The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Polish Engineer that saved America

I shamelessly clipped this from "Angry Staff Officer".  I actually knew of Thaddeus, I remembered studying the American Revolution, he was one of the foreigners that were invaluable to the fledgling Army along with Von Steuben who taught the American Army how to fight on the European model and stand up to the redcoats and Marquis De Lafayette who was one of General Washington's most spirited generals and supporters. 

Thaddeus Kosciusko: The Polish Engineer You Never Heard of who Saved America

So, we know all about the heroes of the American Revolution, right? George Washington, John Adams, Paul Revere – OK, well, not him, he was a good silversmith, an average errand rider, and a godawful general. But odds are you probably haven’t heard of Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kosciuszko. Nor can you spell it or pronounce it; join the club, but we’re working on it.
Thaddeus Kosciusko was born in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (long story, don’t ask) in 1746, the youngest son of a member of the nobility, aka, “not going to inherit anything, might as well join the army.” Accordingly, he popped off to Warsaw in 1765 to go be a cadet, commissioning in 1766, and made captain by 1768. Which was an awkward year to make captain, because the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth decided to celebrate his promotion with a civil war to overthrow the king. Kosciusko decided that discretion was the better part of valor and headed off to France in 1769.
His purpose was to continue his military education, but as foreigners were not allowed to attend the French military academies, he opted to study art and architecture instead. Sort of a weird diversion there. But he still attended military lectures and read works of military theory, while also hanging out with members of the French Enlightenment, as one does.
In 1772, Russia, Prussia, and Austria do that national tradition of theirs: annexing bits of Poland and Lithuania. Kosciusko went home, to find that the family was basically bankrupt. To raise some cash, he began tutoring the family of the provincial government and predictably fell in love with the governor’s daughter. They attempted elopement in 1775, got caught, and Kosciusko got some severe treatment at the hands of her father’s bodyguards. This may have had something to do with his disdain for class hierarchy that he would develop in life.
With all this hanging over his head, Kosciusko decided that some fresh air would be good – specifically any air that wasn’t being breathed by the provincial governor. So in 1776, he decided to go off and check out this whole American Revolution thing. Sympathetic to the American cause, he offered his services to the Continental Congress, who assigned him to the Army the next day. Hey, when you’re trying to build an army out of nothing, talent management moves very quickly.
By October of 1776, Kosciusko is a colonel of engineers – that whole art and architecture thing – and does some work in Pennsylvania and Maryland. But it’s in 1777 that Kosciusko really gets his chance, when he’s assigned as the engineer for the Northern Army in upstate New York. He arrives at Fort Ticonderoga in the spring of 1777 and conducts an inspection of the fortifications as well as those on Mount Independence, a fortified point across the strait of Lake Champlain on the Vermont side. Although an artist, Kosciusko is no dummy and asks why no one is fortifying nearby Mount Defiance, which basically controls both Ticonderoga and Independence. General Arthur St. Clair, the commanding general of the garrisons, stated that there was no way to get guns up there.  Spoiler alert: of course there was.
Enter General John Burgoyne, aka “Gentleman Johnny,” with his British army coming down Lake Champlain in July, who sends his own troops up Mount Defiance because, in his words, “where a goat can go a man can go, and where a man can go he can drag a gun.” Which is ironic, because that’s how the cannon from Ticonderoga had moved from there to Boston in 1775. With artillery on Mount Defiance, Ticonderoga and Independence become untenable and St. Clair evacuates them, leaving Lake Champlain wide open for the British to cruise on into New York. By the way, we’ll meet St. Clair after the war when he heads up one of the worst defeats in U.S. military history, but that’s another story.
Kosciusko , in all this, is doing what an engineer does best: making life difficult for the enemy. In Burgoyne’s way, he fells trees, blows up bridges, dams streams, and does anything he can to slow the British movement. It works. These obstacle belts buy enough time for Kosciusko to select a good defensive position for the Northern Army at Bemis Heights, near the town of Saratoga. His fortifications play a major role in defeating Burgoyne’s army at the Battle of Saratoga – one of the keys to bringing international recognition to the revolution, and causing France to enter the war. Not bad for an art major…who also found time to compose a polonaise for harpsichord during that year. Because why the hell not.
From the northern campaign, Kosciusko now heads to West Point, which was then a fortified position on the Hudson rather than a factory for over-inflated egos, I mean, stellar officers. In 1780, Kosciusko requested to go back into a combat role, which Washington granted, sending him to the Southern Army. Now, the war in the south was going less than well, so Kosciusko spent most of his time scouting river crossings, gathering intelligence, and building the boats that the Continental Army would use to cross rivers while being chased by a superior British force. He helped pick the site where the Battle of Guilford Courthouse took place, which resulted in a tactical win for the British but a strategic win for the Americans. If that seems confusing, just think Bunker Hill: too many British casualties. This turned the tide of the war in the south.
