Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Tony's Newsround

The Adventures of Boaty McBoatFace

British scientists are about to send a yellow submarine called Boaty McBoatFace to the Antarctic. The underwater robot carries the name that a public poll had suggested should be given to the UK's new £200m polar research vessel.

The Jersey connection is well known. Former BBC Radio Jersey present James Hand suggested the name and it proved incredibly popular. In the event, the polar research was named the RRS Sir David Attenborough, although there was a petition calling for Sir David Attenborough to change his name to Sir Boaty McBoatface "in the interest of democracy and humour"!

But the yellow submarine which travels with the polar research vessel was given the name, and of course it is topping many headlines. There is something very appealing about a yellow submarine of that name, and I’d be very much surprised if toy manufacturers didn’t try to get in on the act, or an author pens booklets by the name.

After all, the BBC is talking in its news reports about the “adventures of Boaty", and the Joey books about the little yellow Aurigny plane proved very popular. A Boaty book could also tell young children about the scientific work the submarine and polar research vessel are doing.

Cycles and Pedestrians

"Police in Jersey are appealing for witnesses after a female pedestrian was hit by two cyclists on Friday morning. The woman was crossing the road from the Route Du Fort car park to Cleveland Road at about 07:45. As she reached the central white line, she was struck by a male cyclist, who, in turn, was then hit by a second cyclist behind him, causing all three to fall to the ground. Police would like to speak to the cyclists involved, a second male who assisted the female up from the ground, and also the female driver of a white van who allowed the pedestrian to cross in front of her van just before the collision." (BBC News)

This incident highlights a perennial problem which Jorren Knibbe, writing in the Guardian, highlights: “a problem can present itself when the cars slow down and you want to get past: in a queue of traffic, should you pass on the left or the right? Or should you not pass at all?”

“The law doesn't provide an answer – there are no binding legal rules on how to pass other traffic on your bike.”

“The code recommends that you overtake where it's safe and legal, and also appears to allow you to undertake if you're in a queue and moving faster than traffic on your right (or if the car you're undertaking is turning right). So, legally speaking, cyclists essentially have a free choice as to how to approach stationary traffic.”

Gwenda Owen, an instructor on the Department for Transport's Bikeability cycle training scheme, proffers this advice:

"It is often better to remain in position in slow moving or stationary traffic, maintaining primary position [the centre of the left-hand lane] when your speed is similar to that of the other traffic. In instances when you decide it is advantageous to filter, then doing so on the right is a good manoeuvre as you are on the outside of cars, where drivers are more likely to see you."

Undertaking, she notes, can cause problems because “it puts you in a position where you are unexpected and cannot easily be seen”.

But what happens when a van slows down to let a pedestrian cross in front of them, and a cyclist overtakes and hits the pedestrian? Perhaps both should be taking care: the pedestrian to look out for the cyclist, and the cyclist to proceed with caution.

Caring about new information?

A further delay to the publication of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry’s final report has created concerns and a sense of unease, the chairwoman of the Jersey Care Leavers Association has said.

The panel initially planned to release its final report by the end of last year, but later announced that this would be postponed until the first quarter of this year. This week they said that the report had been delayed further because new information had been received.

Carrie Modral, chairwoman of the JCLA, said: ‘I have had no concerns before, but I have some slight concerns now. What information have they received at this stage, and where has it come from? It could be a very easily explainable situation, but the panel have been evasive and because of that it is concerning. I want to know what the information is. If it has come from within Jersey, then as an interested party we should be able to see it.’

All existing submissions regarding child care from witnesses and experts in the field have been read into the inquiry and placed on the inquiry website. Are these new documents also going to be made public?

Air Chief Marshalls

A former head of the Royal Air Force will be sworn in as Jersey's Lieutenant Governor this morning. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton will take up the post as the Queen's personal representative for the next five years.

An air chief marshal is equivalent to an admiral in the Royal Navy or a general in the British Army or the Royal Marines.

Sir Stephen Dalton is a former pilot, and it is interesting to note that Air Chief Marshalls seem to be mainly drawn from the ranks of fighter pilots rather than other officer classes.

In his book, “Observers and Navigators: And Other Non-Pilot Aircrew in the RFC, RNAS and RAF” (2015) Wing Commander C.G. Jefford looks at the statistics and sees that:

“Looking a little closer still, we find that, of the total of 108 air officers, all four air chief marshals, six of the seven air marshals and seventeen of the twenty-five air vice-marshals were pilots. Yet forty-two of the seventy-two air commodores were not pilots (thirty—two drawn from branches other than GD plus the ten navigators). “

“In other words, as one climbed the four highest rungs of the RAF's career ladder, the proportion of non-pilots one was likely to encounter fell progressively from 58% to 32% to 14% to zero. It would seem, therefore, that for all practical purposes, the 1962 quotas were still being applied and that ‘comparability’ actually began. and ended. with air commodores — strictly speaking, it did not even begin with air Commodores because pilots were substantially over-represented even at this level.”

“There could be many explanations for this curious situation but it is difficult to dismiss the parallel with 1918 (see page 129). It would seem that pilots still had a natural tendency to favour other pilots and that the pilots who still filled all of the most influential positions in the Air Force, automatically selected others of their kind to succeed them. Intentional or not - because of the self-perpetuating nature of the organisation”

However the institutional bias in promotions, I am sure Sir Stephen Dalton and Lady Dalton will be a great asset to the Island.

But it is interesting to note that his replacement, Air Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford will become Chief of the Air Staff in a shake-up of senior Armed Forces posts, and will be the first non-fighter pilot to hold the job. All of his predecessors have been fighter pilots, and his appointment will be seen as a sign of the shifting nature of the RAF’s work.

And finally... I did like William Bailhache's speech as Bailiff to Sir Stephen:

"I wish you and Lady Dalton the most satisfying and happiest of sorties with us. May the Jersey sun shine warmly on your faces, our gentle breeze at your backs: may our Jersey Royals keep you nourished and the tranquility of our green lanes rise up to greet you!"

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