Saturday, 31 December 2016

Celebrity Deaths 2016

It has been such a dire year that we may as well stick with the dark theme and ask have more celebrities died this year than normal years?
We lost some great singers such as David Bowie, Prince and George Michael. Leonard Cohen died also.
The two that stung me the most was Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder but we lost some big names such as Paul Daniels, Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, Glenn Frey, Victoria Woods, Andrew Sachs, Jimmy Young, Fidel Castro, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Rick Parfitt and Carrie Fisher. 
The obvious person to ask would be the BBC's Obituaries Editor, Nick Serpell, who counted the number of BBC obituaries that ran across radio, TV and online since 2012 and found that twice as many notable people had died in 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, and five times as many as in 2012.
There is the tricky question of who even counts as a celebrity or even 'notable' 2016 seemed to be dangerous and fateful for the famous.
In 2012 there was 16 obituaries, 2013 saw 24, 2014 there was 29 obituaries, in 2015, it rose 32 and for 2016 and for 2016 it stood at 50 with the most deadly time to be famous over the Christmas period when eight more 'notable' people died within a two-week period.
So as a person who deals in the consequences of a famous death, why does he think more famous people died this year?
He thinks that the increase is because we're now half a century on from the flourishing of both TV and pop culture in the 1960s, which massively expanded the overall pool of public figures and depressingly, he thinks the trend will continue into 2017.
Seems we will have to get used to hearing more obituaries of the famous.

Another Gone From The Cast Of MASH

The celebrity death toll for 2016 has been desperately large and the grim pleasure of the final star to fail to see in 2017 goes to M*A*S*H* actor William Christopher or Father Francis Mulcahy as he is probably better known.
To anyone over 40, M*A*S*H* was one of the most loved television series and almost always makes an appearance in the list of TV critics best ever shows.
The show may be over 40 years old but it still appears regularly on TV stations still today which is testament to the amazing writing and strength of the characters in the series.
My favourite was always Hawkeye Pierce played by the very underrated Alan Alda and Harry Morgans character Colonel Sherman Potter but all the characters, even the minor ones, were great to watch and it always amused me to see some actors cutting their acting teeth in the show who would become big names such as Patrick Swayze, Ron Howard, Leslie Nielsen and Shelley Long. 
As the show was around from 1972, most of the shows actors are now in their 70s and 80s so who have we lost from the 4077?
Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) is still alive and kicking as is Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Loretta Swit),  Max Klinger (Jamie Farr), Radar (Gary Burghoff), BJ Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell) and Charles Emerson Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers). 
Sadly bugged out are Col. Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan), Dr. Sidney Freedman (Allan Arbus), Trapper John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers), Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson), Frank Burns (Larry Linville) and now Father Mulcahy (William Christopher).

2016 Predictions Summary

With all that happened in 2016, it must have been a great time to be a psychic and so we can look back at what Canadian Psychic Nikki predicted and see how much she got right. ?

    Fidel Castro dies
    A huge crash at a Formula One race, killing many.     x
    Nile River overflows into Egypt.            x
    Earthquake in Egypt, damaging the pyramids.        x
    A city will turn sideways after earthquake activity    x
    Boat sinks in the Danube River, Hungary        x
    A past President will pass away in a plane crash    x
    Helicopter crashes into Empire State Building    x
    A new breed mixture of dog and cat.            x
    A new President's head at Mount Rushmore.        x
    A change in the British Monarchy            x
    A plane goes into Eiffel Tower in Paris        x
    North Korea attacking South Korea.            x
    Prince Charles will become King             x
    Hillary Clinton becomes the next US President    x
    David Beckham, will split from his wife, Victoria    x
    Justin Bieber will portray Elvis Presley in a film    x
    A pet parrot will kill a movie star.        x
    Change in the British Monarchy            x

With the exception of 90 year old Fidel Castro dying, Canadian Nikki sucked and even got the 50/50 USA President one wrong.
Worst of all it was the worst ever year for celebrity deaths but not one of them went to meet their maker due to a parrot related incident.

A Plan To Fill British Coffers

What with the bankers royally doing us over to the tune of a couple of hundred billion a few years ago, the country has been on its uppers ever since and after almost a decade of austerity, the Government are still having to make large cuts and now thanks to 52% of Brits, we also have Brexit to deal with and the economic fallout from that so Britain is having to find new ways to raise funds.
As nobody seems to be charging around making a record for us, we are forced into more extreme measures but thankfully i have hit upon a solution.
Britain was once a hotbed of inventiveness, back in the Victorian era it was us Brits who came up with most of the things we use today and as far as i am aware, we never copyrighted any of it so now is the time to charge the people of other nations for using the things that we invented.    
Anyone with a light bulb cough up, is that a telephone i hear ringing? Another British invention so make out the cheque and don't even think about flushing that toilet before paying and how much toilet paper did you just use, we are charging per square for that particular invention.   
Vacuum cleaner in the hallway cupboard? Just allow five working days for that cheque to clear before using it again thanks.
All this causing a bit of a headache? Try an aspirin, after paying Britain for it of course.
Need a holiday? Going by train? That train going over a bridge? Reading a comic on the journey? Britain says kerching!!
Maybe you can watch some TV to take your mind off how much you owe us Brits. American Express will do nicely Sir what with us inventing the TV and everything.
Problem solved, austerity over and as you are reading this you must be on that other British invention the World Wide Web so you will be automatically billed, thank you and it has been nice doing business with you.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Gonna Need A New Calendar

