Monday, July 19, 2021

Oftentimes Excusing Of A Fault Doth Make The Fault The Worse By The Excuse

Someone once, wisely, noted 'blogging isn't writing, it's graffiti with punctuation.' Welcome, you are, therefore dear blog reader, to another weekly batch of yer actual physical graffiti. And we begin, with this: The Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House remains, sadly, as it has been since mid-June, a Facebook-free-zone - in a saga which is now taking on quasi-Shakespearean tragic proportions. Due, in no small part to the seeming impossibility of contacting anyone at Facebook who actually wishes to engage with one of their - currently, extremely dissatisfied - customers. This blogger has received absolutely no help or support from Facebook's alleged 'Help and Support' department each time he has tried to initiate contact with them. Nor, indeed, has he received anything even resembling help or support from anyone else. Which is useful information to future reference since it is at times like these that one tends to find out who ones real beast fiends actually are. This blogger, it would appear, hasn't got any! Which, as previously noted, is useful knowledge going forward. Thus ...
From that, dear blog reader, to this week's really big news. From The North favourite Gillian Anderson has revealed that she has stopped wearing a bra and has no plans to return to using one. Speaking in an Instagram Live Q&A to her 1.8 million followers on Monday, From The North favourite Gill explained how she had become 'so lazy. I don't wear a bra any more,' she declared from her living room in Atlanta. 'I can't. I'm sorry, I don't care if my breasts reach my belly button. I'm not wearing a bra any more. It's just too fucking uncomfortable.' The revelation that Gill has decided to let them both swing free has 'sparked widespread praise' on Twitter, apparently, with a clip of Gill speaking of her new liberated ways garnering more than one hundred and twenty four thousand views and many supportive comments from women claiming that they too had stopped wearing a bra. One commentor said: 'If two-time Golden Globe and EMMY winning actress Gillian Anderson says no more bras, who are we to disagree?' Well, indeed. This blogger, for instance, stopped wearing his some considerable time ago. The Free The Nipple campaign - for such malarkey does, indeed, exist - has been 'gaining traction' on social media for some years, apparently, but liberation from bras reached new heights during lockdown when many women working from home prioritised comfort when it came to their clothing choices in relation to dangling wally jumblats. Another feature of the Q&A was Gillian's dog, Stella, whom she purchased in December of last year. The actress poked fun at the interest surrounding her then-recent break-up with The Crown creator Peter Morgan by introducing her new puppy as her 'girlfriend' on Twitter. 'Meet my new gf Stella [sic],' Gillian tweeted alongside a photograph of herself cuddling the chocolate brown puppy whilst reclining on a sofa. Braless. Both of them. Gillian spoke about what it was like to work with her then-partner in an interview with Harper's Bazaar. Recalling being on set in full costume, she said: 'I smiled at [Morgan], as me, Gillian, smiling at her boyfriend and he said, "This is Thatcher! This smile is Thatcher!" And I'm like, "no! This smile is me!"'
Okay, dear blog reader, hands up whom amongst you spotted Indiana Jones and Ethan Hunt hanging out in the pit lanes at Silverstone on Sunday? Clearly the current filming of IJ5 and M:I7 are going so fantastically well, their respective stars were allowed a day off to go swanning around the British Grand Prix like a pair of celebrities.
Lewis Hamilton for once wasn't being tripped up by his own lip as he fought back from a ten-second penalty after a crash with title rival Max Verstappen to pass Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and claim a dramatic British Grand Prix victory. Hamilton was blamed for a collision with Verstappen's Red Bull at Copse Corner on the first lap, which led to the Dutchman crashing out of the race. Verstappen was taken to hospital for precautionary tests after the accident whilst Hamilton set about trying to win the race. The Grand Prix was stopped after the incident with Leclerc in the lead from Hamilton and the Ferrari driver held that position until two laps from the end, when the Mercedes driver passed him, ironically, at the same corner at which he had crashed with Verstappen. The controversial win, in front of a crowd of one hundred and forty thousand, was Hamilton's eighth in the British Grand Prix and cuts Verstappen's championship lead to eight points. 'It's overwhelming. It's was such a physically difficult race, great weather,' said Hamilton. Of his crash with Verstappen, he added: 'I just try and stay measured in my approach - particularly with Max, he's very aggressive. And then today, I was fully alongside him and he didn't give me the space. But regardless of whether I agree with the penalty, I take it on the chin and I just kept working. I wasn't going to let anything get in the way.' Verstappen later responded to Hamilton's celebrations on the podium, calling him 'disrespectful' and 'unsportsmanlike' in exactly the sort of whinging manner that one usually associated with Hamilton when he's just lost to Verstappen. He added on Twitter: 'The penalty given does not help us and doesn't do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track.' The moment many had considered to be inevitable at some point in this battle between Verstappen and Hamilton happened after an intense scrap between the title rivals on the first lap. Hamilton, starting second on the grid after Verstappen's victory in F1's maiden 'sprint' race on Saturday, got away better and was alongside the Red Bull driver into the first corner, but Verstappen held him off. Hamilton nosed ahead into the Brooklands corner at the end of the Wellington straight, but was again held off. Heading down into the one hundred and ninety miles per hour Copse Corner, he dummied Verstappen, feinting to the outside and then diving for the inside. And that was where it all kicked-off, big-style. Hamilton had more than half his car alongside Verstappen as they began to turn in, but backed off slightly as he saw the Dutchman was going to sit it out around the outside - and the Red Bull edged back ahead. Hamilton was a little wide of the apex and his front left wheel made contact with Verstappen's right rear around the corner and the impact sent Verstappen flying into the barriers on the outside. He climbed out of the car and was walking around before being taken to the circuit medical centre for mandatory checks after such a heavy impact and complaining of dizziness. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said the impact measured Fifty One G and Verstappen was taken to a local hospital for 'further precautionary tests.' He then went on to whinge like a big whinging whinger on live telly about the manifest unfairness of Hamilton not being banned. For life. Probably. In their written reasons for handing down the sanction to Hamilton, the race stewards said the Mercedes driver had 'room available to the inside' of the corner and 'did not avoid contact' when Verstappen turned in, and concluded that Hamilton was 'predominantly at fault.' Leclerc, who had passed Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas off the line, took the lead out of Copse in the aftermath of the incident and began the re-started race from pole position. The Ferrari showed strong pace in the first stint and Hamilton was not able to challenge Leclerc, who was two seconds ahead when Hamilton made his pit stop to serve his penalty and change tyres on lap twenty seven, dropping behind Bottas and McLaren's Lando Norris. Hamilton passed Norris on lap thirty one into Copse and then closed on Bottas, who was ordered to let Hamilton by on lap forty. The seven-time world champion then had twelve laps to close an eight-second gap to Leclerc and pass the Monegasque for the lead. On the basis of Leclerc's pace earlier, it looked a tall order, but Hamilton was soon going a second a lap quicker than Leclerc and he was on the Ferrari's tail with three to go. He went for the inside at Copse in a very similar move to the one that led to the Verstappen incident. But Hamilton was more cautious, backing off a little more and then Leclerc ran wide on the exit of the corner allowing Hamilton to sweep by and extend his record of British Grand Prix wins to eight. Reacting to the win, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said over the team radio: 'Lewis we never give up! We never give up! This is still on!' Leclerc was second after a superb drive by the Ferrari man, but saying he was 'so disappointed' to come close without victory, despite scoring his first podium finish of the year. Bottas took third ahead of Norris. McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo benefited from a pit-stop problem for Ferrari's Carlos Sainz to take fifth, holding off the faster Spaniard to the flag. Fernando Alonso drove an excellent defensive race to finish seventh, the starting position he earned with a brilliant drive in the sprint race, in which he passed six cars on the first lap in his Alpine. Alonso held off Aston Martin's Lance Stroll for most of the race and the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon took ninth ahead of Alpha Tauri's Yuki Tsunoda.
