Sunday, 31 May 2015

A Tough Life

Sad news about Joe Biden's son, Beau, who died of brain cancer this weekend. Regardless of political leanings or what you think of his father, it is a human tragedy to die so young from such an awful ailment.
I didn't know about him but on reading about him he had the sort of life usually reserved for books of fiction.
He survived a car crash aged two which killed his mother and sister and then five years ago suffered a stroke and then received the devastating news that he had brain cancer in 2013.
After treatment he received a clean bill of health but the cancer returned this year and he died this weekend aged only 46.
So much tragedy in one short life that should make people get a bit of perspective next time they moan about how hard they have it.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Arsenal Win Again

As if being an Aston Villa fan this evening isn't miserable enough, there is one Villans fan who will have been ruing the FA Cup Final defeat to Arsenal more than most as he had a tattoo celebrating his teams win.   
Of course AVFC FA CUP WINNERS 2014-15 can easily be rectified by removing the offending 'V' to make it AFC FA CUP WINNERS 2014-15 as Arsenal celebrate the second FA Cup win in succession.
While there was lots of television shots of Villa fan Prince William looking miserable as he team were well beaten, other celebrities must have also been feeling glum or even more glummer in the case of David Cameron who is a Villa fan when he remembers which team he supports.
Tom Hanks also came out as a Villa fan a while back and tweeted prior to the game: 'I've been an Aston Villa fan since 1984 - true to be claret and blue for 21 years. Good luck in the FA Cup!'.
Jay Z and Ozzy Osbourne are also fans of Tim Sherwood's team but Aston Villa were so bad today that it seems almost heartless to make fun of them so instead i offer the consolation that every Villa fan must cling to, at least you aren't Tottenham.
Southampton fans must be happy though because Arsenal winning means that they receive the extra Little European Cup place that has now been freed up as Arsenal are in the Big European Cup.
You're welcome Saints, now sell us Morgan Schneiderlin and we will call it evens.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Nice Try America

The shock with the latest news coming out regarding corruption is FIFA is that anyone thought Fifa wasn't corrupt, it has been as dodgy as an email from a Nigerian Prince for as long as i can remember.
What i don't understand is why it is the Americans leading the charge although it is good that someone is finally doing something about the people who runs the Football World. 
I must admit to cringing when i watched the US attorney general, Loretta Lynch, announce the arrest of senior members of Fifa and called it soccer all the way through and the 'we are showing them the red card' bit was more cheesy than a shop full of Cheddar as it just cemented the idea that football is not an American thing and made it all the more strange that they are meddling in things that doesn't concern them.
That aside, if it takes down Blatter and his corrupt cohorts then i don't care who does it although it seems to be concentrating on the 2010 World Cup which the USA lost out to South Africa in much the same way the British team seem to be wanting to look at the 2018 World Cup which we lost out to to Russia. 
That a country that who think a football is an oblong ball carried or thrown through the air can take on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association and based on evidence provided by someone called Chuck Blazer who wears an extravagant Santa Claus style beard is intriguing, as is the ranting of Greg Dyke against Blatter although he never did hand back that £16,000 watch he received from the Brazilian Football Confederation as a 'gift'.
We are therefore grateful to America for having the cojones to go after FIFA when everyone else just mumbled into their belly buttons about the corruption and it shows it in a good light for once and not the world’s bungling warmonger hacking the mobile phones of other World Leaders phones and torturing people although Blatter has since been voted back into office so nothing seems to have actually changed.
Deep down we all know that FIFA mistake was not handing the 2010 World Cup to the USA because if they had the USA 'won' the 2010 World Cup, and the UK the 2018 one, the investigation wouldn't have got off the ground.
Nice try though USA but one note for future press conferences, you are the only ones who call it soccer and it just makes you look like someone clutching a Chuckle Brothers DVD at a Comedy Convention.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Womens World Cup 2015

The football season ends this Saturday with the Arsenal taking on Aston Villa for the right to call themselves FA Cup Winners but the following week the seventh FIFA Women's World Cup begins in Canada.
Japan are the defending champions but the favourites are the USA if they can get out the group of death which includes fifth seeds Sweden, tenth seeds Australia and Nigeria who are ranked 33rd.
The South Koreans will be there but their neighbours to the North won't be as they had several players test positive for performance-enhancing drugs during the 2011 Women's World Cup, FIFA banned them from participating in this one.
Germany are the number one ranked team then the USA, France, Japan, and England England sixth, Brazil seventh and hosts Canada eighth.
England should qualify from their group as they have a good French team to navigate and then should beat the Mexicans and Colombians.
As the games are being held in Canada who are a few hours behind Europe, the kick off times have been adjusted and the BBC are showing the entire World Cup on BB2, BBC3 and the red button with England's opening game 9th June at 6pm.  
In the best British tradition, the players to look out for with funny names are Thailand's Rattikan Thongsombut, Cameroon's Rita Wanki and Ecuador's Angie Ponce.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Irish Vote For Gay Marriage

