Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How long does it take to learn a lesson

Many years ago, I was a soldier. During my time, we had 2 main weapons; the 9mm Sterling sub-machine gun and the 7.62mm Self Loading Rifle (SLR).
Shortly after I left the Army, there was much talk about a shift away from these to smaller bore weapons.
The theory went that it wasn't really necessary to kill people, it was good enough to merely wound them. Someone had calculated that it takes 2, 3 or 4 (don't remember the number) extras to take care of the wounded, thus putting a serious strain on the enemy's resources.
Bollocks! shouted Kelvin. I have never heard such twaddle.
At the time, the big emphasis was on the potential Cold War opponents, USSR & China.
If the generals had read their history thoroughly, they would have noticed that this pair had a history of wasting their own soldiers' lives wholesale. Well, with the huge populations each have, they could afford to.
The "let's wound them and grind their efforts to a halt" theory thus goes right out of the window.
If a soldier of the USSR or China was wounded then he would be left where he was. In fact, if he was a Russian soldier and he managed to crawl back to his own lines, he would probably be shot by his own comrades for running away!
Regardless, the hierarchy pressed on with their "good idea" and eventually came up with the SA80, which fires a 5.66mm round. When they had added all the high tech gizmos, it weighed around the same as the old SLR so was no benefit to the poor bloody soldier who had to cart it about (about 10 lbs with a loaded magazine).
It did have a nice high-tech telescopic sight though. Fat lot of good that was as the weapon was not expected to be used much above 300m from the target. If you couldn't see the target without a telescope at that range, you were possibly in the wrong job.
When the SA80 was introduced, it was plagued with all manner of problems with bits falling off, breaking etc.
God knows how many years later, these "issues" were fixed.
Good! Now they had a rifle that worked. Except for this 300m range thing.
Throughout the time of the adoption and development of this wonder weapon, all of our real and potential foes have stuck to the good old Kalashnikov, good for 400M or more.
The net result is that our troops have to get a bit closer to the baddies, either by sneaking up on them or through the good old fashioned typically British tactic of charging the bastards.
Now some bright spark has determined that what we really need in places such as Afghanistan is a weapon more comparable to the Kalashnikov, so they have produced a new weapon.
Guess what? It is a 7.62mm self loading rifle.
Well, bugger me!
Isn't that where we came in?
Twenty odd years and who knows how many wasted lives later, we are back where we started.
Anyone who has served with the old SLR will tell you that when you get shot with a 7.62mm round, you stay shot. At any distance up to 600m or so.
Why do we need to re-learn all old lessons every few decades?
Why do we need to fix something that wasn't broken?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

World's biggest collection of Chavs

Has anyone been watching the darts tournament currently under way in Frimley?
I have seen a couple of games, mainly because there was bugger all else on telly.
I am amazed at the collection of enthusiasts, families etc that gather there. I have a suspicion that if anyone turns up dressed like an ordinary person, they will quickly be shown the door.
The players turn up as bloated as you like showing yet another possible aspect of the dress code. If you aren't covered in tattoos and loads of bling, you don't get a game.
The audience seem to favour a collection of flashing, plastic tiaras for the women and jesters' caps for the men.
Then there is the commentator, can't remember his name now, possibly it is Tony Green, but he goes on and on and on about players' families, girl friends etc. "There's Fred's wife, lovely lass is myrtle". "Young Griselda, Bert's lady, is looking in fine form this evening. Lovely lass is Griselda". Every bugger there is great, lovely or smashing according to Mr Green.
Come on, they are a bunch of chavs and pikeys!
I used to play a lot of darts myself, both in the Army and while working in places such as Saudi Arabia etc and I used to enjoy it. It was looked on as a game, not a sport, and as a great social event, bringing people together for a good old laugh, booze-up and some social sandwich eating.
What have we now? A collection of very strange people, dressed in some really strange garb and calling for darts to be recognised as an Olympic sport!
Give me a bloody break!

