Saturday, 18 February 2017

Books To Make You Smarter

Jane Austen said 'The person who has not taken pleasure in a book must be intolerably stupid' and boy are we surrounded by many people who have obviously never taken pleasure in a book apart from ones that comes with crayons but not to despair because neuroscientist Sam Harris has developed a list of 12 books that everyone should read to make them smarter.

1. The history of Western philosophy, Bertrand Russell
2. Reasons and persons, Derek Parfit
3. The Last Word, Thomas Nagal
4. The Holy Koran
5. Superintelligence, Nick Bostrom
6. Humiliation: And Other Essays on Honour, Social Discomfort and Violence, William Ian Miller
7. The Flight of the Garuda: The Dzogchen Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, Keith Dowman
8. I am that, Nisargadatta Maharaj
9. Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali
10. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
11. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom
12. Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak, Jean Hatzfeld

Quite a heavy, and dare i say boring, looking list there but nobody said being smart was easy but for people who don't find reading books a joy at the best of times they would be quite a slog to work through and i'm not sure how the Holy Koran even got in there.
I think to bring those with an aversion to reading literature into the fold you need to hand them something that would hold their attention and slip things in under the radar so they don't get a chance to say 'hang on, me is learning, what the...' and throw down the book and watch Ice Road Truckers instead.    

My 12, in no particular order would include:

1. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
2. Animal Farm, George Orwell
3. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
4. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
5. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
7. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, Richard Carlson
8. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
9. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
10 Hearts in Atlantis Stephen King
11 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick.
12 Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Make your way through them and i refuse to believe that you will not put down the 12th book a better, smarter and more rounded person than when you picked up the very first one.

Another Far Right Moron Up For Election In Netherlands

Before the French get to chose who will replace their current Government, the Dutch have a go in March and as the fashion these days seems to be having a dangerous right-wing idiot included on the ballot paper, allow me to introduce Geert Wilders who launched his election campaign by calling Moroccans 'scum'.
Mr Wilders, whose manifesto includes banning the Koran, stopping Muslim immigration and shutting mosques, currently tops opinion polls ahead of the 15 March parliamentary vote, but has seen his lead reduced in recent weeks.
The Moroccan rant comes months after he was convicted of hate speech over his promise to reduce the number of Moroccans in the Netherlands.
Seemingly basing his views (and silly hair) on the dangerous right wing idiot across the other side of the Atlantic, Wilders is promising to voters he will 'regain their country and make the Netherlands for the people of the Netherlands again' as there are 'a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland who make the streets unsafe'.
Championing of US President Donald Trump's policies appears to be backfiring though as Trump's agenda is pulling America apart and the Dutch are afraid that electing someone like Geert Wilders will result in the same in their small European nation and are backing away from voting for him as is shown by his tumbling poll lead.
Such is the poison of Wilder that the UK Government tried to ban him from visiting in 2009 but by the end of 2017 we could have far right wing leaders in the Netherlands, America and France and that is a scary thought and even more so if you are a Muslim who have become the Jews of the 21st Century and we know how that ended the last time the far right-wing had so much control.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Like The Message But Hate The Messenger

We have had three Prime Ministers since Tony Blair slinked out of Downing Street but such was the stink and strength of feeling that he left behind even now he can't put his head above the paparapet without large swathes of the country wanting to take it off.
That is the problem he faces which makes it even worse that what he said today about Brexit is spot on, this Government is about to  take the UK over a cliff edge and someone needs to stop it.
You don't have to like Blair to agree with his stance on Brexit but whatever he may say, it's undermined by who he is and what he's done.    
The irony is that his call for the people of Britain to rise up and force the Government to listen is lost in the memory of 2 million people of Britain rising up against his Iraq War folly and him dismissing them.
The remain camp need a hero, someone to unite and stem the suicidal march to economic madness that 52% of the British public voted for but instead of a hero we got Tony Blair, and he is just to divisive a figure to those of us on the pro-EU side to rally behind who remember his lies and actions during his turn in power.

