Archive for the ‘panic’ Category

What have the swiss ever done for me? It’s an obvious enough question. Well for one, there’s the cuckoo clock. Then they invented the handy, bright red pocket knife-come-toolkit, for an army that doesn’t actually ever get to fight any wars. A nice touch, that.

Oh, and now they’re plotting to blow up the planet.

Not really of course. From recent media hype you’d think that those boffins at CERN have just switched on the world’s greatest super-weapon. But previous track record aside, it seems nuclear physicists aren’t all hell-bent on creating bigger and bigger bangs.

No, the Large Hadron Collider is all about creating very, very small big bangs.

Scientific fact zoneSo why would scientists go to all this trouble and expense?

Well, basically they have a big gap in their understanding of how the universe works. They know why planets go round stars and so on, and they understand how atoms work, but they want to know how these two branches of science relate to each other.

If successful, the Grand Unified Theory of Everything will at once be able to explain how big science works, how small science works, and why ITV viewers still phone premium telephone lines.

So what exactly do we the public get for the several billion euros it cost to build?

How Much?

You heard me. That’s 5 billion pounds of tax payers money – but remember it’s payable in installments. I think they sold us the idea in much the same way that those dodgy water filter companies sell home filter equipment. You know, “get lovely clean drinking water for only 9p a day”

This machine is capable of looking back at the Big Bang, which happened 14 billion years ago.

“£5,000,000,000 spread over 14,000,000,000 annual installments. That’s a snip at only about 30p a year to you sir.”


Particles Flyin’

To show their funky young side to the public, some of the scientists at CERN have created a rap video, the Large Hadron Rap. No, really.

The Coach always had in mind the people who would plot to blow up the planet would be just a little more, well.. evil looking.

It is a pretty good insight into the real reason these geeks have built the LHC – it’s the only way they know how to get girls. When that fails, they turn to rap music.

Look at them. They’ve built the biggest most expensive scientific experiment ever, which makes the smallest particles imaginable go as fast as is physically possible, down a tube colder than outer space, and recreate something that happened for a fraction of a millionth of a second, 14 billion years ago.

If they weren’t doing that, they be trying to topple the most dominoes, or squeezing themselves into ‘phone boxes.

Finding God

These Higgs Boson characters have been nicknamed the “God Particle” by the scientists. Basically this is the holy grail of theoretical physics. If the LHC works, it’ll prove the existence of science.

Is it me, or is that going to piss off all the world’s religious nutcases in one go? Like that’s not going to kick off some kind of war.

Fundamentalist nutters versus nuclear physicists. Hmmm. If George Bush drops a few nukes on CERN, it’s not like they aren’t precisely the kind of enemy that’s capable of building even bigger weapons to retaliate with.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Really, there’s nothing to worry about. The worst that could happen is the LHC creates a black hole which sinks to the centre of the Earth and devours the planet.

But fear not, Enstein tells us that time stretches out for any body getting sucked into a black hole. It’ll be a horrible, grizzly demise, but it’ll seem to last forever.

Rather like watching the England football team.

So either way you’re sorted for this evening. Enjoy the game, if you’ve subscribed to Setanta…

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As the striking Shell drivers bring the UK to its knees, the Coach brings you the definitive guide to stockpiling and hoarding.

It’s a tricky business knowing when to panic buy, but the Coach’s advice is actually quite simple on this: Buy as much stuff as you can before everybody else does.

Mother of all queues
Petrol: you need it more than they do

It only takes a modicum of planning and thought, but in essence you must act quickly, decisively, and without delay:

  • If you hear so much as the words “petrol” and “crisis” mentioned in the same sentence, go at once to the nearest petrol station and fill up. Most people out there are oppportunists who only start to panic when they actually see a queue – they want some of what other people are having – so you get there before the queue develops you’re already ahead of the game.
  • Stock up on food at the same time. As much as you can. If the crisis continues, supermarket supply chains will start to struggle and food will become scarce. Tinned food is good. It’ll keep, and if the expected fuel crisis fails to materialise will keep for a good few years in the back of a cupboard somewhere before it goes off.
  • Buy bottled water too. Buy multipacks of smaller bottles for added freshness. Buy lots of them. Your taps are unlikely to run dry in a crisis, but if you don’t buy those bottles somebody else will. This is personal. It’s your  water.
  • If somebody – anybody – mentions foot and mouth or BSE, immediately go out and buy enough frozen chickens to fill your freezer. If you see a dead bird at the side of the road, dump the chickens and fill the freezer with red meat. Buy a bigger freezer.
  • Develop a keen sense of “fuel envy” – if your neighbour has more fuel/water/stuff than you, then you are doing something wrong. Buy more.

