Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Ubuntu Update

The switch to Ubuntu has gone well, though not perfect!

I have tried out different versions (Kubuntu) but have come back to Ubuntu, preferring it's look and feel.

My main issues with the Ubuntu operating system is that I miss not being able to sync my mobile phone contacts and calendar with my computer. Not an essential, but it is something one would expect. There are a number of options to get this to work but I can not seem to get them too. Then there are some which are just over my head!

Other then that all has gone well and I have yet to experience a crash or major fault. Yes, my Internet browser has "frozen" on a few occasions but once restarted I have been able to restore the session, thus not losing any work. Evolution also seems to refuse to send email via my Gmail account! Yes, I have tried ALL the forums, still no luck. Receives without a problem. Hopefully this will be soon fixed.

So I am still being impressed by how versatile the OS is and I am learning something new everyday. Not having to worry about virus's or other little nasties is also a huge benefit. With the added benefit of saving even more €'s.

The release of the next Ubuntu version (Gutsy Gibbon, in October) will promise even more advances that windows users will be lucky to see before a Vista replacement and the purchase of top-of-the-line computers.

For those wondering these are the main programmes I run:
Internet Browser: Swiftfox
Email/Contacts/Calendar: Evolution
Music Player: Amarok
CD Ripper: Sound Juicer
DVD Player: Totem
Office Applications: Openoffice.org suite
Security: ClamAV & Firestarter
Instant Messenger: GAIM

Thanks to the Synaptic Package Manager you have a MASSIVE selection of programmes to choose from. All free to download and use, no catch. So you can tailor your OS to your needs/wants without spending a fortune on stuff you might not like or leaving your details all over the web!

Oh...it also looks ice cold!

Get Geared

My motorcycle gear is in the process of being replaced, so over the coming few weeks my new gear should be arriving and then I will start giving you all a review of the stuff over however long it lasts! With the summer (what summer?) almost gone the weather will only start getting worse from now on. That and in a few weeks I will be starting a whole new commute as I return to University as a mature student!

I also hope to include pictures of the gear on my "Flickr" page, you will find the link on the left hand side of this page. Hopefully you will find some of this usefull or even give you a taste of other manufacturers gear.

Now when does that first delivery arrive?

Monday, 20 August 2007

Red Dawn

Is that a bear I see on the sea? Might not be as crazy as it sounds. The Russian Navy has announced that it will be completely overhauling itself, or as Commander of the Russian Navy Vladimir Masorin said “that the state pays much more attention to its Navy”.

What does this mean? Well, the intention is that within 20-30 years the Russian Navy should have two aircraft carrier strike groups, each with 3 aircraft carriers so that "One ship will be in the sea, the second will be ready to replace it and the third will be at the base", the Commander explained. Each ship is expected to carry about 30 aircraft and approx 50,000 tonnes.

Russia is not intending on matching the US Navy in carrier strength, it has much different requirements. So we see the construction of new naval base on the Pacific on the Kamchatka Peninsula for surface vessels, SSN and SSBN facilities. It is due to be open by the end of 2010 and cost an estimated US $350 million. Together with new a base at Novorossisk for the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) complete by 2012.

At the end of June we saw the test-firing of a new generation of SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile) from one of the three surviving Typhoon Class SSBN. These missiles will be fitted to the new Borey Class SSBN. The test missile is reported to have successfully struck it's target some 6,000km away.

Russia has been using Cold War tactics and flying long-range bombers into NATO airspace. Last month RAF Tornadoes intercepted two Russian bombers off Scotland, while in recent weeks aircraft have been reported flying near to US Airspace.

All this is hot on the heels of Russia's stated claim on the hydro-carbon reserves under the Arctic shelf, never mind that Russia has oil reserves second only to Saudi Arabia. Canada is contesting Russia's claim and has announced they will build at least two new naval bases in the North of Canada to back up their claim. Of course the USA will throw their hat in, but have more pressing issues at the moment. Though Canada's claim may be sincere, Russia is not known for backing down, so maybe a more pragmatic approach should be considered!

Russia is still also very annoyed over the construction of the US Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) system on their doorstep. Accordingly they have pulled out of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which set a limit on conventional forces on the European continent. This will allow Russia to build up it's armed forces. Oh, let's not forget, they also said that they will re-target its nuclear tipped ballistic missiles on Western cities once the US ABM goes on-line in several years. Down to Lidl to buy our NBCR (Nuclear Biological Chemical Radiological) suits then!

Well, if you have children I would suggest they take English, Russian, Hindi/Urdu and Mandarin Chinese. They should be well-prepared for the future world order.

“Peace - In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.”
-The Devils Dictionary 1911

Saturday, 18 August 2007

One Night Alone

So it was just after midnight as I walked out into the warm air of Greenwich...well the air felt warm, it may have just been me still on a high. Once again I had been lucky enough to spend a night with probably the major role model of my youth...Prince.

If you have not heard, he has set up shop in London's O2 (formally The Millennium Dome) for 21 nights. His only European dates this year. In fact, he intends to take time off for "Bible Studies" once this is over. Though just what he considers time off is a whole other matter!

The concert kicked off around 2050 and was all done at around 2300. He provided the audience with a brief taste of almost 30 years of hits, with tunes from 1978 to 2007! This did feel like a "greatest hits" tour and for all of those in the crowd he delivered. Treating us to music the way it should be heard and presented. Again, for most he gave them the hits they wanted and a show only he could put on.

