Sunday, December 01, 2019

A $20 Christmas letter


We can send an email around the world at virtually no cost, and have a video conference for pennies a minute. So it's hard for us to understand (or remember, in my case) how slow and expensive it was to exchange information and affection in what my young neighbor calls the Dark Ages. On November 17, 1941, RT Smith of the 3rd Squadron Hell's Angels, stationed at Toungoo airfield north of Rangoon, sent a letter to his mother and father in California. The cost was 3 rupees, 15 annas, and 3 pies -- about one dollar in US currency, when a dollar bill was worth about twenty of today's. $20 to send Christmas greetings to the folks at home! More about this envelope on the Annals of the Flying Tigers

Reviewed for December on the Warbird's Book Club are An Impeccable Spy, the biography of Richard Sorge, Stalin's agent in Tokyo in 1941, and Retreat from Moscow, a new and mostly convincing history of Germany's successful withdrawal in the winter of 1941-1942. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

As China turns 70


Properly Woke Americans like to think of the United States as a racist, misogynist society ruled by a fascist with orange hair. But whenever repression really hits the fan, anywhere in the world, people still wave the Stars and Stripes, as protesters in Hong Kong are doing here.

In 1949, Mao Zedong and the Peoples Liberation Army won the civil war and sent the former Nationalist government fleeing to Taiwan. Seventy years later, both mainland China and its offshore island are prospering, but only Taiwan is free. The people of Hong Kong know that, and they know that the absolute dictator in Bejing is determined that they too will be brought under the heel of his secret police, total surveillance, and "re-education" camps.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The new, new Royal Family


How could any government do better than this? It's not just Meghan, either -- Prince Harry has more joy in his bones than any Royal I've ever seen. Of course it doesn't hurt one's mood to have all that pulchritude in his line of vision!

But yeah, I've got to admit, most nights this year we've watched an episode of Suits on Amazon Prime Video.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Europe discovers the virtues of "English" measure

I've never liked the metric system, one of many bad ideas introduced to France, Europe, and the world by the French Revolution of 1789. I didn't even mind the British notion of the "stone" (I weighed 10 stone at the time; I'm considerably heavier now).

After all, who cares at what temperature water freezes and boils? All I want to know is whether the day is hot or cold, and for that, Fahrenheit is brilliant. Zero is really cold; 100 is really hot. They're also the temps at which human existence becomes a bit dodgy and it pays to pay attention to how you dress and what you're doing.

This is the summer that Europe discovers the virtues of Fahrenheit. Yesterday or the day before, on a trustworthy thermometer, Britain recorded 101 deg, Netherlands 104, Germany 107, and France (where the stupidity of Celsius got its start) 109.

Ah, Robespierre, thou shouldst be living at this hour! The thermometer you inspired may read 42.77778 deg, but in my world it's 109, and it's really, really, hot.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

John Bull hitches up his trousers -- for Sweden?


Turns out the "British" ship hijacked by Iran is owned by a Swedish company. So why isn't the Swedish navy steaming to the Gulf?

The easy solution for this kerfluffle would be for Britain to recall all the Red Ensigns it has loaned out to foreigners. I'm sure that's what a Labour government would do.

In the meantime, the US Navy ought to consider the benefits of home-porting its warships in London, so we'd be sure of having an ally in the next confrontation.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

A Rebel in the County Cork

When I was a student at King's College London (MA in War Studies, 2010), I had to write and submit "long essays" -- what in the US we called research papers. At the time, I published A Rebel in the County Cork for Amazon's new and revolutionary Kindle e-reader. Yesterday I revised and expanded it, and added it to the US Amazon store, to other Amazon stores worldwide, and to other online booksellers and subscription services.  (It may take a while to percolate through the internet.) It's about 4000 words, with notes, bibliography, and photographs. The cost is $2.99 -- hey, that's less than a cup of coffee! Blue skies -- Dan Ford

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Nike strikes the Betsy Ross flag

What a public relations triumph! Nike announced a special edition Air Max shoe for the Fourth of July holiday, only to cancel it when instructed to do so by Colin Kaepernick, who also doesn't believe in standing for the national anthem. Well, to each his own, as they say. And what I say is, I won't be buying Nikes any time soon.

It helps that my budget inclines me more toward New Balance anyhow.