Thursday, 13 April 2017

By on April 13th, 2017 in personal

09:25 – It was 48.1F (9.5C) when I took Colin out at 0715 this morning, partly cloudy and breezy. Barbara just called to check in. She’s due back from Winston around mid-afternoon, so Colin and I need to get things cleaned up a bit before then. We’ve been wild womening and partying since she left.

I watched several more WWII propaganda films last night. Of course, everything was slanted into an us-versus-them perspective, as one would expect of propaganda films, but despite the slant the underlying reality was there.

I thought the one on Japan did a pretty good job of pointing out the differences between the two cultures, ours free and theirs utterly subordinate in all things to their emperor. Interestingly, the film took pains to point out that the differences weren’t racial. The scrolling text that opened the film extolled the loyalty and bravery of the Nisei, people of Japanese heritage who had been born in the US and were citizens and who fought valiantly for the US in both Europe and the Pacific.

The film also demonized the Japanese in Japan as vicious, mindless thugs, whose highest aspiration was to die in battle for their emperor, a true representation of the way things were. One factoid I wasn’t aware of was that the average Japanese soldier was 5’3″ tall and weighed 117 pounds, about the size of the average American woman at the time. The Japanese soldiers were little bastards, but vicious.

Both that film and the one about the Nazis made the point that both of their educational systems were designed to indoctrinate rather than educate, and that the primary goal of both was to raise children who would unquestioningly obey orders and do nothing on their own initiative.

And that had a big effect on their respective armies. When I was college, I met a man about my dad’s age. He’d been a junior officer in the 1st SS panzer division in France just after the Normandy invasion, and had also served on the Russian Front. I asked him about the differences between the various armies, and what he had to say was fascinating.

With regard to the German versus Russian armies, he said that decision-making authority was at a much lower level in his army than in the Russian army. As a company-grade officer, his superior officers told him what goal he was responsible for achieving and in broad-brush terms how to go about getting it done. From that point, he made the decisions as to how to employ his company to get the job done. He made decisions like calling in artillery, air, or armor support that he said in the Russian army would be made by a field-grade officer, if not a general officer. That meant the German army was much more flexible in responding quickly to enemy action.

Then, after D-Day, the high command rushed the 1st SS panzer division west to counter the landings. What he found there was that Allied units, particularly US ones, shifted responsibility for tactical decision making even lower. He was stunned to learn that in US units decisions like calling in artillery/air/armor support that in his army would be made by officers of his rank or higher were often made by US enlisted men, sergeants or even privates. In short, US forces at all levels took the initiative rather than just following orders. Of course, in large part this was because the US forces were able to be so flexible because of their overwhelming superiority in materiel.

Which takes me to an interesting comment he made. In the German army, hand grenades were issued almost exclusively to specially-trained grenadiers, and were used sparingly. In the US, essentially every soldier might as well have been a trained grenadier because they’d all grown up playing sandlot baseball. They all carried grenades, and they used them lavishly. Rather than send a guy in the door of a building they had to clear, they’d toss in a grenade (or several grenades) before risking a man. And they never seemed to run short of grenades, he said.

I remember thinking of that conversation when I saw the movie Kelly’s Heroes, which involved a bunch of US soldiers forming an ad hoc unit on their own initiative to go and loot a pile of German-held gold. An early example of how socialism, National or otherwise, can’t compete with the free market and the profit motive.


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53 Comments and discussion on "Thursday, 13 April 2017"

  1. Greg Norton says:

    I remember thinking of that conversation when I saw the movie Kelly’s Heroes, which involved a bunch of US soldiers forming an ad hoc unit on their own initiative to go and loot a pile of German-held gold. An early example of how socialism, National or otherwise, can’t compete with the free market and the profit motive.

    “Kelly’s Heroes”. Don Rickles RIP. I dread the day I open the paper (well, browser) to see the obit for “Kelly”, most likely found, as his protege Michael Ciminio once predicted, slumped over in his director’s chair.

