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February 25th, 2011

Libya : A Perspective

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I sit here and the worst thing I can hear is the rumble of fans from various bits of kit and at times the annoyingly loud conversation.
I am over a 1000 miles away from the shooting and screams that I imagine exist in Libya at this moment, but this isn't an analysis of how safe I am.

The problem with Totalitarian Regimes is that they don't create 'safe' exit strategy. They are of the hubric opinion that they will be there forever. They tend to forget that the grim reaper comes to all things, and thus there cannot be a need for a graceful exit.

The phrase that "That the people should not walk in fear of their government but the government should walk in fear of their people" is starkly brought to light in recent days.

The people of Libya have had to walk in fear for at least 40 years, and I suspect longer than that prior to their Army led revolution. What we see now is that fear has been turned into anger.

The Libyan Government has no graceful exit strategy and neither do the people of Libya. Both have effectively ensnared themselves into a deathly embrace of violence and bloodshed.

However the people have an advantage, for one thing is that there is more of them than the cadre of government followers and they have a conscience, even those that were in the Libyan Armed forces. They cannot idly stand by and see their fellow citizens being being straffed by 20 mm cannon for holding a placard and shouting. They aren't being paid to fight back, they are doing it for free because they can't let that continue and still look at themselves in the mirror.

You may ask why I used the term ensnared themselves. I'll give you two reasons. The first is that the people did not insist on checks and balances that hold a government in check, the second is that Libyan government did not look back in history and see that such checks and balances were worth having.

So the people of Libya have shaken themselves from their indolence with respect to saying the word NO and sadly many will now die for the previous generations lack lustre performance for demanding the right to say NO.

As for Libyan government, no one will give the leaders a safe haven, what Arab State could hold someone who ordered Anti Aircraft weaponary fired at people in the street.
So they have no where to go, and they are only going to go down fighting with a mixture of anger and astonishment, how could these people be so wrong ??

November 26th, 2010

Fears

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There is a significant difference between our political system and that of North Korea's. It could be determined that they don't have a political system, they only have a doctrine where nothing exists outside of that doctrine, there is no other way let alone a third way.
So I would like to opine a thesis. It is due to the concept of doctrine that causes North Korea (NK) to behave as it does, ie an aggressive stance. I'll put the steps in-between now. You have a doctrine that defines your mind set you live with it but when you encounter something that is outside of that mind set you initially do not understand it. So therefore it can't be correct so it's wrong and should be ignored. And then something goes click and you do understand it. Unfortunately if you have doctrine and not politics you can't 'change' and part of you clings even more to it because you don't want to admit you are wrong and have wasted a lot of energy on something that is worthless. So you want to make sure no one else finds out it's wrong. That is the thing about politics it's a bloody good excuse to have an argument with different points of view. No politics, no freedom, no chance to change, no chance to admit you are wrong. So your belligerence increases as you can't break out it. So here is the situation with NK right now.
Fear growing and a need to look strong because of your fear, You have to look bigger than You am against the other mind set.
The problem is how do you stop some nation state entering this psychotic situation. I don't know, it's in the purview of the Psychiatrists and the Diplomats. We fear however it might have to be dealt with by the Generals.

