Saturday, 31 January 2015

Go Pats!!

Having once watched 'The Longest Yard', i am therefore Britain's foremost authority on American football so it falls to me to explain this weekends game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.
In my lofty position as the number one expert here, i predict a win for the Patriots and for them to bring home the large bowl the winner receives to have them dancing in the streets of the newest of the England's.
In a four hour show, three hours and fifteen minutes of the game are adverts but in those forty five minutes when the game is actually being played, we can expect more hits then Charlie Sheen and a flashed female nipple at the half time show with close ups of overweight men in too-tight football tops with a handful of pizza and mouthful of hot dog waving enthusiastically when their face shows up on the big screen.
We can look forward to something called an offensive linesman which i hope is like the guy with the flag in the Premier League calling Harry Redknapp an ugly, fat git and ordering him back to the technical area and then there are the players called tight ends which should be easy to spot as they will be the ones running the fastest.
Both sides have players with no first names, just initials, and i was unable to find any connection whatsoever for either team to connect to us over here (Seahawks have a player called Britt, that's it) who will be fast asleep when the whistle blows to start the game at midnight GMT.
I'm sure there will be some hardy souls who will forgo sleep and work tomorrow to watch Idina Menzel warble about red rockets and bombs bursting in air in a nod towards the Obama foreign policy. Hopefully she will manage to squeeze in a bit of 'Let It Go' from Frozen between the lines about dawns early light and the gleaming ramparts.
So it's the Patriots to win and a handful of Brits phoning work on Monday morning with a case of 24 hour flu.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Churchill Wasn't Great

Today is the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill's funeral and the politicians of today are queueing up to heap praise upon him but is the British former Prime Minister really worthy of the high praise he is currently receiving? 
Previously voted 'Greatest Britain', Churchill has a great reputation, mainly because as he said 'History will be kind to me as i intend to write it' but he obviously did not foresee a time when his own words would come back to show that far from being a 'Great Brit', he was actually an abhorrent human being.
His drunkenness is legendary, his quip to a female critic who questioned his insobriety with the reply that 'Madam, in the morning i will be sober but you will still be ugly' shows his prickly side while comments such as describing the many wars fought in the name of empire as: 'a lot of jolly little wars against barbarous peoples' that he was little better than the people he urged to never surrender to.  
When concentration camps were built in South Africa, for white Boers, he said they produced "the minimum of suffering". The death toll was almost 28,000, and when at least 115,000 black Africans were likewise swept into British camps, where 14,000 died, he wrote only of his 'irritation that Kaffirs should be allowed to fire on white men' and demanded a programme of further invasions based on his belief that 'the Aryan stock is bound to triumph'.
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was warned by Cabinet colleagues not to appoint him because his views were so outdated and 'Winston thinks only of the colour of their skin' which was clear in his attitude to India.
When Mahatma Gandhi launched his campaign of peaceful resistance, Churchill raged that: 'he ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant. Gandhi-ism and everything it stands for will have to be grappled with and crushed'.
To make sure no doubt remained, he added: 'I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion'.
This hatred was confirmed during the 1943 famine in Bengal where 3 million people starved to death while British officials begged Churchill to direct food supplies to the region. He bluntly refused, raging that it was 'their own fault for breeding like rabbits' and by their actions they were: 'merrily culling the population'.
'On the subject of India' said the British Secretary of State to India at the time: 'Winston is not quite sane. I didn’t see much difference between his outlook and Hitler’s'.
Churchill believed that Kenya's most fertile lands should be the preserve of the white settlers, and approved the clearing out of the local "blackamoors". He saw the local Kikuyu as "brutish children". When they rebelled under Churchill's post-war premiership, some 150,000 of them were forced at gunpoint into detention camps where torture was administered through electric shocks, whippings, shootings and mutilations.
In reply to the torture regime where 14,000 died, he wrote only of his 'irritation that Kaffirs should be allowed to fire on white men'.
The view that the white man was superior was bought to the fore again when he denied any wrongdoing in handing over the Palestinian land to Israel, 'I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place'.
He was also a very keen advocate of using chemical weapons, urging a chemical strike on German cities using poison gas and anthrax in a memo to bomber command that: 'I may certainly have to ask you to support me in using poison gas. We could drench the cities of the Ruhr and many other cities in Germany, and if we do it, let us do it one hundred per cent' he wrote and when it was rejected as it would 'seriously impair our relations with the civilian population when it became generally known that chemical warfare was first employed by us', he responded: 'I am not at all convinced by this negative report. The matter should be kept under review'.
This wasn't the first time he argued for using poisonous gas, during the 1919 Iraqi uprising he argued that: 'I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes'.
Previously to ordering the saturation bombing of Dresden in 1945, where more than 500,000 German civilians and refugees, mostly women and children, were slaughtered in one day by the dropping of over 700,000 phosphorus bombs on the city, Churchill said of his military advisers: 'I do not want suggestions as to how we can disable the economy and the machinery of war, what I want are suggestions as to how we can roast the German refugees on their escape from Breslau'.
The evidence suggests that far from being a great, Churchill was a murderous racist who saw killing those who opposed the marauding British Empire as worthy of death or incarceration and held civilians with as little regard as the Nazis. A death camp run by the Nazi's in Poland killing Jews or one in Kenya run by the Brits is still a death camp.
It appears that far from fighting the Nazi's out of any ideal against fascism, he was a fan of Mussolini after all, he was merely trying to defend the British Empire from a rival who was copying his methods but you won't hear any of this mentioned over the next few days while the plaudits reign down.
All in all, it makes a charade of the MP's repeating the line parrot fashion that he was a great leader, he wasn't, he was a brutal man who has airbrushed his own history and whose whitewashed story has been swallowed by gullible Brits ever since.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Not Voting Question

A question i have been asked frequently and more so as the election looms is the one that Russell Brand received a bit of a bashing for, 'Is it okay not to vote?'
The first taste many 18 year old's got of voting at the last election was boosting the Liberal Democrat vote after they made a solemn promise not to increase the student fees and then finding the party did exactly that when they joined the coalition and supported the Conservatives tripling their tuition fees. Obviously that was duly noted and also by the generation of students that followed who now find themselves tens of thousands of pounds in debt at the end of their courses and the Lib Dem's can fully expect to be horribly decimated this time around.
That sort of experience is obviously going to sour a voters view, they rightly feel cheated and lied to and so look elsewhere to place their X on the ballot paper.
What if after taking a look around at the other parties and decide that you don't like what any of them are offering? Should you hold your nose and vote for the 'least worst' option, the one that you disagree with the least, or withhold your vote from all of them as a recognition that you would not be happy to endorse any of those on offer.
There is no option on the ballot to state 'none of the above' but you can spoil your ballot paper by writing it on there or crossing all the parties out but the party with the most votes is still going to get into power. 
My personal view is if you have looked into what all the parties offer and you do not find one that chimes with your beliefs then it is a perfectly legitimate strategy to not vote but it would be better to actively spoil your paper and write in 'None of the Above' as spoilt papers are counted and if significant numbers of people vote for nobody and state they feel unrepresented it will become a news story as it cannot be dismissed as voter apathy or people just not bothering to vote and hopefully would send a signal to the political parties that they are out of touch with a large number of voters.
The swing side of that of course is that you are not voting against the current ruling party so you are not registering your choice to remove them from power, therefore endorsing them in a backhanded way to carry on running the country so give it some thought before May and you find yourself (or not) in the polling booth as it's a tough choice.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Histories Biggest Killer

