Get Transport Moving, Darling

In the wake of Stephen Byers long overdue resignation, Alistair Darling has been appointed the new Transport Minister.

Byers’ successor needs to get transport policy moving in the right direction, and moving quickly. Road and rail users want to see a sensible transport strategy that delivers long-term improvements not piecemeal measures and knee-jerk reactions.

The new Transport Secretary must get Britain moving again. To help Mr Darling, the Conservatives have published the top five priorities for transport policy:

To adopt a serious transport strategy: In recent weeks the Transport Select Committee, the Commission for Integrated Transport, and the Social Exclusion Unit have all attacked Labour’s Ten-Year Transport Plan. The Transport Select Committee called it ‘incomprehensible’. This must be addressed.

To address the problems on the rail network: Stephen Byers’ decision to place Railtrack into administration had a disastrous effect on the rail network. Delays and cancellations are up, while the cost to the taxpayer of keeping the company in administration is around £1 million a day (The Times, 20 December 2001).

To reverse the worsening congestion levels in our towns and cities: Five years ago, Labour’s first Transport Secretary, John Prescott, said: ‘I will have failed if in five years time there are not far fewer journeys by car’ (The Guardian, 6 May 1997). Since then, congestion has increased on all roads, despite the fact that running a car is now the most expensive item in a households’ budget.

To work constructively to deliver a secure future for the London Underground: Labour have spent considerably less on the Tube than the Conservatives, and performance has got worse. Now, they need to rethink their botched public-private partnership proposals, and work with others to secure a good future for the Tube.

To take action to restore the air traffic control system to good health: In opposition, Labour promised that our air was not for sale, but we are now paying the price for their botched part-privatisation of air traffic control. Failures in the air traffic control system are becoming increasingly common, resulting in delays and cancellations. Labour ignored expert opinion and pushed ahead with their plans. Now they have to take action to restore the system to good health.

Speaking about Byers’ resignation, Shadow Cabinet minister Damien Green said:

“His long overdue departure will do nothing for our crumbling transport system. The real scandal of the Byers era has been the failure of the government to implement a sensible plan for improving our railways and easing congestion on the roads”.

New Labour, New Strike Action

This week’s local government strike by public sector unions is disrupting council services across Swindon. This strike will not help improve public services. It can only hurt Swindon residents, and particularly the vulnerable, who rely on those services.

Swindon’s council workers provide important services to the community, from street sweeping to caring for the elderly and disabled. However, public sector pay has not kept pace with the reality of the local economy. Many council workers are priced out of Swindon’s housing and rental markets. This contributes to the council’s problems of staff retention and recruitment.

If the local government pay offer does increase, whether by strike or by negotiation, the council faces the problem of financing that increase. Local government staff have been offered a pay increase of 3%. The unions’ demand for an across-the-board pay increase of 6% is unrealistic and would add over Ł2 million to the agreed budget for this year. This is money Swindon Borough Council simply can not afford, and would represent a further 5% increase in council tax.

Whilst Labour’s waste and mismanagement of Swindon Borough Council’s finances has not helped the situation, some blame must lie with the Labour government that has starved this council of resources. Local authorities of all political persuasions are aware of the problems facing key workers, but this Labour government has hit them hard and will not listen.

Labour’s failures locally and nationally mean that Swindon Borough Council has insufficient resources to address the problems our key workers face.

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Stiga Advantage vs Joola Inside: Which Table Tennis Table Should You Buy

In the world of ping pong, the Stiga Advantage vs Joola Inside comparison remains quite a popular one. This is because a search for superior quality and affordable ping pong tables ends with these two brands. Undoubtedly, people look for quality tables for their home’s man-cave or family room.

As with other sporting activities, the table helps to share fun times with friends and family. Furthermore, Stiga and Joola stand as two of the most respected and best table-tennis equipment brands. These two companies manufacture a number of ping pong tables for different table-tennis experience.

At the competitive level, they make very expensive tables of thickness ranging from 19mm and beyond. However, for non-competitive playing, they have the more affordable 16mm tables which offer maximum bounce for leisure play. Indeed, these two tables fall under the $400 price tag and will become compared in a bit.

Without further ado, let us get to the comparison of these two quality ping-pong tables.

Stiga Advantage vs Joola Inside Comparison

Many a time, people are in a fix as to which of these two tables to buy. Largely because these two ping pong tables remain two of the best indoor tables available in the market. Making a decision as to which table to buy doesn’t come easy.

