Thursday, December 7, 2017

76 Years Ago

Greetings, Programs:

Yes, once again it is "Pearl Harbor Day" - 76 years ago at about six hours ago the Imperial Japanese Fleet composed of six aircraft carriers came in from a bit over 250 miles northeast of Pearl Harbor, launched several hundred specialized torpedo planes modified for the shallow, 40-foot waters of the harbor, hundreds of dive bombers, fighter planes and standard bombers and, basically, carried out a well-planed and well-thought-out attack on what should have been a heavily defended island. (Yes, that was a rather long, run-on sentence to tell about a rather long, run-on attack.)  Americans called it a "Sneak Attack."  Maybe...  But it was, militarily, a well-planned surprise-attack that the stupid Washington Japanese diplomats failed to declare war on the USA prior to the attack.

Most of us might have seen the movie, "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and think that the words mean "Tiger! Tiger! Tiger" as Hollywood said that it meant.  However, probably Mitsuo Fuchida, the leader of the first wave of Japanese fighters, sent these words back to his superiors on the aircraft carrier Akagi. The word tora (虎) does, indeed, mean "tiger" in Japanese, but in this case it is thought to mean an abbreviated radio code word, an acronym for TOtsugeki RAigeki (突撃雷撃), literally meaning "lightning attack," indicating to his superiors that the objective of complete surprise had been achieved.  Which, of course, would have meant nothing to any interception by any listening American code breakers.  Shades of Blitzkrieg! 

Fortunately all of the USA aircraft carriers were out to sea looking for the Japanese fleet but the Japanese fleet was much farther north than the USA carriers were looking for them.  Also, some have pointed out that had the six Japanese carriers caught the American fleet out at sea the losses to America would have been far greater than the 2,700+ or so men lost in Pearl Harbor; the battle ships would all have sunk to the bottom of the ocean rather than being raised and repaired and the wounded would have died at the bottom of the ocean as well.  If we had to survive an attack, it was better at Pearl than out in the Pacific.

Anyway, just something to remember on December 7th each year.  

jco

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Climb Mount Niitaka

Greetings:

Many of you who are WW II buffs know the code that was sent back after the successful attack on Pearl Harbour; "Tora! Tora! Tora!"  There was even a "fairly accurate" movie of the same name.  However, during that movie, you might have seen, or heard, the phrase, "Niitakayama Nobore" or, in English, "Climb Mount Niitaka".  This was the code words sent to Japanese Admiral Nagumo to open his Top Secret documents that would direct him to attack Pearl Harbor (American spelling this time).  This was OOA December 2nd (today) or about 76 years ago today.

At that point in time the Japanese fleet was cruising in the northern Pacific under a heavy squall of storms making it impossible for the American flattops to find them.  (The American aircraft carriers from Pearl Harbor were all out at sea looking for the Japanese fleet at that time which explains why they were not in dock at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked five days later.)

Anyway, many Americans have called it a "Sneak Attack."  No such thing.  It was just a total failure on the part of clumsy diplomats to formally declare war prior to the attack.  Like President Trump has said many tims, you never tell the enemy when and where you are going to attack nor when and where you are going to withdraw.  That is just plain stupid.  Why would the Japanese tell us that they were going to attack on December 7th and then attack on December 7th?  OK, the Geneva convention did say that you should at least declare war first before attacking another country but, looking back, did Germany declare war before attacking Poland?  Sure.  15 minutes before.  Or was it 30 minutes before?  Big deal.

Anyway, look forward to the December 7th posting. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" might have meant "Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!" but did it really?  More on that later...

jco

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Graham Glass

Greetings, Programs:

[dateline 171109:1500CST]
Just thinking about Graham today.  Don't know why...  I was just sitting in my LaZyBoy this morning drinking my morning coffee, having my usual morning Einstein Blueberry Bagel that my Spousal Unit picks up for me every Tuesday on her way to the Irving Art Association and he crossed my mind.  I remembered that either he drove me home or I drove him home after a JavaMUG meeting at the Sun offices one Wednesday evening.  [I "think" that the meting might have been about Voyager that evening - maybe not - I don't really remember.  Maybe GreG can correct me one this one.] All that I can remember of that evening was that we had a remarkable chat on the way home about rulebased systems and how they might fit into what he was thinking about doing with a future project.  (I don't think he ever got around to doing anything with rulebased systems nor AI nor the future project for that matter.)

