Archive for May 24, 2012

Measuring the Universe

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , on May 24, 2012 by telescoper

Here’s a cute little video produced by the excellent folk of the Royal Observatory Greenwich about the forthcoming Transit of Venus, and how such events can be used to establish the distance scale of the Solar System..

Operation Torch

Posted in Bute Park with tags , , , on May 24, 2012 by telescoper

Tomorrow, Friday 25th May 2012, the Olympic Torch Relay will arrive in Cardiff on its way across the United Kingdom to its eventual destination in London’s East End. Why this is so interesting I don’t know. I think it would be a lot more fun if they made a real race out of it; Olympic Torch versus Olympic Fire Extinguisher, for example. Instead the Bearer of the Torch (and associated entourage of security men) will head into Cardiff from the direction of Newport, run around randomly for a bit in the city to maximise traffic disruption, and then head into Bute Park where it will start off a “free” concert for 15,000 people.

Cardiff City Council has clearly gone a bit berserk in its desire to throw money around and try to create an event to bolster its sense of its own importance. Whatever happened to the age of austerity? We’ve obviously got money to burn!

For example, these Olympic Rings were put up some weeks ago in Cathay’s Park, in front of Cardiff’s fine City Hall:

Quite nice. Very few Olympic events are actually happening in Cardiff, of course, and those that are seem to be attracting negligible interest, so one wonders why it is necessary. It also cost £300,000. That’s about £60,000 per ring.  Just saying.

The preparations for tomorrow’s Bute Park extravaganza have been going on for two weeks, with a huge section (Coopers Fields) closed to the public, the intrusion of dozens of heavy vehicles carving up the turf, and the closure of the cycle paths.

Here’s a view through the railings at the area chosen for the “free” pop concert. Of course it’s not actually free. It’s just the people who are going to it that don’t have to pay. Tickets were apparently distributed by some kind of ballot, although I don’t recall ever seeing it advertised. Nobody I know managed to get any tickets either. I wonder who did? One possible explanation is that there are 15,000 tickets, and the number of people employed by Cardiff City Council is..er…15,000. Coincidence?

The concert venue  is ringed with burger, pizza and chip vans and is sponsored by Coca Cola. Apparently the irony of marking a celebration of athletic achievement in this way seems to have escaped the organizers.

Last night I walked home through Bute Park. The weather was lovely and quite a few people were out in the Park enjoying the sunshine, crammed into the small part near the Castle that is still open to the public. Juggernauts like this were moving in and out of the Park along the footpaths:

Is this really the right way to treat a public park? You could say that it’s a special occasion, but a similar thing happened just a month ago, and no doubt other events will happen throughout the summer. It’s a park, for pity’s sake, not a building site!   The number of heavy vehicles thundering around the footpaths has increased enormously since the decision to build a new road entrance a few years back. The effect on the Park’s environment of all this traffic  has been devastating.

And then there’s this:

As this lorry turned to head towards the South exit of the Park – that’s the one that was supposed to have less traffic through it when they built the new road – there wasn’t enough clearance and it ploughed into the branches of a tree. The person who had been walking in front of the lorry saw me taking a picture and asked me to stop. They don’t want any evidence of the damage they’re doing, obviously.

You can bet your bottom dollar that Coopers Fields will be completely trashed by the 15,000 strong crowd tomorrow night. You can also bet that the Council will do all it can to conceal the cost of clearing up afterwards, even if it does bother to repair the damage. It’s very sad that beautiful Bute Park is being treated in such a way.

In fact I think it’s criminal.