Sunday, 28 May 2017

Corbyn's Foreign Policy And UK Terror Attacks Question

The question the Labour Party is posing is did our recent foreign policy, wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, lead to the terrorist attacks we have seen across Europe?
The Government, who voted for all the above wars, doesn't agree but then they have an election to win and in an attempt to deflect any sniff of controversy they could be in anyway complicit, have set out to vilify Jeremy Corbyn for even suggesting that our actions abroad have had such awful consequences at home such as we saw in Manchester.
Leading the charge is Foreign Secretary Boris
Johnson who said that it was monstrous that anybody should subtract from the fundamental responsibility of those individuals who committed this atrocity'.
Mr Johnson is now being reminded that he wrote in the Spectator one week after the London bombings in 2007 that the Iraq war sharpened the resentments felt by such people in this country and the Iraq war helped to potentiate that poison.
In 2015, as home secretary, Theresa May, was openly criticised at the Police Federation conference by a former Manchester police officer, Inspector Damian O’Reilly, who said that police cuts was risking national security, an accusation May dismissed as 'scaremongering'.
If the Government are desperately twisting to avoid any link between what they voted for and what has happened since, we have the  unclassified reports to look back on to see what was being said at the time by people who analyse these things.
The intelligence and security committee, in its 2003 report, International terrorism: War With Iraq, assessed that: 'The threat from Al Qaida will increase at the onset of any military action against Iraq. The worldwide threat from other Islamist terrorist groups and individuals will increase significantly, reflecting intensified anti-US/anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world, including among Muslim communities in the West.
The Defence Academy for the Ministry of Defence concluded that: 'The war in Iraq has acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists across the Muslim world. Iraq has served to radicalise an already disillusioned youth and al-Qaeda has given them the will, intent, purpose and ideology to act.
Ex-MI5 boss, Eliza Manningham-Buller told the Iraq Enquiry that MI5 had asked for a doubling of the MI5 budget in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion to counter the increase in UK terrorism: 'It increased the terrorist threat by convincing more people that Osama Bin Laden's claim that Islam was under attack was correct. Our involvement in Iraq spurred some young British Muslims to turn to terror.
Another former MI5 chief, Stella Rimmington said: 'If what we're looking at is groups of disaffected young men born in this country who turn to terrorism, then I think to ignore the effect of the war in Iraq is misleading'.
Australia's Office of National Assessments said: 'A key judgement is that Iraq has been clearly used as a recruiting tool for terrorist groups around the globe with the number of jihadis steadily increasing'.
Reporting on the 7/7 terror attacks in London, foreign-affairs think tank, Chatham House, reported: 'There is no doubt that the situation over Iraq gave a boost to the al-Qaeda network's propaganda, recruitment and fundraising'.
Peter Bergen, a US national security analyst, said: 'Our study shows that the Iraq conflict has greatly increased the spread of the al-Qaeda ideological virus, as shown by a rising number of terrorist attacks in the past three years from London to Kabul, and from Madrid to the Red Sea
Tony Blair, the junior member in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, admitted in 2015 of the terror attacks sweeping Europe that: 'Of course, you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015'.
It would appear that most of Britain's security, defence and diplomatic community readily accept that an increased terror threat inside the UK followed our military intervention in Muslim countries, a fact borne out by the terrorist themselves.
Isis propaganda channels frequently publish graphic images claiming to show dead and injured civilians, particularly children, after alleged air strikes by the US-led coalition and call on followers around the world to avenge their deaths with terror attacks.
One of the 7/7 killers taped himself stating that they were killing their fellow citizens because Western governments 'continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world'.
Two months ago, a British-born Muslim convert murdered four people with a car on Westminster Bridge, then got out and stabbed a policeman to death. Just minutes before his killing spree he declared via WhatsApp that he was acting in revenge against Western wars in the Mideast with Isis claiming responsibility for the attack in a statement claiming it aimed to terrorise: 'infidels in
response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims'.
So to answer the original question: Has our foreign policy heightened the threat of UK terrorism?
If you listen to the Government desperate to avoid an iota of blame in an election battle, then no but if you listen to the intelligence community of the major nations of the World, it's a resounding yes.
Jeremy Corbyn's question is therefore perfectly legitimate to be asked.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Conservatives Faltering

Google Trends has a pretty decent record at predicting who is going to win elections and the latest results are showing Theresa May could well be looking up the phone numbers of removal firms on June 9th.
The Conservatives have had a bad week with the announcement of the Dementia Tax, the removal of the triple lock on State Pensions, cutting the winter fuel allowance and a general rise in income tax, all which mostly hit their core voters, the elderly.
With a poll showing that their once commanding 19 point leave is down to 9 points, and Theresa May being roundly blamed for her Governments cuts to policing which allowed the Manchester Attacks to happen, what once looked like a march to an election win is now looking quite shaky.
Jeremy Corbyn for his part is playing a blinder, his arguments are starting to cut through and his handling of the questions posed by the excellent Andrew Neil midweek, the same interviewer that Theresa May stumbled over so badly, have raised expectations that Labour could cause a shock.
Still a long way to go and the media have redoubled their efforts to portray Corbyn as a Marxist so it could all change but things are certainly looking tighter than most of us, Theresa May especially, expected.

