Thursday, 28 February 2019

Growing Use Of Predictive Algorithm's Worrying

Amazon uses a predictive algorithm to suggest items to buy, based on a customer's previous purchases and viewing history. Facebook's suggested friends feature predicts who users might know but aren't connected with online which is fine in the no so serious online
world but predictive algorithms are now being used in the more serious real world to advise on possible future outcomes.
Almost a third of the UK's police forces are also using predictive algorithms to fight crime and at least 53 councils are using computer models to detect problems from traffic management to benefits sanctions before they happen, according to new research by Cardiff University.
Users say that these algorithms mean problems can be predicted and therefore prevented which sounds dangerously like profiling to me and we have been there before and it was abandoned as unworkable.
Bristol City Council have been using it for years and have a database and a set of rules based on benefits, school attendance, crime, homelessness, teenage pregnancy and mental health to predict which children could suffer from domestic violence or sexual abuse and who then receives the extra support.
Kent Police are using a predictive algorithm to help decide which cases to follow up with further investigation based on historical information.
Apart from the large amount of information collected about a person to be able to derive an accurate profile, it has echoes of The Minority Report where computers advise the Police to arrest suspects prior to any crime being committed.
That the Police, or Council, would ignore a warning issued from a Computer regarding a person based on events that have not yet happened may not yet be so worrisome but will soon be as it becomes more and more influential in the hands of those who make the decisions.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

20C In Winter Isn't Right

If wildfires in the Arctic Circle isn't enough to make you wonder if something is wrong then Winter temperatures of 20.3C in the UK should stir something in even the most spaced out of slow to stir brain cells. 
This weekend i joined others sat outside a heaving riverside pub, most people wearing short sleeves and a few hardy ones in shorts but most with sunglasses either balanced on top of their heads or doing their job of blocking out the sun shining down from a cloudless, blue sky.
It may be a familiar scene in June, July or August but this is February and still Winter and this could only be happening after a sustained period of seriously messing with the atmosphere. 
Hearing it described as 'glorious' and 'beautiful' rather misses the point that however nice the warmth may feel, you shouldn't be able to sit outside at this time of year in clothes meant for Summer without turning a nasty shade of blue and shivering your teeth loose.
The top 20 hottest years on record have all happened within the past 22 years but the sting comes when the sun goes down at at around half past five and the temperature drops and you suddenly realise that wearing that thin blouse and skirt or short sleeved shirt and shorts wasn't such a good idea.
It doesn't bode well for the rest of the year when the even higher temperatures kick in but mostly why is it not jolting in the brains of the people who can actually do something about it that 20C in Winter is very, very wrong.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Handing The Chagos Islands Back

A nasty remnant of the British Empire is that we still cling to some parts of the World where we really have no right to be, the Falklands and Gibraltar the most obvious but the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean is another one until today anyway when the UN's Highest
Court ruled that Britain's actions were unlawful and that it must be handed back to Mauritius 'as soon as possible'.
It is half a century since the UK took control of the Chagos Islands and evicted the entire population of 1,500 before inviting the US to build a military base on the largest atoll, Diego Garcia.
The British Government has offered the pathetic excuse that: 'The defence facilities on the British Indian Ocean Territory help to protect people here in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats, organised crime and piracy'.
A poorer excuse is hard to think of and a dreadful throwback to our dark colonial times that the Chagos Islanders should be happy to be turfed out of their own country: 'to help protect the people of Britain'.
It is reminiscent of the referendums in Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands where the inhabitants were asked if they wanted to be British or Spanish/Argentinian and surprise, surprise, both places, which are full of Brits, decided they wanted to stay British.  
The British Empire was a bullying, murderous regime which pillaged the globes resources and to try and defend it is wrong as is to try to argue that we were doing the right thing to empty an Island nation of all it's citizens and claim it for ourselves.

