Friday, March 13, 2009

Mercury fascination.

I think that most of us have been fascinated by mercury at sometime in our lives, probably in one of those lively chemistry lessons at school, when a slight spillage has resulted in a myriad of silver globules scattering over the bench and onto the floor. Hopefully today a little more care is taken with this highly toxic liquid metal, and its harmful affects are more widely appreciated.
It was only this week that I heard about the intriguing tale of German sub U-864. On the 8th February 1945, in the closing stages of World War II, the submarine was on a mission to Japan, when it was intercepted by a British submarine called HMS Venturer. U-864 became the only submarine to be sunk by another submarine while under water. Although the incident cost the lives of the 73 luckless men on board, it also had the affect of releasing an ecological time bomb. This consisted of 1,800 canisters of mercury, which equated to 65 tons, and was destined for the Japanese munitions industry.
The incident which occurred 64 years ago, 3.6 km west of the island of Fedje in the North Sea, is far from over, as the canisters slowly corrode and release increasing amounts into the North Sea. There have been many proposed schemes over the years to deal with the problem, including the one two years ago to entomb the submarine in an sarcophagus, which was a method previously employed on other underwater hazards. It was felt however that this was only postponing the problem, rather than effectively dealing with the situation.

Lets hope the saga will finally come to an end next year, when a proposed £100 million operation, that has finally been authorised by the Norwegian fisheries minister Helga Pedersen, finally comes to fruition. The wreck will be raised with a large container underneath it that will catch loose mercury, and will be brought ashore in a special vessel.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A guilty secret.

I have to admit that when I first heard about Jade Goody's cancer scare, I was a little sceptical. "Not another publicity stunt!" Give it a few months and she will be telling her 'dice with death' story to one of the tabloids for a few hundred thousand pounds.

Unfortunately I was completely wrong! As we hear that she is to marry her boyfriend Jack Tweed, who proposed to her on the eve of Valentine's day, the devastating reality emerges that she has months to live.

Her spokesman Max Clifford says that she was informed yesterday that she was terminally ill. There is no road back, the question is now when and not if. Love or hate her, there is no way she deserves this. I cannot imagine anything more devastating, to have two young children and know for certain you would never see their next birthday, see them grow up, and have children of their own. It must be like having a bad dream, waking up, and realising with a shiver that it has been nothing but a nightmare.

Bobby, five and Freddie, four are both very young. Although it sounds heartless, they will get over it. My sympathy goes out to Jade, we all imagine what death must be like, but push it to the back of our subconscious. But to know you are so close to the abyss, yet so young and with so much to live for. To never, never set foot on this wonderful earth again.

When we look around us and see such terrible things, why is it there are so many people, who have so much to be thankful for, turn to violence and destruction.

When I see children with Cerebral Palsy who have done nothing to deserve the 'hand that life has dealt them', smile and demonstrate so much love and strength. What have most of us got to complain about?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pink prejudice.

Girls like pink don't they?

Is that why stores seem to stock girls' products exclusively in pink?

Or is a deliberate ploy to widen the gap between sexes and put pressure on youngsters to conform to traditional roles. I don't believe it is the intention of the stores or toy manufacturers, but more a subtle marketing strategy to maximise profit.
The extent to which the marketers have influenced vulnerable young minds, was demonstrated by observations made by Durham 'Speech Therapists', who reported that children could easily identify the colour blue, but would answer 'Barbie' when shown a pink object.

Having products so clearly associated with either sex due to colour, certainly discourages girls or boys from thinking for themselves. Toys are either for 'boys' or 'girls', children are expected to conform, and freedom of expression is suppressed.

But what affect does this have on children as they get older? The same strategies are employed to encourage our youngsters to grow up too quickly, whether it be make-up, 'Playboy' pencil cases or provocative clothing.

Are we not creating future generations that are strongly conformist and intolerant to others' views, religion or sexuality?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Meaning Of Religion.

I happened to turn on the radio the other day and listen in on an interesting conversation about atheism. Despite falling Church attendance and the proliferation of atheism, it is an interesting fact that when faced with a adversity, especially in relation to life threatening situations, the vast majority of people, whether religious or not, will turn to God, often in the form of prayer. A point was made that this is the case, as deep within all of us we have an affinity to God our maker, even if we are not consciously aware of it.

I believe the real reason for this statistic is that we all have a deep seated fear of the unknown, and when faced with death it is only natural that we cling to any thought that may comfort us through that difficult situation.

I believe that everyone has a right to believe in what they want, as long as it does not adversely affect anyone else. Unfortunately this is not the case in many situations throughout the world.

"A missionary is a member of a religion who works to convert those who do not share the missionary's faith."

Of course everyone is free to believe in what they want, but surely it cannot be right to take the moral high ground and impose those views on others?

If some time in the future life was discovered on another planet, where half lived in luxury and wealth, while the other half was poor and starving, what would we think?

But is that not the situation in our world? Where world aid is left to charities, funded by selfish indulgent 'pastimes' of the wealthy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ramona Marquez is Outnumbered?

Not a chance! Romona plays five year old Karen in this brilliant comedy, currently in the middle of it's second series on BBC1. It is written by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, joint winners of the Royal Television Society's Lifetime Achievement Award and creators of 'Drop The Dead Donkey'.

Romona was described as having an interesting personality, very sure of herself, but without being precocious. Having just watched the first episode in the second series by complete accident, I can honestly say I am hooked. This little girl is so talented and engaging, I am sure she has a very promising career ahead of her.

Her contribution to the series is outstanding, and the programme would be a mere shadow without her. The first episode of the second series was shown on the 15th November 2008 , where Cousin Julie is getting married. "Executive bridesmaid" Karen asks her a whole host of troubling questions about her previous boyfriends, that have the poor bride distraught before she walks down the aisle! Her words are delivered with such sincerity, expression and seriousness for someone of such a young age.

While having her hair brushed before bed at the end of the first episode, she questions her long suffering mother about the reality of prison.

"Is it like a giant naughty step, but with walls and dogs?"

Five year old Romona Marquez is in her first acting role, and was actually spotted by Guy Jenkin's wife at a birthday party! What a lucky find, she has certainly given me a lot of enjoyment already.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Potting Shed.

As part of my volunteering last Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking two of my favourite children to the Potting Shed . What a fantastic place to spend a few hours! The staff there are so friendly and helpful, they made an enjoyable experience into a memorable one!
If you are ever stuck for something to do with your children and you live on the Wirral, give it a go and you won't regret it.

You select a piece of pottery, prices start at £7.50, and spend as much time as you like decorating it. You then leave your pot at the Potting Shed, where it is glazed and fired in the Kiln. You can then collect it the following week.

There is even a great little coffee shop, with cakes and other goodies to tempt both you and the kids, and all quite reasonably priced too!

I think it would also be a great idea for a kids party, there was one going on while we were there. A bit different than the usual bouncy castle or visit to Macdonalds!

I have now collected our pots and they look great, can't wait to give them to the children on Saturday!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Battery hen torment.

Battery hens are to be banned in the EU from January 2012. An estimated 24 million egg laying chickens are kept in battery cages in the UK at any one time, which produce 72% of the countries supplies.

Why is legislation required to prevent a practise that gives each chicken only 450 square centimetres of floor area, equivalent to no more than an A4 sheet of paper. Are we that cruel that we condone such treatment?
I am afraid I am as guilty as many. It is so easy to push these things to the back of your mind when face with rising supermarket prices.
I think the majority of us need protecting from our own greed and selfishness. There is a danger however, that it will only drive this industry outside the EU, unless there is a ban on import of battery eggs!