Saturday, 25 March 2017

Space Pollution

On of the major drawbacks of anywhere hosting humans is that we do tend to pollute the place, whether it is the land, sea or space, we leave our rubbish there.
We have land that is uninhabitable for the next 10,000 years, a 270,000 square mile wide rubbish patch swilling around in the Atlantic Ocean and above our heads thousands of bits of Space debris whizzing around like bullets. 
The International Space Station is constantly manoeuvring to avoid a potentially catastrophic collision with space junk ranging in size from millimetres to two buses but the world of business are growing increasingly concerned that one of their satellites will take a direct hit.
Of greater concern to us is if a communication satellite got taken out and the Sat Nav, mobile phone or TV pictures go missing.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs have been working with NASA and the European Space Agency and have developed a set of guidelines on space debris mitigation where when an orbital mission is planned, it must include a strategy to remove the spacecraft from the orbit within 25 years by either propelling it out into space or dragging it down to be burnt up in the atmosphere.
Humans eh? We have land, oceans and rivers that we continue to pollute until they become almost unusable and now we are doing exactly the same with space.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Disappointing The Right Wing As Terrorist Was A Brit

The terrorist responsible for the attack in Westminster yesterday has been named as 52 year old Khalid Masood, born and raised in Britain but that hasn't stopped the right wing trying to shoehorn the attack into their own agenda.
Marine Le Pen said the attack underlined the importance of countries being able to protect their borders, Poland’s prime minister, Beata Szydło, said it vindicated Warsaw’s refusal to take in refugees, UKIP donor Arron Banks blamed Theresa May for allowing over a million illegals into Britain, Nigel Farage appeared on US television arguing that the London attacks proved Donald Trump’s hardline immigration and anti-Muslim policies were correct.
In the world of Trump and Brexit, Muslim stirring hate was spewed within minutes of the attack and the usual suspects were spewing their predictable bile.
The right wing haters have been waiting for something like this, revelling that the opportunity had arrived for their imaginary fears to become solid.
Disappointingly for them, the bad guy turned out to be a home grown Brit with a history of violence and not an immigrant turned by religious fervour but they won't let that stop them, this is their chance to drive home the falsehood that immigration and multiculturalism is to blame and the facts can go hang. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Bill Clinton To Attend McGuinness Funeral

Not the best timing as Former US President Bill Clinton announces that he will be arriving for funeral of former IRA commander Martin McGuinness just as the capital suffers fatalities from a terror attack.
Clinton was roundly condemned in Britain at the time for shaking hands with IRA politician Gerry Adams in 1995 while he was on a fund raising trip for the IRA, especially after the then Prime Minister John Major requested Mr. Adams was not given a warm welcome by the American President.
Mr Clinton was in office at the time of the and the then US president was involved in the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which brought to an end the 30 years of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.
A battle is going on at the moment to declare McGuiness as a violent terrorist who oversaw the death of countless victims or an architect of peace who saved the life of many by ending the Troubles.
I would argue that while his second career in politics should be acknowledged, it is the first choice of career that he should be remembered for as ending a war is a poor second when you have been so active in stocking and driving up the death toll in the first place.
As he was so active in the peace process it is probably right that Bill Clinton is at his funeral but please spare us the gushing nonsense that he was anything other than a murderous thug who brought untold misery to many, many families and who directly caused such scenes in the 70s, 80s and 90s that we see today in Westminster. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

McGuinness: Murderer Or Saviour?

If Bin Laden had decided to give up his terrorist ways and instead put his efforts towards peace in Afghanistan then i doubt many would change their minds that he was suddenly anything less of a murderer so i fail to see why the case with Martin McGuinness is any different.
Some are pointing towards his efforts in the Northern Ireland peace process but they seem to be overlooking the death and destruction that he was directly involved in which made Northern Ireland such an unstable place in the first place.
As a member of the IRA's ruling 'army council', he was part of the decision making process for its overall strategy and tactics, and approved operational policy and been a key figure within the IRA for almost all of the Troubles.
McGuinness spent a decade in the power sharing role with the Democratic Unionists which helped to end 30 years of conflict in the country, helping to negotiate the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement and securing IRA arms decommissioning in 2005.
While history will show that McGuinness changed his course to create change through politics, he died peacefully at 66, a luxury so many of his victims were never afforded in his original role as terrorist and commander in the IRA.

Russia's Cold War Debt Cleared

America may have won the Cold War but while the Russians have paid off the last of their debt, Americans are going to pass legislation to increase their debt ceiling above £20 trillion so something doesn't seem right.
Russia took on the The Soviet Union's foreign debt of £66bn in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and a £123m payment to Bosnia and Herzegovina will finally clear the bill.
In recent years, Moscow has cancelled billions of dollars in debt owed to the Soviet Union by countries in Africa, Asia, and Central America. In 2013, Russia wrote off almost the entire $32 billion debt owed by Cuba.
According to the Russian Finance Ministry, other countries still owe the Soviet Union about £34 billion, but how that works is unsure as i'm sure the argument will be how can they pay money to a country that doesn't exist.
The fact that the home of Capitalism is 20 trillion in the hole while Russia has cleared their debts has not gone unnoticed by the Ruskies. 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Has Anyone Gave Tchaikovsky The News Yet?

