I Said He Would Be Entertaining.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

donaldtrump

Say what you like about him, but he is entertaining. Trump is already making what was looking like one of the dullest election campaigns in history into something worth looking at – just now and again though.

The latest nonsense comes from the business world, namely Macy’s, NBC and Univision.

Macy’s has decided to drop Trump-related merchandise, and the other two are going to break off ties (pun, tee-hee!) with the Donald.

The Macy’s decision is fairly clear, they’d rather run away from controversy and lose money than ride out the storm. I wonder do they sell goods manufactured in the sweat shops of the world, often by children? Maybe we should look in their hypocrisy department – fourth floor next to the white flags if I remember correctly?

waving white surrender flag

However, no one knows exactly what the NBC and Univision decision means in practical terms. For example, will they sell their half of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants and if they do who will they sell it to? Or will they buy Trump’s half which will mean giving him top dollar for the shows because I don’t think he will let them away softly. In fact he would be within his rights to sue NBC for breach of contract relating to the pageants if this dodgy decision leads to a cancellation.

Either way it will be more wealth for Trump, which is probably what the move was designed NOT to do when they were thinking about it. That’s assuming they did think about it, which appears increasing unlikely.

trump two fingers

Neither has NBC given great thought as to who is going to host “The Apprentice” in a post-Trump era. They’ve hinted that they are going to look for a new star to replace Trump on the long-running reality show, but he’ll be a hard act to follow. Maybe it’s a chance for another dose of the limelight for the Shark Tank’s Mr Wonderful or even Mark Cuban, both of whom seem to thrive on the small screen and both of whom seem to have egos on the grand scale.

This hasty decision also leaves a BIG question mark about the partiality of these TV companies during the election race. Will they – or perhaps better, can they – continue to cover Trump fairly as a presidential candidate?

Former President Bush, President Bush and Governor Bush depart the christening ceremony of the USS George H.W. Bush in Virginia

Then there’s former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, part of the Bush, Bush and Bush super wealthy and well connected dynasty who want the big seat in the White House again. Jeb has said his decision to run for the Republican nomination will be based on two things: his family and whether he can lift America’s spirit.

After the great job his father and big brother did as President in lifting America’s spirits (a little sarcasm there) how could the voters do anything other than make him the GOP Presidential candidate? Oh dear me!

Despite the family history, Bush seems to be making good progress so far. But he had an easy start, because prior to the arrival of Trump on the scene he had no high profile rival. He still holds a significant lead over the second-place Trump.

Some think Jeb Bush would be the best candidate to handle illegal immigration and social issues. Just like his brother perhaps, see video.

On the economy Trump would probably be favorite, especially after the way Dubya Bush let spending go out of control during the latter stages of his war-mongering Presidency.

Apart from these two, although there are numerous others in the field,there does not seem to be any other close runners. Not yet anyway. But things in election races can always change suddenly as a skeleton or two tumble from their closets.

Trump is trying to capitalize on his business background. There is no doubt that that gives him an advantage over the career politicians. In business Trump lives or dies by his decisions. As for the Senators and Governor would-be’s, they are used to other people paying for their mistakes not them personally. It’s a significant difference in the mindsets of the two types of contender.

There is no doubt that Trump is correct when he says that the “American public is ready for a leader with a proven track record of success.” This is particular so after eight years of a dithering Obama administration.

Whether or not “Eighty percent of Central American girls and women are raped crossing into the United States,” one would have thought that America was ready for someone who wasn’t afraid to tell it how it is, instead of trying to pander to every minority viewpoint be it legitimate or crazy.

In politics a bit of controversy is always…

what’s the word….

“Entertaining?” That’s it.

trump with hand mic

As if to emphasize the fact, contrast what is going on in the Republican camp with the Democrats.

Hillary Clinton launched her presidential bid via a lackluster video message on social media way back in April and she continues to be the overwhelming front-runner among Democratic hopefuls for the White House job.

In fact the Democrat competition has turned into an amalgamation of Dullsville & Boringtown. There’s only one horse (make that horse’s ass) in the running. What she needs to blow all that cash for I don’t know. Build a hospital ward for the poor you dummy, you’re already selected.

hillary rodham clinton presidential bid 2016

Vice President Joe Biden, who has twice before made unsuccessful bids for the Oval Office – in 1988 and 2008 – might make another one, unsuccessful one that is. Recently he has said he thinks he’d “make a good President.” He is perhaps basing that on comments in the press that he is known for his foreign policy and national security expertise. He shouldn’t, because during the past eight years he has shown absolutely no grasp of either foreign affairs or national security.

Of course, it may well be that come the actual Presidential election next year, it will be Jeb versus Hillary and dull as they are the Democrats may win again. In a democracy the voters sometimes get it wrong.

In the meantime I’m still finding the Donald’s entry into the fray, what’s that word again….

“Entertaining!”

.

===================================

The Big Easy Quiz.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

Well maybe not just so easy a quiz as all that. You’ll find out below, and why I called it that too.

All the usual mixture of questions are here.

And as usual if you get stuck you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

.

Quiz 4

.

Q.  1:  What city is known as ‘The Big Easy’ ?

.

.

Q.  2:  What color are the flowers of the ‘harebell’ ?

            a)  red            b) green            c) blue            d) yellow

.

.

Q.  3:  What is the name of the process in which a solid turns directly into a gas, without passing through the liquid phase?

.

.

Q.  4:  What is the largest wild member of the dog family?

.

.

Q.  5:  Which element has the symbol ‘Au’ ?

.