I liked it...maybe that is the problem...I just liked it. I knew what I was going to see, a chance to see all those tunes that I play over and over again, but live, by the artist himself. I was 9 when I got my first Prince album and never looked back...neither did he though. He made music on the cutting edge and was rewarded and suffered accordingly. Books have been written on this so I will not delve any deeper. At one stage he asked the audience would they like to hear something new or old? I was probably the only person to say new!

You see, walking away from that concert it really struck me how things have changed. Prince the pervert is gone, seemingly replaced by Prince the preacher! Gone is the rawness, hearing "TMBGITW" followed by "Pussy Control" and "Orgasm" while he changes suits! If the above means nothing to you then maybe you are the lucky ones. Instead you will maybe hear the clean version of "Days of Wild", but maybe never realise the gritty original that spawned it. I knew the words to almost every song that was played...10 years ago that would not have happened!

If you get a chance to see this man live, GO! I insist, we all have memories associated with his tunes. The show is great, the band is perfect, the dancers sexy and singers superb! Prince...well, he is the Artist!

But spare a thought for those of us who come out and stand in the still night air, those words we are saying over and over again are not song lyrics, and our eyes are glazed over for good reason...

Prince is dead...Long Live Prince...

(All the above is thanks to time & effort of one very special person, she knows who she is!)

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

On The Box

The Enemies Of Reason, Part 1

Monday, August 13th, 8pm, Ch 4

I believe the second part will be shown the following Monday (20th August). This has been made by the same people that did "The Root Of All Evil" and is again presented by Richard Dawkins.

The truth is out there.

Back On The Block

Just back from a brief trip to where I spent most summers growing up. Staying with family and generally having a relaxing and fun time. It was also my first opportunity to drive on the roads in the UK for some time. Almost all my previous trips over the last few years there was no cause, but I was lucky (unlucky?) enough to get some solo time on a motorcycle.

I really was taken back at how much things have changed on the roads. The only time I saw police was for a parade going through the town on Sunday, but out on the roads...speed camera's of various flavours seemed to be on every corner. It was unbelievable. The amount of money that must have been invested to undertake such a thorough saturation on the roads must be ridiculous. Money that should be going into traffic police, training schemes for bad drivers, better roads...the list is endless.

Of course the counter argument is that they make the roads safer and the money they raise is...well I have not seen were all that money goes, maybe I should consider a freedom of information act request? Safety? I am not sure, in many areas speed cameras have led to road fatalities going up, in one county by 100%! Imagine that. If a drug manufacturer brought out a drug and there was a 100% increase in patients dying it would be off the market in a second.

Also, more often then not, you would see people staring, not just glimpsing, but staring at their speedometer as they went through towns trying to watch their limit. Is there any wonder that the minimal reduction of road fatalities over the last 5 years has flattened out. The building of new cameras and introduction of more advanced units just will not bring down road accidents and deaths any further, just catch more tax paying citizens.

There is the ironic situation that if the majority of us were less speed inclined then the camera's would not be able to pay for themselves...funny how we are now seeing more and more special speed limits in some very unusual places. Forget the 20mph in a town, 40mph on a dual carriage way, fully lighted and with traffic lights at the end! What is going on? If the driver test standards are so low that any idiot can get on the road maybe the government should be trying to prevent rather then cure?

Anyone serious about making roads safer and reducing fatalities knows that road engineering is the key. Not “quick-fix” cameras. Roads need to be improved vastly. A country (if not European) wide introduction of genuine road classification and scoring. With top scores being reserved for the best and latest techniques. If name and shame techniques is good enough for the government to use against citizens, then they can have a taste of their own medicine. That way traveling from one country to another will allow the driver/rider a reasonable expectation of what to expect. I was genuinely surprised to be riding in the Liverpool area and constantly finding road quality less then my country road in Ireland.

Government needs to stop thinking about how to get more money out of us, but to start trying to make out lives better. We elect representatives, not shareholders!

Better Late Then Never (Original Posting 29th July 2007)

On 25th July 2007 the UK government announced they are providing funding for the purchase of 2 new aircraft carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which are expected to launch in 2012 and 2015 respectively, with in service dates of 2014 and 2016.

The new design, refered to as CVF (or Aircraft Carrier Future) will displace approx 65,000T and have an overall length of 284m. It will be conventionally powered, though the power plant has yet to be decided. This will make them the largest vessels ever operated by the Royal Navy and the largest aircraft carriers in Europe. The French Charles de Gaulle nuclear powered carrier currenty holding that title. On a global scale, the USA CVN's and Russia's own Admiral Kuznetsov being larger.

The vessel will be built with a ski-jump forward and should carry up to 36 of the new F-35B JSF. The “B” version being the Short Take Off & Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the design which is being purchased by the US Marine's, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to replace the Harrier. The vessels are being designed in such a way that in the future the ski-jump can be removed and catapults installed (probably the upcoming magnetic type in the next US Navy's CV(X) design) giving the vessel the ability to operate conventinal take off and landing aircraft (CTOL). The size of the flight deck (some four acres) will allow for a standard landing strip to be incorporated. The size also allows for larger aircraft to be operated, since the vessels will have a 40-50 year life, this is an obvious requirement.

