Saturday, 30 April 2016

Gadzooks..Not Him Again!!

Every British schoolchild is made to read Shakespeare, it is on the curriculum so therefore schools 'legally' have to pin down children and shout 'Forsooth' and 'To be or not to be' in their ears.
I am not particularly sure why Shakespeare has persevered all these years and why 400 years after he Soothed his last For we are still wittering on about him but i believe it is a Emperors new clothes thing where nobody is prepared to stand up and say 'hang on, his stories are more Suckspere then Shakespeare'.
There must be better and more relevant books written for our children to read from the past four centuries, books that are written in a language we understand and doesnt contain sentences such as 'You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!' and 'thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch!'
As i am knocking down well loved historical characters, how did Van Gogh ever become as famous as he did? Have you ever seen a Van Gogh painting?  What about Picasso, another artist who you wonder who the hell paid money for a painting of a woman with one eye next to her nose and the other in her forehead. If a seven year old gave me it i would use it to mop up the spilled tea on my coffee table.   
Oliver Cromwell was so loved he had a song written about him and a statue in Westminster while in France they have statues of Joan of Arc dotted around but all she ever did was pick up a sword, get caught and set on fire by the English which lowers the bar considerably for receiving a sainthood. 
Anyway, as the TV is full of Shakespeare plays to commiserate his death, i just say 'Forsooth, what through yonder window breaks..ti's my works of Shakespeare book'.

Come Back Nick!

Between 2010 and 2014 it was widely believed that the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government were just there to make the nasty party look nicer, a claim they denied and stated that what they were actually doing was stopping the Conservatives from imposing some of the most draconian policies that even Margaret Thatcher turned down as 'a step too far'.
We mocked them at the time but it seems they were right because since the Conservatives have been the majority party, they have been shredding everyone and everything in a ideological blitz.
The junior doctors have been so incensed at the Government that they have staged the largest strike since the NHS was founded joining a list public servants including Tax collectors, train drivers, head teachers and driving examiners who have decided to withdraw their labour in protest and now the teachers appear to be set to strike over the Governments plans to make all schools academies.
'For a long time we've been bribed, we've been threatened, we've been blackmailed and we've been punished. We have no further means other than to say an absolute no - you can't do this to us' said one delegate at the Teachers Conference so it seems the Conservatives have another battle on their hands as they tick off large swathes of the country.
Who would have thought that we would be longing for the good old days of Nick Clegg and his Lib Dems in Government.

Would I Lie To You?

If it came down to a game of 'Would I Lie To You' between Russia and the United States it would be a tough call because both are about as honest as the day is long, a day on Jupiter that is. 
Both are pointing the finger at each other in the latest round of 'you-did, no-you-did' as Russian jets buzz American planes in the region.
The Americans are saying the Russians acted in an 'unsafe and unprofessional manner' after a Russian SU-27 fighter jet intercepted a US aircraft approaching its border.
The Russians replied that the American planes were turning off their identification transponders and flying towards Russian airspace.
'The US Air Force has two solutions, it can either not fly near our borders or turn the transponder on for identification' shrugged a burly looking Russian.
The Pentagon said its Air Force RC-135 plane had been flying a routine route in international airspace when it was intercepted.
Who to believe? On the one hand the Russians have been doing to Britain exactly what they have accused the Americans of doing and flying towards British airspace without identification before turning away sharply while America, well, you would be crazy to take anything that comes from their military at face value so its like a bun fight between a used car salesman and an estate agent, you can't believe either.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Think Again

John Wayne speaking in May 1971:

'I believe in white supremacy, until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don't believe giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people . I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from the Native Americans. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves'.

That would be why the idea of 'John Wayne Day' has been dropped by California then.

Red Ken And The Israelites

Ken Livingstone's comments about Hitler being a zionist before 'he went mad and killed 6 million of them' was not only bizarre but highly offensive and it is quite right that he has been suspended from the Labour Party.
What it has also bought forth is the view that the left is a bunch of rabid anti-Semites and has quickly turned into the expression that when the left criticise Israel, they are displaying their real hatred towards Jews.
Nonsense argument of course and a well worn way to shut down any criticism of Israel when it bully's, subjugates and murders its Palestinians neighbour and that is the danger.
I was once told that to attack Israel is to attack Jews because Israel is the only country where Judaism is the main religion, my response was if that is the case then any attack on England is an attack on the Church of England because we are the only CoE country.
The next time Israel attacks Palestine, and they will, the left should not be shut down by cries of anti-semitism, to criticise Israel for its actions as we criticise Russia or America or Britain if they did the same is not the same as criticising Jews.
Ken Livingstone was wrong to say what he did but it is equally wrong to meekly remain silent while Israel continues to starve and kill Palestinians while continuing to violently colonise their land in one of the greatest genocides since the 2nd World War when real anti-semitism was on display.

Reintroducing Predators To UK

The campaign to reintroduce wild animals including wolves, lynx, beavers and wild boar has gone up a notch as part of the plan to restore species hunted to extinction.
Plans put together by Re-wilding Britain would see the animals roaming parts of the UK in an attempt to improve biodiversity.
Spokeswoman Susan Wright said: 'These are important keystone species which actually drive ecological processes and we should be looking a lot more seriously at bringing these animals back'.
Sounds a great idea at first but then when you think about it, do we really want to reintroduce predators such as Lynx and Wolves back into our wildlife, the farmers are already bleating about foxes attacking their livestock, i can't think they would be happy about opportunistic predators such as the Lynx bothering their sheep and if a pack of wolves decide lamb or chicken was on the menu it will be carnage.
Secondly, they were hunted to extinction the last time they were here and idiot hunters will be wetting themselves in the excitement at the thought of bagging a Wolf in their own backyard.
I would say leave things alone, we cannot know what we would unleash on our current wildlife if we reintroduced dangerous species which have not been native here for centuries but what is certain is, just like the booming urban fox population, they won't stay in the woods and forests when there are such rich and easier pickings in our towns and cities.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Letter From America

The American military have punished sixteen of their personnel who were responsible for the bombing of an Afghan hospital that left 42 dead, officials say.
The attack on the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital took place last October when an AC-130 gunship aircraft mistakenly attacked the hospital and then initially claimed that they had come under fire.
Medecins Sans Frontieres called the incident a war crime. In a report, the group said its staff contacted US-led forces several times during the attack, saying they were being bombed.
The charity also said the co-ordinates of the hospital were well-known and had been communicated once again to the Americans days before the bombing.
Army Gen John Campbell, the top US commander in Afghanistan at the time, called the incident a 'tragic but avoidable accident caused primarily by human error'.
So what form does the punishment take? Jail time? Court martial? Manslaughter charges?
Unbelievably each of the soldiers involved will receive a letter of reprimand.
Kill 42 people and receive a letter telling you that you have been very naughty does seem a bit like letting them off lightly, not to say offensive to the people who lost their lives, but we have been assured that the letter will be very strongly worded, which makes everything okay then i suppose, as long as the letter points out that they should make sure that they avoid hospitals next time they are shooting up a city and stick to what they usually blow up, things like civilians, their homes and wedding parties.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

No Place For Discrimination

British Cycling's technical director Shane Sutton has resigned over allegations of sexual discrimination and using derogatory names for the Paralympic cyclists, calling them 'gimps' and 'wobblies'.
Mr Sutton denies the allegations but has quit to 'give British cyclists time to prepare with a different boss, ahead of the Rio Olympics in the summer' and that the allegations had become a distraction and he believes that 'it is in the best interests of British Cycling for me to step down from my position as technical director'.
A female cyclist, Jessica Varnish, has claimed Sutton made sexist comments towards her including saying that she had 'a fat arse' and telling her to "go and have a baby" when told by the Australian director that her contract was not going to renewed.
Darren Kenny, one of Britain’s most decorated para-cyclists, claims to have heard members of the disability team referred to in highly derogatory terms by Sutton and Victoria Pendleton has backed up Varnish's allegations of sexism from the director.
British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake said that he understood Shane's decision to stand down and 'his primary focus has always been the athletes'.
It may have a detrimental effect on our cycling team at the Olympics but a small price to pay to rid ourselves of another dinosaur still living in the dark ages and a reminder that discrimination has no place in the modern world.

