*Sigh* Yes, Eric, You Can Ride The Pig Backwards

Xiang Jiang Zoo in Guangzhou, capital of southern China's Guangdong Province, has formed an animal orchestra.   The orchestra's members include a chimp on drums...

As per usual, I was looking at the ‘Weird’ section of news on the Telegraph (the one part of their website that doesn’t take itself so seriously) and came across this little, cheeky chappy on the ’30 Best Animal Pictures of the Week’. Now it’s certainly no Cadbury’s advert BUT this is an actual ape, not a guy dressed as one! Just look at him, look how much fun he’s having – for discussion purposes I’ll name him ‘Eric’. Now animals like Eric sit in zoo cages for most of the day, forced to just eat, sleep and run around without realizing he is just a bit of entertainment for paying visitors. Poor Eric. Personally, I think he’d rather wish he’d be swinging along branches in a tropical jungle somewhere, but who am I to judge what he thinks? I have no idea what he thinks, what he means by ‘Oooo oo aaaah aah’, seriously this little guy baffles me! It made me think about the way we see animals, I mean, how cool would it be to just know what life is from their perspective for a change?

I’ve always been an animal man, myself (A guy who loves animals, not like ‘Teen Wolf’ or anything). As a kid, I was just obsessed with animals, particularly dinosaurs. Dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs. You should have seen my face when Doctor Who did ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’, The Doctor AND Dinosaurs? My two favourite things together! Anyway, I was fascinated about how they live, how they act, what they think and why they think it. Now, you probably think that’s weird, but animals are just a part of our everyday lives. We intereact with them on a daily basis and they are an essential part to our ecosystem. Yet, I’ve read the occasional story in R.E. that says ‘Animals have no souls’ or ‘Humans may choose to do what they wish with animals’. Come on, religious guys, that’s a bit mean. There is a meaningful reason as to why everything exists , I don’t think we should deem animals as meaningless and insignificant. Have you seen ‘The Lion King?’ I think that just backs my point!

Take this little rascal. This is Lily, a mischievous so and so. Now if someone said she was insignificant or she had no soul, she’d quite possibly bite you. She probably wouldn’t, but still, watch out buddy. She’s the reason I love animals so much. She comes and wakes me up in a morning, strangely always at the time you need to get up; she headbutts and sniffs just about every inanimate object in my house and she chases the football whenever it makes an appearance on the telly-box  I always wonder why Lily does the things she does or what she thinks about my family. But here’s something that makes me smile when i think about it – what would she be like if she was a human? Would she be a girly-girl? Or how about an all-around tom-boy? Would we get along as well as we do now? Or would we just have numerous ‘fight to the death’s like most silblings? That’s just me being philosophical old me, but you can’t knock a guy for thinking! This is why I wait with anticipation for the future. Science and all of its sciencey amazeingess are doing research on animals and they’ve concluded that in just five years time they’ll be able to know what dolphins are actually thinking. How cool is that? *Eeeek*, come on science I’m excited already. It’d be interesting to see how animals develop, too. The world around us is constantly changing – who knows what tomorrow will bring for the animal kingdom? Hopefully cats don’t turn evil like in ‘Cats and Dogs’, that film is just an insult to all cat lovers.

But for the mean time, let’s just watch the below video and smile at how great animals are. Not spiders though, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets put me off spiders. *Shudder*

Long Live Our Inner Child :)

Peter Pan is an incredibly lucky kid. Whilst I sit here writing this blog, studying for my A-levels and hoarding my spare change like Ebenezer Scrooge in the hope of saving some ‘dosh’ for later life; 10-year-old Peter Pan is busy flying around Neverland, Wendy in hand, without a care in the world. *Sigh*, I guess it’s just a part of growing up – but boy would I love to trade places with him for just a little while!

Now I know that that will never happen, I guess what I am trying to say is that we won’t be young forever. I was reading the BBC news today, basking with snoozefest articles about David Cameron failing the Letterman quiz, more added cuts to the already growing fiscal troubles… *scrolls down page*. But then I found an article which celebrated the 30th birthday of the emoticon, an article which the child in me just loved to read. The world is becoming an increasingly formal place and it was admitted that the emoticon is a fun, child-like thing that we carry with us. Regardless of age. Regardless of age… if only that applied to everything.

