Quotulatiousness

January 16, 2017

100 years ago today

Filed under: Americas, Britain, Europe, History, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:26

From the Facebook page of The Great War:

On this day 100 years ago, a coded telegram was sent by German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann to German Ambassador to Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt. In this telegram, Zimmermann instructed von Eckardt to offer Mexico a military alliance and financial support against the United States should they not remain neutral. This was a possibility since Germany was about to unleash unrestricted submarine warfare by February 1, 1917.

To understand this telegram, it is important to understand that talks about military cooperation and even a military alliance between Mexico and the German Empire had been going on since 1915 already.

The telegram was sent via the American undersea cable since the German cable was interrupted by the British when the war broke out. US President Woodrow Wilson had offered the Germans to use their cable for diplomatic correspondence. What neither Wilson nor the Germans knew: The cable was monitored by the British intelligence at a relay station in England. Furthermore, the British codebreakers of Room 40 had already cracked the German encryption.

The biggest challenge for the British now was to reveal the content of this telegram without admitting that they were monitoring the cable while ensuring it had the desired impact.

January 5, 2017

Windrad umgefallen

Filed under: Europe, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Drone footage of a collapsed wind turbine in Germany from last month:

H/T to Donna Laframboise, who said:

And on December 27, in neighbouring Germany, a third turbine collapsed completely. After one of its blades failed, the nearly 100-meter (330-foot) structure buckled about 15 meters up. At roughly the height of a 30-storey apartment building, it came crashing to the ground with such force that its gear box was embedded nearly 2 meters (6 feet) deep.

Robert Tunna has uploaded a stunning YouTube video of the spectacular mess (taken with a camera-equipped drone).

We’re told that a June maintenance check on this particular turbine found no issues. Which means that National Geographic’s claim of “nearly zero” operational costs is mistaken. Wind turbines, like other expensive machinery, require ongoing maintenance. Without regular cleaning, dust accumulates and poses a fire hazard. Minus adequate lubrication, mechanical systems overheat, posing a different kind of fire hazard.

Since wind turbines are usually erected in sparsely populated areas, large amounts of fossil-fueled driving from one installation to the next is part of the maintenance picture. Repairs sometimes involve the rental of expensive cranes. In Germany alone, 26,000 individual turbines now require routine servicing. Hauling away tons of unwieldy wreckage isn’t free, either. The economic damage of last week’s incident in Germany is estimated to be half a million euros.

January 3, 2017

QotD: The “best” tank

Filed under: Europe, History, Military, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

I actually just finished a book that will be out in May next year called Armored Champion which is a general look at tank warfare in World War 2 that puts it into a broader context. One of the things I did in the new book Armored Champion is try to distinguish between what I call “tankers choice” and “commanders choice.” And what I mean by that is the tankers choice is what the tanker wants, the individual tank crew wants. The individual tank crew obviously wants a tank that is extremely powerful, very well armored, had a very powerful gun. So if you compare a Tiger or a Panther or a Sherman, the tanker is going to want the most powerful tank available. The commanders choice is very different, because the commander wants combat power. And combat power doesn’t necessarily come from the best technology because in many cases the best technology has issues.

So the Tiger during World War 2 cost the Germans something in the neighborhood of 300,000 Reich marks. You can buy a Stug III assault gun for about 70,000 Reich marks or a Panzer IV tank for about 100,000 Reich marks. So in other words you can get three Panzer IV tanks for every Tiger that you buy. And on top of it, the Tiger, because it was so big it was extremely unreliable. Things like the Stug III and Panzer IV had about double the reliability of Tiger. So if you’re a German senior commander, it’s an open question whether you want a force built up entirely of Tigers because they are unreliable and expensive so you are not going to get a lot of them. You’re going to get a lot more Panzer IV or Stug III vehicles for your Reich marks. So in that book I’m trying to compare those type of issues. And you know, that comes up with the Sherman. One reason there is 11,000 US tanks and tank destroyers In Germany in April 1945 is because the US decided to concentrate on a tank that was extremely reliable and relatively economical to build. And I don’t think anyone would claim that the Sherman was the best tank from the perspective of the tank crew, it didn’t have the best armor, it didn’t have the best gun, but from commanders perspective it was an excellent weapon. There were just lots and lots of them, so they gave the commander a lot of battlefield power. That can’t be said for a lot of the better German tanks because they simply were too expensive to be built in large numbers and they weren’t reliable enough, you couldn’t count on them. So it depends on the perspective that you are looking at it from.

“Interview with Steven Zaloga”, Tank and AFV News, 2015-01-27.

October 23, 2016

Technical vs. Tactical Innovation – German Officers in the Ottoman Army I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 22 Oct 2016

Start your free trial of the Great Courses Plus at: http://ow.ly/KUvh30491YZ

Indy is sitting int he chair of wisdom again and answers all your questions about the First World War. This week we talk about technical and tactical innovation, pals battalions and the German officers in the Ottoman Army.

October 12, 2016

QotD: The fine art of self-deception

Filed under: Europe, History, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

… we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.