However, in a bid to help we give you the Stiga Advantage vs Joola Inside comparison. Therefore, let us take a look at what separates these two tables and help you make the best purchase decision.

Table Top

Probably the most important part of a ping pong table, let’s differentiate between the two table-tops. Unfortunately, there exists no difference because both feature a 15mm MDF playing surface. The table top provides sufficient bounce for leisure play but at a slower speed tan thicker tables.

Since both the Joola Inside and Stiga advantage have identical; table top, you cannot use this as a deal breaker. Furthermore, it means both table types have consistent results while playing on them.

Undercarriage

As with the table top, both tables have similar 1.5-inch powder coated steel legs. Furthermore, they can both split into 2 halves in order to store properly. Remember, the typical ping pong table build uses a net to connect both halves and these two tables do not neglect this build design.

If you want solo play, these tables both offer a playback feature and also come with locking caster wheels. These wheels help to hold the table in place in order to enjoy the game.  Another feature important feature: the leg levelers is seen on both table types for uneven playing surfaces.

In addition, you can set this up in under 10 minutes without any difficulty. Although they have a number of similar features, they differ in shipping weight. The Joola Inside and Stiga Advantage have shipping weights of 196 and 190 pounds respectively.

The Joola inside comes with a 2-inch caster wheel which helps to move the table from storage to assembly. Furthermore, the Stiga advantage features a zero-gravity technology, another unique difference between the two brands. This helps to support the weight of the table during storage or when assembling.

The Net System

The Net system helps to keep the game of table tennis defined, you can call it the life of the game. The Joola Inside features a patented clamp net system easy and quick to assemble. It makes storage and assemblage easy and will definitely make any player happy.

On the other hand, the Stiga Advantage sports a professional-grade clamp on net. Remember it’s the net that makes the table and both table types come with the high-end quality net system.

Durability

Remember, both tables come with thin MDF tops. The MDF table tops remain perfect for indoor use and cannot stand moisture or extreme changes in surrounding temperature. Although durability for these tables depends on the user and when stored in a cool and dry area you will use the table for a long time. The only noticeable difference here revolves around the shade of blue used on the table tops.

Design

The two table types have blue tops and offer the playback feature for solo play. In addition, you will have caster wheels and nets which holds the two pieces together during play. What now separates these two table types? Visually, they look alike, so we leave the answer to you.

The Price Tag

Just like the differences noticed in these table types, you can easily neglect the variation in their prices. Both the Stiga Advantage costs and the Joola inside go for less than $400.

Conclusion

Having listed a name of distinguishing feature and made the Stiga Advantage vs Joola Inside comparison, the power to make the right decision lies with you. What table to buy? The answer to this question is totally up to you.

However, you should note that the two tables have almost everything in common with little observable differences or none at all. Lastly, if you need a budget table for leisure gaming, you can invest in either of these two. In fact, purchasing one of these as a ping pong fan comes as a decision you wouldn’t regret a single bit.

What is Table Tennis Or Ping Pong? All About It

Table tennis or ping pong is one sport that has been around for more than a hundred years. Though the people who played this game only did it for fun to pass the time indoors or outdoor, this will later become an Olympic sport.

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Smaller tournaments are held in other venues that sometimes feature the best players from Europe and Asia. The individual should check the television for the schedule of the tournament or watch it live if ever there is one coming to town.

People who want to play this game for recreation or competitively should follow the rules.

1. Players who in table tennis should first have a racket or paddle. This should be made of wood and coated with rubber.

There are no rules stating how big or small it will be. It should just be colored black on one side and red on the other. The person is not allowed to hit the ball if that side does not have rubber on it.

In major tournaments, the umpire will inspect the racket used by the player before each match. If there are tears or any damage that will not affect the results in the competition, this can be used but the decision may be different when checked by another official.

Players who start the match with the inspected racket are not allowed to change this in between sets. There are exceptions to the rule should it be damaged during the match and the only way for the game to continue will be to use another one which will also be inspection prior to usage.

2. The table tennis table should measure 9 feet in length and 5 feet in width. This is made of timber which has white lines painted on the green surface. Players should follow these markers in serving and receiving. Those who fail will just give the opponent another point in the scoreboard.

3. The net should measure 15. 25 cm. This is usually hooked from one end of the table to the other. The players can check this using a ruler or having the one officiating it check the height before starting a match.

