Tag Archive: Sport

Why Throw Away History?

The Web, History, Link-rot & Crawling Chaos

A Hockey Stick

A Hockey Stick, nothing to do with Climate Change

Again, while checking for link-rot, I came across a broken link on the Crawling Chaos website.  Specifically, it’s when I deal with our introduction to Factory Records and that I played with a hockey team called Northumbria alongside the Tyne Tees Television (TTTV) newsreader called Rod Griffith.

I included a referral link to their old website, http://www.warrm.demon.co.uk/history.htm.  This is now dead so I’ve used the Wayback Machine’s link from 2001 on the page instead.  Using a well known search engine (he he), I now find they are called Whitley Bay & Tynemouth Hockey Club with this website.

1902

It is definitely the same club as there’s another link to this website, a place-marker in a compendium of clubs that has a single piece of history on it – it says “founded 1902”!!

Disappointing

It’s actually more than disappointing, it’s very sad.  There’s a fair bit of history to the club and all they can publicly pronounce is “founded 1902″…   It should be more than this.  The Toon has a history page, only from WW2 mind, but it’s more than nothing.  Spurs like-wise, and it goes back to the 19th century!

It all adds to the guts of what makes a club.

It’s not hard to compile a history for the web.  Once someone has typed it out, it’s not going to change much is it?  It’s history!  The typed words can be copied anywhere.  Any, where.  Even here, say….

A Short History of Whitley Bay & Tynemouth Hockey Club (founded 1902)

From an article dated June 16, 2004 here.

Tynemouth Hockey Club has recently celebrated its centenary year. The club began life playing under the name of North Durham in 1902. At that time most of the players were clergymen who travelled to away games in a horse drawn carriage. Later in the century the club changed its name to Northumbria and played its home games at the Miners’ Welfare ground in the village of Backworth. The club made another move to North Shields where they became known as Tynemouth Hockey Club and played on the ground used by Tynemouth Cricket Club. In 1989 an astro pitch was laid at Wallsend Sports Centre so the club transferred itself to another new location but retained the name of Tynemouth Hockey Club.

In November 1997 Tynemouth Hockey Club moved from Wallsend Sports Centre to two new astro pitches at The Parks, North Shields.

Conclusion

Thanks to The Parks and Ali Gordon for corresponding with a gentleman from Inverness who has sent this photograph to the club. As far as we know it is the oldest surviving photograph that we possess. Durham North as the men’s team was originally called, began life in 1902. The first match was played on 18th October 1902 against Novocastrians. We lost 4-1!

Thanks to The Parks and Ali Gordon for corresponding with a
gentleman from Inverness who has sent this photograph to the club.
As far as we know it is the oldest surviving photograph that we
possess. Durham North as the men’s team was originally called, began
life in 1902. The first match was played on 18th October 1902 against
Novocastrians. We lost 4-1!

This is a very short history, but it’s better than the nothing that is currently shown.  I played for Northumbria (as it then was) at Backworth & Tynemouth from 1972 to around 1980, not too regularly, but enough to feel part of it.

There are some documents that are downloadable, but nothing that exposes the past to a wider audience.  They are nearly all either Word or PDF files!  Totally un-crawlable with the web search spiders.  For instance, in the newsletter for October 2015 here, we find this wonderful photo.

Because it’s wrapped inside a PDF file, no-one would ever know.

I’ve copied it, and the text, as a caption (I’ll pull it, if asked, but one has to consider if my reasons are valid first).  Now, I know my website will be crawled within a few minutes of me posting – this means that all the text will be available for all, the small amount of history from the original website too.

And the Novocastrians as mentioned in the photo?  Yep.  I played against them too.  It’s all fun and it’s a part of many folks’ lives especially in an age of increasing information and decreasing paper records.

This stuff needs to be public and kept else what is a society?  Sometimes looking and talking about history is very comforting.  It’s what some people do when they stop playing, since sport is for younger folks.

Now, because of my SEO skills and experience I can guarantee that if someone searches for Whitley Bay & Tynemouth Hockey Club, Backworth hockey, Tynemouth hockey, Rod Griffith or Novocastrians (say), this page will be there for all to find.

