Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (48)

By Kathy Martin…

Written March 2015

Regular readers may remember that part of my recent ramble was about the ways that the establishment could respond to the demands of protesting demonstrators.

At one end of the spectrum is the “soft” (but probably suicidal for the establishment) is for the establishment to capitulate to all of the demands of the protestors. At the other end is the deployment of military forces to squash protestors and demonstrators.

However, in this day and age, it is also possible for demonstrators and protestors to make their causes known on websites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

This is something that the ruling AKP, Justice and Development Party in the Turkish government is aware of, and, presumably, fears greatly!

I say this because the Turkish government has introduced a law that allows the prime minister, or other ministers to shut down a website in order to “defend the right to live, secure property, ensure national security and public order, prevent crime and protect public health”.

These are laudable aims and causes, but, the act being introduced immediately prior to a general election, makes me wonder if the AKP will use it to block sites that contain “blogs” (is that the correct word?) that may be regarded as disrespectful or derogatory to the ruling AKP!

A few weeks ago, part of my ramble was about Andrew Marr, an interviewer who hosts a programme on the BBC. On that occasion he had asked the Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, the same question SEVEN times, yet still couldn’t get an answer that satisfied him!

Andrew Marr and Ed Balls

Now Andrew Marr has fallen under my radar again!

The UK newspaper the “Daily Mail” printed an article about Andrew Marr interviewing Ed Balls, the Labour Party shadow chancellor. According to the article, Ed Balls refused to rule out a post-election power sharing deal with the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP).

I am not going to go into the possible political or economic results if such a deal should take place, but query why Andrew Marr asked the same question (if the headline of the article is correct) not once, but THIRTEEN times!

The article states that Ed Balls said that “… we are not going to get involved in speculation about post-election deals”. Quite so, this should, in my opinion, have been enough to satisfy Mr Marr. Opinion polls show that both Labour and Conservative parties will each get thirty “something” percent of the vote.

Therefore, approximately two thirds of the electorate will be voting AGAINST either Labour or Conservative. As such, despite Andrew Marr’s badgering, it is surely unwise to rule out a coalition or power-sharing deal with ANY party, until after the election results are known.

According to the same article there is a “rising clamour” against anyone doing a deal with the SNP.

The article doesn’t say whether the clamourers are politicians or the electorate, but either way, recent history should be remembered.


Not many months ago Scotland voted (by a rather narrow margin if I remember correctly) to remain in the United Kingdom, and not be an independent nation. At that time most politicians “south of the border” went into panic mode and, by offering many incentives to the Scots, ensured that it remained in the United Kingdom.

By doing this perhaps these politicians have ensured that (in this election at least) the “third party” with, in effect, the casting vote, in regard to Westminster parliamentary procedures, will be the SNP!

US President Barack Obama

I was interested to read that the US President Barack Obama has told the recently (re) elected Israeli leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, that, unless he softens his stance on the (non) existence of a state of Palestine, America may change its policy towards Israel.

For decades America has only ever applied two rules in regard to Israel.

  • Rule One: Israel is always right.
  • Rule Two: If Israel is ever wrong, Rule One will apply!

Maybe President Obama has (finally) realised that the Palestinians and Israelis are two different nationalities, each with their own religion and are both entitled to their own countries.

Excellent, super, great!

Perhaps the next time that he puts his long-range glasses on he could pause to look at a Mediterranean island in the same part of the world, but not quite as far east from America as Israel and Palestine.

I doubt very much if he will, but there is a very slim chance that he will come to the same conclusion about the two nationalities and religions on Cyprus!

Written April 2015

Airbus 320

Readers are probably aware of the recent crash of an aircraft operated by “Germanwings” in the French Alps. The aircraft, an Airbus 320, is designed to be operated by two flight deck crew; a Captain (Pilot) and a First Officer (Co-Pilot).

The investigators are confident that the First Officer deliberately steered the aircraft into a mountain immediately after the Captain left the flight deck, possibly to answer a call of nature.

Evidence has been found that the First Officer suffered from bouts of depression over a number of years and is thought to have purposely crashed the aircraft in a successful suicide bid. The fact that he was also committing mass murder probably never entered his mind.

Perhaps the only noticeable unusual demeanour of the First Officer would have been that he appeared unusually cheerful during both the pre and in-flight procedures!

While we still lived (and worked) in the UK, my wife worked for some time as a medical secretary for a team of psychiatrists. One of them told her that when a suicide-prone person decides on the “where, when and how”, that person usually becomes very cheerful!

The reason is that the person has found a reason and purpose in his or her life, even if it is, in fact, death!

There has been an understandable reaction from the public and soothing responses from the public relations offices of most airlines.

These responses range from “procedures are already in place” to “we will immediately introduce procedures to ensure that there are never less than two crew on the flight deck”.

At first, I thought that this meant that each and every commercial passenger flight operated by a ”two pilot” aircraft would carry a third fully qualified (and type-rated) pilot.

Obviously the increase in the costs of flight deck crew by a third would initially be met by the airline, but ultimately be passed on the passengers by means of an increase in airfares.

However, apparently, should one of the pilots wish to leave the flight deck for a short time, one of the cabin crew will be called to “sit in” for this period.

I find this totally and I mean TOTALLY incredible!

The control column

Any determined “kamikaze” pilot need simply switch off the auto-pilot, and, even if unable to lock the door to the flight deck, simply engage in fisticuffs with the cabin crew member long enough for the aircraft to crash! The flight deck of any commercial aircraft is regarded as non-revenue earning, and as such is a confined and cramped space, where a physical struggle would almost certainly mean that the control column (joystick in my “Biggles” books!) would be knocked about by flailing arms and legs, causing further destabilisation of the flight path.

Therefore, I prefer and fully agree with, the cool, calculated, measured and pragmatic response from Lufthansa (the parent company of Germanwings) that this was an isolated incident that is very unlikely to occur again.

Of course, as far as the worldwide economy is concerned, there may well be an upsurge in the sales of medical equipment. I don’t mean crutches or similar equipment, but “adult” diapers and incontinence trousers!

After all, what sane or sensible pilot (either senior or junior) will want to leave the flight deck to answer a call of nature knowing that if he does so his (or her) life span may possibly only last a few more minutes!

Avro Lancaster, long-range bomber in WWII

Incidentally, perhaps Britain’s the most famous and versatile long-range bomber during World War Two, the Avro Lancaster, only had one pilot according to Wikipedia! Apparently, although most American bombers had two pilots, the majority of both British and German bombers only had one! The flight deck crew of a Lancaster consisted of a wireless operator, navigator and flight engineer, as well as, of course, the pilot.

According to modern airline timetables the one-way flight time between London and Berlin is slightly over two hours by jet aircraft, allowing for the time zone change. Therefore, I reckon that the round-trip, but nonstop flight time in a piston engined propeller drive aircraft such as the Lancaster would have been in the region of eight hours.

I wonder if the pilot’s mother told him to “go before you go”, as my mother used to tell me to do me every time before we left the house, for any journey, however long or short!

Next blog will continue with Alistair’s rambles

These rambles were written by Alistair initially for the “The KibKom Times” then “The KibKom Forum