Sunday, 30 August 2015

Chilcot

Sir John Chilcot has been coming under fire over the delay to publishing the findings of his inquiry into the Iraq war which seems a bit harsh on him because he finished his part a long time ago, its the others that are holding it up.
In a good old piece of Britishness, as the report is expected to heavily criticise a number of politicians, including former prime minister Tony Blair, Chilcott has given the people who are to be criticised in the inquiry the right to reply before it is published but the pre-warned are also pre-armed and it is them who are holding things up by taking their sweet time to get back to him.
As the clamour grows for an early release, Chilcot has made a pointed reference to the government’s obligation to provide 'all relevant documents' to the inquiry and 'documents which had not been submitted to the inquiry and which have in some cases opened up new issues'.
The Cabinet Office have declined to explain why government departments did not give all the relevant documents to the inquiry in the first place nor whether the inquiry has now received all the documents it has requested. 
It has also refused any release of the documents into the public domain on the grounds they will eventually be released alongside the inquiry’s final report.
As i said, seems a bit harsh to criticise John Chilcott if the Government are at best dragging their feet
providing him with the information or at worst deliberately withholding documents that may reflect badly on them and those about to be criticised considering it in their best interests to delay the report as long as possible and get all their ducks in a line for when the report is finally published.
I think it is a good thing that Sir John is not being pressured into publishing and that he is holding out for all the documents, just wish he would be a bit more vocal on exactly who is holding it up and making a statement that the Government may be withholding documents from him is a good start of where we should be pointing the finger.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Photographing The Moon

The Moon is on the move. It’s now around 18 times further away from us than when it was formed 4.5 billion years ago.
Without the Moon, the seas would have barely any tides, days will get longer, the Earth will wobble on its axis but most importantly i won't ever get the perfect Moon picture that i have spent months trying to snap on my Lumia phone. 
I seem to have become obsessed ever since i saw a Sky at Night show where the presenter took an amazing photograph of our closest neighbour with his smartphone camera and a pair of binoculars and have been trying to replicate it ever since.
At some point, most cloudless nights i have been fiddling about with the ISO and shutter speed settings on my phones camera to that as explained by the presenter and frustratingly trying to line up the camera on the mobile with the eyepiece on the binoculars.
Above is my best effort through binoculars but the next clear night i am going to break out the telescope and see if i can do better but those 4mm the Moon is stretching away from us every year could be making all the difference.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Last Weekend Of Summer

This is the last weekend of summer and to celebrate the end of the season, we get the last day off which softens the blow a bit that come Tuesday, it's September and we all go back to work.
It's goodbye to suntanned bodies and ice cream on the pier and hello to the long slog to the Christmas holidays and i'm fine with that as from mid-November to the end of December really is the best time of the year. 
No more dodging wasps, slapping on sun cream to leave the house, trying unsuccessfully to drop off to sleep on hot, sultry nights and third degree burns off the car interior.
It's almost time to put the t-shirts back in the wardrobe and dig out the jumpers and heavy coats
so this is the last weekend to fire up the barbecue and wear the flip-flops because as the Beach Boys lamented, Summer time is through and i can't say i'll miss it.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Female Only Carriage Idea

Typically just days after saying i agree with most things that Jeremy Corbyn says, he says something i disagree with, support fort all female carriages on public transport. 
On the face of it, the idea that lone female travellers can be made to feel safer by offering them a space of their own sounds a decent one but it does smell of prevention and not cure.
By providing female only carriages, the onus is put squarely on women to prevent the harassment they experience rather than treat the problem of men harassing women.
It is a relation to the depressing idea that women wearing a short skirt or drinking alcohol on a night out are somehow 'asking for it' and so any woman boarding a mixed-gender train carriage would end up being considered culpable if she is then assaulted.
The message seems to be aimed at women as 'don’t put yourself in a position to be assaulted', instead 'don't assault' where it should be aimed, at the men who do the assaulting.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Arresting Netanyahu