As if this year hasn't been bad enough, scientists are making us wait even longer to see the back of it as they adjust the clocks to compensate for a slowdown in the Earth's rotation.
Waving goodbye and good riddance to 2016 will be delayed by a second as clocks will change from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60 instead of 00:00:00 as they slip in the extra second.
The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service in Paris decide when leap seconds are needed and this is the 27th time a leap second has been introduced since 1972.
My question would be if the Earth's rotation is so erratic that we have to keep slipping in seconds here and there, and we have had to add almost half a minute over the last 44 years, what about the 4.5 billion years if every 100 years we are out of sync approximately by a minute?
That's about 10 mins every 1000 years, 100 mins every 10,000 years 1000 mins every 100,000 years 10,000 mins every 1,000,000 years...and then my maths fail me but a million years throws us out by 694 days. 
If a British billion is a million million then 1 billion x 694 days means up until 1972 we had lost 69,400,000,000,000 days every billion years so over 4.5 billion years that's...whatever, the bottom line is the Earth is more than 4.5 billion years old if you add on the minute every year for 4.5 billion years that have been missed up until 1972.
If this is the case then all the timings we have for the big bang, creation of the stars and planets, the Earth forming, how long the dinosaurs ruled the earth etc are out of whack.
I have emailed the National Physical Laboratory and the International Earth Rotation and Reference Service so will see what comes back from them but until then the calendar makers should be told to hold fire because saying next year is 2017 could be very, very wrong.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Wiggins Retires Under Cloud Of Suspicion

Farewell to cyclist Bradley Wiggins who has announced his retirement from cycling although it wont stop the investigation continuing into the 'medical package' he received just before the 2011 Tour De France.  
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee which is leading the investigation have said that British Cycling have been able to provide a paper trail of how the package delivered to Wiggins but does not give details of what was inside the package. 
A decongestant called Fluimucil say Team Sky who Wiggins was cycling for although they are unable to answer the question why it cost £600 in travel costs and a four day journey to send something that according to the committee was 'readily available in France and could easily be obtained at any chemist' concluding that 'a lot of people looking at this say it just looks odd'.
Wiggins and Team Sky are under scrutiny for his use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) which Wiggins, an asthma sufferer, sought to 'put himself back on a level playing field'.
Wiggins was granted a TUE before the 2011 Tour de France, his 2012 Tour win and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
The committee have previously said that: 'It seems difficult to get precise records about what was in this package, why it was ordered - the detail you would want to know'.
It may be that Team Sky was just very sloppy in keeping records but it really doesn't look good and Wiggins retires under a cloud of suspicion in a sport where performance enhancing drug seem to be rife.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2017 Has To be An Improvement

Things can only get better so goes the 1994 D:ream song but for an optimist, i am feeling pretty pessimistic about 2017.
I have never bought the claim made by some that the media accentuates the virtually non-existent danger from terrorists, violent crime, war, disease and natural disasters by reporting all the bad news and ignoring all the good.
The media is just a mirror that reflects on things that happen, it is wrong to blame the mirror for what it is showing. If there was an audience for just good news then someone would be selling it so there is a reason that there isn't.
What the mirror has shown is that 2016 has not been a good year by any stretch of the imagination and it is hard to see how simply by changing the calendar to 2017 will help the millions struggling on Zero Hours Contracts or the disabled who have had their benefits slashed or cut the growing queues at the food banks or help the mentally ill and sick who cannot get the treatment they need because of huge austerity cuts to the NHS. We haven't even begun the Brexit disentanglement yet with the negative dividends all that brings.
Globally the world's most powerful nation has just elected a childlike, vain, irrational and dim blowhard as it's president and Climate Change will continue to ramp up the self-inflicted horrors as the globe continues to warm while the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Palestine will not be ending anytime soon as nor will the ISIS and Al Queada branches of terrorism.
All in all 2016 has been an awful year and it will take some beating so being an optimist we could say that 2017 HAS to be an improvement on this year but the bar has been set so low that it will be like getting hit by a truck rather than a train.

Is The World Lurching Right?

A question that i have been asked more and more recently is if the World is taking a lurch towards the ideological right?
Britain certainly has a right wing party controlling things and from the irratic musings of Donald Trump the USA has also taken a turn that way as has India, Japan and Poland. France is seeing a wave in favour of right-wing parties with Marine Le Pen being considered a serious challenger to socialist president Francois Hollande in the 2017 presidential election.
Formerly Socialist paradises of Scandinavia are leaning right-wards with right of centre parties in Sweden and Denmark doing well in opinion polls and the Netherlands, Venezuela and Hungary too are witnessing an ideological turn to the right.
Some of the reasons for the rightwards political shift in countries are a combination of economics and security due to austerity measures, the rise of ISIS and the refugee influx which has made Europe more nationalistic and insular.
A decade of austerity measures across the globe has made many people more 'selfish' and less keen to spread the wealth to those less fortunate who receive benefits, a landscape favourable to right wing policies.  
Eastern Europe has closed its borders to refugees, citing fears over Islamist violence carried over from Syria, Iraq and Libya while Donald Trump wants to build a wall, ban Muslims amnd keep a register or database of Muslims in the USA.
My reply is that right wing policies do seem to be holding the upper hand due to the economic crash in 2008 creating a landscape that allows right wing ideology to flourish, that of the fear of others in terms of terrorism and the undeserving receiving 'something for nothing' such as benefits and tax relief.   
The right wing politicians keep their foot on the throttle, ramming home the same message that they are either coming to blow us up in our beds or clean out the national bank account by taking benefits and the electorate take it on board and vote for the side that promise to keep us and our money safe.
The left, ideologically less likely to inflict the harsh decisions on the population have no answer, hence a swing to the right.   
In short, yes, the World has taken a swing to the right because due to the Great Recession of 2008, the landscape is fertile ground for right-wing parties who continue to keep the landscape exactly where they need it to be by generating fear (economy, terrorist, scroungers) among the electorate.
As with right wing parties, the ground usually shifts back when they try to drag the electorate too far to the right and impose a policy which exposes the right for what they really are, nasty.  