    (Kinda ironic — that interview with Cimino probably used to be part of the standard Eastwood obit package, but the master outlived the student.)

    If you haven’t read it, find a copy of Neal Stephenson’s “Cryptonomicon”. Judging from “Seveneves”, Stephenson has gone prog since he went to work for Bezos at Blue Origin, but the older stuff holds up really well. “Cryptonomicon” is a “Kelly’s Heroes” story on a much larger scale that spans two time periods and explores many of the issues that you raised in today’s post.

  2. ech says:

    The summation of the quality of WWII troops pretty much is:
    – Germans has the best NCOs and did more with less. Best armor and ordnance through much of the war, but couldn’t make or supply enough.
    – USSR spent lives like ammo, where “quantity has a quality all its own”. Nad leadership at first. They also nearly ran out of troops due to this and had to get better in 1944 and later.
    – the French were incompetently led, but had some good troops.
    – Italy, see France.
    – the British were good troops, but had some terrible generals.
    – the US was crap at first – bad tanks, poorly trained and led troops, a navy stuck in WW I – but learned fast and built lots of reliable and middling quality equipment that the troops could fix.
    – Japan had mediocre troops and a reasonable strategy. Not enough equipment or supply to make it work.

  3. SteveF says:

    Bill Mauldin, the WWII Stars and Stripes cartoonist, mentioned in his book Up Front that American troops were able to fix their own motor vehicles. Other nations, like the US, would have tanks and self-propelled artillery and trucks for transporting materiel and hauling artillery. For most of them, if the vehicle broke down the driver would have to radio in to headquarters and just wait there for a team of mechanics to come fix it. If an American vehicle broke down, the crew could fix it or the next passing platoon of troops would have someone who could fix it. This led to greatly increased reliability of deliveries and an increased tempo of operations and advance.

  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yeah, one of my good friends in college was a biology professor, Al Brower. He’d landed with the US troops as a sergeant on D-Day and walked to Berlin. I remember him saying that going in all of the US troops honestly believed that one US soldier was equivalent to two or three German ones. Al and the other NCOs quickly realized that the converse was true in the early fighting. They had green kids going up against battle-hardened veterans. But he also said that things reversed on the way to Berlin as our guys got battle experience and Germany ran out of veterans and started tossing in teenage boys.

  5. Greg Norton says:

    The money quote from “Cryptonomicon”:

    “Ask a Russian engineer to design you a shoe, and he’ll give you something that looks like the box the shoe came in. Ask him to design something that will slaughter Germans, and he turns into Thomas f*cking Edison. ”

    “Cryptonomicon” and “American Gods” are the two books I will take on long plane rides if nothing else appeals. I always get something new out of both books whenever I re-read them.

    I never thought either could get made into a decent movie without losing a lot of the material, but, after a long period of development across several networks, “American Gods” hits Starz at the end of the month albeit as a series.

    The producers of “American Gods” have promised the “Bilquis” scene as written, and I gotta wonder if that scared HBO off of the project.

  6. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yeah, in addition to almost all US soldiers having grown up playing sandlot baseball, a high percentage of them were also shade-tree mechanics. Hell, *I* grew up doing shade-tree mechanic stuff, and that was less than 50 years ago. Nowadays, almost no boys do that sort of thing, partly because vehicles aren’t accessible for repairs, but mostly because they’re too busy playing video games, texting, and social media-izing.

  7. pcb_duffer says:

    I’ve read that one German observation / complaint about American GIs was that they were very quick to toss out their doctrine and try something else. It made countering US troops all that more difficult.

  8. ayj says:

    but everythig finished now, the era of micromanaging, a lot of you Viet relics, know a bit about that isnt it’ or the books are wrong?

  9. DadCooks says:

    WRT WWII U.S. G.I.s:
    The prominent demographic of the U.S. G.I. was basically a “farm boy”. These folks were jacks of all trades and just knew how to make things work. But even the city folks were far different, school actually taught things beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic. Everybody took shop classes.