Kosciusko would continue campaigning through 1781 and 1782 as the war in the south continued on a slow burn, with negotiations dragging on in Paris. During this time, he unsuccessfully laid siege to the British fort at the weirdly-named town of Ninety-Six, South Carolina. It was during this siege that he receives his only wound – a bayonet stab in the butt during a British attack on a trench he was building. One can only imagine the jokes surrounding this incident.
Kosciusko returns to Poland in 1784, with the war concluded, and an essentially useless certificate for pay from the U.S. government which is basically insolvent at this point. Finding the family still bankrupt, he helps to buy back some of the land and then institutes basic reforms of serfdom – essentially curtailing it on his estate. Which leads to it going under because of debt. By 1789, he gets a commission from the king as a major general. Here he lobbies for military reforms as well as social reforms, to allow peasants and Jews full citizenship as that would motivate their defense of Poland in the event of war. I know, crazy idea, right? But while there is some limited reform of the government, but Kosciusko doesn’t see that it goes far enough.
Still, it is radical enough that some in Poland decide that it’s too radical and ask Russia for help in overthrowing the government. Russia is, of course, all too happy to hop back into Poland and on May 18, 1792, a 100,000-man Russian army invades Poland. In a series of delaying actions, Kosciusko – now commanding a division – manages to inflict several defeats on larger Russian forces, winning the highest military award that Poland has at the time. His skillful defensive operations and the way he can read terrain allow him to out-general his Russian opponents – defeating an army of 25,000 with just over 5,000 of his own men at Dubienka. For this, he receives a promotion to lieutenant general. Still, the Polish are forced to retreat, and on July 24, 1792, the king capitulates and orders his armies to cease hostilities.
Annoyed at having to face defeat when his forces had never actually been defeated, Kosciusko leaves Poland and heads to Leipzig, where a group of Polish emigres have been plotting a revolution – as one does. Attempting to gain French assistance, Kosciusko arrives in Paris in 1793 – a Paris that has its own revolution brewing. However, he sees that no help will arrive from this quarter and returns to Leipzig. At the same time, Prussia and Russia once again partition Poland, their great national pastime, leaving Poland an embarrassing 77,000 square miles. They humiliate Poland, forcing her to reduce her military and incorporate large parts of it into the Russian army.
Substantially ticked off, Kosciusko slips by Tsarist patrols and enters Krakow in March of 1794. On March 24, he casually kicks off an uprising from the Main Square and begins building an army of volunteers, including untrained peasants as well as former members of the regular army. Throughout the spring and summer, he wages war against Russian forces, winning small victories but nothing large enough to turn the tide. Prussia of course hops in on this thing, and now Kosciusko is faced with a two-front war. On October 10, he is wounded and captured. This pretty much takes the heart out of the uprising, and Russia and Prussia annex what’s left of Poland – ending the Polish state for the next 123 years.
Fortunately for Kosciusko, Catherine the Great kicks the bucket in November of 1796, and Tsar Paul I frees Kosciusko and pardons him. Kosciusko calls it quits on this whole European thing and heads back to the U.S. in 1797. Here, the Federalist U.S. government gives him a lukewarm welcome because of his association with the French Revolution. However, he strikes up a firm friendship with Thomas Jefferson. But just one year later, Kosciusko is back in France, having received word that the Poles are siding with Napoleon to try to kick Prussia and Russia out and regain sovereignty. Kosciusko leaves his estate with Jefferson, with the express desire that his money go to the freeing of American slaves – including Jefferson’s – and their education. Predictably, Jefferson won’t do this. The bequest gets held up in courts – including the U.S. Supreme Court – until 1856. Go figure.
Meanwhile, Kosciusko arrives in France to find that the French government and Napoleon really don’t care about Polish sovereignty at all. After the fall of Bonaparte in 1815, Kosciusko travels to Russia to negotiate with the Tsar for an independent Polish state, with borders restored to their 1792 status, as well as social reforms. The Tsar instead creates the Kingdom of Poland, a tiny vassal state that Kosciusko descries as “a joke.” Thoroughly frustrated, Kosciusko moves to Switzerland. In 1817, he attempts to emancipate the peasants on his remaining lands back home, but the Tsar refuses to allow it. In obstinate pique, Kosciusko dies on October 15, 1817.
As his retribution to the Tsar, the Federalists, and Napoleon, Kosciusko will be one of the most well-beloved and memorialized Poles in history, with monuments to him in his native Poland – he has his own mound in Krakow, composed of earth from the battlefields where he fought – bridges named for him in Albany and New York City, his home in Philadelphia becoming the smallest U.S. National Park, and a museum at his residence in Switzerland. There are statues of him in Washington, D.C., Krakow, Lodz, Boston, West Point, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Belarus, and Solothurn, Switzerland. He also is the namesake for the tallest mountain in Australia.
He’s one of many foreign volunteers without whom the U.S. probably wouldn’t exist. He’s also unique in that he was a social reformer who was an abolitionist before it was cool. The dude lived a metal life and I have no idea why there hasn’t been a movie made about him.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Developing Situational Awareness