All of that is neither here nor there but I did go look up where he is now and what happened to him after that evening.  At that time he was still with Object Space.  It seems, after reading his bio, that what he should have done back then was sell out his shares of Object Space after his dispute with the board (if he could have done so) and gone his on wonderful way.  He has a remarkable mind and could have done anything with the proper capitalization and good business team behind him, much like many other high-IQ techies that I have been fortunate to meet in my long and varied career to date.

Bottom line: Whatever you are doing, if you are not enjoying it then you are either doing it wrong or you are doing the wrong thing.  [What an old cliche'!] Find something that you truly enjoy doing and do it to the the very best of your ability, even it that something is just fly fishing, brewing beer, making wine, crafts, painting, wood working, programming (whether rulebase stuff or security or special applications or GUI stuff - whatever) or biking or whatever.  Find the best parts, even the "commercial" parts, and build a business out of it that exploits the absolute best - the real craftsman part.  If it is teaching then find out what part of teaching really reaches others.  If it is the political spectrum, then be the best, non-corrupt politician in the country, NOT what exists in today's culture!

I cannot teach children nor can I teach high school students - and rarely college students.  But I can teach those who want to learn rulebase systems (RBS) so that is something that I love.  Unfortunately, a lot of folks say that they want to learn RBS but it is only so that they can charge the Fortune 500 companies lots of money for that knowledge.  Those folks I cannot teach. They want the QuAD (Quick And Dirty) way to learn and I have not found that way yet.

Most BRMS companies try to teach a one-week school followed by another one-week school a year later but I have found that those who have followed that path in those schools have learned a monkey-see, monkey-do kind of programming for RBS, not anything of any kind of depth.  When I am working on-site and I ask them to actually read a book outside of class or outside of the working environment, they look at me as though I have lost my mind. Or they take the book home and never read it and I get it back when the gig is up, untouched and unread.

Like I said back on the first of the month - these days I am writing on almost anything.  Graham memories got me started on this so I can blame him for it.  :)  So, from GG to RBS to QuAD teaching methods.  Have a Happy Whatever you are having this week. 

Shalom!
jco

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rete Goes GNU

Greetings Programs:

Yepper, you heard (OK, read) that correctly: The Forgenator himself, Dr. Charles L. Forgy is, as of today, releasing the Rete-NT Algorithm as GNU source code to the world.  It is totally free  BUT you cannot make changes to the code and then try to keep your changes proprietary(See the link to the licenses below.)


An article (soon to appear in the on-line version of InfoWorld per my over-worked and under-paid editor) should confirm that Dr. Charles L. Forgy, the original inventor of Rete (pronounced Ree'-tee in our industry regardless of how much Latin you had in high school or college) has released his invention into the wild.  Not just the original Rete but Rete-NT, the latest and greatest!  Yes, you read that right!  Rete-NT is now available for download from PST on the GNU license.  (Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_free_and_open-source_software_licenses for a comparison of all of these license.) 

This is basically a R(E)evolution in the BRMS / Rulebase World.  Are you old enough to remember where you were when John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963?  Or where you were when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon in 1969?  Or Gene Cernan last walked on the moon in December of 1972?  (Most folk don’t remember Gene Cernan!)  Actually, there are a few of us still around who remember the news that Pearl Harbor had just been bombed in 1941 or that we had dropped the first (and last) war-time atomic bomb in 1944.

OK - back to the technical side; have you been around long enough to remember the advent of the Rete Algorithm way back in the 1960’s?  Or the coining of the term “AI” at Dartmouth College in 1954?  What about the introduction of Java back in 1996 or 1997?  (It was kind of vague back then.)  No?  Well, try to remember where you were today when you heard that the Rete-NT Algorithm was released as GNU code to the world by Dr. Charles L. Forgy via KBSC.

Why?  Well, I asked him the same question on a Tuesday afternoon at lunch in Dallas at a local Bar-B-Que.  His answer: “It’s about time.”  For now, the Rete-NT algorithm will be released via the GNU license, meaning that you can use it at almost any academic or non-commercial venture AS WELL as for any commercial purposes.  Sounds fair to me. You can also use it commercially but this should be negotiated with PST, Dr. Forgy's company based in Pittsburgh, PA. For downloading and the OPSJ 8 manual and/or code, please contact/email Dr. Forgy at cforgy@pst.com for more information with your name, company/university name and phone number.

