Sunday, 22 November 2015

Church Told To Stick Ad Up Their Wookie

The Church of England has said it is 'bewildered' by the refusal of the country's biggest cinema chains to screen a 60-second advert featuring the Lord's Prayer.
The Church produced the ad which shows Christians from all walks of life reciting one line each of the Lords Prayer in a campaign to promote praying.
The ad was planned to be shown in cinemas from 18 December before the new Star Wars film but the cinemas have refused to show it as they believe it carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences.
Not that it would offend me because i would use that minute to go get some popcorn or visit the ladies but i'm glad the cinemas are refusing to show it.
I don't want religion forced upon me especially when I have paid to watch a film and if the Christians want to hear people saying prayers pop along to one of the many Churches near you, don't try and force it on me and other non-Christians. They moaned their heads off when the Atheists put a poster on a bus.
I also think aiming it at people who would pay to see a Star Wars film is also a bad move, they are probably the sort of people who describe their religious status as 'Jedi Knight' and asked for their ticket in Yoda speak 'For the new star wars film please a ticket' so any reference to Our Father they would assume you meant Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Computer Mouses or Computer Mice?

I was helping the IT guy sort out his cupboard a while ago and i was counting the items and he was writing it down so it was 15 keyboards, 7 mouse mats, 1 packet of out of date Rich Tea biscuits, 2 monitors and then we came to the 10 mouses, which i paused before calling them mice which led to a discussion over whether we say mouses or mice when there are more than one of them. 
To settle it we asked an English teacher who stroked his goatee for a while before cautiously coming down on the side of mouses but mainly to differentiate it from the rodent.
A Google search finds nearly 72 million results for 'computer mice' to only around 360,000 for 'computer mouses' but finally i thought i could get a definitive answer from the Oxford Dictionary which said that both are correct.
Refusing to take such a wishy-washy non-answer i contacted the The Centre for Computing History who have explained that: 'Technically, since 'mouse' is an acronym for 'Manually Operated User Select Equipment' they should be pluralised as 'Mouses'.
Sounds awkward i agree but i'm not going to argue with Computer historians but i will probably continue to call them mice anyway along with 72 million Google users.

Defeating IS Without Going To War

Nobody in their right mind would say that Western adventures in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan has been a success.
Neither could anybody claim that it has protected us from terrorism on our soil as the Paris attacks show but it appears that a large collection of Governments are once again readying their  military to attack another Middle Eastern country.
Heavy aerial bombardment of Raqqa would be fine if the bombs and missiles dropped only took out the bad guys but they don't, bombs and missiles don't discriminate and they take out everyone within radius and in the sixth largest city in Syria, a fair proportion of those killed will be innocent civilians.   
The British Government are bullish that they would likely seek, and gain, parliamentary support to extend the current UK bombing of Islamic State in Iraq to Syria.
My question would be if the two most powerful military nations of USA and Russia have been pounding IS for months in Syria and they are still gaining ground, what would adding the 8 UK bombers available to the attack achieve apart from gaining more hatred towards the West and acting as a recruitment officer for Islamic State who will present itself as Islam under attack from crusaders.
In a joint bulletin recently issued by the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, they warned that while single events will not provoke an immediate response from homegrown extremists: 'we believe these air strikes will contribute to homegrown violent extremists, broader grievances about military intervention in predominantly Muslim lands, possibly motivating Homeland attacks'.
The mood seems to be we need to do something but if air strikes won't make any difference and increases the likelihood of more terrorist attacks in the West, what can we do?
Although IS receives donations, especially from Gulf-based financiers, the bulk of their income comes from oil revenues from the fields it controls in Iraq and Syria. American officials estimated that it was making £2m a day from oil so find out who is buying the oil and slap sanctions on them to stem the flow of money which goes towards buying military equipment.
Diplomatic pressure should also be applied to the Gulf states to push them to clamp down on their citizens funding and supporting IS.
As the overwhelming majority of new recruits are found in the Sunni Muslim branch of Islam, we need to support states with a large Sunni Muslim population such as Bahrain, Jordon, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and deter Sunni's from wanting to join Islamic State. If we can somehow prove (not easy i agree after what we have been doing there) but if we could show the West in a good light and IS as the murderous cancer that they are then they would be less prepared to fight us.   
If we can bleed them of financial support, cease the recruitment and show the Middle East that we have their interests and not just protecting their oil in our minds, we may not be able to wind back the clock to put right the many wrongs of the West in the Bush and Blair years, but we may be able to avoid adding fuel to the fire and making things a whole lot worse over there as well as over here.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Charlie Sheen