If the quiz question 'Who has killed the most people in history' came up you could be excused for running through the usual suspects such as Hitler or Stalin but there is one man who is responsible for multiple more deaths than all of them put together and whose influence continues to kill millions today and will for the foreseeable future.
That man would be Thomas Midgley Jnr, who was not content with shortening the life of us all once, doubled his efforts by thinking up a second way to do it.  
Thomas Midgley Jnr was the man at General Motors who decided that what petrol needed was a large dose of atmosphere polluting lead (tetraethyllead or TEL) in it and then came up with the whizz that refrigerators would work better if they contained ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
Not the brightest spark, he suffered lead poisoning on several occasions and after numerous deaths at the factory that produced TEL, he poured the TEL over his hands and inhaled the substance for 60 seconds at a press conference to demonstrate the apparent safety of TEL before suffering yet another bout of lead poisoning and having to travel to Europe for treatment.
He was then on the team that developed CFC's for air conditioning and refrigeration systems before dying aged 55 by accidentally strangling himself in the ropes of a pulley that he had invented to lift himself out of bed.
After 70 years of every car in the world using lead petrol which threw thousands of millions tonnes of lead into the atmosphere and then depleting the ozone layer with CFC's, the argument could be made that Thomas Midgely, through environmental changing actions, has been responsible for more human deaths than any other single person in history.

Monday, 26 January 2015

All Or Nothing

Although you may not believe it, i really don't like to keep knocking people of a religious persuasion because on the general, everyday level, it's fine and brings comfort to many but it keeps shooting itself in the foot and making itself look even more stupid and outdated and outright dangerous in the wrong hands.
The consecration of the Church of England's first woman bishop was met with a protester today at York Minister, the proceedings were held up by a man shouting that it was wrong because 'it's not in the Bible' and 'The lord Jesus Christ made a very deliberate choice of those who were to carry on his work'.
The word of the Bible, it seems, is the last line in what Christians can and can't do and the Bible is set in stone, not to be amended or changed and must be obeyed.
I am assuming that because this man and those who hold this view, and apparently that is a large number of Christians,  the rest of the Bible is the final word and not to be cherry picked or edited so when the Bible says: 'If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads'.
So if the Bible says its fine to kill gays, and it's in the Bible, who else does the Bible say we can kill with God's blessings?
The list includes - People Who Don't Listen to Priests' (Deuteronomy 17:12), Witches (Exodus 22:17), Fortunetellers (Leviticus 20:27), anyone who hits their parents (Exodus 21:15), anyone who curses their parents (Leviticus 20:9), adulterers (Leviticus 20:10), anyone who follows another religion (Exodus 22:19), non-believers (2 Chronicles 15:12-13), Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21), Blasphemers (Leviticus 24:10-16), and Sunday workers (Exodus 31:12-15).
I guess as women Bishops are a no-no as it doesn't say it in the Bible, what it DOES say should be obeyed and God said it is okay to machine gun the cashiers on the tills in the supermarket next Sunday.      
Absurd you say? Well they started it and they should decide whether the Church can cherry pick and quietly drop the less socially acceptable bits or take the Bible text as the final word and defend your view that should see you spend the rest of your life removed from society as a danger.

Think I Will Skip American Sniper

I always go out of my way to avoid war films, with the exception of Full Metal Jacket which was an anti-war war film, so there was never any danger of my backside warming a cinema seat to watch American Sniper so i have managed to avoid the hype surrounding it until Michael Moore piped up with his 'snipers are cowards' comment.
I don't have much time for those sniping from roof tops, firing missiles from a ship 20 miles off the coast, dropping bombs from 35,000 feet up or controlling a drone from halfway around the world and my sympathies lie with the innocent people caught up in the willy waving of the leaders of the countries at war.
So not that i would have gone and seen it anyway, but i did start to read about the soldier whose story the film is based on, Chris Kyle.
I got a few paragraphs in and learnt that he was obsessed with guns from an early age, was deeply religious and believed that he was in Iraq doing Gods work and turned the page.
I'm not interested but as it has set a new record for films that open in January, seems the gun nuts, those who saw  the Iraq War as 'just', those duped by the rhetoric of the War On Terror and anyone with a bible in the bedside cabinet are enjoying it but it's not for me thanks.

Happy Birthday Aussies

Today is Australia Day, marking the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships chock full of convicts landed at Port Jackson, New South Wales.
We Brits do have a lot of fun at the Aussie's expense but on their National Day it should be a time to reflect on just what this proud country has contributed to the World, it's great historical figures and it's place in the World.
As i say it should be a time, but what Australia is famous for is the tradition of having its town's and cities named by 5 year old schoolboys so here is the address some Australians have to put on their envelopes.

Banana QLD, Binnaway NSW, Boing Boing NT, Bong Bong NSW, Boyland QLD, Burrumbuttock NSW, Chinaman's Knob VIC, Chinkapook VIC, Cock Wash SA, Cockburn WA, Delicate Nobby NSW, Dismal Swamp TAS, Doo Town TAS, Gooloogong NSW, Grong Grong NSW, Humpty Doo NT, Humpybong QLD, Innaloo WA, Koolyanobbing WA, Mooball NSW, Mount Buggery VIC,
Pimpinbudgie QLD, Poowong VIC, Smiggin Holes NSW, Tittybong VIC, Wagga Wagga NSW, Watanobbi NSW, Wee Waa NSW, Wonglepong QLD, Woodie Woodie and Yorkeys Knob QLD.

With the obligatory mention of sheep, sticks you cant throw away and cork hats, Happy Birthday Australia.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Truth Is Out There

Although we should not condone hacking of Government Departments, it would be interesting if someone got into whatever department holds the UFO information.
The BBC has the story of John Greenewald who has spent the last two decades requesting declassified information from the US government regarding UFOs.
Although obscured with many redactions, he has amassed over 100,000 pages of documents from Project Blue Book, the files which show how the US Government investigated 12,618 UFO sightings until it was 'closed' in 1969. 
In 11,917 cases the following investigation by the Project Blue Book team were deemed caused by weather balloons, swamp gases, meteorological events, temperature inversions or hoaxes.
In 701 cases, the Unidentified Flying Object remained unidentified and could not be explained even after stringent analysis.
Of course it doesn't mean that it was little green men popping by to see what we are up to or a reconnaissance mission by creatures from Alpha Centuri sussing out whether we are ripe to be invaded but it also doesn't mean it wasn't.
Cue the X-Files theme tune.

