100 Fall to Their Deaths

Unconfirmed reports say one hundred climbers a year fall to their deaths when climbing Mount Hua is in China. This is a photo of the Plank Walk section of the Hang-Hui-Caravan-Trail. You can see why people might fall off and if they fell off get killed. Sort of gives me the willies just looking at this photo. I saw these photos on Microsoft’s sign in page a week ago.

another magnificent photo of the caravan trail along the Mount Hua.  This ancient trail was used for the spice trade for thousands of years.

From Wikipedia:

Mount Hua is a mountain located near the city of Huayin in Shaanxi province, about 120 kilometres (75 mi) east of Xi’an. It is the western mountain of the Five Great Mountains of China, and has a long history of religious significance. Originally classified as having three peaks, in modern times the mountain is classified as five main peaks, of which the highest is the South Peak at 2,154.9 metres (7,070 ft).


Another magnificent view of this ancient spice trail

Malay Emergency Instead of War So Insurers Will Pay

Headline from New York Times 16 August 1951


THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (BF 48) British 25 pounder field guns of the Royal Artillery in position outside a Malayan village during the Malayan Emergency. They are ready to give fire support if called for by the infantry. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


The Communist insurgency and successful counter-insurgency by British, Commonwealth and Malaysian troops became known as the “Malayan Emergency,” or “Malay Emergency.”

Had the British government used the word “war” then Lloyds of London and other property insurers would have been able to avoid paying out damage claims on policies written on tin mines, rubber plantations, and manufacturing plants destroyed or damaged in war. Insurance policies written for property exclude from recompense damages caused by war and “Acts of God.” These are defined as natural catastrophes over which no human agency could exert control or caused. Tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, tidal waves etc are “Acts of God” in the legal sense of the term.

Many policies also include exemptions from paying claims by civil unrest, riot and other events of mass violence. What constitutes such events area the kinds of things which keep lawyers busy.


THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (MAL 35) Men of the Malay Police Field Force wade along a river during a jungle patrol in the Temenggor area of northern Malaya. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
“Don’t you think, sir, you should have an escort,” said a policeman to the British Adviser to the Sultan of Perak, then part of the British colony of Malaysia. A Communist insurgency had recently broken out and the Adviser had come to inspect a rubber plantation where several British estate managers had just been murdered by Communist thugs.
“Escort? Good God! Why on earth should I need an escort? I’ve got my walking stick and my wife.”

[Source: War of the Running Dogs: Malaya, 1948-1960 by Noel Barber, foreign correspondent of the London Daily Mail in the 1950s and 1960s who later became a bestselling novelist including several romance novvels the most famous of which was “A Farewell to France.”


THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948 – 1960 (GOV 3828) Soldiers of 1st Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment patrol in the jungle shortly after arriving in Malaya, c 1951. A patrol spreads out across the ‘lallang’ (tall grass) as they move into the jungle after leaving the shelter of their armoured vehicles. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

The Communist insurgency in Malaya was heavily supported by the Communist Government of the People’s Republic of China. In spite of the immense difficulties involved in chasing down the Communist guerrillas and killing or capturing them in some of the most forbidding terrain in the world, this was the only successful anti-Communist campaign won by any of the Western powers in Asia that did not involved either outright defeat or a partition of the original nation.


THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (MAL 304) A soldier practicing stalking in the Malayan jungle in preperation for jungle patrols as part of the counter-insurgency campaign of the Malayan Emergency. He is using an air rifle and has a fencing mask to protect his face and eyes from pellets. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

After the defeat of the Japanese, the British re-occupied Malaysia which had been a British crown colony before World War Two, that is, a colony ruled by a Governor appointed by the Crown as advised by the sitting Prime Minister. The British wanted the opportunity to re-open tin mines and rubber plantations because of their desperate need of foreign currency.


THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (MAL 157) British and Malay infantry being transported up river on an armed launch of the Malayan Naval Force during a sweep to locate communist guerillas hidden ain the jungle along the riverside. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


The British were also determined to hand over a stable, democratic, free and independent nation to the native Malay officials and Parliament. It was a very long haul. This conflict began in 1948 and continued until the destruction of Communist forces in 1960.

