Category Archives: history

This Just In: Beatles’ John Lennon Was Really an A-hole


A rich, spoiled, lazy, arrogant, self-centered, drug-addled hypocrite.   The Daily Mail fills in the details, as if we didn’t really know.  The rather amusing and altogether unsurprising piece is worth the read.

By the age of 25 he owned a Rolls-Royce and a Ferrari. When he was filming Help! in Bond Street in 1965, the director asked him to run into Asprey, the luxury jewellers, through one door and out of another. On the way, he contrived to spend some £600 — the equivalent of £20,000 today.

This is not, of course, the Lennon that his fans choose to remember. The real Lennon, we are often told, was an artist, an idealist, an ascetic who disdained possessions and rejected the hypocrisies of capitalism.

But this is nonsense. The real John Lennon always craved money. When their manager, Brian Epstein, secured them their first contract with record company EMI, Lennon’s telegram simply asked: ‘When are we going to be millionaires?’

As for political idealism, for most of his early life he never showed the slightest interest. As an art student he didn’t join the Labour Party, go on CND marches or demonstrate against apartheid.

It was only after he had fulfilled his primary ambition to become very rich that he began to indulge his artistic, political and spiritual enthusiasms.

There’s more.  When that other foul-smelling hippie Yoko Ono arrived on the scene, it seems Lennon dived deeper into his hypocrisy and became more annoying.

It was in this capacity, as a self-appointed prophet of world peace, that Lennon wrote Imagine. Ironically, the hymn to purity and simplicity was recorded in the purpose-built studio at his country house, Tittenhurst Park in Ascot.

The couple had bought the house with its cottages, magnificent gardens and 72 acres of land from the entrepreneur and chocolate heir Sir Peter Cadbury. It was an incongruously splendid setting from which to lecture the world on the importance of no possessions.

I am of the age where more than a few of my high school teachers all but deified Lennon and the Beatles.  I never cared for most of their stuff, for myriad reasons, and when I mentioned that to one fawning English teacher Freshman year, I was curtly informed that I could consider myself uneducated until I could appreciate their genius, particularly that of John Lennon.   When Lennon was shot in 1980, another teacher told us it would be a defining moment in our lives.  Words cannot express how wrong both of them were.

Some visitors were struck by the contrast between his millionaire lifestyle and the sentiments of his most famous song. Elton John was astounded to discover that Yoko had a specially refrigerated room just for her fur coats.

In 1980, to mark Lennon’s 40th birthday, Elton sent him a little verse: ‘Imagine six apartments / It isn’t hard to do / One is full of fur coats / The other’s full of shoes.’

An older friend, the Beatles’ former personal assistant Neil Aspinall, once heard Lennon moaning about the costs of running his business empire. ‘Imagine no possessions, John,’ Aspinall said.  Lennon glared back.  ‘It’s only a bloody song,’ he said.

So in the end, John Lennon was indeed a music pioneer.  He was one of the first mega-stars of Rock and Roll who was in actuality a fraud; an annoying, self-centered jackwagon who needed someone to kick some of his teeth out for his troubles.    All I can hope is that those teachers of my youth, now long retired, had some kind of epiphany at some point and realized “Geez, this guy was an a-hole!”
Which makes me appreciate Blutarsky even more.


Filed under Around the web, history, Humor, Personal

Footage of the Last Hours of USS Wasp CV-7

 Shortly after 1440 on 15 September 1942, in the waters of the Solomon Islands, USS Wasp (CV-7) was struck by three torpedoes from the IJN submarine I-19.   The impact point was directly below the AVGAS distribution station, which was in operation when the torpedoes struck.   Within minutes, Wasp was engulfed in flames, roaring like a furnace, punctuated by powerful explosions from built-up gasoline vapors.  Ammunition and aerial bombs began to detonate from the heat, and inside of an hour, Captain Forrest Sherman ordered Wasp abandoned.   She burned well into the evening before torpedoes from USS Lansdowne (DD-486) finally sank her.



When I was a young lad, I read an excellent book on the Solomons Campaign.  In it, the author described Wasp as burning like a torch, and how, as darkness fell, sailors on other ships could see her glowing red from the fires inside.   When Wasp finally slipped beneath the waves, it was said she emanated a loud and eerie hissing as her hot steel sank into the sea. Watching the footage above, one understands that such a description, like Tom Lea’s famous painting, is hardly hyperbole.

