A wilding

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  1. I would suggest also Undertones of War by Edmund Blunden. It was written mostly as self therapy and gives a very good impression of what it must have been like to be on the Western Front. I think it is available online.
  2. I was a little underwhelmed by his The Second World War. It was too big a subject for him I thought. His style works best when he can easily cover both the overall story of events and give lots of anecdotal stuff of what it was like for individual people involved. Generally Stalingrad and its thematic sequel Berlin: the Downfall are generally considered his masterpieces I think.
  3. Another of my trigger points: There are basically two options in the UK other than the NHS. 1) Pay for services as you use them. This basically is only practicable for the top 0.1% (which obviously includes all those Tory Grandees who want to get rid of the NHS). 2) Pay insurance to one of the private health care providers and hope. Probably about the top 10% can afford this (or get it as a job perk). In practice, in my opinion and anecdotal experience, lack of regulation makes this is little better than a scam. The companies will happily take 3 digit premiums per month, and provide certain limited services, but if you develop anything expensive they will do all they can to avoid paying for it and also to try to get you off their books entirely. Even when they do provide services, there tends to be very little depth to their expertise - you hear stories of patients being rushed to NHS casualty because something has gone wrong.
  4. I think it is not so much that "the public models are generally not running at ideal efficiency", more that ideologues have managed to convince people that they were not, or to bribe people with shares, or to run them into the ground and say there is then no alternative, or just plain ignore public opinion (where was the public support for the privatisation of British Rail, for example?). And in practice the private profit-making model is not just "less efficient" because of the demand to make a profit. I think it would be difficult to identify anything privatised in the UK in the last 20 years or so that is doing better than in public hands. The all-to-typical model is that of a monopolistic privatised company passing through a succession of hands that each do the absolute minimum of maintenance and development, sell off everything possible, load it up with debt, and run rings round unsupported regulators who are pushed into allowing price rises way above inflation, all while siphoning off obscene amounts of money as profits.
  5. Interesting to compare the land versus sea lessons learnt from the US Civil War though. For example the Royal Navy had observers at the Battle of Hampton Roads (Monitor vs Merrimac) and immediately and correctly deduced that the day of wooden warships was done. Other navies were not far behind. Okay, this had already been suspected, and was possibly more obvious than the defensive advantages technology was giving land based warfare ...
  6. Simon, I feel for you too, especially as I have a family member somewhat like that who also has mental issues. (Though not my Mum!) My advice, learned the hard way, is also that the key thing is to set boundaries and stick to them no matter what they do (or try to get other family members to do). And *never* put yourself in a position where you are relying on them to do anything, even something they have agreed to do.
  7. There is a cartoon out there somewhere. A couple of aliens are standing in front of Trump's desk in the Oval Office. The caption is "Ha ha. Very funny. Now take us to your real leader."
  8. The Atrocity Archive, first published in 2001, involves an obscure Islamic terrorist group, capable of thinking out the box, who unfortunately for themselves come up with idea of summoning up a Cthulhu-like monster. After 9/11 his publishers insisted on a last minute change to the name of the terrorist group, which was originally "Al-Qaeda".
  9. We will never know now .... Obligatory XKCD: https://xkcd.com/1919/
  10. You just have to arrange for your probe to be there at the time and place it goes through the ecliptic plane, Tricky maths, but simple in principle.
  11. You could do a flyby though. (As in that probe early in Rendezvous With Rama.) It is just a rendezvous that would be really difficult,
  12. Why should they have reformed it? They had plenty of slaves to do the counting for them.
  13. Arrgh, wrong thread.
  14. Wasn't Jeyne a Westerling rather than a Frey? It is possible that Lady Stoneheart may not be fully aware of the Westerling treachery, especially as Jeyne's brother Raynald is assumed to have been murdered by the Freys at the Red Wedding. She might consider Jeyne as being on her side, especially given the pregnancy possibility.
  15. Scary anecdotal evidence though: My Daily Mail reading aunt still thinks that Boris is a Great Man who would make a superb prime minister, and has swallowed his comments whole and taken them as evidence that Brexit was a good idea after all. She now confidently expects the NHS to get all this extra money and to be sorted out. (She had some personal experience of it recently that forced her to admit that it is somewhat stretched, though her main complaint seems to have been how low class most of her fellow patients were.) Still it does serve to give some insight into how western democracy has got in its current state. And hopefully there are not that many people like her left.