Thursday, 31 July 2008

English Energy Independence?

I'm a great fan of the full English Breakfast and for that reason the most sensible form of land transport ever invented in my opinion is the steam locomotive. Everything can be cooked on the fireman's shovel by placing it for a few moments in the firebox and a very good pot of tea can be brewed using condensed steam.
I've been researching the practicality of developing a steam-powered car as a means of reducing dependence on a tax mad government and petrol from kleptocracies with inferiority complexes. Unfortunately, and may St Fred Dibnah (pbuh) hurl a big spanner for saying this, steam engine technology is a bit too heavy and slow for road use.
But there is a more efficient form of external combustion engine technology called the Stirling Engine. A company in Sweden called Precer has developed a prototype technology demostrator with a hybrid Stirling Engine/Electric Motor power pack that runs on pelleted wood fuel (1-2kg per 10 km). The fuel could be specially grown zero carbon willow biofuel or processed scrap paper, cardboard, wood etc. The advantage of using that as a fuel is that waste is pretty much equally available throughout the country so transport costs would be reduced (petrol and diesel has to be road-tankered to petrol stations). And best of all one could be smugly green yet not paying any fuel tax and not bicycling.
So who wants to join me to buy the technology from Precer and set up a new car factory in Coventry?
Update: Have a look at another site here . Nice but no room for the rods.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Don't Do A Harold Holt in Southwold, Gordon

Harold Holt and Robert MacNamara 1966*

Best that you leave the snorkelling gear in the bedroom.
For that reader who is a bit vague about 1960s Australian Prime Ministers, Harold Holt disappeared on 17 December 1967 while swimming in the sea at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria, Australia. His body has never been found.
While the most likely cause of death was drowning after being swept away by a treacherous subsurface riptide, it was alleged that the death was in fact either a defection or kidnapping by Chinese frogmen who took him to a Chinese submarine waiting offshore (so difficult to get a parking place otherwise) and thence to China. Wow! Tinfoil hat time.
Since the Seaton Canoe incident, boat hirers are reluctant to let just anybody rent a kayak (and you'd need a heck of an insurance policy to balance the PSNCR) and who would rent a deckchair to the man who lost three by-election seats in a row? (Hattip to Neil Bennett for a great pocket cartoon in today's Times).
* You may wish to read Dereliction of Duty by H R McMasters for an account of Pres Johnson, Macnamara and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Vietnam.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Happy Fifth Birthday Mr Englishman

To mark the (approx.) fifth anniversary of the Englishman's blog, he has posted a video of Take Five by a Chinese combo that he first aired in 2003.
Anyway, many thanks for all the brilliant posts and may you blog for a thousand years.

So here's the real Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1961. Nice ....

Just Getting On With The Job Number 2

Allegedly, this is a reconstruction of a Cabinet meeting just after a Minister meekly suggested that Gordon might use the summer break to attend a civil service "developing inter-personal skills" workshop. "Thanks for the present for Gordon, Mr Obama", a 10 Downing Street aide said earlier. Warning: extreme violence.

Many thanks to the makers of The Untouchables and Robert de Niro. You can buy the DVD of this excellent insight into Nulab politics here at a prudent credit crunch price. Such a pity that Sir Sean Connery played an Irish copper as in real life he does as good a Scotch accent as Mike Myers in Shrek.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Oriental Lily Amazing

It must be the sixth or seventh year we've had an amazing blossoming of the most wonderfully scent filled lilies on our patio. They were sent from Thompson & Morgan as part of a Daily Mail offer in return for newspaper coupons. If you would like to order similar bulbs click on this link.

All we do is top dress with about an inch of fresh potting compost each Spring while the bulbs are still dormant and sprinkle pelleted chicken manure over then and immediately flowering. The pots are watered with tub water daily, with a weekly seaweed drench on the leaves when in flower. Once the stalks have died down we move the plants somewhere out of the way t ooverwinter. Simple but beautiful.

Three Little Words That Damaged A Career

Black Man's Wheels. Saying that phrase caused a Superintendent in the West Midlands Police Service to be demoted one rank.
Surely he was celebrating the success of African-Caribbean entrepreneurs and professionals making the most of their talents and choosing to buy world-class automotive technology from Bavaria. Such role models are a beacon to underprivileged youth from inner cities and offer a positive aspiration. Respec' blud.
What else could the disciplinary panel have thought? Honi soit qui mal y pense.

To paraphrase Alexander Pope, is it fair to break Supt Chris Pretty on Black Man's Wheels? Do the police understand the concept of proportionality? Doubtless if he had been accused of fraud he would now be banking an out of court settlement and celebrating a promotion. Trebles and QPMs all round.

Qantas Incident: Oxygen Cylinder Burst?

Qantas is an Australian airline. Surely a tinnie or or stubbie of the "amber nectar" (or any other brand brewed under licence) was the most likely culprit. Australians tend to drink it in large quantities, presumably to give themselves something to sweat out in the awful heat. Tastes awful, weak like American ullage, without the depth of flavour of decent English ales and like all colonial swamp water sold to adults it is chilled to death, the better to disguise the metallic taste.
I may be proved wrong about the cause of the aeroplane incident but how many similar incidents have occurred to British Airways aircraft from bottles of IPA or Bass for example? Remember making ginger ale and putting the bottles in the kitchen cupboard to mature? It was ready to drink when the first bottle shot its cap out and one had a practical demonstration of a quart exiting a pint bottle.

Just When You Thought You'd Missed The Rake On The Lawn ...

Photo thanks to Peter Klarshorst.

.... John Prescott said that "no potential successor had the "right skills" to replace the PM" according to the BBC.

Is that really meant to inspire the electorate? There are 350 sacks of offal wearing the red rosette who are entitled to use the suffix MP when booking a table but only one is qualified to forward the emails from Brussels and Washington.

If the largest party in the UK parliament has such a dearth of talent, wouldn't the kindest thing be to call an immediate General Election and arrange 350 supported jobs as cleaners, shelfstackers and waiting staff for the former honourable members who will need to find enough folding money to pay two mortgages without expenses.

