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December 08, 2022, 08:41:33 PM
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Alex
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« Reply #645 on: September 20, 2022, 01:17:45 AM »

As expected, the funeral was still on the news today, but at least it was only partial coverage. Officially, the country comes out of mourning today, but the royals themselves remain in it for another week. The standard text says it takes 3 months to 3 years to get over the death of a loved one under normal, (psychologically) healthy conditions.

I guess some private time is better than none.

Parliament is sitting again, the cost of living crisis has once more to be dealt with. So far our new PM has acted to ensure the continued profits of energy companies. Because obviously, they aren't making enough money with their record profits and all.

Funny that just a few months ago the smaller ones were all going out of business. We get a mini-budget on Friday where we've been promised tax cuts. I am going to bet that they are mostly corporate-type tax cuts with maybe a sop towards the general public. The protracted election process for our new leader really left everyone hanging in the lurch.

Got my resettlement brief to attend today. It should take up most of the morning. The best of that means I get to miss the morning briefs that just feel increasingly irrelevant to me.
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Alex
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« Reply #646 on: September 20, 2022, 02:04:27 PM »

Ok, the first settlement brief is over and done with. There were a few familiar faces including one of my ex-bosses. 75% of the time, she was just a regular person to work for, but man that other 25% of the time... We used to track her periods better than she did and then everyone would try to book leave for that week. Another guy I used to work beside was also there. As I was leaving I bumped into that ex-bosses, ex-boss. He was a decent guy and I liked him. Last I'd heard, he had taken a post out in Cyprus. Guess he is back now.

Wow, has it really been 3 years?

I spent the afternoon looking at courses I am entitled to go and do. There were not as many as I was expecting, and the only two that interested me would involve travelling down to the south of England. I think that is a bit more effort than I want to put into just to get what would only be updated versions of qualifications I already have. One was for household electrical wiring and the other was a First Aid course. I was looking at a program called Troops to Teachers, which encourages ex-forces personnel to become teachers after they leave. I'd thought about teaching Primary Schools, but it looks like you have to go for Secondary School and only in maths, physics, chemistry and biology. I am surprised English wasn't on the list. It says that depending on what you teach, you can get a £40,000 payout, but none of the subjects listed offered over £28,000. Not something I have a super big urge to go and do though, just thought I'd check it out and look into the option.

Mind you, I'd put money on being able to tell you exactly what the first question any kid would ask any soldier when they find out they are ex-forces. Been asked that one a few times.

Just had a policewoman at the door. That was a surprise. Turned out she was just looking to speak to Kristi. Unfortunately, she pressed the doorbell rather a long time and managed to wake up Ash just after I'd gotten him to sleep. I went upstairs to check on him and he wasn't in his bed. Couldn't find him upstairs, so started shouting for him. Somehow he'd managed to get downstairs past me. Fairly convinced it involved teleportation. I was at the front door for less than a minute.

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Alex
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« Reply #647 on: September 21, 2022, 05:36:57 PM »

After weeks of arguing with a computer system, I finally got it to do as it was told, and get it to work long enough for me to get an assessment completed so I can use it in the future. I also worked out how many days I have left to work, and taking out holidays, weekends and the like, I have just over 100 days still to go in uniform. Cuts it down a lot from the 205 days. Karl is writing what should be my final annual assessment, although the problem is that he will also have to do a leaving assessment.

Like I care what will be in either of those. Pointless paperwork exercise.

Well, without paper since it is done on computers, but still.

Looks like Putin is having to respond to the somewhat desperate conditions his floundering invasion has found itself in. I wonder how much training the troops he is calling up will get? I guess since it is reservists who have had some training already, they won't need quite as much as raw recruits (and the training for raw recruits is being shortened). I had said earlier, I expected Russia to struggle and be forced to call up more troops. I'd expect they will launch a renewed offensive after winter and spring have passed, but if Putin is desperate enough he may just commit them to battle earlier. How they will do and how well they will be supplied, well that will be interesting. Prisoners are being offered early release and cash incentives to sign up as assault troops. I wonder if the Russian people will be willing to take the levels of casualties that their soldiers look likely to suffer? Putin might have a tight grip on Russian society, but it isn't anywhere near as tight as Stalin's was as the media is showing signs of slipping out of his grip, openly speaking against the Kremlin. Internationally, his threats of using nuclear weapons seem to be getting laughed at. He has threatened it too many times over the years and now no one is taking them seriously. All in all, this has terrible for his strongman image. I wonder if it is a terminal blow to his authority or can he recover? Either side can still win this war.

