Piracy On The High Seas

I love pirates. From Johny Depp as Jack Sparrow to Errol Flynn as Captain Blood they have swashed buckles and shivered timbers from Tortuga to Tahiti. Even Aardman had wonderful pirates as animated characters.

I’m even more impressed with the ones off the Horn of Africa who try to zoom aboard passing merchant ships and rob the crews. And I just loooove the way the US, Britain, France, and the Russians treat them – from opening up on their tin can boats with autocannon to boarding them and blowing them up with satchel charges.

I note that the Iranian floating terrorists are now entering the game and stepping up the pace with ship captures and mines.

Please, let us return to the days of the Caribbean and the Royal Navy sinking pirates on sight. And Wapping Stairs, please. In chains.

Rules of engagement for countering pirates: There’s one, open fire.

PS: Let the air squadrons play too. If they can’t get a Warthog that far out from the coast, surely someone has a spare gun pack in the stores they could clap onto a Hornet.

Pirates are ALWAYS freie Vögel…whether they have a mullah or a mad king at their back. And eventually you get to storm their pirate nest and burn it to the ground. It took care of Port Royal and Cartagena…and Bandar-e Abbas is no different.

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The Sticky Beaks

We are having a new driveway put into the front yard of our house.

This is exciting, and so far successful, but also somewhat of an interesting window into human behaviour. The behaviour of the workmen who lifted the old one, removed the lawn and retic, then proceeded to do site works, forms, and eventually the aggregate pour was impeccable. When you see people who know their job and do it well, you just supply coffee and biscuits and let them get on with it.

We were favoured by a week of fine weather that allowed the thing to go down and set before today’s rains. Next week we should be able to retrieve the family cars from the street and park as per normal. It’ll be a while before the landscape crew get back to do the rest of the yard but I don’t mind it looking like Verdun for a month or so – the precise part has worked well.

I joked with the workmen that I was going to make a landing field out of it all, and if I could get away with a control tower in the small patch that was lawn I would do it in an instant. A centre line down the street and a squadron of scale model B-17’s would be heaven.

But the sticky beaks? We’ve had everyone in the street ” casually ” stroll by and goggle at it and so far two visits from people who pull up, get out of their cars, photograph the curbing, and then drive off. It is either council nosiness or some new form of fetish. Fortunately, if it is the first, we submitted plans and have permission from Melville City Council and if it is the second I’ll buy a closet full of exciting underwear…

Shopping For A War – Part Five – The Reader’s Digest…

Or will it be ”  War And Peace “?

You have to decide when you enter a keyboard dogfight whether you want to fight it down to the deck until you all run out of ammunition and are reduced to ramming each other, or whether you just want to make a quick firing pass, zoom up, and fly away.

The first approach – what I like to call the Zeke – is for those who wish to become legends in their own lunchtime. Heros who do not care whether their reputations, bank balances, or underwear are shredded in the fight. People who sacrifice themselves whenever they can – possibly for the pleasure of being hurt. There’s probably a PhD somewhere in there but you’d have to write footnotes to get it.

The indefatigable keyboard fighter never gives up, even when they have passed from being questionable to being wrong – and then gone on to being ludicrous and irrelevant. They cannot quit, as quitting would involve them in the suspicion that they were fools and have been suckered into an intellectual Lufberry Circus by smarter thinkers. They generally die in a blaze of inglorious prose against some hillside.

A second fighting style is know as the Thunderbolt. The writer knows that they have one chance only to drop on their opponent with overwhelming force, let ’em have the whole nine yards, and then use the moment of stunned and horrified silence to zoom away and disappear. It is not a case of cowardice – just judicious use of advantage and tactics. Dodging and weaving whilst making the escape is also not a bad idea. They never have to return to fight that opponent again.

A third approach is to enter unobtrusively, throttle back whilst close to the victim, drop a delayed-action meme, and then slide over the horizon before the thing goes up. Make no mistake – no-one will be in any doubt who dropped it. You will get credit, if only in curses.

The NBN Scam

Here in Australia we are just a phone call away from India. And in the case of our house that phone call is at 4:05 every afternoon.

The amazing part is that it is a different caller each time – apart from the silent ones or the hissers – and there is a slightly different pitch thrown with every one.

Today’s was the ” NBN “-  supposedly our developing national Broadband Network. It’s an ongoing fustercluck from both the federal government and a private quasi-corporation who pretend it is going to replace wires with optical cables and then up the speed of our internet connections. If it promised to connect us to unicorns and Judge Crater I would give it some serious credence, but as it is…

Now the Indian scammers have picked up on it and are ringing with either threats or promises to get us to allow malware to be installed in our computers. Today’s question revolved around technical work that was going on and what download speed we had. I suspect it was a complex shell game to allow some sort of ” test ” that would install a spyware program looking for passwords.

When the confused girl asked what speed we were experiencing I told her that we generally got about 350 MPH but this fell to 320 with drop tanks. Full throttle and water injection could up it to 385 but if you ran the computer too long at this setting the exhaust manifold would burn away. I was dead serious about this.

I’m not sure I cleared up her confusion.