.

Q.  6:  What is the electrical unit of resistance?

.

.

Q.  7:  Who invented the jet engine in 1930?

.

.

Q.  8:  How many sheets of paper are there in a ‘ream’ ?

.

.

Q.  9:  It is called the ‘Hunter’ and consists of 3 stars, what is the proper name of this constellation?

.

.

Q. 10:  What did the British government do on the roads in order to reduce accidents in 1925?

.

.

Q. 11:  What is a ‘Flemish giant’ ?

.

.

Q. 12:  The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. You get a point if you can name any of the four largest islands that make up this group. (If you can correctly name more than one, give yourself a bonus point for each.)

.

.

Q. 13:  If you were ‘purling’, what activity would you be doing?

.

.

Q. 14:  Which famous battle was fought on June 18 1815?

.

.

Q. 15:  In which country was the world’s first female Prime Minister elected in 1960?

.

.

Q. 16:  What is the name of Long John Silver’s parrot?

.

.

Q. 17:  This is the name of a famous bicycle manufacturing company, the capital city of a state in the US, and of a writer, poet, soldier, politician, courtier, spy, and explorer in Elizabethan England, what is it?

.

.

Q. 18:  Who created the famous sculptures ‘The Thinker’ and ‘The Kiss’ ?

.

.

Q. 19:  A lot of us now use it, but what does the acronym ‘VOIP’ stand for?

.

.

Q. 20:  Which group’s best-known recording is the 1967 single ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ ?

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

ANSWERS

.

Q.  1:  What city is known as ‘The Big Easy’ ?

A.  1:  New Orleans is known as ‘The Big Easy’.

.

.

Q.  2:  What color are the flowers of the harebell?

            a)  red            b) green            c) blue            d) yellow

A.  2:  The correct answer is c) blue.

.

.

Q.  3:  What is the name of the process in which a solid turns directly into a gas, without passing through the liquid phase?

A.  3:  The process is called ‘sublimation’.

.

.

Q.  4:  What is the largest wild member of the dog family?

A.  4:  The wolf.

.

.

Q.  5:  Which element has the symbol ‘Au’ ?

A.  5:  Gold.

.

.

Q.  6:  What is the electrical unit of resistance?

A.  6:  The ‘ohm’.

.

.

Q.  7:  Who invented the jet engine in 1930?

A.  7:  Frank Whittle.

.

.

Q.  8:  How many sheets of paper are there in a ‘ream’ ?

A.  8:  500.

.

.

Q.  9:  It is called the ‘Hunter’ and consists of 3 stars, what is the proper name of this constellation?

A.  9:  It is ‘Orion’s belt’.

.

.

Q. 10:  What did the British government do on the roads in order to reduce accidents in 1925?

A. 10:  They painted white lines.

.

.

Q. 11:  What is a ‘Flemish giant’ ?

A. 11:  I’m tempted to give you a point if you said “A big Belgian’ but I won’t. You get the point if you said a Flemish giant was a Rabbit.

.

.

Q. 12:  The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. You get a point if you can name any of the four largest islands that make up this group. (If you can correctly name more than one, give yourself a bonus point for each.)

A. 12:  The four largest Balearic islands are Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera.

.

.

Q. 13:  If you were ‘purling’, what activity would you be doing?

A. 13:  You’d be knitting.

.

.

Q. 14:  Which famous battle was fought on June 18 1815?

A. 14:  The Battle of Waterloo.

.

.

Q. 15:  In which country was the world’s first female Prime Minister elected in 1960?

A. 15:  Sri Lanka (or Ceylon as it was then – the woman in question being Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike)

.

.

Q. 16:  What is the name of Long John Silver’s parrot?

A. 16:  Captain Flint.

.

.

Q. 17:  This is the name of a famous bicycle manufacturing company, the capital city of a state in the US, and of a writer, poet, soldier, politician, courtier, spy, and explorer in Elizabethan England, what is it?

A. 17:  It is ‘Raleigh’. Raleigh is a famous bicycle manufacturing company, Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina, and the famous Elizabethan was Sir Walter Raleigh.

.

.

Q. 18:  Who created the famous sculptures ‘The Thinker’ and ‘The Kiss’ ?

A. 18:  Auguste Rodin.

.

.

Q. 19:  A lot of us now use it, but what does the acronym ‘VOIP’ stand for?

A. 19:  Voice Over Internet Protocol.

.

.

Q. 20:  Which group’s best-known recording is the 1967 single ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ ?

A. 20:  Procol Harum. (Here it is….)

.

.

====================================

.

FAREWELL 2014

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

Hi folks,

Last day of this year and time for my recollections of 2014’s main events.

As always this is by no means meant to be a complete coverage of all the events that happened during 2014, just a personal blog post about some of the things I remember, and a few that I had forgotten until I started to compile this list.

I hope you enjoy.

.

farewell 2014

.

The Weather

We will start off with the weather since so many of us seem to be obsessed with it.

