Saturday, 20 May 2017

Wondering About Tabby's Star

In a galaxy, far, far away is a weird star called KIC 8462852 which has been confusing astronomers for decades and has decided to be weird again and has sent Astronomers scrambling to point their telescopes it's way.
The stars and planets act in a perfectly predictable fashion so there has been much head scratching as to why KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's Star, changes brightness significantly and at irregular intervals.
Now there is another significant dimming dimming of the star 1,275 light years away in the Cygnus Constellation and the usual suspects such as a planet passing in front the star has been dismissed as this would not cause such a significant change in brightness, and it would be more predictable.
Other suggestions include a large, immensely dense cloud of dust and debris around the star or it is recovering having been hit by a planet and another theory suggests a swarm of comets may be responsible.
The whispered suggestion is that an alien mega structure has been built around the star to harvest its energy, something which is referred to as a Dyson Sphere, named after the man who put it forward as a theory in the 1960's as a way for future generations to power the Earth by partly enclosing the Sun with colossal solar panels.
It is a scary thought that if it does turn out to be an alien mega structure, and as were seeing how it was 1,275 years ago, while they had the intelligence and scientific know how to build a mega structure in Space, the 8th Century humans were inventing horseshoes and believed that a solar eclipse was the Sun being attacked by an evil demon.
Heaven help us if they ever discover us.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Poor Donald Trump

You have to feel for the poor old American President, Donald Trump, who has stated that: 'No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly'.
Nelson Mandela may differ and it is good to see the Roman Emperor, Valerian, who was disposed, used as a footstool before being made to drink molten gold and his skin removed and stuffed full of straw getting a mention.
To my knowledge Trump hasn't been used as furniture nor a gold receptacle or even a human scarecrow although i'm sure with his considerable girth he would make a decent beanbag.
He does seem to have a chip on his shoulder that the media are out to get him but why they have a problem with the racist tax dodger and self-confessed sex molester is anyone's guess.
So he has told a few lies, colluded and handed over top secret material to the Russians and is prone to a bit of exaggeration but it's time he got a break, after all, it can't be easy having all that power but having to look at that tiny penis every time he visits the gents and sleeping in beds drenched in Russian prostitutes urine.
I say keep your pecker up Donald, it's not as if you will have to put up with it for much longer, that impeachment will come before Christmas tops. 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

FA Clamping Down On Diving

Being British, we tend to overlook the British footballers who dive around like a spawning salmon to gain a penalty and blame the foreigners for it but whoever does it, the Football Association has announced that footballers who dive will face a two-match retrospective ban from the start of next season.
About time because diving has become a plague in the game and what some call an art in winning a penalty' is, to the rest of the world, blatant cheating.
No team would like to top a poll of the Leagues biggest cheaters but someone has top the list and according to a Daily Mirror study of which team have spent the most time conning the referee by rolling around like they have been shot by a cannon when they step into the penalty area, it's Chelsea who can put the award for biggest conmen next to the Premier League Title in their trophy cabinet. 
Chelsea are the Premier League team who have been involved in the most diving incidents since 2012/13 with Sunderland runners up and then Southampton, Tottenham, Manchester United, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Liverpool, Swansea, Manchester City and then Stoke.
Diving does not seem to have helped Sunderland but as an Arsenal fan, whose team is nowhere near the top 10 of the biggest cheaters, maybe throwing themselves to the ground like a big girls blouse in the style of Dele Alli or Diego Costa would help them climb above the fifth place that beckons this year.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Labour Nationalisation Policy