I remember having limitless freedom as a kid, not having to give a monkeys about anything. I could run around my house with a ‘Hot Wheels’ car in hand, shouting ‘BRUUUUUUM’ at the top of my lungs (I was a very active kid) and be called cute by my parents. But now, my Dad just tells me to ‘Calm it down, son’ whenever I run up the stairs. I could go to my friend’s house and for a few hours we could just pretend to be pirates looking for a secret treasure (his Mum would encourage us and hide a ‘Mars Bar’ somewhere in the house. 9 times out of 10 it was behind the sofa, I still lost everytime!). Oh how things have changed. Ever so subtly, that freedom you once had as a kid just deteriates. One day you play in the ball pit, the next you don’t. One day you sit watching ‘Spongebob Squarepants’, the next you find yourself continiuously watching ‘Friends’. You become more grown up and you’ve just had to let your childhood slip away. It’s not an easy transition.

I guess it is hard for an only child, or someone without a little sibling like myself. Once you find yourself transform into an adult, you don’t have a little munchkin to teach the best hiding places to hide in your house or how to play their first videogame. All those things you did as a child, you can’t really pass on until you have kids of your own. The lucky ones are those who have a younger brother or sister. Sure they may be an irritable pain in the backside from time to time, but we all were once, weren’t we? Society wants us to act mature and grown up. But at home, well, you can act about 5 years old with them and the world just won’t care.

A favourite author of mine said that there is a time when we all begin to use credit cards, to drive our first car, to have that first job. Most of us see that as a part of growing up. Now that’s not what I like to call it – I prefer to call it ‘ageing up’. Deep down, we’re all still kids. You don’t have to let your inner child go – just tell him to shush once in a while when someone calls you ‘innapropriate’. My generation is coming to an end; we’ll soon be off to university and venturing off into the adult world. Peter Pan may never grow up. But for us? We can ‘age up’, whilst still watching Toy Story again and again and buying a Kinder Surprise Egg once in a while (Hopefully it’s not just me!). That is something Mr Pan will never have, and it’s something we should always cherish, no matter how old we become.

Long live the emoticon, and long live our inner child 🙂

Joint Venture – Google and NASA

In the Economic climate, a firm or business may choose to grow in order to achieve a higher level of profit or acquire themselves at a higher position in that market. A specific example of how to do this is a joint venture. A company can choose to merge together with another in order to exploit other markets, or they can ‘join’ together to pursue a common goal. This is not the same as a merge (an example being the Cadbury/Kraft merge mentioned in my previous post), but merely a collaborative work in reaching a mutually strategic target. Firms may come together for joint-research projects. An example of this is with Google and NASA in recent years.

NASA Ames Research Centre, located in California’s Silicon Valley, and Google inc. decided to collaborate on numerous technology focused, R&D projects that will pair some of the world’s most influential technology. The companies signed an MOU that planned operations for large-scale data management, widely distributed computing, bio-info-nano convergence, and a development of the entrepreneurial space industry. It also highlights plans for Google to develop up to 1 million square feet within the NASA Research Park at Moffett Field.

NASA Ames Centre Director G. Scott Hubbard believes that the partnership ‘Presents an enormous range of potential benefits to the space program. Just a few examples are new sensors and materials from collaborations on bio-info-nano convergence, improved analysis of engineering problems, as well as Earth, life and space science discoveries from supercomputing and data mining, and bringing entrepreneurs into the space program.’ It is clear that the joint venture will benefit both companies in different ways, but G. Scott Hubbard believes that “While our joint efforts will benefit both organizations, the real winner will be the American public.”.

The companies may have chosen to do this joint venture because “Google and NASA share a common desire to bring a universe of information to people around the world,” said Eric Schmidt, Google chief executive officer. “Imagine having a wide selection of images from the Apollo space mission at your fingertips whenever you want it. That’s just one small example of how this collaboration could help broaden technology’s role in making the world a better place.” He believed that while it would benefit both companies in relevance to profits and an expansion in their individual markets, it would also benefit the consumers who use their products on a day-to-day basis.