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Same King Abdullah?

John Kerry called it 'a sad day' and added 'the world has lost a revered leader' while David Cameron said 'He will be remembered for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths' so obviously they are referring to a different King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia because the one i knew was an evil son of a camel.
Whoever this other King Abdullah was, he must have been a lovely guy because even the EU’s commissioner for economic and financial affairs, described him as 'a personality of peace and strong leadership' and the French head of the IMF, went as far as praising Abdullah as a feminist, saying 'he was a strong advocate of women'.
Whoever this cross between Ghandi and Mother Theresa was, it certainly wasn't the King Abdullah who flogs bloggers, denies women even the basic human rights, beheads prisoners and bans any religion that isn't Wahhabism. 
So the evil King is dead and they have a new one, Salman bin Abdulaziz, so when all the Western leaders rush to the funeral i'm sure they will nicely ask if this new king chappie will bring in freedom of religion, female equality, less of the beheadings and lashings and generally drag his country into the 21st Century. Oh and if you can stop funding terrorists, that would be very much appreciated thank you very much.
Unfortunately, the new King has signalled 'continuity' and 'adhering to the policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment'.
The West will just have to continue looking the other way as far as human rights in Saudi Arabia are concerned then, at least until the oil runs out and the military contracts dry up anyway.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Four Minutes To Midnight

Probably the best song about the Doomsday Clock was Iron Maidens 'Two Minutes To Midnight' and at 4pm today the hands that threaten doom to kill the unborn in the womb tick another minute closer to the dreaded 12 o'clock.  
The Doomsday Clock have been fixed at 5 minutes to midnight for the past three years but The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists who control the clock have decided the Doomsday Clock needs an adjustment in the wrong direction towards a potentially civilisation-ending catastrophe.
In 1953, the clock was set at 11:58 p.m., the closest it's ever been to midnight, after both the United States and the Soviet Union conducted their first tests of the hydrogen bomb. The clock's hands retreated to 11:43p.m., 17 minutes to midnight, in December 1991, after the world's nuclear superpowers signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
The decision has been made with climate change and nuclear warheads the two major threats with inadequate international action to cut greenhouse gas emissions during recent U.N. climate talks in Lima, Peru and a lack of progress in the United States and Russia to shrink nuclear arsenals.
Proof, if any was needed, that we ignore 1980's Heavy Metal at our peril.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Blaming Blair

Tony Blair says he is not to blame for delay in publication of the Chilcot report which has taken a long, hard look at the reasons Britain went to war against Iraq in 2003.
Tony Blair has rejected suggestions that he is to blame for the decision by the enquiry to wait until after the general election before publishing its findings but as the whole thing is about Tony Blair lying to take us to war, that denial should be taken with a whole salt mine, nevermind a pinchful.
The hold up seems to be due to people criticised in the report being advised they are about to be criticised publicly and having a right to respond before the publication or to 'get their excuses ready' as everyone else calls it.
Blair has never agreed that his actions in joining George W Bush in attacking Iraq was wrong, and today he again defended his actions by saying: 'I think many people in Iraq would agree, that Saddam Hussein wasn’t exactly a force for stability, peace and prosperity for his country, and was responsible for killing many, many hundreds of thousands of people'.
All very true but not the reason he gave for going to war in 2003, his reason then was that Saddam was armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction but that turned out to be wrong and he has been scratching around for a justification ever since.
While it may be true that Blair is not to blame for the delay in the Chilcot report publication, he is entirely to blame for the need for the Chilcot report in the first place with his eagerness to join in the butchering of Iraqis on an industrial scale to please the warmongering dimwit in the White House at the time.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Voters Profiles

It is wrong to try and profile people into which way they will vote at an election depending upon which newspaper they read or what music they listen to but its fun so we can misuse the YOUGOV profile to try and find out which way that Theatre going neighbour who shops at ALDI is going to vote in May.

According to the tens of thousands in the YouGov database, the average Conservative voter is a dog owning male over 60 who like DIY and motorsports and shops at Waitrose and banks at Lloyds. He drives a Mercedes and wears clothes made by Gant and Barbour and watches Sky News and Downton Abbey, reads the Daily Mail and in the CD player he has Cliff Richards and Phil Collins. 

The average age span of the typical Labour Party voter is 40-59 and they enjoy the theatre, athletics and football. They own a cat, wear Lee Cooper clothing and drive a Ford with Bob Geldof or John Lennon the music of choice and shop at the Cooperative and read the Guardian & Private Eye.

The Lib Dems can expect the crosses on their ballot papers to come from voters aged between 18 and 24 who enjoy athletics, own a cat and drive a Volkswagen. They shop at Sainbury's, listen to Radio 4 and listen to The Strokes and read the Guardian.

UKIP voters are aged 60+, enjoy DIY, boxing and darts, a dog owner who shops at ALDI shopper. They prefer clothes from Cotton Traders, drive a Jaguar and like Dads Army, Mrs Brown's Boys and Emmerdale. They can also be found reading the Daily Mail and listening to Cliff Richards.

Members of the public who vote for the Green Party will typically be aged 18-24, enjoy writing & visiting museums and galleries. There preferred sport is cycling and probably own a cat. They shop at the Cooperative and wear American Apparel and Urban Outfitters. They drive a Fiat, watch QI and Dr Who and listen to The Specials and read the Guardian.

Of course this is not by any means a true reflection of how someone will vote but it might be wise to avoid anyone who reads the Daily Mail and listens top Cliff Richards. Not because they are a UKIP voter but just because anyone who reads the Daily Mail and listens to Cliff Richards should be given a wide berth anyway.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Brits On Benefits Abroad

Thanks to the Tories and UKIP, we are all aware that foreign nationals are pouring into our country to either take all our jobs/leech off our luxurious benefits system (delete as applicable) and the scrounging Johnny Foreigner should go back home.
The figures from the National Statistics Office reveal that there are 60,000 non-British nationals claiming benefits here and the Prime Minister, David Cameron, is campaigning to reform EU freedom of movement as part of his attempt to rewrite the terms of Britain’s EU membership before putting the issue to a referendum in 2017, if he is still in power.
The only people who could possibly be against it are the Brits who are claiming benefits in other EU countries, all 34,000 of them in places such as Ireland where 11,222 Brits claim benefits against the 2,620 Irish claiming here and Finland where 160 Finns queue up for benefits here compared to 582 Brits outside the Finnish unemployment office and 3 times more Brits outside an Austrian one than Austrians outside a British one.    
There are also 1,470 Germans claiming benefits in the UK while back home in Germany, 6,022 Brits claim unemployment benefit, 3,042 in France with 2,800 French here.
In Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Italy the figures are evenly balanced but Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland have approximately 30,000 citizens here while these countries pay benefits to 260 Brits.
There are 2.7 million EU nationals in Britain and 1.3 million UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and benefits to 60,000 here while elsewhere coughs up benefits to 34,000 of our own seems to belie the right wing rantings in Britain who are demanding curbs on freedom of movement in the EU as the UK is getting a raw deal from the EU system.
The data seems to show that in many countries it could be a case of please go home you smelly Brits and stop leaching off of our benefits systems.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Has Blogging Peaked?