Following his 'Tiger Blood' and 'DNA of an Adonis' breakdown in 2011, Charlie Sheen received some sympathy but as we know find out that the breakdown was caused by his diagnosis of HIV, and that he carried on having sex even after he found out, any sympathy has long left the building.
The actor says that he doesn’t know how he got the virus but says it is impossible that he infected anyone since, although many of his sexual partners refute his claim that he told them about his HIV status.
He seems particularly annoyed that someone betrayed his trust and was blackmailing which seems to show that he didn't reveal his illness out of some concern for his future partners or to draw attention and be an unfortunate spokesman for HIV sufferers but simply because he felt forced to make the announcement before someone else did it for him.
The best thing he could do is use his new platform to show how it is possible to live a full life with HIV although this will never remedy the fact that he had a killer disease and knowingly continued
to risk other people with the same fate for which he should be facing a prison cell.

Celebrities Accepting Honourary Degrees

It's about this time of year that the people who decide these things start finalising the New Years Honours list as hundreds of celebrities prepare to receive their OBE's MBE's and Knighthoods.
Why these honours are dished out to actors, singers, musicians and successful businessmen who have spent their lives doing what they want to do and being paid extremely well for doing it i have never really understood.
Even worse but along the same theme is the University Honourary Degree system where Degrees are handed to people outside of academia which really does stick in my craw.
I do understand the 'celebrity splash at the graduation ceremony' angle but what a slap in the face to those poor students who spend years paying extortionate tuition fees, studying all hours for years, the anxiety of exams often in a state of near poverty only to see someone who has done any of these things swan in and pick up the same award as you.
Graduates pay dearly for their degrees, both financially and mentally and it cheapens the achievement when universities hand out degrees and even more when the celebrity then uses the honourary title given to them and put Doctor in front of their name. 
I strongly dislike the Honours List, the British Empire part of it especially, but I fundamentally disagree with the practise of handing out Honourary Degrees to celebrities. If they want a degree that bad then they should go to university, put in the years of study and earn it.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Government Advice

The Government has published advice on what we should do in the event of a firearms or weapons attack in a public place, run.
That's good to know because we may have tried to engage them in meaningful dialogue but if the Government says just beat it the hell out of there, i would go with that.
They also advise that if running isn't an option, hide behind a heavily reinforced wall as as bullets can go through brick, glass, wood and metal. Lock any doors and silence your mobile phone.
With the running part, i assume you adopt a zig-zag style run until you find a heavily reinforced wall whatever one of those looks like.
The bottom line is leg it and keep legging it until you can't hear the gun fire anymore.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


John Kerry is once again on this side of the Atlantic and he is bringing a message of hope after the horrors of Paris and the downed Russian plane in Egypt.
He believes a ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebels fighting to bring it down could be weeks away and then the guns of all sides can be thrown against Islamic State.
Saudi Arabia is to host a meeting of Syrian opposition figures in December, at which they are to agree on a delegation to send to talks with representatives from President Bashar al Assad's government.
The elephant in the room though was the sight of John Kerry's face and what has happened to it.
To be fair he was never a looker and the comparison with Lurch from the Adams Family was always harsh but fair but something seems to have gone very wrong.
It is rumoured that he is a keen recipient of botox injections and plastic surgery but someone needs to take him to one side and tell him he really should ease up a bit because it isn't doing him any favours in the looks department.
Great news that the Syrian conflict may be coming towards the end game though.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Islamic State The West's Monster

