31 January 2011


I didn't really pay attention to events into Tunisia until Ben Ali headed for the exit.

I'm paying much more attention to Egypt.

Mubarak may well be hanging on at the moment and while it seems the army aren't putting down the protests, they aren't actively supporting them either. I don't think even they agree on the right course of action.

I think the best solution might well be for Mubarak to step down, hand over power to the new Vice-President, then hold elections in a few months like Tunisia. In the meantime, the "state of emergency" (it's 30 years old; long emergency) must end and freedom of expression allowed.

I doubt any new Egyptian government will be as friendly to the USA and Israel as the old one; especially as the USA has not only been not actively supporting the protests but also supplied the equipment the authorities have been using, including the fighter jets. The support for Mubarak may well come back to haunt the USA.

Comparisons to 1989 have already failed for one reason; deadly violence. In all bar one case (Romania) no-one died in the revolutions there, although a rumour that someone had was sufficient to bring down the Communists in Czechoslovakia.

History repeats, but it never repeats exactly. I don't know if the fall of Mubarak would cause a chain reaction elsewhere; I suspect a couple of states would be easily able to contain any demonstrations.

I hope that the people of the great and ancient nation of Egypt can have a peaceful and democratic future.

30 January 2011

Games won and lost

I see Andy Murray lost in straight sets in the final of the Australian Open. Is this guy ever going to win a Grand Slam.

In other news, Armchair General has just concluded "Operation Narwhal", a simulation of a Sealion-style attack on the UK in 1940, using the TOAW III system. The forum is here; you can easily find the relevant threads.

The outcome stacked somewhat with the historical analyses of the likely result; the Germans lost. However, due to focussing the Luftwaffe on the Royal Navy, they held the supply lines open for 45 days.

27 January 2011

Holocaust Memorial Day

I recently watched a series on UKTV History called Nazi Collaborators, which as the name describes was about those who helped the Nazis rule much of Europe and carry out the "Final Solution".

Some of these were people just trying to preserve their own people as best they could; if saying no cost you your life, you might well have to say yes. Others though were out-and-out evil people trying to gain personal power, like the Arjas Kommando in Lithuania. Many of these will burn in hell for their actions.

The details of The Holocaust are staggering. I had a look at the transcripts of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal the other day; where graphic descriptions of the brutality carried out by the Nazis are present. It was also pointed out that much of the evidence used to convict the senior Nazis of crimes against humanity was of their own making; including the film footage we often see. People who film their "comrades" committing mass murder - words honestly fail. One Nazi even managed to work out an "efficient" way of mass burial to make the job easier. The whole thing was done on an industrial scale and with industrial methods.

I'm not even going to attempt to rationalise the collective mania that gripped Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. You just can't.

At the end of the day, we are all human beings. Sadly many people still forget that.
You can light a virtual candle here.

24 January 2011

21 January 2011

The art of politics is... timing

So Andy Coulson has resigned in what is quite possibly the worst timed resignation I've seen for a while.

The media are not stupid; they can spot someone burying bad news and this looks like it. Why place the media focus back onto you and the Tories when Blair would have been the focus overwise?

This is an own goal and a half.

20 January 2011

Two years of Obama

Two years ago, I wrote this.

It was rather prescient in many ways, particularly the bit about conservatism. Obama's two years in office so far have been mixed at best. There's been the healthcare reforms, New START (stupid name for a treaty, IMO) and the repeal of DADT. However, there's been a distinct lack of progress in Afghanistan, unemployment remains high and much legislation had to be watered down.

It's not surprising that Obama suffered the biggest loss in mid-term elections since before the war. He needs to improve and seems to be doing so after the "shellacking" (as he termed it).

At the moment, I'm predicting Obama gets re-elected, but not in a landslide. There doesn't seem to be a stellar GOP candidate out there. I doubt Palin will get anywhere near the nomination.

Of course, I may be wrong.

18 January 2011

Royal Navy website

Visiting the website of the Royal Navy today to do some research for a planned RP (Carrier at Phoenix Roleplaying). The site has broken links and needs updating.

