Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Bloggers Blog Party - July 2016

For the end of August, here are July 2016's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party photos.

Friday 1st July: These are the inclined moved walkways in the Tesco Extra in Long Eaton. During my last month in Nottingham before the summer, on some evenings I would travel to Long Eaton for no other reason than the pleasure of riding the bus.

Saturday 2nd July: This is Matlock Bath on the day I travelled to Bakewell. I enjoyed seeing Matlock Bath again after three years.

Sunday 3rd July: This is the centre of Bulwell as I was walking to Hucknall. At this point in time I was having a much-needed break, as I was discovering that I wasn't as fit as I was a year ago. I stopped off at the Tesco Extra here for some extra food and water because I needed the energy.

Monday 4th July: I spotted this neat row of buses on the street on which I would catch my bus back to my grandparents' house.

Thursday 7th July: This corridor at Central connects Reception with the corridors to the Library and down to the gym. I stood at this intersection directing people for the Experience Day, hence the decorative balloons. If I recall correctly, the amount of visitors the college had for the day exceeded 300, if not much more.

Friday 8th July: This arrangement was for the principal, as it was his last day at Central. I was at his farewell party, which started an hour after this picture was taken.

Saturday 9th July: I noticed this red London bus on what appeared to be an army event day in the centre of Nottingham.

Tuesday 12th July: On this day, I took my final ride on the Calverton Connection of my Access era in Nottingham. When I next visit Calverton I'll be a student at Nottingham Trent University.

Thursday 14th July: I liked the "Vampiro Los Pollo Hermanos" (obvious reference to Breaking Bad) and the sentence at the bottom about daily specials.

Friday 15th July: A friend of mine and I visited this charity shop, which featured clothing and furniture styles from the 1920s-40s.

Saturday 16th July: This was my final full day in Nottingham before the summer break. This is from the upper floor of the Broadmarsh looking down.

Taken on that same day while on my bus back to my grandparents' house, this is a view of Central.

Sunday 17th July: This is stretch of road on the route my grandfather takes between his house and my mother's.

Friday 22nd July: I spotted on the ground this bending dandelion.

Sunday 24th July: Just up ahead are roads leading onto a major route through Northamptonshire. I walked on that route over a year ago.

Tuesday 26th July: I think the last time I walked through this wooded area before recently was a couple of years ago, at least. I don't recall ever going down it during any of my breaks from college.

Friday 29th July: This was a piece of free cheese my mother received in her shopping delivery; in return for trying it, she wrote a review about the product for the company.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The initial enrolment

It's hard to believe that two years ago yesterday, I enrolled at Central for my Pre-Access:

Yep...the 29th of August, 2014. On that day, I met my future History/Sociology teacher, as she helped me complete a final form or two for my application; she went on to form an instrumental part of my two years there, for not only did she teach one of my classes during Pre-Access but on Access, I was on her course and she lead half my lessons. It's a shame I can't bring her with me to Nottingham Trent University but at least we remain in contact; there are few people I respect as much as I respect her.

But going back to that enrolment day, I can't believe it's been over two years. I recall seeing at least one of my future classmates that day and I was fascinated to see to more of the campus, which included the floor where my lessons occurred and the gym. I think I felt accomplished at having enrolled, as it was something new for me after years of inactivity.

Now, I'm off to university. My two years at college went by faster than I would have liked them to; ensuring I enjoyed as much of it as possible and more was a priority of mine and it paid off.

Monday, 29 August 2016

The spiders

This summer has been friendly to spiders. I have never seen so many around the house before; mostly they hang around in the ceiling corners to catch bugs and procreate with other spiders. What they don't appear to have been doing is catch the flies, who have also been having a good summer; nearly every day a couple of flies buzz around the house and are generally pests. Since there aren't screens in windows here, they fly in all the time through them.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Proxima b

This is a fascinating discovery:

By galactic terms, the planet of Proxima b is just next door to we here in the Solar System, given that it orbits Proxima Centauri, which is one of the closest stars to the Sun. Until now, the extrasolar planets that have been discovered were tens if not hundreds or thousands of lightyears away. While using current technology it would still take thousands of years to arrive there, Proxima b is slightly over 4 lightyears from Earth.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

"All Together Now" - The Farm

A worthy choice for today's song is "All Together Now":

It's by The Farm, who are a band from Liverpool in the United Kingdom, and it's from their album Spartacus. The song, which contains an anti-war theme, is about the Christmas truce of 1914 during World War I, during which soldiers from opposing sides lay down their arms to celebrate and season and play football.

