Category: History

Regular Numbers and Plimpton 322

OldTrout, Going Postal
Plimpton 322 is a Babylonian clay tablet, notable as containing an example of Babylonian mathematics. It has number 322 in the G.A. Plimpton Collection at Columbia University. This tablet, believed to have been written about 1800 BC, has a table of four columns and 15 rows of numbers in the cuneiform script of the period.

There are trigonometric arguments for interpretation of Plimpton 322 and a number-theoretic argument by Neugebauer.

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Who will sing for England


I watched a documentary about The Proclaimers over the New Year. I take an interest in musicians and how they achieve success in the creative field. I’m not over-judgemental and try to find aspects to admire even if I don’t like the final product. Hence I can appreciate the clever construction of a song or piece of music which is not to my taste at all. I exclude the tuneless Bananarama from this. For those of you who do not know, The Proclaimers are a couple of identical Scottish twins who burst onto the scene with great energy (a must-have in my book) in the late 80s with their anthemic song “I’m gonna be”, which most will know better as “500 miles”. They arrived as something different in the music landscape, heavily influenced by punk, folk music and the musical political activism of Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners (“Come on Eileen”.) They made a deliberate decision to sing in their broad Leith accents. In the documentary they came across as intelligent, articulate and rather dour, by no means an unwelcome attribute in these days of emotional incontinence. Talking heads were wheeled out to show that the band generated a strong Scottish fan base, not least by openly espousing the cause of Scottish independence. Krankie described how they had radicalised her and many of her generation. As we know, their intervention was not decisive on the 55:45 vote which, much like Brexit, apparently remains open to “interpretation”. Nevertheless, the twins produced a pivotal song called “Cap in Hand”. Here is the chorus:

But I can’t understand why we let someone else rule our land
We’re cap in hand.

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Operation Black Buck – The Swansong of the British Nuclear Bomber

Blown Periphery, Going Postal
The last gasp before the attack. Victor tanker refuels Victor tanker in an electrical storm. Vulcan 607, BLACK BUCK One stands off waiting her turn.

At 0400 Local on 1st May 1982, the population under curfew of a now filthy and stinking Port Stanley, were roused from their beds by the visceral thumps of just over nine tons of high explosives from the direction of the town’s airport. After the explosions came the roar of four Olympus turbojet engines, that shook the Capital’s wooden buildings and random gunfire was heard all over the town and surrounding area. To the occupied citizens of Port Stanley it meant one thing. The war to free them and oust the Argentine invaders had begun. To the Royal Air Force it was the culmination of an incredibly complex engineering and logistics plan. Thirteen Victor tanker aircraft had flown south with two Vulcan bombers, to attack the airfield at Port Stanley. To the aeronautical experts it meant that an aircraft designed in the 1940s, which had first entered service in 1956 and was due to be retired, had just carried out the longest bombing raid in history to that date.

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Marx and Immigration

Popinjay, Going Postal
Extreme far-right, anti-immigration, little Englander Karl Marx

The Labour Party is currently led by Jeremy ‘Marxism is a philosophy for all time’ Corbyn, and John ‘Let me be straight with you, I am a Marxist’ McDonnell. Both are fanatically in favour of open borders, but what did their intellectual hero say about the economic benefits of the free movement of Labour, and who reaps the rewards, and who loses out?

Well, in Das Kapital, Marx notes that slave owners have to look after their slaves if they are going to make a profit from their labour, unless there are cheaply available slaves as  a result of a flourishing slave trade, in which case they can work their slaves to death and replace them.

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Quite often we hear how nationalism is dangerous. Bad. Wrong. It has negative connotations, and is associated with both the world wars. If you want to see how far the SJW poison has spread google nationalism. Negative images and Nazi flags abound. Yet nationalism is rising across the world. Brexit and Trump are two clear examples. Also, nationalist governments have been elected in Austria, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. Catalonia has a separatist movement that appears to be growing in strength. So is nationalism really that bad? And why is it on the rise?

A Look Back at History

Let us examine World War One. Surely the clearest case that shows nationalism is bad? Different countries, each with a notion of their superiority, squaring up to each other and being belligerent. Eventually it spilled over in to open war. But was it really nationalism? Most of the countries involved had some kind of Empire. Britain certainly did. France had overseas territories. Russia had a land empire, as did Austria Hungary. The Ottoman empire had held sway over the middle east, parts of North Africa and Europe. Germany had some colonies but badly wanted an empire. Britain was afraid of losing hers. Russia was always looking to expand, and draw in more Slavic peoples. The Ottomans wanted to win back territory, and vie for more land with Russia.

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War Crimes Part 11 – Moira’s Story

This is fiction. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental. The events outlined have never to my knowledge occurred. Some of the locations are real.