Can you see the sagebrush rolling down Whitehall? Turn the light out when you leave please.
And although I consider John Prescott has all the characteristics of a bottom, I'm not posting a photo of a bloke's. Lovely and rounded, they have an almost magnetic quality. I don't know much about art but frame that ...

Sunday, 27 July 2008

This Week's Icarus Award For Air Safety Goes To...

The two drunk British (Oh let's be patriotic, English) women arrested by German police after lamping cabin crew with a voddie bottle (ban knives!) and trying to open the cabin door at FL30
(airspeak for f***ing long way down from 30,000 ft).

Now, I expect Sandra Burke and Tracey Tunstall have suffered a minimum of eleven years of an English state education so will only know about Nelson Mandela, global warming and how to colour in a triangle. But every vitually aeroplane film with jet passenger aircraft includes a scene of explosive decompression (as happened with the Qantas B747-400) in which cabin air and any thing not nailed down is sucked out through the hole in the fuselage. Oxygen masks pop down. Airliners fly at 30,000 ft plus to "avoid the weather" and turbulence. Unfortunately this means they avoid oxygen as the air gets thinner with altitude. Consequently, aircraft cabins and cargo holds are pressurised so that the atmosphere inside equates to about 8,000ft. So attempting to open the cabin door is a very serious thing to do and I hope the book is thrown at them. (Not that they'd read it).

I have a simple solution to the problem of passengers prone to drunkenness and/or air rage endangering the safety of the aircraft, passengers and crew. Triage the passengers before takeoff. Anyone looking like Anomie Soup, Army Shithouse or whoever else is unable to sit still and quiet for a couple of hours should be assessed as "Bloody Troublemakers". Make the bastards travel crated in the hold. It's done with animals. They get a cabin all to themselves, and don't have to walk a yard to get on or off the plane as it's all done for them with floor rollers and forklifts.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Just Getting On With The Job

The Fuhrer promises to help hard fighting German families in difficult times because of global problems. He knows that two Soviet Army Groups are encircling Berlin and the impact that has on the Reich but the OKW has distributed five million panzerfausts and is training young people to equip them to better take on new challenges.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Friday Aircraft Recognition

A mixed bag this week. Good luck!

When Will Gordon Brown Announce A Withdrawal Of The Labour Party From Scotland?

Despite his non-appearance on the campaign in Glasgow East, Gordon Brown's new NewLabour still managed to lose their third strongest seat in Scotland to the SNP, a hitherto small anti-union party for which Labour provided the ideal growth medium by its cack-handed policies (similar to the growth of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland).
Given the failure of its policies in Scotland, its rejection by the electorate and the lack of a leader, it can be argued that Labour is now doing more harm than good in North Britain. Gordon Brown's NuLabour has reached the point with Scotland that Britain reaches with most of its colonies and possessions: Thank You Very Much But Please Fuck Off Now And Leave Us Alone. If he had any self-knowledge he would instruct Labour clubs to arrange the translation of Fabian Society pamphlets into Pashtu and similar languages. The Labour movement should transfer its assets to Afghanistan where they could educate the locals in the arcane rules of snooker, darts, dominoes and cheap brown ale. Backgammon, apricots and sweet tea might be more culturally sensitive. I look forward to the first Co-op opening in Musa Qala and the inaugural WEA lectures in Kandahar.

Let Eugene Sands Stay But Throw Out Our Enemies

Our much esteemed, world class Border and Immigration Service have found an obvious persona non grata in the shape of Mr Eugene Sands. He is 76, American and came to this country to scatter the ashes of his Birmingham born wife next to her parents and visit her grave daily as long as he lives. (hattip BBC). Such touching marital devotion is despised in Official Britain. Mr Sands has been officially notified that despite living on his American pension and being a law-abiding sitizen he must return to the US voluntarily or be deported in three months' time on 11 October.

Meanwhile in London Abu Qatada, who hates this country and what it stands for, but can't be sent back to Jordan because he will receive his just desserts and that would infringe his human rights, lives in an £800,000 council house and gets tens of thousands pound of state benefits for himself and his large family.

Thoughts On The Mosley Case

Well, as always it's 1-0 to the legal profession: £450,000 legal costs for the plaintiff (I prefer the old terms) and at least that much for the defence.
To be blunt, what a person got up to behind closed doors, and increasingly in public, in a state of undress, ceased to matter after the decriminalisation of homosexual behaviour and law reform which made divorce easier to obtain. People are not expected to set or abide by any standards of morality.
The only thing that automatically causes the loss of a person's reputation is an allegation of racism of any definition to which there is no defence.
The lady in the photograph is allegedly about to take part in a consensual sex game. "Justice" is the pre-agreed codeword to stop the activity.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Frog Bath Summer Clean

Today seemed the ideal day to thin out the massive weed growth in the frog pond (old green bath). I took about 4/5 of the weed out, replanting small young clumps and heaping the rest by the pond side. I'll leave it there for a couple of days to let anything living in the weed crawl back into the pond. Then it will go in the compost bin.
Well, the frogs and toads seem to like the clear up, especially the top up from the water butt, and the weed will grow back again in virtually no time. The brown tint of the water is due to some disturbed soil (vital for insects to live in and amphibs to hibernate in) on the bottom, but everything will settle down soon. I'm happy with the pond because the lack of green algae indicates the water is in good condition. A green economics cost benefit analysis shows that for perhaps two hours "work", if frog-watching is work, a year I get 24/7 security coverage for the strawberry patch next door. No slug damage or bird theft at all this year. And no need to put straw down. Frogbaths and water butts make more sense than windmills.
PS spot the froglet!

Is This Lord Lucan?

John Darwin turned up and Radovan Karadzic has been arrested. Gallimaufry claims the £10 prize for finding Lord Lucan:

Lord Lucan

Robert Mugabe

A bit of plastic surgery, a sunbed season ticket and Lucan's your Bob. The parallels are obvious. They're even wearing the same shirt! Has Private Eye noticed this yet?

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

What If Thick Athletes Were Treated As Badly As Disabled Academics?

