Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Space Aggressors?

Governments sometimes withhold information to avoid a panic in the general population so if for example they had information that aliens were planning to invade planet Earth they would quietly go about developing a strategy to combat the threat.
If, lets say, this hypothetical situation was imminent, they would probably already be training special forces in secret locations in space warfare and give them a silly, macho name like Space Aggressors or something.
Of course the Government, let's say the American Government to pick one, would be keen to keep something like that out of the media to stop people from looking at the sky and searching for a horde of rampant Alpha Centurions.        
Anyway, in a hush-hush document there is a secret location near the Colorado's Rocky Mountains where teams called the '26th Space Aggressors Squadron' and '527th Space Aggressor Squadron' are training for 'conflict in a space environment'.
This follows a new department being created, the National Space Defence Centre, as part of the Multinational Space Collaboration effort.
Just a coincidence i'm sure.

How To Scare Brits

The Government have raised the terror threat level but we're British and we can't be scared until the threat level is raised to something that really makes up feel really threatened, and the Brits have been quick to share what really scares us.
The top day-to-day fears that cause a deep down, very British, panic are: 

Someone makes you a tea but it's the wrong colour
The words 'Is this seat taken'?
You notice the person in front of you in the 12 Items or Less queue clearly has 13 items.
Hearing 'Let's go round the room and say one thing about yourselves'
A colleague asks if they can use your mug
When a waiter asks if everything is OK and the meal wasn't
Someone getting your name wrong too many times and for too long for you to correct them
When you see somebody dip a knife coated with toast crumbs back into the butter
Someone constantly texting with their keyboard clicks still on
When someone opens the door for you a few foot away so you have to do that awkward jog
When the person behind you in the supermarket doesn't put a 'next customer' sign between your shopping and theirs
'God Save The Queen' keeps playing after the first verse
A stranger trying to engage you in conversation which isn't about the weather
When the waitress says: 'We only have ginger biscuits left i'm afraid'
The TV announcer saying: 'And now a film starring Hugh Grant'

We better hope ISIS never discover the secret to scaring Brits is to leave toast crumbs in the butter, hide all the supermarket next customer signs or make us talk about ourselves in a group.

Explaining The Manchester Terror Attack To Children

Sadly, we have had far too many minute silences these last few years, the latest one being for the 22 deaths in Manchester following a suicide attack on a concert attended in the main by teenagers.
Although it is devastating to see the all victims of any terror attacks, it stings that little bit more if the photo staring out from the newspaper or TV screen is that of a child. 
As the Manchester Arena was packed with thousands of children and young people when a suicide bomber detonated his device, we will be seeing more of them over the coming days along with the picture of Salman Abedi who caused all the death and devastation in some sorely misguided religious fervour.
As the majority of victims were children, and as our media has been full of the tales of the terror that night, parents have been dealing with the obvious questions from their children of why it happened and the unenviable situation of having to explain terror attacks to children.
Advice from the NSPCC is to not turn off the news to try and shield them, things that happen in the news will be talked about in the playground and it is better that your child is armed with the real information rather than depending on the Chinese whispers of their school friends.
Explain simply what has happened but offer reassurance too, remind them that there are many more good people than bad people and most importantly that they are safe and the likelihood of being caught up in an event like this is so, so small, you can't even do the sums to calculate the risk.
The saddest thing about all this is that 22 dead bodies a day is about the average for countries like Iraq and Syria but they don't get a fraction of the news time or the silent 60 seconds of contemplation that they do in the UK, France or Belgium.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Wondering About Tabby's Star

In a galaxy, far, far away is a weird star called KIC 8462852 which has been confusing astronomers for decades and has decided to be weird again and has sent Astronomers scrambling to point their telescopes it's way.
The stars and planets act in a perfectly predictable fashion so there has been much head scratching as to why KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's Star, changes brightness significantly and at irregular intervals.
Now there is another significant dimming dimming of the star 1,275 light years away in the Cygnus Constellation and the usual suspects such as a planet passing in front the star has been dismissed as this would not cause such a significant change in brightness, and it would be more predictable.
Other suggestions include a large, immensely dense cloud of dust and debris around the star or it is recovering having been hit by a planet and another theory suggests a swarm of comets may be responsible.
The whispered suggestion is that an alien mega structure has been built around the star to harvest its energy, something which is referred to as a Dyson Sphere, named after the man who put it forward as a theory in the 1960's as a way for future generations to power the Earth by partly enclosing the Sun with colossal solar panels.
It is a scary thought that if it does turn out to be an alien mega structure, and as were seeing how it was 1,275 years ago, while they had the intelligence and scientific know how to build a mega structure in Space, the 8th Century humans were inventing horseshoes and believed that a solar eclipse was the Sun being attacked by an evil demon.
Heaven help us if they ever discover us.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Poor Donald Trump

You have to feel for the poor old American President, Donald Trump, who has stated that: 'No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly'.
Nelson Mandela may differ and it is good to see the Roman Emperor, Valerian, who was disposed, used as a footstool before being made to drink molten gold and his skin removed and stuffed full of straw getting a mention.
To my knowledge Trump hasn't been used as furniture nor a gold receptacle or even a human scarecrow although i'm sure with his considerable girth he would make a decent beanbag.
He does seem to have a chip on his shoulder that the media are out to get him but why they have a problem with the racist tax dodger and self-confessed sex molester is anyone's guess.
So he has told a few lies, colluded and handed over top secret material to the Russians and is prone to a bit of exaggeration but it's time he got a break, after all, it can't be easy having all that power but having to look at that tiny penis every time he visits the gents and sleeping in beds drenched in Russian prostitutes urine.
I say keep your pecker up Donald, it's not as if you will have to put up with it for much longer, that impeachment will come before Christmas tops. 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

FA Clamping Down On Diving

Being British, we tend to overlook the British footballers who dive around like a spawning salmon to gain a penalty and blame the foreigners for it but whoever does it, the Football Association has announced that footballers who dive will face a two-match retrospective ban from the start of next season.
About time because diving has become a plague in the game and what some call an art in winning a penalty' is, to the rest of the world, blatant cheating.
No team would like to top a poll of the Leagues biggest cheaters but someone has top the list and according to a Daily Mirror study of which team have spent the most time conning the referee by rolling around like they have been shot by a cannon when they step into the penalty area, it's Chelsea who can put the award for biggest conmen next to the Premier League Title in their trophy cabinet. 
Chelsea are the Premier League team who have been involved in the most diving incidents since 2012/13 with Sunderland runners up and then Southampton, Tottenham, Manchester United, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Liverpool, Swansea, Manchester City and then Stoke.
Diving does not seem to have helped Sunderland but as an Arsenal fan, whose team is nowhere near the top 10 of the biggest cheaters, maybe throwing themselves to the ground like a big girls blouse in the style of Dele Alli or Diego Costa would help them climb above the fifth place that beckons this year.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Labour Nationalisation Policy

If the leaking of the Labour Party manifesto was supposed to embarrass the Labour Party, it spectacularly backfired as the plans to renationalise the rail, water and utility companies went down surprisingly well with the public. 
During the 80s and 90s, the Conservative Party went on a privatisation spree with the mantra that market competition in the private sector was a more efficient way to provide services provided by the Government and allows for a better price and service for us.
In practise, however, it increased costs, lowered the quality of services and led to rising unemployment because the simple logic tells us that it is impossible for the private sector to deliver the same service for less and still make a profit.
Private companies exist to make a profit for their investors even if they are providing a service to the public, and the only way to increase profit is to reduce the money they pay out (wages) or increase the money they bring in (prices), both of which comes at a huge cost, financial and personal, to the public.
A recent example was the great sell off of the Royal Mail which made a profit of £403 million for the Government in 2013, while in 2014 the profit went directly into someones bank account instead.
A week after the privatisation went through, the new owners announced the price of stamps would rise as 'the price didn't go up last year' proving they couldn't do the same job with the same number of people at the same price.
The mantra remains that Privatisation will bring down price and increase service but in reality the service falls through the floor and the price goes up. Take a look at your next electric, water, gas, phone bill or train ticket and that will testify that it doesn't bring greater efficiency, benefits to the customer,  bring the best prices for the consumer nor improve the service.  
Essentially, it denies the Government much needed tens of billions in tough times so there you go, that's why Labour's nationalisation plans have struck a chord with the country.

