A blog by Patrick Crozier


March 31, 2003

Who do you want to win the war?
Patrick Crozier

That is the question David Blunkett (UK Home Secretary) asked of Robin Cook (all-round Labour sleazeball and leader of the party's Anti-War faction.)

It is difficult not to enjoy Mr Cook's discomfiture but there is an important issue here: what happens if there is a future war that you oppose? How should you answer the question?

It seems to me that if you believe a war to be wrong then you believe it wrong that our troops are fighting it and that therefore you must hope we lose. That seems a consistent position.

It just doesn't sound good.

Which is bad because if they are indeed consistent, the pre-War statement "I oppose the War" and the in-War statement "I hope we lose" should sound the same.

Surely I'm missing something?

March 30, 2003

Actually that Luttwak article...
Patrick Crozier

...gets even better (see, I hadn't read it fully before posting).

He makes the point that the reason we can't bear casualties is because with the decline in the birth rate, nowadays families typically only have one male child. But if that is true and it is also true that Third World (including Arab) birth rates are declining then doesn't that tend to imply that the urge to war will come to an end through entirely natural processes? In other words, the current war is no more than a cork bobbing up and down on a demographic tide.

Sometimes, when I am in one of my darker moods I wonder if all this banging on about politics (with the aim of changing things) isn't all a complete waste of time and that politics is controlled by far deeper cultural forces over which we have absolutely no control. All we politicos can ever hope to do is to give some sort of moral imprimatur to something that was inevitable.

Are you prepared to use nukes?
Patrick Crozier

Interesting article by Edward Luttwak in the Telegraph. The key paragraph is this:

Long ago, Karl von Clausewitz, the supreme theoretician of war, explained why every attempt to prettify its essential violence with inconsistent acts of moderation, every refusal to use maximum force when it can be purposeful and no mere rampage, adds to the human costs of war by extending its cruelties and deprivations, and even more by delaying the arrival of the desired peace that is the only possible goal of any rational war.

I am impressed he's managed to read Clausewitz. But the real point here is about how much violence you are prepared to use. Are we prepared to use nukes? Personally, I think that question is not a bad litmus test for war. If you are not prepared to use nukes, don't fight.

March 29, 2003

Round 2: Meet with v. Meet
Patrick Crozier

In the context of a meeting with someone you have met before. I have to say I find "meet with" absolutely ghastly. It sounds dreadfully lame. But on the other hand it does seem useful. There is a difference between encountering someone for the first time ("meet") and encountering them on another occasion ("meet with"). And if us Brits can have "a meeting with" someone (see above) why can't we "meet with" someone?

Loath as I am to admit it I think the points are going to have to go to the Americans.

US win

US 2 - UK 0

March 27, 2003

Do we have to take Baghdad?
Patrick Crozier

It's pretty easy to see the downside - mainly in the form of Coalition casualties. And if the aim is to deprive terrorists of Iraqi-supplied WMD then controlling the countryside and laying siege to Baghdad should be sufficient. If, on the other hand, the aim is regime change/liberation it's a different story...

March 26, 2003

On being Anti-War
Patrick Crozier

From Public Interest.

I suppose there are two roads to travel for your average paxophile at the moment. One, you speak gobbledygook. Two, you go paranoid. I guess it's all just a matter of temperament...

March 25, 2003

A Crazy World
Patrick Crozier

From Wicked Thoughts.

You know the world is going crazy when...

Idiot of the Day
Patrick Crozier

From Photon Courier. Or why stupid comments when repeated often enough matter.

Just look at this
Patrick Crozier

Command Post.jpg
This is Command Post's site meter graph for the last week. Have you ever seen such a straight line? This is quite phenomenal. I wouldn't be surprised that when the history of this war is written CP doesn't get quite a mention. It is just possible that at this rate it will begin to rival Big Media. Even if it doesn't it is surely the biggest thing ever to hit the Blogosphere. Fantastic.

March 24, 2003

Sidewalk v Pavement
Patrick Crozier

They say "sidewalk"; we say "pavement". Frankly, I think there is no competition: "sidewalk" is miles better. It describes perfectly the object to which it refers: it's at the side (of the road) and you walk on it. "Pavement" on the other hand, well, what's that? Could be anything.

US win

US 1 - UK 0

March 23, 2003

Command Post has moved...
Patrick Crozier

... to here. The look and graphics are a bit pants but the content seems to be up to snuff. Which is the important thing.

A couple of extra sites
Patrick Crozier

...for while the war's on. First up the Command Post which is the Blogosphere's answer to rolling news.

Secondly, check out Protest Warrior and especially their Protest Gallery. And remember: Saddam only kills his own people.