Recent Activity

Recent Activity

On top of that:

  • There seems to be no effort on the part of Pitchero who host the website or whoever else may maintain the website to keep links alive.  The site is riddled with 404s and inconsistencies.
  • Some document files are PDF, some are DOC, some are XLS files.  Some are links to a Pitchero login so are unavailable, except if you login with Facebook ffs!
  • A major part of a sports club is the fixture list.  Some links don’t point to where they should or else the template hasn’t been updated from the 2012-3 season.  Some are XLS files with the same info appearing on other webpages.

It is all a mess, primarily supporting the sponsors’ huge logos and it’s all very sad.  Maybe there’s some information overload for the webmaster, maybe it’s internal politics, maybe too many people have their fingers in the web pie?

It could be so much better, cleaner, consistent and useful to a club member.  I see Steve Troup just joined as a webmaster, hopefully he can tidy things up and get some club history sorted out!

Rant over.

 

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Boundless Hypocrisy Over Kate’s Tits

Public Breast-beating Over Middleton Paparazzi Photos

You must understand that there is no news today.
Everything is celebrity, sport and royal in the UK.
Everyone has a media correspondent, a sports correspondent and a royal correspondent.
Reporters just report on the latest twitter feed.  No-one searches.

There are several aspects to this boob photos media blizzard.

  • There’s the mass media  almost to a man, fawning and groping at half truths.
  • There are many ordinary people wondering what’s going on.

So I’ll explain.                                  (As I see it, natch)

If you want the tit and bum shots, check at the end.  If you can’t wait, click here for the latest information on modified sweat glands.


Private Pictures, Public Place?

We now have several (mainly establishment types) people making exaggerated claims about the camera location.  Well, I’ve checked.

The photos were NOT taken “over a mile and a half away”, nor “well over a mile” away, nor “about a mile away”, nor “from a long way off, in private woods”, but about half a mile away.  The house is clearly visible, along with the windows, railings and garden stuff that appear in the photos on Google Maps Streetview.

I’ve chosen a point ~ 900m from the building as one of many good vantage points.  Go down now to see it.

If I used my hand-held camera taking a shot, I could see the whites of the eyes….  Yes really!  To demonstrate — here are two pictures that show the capability of my hand-held Panasonic Lumix, DMC-TZ30. 

Be careful when clicking as I’ve uploaded the shots at full resolution.  Once loaded, click the little green arrow to see the pictures in all their full-size glory – you will need to scroll both vertically and horizontally to find the yacht when on full-size.

They are hand-held, on a normal day, just like many of my recent shots from my recent French vacation.  I have many high-res scenic shots – I’ll have to check them through – who knows what I’ll find LOL.

No Zoom of Yacht - Can you see it?

No Zoom:  There’s a Yacht here – Can you see it?
Click to see just how really small it is.

20x Optical Zoom of Yacht

20x Optical Zoom of Yacht – Now can you see it?
Click and you’ll see a tanker in the background which I couldn’t see at all with the naked eye.
These two shots and more are visible at lower resolution here on Christine’s Beach Hut.

If someone was on the yacht, I could see them.  The boat is several miles offshore – nearly on the horizon actually!   So don’t let the Streetview shot below fool you – the house is a lot closer than it looks, even from the position I’ve chosen here.  It is only 900 metres away!

The house is dead centre in this link.   So it is a private house visible in public, much like me in my bedroom at night with the curtains open, okay?  My camera could have easily shown them doing anything. Easily.  Yet if I can be easily seen in my bedroom at night (i.e. clearly a private place as they keep repeating) I can get done for indecent exposure?  Right?

Hopefully, by seeing the capability of my own camera in conjunction with a normal Streetview of the area, you can now see how incongruous the claims that this is a private place actually are?

(p.s. pan left – it’s a lovely view!)

View Larger Map


But surely, 900m is a Long Way, isn’t it?

The firstworldwar.com website shows the standard issue British rifle  in WW1 as having guaranteed accuracy up to 600m.  This had no optical scope, just sights to be used by a normal man.  This means a kill shot at 600m, not just wounding, which shows the hand/eye/gun precision easily possible from anyone.  900 metres doesn’t look so far now, eh?
I also remember reading in “With a Machine Gun to Cambrai”, the author George Coppard saying that he picked off men at a similar range with just one or two rounds from his heavy machine gun.  This is despite the juddery nature of a heavy machine gun.

