Happy New Year 2015

New Year, New Me! LOL, JK.

Brace yourself guys, it’s that time of year again when everyone and their maw Facebooks, Tweets and Instagrams about their resolutions. Pfffft. I know, I know, it’ll fizzle out soon, I promise.

shiteI might not always post my resolutions online, but every year I make a mental note of some things I want to do or change about myself in the coming year, but do you know what? It’s all a load of shite.

Your News Feed is swamped by it: deffos losing 3 stone this year… deffos going to start going to the gym… deffos getting fit… deffos getting a six pack… deffos eating healthy… deffos marrying Selena Gomez this year… the list could go on and on. But let’s be honest, has anyone in the history of humanity ever actually kept a News Year’s resolution? Nah, didn’t think so.

New Year, New Me!So see this year, my New Year’s resolution is not to have a New Year’s resolution. I’ll do whatever I fancy, regardless of the fact that it’s the beginning of a new year. If I want to get built like Schwarzenegger or marry Selena Gomez, I bloody well will. As you can tell, I’m all about realistic resolutions.*

*That’s a lie, I’m all about the bass.

The 'C' Word

Amen, Lauren. Amen.

Ebola Virus

Ebola’s in Scotland and I’m No Feart

WE’RE AWW GONNIE DIEEEE. Nah, can you imagine?

I came in drunk from a night out last week (which is so unlike me, naat) and decided that the perfect accompaniment to my litre bottle of water and post-midnight munch would be a programme about Ebola that I had recorded on my TiVo box. As you do.

Things I learned that evening:

  • Ebola is a much older virus than you might think
  • It affected primates before it did us
  • It probably started in bats
  • It’s a completely horrendous way to die
  • Staying up for an hour to drink lots of water, having something to eat and watching a programme about Ebola will prevent you from getting a hangover the next day

Anyway, I got a news notification on my phone yesterday saying that Ebola had arrived in Glasgow which is just a few miles up the road from where I live. I’m pretty unconcerned. And here’s why:

Although Ebola is a pretty contagious virus, it’s nowhere near as virulent as, for example, Measles. It’s not airborne either. And you can only catch it by coming into contact with someone who as it, or more specifically their bodily juices.

Add to that the fact that we’re lucky enough to live in a country with one of the best healthcare systems in the world, and that our National Health Service has valuable experience in containing contagious diseases and well… we’re jammin’.

Courtesy of healthmap.org/ebola

Courtesy of healthmap.org/ebola

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a very small chance that I’ll end up with Ebola. But if I do, then I do – there’s not much I can really do about it. I mean I can try to prevent it my practicing sensible hygiene measures like regularly washing hands, using had sanitiser, doing my best not to touch my face and keeping the disco winching to a minimum. But apart from that, all you can really do is hope you don’t catch it and if you do, you know that your chance of surviving it is the best it can possibly be given how prepared the NHS is and that big drugs companies are already producing vaccines that look like they could be pretty effective, albeit scarce for the time being.

The bottom line is, we can’t start panicking over Ebola. Humans are overdue having some kind of pandemic and it’s going to happen sooner or later. We’re better placed than we’ve ever been to overcome it. Worrying gets you nowhere.

I don’t mean to be glib. I know Ebola is serious and that it’s killed thousands of people. We need to help the people in its epicentre in West Africa, protect ourselves as best we can and beat it. And we will.

mars

Would you go to Mars and never come back?

Chrisfer

Chrisfer and his geek glasses

I’m a geek. I know, you’re shocked. But I am. Self-confessed and proud. I even have the thick rimmed glasses to prove it. >

And as a geek, I naturally enjoy nothing better than a good science-based programme. I mean, if Discovery are running one of their special Space Days (or even better, weeks) then I’m all over it. And my TiVo box is almost always clogged up to the max with Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole. Series link, bitchezzz.

Orion

Orion Exploration Flight Test

Orion: nasa.gov

Anyway, this week NASA launched a rocket that could, one day, see humans walk on the surface of the Red Planet. For the geek inside me, this is unreal exciting. The program is called Orion and it marks the next step in human exploration of our solar system.

