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Friday, 27 March 2015

Coded Designs

I was much struck with a photograph taken in Moscow 1990, by photographer David Hlynsky who visited the communist bloc before it collapsed. His mission was to capture the urban landscapes he found, and amongst them was the the shops of the communist East which he said "hid as much as they revealed, about the real economy".

Moscow - 1990 - Lipstick

..... amongst his pictures was one that captured the moment when a very inventive shop window dresser, managed to make a one brand and one colour delivery of lipstick, into something really attractive to look at.

It reminded me as much as anything of the works of Polish writer Stanislaw Lem and the Soviet Robotic style of design .....  

Robots - Stanislaw Lem
A style that was peculiar to the Soviet era .....

Hello - I’m a Robot!

.... and was often a coded reference to the coldness of the Soviet system and regimes ... often it was the only criticism that passed by the censors, who failed to see it for what it was. Now of course, despite our ongoing political differences both East and West are united in consumerism.

The Plain and Unvarnished Truth

Some people can take the plain and unvarnished truth, and others can't ..... for decades, fans of Manchester United and Manchester City football clubs, have argued over who has the most fans inside the City of Manchester .... no argument outside of Manchester, as Manchester United are the best supported team in the world (allegedly).

Well the question has been answered in the only possible way, by how many put their money where their loyalties are.

The sports chain Sports Direct have used their shop sales to determine the truth of the matter and settle the argument forever.

Man Utd and Man City Shirt Sales

First Fact: If you add up the all City and United shirts that were sold inside Manchester last year, an enormous 95% were Manchester United and  just 5% were Manchester City ..... end of discussion. 

Second Fact: Only 10% of Manchester United shirts are sold inside Manchester, but even that's far better than Manchester City, whose fans have claimed for decades that they are the team who are supported by real Mancunians - where that figure drops to under 5%.

Last Fact: Almost 45% of Manchester United shirt sales occur in London (Second Place Dublin), and Manchester actually comes in just 3rd on the list. But City also sell the majority of their shirts in London (with Glasgow second) and for them Manchester comes in a very poor 10th for their shirt sales.

Oh and for the Liverpool Fans out there, more than half your shirt sales come from London, with Dublin second .... Liverpool is just 4th in the list.

Man Utd v Man City

These are facts, not bullshit .... man up lads, and just accept the plain and unvarnished truth.  

One Man's Freedom Is Another's Bondage

Why is that ones man's freedom always seems to be at the price of another man's bondage?

Homosexuals have campaigned for decades, not just for the right to enact the sexual congress they desire in the privacy of their own bedrooms, but also for no one to be able to 'discriminate' against them under any grounds in the workplace, or social life. This is all well and good of course, but what if these  'rights' comes at the cost of someone else's inalienable (or not so inalienable) rights? Do we have to compromise the freedom of both, or just one group in order to achieve justice?

In the case of homosexuals, their 'freedom' and 'rights', have seemingly been won at the cost of the 'rights' of other groups, noticeably the Christians (other religious groups such as Muslims, have seemingly not been impacted ... this despite their own vehement objections to homosexuality).

In the UK, peoples as diverse as Christian cake makers, and Bed and Breakfast hotel owners, have been subjected to the full rigours of the law, all for trying to exercise their rights to practise their religion and freedom of conscience, and not fully service requests that contravene their genuinely held beliefs that prohibit homosexual behaviour, or the promoting of homosexual behaviour. In these cases the courts have upheld the rights of practising homosexuals against those of practising Christians rights.

In the US, there followed a similar course of events vis a vis 'gay rights' legislation, but the robustness of the US citizens constitutional state rights has led to each state, and the religious groups in those states, being able to challenge the whole hearted acceptance of the idea that the practises of one group, can overturn the convictions of other groups over those practices. This has led to something of a legal tug of war between those deemed as 'liberal' and 'progressive', and who insist that homosexual and lesbian rights are sacrosanct, and those deemed as 'conservative' or 'illiberal', and who defend the rights of those whose religious convictions are against the practises, to not promote or support 'gay' activities.

The battles over this fundamental issue of rights rages across the land .... in the state of Arizona the governor, last year eventually vetoed a "religious freedom" law, but only after intense pressure from major US companies like Apple and American Airlines. The bill was intended to prevent the state from forcing people to provide services contrary to their religious convictions e.g. Not promoting homosexuality. Another similar bill of law is in the wings in the state of Indiana, with the governor apparently inclined to approve it, and bills are also being considered across the US, mainly in response to court rulings which have made gay marriage legal in more states.

It appears that both sides argue that, in order to grant the other their 'rights', then they are forced to curtail their own rights .... as one lawmaker described it "Everybody wants the opportunity for people to practice the rights they're supposed to have in this country." So should homosexuals be able to demand rights from others that deny them theirs, or should religious convictions be able to resist in some circumstances?

