Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

July 2006

GeneralMonday, July 31st, 2006, (10:00 pm)

Last week I went to the London Motor Show with my friends Will and Andy. I’d never been to a motor show before so I was looking forward to the experience. Despite not being all that ‘into’ cars, I still enjoy looking at the new designs and the future concepts that are often displayed. However I was surprised that there didn’t seem to be anything other than corporate lip service paid to questions about the environment. Was I foolish to have expected more?

Below are a few of the pictures I took. Some of the cars on show were awesome. The silver Mercedes with wing style doors was really beautiful. There were a number of small cars on show, but many of them were merely concept cars that won’t ever be put on a production line, and all of them were still petrol powered. Only Smart seemed to be seriously showing a truly eco-friendly car.

Why aren’t there more electric and flex-fuel cars on the market? I just don’t understand it. Car manufactorers would likely say it’s because consumers aren’t demanding them, yet we are quick enough to complain about paying nearly $12 a gallon (in the UK) at the pump.

Hiking the price of gasoline at the pump will do nothing to slow down consumer thirst. Mobility is a necessity so it matters little how expensive gasoline becomes, people will still pay for it. SUV’s are growing in popularity here in Europe, despite gas prices that would give any American a sobering wake up call about how ‘expensive’ their gasoline is.

So where are the electric cars I read about as a child? When I was at school electric cars were the future, yet here I am in my thirties and electric cars are still the future. What happened to the electric car?

I’m disappointed that it would seem none of the big manufacturer are seriously developing alternative fuel cars with a view to bringing them to the market in strength very soon. Yes there are some options for the eco-minded, but most of them are merely weak attempts at cashing in on the smallest of fuel savings or plain and simply the ugliest cars you have ever seen.

I’ve long admired the Smart Car, a Mercedes-Benz spin off company that have pioneered a serious small car market in Europe and now across the world. The Smart Roadster (pictured below) is a great car, fantastic fun to drive and staggeringly cheap to run and insure due to the fact that it has a tiny 700cc engine that means a tank of fuel will last many times longer than it might on even the current range of small cars on the market. The Roadster is light and nimble, packing 80 brake horse power with a top speed of 110mph, it’s no slouch either.

Perhaps my next car will be a used Roadster. Certainly when Mercedes-Benz gave me one for a weekend it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on four wheels. But perhaps despite the facts of global warming and the such, the Roadster was ahead of its time. Smart recently announced that this particular model will soon be discontinued, leaving me and other shaking our heads. I suppose when you’re an addict, kicking the habit is no easy road.

British Motor Show
Mercedes-Benz Smart
Who killed the electric car?
GM’s EV1. The cleanest car you’ll never see.
Watch an electric car whoop a Ferrari and a Porsche!
Learn about the Wrightspeed electric performance car
Ian Wright, creator of the X1 electric car, interviewed on Discovery

Found on the webFriday, July 28th, 2006, (12:57 pm)

It’s not clear why the ‘Falling George’ was ever made, but it’s just nice to watch a rag-doll George Bush fall and hit a lot of things on the way down. Maybe it was inspired by the Presidents approval ratings? I just don’t know.

You can use your mouse to grab the president and sling him around to ultimately make him fall and hit things in the most painful way possible. At least that is what I think the point is. It hadn’t occurred to me until I started writing this explanation that maybe there is some way you can save President Bush. But come on, lets not kid ourselves, there really is nothing any of us can do to save President Bush is there.

Created by a guy who I assume is called Dad, this movie can be found along with other random stuff at I tried to find a little background to the movie there, but there didn’t seem to be any. Who cares about background anyhow. Just enjoy watching the President fall.

Click here to see ‘falling George.’

GeneralThursday, July 27th, 2006, (3:18 pm)

As I watched the news of the unfolding war between Israel and Lebanon I find myself becoming very angry that the international community, especially the United States, has not simply told Israel to stop their shockingly unreasonable offensive against the innocent people of Lebanon.

I’m merely an armchair observer, but this situation in the middle east seems to be spiraling out of control and the unfolding war between Israel and Lebanon is adding yet more nails to the coffin of peace in the region.

