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I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Monday, September 16, 2019

I think they need a bigger sink... Or a smaller cat.
CK’s Adventures in YouTube(Land)

In the last 6-12 months I’ve been watching YouTube around an hour a day. It started by watching US news (mostly MSNBC and CNN) to try to get my head around what was happening over there. Inevitably it led on to commentary – by the likes of Brian Taylor Cohen and others. But it wasn’t just all US politics. There was my go to subject of History.

Two of the people I have found endlessly fascinating are The History Guy (who covers all kinds of forgotten history and Mark Felton Productions which covers (mostly) both world wars and (often) from an air perspective.

Then there’s Gaming. I’m playing (or rather re-playing) Borderlands 2 at the moment and this has been greatly enhanced by instructional videos from people like VinylicPumaGaming where I learnt the location (and methods) of so much Loot/Boss farming!

Then there’s TV shows I sampled before checking them out or buying the boxsets – like The Expanse, The Orville, ST: Discovery or The Boys.

Of course (as you’ve seen recently) there’s SO much music on YouTube that you could spend your days just listening/watching that.

Then there’s Movie/Art Crit from the likes of Nerdwriter1 where I’ve learnt LOTS of interesting things.

Then there’s the odd stuff (YouTube is chocked full of odd stuff) like the video I watched last night where a group of guys (I think from Eastern Europe) fired a variety of muskets into near contemporary laminated armour.

Then there’s one of my go to people of the moment – Beau of the 5th Column….. So many videos. So little time….. [lol] 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Saudi Arabia oil production reduced by drone strikes

From The BBC

14th September 2019

Saudi Arabia's oil production has been severely disrupted by drone attacks on two major oil facilities run by state-owned company Aramco, reports say. Sources quoted by Reuters and WSJ said the strikes had reduced production by five million barrels a day - nearly half the kingdom's output. The fires are now under control at both facilities, Saudi state media say. A spokesman for the Houthi rebel group in Yemen said it had deployed 10 drones in the attacks. The Saudis lead a Western-backed military coalition supporting Yemen's government, while Iran backs the Houthi rebels. The Houthi spokesman, Yahya Sarea, told al-Masirah TV, which is owned by the Houthi movement and is based in Beirut, that further attacks could be expected in the future. He said Saturday's attack was one of the biggest operations the Houthi forces had undertaken inside Saudi Arabia and was carried out in "co-operation with the honourable people inside the kingdom". TV footage showed a huge blaze at Abqaiq, site of Aramco's largest oil processing plant, while a second drone attack started fires in the Khurais oilfield.

"At 04:00 (01:00 GMT), the industrial security teams of Aramco started dealing with fires at two of its facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as a result of... drones," the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. "The two fires have been controlled." There have been no details on the damage but AFP news agency quoted interior ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki as saying there were no casualties. Later, the SPA reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had told US President Donald Trump in a telephone conversation that the kingdom was "willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression". The White House said Mr Trump had offered US support to help Saudi Arabia defend itself. The US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, John Abizaid, condemned the drone attacks. "These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost," he said. United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths described the attacks as "extremely worrying" in a statement in which he called on all parties in the Yemen conflict to exercise restraint. Abqaiq is about 60km (37 miles) south-west of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, while Khurais, some 200km further south-west, has the country's second largest oilfield. Saudi security forces foiled an attempt by al-Qaeda to attack the Abqaiq facility with suicide bombers in 2006.

[OK. This sounds like something straight from the science-fiction novels I was reading in the 80’s and 90’s. A down at heel rebel force using advanced technology to take down an advanced nation by attacking their infrastructure as the world looks on bewildered….. You have to wonder what other non-state actors have in mind in years to come….. Better get back reading those cyberpunk novels if I want to keep ahead on the news cycle!] 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Just Finished Reading: The Best of Benn – Speeches, Diaries, Letters, and Other Writings Edited by Ruth Winstone (FP: 2014)

I’ve long had a high opinion of Tony Benn who was a long standing Labour MP who was not only a real Socialist (unlike the faux socialism of New Labour) but was a man who lived his beliefs no matter what fashion or spin doctors advised. Here was a man who not only gave up his hereditary peerage when his father died (in order to remain an MP and not be shunted into the House of Lords) but fought tooth and nail for the right to be a commoner and forced a change in the law to do so. This was a man (sadly now deceased) who not only talked the talk – very well indeed – but most certainly walked the walk. It would be a very brave person indeed who accused Tony Benn of political hypocrisy.

Knowing actually little about him biographically (apart from the day to know knowledge you pick up by watching a politician in action on the TV) I thought this book would be a good place to start. I certainly learned much about his life – training to be a fighter pilot during WW2, losing his elder brother in the fighting after D-Day, his political life post-war, the fight to stay an MP – and so on but also learnt much about his core beliefs (some of which I did not agree with) including workers councils in the then Nationalised Industries as well as worker participation in electing the captains of industry in the Private Sector (an interesting idea though I have no idea how that would work in practice), his objection to joining the European Union (then called the EEC) and especially his objection to joining the Single Currency (both of which had some impact on my views but not enough to change my pro-Europe stance) and much besides. Using extracts from his voluminous diaries, newspaper articles, speeches (both inside and outside Parliament) and extracts from other sources the editor tried to get at the heart of Benn’s life and thought. Although she did a pretty good job I still felt so distance from both. I could certainly hear his voice come through (having heard it many times over the years) but I did really feel that I was skimming the surface of things where I was looking for something deeper.

What the book did do was to prompt me to read more about the man and the era he helped to shape before the age of Tony Blair erupted upon us. I’m intending to read much more on the 1970’s and 80’s in the next year or so and Tony Benn will, I think, show up in references throughout the period. If you’re looking for some additional insight into this iconic socialist this is a pretty good place to be. But as an introduction to the man and his ideas it left me feeling I was still on the starter and waiting for the main course. One for aging British socialists only I feel. But at least I’m prompted to read further which is no bad thing.