Recovering from Pearl Harbor

Today the USA, and the US Navy in particular, remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 that dragged this country into the Second World War.  There will be many words written and spoken about the solemnity of the occasion, and exhortations to “Never forget!”. However, there’s another aspect to Pearl Harbor that we mostly do forget.  That’s the enormous, complex, expensive salvage efforts that commenced almost at once, to repair as many damaged ships as possible and return them to the fight.  Many people don’t realize how successful it was.  Of the battleships that fought and won the Battle of Surigao Strait in

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Teaser

Here’s an excerpt from my current project – one of five books I’m working on (at various stages of research, investigation, writing and editing) at the moment. Please let me know in Comments if you like it. The noonday sun hung directly overhead, its heat seeming to sear through the cotton ghutra over his helmet, turning the metal into an instrument of torture that threatened to boil his brain. Taghri cursed softly to himself. The traders’ caravan had plodded its way through the heat for the past week. It would reach the city tonight. It couldn’t be soon enough for him. He

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A little bit of very big firearms history

A reader was doing some research on 19th-century firearms, and wrote to ask me why so-called “market hunting” had been banned in the USA in the latter part of that century.  The reason was that so many waterfowl and migratory birds were being slaughtered for the “market” by commercial hunters that they had become endangered.  The tool of choice for these hunters was the so-called “punt gun“. The history of such guns starts in the 19th century, when the rise in demand for meat in the marketplace led to mass-hunting of waterfowl. Also, the best women’s fashions at that time

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Sunday morning music, for the centenary of Armistice Day

One hundred years ago today, “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918, fighting ended in the First World War with the implementation of an armistice.  Since then, 11th November has been celebrated all over the world, particularly in Britain and her former colonies, as Armistice Day.  The full peace treaty took many months more to negotiate, but at least the killing was over. It was one of the very worst, most destructive, and most pointless wars in the history of the world.  Untold millions died, or were maimed, or were hurt, yet their sacrifice

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Remember – and vote

Stephan Pastis reminds us: Today, use the right to vote that they died to bequeath to us. There are literally billions of people in the world who don’t have it, or whose right is meaningless thanks to official shenanigans. We don’t labor under that curse – so remember, give thanks, and vote. Peter

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Sunday morning music, for the centenary of Armistice Day

One hundred years ago today, “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918, fighting ended in the First World War with the implementation of an armistice.  Since then, 11th November has been celebrated all over the world, particularly in Britain and her former colonies, as Armistice Day.  The full peace treaty took many months more to negotiate, but at least the killing was over. It was one of the very worst, most destructive, and most pointless wars in the history of the world.  Untold millions died, or were maimed, or were hurt, yet their sacrifice

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Remember – and vote

Stephan Pastis reminds us: Today, use the right to vote that they died to bequeath to us. There are literally billions of people in the world who don’t have it, or whose right is meaningless thanks to official shenanigans. We don’t labor under that curse – so remember, give thanks, and vote. Peter

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Floating drydocks, accidents, and ingenuity

The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov has been damaged during the sinking of a floating drydock.  It’s shown below in the dock before the undocking maneuver. The news reminds us, once again, that floating drydocks are enormously useful, but also potentially very hazardous.  They require very well-trained operators to partially submerge the dock, bring a ship into it and secure it to the dock, raise up the dock, and (after repairs are completed) submerge it again to let the vessel out.  The whole operation relies on pumping water into or out of various tanks along the length and breadth of the drydock.  Any

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I think these two have the right of it

I’ve previously made it clear that, despite possible missteps, I think President Trump was on the right track in dealing with Russia.  If you didn’t watch the video interview with him I posted over the weekend, I suggest you do so now, because it makes even more sense in the light of the clip below. Two US academics and foreign policy specialists, Stephen F. Cohen and John Mearsheimer, state bluntly that President Trump may be absolutely correct to blame many of the problems in our relationship with Russia on previous US administrations – and that he may be absolutely correct about the way forward. 

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