27 December 2008

A Weird Boxing Day In The Footy...

It was a weird Boxing Day in the weirdest Premiership season I can remember.

It's a season where three or four bad games can alter a club from title contenders to relegation fighters and managers from local heroes to people who need sacking badly (Personally, I think managers have it too hard- one should not get sacked for losing the final of the Champions League).

I caught a fair bit of the Villa-Arsenal game. It was a spectacular goal that levelled it for Villa and I, for some reason (I'd usually support Arsenal in this encounter, but I generally support Arsenal in their encounters, unless they're playing West Ham, of course).

Great one for the Hammers, wasn't it? 4-1 against Pompey at their ground is a brilliant result. They should have kept Redknapp...

Man City did a great job against Hull. I guess their manager is safe for the time being. Come the transfer window in January, they're going to be spending like a thing that spends a lot (thank you, Messrs. Whedon, Curtis, Elton, Atkinson et. al). Perhaps next season they'll be the richest side in the Championship. ;)

Man U certainly left it to beat Stoke- it should have been a walkover.

It's going to be an interesting title race- it could go to any one of five or six clubs. For the record, I will now make my preferences clear.

Come on you Reds!

Gaza airstrikes

The Gaza Strips has suffered its worst airstrikes since 1967, as you've probably read on the news sites.

It seems to me that this is the lead up to a full-scale invasion by Israel, who are probably getting sick of Hamas.

It's going to be nasty whatever happens. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.

24 December 2008

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish everyone an enjoyable and safe Christmas season.

Praise the Lord for the birth of his Son, that our sins might be forgiven and that we might enter his Kingdom!

20 December 2008

US Election Analysis

I was going to do one, but it's a bit late now.

If anyone still wants it, please let me know.

19 December 2008


A job that requires no qualifications and which you can't get sacked from for excessively poor performance.

So, I'll be here for a while yet... ;)

14 December 2008

Misuse of the word "since"

I'm getting annoyed with people constantly using "since" in the same sense as "like".

For example, an advert for the Quantum of Solace video game has a reviewer describe it as "the best since GoldenEye". I suspect that's one of those ripped out of context quotes, but still it's the word since that bugs me.

Let's say that each year, the number of cider bottles drunk by Dave is counted. These are the results:
1997- 61
1998- 23
1999- 30
2000- 8
2001- 24
2002- 25
2003- 15
2004- 21
2005- 32

Now, you could say that in 2005, Dave drunk the most amount of port he's drunk since 1997 and express alarm over his alcohol consumption levels. However, he's only drunk half of his 1997 level.

The current recession has been described as the "worst financial crisis since the Great Depression". However, it's nowhere near the Great Depression- financiers aren't jumping off skyscrapers, for example.

Please, to everyone in the media, put this in perspective.

06 December 2008


I expect that this will go up at AJJE Games over the next couple of days, so I had better advertise it now.

Covert-81 combines three of the areas at I have a great interest in- RPing, espionage and the Cold War, in the form of a play-by-post RPG.

The year is 1981. Détente is in ruins after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. With the SS-20 missile deployment in the Western USSR and the planned NATO counter-deployments, a new, seemingly hard-line US president and a rapidly arming USSR, it seems that nuclear war is closer than ever.

Behind the summits and the rhetoric, shadowy operations are going on. Two black-ops organisations, one on each side of the East-West divide, battle to gain the advantage in this global struggle.

Choose your side: Section 91, dedicated to protecting Western freedom and democracy, or Chameleon, aiming to ensure the triumph of Marxism-Leninism.

Inspired by such works as Firefox, The A-Team, MacGyver and the Tom Clancy novels, but with the benefit of hindsight and better accents, Covert-81 is a tale of espionage, high-technology, betrayal, danger and really, really bad hairdos.

If you're interested, please email me at silenthunta@hotmail.com

(yes, that's a "Backfire"- from the DIA Military Art Collection)

29 November 2008

Damian Green

Some general thoughts:
  • I suspect that Green's releasing stuff in "the public interest" was also because it further served the Tory interest
  • I believe that Brown and Smith weren't told about this beforehand- Diane Abbott said that there had to be political cover and I think not telling them was that
  • If this was a Labour MP doing this, the Daily Mail et. al would not be so much in arms
  • I hope there was a very good reason for this- I suspect there's something more than the Tory story.
(Edit 3.10pm - this is my 200th post)

Winning The War On Terror

This is the first part of an ongoing series where I try to solve the world's problems and probably fail miserably. Nevertheless, it's the trying that counts.

My first such topic will be on the war on terror. Now, this is the obvious conflict that is going on and one we'd all like to end, whether it be bringing our relatives who serving in Iraq and Afghanistan home or just not having to remove your shoes every time you go through airport security.

One cannot win the war on terror by military means alone. Some argue that it cannot be won at all.

Jesus said "love your enemy". This might be a good approach.

One thing we have to remember- Muslims are not our enemy. Those who distort that religion for their own sick ends are. However, there's no reason why we should not also treat them with love.

It's going to be important for President Obama to close Guantanamo Bay down. While I strongly suspect that some of the abuses there have been exaggerated by people for their own purposes, its existence is a recruiting sergeant for disaffected Muslim youths. Those there need to be placed on trial in a system that combines transparency with security- i.e. not releasing information that must remain secret.

On the subject of disaffected Muslim youths- the Muslim community in this country do feel that they are being excluded. This one is going to be a bit controversial, but I think, provided all parties agree in advance, that sharia law courts should be allowed.

The anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Tory press must stop.

We need to tackle the Middle East problem starting now, not after Obama takes office. It is the single key issue that "Al-Qaeda" gets most of its support from and we need to show the Muslim street that we care about them.

