Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Was Hurricane Sandy Due To Climate Change?

As New York mops up after Hurricane Sandy, the most obvious question to be asked is 'Was Hurricane Sandy due to climate change?'
I would say, of course it was, what an ignorant question, while people who don't share my view on Climate Change would say that October hurricanes in the Atlantic are not unusual and dismiss it.
The undeniable facts are that the warmer the air, the more moisture it holds and that means more precipitation ready to fall out the sky in the form of rain and snow as Greg Holland of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research explains: 'I have no equivocation in saying that all heavy rainfall events, including this one,have an element of climate change in them, and the level of that contribution will increase in the future.'
Then there are the warmer seas and it is the higher sea temperatures that give the hurricanes their energy and act as the engine for the storms, giving them the boost they need to grow bigger and stronger.
So was climate change to blame? We won't know that if the oceans were not so hot and the atmosphere was not so warm as to hold quite so much moisture if Sandy would have been so big, destructive and powerful but it should serve as a dire warning.
As the climate continues to warm up, the oceans WILL get hotter, the atmosphere WILL contain more precipitation and as the sea levels rise the storm surges WILL increase more widespread flooding.
Although we can't point at Sandy and state categorically that it was a result of climate change (although it strongly hints at it), i would love to hear an explanation that states it categorically wasn't.
Sadly, i don't think Sandy was destructive enough to alter the climate change deniers minds, it's going to take larger damage and a higher death toll for that to happen and that's a frightening thought because unless something is done quickly, the scenes we saw over the last few days will become the norm.

Vietnam May Have Got It Right

Two Vietnamese musicians have been jailed after being warned not to write anymore songs but deciding to go ahead and pen a couple of ditties anyway.
Amnesty International said: 'This is a ludicrous way to treat people just for writing songs' but hold on Amnesty, let's not be too hasty here.
Granted the tunes were anti-state songs critical of the Vietnamese government but i know a few song writers that would benefit all of us if we started banging up anyone who is an affront to music.
First in the dock getting life with no parole would be Paul McCartney for pretty much everything since 1970 and following him in would be Rod Stewart and Phil Collins for clogging up my radio with tosh for as long as i can remember. 
Billy Ray Cyrus deserves a spell in solitary for 'Achy Breaky Heart' in the cell next to Celine 'My Heart Will Go On' Dion and if someone had arrested the Village people after 'YMCA' we would have been spared 'In the Navy'. Bob Marley should have been locked away for a long time for having a career which consisted of every song having the same tune and Meatloaf should face a jury for making every song 10 minutes long.
A suspended sentence should be handed down to country music singers and anyone who uses an Hawaiian guitar in their songs, Mariah Carey for that wobbly voice thing she does where she goes up and down the scales mid-song, actors who think they can sing, comedy singers and boy bands who sing vaguely remembered 70's ballads with their shirts off and any band who sells the rights of their songs to advertisers and ruin that special song by forever being associated with kitchen roll.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Employers Making Mugs Of Taxpayers

A report by consultants KPMG has found that one in five workers in the UK is paid less than required for a basic standard of living, that's 4.82 million workers who have to survive on less than a living wage, currently £7.20 an hour while the minimum wage is £6.19.
We seem to hear a lot about how taxpayers have to fund the lifestyle of the unemployed and those on disability benefits so are we now going to hear about those employers who use the benefits system to pay part of their employees wages to their prop up their businesses while they pay themselves a massive wage and pension?
Unlikely, because the employers know that they can pay their staff the minimum possible and the taxpayer will make up the rest in tax credits and housing benefit.
As proven by the wails of protest from employers when the minimum wage was introduced, many employers will always find a reason to avoid paying those at the bottom properly so we need Government policy to lift the minimum wage to a level where the employee does not have to claim any benefits which would have the reaction of bringing the benefits bill down and reducing the load on the taxpayer and putting it onto the employers.
Employers won't do it themselves, they fought tooth and nail to avoid paying a minimum wage until Tony Blair forced it upon them, so it will have to come down from Government.
If employers can not provide a decent wage, why should the government subsidise them from taxpayers money especially when we read about tax evaded by companies operating in the UK is more than the UK budget deficit.
If the head of all these companies with bosses on a six figure annual salary paid themselves £100 an hour less, a pinprick in their pay packet, they could take on another 14 people each and pay them a living wage.
It isn't that the benefits are too high as the Conservatives tell us when they slash them but that the wages are too low. Why should we subsidise companies with multi-million pound turnovers?
It must be getting close to the time when we wake up and have another serious look at what Marx had to say.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Hurricane Sandy

I don't know who came up with the name 'Frankenstorm' but it seems very apt as Hurricane Sandy edges its way towards the Northern coast of America.
America sees a few hurricanes but this one seems to have the potential to be as bad as it has seen according to the weathermen who seem genuinely nervous about the super storm expected to hit land tomorrow.
'This is certainly the biggest thing I’ve covered in my career' said Jim Cantore, a meteorologist at The Weather Channel and even the MET Office have been tracking it and predict the results to be severe when it reaches land and its effects will be felt for days by much of the US east coast. Severe is MET Office speak for devastating but is it really as bad as it seems?
The New York Times is warning of a possible 12 foot storm surge while the the greatest storm surge in modern American history was 10.5 feet in 1960. Massive power outages over a wide area as sustained hurricane force winds batter the North East coastline and as the storm has an extremely low pressure, 951 millibars, the storm will be long lasting.
Due to the size and potential for damage, many people will be affected, New York City has issued a mandatory evacuation for hundreds of thousands of residents. In all 60 million people are expected to be affected.
I wish them all luck. Let's just hope the casualties are low.

Curse Or Coincidence?

All Hallows Eve, the time of the year when the tightly closed door to the dimension beyond that which is know to man, slides opens just enough for that which resides between light and shadow, between science and superstition and in the pit of man's fears can visit our world.