I have blogged before about Gibbs's rules  , a character from the show NCIS on how to handle things and also Moscow Rules about how to be observant when you are an agent working on Moscow where the most feared anti-espionage system ever created existed to foil the agents from the West.  This is an article on how to increase your situational awareness.  I remember doings "Kim's game" when I was a boy scout.  It was a cool exercise on memory retention.  I saw this article on "Arts of Manliness".

10 Tests, Exercises, and Games to Heighten Your Senses and Situational Awareness

car accident on road two cars illustration
  • How many people total were involved in this accident?
  • How many males and how many females?
  • What color were the two cars?
  • What objects were lying on the ground?
  • What injury did the man on the ground seem to be suffering from?
  • What was the license plate number of one of the cars?
How did you do on this little test? Not as well as you would have liked? Perhaps it’s time you strengthened your powers of observation and heightened your situational awareness.
Enhancing one’s observational abilities has numerous benefits: it helps you live more fully in the present, notice interesting and delightful phenomena you would have otherwise missed, seize opportunities that disappear as quickly as they arrive, and keep you and your loved ones safe.
Today we’re going to offer some games, tests, and exercises that will primarily center on that latter advantage: having the kind of situational awareness that can help you prevent and handle potentially dangerous and critical situations. But the benefits of practicing them will certainly carry over into all other aspects of your life as well.
Ready to start heightening your senses and building your powers of observation? Read on.

Situational Awareness and Your Senses

five senses sight hearing smell touch taste illustration
Strengthening your situational awareness involves making sure all of your senses are turned on and fully tuned into your environment. It seems like your mind and body do this automatically — aren’t you seeing, smelling, and hearing everything around you, all the time?
But when someone asks you something like, “What’s your license plate number?” and you draw a blank, you quickly realize that it’s possible to have looked at something hundreds of times without ever seeing it.
In fact, while our brain gives us the feeling that we’re taking in the whole picture of our environment from moment to moment, this is an illusion. We’re really only paying attention to some sets of stimuli, while ignoring others.
Thus, if you want to strengthen your situational awareness, you have to be truly intentional about it — you have to consciously think about utilizing and directing all your senses to a greater degree. You have to train for observation. And the first step in doing so, is getting reacquainted with the powers and pitfalls of your senses:


Seeing is what we typically think of when we think of observation, and it’s what we lean on the most to make sense of our world. Yet what our eyes take in is also not as accurate as our brains would have us believe. Eyewitness accounts of crimes are notoriously unreliable, and famous studies — like the one in which folks are asked to concentrate on people passing a basketball back and forth, and in so doing miss a man in a gorilla suit walking through the picture — show us that we can look right at something, without actually seeing it.
These blind spots are due to the fact that our eyes don’t operate like cameras that record scenes just as they unfold; rather, our brains take in a number of different shots, and then interpret and assemble them together to form a coherent picture. Left on autopilot, our brain ignores many things in our environment, deeming them unimportant in creating this image.
Nevertheless, sight is an incredibly vital part of our situational awareness arsenal — especially if we train ourselves to look for things we’d normally miss. Our eyes tell us if someone looks suspicious or if something is out of place in our hotel room (indicating someone’s been there in our absence); they spot peculiar features of a landscape to help us create a mental map to guide us home from a hike; they take footage of the exits in a building or of a crime that we can remember later.