But here we are two weeks into this latest bloody war and the international community is not telling Israel to stop the bloodshed, and today Israel announce that they see this as the rest of the world effectively standing in support of their gruesome violence.

I know that Reece has in the past called me “block headed” so maybe that is why I simply can’t understand why it is that the United States will not stand up and tell Israel to stop killing innocent people. Israel seemed to deliberately target an unarmed UN observation station yesterday, ignoring ten calls to tell them to be careful, eventually putting an end to those calls by striking the station with a precision missile hit destroying it completely and killing some of the unarmed occupants. Israeli air-strikes have also targeted red cross ambulances too yet they continue to insist that they are not targeting non-military targets.

Yes I understand Israel has come under fire from all sides and sits among volatile neighbors, but lets not cast them in too favorable a light. I think that with this recent round of violence Israel is demonstrating that it has lost the ability to be reasonable. In many respects this should be of no surprise, when one is surrounded by violence then such a thing becomes a mindset, but this is no excuse. Just as we should excuse Hezbollah for their unprovoked attack upon Israel, so we should also not excuse Israel for responding in such a disproportionate manner.

It’s difficult for us to fully appreciate the Israels feelings given decades of violence that they have endured. Indeed it’s difficult for us to appreciate anyones day to day existence in any country in the war torn middle east. But putting it in a more local context might provoke a line of thought that could be a little more challenging than simply watching people in some far off country bomb one another. Lets imagine if you will that the British decided in the 1990’s that after nearly 30 years of Irish terrorism and bombs exploding on British soil, the best way to deal with the problem would have been to send in the air-force to bomb the crap out of troublesome Irish communities known for their IRA sympathies. Imagine the scenes as the bodies of hundreds of innocent Irish men, women and children are shown being dug out of the rubble of homes leveled by British missiles.

Now imagine the outrage when our Prime Minister says that we’re fed up with the violence in Britain and this is the only way we feel it can be stopped. America would have been the first to protest of course given their rather questionable standing on IRA terrorism. But lets assume we ignore America and continue to level street after street and kill many more innocent people with our bombs. Is it unreasonable for me to suggest that perhaps a person who might not have been anti British, who may have had no connection to the IRA before, might now be very sympathetic and even moved enough to pick up a weapon and inflict violence upon Britain due to what they see and experience after British air strikes reduce their life to ruins?

The UN says that half a million people have been displaced within Lebanon by the fighting, and that number, along with the body count, is rising. To me this reads as half a million people are now far more likely to develop strong anti Israeli opinions and therefore pose a significant threat in the form of potentially joining militant groups like Hezbollah.

In discussions about America’s unwinnable “war on terror” some people have told me that it would have been wrong of America to idly stand by and do nothing when the people of Iraq were living under the unjust iron fist of Saddam Hussein. I’m curious as to why then I am not hearing those same voices screaming at the American government to stop Israel from escalating the violence of the Middle East.

Does history teach us nothing? Nothing will be solved by dropping more bombs than the other guy or firing more bullets than him. This cycle of hatred will simply continue, and while some Christians see this as ‘foretold’ in the Bible as a sign of the return of Jesus, this cannot surely be used as the excuse to stand by and do nothing in the face of such an injustice.

Todays orphans may well become tomorrows terrorists. Thirty six years ago Owen Franken took a series of chilling pictures of young girls preparing for war at a Palestinian refugee camp. The pictures are a graphic illustration of how hatred is a learned behavior, and depressingly, despite mankind’s great leaps, it’s a behavior we seem unable to shake.

Red Cross ambulances destroyed in Israeli air strike on rescue mission
Israel says world backs offensive
Video : Reminders of War in Gaza

GeneralTuesday, July 25th, 2006, (1:00 am)

This evening my friend Will and I went out to a quiet country pub in Parkgate, Wirral. It was a beautiful warm summers evening so we ate out dinner outside as the sun went down, just kicking back having a mellow evening before we head to London tomorrow for the motor show. We weren’t expecting to get a motor show of an entirely different kind after dinner though.

As we pulled out of the Boat House pub and headed up the road we heard an almighty noise coming toward us. As the vehicle approached we realised the small Ford Ka was running on just three wheels with sparks flying from the offside front and nothing whatsoever left of the tyre or much of the bodywork of the car in that area.