We seem to be having an epidemic of musicians dying the past 18 months or so but the death of Chuck Berry yesterday is one that seems to sting me that little bit more.
By all accounts he was a massive sleaze in life but putting that to one side for the moment, what a back catalogue of great music he had under his belt.
He was also a real pioneer for the guitar based music which i lean heavily towards and he was one of the few musicians that i lifted above the others when i was learning the guitar as a youngster.
His songs were very formulaic as many musicians tunes are and you could tell almost immediately a Chuck Berry song but so strong was the stencil that he hit upon early on in his career, that he was such a huge success.
The opening lick of Johnny B Goode is musical gold and quite right that it was this song that was the choice to represent humans and be placed upon the Voyager Spacecraft and sent out of the Solar System for any other alien civilisations to discover.
Away from the amazing guitarist and entertainer he undoubtedly was, the other side of him was less pleasant with jail time for armed robbery, carjacking, prostitution and videotaping in ladies toilets.
Berry is placed at number 6 in the Rolling Stone magazine's 'Greatest Guitarist of All Time' list which is deserving as he was at the forefront of that style of music and much copied by those who came after him so such a high placing is warranted even if there was very little variation in what he played.
Johnny B Goode will always be his signature tune but there was so many greats including 'Memphis Tennessee' which was a change from the driving riffs of his usual fare.
He will always be included in the book of music as he should be as he was an amazing guitarist, great lyricist and had an incredible list of songs to his name but as it is hard to separate the man from the music, a morally bankrupt personality.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Tinkering With The Calendar

Ever since we began counting days we seem to have failed to get a full grasp on the calendar, using the path of the moon and adding the odd days here and there before losing ten of them in the 16th Century in an attempt to rewrite the whole calendar and then plonking an extra day on the end of February every four years to try and bring everything back together again.
What we have now is a year of 52 weeks split into months of 4 weeks 3 days, or 4 weeks 2 days one or 4 weeks exactly or 4 weeks and 1 day every four years which seems overly complicated.
Step forward the The International Fixed Calendar which has been gathering dust since it was first proposed in 1902.
I have been thinking about this and it does have some merit but needs a little tweaking.
This other calendar makes a month exactly 4 weeks or 28 days long and then tags on another month and have 13 months in a year.
What about the leap year i hear you ask but here is where it needs tweaking. Under my system the year would be 364 days long so to stop us falling out of sync with a planet taking 365.25 to complete a full lap of the Sun, we keep the leap year every four years to take care of the 4 x .25's and each year we have a non-day day, like an extra bank holiday so a day which just doesn't count.
It makes sense to me to make it New Years Day and start the year with the 1st January the following day, it already has a name and it is already a Bank Holiday so no messing about with when to slide the extra free day in.
The downside is that with a 4 week, 30 day month, some well known dates will get shifted around so for example my birthday is 1 April which under the proper calendar is Day 91 but under the new system Day 91 would become April 7th or Christmas Day which is Day 359 would become 23rd of the newly named month and New Years Eve the 28th of the new month. 
Every first would always be a Monday, every 28th would be a Sunday and every payday would always be a Friday and the 8/9, 14/15 and 21/22 of each month would be a weekend.
I'm sure there is something i have overlooked but to save any more tinkering with the calendar, perhaps one big tinkle to make each week 7 days long, each month 4 weeks, slide in an extra month to make a year 13 months long with 364 'real' days in the year and a 'free day' thrown in where we get a breather before doing it all over again.
I'm sure calendar makers may kick up a bit but they would be drowned out by all those people born on 29th February who will now have a day of their own to celebrate on each year, March 4th.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Casting The Trump Binding Spell

After 50 days in power and with mass protests failing to unseat Donald Trump, there has been a change of tactics and now the witchcraft community are stepping in to have a go at shifting that massively rotund figure out of the White House.
Witches all around the World are joining forces to cast a spell on the Trumpster and the five step process began on the stroke of midnight on 24th February and will continue at midnight on March 26th, April 24th, May 23rd and culminating on June 21st, the summer solstice.
The spell is a Binding spell which won't turn him into a frog or anything but is used to restrain someone from causing damage and is harmless to the recipient but is hoped will stop him doing anything stupid and is easily cast with a few household items.
As you might expect, this has not gone down well with God-fearing Trump supporters who are combating the spell with one of their own, a sort of keep the Trump doing stupid things spell, and warning of it being a recruitment drive by Satanic groups.
Should you be an experienced proponent of the dark arts, a coven owner or merely interested in stopping Donald Trump before he sends us all to hell in  handcart, the instructions for the spell are as follows:

