Friday 31 August 2012

Education Research

While having no relevance to wargaming at all, some of my research on student excuses in higher education has hit the national media.
Times Higher Education Supplement

The picture looks a bit scary. Actually, when one of my articles was published in a computing journal last year, they substituted someone else's photo for mine as their photo looked better... They did however keep my tie in the photo.

I was also in the Daily Mail Newspaper

and on BBC Radio 5 live this afternoon, then I went on the Voice of Russia (aka Radio Moscow), then a number of BBC local radio stations.

The Independent Newspaper has just done an article as well.

Monday 20 August 2012

Autobiography in Simulation and Gaming Journal

I was a little suprised to recieve a request for an autobiography of me by Simulation and Gaming Journal. This academic journal is the premier journal on the study of simulations and games.

The request was on the grounds of my contribution to simulations and gaming e.g. through the History of Wargaming Project. This will be the third one they have done in the magazines history.

Actually, I can suggest many other names who, to me, have made a far larger contribution.

Friday 10 August 2012

Surprise Battalion Parachute Drop on Belarus

On the 4th of July 2012, a Swedish public relations firm dropped 879 toy teddy-bears by parachute on the town of Ivenets near Minsk in Belarus. This was a pro-democracy protest against Europe’s last dictatorship, with each teddy-bear carrying a suitable slogan.   

Belarus is former Soviet state that has been ruled by President Alexander Lukashenko since democratic elections in 1994. Since the first free election, the state has become progressively more autocratic and has seen a clampdown on press freedom. The European Union has an asset free and travel restrictions on 200 Belarus officials for alleged human right abuses. If any of these people travel in the rest of Europe, they will be detained. 

The incident has wider interest than merely highlighting the excesses of one ex-soviet regime.
Belarus is part of the air defence network of Russia and although the light aircraft managed to enter Belarus airspace from Sweden, Andrei Savinykh, the spokesman for Belarus' Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the intruded was detected ‘but the air defence did nothing. They didn’t consider the aircraft as a military threat because it was a small aircraft and usually the air defence system is focusing on high-speed heavy crafts.’
This incident raises questions about the effectiveness of the Russian air defence umbrella. 

In the days of potential air attack by suicide terrorists, the wider question is how to react to such suspicious civilian aircraft? There are dangers to over-reaction; in September 1983, the Soviets shot down a civilian Korean Airline Flight 007 over the Sea of Japan by a Su-15. America shot down civilian flight Iran air flight 655 in July 1988 over the straits of Hormuz. 

Belarus is quite clear about their reaction to a further incident. Their spokesman said any further unauthorised aircraft would be treated as a threat. Belarus air space will not be a good place to stray from one’s registered flight plan.

Monday 6 August 2012

Connections conference on game design in US

There is an excellent write up of the Connections Conference about game design. Write up on paxsims

The conference is the American equivilent of the UK Wargame Development's Conference of Wargamers (COW). The Connections conference looked very structured in the traditional way e.g. with key note speakers. The UK COW conference is a post-modernism conference, disorgranised,  parallel sessions and much of the important insights are developed in informal discussions between sessions.

Friday 3 August 2012

John Keegan historian passes away

Sir John Keegan, well-known tactical military historian, aged 78 has just passed away.

To me, his best books were the Face of Battle and Six Armies in Normandy. The latter tried to imagine what it was like to be in a battle and was a contrast to most books examining the commander's perspective. He also wrote for the Telegraphy Newspaper, with articles trying to explain military realities to the lay reader.

He was one of the fellow lecturers of Paddy Griffith and David Chandler at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurt, but unlike them, he did not place much value on the use of wargames to help understanding of military history. I have some classic unpublished correspondence between John Keegan and Paddy Griffith, demonstrating both had strong feelings. One day I might get it to print.

For further information see   Obituary.