When one looks at the all-prevailing schizophrenia of democratic societies, the lies that have to be told for vote-catching purposes, the silence about major issues, the distortions of the press, it is tempting to believe that in totalitarian countries there is less humbug, more facing of the facts. There, at least, the ruling groups are not dependent on popular favour and can utter the truth crudely and brutally. Goering could say ‘Guns before butter’, while his democratic opposite numbers had to wrap the same sentiment up in hundreds of hypocritical words.

Actually, however, the avoidance of reality is much the same everywhere, and has much the same consequences. The Russian people were taught for years that they were better off than everybody else, and propaganda posters showed Russian families sitting down to abundant meal while the proletariat of other countries starved in the gutter. Meanwhile the workers in the western countries were so much better off than those of the U.S.S.R. that non-contact between Soviet citizens and outsiders had to be a guiding principle of policy. Then, as a result of the war, millions of ordinary Russians penetrated far into Europe, and when they return home the original avoidance of reality will inevitably be paid for in frictions of various kinds. The Germans and the Japanese lost the war quite largely because their rulers were unable to see facts which were plain to any dispassionate eye.

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one’s opinions about important events. Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it. Political predictions are usually wrong. But even when one makes a correct one, to discover why one was right can be very illuminating. In general, one is only right when either wish or fear coincides with reality. If one recognizes this, one cannot, of course, get rid of one’s subjective feelings, but one can to some extent insulate them from one’s thinking and make predictions cold-bloodedly, by the book of arithmetic. In private life most people are fairly realistic. When one is making out one’s weekly budget, two and two invariably make four. Politics, on the other hand, is a sort of sub-atomic or non-Euclidean word where it is quite easy for the part to be greater than the whole or for two objects to be in the same place simultaneously. Hence the contradictions and absurdities I have chronicled above, all finally traceable to a secret belief that one’s political opinions, unlike the weekly budget, will not have to be tested against solid reality.

George Orwell, “In Front of Your Nose”, Tribune, 1946-03-22.

October 1, 2016

Falkenhayn Crosses The Carpathians – The Battle of Sibiu I THE GREAT WAR Week 114

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 29 Sep 2016

Erich von Falkenhayn had been fired from his position as Chief-of-Staff but he had a new task: Leading the combined Austro-German forces into Romania. So, this week 100 years ago Falkenhayn crosses the Carpathian mountains into Transylvania where they met fierce Romanian resistance. At the same time the British attacked at the Somme again and failed to utilise their new weapon: the tank.

September 30, 2016

Net contributors to the EU budget

Filed under: Britain, Europe — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

A rather revealing post at Guido Fawkes:

eu-net-contributors

Liam Fox told the Spectator that Germany risks becoming the world’s biggest cash machine after Brexit because it may end up paying for a failing European Union that is in danger of imploding:

    “If I were a German politician I would be worried that, without Britain, Germany has the potential to become the greatest ATM in global history.”

They’ve figured this out for themselves…

Of the 28 current members of the EU it may surprise co-conspirators to learn that only 12 countries were net contributors. Ireland has become the the thirteenth net contributor for the first time since it joined in 1973, hitherto it has been a net beneficiary to the order of €50 billion. Expect Irish attitudes to the EU to change as that equation changes.

September 2, 2016

Romania Joins The War I THE GREAT WAR Week 110

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 1 Sep 2016

After more than two years of carnage, the war is still growing as Romania joins the war. The moments seems right to them as the Russians steamrolled the Austro-Hungarian Army on the Eastern front this summer. But can the unproven and under equipped Romanian Army really seize the moment? The German High Command wants to make sure that Romania regrets joining the Entente and sends two of their best generals: Erich von Falkenhayn and August von Mackensen.

August 20, 2016

QotD: Violence in wartime – the great exception

Filed under: History, Quotations — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

War is the great exception, the great legitimizer of murder, the one arena in which ordinary humans routinely become killers. The special prevalence of the killer-ape myth in our time doubtless owes something to the horror and visibility of 20th-century war.

Campaigns of genocide and repressions such as the Nazi Holocaust, Stalin’s engineered famines, the Ankha massacres in Cambodia, and “ethnic cleansing” in Yugoslavia loom even larger in the popular mind than war as support for the myth of man the killer. But they should not; such atrocities are invariably conceived and planned by selected, tiny minorities far fewer than 0.5% of the population.

We have seen that in normal circumstances, human beings are not killers; and, in fact, most have instincts which make it extremely difficult for them to engage in lethal violence. How do we reconcile this with the continuing pattern of human violence in war? And, to restate to one of our original questions, what is belief in the myth of man the killer doing to us?

We shall soon see that the answers to these two questions are intimately related — because there is a crucial commonality between war and genocide, one not shared with the comparatively negligible lethalities of criminals and the individually insane. Both war and genocide depend, critically, on the habit of killing on orders. Pierson observes, tellingly, that atrocities “are generally initiated by overcontrolled personality types in second-in-command positions, not by undercontrolled personality types.” Terrorism, too, depends on the habit of obedience; it is not Osama bin Laden who died in the 9/11 attack but his minions.

