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


    More than 2,400 killed in Iraq in June, highest monthly toll since 2007

    At least 2,417 people have been killed in Iraq in June 2014, the majority of them civilians, according to figures released by the United Nations. The death toll in the violence-plagued country is the highest since May 2007.

    The dead include 1,531 civilians and 886 members of Iraq’s security forces killed in terrorist attacks and violence, UNIRAQ, the UN mission to Iraq, said in a statement.

    In addition, a total of 2,287 people were injured in attacks in June.


    Israel bombards 34 sites in Gaza Strip hours after finding missing teens dead

    The Israeli Air Force bombed dozens of sites in the Gaza Strip hours after a search for three missing young Israelis led to discovery of their dead bodies. The Israeli government is contemplating further action.

    The airstrikes on 34 targets were conducted on Tuesday morning in a standard Israeli response to rocket launches from the Gaza Strip, the IAF reported. The tension has been reaching the boiling point amid two weeks of door-to-door searches and arrests in the Palestinian territories by the IDF. Palestinian militants launched five rockets at Israel overnight, or over 20 projectiles since late Sunday.

  3. Ben

    “Baked potato w/sour cream and asparagus tonight. (with your porterhouse steaks)”


    I trust you spared a thought for the starving Gazans before tucking in?

  4. Ben,

    Watched the USA v Belgium match – now that was an exciting game. USA had a real go at Belgium in second half of extra time – certainly gave Belgium a fright.

  5. Agree Squonk / Alcanon.

    Great Game… Amazing Misses but great stuff… Well done both teams and i think not one Yellow card….

    And Squonky Dood…Thank you for the Flick of the Tail Video..must be 20 odd years since i listened to that.. Fantastic music… Have you seen Waterboys Live… A MUST….Make it a mission…i’v seen em half a dozen times, Wondrous…

    And here singing Yates Poetry

  6. Squonk What’s happened to the Kyrgios embed? Just a big white space? I really liked it.

    Great. A son of a Greek dad and a Malaysian mum did really well. Bet the whitey Oz racists don’t like that one bit. Brother a lawyer and sister an actress. That’s a talented family.

  7. Kyrgios embed seems to be working fine for me at the moment. Probably just some temporary problem with the Vine servers.

  8. Don’t you think this is very generous of the Algerians,

    Algeria team donating money earned at Brazil World Cup to people of Gaza
    Posted by richard27 on July 3, 2014, 1:38 pm (MLMB)

    The Algerian World Cup team has decided to donate their team salary of $9 million they got after their Round of 16 match with Germany to the people of Gaza, revealed one of the squad’s forwards.

    “They need it more than us,” 26-year old Islam Slimani, whose club is Sporting Lisbon.

  9. Mary

    I didn’t say this on CM’s blog to avoid derailing the thread. I thought we might discuss it here rather than shout. I know, I know I’m a fine one to talk. But shall we:

    Why did you mention the skin colour of the Osborne prostitute?

    As an aside I would just like to add I don’t have a problem with drugs (glass of wine anyone?) or prostitution (wage slave anyone?) in themselves, so don’t see them as grounds to attack even those I despise.

    [ Squonk I fully understand if you do not want this discussion here and delete this comment. ]

  10. ” I think it’s a clever play on words.” (from what’s here)

    Thanks for your thoughts Mary. I was afraid I was too clever by one-half. 🙂

  11. “hurricane Arthur” Looks like El Nino is breaking up in the Pacific, but that smaller pond in the Atlantic isn’t taking any guff from forecasters, AA.

  12. Phil,

    Just wondering – had she been say blonde, redhead or even Scottish and Mary had said the blonde/redhead/Scottish prostitute would you have asked the question? Incidentally, the name of the escort agency she ran was “Black Beauties”.

    The Dominatrix in question – Natalie Rowe (“Mistress Pain”) – pictured recently.

    And her current twitter account –

    She’s currently writing a book about it all…


    Ex-vice madam Natalie Rowe has had her home raided by police days before she will make new claims about her relationship with Chancellor George Osborne, the Sunday People reports.

    Up to 12 Drugs Squad officers armed with a battering ram burst into her London flat in a dawn swoop claiming they were acting on a tip-off from a member of the public.

