The General Discussion Thread

[Publish Date updated to restore to front page]

Okay as an experiment here it is. Discuss your favourite generals here!

Well perhaps… Really this is simply the place to post news-items, fun-items or whatever takes your fancy. In short just post what you want here.

It’s just another wee experiment – comments welcome.


[Image: General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett (Stephen Fry)]

17,285 thoughts on “The General Discussion Thread

  1. Okay folks. Took a few puppy photographs earlier to cheer me up and you lot as well hopefully 🙂 Will sort out a couple for posting tomorrow.

  2. Only had the phone’s camera and it was low light but here’s a few pics. Asleep in the first pic. Chewing at a bone-like thing in the other two.

  3. I just love dogs. I think the linguistics of ‘god’ spelled backward is Nature’s subtle way of teaching humans the concept of genuine love; the kind that neither expects nor demands anything in return.

  4. Thanks AlcAnon. He’s lovely. ‘ Hasn’t he grown’ as they say. I like his markings.

    I also love cats and esp. Brian’s big cats at play. In fact I love all animals. All God’s creatures and all marvels. Plus the two legged variety too but some of them leave a lot to be desired as we all know!

    Had a sad evening last night. My friend who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease joined us at a pub. Since I saw her at Christmas she is now unable to speak and can just swallow food if it is minced. She can still walk and uses a wheeled frame for support. Still brave though and seeing the funny side of life.

    We had a lovely waitress called Vilma. I was the clever clogs who guessed she was from Lithuania. She made us laugh a lot. So much personality. She told us about her home and family and that she has a Masters in Engineering. She studied this subject to please her father but now realizes that this was a mistake and that one should always follow one’s heart and inclination. She is such a good people person I am sure she will succeed in whatever she does. She has loved being in the UK and thinks the country is wonderful, especially the beautiful countryside. She returns to Lithuania in March.

  5. Some less pleasant images. This Saturday. Eeek!

    The first is max wind (km/hr) and the second a measure of how cold the air mass is. Min pressure modelled at 948mb. Click image to see full size. Forecast from US GFS model 12 noon run today for noon Saturday. (Met Office don’t supply full output of their models for free).

    Loads more rain,extremely high winds and probably horizontal sleet for some.

  6. I can take the rain now that the roof is hopefully fixed but I find the high wind and gusts quite scary.

    Met Office website.
    UK forecast
    Day 6 to 30

    UK Outlook for Monday 10 Feb 2014 to Wednesday 19 Feb 2014:

    It looks like the weather will remain very unsettled through next week with a continuing risk of gales or severe gales, especially in the south and west. There will be spells of rain, which will be interspersed with brighter but showery intervals, these occasionally heavy with hill snow in the north. The best of any drier and brighter interludes are most likely towards the east and southeast of the UK. Temperatures are likely to be near or rather below normal, with the risk of frost and ice. Towards the end of the period, although it is likely to remain unsettled, there could be longer drier spells between weather systems, as well as a greater chance of some colder interludes.

    UK Outlook for Thursday 20 Feb 2014 to Thursday 6 Mar 2014:

    Current indications point towards early February’s unsettled conditions persisting through the rest of the month and into the start of March. The most likely scenario during this period would see northwestern parts of the UK affected by the most frequent spells of unsettled and windy weather. Meanwhile southern and eastern regions should tend to see longer spells of drier and brighter weather than previous weeks, although still with some rain-bearing systems. This would mean that temperatures are likely to be close to or slightly above the seasonal average, but with some colder periods possible, and the risk of frost and ice, and hill snow, especially in the north.

    Issued at: 1600 on Wed 5 Feb 2014

    Emigration anyone?

  7. Ahh Storm Chasin Weather

    Sometimes myself and a hardy lady Friend go out Storm chasing… Big waves n Such….and Sometime we have to wind our way around fallen trees…And Sometimes i think… This might not be a Good idea Lol

    Thats a shame about your Friend Mary… wee soul

    But nice story about the Happy Vilma… sounds like she is an interesting Lady.

  8. Squonk, thanks for the puppy pics. I love the ‘inside-out’ ear in the first one; I’m reminded of the Hell Hound in Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens.

    Thanks for the Met Office data too. Looks like me and Mary will be copping it worse here in the south than you lot in Sconny Botland.

  9. I am looking forward to Sunday and Monday Clark. There are some symbols for ‘sunny intervals’ and no black blobs for ‘heavy rain’ or yellow/amber warnings for rain or wind on the Met’s 5 day forecast in this area.

    I still think about what it must be like for the folks in Somerset and in the SW coastal towns. Terrible damage.

    I think Gaia is trying to tell us something.