Only time will tell. As the Chinese curse says: May you live in interesting times.

Our D&D group tonight actually managed to spend more time accidentally hitting each other than they did the various undead creatures they were supposed to be fighting. At one point, one of the monsters stopped fighting us and just asked "What the hell guys?" Although I had more than my fair share of fumble rolls, they at least ended up with things like stumbling or falling down a pit. Afterwards, we had a roleplay bit where I was having a good go at the other party members for shooting and stabbing each other. A bit ironic considering my character, Merriweather has already secretly assassinated two other party members. They deserved it though (I justify it under the classification of "People I Killed Because They Annoyed Me"). Mind you, there was almost a third addition to that list. A new guy has joined us (playing a paladin) and kept telling my character what to do (things that generally he has seen her already do in the sessions we've played so far like checking for traps or scouting ahead). Anyway, about the third or fourth time, it was my action and he told me what to do I had my character simply growl at him "I know my job and I've been doing it a damn sight longer than you." Anyway, after that, the paladin decided to shut up.

Got a "targetted" advert asking me to meet women over 60. What the actual f**k? I've never had a partner who was older than me and I don't have some weird fetish for checking out older women so I am not sure where the hell that came from. Not that I have anything against older women, it is just the way life worked out. Yeah, that advert can go on the blocked list along with all the other ones promising me I'll find the perfect woman in eastern Europe, somewhere in Asia or wherever the hell else they are going on about.

Had a guy ask me to help him fill in some forms he was unfamiliar with today. It is stuff I deal with on a regular basis and legally speaking it is quite important to fill in correctly, so I sat him down beside me and started going through each of the areas of the form he needed to fill in. For the first three boxes, I was telling him what to write, but he put completely different things in. I corrected him each time, but by the fourth box, I just thought "You know what, f**k it. If he isn't going to listen then it is on his head" and I let him fill in whatever the hell he liked. It isn't my name on the paperwork.

Oh well, time to go to bed and read some old Conan stuff. Catch you on the flip side and have a good night.
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Alex
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« Reply #648 on: September 25, 2022, 01:10:47 AM »

Finally got the transport down to Cranwell sorted. Since we leave tomorrow it was nice of the other section I had to deal with to get their fingers out of their arses and actually do their effing job. Still got to sort out one part of the journey home, but it is only a 15-mile stretch and I have another 5 days to deal with that.

Tonight's D&D group kept going slightly off-kilter. The easy group that was supposed to be a quick fight for them came close to someone dying (although I had ways to interfere and prevent that). They then managed to skip the encounters I had planned and then arrived at the next dungeon a level below where I had planned on them being.
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Alex
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« Reply #649 on: September 25, 2022, 05:09:58 PM »

I've had longer train journeys than this one (12 hours), but I am sure this one felt long. The only brief moment of excitement was when we could smell something burning that smelt very much like an electrical fire. Just as we were moving to raise the alarm, someone mentioned we'd just passed by a fire.

So I am in a room at Cranwell, a place that many people tried to persuade me to go to for the first 4 or 5 years of my career. It is where the comminssioned officer's train. Never had much patience or time for that mob myself. I've met a few who were useful, but not many.

Pretty sure any NCO in any military anywhere in the world will tell you that though.
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Alex
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« Reply #650 on: September 26, 2022, 03:28:35 PM »

Today's work consisted of collecting a car (which wasn't there), then when it was driving for an hour. I then lined up with a couple of hundred people 99% of whom I'll never meet again and getting my photo taken with them and then driving another hour back to where we started.

Well, as long as they pay me for it. Strikes me as a waste of time and money though.

A bunch of cadet officers arrived just as we got back. I was looking at them and thinking well I guess that is the future of the RAF and I am just about to part of its history. Felt like going over to them and telling them to stop f**king everything up and run it properly.

It seems Russians aren't overly happy with the partial mobilisation going on with a lot trying to flee via Georgia (one of the few countries bordering Russia that you don't now need a visa to enter. I wonder what it is like to have to flee your country like that. Do they know that they might never be able to return to their home country? Recruiting stations have been getting firebombed and in one in Siberia someone walked in and just shot the guy behind the desk.

