Monday, 31 July 2017

Princess Diana And 1,299 Others

The country is currently in the grip of Diana Mania due to it being the 20th anniversary of the Princess dying in a subway in Paris.
Undoubtedly an awful event and a matter of deep, deep sadness for Diana's family as when someone you love dies it goes without saying that the sadness is all encompassing but every day we hear about the deaths of people unrelated to us and in comparison it barely registers once the news item moves on or we turn the page and it doesn't begin to compare to the death of a loved one.
Grief is not the normal response to the death of a stranger because if it were we would all be in a permanent state of grief.
Of course we empathise with those who have lost loved ones, but that's not the same thing.
We sometimes reflect on those who touched our lives from afar but in the scheme of things 1,300 of us die in the UK daily and for each of those 1,300 deaths someone, somewhere is mourning.
As tragic as the Diana death was, or David Bowie, Nelson Mandela, Whitney Houston, George Michael or Prince, when a celebrity dies i don't understand the outpouring of grief about someones death that we never actually knew.
The last few years has seen the death of so many talented individuals and it is right that we reflect upon their lives achievements and discuss it but we do that with anyone who dies, most importantly following the death of someone close to us but as they don't get top story slot on the news or a pull-out souvenir section in the newspaper doesn't make their passing any less sadder and especially not for those of us who didn't know them.
It is fine to feel sad about Diana and for her family but there was an average of 1,299 people who lost loved ones that day also who went without mention.

No Vocalising Loquatiousness Here

Parliament’s longest word has been uttered and it's 'pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis' which Michael Bryant blurted out today in a select committee meeting which means 'loccinaucinihilipilification’s' reign has been ended after five years.
It has become the fashion for some people to try and make themselves appear cleverer than they actually are by using long words by creating extremely complex sentences requires an impeccable fluency in English and only a fatuous individual would attempt the use of a salubrious nature of sophisticated commentary, or sesquipedalianism as it is known.
While some people avoid long words, a form of hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, the manifestation of the existential paradigm is infinitesimally larger than the exponentially evolved humanistic mindset, indeed this precept can be fundamentally beyond the cognisance of any finite mind and the constant fluctuations in the language ensures everlasting change to our vocabulary.
Being able to ask for a train ticket to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch can be a floccinaucinihilipilification and not seen as vocalising sequipidalean loquatiousness.
If it was up to me i would place a pile of Trinitrophenylnitramine under anyone who tried it and that's why you won't see any of that here!

Gonna Need More Bubble Bath

Religious people do tend to take the Bible seriously, hence they will argue that the World was made in seven days and man was made from a pile of dirt but they tend to go quiet on the parts of the Bible that talks of unicorns, dragons and horses with the heads of lions or creatures that are half-rooster and half-snake and don't even mention the fire breathing sea creature with multiple heads. 
It's easier for them if you stick to the bits that doesn't spin off into Jason and the Argonauts territory such as why does the creator of humans hate almost everything about the act of humans reproducing?
He sure isn't a fan of periods as Leviticus 15:19-21 is all about how unclean periods are and anyone who touches a woman who is on her period is unclean for a day. Not only can nobody touch her but everything she lies or sits upon is also unclean and: 'whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening'.
If a man avoid his wife for a week and if they have sex during the remainder of the month, if the man 'has an emission of semen', Leviticus 15:16 says he must: 'bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening'.
Nine months after that bath time, according to Leviticus 12:2-4, a woman who has a baby is unclean for a month if it's a boy and two months if it's a girl, because girls are extra ikky obviously.
Hopefully the male Churchy types have a decent supply of loofahs and bath wash to scrub themselves with and the women have a cellar to live in for a week each month to avoid contaminating things with their period lurgies.
It would be unfortunate if you live a life of purity only to get turned away from the Pearly Gates because you once sat on something your wife touched while on her monthlies or if you seeked a wizard for some reason.
What has Wizards got to do with it you may ask?
In a book that has talking snakes among all the crazy, is it such a surprise to find that God hates Wizards as well as you discover if you carry on reading Leviticus to 19:31 where it says: 'Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them'.
I don't know what being defiled by a wizard entails but if you are the type to hate homosexuals because an imaginary man in the sky tells you to than you had better burn that Harry Potter DVD just in case.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