  10. Broken Britain? Yes.

    I have just been reading about heating oil, quad bikes and other property being stolen from abandoned homes in the Somerset Levels. Strange cars are being seen in the area.

    This in Chertsey last month.
    Sports car which was abandoned after it got stuck in floodwater was stripped of parts
    A sports car caught in flooding and left by its owner was rapidly stripped by thieves.
    The £60,000 Audi RS5 was swamped near a rail bridge in Chertsey, Surrey, last month.

    Leaving behind this

    Opportunist crooks smashed its windows within hours, then took everything from the engine to the interior and steering wheel.

    All the above crime taking place in a country where some people are driving around in high priced cars like the Audi. A fractured society. Sorry. ‘There is no such thing as society’!

  11. Train at Dawlish before the line got washed out. Looks like it is filmed from a boat not a train.

    Also video overlooking the railway line as it is battered by the waves. Astonishingly a passenger train (possibly the same train seen in above video) trundles through the waves in the midst of the storm. Lucky there wasn’t a train on the line when the sea wall collapsed.

  12. Travelling along that line along the Exe estuary through Dawlish is usually a very pleasant experience. Just a mistake by Brunel building it there but he must have had his reasons. There is apparently a Teign Valley line from Exeter to Plymouth but I don’t know anything about it.

    We like our doggy stories here. How about Reqs locating Cayyad? Bless.

    Clacton explosion: House explosion dog is found alive

  13. Forget that bit about the Teign Valley Line. It’s gone. Some of it even lies under the A38.

    The last line reads

    Revival of the Teign Valley Line is an option that might be considered in the wake of widespread disruption caused by damage to the mainline track at Dawlish by coastal storms in February 2014. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin ordered a review of alternative inland rail routes.[speculation?]

  14. I remember reading about that MJ. It makes the geographical location of Hinckley Point critical should that event ever happen again. In fact all the present nuclear power stations located on coasts are vulnerable.

  15. MJ, thanks for that Interesting Wikipedia link.

    a tsunami would most likely have been caused by an earthquake on a known unstable fault off the coast of Ireland


    the same original sources make it clear that flooding occurred in Norfolk on the night of the same date (at local high water)

    So perhaps gravitational tidal forces triggered an earthquake, which added a tsunami to spring tide high water.

    Mary, I agree; the nuclear power stations are vulnerable. Reactors that can fail catastrophically need to be dismantled. Economic concerns have to become secondary to environmental concerns.

  16. I wrote:

    Reactors that can fail catastrophically need to be dismantled.

    So far as I know, that includes all of our current power generation reactors. Research and educational reactors are probably small enough to be an acceptable hazard.

  17. Squonk, classic! 07:22; referring to Eric Pickles. “I’m tryin’ to be serious, man… Cobra, from GI Joe, is led by a pickle?!”

  18. I find Pickles quite scary. Something menacing about the visage? I think it’s the apparent inscrutability.


    There’s an awful lot of purgin’ going on in this.
    Going back to the ’80s in Bradford.

    ‘Whilst at Bradford, Pickles announced a five-year plan to cut the council’s budget by £50m, reduce the workforce by a third, privatise services and undertake council departmental restructures, many of which proved controversial.[4] A book, The Pickles Papers by Tony Grogan, was written about this period in Pickles’ life.[5]’

    It was ever thus.

  19. This writer argues that the flooding in Somerset is a deliberate act. I wouldn’t care to comment on that but the following prediction is clear and unambiguous:

    “What will happen next is that the carpet baggers will move into the Levels to buy up the land at rock bottom fire-sale prices, which is all the farmers will be able to charge now that the land has been contaminated from overflowing sewerage and their farms are virtually uninsurable. The carpet baggers will probably make a killing in selling that land on to the frackers, as it stands over a huge shale gas field which they’ve been slavering over for some time”

  20. I put similar links on Craig MJ. A EU directive lies behind to allow plains to become flooded. Richard North and Christopher Booker soon rubbished by the chief troll. The latter becomes more desperate and ridiculous by the day.

    I think the presence of shale gas in the Somerset area is significant.

    Did you see Agent Cameron doing his Cap’n Mainwaring act on Chesil Beach earlier? Followed by Mil(l)ipede E and Cleggover on visits in short order. All electioneering now.

  21. At first I was dubious about the fracking connection because the geological maps I could find did not show shale gas deposits in the area. Turns out however that the maps I was looking at were a bit old. This Greenpeace article is more up to date and includes the following observation:

    “The recently published Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on the 14th onshore oil and gas licensing round noted “flood risk presents a significant planning issue… should the site become flooded during exploratory drilling, production, operation or decommissioning, adverse effects could occur””

  22. There was a plan MJ to allow the farmland to be flooded.

    10 February 2014
    UK floods: Somerset farmland water plan defended

    Small comfort to this farming couple who were featured on Farming Today. They were having to find immediate accommodation for 550 cattle. The cattle ended up in pens in an empty market. It was pretty heart breaking to listen to. The couple were in a state of high stress and anxiety.

