Friday, 28 November 2014

Americans Leaving USA In Record Numbers

For whatever reason, be it mad gun laws or the flagrant disregard for vowels, Americans are leaving the land of the free in record numbers.
According to the Federal Register, the 1,780 ex-citizens who flicked two fingers to Uncle Sam in 2011 are set to be surpassed by this years departures from the land that invented the Cheeseburger but when Americans leave on a jet plane, where do they lay their Hawaiian shirts and baseball caps?
Mexico has the largest proportion of former Americans with 738,100, then the Philippines who have 300,000 and Israel which has 200,000 cluttering up their Kibbutz.
The United Kingdom is the eight favourite destination with 115,000 Americans who have ripped up their passports and made this side of the Atlantic their permanent residence.
Of course a warm welcome is guaranteed for any members of our former colony who seek a return to the Motherland but why are they swapping the country run by Obama for one run by David Cameron?
Apparently, its financial as US citizens living abroad continue to pay US taxes even if their income is generated elsewhere so the expatriates abandon their US citizenship for the sake of saving cash after paying the exit fee.
Considering that David Cameron's Government has wasted tens of billions on projects like HS2 which is a train that will get you to somewhere 10 minutes earlier, all the extra tax from fleeing Americans is welcome but just a heads up, don't try and adopt the British accent because you will just end up sounding either like a drunk Michael Caine or a butler and whichever it is, we will still mercilessly mock you when you call your backside a fanny or call your sandals thongs.
Welcome aboard.

Planning For Retirement

Seeing as my retirement pension pot means that i will be living on tins of beans and whatever i can find behind the fridge when i stop work, i have two options.
A) Plan for retirement by paying into a reliable pension scheme with a decent return or B) inventi a perpetual motion machine and sell it for gazillions.
While i have been relying on B, there are other ways that i can fund my twilight years of resting on a beach in Eastbourne moaning about how the youth of today are uglier than in my day.
The first is to claim the £25 million on offer from The Virgin Earth Challenge and all i have to do is come up with a way of scrubbing greenhouse gases out of the Earth’s atmosphere to avoid global warming.  
The second is the Google Lunar X Challenge which pays out £30 million for anyone who can land a robot on the surface of the Moon, move it 500 meters over the lunar surface and send images and data back to the Earth.
The perpetual motion machine is easy, a circle of powerful magnets set against a case of equally powerful magnets repelling each other will spin for infinity so all i have to do is get a carpenter to knock up a cabinet and a wheel lined with opposite facing magnets and that's my retirement sorted.
The scrubbing of Greenhouses Gases is a work in progress but involves creating artificial or genetically modified trees that can suck up more Co2 than 'normal trees'. Failing that putting massive domes over the USA and China will work.
The Google Lunar challenge is more tricky and involves stealing the blueprints for the Mars rover, slapping a Moon Rover sticker over the name and firing it towards the moon.
That's me sorted then and i can retire with a full bank balance and a pair of very dark sunglasses so i don't have to see the ridiculously ugly teenagers that will be cluttering up the place in 20 years time.

Lest, They Forgot

Crass insensitivity just doesn't seem strong enough to describe the Tower of London hosting a dinner for arms manufacturers the day after the sea of poppies remembrance installation closed.
The £240 per head event was held by the world’s biggest defence firm Lockheed Martin and was billed as an 'acclaimed and influential chance to make new business connections for senior defence manufacturers' and was attended by 200 industry representatives and Ministry of Defence officials.
Almost a million British and Commonwealth servicemen died in the First World War and two weeks ago the Tower was honouring them with a sea of ceramic poppies planted in the Towers grounds.
Within a fortnight, the same place that was a focus for remembering the horrendous loss of life in wars is making sure that there are always a fresh supply of victims for the politicians to urge us not to forget while shedding a crocodile tear over in front of the TV cameras.
If they made a sea of poppies for all the people who will be killed using military equipment manufactured in the UK they would have to find a new location because the Tower moat wouldn't be big enough.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

It's Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas

'Tis the season to hear the same songs repeated endlessly on the radio and in every shop we enter and none has been heard more than 'Fairytale of New York' according to new research.
The 1987 song by The Pogues, featuring Kirsty MacColl, topped the list of 50 top Christmas songs played on the radio according to musical rights body PRS for Music.
The list by PRS for Music found the second most popular was "Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You" and the 1994 tune was the most recent in the top 20.
The original Band Aid hit "Do They Know It’s Christmas" was close in third place and i am happy to see the much underrated 'Merry Christmas Everyone' by Shakin Stevens at number 11.
To rub everyone else's nose in it, 7 of the the top 10 are British which proves my point that when it comes to songs about Christmas, Brits do it best

Fairytale of New York - The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl
All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey
Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid
Last Christmas - Wham!
Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Harry Reser
Do You Hear What I Hear? - Bing Crosby
Happy Christmas (War Is Over) - John & Yoko
Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday - Wizzard
Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade
Merry Christmas Everyone - Shakin' Stevens