November 1st, 2010

The Weekend

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This weekend has been a full weekend.
I have learnt many things, some funny, some practical and some that that were staring me in the face.
The funny ones are range from wandering around dressed up like Dracula doing the Trick or Treat thing to finding out about a certain scale that was dreamt up in Bristol, I'll not give the full details here but will on request.
One of the many practical lessons learnt was that dealing with children, I have observed a Mum at close quarters and marvelled. Things like not actually mentioning the museum that you are actually going to is not the Science Museum but something else.
However I think the most practical lesson with respect to being either a Mother or a Father is that there are no guidelines, there are no practical manuals. It is ENTIRELY on a wing and a prayer. You are are making it up as you go along.
There is a confusion that arrives when a bloke, especially an engineer is presented with a child. You cannot apply what would be deemed a 'rational' logical approach to dealing with a child. This doesn't mean that they are are being a pain in the arse deliberately or actually 'being' a pain in the arse. It's like trying to apply normal Euclidean Geometry to a curved surface, there can be more than 180 deg in a triangle and it will just cause you frustration trying to stick to a flat world theory.
It's been interesting, in a good way, learning about this.
It's also been amazing watching a Mum just switch naturally through all the possible phases from being a lover, partner, confidant and then a Mother.
It has to be said that Stephanie has a few years ahead of me when it comes this and hopefully I will be able to catch up and have that innate flexibility and fleetness of foot /mind for when it I need it to deal with a small person.
I think I might be a good sign that I was able to do the following.
K says she might one day swallow the straw she is using to drink her milk.
I say 'Noooo you would have to go to where mummy works and see a doctor and then you would have to open your mouth wide so the doctor put's his hand into your mouth and into tummy and pull it out'.
Insert appropriate wibbly noises as I pretend to put my hand down her throat to pluck the offending straw out.
It made her smile and the chap we were sharing the table apparently found it hard to keep back the laughter.
So this is how I am trying to work it out, a healthy dose of sillyness and imagination.
I am not trying to replace K's father, that would be wrong but trying to find a role which she is comfortable with and that I can have a positive effect.
Ok the thing that has been staring at me in the face is something I've known for a while but each time I encounter it it still amazes me. Stephanie has been in an ICU, AnE Nurse, has battlefield Nursing capability, has done various other entertaining things and brought up a child through some very difficult circumstances. She switches through all of these roles and still some how has some clock cycles left over for me. Just how the hell does she do it ? It still amazes me.

October 3rd, 2010

Energy Management

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It is said that along with his sheet of polythene Edward Tellers other inspirational insight into the Super was the realisation that Heat is Pressure.
While I have no need to attempt fusion I have had to examine energy management in my own way.

Stephanie has bought a second hand car and while we knew the radiator needed to be replaced at some point the we thought ok let's give it a whirl.

So we are on the way out we get a level light, stop and fill it up. Get to Abergavenny with no issues.
We sprint up to the top of the Blorenge, pleasantly surprised.
Get to the top and we get the level low indicator, refill and then coast down through the valley down to Pontypool and then then onto the bridge. Lamp lights up and calcs are made.
We head home via Bristol, A4,A36. Last bit of the ring road I am starting to get concerned about the temperature, it's no where near the red but it's starting to rise.
We pull into a petrol station, allow things to cool and put more water in.
So here is the dynamic. Impaired cooling system, approx 70 miles to Southampton, small child in the back who is being pretty good and it's starting to REALLY throw down with rain.
Edward Teller had problems with the Super which were related to Heat and Pressure, the whole Polythene sheet thing, well I think you should look up Xrays.
I had the same kind of problem. If I go fast I generate heat, heat generates pressure within the remains of the coolant system, we lose coolant.
Had a couple of really good things in our favour, it was coldish, it was raining. Also we had two adults, one to be entirely devoted to looking after the small child and the other to entirely concentrate on the road.
I can't talk for being a Mum but observing what was going on was pretty impressive. It allowed me to do the gear ratio, temperature and road angle analysis.
The rain was really useful in the following ways
a. It was heavy, people didn't get toooooo pissed off having someone slow in front of them.
b. It was heavy, this meant we get to have a few puddles that splash up and cool, one major puddle dropped by 10 degrees.

Balancing all of these things meant that I could hold temperature in an acceptable safe zone but boy it was a balancing act, keeping where ever possible in 5th and at about 40 max.
It was one of the hardest drives I've ever had to undertake, true the whole San Pietre Pass was pretty entertaining but this was tough, I had responsibility which was beyond myself.

September 21st, 2010

Hippies and Preachers

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This last weekend was spent in Devon with Stephanie. It meant that I got to meet her Sister Emily and her Brother in Law Ryan.

We arrived late on Friday, Emily and Ryan were still up, which was good of them seeing as they were attending a wedding the following day.

Saturday has the normal wimbling around until we got out through the door.
We were intending to go walking but some stupid arse had forgotten to pack his walking socks, so a trip into Totnes was needed prior to the walk.

So how can I describe Totnes, hmmm.
It's a Devon town dedicated almost completely to Hippydom and Tea Rooms. Now I have no problem with Hippies, I find their retina burning colour schemes rather enticing, and even now and again they utter pearls of wisdom which are worth the listening to, such as

"No this ganja is, in my long experience of recreational pharmecutical abuse, the best weed since I was an eggplant"

or other incisive observations such as

"ooooh your aura is all sparkly and sings to me with caramel oranges"

and

"Oh yes, I understand Quantum Mechanics" (see a previous post).

