Thursday, March 27, 2008

I've been so long away...

...for which I must apologize to my faithful readers, both of whom are probably dead or wholly apathetic by now. Same old excuse, I guess: work is occupying most of my cranial real estate lately, as Your Humble Scribe has received a promotion. I'm particularly proud of the monetary negotiations that took place therefrom:

Big Cheese: I'm sorry to say that we can't offer you a raise at this time.
Me: Well, how about an increase in my yearly bonus?
BC: Sorry.
Me: A spot bonus?
BC: No can do.
Me: An extra week of vacation?
BC: No.
Me: Can I go to this year's incentive trip?
BC: No.
Me: Very well, I accept.

So for precisely no remuneration whatsoever, I inherited a great big vat of responsibility and a company cell phone that quite conveniently keeps my work tethered to my hip 24 hours a day, seven days a week, interrupted only by sporadic periods of fitful sleep during which I dream about - you guessed it - work. In short, I have turned into the precise type of corporate joyboy that I hold in quiet contempt for having no sense of work/life balance.

Nevertheless, there are some quiet corners of the ol' pumpkin that are occupied by things other than work. Forthwith then some of the mighty ponderables that poke up from time to time when I'm on the crapper.

  • In many ways, The Beatles' Norwegian Wood stands head and shoulders above the rest of their catalog, especially their catalog up to that point. This was 1965, mind you, when the Hollies were warbling ditties like "Look Through Any Window" and the British Invasion pretenders were still teenybopping. John created this masterpiece, blending a haunting, complex chord progression with angry, bitter lyrics about women who tease in general, and his first wife in particular, who he always thought cornered him into marriage ("I once had a girl; or should I say, she once had me.") Words like masterpiece are too easliy tossed about these days, but it's high time this song get the credit it deserves.

  • Are you familiar with The Flying Spaghetti Monster? It's a brilliant counter-argument to Intelligent Design. There's not enough space here to describe it fully, but essentially, some guy said that the world began when an omniscient being that looked like a plate of spaghetti and meatballs created the world and everything in it. If you believe that Intelligent Design is ridiculous pseudo-science bullshit, read about it here: Highlight: A letter to the Kansas Board of Education which reads in part "..."I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence." Brilliant. Just Brilliant.

  • If you are in any way interested in Military Intelligence campaigns, you owe it to yourself to read everything you can regarding Operation Mincemeat. There are many web-based treatises about it; there's a pretty complete Wikipedia entry. From
    a 1995 article in WWII Magazine:

    When the campaign in North Africa was drawing to a successful close, the Allies'next strategic target was painfully obvious to anyone who could read a map. "Everyone but a bloody fool would know it's Sicily," said Winston Churchill.

    Sitting in the middle of the choke point of the Mediterranean, Sicily was the shortest route from North Africa to Adolf Hitler's Europe. It was also the base from which the Luftwaffe had pounded Malta for many months, as well as any convoy that tried to reach the beleaguered island. Sicily had to be taken, but its rough terrain favored the defender. Any attack against a well-entrenched force would be very costly, or might even fail. If the enemy only could be misled as to where the Allies intended to strike next, the attacking force might encounter something less than a fully manned defense. But how were the German general staff and intelligence service to be duped on such a grand scale?

    The solution to that problem came from two relatively junior British officers: Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montagu, a reservist who represented naval intelligence on the interservice XX Committee (XX for double cross), and Squadron Leader Sir Archibald Cholmondley, Montagu's Air Ministry counterpart. It was Cholmondley who first suggested planting false Allied documents on a dead body and letting it fall into German hands.The XX Committee was initially skeptical of the bizarre plan, but in the end Montagu made it work.

    Before the war Montagu had been a successful barrister, and after the war he would become judge advocate of the fleet and one of England's greatest jurists. In the early months of 1943 he used his lawyer skills to blend an intricate and massive hoax into one of the most phenomenally successful deception operations in the history of modern warfare.

    If it tickles your fancy pick up a copy of the book "The Man Who Never Was," written by one of the principal architects of Mincemeat, Ewan Montagu himself.

  • My brother Ross and his wife Tara are having a baby! Join the virtual baby shower here.

Well, that's about it for now, I reckon. I promise, more to come. Peace, Love, and His Noodly Appendage.


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