Boko  haram releases 21 chibok girls to Nigerian government

I have tears. 21 girls released, y’all. I’m so happy for them and their families.

(CNN) — Boko Haram militants handed over 21 Chibok schoolgirls to Nigerian authorities Thursday after a series of negotiations, Nigeria’s government said, in the first mass release of any of the more than 200 girls and women kidnapped from their school two years ago.

The 21 former captives were freed at about 3 a.m. in the northeastern Nigerian town of Banki, near the border with Cameroon, a source close to the negotiations said on condition of anonymity.

Some of the 21 freed girls appear Thursday in Banki, Nigeria, in a photo obtained exclusively by CNN.

They are said to have been among the 276 girls that Boko Haram militants herded from bed in the middle of the night at a school in Chibok in April 2014 — a kidnapping that spurred global outrage.

As many as 57 girls escaped almost immediately, and one was found this spring. Just under 200 remain unaccounted for after Thursday’s release.

September: Chibok girls’ parents react to new Boko Haram video

The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government brokered the deal between the Islamist militant group and the Nigerian government, said Mallam Garba Shehu, spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Negotiations will continue,” he said on Twitter.

Terms of Thursday’s deal were not immediately announced, but no captive Boko Haram fighters were released in exchange for the girls, the source with knowledge of the negotiations said.

After their release, the girls went to meet with the governor of northeastern Nigeria’s Borno state, and they will be taken to the central Nigerian city of Abuja, Borno officials said

100 days of happiness-day 100

It’s officially 2017 from where I am right now. Happy New Year everyone! 

2016 might not ended as I expected but I am ready to welcome this 2017 with a joyful and hopeful heart❤

My 100 days of Happiness challenge has finally ended but this doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop writing. This challenge somehow helped me, again. Because it let me see the good in even the smallest things. 

There’s always a reason to smile, to be happy. And sometimes that happiness just comes from within ourselves. 

Forgive. Forget. Move on. Smile. Be happy. 

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017.

Happy new year

As the year begins,

Embrace the joy of life, and

Behold its wonder.

May your skies be always blue,

And may all your dreams come true.

– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –

Welcome to 2017

Dean and I wish you and your loved ones
a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year

2016-season finale

It happens every January 31st, I find myself in a slight state of shock that the year is over! Where has the time gone?!

 I honestly didn’t have a whole lot to recap this year life has been pretty, uneventful for me, however, I had a LOT of special moments this year to celebrate with my family, mostly my sisters, memories I’ll cherish forever.

For Auld Lang Syne…

2016 was the year my little sister got married, she also turned 30, my big sister became Mummy when she gave birth to my beautiful twin nieces Amber & Harper.  In turn my already, awesome family expanded by 3 awesome new members. There was further celebrations this year when Kevin ended the year championship winner.  Scottish Fiesta ST Champion 2016 

Fun things in 2016 included seeing Beyonce live, a long weekend in Liverpool with Kevin, my sisters Hen weekend and an abundance of good times with friends.

Run things in 2016….well, with no races entered I started the year off with little challenges for myself, I ran 5k everyday in January….and not much else after that, until very recently.  Here’s hoping next year has more to report on in the running category, like a completed marathon perhaps…hopefully.

I’m done with resolutions, let’s be honest who sticks to them after January anyway? 

Worldwide 2016 has been a bit of a riot, still not over Brexit, or Trump but personally uneventful or not I have nothing to complain about, I mean, I kinda wish there had been some foreign travel in there and more running in 2016, but mostly I am so thankful to have enjoyed another year HAPPY, HEALTHY & LOVED.

I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope 2017 brings you an abundance of good health, love and happiness.  

Do you have any New Years resolutions?

What did you do to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017?

I’m Scottish we party hard!  Sláinte Mhath!