Mark Cavendish's bid to set a new record of thirty five stage wins in the Tour De France was denied - as Wout van Aert won the final stage of the 2021 Tour. Cavendish struggled to find space and could not come past Van Aert in the final few metres of the bunch sprint on Paris' Champs-Elysees. But the thirty six-year-old had already won four stages this year to equal the Tour record of thirty four set by the great Eddy Merckx. Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar of UAE-Team Emirates won the overall yellow jersey. Cavendish may have missed out on the chance to take sole ownership of the stage wins record, but to have drawn equal with Belgian legend Merckx is an astonishing achievement, given he had struggled for form for several seasons and feared last year his career was over. He was only called up by Deceuninck Quick-Step as a late replacement for injured Irish sprinter Sam Bennett. But, a full five years after his previous Tour stage win, his sprinting dominance earned him his second Tour De France green jersey, awarded to the winner of the points classification. Cavendish was never supposed to be at this Tour. It is only nine months since he proclaimed, through tears, the likely end of his career following a difficult one-day race last year. He has battled the Epstein-Barr virus, several heavy crashes and depression, all since his last victory at the Tour five years ago for Dimension Data. Back then he won four stages early in the race in what was seen as a swansong. After signing a surprise one-year deal with Belgian one-day and sprinting specialists Deceuninck-Quick Step, the team were firm on Cavendish not being part of their Tour plans. But a long-term injury to their young Dutch talent Fabio Jakobsen - who suffered serious head injuries in a horror crash at the 2020 Tour of Poland - and a last-minute knee injury for last year's green jersey winner Bennett left the team and its characterful owner Patrick Lefevere with few options. In many ways, Lefereve and Cavendish are kindred spirits - outspoken and passionate about their craft. But Cavendish is also fiercely loyal, especially to his team. He speaks of Danish rider Michael Morkov as 'the anti-me' because of his unflustered, calm demeanour. And also of the class of team-mates at Quick-Step who have led him out for his sprint victories. Cavendish said last week he has 'no real sentiment either way' about the record - will he back next year to try to extend it? Pogacar has dominated this Tour. Unchallenged in the mountains, he blew away the rest in the first time trial on stage five. The twenty two-year-old did not once look troubled by the pace of the race, or his rivals. This is the polar opposite from last year, when he overhauled countryman Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma on the penultimate stage's time trial to win by more than a minute after Roglic had dominated up to that point. But the demeanour of Pogacar has changed this time around - from a young, respectful rider disbelieving of his own achievements, to one who is happy to make a point of rivals' kidology on the climbs, by aggressively punching the air and pointedly smiling in his rivals' direction, in the same way other legendary riders did in their pomp. Pogacar may have been unmatched, but the fact the French police have been involved twice tells you this Tour has been an eventful one. Day one saw a terrible crash: a stupid woman holding a cardboard sign giving a shoutout to her grandparents caused several horrible injuries and abandonments after she stood in the road with her back to the oncoming peloton to ensure prime TV exposure. Organisers ASO announced they would begin legal proceedings against her and she was subsequently arrested by police, although both later dropped any action, with the organisers hoping that 'lessons will be learned' in future. Some hope. Four-time winner Chris Froome suffered a bad crash on the same stage, struggling to walk as he was helped back to his feet - a worrying sight given his two years of recovery from a near career-ending crash in 2019. He was already resigned to not being competitive at this year's race, despite a multi-million pound deal with Israel Start Up Nation, but it was encouraging to see him at least finish such a punishing three-week Tour. The race was also marred by several of Pogacar's rivals crashing, leading to the abandonment of Jumbo-Visma's Primoz Roglic and Geraint Thomas riding with a shoulder dislocation sustained on stage three. Off the bike, Team Bahrain-Victorious' hotel was raided by The Fuzz late in the race following allegations over doping. For a rider so young, and so good in the mountains, it is not surprising to see Pogacar claim the polka dot king of the mountains jersey and the white young rider's jersey. The only remaining one - the green points jersey - went to Cavendish for his stage wins and intermediate efforts. Although richly deserved, it is worth noting many of his rivals abandoned the race through injury, such as Lotto-Soudal's Caleb Ewan and Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan. Other sprint favourites, such as France's Arnaud Demare of Groupama-FDJ and Nacer Bouhanni of Arkea-Samsic, were eliminated after missing the time limit on mountain stages.
England's spinners squeezed Pakistan till their pips squeaked to claim an emphatic forty five-run victory in the second Twenty20 and level the series at one-one on Sunday. Although Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone - who twice hit sixes out of Headingley - all sparkled with the bat, England failed to post a total that would have put Pakistan out of the game. From one thirty seven for three in the fourteenth over and one sixty four for five in the sixteenth, England lost their last five wickets for thirty six runs to be bowled out for two hundred. However, England's trio of spinners, led by Adil Rashid, superbly exploited a pitch that rapidly deteriorated. Rashid claimed two for thirty, fellow leg-spinner Matt Parkinson one for twenty five and off-spinner Moeen two for thirty two as Pakistan lurched to one hundred and fifty five for nine in their twenty overs. The series decider is at Old Trafford on Tuesday. After the thrilling entertainment of Pakistan's thirty one-run win in the series opener, this was another thoroughly enjoyable contest, played in front of a full house on a baking hot day in Leeds. England stuck with their plan of experimenting with October's World Cup in mind. Captain Eoin Morgan was rested, Jonny Bairstow shifted down the order to number six and Moeen's off-spin employed after he did not bowl at all on Friday. With the World Cup set to be played in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, most encouraging will be the combined performance of leg-spinners Rashid and Parkinson, who lined up in the same England team for the first time. The hosts' total looked no more than par, only for Rashid and Parkinson to stifle Pakistan on a pitch that became increasingly responsive to the slow bowlers. Fresh from his dazzling forty two-ball century on Friday, Lancashire's Livingstone was again striking the ball with awesome power. Buttler, captaining in his first match for a month because of a calf injury, added the early impetus with his fifty nine from thirty nine balls, putting on sixty seven with Moeen, who crashed thirty six from sixteen. But it was Livingstone, himself sharing fifty two with Buttler, who provided the stand-out moments. A first straight six out of the ground, off spinner Imad Wasim, was handsome, but a second, off the pace of Haris Rauf that went over the new stand and onto the rugby ground, was a massive hit. Livingstone was run out for thirty eight from twenty three balls when he failed to respond to Tom Curran's suicidal call, a signal for England to lose momentum against a Pakistan side that held their length with the ball and caught well in the field. Still, England have not lost a T20 when they have posted two hundred batting first, a record that never looked in danger. In hindsight, the way the pitch behaved suggested Pakistan made a mistake in fielding first after winning the toss, but that should take nothing away from the way England bowled. Although captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan reprised their stellar opening partnership from Friday by adding fifty in the powerplay, after Saqib Mahmood had Babar miscue to extra cover the spinners took over. Rashid bowls with a fizzing pace and possesses a dangerous googly. Parkinson is much slower, using his flight and guile. At one stage they bowled five overs in tandem that cost only twenty eight runs and brought two wickets - both to Rashid, one a superb caught and bowled to remove Rizwan. The life had been sucked from the chase. Moeen followed up with two wickets in an over, while Parkinson finally got his reward from the last ball of his spell when Azam Khan was stumped. In all, England sent down eleven overs of spin, the most they have bowled in a T20, before seamer Mahmood nipped in at the death to pick up two further wickets and end with three for thirty three.
The Crown and The Mandalorian lead the charge for this year's EMMY Awards, with twenty four nominations apiece. Netflix's The Crown garnered acting nominations for Olivia Colman, Josh O'Connor and Emma Corrin. It is also up for best drama series, while Disney's The Mandalorian is recognised in the same category. Michaela Coel's critically acclaimed I May Destroy You - a big hit with us here on there From The North 2020 Best Of list - is nominated in the competitive limited series category. The BBC/HBO drama which charts the fallout of a sexual assault will be up against Mare Of Easttown (HBO), The Queen's Gambit (Netflix), Barry Jenkins' Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime) and WandaVision (Disney+). Possible British contenders including Steve McQueen's Small Axe series and Russell Davies's It's A Sin missed out in a tight category which only admits five nominations - whereas comedy and drama have eight each. Coel is also up for best actress in a limited series/movie. The Brits dominate that category, with Kate Winslet and Cynthia Erivo also in the running - their competition is Anya Taylor-Joy and Elizabeth Olsen's superhero turn in Marvel's WandaVision. The Crown and The Handmaid's Tale rule the supporting actress in a drama nominations, with From The North favourite Gillian Anderson, Helena Bonham Carter and Emerald Fennell all recognised for their roles in The Crown. British men are also in a strong position for best actor in a limited series/movie, with hopes resting on Paul Bettany (WandaVision), Ewan McGregor (Halston) and Hugh Grant (The Undoing). They'll be up against Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Junior - a film of the musical that was supposed to be released in cinemas but changed tack due to the pandemic. In the best supporting actor in a drama series, there are three nominations for The Handmaid's Tale for From The North favourite Bradley Whitford, Max Minghella and OT Fagbenle. Tobias Menzies is also in the mix for his role as the Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown. Star Wars spin-off show The Mandalorian was mainly recognised in the technical categories. Best drama nominees alongside The Crown and The Mandalorian are The Boys, Bridgerton, The Handmaid's Tale, Lovecraft Country, Pose and This Is Us. Horror series Lovecraft Country also earned recognition for its stars Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors in the best actress/actor in a drama, despite HBO cancelling the show after just one season. Other lead actress nominees in the former category alongside The Crown's Colman and Corrin and Smollett are Uzo Aduba (The Treatment), From The North favourite Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale) and Pose's MJ Rodriguez, who becomes the first trans woman to be nominated for a major acting EMMY. Bridgerton's popular star Regé-Jean Page - who won't be returning for series two - is up for best lead actor in a drama, as is Sterling K Brown (This Is Us), Billy Porter (Pose) and Matthew Rhys (Perry Mason). Black-ish, Cobra Kai, Emily In Paris, Hacks, The Flight Attendant, Pen15, Ted Lasso and The Kominsky Method are nominated for outstanding comedy series. Jason Sudeikis is up for best comedy actor for his turn as the titular Ted Lasso, a US American football coach employed to be a football manager in the England. Wins for Ted Lasso would mark a breakthrough for Apple TV - Netflix has never won a series award at the EMMYs either. Sudeikis is joined by Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method), William H Macy (Shameless), Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) and Kenan Thompson for Kenan. Ted Lasso and Saturday Night Live dominate both the supporting actor and actress categories for comedy series, with Kenan Thompson, also nominated as leading actor in a comedy series in his self-titled show, recognised here too for SNL. Lead actress in a comedy nominees are Aidy Bryant for Shrill, Kaley Cuoco for The Flight Attendant, From The North favourite Allison Janey for Mom, Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) and Jean Smart for Hacks. Smart also gets a second nomination in the best supporting actress in a drama category for Mare Of Easttown. The ceremony takes place on 19 September. Cedric the Entertainer, who stars in the Eye Network comedy The Neighbourhood, will host an awards show with a limited in-person attendance due to the pandemic. Previous multiple winners have included Succession, Game Of Thrones, Veep and Fleabag. The EMMYs are voted for by more than twenty five thousand members of the USA's Television Academy, which represents those in front and behind the small screen.