That is just not acceptable for the website of a major navy. What would Nelson say?

14 January 2011

Revolution in Tunisia

Tunisia's President Ben Ali has stepped down and fled the country amid violent unrest.

The word "revolution" seems the correct one here. Hopefully this is the start of a new and improved future for Tunisians.

13 January 2011

The shootings in Tucson and the reaction to it

The events of Saturday in Tucson, Arizona are a deep tragedy and my condolences are with all the victims.

What's disturbed me even more than this is the reaction on the internet. I'm a member of a political/military forum called Armchair General. The forum contains a sub-forum called "Politics Central". Discussion there is "robust" normally, although I will give kudos to their fine admin team, including Admiral and Bad Wolf, who try to keep control over things. Since Tucson, it's gotten bad even by standards there. They've had to ban people as a result.

The same has occurred at US Election Atlas, where Solar (the US General Discussion forum moderator) had to issue at least 44 "infraction points" for this.

I've seen a lot of nasty partisan rancour in American politics over the past nine years. It may or may not have caused the events in Tucson; we don't know yet.

However, it's not helping. Calm down.

11 January 2011

We have a Josephine now. Josephines are cool. (Review of 'CSI: NY' 7.1, "The 34th Floor")

There are some characters who you gradually get to like. Others enter the cool department from the get-go.

I'll get to that in a second.

There are two broad plot-lines running through this. The first is the conclusion (sorta) of the plot of last season and the resolution of the cliff-hanger ending of Season 6.

Basically, a serial killer was holding the baby of the NY crime lab's resident whipping-people, Danny and Lindsay Messer hostage, while pointing a gun at the former. We heard a gunshot over the closing credits.

In what is somewhat of a cheat on the cliffhanger resolution (adding bits to a time gap that only appeared to be a few seconds), Lindsay demonstrated that it really isn't a good idea to threaten the baby of an NYPD cop and after some initial trepidation, shot the serial killer in the chest. (The full Mozambique drill might have been deemed as a bit excessive).

Cut to five months later. Mrs. Messer, wearing a uniform with a cap that is a size too big for her, receives a Combat Cross placed around her neck by Mac, who isn't wearing a uniform. Lindsay isn't too happy about this, feeling that she was merely doing her job. After a counselling session, she chucks her medal in the bin. Eventually, she is persuaded by Mac and Danny that she deserves the medal, which Danny gives back to her (I hope he cleaned it first). My two cents on this - doing your job generally involves a tactical vest and back-up, not a stand-off in your pyjamas. There's a thing called going beyond the call of duty.

This is arguably the weaker of the two plotlines. While I like Lindsay (who has got a fair amount of flak over the years), this wasn't the best episode she's been in.

However, this emotional plot-line was far more than made up for by the main criminal investigation one. While the team are all watching Lindsay get her medal, a new character (who didn't get the memo) arrives at the empty lab... and finds a dead body.

The new character, Josephine "Jo" Danville, a former FBI agent from Virginia, is a far better character than Stella Bonasera and her consistently low-cut tops. She hits the ground running, making quips, memorably psyching out lab tech Adam with some good guesses about his social habits (which seem to involve porn) and playing a key role in solving the case. I have a new favourite character in CSI:NY.

This very strong opener ends with a stand-off at the Chrysler Building and I'll just note that the show seems to be trying to kill people at every major NYC landmark before wrapping this up.

4/5. The show stays in a very good second place in the CSI league.

Edit 16/1: It's Jo Danville, not Jo Ward. Selina Ward is the actor who plays Jo Danville...

07 January 2011

I don't believe this woman is a DI: a review of 'Above Suspicion: Deadly Intent'

Lynda La Plante is a rather prolific novel and television writer. Best known for Prime Suspect and more recently Trial and Retribution, her latest TV adaptations involve one of the less believable police officers in contemporary TV crime fiction.

DI Anna Travis.

