Sorry been very quiet for a while. Between moving house and work bla bla bla, excuses.

So as the American election is in full swing and the candidate I most wanted to win is out (Bernie Sanders) I thought I'd do a post on the closest thing to my political views. This was prompted by several discussions with work colleagues and friends.

So If you had to pen my views into a corner (everyone seems to want to label everyone) I would most closely associate my views with Libertarianism.

Now I live in Northern Ireland and honestly I doubt most people here have heard of Libertarianism never mind actually ever thought about themselves as such, so before I say any more I want to briefly go into what Libertarianism is.

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that takes individual liberty to be the primary political focus. It is best understood as a form of liberalism. 

These include 

  • The right to life
  • Liberty
  • Private property
  • Freedom of speech and association
  • Freedom of worship (yes I'm an Atheist but I won't stop someone from worship)
  • Government by consent
  • Equality under law
  • Moral autonomy (the pursuit of your own view of happiness, or the "good life")

Seems pretty good right, lots of common sense. However, there isn't any main political party in the UK or America that's actually like this. There are some American states that have elected officials that are libertarian but it's a drop in the ocean. So why isn't there any major Libertarian governments, well lots of reasons: 

Money is the main one. The decentralisation of governments means less to almost no taxes. The people who want the government to support them (you know the ones, never go to work, want a free house and money weekly just for existing like the world owes them a favour).

Sadly Libertarian government in the UK simply couldn't work it would never get into power. The rich want Capitalism to rein and to keep the gap between the rich and poor so wide as to be insurmountable to all but a few. The people who are totally reliant on benefits wouldn't vote cause who would pay for them?

Oh, point Libertarianism means you really don't want to pay taxes for stuff you don't want to. Or shouldn't have to. 

Basically, I reject the way our government collects revenue I mean it's a case of your born here now pay taxes or get thrown in Jail. I think at some point in the future we are going to look back on this as barbaric. Like slavery or arranged marriages, everyone was ok with it till a few people pointed out it was wrong and inefficient. Now we look back on it with shame and disgust. At some point, I think tax will be the same. Who has the right to say hey give me money or I put you in a cage?

I mean yes we need law's and government; people to enforce those said laws. It's easy to say ok you're a murder, lock em up. You're a Rapist, lock em up. You're a child molester, lock em up with the rapist and murder in the same cell etc, however, is it ok for to say, throw someone in jail who refuses to pay tax to say fund a war they don't believe in?  I say no. Morally this is a conundrum that modern society faces.

I don't have the answer nor do I believe that a society based totally upon the rules of Libertarianism has all the answers either. What I do know is that people are not happy in general, most don't even know why or what they can do about it. I do think things will change. I believe that although the American Elections have been a bit of a reality tv experience a lot of people have come to realise that actually we aren't happy with the system. We like the US are not happy with only 2 main parties and the US or them mentality. Yes, there is still a lot of people like that. Northern Ireland is a prime example. DUP or SF. Most people don't even know what the party policies are they just don't want the other to win. 

How can we possibly progress as a country as a species if we keep up this tribalism? I've totally gone off track now and I'm on the soapbox. But really the DUP are as unliberal as it gets and I was technically raised a Prod. Gay marriage does it hurt anyone? nope then why stop someone? Actually, I'm going to stop here as I've gone completely off track. However you get the point, I don't think how it's done currently is right and I know what I'd like to see change.

Oh and to those who think we need a strict form of government I give you Morpheus 


Till the next time.

So have you ever wondered why planets and stars are spherical and galaxies are disks?

Well maybe or maybe not. Hopefully if you haven't and I've asked the question now you're wondering?

So the good news is, I wasn't the first person to ask this question. Someone far smarter than me has already figured it out and this question came to me when I was in school and I never did get a clear answer. It jumped into my head the other day and I went looking for the answer.

So as with all things, it comes down to physics, 

2 Key principles.

  1. Equilibrium
  2. Symmetry

Let's start with Equilibrium. Everything tries to reach this, even building a house or a bridge. The forces in play ultimately reach it, gravity up and down etc. The idea being all the forces in play all cancel each other out at this point a shape remains fixed. Its the symmetry of the forces at play that decides the final shape.

Let's talk about Symmetry. So for things like Planets and Stars you have spherical symmetry. Ie you can turn them any which way and the shape from all angels is the same. Things like Galaxies and Solar Systems have circular symmetry, so you can rotate them on the same Axis and it remains the same shape but try tilting or flipping them and the shape changes.

But how does a force have symmetry? This honestly baffled me for a bit.

Ok so in the case of all the really big space stuff... the main force is gravity. So lets start with that. 

(here comes the maths bit)

Newton's law of universal gravitation tells us that 


  • F is the force between the masses;
  • G is the gravitational constant (6.674×10−11 N · (m/kg)2);
  • m1 is the first mass;
  • m2 is the second mass;
  • r is the distance between the centers of the masses.