A legal battle between former members of The Sex Pistols - a popular beat combo of the 1970s, you might've heard of them - has begun in the High Court in London. Guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook are suing yer actual John Lydon to allow the use of their songs in a new Danny Boyle-directed TV series, Pistol. The show, which is being made by Disney, is based on Jones's memoirs. But Lydon has got all stroppy and discombobulated (how unusual for Our John) and said that he is not prepared to approve the necessary licences for the band's music unless ordered to by a court. Hence, they're all up a'fore the beak. The six-part show, based on Jones's Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol, has reignited longstanding feuds among the surviving members of the band. On Thursday, Mark Cunningham QC, representing Lydon, said in written arguments that his client believes the book 'depicts him in a hostile and unflattering light.' Edmund Cullen, the lawyer representing Jones and Cook, called the relationship between the former bandmates 'bitter and fractious', noting how there had been failed attempts to resolve their differences. Cullen said that under the terms of a band agreement made in 1998, decisions regarding licensing requests could be determined on 'a majority rules basis.' He said Lydon was the only member of the band who was preventing the songs from being used by Oscar-winning director Boyle. Former bassist Glen Matlock and the estate of the late Sid Vicious both support the licensing, he noted. In a Sunday Times interview in April, Lydon said the script has been written and an actor selected to play him without his participation or consent and that he had been put 'in a corner like a rat.'
There is a splendid piece by Vice News's Cameron Joseph on the reporters who survived the January insurrection and are still covering Congress but are also still suffering from something akin to post traumatic stress disorder which this blogger wishes to draw your attention to, dear blog reader. You can find it here and it's well worth a few moments of your time.
It is going to be 'a difficult summer' with Covid cases in the UK possibly reaching two hundred thousand a day, the scientist whose modelling led to the first nationwide restrictions has suggested. Professor Neil Ferguson said there could be as many as two thousand hospital admissions per day, which would cause 'major disruption' to the NHS. England and Scotland are set to ease restrictions more or less as this blogger is writing this bloggerisationisms update. The UK recorded more than fifty thousand cases on both Friday and Saturday. The last time case numbers were that high was in mid-January. Professor Ferguson, who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, told the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show it was 'almost certain' that the UK would reach one hundred thousand cases and one thousand hospital admissions per day as almost all legal restrictions on social contact end in England and school holidays begin. He said maintaining that level could be described as a success. 'The real question is do we get to double that, or even higher?' he said, though adding that it was 'much less certain' to predict. He said a further five hundred thousand people could get long Covid. Professor Ferguson said that the 'best projections' were that the peak of this wave could occur between August and mid-September and it would 'take around three weeks' to know the impact of relaxing restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described England's approach to easing lockdown as 'cautious but irreversible.' Asked whether restrictions could be reintroduced, Professor Ferguson said there may be 'a need to slow the spread to some extent' if hospital admissions were to reach two or three thousand per day. 'It's going to be a difficult summer for many reasons. I think case numbers are likely to be declining at least by late September, even in the the worst-case scenario,' he said. 'Going into the the winter, I think we will have quite quite a high degree of immunity against Covid, the real concerns are a resurgence of influenza, because we haven't had any influenza for eighteen months.' He added that flu 'could be, frankly, almost as damaging both for health and the health system, by December or January, as Covid has been this year.' Earlier, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said there would be 'some quite challenging weeks ahead.' Social distancing rules will end in England on Monday, although government guidelines advise face coverings should still be worn in enclosed spaces such as in shops and on public transport. 'We will all need to exercise good judgement,' Jenrick told Sky News. And then announced that he would be taking part in the next series of Mastermind with his specialist subject being Stating The Bleedin' Obvious. Scotland will move to level zero of Covid restrictions this week, meaning pubs and restaurants can open until midnight. However, limits on outdoor meetings will remain, the return of workers to offices will be delayed and face coverings will still be mandatory. Most Covid rules in Wales are set to be scrapped from 7 August, but face coverings will still be required in most public places and on public transport. In Northern Ireland, restrictions will be eased further on 26 July, if approved at a review on 22 July.
Ministers decided to ditch mandatory face masks after being warned the UK economy would lose billions of pounds if people were made to wear them after 19 July according to i - if not a real newspaper. Modelling from reviews of social distancing and mass gatherings revealed public dislike for wearing face coverings at sporting, music and arts events. Keeping compulsory face masks could cost the events and hospitality industries more than four billion knicker in lost revenues, the analysis suggested. An alleged - but anonymous and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious - Whitehall 'source' allegedly told the i that the research was 'compelling' and 'the driving force' behind the decision to scrap mandatory face masks when all restrictions are lifted in England. This was despite warnings by scientists from The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies that the Government should keep 'baseline measures# in place. It suggests that ministers are now 'following the economy' rather than 'the science' as the country grapples with an exit wave from the pandemic, the newspaper claims. Probably correctly. The public dislike for face masks in recreational settings such as football matches and live concerts is in contrast to broad support for coverings on public transport, which is regarded as a necessary inconvenience, the alleged source allegedly said.
And finally for this latest, brief, From The North bloggerisationisms update, dear blog reader something properly amusing. That Awful Hopkins Woman has been sent home from Australia for bragging about flouting the country's quarantine rules. Although in one regard this is a shame as she is, obviously, being sent back here. Couldn't you have just kept her, Australia, we really don't want her? She's horrible and nobody likes her. That Awful Hopkins Woman - who has often drawn anger for hideous bigoted and idiotic remarks on a whole range of subjects - had entered the country to appear in the reality TV show Big Brother Australia. On Friday, she posted a video from her Sydney hotel room where she sneered about putting frontline staff at risk. Her comments, of course, sparked widespread anger. In the video, That Awful Hopkins Woman said that she planned to 'lie in wait' for workers to deliver food to her room so she could open the door 'naked with no face mask.' She also called lockdowns the 'greatest hoax in human history.' Australia's two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are both currently in lockdown after local cases of Covid-19 were detected. The post has since disappeared from her Instagram account. On Monday, the Australian government confirmed that it had cancelled That Awful Hopkins Woman's visa, after the TV programme sacked her sorry ass. Police said she had been fined one thousand Australian dollars for not wearing a face mask and was 'escorted' to the airport (for which read 'shoved in the back of a meat wagon and driven there at high speed') to be sent back to the UK. Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews called That Awful Hopkins Woman's comments 'appalling' and a 'slap in the face' for Australians in lockdown. 'Personally, I'm very pleased she'll be leaving,' she told broadcaster ABC. That Awful Hopkins Woman has not commented on her deportation, but on Sunday claimed - unconvicingly - that she had been 'joking' in the video. That Awful Hopkins Woman was extremely banned from Twitter last year for breaching its policy on 'hateful conduct.' Andrews said that the decision to allow That Awful Hopkins Woman to enter the country had been made by the New South Wales state government 'on the basis of potential benefit to the economy.' Or, in other words' nowt to do we me, mate.' But opponents accused the national government of 'allowing a far-right troll into Australia.' That Awful Hopkins Woman was also detained in South Africa in 2018 for 'spreading racial hate.' 'The decision is particularly painful for the thirty five thousand Australians who remain stranded overseas,' said Labour MP Andrew Giles. Australia closed its borders in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, preventing many citizens outside the country from returning. The policy has prolonged family separations. But dozens of celebrities, sports stars and others with exemptions have been able to bypass the rule.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

"You're Only Supposed To Blow The Bloody Doors Off!"

Sunday saw the final of the socher-ball Euro 2020(ish) competition played at yer actual Wembley Stadium. If you missed it, we lost. Next ...
During the 1980s, in the middle of an Ashes series in which the Australian team were doing especially badly for once, the popular Australian comedian and actor Paul Hogan was appearing on a British chat show. He noted, with some amusement that the English press (particularly the tabloid end) seemed to actually enjoy English sporting defeat far more than English sporting victory, noting that if England were winning at football, cricket or rugby 'there'll be two pages of coverage, if they're losing, there'll be eight pages!' He contrasted this with the ways of the Australian popular press whom, he noted, seemed to have a much more positive spin on things. 'They basically ignore it,' he noted. 'So, they'll say, "in the test match, Australia lost. Meanwhile, in the tennis ..."' Therefore, moving swiftly on from Sunday's bitter penalty-related disappointment (how hard can it be to score from twelve yards?!), England's cricket team pulled off another impressive victory over Pakistan by fifty two runs in the second one-day international at Lord's on Saturday to clinch the three-match series with a game to spare. 