It seemed pretty obvious to me that the female driver was most likely drunk but more than anything she was about to head into a popular area for people enjoying ice cream on such an evening, and therefore she had to be stopped.

Quickly I span the car around and sped after her. A motorcycle was already chasing her flashing his lights and waving. As she rounded the corner onto the main road of parkgate front the motorcycle attempted to get in front of her. Pedestrians stood in amazement as the three of us drove down the road and sparks flew from her grounded vehicle.

Eventually the motorcycle was able to move in front of her and slow her dramatically at which point on the narrow road I took the opportunity to pass her quickly then stop abruptly in front of her in the middle of the road. She came to a complete stop when she thudded the back of my car right in front of people sat out front of the Red Lion pub enjoying an otherwise quiet evening drink.

Instantly I jumped out of my car and ran up to hers opening the door, grabbing her hand as she restart stalled motor. She looked surprised to see me, and it was very clear she was drunk. As she then attempted to restart her car and carry on I decided she needed not to be behind the wheel any longer. She wasn’t all that receptive to the idea of vacating her vehicle so I removed her from the car and took her to the side of the road where I explained to her that she wouldn’t be driving any further. I had her car keys anyway so she wasn’t going to get far without them, and in truth she wasn’t going to get far in her car at any rate.

She then went inside the Red Lion pub and sat down. The manager gave her a glass of water and sat with her to calm her down. The woman was upset about something to do with Dogs and not being able to cope with them? The manager of the bar wanted to call the woman’s husband but I managed to persuade her that although I understood her intentions were well meaning this might make an already sketchy situation far more volatile as we would have no way of knowing how her husband would react and from my point of view it seemed like the whole drunken driving incident might have been fueled by an earlier domestic situation.

Eventually the Police arrived and arrested the woman who was barely able to walk. After a brief chat with the cop my friend Will and I walked back to the car and Will said “There is never a dull moment with you mate!” Funny, I thought, a lot of people say seem to say that.

Faith & ReligionSunday, July 23rd, 2006, (3:38 am)

There would seem to be few things in life more ugly, corrupt, twisted, and utterly repulsive as religion. Religion seems to be a club for the weak and the hateful, the misguided and the downright evil. I find it hard to believe in God when I look at religion, and when he looks at religion I think God must find it hard to believe in us too.

Religion seems to me to be the evil twin of faith which suffers in the face of confusion between the two. There are many faithful people whom I have a great deal of respect for, people who seem to be able to avoid falling into the trap of becoming religious rather than faithful, unwittingly going over the ‘the dark side’ if you will.

I can see how faithful people get sucked into religion. It’s surely down to a number of contributing factors. The company they keep, the teaching they receive, their ability to question and interact with their leaders. When one is in a church there is, as with any kind of social club, the pressure to conform and to do things the way they are expected to be done. We raise our hands in worship here, we talk in tongues, we speak out prophetic words from God, and therefore so must you. It might not be quite that simple but it’s easier to follow that lead. It is perhaps one of the most subtle but serious of hurdles for the faithful, one of the many diversions from the path of faith to the wider road to religion.

Watching the news this week has been troubling. Israel have dramatically reacted to unprovoked attacks from Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon leading to a most obscene amount of violence that now seems equally unjustified on both sides, and still two wrongs aren’t making a right.

What made me mad this week though was a story in the news about how more than 3,400 evangelical Christians went to Washington D.C, to lobby lawmakers as part of the first annual summit of a group calling itself ‘Christians United for Israel.’

Led by a Texan pastor, John Hagee, the group who have representatives from all 50 states, had 280 meetings to attend on Capitol Hill to urge the US government “not to restrain Israel in any way in the pursuit of Hamas and Hezbollah”, he said. The event wasn’t planned in response to the fighting between Israel and Lebanon, it was apparently planned months ago but Hagee says the military conflict “certainly makes our meeting more significant.”

According to his book, Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World, the Bible predicts that Russian and Arab armies will invade Israel and be destroyed by God. What will then follow, according to Hagees interpretation of the Bible, is a confrontation over Israel between China and the West led by the head of the European Union who is actually the anti-Christ.

