Tier 4 Lockdown, SpaceX and Laser Boats – Weekly Blog #5

Here’s a nifty little tool to jump to each topic!

Tier 4 Lockdown
The Queen’s Gambit
Jon Jones – The Most Terrifying Man on the Planet?
SpaceX
Laser Boats and a Space Force

Tier 4 Lockdown 

The central belt of Scotland goes into a tier 4 lockdown today, meaning all non-essential shops, cafes, pubs and gyms will have to close. It will last for 3 weeks, ending on Friday the 11th of December. 

Here we go again. 

It’s tricky to put into words just how strange a year it’s been. 2020 and COVID-19 will be something the world will look back on like a bad dream. The economic damage done to businesses has been catastrophic, the mental health of the world has taken a severe hit. But worst of all, 50,000 people in the UK, and over 1 million globally have died. 

I manage my family’s business, Dreamcatcher Cabins. We’re just over two-years-old, and off to a good start. As you might imagine, this has been a difficult year to be a small, young company. We’re lucky in that we have very low running costs, and the government has been excellent in providing financial support such as the furlough scheme. But we’ve still taken a hit, and it may be years before we recoup the capital we’ve lost. 

As much as it can be painful to look at the bank accounts at the moment, it must be unimaginably difficult to lose a loved one to the virus. I can’t begin to understand how painful it must be to watch someone you care for develop symptoms, grow weaker, and pass away.

 It’s so important we remember to value human life above all else. “The lone wolf dies, while the pack survives.” – Ned Stark

Lockdowns are an understandably controversial issue. I’ve heard many convincing arguments that the collateral damage done (missed cancer screens etc) outweighs the damage prevented by locking-down. It’s also important to take into account instances of domestic violence, which has increased by 20%. It kills me to think of the poor souls locked up with their abusers. Here’s a list of helplines for anyone who might need one. 

However, we must trust in expert advice. The majority of epidemiologists seem to agree that lockdowns are both effective and necessary. As much as we may think we know something about the virus, these people have been studying virology their whole lives, and must be listened to. They won’t be making these decisions lightly or without careful thought. I’m glad I’m not in their shoes. 

We all need to remember that this too shall pass. The vaccine on the horizon will put an end to the pandemic eventually, and we’ll get back to our normal lives. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later. 

The Queen’s Gambit 

Since we’ll have a lot more time on our hands in tier 4, there’s more time to spend watching Netflix.

I’ve been watching “The Queen’s Gambit” this week and holy shit it’s good. I’ve not finished it yet, but it’s already gained the Ross Blog seal of approval. 

It’s about a gifted orphan who’s taught chess by a janitor at the orphanage, and goes on to compete in the world championships. 

It’s really well done. The characters are great. The plot is unpredictable. And apparently the chess is solid too (I know nothing about chess so I can neither confirm nor deny). 

So, if you’re looking for something to watch, add the Queen’s Gambit to your list. It’s a goody. 

Jon Jones – The Most Terrifying Man on the Planet? 

I don’t mean to write about MMA as often as I do, but unfortunately, I have very little self-control. 

However, I think this news is interesting to anyone, regardless of whether you recognise the fighter’s names.

Jon Jones is regarded as one of the greatest Mixed Martial Artists of all time, and he’s moving up to heavyweight. Why is that worthy of a spot on the highly coveted and widely respected Ross Blog Newsletter? Let me explain…

Jones has defended his UFC title more times than anyone else in the history of the sport (11 times). He’s never been defeated in the octagon and has made some of the greatest ever look like amateurs. 

I would argue that Jon Jones would beat not just any human alive today, but any human to have ever lived on planet Earth. The level of Martial Arts today is probably the highest it’s been in human history, and Jon Jones is the most dangerous man in MMA. 

So as scary as Jon Jones was at light-heavyweight, he’s even more so one division up. He’ll now be taking on the biggest, baddest men on the planet, and I cannot wait to see how it goes. 

He’ll likely be facing the current heavyweight champ – Stipe Miocic – who’s arguably the best heavyweight ever in Mixed Martial Arts. He couldn’t have stiffer opposition, so it’ll be a true test of whether he has what it takes to be the heavyweight king. 

