Thursday, 24 July 2014

Dear Students

To all those who have graduated this week, my heartfelt congratulations, well done, you made it. This is the start of an amazing, exciting, terrifying and thrilling journey for you. Take all the plaudits thrown your way as you achieved this with your hard work, dedication and commitment and you deserve all the praise showered upon you. Enjoy your day, revel in your success and then take a deep breath and prepare yourself for the world of work. If i can offer one tip it would be to remember that feeling of insecurity and nervousness on your first day in work and how you desperately scan the room looking for a friendly face to throw a wing around you and guide you for those first few scary weeks. Then in the future, when you see another new employee wearing that same worried and confused expression as you on that first day, remember how that felt and be the friendly face everyone is nervously hunting for.

To all, those leaving college to go to University, this is a big step but also one of the best steps of your life. Study hard but don't forget to enjoy what is an amazing experience meeting new people, undertaking new experiences and for many, the first time that you have lived away from your families. 
Yes it can appear daunting at first but that feeling will pass and your time at University will be one that you can look back on with pride and enjoyment. My only tip for you is with all the studying and lectures, don't forget the other side of University life, to have a great time.

To those leaving school to go to College, this is where it all starts. School is over and if you hated school or the students that you shared it with, this is nothing like that. It's new friends, a fresh start and the beginning of the rest of your life. Now is where you can choose whatever you want to be, the rest of your working life stretches out in front of you like a blank canvas just waiting for you to make your mark. College is where you are pointed in the right direction for something that you want to do in lessons that interest you with a classroom of students who share your interests or else they wouldn't be there. There are no more boring lessons that you spent the entire period staring out of a window in school. My tip for you would be this is where you make the mistakes so don't be afraid to mess up, we all did, and this is the best time to make the mistakes and have them put right.       
 
To those still in school, use the next six weeks to climb trees, go on holiday, drink slush puppies until you get brain freeze, fall off bicycles, eat Doritos until you are sick, stay up late to watch horror films, go swimming, dance at concerts, run through the park sprinklers and kick a football around until it's so dark that you can't see who you are kicking the ball to. Don't be in a rush to grow up and keep doing the things children do because all to quickly those days are gone and you are into the adult world and burping competitions and seeing how many crisps you can fit in your mouth at one time are frowned upon. Just enjoy the time you have when you can still eat ice cream with your hands without being shunned.

To all students, young and old, it is a cliche but as any adult will tell you, this really is the best time of your life, please don't waste it.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Britain Leading From Behind On Russian Sanctions

Regarding Russia, the prime minister David Cameron has been very consistent that EU nations should install harsher sanctions on Putin's friends and stop all military sales to Russia, boasting that 'Future military sales from any country in Europe should not be going ahead. We have already stopped them from Britain'.
Embarrassingly it has been revealed that we haven't actually stopped military sales to Russia and that the Conservative Party have been on the receiving end of a £160,000 donation from the chequebook of a former member of President Putin's government.
Handing the money back was not 'the right approach' explained David Cameron when asked if he would be returning the cheque and explained that the military equipment we were packing up and sending to Moscow was for 'non-military legitimate reasons'.
The export licences includes, sniper rifles, night sights, components for air-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft guns, combat helicopters, depth charges and rocket launchers, small arms ammunition, gun mountings, body armour, and military communications equipment and worth £132 million.
Nope, can't see how a consignment of sniper rifles or air-to-air missiles can possibly be used for anything other than peaceful purposes by the Russian military.
Carry on Dave, arming both sides is a lovely bit of business for a hypocritical and morally reprehensible slimeball. 

2014 Commonwealth Games

Usually the four countries that make up Great Britain compete together at athletics events but the Commonwealth Games is the only time where England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales compete as separate countries which always adds a bit of a spark to the events.
It is probably better to not ask too many questions about how the British Commonwealth came about but it comprises of 53 members and 2.3 billion members with the Queen as head.
America, on account of them throwing our tea into the harbour, are not invited to the Games but the Australians are and it is they who sit proudly on top of the all time leader board with 2080 medals, ahead of England with 1836 and those nice North Americans, the Canadians who have amassed 1392. 
As these games are being held in Glasgow, we can expect lots of bagpipes at the opening ceremony and plenty of pictures of Alex Salmond getting his moon face on the television waving the Scottish flag as he pushes his claim for Scottish independence.  
I will grab myself a deep fried mars bar, a bottle of whiskey and brush up saying 'Och Aye Jimmy' and get ready for 11 days of watching the Republicans from the Republic of Ethiopia, the Islanders from the Isle of Man, the Peninsulans from the Malay Peninsular and those from the country of Scotland.
Let the games begin!!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Luna-cy