Show Us Your Award Tony

Tony Blair must be wondering if with the distance of a decade, the British public might finally be ready to forgive him for his role in the Iraq War and he got his answer, a resounding no they are not.
Save the Children has been criticised by all and sundry for giving Tony Blair an award for his anti-poverty work in Africa and has sent the Save The Children UK rushing out a statement saying it was nothing to do with them, it was Save the Children US.
Over 200 of the Save The Children staff signed a petition against their charity handing it over to former Prime Minister and after they went ahead and did it anyway, 100,000 people signed a petition calling for the Charity to snatch it back off him as 'his legacy in Iraq overshadows his achievements in Africa'.
Accepting the award last week, Mr Blair said: 'It's amazing how nice people are to you when you stop being prime minister'.
Maybe he should do a tour of the UK to show off his award and i am sure that he will find out just how nice his own people are to him.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Band Aid 30

Band Aid 30 sits atop the Top 40 as expected after sales of 312,000 copies in the first week, equalling the achievement of the original Band Aid record in 1984 although that racked up sales of over 1 million in week one. 
Read into that what you want but for whatever reason the 2014 version is not a patch on the one that we heard in 1984.
Some people are blaming the song, an argument that i have some sympathy with as i hoped they wouldn't just rehash the same old tune with different singers but apart from a few changed lines, it's exactly what they did.
Others are saying the British public is suffering from charity fatigue, coming so soon after Children in Need which is yet another plea for our cash which is in short enough supply already at this time of year.
It does seem that you can't step outside the door without someone trying to sign you up to donate a monthly amount to one charity or another.
Another reason put forward is that the spark that set the original Band Aid on it's way was the horrific and shocking scenes in Michael Buerk's news reports in 1984 which showed the appalling famine in Africa and 30 years on we have become a bit more immune to such sights of people literally starving to death.
Finally, the 1984 line up was a who's who of superstars of the day with the likes of Paul Weller and David Bowie rubbing shoulders with Paul McCartney and George Michael.
Today's big names of One Direction, Ed Sheeran and Ellie Goulding are not so much out of that league but almost a whole other sport.
Despite all that it is a great cause and i hope it raises as much money as possible but next time let's have a different song Bob.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Will Lewis Hamilton Ever Be Liked By Us Brits?

While Britain is not falling over sporting champions, when one does come along we seem to go off them pretty quick or in the case of Lewis Hamilton, not think much of him in the first place.
I would assume that Hamilton and his achievement of becoming the first British racing driver in over 40 years to win the Formula One drivers Championship twice has been greeted with lukewarm appreciation by the British public is because he comes across as a bit of an arrogant tosser.
As if arrogance is not enough of a red line to the British, include the fact that as soon as he began making some serious money he turned tax exile in Monaco and he not only crossed the line, he vaulted it so it isn't surprising that the British public has not taken Hamilton to heart.
Something the British can't stand is a show off and Hamilton with his sparkling diamond earring, pop star girlfriend and red carpet lifestyle almost guarantees that Hamilton will not be picking up any Sports Personality of The Year Awards when they are handed out next month.  
Stirling Moss touched on the subject the day after Hamilton's triumph when he said 'He’s whatever you call those superstars. And that’s not really the way we English go. We’re more reserved.'
Hamilton may well get the recognition for being the best in his sport, even one as boring as F1, but it is unlikely that he will ever gain national acceptance until he does things the 'British' way, whatever that is.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Reduced Brains In Dope Smokers

You can always tell someone who has been smoking weed for any length of time because they are just that little bit slower in the way they respond.
Only a fraction of a second in most cases but enough of a delay to alert us that we are dealing with someone who has lost a few braincells through a certain kind of herbal cigarettes.
New research has now borne it out that using marijuana may be related to certain changes in the brain related to a smaller volume of grey matter.
'We found that there is not only is a change in structure, but there also tends to be a change reflected in the connectivity' said study author Francesca Filbey, an associate professor in the School of Behavioural and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas who explained that the connectivity could be compensation for the loss of grey matter
'All we can say is that we do see these differences in people who use marijuana, Filbey said explaining that 'We also saw that the younger you are when you start using marijuana regularly, the greater the changes in the brain'.
Of course it is not 100% reliable to surmise that the person you are talking to is a bit slower on the uptake due to marijuana smoking which has reduced their brain volume, they just may be a Sun reader or a UKIP voter who have naturally reduced brains anyway.

Saturday, 22 November 2014


'You global warming advocates look kinda silly now that we are getting record snow fall' said one lady to me during the week as New York received a years worth of snow in just 3 days.
Of course climate-change sceptics are always groping for anything to embrace as evidence that global warming doesn't exist but a quick look at the science behind these catastrophic storms suggests that they do not occur despite global warming, but in fact because of it.
The basic science behind snow and its relationship to climate change is fairly straightforward as warmer temperatures cause more water to evaporate into the atmosphere and warmer air holds more water than cooler air. The warming results in air that becomes supersaturated with water, often bringing drenching rainfall, followed by flooding or, if it is cold enough, heavy and intense snowfall.
A study of 20th century snowstorms by the Northern Illinois University department of geography found that most major snowstorms in the United States occurred during warmer-than-normal years and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Centre predict that a warmer future climate will generate more winter storms.
So more water in the atmosphere and when you mix in a blast of unseasonably frigid conditions courtesy of the jet stream delivering Arctic air down into the United States because of the warmed Arctic region, you get a massive dumping of snow.
It doesn't help that the ice coverage on the Great Lakes has dropped with the warming climate, creating conditions favourable to more evaporation as the temperature difference between the lake and the air is greater creating heavier snowstorms.
Rather than looking silly, it confirms that the warmer atmosphere is holding more water vapour and so there is more of that water vapour available for precipitation and as long as it's cold enough for that precipitation to be snow you will get larger snowfalls.
It really isn't that difficult to grasp unless you are grasping incorrectly to try and prove your point which is based on ignorance.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Cosby Allegations