In a Worlds first, the Irish Government let the people decide if they would allow gay marriage and it overwhelmingly voted yes, remarkable for a country where some 35 years ago contraception, divorce and homosexuality were all illegal.
The two camps firmly opposed, and thankfully in the minority, were the Church and the outright homophobic, both of which i find baffling.
The Church obviously don't like homosexuality because it says God doesn't like it in their little book, the same little book that goes on to demand: 'They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads'.
Little tolerance there you may think but the Bible also calls for the death of people who ignore Priests, witches, fortunetellers, anyone who hits or curses at their parents, adulterers, other religious followers, non-believers, women who are not virgins on their wedding night, Blasphemers and Sunday workers so it isn't a hotbed of clemency and kindness anyway.
The second group are the homophobes who for some reason make their decision based on what happens in the privacy of someones bedroom as if that makes a difference. 
Deciding that someone is less worthy of their rights because they share their lives with someone of the same gender is forged from the same idea that that the colour of your skin or your gender makes you somehow less deserving.
Thankfully, racism and sexism has been left behind by the vast majority of the population who see a person and base their decisions on that other persons thoughts, morals and personality and not who they have sex with.
I hope that you find a way out of the 16th Century if you are in the first group and things have moved on from 1953 if you are in the second however much you may not like it.

Not Dealing With Islamic State

Might be worth remembering that a few years ago the West wanted to arm and train the rebels in Syria, the same rebels who banded together, called themselves Islamic State and then crossed the border into Iraq much to the disgust of America.
Now that they are taking over large swathes of Iraq and Syria, merrily murdering entire towns as they go, the Americans plan that it would leave the Iraqi troops take on IS, supported by American 'military advisers' and air support is unravelling alarmingly as the march of IS continues in Iraq and Syria and a plan B is needed.
The problem with America and Britain's plan B is that it is the same as the original plan in 2003 when they invaded Iraq and that resulted in a million Iraqi deaths.
Some may say that America and Britain should not be involved as if it is not related to the actions of Bush and Blair when they removed Saddam, as if the chain of events from Saddam's removal, via Al-Queada and then IS never happened.     
The only two solutions i can see are either a massive invasion by US, UK or NATO troops but after a decade of doing little more than disrupting the Taliban in Afghanistan, and IS are a much more powerful force than the Taliban, this is causing a few wobbles in the seats of power.
The other solution is the Vietnam style exit where we, cut and run away and leave the Iraqis to their fate.
Seems either way the death toll is going be horrific and whatever way you cut it, it's our bed but it isn't us who is laying in although to hear the rhetoric coming out of Washington and London, it's all the fault of the Iraqi's.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Congratulations Sweden

They will be giddy in Gothenburg, slapping backs in Stockholm and probably mullered in Malmo because Sweden have been crowned Eurovision Champions 2015.      
In a show of a continental two fingered salute to our politicians, Russia came in second and in what can only be called a bizarre mass deafness related incident, Italy finished third.
The invite to Australia to become part of Europe for the evening finished with them coming in fifth and countless mentions of 'Good morning Australia' as it was 8am down there when the voting section of the evening began and at that time they would only be on their second breakfast tinny.
As for the United Kingdom and our 1920's style song, oh dear, it limped in 24th out of the 27 entries with a disappointing five points, three points ahead of France but five points more than Germany and Austria who ended the night with nul points, which is tremendously embarrassing for the hosts.
As usual we have to blame the block voting of neighbours voting for neighbours and as we are an island, our neighbours have neighbours they are actually sharing a border with so we are always onto a loser but this year we had a half-way decent song which was heavily promoted with a good reception around Europe for the past two months so we can't really blame the song but in that fine British way, we have to find someone to blame and i blame Tony Blair.  
Since the dodgy ex-Prime Minister join forces with that lot over the Atlantic, our European cousins have shunned us so we can add spoiling our chances of ever winning Eurovision on Blair as well as him ruining the Labour Party and getting us involved with iffy Americans and their dodgy oversea wars. 
Anyway, congratulations Sweden and it's off to Stockholm next year where we will turn up and be on the receiving end of another sound thrashing by the likes of Latvia and Montenegro but still finish above the French and Germans. Losers.

Greece Broke

Greece have said that they will not be able to make next €300 million repayment to the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), as 'the country has no money to pay', the Interior Minister announced today.
'The four instalments for the IMF in June are €1.6 billion, this money will not be given and is not there to be given' he explained.
Rather cheekily Greece have their hand out for another €7.2 billion bailout but talks between Athens and its international lenders have stalled over the refusal of the Greek authorities to carry out labour and pension reforms.
My question is, if Greece does fail to make the payment, what is anybody going to do about it? 
The lenders can't fine them or ratchet up the interest, they got no money to pay so financial punishments would be fruitless and sanctions would only reduce the little amount they have anyway so someone, somewhere, is going to have to either stump up the money for them knowing they have little chance of seeing that  €300 million ever again, write off the debt which they will never do or renegotiate the repayments over a longer period of time.
However it turns out, Greece seem to have had their cake, eaten it and gone back for another slice.       