Again, 900 metres doesn’t look so far now, eh?


A Right to Privacy?

Well almost.

The royals have done very well over the last few years with Elizabeth II’s annus horribalis being mostly forgotten.  But let’s cast our minds back, shall we?

At that time, Diana and Fergie had caused much embarrassment with their girlie antics.  Charlie’s behaviour outside the public face of marital fidelity was well known and became ever-more detailed as time passed.  Phil the Greek was his usual self and scandal after scandal built up until the Castle burnt down.  So that was that – then.

Now we have Harry getting his kit off to the amusement of the world (in a €6000 a night hotel suite on a serviceman’s salary, note),  but being dismissed as “just letting off steam but must be more careful in future”.  And almost synchronously in time with Harry, it now appears, Kate & Wills feel so assured in their new-found popularity that they can do anything.  They certainly have the money for it.

But you know – they can’t.

If they want the esteemed position that they publicly project and behind which the combined forces of a fawning mass media enforce, then they must behave like it.  They cannot behave like normal holidaymakers and not expect a come-back no matter how “ordinary” Kate was supposed to have been.  You can’t be a “highness” and not expect attention?   They cannot say and do anything – for one thing, our constitution forbids it!

For another, the public will hate it and they need the public much more than we need them.

Why don’t they all just go away?  I won’t mind a bit.  Maybe this’ll be a turning point as the penny drops?

Privacy – What Privacy? – added 18/9/2012

The BBC has now leapt onto my referencing Google Streetview as an aid to showing relative privacy.  Of course, the devil-in-the-detail of this is not mentioned as I’ve done above.

BBC Copies Me - Chateau d'Autet

BBC Copies Me – Chateau d’Autet
Click image for BBC webpage

But that’s not my point here, is it?  Neither is my point that criminal proceedings are now starting.   My point is that for all of us….

Our Own Privacy is Zilch.

We are (or will be):

  • Subjected to full intimate  body scans at airports by faceless private “agencies”
  • Have our emails and web activity saved and analysed at leisure by faceless private “agencies”
  • Followed down every street, across every junction, inside every shop by CCTV “security” cameras run by faceless private “agencies”
  • Have our phones tapped by faceless private “agencies”
  • Have our shopping habits monitored by faceless private “businesses”
  • Have our finances, credit cards, driving licences all cross-referenced ad infinitum with our passports, our insurances, our taxes and more – by faceless private “agencies”

…and all of this is done to us while the few that own these “agencies” and “businesses” flaunt their wealth, hide their money, holiday in their tax havens, pay no taxes, are as secret and private as they choose to be, collude to manage information and the law, and then have the audacity to tell us how to behave.  Royalty is just the icing on top of a very rich cake…..

Charles & Camilla recently visited the notable tax haven of Jersey on the of 18th July for a day – it cost us £60,000 which we paid to Jersey!   The current SE Asia visit will cost on a par with the last Canadian tour which cost the Canadians alone nearly $2m in security.

  • Why do we let them get away with it?
  • What use are they?
  • Where is our privacy?
  • Where is our return on investment?  I see none.

Reverting to Type?

I’ve just been to a “do” at the Lily Langtry in Bournemouth.  This is the former house, bought by Edward VII as Prince of Wales for his actress mistress , Lily Langtry, the first face of Pears Soap..

And here’s where more hypocrisy creeps in as those reversions to type are conveniently forgotten.

As we all know, Charles, William’s dad, was knocking off Camilla his mistress both before and during his marriage to Diana, Wills’ mother.  Much like Edward VII & Langtry.  All of the UK knows this.  Now Camilla is supposed to be “accepted”, according to our fawning press.  A few grannies during the jubilee said she looked nice….well that’s it then!

Yet in France, for years the hobbled press kept secret the facts of former President Mitterrand’s mistress and his second family….a bit like secret polygamy, but in a Catholic country….?   Yet millions get their kit off in summer all over France?

Ye-es, as Paxman would say….

