Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cupid stunt

Photo: 7DAYS
Pictured is "one of 'tens' of 'worrying' images received by Dubai Police on a daily basis".

According to today's 7DAYS front page, it's irresponsible recklessness that is the traffic offence du jour, and we are all to be appropriately outraged. Of course; the biker in the pic isn't wearing boots, gloves, a jacket, and presumably no armour in his trousers. If he falls off, he may live to regret it. Notwithstanding his behaviour, I think the guy in the pic is a bit of a dickhead.

But biking attire isn't the point. Reckless driving by motorcyclists in general is. Apparently, the police have been confiscating bikes at a rate of about eight a week in Dubai so far this year, and Daddy simply pays the fine so that Offspring can continue on his headlong trip off the bike on to the ground or maybe six feet under it.

These guys are giving all bikers a bad name, and from a personal point of view, I don't need to get tarred with the same brush, just because I happen to ride a motorcycle.

But how about getting the level of two-wheeled lawlessness into perspective?

'Tens of worrying images'. Not dozens, scores, or hundreds. Assuming for a moment that Dubai police would have said 'hundreds' if they'd received more than 101 pictures, then 'tens' means no more than 99. Last May, 7DAYS reported how two million traffic offences had been recorded in Dubai in the first four months of 2013. That's around 16,500 offences per day.

'Worrying' images constitute less than 0.6% of the total reported traffic offences. I think it's the remaining 99.4% that should be worried about.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Video kills the way of the car

The rise of the portable and affordable high-definition video camera has produced video blogs, uncountable numbers on YouTube of videos featuring Russians running out of talent, and copious potential material for the purveyors of law and order. It’s this last point that I want to address here.

Dubai Police actually promotes a campaign that is imaginatively called “We Are All Police,” with a couple of contact telephone numbers: 800 4353 and 800 7000 since you ask. You’re welcome. The basic idea is that you pick up your phone and report an alleged offence, and the police will follow it up. Getting twenty calls all with variations on a theme of “Black Land Cruiser with this registration number driving at speed up the breakdown lane” might produce some police action. However, using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is illegal, so a lot of these witnessed offences presumably go unreported.

Anyway, my business proposal is to combine We Are All Police with a GoPro (or similar) camera. I’m sure many drivers spend their days wondering why there’s never a police officer around when someone displays a monumental lack of regard for safety or the law, and my proposal is to do something about it. Publishing a video on YouTube of someone publicly assaulting a van driver is illegal, and the material should, we are told, be handed to the police. So here’s the plan.

In essence, I ride my motorbike around Dubai with a GoPro camera stuck to my helmet, and I record the registration number of each vehicle along with the offence being committed, all in the same take. Dubai police get a copy of the video, and I receive 50% of the fine as payment. I estimate that I could clear several hundred dirhams a day just going about my daily business and only noting mobile phone use. Dubai police receive the other 50% with little effort beyond entering the data on the RTA’s database. Imagine how much cash I could make if it were my day job…:-

Selected traffic offences: 

Reckless driving                   (AED 2000 and 24 black points),
Mobile phone use                   (AED 200 and 4 black points),
Not wearing a seat belt            (AED 400 and 4 black points),
Inappropriate use of hardstrip     (AED 600 and 6 black points),
Tailgating                         (AED 400 and 4 black points),
Running a red light                (AED 800 and 12 black points),
Stopping on a pedestrian  crossing (AED 500).
(I could make a packet every Friday just by taking a GoPro down to outside the mosque on my local street corner!)

The benefits are obvious, from an income stream for Muggins for doing little more than riding his motorbike, but go on to improved driver behaviour and consequent reduction in collisions once the idea that any motorcyclist out there might be a police deputy, in much the same way that wearing a POLITE fluorescent tabard might. Then drivers might actually notice motorcycles, which would be of further benefit in the area of motorcycle safety. Oh, and I’d get to feel as if I was getting back at some of the knuckle-dragging morons who have inexplicably been allowed control of a motor vehicle.

What of gainsayers who say that “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”? How about I only report offences that I never commit? And yes, I would undertake police training if I were required to demonstrate some level of competence on two wheels.