World Becoming More Vegetarian

Adolf Hitler, it is often said, was a vegetarian. He wasn't of course but the link between refusing to eat a cheeseburger and killing millions under the banner of Fascism is well known, albeit mostly in the minds of the sort of person who tuck into sausages with bits of minced eye and cow anus included for that extra protein.   
I like to point out that while Hitler, Stalin, Attila the Hun, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Vlad the Impaler, Caligula, George W Bush, Ivan the Terrible, Bin Laden, Donald Trump and Genghis Khan where all meat eaters, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Aristotle, Diogenes, Plato, Pythagoras, Socrates and Voltaire were all vegetarians.
Make of that what you will but apart from the moral and health implications of eating meat while the methane produced by the cattle is destroying the planet, things could be on the change because sales of meat free options have bloomed by 1,500% in the past year, according to a survey by online supermarket Ocado.
A third of the population identify themselves as 'flexitarian', meaning they are cutting down on their meat consumption and the demand for meat-free meals is soaring with an increase in sales of vegetarian meals up £17.2 million over the past year.
All great news for the planet, people's colons and the unslaughtered animals but most importantly we are moving away from a World of less beef and pork eating Hitler's, Genghis Khan's and Idi Amin's and heading towards one with more vegetable munching Da Vinci's, Gandhi's and Plato's.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Trump Impeachment: Coming Soon

It seems that Donald Trump, bored of not being an idiot for a few days, crammed as much idiocy into a few days to make up for it so what has the small handed tax dodger been up to recently to get even his own side groaning at him and demanding that he be forcibly removed. 
A quick recap shows in the space of a few days, he sacked the FBI guy leading an investigation into his dubious Russian links after he declined an invitation to drop an investigation into his friend and now former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, who resigned over undisclosed contact with a Russian diplomat.
Then the next day the President hosted Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and handed over information so highly classified that the US hadn’t shared it with its closest allies.
Countries that provide the highly sensitive information are said to be unhappy that intelligence they provided for only the eyes of a select few has been handed over to a country widely labelled as hostile with one European foreign minister stating they will re-evaluate the process of forwarding on sensitive information to the President.
With the sounds of him being in 'impeachment territory' ringing in his ears, the actions of Trump should be examined. 
The first explanation is that he is hiding himself in plain sight with the idea that people will think even he would not be that blatantly stupid if he was concerned about his Russian links coming to the surface, therefore he has nothing to hide.
The other view is that he is even more barn shakingly stupid and arrogant than previously thought.
I know which side of the argument my money would be on and as the evidence for impeachment grows stronger, America might start looking a bit more sane again, just change the nuclear codes before you drag him out first please.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Duh, Obviously

Fresh from the pages of 'Tell us something we didn't know', scientists have announced that Atheists are more intelligent than religious people according to dozens of studies.
Duh you may say but let's allow the scientists from the University of Rochester and the Northeastern University to explain why they think people who believe in a cloud man who made us from dirt are dullards. 
The thinking is that as people get exposed to new ideas and influences, they tend to lose their beliefs or get more religious during this time and the more intelligent are more likely to resist pressure to conform to religious pressure and eschew religion altogether.
Later in life, more intelligent people are more likely to get and stay married which makes them less reliant on the attachment that the function of religion provides. More intelligent people are also more likely to have higher level jobs and spend more time in school, which leads to higher self-esteem and encourages control of personal beliefs according to the study.
In the study, which was a combination of the results of 63 other scientific studies, the more intelligent members of the sample retained lower religiosity scores, relative to the general population.
There you have it, if you want to have as a meeting of minds about anything more intelligent than which end of a banana you should peel from, ask them first if they are a regular Church goer.

Cyberattack: Tough Times Ahead

Europol says it was fortunate that Friday's cyberattack which hit 200,000 victims in more than 150 countries happened when it did and people were logging off for the weekend but are warning that the attacks could pick up pace again on Monday as employees log back on again Monday.
The NHS has been widely hit in the UK by the ransomware cyberattack with files encrypted or locked with a threat to delete or expose the files publicly if the ransom of £230 is not paid by a certain time.
Up to 100 counties have been affected by the latest ransomware attack with tens of thousands of computers thought to be affected worldwide, the largest attack of its kind ever recorded.
Cybersecurity experts agree the threat from Ransomware is growing at an alarming rate with McAfee Labs saying ransomware cases grew 80% in 2016.
San Francisco's light rail system was one recent high-profile victim when it was held to ransom in November 2016, with ticket machines taken down and the city forced to open the gates and let passengers travel for free.
As we become more and more connected, and reliant on computers, this could be a taste of things to come and experts are already calling it a cyber-apocalypse, especially if the virus reaches the banking sector or even worse the military on hot the heels after discovering that the US nuclear arsenal is controlled by 1970s computers with floppy disks and the UK’s Trident nuclear program
operates on Windows XP, which has been at the centre of the global ransomware outbreak and which Microsoft stopped supporting and issuing security patches for in 2014.
'We could be in for a tough week' so say the experts, but even more frightening, this could be the start of a very tough era in a increasingly connected world.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

What Now Mr President?

Donald Trump, never being the sharpest knife in the drawer, has found himself painted into a corner with his actions against North Korea who have taken his threats against them making further missile tests and promptly ignored them.
Now that they have test fired a new and improved missile despite America's threats of military action, we are looking at Trump and asking 'Now What?'
If he thought that his bluster about possible military action was going to kowtow Pyongyang into ceasing their quest for more powerful weapons then he was way off the mark, if anything it has acted as a spur to their activities.
In a statement, the White House said Pyongyang has been: 'a flagrant menace for far too long' and is calling for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea.
That's the problem with going in too hard too quick, you have nowhere left to go but to carry through your threats and the certainty of hundreds of thousands of deaths or back down and look weak.
Buoyed by his action of lobbing a bunch of cruise missiles at Syria, Trump went in hard and high on North Korea, expecting them to back down and didn't expect them to stick two fingers up at him.
Now they have tweaked the American Presidents nose and asked him what he is going to do about it.
Even Trump, with his childlike grasp of reality, must realise that his actions have managed to turn a concern into a potential catastrophe.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Who Likes UK At Eurovision

It's Eurovision time again, and the UK Entry is called 'Never Give Up On You' which is ironic as that is exactly what the UK has done to Europe so if we are going to avoid the dreaded nul points scenario at the end of the night, we will be looking at the few friends we have left in Euroland to throw us a few points. 
As the Eurovision began in 1957, we have a long run of data available to work out which of our European brothers and sisters we can depend on to avoid the embarrassment of ending the evening on the right hand side of the board when the gongs are handed out.
Over the last 60 years the country that has given the UK the most points and our new best friends are Luxembourg, which has averaged a touch under five points per contest which is even more impressive when you consider they stopped taking part since 1993 so that's five points we are down already.
Luxembourg is closely followed by Malta and then Ireland, which is widely seen as our best Eurovision friend then Austria, Israel, Switzerland, Turkey and Portugal.
At the bottom end, the country that has snubbed the UK the most consistently is Montenegro, which has failed to give the UK a single point in the competition.
The other countries who have annually poo-pooed us Brits are Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Armenia and clearly, those are the countries that we should be withholding our Euro love from when it comes to sprinkle around the points.
We know who our friends are and if we don't win it will be because of Brexit/Jealousy/They Hate Us/Politics/Bloc Voting (delete as applicable) and not because we have entered yet another duff song.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Answering The 'Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?' Question

The Bible says that the 'Keys to Heaven Also Open the Gates of Hell' which is an awful security system but then the big guy didn't do a bang up job on the rest of things either.
While being interviewed in Ireland during 2015, Stephen Fry was asked what he would say to the man with such a slipshod attitude towards security, or God as he is also known, if he had a chance.
'I’d say Bone cancer in children, what’s that about?’ How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault' Fry replied. 'It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain'?  
Quite right Mr Fry you may say but hang about because the Church have fired back that God isn't to blame, we are.
'It is obvious that there is suffering in the world, but God is not to blame. Whose fault is it then? Quite simply, it is our fault. The world is broken because of our sin. Most people fail to factor this into the equation. We are all sinners. It is our rebellion [Adam and Eve eating the Apple] that broke God’s creation and brought suffering into the world'.
So there you have it, all the bad things happen because the first couple annoyed a man in the clouds by being enticed into eating an apple by a talking snake, what's so hard to understand about that Stephen Fry. Sheesh.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Revision Tips From Ancient Greece

Exam season is upon us and manic revision is under way and any edge that can be gained is worth considering and researchers may have found a way to eek out those few extra exam points which could make all the difference. 
A study found that pupils working in a room with the aroma of rosemary, achieved 5% to 7% better results in memory tests.
According to history books, Ancient Greek students knew this and wore rosemary garlands in exams and in the tests carried out by Northumbria University in a room with and without the aroma of rosemary, students exposed to rosemary had on average an improvement of 5% to 7% in results.
Another often used memory aid is to read difficult or important bits in a funny accent, this makes it stick out in your mind from all the other bits that you are trying to cram into your memory and use mnemonic's for those tricky to remember lists such as 'My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles' for the planets or 'No Plan Like Yours To Study History Wisely' for the Royal
Houses of Norman, Plantagenet, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, Windsor.
Whatever works for you but throw in a few rosemary Josticks when you are learning can't hurt.

Neanderthals Revenge

As we all know, Climate Change brings many, many dangers and as we go hurtling past the tipping point, things are already changing for the worse very quickly but apart from all the usual, most discussed ways Mother Nature will reap her revenge of ravishing her planet, there is another that is starting to show its ugly head, literally. 
As the Earth warms, it is accepted that northern countries will become more susceptible to outbreaks of diseases more associated with equatorial nations such as like malaria, cholera and dengue fever, as these diseases thrive at warmer temperatures but a frightening, little discussed news story throws another, more ancient angle on the spread of disease.
A 12-year-old boy died and at least twenty people were hospitalised after being infected by a reindeer carrying anthrax, the twist is that the reindeer had dropped dead over 75 years ago and its frozen carcass had emerged from under a layer of permafrost during the thaw last summer which exposed the reindeer corpse and released infectious anthrax into the environment.
Scientists have also discovered intact Spanish flu, smallpox and even the bubonic plague virus's in corpses buried in Alaska and in Siberia.
NASA scientists discovered bacteria that had been encased in a frozen pond in Alaska for 32,000 years which, when the ice melted, began swimming around unaffected.
The twist is that as 30-40,000 years old virus's and bacteria puts there lifetime in the age of Neanderthals, we could soon be facing ancient diseases we have never faced before that once riddled long-extinct species like Neanderthals as their bodies re-emerge from icy graves which have been buried for tens of thousands of years under a frozen ground which is thawing and now offering up its deadly harvest to carry on the work with homo sapiens.
A very scary thought.