Thanks for reading❤️

Happy Hogmanay 😊

Guide to Christmas music 

Modern Christmas has become a confusing mashup of pagan tradition and hedonistic consumerism masquerading as a Christian festival*, so it should come as no surprise that some Christmas music is, at best, “problematical”.

*citation needed

With your indulgence I hereby make the case that, if you want your children to grow up well-adjusted, and without any strange ideas about free will, authority, consent or basic geography, then you won’t let them listen to any Christmas music. At all. Ever.

Exhibit A) Once in Royal David’s City

Four “lowly”s in six verses are indicative of the Victorian obsession with class, but verse three is where it really goes awry:

And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honour and obey,
Love and watch the lowly mother
In whose gentle arms He lay.
Christian children all should be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

Leaving aside the fact that it wasn’t mild obedience that got Jesus tortured and publicly executed by the political elite, let’s take a moment to consider the legacy of centuries of encouraging children to unthinkingly acquiesce to authority within the institution of the Church.

Exhibit B) Baby it’s cold outside

When you absolutely positively have to normalise rape culture in a specifically yuletide fashion, accept no substitute. This song makes “Blurred Lines” look like a thoughtful paean to consent in healthy relationships.

If you get as far as the line “Say what’s in this drink?” and still think he’s just being hospitable, you belong to the Bill Cosby school of seduction technique and you are excused from DJing the Christmas party.

Exhibit C) I Saw Three Ships

Bethlehem is 2,500ft above sea level and 20 miles from any large body of water. You didn’t see three ships. You’re up a mountain. This is the kind of bullshit whitewashing that occurs when Europeans (from the similarly landlocked county of Derbyshire, in this instance) appropriate a Middle-Eastern religion and twist its symbols and mythology in support of an authoritarian system of imperialist government with little regard for basic geography.

Exhibit D) Santa Baby

In religious Christmas music, you get to dismiss all the bits you don’t like by saying “it’s allegorical”. In secular music, there’s less flexibility to sidestep the appalling implications of what is being said.

Exhibit E) Little Donkey

This school nativity staple is a disaster of woolly logic that would be a triumph of style over substance if it weren’t also a shitty song about a donkey. In verse one, we’re on a road and Bethlehem’s in sight. Why, then, are we later following a star? This is like when you’re too busy looking at the GPS to notice you just drove past the inn. If Joseph had just stopped and asked for directions instead of relying on celestial navigation, they might have arrived in time to get a room. Also, if there’s a star, why are the “wise” men “waiting for a sign to bring them here”? Maybe they’re still trying to sail their ships up a mountain?

If they weren’t so busy being mild and obedient, even the kids would point out this is utter bullshit.

Exhibit F) Santa Claus is Coming to Town

If you’re ever wondering how Christmas tipped over the edge from “bastardised religious festival” into “pagan cult of consumer electronics” then look no further than this song about the vengeful Catholic Santa of the Old Testament, embodied with powers of omnipresence (“he sees you when you’re sleeping”), omniscience (“he knows if you’ve been bad or good”) and a sinister hint at omnipotence (“so be good for goodness sake”).

In this song, the fourth member of the Trinity is a third-Century Turkish bishop who sneaks into your house to punish or reward children so impatient to experience supernatural judgement that eternal damnation is just too damn far off. Of all the bullshit with which we coerce our children, this is the absolute worst.

Exhibit G) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Top marks to this carol’s anonymous 16th century authors for getting Satan into the first verse of an otherwise jolly song about rest, merriment, comfort, joy, and a winged serpent who tricks humans into doing wrong so he can torture them in perpetuity.

Exhibit H) It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

A pair of hop-along boots and a pistol that shoots
Is the wish of Barney and Ben,
Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk
Is the hope of Janice and Jen,
Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.

Repeat after me: they’re not stereotypes. They’re examples. Extremely stereotypical examples.

Exhibit I) Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph looks different so he is subjected to bullying in the workplace until he redeems himself by undertaking additional work in a hazardous environment. If you’re not reading this normalisation of out-group hostility as an allegory for white supremacy, you’re part of the problem.

