Lets get digital – Electronic voting & ID cards?

As the fallout from the 2017 General Election continues, it’s an opportune time to look at voting in the 21st Century. As the young turned out in force, there has also been talk of the use of technology and voting via electronic methods. As many of us either own a laptop/pc, tablet or smartphone, is it not time to think about using these to vote in future elections? Whilst there would still be the time period on election day, people could vote from their phone or their pc/laptop without having the need to go to out to a polling station. Shift workers will be able to cast a vote without having to worry about trying to reach their polling station in time or taking time out.

Not everyone though will have access to a computer or a smartphone, so it would be possible for people to have a postal vote if they so wished if they weren’t able to have the electronic version. Of course the Postal vote system would need  tightened and made more secure as there have always been concerns regarding the method.

With the option of electronic voting, everyone would have an individual code that they would take with them regardless of where they are living. The voter would just need to register the code when they move and the system would update. By having electronic voting and a more secure postal vote system, it will mean a less costs for the local authorities as they wont need to pay for Presiding officers or polling clerks in the day time or counters for the evening/overnight. It would make things easier for Electoral Services departments up and down the country.

It will be interesting to see what readers have to say, comments completely welcome.

Now to something more controversial. The ID card has always been something that brings cynicism and distrust. There are naturally big concerns regarding the idea of the ID card. The Big Brother notion is something that people aren’t keen on seeing. They see a distrust and possible abuse of the system.

If a bio ID card could consist of a thumbprint/DNA set up. The card would hold travel permissions, driving permissions. It would not only reduce the need for multi levels of identification, but will of course reduce the levels of staff in the Passport Office and DVLA. The savings would allow money to be invested elsewhere. but it would naturally also help reduce the crime level and crime detection time. Using thumbprint/DNA would naturally make people jumpy, but as much of a cliché it is, law abiding citizens would have no need to worry.

The Conservative and Lib Dem of course saw the end to the National ID project back in the beginning of the Coalition Agreement with the repeal of the 2006 legislation and destruction of the National Identity Register. This will never see the light of day as a mandatory option. What though if people would like to have the option of one card with all information held on?

For myself the idea of having one card with all the info on it, sounds great and sounds useful, but it would only ever be voluntary.

Again, it will be interesting to see what readers think.

 

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours Flashback 40

Here is the first album look back in my Flashback 40 series. Kicking off is Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album. The 11th studio album of their career, it was one that was to be, despite everything that was going on outside the recording studios. To be honest it was an album that was even lucky to be written and completed given the situation of a number of the band members, it in a way though it probably existed purely down to the external factors and quite possibly with its title.

It was released on 4th February 1977 and was a huge success as they achieve number ones in five different countries throught out the coming months. In the US, it had spent 31 weeks non consecutively at the top of the Billboard 200. Come March 1978 ,Rumours alone had sold 8 million copies in the US and ten million around the world. In the UK it entered in at number at number 7 before hitting the top early in 1978  giving the band their first UK number one album.

To this day the album is still selling and as recent as 2009 it had shipped 30 million album sales. That is pretty darn good for one album. There are bands who wish they could sell 30 million albums in a career let alone for one album. As at July 2016 it was the 11th best selling album in UK history.

Rumours gives us some of the bands most notable releases such as Dreams, Don’t Stop, Go Your Own Way and of course The Chain. The Chain is famous for the use of the Bass line for the BBC’s Formula One theme tune up until they lost tv rights. Upon its return to the BBC, the  track entered the charts in 2009 through downloads where it reached 94 in th charts. It did so again in 2011 reaching 89, after a facebook campaign to get it number one for the start of the 2011 season.

The album looks like it reflects the break up of Buckingham and Nicks’ relationship with each of them taking a different perspective of the break up. With Stevie Nicks it seems to be reflective, but with Buckingham there seems to be some anger and bitterness. It would seem strange that the songs written could have some great music but yet be about break ups from two sides. For example Go Your Own Way sees a bitter line, but the music to the song is catchy and seemingly more light as it were.

Whilst there are the songs we all come to know, Rumours has tracks that make this album complete. Songbird written and sung by Christine McVie is a beautiful acoustic track that has a relaxing feel to it and one that is still sounds fresh even though it’s forty years old. A song with an appeal, that it was covered by the late Eva Cassidy and featured in her posthumously released album titled Songbird. It reached number one back in 2001. Willie Nelson also covered it on his album, also titled Songbird. The song itself found its way into the charts back in 2009 when it reached 56. This was down to an X Factor contestant singing it in her audition.

