
done the job is of no consequence: someone somewhere is proud
of their contribution to saving humanity from a resource
sure I will receive the usual “green ink” letters from
readers who are outraged that I choose to criticise our
tireless civil servants once again for their attention to out
better interests. But I can take it; and the waste basket on
my desktop has no such problem flushing away the waste matter
– although I am quite willing to believe that it would be
possible to persuade a politician to propose a bill in
parliament demanding the ecologically conscious disposal of
data on hard disks (hmmm, April beckons… anyone up for
next time you are confounded by a floater that simply will not
flush away with 6 litres, can I leave you with the thought
that you might as well blame Tony Blair. Indeed, the unwanted
object bobbing about is perhaps the perfect "aide
memoire" and allegory for the government and all its
focus group correctness: tackling the pointless issues, yet
leaving the "big jobs" entirely untouched.
those unwanted number twos, the crucial matter of genetic
databases just will not go away. Deal with it, don’t just
put the lid down.