4. People who play the game should keep not move the table, touch the net or put the hands of the table when the ball is in play. This is to ensure the match is played fairly and the victor will be decided on the skill of the player.

5. Scoring in the tournament can be a race to 11 or to 21 points. Again, this will depend on the rules set before the match. Normally, a person will become the winner after winning 2 out of 3 sets.

6. Most matches start with a referee flipping a coin. The one who wins in the coin toss will decide on which end of the table to stay in and who will serve. It is only after the player scores 5 points that the other person can be the one to act as the server.

Table tennis can be played with another person or in pairs. The rules in both are similar except for serving.

Table tennis is one exciting sport to play or watch. Knowing the rules and the other details of the game will keep one abreast with who is winning or losing in the match.

Things to Consider When You Are Choosing a Table Tennis Paddle

When it comes to buying something related to table tennis, the choice often gets tough. Though table tennis players do not have to buy a large number of products, when it comes to selecting a table tennis paddle, a few things need to be taken into account.

Buying a table tennis paddle or table from an online store is always a good idea because it is easy to purchase a product online, after making comparison of different websites. You have many options and selection gets easy. In case you need to buy a table tennis paddle, here are a few things which need to be considered.

Choosing a Table Tennis Paddle

Purpose of Use: This should be your first criterion for selection when you are purchasing a product. The nature of use is quite important – will you be using your paddle on a daily basis? Are you purchasing the paddle to play professionally or occasionally? If you need to buy any product for professional use, you need to purchase professional quality products, which might be a bit expensive, but they are suitable for professional games, where there is no compromise on the quality of product.

Rubber – A lot depends on the kind of grip you have of the paddle. As people start playing table tennis, they realise the importance of good grips. Thus, paddles usually have different kinds of grips. Rubber grips are usually most common because your grip of the paddle is totally dependent on how comfortable you are. There are many different kinds of grips available for the paddle. Thus, do not forget to check the grip of the paddle you have.

Source of Purchase – It’s the age of online purchasing. People prefer to purchase online due to the many associated benefits of online purchase. Though there are many stores which deal with top quality paddles, it is often a hassle to purchase from supermarkets or stores. You need to visit such stores, look around for paddles and then make a purchase. Online purchase is a good option when you choose to buy table tennis paddles. Here are some reasons how online paddle purchase is considered to be quite beneficial.

When you are selecting products online, you have the convenience from shopping from your home. You do not have to slice out time from your busy schedule and then visit shopping. You have the opportunity of checking out products from different stores with just the click of a mouse. Thus, you buy only after checking out different products.

Price Comparison is also another advantage of purchasing paddles online. You can check out the prices offered by different stores of the same product. Thus, no one will be able to extract more money from you, because you have the scope of checking out the products.

Online stores which sell products like paddle display customer testimonials and reviews. These are usually provided by people who have purchased these and provided reviews for help of those who intend to purchase the products. Thus, before you choose to buy paddles online, do not forget to check online reviews and testimonials which will help you in selecting good quality products.

Comfort – There are many different kinds of table tennis paddles available. You need to honestly consider the kind of player you are. If you are a new player, you shouldn’t try out paddles which are meant for professionals. Some of these paddles are of high quality and sometimes not suitable for novice players. In such a case, you need to search for paddles; you can enquire for paddles depending on your level of game and skills. If you are comfortable with the paddle, you can think about ways of improving your game. Otherwise, it becomes really difficult to improve and enhance your skills.

Conclusion

If you choose to buy a paddle online, do not forget to know more about the return policy and other factors. In case, you find that the product is not suitable for use and you need to return the product you need to consider the return policy. This will save you from future harassments. Also, you need to know how you should take care of the paddle when you buy them. This will ensure that your paddle is in safe hands and it offers complete value for money.

ORIGAMY: Synthetic Biology Fiction

So I’m a bunch of the way through Rachel Armstrong’s ORIGAMY now, and here’s the thing:

There’s a field of rogue mutant hair transplants, and the hair field is grazed upon by a trip of transgenic goats, and there’s like five pages on the digestive processes of these goats, including shoals of microsquid that live in one of the four stomachs. And it’s brilliant.

If you’re not up for that: the book is about people who use chopsticks to tie knots in spacetime for travel purposes. And art.

Rachel is a synthetic biologist — I met her at a think-tank in Eindhoven a few years ago — and ORIGAMY is what happens when you let a synthetic biologist write a full work of speculative fiction. Possibly this practice will be banned after ORIGAMY is released.