The design differ's from standard carriers since it has a “split-island”. An Island forward for navigation and an Island aft for air traffic control. The aircraft on board will be capable of up to 110 sortie's per 24 hour period, including night operations. With a maximim launch rate of 24 aircraft in 15mins and the ability to recover 24 aircraft in 24mins. There is a requirement for an Airborne Early Waring (AEW) aircraft but no design has been picked yet.

The contract signed is for a value of £3.8 billion and up to 10,000 jobs are to be created. Also of note is that there are no ship yards in the UK capable of dry-docking these vessels, with the exception of Harland & Wolfe in Belfast, the largest dry dock in the world. This issue is yet to be addressed. A naval vessel spends only about 40% of it's life at sea it would seem prudent to come to a decision sooner rather then later.

With the UK's armed forces being woefully under funded and over stretched one must question has the RN the ability to support these vessels? With a fighting navy of less then 27 ships (with only 9 available for service at any one time) this new announcement, though very welcome, seems to lack any sort of overall long-term vision. With the rest of the world developing naval forces to punch well above their weight, or strategic requirements, particularly in Asia, Europe's navies are lacking.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict, it took a naval force of 29 warships (of which several were damaged/destroyed) to retake a few small islands. There is no doubt the UK's armed forces would try if a similar conflict arose, but at what cost?

Further reading:

  • http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/cvf/
  • http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/cvf.htm

Is That You? (Original Posting 27th July 2007)

If you get your hands on this weeks MCN (Motorcycle News) newspaper (Wednesday July 25th, 2007) you will find I have been printed in the letter section.

For anyone who is counting that is the second time this year.

Keep the rubber side now!

It Was On My List... (Original Posting 24th July 2007)

At long last, you will now be able to view the photos I took at the Birmingham NEC Motorcycle and Scooter Show 2006. With the next show on 23rd November until 2nd December this should give you a reason to get a ticket.

I also included the photo's I took at Mondello Park in June at the British Superbikes Round. You will notice that these photo's are not the best, my fault, picked a great spot to watch the racing but it was an awful place to take photo's. Hopefully next year you will get a better selection.

At the very least check out the NEC photo's...if you do not already have a bike you should want one by time you are finished looking through them.

Enjoy, http://www.flickr.com/photos/victor9098/

A Taste of Ubuntu (Original Posting 22nd July 2007)

At the start of last week the CD-ROM I had been waiting for came through the letter box, Ubuntu 7.04. Now I had promised myself not to get too excited...just put it on the shelf and wait until I can get my hands on a cheap laptop to run it on.

We must have it...our Precious...

Later that evening I popped the CD into my laptop, just to run the Live CD. Basically this allows you to dip your feet and get the "feel" of the OS, while also allowing you to see any potential conflicts. I had two straight away, both my modems. So a quick Google and solutions were found for both. But I took out the CD and just said no...not yet.

Kill the dirty, smelly hobbit...

The next day as I watched my OS "blue screen of death" and counted the dump process a bolt of lightening hit me (or was it a whiff of Ubuntu?), "this is why I ordered the damn thing!". So in went the CD, booted up into the Live CD and hit "Install". About 25-30mins later my previous OS was gone...or so I hoped. You see I was raised with the Graphical User Interface (GUI)...or point and click...the last time I inputted a line of code was when I had my C64! So after realising that I had not a clue of how to install the modem fixes I had to dig out my windows back up, reinstall, go onto the web, the GREAT people in the Ubuntu forums guided me through the process, reinstall Ubuntu and 3 hours later I had written (probably Ver 9999.9) my first config file and then it was "Welcome to the world of tomorrow"!

My Precious...it is just us now...My Precious...

So here I am, my first blog post with my new OS. Yes, some teething pains. But that is mainly due to not understanding fully how the system works (me man...no need instruction manual!?). Average and new user should easily learn it though. All the software is here, you just get it differently. The great thing is, as I have seen through the forums, you can make this look and feel however you want. To a degree that you would never have imagined (there are even Christian, Muslim and Satanic versions of Ubuntu!).

The Ubuntu community...where do I begin? Let me put it like this, you could compare them against the other OS communities with this, "When other Generals make mistakes their armies are beaten; when I get into a hole, my men pull me out of it" -The Duke of Wellington after Waterloo

I will never be a poster boy for Ubuntu, I do not want to write pages of code tweaking the system, but you will find that somebody has already done what you are wishing for and then made it 10 times better! I just want an OS that just works. I look forward to telling people all about my new OS and hopefully getting them to try. Let's face it, for the price you just simply can not complain...what is the cost? FREE! Yip, you just spend time on it and you will find yourself having much more of that. My boot up has gone from 8-9mins to 30-40secs! That and I have yet to experience a "crash".

Yes, tweaking is required. Not just of the system, but you must also recalibrate your mind. Once you start getting used to it you start realizing, "this makes sense". Or put a better way, open-source is for the open-minded. With that attitude the limits of the OS will be defined by you.

You never know...I might make poster boy yet!

Are Speed Cameras Robocop? (Original Posting 17th July 2007)

The EU courts have ruled that, in the UK at least, drivers of vehicles DO NOT have the right to silence. Since driving a vehicle is considered so dangerous, the right of silence is waived...but If I rob a bank with an AK47, maybe even shoot a few people, I have the right to silence!? One must be left wondering if they just want to be seen to be listening and acting in the citizens interests. While actually doing the governments bidding, speed camera's have proven to be an excellent source of revenue.

