Peter Rhodes on smartphone society, the folly of flight and more misleading subtitles

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Chiefly dry
Chiefly dry

A reader swears the subtitles on a TV weather forecast warned of “Apache rain” and suggests we should circle the wagons.

It makes me wonder, if an individual suffered financial loss or physical injury as a result of being misled by a dodgy TV subtitle, could he Sioux?

Another reader offers some wise words on whether working from home will become the new normal when the pandemic is over. He writes: “The matter will be decided not by employers or employees but the insurance companies, when the claims begin to come in.” And I bet he's right. If you're using a £1,000 laptop owned by your company and your toddler pours his yoghurt over it in your living room, can't you see the insurance companies fighting like cats in a sack to dodge paying up?

Age UK accuses some pubs and other businesses of discriminating against older people by insisting on smartphone registration and payment. According to the charity, half of 65 to 74-year-olds and 70 per cent of over-75s will be excluded as they don't have a smartphone. One elderly would-be drinker turned away from a pub reports: “Older people like me don't have this computer knowledge because we weren't brought up with computers.”

But it's not as simple as that. Some of us are not short of “computer knowledge” but we don't see why something as simple as buying a cup of coffee should involve unleashing a satellite-based technology based on the wholesale filching of our details and a monthly contract with a multinational company, with terms and conditions longer than some books of the Bible. Smart technology has nothing to do with making your life simpler and everything to do with harvesting your personal information.

The Government's official advice is that “venues must have a way for people to give their details if they don't have a smartphone or other device” but how many businesses are obeying that? The global electronics industry sees those hordes of phone-less old folk as millions of potential sales. Politicians seem quite relaxed about the creation of a system where smartphone ownership is essential and even compulsory. If we didn't have such enormous faith in the integrity of our politicians, we might suspect that some serious lobbying was going on, heaven forbid.

Another influential industry must be quaking in its boots. In France, the National Assembly has banned all domestic flights on routes that take a train less than 150 minutes. This naturally focuses attention on flights within the UK, including the astonishing statistic that, before the pandemic, more than half a million flights a year were made between London and Manchester – a two-hour trip by train. When the airline industry enthuses about “getting back to normal,” don't assume that normal is the same as good, acceptable or wise.

I should declare an interest. Like many readers, I live under a flight path. Lockdown has been cramping, frustrating and irritating – but quiet.

Most Read

Most Read

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News