Monday, 30 November 2015

I Say, The British Accent Is Sexiest

According to the Time Out Global Dating Survey, the Brits have the sexiest accent followed by Americans, Australians, Italians and Irish.
The South African and Scottish accents hurts my ears while i do struggle with the Australian accent, the lifting of the tone at the end of each sentence so everything sounds like a question grates with me.
I am assuming that as the survey was run by a dating agency the Australian accent came so high due to hordes of single Aussie men clicking the vote button in a vain attempt to make themselves more dateable. Didn't work obviously.
American accents depend on if they come from the top of the country or the South because the Southern USA accent just sounds like a mumble, i gave up on True Blood because i didn't know what the characters were saying half the time.
French may be the language of love but  if i had to choose i would plump for the Welsh and Irish accents as the sexiest. 
Canadian accents are very similar to the American pattern while New Zealand sounds just like Aussie.
The Middle East and East European accents sound harsh and shouty as does German while listening to a Scandinavian speak just makes me think of that Chef off the Muppet show.
The bottom line is if you want a potential partner to be transported into a world of warmth and comfort with a hint of spice and chocolate on a cool summer evenings breeze, adopt a British accent.
Not the Birmingham one obviously, there is nothing sexy about whispering sweet nothings sounding like Ozzy Osbourne.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

No To Syria Bombing

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SSOHR), U.S.-led Coalition airstrikes have killed 250 civilians while Russian-led airstrikes have 403 civilians including at least 18 people killed when a Russian jet mistakenly bombed a market today.
In the anti-war demo this weekend there was a great poster taken from the Vietnam protests in the US that said 'Bombing for peace is like screwing for virginity' but it seems that is exactly what our Government wants to do, drop bombs on high onto yet another Middle Eastern country in a forlorn hope it will bring peace.
Not enough that already the two most powerful militaries in the World, USA and Russia, are doing exactly that accompanied by ten other nations airforces with little effect.
I can't speak for everyone who is against sending in the British military once again but we all seem to agree that we have to do something about Islamic State, but sending down more bombs with a Union Flag stamped on them isn't it.
There are other non-military options we could be doing as fuelling the fire by killing civilians on foreign soil, and they are already being killed, will only encourage more people to join the fight against us and a repeat of the horrific scenes we saw in Paris in other cities.
It didn't work the other three times we tried it so why are we being told it is the way to fix things this time?
As one Syrian refugee explained: 'For us, it doesn’t matter which bombs are killing us, we are still dead'.

Don't Forget About Thermal Lag

This weeks Climate Summit in Paris is yet another last chance for us silly humans to do something about the damage we are wreaking upon the planet but pretty soon we will run out last chances and it will be too late to do anything except literally run for the hills. 
After decades of warnings there are still some who fail to grasp the situation we find ourselves and a fraction of those who flat out refuse to believe the World is warming despite all the evidence to the contrary but they are such a minority that we could call it a cleansing of the gene pool if they found themselves without paddles when the creek overflows.
There is a misconception regarding the warming climate that we could just stop pumping pollutants into the atmosphere tomorrow and things would improve but unfortunately that isn't how it works, thanks to Thermal Lag.
Environmental Scientists estimate the time between the cause (increased greenhouse gas emissions) and the effect (increased temperatures) is 40 years which means that the average temperatures of this decade are a result of what we were thoughtlessly put into the air in the 1970’s.
It also means that the true impact of our emissions this decade will not be felt until the 2050's so even if we stopped putting another part of CO2 into the atmosphere tomorrow, temperatures would continue to rise until at least 2055.
Scientists say that we are committed to warming of 0.6°C minimum which doesn't sound a great deal but as the temperature has risen by 1°C since the onset of the Industrial Revolution and seeing the droughts, floods, hurricanes, landslides, fires, and other manifestations of climate change that we are undergoing now, we should be worried what the conditions will be like in 2055 with another half a degree thrown into the mix.
What should really send a chill down our spines is that according to the Climate Accountability Institute, half of all emissions have been produced in the past 25 years so if things are this bad with the pollution we created in 1975, wait until we get to 2030 and the stuff we recklessly threw up there in 1990.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Paris And Colorado Both Religious Terrorism

