Saturday, 31 May 2008

The Energy Crisis: Coal Is A Solution Again









Britain sits on coal: hundreds of years' worth at annual consumption levels . The technology for CO2 sequestration already exists and is in use in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea oilfields to increase oil recovery. In addition to pumping CO2 underground beneath impermeable rock strata, there also exists technology to grow algae using CO2 bubbled through water as described here, here and here.

In the 1960's the technologies to extract oil from the North Sea did not exist. However, by the late 1970's advances in rig design, drilling techniques and equipment, unmanned submersibles and deep sea diving meant that extracting oil and bringing it ashore was, in conjunction with a higher oil price, both feasible and economical.

Britain has a world-class biotechnology industry to develop better strains of algae, a world class robotics industry to, say, develop unmanned coalmining machinery to exploit reserves more efficiently or exploit previously unmineable seams. Energy generation from coal might take place entirely underground with perhaps, extremophile bacteria consuming the coal , or controlled combustion warming water pipes. Alternatively, coal could be converted into liquid fuel. Local combined heat and powerplants could ease the strain on the National Grid whilst it is upgraded. Whatever method is used it is inevitable that efficiency will increase massively as it did in the first Steam Age when Watt improved on Newcomen's engines.

The question of energy and energy security must be given the high priority it requires. Energy is just as vital a part of national security as food production and IT/comms.

In conclusion, renewable energy generation like solar and wind power are only feasible if energy consumption and therefore, standard of living drops considerably. Oil and gas have to be imported from insecure or hostile parts of the world (before I turn the tap on ,what exactly didn't you like about our Eurovision entry?) and nuclear power is expensive, high maintenance and takes a long time to commission. I'm not arguing that coal should be the only means of heat and power generation but it should be the dominant player given Britain's geographical inheritance.
(photo of old underground mining machinery thanks to Oracle Foundation ThinkQuest)

Aren't These Chaps Actually Oompa-Loompas?

(original photo thanks to AP)

Excuse my political incorrectness but that was my first reaction: I liked the 1971 film of the book. Looks a rough area - definitely not the sort of place for Jacqui Smith or Harriet Harman to go walkabout.
This previously uncontacted tribe has been discovered on the border of Brazil and Peru. Note their use of red tree bark as a body paint. Ethnographers are attempting to decipher the abstract orange patterns on the ground next to their hut. Initial theories include stylised representations of game animals or religious symbols.
I just hope they are left alone by the loggers and missionaries who are encroaching on their tribal territory. A good fishing tackle shop, Sky TV and a Waitrose would be handy though.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Bye-bye Euroscepticism, Hello Anglophilia

EUReferendum has another brilliant idea: stop pointing out the faults of the EU (they'll never change) and think of the positive aspects of England * outside the EU instead.
To this end I'm going to investigate the benefits of similar independent countries.


It may look a bit like the Lake District but it's Norway. Here's the history and statistics. So population size and density wise Norway has a bit more elbow room but a lot of its area is unusable or inhospitable (The reason why the Vikings went pillageabout). But Norway seems to manage alright without being in the EU. Admittedly it has an awful lot of oil and gas in the North Sea but England has other advantages that Norway lacks. So, if Norway can make a fist of things, why can't the same be true for England? And as an afterthought, with independence we would get our fishing rights back to manage sustainably just like Norway. Comments please.
Norway was a founder member of Nato so her defence is assured (provided Germany, Belgium, Spain etc aren't expected to lift a finger to help).
* Well, being a Warwickshire lad I'm biased.

RAF Bentley Priory Stands Down Today

RAF Bentley Priory was the HQ of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. It's up there with Stonehenge as part of England's heritage. Here's the history of it.
And here's a Hurricane photo to cheer me up and salute those brave souls who saved this island during that lonely summer.





Oh, go on then...

(photo with thanks to Colin Body)

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Foynes Flying Boat Museum

with thanks to http://www.omniairgroup.com/ for the photo. Click on this link for a bigger picture.


Now, I have a thing about flying boats and I would love to recreate the classic Imperial Airways Southampton to Cape Town route. As there's no Short Empire Class boats left and I don't think any Sandringhams are still airworthy, I'm on the look out for a low hours Shin Meiwa PS-1/US-1 or similar to convert. Doesn't the sight of any flying boat on the step get you excited?
Canadair CL-415s and Catalinas just don't have that quatre-moteur je ne sais quoi. Just imagine cruising at 2,000 feet at 150 knots, admiring the landscape and herds of animals, staying in a 5* hotel at night and being ferried to and from the boat in a motor launch.

