Looking back over the past week and to the weeks ahead – to rate the noteworthy, the cringeworthy, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the truly amazing.
Moronic vandals in UK try to kill famous tree
Sometimes you read things online that just stop you in your tracks because they are so ludicrously pointless and moronic. To be honest, that’s most days in the world of online infotainment packaged as news. Still, reading about some clowns who took a chainsaw to the well known and liked 300 year old Sycamore Gap tree on a part of Hadrian’s Wall in Cumbria, UK just took the biscuit.
I’ve seen this tree. When I was a kid I spent a freezing cold day exploring parts of Hadrian’s Wall imagining how much the Roman soldiers must have hated it – the cold, the threat of marauding Northerners, the inappropriate sandals. I can still remember the tree. It’s a beautiful Sycamore that stands majestically amongst incredibly well constructed Roman infrastructure. Thinking someone destroyed it for kicks is plain wrong.
As reported in The Guardian, Tony Gates, the chief executive of the Northumberland national park authority, said “Everyone’s just in shock. It’s one of the most iconic landscapes in the country. When we feel that sense of loss, how do we perpetuate the legacy and create a real sense of meaningfulness? There have been lots of really good ideas from the community already and so we need to be open and hear those. Whatever happens next needs to be with the consent and ownership of everyone.” (Source: “Boy, 16, arrested after felling of famous Sycamore Gap tree at Hadrian’s Wall,” by Robyn Vinter and Josh Halliday, 29 September, www.guardian.co.uk).
It’s heartening to see such a positive response to such a senseless act. The good news is that the tree is not entirely dead and there are hopes that it may regrow, although it will never be what it was.
0 stars, obviously.
Paris bans rented scooters
This story is a wee bit old and I wanted to bring it up before but got sidetracked. The city of Paris banned rented scooters at the end of August and they have been removed in an effort to ‘reclaim the streets’. Kudos. For those of you who love renting scooters, please don’t be offended but I hate them. I’m sick of seeing them discarded in roads and pavements and being driven where they shouldn’t be – causing injuries and scaring people trying to walk in peace. I get they are great for the environment but so is a bike. Unless they are heavily regulated and their spheres of usage policed I’m happy to see them go the same way as the good people of Paris have chosen – in a truck and carted off elsewhere.
5 stars to the Parisians. Très sophistiqué.
Cowboy cabs to be avoided at all costs
I was slow to take up Uber. I was doubtful and very possibly unsure of the ‘technology’. I mean, how can you order transport through an app? Well, that was years ago now and I haven’t had a bad experience with Uber, no matter in what town, city, or country I have used them. It’s simple to use and the prices are reasonable. More than that, I trust them and that’s been earned by great service and great drivers
Reading about commuters being ripped off by rogue taxi drivers with dodgy meters charging perverse fees made me realise how important it is as a consumer to only engage in businesses when you can or do trust them.
As reported in The New Zealand Herald, “Waka Kotahi (the NZ Transport Agency) tells the Herald it is ‘aware that some independent taxi operators are refusing short fares or charging potentially excessive fares for rides – in particular these operators target major events where demand will be higher, and supply of transport options may be at a premium’.
“It says it will act ‘when evidence of non-compliance is available, and our regulatory staff can also attend events to monitor operators and discourage non-compliance’.” (Source: “Taxi complaints: Cowboy cabbies, exorbitant fares and journey refusals – what are your rights?” by Shayne Currie, 7th October, www.nzherald.co.nz)
My advice would be to only use the major taxi companies and Uber and avoid independent operators that you know nothing about. If in doubt – look for reviews, In fact, start off with the reviews! If they’re suspect there will definitely be negative feedback to warn you off.
0 stars – ripping people off. No thanks!