The French press hid also the fact that 200 Algerians were slaughtered and chucked in the Seine in 1961 by the police.  Now that’s privacy!   Obviously, this is sarcasm, but the royals are using this weird French cultural mish-mash  and press/law combo for their own advantage……. They think!  They should hope!

Clearly, French privacy is wholly different to the British version.  I can get done for undressing while forgetting to shut the curtains, but in France my privacy to do this is upheld?

Ye-es I hear Paxman saying again.


Media Guff and Fawn

So how can we accept protestations about “rightness” from these people when nothing is said about actions and happenings either then or now which go clearly against their public statements and media view of their lifestyle?

If the next likely Prince of Wales, Wills, turns out like other former Princes of Wales’, do we wash it away but say that sensationalistic reporting of public/private sunbathing “hotties” is wrong?

Because a “hottie” is what Kate is – she’s smart, apparently intelligent, elegant and (most importantly for the press), hot in a swimsuit  – as earlier photos revealed. (Remember the debate in all the papers about who was hotter, Kate or Pippa?  Of course you do, but you’d forgotten, hadn’t you?).

The success of the Daily Mail website hangs on her and other sensationalist voyeuristic shots of hundreds of “hotties” – here’s today’s Kate article; note the HUGE list down the right for articles, near half of which are for scantily clad women.    n.b. Checking the Mail On-line now shows a huge dearth of the usual skin revealing links.

The comments at the bottom, like I said, for the most part, go totally against the fawning theme of the piece.  One repeats the mile and a half lie so that mud has stuck again.

Indeed, for those with long memories, the video at the bottom harps on about Berlesconi’s ownership of the magazines and his publication of Diana’s car photos  “minutes after the accident”.

Now, maybe you remember that  following Diana’s crash, The Daily Mail solemnly pledged never to use paparazzi photos again?

Yet virtually all the links down the right of any Mail page are paparazzi pictures!  They have to be – they’ve sacked nearly everyone and the paper would fold without them.

Porn Baron Protests and Threatens to Close Magazine!

Yes.  It’s true.  Here’s the chronology.

  1. French magazine publishes photos taken during the summer. – 14 Sep – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19595221
  2. Irish paper does the same on Saturday. – 15 Sep – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19611407
  3. Italian magazine follows suit. – 17 Sep (today) – http://www.metro.co.uk/news/912183-topless-photos-of-duchess-published-in-italian-magazine-chi

It’s the Irish one that’s interesting!  It’s co-owned by Richard (Dirty) Desmond, who besides running UK TV’s Channel 5 and  publishing the Daily Express and tit paper The Daily Star, also runs porn channels Red Hot TV and Television X.  This growth was part financed by selling off his earlier publishing business which included such salubrious titles as Asian Babes and Readers Wives.  Notably, his celebrity magazines of OK! and New! are full of paparazzi photos…….  like, dah?

Now, to top it all, Desmond has said he wants the Irish paper closed….. – 17 Sep – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19621188     He must be after a knighthood or something because his history shows that prurient disapproval is not one of his strong-points.  It’s laughable.

The lady (and Desmond) doth protest too much, methinks. – Hamlet

Mass Media Princely Support, Public Split

Checking the comments following news reporting, I note a two-thirds majority telling Kate to keep her kit on if she doesn’t want to be rumbled.  This is despite the media claiming “over-whelming condemnation” or whatever.

It’s just simply not there.  Most of the public aren’t swallowing it.

Sooner or later there will be a backlash against the Royals if they keep this up.  Let well alone, it’d have blown over, much like Harry’s knob-tastic exposures.  But keeping it going, on and on, using their inherited and publicly provided wealth to pursue legal redress shows them seriously out of touch with the common mood, no matter how much the mass media are beefing them up.

The recent Hilsborough revelations show that media collusion is not a new thing.


Tits and Bums

A lot of people are behaving like bums or making a tit of themselves.

Those in “the establishment” are doing what those in the establishment normally do, which is to fawn and whine, pontificate and lie, all to keep ranks under the firm expectation of a gong at some point.

Then there are the “granny types” who all think she’s lovely and that the queen does a marvellous job.