My Life Is Alive, With The Sound of Muuusiiic

It may be Monday. It may have rained so much today that my clothes have stuck to me for the majority of the day. There may be a triple bill of Simpsons on Sky One tonight. BUT even those reasons aren’t enough to stop me posting tonight. Now I would say ‘commitment’ is my middle name – but I kind of spoilt that illusion in my last article. You catch the drift, time for my next post!

Now my WordPress ‘Gravatar’ gives it away, but I am a dedicated musician. Quite like the picture, there never seems to be a moment where I don’t have a violin in my hand. Myself and my triplet siblings have played it from the age of 7 and music has been a key part of my life ever since. I know that some people will find themselves in a situation where they literally have nothing else to do – music gives you an excuse to fill that empty space in time. Whether it’s to have fun or to expand your skill-set, playing an instrument is a great way to create a new hobby.

Yeah, I know that a lot of guys nowadays prefer to play Call of Duty as opposed to a crackin’ tune on a violin, but still – that doesn’t mean music is dead. Hopefully people can agree with me when I say that I always seem to have a pair of earphones plugged into my ears. While obviously it’s a great way to get out of an awkward situation (nothing to say? Pretend to text and stick those headphones in – works like a charm!), listening to music helps to reinforce every emotion. Feeling happy? Feel even happier with a bit of music. Feeling sad? Chin up, buddy, put those headphones in. For those few minutes whilst a song plays, we immerse ourselves into our own little musical bubble, where the world can be forgotten just for a little while. It has helped me get through a lot in my life, and I’m sure it will continue to do so.

We all have different musical tastes thanks to our different personalities. Personally I like to see myself as a bold individual, someone who likes to make themselves heard, who’s not afraid to experiment from time to time. Hopefully you’ve guessed my musical choice already. If not – here is a bit of a giveaway: 

I’m not a great fan of modern chart music (I’m looking at you ‘The Wanted’), it’s just too “samey” for me. Rock’s always finding a way to reinvent itself, to be even more barmy than the last record whilst keeping to a deep, meaningful lyric set. Well, most of the time anyway. That’s always been a concept I’ve thought about – look at yourself as a person. How you act, how you react. Does it reflect your personality? Just a little thought to leave you with. Oh, and this. Of course I wouldn’t do a music post without a reference to this. It’s just brill.


Where Did You Come From? Where Did You Go?

I’m starting this post with a smile on my face, as I stole the title from Cotton-Eye Joe. Now I never thought I would do that, but at least it’s appropriate for my topic of discussion! Earlier this week, I joined a writing class at the town centre near where I live (I don’t know I single guy my age who would join such a thing; then again, I don’t have any friends who want to become journalists). The ice-breaking activity was to write my full name down on paper and state what each name means, where it came from etc. Simple, yes, but it really got me thinking – how much meaning and history lies behind our names? What hides behind those names that we say near enough every day?

Now for poor Cotton-Eye Joe, his name doesn’t exactly paint a great picture of himself (Yeah…  it’s not just the ‘ultimate redneck song’). Names are a crucial part of today’s society. They help to make a first impression, to define yourself as a person and make yourself known to others. Personally, my name is just something that I write to fill in forms and introduce myself to others – but there is a lot more behind it than that. I’ll show you my full name and tell you how it reflects on me as a person: Adrian Charles ‘Peter’ Horan.

Adrian quite literally means ‘From Hadria’, a place who’s name was borne by the emperor who had this built in his reign:            

Yeah, he was pretty powerful. Charles has been the name of numerous kings and princes throughout history (there’s even a prince alive now who’s called Charles. He is Her Majesty’s son, no biggy). Peter is my Catholic confirmation name, which I chose because even though he did wrong against Jesus, he was always close and faithful to him. Horan is one of the most common Irish surnames to date. To sum up, I’m a powerful Irish Catholic. Well… not really, but it’s not something people would guess when you look at me and ask me what my name was.