Europeans Trust China & Russia More Than America

A Pew Poll has found that when it comes to doing the right thing regarding World Affairs, there is only one person we Europeans can turn to outside of our own continent and that's Vladimir Putin but if Vlad is off fighting bears or in Siberia or something, our next choice is China's Xi Jinping.
Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron top the poll with Britain's Theresa May not even in sight which is fair as you wouldn't trust her to look after your plant when you are on holiday.
America, led by the thatched head of Donald Trump was seventh with even Americans putting Merkel and Macron above their own tiny handed President in trusting them to do the right thing.
Pew said its latest survey showed that international citizens have 'significant concerns about America's role in world affairs under Trump' but then there have been concerns about America's role in the World as far as i can remember regardless of the President.
That we would now look towards Russia and China in a crisis before America is surprising but not unexpected as America's soft power continues to decline under the current Administration.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

May Running Down Brexit Clock

There is only so many times that the Prime Minister can say that she is not running down the clock for the Brexit vote so her MP's are forced to choose just between her deal or no Deal before the 29 March deadline.
She must have said it dozens of times and she has had to say it again today as she delayed the vote until 12 March which still gives everyone 17 days to sort out something if her vote is turned down again as expected.
Admittedly she waited until she was thousands of miles away in Egypt to announce it and just breezily just happened to mention that the vote which was meant to be going ahead this week has been cancelled.
With 33 days to go, even her own MPs are now calling for an extension to the negotiating period to allow Britain more time to iron out the deal agreements, possibly eyeing the pathetic six deals which have done so far, and even the EU are taking pity on us and mumbling that the actual leaving date could be pushed back another 21 months if we want.
As we would need 40 deals to just break even with what we currently have with the EU, the agreed deals to run from 29 March that we have put in place with Israel, The Palestinian Authority, Switzerland, The Faroe Islands, Eastern and Southern Africa and Chile is a poor return for two years worth of negotiations.
I don't think Mrs May is running down the clock, i think she and her Government are just woefully hopeless and not just at negotiating with the EU, just inadequate in general.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Church Of England Not Coming To The Rescue

So the saying almost goes, give a starving man a fish and he will have a meal, show a starving man how to fish and he will have a meal everyday but tell him to pray for a fish and he will die of hunger waiting for a fish so religion is not a very good plan for anyone hungry.
It is also not the best thing if you are poor but don't fear because the Church of England are on the case and they are worrying what effect Brexit will have on the most vulnerable.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has told the Church of England’s General Synod that the Church cannot ignore the warnings about the possible profound impact that the next months may possibly have on the poorest of our society.
With the Church’s property portfolio and investments means that it is sitting on wealth of £8.3bn, which last year alone increased by £400m, i wonder what the Church is planning.
Funding more food banks? Financial handouts? Opening up their Churches for the homeless? Building drop in centres with free meals?
In their wisdom they have decided that the best way to address the forthcoming pain and financial insecurity is to pray for five days.
Unless they are asking for God to send down McDonald vouchers, i wouldn't hold my breath that the big man in the sky will be helping so as you were, huddled in draughty doorways with empty stomachs in the knowledge that you are being mentioned in five days worth of prayers to the guy who almost killed every living person on Earth with a massive flood. Thanks.

Karma Alive And Well In Germany

Police in southern Germany say a slaughterhouse worker suffered injuries after being kicked in the face by a dead cow.
In a statement, police said the cow was killed early Thursday at an abattoir in Aalen, and hung from a meat hook for further processing.
Police said the carcass then kicked the man in the face, apparently due to a nerve impulse that experts say isn't uncommon.
I admit it gave me a chuckle and the sound of vegetarians everywhere shouting 'Serves you right' and laughing was deafening and that is the second time this week that i have laughed at a German deservedly getting hurt. 
A hunter in Munich was shot by his dog when the pooch jumped on the loaded gun and knocked the trigger shooting the hunter in the arm.
As if getting shot by your dog isn't bad enough, he then had his hunting licence revoked and his arms licence withdrawn as he was not deemed responsible enough to own a weapon.
Nothing funny about getting kicked in the face by a dead cow or shot in the arm by your pet..okay maybe there is.

Friday, 22 February 2019

British Swearwords Ranked

The UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, has rated every swear word in the English language in order of offensiveness after interviewing viewers to find just how offensive they find a vast array of rude and offensive words and insults.

What Ofcom found was that the following words were seen as mild and okay to use around children: Arse, Bloody, Bugger, Cow, Crap, Damn, Ginger, Git, God, Goddam, Jesus Christ, Minger and sod-off.