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Eurovision Line Up Complete

The dust has settled on the Eurovision Semi-Finals and we have the line up that is going to compete for the title of best song in the European Broadcasting area.
Call me bias but having heard all the songs battling it out for the crown, i believe that the United Kingdom has a good chance this year with our swing style 'I'm Still In Love With You' ditty.
The first reason is that the contest is stuffed full of ballads and ballads hardly ever win, its the quirky  ones that get the attention and our song is definitely something unusual and one of the only few up-tempo toe tappers.
Secondly, it hails back to a time when the United Kingdom was liked and half our problem in recent years is our unpopularity around Europe (the other half of the problem was naff songs) so a glance back to the age of flappers and the Kit Kat Club is a wise move.
The bookies favourite is Sweden and it is a decent song as is the Israeli entry and Greece has a decent power ballad that is reminiscent of something an X-Factor winner will put out and the Cyprus entry should do well as a dark horse but my money will be on United Kingdom finishing somewhere in the top five.
With Ireland unceremoniously booted out in tonight's Semi-Final we have lost that local rivalry but we do have the Australians taking part this year so it will be considered a victory if we can finish above them if only so we can add Eurovision to the victories we have over them in other areas.

Feeling For The Iraqi People

You really do feel for the people of Iraq who have had a succession of brutal oppressors running their country.
Saddam Hussein killed as many as half a million Iraqis during his reign of secret police, torture, mass murder, rape, deportations, forced disappearances, assassinations and chemical warfare until he was forcibly removed by the West.
In turn the 'coalition of the willing' killed up to a million Iraqi's as it shock and awed its way into the country and after it kicked down the walls, let in Al Queada who bought the car bombs and suicide vests to the marketplaces.
Now Islamic State has joined the party and is murdering its way across swathes of the country and having taken Ramadi with a mass killing of Iraqi security forces and civilians and steeling itself for a run on Baghdad.
George W Bush and Tony Blair may well have washed their hands of Iraq a long time ago but they are directly responsible for everything that has happened to the citizens of Iraq since they removed Saddam Hussein but they are keeping their heads down but you hope that they see what has happened in the country that they 'freed' in 2003 and it lays heavily on their conscience.
Somehow, you doubt it though.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Our Pale Blue Dot

Until i saw the COSMOS series with the very watchable Neil deGrass Tyson, i had never heard of Carl Sagan who wrote and starred in the original COSMOS series back in 1980.
I have though, previously seen the famous Pale Blue Dot image of the Earth taken by the Voyager 1 space probe from 3.7 billion miles away where our planet appears as a tiny dot in the vastness of space.   
Amazing picture and perfectly complimented by one of the most thought provoking passages written where Sagan contemplates that on that dot in the picture: 'everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.'
'Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark' he muses before explaining that this is the only home we have ever known and we have nowhere else to go and how we should: 'deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot'.
Powerful stuff but still we go on polluting the planet, stuffing poisons into the atmosphere, shoving toxic waste into the ground and generally vandalising the only place that we have to live on.
What the image also drives home as we look at that tiny pinprick of light in the vast blackness of space is how we are just a tiny, infinitesimal part of the universe.
It shows how we are not at the centre of things as we maintained for centuries, that we are not even at the centre of our own solar system which is just one of tens of billions of solar systems in our galaxy alone, a galaxy which is in turn amongst hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe.   
Whilst we could quite easily make excuses for our less knowledgeable predecessors that the Sun and the Planets went around us and that the Earth and everything around, above and below it was created for our delectation, to maintain that idea today that a God created something 13.8 billion light years across just for the inhabitants of an insignificant,  rocky planet situated out in the sticks on the arm of a far flung Galaxy is the height of arrogance or ignorance.  
The image should make us feel very humble and shows our place in the great scheme of things which is an inconsequential dot in the immense vastness of space and alarmingly, the only place we have to live so we should be taking better care of it because once we have wrecked this planet, we don't have anywhere else to go.

Wanna Job?

It's boomtime for one section of the Civil Service in Saudi Arabia as a recruitment drive is underway to increase the number of executioners as the amount of beheadings has risen to 85 this year and plenty more are expected under new King Salman’s rule.
The job description published online on Monday says no special training is required from applicants and the executioners will be required to behead criminals in public as well as carry out amputations on those convicted of lesser offence's.
The executioners would be considered as ‘religious functionaries’, since they would be serving religious courts and be on the lower end of the civil service pay scale, the ad said.
The recruitment drive comes a day after Saudi Arabia executed the 85th person this year. The number reached in less than five months is compared to an estimated 90 executions over the whole 2014, according to Amnesty International.
There has been a surge of executions since King Salman ascended the Saudi throne in January as he has appointed additional judges to deal with a backlog of appeal cases by death-row inmates.
Criminals are usually executed in Saudi Arabia by public beheading, although occasionally death by stoning or firing squad is ordered. The crimes punishable by death range from violent crimes like murder and rape to blasphemy, adultery, drug crimes, witchcraft and sorcery.
In 2014, Saudi Arabia was ranked third on Amnesty International’s list of countries that carry out the most executions, surpassing Iraq and the United States. China and Iran were ranked 1st and 2nd.

