Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction, Television

Independence Day

I like an exciting Science Fiction film, so Recently I watched this exciting 1996 Science-Fiction Blockbuster again. Directed by Roland Emmerich. It takes place Around July 2, 1996 after a 500 km wide alien mothership enters Earth’s orbit and deploys several dozen saucer-shaped spacecraft, each 15 miles (24 km) wide, which take position over some of Earth’s major cities. Meanwhile David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), an MIT graduate working for a cable company in New York City, discovers hidden transmissions in Earth’s satellites which he realizes is a timer counting down to a coordinated attack by the aliens. With the support of his estranged wife Constance Spano (Margaret Colin), the White House Press Secretary, he and his father Julius (Judd Hirsch) gain entrance into the Oval Office to notify President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) about the attack. So Whitmore orders large-scale evacuations of the targeted cities, but the aliens attack and Whitmore, portions of his staff, and the Levinsons narrowly escape aboard Air Force One as Washington, D.C. is destroyed.

On July 3, the Black Knights, a squadron of Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets, attack the spaceship above the ruins of Los Angeles, however the spaceship launches fighters in response and destroys many American military installations, including NORAD, killing the Vice President and most of the Cabinet hiding there. Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) is the only pilot to survive the Los Angeles attack after luring an alien fighter into the Grand Canyon and crashing in the desert alongside the alien spaceship. Hiller is then rescued by Russell Casse (Randy Quaid), who is traveling across the desert with a group of refugees. They take the alien to the Top Secret Area 51, which houses a repaired alien fighter and three alien bodies recovered from Roswell in 1947. A scientist Dr. Brackish Okun (Brent Spiner) then attempts to autopsy the alien, however it regains consciousness clobbers Doctor Brackish Okun and attempts to escape after attacking President Whitmore who discovers the aliens intend to destroy life on Earth. So Whitmore orders a nuclear attack, however this fails to penetrate the force field of the spaceship and the remaining strikes are aborted.

Then On July 4, David Levinson devises a plan to use the repaired alien Fighter to fly to the Mothership, infect it with a computer virus, destroy it with a Nuclear Device and halt the Alien attack. So Hiller volunteers to pilot the alien fighter to the Mothership with Levinson accompanying him. Meanwhile a vast alien spaceship approaches Area 51, so volunteers including President Whitmore and Casse are enlisted to fly F/A -18 Hornets to counter strike against the approaching aliens. The force field is deactivated and the fighters are able to inflict damage, on the Alien Vessel, however it is able to reach Area 51 so Casse resorts to desperate and heroic measures to prevent the alien spacecraft striking Area 51.

Posted in music

Jean-Jacques Burnel (The Stranglers)

Jean-Jacques Burnel, the Bass Player with the Stranglers was born 21 February 1952. The Stranglers are an English punk rock music group Comprising of Hugh Cornwell, JeanJacques Burnel, Jet Black and Dave Greenfield. Scoring some 23 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums to date in a career spanning four decades, the Stranglers are the longest-surviving and most “continuously successful” band to have originated in the UK punk scene of the mid to late 1970s. Beginning life as the Guildford Stranglers on 11 September 1974 in Guildford, Surrey, they originally built a following within the mid-1970s pub rock scene. While their aggressive, no-compromise attitude identified them as one of the instigators of the UK punk rock scene that followed, their idiosyncratic approach rarely followed any single musical genre and the group went on to explore a variety of musical styles, from New Wave,art rock and gothic rock through the sophisticated pop of some of their 1980s output.

They had major mainstream success with their single “Golden Brown”. Their other hits include “No More Heroes”, “Peaches”, “Always the Sun” and “Skin Deep”.The Stranglers’ early sound was driven by Jean-Jacques Burnel’s mselodic bass, but also gave prominence to Dave Greenfield’s keyboards at a time when the instrument was seen as unfashionable. Their early music was also characterised by the growling vocals and sometimes misanthropic lyrics of both Jean-Jacques Burnel and Hugh Cornwell. Over time, their output gradually grew more refined and sophisticated. Summing up their contribution to popular music, critic Dave Thompson later wrote: “From bad-mannered yobs to purveyors of supreme pop delicacies, the group was responsible for music that may have been ugly and might have been crude – but it was never, ever boring.”