The Bill Cosby allegations first surfaced in 2005 when Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually assaulted four women, now the count is up to 13 including Janice Dickinson who claimed in 1982 he gave her a glass of red wine and a pill before raping her. 
Settling out of court always seems an admission of guilt without the trail, if you were innocent why not go to the court and be exonerated completely?    
It seems that in 2006, after the undisclosed amount was transferred out of the Cosby bank account to his victim, the allegations were forgotten and everything carried on as before reminiscent of the Michael Jackson child sexual abuse accusations case in 1993 when he paid out $15m to 13 year old Jordan Chandler and resumed his career.
Although Jackson's career recovered, the second allegation bought everything crashing down around his ears and it appears that it is the further allegations which is doing for Cosby now.
It does appear that the court of public opinion has now decided to feel disgusted with Cosby, even though the allegations against him being a serial rapist have been rumbling in the background for the past nine years.
I am sure someone more qualified than i can explain why we are willing to forgive and forget people like Cosby the first time is due to the position people like Cosby holds in our lives.
Most of us grew up with Cosby in shows like The Cosby Show and we don't want to think that someone like the wise-cracking, goofy, advice-dispensing patriarch we loved to watch turned out to be one of the lowest human beings on the planet is too shocking to contemplate until the second time around.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Lunar Mission One

There are some people who balk at the idea of spending millions to fire rockets into space but the misery-guts can't argue about the latest idea to pay a visit to the moon as it will be funded by donations from the public.
The plans are to land a robotic probe, Lunar Mission One, on the Moon in 10 years' time to survey the Moon's south pole to see if a human base can be set up in the future funded by £500m of donations by the public who in return will be able to have photos, text and their DNA included in a time capsule which will be buried under the lunar surface.
David Iron, who is leading the project, said he was setting up the initiative because governments were increasingly finding it difficult to fund space missions.
'Anyone in the world will be able to get involved for as little as just a few pounds. Lunar Mission One
will make a huge contribution to our understanding of the origins of our planet and the Moon' he explained.
For the next four years, funds will be received through contributions from the public, who will be able to buy digital storage space on the lander for their own personal text messages for £3, pictures for £10 and a videos will cost £200. The price of sending a hair sample will be around £50.
The lander will also contain a public digital archive of human history and science which will be compiled as a legacy which will survive even if our species becomes extinct.
The hook for many, including me, is that rather than just watching another mission, we are directly involved not just through funding but having a little piece of ourselves on another part of the Solar System.
This is a great idea and could be the future of space exploration and we won't have to listen to the moaners who would prefer the money be spent on improving rubbish collection or some such triviality rather than exploring possible alternative places for our species to live after we have trashed this planet so badly.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Pick-Up Artist Banned From UK

Britain has joined the list of places that Julien Blanc, the self-titled 'Pick up artist', can't visit after the Home Office banned him from entering the country.
More than 158,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Blanc, who tours the world giving £1000 seminars and boot camps on what he calls 'dating advice' but his critics call 'tricking women into having sex'.
The Home Office explained that: 'The Home Secretary has the power to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good' and judging by his previous advice which included Blanc promising men who take his courses that he will teach them how to 'Make Girls BEG To Sleep With You After Short-circuiting Their Emotional And Logical Mind' and 'overcoming last-minute resistance making her feel 100% comfortable for sex', i would say it is a good decision although it does seem as much a decision to protect the wallets of stupid men as much as to protect women.
He is obviously an egotistical bell-end but i am sure there are some people who will try and make the argument regarding freedom of speech but surely that is trumped if the speech is to incite at best non-consensual sexual advances, at worst inciting non-consensual sex or rape as it is also called.
Preventing women from being harmed is always better than having to deal with the perpetrator and the shattered life afterwards so i'm happy to see him banned from flogging his 'advice' to desperate men here and i hope more countries tell him where to go as well.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

2014 Warmest Year On Record.

Not one, not two but three organisations have released data at the same time to confirm that 2014 is set to be the warmest year on record.
Data from NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the National Climatic Data Centre all peg temperatures in October as above average which continues the trend that shows not only is the earth warming, but so are the oceans which have been sucking up the CO2 and drives up further global temperatures.
While individual hot years or months don’t necessarily stand out, it’s notable that all 10 of the warmest years on record have all come since 1998, and the trend for extreme weather moving upward according to a the U.S. National Climate Assessment to the American Meteorological Society.
The Environmental Defence Fund have broken down the changing weather patterns they have been seeing and why.
The rain patterns are changing are there is more moisture in the atmosphere from a warmer world and changes in circulation patterns as stubborn to shift high and low pressure systems deflect storms which are holding more moisture due to greater evaporation in the warmer conditions and throwing down more intense rain.
The changing weather patterns and deflected weather patterns means that while some places get more than their fair share of rain and subsequent floods, others get none leading to droughts conditions which increases evaporation from the soil which in turn dries out the soil and the incoming sunlight heats the ground, instead of evaporating water in the soil which creates a vicious cycle of more heat and less rain.
All of which points towards unless society curbs its emissions of heat-trapping gases, these trends will not only continue but worsen and future generations will be justified on asking why did we not do something about it while we still had the chance.
The answer is obviously because we didn't care enough about them to try and change things.