Can a speed camera determine if a crime was committed? A crime that warrants points on your licence, fines, imprisonment & loss of livelihood. The most advanced computers in the world can only estimate what the weather might do. Is this the sort of technology that finds itself inside a speed camera? Does a speed camera have sensors to take weather conditions, road surface, traffic volume (pedestrian/cyclist/vehicle), the drivers condition, who is driving and so on, then take all this information and calculate if a crime was committed that warranted a penalty, then what that penalty would be?? If I rob a bank I must go through the justice system and I might even receive no punishment depending on the circumstances. Yet the amount of man hours and legal training to go through that process and arrive at a decision is completely ignored in respect to speed cameras.

Is it enough to be just travelling over the speeding limit? In some cases yes and in others no. That is the truth of it. No liberal minded citizen can claim otherwise. That is why the justice system exists, not to print out speeding "invoices" but to give the citizen, presumed innocent, an opportunity to defend their actions. Then to be judged by his peers with all the available information being taken into account. The speed camera might be able to add to this process but it should not replace it.

Speed camera's are here to stay, but the role they fill is wrong. The person issuing penalties and warning at the side of the road should be a fully trained and experienced police officer, no matter how questionable their attitude can be at times no speed camera can out perform them. What surprises me the most is that the police officers (and unions) are happy to watch experience get replaced by expedience at the cost of the police forces reputation and image. Yes, they fall back on the terrorist threat reason...but should traffic officers be hunting terrorists or the intelligence services? The UK has been threatened in this manner before and they never had speed camera's then. The cars that ended up in London city centre loaded with explosives were detected by an ambulance crew that thought it looked dodgy, the second had been towed away for parking violation! Is this not evidence alone that more "boots on the ground" will always out-perform a NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) in the post?

The courts may claim that we do not have the right to silence, but as a citizen we always have the right to be heard, especially when one of the key aspects of the justice system is being eroded. What we really should start asking and looking for who is listening to us and who is acting on our behalf?

Round Zero (Original Posting 5th July 2007)

The letter from CAO got jammed through the letter box this morning. Not that I was waiting for the letter...I was on the CAO website at 0600hrs to check and accept my offer. Funny experience that. They ask you do you want to defer for 1 year (no thank you) then they ask you are you sure that you want to accept the offer (YES Damn it!). At least they make sure that you can not make mistakes.

Not that the last few weeks have been without their drama. At least one letter that has been sent out from the institutions have caused me a degree panic. Which once I chased up was told to “disregard”. I do not know what annoys me more, getting the letter or being told I was just a mistake? Either way it is all over now.

Oh wait, what is this A4 sized envelope? Great, another booklet of an application and then with the digging up of original documents and making photo-copies to prove that you are alive and then to give this book of scripture up as a sacrifice to those that control this modern world...the wonder that is the bureaucrat.

At least it is official...I am a “mature” student. What have I done? Better..what have they done? I am going to taint a whole generation of bright young things.

At least I have managed to get back onto the road. I might just be taking baby steps, but after the last few years...I feel like I am walking on the moon, and YES, this is one giant leap for me.

The Revolution has begun...

Is a Social Europe What Citizens Want? (Original Posting 3rd July 2007)

Guess what? We do! This is a new topic under current discussion within the EU. After attending the latest Forum on Europe meeting in Dublin Castle last Thursday (28th June) I got to hear all about what we citizens of Europe want. Or that seems to be the initial findings of this intensive debate that went on with the citizens of the EU during the early months of this year.

All 27 member states convened a “National Consultation”, which took the form of focus groups, and a number of citizens from each state spent 2 days covering various areas of EU policy. Some 60 Irish citizens took part here and similar representative samples from each other member state.

Now, the transcripts of the speakers remarks were not available on the day (a first since I have been attending these meetings), but I was assured on the day that they would become available over the next few weeks. So I am waiting. But I still felt uneasy as I listened to what was said.

In general, the EU has tended not to get involved in social policy within the member states, instead that was left to the respective national governments. It would seem now that on the basis of these consultations the EU may be looking for a mandate to start playing a larger role in our lives. Forget the constant stream of health & safety regulations, the high levels of corruption in Brussels, the mountains of bureaucracy, etc., etc., etc...no Brussels might be getting involved in our family lives!

We have all seen the TV advert and heard the immortal lines... “This is going to be great!”

Come the end I found myself shaking my head and saying, NO, the citizens do not want an EU more involved in their lives by choice. It is more a case of citizens frustrated by the failings of their own national governments looking for other “service providers”. In fact, one of the speakers (Mr Gerrit Rauws, Director of the King Baudouin Foundation Belgium) pointed this out in his closing remarks. With any hope this voice of caution might curb Brussels enthusiasm to get involved in micro-managing our lives.

A better option, in my humble opinion, is for the EU to continue, maybe expand, it's role as being an ombudsman over the national governments. Giving the citizens a genuine fighting chance and delivering fair rulings. This way the EU will be able to become a source of hope for the citizen. By trying to step in and fix the problems national governments are unable (or unwilling) to fix they run the risk of either annoying the member states governments or disappointing the citizens by falling short or worse, failing on both counts.