  • In the United States there were weather extremes. In California, for example, January was the warmest and driest on record in San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles. Only four other Januaries since 1878 had been completely dry in Los Angeles until January 2014. Alaskans experienced their third warmest January in 96 years of record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

California drought 2014

  • In many parts of the Midwest, on the other hand, 2014 was the coldest winter since the late 1970s or early 1980s. And some southern states of the US became the victims of, firstly, winter storm Kronos which brought a rare blanket of snow as far south as Louisiana, and sleet as far south as Harlingen, Texas and Pensacola, Fla. in late January, and then, just days later, a second winter storm, Leon, hit many of the same areas causing commuter chaos in both Birmingham, Ala. and Atlanta. Leon also spread ice and sleet to the Gulf Coast, including the Florida Panhandle, and the Low country of South Carolina.
  • And worse was on the way. Winter Storm Pax deposited an inch or more of ice in a swath from east-central Georgia into South Carolina, including Augusta, Ga. and Aiken, S.C. Pax was the second heaviest ice storm dating to 1947 in Wilmington, N.C. The accumulation of ice from Pax claimed the famed “Eisenhower tree” at the Augusta National Golf Club. Pax marked the first time since January 1940 that Columbia, S.C. saw snowfall for three straight days.

Winter Storm Pax Washington

  • In complete contrast, the week after Pax, Columbia, S.C. tied its all-time February high of 84 degrees. Augusta, Ga. warmed into the 80s two straight days on Feb. 19-20.
  • Elsewhere in the world, severe Atlantic winter storms took their toll on many parts of England which in 2014 experienced storms and rain not seen since the late 19th century.

Atlantic winter storms Cornwall England

  • In Tokyo, Japan, which usually averages only about 4 inches of snow each year, there were also severe snow storms. In February, snow blanketed the city with 11 inches of snow in less than a week, the heaviest snowfall in 45 years for Tokyo and in 60 years for the city of Kumagaya, northwest of Tokyo. The following weekend, parts of eastern Japan, including parts of the Tokyo metro area, received another round of snow. Some smaller communities were isolated by more than 3 feet of snow.
  • And in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology reported that more than 10 percent of Queensland and almost 15 percent of New South Wales experienced their record hottest day on Jan. 3. A second heat wave hit parts of southern Australia in mid-January, with temperatures peaking above 41 degrees Celsius (just under 106 degrees Fahrenheit) for four straight days from Jan. 14-17, and reaching a sizzling 43.9 degrees C (111 degrees F) on both Jan. 16 and 17.

australia heat wave 2014

.

Business and Technology

  • In the world of business and technology 2014 was the year the Obama administration decided to stop inversion deals, where US companies bought foreign domiciled businesses and moved their profit centers to a much more tax friendly location.
  • In technology buys, one of the largest was Facebook’s purchase of smartphone application WhatsApp for $19 Billion.

14.02.19-Facebook-WhatsApp

  • In other sectors 2014 saw world oil price plunge to around $50 per barrel, good news for consumers, not so good for producers.
  • Under pressure from the fall in oil and gas prices, along with the economic sanctions imposed by the west because of the ongoing situation in the Ukraine, the Russian Ruble went into free fall in December.

APphoto_Russia Economy

  • Also in 2014, in March, the United Nations International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s Antarctic whaling program was not scientific but commercial and refused to grant further permits.
  • With Quantitative Easing having been ended in the US (for the moment anyway) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced plans for a new $29 billion fresh stimulus, including subsidies and job-creating programs, to help pull the world’s third-largest economy out of recession.

Quantitative Easing cartoon

  • After their embarrassing foul up last Christmas, this year both FedEx and UPS managed to deliver more than 99 percent of express packages as promised on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, according to shipment tracker ShipMatrix.
  • South Korean prosecutors arrested a government official who allegedly leaked information about an investigation into former Korean Air Lines executive Cho Hyun-ah, who forced a flight to return over a bag of macadamia nuts. Most of the rest of the world tends to think that the idiot executive should suffer the consequences of her stupidity, not the whistleblower.

korean-air-lines-macademia-nut-scandal Cho Hyun-ah

  • And finally, after their embarrassing hack attack and cringe-worthy capitulation to what amounted to a terrorist cyber attack which was rightly criticized publicly by President Obama, Sony finally decided to release its movie ‘The Interview’.

Rogan Franco The-Interview

.

.

Conflicts, Wars & Terrorism

Unfortunately 2014 saw many conflicts and acts of terrorism.

  • In April an estimated 276 girls and women were abducted and held hostage from a school in Nigeria. The following month, Boko Haram militants killed approximately 300 people in a night attack on Gamboru Ngala and terrorists in Nigeria detonated bombs at Jos, killing 118 people.

Boko Haram militants killed approximately 300 people Gamboru Ngala

  • June saw the emergence of a Sunni militant group called the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’ (also known as the ‘ISIS’ or ‘ISIL’). It began an offensive throughout northern Iraq, with the aim of eventually capturing the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad and overthrowing the Shiite government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The group has been responsible for beheading of hundreds of people including several from the United States.

Sunni militant group called the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’

  • In July and August tensions between Israel and Hamas grew following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June and the revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in July. Israel launched ‘Operation Protective Edge’ on the Palestinian Gaza Strip starting with numerous missile strikes, followed by a ground invasion a week later. In 7 weeks of fighting, 2,100 Palestinians and 71 Israelis were killed.
  • Also in July, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777, crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 souls on board. There are conflicting claims as to who was responsible, some blaming pro Russian forces for a missile strike and others blaming Ukrainian forces.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

  • In August and September the United States military began an air campaign in northern Iraq to stem the influx of ISIS militants and the following month the United States and several Arab partners began an airstrike campaign in Syria.

Expect more on these stories during 2015.

Departures

During 2014 we said farewell to many well know people from various walks of life. Here is just my selection of those I remember.

From Literature

Sue Townsend

British novelist and playwright (b. 1946)

SueTownsend

.

P. D. James

British writer and life peer

(b. 1920)

P. D. James

.