Not the only shooting going on over there today alas. I still have sympathy for the Russian people though. It is important to remember here that it is the guy at the top who ordered the invasion, not the ordinary people on the street or even the soldiers fighting it. By all means if I have to fight them, then yeah I'll hate them because, well in that situation you have to. Unless that happens though I'll feel for them.

Ended up having to look up what help I could get for a US veteran in Norway who was talking about suicide. Fortunately, I know several people who either have served or are currently serving and they were able to get me several numbers he can call for help. He just has to want help. That can be the toughest part. Getting someone just to admit they need a hand sometimes. I'll do what I can in the meantime.

Our course starts tomorrow. From has the reputation of being a rather tough one. Well, let's see if I can drag my arse through one more of these things and come out with another piece of paper (well not actually. It costs an extra £15 to get the certificate printed out. Bollocks to that).

Wanting to be at home seems to have become an obsession for me. I don't want to be anywhere else but where my family is. Five years ago I'd have said the level this is at for me is unhealthy. Equally, though I just don't care. It is where I want to be and who I want to be looking after. Other people who love their country can go prove it instead. Until they find out that no country really cares and all the big words you get about your country's gratitude are rather empty. Glad I skipped that whole step. I was pretty cynical about that stuff before I joined. I wouldn't say I've gotten any more (or less) cynical since.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 03:36:25 PM by Alex » Logged

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ER
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« Reply #651 on: September 26, 2022, 05:23:28 PM »

The young Russian woman whose YouTube channel I've watched for several years made her last video in Georgia, having fled her home in eastern Siberia after being a cautious longtime critic of Putin. She may go next to Turkey. I hope she is well.
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« Reply #652 on: September 26, 2022, 06:29:36 PM »


Not the only shooting going on over there today alas. I still have sympathy for the Russian people though. It is important to remember here that it is the guy at the top who ordered the invasion, not the ordinary people on the street or even the soldiers fighting it. By all means if I have to fight them, then yeah I'll hate them because, well in that situation you have to. Unless that happens though I'll feel for them.


That's an interesting question. I'm not a soldier, but it seems like it would be possible to realize someone needs to be killed and not hate them. After all, a soldier is a professional killer; some "it's just a job" detachment seems possible. I bet hate is be a great motivator and makes the job it easier, but it could also lead to condoning atrocities on your own side. Maybe it wouldn't be possible to avoid that feeling, though, if I saw my friends and colleagues being killed.
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« Reply #653 on: September 27, 2022, 01:35:38 AM »

Generally speaking, it is damn hard to get someone to shoot to kill. About 1% of people can do it normally. With intensive training, you can get that up to 14, maybe 16%. More casualties are caused by things like artillery, airstrikes and so forth. If you don't have to see someone's face then killing them becomes a lot easier. If I recall correctly, the biggest single killer of infantry during world war 2 was mortar fire. If you start thinking that the target you are shooting at is someone's son/daughter/parent and look at them as a real person then it gets a lot harder.

You then have people who once they have killed someone, simply cannot handle that. Hating them makes it a lot easier to cope with for most. If you can shoot someone and not care at all, then I'd suspect you are most likely what is termed a 'functional psychopath'. A lot of special forces guys seem to be in that area (which is why I recommend not f**king around with them. They have both the training and mindset to deal with you, and in a lot of cases it is easier for them to kill someone than just injure them).

As for atrocities, well certainly for us a fair part of our training goes into how we are meant to act, and we are given strict fire control orders (how much force we are allowed to use in a given situation). From serving alongside US forces, they have much looser orders than we do as an example (which to my mind caused them more problems in Afghanistan and was a major factor that led to their defeat, but that is a topic for another day). I don't know how other armed forces do these things, but I'd imagine there is a wide range across the world. Despite all of this, however, it is war and bad things happen and there are consequences for that.

Ultimately each person has to strike a balance. Not only for what they do, but also how they deal with what they see the enemy do. Under the laws of war, you could walk up and shoot my best friend dead, then surrender to me and I am not allowed to shoot you. I am legally obliged to even provide you with first aid if you need it. I am sure you can imagine how hard something like that is.
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« Reply #654 on: September 27, 2022, 07:40:53 AM »

Generally speaking, it is damn hard to get someone to shoot to kill. About 1% of people can do it normally. With intensive training, you can get that up to 14, maybe 16%. More casualties are caused by things like artillery, airstrikes and so forth. If you don't have to see someone's face then killing them becomes a lot easier. If I recall correctly, the biggest single killer of infantry during world war 2 was mortar fire. If you start thinking that the target you are shooting at is someone's son/daughter/parent and look at them as a real person then it gets a lot harder.