Or in layman's terms the further away from an object you are the weaker the force of gravity. But here is the critical bit. It drops of equally in all directions. So Gravity has spherical symmetry. 

Ok so Gravity will in theory make a sphere, but that's not the only force at play.

So lets take Earth.

Its roughly spherical (i'm getting to why it isn't a perfect ball soon), it's held together by its own gravitational field, which is handy as it holds all of us down as well.

So the closer you are to the Earth's core the more you will feel the effect of gravity.

Lets play lego earth

Imagine each of these blocks are like lego. the top block is the crust, the next 3 are in the mantle, then the outer core and finally the inner core. The closer each of these blocks are to the middle the stronger the gravity.

Now also Imagine each of these blocks are being squeezed by gravity this will create  lot of pressure and this resists gravity and actually provides an up force as its very hard to compress depending on the material beyond a certain point.


This balances out with Gravity and reaches an equilibrium. so a lego block in the middle of earth would have equal force going both up and down. So you can kind of think of the planet as a bit like a web of lego blocks

Ok cool but then why do these blocks form a sphere as they could easy make a disk shape?

Well pressure does the same thing as gravity but the opposite direction. Gravity pulls towards itself equally in all directions so pressure pushes away equally in all directions

So all though out the lego bloc's are all push against each other all with equal for and cancelling each other out, we have equilibrium.

Now earth is not completely spherical due to the fact that the pressures and gravity are not the only forces acting on it. The earth spins and this spin creates a centrifugal force that tries to flatten out earth.

Infact the equator of the earth is 20Km further away from the core than the poles. This accounts as to why earth is not a perfect sphere. 

Now these rules do seem to have a minimum size requirement of about 1000km radius. Thus why Asteroids are all misshapen and moons are not.

Stars follow the same rules as planets just on a much much larger scale!

So this begged the question to me. With galaxies being so massive and the force of gravity being so huge. Why are galaxies and solar systems not round?

So galaxies have supermassive black holes in their centre. These spin very very fast and everything orbits these massively dense objects in their galaxy.

The centrifugal force of the rotation of the galaxy and the gravity work together to both spin and squash everything into a disc

Solar systems are the same with the parent star spinning rapidly before the planets are even formed.

So to summarise.

Spheres happen when pressure is the dominant force over gravity. Pressure seeks equilibrium spherically. Disks happen when Orbital motion or centrifugal force is the dominant force over gravity. It seeks equilibrium in the form of a disk.

Well done if you made it to the bottom!

Comments welcome  

Do you know the difference between believing in something and knowing something?

Do you know the difference between believing in something and knowing something? Think about this question. I was asked this on Friday night by Martin Sensei at Aikido.

At the time he was making a point about Aikido and life, it got me thinking and its something I think at some point i'd like to delve into further at some point with him as he has a very unique outlook on life.

Check out his website at his blog is very interesting reading

Now at the time I answered this. Believing something means you think you can do it. Knowing something means you can or have tested it. Now that i've put more thought into that I'd like to look into it more thoroughly.

Lets pick an area I am confident in. Science specifically Gravity.

Do you Believe in Gravity or do you know Gravity exists. Well the nice thing about Gravity is believe in it or not, it doesn't matter its there and its testable and reliable. You drop a hammer it hits the floor, at no point will it decide to fly into the air or off into space unless you have changed the test. 

Ok that was easy. How about something more obscure. (I'm leaving religion out of this today we know my thoughts on that)

Let's say you take a job. When you take the job you are told work hard and work well and if the company is doing well you will get a bonus.

So you work hard all year, put in the extra hours. Get them extra sales in whatever. You hear the company is doing well, stocks are up and it's that time of the year of pay rises and bonuses. You Believe you have worked hard, you believe you are getting that bonus.

Every time the phone rings or email lands on your desk you twitched nervously. Day after day passed. No call, no envelope, no bonus. Perhaps you had got it all wrong. The next day a Private & Confidential email arrives inside the mail an encrypted file and a password sent on a 2nd email. You open the attached file and boom there's your bonus. Now you no longer believe you are getting a bonus you know you are.

Martin had a better way of explaining his thoughts

‘Believing’ means that you have chosen a truth, but ‘knowing’ means that you are certain about that truth.
‘Believing’ always leaves room for doubt, but ‘knowing’ leads to confidence.
— Martin Acton Sensei

Aikido with Martin is not just about self defence it's about opening your mind and knowing yourself. 

I leave with this final thought

‘Believing’ is blind trust, while ‘knowing’ is trusting with awareness.
— Rays random thoughts

Gravitational waves

So this is very exciting! Today Scientists at  LIGO have came forward and claim to have evidence of Gravitational Waves.