From Movies & TV

Roger Lloyd-Pack

British actor

(b. 1944)

Roger Lloyd-Pack

.

Maximilian Schell

Austrian-Swiss actor

(b. 1930)

Maximilian Schell

.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

American actor

(b. 1967)

Philip Seymour Hoffman

.

Shirley Temple

American actress and diplomat

(b. 1928)

shirley_temple

.

Sid Caesar

American actor

(b. 1922)

Sid Caesar

.

Harold Ramis

American film director,

writer, and actor

(b. 1944)

Harold Ramis

.

Mickey Rooney

American actor

(b. 1920)

Mickey Rooney

.

Bob Hoskins

British actor

(b. 1942)

Bob Hoskins

.

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

American actor

(b. 1918)

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr

.

Rik Mayall

British comedian,

writer and actor

(b. 1958)

Rik Mayall

.

Casey Kasem

American radio host

and voice actor

(b. 1932)

Casey Kasem

.

Eli Wallach

American actor

(b. 1915)

Eli Wallach

.

Elaine Stritch

American actress and singer

(b. 1925)

Elaine Stritch

.

James Garner

American actor

(b. 1928)

James Garner

.

Menahem Golan

Israeli filmmaker

(b. 1929)

Menahem Golan

.

Robin Williams

American actor and comedian

(b. 1951)

Robin Williams

.

Lauren Bacall

American actress

(b. 1924)

Lauren Bacall

.

Richard Attenborough

British actor and film director

(b. 1923)

Richard Attenborough

.

Joan Rivers

American comedian, actress,

and television host

(b. 1933)

Joan Rivers

.

Richard Kiel

American actor (b. 1939)

Richard Kiel

.

Polly Bergen

American actress

(b. 1930)

Polly Bergen

.

Ken Takakura

Japanese actor

(b. 1931)

Ken Takakura

.

Warren Clarke

English actor

(b. 1947)

Warren-Clarke

.

Glen A. Larson

American television producer

and writer

(b. 1937)

Glen A. Larson

.

Virna Lisi

Italian actress

(b. 1936)

Virna Lisi

.

Billie Whitelaw

English actress

(b. 1932)

Billie Whitelaw

.

Luise Rainer

Golden Age actress

“The Great Ziegfeld”

(b. 1910)

Luise Rainer with oscars

.

.

From Music

Pete Seeger

American singer, songwriter,

musician, and activist

(b. 1919)

Pete Seeger

.

Johnny Winter

American singer and guitarist

(b. 1944)

Johnny Winter

.

Glenn Cornick

British bass guitarist

(b. 1947)

Glenn Cornick

.

Jack Bruce

British rock bassist

(b. 1943)

Jack Bruce

.

Acker Bilk

British jazz clarinetist

(b. 1929)

Acker Bilk

.

Joe Cocker

English singer

(b. 1944)

Joe Cocker

.

From Politics

Zbigniew Messner

9th Prime Minister of the

People’s Republic of Poland

(b. 1929)

Zbigniew Messner

.

Ariel Sharon

11th Prime Minister of Israel

(b. 1928)

Ariel Sharon

.

Tony Benn

British politician and diarist

(b. 1925)

Tony Benn

.

Adolfo Suárez

138th Prime Minister of Spain

(b. 1932)

Adolfo Suárez

.

James R. Schlesinger

American economist and politician

(b. 1929)

James R. Schlesinger

.

A. N. R. Robinson

3rd President of Trinidad and Tobago

(b. 1926)

A. N. R. Robinson

.

Howard Baker

American politician and diplomat

(b. 1925)

Howard Baker

.

Eduard Shevardnadze

2nd President of Georgia

(b. 1928)

Eduard Shevardnadze

.

Albert Reynolds

Irish Taoiseach (prime minister)

(b. 1932)

Albert Reynolds

.

Ian Paisley

British politician and

First Minister of Northern Ireland

(b. 1926)

Ian Paisley

.

Nicholas Romanov

Prince of Russia

(b. 1922)

Nicholas Romanov

.

Jean-Claude Duvalier

41st President of Haiti

(b. 1951)

Jean-Claude Duvalier

.

John Spencer-Churchill

11th Duke of Marlborough,

British peer and educator

(b. 1926)

John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough

.

Gough Whitlam

21st Prime Minister of Australia

(b. 1916)

Gough Whitlam

.

From Space Exploration

Valeri Kubasov

Soviet cosmonaut

(b. 1935)

Valeri Kubasov

.

Wubbo Ockels

Dutch astronaut and physicist

(b. 1946)

Wubbo Ockels

.

Henry Hartsfield

American colonel and astronaut

(b. 1933)

Henry Hartsfield

.

Anatoly Berezovoy

Soviet cosmonaut

(b. 1942)

Anatoly Berezovoy

.

From Sport

Eusébio

Portuguese footballer

(b. 1942)

Eusébio

.

Mae Young

American professional wrestler

(b. 1923)

Mae Young

.

Louise Brough

American tennis player

(b. 1923)

Louise Brough

.

Tom Finney

English footballer

(b. 1922)

Tom Finney

.

Nelson Frazier, Jr.

American professional wrestler

(b. 1971)

Nelson Frazier, Jr

.

Jimmy Ellis

American boxer

(b. 1940)

Jimmy_Ellis

.

Jack Brabham

Australian race car driver

(b. 1926)

Jack Brabham

.

Malcolm Glazer

American businessman,

owner of Manchester United

(b. 1928)

Malcolm Glazer

.