Now, for those who cannot remember the history of AI and want everything compressed, I shall try and compress the history into as brief a passage as possible that includes all of the contributions of Dr. Forgy et al made along the way.  Back in August 31, 1955, there was a short (2 month, 10-man) study of AI at Dartmouth College by such notables as John McCarthy (Dartmouth College), Marvin L. Minsky (Harvard University), Nathaniel Rochester (I.B.M. Corporation) and C. E. Shannon (Bell Telephone Labs) to study how computers could be programmed to use languages to manipulate words as human thought processes, neuron networks, abstraction, randomness and creativity and other “original” ideas.  They “coined” the term “Artificial Intelligence” – or “AI”.  Drs. Newell and Simon also introduced their Logic Theorist Program which later became the GPS, General Problem Solver – which were really advanced programs for that period.

Then, in 1958, a stunned USA realized that the USSR was ahead of them in the “space race” and established ARPA, or Advanced Research Projects Agency which became D(Defense) ARPA.  And, yes, ARPA/DARPA was the origin of the internet, NOT VP Al Gore, when they contracted with BBN Technologies to build the first routers in 1969.  DARPA also was highly involved with Stanford, MIT, Boston University and CMU in Rulebased Systems where a young Charles L. Forgy was working on his Ph. D. with Dr. Alan Newell, one of the founders of AI.  During that process, Charles (later, Dr. Charles Forgy) was tasked with optimizing the process of running the rules because it was taking DAYS to run simple rulebase tasks, even using the Symbolics LISP machines. He came up with a method of swapping memory space for optimizing processing time using a network (ergo, "rete" meaning "network") of objects.  You can read about it in his dissertation or many other simpler but not as detailed explanations on the web. (eg, Robert Doorenbos Thesis)

More later as Dr. Forgy makes it available.  Stayed tuned for more earth-shattering news from KBSC as it becomes available.  :)

jco
(c) KBSC 2017



Monday, October 16, 2017

Texas Rules

OK - This might not be your cup of tea (or coffee) or whatever.  But down in the Republic of Texas (yes, we were a Republic from 1835 to 1845 before we joined the USA) we live a different sort of life.  Most folks who have lived all of their lives in Europe, NY and CA do not understand it, but we have a lot of open land.  Unfortunately, not everyone you meet is a friend out there. 

Most of us older folks learned to quit fighting with our hands (too many broken/bruised knuckles) and now have legal, concealed-carry permits.  You do not need a CHP for a fire arm in your home.  So, here goes nothing.  This is usually called, "Texas Gunfight Rules".  Please don't send me any emails nor comments calling me a "gun nut" nor a "right wing nut" nor anything like that. Just some common-sense rules for living in the plains of west of the Mississippi River:


The “unwritten rule” of Gunfight Rules is, of course, always have a gun.  What is locked up and away from you is of no use.  What is unloaded and cannot be loaded in 1 or 2 seconds is of no use in a panic situation.

A: Guns have only three enemies: rust, liberal politicians, and unthinking spouses.



B: It is always better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

 (This from "Blue Bloods.")

C: Cops carry guns to protect themselves, not you.



D: Never let someone or something that threatens you get inside arm's length

.  (Actually, if the threat is deadly, keep them at least 20 feet away - studies have shown that a highly-trained attacker can move in for a kill with only a knife before a trained police person can draw and shoot.)

E: Never say, "I've got a gun!", without being prepared to use it.   If you need to use deadly force, the next sound that they hear should be the safety on your gun clicking off.  My Dear Old Dad always taught me, “If you pull the gun you had better be pulling the trigger.  Otherwise do not pull the gun.  Never pull a gun just to threaten someone.  It doesn’t work.”

F: The average response time of a 911 call is 24 minutes; the BEST response times are about 10 minutes.  Response time where I live is about two hours depending on the time-of-night.  The response time of a .357 is 1400 feet per second or 1150 fps for a 9mm.

G: The most important rule in a gunfight is: If you absolutely can't avoid it, Always Win!



H: Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets. . .  You may get killed with your own gun, but he'll have to beat you to death with it because it'll be empty
.