    Even back in my high school days of the 60s we were required to take at least one shop class to graduate. All girls had to take several home economics classes like sewing, meal planning and grocery shopping, and cooking (oh, and there was a how to care for a child class too, required for the girls who “accidentally” got knocked-up).

    Since the 70s the political correctness, gender neutrality movement has created several generations of absolutely useless drones.

  10. DadCooks says:

    Today’s prepper find, a Ka-Bar Tactical Spork:

    It may be plastic, bit it’ll do some damage.

  11. dkreck says:

    Briefing underway
    Trump drops a fat one on Afghanistan

  12. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    In junior high school, all the boys took mechanical drawing/drafting and woodshop in 7th and 8th grade. I made some pretty deformed looking stuff in woodshop, but at least I learned how to use power saws, sanders, lathes, etc. and do basic joinery. High school was grades 10 through 12. We actually had two high schools, one for academics and the other VoTech, where they sent kids who didn’t have a prayer of getting into college. But they did turn out a bunch of good auto mechanics, electricians, plumbers, etc.

  13. lynn says:

    “CBO – The 2017 Long-Term Budget Outlook”

    Oh my ! Just as I have been assuming. In fact, my assumptions may have been less than the CBO. I blame Obola whom Trump is making look more ineffective by the day. Wait, I blame all of the politicians who think that they are Santa Claus.

    From Sovereign Man:

  14. dkreck says:

    Well the politicians hand it out but there’s a reason it goes on.
    As Pournelle often cites
    A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.

  15. SteveF says:

    I made some pretty deformed looking stuff in woodshop, but at least I learned how to use power saws, sanders, lathes, etc. and do basic joinery.

    Heh. Ditto.

  16. JimL says:

    Tomorrow is oil-change day at the Lang house-hold. Elder daughter & son (9 & 7) will be out there helping dear-old-dad with the dirty work. As my Dad taught me, so are our children taught. They help with all the maintenance work now, and it only takes 25% longer than it should. That’s pretty good.

  17. MrAtoz says:

    Too bad he didn’t drop it on Riyadh.

  18. MrAtoz says:

    In junior high school, all the boys took mechanical drawing/drafting and woodshop in 7th and 8th grade.

    Ditto. The Good Ole Days.

  19. MrAtoz says:

    I’ve posted before, my High School Chem and Physics classes were college level minus Calculus. These days HS instructors clutch their pearls about using acids, bases or anything that could cause harm. Next up: virtual Bunsen Burners!

  20. DadCooks says:

    We made explosives and used all sorts of acids to dissolve stuff in my High School chemistry class and in biology we dissected frogs, mice, and rats all humanely euthanized with ether in class (the frogs were pithed by the teacher). The teachers did not put up with any jokes or disrespect for the animals we used.

    I also took a cooking home ec class, great place to meet girls as was the typing class (we had to show proficiency on both manual and electric typewriters).

  21. Ray Thompson says:

    Took mechanical drawing in the 9th grade, 1st year of high school. The teacher knew what he was doing and I learned a lot. Was excited to take my second year when I was sophomore. But the teacher retired and the school installed an idiot who did not know the difference between a left or right handed screwdriver as the shop and mechanical drawing teacher. The students who were then taking the 1st year class learned absolutely nothing. I complained to the school board but was quickly shot down as apparently students knew nothing.

    I had high hopes of taking wood shop and metal shop my junior and senior year. But after seeing what this clown did for instruction and talking with some current students in wood shop taking such classes would be a waste of time.

    Fundamental safety procedures were unknown to this guy and most of the machines were operated without any safety guards as he did not know how to install the guards. No personal safety equipment such as goggles as he was clueless about basic shop safety. Had one girl operating a wood lathe with long hair that was not tightly secured behind her head. You guessed it, lathe grabbed the hair and tore out about a 2in square chunk of hair with scalp. Even then the shop teacher was not blamed.

    I did OK as I grew on a farm where maintenance skills were mandatory as were wood working skills. I wanted to learn to use a wood and metal lathe. I wanted to learn to weld. Never got the chance because of the incompetent teacher.