James Dean was an actor who had an interest in the occult and had a brief involvement with an LA witch coven, briefly dating actress and coven member Malia Nurmi. Dean publicly denied an intimate relationship with her, afraid of the negative impact his career may suffer as a result of their pairing, a denial that Nurmi and her coven did not take well.
On September 30, 1955, actor James Dean was driving his new Porsche 550 Spyder, nicknamed 'the Little Bastard', to a rally in California when he was involved in a head-on collision. James Dean, only 24 years old, died in the crash.
After the tragedy, George Barris bought the wreck for $2,500 and while unloading it, the Porsche slipped off the ramp and fell on one of the mechanics, breaking both of his legs.
The cars engine was sold to Troy McHenry and the drive-train purchased by William Eschrid, who were planning to use the parts in their own race cars. At the Pamona Fairgrounds in California, the doctors raced their vehicles for the first time using the parts from Deans car. McHenry’s Porsche Spyder spun out of control and hit a tree, killing him instantly. Eschrid was seriously injured when his car rolled over going into a curve. He later said that the car suddenly locked up when he went into a curve.
Two of the Porsche’s tires were unharmed during Dean’s accident and Barris had sold these to a young man who was lucky to survive a crash when both tyres simultaneously burst, sending their car spinning off the road.
The car's malevolent influence continued when a kid tried to steal the Porsche's steering wheel and slipped and gashed his arm on a piece of jagged metal.
Barris loaned the police the mangled remains of the Spyder to a travelling safe driving exhibition and while it was stored in a garage in Fresno before the start of the show, a fire broke out in the garage, destroying everything, except for Dean's Porsche Spyder.
At a display at Sacramento High School the bolts holding the car in place snapped. The car lurched off its display and broke the hip of a fifteen-year-old boy.
Days later the driver of the truck that was hauling the car around the exhibitions was killed instantly when he lost control and was thrown from his vehicle. 
The incidents surrounding the car continued until 1960, when the Porsche was loaned out for a safety exhibit in Miami and when the exhibit was over, the wreckage, en route to Los Angeles on a truck, mysteriously vanished. To this day, the Little Bastard's whereabouts are unknown.

A witches curse or a list of bizarre coincidences? We won't ever know but James Dean's car is still out there. Do you know where those second hand parts on your car have come from? Better drive just that bit slower this Wednesday, just in case. 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

How's It Going Over There?


Iraq: At least 40 people, including several children, have been killed in a series of attacks by insurgents across the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Two car bombs exploded on Saturday killing 12 people and wounding 27 followed by a bomb in a bus station that killed 10 and injured 31. Hours earlier, a roadside bomb planted near an open-air market in the eastern neighbourhood of Bawiya killed eight people, including four children at a playground. Police said another 24 people were wounded in the blast.

Libya: Reports that the Libyan city of Bani Walid was captured by army forces, killing 600 people in a single day of fighting and over 1,000 have been hospitalised. Locals are appealing for international aid.

Afghanistan: A suicide bomber has attacked holiday worshippers outside a mosque in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 45 people and injuring more than 60. The blast in Maimana, capital of Faryab province, happened as a crowd left morning prayers for the Eid al-Adha holiday.

Nice to see that the three places were we last intervened militarily are turning out so well. Next stop Iran and Syria then.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Shocking Obesity Statistic

There are not many stories that shock us anymore, what we see on the news has desensitised us to all but the worst atrocities, but a shocking report from the Red Cross should at the very least cause us to pause for thought.   
More people in the world are now dying from obesity than malnutrition with 1.5 billion dangerously overweight people worldwide last year, while 925 million were underfed.
In Britain, 7th in the OECD Obesity table, 1 in 11 deaths are now linked to obesity while in the US, who top the league, 1 in 8 deaths are attributed to illness stemming from obesity.
The Red Cross rightly explain that the world produces enough food for all of us but hunger exists due to the poor distribution of the food that we have got.
The organisation’s Bekele Geleta said: ‘If the free interplay of market forces has produced an outcome where 15 per cent of humanity are hungry while 20 per cent are overweight, something has gone wrong somewhere.’
Very wrong i'd say. It was only a few decades ago that we had concerts for the starving millions, now we are in the perverse situation where even more people are now dying because of the exact opposite reason. 
When we are being bombarded by advertisements for fast foods and sugar filled drinks and have the Olympics, the Worlds premier sporting event which showcases the finest and fittest athletes on the Planet, so closely associated with the likes of McDonald's and Coca-Cola it is hard to see things improving, especially as the the revenue from the UK snacks and confectionery market is currently £8 billion a year.
That's quite a big slice of income for the Government although the cost to the NHS of obesity is running at £5 billion, approximately the same as smoking but when was the last time we saw an advert urging us to eat less KFCs?

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Third Party Candidate

The Christian right in America have a bit of a problem when it comes to putting the little x in the box, do they choose the Mormon or the Anti-Christ that is Obama?
Luckily a website has popped up that solves the problem, vote for Jesus instead.
The website here helpfully explains that 'President Obama has proven by his words and deeds to be a true enemy of God as detailed in James 4:4. He has been the most pro-death President in history, supporting the legalized slaughter of innocent babies here and around the world, he is a staunch advocate of the radical homosexual agenda, and he has been a great friend to the enemies of Israel. On every major spiritual issue of the day, President Obama has proven to be an enemy of God and a true tool of Satan!
Romney doesn't fare much better, described as a 'member and a priest in the satanically inspired Mormon cult. He and others in his cult LIE when they claim to be Christians, since Mormon doctrine is 100% inconsistent with Biblical Christianity and a Mormon is no more a Christian than a Muslim is. He deceives people by saying he believes in "God" and "Jesus" is his savior, when the "god" of Romney's cult is NOT the God of the Bible, and their "jesus" is NOT the Jesus of the Bible. Romney and those in his cult believe the Bible to be a flawed and incomplete book and look at Biblical Christians as inferior and non-believers for rejecting the beliefs of their cult'.
God, apparently, has taken His hand of blessing and protection from America for all the gross sins and wickedness that goes on over there, he even caused the recession as punishment so the Bible bashing folk are urged to join the 1,419,232 people who have so far have committed to make a stand by writing in the name of Jesus for President on their ballot papers.
Of course if he wins Jesus will have to produce his birth certificate which should be interesting:
Father: Invisible man living in a dimension nobody has ever seen,
Mother: Unmarried teenager knocked up by invisible man living in another dimension nobody has ever seen.
Place of Birth: Bethlehem, Palestinian West Bank. 
Throw in that Jesus was a long haired, sandal wearing hippy who was an anti-war, anti-capitalist Socialist and i am beginning to think that the religious right wing haven't thought this one through properly.

