Archive for March, 2012

The book I read to research this post was Osama Bin Laden by Michael Scheuer which is an excellent book which I borrowed from the library. Scheuer was head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit so he ought to be quite knowledgeable about Osama & it does say in the book he tried to present a realistic picture in which I think he has been successful. Osama Bin Laden was named after Osama Bin Zaed a Muslim saint. His mother was a slave to his father until 1962 when Saudi Arabia abolished slavery & they married soon after. His father was extremely wealthy mainly from his construction company but when young had been extremely poor. He was a self made man. When Osama was very young his father died & he became very close to his mother. He was schooled mostly in Saudi Arabia & the schools were considered fairly moderate. In fact even when he went to Afghanistan to fight the Russians he was considered a moderate Muslim. It’s thought the Israeli 6 Day War & the trouble in Palestine did a lot to give him the more extreme views. The fact that the Afghan Muslims defeated Russia in Afghanistan & the Soviet economy almost collapsed made him think Muslims with God on their side were unbeatable. He wanted the whole world to become Muslim & use Shariah Law. According to this book the idea that Osama was just a figurehead of Al Quaeda was a load of rubbish. Also the idea that he was in poor health had no evidence to support it. Some people claimed that he visit a hospital for dialysis treatment & that a portable dialysis machine was taken to him again there’s no evidence to support that. When America invaded Afghanistan & he had to escape through the mountains to Pakistan, he knew them mountains better than anybody. Also he was very fit, he had been trained in a Muslim insurgents training camp which was similiar to the military. The aim of these camps was that you could fight anywhere be it the USA, Chechnya or Afghanistan.

The book I read to research this post was Seal Target Geronimo by Chuck Pfarrer which is an excellent book which I borrowed from the library. This books deals with the history of the SEALs but mostly deals with the assassination of Osama bin Laden but I’m mostly writing about the history of the SEALs.

For many years the US Navy denied the existence of the SEALs & many old timers still remember them days. It’s interesting to note although the author of this book is an exSEAL, no active member of the SEALs has ever done an interview. However some of their training exercises have been televised in the hope primarily of attracting new recruits. They are however a very secretive organisation. The SEALs were used to try & rescue the US embassy staff when the Iranians were held hostage. On that occasion the rescue failed primarily because 2 aircraft crashed into one another. They were also used in Beirut during the civil war.

The author of the book was a member of SEAL Unit 6 which is the same unit that stormed Osamas compound. They practised on a mock up prior to the operation. They found out Osama was there because he used the phone & they were able to match the voice prints. The SEALs are without doubt one of the best special forces in the world. They also send members with a particular aptitude on courses with other special forces like the SAS.

The book I read to research this post was British Politics for Dummies by Julian Knight which is an excellent book which I borrowed from the library. In Britain there are 3 major political parties which are the conservative, the labour & the liberal. Scotland has its own parliament which currently is controlled by the scottish nationalists. Wales has an assembly which means the welsh minister can veto laws. Northern Ireland governs itself but is subject to a power sharing arrangement with Britain & Ireland. In Britain we are currently governed by a coalition between the Liberals & the Conservatives. The last time the Liberals governed the country outright was around the time of the 1st World War & the prime minister was David Lloyd George. interestingly his first language was welsh. The Queen is the head of state hence we don’t have a president but in practise the prime minister pulls the strings. There is a trend for more and more media attention centred on the prime minister & he is getting more and more powerful. This is perhaps because uses whips more effectively. Whips are MPs whose job is to make other members of the party toe the line. If an MP rebels the party can withdraw the whip which means at the next election he won’t be able to campaign as a member of that party. Britain is also partly governed by the European Parliament & there was talk of turning the member states into one super state. It has to be said there is considerable opposition to it with in Britain. Also a lot of Eastern European States who have joined the European Union recently are opposed to it because they feel it’s a return to being ruled by outside & it isn’t long ago they were ruled by Russia. The European Union has introduced Euro currency which has been adopted by quite a few members although there has been problems with various member countries getting into debt & having to borrow money. I for one think Britain is better off sticking with the pound. For one thing if we adopted the Euro a lot of companies would take advantage by hiking there prices because very few people would understand the value of the Euro in relation to the pound.