Still Backing The Junior Doctors

If the Governments plan was to allow the junior doctors strikes to happen, therefore reducing accident and emergency cover and forcing the public to wait longer with the resulting anger at the striking doctors, they got it gloriously wrong if the amount of horn blasts the banner wielding doctors received when i strolled past today.     
Why else would the Government turn down the opportunity to cool things down with the trial of the controversial contracts making doctors work 7 days a week for less pay being offered as the British Medical Association suggested last week and stick to their guns of imposing them against the junior doctors will.
Both sides are hitting the media explaining why they have taken this course of action but i know out of a choice between believing a doctor and a politician, the doctor would win everytime.
The Government didn't help their cause by making it appear the strikes was about pay and weekend death rates, especially when it was discovered that the much quoted 'more deaths at weekends' was due to the Government stretching the weekend to include Thursday.  
The fact that the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, co-wrote a book about how to dismantle the NHS and introduce private practice in its place, all means that the junior doctors versus the Government only seems to have one winner and it isn't the ones who also fail to understand the plight of people using food banks or how impossible it is for disabled people to live on reduced benefits or how reducing housing benefit for anyone with a spare bedroom affects people.
The sooner the Conservatives slither away never to be seen again the better.

Trump v Clinton: Down To The Last Two

It seems now that it is going to be Trump v Clinton going head to head for the keys to the White House and after almost clinching the Republican nomination, Trump is to give a speech detailing his foreign policy.
Does make you wonder what a sexist, racist right wing nutter would come up with but the strange haired front runner has already spouted much regarding what he would do if he takes charge, and none of it is good.
Mexico would be handed a bill for the massive wall he plans to build across their border and turn the full force of the American military against Islamic State, obviously because that has worked so well elsewhere in that region .
He would make China stop undervaluing their currency although he hasn't said how he would 'make' them do it.
He did say that he would only use America's nuclear arsenal as a last step but would encourage South Korea and Japan to develop their own nukes which would allow him to withdraw troops stationed there or make the two countries contribute more to keeping them there.
He would also withdraw from NATO and increase torture of individuals suspected of terrorism but to stay inside the law, change the law to allow torture.  
I'm sure he will enlighten us soon enough with how else he will make an American foreign policy that will throw even more petrol onto the fire they jointly started with the UK over a decade ago.
Thankfully, it seems he is as disliked by Republicans as he is by the opposition so even a flawed individual like Hillary Clinton should roll over him but then we said that about the last right wing nutter trying for office, George W Bush, who got elected back into office after killing hundreds of thousands so i wouldn't be hanging up my 'Trump for President' t-shirt just yet.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Blagging Brits

Something most British are very good at is blagging, which is the art of speaking to make someone believe that we know more than we actually do without actually saying anything about it.
For example if someone asked a Brit what they thought about the Brexit effect on the body of EU treaties and legislations, the blag answer is to say something which sounds right and quickly move the subject onto something else to leave the impression that we know what we are talking about but now want to talk about something else.
For example, if a Brit was asked about the hunt for the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider, the blag answer would go along the lines of 'The problem is that the Large Hadron Collider is, as the name implies large, which means they have lots of equipment that has to be perfectly lined up making the Higgs Boson even harder to find. It's like that Walker free kick for Tottenham the other night, he only had a small place he could put it to get the goal although they went and let in a goal anyway to get a draw which as good as handed the league title to Leicester. They have been a breath of fresh air this year but i didn't see Leicester winning it did you?'   
Result, we sound clever and have shifted to subject away to where we are more comfortable.
You should therefore be warned that any Brit answer on anything from science to government, economics, maths, commerce or history should be treated with caution although punk rock, art and fiction we are better at.
To show that this isn't true for all Brits, to answer the previous question, the Higgs Boson particle IS hard to find due to interference from other particles and as we all know interference can play havoc with everything, a good example is the TV. I missed the end of the Man City game last night due to interference on the WIFI hub although i did find out later that it ended nil nil. Not sure they can win over there, especially with Ronaldo back for that game...' and so on.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Who To Blame For BHS Collapse

Worrying times for the 11,000 British Home Stores workers as their employer goes into administration although the store has said that they will continue to trade as they seek a buyer, although with a £1.3 billion debt, you do wonder who will be willing to take it on. 
While the consequences for jobs and pensions are rightly the immediate focus of attention, we can trace the problem back to 2005 when the seeds of BHS’s demise were sown under the control and ownership of Philip Green.
Green, a bought the BHS business for around £200m in 2000 but by 2004 had not only recovered that investment but had doubled it and received around £400m in dividends.
Then in 2005, BHS formed part of a holding company called Taveta Investments Limited which paid Green a dividend of £1.3bn, mainly financed by increasing debts by nearly £1bn and paid to his wife who is domiciled in Monaco therefore avoiding UK Tax.
At the time he described the payment as: 'affordable' and 'leaves the business with plenty of opportunities to grow'.
He obviously got that very wrong as this morning BHS collapsed with debts of over a billion and threatening the livelihoods of 11,000 workers.
As a business model, sucking £1.3bn out of a company and saddling it with £1bn of debt is not the best plan but obviously Mr Green and his wife did very well out of it but that is modern day Capitalism for you, as long as the shareholders are able to dig their fat, greedy fingers in the pie then the people who toil for them on minimum wage can go hang but i guess there are always the payday lenders to pick up the pieces.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

EU Campaign Celebrity Endorsements

If you wanted advice on field settings on a turning pitch during a one day cricket international then Ian Botham is probably the man to ask but he wouldn't be the first choice to turn to if you needed assurance on trade arrangements with the EU whilst pursuing large-scale deregulation at home but nevertheless he feels it is his duty to wade into the EU campaign and tell us that Brexit is the way to vote.
It is not just the batting hero wagging a finger at us, there is a host of celebrity endorsements for both sides joining the debate who are assuming that their intervention will help move the needle in their direction.
Leaving or staying is not an easy decision so we can either weigh up the pros and cons and come to a reasoned decision based on economics, trade and security or we can just go along with what that actress from Dynasty says.
So if your decision making is based on what celebrities think then on the remain side we have Karren Brady, Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Barack Obama, Billy Bragg, Jeremy Clarkson, Garth Crooks, Eddie Izzard, Sandie Shaw, Emma Thompson, Robert Winston and Stephen Hawking.
The Leave campaign have an equally eager squad of celebrities which include Bernie Ecclestone, Rupert Murdoch, Theo Paphitis, Ian Botham, Michael Caine, Sol Campbell, Joan Collins, Frederick Forsyth, Peter Hitchens, Katie Hopkins and Donald Trump.
It's a toughie because on the one hand the lady who won the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest is saying we should stay in the EU but then again the former Arsenal and England defender is telling us to pull the plug and bail out.   
Personally i think the most sensible plan is to sit tight and not commit either way until we find out which way the winner of Britain's Got Talent is going to vote.