UK Out Of Recession

The Office for National Statistics has announced that finally we are out of recession and a beaming chancellor, George Osborne, has been all over the television telling us all that his economic strategy is working and 'Britain is on the right track'.
The economy has crawled out of its double-dip recession, growing by 1% in the third quarter of 2012, but i guess Gideon was so busy slapping himself on the back that he missed the bit in the ONS announcement that explained that the GDP growth had been artificially boosted by the Olympic Games as all of the income from Olympics tickets was counted towards economic output in the third quarter, whenever the tickets were purchased.
'By continuing to take the tough decisions needed to deal with our debts and equip our economy for the global race we're in, this government is laying the foundations for lasting prosperity' he said still ignoring the fact that the 1% growth figures was down to a one off event and unless we hold an Olympics here every 3 months, is highly unlikely to be repeated in the coming months.
Oh well, triple-dip recession anyone?

Someone Wake Me Up

The US must have forgotten that Tony Blair wasn't in power anymore because they have asked to use UK military bases to support the build-up of forces in the Gulf and we of course said..what, we said no?
It won't go down well in the country that if it wasn't for them we would all be speaking German now after they saved our backsides in two World Wars apparently but the UK Government has knocked them back and cited legal advice which states that any pre-emptive strike on Iran could be in breach of international law as Iran does not currently represent 'a clear and present threat' and 'providing assistance to forces that could be involved in a pre-emptive strike would be a clear breach of international law'.
The UK following international law and avoiding illegal wars? What the...?
I think I must have fallen asleep and woken up in a parallel universe because the UK is out of recession and i agree with David Cameron's speech about not giving prisoners the vote.
Damn, somebody pinch me, it's all going horribly right.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Predicting The US Election Result


If only we could see into the future we could jog down to the bookmakers, put the life savings on a sure thing and spend the rest of our days being fed peeled grapes by hunky men in skimpy pants but alas we can't. Or can we?
If some shady character sidled up alongside you one evening last New Years Eve and said he could predict the outcome of every major election in 2012 you would dismiss him as a crank, but if he then offered you proof and 12 months later he had indeed predicted 100% correctly the election results in all the major elections of the year you may well begin looking up hunky grape peelers in the telephone directory. 
So, 'ere mate, wanna know the winner of the US election? I got a foolproof system, 100% accurate. It predicted Bush to beat Gore in 2004, Bush to beat Kerry in 2008, Cameron to beat Brown in 2010 and so far this year it has correctly predicted Chavez to beat Capriles in Venezuala, Hollande to beat Sarkozy in France, Nikolic to beat Tadic in Serbia, Morsi to beat Shafiz in Egypt, Nieto to beat Obrador in Mexico and Rutte to beat Samsom in the Netherlands.
So what is this money making miracle? It's Google.
I have long advocated search query volume as a barometer of the mood of the people and once again is it coming good on voter intent in elections.

US election 2000 and Google said Bush would beat Gore, and he did although it took a court decision and some dubious hanging chads but Google was just getting into its stride.





US election 2004 and Google said Bush would beat Kerry quite handsomely, which he did.






US election 2008 and according to Google its  Obama to take McCain. Right again.






Over to the UK and the 2010 election next and David Cameron was tipped by Google to beat Gordon Brown. Chalk another one up for Google.




Into 2012 and the French Election and Google picks Hollande to beat Sarkozy in a close run thing and as predicted, it's Mr Hollande who narrowly pips it to become the new French President.





From Europe to Africa and Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi got the nod from Google and squeezed out Ahmed Shafiq.



Serbia in May and in the contest between Boris Tadic and Tomislav Nikolic, Google says it's Tadic and the Serbian voters agree. 




Nieto beat Obrador in Mexico just as Google said he would and Google seems to be getting the gap about right also, Nieto won with room to spare.

Back in Europe the Netherlands election was close and Google gave it to Rutte to beat Samsom which he did narrowly.


The word was the Venezuelan election was going to be another close one but Google ignored that and decided Chavez would have a comfortable win which of course, he did.



Eerily Google has a perfect record this year on the big elections and below is the results for the 2012 American Elections.

It's close but with a fortnight still to go Obama is currently shading it. Maybe we should check back the day before to give us chance to draw out the life-savings and get to the bookmakers. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Interest Waning In US Election

I do like watching the American election, it seems so much more colourful than our own bland affair but this time i don't actually care
too much who wins. I am usually rooting for someone, Gore over Bush, Kerry over Bush, Obama over McCain but this time around i am not so fussed. Obama's first administration could easily have been Bush's third and Romney seems instantly unlikeable and a tad moronic so it's Obama but only on the basis that it is better the devil you know.
Talking to people over the last few weeks as the election draws nearer it does seem that many people see Obama as the good guy and Romney as the bad guy. Not sure why and even when i point out Obamas track record over the last past fours years including the war in Libya, increased drone attacks, attacks in Pakistan, continuing conflict in Afghanistan, backing of a even more belligerent Israel, the awful response to the Arab Spring where the US found themselves on the wrong side of the oppressed and the backing of the same people they are fighting against in Iraq and Afghanistan in Syria, but still Obama is the favoured candidate here.
So far this year i have been quite spoiled with elections, i wanted Hollande in France and Chavez in Venezuela and both are in power and Obama, by default as being slightly less of a scary proposition than Romney, could make it a hat-trick.
We definitely seemed more interested in the 2008 US election, more in celebration of the end of the Bush era wars than anything else but the fascination with what is happening across the Atlantic is not so strong this time around.   
I knew people who stayed up to watch the debates in 2008, i haven't found anyone who did this time around and if it wasn't for me prompting, i would get hardly any debate out of the students, work colleagues or friends who seem far less interested this time around. Even the media who usually take the chance to fill their pages and programmes with US election news seem lacklustre on there coverage.
Quite rightly, the US election isn't really for anyone but Americans to get excited about but whether it is the lack of a real candidate to like or dislike this time around, the realisation that whoever gets in will run a disastrous foreign policy or the normal British apathy to what other countries do, the US election hasn't really caught the British imagination this time around so far.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Carry On Scotland

I have always been of the view that if Scotland wanted it's independence then we should let it go. Not out of some romantic view of a country trying to free itself from under the shadow of a stronger, more powerful neighbour, but because Scotland doesn't actually bring anything to the United Kingdom table which benefits us.
I was quite happily getting ready to wave the Jocks goodbye and then Alex Salmond said something that stopped me in my tracks and got me rethinking the whole 'Quick, before they change their minds' idea.  
First minister Alex Salmond has said that if Scotland was to gain its independence, we couldn't keep our nuclear weapons there.
Being the kind and caring people that we are, England keeps all its most dangerous weapons in another country, that country being Scotland and if Scotland goes it's own way, England will have to keep all our weapons of mass destruction in our own country.
Hmmm. Was a tough choice between keeping Scotland and having somewhere to store all our dangerous weapons or let them go and have to find somewhere here to stash them and then i realised that we still have Northern Ireland and Wales just sitting there. Sorted.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

More Proof That Mobile Phones Are Dangerous?