In 2014, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Christmas truce, a multitude of British musicians, under the banner of The Peace Collective, recorded their version of the song:

This version was dedicated to the soldiers who ensured the truce held that day.

Friday, 26 August 2016

The rise of the Alt-Right

(Note: I started writing this piece before Hillary Clinton's speech on 25th August 2016, in which she addressed the Alt-Right; I amended my writing accordingly.)

Over the past few months, I have become increasingly aware of the presence of the Alternative Right (Alt-Right) - a sector of right-wing ideology that has an expanding voice, especially thanks to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, whom the Alt-Right has embraced as its figurehead. The Alt-Right has gained so much attention that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently addressed it in a speech on her campaign trail, in which she tied Trump to the advancement of bigoted fringe views and white supremacy into the mainstream. Rather than being a fresh new perspective, the Alt-Right is dangerous because not only is it yet another re-run of racism, misogyny, white supremacy and other forms of hatred, this time under the guise of being "anti-establishment" and against political correctness (PC), it has become a uniting voice for said hatred and is rapidly becoming its umbrella ideology. While not every racist or sexist is de facto Alt-Right or even identifies with it (bigotry did not spring into existence when the term "Alt-Right" was coined a few years ago), for much of its current support is "young, white, and male", the movement appears to be absorbing much of those people into itself.

In addition, while from past blog posts it is clear that I am not a conservative, I have friends and relatives who are yet despite this, there are subjects on which we find common ground and even when we do disagree, I know they are good people; my problem is not a difference in politics but how hateful someone is. As such, with all its bigotry the Alt-Right is something I find myself becoming more and more alarmed by and I regard it as a threat, both to society and to other forms of conservatism; it must not be allowed to become the dominant force in right-wing ideology and have access to all that political machinery.

- Beth Reinhard with contributions from Janet Hook; Wall Street Journal

Whereas the majority of ordinary conservatives and libertarians acknowledge that racism remains a problem and that it should be addressed, those who subscribe to the Alt-Right ideology appear to reject the existence of any sort of racism - unless it is something they perceive to be directed at white people, in particular at white men. Indeed, a conservative critic of the Alt-Right, columnist and former editor-at-large for Ben Shapiro, refers to it as "an agglomeration of self-appointed radical culture warriors, disenchanted paleoconservatives, and open anti-Semites and white supremacists." who regard "any resistance to actual racism and anti-Semitism to be 'cuck' cowardice and social justice warrior whining.", whereas the Wikipedia article about the Alt-Right notes (with sources) the movement's links to white supremacy/nationalism and anti-Semitism. The Alt-Right condescendingly refers to people who oppose prejudice and support acceptance and equal rights by the pejorative "Social Justice Warrior" (SJW) - thereby treating the notion of speaking up for others as inherently negative. Demonising civil rights campaigners in such a manner is behaviour consistent with anyone associated with hate organisations.

Regardless of links to hate groups, the Alt-Right does not appear to be attached to any political party; rather, they appear to back anyone who they perceive will advance their agenda, even if said person rejects their support. For example, US Senator Bernie Sanders was criticised for misogyny amongst the supporters of his campaign, which he addressed by strongly condemning said supporters; however, these people weren't supporting Sanders because they agreed with his policies (after all, Sanders has a lifetime commitment to anti-discrimination). Instead, they were more than likely followers of the Alt-Right who attached themselves to Sanders because their opposition to Hillary Clinton stemmed from her being female, not because they opposed her on ideological grounds. This can be evidenced by the fact that these people, who made up only a small portion of Sanders' base, have since shifted their support to Trump while the majority of Sanders' followers will vote for Clinton. While Trump did not create Alt-Right and while many of his supporters also aren't Alt-Right, he hasn't made the same condemnations that Sanders did, appears to have an alignment with it and the movement clearly backs him.

Trump's hateful rhetoric in conjunction with his massive prominence as currently obtained through the 2016 presidential election in the United States has given the Alt-Right a perceived anti-establishment leader in him, at least for now. From Trump's extreme comments about immigration to his slurs against Senator Elizabeth Warren, to his promotion of violence against Clinton and against protesters, he has emboldened the likes of the Ku Klux Klan to openly rear their heads and embrace his campaign, while his alliance with (see the linked article) cements him as the figurehead of the Alt-Right movement. This alliance with Breitbart Media can be evidenced by Trump making Stephen Bannon - the former executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC - as the CEO of his campaign. This alliance is significant because Bannon himself has declared that the network is the Alt-Right's media platform and Southern Poverty Law Center noted in April 2016 that Breitbart Media has, over the past year, shifted towards that position, as suggested by its increase in fringe viewpoints and overt racism in its reporting. This amount of power and prominence is sure to advance white nationalism/supremacy towards the mainstream once again.