Valentin Mankin

Ukrainian sailor, Olympic triple champion

and silver medalist

(b. 1938)

Valentin Mankin

.

Fernandão

Brazilian footballer and manager

(b. 1978)

Fernandão

.

Alfredo Di Stéfano

Argentine-Spanish footballer

(b. 1926)

Alfredo-Di-Stefano-Dies-at-Age-88

.

Andriy Bal

Ukrainian football player and coach

(b. 1958)

Andriy Bal

.

Björn Waldegård

Swedish rally driver

(b. 1943)

Björn Waldegård

.

Andrea de Cesaris

Italian race car driver

(b. 1959)

Andrea de Cesaris

.

Health

  • The big health scare of 2014 that dominated the headlines was the of the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa in February, that initially infected over 19,000 people and killing at least 7,000, the most severe both in terms of numbers of infections and casualties.

ebola_map Africa

  • In other news, also in February, Belgium became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia for terminally ill patients of any age.

Politics

  • On January 1, Latvia officially adopted the Euro as its currency and became the 18th member of the Eurozone.
  • In February, the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office, replacing him with Oleksandr Turchynov, after days of civil unrest that left around 100 people dead in Kiev. The pro-Russian unrest lead to the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and an insurgency in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

President Viktor Yanukovych

  • In March, Nicolás Maduro, the President of Venezuela, severed diplomatic and political ties with Panama, accusing it of being involved in a conspiracy against the Venezuelan government.
  • Also in March, an emergency meeting, involving the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, and Canada temporarily suspended Russia from the G8.
  • In April, also in response to the Crimean crisis, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a resolution temporarily stripping Russia of its voting rights; its rights to be represented in the Bureau of the Assembly, the PACE Presidential Committee, and the PACE Standing Committee; and its right to participate in election-observation missions.
  • The same month, United States President Barack Obama began new economic sanctions against Russia, targeting companies and individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin Obama

  • In May the Royal Thai Army overthrew the caretaker government of Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan after a failure to resolve the political unrest in Thailand.
  • Back in Europe, in June, King Juan Carlos I of Spain abdicated in favor of his son, who ascended the Spanish throne as King Felipe VI.
  • And the political year ended on a positive note, with U.S. President Barack Obama announcing the resumption of normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba after more than half a century.

normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba

.

Space

  • The major space event of 2014 happened in November when the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Philae probe successfully landed on Comet 67P, the first time in history that a spacecraft has landed on such an object.

Rosetta Philae

Sport

  • The two major world sporting events of 2014 were the XXII Olympic Winter Games, held in Sochi, Russia in February, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil, and won by Germany, during June and July.

world-cup-2014-champions-germany-trophy

  • In American sport the Super Bowl was won by the Seattle Seahawks, the MLB World Series  winners were the San Francisco Giants and in basketball the San Antonio Spurs came out on top.
  • Ice Hockey had three champions in 2014, Canada becoming Olympic champions, Russia world champions and in the NHL the Los Angeles Kings were the victors.
  • In tennis at the world famous Wimbledon Tournament in England Novak Djokovic became Men’s Singles Champion and Petra Kvitova Ladies Singles Champion, while the men’s and women’s winners of the US Open were Marin Čilić  and Serena Williams respectively.

novak-djokovic-with-wimbledon-crown

  • In Soccer, as noted above, Germany won the 2014 World Cup. The European Champions League winners were Real Madrid and the English Premiership was won by Manchester City.
  • The Formula 1 motor racing champion for 2014 was British driver Lewis Hamilton, who also picked up the award of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
  • In golf’s major championships, the Masters Tournament, held in April, was won by Bubba Watson by three strokes. It was his second Masters championship.
  • May saw the BMW PGA Championship where young Northern Ireland man Rory McIlroy birdied the 18th hole to win by one stroke over Irishman Shane Lowry, who also birdied the 18th hole.
  • In June, U.S. Open winner was Martin Kaymer who won by eight strokes to become the first German player to win the U.S. Open, and the first player to win the Players Championship and the U.S. Open in the same year.
  • In July, the Open Championship Northern Ireland man Rory McIlroy, was on top again winning by two strokes over Rickie Fowler and Sergio García. It was his third career major championship, and his first Open Championship. With the win, he became the fourth player ever of 25 years old or under to have won at least three majors.
  • In August, McIlroy was back, winning the PGA Championship by one stroke over Phil Mickelson. He was having quite a year, it was his fourth career major and his second PGA Championship.PGA Champion Rory McIlroy
  • Then in September, in the Ryder Cup, Team Europe (also including McIlroy) defeated Team USA by a score of 16½ – 11½. It was the third consecutive Ryder Cup victory for Europe, and also Europe’s fifth consecutive home victory in the Ryder Cup.

Tragedies

  • In March Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 airliner en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, disappears over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board. The aircraft is presumed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean.
  • In April Korean ferry MV Sewol capsized and sunk after an unmanageable cargo shift. More than 290 people were killed, mostly high school students.

south-korea-ferry MV Sewol

  • In May hundreds of workers were killed in mining accident in Turkey.
  • In July, Air Algérie Flight 5017 crashed in Mali, killing all 116 people on board.
  • And just a few days ago AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed, wreckage has been found off the coast of Indonesia’s Kalimantan coast.

indonesia-airplane AirAsia flight flight QZ8501 airport notice board

 

Playing With Statistics

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

It’s Sunday so time for another Sunday Sermon.

There’s a famous quote from US President Abraham Lincoln that goes something like, “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time”.

On the face of it Lincoln’s words seem rather clever and profound – and true. And so they are.

