I read voraciously, adore playing Bridge, love listening to Radio 4, enjoy music from modern to classical, and keep a range of small animals as pets.
KS Learning provides tuition for all ages inluding GCSE and A Level for a wide range of subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English, History, French, German, Spanish, and more, in the Boroughs of Richmond-Upon-Thames, Hounslow, Kingston-Upon-Thames, and surrounding areas.
KS Learning provides tuition for all ages inluding GCSE and A Level for a wide range of subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English, History, French, German, Spanish, and more, in the Boroughs of Richmond-Upon-Thames, Hounslow, Kingston-Upon-Thames, and surrounding areas.
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I write about things that interest or intrigue me. There is no theme or agenda just my thoughts and observations. I write for the simple pleasure of writing. If my writing brings pleasure to others, that is a bonus.
According to UNICEF, there are nearly 153 million orphans worldwide. That is just under half the population of the US, about double the population of the UK, and almost ten times the population of the Netherlands. What is worse is that the figure is growing with an estimated 5,700 more children becoming orphans every day which is nearly double the number of deaths in the 9/11 tragedy. The figures are staggering.
Only a small proportion of orphans and children in care ever find permanent families, and the older the children are, the harder it is for them to find a home, in fact when they become teenagers, very small numbers are adopted. In poor countries, it is understandble that people would not want to take children in but in rich, western countries it should be possible to find more if not all orphans, families. In addition, I think that this should be a priority for governments, after all, a compassionate society, values and protects its children.
In the first instance, I suspect that most people are not aware of the scale of the problem and have thus never given the matter any thought. It is even possible that some people have thought about it and are worried that these children may come with challenges because of their troubled histories. This is not an unreasonable concern but it should not be allowed to be a barrier, and those that have adopted teenagers, have demonstrated that it is possible to build successful, happy families which include adopted children.
I am not an expert but from the research that I have done, children with at least one parent do better in life. They fare better at school, in building relationships, and in living within the law, in general, they lead more productive, happier lives. I would love to see a cost benefit analysis of children adopted versus those left to grow up in care. I would bet that the cost to society of investing in orphans to find them homes and ensure they succeed within their new families would be far less than the costs associated with the negative consequences of not doing so from mental health to crime, on both an individual and on a societal level.
I am not saying that all children which grow up in care or institutions will end up with mental health problems or become criminals, in fact, I have every confidence that many, probably most will not do so, despite the challenges of not having a family. What I am saying though is that that there is a cost both to the child and their society of growing up without a family in complex and intricate ways from long-term levels of happiness to social participation, and that the investment needed to find families, would be less than the cost of not doing so. I would go even further and propose that even if it is more expensive to find families for children than deal with the longterm negative fall out of children growing up with a family, the compassionate and moral thing to do is to find children homes, in essence, the happiness of the children should be placed first and money should not be a barrier even, if it turns out to be very expensive to place children in homes. It seems to me that a civilised and compassionate society would not place a price on the happiness and well-being of a child. No child asks to be born and certainly no child asks to be orphaned or put into care, in fact, we know that many children would rather stay with abusive and disfuntional families, than go into care. Given the pain of not having a family, it is in my view right that a society that cares about children will do everything in its power to ensure that every child has a place to call home and people to call family.
We are better human beings when we show compassion and understanding for the plight of other people especially children. Allowing children to grow up without at least one parent to love and cherish them, feels unjust and cruel. The compassionate thing to do to find families for children, families that will embrace them as their own, forever.
There is very little if any work being done to enable and encourage adoption. There are some courageous and special people who nonetheless adopt, especially teenagers, and they deserve support and respect. A small number of these people like the Crazy Pieces share their lives on social media. I realise that they do not share everything, and frankly, I don't think that it is reasonable to expect them to do so, as like the rest of us, they have every right to a private life, and it misses the point - they are providing children with homes, while others stand by and do nothing.
I think people willing to adopt, especially teenagers, deserve respect and support and I don't think they get enough of either.
Dating Amber is a sweet, thought-provoking film which while an enjoyable watch, is a stark reminder that it is still difficult for young LGBTQ people to come out publically. There are certainly some who come out confidently and are accepted by friends and family, but this does not appear to be the case for most gay youth, many of whom experience rejection, fear and distress.
Christianity has had a lasting influence on western civilisation, and while there are modern christians who accept LGBTQ youth, the legacy of christianity is a society which has judged same sex relationships as unnatural, abnormal and sinful, so much so that laws were enacted to imprison people for same sex relationships along with denying homosexual people equality and basic human rights. To this day, there are western countries which allow discrimination against gay people. For example, in many states in the US, it is still legal to fire someone for simply being gay, and popular fundamentalist preachers consistently blame gay people for natural disasters as 'god's anger'.