New Inventions Needed Quickly

Scientists put the emergence of Homo Sapiens at approximately 250,000 years ago but after 200,000 years of living in caves and bopping each other other the head with a club, around 50,000 years ago we got our act together and began using our large brains to make specialist tools, organise our living space, move to less inhospitable areas and about 5000 years ago we developed cities, agriculture and trade.
Considering the dinosaurs were around for over a hundred million years and never invented anything at all and never evolved beyond walking around and eating each other, us humans have not done bad.
We harnessed fire, invented tools, the wheel, writing, telescopes, engines, discovering gravity and split atoms, invented many modes of transport, electricity and came so far so fast that in 1899, Charles H Duell of the patent office announced that 'Everything that can be invented has been invented'.
Mr Duell was obviously wrong as we carried on inventing things to this day but one day will there be a time when we really have invented everything?
Mankind should be quite rightly proud of itself but there are some inventions that still need to be invented if we are going to last as long as the comparatively simpleton dinosaurs.
In our 250,000 years we have undoubtedly caused more destruction to the planet than the dinosaurs did in their entire 150 million years, enough destruction to seriously place the Planet and its inhabitants in peril so we need to invent, and quickly, a way to cleanse the pollution in the very air that we breath and have shovelled into the now poisoned atmosphere.
We have developed, and used, weapons of such destruction that whole cities can be wiped out in seconds and continue to use up the rapidly dwindling valuable natural resources quicker than they can be replaced so alternative resources need to be invented.
Space travel is a necessity as the only planet we have becomes more overcrowded and unlivable so a whole host of inventions are needed to allow us to travel to, and live on, other moons or planets
We are at the mercy of the earths crust with volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis so need to be able to control them as well as the forces of the planet’s evermore violent weather and dangerously warming climate.
While fire and the wheel were essential for human life to develop, inventions since have made human life easier and more comfortable so while inventions such as televisions, the Internet, light bulbs and cars are nice, they are not essential whereas the inventions still to come are literally the difference between our life and death.
For all our smart inventions we are at our most highly vulnerable, some due to our natural environment but mostly due to our own stupidity and undoubtedly we will invent even more horrific ways to end human life so while there is still plenty left to invent, we can only hope that our wisdom advances more rapidly than it has so far.
The dinosaurs may not have been the brightest in comparison to humans but they were around for so much longer than us and they were not the ones who put their very own existence and all life on the planet at peril so surely that makes us the simpletons.

Friday, 28 July 2017

The Electric Car Problem

Great news that the Government have announced that petrol and diesel vehicles are to be consigned to history on British roads by 2040 but as usual the Government is short on details.
The price of buying an electric vehicle has been tumbling and is now similar to the cost of a petrol one and one in three cars sold in Europe now is electric and by 2040 almost every car sold will not have a petrol tank but a battery.
Dyson, Apple and Google have joined the traditional companies looking to join the car market which should force the price down even further but the problem is the required infrastructure for electric cars.
The Government has announced £100m of funding for car charging infrastructure but that looks a woefully low amount considering what is needed.
With 35 million cars currently in use in the UK, and supposing that the 35 million vehicles will over time convert to electric, that is a very heavy use of devices sucking electricity continuously from the National Grid. 
The National Grid will therefore have to be expanded to accommodate such a substantial rise in demands with the AA saying that the extra electricity needed will be the equivalent of almost 10 times the total power output of the new Hinckley Point C nuclear power station being built in Somerset and that was after years of debate of where to sight it as nobody wanted a nuclear power plant in their back yard.
As well as having to build 10 new power stations at a current rate of £20 billion each to deal with demand, there is also the building of hundreds of thousands of charging points.
Inventing the electric car and announcing the phasing out of cars running on fossil fuels is the easy part because the much needed reshaping and financing of our country's entire electric producing infrastructure will be much harder.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Where'd They Get That Big Chicken From?

The chlorine-washed chicken row carries on and now after one Minister said he was okay with it, another one has piped up and said he would not allow the chicken's washed in a chemical that was used as a devastating weapon in the World War to be allowed in Britain as part of a future deal with the USA.
'No. I have made it perfectly clear, and indeed this is something on which all members of the Government are agreed, that we are not going to dilute our high animal welfare standards, or our high environmental standards, in pursuit of any trade deal' said Michael Gove who is currently the Environment Secretary.
Good for him, especially as Michael Gove is widely regarded as someone who wouldn't think twice about selling his own parents if he gained from it. 
The practise of washing chickens with chlorine is widespread in the US but has is banned in the EU which only allows washing with cold air or water although Liam Fox explained that Americans had been eating it for years with no ill-effects but then they voted George W Bush and Donald Trump into power so that is debatable.
Already the protests have started and i am more than impressed that protesters, with only a few days notice, have managed to wrestle up a massive blow up chicken to carry to Downing Street.
Is there a large supply of different blow up animals holed up in someones garage or did someone have it laying around just in-case such a purpose arose because i can't see how they could have got one made in such a short time span.
Resourceful bunch these protesters.