See also

Exhibit J) Away in a Manger

You don’t have to be a hardline disciple of attachment parenting to realise that a feeding trough in a stable filled with semi-domesticated animals is not a place to put a newborn baby, especially in the middle of winter. This is a time for bonding, skin-to-skin contact, and the safe regulation of body temperature. The baby-safety-industrial-complex has worked hard to sell us the idea that babies need cribs, but if there was ever a time for co-sleeping, it’s when you’re sharing your hotel room with livestock.

Happy Holidays

Fantastic film 

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has said she has planned scripts for a total of five Fantastic Beasts films.

The first movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – which marks Rowling’s debut as a screenwriter – is released on 17 November.

A sequel had already been confirmed by Warner Bros, but Rowling made her new announcement at a promotional event in London’s Leicester Square.

She said that she was “pretty sure” the story would unfold over five films.

The Fantastic Beasts film is set in New York, and tells the story of a fictional author mentioned in the Harry Potter stories.

Eddie Redmayne plays the part of the animal-loving Newt Scamander, who lives among New York’s secret community of witches and wizards. The film is set 70 years before Harry Potter reads his book in the Hogwarts school

Funny dogs

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The black hole 

This is the first in a short series on black holes and we start with the falling in.

Ever wondered what would happen if you had the nasty fate of falling into a black hole or what you would see happen if you were at a safe distance watching your friend fall in? Well read on and find out…

To set up the scene we need two characters (or observers as is the language of theoretical physics). I’ve always fantasised about interstellar travel and this site has two authors so i’ll indulge myself. Joe and Mekhi are orbiting a black hole at a safe distance in their spaceship. By safe distance I mean their spaceship is at a stable radius, far enough away from the center of the black hole such that it does not spiral inwards as a result of the hole’s immense gravitational pull. Mekhi has decided she wants to die in the most spectacular way possible, being engulfed by a black hole and Joe, for science’s sake, is very keen to see what happens to Mekhi as she falls in. So, she puts on her spacesuit on to stop her exploding prematurely, waves goodbye to her best friend and exits the spaceship.

[Black Holes have a very large gravitational pull and as such can distort even the paths of photons passing by, in a process called ‘lensing’ causing them to be whipped into an orbit around the black hole which leads to this eerie surrounding glow.]

Right, let’s flash back to special relativity for a moment (get it?). Remember one of the consequences of moving extremely fast? Time dilation. (You can read more about it here). This means, an observer, who watches an other observer travel at a high proportion of the speed of light measures the time between their events to be longer than the travelling observer doesFor example Mekhi is about run a race at a high proportion of light speed and she has  a stopwatch in her pocket. She starts the stopwatch when she starts running and stops it when she finishes the lap. Joe does the same, he starts the stopwatch when Mekhi starts running and stops it when she finishes the lap, all the while sitting still watching. The time measured on Mekhi’s stop watch will be less than the time measured on Joe’s. Remarkable but true, this is time dilation – a consequence of moving very fast. Now let’s get back to general relativity, which is the big theory in the case of Black Holes. Here’s the relevance –  time dilation is also a consequence of a gravitational fields. Time runs slower in strongergravitational fields. If you’re close to a large gravitational mass, the field will be subsequently stronger and your clock will run slower than somebody’s who is not. For example if you spent all your life at the top of a skyscraper, your clock would run slightly (almost negligible but slightly) faster than someone on the ground (closer to the Earth’s center of mass i.e. a stronger gravitational field) – general relativity decides your pay off for enjoying such a wonderful view would be having a slightly shorter life.