UKIP Fighting Rickets

All this time we thought UKIP was a nasty little party of racists but their manifesto has made it clear why they want to ban the burqa and it turns out it's all because of potential vitamin deficiency.
The party, which has long advocated a burqa ban, said that: 'Clothing that hides identity, puts up barriers to communication, limits employment opportunities, hides evidence of domestic abuse and prevents intake of essential Vitamin D from sunlight'.
The statement unsurprisingly prompted the question that don't all clothes prevent vitamin D intake?
Not one to be bogged down in logic, the UKIP leader, Paul Nuttal, said that the burqa ban is: 'more important than it has ever been', assumingly referring to the few days of sunshine we receive in this rainy country but disappointingly ignoring altogether if they were moving towards a  pro-nudist stance where all vitamin D blocking material, or clothes as they are also known, are banned.
So if you want a party that is fighting rickets and the causes of rickets, you know where to put your cross next month.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Trump's European Vacation

Donald Trump finally managed to drag his enlarged body and ego across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe where us snotty Europeans waited for him to do or say something stupid.
While it is fair to say he was in a situation where our expectations were not that high, he was relatively restrained but there was some highlights where we could point and laugh at the idiot abroad.
Before he set foot in Europe, he was in Israel where a press statement announced that Mr Trump's would be looking to: 'promote the possibility of a lasting peach', which could have been a typo, could be Trump really, really likes fruit.
If he was actually after lasting peace rather than peach, he didn't try that hard as he signed a contract to flog $110bn worth of arms to one of the worst regimes on the planets, Saudi Arabia.
Then it was on to the NATO summit where he said that anyone not spending 2% of their GDP on defence owed money to those who did which prompted a word in his orange ear that it isn't how things work.
Then there was the physical push on the prime minister of Montenegro as he jostled to get in the front row of the NATO leaders photo. The Montenegrin President, Mr Markovic, said the push was 'natural for Mr Trump' which was diplomatic speak for Trump is a jerk who acted like a jerk so what did you expect.
France's new President Emmanuel Macron did us all proud by appearing to walk up to Trump at the photo shoot, veering off course at the last moment to leave Trump's paw hanging and shaking everyone else's hand first before going to Trump and receiving on of those weird jerky handshake things he does.
My highlight was when he met Pope Francis, not enough that his wife and daughter decided to dress up like something from the Addams Family, but the Pope, who has made no secret that he dislikes Trump, made it even more obvious by keeping his sulky glum face on during his visit. 
There is no truth to the rumours that Trump had asked for a private sitting to confess his sins and the Pope replied that he was only there for 24 hours.
Melania Trump, when she wasn't looking like Morticia, had quite a good trip, first swatting away her husbands hand twice when he went to hold hers and then spending much of her time with sick children, making arts and crafts while her husband was pushing old Montenegrin men around.
All in all, for anyone else his trip would have been a disaster but as the bar is set so very low for the American President, and he was kept away from the media and was briefed to just read out what someone else had written for him (and they managed to keep him away from Twitter) so disasters were kept to a minimum. 
Him and his creepy daughter who seems to go everywhere with him are probably going back to America thinking everything went quite smooth and we are watching him go agreeing that he is a moron, but as he is flying back into a storm of new allegations about his links to Russia, things may not be smooth for long.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Space Aggressors?

Governments sometimes withhold information to avoid a panic in the general population so if for example they had information that aliens were planning to invade planet Earth they would quietly go about developing a strategy to combat the threat.
If, lets say, this hypothetical situation was imminent, they would probably already be training special forces in secret locations in space warfare and give them a silly, macho name like Space Aggressors or something.
Of course the Government, let's say the American Government to pick one, would be keen to keep something like that out of the media to stop people from looking at the sky and searching for a horde of rampant Alpha Centurions.        
Anyway, in a hush-hush document there is a secret location near the Colorado's Rocky Mountains where teams called the '26th Space Aggressors Squadron' and '527th Space Aggressor Squadron' are training for 'conflict in a space environment'.
This follows a new department being created, the National Space Defence Centre, as part of the Multinational Space Collaboration effort.
Just a coincidence i'm sure.