Medium and unacceptable before the 9pm watershed included Arsehole, Balls, Bint, Bitch, Bollocks, Bullshit, Feck, Munter, Pissed/pissed off, Shit, Son of a bitch and Tits.

Strong and definitely only acceptable after 9pm are Bastard, Beaver, Bellend, Cock, Dick, Dickhead, Fanny, Flaps, Gash, Knob, Minge, Prick, Punani, Pussy, Snatch and Twat.
Strongest and only to be used very rarely are Cunt, Fuck, Motherfucker.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Welcome To The Independent Group

Exciting times in British politics as the Labour and Conservative Party shed members to a new, young and sexy political party.
Three Conservative MPs have now teamed up with eight Labour MPs in the new anti-Brexit Independent Group who are placing themselves in the center between a Labour Party which has tipped too far left and a Conservative Party who have moved too far right.
I like Jeremy Corbyn, i find his left wing policies chime very much with my own views but he has been a massive disappointment in his Brexit dealings and actually seeming to want it to happen where as many Labour supporters are calling for him to denounce it or at the very least call for a second referendum so we can knock it out once and for all. 
The anti-semitism i don't really buy, anti-Israel certainly but that has been conflated into anti-Jewish and is in the Tories interests to keep that particular pot bubbling to detract from their own anti-Islamic hysteria.
The invite has been handed out for Labour, Lib Dems and Conservatives who are unhappy with their Parties direction to join the Independent Group but what they need now is for a big hitter to join.
Anna Soubry and Chuka Umanna are relatively big names but whether they have the clout to persuade those who feel 'politically homeless' to make the leap to a new, unestablished Party remains to be seen but nobody can say that 2019 has been boring in British politics.
With at least 48% of the population against Brexit, this could turn out to be a big moment in British politics and it's two party monopoly and i really hope it succeeds, they just need a big name to front it.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Yet Another Prominent Brexit Supporter Leaves UK

Britain's richest man, Jim Ratcliffe, joins other Brexit patriots like James Dyson (moved company to Singapore), John Redwood (advised investors to put money abroad), Jacob Rees-Mogg (firm opens funds in Dublin) and Nigel Lawson (seeking French residency) in showing their support in the Brexit they support by protecting themselves and their money in the Brxit storm that is coming.
I think it is fair to say that Brexiteers in their dim and slow way, are realising that as we lurch towards the March 29th deadline, Brexit is turning out to be very different to what they were promised two years ago.
The fact that so many of its prominent supporters are either leaving the UK, or making plans to leave, shows that rather than the UK prospering after Brexit as they said, they aren't sticking around when the brown stuff hits the fan.
It is also telling that the people who are shouting the loudest about how Brexit is a good thing, such as Lord Ashcroft, James Dyson, Louise Mensch, Lord Lawson, Richard Littlejohn and Rupert Murdoch all love Britain so much that they choose to live in other countries.
That the racists who read the line 'Leave The EU' as kicking all the foreigners out of the UK' look to be disappointed as freedom of movement seems to be an EU red line for any deal so they will still be bothered by brown faces in their communities as well as making us all poorer.

Obliged To Fix What We Broke In Middle East

Happily, the Islamic State caliphate has been reduced to a nub and many of the combatants have been either killed or driven out of Syria and Iraq but are we really foolish enough to announce 'mission accomplished' once again and withdraw? 
Seems we really are with politicians declaring victory against the group in Syria and getting ready to withdraw which is exactly what we did in Iraq against Al Queada who Islamic State derived from.
Islamic State is an ideology and although the suicide bombings, kidnappings, torture and other atrocities may have reduced, the IS supporters still number in the tens of thousands and are scattered around the globe as we have seen with devastating consequences.
Within a few years of us rubbing the sand from our boots and saying job done in Iraq, Al Queada had reassembled, gave itself a new name and was bringing terror and violence to the country and neighbouring Syria.
Pulling out will leave a vacuum and Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, told Parliament just last week that the fleeing Islamic State fighters were establishing new footholds in parts of Iraq which is terrible news for the communities in that area which have had a decade and a half of terror visited upon it.
I don't know the answer but the road from Islamic State leads straight to the doors of the appalling American and British actions in 2003 so as we broke it we are obliged to fix it and not just clear off and leave the Iraqi's and Syrians to their fate with an enemy that we can only temporarily defeat militarily.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Make America Not fit It's Trousers Again