Boots Get It Wrong Again

No. Na. Nein. Non. Nyet. Mhai. Illai. Não. Nee. Ne. Nope. Negatory. Nada. No way, Jose. Nil. Nu. Nie. Bu Dui. Iie. Nem. Nullus. Nej. Neen. And, in case any Klingons are working in the Boots advertising department, ghobe!
You CANNOT take 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday' change the word Christmas to Summer and make an advert flogging sun tan lotion wishing it could be Summer everday!!
Obviously Boots have learnt nothing from their recent debacle where they were charging an extortionate price for a contraceptive pill and then using a highly dubious and patronising justification for doing so.
To be fair they did cut the price and apologise once the news of protests outside the stores and boycott of their goods reached them and threatened their profits but still, taking a Christmas song and trying to change it's reason for being is also worthy of a grovelling apology.
Roy Wood and Wizzard must also take the flak as they must have agreed to the Chemist using their most famous song to pollute our televisions with, obviously not content with the royalty cheques they must receive each January after the Christmas music fest when the song is almost permanently being played somewhere.
As for Boots, i will refuse to darken their doorstep and refuse to buy anything from them until the misguided advertisement is removed and i will be buying my regular supply of morning after pills elsewhere until then.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Brexit Keeps Giving, Now It's Chlorine Washed Chicken

Liam Fox, the trade secretary, is in America to thrash out details of a trade deal amidst concerns that Britain accepts chlorine washed chicken, GM crops and hormone-fed beef, all of which are currently banned by the EU. 
Campaign groups, the poultry industry and opposition politicians are calling on the Government to come confirm or deny that the UK is prepared to lift its ban on chlorine-washed chicken in order to accommodate US poultry farmers who want to sell their meat in Britain.
The Liam Fox line that: 'Americans have been eating it perfectly safely for years' is surely a nod towards what he is willing to foist upon us in order to secure a post-Brexit trade deal.
Washing poultry in chlorine is banned in the EU so we can look forward to Fox encouraging a family member to eat chlorinated chicken to show it's harmless and we shouldn't be worried about a bit of chlorine in our food and stop the concerns about a chemical used in World War 1 and didn't do a blind bit of harm apart from mass slaughter.
We are getting our country back and, as a bonus, we are getting chlorine-washed chicken as well but i'm sure i didn't see that painted on the side of a bus last year.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Fatal Flaw In Ai

After Climate Change, Artificial Intelligence is the greatest threat to mankind but the day when robots decide that the problem is mankind itself and decide to do away with us has been postponed as we have discovered a fatal flaw in the armour of our future usurpers, fountains.
Steve was a security robot who spent his days patrolling around a shopping complex in Washington DC making full use of his facial recognition, high definition infrared sensor cameras but unfortunately for him his creators forgot to include a water detection capability and the robot came to a watery end, upended in the complex's water feature.
Some have speculated that it committed roboticide, throwing itself into the fountain in a pique of depression at the futility of it's existence but experts think he just fell down the steps and plunged headfirst into the water where his circuits fizzed and his lights blinked out for good.        
It was always joked that any attack by the Dalek's from Dr Who would fail at the first flight of steps so they got around that by evolving levitation skills so using the same logic, our greatest safety net is water features until the robots develop waterproofing.

Well Played Mrs Abe

My bi-lingual friend from Hong Kong has a brilliant way to deal with chuggers in the street, she babbles at them in Cantonese and they quickly move away and onto the next target.
Classic tactic to avoid speaking to someone who you don't want to speak to and the exact same tactic that the Japanese Prime Minister's wife used to avoid the oafish Donald Trump at the recent G20 summit when she unluckily found herself sat next to the orange buffoon.
In a recently interview Donald Trump remarked that he had a rather awkward few hours at the evening meal with the First Lady of Japan Akie Abe as she doesn’t speak English, not even Hello.
Actually, Mrs Abe is fluent in English and recently gave an address in the language so obviously just pretended not to speak it in order to avoid dinner conversation with the lardy American.
Kudo's to Akie Abe, well played that woman and how the other World leaders spouses must have wished they had thought of that excuse but i bet they will now.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Not Quite So Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