How To Scare Brits

The Government have raised the terror threat level but we're British and we can't be scared until the threat level is raised to something that really makes up feel really threatened, and the Brits have been quick to share what really scares us.
The top day-to-day fears that cause a deep down, very British, panic are: 

Someone makes you a tea but it's the wrong colour
The words 'Is this seat taken'?
You notice the person in front of you in the 12 Items or Less queue clearly has 13 items.
Hearing 'Let's go round the room and say one thing about yourselves'
A colleague asks if they can use your mug
When a waiter asks if everything is OK and the meal wasn't
Someone getting your name wrong too many times and for too long for you to correct them
When you see somebody dip a knife coated with toast crumbs back into the butter
Someone constantly texting with their keyboard clicks still on
When someone opens the door for you a few foot away so you have to do that awkward jog
When the person behind you in the supermarket doesn't put a 'next customer' sign between your shopping and theirs
'God Save The Queen' keeps playing after the first verse
A stranger trying to engage you in conversation which isn't about the weather
When the waitress says: 'We only have ginger biscuits left i'm afraid'
The TV announcer saying: 'And now a film starring Hugh Grant'

We better hope ISIS never discover the secret to scaring Brits is to leave toast crumbs in the butter, hide all the supermarket next customer signs or make us talk about ourselves in a group.

Explaining The Manchester Terror Attack To Children

Sadly, we have had far too many minute silences these last few years, the latest one being for the 22 deaths in Manchester following a suicide attack on a concert attended in the main by teenagers.
Although it is devastating to see the all victims of any terror attacks, it stings that little bit more if the photo staring out from the newspaper or TV screen is that of a child. 
As the Manchester Arena was packed with thousands of children and young people when a suicide bomber detonated his device, we will be seeing more of them over the coming days along with the picture of Salman Abedi who caused all the death and devastation in some sorely misguided religious fervour.
As the majority of victims were children, and as our media has been full of the tales of the terror that night, parents have been dealing with the obvious questions from their children of why it happened and the unenviable situation of having to explain terror attacks to children.
Advice from the NSPCC is to not turn off the news to try and shield them, things that happen in the news will be talked about in the playground and it is better that your child is armed with the real information rather than depending on the Chinese whispers of their school friends.
Explain simply what has happened but offer reassurance too, remind them that there are many more good people than bad people and most importantly that they are safe and the likelihood of being caught up in an event like this is so, so small, you can't even do the sums to calculate the risk.
The saddest thing about all this is that 22 dead bodies a day is about the average for countries like Iraq and Syria but they don't get a fraction of the news time or the silent 60 seconds of contemplation that they do in the UK, France or Belgium.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Wondering About Tabby's Star

In a galaxy, far, far away is a weird star called KIC 8462852 which has been confusing astronomers for decades and has decided to be weird again and has sent Astronomers scrambling to point their telescopes it's way.
The stars and planets act in a perfectly predictable fashion so there has been much head scratching as to why KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's Star, changes brightness significantly and at irregular intervals.
Now there is another significant dimming dimming of the star 1,275 light years away in the Cygnus Constellation and the usual suspects such as a planet passing in front the star has been dismissed as this would not cause such a significant change in brightness, and it would be more predictable.
Other suggestions include a large, immensely dense cloud of dust and debris around the star or it is recovering having been hit by a planet and another theory suggests a swarm of comets may be responsible.
The whispered suggestion is that an alien mega structure has been built around the star to harvest its energy, something which is referred to as a Dyson Sphere, named after the man who put it forward as a theory in the 1960's as a way for future generations to power the Earth by partly enclosing the Sun with colossal solar panels.
It is a scary thought that if it does turn out to be an alien mega structure, and as were seeing how it was 1,275 years ago, while they had the intelligence and scientific know how to build a mega structure in Space, the 8th Century humans were inventing horseshoes and believed that a solar eclipse was the Sun being attacked by an evil demon.
Heaven help us if they ever discover us.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Poor Donald Trump

You have to feel for the poor old American President, Donald Trump, who has stated that: 'No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly'.
Nelson Mandela may differ and it is good to see the Roman Emperor, Valerian, who was disposed, used as a footstool before being made to drink molten gold and his skin removed and stuffed full of straw getting a mention.
To my knowledge Trump hasn't been used as furniture nor a gold receptacle or even a human scarecrow although i'm sure with his considerable girth he would make a decent beanbag.
He does seem to have a chip on his shoulder that the media are out to get him but why they have a problem with the racist tax dodger and self-confessed sex molester is anyone's guess.
So he has told a few lies, colluded and handed over top secret material to the Russians and is prone to a bit of exaggeration but it's time he got a break, after all, it can't be easy having all that power but having to look at that tiny penis every time he visits the gents and sleeping in beds drenched in Russian prostitutes urine.
I say keep your pecker up Donald, it's not as if you will have to put up with it for much longer, that impeachment will come before Christmas tops. 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