The debate over the cancer risks from mobile phone radiation has been going on for years but the lack of any conclusive proof has stopped anyone in authority coming out and saying mobiles give you cancer, all they do is just hint at it.
The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority and the International Agency for Research on Cancer say that mobiles are 'probably carcinogenic' and the Department of Health say that there are potential, but not proven, long term health risks. The World Health Organisation issued a report admitting mobiles phones are 'possibly carcinogenic to humans' and even the instructions that comes with new phones advises users to use hands-free operation when possible and keep the device away from the body and reduce the amount of time spent on calls.
Of course the phone companies will not come out themselves and admit it, they would be condemning themselves to a deluge of lawsuits if they admitted that their products gave its users cancer but the weight of scientific evidence is building up against them.
The Italian Supreme Court has ruled that Mr Innocente Marcolini's mobile phone was responsible for a brain tumour that left his face partially paralysed.
Marcolini’s tumour was located on the nerve where his cellphone touched his head and the professor of environmental mutagenesis Angelo Gino Levis, who gave evidence during the court hearing, said of the ruling that 'finally a correlation has been officially recognised between electromagnetic waves and development of tumours in spite of the anti-alarmist propaganda and research financed by mobile phone manufacturers. After working on several case studies, the relationship between the use of mobile phones and the increased risk of brain tumours is proven'.
Scary stuff and a 2008 study presented to the US Senate in 2008 by Dr. Siegal Sadetzki identified that your chances of developing a tumour on the same side of your head that you use for listening to the mobile phone increases by 34% after 5 years of mobile use.
As most of us got our first mobile phones in the mid 90s, that's almost 20 years of use so if there is an increase in these cases of tumour's and cancers then the phone manufacturers could be facing the same legal fate as the tobacco and asbestos manufacturers who refused to admit that their products were unsafe until the evidence was overwhelming but came too late for many.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Osborne The Parasitic Scourge

London Mayor and Conservative Party member Boris Johnson called fare dodgers a parasitic scourge last year as figures showed fare-dodging cost the travel companies £75 million a year. Then this happened.

The chancellor, George Osborne, tried to sit in first class on board a Virgin train despite only having paid for a standard ticket.
An eyewitness, who just happened to be a broadcast journalist, said that an aide for Osborne had approached a ticket inspector and informed him that he was travelling with George Osbourne and he had a standard ticket but can he remain in first class. The inspector re[plied that he couldn't.
The aide pleaded that Osborne couldn't possibly sit in standard class. The inspector stuck to his guns and said that if he wanted to stay in first class then it would cost him £160. The aide said he couldn't pay and he couldn't really sit in standard class.
The guard refused to budge and went on gathering tickets until the aide came back with the £160, the price of the first class ticket.
I am sure that Gideon did consider using the famous 'Do you know who i am?' phrase but probably thought better of it in case they did and he would not only be sitting with the plebs in standard class but be sporting a shiner and a bloody nose as well.   
Parasitic scourge indeed.

Why We Are Fighting In Afghanistan

Something i have heard creeping in recently from the Government while discussing the Afghanistan war is that our soldiers are over there fighting the Taliban to 'keep us safe'.
You could be forgiven for not remembering the origins of the war, it was 11 years ago but what it was about at any time was going over there to keep us safe.
Let's go back to September 11, 2001 and the planes flying into the World Trade Centre buildings. Al Queada took the credit and as Bin Laden was head of the terrorist group, it was his head that America decided to come down upon.
As Bin Laden was in Afghanistan under the wing of the Afghanistan Government, the Taliban, then it was to Afghanistan that America turned ordering the Taliban to hand him over for trial on threat of military action if they never. 
The offer was made by George W Bush and Tony Blair that the Taliban would be left in power if they handed him over to the United States and the Taliban offered to try him in Afghanistan or hand him over to the Pakistan authorities but America rejected the offer and stated that they would not negotiate their demands.
While this was going on, the US and Britain were trying to get United Nations backing to attack Afghanistan but because the UN can only sanction military action as an act of self-defence, the UN never backed it.
A 37-nation poll of world opinion carried out by Gallup in September 2001 found that large majorities in 34 of the countries did not favour military action, only in three countries, the United States, Israel, and India, was there a majority for a military strike. 
With no UN backing, it was declared a NATO operation and on October 7, NATO began bombing Afghanistan.
Three days into the bombing, US officials rejected a new offer from the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden to a third country for trial if the Americans halted the bombing.
Eleven years later and the fighting continues but never was it ever about our boys fighting so we can sleep safely in our beds at night. The Afghanistan War was entirely all about punishing the Taliban for not handing over Bin Laden and anything other is an attempt to rewrite the origins of an unpopular and disastrous war.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

US Election Celebrity Endorsements

The US election is only a few short weeks away now and i'm undecided if i want the one who has carried on and expanded on George W Bush's wars or the one who will start up some new ones. Decisions, decisions. The Communist Kenyan or the gaffe prone Mormon, i'm stumped so i'm going to let the celebrities World tell me what to think.

Romney has some pretty decent singers lined up alongside him including Kid Rock, LL Cool J, Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper, Kelly Clarkson, Nicki Minaj, Donny and Marie Osmond, Meatloaf and the Beach Boys. Most impressive is Johnny Van Zant who is the frontman for Lynrd Skynyrd who sang the brilliant Free Bird.
Singing for Obama is Gwen Stefani, Maraiah Carey, Jon Bon Jovi, Cher, Miley Cyrus, Gloria Estefan, Foo Fighters, Lady Gaga, Carole King, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Pink, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam.

The film actors with Romney include Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, Chuck Norris, Andy Garcia, Jon Voight, James Caan, Sylvester Stallone, Linsey Lohan, Tom Selleck, James Woods, Stephen Baldwin and Johnny Depp.
Obama has Alec Baldwin, Jack Black, George Clooney, Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Natalie Portman, Martin Sheen, Will Smith and Reese Witherspoon.

The TV Actors for Romney include Kelsey Grammer and Scott Biao and Obama has Scott Bakula, Alyson Hannigan and Sarah Jessica Parker while out of the authors we have Dean Koontz with Romney and Stephen King with Obama and in sport Jack Nicklaus and Hulk Hogan backing the Republicans with Muhammad Ali in the Democrat corner. 

Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump are cheering for Romney while Bill Gates is supporting Obama.

I think i would rather attend a Romney supporters music concert than an Obama one (Miley Cyrus!!), but i would rather watch a film with Obama backers in it rather than the Republican offering (although i would fast forward it to the bits Johnny Depp was in).  
A TV show starrinbg Quantum Leaps Sam Beckett and Willow from Buffy would appeal more than a show with Frasier and Chachi from Happy Days and on his day Stephen King is still just about readable and better than Dean Koontz but the clincher is Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump, i can't be on the same side as them in anything so its Obama for me.
Thanks celebrities, you make voting so much easier.

Prince Charles Wrote What??

In a seven month period between 2004 and 2005, Prince Charles sent 27 letters to Government Ministers and last month a ruling by a tribunal agreed with the Guardian newspaper that 'the public had a right to know how the prince sought to change government policy'.
Now the Attorney General has come along, kicked the tribunal decision into touch and blocked any disclosure of the letters as they 'could damage prince's ability to perform duties as king'.
Obviously all it has done is make everyone even more curious what the man who will be King had to say that is so bad that if we knew it would stop him doing his duties?
As we are paying him £1.6 million a year from our taxes, i think we have a right to know what we are paying for and how to know if an unelected aristocrat is using his role to influence Government policy.
If whatever he said is explosive enough to cause outrage that the people will rise up and stop him becoming King (as if we could), then Charlie shouldn't;lt be saying these things and because he did, we should know what sort of person is going to be ruling over us in the very near future. It's not good enough to say that he can meddle and then not allow is to know just what he has been meddling in and surely its the sending of the letters that makes him unfit to be king, not us finding out about them.
Even more outrageous is the idea that whatever are in these letters will stop him doing his Royal duties. What could he have possibly have written that would stop him waving out of a car window, shaking hands with people and saying, 'and what do you do?'
Where's Oliver Cromwell when you need him?

Monday, 15 October 2012

Scottish Independence Vote

Finally a date has almost been set for the vote for Scottish Independence.
I especially enjoy the way it has been conducted so that the Scottish think that they have a chance of escaping from the English while actually i think they will find that it's our chance to get rid of them.      
In an effort to maximise the Yes vote, the referendum is to be held around the time of the 700th anniversary of Scotland's (rare) military victory over the English at Bannockburn, allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote and just after the Scotland based Commonwealth Games in 2014.
I also enjoy seeing Sean Connery as the loudest mouthpiece for Scottish Independence, supporting Scotland breaking away from his home in the Bahamas.
William Wallace may have been hanged, drawn and quartered and his body parts displayed in various English cities after fighting for Scottish independence, but only about a third of all the Scots polled wanted to break away from the United Kingdom so they Scottish National Party may have a tough job on their hands to convince their citizens that going it alone is the best thing for them.
I say if they vote in 2014 to stay in Great Britain, we English get a vote to see if we can break away from them. Only fair.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Oldboy & Virginia Tech Shooting

In 2007, on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, 33 students were killed by fellow student Seung-Hui Cho. 
Straight after the shooting, pictures emerged of the shooter in identical poses as those from his favourite film, Old Boy, an ultra-violent thriller with scenes of strong violence including scenes of torture.
Quite rightly, people asked whether Cho Seung-Hui was copying scenes from the South Korean film when he launched his murder spree.
Obviously he was and i have long argued that violence in movies can influence some people to becoming violent themselves.
Child's Play 3 will be forever linked with the Jamie Bulger killing as the The Dark Knight Rises film will now be that film where James Holmes shot and killed 12 people in Denver. Oldboy will now always be linked with the 33 dead students in Virginia which makes it even more surprising that Hollywood is remaking it with Spike Lee directing.
It is almost impossible to argue that Oldboy never influenced Seung-Hui Cho and the Virginia Tech tragedy, but Hollywood is now bringing it to a cinema near you.
It could just be that it is a great film that is following the recent theme of Hollywood remaking the best Asian films for a Western market, it is the 88th best movie of all time on IMDb Top 250, but it does seem a bit insensitive to remake a film that was instrumental in the death of all those students. Isn't it?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

What's Your Name Again?

I have always found it mildly amusing when peoples names resemble their careers. At school my music teacher was Mrs Horn and i know a woodwork teacher called Mr Carpenter but i didn't know that the phenomenon where people who seem inexorably drawn to their profession by virtue of their name is called 'nominative determinism'.
No less an authority than Carl Jung pondered the connection asking 'Are these the whimsicalities of chance, or the suggestive effects of the name or are they meaningful coincidences?'
No idea Carl but what it does give us is some brilliantly funny examples such as the head of Astronomy at Edniburgh University being called Alan Heavens and the author of a book about the polar region named Daniel Snowman.
Mark Avery was the director of conservation at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the big cheese of the UK branch of dairy company Danone is Mr Fromage and i'm sure that i once read that Buzz Aldrin' mothers maiden name was Moon. Ornithologist Carla Dove is in charge of the Division of Birds at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, Svetlana Filippova is a springboard diver in the same Russian team as Marina Stepanova who is, of course, a hurdler.
One of my favourites is the New York Lawyer Sue Yoo which is all very funny but of course the real fun comes when we put aside our adult behaviour and maturity and become schoolkids again and look for the names that are a bit rude.
Names like the urologist who specialises in vasectomies Dr Richard (Dick) Chopp who shares his urology clinic with Dr. Hardeman and Dr. Wang.
I am just glad that Shit Fun Chew who is an Associate Professor of Natural Sciences at Singapore University didn't become a chef.

