Thursday, 30 November 2017

Scrabble & Literacy Skills.

Scrabble – It’s all fun until someone loses an I. Yes, people still play Scrabble and it’s awesome.  It’s also a great way for children to learn and have fun at the same time.  

Scrabble in the library


Scrabble is already played in a lot of libraries around Ireland but should be in all of them.  Coming towards the end of the year, most households will probably drag out the Scrabble board followed by Monopoly for the obligatory board game over the Christmas holidays but Scrabble should be a game you always have ready to open and play all year around.  I would even go as far as saying the Scrabble board should have its own little table and always be set up.  This is also handy if the game is taking longer than usual, you can leave it and return the next evening.

As a child, (and if truth be told even still at the age of 40+) I have a dreadful memory and have never been able to rote learn.  This, as we know, is the key to success throughout your journey in the Irish education system so I was screwed.  Luckily, my mother realised this but also knew I was really competitive and loved games.  So this began my love of Scrabble.  

Playing Scrabble by the fire

My Mam and I regularly played Scrabble, we always had a dictionary to check words and certainly played a few times per week.  Games were slow and laborious taking a couple of hours but always great fun.  Scrabble also helps your math skill with double and triple scoring tiles and whole words and then keeping track of the overall score.  As your skills develop you will keep track of the big tiles that still haven’t been played and you start building your strategic game.  Lovely to play CON on the board and the next move hook a word with an I in front of CON.  The permutations and combinations are really intriguing in Scrabble, to recognise patterns and good combinations of tiles are one of the keys to success.  This skill of pattern recognition is so useful in building kids problem solving skills.  


Scrabble is sold in 121 countries and is available in 29 languages; approximately 150 million sets have been sold worldwide.  It is available As Gaeilge, in Braille, in large format for visually impaired and can be played on most electronic devices and even with your friends on Facebook.  Worldwide, most countries use the Collins Official Scrabble Words to verify words, rather than being a dictionary with words explained it is purely just a list but it’s great when you visit other clubs (or even countries) to be using the same word source.  There is even a family friendly version of the word list which takes out all the naughty words.  This is what libraries and schools would normally use.

Scrabble As Gaeilge, Collins Word Source, CSW15, Junior Scrabble, Scrabble for families

I consider myself a serious player of Scrabble at this stage, I’ve been involved with my local club for years (there are dozens of clubs in the country, most meet regularly in libraries) and play in a couple of large events per year.  I’ve also taken part in a few 24 hour marathons raising funds for local charity. I just love the game, the endless possibilities (lots of backgammon and chess players also play Scrabble), meeting new friends, learning new words and just having great fun, all thanks to my Mam introducing me to Scrabble.  In lots of countries, Scrabble is played in schools, something we have yet to develop in Ireland but it would be great if it was played.  It’s also a great game for people to play in the library, I think every library should have a couple of boards that people can check out and use on the premises.  I know a few libraries in Ireland have board games on offer but Scrabble & chess should be the minimum on offer everywhere.


If you are interested in joining a club, check the list below or send me a message if you would like pointers on setting up a club in your locality. 

Scrabble Clubs in Ireland

At the end of the day, Scrabble is a great fun way for children to learn and develop their literacy skills.  Who knows, we might even have a World Champion in our midst.  Check www.scrabbleireland.org for more info on playing Scrabble in Ireland. 

John the Captain Ryan

Monday, 27 November 2017

Blogging so far, 77 days in...

I came up with an arbitrary target of 12,000 page views for year one, a nice round figure of 1000 per month, which breaks down to 33 views per day. 


66 days into the project, I have posted 25 blogs, 8 of them have been viewed around 30 times, 5 were viewed more than 100 times with remaining distribution at the 20’s 50’s, 60’s & 70’s so a wide distribution pattern.