     After rain reduced the contest to forty seven overs per side, England recovered from one hundred and sixty for seven to two hundred and forty seven all out in just over forty five overs. The hosts were unchanged from an eleven that included five debutants in the first ODI two days previously after a Covid-19 outbreak had forced the quarantine of England's entire first-choice white ball squad. England then grabbed the initiative of an entertaining game by reducing Pakistan to eighty six for five with a fine new-ball spell. Fast bowler Saqib Mahmood stood out again, dismissing captain Babar Azam LBW for nineteen and Mohammad Rizwan caught behind for five, while Lewis Gregory removed opener Imam-ul-Haq with his first ball - the seventh delivery of the innings. Saud Shakeel kept the tourists in the game with fifty six from seventy seven balls, while Hassan Ali took twenty two runs from one Matt Parkinson over - including three massive sixes - to energise the vocal Pakistan supporters. But Shakeel holed out to deep square-leg off Parkinson and Gregory claimed the final wicket in the following over, Pakistan dismissed for one hundred and ninety five with thirty six balls remaining and there wasn't quite so much noise or chest beating from the green and whites. Indeed, the crowd went home. All-rounder Gregory, who took three for forty four, earlier scored forty in a crucial eighth-wicket stand of sixty nine with Brydon Carse. England had lost five wickets for forty two runs, seamer Hassan ripping through the middle order en route to figures of five for fifty one, after opener Phil Salt hit an aggressive sixty from fifty four balls and James Vince scored fifty six from fifty two. It resulted in another impressive win for this inexperienced England side, who lead the series two-nil going into the final match in Edgbaston on Tuesday. Forced to play the series without Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Johnny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood et al due to a covid outbreak amongst the squad following the recent series against Sri Lanka, it will have done England much good to realise their impressive strength-in-depth in the shorter formats of the game. This was also the first cricket match in England to be allowed a capacity crowd since the start of the pandemic, althseries without ough the attendance was twenty two thousand seven hundred and four - around three-quarters full. This England success was almost as impressive as the nine-wicket win in Cardiff, given it was a more all-round performance and at times they were put under significant pressure. Asked to bat in damp conditions, Dawid Malan nicked to slip and Zak Crawley was brilliantly bowled by a Shaheen Afridi yorker, both for ducks, but Salt and Vince counter-attacked with a stand of ninety seven from eighty balls. Salt and Vince were bowled by the spin of Shakeel and Shadab Khan respectively and when captain Ben Stokes had his off stump removed by Hassan for twenty two, before John Simpson and Craig Overton quickly followed, England appeared to be in serious trouble. But they responded well. Carse and Gregory had relatively quiet debuts in Cardiff but the pair showed maturity in rotating the strike while still scoring at a decent rate and punishing any bad balls. Without their stand - the highest for the eighth wicket in an ODI at Lord's - England would likely have been well short of a winnable total. Their influence continued in the second innings when Gregory took the first wicket - Imam caught by wicketkeeper Simpson - and the last - Haris Rauf taken down the leg side. Carse ended Hassan's onslaught of thirty one from seventeen balls by having him caught at fine leg for his first international wicket and Simpson, another in his second ODI, caught the eye with a brilliant take off Parkinson. He anticipated a sweep from Faheem Ashraf and caught the left-hander off the face of the bat down the leg side. The fact the result was not completely certain even with Pakistan nine men down showed England's total was not insurmountable. Instead the loss of early wickets cost Pakistan again, as it did in Cardiff. Babar, the number one ranked ODI batter in the world, showed a flash of his brilliance in hitting three boundaries in one over including a perfect on-drive, but he was removed by a good ball from Mahmood, which nipped in and would have hit the top of middle. In contrast, opener Fakhar Zaman made a tortured ten from forty five balls before being bowled by Overton to the relief of pretty much everyone. Pakistan's bowling was improved, with Hassan the standout performer, though Rauf and Ashraf allowed Salt and Vince too many loose balls. Ben Stokes noted after the game: 'The really pleasing thing about that is the inexperienced players coming in and still continuing that mindset that we've produced over the last four or five years. The performance was fantastic.'
Mark Cavendish made history in the Tour De France as he equalled Belgian great Eddy Merckx's record of thirty four stage wins on Friday. The Deceuninck-Quick Step rider won the sprint into Carcassonne by a few inches ahead of team-mate Michael Morkov. 'It's what I dreamed of as a kid. I've worked so hard for it,' said Cavendish. Tadej Pogacar of UAE-Team Emirates remains in the leader's yellow jersey on a day that will be remembered for Cavendish's exploits, thirteen years on from his first win at the Tour. An emotional and physically drained Cavendish embraced each of his team-mates at the finish and cried out 'we've made history' as he hugged Davide Ballerini. Cavendish added: 'I'm so dead - two hundred and twenty kilometres in that heat, in that wind. I went so deep there - the boys were incredible. I can't believe it. For a lot of the day it didn't feel like it was going to happen. I was so on the limit. You saw that at the end [which was] slightly uphill. It is just like my first [win on the Tour]. It was what I dreamed of as a kid and it is what I dream of now. I have worked so hard for it.' If Cavendish can survive the mountain stages in the Pyrenees to come, he could yet eclipse the mark that Merckx, a five-time overall winner of the Tour, set in 1975. The Manx rider should have two more opportunities to take the record outright, first on stage nineteen into Libourne and then on the final day of the race on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, where he has previously won a record four times. The two hunred and nineteen kilometre stage from Nimes was tagged as a day for a breakaway but Deceuninck-Quick-Step largely maintained control of the peloton with Ballerini and Morkov, arguably the world's best lead-out rider, coming to the fore late on. '[Cavendish] knew I was picking the right moment,' said Danish rider Morkov. 'He had a beautiful victory. It is only the second race I have done with him. The experience he has is extraordinary. We went into this Tour thinking, "if we could bring him to one stage victory it would be more than amazing'. Now he has taken four. He told me a couple of years ago that he needed just one Tour De France to tie to the record. Maybe he will beat it.' Simon Yates of Team Bike Exchange was forced to abandon the race following a crash in which several riders fell down a ravine.
Almost twenty four viewers watched England's historic Euro 2020(ish) victory against Denmark on Wednesday on ITV. According to overnight figures, the semi-final at Wembley brought an average audience of 23.86 million. The last five minutes of the match drew a peak audience of 25.71 million - almost five million more than the peak audience recorded during the previous Saturday's match against Ukraine. The game was the most watched non-news event since Croatia knocked England out of the 2018 World Cup at the semi-final stage. That match was watched by 24.3 million in July 2018. England's four-nil win over Ukraine attracted a peak TV audience of 20.9 million, making it the most-watched live TV event of the year up to that point. The most watched event of recent years remains the Prime Minister's May 2020 coronavirus announcement, which was seen by 27.49 million viewers across six different channels.
Meanwhile, a TV audience of a fraction under thirty one million punters watched the tense closing minutes of the Euro 2020(ish) final, overnight figures show. Ratings peaked during Sunday's calamitou penalty shootout between England and Italy at Wembley, which was broadcast on both the BBC and ITV. An average of 29.85 million watched the whole match live. Te combined figure makes it the highest TV audience since the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. Whilst England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved two of the Azzurri's spot kicks in what was, very much, a game of two halves, Marcus Rashford hit the post with his spot-kick before Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka had theirs saved to hand Italy a, in the end, well deserved victory. 'You can cut ratings in so many different ways and audience measurement has changed over the years, but safe to say this: it is among the biggest audiences in UK broadcasting history,' said Deadline's international editor Jake Kanter. In footballing terms, the highest ratings before Sunday's figures were released came from the West Germany versus England semi-final at the World Cup in 1990, watched by twenty five million viewers across both of the main hannels. That also featured a painful penalty shootout exit for England. The official audience for Sunday's match may rise still further when those who saw it via catch-up services are taken into account. The overwhelming majority of people watched the coverage on BBC as compared to ITV - by a factor of more than four to one.