Who To Blame For Road Death Rise

One of the worst sights as i move around the City is the collection of flowers and candles left alongside a road because that means that someone has died on that spot recently.
Thankfully it is still a rare occurrence but a Government report has shown that the number of people killed on Britain's roads increased by 3% in 2011 and the number of pedestrians killed jumped by 12%.
Chillingly, the first quarter of this year shows an 8% increase on the 2011 figures compared with the same period last year.
The number of pedestrians dying on our roads is rising but nobody can seem to agree why and until we can work that out, we won't be able to work out a way to reverse the rising figures. The Association of British Insurers called for new restrictions on young drivers, noting that one in three of those killed on the roads is under 25, while the RAC believe the Government withdrawing the funding for speed cameras is to blame and the sheer number of cars now on our roads.
In a contest between soft-tissued organisms and heavy, fast-moving pieces of metal there is only going to be one winner so we should be looking at making the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists and that would mean slowing down the cars as being hit by a car at 20 mph is a lot more survivable than being hit at 30mph. Poor, careless and dangerous driving is another major contributor especially idiot drivers on mobile phones of which i count myself as someone who has and does answer the mobile while driving.
Rather than the present year ban, a life ban from driving if convicted of causing death by careless or dangerous driving should be mandatory. That is only half the story because as well as speed calming methods to slow down the cars, carelessness by pedestrians and cyclists are also a factor.
Cyclists that go through red lights, weave around traffic, don't signal and have no lights on their bikes are a danger to themselves and obviously don't realise that sometimes it is only other peoples reactions that stop them becoming a part of the grim statistics.
Pedestrians oblivious to their surroundings are another accident waiting to happen, i have had to react many times to pedestrians stepping off the pavement usually texting or wearing earphones and not paying attention to my car traveling directly at them.
There even seems to be a new breed who cross the road in front of cars by holding their hand up as if that will protect them from the tonne of metal coming straight at them at speed. The overwhelming responsibility for the road death toll is on the car driver but reckless behaviour from all quarters, pedestrians, drivers and cyclists, all contribute.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Gonna' Need A Bigger Hall

The weekends here and we all have things to do and places to go. I suppose i had better get my hair done and i'm going to need a new dress and shoes if me and 500 million of my closest friends are going to an International awards ceremony.
Being British, you won't catch us boasting about the Nobel Peace Prize that we have picked up today as part of the EU which was given the award for its 'contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe'.
I doubt if we will ever mention it again, just put it on the hypothetical European shelf and let it collect dust.
Of course we wouldn't be so shallow as to shove it in the face of the Australasians while shouting 'let's count how many Nobel Peace Prizes we got between us shall we? Us first, ONE, your go'.
The countries that make up North America won't be hearing us sing 'Put down your French Fries and look at our Peace Prize' and there is absolutely no chance that the South American nations will witness the undignified sight of 500 million Europeans mockingly waving miniature peace prizes at it.
African's can rest assured that we won't be bringing it up at every opportunity, i doubt it will even be mentioned again.
Two things puzzle me though, where are they going to get a hall large enough to hold all 500 million of us and secondly, do we get an official title or can i just insist that everyone calls me 'her distinguished majesty of everything and everybody'?
I have an idea, let's count how many Peace Prizes we have between us shall we Australians. We have one, how many have you got?
Pardon? You haven't? Oh. Snigger.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Tough Choice For Savile Charities

Usually when a person is being vilified, a picture of Tony Blair stood grinning beside them appears and right on cue, here he is with the most hated man in the country at the moment, Jimmy Savile.
Savile was today accused by police of carrying out four decades of sickening offences on a 'national scale' as more and more revelations surface of just what he got up to with young girls.
Such is the revulsion of the former BBC man that his family have removed his headstone 'out of respect to public opinion' and halls and streets named after him are being renamed.
Who do face an awkward decision are the Charities that Savile set up because whatever we think of him now, he did do a considerable amount of charity work, particularly the St Francis Ward and Stoke Mandeville Hospitals.
Now it has been revealed that Savile took young girls to the flat he was given at Stoke Mandeville they face the unenviable decision of  whether to continue to take donations from the The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust, based at the hospital.
One argument is that they should decline as it is morally wrong to take money from someone who was giving to you while pursuing activities that harmed the people you were trying to help. How strongly can they criticise someone while still taking his money?
The other argument is to take his money and use it to help people who are victims of the Jimmy Savile's of this World, put right some of the wrongs that Savile done.
A tough decision indeed for the Charities and to their credit the trustees of the Jimmy Savile Charities appreciate the damage done to the Savile brand and have offered to spread the remaining money in the Charities between organisations that help sexual abuse victims before winding them up for good.
A great idea but again it comes back to the moral right of taking money from a man who spent his life making sure that organisations that help abuse victims were needed. Tough choice.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Ahmadinejad's Blog

The World of blogging welcomed it's newest member, Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2006 here.
The Middle-East leader's debut on the international blog stage came in the form of a 2000-word slog that asks readers to decide if the US and Israel were trying to start a new world war.
Mr Ahmadinejad also describes his humble origins in an impoverished rural village and takes the time to wish us a 'Glorious and Auspicious Birthday of Divine Prophe' or a Merry Christmas as we also know it.
I guess nothing much happened in Iran between December 2007 and February 2012 because Mahmoud didn't blog between then although he does mention 'all the devils inside and outside the country have been united against us' which must be quite time consuming i suppose.
Bit sparse and nothing new posted since February but it is nice that he takes the time to say hello occasionally although as one commenter from Canada pointed out 'This web site needs work. Please do not assassinate me for saying so'.



Science Lessons From The BIble

'God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a saviour. There’s a lot of scientific data that I found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I believe that the Earth is about 9,000 years old. I believe that it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says. And what
I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually. How to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all our public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason, as your congressman, I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.”

This is the view of religion according to Paul Broun from Georgia. A pretty standard view for those who believe in such things and a view that would see you dismissed as a crank if you repeated it outside the confines of a Church here in Britain where religion is weak but not in America where 46% of people think that God made humans within the past 10,000 years.
If Paul Broun was your everyday American then his view would be in line with most, but as he is on the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology who help shape the future of science in America, it's a bit more shocking.
Alongside him, shaping this future is Todd Akin of 'legitimate rape' fame and his belief that pregnancies are not likely to result from rape.

I think that the politest thing to do would be to say that I disagree with Mr Broun while the impolite thing would be to say that he should be one of the last people who should be allowed on a science committee with his primitive, outdated and frankly ridiculous belief system. 
I really should check what the Bible says about things like space travel and nuclear power but while i look Mr Broun, run that bit past us from Genesis again where God created light on the first day and then created the Sun on the fourth day. Now that's science Biblical fashion.

What's Really Happening In Syria?

