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EIRSAT-1 May 27, 2017

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Thanks to Garibaldy for noticing this…

Irish contributions to the endeavours of space research have been significant, from the Birr Castle telescope to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Laurence O’Rourke playing a large part in Rosetta’s contact with Comet 67p.
However, we still have not sent an Irish person into space, or even one of our own spacecraft into Earth’s orbit – until now.

And:

In a statement, the ESA has confirmed the selection of a satellite owned and built by an Irish team, comprising researchers and five spacetech companies that will launch a satellite called Educational Research Satellite-1, or EIRSAT-1 for short.
To be led by University College Dublin (UCD) and Queen’s University Belfast, the cube satellite (cubesat) will be launched from the International Space Station, where it will join a multitude of other objects in Earth’s orbit.

A small but useful step forward. Good on QUB and UCD.

Airships. Back. Again. Perhaps… May 27, 2017

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Google co-founder Sergey Brin is building a hi-tech airship in Silicon Valley destined to be the largest aircraft in the world, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the project.

“It’s going to be massive on a grand scale,” said one, adding that the airship is likely to be nearly 200 meters long. This would make it by far the world’s largest aircraft today, albeit smaller than the epic Hindenburg Zeppelins of the 1930s, or the American navy airship USS Macon that was once based in the very same hangars where Brin’s aircraft is now taking shape.

Here’s a list of the 10 largest passenger aircraft in the world.

And here’s some thoughts on how sales are going on the A380.

And here’s one in development, albeit not a passenger aircraft. All looking a bit Gerry Anderson to my eyes.

Still what of the future and large aircraft? Here’s another handy list!

I like this line for the Aether Airship…

One of the more interesting ideas is the Aether airship. Designer Mac Byers realized that his airship needed to look different than old airships so that people did not associate it with disasters like the Hindenburg explosion. Thus, the Aether airship has a long, sharklike appearance that communicates both safety and futurism.

Hmmm… sharklike communicates safety. Okay. Still it’s a fine looking proposal.

I love flying wings so Boeings X-48C is right up my street. I say the more the better and with giant viewing windows too at the front edge so people can see where they’re going.

THen there’s Boeing’s Pelican, sadly now no longer being investigated by the for a ground effect aircraft that would fly all of 6m above an ocean – essentially an ekranoplan.

After that we’re into cool looking concepts which are unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon. The AWWA-QG Progress Eagle being one such – a triple deck design.

Star Trek Discovery May 27, 2017

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You may have seen this. And now you can listen to this… The Incomparable podcast “Young Sexy Harry Mudd” which deconstructs it admirably.

I have to say I think it looks pretty great. And someone made a point that it may look too good, that they can’t keep that level of visual excellence going week after week.

Apparently there are complaints that it doesn’t look white or male enough. As one of the contributors to the Incomparable noted (and in the link above those on io9 also noted) clearly those complaining have no experience of… Star Trek!

Or as io9 puts it…

What sets this breed of intolerant Trekkies apart from other types of internet loudmouths, though, is how deeply incorrect their understandings of their beloved franchise’s core concepts are. Star Trek is quite literally about an organization of interstellar explorers who could not do what they do, were it not for the fact that their society is based on interplanetary cooperation and acceptance of one another.

It always, from the off, had central non-male, non-white cast members. That was one of its main features, one of its strengths – even if at first that was a limited number – Uhura and Sulu. But they were there, on the bridge of the Enterprise, from day one and it was a deliberate and important step forward.

And then as time moved on and there were new series that feature became more pronounced because again it was a strength. And eventually others woke up to this. And the society which reflected and inflected these changes changed too.

As it happens after all these years I find that TOS, DS9 and Voyager are the three I find most enjoyable. I would actually slightly prefer Enterprise these days over TNG. Just slightly, and not in relation to the first two seasons of Enterprise which were pretty poor.

But it’s an odd time. There is a Star Trek film franchise which functions reasonably well – but the TV show sounds like it will be a bit of an additional add-on. Perhaps not. Let’s hope so. If it can retain the scale on display here…

(by the way, great comment on io9… “Can we all just start pointing and laughing whenever anyone uses the term “white genocide?”” +1).

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci May 27, 2017

Posted by Aonrud ⚘ in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Welsh psychadelic rock/pop group Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci were active in the 90s and early 2000s.