This also applies, as I've already mentioned, to the corrupt governments in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia in particular.

Global poverty needs to be dealt with, recession or no recession. I'm rather curious as to how much of China's foreign debt (if it has any) British people actually own. One way to deal with that is eliminating all tax havens, so uncaring rich people have nowhere to run. Lewis Hamilton (not saying he's uncaring) could pay a little more tax for a start. I also favour the Tobin tax.

These will show that we love all people, regardless of their skin colour or beliefs.

Of course, it may end up being the most loving thing in some cases to drop a 500-lb bomb on someone's head, sadly.

Your thoughts are welcome.

27 November 2008

Speaking of Tories...

Boris may have scrapped The Londoner. Havering Tories haven't scrapped their bi-weekly paper.

In other news, my long-planned 1980s espionage RP for AJJE Games, Covert-81, should be going up soon.

I'll give you more details when the page is created.

Boris Johnson talks the talk on the environment...

But then scraps the Dagenham Dock DLR extension and is going to scrap the C-Charge extension.

I didn't vote for this guy and I think people who voted him in because he's amusing should examine his record before 2012.

Mumbai Attacks

I suppose you've already heard about it. Nasty, that's for sure.

Let me make one thing clear to those cowards who don't even have the bravery to attack military targets- as long as I have anything to do with it, you are not getting one iota of what you want.

22 November 2008

Comments Policy

I've revised the comments policy- anyone can now contribute, but I reserve the right to remove offensive posts.

Thanks to Alun for pointing that out- Blogger has upgraded since I last the policy.

Remembrance: Legacy and Peace

The Legacy of the Second World War

The First World War was supposed to be the war to end all wars. As is blatantly obvious, it didn't exactly live up to that name.

The war changed the world, basically. The old European militaristic "glory of war" attitude was effectively destroyed for most people by trench warfare. Women got the vote, the class structure altered radically and the political structures of Europe were altered forever.

Of the countries in Europe most effected, Russia and Germany stand out for obvious reasons.

The Treaty of Versailles is rightly considered as a major cause of the Second World War. It made several crucial mistakes- being both too harsh and too soft on Germany.

General Pershing, despite his stupid decision to continue attacks on German troops after the Armistice had been signed (it was signed at 5am, but did not come into effect until 11am), commented that it should have been made abundantly clear that Germany had lost. If not, people could claim they had not- as Hitler did.

That said, blaming Germany for the whole of the war was wrong and its military should not have been limited in the way that it was (the Weimar Republic was already in breach of the military provisions before Hitler came to power). Germany should, as was done after the Second World War, been gradually reintegrated into the international community.

The biggest impact, which still resonates 90 years on, was the creation of the USSR. No USSR, arguably no Hitler, or at least no consideration of expansion. The support of the Western states of the anti-Bolshevik forces coloured Soviet perceptions of them for a long time, playing a factor in the Cold War and probably today.

Gavrio Princip's shots still echo today.


Someone once said, si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war). President Theodore Roosevelt said "speak softly and carry a big stick".

I can't recall the quote, but someone once commented, in essence, that an entire peaceful nation would be a sitting duck for one with warlike intentions.

There are around 210 geo-political entities on this planet. Even if 209 were entirely peaceful, just one could cause serious problems.

Certain people on the left place much of the blame on the current world situation on the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Sure, they have to share some of the blame, but it does not all rest with them by any extent of the imagination.

"Al-Qaeda" (I use the term in speech marks when I refer to the entire movement on a collective level) and the Taliban are the source of much of the trouble in Afghanistan- for example firing from civilian-occupied buildings, a violation of the principles of war.

We cannot defeat these people solely by arms that fire bullets, but we also need to use arms that provide hugs. We must put major pressure on the Middle Eastern states to allow freedom of speech and democratise- allowing people to affect politics in other ways. We also have to wean them off their dependence on oil as a revenue source, just as we have to do it as an energy source. On a related note, selling Eurofighter Typhoons to Saudi Arabia is a bad idea.

I have a saying- Perception is nine-tenths of a war. People start wars out of fear or because they misread others, more than anything. Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 is an example of the latter- he thought the USSR would prevent UN action, which it didn't do.

We need to understand the cultures of others- and explain our own to them.

I don't imagine it will be easy by any stretch of the imagination- there will always be a few war-lovers, people who glory in causing mass destruction, out there. We just need to make sure that they are contained.

While this concludes this series, I want to explore certain aspects of this in my blog in the future.

21 November 2008

The continuation of this blog

The Remembrance post will follow tomorrow or Sunday.

That said, I am seriously considering mothballing this blog. I do not seem to be getting any visitors at all and I do not fancy speaking into thin air.

I will let you know my decision in two weeks.

16 November 2008


The two final Remembrance posts were due on Monday and Tuesday, but I had internet connection problems.

They will be posted as one post, probably sometime next week.

09 November 2008

Remembrance: The Sea War

I intend to do two more posts on the subject of the First World War- one more on its legacy and a second on peace in general.

The First World War is not as well known in the naval area as the Second. There was only a couple of large sea battles in the course of the war- Jutland being the most famous.

However, this war set a lot of elements that would make the later Battle of the Atlantic in the second war so bloody for all concerned.

Submarines had been around for a long period and used in war for about half a century. They were more submersibles at this point, spending most of their time on the surface.

Initially the Germans adopted the Prize Rules of the period (specifically from the two Hague Conventions)- challenging merchant ships, allowing the crew to get to a place of safety, which didn't count lifeboats, then sinking the ship. A British Admiral, John Fisher, worried about the Germans going to unrestricted submarine warfare- as a sub could not take the crew of a merchant ship. Churchill, then thought that a civilised nation would never do it.