1. Cut out a picture of Donald Trump

2. Write 'Donald J Trump' on an orange candle

3. Light the candle and recite the following ritual on the stroke of midnight   
    Hear me, oh spirits of Water, Earth, Fire, and Air
    Heavenly hosts Demons of the infernal realms and spirits of the ancestors
    I call upon you To bind Donald J. Trump
    So that his malignant works may fail utterly
    That he may do no harm to any human soul
    Nor any tree, animal, rock, stream, or sea
    Bind him so that he shall not break our polity
    Usurp our liberty or fill our minds with hate, confusion, fear, or despair
    And bind, too, all those who enable his wickedness
    And those whose mouths speak his poisonous lies


4. Light the photo of Trump from the flame of the orange candle and say:
    So mote it be!
    So mote it be!
    So mote it be!


5. Blow out orange candle

All done and repeat on April 24th, May 23rd and June 21st and with a bit of luck the spirits of Water, Fire, Earth and Air will hear all those witchy voices and thwart him but just in case i will find out about that changing into a frog thing.

Dutch Say Nee To Wilders

While one right wing racist screwball with funny hair in a seat of power is one too many, we have avoided him being joined by another by the Dutch taking a look at Geert Wilders and saying 'Nee Bedankt' to him and his extreme right wing policies.
Although only based on exit polls, the ruling VVD Party is reported to have taken 21% of the in the Netherlands with Geert Wilders' PVV party is believed to have won 19 seats (13%) although after recent elections, polls increasingly come with a fairly hefty health warning.
Labelled an 'undesirable perosn' and once banned from coming to the UK, Wilders has campaigned to stop what he calls the 'Islamisation of the Netherlands', compared the Koran to Mein Kampf and has campaigned to have the book banned in the Netherlands while advocating ending immigration from Muslim countries and supports banning mosques.
It’s the first of three key European votes this year in which extreme right wing parties are hoping to match the success of Donald Trump in the United States with France next to trek to the polling booths next month and a general election in Germany is due in September.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Brexit Explained

If, as expected, Theresa May triggers Article 50 this week and fires the gun for the two year countdown for Britain leaving the EU (Brexit is shorthand for British Exit), there are some terms that you will hear plenty of in the next week.

First up is Article 50 itself which is the formal notification of the UK's intention to leave the EU.

Next is The Single Market which is an association of countries trading with each other without restrictions or tariffs. The EU is the largest Single Market in the World and Britain's biggest trading partner with 45% of the UK's exports going to the EU.

Another common term will be Hard and Soft Brexit with a Hard Brexit being the UK refusing to compromise on issues like the free movement of people and trading with the EU as if it were any other country outside Europe and the EU treating Britain the same and apply tariffs making the import and export of goods and services more expensive.
A Soft Brexit is some form of membership of the European Union single market in return for a degree of free movement of people but no tariffs.

You are sure to hear about The Customs Union which is a group of countries that have agreed to charge the same import duties as each other and allow free trade between themselves with little or no customs checks and charges.

The European Economic Area (EEA) is the area that provides the free movement of people, services and capital within the European Single Market.

European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the judicial institution of the EU and settles disputes between parties and ensures that European law is interpreted and applied in the same way in every member state.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is the global organisation that deals with rules of trade between nations and if Britain takes the Hard Brexit option as above, will negotiate between Britain and the EU members.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: 20 Years On

The first working television system was exhibited in January 1926 but it wasn't until March 1997 that it discovered it's true purpose when Buffy the Vampire Slayer was first shown on it.
Hard to believe that it's 20 years since the first episode of Buffy was aired, a show that tops my list of all time favourite programmes and whose box set takes pride of place in my TV Cabinet, all seven seasons and 144 episodes of it.
It doesn't feel that long but to watch it now and see how young the actors and actresses who lived above the Hell Mouth in Sunnydale look, does give a tinge of 'where did those 20 years go?'
The last scene in the brilliant Buffy series was the scooby gang stood watching the entire town of Sunnydale collapsing into the Hellmouth cavern, leaving a large crater and Dawn saying 'What are we going to do now?'
Good question, so what have the cast of Buffy the Vapire Slayer been doing since the last show aired in 2003?

Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Geller)
Gellar moved from TV into movies, most well know being 'I Know What You Did Last Summer', 'Scream 2' 'Scooby-Doo' and 'The Grudge' and married fellow Scooby actor Freddie Prinze Jnr. She is still making movies today and has started up a business selling baking kits for children.

Willow (Alyson Hannigan)
Alyson shifted her Willow character across to Angel and then starred in the American Pie movies and has been a permanent fixture in the TV sitcom 'How I Met Your Mother'. She married Alexis Denisorf who played Wesley in Buffy.