Their earliest albums in particular are a fantastic jumble of psychadelic and silly, with experimental sounds and, sometimes cheesy, pop melodies merging together or even just appended to one another in an abrupt tonal shift, all in a mixture of Welsh and English. Most of their songs were written by Euros Childs and John Lawrence, organ and guitar players respectively.

I first heard them around the time of their third album, Bwyd Time (1995). We got the Welsh channels on our TV where I grew up, and finding a programme on S4C about GZM instead of a film on Channel 4 was one of the few occasions that was an advantage! A lot of the videos below are from that same programme, which turned up on Youtube some years back. Here’s Miss Trudy:

Also from Bwyd Time, The Man with Salt Hair:

The live version of Blood Chant, which differs from the album in treating it as a round:

A lot of their singles over the years were released separately from the albums or on EPs, including If Fingers Were Xylophones, which came around the same time as Bwyd Time:

There’s a clear Soft Machine fondness in their early stuff – I suspect I heard their cover of Why Are We Sleeping? before the original version – and their second album, Tatay, includes a cover of Robert Wyatt’s O Caroline, as well as the fantastic tribute to Kevin Ayers below, which sounds like the GZM take on Ayers’ Oyster and the Flying Fish.

Kevin Ayers:

In 1997 they released Barafundle, which I think marks a balance point in their albums, being much more cleanly put together and recorded, but still having a lot of the whimsy of early albums. Starmoonsun is a good summary of the GZM style at that time – catchy pop melodies, abrupt shifts in texture, through instrumentation or key, and no song can’t be improved by singing ‘la la la’ in a high register (a rule of thumb a lot of musicians who take themselves too seriously could do with trying out 🙂 ).

Also from Barafundle, Miniature Kingdoms:

Here they are on Jools Holland from that time, playing two thoroughly poppy singles. (The touch of country in Childs’ melody writing is clear in the first as well, which is more prominent in his later solo work).

Gorky 5, the last album to feature John Lawrence, and certainly Spanish Dance Troupe (their sixth album), are more cleanly melodic. As with many groups after that many albums, the sound had settled into a less experimental and more consistent style, but still contain some great songs.

From Lawrence, the instrumental Not Yet:

And from Spanish Dance Troupe, Poodle Rockin’:

It’s only about a year ago that I remembered I’d never tracked down their first album, Patio. Obviously that’s a much easier task these days, and there it is on Youtube – a brilliant cobbling-together of various home recordings over a few years of their teens (they’re young enough that there are some fairly high male voices in there 🙂 ). To be fair, it is a bit of a mess of an album, but still compelling.

Here’s Lladd Eich Gwraig (there’s one line of English in there, which stands out as entertainingly sinister for non-Welsh speakers who are getting used to not understanding the words.  I assume an intentional effect):

To finish off, here’s a great jumble of noise and video from early in their career:

Norway/Sweden border May 26, 2017

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Can’t see this working – an interesting report on RTÉ on how they do things on the border between Norway and Sweden. There’s kind of installations. There’s restrictions. There’s some checks. And all this, mind, with Norway in the single market – which as the report notes isn’t going to be the case with the UK. And consider this… imagine UK Customs getting the right to go 15 km into the Republic and vice versa?

Signs of Hope – A continuing series May 26, 2017

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Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

Meanwhile… ‘secure jobs and pensions’ but hold on, what of those without ‘secure jobs and pensions’? May 26, 2017

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I mentioned Stephen Collins warm words about Varadkar. But what of this, from the same piece?

In Ireland some of the most negative voices, at least on the airwaves, come from representatives of the various public-sector groups who have secure jobs and pensions, while the voices of the majority of workers who don’t have these advantages are not heard with the same regularity.

It never seems to strike Collins to ask himself why that majority of workers – of which I am one myself, being on contract to the PS – don’t have those ‘advantages’. Could it be because their employers don’t bother to underwrite pensions and offer security? Sure could! What is Collins arguing should ameliorate their situation? We all – I am certain – would like to hear his answer to that question.

Today’s poll. Nothing is so popular as Kenny’s leaving of us. And… the (FG) members are restless…and not just them… May 26, 2017

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So, a poll. From the IT no less. And in it the figures are:

FG 30% (+2), FF 27% (-2), LP 5% (+1), SF 20% (-1), IND/OTHER 18% (NC).

In that latter GP 2%, SOLIDARITY – PBP 3%, SD 1%,I4C 2%, IA 2%, OTHERS 2%, NON PARTY IND 5%.