Are Our Submarines Seaworthy?

Best hold off the diving for a while chaps. And stay within sight of land. * Thank goodness they can't be sent to Afghanistan. Well, only indirectly. I'm sure this was not based on a shred of truth.

* Lovely how the local paper gets the local angle in the headline.

How Our Society Is Enriched By Other Cultures No 417

I'm not commenting on this story because I'm incandescent with anger at the so-called parents' evil rejection of their baby daughters. How could anyone value human life so little?

Gordon Brown And Energy Policy

Nuclear Power

From Wikpedia:

"Links with nuclear power industry

Another controversial issue was the link between Brown's brother Andrew and one of the main nuclear lobbyists, EDF Energy,[87] given the finding that the government did not carry a proper public consultation on the use of nuclear power in its 2006 Energy Review.[88] Attention has also been drawn to the fact[89] that the father-in-law of Brown's closest adviser Ed Balls, Tony Cooper (father of the Labour minister Yvette Cooper) has close links with the nuclear industry. Cooper was described as an "articulate, persuasive and well-informed advocate of nuclear power over the last ten years" by the Nuclear Industry Association on his appointment as Chairman of the British Nuclear Industry Forum in June 2002. He is also a member of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and was appointed to the Energy Advisory Panel by the previous Conservative administration.[90]"

Oil Supply

They're not making it any more and UK peak oil was 1999.

And the excellent Guido Fawkes has a brilliant post on the subject. Please read the George Osborne link as well.

Summary

So what was Brown and Blair doing between 1997 and this year to solve the problem? Especially when the price fell to $11 barrel. I think the phrase used in staff assessments is either "displayed a lack of foresight" or "not proactive in anticipating changing circumstances". Eleven wasted years is a good description of UK energy policy if one ignores biofuels (not a good idea) or windmills (unfeasible).

Gordon Brown's New Defence Policy:

Stand still and get hit. You will give me the moral highground. You fought scum like a gentleman.
Honestly, banning cluster bombs won't make wars any nicer despite the wishes of our Dear Leader. Why not ban RPGs or anti-vehicle mines as well? The only outcome of a cluster bomb ban will be a return to carpet bombing using bigger bombs or increased use of the small diameter munitions (bigger bombs) currently under development. So the same number of people will be blown into smaller pieces. It is an unfortunate fact that weapons are only successfully banned when the military decide they are not effective. For example, poison gas was banned not because of Wilfred Owen's poetry or John Singer Sargent's paintings but because weather conditions made its use too unpredictable on the battlefield: the wind would blow it back on the attackers or dampness would prevent its speedy dissipation from captured areas making them untenable.
May I humbly suggest to Gordon Brown that he calls in the Defence Chiefs for a breakfast with coffee and croissants and tells them that he accepts the blame for Labour getting the UK stuck into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars but that they must use all available defence expenditure to win those wars with the most effective equipment available now. And if that means that FRES APCs, Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and further Typhoons are cancelled to pay for that then so be it. More mine clearance vehicles, transport aircraft, helicopters and purpose designed mine-protected vehicles are needed now. As Clemenceau famously said, "My home policy: I wage war; my foreign policy: I wage war. All the time I wage war". There is no point preparing for the next war until the present wars are over.
Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be managed down to "an acceptable level of violence" as was done in Northern Ireland. They are full-on wars that sap the strength of our forces every month they continue. Aircraft, vehicles and equipment are being worn out quicker than planned for and although morale is high, trained soldiers are leaving because of frequent tours and the feeling that they've done their bit. And I don't blame them. I blame the heroes who kept quiet around the Cabinet table and didn't ask questions. I blame those who can find the time to write a letter consoling a footballer for missing a penalty but who can't visit a military hospital or funeral because of pressure of work.

Rain Rain Go Away


Come again another day.
Little Johnny wants to play;
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again!
Rain, rain, go away,
Come again some other day,
We want to go outside and play,
Come again some other day
We've had over 2 inches of rain in just over two days - in May for goodness sake!
Apologies to all of you in Australia and elsewhere who have been enduring droughts for years but this combined with Gordon Brown really hacks me off. Just when I was about to refurb the rockery. Still, the blackbirds and robins have taken advantage of the worms etc being forced to the surface and I've put extra seed out for the sparrows, tits and finches. The frogs like the rain, of course, because the temperature is around 20 degrees C.
Notice the blue barrels for storing rain off the shed roof; haven't they been useful?