Why The Rush Obama?

You may have noticed that the American President has been visiting Britain the last few days and after a bit of Birthday cake with the Queen and making a speech about the EU, he is off again to some other parts of Europe before heading back to America but hang on Obama, what's the rush because there are so many things you can do here which you won't be able to do back home? 
You could have a swift half in a pub full of 18 year olds that was built when the Pilgrim Fathers were still arguing about the sleeping arrangements on the Mayflower and if you get so drunk on alcopops and fall over, you could get fixed up for free on the NHS, try doing that at home!
You and Michelle could eat a Kinder Egg which haven't been available in the USA since 1938 or how about a look at some castles and Roman ruins or watch a rugby match or a game of cricket, there is even an FA Cup game on the BBC tonight so how about some uninterrupted viewing without someone trying to flog you something every 10 minutes. 
If none of the above entices you to tell Hillary to take over now, how about proper gun laws where the only guns you will see will be worn by the military guarding installations, that has to be a bit more tempting for your retirement than Florida. We also have no dangerous animals so no chance that a bear will eat you although you may get chased by a grumpy badger.
Of course, we do have Piers Morgan on TV here and it rains most of the time but it is a small price to pay so give the Clinton's a call and tell them you are staying here and if anybody wants you to call the Fleet and Firkin as you will be there with the teenagers watching the Everton game and seeing how many Kinder Eggs you can fit in your mouth at one time.

Another St George's Day Over

Around the 4th Century in Libya, a town was being terrorised by a dragon and the villagers would feed it sheep to appease it but gradually they ran out of sheep so the King devised a lottery system to feed it local children.
One day his own daughter was chosen and as she was being led out to the lake a Turkish knight named George happened to ride past and offered to slay the dragon if the people converted to Christianity. They all did, the dragon was slayed and the English decided to call him a Saint and dedicated the 23rd April to celebrating him.
Critics may point out that saving the girl in exchange for a mass conversion wasn't very generous and a better man would have saved the girl and killed the dragon for nothing but let's not be picky.
As well as England, St George is also the patron saint of Portugal, Venice, Beirut, Malta, Ethiopia, Georgia, the Palestinian territories, Cyprus, Serbia and Lithuania but besides that we still claim him as our own and each year some berk appears on TV wearing a suit of armour and bang on Patriotically about what England means, which it turns out is very little.
Unlike the Irish with St Patrick, the Welsh with St David or even the Scots with St Andrew, St Georges Day passes with hardly a flicker of recognition or interest from one of the countries that he is the patron Saint of and we seem perfectly fine with that and we would probably have had him up for cruelty to animals if he tried that killing dragons bit these days.

That River Is A Fire Hazard!

Fracking along the Condamine River in Queensland, Australia has long troubled the local community and after the visit of Australian MP Jeremy Buckingham they are terrified as he threw in a match and the river full of pollutants exploded.    
Locals suspected that methane was seeping into the water from the fracking wells spread along the Queensland river and the leakage has gained in intensity since operations grew in volume.
MP Jeremy Buckingham travelled to the area to investigate and in that time honoured tradition of checking if something is flammable, he put a flame to it.
'I was shocked by the force of the explosion' he said after checking if he still had his eyebrows before describing how it happily burnt for over an hour.
Locals first noticed methane bubbling into their waterways in 2012 close to where fracking wells had been drilling and as more and more fracking wells have began fracking along the river, the bubbling has intensified and is spreading to a greater length of the river.
Quite rightly the locals are worried about their drinking water as more and more evidence is shown that fracking not only caused earthquakes in local areas but contaminates the water supply but in a brilliant piece of understatement one local watching the fire, scratched his head and said to camera 'It's a river, it shouldn't be doing that'.
Indeed Sir, you shouldn't be able to set water on fire but it's further proof that fracking is not good for us or the environment and will not only cause the earth to shift beneath our feet but also poison our water.
On the plus side though if it turns a bit chilly we can always set fire to our rivers to keep warm.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Prince Joins The Infamous 2016 Deaths List

This really is not a good year to be famous as Prince joins the infamous list of celebrities that have died so far in 2016.
The singer was briefly hospitalised last week for a flu emergency and cancelled two shows because of the illness.
For all the hits and the songs he wrote for other people, he will probably be best remembered for the song Purple Rain but i would put the song he wrote for The Bangles, 'Manic Monday' as his highlight. 
He did lose his way in the 90s when he changed his name to symbol and the hits dried up but he was another performer who i grew up hearing on the radio with songs such as Sign of the Times, When Doves Cry, Little Red Corvette, 1999, Kiss, Let's Go Crazy, Raspberry Beret.
The songs he wrote for other people are also an amazing list, 'Nothing Compares 2 U' by Sinead O'Connor, 'I feel for you' by Chaka Khan and the brilliant 'Manic Monday' by The Bangles.
The great 2016 cull of celebrities is still going strong it seems.

UK Issues US Travel Warning

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have issued an advisory notice to homosexuals that they need to be careful when travelling in America due to the US being: 'extremely diverse' when it comes to LGBT people.
Mississippi and North Carolina come in for the need for extra precaution as they have recently passed new laws which allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT people.
'It is both frightening and embarrassing that one of our nation's staunchest allies is warning its citizens of the risks of travelling to the US' said Ty Cobb of the Human Rights Campaign.
'It is now more clear than ever that these terrible measures are not only harming individuals and taking an economic toll on the states, but are also causing serious damage to our nation's reputation, and the perceived safety of LGBT people who travel here'.
Companies are curtailing their businesses in the states because of the law, and several entertainers have cancelled performances in both states over the law.
And we thought the only problem America had was the bat-crazy gun laws it holds and the scary religious fervour, now it has added rampant homophobia to its list of reasons the country has taken a wrong turn recently.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Happy 90th Birthday Liz

It's Her Royal Majesty's Queen Elizabeth 2 Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the other countries where we knocked off the natives 90th birthday today. Happy Birthday Ma'am.
The common consensus seems to be that she looks good for an 90 year old and i admit that she does look particularly peachy and healthy although she does wear some strikingly silly hats which we could kindly put down to her failing eyesight.
The Royals do tend to live long and healthy lives, much to the annoyance of Prince Charles, but i know the Royal secret to living to a fair old age and looking a picture of health in your 90s, do very little.
That's the Royals secret. They do nothing whatsoever. Wave at the plebs dutifully lining the streets every now and then and remember to feed the corgi's while having your every whim seen to by an army of maids and butlers, but that's it.
Once a year she has to drag herself in front of a TV camera at Christmas and waffle about her Commonwealth and what a good year it's been for her family and then she has the other 364 days, 23 hours and 45 minutes free to flounce off around the World and read about her Grandchildren getting drunk or jetting off on another holiday somewhere.
So it's Happy Birthday Lizzie, I'm sure you will have many more. Now get a proper job and stop taking us for tens of millions each year.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Green Moon April 20th

The best myths are those that sound as if they could be plausible so i have been asked if the Moon will really be turning green on April 20th and again on May 29th.
The science behind it is that several planets are going to align and Earth's closest neighbour will change colour as the moon will be just 4 degrees from the green-hued planet Uranus in the sky, and will acquire a green sheen from the close interaction which will last for about 90 minutes.
The last time this happened was way back in the year 1596 apparently when Queen Elizabeth I enjoyed the view from the balcony of Richmond Palace.
Altogether it makes sense, the moon does turn red after all so why not green so if anybody asks say yes and let them stand outside in the cold for an hour and a half watching the grey moon stay grey while you watch the TV in peace.