Why Israel Is At Eurovision

For those unacquainted with the history of the Middle East, the idea of a country which borders Jordan and Egypt partaking in the Eurovision competition may appear an odd one.
The often cited reason is that Israel are an European people who happen to be in Asia but the real reason is because Israel is within the European Broadcasting Area as are Tunisia, Lebanon, Libya, Morrocco, Jordon and everyone within the EBU are invited to come along.
The truth is therefore that it is nothing to do with politics or geography, but the EBU leaking out from the borders of geographical Europe into parts of Asia, Israel and some parts of the Middle East and North Africa can join the party although most decline the invite, Israel accept and send along a participant.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Should We Worry About Deflation?

For the first time since March 1960, Britain has moved into negative inflation, or as they call it deflation.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, has said that this was not damaging and the pound in people's pockets was now going further and is good news for families and shows the benefits of an economic plan that is working'.    
Of course he would say that and it is not what Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz is saying as he said 'deflation is a symptom of a weak economy' and is 'like a thermometer and when you get deflation it is a symptom that the patient is not doing well'.
I am more inclined to believe the man with the Economy Nobel Prize than the man who is running the economy and will therefore spin it as a good thing but i am sure that we will soon find out as the financial problems of 2008 continue in 2015.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Army Saved Harry How?

Prince Harry has said that he dreads to think where he would be now if he had not joined the army, saying that it kept him out of trouble.
I assume that the fifth in line to the throne is talking about eating with his mouth full and from there it was a downward spiral to eating with ones elbows on the table or peeing without putting the seat up.
I also assume that the answer to where he would be if the millionaire Prince hadn't joined the army is living rent free in one of his family's various Palaces while receiving money from the taxpayer through the civil list and going on jollies to far flung places.
Exactly what you have been doing then.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Eurovision Week 2015

With an audience of over 200 million, the Eurovision song contest is quite right to call itself the 'Worlds Largest Party' and this year the spangly invite has gone out to Australia to join in.
Not exactly a hotbed of musical talent, Australia may seem a strange choice but it turnes out that Eurovision is massively popular in Australia and has been broadcast annually to the country probably farthest away from Europe for the past 30 years.
The Eurovision purists don't like it, the cheers when Israel get knocked out in the semi-final are loud enough, and rather than pollute ours with their Aussie twang they should start their own song contest with New Zealand and the Soloman Islands if they like it so much but i have heard the Australian entry and believe me, it isn't going to be troubling the leaders side of the board.
To make sure Australia doesn't send it's representative all the way to Vienna only to be turfed out at the first opportunity, it has been given an automatic bye to Saturdays final along with Austria, UK, Italy, Germany, Spain and France.
Although their will not be any bearded men wearing full make up and evening dress competing this year, Finland has sent a band of downs syndrome men playing a god awful heavy metal tune who will either win it or get thrown out on their ear in the first semi-final on Tuesday but i have high hopes for the UK's entry this year.
Instead of the usual dross wrapped up in a well known singer, we have put our hope in Mick Jagger impersonator and a very shiny faced lady who nobody turned for in The Voice singing a 1920's style electro swing number.
May as well hand us the trophy now because that has winner written all over it!

Death Penalty For Boston Bomber

Convicted killer Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to die by lethal injection for his role in the 2013 Boston attack by the jury in Massachusetts and as one prosecuting lawyer put it: 'Justice has prevailed'. 
Has it? How does another death, in this case legalised murder by the state, make anything better because the tragic thing is that cutting short Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's life doesn´t bring back anybody killed that day or heal any of the injured, what it does do is fulfil the lust for revenge.
The logic of those baying for the death of the 21 year old is that he took a life so we must take his life, a case of two wrongs making a right but murder is murder whoever does it, whether it is a religious fanatic armed with pressure cooker bombs or someone inflicting a syringe of toxic poisons paid by the Government. 
The deterrent effect of Capital Punishment is obviously not a factor because there are still murders in the shrinking list of countries that continue to choose to kill their prisoners.
Why is ending their life early better than the alternative which is the killers sitting in his cell, slowly rotting and regretting everyday of his miserable life as they serves their punishment for their deeds.
Why let them rest in peace instead of living fearful and racked with remorse and hating everyday of their miserable incarcerated existence as their naturally allotted time on this planet slowly ebbs away as they quickly fade into oblivion.
I am sure some will argue that i would feel different if it was a member of my family we buried that day but then i am sure they would feel different if it was their son or daughter whose life was about to be taken.