A shooting at a family planning clinic in Colorado Springs has left three dead and nine injured.
The clinic, part of the Planned Parenthood group which is the largest single provider of abortion in the US, has been the scene of anti-abortion protests previously by Christian groups and although the motive is unclear, Police suspect this was an attack by an anti-abortionist.
It hasn't been said if the attacker was driven by religious intolerance to abortions but two weeks ago in Paris we saw 192 people killed by people driven by religion and if this turns out to be the act of a madman who saw abortion as against his religious beliefs, then apart from the number now dead, what's the difference?
If Muslims killing people in the name of their God is terrorism, then someone killing people in America in the name of their God is also terrorism.
If Muslims are browbeaten into making an apology because of what a handful of men and women did in Paris then Christians or whatever religion this crackpot did this in the name of should also be forthcoming with apologies, shun the perpetrator and explain how their religion is one of peace.
Paris and Colorado are two sides of the same coin, deaths of innocent people because some fruitcake religious nut who decided they should act in their Gods name.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Science Could Save Us From Global Warming

Back in the 80s, just as the effects of Global Warming was reaching the consciousness of everyone, after scaring us with tales of rising sea levels and increased cancer rates, my science teacher made a claim that our fears will be allayed as 'Science will provide an answer'.     
I don't know what he is doing now but it turned out he got that wrong because science has come up empty handed and the march towards islands disappearing beneath the waves and long queues at the skin cancer hospital ward is almost upon us.
My own misguided belief was that trees would save us as they suck in the CO2 and give off Oxygen and all it would take was for us to realise it and stop tearing down rain forests and plant trees everywhere but again that proved fruitless as trees continued to come crashing down quicker than we can put them up.
A few years later i had a flash of inspiration while listening someone going on about to GM crops and i thought why could we not Genetically Modify trees that took in even more CO2 than standard trees so each 'new' tree would remove 10 times more Carbon Dioxide so we wouldn't need so many trees if 1 can do the job of 10, 10 the job of 100 or 100 the same as 1000.
As i have no idea how to splice a tree to perform it i have had to leave it to people who know about these things and the University of Calgary seem to have finally picked up my idea and although they haven't created Frankenstein trees, they have built a 20ft prototype tower with a fan that sucks air in the bottom, scrubs the CO2 from it and spits out the clean air out the top.
This device is a 1/90,000th scale test system and appears to be working although the cost to make a full scale system seems to be prohibitive. My solution would be to get the countries that have done most to poison the atmosphere stump up for it so it would be asking the likes of China, USA, Russia and India to put their hands in their pockets.
Not a GM tree as such as i envisioned when i was sporting a pony tail and smoking behind the bike sheds instead of learning Calculus but the same principle.
Maybe that Science teacher got it right and science will come through to save the day but i hope wherever he is and whatever he is doing, he has cut out the bad science jokes because there are only so many times you can hear 'I was reading a book about anti-Gravity and i couldn't put it down'.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Church Told To Stick Ad Up Their Wookie

The Church of England has said it is 'bewildered' by the refusal of the country's biggest cinema chains to screen a 60-second advert featuring the Lord's Prayer.
The Church produced the ad which shows Christians from all walks of life reciting one line each of the Lords Prayer in a campaign to promote praying.
The ad was planned to be shown in cinemas from 18 December before the new Star Wars film but the cinemas have refused to show it as they believe it carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences.
Not that it would offend me because i would use that minute to go get some popcorn or visit the ladies but i'm glad the cinemas are refusing to show it.
I don't want religion forced upon me especially when I have paid to watch a film and if the Christians want to hear people saying prayers pop along to one of the many Churches near you, don't try and force it on me and other non-Christians. They moaned their heads off when the Atheists put a poster on a bus.
I also think aiming it at people who would pay to see a Star Wars film is also a bad move, they are probably the sort of people who describe their religious status as 'Jedi Knight' and asked for their ticket in Yoda speak 'For the new star wars film please a ticket' so any reference to Our Father they would assume you meant Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Computer Mouses or Computer Mice?