While racism and white nationalism/supremacy are core components of the Alt-Right, misogyny is also rampant among its ranks, as evidenced by its assimilation of Men's Rights Activism. Much of its opposition to Clinton's presidential campaign is because she is a woman; however, Clinton is not the sole target of this rage. Comedienne and Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones fell victim to a misogynistic - as well as racist - harassment campaign on Twitter followed by a hack against her website, which replaced it with nude imagery, personal information and racism. This was carried out because Jones is a woman and black, as well as middle-aged. A successful black woman who is nearly 50 and works in comedy challenges both the Alt-Right ideology that only white men should be successful as well as the notion that men should dominate comedy. The harassment campaign on Twitter was incited by tech editor Milo Yiannopolous, champion of the Alt-Right movement and and a Trump supporter, who was subsequently banned from Twitter. Rather than take responsibility, as the Alt-Right is often fond of expecting others to do, he blamed the "totalitarian regressive left" and claimed that his free speech was violated. That Trump has not only not condemned any of this but appears to be aligning himself with it, even if not openly, should be of deep concern; this sort of behaviour cannot be allowed to be anywhere near the American presidency. While the Alt-Right is reported in some of the aforementioned links as mostly being contained to the Internet, the issues surrounding Yiannopolous and suggest otherwise.

With regards to the Internet, in my encounters with Alt-Right individuals there, I have found that debating them can be summed up with a quote from The Terminator: "[...] It [Alt-Right followers] can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear! And it absolutely will not stop, ever [...]". That quote also applies to their actions, as with what has been happening to the aforementioned Jones. During discussions, their tactics to "win" consist of deflections, insults, trivialisation of opponents, multiple verbose irrelevancies and feigned ignorance. For example, If accused of racism and given examples of their racism, they almost always reply by demanding evidence of racism and then calling opponents racist by saying that calling out racism "creates division" or that it's a form of racism in itself. Any sort of discussion about women's rights results in them explaining why women are the real sexists and why men are victims of sexism (they dismiss the gender wage gap by saying that women are lazier and/or less ambitious than men; if a man defends feminism or uses the word |"misogynist|", they throw out hate-filled terms such as "cuck" and "White Knight"). Any sort of criticism of their actions results in them screaming thin-skinned and immature rantings about censorship, oppression and political correctness (mirroring the actions of the aforementioned Yiannopolous) - while they simultaneously savagely mock trigger victims, such as those who have suffered from rape, and sarcastically ask if any critics "require a safe space". Should Trump be defeated this November, neither this behaviour nor the Alt-Right will disappear; Trump will likely be cast aside and the movement will rally behind someone else. This is good news in comparison to the powers the Alt-Right would gain were Trump to prevail in this election.

The Alt-Right appears to be a movement that is anti-Left, anti-civil rights, anti-equality and even anti-Conservative in nature, while simultaneously deceiving its followers that it is merely anti-establishment and anti-PC. It supports the dominance of white men and viciously opposes the rise of anyone not included in that demographic. While the Alt-Right pre-dates the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, he appears to be working with it, as evidenced with his collaboration with Breitbart Media, and the movement has clearly embraced his candidacy, as it has given them greater prominence than any other candidate would have done. However, let's not be fooled: the Alt-Right is not a new phenomenon - it is a re-branding of the hatred of the past, only with some added flavour. As Hillary Clinton herself said, "No one should have any illusions about what’s really going on here. The names may have changed… Racists now call themselves 'racialists.' White supremacists now call themselves 'white nationalists.' The paranoid fringe now calls itself 'alt-right.' But the hate burns just as bright.". And for all its opposition to political correctness, "Alt-Right" itself is a euphemism for "white [male] supremacy".