I: If and when you are in a gun fight:  If you are not shooting, you should be loading.  If you are not loading, you should be moving, If you are not moving, you're probably dead.



J: In a life and death situation, do something. . .  Liberals may argue, but do something!



K: If you carry a gun, some people might call you paranoid.  Nonsense!  If you have a gun, what do you have to be paranoid about?



L: You can say 'stop' or 'alto' or any other word, but a large bore muzzle pointed at someone's head is pretty much a universal language.



M: You cannot save the planet, but you must do everything you can do to responsibly save yourself and your family.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Spider Solitaire Strategy

Greetings:
[updated 15 Oct 2017]
[updated 16 Oct 2017]

A friend of mine complained a while back that I never publish anything technical any more.  OK - this is kind of technical.  Kind of.  Sort of.

After playing Spider Solitaire from Branium for many years now, I have finally come up with a (somewhat) fairly successful strategy for a two-suit game.  (Single-suit game is for children and I have NEVER beaten the four-suit game. Just never took the time and brain power to attack it.)  The following rules are not absolute but if followed them they might give you a somewhat better than average increased advantage.  Just for fun, look at your statistics now, reset them and then check them again about 500 or 1K games later.  (Yeah, well, I play it a lot when waiting for a taxi or bus or for meetings to start.)

Before I started this strategy, my percentage of winning was around 4.2% but then it climbed to 19.4% after about 450 games.  I have now gotten up to 17.3% after 1100 games.  (Well, I did have a couple of 100+ losing-game runs.)  This has been over about six months of playing so it takes a while to get any meaningful results.  Anyway, this is just a set of general rules and not meant to be a hard-and-fast guide to winning.  You still have to plot your way around the board and use some brain power.
  1. The first objective is to turn over the hidden cards.  Give that a priority of 100.
  2. The next priority is to get long runs of the same suit - give that a priority of 90.
  3. The next priority is to make King->Ace runs a quickly as possible.  Try to make at least two runs before you have the last two stacks left to play.  If you have not done that, probably you will not win the game.  Probably.  I have won a couple of times but not normally. Priority of 80.
  4. Given a choice, always play a card from the smallest stack.  That means that you should start from one of the six cards on the right before playing one of the four cards on the left when first starting the game.  After that, if you have choice of two or three cards to play, pick the one on the smallest stack of cards.  Priority of 70.
  5. NEVER EVER make a cross-play (defined elsewhere) on a same-suit run of four cards or more UNLESS you can immediately uncover that mistake and correct it by playing that card elsewhere.  OK - I have done it sometimes just to get a card uncovered near the end of the game when all else seemed lost but it never has worked out well for me.
  6. If the cards to pick to play are all the same, pick the play with the largest card.  i.e., pick a Queen over a Jack or an 8 over a 5.  Why?  Just because...
  7. If at all possible, try to get an empty slot so that you have a choice of which card or stack of cards to put there so that you can have an option of playing a better suit of cards.
  8. If you have a choice of playing a card on a different suit (a cross-play, 5-of-heards on the 6-of-spades) or a same-suit play (5-of-hearts on the 6-of-hearts), ALWAYS play the same-suit play unless you can make the same-suit play in the next play or so.
  9. Set the  options so that the game can pick the play for you.  Meaning that you can just click on the card and the game will make the move for you.  You can always pick "go back" to reverse the move it the game makes the wrong move but (usually) it makes a better move than you would have made.
Strategies
  1. Try to keep long runs of the same suit if possible 
  2. As the game progresses, during a play, keep one leg open as long as possible for "transportation."  This will become increasingly important in the later stages of the game.  You will have put "something" in there before proceeding to the next stage so try to put something that has little importance to your overall goals.
Anyway, these are just some general guide-lines that seem to work for me.  No real logic to them.  They just seem to work.  I may add some later as I think of them.  Check back from time-to-time and add some comments if you like.  I usually publish comments with credits to the person(s).  TTFN

jco

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Anti-Company Policies

Or, How To Sabotage Company Meetings And Routines

Greetings:

Now, this is a topic with which we should all be concerned.  It seems that way back in WW II, the forerunner of the CIA published a document for the underground in Nazi-occupied territories on how to upset Nazi war efforts.  Believe it or not, many of these activities are still being carried on today in many companies in the free world by unknowing and well-meaning employees who do not know that they are unknowingly harming rather than helping the company.  Listed below are some of the "suggestion" from that WW II document:

Managers and Supervisors:
  1. Demand written orders for everything
  2. "Misunderstand" orders.  Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence of such orders.  Quibble over them when you can.
  3. Do everything possible to delay the delivery of orders.  Even though parts of an order may be ready beforehand, don't deliver until it is completely ready.
  4. Don't order new working materials until your present stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that the slightest delay in filling your order will cause a shutdown.
  5. Order high-quality materials that are hard to get.  If you don't get them, argue about it.  Warn that inferior materials will mean inferior products.
  6. In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first.  Always see that the important jobs are assigned to the inefficient workers of poor machines.
  7. Insist on perfect work on relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those that have the slightest flaw.  Approve others that whose flaws that are not visible to the naked eye.
  8. Make mistakes in routing so that parts and materials are sent to the wrong places in the plant.
  9. When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.
  10. To lower morale, and with it production, be pleased with inefficient worker; give them undeserved promotions.  Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly against their work.
  11. Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
  12. Multiply paper work in plausible ways.  Start duplicate files.
  13.  Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, andso on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.
  14. Apply all regulations to the last letter.
General Interference With Organizations and Conferences
  1.   Insist on doing everything through "channels".  Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.' 
  2. Make "speeches."  Talk as frequently as possible and at great length.  Illustrate your points by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences.  Never hesitate to make a few appropriate "patriotic" comments.
  3.  When possible refer all matters to committees for "further study and consideration."  Attempt to make the committees as large as possible - never less than five.
  4.  Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  5. Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes and resolutions.
  6. Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meetings and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  7.  Advocate "caution".  Be unreasonable and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoide haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on
  8. Be worried about the propriety of any decision.  Raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated is within the jurisdiction of the group and whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.
In light of full disclosure, the original idea for this was taken from the blog of a friend of mine BUT he made the mistake of disclosing the location of the original document which, unfortunately, also gave many, many idea for sabotaging railway lines, bus lines, undergrounds, power plants, natural gas plants, bomb plants, ammunition plants, etc.  I think that ISIS has enough ideas of their own and that they don't need any more from us.  Anyway, this is supposed to be humorous and not REAL ideas for sabotage. 

Bottom line:  Do you know anyone like this?  (We used to call such folks "anal-retentive".)  Have you seen this kind of behavior in any of your meeting or office procedures?  If so, try to pass this around and discourage it.  Immediately.  It might just possibly make for better office and/or meeting behaviour.  Bon Chance!

jco

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Real Programmers

Greetings:

For those who regularly visit my almost hidden-from-view postings, I thought that we might revisit Bernstein's now-famous (infamous) take-off from "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche" book.  


REAL PROGRAMMERS DON'T EAT QUICHE

Real programmers don't eat quiche. They like Twinkies, Coke, and palate-scorching Szechwan food.

Real programmers don't write application programs. They program right down to the base-metal. Application programming is for dullards who can't do systems programming.

Real programmers don't write specs. Users should be grateful for whatever they get; they are lucky to get programs at all.

Real programmers don't comment their code. If it was hard to write, it should be even harder to understand and modify.

Real programmers don't document. Documentation is for simpletons who can't read listing or the object code from the dump.

Real programmers don't draw flowcharts. Flowcharts are, after all, the illiterate's form of documentation. Cavemen drew flowcharts; look how much good it did them.

Real programmers don't read manuals. Reliance on a reference is the hallmark of the novice and the coward.

Real programmers don't write in RPG. RPG is for the gum-chewing dimwits who maintain ancient payroll programs.

Real programmers don't write in COBOL. COBOL is for COmmon Business Oriented Laymen who can run neither a business nor a real program.

Real programmers don't write in FORTRAN. FORTRAN is for wimp engineers who wear white socks. They get excited over the finite state analysis and nuclear reactor simulation.

Real programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for insecure anal retentives who can't choose between COBOL and FORTRAN.

Real programmers don't write in BASIC. Actually, no programmers program in BASIC after reaching puberty.

Real programmers don't write in APL unless the whole program can be written on one line.

Real programmers don't write in LISP. Only sissy programs contain more parentheses than actual code.

