18 July 2014

MH17

The crash of Malaysian Airline flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine is a deep and shocking tragedy... but I don't believe it was an act of terrorism.

From the evidence that the Ukrainians have released; it seems to have been a case of gross incompetence by the separatists and those training them. Misidentification of an airliner as a military cargo jet is easy when you don't know how to use your equipment properly... and when you're not given clear orders about engaging hostile aircraft.

There needs to be an impartial investigation, those responsible need to be dragged through the courts on manslaughter charges, there needs to be a long-term peace in Ukraine... and the ICAO needs to re-evaluate how it handles civilian flights over warzones. I myself flew over Iraq in 2009 on my way to Dubai; the insurgents there didn't have any high altitude capable SAMs... but people clearly thought that this wasn't the case in Ukraine.

For 296 people, that view was fatally incorrect. May they rest in peace.

13 July 2014

Gaza

Another year, another batch of unpleasantness in the Middle East. This whole conflict is what happens when stupidity meets stupidity.

Firstly, the Israelis; their continued building on Palestinian lands, contrary to international law, is only serving to isolate the moderate forces. Their large scale use of air strikes is killing a lot of civilians (although any estimate given by Gazan health officials must be treated with a degree of caution) and combined with what looks like collective punishment is causing the embitterance of another generation. The Israeli PM may claim he wants peace, but he doesn't seem to be acting like it.

Yet, the Palestinians aren't blameless either. Hamas' rocket attacks are not only ineffective, they're counter-productive; Israel can carry on with its actions because it's got hundreds of reasons to do. The Palestinian Authority is ineffective; if they'd done a better job, Hamas might not have the power they have.

It's going to need better leadership on both sides to bring this thing to an end... because neither side can win it.

29 June 2014

Doing things with Deltics that you're not meant to do with Deltics... (Train Simulator 2014)




Like bombing them down High Speed 1 at 110mph, with a Mk1 (correction: Mk2) coach rake not even rated for that speed.

I got this game yesterday from Steam after watching one of Qwerty Afro's videos (it was on sale) and also got the £3.49 DLC for the late 1970s Newcastle to York route. I got the original Train Simulator way back when and it's a lot of fun for a railway enthusiast like myself. It will help as I wait for further additions to Arena Commander.

Lots of DLCs, but best to get them when there's a sale on as they're a bit steep.

28 June 2014

100 Years since Franz Ferdinand

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo, the event that ultimately led to the First World War.

The BBC are doing a 'live' reconstruction of events and it's well worth looking at.

25 June 2014

World Cup 2014: Just not good enough

I never expected England to win the World Cup; we struggled in our group and in the friendlies beforehand. I was concerned about us getting out the group; it was a tough one.

However, our performance in our three matches in Brazil was disappointing even for a seasoned pessimist on the England watching front. Time and again we failed to finish the job in our chances, our defending was dodgy and our players lacking.

We can't excuse the heat - our Italy defeat was in conditions more akin to the Premier League and we can't say we had a bad draw, because so did Costa Rica.

Roy Hodgson should do the decent thing and offer his resignation to the FA.

06 June 2014

D-Day Plus 25,567

The long sobs of autumn's violins;
wound my heart with a monotonous languor.
Chanson d'automne (Autumn song), by Paul Verlaine. Broadcast by the BBC, these two lines were respectively the “get ready” and “go” codes to Resistance membeers in France to launch massive sabotage operations in preparation for Operation Overlord in June 1944

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, a pivotal moment in the history of the Second World War and of the whole world. Had they not succeeded, Europe would be a very different place... while Hitler was heading for defeat, we could have had Stalin's forces controlling France and possibly nuclear use in Europe.

I've been to Normandy on a number of occasions and the cemeteries, fortifications etc. certainly have an impact on you. From all that I've read and seen, the sheer courage and ingenuity are pretty amazing.

Ingenuity... managing the logistics for an operation this big was a huge feat in itself. Then there were all the various innovative vehicles and the skills needed to operate them, especially in the glider operations. In addition, the deception operations were masterpieces of subterfuge.

Courage: these were people like me, men in their 20s and sometimes their teens most of them, who rode boats into the teeth of German machine gun fire and scaled cliffs. The Resistance fighters who risked their lives and often lost them to help the invasion. We should also not forget the civilians who suffered.


Of course D-Day was not the end of the story. I'm planning a large post on the campaign post D-Day with the aim to go out on 25 August, the anniversary of the liberation of Paris.

This will be the last big commemoration - the Normandy Veterans Association will disband this year as most of their members are just too old now. The veterans may pass on, but the story of Operation Overlord will never be forgotten.

As they say in France, merci.


05 June 2014

Arena Commander arrives

 


It's finally come out... and certainly worth it, even with the delays. My Aurora MR isn't the most weapon-packed ship in the world, but it's easy enough to fly... but a good deal more challenging to fight.

Fighter combat with guns has never been my strong suit, but I'm enjoying this and I look forward to the multiplayer release, which will likely be a lot of fun.