During the 1970s, Communism and the Soviet Union was the biggest threat to America and radical Islam was not a concern of the USA. Under the Jimmy Carter administration the USA began funding and training Islamic militants to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.
These militants who named themselves the Mujaheddin, were the Americans foot soldiers in a proxy war against the Soviets and received American funds and training towards this goal. 
After Ronald Reagan was elected in 1981, U.S. funding of the Mujaheddin increased significantly and CIA Officers played a big role in training and arming Mujaheddin forces and one of their prominent members was a wealthy son of a Saudi Arabian businessman named Osama Bin Laden.
Bin Laden left Saudi Arabia to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan after Moscow’s invasion in 1979. By 1984, he was running a front organisation known as Maktab al-Khidamar – the MAK – which funnelled funds, weapons and recruits to the Mujaheddin.
Some of that money went towards new madrases where students were radicalised and encouraged to join the Afghan resistance.
The 9/11 Commission report released in 2004 said these madrases served as 'incubators for violent extremism'.
After 10 years of war the Soviets withdrew and so did American support and funding to leave behind a broken and wrecked country which was already one of the poorest in the World before the decade of conflict.
Feeling aggrieved and betrayed that they would not be helped to rebuild their country after their sacrifices doing America's dirty work, the Mujaheddin turned on their former backers and rebranded themselves as Al Queada and became a worldwide recruiting movement for 'Holy warriors' and spread a doctrine against the West but especially America, financed by Osama bin Laden.
Former British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, said that Al Quaeda was 'unquestionably a product of Western intelligence agencies' and 'a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies'.
A lengthy list of terrorist acts followed and in 2001 Al Queada operatives crashed four planes into America killing 2,753 with the result being the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 with one of the justifications in destroying Al Queada's base.
Quickly the American focus moved away from Afghanistan and onto Iraq on the pretext of WMD's which led to an invasion and removal of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
With Saddam removed the US President, George W Bush, announced 'mission accomplished' and began to withdraw US troops from Iraq leaving a void which Al Queada stepped into and where they remained driving car bombs and suicide missions against the Iraqi's. 
The remnants of the Afghanistan Al-Queada were joined by other terror organisations in the region and underwent another rebranding as Al-Quaeda in Iraq (AQI).
With the stirrings of revolution in neighbouring Syria, AQI become Islamic State and refocused its efforts on Syria.
Former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband concluded that the 2003 invasion of Iraq caused the creation of Islamic State, an argument that one of the architects of the Iraq invasion, Tony Blair, agreed with last month.
Rather embarrassingly, the United States and the West were arming and funding some of the Syrian rebels who turned out to be affiliated to Islamic State and who took the Western donated weapons and overrun large swathes of Iraq as well as Syria.
Now Islamic State appear to be spreading out beyond the Syria and Iraqi field of operations and from the Mujaheddin through Al Queada to Al Queada in Iraq and now Islamic State, it is a monster of our own making and once again it is the innocent civilians suffering the blow-back from the series of monumental errors from our leaders and the murderous, demented bastards intent on bringing death in the name of their God wherever they can.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Paris Reaction

As difficult as it must be, what we need most after the atrocious Paris attacks are cool heads.
It is too early to say what happened exactly, one report claimed an attacker shouted 'this is for Syria' before he opened fire and French investigators have identified a Syrian who apparently passed through Greece as a refugee last month as one of the perpetrators.
Islamic State have claimed responsibility and the French president, Fran├žois Hollande, has called their actions an 'act of war that must be countered mercilessly'.
Amidst an influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants, the revelation that one of the Paris killers may have made his way to Paris with refugees is going to prove deeply toxic. 
Muslims, particularly in France, will now increasingly fear being associated with fanaticism and terror and far-right groups may will try to fuel more hatred which will lead to attacks on innocent Muslims.
The political leaders need to take a deep breath before responding, what we don't need is an upping of the present carnage and more troops and heavier weapons dispatched to another Middle Eastern country and another decade of war to satisfy the understandable cry for revenge, we have the American reaction to 9/11 to see exactly how that ends up and last night in Paris is undeniably just the latest blow-back of their actions over a decade ago.
If Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron, doesn't try to use this as an excuse to push for attacks in Syria i will be surprised as he has been itching to get involved in the action ever since it flared up but Governments need to avoid knee-jerk, emotive reactions and be smart in the way they react and not add fuel to an already out of control fire.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Building Another Earth

NASA have an ambitious plan to capture an asteroid and put it in orbit around the moon which will be exciting enough if they can achieve it but it does make me wonder about how we can reshape our Solar System.
Each 365 days the Earth orbits the Sun traveling 940 million kilometers or 584 million miles around our star and it doesn't return to that place in its orbit for another year so that space is for all intent and purposes empty.
Jupiter meanwhile shares its orbit with a whole bunch of asteroids which move around the Sun with the planet, one group ahead of Jupiter and another other group behind in its orbit.
As this shows that planets or planet-like objects can be in the same orbit, i do wonder what it would be possible to manoeuver into the Earths Orbit.
Venus is almost the same size and density as the Earth and would be ideal as a second Earth but somehow dragging it 23 million miles to our orbit may be too much and i couldn't even begin to imagine either how we could drag a planet out of its orbit and into ours or what knock-on effect it would have on other things.
The alternative would be to guide as large as possible an asteroid into place and then build it up as necessary.
The Earths orbit is in the Goldilocks Zone, we know that at an orbit of 93 million miles from the Sun we can have liquid water and if we can't get the size of planet the same as Earth, we could get the mass using heavier material to terraform our new orbital partner.
With our best brains working on the details such as the required mass to create to enable it to hold onto its atmosphere and where in the orbit to place it in relation to the Earth, we could 'build' a second home orbiting our Sun exactly where we want it knowing it could sustain life.
While a spare Earth would solve many problems, i don't know what effect if any it would have on Earth so might be better to stick with Plan A and just build on the Moon for now and leave the planet creation for future generations and more advanced technology.