Real programmers don't write in PASCAL, ADA, BLISS, or any of those other sissy computer science languages. Strong typing is a crutch for people with weak memories.

Real programmers' programs never work right the first time. But if you throw them on the machine they can be patched into working order in a few 30 hour debugging sessions.

Real programmers don't work 9 to 5. If any real programmers are around at 9 A.M., it is because they were up all night. 

Real programmers don't play tennis or any other sport which requires a change of clothes. Mountain climbing is OK, and real programmers wear climbing boots to work in case a mountain should spring up in the middle of the machine room.

Real programmers disdain structured programming. Structured programming is for compulsive neurotics who were prematurely toilet trained. They wear neckties and carefully line up sharp pencils on an otherwise clear desk.

Real programmers don't like the team programming concept. Unless, of course, they are the chief programmer.

Real programmers never write memos on paper. They send memos via mail.

Real programmers have no use for managers. Managers are a necessary evil. They exist only to deal with personnel bozos, bean counters, senior planners and other mental midgets.

Real programmers scorn floating point arithmetic. The decimal point was invented for pansy bedwetters who are unable to think big.

Real programmers don't believe in schedules. Planners make schedules. Managers firm up schedules. Frightened coders strive to meet schedules. Real programmers ignore schedules.



Real programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the vending machine sells it, they eat it. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche. 

I added the emphasis but thanks to http://www.bernstein-plus-sons.com/RPDEQ.html for the "real deal" quote.  Loved it.

Ya'akov

Monday, June 5, 2017

73 Years Ago Today - D-Day -1 !!

Greetings:

[Note:  I write this same article every year with only slight revisions and changes.  But it is always important.)  73 years ago today, at around 0000Z tonight  (UK Time, or GMT) or about 1800 EDT - not adjusting for Summer Time - here in Texas, the greatest armada that the world has ever seen is just steaming out of all of the ports in England, both on the eastern and western side, northern and southern sides.  The ones on the western side started early, probably about an hour ago.  The ones on the eastern side are just casting off their ropes.  The invasion fleet was drawn from eight different navies composed of 6,939 vessels (far greater than the Spanish Armada) that included:
  • 1,213 warships
  • 4,126 transport vessels (landing ships and landing craft), and 
  • 736 ancillary craft and 
  • 864 merchant vessels.[17]

On board the ships are about 130,000 men with rifles, pistols, sub-machine guns, machine guns, tanks, jeeps, bazookas, Bangalore Torpedoes, ammo and nobody has a bullet-proof vest.  Most have on a Mae West, a life jacket of sorts that will not, contrary to what they have been told, keep them afloat with all of the stuff that they are carrying.  But, they trust in the CO and faithfully put on their Mae West hoping that they don't have to use it.  If anyone has to jump into water over their heads, they will sink straight to the bottom and stay there.  By the end of 11 June 1944, (D + 5), 326,547 troops, the Allies had brought over 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies.  By 30 June 1944, (D+24) over 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies had been ferried over from England.  By July 4th (the anniversary of American Independence) well over one million men had been landed at Normandy. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the English Channel, most of the German officers and generals are taking a bit of time off.  Genral Irwin Rommel, the man in charge of the Normandy defense, has gone home to see his wife and Der Fuehrer Adolph Hitler.  You see, most of the German weather boats have been sunk or captured but, for some reason, they are absolutely sure that in this foul weather that nobody can mount an invasion.

But the Allies have better reporting.  They have a forecast that there will be a small break in the weather on the 6th of June.  So, betting on a spotty-at-best forecast, General Dwight David Eisenhower orders the invasion.  Having all of the troops already on the ships and planes, having followup troops already staging and on the way, it would have been impossible to call it off.  Looking back, early May would have been the absolute best time to have invaded.  The Allies were just fortunate that they got a small, one-day break in the weather.  And, above all, it was the best kept secret of WW II.  Nobody in England had a clue WHEN the invasion would happen, but it will happen in a few hours.