We Don't LIke Mondays

Someone once said the only things in life you can be certain of are death and paying taxes so the second part obviously rules out it being said by David Cameron's family but although he may dodge paying taxes, he won't avoid casting off the mortal coil because the Grim Reaper visits us all at some point, usually on a Saturday as it turns out.
Researchers have looked at records of deaths between 1999 and 2014 and found that most people die of a heart attack on a Monday, pneumonia or flu on a Tuesday, a car crash, drug overdose or contact with a venomous animal on a Saturday and death from a firearm on a Sunday.
The least amount of deaths occurred on Thursdays so if you are going to drive while suffering with the flu to tangle with a venomous animal, best do it on a Thursday.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Sir Claudio Ranieri (Honoury Class)

Only a British citizen can actually be knighted by the Queen but as we are a decent bunch here we do hand out 'honoury' knighthoods to deserving foreigners although they still can't call yourself 'Sir' or 'Madam', they can steer sheep up Brighton High Street or something ridiculous.
One such Johnny Foreigner being lined up for a bit of paper with Knighthood (Honoury Class) printed at the top is Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri in recognition of leading his team to the Premier League title, if they do win it of course.
The Italian said: 'Sir Claudio?! Unbelievable. I like this' before someone pointed out that as he isn't British he will still be called plain old Claudio Ranieri, only Claudio Ranieri with a nicely typed letter from the secretary of the Queens butler responsible for changing light bulbs or some such.
Britain does have a bit of a chequered history of handing out honoury knighthoods, previous recipients have included Robert Mugabe, Benito Mussolini, Nicolae Ceaușescu, Franz Joseph I of Austria, Prince Leopold of Bavaria, Colin Powell, Emperor Wilhelm II and Emperor Hirohito. Oops.
I have nothing against Claudio becoming an honoury Knight, unless of course he leaves football management to team up with an Austrian to invade most of Europe or present dodgy evidence about WMD's at the United Nations in which case him and his sheep will most certainly not be welcome in Brighton High Street.

Nice To Meet You Obama

President Obama arrives in Britain this week and he is in for a busy time as his schedule includes
wishing the Queen a happy 90th, chatting with David Cameron about Syria and Islamic State (not Libya though) and trying to dissuade us Brits from leaving the European Union.
Obama went from hero to zero a long time ago in Europe so it will be interesting to see if anyone listens or actually cares what Obama thinks any more, especially the Brexiters who have already made it known that they don't want him here, Boris Johnson launching a pre-emptive attack on the Americans 'naked hypocrisy' over their refusal to sign up to the International Criminal Court.
I'm not sure if we should be taking advice from someone whose country is currently running a deficit of $19 trillion but David Cameron needs something to divert the attention away from his dodgy tax dealings and he is doing untold damage to the EU Remain campaign just by having his name attached to it so come over Obama and be a distraction.   
I can't guarantee you won't have people shouting at you for Libya, drones etc but at least you won't get the same reception the last US President got, he got tens of thousands people out to greet him, all with banners and some with eggs.

Boaty McBoatface Would Be A Great Name

Some are calling it the greatest test of democracy in modern times. No, Not the EU referendum but the naming of the  Natural Environment Research Council new research ship.
The NERC threw the naming of their new ship over to the public and the polls have closed and the Research Council have confirmed that the votes were overwhelmingly in favour of RRS Boaty McBoatface which received four four times more votes than the second placed name, RRS Poppy Mai.
The NERC have said that they will now review all the names put forward and have previously put out a warning that the final decision will be made by the chief executive of the NERC, Duncan Wingham.
Now the NERC face the dilemma of choosing between the overwhelming choice of the public who they asked to name it and the public spoke or throw Democracy in the bin and dismiss the public and name it something proper which makes a mockery of them asking the public to name it in the first place.
Personally i think RSS Boaty McBoatface would be great not only for publicity when it launches which would make it easily the most famous boat in Britain but it would also generate some amazing publicity and interest in what it is actually doing.  
The other two NERC boats are called RRS James Cook and RRS Discovery and who has ever heard of them so having one RRS Boaty McBoatface would be a massive bonus as whenever it is on the news, everyone will know exactly what it is and what it is doing

Setting A Precedent

In 1967, Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria and have occupied it ever since.
Now Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will never withdraw and 'the time has come after 40 years for the international community to finally recognise that the Golan Heights will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever'.
There you go Russia, all you need to do is keep hold of Crimea for another 38 years and it's yours, unless of course there is one rule for an illegal Israeli land grab and another for everyone else.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Pastafarian Weddings Ahoy

Followers of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster call themselves Pastafarians and they have have staged their first legally recognised wedding dressed as pirates which is a stipulation of the Church's guidelines.
Members of the church profess the belief that the world was created by an airborne spaghetti and meatballs-based being and humans evolved from pirates and Toby Ricketts and Marianna Fenn have the honour of being the first to tie the Pastafarian 'noodle knot' conducted by the 'Ministeroni'.
More weddings are planned although the recognised Church's are a bit sniffy about the atheist Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster mocking religion and muscling in on their marriage racket.
I suspect the real problem is they fear religious people will look at the idea of humans being created by a monster made of pasta and think its absurd and then say hang on, we believe a man sitting on a cloud made humans from a mound of earth and a rib and put them in a magic garden with a talking snake..WHAT ARE WE DOING!!!

Wanna Swap PM's Canada?

Of all our former colonies, Canada has always been Britain's favourite child (seal bashing aside) and not only is it a magnificent looking country who refuse to be corrupted by it's mouth neighbour, it may just have the  perfect leader also.
Step forward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who is not only a very handsome man and former model, but by all accounts is a great dancer who personally went to greet refugees at the airport, is an outspoken feminist and devoted lefty so what's not to like?
Some jealous types may say ok, so he may all of the above but i bet he's as dumb as a post and he was put to the test by a journalist who asked him to explain quantum computing during a visit to a physics research institute in Ontario on Friday.
Trudeau replied: 'Very simply, normal computers work either there's power going through a wire or not. It's one or a zero. They're binary systems. What quantum states allow for is much more complex information to be encoded into a single bit. A regular computer bit is either a one or a zero - on or off - a quantum state can be much more complex than that because, as we know, things can be both particle and wave at the same times, and the uncertainty around quantum states allows us to encode more information into a much smaller computer. So that's what's so exciting about quantum computing'.
He has the brains, the looks, can dance and is finally a leader from across that side of the Atlantic who isn't out to screw everybody over. 
I may well have a new favourite World leader, take care of him Canada and if you want to swap him for David Cameron give us a call. We would throw in George Osborne as well for spares.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Making IS Laugh

If we need a solution to anything, it seem that the music world is where we should be turning which is why we had Bono at the American Senate subcommittee on Capitol Hill and his suggestion for dealing with Islamic State is to send in the clowns.
Bono suggested that comedians should be sent to counter IS stressing that: 'If you laugh at them it takes away their power' and then went on to suggest Amy Schumer, Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen should be deployed to Syria.
Rather than shouting 'Security!!' at the top of their lungs, Senators said that it was one of the things that they have already considered.
Firstly why was Bono asked to attend a Senate subcomittee anyway and did the Americans seriously think the best way to save civilians from being killed and make the ISIS fighters drop their weapons was a few showings of Borat?
What if Bono has a point though, after all we have tried arming them, disarming them, supporting them and then trying to blow them up and nothing has worked so far so hey Mohammad, put down that rocket launcher, I've got a joke for you!