A date hasn’t been set yet, but in early 2021, Jon Jones will be stepping into the UFC Octagon as a heavyweight – what a day that will be. 

SpaceX

There was a huge moment in Space exploration this week. Elon Musk’s SpaceX managed to successfully taxi a full team of astronauts to the International Space Station.

This is the first time a private company has been used to transport humans to the space station. Until now, only government rockets have been sending humans to the ISS.  

The privatisation of space is a contentious issue. Many astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, have spoken out against Musk’s efforts to generate profit from space travel, arguing that it should be left to nations to colonise the skies. 

I’m strongly in the opposite camp. There are some industries private companies don’t belong (hospitals), but space is fair game. 

Elon Musk has managed to revolutionise space travel astoundingly quickly. SpaceX now has the ability to build, launch and land rockets – ready to be reused. It was a feat many said was impossible until it was achieved in 2015. Commercialising space has allowed innovation to flourish. Rockets are far more efficient, reliable, and capable. The cost-per-astronaut on board the Dragon capsule (used in the mission) is $55 million instead of the usual price tag of $80 million

The Soyuz is a Russian rocket the US has been using exclusively until this week. The technology of the Soyuz has barely changed since the 1960s. Now that SpaceX is on the scene, NASA can send more people, more often, to the ISS. More people in space = more science being done = faster progress. There’s a reason humans haven’t been to the moon since 1972: governments are painfully inefficient. 

Inside the Soyuz capsule – pretty old school

Competition is a good thing. Competition creates pressure to evolve, to improve, and overcome challenges. There are multiple businesses now competing for NASA contracts. Companies like SpaceX are forcing innovation, so stagnation in tech should be a thing of the past.

Space is an industry which has been in limbo for decades. With governments given exclusive responsibility, we’ve made almost no progress. However, thanks to companies like SpaceX, we’re once again looking to the final frontier, and fantasising about what might be out there. 

It’s a good thing for the mind to look at the stars. It’s a good thing for science to have more people in space. And it’ll be a good thing for humanity when we finally get to Mars. 

Laser Boats and a Space Force 

A common exercise in personal finance is to take a close look at what you spend your money on. This will give you an insight into what your highest values are. If you spend a lot of money on books, you value knowledge. If you’re often out for coffee with friends, you value relationships. A gym membership – health. 

This week the UK government announced a £16 billion increase to the military budget, whilst cutting foreign aid by £4 billion. That’s the biggest % increase in over 30 years. 

As much as I recognise the need to protect your country and maintain a military, I just don’t see how we can justify the amount we spend on death machines. We already burn £41.5 billion per year on the MoD. How much more defending do we need? And who are we defending ourselves from?

The greatest threat to global security is climate change according to the UN. The government allocates £3.051 billion to the department of Environment AND Food AND Rural Affairs. The biggest threat to national security doesn’t even get it’s own fucking department!

The UK used to be a global superpower. The British Empire was the biggest in history, but it’s time the old guys in Westminster had an honest look in the mirror. We’re a rainy little island, with a crippled health service and 1.6 million people using food banks. We don’t need boats with lasers or weapons in space: we need food in people’s fridges and a plan to tackle climate change. 

The data shows that the UK population doesn’t value the military. And even though a Sainsbury’s ad might stoke up some racists on twitter, I do think we care about people abroad who need our money to survive. 

It was a callous move from Boris to spend so much taxpayer money on chaos and war. And it says a lot about where his values lie. I hope he enjoys his new toys. 

Thanks 

And once again, thank you for reading Ross Blog. Can you believe it’s been 5 weeks?

Week 5’s content felt a little bit gloomier than usual. Maybe the November weather and thought of another 3 weeks of lockdown is diffusing into my writing.

We all need to remember this is a difficult time. Make sure you look after yourself and your loved ones. Keep an eye on your mental health, and think about what you can do to support others around you. 

I really appreciate you taking the time to read my work, and I hope you have a great weekend. 

Much love,

Ross 

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