There are many things that you could throw at Donald Trump and now obese has joined the growing list as the results of his physical were quietly released on Thursday, and it has revealed that he weighs 243lb with a Body Mass Index over 30 which makes him officially a lardbucket (medical term).
I'm not medically trained but i would hazard a guess it's down to him binging on fast food and drinking up to a dozen Cokes a day as to why he looks like a human shaped wad of cholesterol which has come to life to wreak havoc on his nation.
As we looked at in an earlier post, 243lb Trump is only the third fattest president ever, Grover Cleveland at 280lb and the 340lb pound William Taft beat him and Taft was so large he once got stuck in the presidential bathtub.
Trump called Alicia Machado, the winner of the 1996 Miss Universe pageant, 'Miss Piggy' because she had gained weight so he is no stranger to fat shaming so with another two years of his Presidency to run (could even be six), Trump could yet catch up with Cleveland or have a massive coronary trying which is more likely as anyone who has seen those golfing pictures can see that 243lb seems a bit on the optimistic side.
Anyway, 'Making America not fit into its trousers again' may not be as catchy as the other saying but i hope Trump continues his unhealthy diet because either his waistline continues to expand to Taft proportions or his arteries decide they have had enough and pack up, it is an achievement i am backing him for, larger bathtub notwithstanding. Go Trump!!

Death, Taxes And Runaway Ai

There is a famous line from Daniel Defoe that the only things which are inevitable are death and taxes which means there wasn't an accountancy firm equivalent to whoever does Amazon's and Starbucks books in 17th Century England although death is unavoidable unfortunately.
What isn't inevitable is the way we join the choir invisible so the Center for the Study of Existential Risk have been looking up the biggest threats to humanity.
As a massive asteroid did for the dinosaurs, we face Volcanoes hurling ash into the upper atmosphere, an event that happened 75,000 years ago which led to a dramatic population decline in early humans.
The World Health Organisation and the World Economic Forum both list climate change and its effects as one of their top risks and recent UN talks heard climate change was already 'a matter of life and death for many regions' and the climate change threats keep coming from killer heatwaves, rising sea levels and widespread famines
Artificial Intelligence (AI) rates high enough to be of concern, whether from increasingly sophisticated cyber-weapons to autonomous robots running wild and there is still the ever present threat from nuclear weapons and even a combination of a growing integration of nuclear or conventional weapons and AI.
Global pandemics is yet another risk with increasingly dense and mobile human populations having the potential to see new strains of virus and disease easily spreading along the lines of the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak which killed 50 million people.
To end on a happier note, the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk put the risk of dying from a pandemic at 1.5%, 0.6% for being killed by a nuclear war and 0.001% that a super volcano will erupt and blot out the sun so don't lose too much sleep over it, HMRC is far more scary especially if you missed the 31 January Tax Return filing deadline.

Climate Change Hope Coming From Younger Generation

If blame is to be apportioned for Climate Change, then my generation along with my parents and grandparents should take the blame, especially as we knew what we were doing but carried on doing it anyway.
Across the country today, children left their school classes to protest against climate change which should lift the hearts of everyone that the coming generation are looking to do something about it even if the Prime Minister made a comment that the children should have stayed in school but that's why they did what they did, because people like Theresa May, the people actually in a position
to do something, have done nothing.
The next generation, those we will hand the running of the planet over to shortly, are looking at us and saying what we are bequeathing them is a poisoned, rubbish filled mess of a planet.
What i will say to our children is that some of us did try but we were met with shoulder shrugs by the uncaring and sometimes plain denial by the ignorant even as the flood waters rose around our ankles and selfishly considered a problem for their grandchildren to deal with. 
So sorry about the warming climate, extinctions, wildfires, droughts, heatwaves, floods, strengthened extreme weather and desertification but well done and thank you for being concerned about a problem that your older relations foisted onto you and hopefully you will have better luck forcing through government policies globally which can change the disastrous course we are set on.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Mexico Still Not Paying For America's Fence