I think about this every year.  You see, my Dad (MSgt Carl P. Owen of the First Special Service Forces - precursors to the Green Berets) and my Uncle Bill (TSgt William L. Leach) were both in WW II.  At this point in time, Dad was battling his way up through Italy having started at the Anzio beachhead.  My Uncle Bill was in the 82nd Airborne and he had already geared up and was in the plane by this time.  Nervous as Hell and, like all of the other men (despite what Holly would have you believe) NONE of them would admit to being scared.  That kind of namby-pamby BS happens only in the "modern" army or in Hollywood.  Back then, you did not show fear.  Fear is contagious and NOBODY showed that he was scared as hell.  And all of them, except for the "crazies", were scared.  Personally, I think that Uncle Bill was one of the "crazies."  I know that Dad was.  :-)

In about six hours, midnight my time, the Allies will open up with 15" and 16" battle ship guns.  The shell was almost as big as a Volkswagen bug.   When it went over the boats going ashore, the men in the boats said that the small landing craft would literally lift up out of the water because of the tremendous vacuum created by a shell that big going going that fast just overhead.  (OK, maybe so, maybe not - but it really was a huge shell!)  But the German bunkers were built really, really stout.  Very few were destroyed by the shelling.  However, when that 14", 15" or 16" shell hit those bunkers it deafened those inside.  No sound deafening had been provided.

The American forces landed at Omaha and Utah beaches - the most heavily defended coast line.  The foul weather had prevented the Allies from pounding those defenses as much as was needed and most were still intact.  And the Allies paid dearly for it.  Rommel had done an excellent job of ensuring that not a single foot of the beach could not be raked with 9mm and 10mm machine gun fire as well as 20mm and 40mm rapid-fire cannons.  The British and Canadians landed at Sword, Gold and Juno beaches.  These were not quite as heavily defended.  Most of the gun emplacements did not even have the guns mounted yet.  However, they paid later when they ran into the interior German armies.

Intermixed with these assaults (usually with the English landing parties) are the Canadians, Australians, Free French, Belgian, Czechoslovakians, Netherlands, Danish, Greek, New Zelanders, Norwegian and Polish.  No mention of the Swedes, Spanish, Turkish, Mexican nor any other South American nation has ever been made.  Probably there were some, but not enough to have been mentioned.

To quote from Wikipedia:

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The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating.[183] Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day,[29] with 875,000 men disembarking by the end of June.[184] Allied casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.[185] The Germans lost 1,000 men.[186] The Allied invasion plans had called for the capture of Carentan, St. Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than Utah) linked with a front line 10 to 16 kilometres (6 to 10 mi) from the beaches; none of these objectives were achieved.[32] The five bridgeheads were not connected until 12 June, by which time the Allies held a front around 97 kilometres (60 mi) long and 24 kilometres (15 mi) deep.[187] Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until 21 July.[188] The Germans had ordered French civilians, other than those deemed essential to the war effort, to leave potential combat zones in Normandy.[189] Civilian casualties on D-Day and D+1 are estimated at 3,000 people.[190]

Victory in Normandy stemmed from several factors. German preparations along the Atlantic Wall were only partially finished; shortly before D-Day Rommel reported that construction was only 18 per cent complete in some areas as resources were diverted elsewhere.[191] The deceptions undertaken in Operation Fortitude were successful, leaving the Germans obligated to defend a huge stretch of coastline.[192] The Allies achieved and maintained air superiority, which meant that the Germans were unable to make observations of the preparations underway in Britain and were unable to interfere with bomber attacks.[193] Transportation infrastructure in France was severely disrupted by Allied bombers and the French Resistance, making it difficult for the Germans to bring up reinforcements and supplies.[194] Some of the opening bombardment was off-target or not concentrated enough to have any impact,[149] but the specialised armour worked well except on Omaha, providing close artillery support for the troops as they disembarked onto the beaches.[195] Indecisiveness and an overly complicated command structure on the part of the German high command was also a factor in the Allied success.[196]
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There are several really good links that tell about this day.  Some are
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normandy_landings
http://www.history.army.mil/html/reference/Normandy/asltforce.html
http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/d-day

Two GREAT movies about D-Day are
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Longest_Day_%28film%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saving_Private_Ryan

And then there is D-Day, the movie
http://en.dday-normandy1944.com/D-Day-1944-the-film/home-2.html


Check out some of the other references at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normandy_landings#Further_reading

But, remember of these men who went ashore close to 10,000 men died on that day and close to 1 million Allied military men died by the end of the June - died so that we could live in peace.  If you see a soldier, marine, coast guard sailor, navy sailor or airman, THANK THEM for being there then and here today.  Buy their breakfast, lunch or supper if you see them in a restaurant. 

See you in December:

Shalom
Ya'akov

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day - 2017

Greetings:

I don't think that I have written anything about memorial day in a long time, if ever.  Mostly because everyone in my family came home safely (un-injured) from both WW II (my dad and my Uncle) and Viet Nam (myself and my brother).  My dad was a MSgt/1stSgt in the First Special Service Forces and my uncle made all five jumps with the 82 Airborne in WW II and also fought at the Battle of the Bulge, aka, the Battling Bastards of Bastogne. 

My brother went another route; he served undercover in Thailand; being only 5'8" and with my mom's dark complexion, black eyes and black hair he fit right in with the locals and was able to observe the movements of the North Vietnamese and report back daily via diddy-bop.  He had four marines back behind him for protection but, as he said later, they were usually bored and stoned and not really much help if the VC had ever found him. He was pretty much alone out there.  Me?  Well, I was the one left behind doing Heavy Ground Radar Maintenance - meaning that the closest thing that I came to combat was the rifle range.  I did have a .44 magnum Ruger pistol that I carried off-duty just to be cool but it didn't impress anyone.  (AN/GPS-20 and AN/GPS-90 if anyone is interested...)

Anyway, today and tomorrow should be about all of those who did NOT come home.  The thousands and thousands who gave their all so that we could be safe back here in (fairly isolated) USA.  Oh, we'll shoot off fireworks to simulate what war is all about, but anyone who has ever been subjected to artillery bombardment will tell you, it just is not the same when those shells start landing all around you.  They're really pretty up in the air, but when they start landing on the ground around you, it is the closest thing to living in hell that you will ever come.  There is no place to hide and the next shell could land right on top of you.  My dad and uncle had that kind of experience.  My brother just had to live with trying not to have the VC find him while he was living in the jungle.

If you ever get a chance to see the History Channel series on the Devil's Brigade, it is fairly accurate from what my dad told me late in life.  My dad said that the Hollywood version of "The Devil's Brigade" with William Holden was OK but it was still Hollywood and could not show the real blood and gut action of real war.  Besides, Col. Fredrick never came in at night and soaked his feet.  The realism did not come until "Saving Private Ryan" and "We Were Soldiers" later.  He died just before those came out but he might have approved of them. 

Anyway, enjoy the fireworks tonight and tomorrow.  Just remember why you are free to watch them.

jco

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Military Gas and Hitler

Greetings:


Sean Spicer was "kinda sorta" right about Adolph Hitler the other day.  "Der Fuhrer" did not use "military" gas on his own people, just gas chambers on Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, mentally retarded, slavic and other folks that he felt were not part of the "master race."  But, most especially, the Jews.

You see, Hitler himself had fought in WW I and had, himself, be a victim of a gas attack and had spent almost a year recovering in the hospital.  He hated the concept of using gas as military weapon and knew that if he used it then the Allies would use it.

In WW I the Germans had perfected the use of gas in two forms:  chlorine gas that burned the skin and burned out the eyes.  It will make you cry to see of the film from WW I where the victims are being led to chow or to the latrine single file, eyes bandaged, with their hand on the shoulder of the man in front of them.

The other was far more lethal:  Mustard gas.  It not only burned the skin and eyes, it burned out the lungs and would lay on the ground for about a foot (unless a strong wind came along to blow it away which wasn't likely in most forests) clinging to the grass and bushes.  If a soldier came walking along he would stir it up again and the next soldier behind him got another good dose of it.  Terrible stuff.

Anyway, Hitler did not use it for military use; only on civilians that he did not think would fit into the Third Reich.  So, give Spicer a break.  He was almost correct.  He just left out the word "military."

BTW, you do know who manufactured the gas [Zyklon B (hydrogen cyanide)] that they used in the gas chambers don't you?  Yepper; good old Bayer AG.  Same folks who make our asprin today.  They also invented such things as phenobarbital and heroin.   Wikipedia has a good article on them at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayer#World_War_II. 

I guess that I think that sometimes we are a bit too quick to forget what happened in WW I and WW II.   The USA did some really, really bad things back home in WW I.  Maybe I will write about those one day just wake everyone up.  :-)  Or you can go watch Part III of "The American Experience - The Great War" on PBS.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/

Ya'akov