Halloa! I fear this box may never provide a description that could ever truly satisify the definition of description.
In saying that, I'm 26, from Liverpool, with a passion for Liverpool FC, history, and Star Trek. Ahem.
I suppose I should note that I am so utterly staid that the colour beige has pursued legal action against me on a number of occasions. Damned legal obligations...
Oh, and this blog is quite probably PG-safe (I guess what constitutes PG is subjective, so probably) as I very rarely swear and don't post images of a fleshy nature.
Oh, oh, and I have a fascination (um, irrepressible obsession) with the two world wars, which is why they appear so prominently in my Tumblr. Macabre, perhaps, but it's principally centred on a desire to contribute, however insignificantly, to the "perpetuation" of those who suffered immeasurably in the wars.
“Half-length portrait of Pilot Officer J H Smythe RAFVR of Sierra Leone, a newly-qualified navigator, photographed while undergoing training at No 11 Operational Training Unit, Westcott, Buckinghamshire, England.”
He survived the war. Here’s an interview from The Times, 1995:
FORMER Flying Officer Johnny Smythe celebrated his 80th birthday by reliving a nightmare that has haunted him for half a century. As he stroked the fuselage of the last airworthy Lancaster in Britain he recalled a November night over Berlin when his bomber was crippled by Luftwaffe fighters and then finished off by flak.
As the parachute jolted open, Mr Smythe watched the firestorm below and saw there were bloodstains on his flying jacket. “I doubted I would reach the ground alive and, if I did, what would they make of this large black man?” the 6ft 5in QC from Sierra Leone said. After a vain attempt to elude capture on the ground, he was cornered in a barn and frogmarched away to begin three years as a prisoner-of-war.
Yesterday, Mr Smythe was feted by the present aircrew at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire headquarters of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. As he inspected the Lancaster he recalled long dead comrades and the mission to Berlin that so nearly cost him his life.
“We were flying at 16,000ft that November night in 1943 when the fighters came out of nowhere. They raked the fuselage and there were flames everywhere,” he said. “Then the searchlights caught us. The anti-aircraft batteries opened up. I was hit by shrapnel and then the pilot ordered us to bale out.
“It was my 27th mission. We had some rough ones before but this seemed to be the end. I have tried to forget that night for 50 years.”
Later, at a lunch in the mess held in Mr Smythe’s honour, Flight Lieutenant Mike Chatterton paid tribute to his bravery. “I don’t think anyone today really understands how dangerous these missions were,” he said. “It is a wonder so many came through.”
Mr Smythe is in no doubt that his colour helped him to survive. “At that time aircrew who baled out over Berlin were being shot out of hand because of the damage we were causing. When I was captured they could not believe their eyes. I am sure it was their surprise at seeing a black man that saved me from summary execution.”
After the war, he returned to Sierra Leone where he practised law, eventually becoming Attorney-General. Among his clients was the German Ambassador.
He thought he had forgiven his old foes until at a diplomatic reception a man began singing the Horst Wessel song. “I marched up and knocked him down. I had no idea I was still so angry over what those people had done to the rest of the world,” he said.
Mr Smythe had hoped that seeing the Lancaster again would exorcise some painful memories. However, his last words to the mess suggested that some emotions are too powerful to eradicate.
“I worship Bomber Harris. It sickens me that he is vilified now for his saturation raids on German cities. I don’t regret a single mission no one should. We were fighting against the worst tyranny the world has ever known and they got what they deserved.”
Please excuse the rant. It’s mostly unintelligible, and I’d probably unfollow myself just for this…if I could :-(.
Ok, seriously, why, oh why do governments have to nourish conspiracists? There are times when you get the distinct impression that there is deliberate calculation in such folly (the notion of states using such foolishness much as the puffer fish inflates itself to conceal its inherent fragility is pretty much the only conspiracy theory I could seriously consider adhering to). Um, anyway, this whole NSA Prism controversy is both sinister and counter-productive.
I can’t say I grasp these sort of things (the complexities frighten the bloody hell out of me) but surely the more voracious such organisations become - and, by extent, the less rigorous, er non-existent, the threshold becomes in respect to harvesting (the most obscenely gratuitous) information - the less efficient and, indeed, effectual they are? Who benefits? After all, if a single police officer had to investigate 20 suspects in three countries, under constantly changing conditions, what sort of results would that produce? Even if these organisations had at their disposal some software comparable to Hal, the sheer scale of this appropriation cannot be conducive to their doing the job they’re nominally tasked with.
The resources - not to mention manpower - available to these organisations is presumably ‘finite’ and, therefore, best utilised when the scope is nuanced and precise (i.e. targeting actual/suspected terrorists and criminals, et al). What good is treating intelligence as if it were a game of wack-7-billion-moles? Not to mention such quirky little things like ethics, morality, and civil liberties and the inevitable, and apparent, escalation of whatever original rationale was used in disregarding common sense and reason. What good is state security if it engenders such broad, potentially irrevocable distrust? Cos, yeah, it’s not as if the 21st Century isn’t already abounding with limitless paranoia.
Oh, and as a tangential aside, I’m awaiting the inevitable references to the ‘good ol days’ of the British Empire in certain UK newspapers. They’ll doubtless mention how secure Britain had been without such intrusiveness, with limited numbers of civil servants controlling hundreds of millions - conveniently overlooking the immumerable disasters which befell the empire through horrendously poor intelligence and/or inexcusable adminstrative blundering (be it the second Afghan War, Indian rebellion, Isandlwana, the Bengal and Irish famines, Boer wars, etc). It’s just so tedious to see the left and right elements of the media - and the purportedly neutral - showing such haughty, self-righteous disdain towards the US.
Andddddd that was cathartic….yay rambling incoherence.