Historic Fireboat John J Harvey Gets Dazzle Camouflage


Nicholas Knight/Public Art Fund

❝ During WWI and WWII, dazzle camouflage (also known as razzle-dazzle in the U.S.) was painted onto thousands of ships both in the U.K. and U.S.

Its development is credited to the British marine artist Norman Wilkinson, who in 1917 claimed that painting ships with geometric shapes in contrasting colors — interrupting and intersecting each other — would make it difficult for enemy vessels to target them. Unlike traditional camouflage, dazzle was used to confuse and disorient ships rather than to conceal or hide them.

************

I must add:

❝ — In the panic of Sept. 11, 2001, as tens of thousands of people tried to leave the island of Manhattan, an aging boat once headed for the scrap heap became a hero of sorts.

On 9/11, the John J. Harvey raced to Pier 11, evacuating 150 terrified, dust-covered people…

❝ Then came a second call. Firemen battling blazes at the World Trade Center had no water because the twin towers had fallen on the water lines…

For three days, the Harvey joined three active-duty fireboats to provide the only water there was to keep the 9/11 fires from getting worse.

No reason to let this heroic craft be retired. Surely, there are enough folks with heart enough to make this monument stay afloat forever.

Bush and Obama get fair credit for destroying the Middle East — don’t forget Sykes and Picot


Click to enlargeGuardian/Getty

…First world war agreements cooked up in London and Paris in the dying days of the Ottoman empire paved the way for new Arab nation states, the creation of Israel and the continuing plight of the Palestinians. And if their memory has faded in the west as their centenaries approach, they are still widely blamed for the problems of the region at an unusually violent and troubled time.

“This is history that the Arab peoples will never forget because they see it as directly relevant to problems they face today,” argues Oxford University’s Eugene Rogan, author of several influential works on modern Middle Eastern history.

In 2014, when Islamic State fighters broke through the desert border between Iraq and Syria – flying black flags on their captured US-made Humvees – and announced the creation of a transnational caliphate, they triumphantly pronounced the death of Sykes-Picot. That gave a half-forgotten and much-misrepresented colonial-era deal a starring role in their propaganda war – and a new lease of life on Twitter.

Half truths go a long way: the secret agreement between Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot in May 1916 divided the Ottoman lands into British and French spheres – and came to light only when it was published by the Bolsheviks.

It also famously contradicted earlier promises made by the British to Sharif Hussein of Mecca before he launched what TE Lawrence called the “revolt in the desert” against the Turks. It did not draw the borders of Arab states – that came later – but it has become a kind of convenient shorthand for western double-dealing and perfidy.

And it was undermined too by the Balfour Declaration in November 1917 – mourned for decades by Palestinians remembering how “his Majesty’s government viewed with favour the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people” when Zionism was a novel response to European antisemitism and Jews a small minority in the Holy Land.

Looking ahead, officials in the UK Foreign Office are brainstorming anxiously about how to mark these agreements. It is far harder than remembering the first world war’s military anniversaries – Flanders, Gallipoli, the Somme – because while British and allied sacrifices and heroism can be celebrated and honoured, these were political acts that have left a toxic residue of resentment and conflict.

RTFA for a refresher course that may be a first-time for many this side of the pond. Useful details, innuendo and conspiracy – and one significant absence in my mind. Though the original characters in this drama were aware of the potential value of regional oil reserves, the history noted in the article makes no mention.

Here’s another article in the run-up to all this – that leads to notes like:

“In June 1914, just days before outbreak of war, the British Government, acting on First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill’s urging, bought the majority share of the stock of Anglo-Persian Oil Company and with it she took automatically APOC’s major share in Deutsche Bank’s Turkish Petroleum Company. London left nothing to chance.”

APOC now has a shorter name: BP

Daylight saving time starts this weekend — useless as ever!

Daylight saving time begins this weekend. From coast to coast, most Americans will dutifully “spring forward” by one hour early Sunday morning. We’re told this helps save energy and allows us to enjoy more sunshine during the summer months.

But a number of critics say this is all a big fat waste of time. Daylight saving time does nothing but create chaos and confusion, they say, and might actually waste more energy than it tries to save. It should be abandoned immediately, they contend.

So who’s right?

“Who knows,” said John Lowe, the nation’s timekeeper. “It can be very controversial.”

If you’re truly concerned, Lowe’s answer is a bureaucratic copout.

Lowe heads the time and frequency services group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal agency responsible for, among other things, maintaining the official time in the United States…

Many places in the world don’t bother shifting the clocks. The United States began observing daylight saving time during World War I, seeing it as a way to preserve energy. (More light in the evening means less electricity used.) An added benefit is that the change allowed many Americans to enjoy more sunshine during the warmer months.

No one in our government has updated the study in almost 60 years.

Critics, including those behind the online petition at End Daylight Saving Time, say the time shifting causes more problems than it’s worth by making it exceedingly difficult for businesses to coordinate timetables with markets in Asia and Africa and Europe.

“If we are saving energy let’s go year round with daylight saving time. If we are not saving energy let’s drop daylight saving time!” challenges the site, which urges people to contact their elected leaders to put an end to the nonsense.

I’d suggest thinking about how useless – or useful – the time change is to your own life. If you agree with me and the folks at End Daylight Saving Time click the link and sign on to the petition.

Don’t agree? Do nothing – like our government – and nothing will change.

Republicans block Capitol farewell to last American WWI veteran


Frank Buckles – dead at 110
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

West Virginia’s two Democratic senators blamed House Speaker John Boehner after their hopes of having the remains of World War I veteran Frank Buckles honored in the Capitol Rotunda were dashed, at least for now.

Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin III both released statements saying the Ohio Republican had blocked the Capitol honor…

Buckles died Sunday on his farm in Charles Town, W.Va., at the age of 110. He had been the last surviving American veteran of World War I.

The episode turned what West Virginia lawmakers had hoped would be easy approval for the rare honor for Buckles into a finger-pointing dispute with partisan overtones.

It was unclear late Thursday how the disagreement would end. Asked whether Boehner would be supportive if the Senate approved a resolution allowing Buckles’ remains to lie in the Rotunda, [Boehner’s spokesman] said, “We’ll see what the Senate does.”

The honor requires a congressional resolution or the approval of congressional leaders, according to the office of the architect of the Capitol.

The bodies of prominent citizens have been displayed in the Rotunda on 30 occasions, starting in 1852 with Henry Clay, a Kentucky senator and congressman. Others include Presidents Lincoln and Reagan, unknown soldiers from America’s wars and civil rights hero Rosa Parks…

Members of both parties of West Virginia’s congressional delegation had introduced resolutions to permit Buckles’ casket to be honored in the Capitol. The House version was sponsored by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va…

In his final years, Buckles had campaigned for greater recognition for the 4.7 million Americans who joined the military in 1917 and 1918 during World War I. Among his goals was a national memorial in Washington for those who served in that conflict.

President Obama has ordered that flags on U.S. government buildings fly at half staff on the day Buckles is buried. His family has said they plan to inter him at Arlington.

No one is really certain why Boehner would deny the honor to Frank Buckles. Maybe he thinks we were on the wrong side in World War One?