The first victim of war is the truth and when the bombs and bullets start flying it is hard to know who did what to whom and when but the tension between Syria and Turkey doesn't look like it's going to end well after six days of firing mortars at each other after a Syrian shell landed on the Turkish side of the border and killed an adult and four children.
Turkey responded with shells of their own and they have been firing them at each other ever since.
So why did Syria fire a mortar into Turkey, a NATO member, in the first place? If it was by accident, apparently their target town is situated right on the border and a slight over calculation would see a shell landing in Turkey, then to do it once is bad enough, but to do it six days in a row? When NATO is itching to get involved? Are the Syrian military that stupid?
Apparently so because it's continuing but there are a few media outlets not quite so sure that the events are how they have been explained.
RT is claiming that the mortar that landed in the Turkish town is a design specific to NATO and was given to Syrian rebels by the Turks and the same ones which the rebels have been firing at downtown Aleppo for the past week.
Of course RT is the Russian state mouthpiece and the Russia Government is siding with Assad and the Syria military but the German state TV channel, ZDF, reporting on the attack,
initially reported that it was the Syrian rebels who fired on the Turkish village, even claiming that the Syrian rebels officially claimed responsibility for the attack and quoting a local Turk saying 'The Syrian rebels try to draw us into their  conflict. We have to be very careful here.' Turkey today called for 'international action' on Syria.
Who to believe? I certainly don't trust the Syrians military or Assad but nor do i trust the rebels who today killed dozens of people in two suicide bombings in Damascus. Anything from NATO should be filtered through a filter of an organisation that has been looking for a legitimate way into the conflict for months and the UK and US lost all right to be considered a fair and balanced broker a long time ago.
Who to believe then? The rebels would be the largest beneficiary of Turkey entering the conflict and Syria have nothing to gain and everything to lose by aggravating Turkey but who knows the truth and as they argue it out, civilians die and once you are dead it doesn't really matter whether it was a Turkish, rebel or Syrian army shell that took you out. The second victim of war is always the innocent civilian cowering in the middle just trying to stay alive.

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Boy Done Good

Listen. Can you hear that?
It's either the bearings on the washing machine need replacing again or the loud gnashing of teeth of the right wing as news comes through that Hugo Chavez has won another six years as the President of Venezuela.
Ain't democracy a bitch!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Banks Apologising For Any Inconvenience

Hot on the heels of the Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank computer systems failing, now account holders of the the Lloyds TSB,
Halifax, Co-operative and Smile are this weekend unable to access their accounts, withdraw money from the cashpoint or use their cards in shops.
This is becoming a bit of a habit with our high street bank's and the answer is obviously to double the bank directors salaries and hand each one a million pound bonus.
At least they are apologising for any inconvenience which is nice but still, this may be a good time to use the 'oi Lloyds, what happened to the £500,000 i had in my account before the computers went down?' trick.

Friday, 5 October 2012

What About Us Then?

Some call it the the Stars and Stripes, others say Old Glory or even The Star Spangled Banner but in some Asian streets it is mostly known as that pile of ashes over there.
It seems that you can't turn on a television lately without watching some pyromaniac Muslim dancing around a flaming American flag, especially after the film 'Innocence of Muslims' put in an appearance and rather predictably wound up a good portion of the Asian world.
While it might not be a good time for makers of inflammatory films that mock Mohammad, it is boom time for flag makers and irate Muslims with a box of matches.
'Whenever we have these demonstrations, I make 10 times as much money as normal' said the manager at Panaflex printers who charges 120 and 1,500 rupees depending on size and quality but all are guaranteed to catch fire easily which is, of course, important.
The Israeli flag is the second flag of choice for the arsonist but as hard as we look, our very own Union Flag is staying relatively flame free these days which beggars the question, are we not as worthy as Israel and America that our flag doesn't deserve a good burning also?
I understand that America with it's drones and foreign policy that seems to revolve around invading oil rich countries in your region and Israel with its policy of trying to start a war with a neighbouring country whenever there is a number in the month, but Britain is usually involved somewhere.
Granted it is mostly cheering from the sidelines and making the tea but we are one of the Worlds busiest arms sellers so there is a good chance that the bullet currently zinging through your front door has 'Made in Britain' stamped on it somewhere. 
We also have a decent record of supporting the guys who have been oppressing you for decades so come on Asia, give a little country who has long since lost its place in the World a bit of an ego boost and give the Union Jack a flick of that lighter because there are other nasty Governments around outside of Washington and Tel Aviv. 

Remind Me What Men Are For Again?

If your home is lacking dirty clothes beside the laundry basket rather than it in or you are fed up being able to use the remote control or perhaps there is just not enough urine on your toilet seat when you go to use it, then you need a man. 
Better move sharpish though because there are two big events today that male ego may have taken a bit of a bash.
Firstly scientists have created and fertilised egg cells made from skin tissue taken from laboratory mice and have fertilised them in IVF experiments to produce normal, healthy offspring. This is part two after last year they generated sperm cells in a similar manner by converting skin cells of a mouse into stem cells. Ouch, that's mans primary function gone but at least we still need them to park the car for us.
Oops, Nissan have developed a car that can park itself and is controlled remotely with a mobile phone.
Don't worry guys, as long as we are incapable of opening jars or have the coordination to throw things in the air and catch them in our mouths, we will need you big lugs around.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Savile & Those That Knew

As all decent lawyers knows, the dead can't sue which is why 40 years after the event, it is safe for all the showbiz types to come out and say that they knew Jimmy Savile was a pervy child abuser.  
With hindsight you can look at him and think 'it's obvious, he is exactly what a child abuser would look like' but there he was front and centre on our television screens, even hosting kids shows on prime time, and all the time he was doing god knows what to children in his dressing room and in the back of his car.
If that isn't bad enough, it is now that his BBC colleagues step up to tell us that they always knew what he was up to but didn't dare say anything. Janet Street Porter last night claimed that she kept quiet about it because 'nothing would have been done' rather than 'it would have jeopardised my career' which is what she really meant.
Her career went onwards and upwards while more and more teenage girls had their life's ruined by the paedophile. At least everything turned out okay for you then Janet and the rest who looked the other way.
Stories are now emerging how Savile shared his victims with Gary Glitter and another celebrity who has yet to be named but is suspected to be the comedian Freddie Starr who had an injunction removed yesterday although he strongly denies that he was the 'third man' at the dressing room sex parties Savile and Glitter hosted.
It is also unsettling that a thankfully small minority are asking what's the point in all of these allegations being fired at him now if he's dead?.
True, he can't be prosecuted but he can have his reputation torn to shreds, his statue has already been removed from a Glasgow leisure centre and a memorial plaque fixed on his home in Scarborough has been attacked with graffiti.
Vilification is the very least he deserves but it could have been stopped and he could have been properly prosecuted years ago if only some of those who knew about it had not looked the other way muttering that nothing would be done.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Democracy & The Will Of The People

