I’m hearing the periodic message sent you subscribers out there is not reaching you in a timely manner. You might check your junk mail and see if it’s there or another folder. Sometimes recurring messages get sent there. I’m getting my best FOD IT guy working on it to see if I can make some changes from this end. Thanks. And I know I’m a bit late getting this edition out. I’ve been writing, just not publishing.
FOD Saying of the Day
Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. Albert Einstein
Xi Secures Power In Perpetuity
The path was cleared on Sunday for China’s Xi Jinping to rule the country indefinitely as its rubber-stamp parliament passed a constitutional amendment removing presidential term limits. The amendment was passed almost – but not quite – unanimously, with two “no” votes and three abstentions, against 2,957 in favor. I don’t think those “no voters” are around anymore. Party members’ loyalty belied a wave of criticism of the move among internet users, a wave which censors have taken care to extinguish. The amendment was revealed by the Communist Party just last month. Delegates to the National People’s Congress, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, applauded after each vote in what comes as China’s first constitutional amendment in 14 years. Had members rejected it, it would have been the first time a party diktat had ever failed to pass. Xi, 64, has consolidated power since 2012, when he was appointed party general secretary, the country’s top office. The position has no term limits, but his two predecessors both gave it up after two terms as part of the “orderly process” established by Deng. The presidency is a largely ceremonial office, but the now-abolished constitutional limits meant Xi would have had to give it up in 2023. Before Sunday’s vote, US President Donald Trump had joked that Xi was “now president for life.” As the holder of the top offices of party, state and military, Xi is also referred to as China’s “paramount” leader; and, in 2016, he was officially designated “core” leader by the party. His accumulation of titles has also earned him the nickname “Chairman of Everything.” Under Xi’s leadership, China has experienced tighter restrictions on civil society, including detentions of activists and lawyers, and ever-stricter internet controls. Simultaneously, he has purged many officials, and sidelined potential rivals, by means of a relentless ‘crackdown on corruption’ that seems yet to have run its course. “I think that during the past five years, he has been carrying out a soft coup, including making the Politburo a mere figurehead,” Chinese political commentator Wu Qiang told AFP, referring to the 25-member Communist Party body one notch under the ruling council. “He wants to prevent power from falling into the hands of technocrats like Jiang (Zemin) and Hu (Jintao),” Wu added, referring to Xi’s two predecessors. So what does it all mean for the Chinese people? Dissenting is becoming even more risky. The room for debate becomes narrower. The risk of a policy mistake becomes higher. Correcting a flawed policy will take longer.
Good Morning Friends of FOD. I am trying to evaluate whether the subscription block and the comments sections are actually functional. If you could/would, please attempt to subscribe if you see the PICK UP FOD block either on the side or at the bottom. And attempt to leave a comment of some kind. You can also send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org in regards to what you’re seeing on your particular device. And of course I’m always interested in your particular experiences that might be of interest.
Thanks in advance, Fireball
Massacre in Boston in 1770
The Boston Massacre, known as the Incident on King Street by the British, was an incident on March 5, 1770, in which British Army soldiers shot and killed people while under attack by a mob. The event occurred at the Custom House, later know as the Old State House on King Street, now known as State Street (photo left). The incident was heavily propagandized by leading Patriots, such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, to fuel animosity toward the British authorities. British troops had been stationed in Boston, capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, since 1768 in order to protect and support crown-appointed colonial officials attempting to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation. Amid ongoing tense relations between the population and the soldiers, a mob formed around a British sentry, who was subjected to verbal abuse and harassment. He was eventually supported by eight additional soldiers, who were subjected to verbal threats and repeatedly hit by clubs, stones and snowballs. They fired into the crowd, without orders, instantly killing three people and wounding others. Two more people died later of wounds sustained in the incident. The crowd eventually dispersed after Acting GovernorThomas Hutchinson promised an inquiry, but reformed the next day, prompting the withdrawal of the troops to Castle Island. Eight soldiers, one officer, and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder. Defended by lawyer and future American president John Adams, six of the soldiers were acquitted, while the other two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences. The men found guilty of manslaughter were sentenced to branding on their hand. It is interesting to note how closely this incident parallels recent acts of protest.