    Finished installing the new door from the garage to the basement. Seals nicely, closes nicely, works well. Lots of adjustments to make it fit properly.

    Now a crew is working to replace our front bay window. The old window is not a unit but is a series of glass panes built into a frame. A basic piece of crap done by the previous home owner. New window is a complete unit. So the installers are having to rip out the old installation and install the new window, which weighs about 500 pounds. I will have to help them with muscle work.

    We contracted with Home Depot for the window. What is strange to me is that the installers are from Nashville which is 2.75 hours away. They already made one trip with the incorrect window. Now they have arrived again with the proper window (correct depth and width). Started at 3:00PM our time and I have no idea how long it is going to take. May have have couple sheets of plywood in the opening tonight. Ugh.

  22. MrAtoz says:

    Typing was one class I took in HS that paid off big time my entire life. Today, you can barely get a kid into “keyboarding” class. HS should have a “water boarding” class for the snowflakes to “woke” them. lol!

  23. Ray Thompson says:

    These days HS instructors clutch their pearls about using acids, bases or anything that could cause harm. Next up: virtual Bunsen Burners!

    Long gone are the days where you find actual sodium and potassium in the labs. In fact I don’t think you can find any harmful chemicals anymore. Too many lawyers involved. Plus some of the glasses have special education students who would think nothing of chugging a beaker of acid and trying to chomp sodium nuggets, basically students of extremely limited intelligence. But you have to mainstream them and give them the same educational program as everyone else. Even though they will never learn, they have to be taught. A tremendous waste of resources in my opinion.

    Bunsen burners! Oh the horror! Actual flames in a classroom. Better to look at a powerpoint slide through you can sleep to learn about heating anything. The little precious’ might burn themselves.

  24. MarkD says:

    You had electric typewriters?

    Typing class was good prep for becoming a sysadmin. If you made a mistake, you had to start over.

  25. SteveF says:

    Next up: virtual Bunsen Burners!

    Not a joke. I’m sure I read a couple years ago about a high school chemistry class which had no lab. Instead, the students watched videos which (allegedly) taught them all they’d need to know about safety, good lab techniques and procedures, and everything else they need to know. Emphasis on “allegedly”. Can’t find the article now, of course.

  26. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yes, virtual labs have been around for a long time, both from safety/liability concerns and because lab facilities are too costly for many schools. Virtual labs are great for training future virtual scientists. Alas, they’re useless if you want to produce real scientists.

  27. lynn says:

    Too bad he didn’t drop it on Riyadh.

    We’ve got more FOABs. Shoot, I’ll bet that it is cheaper than a Tomahawk.

    Rush called this bomb the FOAB, the Father of All Bombs. He said it was named by the sexists at the Pentagon. “snicker”.

  28. Ray Thompson says:

    Typing was one class I took in HS that paid off big time my entire life.

    Agreed. Without the ability to type without looking at a keyboard my programming career would have been less than ideal and I doubt I would have progressed to my current level (non-functioning now).

    I took the class as I needed something to fill in the first period. I really had no plans to ever use the class. The class was first in the morning, manual typewriters, cold hands, made for some tough typing. Road my motorcycle to school on frosty morning and forgot gloves. When I got to school my hands would not open to get off the motorcycle. You

  29. Ray Thompson says:

    If you made a mistake, you had to start over.

    When I learned it was before the invention of correction tape and white out. You had this circular eraser (with a brush on the other side) that was course and would remove the top layer of paper. You only got one mistake in that area.

    All but three of our typewriters were manual, the other three being IBM Selectric with the magic ball. It was a real treat to use those typewriters.

    Had to do two term papers in school, all typed. A mistake was almost retype the entire page. Adding a paragraph was simply out of the question. There were several girls in school that would type term papers from hand written pages for $20.00. I think I typed my own 30 page term paper over the course of probably a month.