Friday, 5 May 2017

There's An App For That

As we rub up against different people in our daily lives we come across some folk who make you wonder just how they manage to make it through the day without setting themselves on fire or walking off a cliff, the sort of people who i assume the makers of an app i saw advertised today aim their product at.
Take Five is an app that for £1 will automatically restart paused music after a set time if you pause music but forget to press play again on your device.
The advert shows what it calls a common occurrence where a person is listening to music on headphones, gets distracted and pause their music and then two hours later realise that they have been listening to silence for over 2 hours.
How much of a common occurrence it is that people find themselves not listening to music when they'd really should be i'm not sure but if you have to pay a bit of software to tell you when to turn your music back on, then maybe you should also be searching the app store for apps when you have forgotten to tie your laces or put your trousers on.
Unfortunately the Take Five site doesn't tell me how many times it has been downloaded but you worry for mankind if there are large numbers of people out there who need help with unpausing music.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Europeans Snubbing Democracy

Winston Churchill said of Democracy that was the worst form of Government except for all those others and a cross Europe YouGov reveals that many young Europeans agree with him with almost half (48%) saying it was the worst possible way to run a Government although the poll doesn't specify exactly what they would replace it with.
My problem with Democracy is that the whole process is only 1 day every 5 years and the elected leader can do what he or she wants without censor until the wheel slowly grinds back around again and we get the chance to vote him or her out.
What would improve Democracy is a way to remove the Prime Minister if they turn out to be a dud or found with their hands in the expenses till without having to wait half a decade before the opportunity by which time they could have done irreparable damage.
So if we did dispense with Democracy, what would we replace it with?
Anarchist's believe the best form of Government is no Government at all while Communist's see a means of abolishing Societies inequalities. Maybe Monarchy tickles their ideological fancy or oligarchy where all the power is in the hands of a ruling elite and there is always totalitarianism where an iron fist rules.
Theocracy with religious leaders running the show, Plutocracy with the rules set by the wealthy, Geniocracy where the most intelligent make the laws,
Meritocracy where people with experience run things, Autocracy where one person has the power or the opposite Demarchy where laws are made by public consensus or how about the newest member of forms of Government, Uniocracy, where a computer makes the decisions. 
There are many forms of Government, some are better than others, but we can look around now and honestly say something has to be better than what we have but there must be something said for removing humans from the decision making process because we have made a bit of a pigs ear of it so far.

Watching France

After Brexit and Trump, it is dangerous to expect the voting public to do the right thing and so we look over to France this weekend to see if the French voters elect another alarming right wing politician to a major country.
The smart money is on Marine Le Pen to be handed a spanking great loss by Emmanuel Macron and the polls have far right candidate Le Pen trailing by a large margin to her opponent but the same polls have been wrong before.
The independent centrist received the endorsement of Barack Obama today with the former US President ploughing into the election, backing Macron to triumph on Sunday, praising his liberal values and saying he appeals to people's hopes and not their fears.
So it is France we wait for this weekend to see if the age of voters making ridiculous mistakes with far reaching consequences continues.

Trump Get's Something Right Finally

Donald Trump, said of the Israel/Palestine conflict that is: 'not as difficult as people have thought over the years' and he is right.
To put it simply, stop funding Israel and it will be forced to make peace as it won't be able to afford to carry on the occupation of Palestine.
There you go, not that difficult at all really.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

At What Age Should I...

I don't know what age you get to before you start saying 'Age ain't nothing but a number' but science has worked out at what age you should give up the idea of taking up learning Mandarin or when to expect to take delivery of that mid-life crisis sports car.
According to science, the age of 8 is the peak time to learn a new language while we are still able to adapt to a new language structure. 
If you are a female between 20 and 23, you are at the peak of attractiveness to the opposite sex, if you are female and 24 or older than those trips to the make-up counter may become a bit more necessary.
Creativity peaks at 25 so if you haven't written that book or painted that picture by your 26th birthday, well you still have four years to make it as a sports star as you are at your peak aged 30 with a mix of experience, tactical nuance and your body can still take the rigours of professional sport before you hit 31 and your muscles wave a little white flag in submission.
That said, you are at your peak for playing chess at 31 and nobody has ever pulled a muscle or strained a ligament moving a knight to F3.
As chess is a game for solitary types, it is the perfect practise for when men wake up on your 35th birthday as that is the age when males are at their loneliest but that passes within 3 years as aged 38 is when we reach peak contentment.
Strangely, six year later at 44 is when we reach peak depression and the classic midlife crisis looms as our declining powers become more noticeable and women buy tight, leather trousers and peroxide our hair and men buy a medallion and undo the top three buttons on their shirts.
Despite our declining chess ability, sagging muscles and rash from cheap gold chained jewellery, the age at which the average Nobel Laureate gets their award is 59 so this is the time to bring peace to the Middle East or revisit that great piece of literature that has been at the back of the drawer since you hit 44 and spent your time flirting embarrassingly with people 20 years your junior.

Eurovision 2017

It's been two decades since the UK won the Eurovision song contest and we haven't bothered the top of the leaderboard since  but yet another Eurovision is almost upon us and hpe springs eternal that this time we have a chance of winning.
Only problem is our song is not great and in the wake of annoying our fellow Europeans with the Brexit vote we are as popular as a bacon sandwich in a Mosque with the people we are relying on voting for us.
This year our entry is a super slow ballad sung by one time X-Factor hopeful Lucie Jones so we should get ready the 'It's not about winning but the taking part' mantra but in all honesty, winning it would be nice.
The favourites for the title of best song in the continent are Italy, Bulgaria and Sweden but in a World of Brexit, Trump, North Korea, Syria and Terrorism filling our TV screens, Eurovision is a joyfully pointless distraction and i will be on my sofa next week with my homemade scorecard and a blind optimism that this year, the UK can win the bloody thing which will last about 10 minutes into the voting section when it will become obvious that we won't.

A Boring Election So Far

Although we are only at the start of the General Election campaign, the one theme that rings out is just how boring the whole thing is.
Not sure if the result is expected to be a foregone conclusion but usually by now the posters are in windows and battle buses are pulling up in high streets but with six weeks to go, it isn't until someone messes up that we are reminded that an election is on at all.
Tim Farron with his gay sex is a sin quote, Theresa May with her alternative facts on just how that dinner with the EU leader went and Diane Abbot with her awful maths are the depressing highlights so far but the lack of engagement is deafening.
All to suit the ruling Conservative Party you would think as they try to keep the focus on Brexit and nowhere near their shameful record hacking at the poor and disabled while cutting the tax bill of the rich. 
Meanwhile, boredom has set in with most people i have spoken to just wanting this election to be done and are not enthused about voting again after a couple of years of political upheaval.
At least previous elections had a modicum of hope involved that, at the end, there might be some sort of progressive government in charge but this one has an air of simply being a march of despair, following which the Tories get a huge majority and will continue to stuff the country as hard as politically possible.
Boredom is the way to maintain the status quo which is why Theresa May is piling up the list of soundbites and staying strangely quiet on any detail or post Brexit plans.
So it's all a boring forgone conclusion while we wait for Labour to change and the Liberal Democrats to rebuild their party, hopefully well before the next election in 2022.

The Smell Of Sour Grapes Rising Up In The Air

The Eagles have filed a lawsuit against the owners of a Mexico hotel, accusing them of using the name of their hit song without permission.
Bit rich considering that the Eagles pilfered the tune of their hit song from a Jethro Tull song.
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull once said, with his tongue firmly embedded in his cheek, that he liked the tune to Hotel California and he wished that he had written it in the knowledge that anyone who has heard 'We Used To Know', knew that he actually did.
The lawsuit states that the hotel in Mexico's Baja California Sur region: 'leads US consumers to believe that the Todos Santos Hotel is associated with the Eagles and, among other things, served as the inspiration for the lyrics in Hotel California, which is false'.
In defence the hotel states that visitors are mesmerised by the coincidences between the lyrics of the hit song and the physicality of the hotel and its surroundings including the long desert highway that leads there and the stories relating to spirits and ghosts in the courtyard.
I would say the Eagles have found much fame and fortune on the back of someon else's efforts so they should extend the same courtesy to someone doing the same to them.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Blair Not Getting It

Exactly 20 years ago, the sun shone and under a clear blue sky Tony Blair strolled into Downing Street with the ringing endorsement of the country but within a decade he was scuttling away under darkened skies and branded a war criminal.
He has tried to put his head above the parapet a few times and each time someone has tried to take it off as his toxic Iraq legacy continues to poison the British view of him but for whatever reason he now believes it is time to throw himself back into the limelight to save us all from Brexit.  
With a record of an illegal war and a million dead Iraqi's, the Blair rehabilitation was never going to be easy but he has been touring the TV studios to put forward his case for his comeback even though he doesn't seem to have a very firm grip of just why he remains so hated.
According to Blair, it is due to the perception that since he was forced out the door of Downing Street he has been trotting around the globe hoovering up bundles of cash which he denies, stating that he has been doing a lot of charity work.
I can't speak for everyone but the fact that Blair has been stuffing his pockets hardly enters the equation and it is the Iraq War that first springs to mind when the former Prime Ministers name is mentioned.
That he lied and span to take us into a war that left a million people dead, set the Middle East tinderbox alight and led directly to Islamic State ravaging the whole area are more of the reasons that are leapt to to explain why the Blair name is so reviled.  
That he considers he can walk back into public life and be hailed a some sort of saviour shows just how delusional the man is or how little he considers his abhorrent actions alongside G W Bush actually where.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Can A Progressive Alliance Work?