When Angela found Moira it was obvious that Moira had been crying. Her dark mascara had run from her eyes in blue streaks and those eyes were puffy and reddened. Even her hair looked slightly dull and listless, as though the spark had gone to be replaced with self-indulgent misery. She was sitting on the loading bay, pretending to smoke a cigarette. Moira was drawing in with a huge suck, the cigarette end glowing like the tip of an inquisitor’s poker, then she let out the smoke in gentle puffs, because it was obviously too hot for her oral membranes. Inhaling was out of the question.
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The Organ (ii)

Jethro, Going Postal


The accompanying image is taken from Dom Bedos’ ‘ l’art du Facteur d’ Orgues’ (1776), and shows, among other things, a single organ-blower, operating one of three ‘feeders’ – or possibly, pumping two of the levers together, while an Organist, using a Manual and the Pedals, is keeping a vigilant eye on the blower. There is a square-shaped ‘Conveyance’ to take the wind towards the pipes. Not, as it appears to be, on the wall, is a figure showing how the movement of a Pedal, through a series of levers – pull-downs, trackers, backfalls – will open the ‘Pallet’ (the dark block ‘b’), a sprung, leather-covered valve, that will allow wind into the ‘Windchest’, and to the relevant pipe, but with a ‘regulator’ interposed (‘17’), to act rather like the smoothing condenser capacitor in a power-supply, Again, as far as I know (‘despite Brexit’) the pressure is normally expressed in ‘inches of wind’(as it were, the Voltage), measured by the water-level in a simple U-tube manometer. Often, in a pipe-organ, the large amount of floor-space taken up by the instrument is because the Reservoir will be a very large set of bellows, the upper surface covered with cast-iron weights (often proudly bearing the Builder’s initials), perhaps assisted by a set of steel springs.

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Operation Paraquet The Recapture of South Georgia 25th April 1982

Blown Periphery, Going Postal

Despite the ongoing diplomatic talks brokered by the Americans, it was important that the British were seen to be resolute in providing a military response to back up diplomacy. Very few within the British War Cabinet were hopeful that diplomatic talks in the United Nations would remove the Argentine forces from the Falkland Islands, so as well as talking softly, there was a requirement to wield a big stick. It seemed as though the recapture of South Georgia would send a suitable message to the Argentine leadership, and prove to the military Junta that the Task Force sailing south meant business.
Admiral John Fieldhouse in Northwood Headquarters and staff officers from 3 Commando Brigade planned the operation, which would involve elements of 42 Commando, having recently completed Arctic warfare training in Norway. Major Guy Sheridan, an experienced mountaineer would lead the operation and M Company plus medical and support staff would provide the bayonet strength of 132 men. Sheridan requested support from the Royal Marines’ Arctic and Mountain Warfare Cadre, but instead was given support from 19 (Mountain) Troop from D Squadron Special Air Service (SAS) then based on Ascension Island. As it happened the whole of D Squadron comprising not only the Mountain Troop, but also 16 (Mobility) Troop, 18 (Air) Troop and 17 (Boat) Troop along with the Squadron HQ all joined the force at Ascension. Finally, 2 Troop, Special Boat Squadron (2 SBS) and, as requested by Sheridan, two Naval Gunfire Forward Observation Parties (NGFOs) also joined the task group.
The assault teams were distributed among the ships of Task Force 317, which sailed from Ascension on 11th April 1982. The ships were the Frigate HMS Plymouth, The Destroyer HMS Antrim, the Tanker RFA Tidespring the submarine SSN Conqueror, which also carried the team from the SBS. The task force rendezvoused with HMS Endurance on 14th April, while the Conqueror raced ahead silently and submerged.
The submarine arrived off South Georgia on 17th April and set about its patrol and information gathering. The Conqueror was to prevent any ships from reinforcing the Argentine garrison, by any means the captain deemed appropriate. The gloves were off. On 20th April a Handley Page Victor tanker aircraft took off from Ascension Island and headed south on a lonely 7,000 mile round trip to South Georgia. Once on station, the aircraft conducted a reconnaissance and confirmed the Conqueror’s report that there were no ships within the vicinity of the island.

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The Great Brexit Betrayal

Guardian Council, Going Postal

I ought to warn you, Dear Reader, for this is a conspiracy theory. It has no basis in facts apart from my thoughts and observations and I’m going to present my case without a shred of empirical evidence; although I do assume that the evidence is out there just waiting to be found. But do also be warned, please, that only because it’s a conspiracy theory doesn’t mean there isn’t also a conspiracy.

Let’s cast our minds back to the 23rd of June 2016, when surprisingly enough the British people democratically decided to leave the European Union in the largest exercise of their free will so far – and dare I say for ever, for any plebiscite is indeed unlikely to be repeated now that everyone knows just how dangerous referendums can be.

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War Crimes Part 10 – SERE and the RAF Loadmaster’s Story

Blown Periperphy, Going Postal
This is fiction.  Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental.  The events outlined have never to my knowledge occurred.  Some of the locations are real. 

The Nimrod MR4A had been replaced by a USAF Rivet Joint flying out of Incirlik in Turkey.  The updated Boeing 707 was in a gentle holding pattern, 35,000 feet above Falluja.  It was monitoring cell phone traffic and tens of thousands of bytes of data could be processed every few seconds, the sensors’ electronic brains programmed to detect certain key words and phrases.  CIA trained interpreters would listen in to calls of interest.

Three consoles down towards the less glamorous rear of the aircraft, signals from two Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) suddenly appeared and were beamed back to the aircraft from a geostationary satellite over the Persian Gulf, one of many.  The USAF Master Sergeant zoomed in her console to show Basra City and the surrounding waterways.  She notified her supervisor.

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