What do you call a dead member of ISIS? WASWAS
Have you heard about ISIS’s new inflatable sex dolls? They blow themselves up!
Anonymous have declared war on ISIS. Ironic that they’re now being attacked by 72 virgins
Did you hear about the Catholic ISIS fighter? He was a Shite Muslim.
What do you call a drunken Muslim? Mohammered.
What do ISIS men do during foreplay? Tickle the goat under the chin.
What do you call a muslim Elvis impersonator? Amal Shookup
What do you call an unemployed Muslim? Bin Laidoff.

Thank you very much, i'm here all week.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Stairway To Copyright Infringement

I think the judge was being kind when he said that the Led Zeppelin song 'Stairway to Heaven' has similarities to the Spirit song 'Taurus' because anyone with even a half decent pair of working ears can hear the same tune.
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page now face a jury over copyright infringement amidst claims that they stole the opening chords from the band they toured with in 1968 and 1969.
The Zeppelin's tried to have the case dismissed as the defendants are British citizens residing in England and therefore could not be tried by an American court but the judge dismissed the appeal and ordered the trial to continue.
It isn't the first time Led Zeppelin have been accused of nicking other peoples tunes, the band has already been forced to alter the credits and pay portions of their royalties for songs such as 'Babe I'm Gonna Leave You' and 'Whole Lotta Love' so they do have previous in the infringement of copyright area.
Especially galling is the BBC interview where Jimmy Page explains how he created the tune and not once mentioned how he scribbled it down when he heard Taurus played it.
Stairway to Heaven is a great song but how Plant and Page can keep up the pretence that they wrote it one weekend while locked away in a cottage in Wales is giving no credit to anyone who isn't completely deaf.
If you are going to plagiarise someone else's tune at east have the brass nuggets to credit them for it when you get caught rather than continue to make up a story about how you did it.   
Green Day should be worried because a good portion of their tunes seem to have come from the mind of someone else and isn't it about time the Eagles came clean over the Hotel California tune which obviously came courtesy of Jethro Tull.

The Church v Galileo

On this day in 1633, the Catholic Church began the inquisition of astronomer Galileo Galilei. Galileo was on trial for holding the belief that the Earth revolved around the Sun, which was deemed heretical by the Church.
Galileo refused to accept Church orthodoxy that the Sun moved around the Earth and was an absolute fact of scripture that could not be disputed, arguing instead that the Earth was not the centre of the universe.
On June 22, 1633, the Church handed down the following order: 'We pronounce, judge, and declare, that you, the said Galileo have rendered yourself vehemently suspected by this Holy Office of heresy, that is, of having believed and held the doctrine which is false and contrary to the Holy and Divine Scriptures that the sun is the centre of the world, and that it does not move from east to west, and that the earth does move, and is not the centre of the world'.
Along with the order came the following penalty: “We order that by a public edict the book of Dialogues of Galileo Galilei be prohibited, and We condemn thee to the prison of this Holy Office during Our will and pleasure; and as a salutary penance We enjoin on thee that for the space of three years thou shalt recite once a week the Seven Penitential Psalms.”
Galileo  Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment but because of his age and poor health, he was allowed to serve his imprisonment under house arrest where he spent the rest of his life.
In 1992, after a 13 year investigation, the Roman Catholic Church admitted it had been wrong to condemn Galileo Galilei for promoting the Copernican astronomical theory.
It took 359 years for the Church to catch up with science which makes you wonder just where we would be if the Church was not replaced by science as the source of our knowledge. 

Monday, 11 April 2016

Cameron's Tax Nightmare

So now we know that David Cameron wasn't playing dodgy with his offshore arrangements to avoid paying tax, he was demonstrating good 'wealth management'.
The Prime Minister is having a nightmare trying to wiggle out of how how he avoided paying tax on the money that was 'hidden' away, first trying to ignore it, then releasing five press statements in four days which ranged from it being a 'private matter' to the final 'i received £300,000 from the Trust' but now he has reached for the last straw, the emotional.
Cameron accused critics of his financial affairs of trashing the memory of his 'hardworking and wonderful dad' with the 'deeply hurtful and profoundly untrue allegations made against my father'.
Luckily, the House of Commons didn't fall for it and carried on harassing him, Labour leader Jeremy Corben questioning him on the £72,000 worth of shares he sold and if that was also the result of offshore tax havens.
The Labour MP, Dennis Skinner, was then thrown out of the Commons for refusing to withdraw his description of the Prime Minister as 'dodgy Dave'.
To further complicate matters for the PM, the man overseeing the official enquiry into any wrongdoing arising from the Panama Papers tax leaks was a former partner at the law firm that acted for Blairmore Holdings, the Panama-registered fund created by David Cameron’s father, and other offshore companies named in the leak.
Cameron is really having a nightmare and after what he has done to the country with his ideologically driven austerity measures, it's brilliant to see him up against it and twisting so badly in the wind and it is a toss up between his legacy being his dodgy tax avoidance or his lewd pig antics.

No American Apology For Hiroshima

During his lifetime, Enola Gay crew member Theodore Van Kirk, said that he had been asked many times if he regretted what his team did that day and he said: 'I have never apologised for what we did to Hiroshima and i never will. I was proud to be on the Enola Gay'.
United States leaders have avoided Hiroshima since that day in 1945 because of political sensitivities but John Kerry was there today but no apology for what his country did to Japan tumbled from his lips and a senior American official travelling with Kerry, it was never going to.
'We will revisit the past and honour those who perished" Kerry said as he met with Japanese dignitaries.
No answers to why America chose a civilian city with no military significance and why the weapon was not used against a military target.
Neither why they targeted so many innocent people and why a show of strength on one of the uninhabited islands with a warning that this could be one of your cities next time was not the option.
I get that it was during war-time but to drop such a horrific weapon, and then drop another one days later, killing so many civilians when the Japanese were negotiating an end to hostilities just stinks.    
What the US did against Hiroshima and Nagasaki is amongst the roll call of humanities greatest atrocities where almost a quarter of a million people died instantly, mostly innocent civilians, so damn sure they should apologise, 'honouring them' for being on the end of American brutality is not enough.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Don't Hug A Brit