I've never read the books, so I can't honestly comment on that portrayal, and I'm no expert on acting, but Kelly Reilly seems, in my humble and possibly incorrect opionion, miscast in this role, is playing it badly or has awful material. Reilly, born in 1977 according to IMDB, plays this role as if DI Travis was a teenager thrust into a suit and tight blouse, handed a warrant card and told to clean up the streets of London. She holds herself and dresses that way (as the Digitial Spy discussion points out, the make up doesn't help either). It's really rather jarring. I am supposed to believe that this woman is a seasoned detective in SCD1 (the murder squad of the Metropolitan Police Service), who is in a position to lead an entire investigation on her own. I can't do it. I just can't do it. Travis is just far too immature and unprofessional.

Leaving aside what looks like an attempt (all too common in TV) to use pretty to boost ratings and not bothering about the characterisation, let's move onto the rest of this.

The plot of Deadly Intent involves a renowned drug dealer getting plastic surgery in Mexico then coming to London and killing a few people with Fentanyl. It's a good plot and the ending was a nice twist even if not entirely convincing, particularly in the age of the European Arrest Warrant (that plane would have to put down somewhere in Europe). The dealer does a particularly audacious move that has to be seen to be believed.

There's a rather decent turn from Julian Sands and much of the rest of the cast, including Shaun Dingwall. Not an expert in the direction side of things, so I'll refrain from comment about that.

I'm going to give this 3/5. Seriously, there's a problem with the lead character that needs dealing with.

06 January 2011

Phoenix Roleplaying

I'm surprised I haven't linked to this yet.

Phoenix Roleplaying is my current RPing centre, following my resignation from AJJE back in July. It's got a wider variety of sims, including Firefly, Stargate, The Wheel of Time and a few original concepts as well.

Please, check it out!

04 January 2011

Another day, another misleading story from the Daily Mail

Fresh off alleging non-existent cuts in Downton Abbey (hattip Stephen Fry), the Daily Mail excels itself yet again in a misleading article about "Neets" (Not in education, employment or training). I'd link to it, but quite frankly, the amount of bikinis visible in the side links probably make it Not Quite Safe For Work. This is a paper that promised to stop doing paparazzi stuff thirteen years ago

The article alleges that nearly one in five 18-year-olds fall into that category, but then uses an EU study that is of 20-24 year olds. People in that category who are Neets may have no qualifications, but they may also have degrees. Graduate unemployment is about 20% at the moment.

There's also a rather archaic definition of Western Europe in there. We're beaten in this by Italy, Spain, Portugal (as well as Malta). All of these be defined as Western Europe for various reasons (EU and NATO membership pre-1989).

So, please try harder and don't contradict yourself in the same article.

03 January 2011

Screenshot 2: Sleeping at your post

(Battlefield 2)


Layout updates

Made some layout changes in what is partly an attempt to increase my readership. Hattip to Jams; the Linkedwithin widget he uses is a good one.

I hope you like my reactions feature. Yes, I like Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns.

Plans for 2011

I've got a three "series" planned to run in 2011, mainly anniversary features:
  •  Late February - The Video Game War: A look back at the 1991 Gulf War (aka Operation Desert Storm)
  • Around 22 June - The Biggest War In History: An examination of the Eastern Front of the Second World War. This will be probably be at least six parts.
  • Around 10 December - After Pearl Harbor: there will be plenty of stuff elsewhere focussing on the attack itself, but this series will look at the massive offensive that the attack started. Singapore will get an article to itself.
I'll be doing some TV reviews. These may contain spoilers.
    I might do a little more fiction too.

    100 Years since Sidney Street

    Today is the one hundredth anniversary of The Sidney Street Siege, a key event in the history of policing and arguably anarchism as well.

    Diamond Geezer has a lot more on this, including a link to the newsreel.

    01 January 2011

    "J-20": Further thoughts

    I've been thinking further on the "J-20" and I've identified another aircraft it might be going for a similar role as.

    The Panavia Tornado.

    The Tornado is a multi-national swing-wing aircraft with two major roles; an air defence interceptor (the F3 version is about to retire from the RAF) and precision strike, including maritime attack.

    While larger on estimates than the Tornado, the "J-20" could fit comfortably into both roles; going after stuff like B-52s and B-1Bs, or even having a go at an AWACS.