Saturday 24 March 2018

Nuclear Holocaust

Whenever I see Donald Trump, two thoughts come to mind. The first I have ranted about on this blog so many times that I am not going to elaborate – basically the man is not fit for the office of President of the United States.

The second is a corollary of that sentiment – this man has the power to launch nuclear weapons at anybody who pisses him off.

While this seems unlikely, I think his words might just spark other lunatics to do just that – Kim Jong Un for example, a man who lives in fear of being toppled either by his own people or external forces. The recent war of words with the USA made me consider what would happen if Kim Jong Un were to launch an attack. Trump said he would be met with fire and fury like the world had never seen before.

Happy days, eh?

Equally, we have Vladimir Putin, a so-called democratically elected leader of a huge country with a nuclear arsenal that could annihilate most of Europe and the USA. Recent events in my own country, the poisoning of one of his own former spies on British soil, lead to retaliatory measures from our own government which were made with the barely veiled warning – “Do not threaten a nuclear power”.

The UK is also a nuclear power, with a smaller nuclear arsenal so we could retaliate and trigger World War 3.

With all of these threats looming, and other slightly mad and dictatorial leaders trying to acquire nuclear weapons, the future isn’t looking too good.

Some people say that owning nuclear weapons makes it unlikely that a nuclear holocaust will ever happen for fear of the devastating reprisals. But I say that it only takes one nutter to do something stupid and there are a few of them knocking around.

If World War 3 were to kick off, the initial attack would result in the annihilation of many major cities, wiping out the residents of those cities immediately.

The population of the world would be severely reduced and if you think the survivors would be lucky to escape then think again. Any towns and cities in the vicinity of the numerous detonations would not escape unscathed, simply because the aftermath of being close to a nuclear explosion would almost certainly eventually prove to be fatal. The survivors would almost certainly envy those killed immediately.

Residual radioactive material would be thrust into the upper atmosphere with winds spreading this over a great distance as it gradually fell back to Earth upon unsuspecting people who think they are safe.

Some people would die quickly while others would live longer but eventually succumb to the devastating effects.

Any people still surviving the nuclear fallout will still have problems. When a bomb explodes in the city it will hurl tons of debris into the atmosphere, so much in fact that it will block sunlight. Imagine this happening for numerous cities bombed across the globe; the amount of crap blasted into the atmosphere will be immense and the winds will also scatter this over great distances causing what is known as a nuclear winter. The global climate would be severely affected for at least a decade with soot being distributed over great distances by our wonderful winds.

For those who survived that there is also the prospect of a nuclear famine. A nuclear winter would affect agriculture for any survivors ultimately causing massive food shortages amongst the few people remaining.

The bottom line is that if there were a full scale nuclear war then we as a species and our animal colleagues will almost certainly face the prospect of total extinction. Of course it depends on how many weapons are used and the number of places that are annihilated.

If Putin or Trump or any potential psychopath thinks that unleashing a nuclear holocaust to save his own country then he is severely mistaken.

If you are interested, and have a morbid curiosity, you can simulate the effects of a nuclear detonation on your city using something called NUKEMAP (you can find it here). This gruesome web site allows you to specify a city and the size of the bomb and find out the extent of the fireball radius, the air blast radius and the thermal radiation radius.

Living only 5 miles from the centre of Manchester, I would be killed almost immediately if any bombs were to drop – a blessing in disguise I guess because I wouldn’t know what hit me.

Equally disturbing is MISSLEMAP which allows you to check the range and accuracy of the weapons of mass destruction in the world (you can find it here).

Again the UK is fully in range of anything launched from Russian soil so again I am right in the firing line.

Basically, my opinion is that if one or more nutters start a nuclear war then we are fucked even if we are lucky enough to be on a remote island at the time.

Sunday 18 March 2018

10 Years

I’m interrupting my End of the World series of posts to highlight a little milestone in my life.

Wednesday 21st March is the 10th Anniversary of “The Plastic Mancunian”.

Yes, that’s right – I have been posting inane drivel on this blog for ten years.

Can you believe that?

On Friday March 21st, 2008, I wrote and posted my first tiny little missive about the trauma involved in supporting a third rate football team called Walsall.

Although it wasn’t a particularly auspicious subject, sadly the same sentiment rings true today. I still support Walsall Football Club, my home town team, and they are still shit, threatening to ruin Saturday afternoons for me in the football season with their sometimes totally inept performances. Sometime, however, they do me proud and actually win games.

Enough of that nonsense – I don’t want to depress myself.

So what has happened to the blog since that first post?

Basically, I‘ve written 720 posts (including this one), mainly involving small essays. I have ranted mercilessly about things I don’t like, tried my best to introduce my wonderful musical taste to the world, talked about my travel exploits and skirted around the things that have popped in and out of my life.

Some of it has been funny, some of it has been controversial and some of it has been rubbish.

I’ve steered away from certain subjects such as my job. One day, when I finally quit or retire, I will let rip about my career – there is a lot of material there – but for now that subject is taboo – lest I get into trouble. I think that deserves a blog in its own right to be honest.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand; I have enjoyed writing these mini articles – even the bad ones.