Although my archive may state i began this blog in January 2007, i actually began blogging in 2001 before dancing around a few formats and landing here eight  years ago and in the past 14 or so years i have seen many of my fellow bloggers come and go.
Some have been scared off by commenter's abuse (some deserved i hasten to add), others have just run out of steam and even more never had much steam to start with and fell off the blogging wagon pretty soon after starting up.   
What i have noticed is the dearth of bloggers now compared to its heyday which seemed to be around the 2004-2008 years when it seemed everyone had a blog.
The question must be then have we hit the peak of blogging and it might appear that way according to a Pew Internet Report which finds that blogging by the under 25's has fallen by half since 2006 and blogging overall has seen a modest decline.
Technorati currently states it is tracking over 112.8 million blogs, down from the 160 million high in 2007 although it doesn't say how many just have one post or were abandoned to slowly die of neglect years ago.
The development of social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter have had obvious consequences for Blogging especially among the under 25's who can now sum up their feelings in 140 character's or less instead of having to write a 500 word post with paragraphs and correctly constructed sentences lest they enrage the grammar Nazi's that love to point out that you should never end a sentence with a preposition.
What the report does show is that as the under 25's are abandoning the likes of Blogger and Wordpress, the popularity of blogging has increased amongst the older generations.
Considerign all that, blogging may not be dying after all then, merely changing to become the chosen platform for anyone born pre-1990 while the youngsters head towards other, less time consuming platforms.
Those of us still blogging in the time honoured tradition may be fewer then, but what we have to say has to be written at length and that can only be a good thing, pithy sarcastic comments have their place but sometimes a viewpoint needs to be explained in full and worked through.  
The only problem i have is making the effort to find decent bloggers to read because bloggers do seem to have a certain blogging life span, even amongst those of us who have been typing away undeterred since the first Harry Potter Film.
It should also be noted that being older doesn't necessarily mean we are not adverse to sometimes writing tripe and ending our sentences on a preposition and that isn't something we should ever end a post with.

USA Still Owes Nicaragua $17 Billion

Back in the 1980s the show Spitting Image depicted Ronald Reagan as the President with his brain missing because he was a President who acted as if his brain had been removed and replaced with a blancmange or something equally soft.
Among some of his successes was arming and funding the groups in Afghanistan who would kill 3000 in the World Trade Centre a couple of decades later, backing the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa and sneaking around to sell arms to Iran to fund the Contras in Nicaragua.
The Contras were a terrorist army attempting to overthrow the Nicaraguan government and their methods included kidnapping and torturing civilians, raping women, executing civilians—including children—seizing and burning civilian houses, and assassinating health care workers, a grand total of over 50,000 deaths in the Central American country.
In the aftermath, Reagan and the United States government were tried in the International Court of Justice for their part in the death and devastation with the Reagan Administration convicted of violating Nicaragua’s sovereignty and convicted of encouraging the widespread crimes against humanity by training them to commit the atrocities with a manual they supplied to the Contras which recommended provoking riots, shootings and mass murder so that it can be used as a propaganda tool.
Reagan claimed the Contra terrorists were 'the moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers', but the ICJ disagreed and fined The United States $17 billion for the crimes against humanity.
That was in 1986 as as yet the penalty hasn't been paid and as the 131st in the World Bank league of wealthiest countries, $17 billion would go a long way as the GDP is only $20 billion.
As America is over $17 trillion in the hole, i'm sure paying up their fines for human rights abuses wouldn't hurt the economy much, especially if the money was directed towards the families of the victims but it is unlikely it will dig into it's pockets because if it pays up, there will be a long line of other countries queueing up asking for damages under the regimes of American Presidents who had their brains, or in the case of one in particular, his pants missing.

Friday, 16 January 2015

How Long Ago?

One of the most famous record covers is the one from Nirvana's 'Nevermind', with the baby swimming after the dollar on a fishing hook.
The baby was Spencer Elden and in an interview with The Guardian he handed out one of the best quotes of music history: 'I'm so glad that it wasn’t for something like a Backstreet Boys album'. Classic.
Spencer explains how his parents were paid $200 to throw him in a swimming pool and let someone take photo's of him.
Spencer is now 24 and mentions that he would like to re-enact the famous photo for the 25 years celebrations at which point i felt incredibly old and stopped reading.
Hello, hello, hello, how low. Indeed.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Beagle 2 Discovered

In his life, Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting and that was to a member of his own family so he died not only an ear light but not knowing just what he had achieved.
Colin Pillinger must be feeling a bit like that today, or he would do if he hadn't have died in May 2014, because he went to his grave thinking that his lifetimes work, the Beagle 2, had crashed and burned on it's way down to the surface of Mars in 2003 after the 250-million-mile journey.
Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been circling Mars and taking images of its surface for the past nine years, has now detected the wreckage of Beagle 2 and it appears that the probe not only made the landing but ended up close to it's landing site, unfurled its solar panels as planned but was incapable of sending back its call sign.
At a Press conference today, Colin Pillinger's daughter said it was wonderful to find out what happened to the Beagle 2 probe and it was exciting news for the family but frustrating that her father's mission was so close to complete success.
Such a shame that he is not here to revel in his almost success and he reached the end of his days believing his probe was a mangled wreckage on another Planet when in reality it was just silently sitting there perfectly intact but voiceless.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Drizzle Or Rain?

Well I love a rainy night
I love a rainy night
I love to hear the thunder
Watch the lightning
When it lights up the sky

I'm with unfortunately named Eddie Rabbit on this one because i also love a rainy night and i'd go even further and say i don't mind a rainy morning, afternoon or evening either which is handy because the weatherman has been telling us that the UK is in for a battering over the next few days.
An often mentioned quote is that the Inuit have 50 words for snow but as we are so often on the soggy end of the weather, we don't seem to have many words for rain.
The weathermen speak of drizzle, showers and light, moderate and severe downfalls but that's doesn't go very far in explaining the rain we can expect, especially when wind has the Beaufort Scale with its descriptions of smoke rising vertically on a calm day through a Fresh Breeze when small trees sway and a Hurricane where debris and unsecured objects are hurled about.
The MET Office classifies drizzle as rain-drops smaller than 0.6mm and anything larger is rain which is further split into Light, Moderate, Heavy and Violent.
All fine but measuring the size of a raindrop to see if it is 0.6mm or less isn't easy so we need a better system and the unofficial answer is to look at the puddles.
If the drops hitting the puddle make ripples it's drizzle but if it hits the puddles and makes a splash, it's heavier than 0.6mm and therefore rain. Drizzle makes it ripple but rain splashes again if you like. 
The larger the splash, the heavier the raindrop and up the scale we go from small splashes (light rain) to very large splashes (violent rain).
Not very scientific i agree but a damned sight easier than standing outside with a ruler.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Blooming Similar

