Maritime Adventures, A Book Review

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 8143) HMS DUKE OF YORK battling against heavy seas and a north easterly gale of 50 to 60 knots, while maintaining her position in the battle squadron during an Arctic convoy to Russia (photographed from the aircraft carrier HMS VICTORIOUS). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119483

Not all effects of social isolation in the time of COVID are bad. Motivated by ennui and inspired by the news of a new film starring Tom Hanks, courtesy of an article in Military Officer journal, I am halfway through the book on which the film is based, The Good Shepard by C. S. Forester.

As a teenager, I was an avid fan of Forester’s extensive Horatio Hornblower series but I missed this book. Perhaps it’s just as well because familiarity with naval customs, procedures and technology is needed to fully appreciate this story and its gripping depiction of the stresses and peculiar challenges of commanding a ship and a convoy while fighting U-boats in the Atlantic during World War II.

As in his Hornblower series, the protagonist here is both admirable and all too human. With the benefit of having been on the bridges of both surface ships and submarines, I am finding it very easy to visualize the action. I just hope the movie lives up to the promise of the book. Seems to me that Hanks should be perfect for the part. It was previously scheduled to be released in June but has now been postponed pending resolution of the theater business.

I was intrigued by the ability of Forester to so realistically depict this naval yarn because there is no indication in the Amazon book summary or in his Wikipedia page of any naval service in his background. He was an unusual man, one of deserved fame but also controversial. His son wrote an uneven self-published biography of his father depicting him as a “complete liar”. There seems to be no reliable biography extant but I found some satisfying answers in this article from Encyclopedia.com.


Many of my favorite fiction authors have passed on. Is it just me, or has fiction declined in overall quality? In any case I’m now thinking of revisiting Forester’s Hornblower books and some others of his I previously missed. If you, dear reader, have other fictive suggestions, lay ‘em on us.

Posted in History, Movies, Submarines, U.S. Navy, Uncategorized, USN, War | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Coronavirus Clarity

This just in, a hilarious list from CURMUDGEON-AT-LARGE, highly deserving of this REBLOG.

Curmudgeon at Large

Many of you may be confused about the procedures to follow during the coronavirus pandemic.  Thankfully, FOAF (friend of a friend) has mercifully given us the clear, official coronavirus guidelines.

Follow. Them. Exactly.

Coronavirus clarity2

  1. Basically, you can’t leave the house for any reason, but if you have to, then you can.
  2. Masks are useless. But they will protect you. They can save you, no they can’t. They’re useless, but wear one anyway. Now they’re mandatory. Maybe. Or maybe not.
  3. Stores are closed, except for the ones that are open.
  4. You should not go to the hospital unless you have to go there. Stay out of the ER at all costs unless you’re having a medical emergency. Then it’s okay.
  5. This virus is deadly but still not too scary, except that sometimes it actually leads to a global disaster. Stay calm.
  6. There is no shortage of groceries in the supermarket, but there…

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The Times They Are A’changin’

COVID-19 has already changed lives radically, but it remains to be seen how much change we’ll see long-term, but some change seems inevitable because it’s happened before.  Its easy to see why people say “bless you” when someone sneezes.

Will table cloths make a comeback in restaurants? The way it has worked is that everyone eats with silverware or plasticware laid on a bare table that is wiped by the same rag for the whole place. Hard to think of a more-effective way to spread germs. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a small surcharge for a fresh tablecloth. What would it cost to launder one? Surely under a dollar. I see a role for government in doing this across the industry.

Will handshakes disappear or make a comeback?

The on-line dating industry will surely have to make adjustments, but just how I’m not sure. (Not my bag.)

Will business travel disappear? The mantra has always been that business is more efficiently done face-to-face, but I never liked business travel when I was in aerospace. I had enough family separation for a lifetime in the Navy.

Will theater disappear? Those are big crowds.  Or might theaters be redesigned to be more spacious, and consequently more exclusive and expensive?

Will general health improve? Restaurant portions are usually unrealistically large. I read today that there is a glut of butter on the market because restaurants were using a lot more of it than people do in their kitchens! (Mashed potatoes have a lot of it!)

I predict that self-checkout stations like those at Walmart will proliferate to other merchants.

Will movie-houses go under? Watching at home is so much better that I don’t understand why they are still operating. At the theater you can’t adjust the volume, you can’t pause the flick, and you have to sit in a usually-dirty area above a sticky floor and amid noisy people. And, you can’t bypass the previews.

The final death-knell of the town mall?

Will gyms and the YMCA’s weather this?

The toilet paper industry will adjust to a different level of production for the two main types, the nice soft stuff for homes and the slick, narrow stuff found in workplaces and restaurants. (Turns out the scarcity was not mostly due to hoarding but to people dining out less.)

Posted in Business, Culture, Economics, Healthcare | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

LOOSE LIPS?

I have been following with much interest the story about the COVID-19 outbreak on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier

credit: businessinsider.com

USS Theodore Roosevelt and the unceremonious canning of its CO, Captain Crozier. Acting SECNAV Modly says he fired him not because he failed to follow the chain of command but because, “In sending (his email request to SECNAV) out pretty broadly, he did not take care to ensure that it couldn’t be leaked.”

Some context is needed here. Modly himself has come under public criticism because he has pursued “business as usual” in the Navy while apparently doing little to prepare for the inevitable impact of the virus on close-quartered crews. Whether this is justified, I don’t know, but it seems clear that a top officer’s career is now toast because of political embarrassment. This is further evidenced by a recent NY Times report that acting SECDEF Esper had “urged American military commanders overseas not to make any decisions related to the coronavirus that might surprise the White House or run afoul of President Trump’s messaging on the growing health challenge.”

Captain Crozier did not get his job by being stupid or ignorant, needless to say. My very strong suspicion is that his initial reporting of the virus aboard the TR was not getting the attention it deserved and he was leveraging wider knowledge in the Navy community to get proactive action and save sailors’ lives. And, it unintentionally leaked to the press. I have no doubt his actions saved lives.

I recommend at least the following two links on the situation:

https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/opinion/articles/2020-04-01/an-aircraft-carrier-is-no-place-to-fight-coronavirus

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/03/only-official-fired-over-virus-captain-who-tried-protect-his-crew/?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most

Posted in Accountability, military, Politics, USN | 8 Comments

10 Real President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines For America

I can’t think of anything to add to this reblog! List of X has sussed out the real story here!

List of X

Many of you have probably received (or will receive) a postcard in the mail named “President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines For America”. The postcard has many usual suggestions on various measures aimed to slow the spread of the novel COVID-19 that we’ve all heard a thousand times, like washing your hands and avoiding public places. However, since the card says “President Trump’s Guidelines” and not “CDC Guidelines”, it’s likely that President Trump did write his guidelines personally, and then the Deep State bureaucrats at the CDC rewrote the guidelines to turn it into a useless mush. Here is how the guidelines must have looked like when President Trump wrote them personally.

1)  Don’t get sick and die. I like those who don’t get sick and die.

2)  If you are an person older that 75, you should isolate yourself and end your presidential campaign against me immediately.

3)  If you…

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‘The Day Democracy Died’

Just when you thought Herr Trumpster had mastered social media, a modern musical Thomas Paine has risen to the challenge! Hope you enjoy this as much as I.

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Past As Prologue

credit: knowyour meme.com

I recently came upon a 1949 review of George Orwell’s then-new dystopian novel, 1984 and was struck anew by its insight into human addiction to power. Power is intrinsic to the motivations of oligarchs, dictators and, I dare say, to most politicians but, I submit, Donald Trump is an epitome of the breed.  How else to explain his narcissism and obsessive, impulsive behavior?  Below, then, is a segment of reviewer Lionel Trilling’s take on the book that became a classic, courtesy of the New Yorker.

See if you agree with me that Orwell’s theme echoes present-day symptoms of income inequality, incessant small-scale war, lying, corruption, public paranoia, advocacy of torture, propaganda, and the quashing of the free press.

In 1984, nationalism as we know it has at last been overcome, and the world is organized into three great political entities. All profess the same philosophy, yet despite their agreement, or because of it, the three Super-States are always at war with each other, two always allied against one, but all seeing to it that the balance of power is kept, by means of sudden, treacherous shifts of alliance. This arrangement is established as if by the understanding of all, for although it is the ultimate aim of each to dominate the world, the immediate aim is the perpetuation of war without victory and without defeat. It has at last been truly understood that war is the health of the State; as an official slogan has it, “War Is Peace.” Perpetual war is the best assurance of perpetual absolute rule. It is also the most efficient method of consuming the production of the factories on which the economy of the State is based. The only alternative method is to distribute the goods among the population. But this has its clear danger. The life of pleasure is inimical to the health of the State. It stimulates the senses and thus encourages the illusion of individuality; it creates personal desires, thus potential personal thought and action.

But the life of pleasure has another, and even more significant, disadvantage in the political future that Orwell projects from his observation of certain developments of political practice in the last two decades. The rulers he envisages are men who, in seizing rule, have grasped the innermost principles of power. All other oligarchs have included some general good in their impulse to rule and have played at being philosopher-kings or priest-kings or scientist-kings, with an announced program of beneficence. The rulers of Orwell’s State know that power in its pure form has for its true end nothing but itself, and they know that the nature of power is defined by the pain it can inflict on others. They know, too, that just as wealth exists only in relation to the poverty of others, so power in its pure aspect exists only in relation to the weakness of others, and that any power of the ruled, even the power to experience happiness, is by that much a diminution of the power of the rulers.

Big Brother lives.

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VIOLENCE!

Credit: Imgur.com

What does science have to say about man’s tendency to violence? That is the subject of the latest episode of PBS’s NOVA program. Surprisingly, someone has found a way to quantify episodes of violence throughout history by statistical analysis of writings and make a very convincing case that, despite two world wars, violence is actually on the wane.  Needless to say, however, one of several individuals through technology now has the power to end human life as we know it.  All the more important, I submit, that we strive to consider this knowledge in crafting political checks and balances.

Given the fraught times we live in, I am finding this fascinating. Stephen Pinker, the Harvard psychologist and intellectual, is prominently featured. I commend this program to all my readers who, like myself, continue to puzzle over the meaning of life and human motivations.

Posted in Culture, Ethics / Morality, Politics | 5 Comments

ODD THOUGHTS

Odd thoughts go through my head:

Woodrow Wilson’s enemy was the Kaiser
Herbert Hoover’s enemy was economics
FDR’s enemies were the axis powers
HST’s enemy was communism
Ike’s enemy was the USSR
LBJ’s enemy was arrogance
Nixon’s enemy was himself
Carter’s enemy was micromanagement
Reagan’s enemy was the USSR
Bush I’s enemy was candor
Clinton’s enemy was testosterone
Bush II’s enemy was impetuosity
Obama’s enemy was the GOP
Trump’s enemy is democracy

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 417

A Frank Angle’s OITS posts are always thought-provoking. This one was particularly so for me because of its link to “ranked-choice voting”, and a fascinating link about the speed of light. Enjoy!

A Frank Angle

Like much of the country, winter has arrived in Cincinnati earlier than normal – and with prolonged temperatures delivering new daily records. Brrrrrrrr ….

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, is next to take the stage for a weekend concert. Schedule: Next Saturday, 23rd November 1:00 AM (Eastern US)

I continue to enjoy going through my blog closet. On the other hand, that cupboard is on the way to being bare.

I had my first grapefruit of the new season. With still a bit of bitterness that sweeter grapefruits do not have, I’ll try again after in two weeks.

By the time 2020 starts, and era will end – the last Sears store in Cincinnati will close. Just think – they could have been the Amazon of today before Amazon was Amazon.

While crushing their most recent opponent, the Benevolent Impalers (8-2) are in a 3-way tie for first place…

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