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Archive for April 2014

History of the Torpedo Lecture

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In February I delivered my history of torpedo technology lecture for the second time. This time to the IET retirees in Portsmouth/South Hampshire.

The talk seemed to go reasonably well, though I have difficulty telling as I get carried away with what I am saying to be certain of the audience staying with me. Even including the time lost before I started and the questions afterwards it ran to two hours rather than the one scheduled. Though with 40+ slides there was no way I could have finished in an hour!

One thing that did bother me though was after the talk I was approached by one of the audience and asked how I felt about the morality of designing/building weapons (a similar question was also asked by a student at Southdowns College where a was supposedly talking about careers for maths graduates – and not pushing the Aerospace and Defence sector at all). Trying to be polite I batted the question away observing that since the probability our product being used in its service life was so small such projects should be regarded as government financed industrial training schemes for new STEM graduates who will go on to work on projects that are less morally dubious, like financial engineering and fracking.

This is not my real justification, which is certainly more complex, starting with in my questioners terms; I do not pretend to be moral. Followed up with an acknowledgement that even if the present crop of governments seem keen to undertake less than justifiable military adventures, sometimes there are wars that have to be fought. In a functioning democracy working on systems for this eventuality is not intrinsically immoral. The decision to use weapons is at the discretion of our supposedly democratic institutions and so in the end our collective responsibility.

Also; it feeds, clothes and houses my family and pays for the education of my children.

The only people who I consider have grounds for criticizing my attitude are Quakers and their ilk who’s views I respect but don’t share. I have no respect however for those who in normal times look down on the military and defence contractors but are gung-ho for some pretty dubious wars when they occur. The problem I have is with the very large proportion of the British population that seem to fall into this category.


Written by CaptainBlack

April 26, 2014 at 10:40

Posted in Blogroll