Unable to sleep i dragged myself to the living room and switched on the television in the hope that something not very exciting was on so i could nod off and right on cue a show about the impressionist art movement started.
They wheeled through the standard lists of impressionist artists, Monet, Renior, Cezanne and then up on the screen popped one i had never heard of, the Romanian Nicolae Grigorescu.
To my eye there were two prominent features to his section of the programme, the first that he liked to draw ladies in headscarves (i assumed he wasn't very good at painting hair) and the second that he was Orlando Bloom.
The story went that he died in 1907 aged 69 but i'm not convinced and the only plausible explanation i can come up with is that he is a vampire and he changed his name, moved to England and made films about Pirates with Johny Depp.
Maybe someone should suggest that his next film is set in a church and we can find out once and for all if he spontaneously combusts . Failing that, another Pirates of The Caribbean will be fine.

UK Election Result 115 Days To Go

Everyone is too scared to say who they think will win the British General Election in May, hiding behind the 'it's too close to call' amidst much frowning but anyone who has read this blog for any length of time will know that we have an almost foolproof way of knowing who will win, Google Trends.
The system has correctly chosen almost every single winner of the major elections over the last few years (Japan, Australia, USA, UK, France, Egypt, Serbia, Mexico, Netherlands, Venezuela)  and although this is a bit further out then normal, it is predicting a win for Ed Miliband and the Labour Party, UKIP the runner up and the Conservatives licking their wounds in 3rd place. The Lib Dem's don't even figure as not enough people have searched for them apparently.
The final results are usually based on the last 30 days and as we have over 100 days to go this is tenuous at best and it will tighten up the closer we get to 7th May so don't hock your jewellery or visit the bookies with your rent just yet but you might want to gently start mocking anyone with a 'Vote Conservative' Poster in their window.   

Disclaimer: Google Trend does have an impressive record at predicting election results but past performance is not an indication of future performance. Only gamble what you can afford to lose or failing that, do what the bankers do and only gamble with other people's money.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

It's There Somewhere

Classified documents obtained by a group of former workers at Thule, an Arctic air and radar base built by the United States in 1951-52, suggest that one of four hydrogen bombs on a B-52 bomber that crashed there in 1968 was never found, the daily Jyllands-Posten said 'Detective work by a group of former Thule workers indicates that an unexploded nuclear bomb probably still lies on the seabed off Thule' the newspaper said.
The crash, on January 21, 1968 led to a crisis in relations between the United States and NATO ally Denmark, which is responsible for Greenland’s foreign, security and defence policy and at the time prohibited nuclear weapons on its territory, including Greenland.
A U.S. state department document dated August 31, 1968 said all weapons on board the crashed aircraft had been accounted for but did not spell out whether they had been recovered. The United States assured the Danish government in spring 1968 that clean-up work after the B-52 crash had been completed and gave up searching for the lost bomb in August that year.
I'm sure it will turn up at some point.

Dave's Farewell Tour

If in the coming months the citizens of Washington DC see a moon faced idiot walking around then don't be alarmed its just out Prime Minister, David Cameron, popping over to speak to Obama.
Your semi-Retired Lame Duck President is meeting out soon to be retired Dead Duck Prime Minister to discuss such heavy matters as as Islamist extremists, Russia, economic growth and international trade and not just as an opportunity to avoid having to answer awkward questions on the NHS.
It is also a good chance to get his mug in the papers shaking hands with World leaders to show what an International statesman he is, we have already had the recent Cameron/Merkel handshake and now he is coming for Obama with his paw held out and that frowny, tight-lipped look he does when someone points a camera at him.  
As he is widely expected to be surgically extracted from 10 Downing Street in the May Election, this is Dave's farewell tour unless a photo of him with Obama is going to give us collective amnesia about what the Conservatives have done to our country over the past 5 years and vote for the posh Bullingdon boy. 
He best bet may be to swing past Texas and George W Bush's place and get a few tips on how the hell he got re-elected for a second term when he was also such a monumental arse.

Editors Decisions Over Charlie Hebdo Pictures

Following the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, i was concerned that the more looser cannons in the British press would publish the pictures that led directly to the deaths of 18 people including the magazines artists who drew them.
I am glad that so far the temptation to somehow prove that they have not be intimated or cowed by the religious fanatics has been resisted and a degree of responsibility has been shown because whatever we think of the right to publish whatever material we seem fit, it would be irresponsible to deliberately set out to publish material that has already led to so many deaths.
Some may not agree, i have heard calls for all media outlets to show the front page that caused the outrage but the Editors have to take into consideration the safety of their staff. If The Sun publishes and a lunatic turns up the following day and firebombs the Sun's offices and kills a dozen or so staff members or shoots up a shopping mall , would it have still been worth it?  
At the time of the outrage, the British media refused to show the offending caricatures taking account of the possible effects if they published, so to show them now would stink of bravado and not showing them out of some value to protect free speech but to further antagonise and offend.
To slightly amend that tired out cliche that has received an airing ever since Thursday, it is a case of disapproving of what Charlie Hebdo published but defending its right to do so which is fine but as with anything, that comes with acknowledging the responsibility of any consequences your decisions brings and thankfully British editors have decided that no amount of bravado is responsible for another massacre if it occurred.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Donald Trump The Prat

It is said to be better to keep your mouth shut & let the world think your a idiot rather than to open it and remove all doubts and while everyone already thought Donald Trump was an idiot it was nice of him to confirm it by blaming the shootings at French magazine Charlie Hebdo on France’s ban on guns.
In a series of posts, the strange little human outlined his own ideas as to why the attack in Paris might have taken place which included: 'If the people so violently shot down in Paris had guns, at least they would have had a fighting chance' and 'Isn’t it interesting that the tragedy in Paris took place in one of the toughest gun control countries in the world?'
Now my view is if Americans want to enjoy the second amendment right to blow each others brains out, that is their sovereign right but don't expect the rest of the world to follow your madness.
It was only a week ago that we read about a two year old who got hold of the gun the mother had in her bag while out shopping and accidentally shot her dead with it. Today a woman shot her husband when he surprised her with breakfast in bed and she thought he was a burglar and a couple have been arrested for criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon after videoing their one-year-old playing with a gun.
This is the madness that Donald Trump is advocating, people needing to be armed for a trip to Asda which is why the likes of Donald Trump who think the answer to gun deaths is to add more guns into the equation, are generally considered as moronic prats with all the sense of a brick.
Nice of him to open his mouth and remind us though, cheers Donny.

Why No Easter Songs?