The top 3 blogs are:

(130) Copy right or Wrong Thing 3 – 21st September
(128) Stranger Things 2 review – 6th November
(118) Al Porter thoughts – 23rd November

I don’t know why the first one has done so well.  The other 2 have been shared across social media platforms and are also very current so that is why they are doing well.


The bottom 3 blogs are:

(27) Be Aware LGBT – 23rd October
(28) Networking Tools (Thing 10) – 16th November
(30) IT – I love remakes review – 26th Sept.  

As soon as I was finished the first one, I knew it was no good but still posted it as a reminder to myself how not properly preparing my information results in rubbish.  I learnt by my mistakes and redid Thing 8 on 31st October (King is King).  When the Rudai23 course is finished I will probably delete this post.

I don’t know why the networking tools post hasn’t done well and will have to look into this a little more.  I am going to share the blog on my review of IT this week as I think this is a fairly good blog and should have been viewed a little more by now.

Overall, I’m happy with how my blog has gone although by now, 77 days into blogging (on 27th November 2017) my target was 2541 page views and I have reached 2074.  So, a bit more work is needed.  I need to work on sharing my blog across platforms a little more but ultimately write about current issues.  

Toodles for now.  I give my own work a 6 out of 10 planets






John "The Captain" Ryan

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Al Porter “Grab ‘em by the ...”

Grab them by the pussy and grab them by the balls

Firstly, I will point out that you are innocent until proven guilty but in the meantime shut your pie-hole.

Al Porter - Shut your pie-hole
From Donald Trump’s playbook, Porter excuses his behaviour as being “light-hearted and good-natured”. Sure why not grab them by the pu55y balls whilst you are at it...Oh, hang on, allegedly that’s what you did.

Al Porter Tweet

He has done so much damage to the gay community; he equates his mannerisms (and those of other flamboyant gays) to sexual harassment and assault.  Yes, we won the right in Ireland to get married in 2015 but the bigots, homophobes, racists and sexual predators haven’t gone away. Some of the accusations (and stereotypes) are still out there, the worst of course being that all gays are pedophiles.  Now we have Al Porter equating being outrageous and flamboyant to alleged sexual harassment and assault.

So, here we are, the flamboyant gays of Ireland, dealing with all the bullying, harassment and crap on a daily basis from homophobes and now we have to deal with stereotypes, promulgated by the likes of Al “Grab them by the balls” Porter that our mannerisms will be mistaken for sexual misconduct.  Really!  



It’s pure tripe and the likes of Al Porter should know better.  But then again, I suppose if you are the type of person – just like Trump – to tweet your defense and mealy mouthed apology maybe you are that stupid.  Rest assured, he has done the LGBT community no favours.  For those who still don’t understand what goes on in society, check the ven diagram below.

ven diagram, society
  

Grey        All people on the planet
Yellow     LGBTQIA
Red          Pedophiles
Blue         Other Sexual misconduct

There are of course some Crossovers

Green          LGBTQIA & sexual misconduct
Orange        LGBTQIA & Paedo’s
Purple         Paedo’s & sexual misconduct
White          All 3.


So, whilst it’s time to speak out against all types of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault, it’s also time to call out mealy-mouthed stupid non-apologies for what they are and to demand more from celebrities.  MEANWHILE just keep your pie-hole shut & say NO COMMENT.  Let the matter me investigated and if innocent try to rebuild your career.  Don’t be giving me shite that it’s how you act as part of your public persona is to blame.  Cop-on, shut-up and keep your hands to yourself. 

Friday, 17 November 2017

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card (Book review)

The story of a boy, successfully trained to destroy a whole race, coming to terms with what he will do for the rest of his life and how he can live with himself.   

