Ask the Right Question… More Idiocy from Southwark Council

Way back in the mists of time, I wrote a bit about how Southwark Council had decided to make traffic congestion worse on Jamaica Road, SE London by stopping local drivers from using a ‘rat-run’.  Their consultation paper – sent to a tiny minority of extremely localised people – asked a series of heavily biased questions without a “none of the above” option.

Well these fuckwits are at it again: solving a problem that doesn’t actually exist and thereby creating a new one.

They’ve decided that people daring to park on the Western part of Rotherhithe Street – which is a no through road and not exactly busy – are going to be penalised, including all the residents who currently park there.  Their proposals , published at http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200140/parking_projects/4039/rotherhithe_parking_zone_study – show only very limited permit parking (at £125 each…) for residents with the rest of the area subject to double yellow lines.

Now there really isn’t an issue with parking on that section of Rotherhithe Street: I walk along it every time I walk to work and there’s plenty of space for parking and no trouble with the road being blocked from the (non-existent) through-traffic by these pesky parkers.

So what would happen when Southwark gets its way? Well quite simply all those vehicles will need to park somewhere else nearby and the nearest parking would be the Eastern side of Rotherhithe Street where there are (currently) very few parking restrictions and no resident-only parking spaces whilst still being a busy through road on the C10 bus route. And when all those vehicles park on ‘our’ street, where will we be able to park? Where will all those coaches that park overnight whilst fetching and carrying kids staying at the local YHA now be able to park? After all, Southwark allowed a new housing development to go up where the coaches used to park. Oh and another new development is going up opposite our house with Southwark’s blessing despite all bar one comment (duplicated 40+ times) objecting to it with no parking spaces included within the development because parking’s not a problem!

Now have a look at the questionnaire. See how it asks what times you’d like the restrictions to apply. There isn’t a “Never” option, is there? Ask the right question…

Modern Toss

Bollocks to this!

24 Months Later…

So here we are at the end of March 2016. The RX-8 R3 has just had another annual service and is showing over 84,000 miles up and is still being driven like I stole it.

The trouble with it is that there’s no real replacement … just yet?

On the horizon we may, just may, have one in the shape of the Mazda RX-Vision.

How cool is that?

Sadly it’s only a two seater and not a 2+2 as the RX-8 is, but who knows? At this stage it’s a concept.

Or should we go for the Mazda MX-5 RF (Retractable Fastback)?

Travis Perkins Text Spam Using Textlocal

More spam received this morning. This time from Textlocal – al@txtlocal.com – advertising Travis Perkins’ trade accounts:

Opening a Travis Perkins account is quick and easy, simply visit https://tx.vc/{tracking URL removed} and start trading today! Optout: Text TPSTOP to 60777

They’ve suggested via Twitter that I direct message them my number so they can opt me out of such texts, spam that I never opted in to receive in the first place.

And wasn’t the first rule of spam never to confirm that the e-mail address or telephone number was a live one?

 

Mannatech and Ambrotose

So once upon a time, a friend who was dying from Motor Neurone Disease wrote a blog about living with the disease. This was a full and frank discussion of the issues, his treatments and his observations. It’s a moving story.

Anyway, one entry mentions – briefly – a food supplement called “Ambrotose”:

“One of the doctor members very kindly gave me some powder which he says has helped his wife enormously. She has had MS for the last seven years. He also has a niece with a muscle wastage complaint who is also taken the same powder. Its trade name is Ambrotose and it is described on the jar as an immune support formula. It is a Food Supplement containing Plant Polysaccharides.

The ingredients are listed as: arabingelactan; aloe vera inner leaf gel powder; rice starch; gum ghatti; tagacanth; vegetarian glucosamine hydrochloride; vegetarian algie extract powder. Whether it will do any good or not remains to be seen but my friend is convinced it will slow things down. What it costs I have no idea but I’m pretty sure there’s no way I will get it on the NHS. I will try it for a month or so and then decide whether to continue with it….”