When the idea of a progressive alliance was first mooted a few weeks ago to stop the Tory Hard Brexit i thought it was a good idea, albeit unworkable.
The idea is that the 'left' parties, the Greens, Liberal Democrats and Labour Party, would not contest each others seats where one of them would have a chance of defeating the Conservative Party as not to split the left vote and Green, Lib Dem and Labour voters in that constituency would only have that one party or the Tories to vote for.
To my pleasant surprise, the idea has gained traction and several areas are debating withdrawing their candidate with Brighton and the Isle of Wight the latest to consider the pact along with several London constituencies who have already agreed to the pact.
I am all for strategic placing of candidates and tactical voting all over the UK in order to reduce the damage of the the Toxic Tories but i still think self-interest will stop it happening but it wil be very interesting to see if the momentum keeps building up to the day of the vote.
I will be more than happy to 'lend' my vote to whoever to stop the madness and self-inflicted economic suicide of a Tory Brexit.

Gay Vicar Got Off Lightly

The first Church of England vicar in a same-sex marriage is leaving his parish and claims 'institutional homophobia' in the church means he is blacklisted from getting another job.
Andrew Foreshew-Cain,  resigned from his London parish on Sunday, telling parishioners it was a relief because his ministry, and that of other gay and lesbian clergy, was 'barely tolerated rather than fully accepted'.
I would say he got off lightly considering how the Bible says homosexuals should be treated.

Leviticus 20:13
13: 'If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense'.

Strong And Stable: Repeat Ad Nauseam

Considering that we have a snap election in six weeks time, the Prime Minister is keeping the public at arms length as it has been revealed that at the weekend venue of the election campaign trail contained only hand-picked Conservative Party loyalists were invited to guarantee her a standing ovation.
She has also toured a factory after all thew workers had gone home for the day and refused to take part in televised debates and after her roasting on the BBC this morning, it is understandable.
The Conservatives have hit upon the strategy of shoehorning in the words 'strong and stable' into every media question which led to the bizarre answer to the question that voters deserve better than to be spoken to in soundbites with the answer that: 'It is in the national interest to have a strong and stable leadership because only a strong and stable leadership can deliver a strong and stable economy'.
To the question that she wants to remove the handcuffs of the previous promise to not raise tax, she replied that 'she did want to reduce taxes', apparently it seems that the best way of ensuring she could do that would be to give herself the chance to increase it.
Later in the morning the Prime Minister appeared on ITV and kept with the robotic strong and stable leadership answers although she was asked why she would not be doing the live TV debates?
'Because I want to get out into the community to meet ordinary people,” she replied before leaving the studio to rejoin the election trail where she appears to be doing everything she can to avoid ordinary people.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Israel's Pot To North Korea's Kettle

I have always wondered why when America goes stomping around the World starting wars, accusing people of being evil and stating who can and can't have what types of weapons, nobody points out the hypocrisy of how the USA funds and arms Israel, one of the worst regimes on the planet.
I can finally stop wondering because North Korea have pointed it out, accusing America of backing the only country in illegal possession of nuclear weapons and being the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East.
You would have thought that as Israel did so much to hide it's own clandestine nuclear weapons programme it would have the good sense to keeps its head down when the question of developing nuclear weapons were bandied about but Israel and sense is not two words you often hear together and so it was when the Israeli Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said North Korea was 'undermining global stability' and Pyongyang 'crossed the red line with its recent nuclear tests'.
Kim Jung Un's Government shot back that: 'Israel is the only illegal possessor of nukes in the Middle East under the patronage of the US' and then went on to call Israel a 'culprit of crimes against humanity' and an 'occupier which seeks to dominate the region and oppress Palestinians'.
It would appear the North Koreans have got Israel's number which prompted one of Liebermans's own colleagues to tweet 'We have enough enemies. Let’s focus on them' as i am sure that the last thing Israel wants is to have the spotlight shone brightly in their direction when it comes to war crimes, UN resolutions, destabalising the local area, illegal occupations and developing Nuclear Weapons.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Erasing The Memory Of Slave Traders

While a few British Members of Parliament are famously mentioned for ending the Slave Trade, Britain is never rightly given the credit for not only starting it but also profiting immensely from it but now a number of cities are starting to face up to their dark histories and reviewing buildings, streets and statues who commemorate men who whose hands were firmly involved in trading slaves.
Bristol is a city that was built on the wealth of the slave trade and the concert venue Colston Hall, named after Edward Colston a 17th-century philanthropist who gave great sums of money made from his trading of slaves to the city, is to be renamed after the council decided that it felt uncomfortable with the name of the building 'because of the perception that it had in some way profited from the slave trade'.
In Glasgow, Buchanan and Dunlop Street, named in honour of slave owners have been renamed and Liverpool have renamed Tarleton Street, Manesty’s Lane and Clarence Street, but dropped renaming Penny Lane, which was named to commemorate slave ship-owner James Penny, but is now more famous as the title of a Beatles song.
The Director of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at Hull University though thinks that a better strategy would be not to airbrush the past but to keep the names but draw attention to the dark life and times of the people the buildings and streets were named.
I can understand his view but i see having a building or street named after a person as an honour and would far rather see them renamed and the reasons why discussed than keep the name of such abhorrent people alive.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Coalition Of The Killing

The UN has urged US forces to do more to protect civilians in the war against Islamic State in the wake of 150 civilians who died in March following a series of coalition air strikes on the buildings they were hiding in.
As the UN were reminding the American air-force of its obligations under international humanitarian law, the Americans announced that since 2014, an estimated 3,164 civilians have been killed by US air strikes in Syria and Iraq.
'We regret the unintentional loss of civilian lives and express our deepest sympathies to the families and others affected by these strikes' the Pentagon said in a statement before explaining that: 'All feasible precautions were taken'.
Tough luck to the innocents then, clearly they consider 3,164 a price worth paying and they are ok with that. I wonder if suspected terrorists were gathering at a house in the US, the Pentagon would be fine with dropping a bomb on them and everybody else inside it too?
While the whole point is that the military kills less than the enemy, the families of the civilian casualties are always extended sympathy but never enough to stop dropping the bombs though.
Anyway, quick, look over there at Russia, North Korea, Iran and all those Muslim countries...

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Tough Crowd

While some parents have a child only a parent could love, some children have a parent only a child could love and that includes Ivanka Trump who was roundly booed and hissed as she attempted to defend her father Donald's attitude towards women.
President Trump's daughter was speaking at a W20 summit, part of the G20 women's summit, in Berlin alongside the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and said that she very proud of her father although Merkel explained to Trump junior that the disapproval from the female audience was due to: 'Some attitudes toward women your father has displayed'.
She was then mocked and jeered when she blamed the media for perpetuating the criticism of her pussy grabbing father.
Tough crowd for a charm offensive for a self-confessed sex molester and Ivanka Trump said that she would take advice and knowledge back to her father from the summit.
I am sure that she will find a subtle way to tell him that those Europeans think of a pervert who boasts about his sexual assaulting of women.    

Saturday, 22 April 2017

I Read It, Honestly

My friend has a weird way of reading books whereas she reads the first chapter, then the last chapter and if it seems exciting, she will go back and read it from the start. If not she puts it down and starts again with the next novel.
In some ways her method makes sense as i have spent far too long plowing through books thinking it must get better soon only to get most of the way through to realise it won't.   
Of course there is no right or wrong way to read a book but some people don't even do that, they watch the film of the book instead and then say they have read it.
Always a dangerous exercise especially as most films stray from the book they are based on but a whopping 64% of us admit to saying we have read the book but really only watched the DVD.
A survey by The Reading Agency found that the top most 'watched' books we lie about are:

James Bond books, Ian Fleming
Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
The Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis
The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
The Wizard of Oz, L Frank Baum
Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
The Godfather, Mario Puzo
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

Worst Type Of Role Models

The 20th Century could be described as the Century of War but only 17 years in and the 21st Century is shaping up to be even more deadly as conflicts seem to be either rumbling on or being sparked off all around the globe.   
Of course with so missiles being launched, bullets being fired and bombs being dropped somebody has to be profiting from selling all this death and destruction and that's where Britain steps in.
The British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has called missiles producer MBDA, a role model while unveiling multi-million deals between the firm and the UK military.
That would be the role model who is actively selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and once supplied Libya’s Gaddafi government and then during his overthrow, sold weapons to the Libyan rebels, effectively arming both sides of the conflict.
The weapons being sold to Saudi Arabia are currently being used in war-ravaged Yemen in airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition, which has been named by the United Nations as responsible for the majority of civilian casualties in the country.
As the Government continues to defend the sale of weapons to a regime which is responsible for over 10,000 deaths in Yemen according to UN figures, Michael Fallon offered the weak justification that: 'Saudi Arabia has the right to defend itself' which is even more bizarre as they are attacking 'rebels' in another country altogether. 
If the idea of a role model is to help being about humanitarian catastrophe and death in the pursuit of a profit then yep, Fallon certainly got that right.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Police Still Investigating Last Election

Seems strange that another election has been called while the outcome of the last one is still being investigated.
In March, the Electoral Commission handed the Conservative Party a £70,000 fine for election infringements and the Crown Prosecution Service are also investigating 20 seats won by the Government.
Dennis Skinner, MP for Bolsover, today asked the Prime Minister if MPs under investigation by the law would be allowed to run in this election for which she replied: 'I stand by all the Conservative MPs who are in this House and who will be out there standing again'.
Yes then, they will be able to fight for the seats which could yet be voided if if it found they infringed election laws.
Not quite sure how that would work if they stay within the law this time and are re-elected as the previous 'win' would be voided but they have since 'won' another one which makes the investigation and potential removal from the previous election pointless.
A cynic would say with no decision due to be made about the legality of the 20 Conservative MP's election before June 8th, the Prime Minister is well aware that the exercise is futile so can cheerfully back the dirty 20 in the knowledge that they won't be removed.
Doesn't make it any less grimy though.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

