Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Great photo from the invasion of France.  It was taken in May 1940 and shows a bomb(s?) exploding along a French road from the viewpoint of another German plane.  At first, I thought this photo showed a bomb exploding in the middle of a French convoy.  But after looking at it, I think it shows the result of a bomb run directed at military positions just to the right of the road.  The picture was taken (still guessing) from the next plane, just lining up their own run on the target.  In addition, even though you can see vehicles on the road, they are not of uniform size and color, as you would expect with a military convoy.

The photo also illustrates something else.  The impact of the Luftwaffe was huge during May 1940.  It was one of the key reasons the Germans were able to achieve in six weeks what they had not during the 4 years of WW1.  However, the Luftwaffe's superiority turned out to be relative.  They weren't that much better than either the French air force or the RAF.  But they were far better used, as the photo shows.  This is not a couple of planes flying around looking for targets of opportunity, like a convoy.  If they are attacking something beside the highway, it's probably because someone told them there was a target there.  The Luftwaffe's tactical integration was excellent.  That means they were in contact with ground units and responded to their requests.  This became routine later, but in 1940, the Germans were the only ones able to do it effectively.

However, the Luftwaffe failed to grow beyond an almost purely tactical organization.  Resource constraints and poor management resulted in an air force with no strategic bombing capability and no ability to gain more than local air superiority.  These limitations were not always a handicap to the Luftwaffe in Russia, for a variety of reasons.  And they did well on the Eastern Front.  But having failed to gain air superiority during the Battle of Britain, they were never able to get it again in the West.  In addition, the lack of a strategic capability prevented the Germans from projecting their air power deep into enemy territory.  They simply could not put a large amount of bombs on a target far away.  For example, the Germans killed about 51,000 people in Britain with aerial bombing during the entire war.  The RAF and USAAF killed about 50,000 in one night when they firebombed Hamburg in July 1943.  Body counts do not mean victory, but the numbers illustrate the difference in capacity.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Pix

    Door and window, Sifnos, 1986
    Kodak High-Speed Infrared


Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.
Aldous Huxley

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


"I think the question I get asked the most is, well I dunno know, it happens a lot, enough that I would remark on it - a lot of people come up to me and they say "Tom, is it possible for a woman to get pregnant without intercourse?"

My answer's always the same, I say: "Listen. We're gonna have to go all the way back to the civil war. Apparently a stray bullet actually pierced the testicle of a Union soldier and then lodged itself in the ovaries of an 18 year old girl who was actually 100 feet from him at the time. Well, the baby was fine. She was very happy. Guilt-free. Of course, the soldier was a little pissed off."

When ya think about it, it's actually a form of intercourse, just not for everyone. Those who love action, maybe. "

Tom Waits

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Whether they find a life there or not, I think Jupiter should be called an enemy planet.
Jack Handey

2010 Outlook

There are many things to fear in the coming year.  Here are a few:

In a fit of anger after the Copenhagen deal unravels, the Atlantic ocean rises 3 feet.
damn gubment
dogs wearing camo
mummar quadaffi confirms the rumours.  Yep, he's a zombie.
Harper finally gets his majority in Canada's last federal election.
Lots of bumping and grinding at the Yellowstone caldera.
Fake Steve Jobs turns out to be real Steve Jobs.  Real Tiger Woods turns out to be fake Tiger Woods.
North Korea unhappy.
2012 makes a pre-emptive strike
Donnybrooks on many street corners.
Talks aimed at blocking Lindsay Lohan's next movie fall apart.
There's something outside.  I can hear it.
Elvis sightings wane.
China gets tired of our trash talkin ways.
Global warming means no more Bourbon.
Coyotes win the Stanley Cup.
Another Tom Cruise comeback.
Switzerland is found to be giant ponzi scheme.
everyone gets in a snit about something (ok, not scary, but really irritating)
another re-org
The fanboys unite, stage rebellion
4chan IPO

Monday, December 14, 2009


     Erich von Manstein between sessions at Nuremberg.  He eventually spent 4 years in prison. 

According to the widely accepted truism, history is written by the victors.  The funny thing about WW2 is that the most important history, what happened in Russia, was written by the losers.  Between the events and the telling, the cold war started.  So instead of the Russians crowing their victories, we had German generals explaining why it wasn't really their fault they lost.  It was Hitler.  It was the  human wave tactics of the Red Army.  It was Goering's fault.  It was the savage brutality of the Soviet regime.  It was logistic incompetence.  It was Himmler's fault.  It was the interference of Nazi bureaucracy.  It was the weather.  It was bad luck.

The reason we accepted this story is 1) its partly true, 2) it suited our predjudices, 3) it was politically expedient.  What the Russians said was all propaganda (and at that time it was mostly was).  The German generals were gentlemen, aristocrats, admirable military minds.  Why would they lie?  But lie they did to save their reputations and their necks.  Had the cold war not started until 1947, lots of well known German generals would have hung in 1945 and 1946.  Instead, they were useful to the victors and let off with wrist slaps.   Naturally, their memoirs followed thereafter.  And our view of the war was set in stone until the mid-90's.


Impartial - unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage from espousing either side of a controversy.
Ambrose Bierce


Some perspective.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


The last man on the moon.  Eugene Cernan, December 13, 1972.  Incidentally, Cernan was one of three people that went to the moon twice.  He orbited on his first visit and walked on his second.   Nobody has walked on the moon twice.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
H. L. Mencken

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Pix

    Wall, Paros, Greece, 1986
    Kodak High Speed Infrared