Alice Miles has written an excellent piece in today's Times about the patronising approach that the world of work has to disability.
I was born with a minor physal disability that was not corrected despite much physiotherapy and surgery. It blighted my childhood and has blighted my adulthood. Don't believe that one can rise above the ignorance of strangers and strike one's own path in life. To do that you need money. Lots of it. When the well meaning person asks how one hurt one's ankle and then smilingly suggests an activity that is safe and suited to one's ability but is mind-numbingly dull, it takes a special sort of bravery not to respond with "big tits, well we won't be wearing a safety belt then." No wonder many people with disabilities are aggressive and rude: it's like the sign in the French zoo "this animal is dangerous; when attacked it defends itself.
I remember my first line manager in the Civil Service. After a month of working in a mindless mind-sapping job, I asked him how I was doing (I was proactive in seeking feedback before it was invented). He said, very well as they hadn't had to install rails. "Fuck me you turd-burgling arse bandit", I wanted to scream at him, "I meant how well am I doing this crap job?" I stopped working then as I realised that I would never be assessed for my achievements but instead marked down for my differences. Fortunately, as their are a lot more thicker people than me in the working population, jobs are designed for their abilities so I was able to switch off and coast along knowing that success would never be rewarded (and it wasn't on many occasions).
To be honest, the way I feel at the way I have been treated would earn me lots of folding money if I were a fenian or muslim just to stop me putting any violent thoughts into practice.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Beyond The Call Of Duty, Surely

A protester attempted to stick himself to Gordon Brown at a 10 Downing Street reception.
According to the BBC report of the incident:

"Spokesman Graham Thompson said Mr Glass - a 24-year-old post-graduate student at Strathclyde University - had smuggled a small amount of glue through Downing Street security checks in his underwear at about 1700 BST. "

Now Gordon Brown is unpopular and there's a war on terrorism going on but security checks in one's underwear is a bit, well kinky. What could they be looking for? I'm not going anywhere near the place now.

Hat tip to Womble On Tour for the original story.

Put Ed Balls In Charge Of ID Cards

Edward Balls has ballsed up his big school project, the marking of Sats papers. One thing I learned at my school*, a similar school to the Minister's, was that I was responsible for handing in my homework on time. The only excuses that might be accepted were extreme ill health and death. Now Edward is 41 and one of the brightest boys in the Lower Sixth, but he must show more responsibility and maturity if he wants to become a Senior Prefect or, possibly, House Captain of Tossers.

That is why we should stretch him with the ID Card Project. It will teach him that leaders are not necessarily the most popular members of the Junior Common Room, that application of hard work to the immediate matter in hand is most important and, hopefully, it might take the irritating twerp down a few pegs in his own estimation. He'll be better for it. And if he does make a pig's ear of it then all the better.

* St Abbs, actually.

Home Secretary Says Police Can Make Up The Law On Public Photography

As King John agreed in Magna Carta and even Jacqui Smith agrees, there is a right to take photographs in public places and there is no presumption of privacy for individuals in a public place. Go here for a download on the legal position.So the PCSO who allegedly threatened the photographer with a charge of assault for snapping pictures of stone throwing thugs was wrong. Up to a point.

According to the British Journal of Photography, our Jacqui wrote to Jeremy Dear, NUJ Secretary General on 26 June . In her letter she stated that local restrictions on photographing might be enforced "in reasonable circumstances" (my italics). "It is for the Chief Constable to decide how his or her officers should best balance the rights to freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the need for public protection." So no need for Parliament to worry its pretty little democratic head about freedom. And the Police Reform Act 2002 has granted the Home Secretary greater powers over the appointment and dismissal of Chief Constables.

So despite David Davis' by election victory, (YAWN), if the rozzers wish to do something that could bring them bad publicity or which might produce contrary evidence to the official line, or if they think it makes their job easier, they can impose a Stalinesque information blackout by preventing photographers taking uncontrolled pictures with only the legal legitimacy of a baton and pepper spray. Be very wary going about your lawful business if you are a fox hunter, a Brazilian or a mental - no one need ever see you again.

"Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself." George Orwell, 1984
picture with thanks to

Second Lieutenant Indra Lal Roy, DFC WWI Fighter Ace

He scored 10 victories (two shared) in 13 days between 6 and 19 July 1918 on his return to flying duties following recuperation after a serious air crash on 6 December 1917. The types he bagged in his SE5A (similar aircraft shown below) included Hannover Cs, Fokker D VIIs and were regarded as particularly difficult opponents by highest scoring British ace, Major Mick Mannock.

Second Lieutenant Roy was killed in combat over Carvin with Fokker D VIIs on 22 July 1918.

So much like the two weeks life expectancy of a pilot shown in the film Aces High.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Welfare Reform Is Not As Clever As James Purnell Thinks He Is

Thanks to Daily Mail

Mr Photoshop, James Purnell (extreme right in photo*), wants those sponging unemployed to pick up litter or clean graffiti in return for their benefits. I thought that those jobs were already done by Council employees or offenders under the restorative justice banner. Perhaps it offends the human rights of convicted criminals to be forced to work or there may be health and safety problems for them. Cleaning streets is dirty and hard work and I for one value the contribution that street cleaners and binmen make to society. Wouldn't it be fairer for unemployed people** to be given work more appropriate to their alleged levels of idleness? As MPs perhaps?

Summer Recess dates for the House of Commons:

22 July 2008 -
6 October 2008 (76 days)

Well the harvest has to be got in.
* Mr Purnell was delayed arriving so the official photo was doctored by an apparachik.
**An unemployed does not receive jobseekers allowance for up to 26 weeks if they are sacked for misconduct or leave their job voluntarily. Unemployed have to be looking for work as a condition of claiming jsa. If they do not satisfy the adviser they may be sanctioned and lose benefit.

A Bairnsfather For the Twenty-First Century?

After Gordon Brown Was Told He Had To Wear A Gimp Mask To Fire A Gimpy, But Before He Was Told Not Enough Were Available So He'd Have To Buy His Own.

with thanks to Guido Fawkes.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

A Bridge Too Far?

Plans are afoot to erect an Anish Kapoor designed bridge in Hartlepool because Gateshead has its Eye, London has its Millenium Bridge and money doesn't spend itself. Perhaps Anthony Gormley was fresh out of ideas if he was asked.
It is to be called the Wormhole. Unfortunately, with Peter Mandelson as a famous former MP, local wags are bound to rename it something else ending in hole.