The Extremely Wild Blue Yonder

Never having been in any army, navy, or air force means I am disqualified from writing about military service. But I am allowed to read about it and to think about it…

I’m also allowed to look at maps and clocks and do mathematics. Recently I considered the twin bombing campaigns of the Second World War in Europe that were conducted against the Axis by the RAF and USAAF. By and large they came from much the same areas in the UK and went to much the same areas in Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, and Italy. What they did there is different but that is the subject of another post.

First let’s consider the ranges: from the UK to the deepest part of Germany – about 800 miles. Anything less is a shorter distance. If you get shot down you only have to fly the one way.

Night Time: RAF, Bomber Command. Lancasters, Halifaxes, Stirlings, etc. Speed of laden aircraft: about 250 miles per hour. They needed about 3 and a half hours to get there and somewhat less to get back. If they were going to drop their bombs in the darkest part of the night – about 2:00 AM – they needed to start from the UK at about 10:00 or 10:30 in the evening. Which meant the crew would have started to get ready to go at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Day Time: USAAF, 8th Air Force. B-17’s and B-24’s. Speed much the same. Bomb load sacrificed for defensive capability. Again the same time there and back but with more flak and fighters. What time did they want to be over the target? Well, enough light to let the Nordens see the ground, but hopefully while the locals were still reeling from the night attack. So, perhaps early in the morning?

That would have meant a takeoff at 3:30 AM with the difficulty of setting off in darkness and forming up before dawn. If you are going to fly and fight in a box formation, trying to get into it in the dark would have been murder.

Or did it matter all that much – did they just accept that they were going to get pasted all the way in and all the way out and just opt for an easier takeoff when there was light? Off the ground at 5:00 and over Vienna at 8:30 then back either by noon or never again?

I wish I had more information about the timing of the actual bombing raids. There must have been some occasions when the planners had to do traffic cop duty to keep the returning stream of bombers separate from the outgoing one.

One Of My Better Ones

I have ideas, you see. Well, it’s only to be expected – I’m retired and my mind is not required to worry about other people’s money or health – so I’m free to fret about my own.

But I don’t.

I have long realised that mostly it all proceeds on an even keel if you do not go to excess in anything. I’ve even cut down on my moderation. It’s meant a loss in income for the gin joints and the gals of easy reputation, but on the other hand I can spend the money on toy cars and model airplanes. The lady at the hobby shop is starting to wink at me as she operates the till…

Now back to the idea. I have a collection of model airplanes on model airfields. I know a number of flashy females who dance, pose, and generally glam it up all round the shop. So I have decided to combine the two by making the ladies into WWII ” nose art ” on the airplanes. There’ll be an exhibition in June at the belly dancing convention and then I’ll post the pictures on the toy and model photography pages.

Already I have 8 images completed and I haven’t even started shooting the fresh material – good glamour is ageless and older pictures are just as good as new ones when you make them into posters.

Of course, there are sacrifices. I am now compelled to go to the hobby shop and buy more model kits so as to have enough noses for all the girls. I shall have to spend my waking hours chained to the model bench or the studio shooting for the exhibition. I will only take time out to eat, drink, sleep, and read racy novels.

After all, I have a duty to culture, eh?

Yehudi

And I don’t actually mean the violin player…

You can wiki up the term ” Yehudi ” and get a fine ethnographic and biblical explanation of tribes of Israel and the evolution of the word into modern terms – both good and bad. Enjoy yourself.

I find it interesting that the term was applied to a  series of experiments in WWII that revolved around anti-submarine warfare. I was darned if I could think of a connection between this Hebrew word and the eventual wartime use. Then came the internet.

The Yehudi lights were lamps of variable brightness on the leading edges of aircraft wings, around the engines, and around the noses that were meant to make the dark aircraft silhouette blend in with a lighter sky. Our heading image is a Bristol Bolingbroke so equipped – though the black tyres spoil the illusion somewhat. The experiments found that they could reduce the distance at which an attacking Allied bomber was seen from the ocean’s surface from 5 miles to about 2.5 miles – a considerable advantage. Little use was made of them, however, past the experiments.

But it gets stranger. Yehudi Menuhin, the famous violin player, was a guest on many radio shows of the time. Apparently the comedy writers for the Bob Hope Show had a running gag where he was meant to arrive but didn’t – leading Jerry Colonna to put out the catchphrases ” Who’s Yehudi? “, and ” Where’s Yehudi? “. It became slang for a mysterious person who was never seen.

Perfect for RCAF and USAAF bombers over the grey Atlantic, sneaking up on U-boats.

But where does it leave us with the modern practice of putting rows of LED lights at the front of German prestige cars that light up in daytime. Are they sneaking up on us? Have they learned a valuable lesson?

Note For Today: It is officially Australian Federation Day today – the day in January 1901 when the disparate states and territories of Australia were drawn together as a nation. Dame Nellie Melba sang ” I’m A Little Teapot “, the Governor-General smashed a bottle of Tooheys on the prow of the HMAS CRIKEY as she slid down the ways at Dubbo, and the NBN was announced. A fine historic day for a new nation.