If the leaking of the Labour Party manifesto was supposed to embarrass the Labour Party, it spectacularly backfired as the plans to renationalise the rail, water and utility companies went down surprisingly well with the public. 
During the 80s and 90s, the Conservative Party went on a privatisation spree with the mantra that market competition in the private sector was a more efficient way to provide services provided by the Government and allows for a better price and service for us.
In practise, however, it increased costs, lowered the quality of services and led to rising unemployment because the simple logic tells us that it is impossible for the private sector to deliver the same service for less and still make a profit.
Private companies exist to make a profit for their investors even if they are providing a service to the public, and the only way to increase profit is to reduce the money they pay out (wages) or increase the money they bring in (prices), both of which comes at a huge cost, financial and personal, to the public.
A recent example was the great sell off of the Royal Mail which made a profit of £403 million for the Government in 2013, while in 2014 the profit went directly into someones bank account instead.
A week after the privatisation went through, the new owners announced the price of stamps would rise as 'the price didn't go up last year' proving they couldn't do the same job with the same number of people at the same price.
The mantra remains that Privatisation will bring down price and increase service but in reality the service falls through the floor and the price goes up. Take a look at your next electric, water, gas, phone bill or train ticket and that will testify that it doesn't bring greater efficiency, benefits to the customer,  bring the best prices for the consumer nor improve the service.  
Essentially, it denies the Government much needed tens of billions in tough times so there you go, that's why Labour's nationalisation plans have struck a chord with the country.

World Becoming More Vegetarian

Adolf Hitler, it is often said, was a vegetarian. He wasn't of course but the link between refusing to eat a cheeseburger and killing millions under the banner of Fascism is well known, albeit mostly in the minds of the sort of person who tuck into sausages with bits of minced eye and cow anus included for that extra protein.   
I like to point out that while Hitler, Stalin, Attila the Hun, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Vlad the Impaler, Caligula, George W Bush, Ivan the Terrible, Bin Laden, Donald Trump and Genghis Khan where all meat eaters, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Aristotle, Diogenes, Plato, Pythagoras, Socrates and Voltaire were all vegetarians.
Make of that what you will but apart from the moral and health implications of eating meat while the methane produced by the cattle is destroying the planet, things could be on the change because sales of meat free options have bloomed by 1,500% in the past year, according to a survey by online supermarket Ocado.
A third of the population identify themselves as 'flexitarian', meaning they are cutting down on their meat consumption and the demand for meat-free meals is soaring with an increase in sales of vegetarian meals up £17.2 million over the past year.
All great news for the planet, people's colons and the unslaughtered animals but most importantly we are moving away from a World of less beef and pork eating Hitler's, Genghis Khan's and Idi Amin's and heading towards one with more vegetable munching Da Vinci's, Gandhi's and Plato's.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Trump Impeachment: Coming Soon

It seems that Donald Trump, bored of not being an idiot for a few days, crammed as much idiocy into a few days to make up for it so what has the small handed tax dodger been up to recently to get even his own side groaning at him and demanding that he be forcibly removed. 
A quick recap shows in the space of a few days, he sacked the FBI guy leading an investigation into his dubious Russian links after he declined an invitation to drop an investigation into his friend and now former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, who resigned over undisclosed contact with a Russian diplomat.
Then the next day the President hosted Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and handed over information so highly classified that the US hadn’t shared it with its closest allies.
Countries that provide the highly sensitive information are said to be unhappy that intelligence they provided for only the eyes of a select few has been handed over to a country widely labelled as hostile with one European foreign minister stating they will re-evaluate the process of forwarding on sensitive information to the President.
With the sounds of him being in 'impeachment territory' ringing in his ears, the actions of Trump should be examined. 
The first explanation is that he is hiding himself in plain sight with the idea that people will think even he would not be that blatantly stupid if he was concerned about his Russian links coming to the surface, therefore he has nothing to hide.
The other view is that he is even more barn shakingly stupid and arrogant than previously thought.
I know which side of the argument my money would be on and as the evidence for impeachment grows stronger, America might start looking a bit more sane again, just change the nuclear codes before you drag him out first please.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Duh, Obviously

Fresh from the pages of 'Tell us something we didn't know', scientists have announced that Atheists are more intelligent than religious people according to dozens of studies.
Duh you may say but let's allow the scientists from the University of Rochester and the Northeastern University to explain why they think people who believe in a cloud man who made us from dirt are dullards. 
The thinking is that as people get exposed to new ideas and influences, they tend to lose their beliefs or get more religious during this time and the more intelligent are more likely to resist pressure to conform to religious pressure and eschew religion altogether.
Later in life, more intelligent people are more likely to get and stay married which makes them less reliant on the attachment that the function of religion provides. More intelligent people are also more likely to have higher level jobs and spend more time in school, which leads to higher self-esteem and encourages control of personal beliefs according to the study.
In the study, which was a combination of the results of 63 other scientific studies, the more intelligent members of the sample retained lower religiosity scores, relative to the general population.
There you have it, if you want to have as a meeting of minds about anything more intelligent than which end of a banana you should peel from, ask them first if they are a regular Church goer.