An English Artist: Beryl Cook

Beryl Cook died today at home surrounded by her family. It would take an artist of Mrs Cook's considerable talents to paint the scene and produce a tear and a smile simultaneously from the viewer.
She was not a Royal Academician, which says more about that institution than her skills, but she painted nude comfy ladies of a certain age without contempt for the subject like the much more fashionable (to the art elite) Sir Lucian Freud. And she never won the Turner Prize, but instead won the recognition of the majority of ordinary English folk, just like Jack Vettriano. Beryl Cook was, in the trendy vernacular of the cultural world, accessible, but without using spray cans.
Thank you for making the world a better place and for inspiring others to pick up a brush.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Or You Could Look At The Problem From Another Direction

Mental health care fails Asians according to the Chief Executive of the Leicestershire NHS Trust. He blames "institutional racism" for the "lack of engagement" with the South Asian "Community". Well, that's one way of looking at the problem. Or one could say that it is madness gone politically correct.
It's similar to this problem in our prison "community" . Apparently, "apprehension about Muslim prisoners has potentially damaging consequences and is in danger of "leading to hostility and Islamophobia". Well, that's one way of looking at the problem.
Peter Simple in the Daily Telegraph's Way of the World Column introduced Professor Heinz Kiosk, a sociologist, who analysed all social problems as "It's all our fault."
Could the evil, smug bastards who dreamt up multiculturalism as a means to destroy England please top themselves by a method of their choice (empowerment). I no longer want to be integrated into British society (motto: Grab What You Can).
Please excuse me while I go into the garden shed to join the muffled shouting "community".

Here's Another One To Identify

Both names please!

And here's a brilliant site from Vic Flintham
And please try the Virtual Aircraft Museum as well

MP's Allowances




Average income in the UK is about £23,764 before tax and national insurance. It is now suggested that MPs, having been severely embarrassed by the amounts of money they claim for their second homes and meals, are given a £23,000 tax-free* grant so that their voters will not be able to see how many lightbulbs or satellite TV they claimed for.
As even Nick Clegg MP is wondering what the point of Parliament is, I propose that in any election where turnout is less than 80% that percentage is deducted from the MP's salary for the duration of the parliament. In addition, the work of MPs should be independently reviewed and consideration should be given to moving Parliament to a cheaper part of the country to cut expenses.

*that's equal to £38,333 before tax for people on the 40% tax rate like MPs .

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Euroscepticism Is Not Dead

Read this post from the brilliant EUReferendum site and then watch this video:







And what about this news item from the Daily Telegraph? I want a sky burial.

So, remember that the winner is the one left standing at the end.


Police Accountability 2008 Style

I found this interesting news item via the Last Englishman's blog. Thanks again, Theo.
Here's the law on the subject of police stopping motor vehicles. So it is appears that the untraceable* copper was using a loophole in the law which enables a vehicle to be stopped just for displaying an English flag but not a pedestrian. And I bet no driver has ever been asked to remove this flag from view (except in India).

The moral of the story is that one can never be too politically correct in the public service as these recent news items show here and here.**
*untraceable because no record is made of vehicle stops if no reportable offence is committed.
**Avon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service have a draconian policy against miscreants. Strange then that their Police counterparts didn't prosecute or investigate anyone for open air sex.

Armstrong Whitworth AW52



Of course, Armstrong Whitworth in Coventry built something similar sixty odd years ago when virtually everyone thought fuselages and tailplanes were going out of fashion:



(with thanks to Bomberguy on Youtube)


And now a joint Cambridge-MIT project called the Silent Aircraft Initiative has schemed this design:

Well if it looks right, it probably is right.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Sir Robert Peel's Nine Points of Policing

These are still true 180 odd years after he set out his philosophy to establish ethical police forces:

1 The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
2 The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
3 Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
4 The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
5 Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
6 Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.
7 Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
8 Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
9 The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

Quite surprisingly, he makes no mention of CCTV.

How Stonehenge Was Built

New research, as reported in today's Times, suggests that the positions of Stonehenge's* stones were set out by two men with a length of rope and several pegs. I believe this theory over others because it smacks of the same practical common sense of the English tribes that sited the monument next to the A303 to allow easy delivery of building materials. And Stonehenge itself was probably a Bank Holiday weekend diy project that was never finished. If only they'd kept the receipts for the stones so they could have been returned for a refund. But, given that the builders were Englishmen, I will never understand why they wanted to build a shed** out of stone in the first place.... another mystery to solve.

*the abandoned site of the 2012 BC Olympic Games according to one theory.