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Pathetic Israel Playing The Victim

Sickening to see Israel running around acting like the victim after the passing of the UN resolution demanding an end to the building of settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. 
After the pathetic and predictable squealing that the vote was due to the rampant antisemitism that infects the United Nations, Israel has called back its ambassadors in New Zealand and Senegal and summoned ambassadors from all of the countries that voted for the resolution.
It has also cancelled aid programmes in Angola and Senegal and all planned vists with Theresa May which seemed to confuse the UK Government who said the PM was unaware of any meetings planned with him.
Mr Netanyahu also took aim at Barack Obama and said the US administration had: 'not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes'.
All very dramatic but no amount of this drivel covers up the fact that Israel is the one very much in the wrong and it is about time the UN caught up with it as it has been literally getting away with murder in Palestine for the past 60 years.
In the investigation of the last Gaza incursion, the United Nations found the Israeli Defence Force guilty of using Palestinian children as human shields, deliberate bombing of civilian houses and UN buildings and targeting innocent civilians in the war which was 'a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population'.
It is Israel who throw the spanners into the works whenever the chance of peace talks is raised so it can continue with the status quo while it mops up Palestinian land.
Israel is the occupier, illegally seizing and building settlements on Palestinian land, defying UN resolutions, killing innocent Palestinians, holding over 9000 Palestinians in its prisons, destroys farms, bulldozes homes and businesses and builds a monstrous wall deemed illegal by the international court of justice and turns Gaza into an outdoor prison.
Israel is becoming more and more isolated Internationally and the latest attempt to try and shield itself from condemnation and presented itself as the wronged party would be laughable if it was not actively carrying out a genocide against its smaller neighbour, a genocide that America has been funding and until last week gave approval to.
Israel needs to be bought to heel and hopefully this will be the start of the process and the real victim, the people of Palestine, will finally get justice.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Rick And George: 2016 Not Finished Yet

Carrie Fisher may have managed to wiggle free from the Grim Reaper that has been particularly reaping the famous in 2016 but not so Rick Parfitt and George Michael who have both died over the Festive period.
I saw Status Quo in their pomp in the 80s, they were part of a radio roadshow and after the live event ended they came back on the stage and rattled through the best of their back catalogue while the roadies waited to take down the set. 
While true they only seemed to play three chords and the songs all sounded similar but the duo held their hands up to that and as Parfitt said himself: 'We're Status Quo so whose songs are they supposed to sound like?'   
George Michael i was not so much a fan of but like Quo, he was an ever present from my teenage years and i count 'Last Christmas' as one of my favourite Christmas Songs while 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' and 'Careless Whispers' takes me back to carefree, teenage years of youth clubs, concerts and school discos.
Michael's best years were a long way behind him and he had gone off the rails over the last decade or so, the drugs and the pressure of fame sending him into a spiral culminating in his arrest on Hampstead Heath after which he shut himself  away from the public eye.
'Rocking All Over The World' seems to be the popular choice on the radio to commiserate Parfitt and Quo while 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' has been the most heard song today for George Michael and though both musicians were background music for me at the time, they are a link back to long forgotten, fond memories of people i have not thought about for over 25 years which makes music such a powerful tool.   
Hopefully, 2016 has finally finished with it's spiteful harvesting.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Message From The World Right Wing Parties

Welcome to the Christmas Broadcast on behalf of The World's Right Wing Parties.

I would like to start with the story most associated with this time of year, the story of the birth of Baby Jesus which begins with Joseph and Mary traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem and being turned away by a succession of inn keepers.
Of course, as immigrants, the inn keepers were perfectly right to turn the couple away but one
do-gooder lefty bleeding heart proprietor, instead of telling them to stop taking beds which properly belong to the people of Bethlehem, allowed them to stay in their stable condemning his customers to the inconvenience of the faint sounds of the foreigner howling in pain as she gave birth.  
Taking advantage, they not only emptied out the manger to make a makeshift bed for their bastard child born out of wedlock, but they disrupted the animals and made a right mess of the hay.
As usually happens if you let the foreigners in, chaos follows with a massive, bright star lighting up the stable further disrupting the inns paying customers sleep and the stable quickly filling with uninvited shady looking foreign men illegally bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh which they had smuggled through customs and would reduce the value of the commodities, further hitting the wages of Bethlehem's hard working shepherds.  
The story does have a happy ending though as good King Herod upheld right wing values by ordering the slaughter of the first-born of all moany, whinging, liberal, anti-Roman traitors and although we in the World Right Wing Party don't condone such action today, well, let's say that if they hadn't been there then they would have been safe.
So we wish you a very Merry Christmas and great New Year to all unless you are a Muslim or a lily livered lefty in which case  we say to you go live in North Korea and see how you enjoy the festive season there, commie liberal scum.  

Peace To (almost) All

Sargent Brown's Strange Christmas Eve Story

It had been a quiet Christmas Eve so far for Sargent Brown on the front desk of Bethlehem Police Station and he was humming along to the Christmas tunes on his radio and eyeing a third mince pie when in burst three shepherds roughly manhandling an Angel. 
The Sargent managed to quiet them down long enough to hear what the problem was.
'There we were, washing our socks and watching X-Factor on ITV and then he turned up and kept turning the TV over to BBC'.
The Sargent looked at the Angel and asked him for his version of events.
'I was just trying to draw their attention to the birth of the child of our Lord who has come to save all mankind' said the Angel handing over his business card which read 'Gabrielle, arch-angel'.
'Ok, if you promise to leave the TV alone' he said to the Angel, will you promise to go see this miracle baby after X-Factor has finished?'
All agreed to the compromise and left Sargent Brown to his radio and plate of mince pies.
His telephone ringing interrupted the 'We Three Kings' song on the radio and before he could speak an angry voice bellowed down the phone 'I WANT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE NOISE'
'The taxi and the car were bad enough zipping through the town but the man wearing the crown and riding a scooter and honking his hooter was the last straw'.
The Sargent promised he would send out a camel backed Officer to check and hung up. 
Just as he was considering what a strange night it had been a cacophony of noise from outside and in stepped an irate innkeeper.
Sargent Brown sighed as the innkeeper explained how he had allowed a couple to stay in his stable as he was fully booked but when he went to check on them they had not only emptied out the pig trough to lay their baby but the cows couldn't get to their hay and the sheep were being sick because they had eaten some frankincense that the couple had carelessly left laying around. 
Keen to empty the car park of livestock, Sargent Brown said he would investigate in the morning and the inn keeper stomped away.
'What a weird night' Sargent Brown sighed and looked out of his windows at the snow that began to gently fall. In the distance he saw a black car driving towards the police station.
It screeched to a halt at the door and out jumped a man dressed like a bat.
'Officer, Officer' he shouted bursting through the station doors, 'Robin has flown away and i found these on the motorway' he held up a pair of knickers with the name 'Property of Father Christmas' written on the inside. 
That's it, i'm off' Sargent Brown said and pushing the Bat dressed man out the door, clocked off early locked the station doors and went home to watch the Bethlehem's Got Talent Christmas Special.

