Friday, August 31, 2012

Spectacular Moon

Blue moon tonight. Bright, round, clear. Nice to see.

Seventy Years Ago: Saratoga Torpedoed - Again

August 31, 1942, east of the Southern Solomons, Japanese submarine I-26 put a torpedo into USS Saratoga's starboard side. The 888-foot carrier tried to avoid the torpedo, but couldn't turn in time.

The explosion damaged one of the electrical switchboards and shorted out the ship's turbo-electric propulsion system. By early afternoon, the electricians had jury-rigged enough power to drive the ship at ten knots toward a repair anchorage at Tongatapu. Two weeks later, she left Tongatapu and on 21 September pulled into the Pearl Harbor shipyard for more permanent repairs. She returned to the Solomons area in November.

This was the second time Saratoga had been put out of action by Japanese submarine torpedoes.

Seventy Years Ago: Overseas Movement

By 1942, America's total miles of railroad had declined slightly from the peak of 1910, but still there were nearly 250,000 miles of rail.

By late August, the soldiers making up the 27th Air Depot Group thought their troop train had covered most of that distance as they wound back and forth, north to south and east to west from Mobile, Alabama to the West Coast.

The rail cars lacked air conditioning. To get a breath of ventilation, the soldiers had to lower the windows. What they breathed in was not fresh air, but air mingled with the sulphurous smell of either coal or barely processed fuel oil that burned in the locomotives. From time to time the troop train pulled into a siding to make way for a freight train with high priority munitions or other machines of war to pass them by.

The soldiers passed their time as soldiers do, with talk of home and wives and girlfriends. For entertainment they played poker and rolled dice, hiding their chips or piles of money any time an officer was spotted walking through the cars. They were seldom interrupted. By the time the train huffed its way down the western side of the High Sierra, there was little mystery about the cards that were dealt. They had all memorized the irregular spots on the backs.

No officer had yet disclosed the group's ultimate destination, but it wasn't hard to guess. The Philippines had fallen, as had Guam. None had heard of New Caledonia, but they knew of Australia. Guadalcanal was in the news, but that was a navy and marine corps show. None had heard of New Guinea, but they knew of the Coral Sea and Midway.

It must be Australia.

Jim Hightower

I really miss Molly Ivins, but at least we still have Jim Hightower. I just came across his web site by accident and felt I must share it. Here it is.

Seventy Years Ago: Northern Exposure

August 30, 1942 - US Army lands on the Island of Adak in the Aleutians, to build a seaplane base. Adak is 250 miles from the Japanese-occupied Aleutian island of Kiska.

Here is a picture of the base in about 1943 with Mount Moffitt in the background.

In the 1960's, Navy Construction Battalions (SeaBees) visited the island each summer
to remove the quonset huts. This wasn't as easy as you might think.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gasoline Prices

There was some discussion this evening of gasoline prices. The only price that matters is the price adjusted for inflation. Here is a chart of inflation-adjusted  gasoline prices and nominal prices (that is, what it says on the pump, not adjusted for inflation) since 1918.


Historical Note: Prices from 1942 to 1946 were Set By Office Of Price Administration. Gasoline Was Strictly Rationed - DRC

Election Starts Next Week

I just received an e-mail reminding me that we only have two months until the election.

That's wrong.

Once upon a time in America, voting took place on election day - the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Absentee voting was rare, obstructed by many hurdles.

No longer.

In North Carolina, it is easy to request an absentee ballot. Ballots will be mailed out next Friday (or as soon thereafter as final approved ballots are printed).

Once a voter receives the ballot, that voter can complete and mail the ballot any time. That's the last chance for parties and candidates to persuade that voter.

Registration for voters to cast ballots on election day (November 6) ends October 12.

Early voting runs from October 18 to November 3.

Election is no longer a day - it is a process.

It begins next week.

Federal Court Strikes Down Texas Voter ID Law

This just in - a three judge federal judicial panel has struck down Texas' new photo ID law. Here is a summary of the decision as reported in the New York Times.

"In its unanimous 56-page ruling, the federal judges found that the fees and the cost of traveling for those voters lacking one of the five forms of ID disproportionately affected the poor and minorities. “Moreover, while a 200 to 250 mile trip to and from a D.P.S. office would be a heavy burden for any prospective voter, such a journey would be especially daunting for the working poor,” the decision read"

Seventy Years Ago: August 30 1942 - A Marine Fighter Pilot's Story

Brad DeLong has an excerpt on his economics blog of a marine fighter pilot's exploits on Guadalcanal. Pretty exciting stuff. DeLong also has a link to the entire account from which it was drawn. Well worth reading.

Clearly, the Japanese Zero was a great fighter plane, but by no means invincible.

Japanese torpedoes, on the other hand....

Photo Below Is a Marine F-4-F at Henderson Field With 19 Japanese Flags

Wars And Rumors Of War

Did I hear John McCain last night say we should go to war with Russia, Iran and Syria to free the Syrian people? I think that's what I heard.

Sometimes political figures get carried away with their rhetoric.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I've been watching the Republican convention. So far, it has been in all respects conventional.

I confess, I miss the conventions of my youth, where nominations were actually made and the presidential election didn't get started until after Labor Day. In general, I don't think the takeover of the nominating process by primaries has improved the functioning of democracy. On the other hand, certain reforms in both parties have opened up the nominating process to groups (women, African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans) formerly left out of the smoke-filled rooms.

This convention has been particularly marked by homilies about individualism, self-reliance, education, and building small businesses.

I have been struck by the number of speakers extolling their immigrant grandparents who arrived with nothing and built businesses.

I don't have a statistical breakdown, but I noticed that many of those who worked hard to complete their education did so under the GI Bill or various government grants. Those who started businesses often borrowed money from the SBA. Or from parents or uncles. Or used other government programs.

I don't recall much specific mention of land grant colleges or federal and state roles in creating our railroad system, ports and waterways. These were all essential to the opportunities our immigrant ancestors found when they arrived.