EU Finally Acting On Israel

Not before time the tide has changing against support for Israel and the EU have threatened sanctions against the country for 'posing obstacles to a two-state solution with occupied Palestine'.
The line the Israeli's crossed which has finally got the Eu to take notice of what Israel has been up to for over 60 years, was the dismantling of several EU-funded humanitarian projects in a West Bank zone known as the E1 corridor, which were bulldozed to make way for new Israeli settlements.
Amidst warnings that this was seriously disturbing territorial coherence with the Palestinians, let alone that it was a breach of international law, the EU is getting its act together to bring to heel one of the worst human right abusers of our times.
Israel does business worth €29 billion with the EU and it may focus a few minds in the Israeli Government more sharply and find it less easy to swat away then the condemnation it receives when it breaches all manner of human right acts and international laws.
Finally, Israel is finding it can longer carry on acting as barbarically as it has, the shame is that it has taken this long for the World's Governments to wake up to it.

The Nuts Of California

In 1972, Mike Hazlewood, sang a song called 'It never rains in Southern California' but 42 years on it seems that it isn't just the southern part of the state running out of water, 99% of it is officially 'abnormally dry".
California is now in its third year of drought and the reservoirs have almost run dry and so too are the ground water supplies and the home owners are actually being paid to rip up the grass and plants in the gardens and replace it with plants more tolerant to desert-like conditions which don't require watering.
All very sensible water preservation precautions until you hear that California's Central Valley which supplies 80% of the Worlds almonds, uses up 1.1 trillion gallons of water every single year, the equivalent of 86 million 10-minute showers every day for the next year.
With 70% of the almonds produced going to China, Californians are quire literally being sucked dry to ensure that the people of China get their almond based snacks.
I imagine at some time in the past someone in California has asked why selling nuts to China and making a handful of nut farmers a profit is more important than ensuring their own water supply for the people who pay the taxes in the State but as it's continuing, i imagine they were told profit trumps the need of the Californians reliving the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930's.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Rap Therapy

I never really appreciated rap back in it's heyday but one of the best lines in music comes from the Run DMC song 'It's Like That' where the boys make the suggestion that 'Next time someones teaching why don't you get taught'.
A great line but apart from a handful of Run DMC songs and few by Grandmaster Flash, rap seemed to have not really been on my radar but psychiatrists at Cambridge University have obviously been paying attention to it because they believe that ‘hip-hop’ therapy could help the depressed and mentally ill.
'Much of hip-hop comes from areas of great socioeconomic deprivation, so it’s inevitable that its lyrics will reflect the issues faced by people brought up in these areas, including poverty, marginalisation, crime and drugs' explained Dr Akeem Sule, of the University of Cambridge.
'Hip-hop artists use their skills and talents not only to describe the world they see, but also as a means of breaking free. There’s often a message of hope in amongst the lyrics' and the team have chosen the top three hip-hop songs which they believe can help mental illness.
I don't know the song 'Juicy' by The Notorious BIG or J flex ft Lady of R's 1997 classic 'Lady Heroin' but i am very familiar with 'The Message' by Grand Master Flash & The Furious Five, mostly because it was used in the Green Cross Code advert back in the 80's.
Music can certainly be very emotive and can stir some deep emotions so the Cambridge boffins are probably on to something and it may be rap music for some and Country and Western for others, another genre of music that i pretty much ignored, but i find listening to Christmas songs at any time of the year a massive lifter.
Hearing 'Frosty the Snowman' coming from the CD player in July also serves as a great warning sign to others that it probably isn't the best time to ask for a favour.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

No Santa At Gun Club This Year

Christmas is a time for peace and goodwill to all men, something the ScottsDale Gun Club obviously forgot as they used the yuletide as an opportunity to flog weapons and sell a photo of you and your family holding powerful weaponry while Santa looks on.
Unfortunately this year it seems that Santa has had a change of heart and he won't be putting in an appearance at the ScottsDale Gun Club amidst much disappointment from gun-buying members who so wanted to send out Christmas cards with festive scenes of them excitedly holding AK47's with Santa.
No explanation was forthcoming from the Gun Club why Santa is swerving them this year but the shop is keen to let customers know that they are still open to sell plenty of weapons that can blow a big hole into another person and what more can you ask from a gun.
So pop down to the shop on Northsight Boulevard and show someone how much you love them by buying them a high-powered weapon of death.
Not endorsed by Santa.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Another Step Forward