This is awesome news, it is the missing piece is Einstein's Theory of Relativity  and proves what we have been able to agree on but has been very difficult to test.

Ok so what is a gravitational wave? not everyone wants to read the general theory of relativity.

In short its a ripple in space time/fabric of the universe. It warps Gravity around an object. The larger the mass of the object the larger the Gravity. The larger the gravity the larger the ripple in space time as it moves throughout space. 

The Verge have a good you tube video on this.

So because we need really massive objects in space to detect the waves, though even waving your hand will make Gravitational waves is so small it is with today's technology currently undetectable, we need to look at things like Pulsars and Black Holes.

The Video explains it better than I can. 

So this opens up a whole new area of Astrophysics and would mean in time we can observe black holes!

Totally fascinating!


How to find the North Star in the UK and other things of interest in the night sky

Astronomy is one of my favourite hobbies. As far back as humans have walked the earth we have looked to the stars and wondered.

I find nothing so mind opening than on a dark night or early morning before the sun rises to look up at the sky view the stars and wonder.

Wonder about the meaning of it all, wonder if someone is looking back. It's a view to the past, which some people have difficulty in grasping but not something I will talk about today.

So to the topic at hand. The North Star or Polaris as is its proper name, because eventually with gravity and the earth's tilt it will not be pointing to the North forever. About 12000 years from now Vega will be the north star. I'm getting side tracked

So the first thing to find the North Star is actually very easy. Find Ursa Major (the Big Dipper)

Ursa Major

Ursa Major

So from here you draw a line from Marek and Dubhe (the stars on the right) straight up till you find Ursa Minor (the little dipper)

Simple as that. If it's in front of you, you are going north.

So what else is cool to see in the night sky?

Well the planets are always awesome but its not really possible to explain where they are as above cause well they orbit the sun like ourselves.

See the following link on how to see the planets one thing to note. Planets are brighter than stars when viewed from Earth (Sun excluded smart ass) 

Orion is another easy to spot constellation and is normally high in the sky all winter long.



Its very easy to see like this why it is called the Hunter!

It also has some of the largest and brightest stars in the sky.

The large star which on a clear night is red is called Betelgeuse. Its a red super giant star and its possible is already went super nova and the light hasn't reached us yet or it soon will.

The star on the bottom right is called Rigel. It is the brightest star on Orion and is a Blue/White supergiant. To put it in context it is 120000 times brighter than our sun and vastly more massive.

At this Scale Jupiter the most massive planet in our Solar system is about 2 pixels and the Earth is too small to see

At this Scale Jupiter the most massive planet in our Solar system is about 2 pixels and the Earth is too small to see

The famous Horsehead Nebula is also in Orion but you need a very powerful telescope to see it.

How amazing is this 

How amazing is this 

This has been very picture heavy but I can't help but love these images and wish I could myself go among the stars and explore, to quote one of my heroes

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
— Carl Sagan

To to finish I leave you this video of the scale of the universe and again to quote another of my heros

“I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up—many people feel small, because they’re small and the Universe is big, but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars.”
— Neil deGrasse Tyson

I'd love you to be as excited and amazed as I am by all this. Comments welcome.

Racism, Equality and Social justice

Heavy Subject. Right so lets begin. I'm a white male, working in a middle class IT job for the stock market.

So lets face it i've been given a silver spoon as far as many people would see it. I've not had to deal with sexism, racism and as far as the social ladder goes well i'm good.

Ok so lets get the cat out of the bag. Let's get my views out there. 

I am not a feminist I am a humanist.  Links included to general overview. Basically I agree that Women in general are still discriminated against in certain areas. However most hardline feminists wasnt want women to become the equivalent in my eyes of what men were in the early 19th century. I don't believe this is right and two wrongs do not make a right. In fact I believe everyone should be treated equally regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation or religion (though we have already established in my previous blog I think religion is a no go) 

Ok so that seems fair, probably unrealistic due to the fact nearly everyone wants to have power in some way. I have two daughters and I want to think they will have the same opportunities as everyone else out there. I also expect my sons to have exactly the same chance. 

So what about racism, you're a white male you have probably never experienced racism in your life living in Northern Ireland. I could pull thats a racist comment and I am offended by that. (Really wish everyone would stop being offended by everything now) Right racism isn't cool. Black, White, whatever I will be cool with anyone. I work with people of all colours of skin, I don't treat them any different. I know it happens with other people and you can try to educate these people. Sometimes it works, sometimes they are so enamored with it they either can't or don't want to see any other way. Thats sad, often it isn't their fault its just where they grew up and the social circle they ended up in.  

