Way To Go, Marines! Semper Fi!

I can’t tell you how pleased I am to read reports like this. It seems that the US Marine Corps, through a ‘junior military reserve program’, is organizing highly disciplined schooling for teenagers in troubled areas. An article discusses the program at the Marine Military Math and Science Academy in Chicago, which is described as ‘the first public Marine academy in the nation’. I’m seething, though, at the idiotic comments of opponents of the program. One Oscar Castro, speaking for the ‘National Youth and Militarism Program’ (whatever that may be) complains: “To call these young people child soldiers might be

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An historical treasure-trove is now online

This is huge, friends. Huge. At least, if you’re at all interested in the history of knowledge, how we’ve come to understand ourselves and our world, and how we’re going to tackle the problems currently facing humanity. The British journal Nature was founded almost 140 years ago. Its first issue appeared on November 4, 1869. In that issue was set out what today we’d call a ‘mission statement’: First, to place before the general public the grand results of scientific work and scientific discovery; and to urge the claims of science to move to a more general recognition in education

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Two adventurers make it across the Tasman Sea – by kayak!

Last year two adventurers in Australia, James Castrission and Justin Jones, decided to take their kayak for a paddle . . . a fourteen-hundred-mile paddle, to be exact. They would attempt the first crossing by kayak of the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. Their morale can’t have been helped by the news that a solo kayaker, Andrew MacAuley, had disappeared during his attempt. On February 13th last year he sent out a garbled distress call. After an intensive search his empty, overturned kayak was discovered. Pictures on his camera proved that he’d seen the coast of New Zealand

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Weekend Wings #2: Return Of The Airship?

Airships and balloons have been with us for many centuries. Initially balloons were unpowered and at the mercy of the wind and weather. Both hot air and gas-filled balloons were developed at the same time. The Montgolfier brothers demonstrated their first hot air balloon in 1783, with the first human flight following a few months later. Jacques Charles demonstrated the first hydrogen balloon in the same year and made the first human flight in it ten days after the Montgolfier brothers. The first balloon powered by human muscles was built by Jean-Pierre Blanchard in 1784. The following year he crossed

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The Importance Of Being Armed

There’s an awful lot of nonsense said (by those who should know better) about how dangerous guns are, and how evil those ‘gun-lovers’ are, and so on. (Personally I’ve never met anyone who ‘loves’ their gun[s], or has any sort of relationship with them . . . but perhaps I’m behind the times.) In my book on prison ministry I describe some of the lessons I’ve learned through working with convicts. I’d like to quote a couple of paragraphs from my manuscript: There are those who claim that we should rely on police and law enforcement agencies to protect us.

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Harbin Festival

During this month the Harbin International Ice And Snow Sculpture Festival is under way in northern China. It’s one of the great festivals of its kind in the world, and one of my ambitions is to visit it at least once before I die. Last month “15,000 workers began cutting ice blocks from the river’s frozen surface, and 16 days and 120,000 cubic metres (4.2 million cubic feet) of ice later, the show was ready.“ This year also sees the largest snow sculpture ever created. ‘Romantic Feelings’ is 115 feet high and 656 feet long, according to the Daily Mail,

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Cheezburger does it again

Many of you, I’m sure, are familiar with the ‘Lolcat’ phenomenon – pictures of cats and/or kittens speaking a strangely abbreviated language. I link to one of the main Lolcat sites in my blogroll. Well, cats aren’t the only animals portrayed. This one just about made me spray my monitor with my morning cup of tea. As my buddy Lawdog would say, *gigglesnort!* That picture reminds me overwhelmingly of all the politicians plastered all over our TV screens at the moment. Wonder if I could persuade one of the major networks to adopt it as the theme picture for political

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The most important car in years?

Although I’ve put a question-mark behind the title of this post, I think the just-announced Tata Motors ‘Nano’ car really is the most important car to come along in years. It’s certainly got other major manufacturers thinking hard, with Volkswagen, Ford, Renault and Nissan already announcing plans for their own bare-bones vehicles. The reason it’s so important is simple: the base vehicle costs only the equivalent of $2,500. That’s right – two and a half thousand dollars. Tata is based in India, where there’s an immense pent-up demand for transport but very little in the way of low-cost alternatives to

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