I blame the Teletubbies. In most episodes of the children’s TV show, following a minor accident such as a milk spillage or a lost balloon the call would go up for a 'Big hug' and the assembled company would huddle for a communal embrace.
Now everyone raised under the regime of Tinky Winky and Co seem to be hugging everyone and there is even a campaign to 'Hug a Brit' from our fellow Europeans to shows UK some love in hope of avoiding Brexit.
People from across Europe are now apparently seeking out Brits to throw their arms around but they couldn't have picked a worse nation to embrace because Brits don't do hugs.
That isn't strictly true, as i have said above, anyone born after 1993-ish and raised watching the frolics in Teletubbyland are perfectly at ease hugging each other but move in for an embrace with a Brit over the age of 25 and the recoil will be swifter than the elastic on Dennis The Menace's catapult.
Britain is a country of stiff upper lip and understatement, where we resolutely refuses to succumb to drama, excitement, or high emotion like the airplane captain who announced to his passengers: 'Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress'.
That's the way to do it, when Capt Oates left his tent near the South Pole to his certain death, he said: ‘I may be some time’, he didn't demand a group hug first.
To adapt the old phrase, no hugging please, we’re British so unless you are direct family then a hearty handshake or a friendly wave will suffice.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Earth Throwing A Wobbly

Jelly, weebles and my Uncle Fred after a night in the Nags Head are all things that wobble but we can
also include the earth which wobbles on its axis although thanks to Global warming the Earth's wobble is changing.
Melting ice sheets, especially in Greenland, are changing the distribution of weight on Earth which has caused the wobble to change course, according to a new NASA study.
Scientists have been measuring the wobble since 1899 and for almost the entire 20th century it migrated a bit toward Canada but that has changed and now it’s moving toward England.
'The recent shift from the 20th-century direction is very dramatic' said a NASA spokesman before saying the shift is harmless but 'highlights how real and profoundly large an impact humans are having on the planet'.
'Since 2003, Greenland has lost on average more than 272 trillion kilograms of ice a year, and that affects the way the Earth wobbles in a manner similar to a figure skater lifting one leg while spinning, said Nasa scientist Eirk Ivins, the study’s co-author.
'On top of that, West Antarctica loses 124 trillion kgs of ice and East Antarctica gains about 74 trillion kgs of ice yearly, helping tilt the wobble further' Ivins said.
What they don't explain is what it means for Canada who no longer have the direction of wobble and England who now has it but i do expect to see a raise in wobble deniers, people who refuse to accept that the Earth is wobbling at all although i think m Uncle Fred may have just found the perfect excuse why he leans to one side on a Saturday night.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Oh Grow Up

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce Susan Garden, Liberal Democrat life peer.

Lady Garden....

Planet Nine Conspiracy Theory

I do love a good conspiracy theory and pride myself on knowing most of them but but i heard one today that seems to have passed me by but inevitably ends with us all being killed horribly.
Scientists have began a search for the elusive ninth planet which they think may be orbiting on the outer edge of our solar system and they have encouraging initial evidence that Planet Nine really exists and attempting to get observational evidence.
So far so good, since Pluto got booted out of the Planet Club we have a space for a new Planet but conspiracy theorists have leapt to the conclusion that Planet Nine must be 'Planet X' which is destined to destroy Earth at some point this month.
The theory is that 'Planet X will sweep through the inner Solar System causing Earth to undergo a physical pole shift that would destroy most of humanity according to Russian author Zecharia Sitchin who named the planet Nibiru and based his findings on Babylonian and Sumerian mythology.
Please bear in mind that the original date for our destruction by the new Planet was 2003 but this was postponed when 2004 turned up and we were still here so i am going to go out on a limb and say that this can be filed under 'one for the crazies' and we can look forward to still being here for the Eurovision song contest in May where i have my own conspiracy theory that we have entered a song so monstrously bad that we have no chance of winning so avoid the cost of having to stage it next year, austerity and all that.

Do As Say...Not As I Have Never Done

Considering that the Pope has never had sex, been married or has children, it is always fun when they try and lecture on issues such as sex, marriage and raising children but the Pope has been trying to tell his flock how they should deal with these thorny issues.
In a 256-page document called 'The Joy of Love', the reiterates his Church's opposition to the legal recognition of gay relationships which won't come as a surprise to anyone.
'There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family' he droned adding his sympathy to families with gay relatives, a situation: 'not easy for parents or for children'.
Next up was couples who live together outside of marriage who need to be 'guided, patiently and discreetly' and then it was the raising of children who should be taught manners, punished for misbehaviour, cured of the vice of "wanting it all now" and prevented from watching TV programmes which undercut family values.
The people who still pay any attention to religious leaders are thankfully reducing in numbers as the decades pass and one day in the future we will look back at 2000 years of turmoil caused by religion and ask 'did people really do that?'
Next week, Charlie Sheen on abstinence.

The Truth Finally From Cameron

It went along the lines of no, no, no, no, okay yes then so finally we get to the bottom of David Cameron's father off shore tax affairs, not illegal, but dodgy as hell. 
Apart from the fact that he tried to hide the fact that he was a holder of shares in the trust set up abroad in order to avoid paying UK Tax and cashing them in to earn himself a cool £30,000, Cameron is now damaged goods and he is leading the 'Stay In Europe' Campaign.
A majority of Britons, some 57%, trust Prime Minister David Cameron less now than they did a week ago, a Sky Data Snap Poll reveals.
There are also questions about the PM's inheritance of £300,000 from his father which all means that throw in the awfully handled steel crisis and Budget U-turns, Mr Cameron faces a massive problem of trust which the 'out' campaign are already trading on and could well skewer the EU referendum which could become a vote on Cameron rather than whether we stay in or leave Europe.
The truth had to be dragged out of him over the course of a week after many denials and half truths and he caved in because he had no choice so you do wonder what else is he hiding, what else will have to be dragged out of him and it throws into question his already shaky credibility as Prime Minister.
He probably won't step down as Prime Minister, the candidates to take over are just as illusionary right wing as him, but he should step down from leading the 'Out' campaign because this may well lose it for us.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

One Way Or Another

It was reported yesterday that the world’s overall military expenditure grew by one percent last year, reaching $1.7 trillion.
Today's cheerful report is from Amnesty International which found a surge in the number of executions taking place worldwide which means more people were killed by the state last year than at any point since 1989.
At least 1,634 people were officially put to death in 2015, and Amnesty estimates thousand of people more were killed in China, where records are kept secret.
Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were responsible for almost 90 per cent of recorded executions.
With 28 people executed, the US came in at number five on the list.
Saudi Arabia has also seen a huge spike in executions, the annual number of which have risen 76 per cent in 2015 on 2014. The usual method of execution is beheading.
Seems that between the state killing its own people and the increase in buying equipment to kill other countries people we are doing a depressingly fine job of killing each other.

Happy New Financial Year!

It may not have the fun or involve as much alcoholic content as the one in January but today is the start of the new year, the new tax year that is.
Of course if you have not got a father as diligent as the Prime Minister's to squirrell funds to an offshore account to keep them out of hands of the taxman then your tax will be taken out of your wages when you get paid but only if you earn above £916 per month if your tax code is 1100L (11,000 personal allowances divided by 12 months).  
It has been estimated that as many as 20% of the tax codes issued by HM Revenue & Customs are incorrect so you may want to check your tax code on that next payslip and if it isn't 1100L telephone one of the the 3 people left working at HMRC and after a 4 hour wait listening to classical music, inquire why your code isn't the same as everyone else. 
That pretty much sums up all i know about taxes so remember tax doesn't have to be taxing as the HMRC advert goes and happy new financial year and it certainly will be if you are on the books of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Beginning Of The End For Trump?

