The Anonymous Widower

Boys With Be Boys

There is a lot of speculation in the media, as why Muslim men are flocking to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Was it ever any different?

Go back to the Middle Ages and it was rape and pillage in the Crusades or with Henry the fifth, and later it was piracy with Drake and Grenville.

Nelson And Wellington were not short of volunteers and in Victorian times, it was all about Empire building, with a small personal fortune thrown in, if you were lucky!

Perhaps the nearest parallel to that of Syria and Iraq today, was the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War. Many of those who fought in the Brigades or openly supported them went on to be important figures in later life.

You could also argue that both the First and Second World War was an outlet for many men, who had an excess of testosterone.

I also remember a General, saying that the Falklands War did a lot of good for Army recruitment.

I am a pacifist or more likely a coward, but we shouldn’t be too quick to condemn those, who go to fight in Iraq and Syria.

The ones we should condemn are the countries and arms dealers, who are giving the likes of the odious President Assad, the weapons they are using to kill their own people.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Police Workload Due To Social Media

According to this article on the BBC, social media crimes are at least half of all frontline Police work. Here’s the first two paragraphs.

Complaints originating from social media make up “at least half” of a front-line police officer’s work, a senior officer has told the BBC.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall, head of the College of Policing, said the number of crimes arising from social media represented “a real problem”.

I’m not against reporting these crimes to the Police in any way, but I do think that this is a rather large load on the Police.

As a programmer, who has worked in data analysis for many years and as I feel I understand the Internet very well, I do not feel it is beyond the wit of programmers and companies to create a robust and trusted Internet-based system to deal with all the annoyances of the modern age.

Obviously, you could still go to the Police directly, but if say forwarding an offensive message to a semi-automated system had a sensible outcome, you might find this less trouble.

There are very few things that because of my physical and mental make-up that can be said to me as abuse. Although, I do get fed-up with some spam messages that seem to come to me every day. But I can understand how some people  get offended and need their tormentors stopped.

I believe that a well-programmed system could handle much of the abuse and unwanted messages we get. If it became trusted and the sanctions it had taken against persistent nuisances were respected, people would think twice before sending offensive messages.

It might even stop crime and disrupt terrorist networks. As I write this, it has been said on the BBC, that you can follow what is going on with ISIS in Iraq through Twitter.

But then politicians don’t understand the power of technology and especially don’t like being bypassed by it. So we are more likely to see draconian laws on social media.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Does Our Talking About Them Encourage ISIS?

The insurgents called ISIS in Iraq are very much driven by clever use of social media and the news, to put forward their violent psychopathic philosophy.

So does our worrying on news programs and in the newspapers, actually encourage them to do something even worse in the UK?

We should not ignore them, be vigilant and have plans in place, but perhaps to keep quiet in public might be the best course of action? All we’re doing is perhaps encouraging disaffecting people to join the organisation and various other elements to take direct action.

June 20, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

The Man who got Saddam Hussein to Give Up Smoking

Dr. William Frankland was yesterday appearing in a case as an expert witness, a day before his 100th birthday.

The case is reported in The Times today, that also says that in  1986 he was flown to Iraq to treat Saddam Hussein. Saddam listened to the good doctor’s advice and gave up his 60-a-day cigarette habit.

In some ways he feels guilty about it, as he believes without his advice, Saddam would have died naturally years ago.

Perhaps, Blair and Bush missed a trick here, by not reminding Saddam that he owed his life to a very good British doctor.

After all, all dictators are paranoid about their health.

February 27, 2012 Posted by | Health, News | , , , | Leave a comment

Sarah Palin ‘believed Queen was in charge of British forces in Iraq’

Another article from the Daily Telegraph.

I think if the Queen had been in charge, we wouldn’t have had a war in Iraq.

Sarah Palin always strikes me that if she had had a word fight with any of the great wordsmiths, she’d have been metaphorically hung, drawn and quartered.

February 21, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Quote from T. E. Lawrence

As the players came out in the Fourth Test at the Oval, a quote from T. E. Lawrence was on the wall.

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

I’ll go with that! I actually think, that when you dream in the daytime, you do it because of real stimuli around you, so your dreams fit the facts.  When you do it at night, you imagine advice from past friends and companions, which keeps you going in difficult times.  I had such a dream in Hong Kong.

I would suspect that Martin Luther had his dream in the daytime, when he analysed what he could see going on around him.

Lawrence is a great source of quotes.

I particularly like this one.

The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the modern commander.

And this one.

I’ve been & am absurdly over-estimated. There are no supermen & I’m quite ordinary, & will say so whatever the artistic results. In that point I’m one of the few people who tell the truth about myself.

It just shows what a great man he was.  It’s a pity we didn’t realise it fully at the time.

We didn’t even learn from this quote.

The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour.

Tony Blair and Dubya certainly didn’t see it coming.

August 19, 2011 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Was It Right To Bomb Germany As We Did in the Second World War?

I have felt for a long time that the bombing of German cities by the RAF and the USAAF was rather a pointless exercise driven more by vengeance and revenge than any strategic purpose to defeat the Nazis.