Fisher was right- Germany did go unrestricted, in response to an effective Allied blockade of Germany. During this process it sunk the Lusitania- that, other attacks and the later Zimmermann telegram, brought the US into the war, leading to Germany's defeat.

For both sides, submarines were noisy, dirty and cramped. Being sunk could lead to a highly unpleasant death.

Some of the U-Boat commanders committed atrocities (others didn't) and there was considerable public hatred of them in the Allied countries.

Depth charges and sonar appeared in this war, to be perfected later.

Being on board a sinking ship, flooding rapidly, while possibly injured, must be an awful way to die. Knowing also that your family won't have a real grave to go to either. Those who served in the naval and merchant ships in both wars were truly brave men and women.

08 November 2008

Remembrance: Conscientious Objection

The First World had conscription on nearly all sides after willing volunteers ran out.

However, for some people, the whole idea of war was wrong. They refused to fight in the war, preferring to go to prison rather than compromise their beliefs.

Some played a valuable part in helping the wounded in No Man's Land. Others refused to take part in that, arguing they would be helping to prolong the war by fixing people up.

It sometimes takes more courage not to fight than it does to fight. If I had been around at the time, I suspect I probably would have gone to war. I was briefly a pacifist, but lost that a long time.

Sadly, it is sometimes necessary to go to war- it will be until the Second Coming. But I respect those who disagree provided they are genuine about it and not biased in who they criticise.

Don't buy white poppies- the money does not go to help those who have been injured. If you don't want to wear a poppy for whatever reason, just put a quid in the poppy box. It still helps people.

06 November 2008

Remembrance: The Eastern Front

One of the most important impacts of the First World War was the end of the Tsarist regime and the Bolshevik popularly-supported coup that led to the creation of the USSR- with all the historical implications that had.

Arguably, Russia's reaction to Austria's threats to Serbia was a major reason why war broke out in August 1914. "Slavs united" has been a force in Russian policy for quite a while (Kosova in 1999 for example).

Unlike the Western Front, the Eastern Front was a war of movement, with advances and retreat, going over much the same ground as in the Second World War.

Russia lost this part of the war- mainly because it was badly organised. Nicholas II (and later the Provisional Government) ended up between a rock and hard place with regards to continuing the war. Neither decision would improve things- a true dilemma.

Ultimately the Bolsheviks ended the war, the Germans moved their troops and launched their offensive- but the Americans were there. The decision of the Provisional Government to continue the war was, probably, the right one.

But, to honest, it shouldn't have had to be made. The Tsarist regime should have reformed earlier. Their error was to all our cost.

04 November 2008

Remembrance: The Air War

The First World War, although not quite the first conflict to involve the use of air power (that occurred a couple of years earlier), was certainly the first big one.

One does recall Blackadder and the Twenty-Minuters at this point (Blackadder Goes Forth is a brilliant series), but there were elements to this. For a start, pilots didn't have parachutes and there were no ejector seats.

Most of the inherent concepts of air combat were initially drawn up in that war- the Dicta Boelcke, for example.

The Air War saw German Zeppelins bombing London and other cities in the UK- civilians were no longer safe just be being far away from the front-line. An impact of this that none of us like.

To my American readers

Don't forget to go vote today. People sacrificed everything to ensure that you could.

Every vote will have an impact on the elections today.

(NB An analysis post will not be put up until the weekend at least).

03 November 2008

Remembrance: The Western Front

This is the second post in my short series on the First World War.

The Western Front is the most memorable part of the Great War- primarily for the blood, mud and stupidity.

Spending a good couple of weeks (units were rotated, if I recall correctly) in a muddy trench with frequent shelling, rats and gangrene for company must have been an awful experience. It's a credit to the British soldiers that they didn't generally mutiny when told to go back.

For one who has never seen combat, I can't pretend to begin to understand what it's like to charge a machine-gun post. It's not something I can imagine doing myself, but who knows- I might well have gone on autopilot when the whistles blew. It's certainly not rational to charge towards someone with a machine-gun, but rationality goes out of the window in a war.

It seems from the records that these attacks were "successful" at least for a little while- a machine-gunner can only gun down so many people before he/she is overwhelmed by numbers.

As a person who hates mud and the cold, I don't think I'd cope in the trenches. I'm glad that it's unlikely I'll ever have to face that.

For your clean tomorrow, they gave their dirty today.

02 November 2008

Remembrance: The Origins Of The First World War

In the lead-up to the 90th anniversary of the Armistice, I thought I'd make a few posts on the subject of "the war to end all wars".

A while back I read a book by Barbara Tuchman called The Guns of August. The argument of the book was that the military plans of the powers of Europe went into autopilot and no-one was able to stop the process because of fears of the other side. A very interesting book- I recommend it.

The trigger that led to this global conflict was of course the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, but there was already tensions ongoing in Europe at that time.

In particular there was an arms race between Great Britain and Germany, particularly in the naval front. Now, while guns don't kill people on their own, they can serve to turn a tense situation into a full-blown fight. Perhaps this should have been spotted.

Germany, definitely not a democracy as we would use the term today at that point in history, should not take all the blame for starting the war. It should take some though- it didn't need to invade Belgium or attack France at that point. The conduct of German troops in Belgium, although exaggerated by Allied propaganda was pretty bad at times.

I don't think Austria needed to start a war with Serbia (did they have evidence Serbia was involved? I don't think they did).

Really, the tragedy of the First World War is that it really shouldn't have happened. The end of the First made the Second almost inevitable.