Something which i am sure that i distinctly remember about Donald Trump and his building of a wall on the Southern Border was that Mexico would pay for it which makes it confusing that he is stamping his tiny feet because his country refuses to stump up the money.
Not only is Mexico not writing a cheque but the wall is now looking much more like a metal fence so no wall and American taxpayers are funding it although his declaration of a national emergency to shift money from elsewhere in the budget towards the border might not happen yet as it heads to the courts.
As the self declared brilliant businessman seemed to sabotage his own court case by saying that 'he didn't need to do it' and he tweeted last year that there was a: '45 year low on illegal border crossings this year. Ice and Border Patrol Agents are doing a great job'.
Brilliant fun watching Trump, a brilliant businessman remember, make such a hash of his own deal seconds after announcing it.
Another Tweet that seems to be coming back to haunt him is the one he sent June 4th which asked 'Are you allowed to impeach a president for gross incompetence?'
We may be about to find out very soon but hopefully not too soon, he is an awful but brilliant car crash of a President and i'm certain that he has even more insanity up his sleeve if we give him long enough.

Let Shamima Back, Then Lock Her Up

It seems the thing to say about Shamima Begum who fled the UK to join the terror group in Syria after it was revealed she is heavily pregnant and wants to come back is that it's a difficult situation but i don't see whats difficult about it.
Let her back to the UK and as soon as she steps off the plane, arrest her.
Shamima Begumis is currently at a Syrian refugee camp where she admitted in an interview that she does not regret joining IS and described being unfazed at the sight of a severed head during her time with the group.
She was one of three schoolgirls, from Bethnal Green Academy in East London, who left the UK for Syria in February 2015 and her father has been in the media putting her actions down to a mistake and how she should be forgiven but voters in a SKY News Poll didn't agree with 76% thinking she should not be allowed back into the country.
I'd let her back in, mostly for the sake of the unborn child she is carrying, but i would have a policeman waiting to make sure that she doesn't just come back to her community and spread her poison.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

What If You Hold A Conference & Nobody Comes

It is ironic that after calling for a meeting to discuss a new era of cooperation in the Middle East, the non-arrival of almost everyone except the Americans, Poland (who hosted the event), Israel (of course) and Saudi Arabia were the only ones there.
Ironic that as America, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been doing so much to bring death and destruction to the Middle East, they were the only ones (along with Poland who hosted the event) who turned up.
Pence said the boycott of America's call for peace was 'uncooperative' as the Iranians had a chuckle that the conference was dead on arrival and the former US ambassador to Sweden called it 'amateur hour at the White House and is ultimately another blow to US prestige'.
The EU boycotted the event, originally conceived by the US as a way to press for a more aggressive stance towards Iran, Israel leader Netanyahu had earlier withdrawn a Tweet that he was in Warsaw to discuss war with Iran, and the original summit agenda was scrapped and renamed as 'Peace In The Middle East' after Europe told Washington it was 'not a very smart idea'.
That nobody in the main capitals of the World believe that America, Israel or Saudi Arabia are serious about about bringing peace to the Middle East and are more intent in attacking Iran is plain to see and have learned from previous grim mistakes that peace won't come from the same nations that are currently dropping high explosives on people.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

What Is Love?

It was 1984 and Foreigner pondered in ballad form on the thought 'I want to know what love is'.
Not sure if anybody gave them a satisfactory answer, defining 'love' is tough enough without having the additional worry about neon green leg warmers and where your 'Choose Life' t-shirt was but the 80's always was a time fashion gave up on.
Poets and songwriters have had a go at explaining it without much success so maybe a neuroscientist is a better person to ask which is what i did, asking her 'What is Love?'

Apparently it's when the opiod system in the brain releases chemicals and hormones that produce feelings of pleasure, namely adrenaline, norepinephrine and dopamine.
Blood flow increases to the nucleus accumbens in the brain which lowers levels of the brain chemical serotonin and finally the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin permeate the brain and create feelings of well-being and security.

There you then Foreigner, that's exactly what love is so good luck finding something to rhyme with nucleus accumbens and oxytocin.

You Want A Piece Of Us Moscow?