Oh, in case you are wondering, a total of 1800 citizens were involved in the consultations, or approximately 0.000006% of EU citizens...so a while to go yet before it could be considered a serious mandate to move forward with...YET!

Having lost sight of our objectives we need to redouble our efforts” -Anon

Mozilla Firefox & Thunderbird with Ubuntu too!? (Original Posting 27th June 2007)

No, this is not a title from a Japanese monster or an independent film. In fact this is some new software I have been using for several weeks now.

Mozilla Firefox (Internet Browser)
Mozilla Thunderbird (Email Application)
OpenOffice (Full Office Application Suite)

These are completely FREE to download applications. Just go to their respective websites

After using them I have no complaints, they do exactly what they are supposed to do and I have yet to have a problem with any of them. Best of all, the support forums have a wealth of information. The Mozilla website has links for “add-ons” to the applications that are so diverse that I do not know were to start. Everything to make your browser look like Internet Explorer, Apple or fully pimped up trip from the 70's (got to be seen!!!)...there are endless extras covering all areas of your internet & email needs (& desires!). Did I mention it is all FREE?

OpenOffice has applications for text documents, spreadsheets, presentation, drawing & database. I can only talk about the text and spreadsheet applications as these are what I use 99% of the time, I would rarely, if ever, use the others. Again, I can not give them enough praise. Complete, fully functioning, with all the options, applications. This is really worth downloading and trying, especially if you are about to hand over €300/€400 for an office suite or upgrade. Did I mention it is all FREE?

I am spreading the word because that is the whole point. Download for free, pass it on to as many people as you can and shout it from the roof tops, there is a third way. The whole point of the internet to those who set it up was to be able to access information without limits or boundaries (the current internet, as opposed to the US armed forces original designed to survive a nuclear war). The people behind these applications are living in the spirit of this. The communities behind these projects deserve all the praise they can get for creating such first class software. These, I imagine, are mostly people who love doing what they are doing and it shows.

It is a shame the other's can not follow their example. At the end of the day premium rates should only apply to premium services!

I am so impressed that I am currently researching various LINUX based operating systems. At the moment Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com/) is on the top of my list. I would just like to find out a little bit more before I take the plunge, the install process seems daunting to us graphical user interface crowd but I am prepared to learn so it is certainly on the cards in the near future.

Once more a HUGE thank you and well done to the creators & communities of Mozilla, OpenOffice and Ubuntu and to all those other providers. Without a doubt, you are the future.

Did I mention it is all FREE?

EU Constitution – RELOADED (Original Posting 26th June 2007)

So the “amended treaty” which was agreed last week IS NOT an EU Constitution because it makes no reference to things like an anthem, flag...basically anything that makes the EU look like an “United States of Europe”. So since it is just a treaty designed to tidy up existing legislation then we have no need to worry, no need to even consider something like a referendum on the matter.

That is a good solution for the politicians, but a bad call for the citizens. Already it has been commented by our own Mr Ahern that 90% of the original constitution is in this amended treaty, thus leading us further down the road of a more centralised EU with the governments in each state enacting and enforcing the legislation drawn up in Brussels.

The MEP's that sit in Brussels are elected there by us, the citizen, essentially through representative democracy. So, like any election, one should vote for the party or person who best represents one's own personal views. But, since the elections are dumbed down to the lowest common dominator, essentially how much cash you have in your wallet at the end of the weekend as a means to get re-elected, we end up with a government that does not represent our personal views but instead is acting like a corporation out to make the best profits at the expense of our long term interests.

This would be somewhat our own fault when it comes to the EU if the majority of us were voting, but guess what? We are not. For the EU elections in 2004 average turnout across the the EU was 45.6%, with lows of 21% in Poland and 17% in Slovakia! The first Nice Treaty that got voted against here by those following what was going on had a turn out of 35.4%. While the YES vote for the constitutional treaty in Spain had a massive 76.7% for - though only 42.3% of the people voted.

As can be seen, we have an EU moving forward not just with a large minority of people uninvolved, but with the MAJORITY of citizens uninvolved. Do you remember what the government had to say about the EU and enlargement and the increasing influence of the European Parliament during the last election...just last month...anybody?

I am increasingly worried about the centralisation of power ,never-mind any government believing it can micro-manage our lives from the other side of the country, let alone from Brussels. Government is supposed to be a tool for the people. Not a thorn in our side. If the best thing we can say about the EU is that they have built us some good roads, maybe we should take a longer harder look at what is going on. We all want free trade and travel, but has this really been achieved?

I take some comfort in one truth...centralised government in Europe has always failed. Every attempt in the past has fallen apart. Except for one...a King named Charlemagne united Europe under the banner of “The Holy Roman Empire”. He succeeded by not centralising Europe but by dividing up the various cultures in Europe, then making each country write down their laws and customs, thus leaving no doubt as to how they could work with one another and essentially letting them run themselves. The “civil service” buildings he constructed then to run this Empire are still used to this day in some parts of Europe...and that was the the latter half of the 9th Century AD! The Europe we know today and recognise on the map was largely of his creation.

But lets face reality...those who are pushing forward with the “United States of Europe” model are not doing it for the benefit of you and I, it is so this “U.S.E.” can sit at a table across from the future superpowers of the world (India, China, USA) and claim to have some influence. Most of us though can see that this influence is disappearing like sand through our fingers.