Up to a point.

But what Lincoln didn’t say (and he was a politician after all) is that you don’t have to fool ALL of the people ALL of the time.

What you have to do is fool them long enough to do what you need to do – for example, in the case of a politician, to get yourself elected.  

 

graph Miss Universe

Which brings me to statistics.

Because the best people in the world at playing with statistics are politicians and governments.

Some people believe everything they are told. Others call the figures governments produce ‘disingenuous’ which is being very kind. And some don’t believe a word or a number that they produce. (Take a wild guess at which camp I am in.)

Government statistical results are in effect lies. You can’t call them that – although I just did – because they can find figures to back up what they say, it’s just that they choose the figures that tell the story they want to promote and ignore all the rest that tell a different story.

For example, to get on to one of my favorite rant subjects, there is a thing which I am sure most of you have never heard of called the ‘Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program’ or ‘SIGTARP’ for short.

When the government is challenged about what is has been doing to bring to justice the banksters, who stole and recklessly gambled away our money, they can quote you a statistic or two saying that over the last few years, SIGTARP has put over 100 senior bank executives in jail, each of whom was convicted of stealing from taxpayers.

Although that fact is ‘technically’ or ‘statistically’ true, what they don’t tell you is that the people they have gone after and convicted are all small time crooks, guilty of small time frauds that are seldom above $1m or $1.5 million in value.

All the super crooks who embezzled hundreds of $ billions and almost brought down the entire financial system aren’t even being seriously pursued. More than six years into the SIGTARP investigations there are literally still hundreds of billions of outstanding ‘loans’, from banks including Citi, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.

They can quote figures all day long to try to mislead the people and make themselves look good, but a few small time crooks thrown in jail for stealing a million or two dollars here and there isn’t ever going to make much of a dent in the $ billions that were stolen. The politicians know that as well as anyone.

Perhaps Mark Twain’s “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics,” might have been a better quote!

.

.

================================================

.

Quizzers, Your Moment Has Come!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

Hello to all you quizzers out there. Your moment has indeed come.

It’s time for the Monday quiz here at the fasab blog.

Another random selection of questions and as usual if you get stuck you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy, and good luck.

.

quiz 09

.

Q.  1:  What is the longest river in South America?

.

.

Q.  2:  Philip Pirrip is the central character in which famous Charles Dickens novel?

.

.

Q.  3:  ‘Firefly’, ‘The Mole’ and ‘Fab 2’ are all examples of what?

.

.

Q.  4:  This famous historical duke and his horse both had capital cities named after them. Can you name them? (A point for each correct answer.)

.

.

Q.  5:  The island of Zealand is part of which country?

.

.

Q.  6:  What is the name of the satirical novel by the American author Joseph Heller set during World War II from 1942 to 1944?

.

.

Q.  7:  What is the name of the Norwegian politician who became a puppet leader of his country during World War II, his name now a byword for treachery?

.

.

Q.  8:  This 1999 movie starring Will Smith, who also sang the title song, won five Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Couple, Worst Screenplay and Worst Original Song – what was it?

.

.

Q.  9:  Which island has the 2 official languages Sinhalese and Tamil?

.

.

Q. 10:  The site of this famous battle is now a National Monument, but in which American state did the Battle of The Little Bighorn take place?

.

.

Q. 11:  In order of popularity, can you name the world’s top three religions?

.

.

Q. 12:  Which South American city provides the setting for the 1982 movie ‘Missing’, starring Jack Lemmon?

.

.

Q. 13:  British Honduras is now called what?

.

.

Q. 14:  What Catholic Bishop was killed in Rome on February 14 AD 270?

.

.

Q. 15:  Where were the ‘Camp David Accords’ signed, and by whom?

.

.

Q. 16:  Who,  in the 1970s and at the age of forty-three, became the world’s first female President and the youngest Head of State in Latin America?

.

.

Q. 17:  Who founded the first US detective agency in 1850?

.

.

Q. 18:  For what invention is Earl Silas Tupper best known?

.

.

Q. 19:  Who said in a 1933 movie, “I could dance with you till the cows come home. On second thoughts, I’d rather dance with the cows till you came home” (A bonus point if you can name the movie.)

.

.

Q. 20:  Which super group were originally called the ‘New Yardbirds’?

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

ANSWERS

.

Q.  1:  What is the longest river in South America?

A.  1:  The Amazon.

.

.

Q.  2:  Philip Pirrip is the central character in which famous Charles Dickens novel?

A.  2:  Great Expectations.

.

.

Q.  3:  ‘Firefly’, ‘The Mole’ and ‘Fab 2’ are all examples of what?

A.  3:  Vehicles in the TV series Thunderbirds.

.

.

Q.  4:  This famous historical duke and his horse both had capital cities named after them. Can you name them? (A point for each correct answer.)

A.  4:  The famous historical duke is the Duke of Wellington, Wellington being the capital city of New Zealand;  the name of his horse was Copenhagen which is also the name of the capital city of Denmark.  

.

.

Q.  5:  The island of Zealand is part of which country?

A.  5:  Denmark.

.

.

Q.  6:  What is the name of the satirical novel by the American author Joseph Heller set during World War II from 1942 to 1944?

A.  6:  Catch-22.

.

.

Q.  7:  What is the name of the Norwegian politician who became a puppet leader of his country during World War II, his name now a byword for treachery?

A.  7:  Vidkun Quisling.

.

.

Q.  8:  This 1999 movie starring Will Smith, who also sang the title song, won five Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Couple, Worst Screenplay and Worst Original Song – what was it?