Xander (Nicholas Brendon)
Brendon stayed in TV and appeared in another long running TV series, Criminal Minds, and now writes Buffy comic books.

Angel (David Boreanaz)
The easy on the eye Boreanaz starred in his own vampire based TV series spin-off Angel until 2004 and after making an appearance in the 2004 Dido 'White Flag' music video, stars as FBI Special Agent, Seeley Booth, on the television crime drama series Bones.

Cordelia Chase
(Charisma Carpenter)
Carpenter moved from Buffy to Angel and then onto another supernatural TV show Charmed. After appearing in several TV shows, she played the role of Lacy in The Expendables movie.

Spike (James Marsters)
Despite his immaculate English accent, Marsters is American and also made the move across to Angel and appeared in Smallville, the Dr Who spin-off Torchwood and the short lived revival of Hawaii Five O but has carved out a career narrating audiobooks.

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alesix Denisof)
Denisof was another who joined the cast of Angel and then moved into theatre after that series ended in 2004, his name was mooted when the James Bond character was up for discussion. He has made fleeting appearance in 'How I met Your Mother' alongside his wife Alyson Hannigan and appeared in movies 'The Avengers' and 'Much Ado About Nothing' and currently appears in the MTV television series Finding Carter.

Dawn Summer (Michelle Trachtenberg)
Trachtenberg starred in Six Feet Under and in the movies 'Harriet the Spy', 'Inspector Gadget', 'Black Christmas' and appeared in several TV series.

Oz (Seth Green)
Green went on to create 'Robot Chicken', appear in movies 'The Italian Job', 'Party Monster' and 'Austin Powers' series but is most well known for his voice role as Chris Griffin on Family Guy.

Anya (Emma Caulfield)
Emma was already known from previous appearances in Beverly Hills, 90210 but since dying at the end of Buffy, she has appeared in movies 'Darkness Falls' and TiMER.

Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland)
On leaving the Buffy series, Sutherland attended a photography course and subsequently set up a studio specialising in portraits. She has also appeared in several American television shows.

Faith (Eliza Dushku)
Dushku was another who joined the cast of Angel and then into her own supernatural series, Tru Calling. Her movies include 'True Lies', 'Wrong Turn' and 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back' and has voiced several characters in video games.

Drusilla (Juliet Landau)
Landau also joined Angel and has since appeared in several Tim Burton projects

Riley (Marc Blucas)
Blucas has appeared in several TV shows, most recently 'Underground'.

Nice to see that they have continued in TV and cinema and every now and then someone suggests a reunion and possibly a new Buffy film but as much as a Buffy fan as i was, and still am, i want to remember the wise-cracking teenagers of the late nineties and early noughties as they were, to try and recapture the magic again would spoil the one TV show that was as near to perfect as it gets.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Chinese Respond In Kind

The Chinese have repsonded to the annual US State Department report on human rights practices in China by publishing their own one pointing out how America's human rights record isn't exactly glowing.
The American report highlighted China’s domestic policies, criticised Beijing for neglecting civil and political rights and stated that the government curtails freedoms in Hong Kong and Macau.
In reply, the Chinese report pointed out how the US presidential election was full of 'lies and farces' and was driven by 'power-for-money deals', had 'no guarantees of political rights' and was conducted amongst large-scale protests.
It then moved onto an easy target, Americas insane gun laws as proof of 'continued deterioration in some key aspects of its existent human rights' as well as worsening racial discrimination, illegal detentions at unofficial holding facilities, torture and coerced confessions of prisoners and the money dominated political parties.
It ended with a stinging rebuke for 'continuing to trample on human rights in other countries, causing tremendous civilian casualties in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia'.
Glass houses and all that America, glass houses.

Trump Visit Pushed Back Again

The latest update on Donald Trump's visit to the UK so we can all throw things at the racist sex pest has been moved again which is certainly making things difficult for people who have already made up witty placards about him for the protest.
Now the visit has been shifted towards 'the end of the year' which is vague enough as is the places he will be allowed to go which currently stand as just Scotland.
The way things are going he will turn up at midnight at some time in November, have a whistle stop tour of Glasgow airport and be back on the plane to America before breakfast.
Although the Government can't come out and say it, the rumours are that they are hoping that he will be forced out by then so they won't have to deal with Putin's best buddy and avoid the whole debacle which would be a good bet the way he is going.
One leader who will be visiting though is King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain will stay at Buckingham Palace as part of a state visit in June and unless it turns out that he is also a vagina grabbing racist who mocks the disabled and is a pathological liar, the placards will have to stay at home for this one.

