Sunday, 11 November 2018

Remembering Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig

Today is Remembrance Sunday when reflect upon the madness and futility of war and remember the dead but there is one man inparticular who should never be forgotten, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig who did so much to provide us with the dead for us to remember.
Haig was the man who from the comfort of his London Office, came up with the idea of sending 100,000 British soldiers 'over the top' to attack well-fortified German trenches, manned by soldiers, armed with a large number of machine guns. 
As the British soldiers advanced, told to walk the distance between their own trenches and the Germans 'better to maintain control', they were mown down by machine gun and rifle fire, 20,000 were killed and 40,000 were injured in the first charge alone.
In a stunning bit of insensitive and cruel disregard for his own men and despite his staff imploring him to change his tactics, Haig stated that 'the enemy has undoubtedly been shaken' and decided to continue with his plan of sending his men walking towards certain death for another four months, until winter weather forced an end to his plan which by then, the British military had suffered more
than 420,000 casualties and advanced just 3 miles.
Haig’s chief of staff was driven to the front and, as he viewed scene, broke down in tears and said, 'Good God, did we really send our men into that?'
The image of young men going over the top to walk towards the German machine guns is probably the strongest when we bow our heads at 11am today but Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig should also be remembered as the man who so callously and knowingly threw away so many of those young lives we remember this morning.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Shoebox Fillers Beware

I'm all for keeping religion out of Christmas, much better to make it about Santa and snowmen then the nativity story stolen from older religions around at the time but not everyone feels the same way including the people running Operation Christmas Child who ask you to pack a shoebox with gifts for children in Africa.
What a nice idea, and as the website says, 'A small shoebox can have a big impact. What goes into the box is fun, but what comes out of it is eternal' but then hang on, what's that next bit 'Be a part of changing children’s lives all over the world in Jesus’ name through the power of a simple gift with Operation Christmas Child'.
Jesus...at Christmas of all times...sneaky buggers because while you think you are sending gifts and toys the Operation Christmas Child owners, Samaritan's Purse International, stick a Bible in there and post it off to African children or to be more precise African Muslim Children.
They even have a story about how Angella in Malawi received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox filled with presents last year and has since led her Muslim family to Christ.
Humanists UK are urging potential shoebox-fillers to consider other options such as Hope or Aquabox who won’t place any religious literature in the boxes.
Richy Thompson, Humanists UK’s director of public affairs and policy, says: 'Those who donate to the scheme are well-intentioned and want to make an altruistic contribution, but donors in the UK should be aware of the nature of Operation Christmas Child’s activities and instead find a reputable and inclusive charity that has no ulterior motives and only has children’s best interests at heart'.
As religion is the cause of far too many wars and conflicts around the World, the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child shoebox appeal is far from a benign initiative to give gifts to needy children at Christmas time which is all we want to do, not force religion down their throats in exchange for a few toys.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

More Thoughts And Prayers

After each mass killing in America there must be a conversation in the Government that goes something along the lines of: 'What can we do to stop our citizens getting big holes blown in them by maniac gun owners?

Amend our crazy gun laws? Nah
Gun control? Nah
Make guns harder to buy? Nah
Stop selling guns in supermarkets? Nah
Have a discussion about the amount of guns in the country? Nah
Not allow people with mental problems to own a gun? Nah
Ban high power weapons? Nah

Well i'm all out then so shall we just do nothing and offer our prayers and thoughts? Yeah, that should be okay.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

No Aliens, Just A Comet

Oumuamua, the 400m cigar-shaped object that flew past the sun recently at 59,030 mph probably isn't an alien spacecraft as the Harvard researchers alluded to but it is only a matter of time before an interstellar relation turns up to say hello.
The object's unusual trajectory and high speed sets it aside from other space objects such as asteroids and comets and researchers from Harvard suggested 'it may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilisation' which is true, it could be, but the more boring answer is it is probably just a comet.
'It has already been shown that its observed characteristics are consistent with a comet-like body ejected from another star system' explained someone from the ESA poo-pooing the alien theory.
Such is the immense size of the Universe and the billions of billions of star systems in it that to think that there isn't life somewhere out there is incomprehensible but we may have to wait a while yet until we meet them.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

American Midterms

As expected, Donald Trump has been a car crash of a President but as it isn't my country he is dragging into the sewer, i can afford to be a bit more relaxed about what happens in the midterms tomorrow. 
On the one hand his awfulness is terrible for many but on the other hand his awfulness is brilliant so the best solution would be for the Democrats to win enough seats that he can't actually do anything which leaves him in power, suitably impotent, but still able to make his ridiculous, toe curlingly appalling statements.
This will have the effect of further dragging an isolated America down into a farce while the rest of the World gets on without it or until a grown up is voted into Office in a few years time.
As he was voted into Office as a known vile racist, lying, low IQ, sex offending misogynist he hasn't disappointed on any of those fronts and even being literally laughed at by the rest of the World at the United Nations hasn't slowed him down so i say keep him there because the man is a journalists and comedians dream but remove any power from him so he can't do anymore harm outside of his own borders and we will see what is left of America and it's International reputation in 2020.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Afghan War Ending In Same Position That It Started