I was helping the IT guy sort out his cupboard a while ago and i was counting the items and he was writing it down so it was 15 keyboards, 7 mouse mats, 1 packet of out of date Rich Tea biscuits, 2 monitors and then we came to the 10 mouses, which i paused before calling them mice which led to a discussion over whether we say mouses or mice when there are more than one of them. 
To settle it we asked an English teacher who stroked his goatee for a while before cautiously coming down on the side of mouses but mainly to differentiate it from the rodent.
A Google search finds nearly 72 million results for 'computer mice' to only around 360,000 for 'computer mouses' but finally i thought i could get a definitive answer from the Oxford Dictionary which said that both are correct.
Refusing to take such a wishy-washy non-answer i contacted the The Centre for Computing History who have explained that: 'Technically, since 'mouse' is an acronym for 'Manually Operated User Select Equipment' they should be pluralised as 'Mouses'.
Sounds awkward i agree but i'm not going to argue with Computer historians but i will probably continue to call them mice anyway along with 72 million Google users.

Defeating IS Without Going To War

Nobody in their right mind would say that Western adventures in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan has been a success.
Neither could anybody claim that it has protected us from terrorism on our soil as the Paris attacks show but it appears that a large collection of Governments are once again readying their  military to attack another Middle Eastern country.
Heavy aerial bombardment of Raqqa would be fine if the bombs and missiles dropped only took out the bad guys but they don't, bombs and missiles don't discriminate and they take out everyone within radius and in the sixth largest city in Syria, a fair proportion of those killed will be innocent civilians.   
The British Government are bullish that they would likely seek, and gain, parliamentary support to extend the current UK bombing of Islamic State in Iraq to Syria.
My question would be if the two most powerful military nations of USA and Russia have been pounding IS for months in Syria and they are still gaining ground, what would adding the 8 UK bombers available to the attack achieve apart from gaining more hatred towards the West and acting as a recruitment officer for Islamic State who will present itself as Islam under attack from crusaders.
In a joint bulletin recently issued by the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, they warned that while single events will not provoke an immediate response from homegrown extremists: 'we believe these air strikes will contribute to homegrown violent extremists, broader grievances about military intervention in predominantly Muslim lands, possibly motivating Homeland attacks'.
The mood seems to be we need to do something but if air strikes won't make any difference and increases the likelihood of more terrorist attacks in the West, what can we do?
Although IS receives donations, especially from Gulf-based financiers, the bulk of their income comes from oil revenues from the fields it controls in Iraq and Syria. American officials estimated that it was making £2m a day from oil so find out who is buying the oil and slap sanctions on them to stem the flow of money which goes towards buying military equipment.
Diplomatic pressure should also be applied to the Gulf states to push them to clamp down on their citizens funding and supporting IS.
As the overwhelming majority of new recruits are found in the Sunni Muslim branch of Islam, we need to support states with a large Sunni Muslim population such as Bahrain, Jordon, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and deter Sunni's from wanting to join Islamic State. If we can somehow prove (not easy i agree after what we have been doing there) but if we could show the West in a good light and IS as the murderous cancer that they are then they would be less prepared to fight us.   
If we can bleed them of financial support, cease the recruitment and show the Middle East that we have their interests and not just protecting their oil in our minds, we may not be able to wind back the clock to put right the many wrongs of the West in the Bush and Blair years, but we may be able to avoid adding fuel to the fire and making things a whole lot worse over there as well as over here.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Charlie Sheen

Following his 'Tiger Blood' and 'DNA of an Adonis' breakdown in 2011, Charlie Sheen received some sympathy but as we know find out that the breakdown was caused by his diagnosis of HIV, and that he carried on having sex even after he found out, any sympathy has long left the building.
The actor says that he doesn’t know how he got the virus but says it is impossible that he infected anyone since, although many of his sexual partners refute his claim that he told them about his HIV status.
He seems particularly annoyed that someone betrayed his trust and was blackmailing which seems to show that he didn't reveal his illness out of some concern for his future partners or to draw attention and be an unfortunate spokesman for HIV sufferers but simply because he felt forced to make the announcement before someone else did it for him.
The best thing he could do is use his new platform to show how it is possible to live a full life with HIV although this will never remedy the fact that he had a killer disease and knowingly continued
to risk other people with the same fate for which he should be facing a prison cell.