    But no drugs were found in the two-hour search during which Miss Rowe claims she was threatened with being handcuffed – and had questions asked about her forthcoming autobiography.

    …Miss Rowe became embroiled in scandal eight years ago when a picture surfaced of her at a 1994 party with a 22-year-old Osborne alongside what is alleged to be a line of cocaine.

    She said the photo was taken at a party to celebrate her getting ­pregnant by her super-rich boyfriend William Sinclair.

    And that original photo

    Oh dear, I seem to have gone all tabloid.


    Podesta:” I think the German government would acknowledge that perhaps there was a little bit of a lack of clarity as to what the US was offering. As I said, we don’t have no-spy agreements with any country, including the UK. I wasn’t in government at that moment, but I think what we have done subsequent to those earlier conversations is to try and enhance the dialogue at every level: at the technical level and at the political level. In that context, I met with the foreign minister when he was in Washington last spring and he asked me to come over here to participate in the Cyber Dialogue.”

    I think the USdotgov request to delay publishing the names (greenwald) is directly related to the NATO partnership. The US wants desperately to keep it intact.

  15. Ben,

    One revelation from the last Greenwald release was that Israel very aggressively spies on the USA – According to the CIA – Russia and China are the only countries who are more aggressive against the USA than Israel. That revelation didn’t get much press coverage but there was some.

    “The Israelis are extraordinarily good [Signals Intelligence] partners for us,” the NSA observed, referencing joint electronic spying programs against foreign targets, “but on the other [hand], they target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems.” It added that a CIA-led National Intelligence Estimate on cyberthreats in 2013 “ranked Israel the third most aggressive intelligence service against the U.S.,” behind only China and Russia.

  16. Phil It was just a statement of fact. I thought it was permissible to say ‘black’ nowadays just as we say ‘white’. I am from a generation that saw a lot of harm come from drug use so assume I am prejudiced on that.

    I made the comment after listening to him with the children’s Q&A on Sky and to their opinions about him. He conned them all into believing that he is a very nice man and a very good chancellor. Poor little mites.

    I would say that politicians are mostly hypocrites with some exceptions. Look around to see the current state of affairs.

    PS The bank crash happened because most of the city was high on cocaine. I have that on very good authority.

  17. Mary, Squonk

    I didn’t doubt the veracity of the adjective. And that the woman herself is marketing herself using it is irrelevant to my point. Although I will say I had no idea about any of this incident before this.

    I wonder how it was relevant to the context of the comment. It clearly wasn’t. Using the word black added nothing to the conscious thrust of the comment. Except that, all words carry a meaning. That’s what words are for. No matter your intention, conscious or not, you cannot rid a said word of meaning.

    So when someone says a ‘black’ this or that it has a meaning. Sure, you could have said aged 35, redhead or whatever. They too carry implications. But you didn’t. Why not? If you were arbitrarily throwing around descriptive adjectives why this one? Mentioning race in our society has special implications. As well you both know. Saying black this is not the same as saying redhead this.

    Some kids stole sweets from my shop. Some black kids stole sweets from my shop. See the difference?

    Anyway, I do not want to come across all pc and right on but you regularly use apparently irrelevant racially identifying adjectives. You never use age or hair colour adjectives.

  18. Well I did know about him. I try to inform myself.

    I do not use racially identifying adjectives as far as I know apart from Zionist, Israeli or Palestinian if that’s what you are referring to.

  19. Mary

    You deny using racially identifying adjectives in a conversation started by you doing exactly that.

    I do not mean Zionist, Israeli or Palestinian. These are not race identifiers.

    I have to go out now. Sorry. I cannot respond now. I do want to continue this if you’re happy to. I think it an important issue which leads you to feed that which you oppose.

    I’ll reply later tonight or tomorrow. Thanks for talking about this.

  20. Craig really is trying to post something that has a reach beyond his current interests, then he deflates it with a new thread on the same old same. What is he avoiding?

  21. Deep suspicions about Western assistance.


    The Red Cross in Guinea said it had been forced to temporarily suspend some operations in the country’s southeast after staff working on Ebola were threatened.

    “Locals wielding knives surrounded a marked Red Cross vehicle,” a Red Cross official said, asking not to be named. The official said operations had been halted for safety reasons. The Red Cross later said only international staff were removed.