Before he got involved in politics the current UK Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, was a fireplace salesman until he was asked to leave after an affair with a colleague and became the managing director of a pottery firm and oversaw the commissioning of the firms Charles and Camilla wedding plate and somehow managed to get the date wrong so the bar wasn't set very high for his Government job.
I'm no military expert but a career in the hotbed of selling crockery isn't the usual place to gain the experience to run our armed forces but it's where Williamson somehow finds himself.
As the sole job of the armed forces is to fight wars with other nations, Williamson has set his sights high and is making threats against Russia and China which to anyone else would seem a very bad idea abut not to Gavin who said that Britain: 'Must be ready to use hard power against Moscow and Beijing'.
Maybe we can put it down to years of him inhaling varnish but Britain taking on the mights of China or Russia is a recipe for a great big steaming hole in the North Sea where Britain used to be but unperturbed Williamson said that this is a great moment for Britain to 'strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass'.
Maybe he should have stayed chasing salesgirls around the office and not moved into politics because he should be removed before he gets us all nuked and given a job more closer to his talents, something like polishing the brass plate outside the MOD building.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Insect Compromise

A report published in the journal Biological Conservation says insects could vanish within a century at the current rate of decline and the heavy use of pesticides, urbanisation and climate change are significant factors.
'The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems' according to the review with over 40% of insect species in decline and a third endangered.
My first reaction is to say good, bloody insects but reading on it explains the implications for humans as insects are 'essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients' and that 'we humans cannot survive without insects'.
So maybe i was a bit hasty in cheering and ushering in the demise of insects, an insect free sit in the park in summer is quite lightweight compared to the continued survival of the human race.    
With that in mind i am willing to make a compromise and accept that we need some insects for pollinating and such as long as we rid ourselves of others.
Crane Flies (aka daddy long legs) can sod off as can mosquitoes, earwigs, woodlice, horse flies and midges. We can do without flies and bluebottles and the World (and picnics) would be a much better place without hornets and wasps so that's my compromise.
We can keep beetles, moths and butterflies and i am even willing to allow spiders to continue being if my milk-bottle white arms and legs remain free of bitey, stingy things this summer.

Darwin Not Rocking Anymore

A Primary school has been forced to axe a musical on evolution, called Darwin Rocks about the scientist Charles Darwin, over complaints that it mocked religion and its representation of Christian views on science 'wasn't accurate'.
As an all inclusive Blog, far be it for me to mock religion so maybe we should look closer at what those Christian views on science are so we start at the beginning with God creating the World and everything in it within six days approximately 6000 years ago.
On the sixth day, he rolled together some earth into the shape of a man and blew life into his nostrils after which he removed one of the man's ribs and created a woman.
Throwing them out of paradise after being fooled into eating forbidden fruit by a talking snake, they then began populating the Earth until Adam died aged 930.
So the Christian view is pretty simple, God made the Universe and us humans as we are today six days later and there is no room for evolution and for Charles Darwin to explain it.
Nope, can't see anything mock-worthy in that at all.

Turing Most Important Of 20th Century

BBC Two has been running a great programme over several weeks where viewers were asked to vote for the 'most important and influential person of the 20th Century' and the Finalists came down to Alan Turing, Nelson Mandela, Ernest Shackleton, David Bowie, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Muhammad Ali, and Pablo Picasso.
The words 'most important and influential' makes for some easy dismissing and i don't think anyone could argue that Bowie and Picasso were 'more important' than the remaining five.
Shackleton may have been a great explorer but i can't put him above Turing, Mandela, King or Ali who all had a greater influence on the 20th Century. 
Dr Martin Luther King Jr gave his life for his beliefs and although he was mainly influencing Americans, his influence on race relations worldwide was immense while Nelson Mandela's refusal to accept his countryman's fate ended apartheid in his country although it cost him 27 years of his life which were spent in a prison cell and then in magnanimous brilliance, refused to show bitterness towards his captors.
Ali's pacifism cost him the World Boxing Title and the best years of his career but for most important and influential i would have to go with Turing whose mathematical genius led to modern computers which dominate our lives today.
That he was treated so atrociously by the British Government for being homosexual after doing so much to win the Second World War that he ended taking his own life is shameful and it doesn't even begin to make up for it that the British Public agreed and voted him first.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Venezuelan Protesters Good: French Protesters Bad