The US Election

It's two days to go until the US Presidential Election, so I'd better post my thoughts here.

I think Obama, bar the polls being massively wrong (possible, but unlikely) or a game-changing event in the next two days (unlikely), is going to be the first black President of the United States. He'll win by a fair margin, at least 7 points in the popular vote and getting at least 300 electoral college votes.

McCain has ultimately suffered from being the candidate of a party that just got hit by a massive economic crisis, led by an unpopular President who has generally been rather incompetent. His own campaign hasn't really helped things (Palin should have been better prepared for her Veep candidacy role, for example).

While I would welcome an Obama victory, I cannot escape some nagging doubts about the man.

Firstly, his lack of experience- four years at national level. Kennedy had twelve, for comparative purposes.
Secondly, his willingness to distort McCain's voting record and views for his own campaign purposes, which does not seem to me to indicate a new style of politics.

Thirdly, some aspects of his policies concern me. I don't think a tax increase on the rich during a recession is a good idea. It should be pointed out that rich people's earnings don't all disappear into a Caymans bank account. They buy food, drink, cars- all money that keeps the economy going.

Fourthly, I have this worry that Obama's going to turn out to be a sort of Jimmy Carter Mark II. Russia, China, Iran or someone else might decide that he's weak and try something that will have nasty consequences on the local level at least.

I hope I'm wrong.

28 October 2008

Hackett Thirty Years On: An Analysis Of 'The Third World War'

In 1978, General Sir John Hackett, along with some other high-level former military officers and diplomats, authored a best-selling book called The Third World War: August 1985, an account of a fictional World War Three between NATO and the USSR.

Written in the style of a history book done two years after the war, it is considered one of the classics of that particular sub-genre of military fiction, along with Tom Clancy and Larry Bond's Red Storm Rising.

Four years later, The Third World War: The Untold Story was published, revising the story to take into account major political changes

Although I am but a mere minnow to the mighty military mind that was Sir John Hackett, I felt, having recently read the book- and with the 25th anniversary of Exercise Able Archer 83 approaching, it might be interesting to muse on how said scenario would have played out in the light of what we know now.

Be advised that this article contains major spoilers for the two books. If you don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now.
The Scenario

In late July 1985, the Soviet Union, facing a loss of control in East Germany and Poland, invades Slovenia in order to stop the break up of Yugoslavia. There it comes into contact with US forces and, despite an attempt at a news blackout, footage of the fighting is broadcast.

On the morning of 4 August, Warsaw Pact forces invade West Germany, Norway, Austria and Italy.

After 11 days in which chemical weapons but not nuclear ones are used, NATO manages to stop the Soviet advance near Krefeld and starts moving them back. This only really occurs because of a crash rearmament program in which merchant ship hulls become escort carriers, UK civil defence improves considerably and money is saved by not creating Channel Four (you may snigger at that last one).

The Soviet leadership (well some of it) decide to try and force a negotiated peace by launching a single nuclear missile at the British city of Birmingham. The US and UK respond by firing four back at Minsk in the Byelorussian SSR, the result of that being the collapse of the Soviet Union in a violent manner.

There's also a war in Southern Africa, won by the apartheid regime. China invades Vietnam, the US bombs Cuba after misinterpreting an intercepted message but does not invade.

Revision of the scenario- ground rules

I'm going to keep the basics of the scenario the same for this. I'm assuming that the Soviet leadership was somewhat more invasion-minded than Andropov, Chernenko et. al appear to be (that said, the whole thing was a massive miscalculation on Moscow's part- most wars are miscalculations on someone's part). I also assume, as per the second book, that Reagan only serves a single term before being replaced by another Republican that isn't George Bush Sr.

I'm going to mainly explore the impacts of the post-1982 military technological developments that Hackett didn't know about and what we now know about the military capabilites of the two sides.

I'll take it each side at a time.


Hackett's team wrote their second book in 1982, just before the Falklands War occurred, with its resultant impact on military strategy and ideas. We'll assume the war happened, more or less as it actually occurred.

The Vulcan and a nice bit of propaganda

One of the most famous actions of the 1982 Falklands War were the BLACK BUCK raids, where RAF Vulcans, with a lot of tanker support, conducted the longest distance air strikes to that point in history against the Falkland Islands from Ascension Islands.

Considering the political impact that had on the Argentines at the time, I wouldn't be surprised if the British decided to do something similar against a target in the USSR, using the bomber Vulcans that would not have been retired in these circumstances. I'd go for Anadyr (major Soviet air base in the Far East), using a version of the Blue Steel missile modified for conventional use.

The US could provide some of the tanker support- as well as fighter support. This will be a tougher job than Port Stanley, that's for sure.

Definite advantage NATO.

Harriers and the use thereof

The Falklands War demonstrated the strong capability of the Harrier jump jet in air-to-air combat, where its lack of speed is not really an issue.

The Harrier force might have been used in the UK for point defence stuff, making the task of the Soviets harder there.

Advantage NATO.

The F-117 Nighthawk

The Stealth "Fighter" (of course it wasn't) was of course designed for use in a war in Europe.

It was more or less in service in the real world by 1985, albeit not publicly announced. The F-117 would have been used for some in-depth strikes, possibly the strike against the Polish rail junctions via Sweden and also others.

There would have been losses- the Soviets might have filled the sky with flak and SAMs, downing a few of the F-117s.

Advantage NATO.

The Tomahawk family

The scenario has ground-launched and submarine-launched cruise missiles limited in 1984, so while they would have played a role, it would not have been that much. While TLAMs are useful against hardened, fixed targets, it's harder against a tank column.

No change.