Through the use of Malaysia soldiers and police, British and Commonwealth troops, and funds and supplies from the USA, the British succeeded and after they succeeded, they left. This was one of the few success stories of a country emerging intact from its days as a colony of the British Empire. Malaysia was and continues to be a multi-ethnic state because over the decades the British glued different pieces of territories into one colony. So it wasn’t as if one large piece of territory was just sitting there and they came along and snatched it.


THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY, 1948-1960 (MAL 2) A patrol of the Security Forces, possibly from either the Malayan Police Field Force or the Malayan Regiment, prepare to travel by raft down a river in the Temenggor area of northern Malaya. The local men accompanying the troops were employed as armed trackers, scouts, guides and boatmen. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

The British Empire was built on trade and the suppression of ethnic violence. In many colonies the ethnic mix was such that these different groups had been warring with each other for endless amounts of time. The British usually imposed order by recruiting native police and military units under British command backed up by British troops and the Royal Navy. Hence, there was an unspoken social contract. The British ruled the colony and made money from it and in return provided order and stability so that native elites could also make money and maintain their traditional powers.

The British preferred to rule through native elites and these groups were often among their strongest supporters.

Malaysia was never a “settlement” colony such as Canada or Australia.  At its peak the white population before World War Two might have number 10,000 people. The brutally hot climate of Malaysia was such that few white Europeans wanted to go there for any length of time. It was a trading colony exporting raw sap from rubber trees as well as an immense amount of tin from mines that had been opened up. Because of this, Malaya earned large amounts of foreign currency, especially dollars for the British and this became more and more important as the twentieth century went on.



BRITISH FORCES IN THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (DM 138) Members of the Malay Regiment inspect equipment, supplies and documents captured in a raid on a communist terrorist jungle camp. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


BRITISH FORCES IN THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (DM 179) Sergeant A J Foster of the Malayan Police sets up a trip-wire across a path on a rubber plantation known to be used by communist terrorists. When touched the wire would set off a flare to illuminate the surrounding area. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


Cell Phone Pistol Coming Soon!

I seriously wonder why someone needs a pistol disguised as a cell phone unless you are in the CIA or a plainclothes police officer of some sort. You can easily get a permit in most states to carry a concealed pistol (concealed carry) and in many states you don’t need a permit you can simply “conceal carry” if you wish.

But these :”cell phone” pistols will be on sale to the general public soon according to

The question is why the sale of such firearms is legal. Why do people need to own a firearm which is disguised as a cell phone? So you sneak it into various places? So you will feel more manly or empowered? Just carry a real pistol. Don’t pussyfoot around and carry a disguised pistol to fool others since there is no reason to do this.

As a gun owner, I understand the strong feelings on the subject of “conceal carry” and “open carry.” I think a person should have to get a permit which would include a screening for drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, spousal abuse and other associated activities. If these events happened in someone’s life years back that is one thing. If you are separated from your spouse and there is a restraining order against you, I’m not sure if you giving you a permit to carry a pistol concealed or open is a wise idea.

A standard response is, “you can kill someone with your car just as easily as killing them with a pistol and we don’t put restrictions on cars.” Actually we do. You have to have a driver’s license and prove you can see and drive. And while you can easily kill someone with a car, it isn’t disguised as a something else. Everyone knows it is a car.

Battlecruisers Explode & Admiral Sir David Beatty

THE ROYAL NAVY IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR (Q 19571) Admiral David Beatty, posing deliberately for the camera with his hat at its famous ‘Beatty tilt’ shortly after his appointment as the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Rakish, occasionally reckless, always recognizable, and a fighter in the tradition of Lord Nelson, Admiral David Beatty became the most well known figure of the Royal Navy in later World War One and afterwards.

Admiral David Beatty was keenly aware of the value of public relations however often he decried the popular press. He complained in letters to his wife and friends about that damn fellow Filson who is here….(that is, aboard his then flagship, HMS Lion). He was referring to Filson Young who was a journalist and war correspondent who wasn’t important but knew a lot of important people and managed to get himself into all sorts of places. He talked himself into being commissioned into the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as a sub-Lieutenant and had himself assigned to HMS Lion with the express task of writing about Admiral David Beatty.


THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR (Q 68682) King George V and Admiral David Beatty on the quarter deck of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH of the Grand Fleet. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


This wasn’t as difficult as it sounds since Young had known Beatty for several years and hero worshiped him. Beatty theoretically found all this annoying mind you, he hardly wanted some hero worshiping journalist like Filson Young around. Except he did and he liked Filson so he invited Filson Young to become part of personal staff mess over which Beatty presided like a king. So as much as he complained, he was usually available to talk to Filson who was aboard HMS Lion during the Battle of the Dogger Bank. In the early twenties he wrote an impressive book still worth reading today: With the Battlecruisers.

Admiral Beatty, later Admiral of the Fleet and Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet, later First Sea Lord and elevated to the peerage as Earl Beatty of the North Sea, was looked on by the public as the ideal of a true Royal Navy officer with the ‘Nelson touch.’ Handsome, controversial (but not too controversial), always wearing his naval cap with his trademark “Beatty tilt,” he was instantly recognizable.  Beatty was a handsome man and a warrior. Women were strongly attracted to him and he was strongly attracted back. His private life was considered scandalous (which it sort of was) which only made him more interesting.



Battlecruiser HMS Indefatigable explodes at Jutland on 31 May 1916. Only two sailors out of a ship’s company of 1,019 survived.

“In the distance the British battlecruiser HMS Indefatigable sinking after being struck by shells from the German battlecruiser Von Der Tann first in “X” magazine and then once she had limped out of the line she was hit by another salvo on the foredeck, the resulting explosion then destroying her. All but two of Indefatigable’s crew of 1,119 were killed in the blast.”(Photo and caption courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

Three of Admiral David Beatty’s battlecruisers— HMS Invincible, HMS Queen Mary, and HMS Indefatigable —were hit in vulnerable areas not protected by sufficient armour, by German shells during the battle of Jutland and literally exploded. Only a handful of officers and ratings from the three ships survived. Beatty’s own flagship, HMS Lion, was hit repeatedly by German shells which did significant damage.


HMS Lion on the left with waterspouts from enemy shells surrounding her. To the right, battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary explodes after German shells penetrated one of her powder magazines.

Beatty and HMS Lion had been pounded by the German navy before in the Battle of the Dogger Bank when German ships temporarily put HMS Lion out of action. Fortunately, since the battle was in the North Sea, HMS Lion did not have to steam far to reach port once the engines were brought back online. Nonetheless, after this experience and Jutland, Beatty had been in more action exposed to death and danger on an open navigating bridge than any other British admiral.

battlecruiser HMS Lion at sea (photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

The battlecruiser, a fast, lightly armoured but carrying heavy guns, was the brainchild of Admiral of the Fleet Jacky Fisher, First Sea Lord from 1904 to 1910 (that is, the professional head of the Royal Navy) who subsequently served disastrously in the same position from 1914 to 1915.

            “Their speed will be their protection,” was Fishers’s unrelenting slogan: a dictum now as flawed as the refusal of combat with a nominal equal was unthinkable.”

Thus writes the brilliant naval historian, Professor Andrew Gordon, of the battlecruiser concept, in his magisterial work: The Rules of the Game—Jutland and British Naval Command.  


HMS Dreadnought, circa 1906. The booms lashed to the side of the ship were designed to hold anti-torpedo netting. (US Navy Archives)

Fisher was a brilliant and far-sighted naval officer who in his first term from 1904 to 1910, was responsible for the modernization of the Royal Navy including the construction of the first modern battleship, HMS Dreadnought. Upon commissioning in 1906, the revolutionary design of the ship immediately rendered obsolete all other battleships in the world including all the pre-dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy.

Fisher’s second major brainchild was the battlecruiser. He forced this design through a skeptical Admiralty only to see his design proven disastrous at Jutland on 31 May 1916.


Admiral of the Fleet Sir David Richard Beatty, PC, GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO. (Privy Counsellor, Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Order of Merit, Grand Cross of the Victorian Order, Distinguished Service Order) Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum. From the Collection: THE ROYAL NAVY IN THE HOME WATERS, 1914-1918 


During that battle, the Admiral Commanding Battle Cruisers, David Beatty, was more than startled when the battlecruisers around him started exploding. After the second of his battlecruisers exploded, Beatty turned to his flag captain on HMS Lion and said, “something seems to be wrong with our bloody ships today.” And there was.