Friday, 15 May 2015

India Silencing Greenpeace

Greenpeace has long been a thorn in the side of the rich and powerful who pollute the planet and it's latest target is India who according to the International Energy Agency, is set to double its coal consumption by 2035 and become the world's largest coal importer by around 2020.
Almost half of the 1,200 new coal-fired power stations proposed around the world are in India according to the World Resources Institute and Greenpeace have been making things uncomfortable for India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who is attempting to silence his environmental critics by cancelling the registration of nearly 9,000 foreign-funded non-governmental organisations (NGOs), saying they didn't comply with the country's tax codes.
Modi was elected on a manifesto promise to foster a manufacturing boom in India and the coal powered station are central to his industrial plans, despite the consequences for the already straining environment.
As the registration has been cancelled, Greenpeace are under a financial freeze in India and the charity is warning that it will have to close down in a matter of weeks unless the Indian government lifts the financial restraints.
A leaked report from India's Intelligence Bureau, explains why India's government has taken such action against Greenpeace, stating that campaigns headed by Greenpeace and other environmental NGOs had drained 3% off the nation's annual growth rate.
The charity's campaigns have stopped coal mining in some of India's forest areas and targeted India's largest firms, Coal India and the Adani Group.
Greenpeace says the government restrictions are an 'attempt to silence criticism' and even the American ambassador to India in its new role as global policeman of the environment has said its harassment of NGOs had a 'chilling effect' on the nation's democracy.
Big business will always try to find a way to suppress news that isn't in its interests but thankfully we have charities like Greenpeace who will shout it from the rooftops to draw attention to it.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

How Can Dropping Human Rights Be Good For Us?

Quite rightly the human rights groups are hollering about the Conservative Party plans to scrap the
Human Rights Act with the justification that those pesky European judges at the European court are making a mockery of the British courts system by pandering to the criminal and not the victim.
The Government haven't actually explained which parts of the Humans Right Act they object to, whether it's the part about the right to life, liberty and security of person or the right to a fair trial or maybe it's the bit about protection from torture and ill treatment.
It could be they hate the idea of freedom of thought, conscience, religion, speech and assembly or the right to marry, the right to free elections, the right to fair access to the country’s education system or even the right not to be discriminated against.
As we have been signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights since the 1950s, it does make me wonder just bits the Government don't agree with and want to drop?
By dropping the Human Rights Act, the Government is obviously going to remove some of our human rights and i fail to see how that can ever be a good thing.
I am sure that the Government will wheel out some extreme cases as justification but removing something so fundamental as Human Rights that protect all of us because of a few cases that leave a bad taste in the mouth is scandalous, especially when the stronger case would be to add to or strengthen the clauses they disagree with.
Worth remembering to those that are toeing the party line that the rights protect all of us and it won't just be the few bad apples that are affected by it, but it will be all of us.    

Tories Not Wasting Any Time

Throughout history right wing governments have not been good and tends to end up with bodies metaphorically and literally laying in the streets.
Think Hitler, George W Bush, Genghis Khan and you get the general idea of why right wingers should not be in charge of things but in our wisdom we have voted in a very right wing Conservative Party who have been freed from the shackles of a Liberal Democrat partner and boy are they making up for lost time.
Within a week of getting back into power, David Cameron has been sounding out the policies that his government will be forcing onto us, policies that they couldn't introduce as the Liberal Democrats refused to entertain when they shared power.
So far we have had had the scrapping of the Human Rights Act, a review of the BBC’s royal charter, the introduction of the snoopers charter with further monitoring of internet and phone communications, cut subsidies for wind farms and the reduction of the employment rights of workers and they haven't been back in power a week yet.    
Nick Clegg and his gang were made the fall guys of the last administration but we may be about to find out just how much of a brake they were on David Cameron who has another 4 years and 51 weeks to mould the country into his vision of a Conservative Party nation and they still haven't explained exactly where the £12 billion of welfare cuts will come from yet and then there is the EU referendum to negotiate.
It may be too late to ask Nick to come back but at least the nice people at the food banks will be kept busy for the next 5 years.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Where Did All The Ghosts Go?

A TV remake of the Enfield Hauntings of the 70's has led to a few conversations recently and more than a few retellings of ghost stories.
As i have never seen, smelt or encountered a ghost of any kind i do find the whole business of hauntings as a bit of a lark and if Scooby Doo has taught us anything, where there are a ghosts it always turns out to be a team of burglars or the creepy old caretaker.   

My question is where have all the ghosts gone because i remember back in my youth you couldn't swing a cat without hitting a poltergeist or some such smashing all the plates in the kitchen cupboard and levitating young teenage girls in their beds.
Considering that almost everyone has a mobile phone with a camera attached, you would have thought that if there were spirits and things hanging around with us, someone would have captured a convincing image by now but if anything ghost sightings have gone down.
I have heard it explained that housing and the proliferation of moulds that give-off gasses that could be mind altering was the cause. A persuasive argument that relates to the modernisation of dwellings and the war on damp and rot.
In the 70's and 80's films there was films such as Poltergeist and The Exorcist giving us the willies and more people put the picture falling off the wall down to malevolent spirits and less to their own dodgy DIY skills.
Likewise in the 90s, shows like the X-Files saw a spike in alien lights in the sky with the suspected consequence of hordes of anal-probe armed Martians scanning the Southern States of the USA to complete their interstellar trip.   
On that point, why is nobody is asking why is it Americans who seem to get anally probed by aliens more than most nationalities and why would an alien intelligence travel across the vast unimaginable expanses of space just to put something up a hillbilly's backside? 
It would appear that ghosts have gone the same way as the Loch Ness monster, demonic possessions and Jesus's face in toast and been left behind in the last century.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Final Reflections On The Election Result

