Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Lunar Mission One

There are some people who balk at the idea of spending millions to fire rockets into space but the misery-guts can't argue about the latest idea to pay a visit to the moon as it will be funded by donations from the public.
The plans are to land a robotic probe, Lunar Mission One, on the Moon in 10 years' time to survey the Moon's south pole to see if a human base can be set up in the future funded by £500m of donations by the public who in return will be able to have photos, text and their DNA included in a time capsule which will be buried under the lunar surface.
David Iron, who is leading the project, said he was setting up the initiative because governments were increasingly finding it difficult to fund space missions.
'Anyone in the world will be able to get involved for as little as just a few pounds. Lunar Mission One
will make a huge contribution to our understanding of the origins of our planet and the Moon' he explained.
For the next four years, funds will be received through contributions from the public, who will be able to buy digital storage space on the lander for their own personal text messages for £3, pictures for £10 and a videos will cost £200. The price of sending a hair sample will be around £50.
The lander will also contain a public digital archive of human history and science which will be compiled as a legacy which will survive even if our species becomes extinct.
The hook for many, including me, is that rather than just watching another mission, we are directly involved not just through funding but having a little piece of ourselves on another part of the Solar System.
This is a great idea and could be the future of space exploration and we won't have to listen to the moaners who would prefer the money be spent on improving rubbish collection or some such triviality rather than exploring possible alternative places for our species to live after we have trashed this planet so badly.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Pick-Up Artist Banned From UK

Britain has joined the list of places that Julien Blanc, the self-titled 'Pick up artist', can't visit after the Home Office banned him from entering the country.
More than 158,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Blanc, who tours the world giving £1000 seminars and boot camps on what he calls 'dating advice' but his critics call 'tricking women into having sex'.
The Home Office explained that: 'The Home Secretary has the power to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good' and judging by his previous advice which included Blanc promising men who take his courses that he will teach them how to 'Make Girls BEG To Sleep With You After Short-circuiting Their Emotional And Logical Mind' and 'overcoming last-minute resistance making her feel 100% comfortable for sex', i would say it is a good decision although it does seem as much a decision to protect the wallets of stupid men as much as to protect women.
He is obviously an egotistical bell-end but i am sure there are some people who will try and make the argument regarding freedom of speech but surely that is trumped if the speech is to incite at best non-consensual sexual advances, at worst inciting non-consensual sex or rape as it is also called.
Preventing women from being harmed is always better than having to deal with the perpetrator and the shattered life afterwards so i'm happy to see him banned from flogging his 'advice' to desperate men here and i hope more countries tell him where to go as well.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

2014 Warmest Year On Record.

Not one, not two but three organisations have released data at the same time to confirm that 2014 is set to be the warmest year on record.
Data from NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the National Climatic Data Centre all peg temperatures in October as above average which continues the trend that shows not only is the earth warming, but so are the oceans which have been sucking up the CO2 and drives up further global temperatures.
While individual hot years or months don’t necessarily stand out, it’s notable that all 10 of the warmest years on record have all come since 1998, and the trend for extreme weather moving upward according to a the U.S. National Climate Assessment to the American Meteorological Society.
The Environmental Defence Fund have broken down the changing weather patterns they have been seeing and why.
The rain patterns are changing are there is more moisture in the atmosphere from a warmer world and changes in circulation patterns as stubborn to shift high and low pressure systems deflect storms which are holding more moisture due to greater evaporation in the warmer conditions and throwing down more intense rain.
The changing weather patterns and deflected weather patterns means that while some places get more than their fair share of rain and subsequent floods, others get none leading to droughts conditions which increases evaporation from the soil which in turn dries out the soil and the incoming sunlight heats the ground, instead of evaporating water in the soil which creates a vicious cycle of more heat and less rain.
All of which points towards unless society curbs its emissions of heat-trapping gases, these trends will not only continue but worsen and future generations will be justified on asking why did we not do something about it while we still had the chance.
The answer is obviously because we didn't care enough about them to try and change things.

