Science Saturday – Cat Flipping

Smarter Every Day Cat Flipping

I’m more of a dog person myself. But I have always wondered how cats managed to land feet first when dropped from a height….and no, I have not been sadistically throwing the neighbourhood cats off the roof to find the answer myself.

But, one of my favourite Science You Tuber’s, Destin from Smarter Every Day, and the cat he borrowed, GiGi, are here to help explain just that.

The primary principle is that the cat isn’t twisting his back….he’s actually BENDING it. The next video Destin created goes into much greater detail about what’s going. The amazing thing is, that by helping explain the science behind flipping cats, it also helps explain how it relates to studying the farthest points in the universe, the science behind repositioning satellites in orbit and a whole lot more. Enjoy.

Here, kitty, kitty, kitty 🙂

NS – No Service – Winter Lessons

NS No Service

An Open Letter to the Management of NS

Dear Directors of NS,

I am both a taxpayer and a customer, and as both, I have become increasingly annoyed, agitated and aggrieved with the poor level of service one has come to expect from NS.

When things are “normal” and weather does not seem to be a factor in running a rail network, there is still never a single week that I do not suffer from a delay or cancellation in some way, shape or form. It is, sadly, something I have come to expect as part of the value added services you are providing me. Maybe it is the Dutch way of forcing its citizens to try and lose some weight from the excessive sandwiches they eat on your trains when commuting each morning, that by regular cancellations or delays you force us to walk or cycle home once in a while, because we cannot be arsed to wait a second longer on the cold, wet damp platforms of your stations.

But then you added an extra feature to your trains…more seats….in exchange for removing toilets on your trains. I know who to thank the next time I am on a train, which is stuck in the middle of the tracks, not moving (presumably because a wayward leaf blew onto the track necessitating a complete halt to the rail network while engineers plucked said leaf out of harms way) and I have that wonderful feeling of my bladder about to explode. I will be happy and content in the knowledge that I cannot do anything about it until we get to the station, because someone in their infinite wisdom thought it a good idea to remove the toilets from every carriage on your new rolling stock!

I guess I should feel good now that you’ve added more seats. It certainly justifies the exorbitant prices you charge, and continue to increase year after year. In fact, so clever are your boffins in accounting and legal, that you’ve found ways to circumvent the law to facilitate the increase of ticket prices twice a year, which clearly contradicts the agreement you made with the Dutch government when you became a semi-state company.

I especially feel like I am getting value for money now that the winter snows and frost have arrived. The fact that you were ever so considerate about my ability to get into work, or visit friends, during this savage winter weather by reducing the number of trains on the network was genius. The fact that your German neighbours, or countries like Russia, Ukraine and Finland have never felt the need to have to implement similar changes to their timetables matters not a jot to you, because you’ve really only got my needs in mind. It is so considerate, thank you.

But you know, I think it’s high time you perhaps stopped buying trains that cease to work when there’s a touch of frost or the occasional leaf on the line, like the new high-speed FYRA trains. Afterall, the Russian’s and Ukrainians have been managing quite well for quite some time without any hiccups. Oh, and changing those “defrosters” at the points which run on a gas burner with a pilot light that’s snuffed out with a heavy snowfall is about a decade too late. Ze Germans changed those same problematic gas ones with electric heaters already back in the late 1990’s!

I’ve included a video (please see above) which demonstrates how the New Zealanders (related to you Cloggies, no?) are able to get around by train in the snow. Perhaps, along with your over-paid salaries, you guys might be able to cobble together a budget for a fun-in-the-sun fact finding mission to New Zealand to find out more. Don’t worry…..I’ll cover the costs of the trip with my higher fares later this year.

Thanks again,

IrishmanAbroad

Climb Everest From Your Armchair

Everest

Have you ever dreamed of scaling Mount Everest? Well now you can, without even leaving the comfort of your living room!

This amazing website is a 2 BILLION pixel photo of Mount Everest. It is so detailed that you can zoom in on the mountain slopes and actually see people attempting to summit Everest.

To give you a sense of scale, if you look closely at the bottom of the photo, you can just make out some coloured dots. If you zoom in you can see those colours are the tent city that makes up Everest’s Base Camp….it’s just mind boggling.

The 477 individual images that make up the gigapixel image of the Khumbu glacier were captured by David Breashears during the spring of 2012, from the Pumori viewpoint near Mount Everest and shows the summit of Everest in amazing detail and the nearby peaks of the Changtse and Lohtse mountains. The images are so crisp, you can even attempt to summit the worlds highest peak yourself, without the need of those pesky oxygen bottles and finger numbing frostbite 🙂

Now, where are my mountain boots and my cup of tea?