There is no way this could have been anything close to operational in 1985, no matter how much money was thrown at it. There is no way the attack on Birmingham could have been prevented- for a start, it took several minutes for NATO to realise what was going on.

No change.

The B-1B Lancer

This was starting to enter service in 1986. Assuming a rush on the programme, it would have been present, but in very limited numbers (about 25 or so, I'd guess). SACEUR would have kept them in the US for nuclear use, not releasing them at all.

No change.

The Warsaw Pact

We know now that the Warsaw Pact technology was somewhat less capable than the NATO estimates at the time (although the T-72 is still a very capable tank and the poor performance of Iraqi examples, being downgraded export ones with poorly trained crews, should not be taken as a guide to wider performance), although they still had the advantage of numbers to a fair degree.

However, there are certain platforms and changes that might have put the balance back to the Soviets a fair bit.

We're going to need some better "Fencers"

Hackett's team, not by their own fault, seem to have overestimated the range of the Su-24 "Fencer" and been wrong as to its intended use. The Su-24 would have been used in a battlefield support role, making the West Germany operations both harder and easier for NATO. Harder in that there's more troop support for the WP forces. Easier in that the UK bases don't get as much damage.

Net advantage to NATO.

Bringing Not So Sexy "Backfire"?

Hackett's team might have overestimated the range of the Tu-22M "Backfire" (they used a lower figure than the accepted estimate at the time, but one that some sources today claim, including Tupolev IIRC).

With the Su-24 doing battlefield duties and the Tu-16 somewhat antiquated, the "Backfire" would have got medium-range striking duties against the UK.

Less available striking forces mean less damage to the UK bases. Less range means less damage to the CAVALRY convoy.

What about the refuelling probes, I hear you ask? Sticking the probes back on the Tu-22M would have been done by the Soviets pretty quickly, arguably a year or two before the war (they'd make a propaganda reason for it) to get the crews proficient.

The Soviet tanker force, however, was rather poor and would have been attacked in large numbers (probably by F-15s or Tornado ADVs rushed into service).

Advantage NATO, but only a slim one, because of...

Su-27 and MiG-29

Both of these aircraft were in late stage development in RL 1985 and would have been rushed into service. Both are very capable fourth-generation fighters, which would have caused problems for everything bar the F-14, F-15 and F-16. I don't know the precise date that the helmet-mounted sight entered Soviet service, but if it's here at the time, the MiG-29 has a decisive advantage in a close-range fight with an F-16.

"Backfire" escort would have been a big role for them.

Advantage WP.

The "German Machine" in Germany

I don't think Hackett mentions the Su-25 "Frogfoot" in the second book (I've returned it to the library now), but it would have helped the Soviets a fair bit in the ground battle, even if it was not as good as the A-10.

Advantage WP.

Chicken "Kievs"

We now know that the "Kiev" class of aviation cruisers was designed for anti-submarine work near the Soviet Union, not for open ocean battles. We also know that the Yak-38 "Forger" was spectacularly poor.

The seven-or-so carriers available in this scenario would have been in the process of returning to friendly waters when the war began- but it depends on their locations as to their effect.

The loss to the Soviets from their poor carriers (the Tbilisi, to use the first name of the Admiral Kuznetsov, would not have been ready for another year or two at least, nor Ulyanovsk) is somewhat negated, but not much, from problems that the US carrier force hearding for the Arctic might have faced had the war lasted long enough for it to get there.

The Yak-141 "Freestyle" arrives too late for this scenario.

Advantage NATO.

To the "Victor III", the spoils

There's always a but in these scenarios- it comes in the form of the Schuhka and Schuhka-B classes, aka the "Victor III" and the "Akula".

These two new classes, thanks to a Soviet mole in the US Navy (John Walker), were considerably quiter than their predecessors. ASW people would have had major problems with them- especially the CAVALRY convoy.

Advantage WP.

Overall conclusions

All things considered, I'd say that the war would have been about the same length and still produced the same result.

SACEUR probably would have needed to release the B-52s anyway, although it might have been a day or two later than 15 August.

The rest of the scenario, including the Soviet decision to use an ICBM, would have occured around about the same time frame.

May we thank the Lord that Hackett's ideas were never tested for real and a Third World War did not occur.

I believe this is the longest post I've ever done on this blog by some margin. Your thoughts are welcome.

Edit- with thanks to Full Monty at the Armchair General Forums, for the F-117A suggestion.

Brilliant article on comparative aircraft carrier capabilities

For an amateur, this is brilliant. It would be good for a professional.

Kudos to planeman, that's for sure.

25 October 2008

You might as well face it, you're addicted to oil...

Oil exports, that is.

OPEC yesterday announced a cut in oil production, clearly aiming to increase prices.

Both candidates in the US elections want to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil. A thought that I had is what impact that has on the oil-exporting countries themselves.

According to the US Department of Energy, Saudi Arabia (one of those countries whose people at any rate don't like America very much- the government's purchase of US weaponry says different about them) relies on oil exports for about 40% of its Gross Domestic Product.

If the United States was to cut its oil use significantly over the next few years- and be joined by other countries around the world, Saudi and countries like it would suffer a considerable loss of government income.

This would lead to a decline in Saudi living standards- and an increase in terrorist support as people are unhappy with their government's social provision.

No country should depend on a commodity with a wildly fluctuating price as its main source of income.

Saudi Arabia and the Middle Eastern countries need to diversify their economies quickly- something we should be prepared to do.

23 October 2008

Osama bin Laden

Watching the US presidential debates (I've just completed the second), I notice Obama stating that the US needs to capture or kill Osama bin Laden ASAP.

While this would be a huge victory, I don't think that bin Laden is the be-all and end-all of Islamist terrorism.