“…AN IRON CURTAIN HAS DESCENDED ACROSS THE CONTINENT…”
Winston Churchill’s “Sinews of Peace” address of 5 March 1946, at Westminster College, used the term “iron curtain” in the context of Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an “Iron Curtain” has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.” Churchill, who had actively pursued a course of negation with Stalin with regard to who would control vast expanses of countries that had existed prior to WW II was not just realizing Stalin’s overall goal was to rule as much of Europe as possible. Churchill had only recently been defeated at the polls for reelection as British Prime Minister. Much of the Western public still regarded the Soviet Union as a close ally in the context of the recent defeat of Nazi Germany and of Japan. Although not well received at the time, the phrase iron curtain gained popularity as a shorthand reference to the division of Europe as the Cold War strengthened. The Iron Curtain served to keep people in and information out, and people throughout the West eventually came to accept and use the metaphor. He expressed the Allied Nations’ distrust of the Soviet Union after the World War II. In the same year September, US-Soviet Union cooperation line collapsed due to the disavowal of the Soviet Union’s opinion on the German problem in the Stuttgart Council, and then followed the U.S. President Harry S. Truman’s announcement of enactment of hard anti-Soviet Union, anticommunism line policy. Since then, this phrase became popular and was widely used as anti-Soviet Union propaganda term in the Western countries.
Spitfire’s First Flight
5 March 1936: At 4:35 p.m., Vickers Aviation Ltd. chief test pilot Captain Joseph (“Mutt”) Summers took off on the first flight of the prototype of the legendary Supermarine Spitfire, K5054, at Eastleigh Aerodrome, Southampton, England. Landing after only 8 minutes, he is supposed to have said, “Don’t change a thing!” The Vickers-Supermarine Type 300 was a private venture, built to meet an Air Ministry requirement for a new single-place, single-engine interceptor for the Royal Air Force. The Spitfire was built in many variants, using several wing configurations, and was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter to be in continuous production throughout WW II. The Spitfire continues to be popular among enthusiasts; about 54 remain airworthy, while many more are static exhibits in aviation museums throughout the world. During the Battle of Britain, from July to October 1940, the Spitfire was perceived by the public to be the main RAF fighter, though the more numerous Hawker Hurricane shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against the Nazi German air force, the Luftwaffe. Spitfire units, however, had a lower attrition rate and a higher victory-to-loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes because of its higher performance. Spitfires in general were tasked with engaging Luftwaffe fighters (mainly Messerschmitt Bf 109E series aircraft which were a close match for the Spitfire) during the Battle of Britain. After the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire superseded the Hurricane to become the backbone of RAF Fighter Command, and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and the South-East Asian theatres. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber and trainer, and it continued to serve in these roles until the 1950s.
For all of us who completed some type of flight training in Texas, or had the opportunity to live in Texas, we know Texas is a different kind of state. In that light, it’s good to remember the Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under PresidentGeneral Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission
near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio), Texas, Several months previous to the Battle of the Alamo, Texians had driven all Mexican troops out of Mexican Texas. About 100 Texians were then garrisoned at the Alamo. The Texian force grew slightly with the arrival of reinforcements led by eventual Alamo co-commanders James Bowie and William B. Travis (right). On February 23, approximately 1,500 Mexicans marched into San Antonio de Béxar as the first step in a campaign to retake Texas. For the next 10 days, the two armies engaged in several skirmishes with minimal casualties. Aware that his garrison could not withstand an attack by such a large force, Travis wrote multiple letters pleading for more men and supplies, but the Texians were reinforced by fewer than 100 men. During the siege, newly elected delegates from across Texas met at the Convention of 1836. On March 2, the delegates declared independence, forming the Republic of Texas. Four days later, the delegates at the convention received a dispatch Travis had written March 3 warning of his dire situation. Unaware that the Alamo had fallen, Robert Potter called for the convention to adjourn and march immediately to relieve the Alamo. Sam Houston convinced the delegates to remain in Washington-on-the-Brazos to develop a constitution. After being appointed sole commander of all Texian troops, Houston journeyed to Gonzales to take command of the 400 volunteers who were still waiting for Fannin to lead them to the Alamo. On the afternoon of April 21 the Texian army attacked Santa Anna’s camp near Lynchburg Ferry. The Mexican army was taken by surprise, and the Battle of San Jacinto was essentially over after 18 minutes. During the fighting, many of the Texian soldiers repeatedly cried “Remember the Alamo!” as they slaughtered fleeing Mexican troops. Santa Anna (below) was captured the following day, and reportedly told Houston: “That man may consider himself born to no common destiny who has conquered the Napoleon of the West. And now it remains for him to be generous to the vanquished.” Houston replied, “You should have remembered that at the Alamo”. Santa Anna was forced to order his troops out of Texas, ending Mexican control of the province and giving legitimacy to the new republic.