Even people who are in no way prejudiced, will assume teenagers are straight unless told otherwise. Heterosexual is the default and ask a teen boy "do you have a girl friend" is regarded by most as friendly small talk, ignoring the fact that for a young man who is not out, it could be frightening and hurtful. At school, the term 'gay' is used to convey anything unpleasant or awful, and teenagers are regularly bullied for being different.
While there is no doubt that being LGBTQ in first world countries, is more accepted with extensive protections and established rights, the stories and the suicide rates of LGBTQ youth, present considerable cause for concern. That there are young people being rejected by their families for being gay and young people choosing death rather than a life as gay, means that there is still a lot of work to be done to create a world free from bigotry.
The million-dollar question is how do we build a society where LGBTQ youth do not have to fear people knowing who they are attracted to, a world where LGBTQ children do not have to fear condemnation or rejection, a world that does not presume or judge but provides young people the freedom to express themselves safely, a world where people can just be who they are without feeling that there is anything wrong with them.
I look foward to such a world.
Poets who can be both humorous and insightful at the same time are rare. The American poet Ogden Nash (1902-71) was one such rarety, able to make the reader smile with what seems like trivial ideas and novel rhymes, but whose words on closer examination reveal profound thoughts.
Some poems like The Fly, were written for a younger audience, and consider the nature of things and their place in the natural world, while others such as A Word to Husbands, contemplate serious, sensitive subjects such as the role of honesty and communication in a marriage.
The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk.
Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.
God in his wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why.
Tell me, O Octopus, I begs,
Is those things arms, or is they legs?
I marvel at thee, Octopus
If I were thou, I'd call me Us.
The pig, if I am not mistaken,
Supplies us sausage, ham and bacon,
Let others say his heart is big--
I call it stupid of the pig.
Consider the auk;
Becoming extinct because he forgot how to fly, and could only walk.
Consider man, who may well become extinct
Because he forgot how to walk and learned how to fly before he thinked.
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong, admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up.
And middle age ends
The day your descendents
Outnumber your friends.
I remember walking alone on a beach on a family camping holiday when I was 15 years old as clearly as if I were standing on the beach now. I can still smell the saltiness of the sea, hear the sand crunch underfoot, and feel the spray from the waves breaking on the rocks. It was nearly 45 years ago but the details of the family holiday are vivid and clear from the evenings playing cards in the tent until the gas lamp burned out and we were plunged into darkness to time spent on the beach either on my own enjoying the sights and sounds or splashing in the sea with my family. Life seemed full of promise with an endless number of years ahead. I had no thoughts of death, mine or that of any member of my family.
My father died on 26 November 2020. He was 89 years old and not in the best of health, but it still came as a big shock. and it hit me harder than I expected. If you had asked me before he died, I would have surmised that I would face his death with some emotion but rationally. That is not what happened.
I have cried every day since he died sometimes deep sobs and sometimes silent tears. Somedays I have cried multiple times and sometimes just once. At times, my tears were triggered by a memory and at times they arose spontaneously, seemingly for no apparent reason. I have contemplated my response looking for explanation but the truth is I do not understand it. I do not know whether the unexpected loss, the finality of death, or just the fact that we will never speak again has caused so strong a response. What I do know is that it hurts more and goes deeper than I expected.
At 89 years old, he lived a long life, much longer than many people from his generation, but even though I know this intellectually, it still feels too soon. I suspect that had he lived another 10 years, my feelings would be no different when he died. It seems to me that loss hurts no matter how old the person.
In addition, my father's death has taught me that grief is more expansive than I thought. It is a varied mixture of feelings with elements waining, swelling, and combining. Grief includes hurt, anger, sadness, pain, regret, numbness, missing, confusion, reflection, introspection, denial, longing, disbelief, wishing, hurt, anguish, angst, vexation, woe, despondency, and more. Grief is not just sadness - it is far more.
Even though is just over a week now that he died, slowly grief is making room for memories, happy memories, nostaligic memories, funny memories, even mundane memories, all of which are moments to savour and relive. Memories live forever and are a legacy of a life lived. Memories are a gift to the living.
I am sure that I am not done with tears, but with time, I believe that the memories will assuage the grief. The memories are his legacy, a library in my mind that I can peruse and appreciate at my leisure.
While in one respect, I have had to say farewell, in another I know that he will "not go gentle into that good night" as the memories will "rage, rage against the dying of the light".
I have never liked Westerns so was really surprised to find myself gripped by the American series Justified which is part Western and part crime drama.
I particularly liked the characters because they were a complex mixture of good and bad. Unlike the traditional goodies and badies of Westerns, it was possible to like and dislike each at different times, and I grew fond of the central criminal Boyd who despite his heinous crimes demonstrated love, loyalty, understanding, and integrity at points. I found it impossible to hate him and even found myself feeling sorry for him at times. I found myself feeling the same for the maverick hero US Marshall Raylan with his troubled personal relationships and obsession with doing what he believed to be wrong no matter what rules he broke to get there. What I thought was particularly clever, was the relationship between the two which at times was friendship as each showed consideration for the other. There were characters that were predictable and simplistic but they felt more like props than people the audience was supposed to engage with.