    And don’t get me started on carbon paper, in triplicate while in the USAF. Flimsy little sheets that you had to smack the keys really hard to get an impression on the third page.

    Desktop computers were supposed to eliminate or reduce paper usage. All they have done is increase the amount of paper as people type more (especially government) and print 5 copies on the group laser printer. Duplexing is apparently beyond the grasp of many GS-11’s.

  30. JimL says:

    Heh. I’m a real jerk. EVERY printer here is duplex by default. If you want simplex, you have to go into the printer properties & change it. And it doesn’t save the settings.

    So I’m a tree-hugger. I’m also cheap.

  31. JimL says:

    Manual typewriters – I remember Mrs Doyle. Large woman with a heart of gold. Set the bar at 40 WPM and told us everyone would get there or better, on manual typewriters, or not graduate. To my knowledge, everyone either passed her class or moved to a public school.

    Thanks, Mrs. Doyle.

  32. Ray Thompson says:

    Heh. I’m a real jerk.

    Join the crowd. When I was working at my last (and final) job I set the main printer to duplex by default. Pissed off most of the people in the office. Some would print a document and then go asking everyone in the office if they had seen page 2. When they got to me I would just tell them to look on the other side of the paper. When these people wanted to run custom paper they would load the main tray with their paper, go back to their desk, then print. If someone printed before them they got their output on the wrong paper. I could not get them to use the bypass tray or one of the other of the three trays. Too lazy or too stupid, take your choice.

    Set the bar at 40 WPM

    I also seem to remember that 40 WPM was the “C” level of my typing class. Higher got you better grades. If you could center, do paragraph breaks, no lines running over, and format bibliography pages, indexes and table of contents well, and do 50 WPM you got an “A”. I think I got to 60 WPM on the Selectric, about 45 WPM on the manual.

    At one of my jobs, a highly paid secretary of the sub contractor (Lockheed Martin) that contracted with my company, had this really annoying habit of pressing return at the end of each line. I would sneak in at night sometimes and change the margin on the document by a 0.10 of an inch or so. All her paragraphs got messed up. She would come to me for help and I would change the margin back, show her what happened and how it could all be avoided if she just let the system wrap the lines for her. Double spaced paragraphs were never learned. And to top it off she got a new computer each year that was the fastest available because she “did so much work she needed the speed”.

  33. pcb_duffer says:

    I took typing in 7th grade, as a substitute for the physical education class that I couldn’t be involved with. Manual typewriters, no correction other than White-Out, etc.
    Wood shop, mechanical shop, and basic mechanical skills were learned in early elementary school, as part of the family businesses. As my dad used to say, “When the machines don’t work, we don’t eat!” Safety procedures were not part of the formal curriculum, but I managed to survive, and was a *lot* more strict with my employees.
    As others say, those skills, along with fundamentals of home ec (cooking, sewing, etc.) ought to be taught to all kids, even the ones on “college” tracks.
    The “advanced” math & sciences taught at my high school (with the exception of Physics) were a disgrace. Petty tyrants, complete incompetents, teaches ignorant & untrained in their field, etc. I can’t testify to the quality of the lesser academic tracks; they might have been just fine for the average or below average kids.

  34. SteveF says:

    Alas, they’re useless if you want to produce real scientists.

    Producing “real” scientists is not objectionable, per se, but it’s expensive and risky and it’s nothing but a huge potential lawsuit. It’s better to go with the safer (and less expensive) options, and it’s not like anybody important will miss out on anything important. It’s not like a Grievance Studies major would be missing an Appreciation of Diversity class or anything.

  35. Greg Norton says:

    Yes, virtual labs have been around for a long time, both from safety/liability concerns and because lab facilities are too costly for many schools.

    When I was in high school in the 80s, we had a new science classroom building, but the money to buy the Chem/Bio lab equipment disappeared into the football team’s training facility.

    For a while, my high school outside Tampa had a nicer football training facility than the local NFL francise. Though, anyone who knows much about Tampa realizes that it wasn’t hard to top the old One Buc Place at the end of the runway at TIA.