In all, 193 sailors died on Wasp, and 366 were wounded.   Forty-three precious aircraft also went down with her. She had been in commission just 28 months.

In the 37 weeks of war since December 7th, the US Navy had lost Langley (CV-1), Lexington (CV-2), Yorktown (CV-5), and Wasp (CV-7).  Also soon to be lost was Hornet (CV-8), sunk at Santa Cruz on 26 October 1942.   Hornet, however, would be the last US fleet carrier lost during the war.

H/T to Grandpa Bluewater

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Filed under air defense, aviation, Defense, guns, history, missiles, navy, planes, ships, training, veterans, war, weapons, World War II

Gun Control, Racism, and Liberals

The folks at Ushanka tell us the sometimes-tragic consequences of the blindly foolish liberal mindset towards the two subjects.

Kevin Sutherland on gun control:

Since I am in politics, there is one phrase coined by our Founding Fathers that really strikes me. When they founded this nation, they set out to create a “more perfect Union.” The important distinction in this phrase is that our Union is not perfect. More than 225 years later, despite so much change, this is still true. It is likely that we will never achieve absolute perfection, but I believe that the heart of American exceptionalism is that we never stop trying. If history is any guide, the forces for progress always succeed eventually, no matter how formidable their opposition is. Our fight is not merely for new gun control measures or even new mental health programs. It is for the creation of an even more perfect Union.

That is why I am a liberal. . .

Kevin Sutherland on race relations and the SC church shooting:

In my opinion there are few things that are more offensive to the victims of this crime than refusing to address the racism, much of which is institutionalized, glorified and celebrated in the South (including with the help of symbols like the Confederate flat), that cultivated this incident.

Kevin (right), a Democrat Party operative, was stabbed (40x) to death on a DC Metro train on July 4th by Jasper Spires (left).

I am posting FYI only.  I have no comment.

Nor have I.   Except to remark that Liberals will hate us even more because we refuse to be Kevin.

H/T to JPP


Filed under Defense, guns, history, Personal, Politics, stupid, Uncategorized, weapons

Iconic Photos

Welcome to the timesuck that is Iconic Photos.
Duke of Wellington, by Antoine Claudet, 1844.
Dresden after the fire bombing, by Richard Peter from the Rathaustrum.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, on the SS Great Eastern by Robert Howett, 1857.
Gurung honeyhunter, by Eric Valli, 1987.
Now I wish I’d kept some of the contact sheets from the NASA photographers. They don’t do that with digital photography.


Filed under history

Happy Birthday, George Orwell


Somewhat belatedly.  Born Eric Arthur Blair, in India, on June 25th, 1903.

It is hardly the man’s fault that his seminal work, written as a chilling dystopian warning regarding the destruction of liberty, has become an instruction manual for the far-Left “Liberal” Secular-Progressive Statists who now hold the levers of power in our once-great Republic.

He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”

“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”

“They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening.”

If you refuse to agree that 2 + 2 = 5, you are racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-child, and probably watch Fox News.


Filed under Around the web, Cold War, Defense, girls, helicopters, history, islam, leadership, obama, Personal, Politics, recruiting, terrorism, training, veterans, war, weapons

The Battle of Bunker Hill

The American Revolution kicked off with the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord, but the first real battle between the colonials and the British Army took place on this day in 1775 with the Battle of Bunker Hill (which was mostly fought on Breed’s Hill). British forces in Boston were besieged by colonial troops on the hills around the city. To consolidate their hold on the city, and gain control over the entrance to the harbor, the British sought to occupy the hills. The first two British assaults were bloodily repulsed. The third assault carried the hills mostly because the colonials ran out of ammunition. While the colonial forces were defeated and forced to retreat to Cambridge, the heavy losses of the British, about 200 dead and 800 wounded, sent a signal that the colonial forces were every bit the match for the redcoats.

File:The death of general warren at the battle of bunker hill.jpg

The battle also gives rise to one of my favorite (apocryphal) stories.

An American Marine officer found himself on temporary duty in England, and it came to pass that he was invited to the officer’s mess of one of the regiments that had fought at Bunker Hill. The British Army has a long, proud history, and the messes of the regiments are often repositories of many of the artifacts of that. And the British Army loves to take notice of the long history of many of its regiments, with a fierce unit pride that even the oldest US units can’t quite match.