My last name is something which tends to surprise people, because not many people even know I’m part Irish apart from my close friends. I’ve always been primarily English – I speak with a Yorkshire accent, I love British food and I love Doctor Who (If you don’t like Doctor Who, then you might need to consider doing so. It’s ‘amazeballs’, to quote one of my past articles). But there is a part to both me and my family that wants to embrace our Irish heritage. My Dad is the Irish-bred member of the household, and it has certainly rubbed off on the family as we have grown up. We have a ‘FECK’ reg plate hanging above our kitchen door and there’s an ornament in our garden holding a Magners bottle. ‘Nuff said, really. Ireland’s my favourite place in the world; I have travelled with my family there umpteen times and I always want to go back after each visit. I’ve always wanted to embrace my heritage (I’ve finally perfected an Irish accent being constantly around my Dad = win), and I think it is important that we all should. Names are not just something we apply to ourselves. They are a reason to delve into our past and explore what makes the history of ourselves. Hopefully this has inspired my readers to do the same, or to listen to Cotton-Eye Joe for old times sake? Heck, why not do both?

And for all you Horans out there (or just anyone who was interested, really) here’s a picture of my family crest. It’s something to be proud of!              

Go Fourth and Multiply

Ohhh the magical world of science. My parents asked for one, just one more child so that my older sister Naomi could have a play-friend. But the big man in the sky was feeling generous that day, and decided to give them… *dramatic pause*, three babies!

That’s right readers, for those who don’t know (mainly the blogging community, I’ve not really shared this fact with you, apologies), I am one of a set of triplets. With an identical twin brother in that set of triplets. To sum up, my Mum and Dad basically hit the jackpot on the genetic lottery. I tend to take that fact for granted, but me and my class were having a chat about myself and my brother today and I came to a conclusion. Multiple births rock.

Despite Mum reminiscing about the constant back-pain problems, and a reduced ability to walk carrying three babies, she always tells us that having triplets changed her life. Now whether that’s for better or for worse I’m not sure; but personally, having three restless babies in close proximity 24/7 wouldn’t be my ideal cup of tea, but we all have different preferences. A lot of my friends really don’t know how she managed to constantly monitor three little rascals, but from her perspective we didn’t seem all that bad. It’s the stories she told that makes the idea of raising multiple children that less scary; whether that’s how my brother Anthony would spill chocolate down his face and become ‘The Chocolate Monster’, or how my sister Olivia would team up with Naomi and dress up our cat in numerous baby’s accessories (why on earth my cat agreed with such a thing, I’ll never know).

Now for anyone out there who was part of a multiple birth, you can agree with me when I say that personally it doesn’t seem all that amazing; but I always forget that multiple births are a rare event. Sure I’m used to it, but whenever I meet new people and tell them I have two siblings the same age as me, it’s as if I’ve just told them I secretly have superpowers (I’m still waiting for the day when I can tell someone that!). But it’s even better when I’m with my siblings, the conversation tends to go a little something like this:

“Excuse me, but are you two twins?” “Why yes, yes we are… triplet’s whilst we’re getting things out in the open.” “WOW that’s amazing! But… bless your poor mother!”

It’s kind of become a routine with the three of us, and it makes me chuckle each and every time we say it. Yet, even though we’re triplets, it’s the concept of twins that people ask the most questions about. Any twins out there can back me up on this, but you tend to get this series of questions. 1. Who was born first? 2. Are you like, psychic? Can you read each others minds? 3. If i punched twin one, would twin two feel it? 4.Who’s the evil one? It becomes slightly tedious, but you’ve got to answer these questions – it’s standard twin procedure! Any multiple birth child who has an identical sibling knows that you’ve got to make the most of your awesome identical gene order. You can have a ton of fun, whether it’s swapping names for photo day, swapping classes, finishing each others sentences, heck, even having alternative dates with the same girl –  make the most of being a multiple child. We’re a special breed.

It may be a slim possibility to be a multiple sibling? But wow, I’m glad I’m that 1 in *insert figure here*, because I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s pretty neat.

You Suck.