After 25 years of planning, 10 years of travelling and 300 million miles of distance travelled, we have taken another large step by landing a probe on a 4 billion year old comet breezing along at 34,000mph.
Scientists cheered and punched the air in the European Space Agency (ESA) control room after a nail-biting 7 hour wait between the probe's detachment from the Rosetta orbiter and touchdown on the comet's surface and receipt of first signals.
The orbiter has been chasing the comet, named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, since 2004 and has now caught up with it as it passed between Earth and Jupiter on one of its regular trips to the inner Solar System.
There are concerns that the lander's harpoon system for firmly latching onto the comet had not fired and the probes grip on the comet is tentatively dependent on ice-screws affixed to the bottom of the landing legs but for the moment we taken yet another leap forward which are thankfully beginning to come regularly after so many wasted years in space exploration.

Thankful For Political Correctness

Growing up in the 1970's, i remember the jokes comedians made about black men, the Irish, the disabled, Jews, homosexuals, women and any other group that wasn't British white male.
Fast forward 30 years and we have shows like Little Britain and Borat which are applauded for not being politically correct but are exactly the sort of shows that wouldn't have been funny 30 years ago because the sort of thing's they say and do were then the norm.
As if undermining the people applauding him, Borat writer, Peter Baynham, explained that: 'When Borat says controversial and 'un-PC' things, it is obvious it is because he is clearly an idiot, a little reminder, of why we don't say those things, and it's weird when you read people saying it was deliberately offensive. The laugh is a laugh of 'Oh my God, you can't say that!' People are laughing with shock, because we've reminded them of why it's wrong to say things like black people have chocolate faces'.
Far from being a mockery of political correctness, Borat shows a time before political correctness made things better and that is where the humour lies, laughing at the very sort of 70's racism and sexism that was so prevalent and ushered in the dire need for cultural and social advances.
A peaceful society is built upon respect and tolerance for all of it's members and since the days when Bernard Manning's jokes about Paki's was the height of comedy, Britain has become a more tolerant, fairer and more culturally aware society and the introduction of political correctness has helped promote that.
Political correctness reflects the kind of society most of us want to live in where offending people is frowned upon and it is only those who set out to deliberately be offensive who complain about the restriction of their freedoms to insult anyone they want at will. 
The phrase 'political correctness gone mad' can be heard being uttered by aggrieved people who remember the days when they could speak without fear of being accused of upsetting one minority in society or another.
Political Correctness has ushered in a time of respect and civility for all, where unnecessary offence is avoided and everyone in society has the same opportunities regardless of the colour of your skin, if you are in a wheelchair, if you are Jewish or if you have a vagina and how can anybody seriously say that is a bad thing?
The only freedom the anti-PC brigade has lost is the freedom to cause offence to another person and thankfully we have moved so far from the bad old days that no amount of whinging about political correctness will undo the immense good that it has done.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Universe Lucky To Have Us Remarkable Humans

In the 13.6 billion years since the universe was formed, entire civilisations on other planets may have been created and perished long before our planet came on the scene 4.5 billion years ago. Humans have been running the show here for a mere 200,000 years which is a blink of an eye in the scheme of the universe and a tiny fraction of the 170 million years that the dinosaurs ruled the planet.
Considering just how short a time homo-sapiens have been around, what we have achieved is truly remarkable in that we have worked out how and when the universe was created, have been able to overcome gravity and leave our own planet, land on others and have a permanent base circling our World in the International Space Station.
Over time the human mind has pondered and solved the most complex of questions and for those that are beyond us, have created machines that can perform calculations measured in the quadrillions per second.
For all our faults we are a remarkable life form and science will continue to drive on and it is dizzying to think how further advanced we will become but more importantly, just how valuable we are.
If life has formed on other planets it doesn't necessarily follow that it will take the same trajectory as homo-sapiens here on Earth, they could follow the line of the dinosaurs who spent their allotted 170 millions years eating the vegetation and each other until their extinction which allowed the mammals to flourish and most importantly, us.        
So to return to my original thought, what if we are the only beings in the entire universe who have the intelligence to leave our own atmosphere and land elsewhere. What if after 13.6 billion years we humans are the only ones to crack the problems faced in colonising other planets and are the ones responsible for intelligent life being on other planets.
We have our issues, far too warlike and we do have a habit of polluting our own environments, but what if this unremarkable planet tucked away on the arm of a insignificant galaxy is the home of life that spreads across the rest of the universe in the next 170 million years and considering that we have gone from inventing the wheel to landing machines on Mars in a cosmic click of the fingers, it could do much worse than have us humans in charge of the project.

Navy SEAL Didn't Think That Through

I can't think what the Navy SEAL all over the media claiming to have fired the shot that killed Osama bin Laden is doing.
Now his identity is out there he is a target for every crackpot fundamentalist around the World.
If i was one of the other Navy SEAL's disputing his version of events, i would be quite happy to let him take the plaudits and appear on as many chat shows and interviews as he wants if that is his craving because his name, and his families, has just shot to the top of the list of targets for certain groups around the World.
Whoever is advising him, if anybody is, should make their next piece of advice to him to pull his head in and shut the hell up because his big ego and brainless actions have put everyone around him in the cross hairs.