They are worth listening to for several very very good reasons and these are

1. If it doesn't make sense then there is a high probability that you are sane.
2. It gives an insight to the deeper levels of bollocks that not evening Marketing Executives could plunge to.
3. They provide interesting quotes for blogs, such as this one.

However (and yes now for the polemic bit that dear reader you have been waiting for)

HOWEVER ! (and I can't say this strongly enough)

HOWEVER HIPPIES AND TEA ROOMS DO NOT MIX !!!!!

Now I feel that I have had many experiences of Tea Rooms all round the country and indeed the world, it comes from being a Hill Walker and general lover of Tea and when amused Coffee.

So it's early, it's a good idea for some coffee, Stephanie and I ask for a Latte' , the emaciated sallow complexion hippy blanks and says they don't do latte's, ok, that's acceptable, and then he reels off a different types of coffee that generally have the words like Fair Trade and the word Organic in there some kind of n bit binary combination.

My mouth hits the floor, they don't do Latte' but they have every kind of coffee that has at some point been through the digestive tract of a rare and unusual elephant AND it is terribly organic and world friendly.

Stephanie takes over noticing my astonishment at this guy and his selection of coffees. She is made of sterner stuff and has more than likely taken out some of these guys with an SA80 (A) while arriving at the CORRECT beach in Gibralter.

AND they have the SHEER bloody cheek to charge £2.10 for a SINGLE toasted teacake, butter extra.

So may I strongly advise you steer clear of a tea room that professes to be a 'Vegan' Tea Room, they have as much idea about tea rooms as an iguana has about Bra and Ket notation.

September 8th, 2010

Just Nuts

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It is a well known fact that an Atheist is in need of a good rant.
Now that I have the literary reference out of the way I'll enter polemic mode.

Ok I'm an Atheist, I carried a candle for a Vicar but then I saw the light !
There are so many issues I have with Religion and what it has done to the Human Race, which let's face it has been self inflicted (the alternatives are that it's the initial opening gambit by a horde of invading aliens to split us humans up or there is a God, I'm going with Occams Razor at this point).

However dare I say it the whole idea of being nice to people and treating them with respect is not bad. This is why I don't go around with a significant amount of Napalm taking out churches and burning the believers, they are entitled to their point of view, they have one or two good points and GENERALLY they don't chase me around with lots of Napalm and try to remove that spot of logic that may cause them issues. As I say the Pope and I are kind of on the same mission, to save the other from their ignorance.

OK so, if I may use an element of irony, I am happy to be ecumenical in my Atheism.

So here I am on the sidelines of a monumentally Stupid and Blinkered event, no it's not the Pope deciding to build a W.M.D. (you could say they already have but that's another rant for another day). No it's a bunch of Christian Idiots getting round to FINALLY and for ALL time proving that DUMB Americans DO get irony.
Now don't get me wrong, I have American friends, they are bright, intelligent and show all those most excellent qualities that are required to be Welsh, it's not their fault they were born in another country (just ask for asylum guys :), no need for Orange suits :) ).
But here is the RUB, they are intelligent and bright, they GET irony, it's inherently wired into their DNA, they love it.
However it has always been assumed that DUMB Americans DON"T get Irony, it's not in their lexicon let alone their dictionary. Well as they say Assumptions are the Mothers of all Fuckups (that phrase works so well on so many levels).

So here is the organisation called 'Dove World Outreach Center ' is just about to burn a shed load of books that happen to be the Quoran. Now if I remember correctly from religious education that the Dove is symbol used for Peace, and the term Outreach is used to here to have open arms to the World.
By burning the Quoran there is no peace generated and it shuts out a lot of people around the world to their point of view. So it's the most Ironic event to have occurred since the Freedom Fries debacle (see American War of Independence). It finally proves that my assumption was completely to cock, mea culpa.

On a slightly serious note it means that there are some wonderfully peaceful Moslems who have a faith and care for all the good things in it who may now be driven to question their position. Why the hell should they let differences of opinion just stay as differences if the other 'side' is going to start burning what they find sacred ? Hmm maybe the more lunatic guys have a point ????

By this Stupid and Blinkered act these idiots are going to piss off the good guys and re-affirm the positions of the bad guys.
Is this some kind of 'I have bigger balls than you and I am going to send you a message' thing.
Well I hope the Pastor who is driving all of this will have good manners to reply to the letters sent him by the Mothers of the Soldiers and Civilians who would not necessarily died but for his benighted lack of vision.