By 1961 America was having its backside paddled by the Soviets in the Space Race by claiming the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, first animal sent into orbit, first human in space and the first craft to reach the surface of the Moon and now America's official response has been released, it wanted to nuke the moon to stop the Soviets from making a landing on it.
Declassified documents show that the first idea was to consider placing a military base on the moon and when that was found to be unfeasible, the next idea was to nuke the Earth's satellite 'to impress the world with the prowess of the United States'.
Always considered a conspiracy theory, the US government has never formally confirmed its involvement in the plan, called Project A-119, until now.
Nuking the moon sounds like something George w. Bush would come up with in a war against tides but fortunately, the United States came to the decision  that exploding a nuclear bomb on an orbiting planetary body for no particular reason might make them come across as a tad insane so sent Neil Armstrong up to land on it instead (or made a fake film of it depending upon your standpoint).
There will be former Soviet scientists looking at each other and saying 'And we lost the Cold War to them??'
It does make you wonder how we have made it out the 80's let alone to 2014 without killing our stupid selves.

Blair Makes Speech Saying He Is Wonderful

Considering that he pretty much gets everyone's hackles up every time he opens his mouth, not sure why Tony Blair is giving a speech marking the 20th anniversay of his becoming Labour leader.
I suppose rather than kicking his heels as a Middle East Peace Envoy while the Middle East is so peaceful now giving yourself a congratulatory slap on the back is a way to pass the day.
Unless his entire speech consists of the two word, 'i'm sorry', i don't much care what he has to say but expect it to declare himself some modern day Jesus bringing peace and prosperity to the world.
Silly, deluded and thoroughly disturbed little man.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Our Place In The Universe

In celebration of the momentous occasion of Neil Armstrong stepping out onto the Moon 45 years ago today, June 20th has been deemed Space Exploration Day and events are going on all around the country to show just what an amazing feat this was and what an amazing place the Universe is.
It is hard to grasp just how impossibly immense the Universe is but an important step is to realise just how big a light year is. The Sun is approximately 93 million miles away and it takes 8 and a half minutes for the light to reach the earth from our star which means that if light can travel 93 million miles in 8 and a half minutes, in a year light will travel 5.88 trillion miles, so if something is a light year away, its 5.88 trillion miles.  
With that firmly in your mind, try to imagine our Milky Way being 100 light years across but the largest galaxy we have discovered is IC 1101 which is 120,000 light-years wide.
Our Sun may be impressive to us but in Universal terms it is a very ordinary, medium sized star 864,938 miles in diameter. It's surface temperature is 10 kilokelvins which when you consider the heat it generates on us 93 million miles away is impressive, until you consider the romantically named HD62166 which measures a scorching 200,000 kilokelvins or the Epsilon Orionis, the middle star of Orion's Belt which burns 400,000 times brighter than the Sun.
With a diameter of 3 billion, a star called VY Canis Majoris has an estimated diameter of 1,700,000,000 billion miles which would swallow our sun 8 billion times over.
The Earth is 7,901 miles diameter (you could fit 1.3 million Earths inside the Sun) and makes us the 3rd largest planet in our solar system with Jupiter the largest at 86,881 miles which is huge but not as large as the largest planet we have discovered, WASP-17b which is twice the size of Jupiter or 636 times larger than the Earth.
The Earth rotates at 460 meters per second or 1,000 miles per hour but even that is peanuts compared to what space can serve up. VFTS 102 is the fastest spinning star we’ve ever found, and its surface goes upwards of 440,000 meters per second or 1 million miles per hour.
When the Apollo 11 rocket launched from the surface of the Earth, it needed to reach a speed of at least 25,000 mph to escape the earths gravitational pull and the maximum speed we have achieved is 35,000 mph which is fast but almost half the speed of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite which blazed through the sky in 2012 at 64,000 mph, almost twice as fast as we’ve ever shot a rocket.
The Universe really is an amazing and beautiful thing but compared to what the Universe offers, we really are just a small, insignificant ball of rock in a solar system tucked away on the arm of a galaxy that is one of hundreds of billions in an unfeasibly vast universe.