It had to come to a grinding halt at some point, mostly because he has annoyed pretty much everyone at some point but it could be this is where the wheels come of the Trump-mobile.
Thank heavens for that, he was a raving nutter you may say but if the Republicans don't forward Donald Trump then it will be Ted Cruz and in the fine tradition of American right-wingers, he is also loony tune.
Everyone has seen the clip where the mad fundamentalist Christian finishes his rant that gay's should be killed in keeping with the Bible before warmly shaking hands with the Canadian born politician who bounds onto the stage to push his Christian credentials to the audience. 
Against free health care, a climate change denier and wants to expand oil drilling, anti-abortion, pro-gun, opposes same sex marriage, called the thaw in relations with Cuba as a 'tragic mistake' and favours the death penalty.
Throw in that he is even more scarily religious then George W Bush and even John McCain called him a 'whacko' and it seems the Republicans get to choose from either the racist clown or the bible quoting joker.
Luckily the race isn't just between those two and the Democrats are expected to roll over whichever one gets the nod but the Democrats have Hillary Clinton who seems to be a pathological liar who you would trust as far as you could throw an intern in the Oval Office and she may yet be taken out of the race by the FBI who are currently in the midst of a full criminal investigation over her use of a private email server while Secretary of State.
With the exception of Bernie Sanders, the wanna-be President field look a rag-tag bunch at best and a worrying group of men and women with more loose screws than a third hand Austin Allegro.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Highest And Lowest Paid World Leaders

The fall out from the Panama Papers has began and the first victim is the Icelandic Prime Minister,
Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who has resigned over his dodgy dealings with a tax haven in the British Virgin Islands.
With David Cameron's late father being exposed as holding millions in off shore funds he is quite correctly being questioned over his own income which he explained is just his MP salary and rent from his house that he rents as he stays at Number 10 Downing Street.
According to Richestlifestyle.com, the British Prime Minister receives a salary of £151,879 which made him the 13th highest paid World Leader in 2015.
The highest paid is the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, who pocketed £1,200,904 last year followed by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, CY Leung, who saw his bank account swell by £374,399 last year.
American President Barack Obama was the third highest paid with his £282,565 and the man who was once the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbot, could buy £243,712 worth of beer with his annual salary in 2015.
The remainder of the top ten is made up of Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland (£240,180), Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg – (£240,000), Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada – (£209,381) John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand – (£204,860), Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany – (£200,344) and Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa – (£192,144)

At the other end of the list, the lowest paid leaders in 2015 were Micky Sall of Senegal who took home £11,017 then Beji Caid Essebsi, President of Tunisia who is on £11,582 and spare a thought for poor old Xi Jinping who scrapes by on £15,749 and Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India and recipient of an annual salary of £20,339.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Be Smart, Eat Chocolate

If it comes from people in white coats with pens in their top pockets then it must be true so i am fully behind the results from Northumbria University which have found that eating chocolate improves the brain’s ability to do maths.
They found that mental arithmetic became easier after volunteers had been given large amounts of chocolate or cocoa drinks.
The findings suggest students who binge on chocolate when revising for exams may gain a real benefit from doing so.
The science part is that part of a group of chemicals called polyphenols found in chocolate increase the flow of blood into the brain.
Dark chocolate contains higher quantities of the chemical than plain or milk chocolate but the polyphenols are also found in fruit and vegetables but let's skip over that part.
So don't feel guilty about the body weight of Easter eggs scoffed over Easter, think of it as a scientifically proven preparation for any maths challenge that you may face and if you don't face one, bonus!!

Future Humans

Evolution has seen us come down from the trees, shed our body hair and walk upright but it didn't just stop there and humans have continued to change ever since and not all of it in a good way.
Girls now hit puberty earlier at an average of 10.5 years old now compared with 12.5 in 1980 while the human sense of smell is weakening, human brains have shrunk by 10% over the last 20,000 years and we are an average 4.6 inches taller than we were at the turn of the 20th Century.
Food allergies have risen 50% since 1997, childhood obesity has increased by 60% since 1990 and there has been an amazing 615% increase in allergic reactions since 1992.
Throw in the 20% loss of bone mass and the 50% increase in nearsightedness since 1950 and it does make you wonder what humans will become as we continue down the evolutionary road.
Our future relations will be obviously going to be taller, fatter, weaker and unable to read newspapers properly or at least those who are not hospitalised with broken bones or swollen like balloons from allergic reactions anyway.

Jokes For Intellectuals

If you get the following jokes, then hats off to you, you are officially a smarty pants, if you don't
not to worry, what you call an Irishman who sits outside all day? Paddy O'Furniture.

1. What do you get if you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?
2. Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn’t.
3. I tried walking up a hill without a watch but had neither the time nor the inclination.
4. What's the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don't know and I don't care.
5. A lady walks into a bar and asks for a double entendre so the barman gave her one.
6. If you are cold stand in a corner as they are usually around 90 degrees.
7. A German asks for a martini. "Dry?" says the bartender. "Nein, just one."
8. Pavlov is sitting at a bar, when all of the sudden the phone rings. Pavlov gasps, "Oh no, I forgot to feed the dogs".
9. How many Marxists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, the lightbulb contains the seeds of its own revolution.
10. I have kleptomania, but when it gets bad, I take something for it.

Giving Up On NATO

NATO turns 67 today but it would a fair comment to ask since the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991, what exactly is it still knocking around for?
Since Gorby pulled the plug and the Berlin Wall fell over when Nirvana were in the charts, NATO has been at a bit of a loose end but instead of disbanding, the organization needed to justify its existence and fell upon the idea of 'humanitarian interventions'.
With nobody to keep the West safe from, the NATO that emerged from 1991 was less about maintaining the security of its members and more about Western aggression in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and in NATO’s most recent display of its commitment to peace, called for the implementation of a no-fly zone in Libya and then proceeded to bomb it.
Since 2013 NATO's previous enemy has been shifted back into the gun sights, over-hyping a Russian threat and building up Vladimir Putin as a bogeyman to keep us safe from, telling us that has been on the verge of invading it's neighbours for about the past two years now.
US presidential candidate Donald Trump is a babbling idiot but even he considers NATO 'obsolete' and he is is right, it is and has been for a while.
Today NATO exists for no good reason, imagining threats where none exist to justify its continuing existence but it’s time to call it a day, NATO is not needed and it should lower its flag and trundle off into the sunset.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Panama Papers

Tax evasion has been one of those subjects that leaders talk big but do little about, a leak of million of documents naming heads of state and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens could explain why.
Named the Panama Papers, have been leaked from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm whose services include incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands and administering offshore firms and also a services called 'wealth management'.
The leaked data covers nearly 40 years, from 1977 through the end of 2015 and has been labelled 'the biggest leak in journalistic history' as it contains 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm and has been made available through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
It should be noted that while using offshore structures is entirely legal and there are many legitimate reasons for doing so, in a speech last year in Singapore, David Cameron said: 'the corrupt, criminals and money launderers take advantage of anonymous company structures' and that 'The government is trying to do something about this' and that it will set up a register to reveal the beneficial owners of offshore companies.
Embarrassingly one of the names included in the twelve national leaders, 143 politicians, celebrities and sports personalities and their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens is Ian Cameron, David Cameron's late father.
British politicians include six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and dozens of donors to UK political parties who have had offshore assets. Named so far are Baroness Sharples, MP Michael Mates and Lord Michael Ashcroft.
Accusations were made against several acting heads of states, including Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko, as well as former heads of states, including Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
Accusations were also made against footballer Lionel Messi and friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, former UEFA President Michel Platini, FIFA executive Jerome Valcke, movie star Jackie Chan, golfer Nick Faldo and Leicester City sriker Leonardo Ulloa.
The files expose offshore companies controlled by Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, and the children of the president of Azerbaijan and Kojo Annan who is the son of ex-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The families of at least eight current and former members of China's supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore.
As with many of Mossack Fonseca’s clients, there is no evidence that any of the above used their offshore companies for improper purposes and having an offshore company isn’t illegal although morally, they are on very dodgy ground and the relevant tax authorities will be the ones to decide of any wrongdoing.