Contradictory Rights Demands

Surely much of these arguments hinge on the aggressive overreach of some gay groups? After all homosexuality is legal, the 'gay' age of consent is equal, in general they can't be discriminated against, they can't be prevented from practising their lifestyle, they can 'marry' (in one form or another ~ Civil or even religious ceremonies depending upon churches), and they can adopt children.

So do they really have to force the churches and their practitioners to administer to gay marriages or do they have to force small businesses to 'promote a homosexual lifestyle' against the owners convictions? After all, they could just set up their own religious establishments rather than coerce an existing one. They could also take their business elsewhere, rather than force small businesses into closure if they don't want to support gay rights because of religious convictions ... so why do they have to enforce their rights over the top of others?

Are not the 'equal rights' they have won not enough, or do they just keep going until there is a backlash? .... Do the rights of others always have to give way in this instance? Its a conundrum that needs to be solved soon, because if push comes to shove, homosexuals could easily find their rights being rolled back, in a reactive backlash against the aggressive manner in which they try to enforce 'equality' via 'inequality'.

Now apart from the 'gay rights' issue, this debate has also raised another fundamental matter of concern. States versus Federal Democratic rights in the US. In each case where the governor steps in and stops the laws, he will do so in the direct opposition to the local elected law makers of that state, and thus thwart the majority will of the population. Can democracy survive a metro-centric elite, enforcing 'homosexual rights' over those laws or rights, which the local population want to uphold?

The principal of local democracy, dictates that its the local wishes that should win, and yet in the US and elsewhere, such as the UK, this is not the case. Homosexual rights that supersede those of other groups were never the intentions of lawmakers when the first steps towards decriminalising homosexuality were taken in the 1960's ... in fact it was often said that it would be another lifetime before we got anywhere near doing more than legalising the act. Yet here we are, inside 40yrs with 'gay' rights overruling others religious convictions, and being wielded like a weapon by the strident supporters or advocates of those rights.
 

You can't do right for doing wrong, and in this case we are in danger of doing wrong while trying to do right.

Cruisin For A Bruisin

Ted Cruz is the first Republican candidate to officially announce his intention to stand for US President in 2026.

Mr Cruz is a darling of the far right 'Tea Party' wing of the Republican Party, so probably can't actually win the country or the Presidency ... although who am I to second guess that?

Ted Cruz .... Hmm, Has He Got A Secret?

But what makes him remotely interesting to me is that he was born in Canada to a Cuban father and US mother. Now forgive me for bringing this up, but didn't the far right Tea Party wing scream blue murder about claims that Barack Obama was ineligible to run for US President, because they suspected that he was born outside the US to a Kenyan father and US mother?

Just asking .... no doubt I won't be the first or last to note this.

Friday, 20 March 2015

What A Jerk

As I have mentioned in the past on this blog, sometimes a story just tells itself ....

On 21st September 2014, 56-year-old Calvin E Wank was arrested for the misdemeanour of 'Public Lewdness'. This was after state troopers attended the area of Kirkwood, New York State, after members of the truck drivers community complained about a man, who reportedly committed a series of sexually lewd acts in a New York car lot, next to a 'Love's Travel Stop' chain . He is also alleged to have carried out the same acts in a field next to the motel chain.

Wank By Name But Jerk By Nature ....

According to a New York State Police press release, Mr Wank from Deposit, Delaware, in upstate New York, was issued with a ticket, and ordered to return to the Town of Kirkwood Court on 7 October. In his mugshot he was still wearing his smudged eye makeup and lipstick ... and apparently a bra.

Presumably he couldn't give a toss, however in a similar case of an 'apt surname' arrested story, in April 2014, the police arrested a Fort Lauderdale man named Edward Cocaine on suspicion of drug possession but the charges against Mr Cocaine were later dropped.

The Appliance Of Science

The Hubble telescope is one of the great science projects mankind has produced ... the images and science its churned out, from confirming the existence of black-holes at the centre of the universe, to helping to confirm the exact age of the Universe, its been a winner (apart from one Oops, when it was launched with a lens flaw ~ later corrected by the shuttle crews), almost from day one.

And it's still performing admirably ever since its last service and overhaul (last in every sense, because its no longer possible to fix issues now that the space shuttles have ceased), and with only one of its 6 vital gyroscopes showing signs of wear and tear.

The Butterfly Nebula

In the near future, its hoped that for a few years at least, it will be able to team up with its eventual replacement, the James Webb scope, and perform some very special science, by each viewing the same objects, but from slightly different perspectives, utilising the gravitational lensing effects created by distant galaxies, to see ever further back in time.

While there will always be the scientific luddites, who believe that we should spend every penny to feed the poor, its also the same sort of nonsense thinking that would have kept us in the caves. These sort of 'thinkers' would have punished the very first man who invented something 'useless' called fire instead of going out hunting or scavenging. Whomever the 'Ugg' was who came up with making fire, he would surely now be beaten to death by the 'greens', probably as a criminal environmental polluter who was burning fossil fuels and creating the first carbon emissions.

Eagle Nebula - aka the "Pillars of Creation".

