Friday, 24 February 2012

The Daily Mail And Missile Batteries - Help

The Daily Mail published the above photo and caption online today as part of an article on the scandalous extradition/judicial kidnap of British businessman Christopher Tappin to the US.

The caption reads "War trade: Mr Tappin is accused of trying to sell Iran missile batteries similar to these on the back of army trucks in Tel Aviv, Israel".

Er, actually those are Patriot missile canisters, four per launcher vehicle, six vehicles per battery (etym. c.1525 OF battre + erie, lit. an organisation or place where beating takes place- I don't know why either). The Americans are claiming Mr Tappin attempted to sell batteries for Hawk surface-to-air missiles (or missals as the Yanks say) to Iran. The sort of battery that one puts in a car or a torch.

Something like this - although Mr Obama, I'm not suggesting that the Iranians try putting this inside the Hawk missiles the Americans sold them, and this one isn't advertised as suitable for putting in a missile and probably wouldn't work as it's nowhere near expensive enough for defence use:

Oh Dear...

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Syria And The UN

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 30

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

However, because Russia and China reserve the right to do the same in eg Chechnyia and Tibet and have vetoed a Security Council resolution, the citizens of Syria are denied the very rights that we take for granted.
I'm not advocating unilateral armed intervention as that would quickly domino into a world war - the Russia Navy has a Mediterranean base at Tartus in Syria and Iran would dive in to protect  the links across friendly territory to its Hezbollah and Hamas interests in Lebanon and Gaza. Besides, the anti-Ba'athist opposition is dominated by islamist groups that oppose western interests and human rights. Like Hillaire Belloc's Jim: "Always keep a-hold of Nurse/For fear of finding something worse".
However, something must be done.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Daily Mail And Freedom of Speech

The Daily Mail published this article about a proposed catamaran hospital ship design. It has a shallow draught and flat bottom to allow it to be beached to permit vehicles to drive off, like a landing craft.

I commented along the lines that it was unfortunate that this Italian boat has been designed to be run aground, presumably to enable its Italian captain to disembark first. Topical-ish.

This was received well at first, getting a couple of dozen green arrows, indicating popularity. Then this automated email arrived at 11:35 pm tonight:

"Hello Brian,

We have received a number of complaints about the comment you made on article "Hospital boat designed by Marino Alfani could rescue victims of natural disasters " (, 21/02/2012 at 06:05

Due to the number of complaints received, your comment has been removed from MailOnline.

Should the situation change, we will review and consider re-publishing. Until such time, your comment will remain off the site. To avoid this happening again, please take the time to review the House Rules and site Terms and Conditions.

House Rules:
Privacy Policy:

This is an automated message from MailOnline."

What's the Italian for Finito, Benito? By the way, the number of complaints needed is one. I wonder how this Daily Mail article has escaped the notice of prodnoses eager to uphold its terms and house rules?

Update 22 February 2012.  I received this email this morning:

Dear Brian,

We have reviewed your comment made on "The doctor will sea you now: Hospital boat could rescue victims of natural disasters" (, 21/02/2012 at 06:05 and exercised our discretion not to re-instate it on MailOnline.

House Rules:
Privacy Policy:

This is an automated message from MailOnline

Sunday, 19 February 2012

David Cameron Visits Quaker Oats Factory And Samples Porridge

"Yon Sassenach wi' his ain wallies, whae's he eatin' oor porridge fur?"

Photo credit PA.

Apparently, the truth is that the photo was taken at the start of breakfast before introductions had been made. Said apprehensive Ian McNeil "Once the dialogue got going he was really nice." But he's a lifelong SNP voter and wants independence for Scotland.

The moral of this story, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears every story has a moral, is that one cannot believe what the MSM churn out. It may be the truth but it's seldom the whole truth because those professional journos or "hacks" as they no longer like to call themselves always have an angle to pursue.

I wish I'd been on a table when arch-scum Brown visited my JobCentre after his redundancies had been announced (no, he never dared to meet the people he was putting out of work, he can thank Sue for that) as I would have looked just the same. But I would have been angry and aggressive and ready to tell him that I was being made redundant merely because the new JobCentrePlus office had insufficient floor area for all those Personal Advisors who had consistently met their performance targets.

And, Miriam O'Reilly, was it really a coincidence that the only three people made redundant from their jobs at my office were middle-aged white .... men, ie over half of the male members of staff at the grade eligible for redundancy?  Given that women outnumbered men by two-to-one even before the "exercise" there was undoubtedly something fishy going on. But it had all been "equality-proofed" to protect those with statutory victim status so we had no redress.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A Few Thought On GPs And The NHS

I began researching this topic after reading and commenting on the always excellent Subrosa's post on Dr Philip Lee MP and discovering how many hours a week he worked as a GP (about one day a week on average). I don't blame him as it keeps him linked to the real world instead of the foetid petri dish of the subsidised restaurants and bars of the Palace of Westminster. Every MP ought to have a trade as it would make them less dependent on their MP's salary and the anti-democratic demands of the Party Whips. A political career should be an oxymoron for all but a few: the more MPs who put their constituents and country before the diktats of party leaders, the stronger would be Parliament be at holding government to account.

What amazed me was the approximate hourly rate that a temporary GP gets - about £100. That's net of practise overheads. Obviously that's peanuts compared to professional footballers and senior exectives, but it's rather pricey compared with prescribing nurses and pharmacists who offer the same service for at least 75% of illnesses and can triage more serious cases up the chain for assessment and treatment: just like GPs.