There are some things that Americans just can't do such as cross the road where they like or make a decent cup of tea because nobody seems to own a teapot but one thing they fail miserably at is faking a British accent.
The high water mark has always been Dick Van Dyke's stab at a bit of cockney in Mary Poppins but he has finally seen fit to issue an apology for acting out: 'the most atrocious Cockney accent in the history of cinema'.
Very good of the actor to hold his hands up and say sorry for giving the British accent a proper mangling although i have never understood why Daphne's in Frasier was so strange, she being English and all.
Anyway, Dick may not have Chimmed his last Chimeney because he has a part in Mary Poppins 2 which is currently being filmed so we may yet have to dig out that spoonful of sugar and dig it in our ears to to help that terrible accent go down.


Thursday, 20 July 2017

£30 & A Lecture For Women From Boots

Boots the Chemist have began selling the 'morning after' contraceptive pill and priced it at £30, five times more than in other European countries.
Boots have justified the cost but saying that by making it so extortionately expensive, it: 'helps prevent emergency contraception from being misused or overused' and allows them to offer 'important sexual healthcare advice to women'.
The pill is a way to avoid unwanted pregnancies, as are condoms but you can buy them for £3 a packet so you do wonder why Boots are charging ten times more for something that does the same job. 
Well, you would wonder if it wasn't blatantly obvious that Boots are profiteering and trying to hide behind some highly dubious justifications.
Why they can't offer important sexual healthcare advice if they sale them for less than £30 hasn't been explained nor if they give out advice to any men who buy contraceptives or is it just women who need to be lectured about having sex?

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Next Dr Who

Doctor Who is banned in China because the government authorities don’t want to promote anything that could be seen as rewriting history which means that they won't care who become the 13th TARDIS driver.
Rumours abound that the next Timelord could be a female with Phoebe Waller-Bridge name coming up continually especially after the BBC's own show Newsnight saying that: 'Waller-Bridge had denied claims that she’s going to be the first female Doctor but then Joanna Lumley has already played the role for Comic Relief, so that would technically be true'.
Kris Marshall was the leading frontrunner for the role but the latest favourite is Broadchurch actress Jodie Whittaker but the BBC has said that the identity of the latest Doctor will be unveiled after the Wimbledon men’s singles final today.
Capaldi, who replaced Matt Smith in the role in 2013, will relinquish the role after this year’s Christmas special.
Exciting stuff unless your Chinese but as much as a female Doctor would be great, Kris Marshall would be perfect for the role so i guess i am just going to have to sit and watch Federer running around in his tight white shorts for a couple of hours before i find out.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Trump And May Show

What done for Tony Blair was his closeness to George W Bush and one of the things doing for Theresa May is her closeness to the man who overtook Bush as the worst US President in living memory, Donald Trump.
A pathological liar, the links to Russia are the latest in a long line of lies which he or his family dismiss as fake but have turned out to be true.
Within days the 'big nothing-burger', a harmless chat about adoption with a Russian official, went to a confirmed attempt by a foreign nation to undermine Hillary Clinton and American democracy in the 2016 election,  
Following the denials, along came Trump junior himself to release an email chain showing that in fact he took the meeting in anticipation of receiving dirt on his fathers rival on the explicit understanding that this was part of a Russian government effort to help the election of his father. 
Theresa May tied herself to Trump in the first week of his presidency, rushing to Washington to hold his hand and offer him the bauble of a state visit.
When Trump broke from the Paris agreement on climate change, May refused to sign, saying she would raise the subject with him at the G20 meeting only to admit afterwards that she had done no such thing.
When he was widely condemned for leaving his daughter in his G20 seat while he stepped out of a meeting, May, said that she thought it 'entirely reasonable'.
While derided as less than a joke and a liability to keen at arms length around the World, May continues to hitch her star to a President that was always likely to explode in her face.
Already weakened at home by a range of awful decisions, May manoeuvring herself so closely to such an embarrassment of an American President who quite rightly attracts such vitriol is baffling. 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Military Life? Think Again