So as Mekhi approaches the Black Holes she gets closer and closer to the Black Hole an object with a colossal mass and as such a colossal gravitational field. Think of each tick on Mekhi’s clock (that she carries with her) as an event. When Mekhi and Joe were together in the spaceship the time between Mekhi’s ticks would coincide with the time between Joe’s clicks.  But as she gets closer and closer to the black hole the time between Mekhi’s ticks/events, as measured by Joe, get further and further apart – time dilation. Now there is this special radius that every black hole has called the event horizon. It the radius (or distance) from the center of the black hole at which the gravitational pull is so strong that not even light can escape. The event horizon is determined purely by the mass of the black hole and is given by the equation: r = 2GM/c^2  Where r is the radius (distance), G is the gravitational constant, a fundamental universal constant, c is the speed of light and M is the mass of the black hole. So remember the ticks on Mekhi’s clock coincide with events in Mekhi’s experience for example the blinking of her eyelids or the kicking of her feet as she realises what she has done. As she gets closer and closer to the Black Hole the time Joe measures betweens these events gets longer and longer, it as though Joe essentially sees all Mekhi’s movements go in to hyper slow motion. Now how is Joe receiving this information? He is seeing her and how is he seeing her – he is seeing her through the transmission of photons which are carrying light from her towards him. Now here is the link with the event horizon part – when Mekhi crosses this radius during her fall the photons can no longer escape the gravitational pull and make it back to Joe. Joe cannot see the Mekhi who crosses the event horizon. Now, counterintuitively, it’s not that Mekhi disappears suddenly. The time as measured by Joe between her events just before she crossed the horizon became so so very dilated that he essentially sees her frozen image just before she crossed the point of no return. The light waves stretch to lower and redder frequencies and the image of Mekhi slowly dims and fades, over and out.

[A depiction of the warping of space time around the center of a black hole. The gravitational pull becomes so strong that the center of the black hole results in a singularity where the laws of physics break down.]

Now what about Mekhi’s experience of this whole thing, after all she’s the one doing the travelling. Well Mekhi sails through the event horizon without experiencing anything different at all, she probably couldn’t even tell it was happening. In fact as she crosses she can still look back and see the spaceship and the region outside the black hole horizon as normal and she can probably also just about make out Joe’s horrified face through the spaceship window. Now if the black hole is a small one tidal forces can come into play here and the force on her feet (which are closer to  the center and hence experience a stronger gravitational pull)  may be significantly stronger than the force on her head and thus she would experience spaghettification – one of my favourite words in theoretical physics – where she gets stretched so much that she becomes elongated like a piece of spaghetti until eventually she gets torn in two. If the hole is small and this effect is quite large she will see a lot of warping of the light around her as well as she undergoes this gruesome process. However if the black hole is a larger one these tidal forces will be much weaker and she will go on her merry way sailing down to the center of the black hole without noticing much difference. Moral of the story if you’re going to go off galavanting in a black hole, choose a large one! So on she goes down the center where most likely she will be torn apart before she reaches the singularity. The singularity is the point at the center of the black hole where the spacetime has been warped so immensely, density and the gravity have become infinite and the laws of physics as we know them have disintegrated. If Mekhi remarkably reaches the singularity without being spaghettified her only reward will be being crushed to an infinite density… probably, the truth is we don’t have a clue what actually happens at the singularity because our laws of physicscompletely break down. There are theories in modern day theoretical physics that believe the gravitational field does increase as your get closer to the black hole’s core but then eventually reduce as if you’re coming out the other end of the black hole, into what could be a new universe, this hypothetical exit region has imaginatively been named a white hole. Though it’s very likely a meek human being would not survive the crushing forces of gravity before this point occurred.

Forthcoming posts in the series will delve into mysteries surrounding black holes such as the information loss problem and the black hole firewall paradox. Black holes have always been a source of many cosmic problems and the answer to the paradoxes surrounding them may help us answer some of the most pressing questions in theoretical physics, such as how to reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics. For now however we stop here having explained what it looks like when an observer falls in and how this contradicts with what the observer themselves experiences. 

Keep on reading