Weather and Whingeing Brits

A couple of days ago, the BBC News web site quoted a prat at Gatwick airport, saying "Why is it whenever we get a bit of snow, this country grinds to a halt?" He then went on to describe the country as pathetic because of the effect the recent bad weather has had on transport etc.
I hereby declare this berk as "Empty Head of the Year".
He has probably been to Torremolinos a couple of times and considers himself therefore qualified to make sage comments on how this country compares in various fields, including dealing with the weather.
Well, Mr Empty Head, how about this?
I have lived and/or worked in plenty of locations where I have experienced cold/snowy weather, including Sweden, Norway, Germany, USA, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary etc.
Take it from me sunshine, they all have difficulties when the weather takes a turn for the worse, despite all of the above countries being much more familiar with severe cold and snow.
Look at Germany this weekend; roads closed left, right and sideways, trains & planes cancelled, more than 300 car accidents reported in one State alone (Baden Wurttemburg) and 108 more in Nord Rhein-Westphalia and a major motorway, the A5, closed.
In Poland, more than 140 people have frozen to death.
Eurostar have reduced their services through the Channel Tunnel, allegedly because of "traction problems".
Twaddle! It is because their trains are crap in the cold weather. Shuttle trains are running on the same tracks, with the same iron wheels. How does that work?
Tell you what, Eurostar's locomotives are desinged and built in France, while the Shuttle locomotives are built in Peterborough. Crap in the UK when the weather is bad then?
I spent time in Dallas in the winter of 1977 which was their worst in 100 years. It was entertaining to watch cars doing pirouettes on the icy freeways. Although the deep snow and ice remained until Easter, I don't remember seeing a gritter out on the roads once! Snow ploughs, yes but not gritters.
So, Empty Head, shut up and get some more travelling done. Try somewhere that doesn't thrive on Watneys Red Barrel, fish and chips and drunken British dick-heads.


When watching the government's recent announcement regarding the granting of licences for wind farms in British coastal waters, I was struck by some of the ridiculous statements concerning the additional benefits these farms would bring. ('Additional' only applies if you believe there are any benefits to begin with!)
Gordon Brown said: "This new round of licences provides a substantial new platform for investing in UK industrial capacity".
On the other hand, the British Wind Energy Association said the UK would only truly benefit if the turbines were manufactured here.
Another spokesman from the same association said more or less the opposite of that.
Recently, a successful manufacturer of turbine blades, based on the Isle of Wight, was closed by its (foreign owned) parent company. Not enough money in it, apparently.
Now that is rubbish, the Vestas plant exported all its production, thus earning foreign currency and contributing to some extent to the perennial balance of payments issue.
These blades were not particularly small either, have a look at this load leaving Southampton (for Canada) in 2008: http://kelvindavies.co.uk/kelvin/details.php?image_id=2692
And I have seen plenty of these.
So, in order to examine the claims of more jobs etc, let's look at what is actually happening.
The licence areas are:
Moray Firth Zone; licence granted to EDP Renovaveis and SeaEnergy Renewables. The first of which is a Portuguese company and the second is a newly renamed company, previously known as Ramco, based in Scotland. Ramco shares are largely held by Lanstead Capital PL, a venture capital mob run by a couple of Americans, Lampe Conway of Delaware and Stephen Remp, an American.
The Firth of Forth Zone; licence granted to SSE Renewables and Fluor. Now there's a can of worms. SSE refers to Scottish & Southern Electricity, a company which is in to all sorts of other ventures beside just plain selling of electricity. If ever you played one of the myriad scratch-cards available in the UK, there is a chance it was one of theirs. Other products they offer include broadband and internet services. Try looking at their web site; it doesn't bloody work! If they handle the offshore wind issue with the same technical skills they apply to the internet side of their business, there could be bumpy times ahead.
The Dogger Bank Zone; licence granted to SSE Renewables, RWE Npower Renewables, Statoil and Statkraft. Christ! More SSE Renewables! Plus RWE, Statoil and Statkraft.
Now, in Norwegian, 'Stat' means 'State' and Kraft means (in common with many other European languages) 'Power'. So there we have 2 Norwegian state owned concerns, 'State Oil' and 'State Power'. Meanwhile, let's not forget RWE Npower Renewables. This is a subsidiary of a subsidiary of RWE, otherwise known as 'Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk'. A German company.
The Hornsea Zone; licence granted to Mainstream Renewable Power, Siemens Project Ventures and Hochtief Construction. Mainstream Renewable Power was formed by the Irish company Airtricity in 2008, and Airticity in turn was acquired by SSE in 2008. Siemens and Hochtief are both universally well known German construction companies.
The Norfolk Bank Zone; licence granted to Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall Vindkraft. Scottish Power Renewables is owned by Iberdrola Renewables, a Spanish based multi-national. Vattenfall Vindkraft is a Swedish company that does ...well.. Swedish things.
The Hastings Zone; licence granted to E.On Climate and Renewables UK. We probably all are aware the E.On is a German company.
The Isle of Wight Zone; licence granted to Eneco New Energy, a Dutch company owned by 61 Dutch municipalities.
The Bristol Channel Zone; licence granted to RWE Npower Renewables. Done them, see Dogger Bank above.
The Irish Sea Zone; licence granted to Centrica Renewable Energy and involving RES Group. RES is part of the Robert McAlpine Group. Bloody hell, it is British! As for Centrica, they may well have been out of a demerger with British Gas but have in the past been the proud owners of the AA, Halfords, Goldfish credit cards, OneTel etc. etc. Not really a construction company then.
So, having had a look at that lot, I can see a couple of companies that qualify as engineering/construction companies, in particular Siemens, Hochtief and Fluor. None of these are based in Britain so why does anyone think they would be falling over themselves to generate jobs here?
There can only be one possible answer to this; the UK government will offer massive subsidies to "encourage" them. The EU will probably then block such subsidies, the engineering companies will, quite naturally, ensure those jobs are created in their home countries and the UK government will shrug their collective shoulders and say "we tried but EU regulations foiled us".
Balls! If this government was as serious about creating jobs here as they are about the fairy stories surrounding wind power, they would apply any subsidies to British engineering companies, helping regenerate at least a section of our manufacturing industry, creating jobs for UK residents and keeping our taxes here.
They would rather see all the assistance that this move would provide go to foreign industry.
That is why I headed this rant "Treason".
Definition of treason: a violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or to one's state.
Also defined as: the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Newspaper? Really?

