WWII: Desert Air War

World War II fascinates many folks as it probably was the last war where there was some justification for so many lives lost, so many civilians killed, and so much destruction in a cause that united a world against total aggression.
Unique among WWII books is the “Desert Air War” by Richard Townshend Bickers. Most war books are a droll recounting of battles in the air, sea and land without any sort of relevance of background. Bickers gives us, at least from a British point of view, a brief history of the Middle East from ancient times to the WWII era. This is important for many reasons as history is not a blank slate, but rather a series of events that affects the future in ways that shape how we understand and digest key moments.
Some background should always be the focus of any author, however brief and tidy. Today it is hard to understand and get perspective on what our ancestors lived through. The one thing we must note is how easy it is to advance warfare technology but even harder to actually bring about social justice.
One anecdote that Bickers cites concerns the background of the air commodore chosen to head British operations in Egypt.
Raymond “Collishaw, a burly and rumbustious extrovert, was not without his idiosyncrasies. As a young squadron commander in Flanders during the First World War he had delighted in a ruinous game played when dining in another squadron’s mess: swinging on the cross beams of the wooden hut and collapsing the roof. In 1917 he had survived a mishap that would have been fatal ninety-nine times out of a hundred. In combat at 16,000ft with three German Albatros fighters, he had made a manoeuvre so violent that his safety strap broke and he fell out of the cockpit of his Sopwith Triplane. He grabbed the two centre struts and hung, with his legs trailing in the slipstream, as the “Tripe” dived with full power until it suddenly nosed up, stalled and began to spin. Managing to get one leg into the cockpit, he hooked the stick back with his foot and, as the aircraft began a sudden climb, he fell back into his seat.”

art

As many of you have noticed I’m a big fan of Eno. The appeal to me as having once been an artist, somewhat of a musician and numerous other pursuits in my life is that he represented along with Bowie and even Iggy Pop an artistic vision of entertainment and therefore self discovery that is multi-dimensional instead of a one trick pony. This is an important direction for mankind that bleeds over into other areas such as environment, economics and yes, even politics. I think it is important to strip away pre-conceived notions of what a profession and hence what an individual contributes to society. The joke about capitalism is that there is no room for thinkers, for dreamers unless you are making money for your masters. My vision of life is that we are here to enjoy ourselves, our family, our friends, and even others we don’t personally know, not cogs in some machine that grinds up bodies and spits out hamburger. That vision of life colors what I see, what I hear and what I say. In short, achievement is not a profit/debit world but one where the experience of life itself is to be celebrated not looked upon as drudgery…

SamWoo

I ate there in the 70s- Sam Woo was a real piece of work- food was alright, but I got a chuckle out of the businessman who ordered lot’s of dishes and Sam would let him eat one bite and then he’d take it away and then bring him another, insulting him all the time- it was a scream.

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“And the rowdy relatives were not nearly as troubling as another problem in the parlor, which was becoming a favorite pastime of adventurous Italian youths. Boisterous young men— drunk, bored, or on a dare— pretended to be nuns’ brothers, snuck in, and exposed themselves, waving their members and grinning at the shocked virgins behind the grille. The Neapolitans were the worst, some of them making the grand tour of Italy with the express purpose of flashing all the nuns.”

Eleanor Herman, “Mistress of the Vatican: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope”

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EVER SINCE I WAS A CHILD, I’VE ALWAYS HAD A FEAR OF SOMEONE UNDER MY BED AT NIGHT. SO, I WENT TO A SHRINK AND TOLD HIM:
I’ve got problems. Every time I go to bed I think there’s somebody under it. I’m scared. I think I’m going crazy.
“Just put yourself in my hands for one year,” said the shrink. “Come talk to me three times a week, and we should be able to get rid of those fears.”
How much do you charge?
“Eighty dollars per visit,” replied the doctor.
I’ll sleep on it, I said.
Six months later, the doctor met me on the street. “Why didn’t you come to see me about those fears you were having?” He asked.
Well, eighty bucks a visit, three times a week, for a year, is $12,480.00.
A bartender cured me for $10.00.
I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought me a new pickup truck.
“Is that so?” With a bit of an attitude, he said, “and how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?”
He told me to cut the legs off the bed. Ain’t nobody under there now.

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