Archive for December, 2014

It was a mixed weekend for the two Welsh regions taking part in the European Champions Cup, the revamped Heineken Cup. On Sunday the Scarlets beat Ulster 22-13 to move up to 2nd in their group, but on Saturday the Ospreys lost 18-14 away to Racing Metro, which makes their chances of qualifying from the group stages very remote indeed.

The Ospreys lost 18-14 to Racing Metro on Saturday, after drawing with them at home the weekend before.

The Ospreys lost 18-14 to Racing Metro on Saturday, after drawing with them at home the weekend before.

Although the Ospreys very much got the better of the second half, they left themselves too much to do after a poor first half display saw them going into the break with the score at 15-0. The most successful Welsh region over the years in the Pro-12 competition seems to still be unable to make much of a dent in the European competition.

With the Scarlets beating Ulster over the weekend, they leave themselves with an outside chance of still qualifying from their group, although they are still a long way behind Toulon and are on the same number of points as Leicester. Realistically, the best they can hope for is to come second in the group and hope to qualify as one of the best second placed teams.

The tables in the European Championship Cup after this weekend. The Ospreys are in group xx, and the Scarlets are in group xx.

The tables in the European Champions Cup after this weekend. The Ospreys are in pool 5, and the Scarlets are in pool 3.

The next fixtures in the Champions Cup are not for several weeks, on Saturday the 17th of January. The Ospreys play Northampton at home, to whom they lost badly in the away fixture a few weeks ago, and the Scarlets have an away match at Leicester. The group stages will wrap up the following weekend with the Ospreys playing Treviso away, and the Scarlets playing last year’s champions Toulon at home. Assuming the Scarlets lose to Toulon, their chances of qualifying for the next round may come down to securing a win away at Leicester, not an easy task by any means.

The remaining group fixtures in the European Champions Cup are on Saturday the 17th and Saturday the 24th of January.

The remaining group fixtures in the European Champions Cup are on Saturday the 17th and Saturday the 24th of January.

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At number 71 in BBC Radio 2’s 100 greatest guitar riffs is “Oh Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison. This song was released in the summer of 1964 and was written by Orbison and Bill Dees. It got to number 1 in both the Disunited Kingdom and the United States. This was the year after Orbison had topped the bill in a DUK tour with his supporting act being The Beatles!

At number 71 in BBC Radio 2's 100 best guitar riffs is "Oh Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison.

At number 71 in BBC Radio 2’s 100 greatest guitar riffs is “Oh Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison.

To me, Orbison has one of the most distinctive voices in pop music. If you listen to his contributions in the Traveling Wilbury’s song Handle With Care you will hear what I mean. I love his voice, it has a velvety quality to it.

Pretty woman, walking down the street
Pretty woman, the kind I like to meet
Pretty woman
I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth
No one could look as good as you

Pretty woman, won’t you pardon me
Pretty woman, I couldn’t help see
Pretty woman
That you look lovely as can be
Are you lonely just like me

Pretty woman, stop a while
Pretty woman, talk a while
Pretty woman, give your smile to me
Pretty woman, yeah yeah yeah
Pretty woman, look my way
Pretty woman, say you’ll stay with me
‘Cause I need you, I’ll treat you right
Come with me baby, be mine tonight

Pretty woman, don’t walk on by
Pretty woman, don’t make me cry
Pretty woman, don’t walk away, hey…okay
If that’s the way it must be, okay
I guess I’ll go on home, it’s late
There’ll be tomorrow night, but wait
What do I see
Is she walking back to me
Yeah, she’s walking back to me
Oh, oh, Pretty woman

Here is a video of this great song. Enjoy!

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Last week, I blogged about Newton’s 1st law of motion, and the concept of inertia. At the end I said that this week I would discuss what happens to an object if a force is applied. Or, to put it more correctly, an “external resultant force” is applied. This is what Newton’s 2nd law of motion is all about – the effect on a body of an applied force.

Newton's three laws of motion appear in his masterpiece, The Principia, which was published in 1687.

Newton’s three laws of motion appear in his masterpiece, The Principia, which was published in 1687.

If we apply a force to an object it will change its velocity, which means it will accelerate. As I have mentioned before, in physics acceleration has a more precise meaning than it does in everyday life. It doesn’t just mean an object is changing its speed, it can also be keeping a constant speed but changing its direction, such as an object moving at a constant speed in a circle. But, whether an object is changing its speed or changing its direction, it has to accelerate to do this, and so a force needs to be applied.

The most important equation in physics

The relationship between force and acceleration is given by Newton’s 2nd law of motion, which states that

\boxed{ F = m a }

where F is the force, a is the acceleration, and m is the mass of the body. From this equation, along with Newton’s 3rd law (which I will discuss next week), nearly all of mechanics can be derived. For example, this equation tells us that for the Moon to orbit the Earth, it must have a force acting upon it. That force is gravity, and Newton was also the first person to produce an equation to describe gravity. For example, in this blog I showed how we can derive the acceleration felt by a body travelling in a circle, which we call the centripetal acceleration.

Using calculus, this equation also allows us to derive the three equations of motion, equations like v = u + at and s=ut + \frac{1}{2}at^{2}, as I did in this blog. It tells us that it is more difficult to accelerate a more massive object than it is a less massive one, which is why you need a more powerful engine in a large truck than you do in e.g. a small car. Along with Newton’s 3rd law, it explains why a bullet comes out at such a high speed from the nozzle of a rifle, but why the recoil of the gun moves much more slowly. As I said, the most important equation in physics.

Next week I will discuss the last of Newton’s laws of motion, his 3rd law.

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At number 27 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest songs is “Layla” by Derek and the Dominoes. This song also has one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time, in fact it was number 5 in BBC Radio 2’s list of the 100 best guitar riffs.