In England, the Conservative government is attempting to change the NHS to better suit the needs of patients by making GPs and other medical professionals responsible for commissioning the services required from local providers. Always resistant to change until extra money is paid (the establishment of the NHS wasn't the BMA's finest hour, despite their revised history) the Royal College of General Practictioners is now agin it as are physios But the NHS isn't perfect, otherwise £15.7 billion plus of medical neglience claims wouldn't be outstanding or GPs wouldn't send a dog to be treated in some hospitals or most GPs would prefer to die than have the treatment given to terminal cancer patients.

It's clear that there's a great deal wrong with the excellent NHS but GPs must grasp the nettle and put the best interests of their patients first and get properly involved in commissioning. The Surgery where I have been registered for all my life except when living away from Coventry has taken a lead in this area and patient care is better than ever. Things are no longer done because they've always been done like that but because they have been proved to work. Some treatments are cheaper, some are more expensive but we patients are more involved.

After the massive salary increase and hours cut  in 2004, it's only fair that GPs are being expected to take more responsibility for the holistic care of their patients that began with Practice-Based Commissioning. Numbnuts like Andy Burnham bleat on about keeping Nye Bevan's NHS (actually a very nasty man according to Clement Attlee who knew him) despite Labour reforms of it but I prefer the famous quote from Lampedusa's The Leopard, "If you want things to stay the same, they are going to have to change." Labour improved things after 2000 by doubling the amount of money spent on the NHS (but not getting anywhere near double the output) but at a time of austerity in England with much smaller annual real-terms increases, efficiency savings have to be found from within the overall budget so that money is spent where it will buy the most for patients.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Daily Wail Can't Tell Difference between black Hawk And Blackhawk

Yesterday, a Daily Mail report of an Air Proximity Board Report (pp16-23) by their aviation correspondent, Katie Silver, produced the above cracker. Seemingly relying on and rewriting agency copy, Ms Silver confused black Hawk jet trainer aircraft with Black Hawk helicopters. If she had read the actual seven page report (or even the first page) she would have realised that the Saab pilot referred to grey Tornados (ie lo-viz camouflaged) and black Hawks (hi-viz low altitude conspicuous scheme). Not all Hawks are Red Arrows , dear.

RAF black Hawk (thanks to RAF for photo)

A US UH-60L Black Hawk (thanks USAF for photo)

Compare the Daily Wail's report of an AAIB Report into a Dyn'Aero MCR-1 ULC with the real thing. Graham Smith wrote that the cause was the failure of aluminium tail attachment bolts. Er, you meant lugs. Despite my comment advising of the actual report the story hasn't been amended.

Moral of the story: The Daily Mail stopped being Air-Minded when Lord Rothermere  donated the Bristol "Britain First" to the RAF in 1935. Memo to Paul Dacre: ignore Hugh Jego and hire someone who knows that a Saab 340 isn't "a tiny passenger plane" except when compared with an Airbus A380 to write about aviation matters. Yes it does, by the way. More than footer, slebs, Downton and Dancing. And even Miranda Hart.

Update: EUReferendum has linked to this post regarding the RAF Black Hawks! Dr North wrote an excellent post.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Bankers And Unearned Bonuses Etc

All the vitriol about bankers and CEOs being overpaid and paid bonuses just because they have always been is an easy goal. They don't deserve it. Simples.

But the open goal that is purposely missed time after time is the obscene sums splurged on bladderkicking slebs. £24 million over four years for not doing much as the England footer manager? His wife wasn't even expected to wash and iron the team's kit.

Take 95% of the money out of an industry that should be a minimum wage Saturday job and cut seat prices for those donkeys who actually watch it to £5.

BBC And Value Judgements

Apparently a BBC manager (one of thousands) has ordered BBC journos not to call Abu Qatada either extremist or fat. He's a radical and has allegedly benefitted from the Long Larton diet.

Personally, I think asylum seekers/foreigners not born here should be on a permanent good behaviour bond while they reside in the UK. If they don't like the rules or cause trouble then that's what abroad is for.

But a BBC manager talking about value judgement? The BBC are poor judges of value as their payment of £80-100k plus salaries to telly news readers and even more to so called "talent" clearly shows. Instead of cutting the number of newsreaders on the freeviw news channel to one at a time, why not just use the excellent vocal talents of Radio 4's newsreaders instead for all news broadcasts. Charlotte Green, for example,  is definitely worth £1 million a year. :)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Amazing! No Call For Nimrod

A rowing boat "Sarah G"crossing the Atlantic was split in two by heavy seas and the crew of six had to take to the liferaft the other day. The oarsmen were rescued some 500 miles east of Barbados by a Panamanian registered freighter and another ship diverted by coastguards.

In 2004 a rowing boat "Pink Lady" broke in two 300 miles west of the Scilly Islands and the crew of four was safely recued by a cruise ship. There were questions raised about the strength of the hull. Were any lessons learned incorporated into the design of subsequent boats like Sarah G?  It's an important question because capsizing and sinking is quite common for ocean rowing boats.

But what is clear is that Nimrods would have been of little use beyond dropping Lindholme Air Sea Rescue gear and orbiting as a comms relay for rescue coordination. Even a flying boat would have been unable to land and take off in seas with waves greater than 4 feet for the Beriev Be-200  or ten feet, for the ShinMaywa US-2 .

What's needed is a turbofan-powered wing in ground effect aircraft (Ekranoplan is the best known type) with a central stores bay able to accommodate a short range hoist-equipped rescue helicopter, say a Eurocopter 135 fitted with folding main rotor blades on a scissor-lift lauch and recovery pad with haul down capability. The stores bay would open on the upper surface of the aircraft (of blended wing body configuration) by means of a tambour roller shutter. The mother aircraft "Maia" would require a wide speed range for rapid transit to and from the emegency and recovery of the much slower "Mercury" helicopter component.

A-90 Orlyonok Ekranoplan

Blended Wing-Body Boeing X-48B

Who knows, the aircraft could even look a bit like the Armstrong Whitworth AW52.