Take two aspirin and call me in the morning
On March 6, 1899, the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin registers Aspirin, the brand name for acetylsalicylic acid, on behalf of the German pharmaceutical company Friedrich Bayer & Co. Medicines made from willow and other salicylate-rich plants appear in clay tablets from ancient Sumer as well as the Ebers Papyrus from ancient Egypt. classical antiquity and the Middle Ages. Willow bark extract became recognized for its specific effects on fever, pain and inflammation in the mid-eighteenth century. By the nineteenth century pharmacists were experimenting with and prescribing a variety of chemicals related to salicylic acid, the active component of willow extract. In 1853, chemist Charles Frédéric Gerhardt treated acetyl chloride with sodium salicylate to produce acetylsalicylic acid for the first time, in the second half of the nineteenth century, other academic chemists established the compound’s chemical structure and devised more efficient methods of synthesis. In 1897, scientists at the drug and dye firm Bayer began investigating acetylsalicylic acid as a less-irritating replacement for standard common salicylate medicines, and identified a new way to synthesize it. By 1899, Bayer had dubbed this drug Aspirin and was selling it around the world. The word Aspirin was Bayer’s brand name, rather than the generic name of the drug; however, Bayer’s rights to the trademark were lost or sold in many countries. Aspirin’s popularity grew over the first half of the twentieth century leading to fierce competition with the proliferation of aspirin brands and products. Aspirin’s popularity declined after the development of acetaminophen/paracetamol in 1956 and ibuprofen in 1962. In the 1960s and 1970s, John Vane and others discovered the basic mechanism of aspirin’s effects, while clinical trials and other studies from the 1960s to the 1980s established aspirin’s efficacy as an anti-clotting agent that reduces the risk of clotting diseases. Aspirin sales revived considerably in the last decades of the twentieth century, and remain strong in the twenty-first with widespread use as a preventive treatment for heart attacks and strokes.
SR-71 sets speed records on her last flight
6 March 1990: On its final flight, Lieutenant Colonel Raymond E. (“Ed”) Yeilding and Lieutenant Colonel Joseph T. (“J.T.”) Vida established four National Aeronautic Association and three Fédération Aéronautique Internationale speed records with a Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird, U.S. Air Force serial number 61-7972. Departing Air Force Plant 42 (PMD) at Palmdale, California, Yeilding and Vida headed offshore to refuel from a Boeing KC-135Q Stratotanker so that the Blackbird’s fuel tanks would be full before beginning their speed run. 972 entered the “west gate,” a radar reference point over Oxnard on the southern California coast, then headed east to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) at Washington, D.C. (I was at NAWCWPNS Pt Mugu when we tracked this historic flight). The transcontinental flight, a distance of 2,404.05 statute miles (3,868.94 kilometers), took 1 hour, 7 minutes, 53.69 seconds, for an average of 2,124.51 miles per hour (3,419.07 kilometers per hour). The Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” was a long-range, Mach 3+ strategicreconnaissance aircraft that was operated by the USAF. It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by Lockheed and its Skunk Works division. American aerospace engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson was responsible for many of the design’s innovative concepts. During aerial reconnaissance missions, the SR-71 operated at high speeds and altitudes to allow it to outrace threats. If a surface-to-air missilelaunch was detected, the standard evasive action was simply to accelerate and outfly the missile.The SR-71 was designed with a reduced radar cross-section. The SR-71 served with the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. A total of 32 aircraft were built; 12 were lost in accidents and none lost to enemy action.The SR-71 has been given several nicknames, including Blackbird and Habu. It has held the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft since 1976; this record was previously held by the related Lockheed YF-12, mentioned in FOD a few days ago.
This was 61-7972’s final flight. The total time on its airframe was 2,801.1 hours. 61-7972 is on display at the Steven V. Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. Visit it on your next DC trip.
