England takes a bet on Space

The Sabre air breathing rocket and the Skylon single stage to orbit craft grow more real with time. We should all remember that England was a hot bed of jet engine development in the early years and is still a leader (Rolls Royce.)20130719-091933.jpg20130719-091947.jpg20130719-091955.jpg

The announcement late last month that the Chancellor, George Osborne, is planning to put a chunk of the country’s meagre resources for capital expenditure behind a British project to develop a revolutionary jet engine for a reusable space plane, suggests the government has high hopes of the space engineering sector.
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The Chancellor’s interest in Skylon centres on the hybrid air-breathing rocket engine, known as SABRE, which would power it into orbit in a single stage. The engine relies on an entirely new pre-cooling technology that allows it to function at extremely high speeds, at plus Mach 5. The project has no competitor. If successful it would offer a uniquely lightweight and therefore more affordable means of reaching space. It has already completed a series of tests and the next stage is to build a full-scale prototype.

Read more: The Engineer : Career opportunities in the UK space sector
Also the company developing the tech: Reaction Engines 20130719-093143.jpg

Gun control as crime control is a pernicious fantasy

Joyce Lee Malcolm: Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control
After a school massacre, the U.K. banned handguns in 1998. A decade later, handgun crime had doubled. Australia same dynamic…result increased assaults and rapes. While the law abiding go to jail.

Wall Street Journal on British and Australian experience with banning fire arms both countries have essentially disarmed their populations, except you know for those who don’t care, or who see it as an opportunity for low risk thuggery.

In these countries suicide by gun has gone down but suicide by other means has gone up. Home invasions almost unheard of in the US have become a plague with criminals threatening revenge if the victims call the police.

The Top Ten Myths About Mass Shootings, James Alan Fox, Boston.com.

It needs to be remembered that while it seems otherwise, because of the laser like focus of the mass media on these events, that mass killings are if anything decreasing. Gun free zones are stupid, just assuring the killers that they have a safe hunting zone. Mass murderers do not snap they are planners who plot out the act and are not deterred by locked doors or the like. Any weapon will do, fire, knife, car airplane, fertilizer, poison, gas, bio agents….

Gun Control is about control, it is about fear of the other, it is also about magical thinking “if we close our eyes and wish hard enough the bad thing will go away.” Infantile thinking like this is a waste of everyone’s time, the reality is not every troubling event has a solution and laws are not magical spells that can affect humans whose minds have ‘broken bad.’

Saber Rattling Down, way down, South

So once more the Argentinian gov’t is talking, blustering, about the Malvinas and generally making themselves irritating to all right thinking (Tory) Englishmen. This short article from DIQ, one of the several excellent military info/show groups based in the UK (who needs spies when you have Janes and these guys?), was eye opening.

As the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War arrives over the horizon like a rather fearsome storm cloud, the media hysteria in both countries is slowly building to a fever pitch. The British media, going through a periodic bout of jingoism, is awash with scaremongering over the state of the island’s defences; while the Argentine media is dominated by heated debate about the ‘militarisation’ of the islands and British imperialism. As this author has already discussed, the frequent articles released by men such as Admiral Sandy Woodward warning of the immense military vulnerability of the islands have very little grounding in reality. The military balance in the South Atlantic is very strongly rooted in the favour of the UK and this is unlikely to change in the near future. Of arguably much greater significance to the Falklands debate are the political and economic factors that dominate the current tensions. As will be shown there is neither the political will nor the economic capability for Argentina to attempt any kind of military action against the islands.

Okay so the Brits stole the islands for a coaling station a century and a half ago, get over it for crying out loud. Okay so there’s oil there I’m sure the UK will work a win win deal, they’re almost as good at that as they are at winning wars. Thumping the drums of war seems a way of life for the Argentine’s vacuous Gov’ts it’s a way of distracting attention from the Gov’ts many failures. An article in AWST (aviation Week and Space Technology) last week discussed the technical, tactical and professional aspects of such a face down and thee fact is that even a senescent UK military could take down the Argentines with little trouble.

But in the long run the economic war outlined in the DIQ article is more threatening, though unlikely to cause any short term change. The fact is that the islanders like their life,and the Brits will protect their own. In the short term oil and gas may even make the island grow, but if the recent past is an indication the islands youth will move away and unless something draws new blood back eventually there will be a ghost town and the Brits will withdraw voluntarily.