Will Scotland Say “Yae” or “Nay”?

Today, 18th September 2014, people in Scotland will vote on whether the country should stay in the UK or become an independent nation. Voters will answer “Yes” or “No” to the referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” Nearly 4.3 million voters are expected to turn up for the vote, which could effectively put an end to 307 years of Scotland being part of the United Kingdom. Once the results from all 32 local authority areas are known, the results of the referendum will be declared at the Royal Highland Centre outside Edinburgh by “breakfast time” on Friday.

This is huge! A simple majority will be enough to pass the referendum and Scotland could be an independent nation. Scotland and England united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. Great Britain in turn united with the Kingdom of Ireland in 1801, which formed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Most of Ireland left the Union in 1922 as the Irish Free State; thus the full name of the sovereign state today is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Is it likely that Scotland will become independent? Within two generations, Scottish independence has gone from an eccentric fringe movement to a dominant political force that is on the cusp of victory. Leading up to the actual vote, the ‘Better Together’ campaign was leading by far but in recent weeks the sudden surge in support for the pro-independence ‘Yes’ side has all but eliminated the gap. The recent polls showed a 51% win for the NO and 49%, without counting the “undecided” votes. That is not a very confident look for the union.

Scotland’s 5.3 million citizens represent about eight percent of the total U.K. population and would create a new country bigger than Ireland (4.5 million) but smaller than Denmark (5.5 million). The referendum has no direct legal power, but the British government has promised to negotiate Scotland’s split from the United Kingdom in the event of a ‘Yes’ victory, with an official split slated for March 2016. I have Scottish relatives – my mom’s sister, her husband who are now British citizens and my 7 cousins who were born & raised mostly in the Glasgow area. However with the exception of 1 the cousins (and their respective spouses for 5 of them) don’t live in Scotland anymore, having moved for jobs. I only have a couple of Scottish friends and they seem to be for the Union. I personally don’t want them to split up as I think it will be a shame. We shall know by tomorrow.

Royal Baby? So?

A second #RoyalBaby will soon be joining the Windsors in England. Given the choice, would you rather be heir to the throne, or the (probably) off-the-hook sibling?

Great! So Kate & William are having another baby. Wonderful! I don’t understand all the excitement over the previous one, what’s his name George? So the prince & princess had a baby – who cares? Why should you go all ga-ga over it? I mean I know everyone loves babies and hey I am not immune to the effects of the baby coochie-cooing syndrome that seems to affect almost the entire population of the earth except for terrorists.  And I think even there maybe some terrorists who do like babies!

But there are so many babies being born everyday, why on earth will you choose to go crazy over the royal baby? I mean it wasn’t like only people of England or the UK went ga-ga over him – it was people everywhere. Especially the Western world, I think 90% of Asia & Africa were with me on this event. I was all “Oh! A baby? That’s nice. Cute!” and then I forgot about him. The women in some places were all “OMG! He smiled, he’s so cute. He yawned, I melted. Look he pooped – oh royal poop!” etc etc.

So the next royal baby – who cares, let them make babies and push Harry down the line yet again. Poor guy! As for me, I’d rather be the heir. It’s good to be the boss….or in this case, the boss to be!

Prompt from the Daily Post at WordPress.com.

Breaking The Ice

The internet has recently been swept up by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Is there a cause — social, political, cultural, or other — you passionately believe in? Tell us how you got involved — or why you don’t get involved.

I am actually trying to catch up with the videos of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I have seen about 10-15 so far and there are like 20 coming out each day from just the musicians, sportspeople and actors that I like. This thing is massive. I like the fact that this internet trend is for such a good cause and that it has been raising a lot of money for the ALS awareness stuff and I hope there will be a cure some day out there.

The first time I heard about ALS is through an RSJ article on guitarist Jason Becker who suffers from it. Becker was a prominent neo-classical metal guitarist who made his mark in the later 80s and was famous for his band Cacaphony which he has started with fellow guitarist Marty Friedman. After a solo album, he later joined David Lee Roth’s band and recorded one album with him. However, Becker’s success was hampered by his then-diagnosed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and he was given three to five years to live. In 1996, Becker eventually lost the ability to speak and now communicates with his eyes via a system developed by his father. Despite his disability, he continues composing by using a computer and has since released Collection, a “best of” album of his favorite songs and three new songs.