Why elevate our small businessmen to a pedestal and pay no attention to the craftsmen, teachers, salesmen, soldiers, sailors, nurses, physician's assistants, union members and others whose interest is doing a good day's work for a fair wage and raising a good family?

Just saying.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: Tokyo Express

After failure of two major efforts to retake Guadalcanal with large naval fleets and fleet carriers, Japan started what became known as the Tokyo Express on August 28.

The plan was to resupply the Japanese garrison and land reinforcements from high speed destroyers converted to transport duty. By using high speed ships, they could carry troops and supplies and return to their bases during a single night, avoiding daytime attacks by allied aircraft.

The scheme wasn't immediately successful. On August 28, Marine SBD Dauntless dive bombers sank Japanese destroyer Asagiri and damaged three more. Surviving ships were unable to land troops and supplies and returned to base.

It's An Ill Wind That Blows No Good

I'm watching the track of hurricane Isaac as it heads up the Mississippi valley. Maybe in the process it will deposit enough rainfall to let the freight barges move more easily downriver. Good for the economy, even if it is mostly too late for the crops in the Midwest.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: New Guinea

While the US and Japanese navies were fighting it out near Guadalcanal, the Japanese army had not given up on New Guinea. On August 25, Japanese forces occupy three small islands at the Southeast tip of New Guinea. On August 26, they invaded Milne Bay on New Guinea's Southeast coast.

August 27th, large numbers of US aircraft began arriving regularly at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. Henderson Field was increasingly the strategic linchpin of US operations in the Southwest Pacific area.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Look And Feel: Software Patents

Yesterday a federal court jury decided in favor of Apple and against Samsung in a lawsuit over patents in the smart phone industry. The real target, though, is apparently Google and its Android software. The claim, upheld by the jury, is that the Samsung phone copied the "look and feel" of Apple's iPhone.

Go back in time twenty-five years.

In 1987, Lotus Corporation, whose 1-2-3 spreadsheet dominated the PC industry under the MS-Dos operating system, sued three smaller software companies for having copied the "look and feel" of the Lotus spreadsheet. The three companies were Paperback Software, whose low cost "VP Planner" had significant functional improvements over other spreadsheets, including 1-2-3 and Excel; Mosaic, and Borland's Quattro.

I had used three of the four spreadsheets involved, and at the time was using VP Planner for my own spreadsheets. VP Planner had introduced a "three dimensional" feature to spreadsheets and was significantly better at printing spreadsheets on dot matrix printers than 1-2-3. Borland's product, too, was more convenient for users than 1-2-3.

Lotus, in turn, had clearly appropriated the look and feel of the Visicalc spreadsheet as it operated under the CP/M operating system.

I thought at the time that "look and feel" was a defective concept and I resented Lotus' attempts to protect market share by lawsuit rather than by improving the product. Although Lotus won against Paperback Software, who went out of business, they lost the case against Borland. I suspect Borland won, not because their case had more merit, but because their pockets were deeper. Anyhow, I never again purchased a Lotus product.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for protection of intellectual property, but I think in important respects patent law has got out of hand. When a company can patent a person's blood cells because they did research on them, that's out of hand. When companies get to patent icons that are common representations, that is out of hand.

Shame on you, Apple!

Do We Need More Rain?

Has it been forty days and forty nights yet?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: Battle Of The Eastern Solomons

August 24, 1942 - Japanese force of two heavy and one light aircraft carrier, two battleships, sixteen heavy cruisers, twenty-five destroyers, a seaplane tender, four patrol boats and three troop transports, supported by 177 airplanes, approached Guadalcanal. Their intent: destroy the American fleet and expel American forces from the island, recapturing Henderson Field.

They were met by a much smaller American force under Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, consisting of aircraft carriers Saratoga and Enterprise, battleship North Carolina, four heavy cruisers, eleven destroyers and 176 aircraft.

The ensuing battle was the third major aircraft carrier battle of the war. Like Coral Sea and Midway, neither side's ships ever saw the other. The engagement was fought entirely by aircraft and anti-aircraft artillery. Enterprise was hit with three bombs and suffered serious damage, though the ship remained able to launch and recover aircraft. Japanese attempts to bomb USS North Carolina were unsuccessful, resulting in only near misses.

Fletcher's 29 warships defeated Yamamoto's 58, sinking light aircraft carrier Ryujo, a destroyer and a troop transport, and heavily damaging one light cruiser and the seaplane tender.

Of more lasting significance, Japan lost 75 airplanes, including 61 scarce and hard to replace aircrew members. The US lost 20 aircraft and 7 aircrew members.

Another victory for Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, who bagged his sixth Japanese aircraft carrier in three battles.  He only lost two carriers himself.

Why haven't we heard more about Admiral Fletcher? That's a question for another day.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bay River

Bad news in today's County Compass concerning Bay River Metropolitan Sewer District and a planned moratorium on new hook ups in the Oriental area starting next month.

I know the issues are complex and the planning and financing of repairs and upgrades present enormous challenges.

Nevertheless, I have thought for some time that the Town of Oriental may have made a mistake when it decided to sell the Town's sewage treatment plant to Bay River. By making that decision, the Town turned over major control over its own future to an entity over which it has only limited influence or control.

Maybe it's time to take another look.

Seventy Years Ago: The Home Front

The latest Tea Party/Libertarian/Anarchist whine is about the TSA conducting security checks of attendees at a Paul Ryan political event in Florida last weekend.

I never cease to be amazed at the organized paranoia of these people. Just for information, Secret Service, FBI and state and local authorities have been cooperating for over a century in providing security for appearances by presidential and vice presidential candidates. And for presidents. Example: April 14 2005 season's opener in DC of the Washington Nationals. I was there. But I didn't get to see George W. Bush throw out the first ball. Not enough TSA agents and the equipment wasn't reliable. It was the third or fourth inning before I took my seat.

So what was government like when we had a real war?

