Category Archives: Interesting news stories

A Conversation With My 12 Year Old Self

Don’t we all wish that what we now know about life we knew 20 years ago! With age comes wisdom and in most cases we become more sensible and able to cope with most of what life throws at us.

If only you could talk to yourself as a kid and give yourself advice on how best to grow up. Would it make us better adults? Probably not because that’s the point. We need to learn for ourselves.

However, one clever 32 year old American has managed to speak to himself as a kid ! Well, all is not quite as it seems because he interviewed himself as a 12 year old and then interviewed himself again 20 years later. It’s confusing I know. The best thing is to watch the video below and then you will understand !

What’s the biggest breakfast you can eat?

I love a cooked breakfast once in a while, but could I eat one of the largest breakfasts served in the UK which consists of 8 eggs, 12 rashers of bacon, 12 sausages, potatoes, mushrooms, hash browns, black pudding, beans and 12 slices of bread. The answer is a definate No! This breakfast, however, is on sale in a cafe in the UK for a cost of £15. If you can manage to eat it you get your money back.

You can watch the video about this enormous breakfast here.

This breakfast weighs a staggering 9 pounds, the same weight as a small child !

The video about this enormous breakfast is part of a BBC series about how Britain’s weigh on average 3 stones more than we did 50 years ago. It seems that the eating habits of some Americans, with their super sized portions has caught on over here.

The problem with TV programmes like this is that they can glamourise this type of eating behaviour. In fact there is a programme on one of the channels called Man vs Food where the presenter travels around trying to find super sized eating challenges. Having seen the programme once it made me feel ill just watching it.

If we are all going to get bigger it raises questions about the size of aircraft seats and other similar things as well as the most important things – our health so ….TV producers please do not make TV programmes about over eating glamourous!

Bored of listening to music? Listen to TED!

Quite a while ago I discovered TED. No, this is not some strange man that I found in a remote place! TED stands for Technolgy Entertainment and Design.The BBC in an article today describes TED as a cult. I wouldn’t quite go that far but there is no doubt that since videos of TED talks were put online they have become mainstream rather than just listened to by those willing to pay thousands of pounds for an annual membership.

TED talks, if you don’t know are lectures lasting about 20 minutes that are given on just about any subject you can imagine. The talks are given by experts in that field or by people with a passion for the subject. They can be inspiring, educational, informative, bewildering, bizzare and mind bogggling but the one thing they all have in common is that they are very thought provoking. TED talks are an outlet for ideas and there is something that will interest most people.

Some of the quotes and subjects you can see online range from -”The Secret to Happiness is Low Expectations” to “Lessons from Death Row Inmates”.They are educational and as the website says are “Ideas worth spreading”

I find TED talks so interesting that I have found myself listening to talks rather than listening to music. I have downlowded the TED app and I often lie in bed at night listening. I can understand why the talks have become cult listening material and if you haven’t tried listening I suggest you give it a go.

The top TED talks you can watch are:-

1. Ken Robinson on schools killing creativity – viewed nearly 11 million times

2. Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight - viewed 8.7 million times

3. Pranav Mistry on sixth sense technology – viewed 8.3 million times

4. Steve Jobs on how to live before you die – viewed 8.2 million times

5. David Gallow shows underwater astonishments – viewed 7.4 million times

6. Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demo SixthSense – viewed 6.4 million times

7. Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action – viewed 5.7 million times

8. Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability – viewed 5.1 million times

9. Arthur Benjamin does “Mathemagic” – viewed 4.2 million times

10. Hans Rosling shows the best stats you’ve ever seen – viewed 4.1 million times

Viewing figures as of 20 June 2012 on TED website

Shocking state of 80% of school leavers in Scotland.

Shocking news in The Scotsman newspaper today about an employer who says that 80% of young people in Scotland are unemployable. Being involved in both business and further education myself I was both interested to read this story and it left me wondering whether the same could be said of young people in the rest of the UK.

The paper reports that -

The “recurring” problems identified among applicants included a poor attitude to others, no concept of citizenship, poor communication skills, a poor understanding of the standards expected and an “inability to make a decision based on anything other than ‘I want’.”

But the submission added: “The single biggest issue causing difficulties for the transition from school to employment is the discrepancy in working hours. Our apprentice intakes consistently describe a maximum of 18 hours in class per week, extended holidays and little or no access to extracurricular activities.” Youngsters who go on to college come into the workplace a year or more year later with a “further deterioration in concept of ―working week”, the submission added.

I suspect that in England the figures will not be as high as those in Scotland but other employers in England have also said similar things in the past.

The employer concerned, in Scotland, said the firm had 2,280 applications for apprenticeships in 2011 – but found that 1,850 were simply not fit for the workplace. It took on 121 youngsters, although 430 were employable. If these numbers are indeed mirrored throughout the UK then educational establishments really do have to try harder to supply the skills needed for employment.

Read the full article in The Scotsman here

Coffee Shop Owner Bans Mobile Phones

On the phoneThere is an interesting news story on the BBC website about a coffee stall owner banning customers who are on their mobile phones. He has taken a dislike to customers who try to order whilst they are on their mobile phones to someone else!

Well, I have to agree with this guy and well done to him for putting a sign up about it. Mobile phones have taken over a lot of peoples lives and they can’t live without either speaking to someone or texting someone every few minutes. Next time you walk into a bar or restaurant take  a look to see how many people are using their phones rather than actually speaking face to face with someone. You will be amazed how many people seem to be losing the art of conversation !

Watch the BBC video about this news story here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17687054

Daleks Beaten At Last !