Brexit Consequences Becoming All Too Real

Former Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, has said that Ireland would never be 'mad enough' to leave EU and with Theresa May's end of March deadline to trigger the Brexit fast approaching, the implications are our ridiculous decision starting to hit home.
In the news has been the EU exit bill, as much as £60 billion, which the EU negotiators are saying would have to be settled as one of the first things in the Article 50 negotiations and before any talks about trade can take place.
Brexiteers are arguing that Britain should not pay which will make for interesting negotiations with a desperate Britain and the EU as the largest single market in the World and its 500 million potential customers.
As Britain's largest export market, we can't afford to upset the other 26 countries in the EU, especially as the trade contracts that the Brexit gang were confident would come flooding in from elsewhere don't seem to be landing on Britain's doormat quite liked they promised.
If Theresa May turned around and said leaving the EU would be far too detrimental to our economy and the whole Brexit thing should be binned she would face a backlash from the 52% who voted 'Out' but she won't be remembered by future generations as the Prime Minister who oversaw the self-inflicted economic death of Britain courtesy of the half of the population who were mad enough to vote to leave.

Right Wing Hopes Fading In French Elections

One thing the World could do without is a major World player delivering yet another right winger to the top seat and in France Marine Le Pen has slipped behind the former socialist Emmanuel Macron who is expected to win the first round in the election after picking up the voters fleeing Francois Fillon after his scandal with his wife and her fake Government job.
Fillon's campaign has been battered for weeks by allegations that he paid his wife Penelope hundreds of thousands of euros of public money to be his parliamentary assistant, but she actually did very little work if any.
The way the French election works is that after the first round of voting, the top two go forward in a straight head to head and Fillon and the Socialists Benoit Hamon are far behind Le Pen and Macron who are a shoe in to be the last two standing when the 7th May election takes place.
Another factor is the farce playing out in America where the right wing Donald Trump is making a monumental mess of everything and the France are too savvy to vote for an equally divisive and racist character themselves, or so the reasoning goes.

Aliens Could Have Beat Us To Travel Plans

Professional brainiac Prof. Stephen Hawking came up with a good idea a while back, using light from lasers to propel tiny spacecrafts at the speed of light across the cosmos and other scientists have now come to think that aliens may be doing exactly that which would explain the strange flashes they keep seeing.
Scientists have been pondering just what the weird flashes detected in distant galaxies could be and after dismissing it being a natural phenomenon, are now considering they could be powerful transmitters sending ships on interstellar voyages.
Professor Avi Loeb, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, said: 'Fast radio bursts are exceedingly bright given their short duration and origin at great distances, and we haven't identified a possible natural source with any confidence. An artificial origin is worth contemplating and checking'.
They estimate that the energy levels responsible for the bursts would be enough to push a payload weighing a million tons and large enough to carry living passengers across intergalactic distances.
Exciting, or possibly dangerous, possibilities that other civilisations could be roaming the Universe and civilisations that are technologically so advanced that they have built and operate the thing that we, or Stephen Hawking anyway, has only just thought of.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Another Conservative Party Lie

May 7 2015:  "We will not raise VAT, National Insurance contributions or income tax". Conservative Government in election campaign.

March 8 2017: 'The main rate of Class 4 National Insurance contributions for the self-employed to increase from 9% to 10% in April 2018 and 11% in April 2019'. Conservative Party Budget

The surprising thing is not the broken a manifesto pledge, we all remember the 'NHS is safe in our hands' pledge while the Tories were cutting funding and running it down, but the fact that anyone could be surprised by it.
The 'Nasty Party' tag is richly deserved. 

The Irish Women's Fight For Choice

Abortion shouldn't be a 'womans problem' but it very much is and Ireland has an almost total ban on abortions including in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormalities which pushes thousands of women every year to travel abroad for terminations and others to risk taking abortion pills purchased over the internet.
On International Women's Day on Wednesday, women across Ireland have protested for a change in the law which is currently a 14-year prison sentence.
Women across Ireland today stopped work and wore black while demonstrating for the law to be repealed, a law which was lobbied for and gained in the early 1980s by the country's Catholic hierarchy.
More than 3,500 Irish women are estimated to travel abroad every year to terminate pregnancies, mostly coming to England while many more, estimated at three a day, take illegal abortion pills ordered online.
The law hasn't stopped abortions but just pushed them into British clinics and to bathrooms to take pills which are lawful elsewhere.
Abortion is a life changing decision and far too important for other people to decide, whether they be politicians, religious leaders or well meaning pro-life campaigners.
It should only be the decision of the people directly involved with the help of professional advice and then be left to make their own decisions and deal with the consequences if necessary but mostly it is far too important a decision to have someone else remotely make the choice for them and what they can and can't do with their bodies and lives because of their own beliefs.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The North Korea Problem