As Napoleon said, “Never disturb your enemy while he is making a mistake

Big IS Better! (Original Posting 22nd June 2007)

Australia has announced it is re-joining the “aircraft carrier” club! The Prime Minister has, on Wednesday 20th June 2007, signed a contract to purchase 2 of Spain's new Buque de Proyección Estratégica class (or Ship of Strategic Projection), these are also commonly known by the abbreviations LL.

Australia retired their last aircraft carrier in 1982. Though these new vessels are not technically aircraft carriers, more a multi-role vessel with a full length flight deck. The capacity of the ship will be of around 900 crew, with equipment and support elements for 1,200 soldiers. Multi-functional garage and hangar space on two levels of 6,000 m², with capacity for 6,000 tonnes load on each. A stern dock being able to lodge up to four LCM boats or one LCAC.

If used as a dedicated aircraft carrier the vessel will also have a flight deck of 201.9 metres with a ski-jump for the Harrier STOVL aircraft (or in the future the F-35 JSF). Also medium and heavy helicopters can be operated. She could carry up to 30 STOVL aircraft in the aircraft carrier mode, using the light vehicles bay as a hanger. Normally though you would expect a hi-lo ratio of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

Why is this so notable? Well it is an obvious sign that countries around the world are increasingly feeling the need to project and support their forces around the globe. Though we would like to look at this as supporting UN operations, humanitarian missions etc., this is more a realisation that expeditionary warfare is key to fighting and winning wars in the world's current climate. The ability to reach out and touch anyone, anywhere, any-time and without the need to rely on “friendly” (read: making concessions to questionable leaders) nations. Fourth Generation Warfare is truly here, and it is kicking down the door.

Also worth noting, is that you could use the amount of available “deck-space” on aircraft carriers as a measure of how powerful (or capable) a nations navy is. If you add up all of this space around the world, excluding the USA, you have a total of approx 18 acres at the moment. These countries being Brazil (1 CV), France (1 CVN), India (3 CV), Italy (1 CVS, 1 CV), Russia (1 CV), Spain (1 CVS), Thailand (1 CVS), UK (3 CV).

Then you have the USA...2 CV, 11 CVN, 5 LHA, 8 LHD and approx 75 acres of deck space!

Of course, experts have commented that the day of the carrier is over since they are such large targets and satellite's can pin-point them so easily for the targeting of weapons, such as the latest generation of low-observable cruise missiles. I do not believe we are there just yet as only 2 or 3 nations would currently have the ability to be potential threats.

Long live the “flat-top”!

Dark Clouds (Original Posting 20th June 2007)

Following on from my previous post on the BSB Round at Mondello Park. The British Supersport rider Guy Sanders has died following the crash he was involved in.

Sanders sustained critical head and chest injuries in the crash at the bend "Daly’s Drift" and was initially treated at the trackside before being transferred to the Tallaght hospital in Dublin.

I would like to extend my sympathies to his family & friends at this time.

British Superbikes (Original Posting 17th June 2007)

Bennett's British Superbikes, Mondello Park, Ireland

Today's main events were as follows:

1145 Race 1: Metzeler Racetec National Superstock Championship, Round 6, 16 laps

1245 Race 2: Bennett's British Superbikes Championship, Round 6-Race 1, 18 laps

1335 Race 3: British 125GP Championship, Round 6 (Red Flagged after a major crash)

1410 Ducati MotoGP Demo

1445 Race 4: Maxxis British Supersport Championship, Round 6, 18 laps

1545 Race 5: Bennett's British Superbike Championship, Round 6-Race 2, 18 laps

1635 Race 6: British 125GP Championship, Round 6 (Completion of earlier race)

1735 Race 7: Metzeler Racetec National Superstock Championship, Round 7, 16 laps

What can I say? It was a fantastic day out! Every rider out there today deserves full credits, they put in an amazing effort which gave us racing that was spectacular to view. The sights and sounds are just indescribable, an experience that will excite and humble any rider.

A number of riders had a few “off's” (or DNF), but some did require some extensive medical care. I hope they are all well and have very quick and painless recoveries. As they say some riders fall off, some get back on, some do not, some can not...

After last years utter wash out, which led to the events cancellation, today was a fabulous return to form. My pictures and video of the event are of novice quality but I will post them to this site as soon as I get to a high-speed connection.

Next year can't come quick enough...unless I force myself to get over to some WSB and MotoGP rounds...watch this space.

Keep the paint up and the rubber down.

Some Things Stay The Same....(Original Posting 12th June 2007)

...And Some Things Do Not!

Have had a busy few weeks of late, let me fill you in. Earlier this year I applied to return to education as a mature student. I know, I must be crazy (that's another story) or stupid (I have had my moments). Once again I set myself up for another failure.

Well I sent in the “application's”. I was then sent out “supplementary application's”, which I filled in and sent back. Then In early May I get a phone call asking me to attend an interview in late May. Of course I accept and turn up on the day in my nicest M&S suit. I wait outside the room hearing the interviewer's laugh and joke with the interviewee, I know that they will not laugh that much with me. I am worried, I am anxious...I am going into the room. I sit down in front of 2 professors from the law & government department. Sure enough, we do not laugh that much. We talk about my crazy notions and they are very polite and do not wade into the reports from various specialists that lay in front of them from the last few years. I explain were I see their Degree course leading me, I even tell them which MA I would really like to do to follow it up! After an hour it is over. I am relieved, I did the best I could. No sugar coating, this is who I am, what I wanted... What have I done?

