This winter and early spring the weather here in the UK has been exceptionally cold for a long time. This last few days we were up in Lincolnshire where the biting east wind blowing in from Siberia cut one to the core. The picture is on the very cold east coast on Tuesday.
Today I read that the audited costs of the Iraq war for the USA are an estimated $767bn. With ongoing healthcare and support costs the final figure will be well over $1trillion. All nations make mistakes and enter wars they later deeply regret, including the UK. What saddens me is the total WASTE this represents: Saddam was no saint, neither are the Talibhan in Afghanistan, but there has to be a better way to change nations. The phrase "swords into ploughshares" comes to mind. Jaw jaw is better than war, war. Just think how $1 trillion could have been better used. See also William Rivers Pitt | The United States of Aftermath.
Isn't it sad that people can't live peacefully together? In Northern Ireland (Ulster) an attempt is at last being made to forge a new beginning with people who were once sworn enemies trying to get along with each other for a greater good. Attempts by a marginalised few to derail the process have not succeeded and I hope they never will. Even the Rev Ian Paisley seems a changed man. This is the stuff of true statesmanship. Incidentally, I note that a lot of the ground work leading up to the settlement was done by the Quakers, always a quiet, unsung force for non-violence and peace in the world.
In the Middle East the long drawn out conflict between Israel and the Palestinians continues with periodic eruptions of hatred and violence on both sides. My knowledge of the post WW2 settlement in the region is weak but I cannot, for the life of me, understand why, two generations later, they cannot arrive at a peaceful agreement on statehood that is good for everyone. I read on the BBC website that a one state solution, with both Palestinian and Israeli people sharing equal rights in one state, is on the table again. It should be possible to make this work with trust and good will on all sides. It takes an act of great faith to make geo-political solutions work, so I wish them luck and good judgement.
We seem to have no end to winter here in the UK: it has been hovering around 2-5 degrees daytime temperatures, sometimes even lower, for months and months now. This weekend we have yet more snow forecast! A few years ago we were bemoaning the lack of cold winters and lack of snow. Not any more. In about 9 days the clocks go to British Summer Time - but where is spring>
If you are concerned about the unrestricted access into the UK of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals in 2014, you may want to sign this ePetition. We are a small island already overcrowded with resources at breaking point. We really cannot cope with up to 600000 additional incomers many of whom will come simply to make use of our benefits system. No problem with people coming in with skills we need, but please not a free for all.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2111478/ If you see no other film in a cinema this year, see this documentary
film. It beggars believe how complicit the Catholic Church has been in
suppressing and hiding child abuse cases by priests world-wide. The
complicity goes right to the pope. No wonder he has decided to resign.
Shame on the lot of them!
For several years now I've taken part, as a guinea pig, in some Cambridge University research in the Department of Speech, Language and the Brain. It involves doing occasional audio and visual tests on a PC and the occasional MRI scan of my brain.
Today I did a 2.5 hour long test that included a fiendish test called an N-back test where you have to say if the letter on the screen is the same as the one before, or in further tests the one before the one before, or the one before the one before.
Now, whereas I could do almost every other test they gave me without difficulty, this one I found almost impossibly hard.