A petition calling on the UK government to arrest Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu for war crimes in Gaza when he arrives in London has garnered more than 80,000 signatures. But David Cameron’s government says they can't because Netanyahu has diplomatic immunity.   
The petition, posted on the UK government’s website, has already been signed by over 86,000 Brits and when it reaches 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament but the Government has stepped in already with a statement that reads: 'Under UK and international law, visiting heads of foreign governments, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained'.
Although the Government won't do anything, i am sure that Mr Netanyahu will receive a warm and generous welcome from the British people, something along the lines of what George W Bush got when he last came here or Tony Blair receives whenever he steps out in public.
The petition is here.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Jeremy Corbyn Dilemma

It is a usually good thing that people have different thoughts on things although obviously if everyone shared my thoughts and ideals the World would be a much nicer place but unfortunately some people disagree with me so we have the train wreck of a right wing Government vandalising the country.
The Labour Party is set to declare its new leader and the very left-wing Jeremy Corbyn is placed to
pick up the mantle left by Ed Miliband and plonk his backside on the bench opposite David Cameron as the leader of the opposition. 
This does give me and people like me a predicament because i agree pretty much with everything Jeremy Corbyn stands for but i can't see him bringing across the voters who deserted the Labour Party at the last election.
With the SNP accounting for almost 50 former Labour seats in Scotland, Labour are going to have their work cut out to attract voters who went for UKIP or the Tories last time and Corbyn is too far from the centre to reel them in.
The predicament then is whether to vote for another candidate for the good and electionability of the Labour Party or vote for the one who most closely represents our views.
We can vote for Corbyn and stay true to our own values but see the Conservatives celebrating again in five years or go for Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper who tick less boxes on our values list but have a better chance of removing Cameron from number 10.
It should be a tough choice but the bottom line is we want to remove the Tories and we should vote for the one who give us the best chance of doing that and i'm afraid that isn't Corbyn so it's a case of wrinkling your nose while keeping your fingers crossed for a Yvette Cooper victory.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Less Perseid Meteors These Days?

This year was perfect meteor watching time with no moon polluting the sky so all that was required was to tilt the deckchair towards the W in the sky (Cassiopeia) and hope the clouds played nicely.    
Of the three premium nights, one had a thunderstorm of biblical proportions and one was just too cloudy to see anything but the main night of the 13th/14th August was crystal clear and we sat around until silly o'clock drinking hot chocolate and ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the shooting stars.
Maybe it is like most things as you get older, but i am sure that when i stood in a dark field decades ago there were more meteors streaming across the sky then there have been in recent years. 
Where it would be the promised two or three meteors a minutes we witnessed, there does seem to be longer gaps between the flashes in the sky these last few years.       
We were in the darkest place in England on the main night so it can't be blamed on increased light pollution as it was impossibly dark and the milky way was easily visible above our heads but something seems to have changed.
As the Swift-Tuttle comet has been making visits through our planets orbit for millenniums it could be that the remnant stream is drying up as the comet shrinks slightly every 130 years when it comes back to fly past the Sun or possibly the comets angle has changed slightly by interaction with Jupiter or some other planet and we are not quite in the stream anymore.
It could just be that it is exactly the same as previous years and it is my memory that has gone wonky and not the comet at all.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Wasps

Modern Man has been decorating the planet for just over 4000 years and in that time we have developed computers, space flight and television.
Wasps on the other hand have been around since the Jurassic period, 200 million years, and to my knowledge they have not invented anything so it is a fairly safe assumption that if they were going to chip in with any thing at all, they would have done it by now.
I can think of no other use for wasps who seem to exist just to bother us humans whenever we step outside the front door and as far as i can tell we could wipe them all out with no damage to the eco-system apart from a few less eaten nymphs on leaves.
As i seem to have spent the best part of this summer shrieking and flapping my arms around like a demented windmill, i would like to put forward a movement to the European Union, United Nations, NATO or who whoever controls these things that wasps should be eradicated from the face of the planet.
I propose leaving a few thousand opened cans of Dr Pepper on an uninhabitated Island and then firebombing it therefore ensuring that picnickers will no longer be troubled by the spiteful little buggers.
Of course, if they are about to announce a new mode of transport fuelled by cold fusion or a time machine we should reconsider but if not, break out the Dr Pepper.  