The plot kept me interested moving quickly from issue to event and linking them with the real trials faced by poor communities in forgotten areas of states like Kentucky. There is an admirable determination to survive in places where life offers few legal choices and people break the law to survive. The series does not justify violence and breaking the law but it does portray both in a way that makes it possible for the viewer to understand how people could find themselves in places where both look like good choices.
I do not think that the series is meant to be a deep investigation of the rights and wrongs of crime or the social issues that drive people to them, but it deals with them in an intelligent and sympathetic manner through imperfect characters, all the time maintaining engaging plot lines. Watch a few episodes and judge for yourself. I suspect you might like the series.
I don't have a farm, in fact, I live in a London suburb in a typical semi-detached house. What I do have is a lot of pets that my children chose to refer to as 'The Farm' growing up. My house number is 64, and le voila, we have The Farm at 64.
I recently started a YouTube channel for The Farm at 64 to raise money for the charity Porridge and Rice. The aim is to monetise the channel and use the income for the work of the charity. Hopefully, the day is not far off. Please considering watching and subscribing.
I suspect that most people know that Einstein was a scientist, many could recognise his picture, and some may even know that his general theory of relativity brought him fame as a scientist, but I would conjecture that few people know that he was an ardent peace and civil rights activisit for his whole life.
At the age of 16, long before anyone knew his name, Einstein renounced his citizenship because of German militarism and aggression, preferring to be stateless. This was not a one-off, but the beginning of a life fighting for social justice using his fame to gain access to influential people and important platforms to promote peace and civil rights. At times, he put his own life at risk, and he never allowed potential consequences to his reputation to stop him advocating loudly for social justice despite many friends urging him to do so. He was a man of principle, determined, outspoken and courageous.
As soon as he had the limelight, Einstein began speaking out. In interviews, he advocated for an end to militarism and mandatory military service in Germany. His identity politics aroused the ire of many people in Germany, including those who were motivated by nationalism and anti-Semitism. Nobel Prize-winner Philipp Lenard, who eventually became a Nazi, fought hard behind the scenes to make sure Einstein wouldn't win a Nobel himself. Ultimately the Nobel committee decided not to award any physics prize in 1921, partly under anti-Semitic pressures from Lenard and others. (They honored Einstein the following year, giving him the delayed 1921 prize alongside his friend Niels Bohr, who got the 1922 prize.)
In 1929, a German publisher distributed a book titled One Hundred Authors Against Einstein. Although it was primarily a compilation of essays seeking to disprove the theory of relativity, the book also included some openly anti-Semitic pieces.
But it wasn’t just anti-Semitic scientists who criticized Einstein. Fellow scientists, including Einstein’s friends, expressed disapproval of his love of the limelight. "I urge you as strongly as I can not to throw one more word on this subject to that voracious beast, the public," wrote Paul Ehrenfest, Einstein's close friend and fellow physicist, in 1920. Max and Hedwig Born, two other friends, were even more adamant, urging him to stay out of the public eye: "In these matters you are a little child. We all love you, and you must obey judicious people," Max wrote to him the same year.
As a target of anti-Semitism, Einstein was well aware of the impact of discrimination. Speaking out against the Nazis, Einstein was forced to flee for his life, first to Belgium, then the UK, and finally the US where he spent the rest of his life. When Einstein settled in the US, it was strictly segregated, with separate schools and movie theatres for blacks and whites. In addition, Princeton University where he worked, wouldn't admit black students.
"Being a Jew myself, perhaps I can understand and empathize with how black people feel as victims of discrimination," he said in an interview with family friend Peter Bucky. While his political opinions made him a controversial figure, they also got traction, because his words resonated more than most.
Einstein's first aggressive criticism of American racism came in 1931, before Hitler's rise to power. That year, he joined writer Theodore Dreiser's committee to protest the injustice of the "Scottsboro Boys" trial.
In the trial, now one of the most iconic instances of a miscarriage of justice in America, nine African-American teenagers were falsely accused of raping a white woman. Eight were convicted and sentenced to death without evidence or adequate legal defense, and under pressure from armed white mobs. The case was then successfully appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, an effort led by both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Communist Party. As a result, many white Americans took the wrong side of the case not only out of racism, but out of anti-Communist sentiment.
Robert Millikan, American physicist and Nobel Prize-winner, criticized Einstein for associating himself with left-wing elements in the Scottsboro case, calling his politics “naïve.” (Their disagreement didn't stop Millikan from trying to recruit Einstein for Caltech.) Other Americans were less polite: Henry Ford of car manufacturing fame republished libelous essays from Germany against Einstein.
Shortly before moving to America, Einstein backed a campaign to defend the Scottsboro Boys, nine Alabama teenagers who were falsely accused of rape in 1931.