Vilify All Sides, Not Just Some

Ironic isn't it that President Putin and Russia are being vilified for supporting the pro-Russian rebels in the Ukraine that are accused of killing 298 people on flight MH17 last week, but in another part of the World the American backed Israel has killed over 400 Palestinians, over 77% innocent civilians, in a disproportionate attack amidst accusations of war crimes and nothing is said. 
How is Russia giving arms to the Ukrainian rebels any different to the USA giving £3 billion military aid to Israel and why does the right to defend itself not apply to the Palestinians or the Pro-Russian rebels, both of whom are being killed in large numbers?
Something is very wrong when our leaders are backing the wholesale slaughter of some people because we favour the slaughterer and vilify them when they don't just lay back and take it and fight back.   
All sides are in the wrong and regardless of who is doing the murdering, they should be reproached because if you are on the end of a missile from Ukraine, Russia, Israel or the east of Ukraine as you go about your business you don't care who fired it.
For our politicians to try and spin that one side is better or worse than the other is a disgrace, all sides are killing innocent people and that can never be justified and it is a disgrace that our leaders are trying to do just that.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Back in the 70s and early 80s, i remember hearing stories about Poltergeists shoving around furniture and throwing pots and pans around the kitchen but for some reason they all seem to have gone into the light or whatever poltergeists do because we haven't heard of a poltergeist or any decent ghost story for years.
Considering that almost everyone has a mobile phone with a camera attached, you would have thought that if there were spirits and things hanging around with us, someone would have captured a convincing image by now but if anything ghost sightings have gone down.
Come to think of it, alien abductions and exorcism stories have also taken a nosedive and i haven't read about a demonic possession for a long time.
My guess would be that as the 70s produced such films as Poltergeist and The Exorcist, more people put the picture falling off the wall down to malevolent spirits and less to their own dodgy DIY skills and shows like the X-Files made us think any light in the sky was invading Martians armed with anal probes.
Of course there are no such things as ghosts and i know that and when things went bump in the night or the bedroom door was being scratched at, we just blamed Molly, the family dog.
I do admit though that although she died 3 years ago, the scratches in the bedroom door look remarkably new and i am sure there are more than there used to be.

Revisiting The Floating Island Idea

I have never seen the need for mountains, they just get in the way and the only use they serve is for a few people to climb up them and stick a flag in the summit but of course we can't do much about them as they are thousands of miles up it the air which is a lot of rock to find a use for.
I did ponder here if we couldn't chop the tops off some mountains and make some more islands in the 71% of the planet that is water as way of accommodating the 7 billion and growing population of the planet but the UN never returned my phone calls and the owner of the Ben Nevis Mountainside Cafe threatened to sue me so the idea was quietly dropped.
On further reflection we may not need to go sawing mountains in half after all because a new island has appeared in the mid-Pacific made from plastic and other rubbish approximately the size of France caught between the ocean currents.
If we can get our best minds finding a way to somehow secure it together and pour some kind of sealant over it so it's a solid lump and take the top off a mountain somewhere (not Ben Nevis) and we could actually make a floating Island out of it.
Even if it isn't safe for humans, not sure about the toxicity of all that plastic but if people can't use it at least the wildlife could.  
As it seems it isn't going to be cleaned up and is just going to be left there anyway, seems sense to make some use of it even if it's just for nesting birds or homeless Polar bears paddling around looking for an iceberg to cling to.

Friday, 18 July 2014

NOAA Report Not Good Reading For Earth

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) annual State of the Climate report compiles climate and weather data from around the world and is reviewed by 425 climate scientists from 57 countries and the 2013 report shows that global temperatures  continued their long-term rising trend last year .
The checkup results show the planet ranged well outside of normal levels in 2013, hitting new records for greenhouse gases, Arctic heat, warm ocean temperatures and rising sea levels.
'The climate is changing more rapidly in today's world than at any time in modern civilization' said Thomas Karl, director of NOAA who blamed rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere for the planet's changing climate.
Most parts of the planet experienced above-average annual temperatures in 2013, NOAA officials said with Australia experiencing its warmest year on record, while there was even a new high-temperature record set at the South Pole.
The report also found that Sea levels rose by 0.15 inches, the Arctic sea ice continued in line with its projected 14% decline per decade while temperatures over land are rising faster in the Arctic than in other regions of the planet.
Typhoon Haiyan had the highest wind speed ever recorded for a tropical cyclone, 196mph, and sea surface temperatures in the Pacific hit a record high in 2013.
Climate change isn't going to be pretty and you can thank all those who dragged their heels and argue it isn't happening instead of doing something about it when we still had a chance to limit its severity.