The album takes a brief country feel with the track, it was a track actually written by Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham pre Rumours and is a look at a romantic break up although it was way before   their very own break up. It’s hard not to like this track with it’s uplifting beat.

Oh Daddy is one of the few tracks not about break up. There is a seeming split about who it is about. Christine McVie claimed that it was about Mick Fleetwood, who was the only father around the band at the time, although others claimed it was about the bands lighting director, who McVie was dating at the time. Regardless of who it’s about, it’s a good track to listen to.

So there we have it (at last) the first of a number of Flashback 40 album reviews.

Musings from Down Under

Having been away for a couple of weeks, spending time down under I thought I’d share some thoughts and observations from my fantastic little trip with Emma to visit family.

Going during the summer period I was preparing for the roasting temperatures of 40 plus, unfortunately and merely coincidence the summer and temperatures on the west coast were much lower than that.  Having eventually arrived after the communication incompetence of Emirates and surviving the crazy driving of the locals, it was a brief stay in Perth before heading south to Busselton.

Busselton if you havent ever heard of it, is a regional city in the South West region of West Australia. It has one of the longest jetties in the world, albeit rebuilt following damage from a Cyclone. It extends to around 2km and you can take a walk or jump on a ‘train to take you to the end, where there is an underwater observatory. A fair number of fish and if you were to be really lucky, a passing shark. Sad to say that during my time on the West Coast, I didnt see any sharks. We did though see dolphins on several occasions

Admittedly there isnt much to Busselton tourist wise other than the beach, jetty and the Busselton museum in the old Butter factory, but it is still a great place to go. If you are every down that way I recommend you go to Codrocks for the fish and chips. They cook the order fresh, which may mean a little wait but it is certainly worth it. I had snapper and chips. Very yummy indeed.  If you take a walk further round you will find a shopping parade in Kent Street and a bakery aptly named Kent Street Bakery. Here you will find a range of awesome cake and rolls. The Chocolate marble cake was cake to die for.

It’s not all about Busselton, the South West Region of Western. Take a trip south to Metricup, you will find a the Metricup Bird Park where you could get seed to feed the various birds and animals. I had the experience of walking in amongst kangaroos and feeding a joey. It was great to get so close but naturally taking precautions as to not get a punch or have talons wiping me out with a swipe. Checking out permanently or having serious medical attention in a continental holiday was not something I really quite fancied, Im sure no one else did either.

Head southwards and you will find a number of caves, all with their unique parts within the system. We visited Jewel, Mammoth, Lake and Ngilgi Cave.Whether you were guided or went alone there was a lot to enjoy. The one thing though is that it if walking and steps are not your thing then you they are best to avoid. With the Jewel, Mammoth and Lake cave you could buy a multi vist pass that would allow you visits over the two days, should you wish.

Although we didnt stop there, en route to Margaret River is a town called Cowaramup and if you wondered by the name there is a cow theme within. You will see randomly placed lifesize sculptures of cows as a tourist attraction. There are 42 in total. In 2014 the town set a Guiness World Record for the largest number of people dressed as cows…..the number oh that was 1352.

Cowaramup derives it name from the Cowaramup siding that was near to the town on the disused Busselton to Augusta railway. The name is believed to come from the aboriginal word Cowara that means purple crowned lorikeet.

The Margaret River region is a heaven for wine connoiseurs or fans of the grape. You will find yourself surrounded by choice, but of course if you choose to have a glass or few, be sure to find alternative travel as like everywhere drink driving is against the law. There are of course a number of breweries if wine isnt your thing.

Chocolate fans will not be disappointed should they go to Margaret River or indeed anywhere in the West Coast at least. Margaret River boasts a chocolate factory where you can try handfuls of chocolate for free, buy as much chocolate as your budget will allow and feel like you may have found heaven after all. Chocolate in general is a wonderous joy,  Cadburys blocks including various flavours and brands like Black Forest and the Old Gold brand that we dont see in the UK. Im pretty well sure that they would sell like hotcakes or should I say chocolate off the shelves over here.

 Whilst in Margaret River and you feel like grabbing some food, you wont go wrong in visiting the Settlers pub. With various beers, including a selection of craft beers, you will also get good food and a speedy service. You wont have long to wait for your food either. On our next return, we shall be heading there once again no doubt.

So from my visit to Australia, I had a fantastic time and cant wait to return down under. I do hope you enjoyed reading this brief musing, do feel free to comment.

Films TV & Music of 77 – Flashback40

I may have entered the world close to the end of the year, but I have to say it was most definitely a fine year for film and music. The notable films from that year are of course Star Wars: A New Hope, Close Encounters of The Third Kind and Saturday Night Fever, but 1977 was one that saw a wonderful collection of different film genres.