My final reflection on the election, we have the Conservatives for the next five years and nothing anyone can do about it, but it is small comfort that the Conservatives are in a for a bumpy ride.
Talking to Labour supporters they feel that the Conservatives created a monster in lavishing such love on Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party in the election campaign.
Their plan was obviously to play up the SNP and strip away votes from Labour in Scotland, a ploy that worked a bit too well because they decimated Labour in Scotland as planned but they didn't expect all but one of the seats landing in the lap of the SNP, a party whose stated mission was to get rid of the Tories so now they have a block of 56 Scottish ministers baying for their blood sat on the opposite benches ready to join with Labour and what's left of a Liberal Democrat Party that got hung out to dry by their coalition partners to torpedo any plans they may have.
With a majority of only 12, the Conservatives will find it difficult to push any legislation through especially and then there is the big debate on Europe to come.
Although David Cameron may be pro-European, his party are split and the in-fighting has already began with the Euro-sceptics making the case on why we should be out of the European Union. As the referendum is two years away he may suffer the same fate as the last Conservative Prime Minister, John Mayor, who spent his time in power fending off attacks from his own party over his acceptance of the EU and famously raged at the 'bastards' on his own side who were attempting to bring him and his Government down.
Back to the SNP who are already manoeuvring for another independence referendum and this time they will probably get it, such was the outrage of the way the British Government dropped them and their promises like a hot brick the second the referendum was won. The English only votes on English laws played particularly badly across the border who felt that they were sold Scotland being an important part of the Union and hours after voting to stay, then being told they were not able to have a say in how the largest part of it was run. 
Nicola Sturgeon is a much more feisty and exceptional talent than Alex Salmond and it is almost assured that if she does put her energy to seeking a referendum, David Cameron will be forever known as the leader who split the Union.
There is also the £20 billion of spending pledges the Chancellor has to find to meet all the tax and spending pledges the Tories sprayed around during the campaign, not an easy task when they are already scratching their heads over the £12 billion of savings they announced but admitted on the eve of the election that they don't actually know where the cuts will be made. 
Throw in the human time-bomb that is Boris Johnson who has made no secret of his ambitions to take over from Cameron and it may be the honeymoon period for David Cameron is amazingly short, especially as when he left Downing Street this evening for his celebratory dinner, his car had to skirt the demonstrations at the gates of Downing Street.
The next five years to 2020 should be interesting.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Watching Australia

Something that annoys Australians is that because they are at the other end of the World, nobody
takes much notice of them.
They blame the timezone difference because when they are up and about and throwing boomerangs and being chased by deadly spiders or whatever they do down there, we have all gone to bed and when we wake up its ignored for Northern Hemisphere business.
Of course this blog is an advocate of an all inclusive world where everybody has an equal voice so i
occasionally look down under to see what the Aussies have been up to and this week there was an exciting science story.
Australian scientists at the Parkes telescope have been picking up strange radio signals and for the past 17 years they have been scanning the heavens in search for aliens who may be transmitting the signals at Earth to announce their presence.
Finally, after almost two decades of the best Australian brains being baffled as their searches proved fruitless, a student discovered that the source of the signals was the microwave in the kitchen.
Emily Petroff noticed that the signals were only received during business hours and then when the microwave was in use and concluded that: 'It turns out that you can generate these particular local signals by opening the door of the microwave to stop the microwave, and that produces these weird bursts that we're seeing at Parkes. It was kind of a surprise to all of us' she added.
Of course we could point out that it took 17 years for a boffin to recognise that the rays only came when someone was warming a lasagna in the kitchen but to ridicule Australian science would be to ridicule the many other contributions that Australians have given to us such as .....erm ..... hmmm ..... that is ..... erm .... yawn, wow i'm tired, time for bed i reckon.

The Aftermath

All the polls had it as a draw, Google Trends have a thumping Labour win but turned out they were all wrong as we wake up this morning to a Conservative majority Government and five years of Tory rule.
The absolute collapse of the Liberal Democrats was no surprise, they died 5 years ago when Clegg took them into the coalition but this was the first opportunity to get around to the funeral today.
Scotland and the Scottish National Party did for the Labour Party, the gains in England were never going to make up the deficit if they lost the fifty seats north of the border which they did.
Enough people obviously looked at this Conservative government and thought, 'I fancy five more years of that' so that is where we are until 2020 whether we like it or not.
It will be a shock if Scotland doesn't hold another referendum on its independence now that the party pushing for it has almost complete control of the country and we have the question of the in-out referendum on Europe to be concerned about which could see us removing ourselves from the largest economic block on the planet.
The privatisation of what's left of the public service will be pick up pace unconstrained by the Liberal Democrats as will the dismantling of the welfare state so by 2020 we could find ourselves in a very different Britain to the one we have today.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Rules Of Voting