  22. Alcanon/ Squonk

    I know you said no Apologies …For the Other Static Page

    i didn’t realize. Soz

    But Totaly OT… i remember you saying that it was ok by you if some need to let off a wee bit of steam here…

    well i need to let off STEAM…. some of my hedges got outa control…. Big Time… AND I MISS MY JAPANESE HAND SAW… i bought one out of Lidl for about £10 a few years ago.. and then i left it on a wall in a dark ( black ) sky location… Doon the coast…and ON the SAME fkn wall i left a Hand worked Boken, and Tanto… on separate Nights…. I HATE THAT WALL

    Best wee Saw i ever had… it got broken and i fixed it with Love n Affection using Copper wire… great repair job.

    And now they sell for effin £40 …. Rant over

  23. “where that nut-ball went nutz because he couldn’t get laid.”

    You think he created a stink? The night before he killed Franz Ferdinand, Gavrilo Princip expressed anger in his diary that his girlfriend wouldn’t give him any!

  24. Mary

    I am referring to your habit of, for no immediately relevant reason, pointing out the ethnicity of Jewish people.

    You say “Israel is the problem”. I suggest it is just another part of the problem. Empire, war and cruelty were all going strong long before Israel. I suggest, in no small part Israel exists to divide and rule. That is why it is supported by the evil empire.

    You understand propaganda. Why is Israel always on your tele but the people of Congo or the people of Western Sahara are not? Can you consider that age old enmities are being used to manipulate division? Can you see how a hatred of Jews is fostered to benefit the evil empire?

    The evil empire wants us all hating each other. It’s how the evil empire survives. And yes there are Jews amongst us. There are all sorts amongst us. To constantly point out our differences plays the game of those who divide and rule us.

    Your habit of raising racial identity feeds the divisions that feed the wars. Every time you, for no good reason, raise Jewish ethnicity someone in Langley smiles.

  25. Don’t know what happened to my previous comment, it’s gone!

    Sort of here, hello Clark.

  26. Ben

    Cheers for that Link .. i can well see how you could spend a long time looking around in there ( and i think i see also why a woman would Quickly get bored )

    many of those tools i have not seen before, but they sure look the part for intended use… i’ll drop in again for a peek from time to time 🙂

    was watching out for NLC but not a thing doing…great fotos here n there from last night… but we had heavy cloud n rain…clear tonight and Zilch…i have noticed a pattern for this year…seems to be if a display is on one night, then not the next… so maybe some action tomorrow…but will that also mean Clouds, Rain LOl….

    Ooch at least the World cup was back, some good Football… Fantastic second Brazil goal… Messi tomorrow 🙂

  27. Tony M, hello. I wanted to ask why you regard radioactive contamination as so great a threat that it could wipe out humanity or even life on Earth.

    Radioactive contamination is a terrible thing, it must be the cause of tens or hundreds of millions of cancers and other illnesses. But all through the bomb tests, the Windscale fire, the Kyshtym disaster, Chernobyl, and hundreds of other incidents, the human population has been rising faster than ever before. Species with much shorter generations are showing no signs of losing their integrity through cumulative mutation or anything like that. So what makes you think that it may already be too late and life on Earth could be doomed?

  28. I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.

    I don’t like things nuclear, it’s not irrational, but evolved societal self-protection, as instinctive now in human beings as ancestral aversion to snakes, bears, the colour red, big spiders and Tories.

    I think a tipping point has been reached, given that credible opinion holds that there is no safe minimum level of exposure, and that the results are cumulative, in each individual and in each generation. In my last comment on this on the CM blog, I mentioned that over the timescales involved it is inevitable that the greater part of current wastes will end up distributed far and wide into the environment, causing both local catastrophes and feeding into global contamination. It is simply absurd now to talk of safe nuclear power, it is oxymoronic, as is talk of limited or of ‘good’ mutation. Successful applications for nuclear science are few, most are dead-ends of no useful or of adverse outcomes – its adherents must refuse to recognise that it is fouling our closed biosphere, that what goes up must come down and we must still eat, breathe and drink what is out there, and that soon enough nothing will untainted – or the whole edifice falls. The justifications given on places like CM’s blog by the avowedly manically pro-nuclear who pop up from time to time, apropos of nothing even vaguely nuclear related, seems to be that so much damage has already been done, that a little more might be quite fun, who cares if future humanity would be the short-lived objects of freak shows, before even the gawpers themselves rather begin to resemble freaks themselves. There seems to be a sense of recklessness and irresponsibility increasingly pervading their argument now, all the distortions of propagandists and snake-oil salesmen are employed, absurd easily demonstrably wildly untrue positions are maintained: “that only one person has died from Chernobyl” and so on, this is desperation, the motivation seeming only to be stringing out wrong career choices for a few more years, and leaving whoever is unwise to follow them to grapple with the ethical and practical contraindications of dosing entire populations with radioactive materials.