Historical discoveries could be at risk if government does not put archaeology at the heart of its new planning reforms, experts have warned. Archaeologists, academics and professional bodies have launched a campaign to ensure their work with developers remains a legal requirement. It has the backing of TV academics From The North favourite Professor Alice Roberts and Dan Snow, along with a number of MPs and peers. The government said it was 'determined to protect archaeological treasures.' One or two people even believed them. Boris Johnson first announced his proposals for reform of the planning system in England last year, with the aim of stopping local opponents blocking development in designated 'growth' zones. The Planning Bill was then confirmed in the Queen's Speech in May - with the promise of a vote in Parliament in the coming year. But there has already been disquiet on the Conservative benches over concerns it could side-line locals and lead to a 'free-for-all' for development. Archaeologists are concerned that the current rigorous assessments required by developers - laid out in law in 1990 by the then-Conservative government - are missing and they want guarantees the bill will include them, else heritage in the country could be lost. Doctor Chloe Duckworth, who presents The Great British Dig on More4, co-founded the campaign and told the BBC that without specific mention of archaeology in the Planning Bill, 'we could see some of the less conscientious developers trying to save time by avoiding this route - and that could see an absolute destruction and loss of archaeological heritage.' She added: 'If we don't have those protections in place then we actually don't know what we are going to lose. And, that is the key point really. Until you excavate and survey and look at an area in that level of detail, we can't say what archaeology might be there.' Her campaign has the backing of academic Professor Roberts, who presents the BBC's Digging For Britain. 'I have just written a book about some important burials throughout Britain and actually quite a lot of the examples are things you just wouldn't have known about, had it not been for archaeologists involved in planning developments. One recent one was the discovery of the amazing Pocklington chariot burial - an Iron Age burial in Yorkshire - that was on the site of a housing development, an amazing discovery. What having archaeology built into planning means is heritage is treated in a very careful way that we recover as much as we can before any development happens.' Historian and TV presenter Dan Snow has also joined the appeal to the government to make sure archaeological work is secured in the planning reforms. 'Planning is always going to be a compromise between the demands of the economy, homeowners, industry, towns expanding and those of us who wish to preserve the past,' he said. 'If we wipe out things of extraordinary value in order to create what we think in the short term will be more valuable, it almost certainly won't be.' He added: 'If you look at the destruction of medieval sites in the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, it would now bring in billions of pounds of tourism for example. It is a terrible mistake to destroy and disrespect your archaeology and your heritage.' The Conservative MP - and former archaeology student - Tim Loughton already has concerns about his government's planning reforms, but says he has raised this particular campaign with ministers. 'Archaeology is really important in so many aspects of our lives, it is not just slightly strange middle aged men like me wandering around with a trowel in muddy pits,' he said. 'Archaeology is all about showing people their cultural background, it is about education of our children and where they came from. It is a big employer that contributes several billion pounds to the UK economy and it is also a major contributor to cultural tourism as well.' He said the new legislation 'needs to take much greater regard to the cultural and heritage importance of some of those areas which are now vulnerable to development.' Loughton added: 'I shall be at the forefront of the queue to make sure there are amendments that improve the legislation to take account of our culture and heritage assets before they get concreted over.' Rob Lennox of the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists works with the government on legislation and supports the campaign. He said there are 'good noises' coming from Whitehall about the inclusion of archaeology, but the industry has just not had any guarantees. 'The danger is, as we get close to needing to produce a bill and have the wider discussions around the broad shape of the reforms, that archaeology gets lost between the cracks,' he said. 'We just need the message to get across to the highest levels of government that archaeology isn't just a tack onto this system, it isn't something that slows the system down.' Lennox added: 'This is fundamentally about preserving our heritage and making sure the planning system doesn't inadvertently destroy that as it tries to create the housing and infrastructure that we need.' A spokesman from the Department of Communities, Housing and Local Government - which leads of the planning reforms, said: 'We know that our archaeological treasures are irreplaceable and we are determined to protect them. Our planning reforms will build on the strong protections already in place - we will continue to work with key archaeological bodies as we develop detailed proposals for the Planning Bill.'
The United Kingdom's longest ancient monument has been damaged by 'centuries of gradual benign neglect,' says an association fighting to preserve it. A fund has started to help preserve the Eighth Century Offa's Dyke earthwork. Offa's Dyke has 'a lot of catching up to do' compared with other monuments of historic importance like Hadrian's Wall and Stonehenge, according to its association chairman. Dave McGlade said the one hundred and seventy seven mile monument on the Wales-England border is a 'sensitive archaeological landscape. It is also a scheduled monument, protected by statute law and deserves to be treated with the utmost respect,' added the Offa's Dyke Association chairman. The association has said because the scheduled monument exists largely within private land, it has fallen to landowners and local communities to keep it maintained. It said in consultation with Welsh historic environment body Cadw, the National Trail unit and Historic England, the Offa's Dyke Rescue Fund would seek to purchase parts of the monument considered to be under threat. A 2017 survey showed just 8.7 per cent of Offa's Dyke was in a 'favourable condition' and artist Dan Llewelyn Hall has been commissioned for an exhibition celebrating fifty years of the Offa's Dyke Path. He said while it is a 'modest little bump in the landscape,' it is 'hugely important to our identity of Wales,' such as in preserving the language and culture. 'It embodies a border culture between England and Wales and goes beyond that but it encases communities across the border that want to preserve it,' said Hall, from Llanfyllin in Powys. 'For a lot of people the path can seem irrelevant or inconvenient to maintain as it runs through a lot of private land and farm yard but once you lose that significance you never retrieve it.' Offa's Dyke is named after Offa - the king of the Mercians, a warrior tribe from central England, from AD 747 to 796. He ordered it to be constructed in the Eighth Century, probably to divide his kingdom from rival kingdoms in what is now Wales, according to National Trails. The work required thousands of men shovelling mud from one place to another. Which must've been quite a sight. The earth bank in places still stands to a height of twelve feet and sixty feet wide. The one hundred and seventy seven-mile National Trail opened in the summer of 1971 and links Sedbury Cliffs near Chepstow with the coastal town of Prestatyn on the shores of the Irish sea. According to Visit Wales, fell-runners take an average of five days to complete it while hikers take twelve days. It passes through eight different counties and crosses the border between England and Wales more than twenty times. It links three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - the Wye Valley, the Shropshire Hills and the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley. The exhibition Walking With Offa will bring together art, poems and music celebrating fifty years of the path and will run through from Saturday until October, at Offa's Dyke Association and Centre in Knighton. Hall said it was a way to persevere and shed light on the 'monument of fragile existence that hasn't really been explored or given so much limelight,' with the fund emerging after he and the association 'realised it needed attention. We are hoping we can press upon people the importance of the monument and hope people will engage with it and absorb the sites and love it,' he said. The Offa's Dyke Path's national trail officer Rob Dingle said the monument is important for the local economy as it attracts walkers from all over the world. 'They call it the breathtaking borderlands,' he said. 'The trail itself brings walkers from all around the world to enjoy our landscapes and when they are here they are staying in Airbnb's, drinking in our pubs and spending in our shops so that money coming into the rural economy is huge.' He said because of the Covid pandemic, getting people to walk the trail and enjoy the area was 'hugely important.'
Media regulator Ofcom - a politically-appointed quango, elected by no one - received a huge number in complaints over the last year, the highest since it started in 2002. The UK broadcasting watchdog received one hundred and forty two thousand six hundred and sixty whinges between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, a four hundred and ten per cent rise in whinges on the previous twelve months' total. Odious oily and hateful twat Piers Morgan's comments on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Oprah Winfrey TV interview on Good Morning Britain in March drew a record fifty four thousand plus complaints. And, very satisfyingly, the old tin-tack for Odious oily twat Morgan his very self. So, you know, out of all this did, at least, come some good. Morgan accounts for three more of the ten most-complained about TV broadcasts. The other instances relate to two Good Morning Britain interviews with social care minister Helen Whately and a third with Home Office minister Victoria Atkin. Morgan chose to leave Good Morning Britain in March rather than retract his criticisms of the Duchess of Sussex and get his arse kicked into the gutter along with all the other turds by ITV. Diversity's Black Lives Matter-inspired dance routine on Britain's Got Toilets in September prompted just over twenty five thousand complaints. From racist scumbags. Ofcom did not launch a formal investigation into the routine, which went on to win the Must-See Moment award at this year's TV BAFTAs. Much, one imagines, to the chagrin of racist scumbags everywhere. So, again, some good comes from the existence of Ofcom. Another two thousand five hundred and sixty five whinges were received after Alesha Dixon wore a BLM necklace while judging the ITV talent show. Again, from racist scumbags. The use of live animals during trials on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) prompted eleven thousand five hundred and sixteen whinges to the media regulator. From people who haven't got anything more important or worthwhile to do with their time, seemingly. All ten of the most complained about TV broadcasts originated on ITV, though only three of them generated more than three thousand complaints. Good Morning Britain accounts for half of the ten, with Britain's Got Toilets accounting for four. Ofcom said: 'In many of the cases above, we did not find the issues warranted an investigation.' So, in other words, the whinging whinges whinged over nowt worth whinging about, essentially. Sounds about right. Ofcom added that on 'some occasions,' where they did decide a programme 'did not raise substantive issues under the code but there was significant public attention,' they published the reasons behind their decision not to investigate. According to Ofcom, the vast majority of the whinges it received during 2020-21 were about 'content that audiences found offensive.' It said there was an 'increase in the number of complaints specifically about potentially racially offensive broadcast content.' Previous research by Ofcom found 'societal norms have shifted in recent years and discriminatory behaviours and language are now more commonly perceived as unacceptable than was previously the case. We're a nation of TV lovers and it's kept us entertained and informed like never before during lockdown,' its spokesperson said. 'From time-to-time viewers see things that trouble them and that's where we come in.' Ofcom said it was 'unusual' to receive such a large volume of complaints about individual broadcasts. Albeit, this is odious oily (and, now unemployed) twat Morgan we're talking about here so, frankly, nothing should be all that surprising. The regulator said it had also received a high number of whinges relating to 'content about the pandemic.' Which proves that what this blogger has always suspected is, indeed, true; that some people will whinge about any old shit given the opportunity to do so. Almost half of the broadcasts Ofcom formally investigated - forty eight per cent - were found to be in breach of its broadcasting code.