Jet Black’s style is usually simple and jazz-influenced, although “Duchess” and “Down in the Sewer” are examples of Stranglers songs that feature more frantic drumming. In the mid-1980s, Black elected to cease playing acoustic drums in the recording studio and used aSimmons kit triggered by pick-ups, most notably on the Feline and Aural Sculpture albums. Black is still currently drumming for The Stranglers, despite his advancing years. His name is frequently chanted by the crowd at concerts. The Stranglers Went on a 16-date tour in February and March 2010 and toured the UK in 2011 and will be embarking on the March On tour over the course of 2015.

The Stranglers live Alexandra Palace 1990

Posted in locomotives, steam locomotives, Trains

Richard Trevithick’s Pen-y-Darren


On 21 February 1804, the world’s first self propelling locomotive, the Pen-y-Darren, built by Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick ran along the Merthyr Tydfil treatment road from Pen-y-Darren to Abercynon a distance of 9.75 miles(16 kilometres). It all started n 1802, when Trevithick built one of his high-pressure steam engines to drive a hammer at thePen-y-Darren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil,Mid Glamorgan . With the assistance of Rees Jones, an employee of the iron works and under the supervision of Samuel Homfray, the proprietor, he mounted the engine on wheels and turned it into a locomotive. In 1803, Trevithick sold the patents for his locomotives to Samuel Homfray.

Homfray was so impressed with Trevithick’s locomotive that he made a bet with another ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, for 500 guineas that Trevithick’s steam locomotive could haul ten tons of iron along the Merthyr Tydfil Tramroad from Penydarren to Abercynon. Amid great interest from the public, on 21 February 1804 it successfully carried 10 tons of iron, 5 wagons and 70 men the full distance in 4 hours and 5 minutes, an average speed of approximately 2.4 mph (3.9 km/h). as well as Homfray, Crawshay and the passengers, other witnesses includedMr. Giddy, a respected patron of Trevithick and an ‘engineer from the Government’. the engineer from the government was probably a safety inspector and particularly interested in the boiler’s ability to withstand high steam pressures.

Coalbrookdale Engine
Coalbrookdale Engine

The configuration of the Pen-y-darren engine differed from the Coalbrookdale engine. The cylinder was moved to the other end of the boiler so that the firedoor was out of the way of the moving parts. This obviously also involved putting the crankshaft at the chimney end. The locomotive comprised a boiler with a single return flue mounted on a four wheel frame at one end, a single cylinderwith very long stroke was mounted partly in the boiler, and a piston rod crosshead ran out along a slidebar, an arrangement that looked like a giant trombone. As there was only one cylinder, this was coupled to a large flywheel mounted on one side. The rotational inertia of the flywheel would even out the movement that was transmitted to a central cog-wheel that was, in turn connected to the driving wheels. It used a high-pressure cylinder without a condenser, the exhaust steam was sent up the chimney assisting the draught through the fire, increasing efficiency even more.


The bet was won. Despite many people’s doubts, it had been shown that, provided that the gradient was sufficiently gentle, it was possible to successfully haul heavy carriages along a “smooth” iron road using the adhesive weight alone of a suitably heavy and powerful steam locomotive. Trevithick’s was probably the first to do so; however some of the short cast iron plates of the tramroad broke under the locomotive as they were intended only to support the lighter axle load of horse-drawn wagons and so the tramroad returned to horse power after the initial test run. Homfray was pleased he won his bet. The engine was placed on blocks and reverted to its original stationary job of driving hammers. In modern Merthyr Tydfil, behind the monument to Trevithick’s locomotive is a stone wall, the sole remainder of the former boundary wall of Homfray’s Penydarren House. A full-scale working reconstruction of the Pen-y-darren locomotive was commissioned in 1981 and delivered to the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum in Cardiff; when that closed, it was moved to the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. Several times a year it is run on a 40m length of rail outside the museum.