50 years of traffic wardens – Telegraph

The Telegraph reports on 50 years of traffic wardens

It was in September, 1960 – 50 years ago this year – that parking enforcement as we know it today began, when the first traffic wardens marched onto British streets.

In fact there were 40 of them and they inspired fear and fascination in equal measure as, in distinctive military-style uniforms with rows of gilt buttons, yellow shoulder flashes and yellow cap bands and with the power to issue £2 fines, they went in search of law-breaking motorists on behalf of the Metropolitan Police.

The very first ticket was issued to Dr Thomas Creighton who was answering an emergency call to help a heart attack victim at a West End hotel.
The medic’s Ford Popular, left outside as he tended the victim, was ticketed but – just as happens today when mean or thoughtless wardens ticket hearses, ambulances (or even rabbits in their hutches…) – there was such a public outcry that he was subsequently let off.

Some things never change. Today, in the Borough of Westminster, where it all started, 200 parking attendants – or Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs), as they are now known – patrol the streets.

And while their appearance has changed – witness the blue jacket, polo shirt, jumper, black trousers and baseball cap – and they work for the council instead of the police, their intent has not.

Last year Westminster issued 500,272 parking tickets, generating £69,301,000 and a surplus of £30,170,000. But it’s just one of 34 authorities issuing parking fines in London, which issued 4,151,901 tickets worth an estimated £337,911,693*.

A further 245 councils issuing tickets in England and Wales, by means of an army of about 18,000 parking attendants, issued 4,035,555 parking tickets in 2009, raising an estimated £267,761,347 in the process. Nationwide, Telegraph Motoring figures* suggest, drivers cough up £605,673,040 for parking misdemeanours.

Without driver or map, vans go from Italy to China

Without driver or map, vans go from Italy to China

Four driverless electric vans successfully ended a 13,000-kilometre test drive from Italy to China — a modern-day version of Marco Polo’s journey around the world — with their arrival at the Shanghai Expo this week.

The vehicles, equipped with four solar-powered laser scanners and seven video cameras that work together to detect and avoid obstacles, are part of an experiment aimed at improving road safety and advancing automotive technology.

Jason Hong’s Confabulations: Four Common Misconceptions of Graduate School

Jason Hong identifies Four Common Misconceptions of Graduate School

1. Grades still matter in PhD programs.

2. In computer science, a lot of students think that the majority of their time will be spent programming.

3. Some students come into graduate school thinking that there will be a lot of structure and that they just need to do the work assigned to them.

4. Some students believe that graduate school is primarily an individual activity with just more coursework.

He is writing about CS, but it applies to other fields.