Old Geordie joke - They used to build warships in Newcastle: well they wouldn't be making them for the Germans...

Wear This Instead Of A Hijab And Everyone Will Be Happy

Thank you BBC for a brilliant solution to the question of how devout muslim women can integrate into British society - the Dalek helmet.

BBC Accused of Anti-Islamic Bias

The BBC's Asian Network has been accused of anti-islamic bias. Poor old Auntie Beeb, after all the hard work by Barbara Plett, Orla Guerin, Frank Gardner, Frances Harrison and others in the News and Current Affairs department alone to appease and spin the RoP, it appears the alleged problem is due to the "Hindu and Sikh mafias" within the Corporation.

My reaction is akin to the interviewer's in this famous Belgian TV interview

The way that muslims claim to be discriminated against by almost everyone else is similar to how Jews have actually been treated over the centuries: with the exception of the massacres, expulsions, pogroms and Holocaust. And the fact that nobody disputes the right to existence of muslim homelands. Perhaps, if it jettisoned its anti-semitic agenda, the muslim umma would win powerful and influential friends to champion its right to equal treatment in the world (until it meets Chinese communism)?
Such a move from the comfortable status of self-inflicted institutional victimhood would mean a radical change for a religion, many of whose adherents appear to be like Millwall supporters:

"No One Likes Us, No One Likes Us, No One Likes Us – We Don't Care!
We Are Millwall, Super Millwall, We Are Millwall From The Den!
No One Likes Us, No One Likes Us, No One Likes Us – We Don't Care!
We Are Millwall, Super Millwall, We Are Millwall From The Den!"

Isn't Tony Blairmeant to be doing this already in his dual roles as faith Tsar and Middle East peace facilitator.

Brown Refuses To Give Timetable For Withdrawal Of British Troops From Iraq

Foresaking the delights of Southwold, just like he passed up a chance to go to Monkeyworld in Dorset last "Summer", Our Dear Leader, the Sage of Kirkcaldy, flew to Baghdad today.
But he wouldn't put an artificial timetable on withdrawal of British forces from the Morecambe of the Middle East. Is it because he fears a military coup when the squaddies return to their barracks in Blighty? Or because it's cheaper to send them on to Afghanistan from Basra?

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Friday Aircraft Recognition

Neither are Aviation Traders Accountants - the alleged originator of the undercarriage and Dart engine fairings.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Hazel Blears Pays Jizya To Religion of Peace

We now have a second established religion in the UK. As we are obedient dhimmis we have begun to pay the jizya. As part of the Prevent Strategy *, Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has authorised the setting up of a panel of twenty Imams (there's a title for a new Radio 4 quiz show) from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge (so Gibbon was wrong about Charlemagne and the Battle of Tours**) with a Civil Service secretariat (plenty of scope for atheists to shine in that post methinks). These teachers of islamic divinity will disabuse disaffected British youth of the violent doctrines within the Koran. Apparently, like the Bible it is really all about love and the killing bits were just put in to bring in the lads - Hollywood religion.

I am rather puzzled why, out of the 170 religions or belief systems practiced in the UK, islam is the only one that is deemed to be in need of public funding to dissuade its adherents from blowing up other British citizens.

* Oh for the days when Joyce Grenfell saying "George .... don't do that" sufficed.

**"A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet."

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Attention All 419 Scamsters

Would all the kind gentlemen who email me with foolproof business opportunities involving the advance payment of a sum of money in order to release a much larger amount please redirect your efforts to placing yourselves outside of pineapples without opening your mouths.
We have a much more sophisticated version of the 419 scam in England called the Barnett formula whereby English taxpayers pay money to other members of the Union in return for the English spending decisions to be determined by the votes of Scotch, Welch and Northern Irish members.

MPs and MEPs Are Not Like Pigs At The Trough

Oinks to the right, squeals to the left.
Please stop comparing MPs and MEPs to pigs at the trough - British pigs receive absolutely no subsidy from the taxpayer.

(photo copyright UK Parliament )

This would actually contravene pig stocking density regulations* during the Budget speech but would qualify as free range for the rest of the time.

* floor area of chamber is 3128 square feet, stocking density for porkers 50-80kg is 5.9 square feet, number of MPs in the chamber is more than 530.

The Planning System In England

How it works:

1 Applicant submits plans to local planning authority and pays the application fee.

2 Neighbouring property owners are consulted by the local planning authority.

3 Planning application is approved by the local planning authority. Outside conservation areas there is a presumption to allow development within limits. How green is that?

4 As Deep Throat said to Bob Woodward in All The President's Men "Just...follow the money."

5 If planning authorities still charged a fee but rejected applications on aesthetic or environmental grounds it would be reasonable to assume that the number of applications would decrease. It would also seem that if objectors were charged an objection fee the system might become fairer.

6 Remember, the people on the Planning Committee have approved all the Council-owned buildings built in the past sixty years.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Airships: Apples, Oranges, and Bananas

The Stella Artois badged Zeppelin NT will be floating over London this summer - anything to get people to look skywards is a Good Thing but then I am "air-minded".
To celebrate this today's Daily Mail has a feature on rigid airships and their accidents. "Oh, the humanity!"

A bit of airship background. There are three sorts of airship:

1 Rigids, like the Zeppelins, the British R100,101, the American Akron and Macon which had a metal (or wooden in the early Schutte-Lanz types) structure covered by canvas into which separate gasbags were fitted;

2 Non-Rigids, or blimps like the Goodyear Airships, the British WWI SS Zeros, or the Skyship 500 which have an envelope containing the lifting gas and one or more air-fillable ballonets to maintain the shape and rigidity of the envelope as the gas expands due to temperature and air pressure;

3 Semi-Rigids, like the Zeppelin NT, Norge or Italia which have either an internal or external keel to aid rigidity to the envelope.