A.  8:  Wild, Wild West.

.

.

Q.  9:  Which island has the 2 official languages Sinhalese and Tamil?

A.  9:  Sri Lanka.

.

.

Q. 10:  The site of this famous battle is now a National Monument, but in which American state did the Battle of The Little Bighorn take place?

A. 10:  Montana.

.

.

Q. 11:  In order of popularity, can you name the world’s top three religions?

A. 11:  Christianity (2 billion followers approximately), Islam (1.6 billion) and Hinduism (1 billion).

.

.

Q. 12:  Which South American city provides the setting for the 1982 movie ‘Missing’, starring Jack Lemmon?

A. 12:  Santiago de Chile. (You get a point if you just said Santiago.)

.

.

Q. 13:  British Honduras is now called what?

A. 13:  Belize.

.

.

Q. 14:  What Catholic Bishop was killed in Rome on February 14 AD 270?

A. 14:  Did the date give it away? The answer is, St Valentine.

.

.

Q. 15:  Where were the ‘Camp David Accords’ signed, and by whom?

A. 15:  Although they are named after the location at which the secret negotiations preceding them took place, The ‘Camp David Accords’ were actually signed at the White House in Washington DC, by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on 17 September 1978, witnessed by United States President Jimmy Carter.

.

.

Q. 16:  Who, in the 1970s at the age of forty-three, became the world’s first female President and the youngest Head of State in Latin America?

A. 16:  Isabel Peron.

.

.

Q. 17:  Who founded the first US detective agency in 1850?

A. 17:  Allan Pinkerton.

.

.

Q. 18:  For what invention is Earl Silas Tupper best known?

A. 18:  The clue was in the name, the answer is ‘Tupperware’.

.

.

Q. 19:  Who said in a 1933 movie, “I could dance with you till the cows come home. On second thoughts, I’d rather dance with the cows till you came home” (A bonus point if you can name the movie.)

A. 19:  Groucho Marx in ‘Duck Soup’.

.

.

Q. 20:  Which super group were originally called the ‘New Yardbirds’?

A. 20:  Led Zeppelin.

.

.

=====================================================

.

The Quizzes March On!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

Another month and another quiz to get it off to a challenging start.

One or two relatively easy ones today, but I think most of them you will find tough enough.

As usual, if you get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

.

Quiz 5

.

Q.  1:  What is the official language of Brazil?

.

.

Q.  2:  Which wife of a politician said in 1981, ‘Woman is like a teabag: you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in the hot water’?

.

.

Q.  3:  Many expanses of water of varying sizes are designated as ‘seas’ such as the Mediterranean Sea, the Dead Sea, etc. But what is the only such sea in the world that does not have a coastline?

.

.

Q.  4:  What book was Denzel Washington protecting in the 2010 movie?

.

.

Q.  5:  What is both unusual and famous about the restaurant in Volterra, Italy called  “Fortezza Medicea”?

.

.

Q.  6:  In which city is the music recording company Motown based?

.

.

Q.  7:  The official country retreat of the President of the USA, Camp David, is located in which mountains?

.

.

Q.  8:  Where did the Incas originate?

.

.

Q.  9:  What was the name of the Cuban President over thrown by Fidel Castro in 1959?

.

.

Q. 10:  Although the United States has Roswell and Area 51, and Hollywood has pushed out a unending stream of movies based on them, the government does not officially recognize the existence of UFOs. However three well known countries do formally recognize the existence of UFOs, can you name them? (A point for each and a bonus point if you can name all three.)

.

.

Q. 11:  Who was coming to dinner with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in 1967?

.

.

Q. 12:  Who was dubbed “Lenin’s left leg” during the early stages of Russia’s Marxist movement? 

.

.

Q. 13:  In which US city was the first skyscraper built in 1883?

.

.

Q. 14:  A double question with multiple points. The US State Department currently recognizes 194 different countries in the world, but how many take up approximately half of Earth’s land area?

HINT: It is a relatively small number of the 194 total and there is a bonus point for each of them that you can name.

.

.

Q. 15:  What phrase is the unlikely link between Barbara Streisand and Bugs Bunny?

.

.

Q. 16:  What is the only state in the Middle East in which there is no desert?

.

.

Q. 17:  What former Soviet state is currently experiencing massive civil unrest and upheaval?

.

.

Q. 18:  Which river has the largest delta?

.

.

Q. 19:  Whoopie Goldberg played one in a movie and Patricia Arquette played another in a television series, what were they? (And bonus points if you can name the movie and the tv series.)

.

.

Q. 20:  Which movie other than ‘The Bodyguard’ featured the song “I Will Always Love You”?

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

ANSWERS

.

Q.  1:  What is the official language of Brazil?

A.  1:  Portuguese.

.

.

Q.  2:  Which wife of a politician said in 1981, ‘Woman is like a teabag: you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in the hot water’?

A.  2:  Nancy Reagan.

.

.

Q.  3:  Many expanses of water of varying sizes are designated as ‘seas’ such as the Mediterranean Sea, the Dead Sea, etc. But what is the only such sea in the world that does not have a coastline?

A.  3:  The Sargasso Sea in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean is surrounded by ocean currents and no land and therefore has no coast.

.

.

Q.  4:  What book was Denzel Washington protecting in the 2010 movie?

A.  4:  The Book Of Eli. You also get a point if you said The Bible.

.

.