FA Clamping Down On Diving

Being British, we tend to overlook the British footballers who dive around like a spawning salmon to gain a penalty and blame the foreigners for it but whoever does it, the Football Association has announced that footballers who dive will face a two-match retrospective ban from the start of next season.
About time because diving has become a plague in the game and what some call an art in winning a penalty' is, to the rest of the world, blatant cheating.
No team would like to top a poll of the Leagues biggest cheaters but someone has top the list and according to a Daily Mirror study of which team have spent the most time conning the referee by rolling around like they have been shot by a cannon when they step into the penalty area, it's Chelsea who can put the award for biggest conmen next to the Premier League Title in their trophy cabinet. 
Chelsea are the Premier League team who have been involved in the most diving incidents since 2012/13 with Sunderland runners up and then Southampton, Tottenham, Manchester United, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Liverpool, Swansea, Manchester City and then Stoke.
Diving does not seem to have helped Sunderland but as an Arsenal fan, whose team is nowhere near the top 10 of the biggest cheaters, maybe throwing themselves to the ground like a big girls blouse in the style of Dele Alli or Diego Costa would help them climb above the fifth place that beckons this year.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Labour Nationalisation Policy

If the leaking of the Labour Party manifesto was supposed to embarrass the Labour Party, it spectacularly backfired as the plans to renationalise the rail, water and utility companies went down surprisingly well with the public. 
During the 80s and 90s, the Conservative Party went on a privatisation spree with the mantra that market competition in the private sector was a more efficient way to provide services provided by the Government and allows for a better price and service for us.
In practise, however, it increased costs, lowered the quality of services and led to rising unemployment because the simple logic tells us that it is impossible for the private sector to deliver the same service for less and still make a profit.
Private companies exist to make a profit for their investors even if they are providing a service to the public, and the only way to increase profit is to reduce the money they pay out (wages) or increase the money they bring in (prices), both of which comes at a huge cost, financial and personal, to the public.
A recent example was the great sell off of the Royal Mail which made a profit of £403 million for the Government in 2013, while in 2014 the profit went directly into someones bank account instead.
A week after the privatisation went through, the new owners announced the price of stamps would rise as 'the price didn't go up last year' proving they couldn't do the same job with the same number of people at the same price.
The mantra remains that Privatisation will bring down price and increase service but in reality the service falls through the floor and the price goes up. Take a look at your next electric, water, gas, phone bill or train ticket and that will testify that it doesn't bring greater efficiency, benefits to the customer,  bring the best prices for the consumer nor improve the service.  
Essentially, it denies the Government much needed tens of billions in tough times so there you go, that's why Labour's nationalisation plans have struck a chord with the country.

World Becoming More Vegetarian

Adolf Hitler, it is often said, was a vegetarian. He wasn't of course but the link between refusing to eat a cheeseburger and killing millions under the banner of Fascism is well known, albeit mostly in the minds of the sort of person who tuck into sausages with bits of minced eye and cow anus included for that extra protein.   
I like to point out that while Hitler, Stalin, Attila the Hun, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Vlad the Impaler, Caligula, George W Bush, Ivan the Terrible, Bin Laden, Donald Trump and Genghis Khan where all meat eaters, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Aristotle, Diogenes, Plato, Pythagoras, Socrates and Voltaire were all vegetarians.
Make of that what you will but apart from the moral and health implications of eating meat while the methane produced by the cattle is destroying the planet, things could be on the change because sales of meat free options have bloomed by 1,500% in the past year, according to a survey by online supermarket Ocado.
A third of the population identify themselves as 'flexitarian', meaning they are cutting down on their meat consumption and the demand for meat-free meals is soaring with an increase in sales of vegetarian meals up £17.2 million over the past year.
All great news for the planet, people's colons and the unslaughtered animals but most importantly we are moving away from a World of less beef and pork eating Hitler's, Genghis Khan's and Idi Amin's and heading towards one with more vegetable munching Da Vinci's, Gandhi's and Plato's.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Trump Impeachment: Coming Soon