That’s all it says and is the only blog entry on the subject. The entry is now over 6 years old. Mark has since passed away.

Imagine my surprise when I recently received a “Cease and Desist” e-mail from a company I’d never heard of called Mannatech:

7/17/2015

TO: PRIVATE REGISTRANT

RE: Impermissible Use of Health Claims Attributed to Mannatech Products
http://www.dmarkcato.com/tag/ambrotose/

Dear : PRIVATE REGISTRANT

Mannatech, Incorporated (“Mannatech”) routinely reviews the internet to insure our products are being properly represented to the public. Health claims which go beyond the specific claims approved for Mannatech products and/or claims which state suggest or imply Mannatech products cure, treat, mitigate or prevent disease are against Mannatech policies.

Your website (identified above) contains statements which are contrary to Mannatech”s policies. You are hereby requested to immediately remove from your website any statement which (i) states, suggests or implies Mannatech nutritional products prevent, treat or cure disease, (ii) states, suggests or implies Mannatech nutritional products are a substitute for a doctor”s standard of care, and/or (iii) otherwise violates Mannatech”s Associate Policies & Procedures.

The removal of this type of impermissible information from the internet is of great importance to protect Mannatech”s right to conduct business. We request that you contact the undersigned at jdiaz@mannatech.com within five (5) business days from the receipt of this letter to (i) confirm the offending statements/representations have been removed from the website and (ii) confirm you will refrain from making such representations in connection with Mannatech nutritional products in the future (iv) address any concerns or questions relating to the issue raised herein.

Please keep in mind that it is your responsibility to ensure that any websites, blogs, social/networking mediums, other electronic media, etc. created by you or by a third party on your behalf used in connection with your Mannatech Independent Associate business complies with Mannatech Associate policies.

We thank you in advance for your immediate attention and cooperation, and again stress the importance of complying with our request and contacting the undersigned as requested herein.

Respectfully,

The Mannatech Legal, Ethics and Compliance Department

Note: Nothing contained in this letter shall be construed as a waiver of any rights Mannatech, Incorporated has at law or in equity, all of which are expressly reserved.

This initially annoyed me and then it amused me: the blog entry apparently is “against Mannatech policies”. Well good for them! It also “violates Mannatech”s [sic] Associates Policies & Procedures”. Really? Wow! If only I knew what those were, eh? And what “Mannatech Independent Associate business” are they talking about?

So I naturally ignored this fuckwit’s e-mail.

7/23/2015

To: PRIVATE REGISTRANT

RE: Impermissible Use of Health Claims Attributed to Mannatech Products
http://www.dmarkcato.com/tag/ambrotose/

Dear PRIVATE REGISTRANT:

A few days ago Mannatech, Incorporated (“Mannatech”) contacted you requesting your immediate assistance in removing statements from your website (identified above) which violate Mannatech Associate policies in connection with claims about our nutritional products. Our records do not reflect you”ve made the requested changes to your website or contacted the undersigned regarding this matter – this automated letter was generated accordingly.

Mannatech requests you immediately remove from your website any statement which (i) states, suggests or implies Mannatech nutritional products prevent, treat or cure disease, (ii) states, suggests or implies Mannatech nutritional products are a substitute for a doctor”s standard of care, and/or (iii) otherwise violates Mannatech”s Associate Policies & Procedures.

We further request that you contact the undersigned at Jdiaz@mannatech.com within five (5) business days from the receipt of this letter to (i) confirm the offending statements/representations have been removed from the website and (ii) acknowledge that you will refrain from making such representations in connection with Mannatech nutritional products in the future.

It is our hope that you now fully appreciate our concerns and will take prompt action to avoid escalating the matter further. The removal of this type of impermissible information from the internet is of great importance to protect Mannatech”s right to conduct business.

If you have already complied with the original letter from Mannatech concerning this matter, please disregard this automated letter. You will be contacted regarding the next steps in the compliance process in the near future.

