Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Summer 2018 Cool And Wet

February may seem a strange time to start posting about Summer but i may be deprived of my annual 'I HATE SUMMER' posts this year because as the year ends in an '8', it's going to be a stinker.
Using historical weather data from the past 150 years courtesy of the MET Office, Summers that occur in years ending in the number '8' have not been the ones to draw the headlines, 2008 was unsettled with below average temperatures.
Summer 1998, 1988 and 1978 were all very poor with cold and wet conditions more or less from start to finish while July and August 1968 had an unusual amount of Thunderstorms.
The Summer of 1958 was another exceptionally poor one as was Summer 1948 with both years being very cool, dull and wet.
Bucking the trend slightly was the very warm Summer of 1938 but 1928 and 1918 were very cool.
The second half of Summer 1908 was unsettled as were the summers of 1898, 1888 and 1878.
We had to dig back to the summer of Summer 1868, 150 years ago, to find a hot Summer with temperatures reaching 36C in middle England.
While it doesn't mean that Summer 2018 will not be a barbecue summer, the likelihood is that it will be a cool and wet Summer and the guys responsible for the long term weather forecast at MetCheck.com seem to think so also with their forecast for June, July and August across Southern England showing temperatures not topping the low 20s for June, July or August.
For those who like there summers hot 2018 may not be one that lives in the memory but for people like me who sunburn easily and is a target for every passing stingy thing, this Summer is sounding a good one.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Classic Songs Not As Original As I Thought

We’ve all been there. We hear a new song and believe that it came straight from the mind of the artist, expressing their innermost emotions and feelings. Every chord progression and lyric perfectly honed over hours of practise and then we find out that the song is the innermost emotions of someone else as the song is a cover version.
This has happens quite often, i at first refused to believe that The Clash's 'I Fought The Law' was actually a cover version of a 1959 song by Buddy Holly's backing group but listening to BBC Radio 5's Virtual Jukebox show about cover songs i was quite shocked to find out so many songs that i didn't know where covers.
Amongst the more eyebrow raising where Soft Cell's Tainted Love from 1981 which was originally by Gloria Jones in 1964, Joan Jett may have loved Rock N Roll but The Arrows loved it first in 1975 and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun according to Cyndi Lauper but they also did in 1973 when the original song was sung by Robert Hazard.
George Harrison's I've Got My Mind Set On You was first performed by James Ray in 1962 and The Animals House Of The Rising Sun was from 1934 and Tom Clarence Ashley & Gwen Foster.
Aretha Franklin may have got more Respect if the song wasn't just a cover of Otis Redding's song from two years earlier and no surprise Bjork wanted it Oh so quiet, maybe she didn't want anyone to know her biggest hit was a cover of Betty Hutton's 1951 song.
Aswad said ‘Don’t Turn Around’ but that was because if you did you may have seen Tina Turner singing it in 1986 and the Mama's and Papa's were California Dreaming only after Barry McGire dreamt about it first.
UB40's Red Red Wine was much more colourful in 1968 when Neil Diamond first sang about it Harry Nilsson may not have been able to Live if living is without you but the Badfinger sang the same thing in 1970 and they are still living, i think.
All quite eye opening but Blondie were prolific cover versioners with The Nerves Hanging on the Telephone before Debbie Harry hung on it and the Tide Was High in 1980 but it was high also in 1966 when The Paragons originally performed the song.
The one song that got me though was my favourite Blondie Song, Denis, which is now my favourite Randy and The Rainbows song although i'm sure that when they performed it in 1963 they weren't dressed in as stripey swimming costume.

Why Are We Not Using More Solar Power?

I once made a suggestion to a Councillor regarding installing streetlamps with a solar panel on the top so it charged up during the day and lit up at dusk with no drain on the electric grid.
This was rejected at the time as solar panels and British sunshine was unreliable but twenty years on and with solar panels now more reliable and only needing daylight not direct sunlight to operate, it may be worth revisiting as the UK has approximately 6 million streetlights drawing from the electric grid and costing councils millions in a time of spiralling energy costs and squeezed budgets.
As we are looking at things Solar powered, the UK has 262,300 miles of road and by definition is laying there outside in daylight from dusk to dawn and while we can't replace all the tarmac with solar panels as the price would be exorbitant, why can't we run a strip of solar panels down the centre of each road?
262,300 miles of solar panels contributing into the electric grid would make a massive dent in the amount the nation would need to generate or buy and after the initial cost of installation, it would significantly reduce energy costs. 
Solar power is the future especially in terms of climate change and cost and we are bathed in a constant and permanent source of solar energy and the means to convert it into electricity for our use and it seems scandalous that we are not using it to at least partially reduce our reliance on dirtier and more expensive means of making electricity.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Nation Of Great Canalia