Never Trust A Politician – Bertie Ahern

Bertie Ahern advert

Yesterday’s Irish Independent reported that the former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, a man who swindled, cheated and lied to the nation and the various tribunals this country’s taxpayers hard earned money was wasted on, has reneged on his promise of paying back part of his pension.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been taking his full €150,000 a year pension since he left the Dail, after reversing his decision to give part of it back to the State.
The revelation comes as new figures released under Freedom of Information legislation show that only seven out of 116 former ministers gave up part of their pensions last year, despite the introduction of a simple system to allow them to do so.
None of the Fianna Fail ministers who presided over the economic crash gave up any part of their pensions.

Now let’s just think about that for a second and let it sink in while you’re drinking your cuppa…..and watch the video below to remind yourselves of the “cribbing and moaning” he referred to back in 2007.

Teflon Taoiseach Bertie is pocketing €12,500 a month, which is around €3,000 a WEEK…..IF he was working…..which he’s NOT.

Ask yourselves this. Do you think, if you lied, cheated, swindled and embezzled the funds of the company you work for, or own, and then got caught doing it, that you’d still be entitled to walk the streets as a free man and still receive entitlements for the rest of your days on this Earth?

No, I didn’t think so. Yet, this is what the Irish people have accepted. This is what the Irish government, even the government who was in opposition at the time, have accepted, and nobody seems inclined to do a damn thing about it.

Remember that the Irish people elect government officials. The officials are not there to dictate terms to the Irish citizenry, rather it’s the other way around….or at least, that was the concept of a democratically elected government when I went to school. Were the last 700 years all in vain?

Science Saturday – Iron For Breakfast

You’ve seen the commercials, and maybe even looked at the nutrition info on the side of the box, but have you ever tested to see if there really IS iron in your breakfast cereal? Well here’s a cool video showing you how you can, with the help of a really good magnet, test to see if those marketing admen were telling the truth or not.

Have fun, and pass me the milk, will you?

Cotton On – Uzbekistan’s White Gold Make Regime Rich On Slave Labour

If I asked many of you to point Uzbekistan out on a map, you’d probably ask me “Where?” before having to search for it in an atlas. It doesn’t get many columns written about it in the Western press, especially when we’re so caught up in stories about hostages in Algeria and cheating cyclists who lied for a decade about their doping regimen.

But Uzbekistan is home to one of the last bastions of dictatorship kleptocracies in the world, an ex-Soviet republic whose dictator and his family hold key government positions, earning millions on the backs of their citizens whom they treat as nothing more than slaves whose sole purpose in life is to enrich the kleptomaniacal “first family” and keep them in a style of living they’ve grown accustomed to.

Islam Karimov, is the incumbent President of Uzbekistan, a position he has maintained since the fall of the Soviet empire through the usual methodology of regular human rights violations, election rigging and blocking of opposition parties (tactics practiced across the ex-Soviet states such as Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine) along with some other choice methods such as the regular detention (without trial), torture and disappearance of ordinary Uzbeks, who often vanish into thin air, never to be heard of again. His favoured method of dispatching dissidents is to have them boiled alive. And his security police have shot dead hundreds of unarmed protesters in 2005. The lucky ones may return, their mutilated bodies are sometimes recovered when the secret police have no more use of them and the lucky families can find closure and bury their long missing loved ones.

But we here in the West also play a part in the continuance of this brutal regime. It might never cross your mind, but the next time you find yourself pushing a young mother out of the way so you can get a deal on the last cotton skirt on sale in H&M, think twice about where it’s come from! Because the Uzbek regimes largest source of wealth comes from what the Russians once called “White Gold”.

“White Gold”, coined by the Soviets, Cotton is Uzbekistan’s largest source of foreign currency, and Uzbekistan is one of the largest exporters of cotton worldwide. The cotton farms, cotton exporters and cotton harvesters are ALL state-owned. Which means 99% of the cash goes straight into the back pockets and Swiss bank accounts of the Karimov family, with the remaining 1% shared between the farms and the Uzbek people toiling in the fields picking the cotton.

And the people picking the cotton are ordinary folk, ranging from 7 and 8 year old children, all the way to well trained doctors, nurses, teachers and engineers. The crop is so huge that they force Uzbeks to pick the cotton giving strict daily quota’s, all so that the Karimov family can maximise the amount of cash they’ll get when they export it, just so Karimov’s wife or his camera shy daughter (NOT!), Gulnara Karimova, can splash out on a new villa in the Mediterranean coast, or attend Fashion Week in New York, or whatever else the well-heeled Oligarchy get up to these days with their stolen riches.

The next time you’re out shopping, look at the label or search online and find out WHERE your cotton came from. Do not simply shop with an absent mind. You, as a single individual CAN have an impact on geopolitical affairs and can help stamp out human rights violations, even thought you’re a world away! Don’t be a sheep and follow the herd, think for yourself and shop conscientiously and politically…..because your fellow human beings are depending on you!