And on March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell receives a patent for his first practical telephone. Bell’s father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech and both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing Bell’s life’s work. His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices which eventually culminated in the development of the telephone. Many other inventions marked Bell’s later life, including groundbreaking work in optical telecommunications, hydrofoils, and aeronautics. Although Bell was not one of the 33 founders of the National Geographic Society, he had a strong influence on the magazine while serving as the second president from January 7, 1898, until 1903.
China is continuing to expand construction activities in yet another set of islands in the South China Sea. Beijing has undertaken substantial upgrades to its military infrastructure in the Paracel islands, with the construction of harbors, helipads and a full-fledged helicopter base on several islands in the chain. This is in addition to those facilities being constructed on the Spratly Islands. The latter having been the subject of recent public comment by the Trump administration. The interests of the nations contesting these island groups include retaining or acquiring the rights to fishing areas; the exploration and potential exploitation of crude oil and natural gas under the waters of various parts of the South China Sea, and the strategic control of important shipping lanes. Free access to the shipping lanes for all countries is of strategic importance to the US. The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (CSIC), has been following China’s activities for some time. CSIS is one of the very finest American think tank organizations based in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1962 and continues to be sponsored by Georgetown University . The center conducts policy studies and strategic analyses of political, economic and security issues throughout the world, with a specific focus on issues concerning international relations, trade, technology, finance, energy and geostrategy. The current Chinese actions follows closely emulate the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) strategy in WW II. That scheme centered on the Japanese strategic initiative predicated on offensively extending their outer defensive perimeter in the south and central Pacific. The US counter offensive resulted in the Guadalcanal Campaign mentioned in more than one edition of FOD in recent days. This could become a greater issue for the new presidential administration.
Did you see that lunar eclipse last night?
Last night, stargazers were be able to view a penumbral lunar eclipse, a stunning full moon, and a comet flyby. If you were fortunate to have a view, you had a most unusual Friday night. Lunar eclipses occur only during a full moon, but penumbral lunar eclipses are still pretty special, albeit more subtle. These sorts of eclipses occur when the Moon enters the outer region of Earth’s shadow, called the penumbra. Observers, like me down here in AZ (where it’s warm) were able to notice an unusual dark shade toward the top of the moon when it reaches mid-eclipse. Since this was the region closest to the Earth’s full shadow, called the umbra. Since penumbral eclipses are more subtle than partial eclipses, you had to look more carefully to see this slightly darker shade. Every year, two to five lunar eclipses occur, and one in every three will be penumbral. However, this was be the only penumbral lunar eclipse of 2017.
‘Pre’ Ball and Convair 880
10 February 1960: Delta Air Lines’ Chief Pilot, Captain Thomas Prioleau “Pre” Ball, (below) made the delivery flight of Delta’s first jet airliner, Ship 902, a Convair 880 named Delta Queen, FAA registration N8802E, from San Diego, California, to Miami, Florida, setting a United States National Record for Speed Over a Commercial Airline Route. The elapsed time was 3 hours, 31 minutes, 54 seconds, averaging 641.77 miles per hour (1,032.83 kilometers per hour) over 2,266 miles (3,647 kilometers). The Convair 880 was fast with a top speed was 880 feet per second (600 miles per hour, or 966 kilometers per hour), faster than its Boeing 707 or Douglas DC-8 rivals. Four of the U.S. National Speed Records set by Pre Ball remain current. In addition to the record set with the Convair 880 on 10 February, on 6 November 1948, Ball flew a Delta Air Lines Douglas DC-6 from Los Angeles, California, to Charleston, South Carolina, in 6 hours, 24 minutes, 32 seconds, at an average speed of 344.19 miles per hour (553.92 kilometers per hour). On 18 March 1954, he flew a Douglas DC-7 from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida, in 05:29:33, averaging 392.25 miles per hour (631.27 kilometers per hour). Finally, on 24 February 1962, Captain Ball flew a Douglas DC-8 from Miami, Florida, to Atlanta, Georgia, in 01:28:11, for an average of 406.1 miles per hour (653.56 kilometers per hour). The Convair was built by the Convair division of General Dynamics. It was powered by General Electric CJ-805-3 turbojets, a civilian version of the J79 which powered the F-104 Starfighter, F-4 Phantom and Convair B-58 Hustler. The airliner never became widely used and the production line shut down after only three years. The 880’s five-abreast seating made it unattractive to airlines, while Boeing was able to out-compete it with the Boeing 720, which could be sold much more cheaply as it was a minimal modification of the existing 707. In addition, the General Electric engines had a higher specific fuel consumption than the Boeing’s Pratt & Whitney JT3Cs. Elvis Presley had a Convair 880 that he named after his daughter, Lisa Marie. A modified version of the basic 880 was the “-M” version. The -M incorporated four leading edge slats per wing, Krueger leading edge flaps between the fuselage and inboard engines, power-boosted rudder, added engine thrust, increased fuel capacity, stronger landing gear, greater adjustment to seating pitch and a simpler over-head compartment arrangement. One 880-M was purchased by the FAA from Convair and for eighteen years was used to train FAA flight examiners. The United States Navy acquired that 880-M in 1980 modifying it as an in-flight tanker. I tanked off of it when it came out to NAWCWPNS Pt Mugu once. It was damaged beyond the reasonable-cost-to-repair in a cargo hold explosive decompression test at NAS Pawtuxet River, Maryland in 1995. Most of the remaining Convairs were scrapped by 2000.
