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Are drones the beginning or the end?

Annually, millions of drones are sold worldwide for purposes commercial and military-related. Whilst being one of the most innovative and useful inventions of the 21st Century, drones also pose a serious threat to our Earth as we know it. Opinion is extremely divided regarding this hot topic, with police forces already devising methods to stop rogue drones from roaming the skies. However, many companies, such as Google, are using drones to their advantage. So, without further ado, let’s begin . . .

Like most things, I shall proceed by giving the negatives before I even give positivity and hope a look-in. Militarily, drones are an army’s greatest weapon, the highly precise nuclear bomb of our age. There are US soldiers who fly drones during the day in the Middle East from their computer HQ in a US army base, kill their targets, then return home for dinner with their families. For the drone pilots, all they need to do is fly a plane from the comfort of a swivelling chair and execute without putting themselves in any danger whatsoever. The only thing stopping humans from wanting to engage in war is the possibility of being killed – something which goes against our survival instinct. Take away the need to physically put yourself in danger and suddenly we have chaos. Drones are only going to encourage warfare rather than put an end to it.

Drones can be very small, unlike planes, and they can also be very quiet. They can silently hover into homes through an open window or into our backyards. Drones can see us, hear us and record us at any given time. Some drones are even so advanced that they have the ability to monitor the WiFi signal and manipulate our phones and devices. In the not too far off future they will also be capable of controlling cars simply by surveying them from above.

Despite these dangerous possibilities it is important to also acknowledge the incredible usages for drones. Amazon has come public with a plan to use drones as a means of delivering packages and Google is currently embarking on the secretive Project Skybender – one which includes solar-powered drones beaming high-speed internet back to Earth using high-frequency millimetre wave transmitters. This would, in theory, transmit data forty times faster than 4G.

Moreover, drones could be used to transport medicine to remote villages and towns in suffering countries fast enough to save a vast amount of lives. Often the problem is that a charity manages to compile the medicine necessary but has no means efficient enough to get the goods there in time. Matternet, an altruistic company, is building up a network at the moment in order to tackle this issue. In addition, plans to use drones to deliver hospital equipment to victims when an ambulance won’t make it fast enough are currently under way.

Drones are also being used for good in that scientists are using them to monitor the environment. Drones can be sent up into the air to test air quality, and NASA uses them to test the makeup of the ozone layer.

In my opinion it seems clear that drones are revolutionary. In the next decade drones will have taken over the world (perhaps slightly dramatic of me). Despite the threats drones pose they undeniably also act as a means to bring about a lot of good in the world. They are a double-edged sword. Only time will tell which edge of the sword will be more prevalent in our world.

What do you think on the matter? Post your replies below!

Historical Hysteria: best events to have witnessed

This is a short post mainly because my response will only be one side of a coin, and cannot cover the whole of history. After reading this I encourage you to ask someone else what historical event they would love to have witnessed, and what events they’ve witnessed that people of the future will look back and wish they’d seen firsthand? Let’s get this historical conversation rolling . . .

  1. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ
  2. The immaculate(?) conception of Jesus Christ
  3. A miracle performed by Jesus Christ (was it the real deal?)
  4. An evening at the Palace of Versailles under the rule of King Louis XV 
  5. Christopher Columbus’ first trip to the New World 
  6. Apollo 11’s moon landing
  7. Gladiatorial show in Ancient Rome
  8. Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
  9. Be an attendant at one of the infamous dinner parties Plato wrote about
  10. Socrates’ trial
  11. Be in the recording studio as The Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  12. The stock market crash of 1929
  13. Woodstock festival
  14. King Charles I’s execution
  15. The Big Bang
  16. The first creature/ life form being created
  17. Dinosaurs roaming on Earth
  18. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I have a dream’ speech
  19. The birth of Google 
  20. Listen to the fluent Latin conversations in Ancient Rome 

This list barely scratches the surface, but are just a few (somewhat generic) things I would love to have witnessed.

How about you?

What’s the deal with haikus?

If you went to primary school in the UK (not sure how it works in other countries), chances are you spent multiple lessons here and there writing Japanese Haiku poems. Yes they were fairly fun to create – in part due to the fact that it wasn’t the most taxing of exercises – and yes they did mean you could put the times tables to one side for just a moment. But after the finished product, I always felt mightily disappointed. Perhaps I am not a natural haiku-ist (?), but I do believe that haikus work a lot better when written in Japanese. The only English haiku I have properly appreciated was one written by my friend Sabrina:

Haiku’s just begun

Oh no not another one

Don’t worry, it’s done

Short but sweet, and coincides with my feelings of mild dislike towards English haikus.

Japanese haikus traditionally each contain a kigo, a word or phrase which symbolises the season of the poem, which is taken from the saijiki, a detailed list of such words. Moreover, these haikus usually contain two juxtaposing images in order to create rich and imaginative imagery. When reading Japanese haikus (given without the characters because I am yet to learn Japanese) phonetically the words roll off the tongue and do sound rather beautiful.

fu-ru-i-ke ya (5)

ka-wa-zu to-bi-ko-mu (7)

mi-zu-no-o-to (5)

Translation: old pond . . .