There’s a few who see it as an attack on women, part of the objectification of women that’s happened for millenia and has now gone past saucy postcards, through Page 3 and porn mags (like Dirty Desmond’s) to full on ubiquitous internet porn and the gyrating phone girls on Freeview.  (All very valid, but not my gist)

Then there’s everyone else!

These are in two camps, I think;

  • those that don’t care either way but think the royals should think themselves lucky to get free holidays and trips and well looked after for the whole of their lives
  • those that just want to see the tits

Well, thanks to Kate & Wills’ explosive reaction, Kate’s bits are everywhere now.

For instance, here’s an enterprising guy (Oliver James) in Bath, UK, who’s got a domain up and running in record time!  See http://www.katemiddletontopless.co.uk/ for all the shots you’ll need.  A WHOIS puts the owner, Bee Digital Media Ltd,  in California.  But a company search places it here in the UK!  (better watch out Oliver…..perhaps….?)

BEE DIGITAL MEDIA LIMITED  (also has website bee-digital.co.uk)

Address removed since it’s been reported as changed, thanks Dan

Kate Middleton Topless Photos – Prince William and Kate Suing Publication

Kate Middleton Topless Photos – Prince William and Kate Suing Publication

Apart from that, there are loads of others.  One that caught my eye was a website called Divided States, a US political site.  They had a web-page here, http://www.dividedstates.com/kate-middleton-topless-photos-prince-william-and-kate-suing-publication/ which they’ve now pulled.  How coy.

Fortunately, the Google Cache shows us this – the full copy of their original posting – click here or the screenshot for the cache. (full image available on request)

  • So am I a tit or a bum?
  • Is Oliver above?
  • Is Berlesconi?  Berlesconi certainly has gripes with the UK following his latin faux-pas with the queen and others….?  Maybe he’s publishing just for revenge?

Conclusion

Wills, with his experience, has behaved like a knob.  He should have known better.  He slipped up, which is a possible explanation for the rapid response unit being thrown into action.  It was notably absent following the Harry incident.

But really, what everyone has totally forgotten, is the old adage:

Don’t throw stones when you live in a greenhouse.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. – Hamlet


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Panasonic DMC-TZ30EB-R: Is this not a work of art?

Panasonic DMC-TZ30 Compact Camera

Panasonic DMC-TZ30EB-R: Is this not a work of art?

Panasonic DMC-TZ30EB-R: Is this not a work of art?

I’m afraid my old TZ7 (which replaced my earlier TZ5 due to my clumsiness) has now had to be replaced with the new TZ30. The reason?  At some unknown moment, my usual dollard-ish clumsiness put a scratch on the lens…..  the whole recent trip to Australia is marred (to my eyes at least) by a fuzzy mark off-centre at 2 o’clock.

I wanted the red one as it’s a beautiful thing indeed.  In fact, I hunted to get one at a good price within a reasonable time-scale, but have settled for the black one for cost and because I can get it now!..  (The Panasonic DMC-TZ30EB-K).

Iggy Pop, October 25, 1977 at the State Theatr...

Gratuitous photo of Iggy Pop from October 25, 1977 at the State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s now on the way so watch this space for my opinions and results later!!.  I’m extremely hopeful due to the reviews I’ve read.

I’ve waited and have passed over the TZ20 and other incarnations due to unfavourable comments and lack of substantial change in their features.  Now, the TZ30 has tipped the balance for me.  The GPS feature introduced with the TZ10 hasn’t had much interest to me, but maybe this’ll change all that!

Specification Highlights for me are:

  • The 20x optical zoom (naturally) in a body that’s less obtrusive than my current TZ7.
  • Better ISO performance – reputed to be very good at low light down to ISO800.
  • Better burst mode shooting.  It’s supposed to be 10 fps whereas my TZ7 only does about three….  I have some stop-action movie ideas that I started with my old Fuji FinePix F30 that I’d like to continue and expand upon.  The F30 did reasonable frames per second whereas the TZ7 is just too slow for the effects I want.
  • Semi-automatic panorama shooting.  Much better than the old manual stitch mode….
  • Rapid autofocus (AF) – reputed to be 1/10 second.  Combine this with burst mode and nature and sport shots should be great with at least one being on the button.