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card
(Source - SF reviews)

(I’ve struggled with writing a review about Orson Scott Card’s work because of his political opinion and how vocal he is against Gay Marriage and LGBT equality but I’ve decided to put that to one side and concentrate on the book – I will however revisit the subject of the author and LGBT issues in the future)

Written by Orson Scott Card in 2008, 13 years after his first novel (Ender’s Game), Ender in Exile is an interesting novel, chronologically set after Ender’s Game with 8 other novels in between.  If you originally read Ender’s Game when it was released and then subsequent novels you will have notice some discrepancies.  This has been solved as the last chapter of Ender’s Game has been changed and Ender in Exile fixes the gaps in plot between the 1st novel & Speaker for the Dead.  Check at the end of my blog on chronology and best way to read these books.

In Ender’s Game, Ender Wiggins, the boy prodigy, offspring of super-intelligent parents was taken from his home and trained to be a commander of an army and leader from the age of six.  He wasn’t really to blame for the genocide of a race, his teachers were, but he spends most of this book coming to terms with his actions.  The intertwining plots of political intrigue, power-mad individuals & World domination are but a backdrop to the struggle going on in Ender’s mind of coming to terms with what he has done and what he will do for the rest of his life.  Exiled from Earth, family & friends he finds himself stuck on a colonising spaceship sent to follow-up a previous crew that have begun colonising Shakespeare, a planet previously controlled by the “Buggers” (aka the Formics that Ender destroyed).  The topic of genocide and a "just" war is interesting and if the novel was read by a class of teens would provide for a great discussion point.

(Art work by Aaron Johnson - See his work here)

I really liked how time passes in the book, Card has come up with an ingenious way of describing time-travel, whilst on the ship time travels much slower than in reality, 2 years on the ship is somewhere between 35-40 years in reality.  This helps sew-up a major plot hole in the series as there were some crazy time-jumps making Ender hundreds of years old in subsequent novels. I think there is still one plot flaw – Ender’s power hungry brother – Peter Wiggins – dies in this novel, but he is still in the other three novels in the Ender Quartet (see below for chronology) but I will have to re-read the full Ender Quartet to be 100% sure.  This time-space-travel theory helps describe changes in culture and politics on both Earth & Shakespeare (the planet being colonised) which would take several decades in reality and 20 novels, but for Ender this only take the two years on the ship so can be accelerated.  

Ultimately this book is a cop-out allowing Card to fix plot mistakes he has previously made although I suppose the end product is still a good read, it’s a pity Card just didn’t plan the saga properly in the first place.  JK Rowling always knew what was going to happen throughout all the Harry Potter books and had extensive character descriptions completed before even starting to actually write her books.  Of course...I suppose as a stand-alone novel this doesn’t matter and the end justifies the means.

Over-all, it’s a good read and if you enjoyed either the film or book of Ender’s Game then you should enjoy this.  It’s certainly a welcome addition to the Ender-verse and I’ve only recently found the series of graphic novels published by Marvel so I will be checking them out soon. This book loses points because it is not as compelling as the other novels and is really only a place-holder in the Ender-verse with nothing exciting.  It doesn’t have the same appeal and is not as much a page turner as other novels in the series.  If you didn’t read it you would miss nothing major from the Ender-verse.

Series description and order to read the books in:

Checking out the whole Ender-verse (i.e. the Universe of Ender) you will find its becoming a little complicated.  So, let’s break it down. 

·       Ender’s Game was released in 1985 with 3 further titles following Ender’s story (Ender Quartet).

·       The Beam Quartet followed, 4 book published between 1991-2005.  Bean & Ender went to school together and the first book of each quartet is set during the same time.  A War of Gifts is also set at the same time.