August 24th, 2010

Someone new

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I've met this girl, well girl I think is not the correct word because that almost implies some giggly wibbly wobbly person who yet has to see the world and all that it can do.
Stephanie has run barefoot upon the sands of Maylasia, travelled to distant places and then come back again after after but a few short hours, sung "Nellie the elephant" while keeping someone alive, seen the miracle of birth and seen how even when nothing could be done and that dark spectre passes by that a life can be celebrated and good be drawn from it.
But she is a girl because she has a bright pink rucksac that her daughter chose for her, yet she knows how to load and fire an SA80 and has some very good friends from the days that she wore green.
There are many avenues of experience here, many areas of knowledge, some of which intersect with mine in rather unexpected ways ! You don't expect a girl to turn round and ask if I got hit by an EMP.
And she is still learning, she draws, paints and now the potential of photography.
While she is out there scuba diving and throwing herself out of perfectly good aircraft she does understand the quiet times and talking. There is an intuition that is backed up by an analytical mind, you don't become a Captain by being stupid, the ways and means of where an order was circumvented was just poetry.
There is an amalgam that I haven't seen before. She has a wide dynamic range of experience, lived so many different lives in such a short period of time and here is something else for her, a new challenge taking on a Welshman, why do I think she is more than capable :).

July 18th, 2010

So there I am mid flight in the bathroom and the door bell rings.
I put the point and shoot weapon of mass destruction (yeah I know in my dreams) away and sprint to the door shouting "I'm coming !" (NO JUST DON"T GO THERE).

I open the door and there is a tall chap with a young lady ( 29, blonde, pony tail, large eyes, beige one piece suit and sucking on a pen in a notebook, wants world peace). The guy looked a bit like one of the doctors in Casualty a few years ago. I have no idea what colour eyes he had.

I'm leaning around the door as I am just wearing pyjama trousers.
The conversation goes something like this
Me "Hi How can I help"
Him "Ah this is not a good time"
Me"Well it's not great but go for it"
Him"We are just coming around asking if people have thought about these questions"
He hands me a piece of paper which has a list "
I accept the list and ask
"Which Religion do you you represent"
"The Jehova Witnesses"
"Ah well I am a deeply committed Athiest,"
"I have friends who are deeply in love with each other who are Gay"
"Your religion is all about love but you seem to be happy to filter out their love"
"This world needs love to keep going"
"I respect your position but I am deeply against it"
He then responds
"We all have freedom of choice"
"Yes we all do and that is why I am just about to exercise it, goodbye"
I then gently close the door.

The thing that gets me is this, why are there a phenomenonoly large number of pretty women involved with these guys.

June 12th, 2010

Farewell Suzie

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Yesterday I attended the funeral of Susan, Dan's sister. I have knonw Dan for getting for 20 years and over those years I seen Susan now and again. However for Dan and Akiko's wedding and everytime that he has been in the UK she has made an appearance.
Always full of life, always ready to live it and have fun. Yet she was there to talk and listen and become a peacemaker in that troubled family. Not a small task. She endeared herself to all and to quote
"Became a Pide Piper" when it came to children.
It was impossible to not like Suzie with with her long blonde hair bright dazzlingly blue eyes and generally raucous way. Rubenesque in proportions she had decided to slim and from the photographs had got well on the way. I suspect this might have been as her boyfriend Richard had proposed.
She was desperately proud of him and would openly comment saying she had
'Got a good one there'.
She was the organiser within her many groups of friends and was well on her way in a carreer at Play.com known as the

"Go to Girl"

It had been known for her friends boyfriends to ask Her first if they could marry her friends. If you got her approval then you were OK, it shows her fierce loyalty to her friends.
Richard, her fiancé, is a quieter chap and not prone to exhibit his feeling, prompting Suzie to call him an
"emotionless bastard"
Yet she must have known that quiet waters run oh so very deep, for while he read his eulogy you could see the depth of his feeling and love for this girl. His small and poigniant poem brought a tear to many a hardened eye, including my own.
I spoke to him later and he expressed how he was glad that she had died that way, peacefully in her sleep with no pain or fear.
He said she spoke of me and Dan and this floored me as I didn't think I would occupy her thoughts that often but apparently I did !
This is when it truly hit home, I had come not only to support Dan and his family but to also to say good bye to a friend.

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June 11th, 2010

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