Peter Rhodes on nice jobs, naughty jobs and a glimpse of the oh-so-smart future

Here is an extract from an email from a reader. Somehow, it seems to speak for the 21st century as the bemused individual comes into endless conflict with the powers-that-be (in this case an electricity company) and their baffling technology. He writes: “They keep sending me emails asking for my meter reading and when I click on the link it tells me I don't need to as I have a smart meter.”

In the meantime, if you get a video message from E.ON about something called the smart grid, watch it. Basically, more and more consumers want electricity and building a massive new grid of sub-stations and pylons is too expensive. So the power companies are working on smart systems that sneak a bit of electricity which isn't being used in House A and direct it to House B instead. The decisions will be taken by smart devices. For example, you may want to use your washing machine at 8pm but the machine, being smarter than you, will not switch on until 3am when there's a little more electricity sloshing around.

The video doesn't explain what will happen to old worriers like myself who get very twitchy about electricity switching on and off in the middle of the night. And while smart grids, making the most of the nation's thin-spread supply of electricity, may be clever, are they clever enough to cope with the surge in demand that goes with a mass murder on Coronation Street or a major football match, in the middle of a blizzard? At what stage is the smartest thing to flick the big switch and give half the country an old-fashioned power cut?

The row over MPs having outside jobs has raised the question: what sort of job? Clearly, no-one objects to MPs doing work (you may applaud and bang saucepans at this point) such as nursing, being a GP or helping out in a food bank. Likewise, no-one would support MPs doing jobs (you may boo and hiss at this point) such as managing a hedge fund, being an arms dealer or advising shifty industrialists on how to dodge paying tax.

Clearly, Parliament will need a list of good and bad employment in order to sort the angels from the demons. I look forward to the establishment of the All Party Employment Adjudication Committee (apply now, top rates, lots of freebies guaranteed).

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