When Princeton's Nassau Inn refused to rent a room to contralto opera star Marian Anderson because of her skin color, Einstein invited the singer home as his guest. Their friendship lasted from 1937 until his death in 1955, and Anderson stayed with the Einsteins whenever she visited Princeton.
In 1946, Einstein gave a rare speech at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, a historically black university, where he also accepted an honorary degree. The appearance was significant because Einstein made a habit of turning down all requests to speak at universities. During his speech, he called racism "a disease of white people."
Einstein was a friend and supporter of African-American actor and singer Paul Robeson, who was blacklisted because of his civil rights work. The pair worked together in 1946 on an anti-lynching petition campaign. In 1952, when Robeson's career had bottomed out because of the blacklisting, Einstein invited Robeson to Princeton as a rebuke to the performer's public castigation.
Also in 1931, Einstein accepted an invitation from the great African-American sociologist and NAACP co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois to submit a piece to his magazine The Crisis. Einstein took the opportunity to applaud civil rights efforts, but also to encourage African-Americans not to let racists drag down their self-worth. "This ... more important aspect of the evil can be met through closer union and conscious educational enlightenment among the minority,” he wrote, “and so emancipation of the soul of the minority can be attained."
For decades, Einstein offered public encouragement to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its founder, W. E. B. Du Bois. And in 1951, when the federal government indicted the 83-year-old Du Bois as a "foreign agent," Einstein offered to appear as a character witness during the trial. The potential publicity convinced the judge to drop the case.
In January 1946, Einstein published an essay, "The Negro Question," in Pageant magazine in which he called racism America's "worst disease." Here is an excerpt from that essay.
"There is, however, a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of the "Whites" toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out… Your ancestors dragged these black people from their homes by force; and in the white man's quest for wealth and an easy life they have been ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery. The modern prejudice against Negroes is the result of the desire to maintain this unworthy condition."
Yet whatever problems America had with inequality and racism at this time, Europe had problems of its own. In 1933, a well-timed job offer in the states led Einstein to become a citizen of the nation he loved enough to criticize.
Einstein and his wife Elsa left Germany in December 1932. Armed with 30 pieces of luggage, the pair were ostensibly taking a three-month trip to America. But they knew what was coming: In January 1933, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party took full control of the German government.
While the Einsteins were in California, the Nazi government passed a law banning Jews from teaching in universities. "It is not science that must be restricted, but rather the scientific investigators and teachers,” wrote one Nazi official. Only “men who have pledged their entire personality to the nation, to the racial conception of the world ... will teach and carry on research at the German universities.”
In their absence, the police raided the Einsteins' apartment and their vacation cottage under the pretense of looking for weapons. When they found nothing, they confiscated the property and put a $5,000 bounty on the physicist’s head, distributing his picture with the caption "not yet hanged." By the spring of 1933, the most famous scientist in the world had become a refugee.
Einstein was a more fortunate refugee than most. By that time he was already a Nobel Prize winner and media celebrity, recognizable around the world. That fame made him a high-profile enemy for the new Nazi government in Germany, but it also guaranteed him safe places to go. Ultimately he ended up in America at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where he would spend the rest of his life.
Einstein saw racism as a fundamental stumbling block to freedom. In both his science and his politics, Einstein believed in the need for individual liberty: the ability to follow ideas and life paths without fear of oppression. And he knew from his experiences as a Jewish scientist in Germany how easily that freedom could be destroyed in the name of nationalism and patriotism. In a 1946 commencement speech at Lincoln University, the oldest black college in the U.S., Einstein decried American racism in no uncertain terms.
“There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States,” said the renowned physicist, using the common term in the day. “That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.”
After settling down in America, Einstein continued to publicly denounce American racism. In a 1946 address to the National Urban League Convention, he even invoked the Founding Fathers in his critique. "It must be pointed out time and again that the exclusion of a large part of the colored population from active civil rights by the common practices is a slap in the face of the Constitution of the nation," he said in the address.
The irony of ending in Princeton, one of the most racially segregated towns in the northern U.S., was not lost on Einstein. While no town was free of racism, Princeton had segregated schools and churches, generally following the Jim Crow model in practice if not by law. The University didn't admit any black students until 1942, and turned a blind eye when its students' terrorized black neighborhoods in town, tearing porches off houses to fuel the annual bonfire.
Einstein loved to walk when he was thinking, and frequently wandered through Princeton's black neighborhoods, where he met many of the residents. He was known for handing out candy to children—most of whom were unaware he was world-famous—and sitting on front porches to talk with their parents and grandparents, little-known facts reported in the book Einstein on Race and Racism by Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor.
Black Princeton also gave him an entrance into the civil rights movement. He joined the NAACP and the American Crusade Against Lynching (ACAL), an organization founded by actor-singer-activist Paul Robeson. At Robeson's invitation, Einstein served as co-chair of ACAL, a position he used to lobby President Harry S. Truman.