Surely Islamism is an ideology, not a cult of personality. Wouldn't killing bin Laden just create another martyr or imprisoning him make the location of his captivity a terrorist target?

The nature of Al-Qaeda is a loose one and removing bin Laden would have little net impact on its overall capabilities.

This is not World War Two, where the suicide of Hitler led to the Nazi surrender eight days later. It's more like Soviet Communism, which was a system rather than a leader, not counting Stalin.

05 October 2008

Tottenham Hotspur

2 points in 6 games.

You've got to laugh- especially if you're a Hammers fan.

03 October 2008

A Soviet version of 'Airwolf'?

My blog sub-title says "Gaming, Politics and Telly". The telly's been a bit absent from here recently, so I might as well rectify it with this bit of random thinking.

Airwolf was a TV programme about a supersonic helicopter (yeah, I know the physics aren't too plausible, although there was a vague explanation...), broadcast from 1983 to 1987. Wikipedia has a page on it.

Being a guy who has quite an interest in the military equipment of the former USSR and its successor states, I wondered what a Soviet version of this rather cool looking chopper would be like.

We could go one of two ways on this- a development in response to the fielding of the helicopter, or a programme developed at the same time (late 1970s, early 1980s).

I'll go for the latter (hey, Firefox is a cool movie too) and assume similar mission aims.


Airwolf was a converted Bell 222. The USSR would have to use a civilian helicopter in order to fulfil the "wolf in sheep's clothing principle" of things.

The Mi-8 "Hip", while a very common helicopter, suffers from a major drawback- it's too big. It's a medium transport helicopter with a passenger capacity of about 30 people. An airborne command post, maybe, but not something for the Airwolf role.

I think they would go for the Mi-2 "Hoplite". This was produced exclusively in Poland, but that's not an issue for a conversion job in the centre of Soviet Russia. (In Soviet Russia, helicopter converts you! ;))


If we were to use direct counterparts, the air-to-air stuff would be done by Strela/SA-7s. That said, the SA-7 isn't too brilliant (neither is the Redeye), so the Soviets might go for the R-60/AA-8 "Aphid" AAMs.

Bullpup equivalent would be the Kh-23/AS-7 "Kerry". I don't know quite how good this is. The Kh-25/AS-10 "Karen" might be better.

Cannons- I don't know too much about that.


Pilots could be found from the helicopter pilots who participated in the Soviet war in Afghanistan. They'd have experience in dealing with low-level SAM and AAA fire. A three-person crew would be enough.


Reshuffle Thoughts

Lord Mandelson? Lord Mandelson?

I don't think satire is quite dead, but it's just suffered a gunshot wound...

Expect a longer post soon- on a rather different subject.

29 September 2008

Buy Credit Crunch- Now With Two Banks!

Suspect I'm not the first to make cereal jokes in relation to the current situation.

The FTSE 100 has closed below 5,000 for the first time since I don't recall when. For me, that's the indicator that this has gone beyond bad and is now into very bad.

When this is over (it'll have to be at some point), I guess we're going to be citing this as one of the major failures of the Bush administration and making sure something like this never happens again.

Stupid, stupid banks.

I can't honestly see us winning the next election at the present time, Brown or no Brown.

24 September 2008

Gordon Brown is Ruth-less

So, Ruth Kelly is resigning as Transport Secretary, using the old "spend more time with her family" reason.

Probably is the case, but the timing is a tad inconvenient for Gordon.

Next week, Dave gets his conference. Tell me, Mr. Cameron, what are you going to cut to please big business?

21 September 2008

International Day of Prayer For Peace

Today is the International Day of Prayer for Peace, so I thought I'd weigh in on a particular area area that particularly needs some peace right now- the Middle East.

Israel is getting a new Prime Minister, who may change things there. I hope.

I think there are two things that needs to happen-
  • The Israelis need to alter their counter-terrorism strategy radically so that they do not create more terrorists than the ones they remove.
  • The Palestinians need to show willingness to accept Israel's existence (Hamas) and make serious effort at stopping this terrorism.
With regards to the former, the Palestinians may well be, in some regards, the victims, but that does not excuse their actions or lack thereof on some issues.

Israel also should not be using past suffering as an excuse for its own actions. While they are certainly entitled to a state, they still have to keep to the rules of civilised politics.

I have some concerns over the viability of a Palestinian state- especially one cut in twain by Israel. Like Weimar Germany, this tends not to work too well. Perhaps someone ought to build an oil pipeline to the West Bank.

This has lasted 60 years. Let's ensure it doesn't last 60 more. People are going to need to compromise.

Thoughts are welcome.

06 September 2008

Thoughts on the US election

With Labor Day on Monday, the US Presidential Election campaign will kick into an even higher gear than it has previously.

I think this process goes on for far too long. It ought to be shortened, which would help in terms of turnout and avoidance of boredom.

Perhaps I haven't been following this enough, but the partisan rancour of 2004 is somewhat reduced. Clearly the lack of George Bush is a factor there. Notice, however, how the Democrats are trying to tie McCain in with Bush by saying that he votes with him 90% of the time.

This is a bit of a stupid figure. A lot of votes in Congress are on largely uncontentious subjects, like congratulating Olympic medallists, confirming appointments (OK, that's sometimes contentious) and adjournment stuff.

I don't know, really, why members of Congress have to be physically present to vote these days. Sure, they should turn up every so often, but with the power of modern telecommunications, remote voting can't be too hard to do.

My major concern with Obama is his lack of experience. He will have, in January 2009, four years in a national level (Senator, Governor, Vice-President) role. For those citing Palin, she's not running for President- and Governor has a better skill set than a first-term Senator. I'll get on to McCain's health in a bit.