As sight-driven creatures, we take in a ton of information with our eyes (as much as a third of our brain’s processing power goes towards handling visual input), and most of us feel we’d rather lose our hearing than our sight.
But hearing is far more essential to keeping track of and understanding what’s going on around us than we realize — especially when it comes to staying safe. Our hearing is incredibly attuned to our surroundings and functions as our brain’s first response system, notifying us of things to pay attention to and fundamentally shaping our perception of what’s happening around us. As neuroscientist Seth Horowitz explains:
“You hear anywhere from twenty to one hundred times faster than you see so that everything that you perceive with your ears is coloring every other perception you have, and every conscious thought you have. Sound gets in so fast that it modifies all the other input and sets the stage for it.”
Our hearing is so fast because its circuitry isn’t as widely dispersed in the brain as the visual system is, and because it’s hooked into the brain’s most basic “primal” parts. Noises hit us right in the gut and trigger a visceral emotional response.
The quickness and sharpness of our hearing evolved from its survival advantage. At night, in dense forests, and underneath murky waters, our sight greatly diminishes or completely fails us, and we can’t see anything beyond our field of vision. But our ears can still pick up sensory input in darkness, around corners, and through water in order to build a mental picture of what’s going on.
Noises are nothing more than vibrations, and we’re completely surrounded by them every day. But just like with sight, your ears can be listening to tons of sounds in your environment, without your brain really hearing them; your antennae are always up, but they don’t always send a signal to pay attention. Such signals only register in your conscious awareness when they’re particularly salient (as in when you hear your name said at a busy party), or when they break the usual pattern/tone/rhythm that your brain expects (like when there’s a scream, crash, or explosion, or someone is talking in a strange/suspicious way).
We can tune into more sounds than we usually hear by “perking up” our ears, concentrating, and trying to distinguish and pull out noises we’re usually “ear-blind” to.


In comparison to our senses of sight and hearing, smell doesn’t get much attention and respect. It’s our oldest sense, and we tend to think of it moreso with animals than ourselves — like the wolf that can smell its prey almost 2 miles away.
While dogs indeed have a sense of smell that’s 10,000-100,00X more powerful than ours, the human sense of smell is nothing to, well, sniff at. Humans have the ability to detect one trillion distinct scents. And while our other senses have to be processed by numerous synapses before reaching the amygdala and hippocampus and eliciting a reaction, smell connects with the brain directly, and thus gets deeply attached to our emotions and long-term memories. This is why catching a whiff of something from long ago can instantly transport you back in time.
These ingrained, smell-induced memories serve the same kind of survival purpose in humans as they do in animals — to identify family and mates, find food, and be alerted to possible threats. Our sense of smell is able to distinguish blood kin by scent, and not only can it identify danger through picking up the scents of smoke, death, gas, etc., but can even pick up on fear, stress, and disgust in fellow humans.
Indeed, while the human sense of smell isn’t up to par with animals, studies have shown that we can track a scent trail in the same way dogs do, and that the reason we’re not better at it than we are, is that it’s a skill that has to be developed through practice. Consummate outdoorsman of days gone by who were highly observant of their surroundings often reported becoming able to track an animal by scent.
While both animals and humans process smell in automatic ways — when the smell of freshly baked cookies hits you, your tummy instinctively grumbles — human smell is in one way superior to the animal variety: we have the ability to consciously analyze smells and interpret what they might mean.
Smell can thus help you identify friend or foe, navigate an area — if we’re close to a factory or dump or a grove of pines or the campfire of home base, our nose will let us know — and even track game.

Touch & Taste

Touch and taste are two senses that are incredibly enriching for those seeking to live more mindfully and fully immerse themselves in their experiences. But for the purposes of being situationally aware of risk and danger, you won’t use them as much. Touch can come in handy though when you’re trying to navigate in the dark, and must let the sensations of your feet and hands lead the way.

Training for Observation: 10 Tests, Exercises, and Games You Can Play to Strengthen Your Situational Awareness 

“As a Scout, you should make it a point to see and observe more than the average person.” —Scout Field Book, 1948
If our senses are truly as amazing as we’ve just described, and what holds us back from using them more is allowing them to default to autopilot, then we have to find ways to intentionally exercise and challenge them in order to give them full play.
Mastering situational awareness involves learning how to observe, interpret, and remember. The following exercises, tests, and games are designed to strengthen these skills while activating the latent powers of your senses.