Having any sort of debate with these sort of people is impossible, because they are resistant to logic ... For instance the whole of the Hubble costs, from development to the last rebuild, would be equal to about 10p (given just once to every UN officially defined poor person in the world) .... barely a cup of rice. The poor can never be got rid of ....  they have always been with us and probably always will be.

We can't allow this stupidity to impoverish our minds and our thoughts ... if there is any hope for mankind, it is almost certainly off the planet which we are so busily abusing. It is the stars (or planets to be technical), or extinction for this curious ape descendent.

The Sombrero Galaxy (M104)

So enough of the guff .... let us celebrate this marvellous human achievement, and just look at some of the glorious images it has sent back to those of us with our heads in the skies, even if our feet are still in the mud.

Guy Fawkes In Libya

The use of the Guy Fawkes masks as both a symbol of rebellion or resistance, and also a useful face cover against police surveillance cameras, as first seen in the movie V for Vendetta, is almost de rigueur for protesting hipsters, rioting anarchists, and publicity hunting millionaire 'comedians' on anti-poverty marches.

Guy Fawkes Masks Adopted By Everyone ....
 
Note to comedians, it doesn't count if you pull the mask down at the click of every camera .... it just makes you a publicity seeking tw*t.

Still, they are rather cool, and it was rather a cool movie ..... but they now seem to have lost their purpose, as they have been adopted around the world by some very disparate causes and groups. These range from the mask becoming a well-known symbol for the on-line hacktivist group 'Anonymous', also they were used in 'Project Chanology', the 'Occupy movement', and other anti-government and anti-establishment protests around the world.

However I think I have spotted the most incongruous usage of the mask .....

Guy Fawkes In Libya

In case you have missed it .....

Guy Fawkes In Libya Close Up

If it is the ubiquitous Mr Fawkes, and it just looks like it is, then he's now caught up in some bad company amongst the Jihadist's of Libya. He's not fighting for 'freedom' anymore, but for one version of tyranny over another ......

Strange how these things work out ......

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Marks and Spencer used to be a clothes UK retail giant, but recently they have fallen on harder times, with only their food sales apparently keeping the whole ship afloat. Now when I was a younger man I used to shop with them for clothes, admittedly that was only once a year or so, and featured a lot of socks and underwear in an annual replenishment. But hey, a sales a sale, and when I could afford to, I would buy jeans, jackets and tops.

I am not too embarrassed to admit that I was poor in my teens and early twenties, so normally they were too pricey for me except in the sales, but I appreciated their quality. And that was the point .... for Menswear their quality shone through, with standardised fittings and thick materials, so as a man you paid the M&S premium, and were very happy to do so. Another bonus was that once you had established which sizes fitted you, you could just buy off the rack confident that it would fit.

Somewhere in the last decade or so M&S lost their way, and I, and many other men, were cast into the clothing wilderness, until eventually landing safely in the arms of George's (Asda's) clothing range, which is remarkably like the M&S of old.

I was struck by all this when I recently visited a large M&S, and after finally finding the tiny menswear department jammed into the home fittings floor, I was totally depressed by what greeted me. Rack after rack of woollens .... Sweaters and Jumpers .... like a Val Doonican convention on acid. The prices were hardly competitive either, when you think this is a seasonal item at best, and Primark does them for around £10 - £15.

Val Doonican - Inspiration For M&S Fashionistas

Now I don't know which female buyer (of either sex), decided that 'sweaters and jumpers' were this Autumn Winter Season's men's must have, but they were sadly mistaken. Look around you for gods sake. How many sweaters or jumpers on anyone under the age of 70? One, maybe two?

Men don't wear them anymore .... even if middle aged wives do still insist on buying them for their husbands. I work in a large department, with a majority of men, and just two sweaters to be seen in over 100 men. I did eventually buy something later from a M&S outlet store, where I got some black cords at a discounted price.

But even that wasn't a simple purchase, because before I alighted on them, I had made the mistake of assuming that M&S fittings would be standard with the Asda George range (I was wearing identical George trousers) and initially had bought some M&S trousers .... which to my horror when I got home I found I couldn't get over my thighs! I was so wrong that I had to go back to the Outlet store the next day and replace my original purchases, with one size up in the cords ... eek!

Last time for me ... apart from the odd curiosity visit, I am unlikely to put myself through the effort of trying to find menswear at M&S .... that's if it's even possible in a few years time, the way they are going.

What a shame to see that such a giant has seemingly so lost the plot .....

Friday, 13 March 2015

Discworld Death

Sir Terence David John Pratchett OBE, to give him his full moniker, is sadly no longer with us, but true to his life, he went out in a stylish way.

 
 .... Terry will be missed by millions worldwide.

'Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night'.

Kim Il Topcat No Copycats

Usually when a regime is on its last legs, it often exhibits ever more bizarre behaviour at the top .... however there are occasionally some states for whom this golden rule doesn't seem to apply.