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Bands Made In Heaven And Hell

So there was God and i sitting on his cloud and pondering what to get Jesus for his birthday. The little nipper has got everything he could ever want when suddenly the big guy hits upon the idea of bringing together the finest dead musicians in heaven for a Happy Birthday Jesus concert.
God being a bit on the lazy side (he doesn't do Sunday's), delegated it to me to set off and track down the best dead musicians for a five piece band.
I don't know many dead drummers, apart from The Who's Keith Moon and Led Zeppelin's John Bonham so i was about to plump for one of them until i remember the great drumming on 'Wipe Out' by the Safari's. Luckily for us although not so much for him, Ron Wilson died of a brain aneurysm in the 80s so i hand him the sticks and plonk him down behind the drum kit.
The bass player was a choice of another dead 'The Who' musician, John Entwistle or Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy. Lynott it is then.
Rhythm guitar was handed to Joe Strummer and lead to Jimi Hendrix with a warning to not do any of that weird feedback crap or he is out. And put that joint out hippy.
Frontman is a toughie. The ultimate in cool Kurt Cobain or the ultimate showman Freddie Mercury. Freddie gets the nod.
So my final line up for the best band made up of famous dead musical types is:
Ron Wilson (Drums), Phil Lynott (Bass), Joe Strummer (Rhythm Guitar), Jimi Hendirx (lead Guitar) and Freddie Mercury (Vocals).
First up on the playlist, "Sympathy for the Devil", that should go down a storm up here.
When he heard about the gig old Beelzebub himself sidled up to me and said: "You know that scene at the very beginning of Nightmare Before Christmas, the one where Pumpkin Jack comes back to his Halloween World after a successful nights Halloweening and they have a concert". I replied that i was aware of it.
"That's what we need here" he stated, leaning forward from his fiery throne and handing me an order to round up the best musicians presently residing in Hell for a Halloween Night Concert.
Never one to turn down a man armed with a pitchfork and horns, i set about getting together the best band from not so nice dead musicians.
Bass guitar was easy, girlfriend murderer Sid Vicious. Luckily he was on his way to Michael Jackson's house and Jackson was more than happy to join the band as lead singer.
Finding a drummer was proving difficult, especially as hammer wielding mother killer Jim Gordon was still alive but there was only one man to hand the lead guitar to, Lead Belly. Never a man to talk to his relatives when he could shove a knife in them instead.
Still leaves me struggling to find a drummer so i guess i will have to fit a drum machine until a notorious drummer turns up down there.
First song up, Knocking on Heavens Door. Old Nick will love that. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

You're Fired

It's never easy sacking anyone but sometimes there is just too many people and not enough money to go around so the only option is to let someone go.
As we know, the global economy has run out of money so there are just too many countries and not enough money but which country should we wag the 'you're fired' finger at?
Maybe we can discuss it over a cup of tea (Chinese invention) coffee (Ethiopian invention) or a coke (American invention). Beer (Syria) and wine (Georgia) will also be made available.
If every country can send a representative and put forward a case as to what they have given that has benefited mankind, we can get rid of the one that has offered the least.
Those that can't get here by bicycle (German), car (German), plane (American) boat (Egyptian) train (British) or hot air balloon (French) can possibly link up via the computer (British) or telephone (British).
As we are waiting, maybe we can listen to a CD (Dutch/Japanese), read a book (China), listen to the radio (Serbian/American) watch a film (French), play a video game (American) or watch some TV (British) although i will have to get some batteries (Italian) for the remote control (American).
I have printed (China) the criteria onto paper (China) so we can sift through the evidence of who has not been pulling their weight when it comes to making our time here more bearable.
I would like to do it democratically (Greek) but i think out of the major G20 countries, there are two countries that stand out as not really having contributed much if anything.
Further investigation shows that Canada gave us the foghorn, gas mask, trivial pursuit, insulin, pacemaker and the Wonderbra which are all very important so i'm afraid that the decision has been made.
Unfortunately giving us the didgeridoo, dual flush toilet, a stick that comes back to you when you throw it and Rolf Harris just doesn't cut it so Australia, please empty your desk and form an orderly queue and make your way to the exit. Thank you for the...well... not much to be honest. You're fired.
Are they gone? Good, never liked them, always whinging about something. Right, who has the fireworks (China) and champagne (English)?