Some of the games and exercises can be practiced alone, while others would work best in groups, such as a club, gathering of friends, or Boy Scout troop (several of the ideas in fact come from the 1948 edition of the Boy Scout Fieldbook). The games are also great to do as a family — they’ll keep your kids entertained without your having to reach for the smartphone!

1. “Kim’s Game”

In Rudyard Kipling famous novel Kim, Kimball O’Hara, an Irish teenager, undergoes training to be a spy for the British Secret Service. As part of this training, he is mentored by Lurgan Sahib, an ostensible owner of a jewelry store in British India, who is really doing espionage work against the Russians.
Lurgan invites both his boy servant and Kim to play the “Jewel Game.” The shopkeeper lays 15 jewels out on a tray, has the two young men look at them for a minute, and then covers the stones with a newspaper. The servant, who has practiced the game many times before, is easily able to name and exactly describe all the jewels under the paper, and can even accurately guess the weight of each stone. Kim, however, struggles with his recall and cannot transcribe a complete list of what lies under the paper.
Kim protests that the servant is more familiar with jewels than he is, and asks for a rematch. This time the tray is lined with odds and ends from the shop and kitchen. But the servant’s memory easily beats Kim’s once again, and he even wins a match in which he only feels the objects while blindfolded before they are covered up.
Both humbled and intrigued, Kim wishes to know how the boy has become such a master of the game. Lurgan answers: “By doing it many times over till it is done perfectly — for it is worth doing.”
Over the next 10 days, Kim and the servant practice over and over together, using all different kinds of objects — jewels, daggers, photographs, and more. Soon, Kim’s powers of observation come to rival his mentor’s.
Today this game is known as “Kim’s Game” and it is played both by Boy Scouts and by military snipers to increase their ability to notice and remember details. It’s an easy game to execute: have someone place a bunch of different objects on a table (24 is a good number), study them for a minute, and then cover them with a cloth. Now write down as many of the objects as you can remember. You should be able to recall at least 16 or more.
Here’s an opportunity to play Kim’s Game right now: look at the illustration below for 60 seconds, then scroll past it, and see how many objects you can remember!
kim's game situational awareness test 24 odd objects illustration
How did you do? Better keep practicing!

2. Expand and Enhance Your Field of Vision

Most of us, though we don’t realize it, walk around with tunnel vision. We’re concentrating on a few things directly around or ahead of us, and everything else drops out of our line of sight. So when you’re walking around, remind yourself to take in more than you usually do. Intentionally look for details in your environment you’d ordinarily overlook. Take note of peculiar features in the landscape, what people are wearing, side roads, alleyways, car makes and models, signs, graffiti on the wall — whatever.
To practice expanding your field of vision when you walk, follow these tips from the Boy Scout Fieldbook:
“Learn to scan the ground in front of you…Let your eyes roam slowly in a half-circle from right to left over a narrow strip of land directly before you. Then sweep them from left to right over the ground farther away. By continuing in this way you can cover the whole field thoroughly.”

3. What’s That Sound?

Put up a blanket in the corner of the room. Then take turns standing behind it and making noises with random objects that the rest of the group has to try to identify. The more obscure and challenging the noises people can come up with, the better — think striking a match, peeling an apple, sharpening a knife, combing your hair, etc.  

4. Eyewitness Test

Invite someone who your Scouts/friends don’t know to a group gathering. Have them come in for a few minutes and then leave. Then have everyone write down a physical description of the stranger and see how accurate they are.

5. Navigate by Touch and Feel

Can you dress yourself quickly in a pitch black room? Can you walk through the dark woods without a flashlight? Can you walk around the house blindfolded? Practice maneuvering and navigating without the use of your eyes.

6. Whose Nose Knows?

Have one member of a family/group fill paper cups with a variety of fragrant materials — orange rinds, onion, coffee, spices (cinnamon, pepper, garlic, etc.), grass, Hoppes No. 9 (any of the sources of these manly smells are good candidates) and so on. Then hand the cups to blindfolded participants, who take a sniff, and pass the cup on. Once the cup has been re-collected by the facilitator, the participants write down what they smelled.

7. Feel It

Similar to #6, but place different odds and ends into a box that then gets passed around. The participants have to feel the object and identify it from touch alone.