Although the airship will not be flown in wind greater than 25 knots or when it is raining, those constraints are largely due to ground handling and visibility problems rather than any design limitation in the airship. Which is why I found the final paragraphs puzzling so I fisked it in red:

"But even before the Hindenburg, question marks were being raised. Helium was non-flammable, yes, but helium-fuelled airships were also fragile and had a chequered history.
Of four American-built (rigid) airships, two ditched in the sea and one was wrecked in violent winds. (The German-built Los Angeles flew safely until retired.)
The British used (hydrogen-filled) rigid airships for passenger mail, but our airship programme came to an end after the appalling tragedy of R-101. France and Italy had similar experiences.
Yet somehow the airship is too seductive a vision for people to give up on it. It floats like a butterfly as it travels quickly (? 80 knots max) and silently to its destination.
Helium-filled airships such as the Stella Artois Star over London have yet to prove themselves in bad conditions. " (Er, the USN flew helium filled patrol blimps in all weathers for many years until withdrawn in 1961 for policy reasons with a commendable safety and availability record. See the K, M and N classes)

N Class Blimp

So comparing the helium filled Zeppelin NT with the hydrogen filled Hindenburg is like comparing apples with oranges and not factoring in eighty years of technological improvement (compare a Dakota with a 787) is bananas.

Two great websites about airships Airship Heritage Trust and Airship Association.

Up Ship!

I remember an afternoon years ago when I worked in Manchester near to both Old Trafford grounds. Anyway, the Test Match was on and a Skyship 500 was floating above the ground as a camera ship. I happened to watch this beautiful sight from my desk for a while until I felt with my sixth sense the presence of evil nearby. Turning round, I saw the bald, bespectacled Grade 7 who had assumed the role of making my life a misery. "You're not paid to look out of the window. I've been watching you for five minutes." Just who was wasting more money, you twat?

Witanagemot Survey 2008

Well, it's that time of year to vote for something that the European Commission takes notice of.
Please take time to complete the Witanagemot Survey.
I've just been called precious and prone to histrionics by Good Doctor North of EUReeferendum so I'm happy to nominate him for his continued excellent work exposing the deficiencies of UK defence procurement.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Monday, 14 July 2008

Atheists Have Consciences As Well But The Law Doesn't Recognise That

This nice lady refused to carry out a lawful part of her job description, but because she is religious (ie can produce written precedent for her discriminatory practices), she is allowed to pick and choose what parts of her caseload she wishes to do. I have noted that all religious texts are crammed full of ambiguity and contradiction, not merely because of the oversight of the editor, but because it enables followers to do what they wish according to their prejudices while maintaining an air of moral authority. If you hate gays, pick Leviticus to back you up but if you don't mind them "render unto Caesar" ,"Love they neighbour"etc. Any religion that doesn't offer at least two options for any set of circumstances isn't woth the salt.

Imagine if a pair of staunch BNP members had objected to being married by anyone other than a white British person because of their firmly held views on racial purity derived from the many books that had been written on the subject. They would still be wrong and, hopefully, thrown out of the Register Office without more ado.

I had a moment of conscience when I discovered the effect of serving Notices to Treat and Enter as part of the compulsory purchase of land and property for road schemes. People who had lived in their homes for thirty or forty years could be forced to move out as a result of a government minister's decision following a public inquiry. It was always ordinary people who bore the brunt of road schemes; large concerns would be negotiated with to minimise the impact. I suddenly realised that what I was doing was morally wrong to me. However, the actions of the department were lawful. I could not say to my line manager that I would do every part of my job except serve the notices because that was simply another stage in the road-building process. Consequently, I asked for a transfer to another part of the department that did not deal with compulsory purchase. I was fortunate that a vacancy arose.

The moral of this story is that if you live by your sincerely held conscience then you should be prepared to accept the consequences.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Well Done BBC, That's How To Report Aviation

Watch this excellent report on the F-22 Raptor by Daniel Boettcher who lets the USAF Captain do the talking with just the occasional structural question. Proof that the F-22 is a pilot's aeroplane is the unmistakeable silly grin that all pilots use when talking about their favourite aircraft.

Lt. Col. James Hecker (front) and Lt. Col. Evan Dertein line up their F/A-22 Raptor aircraft behind a KC-10 Extender to refuel while en route to Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Colonel Hecker commands the first operational Raptor squadron -- the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va. The unit went to Hill for operation Combat Hammer, the squadron's first deployment, Oct. 15. The deployment has a twofold goal: complete a deployment and to generate a combat-effective sortie rate away from home. [U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt Ben Bloker]

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Knife Crime in Verona

Romeo And Juliet Act 3, Scene 1

Who could pick up a knife to hurt another person after acting out this scene?

Oh, Raymond Baxter, You Shouldst Be Living At This Hour

From today's BBC1 schedule:

Royal Air Force: Celebrating 90 YearsFri 11 Jul, 2:15 pm - 3:00 pm 45mins

Dan Snow and Kate Silverton introduce live coverage from RAF Fairford one of the largest fly-pasts ever seen in Britain. Watched by Her Majesty The Queen, ninety aircraft, from bi-planes of the First World War to the modern jets and helicopters flying in Iraq and Afghanistan today, celebrate 90 years of the Royal Air Force.

[S]Subtitles Stereo Widescreen

* For the benefit of Dan Snow, this is a Nieuport 17

I watched as much of this as I could bear ( transmission problems apparently affected the outside broadcast from Gloucestershire) but were those presenters really the best the BBC could choose to commentate and interview? I confess I enjoyed the Murray Walker/James Hunt like moment when over-excited Snow mis-identified an aircraft and was crisply and polititely corrected by the RAF officer he was interviewing. Why does TV sport have experts (hundreds of them) when something as popular as aviation (125,000 went to the RAF Waddington Airshow recently) has to make do with blokey Kate and Peter Snow's son? When Farnborough was covered by the BBC, Julian Tutt, ex-AAC helicopter pilot always made a knowledgeable and clipped contribution in the style of the peerless Raymond Baxter. Apparently, if I had been able to press the red button I could have had more detailed coverage of the flypast, but I don't have digital TV so I pressed the red button anyway and read the newspaper instead.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Friday Aircraft Recognition

And what's the link?