French Colonialism

France and Britain were amongst the worst of the colonisers who would forcibly take over countries, rape and pillage them for their own benefit and make with the military if the people we were subjugating took offence.
Some still try and make the defence that we 'civilised them', those that lived possibly but not so lucky were the millions who died under the Union Flag and Tricolour and while us British tend to not mention it or call them the Commonwealth, the French President nominee, Emmanuel Macron, has come out and said that what the French did was 'a crime against humanity', 'truly barbarous' and 'part of our past that we should apologise for'.
Damn straight you may think but those on the right wing of French politics has said that his words were treacherous and treasonous and pulled out the same nonsensical cliches about bringing wealth, law and order to the nations while they were being stomped all over.
The latest polls show that Macron would come second to the ultra right wing Marine Le Pen in the first round of voting and then would resoundingly defeat her in the second which would come as a relief as yet another right wing lunatic in one of the major nations of the globe would really be something to worry about. 

Trump Cracking Under Pressure

The big question posed after Donald Trump's bizarre and incoherent rant last night was is he having some sort of breakdown under the pressure?
The easy answer is no, he is just a massive bell end trying to deflect media attention away from his dubious links with Russia and poor decision making but docotrs have reached another conclusion, he has a mental illness.  
A group of mental health professionals have suggested that: 'Mr Trump is incapable, on psychiatric grounds, of serving as president' and put it down to his suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders puts the symptoms of NPL as: 'an exaggerated sense of self-importance, fantasies of success, power, brilliance or beauty, belief in being special, requiring excessive admiration, a sense of entitlement, selfish in taking advantage of others, lacking empathy, envious of others, arrogant, haughty, patronising or contemptuous and anyone
if a perosn can identify with at least five of the symptoms, they can be said to have the mental disorder. 
As he almost ticks every one of the boxes, the mental health doctors could have a very strong case but then that brings us to the thorny issue of, if Donald Trump is suffering from mental illness, can we still mock him?
Considering that his eye-shakingly bad decision making is down to a mental problem kinds of makes an excuse for him but as far as i am aware he has not had a diagnosis so it is okay to carry on saying it is just down to him being a World Class, Olympic sized cretin with dodgy financial links to Russia who is cracking under the Pressure of the spotlight. Oh, and an illiterate misogynist sex pest, racist and failed businessman, let's not forget those traits.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Why Are We Not Protesting About NATO Cost?

There isn't much that i agree on with the current US President but we are certainly on the same page on one issue even if we are there for different reasons.
When he was campaigning Donald Trump referred to NATO a few times and questioned its purpose which is something that i have found myself doing more and more since the fall of the Berlin Wall and since Communism ceased being the bogeyman NATO had to protect us from.
Since 1991 and the Berlin Wall fell over, NATO has been at a bit of a loose end but instead of disbanding, the organisation needed to justify its existence and fell upon the idea of 'humanitarian interventions' as we saw in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and in NATO’s most recent display of its commitment to peace, Syria.
Since 2013 NATO's old enemy has been shifted back into the gun sights, over-hyping a Russian threat and building up Vladimir Putin as planning to a over Europe in a non-existant attempt to justify its continuing existence and it's cost, a massive £871 million in 2015.
Now everyone of the 28 countries is being asked to contribute more, 2% of GDP, which for the UK means £39 billion which our Government seems quite proud of being only 5 nations of the 28 who pay their full whack.
As the last few months we have heard about how obscene it is to pay £12 billion a year to maintain our place in the EU and the £10 billion we hand out in foreign aid, why is nobody kicking up a stink over the £39 billion we hand over to NATO?
To steal a quote from those against the EU and actually helping people in need, why are we spending such an obscene money we can ill afford to remain an out of date organisation that has no role in today's world and actually makes the World a less safe place?
Why not a referendum on coming out of NATO and use that money to fund the NHS instead or pay off our debts?
The argument is NATO keeps us safe and that may have been the case in the eighties but if people can vote to destroy the UK economy by removing ourselves from the largest single market on the planet so we can 'take back control', why are we handing over to an organisation that costs three times as much but gives us a minute fraction, if any, of the benefits?   
If anything good can come from having the blithering orange idiot in charge of things, the demise of NATO will be it.