** the greatest contribution to world architecture of the English man. The word "shed" is actually a corruption over centuries of the word "stonehenge".
Is this the descendent of an astronomical observatory or a spacecraft terminal? Utter poppycock. But, there is ample room inside Stonehenge to store a lawnmower.

English Independence: The Hour Before Dawn Is The Darkest

The peerless Richard North at EUReferendum seems to be down in the dumps about euroscepticism. It might be be because of the Eurovision result or the several hacks of EUReferendum's forum by fundamentalist muzzies or simply because the weather is, like here in Godiva's City, very wet and grey. The Europhiles have fought a long battle and we sceptics and English patriots should take a similar long view of the campaign. Things may be dark for England, but so it was after the fall of France, the foray of the Imperial Japanese Navy into the Indian Ocean in April/May 1941 and the first delivery of tinned snoek. But victory, albeit at great cost was ultimately ours. And yesterday was warm and sunny and the garden's coming on nicely so here's some photos of a corner of an English garden:



And even Nick Clegg MP of the LibDems is getting down in the dumps from the pointlessness of the whole system . Just a few more prods of ice-clear logic from EUReferendum and the Liberals might rediscover their roots* and become eurosceptic and English patriots again.

*or realise there's votes to be won

Two more from the Golden Age to identify


Sunday, 25 May 2008

So Why Don't We Do The Same To Iran?

Iran paid militia terrorists in Basra $300 month each to murder British troops according to an intelligence report. Funny (not haha) how" intelligence" can be sexed-up to start a war with one terrorist state but the plain truth is ignored to protect the real threat to the UK. And the British Government lied repeatedly over several years to have a democratic and peaceful Iranian opposition party proscribed as a terrorist group.
So why did the British government think they could conduct meaningful (appeasement)diplomacy with this paraiah state? I'm in a generous mood and will accept inbred Foreign Office* anti-semitism** and incompetence as the reason on this occasion. But a bit of covert score settling should be authorised for national security reasons. After all if the Iranians get away with kidnapping sailors and marines and killing squaddies scot-free, why shouldn't they try something else?

* The Foreign Office looks after British interests abroad, apparently.

** think of the romance of Lawrence of Arabia and Omar Khayan and compare it to the tedium of a functioning pro-Western state like Israel.

Armstrong Whitworth AW 169 Project

The Ultimate Meteor!
This unbuilt* project for a high speed high altitude bomber interceptor to RAF Specification F155T in the 1950s provided valuable data for the designers of the Bristol 188 that Theo has featured over the last couple of days. Proof that Armstrong Whitworth was at the leading edge of aircraft design as well as outstanding build quality and skills within the Hawker-Siddeley group and a reproof to those who ordered the closure of AWA at Baginton and Whitley following "Honest Harold's" cancellation of the world beating AW 681 VTOL tactical transport for the RAF in 1965.

* except as this model

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Nimrod XV230

Some background links on the Nimrod:

Nimrod XV230

Nimrod history here and here.

So it would appear that the Nimrod was a low-cost quick-fix modification of an obsolescent airframe with extensive modifications necessary to fit larger engines and undercarriage into the wing-fuselage junction area. The design was signed off at an acceptance conference in 1968. I don't blame anyone at that conference for not guessing that the aircraft would fly for over 35 years( its predecessor the Shackleton stayed in maritime reconnaissance service for only 21 years) and would receive an in-flight refuelling probe and pipework during the Falklands conflict.
The Nimrod MR2 has been battling on well past its planned retirement date in the expectation that the MR4 (old MR2 fuselages on new wings and tails) will replace it in 2012 or so.
Nimrod XV230 was flying in Afghanistan because it had been fitted with an L3 MX-15 camera . This very useful piece of equipment is small enough to be fitted to a light aircraft or medium helicopter. Why wasn't that done instead?
Per Ardua Ad Astra was all very well in the Second World War when aircrew bravely fought in often second-rate, dangerous aircraft knowing that the war had to be waged with whatever was available. But this is now. The Nimrod fleet should be grounded until repairs are carried out to rectify its faults or retired if the cost is disproportionate. The capability gap could be filled with wet-leased Atlantiques or Orions until the Boeing P-8A is available, ideally combined with Global Hawk UAVs. The Nimrod MRA4 should go the way of the AEW3.

Friday, 23 May 2008

The By-Election Result And Other Breaking News

As yet unconfirmed but...
Tamsin Dunwoody-Mugabe wins by 25,000 votes to nil following a surprise run off between her and Edward Timpson. BBC later admits to problems with phone-voting software and offers him six months' work in a West End musical of his choice as compensation. Gordon Brown reduces the price of oil to $4.99 and Cherie Blair's bacon sandwiches swing those Middle East peace talks.