And what of resentful motorists who take it into their pretty little heads to run bikers off the road, much as what happens already? Would you risk it if there were a reasonable probability of the incident being caught on video and used in your prosecution? No, I didn’t think so.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Ripe for the picking

They're cute, playful, affectionate, well-behaved, 100% indoor cats. But they've got to go. We cannot keep all five cats!

They turned nine weeks old last weekend; old enough for their jabs. So off to the vet they went. Having declared that they're healthy, the vet inoculated the cats against whatever it is that cats can get. Then it was home again, home again, joggity-jog. We've paid for their second jabs, which are due in three weeks' time.

The mother, Luna, we left at the vet so that she could be spayed and microchipped. No more kittens for her. I'm collecting her this afternoon, and anticipate being the recipient of baleful stares until she remembers who can walk on his hind legs, has opposable thumbs, and can open the cat food.

Anyway, the kittens are now considered to have ripened sufficiently to be picked. Two boys and two girls. How many would you like?

UPDATE 25 MAY: Two kittens have found their forever homes. Only the black-and-white pair remain. One boy and one girl.

As if there aren't enough pictures of cats on the internet already, here's an album devoted solely to this particular family.


Monday, May 05, 2014

Daily dairy diary

Screenshot nicked from O2
The Goat decided last July that fattening himself up on the run-up to Eid may have career-limiting consequences, and he at last resolved to lose some weight. His chosen strategy first involved diet and gym, followed by a much cheaper version of the same: diet and bicycle around the streets of Mirdif. Now that summer is fast approaching, it’s diet. The bicycle will re-emerge when it’s possible to ride one without melting.

The diet is an apparent success. All the Goat does is keeps a diary of calories consumed, and he endeavours to keep the total below 2,000kcal per day. This is obviously not always possible when posh dinners out get added to the mix, but the Goat has managed to keep his weekly total below 12,000kcal except when he was in Scandinavia last summer. Most weeks, it’s below 10,000kcal. And, surprise surprise, the weight falls off. The Goat has lost over 14kg in ten months by merely being aware of the number of calories he puts into his mouth.

The food-and-drink diary is most effective. It develops a clearer understanding of how many calories are in a particular food, but doesn’t actually put on any restrictions on what the Goat can eat. He will choose tomatoes rather than Pringles, toast rather than fried bread, and Guinness rather than lager. These are all the lower-calorie options. Strawberries, incidentally, have the same calorific value as tomatoes. It’s the sugar and cream that does the damage. Accurately estimation of foods’ calorific values has become easier with practice, but the Goat still has occasion to refers to the nutrition information on the packet.

Which, at last, brings the Goat to the point of this essay. How the nutrition information can be horribly misleading.

It’s fair enough to tell the consumer that one serving of Sky Flakes is three biscuits and has 120kcal, because no-one who hasn’t got a severe attack of the munchies is going to eat an entire kilo of Sky Flakes in one sitting. And an Almarai Fresh Cream 100g tub is listed at 320kcal per 100g. One tub; presumably one serving. The Goat has to hand a 35g packet of Ready-to-Eat Barbecue Flavor Chicharrito in Delicious Bite Sizes. Servings per container: 1. Calories per serving: 210kcal. So far so good.

Now look at small tins of California Garden Baked Beans. According to the blurb, one serving size is 150g and contains 150kcal. But the tin contains 220g. What is the Goat supposed to do with the remaining 70g? Share them? Waste them? And Lacnor Essential Orange Juice comes in a 180ml package with one straw, yet the nutrition information says that it contains 40kcal per 100ml. That’s right; the apparently individual package contains nearly two servings!

Final example is Glacéau Vitamin Water. This comes in a 600ml package, and contains 50kcal per serving. But one serving is only 240ml. This so-called energy water has to be shared between three drinkers if the stated calories aren’t to be grossly exceeded.

Here, then, is the problem in summary. If you pick up what looks like an individual single-serving pack, the nutrition information should state what is in that individual single-serving pack. The problem isn’t actually in the labelling, but in the package size. It should be one serving, not an illogical 1.5 servings.


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.