When Barack Obama left office, he reportedly told the incoming President that the gravest security risk that the newcomer would face would be North Korea and in light of recent developments, he was probably correct.
North Korean President, Kim Jong-un, has become increasingly provocative recently with ballistic missile tests landing in Japanese waters, the expected assassination of his brother in a Malaysian airport and the 'hostage taking' of Malaysian officials.
The West has used a mix of mix of diplomacy, sanctions and incentives to try and bring North Korea into line but under Kim Jong-un, the country has seemed hell bent on flexing its muscles backed by its arsenal of nuclear weapons.
The Wests appears impotent in face of the provocation and seems to be in danger of sucking in the US, Russia and China to dangerous levels.
The US Pacific Command have announced they will be sending military equipment to South Korea but both China and Russia have object, arguing that it upsets the regional strategic balance and leading to China closing South Korean-owned retail outlets in protest and curtailing Chinese tourism to South Korea.
Beijing have said that: 'The consequences of this are on the shoulders of the United States and South Korea. They should not keep going down the wrong path and will definitely be taking necessary measures to safeguard our own security interest'.
China and Japan have both announced increases in military spending after the Americans announced an increase in their own defence budget so it could be that the Obama warning about North Korea could turn out to not only be a problem for the inexperienced and capricious President but a problem for all of the rest of us.

Consequences Of Russian Revolution 100 Years Ago Today

As revolutions go, the French one is second only to the Russian one for world wide consequences and it all began 100 years ago today when the Russians marched in protest in Saint Petersburg (then known as Petrograd) demanding the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II over the Russian involvement in WW1, the monarchy's crackdown on demonstrations and bread shortages.
The protests would lead to the rise of the Communists and the eventual overthrow of the Government by the Bolshevik Party comprising of leaders Stalin, Lenin and Trotsky who would form the Soviet Union and spread Communism throughout Eastern Europe and Asia.
Trotsky wanted to spread Communism around the World but on the death of the brains behind the revolution, Vlaidimir Lenin, the erratic Stalin took over the reigns, had Trotsky assasinated and began his reign of authoritarian rule which ended with the death toll attributed to Stalin at 50 million excluding wartime casualties.
Communism and the fight by the West against its growth became the defining feature of the middle and late 20th Century and continues today with the rise of China to Superpower status and it all began by protests a century ago.  

Why Less Young People Are Smoking

With the Government budget tomorrow expected to pile as much as 50p onto a packet of cigarettes, figures released today from the Office for National Statistics show that less young people are lighting up with 20% of 18-24 year olds smoking compared to 25% five years ago.
Even among the age group most likely to smoke, 24- to 35-year-olds, about 40% smoke compared to 65% previously.
Of course its a good thing but i don't buy the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Charity who say the results are due to a combination of effective legislation, policy and support for quitting.
In my dealings with teenagers, the most effective combination in the decline in smoking has been the exorbitant price of cigarettes and the rise of electronic cigarettes.
Where before the clouds of smoke above the smoking areas would cigarette smoke, now it is plumes of sweet smelling vapour and i have not seen a decline in the numbers huddled under the smoking area in recent years, just a change in what they are puffing on.
In 2015, three out of every 100 16- to 24-year-olds used electronic cigarettes, up from one in every 100 in 2014and in total 2.3 million people in the UK are using them.
The concern quite rightly is that Vaping could prove a gateway to smoking for teenagers and the fruit flavours of some e-cigarette liquid could make them more appealing to children.
The NHS recently agreed that while Vaping is certainly the more healthy option when compared to smoking, it still comes with it's own dangers so the best option is not to start but i say if you are going to start, go with the e-cigarettes because not only are they not as bad as cigarettes, they taste better and £10 a day for a packet of cigarettes compared to the £10 a month you spend on the nicotine liquid for the e-cigarettes will mean less strain on your finances.

Who Wants A St Patty's Day Hat?

The Irish symbol of a Shamrock is World Famous so you would have thought nobody would be dim enough to get it wrong...and then along comes Donald Trump who is plenty dim enough and gets it all hilariously wrong by using a four leaf clover instead.
With St Patrick's Day fast approaching, the small handed one stopped signing racist executive orders long enough to try and reach out to the large contingent of Irish folk in America by flogging them a green baseball cap with an 'embroidered four-leaf clover" on the back.
In a move that pretty much sums up everything about the hapless Trump, his party then put out a tweet advertising the hat with the words 'Need a hat for St Patty's Day?
Many Irish voices were quick to point out that what is on the hat isn't an Irish shamrock and it's called St Paddy's or St Patrick's but certainly, never, ever, St Patty's.
It could be that Trump and his gang of numbnuts are celebrating someone called St. Patty who has the four leaf clover as his symbol or he has once again shown his staggering ignorance and got it disastrously wrong again and made himself look an even bigger idiot and to be fair, that is far more likely.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Meaning Of Life & Other Unanswerable Questions Answered

Maths has always been my strong point, 75% of the time i can deal with most things mathematical but the other third i have to throw my hands up and just admit that i don't know the answer.
There is no disgrace in saying that you don't know the answer to a question but even the Internet sometimes comes up empty handed which is why Ask Jeeves has a list of questions that it deems 'unanswerable'.
The list includes the most unanswerable questions amongst the 16 million a month it gets asked with the top enquiry being 'What is the meaning of life?' followed by 'is there a God?'
I think i can say to Jeeves, 'Leave this to me, i'll take this one' and have a go at answering them so first up is the elusive 'What is the meaning of life?'.