·       Other titles have then been added to the Ender-verse.  Shadows Alive will purportedly tie together both strands of the Ender-verse

If you decide to embark on the journey that is the “Ender-verse”, ignore the publication dates and consider there are two distinct strands.  Ender’s story and others as follows:


Ender's Story
Other's Story
1. Ender's Game (Ender Quartet 1)


2. Ender's Shadow (Bean Quartet 1)

3. A War of Gifts (Zeck)

4. Children of the Fleet (Command School)

5. Shadow of the Hegemon (Bean Quartet 2)

6. Shadow Puppets (Bean Quartet 3)

7. Shadow of the Giant (Bean Quartet 4)
8. Ender in Exile


9. Shadows in Flight (Beans Children)
10. Speaker for the Dead (Ender Quartet 2)

11. Xenocide (Ender Quartet 3)

12. Children of the Mind (Ender Quartet 4)

13. Shadows Alive (not published yet)

Although Card professes that any of the novels are stand-alone I would advise reading one storyline at a time.  Both storylines are really interesting but also different.  For a more Sci-Fi fantasy, with an old style space opera feel stick to Ender’s story but if you like the political intrigue and strategy of attempted world domination stick with the storyline of Ender’s class mates.

(To confuse matters even further there are also 2 trilogies of the 1st & 2nd Formic Wars, set chronologically before Ender’s Game, but let’s not go there.)

In conclusion, if you enjoyed either the movie or book of Ender’s game it is worth a read, particularly if you haven’t read the other books in the series.  However, due to this novel only being a place-holder and plot fixer in the Ender-verse I give it 6 out of 10 planets. 





John The Captain Ryan

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Networking Tools (Thing 10)

This task was to set-up and use either Facebook or Twitter.


I have both accounts, however my Facebook account is more for family and friends with strict privacy settings so I decided to use Twitter for this task.

My Twitter can be found here - https://twitter.com/j_ryan2014.

I changed my banner picture to one of my own taken of Wexford Quay front and my avatar picture (i.e. profile picture) is the same as my blog.  My personal details are similar to both my blog and my Facebook account.  I am a complete novice to Twitter so I want to learn more about it, I’m hoping that further tasks will delve a little more into the use of Twitter.  I know that it is possible to link all your platforms so posts will go out across all of them but have no idea how it’s done. 

I followed most of the suggested Twitter pages.  I already follow quite a few people and organisation, one of my favourite is https://twitter.com/NickRoche , an awesome graphic artist with several novels under his belt.  I grew up with him; he was always an avid fan of Transformers (Robots in Disguise) and ended up drawing Transformers for a living, isn’t that awesome.  Read more about him here.

For my thing 10 task I sent the following tweet to Rudai23

Thing 10 Tweet #Rudai23


It's so much easier now that you can use 280 characters but I wonder will this result in the instantaneous nature of Twitter being lost. Anyway, hopefully it worked and Rudai23 got my message..

Toodles

John The Captain Ryan

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Zero World by Jason M. Hough book review

Zero World by Jason M. Hough is an exciting sci-fi tale combining the story of an assassin on a parallel earth – think Jason Bourne in Sliders.  Book Review (no spoilers).


Zero World by Peter M. Hough

(Image from Jason M Hough website here)

Hough has already written a very successful trilogy - The Dire Earth Cycle - so expectations were high when cracking open this book and one is not disappointed.

The intrigue is fascinating, with the main character Peter Caswell a highly trained assassin based in the near future who has heightened skills due to an implant in his neck.  The implant allows him to enhance his mental & physical abilities and also has a memory-wipe protocol which blanks his memory of all the horrible things he has done, although he does have a sly way of keeping track of the amount of murders he has committed.

Caswell is hurtled into space on a top-secret assignment which leads him to a parallel universe & a version of earth quite similar to his own but different enough that he has to employ the help of a local spy with a shared mission (although with different end game).  Midway through the book there is a plot twist one couldn’t guess plus his implant wipes his memory due to a missed deadline and the race is on to save the multi-verse.