  36. dkreck says:

    Had a great chem lab in HS and in jr college. At jc Patricia Lee had one where we not only learned chemistry but also how to cure olives. The campus had a whole lot of olive trees and she would con students into collecting them. In a storage area next to the emergency shower she had several large plastic buckets curing olives. They have to be soaked in lye then washed and rinsed many times before curing in brine, and they were good. She talked us into helping heft those buckets. I guess that was chemistry in a way.

  37. OFD says:

    Had wood shop and metal shop in middle school/junior high, but after that in high skool I was in the “college preparatory” track and didn’t see that sorta thang anymore. I did take typing, however, with the very nice Mrs. Myrick, the only disgusting male among thirty grrls, and to this day I can do 52 WPM w/no errors. Came in handy to get off the street more often during my cop days, doing other guys’ reports. Not only could they not type, they usually had trouble with spelling and grammar, too. Came in handy again in the sys admin roles, esp. with the shells and scripting and writing memos to management that probably got sent to the round file immediately, like my earlier intel reports to the cop brass.

    Back from vets group, all but one of us “Viet relics.” The one, a Sandbox and Suck vet, was a basket case there eight years ago, in crisis 7×24. He is now an EMT and firefighter in the town of Charlotte, VT, just south of Burlap, an upscale community. Three other guys are having serious medical problems or, in the case of the jarhead, his grown sons, 30-32, have to be written off because they have now proven themselves recidivist junkies and jailbirds and he has to tell them they can’t come up here (from Alabama) which breaks his heart. He is an ex-junkie and jailbird himself and has since worked as a VA Peer Support Specialist and is a real good guy. Marine infantry in the most awful shit you can imagine.

    I have been advised by the more experienced vets to get back on the paperwork WRT to increasing my disability rating and getting Mrs. OFD on it with me to the point that she can receive VA medical care. I’m trying to get weight off and get flexibility back, but am now also faced with, if stuck with permanent chronic pain and inability to function on my feet for more than a half-hour, applying for even more assistance. But the revenue-generating paths I’m working on don’t involve very much standing-up time, so we’ll see how it goes this next few months.

    Wife is now on the same page with me WRT finding a decent tax lawyer, so I’m walking point on that and we’ll see what happens.

    Also back from wining and dining the great-grandma on her 89th birthday, and from checking on our youngest grandchild, who is now recovering from tonsil and adenoid surgery out at the childrens’ hospital in beeyooteeful Oakland, CA. Financed and built by his dad’s boss at

    A tip o’ the hat to Mr. Nick; I imagine he’s not having a swell time today/tonight WRT to the funeral events.

  38. lynn says:

    “Booby-trapped Word documents in the wild exploit critical Microsoft 0-day”

    I actually got one of these in an email. It went right into the bit bucket.

  39. OFD says:

    But we all just GOTTA have Microslop Orifice and our Word documents and Excel spreadsheets because we don’t know how to DO anything else and we’re all gonna diiiiiiiieeeee…..

    …no matter the security and privacy implications and consequences.

    And gee whiz, MY Orifice works fine for ME and I have no problems with any of that corny stuff.

    It’s like that meme going around constantly now of the dog sitting and having coffee in a room going up in flames and saying “It’s fine. Everything is just fine.”

  40. MrAtoz says:

    Poor dog. You owe me a trigger warning. That was horrible.

  41. Nick Flandrey says:

    Thanks Dave, I appreciate the thought. Was a tough day. You’re going along, just chatting, and some small word or stray thought flips the switch back to ‘tears’.

    His wife is still talking about him in present tense. His (adult) kids are ragged.

    My 7yo is freaked that someone can die, when they’re not sick or old, without warning. She’s obviously thinking about us… And of course, I’m thinking about us too.

    Long day. Tough week. Not nearly as bad as for some.

    Bed time, another UA flight tomorrow, hopefully no issues.


  42. Robert Bruce Thompson says:


    Our thoughts are with you as well.

