Monthly Archives: November 2011

30 years ago, I predicted that the rate at which the universe was expanding was itself increasing, but I forgot to publish it.  Consequently I was denied the credit (and the Nobel Prize) when it was discovered in 1998 that the universe is indeed expanding at an accelerating rate.

So, to avoid another debacle like that, here are my scientific predictions for things that will be experimentally verified in the coming years (some of these have already appeared in my published books):

  1. The velocity of light is increasing by a very small amount over time
  2. The velocity of light measured over a small local coordinate system will be greater than measured over a large distance (if not for Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, it could tend towards infinity)
  3. Antimatter possesses no gravity but is subject to the gravity of matter (that’s really two predictions)
  4. Antimatter decays into photons rapidly even if it does not encounter matter

I will publish the explanations for these predictions later.  I may even wait until they are experimentally verified.  I will merely provide a hint: they are all linked to the expansion of the universe.

But for now just remember: you read it here first!


 

This is an urgent warning about a crooked website (or several) supposedly selling cheap Ugg boots. These sites have been sending out a lot of spam to try and raise their Page Rank.

The trouble is that in addition to these illicit methods, they are also a fraudulent site to begin with. That is, they do not actually deliver any Ugg boots (or anything else) they just take customer’s money. They keep changing their websites and banks so that it is hard to track and catch them.


They are run by the Russian Mafia and Nigerian fraudsters who have cost a lot of well-meaning people considerable sums of money (they harvest bank details and use them again to empty your account and they also sell on the details to other fraudsters). In some cases these websites also try to plant spyware on your computer.

Please avoid ANY site that offers “cheap Ugg boots” or “Bargain Ugg boots”, or “Children’s Ugg Boots” etc. Do not log onto their sites at all if you can help it and certainly DO NOT BUY FROM THEM – You won’t get your goods or your money back.

 

Is there no end to government corruption?

In 2008, the government nationalized the bankrupt bank Northern Rock and injected $1.4 Billion of taxpayer’s money to save it.  This was in addition to the £25 Billion that Northern Rock owed the Bank of England.  The bank had got over-extended by lending  too generously, way beyond its deposits, and relying on inter-bank lending, which then dried up when the American banks got caught out by their bad loans to unreliable borrowers.

At the time of the bailout, we were told by the last government that in due course the taxpayers would get their money back.  At no stage did Gordon Browns and Alistair Darling – or their cheerleader like Lord Skidelsky – qualify that pledge with the word “some.”  They said we would get our money back.  Yes it would take time, but in the end we get our money back.

They even said that we would probably make a profit!

But what have they done now?  They have sold Northern Rock to Richard Branson’s “Virgin Money” for £747 million, plus a  further £50 million within six months. According to press reports “an additional £150 million will be realised in the form of a financial instrument.”  Finally the deal promises “up to” an additional £80 million if Northern Rock is sold or publicly floated within  five years of the deal. In other words it is being sold for £947 million, with the possibility of a further £80 million.

In other words, we taxpayer’s poured in £1.4 Billion, we assumed the full risk when the bank was going through that critical period and now that the risk is over, Richard Branson is going to get his greasy paws on our property for less than three quarters of the price that we taxpayers paid for it!


What is interesting, is that so far the politicians of the last government haven’t contradicted the claims of the Chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, that this is good deal for the taxpayer.  In other words, they do not dispute that Northern Rock is worth less than we taxpayers were forced to pay.  By the same token, George Osborne and David Cameron didn’t criticize the bailout at the time on the grounds that we were paying too much for what the asset was actually worth.  Although they criticized the incompetence that led to the collapse, they supported the bailout -presumably because they wanted to stay on the right side of their cronies in the banking sector for that rainy day in the future.


This is not the first time Branson tried to buy Northern Rock.  he tried when it first got into trouble, but on terms that would give him the profit while the risk would still be with the taxpayer.  But now he has got his way.  And of course the bank is still some £8.9 BILLION in debt to the Bank of England.  They have been repaying this faster than expected – which no doubt explains why Branson is so anxious to get his paws on the bank.  It will be a cash cow for him and the British taxpayer will carry the burden.

But that’s no skin off Branson’s nose – most of his companies are registered abroad… IN TAX HAVENS!!!!!!

 

I remember after Michael Jackson was acquitted of child molesting charges, a silly little star-struck English girl who had flown all the way out to America to “support” him, telling a reporter that the verdict proved that the three people who had accused Michael Jackson of abusing them (at different times) were “liars.”  Of course she was talking a load of rubbish, but it gave a powerful insight into the warped mind of the immature, adolescent fan – the type who loves the famous and wants to be famous herself (probably a “modu”).

I remembered wondering at that time if the empty-headed little idol-worshipper would have dropped everything and travelled thousands of miles to support a poor man accused of a crime whom she thought to be innocent.  But then again, perhaps the question was unfair because she wouldn’t even know of such a case.  It was obvious that she didn’t take an active interest in miscarriages of justice, controversial prosecutions or the innocence project.  She was simply a muddle-headed schoolgirl who wanted to support her idol regardless of whether he was innocent or guilty.