The info on the Panasonic site is here, though what it doesn’t mention is that the TZ30 battery is also used in the TZ7, which is a bonus for me!  I even have a spare already!  WaHaY!

Specification Gotchas:

The only one I’ve spotted that directly affects my expectations is that in burst mode, the auto-focus is fixed once the burst starts, at 10fps.  However, to counter this the feature is more variable than I’m used to in that with burst mode set to 5fps autofocus and zoom work concurrently!  This definitely needs playing with!

My Standard Expectations:

  • Minimal blue/purple casts or fringing at high contrast edges.
  • Wonderful summer shots with vibrant colour.
  • Much better focus changing in video zooming.

My Quantum Leap Hopes:

  • The same or better sound quality that the F30 and TZ7 delivered.  Both produced full non-clipped audio sound at rock concerts!  The TZ7 does it in stereo.  (see my Iggy Pop video below, discussed in this post, Iggy at Hammersmith).
  • Much, much faster autofocus and burst shooting than I’m used to.  This includes the continuous autofocus & zoom at 5fps mentioned earlier.
  • Much better auto-focus on video zoom especially and pictures generally.  I’m hoping the intelligence of the thing has been re-jigged……    To explain…….

The tendency on my TZ7 is to focus on the near-field whether it’s bright or dark. Yet I want it to focus on what the human eye drifts to, i.e., bright objects.  On the TZ7 I’ve had to use human intervention to override the camera expectations….
The video below shows this.

For me the prime purpose of a compact camera is to get the best shot possible as fast as possible.

At the Stooges concert at Hammersmith below, I’d waited for ages and then suddenly the band came on and kicked off immediately! There was no time to prime the focus because I knew I’d miss some performance, so I had to make allowances for the camera deficiencies by pulling back zoom and trying to get autofocus on the bright areas by field drifting.
Ideally, I should have asked Mr Pop to restart his concert so that I could stop the video, auto-focussing on maximum zoom to distance and then restarting the video before he kicked off again.  ;-)  Obviously that wasn’t going to happen so I did the best I could without missing any of the performance of my historic bête noire idol.
As it was, my guess was right, even to continuing filming without a break, because against all rumours and knowledge that the Raw Power album was to be played in order, it wasn’t!              Search & Destroy immediately followed Raw Power.
 

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Google Gagarin

It Was 50 Years Ago, Today

…when mankind left the gravitational confines of our Earth.

Google Gagarin

Google Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

A poor boy from the steppes, Yuri Gagarin, simultaneously became the first man in space and the first man to leave Earth and orbit it completely.  (This is something that took NASA several steps before John Glenn finally emulated the feat).

While of humble background (like Jesus), his father was a carpenter (like Jesus) and his mother read voraciously (as Jesus knew the scriptures).  Obviously, Gagarin wasn’t Jesus, but he did die in his mid-thirties which parallels Jesus’s early death.

Gagarin Launch

Gagarin Launch

I was alive when Gagarin stunned the world by being shot into space.  I remember very few photos of the man or the event.  The West was naturally very embarrassed by being overshadowed by a dictator-led communist state.  Most scientists were just astonished.  Most politicians and the mainstream media were extremely alarmist in public (and fully actioned in private) because the inter-continental aspect of chucking a nuclear weapon sized piece of machinery aloft at the height of the cold war was paramount in their minds.

What struck me then and since was the fact that Gagarin always seemed to have a happy cheeriness about him.  When we now see his pre-flight pictures, his confidence is astounding, because remember, before the voyage, mankind had conflicting ideas about the very survivability for a man in the entirely hostile and unforgiving environment of space.  Some said that a man would die within half and hour from radiation….

Of course, the Soviet scientists had tested these theories with mammals (dogs & ape) and knew that even though the animals died on their space-flights (and were destined to die, by design), they knew that a man could survive the flight and if a return to Earth could be made, he’d live to see another day.  They’d also done a small step-by-step approach to their rocketry so even though the rocket was made primarily as an ICBM, its designer was actually more interested in getting men into space and had designed accordingly.  (see this article on Sergei Korolev and his space-flight dreams).