Funny how protesters against the elected Government in France are condemned while the ones protesting against the elected Government in Venezuela are backed but defending democracy worldwide is a messy and complicated business.
While France is a lovely nation with many amazing buildings and monuments it isn't sat on an ocean of oil which Venezuela is and that's where it gets suddenly far less complicated.
Led by the US Government cheerleading for regime-change in Venezuela, the call now is for an 'orderly transition' from the Presidency of Nicolas Maduro to a new US friendly government led by Juan Guaido.
US Vice-President Mike Pence has made an appeal to Venezuelans to come out onto the streets to protest against the Government but not so much support for the French citizens protesting against their Government.
The USA has tried to oust the democratically elected government of Venezuela ever since Hugo Chavez was first elected president in 1998. Four years later, the brief coup against Chavez in April 2002 had Washington's fingerprints all over it although that backfired spectacularly and only made Chavez more popular.
The problem America had with Chavez was that he nationalised the Oil and used the money to fund a regime of change in Venezuela rather than the profits go into the oil companies bank accounts so the truth is, this is nothing about democracy just as it wasn't in Iraq or Libya despite the lies that it was.
It is all about America trying to control and make vast profits from the natural resources of Venezuela, the largest oil reserves in the world, and Trump and his Government wants those to be taken over by American companies which is exactly what Juan Guaido has said he would allow if he becomes President.
US President Donald Trump throwing his support behind Guaido and calling on Maduro to step down is in order to gain access to Venezuela’s vast natural resources for American companies which means short of the French protesters discovering oil beneath the Champs-Élysées, they are on their own.

Universal Basic Income Experiment Results

I have always had deep reservations about the Universal Basic Income (UBI) and Europe’s first national government-backed experiment in giving citizens free cash has ended and conclusion is that it wasn't that great.
Finland held a two year basic income trial where 2,000 people aged 25 to 58 were paid £475 a month to see if the guaranteed income might incentivise people to take up more low-paid or temporary work but surveying the results, Finland’s minister of health and social affairs, Pirkko Mattila, said that based on the the first year’s data the impact on employment 'seems to have been minor' but it did mark an improvement in positiveness, health and happiness of the recipients.
The idea of UBI seems to be appealing to the left who see it as a way to cut poverty and inequality especially in an age where automation threatens many jobs but i can't see how any nation could afford it.
Finland’s government’s have now scraped the plan to expand the trial and i can't see anyone else rushing to give it a go either.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Devil Or Aliens

2004 was the year of Shaun of the Dead, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and electrical appliances catching fire in an Italian town.
Experts came in from all over to investigate exploding DVD players, fridges and TV's and arson was ruled out as was faulty equipment, dodgy electricians and power surges so they jumped to the only logical conclusion that there must be something supernatural going on.
Naturally, being a God Fearing nation the Italians were satisfied with the explanation that Beelzebub was behind their video going up in flames and the Vatican even endorsed the theory with the Chief Exorcist explaining that it is actually quite common for the Prince of Darkness to come and tinker with our toasters, him being evil and all that.
The Italian Government, and remember that this was headed by Silvio Berlusconi at the time, commissioned a full investigation of the phenomenon and two years and a million Euros later they concluded that it wasn't the handiwork of the Devil after all, because that's just mad, the fires 'were caused by a high power electromagnetic emissions which were not man-made' and put the blame squarely on aliens.
All which means that either the Alien invasion has begun and their first act of war is to start setting minor fires to electrical appliances in Italy or the Devil is taking the time to stick metal items into your microwave but if your DVD Player goes up in smoke then you might want to grab a Bible along with the fire extinguisher just to be on the safe side.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Finding The Right Part Of Hell For Brexiteers

The EU negotiators seem to have hit upon the theme that anyone promoting Brexit would have a place in Hell reserved for them although they haven't said which circle of Hell they should be placed because there are nine and each is reserved for a different sin.
The First Circle is an inferior form of Heaven where the virtuous non-Christians and unbaptised pagans go so safe to say they won't be going there.
The Second Circle is for people who sins include Lust, which seems perfect for Boris Johnson although he could also call home the Third and Fourth Circles which are for the sins of Gluttony and Greed
The Fifth Circle is where the angry, wrathful and sullen are punished for their sins while heretics populate the Sixth Circle and murders, rapists and others who were violent go to the Seventh Circle.
Fraudsters, seducers, thief's, flatterers are in the Eighth Circle along with corrupt politicians so i think we may have found exactly where the Brexiteers will be landing. This Circle is full of stony ditches with bridges between them. 
The Ninth Circle is for the sins of Treachery but the Eighth Circle seems ready made for those politicians who are willing to throw the whole nation under the bus for their own personal gain.
Theresa May and her clan had better make sure they take their hiking boots with them because an eternity crossing bridges and stone filled ditches is going to call for some sturdy footwear.