    It is not just obvious things like cancer, leukiemia, there are growing numbers, nearing epidemic, with inexplicable conditions like chronic fatigue, huge increases in autoimmune disorders and in endocrinological dysfunction affecting hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid (the HPT axis), pineal gland, and many more, including pancreas, not only manifesting in diabetes: high blood glucose, but in huge numbers with hypoglycaemic conditions, default too low b.g and other failures in maintaining homeostasis, both over and underproduction of insulin and glucagon and of either of resistance to the effects of these to over-reaction to them, with resultant spikes and dips. There must be some powerful wide environmental factor that accounts for these conditions global rise.

    I will not credit your contention that radiation exposure cannot be malign as population has and still is increasing through the exposure, as if no other factors of which there are an almost limitless number, could have huge effects on population numbers and growth, classically food supply for one, can account for this, it is such a specious an argument for no harm that it is hard not to snigger at its absurdity and seemingly earnest submission.

    As to the Inquisition however I won’t submit, it is too nice a day I have things to do outside, I must do whatever while I can, and there is so much left undone. Plus I won’t be trolled or hounded, it is for those (you) proposing needlessly using the wreckage of the human race further as unwilling guinea pigs for experimentation, re-shuffling the dna pack, for ego or profit or sadism, to justify it, something not just difficult but impossible without sleight of hand.

  29. Tony M, my intention isn’t an inquisition of you, and from your fifth paragraph:

    “I will not credit your contention that radiation exposure cannot be malign”

    radiation exposure is most definitely malign. I’ll try and explain my position.

    I remember the Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor (AGR) vs. Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) debate going on when I was a lad. I developed a strong distrust of PWRs. It seemed to me to be an inherently dangerous design, but I mustn’t rule out the possibility that I was affected by pro-AGR propaganda from the BBC.

    PWRs won the contracts (under Maggie, I think) and the AGR project was discontinued. Since all nuclear power seemed to be PWRs (I discovered BWRs later, but they’re just as bad), I wrote off nuclear power and didn’t think about it for years.

    It was some questions in the comments on one of Craig’s posts that made me think again. Angrysoba asked me why I objected to nuclear power, and I explained why I regard PWRs as prone to blowing up and/or melting down. Angrysoba said fair enough, but would I still object to a method that seemed safe in principle. That got me looking and I discovered the Molten Salt Reactor principle, and the fuel inefficiency of solid-fuelled reactors which leads to the “spent” fuel disposal problem.

    Once I understood about “spent” fuel I realised that a decision needs to be made; what’s to be done with the so-called waste? Even if I’m decided that all nuclear activity is environmentally detrimental, I still need to evaluate and compare the probable outcomes of burying radioactive “waste” as it is, or putting it in a reactor and converting it to fission products.

    So this inquisition is essentially benign. If you have some good reason for regarding nuclear contamination as an existential threat, I want to know what it is; I want to understand it so I can take it into consideration. We have to do something with the “spent” fuel; either destroy it, bury it, or leave it festering in spent fuel ponds. We have to choose the course that combines greatest safety and least harm, rather than the course that’s easiest to (not) think about.

    And that’s my one criticism of the anti-nuclear campaigners. I regard anti-nuclear as an entirely valid position (though not my own), but too many campaigners seem reluctant to think from realistic perspectives. Nuclear waste is not going to disappear just because we ignore it. To decide what to do with it we need to quantify the risks realistically. If our working assumption reads “all nuclear risk must be treated as infinitely dangerous” it becomes impossible to make rational decisions about solving the problems that have already been created.

