Saturday, 25 March 2017

Space Pollution

On of the major drawbacks of anywhere hosting humans is that we do tend to pollute the place, whether it is the land, sea or space, we leave our rubbish there.
We have land that is uninhabitable for the next 10,000 years, a 270,000 square mile wide rubbish patch swilling around in the Atlantic Ocean and above our heads thousands of bits of Space debris whizzing around like bullets. 
The International Space Station is constantly manoeuvring to avoid a potentially catastrophic collision with space junk ranging in size from millimetres to two buses but the world of business are growing increasingly concerned that one of their satellites will take a direct hit.
Of greater concern to us is if a communication satellite got taken out and the Sat Nav, mobile phone or TV pictures go missing.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs have been working with NASA and the European Space Agency and have developed a set of guidelines on space debris mitigation where when an orbital mission is planned, it must include a strategy to remove the spacecraft from the orbit within 25 years by either propelling it out into space or dragging it down to be burnt up in the atmosphere.
Humans eh? We have land, oceans and rivers that we continue to pollute until they become almost unusable and now we are doing exactly the same with space.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Disappointing The Right Wing As Terrorist Was A Brit

The terrorist responsible for the attack in Westminster yesterday has been named as 52 year old Khalid Masood, born and raised in Britain but that hasn't stopped the right wing trying to shoehorn the attack into their own agenda.
Marine Le Pen said the attack underlined the importance of countries being able to protect their borders, Poland’s prime minister, Beata Szydło, said it vindicated Warsaw’s refusal to take in refugees, UKIP donor Arron Banks blamed Theresa May for allowing over a million illegals into Britain, Nigel Farage appeared on US television arguing that the London attacks proved Donald Trump’s hardline immigration and anti-Muslim policies were correct.
In the world of Trump and Brexit, Muslim stirring hate was spewed within minutes of the attack and the usual suspects were spewing their predictable bile.
The right wing haters have been waiting for something like this, revelling that the opportunity had arrived for their imaginary fears to become solid.
Disappointingly for them, the bad guy turned out to be a home grown Brit with a history of violence and not an immigrant turned by religious fervour but they won't let that stop them, this is their chance to drive home the falsehood that immigration and multiculturalism is to blame and the facts can go hang. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Bill Clinton To Attend McGuinness Funeral

Not the best timing as Former US President Bill Clinton announces that he will be arriving for funeral of former IRA commander Martin McGuinness just as the capital suffers fatalities from a terror attack.
Clinton was roundly condemned in Britain at the time for shaking hands with IRA politician Gerry Adams in 1995 while he was on a fund raising trip for the IRA, especially after the then Prime Minister John Major requested Mr. Adams was not given a warm welcome by the American President.
Mr Clinton was in office at the time of the and the then US president was involved in the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which brought to an end the 30 years of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.
A battle is going on at the moment to declare McGuiness as a violent terrorist who oversaw the death of countless victims or an architect of peace who saved the life of many by ending the Troubles.
I would argue that while his second career in politics should be acknowledged, it is the first choice of career that he should be remembered for as ending a war is a poor second when you have been so active in stocking and driving up the death toll in the first place.
As he was so active in the peace process it is probably right that Bill Clinton is at his funeral but please spare us the gushing nonsense that he was anything other than a murderous thug who brought untold misery to many, many families and who directly caused such scenes in the 70s, 80s and 90s that we see today in Westminster. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

McGuinness: Murderer Or Saviour?

If Bin Laden had decided to give up his terrorist ways and instead put his efforts towards peace in Afghanistan then i doubt many would change their minds that he was suddenly anything less of a murderer so i fail to see why the case with Martin McGuinness is any different.
Some are pointing towards his efforts in the Northern Ireland peace process but they seem to be overlooking the death and destruction that he was directly involved in which made Northern Ireland such an unstable place in the first place.
As a member of the IRA's ruling 'army council', he was part of the decision making process for its overall strategy and tactics, and approved operational policy and been a key figure within the IRA for almost all of the Troubles.
McGuinness spent a decade in the power sharing role with the Democratic Unionists which helped to end 30 years of conflict in the country, helping to negotiate the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement and securing IRA arms decommissioning in 2005.
While history will show that McGuinness changed his course to create change through politics, he died peacefully at 66, a luxury so many of his victims were never afforded in his original role as terrorist and commander in the IRA.