Friday, 23 December 2016

The Real 12 Days Of Christmas

As if it isn't bad enough that the religious people try to claim Christmas, but they have been sneakily getting us non-religious folk to sing songs about their religion. Grrr...why i outta...
Apparently, between the years 1558 and 1829, being a Roman Catholic in England was frowned upon so the sneaky little Pope lovers wrote a song and cleverly disguised it as a Christmas Carol about birds and drummers and milk-maids so they could sing it with a nudge and a wink at the hidden meaning.
While we think that the Twelve Days of Christmas is about some lovestruck gentleman inundating his betroved with more and presents in the build up to Christmas, what he is giving is Catholic tinged Christanity instead.
We don't know if she would have preferred five real gold rings or a couple of trutle doves rather than a bunch of Catholic gifts but this nis what she ended up with cluttering up her home.
The 12 drummers are the 12 points of belief in the Apostles Creed, 11 apostles, 10 commandments, 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit, 8 beatitudes, 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, 6 days of creation, 5 books of the Old Testament, 4 gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, 3 gifts of faith, hope and love, 2 Old and New Testament and 1 Jesus himself.
I guess Jesus would want his own room but the 11 apostles would have to share but you can't help thinking that the woman must have thought to herself:  'Why can't he just get me perfume like normal boyfriends'. 

The What Of Who?

Quite ironic that Christmas is a religious festival but religion doesn't actually play any part in it for the vast majority and a YouGov poll, a total of 4% of Britons gave up God and all that holy jazz in 2016 leaving just 28% who say they believe in the big guy upstairs compared to 38% who call themselves atheist and don't.
The influx of Europeans from abroad swelled the Church congregations but Brits giving up on God has been on the rise since the turn of the century but 2016 saw the largest fall with the fall in bible carrying religio's is put down to a combination of terrorist attacks, controversial election results, and the deaths of a string of beloved celebrities.
The poll shows that 46% of 18 to 24 year-olds reject the idea of God or a higher power, while only a quarter of those aged 65 and over feel the same which shows that in the coming years religion will become even more of a rump and we may move away from all things religious, except Christmas of course in which case we will continue to celebrate the birth of Gods son by not actually mentioning or having anything to do with him.

Too LIttle Too Late From Obama

Something that drives me to distraction is when on leaving office, politicians come out and say that they knew something was a bad idea at the time but for whatever reason they kept quiet or didn't agree with something but did nothing to stop it and so it is with Obama who has had eight years to slap down Israel but did nothing.
When it comes to Israel, America is complicit in one of the greatest crimes against humanities since they were the recipient of it during the second World War so it is about time Obama stood with the rest of the World in condemning Israeli settlements on Palestinian land with a binding UN Security Council resolution even if he didn't so much vote with everyone else but abstained.
America usually veto any condemnation of Israel and the original resolution which declares Israeli settlements illegal was put forward by Egypt but  withdrawn under pressure from the incoming President Trump but was this is a welcome step but was re-tabled by New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela and voted through 14-0.
The UK said it gave 'clear reinforcement' to the illegal status of the settlements and the Palestinians called it 'a day of victory' and a 'big blow' to Israeli policy.
If Obama had shown such backbone to Israel at the start of his eight years then we could have saved so many lives and been so much further down the road to a peaceful resolution rather than far too little far too late in the dog days of his administration.
Now, as the resolution has been passed, let's see the UN reinforce it.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Obama Stiffing Trump Before He Goes

Obama seems to have come up with a great wheeze to stop Donald Trump and his band of not so merry men from following him running roughshod over everything by passing laws before he goes and making them permanent.
The current President has issued a ban on new oil and gas drilling in 120 million acres of US waters off the coast of Alaska and in the Atlantic in response to Trump saying that he will expand offshore oil and gas drilling.
Environmental groups say that the ban will be too difficult for future presidents to reverse and the White House has said the language of the statute does not give authority to future presidents to undo it.
As yet Donald Trump has not responded with a mispelled tweet but maybe there were women in the room and his hands were elsewhere but he will probably scrawl something childlike soon enough.
It is a great thing Obama has done though, not only protecting the environment but hamstringing Trump before he gets his greedy little ginger tinged mitts on things so he should expand the practise and push through more laws that Trump can't undo.
As Trump is a nutter surrounding himself with warmongering crackpots, he could abandon nuclear weapons and turn all the silos into flowerbeds before disbanding the military and making them all gardeners.
He could pass an irreversible law that states anyone who voted for Donald Trump, laughs at Seinfeld or believes in God are now deemed mentally challenged and therefore unable to vote or handle a knife and fork.
Then on the way out of the door, make all fast food restaurants close and be turned into Charity shops and anyone who takes a fancy can keep a gun but make it illegal to own bullets.
As a very last law, just as he is fishing out the front door keys to hand over and the removal van is idling on the driveway, announce that it is law that a new series of Buffy The Vampire Slayer HAS to be made.
Then he can scoot off into the sunset knowing that the ginger wigged sexual deviant who has taken his job will be spending the next four years just twiddling his tiny little thumbs and avoiding Nigel Farage.