8. Observation Scavenger Hunt

This is a great one to do with kids, and can turn a long walk in the woods or the city, in which they might be prone to complain, into a fun game, and chance to strengthen their powers of observation! Before you set out, come up with a list of things the kids need to find; for example, on a nature walk you could put down things like a bush with berries, a bird’s nest, moss, a pine cone, etc. As you walk along, the kids will be on the lookout for the listed items, and every time they’re the first to spy one, they can mark another item off their list. See who can find the most things. It doesn’t have to be a competition either; you can all look for the items together as a family and simply keep one checklist.

9. Exit Interview

When you go to a restaurant or other place of business with your family, make a note of a few things about your environment: the number of workers behind the counter, the clothing and gender of the person sitting next to you, how many entrances/exits there are, etc. When you leave and get into the car to head home, ask your kids questions like “How many workers were behind the counter?” “Was the person sitting next to us a man or a woman?” “What color was his/her shirt?” “How many exits were there?”

10. People Watching With a Purpose

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study In Scarlet, Dr. Watson first becomes apprised as to his future companion’s keen powers of observation and deduction. When the pair notices a man walking down the street looking at addresses and carrying a large envelope, Holmes immediately identifies the stranger as a retired Marine sergeant. After the message bearer affirms this identity, Watson is entirely startled at Holmes’ observational powers. “How in the world did you deduce that?” he asks. The detective then offers this explanation:
“It was easier to know it than to explain why I know it. If you were asked to prove that two and two made four, you might find some difficulty, and yet you are quite sure of the fact. Even across the street I could see a great, blue anchor tattooed on the back of the fellow’s hand. That smacked of the sea. He had a military carriage, however, and regulation side-whiskers. There we have the marine. He was a man with some amount of self-importance and a certain air of command. You must have observed the way in which he held his head and swung his cane. A steady, respectable, middle-aged man, too, on the face of him — all facts which led me to believe that he had been a sergeant.”
“Wonderful!” Dr. Watson exclaims.
“Commonplace,” Holmes replies.
If you’d like powers of deduction similar to the resident of 221B Baker St., practice people watching with more deliberation than is usually lent the pastime. Notice the clothing, tattoos, and accessories of passersby, and observe their manners and how they carry themselves. Then try to guess their background and occupation.
With enough practice in this and the other exercises and games outlined above, your senses will be heightened, your powers of observation will increase, and your situational awareness will be strengthened. Soon you’ll be able to say with Holmes: “I have trained myself to notice what I see.”

Monday, July 15, 2019

Monday Music "You can't Hurry Love" by Phil Collins.

I remember seeing this song making the playlist on MTV, it was a very good song and I loved the simple video that showed Phil singing the song.  I didn't know that it was a remake until later.  I heard the supremes version and it is very good but for some reason I liked Phil Collins version better.  Perhaps it is because it I heard it first. 

Hello, I Must Be Going! is the second solo studio album by English drummer and singer-songwriter Phil Collins. It was released on 5 November 1982 on Virgin Records in the United Kingdom and on Atlantic Records in North America, and named after the Marx Brothers' song of the same name. After his band Genesis took a break in activity in late 1981, Collins started work on a follow-up to his first solo album Face Value (1981).
Hello, I Must Be Going! received a more reserved commercial reaction than Face Value, but it nonetheless reached No. 2 in the United Kingdom and No. 8 in the United States. In total, Collins released eight singles from the album, with various tracks released as singles in different countries. The most successful was the first US and second UK single, a cover of "You Can't Hurry Love" by The Supremes which went to No. 1 in the United Kingdom and No. 10 in the United States. Collins supported the album with his 1982–1983 tour, his first as a solo artist. The album earned Collins a Brit Award nomination for British Male Artist in 1983, and "I Don't Care Anymore" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male.

The most notable cover of the song was released in late 1982 as a single by Phil Collins from his second solo album, Hello, I Must Be Going! Collins's version reached number-one on the UK Singles Chart (becoming his first number-one solo hit in the UK Singles Chart, and peaking two positions higher than the original song did in that country), and reached number 10 in the United States. The single was certified gold in the UK.
Although Collins had previously done covers as album tracks (of Genesis's "Behind the Lines" and The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" on Face Value), "You Can't Hurry Love" was the first cover he released as a single. Collins explained:
The idea of doing 'Can't Hurry Love' was to see if Hugh Padgham and I could duplicate that Sixties sound. It's very difficult today because most recording facilities are so much more sophisticated than they were back then. It's therefore hard to make the drums sound as rough as they did on the original. That's what we were going after, a remake, not an interpretation, but a remake.
Collins's version was the first track on the very first Now That's What I Call Music compilation CD. In the first verse, he changes "And I need to find, find / Someone to call mine" to "And I need to find time / Someone to call mine." On the second repeat of the chorus, he replaces the line "How much more can I take?" with "How much more must I take?", and likewise exchanges the words, "...trust in the good Lord..." to "...trust in a good time...".