ALS is a crippling disease and seeing someone suffer from  it is difficult but nothing compared to the person going through the effects of it. I believe in this awareness drive and I hope scientists will find a cure and even a prevention for it. I haven’t gotten involved in this or anything like this, but might be tempted to do so.

Prompt from the Daily Post at WordPress.com.

That Pretty Little Blue Ball In Space

It’s a gorgeous image of the earth – our beautiful planet – as seen from a Japanese geostationary satellite. Science fiction & special effects cannot match the great natural beauty of our mother earth – and we humans are destroying her and pretty soon if we are not careful, we will blow her up while arguing over who made her and what rules we want to bestow upon the inhabitants of this beauty.

A Walk Around Iqauit, Nunavut

Alex and Luke are Canadian social media travel superstars who have this project of visiting every state, province & territory in North America and learn about the people & places. This video is their visit to the remote northern territory of Nunavut in Canada. The very new territory is little known by most North Americans, so they set out to explore and share our findings for your behalf. Watch as they walk around the city of Iqaluit (Nunavut’s capital city) and discover all sorts of interesting and sometimes quirky things.

Super-Earth & Candidate For Best Habitable Planet Found

Nearby super-Earth, Gliese 832c, might be the best habitable planet candidate so far, astronomers say. The newly found super-Earth has a mass at least five times that of Earth’s and the astronomers estimate it receives about the same average energy as Earth does from the Sun. On a clear night, you might be able to spot the red dwarf star Gliese 832 through a backyard telescope, as it is just 16 light years away. Today, astronomers announced the discovery of super-Earth planet orbiting this nearby star and say it might be the best candidate yet for habitable world.

Gliese 832c was spotted by an international team of astronomers, led by Robert A. Wittenmyer from UNSW Australia. They used high-precision radial-velocity data from HARPS-TERRA, the Planet Finder Spectrograph and the UCLES echelle spectrograph. This star is already known to have one additional planet, a cold Jupiter-like planet, Gliese 832 b, discovered in 2009. Since red dwarf stars shine dimly, the habitable zones around these stars would be very close in. Gliese 832c complies with an orbital period of 36 days (it’s orbital companion Gliese 832 b orbits the star in 9.4 years.)

The newly found super-Earth has a mass at least five times that of Earth’s and the astronomers estimate it receives about the same average energy as Earth does from the Sun. “The planet might have Earth-like temperatures, albeit with large seasonal shifts, given a similar terrestrial atmosphere,” says a press release from the Planetary Habitability Laboratory. “A denser atmosphere, something expected for Super-Earths, could easily make this planet too hot for life and a ‘Super-Venus’ instead.” “This makes Gliese 832c one of the top three most Earth-like planets according to the ESI (i.e. with respect to Earth’s stellar flux and mass) and the closest one to Earth of all three, a prime object for follow-up observations. However, other unknowns such as the bulk composition and atmosphere of the planet could make this world quite different to Earth and non-habitable.”

In their paper, Wittenmyer and his colleagues noted that while Solar Systems like our own appear — so far — to be rare, the Gliese 832 system is like a scaled-down version of our own Solar System, with an inner potentially Earth-like planet and an outer Jupiter-like giant planet. They added that the giant outer planet may have played a similar dynamical role in the Gliese 832 system to that played by Jupiter in our Solar System. Certainly, astronomers will be attempting to observe this system further to see if any additional planets can be found.

From Universe Today.

A Visit To Kepler-10C

An exoplanet located 560 light years from Earth in the constellation Draco was recently discovered by researchers at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Having studied Kepler-10c, as the exoplanet was named, they announced that it is an unknown kind of planet with such characteristics that – based on what scientists thought until today – normally should not exist. Because of the mass of the planet, which is many times greater than that of Earth, astronomers call it “mega-Earth” or give it an even more impressive title – “the Godzilla of Earths”. Kepler-10c is a rocky planet with a diameter 2.3 times that of Earth and a mass 17 times greater than that of our planet. Scientists thought that planets of this size attract very large amounts of hydrogen in the process of their formation and thus result in gas giants like Jupiter.