  43. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I took typing in 10th grade, taught by Mrs. Brenda Spanish. She was a real cutie, but all of the guys in the class pretended not to notice. Her husband, you see, was Mr. Dan Spanish, a phys-ed teacher and former USMC drill instructor.

  44. SteveF says:

    I never took a typing class. Learned mostly on my own at home, when I was 8. On account of my cursive handwriting was so bad. Took minimal shop classes, just what was “required by law”, on account of they were about useless. No home ec for me, though my year-younger brother got caught in the new “required by law” standard, which was that all students had to take both shop and home ec. This led, naturally, to only half as much of either being taught, but at least in our junior high it was no loss because the home ec teacher was as worthless as the shop teacher.

    As I’ve mentioned before, the science classes’ labs were severely underequipped, with two or three students at each station, triple beam balances which never gave the same answer twice (“That’s just the way they work,” the chem teacher explained), microscopes which wouldn’t stay in focus, and lab “experiments” being tailored to use only inexpensive material. But the football team had the best equipment the school could get, so you can see that the primary purpose of the high school was fulfilled.

  45. Gavin Downie says:

    I taught myself to touch type in ’91 to qualify for a provincial government admin pool. Tested at 42 wpm (error free) / 47 wpm (corrected). Then as far as I know, all the pool jobs went to female applicants. My mum took professional level secretarial / administration after high school in Scotland, where the ‘Gold Standard’ was 120 wpm. Not sure if she had reached that level, but she was at least twice as fast as me.

  46. OFD says:

    Greetings, Mr. Gavin Downie;

    I haven’t seen many folks from Scotland on here.

    Wife and I have just run through Marion Chesney’s Hamish MacBeth series and now she’s working on the Agatha Raisin books; got them all in a pile at the recycling center near here. They’re very light but fast and enjoyable reads, and for “higher-level” stuff we really enjoy Ian Rankin’s works.

    You don’t really have that many murders over there, do you?

  47. Gavin Downie says:

    @Mr. OFD, I’m from there but not there; we emigrated to Canada many many moons ago. Although I haven’t been back since then (over 50 years) I do know that for quite some time Glasgow held the dubious distinction of hosting what was referred to as the most dangerous place in the UK (Gorbals), where my father was born and raised, and the city was likewise noted as the most violent place in Europe (circa 1920s and 1930’s).

  48. Miles_Teg says:

    Glasgow was the European City of Culture in 1990.

    Yes, I was surprised too… 🙂

  49. SteveF says:

    Maybe the culture they were referring to was the Petri dish kind.

  50. OFD says:

    “…Glasgow held the dubious distinction of hosting what was referred to as the most dangerous place in the UK (Gorbals), where my father was born and raised, and the city was likewise noted as the most violent place in Europe (circa 1920s and 1930’s).”

    One of my 18th-C ancestors came from Glasgow, and as far as I know, has supplied whatever Scottish DNA we have.

    The Hamish MacBeth series is set in a fictional coastal village on the northernmost tip, and Ian Rankin’s stuff is set in Edinburgh.

  51. Gavin Downie says:

    I’m hoping in the next couple of years to travel to Scotland and see Gorbals. I understand it’s much gentrified now.

  52. Dave Hardy says:

    Mrs. OFD and I would like to travel to the west of both Scotland and Ireland and avoid cities entirely. Princess has been in both areas and also, of course, speaks some Gaelic and her musical focus is on Celtic folk stuff via her harp, mostly. But she can also play the fiddle, banjo, accordion, and any keyboards.

  53. nick flandrey says:

    Aberdeen was … grey. But I did have one beautiful moment.

    About 530AM, leaving the building and crossing the car park, in the pre-dawn sorta light, the air was full of mist and the smell of smoke, with a creek in the distance, and the field full of daffodils in bloom…

    You take your joy where you find it.


    added – tried to find the street view of where I was, but either they’ve built some more stuff where there was an open view, or I just can’t get streetview to stand in the right place. Wish I’d taken a picture.

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