It appeared to be comedy, action and Sci Fi in 1977 with an odd horror film thrown in.  A Bridge Too Far, even Smokey and the Bandit was a hit in the states grossing second in the top ten films, surprisingly beating Close Encounters.

Ray Harryhausen’s talents were shared once more in Sinbad and The Eye of The Tiger. Eye of The Tiger was the third outing in the film franchise. Another film making its third outing in its Franchise, was Aiport 77. The final film sees a private 747 being hijacked before crashing into the sea in the Bermuda Triangle area. The year wouldn’t be the same without a Bond film and 77 had its turn with Roger Moore returning in the The Spy Who Loved Me.

If adventure appealed to you in 1977, you would have been rewarded with some fine films. Jabberwocky, Pete’s Dragon, Gulliver’s Travels and The Man in The Iron Mask.

Horror fans had a fair few films to enjoy, some well known and some not so well known. The Hills have Eyes, Exorcist II, The Child, EraserHead and The Island of Doctor Moreau.

So if people weren’t going to the cinema, they were more than likely watching tv and in the late 70’s there were many things to enjoy, some already on tv included favourites such as Corrie, Match of the Day, Blue Peter, Crackerjack, Doctor Who, to name but a few. There were some making their debut,  The guys at Ci5 and the Professionals were starting their time on tv, Krypton Factor with Gordon Burns that saw many sitting watching contestants carrying out various challenges and of course everyones favourite outtake show (well maybe not everyones) It’ll be Alright On The Night started its journey entertaining us with bloopers from various tv shows.

It was quite a year in the world of music, great albums, singles and sadly some big names departing the world. Whilst I will take a look at albums and singles separately, there were a lot of moments that took place. Some good, some crazy and then the music stars that passed away.

Kicking off 1977 in a punk rock stylee were The Clash. They were playing at the opening night of The Roxy, the short lived punk rock club. The Sex Pistols kicked off a long and controversial year. One single down and EMI terminate the contract after band members behaviour at Heathrow at the start of January. Never fear A&M to the rescue….or maybe not. On 10 March they sign the band in front of Buckingham Palace and six days later its game over. Band members behaviour towards staff sees the end of another deal.

The Sex Pistols get signed up by Virgin Records in May and last longer than six days. They didnt even get fired for trying to interrupt the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Their album Never Mind The Bollocks, here’s the Sex Pistols got to number one in October despite major retailers refusing to stock it.

Of course it wasnt just about the Sex Pistols in 77. The B-52s were making their first public performance. Yes they have been around that long. Fleetwood Mac released the album Rumours and what an album that was, still strong 40 years after its release.

Having been the victim of a technicians strike in April, the 22nd Eurovision Song Contest took place. France beat off the UK and Irish entries to win.

The second half of the year saw death and accidents. Grateful Dead drummer Micky Hart survives driving his Porsche off a canyon, injuries to Joe Perry and Steve Tyler from an explosive see a number of dates cancelled. A plane carrying the band Lynyrd Skynrd crashes. It kills lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Zaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick. Others are seriously injured. It spelled the end for the band, who had hits Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird until they reformed in the late 80’s.

On the 16th August The King Elvis Presley was dead. He was found at is home in Graceland. It was because of his death that my mum gave me my middle name Aron, which was the same as Elvis, not sure that my mum was a big fan of his though. Presley’s passing wasnt the only death of a great. Marc Bolan of T Rex was killed in a car crash he was only 29.

It was Bing Crosby’s final Christmas show in 1977, but it did include the iconic duet of Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy with David Bowie.

December 77 saw Elvis Costello make his US debut and having decided to change a song, found himself banned, quite some way to go to be honest.

Over the year of 1977 many a musical act were making their way into the music scene. Adam and The Ants, The Buggles, Def Leppard, Dire Straits, The Human League,INXS,Martha and The Muffins and Men Without Hats were just some starting off 40 years ago. The Cars, Police and Van Halen also signed deals with their respective record companies.

Well that end the look at 1977. What a year for entertainment it was. Still to come will be the years 87, 97, 2007 with a few other flashback years to come.

Goodbye common sense, hello stupidity

So this past week we saw the launch of Pokemon Go and the instagram photo of Victoria Beckham kissing her daughter Harper on the lips. The two differing stories but in a way connected.