It's the halfway mark in the 2018 Winter Olympics and it is fair to say looking at the Medal Table, the nations with snow are doing better than the countries which don't see much of the white stuff and Great Britain is languishing in 21st place with just a brace of bronze medals to our name.
To make things worse Australia are above us in 17th place but as they are part of the Commonwealth, therefore one of our children, we can claim their medals as jointly ours.
Using the same logic Canada's 13 medals are shared with us also so technically we have 4 golds, 7 silvers and 7 bronze giving us a total of 18 medals so far and moves us into 3rd behind Germany and Norway.
That gives a whole new perspective to things and we can snub our noses at Alpine nations such as France, Switzerland and Austria who must be pig sick looking at how well we are doing.
Reprint those Olympic vests with the name Great Canalia, grab some bent sticks and way too revealing tight lycra outfits and let's show those German's and Norwegians that Britannia not only rules the waves but we got the slippery bits down the sides of mountains also!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Getting Rid Of Earworms

I have a horrible affliction where if i sing along to a song, the song gets stuck in my head for the rest of the day which can be a bit embarrassing if it's something uncool and i'm wandering about at work humming along to Right Said Fred or Aqua's Barbie Girl.
The name for a song that stays in your brain is an earworm and my earworm today was Pet Shop Boy's 'Go West' which i made the schoolgirl error of singing along to while digging around in the toaster this morning.
Strangely there are some songs which are more 'earwormy' than others, and science has come up with a formula for just how deeply embedded that song you heard on the radio this morning is going to be for the rest of the day.
The exact formula was revealed as: Receptiveness + (predictability - surprise) + (melodic potency ) + (rhythmic repetition x 1.5) = you having the song on loop in your mind.
The top five songs are 'We will rock you' - Queen, 'Happy' - Pharrell Williams, 'We are the Champions' - Queen, '500 miles' - Proclaimers and 'YMCA' - Village People but don't despair if you have spent the day with 'Young man, there's no need to feel down I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground' whirring around your head because science also explains the way to remove them
is to be 'cognitively engaged', or in plain speak do a Crossword or Sudoku.
Apparently this forces the intrusive music out of your working memory allowing it to be replaced with other things such as the name of the ship in Jason and the Argonauts or the name of Tintin's dog.
So next time you get a song stuck in your head, go in the open air, where the skies are blue, this is what we're gonna do, go west...damn, where's that Sudoku book.

Germans At The Centre Of The Earth

When Jules Verne wrote his book 'Journey to the centre of the Earth' i doubt if he thought 150 years later there would be people stupid enough to use it as a manual but as we know, some people's stupidity knows no bounds so a slowly growing conspiracy is that the Frenchman was actually right and the earth is hollow.
Yep, there's a hollow Earth conspiracy theory that makes even the Flat Earthers seem less ridiculous.
The theory is that a race of alien humans, Vikings and Nazis are living in paradise in the centre of our planet and they got there through one of the three entrances into the inner Earth, two near the poles, and one located somewhere in the Himalayas.
According to the theory, these assorted Vikings and Nazi's have given up their evil ways and are now guardians of the planet, using spacecrafts and flying saucers to keep an eye on us crust dwellers and stop us from starting a nuclear war.
It's not just the Earth that's hollow though, the Moon, Sun, Stars and other Planets are all hollow as well although we don't know if they are full of Germans and Norwegians as well or if that is just us.
Obviously the place with the hole is in the heads of the peoples who believe it but who doesn't love yet another completely barking conspiracy theory.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Hate To Say We Told You So

February 15 2003, I and a million of my pals marched through Central London protesting against the impending Iraq war.
It wasn't just in Britain that demonstrations were held but simultaneous protests were held around the world, tens of millions of us marching in every continent against the Blair/Bush plans for war.
Speaker after speaker in Hyde Park took to the stage to decry a war that would set off a spiral of conflict that would fuel further wars and conflict and bring the misery of terrorism to our shores for generations.
How frighteningly right they were as the havoc wreaked in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria opened a tinderbox that leads straight to the Blair and Bush door.
That they are free to go about their business today is a travesty but the truly sad thing is that if the chance come up again, and Iran is being manoeuvred into out sights, the British and Americans who have done so much to wreck the Middle East, would do the same again if the opportunity arose no matter how many of us marched against it.