Winter Solstice

It's going to be a long night tonight, literally, as its the Winter Solstice and the shortest day and longest night of the year.
At 10.44pm GMT tonight, the Northern hemisphere will be at its farthest tilt of 23.5 degrees away from the sun which also means that in the Southern hemisphere they will be the closest to the Sun for another 364 days so will have their longest day of the year.
The shortest day of the year lasts for 7 hours 49 minutes and 41 seconds in Britain but the day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June.
One of the places to be this evening is Stonehenge which is a prehistoric monument aligned on a sight-line that points to the winter solstice sunset.
Might be a bit chilly though and a Pagan white sheet and fancy pillow case on your head won't cut it so you may need a fire and by great coincidence according to Scandinavian legend, 21st December is the very day to burn the yule log and collect the ashes to place under your bed to stop it from getting hit by lightning.
You could also take along a snack and as luck would have it, according to Iranian myth, tonight is the very night to eat watermelon, carrots, pears, garlic, pomegranates and green olives to ensure your  health and well-being.
So grab you best bed sheet and a box of matches, take an axe to the City Center Christmas Tree and raid the vegetable tray in the fridge and you should not only stay in good health but you also won't be woken up by a billion volts of electricity going through your mattress.

Gonna Need More Carrots Rudolph

The Jet Stream is responsible for where the Atlantic storms land and over Christmas it is slap bang over the UK so all the wet weather will give us a direct hit and so say hello to Barbara who is visiting Friday and then Conor who steps into her place on Christmas Day. 
Rather than relatives though they are storm systems bringing heavy rain and severe gales but thew worst news is that as the Jet Stream blows from West to East and Father Christmas travels east to west, it could also slow Santa down as he will always be flying against the energised jet stream.
The MET Office advice is to leave Rudolph a few extra carrots this year as he may expend more energy then usual but they think everything should be fine and they are grown ups with big computers so they should know.

Monday, 19 December 2016

British Values? No Thanks

For some reason the Government are considering a plan to make Brits swear an allegiance to British values but the problem for those of us who pay attention, some British values are just awful.
Without even mentioning our colonial past where we raped, pillaged and enslaved large swathes of the World, there isn't much going in Modern Britain which to be proud of.
A perennial favourite is Democracy, something many young men and women have been sent to die for by old, white men but because of our electoral system, parties (like today’s Conservatives) can win and govern alone on the votes of less than a quarter of the electorate, the three quarters who said they didn't want them running our lives are left twisting in the wind.
Are we supposed to be proud of our military who have been encamped in the Middle East since 2003 and have participated in such illegal wars as Iraq, Afghanistan and are currently dropping high explosive on Syrians?  
Hand in hand with the military is arms sales, only last month we cleared the major receiver of our arms, Saudi Arabia, of human rights abuses only to discover today that they had been dropping British made and sold cluster bombs on the people of Yemen.
In 2015, Britain trousered £5.2bn by selling arms to countries listed as being of 'human rights concern' by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, including Saudi Arabia, Libya, Israel and Ukraine.
Since Brexit, attacks on immigrants and refugees has doubled and characters such as Nigel Farage, him of the Nazi propaganda poster, are popping up in other nations cheerleading for more division.
Then we have the Government closing social services and cutting benefits but refuse to see the link between their actions and the lengthening lines at the food banks.
Trying to get us to swear an oath to Britain is just a line which appeals to the ignorant and xenophobic because if anyone took a good look at what we have done and what we continue to do home and abroad, who in their right mind could say with their hand on the their heart that they are proud of the values that Britain represents.
The best value i can come up with is the way we refuse to be kowtowed by Government Ministers trying to force us into fake patriotism.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Little Saint Nick

We all know bits and pieces about Saint Nicholas, the man who threw some coins down a chimney which landed in a sock and set in motion the story of the jolly fat guy in the red suit who would replace his boss's kid as the face of Christmas.
The Beach Boys may have called him Little Saint Nick and according to experts they got that right as he was only a tiddly 5ft tall. 
Not only is he the patron saint of sex workers but according to a reliable source, the St Nicholas Centre, he was able to stand unaided at one week old and refused to breastfeed on the holy fasting days of Friday and Wednesday.
In 325AD he settled an argument with a Bishop about Jesus being as holy as God by punching him in the face for which Nick was thrown into jail where Mary appeared to him and gave him a Bible.
He also brought back to life three children who had been hacked to death seven years previously and when he died he was buried in Turkey until 1087 when a group of Italians decided his remains would be much better served in Christian Italy so broke into his tomb and dragged what was left of him back to Bari where he (well, a few bits of bone) remain today.
As his bones are said to leak a sweet smelling liquid, this is mixed with holy water and sold for £160 for a 2 ltr bottle so you too can feel close to the man who broke a holy mans nose in the name of  peace and goodwill.
If you do buy the holy water and dead Turk cocktail, just don't drink it on a Wednesday or Friday, Nicholas wouldn't like that.

Ayatollah Almost Got Our Number

Iran has responded to Theresa May's description of the Middle Eastern country as 'a threat' by calling Britain 'a source of evil'.
During a summit of Gulf Arab heads of state, the British Prime Minister said that she was ' clear-eyed about the threat that Iran poses to the Gulf and the wider Middle East'. 
A clearly annoyed Ayatollah Khamenei replied that: 'The damage that the UK has caused in the Middle East over the centuries is incomparable to others' and blamed London for provoking conflicts in the region'.
'For centuries, Britain has always been the source of wickedness and evil among nations of our region. The strikes that these Britons have blown against the lives of our neighbours are incomparable to others' Khamenei continued.
Of course it is an outrageous slur against our nation that we have been a source of evil and provoked conflicts in the Middle East.
We have also done it in Asia and Africa as well, get it right Ayatollah!!

Dictionary On Your Xmas List Donald?

