Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Russian mystery satellite? What mystery, it’s obvious

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the following story, and the portrayal of the Russian satellite’s behaviour as ‘mysterious’.

A mysterious Russian satellite displaying “very abnormal behaviour” has raised alarm in the US, according to a State Department official.

“We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it,” said assistant secretary Yleem Poblete at a conference in Switzerland on 14 August.

She voiced fears that it was impossible to say if the object may be a weapon.

Russia has dismissed the comments as “unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions”.

The satellite in question was launched in October last year.

“[The satellite’s] behaviour on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities,” Ms Poblete told the conference on disarmament in Switzerland.

Mystery Russian satellite’s behaviour raises alarm in US

Surely the solution to this supposed ‘mystery’ is obvious, and our American friend need only look to the north of Scotland to learn why the Russian satellite is moving to an odd position.

It’s angling to keep an eye on the upcoming…

Scottish spaceport

The fantasy view (as a vertical launch facility for microsatellites, it won’t look anything remotely like this fanciful artist’s impression).

Think more along the lines of a portacabin and a lump of concrete.

UK Space Agency Spaceport

UK Space Agency Spaceport

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August 17, 2018 Posted by | Cold War, military, Surveillance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Scot directs new film about Polish flyers in World War II

Having Polish roots, I came to learn of the Poles part in World War II after Hitler overran the country at the start of his ‘land grab’, and how Scotland came to figure in the lives of many Poles.

Many troops were based in Scotland after being displaced, stationed on the east coast, where there was always the possibility of a Nazi invasion routed via occupied Norway. Much of the coast was formed into a ‘Stop line’ to delay such an enemy incursion, which would allow time for troop movements to the area. Those on a Stop Line were almost certain to lose their lives, were it ever activated.

But their main active contribution was the part they played in the RAF, where their reputation as determined flyers became legendary.

Unfortunately (and note the use of ‘English’ in this quote):

These men were instrumental in winning the Battle of Britain yet in time-honoured English tradition, the majority of the population wanted them deported after the war – once they’d fulfilled their usefulness.

“Not unlike what we’re trying to do today with our catastrophic approach to immigration, the Windrush generation and so on.”

The source is a Scottish filmmaker has directed a new film about a squadron of Polish pilots who fought alongside the RAF at the Battle of Britain in World War II.

Hurricane is Johnstone-born David Blair’s first war feature.

Starring Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones fame, the film is about fliers who fought Nazi Germany after escaping to Britain from occupied Poland.

Flying Hurricane fighters for the RAF, they became a key component in the story of The Few.

Blair, who now lives near Moniaive in Dumfriesshire, said that while making the film he was struck by the Poles’ self-sacrifice.

He said: “I knew there had been Poles – amongst others, from around the world – serving in the British armed forces during World War Two but that was about it.

“As I was growing up, there was little inclination in history lessons to point up the contribution made by ‘foreigners’ to our war effort.”

Directing Hurricane, Blair said he learned of the exploits of Poles and service personnel from other parts of the world in Britain’s war-time activities.

He said: “It’s one thing to fight for a cause in a far away land but to do so while all sorts of horrors are taking place back home – of which you have only scant information – made the story heart-breaking – but irresistible too.

“What was taking place in Poland no doubt acted as a spur and incentive for the men to keep going.”

Scot directs new film on WW2 Polish fighters

Hawker Hurricane Charles Daniels Photo Collection

Hawker Hurricane Charles Daniels Photo Collection

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, military, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Today is Doughnut Day

01 June 2018 is Doughnut Day.

I’m afraid this is another of those ‘wandering’ days, as it falls on the first Friday of June.

Oh! See also Fish and Chip Day, which also falls on this day.

(Today is a VERY good day.)

The history of the doughnut isn’t definite, but it is known is that the holy (small ‘h’) appeared in the US during the mid-1800’s.

The story is that a chap named Hanson Gregory invented them as he hated the undercooked centre and greasiness of existing shapes and options, so he used a tin pepper box to punch out the centres, this allowing the remainder to cook evenly.

Sounds good to me.

I guess I’m pretty traditional, and my favourite doughnut is the plain type, sprinkled or coated with sugar – properly cooked through of course.

Just because it is CALLED a DOUGHnut does not mean it has to be served semi-raw, with half its insides uncooked.

It seems Doughnut Day is due, in part at least, to the efforts of a doctor (Morgan Pett) serving in the military during the first World War, and who wanted to brighten the day of the wounded soldiers he was treating (with a treat).