It seems that Donald Trump, bored of not being an idiot for a few days, crammed as much idiocy into a few days to make up for it so what has the small handed tax dodger been up to recently to get even his own side groaning at him and demanding that he be forcibly removed. 
A quick recap shows in the space of a few days, he sacked the FBI guy leading an investigation into his dubious Russian links after he declined an invitation to drop an investigation into his friend and now former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, who resigned over undisclosed contact with a Russian diplomat.
Then the next day the President hosted Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and handed over information so highly classified that the US hadn’t shared it with its closest allies.
Countries that provide the highly sensitive information are said to be unhappy that intelligence they provided for only the eyes of a select few has been handed over to a country widely labelled as hostile with one European foreign minister stating they will re-evaluate the process of forwarding on sensitive information to the President.
With the sounds of him being in 'impeachment territory' ringing in his ears, the actions of Trump should be examined. 
The first explanation is that he is hiding himself in plain sight with the idea that people will think even he would not be that blatantly stupid if he was concerned about his Russian links coming to the surface, therefore he has nothing to hide.
The other view is that he is even more barn shakingly stupid and arrogant than previously thought.
I know which side of the argument my money would be on and as the evidence for impeachment grows stronger, America might start looking a bit more sane again, just change the nuclear codes before you drag him out first please.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Duh, Obviously

Fresh from the pages of 'Tell us something we didn't know', scientists have announced that Atheists are more intelligent than religious people according to dozens of studies.
Duh you may say but let's allow the scientists from the University of Rochester and the Northeastern University to explain why they think people who believe in a cloud man who made us from dirt are dullards. 
The thinking is that as people get exposed to new ideas and influences, they tend to lose their beliefs or get more religious during this time and the more intelligent are more likely to resist pressure to conform to religious pressure and eschew religion altogether.
Later in life, more intelligent people are more likely to get and stay married which makes them less reliant on the attachment that the function of religion provides. More intelligent people are also more likely to have higher level jobs and spend more time in school, which leads to higher self-esteem and encourages control of personal beliefs according to the study.
In the study, which was a combination of the results of 63 other scientific studies, the more intelligent members of the sample retained lower religiosity scores, relative to the general population.
There you have it, if you want to have as a meeting of minds about anything more intelligent than which end of a banana you should peel from, ask them first if they are a regular Church goer.

Cyberattack: Tough Times Ahead

Europol says it was fortunate that Friday's cyberattack which hit 200,000 victims in more than 150 countries happened when it did and people were logging off for the weekend but are warning that the attacks could pick up pace again on Monday as employees log back on again Monday.
The NHS has been widely hit in the UK by the ransomware cyberattack with files encrypted or locked with a threat to delete or expose the files publicly if the ransom of £230 is not paid by a certain time.
Up to 100 counties have been affected by the latest ransomware attack with tens of thousands of computers thought to be affected worldwide, the largest attack of its kind ever recorded.
Cybersecurity experts agree the threat from Ransomware is growing at an alarming rate with McAfee Labs saying ransomware cases grew 80% in 2016.
San Francisco's light rail system was one recent high-profile victim when it was held to ransom in November 2016, with ticket machines taken down and the city forced to open the gates and let passengers travel for free.
As we become more and more connected, and reliant on computers, this could be a taste of things to come and experts are already calling it a cyber-apocalypse, especially if the virus reaches the banking sector or even worse the military on hot the heels after discovering that the US nuclear arsenal is controlled by 1970s computers with floppy disks and the UK’s Trident nuclear program
operates on Windows XP, which has been at the centre of the global ransomware outbreak and which Microsoft stopped supporting and issuing security patches for in 2014.
'We could be in for a tough week' so say the experts, but even more frightening, this could be the start of a very tough era in a increasingly connected world.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

What Now Mr President?

Donald Trump, never being the sharpest knife in the drawer, has found himself painted into a corner with his actions against North Korea who have taken his threats against them making further missile tests and promptly ignored them.
Now that they have test fired a new and improved missile despite America's threats of military action, we are looking at Trump and asking 'Now What?'
If he thought that his bluster about possible military action was going to kowtow Pyongyang into ceasing their quest for more powerful weapons then he was way off the mark, if anything it has acted as a spur to their activities.
In a statement, the White House said Pyongyang has been: 'a flagrant menace for far too long' and is calling for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea.
That's the problem with going in too hard too quick, you have nowhere left to go but to carry through your threats and the certainty of hundreds of thousands of deaths or back down and look weak.
Buoyed by his action of lobbing a bunch of cruise missiles at Syria, Trump went in hard and high on North Korea, expecting them to back down and didn't expect them to stick two fingers up at him.
Now they have tweaked the American Presidents nose and asked him what he is going to do about it.
Even Trump, with his childlike grasp of reality, must realise that his actions have managed to turn a concern into a potential catastrophe.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Who Likes UK At Eurovision