The prevailing theory stated that the formation of a rocky planet of this size is not feasible. But the researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center found that it is a rocky planet which, even despite the fact that is very close to its parent star, has managed to maintain its atmosphere, which makes it even more interesting. Another major finding is related to the age of Kepler-10c. The planetary system that includes the “mega-Earth” was formed about 11 billion years ago, or about three billion years after the Big Bang, from which the Universe emerged.

Our system was formed about 4.5 billion years ago. This means that rocky planets, which are considered to be most hospitable to life, were formed much earlier than astronomers previously thought. An obvious conclusion is that since a rocky planet was formed earlier, there potentially was more time for life to emerge and evolve on it. Until now, scientists believed that the ancient stars formed in childhood of the Universe could not support the formation of rocky planets because it is unclear whether there were all the necessary elements at that stage of the universe. After the discovery of Kepler-10c, researchers looking for life in space will probably pay most attention to the ancient planetary systems.

From The Mind Unleashed.

Powdered Alcohol

They’ve finally done it. Instant alcohol, in a powdered form. Alcohol is primarily known as a liquid, but it can also be whipped, solidified, and practically vaporized. But a new product is out in the US markets after getting the necessary approvals – Palcohol! Powdered Alcohol. No, I’m not making this shit up!

Alcohol powder is a molecular encapsulated alcohol that produces an alcoholic drink or meal when mixed with water. Because alcohol can be absorbed in a sugar derivate, it can be delivered as a powder and/or packed into capsules. Last week, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) okayed seven versions of Palcohol, including Margarita and Cosmopolitan flavors. But since gaining approval, the Arizona-based firm, called Lipsmark LLC, has removed its description of the product from its website.

Here’s how Palcohol was being touted: What’s worse than going to a concert, sporting event, etc. and having to pay $10, $15, $20 for a mixed drink with tax and tip. Are you kidding me?! Take Palcohol into the venue and enjoy a mixed drink for a fraction of the cost. We’ve been talking about drinks so far. But we have found adding Palcohol to food is so much fun. Sprinkle Palcohol on almost any dish and give it an extra kick. Some of our favorites are the Kamikaze in guacamole, Rum on a BBQ sandwich, Cosmo on a salad and Vodka on eggs in the morning to start your day off right. Experiment. Palcohol is great on so many foods. Remember, you have to add Palcohol AFTER a dish is cooked as the alcohol will burn off if you cook with it…and that defeats the whole purpose. 

It is not a new concept though. Similar products already exist in Germany (Subyou) and the Netherlands (Booz2go). Powdered alcohol has even been sold in the U.S. before, the subject of several patents. So the next time you go to a supermarket you buy milk powder, coffee powder, orange juice powder and ta da – alcohol powder aka Palcohol!

And In Today’s Headlines…..

….something seems to have caught this squirrel’s interest! Amazingly well timed photo!

You can be cool but you will never be as cool as this dude who has just been hi-fived by a shark!

A new type of winged deer was out in the wild. Animal experts are waiting to see if this is a mutation or a new species that has somehow remained undiscovered till now!

Also just in deep sea divers found what seems to be a new variation of a Mereman! This creature has the body of a man but the head of a fish!

And finally, the discovery of a 3 headed deer with antlers had monotheistic religions in a frenzy as the claims of a pagan and or occult practices getting powerful heats up! The deer refused to comment!

World’s Most Stinkiest Men!

This is the kind of news and record breaking stuff that makes you go “what the fuck”! The record for smelliest / stinkiest man in the world has been broken when the existence of a man who hasn’t bathed in 60 years was noted and reported! Yes you did read that as 60 years!

Living in a remote village of Dejgah in southern Iran, Amou Haji, 80, has another unique feat to his credit. He has not bathed for last 60 years and hates water, said a report in Tehran Times. This no-bath decision has actually put him ahead of Guru Kailash Singh, 69, from the holy city of Varanasi in India who refused to bathe since 1974 just after he got married. (Why the fuck does an Indian have to be in the weirdest and stupidest kind of records that you can find?) Singh, who spends all day working on the banks of the river Ganges, claimed a priest guaranteed he would have a son if he stops bathing. The prediction failed, like all religious nonsense. Singh has seven daughters.