Celebrities Accepting Honourary Degrees

It's about this time of year that the people who decide these things start finalising the New Years Honours list as hundreds of celebrities prepare to receive their OBE's MBE's and Knighthoods.
Why these honours are dished out to actors, singers, musicians and successful businessmen who have spent their lives doing what they want to do and being paid extremely well for doing it i have never really understood.
Even worse but along the same theme is the University Honourary Degree system where Degrees are handed to people outside of academia which really does stick in my craw.
I do understand the 'celebrity splash at the graduation ceremony' angle but what a slap in the face to those poor students who spend years paying extortionate tuition fees, studying all hours for years, the anxiety of exams often in a state of near poverty only to see someone who has done any of these things swan in and pick up the same award as you.
Graduates pay dearly for their degrees, both financially and mentally and it cheapens the achievement when universities hand out degrees and even more when the celebrity then uses the honourary title given to them and put Doctor in front of their name. 
I strongly dislike the Honours List, the British Empire part of it especially, but I fundamentally disagree with the practise of handing out Honourary Degrees to celebrities. If they want a degree that bad then they should go to university, put in the years of study and earn it.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Government Advice

The Government has published advice on what we should do in the event of a firearms or weapons attack in a public place, run.
That's good to know because we may have tried to engage them in meaningful dialogue but if the Government says just beat it the hell out of there, i would go with that.
They also advise that if running isn't an option, hide behind a heavily reinforced wall as as bullets can go through brick, glass, wood and metal. Lock any doors and silence your mobile phone.
With the running part, i assume you adopt a zig-zag style run until you find a heavily reinforced wall whatever one of those looks like.
The bottom line is leg it and keep legging it until you can't hear the gun fire anymore.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Kerry

John Kerry is once again on this side of the Atlantic and he is bringing a message of hope after the horrors of Paris and the downed Russian plane in Egypt.
He believes a ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebels fighting to bring it down could be weeks away and then the guns of all sides can be thrown against Islamic State.
Saudi Arabia is to host a meeting of Syrian opposition figures in December, at which they are to agree on a delegation to send to talks with representatives from President Bashar al Assad's government.
The elephant in the room though was the sight of John Kerry's face and what has happened to it.
To be fair he was never a looker and the comparison with Lurch from the Adams Family was always harsh but fair but something seems to have gone very wrong.
It is rumoured that he is a keen recipient of botox injections and plastic surgery but someone needs to take him to one side and tell him he really should ease up a bit because it isn't doing him any favours in the looks department.
Great news that the Syrian conflict may be coming towards the end game though.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Islamic State The West's Monster