                           a frog leaps in

                          water’s sound

But it seems to me undeniable that something vital has been lost in translation… so why do us English-speaking haiku-attempters continue attempting the futile? A short poem not restricted to 5/7/5 syllables would suit the long-worded English language a lot more in my opinion.

I can’t help but feel that haikus are a fad which caught on despite being quite unspectacular (like, say, artisanal condiments). But I suppose I am rather biased because I enjoy poems with a little more meat on their bones.

What do you think of haikus?

Thought-provoking questions to ask yourself

Bored at 2am the other night I looked up what life’s unanswered questions are (in a blog post I read, it included things like: Can you cry underwater? If a person owns a piece of land, do they own it to the centre of the earth? If the FBI breaks your down do they have to pay for it? Ya know, the usual). But then I stumbled upon a blog post entailing a list of thought-provoking questions that everyone should ask themselves. So I asked myself. And I asked a couple of my friends. Here are their responses to these 10 questions:

1.If you could send a message to the entire world, what would you say in 30 seconds?

Laura: Literally no clue – let me get back to you!

Sabrina: Be more forgiving and think less about yourself and more about others.

Sara: As the next generation of world leaders we need to talk about racial profiling and police brutality; we need to talk about politicians capitalising on fear and hate, and we need to empower women and the disabled. By increasing the dialogue and raising our voices, we can move forward and learn from the mistakes of the past.

2. If today was the last day of your life, what would you want to do?

Laura: Have my closest friends and family members over for a big Korean meal.

Sabrina: Go to the place where I spent all my summers growing up and return for one more day there with my family.

Sara: I have always wanted to visit Costa Rica, so going there for the day with my family would be the dream!

3. If your entire life was a movie, what title would best fit?

Laura: ‘Live, Love, Loz’

Sabrina: Ah no this is so hard! Umm… ‘Don’t Stop Believing?’ (?!)

Sara: I’m sorry I have no clue – need to get back to you on that!

4. What are the chances you’ve passed up on that you regret?

Laura: I regret not pursuing one of my hobbies (like piano or tennis) to a really impressive standard when I was younger (ie. I regret not pushing myself to be a child prodigy).

Sabrina: Not taking Art for GCSE or A-Level and not speaking to my grandfather on the phone before he died.

Sara: I slightly regret not carrying on with karate as I got to a high level at a young age. I think it was the right decision to quit but it would have been interesting to see how far I could have gone.

5. If you could ask a single person one question, and they had to answer truthfully, who and what would you ask?

Laura: I’d ask Jesus if he was the real deal.

Sabrina: I’d ask Bill Murray what he whispered to Scarlett Johansson at the end of Lost in Translation (it was never written in the script!).

Sara: I’m super interested in Russian politics so I would ask Putin about his game plan. Specifically, I would ask him about Crimea and whether he plans further annexation, or how long he can afford sanctions and justify his actions to the population given the state of the economy. I basically want to know how he plans to balance an outward display of power with inner economic uncertainty or whether indeed he has a plan.

6. When was the last time you tried something new?

Laura: Yesterday – I wore pure red eyeshadow out (not to be repeated).

Sabrina: Too long ago.

Sara: I travelled to very different places this summer – areas of real poverty and areas with people of completely different mindsets. I enjoyed the challenge of understanding a new community so unlike my own, whilst gaining a new global and political perspective.

7. What were you doing when you last lost track of the time?

Laura: Listening to music.

Sabrina: Dancing.

Sara: Sailing.

8. Favourite movie and book?

Laura: Movie I’d say ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ and book would have to be ‘Disgrace’ by J. M. Coetzee.

Sabrina: At this moment in time ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac and ‘Good Will Hunting’ or ‘Lost in Translation’ (although there are so many amazing books and films I haven’t seen or read yet!)

Sara: ‘The History Boys’ is my favourite film at the moment and ‘We the animals’ by Justin Torres is my favourite book.

9. If you could have personally witnessed anything, what would you want to have seen?

Laura: The Rolling Stones’ legendary concert on Copacabana Beach, Rio (2006).

Sabrina: Such a good question! Hard to narrow down, but: the bringing down of the Berlin Wall, the 1965 party at Ken Kesey’s house with the Pranksters and Hell’s Angels, and, though sinister, the falling of the Twin Towers.

Sara: Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech would have been incredible to see. I also would love to have seen the dynamic in Henry VIIIth’s court (slightly obsessed with the Tudors) or to have seen a Roman gladiatorial show.

10. What question do you hate to answer?

Laura: “Can you tell me something interesting about yourself?”

Sabrina: Most questions – I hate saying the wrong thing and am very indecisive!

Sara: Mostly I hate being repeatedly asked the logic behind certain decisions, especially if they are personal or concrete. Oh and I also don’t like being asked what I want to be when I’m older.

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