Two clues:

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The Safest Place In England

The Daily Mail's front page today has a big photo of genial Abu Qatada, Osama Bin Laden's ambassador in Europe, who we can't deport to our long term Middle East ally, Jordan, because it might infringe his human rights.
Now this chap has been given an £800,000 house and £56,000 a year benefits for him and his large family. The Daily Mail thinks that is a bad thing.
I think it's a good thing because Al Quaeda are hardly going to risk killing the wierdy-beardy in a terrorist attack on London. Question for would be islamic terrs: how many senior management level jihadists button on the old semtex waistcoat? "Martyr" (ie murderer) is a recruitment grade with little scope for career development.
And there is no threat from anti islamic groups because there never was a threat from anyone in the West to the islamic way of life (except the freedom to embrace democracy with equal rights and freedom of speech for all). Besides, the PC police has its eyes and ears alert to any possible or impossible trace of disrespect.
So, for under a million quid, London is safe from the reasoned argument of an oppressed community. It reminds me of the time when, being driven around Belfast, we found ourselves behind the Mayor's car. I was either in one of the safest or the most dangerous places in the Province. But, like all the best anecdotes, nothing happened.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Scrap The House of Lords: It Would Make An Ideal English Parliament

One of the purposes of the House of Lords is to review and amend legislation passed by the House of Commons. Excuse me, but is a system whereby a total of 745 Lords and Ladies check and improve the work of 646 men and women in the House of Commons an efficient way to legislate in the twenty-first century. Aren't MPs capable of reading and understanding bills to a level that should enable workable sensible laws to be passed without seeking the wise counsel of a few judges, some hereditary landowners, many party hacks, a few famous names and men with imaginary friends?
I suggest that the House of Lords is scrapped and the United Kingdom becomes a unicameral legislature with devolved parliaments for the constituent countries. There will be no need to create Lords and Ladies as Knight and Dame is sufficient public recognition of acihevement or service to the nation. The argument that the House of Lords contains people with valuable knowledge and experience that might not be available if they had to be elected to the Commons is a specious one. House of Commons Select Committees could summon the experts for examination. MPs would concentrate on legislation and holding government to account instead of being mainly social workers (much of their constituency work is done better by CAB and local councillors- the only advantage is that letters to ministers and agencies from MPs and Lords are dealt with more expeditiously than those from members of the public).
The redundant part of the Palace of Westminster would be suitable for an English Parliament with the same powers and responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament. The size of the English Parliament would be limited to 200 members, elected on the basis of one per county with the remainder from same-sized two-member constituencies using proportional representation.
Salaries and allowances would be pegged to Civil Service grade 7.

"Move Because I'm Not Stopping"

That's what a cyclist who, in effect, murdered a young girl shouted before ploughing into her at between 17-23 mph causing her to smash her head on the pavement. But as bicyles are as in the view of the law the preferred mode of transport of "old maids cycling to Evensong" and so the offence the killer was charged with has a maximum sentence tariff of £2,500. Oddly, there is an offence of "causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving" which has a higher tariff and was successfully used in the Gary Green case.

I advise da boyz in da hood to swap der blades 'n' iron for BMX bikes. Then if they wish to harm others that is their choice but the law will treat them more gently - unlawful possession of a knife = 5 years in chokey, unlawful possession of a bicycle = pat on back from Dave and Boris and all the other green parasites who get money for bike lanes and cycle proficiency lessons (ha!)

You may think I am biased against bicyclists. Quite right! There are two sorts:

Ones who are scared to death of ending under a lorry, bus or car and therefore adopt a sensible and polite laissez faire attitude to road users and pedestrians;

The arrogant spiteful bastards who think they are above the law, who take all manner of risks and offload on to pedestrians the bile and swearing they have rightfully been given by drivers forced to slam their brakes on to avoid them careering on their own sweet way.

"You can't blame me, I'm a cyclist" is their motto. I was attacked a few years ago by a cyclist in the middle of Birmingham. Knocked down a pavement. As I picked myself up, I shouted to the departing bikenazi, "Oi!" He turned is rat-faced head and said, " I said sorry". If only I had been able to counter attack him with the same force that he used on me I would have served 2 years in prison.
My policy on cyclists is simple: register and tax all bicycles and make sure that offenders are punished for lack of bells, lights and reflectors, make cycle third party insurance compulsory, put causing death or injury on a bicycle on a par with motor vehicles.
In conclusion, there are good cyclists and there are bad ones. It is in everybody's interest that the killings of innocent pedestrians like Rhiannon Bennett and Gary Green are not allowed to happen again.

Religion is a Severe Disability Apparently

In an out of court settlement a beauty salon has paid £1,500 each to three disabled girls who were asked to leave because they "scared the customers".

In a recent employment tribunal a hairdresser was ordered to pay £4,000 for injury to feelings as a result of "indirect discrimination" to a job applicant who refused to remove her head scarf.*

Has a legal precedent been set that adherence to religion is, in effect, almost three times more serious a disability than epilepsy and CP? Is the old legal principle of "one law for you and one for me" operating here?

* I wonder how much a job applicant at a halal or kosher slaughterhouse might get for refusing to slaughter animals without first humanely stunning them?

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Happy Birthday Captain Ram Bahadur Limbu VC

Today marks the 69th birthday of Captain Ram Bahadur Limbu VC who was awarded it following an action on 21 November 1965 as a 26 year old Lance-Corporal of 2 Bn, 10th Princess Mary's Own Ghurka Rifles in Sarawak during the Indonesian Confrontation.
Lance-Corporal Limbu and two other Ghurkas were in the van of a sixteen strong patrol. Despite extremely difficult terrain and vegetation, they made their way up to a machine gun post on the crest of a hill. When they got within ten yards it opened fire. Limbu then ran forward alone killing a sentry with a grenade. The entrenched thirty man Indonesian platoon opened fire, seriously wounding both his comrades. Disregarding his personal safety, Limbu left cover four times despite heavy automatic fire and mortaring, to report the situation to his platoon commander, to carry the two wounded to safety, recover the Bren and then proceed to account for several more enemy soldiers.

Truly heroic.
Here's the London Gazette of 21 April 1966.