During the 1970s, Communism and the Soviet Union was the biggest threat to America and radical Islam was not a concern of the USA. Under the Jimmy Carter administration the USA began funding and training Islamic militants to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.
These militants who named themselves the Mujaheddin, were the Americans foot soldiers in a proxy war against the Soviets and received American funds and training towards this goal. 
After Ronald Reagan was elected in 1981, U.S. funding of the Mujaheddin increased significantly and CIA Officers played a big role in training and arming Mujaheddin forces and one of their prominent members was a wealthy son of a Saudi Arabian businessman named Osama Bin Laden.
Bin Laden left Saudi Arabia to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan after Moscow’s invasion in 1979. By 1984, he was running a front organisation known as Maktab al-Khidamar – the MAK – which funnelled funds, weapons and recruits to the Mujaheddin.
Some of that money went towards new madrases where students were radicalised and encouraged to join the Afghan resistance.
The 9/11 Commission report released in 2004 said these madrases served as 'incubators for violent extremism'.
After 10 years of war the Soviets withdrew and so did American support and funding to leave behind a broken and wrecked country which was already one of the poorest in the World before the decade of conflict.
Feeling aggrieved and betrayed that they would not be helped to rebuild their country after their sacrifices doing America's dirty work, the Mujaheddin turned on their former backers and rebranded themselves as Al Queada and became a worldwide recruiting movement for 'Holy warriors' and spread a doctrine against the West but especially America, financed by Osama bin Laden.
Former British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, said that Al Quaeda was 'unquestionably a product of Western intelligence agencies' and 'a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies'.
A lengthy list of terrorist acts followed and in 2001 Al Queada operatives crashed four planes into America killing 2,753 with the result being the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 with one of the justifications in destroying Al Queada's base.
Quickly the American focus moved away from Afghanistan and onto Iraq on the pretext of WMD's which led to an invasion and removal of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
With Saddam removed the US President, George W Bush, announced 'mission accomplished' and began to withdraw US troops from Iraq leaving a void which Al Queada stepped into and where they remained driving car bombs and suicide missions against the Iraqi's. 
The remnants of the Afghanistan Al-Queada were joined by other terror organisations in the region and underwent another rebranding as Al-Quaeda in Iraq (AQI).
With the stirrings of revolution in neighbouring Syria, AQI become Islamic State and refocused its efforts on Syria.
Former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband concluded that the 2003 invasion of Iraq caused the creation of Islamic State, an argument that one of the architects of the Iraq invasion, Tony Blair, agreed with last month.
Rather embarrassingly, the United States and the West were arming and funding some of the Syrian rebels who turned out to be affiliated to Islamic State and who took the Western donated weapons and overrun large swathes of Iraq as well as Syria.
Now Islamic State appear to be spreading out beyond the Syria and Iraqi field of operations and from the Mujaheddin through Al Queada to Al Queada in Iraq and now Islamic State, it is a monster of our own making and once again it is the innocent civilians suffering the blow-back from the series of monumental errors from our leaders and the murderous, demented bastards intent on bringing death in the name of their God wherever they can.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Paris Reaction

As difficult as it must be, what we need most after the atrocious Paris attacks are cool heads.
It is too early to say what happened exactly, one report claimed an attacker shouted 'this is for Syria' before he opened fire and French investigators have identified a Syrian who apparently passed through Greece as a refugee last month as one of the perpetrators.
Islamic State have claimed responsibility and the French president, Fran├žois Hollande, has called their actions an 'act of war that must be countered mercilessly'.
Amidst an influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants, the revelation that one of the Paris killers may have made his way to Paris with refugees is going to prove deeply toxic. 
Muslims, particularly in France, will now increasingly fear being associated with fanaticism and terror and far-right groups may will try to fuel more hatred which will lead to attacks on innocent Muslims.
The political leaders need to take a deep breath before responding, what we don't need is an upping of the present carnage and more troops and heavier weapons dispatched to another Middle Eastern country and another decade of war to satisfy the understandable cry for revenge, we have the American reaction to 9/11 to see exactly how that ends up and last night in Paris is undeniably just the latest blow-back of their actions over a decade ago.
If Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron, doesn't try to use this as an excuse to push for attacks in Syria i will be surprised as he has been itching to get involved in the action ever since it flared up but Governments need to avoid knee-jerk, emotive reactions and be smart in the way they react and not add fuel to an already out of control fire.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Building Another Earth

NASA have an ambitious plan to capture an asteroid and put it in orbit around the moon which will be exciting enough if they can achieve it but it does make me wonder about how we can reshape our Solar System.
Each 365 days the Earth orbits the Sun traveling 940 million kilometers or 584 million miles around our star and it doesn't return to that place in its orbit for another year so that space is for all intent and purposes empty.
Jupiter meanwhile shares its orbit with a whole bunch of asteroids which move around the Sun with the planet, one group ahead of Jupiter and another other group behind in its orbit.
As this shows that planets or planet-like objects can be in the same orbit, i do wonder what it would be possible to manoeuver into the Earths Orbit.
Venus is almost the same size and density as the Earth and would be ideal as a second Earth but somehow dragging it 23 million miles to our orbit may be too much and i couldn't even begin to imagine either how we could drag a planet out of its orbit and into ours or what knock-on effect it would have on other things.
The alternative would be to guide as large as possible an asteroid into place and then build it up as necessary.
The Earths orbit is in the Goldilocks Zone, we know that at an orbit of 93 million miles from the Sun we can have liquid water and if we can't get the size of planet the same as Earth, we could get the mass using heavier material to terraform our new orbital partner.
With our best brains working on the details such as the required mass to create to enable it to hold onto its atmosphere and where in the orbit to place it in relation to the Earth, we could 'build' a second home orbiting our Sun exactly where we want it knowing it could sustain life.
While a spare Earth would solve many problems, i don't know what effect if any it would have on Earth so might be better to stick with Plan A and just build on the Moon for now and leave the planet creation for future generations and more advanced technology.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