It angers me that any right-minded individual could believe that a loving God would stand by and support the slaughter of innocent people anywhere, and that would seem to be a daily truth at this time between Israel and Lebanon. World leaders, including the British and UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, have called for an immediate ceasefire yet here are American evangelical Christians having 280 meetings on Capital Hill urging the government to sit back and do nothing to try and stop the violence being inflicted on Lebanon by Israel.

That offends me as much as an Islamic extremist who thinks he is doing Gods great work when he blows up a train full of people on their way to work in the rush hour. It’s a nonsense, a warped understanding of the world through eyes blurred with religion. What kind of God do they believe would sit back and rejoice as the limbs of children are ripped from their bodies?

These evangelical Christians who are working so hard to to exert their influence seem only a little less deranged to me than young men who strap explosives to their chests. While the immediate effects of the evangelical Christians actions might not be as apparently violent the long term effect very well may not be dissimilar. Just because these Christian extremists wear suits and pray with open arms to nice music in well lit televised church services, it doesn’t make them any less worrying to me.

I hope, heck I might even pray, that the work of the faithful overcomes the work of the religious.

Evangelical Christians plead for Israel
Pro-Israel Christians Lobby in Washington
Evangelical: Religious Right Has Distorted the Faith
Christians United For Israel (C.U.F.I.)
Cornerstone Church, San Antonio, Texas

GeneralSaturday, July 22nd, 2006, (4:21 am)

As I read yet another story today about a young girl missing after arranging to meet an anonymous man she ‘met’ on the net, and after hearing a story yesterday about a little boy who was ‘robbed’ online, I can’t help but wonder if the web might now be considered to be a serious threat to the health and safety of children who use it.

It’s somewhat cliched to talk about “when I was a kid” but it’s hard not to do that when we look at the ‘leaps and bounds’ technology has made and how that has changed the world for the children of today.

For example, when I was a kid I used to cycle around on my bike with very little parental interaction. My folks would tell me to check in with them from time to time if I was riding my bike, but this tended to happen by default as I used to often stop for a drink and I used to like waving at my Dad working in the front garden as I constantly circled the block. Innocence was, it would seem, under little or no threat.

These days young kids take to the web like I used to take to my bike. Online games, which include interaction with faceless people around the globe, open children to a host of interactions with people they would never have otherwise met. Kids that might have once written a private journal in a tatty book they kept hidden from their parents now seem likely to use internet services like Myspace or Xanga which provide the illusion of safety from the prying eyes of unaware parents, but not from predators on the prowl in this new digital hunting ground which must seem like a paradise for the kinds of people who previously had to operate solely in the darkest shadows of society.

Another more obvious aspect of the web the abundant access to pornography. While I don’t particularly have a big objection to porn I am concerned that young people now have access to an endless supply of the most graphic material one can imagine, and even material one might not want to imagine.

When I was a kid the only access I had to porn was through a lad at school called Scott who used to sell porno magazines he’d stolen from his father. By todays standards these magazines that I used to imaginatively hide under my mattress (duh!) would be considered little more than harmless titillation. Naked ladies with legs occasionally akimbo hardly makes the needle on todays pornometer quiver. The first sex video I ever saw was the dogiest fuzzy clip of what looked like two swarms of locusts rhythmically moving in time to German oohs and ahhs and the occasional words that we all learned, “schneller schneller.” It’s a far cry from the realities of todays world in which statistics suggest that children view, either by accident or choice, graphic pornography by the age of eleven.

In conclusion then, is it wrong for me to feel that the web, as wonderful as it is, might actually be stealing innocence from the innocent, robbing them like highwaymen used to rob carriages in the days when horse power really meant horses? If so, what are we to do? Is this the price of progress? And if it is then is it really a price we can afford to pay?

Perhaps as the internet generation grow up they’ll better understand the threats that seemingly lurk around every digital corner. Maybe todays victims will be tomorrows experts and therefore we might actually see some sensible solutions surface in what so far seems to be a sea of badly executed after thought measures that are more effective at making people who aren’t at risk feel that they don’t have to watch out so closely for those who are.

Police search for missing girl
15 year old missing with unknown male
Two girls mug ‘MySpace man” at gun point.
Xanga safety tips for parents
MySpace safety tips

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