Monthly Archives: April 2016


By lex, on December 29, 2006

Tedium my friends, is the end of human decency, and there was a fair bit of tedium to be found on the line during the Cold War. We’d sail around the world, ever ready for any contingency but quite unwilling to offend anyone, tip-toeing around off shore, always careful not to kick the can over on that whole global, thermonuclear war thing. Because of the nuclear winter that was in it.

What joy there was for a strike fighter pilot in the late 80’s consisted of deeds of epic personal heroism in port during all-too-rare quality of life visits – the kind of things you didn’t write home about – and the very unlikely chance that your battle group might be called up for one of those very occasional, but classically Navy, drive-by shootings*.

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The road not taken – completed

By lex, on December 27th, 2006

It’s always interesting to come home again, even if you never really can “go home” again. The neighborhood I grew up in was mature when I was young, and it hasn’t much changed in the intervening decades. Oh, the storefronts have all been gentrified down in the commercial: The old deli is replaced by a bistro now, and where Howard Johnson’s used to stand we now have an office building. The cinema that used to show second run films that everyone had already seen has been gutted and replaced by a multiplex that shows limited release foreign films that no one ever goes to see.

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How very troll

By lex, on November 18th, 2006

I think there’s money to be made – maybe even a book to be written – about the motivations people have for blogging and commenting on blogs. I have to admit that that I enjoy the pleasure of the well-turned phrase almost as much as I enjoy the thoughts of those who would use that construct  for their own experiences. I write, others comment, we all learn a bit about the world around us – we see a single facet of reality through the prism of a different point of view.

But only slightly different for the most part. The information/entertainment market has become so highly segmented that each of us has a place to go where we know that we’ll be welcome. We tend to congregate there, among others who are mostly like-minded. We are comfortable.

But it’s the differences that make it fun, isn’t it?

Well, yes. Up to a point.

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Why the Spitfire’s place in history should be challenged


In his controversial article ‘Dismantling the Spitfire myth’ Matthew Willis asserted that the Spitfire’s role in British history is hugely over-stated. Jon Lake countered by defending its reputation in ‘Spitfire’s Revenge’. Now in the third part of a fascinating debate, Willis hits back. 

spitfire-ch_001447Challenging the Spitfire is, due to its iconic status, always going to be a difficult thing to do. Nevertheless, after reading Jon Lake’s response to my earlier piece, I continue to assert that the Spitfire’s place in the history of World War II should be challenged.

If I might first answer the charge of ‘revisionist nonsense‘. On the second point (of it being nonsense), it’s not for me to say. On the first, though the word revisionism seems to have become a pejorative term of late, it properly stands for a proper historical re-examination of existing orthodoxy and accepted ideas. If the ideas…

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Mugger on fire

By lex, on September 19th, 2006

In port we were, between one nameless at sea period and the next, with five beautiful days to spend in sunny Sandy Eggo – a real treat for the high desert warriors of Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.

Lemoore was a wonderful place to learn the trade of flying strike fighters for there were bombing targets and fighting ranges and wide open countryside that a man and his wingman might rage around at, very down low, with never a living soul to complain, or if there was he didn’t have the telephone number of the complaint hot line. As wonderful as it was for learning the Art and Skill of breaking other peoples’ gear and flaming their jets, the better to let the sojers do their thing, it was very far from heaven from the perspective of Other Stuff to Do, once the flying thing was over.

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Mugger on CAP

By lex, on September 18th, 2006

Mugger was his name, or his callsign anyway – or very nearly, names having been minimally altered to prevent being placed on somebody’s “People to Kill” list, just in case. He was a drag-knuckle F-14 fighter pilot of the ould mould, flight suit zipped down to his navel, chest thrust pugnaciously out, boots unshined and often even untied, their tongues poking out like labrador puppies from under his pants legs and himself generally displaying but a faint relationship to what was commonly conceived to be a proper and military kind of personal appearance. (I think he was an AOCS graduate.) Never to fret though, for Mugger was thoroughly convinced of his own excellence, implacably certain of himself from tip to top and from long established custom needing little more than a mirror and a little privacy to break down his gruff exterior and have him making soft, cooing noises of appreciation.

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Learning to fight

By lex, on September 12th, 2006

In primary flight training you learn how to fly. In basic jets, you learn to fly jets, and carrier qual for the first time – day only. In advanced jets you learn how to fly a high performance jet, drop bombs (a little), fight (a little), and CQ again.

When you go to the fleet replacement squadron, you learn to fly the airplane that you’ll fly in the fleet. You’ll learn how to land her at night. But when you get to the fleet?

That’s when you really learn to fight.

I remember coming off target after a training mission in Fallon, Nevada, back in my junior officer days. We’d fought our way in successfully, hit the target with precision, and bugged out of Dodge, putting the spurs to it, hauling the mail.

Running away.

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An Interesting Series

My TV viewing habits have shifted over the last year from mainly network TV (There were 5 of us left in the country) to Internet streaming from Netflix. Never could justify out here paying $100+/month to get “cable” TV. Seems that you get 100 channels you don’t want to get 3-5 that you do want.

Anyway on Netflix is an 8 part series entitled “American Genius” – about industry movers and shakers who really affected society.  The first episode dealt with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, while the 2nd episode highlighted 2 aviation pioneers, the Wright Brothers and Glenn Curtis. That episode was a bit of a surprise for me, having put the Wright Brothers into the near Deity platform for, you know, inventing the airplane.

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By lex, on August 16th, 2006

Citing an unattributed south Asian newspaper, the UK Guardian today strongly hints that torture was used against a British citizen in Pakistan to help uncover the recent air terror plot:

Reports from Pakistan suggest that much of the intelligence that led to the raids came from that country and that some of it may have been obtained in ways entirely unacceptable here. In particular Rashid Rauf, a British citizen said to be a prime source of information leading to last week’s arrests, has been held without access to full consular or legal assistance. Disturbing reports in Pakistani papers that he had “broken” under interrogation have been echoed by local human rights bodies. The Guardian has quoted one, Asma Jehangir, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, who has no doubt about the meaning of broken. “I don’t deduce, I know – torture,” she said. “There is simply no doubt about that, no doubt at all.”

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Night Bounce

By lex, on August 11th, 2006

I was an O-4 down in Iwo Jima, the same island of World War II fame, and now an outermost air defense outpost, containing a small picket of Japanese Air Self-Defense Force personnel. They “flew” F-104’s mostly, or at least they were rumored to – the many times I was down there, I never actually saw one leave the parking ramp, far less take the active runway.

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