Bring Your Own

Since European companies stopped sending the required chemicals to perform lethal injections in America, our prisoner murdering cousins have had some problem procuring the required cocktail of drugs to carry out the executions but they have developed a work-around, ask the prisoners to supply the lethal dose themselves.  
Various alternatives have been proposed, including the return of electric chairs or gas chambers and firing squads but Arizona  have come up with the most original concept yet with an invitation for lawyers to help kill their own clients.
In a mailshot to lawyers it says: 'the inmate’s counsel or other third parties acting on behalf of the inmate’s counsel may provide the department with a sedative, pentobarbital, or an anesthetic, sodium pentothal, if they can obtain it'.
There are 119 prisoners on Arizona’s death row, according to the corrections department, but the state has not executed anyone since July 2014, mostly due to dwindling supplies of the fatal cocktail of drugs but if they think that prisoners or their lawyers will be coughing up the required dosage to enable them to be executed then it may be a long time until another prisoner is strapped to a stretcher and their arm swabbed for a needle.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Loveland

Eros was always the more famous of Aphrodite's children in Greek mythology and he can be seen standing in Piccadilly Circus with his bow in his hand ready to shoot an arrow through the heart of lovers but as shooting your partner with an arrow is not considered romantic anymore, you could always get a letter from the most romantic place in the World, Loveland.
In the shadows of the Rocky Mountains, the town of Loveland has been gearing up for it's busiest period of the year as an expected 300,000 letters to be stamped with the Loveland postcode and forwarded to far flung parts of the World are expected to land in the Colorado Town's postal room.
For two weeks every year, Loveland volunteers stamp and redecorate hundreds of thousands of letters from all corners of the globe, so that lovers can present the objects of their desires with letters postmarked in the land of love.
The Loveland re-mailing programme started up 70 years ago, when a postmaster began re-addressing all mail with the slogan, 'From The Sweetheart City' and the famous town name.
For a fortnight the Town with a population of 51,000 people, becomes the Love Capital of The World with shops playing nothing but love ballads, pubs selling pink beer and the cake shops bake everything pink and heart shaped while every lamp-post displays a heart-shaped sign bearing a lover's message.
The Loveland Website advises that this year they have an Ice and Fire Party planned for the 14th February which could make for a very short party, just hope it is far away from the Post Office else some very soggy Valentine Cards could be dropping onto doormats this year.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Love Spells (Please Use Responsibly)

Valentines Day is fast approaching and while some us may be sipping champagne out of our partners shoes and eating oysters by candle light, others have yet to find their true love.
The choices are either join a dating agency or hope that your soul mate swipes the same way on Tinder or you could just cheat and use a magic spell.
Luckily the good people of the UK Wiccan Society have provided me with their top 12 Love Spells so give these a go and iron your best little black dress (or suit), get a bottle of champagne and a shoe and prepare for love this Valentines Day. 

1- To sweeten someone’s feelings for you write his or her name on a piece of paper using a red pen. Place white sugar on the piece of paper and drip the wax from a red candle onto it and as the wax drops on the sugar think about the person you want.

2 - To bring an ex-lover back in your life cut the petals off of 3 red roses and immerse them in a glass bowl containing salt. Dip the now unpetalled roses into the bowl containing salt and think about your ex-lover.

3 - Remove the lid of a new bottle of vanilla extract and visualise a bright, crimson-red light streaming from you to the bottle and repeat silently, to yourself:

Red as the blood that flows through my heart,
Liquid, bring me a love that shall never part.
Bring it soon, yes bring it fast,
A love that's strong, a love that lasts!


Now, sprinkle just a few drops in each corner of the room in which you sleep. Then place the tightly capped bottle under your mattress and wait for your love to come.

4 - Take two short lengths of different coloured yarn (about six inches long each is fine) and lay them side-by-side, parallel to each other. Now, choose one of the two pieces to represent yourself and pick that piece up in your left hand. Speak the following words aloud:

Let this symbol of myself, unfettered and unjoined, represent my lonesome soul.


Now pick up the other piece of yarn with your right hand and speak the following words aloud:

Let this symbol represent the soul of (insert person's name here). May he/she yearn for me as I yearn for him/her.

Now tie the two pieces of yarn together in a loose knot and speak the following words aloud:

With this knot, tied in trust, may these souls be bound in love.

Without tightening the knot any further, gently lay the loosely tied pieces of yarn down and leave the alone for one hour and then pick up the loosely tied pieces of yarn, and without speaking a word, firmly pull the knot tight and place under your bed and leave it there until the instant bond of love spell has taken effect.