His wife even threatened to stop sleeping with him if he didn’t bath. She gave in later, insisting she should be loyal to him. Stupid bitch! She must really love him. Like Singh, Haji – who drinks five litres of water daily from a rusty oil can – feels that cleanlinesss would make him sick. When Haji needs a haircut, he burns his hair in a fire and keeps himself warm with an old war helmet, said the report. According to Tehran Times, Haji has chosen this lifestyle after some emotional setbacks he faced earlier in life.

Well it’s all sorts of fruit & nutcases to make up this world! Just typing this post, I feel like taking a shower.

Journey Of ISON

It may have taken more than a million years of travel to reach the inner solar system but when Comet ISON passes by the sun the show should be worth waiting for. ISON, named after the International Scientific Optical Network project will get as close as one million kilometres from the sun’s surface. But scientists aren’t sure how it will hold up – if the heat doesn’t kill it, the sun’s gravity may rip it apart. If ISON survives intact its closest point to the earth will come in a few days. Astronomers spotted the comet a year ago giving them plenty of time to prepare for the flyby. With so few comets making it into our solar system ISON is an eagerly awaited cosmic event.

In December, ISON will grow dimmer, and it might visible from both hemispheres of Earth. It will be well placed for observers in the northern hemisphere during mid to late December 2013. After perihelion, it will move north on the celestial sphere, passing within two degrees of Polaris on 8 January. ISON may be visible to the naked eye until early January 2014.

Note: you can also follow ISON’s current progress as seen from SOHO at their website!

Tolerance

TOLERANCE

This was a reader’s ‘Letter to the Editor’ on Tolerance, published in the UK daily “SUN”. Unsure of it’s authenticity and writer but here goes:

“I am truly perplexed that so many of my friends are against another mosque being built in London on the Thames? I think it should be the goal of every Englishman to be tolerant. Thus the Mosque should be allowed, in an effort to promote tolerance.

That is why I also propose that two nightclubs be opened next door to the mosque, thereby promoting tolerance from within the mosque. We could call one of the clubs, which would be gay, “The Turban Cowboy”, and the other a topless bar called “You Mecca Me Hot.”

Next door should be a butcher shop that specializes in pork, and adjacent to that an open-pit barbeque pork restaurant, called “Iraq o’ Ribs.” Across the street there could be a lingerie store called “Victoria Keeps Nothing Secret “, with sexy mannequins in the window modelling the goods.

Next door to the lingerie shop there would be room for an adult sex toy shop, “Koranal Knowledge “, its name in flashing neon lights, and on the other side a liquor store called “Morehammered.”

All of this would encourage the Muslims to demonstrate the tolerance they demand of us, so the mosque problem would be solved. If you agree with promoting tolerance and you think this is a good plan, please publish my letter.”

New Island Formed After Massive Quake

One of the news stories that caught my attention the most – infact the one that has caught my attention the most in recent times – was the formation & sudden appearance of the small island after the massive earthquake that hit Pakistan on Tuesday. Experts say the island was formed by the massive movement of the earth during the 7.7-magnitude quake that hit Pakistan’s Baluchistan province killing at least 285 people. Alongside the carnage caused by the earthquake a small island of mud, stone and bubbling gas pushed forth from the seabed.

The island appeared off the coast of Gwadar, a port about 533km from Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi and 120km from Iran. The mass was about 18 metres high, 30 metres wide and 76 metres long, making it a little wider than a tennis court and slightly shorter than a football field. Such islands are not entirely unusual to scientists who study the earth and its sometimes violent movements. There are two ways such islands can be created. In the first scenario, the earth’s crust violently lifts up out of the water. In the second, the earthquake triggers the movement and release of gases locked in the earth resulting in a flow called a “mud volcano’’. Sudden islands like this can be swallowed back up by the seas, as has happened in Pakistan in the past. But there have been cases, such as following the Great Alaskan Earthquake almost 50 years ago, when new landforms like these can stay around.

In this case, local residents have been visiting the island and picking up rocks as souvenirs. But Pakistani authorities have been warning them to stay away as methane gas is leaking out of the new structure and can be set off by sparks from a cigarette. And rare as it is, this sudden island is not Pakistan’s first. Similar islands appeared off a different part of the coast of Pakistan after quakes in 1999 and 2010. Those islands were swallowed back into the sea during the monsoon season, a period of heavy rain and wind that sweeps Pakistan every summer.