On his first day at work in a military base, he bought 8 dozen doughnuts and gave one to each soldier he worked on. After giving one to Lieutenant General Samuel Geary (who accepted it in good humour and appreciation for the doctors work, he decided to start a fundraiser, allowing the young doctor to continue to provide doughnuts to his patients.

He also began to work with the Salvation Army which, after a fact-finding mission, determined that the many needs of soldiers could be met by creating social centres to provide various amenities, including… doughnuts. The Salvation Army sent 250 volunteers to France to help put huts together for this purpose, and these soon became a mainstay of military life. On one record day, they recorded some 300 doughnuts and 700 cups of coffee being served. Due to the majority of the Salvation Army workers being female, they came to be known as “Doughnut Dollies.”

Doughnuts

Doughnuts

Those machines

I can’t let this one pass without a mention for the automatic doughnut making machine.

I’m not sure when these first appeared, but I was tiny.

They were a thing of joy to watch when on holiday, or having a day at the seaside.

The baker’s shop (and later snack shops and cafés on the front) put them in their shop windows (or beside the serving hatch if they were really small snack shops), and it was amazing to see the people crowd around the windows to watch the machines steadily churning out perfect doughnuts, and there were… perfect.

The cooked one side, then flipped them over mid-trip the delivery chute, and gave them time to drain properly too, so no greasy slops.

If you saw one of these machines running, you saw what you were getting.

June 1, 2018 Posted by | military, World War I | , | 2 Comments

James Keith Gorrie – ‘the nicest man in Glasgow’

There’s a lot of pics of items which can be found in Kelvingrove, but the vast majority are of the same subjects.

While I wouldn’t suggest there’s anything wrong with that, it is also true to say that there are many items I’ve never seen anyone take, or share, a picture of.

Case in point, the display pictured below.

James Keith Gorrie Kelvingrove

James Keith Gorrie Kelvingrove

March 17, 2018 Posted by | military, Naval, photography, World War II | | Leave a comment

Unexploded bombs – an article worth a read

Bomb

Bomb

Unexploded bombs, here mainly referring to ordnance left over and undiscovered since the end of the World Wars, feature in the news for various reasons.

Here, they tend to feature as coastal or sea find, as many thousands of unused munitions were dumped some way off the Scottish coast, intended to be ‘lost’ in deep water and sea trenches – but sea currents are fickle things, with their own minds, so some of these reappear from time to time. And it has been noted that not all dumps were necessarily made accurately, so there’s bound to be material that didn’t go down as intended. It’s also been admitted that some dumps were made early, as the crews were less than comfortable sailing in boats loaded with explosives.

Thankfully, most of these are small, and possibly not viable, but that doesn’t mean they might not be, so should be avoided and reported if seen. Many also contain chemicals that can burn, so even touching them is a ‘Bad Idea’ if they are leaking, and being incendiary devices, even if they don’t explode, if they do go off when disturbed, can do a lot of damage to a person.

As described in the article though, only about 90% of the bombs dropped actually went off, meaning that the of the remainder, those that hit the ground hard, and were able to bury themselves, went deep, and are generally only found when deep foundations are being dug for new buildings.

Small ones are dangerous of course, but nowhere near as dangerous as the largest, which can lead to the evacuation of large areas while they are dealt with.

The MoD told BBC Reality Check that around 10% of the bombs dropped over the UK during World War Two did not explode.

The typical German World War Two bomb was either 50kg or 250kg.

Larger bombs (500kg or 1,000kg) become more frequent towards the end of the war.

London City Airport is the site of the fourth 500kg bomb the MoD has dealt with in the last 15 months.

The others were: Bath (May 2016), Portsmouth (September 2016) and London (March 2017).

Via Unexploded bombs: How common are they?

February 16, 2018 Posted by | Lost, military, World War I, World War II | , | Leave a comment

Kentigern House – too far for many pics

I wonder if anyone ever notices Kentigern House on Argyle Street?

Not many, at least that’s my impression based on how many times I have come across snaps compared to other buildings.

Maybe just too far along from the city centre for most wanderers to reach.

Apparently I will go to ‘The Big Fire’ for even daring to suggest I like it. The local ‘architectural fashion police’ seem to think its horrible.

I guess I’m doubly doomed, since it’s a Ministry of Defence building (MoD), I’ll probably be ‘disappeared’ for taking pics.