So what about people's sexual orientation I mean people hate gay people or transgender people. Let's set this one straight (pun intended) I don't give a monkeys about it, I am just as uncomfortable sitting in a train with two straight people eating the face of the other as I do seeing two gay people eating the face of the other. Get a room lol. No really what ever you do in the bedroom is up to you. So long as children are not involved and it's consensual.

I do have one thing I am really finding hard to agree with. I've seen and heard but thankfully not had to deal with anyone wanting a gender-neutral pronoun if you are a he then your Mr. if you are a she, then Miss or Mrs. If you have both bits pick one but stick to it. The idea of someone asking to be called Ze or Zhe because you want your spelling to be different or some other noun is just insanity to me. I'm a very liberal guy but honestly this smacks of attention seeking. Just stop it.


So that's the perspective of the un-oppressed, white, male, middle class, straight guy who if you're sending me a letter wants Mr as my prononun says.  

Feel free to comment.

Star Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens

So lets just get it out there. I love Star Wars, Yes I was there on premier night at 12:01am to see the opening in Northern Ireland with my big fella Craig. 

So what did I think?

Love it!

It's been over 6 weeks since release so clearly if you haven't seen it by now you either don't care or have been in the Antarctic. So if you are the latter SPOILER ALERT.

So over all story, many people have said its a rerun of episode 4. 

They are pretty much right, but lets consider Episode 4. Luke parent less (yes he lives with Aunt and Uncle) lives on a planet covered in sand. Episode 1 Anakin single parent mother with what we are told is emaculate conception, lives on a planet covered in sand. Episode 7 Rey abandoned on a planet covered in sand to fend for herself. All similar but slightly different. I'm quiet ok with this being the start of the story as the other trilogies have done exactly the same.

I'm not going to deep dive on this blog who I think Rey's parents are or who they could be. Thats a post all on its own.

Fin. Well developed character, loved his back story. Really believable character and I did like the idea of a Stormtrooper who was force sensitive. Shame he wasn't or not shown to be so far.

Han Solo. Man I'm still gutted about that, seen it coming and had the scene of the movie with Kylo on the bridge. He has been cast for episode 8. I do clearly think he is dead so probably flash backs.

Chewbacca. Finally! he has more screen time and we get to see how kickass the star wars techy really is. There is a reason the bowcaster is OP in battlefront.

Kylo Ren. Ok frankly the first time I seen the movie I was like man get outa here he was emo Anakin. The next time I seen it I paid more attention to him and I can now say. Adam Driver well played man. He was brilliant. You see the conflict in him and you feel it. FYI for those that say Fin and Rey beat him. Honestly how could they not. Half the film was spent showing how much of a weapon of d00m chewys bowcaster was. Multiple stormtroopers where flung across the screen and dead in a pile with a single shot. Kylo took it and it gave him a fucking limp. he then procceded to kick Fin's ass 1 on 1 and then take on an Awakened Rey. They barely survived Kylo half dead what the hell they going to do to him when he is 100% and more training?

Stormtroopers? Yay! they hit stuff and where all you ever wanted them to be! Plus TR-8R and his Baton of awesomeness stole the show as a complete oh wow moment. Shame he died,more of this please!

Ok so overall story I got into, Starkiller base was the only criticism I had because its was deathstar Mk3 yes I could nit pick a lot but overall Star Wars is back baby. Lets bring on the next 4/5 Movies Disney do.

Actually on that Thank you Disney! You have given Marvel and Star Wars new life and the rule of the Geek at the box office is reality. 

So Network Engineering....

So network engineering.. what's the craic with that?

What is it? What kind of person does it? Does it even matter anymore?

So lets try to answer these.

What is network engineering? that's a loaded question, lets break it down to your not in IT and it just sounds funny, explain it. 

Well my way to explain it is we build, maintain and control virtual roads. Frankly there is more to it than that but in a nut shell that's it.

Now unlike roads you drive on made generally of tarmac, these roads don't really exist most of the time and are virtual even within a virtual world. Confused yet? Imagine a road, now imagine potentially hundreds of other roads on top and to the side of it all of which are linked and have traffic lights, police checks, fast lanes, diversions and lots of other bits to it. Now you start to grasp the basics. Then you have to worry about the cars (packets) the passengers and whats in the boot. 

That's pretty much a poor overview but the I can manage without getting all geeky!

So who does this kind of mainly thankless yet technical job? 

Well I do :P Generally most people in my experience who do network engineering have a certain set of traits.

We all like things just so (not OCD just don't move that there it belongs there....). It just works is not a valid explaination. Documentation is someone elses job till we need it! We expect yet know that no one else understands or cares what we do. As far as IT people go its black magic!

So with the cloud now does your job even matter?

Duh the cloud is just a data centre ran by network engineers among other teams. However we are now needing to be skilled in scripting and virtualisation. For me this is a work in progress and I may well blog on this from time to time.

Comments? Welcome to comment I will try to reply when I can.