Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wash day

From the pages of the Hircine Hypotheticon:-


Wet hair
    1. Approach lender for a mortgage.

    2. Borrow money from a bank and purchase a freehold apartment or a villa on some reclaimed land.

Apply shampoo
    3. Contact friends abroad who work in the recreational pharmaceuticals wholesale trade.

    4. Receive through the mail regular consignments of used, non-consecutive US dollars or other approved hard currency. Small bills preferred.

    5. Pay cash into local bank.

    6. If queried, "It's the rent from the apartment that I bought. The one with the mortgage."

    7. Withdraw money from bank account and deposit it in Switzerland, Grand Cayman or similar approved.

    8. Continue monthly for several years and with several apartments.

    9. Sell apartment to a fat prophet at a fat profit, then disappear toute suite.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

More bling

Some months ago, one of the major Dubai blingmongers ran a radio advertising campaign on Thi Bitti Meex. The brief was to enter a contest by writing some form of poem about jewellery. The prize for the best entry would presumably be something shiny.

Well, I entered, and then heard nothing. I don't know what happened to the contest. Perhaps no-one entered, or everyone who did refused to be serious and instead took the p!ss. In the words of Tom Lehrer: "The fact that I failed to win the contest I can only ascribe to blatant favouritism on the part of the judges."

There is, however, no escape from my seemingly limitless supply of doggerel:-

    Puzzle rings, platinum, bracelets with charms on.
    Glittering diamonds I must get my palms on.
    Rubies of red and a necklace of pearls:
    These are the things that impress all the girls.

    I'm like a small child in a shop selling candy.
    My fingers have rings that are all Krugerrandy.
    I cannot resist, and I never ask why
    Someone requires a gold Burj Dubai.

    Ladies' names rendered in Arabic letters;
    Bracelets as heavy as medieval fetters.
    Silver or gold; miscellaneous bling:
    This is my ultimate favourite thing!

    More precious stones than the Duchess of Warwick;
    Mobile phones I've had plated all auric.
    What is the limit? I tell you the truth:
    I've even a diamond attached to my tooth!

    I'm a rapper; I'm a wide boy;
    I'm Jumeirah Jane.
    I'm right in your face with my show of good taste
    And materialistic gain.

(With suitable apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The wonderful thing about Taggers

I'm told that having been tagged by Keefieboy I should now tell my readers five things that you didn't know about me:-

    1. I've owned seven different motorcycles, with an average engine size of 628cc.

    2. My first movie appearance was in the extremely low-budget post-Apocalypse B movie Death Run.

    3. I'm a qualified powerboat handling instructor.

    4. I own a sword, and I know how to use it.

    5. I once played the eponymous Orpheus, in the Underworld. That's the one with the can-can.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A visit to the blingmonger

The Goat and his Beloved went down the Deira gold souq the other evening. Traffic in Bur Dubai being - well - Dubai, we took the taxi and abra option and then spent the next couple of hours checking out the bling. If you've not done so lately, take a nocturnal abra trip before the summer weather gets too sticky. As for the taxi, we got as far as the British Embassy and then I told the driver to slow down and cease and desist his tailgating, or else stop and let us out. It was very pleasant to walk along the creekside.

We both had an idea of the sort of engagement ring that Beloved wanted, having spotted an overpriced version of it in We All Love The Emirates. As is traditional, a pair of princess cut diamonds in an 18-karat yellow ring was not coming in Dubai.

However, all was not lost. I occasionally have good taste (so I'm told) if not always good sense. "Look, Beloved. Try that one. Yes, that one there with the large square-cut stone. It's nothing like what we've previously decided."

Now, I have been shopping with the female of the species before. When she says that it's really, really nice, but that maybe we should continue to shop around to see if we can find the same thing for Dh5 less, this will inevitably conclude two or three hours later with a return to the original shop. So I cut all that out, and opened up my wallet [FX: sounds of creaking and flapping of moths' wings] there and then. Twenty-four hours later, we returned for the goods, now adjusted to fit. An engagement ring and a pair of wedding rings.

There. I've said it. Wedding. It'll be in August, and in the United States.

We've found somewhere to live in Dubai too. The money spent on rings could have gone towards refitting the kitchen, but nuts to that! There are certain things on the road to wedded bliss that take utmost priority.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The boys in blue

All I want is a room somewhere,
In a block near to Rolla Square,
At a rent that ain't unfair.
Oh wouldn't it be loverly?

Just because I'm a bachelor
My new home has to be in the
Industrial Area,
Which isn't very loverly.

    Now all bachelors have to move away
    From districts nice.
    We will have to live on mutton,
    Naan bread and boiled rice.
We're constructing your glitt'ring towers
And maintaining your garden flowers
Every day for sixteen hours
To make this place so loverly.



(After My Fair Lady, Lerner and Lowe)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tragoidia: not quite a swansong

I was saddened to learn of the death of Rose, the Sudanese caprine bride. She was married to Mr Charles Tombe following his bout of drinking and their subsequent 'improper relationship'. We now learn here and here that poor Rose has died as a result of eating a plastic bag.

Was this the result of a tragic accident, or was Mr Tombe such a poor husband that Rose committed capricide? One thing is for sure: Rose is survived by a kid, which presumably is prima facie evidence that she was an adulterous goat.

