Ron examines the behavious of todays society
(I stole this heading, it was the title of an article some time ago by Michael Elliott, former editor of Newsweek)
There is little doubt in my mind that, as a nation, we have become more rude, uncouth and nasty even. In Europe we are now renowned for binge drinking and the associated loutish or yobbish behaviour. They are puzzled by this change in a nation once known for its good manners. Hospital staff, fire fighters, ambulance personnel, doctors, social workers, teachers, all face verbal abuse and, at times, violence by the society they seek to serve. I personally had an experience a while ago which, whilst not typical, thank God, illustrates my point. I was walking slowly through a department store looking at the goods on display when a young man pushed past me, bumping into me with some force. He did not say 'Sorry', he did not say 'Excuse me' or 'I beg your pardon', what he did say was 'Get out the f.....g way granddad'. Not that I think this type of behaviour is restricted to the young in society, on the contrary I do see teenagers that one could be proud of and that give some hope for the future
Why is it that some of us have become so badly behaved, however? Certainly much of this behaviour is associated with a minority that seem to have no social conscience, they are the vandals who do mindless damage, the litter louts, the graffiti writers, the petty criminals, the irresponsible joy riders and arsonists. Possibly the demon drink is a factor, it is much more freely available than it once was, but why so many Brits feel less able than their European cousins to drink sensibly is a mystery. The Government has recently stated its intention to clamp down on anti-social behaviour but has not backed up its aim with much in the way of action. The Conservatives have pledged a more visible police presence, it is true that policemen on foot are a rare sight these days and a more visible presence might be a deterrent but if the vandals are over sixteen they will probably be with motorbikes, scooters or cars and will easily escape foot patrols, and if they are under fourteen it seems that they cannot be punished by the law these days so that a policeman is no deterrent.
We need to face up to this problem of social anarchy and find better ways of combating it. Better education in manners and social responsibility might help, but this must not be something more for parents to abdicate their responsibility for. School teachers have a difficult enough job nowadays since all their powers to discipline children have been removed, about the only real sanction they have left is to expel the child and thereby generate another social misfit and potential vandal. Perhaps many of these problems arise as a consequence of the death of common sense as reported by M A White in the November issue.
We need to establish a new social contract; support by society for welfare and education etc should be dependent upon socially acceptable behaviour. Of course it is true that much of the anti-social behaviour is more likely to occur in poor communities, deprived youngsters, often from broken homes or with uncaring parents - who see little prospect for themselves and feel that society has failed them - may act against society by way of retaliation. Some liberal members of society compound the problem by excusing the bad behaviour of the underprivileged, which encourages the vandals to think that they are justified in their misdeeds. But being poor should not be an excuse, not all poor people behave in an anti-social manner, far from it. Anti-social and loutish behaviour is not restricted to the disadvantaged in society. One is often amazed to learn that, following the arrest of some football hooligans, some of them are professional people in well paid careers. People who verbally abuse or assault the referee at their child's football match, or assault hospital doctors, are not necessarily those from an impoverished background; neither are those who display road rage by verbally abusing other drivers. Such people set a bad example to their children, it all seems to be part of a general decline in standards. Radio, TV and the cinema could also be accused of reinforcing bad behaviour and foul language.
We need to be tougher on crime and unacceptable behaviour, we need to make more use of the powers that already exist, police and teachers should have more power to discipline children when their parents are unwilling or unable to do so. We need to watch the example that we set to youngsters and make more effort to teach good manners. We need to impress upon the media their responsibility in the matter. We need to impress upon people that, in addition to their rights, which many are keen to insist upon, they have responsibilities. At the same time, we need to make greater efforts to provide facilities and opportunities for youngsters where they can be challenged and where they can see that they are members of the community and not social outcasts, money spent in this way could bring greater returns than money spent on prisons, courts and electronic tagging
On the other hand, perhaps I am, as I have said before, another Victor Meldrew, a sad old man that has not moved with the times.
A recent report in the Lynn News was advocated the use of condensing boilers because of their higher efficiency. Condensing boilers extract more heat from the burning of the fuel by condensing the steam in the exhaust, thereby releasing the latent heat of the steam (i.e. the heat required to transform boiling water into steam at the same temperature) or, in other words, they more fully utilise the gross calorific value of the fuel. Very roughly this has the potential to increase the useful heat produced by about 10%. The Lynn News article claimed savings of up to one third in running costs. Such claims seem to me to be very dubious unless the comparison is made with a very old and inefficient boiler. If one is installing a new boiler the benefit obtained from a condensing boiler is very unlikely to be as high as15% when compared with a modern non-condensing boiler. Such an improvement is not to be sneezed at, however, and it will help to reduce CO2 emissions, but it is not cheaply or simply achieved.
A condensing boiler is significantly more expensive initially, it requires a drain to take away the condensed water, which is likely to be dirty and slightly acidic and, more significantly, it requires the water returning from the radiators to be particularly cool. A cool return water is a desirable feature with any boiler but with a condensing boiler it is essential that it should be cooled sufficiently to produce the necessary condensation. The net result is that the average temperature in the radiators is likely to be lower than when using a non-condensing boiler. A lower average temperature will mean a lower heat output from a radiator. Fitting a condensing boiler to an existing system is likely to lower the heat output of the system if the boiler is to operate at its maximum potential.