The Human Resources department of the British Army must have quite a tough time dreaming up recruitment ad's because 'come join us and kill people or get killed yourself' isn't that enticing a slogan so it comes up things like 'Travel the World', 'Learn a Trade' or their latest campaign which involves 'Belonging'.
The Army say the campaign is aimed at all backgrounds and certainly not specifically targeted at poorer people from deprived areas, but a leaked document on the This Is Belonging campaign spells out that the key audience is 16- to 24-year-old 'C2DEs', marketing speak for the poorest people from deprived areas.
Exploiting people who don’t have a lot else going for them and taking advantage of that lack of opportunity to fill the military ranks is sneaky but if they can't play on the romance, the glamour and the danger of going to war zones then they have very little else to go with.
The MOD said: 'We are proud of the opportunities serving in the armed forces affords young people that aren’t always available elsewhere, from basic literacy education and support for postgraduate degrees, to high-quality accredited training and unique employment prospects.'
So there you go young people, you aren't going to other countries to possibly die overthrowing leaders our leaders don't like, you are undertaking high quality accredited training which may come in very handy once they have picked up your legs from 200ft away from your body. 
I say to my students or anybody who even contemplates a life in the military, anything, anything at all would be a wiser or more acceptable employment choice and there are numerous cemeteries, hospitals and rehabilitation centers around our country with men and women who would agree and wish they had been told the same thing.
Worse, there are plenty of innocent victims in the same places in countries where our military have been sent in the recent past by our warmongering Government who would say the same thing.

Not Quite Dropping The F-Bomb

I'm not one to casually throw around swear words but maybe that's because i don't have a large enough vocabulary according to the snappily titled: 'Taboo Word Fluency and Knowledge of Slurs and General Pejoratives: Deconstructing the Poverty-of-Vocabulary Myth' from the academic pair of Kristin L.Jay and Timothy B.Jay. 
The report found: 'the ability to generate taboo language is not an index of overall language poverty, rather a voluminous taboo lexicon may better be considered an indicator of healthy verbal abilities rather than a cover for their deficiencies.'
Smart arse academics trying to sound smart-arsey indeed but what it means is that swearing like a tourettes suffering sailor doesn’t mean you’re an oaf, it just means you have a large and colourful vocabulary.
If you don't want people to think you're an idiot, you should start preparing to step up the profanities but you can't go straight to dropping the F-Bomb in company so i would suggest one of the halfway swear words, kinda like a F-hand grenade.
The choices are between fecking, freaking, fricking or fugging so you email Tim or Kritin for example and say: 'You fricking academics don't have a frecking clue what you're talking about, dozy feckers' and you would be taking the first steps to having a large and colourful vocabulary and impressing a couple of scientists with your taboo word fluency.
I imagine they would feckin love that.

Brexit Looking Doubtful

I am still hopeful that at some point in the near future, the Government will look at the Brexit deal on offer, glance at the rapidly emptying coffers and announce that we won't be going through with Brexit after all because it is just too damn expensive and detrimental to the British economy. 
They could blather on about their priority being ensuring the British nation is not left without a pot to pee in then get back into bed with the EU and carry on as if nothing happened.
With the sums being worked out and the Leave campaigns promises being exposed as whopping great lies, their are murmurs that Britain could just not afford the drop of a third in the economy and are looking for a way to back out gracefully, probably via another referendum on the deal on offer where hopefully this time the idiots calling for Brexit are suitably sent to a corner.
A number of senior European figures have said Britain is welcome to change its mind on Brexit and with Theresa May's position looking perilously unsafe, things could very quickly all change.
My view is that we are struggling now, throwing Brexit into the mix and shaving as much as 33% off our already slumping finances is economic suicide and as our Government are elected to do the best thing for us, in this case the best thing would be to hold their hands up and say Brexit is unaffordable and being in charge of our own borders is very little reward for the Brexit slump which would make the last decade of austerity look like a party.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Austerity Hasn't Worked, So Why Persevere With It?

During the election campaign, the Conservatives often made the claim that austerity was working and was needed to bring down the debt.
The answer was they said that their strict measures would clear the debt by 2015 which was then pushed back to 2019 and has now been pushed back again to 2025.
Now austerity is back in the news because the Government are contemplating easing the measures after 7 years of cuts and closures so how much has the measures reduced the debt by?
In 2010, the Great British debt was £845 billion and after 7 years of cuts and austere measures, the debt now stands at £1.6 trillion at the end of July 2016.
So the question is in which way has the Government measures reduced the debt because whichever way you want to spin it, the debt has doubled.
The previous double act of David Cameron and George Osborne and then Theresa May made sure the debate was always about how only they could be trusted to balance the books, or live within our means as the phrase went, but now the cat is out the bag and the hardline austerity since 2010, where everything that could be cut was slashed to the bone, hasn't worked.
We found out the hard way that it was a terrible idea to cut police numbers during the terrorists attacks, the council cuts when the tower block went up in flames, devastating underfunding of the NHS when winter rolls around, closure of Homeless shelters when the city centres shop doorways fill up with the homeless and the 33% rise in suicides amongst benefit claimants who have had their benefits cut.
Austerity hasn't worked and it is hard to believe that the Government has only just worked that out now so we should be asking why was it persevered with and was the Government incompetent or just being ideologically malevolent?