I thought it was the cuckolded husband who was supposed to wear the horns.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

You know when you've been Gatso'd

I have a problem with speed cameras. After registering the Goatmobile several times and never having had to fork out for traffic violations, I've just discovered three speeding fines, all courtesy of the anonymous grey boxes. Each time, I was only just above the posted limit, each was on a dead-straight dual carriageway and on all occasions there was virtually no other traffic on the road. On one occasion, the posted limit was 120kph and I was doing 100kph. But the camera says otherwise, and cameras never lie. Ask anyone who can use Photoshop. As they say in 1950s cop shows, “It's a fair cop, Guv. You got me bang to rights.”

I say ‘virtually’ no other traffic. Twice, after the camera flashed, I was overtaken by a vehicle travelling at near the speed of sound, and on one of those occasions the high-speed overtake was actually an undertake on the breakdown lane. Naturally this didn’t get caught by the camera. It might have been caught by an officer of the law had there been one present. But luckily, the majority of traffic enforcement can nowadays be dealt with by machines: the camera and the ATM. The policeman’s job has been reduced to sitting in an air-conditioned office, taking the money and rubber-stamping the receipts.

The pro lobby obsesses about ‘safety cameras’, citing evidence that shows that in the illustrative village of Netherby Poppleworth there were five fatal accidents in the three years preceding installation of Mr Gatso's device, and only two in the three years following.

Yet there were no fatal accidents at all in the five years before that.

‘Regression to mean’ is a known statistical phenomenon that, in a nutshell, says that extreme results are unlikely to be repeated. In the case of traffic accidents, a sudden rash of them (that causes uproar from the locals and demands that the authorities “do something”) is probably an isolated peak value. Once you hit the peak there’s only one way to go. When regression to mean is included in the accident reduction calculations, the resulting rate reduction is nowhere near as impressive as the headline figure.

According to an old copy of Autocar magazine, the British killed a horrifying 8000 people on the roads in 1963. Introduction of anti drinking and driving laws caused a substantial drop in death rates. Similar drops occurred following compulsory fitting of seat belts, then compulsory wearing of seat belts, and improvements to roads and cars have contributed to progressively lower and lower fatality rates. For many years, the British have killed around 3500 people a year in road accidents, despite increases in vehicle numbers and population. This appalling figure, albeit one of the lowest accident rates in the world measured by miles driven, vehicles numbers or population, has remained largely unchanged since the introduction of speed cameras. Yet prosecutions, which in the UK includes points on the licence, at the hands of Mr Gatso continue to increase exponentially.

    “What do I do with all these points?”

    “You collect them. If you collect 12 in a three-year period, you get a bicycle.”

“But the number of accidents in Netherby Poppleworth has decreased!” Of course! Drivers slow down for the village and then speed up again afterwards. Maybe a driver will take additional risks because he was delayed in the village and will have his accident elsewhere. I can only speculate as to the number of accidents that occur as a direct result of a speed camera. Mr Mercedes gets flashed and then stamps on the brakes at 150kph in the overtaking lane. Why? Can he brake faster than the speed of light or something? He then gets rear-ended by Mr Volvo who wasn’t really expecting the car in front suddenly to stand on its front wheels.

Speeding through built-up areas is daft. Rumble strips and prominent signage is as effective as a dayglo box on a stick to get drivers to slow down. At least it for me. It’s a darned sight more effective than a camouflaged grey box or an anonymous vehicle hidden behind a bush. But rumble strips don't extract money, do they? I would be interested to learn what the effect on speeds, fines and accidents was during the GITEX exhibition in Dubai a couple of years ago when Hewlett Packard's advertising involved giving each camera on Sheikh Zayed Road a fluorescent orange overcoat.

The supreme irony of my having to pay a pile of speeding fines this year is that I’m actually not a speed-crazed nutter (any more). Being older and wiser has slowed me down from my erstwhile days aboard a 1000cc Kawasaki. And it’s the effect of age and change of vehicle that have slowed me down, not the unwelcome plague of cash registers that have appeared on the roads over recent years.

I shall start to be more in favour of enforcement cameras when I learn of one that can detect bald tyres, lack of insurance, and drunken driving. The Mk I Police Constable is actually rather good at doing this. Detecting offences, that is; not drunken driving.

Traffic accident figures for Dubai exist, and are published on the Dubai Police. Records of numbers of registered vehicles, population and accident rates and types are available for 1993 to 2002. For the same figures up to 2005, Dubai Road and Transport Authority (the RTA, in a fit of irony) has published a booklet. Several things are demonstrable from the published statistics. At the risk of Lying With Said Statistics:-

  • Dubai tends to kill around 20 people annually per hundred thousand population;

  • The rate of fines per vehicle was between 2.0 and 2.5 per year up to 1999. It then dropped to 1.5 but has been gradually increasing since then;

  • The number of fines per unit population was steady at 0.5 to 0.8, but since 1999 has been creeping up;

  • Although fatal accidents per number of vehicles has halved, this is offset by a doubling in car ownership rates.

Conclusion: However it is measured, increases in the quantity of traffic violations detected and presumably punished does not bring down the accident death rate. And certainly as far as speeding is concerned, which constitutes around 60% of all reported traffic offences, these are detected almost entirely by camera.

Smart cameras exist (not in the UAE, for which I am grateful) that can read number plates. In principle these seem like a good idea: stolen, unregistered, tax-expired vehicles and fake plates can be readily identified and a police patrol scrambled to apprehend the occupants of the suspicious vehicle.

The system can prove where your car was at any time, and can therefore be used to prove its average speed on a particular section of motorway. This is only a small step away from Big Brother asking why your car was parked outside the Unicycle Nightclub last night, why your car was parked overnight outside a particular apartment, and what it was doing near the Barracuda hotel and beach resort. I’ll consider issues relating to the “If you've done no wrong you have nothing to fear” platitude in a different post.

The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.