Winston Churchill said it was 'the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried' and Abraham Lincoln defined it as 'rule of, by, and for, the people' but is Democracy really such the great thing as we are led to believe?
Politics is vital to all of our lives, almost everything depends on political decisions from how we travel to how our children are educated to how much tax we pay on our wages. 
We have elections, parties tell us what they will do if elected, we vote, and the winners governs until the next round of elections a number of years later.
My biggest gripe about Democracy is that the voters have no way to force another election if the party who won turn out to be a disaster, the argument being that what we have is representative democracy, where we choose others to decide for us and the winner is serving the will of the majority, but are they?
In Britain, David Cameron became Prime Minister with just 36% of the voting public voting for him, 64% of the population wanted someone else so is he really in his position due to the will of the British people when two thirds specifically said they didn't want him ruling over them?
In America which has a population of 311 million, only 70m said Obama could represent them leaving the other 241 million to watch on as he acts as he sees fit. If he starts a war, over three quarters of the population can rightfully say that he is not acting in their name, nothing to do with them. 
In most countries there is a minimum age that a person can vote at so you could argue that Julie Gillard's 6m votes in Australia represents 50% of the voting public but you could just as easily argue that she still doesn't represent 16m of the 22m in her country by virtue of not receiving their permission either because they couldn't, or didn't, give it to her. 
Stephen Harper of Canada is in power despite 61% of the countries voters not wanting him, in Japan 69% of the country wanted someone else except Yukio Hatoyama, 67% voted against Angela Merkel in Germany and a huge 74% said a resounding no to Mark Rutte but he still sits as Prime Minister making the laws and rules that dominate the lives of the three quarters of the voting population that rejected him in the Netherlands.
The will of the people in the last Finnish election was for 80% to look at Jurki Faymann and vote for another party but he took power representing just 2 out of every 10 of the voters.  
Looking at the numbers of the Democracies around the World, most of the ruling parties are not representing the vast majority of people in there countries, Norway 32%, India 35%, Ireland 36%, Iceland 29%, Sweden 30%, Switzerland 26%, Austria 29% and in Israel Benjamin Netanyahu can only declare to be representing 21% of his population.
As Churchill nodded towards, Democracy is deeply imperfect but with no real alternative to turn to, it is what we have. It's just obviously not that representative of the 'will of the people' which is it's whole point.

Quietly Watching

Imagine a World, far away in another Universe where a race of aliens exist. Over millions of years, unbeknown to them, we watch them grow and evolve and they settle different parts of the planet. We see that sometimes the different collections of aliens meet with each other and when they do, they fight. As time progresses the aliens develop more efficient ways of fighting each other and killing each other as one group takes over the part of the planet from another.
Time passes and the aliens develop ways of leaving the ground and they use this as a means of killing even more of each other and still we watch as thousands of years go by and tens of millions of aliens have been killed under out gaze.
Then the aliens build a rocket and manage to make the short hop to reach one of their moons, meanwhile on the planet the killing goes on and larger and larger numbers die.
Unknown to then we watch as they move out further into space to land on another planet, and then another, and them another until finally they find one they can inhabit. Then they find another one, then another one.      
We then have a decision, as the stronger, more advanced race, can we allow this breed of aliens, who have been murdering and slaughtering each other since time began, to expand out into the universe? What if they discover Earth? Would we want them here? Should we try and stop them?  
Makes you wonder if we are being watched by Aliens, how would they feel about such a race as us humans expanding out into the universe?
Just mention it as we landed on Mars recently and UFO sightings are up by around 50% this year. Probably just a coincidence. Probably.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Nicotine Fuelled Nightmares

I don't mean to keep banging on about my giving up smoking, plenty of people have done it before and not gone on about it, but it is day 19 and i have been on the e-cigarette with the strongest nicotine fluid, 24mg, and so far so good but there has been one side-effect that i wasn't aware all nicotine users go through until today.
Apparently, because you are inhaling nicotine, you actually get more from the e-cigarette than you do from smoking a cigarette, mainly because you don't know when you have had a cigarettes worth and you just keep inhaling.
The side-effect is you do get some very vivid, lucid and weird dreams thanks to the extra nicotine in your body, especially if, like me, you have a good blast before you go to bed.
Over the past few weeks i have woken up more than once from a realistic dream and spent the first few waking moments wondering if something had really happened or if i had dreamt it. Friends who have used patches or e-cigarettes reported the same thing happened to them also. 
It was kind of fun but then the other night i had a nightmare about something slithering out of the bedroom wardrobe and it shook me so much that i could actually feel myself tensing for days afterwards whenever i had to open that wardrobe door.
Then last night another nightmare where something was trying to smother me in my sleep and my husband had to wake me up as i was shouting for him in my sleep. I woke up panting and fighting for my breath. So realistic that it was scary and i had to go into the kitchen for a sit down and a hot milk for a while afterwards.
I have never suffered from nightmares, especially not ones that stay with me for days afterwards and i am going to have to drop down the strength of nicotine i use but what a weird, wonderful and terrifying experience. Much more effective than cheese before you go to bed but an insomniac at the best of times, being apprehensive about going to sleep probably isn't a good thing. 

Don't Go Hugo


Some would describe him as a man of destiny and hero of the poor who swept away decades of corruption that brought the world's third largest oil-producing country to its knees while others just call him the fat dictator in a stupid beret but any man who is loved by the poor and hated by the rich must be doing something right.
For 14 years Hugo Chavez has ruled over Venezuela and dragged his country up by it's heels but the talk is that this election campaign may be his last, either through ill health or being replaced by Presidential hopeful Henrique Capriles this weekend.
While Chavez's campaign promises more of the same that has done so much to improve the lot of the poorest Venezuelans, Capriles is promising a review of oil deals that has bankrolled Chavez's social programmes.
The smart money is on Chavez being the one celebrating Sunday evening, there are many more poor who will vote for the beret wearer than rich who would vote for Capriles and a return to the pre-Chavez days. 
Besides being a brilliant leader, Chavez is loved by the left not just because of his socialist policies but because he takes pot shots at the same targets we do.
At the UN in 2006, after following George W Bush onto the rostrum, he described George W Bush as the Devil and and donkey said that the he could still smell the sulphur. After Condoleeza Rice described Venezuela as a menace to democracy he went on TV to blow her a kiss and called her Condolence.
Tony Blair also came in for verbal abuse when he berated the British Prime Minister for invading Iraq, calling him 'shameless, immoral and an imperialist pawn who attempts to curry favour with Danger Bush-Hitler, the number one mass murderer and assassin there is on the planet.Go straight to hell, Mr Blair'.
I will be shocked if us Chavistas who will be sobbing into our lattes come Sunday evening.