I was sad to read that the daleks are being retired from Dr Who. It seems that the daleks have been beaten far too often by the Dr and the producers of the show feel that the daleks need a well earned rest from battle!

The daleks first appeared in the Dr Who series in 1963 and I can still remember being terrified as a young boy and hiding behind the sofa when the daleks were on the series. The word “exterminate” will always make me think about the daleks.

I agree that it is about time the daleks evolved into something better. After all, how can a machine that can’t climb steps be considered a menacing threat to anyone? The daleks must have been one of the first machines sent to terrorise humanity but they have probably been eclipsed by the likes of the Terminator who can more easily climb a set of steps!

I am watching out for daleks on Ebay. One would look great in my living room. I could put it behind my sofa !

Business’s should take advantage of Apprenticeships

There has never been a better time for business’s of all sizes to take advantage of the governments apprenticeships scheme. It is effectively free training which leads to formal qualifications. Customer service is the key to getting ahead of your competitors and with free customer service training available there is no excuse for not taking advantage of it.

A plan to “reverse the trend of rising youth employment” is to be launched by David Cameron and Nick Clegg. The £60m package will create apprenticeships in private firms and a local training company has won a contract to take advantage of the many benefits that apprenticeships offer.

RTC Training based in West Yorkshire are currently offering local employers the opportunity to recruit apprentices in Health and Social Care, Customer Service and Business Administration.

Gordon Rozario, director of RTC Training, believes that the scheme will prove extremely popular with organisations wishing to reduce staff cost and increase motivation and loyalty within their workforce.

He explained “Apprenticeships deliver real return to your bottom line by improving performance and enabling you to be more competitive. They tend to be eager, motivated, flexible and loyal to the company that invested in them. Remember, an apprentice is with you because they want to be – they have made an active choice to learn on the job and a commitment to a specific career.

Employing apprentices is more cost-effective than hiring skilled staff and leads to lower overall costs as the minimum wage for an apprentice is £2.50 per hour. There is no cost to the employer and the apprentice will not require any time off work as all assessments and training will be done in the workplace, with the exception of Health and Social Care who are required to spend one day a week at a training centre.”

Employers wishing to consider taking on apprentices should act quickly as the number of places on the current intake is limited and demand is high.

England lose 2018 World Cup

It would have been great if England had won the right to stage the 2018 World Cup but instead it has been awarded to Russia. Does this mean that the so called “Iron Curtain” has lost its final piece ? I watched the England bid live on TV and it was very impressive. Prince William, David Cameron and the rest of the team did a superb presentation. It was very slick and the argument they put forward was very convincing. Maybe it came too late but in the vote England were eliminated in the first round of FIFA voting.

I’m really pleased though that Russia is to host the 2018 World Cup. The World Cup has never been hosted in eastern Europe and this decision will help open up Russia and develop it as a footballing nation. Russia is a country that should be closer to the West as it has the same values. Hosting the 2018 World Cup will hopefully make Russia more open and democratic.

As far as England are concerned it will be at least 20 years before we have a chance to host the World Cup again. Maybe in the meantime England should organise its own mini tournament. After all it is the home of football.

Eurovision Back To Basics !

I watched most of Eurovision last night. Eurovision is normally painful to watch but it somehow draws you in and I feel that I need to watch it just in case the UK entry manages to get more than one point. Every year I curse at the blatant political voting which seems to have got much worse over the last few years. Even Terry Wogan had had enough and had handed over the reigns to Graham Norton.

This year the voting rules had changed and the UK entry by Jade Ewan had been touted around Europe over the last few months, however, despite the song writing skills of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber the UK entry only managed 5th place, which for a mediocre song was a vast improvement on previous years. It looks like the rest of Europe took pity on us !

This years Eurovision winner was the Norwegian entry which wasn’t a bad song and was quite catchy but one that once you had heard it a few times will prove to be very irritating.

This years contest, however, was good from the point of view that it was a more serious contest with some reasonably good songs and not so many ridiculous costumes, although there were still some acts who had acrobats when they should have had backing singers ! They should should remember that Eurovision is a song contest not a travelling circus !

Iceland managed to afford the airfare for their entry and actually I quite liked it. They finished second.

I must admit that I did miss some of Eurovision as I ended up flicking over to ITV to watch some of Britain’s Got Talent which provided much better entertainment. Still, I suppose I will be watching again next year.

MP’s must be sacked if found guilty.

The expressions on the faces of the MP’s who were brave enough to appear on BBC Question Time on Thursday night said it all ! They all looked highly embarrassed apart from Margaret Beckett who decided she would try and defend herself. She failed miserably, however, to convince the outraged audience.

What is becoming clear is that there are two types of MP’s in this saga. Firstly, there are those MP’s who submitted expense claims for items they had purchased for their so called second homes. Many of these MP’s had sought guidance on whether they could claim and many claims were passed by the people charged with administering the scheme. Secondly, there are those MP’s who seem to have been deceitful. For example, several MP’s have claimed for alleged mortgage payments made on houses that had actually no mortgage.

Whilst the first scenario is milking the system the second scenario is the most serious and is probably fraud. It’s the MP’s that have perpetuated fraud that I think should feel the force of the law against them.

There is no doubt that our political system has been badly damaged. It’s not going to be easy for MP’s to regain trust from us, but a start would be for all those found to have committed a fraud to either resign or be sacked as MP’s and secondly for the whole expenses system to be re-written and administered properly.

What we also need to know are the details of all the MP’s who have played within the spirit of the rules. It’s easy to think that our whole political system is corrupt but so far we have only been told about those MP’s that have made outrageous claims and it may well be that the vast majority have not played the system.