Now THAT’S a serious golfing hazard

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On their way to attack England’s industrial and military targets, the Nazi aircraft would clear their guns by firing a few rounds at golf courses en route.

Naturally, the golfers were urged to take cover.

Here are the actual rules from one club.

My favorite is #7: “A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place. Penalty one stroke.”

Got it? If you are disturbed by a bomb exploding, you can hit another shot but you have to take a penalty!


D-Day remembered: Eisenhower walking with Walter Cronkite through an American cemetery in Normandy

It is unbelievably moving.

Remember, Cronkite himself was one of “Ed Murrow’s boys,” the people Ed hired to report the war in Europe.

(Below the Eisenhower clip is another of Murrow’s boys reporting from Normandy on D-Day itself, 73 years ago today.)

One personal connection: my neighbor down the street, Courtney Wright, a Brit and a retired physicist, was navigator on the ship that took Eisenhower ashore the next day.

And this is another of Murrow’s boys, Charles Collingwood, giving his radio report from Normandy on D-Day itself.

It’s a live recording, introduced by Murrow.


ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday June 6, 2017

Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

◆ D-Day: 73 years ago today. The US, Britain, and Canada opened a second front against the Nazis.
A young, low-level intelligence contractor is first person charged with leaking, re Russian interference in 2016 election 
(New York Times)

She’s a big Bernie Sanders supporter and may have thought this was part of the “Resistance,” which she has supported online.

The case showed the department’s willingness to crack down on leaks, as Mr. Trump has called for in complaining that they are undermining his administration. His grievances have contributed to a sometimes tense relationship with the intelligence agencies he now oversees.

The Justice Department announced the case against the contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, 25, about an hour after the national-security news outlet The Intercept published the apparent document, a May 5 intelligence report from the National Security Agency. –New York Times

Comment: Good. A first step.

Now, go after the big boys and girls, who aren’t as careless as kids still on their parents’ insurance.

 Chicago’s free fire zone: 3 dead, 3 wounded in eight hours (Chicago Tribune)

“I always see this on TV,” [the uncle of 23-year-old-victim Devonta Scott] said looking at frantic relatives holding each other splashed in strobing police lights. “I just never thought it would happen to me.” –Chicago Tribune

And then, the most common ending to all this shootings in poor, black neighborhoods.

Police reported no arrests. –Chicago Tribune

Comment: The problems are extremely serious and just as hard to manage.

  • The city needs a lot more police but cannot afford them.
  • The worst neighborhoods know who the criminals are, but they don’t cooperate with the police, either because they don’t trust the cops or they fear the bad guys, or both
  • The gangs have splintered, so dozens and dozens of gangs are fighting lethally for each street corner.
  • The gang members have no fathers, no education, and no jobs

The headlines mislead outsiders in one important respect. The crime and killing is largely a product of–and confined to–very poor neighborhoods. Occasionally, it spills out as members try to escape their enemies or rob the rich, but that’s uncommon.

 The sanctions against Qatar are beginning to bite.  

Qatar flight ban begins as Gulf crisis grows (BBC) The Saudis and Egyptians are leading this move.

Several countries have cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism in the Gulf region.

Qatari nationals in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been given two weeks to leave.

Qatar denies backing militants and its foreign minister has called for “a dialogue of openness and honesty”.

Egypt said it was closing off its airspace to Qatar from 04:00 GMT on Tuesday “until further notice”. –BBC

Comment: The sanctions are a very good idea against a very bad actor, one the US has coddled for years because we have bases there. No more. And the shift in US policy made it easier for the Arab states to form this coalition.

The question is whether it’s a first step or a showy diversion to avoid taking others, such as staunching the local donations to terrorists.

Additional Reading:

For a magazine-length piece on Qatar’s controversial history, this new article in The Atlantic is very good.

 Over 130 British Imams have refused to perform burial services for the attackers  (CBS)

The ritual is normally carried out for every Muslim, regardless of their actions.