And so, the British officer is proudly displaying these mementos to the American Marine, and comes across a flag captured from the colonials at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Alluding to the long service of the regiment, the Brit says, “And you’ll notice we still have the flag.”

The American calmly replies, “We still have the hill.”


Filed under history, Humor

The Last “Thousand Tonner”

USS Allen

Some of the most interesting curiosities in the history of naval warfare surround older warships remaining in service long after similar vessels have been retired.  Sometimes, the story of such ships is one of tragedy, like the three elderly Royal Navy cruisers sunk in the Channel by a German U-Boat in 1914, or the nearly-helpless Spanish wooden-hulled Castilla, quickly sunk at Manila Bay.  Other times, like with Oldendorf’s “Old Ladies” at Surigao Straits or the Iowas in Desert Storm, the veteran ships were found to still be plenty lethal.  One such curiosity is the unlikely tale of USS Allen, DD-66.

The rapid advances in Naval technology that spanned the last decade of the 19th Century and the first decade of the 20th included generational leaps in warship design, hastened further by the outbreak of war in 1914.  Nowhere was this more manifest than in the smallest of the combatant ships of the world’s navies, the destroyer.  Originally the “torpedo boat destroyer” built to protect larger ships of the battle line from the speedy small craft and their ship-killing weapons, powered torpedoes, soon these “torpedo boat destroyers” became the carriers of torpedoes themselves, then called simply, “destroyers”.

US destroyer construction in the early part of the century followed apace with designs elsewhere.  Small, largely coastal craft evolved into the 700-ton “flivvers” and later, the “thousand-tonners” of the O’Brien, Tucker, and Sampson classes.   Despite being almost new, these 26 ships of the latter three classes had proven barely suitable for the requirements of destroyer service in a modern war at sea.  Among the first US ships to attach to the Royal Navy in 1917, by the end of the war they were hopelessly outdated, as the British W and V classes, and the latest German destroyers, were significantly larger, much faster,  far more capable warships.

Following the Armistice, almost all the “thousand tonners” were quickly decommissioned, as they were replaced in service with the “flush-decker” Wickes and Clemson classes, of which an astounding 267 were built (though few were completed in time for war service).   A number of the obsolescent “thousand tonners” were given to the US Coast Guard, where they served into the 1930s.  Most, however, were scrapped or sunk as targets.  Most, but not all.

One unit of the Sampsons, USS Allen, DD-66, was placed back in commission,  to serve as a training ship for US Navy Reserve personnel.  She would serve in this role between 1925 and 1928, after which she returned to the Reserve Fleet in Philadelphia.   Allen was retained even while a number of her younger and far more capable “flush-decker” sisters were scrapped.  As war clouds loomed, Allen was selected to be recommissioned, in the summer of 1940.  She must have been an exceptionally well-maintained vessel.  Even with that, the choice to recommission Allen was a curious one.  She and her sisters were designed before the First World War, and still reflected the “torpedo boat destroyer” mission in her layout and systems.


USS Allen 9

After some time in the Atlantic, Allen was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, which had recently moved to Pearl Harbor.  She was present and fired her only shots of the war during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.  Lacking adequate endurance and weapons, Allen spent the war escorting vessels between the Hawaiian Islands, helping to train submarine crews by acting as a mock sub chaser, and she made the occasional voyage back to the US West Coast.  In the course of the war, Allen had her antiaircraft armament considerably augmented, with six 20mm cannon, and she lost at least one set of torpedo tubes.  She gained depth charge throwers, and even a modest air search radar.   I could find no reference to her being fitted with sonar of any kind, however.  (And if Norman Friedman didn’t say it happened, it didn’t happen!)

USS Allen 10

Immediately following the war, of course, the worn-out and thoroughly obsolete Allen was quickly decommissioned, in the fall of 1945, and just as quickly sold for scrap.   She is shown above, disarmed and awaiting disposal.  At the time of her decommissioning, she was the oldest US destroyer in commission, and the last survivor of her class and type.   Built to specifications which dated to before US entry into the First World War, USS Allen would serve through the Second, a throwback of four generations of destroyer design.  A remarkable record of service indeed.


Filed under air defense, Coast Guard, Defense, engineering, guns, history, navy, ships, training, veterans, war, weapons, World War II