World Wars Business Opportunity

I don't wear a poppy for two reasons, the first being i am continually being told i should do because people died to ensure that i was free to wear one which i rebut with i'm sure they died so i could choose whether to or not otherwise that fascism and wasn't THAT what they died to avoid?       
Secondly i am from the school that rather than send young men to war and then stand around looking solemn wearing a red flower once a year when they die in their droves, just don't send them to fight wars in the first place. I'm sure, if asked, the family of every single soldier that has ever died would they rather their son, husband or brother be alive and not known then dead and remembered one Sunday in November by the old men who sent them to war, they would choose the later.
Apart from poppies, there does seem to be a new market emerging around this time of year, the World War souvenir business.
At the local Guildhall this morning, during the remembrance service, there was stalls selling mugs, t-shirts, teddy bears in tin hats and even chocolate poppies and i did wonder as i watched the brisk business they made between the first cannon for silence and the second to end the two minutes of contemplation, is this really an appropriate way to remember all these soldiers who lost their lives?     
I am unsure in my own mind if this is blatant exploitation or a legitimate, albeit questionable, business opportunity but while the argument will continue exactly what the millions died for, i'm sure all sides can agree it wasn't to make a profit on chocolate poppies sold in their name.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Zeppelin Plagarism Trial

Not sure if they were inspired by my post here but finally Spirit have decided to sue Led Zeppelin for ripping off their 1968 song 'Taurus' to create 'Stairway to Heaven'.
If the judge in the case has a pair of working ears then the result should be a resounding Guilty and the award of monetary damages and a writing credit for the late songwriter Randy Craig Wolfe who's family claim that Jimmy Page plagiarised the chords after the two bands toured together and become familiar with each others music.
The Zeppelin's tried to have the case dismissed as the defendants are British citizens residing in England and therefore could not be tried by an American court but the judge dismissed the appeal and ordered the trial to continue.
As it comes hot on the heels of the BBC programme where Jimmy Page broke down exactly how he created the tune and came up with the haunting riffs for the Zeppelin song and not once mentioned scribbling it down when Taurus played it, this should be interesting.
The Eagles should be worried if Jethro Tull are paying attention.

Baby Metal

Baby Metal are a Japanese band fronted by three super-cute sixteen year old girls but the twist is that they sing and dance in the style of pop idol contestants to the music of head banging thrash metal as if Girls Aloud and Slipknot had a baby.
Bit strange was my thoughts and then i clearly forgot about them but suddenly they are announcing a tour of the UK and all sorts of Metal fans who are usually scratching Metallica into their forearms with a compass are raving about them.
It really shouldn't work and nobody can really explain why Baby Metal are on such an upwards trajectory but upwards they are certainly heading but maybe because it is the whole concept is so damn weird that it has caught the imagination of metal fans who are, to be fair, a pretty weird bunch anyway.
I'm not much of a metal fan and the music doesn't really appeal to me so i won't be queueing up for concert tickets anytime soon but i do love the idea and anything has to be better than the X-Factor pap that Simon Cowell has been spinning out for the past decade and besides, who doesn't love a Japanese teenager singing sweet lyrics in front of burning guitars while a man dressed as a skeleton head bangs along to a thrash metal riff behind them.
Just me then?

Baby Metal Video Here

That'll Show 'Em

A rather too smug George Osborne returned from Brussels, puffed out his chest and proudly announced: 'Instead of footing the bill, we’ve halved the bill' in relation to the £14.7 billion bill the EU handed over to the UK last month.
What he obviously forgot to mention was that it was halved by Osborne offering to return the £850 million rebate cheque that the UK was due to receive and the rest in instalments meaning that the full £1.7bn will still be paid in full.
After all that huffing and humphing by Cameron about not paying it, we just have as asked, to an instalment plan the EU was always happy to accommodate us on.
I now look forward to Cameron and Gideon explaining how they showed those Europeans who's boss.

1989 Again?

I woke up this morning and on the radio was Mikhail Gorbachev talking about the Berlin Wall and an American General talking about how dangerous the Russians were and how American actions was aimed at protecting the West from the leaders in the Kremlin.
Great i thought, i've woken up in 1989 again and was just joyfully contemplating another chance to witness Guns 'n' Roses before they turned into Bon Jovi and be able to wear jeans with the knees ripped out again when the interviewer announced that it has been 25 years since the Berlin Wall came down.
Putting back into the cupboard the 'Ronald Reagan: The President's Brain Is Missing' T-shirt, it did strike me that even 25 years has gone, the Cold War is still ongoing.
'We wasted the chances that the end of the Cold War presented. It started so well, but some people didn’t like it' Mikhail Gorbachev said, obviously pointing at the Americans.
Noam Chomsky then chimed in asking why NATO continued to exist and then answering his own question by explaining that it's to 'control the international, the global energy system, pipelines. That means to control the world' which is hard to argue against as since the Wall came down America and NATO have been involved in plenty of wars in oil rich Middle Eastern and North African countries.      
It has always seemed that the West, America especially, have been trying to get a handle on Russia since it became obvious that the country wasn't going to play ball and knuckle down to America's will, with the opposition to attacking Syria and then the Ukraine the pre-text to finally try and bring it to heel using cold war rhetoric and Obama absurdly branding the Russians as the second greatest threat to the World.
From where i am sitting it isn't the Russians bent on reshaping the world by all means necessary for it's own interests or the country with military bases all around the World ready to attack anyone who threatens those interests.
At the moment the new walls being erected are only virtual and it isn't a Cold War so much as a tepid one but as the rhetoric grows, against Russia as well as that other great threat to America that is China, we may all be back in the pre-1989 days only without the decent music on the radio and cool fashion this time.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