This, Gagarin duly did, by re-entering the atmosphere in his capsule and then, when the speed had sufficiently reduced, by opening his capsule and leaping from it to then descend on a conventional parachute.

Amazingly, this all worked, perfectly.

International Space Station

International Space Station

We now see the benefits of this early Soviet work because for the next few years, transport of people to the International Space Station (ISS) will be done by the Russian Soyuz spacecraft alone now that the NASA Space Shuttle is grounded for good.

The Soyuz is a direct descendant of Gagarin’s early capsule and the subsequent work and deaths of Soviet cosmonauts.  Later joint work with NASA and their own accidents and astronaut deaths have made the Soyuz platform very reliable, in space flight terms.  See this Wikipedia article for a full introduction to space-flight of all kinds.

Google Celebration

Google, characteristically, have celebrated Gagarin’s achievement (and that it was, make no mistake, he was a very, very, brave man), with a decorated main page which I’ve copied for posterity above.

Hooray For Gagarin.

So it was 50 years ago today.  An event that changed the world and our perception of it and ourselves  in the universe.

It’s only people some years older than myself who actually remember the previous world where people remained fixed to the planet and could only dream and wonder about the reality beyond.  For myself and folks younger than me, we can only to imagine what that world was like because we are part of the world that Gagarin’s bravery opened up for us..

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Whales and Space Demonstrate Contrasts In Humanity

Introduction

Two items on today’s news demonstrated the vast contrasts in our humanity. Stardust probe finds ‘subdued’ comet crater & Japan halts whale hunt after chase by protesters.

Our Absolute Ingenuity and Progress

Four views of comet Tempel 1 as the Stardust spacecraft swept past.

Four views of comet Tempel 1 as the Stardust spacecraft swept past.

The absolute ingenuity of us humans and how far we have come since our cave-dwelling days is supremely demonstrated by the return of pictures by the spacecraft, Stardust.

In this case, 12 years ago, Stardust was launched to look at an asteroid then collect samples from the dust of a comet, Wild 2It did all of this wonderfully.

Then, in the meantime, another spacecraft, Deep Impact, had been launched which crashed a small craft into another comet, Tempel, back in 2005, creating a crater.

The fantastic demonstration of our technical expertise is that almost on a whim, it was decided to get the first craft, Stardust, to have a look at this crater and beam the picture back to us – and it did all of this automatically, 336 million km from Earth, which a radio signal takes 18 minutes to travel!

Evidence of the crater: Left shows a Deep Impact photo from 2005; Right shows Stardust's image with a small extra crater.

Evidence of the crater: Left shows a Deep Impact photo from 2005; Right shows Stardust’s image with a small extra crater.

Our Reluctance to Depart from our Hunter-gatherer Past

Dead Minke Whales On the Nisshin Maru research factory ship

Dead Minke On the Nisshin Maru “research factory ship”

Some people still hunt for sport.  Some nations dress hunting up with weasel words and hide their blood-lust behind the veil of science.  Such a nation is Japan which kills whales for “scientific research” (900-odd this year) yet openly reveals this research as a fraud with with the real goals of short-term monetary gain and blood lust .

Whale for Sale: Sales of whalemeat have fallen, despite promotion

Whale for Sale: Sales of whalemeat have fallen, despite promotion

Here we see an advert for the “research” results.

mmm yummy.

It’s a desperate thing to see this because the Japanese claim that there lots of whales to eat – which was exactly what was said about the blue whale, right whale etc, all of which are now rarities of the ocean when once, they were plentiful.

It’s now being revealed by real research, that the more diverse an ecosystem is (and we live in one, you know), the more chance we will have of surviving all manner of disasters – disease, drought, climate change etc.

Thank Goodness For Bravery

Whalers clash with Conservationists

Whalers clash with Conservationists

So we should all thank the people from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society who have peacefully risked their lives “for the bigger picture”.

It’s another aspect of humanity revealed to me today, in the news.

Bravery & Courage.

Ady Gil and Shonan Maru 2 confrontation

Ady Gil and Shonan Maru 2 confrontation

The whalers say constant harassment has forced them to suspend operations – well dah!

That’s the definition of bravery, as seen in these dramatic shots.

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