Hmmm..lets see now, the meaning of life is to go from the cradle to the grave being the best possible person that you can be, to do the best you can for yourself and others and when your life ends, knowing that during your allotted time on the Earth you made at least one persons life better for you being here.   

Next up is 'Is there a God?. Simple answer is no, the 'God' as we know him today was created from a mix of other religious stories around at the time and they were all based on a mix of other stories at their creation so if there is a real God, then he would be the one of the earliest civilisation, the Sumerians, and their God was called An who would sit in judgement on humans and from who all the other religions branched out from, taking bits of pieces of each previous 'God' story that went before them as they began their own. 

What is the best way to lose weight? is the next unanswerable question but simply put if you take in more calories then you expend, then the excess is stored as fat and fat makes you heavier. The best way to lose weight then is to use up more calories each day then you take in so the body uses it's fat stores and you lose weight.

Is there anybody out there? Consider how our own Solar system has eight planets and our solar system is just one of tens of billions in our own Milky Way galaxy and there are tens of billions of other galaxies each containing billions of stars each.
That's an extraordinary amount of planets orbiting those billions and billions of stars and potential homes of other forms of life so the odds of there not being other life out there on any of those other planets must be minuscule and it happened here so why not on any of those billions multiplied by billions of other solar systems?

Working through, the next unanswerable question is 'Who is the most famous person in the world?' This is tricky but using the dictionary definition of the word 'famous' which is: 'know by many people', it would be hard to find someone who doesn't know the name Adolf Hitler. Jesus would be another choice but that potentially opens the doors for fictional characters so i'm going to plump for Adolf. 

What is the secret to happiness? Another tough one but being with others who make you smile and make you feel good, accept that the bad things are there to make the good things feel even better, do things that make you and other people happy and never give yourself an opportunity to say 'I wish i had done that', just do it.

Finally, how long will I live? is the last unanswerable question and this one really is unanswerable, you could be the healthiest person on the planet but that won't matter a jot if a bolt of lightning strikes you on the way to the shops this afternoon so the best answer is potentially tomorrow so don't waste today.

There you go Jeeves, all the unanswerable questions now answered.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

All The Small (Green) Things

The demise of guitar bands from today's music is a sad state of affairs with the late 90's the last time we had a decent run of pop punk groups like Blink 182 but even they faded away as the Pop Idol and X Factor acts began their deathly dull grip on music.
Tom DeLonge was the guitarist and co-vocalist of the 182 trio but by 2011 he had thrown his guitar back into it's case and set off to look for new things to discover, one of which is aliens.
DeLonge has been busy scribbling a book about UFO's and has been named UFO researcher of the year by top UFO Hunting Organisation, Open Minds.
DeLonge says his contacts includes sources within the aerospace industry, NASA and the Department of Defence and in his acceptance speech stated that he has 'an announcement within the next 60-ish days' which is expected to be an anti-gravity craft that he claims he has seen in action.
If there wasn't something out there would be shocking but if Mr DeLonge does ever set up a meeting with them i hope we finally get an answer to why they come all this way just to mutilate our livestock and anally probe drunk American rednecks?

Thursday, 2 March 2017

I WIll Stick With My Lumia Phone Thanks

Along with the new Millennium came the Nokia 3310 and i was a proud owner of the small, grey block that allowed me to text and make phone calls but more importantly play Snake.
As time went on and phones moved on it went into the back of peoples drawers, replaced by more up to date phones with internet access and more bells and whistles but now it's back with a facelift to include a larger screen.
There does seem to be some interest in the phone from almost two decades ago and at £41 a pop, it is affordable to own as a back up to your main phone but what do you get for your four tenners and a pound coin?
The internet is 2G so it will be as slow as an asthmatic elephant going uphill on a bicycle and there are no apps but you do get an MP3 player and a battery that will last a week without a charge so it is just a phone being a normal phone but with that famous Snake game.
It is hard to see where smartphones can go now, they are all pretty much the same and apart from adjusting the screen size, they can all do whatever the others do now so without a forward direction to go, maybe the direction of travel is now backwards with
a nostalgic nod toward retro phones. 
Nostalgia sells well, you only have to listen to people who wax lyrical about vinyl records to see that those particular rose tinted glasses need a good wipe.
At £41 i'm sure they will sell by the lorry-load and they will be good back up phones but i can't see many giving up 4G internet access, a mega pixel screen and camera and apps for a phone that harks back to the days of T9 texting with a physical keyboard but can see how it would be popular with campers and festival goers as you don't need to charge it every 2 hours.
What it did do though was make me look up a Snakes game for Lumia phone and spend an hour reliving the joys of chasing dots around a screen with a meandering line of pixels.  