January 1942: automobile production ended for the duration. Sale of rubber tires to civilians ended. Anyone with more than five tires had to turn in the extras. Steel, copper, and aluminum were placed under wartime controls;

February: Daylight savings time (to conserve energy), rationing of canned meat and fish;

March: Fresh meat, butter and cheese rationed; two ration books issued to every man, woman and child - blue for two pounds of canned fruit and vegetables per month, red for 28 ounces of meat and 4 ounces of cheese per month; shield seaward facing lights within 12 miles of the coast; marriage increased 300% over 1941 (some in expectation of separation, some to avoid the draft); GM produced 28,728 Browning machine guns;

April: Price Control Act - 60% of foods maximum price set at level in March;

May: Iron, more steel, zinc under wartime controls; War Ration Book One issued - the sugar book; gasoline rationing - 2 1/2 gallons per month sugar rationed 1/2 lb. per month; Meat 7 lb., butter, coffee 1 lb. per month; civilian production banned on 136 items, including refrigerators, vacuums, vending machines, small appliances;

June: V-mail to the troops (microfilm);

July: milk, ice and bread delivery switch to horse-drawn wagons; metal products banned;

August: German U-boats sink a ship every four hours;

September: Fair Employment Commission reports 50% of all defense jobs remain closed to Negroes;

October: Meatless Tuesday initiated; draft age lowered to 18;

November: War Labor Board allows employers to raise pay for women 20 cents per hour if necessary to get employees (average 40% less than men); coffee rationing one cup per day;

December: Gasoline rationing with A, B, C stickers 4 gallons per month.

All prices were controlled by the Office of Price Administration.

Rationing ended in 1946.

Popular songs in 1942 include: "Praise the Lord and Pass The Ammunition," based on an incident aboard USS New Orleans during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

No one doubted we were all in the war together.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: Productive And Obstructive Admirals

In previous posts, I have expressed some views about the nation's military leadership and preparedness for war in 1941. As a young boy, I had seen some of the army's preparations with my own eyes.

Looking at contemporary documents from the vantage point of a naval career of my own and the perspective of seven decades, my judgements may carry some weight. I came to know many who served in the Pacific war. Here are some judgements:

Attack On Pearl Harbor:

Was the Pacific Fleet ready for war? You bet. Were the officers and sailors in "peacetime liberty mode?" Not on your life. About ninety percent of the sailors and sixty percent of officers were on board their ships. The first antiaircraft rounds were fired about four minutes after the unexpected attack began. Anyone with a lick of naval experience would say that speaks for crews who were well-trained and ready.

Admiral Kimmel, commander of the Pacific Fleet, was charged with preparing that fleet to go on the offensive against Japan. He did so. The navy's successes during the first six months of conflict were accomplished by ships, planes and submarines he prepared for battle.

Admiral Kimmel was not derelict in his duties. It was foolish of Washington to relieve Kimmel of his command, not because it was unjust (though it was), but because it materially hindered the effort to go on the offensive. Case in point: Admiral Pye (who relieved Kimmel December 17th) dithered over orders to the Saratoga task force sent by Kimmel to relieve Wake Island. The force proceeded at twelve knots (so as not to outrun their fleet oiler) instead of proceeding at twenty or twenty-five knots. Result: Japanese got their first and Pye called the force back. The wisdom of this remains controversial. I doubt Kimmel would have held the force back.

How about the Army? The Army on Oahu had early prototype radar sets as early as June, and an officer trained in procedures to replicate British radar successes during the Battle of Britain. The island lacked communications, radar tracking procedures and organization. Only the island commander, General Short, could have provided those resources. The radar equipment could have been used to warn the fleet and Army bases a good forty-five minutes ahead of the attack. Interceptors could have been at altitude ready to pounce on attackers. Ships would have been at general quarters, all guns manned and ready.

As it was, about eight percent of Admiral Nagumo's planes did not return from the two attack waves, and Nagumo feared even heavier losses had he launched a third.

Short didn't do his job and should have been sacked. He would probably have been suitable to run an infantry training base back in the states, but not for front line command.

The Chief of Naval Operations was a smart mediocrity  who lacked the breadth and depth needed for the job. He allowed himself to be dominated by his director of War Plans, Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, who persuaded him to keep vital intelligence information from Kimmel. Turner insisted that HE, and not the Director of Naval Intelligence, had the authority to evaluate intelligence.

Even after Kimmel had been relieved at least in part as a consequence of Turner's actions, Turner did his best to dispute the conclusions of Admiral Nimitz' communications intelligence team in the runup to the Battle of Midway. Had Turner prevailed, the US would have lost at Midway, possibly as badly as at Pearl Harbor.

Later, RK Turner was sent back to sea as commander of the Amphibious Force supporting the invasion of Guadalcanal. Not only was Turner's planning inadequate (he didn't rehearse the landing in enough detail to foresee the difficulty unloading cargo and clearing it off the beach), his lack of clarity in orders to the screening force may have led to the disastrous loss of heavy cruisers at the Battle of Savo Island. It was a fiasco, and Turner was responsible. How so?
1. He didn't bother telling the Officer in Tactical Command, Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, of his troubles unloading. As a result, Fletcher withdrew his three aircraft carriers further from the objective area than he might otherwise have done;
2. Unlike other flag officers, Turner refused to have a communicatiions intelligence detachment aboard his flagship. Result: insufficient early warning of Admiral Mikawa's force of five heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and one destroyer, who attacked Turner's six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and fifteen destroyers. Some of Turner's ships had radar. None of Mikawa's did.

OK, so I don't admire Turner.

Anyone else on my list of screw ups? Rear Admiral Ralph Waldo Christie, Rear Admiral Robert Henry English, and Rear Admiral H.P. Blandy. These were the officers most directly responsible for denying reports of problems with the Mark 14 torpedo and obstructing efforts to test and correct them. Christie was in charge of developing the torpedo, which eventually was found to run ten feet too deep, to have an ineffective magnetic sensor, and to have a defective contact exploder. Permanent fixes were not accomplished until after all three officers were replaced. Blandy went on to have a distinguished career, retiring as an Admiral.