Christmas is over and everyone is back to work and eyeing the calendar for the next holiday which is Easter and that's months away in April. Bah!
Christmas is the big one when it comes to holidays, we get blasted with songs about snowmen and Santa but Easter is just about stuffing chocolate and trying to avoid the religious films on the television.
For some reason, nobody has managed to come up with a good Easter song in the same way that Christmas has caught the imagination of songwriters.
I can't think of one tune that tells us that the Easter Bunny is coming to town or how we wish it could be Easter Sunday everyday.
Easter is all about religion in the way that Christmas isn't where Jesus and his gang are cheerfully ignored and the focus is on snowmen and reindeer with red noses leading sleighs, Easter has none of that, it is all about the religion. In the UK if a band began singing about religion they would quickly find themselves off the cool list so they avoid it altogether and a bunny bringing a chocolate egg is hardly in the same league as Santa leaving an X-box under the Christmas tree. 
Easter, it appears, is destined to be the poor relation in religious holidays regarding songs until somebody manages to find a way to make a catchy ditty about crucifixion and resurrection or the chick and rabbit is replaced by cooler symbols of the holiday which can rival a fat man from Lapland with a bunch of flying deer.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Charlie Hebdo

Unimaginable horror in Paris which has left at least 18 people dead after a 3 day chase of brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi across Northern France after a massacre at the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The killers were offended by pictures of Muhammad that Charlie Hebdo had previously published but Charlie Hebdo was far from an innocent victim, the magazines mission statement was 'to be as dumb and nasty as possible' which since its first publication in 1971, it certainly had.
Throughout the years, firstly named as Hara-Kiri, they’ve targeted just about everyone including the French President Charles De Gualle who they mocked on news of his death which forced them to be shut down by the French Authorities only for them to open up again under the name Charlie Hebdo, a reminder of the person at the centre of their controversy.   
The magazines history includes a court case where it successfully defended itself against a case of inciting racial violence in France, accusations of anti-semitism when columnist, Sine, defended his pro-Palestinian views with the words: 'I’m an antisemite, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I want every Jew to live in fear, unless he’s pro-Palestinian. Let them die'. Sine was later sacked.
Another controversial front cover included the Pope advising bishops how to get away with paedophilia, a bishop orgy, God and Jesus in homosexual sex positions and a naked Muhammad in pornographic poses.
Following the Muhammad front page, France was forced to close 20 foreign outposts amid concerns that French nationals might be assaulted and the magazine was given a permanent police guard.
Sadly, it wouldn’t be enough to stop the tragic events which happened next but Charlie Hebdo set out to be as dumb and nasty as possible and it certainly succeeded.
The Catholic League has released a statement condemning the killings but saying that the murdered cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier provoked the massacre and his own death with his inflammatory cartoons and noted that: 'Had Charbonnier not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive'.
It could be viewed as harsh and we can only hope that the Kouachi brothers died a slow and unimaginably painful death for their actions but Charlie Hebdo is not an innocent magazine punished by religious fanatics for printing some cartoons mocking Muhammad, it's whole reason for being was to be as nasty, dumb and offensive to as many people as possible and while everyone will rightly condemn the cold blooded murders, some people will say this is sadly how it was always going to end for them and they were anything but innocently caught up in the crossfire.
The innocent ones are the dead police officers and shoppers who got trapped between a dumb and nasty magazine and a couple of heavily armed, religious fanatics . 

June 30th: IT Armageddon Day

I'm not sure if the millennium bug was a huge scam by the IT industry to get companies spend wads of money on making sure their computers never blew up or was a massive miscalculation because despite warnings that aeroplanes would fall from the sky and everyone's laptop would drop dead at the stroke of midnight on December 31 1999, nothing happened.
With this in mind the same people are now warning of computer Armageddon on June 30th when the Worlds atomic clocks gain a leap second to stay in sync with Earth's rotational time which is slowing down by about two thousandths of a second every day. 
The problem is that during the leap second, the computer clock shows 60 seconds instead of simply rolling over to the next minute, or shows the 59th second twice. The computer sees a leap second as time going backward and the machine registers this as a system error, throws a wobbly and the CPU overloads and general carnage all around and we wake up in a post apocalyptic Mad Max World.
Still, i'm sure some IT consultants will do very nicely out of it by charging for a fee to 'fix' the problem and save us all when really, all we need to do it turn the computers off before midnight and back on again just after and the computer will fetch the correct time and nothing blows up because the clock is wrong.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Why Won't Vinyl Just Die?

The demise of vinyl records has long been coming but the black discs are refusing to bow out gracefully as in the first half of 2014, officially registered sales of vinyl have increased by 50% on last year.
The only reason i can think that vinyl records are making a comeback is for romantic reasons, the fools, because i have been there in my teenage years and vinyl records are not a patch on CDs.
Unless they new vinyls records are very much different to the ones i owned (and i can't see how they can be), they scratched easily, they crackled and hissed and not just in the songs quieter moments, the cardboard sleeves would rip and tear, they warp if exposed to any degree of heat outside of room temperature, they take up so much more storage room, they are not portable and a decent bit of equipment to play them on will cost you plenty a pretty penny, a penny that you could use to blu tac to the stylus when the record starts jumping.
There was a reason why the usurping of vinyl by CD's was so eagerly accepted but let the youngsters and incurable romantics find out themselves amidst the crackling, pops and hisses and track jumps. Fools.

Good Day For Palestine, Bad Day For Israel

Great News as the United Nations announce that Palestine will join the International Criminal Court on April 1, which will allow the Palestinians to sue Israel for the war crimes perpetrated against them in the 60 years of brutal military oppression.
The UN treaty website says that due to the court's procedures: 'the statute will enter into force for the State of Palestine on April 1, 2015'.
Along with the ICC application, the UN has approved other sets of documents, enabling Palestine to join 16 international agreements, conventions and treaties.
The reaction to the news from the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was predictably  negative as he promised: 'We will not let Israel Defence Forces soldiers and officers be dragged to the International Criminal Court in The Hague'.
The Israeli administration also applied pressure to the Palestinian Authority by freezing the transfer of over £100 million in monthly tax revenues and the US predictably joined in (40 vetos used on Israel’s behalf to reject Palestine’s self-determination since 1975) by announcing a review of America’s annual $440 million aid package to the Palestinians and reminded Abbas that if he applies any case against Israel to the International Criminal Court, US financial help to Palestine will cease immediately.
Their greatest concern is that if the ICC decide that Israel has committed war crimes, the ever present American veto would be redundant and Israel would face the full force of International justice.
What Bibi is most worried about is that despite his words that no Israeli soldiers will be dragged to the courts, it won't be the grunts putting in an appearance in the dock, rather it would be the the Israeli leaders such as Netanyahu who have ordered the murder of thousands of women and children and the stealing of Palestinian land how we can only hope that that day comes soon.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Christmas Take 2

January 7 is Christmas Day for Russian Christians, the Jerusalem Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, as well as for some Protestants who use the Julian calendar. According to the Julian calendar, created under the reign of Julius Caesar in 45 BC, the holidays come thirteen days after the Christmas festivities in the Catholic Church.
Christmas in the Orthodox Church is traditionally preceded by forty days of praying and fasting, during which the faithful should refrain from eating meat and deny themselves any form of entertainment.
By learning to temper the body, one attains spiritual perfection, believers hope.
Russia may have the snow but i think our idea of Christmas and eating our own body weight in mince pies and chocolate while watching Jeremy Clarkson get forced out of Argentina by an angry mob is better.