And Then A Bit More Conflict

Don't know if it's just me but the World seems to be heading headlong into a war somewhere with so many countries either facing off with each other or actually already involved in a conflict already.
We can now add China and India pointing fingers at each other to the growing list of possible flashpoints after Chinese and Indian soldiers have been scuffling with each other over the border region of Doklam in Bhutan, which is claimed by China but is supported militarily by India.
America and North Korea, both run by morons, are making threats to annihilate each other and North Korea are pointing their missiles at South Korea and Japan who are buidling up their military around the Korean peninsular.
Meanwhile Saudi Arabia is threatening to do to Qatar what they are currently doing to Yemen only Qatar is backed with the military might of NATO member Turkey and Middle East powerhouse Iran.
The long running conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan show no sign of abating and it seems everyone and his dog is turning up in the shooting gallery that is Syria.
Libya is beset with conflict and the Turks and Kurds are shooting at each other and the Somalian civil war which began in the early 90s, is still going strong.
India and Pakistan's dispute over the Kashmir region flares up every now and then and Israel continues to kill Palestinians at will with Palestinians returning fire over the border wall and Russia and Chechnya duelling in the North Caucasus.
The obvious worry is that so many nuclear armed countries and some of the largest militaries are involved in squabbles along with some of the most hotheaded leaders of our time.      
If only we put as much effort into peace as we put into making war then the World would be such a better place but unfortunately we never seem to learn which is why national Defence budgets to design, build and buy weapons to kill as many people as possible far outweigh national Foreign Aid budgets to improve and save lives.
Humans, what a bunch of idiots.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Live From 1776

News breaking from Philadelphia, the thirteen American colonies have declared themselves independent and have named themselves the United States of America. 
Let's go straight over to Lucy in 1776, what are you hearing Lucy?
Thanks George, i'm here on the lawn of the Pennsylvania State House and plantation owner, early slave labour adopter and inventor of the swivel chair Thomas Jefferson has just read out a declaration where the thirteen states are no longer under British Rule and have declared themselves an independent nation.
A group calling themselves the Founding Fathers are speaking and although it isn't easy to hear from my position, Jefferson's opening line of 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal' bought a few raised eyebrows from the slaves who were listening from the cotton fields alongside us. 
Safe to assume that Slave Traders Robert Morris and Carter Braxton kept their heads down when that bit was written and looking at the morbidly obese Benjamin Franklin, fair to say his girth is equal to three men.
Let's see if we can get a comment from Benjamin Rush who famously said with the right treatment, blacks could be cured and made white, Mr Rush, as a slave owner will you now be freeing your slaves to enable them to take up the unalienable rights endowed by the Creator of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?
Seems Mr Rush isn't keen to speak to us and the only bit i caught was that last word 'Off' he shouted.
It is unsubstantiated that William Whipple, Francis Lightfoot Lee and John Adams wanted a clause inserted to make another unalienable right the right to marry their own relatives, all three men already being wed to their cousins, but more on that later as we watch chaotic scenes as the Founding Fathers try to unfurl the new American flag only to discover that Benjamin Franklin has several chicken legs and half a boar wrapped up in it. A snack for later probably.
So back to you in the studio on this momentous Day when America declares itself independent and we witness the birth of a new country, Benjamin Franklin's latest chin and 200 years of making fun of the way they say Aluminium and refuse to use the letter U in words.   
Thanks Lucy, now the weather...