He made friends with Robeson, who had grown up in Princeton, and found common cause with him on a wide variety of issues. As Jerome and Taylor note, "almost every civil rights group Einstein endorsed after 1946 ... had Robeson in the leadership." In particular, Einstein joined Robeson and other civil rights leaders in calling for national anti-lynching legislation.
For his anti-racist activism, he was placed under FBI surveillance by J. Edgar Hoover. While Hoover's FBI refused to investigate the Ku Klux Klan and other white terrorist organizations, there wasn't a civil rights group or leader they didn't target. By the time of his death, the FBI had amassed 1,427 pages of documents on Einstein, without ever demonstrating criminal wrongdoing on his part.
But to a large degree, his celebrity protected him against enemies like Hoover and more garden-variety American anti-Semites. Hoover knew better than to publicly target Einstein. Einstein used his profile and privilege, volunteering to serve as character witness in a trumped-up trial of W.E.B. Du Bois. His influence had the desired effect: When the judge heard Einstein would be involved, he dismissed the case.
Einstein’s fame afforded him a larger platform than most, and protection from the threats that faced black civil rights leaders. What is remarkable is that, throughout his career, he continued to throw his full weight behind what he saw as a larger moral imperative. "[W]e have this further duty," he said to an audience in the Royal Albert Hall in England in 1933, "the care for what is eternal and highest amongst our possessions, that which gives to life its import and which we wish to hand on to our children purer and richer than we received it from our forebears."
Ukraine is not only one of the two poorest countries in Europe, the other being Moldova, but a very poor country in global terms.
A Global Wealth Report by Credit Suisse placed Ukraine at 123 out of 140 countries in terms of its citizen's median personal wealth. The same study shows that the median personal wealth equivalent of Ukrainians is $1,563 per adult resident, the same as nearby Belarus but less than Bangladesh ($2,322), Kenya ($2,306) and Nepal ($2,054). Just behind Ukraine in terms of the wealth of their people are Zambia ($1,197) and Mali ($1,094). This is compared to Australia ($191,450) which is slightly ahead of Switzerland ($183,340) and can claim the title of having the world's wealthiest citizens.
As part of the USSR, Ukraine had the second-largest economy in the Soviet Union but its transition to a market economy has been beset by numerous issues resulting in a country where a very small number of people have are obscenely rich while the vast majority of the population are desperately poor. Ukraine has the basis for a strong European economy with rich farmlands, a well-developed industrial base, highly trained labour, and a good education-system but issues such as government corruption and Russian aggression have prevented it from developing one. Unfortunately, there appears to be no end in sight to the factors that are causing the dire poverty in the Ukraine.
While adults suffer as a result of widespread poverty, children suffer considerably more as the adults and social services that are meant to care for them cannot provide them with the support and nuture that they need. What often makes it worse, is that adults in dire poverty frequently seek harmful ways to ameliorate their distress and pain like alcohol and drugs, making them even less able to nuture their children and exposing these children to dangerous and harmful experiences. Children that do not receive the care, love, and nuturing they need frequently grow up into dysfunctional adults, emotionally and mentally scarred, that lead unproductive and destructive lives.
There are around 100 000 children in orphanages in Ukraine, in fact, based on official data, an estimated 250 children enter the orphanage system daily, with many more children living on the streets or in inadequate situations with adults unable to provide or care for these children. In addition, within two years of leaving the orphanage, 80% of orphan graduates in Ukraine are involved in drugs, crime, prostitution, in jail, or commit suicide. It is a tragedy taking place in Europe, one of the richest most-privileged parts of the world. Lives that could be productive and happy, are destroyed daily.
In Ukraine, orphanges are not only for children whose parents are dead, but also children whose parents are unable to provide for their children for reasons such as drug or alcohol prediction, abuse, dire poverty, and incarceration. Orphans with living parents are referred to as social orphans. Regardless of whether they have parents or not, children in orphanages have deep emotional and social scars from abandonment or abuse.
Orphanges in Ukraine are usually boarding schools with the children living and going to school in the same building with the same people every day. They do not get the chance to socialise with children and people who are not in orphans. While living in a boarding school is arguability better than being on the streets or living with parents unable to care for their children, growing up in an institution is not ideal as it does not provide many opportunities for children to develop the social and interpersonal skills needed to function effectively in society.
It is rare for children in Ukrainian orphanages to have the opportunity to complete their schooling as a lack of funds means that they are forced to "graduate" from their orphanages at the end of grade 9, around the age of 15-16, unable to complete the last 2 years of school. They are simply forced to leave the orphanage because there is not enough state funding to keep them through grades 10 and 11.
Making a bad situation worse, children that have grown up in an orphanage, are regarded with suspicion by the rest of society. The are perceived as untrustworthy and deliquent so landlords are reluctant to rent to them and employers are hesitant to hire them. They are severely disadvantaged by social attitudes by a society which regards them as untrustworthy and deliquent.