This is part of what Hannah Arendt was describing when, after the Nuremberg trials, she penned her unforgettable phrase “the banality of evil”. The instinct that facilitated the atrocities at Belsen-Bergen and Treblinka and Dachau was not a red-handed delight in murder, but rather uncritical submission to the orders of alpha males — even when those orders were for horror and death.

Human beings are social primates with social instincts. One of those instincts is docility, a predisposition to obey the tribe leader and other dominant males. This was originally adaptive; fewer status fights meant more able bodies in the tribe or hunting band. It was especially important that bachelor males, unmarried 15-to-25 year-old men, obey orders even when those orders involved risk and killing. These bachelors were the tribe’s hunters, warriors, scouts, and risk-takers; a band would flourish best if they were both aggressive towards outsiders and amenable to social control.

Over most of human evolutionary history, the multiplier effect of docility was limited by the small size (250 or less, usually much less) of human social units. But when a single alpha male or cooperating group of alpha males could command the aggressive bachelor males of a large city or entire nation, the rules changed. Warfare and genocide became possible.

Actually, neither war nor genocide needs more than a comparative handful of murderers — not much larger a cohort than the half-percent to percent that commits lethal violence in peacetime. Both, however, require the obedience of a large supporting population. Factories must work overtime. Ammunition trucks must be driven where the bullets are needed. People must agree not to see, not to hear, not to notice certain things. Orders must be obeyed.

Eric S. Raymond, “The Myth of Man the Killer”, Armed and Dangerous, 2003-07-15.

August 9, 2016

The British Naval Blockade of Germany I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Britain, Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 8 Aug 2016

The big and decisive naval battle that the Royal Navy had hoped for did not happen during World War 1. But another naval strategy slowly but surely ground the German economy down.

August 5, 2016

Germany’s Grandeur – Analyzing the War Effort I THE GREAT WAR Week 106

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 4 Aug 2016

It has been two years since the global escalation that lead to World War 1. Three of the biggest battles in history are fought simultaneously now and there is no end in sight. When asked about the state of the war, the nations are still determined but the German position is still full of grandiose exaggerations.

July 25, 2016

The Evolution of German Infantry Tactics I OUT OF THE ETHER

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 24 Jul 2016

Indy sits on the Chair of Wisdom and reads out some of the best comments we get every month. This week, we deal with the evolution of German Infantry Tactics.

July 12, 2016

Mexico in WW1 – The Mexican Revolution I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Americas, History, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 11 Jul 2016

The full text of the Zimmerman Telegram: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimmerm…

Mexico was mainly focussing on internal struggles and the Mexican Revolution during World War 1. But Germany’s stance against the USA actually brought the country into the international spotlight. After the decoding of the Zimmerman Telegram, sent by the Germans to Mexico, was decoded it was clear that Germany wanted to bring Mexico into the war – against the United States.

June 30, 2016

“The Last Day of June 1934”

Filed under: Europe, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 22:24

The Last Day of June 1934
Al Stewart

The morning is humming, it’s a quarter past nine
I should be working down in the vines
Yeah, but I’m lying here with a good friend of mine
Watching the sun in her hair
I pick the grapes from the hills to the sea
The fields of France are a home to me
Ah, but today lying here is such a good place to be
I can’t go anywhere
And as we slip in and out of embrace
Like some old and familiar place
Reflecting all of my dreams in her face like before
On the last day of June 1934

Just out of Cambridge in a narrow country lane
A bottle-green Bentley in the driving rain
Slips and skids round a corner, then pulls straight again
Heads up the drive to the door
The lights of the party shine over the fields
Where lovers and dancers watch catherine wheels
And argue realities digging their heels
In a world that’s finished with war
And a lost wind of summer blows into the streets
Past the tramps in the alleyways, the rich in silk sheets
Europe lies sleeping,
you feel her heartbeats through the floor
On the last day of June 19…

On the night that Ernst Roehm died voices rang out
In the rolling Bavarian hills
And swept through the cities and danced in the gutters
Grown strong like the joining of wills
Oh echoed away like a roar in the distance
In moonlight carved out of steel
Singing “All the lonely, so long and so long
You don’t know me how long, how I long
You can’t hold me, I’m strong now I’m strong
Stronger than your law”

I sit here now by the banks of the Rhine
Dipping my feet in the cold stream of time
And I know I’m a dreamer, I know I’m out of line
With the people I see everywhere
The couples pass by me, they’re looking so good
Their arms round each other, they head for the woods
They don’t care who Ernst Roehm was, no reason they should
Just a shadow that hangs in the air
But I thought I saw him cross over the hill
With a whole ghostly army of men at his heel
And struck in the moment it seemed to be real like before
On the last day of June 1934

June 24, 2016

The Death of Max Immelmann – Haig’s Final Offensive I THE GREAT WAR – Week 100

Filed under: Europe, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 23 Jun 2016

100 weeks of war. 100 weeks and not decisive breakthrough in sight. British Commander Douglas Haig is looking for the final showdown on the Western Front. He wants to relieve the French fighting in Verdun and break through the German lines once and for all. Up in the sky, the first German Flying Ace, Max Immelmann, dies in a plane crash and on the Eastern Front, the Brusilov Offensive is still steamrolling the Austrian defences.

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