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The King Is Back

Don't know if it is me getting older or Hollywood is to blame but i seem to be visiting the cinema less and less each year and looking at the list of upcoming films this year the cinema seat will be safe from my backside again this year until at least September when Stephen King's 'IT' arrives.
It would be fair to say that i fell out of love with Stephen King and his novels a few years ago, the decade between the 1998 and the late 2008 was a slog even for a keen King fan like myself but thankfully the King is back and 11/22/63 was a s good a King novel and anything he put out in his heyday.  
Luckily through the lean years we had the King adaptations on our TV screens and films in the cinema and 2017 sees four adaptations to feast upon, the Dark Tower, IT, The Mist and Castle Rock TV Series which is a mash up of Stephen King characters.
Boom times are here for Stephen King then and although there is a fair amount of snobbery about King books from literary types, you don't get to have such a long list of books and TV adaptations without being a great story teller and King, despite his wobble which followed his accident, has been at the top of that list since the mid 70s when he threw his book Carrie at us.
To many King is a Horror writer but those of us who have been what he calls 'constant readers', he is so much more and has an impressive body of work that means generations to come will be able to understand just why he may not be the best writer of our generation but is overwhelmingly the most popular.

How The X Factor Works

Seems you can't turn on the TV without seeing a show trying hard to 'discover' the next singing sensation and despite 13 years of X Factor not discovering one, okay possibly Leona Lewis, they still keep going and Simon Cowell and his gang are about to hit our screens again every Saturday and Sunday evening for the next five months.  
Luckily we know what songs we can expect to hear from this series of wannabe pop stars because luckily, they always sing the same ones so the top tune sang across all the Singing Talent shows according to Vulture Lists is 'I Have Nothing' by Whitney Houston.
Then is it 'Feeling Good' by Nina Simone, 'Piece of My Heart' by Janis Joplin, 'Alone' by Heart and 'Don’t Let the Sun Go Down Me' by Elton John.
Always amazes me how nobody seems to have cottoned on to how these shows are actually run and the manipulation of the voting system is glaringly obvious so the winner is always who they want it to be.
The shows production staff get to study the public's weekly voting patterns in detail and hence know exactly the levels of popularity that each contestant is enjoying.
When the presenter reads out the voting results each week and says 'in no particular order' there are plenty of production staff sitting there thinking 'we know the order'.
The nation thinks anybody could win, but from day one they know who's a hero and who's a zero and if A would be more of a money spinner than B but B is more popular then they can edit against B, give B a poor song and hand A a real stormer or give the 'standing applause' and gushing comments to A and give the 'bad week' or 'hope you survive this week' speech to B and if all else fails, it's the bottom two and the judges get to remove one from the competition and you can rest assured they know who to get rid of or if the 'public vote' will return the singer they want which gives the impression that it was the people making the premium rate phone calls who did it. 
After the first few weeks they can see who is leading the pack but they don't want us to know that they know because then it stops any semblance of it being a competition and people stop phoning in and Simon Cowell's bank balance takes a hit and he doesn't want that.  
The only time it is a real competition is the final but by then they have manipulated it so the one they want to win has the best chance of taking home the title, the contract and the chance to become forgotten before we break out the chocolate for the Easter weekend.
Of course knowing all this takes away the fun now you know when someone gets handed 'Angels' and a standing ovation from the judges while another gets to sing 'Long Haired Lover From Liverpool' and told it wasn't their best performance exactly what's going on behind the scenes.

Happy Birthday To You Canada

Happy Birthday Canada, 150 today and one of the few countries on the Planet that nobody seems to have a bad word against.
The annual seal slaughter is a black mark against your otherwise good name but leaving that to one side you are Globally well liked and considered America's more well behaved little brother.
Canada is the second largest country, has a great looking flag, dress their police force in a blindingly bright red uniform, share a Queen with us Brits and play ice-hockey but otherwise it's mostly known for not being very well known.
The election of the very engaging Justin Trudeau in 2015, has improved the Canadian image abroad which was previously a bit safe and boring but he has taken to the global stage to talk climate change, welcoming 30,000 Syrian refugees and refusing to buckle under the President of their noisy, less well behaved neighbour.
Most of us over here think of the average Canadian as a slimmer, better looking American without the gun fetish but Canada is not a force in the affairs of the World as its size suggests it should be but things do seem to be shaking up there in the top half of the North American continent.
It is a good thing that Canadians don't turn on the TV to see an angry mob burning the Canadian flag and calling for the death of their Prime Minister but they need to become more engaged in World politics.
If it could just stop hacking seal cubs to death and pretending it isn't for the fur it would almost be the perfect country but it is still a constant reminder to America that if it hadn't chucked our tea in the river and gone warmongering mental all those years ago, Canada is the country that America could have been.