“Layla” was co-written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon, and released in 1971 by Clapton and his then band, and reached number 4 in the Disunited Kingdom singles charts, and number 10 in the US.

At number 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine's '500 Greatest Songs of all Time' is "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.

At number 27 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of all Time’ is “Layla” by Derek and the Dominoes.

What’ll you do when you get lonely
And nobody’s waiting by your side?
You’ve been running and hiding much too long.
You know it’s just your foolish pride.

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
Turned my whole world upside down.


Let’s make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane.
Please don’t say we’ll never find a way
And tell me all my love’s in vain.

Here is a video of this great song. Enjoy!

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On Saturday Chelsea lost 2-1 away to Newcastle United, and in doing so lost their first game of the season in any competition. Prior to Saturday’s game, in the Premiership they had played 14 matches, and had won 11 and drawn 3, with no defeats. This record went on Saturday with defeat to Newcastle and, with Manchester City winning, Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premiership has been cut from 6 to 3 points.


In the lead-up to Saturday’s game Chelsea’s manager Jose Mourinho stirred things up by saying that Newcastle only really competed against Chelsea, and in their other matches acted as if they were playing friendlies! I can only assume that Mourinho was trying to deflect pressure away from his players, as I’m sure the whole Chelsea camp have felt the weight of expectations increase as their season continued without a defeat.

In fact, Mourinho has never won with Chelsea at Newcastle’s Saint James Park, and he would have been well aware of this. I’m not too sure, but I suspect Newcastle are the only Premier team where Mourinho is yet to register an away win. He is recently quoted as saying that going the whole season undefeated was “an impossible task”, and it may be that having now suffered their first defeat of the season a weight will be lifted off of his and his team’s shoulders.

It was before I started this blog, but I do vividly remember Arsenal’s undefeated Premiership season in 2004/05, which was truly a remarkable achievement. I also remember having a discussion with some friends around Easter 2005 when Arsenal were still in the F.A. Cup and Champions League, and Wenger had to decide which of the three competitions to prioritise with 3 games in the space of a week (one in each of the competitions). My own take was that he should prioritise retaining the unbeaten Premiership record, as it had not been done in over 100 years. As it turned out, it was the only one of the three in which they succeeded, but going a whole season undefeated in the league is a far greater achievement in my opinion than winning any knock-out cup.

On paper, Chelsea have a relatively easy next four games. Tomorrow (Wednesday) they play Sporting Lisbon at home in the Champions League, followed by what should be a straight forward Premiership match against Hull at home on Saturday (13th). On Tuesday the 16th they have an away match against Derby in the League Cup, and then a break of almost a week before they play Stoke away in the Premiership on Monday the 22nd. As I say, on paper these four matches should be straightforward for Chelsea, but then again on paper they should have defeated Newcastle.

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Each Christmas in the Disunited Kingdom there is an informal competition to see who can come up with the most memorable TV advert for the festive season. It would seem that this year the competition has been won by John Lewis with their advert for “Monty” the penguin (to see the advert follow this link). The song featured in the advert is a cover version by Tom Odell of John Lennon’s beautiful song “Real Love”. This Lennon song was written in 1979/1980, but he was murdered (34 years ago today) before he got a chance to release it on any record. Here are his hand-written lyrics to the song.


Lennon did record six takes of the song, and the first time it became known to the public was on the soundtrack to the 1988 film “Imagine”, a biographic film about Lennon put together from hundreds of hours of archive sound recordings and film. In 1996 the song was taken by the surviving Beatles who recorded accompanying music to Lennon’s vocal and piano track, and it was released as the last official (to date) Beatles single in March 1996 as part of the Beatles’ “Biography” project.

Here is a video of one of Lennon’s takes of the song, this one is just him singing and playing the piano. Enjoy!

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At number 47 in BBC Radio 2’s “100 best guitar riffs” is “Atomic” by the New York band Blondie. I remember the first time I saw Blondie was on Top of the Pops in 1977, performing their break-through single “Denis”. I liked the song, and as a 13-year old I liked Deborah Harry too! A lot of other people also liked the song, as it got to number 2 in the Disunited Kingdom singles charts. This first hit was followed by a string of other hits, and I liked most of them. I think their song “Rapture” was the first time I had heard ‘hip-hop’, and the song they released before that, “The Tide is High” had reggae overtones to it, and the song before that, “Call me” was just a straight power-rock song. They certainly had an eclectic musical style, and I liked that about them.

This song, “Atomic”, is not my favourite Blondie song, but it is their only song in this list of 100 best guitar riffs. It certainly does have a memorable riff, and is pretty catchy. It was released in 1980, and got to number 1 in the Disunited Kingdom at a time when most of their releases got into the top 5.

At number 47 in BBC Radio 2's "100 best guitar riffs" is "Atomic" by Blondie.

At number 47 in BBC Radio 2’s “100 best guitar riffs” is “Atomic” by Blondie.

Lyrically, it is hardly the most sophisticated song. But, this song is all about the rhythm, the riff, and the Debbie Harry “image”.

Uh huh, make me tonight
Make it right

Uh huh, make me tonight

Oh, uh huh make it magnificent
Your hair is beautiful
Aah tonight

Tonight make it magnificent
Make me tonight
Your hair is beautiful
Ohh oh, tonight
Uh huh
Uh huh

Uh huh
Uh huh
Uh huh

There is an interesting documentary about Blondie called “One way or another” which I saw on BBC 4 over the weekend, but it was originally broadcast in 2006. The link to the BBC iPlayer programme is here. It gives a very good insight into the band and their highs and lows, including the near-fatal illness that Chris Stein suffered, as well as the acrimonious split of the original band members.

Here is a video of this song. Enjoy!

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