In essence, a lack of funds means that orphanages are unable to prepare children for independent life and when they are forced to leave the orphanages, society will not accept them sometimes treating them with outright hostility. with suspicion and sometimes outright hositility.
Children from orphanages are usually left with no good choices when they complete year 9. The most common options are to return to living with addicated, poverty-stricken, or dysfunctional family members, asking for a place to sleep with equally disadvantaged friends, or moving onto the streets to live in places like drains, benches or in the doorways. Even the few children from orphanges that find places in trade schools, struggle without a permanent home or the funds to buy necessities like food and clothing.
It is thus no surprise that a staggering number of orphan graduates fall into crime, prostitution or alcoholism after they leave the orphanage. Figures show that at least 60 to 70% of Ukrainian orphan graduates become involved in prostitution or organized crime, 20% end up in prison within 2 years, and 10% commit or attempt suicide. Others embrace alcoholism and produce a new generation for the orphanage. Less than one percent make it to a university or higher education. Tragically, the orphanges are failing to prepare children adequately for a successful, independent, adult life, and a lack of funds means that thousands of Ukrainian boys and girls are destined to live difficult, damaged lives.
In 2010, researchers at San Francisco State University discovered a new species of mushroom under a tree in the Lambir Hills in the humid forests of Sarawak on Borneo. According to the researchers, the newly discovered orange fungus was a dead ringer for the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, so it was formally described and name spongiforma squarepantsii in 2011.
Dr Desjardin mentioned that the editors of Mycologia initially rejected the cartoon name as "too frivolous." "But we insisted that although the science might be their business, we could name it whatever we liked," said Dr Desjardin. "We need a little frivolity in this stodgy old science we love."
The Spongebob Squarepants mushroom is bright orange and smells "vaguely fruity or strongly musty," according to Desjardin and colleagues in the journal Mycologia. "It's just like a sponge with these big hollow holes," said Dennis Desjardin, a professor of ecology and evolution at the San Francisco State University. "When it's wet and moist and fresh, you can wring water out of it and it will spring back to its original size. Most mushrooms don't do that."
The Spongebob Squarepants mushroom is always found beneath tall dipterocarp trees in the Lambir Hills National Park in Borneo. This National Park is a tropical rainforest that receives around 3,000 millimetres of rain every year, and has no seasons. The daily temperature ranges from 24 to 32 ° Celsius.
Researchers estimate that there are somewhere between 1.5 and 3 million fungal species in the world, but only five percent have been formally described. In addition, the new mushroom is only one of two species in the genus Spongiforma. The other one is found in central Thailand, but differs in both colour and odour.
The researchers said that Spongiforma's ancestors had the characteristic cap and stem of other mushrooms, but that these features had been lost over time.
The main value of opening 1NT opening with a balanced 12-14 HCP is the pre-emptive nature of the bid. As with all pre-emptive bids, there is a risk that partner holds little or nothing, but the hope is that removing all the 1 level bidding space from the opposition makes any penalities incurred worthwhile. It is because it removes 1 level bids that 1 NT is difficult to defend against and various conventions like Landy, multi-Landy, and Asptro have developed to communicate information efficiently without bidding too high.
The most basic defences against to a weak NT opening are
The points required for any of these bids can be reduced by 3 HCP by the player sitting in the fourth seat (the protective position) if both partner and the RHO have passed the opening bid.
Double over 1NT is for penalities. Over the double
If game in 3NT or partner's suit is unlikely then pass. The only exception is if you have a singleton or void in partner's suit, then bid your best suit at the appropriate level.
Landy recognises the importance of majors and is a bid of 2♣ over 1NT.
If using HCP, Landy promises
The fine-tuning argument is a popular argument that apologists present as evidence for a god which asserts that the universe with its laws and initial conditions, only permits life because these very laws and conditions are set up precisely and exactly to support life, and that small changes in them would make life impossible. The proposed conclusion is that this seemingly exquisite fine-tuning of the universe could not happen by chance and is thus evidence for a creator which theists then assert is a god.
This argument is a variation on the argument from design that uses cosmology rather than biology, with different versions adding the argument from incredulity, god of the gaps, and frequently, an attempt to shift the burden of proof.
The universe is largely hostile to life with vast swathes in which life-as-we-know-it cannot survive, places where gravitational forces would crush known living organisms and places where temperatures are too extreme for the formation of stable chemical bonds. With most of the observable universe uninhabitable to life, if the universe were designed for life, it is a shockingly inefficient design so much so that as Stephen Hawkings stated, if the universe were designed for anything, it was for the creation of black holes rather than life-as-we-know-it.
The universe is larger than necessary. Considering the diameter of the earth, the milky way, and the observable universe -
The earth's diameter is 0.000 000 000 000 013 5 % of the diameter of the milky way with 99.999 999 999 999 986 5 % not for life-as-we-know-it.