Edinburgh-based rocket company Skyrora is issuing a challenge to find a way to retrieve the Prospero satellite. The object was the first and only UK spacecraft to be launched on a British rocket, from Australia in 1971. It is defunct now, obviously, but is still circling the globe on an elliptical orbit some one thousand kilometres up. Skyrora, who will soon start sending up rockets from Scotland, regards the satellite as an important piece of UK space heritage. The company has already recovered part of the Black Arrow vehicle which placed Prospero in orbit. That fell back to Australia in the course of the mission where it languished for decades in the Outback until the firm had it shipped home and put on display. Now, Skyrora is looking for ideas as to how best to approach and grab hold of the sixty six kilogram satellite, whose original mission was to investigate the space environment. It might not be possible to bring it all the way home through the atmosphere intact. For starters, it would need protection from the heat of re-entry, but, at the very least, just de-orbiting what is now a piece of space-junk would be a statement of Britain's commitment to the sustainable use of space. Orbits above the Earth are becoming cluttered with old hardware, which risks colliding with - and destroying - those operationally useful spacecraft which provide us with important services such as Earth observation, meteorology and telecommunications. 'This is a challenge to ourselves, to the space industry in the UK,' said Alan Thompson, Skyrora's head of government affairs. 'Ultimately, we'd love to recover Prospero and bring it all the way down, but we recognise that would be very difficult. The point here, though, is to accentuate industry principles of responsibility and sustainability,' he told the BBC News website. The company held a reception on Wednesday evening to discuss ideas. This took place at the inaugural UK Space-Comm Expo, which is being staged this week at the Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre in Hampshire. Prospero and its launch rocket, Black Arrow, represented something of a false dawn for Britain's space efforts. Even as the lipstick-shaped rocket - which looked like something designed by Gerry Anderson for Thunderbirds - climbed skyward, the government had already decided to cancel the technology development programme. The UK remains the only country to have developed a successful launch capability and then, immediately, abandon it. Half-a-century on, an indigenous capacity is being revived in the form of Skyrora, Orbex and a handful of other start-ups who wish to launch from the UK proper - not, this time, from Australia. Regulations are in the process of being signed off by government with the intention that operating licences will be open for application later this year. Skyrora is determined to pursue its activities in as green a way as possible. Although burning a carbon-based fuel, kerosene, in its rockets, this will be made from recycled plastic. It also wants the top section, or third stage, of its orbital vehicle to not only place satellites in orbit, but be capable of removing redundant spacecraft as well. It has been busy testing a 'space tug' that would do just this kind of work. 'The challenge of removing space debris and either knocking it into the atmosphere so that it burns up, or bringing it back to Earth, is one of the most important and topical challenges in space,' commented Lord Willetts, the former UK space minister. 'It would be great if British enterprise and British entrepreneurship played a role in tackling this challenge.' In order to retrieve Prospero, one would first have to locate it. Although the satellite is no longer communicating with Earth (the las contact was in 2004), its orbit is known, says Ralph Dinsley from space surveillance experts Northern Space & Security Ltd. 'It's in an elliptical orbit around the Earth, coming as close as about five hundred and twenty two kilometres and going out as far as about thirteen hundred kilometres,' he said. 'Not only is Prospero up there, but part of the rocket body that put it there is up there as well. Finding Prospero is all about applying inspiration to what we need to do for the future. There's a lot of discussion about active debris removal, a lot of discussion about the threat of the space junk apocalypse. Wouldn't be great if the UK actually took responsibility for some of that junk?'
Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has successfully reached the edge of space on board his Galactic rocket plane. Pretty cool if you can ignore the fact that The Beardy Billionaire Hippy was ascending the heavens in a craft with the word 'Virgin' plastered all over it. The UK entrepreneur flew high above New Mexico in the US in the vehicle that his company has been developing for seventeen years. The trip was, he said, the 'experience of a lifetime.' Tragically, he returned safely to Earth just over an hour after leaving the ground. 'I have dreamt [sic] of this moment since I was a kid, but honestly nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space," he said in a press conference following the flight. "The whole thing was just magical.' The trip also makes him the first of the new space tourism pioneers to try out their own vehicles, beating Amazon's Jeff Bezos and SpaceX's Elon Musk. So, if you ever about a single by The Sex Pistols, XTC, The Skids or Public Image Limited, this one's down to you. The businessman was accompanied on the mission by the vehicle's two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and three Galactic employees - Beth Moses, Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla. The latter trio and Sir Richard were presented with commercial astronaut wings after the flight by former space station commander and Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield. Branson billed the flight as 'a test of the space tourism experience' he expects to begin selling to customers from next year. These are all people who want to reach a height where they can see the sky turn black and marvel at the Earth's horizon as it curves away into the distance. Such a flight should afford them about five minutes of weightlessness during which they will be allowed to float around inside Unity's cabin. It has been a long road for Sir Richard to get to this point. He first announced his intention to make 'a space plane' in 2004, with the belief he could start a commercial service by 2007. But technical difficulties, including a fatal crash during a development flight in 2014, have made the space project one of the most challenging ventures of his career. Space tourism is a sector being rekindled after a decade's hiatus and it's about to get very competitive. Throughout the 2000s, seven wealthy individuals paid to visit the International Space Station. But this adventurism, organised under the patronage of the Russian space agency, ceased in 2009. Now, new initiatives abound. As well as Branson's approach, there are projects coming from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the California tech entrepreneur Elon Musk. The Russians, too, are reprising their commercial flights to the ISS and there are even those who want to launch private space stations for people to visit. Among these is Axiom, a company started by a former NASA ISS programme manager. Musk travelled to New Mexico to support his friend Branson and following the flight Bezos sent his congratulations. There Is clearly something of an edge in the Branson-Bezos relationship, however. On Friday, the retail billionaire's Blue Origin space company had issued a tweet that took a dig at Virgin Galactic's Unity vehicle. The posting repeated a claim that anyone who flew on the rocket plane would forever have an asterisk by their name because they wouldn't reach the 'internationally recognised' altitude for where space begins - the so-called Kármán line of one hundred kilometres. Which is a little bit like saying that anyone who climbs Everest should've taken a step ladder up with them so they could get just that little bit higher. The US government has always recognised the boundary of space to be at about eighty kilometres and it awards astronaut wings to anyone who exceeds that altitude. Before Sunday, only five hundred and eighty people had ever been above this height. At least, without the use of mind-altering drugs. Unity is a sub-orbital vehicle. This means it can't achieve the velocity and altitude necessary to keep it in space to circle the globe. The vehicle is designed to give its passengers stunning views at the top of its climb and allow them a few minutes to experience weightlessness. Unity is first carried by a much bigger aeroplane to an altitude of about fifteen kilometres where it is released. A rocket motor in the back of Unity then ignites to blast the ship skyward. The maximum height achievable by Unity is roughly ninety kilometres. Passengers are allowed to unbuckle to float to a window. Unity folds its tailbooms on descent to stabilise its fall before then gliding home.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

If We Shadows Have Offended ...

Sad to report, dear blog readers, this blogger remains Facebook-deprived after the events described in such detail in the last From The North bloggerisationisms update. Despite four e-mails to two different e-mail addresses (both of which are alleged to be current contact sources for the Facebook Help Centre) and several other attempts to contact someone (anyone) who would be able and willing to assist this blogger with his hacking-related problems, no contact has been established at the time of writing. It's ironic, really, in the very week that Facebook has taken great pleasure in announcing to the world that the stock market value of their company has topped one trillion bucks, their employees appear to enjoy actively avoiding engaging with their customers, particularly if that customer happens to have a problem which requires their urgent attention.
So, on the trillion-to-one chance that trillionaire despot Mark Zuckerberg happens to be one of From The North's very occasional dear blog readers, here is a short - and sincere - plea. Hi Mark, how you doing? Good, Keith Telly Topping hopes. This blogger wonders if you could do him a geet excellent favour. Could you, if you're not too busy counting the trillions you've made of your social network, ask (politely) one of your, I'm guessing considerably less well-off, minions to drop this blogger a quick e-mail on the From The North e-mail address alluded to in the previous bloggerisationisms update. This blogger has always been a satisfied customer of and vocal supporter of Facebook and has never described its creator as a money-grabbing, tax-avoiding scumbag. Not even once. And, Facebook was always jolly keen, it seemed, to inform this blogger of how he was a 'valued' customer of the company. So, Mark, now would be an excellent time for you guys to, you know, prove it. Over to you, Mark. That's if you're reading this. Which you almost certainly are not. So, that was all a colossal waste of time and energy, wasn't it?
This lack of contact with this blogger's many dear Facbook fiends has been, of course really annoying, as one is sure you can all appreciate. This week of all weeks. After all it's not often that you get a day like Tuesday where not only do this blogger's beloved England cricket team give Sri Lanka a right good hiding in an One Day International at Chester-Le-Street, a mere ten miles away from the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House but, also, this blogger's beloved England football team won a game a socher-ball. Against Germany. For the first time in any international match since 2016. For the first time in a competitive match since 2001. For the first time in the finals of one of the two major international socher-ball competitions since 2000. And, for the first time in a knock out tie in the finals of one of the two major international socher-ball competitions since 1966 and all that. So, you know, that was a moment which this blogger would rather have enjoyed talking about with his dear (former) Facebook fiends. Current hacking-related right-shite states of affair notwithstanding.