WW3 Pencilled In For May 13th

Whatever you have planned for May 13th, better move it to May 12th because that day is reserved for coughing up internal body parts and generally dropping dead because World War 3 has been pencilled in to start that date.
Self-proclaimed 'Messenger From God', Clairvoyant Horacio Villegas, has warned that he has been given the heads up that Donald Trump will 'bring the world into WW3' and it all got set in motion a few weeks ago when the American tax dodging sex fiend attacked Syria.
He warned: 'Nuclear missiles that will fall on cities and people throughout the world on the 100th anniversary of the visitation of the Virgin Mary', which is Saturday May 13 although he does helpfully explain that it will end on October 13th 2017 although there will be massive death and destruction by the time it all finishes.
The next in the chain of events is America attacking North Korea and Syria once again which will bring Russia and China into conflict with America and then it's time to break out the four minute warning sirens gathering dust since the late 80s.
The Messenger has said that he has been trying to get the word out about WW3 for years, even writing to Catholic bishops and cardinals in an attempt to warn them so that they could get the message out to the people.
All the pieces may have fallen into place and as way of proof of his God messaging abilities, he predicted that Donald Trump would win the Presidency a decade ago but: 'No one believed me then, until it happened'.
I have a feeling that despite all the evidence of God whispering the name of the next US President in his ear, the lack of belief will continue and although i expect us all to still be here on May 14th, it wouldn't hurt to watch When the Wind Blows just in case.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

June 8: Election Day

Since becoming Prime Minister, Theresa May has categorically denied there would be an early election, just last month her spokesman said 'it was not going to happen' but today it did happen as she stood in Downing Street, kept a straight face and called a General Election for seven weeks time on June 8th.
The decision has caught many people by surprise especially as there doesn't appear to be a reason for one except the chance to crush a very weak Labour Party and increase the Conservative majority to make it easier to push through unpopular decisions, such as the increase in National Insurance which they were forced to backtrack on earlier in the year in fear that they wouldn't get it past their own Conservative MP's.
With one eye on Brexit and the laws returning to the UK, he PM said that she wants support 'for the decisions I must take' and if the polls are anywhere near correct, she will win comfortably which provides the silver lining that The Labour Party will be forced into a leadership contest and we can get a Labour leader who can beat them in 2022.
Jeremey Corben had some good ideas and is a good man but unfortunately he his not the person for the job so Theresa May will win and be forced to deal with Brexit, Europe, Scotland, World events and Donald Trump and judging by what she has done since she become the unelected leader of Great Britain, she hasn't done a very good job thus far.
As the only Party calling for a review of the awful Brexit decision, i expect the Liberal Democrats to pick up many votes from the 48% of the country who voted to remain and is something that i will seriously consider doing as this could be the last chance to stop this vicious Tory government in its tracks before the full consequences of Brexit are known because by 2022, it will be too late.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Nixon And The North Koreans

Unless you have been on the Moon for the past week or so, you may have noticed that things are a bit tense between America and North Korea but the Communists almost never saw the 1970's as the then President got hammered and ordered a nuclear strike on the Asian nation.
As North Korea is still there to throw moonies at the current President, it obviously never happened but the story is a classic.
Richard Nixon was the sozzled President in 1969 and the Cold War was at its height when North Korea shot down a U.S. spy plane, killing all 31 men on board.
Maybe things were a bit slow President-wise on that day but when he got told the news he was as sober as the next man if the next man happened to be Boris Yeltsin.
Such an outrageous act by the rulers of the Northern half of Korea called for a severe reaction he rambled while drunkenly stumbling around the Oval Office and between telling Kissinger that he loved him and that he was his best friend, he ordered a tactical nuclear strike on North Korea.
Future Secretary Of State Henry Kissinger prised the President off his leg and telephoned everyone involved in the military chain of command to ignore the order for nuclear annihilation as the President was as pissed as a newt and he was going to bed to sleep it off.  
His advice obviously got through as North Korea survived to live another day which it used to develop nuclear missiles of it's own and America survived to vote in a tee-total President who is as hapless as a drunk Nixon.
Hopefully, Rex Tillerson the current Secretary of State, has a telephone and the numbers of all the military top brass handy at all times.

The Next Dr Who?

It's been a long time coming but finally the new series of Dr Who is back on our televisions but sadly it is the last run in the TARDIS for Peter Capaldi who rates very highly in my best Dr Who's ever list.
At the end of the new show last night we had a tantalising glimpse of the Dr regenerating but who he will regenerate into is a closely guarded secret but the bookies always have a good nose for these things and have stopped taking bets on one person, Kris Marshall.
If it is true and The 'My Family' and 'Death in Paradise' star becomes the 13th actor to take on the Doctor role, it would be an inspired choice as he would be perfect.
Many fans have expressed an interest in an actress taking the role, Tilda Swinton being the hot favourite for some time, but the bookies get these things right more often than not and after a flurry of bets on Marshall, have exterminated the book on who will be the next Doctor.
Although this news doesn't confirm Marshall has the role, the actor ticks all the boxes of being well known, but not too famous, a bit quirky and most importantly, a history of appearing in other BBC programmes.
On the whole the BBC get it right with their picks for Dr Who's, Matt Smith perhaps unfortunate to be sandwiched between probably the best two in David Tennant and Peter Capaldi but Kris Marshall would be the perfect fit.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Provoking North Korea A Dangerous Game

You have to wonder what does Donald Trump and America get out of antagonising North Korea?
Some argue that he has got a taste for military action after throwing the 59 cruise missiles at Syria and and dropping the MOAB in Afghanistan but both those were targets that wouldn't fight back, nuclear power North Korea would certainly return any missiles fired at them with a salvo aimed at South Korea and Japan and if they have the capability which they say they have, the Western
side of the United States itself.
If Trump thinks that sending an aircraft carrier and other assorted pieces of the US Military to hang around off the coast of Korea will cool the actions of North Korea, then he is even more stupid then we give him credit for.
China, Pyongyang's major ally, has warned that the tensions must be stopped from reaching an irreversible and unmanageable stage but with two unstable leaders with a massive arsenal at their disposal, things could easily spin out of control very quickly.
Someone needs to explain to Donald Trump, using very simple words, that the game of brinkmanship that he seems to be intent in playing is extremely dangerous and potentially could end in the deaths of millions.
A strike on North Korea could set off a chain reaction and US military planners under Obama came to the conclusion that Pyongyang’s most likely counter-move would be to demolish Seoul and Tokyo so ensued a position of mutual deterrence.
The Trump strategy seems to be putting pressure on Kim Jong Un's Government but if that fails, Trump is left with a decision to back down and show all American weakness in overwhelming return fire or American madness for provoking a devastating war that need not have been pursued in the first place.
With his country having been late for the first two World Wars, Donald Trump's America desperately lacking the intelligent leadership needed in commander-in-chief, is looking good and early for starting the third one.

Penny Dropped Yet Donald?

My point last week was that the problem with bombing the Syrian Government forces as America did last week, is that in doing so you are helping the people they are fighting against which is the terrorist group Islamic State.
Seemed quite strange then that Britain, typically, was the first to applaud the strange decision taken by Donald Trump to hinder the Syrian forces by blowing up part of their airbase.
Russia was vilified for supporting the Syrian Government but it is the Syrian Government and the Russians who are fighting Islamic State so it seemed quite strange because that would put Britain and America on the side of Islamic State and the rebels.
As we found out today as at least 100 people lost their lives on transfer buses courtesy of a van bomb, these are the people who your actions helped, the people whose side of the argument that America finds itself on in Syria.
How many dead children will Donald Trump have to see this time, killed by traditional weapons rather than chemical ones, before the penny drops that both sides in Syria are as murderous as each other and throwing his missiles into the mix, especially in support of the terrorists, only prolongs an already over-long and disastrous conflict. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Easter v Christmas

According to my more religious friends, Easter is the highlight of the Christian calendar which surprises me as i always thought it would be Christmas and the birth of Jesus rather than the time when he died.
Also Christmas is much more celebrated than Easter which is a bunch of confusing religious days all lumped together in a week so it's Palm Sunday, Good Friday and then culminating in Easter Sunday whereas Christmas is just Christmas Day and everyone knows what happened on Christmas Day but there are lots of confused looks when asked what happened on Palm Sunday. So with one eye on religious holiday harmony, let's put the two religious holidays to the test.  

Easter has the advantage that the days are longer and the weather warmer as it rolls around in Spring while Christmas is in the deep mid-winter so chalk one up for Easter. Easter 1 Christmas 0

As a vegetarian i am not best placed to judge whether the Christmas turkey beats the Easter lamb but according to people who enjoy eating bits of dead animals, a slaughtered baby sheep tastes better than the slaughtered poultry that adorns the Christmas dinner plates so another one for the Easter holidays. Easter 2 Christmas 0

As Simnel cakes are just a light version of the more frutier, darker and tastier Christmas cake you have to ask yourself why settle for Hugh Grant when you can have Johnny Depp so Christmas wins this one without breaking sweat. Easter 2 Christmas 1

Buns and Pies
It's not just member of the KKK who loves a hot cross, especially when it is on top of a bun but if you like your sweet fruity buns without a cross, you can buy tea cakes anytime of the year. Mince pies on the other hand are as Christmassy as asking the fattest guy in the office to put on a red suit and hand out the Christmas Presents to the staff. Mince Pies yes, tea cakes with a cross on top, not so much. Easter 2 Christmas 2 

Easter cards are a relatively new thing whereas Christmas Cards have been handed around since Queen Victoria's ample backside sat on the throne. As someone being killed isn't a particularly pleasant thing to have on the front of a greetings card, Easter Cards tend towards bunny's and eggs whereas Christmas cards have snow, robins, Santa, snowmen and for some reason a family sat around an animals drinking trough in a stable. Easter 2 Christmas 3

Christmas is a set date, December 25th so it moves around the week but while Easter moves around March and April, it is always on a Sunday which means Easter weekend is always a long weekend whereas Christmas is just Christmas Day and Boxing Day off work so Easter's guaranteed 4 days off work beats Christmas's guaranteed 2 days off which is especially annoying if its mid week as you have work either side of it. Easter 3 Christmas 3

For some reason, nobody has managed to come up with a good Easter song in the same way that Christmas has caught the imagination of songwriters. I can't think of one tune that tells us that the Easter Bunny is coming to town or how we wish it could be Easter everyday. Christmas has songs about Santa, snowmen and reindeer with red noses leading sleighs so until songwriters manage to find a way to make a catchy ditty about crucifixion and resurrection or even chocolate bearing rabbits, Christmas wins this category easily. Easter 3 Christmas 4

Christmas is time for Mulled Wine and Eggnog, Easter doesn't have a traditional drink but it does have a ready made, much used joke by uncreative people about Easter being the time of the year to get as hammered as Jesus. Unfortunate a tasteless joke about nailing a hippy to a giant wooden plus sign doesn't make up for a lack of Easter drinks so Christmas again for this one. Easter 3 Christmas 5.

The whole raison d'ĂȘtre of Christmas is about the giving and receiving of presents and the fun of Christmas is gazing at the brightly wrapped box with your name on it under the tree throughout December and the anticipation of ripping open the shiny paper on Christmas morning to reveal a Boots Talc and Bodywash giftset. With Easter, you know what you will get, a chocolate egg with the only anticipation being if it will be a delicious Cadbury's or the cheapy Kinnerton type which will stay in the fridge until August and then find it's way into the bin. Easter 3 Christmas 5

The votes are in then and the final result is Christmas is the champions of religious holidays and Easter will have to try harder.
With that in mind enjoy the four day weekend and if you plan to spend Good Friday getting as hammered as Jesus but in a different way, you have 3 days to get over it. Happy Chocolate Egg Day everyone.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Reinventing Easter

Easter has always been the poor relation to Christmas but whether you are an atheist or religious, Easter is the time to revel in the love of family and friends and finding some peace and time for reflection on what Easter really represents, chocolate.
I don't know where it says in the Bible that we should celebrate the Crucifixion of God's only son by eating our own weight in chocolate but that's the way Christians have decided to do it and who are we to argue.
Atheists at Easter face the same question they do at Easter, namely why celebrate the death and rise of Jesus at all when you spend the rest of the year dismissing the whole religion thing and they have a point, but we should be thankful for them because if it wasn't for them sacrificing Sunday mornings sat in a cold, dusty old building and singing tuneless hymns then we wouldn't have this long weekend off, so thanks religious people.     
What the Easter holidays need is to look at what is going on a Christmas and 'borrow' some of the ideas because apart from Chocolate Eggs, Easter doesn't really grip the imagination like Christmas does, the Easter Bunny gets knocked into a Crooked Hat when set against Father Christmas and the only Easter pop song i can think of is U2's 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' and that's not even about Easter,
just something that happened on Easter Day.   
The problem is, Easter is still far too connected to religion while Christmas has moved away from the whole Jesus's birth thing and has spun off on it's own with snowmen and reindeer with red noses.
The controversial solution then is for the Church to disassociate itself with Easter altogether so this time of year becomes more about chocolate although they need to keep the long Easter weekend because if it wasn't for that Easter would just be another day when you stuff your face full of chocolate.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Keeping Boris At Home

Britain was once a global superpower but those times have gone and now we are a small island off the coast of mainland Europe who like to think they are still a major player but in reality, we are just a small island off the coast of mainland Europe.
Case in point the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson. who left for the G7 summit making big claims on how we will lead the way gaining sanctions against Russia only for the other six to turn around and say: 'Nah, we won't do that' and leave him embarrassingly kicking his heels.
Days after he was kindly asked by the Americans not to go to Moscow for fear that he would make things worse, and remember they have Donald Trump at the helm, it has not been a good week for the man whose job it is to foster international relations.
'Sometimes some of our partners are less forward-leaning that we are' was the weak excuse put out by the Johnson camp for why nobody else was on board with the plan.
On the cancellation of the Boris trip to Moscow, the Russians said that it wasn't worth talking to Britain anyway as they have very little sway on the World stage which must have stung the British Government because it's true and will become even truer once the Brexit negotiations are dealt with.
Even worse is the pathetic poodling after the current American President, the most inept and unqualified man to ever threaten smaller and weaker nations with the US arsenal.
Scary thing is that if the walking disaster known as Donald Trump considers Boris Johnson to be too much of a liability to talk to people, then we are up a creek yelling if anyone has seen our paddle big time.

Why Spicer Won't Be Sacked

Sensible move by the Trump administration to appoint someone as spokesman who is even more of an embarrassment than then orange faced man child they have as President.
Sean Spicer today admitted that he has learnt to think before he speaks as he apologised for claiming Assad went a step further than Hitler in using gas but him just thinking is a welcome step in the right direction. 
Maybe it was easy for him to forget the six millions dead Jews in concentration camp gas chambers but he is certainly grovelling now as the calls for his resignation pile up.
I can't see the Donald team replacing him though, all the time he is there saying ridiculous things and looking like an idiot it deflects away from when Trump says ridiculous things and looks like an idiot which is often, so he won't be going anywhere soon.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Unicorn Day!!

Today is National Unicorn Day, when we celebrate the mythical creatures by sticking a horn on our pets, taking pictures of them on our mobiles and uploading them to facebook.
Of course Unicorns are the stuff of fairy tales and made up stories which brings us neatly to the Bible, where tales of Unicorns are abundant.
Now us atheists use this as a another stick to beat the religious with, scoffing that the Bible is a book of nice fairy stories but we shouldn't be so quick to judge, maybe there really was horned horses frolicking about the Middle East 2000 years ago.
The explanation comes from the Rev Hanz who explains that when they say 'Unicorn', they actually mean 'Rhinoceros' and i agree that it is easy to mix up the two animals, the amount of times i have sat watching a David Attenbrough programme and wondered if that 1.5 tonne animal stomping across the screen was a horned horse or a rhino.
I guess if you are willing to believe that a talking snake told a woman to eat an apple or that a man and his family managed to fit two of every kind of animal on a boat then you would swallow the 'we said Unicorns but we meant Rhino's' explanation.
Carry on.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Syrian War In A Nutshell

Syria wasn't supposed to be like this, it was meant to be a case of hijacking a popular protest, hand the protesters a few tonnes of arms and when it all turns violent, use the violence as a pretext for another 'humanitarian intervention' which includes bombing the Government into submission, install a western friendly puppet government and sit back and mop up the rebuilding and oil contracts.
Obviously Libya went wrong, as did Iraq and Afghanistan but Syria would be different but the West didn't anticipate Russia being in the mix.
Hot on the heels of the Arab Spring in 2011, a small revolt broke out in Syria, a protest that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad brutally put down but actually had the opposite effect of increasing the anger against the Syrian Government. 
Now al-Assad has some friends that the West are not particularly fond of so they saw a chance to oust him and bring in their own more friendly Government so they began shovelling funds and arms to the protesters hoping they would do the regime change bit for them.
The Syrian Government retaliated with the military so the West sent even more arms and funds to the 'rebels', only the 'rebels' included remnants of Al Queada, now calling themselves Islamic State, who had popped across the border from Iraq.    
Now armed with heavy weapons, the 'rebels' said thank you very much and not only fought against the Syrian Government forces but popped back across the border back into Iraq where they over-run the north of the country.
America, disturbed that the same people they have given the arms to had used them to attack cities in the country that America had spent a decade fighting for, they found themselves in the ludicrous situation of arming and fighting against the same group of people depending on which side of the Syrian/Iraq border they were stood on.   
Al-Assad said he was fighting terrorists, Russia agreed and joined the frey by bombing the 'rebels' while the West watched on until a chemical attack in 2013 which the West blamed on the Syrian Government and made all sort of threats about removing al-Assad but the British Government voted against military action, mainly because the intelligence was that action against the Syrian Government would only benefit Islamic State and without Britain taking it's usual position by it's side in a war, America decided they couldn't justify it either so it went back to the Western backed, heavily armed 'rebels' fighting the Russian backed, heavily armed Government.
Then, a chemical attack in the past fortnight and America decided that the Government forces killing thousands with conventional weapons is one thing but using chemical weapons is beyond the pale and fired 59 missiles at the Syrian airport where the Americans believe the attack originated from.
That then brings us up to date in the Syrian civil war where Russia and Syria face off against the West and their rag tag band of rebels fighting for democracy and freedom/terrorists bringing death and mayhem depending on if they are doing their thing with the weapons the West handed them in Iraq or Syria.
I'm sure it will all work out fine in the end though like it hasn't in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya...fifth times the charm.

