Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I Was Going To...

Google Street View (Source)
Write a post about the Florida school shooting...

Then I realized that nothing I write or say will solve any problems in this world.

I thought about the three kids, JROTC cadets, who died trying to save their classmates. They're the kind of kids who, if they had had the chance to grow up, would have been the kind of people who run into danger to try and halt its spread, its impact. Then it struck me, they were already that kind of people. I was going to write about them, then I thought, "What about the other 14 who died? What about them?"

Then it struck me, what about the kids who get gunned down everyday in the streets of Chicago, in Detroit, heck, even in Providence here in Little Rhody? Where is the outrage at their deaths? Are their deaths somehow less worthy of note then those folks who were gunned down in Florida? At a school.

Shortly after that church shooting down in Texas, one of the ladies of my church asked me, "Could that happen here? Is there anything we could do to prevent that?"

My first reaction was, "No, can't happen here." The I realized that yes, it could happen here, it can happen anywhere. Like I told her, all we can do is stay alert. Short of having armed guards though, there is no way to prevent such attacks. But having armed guards would only lessen the damage done. In the time it takes to realize that someone is armed and is about to open fire, it's already too late. They are going to get rounds out before a good guy can react.

On the other hand, if they know that there are other armed folks about who will return fire, it might deter them. It might not. It depends on the situation.

The calls for "sensible gun control" always flare up after these shootings. What does that mean?

Not allow felons to have guns? That's already the case, that law is on the books. Hasn't stopped a felon who wants a gun get a gun, has it? Recreational drugs are, for the most part, illegal. Does that prevent people from buying and using them?

Driving while intoxicated? Illegal.

Theft? Illegal.

Sure write a new law, that'll fix everything. After the Station Nightclub fire here in Little Rhody, 15 years ago, there was a hue and cry that new laws needed to be passed to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. Those who pointed out that if the existing laws had been enforced then the fire might not have happened were either shouted down or ignored. Would enforcement of the laws already on the books have prevented that tragedy? Maybe. But you can't legislate against stupidity. Like Forrest said, "Stupid is as stupid does."

The world can be a horrid place at times, even here in the U.S. of A. But there are places that are far worse.

I have no answers. I will say one thing, all of the gun control laws currently on the books are unconstitutional for the most part. What's worse is that many of those laws are completely ineffective.

Do I think a person should have some training before owning a firearm? Yes, yes, I do. But who provides that training? One's parents, the military (I had both), the police, the State itself (whatever that means, probably a new bureaucracy which would quickly fill with useless bureaucrats)?

Common sense is really rather rare when you think about it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Say It Ain't So!

(Photo Source, Painting Source)
So the other day I was running through the blogroll and the Good Captain of HMS Defiant had a post up which I found rather painful. Now if you went over there and read that post, then the opening graphic might make sense*. What I found most galling is that I had just returned from that purveyor of fine written material not 30 minutes before reading that post.

Every now and then The Missus Herself et moi travel to our nearest Barnes & Noble for to peruse what they have on the shelves. We usually make an afternoon of it by hitting the book store then going out to eat. Which we did Saturday last. I purchased five books, all history related, two by an author I had never heard of before but which upon reading the first page of one of his books, I was hooked, you could not have pried that book from my fingers with a battalion of Marines backed by a squadron of F/A-18s, but I digress. (Alright, it may have only taken an enraged second lieutenant, but he or she would have to be a BIG second lieutenant. I may be old but I'm shifty and I fight dirty.)


Here's the thing, when I go to a bookstore I'm usually there to browse, to look around, see what's new in the history section, check the discount racks (you would not believe some of the great deals I've found there, but then again, if you read as much as I do, you've probably been there yourself), and I will always hit the fiction section to see if any of my favorite authors have anything new out. I go in not knowing what I want.

The online thing is "okay" if you know exactly what you want. I fear though that that would limit me to the authors I already know, not really willing to take a chance on an interesting title amongst the others I see on the shelf.

I also don't like the idea of some software wienie deciding what my search means. It's not that the online world is rife with bad software, though there are days I think it is, it's more about how I know the way software gets to "market."

Someone has a great idea, someone agrees to undertake said great idea, then "management" wades in to screw it up. Do I think we'll ever have cars that "drive themselves"? Probably.

Will I buy one? Absolutely not.

I am by no means a Luddite, but there are certain things which should have a presence in the real world (meatspace as I've heard it called, a term I don't care for, and FWIW, Blogger marked "meatspace" as a misspelled word, stupid software). Bookstores should have a presence in the real world, so we browsers can just walk on in and see what we can see. (And I normally buy what I see. Much to the chagrin of the love of my life who bemoans my already overcrowded bookshelves.)

But I fear that the physical book store may be doomed to extinction. I hope I'm wrong. (Don't get me started on electronic books. Damn it! I want to hold it in my hand, feel the pages, smell the ink, etc., etc. Hhmm, maybe I am a bit of a Luddite...)

Perhaps my battle cry should be "Remember Borders!"**

* If not, let me 'splain it to you - I superimposed a painting of the Alamo over a photo of a Barnes & Noble in Tennessee. Yes, I am comparing B&N to the defiant, but futile, stand of the Texians down in San Antone back in 1836. Hoping of course that I'm wrong and that B&N will come roaring back like Sam Houston at San Jacinto.
** Not to be confused with the nautical "Repel Borders!" Also, "Remember B. Dalton!" which just sounds weird. Then there's "Remember Waldenbooks!" Which some might confuse with Thoreau's "On Walden Pond." All places from which I have purchased many a beloved book...

Monday, February 19, 2018

Parades and other formations

A week or so ago, Sarge made the pronouncements that this blog site was designed by Forrest Gump.

Then he proceeded to discuss an unusual melange of subjects to include marching in parades while in the AF.  Although not unheard of, parades are fairly rare once a person finishes training and enters "active" active duty.

However, some things are up to the whims of the Commander and what the Commander wants the Commander gets.  Even if it does screw up the training for the Mission of the Air Force ("Fly, Fight and Win! Don't you ever forget it!).  As has been discussed at great lengths on this blog as well as others, some people in positions of authority put that mission way behind other priorities such as, say, the advancement of their careers.

Which brings us to parades.  Being a product of ROTC, and not, say, the Colorado School for wayward Boys and Girls, parades were not an every week event.  We marched at a few events, primarily the Detachment Change of Command and an occasional Corps event.  I was on the drill team (Sabers were our weapon), so did a little bit more than others.  The only time we marched with any regularity, say daily, was at ROTC summer camp. 

4 weeks of pure hell restricted living, up at 0600, run a mile and a half, chow, morning formation which included marching, some class, chow, afternoon formation, which included some marching, some class, evening chow,  some other make work activity, then light's out. Rinse and repeat.
These are actually basic trainees at Lackland, but there was really nothing different about our uniforms at the time, no rank, no insignia.

During that time, we had to memorize the sequence and exact pronunciation of each command in the Pass in Review process.  It was a specified number of commands that got everybody from slouching around in a general gaggle to the point where they passed in front of the dignitary resembling Roman Legions.  The Air Force was so adamant about its usefulness to an Air Force Officer, they published a 119 page regulation on it. Read it and weep sleep.

I recovered that area of brain where that information was stored, very shortly after commissioning, and didn't have need for it until I got to Holloman as an IP.  Shortly after I arrived, the Air Force restructured the base, which had 3 wings (49TFW -F-15s, 479TFTW -AT-38s and the Test Wing - all sorts of airplanes).  Needing jobs for General Officers, else they might not be able to keep them, they created an Air Division and put the Wing Kings under him.

Needing something to do, the new Commander promptly set out to make sure his Air Division was kept "ship shape and Bristol fashioned".  Not really needed as the F-15s were quite proficient at "Eagle-ing" and the AT-38s were training their fledgling fighter pilots without issues and the Test Wing was, well, "testy".  

But clearly something needed to be done!  Because, after all, He was the commander.

So, he instituted a new policy, the first and third Thursday of every month there would be a ceremony for to hand out awards, retire folks, and generally show that the general was in charge.  One of the 7 flying squadrons (The test wing, not being a TAC resource was somehow exempt) would set up the parade.  The Flying Squadron and the Maintenance units would provide the personnel.

It would be a grand and majestic sort of thing.

Oh, and the Squadron in charge would also do the flyover.  

So not only, did they have to march, they had to generate 5 sorties (4 plus spare).  So 10 maintenance guys, plus a supervisor and assorted other maintainers, plus 5 pilots, plus 1 ground observer to coordinate arrival time, were unavailable for the parade.  However, the oporder (yes, I'm not kidding there was an operations order laying all this out) specified a minimum number of persons in the parade.  Which usually could only be met by borrowing persons from another unit.  "Hank, I'm short 5 guys for the parade this week? Can I borrow them from you?  I'll repay you at the next parade."

It's now our first turn in the barrel.  We're out there in front.  The boss and First Sergeant out in front with one of the Enlisted from Life Support as the Guidon bearer.  We've marched into position without too much issue.  A couple of change steps at the beginning, but not so much as you'd notice.  Squadron Halt, Left Face, At Ease all went without problem.  

We're standing there, in the dry Holloman heat of a nice August afternoon, trying not to perspire so as to ruin our uniforms as the Commander and assorted dignitaries conversed in his Air Conditioned office.  Finally, they deign to mount the review stand.

The boss, calls us to attention, and proceeds to issue the commands to reform the formation.  Attention, Right Face, Dress right Dress.  Left arms shot out, heads cocked 45 right.  A bit of shuffling to get everything straight. Then a pause.........


I crank my eyes as far left as they can go, to see the boss with a look of terror on his face.  

He can't remember the next command!


Arm's starting to get a little heavy.

Finally, I see him take a deep breath and then barks

"Put your ARMS ----Down!

A couple of hundred arms smacked down with the sound of one.

Flexibility, thy name is Fighter Pilot.

At another Parade later on in my Holloman career, the Commander issued an edict to the boss that he'd noticed that the flyover's lately had been a little lax in both timing and formation.  He said that this flyover had better look like the Thunderbirds and be on time.  He was going to fine the boss $1 per second early or late over the review stand.

So it is written, so it shall be.

The boss comes in to my office and shows me the directive to "look like the Thunderbirds and be on time".  I said I could be on time, no sweat, but what did the boss want me to do to "look like the Thunderbirds"?  He just smiled...

Lord, did I have some good bosses.

So, being the Squadron Scheduler, I had a bit of power to build my formation with whom I wanted.  

I gathered the 6 of us in a briefing room and told them what the plan was.  Offered them an out, but none took it.

The day arrives and we're briefing it up.  We've computed the timing from the Tule Peak, a small hill 13 miles north of the runway and our initial point (IP), down to the second, with make up speeds for early or late.  
13.56 miles = 1 minute 56.2 seconds to be precise (oops 7 miles/min not 6)

We WILL be on time.

The day arrives and we take off and head out to a close in practice area where we warm up with some mild finger tip formation maneuvering.  The spare flies nearby to critique the formation spacing and uniformity.  

Fully warmed up, we move into the final formation for the flyby and practice a bit while, again, the spare critiques spacing.  

We then proceed to the IP and loiter in a loose formation while contacting our ground controller for final approach clearing.

He gives us the 30 second warning, which tells us when to depart the IP, I rock the formation into position, and clear the spare off.

We are right over the IP as the Ground Controller says cleared.  This is going to be good!

I give a slight wing rock and #4 moves into position.

I feel the slight nose down pressure as he arrives under my tail.

Timing is perfect and what I can see of the formation is perfect.

Look like the Thunderbirds? Aye!

We arrive over the review stand at 420k approximately 500' in the air and on time.  

Exit the general area, shake the formation out, reenter the traffic pattern and land.  

Taxi, shutdown and debrief were normal.

The boss buys the beers for the debrief.

We arrive at the Club and are having a salutary round of beers when I feel a hand clamp my shoulder.

It's the Commander.

"Do you know what you did?"

"No Sir"

"You were a second late! Cost your commander a dollar!"

"Here, let me pay it for him" as I slapped a buck on the bar.

He later made three stars, but retired with 2.  Only General officer I've ever gotten on gun camera film with the pipper on the cockpit.  He was in an Eagle, I was in an AT-38.

Unfortunately, I'm recovering from a bout with "La gripe".  My wingman, Schmedly, who usually takes care of the editing of my posts, today volunteered to take care of my napping duties instead.  However, I am now going to recommence those duties.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Last Valley

A Scene of the Thirty Years War - Ernest Crofts
The Thirty Years War ended on the 15th of May in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia. What began as a series of religious squabbles in the German states eventually dragged the major powers of Europe into open warfare. The bulk of the fighting was in what we now call Germany.

Over 8,000,000 people died. From the war itself, from disease, and from starvation. There were areas of Germany which lost 25 to 40% of their population. The male population in many areas was reduced by as much as half.

The Treaty of Westphalia marked the virtual end of the feudal system in western Europe and also marks the birth of the nation-state. But the thirty years preceding that treaty were a savage and horrible time.

Friday evening I went looking for a film which I remember watching long ago. Probably due to researching material for yesterday's post on the last stand of the Swiss Guard. One of the paintings I looked at (and have used here on the blog before) was of a unit of pikemen, surrounded by the detritus of war, at the Battle of Rocroi.

This one -

Rocroi, el último tercio (Rocroi, The Last Tercio) - Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau
Why that painting had me charging off to Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube for a dimly remembered movie tells you something about the way my mind works. Not sure what, but there it is.

The film (I eventually found it, and watched it on YouTube) was The Last Valley -

Michael Caine and Omar Sharif in The Last Valley
At the opening of the film, Omar Sharif's character, Vogel - a teacher, is fleeing from the war itself. Like many during the Thirty Years War he has been reduced to the clothes on his back and only what he can carry. He sees horrific sights along the way, including the pillaging of a village he has stumbled into, seeking food and shelter.

Eventually he finds his way to a village in a high Alpine valley (the movie was shot in the Tirol) which is apparently deserted. He is closely followed by a band of mercenaries (of both Protestants and Catholics, for the Thirty Years War began as a religious war and only later became a struggle between warring kings) led by Michael Caine's character, the Captain.

The villagers eventually return to be surprised by the soldiers. The Captain and his men wish to pillage the village and return with what they find to their army. Vogel convinces the Captain that winter is approaching, if they return to the army whatever they find in the way of food will disappear "down a thousand throats" and he and his men will face an uncertain future. But if they stay in the valley for the winter, they will have plenty of food and shelter.

The Captain agrees.

Much of the film is about the interactions between the soldiers and the villagers. There is friction between those who wish to pillage the village and return to the army and those who just want a few months of peace. There is friction between Catholic and Protestant, the Captain's band is a mix of the two. The village is Catholic. It's a good film of people who have found a refuge from an insane world.

I cannot imagine living in such times. Armies, composed of many mercenaries, taking what they wanted, killing all who stood in their way, disease killing thousands. There really were very few places that were safe.

For those who think the times we live in are bad, and admittedly for some they are, there are areas of the world now which rival the Thirty Years War for disease and suffering, for the most part we have it good. For whatever reason, there are some in the world who feast on suffering and lies, even in our own country.

My home is my last valley, it is my refuge from a sometimes insane world.

I aim to keep it that way.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Don't Mess With These Guys!

Schlechten Krieg - Hans Holbein
Cavalry once dominated the European battlefield. Armored men with lances on armored horses ran down infantry at will. As most of the infantry were simple peasants rousted out of their fields to serve in their lord's levies, armed with older, cheap weapons if they had weapons at all. Many carried their farm implements to war. Make no mistake, some of those could be deadly, but not usually against men on horseback.

While archers could, and did, decimate cavalry when properly emplaced, archers took a long time to train. So cavalry ruled the battlefield for a long time.

While long weapons, like the pike and the spear, had been around for a long time (Alexander the Great's phalanx carried a very long pike, the sarissa, in ancient times and they were very effective with it) their use by large formations faded. The Roman legions were far more mobile than the Macedonian phalanx.

After the fall of Rome, Europe devolved into competing fiefdoms. Charlemagne's empire rose and fragmented over time. Armored horse were all the rage. Then somewhere along the line, someone figured out (or remembered) that horses won't charge into a hedgehog of spears. The pike began to reappear in the hands of men trained to use it.

Switzerland in this modern day and age is known for a number of things: Swiss Army knives, Swiss cheese, Swiss banking, skiing, chocolates, watches, and more. A little known feature of modern Switzerland is their military. Military service is compulsory and while the standing army isn't that large, the reserve system keeps a number of trained men available. In addition, reservists keep their personal equipment at home, including their personal weapons. (Up until 2007 they had their ammunition at home as well.)

While the Swiss military hasn't fought a war in quite a while, the Swiss cantons were once famous for their pikemen.

An example of why other European countries leave the Swiss alone. Tough to campaign in the Alps!
At one time units of Swiss pikemen were the most feared infantry in Europe
During the Late Middle Ages, mercenary forces grew in importance in Europe, as veterans from the Hundred Years War and other conflicts came to see soldiering as a profession rather than a temporary activity, and commanders sought long-term professionals rather than temporary feudal levies to fight their wars. Swiss mercenaries (Reisläufer) were valued throughout Late Medieval Europe for the power of their determined mass attack in deep columns with the pike and halberd. Hiring them was made even more attractive because entire ready-made Swiss mercenary contingents could be obtained by simply contracting with their local governments, the various Swiss cantons—the cantons had a form of militia system in which the soldiers were bound to serve and were trained and equipped to do so. Some Swiss also hired themselves out individually or in small bands.
The warriors of the Swiss cantons had gradually developed a reputation throughout Europe as skilled soldiers, due to their successful defense of their liberties against their Austrian Habsburg* overlords, starting as early as the late thirteenth century, including remarkable upset victories over heavily armoured knights at Morgarten and Laupen. This was furthered by later successful campaigns of regional expansion (mainly into Italy). By the fifteenth century they were greatly valued as mercenary soldiers, particularly following their series of notable victories in the Burgundian Wars in the latter part of the century. The standing mercenary army of king Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (Black Army of Hungary 1458–1490) also contained Swiss pikemen units, who were held in high honour by the king. The native term Reisläufer literally means "one who goes to war" and is derived from Middle High German Reise, meaning "military campaign". 
The Swiss, with their head-down attack in huge columns with the long pike, refusal to take prisoners, and consistent record of victory, were greatly feared and admired—for instance, Machiavelli addresses their system of combat at length in chapter 12 of The Prince. The Valois Kings of France, in fact, considered it a virtual impossibility to take the field of battle without Swiss pikemen as the infantry core of their armies. (Although often referred to as "pikemen", the Swiss mercenary units also contained halberdiers as well until several decades into the sixteenth century, as well as a small number of skirmishers armed with crossbows or crude firearms to precede the rapid advance of the attack column.) 
The young men who went off to fight, and sometimes die, in foreign service had several incentives—limited economic options in the still largely rural cantons; adventure; pride in the reputation of the Swiss as soldiers; and finally what military historian Sir Charles Oman describes as a pure love of combat and warfighting in and of itself, forged by two centuries of conflict. (Source)
Eventually other countries adopted the Swiss fighting style, notably the Spanish with their famous tercio.
The tercio was an administrative unit with command of up to 3,000 soldiers, subdivided originally into 10, later 12 compañías, made up of pikemen, swordsmen and arquebusiers or musketeers. These companies were deployed in battle and were further subdivided into units of 30 soldiers. These smaller units could be deployed individually or brought together to form what were sometimes called Spanish squares. These powerful infantry squares were also much used by other European powers, especially the Imperial Army of the Holy Roman Empire. (Source)
The Swiss Guards at the Vatican are the descendants of the Swiss pikemen who once terrorized the battlefields of Europe. These chaps -

Are the military ancestors of these chaps -

The Pontifical Swiss Guard have watched over the Pope at the Vatican since the late 15th Century, though they were officially created on the 22nd of January 1506, though Swiss mercenaries were in the pay of the Pontiff since at least 1497. The Swiss Guard is the only mercenary unit from Switzerland by law since 1859. The soldiers are individually recruited from some of the best soldiers of the Swiss Army.

While their duties include the ceremonial posting of those colorful sentries one sees around the Vatican, they have a deadly purpose, protect the Pope, head of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1527, during the Sack of Rome, they more than earned their pay -
On the morning of May 6th, 1527, from his headquarters set up in St. Onofrio's Convent on the Gianicolo hill, Captain General Bourbon launched a series of attacks on Rome. During one of them, at the Torrione Gate, while leading the assault of the walls, he himself was mortally wounded. After just a moment's hesitation, the Spanish mercenaries broke through the Torrione Gate, while the landsknechts invaded the road of Borgo Santo Spirito and St. Peter's. The Swiss Guard, standing firm at the foot of the obelisk (now in St. Peter's Square, but then near the German cemetery within the Vatican close to the Basilica), together with the few remnants of the Roman troops, resisted desperately. Their Captain, Kaspar Röist was wounded, and later killed by the Spaniards in his quarters in front of his wife, Elizabeth Klingler. Of the 189 Swiss Guards, only 42 survived, the ones who, when all was lost, under the command of Hercules Göldli guarded Clement VII’s retreat to safety in Castel Sant’Angelo. The rest fell gloriously, massacred together with two hundred fugitives, on the steps of the High Altar in St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Clement VII and his men were able to escape to safety, thanks to the "Passetto", a secret corridor which Pope Alexander VI had built along the top of the wall connect­ing the Vatican with Castel Sant’Angelo. The savage horde was in a hurry, for fear that the League troups would cut off their retreat. Across the Sisto bridge the landsknechts and Spaniards fell on the city and for eight days committed every sort of violence, theft, sacrilege and massacre, even the tombs of the Popes, including that of Julius II, were violated in search of spoils. There were as many as 12 thousand dead and the booty amounted to ten million ducats. All that happened cannot really be regarded with surprise because the imperial army and in particular Frundsberg's landsknechts, were animated by a violent spirit of crusade against the Pope. In front of Castel Sant’Angelo where the Pope had retreated, a parody of a religious procession was set up, in which Clement was asked to cede the sails and oars of the "Navicella" (boat of Peter) to Luther, and the angry soldiery shouted "Vivat Lutherus pontifex!" (Long live Luther, Pontiff!) The name of Luther was incised with the tip of a sword across the painting of the "Dispute of the Most Holy Sacrament" in the Rooms of Raffaello, out of disdain, while on another wall a graffito hailed Charles V, emperor. Concise and exact was the description given by the Prior of the Canons of St. Augustine at that time: "Mali fuere Germani, pejores Itali, Hispani vero pessimi." (The Germans were bad, the Italians were worse, the Spaniards were the worst.) Besides the irreplaceable damage of the destruction of the relics, during the Sack of Rome, inestimable art treasures, namely the greater part of the Church's finest artisan-made gold and silver ware, were lost forever. On June 5th, Clement had to surrender and to accept heavy conditions: he had to cede the fortresses of Ostia, Civitavecchia, and Civita Castellana, to hand over the cities of Modena, Parma and Piacenza, and to pay the sum of four thousand ducats. Moreover, a ransom for the freedom of prisoners was demanded. The papal garrison was replaced by four companies of Germans and Spaniards, and two hundred landsknechts took the place of the Swiss Guard which had been suppressed. The Pope obtained permission for the surviving Swiss Guards to join the new Guard, but only 12 of them accepted, among them Hans Gutenberg of Chur and Albert Rosin of Zurich. The others wished to have nothing to do with the hated landsknechts. (Source)
Of course, Bad Ass of the Week featured a post about the Swiss pikemen here. Yes, they use adult language over there and are often over the top, but they tell a good story. And because this whole post was occasional reader Paweł's idea (and a good one it was), I thought I'd also have one of his favorite bands tell the story of the Swiss heroes who fell that day.

Tough guys those fellows in the odd uniforms.

I wouldn't mess with them!

Dzięki Paweł, świetny pomysł!

* Oddly enough the Hapsburgs originated in Switzerland. The dynasty is named after their seat of origin, the Habsburg Castle founded by Radbot, Count of Habsburg in the Swiss Canton of Aargau.
The origins of the name of the castle are uncertain. Most people assume the name to be derived from the High German Habichtsburg (Hawk Castle), but some historians and linguists are convinced that the name comes from the Middle High German word ‘hab/ hap’ meaning fjord, as there is a river with a ford nearby. The first documented use of the name by the dynasty itself has been traced to the year 1108.

Friday, February 16, 2018


The post I was attempting to write on Thursday evening (last night) was rapidly getting...
  • unclear
  • confused
  • unintelligible
  • incomprehensible
  • hard to follow
  • disjointed
  • disconnected
  • disordered
  • mixed up
  • garbled
  • jumbled
  • scrambled
  • muddled
  • rambling
  • wandering
  • disorganized
  • illogical
  • inarticulate
  • mumbling
  • slurred
  • All of the above
In a word, incoherent. I sat there and nothing was making much sense. In fact, I noticed a startling inability to even type. I was becoming incomprehensible.

So I thought it best to down tools, stand easy, and spend the night vegetating, perhaps even sleeping.

Know this, that as you read this particular post (which took far too long to compose) I am recumbent in my rack, sleeping the sleep of the weary. Fortunately I have this day off (tomorrow as I type, today as you read) and have decided to lie low.

I won't ever again try to write an historical post while exhausted. You Swiss pikemen will just have to wait until I've had more sleep.

Bis gleich...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Best Admiral, Ever

Admiral Yi Soon Shin

So a few of you pinged me about doing some Korean history, perhaps get The Missus Herself to write a post. Well, that first thing is happening right now, the second thing, well, don't hold your breath. When I mentioned that to the love of my life, my raison d'être, she smiled and said, "No." Then proceeded to tell me a wee bit of Korean history which elicited the standard Buckism, "I had no ideer." Which I will relate to you someday, POCIR.

Now about that title, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Really Sarge? Never heard of this guy, and you're hinting that he's better than the great Nelson?" Well, yeah, I am sort of leaning that way, but what did an admiral of the Royal Navy have to say?
It is always difficult for Englishmen to admit that Nelson ever had an equal in his profession, but if any man is entitled to be so regarded, it should be this great naval commander of Asiatic race who never knew defeat and died in the presence of the enemy; of whose movements a track-chart might be compiled from the wrecks of hundreds of Japanese ships lying with their valiant crews at the bottom of the sea, off the coasts of the Korean peninsula... and it seems, in truth, no exaggeration to assert that from first to last he never made a mistake, for his work was so complete under each variety of circumstances as to defy criticism... His whole career might be summarized by saying that, although he had no lessons from past history to serve as a guide, he waged war on the sea as it should be waged if it is to produce definite results, and ended by making the supreme sacrifice of a defender of his country. (The Influence of the Sea on The Political History of Japan, pp. 66–67, Admiral George Alexander Ballard, Source.)
Although I might wax eloquent and sing the praises of Admiral Yi myself, I found an accurate (and rather humorous) account of the Admiral's career over at Bad Ass of the Week (which I really need to add to the Blog Roll). For the faint of heart, they use adult, sergeant-like, and longshoreman-like words over there, ye have been warned. With that in mind, go read this.

I hope you found that edifying and educational. I know I did.

Going into battle against 130 warships escorting numerous transports with only 13 ships under his command, none of them the first ironclad in history (sorry CSS Virginia and USS Monitor, the famous 거북선, or "Turtle Ship" was first) takes some very big, brass cojones. Not to mention which, he won!

(Good article about the Turtle Ship at the source of this photo.)
Another good article about these very effective warships is here. There's a video as well!

Admiral Yi is one of Korea's most honored heroes, in both halves of the peninsula. A guy you should know. As to him being better than Nelson? Let's let Admiral Togo (victor of the Battle of Tsushima Straight over the Russians in 1905) give his opinion -
Admiral Togo regarded Admiral Yi as his superior. At a party held in his honor, Togo took exception to a speech comparing him to Lord Nelson and Yi Sun-sin.
It may be proper to compare me with Nelson, but not with Korea’s Yi Sun-sin, for he has no equal. (The Imjin War, by Samuel Hawley, pg. 490, Source.)
So there's your first taste of Korean history, there will be more!