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

What Americans Hate About Britain

Americans living in Britain have ganged up to make a list of things that they dislike most about living in the UK and i think in the scheme of things we don't come out of too bad.
The top gripe was the weather which even we Brits moan about but rather than embrace our '4 seasons in one day', they hate the feeling that it was always either going to or had just rained and and have an entire summer when the sun never really comes out.
Second was our food, especially bacon (too lean), baked beans (bland), Marmite (tastes vile)
Public transport came next with signal failures on the trains and rude people rushing through the doors before exiters had time to get off which to be fair drives me mad also.
The it was the Royals but also on the list was our taps and the way the hot and cold taps are separate which leads to the question have they not mastered the art of filling the basin and not just shoving their hands under the taps yet?
The last on the list is the wonderful British custom of hating anyone who shows off or 'gets above their station' and bitching about them to 'bring them down a peg or two'.  
As Americans are renown for telling everyone their accomplishments and achievements within 15 seconds of meeting them, that one must grate a bit as the usual retort to anyone boasting about their income or their qualifications is inevitably greeted with a sarcastic 'Oooh, get her' quip and a shoulder as cold as the blue tap which they have just washed under.

George W Bush Rehabilitation Obscene

There is a new King Kong film out this year but it was another big chimp everyone was looking at today as George W. Bush stuck his head above the parapet to stick it to Donald Trump over his self destructive behaviour over the American media.
The previous holder of the most vilified American President has said that the America media was 'indispensable to democracy' and that 'independent media was needed to hold people like him to account'.
Maybe his memory is not so good these days because it was exactly because the American media didn't hold him to account that he was able to get away with his outrageous claims that led directly to the carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan and continues to today.
Maybe the man who launched a blatantly illegal war based on lies Donald Trump himself would appreciate, thinks that enough time has passed and is set to try and rehabilitate his reputation which saw his dismissed as both a simpleton and a warmonger.
It was the lack of media scrutiny that helped Bush sell the news of Iraqi WMDs in 2002 so no surprise that he is defending them, if they had properly challenged the Bush administration on his WMD claims, then the Middle East would be less of the murderous basket case case that it is today.
George W Bush, along with his equally void of truth junior partner, Tony Blair, should be left to fester somewhere far away from the public because there is nothing that he can do or say which will wipe away the million dead Iraq men, women and children.
Someone should point out to him that up to now, he has got off scot-free for the war crimes they he committed and the lies he told to invade a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 or had Weapons of Mass Destruction so he should shut his lying mouth and sit down because any attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of the former warmongering President, as Blair if discovering, is obscene and his return to our TV screens and newspaper pages is far from welcome no matter what message he tries to relay.

Comparing IRA To ISIS Is Lazy And Wrong

The new reviewer of terror legislation has landed in his big comfy chair with a bang and his first announcement in his new job was to declare that the UK faces terror threat from Isis not seen since the IRA were blowing things up in the UK.
I'm sure that he has his own reasons for making a comparison to ISIS who have launched no terror attacks here the IRA who planted bombs regularly and murdered scores over decades but it does give us a chance to show how times have changed when it comes to dealing with terrorism.
These days we are raining down bombs on countries that host terrorists but back in the day bombing Ireland was never mentioned.
Today Muslims are treated to extra security measures and surveillance but i don't remember seeing a Catholic having extra checks done on them.
The regular mantra is that we won't deal with terrorists but not only did we meet with the IRA but we made them part of the Government.   
Finally the 'threat' has seen draconian security measures spring up everywhere to limit our freedom in the name of security but it was very much different during the IRA bombing campaign where it was very much 'stay calm and carry on, don't let them disrupt our lives'. 
A cynical person would say that the Government hype up the threat to justify increasing surveillance, war and the inhibitive cost of the military, including nuclear weapons, while the countries economy gurgles down the plughole but those of us who lived through the troubles and came within a whisker of being an IRA victim, know that the threat from ISIS today and the IRA back then is not only frivolous and lazy but just plain scare mongering.

Trump Postpones State Visit

It was fortunate that the visit of US President Donald Trump as only pencilled in for July because he has decided that he wants to come once 'things have calmed down' and the Queens diary now has 'Sex fiend coming to visit' written in it for October.
Downing Street has insisted it has not set a date but the US President and new best friend of Russia had been expected to travel to the UK for his controversial visit in however, he has been scared off by the widespread protests and has reportedly asked for a rain check.
The plan was to shuffle him up to the North to Scotland to avoid the inevitable protesters and an awkward non-appearance at the House of Commons after MP's savaged the new President.
Seems that we will have to wait until Autumn to say a big friendly British 'Howdy' to the man with the little but grabby hands, if he is still President then of course.