Friday, 7 April 2017

The Wrong Action By Trump In Syria

Well we all said something had to be done but was lobbing 59 cruise missiles at yet another Middle Eastern country really the sensible thing to do?
Trump made much of the dead Syrian babies angle so if he cares that much about dead infants, will he now be stepping up to stop the bombing of Gaza, Mosul, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan?
How much was he beating himself up about the 200 dead civilians at the hands of the Americans bombers in Mosul just a week ago? I'm sure there were some babies in that gruesome roll call.
He has such care for Muslim children all of a sudden, but only if the deaths are by Chemicals dropped from on high, killing children by conventional weapons he doesn't seem to have so much of a care about, just don't use gas is the message.
The most suspect aspect is that by attacking the Syrian Government, the largest benefactor is Islamic State and their motley crew of terror groups. Libya showed what happens when we act as their air-force.
After the debacle of Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq and a $20 trillion debt, i wonder how the American people feel about 59 cruise missiles costing $1.6 million each being thrown into Syria, especially the $100 million bill to help the groups they are currently fighting against in Iraq.
We are yet to hear of the effects and any civilian deaths especially as we have been told that not all of the 59 missiles accurately reached their target but Britain was predictably the first to stand by Trump and back his actions but we have long learnt that this Government has little or no morals.
Trump is calling for nations to join him in his Syrian crusade but as he has shown, he is the last person anyone should be trusting to bring peace to anywhere.
All i can see from the actions are Islamic State strengthened, a very annoyed Russia and America being made to continue to look like the warmongering nation it is suspected of being run by a simple man who has little or no idea of the effects of his actions in an already volatile region.   

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Stalemate In Syria

It is heartbreaking to see what is going on in Syria and the scenes of the victims of the gas attack rightly caused outrage around the World and quite rightly something has to be done, the question is what can anyone do?
Donald Trump made a speech about crossing a red line and Russia defended the Syrian President Bashar al Assad while 80 people lay dead in a morgue, but Syia is such a basket case with so many countries fighting on either side that it is hard to see how anyone can do anything without sparking off a war amongst nations.
America have been trying to oust the President from the first day but Russia have been backing him so America can't attack the Syrian Army as they are under the protection of Russia.
The Syrian Army are fighting the rebels and Islamic State so any attack on the Army would benefit IS as well which nobody wants.
The Kurds are fighting on the side of the rebels but Turkey are attacking the Kurds as they deem them terrorists and Israel are becoming more involved against the Syrian Army but they are allied to America so Russia won't be attacking them.
Stalemate all around but why the big boys argue over who is to blame and spit out pointless rhetoric, the poor Syrians stuck in the middle continue to bury their dead.
Something has to be done but it is such a mess that it is hard to see exactly what anyone can do but for certain more military intervention will not make things any better.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Kurt Cobain 23rd Anniversary

Unbelievably, today is the 23rd anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana singer who took his own life after a battle with drugs, depression and his fame.
Widely revered as the father of Grunge in the early 90s, the legend continues and t-shirts bearing the Nirvana legend continue to adorn teenagers today who were not even born when the band picked up pop music by the scruff of the neck.
With one amazing album, 'Nevermind' and a couple of average ones, 'Bleach', 'In Utero' and 'Incesticide', Cobain and his band do seem to have endured the years on the strength of a handful of great songs although those few songs did inspire a whole generation of musicians.  
Cobain on the other hand, was the epitome of cool, the long blonde hair, the piercing blue eyes, the languid 'don't care' approach and the downplaying of his and his bands own place in music history.
The album 'Nevermind' was the bands highwater mark and 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' is as great a song as has graced the charts and although they never hit those heights again, and the Unplugged album released just before he committed suicide split Nirvana fans who either loved or hated it, such was the influence of that album and the four songs from it, that Nirvana and Kurt Cobain will be remembered long into the future.

Should Have Gone Straight To DVD

How bad does a film have to be to sell just one ticket in its opening weekend, as bad as Man Down it appears.
The film starring Shia LaBeouf is about a US soldier suffering from Post Traumatic Syndrome and grossed a grand total of £7 and the mystery viewer watched in Burnley.
The film now ties with the 2004, Polish effort, My Nikifor, which also sold 1 ticket and grossed the same £7 during its entire run.
Man Down opened at the Venice Film Festival last year to boos and walkouts from the audience and took a savaging at film sites with words such as 'confusing' and 'irredeemable' not likely to appear on the advertising blurb anytime soon.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Whoring Out Britain For Trade Deals

From the self confessed sex fiend in the White House to the head chopping regime in Saudi Arabia, Theresa May is on a one woman mission to whore Britain out for trade deals and mixing it with some very gruesome regimes as she does it.
When questioned about bringing up the subject of human rights to the Saudi Arabians, she gave a patronising claims that she was going as a female role model and quickly moved on to avoid tough questions on pounding Yemen with British bombs in one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises.
Then there was a visit to Turkey which is fast degenerating into dictatorship with journalism being curtailed and opposition figures jailed. We did sign a lovely £100m fighter jet deal with them though.
Not forgetting the World's worst neighbour, Israel, who has been expanding the illegal settlements at an prodigious rate but our Prime Minister May forgets to mention to the human rights-abusing Israeli government So there is Brexit, whoring ourselves out to the racist Donald Trump, dictatorial Saudi Arabians, Thuggish Turks and Israeli human right abusers all for the promise of a trade deal.
What isn't apparent is just what the nasty regimes we are mixing it with are demanding in return for their money or just what Theresa May is promising to compromise in desperation to offset the EU losses but it will all become apparent soon.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Not Quite Death From Asteroid This April

With the exception of the dinosaurs, who doesn't love a headline that screams we are on a collision course with a massive space rock and this year we are being spoilt because there isn't just one barrelling our way but three in short succession.
First up is 0.6 miles wide asteroid '2014 JO25' which has been slapped with the label 'potentially hazardous' and is due to come our way April 19 and is predicted to be the closest an asteroid has come to Earth in 400 years.
Sounds scary but you may want to postpone booking that trip to the International Space Station just yet though because NASA are predicting it will pass by Earth at a safe distance of about 1.1 million miles or about 5 times further than the moon.
Two other big asteroids, '2003 BD44' expected 18 April and '1999 CU3' on April 19, which are both almost 1.2 miles wide, will also pass by our planet shortly, however they won’t come as close as 2014.
The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was an estimated 6-8 miles wide and NASA predict that it would take an asteroid just 1.5 miles wide to cause widespread devastation on the planet and throw up enough dust to block out the sun and send humans the same
way as the dinosaurs.
Luckily, the Space Agencies keep an eye on all large space rocks and they have not seen anything yet that size with us in it's path so we can relax and just concern ourselves with people with rocks in their heads running things here on Earth instead.

Westminster Attack Aftermath

Within minutes of the attack in Westminster a fortnight ago we had the foghorn voices of the right wing on the media linking it to refugees, illegal immigrants, the EU, multiculturalism and even the repellent Nigel Farage arguing it proved Donald Trump’s racist anti-Muslim policies were correct.
They were revelling in their opportunity to say 'We told you so' as their imaginary fears seemed to have come true as Khalid Masood was dying from a gunshot wound in the back of a London Ambulance, leaving five victims of his madness.
Police swooped and quickly arrested 12 other people in Birmingham and Nottingham under the terrorism act who they suspected had connections to the killer.
The volume went down when it was revealed that the bad guy turned out to be a home grown Brit Adrian Elms from Kent and they are now nowhere to be seen that the Police have released all 12 of the detainees with no charge, say he acted alone and had no connection with radical Islamist groups such as Islamic State or Al-Qaeda.
That the attacker has now been put down to a British man who killed five people because he was a violent psychopath and not due to wanting to kill people who had a different religion to him or because he was an immigrant who hated Britain doesn't play well with the large part of the right wing who are the racist xenophobes so i expect this one will quietly slip away and the wait goes on for the next one where they will be hoping for a better fit for their poisonous rhetoric.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Brexit Week 1: War With Spain

The EU discussion hasn't got off to the greatest start, first up on the agenda is Gibraltar, with Spain having a long-standing territorial claim on and which has been held by the UK since 1713 and has the status of a British overseas territory. 
A quick glance at a map shows that Gibraltar is located in Southern Spain and another quick look at a history book shows how a Dutch-British alliance invaded Gibraltar, booted out the residents and set up a barracks which they have maintained ever since.
A throw back to the days of Empire when the British sailed around the World taking over wherever they docked their boats, it is hard to make a case why a country 1,600 miles away has more of a claim than the country it historically belongs to and is at the southern tip of.
Theresa May and other Government officials have today assured the people of Gibraltar over their status and one overly-excited minister who had obviously eaten too many sweets this morning made a tub-thumping speech about the Falklands and how the British sent a task force half way across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country.
A spokesman said that Gibraltar would remain British due to the democratically expressed wishes of Gibraltrans which is very reminiscent of the recent vote in the Falklands where the 99% of British folk there were asked if they wanted to remain British or become Argentinian.
The Gibraltans can expect a similar exercise in their democratically elected wishes of whether they wish to remain British or become Spanish with similar laughably predictable  results.
Less than a week after Brexit was triggered and already the Government is discussing potential wars with our European neighbours.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Other Bad British Decisions