Sadly, dear blog reader, it was not to be. Why, this very blogger couldn't even share with his dear Facebook fiends how much he really deserved this here curry salt and chilli pepper king prawn with steamed rice malarkey which was a necessary emergency purchase from the local takeaway on Wednesday evening. He'd liked to have shared that, dear blog reader, really he would. Cos it was geet lush.
England's previously mentioned two-nil victory over Ze Chermans at Euro 2020(ish) on Tuesday attracted a peak live TV audience of 20.6 million to BBC1, with an eighty per cent share of the available. What the other twenty per cent were watching, we can only speculate. Although, there was a rather good episode of The Brokenwood Mysteries on the Drama Channel at the same time. Apparently. Goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane were the highlights of a tense and memorable last-sixteen tie at Wembley. The match also pulled in six-and-a-half live streams across BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website combined - making it the most watched Euro 2020(ish) match so far. The iPlayer set a new live viewing record with 5.6 million streams. England's quarter-final against Ukraine in Rome will be live on BBC1 and BBC iPlayer on Saturday. And now watch, having done the hard part of getting this far, what's the betting Gareth's young lions go and lose that one?
In the last From The North bloggerisationisms update, this blogger mentioned that he'd just about reached the end of series five of his current complete rewtach of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - the Star Trek series that got good the quickest and stayed good the longest. Sadly, his Facebook experiences should've told this blogger that plans can fall through as so often they do. As Morrissey once said before - importantly - he turned into an odious, bigoted right-wing apologist. The recently purchased second-hand series six DVD box-set which this blogger was totally looking forward to watching a few episodes of during the lead-up to Tuesday's Wembley clash only went and turned out to be a dud, didn't it? Just three episodes into The Dominion War arc the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House DVD player started to suffer all manner of discombobulations as the first three discs of the set all featured at least one episode which wouldn't play at all, or stuttered through a couple of minutes before grinding to a less-than-dignified halt. They say misfortunes come in three so this blogger can't wait to find out what the third part of his current misery-trilogy is. Fortunately, Amazon via whom this blogger had purchased this crock of shat, unlike Facebook do answer e-mails sent to them complaining about their goods and service. A refund and/or replacement was offered (the latter is currently on its way to the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House as we speak) and, in the meantime, this blogger was able to dig out his videotapes - yes, he still has loads of them - of many of the affected episodes and watch them that way (having first managed to hook up the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House bedroom tellybox to one of the two surviving Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House VCRs. And, they actually played. Which was nice. Especially given that the run of episodes we're talking about included a handful of this blogger's favourite DS9 stories - Sons & Daughters, Behind The Lines, Sacrifice Of Angels, The Magnificent Ferengi (yes, 'the one with Iggy Pop'), Waltz and Far Beyond The Stars not least amongst them.
From the North favourite Elvis Costello has defended pop singer Olivia Rodrigo after she was accused of lifting one of his guitar riffs. 'Brutal', a song on Rodrigo's CD, is based around a chord sequence which also featured in Costello's 1978 hit 'Pump It Up'. But when some trouble-making shat-for-brains on Twitter said Rodrigo's song was 'pretty much a direct lift' from 'Pump It Up', Costello replied: 'This is fine by me. It's how rock & roll works,' Declan said. 'You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand new toy.' He added: 'That's what I did.' The veteran singer-songwriter also included hashtags referencing Bob Dylan's 1965 classic 'Subterranean Homesick Blues', which inspired 'Pump It Up' and Chuck Berry's 1956 single 'Too Much Monkey Business', which in turn had influenced the Dylan song. Costello's refreshingly relaxed reaction comes despite a surge in music copyright cases in recent years. Perhaps the most infamous case was over the hit song 'Blurred Lines' - in which the family of the late Marvin Gaye accused Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams of plagiarising Gaye's song 'Got To Give It Up'. The jury's controversial verdict found that Thicke and Williams had copied the 'vibe' of Gaye's 1977 hit - rather than lifting a melody or chord sequence, which is usual bar for plagiarism. Since then, artists like over-rated ginger strummer Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Childish Gambino have all been sued for millions over similarities between their songs and earlier hits. Although, they haven't all lost. Others have taken the precaution of crediting writers who 'might' have a claim, even a tangential one, to protect themselves against legal action. Notably, Taylor Swift (she's a popular beat combo, yer honour) gave Right Said Fred a share of her song 'Look What You Made Me Do' because her chorus melody followed a similar rhythmic pattern to their 1990s hit 'I'm Too Sexy'. Rodrigo and her co-writer Daniel Nigro have not done the same for 'Brutal' - but it seems Elvis is honoured, rather than annoyed, by the hat-tip. As you'd expect from a true gentleman like he. Costello previously gave permission for 'Pump It Up's riff to be sampled in Rogue Trader's 2005 dance hit 'Voodoo Child'.
The former actress Allison Mack has been sentenced to three years in The Joint for her role in the Nxivm sex cult. The thirty eight-year-old admitted racketeering and conspiracy charges in April 2019 related to her efforts to recruit women. Last year, cult leader Keith Raniere was handed one hundred and twenty years in The Slammer for multiple crimes, including forcing women to be his sexual 'slaves.' In a letter before sentencing, Mack begged forgiveness from her victims. The letter addressed to 'those who have been harmed by my actions' was filed to the court by her lawyers, who requested that she face no prison time for her crimes. But, that was never really an option. 'I threw myself into the teachings of Keith Raniere with everything I had,' she wrote. 'I believed, whole-heartedly, that his mentorship was leading me to a better, more enlightened version of myself ... This was the biggest mistake and regret of my life,' Mack continued. And given that includes an appearance in Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves! we can probably believe her. 'I am sorry to those of you that I brought into Nxivm. I am sorry I ever exposed you to the nefarious and emotionally abusive schemes of a twisted man,' she added. Mack, best known for her role on the television series Smallville, fled to Mexico with the group's leader as authorities began closing in on them in 2018. Since her return to the US and her arrest she has been living in her California family home while taking university courses and working in catering, her lawyers claim. 
Meanwhile, just moments after that announcement can the revelation that some members of now extremely former President Mister Rump's grubby spawn could be soon(ish) to join Allison Mack for a spell in The Big House ending each day slopping out the pail. Rump's company and its finance chief are expected to be charged with alleged tax-related crimes, according to US media reports. The Manhattan District Attorney's office will bring charges against the Rump Organisation and Allen Weisselberg on Thursday, outlets said. It is not thought that Rump himself will be implicated personally, they reported. New York City has already cut business ties with the twice-impeached former president. The Rump Organisation is a family holding company that owns hotels, golf clubs and other properties. Any criminal charges brought against it would mark the first in long-running investigations on alleged fraud by both the Manhattan district attorney and the state attorney general. Charges by District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Thursday are expected to focus on whether Weisselberg and other company executives - including Rump family members - received benefits such as apartment rentals or leased cars without reporting them properly on their tax returns, according to the reports, which first appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Rump has previously suggested that the investigations are politically-motivated. And, to paraphrase the late Mandy Rice-Davies, 'well, he would, wouldn't he?' In a statement earlier this week, Rup claimed that the case was looking at 'things that are standard practice throughout the US business community, and in no way a crime.' One or two people even believed him. If the company were found guilty, however, certain business partners might draw a line under their relationship with the Rump Organisation, as well as facing fines and possible jail time. New York City, for example, has already announced it will terminate contracts with the firm to run skating rinks, a carousel and a golf course, in the aftermath of the US Capitol riots. The investigations will also take into account eight years of Rump's personal and corporate tax returns, obtained by prosecutors after a long legal battle, which ended in the Supreme Court in February. Rump, who inherited money from his father and went on to become a property developer, was the first president since Richard Nixon in the 1970s not to have made his tax returns public. Despite facing a number of investigations, the now extremely former president has denied any wrongdoing personally or in his business. Mandy, you're on again.
A man has reportedly been arrested in Kuwait and banged up in The Joint after he posted a video on TikTok complaining about the country's bad weather. In the footage uploaded to the social media app the man who is said to be Egyptain but who has not been identified, can be heard complaining about a sandstorm which had engulfed the country in the previous few days. 'I'm inside a dust storm right now, I literally can't see anything in front of me,' the man says, showing the dust coating the highway like a thick fog. 'Fine, Kuwait, fine,' he adds, with an expletive in Arabic. Kuwait's Ministry Of Interior & Brutalising Dissent, said on Sunday that the person behind the 'offensive' video was extremely arrested after being 'referred' to authorities (for which read 'snitched up like a good'un by some Copper's Nark') and that they would 'take the necessary legal action against him.' The Gulf Arab state has an outspoken parliament and relatively vibrant civic life, but authorities have been known to use cybercrime laws to prosecute dissidents and police speech. Rumours that the British government is also having a crackdown on people whinging about the weather have been dismissed since, apparently, we don't have enough jails to hold all sixty five million of us.