Russia's Cold War Debt Cleared

America may have won the Cold War but while the Russians have paid off the last of their debt, Americans are going to pass legislation to increase their debt ceiling above £20 trillion so something doesn't seem right.
Russia took on the The Soviet Union's foreign debt of £66bn in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and a £123m payment to Bosnia and Herzegovina will finally clear the bill.
In recent years, Moscow has cancelled billions of dollars in debt owed to the Soviet Union by countries in Africa, Asia, and Central America. In 2013, Russia wrote off almost the entire $32 billion debt owed by Cuba.
According to the Russian Finance Ministry, other countries still owe the Soviet Union about £34 billion, but how that works is unsure as i'm sure the argument will be how can they pay money to a country that doesn't exist.
The fact that the home of Capitalism is 20 trillion in the hole while Russia has cleared their debts has not gone unnoticed by the Ruskies. 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Has Anyone Gave Tchaikovsky The News Yet?

We seem to be having an epidemic of musicians dying the past 18 months or so but the death of Chuck Berry yesterday is one that seems to sting me that little bit more.
By all accounts he was a massive sleaze in life but putting that to one side for the moment, what a back catalogue of great music he had under his belt.
He was also a real pioneer for the guitar based music which i lean heavily towards and he was one of the few musicians that i lifted above the others when i was learning the guitar as a youngster.
His songs were very formulaic as many musicians tunes are and you could tell almost immediately a Chuck Berry song but so strong was the stencil that he hit upon early on in his career, that he was such a huge success.
The opening lick of Johnny B Goode is musical gold and quite right that it was this song that was the choice to represent humans and be placed upon the Voyager Spacecraft and sent out of the Solar System for any other alien civilisations to discover.
Away from the amazing guitarist and entertainer he undoubtedly was, the other side of him was less pleasant with jail time for armed robbery, carjacking, prostitution and videotaping in ladies toilets.
Berry is placed at number 6 in the Rolling Stone magazine's 'Greatest Guitarist of All Time' list which is deserving as he was at the forefront of that style of music and much copied by those who came after him so such a high placing is warranted even if there was very little variation in what he played.
Johnny B Goode will always be his signature tune but there was so many greats including 'Memphis Tennessee' which was a change from the driving riffs of his usual fare.
He will always be included in the book of music as he should be as he was an amazing guitarist, great lyricist and had an incredible list of songs to his name but as it is hard to separate the man from the music, a morally bankrupt personality.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Tinkering With The Calendar

Ever since we began counting days we seem to have failed to get a full grasp on the calendar, using the path of the moon and adding the odd days here and there before losing ten of them in the 16th Century in an attempt to rewrite the whole calendar and then plonking an extra day on the end of February every four years to try and bring everything back together again.
What we have now is a year of 52 weeks split into months of 4 weeks 3 days, or 4 weeks 2 days one or 4 weeks exactly or 4 weeks and 1 day every four years which seems overly complicated.
Step forward the The International Fixed Calendar which has been gathering dust since it was first proposed in 1902.
I have been thinking about this and it does have some merit but needs a little tweaking.
This other calendar makes a month exactly 4 weeks or 28 days long and then tags on another month and have 13 months in a year.
What about the leap year i hear you ask but here is where it needs tweaking. Under my system the year would be 364 days long so to stop us falling out of sync with a planet taking 365.25 to complete a full lap of the Sun, we keep the leap year every four years to take care of the 4 x .25's and each year we have a non-day day, like an extra bank holiday so a day which just doesn't count.
It makes sense to me to make it New Years Day and start the year with the 1st January the following day, it already has a name and it is already a Bank Holiday so no messing about with when to slide the extra free day in.
The downside is that with a 4 week, 30 day month, some well known dates will get shifted around so for example my birthday is 1 April which under the proper calendar is Day 91 but under the new system Day 91 would become April 7th or Christmas Day which is Day 359 would become 23rd of the newly named month and New Years Eve the 28th of the new month. 
Every first would always be a Monday, every 28th would be a Sunday and every payday would always be a Friday and the 8/9, 14/15 and 21/22 of each month would be a weekend.
I'm sure there is something i have overlooked but to save any more tinkering with the calendar, perhaps one big tinkle to make each week 7 days long, each month 4 weeks, slide in an extra month to make a year 13 months long with 364 'real' days in the year and a 'free day' thrown in where we get a breather before doing it all over again.
I'm sure calendar makers may kick up a bit but they would be drowned out by all those people born on 29th February who will now have a day of their own to celebrate on each year, March 4th.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Casting The Trump Binding Spell