It's Eurovision time again, and the UK Entry is called 'Never Give Up On You' which is ironic as that is exactly what the UK has done to Europe so if we are going to avoid the dreaded nul points scenario at the end of the night, we will be looking at the few friends we have left in Euroland to throw us a few points. 
As the Eurovision began in 1957, we have a long run of data available to work out which of our European brothers and sisters we can depend on to avoid the embarrassment of ending the evening on the right hand side of the board when the gongs are handed out.
Over the last 60 years the country that has given the UK the most points and our new best friends are Luxembourg, which has averaged a touch under five points per contest which is even more impressive when you consider they stopped taking part since 1993 so that's five points we are down already.
Luxembourg is closely followed by Malta and then Ireland, which is widely seen as our best Eurovision friend then Austria, Israel, Switzerland, Turkey and Portugal.
At the bottom end, the country that has snubbed the UK the most consistently is Montenegro, which has failed to give the UK a single point in the competition.
The other countries who have annually poo-pooed us Brits are Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Armenia and clearly, those are the countries that we should be withholding our Euro love from when it comes to sprinkle around the points.
We know who our friends are and if we don't win it will be because of Brexit/Jealousy/They Hate Us/Politics/Bloc Voting (delete as applicable) and not because we have entered yet another duff song.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Answering The 'Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?' Question

The Bible says that the 'Keys to Heaven Also Open the Gates of Hell' which is an awful security system but then the big guy didn't do a bang up job on the rest of things either.
While being interviewed in Ireland during 2015, Stephen Fry was asked what he would say to the man with such a slipshod attitude towards security, or God as he is also known, if he had a chance.
'I’d say Bone cancer in children, what’s that about?’ How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault' Fry replied. 'It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain'?  
Quite right Mr Fry you may say but hang about because the Church have fired back that God isn't to blame, we are.
'It is obvious that there is suffering in the world, but God is not to blame. Whose fault is it then? Quite simply, it is our fault. The world is broken because of our sin. Most people fail to factor this into the equation. We are all sinners. It is our rebellion [Adam and Eve eating the Apple] that broke God’s creation and brought suffering into the world'.
So there you have it, all the bad things happen because the first couple annoyed a man in the clouds by being enticed into eating an apple by a talking snake, what's so hard to understand about that Stephen Fry. Sheesh.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Revision Tips From Ancient Greece

Exam season is upon us and manic revision is under way and any edge that can be gained is worth considering and researchers may have found a way to eek out those few extra exam points which could make all the difference. 
A study found that pupils working in a room with the aroma of rosemary, achieved 5% to 7% better results in memory tests.
According to history books, Ancient Greek students knew this and wore rosemary garlands in exams and in the tests carried out by Northumbria University in a room with and without the aroma of rosemary, students exposed to rosemary had on average an improvement of 5% to 7% in results.
Another often used memory aid is to read difficult or important bits in a funny accent, this makes it stick out in your mind from all the other bits that you are trying to cram into your memory and use mnemonic's for those tricky to remember lists such as 'My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles' for the planets or 'No Plan Like Yours To Study History Wisely' for the Royal
Houses of Norman, Plantagenet, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, Windsor.
Whatever works for you but throw in a few rosemary Josticks when you are learning can't hurt.

Neanderthals Revenge

As we all know, Climate Change brings many, many dangers and as we go hurtling past the tipping point, things are already changing for the worse very quickly but apart from all the usual, most discussed ways Mother Nature will reap her revenge of ravishing her planet, there is another that is starting to show its ugly head, literally. 
As the Earth warms, it is accepted that northern countries will become more susceptible to outbreaks of diseases more associated with equatorial nations such as like malaria, cholera and dengue fever, as these diseases thrive at warmer temperatures but a frightening, little discussed news story throws another, more ancient angle on the spread of disease.
A 12-year-old boy died and at least twenty people were hospitalised after being infected by a reindeer carrying anthrax, the twist is that the reindeer had dropped dead over 75 years ago and its frozen carcass had emerged from under a layer of permafrost during the thaw last summer which exposed the reindeer corpse and released infectious anthrax into the environment.
Scientists have also discovered intact Spanish flu, smallpox and even the bubonic plague virus's in corpses buried in Alaska and in Siberia.
NASA scientists discovered bacteria that had been encased in a frozen pond in Alaska for 32,000 years which, when the ice melted, began swimming around unaffected.
The twist is that as 30-40,000 years old virus's and bacteria puts there lifetime in the age of Neanderthals, we could soon be facing ancient diseases we have never faced before that once riddled long-extinct species like Neanderthals as their bodies re-emerge from icy graves which have been buried for tens of thousands of years under a frozen ground which is thawing and now offering up its deadly harvest to carry on the work with homo sapiens.
A very scary thought.