Oh, there were also 90 candidates for the 12 available places on the course.

Well, one of the Professor's rang me the other day...they would like me to accept their offer of a place at the university on my chosen course...I have struggled for 4 years to get a break and there it was, here it is.

By the way, I accepted their very nice offer!

So here I am, finally found that road I have been looking for. The destination is still a long way off, but we all know it is the journey that counts. In September a whole new chapter begins for me...

See you on the Purple Bus

MotoGP, Beyond China... (Original Posting 6th May 2007)

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? NO, It’s Stoner!?

Ducati and Casey Stoner are setting the pace for the MotoGP, with 4 rounds over and 3 wins now it will only be a matter of time when victory is all but assured if they keep up this pace. But with the championship returning to Europe with many riders returning to favourite and familiar tracks the racing can only get better, which is hard to believe after such an exciting start to the season.

More importantly though, Ducati is setting an important precedent. A relatively small European manufacturer is taking on the biggest and most powerful motorcycle firms and leading the championship. With firms like BMW and KTM looking at joining the MotoGP grid they can now see that with some talented riders and with small but dedicated factory support these firms can be at the top.

Imagine a “fantasy grid” packed with the big Japanese four, Ducati, BMW, KTM, Triumph, MV Agusta, Aprilia…and so on. Not forgetting privateers! The future of MotoGP looks bright. Once it is affordable for these teams to run in MotoGP then it will be also possible for them to run WSB teams and BSB etc! Eventually the technology that these teams are using at the top level will also eventually come to the average road user.

So in an age when motorcycling is being attacked on one side by health and safety concerns and an obviously anti-bike biased media and ever increasingly frustrated road going public looking for someone to blame. We are pushing forward doing what we do best…being individuals who love living life.

Keep the rubber side down.

Star Trek, Boldly Doing Nothing (Original Posting 4th May 2007)

What has happened with Star Trek?

When I heard the 11th movie was on the way I was excited, but now I am already announcing that I am to boycott the next movie completely. It is due for release at Christmas 2008. The story is to focus on Kirk & Spock while they are still Jnr Officers, or this is what we are currently being led to believe. I hope it is a joke!

I appreciate the viewpoint of those making the movie, maybe they are thinking that by going back to the start and "re-imagining" the original series (much like "Battlestar Gallactica") will introduce Star Trek to a whole new demographic!? It seems that they are not content with using the dismal "Enterprise" series to hammer nails into the Star Trek coffin for 4 years they are to continue to go against the theme of Star Trek.

Gene Roddenberry was a visionary who wanted to see a human race among the stars as a force for good. He created the Original Series during the Cold War with a multi-racial cast, the series even featured the first on-screen kiss between a white man and African-American! These were boundary pushing themes that were knocking down walls. When he came back to make a new series we were given the brilliant "Star Trek: The Next Generation". Jumping approx 100yrs forward from the days of Kirk. The spin-offs "Deep Space Nine" and "Voyager" never had the success of TNG but were good shows in their own right.

My point...it is time to keep up the spirit of the show and move forward. To stop toying with the past and history of the Star Trek franchise and move on to the future. At least another 100yrs into the future, if not further! They can create a Star Trek universe that is not familiar and then the story lines to explain that new world and how we got there. Even a series of movies covering the gap between the TNG universe and any future TV Show, much like was done with TOS to TNG!

Ultimately that option does not prove popular with those who make the show because it means sinking allot of money into what could end up a turkey, but with some fresh blood and the support of the long term fans it would get off to a good start!

It is time to go boldly...you know the rest!

Politics, UK (Original Posting 3rd May 2007)

So it has begun...

The coffee is brewing in the background and I am stocking up supplies of food around me, NO not the nuclear winter...the results of the local elections are being released across the UK. So by 6am all the results should be in and I will fall into bed. Until then it will be me, this computer and the 24hr news broadcasts for the next few hours.

What can I say? Some people like watching "Big Brother", I like watching the world!

See you all on the other side.

Motorcycles, The Long Way...Down!? (Original Posting 3rd May 2007)

So it is official, Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman will be leaving the most northerly point of Scotland aroound the 10th-12th May and traveling south to Cape Town, South Africa. The trip will take several months and again they will be promoting their favourite charity UNICEF.

They will be on "BMW R 1200 GS Adventure" motorcycles, which are fitted out as per what you would get in any BMW dealership. It is rumoured they will not be taking GPS units with them this time, prefering to stick to maps and the stars. Though truth be told once you cross into Africa all the GPS can be used for is setting waypoints to travel between as there is little or no mapping informations for roads etc...

I wish then all the best and hope that this proves to be as succesful as their previous adventure. I know some who have had a go at them for various reasons, but ultimately they are doing it to aid a good cause and promote a positive image of motorcycles which goes against the usual flak we recieve in the press!

Good Luck to all involved...

"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end."