Respectfully,

The Mannatech Legal, Ethics and Compliance Department

Note: Nothing contained in this letter shall be construed as a waiver of any rights Mannatech, Incorporated has at law or in equity, all of which are expressly reserved.

No. I don’t fully appreciate their concerns; I couldn’t give a toss at this point about them or their products. So I continued to treat it with the apathy it deserved.

This upset them…

7/30/2015

To: PRIVATE REGISTRANT

RE: Impermissible Use of Health Claims Attributed to Mannatech Products
http://www.dmarkcato.com/tag/ambrotose/

Dear PRIVATE REGISTRANT:

Mannatech, Incorporated (“Mannatech”) has attempted to contact you on two separate occasions seeking your immediate assistance in removing statements from your website (identified above) which violate Mannatech Associate policies in connection with claims about our nutritional products. Our records do not reflect you”ve made the requested changes to your website or contacted the undersigned regarding this matter.

Mannatech demands you immediately remove from your website any statement which (i) states, suggests or implies Mannatech nutritional products prevent, treat or cure disease, (ii) states, suggests or implies Mannatech nutritional products are a substitute for a doctor”s standard of care, and/or (iii) otherwise violates Mannatech”s Associate Policies & Procedures.

The removal of this type of impermissible information from the internet is of great importance to protect Mannatech”s right to conduct business. Mannatech is prepared to take legal action to secure your immediate compliance with this demand, including litigation seeking injunctive relief, damages and attorney”s fees as allowed under Texas law.

Due to the serious nature of this issue, failure to contact the undersigned at Jdiaz@mannatech.com within three (3) business days from the receipt of this letter will result in Mannatech taking additional action to secure your compliance.

Respectfully,

The Mannatech Legal, Ethics and Compliance Department

Note: Nothing contained in this letter shall be construed as a waiver of any rights Mannatech, Incorporated has at law or in equity, all of which are expressly reserved.

Ooh! So they’re now demanding I remove any statement about their products from the website. I’m quaking and Mark is no doubt turning in his grave at the thought…

So I thought I’d actually have a look at who Mannatech are and what this Ambrotose stuff is. Go and have a look and you’ll see that – despite all the jargon and faux scientific phrases being bandied about – it’s just a dietary supplement; a placebo if you like and an expensive one at that.  Indeed, their whole website is carefully worded so as not to actually make any specific claims about any of their products at all. It’s a work of genius! And then if you Google them further, you’ll see references to a lawsuit and issues with them being accused of being no more than a multi-level marketing outfit. It makes interesting reading (unlike their website). Their MLM status no doubt explains all that bollocks about their associate policies too. I can see why they’re nervous too: look at what the Texas Attorney General had to say:

“…Documents filed in Travis County district court reveal Mannatech’s scheme to exploit families, including those challenged by cancer, Down’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis and other serious illnesses. According to investigators, exaggerated claims about the therapeutic benefits of Mannatech’s dietary supplements and nutritional products were unlawfully used to increase sales. The attorney general’s enforcement action asserts that Mannatech’s deceptive practices pose a health risk to seriously-ill consumers who may forgo traditional medical attention because of the company’s false claims.

Texans will not tolerate illegal marketing schemes that prey upon the sick and unsuspecting, Attorney General Abbott said. Aided by an army of multi-level sellers and their fictitious claims about its products, Mannatech has aggressively marketed supplements to countless unwitting purchasers. With today’s enforcement action, the Office of the Attorney General seeks to shut down an elaborate scheme to defraud innocent consumers across the nation…”

Ouch!

Almost as ‘ouchy’ as their paying out $6M to make the case go away.

Let’s see what happens next with this bunch…

City of London 20mph Speed Limit

On 20th July 2014, a blanket speed limit of 20mph was introduced in the City of London:

20mph City of London Limit

20mph City of London Limit

Why did they decide to do that? It was apparently part of their “Road Danger Reduction Plan“. And yet, reading that, it’s not speed that’s the issue with the highest at-risk groups of cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.