His policies seem generally (I say generally) good, but his attitude seems wrong. For those making Tony Blair comparisons, it grates after 10 years. He seems a little, well, slick.

It may sound like heresy to some, but JFK wasn't as good as some make out. Bay of Pigs for example, was a decision made on grounds of popularity and look what happened. His morals leave something to be desired too...

I don't like either candidate distorting the viewpoints and statements of the other. McCain on tax policy and Obama on the 100 years in Iraq thing. Both are better than this.

McCain has experience, but being a war hero does not qualify you to be president. That said, the Green Bay Packers thing in Vietnam (giving the names of a football team to interrogators as those of other pilots), great.

Biden's a good Vice-Presidental candidate, I give you that. Apart from the Neil Kinnock thing- and the gaffes.

Palin's an interesting choice. The college guys might consider voting Republican- which is all I'm saying on that. Her views are another issue, although I oppose abortion for social reasons. The actions of her family are ultimately irrelevant. They also prove that neither abstinence or safe-sex sex education work just as they are.

McCain's health. He's 72 and statistically has a 1/3 chance of dying within eight years. He may die, he may not. That's an argument, however, for rapidly training Palin as a potential POTUS, not voting against him.

I'll back Obama, as a social democrat does, but I'm not expecting miracles from him.

23 August 2008

Joseph Biden

So, Joe Diden, a Senator from Delaware will be Barack Obama's running mate.

I don't really know much about Biden, except that he plagiarised Neil Kinnock one time. I understand he's been in the Senate for 30 years and been Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

I also understand he's gaffe-prone. Wonder if he'll make any gaffes. Probably.

While Biden may provide some foreign policy experience, it doesn't change the fundamental issue- Biden may have been in Congress for three decades, but Obama has only been there for three years. He remains inexperienced.

17 August 2008

The Olympic Games

I don't believe it. We're actually doing well at a sport event.

Congratulations to all our competitors.

16 August 2008


Following up to my post on Russia, this is one on Georgia.

Georgia has not had a nice history. Under Russian rule, St. Petersburg (Moscow wasn't the capital before 1917) tried to wipe out the Georgian language. Stalin, who was of course Georgian, wasn't much better.

The Rose Revolution in 2003 was one of the best things to happen to Georgia. However, Saakashvili's re-election appears to have been dodgy. He probably would have won a run-off, but we'll never know.

Georgia, while slightly dodgy, is far less dodgy than Russia.

The offensive in South Ossetia may well have been provoked by Russia, but I can't help thinking that Georgian intelligence clearly missed something. With reports that Saakashvili was warned not to launch the attack by Western allies, it may well have been a blunder.

I don't know about artillery uses. I suspect there have been Georgian atrocities, but not to the extent the Russians claim. Constantly stating you're stopping fighting then continuing seems a bit dodgy. Again, not fully clear on this.

I'd like to know whether opposition to this conflict has been expressed in Tbilisi by anyone. Of course, there was martial law.

09 August 2008


Reports from South Ossetia are still conflicting and clearly one or both sides is being more than economical with the truth as to what is going on, as well as how it started.

I'm going to use this particular post to discuss Russia. A later one will cover Georgia and I might do a third on South Ossetia.

The B
olshevik popular coup (it's not a revolution) of November 1917 was the worst thing to happen to Russia in its history. It has brought Russia little but misery. What benefits the Communist regime brought to the USSR could have occured without and are outweighed by the millions of death.

I don't hate Russia. I don't hate Russians. In fact, I have Russian friends and I have a keen interest in the country.
Korobeiniki (the theme tune to Tetris) is one of my favourite tunes. On AJJE Games, one of my characters is of Russian descent and I don't play her as a caricature.

I detest their government, that's all. The Prime Minister of the world's second most powerful country is- get this-a former KGB agent. Yes, I know he wasn't in it for long and just did a brief stint in East Germany before resigning. However, joining the KGB takes either gross stupidity or a gross lack of morality. The organisation is rightly notorious and its predecessors are even worse.

Medvedev complains about the "missile shield", which isn't even aimed at him (look at a globe and you'll see). Yet his country is placing multiple warheads on the Topol-M missiles, constructing more Tu-160 "Blackjack" intercontinental bombers and constructing new SSBNs to replace the Kal'mar/"Delta III" class submarines. Isn't that a tad hypocritical?

(US hypocrisy on other issues is not for this post, BTW)

Seriously, is there a Havel or Walesa in Russia? Because it sorely needs one. It deserves much better than what it has at the moment.

08 August 2008

South Ossetia

I was going to do a post today on China and the Olympic Games, but I feel this is more important.

If you're not already aware, Russian forces have entered the breakaway province of South Ossetia in Georgia.

What's going on precisely is unclear. It's a bunch of statements from both sides (the Georgian President is on TV at the moment on BBC News 24), with the usual claims, counter-claims and propaganda, at the moment. Independent journalist reports are few yet.

I have Georgian and Russian friends. I hope and pray for their safety.

07 August 2008

Censor, censor, censor...

The Dark Knight is setting box office records the world over- and newspaper columnists in the UK at edge.

The issue is the movie's rating from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)- 12A, which allows those under 12 to watch it with their parents present. The feeling among them is that this movie warrants a 15 rating (so no-one under 15 can be admitted or buy the DVD).

I agree- this should be a 15. There's a lot of violence in this movie and a certain character is truely disturbing. Not one I'd take any young kids of mine (if I had any) to see.

Cue the usual outcry at the BBFC for not protecting children from the "purveyors of filth", etc. I see mediawatch-UK (set up by the late Mary Whitehouse) have commented on it.

