Saturday, 31 August 2013

Being Royal

                                                       Now look here!

We rejoice in the birth of our Little Prince - George Louis Alexander of Wales.  In a French periodical it is pronounced that, according to an opinion poll, a quarter of the English people believe that his grandmother, Princess Diana, died as a result of a plot.
       1)  That is certainly rot.
       2)   The young lady's personal life was intolerably complicated by the attentions of the media from the day her engagement was announced.
It can only be hoped that little Prince George is spared such attention and can get on, fulfilling his destiny.
Republicanism is some nations' choice.  The Yanks, the Frogs, the Huns, the Irish Free State, many others, choose, every so often, to elect a Head of Sate, often more or less unsatisfactory.  At least we British are spared that responsibility.  Politicians come and go, they play their little part but can be changed.  How lucky we are to have the House of Windsor-Mountbatten!  But what a life sentence it is for those born to it......and how fortunate we are with those we have.
This is no sinecure.  From our dear Queen down, the Firm is committed, day in, day out, to be on show.  O K, they live in privileged conditions, but, by Golly, they deserve to. 
They interest themselves in innumerable charities and worthwhile projects to which they give a lead and encouragement. The man in the street who follows is proud to have their support.  Did it start with Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, and the Great Exhibition, or well before, when Farmer George the Third was encouraging agricultural progress - no matter, the range of activities supported today is legion.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme helps countless young people develop and maintain interests.  The Prince's Trust offers character building opportunities, and these are just two examples. Talk to anyone with personal experience, from a seconded Merchant Banker raising money for Inner City development to a Lord Lieutenant meeting individual members on out of town visits to country areas - all speak highly of their personal interest and how seriously well informed they are.  They are strikingly talented too.
The Princess Royal is an equestrian Olympic Gold Medalist, Prince Charles a distinguished Polo player, Prince Philip sailed with Uffa Fox, and at the same time speaks and writes thoughtfully on so much of topical,interest; in 'Men, Machines and Sacred Cows', of the World Wildlife Fund and the British Association for the Advancement of Science, to name just two. Today the young princes pilot helicopters, alongside performing public ceremonial duties with dignity.
Young Harry walking with grievously disabled ex-Servicemen to the North Pole is an example to all. If he enjoys himself like Shakespeare's Prince Hal with Falstaff, he shows his ancestor's, Henry V's serious side too.
There is a lot to be said for our Monarchy!

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Colonisation of Mars?!

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There is no need to be a Grumpy Old Man to doubt the sanity of one's fellow members of the human race......

Former astronaut, John Grunsfield (ever heard of him?), claims that , 'Single planet species don't survive.'   What balderdash!  Look around you, old fool, and count them - literally millions after millions of years since Big Bang.
True, at the moment, improvident development of industrial inventions is creating problems - the melting of the icecaps, general global warming, sometimes glibly described as the Greenhouse Effect, but is this an irreversible process?
The population of the world may be increasing, but is not his controllable? Starvation may be faced daily,  and the exposure to infection with deadly disease, but medical advance is rapid and agricultural science has the capability to expand the production of foodstuffs without the need to cultivate Mars!
There, it is solemnly suggested, pressurised greenhouses could be built to produce copious harvests, which would be, presumably, mysteriously transported through emptiness, in a shuttle of space ships on their eight month journey to Earth....or is the idea to abandon the terrestrial globe, and start all over again with  a new race of alien earthmen?  Indeed, Stephen Hawking,(with a kind of Professor Branestawm invention?), visualises 'eventually establishing self-sustaining colonies on Mars and other bodies in the solar system.'!!
Buzz Aldrin, first Man on the Moon, later a U S Senator, now solemnly pronounces, 'We are on a pathway to homestead the Red Planet.' This when George W Bush's proposed plan merely to send a manned mission to Mars was shelved when the cost was reckoned at more than $400 billion...
Even the worthy Obama has joined the game, but modestly only asks Nasa to work on the possibility of sending a manned mission to orbit the planet by the mid 2030s.  Shouldn't attention be paid to simpler, more practical schemes to increase food production in ways we understand and on surfaces we can master?
The pressurised greenhouse notion can be pursued.  The oceans cover vast areas of the earth's surface.  Churchill could imagine floating harbours to surprise Adolf Hitler in 1944. Are not floating islands in the Pacific now a feasibility? Or could not the canopy of Brazilian rain forests provide space?  30 years ago my god-daughter was dropped on to a net above the trees to spend a month studying insect life.  Small technical advance would be required to devise a method to site there a few acres of tomato houses, say, pressurised and thermatically controlled to a suitable temperature, of course.
There are many ways to skin a cat.....