In what is a highly unusual move, Muslim religious leaders from different schools of Islam — both Sunni and Shia — issued a statement late Monday saying their pain at the suffering of the victims of Saturday’s attacks had led to their decision, and they called on others imams to follow suit. –CBS

Comment: Good. Also good: it seems like several Muslims who knew the attackers told the police about them, but the officials dropped the ball.

One reason why important things slip through the cracks: the UK current has 500 active terror investigations, plus another 3000 top-tier subjects of interest, and 20,000 more one tier below that. Those numbers are overwhelming.



The PERFECT story for Memorial Day: Lessons from an “Ordinary” Man Who Helped Liberate Europe

The story, as told by Col. James Moschgat, begins with his daily encounters with the janitor, “an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy.”

That quiet man, going about his work, was Bill Crawford. He was

mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory.

Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, “G’morning!” in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties. –Col. James Moschgat, “A Janitor’s Ten Lessons in Leadership”

He did his job well, but he was shy and just “blended into the woodwork,”says Moschgat. That’s why few cadets noticed Mr. Crawford, except to exchange a friendly hello.

That changed one fall Saturday afternoon in 1976. I was reading a book about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I stumbled across an incredible story. On Sept. 13, 1943, a Private William Crawford from Colorado, assigned to the 36th Infantry Division, had been involved in some bloody fighting on Hill 424 near Altavilla, Italy.

The words on the page leapt out at me: “in the face of intense and overwhelming hostile fire … with no regard for personal safety … on his own initiative, Private Crawford single-handedly attacked fortified enemy positions.” It continued, “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United States …”

“Holy cow,” I said to my roommate, “you’re not going to believe this, but I think our janitor is a Medal of Honor winner.”

Col. Moschgat goes on to underscore the life lessons he learned–none of them earth-shattering but all of them rock-solid, worth taking to heart. Everyone deserves respect. Courtesy makes a difference. Leaders should be humble. Take your time to know your people. No Job is Beneath a Leader. (The last one reminds me of a story I read about General James Mattis, who pulled Christmas duty so one of his Marines could spend the holiday with family.)

And one lesson that Moschgat surely drew from his story about the janitor: “Anyone can be a hero.”

Bill Crawford was a janitor.  However, he was also a teacher, friend, role model and one great American hero.   Thanks, Mr. Crawford, for some valuable leadership lessons. –Col. Moschgat


The citation for Pvt. Crawford’s Medal of Honor tells of his exceptional courage:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Altavilla, Italy, 13 September 1943.

When Company I attacked an enemy-held position on Hill 424, the 3rd Platoon, in which Pvt. Crawford was a squad scout, attacked as base platoon for the company. After reaching the crest of the hill, the platoon was pinned down by intense enemy machine-gun and small-arms fire. Locating 1 of these guns, which was dug in on a terrace on his immediate front, Pvt. Crawford, without orders and on his own initiative, moved over the hill under enemy fire to a point within a few yards of the gun emplacement and single-handedly destroyed the machine-gun and killed 3 of the crew with a hand grenade, thus enabling his platoon to continue its advance.

When the platoon, after reaching the crest, was once more delayed by enemy fire, Pvt. Crawford again, in the face of intense fire, advanced directly to the front midway between 2 hostile machine-gun nests located on a higher terrace and emplaced in a small ravine. Moving first to the left, with a hand grenade he destroyed 1 gun emplacement and killed the crew; he then worked his way, under continuous fire, to the other and with 1 grenade and the use of his rifle, killed 1 enemy and forced the remainder to flee.

Seizing the enemy machine gun, he fired on the withdrawing Germans and facilitated his company’s advance.

–Medal of Honor citation. United States Army Center of Military History


With many thanks to Tim Favero, who shared this story with me.

Remembering Pearl Harbor…or never learning about it: Two stories

◆ Two Comments about Pearl Harbor Day: Today, we pause to remember those who died when the Japanese Empire bombed US base at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, dragging the US into the war in the Pacific. Hitler declared war on the US three days later, dragging the US into the war Europeans had been fighting since 1939.

Let me share two brief stories about this historic day and our collective memories of it.