John Lewis Christmas Ad 2015

John Lewis's Christmas advert has become as much a part of the Festive season as tinsel, brussels sprouts and asking if your husband kept the receipt but this years offering seems to be coming in for some stick but i'm not sure why.
The previous high-water mark was the excellent bear and hare one in 2013 when the hare leaves the hibernating bear an alarm clock to wake him so he can join in the Christmas celebrations but after a few viewings i think this 'Man on the Moon' one tops even that one.
A young girl spots a lonely man on the moon gazing up at the Earth through her telescope. After waving to him but failing to attract his attention, she sends up a Christmas parcel containing another telescope, and a tear trickles down his cheek when he finds her waving up at him, lonely no more.
I know that ultimately adverts are all about selling us tat we don't want or need and one geeky astronomer missed the whole point by disputing the scientific accuracy of the advert, pointing out that the telescopes would need to be around 300m wide to see each others faces so clearly from such a distance.
This year’s ad, however, is designed to raise awareness for Age UK, with its strapline: 'Show someone they’re loved this Christmas' and that is a sentiment we should all be behind and isn't something John Lewis or any shop can sell.
I like the advert, it is aesthetically beautiful, comes with a sad sounding song and has a message and if wasn't for the John Lewis logo appearing on screen for the last two seconds, you wouldn't even know which shop it was advertising but if it offends you that much, you can always close your eyes for that bit.

All that said, if there was a man on the moon and i could contact him i would say 'Dear Man on the Moon, Stay where you are, we've made a right bloody mess of the place over here. Love Lucy.
P.S. Say hello to the Clangers for me.

Lest, We Forgot

With today being Remembrance Sunday, it is the right time to ponder on what Remembrance Day was originally intended for, to reflect upon the madness and futility of war and remember the dead from all sides, both military and civilian.
Over time, as we have become embroiled in conflicts that our leaders have found hard to justify, the sacrifices of the past have been used not to deter us from war, but to lend legitimacy to new wars, using the image of the fallen to encourage new recruits to their armies and to try and silence dissenters by lionising the young men and women who will be sent to fight and possibly die on foreign battlefields.
This serves the interests of those who, for political reasons, want to encourage our involvement in foreign wars by tossing out the usual cliches such as 'defending our freedom' and 'keeping us safe'.
It's been 70 years since we fought a war which had anything to do with defending our freedom, our freedom or safety was not at stake in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya or Kosovo and nobody can argue otherwise, although the politicians and useful idiots did at the time.
Given the dubious and dangerous nature of the West's (mainly Britain and America's) foreign policy, the best thing we could do to help our military is by not disengaging our brains whenever the government tells us we have to invade a country who are not threatening us, preventing the sad and pathetic scenes of young men and women in flag draped coffins being repatriated. 
By automatically labelling anyone who puts on a uniform and holds a gun as a hero serves to promote worship of soldiers and glorifies and feeds the fantasy that military service is honourable and those that engage in it are unquestionably heroes.
If the requirement for heroism was to grab a weapon and fight a war then the term could be applied to the Islamic State fighters or the Taliban, even Hitlers troops would fall under the category of 'heroes'.
Far be it the Western soldiers being in danger, it is the unarmed civilians who are most at risk, the military are trained for war and are heavily protected while civilians have to do whatever they can to survive while the military with advanced weaponry and in recent cases of drone attacks are thousands of miles away, destroy all around them.
Heroes are people who bring around change against all odds, those who refuse to be browbeaten or forced away from their ideals, those who have helped change the consciousness of thinking on topics such as racism, homophobia, women's rights, slavery and tyranny and did so at at great personal risk.
For the past 70 years our soldiers have not been defending their land or their homes, they have been defending Western ‘interests' as defined by their Governments who hold the power to decide whether to send other people's sons, husbands, wives and daughters to kill and die.
All the talk of these men and women being 'heroes' just obscures the fact that the soldiers are just pawns in political games and perpetuates the cycle of death and destruction and clears the way for the next war.
'Lest we forget' may be the oft spoken slogan at ceremonies to remember the fallen but the message has changed far too much from the original meaning to make Remembrance Day just another attempt to try and sway the public into supporting the recent and future wars our politicians decide on and i don't want to be any part of that.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Let It Snow