How Dare They Use Facts

Those damned EU migrants. They come over here and contribute more to the UK in taxes than they receive in benefits and services, according to new research.
Just who do they think they are paying taxes and enriching the country by £20 billion since 2001.
Professor Christian Dustmann, director of UCL's Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration said: 'A key concern in the public debate on migration is whether immigrants contribute their fair share to the tax and welfare systems. Our new analysis draws a positive picture of the overall fiscal contribution made by recent immigrant cohorts, particularly of immigrants arriving from the EU'.
So now what are the reactionary anti-immigration Ukipers who want to take us out of Europe going to do now that their reason to come out of Europe is exposed as a busted flush?
It just isn't right, the UKIP and their voters are already a laughing stock and this isn't going to make things any easier.
I want a return to the days before the people who know these things would spout such evidence that contradicted things that us little Englanders thought we knew, the old days when Nigel Farage could scaremonger about EU migrants without fear that he would be made to look an absolute twonk with the facts.
Bah, humbug.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Let's Pray

As it's Sunday and i am obliged to write one article a year about religion that doesn't ridicule the whole God thing, i usually leave it to December and hide it amongst articles about Santa and reindeer's with red noses but this year i thought i would get it out the way early and do it in November.
That was the plan anyway but as i dropped to my knees, clasped my hands in front of my face and prayed for some inspiration, i began to wonder, what is the hand clasping thing all about?   
I asked my neighbour who is a Reverend and should know if anyone does but he never and instead tried to get me to write about all the good things religion does in the world but i was on a mission so ignored him.
I asked a Buddhist, a Muslim and a Jew but it was a Chinese atheist who shone light upon it as a sign of submission.
According to her, the gesture goes back to the very early days of Christianity when the Romans were feeding lions on a diet of shackled Christians and the lion's lunch would offer their joined hands to the Romans in the hope that by submitting to their fate the Centurions would pity them and spare them.
Pretty sure that didn't work out so well for them and it just made the job of tying the hands of the prisoner even easier but apparently it's an act of waving the white flag, or surrendering themselves to their fate stating you are submissive to your God or Roman guard, whichever is most fitting at the time.
Happy with the explanation she then said that it could also stem from the traditional way of greeting someone in many south-east Asian countries from the same time when people wore loose garments with large sleeves and was specifically to demonstrate that they are not concealing any weapons within those sleeves, much in the way the handshake originated as a way to show you were not holding a weapon in early Western society.
I'm happy that it is a sign of submission to your chosen deity as if saying: 'Look God, i gave up a Sunday morning lie in, i'm kneeling on a hard floor in a draughty Church singing about rowing a boat ashore and listening to someone in a frock bang on for an hour about talking bushes..i give up!'
Righty, that's that out the way so next Sunday the story of how  if you give a man a sandwich you'll feed him for a day and if you give him a religion, he'll starve to death praying for a sandwich.

Preaching To The Wrong People

The world faces 'severe, pervasive and irreversible' damage unless swift action is taken to switch to fossil fuel alternatives and cut carbon emissions, according to the most detailed climate change report in years.
The window of opportunity to limit global warming to 2C is closing, according to UN experts who warn that the levels of three greenhouse gases, methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide, are at unprecedented levels that haven't been seen in the past 800,000 years.
It seems that John Kerry gets it, saying: 'The bottom line is that our planet is warming due to human actions, the damage is already visible. We're seeing more and more extreme weather and climate events, whether it's storm surges, devastating heatwaves and torrential rain across the globe. Those who choose to ignore or dispute the science so clearly laid out in this report do so at great risk for all of us, and for our kids and grandkids'.
As Kerry is a politician, it is up to him and his ilk to do something about it, we are not in any position to stop the bad stuff being pumped into the atmosphere despite how many low energy light bulbs or how many plastic bottles we recycle.
I could reduce my carbon footprint for a year to almost nil and it would be undone in seconds by China, USA or India so don't preach to us, take on the real bad guys in countries that are destroying it for us all  and making emotive speeches isn't enough, let's have some real action short of putting a dome over the worst offenders so they get to keep their damaging emissions at home.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Picking A Premier League Team For Americans

They may annoyingly insist on calling it soccer while the rest of us call it football but whatever they call it, the game seems to be catching on in the States with NBC picking up the Premier League and Fox showing UEFA Champions League coverage so now the Americans have a new problem, which team to support.
The Premier League sides breaks down into 3 divisions in one, the Big 5 who will divide up the winners pots come May, the relegation fodder who will spend the season trying to avoid looking at the league table and the teams who float around between them both not doing very much.   
While it is true that every team offers something unique, in reality you don't want to get stuck with a team that will get kicked out of the Premier League never to be seen on NBC again so Hull, West Brom, Crystal Palace, Leicester, Sunderland, QPR and Burnley can be left on the shelf unless you are some sort of masochist and enjoy the fans of other teams reminding you of that latest 5-0 hammering your team received. 