Scientists have detected two collisions between a neutron star and a black hole in the space of ten days. Researchers predicted that such collisions would occur, but did not know how often. The observations could mean that some ideas of how stars and galaxies form may need to be revised. Professor Vivien Raymond, from Cardiff University, told BBC News that the surprising results were 'fantastic. We have to go back to the drawing board and rewrite our theories,' he said. 'We have learned a bit of a lesson again. When we assume something we tend to be proved wrong after a while. So we have to keep our minds open and see what the Universe is telling us.' Black holes are astronomical objects that have such strong gravity, not even light can escape. Neutron stars are dead stars that are incredibly dense. A teaspoonful of material from a neutron star is estimated to weigh around four billion tonnes. Both objects are cosmological monsters, but black holes are considerably more massive than neutron stars. In the first collision, which was detected on 5 January 2020, a black hole six-and-a-half times the mass of our Sun crashed into a neutron star that was one-and-a-half times more massive than our parent star. In the second collision, picked up just ten days later, a black hole of ten solar masses merged with a neutron star of two solar masses. When objects as massive as these collide they create ripples in the fabric of space called gravitational waves. And it is these ripples that the researchers have detected. The researchers looked back at earlier observations with fresh eyes and many of them are likely to to have been similar mismatched collisions. Researchers have previously detected two black holes colliding, as well as two neutron stars but this is the first time they have detected a neutron star crashing into a black hole.
A prototype flying car has completed a thirty five-minute flight between international airports in Nitra and Bratislava, Slovakia. The hybrid car-aircraft, AirCar, is equipped with a BMW engine and runs on regular petrol-pump fuel. Its creator, Professor Stefan Klein, said it could fly about six hundred miles, at a height of eight thousand feet and had clocked up forty hours in the air so far. It takes two minutes and fifteen seconds to transform from car into aircraft. The narrow wings fold down along the sides of the car. Professor Klein drove it straight off the runway and into town upon arrival, watched by invited reporters. He described the experience as 'normal' and 'very pleasant.' The vehicle can carry two people, with a combined weight limit of two hundred kilograms. But unlike drone-taxi prototypes, it cannot take off and land vertically and requires a runway. There are high expectations for the nascent market in flying cars, which have long been heralded in popular culture as a visionary landmark of the future. In 2019, consultant company Morgan Stanley predicted the sector could be worth one-and-a-half trillion bucks by 2040. So, by that time, Mark Zuckerberg should be in a position to buy it. At an industry event on Tuesday, Hyundai Motors Europe chief executive Michael Cole called the concept 'part of our future.' It is considered a potential solution to the strain on existing transport infrastructures. The company behind AirCar, Klein Vision, says the prototype has taken two years to develop and cost 'less than two million Euros' in investment. Anton Zajac, an adviser and investor in Klein Vision, said if the company could attract even a small percentage of global airline or taxi sales, it would be 'hugely successful. There are about forty thousand orders of aircraft in the United States alone,' he said. 'And if we convert five per cent of those, to change the aircraft for the flying car - we have a huge market.' Doctor Stephen Wright, senior research fellow in avionics and aircraft, at the University of the West of England, described the AirCar as 'the lovechild of a Bugatti Veyron and a Cesna 172.' He did not think the vehicle would be particularly loud or uneconomical in terms of fuel costs, compared with other aircraft. 'I have to admit that this looks really cool - but I've got a hundred questions about certification,' Doctor Wright added. 'Anyone can make an aeroplane but the trick is making one that flies and flies and flies for the thick end of a million hours, with a person on board, without having an incident. I can't wait to see the piece of paper that says this is safe to fly and safe to sell.'
French police say they have extremely arrested a naughty woman suspected of causing a huge crash during the Tour De France on Saturday by waving a sign in the riders' path. The peloton was twenty eight miles from the end of the first stage, when her carelessly waved sign hit the German rider Tony Martin. He fell to the ground and caused dozens of other riders behind him to follow suit, in what was one of the Tour De France's worst ever crashes. French authorities say that the woman, who is French, is currently in custody in Landerneau. Video footage of the incident has been shared widely online. The woman can be seen holding a sign with 'granny and granddad' written in a combination of French and German and grinning like a loon. Until she caused the crash. Then he expression changed a bit. She was looking away from the peloton coming towards her and did not see them approach, while holding her sign into the road. As a result of the crash, one rider - Jasha Sutterlin - had to pull out of the Tour completely and another eight riders, including Martin, were treated for injuries. The crash held up the race, which was between between Brest and Landerneau in North-West France, for five minutes, while bikes and riders were untangled and cleared from the road. Following the incident, Tour De France Deputy Director Pierre-Yves Thouault was incandescent with rage and said the tour would take legal action against the foolish woman. 'We are suing this woman who behaved so badly. We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this do not spoil the show for everyone,' he told AFP news agency.
The UK-based space start-up OneWeb has received a cash injection of five hundred million dollars from Indian firm Bharti Global. The deal means Bharti will now take a thirty nine per cent stake, making it the biggest shareholder in the satellite provider. The UK government is also a major shareholder after it and Bharti put in a billion bucks to buy OneWeb out of bankruptcy last year. The new investment will help OneWeb launch more commercial satellites into space later this year. OneWeb is building a network of low Earth orbit satellites to deliver broadband connections around the world. The deal is expected to complete in the second half of this year. 'In just a year and during a global pandemic, together we have transformed OneWeb, bringing the operation back to full-scale. With this round of financing, we complete the funding requirements,' Bharti Global's Managing Director Shravin Mittal said in a statement. In total, the company has secured 2.4 billion dollars of funding to deliver on its ambitions. Paris-based Eutelsat took a stake in OneWeb with a five hundredand fifty million investment in April. Japanese technology giant SoftBank is also a major investor. Under the deal, the UK government, Eutelsat and SoftBank will each own nineteen per cent of the firm. UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the deal is 'a vote of confidence' in the company: 'It's clear that investors see a strong future for this incredible, cutting-edge company and a robust commercial case for investment.' The British government had been criticised for using UK taxpayer money to rescue a bankrupt company at the time of the bailout. Earlier this week, OneWeb signed a deal with BT to explore ways to provide broadband internet to remote parts of the UK and people at sea. The two companies said they will look at how to improve the speed that people can access data in remote areas, and how to improve the signal people can get on their phone, including how to stop it cutting out so much. The UK government has also launched Project Gigabit, which aims to improve rural broadband coverage across the country. OneWeb competes with providers such as Jeff Bezos' Project Kuiper as well as Elon Musk's Starlink, which was recently granted a license by the UK regulator to operate. Starlink began a UK trial of its services in January after Ofcom granted it a licence in November. OneWeb says it currently has two hundred and eighteen satellites and is due to launch a further thirty six on Thursday.
Covid is common in pet cats and dogs whose owners have the disease, research suggests. Swabs were taken from three hundred and ten pets in one hundredand ninety six households where a human infection had been detected. Six kitties and seven dogs returned a positive PCR result, while fifty four animals tested positive for virus antibodies. 'If you have Covid, you should avoid contact with your cat or dog, just as you would do with other people,' Doctor Els Broens, from Utrecht University, said. 'The main concern is not the animals' health but the potential risk that pets could act as a reservoir of the virus and reintroduce it into the human population.' The authors of the study said that no evidence of pet-to-owner transmission had been recorded to date but it would be difficult to detect while the virus was still spreading easily between humans. Most infected pets tend to be asymptomatic or display mild Covid symptoms. Researchers from Utrecht sent a mobile veterinary clinic to households in the Netherlands that had tested positive for Covid at some point in the past two hundred days. Swabs were taken from their pet cats and dogs to test for evidence of a current infection, while blood samples were also tested for antibodies suggesting a past exposure to Covid. The results were presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Four per cent showed evidence of a current infection. Seventeen per cent tested positive for antibodies. Follow-up tests showed all the polymerase chain reaction-positive animals cleared the infection and went on to develop antibodies. The researchers say the most likely route of virus transmission is from human to animal, rather than the other way round. 'We can't say there is a zero per cent risk of owners catching Covid from their pets,' Veterinary Microbiological Diagnostic Centre Doctor Broens said. 'At the moment, the pandemic is still being driven by human-to-human infections, so we just wouldn't detect it.' Vets in Russia have started vaccinating some animals against the disease. But Doctor Broens said: 'I don't see the scientific evidence for that now. It seems unlikely that pets play a role in the pandemic.' A separate study run by the University of Guelph in Ontario found cats that slept on their owner's bed seemed to be at particular risk of infection. A total of forty eight cats and fifty four dogs from seventy seven households were tested for Covid antibodies and their owners asked about their interaction with their pets. About sixty seven per cent of the owned cats and forty three per cent of the owned dogs tested positive, compared with nine per cent of dogs and cats from an animal shelter and three per cent of stray cats in the area. A quarter of the pets displayed a symptom of the disease, from loss of appetite to difficulty breathing. And although most cases were mild, three were severe. The study's authors said cats' biology may make them more susceptible to Covid. Cats are also more likely to sleep near their owner's face than dogs, increasing their exposure to any infection.