The Liberty Bell Rings Out Across The World

On this day in 1776 the Old State House Bell that became known as the Independence Bell and later the Liberty Bell was rung to announce the reading of the Declaration of Independence to the citizens of Philadelphia. Apparently, this wasn't totally true but the best parts of a country's history don't have to be 100% accurate; they just have to reflect a greater truth.
And the greater truth is indeed what is contained in the Declaration of Independence. And the Thirteenth Amendment.
What makes the Liberty Bell even more memorable is the Liberty Bell March by John Phillip Sousa.

More Wasted Food: Kiwi Fruits And M&S

Here's a good example of perfectly good food being wasted but Gordon doesn't mention it. Nor does Dave or Nick. It's because an EU Directive on the legal size of kiwi fruit sets the minimum weight at 62 grammes and these were 58 grammes. The Bristol wholesaler faced a £5,000 fine if he sold or gave them away. So 5,000 had to be dumped. And yet if the snorterati are found with white powder there is never enough evidence....

And Marks & Spencer are installing anaerobic digesters to convert waste food into heat and energy. A good idea for local small scale energy production that doesn't rely on the sun or wind. but if Prescott gets the munchies get out the candles...

Monday, 7 July 2008

Solution To The Wasted Food Problem

A new role serving the nation for Rt Hon John Prescott, MP

(photo thanks to The Sun)

"Are you going to finish that sausage, love?"

Well, If You Don't Want The Adolf Waxwork, Send It To London

For historical reasons the Germans are very sensitive about the 1933-45 period (but most of them didn't mind until 1943 onwards (after Stalingrad and when Bomber Command got into gear). Consequently, the installation of a waxwork of their erstwhile Fuhrer in the new Berlin Tussauds has caused considerable guilt and anxiety and controversy and resulted in the removal by force of the maquette's skillfully crafted (each hair individually inserted etc) head by an outraged visitor. Good for him - if only he'd been around for the Stauffenberg plot, Adolf wouldn't have walked away with burst eardrums and no trousers.
Now, Madame Tussaud's in London doesn't have a Gordon Brown dummy. Why not fly the Austrian paperhanger over, shave off his 'tache, change his hair parting and dress him up in an old suit? Voila! And what a prudent use of scarce resources at a difficult time for the British economy due to global conditions outside our control.

(photo at top Bloomberg News, below Daily Mail)

I'm not comparing Brown with Herr Nasty in any way: Adolf had a relatively successful and popular first couple of years in power and he fought a general election after he was appointed Chancellor .
The Reichstag Fire Decree, an emergency measure to counter the terrorist threat facing Germany at the time, resonates across the decades.

The Son Of The Manse On Food - Back To Basics

Gordon has just reached his Back To Basics point of no return. Apparently, food is so expensive because we waste 4 million tonnes of it each year. A bit of arithmetic:

Population: 60 million and rising

4/60 = 0.0667 or 66.7kg per person per year or

66.7/365 = 0.183 kg per person per day

0.183kg = 6 1/2 ounces

However, does this figure include food reaching its sell-by date that supermarkets trash? (can't criticise supermarkets though)

What about the government sponsored healthy eating advice to leave some food on your plate? (mixed message from joined up government)

Does this include packaging and losses from preparation? (not everyone has a compost bin and leftovers are now verboten for chickens and pigs)

What Gordon wants is a return to the Ministry of Food and Woolton Pie for us. What I suggest is that all the restaurants in to Palace of Westminster are converted into British Restaurants and MPs' £20 daily food allowance is scrapped.

A word to the wise, Gordon. Every MP earns about three times the average wage; the total package available is £130,000. You are paid at least £190,000 meals and lodging included. May I suggest that you take a medium sized parsnip, peel it, season it and stick it in whichever of your orifices it pleases your goodself as one of your feral MPs advised his constituent recently. And don't tell me what to do about food - I will promise not to tell you to sell gold at the bottom of the market.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Ray Lewis: A Question

I'm not making any comment except to underline that Ray Lewis is innocent until proven guilty. But was any advice on the character and suitability of Ray Lewis sought and received from the Chair of the Board of the Eastside Young Leaders' Academy or one of its board members? I only ask because the Chair is Steve Norris, former Conservative candidate for London Mayor and the board member in question is Francis Maude MP. They should know that anything, even if it has no impact on Ray Lewis' ability to inspire and achieve great results at EYLA*, would be seized on by the ever-hungry news media in their efforts to fill the bulletins and pages to ensure their survival.

* I hope EYLA will not be damaged by this scandal which has nothing to do with its marvellous work.

Majid Ahmed Deserves A Second Chance (And So Do I)

UPDATE 5 July: I've just received a comment from Majid Ahmed that clarifies matters to my satisfaction. I wish the reports I read in the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Times and Daily Mail and the BBC website had been more complete as I could then have seen the whole picture and blogged accordingly.
Thanks to Majid's clarification I am now going to rewrite this post again (When the facts change one changes one's mind). The final text will be in blue, obsolete text in black and any explanation will be in red. And please read Majid's comment as I'm sure you will then realise what a thoroughly decent and mature chap with lots of potential he is.
I'm a bit annoyed that my innate sympathy for the underdog has caused me embarrassment after I wrote the paragraphs below earlier: I still have an innate sympathy for the underdog.
Come on Imperial College, show a bit of humanity and give this reformed hard worker a place at medical school. You can bet he'll keep his head down and he'll bring life experience far wider than his peers. And what's the point of him reforming and turning his back on a single night of misjudgement if he isn't able to put himself back on track? Don't you understand that someone who has been through the criminal justice system and emerged as a reformed, motivated young man would be the last person to jeopardise his future?

Please reconsider your decision.

This is the CPS guide on Majid Ahmed's spent offence of burglary dwelling. You can see that four months' community service is at the low end of the tariff (although if it's done properly like Majid did it, it's tough) which shows the severity of the offence and mitigation. And if anyone thinks I'm being soft, my house in Manchester was burgled at Christmas nearly twenty years ago but I would be more than satisfied if the toerag concerned had shown the remorse and put his life back on the track again like Majid Ahmed.

