The Fighter Plane That Wasn’t Much Faster Than Its Namesake: The Brewster Buffalo

This plane was a hard luck story the moment it came out of the factory. That the US Navy forced the US Marines to utilize this plane as a first line fighter is outrageous. Lots of brave men died because of that sort of idiocy.

Here’s an article from the New York Times about one of the old planes just found:

In the generally upbeat annals of American military aviation, the plump, snub-nosed little fighter called the Brewster Buffalo stands out as a turkey. The plane had its day of ignominy in the epic Battle of Midway in June 1942, when 19 Marine pilots valiantly engaged Japanese Zeroes in dogfights above Midway Atoll, a strategic speck some 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu. Only five of the pilots and planes returned….

Maritime archaeologists photograph and document the engine and propeller section of a Brewster Buffalo wrecked in the Midway Atoll lagoon. The stubby plane did not fare well against Japanese Zeros.

[Source and Image: New York Times.]

Huey Long Accuses My Grandfather of Eating His Breakfast – Part 2

Part 1Part 2

Hilariously, as this article from the New York Times of December 9th, 1933 will explain, Huey Long told the US Senate that Grandfather had invited him to breakfast then stiffed him with the check. What’s more he said, Grandfather only ordered coffee but then ate most of Huey’s breakfast.

Grandfather was not the type of man to steal someone’s breakfast. While I never knew him, he was a very formal man. I’ve never seen a photograph of him, even at the beach, when he is not wearing a coat and tie. According to my uncle, Huey would come by my grandfather’s home in New York, uninvited, and phone people all over the US, leaving Grandfather with a huge long-distance phone bill. He often invited himself for dinner as well even though he only wore a rumpled suit. In that era Grandfather and the family and guests followed the custom of dressing for dinner in tuxedos. This never bothered Huey. He just sat down at the dining room table and paid no attention to how he was dressed.

According to my uncle, who was a child at the time, Huey was very friendly to him and the other children and that Huey liked children a lot.

The New York Times – 9 December 1933

Sicily’s Fiscal Problems Threaten to Swamp Italy

I was shocked, shocked, to see the above headline in the New York Times on 7.22.12 and I am certain you will be shocked as well. Seems that the autonomous government of Sicily has been spending too much money, way too much money, and hasn’t fessed up to it until recently.

A prince of a guy by the name of Mr. Lombardo, is the head of the government in Sicily. He is under investigation for ties to the Mafia. (Like duh.) And has also been in jail for corruption. Were it not for his legal problems, I’m sure he would have kept better records and in general run a tighter ship.

One of the big problems in Sicily, besides the deep traditions of corruption, thievery from the public purse, bribery of officials, vendettas, the Mafia, and a few more, is this: too many people work for the government. Certainly we are all familiar with towns or cities or states or departments of the Federal Government which seem to have some extra people but the following is truly astounding.

Once again from the New York Times:

…Sicily’s regional government…employs 26,000 auxiliary forest rangers; in the vast forestlands of British Columbia, there are fewer than 1,500…

“Of course that’s too many,” Mr. Lombardo said of the forest rangers. But he said it was difficult to cut back because state workers have job protection. “We have to wait for them to retire.”

Too many? Too many? That’s an under statement. The entire island only amounts to 25,700 square kilometers. This means that in Sicily, there is a forest ranger for each square kilometer of land. And you have to wait for all of them to retire? How long will that take? Fifty years? This is corruption on a breathtaking scale. Tammany Hall would have been proud.

Allow me to end with these figures: the US Forest Service employs approximately 28,000 people, including forest rangers, to oversee 780,000 square kilometers of Federal lands. But there are 9.83 million square kilometers of land in the USA. We could solve our unemployment problem by creating 9,830,000 new Forest Ranger positions which would bring us to the same ratio as Sicily. We can and we should learn from other nations.

[Sources: The New York Times and the US Forest Service.]

Pope Benedict: Please Denounce My Book

But back to American Psycho. There was a mountain of negative publicity about it when it published. All authors should be so lucky since people are far more interested in reading a book that has been denounced than one which is praised.

The most recent example of this is: Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics by Sister Margaret A. Farley, R.S.M., Ph.D., a member of the order of the Sisters of Mercy. She is an ethicist and retired professor who taught Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School from 1971 to 2007. In other words, this 77 year old lady is a nun, a thinker, and an ethical philosopher in the long standing tradition of Christian scholarship. This is an academic book written for fellow academics. It was well reviewed in dozens of scholarly journals which focus on Christian philosophy and Christian sexuality. And it was published six years ago! No one outside of academia had ever heard of it.

Writes Maureen Dowd in her column in the New York Times on 6.6.12:

It’s hard to say what is weirder: A Sister of Mercy writing about the Kama Sutra, sexual desire and “our yearnings for pleasure.” Or the Vatican getting so hot and bothered about the academic treatise on sexuality that the pope censures it, causing it to shoot from obscurity to the top tier of Amazon.com’s best-seller list six years after it was published.

In fact, I just checked Amazon’s website (I’m writing this on 6.15.12) and the good Sister’s book is 222 on their bestsellers list! Believe me, that number means this book is flying out of Amazon’s warehouses. It has lots of five star reviews, but even better, lots of one star reviews which say things guaranteed to increase sales: “disgusting.” “shameful.”

Best of all, the “Book is condemend (sic) by the Church.” This last review lacks a certain something since the reviewer has not read the book and misspelled “condemned.” Nonetheless, having your book condemend by the Church, or even condemned, will result in sales of 500,000 copies or more. I’m sure of it. Why can’t this happen to me. If only the Pope and the Catholic Church, or any church, would denounce my novel. Even if you are not a high ranking religious figure, please denounce my novel on an internet forum.

[Source: New York Times.]