Further reading:




4. (note: This article is criticism of the Alt-Right by a conservative; it also covers the anti-Semitic side of the ideology, which I only touched on) 






Thursday, 25 August 2016

A major article

I have been working on a major article, which will be about politics. The piece is not yet complete but I hope to have it up by or during the weekend. It wasn't something I expected to write about but I feel that it is something I need to cover.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

"The Really, Really Giving Tree"

This CollegeHumor video, produced in 2008, is a parody of The Giving Tree, a children's book from the 1960s:

The parody is darker than the book, in that the boy is overtly hostile to the tree and not at all grateful for what the tree gives to him; however, in both the original and the parody, the boy exploits the tree for everything it can provide.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Android 7.0 "Nougat"

Android version 7.0, named "Nougat" in the tradition of dessert names, has been released:

In February 2013, I suggested that "Nougat" could be a possible name for an Android version. Looks as though I was correct about this one! I also wrote that post when "Key Lime Pie" was the expected name for the "K" version, which ultimately turned out to be "KitKat".

Monday, 22 August 2016

College e-mail

My college e-mail still works; I logged in this afternoon to change the password, as it was informing me that it would reset in two weeks (the passwords usually reset about once a month). However, last year, I was able to do the same but that access to it vanished just before the new academic year started, as all student accounts became inaccessible until we began our new courses. I fully expect to lose access to my college e-mail within the next week or two - except this time, I won't be starting a new course at Central, so it's highly unlikely that I'll regain access to it.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Didn't do the walk (2)

Yesterday marked the third day (and second this week and month) that I did not walk to the neighbouring town and back. The reason this time is because I spent several hours in the afternoon speaking to a long-term friend and fellow blogger via Skype; by the time we finished, it was the early evening. I instead went out for an hour to walk but not out of this town.

Still, it was last summer when my friend I and last Skyped; I think having a several-hour-long Skype chat with a good friend is more than worth missing one long walk.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

"Radio Ga Ga" - Queen

While going through Mum's and Dad's CDs, we came across Dad's collection of music by Queen. I've mentioned Queen a couple of times or so on Air Nice-to-Livelands and it's thanks to Dad that I know who they are. This is my favourite song of theirs:

It's "Radio Ga Ga", from their album The Works. Years ago, when we used to listen to Queen CDs in the car, I thought much of their music was good but I thought that "Radio Ga Ga" was the best. Freddie Mercury sure had an awesome voice - my grandfather always praises Mercury whenever his name is mentioned.

And, this song inspired the name "Lady Gaga".

Friday, 19 August 2016

"Blade Runner (End Titles)" - Vangelis

The following song is from a film's end credits:

It's the ending music, composed by Greek musician Vangelis, from Blade Runner, a futuristic dystopian science fiction film from the 1980s - possibly the most notable one from that era. This afternoon, my mother and I were sorting out some more of hers and Dad's CDs when I came across Dad's copy of the soundtrack to Blade Runner, which was Dad's favourite film. I decided to keep the album for nostalgic purposes.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Didn't do the walk

When I went to Nottingham two days ago, it was the first day since the first day I've been back in Northamptonshire that I didn't walk to the neighbouring town. It was late when I returned and I was tired; however, after I departed the bus that evening my brother and I went for a short walk and both yesterday and today, I walked in some extra areas to help make up for that gap.

Still, the four-week period prior to that day is the longest continuous stretch of me walking to the neighbouring town and back.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The flask

Nearly three weeks ago, I participated in an online competition hosted by Trentbarton. Needless to say, I won the competition, which involved working out route names in emoji format. This was my reward:

A flask from the 200 Degrees coffee shop in Nottingham. It will keep food cold or warm for a fairly decent length of time either way (I think it's six hours if hot, 24 if iced). My grandparents and uncle were enthusiastic about it, as was my mother; they all agreed that it is a sturdy flask and wouldn't have been cheap if bought.

While I'm pleased at winning a useful item, I'm delighted that I won a Trentbarton competition. I've ridden on their routes hundreds and hundreds of times (easily north of 500), so it seems fitting to win something sponsored by them! I'll have to visit 200 Degrees, too.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Certificate pick-up

I travelled up to Nottingham this morning via train to collect from my grandparents' house the certificate from my second college course to prove that I passed Access to Higher Education; in addition to a certificate, the envelope also came with a list of my grades. While I already knew my grades, for how Access works, we receive a grade about two weeks after we hand in an assignment, a list of them to hand is extremely useful.

My grandparents and I spent some time together before I then headed back to Northamptonshire. On my bus from theirs back to Nottingham, I went to the outside of Central, with the intention of having a look at the place again before I left; however, I noticed three of the librarians exit the building and so I went over to say hello to them; they were pleased at my award and congratulated me for it. One of them and I chatted for about forty minutes before I had to return to the train station to ensure I was back before the buses local to my mother's house stopped running for the day.