(1) The Bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge

My late Dad, who fought in the Philippines, once showed me a picture he had taken. It was hard to make out, but he explained it was the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge. “Why did you photograph it?” “Because I was passing under it on a troop ship, and I knew I might never see the United States again.” That’s the risk they took to protect our country, our freedom.

(2) Never heard of Pear Harbor

Last week, a physician’s assistant scheduled an appointment for me today. As we chatted, I said in passing, “Ah, December 7. A memorable date.” She asked “why?” I was stunned.

I explained a bit. The bombing and the country that did it were utterly new information for her. She vaguely knew about World War II but noted, in her defense, that “I wasn’t even born then.”

The Chicago public schools allegedly educated this young woman. (“I didn’t pay much attention to history,” she told me. Her ignorance was convincing on that point. Still, Pearl Harbor and WWII are pretty big events to sleep through.) She also has parents, or at least one, who ought to pass along some basic knowledge, including knowledge about our country. Nope.

I weep for our future.

When Prime Minister Churchill invited the wrong man to lunch

The most celebrated conversationalist of mid-20th century Britain was the Oxford don, Isaiah Berlin. But he was unknown during World War II, when he was a lowly analyst, posted to Britain’s Washington embassy. His dispatches were so brilliant, so insightful that they often reached the desk of Prime Minister Churchill. So, it’s not surprising that, when Churchill learned that Mr. Berlin was in London, he invited him over for lunch to discuss the war effort. What happened next was a comedy of errors, recounted by the man who did receive the invitation, songwriter Irving Berlin, who was touring London with a play to raise money for the troops.

For prominent Americans wartime London was remarkable for the easy access they enjoyed to the highest echelons of British society. Berlin received an invitation to have lunch with Winston Churchill at 10 Downing Street. Throughout the course of the war, Churchill had been entertained by dispatches written by the celebrated Oxford don Isaiah Berlin, who was assigned to the British Embassy in Washington. On hearing that the writer he so admired was visiting London, Churchill hastened to invite Isaiah Berlin to lunch. Through a bureaucratic mixup, however, the invitation went out to the songwriter rather than the political commentator.

On the appointed day, Irving Berlin presented himself at the prime minister’s residence, where he was escorted to a comfortable room and given a cigar and a glass of brandy. In time, Churchill appeared, still under the impression that his guest was Isaiah Berlin. The prime minister wasted little time on pleasantries. “How is war production in the United States?” he demanded.

Berlin was taken aback by the question. He was a composer and performer, not a war correspondent. “Oh, we’re doing fine,” he hesitantly answered.

“What do you think Roosevelt’s chances of reelection are?”

Uncomfortable at being called on to play political pundit, he gave the obvious answer. “I think he’ll win again.”

“Good,” Churchill replied. “Good.”

“But if he won’t run again,” Irving offered, “I don’t think I’ll vote at all.”

For the first time, he had Churchill’s interest, not that he welcomed it. “You mean you think you’ll have a vote?” Churchill asked, a note of wonder–or was it British irony?–creeping into his voice.

“I sincerely hope so,” Irving said.

“That would be wonderful,” Churchill replied, appearing to sum up. “If only Anglo-American cooperation reached such a point that we could vote in each other’s elections. Professor, you have my admiration. You must stay for lunch.”

Throughout lunch at 10 Downing Street, Irving was haunted by the feeling that he was well out of his depth. Why had Churchill addressed him as “professor”? He stopped trying to reply to Churchill’s probing questions and fell silent. Eventually Churchill turned his back on his taciturn guest. The awkward lunch finally came to a conclusion, and as Churchill left the room, he whispered loudly to an aide, “Berlin’s just like most bureaucrats. Wonderful on paper but disappointing when you meet them face to face.”

Irving Berlin
This is the Army

berlin-irving-isaiah-and-city-labeledI am indebted to Bookworm Room blog for the quote and to my friend Prof. Jerry Cohen at UC Santa Barbara and, before that, at Tufts and Princeton, who shared stories about being mixed up with other professors named Jerry Cohen at every stop on his route. Btw, neither of the Jerry Cohens at Yale (below) are my friend. They are simply living off the goodwill of his name.