EU Finally Acting On Israel

Not before time the tide has changing against support for Israel and the EU have threatened sanctions against the country for 'posing obstacles to a two-state solution with occupied Palestine'.
The line the Israeli's crossed which has finally got the Eu to take notice of what Israel has been up to for over 60 years, was the dismantling of several EU-funded humanitarian projects in a West Bank zone known as the E1 corridor, which were bulldozed to make way for new Israeli settlements.
Amidst warnings that this was seriously disturbing territorial coherence with the Palestinians, let alone that it was a breach of international law, the EU is getting its act together to bring to heel one of the worst human right abusers of our times.
Israel does business worth €29 billion with the EU and it may focus a few minds in the Israeli Government more sharply and find it less easy to swat away then the condemnation it receives when it breaches all manner of human right acts and international laws.
Finally, Israel is finding it can longer carry on acting as barbarically as it has, the shame is that it has taken this long for the World's Governments to wake up to it.

The Nuts Of California

In 1972, Mike Hazlewood, sang a song called 'It never rains in Southern California' but 42 years on it seems that it isn't just the southern part of the state running out of water, 99% of it is officially 'abnormally dry".
California is now in its third year of drought and the reservoirs have almost run dry and so too are the ground water supplies and the home owners are actually being paid to rip up the grass and plants in the gardens and replace it with plants more tolerant to desert-like conditions which don't require watering.
All very sensible water preservation precautions until you hear that California's Central Valley which supplies 80% of the Worlds almonds, uses up 1.1 trillion gallons of water every single year, the equivalent of 86 million 10-minute showers every day for the next year.
With 70% of the almonds produced going to China, Californians are quire literally being sucked dry to ensure that the people of China get their almond based snacks.
I imagine at some time in the past someone in California has asked why selling nuts to China and making a handful of nut farmers a profit is more important than ensuring their own water supply for the people who pay the taxes in the State but as it's continuing, i imagine they were told profit trumps the need of the Californians reliving the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930's.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Rap Therapy

I never really appreciated rap back in it's heyday but one of the best lines in music comes from the Run DMC song 'It's Like That' where the boys make the suggestion that 'Next time someones teaching why don't you get taught'.
A great line but apart from a handful of Run DMC songs and few by Grandmaster Flash, rap seemed to have not really been on my radar but psychiatrists at Cambridge University have obviously been paying attention to it because they believe that ‘hip-hop’ therapy could help the depressed and mentally ill.
'Much of hip-hop comes from areas of great socioeconomic deprivation, so it’s inevitable that its lyrics will reflect the issues faced by people brought up in these areas, including poverty, marginalisation, crime and drugs' explained Dr Akeem Sule, of the University of Cambridge.
'Hip-hop artists use their skills and talents not only to describe the world they see, but also as a means of breaking free. There’s often a message of hope in amongst the lyrics' and the team have chosen the top three hip-hop songs which they believe can help mental illness.
I don't know the song 'Juicy' by The Notorious BIG or J flex ft Lady of R's 1997 classic 'Lady Heroin' but i am very familiar with 'The Message' by Grand Master Flash & The Furious Five, mostly because it was used in the Green Cross Code advert back in the 80's.
Music can certainly be very emotive and can stir some deep emotions so the Cambridge boffins are probably on to something and it may be rap music for some and Country and Western for others, another genre of music that i pretty much ignored, but i find listening to Christmas songs at any time of the year a massive lifter.
Hearing 'Frosty the Snowman' coming from the CD player in July also serves as a great warning sign to others that it probably isn't the best time to ask for a favour.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

No Santa At Gun Club This Year

Christmas is a time for peace and goodwill to all men, something the ScottsDale Gun Club obviously forgot as they used the yuletide as an opportunity to flog weapons and sell a photo of you and your family holding powerful weaponry while Santa looks on.
Unfortunately this year it seems that Santa has had a change of heart and he won't be putting in an appearance at the ScottsDale Gun Club amidst much disappointment from gun-buying members who so wanted to send out Christmas cards with festive scenes of them excitedly holding AK47's with Santa.
No explanation was forthcoming from the Gun Club why Santa is swerving them this year but the shop is keen to let customers know that they are still open to sell plenty of weapons that can blow a big hole into another person and what more can you ask from a gun.
So pop down to the shop on Northsight Boulevard and show someone how much you love them by buying them a high-powered weapon of death.
Not endorsed by Santa.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Another Step Forward

After 25 years of planning, 10 years of travelling and 300 million miles of distance travelled, we have taken another large step by landing a probe on a 4 billion year old comet breezing along at 34,000mph.
Scientists cheered and punched the air in the European Space Agency (ESA) control room after a nail-biting 7 hour wait between the probe's detachment from the Rosetta orbiter and touchdown on the comet's surface and receipt of first signals.
The orbiter has been chasing the comet, named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, since 2004 and has now caught up with it as it passed between Earth and Jupiter on one of its regular trips to the inner Solar System.
There are concerns that the lander's harpoon system for firmly latching onto the comet had not fired and the probes grip on the comet is tentatively dependent on ice-screws affixed to the bottom of the landing legs but for the moment we taken yet another leap forward which are thankfully beginning to come regularly after so many wasted years in space exploration.