Collecting my certificate, seeing my grandparents and talking to Central's librarians for a bit? Definitely an enjoyable day.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Cat and chips

On my way back from my evening walk, I saw something that brought about mixed feelings of "Good news, everyone!" and "I don't want to live on this planet anymore". What was it? A cat eating out of a container on the ground filled with leftover pie and chips.

It was cute in that the cat was eating out of the container and because the cat would take a chip or two out, run underneath a parked car to eat them before returning to the food to repeat the process. However, it was sad in that the pie, chips and their container were all litter and because a cat should not be eating human food, as it unhealthful for them to do so (well, some meats are okay, provided they're not raw).

The cat looked healthy, so I doubt it was eating the pie and chips because of malnutrition. No, more likely the cat thought the human food smelled nice and decided that it would take a bite. In the long run, the cat munching on the occasional bit of human food in encounters won't hurt it but even so, it's better off with food designed for cats.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Moon landing hoax countering

I was recently shown a link to RationalWiki - a pro-science and anti-pseudoscience wiki, which also covers a host of other topics, such as politics and debate. RationalWiki serves as a counter to wikis that post extremist and/or fringe nonsense. One excellent article I came across on the site was about the conspiracy theory that the Moon landings are a hoax:

I think the article provides an accurate account of the origins of the conspiracy theory as well as gives good counter-arguments against it. My favorite would have to be the part about the US "propping up" the Soviet Union was simultaneously wanting to "humiliate" it - that alone shows the absurdity of how the hoax advocates sound. That, and it's ridiculous to think the US bribed every single country to keep quiet. The obvious explanation is: The Moon landings were real.

(Note that RationalWiki is not connected to Wikipedia. Both sites are wikis, however; see Wikipedia's definition of a wiki for more information.)

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Kenny Baker

Kenny Baker has died:

Kenny Baker is known for playing R2-D2 in the six main Star Wars films and was credited as "R2 Consultant" for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He is somebody who has worked on all seven of the currently-released Star Wars films, so it is certainly a loss for someone who has been there since the beginning to die. Baker had been ill for a while and his death was expected.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Access Student of the Year

This morning, I received in the mail a letter, which had been re-directed from my grandparents' house, informing me that I had been nominated for and won Central College Nottingham's award for Access Student of the Year.

As is to be expected, I am extremely pleased and grateful to have won. Two years ago, I had doubts about whether or not I could make it through Pre-Access - now, I'm an award-winning student! In addition, my History/Sociology teacher informed me the other day on an unrelated issue that there were about 200 Access students in the college - I managed to win out over all of them. Then again, I was one of the most visible students there while I was on Access..when it came to staff.I was known amongst all of the Access teachers, the librarians, the receptionists, the canteen crew, various support workers and the cleaners.

Still, I should not be big-headed. I credit my classmates for making me their class rep/president, which played a major part in making me a more a visible student around Central. I am also thankful for other - and smaller - extracurricular tasks that I was given the chance to perform over the course of the academic year, all of which contributed to my win and my enjoyment of my course.

The awards ceremony will take place in early November. I look forward to attending.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

University place confirmed

It's official. When I checked UCAS this afternoon to view the status of my university application, it had recently changed to state that my place at Nottingham Trent University has now been confirmed. The diploma and qualification certificate I earned as a result of Access is at my grandparents' house, which I will make arrangements to pick up next week.

Wow...I've made it into university. Granted, I'm not yet enrolled with NTU but I have the qualification and place confirmed! My move-in day is a little over a month away.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Michael Phelps

I wrote this on Facebook about Michael Phelps, with regards to his wins in the current 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro:

"Michael Phelps is truly an impressive athlete; unlike those who are talked up as great and then go on to lose, he is dismissed and goes on to win (such as when he wasn't believed about being able to pull off eight golds in 2008) - not to mention his leaving retirement to compete once again. My family have been fans of his since the 2004 Games, so we're glad he's now the most-decorated Olympian - certainly a worthy and decent person for the title."

Phelps has always come across as genuine whenever we've seen or heard him be interviewed. He's definitely deserving of all his success; that he's competed in so many Olympics and performed strongly in all of them is a testament to him.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Path through the barley

Not too long ago, I walked on this path through a field of barley:

Yes, that's a deliberate reference to a Sting song.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" - the Eivonjof Tropical Remix

In June 2012, I wrote about Daniel Powter, his 2006 hit, his troubles since then and his recovery. It has occurred to me several times this year that it's now been ten years since "Bad Day" was a huge success on American radio. Unfortunately, since that post of mine, Powter continues to be a one-hit wonder.