Im no fan of Pokemon, I wasn’t when it  was first released and not now with the appearance of Pokemon Go. However I do find myself defending the game. For those who dont know what Pokemon Go is, let me explain. It is ann augmented reality game that allows you to take the virtual into the real world. You can capture pokemon in your own home, in your garden as well as  out and about. You may have seen people out and about stopping in various places and swiping their smartphones. A couple of weeks ago it might have been someone fed up with their smartphone, but now its more likely to be Pokemon Go.

People though are naturally getting concerned. Pokemon and the Pokemon stops appear in various places. Whilst there will be many within your own property and various public places, they have popped up in some inappropriate places. Reports of Holocaust memorials, 9/11 memorials etc. Now I dont mean to sound horrible,but if you play Pokemon Go and still find the need to play it around such sensitive areas, then you really need to think about yourself and your morals.  There may also be ones you can see but cant reach. Dont be stupid and risk your life by trying to reach the unreachable. Use your common sense and dont do the stupid things. Whilst there will be ones you cant reach,there will be those in unfamiliar places. The younger player that maybe on their own,  just don’t do it. In fact if you too young to be out alone then you are probably too young to be playing the game.

Victoria Beckham celebrated her daughter Harper’s fifth birthday by posting a photo of her giving a kiss on Instagram. Nothing wrong with that you might think. Well when it shows mum kissing daughter on the lips and boy did all hell break loose. People across the internet claimed  that it was sexualising,wrong,weird etc. For me it is something out of nothing. Whilst Ive never been a fan of the woman, I see no harm in what she has done. Im sure she wouldn’t want to put her daughter in any difficult  position. To be honest I imagine she is no different to many other loving parents up and down the country and indeed around the world.

WWE – It’s not fake, it’s just entertainment

The subject of WWE and wrestling being fake is something that always appears to rear its ugly head. As far back as the 80’s through the 90’s to current day, some people will always throw the lines that its pretend, not real, its fixed etc etc. There will always be people who continue to spout the tedious lines as though they actually have a point.

Im sorry to say that you are tediously boring and wrong. WWE is entertainment, it’s no more real than the misery of soaps such as Eastenders, Corrie and Hollyoaks. You will also find the majority of those who watch WWE know that the output is not real, Im sure that many a wrestling fan will be seen to roll their eyes upon hearing the fact that WWE or other professional wrestling organisations are fake. Wrestling fans will be the first to tell you that the events that unfold are merely storylines created by writers.

Some of the storylines maybe absolute crazy and unbelieveable, but correct me if Im wrong, was it not a storyline in Corrie that saw a campaign to free Deidre Barlow from prison. Yes a national campaign that saw it even result in the subject being brought up in the House of Commons. Yes that’s right, a matter that was so trivial that no one in their right mind would have contemplated getting worked up over, ended up as a question to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The wrestlers that perform week in week out are entertainers, albeit athletic and sometimes bloody crazy. Whilst the outside stories maybe a little, the risks as the men and women do battle are all very real. Many stars have suffered injuries both life changing and non life changing. In 1997, Stone Cold broke his neck, 2001 Triple H tore a quad muscle, Droz who at the time was wrestling under a different name was involved in a move that went wrong and saw him paralysed, Joey Mercury ended up with a busted nose, Shawn Michaels with a back injury. Then of course in an indirect wrestling incident, the tragic loss of Owen Hart. These injuries and tragedies are the very reason why the WWE always state not to try this at home.

Movies Movies Movies

The Carlton in Westgate is slowly becoming a second home, not that Im complaining of course. The second half of 2015 saw as many visits to the cinema as the previous year what with Star Wars, Mission Impossible and others. It’s so easy when a trip to the cinema  can cost around a tenner for two tickets pop corn and a drink (The combo). It’s even better when you can book tickets ahead so there is little disappointment.

In 2016 though, we’ve already managed to chalk up four visits and it’s still early February. The Hateful Eight, which wasnt too bad once it actually got going, it was just so slow to start with. The Revenant was next and this one was a great film to watch. Leonardo Di Caprio was truly on form in this movie and was great from start to finish. If this doesnt get him an Oscar, I really do not know what will because it certainly deserves one.

The Fifth Wave featuring Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) is a sci fi film based on the books by Rick Yancey. It’s based on human survival after several waves of wiping out the human race. Moretz plays her role well and with the run of films lined up, it will be a busy year for the youngster who has built up a vast array of movies in her career.

There are several visits to the cinema still to come and 2016 is certain to be a bumper year especially with the spin off Star Wars movie due out just before Christmas.

Whichever film you choose to see this year, do go along to the Carlton where the seats are cheap and you can pick yourself up a loyalty points card.