I remember also Michael Jackson’s claim that children come to his bedroom and that he “couldn’t stop them.” However, as one news organization pointed out at the time: no one gets to Michael Jackson’s bedroom unless he wants them to.

The reason this all came back just now is because it is these same empty-headed lunatics who were demonstrating outside a Los Angeles  courtroom for a very different reason these last few weeks.  This time it was not to support the accused but to crucify him.  That Michael Jackson’s death was the result of the cumulative effect of his lifestyle, they simply didn’t care.  That Michael Jackson was an accident waiting to happen mattered not.  That Michael Jackson was a man who was not used to hearing the word no – at least not since he escaped the clutches of his violent father – was of no significance to them.  That Conrad Murray had been on Jackson’s medical team for less than a month was ignored by jurors and Jackson fans alike.

As far as these moronic fans were concerned, Michael Jackson could do no wrong.  When he was accused of wrongdoing, his accusers were “liars.”  When he was the victim of his own poor life choices, he was the victim of others.

In the trial itself, the prosecution lawyers made mountains out of molehills – such as the fact that the doctor used an unorthodox method of CPR.  This may have a mistake, but it hardly adds up to negligence.  It was merely used to make him seem like a man who didn’t care – when in fact all it shows is that he was a man who lost his head in a crisis.  That shouldn’t happen to a doctor, but it can.  Worse still, the defence lawyers put up a surprisingly lacklustre defence – almost as if they didn’t want to be tainted by trying too hard to help the man whom the Jackson fans “knew” was guilty – in case it had a knock-on effect on their defence of others in the future.  (This actually happened with Barry Scheck in the Louise Woodwood case after he had successfully co-defended O J Simpson.)

With such a one-sided contest, it is hardly surprising that the baying mob of Jackson fans got what they wanted. La Toya Jackson described the verdict as “wonderful.”  Now La Toya Jackson has had a less than happy life, so perhaps she should not be judged too harshly.  After escaping from Jack Gordon, her abusive husband (who had been hired by her father to manage her career) she claimed that it was Gordon who had forced her to support the accusations of child molesting aimed against brother Michael.  This may be true, but in the course of supporting those accusations, she did raise a legitimate question when she asked whether it was appropriate for an adult male to be taking other people’s children into his bed when he was not related to them or their parents.

Now I am not saying that I am in any way happy about Michael Jackson’s death.  His first hit, Got to be there, remains one of my all-time favourites, as is the deeply moving She’s out of my life.  But there seems to be something rather malicious and stomach-turning about the sight of those fanatics who supported Jackson when he had done wrong, baying for the blood of a man who was only on the periphery of responsibility to Jackson’s untimely death.  It is their double-standards, their sickening idol-worship and their general lack of morality that I find so deeply offensive.

 

So with halloween over and Guy Fawkes night almost upon us, we are now entering the Christmas rush, when shops start selling like mad as frantic customers venture out into the cold, dark streets to buy presents for family and friends, big gifts, little gifts, special gifts for that special person and stocking fillers.

A few years ago, a survey showed that the Scots are actually the most generous people in Britain but that Yorkshiremen lived up to their miserly reputation.  Then a couple of years later another survey showed that the people of Yorkshire are the most generous but that the Scots lived up to their reputation.  So is this just a case of you-can-prove-anything-buy-surveys?  Well actually, no.  The surveys contained a lot of useful information once you actually looked at their methodology.

The first survey – in which the Scots came out on top – looked at how much people spent on Christmas presents. The Scots led the country at £401 (this was quite a few years ago) whereas our friends from Yorkshire averaged a mere £80.  But in the second survey, the basis of comparison was how much they gave to charity.  And here the roles were reversed, with the Yorkshire people showing as the most generous and the Scots coming out as misers.

But this all serves to illustrate a very good point made many years ago by James (the amazing) Randi when he dismissed palmists, astrologers, dowsers, tea leaf readers and phrenologists et al over their alleged ability to discern human traits from unscientific and obviously irrelevant “evidence.”  He pointed out that it is meaningless to say that some one is “generous” not only because it is what most people want to hear, but also because people can be generous in some respects and mean in others.  The same can be said of intelligent, friendly, courageous, introvert, extrovert or any other human characteristic.


But to return to generosity and Christmas, I would venture to suggest that it is a time when lonely people yearn not for others to be generous, but for the kind of human company that would enable them to be generous – i.e. some one to buy Christmas presents for and some one to go Christmas shopping with.  Of course one can treat oneself to an iPad, iPod or iPhone or an amazon Kindle or any one of the countless gadgets or celebrity books or cookbooks that flood the shops at this time of year.  or even go on a holiday abroad.  But it’s not the same as having some one to share it with.

At least if your a Scotsman.