The earth's diameter is 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 014 5 % of the diameter of the observable universe so 99.999 999 999 999 999 999 987 5% of the observable universe is not for life-as-we-know-it.
The earth is WAY BEYOND MINISCULE compared to the Milky Way and the observable universe. If the purpose of the observable universe is to provide a place for humans to live, it is an understatement to say that it is a ridiculously wasteful design, in fact, the earth is such a small fraction of the observable universe, that frankly it is more reasonable to assume humans are entirely irrelevant to it, or that the universe was created for something like the existence of black holes and galaxies. Not even the whole of the solar system would have be necessary to support humans beings let alone the rest of the observable universe - the universe is ridiculously larger than necessary.
The proposition is that even minute variations in the values of the constants of the universe would result in a radically different universe unsuitable for life - this assumes that life-as-we-know-it is the only type of life. It may well be that an alternative universe may not support life-as-we-know-it, but this does not mean that an alternative universe would not support a different form of life to life-as-we-know-it. Humans simply do not have the knowledge to be able to test what forms of life may or may not be possible in universes different to the known universe. The fine-tuning arguments requires its proponent to show that no other forms of life are possible, something for which there is absolutely no evidence.
Even on the earth as we know it, scientists have had to be revise their understanding of the conditions under which life can survive more than once as more and more extremophiles have been discovered - bacteria have been found living in ice and living in near-boiling water around 80 °C, fish have been found living near the bottom of the deepest seas at pressures that would crush humans, and snails have been found living in saturated solutions of salt. Extremophiles are so named because of the extreme conditions the live in, conditions that many biologists once thought could not support life.
Humans only know of one universe that exists under one set of conditions which cannot be altered to test what would happen under different conditions. It simply cannot be said that no other universes could exist with conditions that would support one or more forms of life. With current knowledge, all that can be said is that life specifically as it is known on the earth has evolved to live in the one observable universe under the conditions of the one world that contains humans.
The notion that the universe with its parameters came about either by chance or through the actions of an intelligent designer is a false dichotomy resulting from a common error made by apologists, namely confusing natural processess with random processes. There are more than two possible options - two other possibilities are that some unknown natural process or processes caused the universe to be as it is, or that the universe could not be other than it is. If the properties of the universe were determined by natural processes, it is inappropriate to apply probability because chance does not enter into it. A common error made by apologists is to confuse natural processes with random processes, and then appeal to incredulity misrepreseting it as probability. Natural processes are not random. Natural processes proceed by necessity.
The fine-tuning claim pretends to be able to evaluate the probability of the observable universe existing as opposed to some other universe. Humans would need a comprehensive list of parameters with all their possible values as well as relationships between them to evaluate which universes may be possible and the properties of each. At present, this knowledge does not exist, in particular, relationships between identified parameters may yet emerge that the fine-tuning argument assumes to be independent. For example, one cannot claim that the gravitational constant and the speed of expansion of the universe are individually tuned, since they are clearly related. The electromagnetic force is mediated by massless photons which travel at the speed of light, so therefore the strength of this force is likely related to the speed of light. Similar relationships may yet emerge between other constants. In order for the probability argument to be valid, the fundamental constants under consideration have to be independent.
For the reasons explained, it is simply not possible to even begin to evaluate probabilities as probability involves a mathematical calculation based on the number of possible outcomes, known relationships, and specific variables. The likelihood claim is no more than trying to dress up an appeal to incredulity in mathematical clothing. We do not have the knowledge to evaluate the probability of any of the many options proposed including as Matt Dillahunty likes to put it "universe creating pixies".
Humans know only one universe and have no way of knowing how many other universes might be possible. To avoid an argument from ignorance, one must be able to list and rule out all other possible universes - the failure to do so in an argument from ignorance.
Stephen Hawking summed up the problem when he said that "... the 'fine tuning' of the universe's physical constants ... would be a great proof if it wasn't exactly the same thing we'd see if a god didn't exist."
Apologists liken the fine-tuning argument to surviving a firing squad execution when all the shooters "missed". They argue that it is more likely that the firing squad never intended to kill rather than they all have poor aim. The analogy fails for two reasons. Firstly, humans understand and can test the hitting and missing of targets so can calculate the probabilities of all members of a firing squad missing - by contrast humans have no knowledge of universe creation or more than one universe so cannot assess the probability of a natural basis for the existence of the universe versus a supernatural one. In this respect, all that can be said is that, there is vast amounts of evidence for the existence of natural processes and absolutely zero evidence for the supernatural existing, let alone acting as a cause. Secondly, even if the probability of the firing squad missing by accident is incredibly small IT IS NOT ZERO which makes it a real possibility. The probability of a person winning the lottery is incredibly small, yet it happens regularly without fail. It is fallacious to equate a small probability with the notion that something would or did not happen.