Now for the attaboys:

RADM Charles Lockwood. As Commander Submarines, Pacific, he defied the Bureau of Ordinance, tested the Mark 14 torpedoes and devised fixes;

RADM Willis A. "Ching" Lee, Commander Battleship Division 6 in the Battle of Guadalcanal, 14-15 November, 1942. Used radar at night to destroy Japanese Battleship Kirishima, the only US battleship during World War II to sink an enemy battleship in a "one on one" gunfight. It was Lee's careful but audacious planning as well as his complete understanding of radar that led to the victory;

VADM Frank Jack Fletcher. Never achieved the fame he deserved. No PR. Forces under his tactical command sank six Japanese carriers. Fletcher, a "black shoe" (non-aviator) was the war's most successful carrier task group commander.

I won't mention Leahy, King, Nimitz, Halsey, and Spruance. They are too well known.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: The Navy's Leaders

In a recent post, I mentioned President Roosevelt's request that Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox identify the best 40 admirals in the navy. The list turned out not to be very useful, and Roosevelt's ire at the failure of admirals by February of 1942 to have a significant victory against Japan was a bit misdirected.

Some early errors of omission or commission were beyond the control of the admirals.

Something to keep in mind is the dynamics of the flag officer corps in the navy.

The admirals were all graduates of the US Naval Academy. They had known each other, collaborated and competed with each other since they were teenagers. Naval Academy midshipmen sort themselves out into a pecking order during their plebe year, usually at the age of seventeen or eighteen. The pecking order and the nicknames assigned with them follow them for their entire professional careers.

Of the prominent admirals in World War II, the eldest was Admiral Leahy, class of 1897. Next in line were Admiral Pye, commander of Pacific Fleet battleships and Admiral Earnest King, Commander in Chief of the US Fleet, both from the class of 1901. Others graduated from 1902 through 1908. They knew each other at the Naval Academy and had been both comrades and rivals for more than three decades.

They were intelligent and able men, trained to command. They had different styles of leadership and different strengths and weaknesses.

They did remarkably well.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: Hanging In The Balance

Mid August 1942, Guadalcanal. US Marines have a tentative toehold. August 17, Henderson Field, originally started by the Japanese but completed by the marines, became operational. August 20, USS Long Island, the navy's first escort carrier, delivered 19 Grumman F-4-F Wildcat fighters and 12 SBD Dauntless dive bombers to a point 170 nm SE of Guadalcanal and launched them enroute to Henderson Field. These 31 aircraft formed the nucleus of what was later known as the "cactus air force."

Air resupply and evacuation flights using R-4D's (the navy version of the C-47) began the same day.

USS Long Island proved the concept of conversion of merchant ships to what was referred to as a "baby flattop." CVE's like Long Island would prove to be a great force multiplier in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

On Winning Battles

"No battle was ever won by spectators, was it?"

George Smiley in The Honourable Schoolboy by John Le Carre

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mother Goose: Dislikes

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why - I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.
English Poet Tom Brown - 1680

Seventy Years Ago: Henderson Field Operational

Guadalcanal, August 17, 1942.

It didn't look like much. When the marines stormed ashore near Lunga Point on Guadalcanal August 7, 1942, their main objective was a primitive air strip begun by Japanese construction workers. Marines took custody of the unfinished field and named it Henderson Field in honor of a marine pilot who died in defense of Midway two months earlier.

This was to become one of the most costly pieces of real estate in history.

The second night after the marines landed, a force of Japanese heavy cruisers and destroyers under cover of darkness surprised the American combatant fleet guarding the transports and sank four US Navy heavy cruisers in about half an hour.

1270 American sailors lost their lives that night, more than the marine ground force lost in six months of combat. They held the Japanese force at bay. Fearing daylight attacks by US carrier aircraft, the Japanese admiral took his force out of danger, leaving the US transport ships unscathed.

Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner withdrew his transport ships the evening of August 9th, with more than half of their cargo still not unloaded. A few days later, on August 14th, a convoy of four high-speed destroyer transports landed crucial supplies of aviation fuel and bombs, and many needed technicians.

On August 17th, 1942 the base was declared operational. It would be three more days before flight operations began in earnest.

In the meantime, Admiral Yamamoto realized Japan's plans in the Southwest Pacific would come to nought if the Americans remained on Guadalcanal. Japan fought doggedly to dislodge the Americans.

Marines remember Guadalcanal as a land battle, their first victory, full of personal and unit heroism. In reality, it was a prolonged sea battle. The two navies lost 49 warships, about evenly divided. The losses included 3 carriers, 2 battleships, 12 cruisers, 25 destroyers, 6 submarines. More than 3,200 USN sailors died. No one knows the overall count of lives lost at sea, as Japan did not keep records of sailors or soldiers lost at sea. The toll was enormous, and included a number of admirals on both sides. 

The outcome was not assured. The Japanese were well trained, experienced and well equipped. They had 10 carriers to the Allies' 4; 12 battleships to the Allies' 8, yet the US and Royal Navies kept Japanese reinforcements from overwhelming the Marines. 

It was not yet the end. But as Churchill was to report to Parliament in November, it was at least the end of the beginning. 

So long as the Allies held Henderson Field, Japan could not seriously threaten the sea lanes from the US West Coast to Australia.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Third Parties And Other Fantasies

Just got back from a couple of days' training by the State Board of Elections. I always learn something new.

This time, one of the new things is that Americans Elect, an innovative third party that qualified as an official party in North Carolina law, is dissolving. Their innovation: picking their nominees by an Internet primary. The problem: it didn't work.

About a year ago, I called attention to the push by prominent "moderates" like Thomas Friedman to support a third party movement. I have a lot of problems with the idea that third parties can ever make things well, especially through presidential elections.

You want third parties? Take a look at the 1948 presidential election. Plenty of third parties, including the Vegetarian Party. Two of them - the Progressive Party and the State's Rights Party- split off from the Democratic Party and seemed to be viable. Despite the odds and despite the Chicago Tribune's premature headline, Truman won.

It seems to me that third party movements would be better advised to start at the bottom rather than the top of the ticket. Apparently that just takes too long.

If that's too hard, think seriously about getting involved with an existing party.