You can read book after book on the Battle of Jutland but it was Beatty who found and pinned the German High Seas fleet and led them toward what should have been its destruction by the Grand Fleet under Jellicoe. In doing so, Beatty was in action with his battlecruiser squadron far longer than the heavy battleships of the Grand Fleet.

The battlecruisers were not designed to fight it out with battleships but this is what happened in any event. Beatty has been criticized for being overly aggressive but that is specious. The culture of the Royal Navy was once the enemy was sighted, you went at them. It was the responsibility of the heavier ships to come up in support as fast as they could. In this Jellicoe failed.

But the biggest failure was that of the battlecruiser design and concept. It was a disaster. Unfortunately, after scrapping enough ships to meet their obligations under the Washington Naval Limitation Treaty, the Royal Navy was left with three of the newer battlecruisers: HMS Hood, HMS Repulse, and HMS Renown. Of these three, only the Renown was taken out of service and rebuilt with all of her major flaws corrected including thickening the armour over her magazines. While the other two were taken out of service for refits, neither spent two years in the dry dock being completely rebuilt and re-engined as did the Renown.


HMS Hood at sea. (Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

The result wasn’t surprising. HMS Hood became a victim of plunging fire from the Bismarck. A shell went through the three inches of steel which formed the armoured deck over the aft powder magazine. It ignited the magazine and the ship blew up and sank in less than two minutes.

HMS Hood was the largest warship in the world and a symbol of the might of the British Empire. Since the Hood spent so much time on “goodwill” tours throughout the world showing the flag, she was the most well known warship in the world. That she simply blew up was a shock to the British public and people throughout the world. (Only three men out of 1600 survived).

In a disastrous nightmare, HMS Repulse accompanied the KGV class battleship Prince of Wales, to Singapore and was sunk by the Japanese in the early days of the Pacific campaign.

This left only HMS Renown which for many months served as Admiral James Somerville’s flagship while he commanded the famous Force H from Gibraltar. (The ‘H’ doesn’t stand for anything). HMS Renown survived the war because she survived the bombs and the shells which hit her whereas the Hood and the Repulse did not. A sad story of a class of ships which should have been taken out of service entirely once their vulnerability at Jutland became clear.

Terrorist Bomb Plot Foiled by Postage Due

36 packages of dynamite rigged as bombed were mailed to prominent US officials in April of 1919. Thought to be the work of anarchists although this was never proven. For various reasons none of the people the bombs were addressed to actually reached them.

Author and historian, Tim Weiner, writing in his Pulitzer Prize winning book,  Enemies: a History of the FBI,  says: “A postal clerk in New York found sixteen of them [dynamite bombs] on the postage due shelf; the bombers hadn’t used enough stamps.”

Metro DC Blue Line Re-Opened Today


Demand is so high for Metro service in DC that a passenger finds a unique place on the train to enjoy his commute


The subway system in metropolitan Washington DC serves two states, VA & MD, and the District. Inadequate funding and incompetent management have brought the Metro (as we call here) to the verge of collapse. A new general manager was brought in 6 months ago and suddenly crews are working night and day to fix problems even closing down entire lines which hasn’t been done before.

the Blue Line’s new side-of-car reduced fare is very popular

The Blue Line, which I frequently use, was closed for several weeks and reopened today with a number of improvements. The most unusual is the reduced fare side-of-car platform designed to appeal to the budget minded and students. If you stand on the outside platform you have 60% off the standard fare and 30% off the rush hour fare. The introduction of this new method will reduce interior crowding of subway cars and I am all in favor of that.



May the Grand Duke Alexis Ride a Buffalo in Texas

it’s Carnival time in New Orleans, that land of dreams….


“Hey Mister! Throw me something.”

Charles McCain, Mardi Gras New Orleans 1979



Fat Tuesday!


To all my friends and fraternity brothers in New Orleans, wishing you a Happy Mardi Gras and remembering the good times during Carnival those many years ago when some of us were matriculates of Tulane University.


Bob Warren, Charles McCain, and Sara Warren

Mardi Gras New Orleans 1979 (give a take a year or two)

The photo is a little bit off center but we were as well from taking ardent spirits.


“If ever I cease to love, may the Grand Duke Alexis ride a buffalo in Texas”