Explosion in Exeter

Nice place. Haven't been to the city for over twenty years but I recall a less traumatic explosion in an Indian restaurant toilet there: never attempt a Phal curry unless you are within crouch-running distance of the bog. I realized this uber-vindaloo was a bad idea when my eyes began to melt. The loo paper caught fire. Exeter was also the place where I began my life's work of finding, cooking and eating good food.
So this news item is very sad. I wish the poor chap a speedy and full recovery from his injuries both physical and psychiatric. I'm just glad he was religious as it may have saved his life.
Just how many people who don't understand that islam is a religion of peace will it take before the Archbishop of Canterbury stands up and quotes the relevant suras and hadiths that prove it?
And wouldn't it be right and proper to give the scum who abused that vulnerable chap a Phal at every mealtime in prison?

Update 3 June: Nicky Reilly was charged today with two offences.

Bank Holiday on Monday 26 May

I have been asked by a reader overseas to explain what a Bank Holiday is. In England we value the contribution made to the nation's well-being by those heroes behind the armoured glass so much that everyday thousands of citizens slowly march back and forth within banking halls in mute testament to them.
In addition, our public holidays honour those individuals whose careers raise them above the heads of their colleagues in that vital industry. Consequently, the bank holiday at the start of May recognises the achievements of Nick Leeson in the early nineties. Ironically, many claim that Leeson rose to brilliance because his managers were on holiday, but that should not take any shine off his success. This coming Monday will be a day of DIY and traffic jams to salute popular slaphead Adam Applegarth whose risky strategy sunk Northern Rock at a cost to the taxpayer of untold £ billions.
Bankers of England we salute you!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

What else would a single mother of five fighting for a job say?

Yeah-but-no-but-yeah-but -no-but-yeah

Actually, she's the only grand-daughter of a baroness in the village.

Update 23 May: Alas, the voters of Nantwich & Crewe preferred the grandson of a shoemender to represent them by a majority of 7,860. Never mind, there's always the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament or the European Parliament to try for a comfortable salary and expenses package.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

These People Are A Danger To England

I have just watched the Channel 4 Dispatches programme entitled "In God's Name" first broadcast on Monday 19 May. See again via 4oD. This examined christian fundamentalism in England and was as worrying and thought provoking as the Dispatches episode last year on muslim fundamentalism. The zealots featured in this programme appeared equally bigoted and certain of their positions until asked to justify the more unfriendly parts. (For some light relief, do watch the bit where God communicates His wishes to the head of the Christian Voice pressure group with seagull poo).
The main difference is the access that the christian fundamentalists appear to have with politicians. Significant parts of the Tory Party seems to have become infected with the pernicious religiosity that has perverted the American Republican Party. I had thought England had rid itself of unthinking literal literal believers when the Mayflower sailed to Plymouth Massachusetts in 1620, enabling the middle ground of theists that remained to accept the Toleration Act after the Restoration. Of course, religious bigotry discriminated against catholics and non-conformists until the early nineteenth century, but that was still fifty-odd years before Charles Bradlaugh was allowed to sit in Parliament as an atheist.
Now, as an atheist, I don't mind the Church of England and Roman Catholic church or the Society of Friends or indeed any denomination that filters its beliefs through common sense and experience. And, provided the criminal law is not broken by their incitement to hate selected sections of society, I don't really mind the fundamentalists, although I disagree with their views. What I do now consider is necessary for national security is for the public services to ban recruitment of members of all fundamentalist sects. Existing post-holders would be offered reasonable redundancy terms. How can anyone justify the employment of a science teacher who believes that the world is four thousand years old? Oh it's a deeply held belief. So, why not allow aircraft engineers to make repairs with duck tape if they believe that's safe? These misguided people will not build Jerusalem in England's green an pleasant land: a christian Teheran appears to be their aim.
Update 21 May: evidence of the pernicious effect of cults and fundamentalists on the police service.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Tell No One


Tell No One is an excellent French thriller, well worth renting or buying. I give it 16 out of 20. It's like a classic Hitchcock brought up to date.


Saturday, 17 May 2008

Shouldn't The 2008 Olympics Be Postponed?