Take a look at two interesting web sites: The Political Compass and The Pew Center. Take the surveys. You might learn something about yourself.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Names As Identifiers

Yesterday I posted the text of T.S. Eliot's somewhat whimsical poem, "The Naming of Cats." The poem was published in a collection of Eliot's poetry, "Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats" eventually converted to the musical play, "Cats."

It touches on the issue of identity and names. Shakespeare tackled a similar theme in Romeo and Juliet when Juliet proclaims: "What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

I have pondered questions of name and identity most of my life. Like Presidents Gerald R. Ford and William Jefferson Clinton, I do not use the name I was born with. So am I the same person I was when I was born and used a different name?

The IRS and Social Security seem not entirely sure. Some years ago my sister, whose given name is "Elizabeth," became the subject of an IRS and Social Security inquiry because her pay checks were written to "Betty." Indeed, many if not most grown women don't use the family name they were born with. After divorce, they face the dilemma of whether to keep their married name or their maiden name.

Some choose to use their maiden name as their middle name. That confuses bureaucrats and computer programs no end.

After 9/11 when no-fly lists began to control air travel, Senator Ted Kennedy had his travel impeded many times. Turns out there was a person using the name Ted Kennedy who may have been at least a suspicious person. Senator Kennedy tried to get himself removed from the no-fly lists repeatedly. He finally gave up and flew as "Edward M. Kennedy." The problem went away.

My mother had no birth certificate, and an unusual name. She would certainly have problems today. My wife has had problems renewing id's because she used her maiden name as her middle name.

This is not a trivial problem.

A Good Article By Bruce Bartlett

Here's a link to a good article by Bruce Bartlett, former staffer for Congressman Ron Paul, Congressman Jack Kemp, Senator Jepson of Iowa, and President George H. W. Bush, among others.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Importance Of Names [The Naming Of Cats]

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey—
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter—
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

T.S. Eliot

Monday, August 13, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: Wasted History?

Someone once observed that history is wasted on the young.

I was seventeen years old when I first learned something of the history of the Navy's fiasco at Savo Island. I was a Midshipman Fourth Class, United States Naval Reserve, taking my first course in Naval Science. It was called Naval Orientation and History.

The textbook showed neat diagrams of the action of August 9, 1942, like the chart below:

The lessons I took away from reading about Savo Island nearly six decades ago had to do with equipment and training. US Ships (some of them, at least) were equipped with radar, but they were defeated by Japanese ships with no radar - only superb optical systems and sailors well trained in night engagements.

Of course it wouldn't occur to a seventeen year old that the problem wasn't poor watch standing by  radar operators or lookouts, but problems at the highest levels of leadership in the navy.

President Roosevelt was furious and losing patience ten weeks after Pearl Harbor, when the navy had no triumphs to proclaim. He ordered Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox to give him the names of the forty "most competent" Admirals in the navy at the time. Knox appointed a board to do the job.  Last year the US Naval Institutes' Naval History magazine published the recently-discovered list of the forty names the board provided.

Even more surprising than the obscure names who appeared on the list was the omission of two admirals most responsible for success in the Pacific: Chester Nimitz and Raymond Spruance. Neither was a member of the most influential and powerful cabal in the navy. That cabal is often referred to by the shorthand designator: "battleship admirals." That's a misnomer, though battleships figured largely in their careers. They were admirals whose seagoing tours (mostly in battleships but also in cruisers and destroyers) alternated with tours in the Bureau of Ordinance (BUORD). They were often referred to in the rest of the navy as "the gun club."

Neither Nimitz nor Spruance belonged to the gun club. Neither was Halsey, for that matter. Nor were Admiral Leahy, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during World War II and Roosevelt's closest military advisor, or Admiral King, Commander in Chief of the US Fleet. But from the Chief of Naval Operations (Admiral Stark) on down, the navy in 1942 remained dominated by the gun club.

None of the "gun club" admirals was promoted to five-star fleet admiral rank.

More later.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

London Rubble, 1955

The first time I saw London, in 1955, it hadn't been rebuilt. The rubble, though, had been arranged in ordered piles, set off by walls of damaged brick. I shot this from a double decker bus.

Lost In The Village?

As the rain began to fall this morning, I ran into a frequent visitor to Oriental with a puzzled look on his face. "I can't find my truck," he admitted. I was on my bike, so I didn't offer him a ride. A kind neighbor rode by and offered to take him on a search. I'm confident he found it.

Getting lost in Oriental? Who knew it could be done?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: Higgins Boats And Beachmasters

The initial landing of marines on Guadalcanal was a fiasco. After three days of unloading, less than half of the planned equipment and supplies had reached the landing beaches, and much of that didn't reach the supply dumps for days.

What was the problem?

Lack of equipment and inadequate organization.

The most apparent equipment shortcoming was the wrong boats for the task.

The Amphibious Transports (APA) carried many boats, but most were the first generation of Higgins boats, the Landing Craft, Personnel (Large) or LCPL. When the boats grounded on the beach, marines had to clamber over the side into the water and then wade in to shore. Not too bad for the marines, but what about the equipment? Much of it had to be manhandled over the side of the boats as well.

The marines and the US Navy Bureau of Ships recognized early on that this was a problem. Tests were done in the late 30's of a modified landing craft with a bow ramp, the LCP(R). The photo below shows that this was an improvement, but the ramp proved to be something of a bottleneck for troops anxious to hit the beach. There were some LCP(R)'s at Guadalcanal, but not nearly enough.

Some LCP(R)'s remained in service after the war. Here is a photo of an LCP(R) carried on the helicopter platform of USS Cabildo (LSD-16) at Yokosuka, Japan in 1959. The fierce decoration on the bow indicates it belonged to an underwater demolition team (UDT). UDT later morphed into the SEALS.

The final design improvement was to fit a full-width bow ramp. This allowed the landing craft, now designated the Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel or LCVP, to deliver 36 combat-equipped troops to the beach, or one jeep and a crew of half a dozen.

 This became the work horse of ship to shore movements. But they weren't available at Guadalcanal.