Still Too Soon?

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie: 'Now is the time for this country to have a real conversation on sensible gun control laws'.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions:  'This situation that we're seeing just cannot continue'.

Sheriff Scott Israel: 'I'm going to be very animated about what I think this country can do to prevent future tragedies'.

Governor Rick Scott: 'The violence has to stop. We cannot lose another child in this country to violence in a school'.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson: 'Sandy Hook, Pulse nightclub, Fort Lauderdale airport, Las Vegas and now Parkland, Florida - when is this going to stop?"

Senator Chris Murphy: 'Don't tell me tomorrow isn't the appropriate time to debate gun violence'.

but...

Florida Senator Marco Rubio: 'It is too soon to debate whether tighter gun laws could have stopped it. You should know the facts of that incident before you run out and prescribe some law that you claim could have prevented it'.
It remains to be seen whether the US Congress will act to introduce tougher gun control after this latest shooting but i'm guessing not so if you missed this one don't worry, there will be another mass shooting of children coming to America shortly.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Backing Labour's Re-Nationalisation Plans

As we stand, Britain is heading towards a big dollop of Socialism in the very near future with Jeremy Corbyn and his brand of Labour Party poised to pick up the pieces the Conservative Party leave behind.
First on the Labour Parties agenda is thankfully the end of the disaster that was privatisation and a fresh round of re-nationalisation starting with water, energy and rail.
The privatisation programme become part of the British political landscape over the last 40 years and has been a disaster, nobody can argue that the promised efficiency, investment, lowered costs or saved jobs ever arrived, rather there was large scale redundancies, sky-rocketing prices and the previous British companies in the hands of a small group of international investors who pay themselves billions in dividends.
With water being first in the re-nationalisation firing line, the National Audit Office have said that water bills had risen 40% since privatisation in 1989 and water companies paid out a total £1.6bn to their shareholders in 2017, money that under Labour would go back into the pot for everyone and there is the rub.
The privatisation experiment has failed spectacularly because it is impossible for the private sector to deliver the same service for less than a service run by the Government and still make a profit and making a profit is the bottom line for businesses and that profit goes into personal bank accounts when it could be going into the Governments bank account for the benefit of all of us.

Why The 1p NHS Tax Won't Work

When a countries economy starts to shrink they have two options to keep the coffers full, to raise tax to bring in more money or make cutbacks to reduce the amount they pay out and this Government have made the decision to make cuts, that they actually reduced tax for the top earners from 50% to 45% is an argument for another time, but on the whole it has been wide scale austerity and slashing the bills.
Amongst the many casualties has been the NHS who as a result of only receiving an annual increase of 1% instead of the traditional 4%, is in crisis.  
Out of the British pay packet comes Income Tax at either 20% for lower earners, 40% for higher earners or 45% for very high earners as well as National Insurance which is another 12% and is used to pay for your State Pension when you reach 67.
In all, on your wage each time you are paid and if you are in the lowest tax bracket (under £45,000) you pay to the Government almost a third of your wages but now the idea of an additional tax is being mulled over, a tax increase to pay for the NHS.
The first thought of many would be of course 1p more tax to pay for the National Health Service is a good idea but then thinking about it some more, it's an awful idea.
What about all the other essential services that have had their budgets slashed such as housing, education and police, they could make an excellent case for an extra 1p of tax for them also.
Any cuts and shortages of funding for our services was purely an ideological choice of this Government, they could have raised taxes or chased harder the £34 billion that is not collected through tax avoidance and tax evasion by the wealthy and corporations.
The Government has an average tax intake of £702 billion annually, how it spreads it around is a policy choice and by adding 1p to income tax will raise an additional £6 billion but unless it is ring-fenced and marked just for the NHS, it will just go into the countries bank account to be part of their regular income and who is to say that the treasury won't just reduce the NHS budget to take it into account.  
The taxation system is badly in need of an overhaul but regardless of the tax intake, the way it is divided out is down to the ruling Government and if they want to underfund the NHS, police or schools for their own ideological reasons, that will continue regardless.