  30. The molten salt reactor has a particular appeal to me. If it turns out that cooking the waste down is safer than burying it, well, it still has 98% of its nuclear energy left in it (which is why it’s radioactive), and we have a looming energy shortage and global warming.

    Being such a war-making species has given us a problem. Due to war and threat of attack, nuclear technology was developed recklessly fast. The decision is hard to fault; each side thought they’d best take risks or another side would achieve world domination through nuclear technology. That a balance of power was established and that only the first two nuclear weapons were ever used in anger suggests that the decision could have been for the best. I write that even though I’ve always campaigned against nuclear weapons, but it is unique in human history, so far as I know, that a superior weapon has been developed and yet all sides have exercised restraint in its use.

    The fast development led to consequences that our technology was too immature to deal with. We made a mess that we were too inexperienced to clear up, and no “cosmic parents” are going to arrive and solve our problem for us.

  31. AlcAnon, I think I’ve twigged something about MSRs that the proponents are reluctant to mention. I think its thermal coefficient of reactivity might be positive in part of the operating range; see the section Safety on this page:

    A positive coefficient of reactivity contributed to Chernobyl blowing up, and in the US it’s now illegal to build a reactor with a positive coefficient. It couldn’t make an MSR explode because MSRs aren’t pressurised, but it could make the reactor prone to sudden temperature rises and difficult to hold at a steady power output. That would fit with what the engineer was saying in the video at ORNL you linked to; the temperature would rise, and then fall, repeating in a cycle. I got the impression that they used the control rods to counteract this effect; I’ll watch it again with this point in mind.

  32. Just because I am not replying to Phil and his accusations of me being a ‘racial identifier’ which I deny categorically, does not mean that I accept them. I have no intention of entering into a discussion with him on anti-Semitism on this blog.

    I am NOT anti semitic. I am anti Zionist Israel for their crimes against the Palestinian people. If Phil had a close relative like mine who has twice come near to death by the Israelis when visiting Palestine, he might think differently about Israel.

    Remember he started this off about my comment with the Osborne cocaine and black prostitute item. Then he moved on to Jewishness. What is his agenda? Who is Phil?

  33. Ben, but the “spent” fuel remains. This is what I have a problem with – people decide “nuclear is a bad thing” and then put the matter out of their minds; they’ve found a solution that they personally regard as best, and they’re glad not to have to think about it any further. But the “spent” fuel remains.

    So we just bury it? Is that best? If disarmament ever proceeds, how do we dispose of weapons cores?

    The unpalatable fact is that the only sector that can safely decommission the nuclear industry is the nuclear industry itself. “Stop doing nuclear” as a democratic instruction would be irresponsible to implement.

  34. Mary, I’ve met Phil twice. The first time was a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London; Nevermind was with me. The second was recent; Phil came to visit my place, he brought his telescope and we did some stargazing. Phil seems an entirely genuine socialist-anarchist, whose argument style can seem hostile at times.

    I understand Phil’s point about divide-and-rule, and I understand your position too, that much pro-Israeli influence operates covertly through political Zionism and an associated section of the Jewish community. There’s no good compromise, there’s no level of scrutiny that can’t be labelled as “anti-Semitic” from one side, and simultaneously regarded as turning a blind eye to Zionist interests from the other.

    It’s the damn polarisation of thought problem again. Look at Tony M’s comment of July 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm: I’m not particularly pro nor anti nuclear power; I’m in favour of destroying the nuclear waste, but Tony M seems to have identified me as a threat, that I could only have such an interest if I was utterly reckless about the the future of life on Earth. The fact that I’ve bothered to learn about isotopes, radiation and decay-chains becomes evidence in itself that I’m tending towards the “wrong side”, and so ignorance becomes a badge of honour.

    In every debate, the middle ground becomes a battlefield. Off in the wings, relative peace prevails; there are groups within which the members share similar assumptions, but the groups don’t really engage with each other over their disagreements. Each attacks the position they believe their opposition to hold, not seeing that their belief is based upon their own assumptions. Any member questioning the assumptions is likely to be thrown out, as I’m likely to be soon for being insufficiently prejudiced against something vaguely labelled as “nuclear”.

    On Wikipedia they have a rule about this: “Assume Good Faith”. They’ll ban editors for breaking it enough times.

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