We are off on a long Anniversary weekend in Scandinavia in December and a quick check of the long range weather forecast for Sweden shows no snow on the horizon which is a bit disappointing as i was hoping for if not a white Christmas, a bit of a white pre-Christmas.
Being on the south coast of the country it hardly ever snows here and i have never known a White Christmas here so where should be be going to guarantee plenty of the white stuff to give a Christmas Card landscape when we wake up Christmas morning?
The rule of thumb for snow at Christmas is that the higher up you are or the further North, the more chance you have of a white Christmas.
If anyone should know the best place to head for armed with a toboggan and a woolly hat it's the MET Office and they say that in Europe we should be heading for Oslo in Norway, Helsinki in Finland, Salzburg in Austria St Petersburg in Russia, Tallinn in Estonia, Vilnius in Lithuania, Prague in the Czech Rep, Reykjavik in Iceland or St Moritz in Switzerland.
A bit further afield, the snowballs will be flying Christmas morning at Aspen in Colorado, Montreal in Canada and Chicago in Illinois.
So not Sweden then, but i will keep my fingers crossed and not give up on my hopes of re-enacting
Wham's 'Last Christmas' video just yet.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Bible Stories Plagarism

We all know the story of the God who created the world and the universe in six days while resting on the seventh and the tale of the small child born on the 25th December to a virgin and wrapped in cloth and placed in a manger with only shepherds in attendance.

The early Christians also knew about these stories because when it came to creating their own religious idol, they stole these tales from already established religions, the creation story already told by the Persian scriptures of the Zoroastrians and the virgin birth comes from Mithra, one of the Roman religions.
Christians may say that the Bible is the written Word of God but the Bible is simply a retelling of ancient superstitions and legends in a splendid piece of plagiarism.

Garden of Eden
Creationists will argue that the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve is how the human story begins but the Persians Avesta long told the same story of how their God, Ormuzd, created the world and the first two humans with a man, Enkidu, created from the earth by a god. He lives amongst the animals in a natural paradise until he is tempted by a woman, Shamhat. He accepts food from this woman and is forced to leave the place where he lives and encounters a snake which steals a plant of immortality from him.

Noah's Ark
A man is warned of an imminent flood by a god and is instructed to build a large boat in order to survive. After the flood, the boat lands on a mountaintop where the man sends out a series of birds to find dry land. These details sound like they were taken directly from the book of Genesis, you’d find the exact same information in the story of Utnapishtim, found in the Epic of Gilgamesh.  

Ten Commandments
In the Bible, the Ten Commandments were given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and were written on stone tablets however the Egyptian Book of the Dead from around 2600 B.C., they are also handed Ten Commandments which include not blashpheming, not committing adultery, not killing and not stealing.

Satan and Angels
The Bible is full of details of angels, demons and Satan but the Zoroastrians were the first to believe in angels, put forward the idea of Satan, and explain the battle between the forces of good and evil.

Tower of Babel
Hebrew Scriptures got this one first with a story of early humans raising a tower whose top should reach the sky, but when it approached the heavens, the gods, introduced a diversity of tongues among men, who till that time had all spoken the same language.