Cyclists:

  • “… 84% of casualties are involved in collisions at intersections or junctions. This is in line with the Greater London average.
  • Collisions are more likely to occur in the middle of junctions rather than on their approaches.
  • Failure to see a cyclist appears to be a significant causal factor.
  • The main contributory factors identified in cyclist casualties are “turning right”, “changing lanes”, “opening vehicle doors” and “undertaking of large vehicles turning left across cyclists path”. The last factor being the most significant in KSI casualties.”

Uh-huh. So speed isn’t really at issue at all here and indeed it looks like the main issue is cyclists with a deathwish undertaking – no pun intended – large vehicles.

Motorcyclists and Scooterists:

“…As 72 per cent of motorcyclists were injured due to the actions of other road users, a significant reduction in motorcyclist casualties will only be achieved by addressing the behaviour of other road users, particularly car, taxi, and goods vehicle drivers and by increasing motorcyclists’ awareness of other road users. The most common causes of a motorcyclist being injured are pedestrian lack of attention, motor vehicles turning right across their path, and vehicles U turning.”

I see. So the trouble here is pedestrians and vehicles doing right and U turns, neither of which are speed-related.

Pedestrians:

“Goods vehicles, coaches and buses are disproportionately involved in collisions….

“Pedestrian inattention” has been identified as the main contributory factor for pedestrian casualties.”

Interestingly, it also notes that there are clusters of casualties around the stations where “the City experiences considerable over-crowding of footways, particularly at peak times, with pedestrians stepping onto the carriageway.” So it appears that people stepping off the overcrowded pavements into the path of slower-moving vehicles is the risk here, again rather than speeding. Perhaps investment/improvement into the pedestrian walkways is the key here?

According to the London Evening Standard:

Michael Welbank, speaking on behalf of City of London council, said: “For the City of London to continue its success as an international business hub it is critical that its streets should be safe for all who use them be they commuters, pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, motorcyclists, shoppers or cultural wanderers and dreamers.”

So maybe infrastructure investment might be a better idea, along with enforcement of other legislation and education of pedestrians and cyclists? Or why not simply reintroduce the Locomotive Act 1875, although this would mean fewer speeding fines and less “Being Seen To Be Doing Something”:

"Red Flag" Act

“Red Flag” Act

Happy Holidays!

Well I’m counting down to our Eurothrash 2014 – a week in Austria on the Sprint GT with Ali and a couple of mates – and I’m definitely in the holiday mood.

This year around Easter I went to Fuerteventura yet again, this time taking my kids and their partners and Ali, which meant the villa was packed and I had to hire two cars for us all thanks to all our gear (and the fact we were six!).  Ali and I are heading back there again at the end of the summer, so much more shooty fun is envisaged!

And I’ve also just booked the first of our holidays for 2015: Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand next spring to start us off in a bunch of 5-star hotels. The second week at Ko Samui in particular should be spectacular with a villa to ourselves with its own private pool, outdoor sofas and rain shower and a beach:

Garden Pool Villa
Garden Pool Villa
Beach View
Beach View

It’d be rude not to take my camera gear and do some shooting whilst we’re here!

2013 Review

Well as I sit here munching on Jelly Babies until I feel sick – check! – it’s time to do a quick review of 2013:

January

Work took me to Paris a few times. At home I viewed a house in the block I live in, but was unable to move on it until all the financials were sorted, so I had to let it go. Gigging involved James Gillespie.

February

A couple of great photoshoots this month: Elle Black at the place she was living in in London and the London Fashion Weekend and my first proper catwalk shoot.

March

March started with some running to build up my fitness before the proper training for the Berlin Marathon, which I carried on whilst over on holiday in Fuerteventura with the ‘kids’ despite breaking a toe after a day or two there. Amy’s performance for her finals went ahead which was a really produce moment for me.

I also enjoyed afternoon tea and burlesque with GT one weekend! On the work front, there were more seminars and training to give.