Being a staunch supporter of Liverpool FC, I never buy the thing called "The Sun". I know the proprietors of this rag class it as a 'Newspaper' but they are taking the wee wee.
The Times used to be a fine newspaper but has fallen into a new category now; a sort of broadsheet tabloid. Being part of the same stable as The Sun, it was inevitable that the standards of this publication would fall from its pervious position as the yardstick by which other newspapers would be judged.
However, it is that other rag, The Sun, that is the subject of my attention today.
At work today, someone left a copy of this paper on a table in the lunch room, so I thought I would have a look (as surely it is a 'look' that one has, not a 'read') and what an eye-opener that was!
Some samples;
Front Page Headline: HATE MAIL CLERIC. This refers to a proposal by the leader of a bunch of Islamic fascists, Anjem Choudary, to write an open letter to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. He plans to publish this (it is an open letter, after all) on the internet. He is mailing nobody but don't let that get in the way of the Sun's front page rant. "Bugger the facts lads, it's the headlines we want".
Fast forward a few pages, past all the tits and bums etc. and, on page 11, is the headline "Killer Dad in suicide ahead of Vickie trial". This refers to the father of a murdered girl who had been remanded in custody, awaiting trial for the girl's murder. There's the catch; he was awaiting trial. He had been found neither guilty nor not guilty. Once again, the cry in the editorial room goes up; "Bugger the facts lads, it's the headlines we want".
On page 12 we see the headline "Family's Brit plea". What the bloody hell does that mean? It is not English as I understand it, it is merely a lump composed of two English words with an American slang word stuffed in the middle. What does it refer to? It refers to the family of the British man executed for drug smuggling in China recently. The article explains; the family want the UK government to hold an inquest. (Can't help wondering why, even I know how he died). My question to The Sun is "How does this headline give an inkling of what the article was about?"
On page 21 we see, in a massive font "DRUGS TERROR POTTER STAR IN HOSTEL HIDEOUT". I can't be bothered reading it, the headline tells me all I need to know. It will be gibberish, written by a moron with little or no actual 'news' content. So let's move on.
A item on page 22 refers to women being likely to return an unwanted gift from a partner.
The headline "Gift Rapped". ???
Page 26 brings the following gem; a man serving life for killing gay people has lost 7 stones in prison. There you go folks, that is what you hand over your hard earned cash for!
And so this rag goes on. Crap from cover to cover!
And to think, people happily hand over 30p for this!