Remember, I was brought up in London and many of my relatives experienced the bombing first hand. My grandfather’s premises close to the Barbican, where he worked as an engraver, were completely destroyed in the Blitz. Many of these people weren’t too bothered about the bombing as it just made them angry and anyway they survived. Others might have felt different, but most just felt that you had to deal with what happened and get on with life. Supposedly, one of the reasons for bombing civilians was to break their moral and hopefully get them to turn against the government.  I think that London and other British cities that were bombed showed that it didn’t work.  If anything it just stiffened their resolve to carry on.

Was it any different in Germany, when we bombed their cities? I’ve only met a couple of Germans, who endured the bombing from the RAF and the USAAF and they didn’t seem to react any differently  to the way we did. And they probably suffered a lot more.

But also remember that a 250,000 from both the RAF and the USAAF either died or went missing in the bombing of Germany. So in some ways we lost the trained personnel that we really needed to support the invasion.

 I also remember reading the history of the de Havilland Mosquito. Initially this superb design wasn’t really wanted by the RAF, as they felt who in his right mind would want to fly across to bomb Germany in an unarmed aircraft built out of ply and balsa wood. To them and the USAAF, a heavily armed four engined bomber would obviously be better. But statistics proved them wrong, as the Mosquito, which carried virtually the same bomb load as a B-17, but with a crew of two instead of ten, had a much higher return rate and much lower losses of crew. It was also much faster and could bomb Germany twice in one night.

In my view it should have been used strategically to take out German infrastructure, such as important factories and rail junctions. Wikipedia says this.

Mosquitos were widely used by the RAF Pathfinder Force, which marked targets for night-time strategic bombing. Despite an initially high loss rate, the Mosquito ended the war with the lowest losses of any aircraft in RAF Bomber Command service. Post war, the RAF found that when finally applied to bombing, in terms of useful damage done, the Mosquito had proved 4.95 times cheaper than the Avro Lancaster.

Yesterday, the obituary of Flight Lieutenant Don Nelson was published in the papers.

He was an RAF navigator, who helped to plan the destruction of German infrastructure in the run up to D-Day.

This is an extract from The Times.

In the spring of 1944 Bomber Command under its redoubtable but stubborn leader, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, was ordered to divert a proportion of its energies from the strategic bombing of Germany, of which Harris was the architect, to attacking targets in northern France and Belgium — railways, bridges, tunnels, marshalling yards — whose destruction would materially expedite the forthcoming Allied invasion of German-occupied Europe.

Although Harris dug his heels in against what he was convinced was a misuse of his strategic bomber force, a trial raid against a railway centre at Trappes, south west of Paris, in early March resulted in such spectacular destruction and dislocation of rail traffic that it became evident that a sustained assault by Bomber Command would be capable of virtually paralysing the German capacity to move troops against whatever beach heads the Allies might establish before, and not after, the projected invasion. This was a vital discovery. In spite of Harris’s protests his best bomber squadrons were from then until June 6, 1944, and afterwards, employed on this momentous interdiction work.

The Telegraph tells a very similar story.

Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I think we probably could have done better in our bombing campaign against Germany, by bombing infrastructure important to the war effort, rather than the general population.

We also never learn from the past, as if we look at Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya, we continue to make the same mistakes we always do. Inevitably vengeance seems to get mixed up with the simple objective of defeating a vile and hideous regime and its leader.

June 16, 2011 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Colonel Tim Collins Shoots From The Hip

Colonel Tim Collins, was the army officer who gave the inspirational speech to his troops before the last Iraq War.

He’s just been on Kate Silverton’s program on Radio 5, being as forthright as anybody I’ve heard in the last few months.

A few points.

  1. He said that Tony Blair had surrounded himself with obsequious advisers who weren’t up to the job.
  2. He wished that the second Iraq war had been more like the first, with a coalition of sixty countries.
  3. On Northern Ireland he said that Yesterday’s men are still trying to get the war going.  But the real problem is lack of jobs and especially for young people in the province.
  4. He was very scathing about Defence Procurement, saying that they squandered all the money.
  5. Asked about the defence cuts, he said something like if Virgin could do the long-range troop deployments, the Navy the strike and the battlefield helicopters were under the Army, then what is there for the Air Force to do.
  6. As Colonel Tim is a proud Irishman, I was surprised he would want to have dinner with Oliver Cromwell.  But then he said he wanted to get to know the man.

It was an amazing interview full of common sense and humanity.

November 14, 2010 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Dutch Lose a World Record to the Iraqis

I don’t think the Dutch will be too bothered, as it’s only the record for the longest time taken to form a government!  The full report is here.

October 2, 2010 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

Lord Heseltine

Lord Heseltine is on Radio 5 at the moment. What a sensible man! I did like his comment about Labour being good in opposition, but hopeless in government. How true? He also said they will be pumping scare stories about the Budget like mad and the media will dance to their tune.

Is Lord Heseltine the best Prime Minister we never had? Possibly, but his views may well come to the fore.  He’s just been taling so sensibly about how we reinvigorate our great cities like Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and others.

He’s just giving very sensible views on Iraq and Afghanistan.

June 27, 2010 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment