September 29, 2012

Simply Amazing

In the blogosphere, we frequently find links to stories like this, this and this, which are just damned appalling.

Its's important to remember however, that while rare, there are stories from the opposite end of the spectrum as well.

Read the whole thing. There's more here.

These are two really impressive people.

Hat tip to Cdr. Salamander .



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July 04, 2011

235 Years

235 years ago today the 13 southernmost of England's North American colonies sent representatives to Philadelphia to discuss what to do about the various political disputes they had had with London...disputes that had been festering for a decade.

One of these representatives, Benjamin Franklin, had spent 11 years in London trying to resolve these disputes. He had attempted to, amongst other things:

*set up a process for the colonists to elect MPs.

*represent their interests in policy discussions

*relay the London perspective back to the colonies.

While he was in England, he was increasingly treated not as a representative, but an ambassador from a hostile nation. Finally, in 1775, he was called everything but a child of God, told his people were nothing more than subjects who were not entitled to representation of any sort, He was summarily dismissed.

One of the most respected Britons of his age had gone to bring the nation closer together and returned convinced it was not possible.

The various delegates conferred and decided on a course of action. They published their conclusion and the reasons they reached it. It bears remembering that they did not come to their conclusion lightly .

Their statement is below.

Today is the day we celebrate their difficult, but demonstrably fortuitous decision.

It is also a time to reflect on the fact that Washington imposes afar greater degree of interference in our lives than Lord North ever contemplated. However, it is important to remember that the founders provided us with the very tool Lord North had denied them; the ballot box. 


 

Before

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The Signatures.....


Georgia:
   Button Gwinnett
   Lyman Hall
   George Walton


North Carolina:
   William Hooper
   Joseph Hewes
   John Penn


South Carolina:
   Edward Rutledge
   Thomas Heyward, Jr.
   Thomas Lynch, Jr.
   Arthur Middleton


Massachusetts:
John Hancock


Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton


Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton


Pennsylvania:
   Robert Morris
   Benjamin Rush
   Benjamin Franklin
   John Morton
   George Clymer
   James Smith
   George Taylor
   James Wilson
   George Ross


Delaware:
   Caesar Rodney
   George Read
   Thomas McKean


New York:
   William Floyd
   Philip Livingston
   Francis Lewis
   Lewis Morris


New Jersey:
   Richard Stockton
   John Witherspoon
   Francis Hopkinson
   John Hart
   Abraham Clark


New Hampshire:
   Josiah Bartlett
   William Whipple


Massachusetts:
   Samuel Adams
   John Adams
   Robert Treat Paine
   Elbridge Gerry


Rhode Island:
   Stephen Hopkins
   William Ellery


Connecticut:
   Roger Sherman
   Samuel Huntington
   William Williams
   Oliver Wolcott


New Hampshire:
   Matthew Thornton


After

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March 26, 2011

Bright Lights in a Dark Week

Robert Baily, a UK citizen teaching English in Japan, was not even scheduled to work on March 11. On his own initiative he had come in to teach some students the ins and outs of cricket. When the Quake hit, Baily kept his head and got his class outside to avoid falling debris. When the Tsunami sirens lit off he had less than 8 minutes to corral 42 terrified high school students to high ground before death came to the town of Ofunato. None of the schools other students have even been accounted for, but Baily's quick thinking got his entire class to safety. More here.


Image via Sky News

Hideki Akikawa returned home after the earthquake and tsunami to find his city not only demolished but sunk. The quake lowered the level of the town below sea level turning it into a bay.

Akikawa somehow acquired a set of SCUBA gear, dove into the frigid waters, found his home and rescued his wife who was trapped in a submerged air pocket. He later used the same skillset to save his mother, and is now assisting in the relief efforts.
There is a much better telling of this here. (Link NSFW) via.

Closer to home there is this.
 

Image via.
Just over a month ago 9 year old Anaiah Rucker lost her leg. She did so pushing her 5 year old sister out of the way of an oncoming truck. She has been released from the hospital to a well deserved heroes welcome. She has a hard road ahead but thanks to her quick thinking she still has a little sister with which to travel down it.

The times are bad, but there are still good people out there.

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December 07, 2010

69 Years Ago



There is a brief account by Fuchida of his view of the attack here. Interesting in that it gives some idea of the sheer force of the explosion that sank Arizona.

We were about to begin our second bombing run when there was a colossal explosion in battleship row. A huge column of dark red smoke rose to 1000 meters. It must have been the explosion of a ship's powder magazine. The shock wave was felt even in my plane, several miles away from the harbor.


Wow.

Also. On this solemn day of remembrance, Google reminds us of one reason we use Bing.

Update: Added the missing hyperlink

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July 04, 2010



I
N CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

*************************************************************************************



There is a good set of mini biographies on the 56 men who signed the document here.

These men, who risked and sometimes lost everything gave us a tremendous gift that was born of the enlightenment.

We had best not be the ones to lose it. 
more...

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May 31, 2010

It Was the Right Call

  The Presidents decision to cut short his Memorial Day speech in the face of a violent freak storm has elicited some criticism, but it absolutely was the right one. A prime example of a bad call would have been to simply slog through in utter defiance of God, nature and reason and risk having people in the audience killed by lightning or injured by the wind.

 Sometimes a failure really is due to bad luck or circumstances and not judgment. This is particularly true with regards to the weather.

As to those who complain that he was not at Arlington, give it a rest. He was at a U.S. military cemetery, one that does not get a lot of attention nationally, and its a pretty significant place for those who have loved ones buried there.

There is a lot to criticize about Obama but this is not one of them. He is also our president. Taking cheap shots is petty and does a disservice to those heroes we seek to honor on this day.

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No Words Are Adequate


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November 11, 2009

Thank You


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July 05, 2009

Moral Cowardice and Courage can Look Very Similar

In 1974 a company in Japan called Office Academy put out a childrens show that focused on the crew of a space battleship on a desperate mission.  The show was called Space Battleship Yamato, 1979-80 it was picked up by an American company which dubbed and syndicated it under the title Starblazers. Unlike many shows brought over it was translated quite respectfully, if not entirely accurately and, in my opinion was one of the better sci-fi shows to air in the 1980's.

Thee were several changes made for the American after-school audience, Saki became "..water from a spring that once flowed fresh and clear...and will again if we succeed", the name of the ship was changed to ARGO, and some of the more graphic violence was excised.
With the glaring omission of  one line in season two* the changes were either of little consequence or arguably improved the story. This was a remarkable accomplishment, especially given the terrible record US companies had of dubbing foreign shows until recently, and the writers and voice actors for the American version deserve considerable credit.

One particular scene from episode one really hooked me on the show as a kid. It very much set the tone for the series. I recently encountered the Japanese version of episode 1, and though the action is almost identical the difference is glaring.

Compare and contrast the difference, between this scene in Starblazers and Yamato....and ask yourself, given the choices of course, speed and targeting, is there any difference in results?

A few Points:
For clarity, In Space Battleship Yamato, it is subsequently revealed that Missile Ship 17 is named Yukikaze, In Starblazers it is the Paladin.

In both cases the overall strategic and tactical situations are identical. Earth is under bombardment by the mass drivers of an alien force that has established an artillery outpost on Pluto. As an added bit of dramatic overkill, the space rocks are highly radioactive (and are called planet bombs). Admiral Okita (Capt. Avatar) has put together a scratch force built around the last surviving Earth BB and several escorts. The mission goal to destroy the enemy mass drivers and buy earth some time. The enemy is at least a couple of decades in advance of Earth technologically and has superior numbers as well. Earth vessels must close to point blank range to destroy enemy forces as their energy weapons have a short effective range...their most effective weapons are armor piercing nuclear tipped rockets..but those have an even shorter reach, thus it is critical to mission success that the force not be discovered until it is very close to its goal. The only Earth vessel with any major ability to fight while hurt is the BB. The escorts are very lacking in durability and redundancy.

Shortly before the clip begins the Earth forces encountered an enemy picket which called reinforcements that out number the Earth forces by 5 to one. With a quantitative and qualitative advantage all on one side, the cold equations of the N-square Law scarcely need to be consulted to determine the outcome. Though the Earth forces do, surprisingly, destroy some enemy ships, the battle is utterly hopeless.

At this point the two versions diverge....

Yamato:

relevant footage ends at 2:22

Star Blazers:

relevant footage ends at 2:11

My Take:
In both series, Okita/Avatar realizes that no strategic goal could be accomplished given the forces arrayed against them at Pluto. He  makes the perfectly sensible (and correct) decision to husband his remaining forces to fight at a later date rather than squander 490 lives and 2 very precious ships for no strategic (or even tactical) gain. In Yamato however, Mamorou Kodai then disobeys orders because his ego is bruised by the order to retreat and, in a fit of utter narcissism, leads the ship and 19 personnel under his command into oblivion. After the speech he gave, the American Military would have likely brought him back in irons had he been rescued. Kodai is certainly physically brave, but, while that is an important quality, it is no substitute for perspective, professionalism or the ability to follow orders. His moral cowardice causes him to waste his ship and the personnel entrusted to him to no good end.**

In Starblazers, Wildstar executes the same course changes Kodai did, fires weapons at the same targets with the same results and likewise loses his entire command. However his stated reason... "It's a simple matter of mathematics Captain. There are 470 people on your ship, 20 on mine." ...is not only correct from a humanitarian standpoint, it is tactically sound. The Battleship, however inadequate it may be, is a very hard to replace asset and 470 trained personnel are an invaluable resource. The destroyers JOB is to defend the capital ships. In his case the refusal to follow Avatars orders come off very much as a military professional who displays sufficient initiative to act upon information his command does not yet have..."...can't talk now! There are Gamilon ships approaching!". In contrast to the pointless sacrifice of Yukikaze, the Paladins last battle brought enough time for the Earth Battleship to escape. As an added bonus, the fact that Avatar and Orion were aboard made that have far reaching strategic implications...but that is only clear to fans of the show.

The final action of Paladin is reminiscent of Themopolae or the USS Johnston at Samar and is in the finest traditions of any military service. That of Yukikaze is more like the arrogance of Roland or the charge of the light brigade...but worse than either.

The "simple mathematics" line is in IMHO much better from a dramatic standpoint as well...

* As to the season 2 line in question:
** More damning still, is the implication, absent from the American version, that Kodai could have saved his ship and crew if he'd followed orders.

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June 13, 2009

"Oh..that was ME!?"

John Moffat fought a hard war. He served on 4 carriers in the Second World War, saw action in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific and survived the sinking of the HMS Ark Royal and the terrible fire aboard HMS Formidable. However, his most famous action took place early in the war.The target was the Nazi battleship Bismark, which was had sent the Home fleet flagship to the bottom of the Denmark Straits and was at extreme range. Churchill himself  ordered ordered the carrier Ark Royal to launch an attack....weather be damned....At the time HMS Ark Royal was  caught in hurricane force winds and taking green water over her flight deck.

"The ship was pitching 60ft, water was running over the decks and the wind was blowing at 70 or 80mph... And nobody mentions the deck hands who had to bring the planes up from the hangars  -  they did something special. After they brought them up they had to open
the wings which took ten men for each wing. And then they had to wind a handle to get the starters working."


 Only 3 pilots were able to get their machines into the air under those hellish conditions and those machines were Fairy Swordfish....utterly obsolete biplane Torpedo bombers.
3 Stringbags against a battleship.
3 torpedoed dropped in the face of a hellstorm of flack.
One of those torpedoes struck.
It jammed the Bismark's rudder.
That hit allowed the remnants of the home fleet to get within range.  
KMS Bismark died as a result.

Nearly 60 years later, John Moffat was informed by the Royal Navy that it had been his torpedo that landed what turned out to be a fatal blow. His response?
It gave me a sort of satisfaction.'


Brits...


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June 06, 2009

June 6...


...is not about Tetris.

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May 25, 2009

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May 20, 2009

Mike Rowe Explains It

A very engaging and thoughtful talk by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. He ties together some of his experiences on the show, philosophy, and the increasing contempt in which out society now holds manual labor.



He also points out the obvious but increasingly ignored fact that theory and practice are two very different things.

I highly recommend you take 20 minutes of your time and watch this. It is important.

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January 19, 2009

More Heroes

Much has been written about the recent astounding landing and rescue of flight 1549 and with good reason. It should be remembered that on a smaller scale heroes do there deeds all the time.


Case in point two USN petty officers stationed in Yokuska who recently saved a Japanese citizen who had fallen onto a busy Yamanote line track with the oncoming train already in view.

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The Reason for the 3 Day Weekend

In 15 or so hours Barak Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of this republic. I did not vote for the guy and although he has pleasantly surprised me with some of his appointments as well as many of his statements I am very concerned about the direction he will take this nation.

That being said, he is going to be the president...our president...and it is our job as citizens to give him a chance and to give him support as he faces the crushing set of challenges and dreadful options that our chief executives are confronted with.

There will no doubt be all sorts of things to bang ones head against ones keyboard over and policies that those of us on the right will oppose on principle. However, whatever misgivings many of us may have, the fact that a person of color has achieved the highest elected office is surely a cause for celebration.

Today is more than an extra day off. It is a day to reflect upon how far we have come as a nation. Because today is not only the day before this inaguration. It is the day we celebrate one of the great civil rights leaders of this country.



Dr. King's dream, far too long in coming, has finally been fuffilled.


He was a visionary who anticipated some of the best aspects of America today...but he did not live to see it....Hours after giving this speech he was assasinated.



I was born in 1970, so many of the injustices the civil rights movement was about are hard to comprehend. I encounter bigots of various flavors from time to time, but I frankly can't get my head around such absurd and alien notions as segregated water fountains, toilets, and restaurants or anti miscegenation laws...but for over a hundred fifty years, they were the reality.  Dr. King stood up to that awful reality, and he did so peacefully and with dignity.

Some perspective on that time can be gleaned from one of the more important documents of our nation, The Letter From a Birmingham Jail, which is quoted in its entirety below the fold.....
more...

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November 11, 2008

Thank You


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October 10, 2008

Last Survivor of HMS Hood Passes

Ted Briggs, the last of the 3 men who survived the destruction of the HMS Hood at the Battle of the Denmark Straits passed  away on the 6th.

Only 18 at the time of the ships loss, Briggs went on to serve for 30 years on the Royal Navy before retiring.
He was the president of the HMS Hood Association.



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July 21, 2008

Leading From the Front!

Eagle 1 has a follow up piece to this astounding tale of courage and seamanship.

Much like the original, the sequel would strain ones suspension of disbelief if  it were a film .

 John H. Morrill  had risen to the rank of commodore in the time since he got his surviving crew out of the hell that was Corrigodor. Despite the fact that Commodore was flag rank and with his wealth of experience he could have commanded a squadron of frontline warships, he requested command of a force of landing craft support ships....vessels so small and expendable that the Navy did not waste names on them.

Commodore Morrill was determined that the sailors assigned to this most perilous of duties should not feel that they were being thrown away...in the words of his 'flag' commander "The Commodore never asks a man to do anything he wouldn't do himself. He leads all the raiding parties ashore. "

Emphasis mine.

Read the whole thing.

One final note. Eagle 1 points out the unusual nature of Commadore Morril's volunteering in the context of the USN's attitude towards inshore warfare and the 'gator navy' in general. I find it telling that there is no US warship named for him nor does a search for his name on the USN website produce any results. No disrespect to the victor of Virginia Capes....but before we name another ship the DeGrasse...lets name one for this home grown hero.



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June 26, 2008

One of the Most Influential People You Have Never Heard Of

Colleen Doran has a long and informative post on Rose O'Neil, the inventor of the Kewpie Doll and a person far more important in the development of the film and comic industries than you probably know.

Go read the whole thing...it is worth it!


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June 13, 2008

Another great One Passes

The youngest person to have ever been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor since the Civil War has passed away.

 Rather Large for a 14 year old, Jack Lucas lied about his age to enlist in the Marines during World War 2. Just shy of his 17th birthday he saved his platoon on Iwo Jima.


Go read the whole story at CDR Salamander's.

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