April

The highlight for April was GT running the Paris Marathon and a luxury dirty weekend in Paris. My training was going OK-ish with my tricky calf muscle being a problem: I was using Ibuprofen tablets and gel.

May

Lots more running with a few 5km runs as I was beginning to build up my distance running. GT was running the Milton Keynes Marathon – on a very hot and dry weekend… – and I decided to do their Superhero Fun Run. Not so fun in that heat and with my calf muscles playing up badly, but I was still the first superhero home:

Milton Keynes Superhero Fun Run
Milton Keynes Superhero Fun Run

There was a lot of fine dining: celebrating a friend’s life with champagne and dinner at Le Pont de la Tour with GT and the Harelquin’s End of Season Dinner at the Hurlingham Club; I decided then I needed a new dinner suit…

Work saw a lot of client training in England and Northern Ireland.

On the photography front, I started shooting again: this time Alexa Star for what I was calling my Polaroid Project:

Alix - Polaroid Project 04
Alix – Polaroid Project 04

June

The highlight of June for me was undoubtedly our Eurothrash to the Pyrenees with Yox and Purge. Photos and videos and a write-up are in this blog post.

Other than that, my knee was starting to play up really badly when training…

Oh and I ordered a new motorcycle: a Triumph Sprint GT.

July

So I picked up the Sprint GT: very pleased with it, too.

July saw the start of some physiotherapy on my knee to try to improve – but not fix – it. I’d had to cancel my place in the Berlin Marathon; postponed until 2014 now.

Work-wise, it was Paris, London and Manchester.

August

Still having lots of physiotherapy on the knee which is beyond salvation short of an operation. My Consultant had suggested I stop running and do biathlons instead – cycling and swimming – but “run a marathon” remains on my bucket list so he said I should do the one to get it crossed off and then stop … after a 14 week lay-off. In the meantime, cycling would help: high cadence, low impact/pressure stuff, so that’s what I started doing – 43 miles this month.

Gigging was Iron Maiden at the O2 Arena.

September

Well the Berlin Marathon was September’s highlight: not for me, as I couldn’t run it, but for GT who scored a (well below) sub-4hr marathon PB which gave her a Good For Age entry for London in 2015.

Gig this month was Kings of Leon as part of the iTunes Festival and cycling mileage was 41.

September also saw my photo of the year: walking home from work, I came across the London Air Ambulance landed on Potters Field by Tower Bridge as a cyclist had been squished. I happened to take a quick iPhone shot of the landing site pausing only to try to set it up as best I could and then I uploaded the image to Instagram. That night, a local news site picked up on it and asked if they could use the credited photo on their site, which they did. The next morning it was picked up by ITV News and used on their site with credit (eventually). And the London Air Ambulance themselves picked up on it and asked me if they could use it for their promotional stuff. I was happy to licence it to them and indeed made a bigger version for them as the original would be too small for print:

London Air Ambulance at Tower Bridge
London Air Ambulance at Tower Bridge

October

Work-wise, I was here, there and everywhere: London, Manchester and a day trip to Vancouver to do a presentation! That was hard work.

I also arranged another photoshoot with Marlyn Lindsay: this time at my apartment. Very pleased with the results too:

Marlyn Lindsay

November

Or “Movember” as I grew another hairy slug under my nose for the month.

A big month for me this one: I split up with GT as it just wasn’t working as both of us would have wanted. Better to end it on friendly terms too.

Lots of gigs this month too: Bring Me The Horizon, The Cult, Lacuna Coil, Queens of the Stone Age, The Pixies and Vampire Weekend!

December

December saw another Canadian day trip: this time to Toronto which was fun.

Gigs were London Grammar and Placebo. Both excellent!

I finished my photography off with another shoot with Marlyn Lindsay who never fails to produce the goods: this is why I like shooting seasoned professional models.

Marlyn Lindsay

And so as we go into 2014, it’s looking really good: work is on the up and up, my personal life is great and on the photography side I’ve already got a lot of shoots in the diary including one with a Hollywood-based International fetish model. Wow!