MAD then But Just Mad Leaders Now

My fellow Generation X'ers must be having quite the feeling of déjà vu as we watch the World become less safe over the past week after the United States pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987 by Washington and Moscow which was a pivotal moment in the Cold War.
With Reagan and Gorbachev having been replaced by Trump and Putin, the USA has suspended adherence before formally withdrawing from the pact which prompted a predictable response from Moscow that they were also quitting the treaty and claiming that they would be developing new intercontinental missiles.
Throw into the mix the nuclear-weapons-of China, North Korea and a nefarious Israel then it seriously ratchets up the chances of a nuclear confrontation.
With the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, (START) which limits nuclear weapons, due to expire in 2021, things are looking pretty grim again after a woefully short period when the dream of a nuclear free World was starting to look plausible.
Generation X may have already been there as we shared our formative years under the shadow of the Cold War but then we had the doctrine of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) but looking at the current leaders holding the red buttons in 2019, MAD seems a very apt description for them.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Not A Racist Says The Racist Liam Neeson

It's always the racist ones who insist that they are not racist before saying something blatantly racist so it is that we have Liam Neeson refusing to accept that he is one although he admitted going out of his way to try and kill a black man.
The actor said in an interview with the Independent, that he walked the streets with a weapon around 40 years ago, hoping to take out his anger on any black man, or black bastard as he called them, that he could provoke after someone close to him was raped by a black man.
'I was trying to show honour to stand up for my dear friend in this terrible, medieval fashion but i'm not a racist," he said.
If roaming the streets trying to find a random, innocent person to kill based on the colour of their skin is not racist then i would love to know just what DOES constitute racism.
Hopefully career suicide will now shortly follow because i'm not sure people will be flocking to see the Irishman's films anymore.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Dickensian Diseases Resurgent

As we approach eleven years of ongoing austerity from this Conservative Government, the NHS has described how there has been an increase of Dickensian diseases such as gout, whooping cough and scarlet fever.
There has been a sharp rise in hospital visits for diseases that were common during the Victorian era since 2010 which is being put down to cuts to local authority public health budgets, which experts say have resulted in the services that protect against illness being scaled back.
The Royal College of Nursing described the findings as concerning and said that the Government was 'failing the most vulnerable in our society'.
Scarlet fever cases have trebled, whooping cough has increased by 59%, malnutrition numbers have gone up by 38% as continuing austerity cuts make our society sicker.
The Governmental Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: 'We’re committed to ensuring everyone gets the same great health care no matter where they live, which is why our long term plan for the NHS puts tackling health inequalities at its heart'.
Obviously the plan isn't working as people suffer a resurgence of conditions associated with a bygone era due to a criminal lack of funding of our Health Service.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Day The Music Died

Fifty years ago today three musicians climbed onto a plane and if you know the song 'American Pie', you know what happened next although the lyrics don't mention underpants which is the reason why music died that day. 
While on the Winter Dance Party Tour, the organisers added a last minute date on February 2 and Buddy Holly moaned that he had been wearing the same outfit for days and had run out of clean underpants so Holly suggested he and his band charter a plane to get to the next city early to find a laundrette.
In an early Final Destination type moment, Buddy's bassist kindly gave his seat to the Big Bopper Richardson as he had a cold and Ritchie Valens won a coin toss with Buddy's guitarist and took his seat.
Due to a combination of adverse weather conditions and an inexperienced pilot, fate stuck it's oar in and within minutes of taking off the scene was set for driving your Chevy to the levee to join them good ole boys drinking whisky and rye singing this'll be the day that I die.
Being the most famous of the three, Buddy Holly is the one usually most remembered for dying that day and we will never know just how well he would be viewed today if he hadn't died so young but how different it would have been if only he had brought an extra pair of underpants with him on that tour.