And here's a report on the June 1958 "prank" whereby a car was put on the roof of Cambridge University's Senate House. How many crimes could have been committed?

"The then Dean of Caius, the late Rt. Rev Hugh Montefiore, had an idea of who was responsible and sent a congratulatory case of champagne to their staircase, while never revealing his suspicions in public."

Different times indeed. As one of my Law Professors said, The Criminal Law only comes into operation if the police are aware of a breach.

Update 21:10 Thanks to Tom in the comments I've checked the Imperial College School of Medicine website and found some interesting links regarding criminal records. They are clear. But see this quote from Imperial College: "Thank you for your letter of 20 december...Since your conviction is regarded as spent my understanding is that you would not be expected to disclose it in your application. Consequently, the information you have provided me will not be attached to your application..." But mistakes can be made - and, if possible, corrected. Everyone needs to have a CRB check completed. Majid Ahmed ought to have mentioned his spent conviction as it might not have disbarred him from a place. But not mentioning it may (without seeing the risk assessment) have raised doubts aboubt his openness and judgement. I was wrong in making this assumption from the scanty facts and timeline then available to me.

Thanks, Tom for helping me dig deeper. I respect your opinion. But I was wrong. And Majid, if you read this, please don't give up. Reapply next year and disclose everything. Next time I see you in the papers or on the telly I hope it's because you've got a place at Imperial or Harvard. I'm sure you'll make an excellent doctor - although you have the persuasiveness of a politician or barrister, you must follow your vocation. Good Luck.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

The Royal Navy Is Rebuilding The Yamato And Musashi

All the media cheered when the contract to build the two Queen Elizabeth class supercarriers was signed on 3 July. The order will safeguard 10,000 British jobs and that is about as far as the strategic thinking about the contribution of these ships to national defence went.
It's all very well having a couple of big boats in the bath but a navy needs a balanced force to support these targets as they are known in naval parlance, from air and submarine attack. A radar and sonar bubble has to reach to the horizon and appropriate weaponry and counter-measures for distant and close in threats deployed around the flagship to protect it. Only when this protection is in place, is the carrier able to project its offensive strike capability in hostile waters.
To protect the two carriers the Royal Navy plans to have eight Type 45 destroyers and seven Astute class submarines. It's not really enough hulls in the water given the worldwide commitments of the Royal Navy.
I suggest that naval ship design and procurement is changed to enable three 27,000 tonne carriers of the HMAS Canberra, Juan Carlos I, or Cavour type to be acquired. These are more flexible ships more appropriate to the types of war the UK will fight and more useful in peacetime for projecting soft power. The Daring class destroyers will be used to support the smaller carriers. For the maid of all work, patrol and drugs interdiction tasks of the Royal Navy, a dozen ships based on the USN littoral combat ship concept should be procured. Alternatively, a steel hulled upscaled Sea Fighter should be considered because of the benefits of its swath hull design which enables more helicopters or UAVs to be carried. And the FAA should be expanded to have more general purpose helicopter squadrons.

And the reference to the Yamato and Musashi in the title? Well, they were essentially defenceless without the support vessels and aircraft that the USN had sunk and shot down.

Friday, 4 July 2008

School SAT Results Delayed

Another education muck up by the people who were never made Milk Monitors* to be spun away. Apparently, there have been problems with the new software and paperwork.

Couldn't they say they'd done the work on time but left it on the bus? We expect so little of this government that that excuse would have been accepted with a sigh provided the government kept quiet in class and didn't drink ink.

* My infant school was brilliant because we wore a proper stiff brimmed hat when handing out the little bottles with a straw at breaktime. Must admit the milk tasted a bit cheesy on hot days (the crates were refrigerated in a shady corner outside) but my generation sat on coconut matting to "Listen With Mother" on the radio. And we made batik scarves in art - hot wax, 36 in the class, no classroom assistants, no lasting injuries. That taught me all I need to know about health & safety: be very careful and don't sit at the same table as clumsy Nigel.

Friday Aircraft Recognition

Which is which?

And what is the connection of one of them with these?

A cryptic clue.

Happy Fourth of July, America!

You people of the former American Colonies and your later acquisitions seem to be governing yourselves pretty well after taking it upon yourselves in 1776 not to be ruled by Great Britain. Do you mind if we English patriots borrow your Declaration of Independence to make a copy please? We're having a few problems with the neighbours to the north (you are so lucky to have Canadians there) and our own independence is probably for the best. It'll certainly be cheaper for us unless they're awarded alimony.

Anyway, have a nice holiday. Enjoy the hotdogs, burgers, ice cream, fireworks and baseball.

(click to enlarge)

Thursday, 3 July 2008

1 April Harriet Harman Walkabout With Stab Vest

And I poked fun at the Rt. Hon lady for walking around her Peckham constituency with a Police escort.
Sadly, the death by stabbing of Dee Willis just off Peckham High Street on Tuesday night shows the gap between reality and the wonderful world of the Leader of The House.
One really ought to wear a stab vest or stay off the streets in South London. Have the Met lost the Battle of South London? Why doesn't Home Secretary Jacqui Smith put £20 in the envelope, sign the leaving card and replace Sirianblair with someone with the relevant experience leadership ability and
(photo thanks BBC)
track record needed to counter the problem. Step forward Colonels Collins and Mendonca. And just think how all the Police unions would be pissed off with such an imaginative breach of the canteen closed shop.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Which Image Is Offensive To More People?

Yes, that's right: it's the one underneath. In the spirit of dhimmitude, Tayside Police apologised for any offence caused. The photos in the slideshow at top (please click cat photo) are of the bungled terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport on 30 June last year. But, for the sake of community relations, you are meant to forget that (unless the Home Office needs a reason for CCTV, 42 day detention, ID Cards, etc).

Thanks for your comment, Private Hook. I have to admit that at first I thought it was the animal rights people that were offended by a stuffed puppy inelegantly stuck to a woman police officer's hat. Rather like an old foxfur stole or a shaman's headdress. Isn't there an Italian regiment with a crow roosting on their ceremonial helmets? It may be ok for Ascot but it's not a patch on a Guardsman's bearskin for creating gravitas. Mind you, those eyes would be ideal for mounting minicams