The mid-division teams include West Ham, Swansea, Newcastle, Stoke and Aston Villa who are in the division purely to beat the relegation fodder while in turn get beaten by the teams at the sharp end of the league so if you pick one of these teams you had better be prepared for the Who? question because even us English forget about them and we live in the same country. This leaves eight teams who you can realistically support and not face ridicule week after week and the first is Tottenham Hotspur.

If you are the sort of person who never finishes things or loses interest halfway through then Tottenham, or Spurs, should be your team as they are the one team you can rely on to buckle under the pressure and fall spectacularly from grace which is brilliant fun to watch as long as you are not a Spurs fan. As a Tottenham fan you will have to legally hate Arsenal fans.
If they were a cartoon character they would be Wile E Coyote who does all he can and just when it looks as though he will succeed, invariably ends up in free-fall down the side of a cliff holding a sign that says 'Help'.

One of the few teams who have broken away from the previous group and look as though they could disrupt the normal order of things but they do have a policy of selling anything that isn't nailed down as they did at the end of last season so potentially could be dragged back into the former group before they have chance to add to the one FA Cup they won in 1976. As a Southampton fan you will have to legally hate Portsmouth and Bournemouth fans.
If they were a cartoon character they would be Barney Rubble, there as much as his neighbour but everyone is watching what Fred is doing.
They have American Goalkeeper Tim Howard which should draw in many American supporters but most famous for being a club from Liverpool but not being Liverpool. A safe team to support because while you won't be wallopped by the big fish, you won't ever celebrate anything either. As an Everton fan you will have to legally hate fans of Liverpool.
If they were a cartoon character they would be Velma from Scooby Doo, in the midst of the action but nobody would miss her if she wasn't.
After disregarding the chaff, we are left with the wheat, the Big 5 of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool.

Owned by a Russian billionaire friend of Vladimir Putin and managed by a man with an ego so big that the Chelsea players train by running around it, Chelsea are the team to beat but considering they are chock full of the best players Russian rubles can buy, boy can they be boring to watch. If it wasn't on the off-chance that John Terry would get a painful kick in the groin, nobody else apart from Chelsea fans would watch them. As a Chelsea fan you will have to legally hate fans of QPR and Fulham.
If they were a cartoon character they would be Mr Burns from the Simpsons, rich and successful but not very well liked.

Manchester United
The choice of the glory hunter, the team for anyone who wants to walk around saying their team are champions of everything and they did right up until they won zip and the country was deafened by the sound of Man Utd replica tops being thrown into the bin. Everyone's second favourite team is whoever is playing Manchester United that day. Probably not the best time to be a Manchester United fan because the fans of every other team are taking revenge and revelling in their demise. As a Man Utd fan you will have to legally hate fans of Man City.
If they were a cartoon character they would be Tom from Tom & Jerry, makes everyone else laugh when it all goes horribly wrong and he ends up looking ridiculous with his head stuck through a fence and a bowl of milk on his head.

Manchester City
Since one side of Manchester has slipped away, the other has stepped up with the help of the Abu Dhabi United Group who have spent well over £1 billion transforming the squad into one that could dominate the Premier League. Man City are the current champions and have some of the most exciting players to watch but despite the billion pound blown on players, have not yet attracted the same amount of vitriol as Man Utd or Chelsea for 'buying' the titles they have won but that will come so this may be the last chance to get in and claim supportership before the inevitable taunt of 'glory hunter' is thrown at anyone with a Manchester City shirt. As a Man City fan you will have to legally hate fans of Man Utd.
If they were a cartoon character they would be Bart Simpson, been around a while but is just starting to wear out his welcome.

The team who once lit up Europe but have since spent the last 2 decades saying they are coming back to do it all again but never looking like ever getting there. Past glories keep older Liverpool fans warm at night but for the newcomer, today's Liverpool are like being told you are being taken out for a meal and ending up at McDonalds, it's technically still a restaurant but not really what you were expecting. As a Liverpool fan you will have to legally hate fans of Everton. 
If they were a cartoon character they would be Mickey Mouse, once ruled over everything but peaked a while ago.

Generally regarded as the thinking mans team and as they are owned by an American, Stan Kroenke, they should appeal to Americano's. They play a beautiful game with skill and speed but if you pick Arsenal as your team you will have to learn the basic shout that all Arsenal fans master of 'Stop fannying about with and and shoot the bloody thing' as the 75th pass makes it way across the opponents 18 yard box. All means that for all the beautiful football, they will end up 3rd or 4th yet again as they have for the past 9 seasons. As an Arsenal fan you will have to legally hate fans of Tottenham.
If they were a cartoon character they would be Jessica Rabbit, beautiful to look at and involved in the action all the way through but never one of the main players.