The massive impact of the Sichuan earthquake in China requires equally massive rescue and recovery responses by the Chinese government. They are undertaking an admirable and highly professional rescue effort on all fronts. To enable China to concentrate its resources on the recovery stage would it not be sensible to postpone the Olympic Games schedules to be held in Beijing this Summer? The Olympics have been cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 and a delay until 2012 would not be as harmful to sportsmen and women as before given the proliferation of world and regional championships for all sports. Athletics fans can look forward to the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and the IAAF Championships in 2009. A google search turns up dozens of events in the meantime. Of course it would be wasteful not to use the Beijing Olympic facilities so London should waive its 2012 Games in favour of Beijing. The majority of stadium and other sports facility construction in London has not begun yet so the £9.3 billion budget could be redirected to more direct regeneration projects. And Tessa Jowell would have nothing to do.
Surely this option demonstrates the true Olympic spirit of dedication and self-sacrifice and deserves to be investigated in depth.

That 10p Tax U-Turn Thing Again

So the extra £600 added to the 20p tax threshold means all basic rate taxpayers will keep a total of £120 in stages this financial year. How generous! Pity Alastair Darling will be holding on to the windfall increase in fuel VAT the Treasury has received due to the high prices at the pumps. Still, every bit of revenue is needed to pay for the Promoting Prosperity summit earlier this year for example. And of course MPs' second homes are bound to need refurbishing again.

Friday, 16 May 2008

It Makes Me Proud To Be British No 3512

The excellent EUReferendum Defence blog has discovered this example of waste in the MoD. Twenty five mine-protected wheeled loaders acquired for £14 million in 2001 to enable RAF airfields to be quickly repaired after cluster bomb attacks are being sold off as surplus, virtually unused, for OIRO £175,000*. Interesting that the sort of equipment that might have protected Lance-Bombardier Ben Parkinson of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and his comrades from severe injury and death has been standing in safe garages for the past seven years.
It's also telling that the MoD can spend £560,000 on a vehicle that it sells off for £175,000 seven years later unused yet until the publicity campaign begun last year it was quite happy to fob Ben Parkinson off with a scandalous initial compensation award of just £152,500 (later raised to £285,000 after much MoD embarrassment). Perhaps the staff in the equipment procurement and compensation directorates of the MoD should be switched over in order to make best use of their skills.

Anyway, Lance-Bombardier Parkinson and many other heroes have been helped by the rehab team at Headley Court so why not make a donation to Help For Heroes .

*Update 17 May: Apparently, since 2005, ALC, a sister company of the RAC, has had a £600 million 15 year PFI contract to supply the Army with all the civil engineering vehicles it needs.

Do you need good judgement to be a judge?



Too much information, dear. So what if your second* most embarrassing belongings were unpacked by the maid at Balmoral. If you hadn't written about it no one else would have known.

* Did you pack signed copies of the Hutton Inquiry Report as well to give out instead of tips?

Update 22 May: Evidently not.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

I Don't Believe a Word

Gordon Brown claims that his unique skills in spending other people's money to the max in good times will enable the UK economy to weather the credit crunch, food crunch, oil crunch etc. Over-rated Gordon inherited an excellent set of books from Ken Clarke in 1997. "What do you want me to do, send him a thank you letter?" he reportedly said to a Treasury Mandarin after a handover briefing. In the ten succeeding years McBroon squandered quazillions on health, education and welfare with little financial control beyond moronic box-ticking. Outputs were increased at the expense of disproportionate inputs and falling staff morale. Our gold reserves were sold off at a quarter of their peak value.
So we reach a stage where inflation is officially 3.7%, the housing market (both new-build and second-hand) is staggering towards a collapse, growth is infinitessimal, the bank rate can't be cut because of inflation targets, the poorest half-million tax-payers are worse off but 22 million others are given an extra £120 a year to keep Britain spending to avoid the economy going pear shaped before the 2010 election. There is no scope for increased public spending to help the economy and Brown can't cut Labour's sacred cows or defence (since Tony Blair took us into two endless pacification wars).
I'm buying tinned food, chickens and a standby generator just in case.

Sichuan Earthquake: The Chinese Government Does The Right Thing

I can't imagine the pain, loss and terror that the massive earthquake in China has caused. My thoughts are with the survivors and the families of the victims. But the Chinese Government has responded very speedily and openly to the disaster, sending in huge numbers of soldiers and helicopters from all over China to assist the recovery effort. And today, China has asked for any help that the international community can provide. If only China could persuade its client state Burma to do likewise.

Anyway, here's the link to the International Red Cross site.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

England, This England

Best wishes to Trooper David Land on a speedy recovery from another "mindless" assault. With any luck Thames Valley Police will wrongly identify the thug as a mental and shoot him. Thank goodness our green and pleasant land is safe enough for women cabinet ministers to need only one bodyguard each when outside of the bunker.

Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona


Wow! If I ever go to visit the old colonies this is a must after seeing New England in Autumn. More than 275 air and spacecraft including a Super Guppy. They also do a tour of AMARC (the "boneyard") at Davis-Montham AFB.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

In Praise of Caramac

Mmmm...... Caramac . Definitely my favourite choccy bar. I also liked Milky Bars (remember the days when we biked around the local roads armed with cap guns) and looked forward to an occasional Walnut Whip. The latter was eaten walnut first, licked out and nibbled down to the base.

He's A Mental Not An Ethnic: Open Fire

The recent sad case of Mark Saunders shows that the death sentence has been quietly reintroduced into the UK. Not for the scum who really deserve the drop, not after a fair trial, but simply because a human being had a breakdown and had no privileged "Community Leader" to liaise on his behalf with the Police. As he was a white middle-class male, Mr Saunders' death has not caused rioting in his neighbourhood. Despite the area around Mr Saunders' house being cleared, within five hours the armed police shot him six times. Would it have harmed anyone's career if attempts at negotiation and containment over several days had been tried instead? As it stands, the Police are prepared to spend more time and effort on an unexploded bomb than a damaged person. Doubtless, the IPCC investigation will exonerate the Police completely. Police Firearms Officers volunteer for the job and, unlike the Armed Forces, can simply refuse to pick up their guns thereby leaving London at the mercy of armed robbers and gangsters. They have apparently "advised " senior officers of this option in support of colleagues on several occasions.
As Shiny Happy Person wrote in her brilliant blog Mental illness robs you of your right to be a weirdo. It now appears that in certain circumstances it robs you of your right to life as well.

Update 14 July. Elizabeth Saunders, Mark's sister has applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the IPCC's handling of the case. Good luck!

The BBC Isn't For The English

Our beloved Prime Minister attempted today to distract us from reading stories about him by his "brothers and sisters" in the Labour movement by making a speech on how the predicted £6 billion shortfall in funding for social care for the elderly in England might be resolved. This is the BBC News page about it.
Notice the sentences at the bottom of the article:
"Are you affected by the issues raised in this story? Send us your comments by filling out the form below."
I suggested that the £6 billion shortfall might be met by stopping the interim Barnett Formula extra payments made to Wales and Scotland from the English tax take. Problem solved and everyone is treated equally.
The BBC hasn't published my response. Yet. And they won't as they no longer welcome comments.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Why doesn't China help Burma?

The great and good Simon Jenkins has a par for the course comment piece in the Times about intervening in Burma to help the cyclone survivors. He whines that the West is too involved in Afghanistan and Iraq to help. Which they are: there's a war on. He's talking bollocks of course when he describes as giant a 20 ton payload Hercules. It's just an expensive flying truck. So why haven't those nice Olympic hosts and neighbours of Burma, the Chinese government, sent in aid on a massive scale or persuaded their friends in the junta to allow aid NGOs into Burma? Instead they, with South Africa, (both friends of Mugabe) refused to allow the security council to even debate the scandal on the grounds that it is an internal matter.
with thanks to http://www.freeburmarangers.org/



So, may I advise all the Olympians with their "Don't mix Politics and Sport mantra" (ie, there's money in this, so shut up) that their sports kit isn't smelling of sweat but the putrescent stench of stagnant water tainted with corpses and sewage. Wear your medals with pride when you come back from China, boys and girls.

Here's how to spend more wisely the money you were going to give so freely to Tessa Jowell and Sebastian Coe for the 2012 thingy:

Donate to the combined appeal fund for Burma http://www.dec.org.uk/

Friday, 9 May 2008

Professional Courtesy No 3 ? Call me naive and not on His Honour's pay grade an eleven year old cannot consent to sex. The law is there for a very good reason: to protect the weak against the strong.

Jacqui Smith Gets Something Right

OK so she's dim, over promoted and inadequate as a Home Secretary but the reclassification of cannabis as a class B drug makes sense. Two reasons:
Firstly, the great Dr Theodore Dalrymple.

Secondly, Danny the Dealer from Withnail and I:

I've got a better idea

Artist Mark Wallinger proposes a 164 foot high white horse in a field as his entry in a competition to mark the building of Ebbsfleet International Railway Station. The Stallion of the South.



Yes, I really like the edgy juxtaposition of the electricity pylons too.

I've got a better idea. Remember "The B of the Bang" in East Manchester? This is "The F in French"




What better sign of freedom is there? 165 feet tall and I can get it done in three weeks when Jerzy and Tomas get back from Warsaw.