Thankful For Political Correctness

Growing up in the 1970's, i remember the jokes comedians made about black men, the Irish, the disabled, Jews, homosexuals, women and any other group that wasn't British white male.
Fast forward 30 years and we have shows like Little Britain and Borat which are applauded for not being politically correct but are exactly the sort of shows that wouldn't have been funny 30 years ago because the sort of thing's they say and do were then the norm.
As if undermining the people applauding him, Borat writer, Peter Baynham, explained that: 'When Borat says controversial and 'un-PC' things, it is obvious it is because he is clearly an idiot, a little reminder, of why we don't say those things, and it's weird when you read people saying it was deliberately offensive. The laugh is a laugh of 'Oh my God, you can't say that!' People are laughing with shock, because we've reminded them of why it's wrong to say things like black people have chocolate faces'.
Far from being a mockery of political correctness, Borat shows a time before political correctness made things better and that is where the humour lies, laughing at the very sort of 70's racism and sexism that was so prevalent and ushered in the dire need for cultural and social advances.
A peaceful society is built upon respect and tolerance for all of it's members and since the days when Bernard Manning's jokes about Paki's was the height of comedy, Britain has become a more tolerant, fairer and more culturally aware society and the introduction of political correctness has helped promote that.
Political correctness reflects the kind of society most of us want to live in where offending people is frowned upon and it is only those who set out to deliberately be offensive who complain about the restriction of their freedoms to insult anyone they want at will. 
The phrase 'political correctness gone mad' can be heard being uttered by aggrieved people who remember the days when they could speak without fear of being accused of upsetting one minority in society or another.
Political Correctness has ushered in a time of respect and civility for all, where unnecessary offence is avoided and everyone in society has the same opportunities regardless of the colour of your skin, if you are in a wheelchair, if you are Jewish or if you have a vagina and how can anybody seriously say that is a bad thing?
The only freedom the anti-PC brigade has lost is the freedom to cause offence to another person and thankfully we have moved so far from the bad old days that no amount of whinging about political correctness will undo the immense good that it has done.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Universe Lucky To Have Us Remarkable Humans

In the 13.6 billion years since the universe was formed, entire civilisations on other planets may have been created and perished long before our planet came on the scene 4.5 billion years ago. Humans have been running the show here for a mere 200,000 years which is a blink of an eye in the scheme of the universe and a tiny fraction of the 170 million years that the dinosaurs ruled the planet.
Considering just how short a time homo-sapiens have been around, what we have achieved is truly remarkable in that we have worked out how and when the universe was created, have been able to overcome gravity and leave our own planet, land on others and have a permanent base circling our World in the International Space Station.
Over time the human mind has pondered and solved the most complex of questions and for those that are beyond us, have created machines that can perform calculations measured in the quadrillions per second.
For all our faults we are a remarkable life form and science will continue to drive on and it is dizzying to think how further advanced we will become but more importantly, just how valuable we are.
If life has formed on other planets it doesn't necessarily follow that it will take the same trajectory as homo-sapiens here on Earth, they could follow the line of the dinosaurs who spent their allotted 170 millions years eating the vegetation and each other until their extinction which allowed the mammals to flourish and most importantly, us.        
So to return to my original thought, what if we are the only beings in the entire universe who have the intelligence to leave our own atmosphere and land elsewhere. What if after 13.6 billion years we humans are the only ones to crack the problems faced in colonising other planets and are the ones responsible for intelligent life being on other planets.
We have our issues, far too warlike and we do have a habit of polluting our own environments, but what if this unremarkable planet tucked away on the arm of a insignificant galaxy is the home of life that spreads across the rest of the universe in the next 170 million years and considering that we have gone from inventing the wheel to landing machines on Mars in a cosmic click of the fingers, it could do much worse than have us humans in charge of the project.