Bicycle Ridin'

The government have a plan to get more people cycling in Britain and will spend £316m over the next five years by creating more bicycle lanes and bicycle shelters.
The UK's largest cycling charity, Cyclists Touring Club, are not impressed though, saying more is needed to be done to bring us up to the standard of the country with the best cycling facilities the Netherlands saying that: 'The UK lags 200 years behind the Dutch on cycling'.
My calendar shows the year is 2016, Wikipedia shows the first bicycle was invented in 1817 so according to the Cyclists Touring Club in cycling terms we are at the level of 1716 when we were gazing at two wheels, a chain and a couple of pedals and saying 'well i'm buggered if i know what to do with it'.
Obviously, as i narrowly manage to avoid killing several cyclists each day as they weeve around me we have moved on from that stage so either the Cyclist Touring Club have been wearing their helmets too tight or the Dutch were careering around Amsterdam on bicycles in 1716 narrowly avoiding handcarts and flicking v signs at horse and cart drivers.
Maybe someone at the Cyclists Touring Club should spend less time squeezing into too tight Lycra shorts and worrying about tightening their dust caps and spend more on working out how a calendar works.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Socialism Making Inroads In USA

If the Bernie Sanders presidential bid has shown anything, it is that America is suddenly awash with Socialists, millions of them in fact.
In a nation that has long been resistant to Socialism’s call, deliberately or ignorantly confusing it with its bigger brother Communism, it seems a bit strange that suddenly they are loud and proud about their beliefs but where did they come from and what do they mean by socialism?
Polls show that the vast majority of people who call themselves 'Socialist' are under the age of 30 which may go some way to explain it.
It was the same age group of Americans who said that they looked positively upon the message of Occupy Wall Street, that the 1% has flourished at the expense of the 99%. The collapse of Capitalism in America with the record levels of inequality, scant economic opportunities and a $19 trillion debt has not gone unnoticed and it was the youth who took up the stand and in looking for a fairer way of running society discovered Socialism.
The largest factor though was the length of time since the collapse of Soviet Communism which has allowed younger Americans to identify Socialism with the social democratic nations of Western Europe, all of which suffer from less economic inequality and its attendant woes than the United States.
With Socialism and Communism interchangeable above the more ignorant over 30s (and still very much ignorant about it today it appears) the minds of the under 30s are not muddied by such things as Stalin, Lenin or Castro and see content Socialist nations such as the Scandinavians in Western Europe and say they want some of that.   
They see the declining economic conditions in America, where only the rich are rewarded and that appears to be the key to why today there are now Socialists by the millions in America.
For many of them Capitalism was tried and failed horrendously and the under 30s are looking for a new way and though late to the party, young Americans seem immune to the tales of the USSR bogeyman which was used as a stick to beat Socialism and have discovered that Socialism is the place to go.
Even if Bernie doesn't make his way in this time around, in 4 years time, if those tens of millions can collect around a central figure like they have Bernie Sanders and the Socialist ideal can continue to be forced onto the agenda (and Capitalism continues to mess with so many young lives), European style Socialism could be coming soon to America soon enough. 

When A.I Turns Bad

Artificial Intelligence has been in the news recently, the AlphaGo A.I. built by Google DeepMind, won a tournament against a top-ranked human player of the game of Go and then Microsofts Tay became corrupted and turned into a racist, sexist genocidal maniac within 24 hours of interaction with humans and had to be taken out by her creators.
It would assume that Microsoft took all the precautions to stop Tay turning into a robotic version of Donald Trump but they seem to have failed miserably, and in such a short time.
The problem with Artificial Intelligence is that there is always going to be some form of human interaction even if it is writing the software and letting it loose to learn itself.
If you look at the annals of human history, you’ll discover that despite being taught what is right or wrong, people are still capable of unimaginable evil. Just look at the list of genocidal maniacs in our role call and if humans are capable of so much wickedness, what hinders a powerful AI from doing the same?
It could be that a future super intelligent AI works out that humans are the weak link in the chain and therefore the best course of action is to remove us, permanently.
I wouldn't rely on the Asimov 3 Laws of robotics to save us either. It may seem a watertight case to protect humans but it can be easily overridden.

1 - A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2 - A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3 - A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.[1]

Perfectly sensible you may think but Asimov's laws depend upon the definition of 'human' given to the robots and that is almost impossible to cover completely so the robot could quite happily wipe us out without contravening any of the three laws as they wouldn't be killing 'humans' by their understanding of the definition.

Tata Steel Confusion

I'm not sure that i understand the Tata steel storm at the moment which is seeing the Steel industry in the UK being decimated.
I get that China have been flooding the market with cheap steel which it is producing in vast quantities but is more than they need in China so they sell the surplus abroad.
Where it loses me is that the EU wanted to increase the tariffs on steel made outside the EU so the Chinese steel price wasn't so attractive to EU members who were snapping it up.
The country that used their veto, three times, was the UK who stated that cheap steel was good as it made the cost of building things cheaper.
Obviously, this had a detrimental effect on British made steel who now faces being closed down as it doesn't have a market.
Confusingly, the British Government are now running around and bleating that British Steel needs to be saved and is 'absolutely vital' for the UK's industrial future and are hopeful 'a new buyer that can take the Port Talbot plant forward could be found' and offering a loan of £100m to sweeten the deal.
Why, if it is so vital, did the Government stop the EU Commission when they said that China was dumping a wide range of steel products in Europe and recommended higher tariffs to help protect similar goods made in the EU.
You don't need a degree in economics to know that it would put the UK Steel trade at risk as people would obviously buy the cheaper steel, therefore helping China at the expense of British industry.
We can only assume that we have been rolled over by our own Government who seem to be bending over backwards to woo the Chinese with one eye on the tens of billions the Chinese are spending on building nuclear power stations in the UK which trumps saving 5,000 UK jobs and costing the British taxpayer £100 million to bribe someone to take over an industry that our politicians have scuppered.
Someone has really dropped the ball on this one.

Friday, 1 April 2016

0104 Club

I'm not really sure how it started back in the 90s but today is the annual meeting of the 0104 Club, those of us born on the 1st April.
Originally it was Chris Evans, Philip Schofield and i who would meet up in the same coffee house, have a couple of lattes, shoot the breeze and then go back to our lives and agree to meet up at the same time, same place next year.
Since the original founding of the 0104 Club, we have added Susan Boyle, David Gower and Jimmy Cliff who is a sometimes mocha drinker if he is in the country at the time.  
Another 0104 Club tradition is that George, the cafe owner, will play Marvin Gaye on the cafe sound system to mark the passing of Marvin Gaye on this day in 1984.  
If you happen to be passing a cafe this afternoon and you hear the strains of 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' and see a group of people slurping latte's and laughing raucously, pop over and say hi and if you are celebrating a birthday tomorrow, pull up a chair and the coffee's on Susan, almost literally last year.