I guess it depends how you view this. In one way this is good news for FG, though all within the MOE. Though not the first poll from all poll providers to show them ahead of the old enemy IIRC. On the other 2% and within the MOE seems small reward for pushing their best and brightest, supposedly, into the public spotlight for a couple of weeks now.

Meanwhile Enda Kenny… his satisfaction rating has gone up from 31 to 43%! He should depart every day! Those dissatisfied with the government still outweigh by quite some distance those satisfied with it and so on and so forth.

Seems the Fine Gael membership is less than gruntled at the coronation of Leo Varadkar.

Having spoken with the party’s core supporters in five constituencies: Longford-Westmeath, Roscommon-Galway; Galway East; Tipperary; and Kildare South, it is clear that the new election system is seen as a mixed blessing by the grassroots.
Everyone accepts that an election involving party members is a good idea, but there has been blowback too at the prospect that everything will be sealed up for Varadkar before they even get to attend a hustings, never mind vote.

And yet where is the surprise? No one likes being electoral fodder. And there has been something unseemly about the manner in which Varadkar positioned his big guns on his rival’s territory quite so early in the contest.

If he is elected Varadkar will have to negotiate strong currents in places afterwards as there is a strong possibility the three electoral colleges will diverge – with councillors and the rank-and-file siding with Coveney and a majority of TDs and Senators favouring Varadkar.
In some places it is clear that a significant gulf has emerged between the three elements.

But I think it goes a bit further, I think the shock and awe demonstrates a problem which isn’t confined to FG. It is the idea that elected reps are where the action is, that that is the most important element in all this and that members and others are in a sense purely a backdrop against which political activity is played out.

It’s a very specific and media driven view of political activity – top-down, elitist, disinterested in broader constituencies and one where the only thing that matters can sometimes seem to be the TV studio or the Dáil chamber.

I was talking recently to a person who had some insight into FG members thinking in Dublin. Their perception was that Varadkar would see them have a sharp uptick in the polls (early to mid-30s absolutely necessary, and not just in one poll) and their hope was that he would proceed to a snap election thereby getting 60+ seats and paving the way for a coalition with the LP and the GP as well as a smaller more malleable crew of Independents. Perhaps that will work. Though if Adrian Kavanagh is to be believed the LP might come back with between 1 and 3 TDs. And the GP? Well I wish them well but if they had 2 that would be some achievement. In any event that would only bring FG up to 70 odd and one has to presume that FG would have eaten into the Independents numbers leaving… well who? Who is likely to fare worst at the next election from that particular tranche of reps?

Start asking these questions and suddenly the future projection don’t look so rosy, indeed they look extremely contingent.

And then there’s the citizenry of this Republic who to judge from yesterday’s poll are not convinced by Stephen Collins description of L. V. [“a superb media performer who speaks the kind of language the public understands”].

Asked their preferred choice for leader of Fine Gael, 42 per cent said Mr Coveney, while 37 per cent opted for Mr Varadkar. Over a fifth of voters (21 per cent) said they didn’t know.

Now there could very well be a further bounce in the polls – plural, that’s key – from Varadkar assuming the leadership. But. Perhaps there won’t be. Perhaps his reputation precedes him and all the smiley friendly stuff isn’t quite going the distance to softening his image.

And maybe that shock and awe of the contest so far has been taken note of.

This Week At Irish Election Literature May 26, 2017

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From Leo Varadkar “Taking Ireland Forward- Policy Ideas Paper” and “Taking Fine Gael Forward- How to Energise Fine Gael””

From Simon Coveney “Positive Strong Leadership”

The Summer 2017 edition of “The Fenian” from Sinn Fein Dublin South West

And on Facebook I’ve been putting up a number of SF, FG and FF Videos from 2002 -2007 which might be of interest. (there are more to come.)

A 5 Point Lead…. May 26, 2017

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Thanks to Dermot O’Connor for the news ...

Kantar
CON 42%(-5)
LAB 34%(+5)
LDEM 9%(+1)
UKIP 4%(-2)

This one AFTER the bombs!

YouGov
CON 43%(-1),
LAB 38%(+3),
LDEM 10%(+1),
UKIP 4%(+1) – a Tory lead of just five points.

UK Polling Reports Take

With Corbyn due to make a speech on The Manchester Bombing and it’s connection with UK foreign policy, it will be interesting to see if the gap widens again as surely the Press will be going hell for leather even more to get at him.

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