Sliders - 1995-2000 TV series

This book is really well written, the prose is beautiful, descriptions are sumptuous and the characters are well developed.  For those who loved the TV Series Sliders (1995-2000) the science of the big “what-if” of a parallel earth sits easily, if you haven’t viewed the series the concept might be a little difficult to comprehend but once there you will be surprised & delighted.  If you haven’t seen Sliders check it out - here. (Yes, Jerry O' Connell is that good looking) 

The book seems to be setting up a series so hopefully we will see more of this saga.  I would have liked to see more development of the near-earth planet (so it loses a rating point) but the thriller and spy elements of the book are great and will keep you on the edge of your seat and turning those pages.  It’s a little concept heavy and might cause the reader to give up but for those who persevere you will not be disappointed but it loses another rating point for that so overall I give this book an 8 out of 10 planets.




John The Captain Ryan

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Puppies and Dogs...members of my family

So, for those who know me in person, they know I’m a dog lover.  For you virtual friends...


Dogs & Puppies, Romeo, Jules and Max


A few months before I moved into my first house (Summer 2003) I rescued a one-eyed Samoyed.  A cousin of mine had re-homed him temporarily but as she had 2 big dogs couldn’t keep him.  I got him on 1st February 2003.  My cousin had actually driven to Wexford previously but couldn’t make it as far as the door to give away the little fur ball.  The reason I remember the day so clearly was it was the date of the Shuttle craft Columbia disaster and my new puppy was named after Ilan Ramon, a colonel in the Israeli Air Force and the first Israeli astronaut.  Into my life pranced ROMEO...

(Romeo resting after a long walk)


About 6 months following this I decided to get a companion for Romeo.  I didn’t want to have to deal with puppies so I rescued a male pointer cross and named him JULES.  The both dogs quickly became great friends and spent many years being members of my family.  They were inside dogs, chased a burglar from the house one evening when we came home and loved their runs on the beach.   

(Jules saying hello!)


(Jules & Romeo running in the Raven Forest in Curracloe)  
                        
(If you are thinking of getting a Samoyed be warned – they need lots of walking, about 5 miles at least 4 days per week, ideally not on a lead as when you put a collar and lead on them their nature is to try and pull a sled, or in the absence of a sled you.  Pull and pull and pull.)

Romeo always slept at night time either on the landing or downstairs in the hall.  In this location he could keep an eye on both the front and back door.  He never slept soundly and always had one ear open.  He was a gentle giant but a fantastic guard dog.  The first night Jules was with me, he got a little basket with an old jumper and a hot water bottle on the floor beside my bed.  He spent the whole night whining.  The second night he whined for the 1st hour then he was plonked on the bottom of my bed to shut him up.  He stayed there for 13 years!

(Jules after a run on the beach, he went swimming and got cold)

Somewhere in the middle...puppies arrived.  Romeo had fun with my mum’s Cavalier King Charles – 8 pups arrived but only 2 survived...Brandy & Petra.  We hand reared them from the very first moments of their life.  


(Brandy & Petra at about 6 weeks old)


(Brandy & Petra with Vet (and hunk) Richard Bramley)

 

(Petra drinking the end of the tea with her daddy and Brandy gently begging from my mam)

As Romeo & Jules were getting old, I decided to get a new puppy to add to the family.  So, on Halloween night in 2015 Max joined the family (another rescue).  A samoyed/pointer cross and living up to his name he is as made as a hatter.  


(Max's first night on the bed)


(Max saying "Walkies time")


(31st October 2015 when Max arrived home)

 (Max & Jules sharing the bed)


(Max @ our Engagement party) 


 (Max's first Christmas)


 (Don't feed the dog under the table...actually it's keeping him away from the other dogs)


(Unlike most Samoyed's Max loves the water)

Unfortunately in February 2016 we lost Romeo & in March 2016 we lost Jules but both lived a full and good life, treasured members of our family.

John The Captain Ryan





Monday, 6 November 2017

Stranger Things, Season 2 review (no spoilers)

I am woman, hear me roar...