March 22, 2003

British or American English: which is best?
Patrick Crozier

We are all aware of the differences between US and UK English - never more so now that we have the Blogosphere and that Trans-Atlantic ranting is a daily occurence. They say tomayto we say tomarto. They write humor we write humour.

The question is: which one is the better? And what better way to decide than to have a competition. So, from now on, every so often, I will take a pair of US/UK synonyms and totally objectively (well, as objectively as you can get for a British Imperialist who thinks American independence was a mistake) determine which synonym is the better.

I will be keeping score until such time as a clear winner emerges.

March 21, 2003

Waiting...
Patrick Crozier

...waiting...waiting. Earlier this week I was waiting for the War to start. I couldn't wait. I was desperately fidgety. And now the War has started. And now I can't wait for it to end or for at least some of the fog to clear.

Strange really. And strange how the Blogosphere seems muted at the moment. We have nothing to say. For the past eighteen months or so the Blogosphere has been banging on about what ought to happen... and now it is happening. We've served our purpose - if, indeed, we have had the slightest impact at all.

I really have nothing to say. On the outcome of this war hinges, well, everything - in a way that the first Gulf War never did. The outcome of this war (meaning how fast and how many dead, rather than the result which is a foregone conclusion) will, I believe, determine Britain's future - especially Britain's future - for a long time to come.

And there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

What's wrong with Formula One?
Patrick Crozier

Formula One ought to be one of the most exciting sports in the world. It has all the ingredients: speed, skill and technology. And yet, it's as boring as Hell.

Why is that?

Perhaps we should consider what an exciting Formula One would be like. It would be very fast. The technology would be inventive and cutting edge. Any team could harbour hopes of winning. And there would be lots of overtaking.

In addition it would be reasonably safe for driver and spectator. And it would be comprehensible.

Now, I can't fault Formula One on speed or safety - safety has improved massively over the years. It's just on everything else that it lets itself down.

There is almost no overtaking. As I understand it one of the principal reasons for this is the air flow at the back of a modern Formula One car. In years gone by this was relatively "clean" allowing pursuing cars to "slip stream". Nowadays, due to advances in aerodynamics, it is "dirty" meaning that the closer you get to the car in front the harder your own car becomes to control; so making overtaking difficult.

Technological innovation is appalling. F1 cars have barely changed in 10 years. And although changes have taken place, as I understand it most of them have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

Compare this with the period 1962-1982. Then you saw the introduction of spaceframe chassis, aerodynamic wings, side-pods, ground-effect aerodynamics and turbos. Tyrrell even experimented with a six-wheeler.

Many of the innovations of recent years such as: active suspensions, traction control, turbos and ground-effect aerodynamics have been banned. There are all sort of other rules. All of this hampers innovation.

This has had a serious knock-on effect. Whereas in 1982 McLaren, Renault, Williams, Ferrari and Brabham and a few others could all aspire to winning a Grand Prix, nowadays only Ferrari, Williams and McLaren can. For Williams and McLaren success typically only comes when Ferrari suffer a catastrophic disaster.

Blame the bans. Revolutionary technology is often cheap while evolutionary technology tends to be expensive. If the rules are so restrictive that you can only develop existing technology then that is bound to favour the richer teams.

Having said that, the bans have not been introduced entirely without reason. About 20 years ago Formula One technology outgrew the drivers. For 20 years it has been possible for a cornering Formula One car to produce such g-forces that the driver would become unconcious. That is not good. Ever since then the authorities have chosen to ban whatever technology threatens to make cars undrivable.

The final problem is comprehensibility. I cannot number the times when I have watched a Grand Prix where, say, David Coulthard has been in the lead, the cars have gone into the pits and Michael Schumacher has emerged in the lead. What happened there? Now, I wouldn't want to denigrate the very great efforts of those who work out pit stop tactics - but sport it ain't.

So, what would I do? I start with a caveat. I am not an F1 afficionado so I could easily be looking something obvious. But here are my ideas:

1. Introduce overtaking lanes. We have them on motorways - why not F1 tracks? Divide the track in two with a white line. Designate the faster lane as the slow lane and the slower lane as the overtaking lane. If you are unable to overtake you must drive in the slow lane. If you are able to overtake you may (though you don't have to) drive in the overtaking lane. If you touch the white line you suffer a 10 second stop-go penalty.

2. Ban the problem - not the technology. If g-forces are too high then ban high g-forces. Fit every car with a g-force meter (if such a thing exists.) Set a limit well within the ability of the human body to cope. If the limit is exceeded once again it's a 10-second stop-go penalty.

3. Ban pit stops. OK, there's a problem here: what if it rains? Well, in that case allow teams to change tyres. I am sure it is not beyond the ability of the organisers to work out if it is raining or not.