Cyberattack: Tough Times Ahead

Europol says it was fortunate that Friday's cyberattack which hit 200,000 victims in more than 150 countries happened when it did and people were logging off for the weekend but are warning that the attacks could pick up pace again on Monday as employees log back on again Monday.
The NHS has been widely hit in the UK by the ransomware cyberattack with files encrypted or locked with a threat to delete or expose the files publicly if the ransom of £230 is not paid by a certain time.
Up to 100 counties have been affected by the latest ransomware attack with tens of thousands of computers thought to be affected worldwide, the largest attack of its kind ever recorded.
Cybersecurity experts agree the threat from Ransomware is growing at an alarming rate with McAfee Labs saying ransomware cases grew 80% in 2016.
San Francisco's light rail system was one recent high-profile victim when it was held to ransom in November 2016, with ticket machines taken down and the city forced to open the gates and let passengers travel for free.
As we become more and more connected, and reliant on computers, this could be a taste of things to come and experts are already calling it a cyber-apocalypse, especially if the virus reaches the banking sector or even worse the military on hot the heels after discovering that the US nuclear arsenal is controlled by 1970s computers with floppy disks and the UK’s Trident nuclear program
operates on Windows XP, which has been at the centre of the global ransomware outbreak and which Microsoft stopped supporting and issuing security patches for in 2014.
'We could be in for a tough week' so say the experts, but even more frightening, this could be the start of a very tough era in a increasingly connected world.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

What Now Mr President?

Donald Trump, never being the sharpest knife in the drawer, has found himself painted into a corner with his actions against North Korea who have taken his threats against them making further missile tests and promptly ignored them.
Now that they have test fired a new and improved missile despite America's threats of military action, we are looking at Trump and asking 'Now What?'
If he thought that his bluster about possible military action was going to kowtow Pyongyang into ceasing their quest for more powerful weapons then he was way off the mark, if anything it has acted as a spur to their activities.
In a statement, the White House said Pyongyang has been: 'a flagrant menace for far too long' and is calling for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea.
That's the problem with going in too hard too quick, you have nowhere left to go but to carry through your threats and the certainty of hundreds of thousands of deaths or back down and look weak.
Buoyed by his action of lobbing a bunch of cruise missiles at Syria, Trump went in hard and high on North Korea, expecting them to back down and didn't expect them to stick two fingers up at him.
Now they have tweaked the American Presidents nose and asked him what he is going to do about it.
Even Trump, with his childlike grasp of reality, must realise that his actions have managed to turn a concern into a potential catastrophe.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Who Likes UK At Eurovision

It's Eurovision time again, and the UK Entry is called 'Never Give Up On You' which is ironic as that is exactly what the UK has done to Europe so if we are going to avoid the dreaded nul points scenario at the end of the night, we will be looking at the few friends we have left in Euroland to throw us a few points. 
As the Eurovision began in 1957, we have a long run of data available to work out which of our European brothers and sisters we can depend on to avoid the embarrassment of ending the evening on the right hand side of the board when the gongs are handed out.
Over the last 60 years the country that has given the UK the most points and our new best friends are Luxembourg, which has averaged a touch under five points per contest which is even more impressive when you consider they stopped taking part since 1993 so that's five points we are down already.
Luxembourg is closely followed by Malta and then Ireland, which is widely seen as our best Eurovision friend then Austria, Israel, Switzerland, Turkey and Portugal.
At the bottom end, the country that has snubbed the UK the most consistently is Montenegro, which has failed to give the UK a single point in the competition.
The other countries who have annually poo-pooed us Brits are Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Armenia and clearly, those are the countries that we should be withholding our Euro love from when it comes to sprinkle around the points.
We know who our friends are and if we don't win it will be because of Brexit/Jealousy/They Hate Us/Politics/Bloc Voting (delete as applicable) and not because we have entered yet another duff song.