Heffalumps don’t surf

Somewhere… in the hundred acre wood… after a frantic search the platoon find Eeyore hung up in a tree, mutilated, his tail is missing. Piglet is out for blood.

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“Fuck it Pooh. Lets do the whole fucking village!”

*Cue Adagio for strings*

As an interesting aside, this was the Russian propaganda poster that was distributed after the My Lai massacre…

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 “For services in My Lai!”

I tend to reserve judgement on these sorts of things. Because… well… no one really ever occupies the high ground of morality for very long. And… since my people (ze Germans) fairly recently staked out some substantial real estate on the atrocity circuit I always feel a bit weird throwing my moralizing around. That whole generational awkwardness thing.

It does piss me off that no-one was ever prosecuted for this war crime though.

Blitz ethics

I love applied ethics and am (generally) less appreciative of the theoretical and ‘academic’ stuff. But I find practical real life examples of tough moral choices really interesting. Especially when they are made by people that I like…. enter stage right Winston Churchill…

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On the 14 November 1940, 515 German bombers left mainland Europe on a bombing run. Their target was the West Midlands town of Coventry. The first wave of bombers targeted infrastructure, cratering roads and destroying the telephone lines as well as the gas and water mains. This would make it difficult for the fire department to reach affected areas and difficult to co-ordinate damage control, especially with no water. The bombers that followed dropped high explosive and incendiary bombs, as well as air mines which exploded overhead and damaged roofs which would allow the fire bombs easier access to the internal and presumably more flammable parts of the buildings.

Interestingly, in terms of defense, Coventry had 24, 3.7mm inch AA guns and twelve 40mm guns. Each guns could fire about 10 rounds a minute and the raid lasted 10hrs in which the Royal Artillery fire 6,700 rounds with only one out of  the 515 bombers (some of whom were flying multiple sorties) was shot down.

During the course of the night and early morning 4,300 homes were destroyed and about two thirds of the buildings in the city center were damaged. Casualties were estimated at 568 killed, with 863 badly injured and 393 sustaining lesser injuries. These causality rates are actually surprisingly low considering the ferocity of the bombing raid, likely attributable to the great air-raid shelters and that most of the townspeople actually evacuated the city at night and slept in the countryside.

In any event, in 1974 it was revealed, and confirmed by other sources within the intelligence community at the time, that Winston Churchill had advanced warning of the attack on Coventry. The mathematicians and cryptographers at Bletchley Park had already deciphered the Enigma code that was being used by the Germans (although a senior member at Bletchley park refutes the claim that Winston Churchill knew that Coventry was the intended target)

Winston Churchill apparently decided to let the Blitz on Coventry go a head, so as not to tip off the Germans that they had cracked the enigma code. If he reinforced the air defenses on the city, the Germans might have become suspicious. The death of hundreds of innocent civilians was weighed up against the massive strategic advantage of being able to read the ‘secure’ communications of the enemy.

There is an apocryphal quote attributed to Winston Churchill that the decision to let Coventry burn ‘took twenty years off my life’.

Color me interested

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Coloring books sure have changed since I was younger. *hauling out his crayons* I mean I’ll still take a stab at it, I’m assuming I’m allowed any other color but Ottoman red?

To be fair though, this is actually harder than it looks. Maybe I should use the original Sykes-Picot method of getting uproariously drunk and then throwing darts at a massive cork-board cutout. Unbeknownst to the proletariat most high level government decisions around the world are in fact decided by throwing something at something else and seeing what sticks. Seems about as valid as any other decision making model, after all you can’t please everyone and at least you’ll have some fun doing it…

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Caveat. If you’re going to throw people though, you should likely get them to wear a helmet. Blunt force trauma is surprisingly jarring and is also harder to walk off than you might anticipate. Trust me on this, I’m a boxer.

Death of a pamphleteer

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On this day, 22 February, 1943, Sophie Scholl was executed by the government of Nazi Germany. She was convicted of high treason after being arrested for distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich along with her brother Hans five days before. She was 21 years old.

Her last words were:

‘How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?’

Her head was then chopped off with a guillotine.

Epic fail

If you’ve just had the day from hell… and you feel it couldn’t get any worse… spare a thought for Nedeljiko Čabrinović  (Center) one of the ‘assassins’ of Archduke Ferdinand.

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Čabrinović started off his debacle of a day by throwing a hand grenade at the open topped vehicle carrying the Archduke, but bungled it, bouncing the grenade off the car door. The grenade also had a ten second fuse which meant it only exploded under the forth car in the convoy.

To avoid capture, Čabrinović quickly swallowed a cyanide capsule. Which turned out to be defective and instead of killing him, just made him vomit. Thinking fast he threw himself into the River Miljacka… only to realize that the river was only 4 inches deep.

Having failed to kill himself he was swarmed and taken into custody. ‘I am a Serb hero’ he proclaimed as he was taken away. He died two years later of tuberculous at the midpoint of the Great war he helped create.

 

 

Time to buzz the tower

This picture was taken on the 2nd October 1964. Some Army recruits were on a route march along the beach from Langebaan to Saldanha, about 120km north of Cape Town, South Africa.

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Apparently the Army guys had bragged, that while the Air force guys could fly low, they could never make them ‘hit the deck’.