Brexit is being called the biggest mistake Britain has ever made but a quick glance through the history books show that when it comes to cock-ups, Britain has made more than it's fair share.
The most famous is the Charge of the Light Brigade where commanders sent the British Light Brigade down the wrong valley where Russian troops massed on the hills at the sides couldn't believe their luck and decimating half of the Brigade.
Then we had the Titanic which set sail on her maiden voyage across the North Atlantic with the decision that things such as safety regulations and adequate safety equipment such as life boats wasn't important due to it being unsinkable.
Thomas Farriner will be forever remembered for his decision to go to bed early and finish raking out his bakeries ovens in the morning therefore sparking the Great Fire of London and destroying 13,200 houses, 84 churches and left 100,000 people homeless.
The ultimate awful decision made by the Brits must be the decision made in 440 when Britain, then a defenceless island, paid the Anglo-Saxons to protect them from invasion from marauding tribes only for the Anglo-Saxons to arrive and realise just how defenceless the island was and invade it themselves.
All brilliant examples of how stupid the Brits can be at times and the decision to give the stamp of approval to the window shakingly bad decision by the majority of Brits to leave the EU just adds another chapter to a history of bad British decision making.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Triggering The Worst Decision In British History

The papers tomorrow all carry a picture of Theresa May signing easily the most important document in UK history for the last 40 years, a letter which will be hand-delivered to European council president at 12.30 tomorrow and signal the most bizarre and awful decision ever made by a British Prime Minister.
After thumbing her nose at 48% of the British population who voted to stay in the EU, Theresa May will make a call for all Brits to unite as she triggers article 50, beginning a two-year process that will see the UK leave the European Union.
Quite how Theresa May expects us all to unite behind her while her and her Government leads our country to ruin is a challenge, she can urge me to back this fiasco as much as she likes but i'm never going to and me, along with the rest of the 48%, will continue to point out the idiocy of this at any, and every, opportunity.
Two years is a long time and the hope is that Brexit could still be averted if May fails to hammer out a deal and then is defeated in a general election.
Legal experts have said the process is reversible, and Tony Blair seems to be on the case to do just that as Theresa May sets the sails of Great Britain into disarray because of the decision of a slim majority of the British Public, a decision based on ignorance, made for the wrong reasons and based on deceitful propaganda.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Government Looking At Henry VIII For Inspiration

Brexit will bring back lots of laws currently under the EU back to within British jurisdiction but when the Government are trying to pull regulations from the 16th Century to cover it you know they are not on the level.
The Henry VIII powers that would change EU laws as they are repatriated to Britain is named after the famous monarch who passed Royal Proclamations for whatever he fancied therefore bypassing Parliament and the Government are claiming the same applies to EU laws allowing them to altered or remove them without the need for full debates and votes by MPs.
The Government's argument is that it needs the power as a significant proportion of existing EU law will not work properly without changes being made and ministers must be given the ability to make these changes quickly so they do end up being tied up in the House of Commons as they will be coming back to us thick and fast.
When the Government is looking to use a 500 year old law from Tudor Times presented by someone as dictatorial as Henry VIII in order to rewrite today's laws that are introduced without proper discussion or scrutiny then you must wonder just what sort of a country will we be after March 2019.

Spending Our Tax Pounds

Anyone who pays tax directly through their wages will know the date April 6 is the start of the new tax year when we all get a shiny new tax code and an Annual Tax Summary which tells us how much tax we paid and what exactly it was spent on.
Due to recent publicity we know that for every £100 of tax we pay 0.70p (0.7%) of the tax we paid will go to Foreign Aid while £2.00 (2%) will go on defence.
Even if it was the other way around i would begrudge paying 70p for the military but we don't get a choice, the Government spends it on what it seems fit and it sees fit to spend tens of billions on equipment to kill people and destroy cities. 
As i am contributing towards the cost of maintaining the death and destruction, does that make me complicit in it as MP Ruth Cadbury states as she suggested a 'taxes for peace' bill which would allow taxpayers to refuse the tax they pay be used for others to kill on their behalf.
As the marches against the Iraq, Libyan, Syria and Afghanistan wars have shown, there are millions of British citizens who have made clear their opposition to war which is exactly why we won't ever be given that choice and why the Government will continue to be the ones who decide that £2 per £100 to kill against £0.70p per £100 to save life's is a fair cut of our tax pounds.

Minting Money

The new pound coin comes out tomorrow, all edgy and as anyone who was alive to hear the sound of a doddlebug will tell you, it looks exactly like the old threepenny piece.
According to the British Mint, there are approximatly 1,553 million £1 coins in circulation so i naively assumed that they will make 1,553 million of the new ones and phase them in as they phase the old round ones out but for some reason i am unable to fathom, they are unleashing 1.5 billion of the new ones.
Now i never said i was a mathematical genius or know anything about economics but if i am reading it right, they are taking out £1.5 million and putting back in £1.5 billion which seems a bit wrong to my mind.
If the government can just conjure up money out of nowhere and throw it into the financial system, why the decade long austerity cuts?
There can only be a certain amount of money available as that is how some people get rich by accumulating it and the only way of changing that would be to create more money out of thin air to spread amongst society.
There are more people in the UK now than there were 100 years ago and there seems to be more money too, so did the Government at some time just decide to physically make more of it and if they did, how did they decide it and why can't they just create even more money to make us all even wealthier?
When the Capitalist system goes all recessionary again, as it obviously will, and we need to bail out the banks with hundreds of billions of pounds again, why not just mint a couple of hundred billion of pound coins and use that instead?
There must be a reason why no one seems to have thought of it sooner but if we are just about to unleash over an extra billion pound into the system, someone must be benefiting from getting the extra money that wasn't there before tomorrow so why not us so we can end this awful Conservative Party led austerity drive?

Surveys For Cash

Students are traditionally without a pot to do their business in and over the years i have heard of some interesting ways that they raise the cash to fund their refuelling habits and a popular one that i have heard of recently is using their computers to fill out online surveys.
The same names of survey sites do seem to crop up, both the good and the bad, but before i pass on the info to other students who were after ways to fund the weekend binge drinking trip, i decided to sign up to as many as possible and try them out for myself so i was giving out the info from a position of experience.
Almost all the sites you had to earn a certain amount before they pay you, others pay out much quicker and some pay straight into your bank, via a PayPal account or with vouchers so i dismissed the voucher paying ones and concentrated on the Paypal and bank account ones because as far as i am aware, barmen won't accept a £10 Love2Shop vouchers for a round of drinks.
Another consideration was the sites that send the most surveys to complete and how much they paid per survey, how many times you were 'screened out' after you started as you didn't fulfil the criteria so after a couple of months these are the survey sites that i can honestly suggest the students sign up to.

1. Prolific. This is an academic survey site and the surveys are generally 5-10 minutes long and generally pay around £1 per survey and the surveys are on all different subjects and i received about 3-4 a week. You can cash out at £5 and it takes about 5 days to receive the funds into PayPal.

2. My Survey. Probably the site that send the most surveys and you get points for each survey and can cash out when you reach 1000 points. They sent a wide variety of survey subjects and most are worth 50-70 points and take about 15 mins each but 20 surveys is easily achievable each couple of weeks although i was screened out of about 25% after the initial 5 or 10 questions had been answered.  

3. Global Test Market. Run buy the same people who run MySurvey, a very similar site that run along the same points system and cash out comes at 1000 points. Many surveys each day, most 10-15 mins long with a wide variety of subjects and 50-70 points for each so again each fortnight you could be receiving at least £10 for your efforts. The screen outs are a little higher for this site, at least a third you will not get past the first few questions which can be annoying when you get a run of them.

Those are the main three and with minimum time and effort expended, you could expect to receive £30 each month for about 30 mins surveying if you signed up to all three.
There are others which i would recommend if you have the inclination or a bit more time to sit in front of your computer.

4. Opinion Outpost. Not so many surveys and you receive £2.50 for every 50 points with each survey ranging from 5-25 points and taking between 5-20 minutes each. A wide range of surveys and i was getting at least 2 per day to complete with a screen out rate of about 50% so not as reliable of an income as the three above which is why it is in the 'so-so' column. 

5. Survey Bods. You get the cash equivalent for the points at this site with a cashout at £15 but the surveys are very few and far between but each is worth about 75p when you do get them. Screen Outs are quite rare, about 10% i found, but with only 1 survey a week, the £15 cashout will take a few months to reach.  

6. One Poll. If you like your surveys quick and easy this is one you should sign to, each survey takes between 2 and 5 minutes but while each is worth between 10p-20p and the cashout is £40, you do get a lot of them, at least 5 per day. Like SurveyBods, this is one that you would do with an eye on harvesting the cash a few months down the line.     

7. PanelBase. This is near the bottom of the so-so column for a reason, many screen outs. Survey are mostly 10-20 minutes and you will get between 50p and 1.25 for each and can cash out at £10 but the screen out rate is high, as much as 60% so you will spend much time getting 5 or 10 questions in before being told you don't qualify so while you could get £10 a month, about two thirds of your time will be spent getting nowhere fast.

8. Mintvine. Love and hate this site, Love it because you get surveys galore and they can take between 2 and 20 minutes for between 5 and 100 points each but the screen out rate is ridiculously high, 80% is not an exaggeration and where the Hate enters the fold.
They do sometimes throw you a couple of points for screenouts but you could easily spend an hour either racking up points towards the 1000 you need to cash out or continually being told that you didn't qualify. If you can stand the frustration and you have the time to wade through the array of surveys they dish up, you could easily reach the £10 target each month but be prepared to waste
a lot of time being told you didn't qualify and to have a go at another one.  

My recommendation would be to definitely sign up for the top three and maybe a few of the second five and you can expect to see about £50 go into PayPal every month for about an hours work each evening which won't make you rich but should sustain you through a college year and those weekend mornings where you wake up in a neighbours front garden, cuddling a traffic bollard and wondering whose sick is on your shoes.