You then have people who once they have killed someone, simply cannot handle that. Hating them makes it a lot easier to cope with for most. If you can shoot someone and not care at all, then I'd suspect you are most likely what is termed a 'functional psychopath'. A lot of special forces guys seem to be in that area (which is why I recommend not f**king around with them. They have both the training and mindset to deal with you, and in a lot of cases it is easier for them to kill someone than just injure them).

As for atrocities, well certainly for us a fair part of our training goes into how we are meant to act, and we are given strict fire control orders (how much force we are allowed to use in a given situation). From serving alongside US forces, they have much looser orders than we do as an example (which to my mind caused them more problems in Afghanistan and was a major factor that led to their defeat, but that is a topic for another day). I don't know how other armed forces do these things, but I'd imagine there is a wide range across the world. Despite all of this, however, it is war and bad things happen and there are consequences for that.

Ultimately each person has to strike a balance. Not only for what they do, but also how they deal with what they see the enemy do. Under the laws of war, you could walk up and shoot my best friend dead, then surrender to me and I am not allowed to shoot you. I am legally obliged to even provide you with first aid if you need it. I am sure you can imagine how hard something like that is.

Thanks for the perspective. War is an ugly business. That 16% figure is interesting. I would think that, if you were in a firefight, for example, you could shoot just for self-preservation with no other motivation necessary. Of course someone has to fire the first shot and not every situation is like that, particularly in modern warfare today.
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ER
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« Reply #655 on: September 27, 2022, 08:51:12 AM »

When I think of soldiers who were hard-core killers, I think of the Germans behind the machine guns at the Somme. By some accounts twenty thousand British were killed in the first hour, (and Haig kept sending more and more on to their deaths even knowing what was happening, sure his plan could not fail). Whether it represents their true feelings or not, the accounts we have are of those German gunners expressing glee at the slaughter they undertook that terrible July day, not screaming horror. Yes, the British were advancing on them, at a plodding pace, mostly, yes the Germans had just been shelled for a week, yes, it was war, but to mow down lines of men who just kept walking into death, some wincing and shielding their faces like they were out in rain, that has always struck me as the epitome of....? Well, I don't know how to finish that. Of being good soldiers? Of being inhumane? Of the less celebrated hemisphere of human nature nakedly revealed? Or maybe almost anyone could and would have done it too, a sort of Milgram experiment writ large.

If ever you get a chance to visit the Somme battlefields, go. It changes your perspective on life immeasurably by showing either how precious or how cheap it truly is.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2022, 08:53:53 AM by ER » Logged

What does not kill me makes me stranger.
Alex
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« Reply #656 on: September 27, 2022, 11:20:24 AM »

Generally speaking, it is damn hard to get someone to shoot to kill. About 1% of people can do it normally. With intensive training, you can get that up to 14, maybe 16%. More casualties are caused by things like artillery, airstrikes and so forth. If you don't have to see someone's face then killing them becomes a lot easier. If I recall correctly, the biggest single killer of infantry during world war 2 was mortar fire. If you start thinking that the target you are shooting at is someone's son/daughter/parent and look at them as a real person then it gets a lot harder.

You then have people who once they have killed someone, simply cannot handle that. Hating them makes it a lot easier to cope with for most. If you can shoot someone and not care at all, then I'd suspect you are most likely what is termed a 'functional psychopath'. A lot of special forces guys seem to be in that area (which is why I recommend not f**king around with them. They have both the training and mindset to deal with you, and in a lot of cases it is easier for them to kill someone than just injure them).

As for atrocities, well certainly for us a fair part of our training goes into how we are meant to act, and we are given strict fire control orders (how much force we are allowed to use in a given situation). From serving alongside US forces, they have much looser orders than we do as an example (which to my mind caused them more problems in Afghanistan and was a major factor that led to their defeat, but that is a topic for another day). I don't know how other armed forces do these things, but I'd imagine there is a wide range across the world. Despite all of this, however, it is war and bad things happen and there are consequences for that.

Ultimately each person has to strike a balance. Not only for what they do, but also how they deal with what they see the enemy do. Under the laws of war, you could walk up and shoot my best friend dead, then surrender to me and I am not allowed to shoot you. I am legally obliged to even provide you with first aid if you need it. I am sure you can imagine how hard something like that is.