The UK & Trident, An Explosive Relationship (Original Posting 26th March 2007)

I just want to put forward a few thoughts with regards to trident and the intention to renew it. I can not say with complete conviction that taking the UK’s nuclear deterrent off the table is the best thing for the UK! Though there is some room for movement. I would put forward a different compromise. Maybe a restructuring of the UK’s submarine force. Let the 4 Vanguard Class SSBN’s be taken out of service when their operational life is up but do not replace them with SSBN’s. Instead, have 6 SSN’s in service which can carry Tomahawk cruise missiles with nuclear warheads while reform a UK SSK force of about 4 boats. This would enable the UK to maintain a very limited but precise nuclear deterrent on vessels that can operate globally while also forming a SSK force to assist with the protection of sea lanes around the UK and the EU. SSK’s can always be deployed away from base around the world by simply flying out crews to the vessel on station, as the USA has started doing with vessels in their fleet. The other obvious benefits are that it could save the UK considerable money, the SSK force could be bought “Off-the-shelf”, take a new moral high ground by showing that they do not want to wipe-out entire countries but also recognise that the world is not stable enough to warrant a complete withdrawal. It would be a new way forward for the armed forces which must be designed around expeditionary warfare (i.e. the ability to go anywhere, for any reason, securely and quickly) in this ever changing world.

When Is a Civil War a Civil War? (Original Posting 26th March 2007)

Here are some things to consider. There is no clear threshold to distinguish terrorism or low-level political strife from civil war. Yet, Political Scientists use the figure of 1,000 deaths to distinguish one from the other. Though some amend this to at least 1,000 deaths a year. Now considering these figures, since World War 2 there has been 125 civil wars with 20 on-going today. Or with the 1,000 a year figure, this becomes 90 civil wars since 1945! Now one considers Iraq with an average of 60,000 deaths per year making it the 9th deadliest civil war since 1945 in terms of annual casualties, of course it could yet move up the table. Now also consider that the average civil war lasted 10 years with over half of those lasting 7 years. All I am left wondering is when is a civil war called a civil war?

UK / Iran Stand-Off (Original Posting 26th March 2007)

Iran seems to be marking it’s territory and acting like the big fish. Shame no one has pointed out to them that it is easy to be the big fish when you are in such a small pond! I can see this dragging out and the RN personnel being safely returned, it simply would not be in Iran’s long term interests to do anything silly.

Tony Blair’s statement yesterday (Sunday 25th) did turn up the heat a bit of a situation which the UK Foreign Office has been trying to keep as cool as possible. While the Iranian reprehensive at the UN has plainly stated two options or available, talking or confrontation. My thoughts are with the families of the RN personnel caught up in this international pissing contest.

UK / Iran Stand-Off (Original Posting 26th March 2007)

Iran seems to be marking it’s territory and acting like the big fish. Shame no one has pointed out to them that it is easy to be the big fish when you are in such a small pond! I can see this dragging out and the RN personnel being safely returned, it simply would not be in Iran’s long term interests to do anything silly.

Tony Blair’s statement yesterday (Sunday 25th) did turn up the heat a bit of a situation which the UK Foreign Office has been trying to keep as cool as possible. While the Iranian reprehensive at the UN has plainly stated two options or available, talking or confrontation. My thoughts are with the families of the RN personnel caught up in this international pissing contest.

Stargate (Original Posting 26th March 2007)

Well the “Save Carson” groups seem to be making allot of noise! I agree with them completely, killing off Dr. Beckett was a stupid move on the part of the writing staff. Without a doubt he is a favourite of most of us. For a show that insists it’s main appeal to fans is to keep the show grounded and relatable, Carson was by far the stand out character in this respect. This probably leant to his appeal and generally well rounded character. I do not see a way in which he could return as a full time character. The obvious time-travel and alternate universe story lines could see appearances, but that may be it. Is it just me but seeing Beckett go gives me a sense of “rats leaving a sinking ship”…

Now it is official, the third spin-off series of Stargate has been announced for early next year, so far it is known as “Stargate Universe”. The main aspect of this will be that the ninth chevron will come into use, to what end will can only dream of for the time being. Also, it will be relatively independent of the SG-1 and Atlantis shows. So expect very little (if any) crossover of characters. My worst nightmare is that it will be a “Star Trek Voyager” type of show, but they would not be that silly…would they?

MotoGP (Original Posting 26th March 2007)

Well, what a weekend for Rossi fans! I was delighted to see “The Doctor” return to the top of the podium, has been too long. Those of you that watched I hope you got to see his show on the cool down lap, he certainly loves putting on a display, but when you are that good, why not? My heart goes out to Pedrosa, being able to taste a first place then laps 12/13 Rossi did his thing leaving Pedrosa worrying less about the win and more about Colin who kept trying to close on him. With Colin’s form in testing and in the first two races of this year it is about time we see him standing on first place.

Major respect for John Hopkins, he was doing brilliant on the Suzuki, they seem have gotten most things right this year so maybe they will give the other teams something else to worry about. Shame he lost the front. Maybe in Istanbul we will see a podium finish? It seems that the only thing we know from last two races is that the podium places are open to more racers then ever. There was less than a second covering the first 12 positions at the end of qualifying! 2007 is shaping up to be one hell on a year for MotoGP.

Next weekend we have World Superbikes coming from Donington Park, UK! I can not wait to see “JT” on the track!

This Is the Start (26th Feb 2007)

Hello All,

Will start by saying welcome to my online journal. Basically I would like to stick things on here that those of you out there might find interesting. You will see:

  • Comments on Current Affairs
  • I might publish my own poetry (I refer to as "works")
  • A good few comments on motorcycles too
  • Brief insights into my life

That is basically me...

Hope you find what is to follow interesting