Lex onager est

Professional Courtesy No 2? This is beyond satire. What's wrong with giving this nice gentleman who wants to kill thousands of us the chance to become a martyr in an Arab country?

Unlike this obviously innocent Kuwaiti captured in Afghanistan, and released from Gitmo to spread the religion of peace (literally!)

Thursday, 8 May 2008

HRH Prince Harry

Congratulations to Lieutenant Wales and his comrades in the Household Cavalry for being awarded the Afghanistan Medal. As with all campaign medals the qualifying period was 30 days. HRH PH was on active service for 70 days before an American idiot blew the gentlemen's agreement to keep quiet about it.

Out of interest, how many sons and daughters of Labour Ministers or MPs have served in Iraq or Afghanistan (with coalition forces of course)?

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Whatever happened to the Cab Rank Principle?

Professional Courtesy? Barristers refuse to take drug dealer's asset seizure case on legal aid so Judge halted proceedings. £175 per day in court is not enough for our Learned Friends - so get a Polish silk instead. Oh sorry, immigrants are not meant to compete with our social betters: they are only here to undercut the builders and nannies working for them.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Gordon Just Doesn't Get It

Gordon Brown says he feels people's hurt . Er, isn't that what Bill Clinton used to say? He says he will "take the fight to the Tories". Gordon, you've been in the Labour Party for over thirty years and it's taken you all this time to read page one of the instruction manual?
My advice to Gordon Brown is this:

Actually my advice that leaves him with a pulse is this:
Seek an interview with H M The Queen at the earliest opportunity and call a Geneneral Election. During the election campaign take time to talk to people who don't agree with you and ask what they want. You will discover that most people don't want the government telling them what to do (even though it's for their own good) because they already have enough of that from David Brent bosses at work. Learn that there are very few things that the state can do well and concentrate on them. Take the government off the backs of people so that the majority of people don't pay income tax, don't need to claim tax credits. Realise that the wealth in this country is created by its people and they and not the Government should have first call on how it is spent. Release the talents and enthusiasm of those hundreds of thousands of Civil Servants doing mindless and ultimately pointless jobs to do things that are actually needed to make a better country. Introduce Lean Government along Toyota lines. Let people become responsible for their lives. Leave the EU so that England is responsible for itself. Restore the primacy of English Common Law in England. Repeal the Human Rights Act. Hope that you will have at least ten years in opposition to learn these lessons and hold the next Tory Government properly to account in Parliament.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Jeff Randall on Common Sense

How True. Common sense is anything but common in this Brave New World of political correctness and so-called competences. I've always considered it to be essentially British, like empiricism, the opposite of Continental "rationalist"thinking.

Gordon, It's All Your Fault

Take it personally. The people want you out. It's you who is the "shallow salesman" with the lack of personal skills unlike your two media-savvy and successful brothers. Who do you imagine (ha, imagine) sells the products to pay the tax for you to splurge? Yes, salesmen and women in the world of commerce. They may not have the social standing of, for example, a Church of Scotland Minister, but despite all their faults they help to create wealth for the nation.
Perhaps it was the experimental hothouse education that squeezed you into the world highly educated but immature. Accept this failure and rejection as the character-building phase you appear to have missed in your youth and you may become a more rounded personality.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Blimey, I never knew this before.

I was surfing for websites on mountain infantry and came across the Polish Podhale Rifles . They were an elite formed in 1918 that fought in the September 1339 Polish Campaign, escaped to France and reformed as the Polish Independent Highland Brigade which saw combat at Narvik, then the Battle of France before withdrawing into Switzerland. There were also Podhale Rifles in the Armia Krajowa (Home Army). So far so ordinarily brave in the Polish way of things.

But the thing that stopped me in my tracks was that up to 1945 their collar badge was based on the Polish Mountain Cross:
Yes, the swastika. Since the war the badge of the successor 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade has been the Eidelweiss which is also worn by the Austrian and German Gebirgsjager.
One shudders with disgust at the thought that gallant Polish defenders wearing an age-old patriotic symbol of the Polish mountains would have have been attacked* by Nazi invaders badged with the same symbol that had been perverted with hate and cruelty.
Well, there's semiotics for you: a shape can mean different things depending on context. Next time you see a swastika try to think first of all of the heroism and sacrifice of the Podhale Rifles and the Polish Nation. It's similar to the meaning of a star on Old Glory and the Soviet star. Same shape but Uncle Sam is good and Uncle Joe was bad.
*And don't get me started on the Soviets invading from the east at the same time: just as evil.