We are either ending the last 24 hours of the Conservative Government or possibly the start of five years of the same thing but the six week election campaign has not been one that will live in the memory for long.
Luckily Democracy only comes around one day every five years so on Friday the politicians can go back to ignoring us again but for now it's all smiles and promises to do their very best for us because tomorrow we can make or break their careers.
While we are there deciding whose little box we want to put the cross next to, the Electoral Commission have laid out some ground rules for what we can and can't do in the privacy of the polling booth.
A big no-no is taking photographs as they could lead to a 'potential breach of privacy' so no selfies or you risk a fine of £5,000 or six months in prison but more likely you will be asked to delete the picture.
Tweeting while in the booth is also frowned upon as it is illegal for the same reasons as you can't take a photograph and it is recommended that if you must tell the world how you voted in 140 characters, wait until you are outside the polling station. 
You are allowed to take a pet as long as it is only in an accompanying role (whatever that means) and will not cause disruption to the voting process.
Dress sense is key and you can't just stroll up wearing political party clothing such a t-shirt as it is considered intimidating and you will be refused entry. While a man can be topless, women's tops must be covered to avoid distraction. You are not allowed to wear a rosette either, only the candidates can pull off that fashion statement.
Polling station staff can only refuse a voter who has been drinking or under the influence of drugs if they are being disruptive and will be asked to return when they have sobered up. 
While you can take your mobile phone into the polling station, you will be tutted at loudly and asked to take it outside if you try to use it to send a text, or make or take a call.
If you make the error of accidentally ticking the box for the wrong candidate, you can ask for another ballot paper as it isn't official until you drop it into the ballot box. Some people fee the need to sign the ballot paper but you can't write anything on the ballot paper except your 'X' as it won't be counted and will be rejected and added to the 'spoilt' pile.
Finally, my own special don't is DON'T suck or chew the pencil, other people have to use it after you!
Happy voting.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Marginal Seats

As mentioned in the previous post, the election will come down to the 200 marginal seats changing hands and in some of the constituencies, the majority is down to double digits and a handful of voters changing sides.
Of the 200 seats, 83 are currently held by Labour, 77 by Conservatives, 26 by Liberal Democrats and the remaining 14 a collection lumped under 'Others'.  
As the magical figure to claim victory is 325, if you live in one of the following 200 then you truly could be the kingmaker.