Letting The Conservatives Continue What They Started

On your marks, get set...and they are off, the election starting pistol has sounded and the 4 month race has began to elect the next Prime Minister. The Labour Party are the early leaders on 34%, followed by the Conservatives with 31% and then UKIP on 14%, Greens on 8% and bringing up the rear the Liberal Democrats on a paltry 7%.   
The Conservative Party have landed on the election slogan 'Let us finish what we started' but that just begs a closer look at exactly what they have done over the past four and a half years in power.

300,000 more children in poverty year on year, 350 youth centres and 2,000 youth workers sacked, 200,000 less civil servants, 48% working of 20 to 34 year old live with their parents as they can’t afford to rent or buy their own home, the largest fall in wages in the EU since the 2008 recession, a shortage of 5000 teachers, 1.4 million on zero hours contracts, six million families in fuel poverty, 400,000 more working people claiming housing benefit every year, tax rate for the highest earners, an average 20% increase in train ticket prices, the lowest health care spending of the G7 nations, more austerity to come and the shaving off of the NHS to profit seeking firms.   

Hmmm, if this is the state of the country with the Conservatives only halfway through, hate to think what will be left if they get another term.
Sorry Dave, but we would have to be completely bonkers to let you continue what you started.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Nobody Wants Ched Evans

It appears that another club is distancing themselves from footballer Ched Evans who is still searching for a club months after his release from prison where he served two and half years of a five year sentence for rape.
As i mentioned previously when i wrote about the nasty, odious piece of work, he has served his time and he does have the right to work again in his professional sphere which just happens to be football.
Doesn't mean i don't love it when he is linked with a team and the fans and sponsors throw up their arms in horror at having a convicted rapist in their side and he finds himself back on the hunt for someone who wants him.  
Of course it doesn't begin to make up for what he did to that poor girl back in 2011 but it gives me a lovely warm glow that he is quite rightly being treated as an outcast.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Avoid Dangerous LEGO

I am confident that one day someone will find that missing front page from the The Bible that says: 'All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental' but until they do we will just have to carry on being entertained by the people who consider it a real story.
People like Father Slawomir Kostrzewa who is warning parents that Lego is a 'tool of Satan' that could destroy their child's soul and 'lead them to the dark side'.
He is particularly concerned about the 'Zombie' series and cited research by New Zealand's University of Canterbury that Lego characters faces have become angrier over the years and he has an ally in the shape of Fox News who have joined in the LEGO pile-on by decrying it as anti-capitalist.
According to the Fair and Balanced Foz News, the LEGO movies antagonist is the head of a large business which forces a dangerous anti-capitalist message on America’s kids.
Damn those Commie movie makers, i'm going to boycott all movies from now on and spend more time in church so i am not scared about things coming back from the dead, as if that would ever happen.
Now Father Kostrzewa, tell me that Easter Story again, i'm a bit hazy on what happened the third day after the crucifixion?

2014 Warmest Year On record

Though the official numbers aren't in for December, it's likely that 2014 will go down as the planet's hottest year on record.
Data from according to the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Met Office and the World Meteorological Association agree that the combined land and ocean surface temperatures hit new highs last year to rewrite the global warming record books.
In Australia, for the second year in a row, Australians saw heat records topple as temperatures soared higher than 120F (49C) and into the record books.
The Global Ocean sea surface temperature was 1.13F (0.63 C) above average of 60.7 F (16.0 C), surpassing the previous record and in Siberia temperatures were 9F (5C) above average and ice on the Ob River began to break up weeks earlier than normal.
The drought in California were not aided by the regions highest temperatures since record-keeping began in 1895 and Northern Europe sweated in the warmest year spring for a century while despite the wettest winter for 250 years, England was the warmest it had been since 1659, and the warmest same period for the Netherlands since 1706.
Weather records are tumbling and we are only at the beginning of the climate changes coming our way.

Obama V Jong Un

For anyone who had too much mulled wine over the Christmas period and are only just coming around, Hollywood made a movie about the assassination of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.
The maker of the film, Sony, was then hacked and emails with snide comments about Angelina Jolie were released and the US blamed North Korea with no proof and have imposed sanctions while most security experts disagree and blame it on a Sony insider.
It seems that imposing sanctions is the new National Sport for Obama which some would say is better than his previous one which was sending drones and blowing up mostly innocent people.
As the North Korea link has been dismissed by most of the Security experts, it seems another case of we have no proof but we will act as though we have anyway, very reminiscent of the MH17 incident with Russia where the 'proof' never materialised.
Obama's predecessor did much the same with Saddam Hussein when he and his cohorts continually put Saddam and Bin Laden in the same breath to create a previously non-existent link between the two knowing that if they repeat the lie about NK hacking Sony enough American's will end up believing it, hence, they get backing for their actions from the useful idiots.
If they had proof surely they'd be showing it to the world to embarrass North Korea and avoid looking like bullies and aggressors but after a decade of American propaganda and outright lies, the American reputation has sunk so low that in a dust-up with North Korea, it's the American leader who have come off looking worse.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Looking Up In January

Tonight is the peak of the first meteor shower of 2015, the Quadrantid's, but as it is drizzling and an almost full moon fills the night sky, i won't be going to sit in a field this time but the January night sky is a wonder at the moment and worthy of grabbing the telescope or binoculars for a tour of our Solar System. 
In the Southwestern sky we can see the Planet Mars and turn your gaze downwards towards the horizon and slightly to the West and huddled together is Venus and Mercury and as the month progresses, Venus will edge towards Mars.
In the Eastern sky hangs Jupiter and turn your gaze towards the Southeast and you can see Saturn to complete the tour of the 5 planets visible this month. 
Orion is one of the most recognisable constellations in the Winter sky and a great launching point for other sites as just above Orion's head to the left is the constellation of Gemini while Orion is pointing its bow at the base of the V shaped Taurus.
Carry on from the bow past Taurus and that's the Pleiades or Seven Sisters sat there.
Orion's top left shoulder is the star Betelgeuse (don't say it 3 times just in case) which is 500 times larger than our Sun while his right foot is Rigel which is 62,000 times brighter than our own star. Follow a line from Rigel across to Orion's left foot and continue West and you can't help but notice Sirius, the dog star, the brightest star in the whole sky.
Even if the Quadrantid's Meteor Shower doesn't live up to the 40 per hour meteor rate promised, there are still some magnificent views and all you need is a pair of working eyes, a compass to find out which way you are facing and be able to find Orion and you can name what has been above our heads for the past 4.6 billion years.