Drew Barrymore in Firestarter, Jessica Alba in Dark Angel and Mile Bobby Brown in Stranger Things

(Drew Barrymore in Firestarter, Jessica Alba in Dark Angel and Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things)

First impressions of Stranger Things is “This series is so cool”, the 80’s vibe with the detail of music, costume, sets, cars, mannerisms and speech is spot-on.  The more you get into Stranger Things, the more similarities there is with Firestarter – the government agency called “The Shop” trying to control Charlie (little baby Drew Barrymore) and the US Department  of Energy research lab at the centre of Stranger Things.  Following this theme, you can then see how similar it is to Dark Angel & Manticore who created those pesky genetically enhanced soldiers so our screens could be graced with the awesome Jessica Alba.    

For any fans of Stephen King they will love Stranger Things, the similarities to Stand By Me, IT & Firestarter are obvious because the story is about children and their perceptions but the feeling – attributed to the lighting & soundtrack – is also so similar to most of the B movies made in the 80’s based on Stephen Kings work.  King himself is a huge fan of Stranger Things...



I like the format of a shorter season – 8 episodes in season 1 & 9 episodes in season 2.  This means you’re not devoting too much time in watching “another” series as we are drowning in stuff to watch today.  The shortened series forces the creators/directors, The Duffer Brothers, to get on with the story and of course also gives them less opportunity to mess up (read more later on about episode 7).  It’s also great to be able to watch a whole series in a few days rather than having to wait week-on-week as a series is drip fed, let’s not even mention those bloody series cliff hangers – Who the hell gets to meet Lucille up close and personal?


Anyway, to concentrate on season 2 of Stranger Things – you can comfortably manage it in 3 nights with 3 episodes per night.  Perfect.  Short and sweet.  It picks up perfectly from the ending of the previous series, telling the story of how Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is looked after by Officer Hopper (the hunk that is David Harbour who will be the new Hellboy).  You have the separate storyline of the four boys attempting to get back to normal life after the revelations in the “Upside Down”.  Hopper plays the vital role of being the common denominator, of course you know at some stage both storylines need to intertwine.

Stranger Things Season 2
  
There are unfortunately a couple of problems with the plot.  A common story line when children are involved is to split them up, throw in a bit of jealousy, unrequited love, brash racism but then have them join back together at the end of the series, hug-it-out and beat the monster.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Scooby Gang are the prime example of this, so why would Stranger Things do anything different.  Next, the story is a little bit predictable, the seemingly unbeatable monster can be slain (maybe) if the star of the show – who has been sidelined for most of the season – turns up and does her thing, which, surprisingly she does.  Unfortunately, this lack of originality means Stranger Things season 2 loses a review point here.

All of the characters (except one) are great and the acting is sublime...the cringe worthy “rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”  by Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) is hilarious and the cast bounces off each other really well.  Ultimately it’s a story about a group of friends banding together over seemingly insurmountable odds and winning.  I like the idea of a group of unpopular nerds (reminiscent of The Losers Club in IT) saving the day and can maybe reach out to geeks today.  My one exception is Winona “Whining” Ryder as Joyce (Will’s mother).  She spends two whole seasons bawling and needs to be in as many scenes as possible.  The story isn’t about her Duffer Brothers, we want more of Eleven! 

This brings me neatly to Eleven, HELLO!  She is the one with the super powers...let’s make a film about Superman but not actually have him in the film.  No, just No!.  We want more of Eleven, episode 7 is just a mess, it could have been so much more, exploring the origin of Eleven and her meeting her sister instead it was clearly an episode thrown in there to create a spin-off series.  Just concentrate on this series; let’s not worry about the next one quite yet.  Whining Ryder and episode 7 loses another review point. 

But, to get back to the positives, the story is still well written.  The graphics and special effects are seamless and considering our standards are so high now-a-days it does brilliantly.  I suppose this is another advantage of a short season, it keeps the budget down so stuff can be done properly, gone are the days that the cost of special effects determine major characters, plot lines and sets.  It’s a fast-paced story and you would definitely benefit by watching series 1 before you start, if you don’t have time for that at least watch the last 2 episodes.  Throughout the series, you find yourself asking – who is actually responsible, is Eleven at the heart of everything? – is Dr. Owens good or bad, does he actually care for Will or Eleven? – both of these conundrums are answered (kind of) by the end.  The fast-paced story, comedic moments, great special effects and just enough intrigue gives a great series and a must-see in the ocean of burgeoning must-see series.