One such is of course the 'Hermit Kingdom', aka the 'Democratic People's Republic of Korea', where normal behaviour and rules seem to hold no power. So its no great surprise that the latest pronouncement to be made public from the ruling party, is that anyone who shares the name of the leader, 'Kim Jong-un', to change it, to Barry ..... I am joking of course ..... its not 'Barry' (although it could be), but any other name except 'Kim Jong-un'.

The order was contained in a directive dated from 2011 but that that has only now been made generally public, although one assumes that all those bar one who were called 'Kim Jong-un' were informed at the time. They were instructed to amend their birth certificates and no newborns have been given that name since then.

What's In A Name?

Its alleged that its also been applied to the rest of the dynasty names, Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, and that the changes should be done voluntarily .... yeah, right.

You would have to be a very brave, or an incredibly stupid Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il or Kim Il-sung to have kept those names .... ever. 

Old Laws Make New News

Some of England's oldest surviving law faces repeal after 747 years ..... these are some of the oldest surviving legislation on England's statute books, and possibly anywhere in the world, but sadly are set to be repealed after 747 years.

Just four of the 29 sections of the Statute of Marlborough, passed on November 19th, 1267 AD under King Henry III, remain in force. Now two of the four  - covering debt collection - are deemed surplus to requirements since new laws came into force last year. The act, often referred to as the 'Distress Act 1267' governed the recovery of damages ("distresses"), and made it illegal to obtain recompense for damages other than through the courts.

The full name of the law is "Provisions made at Marlborough in the presence of our lord King Henry, and Richard King of the Romans, and the Lord Edward eldest son of the said King Henry, and the Lord Ottobon, at that time legate in England."


The bit that really interested me in all this was the title 'King of the Romans', which in this case was held by 'Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall(5 January 1209 – 2 April 1272), who was one of Europe's wealthiest men. He had  joined the Barons' Crusade to the Holy Land, where he achieved success as a negotiator for the release of prisoners and assisted with the building of the citadel in Ascalon in Israel.

The title 'King of the Romans' dates from the time of Emperor Henry II, and was principally created for the creation of a 'German King' (when there was no Germany), who was elected by the German princes. The title was usually given to a claimant who was to become the Holy Roman Emperor, which suggests Richard was a man of ambition.

However it wasn't a title that commanded much respect in later times ..... either for real Romans, or the mock Romans of the Middle Ages. 

Tarquinius Superbus makes himself King;  The Comic History of Rome by Gilbert Abbott à Beckett

Always A Womans Job

An Italian clothing company called the 'Shoeshine' brand, has got into trouble ..... it jokingly put in a washing instruction label that gave the usual instructions in Italian and English but also in English only said .... 'Give it to your mum - it's her job'.

'Give it to your mum - it's her job'.

No doubt there were lots of laughs, and knowing smiles across Europe and North America over this tongue in cheek instruction ..... but then it fell under the scrutiny of one of those no humour 'Wimmin Of The Left' who seem to have infiltrated European politics as we go through our decline.

In this case it was one Ms Federica Mazzoni, who saw this label on her friends sons cardigan. Unfortunately Ms Mazzoni, is an Italian Democratic Party MP, and also works at the equality commission in Emilia-Romagna ..... outraged, she has reported clothing manufacturer Shoeshine for sexism. She told the press ...

'Doing the washing is not the mother's job, fathers are also capable of turning a simple knob. Obviously it wasn't enough for the company to provide all the necessary useful information, it felt the need to have its say, by perpetuating a sexist message about mothers and women, which is also insulting for men and fathers. It suggests women have no other skills than staying at home and that of turning a knob to 30 ... In a mirror image, it insults men as if they were not capable of doing a simple wash. Anyway, the cardigan is still in the wash basket.'

So in fact it was her friend, not her friends male partner who was doing the wash, and apparently she couldn't manage to turn the knob to 30 ...... hmm. The company's distributor 'Unipersonale' said it was 'just a simple joke' ....

Oddly, history is on the side of the manufacturers, because a report this week by the 'Spanish National Research Council', after a study of 99 Neanderthal incisors and canine teeth, concluded that while both Neanderthal men and women used their teeth a lot (nothing revolutionary in that!), the grooves and patterns in the teeth differed between men and women because their roles were different. Their best guess was that women were responsible for tasks such as looking after fur clothing.

Neanderthal Woman, As All Women ...

In what can be classed as a sop to modern feminist sensibilities, they also considered that Neanderthal women were also obliged to help the men work, hunt those furs, as well as doing all those domestic chores .... so nothing much changed in 100,000 years it seems.

Mailgate Setback For Clinton

Mailgate or emailgate ... call it what you want, but once again a Clinton has failed to follow the rules, and the hunters are now out. Let's be honest, Hilary Clinton was until now a virtual shoe-in for the Democratic nomination (it is 'her' turn), and the turn of a woman ... but has she once again let the 'wimmin of the left' down? 
 
Last time, her apparently passive and silent acceptance of Bill's trouser snake issues, without her walking out was a big disappointment to many, who would have preferred her to do a Valerie Trierweiler, and print all in a block buster book  .... but she kept quiet, because although she might have won the plaudits of the left, and of women spurned everywhere, she would never have won what she most desires, the US Presidency (or at the very least a realistic shot at it).

That shot of history (whether she wins or loses), will guarantee her a sort of political immortality that being the former spouse of a President, with odd exceptions such as Eleanor Roosevelt, or Jackie Kennedy, US politics rarely gives. So she was never going to rattle any cages over Bill's extra-maritals, not while the main prize was still in her sights.

Now of course, her campaign could be taken down, or at least severely damaged, if her strange behaviour of using her own mail server and email address, to conduct official business while she was the United States Secretary of State, prove to be both true, and potentially a possible breach of federal law. With 32,000 of her 'official' emails submitted to the State Office as a part of the Congress's Benghazi investigation, and the declaration that she had destroyed some 30,000 'personal' emails from that time, she is skating on thin ice.
 
The hubris that led her to make such a call, may also damage her cause, because lets be honest, the Republican party is likely to field a real numpty this time around (while the far right have such a stranglehold on the process), and this was a golden chance for a woman to win the Presidency .... however it turns out that Jeb Bush, a possible Republican candidate (who has just about survived his first encounter with the far right), also used a private email address (jeb@jeb.org) while in office, and was forced to hand over many thousands of his emails, including the 'personal ones', so maybe the damage will not be so great.
 
One Of These Is Rated Higher For The US Presidency ......
 
This is especially so when you realise that 'Darth Vader' currently has a higher net favourability rating amongst the US electorate than every prospective 2016 Presidential candidate, including Hillary Clinton.

We are of course a long ways out (600 plus days), and many things could go wrong for all the prospective candidates, but are we already possibly seeing the start of a process that will leave Ms Clinton limping into the Democratic nomination, but being so badly wounded that she's picked off by an unheralded Republican, and beaten for the ultimate prize.

If that's the case, then the cause of a woman US President could be set back for a few more decades, or certainly a political generation.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Ceres Mystery Death Star

NASA's Dawn spacecraft on its way to Ceres took these images .....

Water Volcano or Death Star Activity

The original long range photos had revealed a single light, but the latest NASA images, taken from 29,000 miles away, showed two bright lights on the surface on the dwarf planet Ceres. Speculation is that the lights might be reflections from ice, or maybe evidence of volcanic activity

Of course the 'Death Star' enthusiasts have suggested that these are electronic lights from space vehicles entering a base. Well we will soon find out, as today (the 6th of March) the spacecraft will move into orbit and presumably Darth Vader and the Empire will strike back .... or not.

Coincidences Abound

There is a world of coincidences out there that are all statistically valid, but which on the face of it still look strange and often are quoted as being unexplainable ... these coincidences often get turned into evidence for conspiracy theory fodder as well, so it becomes hard to separate the one from the other.

Perhaps the most often quoted coincidences in the popular press are of couples who were allegedly born on the same day, married on the same day, and died within hours of each other on the same calendar day. But in fact these are the rarest of coincidences.  And indeed so rare are they, that there are often misquoted examples i.e. couples born same day, married for years but who died 24 hours apart are not as rare, but still often quoted as being 'all same day', when strictly speaking they aren't.

But even these near misses are in fact still rare enough to warrant news stories, and even the plain old 'Married for years and died within a day or so' are uncommon enough to prompt news stories around the world from the UK to USA.

So in reality, it really is not all that uncommon for people who have lived together, to die very close to each other in time, in what many consider to be a strange coincidence.

Strange Coincidences Are Everywhere

..... in fact statistically, many events will happen like this, governed by the simple law of averages.

This is where 'coincidence' gets pulled into conspiracies, like all those '9/11 conspiracies' or 'JFK death' conspiracy, which often quote coincidences, which frankly don't really stand up when examined, as they usually incorporate factual errors, which are then woven into the conspiracy as 'fact', rather than coincidence. So for example the President Kennedy and President Lincoln coincidences, and false facts are often intertwined and presented as fact ... this site is as good an example of this as you can find, but there are many others.

They start with one or two real 'facts' that are also coincidences, and stack up less certain ones on top after that, with ever more credulous stretches of the truth, turned into facts to top off the conspiracy: e.g an opening 'Fact':

  • Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
  • John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

followed by another ....

  • Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
  • John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

And so on .... but these coincidences are often not all that remarkable or even very unlikely e.g. As they were politically active at about the same time (just a hundred years apart), the fixed US electoral would account for these date coincidence/facts ... i.e. the US has fixed electoral cycles so you can only be elected for certain roles such as Congress, Senator or President, on the same year ending dates in these cycles, even a century apart.

I won't bother to go through the whole debunking of the 'coincidences', as the the snopes website deals with it all, but there are in fact more non-coincidences between the men, than any events that they may share.

Perhaps the best example of these is one of the oft quoted 'coincidences':
  • Lincoln's secretary, Kennedy, warned him not to go to Ford's Theatre.
  • Kennedy's secretary, Lincoln, warned him not to go to Dallas.

