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September 21, 2019

CIC 474

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Short Rounds

" . . . Not Food for a Free Man."

During one of his campaigns in Ionia during the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.), the great Spartan general Lysander was welcomed to one of the local city-states by a delegation of municipal officials and dignitaries. They presented him with numerous gifts. Two in particular he singled out, an elaborate cake and a fat ox.

Looking at the cake, he asked, “What is that baked object?”

He was told, “It is made from honey, cheese, and other ingredients.”

Hearing that, Lysander said, “Give it to the Helots [serfs], it is not food for a free man.” He then ordered the ox to be slaughtered and roasted in the traditional way, for it was fitting “food for a free man.”

 

Kaiser Bill’s Honorary Ranks

For centuries, kings have granted each other honorary ranks as a mark of favor. One of the most honors hungry monarchs of all time was Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, from reigned from 1888 until the collapse of the Second Reich in 1918.

“Kaiser Bill” held the rank of honorary field marshal or the equivalent in seven armies and was a fleet admiral or the equivalent in six navies, not counting his own ranks in the Imperial German forces.

Austria-Hungary- Field Marshal & Grand Admiral
Bavaria *-     Marshal
Britain -     Admiral of the Fleet & Field Marshal
Bulgaria-     Marshal
Denmark -     Admiral
Norway-     Admiral
Russia -     Admiral
Spain -     Captain-General
Sweden -     Flag Admiral & General
Turkey-     Field Marshal

So Kaiser Bill had an impressive collection of ranks. In fact, of all the European monarchs, only Emperor-King Franz-Joseph of Austria-Hungary was an honorary field marshal in more armies than the Kaiser. That actually rankled the Kaiser, but there was nothing he could do about it, since there was no way he was ever going to be made an honorary Marshal of France.

And, by the way, Wilhelm had the full proper uniforms for each honorary rank.

* Although Bavaria was a constituent state of the German Empire, it had its own army which technically only came under the Kaiser’s command in wartime.

 

" . . . He’s Lit Up Like a Beer Sign!"

During the late 1960s, the U.S. Navy, and others, gave much thought to the problem of Soviet anti-ship missiles as a result of the of the sinking of the Israeli destroyer Eilat by three or four SSN-2 Styx missiles. A good deal of money was invested in trying to figure out how to cope with these missiles, and the Navy set up an experimental station at Roosevelt Roads, on the east coast of Puerto Rico.

Now the Navy had in its inventory the Firebee drone aircraft, which it used to help train ships in anti-aircraft operations. Since the Firebees were actually controlled by a human operator via data link, and the controller had range radar and visual camera systems similar to those one on the Maverick guided bomb. The Navy adapted these drones for used as simulated anti-ship missiles.

Some time around the end of the 1960s, the carrier the HMS Ark Royal visited “Rosey Roads” to give her F4 Phantom crews a workout. The initial exercises were all flown against Firebees acting in the cruise missile mode, flying kamikaze-like straight at the target. These were all very easily handled by the British pilots. The next set of exercises included remote controlled drones.

Meanwhile, a British admiral visited the Range Control Room. Called by base maintenance crews the "Buck Roger's unit," the RCR was similar to a ship's Combat Information Center; it had a huge wall screen that superimposed flashing indicator lights showing the different air tracks over a map of the Range.

The first drone came into the range, flying straight and level. Perhaps lulled into thinking it would only fly like the cruise missiles, the Phantom pilot made a very shallow approach to get on the drone's stern, for an easy Sidewinder kill. Waiting until the pilot committed himself fully to the lazy intercept, the drone controller suddenly broke right.

The British pilot was surprised by the sudden move, but his reaction was immediate, as he accelerated and turned away from the drone. Over the next three minutes or so, the Firebee maneuvered in a way that no manned aircraft could, but the British pilot worked hard to keep up. The two aircraft dived, turned, climbed, and spun at and around each other. People observing on the RCR wall display were unable to follow the action, as the aircraft were often so close as to present a single signal.

Suddenly, over the radio came a very shocked and “Veddy British” voice, "The bloody bloke’s behind me!"

At this, the lights went on in the RCR and everyone clapped for the drone controller. Enclosed in a glass booth, he never took his eyes from the visual feed, but acknowledged the applause by manically smiling while shaking his head up and down.

And the British Admiral? Standing in utter shock at this revolting development, he had turned a bright, beet red, at which on of the American chief petty officers present remarked, "My God, he's lit up like a beer sign!"

--With thanks to Dennis Largess

 

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