I’m relatively new to the blogging world, but I can already say that it’s a fun place to be. If something, anything at all, sparks an interest in me? Then I tend to transition that from my head, onto my ‘iPad’, and just blog it! The self-satisfaction that follows from clicking that ‘send’ button is incredibly rewarding. Seeing your views for the day go up, a ‘like’ here and a ‘like’ there, it makes the time you spent creating that idea worthwhile. In my own little world, I want everyone to enjoy reading it and just say to me ‘Woooo Adrian, that was a great post, nothing wrong whatsoever!’. But realistically – that won’t always happen. One of my friends said that a previous post of mine wasn’t quite to their taste and, well… I kind of ‘spat my dummy out’, so to speak!

And it got me thinking, this was only a piece of constructive criticism to improve my writing skills. Sure it took me a while to see that, but not everyone takes a negative point well. This question kept running through my head at this point: Should we be always be good at taking criticism, or is it okay to be a little sour?

Nine times out of ten I’d agree with the first one. If someone makes a mature criticism of something you’ve done, rather than ‘sugar coating’ it, then you’d accept the advice that’s given to you, become the better person, and just learn from your mistakes in future circumstances. But then that bit of criticism comes along once in a while that you can’t agree with, can’t learn from, and just don’t feel it’ll make you a better person. At all.

Immature mode = on.

If someone attempts to criticise you with something like ‘This is just stupid, your point isn’t necessary… You suck’, this is not a reasonable point at all. Can you learn from this? Not really. Can you respond in an inappropriate way? Ohhhhh yes! Here are a few ways to do so:

1.Continuously spam the words ‘Thank You’. This means you have considered their point of view… Or so they think?

2.If you know another language, speak it – this will hopefully confuse the critic, and make them move on to criticise someone else.

3.Repeat everything they say – simple, yet effective.

Now that’s what I like to call ‘Destructive Criticism’! It’s fun in certain circumstances, but in all seriousness, if someone wants to make you a better person using constructive criticism? Don’t do the above, consider their point of view and use it to grow as a person.

Hopefully this post appears a good read, but also it answers the myths of criticism!

‘…That’s A Word?’

The English language really baffles me at times. My friend’s English teacher once told him that pretty much anything can be classed as a word. ‘Anything, sir?’. ‘If it uses our alphabet’s letters, then… then yes, anything!’. He attempted to justify his point with the noise a baby makes (he even did an impression, which went something like *agooooo*); funnily enough, this won over my friend!

Almost all of the words that have a place in the dictionary have some justification for being there. They are  plausible, and can be applied in a social context. Though some words I’ll come across, and I feel the need to read them twice because I’m convinced that they are not real words. ‘How on earth did that get there?’ I ask myself, but given a bit of time I’ll put my ignorance aside and accept that it is a real word.

But then, that ‘trending’ word that just doesn’t appear to make sense sneakily makes its way into our surrounding dictionaries. I read an article that was recently posted on The Telegraph last night, and boy was it a face-palm moment. Collin’s English Dictionary receive thousands of submissions for newly created words on a regular basis, from the enthusiastic to just the down right mind-boggling. But from a bit of persistence, two new creations have officially made it into our vocabulary. Brace yourselves…

‘Amazeballs’ and ‘Lolz’.

Two words that i hear just about everywhere, and two cringe-worthy ones at that! However, I’ll have to accept that they’re now a part of our everyday vocabulary. The silliness of them aside, it is quite cool that with enough enthusiasm and persistence, Collins are willing to add pretty much ANY new word to the dictionary. They stated that “as the pace of change within the English language continues to accelerate, the contributions by eagle-eyed and sharp-eared word-spotters will become increasingly important.” Food for thought – will the next generation and the generation after that be sprouting a whole new range of words? It just makes you wonder how much of your own language you will actually recognise.

So there you have it – start getting creative and make your own contribution to the English speaking world! Just not ‘yolo’, please anything but ‘yolo’…

Economies of Scale – Cadbury

This is a post for my Economics A2 course, which is about both economies of scale and diseconomies of scale, based on the confectionery company Cadbury.