I’m not really interested in the politics, but I recall reading it was supposed to see up to 6,000 jobs transferred here in the mid-1980s, probably as one of those plans forced on organisations by those who like to see jobs shared out for no good reason other than they think so. In the end, it seems less than 1,500 jobs came out of the move.

More interesting, there’s a sculpture mounted on one of the walls, just visible left of centre in the first pic below. This is based on the city’s coat of arms, in memory of St Kentigern, also known as St Mungo.

I really must remember to wander closer (or get a longer lens and avoid MoD security staff) and get a proper pic one day.

Kentigern House Brown Street

Kentigern House Brown Street

 

Kentigern House Argyle Street

Kentigern House Argyle Street

Sculpture

Purely out of curiosity, I thought I’d play with a clip of the sculpture, not too bad after a little editing magic, but I can’t really do anything quickly with a flagpole.

I really will have to get along there one day.

Kentigern House Sculpture

Kentigern House Sculpture

February 5, 2018 Posted by | military, photography | , , | Leave a comment

The Doomsday Clock is now at 2 minutes to midnight

It’s some years since I started watching The Doomsday Clock, and it was a little known finger on the pulse of how close we were to the ‘End of the World’.

It’s come to be better known today, so I seldom think about mentioning it, but since it has gone from moving slowly backwards and further from midnight, the past few years have been increasingly depressing, and far from the 17 minutes to midnight we once ‘enjoyed’, as per the title the clock has now advanced to be a mere 2 minutes from midnight.

I wonder how much of this advance is down to the ‘Orange Moron’?

See The Doomsday Clock Timeline

Doomsday Clock Summary

Doomsday Clock Summary

Via Doomsday Clock moved to just 2min to ‘apocalypse’

Who would have thought…

Having lived through the Cold War – anyone would be thinking it would be nice to be back in those days?

Seriously, at least we didn’t have two clearly mentally unstable nut jobs in control of nuclear weapons (and one who has no understanding of climate change and is actively thwarting attempts to reign it in), while another superpower leader is effectively sitting on the sidelines, and would appear to be happy to let the idiots fight it out, and wait to just step in and take over as neither would be able to offer any effective resistance.

January 25, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War, military | | Leave a comment

I still beat old tired hacks to good stories

Although I’ve drifted away from most media related material, I used to like spotting viral or mainstream media material days before some tired old hack, probably desperately looking for stuff to go running to their editor in the hope of winning a cheque in return, spotted the same items.

Last week I spotted a drone ‘scare video’ produced around the idea that AI would be out to ‘Kill Us’ if we didn’t ban such things as so-called Killer Robots.

Notable since it used sunny EDINBURGH as the setting for its dystopian assassination scenes.

It’s taken almost a week, but someone at the BBC eventually raised the appearance of this video – and its setting.

Try harder… we’ll wait for you 🙂

Edinburgh used for ‘killer drone’ film

Little Red Drone

Little Red Drone

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, military, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Will baby SCROTUS throw a tantrum if his toys are taken away?

As an outside observer, I’m amazed (or am I?) that the people of the US have allowed this orange moron to stay in power for so long, and make them look so stupid.

From the days of the Cold War, I had gained the impression the President of the United States had the authority to launch a nuclear strike without asking anybody, or having to seek approval.

Sadly, it seems my impression was correct, and ‘The Button’ is his to press if he so wishes.

I think I felt safer during the Cold War, when we had people like Stanislov Petrov looking after us.

One can only hope that those who might receive the order today, and actually have to initiate the final launch from the silos, have some sense of responsibility, and are not mindless automatons, despite their training and commitment. Or, consider the reality of a ‘Legal Order’ (see Update below).

See These Women Are the Last Thing Standing Between You and Nuclear War

For the first time in over 40 years, Congress has examined a US president’s authority to launch a nuclear attack.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing was titled Authority to Order the Use of Nuclear Weapons.

Some senators expressed concern that the president might irresponsibly order a nuclear strike; others said he must have the authority to act without meddling from lawyers.

The last time Congress debated this issue was in March 1976.

In August, Mr Trump vowed to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea if it continued to expand its atomic weapons programme.

Last month, the Senate committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Bob Corker, accused the president of setting the US “on a path to World War 3”.

Via Senate committee questions Trump nuclear authority

Big Poopy Baby

Big Poopy Baby

Update

There was an interesting article that appeared AFTER I noted this: US nuclear chief would resist ‘illegal’ presidential strike order

The top nuclear commander in the US says he would resist any “illegal” presidential order to launch a strike.

