Lessons in the "Alternative" Category

21st Century Slavery

It may surprise you but today there are thousands of people around the world stuck in modern day slavery. It is a scandal that many governments are failing to tackle.

You might be thinking slavery was abolished in the 19th century. It was, only today it is once again flourishing. It is a global issue that needs resolving. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently reported that 21 million people, five million of whom are children, are victims of forced labour.

Would you like to live and work in Antarctica?

Recently four jobs were advertised to work in the British post office in Antarctica. More than 50 people applied for them. The jobs at Port Lockroy in British Antarctica Territory offer a monthly salary of around £1,100. Applications are now closed.

Those selected will see some wonderful mountain scenery including a lot of snow and virtually 24 hours of daylight. Applicants should however be aware of the 2,000 odd penguins they’ll have for company. The job itself involves cleaning penguin poo from the surrounding paths near the post office.

February 29

Today, we are going to talk about February 29. The extra day occurs once every four years. It is called a Leap Day and is added to the calendar. When there is a leap year there are 366 days rather than 365 days of the year.

The previous leap year was in 2012. This year sees another leap year. The extra day is added because of the way the Solar System works. A complete orbit of the Earth around the sun actually takes approximately 365.2422 days.

Why are there 29 days in February rather than 30 or 31? This is down to history. During the Roman Empire Emperor Julius Caesar ordered his astronomer Sosigenes to simplify the 355 day Roman calendar, which had an extra 22 days added on every two years. Sosigenes created the 365 day year, with an extra day every 4 years.

Blogger saves £7.72 on train fare from Sheffield to Essex by flying via Berlin

Recently, teenage blogger Jordon Cox decided to do a return journey from Shenfield in Essex to Sheffield in northern England. Cox, 18, managed to book himself a cheap £19 ticket for the journey north but discovered the cheapest fare home was £47. An open return would have cost him £97.70. He decided to look for an alternative way to get home.

Following some online research he discovered he could save money on the rail ticket if he included a flight via Berlin in Germany. The ticket would normally have cost £47.00 by train and taken 3½ hours. By going via Berlin it took him an extra 1,017 miles and 13 hours to get home. It also included a quick tour of Berlin.

(Photo: Jordan Cox)

Valentine’s Day!

Today let’s talk about Valentine’s Day! In case you didn’t know it is on February 14th. It is celebrated in many countries around the world. These days it is pretty commercial. Known also as St Valentine’s Day it is associated with love! Valentine’s Day symbols include heart shapes, doves and the figure of a winged cupid.

In Britain in the 18th century handwritten greeting cards were sent. Lovers also expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, and confectionary. By 1900 handwritten cards had given way to mass-produced greeting cards; all these traditions still continue. Nowadays lovers also send SMS messages and email cards. A dozen red roses remain a popular gift to send your lover.

Great Scott Marty! DeLoreans to come back to the future and be rebuilt!

Great Scott Marty! DeLoreans are coming back to the future to be rebuilt! The famous DeLorean sports car made famous by the movie franchise Back to the Future is set to go back into production more than 33 years since the last one was built.

The rights to the DeLorean name are now owned by the Texas-based DeLorean Motor Company (not related to the original). It sells refurbished DeLoreans. However, due to a change in US laws, the cars no longer satisfy modern safety regulations, so as long as no fewer than 325 are made each year, the company will now be able to build the Delorean as well. One executive described this as a ‘game changer!’

Where to retire?

Today, let’s talk about where we might like to retire to. There are many thoughts on this subject, which this lesson will hopefully explore.

Most of us look forward to the day when we can sit back and retire. However, where should you retire to? Will it be a place by the sea? Perhaps you might like to live in a country cottage or in a house up a mountain.

Years ago many Brits living in cities favoured retiring to places like Bognor Regis, Margate or Blackpool because a place by the sea is what many dreamed of. Over the last 30 years or so many Brits retired to Spain. The weather is good - with 300 days of sunshine.

Remembering David Bowie

Today let’s talk about music legend David Bowie. The singer died in New York on the 10th January 2016 at the age of 69 following an 18 month battle with liver cancer.

Bowie had kept his illness a secret from his fans; only his family and a few close friends actually knew. He told them that he wanted to be remembered for the good times and his music. Shortly after his death he was secretly cremated in New York without any of his family or friends present ‘without fuss’ – no big show, no fan-fare.

Great British Inventions

Today, let’s talk about great British inventions. There are many. We will look at a few of them.

The jet engine was invented by a chap called Frank Whittle from Coventry. He was fighter pilot. Whittle realised that piston powered flight was old technology. He designed the gas turbine ‘turbo-jet’ in 1930. Thwarted by the military it wasn’t until 1941 that his jet idea took off in the form of a Gloster E28/39 for a 17 minute flight.

Tin cans used for baked beans and vegetables were invented by a man called Peter Durand. He copied the preserved food in a glass jar idea that Frenchman Nicholas Appert had created, doing it this time with a tin can. The first commercial canning factory was opened in England in 1813.

Climate Change

Recently in Paris UN negotiators met to discuss climate change. Delegates wanted to discuss policies to keep a global temperature rise to below 2°C.

Is such a meeting just a lot of hot air and false promises? The last such meeting two years ago in Warsaw proved to be exactly this! Will the UN negotiators actually negotiate a meaningful policy this time round that all nations in the world will keep? Judge for yourself on this point.

Scientists have warned us that temperatures could rise by 5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. The meeting of world leaders in Paris hopes to contain this to below 2°C. They pledged to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.