Here is a fully-loaded LCVP on its way to the beach in 1959:

The other missing ingredient was organization for efficient management of the troops, equipment and supplies delivered to the beach.

The Guadalcanal landing was rehearsed at Fiji before the invasion, but for some reason the problem of moving stuff off the beach either wasn't identified or wasn't resolved. It is also possible the ships hadn't been "combat loaded." This was a technique to load equipment in reverse order of its planned need, rather than to make most efficient use of cargo space.

Later in the war, combat loading became routine, and a special organization called a Beachmaster was established to manage the cargo and equipment.

These techniques were yet to come.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: Battle Of Savo Island

The Japanese were caught completely by surprise when the US invasion force showed up at Guadalcanal snd put marines ashore the morning of August 7, 1942. Their first reaction was to launch air attacks, but the distance from shore bases to Guadalcanal rendered the attacks ineffective. Admiral Fletcher's force of three aircraft carriers, supported by five fleet oilers, the battleship North Carolina and a number of smaller escorts, provided a substantial advantage. For the first two days of the invasion, the Japanese lost twice as many aircraft as the Americans.

Japanese Admiral Mikawa, 8th Fleet Commander, quickly organized a counterattack. He departed Kavieng at the NW end of New Ireland the afternoon of August 7th with heavy cruisers Aoba, Furutaka, Kako and Kinugasa, joined near sunset by heavy cruiser Chokai, light cruisers Tenryu and Yubari and destroyer Yanagi. Concerned by the presence of American aircraft carriers, Mikawa paused off Bouganville from dawn until noon, August 8 ("B") and then proceeded down The Slot towards Savo Island and Guadalcanal, sighting the U.S. destroyer Blue at 00:54 on August 9 ("C"). Source: Morison, Struggle for Guadalcanal, p. 21.

An allied screening force of six heavy cruisers and six destroyers in two groups covering both western approaches to Savo Sound.  Radar picket destroyers Blue (DD-387) and Ralph Talbot (DD-390) deployed west of Savo Island. The south passage was defended by HMAS Australia (flagship of RAdm Crutchley, RN), HMAS Canberra, USS Chicago (CA-29), Bagley (DD-386) and Patterson (DD-392). The northern group was made up of Vincennes (CA-44), Quincy (CA-39), Astoria (CA-34) and destroyers Helm (DD-391) and Wilson (DD-408).  The eastern approaches also had a screening force, made up of light cruisers San Juan (CL-54  flag), HMAS Hobart, and destroyers Monssen (DD-436) and Buchanan (DD-484).

The IJN 8th fleet of fast cruisers were spotted during their passage by US Submarine S-38, as well as by at least one Australian Hudson patrol aircraft. They arrived the second night and met the US screening force for the Battle of Savo Island.   At the same time, the three US carriers and their escorts, including North Carolina (BB-55), six cruisers, and 16 destroyers, were withdrawing to get out of reach of land-based bombers from Rabaul.

The enemy cruiser force launched scout floatplanes that reported the American forces.  Both radar picket ships (radar range about 10 miles) were at the extreme ends of their patrols sailing away from the Japanese fleet which passed undetected about 500 yards from Blue.  The enemy was screened by the visual and radar shadow of nearby Savo Island.  The enemy discovered the southern force and fired torpedoes before they were detected. Simultaneously with the explosions, the scout plane dropped flares illuminating the allied fleet.  Canberra was struck by two torpedoes and heavy shelling.  The US ships fired star shells and opened fire.  Chicago of the southern force was torpedoed.

The allied force thought the torpedoes were fired by submarines, as they saw no surface ships within torpedo firing range. Even this late in the war, American forces were unaware of the Japanese type 93 "Long Lance" torpedo, which had three times the range of similar sized US torpedoes and a heavier warhead. A second advantage of the Japanese force is that, though they had no sipboard radar at the time, they had superb optical systems and IJN ships had been well trained for night operations. 

The Japanese force turned north in two columns.  The northern defense force had not gotten the word, there was a rain squall in the area, and they assumed the southern force was shooting at aircraft.  The two Japanese columns passed on each side of the US force and opened fire on Astoria, Quincy, and Vincennes.  The American captains ordered "cease fire" assuming they were Americans firing on their own ships.  Vincennes caught a torpedo.  Robert Talbot came charging south and was attacked first by friendly fire and then raked by the enemy escaping to the north.  Quincy and Vincennes went down.  During rescue operations for Canberra, Patterson was fired on by ChicagoCanberra was sunk the next morning to prevent capture as the US fleet left the waters that was hereafter called Iron Bottom Sound.  Astoria sank about noon while under tow.  Chicago had to undergo repair until Jan'43.

In just 32 minutes the Japanese navy had inflicted massive damage on the allied force.   Four heavy cruisers were sunk and a heavy cruiser and destroyer badly damaged.  1,270 men were killed and 708 injured.   The enemy suffered light damage to three cruisers.

The Japanese force, worried about carrier air attack, withdrew before dawn without attacking the cargo ships remaining at Guadalcanal. 

As far as the US Navy went, involvement in the disaster at Savo Island and other shortcomings of the Guadalcanal operation was not in general a "career-enhancing" experience. Admirals Ghormley and Fletcher were transferred to other, less-demanding assignments not long afterward. Ghormley was replaced by Halsey, and things picked up greatly in the Guadalcanal campaign.

Only Richmond Kelly Turner, of the senior officers, survived seemingly unscathed. He later offered a self-serving explanation of the ignominious defeat of the surface forces under his command:

"The (U.S.) Navy was still obsessed with a strong feeling of technical and mental superiority over the enemy. In spite of ample evidence as to enemy capabilities, most of our officers and men despised the enemy and felt themselves sure victors in all encounters under any circumstances. The net result of all this was a fatal lethargy of mind which induced a confidence without readiness, and a routine acceptance of outworn peacetime standards of conduct. I believe that this psychological factor, as a cause of our defeat, was even more important than the element of surprise."

It was Richmond Kelly Turner who was most immediately responsible for insuring the readiness of the invasion force.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: Guadalcanal, Day 2

The 11,000 marines landing on Guadalcanal encountered no initial Japanese opposition. The marine force was made up mostly of recruits fresh from military training, equipped with old bolt-action (1903 Springfield) rifles.

Because of the desire to get the force into action quickly, logistics planners loaded the ships with only 60 days worth of supplies instead of 90 days. Marines began referring to the invasion as "Operation Shoestring." Even worse, unloading supplies on the beach and transporting them to supply dumps was taking longer than expected.

Marines fighting on Tulagi and two other small islands, unlike Guadalcanal itself, encountered fierce Japanese defenses. Japanese aircraft from Rabaul attacked the landing force during the first two days of the invasion. Japan lost 36 aircraft. Admiral Fletcher's force lost 19, including fourteen fighters.

In a still controversial move, on August 8th Admiral Fletcher, possibly thinking things were going smoothly on the beaches, withdrew the three carriers providing air support for the invasion, leaving Admiral Turner helpless against any further Japanese air attacks.

The air strip under construction by Japan, which the marines renamed Henderson Field, would not be able to operate aircraft for almost two weeks.

In the meantime, Admiral Turner tried to unload his transport ships before leaving the area, but by the morning of August 9, had unloaded less than half of the supplies the ships carried. Five days worth of food had been landed from the transports, which, along with captured Japanese provisions, gave the Marines a total of 14 days worth of food. To conserve supplies, the troops were limited to two meals per day.

Marines referred to the departure of Fletcher and Turner as the "great Navy Bug-out."

That night things got worse.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cox v. Town Of Oriental

Some readers are aware that I filed an appeal last Thursday to the closing by the Town of Oriental of Avenue A on July 3 after a public hearing.

I filed the appeal within the statutory deadline of thirty days following the permanent closing of the street. A civil summons notifying the town of the appeal and providing a copy was served on Mayor Sage Monday morning about ten o'clock.

The mayor transmitted the appeal to Mr. Scott Davis, the Town Attorney, and to the town's insurance carrier.

Anyone who wishes to read a copy of the appeal will find a link on the home page of I think the appeal speaks for itself.

Seventy Years Ago: Guadalcanal

The morning of August 7, 1942, an invasion force of 48 ships under Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner rounded Cape Esperance and Savo Island in the southern Solomons and bombarded Japanese targets on Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Florida Islands. Bad weather had concealed the force from the Japanese, who were caught completely by surprise.

A supporting force of three US Carriers (Saratoga, Enterprise and Wasp) and the battleship North Carolina, under command of Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, stood offshore and attacked Japanese objectives with carrier aircraft. After the bombardment, 14,000 marines under Major General Vandegrift went ashore on Tulagi and Guadalcanal in the largest US amphibious operation undertaken up to that time. The principal objective: an air base under construction by the Japanese at Lunga Point on the north shore of Guadalcanal.

The US land offensive had begun.

Monday, August 6, 2012

To Arms!

Yesterday's shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, like the killings in Aurora, Colorado over a week ago, inevitably raise questions of the Second Amendment. The discussion these days invariably misrepresents the Second Amendment, takes it out of its historical context and leads the discussion into paths that need not be followed.

The Second Amendment was really the anti-Redcoat provision. Written less than fifteen years after the "shot heard round the world," the object really was to insure the United States would not have a large standing army. The revolutionists believed standing armies were destructive of freedom. The unstated, but clear presumption, was that militias under state control could defend against a small standing federal force, should it be necessary.

Justice Antonin Scalia proudly claims to be an "originalist," meaning judicial decisions should be informed by the original meaning of words in a law or constitution.

Two Sundays ago on Fox News Sunday, Justice Scalia revealed his ignorance of historic terms of art in the profession of arms and his superficial grasp of original meaning. The interviewer, Chris Wallace, asked Justice Scalia about the Second Amendment in light of the mass killings in Aurora, Colorado. Could there be any limits on the right to bear arms? Wallace asked. Scalia answered that, if a weapon can be hand-held, it probably still falls under the right to “bear arms”:

WALLACE: What about… a weapon that can fire a hundred shots in a minute?
SCALIA: We’ll see. Obviously the Amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried — it’s to keep and “bear,” so it doesn’t apply to cannons — but I suppose here are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided.
WALLACE: How do you decide that if you’re a textualist?
SCALIA: Very carefully.

Obviously Antonin Scalia has never borne arms. To bear arms is a term of art, ancient in origin, which means "to serve in the armed forces." Military personnel keep and bear arms. The term is not limited to arms a person can carry. Legally, under the International Traffic In Arms (ITAR) regulations, the term can apply to items not normally thought of as arms, like encryption programs. To "keep arms" does not mean to have in one's possession. It means to maintain in good order, as for example a lighthouse keeper does for a lighthouse.

These are things the average person understood in 1789.

Some definitions:

"arms [ɑːmz]pl n
1. (Military / Firearms, Gunnery, Ordnance & Artillery) weapons collectively See also small arms
2. (Military) military exploits prowess in arms
3. (History / Heraldry) the official heraldic symbols of a family, state, etc., including a shield with distinctive devices, and often supports, a crest, or other insignia
bear arms
a.  (Military) to carry weapons
b.  (Military) to serve in the armed forces
c.  (History / Heraldry) to have a coat of arms
in or under arms armed and prepared for war
lay down one's arms to stop fighting; surrender
present arms Military
a.  a position of salute in which the rifle is brought up to a position vertically in line with the body, muzzle uppermost and trigger guard to the fore
b.  the command for this drill
take (up) arms to prepare to fight
to arms! arm yourselves!
up in arms indignant; prepared to protest strongly"

Civilians do not bear arms - soldiers and sailors do.

To bear arms includes to equip one's force with or operate any kind of  weapon, including: sword, spear, pike, rifle, pistol, howitzer, bomb, torpedo, airplane, tank, warship, even military trucks, jeeps, or other logistical equipment for military uses.

On a linguistic note, I wonder if Scalia's native tongue is English.  In English (and Judges are expected to be very careful with language), there is a vast difference between "people" and "the people." "People" can refer to a collection of individuals - "people like football," for example. "The people" is always a collective noun and never refers to individuals. The drafters of our constitution invariably used the word "persons" when they referred to an individual right, though "people" might have also served the purpose. So when the drafters of the Second Amendment wrote "the right of the people to keep and bear arms," as a matter of language, they were not referring to an individual right.

Scalia's insistence that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms is deficient as a matter of English grammar, reflects an inaccurate understanding of original meaning, and presents him with a logical dilemma, because he apparently recognizes that there must be some limits.

But he is wrong about cannon (and also ships, planes, rockets, bombs, torpedoes, missiles, etc.). They are all arms, and the people who maintain and operate them are engaged in keeping and bearing arms.

Which neither Antonin Scalia nor any other sitting Justice has ever done.

Why Is It So Hot In Oklahoma?

In case you were wondering about the heat in Oklahoma and in Texas, here's a link to a Washington Post article that explains: 

Climate change is here — and worse than we thought

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wind Comes Sweeping Down The (Very Hot) Plains

My home state of Oklahoma has become a very hot, very windy, convection oven. Here's the report from Weather Underground's Dr. Jeff Masters:

"Historic heat wave in Oklahoma
A second day of destructive fires affected Oklahoma on Saturday, thanks to extreme heat and drought, low humidities, and strong winds in advance of an approaching cold front. At 3 pm CDT Saturday, Oklahoma City had a temperature of 107°, a humidity of 19%, and winds of 16 mph gusting to 22 mph. The Oklahoma fires have destroyed at least 125 homes. The high temperature in Oklahoma City on Saturday reached 109°, the 12th warmest temperature recorded in the city since records began in 1891. Friday's high of 113° tied for the warmest temperature in city history.

Figure 3. Highway 48 is covered in smoke as flames continue, Saturday, Aug 4, 2012, east of Drumright, OK. Image credit: Associated Press.

The only comparable Oklahoma heat wave: August 1936
The only heat wave in Oklahoma history that compares to the August 2012 heat wave occurred during the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936, the hottest summer in U.S. history. Oklahoma City experienced three days at 110° that summer, and a record streak of 22 straight days with a temperature of 100° or hotter. Those numbers are comparable to 2012's: three days at 110° or hotter, and a string of 18 consecutive days (so far) with temperatures of 100° or hotter. The weak cold front that passed though Oklahoma Saturday will bring temperatures about 10° cooler over the next few days, but high temperatures are still expected to approach 100° in Oklahoma City Sunday through Tuesday. It's worth noting that Oklahoma City has experienced only 11 days since 1890 with a high of 110° or greater. Three of those days were in 2011, three in 2012, and three in the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936."

Bend It Like Beckham

Anyone who has seen the really hilarious and entertaining movie, "Bend It Like Beckham," knows that Sikhs aren't Muslims and that they are a very peaceful people embodying many traditional virtues. Tragically, there's always that ten percent who didn't get the word.

Since 9/11, the handful of Sikhs in this country have been objects of persecution by ignorant, hate-filled racists. It is certainly too early to confirm the motives of the Wisconsin shooter, but it's reasonable to surmise that is what happened today.

Those of us a bit far along in years have a favorable image of Sikhs, based on the cartoon character Punjab, who was "Daddy Warbucks" right hand man and protector of Little Orphan Annie.

The word "guru," by the way, comes from Sikhism. The religion was founded in South Asia some five hundred years ago by Guru Nanak Dev. There have been ten subsequent Gurus.

Sikhism is monotheistic and is the world's fifth largest religion. Its adherents are enjoined to engage in social reform through the pursuit of justice for all human beings.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: 27th Air Depot Squadron

While marines and supporting Navy forces were on their way to Guadalcanal in early August 1942, the 27th Air Depot Group was finishing its period of Preparing for Overseas Movement (POM) in Mobile, Alabama.

The Air Depot Group was a new organizational concept, planned to provide fourth echelon (whatever that means) services to air combat forces near forward areas. The concept of having air depot groups in the forward area was new. So new that the table of organization (T/O) was not issued until June, 1942. Efforts to organize for going overseas couldn't be completed until the T/O was available.

Here is a standard organizational chart an Air Depot Group issued June 15, 1942.

By early August, 1942, the 27th Air Depot Group was substantially organized in Mobile, Alabama. By mid-month the group and all of its equipment was staged for shipping by train to San Francisco.

My father, then a Tech Sgt. in the US Army Air Forces, was among the officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted men who left Mobile in mid-August. Destination: the South Pacific.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


So why am I keeping my eyes open as midnight approaches, to see which remarkably talented young woman wins the all around gold medal in gymnastics?

I don't know.

I enjoyed seeing Gabby Douglas win.

But the silver and bronze medalists and the others who competed were all pretty amazing.

Gabby is a winner!

But the truth is, there isn't a loser among them.

Three cheers for the whole bunch.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Seventy Years Ago: Operation Watchtower

At a time before public relations operatives were allowed to name military operations, code names were intended to conceal the purpose being undertaken.

In June of 1942, the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff created a new command, the South Pacific Theater, commanded by Vice Admiral Robert V. Ghormley. Objective: offensive operations against Japanese forces in the Solomons. Code name: Operation Watchtower.

Seventy-five warships and transports gathered near Fiji on July 26, held one rehearsal landing, and departed July 31 for the objective area.

Targets: Florida Island, Tulagi and Guadalcanal. Officer in Tactical Command: Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, embarked in USS Saratoga (CV-3); Amphibious Force Commander: Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner; Commander of the Landing Force: Major General (Marines) Alexander Vandegrift.

D-day: August 7, 1942.

London, 1939

One benefit of Olympic coverage is that we sometimes learn a bit of illuminating history. I put the 1939 British slogan "Keep Calm and Carry On" in that category. What a useful evocation of an earlier time!

A good thing to remember from a time when national survival was really at stake.

We need no hysteria. Just get on with it!