 

The book I read to research this post was The Railway Builders by Anthony Burton which is an excellent book which I bought from a local secondhand bookshop. The development of the steam train was impeded by the fact that the man who had the patent for the steam engine wouldn’t allow trains to be built although he didn’t mind them building water pumps for mines. The patent lasted from 1760 to 1800, once it ran out they started developing steam trains which initially were used for moving coal from coal mines. The first passenger railway was built in 1825 & was the Stockton to Darlington which used a train called the Rocket which in its own right revolutionized train travel. It was built by Robert & George Stevenson who were father & son & had a very close relationship because Robert’s sister died as a baby & his mother died a year later. Later in the century George Hudson amalgamated many of the railway companies into one company. Landowners were very much against the railways going on their land & parliament had to pass laws that enabled compulsory purchase of land for this purpose. Often surveyors had to sneak onto land to do their job. In one case the site of a church was moved along with the graveyard 3 times due to the line expanding. The early rails were made of iron which was prone to cracking although later trains became lighter & steel was used.

 

The book I read to research this post was East of Eden by Graham Phillips which is an excellent book which I bought from kindle. In 1486BC a comet passed very close to the earth & it looks likely a fragment broke up in the earths atmosphere which according to chinese astrologers of the time had 10 tails & was approximately 20 times the size of a full moon. I’m only going to look at the impact on the megalithic people of britain but this book looks at the impact worldwide & many cultures thought it was a bad omen & it changed civilisation. Most comets are found in the oort belt but quite a few have broken out of that orbit & some like halleys comet visit the earth periodically. It’s worth noting a religious cult in the USA committed mass suicide in 1997 after a visit by a particularly close comet.

Megalithic man built many structures among them silbury hill which was not a burial site as was once thought. Stonehenges construction remains something of a mystery. Why was it necessary to mine the stone in wales when surely there was suitable stone nearby? Most of these huge structures took around 15 years to complete which is amazing when you consider they didn’t have pack animals & the people lived in tiny communities so had to travel to work. Over 50% of the population were involved in megalithic construction projects & in the case of newgrange a burial mound in Ireland it was built a thousand years before the pyramids. The egyptians at least had pack animals, large amounts of labour & the wheel had been invented by then. Stonehenge might seem big to us nowadays but avebury was a stone circle 3/4 mile in diameter although much of that was taken away for building purposes & most of it is now gone. The megalithics had a very advanced culture until around 1500BC when the different tribes started feuding. It’s worth noting the megaliths were quite a peaceful bunch but they were wiped out in a period of a few years. This book argues it was the comet which caused this & it’s worth noting other races like the assyrians took it as a bad omen & started wars as well.

The book I read to research this post was Mining Coal by John Davey which is an excellent book which I bought from a carboot sale. Prehistoric man burned coal for warmth & it was used by the romans. The anglo saxons preferred charcoal & wood. When coal started to be used on a big scale it began to be used to fire the kilns in the manufacture of bricks & the price of bricks came down allowing the use of proper fireplaces. It also began to be used in the manufacture of glass. What really revolutionized things was the invention of the blast furnace which enabled the manufacture of steel. In the 18th century steam engines were used to pump water out of mines allowing them to go deeper. Coal is used in loads of industries from aspirin to soap making. Much coal is collected by open cast mining & is the cheapest method although they have to landscape afterwards it’s the main method nowadays in britain. Something a lot of people don’t realise is a lot of coal is under the sea. In Northumberland coal shafts extend for 4 1/2 miles under the North Sea & they used little diesel trains to transport the miners. I think the only place in britain where traditional mining is still undertaken is in the kent coalfield the price of coal plummeted worldwide & many collieries in britain were closed. Many of the places where the miners lived called mining villages but in fact small towns have currently next to no employment & many of the residents have had to leave or travel to seek work.