When you see Donald Trump you get a strong feeling that either nobody has the cojones to take him to one side and say Donald, the hair, the orange skin, you look a complete knob mate or he just doesn't realise just how much of a fool he looks.
Obviously when you hear him speak it just confirms that nobody has taken him to one side for
a quiet ear in his shell-like if the assault on the eyes and ears isn't enough, he has decided that he also wants to make himself look a dingbat in writing also, hence the Twitter account.
So we are treated to the Trump tweet that the Chinese seizure of a US drone in the South China Sea was 'an unpresidented act'.  
Two hours later, when a grown up had presumably read it,  the tweet was deleted and replaced by one with unprecedented correctly spelt. 
Amusingly the media did the now normal 'lets laugh at the incoming idiot' report rather than the story which is that China plucked an American drone that was 'collecting scientific data' out of the sea and America are asking for it back. 
Despite him telling us how intelligent he is, having the spelling skills of a 7 year old does not prove he will be an awful President but, well, have a look America and ponder that he is about to spend the next four years representing your country in the wide World.
I am sure that the simpleton will be treated with all the respect he deserves, as the already regular mocking of him proves but to be fair, he does make it easy.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Avoiding The Christmas Office Party

Due to reasons that i never really understood, our Office Christmas meal this year turned into nibbles in the staff room and it seemed to go down very well, mostly because nobody had to pull an 'Office Party sickie' to avoid it this year. 
The Christmas Office Party can be a minefield and more and more of my colleagues have decided the best way to avoid it is to come down with a convenient minor illness just before them.
As someone who has managed to dodge quite a few work Christmas parties in my time, i feel qualified to pass on some tips to avoid possible repercussions after the sad looking Christmas Tree beside the water cooler has been packed away.
Most important is to feel a bit 'off' the day before the party , lay the groundwork as they say, so just throw out there to a few colleagues that you don't feel so well today and if you can make a few groaning noises or hold your head and look sad even better.   
The second tip is on the day don't turn up at work, phone in sick and do the tried and tested, hang-upside-down-off -the-edge-of-the-sofa-when-you-phone-in-sick to get that right 'sick' tone in your voice. If the above had gone well then your colleagues will be fooled into going down the 'well, he/she did say they didn't feel well yesterday, poor him/her'.
An important point is when you return to work after the holidays to hear the salacious gossip of what went on when you were tucked up with a mug of Lemsip, remember what illness you had so that you can describe it later. A heavy cold may not cut it so Noravirus is a good one, nobody will want to dwell on the details your bodily fluids being forcibly excreted.
Just make sure that whatever ailment you had which prevented you from joining your colleagues for an evening of forced fun and avoiding the amorous advances of Timothy from IT, make it a short, sharp one which you miraculously recovered from days later with no long term, ill effects. 
Everything being well, you can spend the evening watching TV and not have to spend time with the people you only spend time with because somebody is paying you to.

Trumps First War

It is never clever to make predictions, you can end up looking very foolish when they don't appear, but a safe prediction is that the incoming American President, at some point during his tenure, will have a war.
With Donald Trump in charge of the Worlds most formidable military and with 7,000 nuclear missiles tucked away ready to use, it is an even more frightening thought the man who is widely believe to be the worst possible person to call himself President, will soon be calling himself President.   
Before he has even landed his ample derriere in the Oval Office, he has annoyed the Chinese, the Palestinians and the Iranians and it is towards Tehran that we should be looking for Trump's (first?) War.  
Firstly he has made some eye watering appointments to his team who will be enacting his foreign policy, all who are disdainfully eyeing the Iran nuclear deal.
Possibly in anticipation how how the next few years will play out, the Iranian President has given the go ahead for plans to create nuclear powered warships although the current administration in the White House have played down the news, saying the ships remain within the framework of Iran's original commitments.
Along with the new Trump neo-cons, the  piranha in the tank of the Middle East, Israel, have never supported the Iran deal and were actively pushing to bomb Iran at the time until restrained by the USA.
Another variable is Russia, who Trump appears to be cosying up to and who are very friendly with Iran so which way Putin decides to go could be a deciding factor.  
Throw in that Iran is fighting on the side of America in Syria and that's a massive hornet's nest which Trump may wisely decide shouldn't be poked too firmly.
Then again, the words 'wise' and 'Trump' never seem to sit together so who knows what he is thinking but it appears the Iranians could have decided that they need to make themselves less of a target for the incoming President with a warmongering team looking for a war to wage.

Christmas Of Discontent

With commuters on rail services facing yet another day of strikes,  Post Office workers pushing ahead with walkouts and now airport staff going on strike and grounding planes, could be a bad time to travel or post a letter.
As the country continues to struggle after almost a decade of austerity, the level of industrial unrest is unsurprisingly on the rise.
The number of working days lost to strikes in the first 10 months of 2016 has already passed last year's total, with junior doctors, teachers and Government employees withholding their labour during the year.       
While the public are mostly behind strikers, walkouts over Christmas could have a negative effect on any sympathy the strikers have, particularly in sectors like travel and mail delivery where people rely on them more than usual at this time of year.
Choosing to strike when demand is at its height is a very useful bargaining tool but it has to be played the right way to save it turning into a Public Relations disaster and both sides, the employees and employers, are relying on the other taking the blame for the disruption.
At the moment the public are backing the workers but overplay their hands and the mood can very quickly change.

Can We Have Our Drone Back Please?

The US has issued a formal request to China to deliver an unmanned underwater drone that was seized US officials say.
The Chinese navy seized the US underwater research vessel in the South China Sea.
I'm sure that China will hand it back in pristine condition...once they have taken it apart, photographed and studied it and then put it back together again. 
I'm sure that if it was only in the region 'testing water salinity and temperature' they won't find much.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Wrong To Celebrate Ponzetto's Death

Hunters don't generate much sympathy and quite rightly so but i can't join in the celebration of the death of Italian hunter Luciano Ponzetto who has died after slipping on ice and falling 100ft down a ravine.
His death occurred while he was out hunting but although he was doing something abhorrent at the time, it's still the death of a person with a family who will mourn him.
Karmic possibly but some of the messages being left on social media where they are to be celebrating his death leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Killing an animal for fun or a thrill is barbaric but celebrating the death of a human being, even a sick one like Ponzetto, is just wrong.