Overall, 2 review points are lost so my rating for Stranger Things, Season 2 is 8 out of 10 planets.   


8 out of 10 planets review

John "The Captain" Ryan

Friday, 3 November 2017

YES, I'm going to SPACE

The internet is a weird and wonderful place where one blog leads to an article which leads to a link and next thing you know you are going to space.

But - is STEM education as dead as space travel?



ISS Space Station flying over Ireland, image provided by NASA
(picture source - NASA)

Stephen Hawking to Blue origin to SpaceX to the VSS.  My journey started with checking out other blogs and came across - The Librarian Errant

The author was seconded to another library and was involved with digitising material.  I learnt that Stephen Hawking's original thesis is available for the whole World to read (understanding it, now that's a different matter) here

This lead me to learning that Richard Branson has offered Hawking a place on the VSS to go to space - the Virgin Galactic project opening up space travel to the public.  Learn all about it here Virgin Galactic.

But, unfortunately €200,000 is a little bit rich for my blood so I've got to shop around or see if there is a possibility to stow away with Elon Musk's SpaceX (http://www.spacex.com/) or Blue Origin (https://www.blueorigin.com/)

Okay, okay, back down to Earth!.  I know there is no place for a 40 year old married man to get to space, but it's the dreaming.  Ever since NASA finished it's space shuttle program in 2011, for me, it has left a void in our aspirations and dreams.  So many young nerds and geeks (whilst dodging the bullies) decided to study engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics, or even join the Airforce and become pilots with the hope of getting off this pile of rock and see what the universe has to offer.  


Moon landing, photo provided by NASA
(picture source - NASA)


Don't forget, the race to the moon, started by the Russians on November 3rd 1957, with the launch of Sputnik 2 kept them and the US battling for scientific superiority, which in turn helped them not start WW3.  So why does it matter today?  Instead of the most powerful & dangerous countries in the World figuring out new and more violent ways of destroying the lot of us - from Trump & North Korea to conflict in the Middle East - wouldn't it be great if we could use our combined knowledge and money for the betterment of the human race.  Wouldn't it be great if we figured out how the universe was created and where would this lead us?  Hang on - the World wasn't created 6,000 years ago - who knew! Wow!

My point is, what once led the aspirations and dreams of the brightest kids in school to become amazing scientists is now diminished.  There is a huge push in Ireland today towards promoting STEM Education - Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths - or make it all steamy by sticking an A in the middle for Arts but why should we bother.

Why should we promote a boring career in becoming a roads engineer and study the density and lifespan of concrete in comparison to the amazing and awesomeness of space travel and exploration?  Why should we consign our youth to a career which we cannot support in Ireland and even then how to we get a generation of kids that have an attention span of a goldfish and demand information in 140 characters to enter a field of study that uses a few more than 140 characters - thermodynamics anyone?  



Data Storage Farm
(picture source - http://www.jendai.com)


Before we carry our youth towards a career in STEM, in a wheelbarrow with square wheels we need to do some serious soul-searching and ask why.  We need to have something inspirational, exciting and fun to encourage our youth, not a lifetime of computer coding in a dark data storage farm powered by renewable energy.  Yes the bunker will be perfectly built, with perfect engineering and mathematical skills but it's still a dark, cold lonely World that the geek is consigned to, the very same as their time in school.  Previously they had the dream of escaping to space, now...just the cold dark concrete bunker.  

Then again, I might partner with one of them and the two of us can devise how to stow-away on the VSS.  Then I could really be a Captain.

John "The Captain" Ryan 

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