Thanks for the perspective. War is an ugly business. That 16% figure is interesting. I would think that, if you were in a firefight, for example, you could shoot just for self-preservation with no other motivation necessary. Of course, someone has to fire the first shot and not every situation is like that, particularly in modern warfare today.


People when they shoot tend to aim to miss, even when they are being shot at. It was something that wasn't really noticed until the second world war, but reports of civil war weapons found on battlefields sometimes show they were on multiple occasions being loaded incorrectly, so that you'd get the puff of smoke when you pulled the trigger, but no bullet would be fired. I can't remember how it was done, but I think one weapon as an example was found that the user had done this 8 - 16 times, deliberately partially loading and then firing.

Generally, a big part of military training (well certainly on the infantry side of things), is an attempt to take away people's individuality. So we all have to have short hair to make us look alike, you break everyone down into corps/brigades/platoons to get them to obey orders. They want people who if you say "Charge up that hill and take it", will do exactly that or die trying. Some militaries do encourage individual initiative on the battlefield (the German's certainly used to back in the 30s and 40s. These days they have more of a reputation for following orders exactly).
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Alex
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« Reply #657 on: September 27, 2022, 11:30:27 AM »

When I think of soldiers who were hard-core killers, I think of the Germans behind the machine guns at the Somme. By some accounts twenty thousand British were killed in the first hour, (and Haig kept sending more and more on to their deaths even knowing what was happening, sure his plan could not fail). Whether it represents their true feelings or not, the accounts we have are of those German gunners expressing glee at the slaughter they undertook that terrible July day, not screaming horror. Yes, the British were advancing on them, at a plodding pace, mostly, yes the Germans had just been shelled for a week, yes, it was war, but to mow down lines of men who just kept walking into death, some wincing and shielding their faces like they were out in rain, that has always struck me as the epitome of....? Well, I don't know how to finish that. Of being good soldiers? Of being inhumane? Of the less celebrated hemisphere of human nature nakedly revealed? Or maybe almost anyone could and would have done it too, a sort of Milgram experiment writ large.

If ever you get a chance to visit the Somme battlefields, go. It changes your perspective on life immeasurably by showing either how precious or how cheap it truly is.

There are a whole load of factors that could come into play there. One, Germany prior to the Great War was a highly militarised society. Boys were encouraged to play with military-based toys and games growing up (in effect prepping them to kill), but two, I'd also look into who wrote those accounts. British newspapers for example were infamous for printing lurid stories of atrocities the hun had committed, just making up stories (most likely with the encouragement of the government) to increase war fever. The Somme was 2 years into the war. By that point, I can well imagine your connection to what is normal has broken down and the kill ratio goes down. Just because you are not able to kill someone at the start of the war, doesn't mean that won't change. Interestingly, I've never seen a study on how that would go during a longer or more brutal war. My guess is that a lot of people sooner or later are going to get over their more civilised notions about not killing, but I am guessing here. Maybe you eventually either break down with shell shock or go feral? The final factor is yeah, you do get the ones who just plain enjoy killing or feel no emotion over it. I find the former more worrisome than the latter.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2022, 11:33:07 AM by Alex » Logged

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Alex
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« Reply #658 on: September 27, 2022, 11:30:52 AM »

Enjoying this discussion.
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Alex
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« Reply #659 on: September 28, 2022, 11:38:58 AM »

So I am still in England. It has rained every day so far, the heating doesn't work in the block (which is falling to pieces around me. There is repaired plasterwork over the bed that if I put my hand on, the repair comes away on my hand. I've moved the bed so it doesn't rain plaster on me all night long). I am surviving on about 2 hours of sleep per night right now, which I am coping with if barely. Last night I did fall asleep before 22:00 but that just meant I woke up earlier.

The course itself is fine if a little more fluffy than we are used to as technies. Normally our courses consist of hard facts, equations and so forth whereas this is all about various techniques to find faults in software you haven't written and don't even need to know the code it is written it to find faults. We don't fix them, we just supervise a project and tell the programmers where they have messed up, but in a diplomatic way (you say "I've found this fault in the program", not "You've messed up and need to fix this." In the public field you can get paid £40,000 go £80,000 a year for doing this stuff.

All I can really focus on is getting back home though. I have spent months away and not felt this bad. This is just a silly week-long course. I guess it is a combination of now being a father and knowing that I am so close to the end of my military career.

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