Smiling Politely

Britain has become the first country on the planet to give the go ahead of the 'three parent' baby where the nucleus from the egg of one woman is implanted into the egg of another woman and fertilised from the sperm of the father.
As usual one group are not happy about it and nobody is surprised to hear that it is the religious amongst us who are saying that it is scientists 'playing God'.
As the whole idea is to prevent children being born with devastating genetic diseases, you do wonder if the religious types are happy for children to be condemned to genetic disease where many children die young with mutations to the brain, heart and muscles when we have the power to prevent it.
As science trumps religion in every possible aspect, we should treat with contempt the views of those who would have us back in the dark ages and living our lives according to a God that blatantly doesn't exist.
The progress of science is far too important to be dictated to by the sort of people who would condemn a child to an early death to avoid angering an imaginary person in the sky.
Let's just smile, pat them on the head and then completely ignore them.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Taking The Hassle Out Of Christmas

Some people find the Festive season stressful, more and more i hear people getting worked up about the million and one things that need to be done before December 25th rolls around on the calendar and i think i may have come up with the answer, simply change the calendar.
I don't mean take down the one with kittens in various cute poses hanging in the kitchen and replace it with one of topless fireman, i mean ditch the new Gregorian version for the old Julian one.
Ever since Pope Gregory decided to ditch Julius Cesar's method for telling what the date is, December 25th has been on December 25th but under the Julian calendar December 25th was actually on January 7th.
This quirk came about when we changed calendars in 1752, the Pope shifted the date on eleven days and since then, they have drifted another two days apart as 1800 and 1900 were leap years in the Julian version, but not in the Gregorian and anyway, the Julian way had been good enough for 1,500 years before a man with a funny hat stuck his oar in.      
So with the new old calendar, Christmas Day would now be January 7th which means not only an extra 13 shopping days but the January sales will be on so that's a massive saving on presents straight away.
As most people take down their decorations before twelfth night on 5th December, dragging home the neighbours discarded Deluxe Danish Pine Christmas Tree is another huge saving.  
December 25th and 26th are bank holidays so everyone gets them off regardless of if they want them or not but as a follower of the Julian calendar, you will get January 7th off also, woe betide any employer who tries to stop you taking a day off for your beliefs.
Finally, you get to dodge the awful Office Christmas Party and you get to celebrate New Years on January 14th so you avoid the guilt of spending Gregorian New Years Eve in a sweaty pub necking your 10th bottle of Bacardi Breezer and singing Whitney Houston songs while the barman tries to entice you down from the table with cake or spending it with your parents drinking tea. 
The best thing though is that you can change back to the Gregorian Calendar and lose those 13 days again later in the year, a few days before your partners birthday would be especially cost saving.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Ban Them All!!

Unless you collect war memorabilia, nothing any good has ever come out of the collection of right wing groups that crop up like a fetid verruca on the foot of mankind so it is a good idea that the Government has started banning the whack-a-doodles that inhabit that side of the ideological fence.
First to be told to do one is the a neo-Nazi group called 'National Action' described by the Home Secretary as 'racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic' meaning that anyone who is a member or seeks support for the group faces arrest.
'They stand for hatred, glorify violence and promotes a vile ideology' she said which should make it interesting when Donald Trump comes visiting as during his Presidential campaign he made all three a central plank of his misguided musings. 
I guess they could just ban him now and save the embarrassment of demonstrations when he shows his ugly orange face and teeny tiny penis hands this side of the Atlantic.

Why Only Anti-Semitism?

As commendable as it is, i'm not sure why the Government has decided to crack down on anti-semitism when there are plenty of other forms of hatred against groups going on but Theresa May is rewriting the definition of anti-semitism in an effort to tackle hatred against Jewish people.
The Prime Minster said culprits were getting away with anti-Semitic behaviour or language 'because the term is ill defined' so now the official definition is that anti-semitism is 'language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews' which seems amazingly close to what i thought the definition was anyway.
The problem is when anyone criticises Israel, the Jews automatically scream 'anti-semitism' to try and shut it down which only waters down the shouts when real anti-semitism is spouted.
I once had a long discussion here with someone who tried to choke off any criticism of Israel by calling me an anti-semite during one of the many times when Israel was pounding Gaza and his argument was that by me having a go at Israel, I was also having a go at Jews because they are the only Jewish state.
My argument was if that is the criteria then any criticism of England is anti-Church of England because we are the only Church of England nation.
By all means attempt to stop anti-semitism but don't forget that there are plenty of other groups suffering discrimination who could do with a crack down also.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Computer Decision Makers

A throwaway line about 'computers controlling everything' got me thinking, what if they did?
When you consider that the financial collapse was in 2008 and eight years on we are still under austerity measures and with yet more to come, the politicians are blatantly not up to the job.
The very people we elect we improve things are doing the exact opposite and politicians of all flavour's don't seem to have the answer so maybe it is time to think of an alternative decision making regime, computers.
Computers now regularly pass the Turing test where they out-think us humans so if the problems of the World are so complex why leave the decision making to fallible Presidents and Prime Ministers where mistakes are fatal when you can have complex problems solved by machines that can think faster, better and with more clarity than we do like in an Isaac Asimov novel.
We wouldn't need politicians or elections, just a workforce to feed it all the information there is about economic and political conditions and out comes the judgement free from human bias, or as free from human bias as you can get while there are humans involved in the process.
If artificial intelligence beats the best human brains in practically every field, why not let them make the big decisions?
Of course the increase in AI does have a creepy side, what's to say that at some point the machines view us as the cause of all the Worlds problems and decide that what the World needs is less of us humans around mucking things up?
No doubt, a future where major political decisions are made by machines is disconcerting, but looking at some of the people in power or coming into power very soon, isn’t the human way equally worrying?

