Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Election 2015 - It's all kicking off

I suppose I need to make a few topical jottings to reflect the near hysteria mild interest in the approaching dissolution of Parliament. It's odd to have the date fixed so far in advance. Speculation about precisely when an election would take place could be guaranteed to fill many column inches  in the Press in the old days. Today other stories are jostling for attention instead
  • David Cameron's TV interview where he revealed his intention to stand down after a second full term and named his likely successors.
  • Nigel Farage's attempts to keep some sort of party around him as candidate after candidate implodes
  • The SNP, resurgent after the near defeat in the Referendum, fancies itself to hold the balance of power once it has done terrible damage to the other parties in the Scottish seats.
None of this has much bearing on the policies we might expect from an incoming government. If I can make out any of it out, I shall report back.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Eclipse - myths and reality

Before we are plunged into the stygian blackness of the total solar eclipse tomorrow, Ramblings wants to ensure all of its readers are safe and well-informed. Here is our handy cut-out-n-throw-away guide to everything you need to know.

  • Never look directly at the sun. Use a piece of smoked trout. With a suitable piece, cut a small hole, mount the fish on a tripod and let the sun's image project onto a TV screen (you have a portable set that can be moved outside, haven't you?). Now you can host your own TV chat show in total safety, with lots of Dara O'Brain type interventions such as "This is all a bit fishy" and "These scales show the scale of the event".
  • Never look directly at your neighbours. If they are out with binoculars and surveillance equipment, looking at them is a dead give-away. With your head facing away at an angle of 380 sneak a crafty peek out of the corner of your eye. Don't forget to make copious notes afterwards,
  • Do not try flying a drone equipped with your iphone6 in a vain attempt to make a better picture. When the eclipse begins the drop in solar radiation will play havoc with the inertial navigation systems, the drone will crash in your neighbour's garden and your phone, with any possibly incriminating photographs, will be in their possession.
  • Do not attempt to take a selfie involving yourself, your spouse and children, and the Sun at the moment of eclipse. For this to work all of you must face away from the Sun with the camera pointing back at you. The light will not only burn out the optics but the reflections could give a nasty case of sunburn. If you wait until total darkness, then the flash will fire and all you will see are your own startled faces blinking back. Waste of time.
  • Do not bother hosting a last-minute wine and cheese party. It will all be over by 10:40 and who wants to sip warm white wine at that time in the morning?
  • Do not watch television broadcasts of the eclipse without something hard to bite on every time:
    • There is a shot of a presenter getting into an aircraft
    • There is a shot of a presenter in an aircraft, with headphones on, pointing out of the window and saying what a great view she has
    • There is a shot of a presenter in an aircraft going "Wow"
    • There is a shot of someone in the studio going "Wow"
    • Someone brings up the old "use smoked glass" myth. See above
    • Regional news infills show you wise old crofters shading their eyes, ice-cream salesmen in the south bemoaning their fate, tourists in Oxford Street taking no notice, smoked trout salesmen rubbing their hands with glee.
    • A real expert on solar physics is asked to explain about coronal mass ejections, sun-spots, solar flares, the solar wind, the sun's magnetic cycle and other stuff of enormous importance to us living on this planet, and who is cut off after a minute because we have to go to the news headlines.

These rules will keep you fit and stress free, and you can eat the trout with a nice piece of brown bread the moment it is all over.