This won't be the first bad call the BBFC has made- or its last. I'd like to cite The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, which contains a background striptease in one scene that goes to pastie-breast level (with close-up), cleared as A (the PG-13 of that time), then recleared for PG when the ratings changed. John Trevelyan (head back when the C stood for Censors) was a rather subjective guy when it came to what got cut- apparently it involved the reaction in his groinal area.

You can get even more ridiculous- look up the Hays Code for examples.

All this said, I think there are a tad too many SCW (Scantily Clad Women) on TV these days. Does nearly every UK crime show have to feature topless strippers at some point?

Comments are welcome.

06 August 2008

This isn't X, this is pest control!

The papers today are running stories on the discovery that last year there were over 20,000 call outs for pest controllers in the NHS last year.

Apparently this is a sign that our hospitals are still dirty, Labour are rubbish etc, etc.

A typical silly season story that really needs some closer scrutiny:
  • How many cases were there last year?
  • Isn't this an indication that NHS staff are acting to get rid of infestations?
  • What are we counting? Wasps can easily get in through windows.
  • What was it like under the Tories, eh?

27 July 2008

Global Warming

This post may meander a little. I hope you don't mind.

I just watched Burn Up (BBC2). A two-part conspiracy thriller involving global warming, the late great Don S. Davis (who played General Hammond in Stargate SG-1) and a bunch of evil Americans who don't care about climate change. Mediocre really, with an overly emotive first part and perhaps an hour too long. Had some interesting facts though.

So, it's got me thinking about global warming and the solutions thereof. A few questions have come to mind.

Firstly, the completeness of the data. Of course, there's the ice floe things. How reliable are they? However, there's other areas. One cannot extrapolate for an entire planet from a small iceberg, at least I don't think so.

We've got a massive lack of data from the Sahara and places like that. The desert may well be expanding there, but what was it like in the past? European settlers arrived about 500 years ago and I'm not sure what the Yoruba (or the other tribes) were like in the map-making field. Can anyone help?

One that stands out. The highest recorded temperature in Earth history was in El Azizia, Libya, recorded at 58 degrees Celsius (136 degrees Fahrenheit). In 1922. None of the individual continent records is after 1962. Since the global temperature is increasing and that, apparently, would result in more extremes of climate, why have these records not been broken? Surely, we have the technology and we'd note any such records broken.

The reliable data only exists from 1850- 20 years into the Industrial Revolution. Back at this point, we have to rely on anecdotal evidence. Take a look at this graph. It seems that the historians don't agree with each by a small, but possibly signifcant margin. While the global temperature is certainly increasingly...

OK, water shortages. I understand the difference between salt water and fresh water, but surely solar-powered desalination plants aren't that built. Humanity can build the Magnitogorsk blast furnace, so can't it build desalination plants like that.

Nuclear works. 24/7, in a way that other stuff doesn't. Once we've fully sorted out the waste disposal problem (very big holes seem to be the best way to go), I think we need to increase it, although not too much. Solar and other stuff has its place. Maybe not wind farms. I don't like wind farms, unless you can make them into windmills. That's not a half-bad idea...

Kyoto's supposed to be this wonderful thing, but the number of states who have met their targets can apparently be counted on two hands. How does one monitor carbon emissions anyway? Surely a big forest fire would release a massive amount of C02 as well. It's an estimate, isn't it? Which leads me onto the massive fires created after the Tungska impact 100 years ago. That's got to have done something long term. Also Mount St Helens.

Biggest disaster of the 21st Century so far? The 2004 tsunami. Caused by an earthquake. Cyclone Nargis is only about half of that.

Biggest mass death of the 20th Century? World War Two.

I do think that Homo sapiens are a major cause of climate change, but I'd like to see the evidence.

Comments and answers to my questions are welcome. I have comment moderation on, but I'll let more or less anything reasonable through.

25 July 2008

Glasgow East

I'm not going to deny it, that was an awful result. Labour should not be losing seats like that full stop.

The incomparable Alun Ephraim (who has blogging privileges here) describes things in more depth in this thread. Join the site too, it's fun.

Al is right about the Scottish Labour Party. We've dominated the place so long, we've got fat and lazy. This will not do.

The biggest blow is in the psychological field. I'd say that the in-fighting and calls for Brown to resign will increase, which is not a good thing. Especially as it is now silly season (considering this warm weather, expect more bikini-clad students to grace certain newspapers).

Let's hold our horses for a while- at least until after Conference.

Edit- Al currently goes by the username "Sibboleth" on that site.

24 July 2008

ITV can't do a thing right at the moment

On 26 March 2005, Doctor Who began its revival on BBC1. Since then, ITV have only managed to beat the ratings for that most excellent show with one thing- the final of Britain's Got Talent.

I can't remember a seriously good new ITV show in the last few years. Even BGT is something you watch with liberal use of the fast-forward button. Maybe Michael Grade ought to realise that rubbish game shows are not the way to go.

If you're going to do a game show- bring back Interceptor.

23 July 2008

Return of the blog

I've decided to start blogging here. It's been a number of months since I've been here (less than I thought though).

Recently came back from a holiday in New York and Chicago. I have some advice for the New York Subway people- signpost your stations better.

Chicago is a far nicer city than New York, although apparently there were a lot of shootings recently. I was in the downtown area, so I missed those. Saw some awful French circus thing at Navy Pier when I was there. Human carillon or something like that.

I'll be posting as and when. Expect comments on Obama, Chip Man (as I call McCain), life in Blighty and other interesting things.

A quick plug. AJJE Games. RP site I've been on for a few years. Registration required, but you can see parts of each main area.