Crimea, USSR. It’s often said Stalin insisted on the venue as he was supposedly afraid to fly, but the more likely reason was that Stalin would not leave the USSR for fear of a coup d’état. The meeting was intended mainly to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. Within a few years, with the Cold War dividing the continent, Yalta became a subject of intense controversy. To a degree, it has remained controversial. Each leader had an agenda for the Yalta Conference: Roosevelt wanted Soviet support in the U.S. Pacific War against Japan, specifically for the planned invasion of Japan (Operation August Storm), as well as Soviet participation in the UN; Churchill pressed for free elections and democratic governments in Eastern and Central Europe (specifically Poland); and Stalin demanded a Soviet sphere of political influence in Eastern and Central Europe, an essential aspect of the USSR‘s national security strategy. Significant was the fact FDR was near death and British influence was minimal in that they were broke. Yalta was the second of three wartime conferences among the Big Three. It had been preceded by the Tehran Conference in 1943, and was followed by the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, which was attended by Stalin, Churchill (who was replaced halfway through by the newly elected British Prime Minister Clement Attlee) and Harry S. Truman, Roosevelt’s successor. The Yalta conference was a crucial turning point in the Cold War and gave significant advantages to the Soviet Union..
President-Elect Lincoln goes to Washington
On February 11th in 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln leaves home in Springfield, Illinois, and embarks on his journey to Washington, D.C. On a cold, rainy morning, Lincoln boarded a two-car private train loaded with his family’s belongings, which he himself had packed and bound. His wife, Mary Lincoln, was in St. Louis on a shopping trip, and joined him later in Indiana. It was a somber occasion. Lincoln was leaving his home and heading into the jaws of a national crisis. Since his election, seven Southern states had seceded from the Union. Lincoln knew that his actions upon entering office would likely lead to civil war. He spoke to a crowd before departing: “Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young man to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being… I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail… To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.” A bystander reported that the president-elect’s “breast heaved with emotion and he could scarcely command his feelings.” Indeed, Lincoln’s words were prophetic—a funeral train carried him back to Springfield just over four years later.
The short route up the English Channel was preferred to a detour around the British Isles, to benefit from surprise and from air cover by the Luftwaffe. The British attempted to exploit decrypted messages from German radio messages coded with the Enigma machine. However on 11 February 1942, the Kriegsmarine ships left Brest at 9:14 p.m. and escaped detection for more than twelve hours, approaching the Strait of Dover without discovery. (Prinz Eugen below) The RAF, the Fleet Air Arm, Navy and coastal artillery operations were costly failures but Scharnhorst and
Gneisenau hit mines in the North Sea and were damaged (Scharnhorst being put out of action for a year). By 13 February, the ships had reached German ports and Winston Churchill ordered an inquiry into the debacle. The London Times denounced the British fiasco.
Wickenburg Gold Rush Days – Great Small Town Traditions
We escaped Seattle to come to the warm sunny weather around Phoenix yesterday. And today we rediscovered some great small town traditions in Wickenburg, AZ. They put it all together, a multi-day rodeo, car show, wild-west show performers and a great parade. It’s their sixty-ninth Gold Rush Days here. It was lots of good fun and in a venue where the parade participants know those watching the parade. They pass out candy to the kids from every float. This year there were 146 horses in the parade. I counted them. Find a small town that’s having a parade and join the fun!