After 50 days in power and with mass protests failing to unseat Donald Trump, there has been a change of tactics and now the witchcraft community are stepping in to have a go at shifting that massively rotund figure out of the White House.
Witches all around the World are joining forces to cast a spell on the Trumpster and the five step process began on the stroke of midnight on 24th February and will continue at midnight on March 26th, April 24th, May 23rd and culminating on June 21st, the summer solstice.
The spell is a Binding spell which won't turn him into a frog or anything but is used to restrain someone from causing damage and is harmless to the recipient but is hoped will stop him doing anything stupid and is easily cast with a few household items.
As you might expect, this has not gone down well with God-fearing Trump supporters who are combating the spell with one of their own, a sort of keep the Trump doing stupid things spell, and warning of it being a recruitment drive by Satanic groups.
Should you be an experienced proponent of the dark arts, a coven owner or merely interested in stopping Donald Trump before he sends us all to hell in  handcart, the instructions for the spell are as follows:

1. Cut out a picture of Donald Trump

2. Write 'Donald J Trump' on an orange candle

3. Light the candle and recite the following ritual on the stroke of midnight   
    Hear me, oh spirits of Water, Earth, Fire, and Air
    Heavenly hosts Demons of the infernal realms and spirits of the ancestors
    I call upon you To bind Donald J. Trump
    So that his malignant works may fail utterly
    That he may do no harm to any human soul
    Nor any tree, animal, rock, stream, or sea
    Bind him so that he shall not break our polity
    Usurp our liberty or fill our minds with hate, confusion, fear, or despair
    And bind, too, all those who enable his wickedness
    And those whose mouths speak his poisonous lies

4. Light the photo of Trump from the flame of the orange candle and say:
    So mote it be!
    So mote it be!
    So mote it be!

5. Blow out orange candle

All done and repeat on April 24th, May 23rd and June 21st and with a bit of luck the spirits of Water, Fire, Earth and Air will hear all those witchy voices and thwart him but just in case i will find out about that changing into a frog thing.

Dutch Say Nee To Wilders

While one right wing racist screwball with funny hair in a seat of power is one too many, we have avoided him being joined by another by the Dutch taking a look at Geert Wilders and saying 'Nee Bedankt' to him and his extreme right wing policies.
Although only based on exit polls, the ruling VVD Party is reported to have taken 21% of the in the Netherlands with Geert Wilders' PVV party is believed to have won 19 seats (13%) although after recent elections, polls increasingly come with a fairly hefty health warning.
Labelled an 'undesirable perosn' and once banned from coming to the UK, Wilders has campaigned to stop what he calls the 'Islamisation of the Netherlands', compared the Koran to Mein Kampf and has campaigned to have the book banned in the Netherlands while advocating ending immigration from Muslim countries and supports banning mosques.
It’s the first of three key European votes this year in which extreme right wing parties are hoping to match the success of Donald Trump in the United States with France next to trek to the polling booths next month and a general election in Germany is due in September.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Brexit Explained

If, as expected, Theresa May triggers Article 50 this week and fires the gun for the two year countdown for Britain leaving the EU (Brexit is shorthand for British Exit), there are some terms that you will hear plenty of in the next week.

First up is Article 50 itself which is the formal notification of the UK's intention to leave the EU.

Next is The Single Market which is an association of countries trading with each other without restrictions or tariffs. The EU is the largest Single Market in the World and Britain's biggest trading partner with 45% of the UK's exports going to the EU.

Another common term will be Hard and Soft Brexit with a Hard Brexit being the UK refusing to compromise on issues like the free movement of people and trading with the EU as if it were any other country outside Europe and the EU treating Britain the same and apply tariffs making the import and export of goods and services more expensive.
A Soft Brexit is some form of membership of the European Union single market in return for a degree of free movement of people but no tariffs.

You are sure to hear about The Customs Union which is a group of countries that have agreed to charge the same import duties as each other and allow free trade between themselves with little or no customs checks and charges.

The European Economic Area (EEA) is the area that provides the free movement of people, services and capital within the European Single Market.

European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the judicial institution of the EU and settles disputes between parties and ensures that European law is interpreted and applied in the same way in every member state.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is the global organisation that deals with rules of trade between nations and if Britain takes the Hard Brexit option as above, will negotiate between Britain and the EU members.