Exorcist Dies During Ritual

In one of the most bizarre & stupidest stories I  have heard in a while an exorcist in Sri Lanka was killed while performing a cleansing of a house that had “evil spirits”. Apparently this man, Maxi Castro, was called to perform this ritual just outside the capital city Columbo and according to the police, he sacrificed a cat and was then buried in a shallow grave after instructing onlookers to dig him out once he gave a signal of pushing a sword he was carrying through the ground. After 3 hours there was no sign or signal from Castro and no sword coming out of the ground.

This is when the onlookers decided to pull him out anyway, but he was unconscious. The 32-year-old man, identified by police as Maxi Castro, a local exorcist, was taken to hospital early Thursday morning but he had already died, the official said. The man had been requested to drive out demons feared residing in the home of a school teacher at the village of Pelanwatte. “I saw him perform a ritual like this at a temple six months ago and invited him to check my property,” the teacher, Wasantha Bandara, told local radio station Shree FM. “He said I had bad luck because someone had sprinkled human ash at my house, but he could drive out evil spirits through this ritual.”

Police spokesman Buddhika Siriwardena confirmed the incident and said an investigation was underway. Many in Sri Lanka, where 70 percent of the population are Buddhists, have faith in black magic, sorcery and exorcism, and place great importance on astrology. Important state functions are held according to the auspicious times chosen by astrologers.

Lab Grown Burger/Meat

Unless you haven’t been online or checked the television for news during the past few days, you should know about the lab grown beef burger. Dutch scientists on Monday unveiled a hamburger made from beef grown in a lab—not raised on a farm—that was then cooked and eaten at a West London arts and television studio. The patty, which also contained bread crumbs and a binder to hold the meat together, was then fried in sunflower oil and butter and taste-tested by a food writer and a food scientist who weren’t involved in the research, at a news briefing in front of an audience of about 200. The testers described the patty as largely having the texture and juiciness of meat, though not the intense flavor typical of beef. They said the burger needed seasoning. The multiyear project, which cost over €250,000 and produced the single patty, was funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. It may be another decade or two before lab-grown beef is stocked in grocery stores.

At the moment it is heavily expensive but there might come a time, once they perfect it and ensure that there are no issues in mass consumption, when the cost of making these patties are about as much as or perhaps even lesser than making real meat available for everyone. You could find the lab-grown beef patty expanding to full steaks, chops, ribs or racks. And why stop at beef? We could have lab grown chicken, pork, bacon, ham, mutton, lamb, fish, crab, squid, shrimp, quail meat, rabbit meat, etc etc. Can we look at a time, many years from now, where animals won’t ever be killed for their meat to be cooked as food for humans?  Also if they could find ways to make it very healthy for us by adding all the proteins, vitamins, fiber and all the good stuff that vegetables gives you, that would be great wouldn’t it? And if you don’t have to depend on the animals we could find ways to ensure than food is provided for everyone. The homeless, the poor and the the starving in every part of the world.

This is a step in the right direction. Soon replicators, capable of making these food & food products easily available in each & ever home and for each and every human, dog & cat. End to world hunger & thirst is what we should be striving for. Onwards humans!

New Zealand Finally Names North & South Islands

New Zealand’s two main island have been known unofficially as North & South island for 200 years and never been officially named due to a clerical oversight. The New Zealand Geographic Board said the names had appeared on maps since European settlement began in the early 1800s but had never been formally recognized. After public consultations, the board is now proposing two names each for the islands, one in English and one in the indigenous Maori language.

The English version will be the widely used North and South Islands. The Maori names put forward by the board are Te Waipounamu — meaning rivers of green stone — for the South Island and Te Ika-a-Maui — the fish of Maui (a Maori god) — for the North. The board said both the English and Maori names will be able to be used on official documents and maps. The change is expected to be formally adopted later this year.

I’m thinking that the Kiwis could actually do much better than plain & dull old “North island” & “South island”. You have the perfect beautiful names in Maori and you could use their English translation to give the island new names. Call them Maui’s Fish Island & Green Stone Island for North & South respectively. They sound so much more elegant than just North & South. Come on New Zealand!