Q.  5:  What is both unusual and famous about the restaurant in Volterra, Italy called  “Fortezza Medicea”?

A.  5:  “Fortezza Medicea” is a maximum security prison – the cooks and waiters are all doing  sentences of at least seven years.

.

.

Q.  6:  In which city is the music recording company Motown based?

A.  6:  Detroit.

.

.

Q.  7:  The official country retreat of the President of the USA, Camp David is in which mountains?

A.  7:  Appalachians.

.

.

Q.  8:  Where did the Incas originate?

A.  8:  Peru.

.

.

Q.  9:  What was the name of the Cuban President over thrown by Fidel Castro in 1959?

A.  9:  General Batista.

.

.

Q. 10:  Although the United States has Roswell and Area 51, and Hollywood has pushed out a unending stream of movies based on them, the government does not officially recognize the existence of UFOs. However three well known countries do formally recognize the existence of UFOs, can you name them? (A point for each and a bonus point if you can name all three.)

A. 10:  France, Italy and Chile have all formally recognized the existence of UFOs.

.

.

Q. 11:  Who was coming to dinner with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in 1967?

A. 11:  Sidney Poitier.

.

.

Q. 12:  Who was dubbed “Lenin’s left leg” during the early stages of Russia’s Marxist movement? 

A. 12:  Joseph Stalin.

.

.

Q. 13:  In which US city was the first skyscraper built in 1883?

A. 13:  Chicago.

.

.

Q. 14:  A double question with multiple points. The US State Department currently recognizes 194 different countries in the world, but how many take up approximately half of Earth’s land area?

HINT: It is a relatively small number of the 194 total and there is a bonus point for each of them that you can name.

A. 14:  Seven countries take half of the Earth’s land area and they are Russia, Canada, USA, China, Australia, Brazil and Argentina.

.

.

Q. 15:  What phrase is the unlikely link between Barbara Streisand and Bugs Bunny?

A. 15:  “What’s up, Doc?” is Bugs’ catchphrase and the name of a 1972 comedy/romance movie starring Barbara Streisand and Ryan O’Neill.

.

.

Q. 16:  What is the only state in the Middle East in which there is no desert?

A. 16:  Lebanon.

.

.

Q. 17:  What former Soviet state is currently experiencing massive civil unrest and upheaval?

A. 17:  The Ukraine.

.

.

Q. 18:  Which river has the largest delta?

A. 18:  The River Ganges.

.

.

Q. 19:  Whoopie Goldberg played one in a movie and Patricia Arquette played another in a television series, what were they? (And bonus points if you can name the movie and the tv series.)

A. 19:  They played ‘mediums’, Whoopie Goldberg in the movie ‘Ghost’ and Patricia Arquette in the hit tv series ‘Medium’.

.

.

Q. 20:  Which movie other than ‘The Bodyguard’ featured the song “I Will Always Love You”?

A. 20:  ‘The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas’, a movie starring Dolly Parton who wrote the song.

.

.

============================================

.

The Rise And Fall Of An Opportunist.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

This Sunday Sermon was inspired by a recent post on things I love recently. Thanks for the idea Alex.

al_gore_invent_global_warming

Cast your mind back to 2006, when failed presidential candidate and former Vice President Al Gore was searching for a new ’cause’.

He chose Global Warming and for a while he fooled a lot of people.

gore oscar arrest

He won an Oscar for a largely unproven ‘scientifically based’ documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” that made wildly exaggerated claims about man-made climate change. With hindsight perhaps “A Convenient Lie” would have been a better title. Then he was awarded the much discredited Nobel Peace Prize  –  although just what climate has to do with peace was never properly explained, after all people do fight wars in the rain!

He went on to found an ‘activist group’ and to create a new nonpartisan global movement around climate change that he misleadingly called the ‘Climate Reality Project’ –  misleading because it had very little to do with reality.

Yes, Gore was in the ascendency and was now the world’s leading advocate of Global Warming….brrrrrr …ooops… make that Climate Change would you.

Global-Change

As lately as last January Gore took his old college roomy Tommy Lee Jones and a contingent of other gullible celebrities, donors and scientists on a cruise to Antarctica. Ostensibly they were there to see for themselves the effects of Global Warming, but the real purpose was probably to try to attract more publicity for Gore’s Climate Change crusade. When I say he ‘took them’ of course I meant the multi millionaire Gore was kind enough to let them pay for their trip themselves!

al_gore_only_cares_about_money

But last gasp publicity stunts or not, things haven’t been going so well recently for the Gore crusade. In fact if you look at the numbers, which I always like to do, you will see that the downward spiral has been a steep one.

For example, at its zenith just a few years ago Gore’s organization could spend the best part of $30 million on PR, advertising and political lobbying. It had offices in over half the US States, sometimes more than one office per state, and employed over 300 people. 

al-gore-global-warming-inconvenienttruth

Today those 300 employees have become just 30 or so, and all its state offices have been shut. There are no more hefty advertising campaigns and no more highly paid lobbyists in Washington. Not surprisingly financial donations have also dropped, by around 80 percent. And so cold a political potato is Climate Change nowadays that in the 2012 Presidential election campaign question sessions it wasn’t even mentioned!

Now Gore is going to call it the “Alliance for Climate Protection”, probably a recognition that all the claptrap he was formerly spouting has been largely discredited  –  a bit like himself.

Al Gore Alliance for Climate Protection

The climate does change, Al, there’s no doubt about that. But the only climate man changes is the political climate where you can go from hero to zero when enough people catch on to the fact that you really don’t know what you are talking about!

Cheers Al

Or should that be Cheerio???

.

==============================

.