This got me thinking about another Martian mission in the pipeline called Mars One, which I had looked into a few months ago after seeing a documentary about it on the telly. It’s particularly interesting because for a start, it’s essentially a cross between Big Brother and space exploration (and BB is my guilty pleasure, I can’t lie) and because secondly Mars One wants to send humans to the dusty red rock in the sky and never return them back to earth. Essentially, Mars One wants to start colonising Mars.

How fooking amazing is that?

What even is Mars One?

mars

Mars: nasa.gov

As I understand it, Mars One is a project set up by private enterprise (not publicly funded like NASA is) that wants to raise some dolla to transport people in an economically viable manner to Mars with the ultimate aim of making humans a multi-planetary species. And one way they want to earn the money to do it is by making a reality show out of the project and selling the broadcasting rights to TV networks across the globe. I know I’d watch it.

The company also wants to cut costs by making the Martian trips one-way only. I imagine that researching and developing safe methods of getting people back to planet Earth safely is rather time consuming and costly. So Mars One simply plans to plonk you on the planet and leave you there until you die.

But it goes even further than that. Some scientists have even considered turning Mars into a second planet Earth that humans could inhabit and go for a stroll outside without the need to even wear a spacesuit. “How is that even possible?” I hear you ask. The answer: terraforming.

We all know that us humans have warmed up our native planet by polluting it with greenhouse gases. And if you don’t believe that, please leave my blog now and never return. Lolz. Seriously but, climate change deniers get on my tits. Nearly as much as UKIPpers, but let’s not get into them… that’s a different blog post entirely. But the same ‘greenhouse effect’ could actually be beneficial on Mars. You see, Mars lost its atmosphere a long time ago when the planet died (the volcanos stopped erupting and so the planet lost a magnetic field, the kind that is essential to life on Earth).

Terraforming Mars

Creating a new planet Earth

Creating a new planet Earth

If we were to purposefully ‘pollute’ Mars with carbon dioxide for example, it would mean that we could possibly start to grow plants on the planet. They ‘breathe’ in CO2 and  ‘breathe’ out oxygen, which just happens to be the gas that us humans breathe in. So if we were to introduce enough CO2 to Mars and grow enough oxygen producing plants, we could end up creating an atmosphere on Mars that humans could breathe without needing a spacesuit. Covering Mars in trees and plants is known as terraforming. Even if you’re not into this sort of thing, you have to admit that is pretty cool.

We’re all going to die

As they say, all good things must come to and end, and our planet is no exception. It’s pretty clear that our little blue planet isn’t going to be able to support us for all eternity. So if we as humans are to survive as a species for as long as we possibly can, we need to obviously start inhabiting other planets. Or at least it’s obvious to me, but I discussed this with my American cousin one drunken night in Ireland and she didn’t agree. But, I think that every species has one fundamental, subconscious, primal instinct and that is to survive. And if us humans have evolved to the point that we can start considering colonising other nearby planets, why the hell shouldn’t we?

But would you die on Mars?

You’ve built a great many strong relationships here on Earth with your close friends and family. Do you really think you could give that up in order to be one of the first humans to live on Mars? I honestly don’t think I could. Whoever the first humans are to colonise Mars, they’re going to have to be a hell of a lot stronger than I am. If Mars One has anything to do with it, they’ll share every moment of their lives on television and live what I would think would be an awfully lonely existence. Until, at least a few more people join them on the project. Not only that but the first Martian settlers face other potentially lethal hazards. Deadly radiation from the Sun, for example.

Aurora as seen from the International Space Station: nasa.gov

Aurora as seen from the International Space Station: nasa.gov

Here on Earth, we’re incredibly lucky. We have an atmosphere that’s kind to our human lungs and we have an active molten iron core that keeps our planet ‘alive’. The liquid iron in the centre of our little rock is constantly churning and swirling, creating a magnetic field that helps shield us from the radiation spurted out by our Sun in the centre of our solar system. And that produces one of the most beautiful natural phenomena in the world – the Aurora Borealis, aka the ‘Northern Lights’.

Mars on the other hand has no such luxury. It’s essentially devoid of atmosphere because its atmospheric gases where blown off into space when its magnetic field shut down. Bummer. But if we could replace those lost gases with man-caused ones, we might just be able to turn Mars into a life supporting planet – a planet home to human life.

But what to you think? Would you be up for volunteering for a one-way trip to the Red Planet? Or do you think you’d miss your home comforts too much?

Either way, I’m sure it’s going to happen eventually. I just hope I live long enough to see it.

Deirdre Barlow Neck :S

Taylor Swift: Ultimate Bint?

So I come home from a long day at work, tired, hungry and vaguely pissed off (that’s what work does to you!). Luckily for me, I grabbed myself a Chicken Royale after work and now I’m home, feet up, TV on, ready to tuck in.

I open the brown paper bag – that I’ve probably just paid 5p for, #ripoff – and see much to my surprise and considerable disgust that instead of Burger King’s usual fries, they’ve given me their new low-fat, super-duper crinkle cut chips. This isn’t a good start. Although to be fair, I had made a mental promise to myself that this would be the week that I would finally enact my New Year’s Resolution and start eating more healthily. Better eleven months late than never, eh? But on the second day of the new, healthier me, here I am sitting on the couch junk food in hand. Aw well, as they say these days, YOLO.

Anyway, when I come home from work I usually like to flick the news on and see what I’ve missed. But ever since the Independence Referendum, me and the BBC News have suffered a great deterioration in our relationship. The kind that no amount of counselling can ever hope to overcome. So my only real choice of news outlet is Sky News. Same old headlines really: the coalition hate each other, ISIS is bad, there’s been a murder, etc, etc… but then a couple of stories caught my attention.

Wayne Rooney was filmed alongside Ed Sheeran, completely murdering one his songs as Ed played the guitar and basically pissed himself laughing at Rooney’s poor effort. Even the usually stoic Sky newscaster cracked a smile and delivered the completely predictable but nevertheless obligatory line:  “Don’t give up the day job, Wayne!”

The other story was about Taylor Swift, one of the richest young artists on the planet, deciding that people shouldn’t be allowed to listen to her music for free on the Spotify streaming service. Which led me to ponder: is Taylor Swift in fact the ultimate bint?

And so it came to be that Princess Swift, from her golden, ruby-encrusted throne did declare that the commoners should only be permitted the Devine privilege of listening to her hallowed tunes should they contribute further to her almost unfathomable wealth.

Sky News said that Taylor was of the opinion that music should be paid for and shouldn’t be free. I thought I was being Punk’d. Here’s me sitting in my living room looking for the hidden cameras and waiting on Ashton to jump out at any second. Is this bitch for realsies?

This revelation led me to an obvious conclusion: Taylor’s just in it for the money. I mean, if you’re willing to deprive your fans access to your music because they can’t afford it, via a platform that does actually pay you everytime someone plays your content, then you’re obviously a greedy bint.

I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of Swiftypoo’s fanbase are teens. The same teens that are scarily technologically adept. They know where and how to illegally download music for which the artist doesn’t receive a penny.

Artists like Taylor Swift are paid, according to the report, between 0.5p and 0.7p each time one of their songs is played. That doesn’t sound like much, but Spotify only keep around 30% of revenues for themselves, meaning the remaining 70% goes to the record companies and artists. Add to that the fact that the most popular artists on Spotify receive around £200,000 a month in royalties from the service and, it might just be me, but I really struggle to understand Taylor’s point of view.

In fact, I’ve just checked my iTunes there and found that I have a total of four T Swift songs in my Library. The most played one has a play count of 268. Had I listened to the same song on Spotify 268 times, I would have paid 187.6p in to the Swiftilicious purse. And considering I actually paid just 99p to download and keep the song, able to play it an unlimited amount of times… maths obviously isn’t Taylor’s strong suit. As a Sky newscaster once almost said: “Don’t give up the day job, hen.”