October 2001 and the Bush and Blair Governments give the Taliban an ultimatum, 'Surrender the terrorists or surrender power. That is your choice' meaning either they handed over Bin Laden who they were sheltering, or they would be removed from power.
Also means if they did hand him over, the Taliban would be left alone to remain in power and although they refused to hand him to America, they did make an offer to 'hand him over to a third country' but the Blair/Bush Governments rejected it and the bombs started falling.
Fast forward 17 years and hundreds of thousands of deaths, the newly appointed American General in charge of US operations, Gen. Austin Scott Miller, has conceded that the Taliban cannot be beaten militarily and a political resolution is needed.
The US State Department said in August that the US was doing everything it could to facilitate peace talks with the Taliban so finally it has sunk in that a military solution is not viable and never was.
So now how to explain that to the families of the dead Afghans and the families of the dead British and American soldiers sent to fight in an unwinnable war which will end in exactly the same position that it started and could have been avoided if the rush to have a war with someone in revenge for 9/11 hadn't been quite so keen.

Forget Education, Look At The Pothole Free Roads

Budgets always take a few days for the boffins to work out exactly what the Chancellor has done but it didn't go unnoticed that he handed out £450 million for fixing potholes but only £400 million for schools to buy 'little extras such as a whiteboard or a couple of computers'.
As important as fixing potholes is, there is not much gratitude from the education sector which has been cut by £2bn a year under this Government and seen teachers pay frozen, class sizes grow and schools unable to meet the requirements of young peoples special educational needs.
'This does not even scratch the surface to meet the current funding pressures that schools are experiencing' said one headteacher in the Chancellors own constituency, 'We need to close the funding gap left by the 8% real-terms cuts over the last five years that schools around the country are unable to meet'.
Secondary schools in England have lost 15,000 teachers and teaching assistants in the last two years, schools are having to reduce the number of subjects they offer and their extracurricular activities and in many schools, parents are being asked to make regular voluntary contributions.
Sixth richest country in the world, ladies and gentlemen, our kids may not be able to read or write thanks to Theresa May and her Conservative Party but look at our lovely smooth roads.

Science McScienceface

After the Boaty McBoatface thing it is very brave of the Bank of England to ask the British public to choose the new face of their updated banknote but as it's a £50 note and Brexit is about to happen, i guess they are thinking not many people will get to see one anyway.
The Bank have put a few conditions who can be picked though after the initial process resulted in England football defender Harry Maguire riding an inflatable unicorn winning the vote (bloody British sense of humour), stipulating that it must be a British scientist and they must be dead and the early front runners are computer programmer Ada Lovelace, code cracking Alan Turing, cosmologist Stephen Hawking and Chemist Dorothy Hodgkin.
My vote would be for Alan Turing who basically did so much to win WW2 for the allies and then was treated outrageously by the establishment because he was gay so if nothing else a long overdue recognition and apology.
Failing that i'm backing Professor Yaffle from Bagpuss.

Heart Failure Days And Heart Attack Nights

All but the most gullible realise that the planet is warming which isn't beneficial to the seven billion of us on sharing this ball of rock so the MET Office putting out the results of a study stating the same is nothing we don't already know but by declaring we are set for 'hot days and tropical nights' does make it sound like the sort of thing the ignorant will say 'wahey, bring it on' to.
Comparing UK weather data from the period 1961-1990 with the 10 years between 2008 and 2017, the hottest days have become 1C hotter, warm spells have increased, while the coldest days are not as cold and the number of nights when temperatures stay above 20C is increasing.
Rather than make it sound like a romantic holiday in the Mediterranean, the MET should be highlighting that in the past, hot summer the increased temperature claimed almost 1,000 lives due to the heatwaves increasing the risk of heart failure, heart attacks and stroke.
As the temperature is only going to increase due to the amount of CO2 we are carelessly pumping into the atmosphere, a season of heart attacks in the day and strokes at night doesn't sound quite so appealing, even to those hard of thinking types who consider a warming climate to be a good thing.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

There Should Be More White Poppies

Poppy Day shouldn't be controversial but it seems every year now there is always someone trying to make an argument out of it, usually it's poppy fascists who demand you wear one but this year it's also the White Poppy that is being politicised.  
The white poppy is a symbol of pacifism, worn as an alternative to the red remembrance poppy and remembers all victims of war, not just those on our own side.
It is claimed that the white poppy is disrespectful to those who served and died for their country but a survey by researchers Consumer Intelligence, the top reasons given by the 20% who refuse to wear a Poppy at all is because they felt bullied into supporting the Poppy Appeal, it glorifies war and seems to show unconditional support for the military.
I can relate to that and refuse to wear one myself, mainly because i believe that rather than send young men and women off to fight wars and then stand around looking solemn wearing a red flower once a year, just don't send them to fight wars in the first place and it is impossible for anyone to justify any war the British have been involved in since 1945.
I often hear the argument that people gave their lives for our freedom and it is obscene that some of us refuse to honour that debt by not wearing a poppy but i say that the freedoms they fought for includes being free to not be ordered on how to honour the war dead by a poppy fundamentalists and if more people thought like me and the 20% who flatly refuse to approve of what our military does, then there wouldn't be the widespread death and destruction that is currently going on around the World.
Remembrance Day should be for the victims of war, all victims, including the all the ones killed by 'our side' and not hijacked by vocal people insisting that it is a patriotic display of support for 'our heroes' so maybe there should be more white poppies being worn as a reminder that it doesn't make a bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead.