Beware the fury of a patient country

On 18 Jun 1812, The United States of America declared war on Canada and decided to invade. The Americans had a bee in their bonnet about something or other with the British and since England was so far away they thought they give Canada a good thrashing.

2 years later in September 1814, Canada had had enough. They marched on Washington, destroying everything in their path and set the White House on fire.

Shit's on fire, yo.

Shit's on fire, yo.

It has been the only time since the Revolutionary War that a foreign power has captured and occupied the US Capital. Unless you count Obama.

I guess it has worked because this war is also the origin of the lines about “the rockets’ red glare” and “the bombs bursting in air” from the US national anthem. Notice that America has never declared war on Canada since?

How to play both sides like an expert

Joan Pujol Garcia

Joan Pujol Garcia

Meet Joan Pujol Garcia. He was a WW2 spy. Actually, he was a double agent during the Second World War. The British knew him by his codename of Garbo; the Germans knew him as Arabel. As Arabel, he was paid $340,000 to support his network of agents, which at one point totaled 27 fabricated characters supplying complete misinformation to the Germans. For his efforts in aid of the Allies Garbo received an MBE from the British. In an ironic twist of fate, following the war he ended up encountering one of his German handlers, who gave him the Iron Cross for his contribution to the German war effort, an award normally reserved for front-line fighting men; the Nazis never realised that Garbo had fooled them, and thus he earned the distinction of being one of the few people during World War II to receive decorations from both sides.


World of Tanks: My new favourite game

I realise I’m probably late to the game, but I’ve recently discovered World of Tanks. I find it therapeutic to log in crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and hear the lamentations of their women.

World of Tanks is essentially a world… of tanks! Every player drives a WW2-era tank and competes with a team of 15-or so other tanks to beat the other team by destroying them all or by capturing their base.

There are different classes of tanks including Light, Medium and Heavy Tanks, Tank Destroyers and Self Propelled Guns, my favourite. There are also different tiers of each of these tanks drawn from German, Soviet, American and Chinese designs. You start the game off with a Tier 1 tank which is essentially a tin can on wheels with a BB gun and a Semaphore comms system and you work your way towards larger, faster, better armed and armoured tanks. There’s 15-20 maps to test your strategy and tactics.

I’m currently working my way up the American SPG line and a have an M41 artillery with a 155mm Howitzer. I’ve paid my dues in the M7 Priest, which has a smaller gun. The M7 Priest is a case of being a small fish in a big pond, and more often than not I’d be against monster tanks I had no hope of destroying. For example, when you fire on a tank with 300mm of armour and your gun only has a 50mm maximum penetration, you can’t really hope to do much damage. But I managed to work up to the M41 with a larger gun and I can one-shot most Medium Tanks and give a Heavy Tank a bad headache. Eventually I’d like to get the T92, the biggest gun in the game which can kill anything it hits with one shot. It has a couple disadvantages, the main one being the 40 second reload time so you really have to make each shot count.

I often go back to my trusty M2 Light Tank, as these smaller tier Light Tanks are only matched against other Lights. It’s a sweet spot where the M2 is often the best tank on the map and it’s fun not to have to worry about higher tier Heavy Tanks which can run over you without feeling a bump.

When the game starts you have 30 seconds to chat and work out strategy with your team mates. I’ve found that these lower tier games are joined by noobs, and if I can convince them to follow some basic instructions then our team will more often than not come out with the win. You can usually tell the Rambo noobs, as they’re the first to die.

The game has a reward system based on hits, kills, detection etc, as well as awards and various medals. I have a few “Top Gun” awards, and a handful of “Confederate” medals, meaning I hit at least 6 enemies who were later destroyed by others. I’m quite proud of my “Kamikaze” award, for destroying a higher tier tank by ramming it.

Games go a maximum of 15 minutes, and there’s usually at least 5000 people playing at any one time so there’s no waiting for another game. I’d recommend World of Tanks to anyone interested in short, fast, tactical rewards-based team games.

How do you explain Sep 11 to young kids?

Promos for shows from different networks marking the 10 year anniversary of the Sep-11 attacks have started appearing on TV recently. This has led to my kids, who are under ten, asking questions.

What happened on Sep 11? Well, a bunch of bad guys hijacked some planes and crashed them into some buildings in America to try and kill as many people as they could.

This was ten years ago? Where were you? Yep, it was 10 years ago, a bit before you were born. Me and mum were getting ready to go to bed while it was actually happening. See, while it was early morning in the Eastern US, it was close to bedtime here. I remember seeing a news ticker on the bottom of the TV screen about a plane crash, but we shut the TV off to get an early night. This was when me and mum both worked at the same place. We didn’t see any of it until we woke up the next day. The clock radio went off at the appointed time, and they were talking about a plane crash. “Must have been the news from last night”, we thought. “Let’s turn on the news after breakfast before we go to work”. When we turned on the TV, it seemed every channel was carrying the same story. Two planes had crashed into the tallest buildings in New York called the World Trade Centre, and another into the Pentagon. And the World Trade Centre buildings had actually fallen down! Later we learned there was a fourth plane crash too.