Air Force Gen John Hyten, said as head of the US Strategic Command he provided advice to a president and expected that a legal alternative would be found.

His comments come just days after US senators discussed a president’s authority to launch a nuclear attack.

Some of them expressed concern that President Donald Trump might irresponsibly order such a strike.

Others though said a president must have the authority to act without meddling from lawyers. It was the first such hearing in more than 40 years.

While Senators and expert witnesses agree the president has full authority to defend the nation, commentators have pointed out that because there is no all-encompassing definition of “imminent attack”, the president is not given an entirely free hand.

“I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do,” Gen Hyten said.

“And if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to say: ‘Mr President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works.

“It’s not that complicated,” Gen Hyten added.

He added: “If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life.”

President Trump has not publicly commented on Gen Hyten’s remarks.

He’s probably waiting for somebody to draw them for him, in pictures.

Coincidence!

I featured Baby Poopy Trump on:

World Toilet Day

ROFL

November 19, 2017 Posted by | Cold War, military | , , , , | Leave a comment

Well, that’s Edinburgh off my list!

Just kidding of course, but it was interesting to see Edinburgh chosen as the setting for the assassination sequence in this campaigning video fantasy.

It’s also a shame that those who think a simple ban is the solution to emergent AI technology and the dangerous uses it can be turned to.

It’s rather like the near total ban we now have on firearms in Scotland – yet for some strange reason reports of firearms being used in crimes continue to appear in the media, and our police are now carrying more guns as a matter of course.

Calls for a ban on AI are about as sensible (and effective) as the firearms ban, and represent the ill-informed knee-jerk reaction to a real problem, which needs a properly thought out system applied.

This chap has a better approach, but I doubt anyone who has an agenda to win votes, or be ‘liked’ will pay any attention to his words:

I’m a pacifist, so why don’t I support the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots?

This video has high production values, but still reeks of fantasy and exaggeration intended to evoke an emotional rather than considered response.

Still wonder why they framed their shots to make Edinburgh clearly and easily identifiable as the setting.

 

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, military, Surveillance | , , | Leave a comment

Poles in Dalmarnock beat stars in Glasgow

Unfortunately for their fans, although I’ve recently come across quite a few shared photos and stories of Glasgow streets being converted to American streets to allow filming of their next blockbuster, I couldn’t care less about most people introduced to me as ‘celebrities’ nowadays, so I can’t tell you the ‘Who, What, or Where’ behind this.

But the media’s noses were stuck to their backsides, so I’m sure the details will be easy enough to find in online news articles.

Although I’ve never actively followed up this thought, I’ve always wanted to go catch some pics of the Polish community I’m immersed in within the east end of Glasgow.

I did start this a few years ago, collecting a number of Polish shops that had been open in the east end for some time, but I decided I had left it too late, as the number was growing and I realised I was finding many more than even I had expected, and that even more were opening as I covered the area. Since I knew I’d be missing many (and new ones as they opened) I gave this up as I’d wanted to catch most of them, but realised it wasn’t going to be possible, at least not without more effort than it was worth (I don’t get paid enough).

I seldom walk along the street without hearing conversations in Polish, and when I’m in any of the Lidl stores I can reach, it’s rare to overhear a conversation in English – you may even recall a news article that broke a few months ago, where Lidl staff were ordered NOT to speak in Polish (which I think was ridiculous – I never spotted a follow-up, and still wonder if that was even legal).

Lest anyone think this is somehow racist, or wants to try to twist this observation (and post) into some sort of racist issue (this has happened in the past, when one clown kept accusing me of all sorts of fantasies they made up), nothing could be further from my mind. For what it’s worth (not a lot since I’m 100% Glasgow born and bred), I’ve discovered I’m Polish, but thanks to that nice Mr Stalin and his postwar victimisation of Poles who joined and fought with the Allies, it seems my family went into hiding to avoid having all they owned being seized at best, or being shot at worst.

I found I should really have been able to speak Polish and German (as well as Glaswegian), but this never happened as it might have given ‘us’ away.

I’d love to be able to listen in on all those conversations. (Yes, I’m sneaky that way).

Rather than see America in Glasgow, I prefer to see Poles (or poles even), or Poland in Dalmarnock, where there are sometimes quite a few ‘imported’ foreign registered vehicles to be found on the streets, and you have to look twice, to make sure you have not been teleported while not looking.

Poles In Dalmarnock

Poles In Dalmarnock

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, military, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

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