    Somerset Levels Evacuation, Farming and Wildlife
    Availability:3 days left to listen
    Duration: 13 minutes
    First broadcast: Friday 07 February 2014
    The situation in Somerset has reached a new low for some farmers as they are forced to remove their livestock from the Levels. With floodwaters continuing to rise, James and Jenny Winslade have evacuated their farm and found temporary accommodation for 550 cattle. Farming Today’s Anna Jones was there as they arrived at Sedgemoor Livestock market. With thousands of acres underwater some farmers on the Levels are also appealing for food and bedding for their animals.

    There seems to be so much confusion in governmental planning and decision making or rather the lack of it. I think it is Cameron’s darkest hour from which he will have great difficulty recovering. He can only mouth so many empty words.

  23. Dudes you are all most likely spot on… But how do they make absolute certain of the rains to do the job…. geoengineering methinks…HARPS.

  24. Pickles! He reminds me of one of the Batman arch-villains, ‘The Penguin’ I think; “It could be worse – there could be blood all over your face!” (bites the other’s face, blood everywhere).

    Mary, yes, Pickles in Bradford in the ’80s. I was there, and he was very unpopular. He held the casting vote on the council; decision after decision was decided by his one vote. Graffiti went up all over the city:

    “Eat Pickles!”

    Then he followed me down to Essex and became MP for the neighbouring constituency of Brentwood. Brentwood and Pickles deserve each other.

  25. I just got a spam e-mail from Craig’s BT account, so it seems that BY-Yahoo still haven’t solved their security problems.

  26. Clark Bad luck on Pickles. I listened to a bit of his stuff yesterday. An appalling level of ‘debate’. I would not believe a word he says.

    This on BT. Two months ago I was told that BT Yahoo mail was being replaced by BT Mail. On and off I have had to log in to Yahoo and BT separately. Yesterday I could only access mail by logging in to Yahoo as BT Mail died. Also there is no facility to keep logged in on BT Mail so if I log off or close down my machine, I am constantly having to log in. The BT forums are full of similar complaints. I long to tell them to ‘log off’ which I resolve to do this year.

    The message on their home page now reads:

    BT Yahoo email security warning
    We’ve recently detected unusual activity on some BT Yahoo email accounts and have already taken steps to secure these.
    If after logging into your email, you receive a message advising you to change your password and run some security checks, it is important for you to do so.
    Further advice on the steps we recommend that you should also take can be found at

    and the ‘keep me logged in’ facility has disappeared. They could not run the proverbial whelk stall.

  27. Mary, you shouldn’t need to log in to BT at all, unless you wish to look at your on-line billing details etc.. You should only have to log in to use the web-based e-mail interface.

    I’ve seen the installation that came on the CD with BT Broadband, and it was essentially dishonest. Its home page defaulted to the BT Login page, giving users the impression that they needed to log in just to use the public Internet. I’ve met two users misled by this.

    What’s really going on is that BT-Yahoo arranged their software bundle that way to trick BT users into logging in, so that cookies would be set on the users’ browser. These cookies are then displayed by the users’ browser to every BT- and Yahoo-affiliated site that they visit, rather like one of those badges they give you when you attend a conference.

    In short, it’s about tracking.

  28. “I long to tell them to ‘log off’ which I resolve to do this year”

    Mary: never mind this year, do it this week. It’s easy.

  29. Squonk, how come this page now requests Javascript from and I don’t see any Facebook ‘Like’ buttons or similar.

  30. is always referenced from Facebook.

    That’s really cheeky of Facebook, insinuating their Javascript just for displaying an image.

  31. Yes it is an embedded video from Facebook. Short of using a tool to rip it and re-upload somewhere else there isn’t much I can do – as it’s a users personal video I really don’t want to copy it.. However I block third party cookies so embedded videos from FB (or Youtube for that matter) can’t see (or set) their cookies when displaying embedded video. Third party tracking cookies can be blocked with a simple setting in most browsers now with no add-ons needed and I generally recommend most people do that. Finally Facebook videos are served from Akamai content delivery network which is why you see it needed.

    Btw the videos are served using an encrypted connection with forward secrecy (Diffie-Hellman). Yes even facebook has turned on forward secrecy now. So even if you don’t block third party cookies it is far less likely they are being sucked into the global spy machine in the way the Snowden documents describe. Commercial companies beefing up their encryption and going dark to routine monitoring might be what really has TPTB furious with Snowden.

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