It’s an incredibly dense piece of bizarre fantastika balanced artfully on a very simple structure, a journey of discovery, secrets and ancient threats. Parts feel like they’ve come from fable, or folk tales about strange circus people. In reading it, I’ve gotten through about ten pages at a time before having to stop and stare into space and process everything that’s just been dumped into my head. It’s like she freebased twelve novels into one intense concentrated rock.

ORIGAMY is a magnificent, glittering explosion of a book: a meditation on creation, the poetry of science and the insane beauty of everything. You’re going to need this.

It comes out on April 3 2018, and, afterwards, there will only be people who have read ORIGAMY and people who have not, and neither of them will be able to understand the other.

You can pre-order it direct from the publisher here, or through Amazon (UK) (US)

State Of The Connection

I neither like nor trust Facebook, but I’m using it again, partly to examine it once more, partly because I think they’ve probably won the current cycle of net-based communications. Most of my other messaging apps have become wastelands. Whether they call it a necessity or an addiction, 99% of people operate a FB account on some level. And now I do too.

Tried a new app the other day. It doesn’t work outside America, even if, like me, you have a US number that can receive the entry code as a text.

That US number I have, through an app called Holonumber, will stop working soon, as Holonumber is apparently no longer supported outside the US – can’t buy more credit.

Snapchat is irrelevant now, will be broken in a year and gone in three.

I’m back to using just one Slack channel, with six other people.

Signal has gone out of fashion (again), WhatsApp is basically the Facebook Phone Company, Instagram killed a bunch of things, Facebook is making a home videophone because that’s where we are again. Slack just went down, my local train service to London is going to stop working at 930pm every night til May and Joe Arpaio is running for US Senate.

Thanks for coming to my fucking TED talk

PS. Tinyletter is apparently going to be fine until 2019 earliest. And people are trying again to talk me into hosting a monthly event in London. I suspect I’m not quite in the mood in 2018.

Recent Quotes

Xefirotarch makes vampire architecture. The reasons for this go beyond the now well-known series of incidents at the group’s recent SF MoMA show, during which, over consecutive days in the spring of 2006, several children were left bleeding and traumatized by their encounters with the installation. Each claimed to have been “bitten” by its forms, but more likely the children had fallen upon one of its dangerous, fang-like angles, and left punctured by the sharp contours. One boy was hospitalized for nearly a week because of his injuries. The linear gash in his abdomen is now healing, but he remains adamant that the work lunged at him and not the other way around.

Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution, Benjamin H. Bratton (UK) (US)

Cohen got up early and studied the market at home before being driven to the office by 8 A.M. by a bodyguard in a gray Maybach. He arrived to find a bowl of hot oatmeal wrapped in cellophane waiting on his desk. His station at the center of the trading floor resembled a cockpit, with twelve monitors mounted in front of him.

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street, Sheelah Kolhatkar (UK) (US)

‘We see the same stars, the sky is shared by all, the same world surrounds us. What does it matter what wisdom a person uses to seek for the truth?’

– The ‘pagan’ author Symmachus

The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey  (UK) (US)

Reblog, Or: Little Radio Stations In The Night

On my newsletter last weekend, I wrote this:

Sometimes I wonder what it’d be like to go full-bore blog again, like in the old days. Twitter’s only real use is as a notification system, after all, so you’d just pump out post links to it from your blog.  You know, the way people used to, when having a place for your own voice and your own thoughts was a good thing.

When I was in the swing of it, way back when, it was like the world’s most minimalist radio station. A Station Ident post to start the day, a Night Music or Closedown post at the end of the day, littered with whatever strangeness and wonder passed my screen in between.

I miss that long moment when the web seemed full of people doing the same thing, or thinking in public.  It happens in the Republic Of Newsletters, now. But it was nice to have all those little radio stations broadcasting in the night.

Yesterday, Reza Negarestani emerged with a website called Toy Philosophy, whose first post was entitled Returning to the Age of Blogging.

Now, my RSS feeds never went quiet.  I linked to a friend’s blog post the other day and he told me half the reason he posted it was to see if anyone was still using RSS!

I’ve seen the idea circulating for a while: come off the streams, own your own platform for your own voice and your own complete statements.  It seems like a reactionary step, from some angles. But maybe that great river, The Conversation, was, like every river followed to its source, a dead end. The resurgence of the Republic Of Newsletters may be one aspect of a return to the ocean, dotted with little pirate radio stations broadcasting through the night again.