Wrong! John Kennedy did have a secretary named Evelyn Lincoln (who may or may not have warned him about going to Dallas), but Lincoln's White House secretaries were John G. Nicolay, and John Hay.

Again if you want the whole tale ... go to the SNOPES web site ..

Another of the common ones is the 'Wingdings 9/11' coincidences, which are particularly funny, but very good examples of how these things will fly with little effort ... After the 9/11 attack, an email was circulated claiming that "Q33 NY", was the flight number of the first plane to hit the Twin Towers (or in an alternative version, the address of the World Trade Centre), and that by entering it into the Microsoft word font 'Wingdings', would bring up a character sequence of a plane flying into two towers, followed by the skull and crossbones symbol and the Star of David.

It was only after every idiot on the web (and that's a lot of idiots), had circulated this tale in one form or another, was this exposed as a hoax: the flight numbers of the two air planes that hit the towers were American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175; the tail numbers were N334AA and N612UA. The whole nonsense is discussed at some length on the SNOPES web site  .... which it files under 'coincidences'.

However there are real coincidences around, where the facts do stack up, and which seem as equally unlikely as the false stories when you first read them: Perhaps the most famous and incontrovertible of these, is that surrounding the start and end of the American Civil War.

The McClean Houses Featured At The Start and End Of The American Civil War


Farmer Wilmer McLean was a retired major in the Virginia militia, of whom it was said that the American Civil War "started in his front yard and ended in his front parlour". When war was declared, McLean's farm, the Yorkshire Plantation, in Manassas, Prince William County, Virginia was being used as a headquarters for Confederate Brigadier General P. G. T. Beauregard, and when the Union Army artillery fired at McLean's house, a cannonball dropped down through the kitchen fireplace.

Beauregard wrote after the battle, "A comical effect of this artillery fight was the destruction of the dinner of myself and staff by a Federal shell that fell into the fire-place of my headquarters at the McLean House." This was the initial engagement of the war on the 21st of July 1861 and became known as the 'First Battle of Bull Run' (First Mannasas).

McClean was a sugar broker, so as his commercial activities were centred mostly in southern Virginia, he moved away from Mannasas, to Appomattox County, Virginia, near a crossroads community called Appomattox Court House.

On April 8, 1865, a messenger from Confederate General Robert E. Lee knocked on McLean's door and requested the use of his home, to which McLean reluctantly agreed. On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant in the parlour of McLean's house, effectively ending the Civil War. Later, McLean is supposed to have said "The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlour".

The US Army Officers present then stripped his house of anything not nailed down as souvenirs. They paid him in US dollars or Gold as they walked out the doors ~ he protested but to no avail and the good US currency (Confederate money had been worthless for a year or so), actually can't have been too bad.

McLean ended up as a tax collector for the US government.

Oh, and just for the record, the Huntrodds couple, are the only true example that I have come across, of the phenomena of the couple who were born on the same day, married on the same day, and died within hours of each other on the same calendar day. According to their tomb inscription they were both born on the 19th of September 1600 AD, they married on the 19th September, and both died on the 19th of September 1680 AD.

The Huntrodds .... An Unusual Couple

So when you get right down to it ... given a long enough spread of time, and enough people, with good enough recorded data, there will be examples of every kind of strange coincidence, AND in fact they are all statistically inevitable!

NB: For those of you are interested in the maths of coincidences surrounding births, deaths and marriages etc then there are reams of examples, but for instance sharing the same birthday is as not as uncommon as you may think ~ A Harvard university study found that 21 of the 30 most common US birthdays fall in September .... so that slews the odds of a couple sharing a birthday quite considerably.

If you add in the fact that studies of social media suggest that 28% of married graduates married someone from college, and who was more likely to share the same birth year as well, then the odds fall again. Its estimated that 31,750 couples could be sharing the same birthday in the UK alone  .... so you can see how once you delve into the maths, the strangeness of coincidences can evaporate.

Swamped By Cultural Diversity

All the reactions listed below, are media responses to a study by influential think-tank, the  'Policy Exchange', carried out for Leeds University, which lays bare the effect of decades of immigration into the UK, and reveals the huge impact of Labour’s secret 'open door policy' to migrants between 1997 and 2010.

The research shows that the white British population will shrink from 87.1%, to just 67.1%, and the white Irish group shrinking from 2.5% to 2.1%. The 'other' white group share, will grow from 2.5% to 9.9% – the greatest gain overall. Asian groups increase their share by three percentage points, black groups by two percentage points, and Chinese and other ethnic groups by 2.6 percentage points.

The report also supports previous studies, which have shown Britain will be the Western world’s most ethnically diverse nation after 2050, with the possibility that the population from the five largest distinct black and minority ethnic communities could rocket from eight million, to 23 million people by 2051. By then the UK’s population is forecast to hit 77 million.

Britannia Could Break Up Under Mass Immigration Pressures

The Guardian: "Ethnic minorities to make up 20% of UK population by 2051 compared with 8% in 2001 - Projection of British population over 40 years shows sharp growth in ethnic groups outside of white British majority."