Seat
Majority
Party
Fermanagh & South Tyrone [249]
4
SF
Hampstead & Kilburn [290]
42
Lab
Warwickshire North [602]
54
Con
Camborne & Redruth [118]
66
Con
Thurrock [571]
92
Con
Bolton West [78]
92
Lab
Oldham East & Saddleworth [439]
103
Lab
Hendon [304]
106
Con
Sheffield Central [504]
165
Lab
Solihull [516]
175
LD
Oxford West & Abingdon [444]
176
Con
Southampton Itchen [523]
192
Lab
Ashfield [19]
192
Lab
Cardiff North [127]
194
Con
Sherwood [508]
214
Con
Dorset Mid & Poole North [197]
269
LD
Norwich South [431]
310
LD
Edinburgh South [230]
316
Lab
Stockton South [536]
332
Con
Lancaster & Fleetwood [350]
333
Con
Bradford East [85]
365
LD
Broxtowe [107]
389
Con
Truro & Falmouth [579]
435
Con
Swansea West [559]
504
Lab
Newton Abbot [420]
523
Con
Wirral South [624]
531
Lab
Amber Valley [11]
536
Con
Chesterfield [144]
549
Lab
Derby North [181]
613
Lab
Hull North [324]
641
Lab
Dudley North [204]
649
Lab
Wolverhampton South West [632]
691
Con
Great Grimsby [276]
714
Lab
Waveney [605]
769
Con
Wells [609]
800
LD
Carlisle [130]
853
Con
Morecambe & Lunesdale [404]
866
Con
Rochdale [474]
889
Lab
Telford [565]
978
Lab
Walsall North [593]
990
Lab
Weaver Vale [607]
991
Con
Harrogate & Knaresborough [293]
1039
Con
Lincoln [368]
1058
Con
Morley & Outwood [405]
1101
Lab
Plymouth Sutton & Devonport [453]
1149
Con
Antrim South [15]
1183
DUP
Montgomeryshire [402]
1184
Con
Brighton Pavilion [98]
1252
GRN
Birmingham Edgbaston [57]
1274
Lab
Stroud [546]
1299
Con
St Austell & Newquay [491]
1312
LD
Brighton Kemptown [97]
1328
Con
Brent Central [90]
1345
LD
Bedford [41]
1353
Con
Watford [604]
1425
Con
Arfon [16]
1455
PC
Halifax [283]
1472
Lab
Dewsbury [193]
1526
Con
Belfast East [45]
1533
APNI
Newcastle-under-Lyme [413]
1552
Lab
Warrington South [600]
1553
Con
Plymouth Moor View [452]
1588
Lab
Sutton & Cheam [556]
1608
LD
Wakefield [591]
1613
Lab
Newport East [417]
1650
Lab
Pudsey [461]
1659
Con
Eltham [236]
1663
Lab
Middlesbrough South & Cleveland East 
1677
Lab
Enfield North
1692
Con
St Ives [494]
1719
LD
Edinburgh North & Leith [229]
1724
Lab
Walsall South [594]
1755
Lab
Nottingham South [434]
1772
Lab
Somerton & Frome [519]
1817
LD
Burnley [109]
1818
LD
Dundee East [211]
1821
SNP
Blackpool South [70]
1852
Lab
Gedling [260]
1859
Lab
Hove [321]
1868
Con
Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles) [407]
1885
SNP
Manchester Withington [389]
1894
LD
Corby [161]
1895
Con
Northampton North [427]
1936
Con
Brentford & Isleworth [92]
1958
Con
Hastings & Rye [298]
1993
Con
Halesowen & Rowley Regis [282]
2023
Con
Nuneaton [435]
2069
Con
Ipswich [332]
2079
Con
Westminster North [615]
2126
Lab
Blackpool North & Cleveleys [69]
2150
Con
Dunbartonshire East [209]
2184
LD
Belfast North [46]
2224
DUP
Bury North [111]
2243
Con
Bridgend [94]
2263
Lab
Delyn [179]
2272
Lab
St Albans [490]
2305
Con
Luton South [381]
2329
Lab
Southampton Test [524]
2413
Lab
Gloucester [270]
2420
Con
Wirral West [625]
2436
Con
Derbyshire North East [185]
2445
Lab
Kingswood [344]
2445
Con
Ynys Mon [647]
2461
Lab
Chippenham [147]
2470
LD
Hereford & Herefordshire South [306]
2481
Con
Wolverhampton North East [630]
2484
Lab
Erewash [241]
2501
Con
Vale of Clwyd [588]
2509
Lab
Tooting [574]
2524
Lab
Scunthorpe [498]
2549
Lab
Chester, City of [143]
2583
Con
Chorley [149]
2593
Lab
Dagenham & Rainham [175]
2630
Lab
Wyre Forest [644]
2643
Con
Gower [273]
2683
Lab
Berwick-upon-Tweed [50]
2690
LD
Weston-Super-Mare [617]
2691
Con
Exeter [244]
2721
Lab
Stalybridge & Hyde [531]
2744
Lab
Birmingham Northfield [62]
2782
Lab
Pontypridd [454]
2785
Lab
Clwyd South [154]
2834
Lab
Croydon Central [170]
2879
Con
Alyn & Deeside [10]
2919
Lab
Keighley [338]
2940
Con
Devon West & Torridge [192]
2957
Con
Cornwall North [162]
2981
LD
Worcester [633]
2982
Con
Birmingham Yardley [65]
3002
LD
Winchester [622]
3048
Con
Penistone & Stocksbridge [448]
3049
Lab
Durham, City of [214]
3067
Lab
Hyndburn [327]
3090
Lab
Harrow West [295]
3143
Lab
Cannock Chase [124]
3195
Con
Cornwall South East [163]
3220
Con
Streatham [544]
3259
Lab
Cheadle [138]
3272
LD
Bristol North West [100]
3274
Con
Birmingham Erdington [58]
3277
Lab
Angus [12]
3282
SNP
Bury South [112]
3292
Lab
Upper Bann [586]
3361
DUP
Darlington [176]
3388
Lab
Aberconwy [2]
3398
Con
Harrow East [294]
3403
Con
Newcastle upon Tyne North [416]
3414
Lab
Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South
3423
Con
Argyll & Bute [17]
3431
LD
Eastbourne [225]
3435
LD
Carmarthen East & Dinefwr [131]
3481
PC
Birmingham Selly Oak [64]
3482
Lab
Aberdeen South [4]
3506
Lab
Warwick & Leamington [601]
3513
Con
Newport West [418]
3544
Lab
Swindon South [561]
3544
Con
Hammersmith [286]
3549
Lab
Islington South & Finsbury [335]
3569
Lab
Stevenage [532]
3578
Con
Pendle [447]
3585
Con
Don Valley [194]
3595
Lab
Wrexham [641]
3658
Lab
Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine [5]
3684
LD
York Outer [649]
3688
Con
Ealing Central & Acton [218]
3716
Con
Bristol East [99]
3722
Lab
Loughborough [377]
3744
Con
Brecon & Radnorshire [89]
3747
LD
Birmingham Hall Green [59]
3799
Lab
Edinburgh West [232]
3803
LD
Copeland [160]
3833
Lab
Coventry South [167]
3845
Lab
Dudley South [205]
3856
Con
Sefton Central [500]
3862
Lab
Eastleigh [226]
3864
LD
Glasgow North [264]
3898
Lab
Norwich North [430]
3901
Con
Dorset West [200]
3923
Con
Taunton Deane [564]
3993
LD
Leicester West [358]
4017
Lab
Banff & Buchan [27]
4027
SNP
Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney [393]
4056
Lab
Torbay [575]
4078
LD
Bolton North East [76]
4084
Lab
Richmond Park [473]
4091
Con
Stoke-on-Trent South [539]
4130
Lab
Romsey & Southampton North [478]
4156
Con
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale 
4194
Con
Great Yarmouth [277]
4276
Con
Cleethorpes [153]
4298
Con
Vale of Glamorgan [589]
4307
Con
Ellesmere Port & Neston [234]
4331
Lab
Worsley & Eccles South [637]
4337
Lab
Lancashire West [349]
4343
Lab
Perth & North Perthshire [450]
4379
SNP
Batley & Spen [37]
4406
Lab
Newcastle upon Tyne East [415]
4453
Lab
Huddersfield [322]
4472
Lab