Why did they try and kill those people? (OK, here we go…) You’ll soon start hearing a lot of people talking about this, and about related events that have happened in the 10 years following Sep 11. The short truth of the matter is that there are two reasons.

  1. They wanted American soldiers out of their Holy Lands, particularly military bases near Mecca and Medina which are Holy Cities.
  2. They wanted the American government to stop giving military support to Israel.
But why didn’t they just ask? I’m sure they did ask, and a number of times.They decided they only way that the Americans would listen was to do something like this; very spectacular and large.

When you say “they”, you mean Muslims?
 Well, yes. The guys who organised it and the guys who did it were all from a religion called Islam. People who follow Islam are called Muslims.

So, do Muslims try and kill people all the time?
No, not at all. Most of the world’s billion or so Muslims are regular people like you and me trying to live the best life they can. But some decided to do something really evil and kill a bunch of people. They aren’t the Muslim leaders, and they don’t represent the rest of the Muslims.

Why did they choose those buildings?
 The name of the guy who organised the attacks was Osama bin Laden. Osama had tried to destroy the World Trade Centre before, by getting a guy to drive a truck loaded with explosives into the basement underneath one of the buildings. The hope was that the bomb would go off, and push one tower into the other and bring them both down. That didn’t work, but he really wanted to bring those buildings down because they were a symbol of American economic power. Two towers took two planes.  A third plane was crashed into the Pentagon, which is a military base and symbol of American military power. Remember the fourth plane I mentioned? It was likely that this was supposed to crash into the White House which is where the President lives, and is a symbol of American politics and America itself. The fourth plane didn’t make it because the passengers fought back against the bad guys and the plane crashed into an empty field. They saved a lot of lives.

Then what happened?
Well over the last ten years America has started wars with Afghanistan and Iraq as well as a bunch of other countries. Don’t ask me to explain all that right now. Maybe another time. I spent a few months in America the next year, just before you were born and because they used planes to crash into buildings and kill people it meant more security and longer lines waiting to get onto flights. My dad took a flight on Sep 11 2002 and was the only passenger on the plane! In May, they guy who organised the attacks was tracked down and killed in a town in Pakistan.

So it’s all over, right? They can stop the wars?
Oh, I wish you were world leaders.

How have you explained Sep 11 to your young families? Leave a comment!

Three, no longer the magic number

Moving out of town has had it’s disadvantages, not in the least of which has been phone coverage. I’ve been with Three since they started in 2003, and my phone/data usage has meant that my average spend per month has been under $8. This includes a 100MB per month data pack at $5. Data coverage on Three has been spotty at best in the CBD, and non-exiting in Mandurah where I’m always “roaming”. Even though it’s annoying I’ve lived with it because, hey, I’m a patient man.

But since moving office last week I encountered the straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t any coverage in our new building on St Georges Terrace in the CBD.

So I’ve changed to Amaysim which is basically an Optus reseller. My monthly spend is going to be higher, but at least I’ll be able to use my phone on a more reliable high speed network. And with 4GB of data, I’m seriously thinking of dropping our Home Internet plan and tethering off the handset. If I put a minimum of effort in, I know I can keep my data under 4GB per month.

So if you’re looking for a good deal on Mobile voice and data, try out Amaysim and tell them I sent you. Your first month will be discounted and I’ll get a kickback for referring you!

How many maths nerds does it take to defeat the German Tank corps?

Interesting story on How Allied Forces Used Tank Serial Numbers To Defeat The Germans at

Allied intelligence noticed each captured German tank contained a serial number unique to the tank. With careful observation, the Allies were able to determine that the serial numbers had a pattern denoting the order of tank production.

Using this data, the Allies were able to create a mathematical model to determine the rate of German tank production, and estimated that, during the same summer 1940 to fall 1942 time period, the Germans produced 255 tanks per month — a fraction of the 1,400 estimate.

And it turns out, the serial number methodology was spot on: after the War, internal German data put der Fuhrer’s production numbers at 256 tanks per month — one more than the estimate.

The answer to the question in the post title? A division, obviously.

AT-AT Wallpapers part one

Here’s a collection of AT-AT, or Imperial Walker, wallpapers and HR images for your enjoyment. Hover over each image to find a size right for you. The AT-AT walker was a behemoth of a war machine, standing at a height of 22.5 meters. The quadrupedal walker closely resembled ancient beasts of war, or even a giant legendary beast from the dark side of the Force. Designed for the dual purpose of crushing and demoralizing enemy forces, and also serving as a transport for Imperial troops and light vehicles, the AT-AT was unsurpassed as the most awesome vehicle in the Imperial Army inventory. Its intimidating and powerful presence often earned it the distinction of being the first vehicle into a combat zone.

I liken it to the Soviet Mil Mi-24 helicopter: big, boofy, intimidating, well armed and armoured. It’s a kick-ass gunship, and has room to carry 8 troops for an air assault. If you see either of these things heading towards you, you know you’re going to have a bad day.

Anyhow, back to the AT-ATs. General Veers, prepare your men.