The Express: "UK ethnic population to boom to 1 in 3 Brits by 2051, new study reveals - ONE in three people in Britain will be from an ethnic minority by the middle of the century, a report forecasts today."

The Sun: "Melting pot UK"
  • Third of population non-white by 2051
  • MPs warned not to ignore minority vote

With the hard copy newspaper edition even headlining that whites are a minority by 2051

The Telegraph: "Ethnic minorities will make up fifth of population by 2051. Ethnic minorities are set to make up a fifth of the population by 2051, according to new research."

The BBC .... well as usual where immigration is in the news, the story was hidden away .... "UK's ethnic minority numbers 'to rise to 20% by 2051' The UK's population is set to become even more diverse with ethnic minorities set to make up a fifth of the UK population in 40 years, a University of Leeds study predicts."

All this without a shot being fired as the events unfold, or the natives ever being consulted ... now that's how to carry out an invasion. I wonder if we are so browbeaten as a population, that we will standby and let this happen without a fight? Or maybe we want it .... I don't know, because we have never been asked.  For the record currently, one in three children in state schools today is already from an ethnic minority.

One has to ask the question, when did the UK's politicians ever ask the native British if it was OK to wipe them from the map .... because whether you think that its going to be in 2051 AD .... or maybe 20 - 30 years later, at some point before 2100 AD, Britain will become a non native population majority country, and will be far more 'diverse' than the USA. That fact will never be reversed, and our history as a basically European nation may simply cease forever.

In the meantime, if this 'Globalisation / Multiculturalism' is such a good thing;
  • Will India allow 20% of its population to emigrate from Africa? 
  • Will Pakistan suddenly allow 18% of it population to come from Burma? 
  • Will 5% of Chinas population come from White immigration? 

In other words, if 'racial multiculturalism' is so good for us in the UK, why is all the rest of the world not practising it?

Well probably because its dangerous PC nonsense, that only white majority countries follow, and hardly anyone else thinks is good.

How The West Differed From The East

When Islam first arose, many Christian scholars thought that it was some sort of Christian creed ~ possibly heretical, but a creed with which we might have some sort of debate ..... of course they soon found out differently, and in the centuries since, the two civilisations have grown further apart, not closer together, but as we largely didn't inhabit the same space, we rarely clashed anymore ~ except for those poor Christian souls who lived under Muslim domination (won't be any of them left by 2050 AD).

However we are now being forced to share the same space (well in the West), because a generation of Western politicians are too ignorant of Islam to understand that there can be no compromise with it, and that its either Islam, or our secular societies, which will have to break.

Looking back in to antiquity, there was a time when it could be argued that Islam was a coherent civilisation .... but it should also be recalled, that when Islam conquered its way out of Arabia in the 7th century, the ancient civilisations of antiquity were weak ... in the East, Persia had been through another of its civil wars, and followed it up with a war with the Byzantine's over the Middle East. While in the West, apart from the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire, the old Roman world was in a state of collapse. Pagans ruled in Britain and much of Gaul, while the rest of the old Empire had been overrun by Germanic tribes of varying religious sensibilities, who were now sitting atop the remains of the old imperial civil service. North Africa was under the Vandals, Spain was under the Visigoths and much of Italy had been ruled by the Ostrogoths, who although Christian were also 'Arian' Christians (a heresy to the Catholics), until these were replaced by the Lombards. The Byzantine's were also fighting in parts of Italy, to retain some presence of the 'Roman' Empire in its birth place.

All of these Western states outside of Byzantine control, were either Pagan, or under the rule of a Christian sect that was in conflict with the others ... Catholic versus Orthodox, and both against the Arians and the Pagans. In the East, the state religion of Persia was Zoroastrianism which was largely a religion practised only in Persia (the diaspora only occurred after the Arab invasions eradicated the religion from its homeland).

So they were all, in most cultural and intellectual senses, sterile and or, decaying regimes (although they may have revived later, but for subsequent events), trying hard to come to terms with a world that was overrun with groups they perceived as being barbarians. The Byzantines for example, were already tied to a form of Emperor worship that placed him (or her), above the church and just below Jesus (a form of rule by emperor and church, that survived in Tzarist Russia until the 1917 revolution) ... hence the disagreements with the Bishops of Rome, who didn't hold this view. Certainly the Byzantines had abandoned much of the sciences that their Greek and Roman heritages had bequeathed them, even writing over old science manuscripts to make yet more prayer books, all the while riven by iconoclastic disputes.

Into this arena, the Arabs stormed with their 'one way' religion, and in the main they found the Middle East, North Africa and Spain an easy area to conquer, often with comparatively small armies of between 12,000 and 20,000 men at arms. When you think that the Romans in their pomp had regularly fielded armies of up to 50-60,000 or more men, you can see how things had degraded.

Europe At Start Of 7th Century And Arab Conquests ~ The Visigoths Fell Next.