Parting of the Red Sea
The Christian who wrote this story was evidently familiar with the legends related of the Sun-god, Bacchus, as he has scribbled out the name Bacchus and inserted Moses. In the hymns of Orpheus, Bacchus had a rod with which he performed miracles, including parting Seas to allow his followers dry travel.
There is also a Hindu fable to the effect that when Crishna was being chased by King Madura, the Lord divided the river Yumna to allow him to cross to safety.

Jonah and the Whale
Whether it was the Hindu fable of Saktideva being swallowed by a huge fish and emerging unhurt or the Grecian tale of which sees Hercules swallowed by a whale, the Christians didn't get to this story first either.

Virgin Birth
The idea of virgins giving birth to religious icons was a well worn path long before Christians threw their own into the ring. Amongst those born of virgins were India's Buddha, Codom of the Siamese, Fo-hi in Chinese fables and llorus, who had the epithet of 'Saviour' who was born of the virgin Isis.

Wise Men
The second part of the Christian Nativity includes three wise men turning up with presents. They must have been tired because in earlier religions they also turned up at the birth of Buddha, Crishna, Rama who is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu and Confucius.

King Herod
For Herod replace with Crishna whose family was told by a heavenly voice to flee as the reigning monarch, King Kansa, sought the life of the infant Saviour, and to accomplish his purpose, he sent messengers to kill all the infants in the neighbouring places.

Miracles
Raising the dead, healing the sick, restoring the maimed, the deaf and the blind, that would be Crishna or Buddha who also cured the sick, the deaf and the blind. Could have been Ilorus the Egyptian saviour who did the same or Esculapius of the Ancient Greek religions who strode around Greece performing the same miracles. Bacchus, was a great performer of miracles, among which his changing of water into wine,

Of course it could all be just a massive coincidence rather than early Christians just picking the best bits from the other pre-existing religions and attributing them to their newly made up deity.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

God Not Blessing America Anymore

America does get a bit of a rough ride in Europe, mostly due to its bat crazy gun laws but also because Americans seem a bit over the top when it comes to religion. 
Faith seemed to be enjoying a golden age under the George W Bush years but a report from the Pew Religious Landscape Study reveals that America is becoming a less religious nation.
The polling revealed the number of people that admit to believing in a deity has decreased from 92% in the early 2000's to 89% today. The number of Americans who say they are 'absolutely certain' that God exists decreased from 71% to 63% today.
While a small fall was noticeable in the number of Americans who pray daily and regularly attend religious services, the decline was very pronounced among young adults -- those born from 1990 to 1996. Only 39% of these Millennials pray daily, compared to 67% of the generation born between 1928 and 1945.
Seems the next generation of Americans may not be asking God to bless their country at every opportunity.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Tarantino And Police Gun Deaths

Quentin Tarantino is getting flack from the right wing media in America for speaking at the rally in New York, opposing police brutality in the USA and stating that he was there 'to say I’m on the side of the murdered'.
There does seem to be a large amount of reporting of American police shooting citizens in the United States this year, a year that has seen 957 people killed by police in the USA so far this year.
Undeniably, due to America's bizarre and crazy gun laws the police in the US often contend with much more violent situations and more heavily armed individuals than police in other societies but comparing America to other countries, the protesters do have a point regarding just how trigger happy the US police are.
In the UK there have been 54 deaths by police marksmen in 29 years but in America there were 59 shootings by US police in the first 24 days of 2015.
In Iceland there has been just one fatal shooting since the country gained independence in 1944 while in the  city of Stockton, California which has 25,000 fewer residents than all of Iceland – there has been three fatal shootings in the first five months of 2015.
Police in the US fatally shot more people in one month this year than police in Australia in the past 19 years, while police in Canada average 25 fatal shooting a year while in California, a state just 10% more populous than Canada, police in 2015 have fatally shot 75 people in just five months.
In all, almost a thousand people have been killed by police in the USA so far this year so maybe the shocking thing should be that the police shoot and kill hundreds of individuals on a yearly basis and the person being vilified is the one speaking out about it.