Many companies have benefited from the implementation of economies of scale. When an increase in the quantity produced of a good can increase with less than average input costs, economies of scale  are said to be  achieved. This means that when growth expands and a company can produce more goods, a company is more likely to decrease its costs. Economic growth may be achieved when economies of scale are realized. However, diseconomies of scale can happen when production is less than in proportion to inputs. The costs on average would rise as there are insufficiencies occuring within the firm.

Internal economies of scale are when an individual company lowers costs and increases production; whereas external economies of scale are on a larger scale, specifically within the industry itself. When an industry’s operation begin to expand, this will see a resultant decrease in costs for a company in that industry – external economies of scale have been achieved, which will benefit all firms within the industry.

This theory can be applied particularly to the company Cadbury, the confectioney industry’s second largest global company. If a powerhouse such as Cadbury want to remain at large in the market, then they need to invest in economies of scale. An example of this was when Cadbury was merged with the company Schweppes. Since they had invested in new machiney in one of their modern confectionary plants (run by Cadbury Schweppes), they were able to switch part of factory capacity from lines where demand was in decline, to where demand was on the increase through well organised production management.  Also, the merged company benefited from technical and financial economies of scale. Firstly, they were able to produce better, bigger and faster machinery, meaning they could cheaply produce a large quantity of units, lowering their costs. Secondly, as the merge increased the size of the business, which meant that the company was seen as a secured firm. This made borrowing capital at low interest rates easier, as banks knew that the company was less of a risk.

A large company like Cabdury could present itself with diseconomies of scale if it expands too quickly. If they were to expand and create multiple branches across the world, then it would be quite a task to monitor the productivity and quality of output from these many thousands of employees. With different managers of these individual branches having different objectives, and so the input that Cadbury is placing in the business could be more than the levels of production. Also, with thousands of employees, their is the risk of a reduction in morale levels for individual workers. As a result, productivity levels may fall, wasting factor inputs and increasing costs for the company.

More recently Kraft, the world’s second largest food company, took over Cadbury. Experts believed that the combination of the two companys could lead to the creation of a ‘global confectionary giant’. This is because Kraft are now able to increase their market shares and growth overseas, whilst Cadbury could expand its markets and place itself as a contender among the US confectionary market. Kraft stated that this combination allowed them to invest in economies of scale, meaning sales and distribution would increase and deliver £640m in revenue synergies.

Ought Implies Can

Whilst doing my R.E. homework, I came across a phrase from a certain Immanuel Kant which stated that ‘ought implies can’. If you strip this bare, it’s basically saying that if something is logically possible, then it’s achievable. But on numerous occasions in the media and on television have I seen the word ‘can’t’ being thrown around – well never before has Kant’s phrase been so appropriate as it has been over the past eleven days!

London Paralympics 2012 has quite possibly been the most liberating event that I have watched in my lifetime. The definition of  the word ‘disability’ is ‘a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses or abilities’. Now to me, that word ‘limit’ presents a reduction in capabilities – watching all of these spectacular events in motion, I wouldn’t even dream of associating that word with the Paralympics! Britain put on a great show to kick things off in motion with the opening ceremony, and the timespan that followed to tonight’s closing ceremony has given a great gift to us all – role models.

Just one example of a British team of ‘SuperHumans’ that inspired me was David Weir. Born with a spinal cord transaction, this man has NEVER had the use of his legs. Limited? Yes. But limitless? Absolutely yes! In just a week, this powerhouse won four gold medals, and made history. It’s just people like him who have now inspired a generation.

I remember back when it was announced that Britain was hosting the games. The atmosphere felt quite cynical, with that phrase ‘It’s a waste of money!’ being tossed about. But with 1.1 million tweets about the Paralympics, an absolute sellout in ticket numbers, and placing third in the medal tables? It really doesn’t make me care if we ‘reel in the cash’ or not, because The Festival of the Flames has left a lasting legacy behind -whoever you are, or whatever life has made of you? You can make something of yourself. A recession we may be in – but the games were reborn this year, so let’s leave the fiscal worries to the professionals, and just enjoy being British!