The truth is that in the last few months I have been debating whether or not to call it a day – and the bad news is that I have decided, for now at least, to carry on for a while.

I’ve enjoyed the interactions with people from across the globe; UK, America, Australia, Europe and even places like Russia – it’s a truly global thing.

I’m also happy to have stamped a little of my inner thoughts on the vast universe of the internet – even though future generations might put me down as being a bit of a goon.

I don’t care really.

So what’s changed in 10 years?

I have become older, wiser, fatter and more grumpy but, ironically more happy with life. My work still irks me but now I can see the light at the end of a long and frustrating tunnel.

My hair is still mad and I now have grey streaks at the side. My eyesight is worse – I now wear varifocals and am even more frustrated about wearing spectacles than I was as a child.

I’ve learned a lot of stuff from reading other blogs – some amazing stuff in fact, written by some very funny and very interesting people with the same desires to put a little bit of themselves out there into cyberspace. You know who you are.

I’ve written about 75% of a rather terrible novel that needs a lot of work but may one day see the light of day (after approximately a thousand rewrites).

I’ve done a fair amount of travelling too, including weird and wonderful places like Brazil, Japan, Canada, USA, Iceland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Oman as well as a lot of European countries.

Mrs PM and I are celebrating 20 years together this year – and I am still a slave to two very old but very demanding moggies. All of them have been with me for the past ten years.

My two boys are now adults – one of whom is travelling to Australia on Friday for what I suspect might be the beginnings of a life-long love of travel. I'm proud of them both.

However, they do make me feel quite old – but I also feel quite young too in a bizarre way. People tell me that I don’t look my age. Judge for yourself.

Here I am in 2008 when the Plastic Mancunian first arrived.

Mrs PM and I in Hong Kong in 2008
And here I am now.

A selfie in Abu Dhabi taken last Friday
Regular readers (if there are any) will probably cringe at this next sentence – here’s a beautifully mellow song by one of my favourite bands to finish off (I love to end on a song). It's by a band called Riverside and is called "Towards the Blue Horizon" and is in many ways quite apt.

I’ll see you soon for the next post which will discuss the next instalment of the End of the World.

Perhaps I should have reconsidered that topic if I'm trying to be positive.

Saturday 10 March 2018


I thought I would have a chat about the end of the world. I’ve done a little research and there are countless ways in which the Earth could be destroyed or suffer such a terrible calamity that there entire human race is wiped out.

I’ve narrowed the list down to ten possibilities – five realistic and five more ridiculous. Over the next few posts I shall attempt to discuss them in my own peculiar way, starting with the realistic ones and heading into weird territory after that.

First up: asteroid collision.

You may have seen the movies Armageddon and Deep Impact which basically have this subject covered. In both films, the Earth is threatened by a huge asteroid and the world combines forces to try to avert catastrophe.

While I enjoyed both films, ultimately they were the kind of film where you have to switch off your brain and enjoy the carnage – otherwise you end up laughing throughout the movie saying things like:

“WHAT? A bunch of oil riggers are going to drill a hole and blow up this asteroid with a nuclear bomb?”

The truth is I am sure that America has a plan to destroy any huge rocks they discover heading towards the Earth; they always manage to save the world across the pond.

But surely their success depends on the size of the approaching asteroid. For example I’ve read about something called a rogue planet and, worse, a rogue star and no bomb will be big enough to destroy either of those, I can tell you.

Basically a rogue planet is something at least the size of our moon that drifts through the galaxy uninfluenced by any star. If such a thing hurtled into our solar system all we could do is hope that one of the outer planets decided to add it to their collection of moons.

We certainly couldn’t destroy it – and even if we could, there would be thousands of smaller pieces all heading towards us each with the power to wipe us out with the same ferocity as the relatively small one that wiped out the dinosaurs all those years ago.

The truth is that I think such a thing is unlikely to happen in our lifetime.

However, if it did, and the asteroid wasn’t a giant planet sized monster, we could try asking it nicely via the medium of a huge explosion whether it would consider joining our little family (the Earth and the Moon); we could guide it into an orbit that would give us something even better to look at during the night time. The downside to this is that, of course with an extra moon, lots of things would happen on Earth.

For example, we would suffer earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes would start to erupt in a cataclysm that would also do some serious damage to humanity across the globe. The new moon itself might also go as far as to cause a mass extinction itself.

If we were to be wiped us out, perhaps the creatures that evolved in a million or so years’ time would look back at our fossilised bones and make a movie called “Quatenaric Park” about humans resurrected from the blood in the stomach of mosquitos from our time, terrorising whoever is in charge of the Earth at the time.

That all sounds a bit silly to be honest doesn’t it?

But the question is, does it sound sillier than plans to build a spaceship and send a bunch of brave volunteers on a one way trip to an Earth-like planet in the Goldilocks Zone of a distant sun? I guess ultimately we will end up doing this anyway – unless we are visited by aliens who help us to sort something out with their local neighbourhoods.

But that is something for another post.

Basically, my opinion is that if a fairly chunky piece of space rock is on collision course with Earth then we are fucked, even if a brave bunch of oil drillers volunteer to blow themselves and the asteroid up with a nuclear bomb.