Monday, 25 April 2011

Apple for Tutor

AutoStrade remain an interesting phenomenon in Italy.  The motorway network is huge. It also remains a source of amusement, irritation and occasional incomprehension.

In one of the most beautiful countries on earth, with a great tradition of design, the motorways are  incredibly ugly and illogical. As soon as you cross the border, you have to pay a nominal two-euro fee for the first few miles. As soon as you reach Milan, you are repeatedly informed that the only way to Bologna is to stay in the outside (far left) lane. Until you have circumvented the whole of Milan only to discover that all three lanes of the motorway go to Bologna. Why are there no international agreements on signposting? And do the Italians really think it’s easy to read such a vast number of signs if you also have some in white on blue, some in white on green and the rest in black on white?
Then you discover that the whole length of motorway from Milan to Rimini has now been fitted with that wonderful invention “Tutor”, i.e., your average speed is metered all the way and your GPS tends to bleep continuously if you touch 130.

I have also discovered the disadvantages of such a speed-control system. One percent is content to pootle along at 100 in the inside lane. There are still some that try to race at 200 km/hr in the outside lane but 90% chugs along at 127 km/hr in the middle lane, with occasional attempts to overtake at 131 km/hr. So the inside lane is empty, the middle lane is always blocked and the outside lane is very dangerous with some cars trying to do 200 and others 130.

I couldn’t believe that was the intention of the project until we reached Bologna, where it became apparent that the inside lane was apparently permanently closed, to prevent people blocking the middle lane, I suppose, because now there wasn’t one.

I still wonder who those are that race at 200. Do they know the system doesn’t work? Are they police offers or Mafia who can bribe the Tutor?

Monday, 11 April 2011

Alerts to Year 2011 Threats in Europe


The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is canceled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

-- John Cleese - British writer, actor and tall person

I have nothing to add!