Prince Andrew Named In Court Case

Prince Andrew used to revel in his newspaper nickname of 'Randy Andy' but i doubt he is feeling quite so chuffed with it today as a woman claims that she was repeatedly forced to have sexual relations with Prince Andrew when she was a minor. 
The accusation against the Duke of York comes in a document handed to a Florida court this week in connection with a suit brought by women who say they were exploited by Jeffrey Epstein, a multi-millionaire and close friend of Prince Andrew who spent 13 months in jail after admitting sex with a 14-year-old.  
The document alleges that the woman, 17 at the time, 'was forced to have sexual relations with this prince when she was a minor in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein'.
Buckingham Palace has issued a statement which states: 'For the avoidance of doubt, any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue'.
The woman’s lawyers allege in their motion that, in addition to facilitating her alleged encounters with Prince Andrew, from 1999 to 2002, Epstein trafficked her to 'many other powerful men, including numerous prominent American politicians,
powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders'.
Prince Andrew's friendship with Epstein is well-documented and when rumours began circulating in 2011 when the Prince was a frequent visitor to Epstein after his release from prison, denying any sexual contact with any of the young women connected to the multi-millionaire banker.
Could be some interesting times ahead for the Queens second eldest son.

Zelalem Becomes American

As Americans are finally picking up the pace of the game of Football, there has been some interest from people that side of the Atlantic regarding an Arsenal player who has gained American citizenship and is now eligible to don the garish stars and stars football kit.
Midfielder Gedion Zelalem was born in Germany to two Ethiopian parents and made appearances for Germany at junior level and emigrated to the United States with his father in 2006 where he played for Olney Rangers before Arsenal snapped him up in 2013.
As he has now gained his US citizenship, he can choose between Ethiopia, Germany and the United States when it comes to which country he will represent and it seems that he will be joining with Jurgen Klinnsman's team.
One American fan has asked me if he is better than Altidore of which i reply i bloody hope so but apart from a few minutes at the end of a dead leg against Galatasary, i haven't seen him. 
Of course it is his choice but i am not a fan of players choosing to represent a country they don't really belong to.
When there were rumours that Belgian midfielder, Adnan Januzaj, was considering playing for England as he had been here for five years, Jack Wilshire said that: 'Only English people should play football for England, if you live in England for five years it doesn't make you English'.     
I am in complete agreement with that, if your passport says you are Swedish you play for Sweden, if it says English then you play for England and if it says German you play for Germany, it should be as simple as that.
International football is becoming littered with players representing countries that they were not born in but it appears this is the way it is going although Lennox Lewis and Greg Rusedki found out, their new passport may say one thing but it doesn't necessarily mean that they will be as accepted as someone born and bred in that country.
Zelalem is considered a good prospect playing out on the wing and there are hopes that he can be made into a striker but along with passports, football is also littered with former prospects who for one reason or another fall short and Arsenal have taken on and sold more than their fair share of them over the years so how good Zelalem is we will have to wait and see but if he turns out to be another Altidore, then Tottenham can have him.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Don't Visit USA If Pregnant

A British couple have been handed a £130,000 medical bill after their son was born 11 weeks earlier than expected.
Katie Amos, 30, and her fiancée Lee Johnston, 29, were not prepared for their son Dax to be born at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan during a Christmas trip to the city. The couple had planned the trip as a last holiday before their baby arrived.
All things considered, the NHS doesn't seem so bad now does it.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Go Cubs: Back To The Future 2

The BBC shows the three Back to The Future Films over the Christmas and apart from being exceptionally great films, in Part 2 Marty McFly is sent 30 years into the future from 1985 and arrived in a time when where there were hover boards zipping around, everyone wore self-lacing shoes and flying cars were the norm.
As the year he and the DeLorean turned up in was 2015, it was interesting to see just what they got right about the year we have just turned into.
Flying cars and hover boards were obviously wrong as was self lacing shoes and clothes that blow dry themselves when they get wet. We never quite made it to Jaws 19 either and Queen Diana wasn't going to be visiting Washington DC in 2015.
What they got right was video glasses which is suspiciously similar to Google Glass, voice controlled TVs with multiple screens, video games where you don't need to use your hands, video phone calls, biometric security, clothes that play sounds and scenery TV channels.  
Of course as the Doc explains the year 2015 in our reality isn't the same as the 2015 in the Back to the Future as: 'The future hasn't been written yet and every decision that is ever made effects the path of the future. One single turn or deviation would of created an alternate reality'.
So that's why there is no hover boards, flying cars, powered lace shoes or self drying clothes but the film predicts that the Chicago Cubs wins the World Series and after a bit of hunting (and finding out which sport the World Series is) the Cubs are currently 14/1 fifth favourites to take the 2015 title.
I predict there will be a few people brave enough to put their faith in Back To The Future II and back the Cubbies and if they win enough they can research self lacing shoes.
That is is nobody has deviated and created an alternative reality, i hate it when that happens.

800 Years Of Magna Carta

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede on the banks of the Thames between Windsor and Staines.
All manner of celebrations are being staged to mark the event and Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals are expected to be swamped with visitors eager to see one of the two original copies in existence although the British Library does have two copies.
While most people can have a vague stab at what the Magna Carta is and who the King was who signed it, the relevance of it is very much overstated because for the vast majority of the country it wasn't much use at all.   
The story goes that King John of England was forced to sign The Magna Carta so he and whoever followed him onto the throne could no longer ride roughshod over their subjects.
In reality, The Magna Carta provided plenty of personal rights and freedoms if you were wealthy because it was the landowners and Barons who wrote the Magna Carta and forced King John to sign it because they were outraged that he kept putting up their tax and rents.
Not so much motivated by a sense of great injustice at King John’s acts of cruelty and murder against his subjects, more because he was trying to squeeze more money out of them.
The Magna Carta wasn't even an original piece, it was a dusted off copy of the Charter of Liberties that Henry I signed in 1100 promising to respect certain rights of the Church and the Barons.
Far from being the basis of all English law, of the original 61 clauses, only 3 remain which are the freedom of the Church of England, the continued ancient liberties of the City of London and that no freeman shall be denied Justice or Right.
There's nothing in the charter corresponding to the rights of the citizens and Oliver Cromwell dismissed it, noting that it merely: 'tied one sort of people to be slaves to another; Clergy and Gentry have got their freedom, but the common people still are, and have been left servants to work for them.'
We can expect to hear it mentioned time after time this year that the signing of the Magna Carta was when the common man gained his rights but actually, the only beneficiaries were the English nobility and the Church of England, the rest of the country continued to toil in the fields under the control of the Barons who treated the common folk with much more disdain and cruelty than King John ever treated the nobility.
Remember that when the plethora of programmes and documentaries that will appear on the television this year holding up the Magna Carta as some incredibly important event in the rights of the common man because the only beneficiaries of it were the richest people who were able to continue oppressing the common man while being freed of paying their share of taxes and from where i am sitting, 800 years on, that hasn't really changed.