Friday, 5 May 2017

There's An App For That

As we rub up against different people in our daily lives we come across some folk who make you wonder just how they manage to make it through the day without setting themselves on fire or walking off a cliff, the sort of people who i assume the makers of an app i saw advertised today aim their product at.
Take Five is an app that for £1 will automatically restart paused music after a set time if you pause music but forget to press play again on your device.
The advert shows what it calls a common occurrence where a person is listening to music on headphones, gets distracted and pause their music and then two hours later realise that they have been listening to silence for over 2 hours.
How much of a common occurrence it is that people find themselves not listening to music when they'd really should be i'm not sure but if you have to pay a bit of software to tell you when to turn your music back on, then maybe you should also be searching the app store for apps when you have forgotten to tie your laces or put your trousers on.
Unfortunately the Take Five site doesn't tell me how many times it has been downloaded but you worry for mankind if there are large numbers of people out there who need help with unpausing music.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Europeans Snubbing Democracy

Winston Churchill said of Democracy that was the worst form of Government except for all those others and a cross Europe YouGov reveals that many young Europeans agree with him with almost half (48%) saying it was the worst possible way to run a Government although the poll doesn't specify exactly what they would replace it with.
My problem with Democracy is that the whole process is only 1 day every 5 years and the elected leader can do what he or she wants without censor until the wheel slowly grinds back around again and we get the chance to vote him or her out.
What would improve Democracy is a way to remove the Prime Minister if they turn out to be a dud or found with their hands in the expenses till without having to wait half a decade before the opportunity by which time they could have done irreparable damage.
So if we did dispense with Democracy, what would we replace it with?
Anarchist's believe the best form of Government is no Government at all while Communist's see a means of abolishing Societies inequalities. Maybe Monarchy tickles their ideological fancy or oligarchy where all the power is in the hands of a ruling elite and there is always totalitarianism where an iron fist rules.
Theocracy with religious leaders running the show, Plutocracy with the rules set by the wealthy, Geniocracy where the most intelligent make the laws,
Meritocracy where people with experience run things, Autocracy where one person has the power or the opposite Demarchy where laws are made by public consensus or how about the newest member of forms of Government, Uniocracy, where a computer makes the decisions. 
There are many forms of Government, some are better than others, but we can look around now and honestly say something has to be better than what we have but there must be something said for removing humans from the decision making process because we have made a bit of a pigs ear of it so far.

Watching France

After Brexit and Trump, it is dangerous to expect the voting public to do the right thing and so we look over to France this weekend to see if the French voters elect another alarming right wing politician to a major country.
The smart money is on Marine Le Pen to be handed a spanking great loss by Emmanuel Macron and the polls have far right candidate Le Pen trailing by a large margin to her opponent but the same polls have been wrong before.
The independent centrist received the endorsement of Barack Obama today with the former US President ploughing into the election, backing Macron to triumph on Sunday, praising his liberal values and saying he appeals to people's hopes and not their fears.
So it is France we wait for this weekend to see if the age of voters making ridiculous mistakes with far reaching consequences continues.

Trump Get's Something Right Finally

Donald Trump, said of the Israel/Palestine conflict that is: 'not as difficult as people have thought over the years' and he is right.
To put it simply, stop funding Israel and it will be forced to make peace as it won't be able to afford to carry on the occupation of Palestine.
There you go, not that difficult at all really.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

At What Age Should I...

I don't know what age you get to before you start saying 'Age ain't nothing but a number' but science has worked out at what age you should give up the idea of taking up learning Mandarin or when to expect to take delivery of that mid-life crisis sports car.
According to science, the age of 8 is the peak time to learn a new language while we are still able to adapt to a new language structure. 
If you are a female between 20 and 23, you are at the peak of attractiveness to the opposite sex, if you are female and 24 or older than those trips to the make-up counter may become a bit more necessary.
Creativity peaks at 25 so if you haven't written that book or painted that picture by your 26th birthday, well you still have four years to make it as a sports star as you are at your peak aged 30 with a mix of experience, tactical nuance and your body can still take the rigours of professional sport before you hit 31 and your muscles wave a little white flag in submission.
That said, you are at your peak for playing chess at 31 and nobody has ever pulled a muscle or strained a ligament moving a knight to F3.
As chess is a game for solitary types, it is the perfect practise for when men wake up on your 35th birthday as that is the age when males are at their loneliest but that passes within 3 years as aged 38 is when we reach peak contentment.
Strangely, six year later at 44 is when we reach peak depression and the classic midlife crisis looms as our declining powers become more noticeable and women buy tight, leather trousers and peroxide our hair and men buy a medallion and undo the top three buttons on their shirts.
Despite our declining chess ability, sagging muscles and rash from cheap gold chained jewellery, the age at which the average Nobel Laureate gets their award is 59 so this is the time to bring peace to the Middle East or revisit that great piece of literature that has been at the back of the drawer since you hit 44 and spent your time flirting embarrassingly with people 20 years your junior.