It’s as simple as that. Planning and forethought. Just like they’d have done during the War. Except that they didn’t have freezers and cars and stuff back then, and they knew their neighbour’s name. But you know what I mean.

Brainy money fact zone
Oil is a scarce commodity produced by few countries in the world, but relied upon by all of them. The oil producers have the rest of us – excuse the pun – over a barrel on this, and have clubbed together to form a cartel known as OPEC.

These producers commonly talk about things like “production capacities” and “supply and demand” and so on, but ultimately they just want to make as much money as they can before the oil runs out, and to be able to afford enough military equipment to deter the Americans and their friends from dropping bombs on them. Basically, if OPEC ran supermarkets rather than sold oil, the government would have fined them by now and told them stop fixing their prices.

In it’s crude form, oil is a thick, black, gloopy substance which is bugger all use for making cars go, and is bought and sold by very, very, very rich people people with dark glasses, fast cars and fancy yachts, before ultimately being “refined” into various fuel products such as petrol, diesel and paraffin and being sold to the rest of us.

But the complexities don’t end there. Because of our dependency on these fuels, the government puts big taxes (or “duty”- to sound a bit fluffier) on them to raise funds so as to buy bigger/better military equipment than those oil producers have got. It’s a tricky calculation – with the levels of duty calculated to make it both look like the government isn’t too responsible for the price of fuel, whilst simultaneously looking like they’re trying to make us want to buy more of it AND ALSO trying to make us want to buy less of it.

Naturally that’s quite difficult, so they employ the second most important person in the government to work it all out, called the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I forget the current fellow’s name – used to be Gordon Brown.

In today’s media led world, panic buying can begin anywhere and anytime, and for little or no reason. Remember the water riots during the 2007 floods? In 2001, American stocks of plastic sheeting and “duct tape” ran out as homeowners raced to ensure their homes were secure against nucular, biological, and chemical attack. In May of this year there was even an episode of global carrot panic buying which began as a joke on facebook.

Remember: act swiftly, decisively, and without delay. This photo shows the forecourt sign of the Foxhayes garage in Exwick, near Exeter. As local stocks ran low during this week’s petrol shortage, the garage raised its prices to “conserve stocks”.

Rip-off Britain at its best
Rip-off Britain at its best

But look closer at that numeral 1 on the sign. The display has only been designed to handle prices beginning with a 1. They charged £1.999 per litre because that’s as high a price as they could advertise. Rest assured that petrol stations all over the country will be upgrading their signs very soon. Next time, those who don’t act quickly, decisively, and without delay  will be paying £9.999 per litre, maybe even £99.999. Stay ahead of the game.

Buy a “Gas Guzzler”

Here’s a thought. The law actually forbids the stockpiling of flammable materials. The narrow-minded bureaucrats allow you store no more than two 5-litre plastic containers – that’s about 12 quid’s worth, which is hardly going to get you to the end of the first forecourt queue you come across.

In fact the only container in which you can legally store any decent quantity of fuel is in a motor vehicle. So there’s your answer – get a decrepit old Jaguar or some other giant-tanked gas guzzler on ebay, park it your front lawn, SORN it so you don’t have to pay tax, and keep its tank topped up with fuel in case of emergencies.

You should be used to the Coach’s advice going against conventional thinking by now, but look at it this way: people have never been more desperate to get rid of their uneconomical battle-tanks, so there are plenty of bargains to be had.

With fuel prices set to continue rising for the foreseeable, you can actually look on this as an investment – £80 of fuel now is likely to be worth £90 by the time you come to refill your tank. Those oil speculators who’re driving the prices up in the first place aren’t likely to stop anytime soon, so play them at their own game. Invest in petrol.

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