5 - Put a candle in a darkened room in the middle of a table. Write what you want on a piece of paper with a black ink pen saying as you write:

What I want to write here
Please take my dream and bring it to near ,
What I want is what should I get
Let all my dreams be fulfilled now,


Take the paper and fold it into a square of four creases. Hold this above the candle with tongs and let it burn as you picture what you would like fulfilled.

6 - Write down the qualities you desire in a lover on the sheet of paper using a red ink pen but don't use any names. Fold the paper and place it in the envelope. Next, take some Rose petals and hold them in your RIGHT hand. Close your eyes and imagine yourself happy and in love, squeezing
the petals tight in your hand. Keep imagining this scene for about two minutes or more (longer is better).
Open you eyes and place the flower petals in the envelope with the folded paper. Close the envelope, seal it, and then seal it with a kiss. Place the sealed envelope in a safe place and NEVER open it again. Wait for your lover to come to you. Once you have gained the love of another, destroy the envelope by burning it and burying the ashes.

7 - Boil a small pan of water and once the water is boiling, drop a pinch white sugar into the pan and repeat the following words aloud:

Water hot and sugar sweet,
Bring a love for me to meet,
Pure and clean, good and strong,
Make it fast, but lasting long.


Allow the water to cool and then pour it into vase and place a single red rose in the vase.

8 - Get a long cord and tie 9 knots along it and say:

Ladder of nodes that number nine,
I could fashion you sign me you will be mine.
This is my will!"


Hang it up in your bedroom.

9 - Carefully remove the core of a red apple and repeat the following:

Deep within this apple's heart,
I cast this spell to have a start,
At love and romance coming soon
Bring it 'fore the next full moon.


Write down the name of your intended love on a slip of paper and fold it up and put it in the centre of the apple. Place the apple somewhere in your kitchen  (not in the fridge, or you'll put a chill on the whole thing) and after exactly 24 hours you need to bury it somewhere outside.

10 - On the back of a picture of your intended, write 'I love you' and on the back of a photo of you, write 'You love me'.  Light a candle and drip candle wax on the front sides of both photos and quickly stick them together while repeating the following:

Together as one
Under moon and sun


Slip the pair of photos under your pillow, and sleep with them there until your loved one is yours.

11 - Tie 3 knots in a red ribbon, spacing them out evenly along the length. Say each line of the spell as you tie each of the knots:

With knot of one, my love will come
With knot of two, it shall be true
With knot of three, so mote it be


Loop the knotted ribbon around a bed post, bedside lamp or the doorknob to your bedroom. Don't tie it though, you don't want any extra knots in there.

12 - Set an empty wine glass on a table and suspend a ring (traditionally a wedding ring) from a length of red ribbon. Holding the ribbon between thumb and forefinger, as a pendulum, with the elbow resting on the table, let the ring hang still in the mouth of the wine glass.
In a loud, clear voice, call out your own name followed by the name of your would-be love. Repeat the name of your love twice more (three times in all). Then, thinking of him/her, allow the ring to swing until it 'chinks' against the side of the wine glass once for each letter as you spell out the name. Now take the ribbon and tie it about your neck.

Disclaimer: When dealing with emotions, there can be no guarantee that love spells will be successful. Love spells are powerful but designed as aids for creating love but should not be used to force someone to act against their will.
The author of this blog cannot be held responsible for any results of using these spells or any resulting soggy shoes

Space Exploration Just Got Sexy Again

In a quiet corner of the Universe, tucked away on the edge of a Spiral Galaxies arm, is a Planet that teems with life and the inhabitants of that Planet are reaching out to try and find other life and the first stop is a moon orbiting a planet in their own Solar System.
Luckily, the Planet with life is our own and it is us doing the reaching out and where we are reaching out to is Europa which one of Jupiter's many moons and is soon to be the recipient of a robotic landing craft to drill into it in a search of life.
Europa is considered to be the best chance of finding life in our solar system due to what is believed to be a vast ocean hiding beneath its icy exterior and NASA have been assessing landing positions for the craft.
A NASA scientist said: 'Europa may hold the clues to one of NASA’s long standing goals, to determine whether or not we are alone in the universe. The highest-level science goal of the mission presented here is to search for evidence of life on Europa'.
With a launch date pencilled in of 2020, space exploration is back on the agenda and exciting missions like looking for ET in our own backyard are the sexy missions that capture the public's imagination alongside the more mundane but crucial ones which will result in us going where no man has gone before as Captain Kirk said.