Eurovision 2017

It's been two decades since the UK won the Eurovision song contest and we haven't bothered the top of the leaderboard since  but yet another Eurovision is almost upon us and hpe springs eternal that this time we have a chance of winning.
Only problem is our song is not great and in the wake of annoying our fellow Europeans with the Brexit vote we are as popular as a bacon sandwich in a Mosque with the people we are relying on voting for us.
This year our entry is a super slow ballad sung by one time X-Factor hopeful Lucie Jones so we should get ready the 'It's not about winning but the taking part' mantra but in all honesty, winning it would be nice.
The favourites for the title of best song in the continent are Italy, Bulgaria and Sweden but in a World of Brexit, Trump, North Korea, Syria and Terrorism filling our TV screens, Eurovision is a joyfully pointless distraction and i will be on my sofa next week with my homemade scorecard and a blind optimism that this year, the UK can win the bloody thing which will last about 10 minutes into the voting section when it will become obvious that we won't.

A Boring Election So Far

Although we are only at the start of the General Election campaign, the one theme that rings out is just how boring the whole thing is.
Not sure if the result is expected to be a foregone conclusion but usually by now the posters are in windows and battle buses are pulling up in high streets but with six weeks to go, it isn't until someone messes up that we are reminded that an election is on at all.
Tim Farron with his gay sex is a sin quote, Theresa May with her alternative facts on just how that dinner with the EU leader went and Diane Abbot with her awful maths are the depressing highlights so far but the lack of engagement is deafening.
All to suit the ruling Conservative Party you would think as they try to keep the focus on Brexit and nowhere near their shameful record hacking at the poor and disabled while cutting the tax bill of the rich. 
Meanwhile, boredom has set in with most people i have spoken to just wanting this election to be done and are not enthused about voting again after a couple of years of political upheaval.
At least previous elections had a modicum of hope involved that, at the end, there might be some sort of progressive government in charge but this one has an air of simply being a march of despair, following which the Tories get a huge majority and will continue to stuff the country as hard as politically possible.
Boredom is the way to maintain the status quo which is why Theresa May is piling up the list of soundbites and staying strangely quiet on any detail or post Brexit plans.
So it's all a boring forgone conclusion while we wait for Labour to change and the Liberal Democrats to rebuild their party, hopefully well before the next election in 2022.

The Smell Of Sour Grapes Rising Up In The Air

The Eagles have filed a lawsuit against the owners of a Mexico hotel, accusing them of using the name of their hit song without permission.
Bit rich considering that the Eagles pilfered the tune of their hit song from a Jethro Tull song.
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull once said, with his tongue firmly embedded in his cheek, that he liked the tune to Hotel California and he wished that he had written it in the knowledge that anyone who has heard 'We Used To Know', knew that he actually did.
The lawsuit states that the hotel in Mexico's Baja California Sur region: 'leads US consumers to believe that the Todos Santos Hotel is associated with the Eagles and, among other things, served as the inspiration for the lyrics in Hotel California, which is false'.
In defence the hotel states that visitors are mesmerised by the coincidences between the lyrics of the hit song and the physicality of the hotel and its surroundings including the long desert highway that leads there and the stories relating to spirits and ghosts in the courtyard.
I would say the Eagles have found much fame and fortune on the back of someon else's efforts so they should extend the same courtesy to someone doing the same to them.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Blair Not Getting It

Exactly 20 years ago, the sun shone and under a clear blue sky Tony Blair strolled into Downing Street with the ringing endorsement of the country but within a decade he was scuttling away under darkened skies and branded a war criminal.
He has tried to put his head above the parapet a few times and each time someone has tried to take it off as his toxic Iraq legacy continues to poison the British view of him but for whatever reason he now believes it is time to throw himself back into the limelight to save us all from Brexit.  
With a record of an illegal war and a million dead Iraqi's, the Blair rehabilitation was never going to be easy but he has been touring the TV studios to put forward his case for his comeback even though he doesn't seem to have a very firm grip of just why he remains so hated.
According to Blair, it is due to the perception that since he was forced out the door of Downing Street he has been trotting around the globe hoovering up bundles of cash which he denies, stating that he has been doing a lot of charity work.
I can't speak for everyone but the fact that Blair has been stuffing his pockets hardly enters the equation and it is the Iraq War that first springs to mind when the former Prime Ministers name is mentioned.
That he lied and span to take us into a war that left a million people dead, set the Middle East tinderbox alight and led directly to Islamic State ravaging the whole area are more of the reasons that are leapt to to explain why the Blair name is so reviled.  
That he considers he can walk back into public life and be hailed a some sort of saviour shows just how delusional the man is or how little he considers his abhorrent actions alongside G W Bush actually where.