Slowly but surely the spectre of the unthinkable is moving closer and closer. The Conservative Party has been forced into an embarrassing U-turn on social care policies, and they have misled us on plans for NHS and school funding. There is a slow but steady march toward privatising the NHS too – the impact of which is as yet unknown, but given the effects of the private healthcare system that the US put up with for years, do we really want to go down that road? The Tories cut police numbers a few years ago and at the start of May refused to rule out doing so again – yet claim to be the better party for providing security. The Tories ruled out providing the NHS with updated computer security, despite warnings of vulnerability.
The impact of all of this is that, despite lop-sided representations in the media (BBC, I’m looking at you, though it’s not just you), Labour have been closing the gap in the polls. YouGov had the Tories on 48 and Labour on 29 on the 3rd of May. On the 12th of May the Tories were on 49 and Labour in 31. A week later the Tories were on 44 and Labour on 35. As of yesterday? The gap was five points, as compared to 19 points on the 3rd. That’s a 15 point swing toward Labour in under a month. A lot of this would appear to be the result of younger voters, who have been registering in record numbers and tend to resonate more with Labour than with the Conservatives. One thing is becoming increasingly clear – what looked like a landslide victory for the Tories is no longer guaranteed, and by the time of the actual election, whilst a Tory win is still the most likely outcome, Labour might win back some seats and give the Tories a fright. Here’s hoping!
Welcome to F1’s crown jewel. Nothing exudes glamour like the Monaco Grand Prix. On Sunday, twenty cars will contest 78 laps round the narrow streets of the rich principality, on a circuit which is as unforgiving as it is beautiful. Monaco takes no prisoners.
To successfully traverse Monaco you will want good grip, high downforce and keen senses. Run wide at most other venues and you’ll either meet a run-off area or a gravel trap. Make a mistake here and you’ll meet a solid barrier that will end your race. Another problem is with overtaking – Monaco can be notoriously processional, with pit strategy key. It’s likely we’ll get a one-stop race, as teams won’t want to risk relying on their drivers having to pass on track. We can expect qualifying to be tense – grid position here is more vital than anywhere else.
Last year saw Lewis Hamilton pick up his second win here, at a race that he desperately wants to do well at, in order to emulate his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna. Daniel Ricciardo might have won, if not for a calamitous mistake from his pit crew, who cost him several precious seconds by failing to be ready for him. This time, it seems unlikely Red Bull will be in a position to seriously challenge Mercedes or Ferrari, though Monaco is a track that places huge importance on aerodynamics, more so than any other race, so it might be that Ricciardo and Verstappen are closer here. They certainly need to be, given that Ricciardo was 75 seconds behind Vettel’s Ferrari in Spain.
The most likely scenario will once again involve a tussle between Ferrari and Mercedes. Monaco will expose whichever team has the slightly weaker overall design, but it will also come down to a test of mettle between Hamilton and Vettel. Who will be prepared to brake just that fraction earlier, hit the power quicker, get just that tiny bit closer to the barrier? That is what will determine qualifying, and with it, the race.
I think that I broke my wife’s heart yesterday. She was so horrified by a statement of mine that she felt the need to revoke my membership of the Star Wars fandom. I had made a horrible error, caused a great disturbance in the Force, and left her speechless.
I didn’t know who Diego Luna was. For the record, Diego Luna is this:
Handsome no? Star Wars fans will recognise him instantly as Captain Cassian Andor, of Rebel Intelligence. I, to my great shame, did not recognise the name.
Will I ever be forgiven?!
Some people will say that Muslims are terrorists, or have the potential to be terrorists. They will say ‘once again no one will do anything and this will happen again! Ban Muslims from the country, deport them!’ But these people have no long-term ideas, no actual answers to the extremely complicated issues that surround IS and their attacks. Both Britain and the USA sell weapons to countries like Saudi Arabia, which uses these weapons to perpetuate the refugee crisis. The failure to have any clear and coherent exit strategy after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have created voids for IS and their ilk to thrive. Whether we care to acknowledge it or not, the refugee crisis owes a lot to our actions.
It’s also strange that people cry out for members of the Muslim faith to condemn these attacks, yet when they do, the reporting falls strangely silent. It isn’t newsworthy – it doesn’t sell papers, least of all rags like The Sun and The Daily Mail, who thrive on ignorance and hate. Yet believe it or not, there are many Muslims who actively protest the actions of IS, and for further, oft-unreported irony, it is often Muslims who are targeted by IS.