The fine-tuning argument says nothing about who or what set up the laws and parameters of the known universe, or that his entity (or entities) is even supernatural. The argument supports no particular religion or theology. There is simply no reason to assume that some god or gods created the universe it versus a giant invisible all-powerful penguin with magic powers. The leap to 'it must be a god or gods', let alone 'my particular god' is irrational. The fine tuning argument therefore has a weak conclusion.
The fine tuning says very little about the attributes of the intelligent designer for which it argues. It is not necessary for the creator to be loving, in fact, it could be totally uninterested in humans, even dislike them. It is not necessary for the creator to be eternal - it may may have expired as a result of the creation or could have expired at some point in tiome of some cause unknown to us. Similarly, there is no reason for the creator to be omniscient or omnipotent - it may just be powerful enough to create a universe and not much else. Using the conclusion "the intelligent designer exists" to support the premise "an intelligent designer is omnipotent, all loving, etc" is affirming the consequent, a formal fallacy. Poor explanation God supposedly is an explanation for fine tuning. However, God is a bigger mystery than the one we seek to explain. A reasonable explanation would depend on known entities, rather than using one mystery to explain another.
Douglas Adams coined the term 'puddle theory' to satirize the fine-tuning argument. In the words of Adams in his book The Salmon of Doubt "Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact, it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!'" The point Adams is making is that the universe was not setup to enable life to survive, but that life has formed to fit the universe that exists.
The conventions described are for the Acol system of Bridge. They are not authorative but based simply of what I understand and play - other players may have their own version of the listed conventions.
1. Roman Key Card Blackwood
Roman Key Card Blackwood (RKCB) is a refinement of standard Blackwood, making it possible to ask about aces and the king of trumps with a single bid. It also enables the presence of the trump queen to be investigated. In standard Blackwood, the holding of the King cannot be determined until the 6 level and the holding of the Queen, cannot ever be determined. RKCB is a useful tool when exploring the possibility of bidding a slam.
In RKCB, the 4 Aces AND the King of Trumps are referred to as the "five Aces". The trump suit must be agreed before using Roman Key Card Blackwood, a bid of 4NT.
Examples of RKCB are:
To progress to a slam, a partnership should hold at least 4 out of the 5 key-cards (unless there are useful voids). Even then, a slam should be avoided if it can be determined that the partnership is missing one keycard and the trump queen.
1.1 Responses to 4NT
There are two systems in RKCB known as 0314 and 1403. Most players prefer 1403 because it appears to keep the bidding lower. Playing the preferred 1403, the responses to 4NT RKCB are -
Playing the less popular 0314, the responses to 4NT RKCB are -
It is most likely that RKCB is used when a strong hand interested in slam is asking a weaker hand about key cards. To keep bidding as low as possible it is thus better for 5♣ to signal 1 king as 3 is highly unlikely. This way, 5♦ to used to ask for the queen of trumps. This lower step is especially important when hearts is the agreed suit. Now the queen-ask can be made beneath the five level of the agreed suit.
In both systems, the answers may be ambiguous but previous bidding or the 4NT bidder's holding itself, usually makes the most probable alternative clear.
If responder holds a void, RKCB can be extended to show the void along with the number of key cards. The reponses to 4NT are
1.2 Asking for Kings 5NT
Bidding 5NT asks partner for kings and is used to explore the possibility of a grand slam. It should only be used if the partnership holds all 5 key cards and the queen of trumps. There are two ways of responding.
Option 1: partner bids his cheapest (non-trump) king.
Option 2: partner uses stand Blackwood to show the number of kings.
An example auction playing RKCB with the 5NT "cheapest" king-ask
1♥ - 3♥ - 4NT - 5♠ - 5NT - 6♦ - 6♥
1.3 Asking for the Queen of trumps
Over the 5♣ and 5♦ responses, the 4NT bidder can ask for the queen of trumps by bidding the cheapest non-trump suit to ask this question
Responses to the Queen Ask are
An example auction playing RKCB 1430 with a queen-ask
1♠ - 2♣ - 3♦ - 3♠ - 4NT - 5♣ - 5♦ - 5♠
1.4 An example
Consider the following bidding sequence
1♠ - 2♥ - 4♥ - 4NT - 5♣ - 5♦ - 6♥
2. Splinter Bids
A splinter bid is a double-jump in a new suit and shows
1♠ - 4♦ (12+ points, a single or void in diamonds, and spades as trumps)
1♥ - 3♠ (13+ points, a single or void in spades, and hearts as trumps)
1♥ - 2♠ - 4♣ (15+ points, a singleton or void in clubs, and spades as trumps)
3. Cue Bids
Having agreed a suit, a bid of a new suit in a game forcing situation shows first round control in that suit thus either an ace or a void. Following a splinter bid from partner a further new suit is a cue bid. Examples of cue bids are
Consider the following bidding sequence
1♣ - 1♠ - 2♥ - 3♥ - 4♣ - 4♦ - 4NT - 5♦ - 6♥