The Arabs picked up the learning and scholarship of their Roman, Greek, Persian, and even their Hindu subject populations, and to be fair saved much of it, and then went on and actually enhanced on some of it, thus entering the 'Islamic Golden Age', when learning and investigation was allowed. Indeed, compared to the stifling of non religious intellectual thought, that the Christian Orthodox and Catholic religions represented, they appeared to be the successors to the intellectual freedoms and religious tolerance of the great empires that had preceded them.

This Islamic Golden Age was marked by great intellectual and cultural creativity - the Abbasid court in Baghdad valued literature and music, and fostered world-changing advances in medicine, science and mathematics ..... but by the fall of the Abbasid Caliphate with the Mongol invasions and the Sack of Baghdad in 1258, the intellectual freedoms had already been eroded (only in India under the Moghuls did it revive later in the 16th century). The early movements that had encouraged philosophy and scientific enquiry, had, even by as early as by 885 AD, been halted and new intellectual enquiry even reversed, when it even became a crime to copy books of Greek philosophy (which had too many opinions contradicting the Koran).

There was then the rise of the anti-rationalist Ash’ari school of thought, whose increasing dominance is often pointed at as being linked to the decline of Arabic science. The Ash’arites, pushed for an ethos in the Islamic world, that was increasingly opposed to any original scholarship, and in fact frowned severely upon any scientific inquiry that did not directly aid in the religious regulation of private and public life. The high point of this was led by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, who in his book 'The Incoherence of the Philosophers', vigorously attacked all philosophy and philosophers. Not just the Greek philosophers themselves, but their followers in the Muslim world such as Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Al-Farabi (Alpharabius).

 Ibn Sina (Avicenna) - The Greatest Arab Philosopher.

The Arab / Islamic world then coasted along, largely on what it had gleaned from Western and Eastern antiquity, and what it had added to with its discoveries in its golden period (including some ideas from the distant Chinese, who were intellectually following their own path in science ... much like the Indian world) ... while the West was of course well behind, and still struggling to get out of the scientific rut that the so called 'dark ages' represented. It's sometimes supposed that the 'dark ages' meant no debate or progress in Europe, but in fact there was much intellectual debate in the West, but like the later Arab world, it was largely theological in nature, and restricted to those whose could read and write in Latin.

However with the emergence of natural science philosophers such as Roger Bacon in the 13th century, the signs of Western Europe's revival were there, but it wasn't until the start of the renaissance in 14th century Italy, that the West fully caught up with its own past achievements, and started to surpass the achievements of ancient Rome, and then the Arab world ... this was because in the West, the 'Universal Church' as it was known, was challenged, firstly by the Protestant faith, and then by a scientific community, increasingly protected by the secular authorities, who felt able to challenge church notions, such as the idea that the Earth was the centre of the universe (Heliocentricism).

Giordano Bruno - A Martyr To Progress

Giordano Bruno's burning at the stake in 1600, Galileo's forced recantation in 1616 under threat of the same, and the burning of philosopher Lucilio Vanini in 1619 for being atheistic in his writings, effectively marked the end of the Churches power over science in Western Europe. In the East of Europe the Orthodox world stifled these challenges, and continued with the Emperor as 'anointed one' idea, firstly in the Byzantine Empire until its fall, and then in the Russian Empire of the Tzar's, so no scientific revival occurred until late in the 19th century (much to its cost even up until today).

So while theology had taken a permanent and stifling grip on the intellectual freedom in the Islamic world, the opposite was happening in the West ... and within a hundred years of Galileo's bitter words of recantation, the science of the West had leapt past the Arab world, the Indian world, and was passing the Chinese world by as well. So while it may be correct to concede that for a number of centuries the Muslim world was better organised in both a social and scientific sense, there was a slow but definite strangulation in their intellectual pursuits, as the theologians became the principal source of what was called 'knowledge' in that world ... something that any observer can see is still the case today (except perhaps in an Iran, which is showing small signs of changes, although still pursuing the Shia 'Bomb').

We are now in the 21st Christian century, and in the West anyone from a hundred and fifty, or even a hundred years ago, would struggle to recognise the social layout of society. Universal suffrage for all sexes, Adult literacy rates close to 100%, Women's rights are all but a certainty, Homosexuality and other sexual mores are tolerated or equalised ... but in the Islamic world, women's right are but a strange idea to be resisted ~ often by pretending that they already exist in Islam, so there's nothing to demand ~ homosexuality (although widely practised), is almost always a death sentence, and there is no science worthy of the name (making their own Sunni 'nuclear bomb' in Pakistan was hailed a great achievement, and as already mentioned, is now also Shia Irans aim) ... poverty of ambition, thought, freedom and intellectual pursuits, held that way by massive violence to dissenters, are the hall marks of the Islamic world, and yet, as discussed in an earlier post, they claim they are superior to us.

You need to have a very blinkered view of the world today to see Islam as superior, but then as one of my co-workers proudly told me 'I only have one book in my house, that's all I need to teach my son'.

You can guess what book that was.

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A middle aged orange male ... So 'un' PC it's not true....