This evening, I listened to "Bad Day" as well as had a look for any remix versions of it; the first I found was the Eivonjof Tropical Remix:

Powter hasn't gone away, though; I found these two articles, which note that he is still active and wants to achieve a comeback. I would like to see another huge hit from him but I don't know if it's possible; even if he did achieve something as successful as or more than "Bad Day", I would hate it if he encountered difficulties again or experienced something akin to Robin Thicke, in which his relationship was destroyed and his former image tarnished. We'll have to see; I wish Powter all the best, regardless.

The two protests

Two days ago, I read that a small and peaceful anti-racism protest occurred in Nottingham; the protest consisted of this small group temporarily blocking the tram routes to draw attention to their cause. While they received praise, there was significant public outrage, especially on social media, which referred to the protesters as "jobless losers", "unclean" and an "annoyance for workers and people going on holiday", as well as referred to them as "thugs".

Yesterday, the English Defence League, which is known for its extreme racism and history of violence, held a protest in Nottingham. While extra police officers were called in to guarantee peace and attractions in the Market Square were closed because of "the risks [the protest] could pose to children and families", there was no equal outrage on social media. In fact, there was nothing that I observed to condemn the protest, despite the EDL's bigotry and reputation for violence.

I found these double standards saddening. That people would be outraged at a small anti-racism protest - even if it did delay public transport users a little - while ignoring a much larger and potentially dangerous racist protest is highly disappointing.

A news article about the protest can be found here.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

The lyrical reminder

In the early morning, I was listening to "Strong" by Robbie Williams. Now bear in mind I've listened to this song at least a couple dozen times; however, on this occasion, the following lyric stood out to me:

"And that's a good line to take it to the bridge"

It reminded me of something someone said to me over nine years ago, which was "step away from the bridge" (I was interacting with a troll on the Internet). Back then, I thought the person was advising me to remove myself from a metaphorical helm, like on a ship; however, when listening to "Strong", I realised that the person was making a clever reference to Three Billy Goats Gruff - the fairy tale in which a troll living under a bridge is defeated by goats.

Either way, I was being asked to remove myself from the situation but the metaphor was more clever than I had initially realised. A shame it took me over nine years to work out - and with the help of a song I'd heard several times!

Friday, 5 August 2016

Most common last names in Europe

I came across this article in The Independent; it shows a map of the popular common last names in Europe and what their meanings are:

It made me smile that on both maps, the United Kingdom had "Smith" as its most popular last name! To my knowledge, Smith is still the most common last name in America, too.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

The 55th

Today is President Barack Obama's 55th birthday; it is also his final birthday in the White House. It's a shame that he can't spend more birthdays there but he is term-limited and even if he could run again, a part of me thinks that he is tired of all constant conflicts with Congress and fed up with being blamed for everything that goes wrong without receiving credit for positive developments, and that he is looking forward to a well-earned break.

Happy birthday, President Obama! All being well, your 56th birthday will be a much quieter one for you!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Walking record

Every day since Monday the 18th of July, I have walked to the neighbouring town and back. As the walk is a minimum of 4.5 miles in total distance, I have walked at least 70 miles since coming back for the summer, which is a low estimate as it doesn't include any shorter walks or times when I've extended my usual daily long walk. I've walked to the town and back for seventeen days in a row, which is the clear record for the longest continuous streak of me walking there; I shall keep the walks there and back up for as much as I can while I'm here.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

"99 Red Balloons" and "99 Luftballons" - Nena

This song is another one I discovered from Dad's music collection:

It's "99 Red Balloons" by Nena, a German band. It was released in the early 1980s and is a protest song against war and nuclear weapons. "99 Red Balloons" is the English version of the band's "99 Luftballons"; however, it is not a direct translation and the band expressed frustration at the two versions not being properly in sync with one another. Regardless, "99 Red Balloons" is still a worthy anti-war song - it conveys its message well.

"99 Luftballons" can be found here:

Monday, 1 August 2016

The 1900

Yesterday's post was my 1900th one overall. It's been over five years and I still have yet to miss a day; a few times it's come close but I've always managed to post something. Assuming I keep this up in the short term, my 2000th post should occur about the time of Election Day in the United States.