Thursday, 8 December 2016

2016 Best Band In Heaven Support Group

As anyone who has read this blog for any length of time will know, i am the manager/promoter of the Best Band In Heaven which is made up of the best musicians and singers who have taken the trip upstairs through the Pearly Gates.
So far, 2016 has seen our ranks swell considerably as a bumper crop of talented music makers have cashed in their chips but none of this years new arrivals have managed to dislodge the current line up of: Bonham, Lemmy, Strummer, Hendrix and Mercury belting out the tunes.
We did consider either Prince or Bowie replacing Freddie Mercury (especially as Mercury was, as the Devil diplomatically put it while trying to swipe the Queen front man for his Best Band in Hell, as gay as a treeful monkeys on nitrous oxide) but we decided that Mercury was the better singer and God said he would keep him.
With so many musicians and singers kicking their heels it has been decided that for this years Christmas tour, we would have a warm up act consisting of just the musicians who have died this year.
We started with the easy choices, of the list to choose from, the singer had to be Bowie with Prince on lead guitar.
Leonard Cohen fancied his chances but he was quickly told to go do one as was Pete Burns, Prince Buster, that guy from the Beastie Boys and Colonel Abrahams.
The only drummer we have is Dale Griffin from Matt The Hoople so we gave him the sticks and we went with Rainbows Jimmy Bain over the new arrival Gregg Lake on the bass as God hates his 'I Believe In Father Christmas' song.   
With the line up complete and 16 days to practise for the 24th December concert, I have to go and explain to them again why ACDC's 'Highway to Hell' isn't an appropriate opener.
No rest for the wicked they say!!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Actors Giving It All Up

I often thought if i was a well paid movie star, i would rock up for a couple of films, swell my bank balance astronomically and then just bugger off and get a proper job with my reputation, fame and place in film history untarnished.    
Seems a few big names did just that such as the mustachioed, Hawaiian shirt wearing Tom Selleck who had a good run in the '80s and '90s but gave it all up to but a farm and grow avocados.
Rick Moranis of the 80s banked the cheques from Little Shop of Horrors, Ghostbusters and Honey I shrunk the Kids and just stopped turning up at film sets anymore.
To be fair to him it was after his wife died of breast cancer but with his best acting years coming 20 years, he now admits he sits in his room playing with his computer.
Freddie Prinze Jr did it the right way, turned up for I Know What You Did last Summer and Scooby Doo and then just gave it up although he did marry Buffy or Sarah Michelle Geller as she is also known.
Unfortunately Sylvester Stallone, Nicolas Cage and Steven Seagal kept at it.

Trusted Professions 2016

Nurses and doctors are the most trusted profession while Government ministers, estate agents and journalists remain at the bottom of the Trust league according to the Ipsos Mori 2016 Veracity Index which annually assesses which roles are most trusted by the public.
Politicians are trusted by just 15% of people with journalists standing at 24% trusted while at the other end 93% of people trust a nurse.
69% trust the clergy, police get 71% while hairdressers score 68% which is higher than economists and central bankers who have the trust of 48% of people and to honest asking financial advice from the lady who puts in your highlights is a safer bet if the state of the economy is anything to go by.
That said, i wouldn't trust Boris Johnson with a trip to the canteen to buy me a sandwich but we made him Foreign Secretary which explains where we may be going wrong.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

That's Gotta Hurt

Things that bite and sting are not such a problem for us Northern Hemispherers at this time of year but for those unlucky enough to be on the other side of the Equator its prime bitey, stingy time and an Australian man has just had his second brush with a spider who took exception to him urinating on his toilet bowl home and attacked the source.
For the second time, the man was turning up at his local hospital, pulling down his boxer shorts and asking his doctor to take a look.   
While a stung penis sounds very painful, science has found out that while a throbbing todger may hurt, there are more painful places for a spider to stick its fangs. 
Prof Adam Hart of the University of Gloucestershire said that fleshy parts of the body, where there's extra room to inject venom and greater capacity for swelling and areas with a lot of nerve endings are the most painful but one scientist, the stupid or brave Justin Schmidt, went above and beyond the call of duty and actually devised an experiment to establish which was the most painful part of the body to receive a sting - he inserted a bee's stinger into different parts of his own body and ranked the pain on a scale of one to 10.
The least painful locations, he found, were the upper arm, skull and tip of the middle toe while the worst were the nostril, the upper lip and the penis shaft.
While the Aussie with the rapidly swelling penis may have been uncomfortable, he was lucky the spider never made it to his nasal cavity but not as lucky as the doctor who had to treat him, lucky in that science has progressed enough that sucking the poison out of the site of the bite isn't the cure any longer.

War Against Christmas

Christians call it the reason for the season which means up until Jesus was born we only had Summer, Autumn and Spring but putting aside their lack of basic planetary science, the more religious amongst us have been rattling their rosary beads in annoyance that the Christ part of Christmas is being forgotten and the Prime Minister agrees, saying that we should no longer tolerate a situation in which people are afraid to mention Christmas.      
She has a point, the Tesco by me has the words 'CHRISTMAS' in six foot high red letters in their window, just imagine how big they would be if they wasn't afraid to mention it.
Despite the Christmas Trees in every office and enough tinsel decking the halls to reach Pluto, my colleagues and i at work have to lock ourselves in a cupboard and post a guard in order to discuss arrangements for the Office Christmas meal.
It’s a symbolic victory for Christmas that we are going out to celebrate Christmas at all, or to give it the proper name now that we dare not seem to mention Christmas anymore, the 'Midwinter celebration of the Earth tilting to at the optimum angle to create minimum daylight lunch'. 
The Prime Minister is right though that nobody mentions Christmas anymore, in the Shopping Centre today only 90% of the shops staff wore Christmas jumpers or elf hats under banners proclaiming 'Christmas Special Offers' while asking me if i want a bag while Wizard wished it was a Christmas Everyday and Wham tunefully told us about what they did with their heart Last Christmas. 
'We want to ensure people are able to speak quite freely about Christmas' said the PM and i agree, we should be proud and celebrate Christianity and all that it stands for, minus the stoning gays to death and the whole God thing because that's just ridiculous.

Give Trump A Chance

He hasn't even planted his ample backside in the Oval Office chair yet and everyone is jumping all over Donald Trump as if he is going to usher in the end of the World.
Yes he comes across as childlike and a disaster waiting to happen but unlike Obama or Bush before him, he hasn't yet started any wars and isn't responsible for the deaths of untold hundreds of thousands and misery across the globe.
All we can do is give him a chance and wait and see what happens, he may surprise us and turn out to be the greatest thing that happens to the World.  
One thing we can anticipate is who he is surrounding himself with ready for when he gets handed the nuclear codes and the ability to put into practise all those things he has been promising.
Hmm...not looking too good is it.