There is more to this than simply religious beliefs. And Islam is not the only religion that has fundamentalists that kill. People have used religion, culture and politics as excuses for violence and war throughout history. Should we have banned Catholics in the UK because of the IRA? Obviously the answer would be no. Looking beyond the simplistic explanations, we have a tangled web with a lot of bitter history, and yes, there are religious influences involved, but targeting ála Trump an entire faith of one billion people (who obviously aren’t all out to kill non-Muslims, otherwise we’d see a lot more bloodshed) is exactly what IS want. They need us to drive a wedge between ourselves and moderate Muslims, so they can radicalise more. There are no easy solutions to this, but let’s not turn to giving IS what they want.
I’m not going to make this political, or about religion. I’m going to ask that the focus is on the victims. Please, spread this:
Remember how ground-breaking Star Trek was back in 1966, when it introduced a black woman, an Asian man, a Russian and an a mixed-race (represented through Spock) alien into positions of importance and authority, on a mission to better humanity? Well, that particular spirit has never been more sorely needed than it is right now.
It should not surprise me to learn that there has been a backlash against Discovery from the worst scum of the internet – misogynistic, racist morons. I first discovered this via Wild Dead Roses – and I am horrified that people can call themselves Trekkies and yet so thoroughly abandon the ideals of the franchise, in favour of such bigotry. Well, not on my watch!
Guess what A-holes, there’s more to the human race than the white man. Showing this does not equate to an attack, nor to political correctness. It simply shows the truth. Go crawl into your holes where you dream of your Aryan world. No one else wants it, and you won’t ruin Star Trek with your pathetic attitudes.
Astronomy is a fascinating field and one that continues to be of great interest to me. We are always discovering new and fantastic objects and events that test and stretch our theories about the universe. One of the more recent items to get our attention is KIC 8462852, also known as Boyajian’s Star or Tabby’s Star.
What’s go strange about this particular star? Well, it dims, every so often.
Yes, I know, this is not that unusual. A star’s light dips when a planet passes in front of it. It’s one of the methods we have of finding planets. What makes Boyajian’s Star unique is how much it dims – by as much as 20%. This is staggering in relation to normal planetary transits.
Naturally, this strange behaviour has led to some outlandish conclusions – the most ambitious being that it’s aliens, building a Dyson Sphere or some other huge contraption around their star. It’s an intriguing and romantic proposal, but not one we can actively pursue – not whilst there may be other explanations.
It’s more like a natural phenomenon, after all, we have barely scratched the surface of what’s out there in the universe. Theories include swarms of comets, disintegrating planets, and dust and gas moving around the star. It’s far more likely to be one of these answers (or even a combination of them) than aliens. Which is a shame.
Yesterday I enjoyed a nice trip to the pub, that would have been nicer if the angry drunk hadn’t been there. Never have I seen someone get so worked up over… wait for it… a chair.
Yes folks. That’s the reason for his rage.
That’s the face I made. What happened exactly? Well, some visitors to the pub (who I think were from Holland – my sincere apologies to the Dutch!) sat down and one of them took an empty, unused chair from another table. Cue drunkard kicking off and launching into a tirade. He succeeded in embarrassing himself and the town, and the town, and in getting himself chucked out the pub to a round of applause. Thus ended the chair saga.
After several delays, we finally got our first proper look at the next installment of the Star Trek saga today, with glimpses of new characters, the ship herself, new-look Klingons and some of the settings. So, being a huge Trekkie, what are my thoughts?
It’s Star Trek, which is in my DNA. The overriding message from the franchise has always been a message of inclusion and diversity. There’s always the theme of striving for a better future for humanity, and of leaving behind our racism, sexism and bigotry, in favour of working together to build a better world. It’s my hope that Discovery will continue to promote the ideas that ultimately turned the original show into the iconic series it is remembered as being. My one gripe? The new show is going to be Netflix, or in other words, behind a paywall. This is sort of understandable from the perspective of the studio – they are, first and foremost, looking to make a profit on their investment – but Star Trek has always been available to everyone (that’s important), and for some of us, waiting for it to become available on regular TV means waiting a long time. There’s also the danger that Discovery won’t encourage people to subscribe to Netflix, and therefore won’t be considered profitable enough for a second season.
We shall see. I think the trailer does a good job of teasing the show, and eases a few concerns I had. As more news filters out, I can form a more solid opinion.
Well it’s taken faaaaar too long, but we finally have a bit of warmth! Unfortunately, it’s the wrong kind of warmth.
I know I know, I’ve been moaning about the lack of any degree of Spring heat for ages. Now I’m saying it’s bad that it’s warm? What’s wrong with me eh? Well, the problem is, it’s not so much outright heat, as humidity. It’s muggy. It’s close. It’s uncomfortable and sweaty.
Stop giving me that look people. You know it’s true. We can’t yet do away with our coats because it will likely rain, but at the same time, it’s too warm to wear a coat. We’re in a Catch-22. Can we have a nice, dry day, with blue skies please?