In 1983, the music video was released on the home video Phil Collins available on Video Home System (VHS) and LaserDisc (LD) which received a Grammy nomination for Best Video, Short Form.  The video itself was also the first track featured on the first VHS compilation of Now: That's What I Call Music.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Characteristics of an Educated Man

The title is a bit of a misnomer,   I know many people that have degrees but are educated beyond their ability to comprehend.  I have a  good friend named *Shelldude* that has a high school education but spends a lot of time expanding his education and horizon and he is educated in what I call "The classic method".  My friend is well read and continues to work at bettering his knowledge and understanding and it is leavened by common sense and practical experience.   His education is comparable to the learned men of old that really didn't have universities to attend, but learned by doing and learning on his own.  Many people have lost that ability  and they just parrot what is talked about in their echo chambers.  People used to be educated in the classic greek model which used a lot of logic to formulate an opinion.  Now people used ideological dogma to form their knowledge base and that is a failure to them and the people that they expose.    I don't know how to fix this except to reform the educational system and stress the classics again and get rid of all the "fluff". 
    I shamelessly cribbed this from Art of Manliness.

schweppes man icon at bar with woman drinking
What defines an educated man? The number of degrees he has? The size of his vocabulary? How many books he’s read?
The qualities that constitute an educated man can be argued over and debated. But I was really taken with the description I found in the book How to Live the Good Life by Commander Edward Whitehead (the Schweppes guy!). He said:
“An educated man has been defined as one who can entertain himself, one who can entertain another, and one who can entertain a new idea.”
Let’s take a look at each of these characteristics.

Can Entertain Himself

“Only those who want everything done for them are bored.” –Billy Graham
vintage man sitting in chair by fire reading book
“I’m bored!” is the plaintive cry uttered by many a child idling away their summer vacation or fall break. They expect their parents to come up with an activity to cure this boredom (if your mom was like mine, she would always make a wry suggestion like, “How about cleaning up your room?”).
Unfortunately, many men never outgrow this need to be entertained by others and don’t develop into manly self-starters. This is the man who puts his head down on the dinner table as people talk after eating (I’ve seen it), the college student who grouses his way through a class outing to the local museum, and the houseguest who comes to visit your fair city and has no idea what he’d like to do during his stay; he leaves all the planning to you.
The reason that children are perennially bored is not that there aren’t entertainment options available—they’re often surrounded by toys and games—but that they have such short attention spans. They play with one thing for a little bit and then another, and then don’t know what else to do. The educated man is able to lose himself in a task, a hobby, a conversation, or a book because he has developed his powers of focus and concentration.
“When people are bored, it is primarily with themselves.” –Eric Hoffer
Of course these days, with an iPhone always at hand, amusing yourself isn’t very difficult. Anyone can surf or text the boredom away. The real test for the modern educated man is the ability to entertain himself when technology isn’t available or is not socially acceptable to whip out. Can you entertain yourself at a boring meeting, while camping, while conversing at a dinner party? The educated man can, and he does it, ironically enough, by retaining an important ability of his childhood—curiosity. The educated man is insatiably curious about the world around him and other people. In any situation, he sees something to learn, study, and observe. If he’s stuck somewhere with neither phone nor company,  he uses the time to untangle a philosophical problem he’s been wrestling with; the mind of the educated man is a repository of ideas that he can pull out and examine to pass the time in any situation.

Can Entertain a Friend

vintage men talking laughing across from each other
If someone is of the dull, non-self-starting kind, lucky is he to have a friend who is an educated man to entertain him!
The educated man is the life of the party, the man who keeps the conversation lively and is known to be unfailingly engaging.
He is able to do this because of the breadth of his reading and his experiences. He has an arsenal of interesting tales at the ready about his travels and endeavors. And he’s up on the latest news stories and interesting scientific break-throughs.  No matter the demographics of the group he’s with, he knows a story that will appeal to them.
Abraham Lincoln is a good example of an educated man who could entertain others. Though Lincoln only had one year of formal education, he read voraciously and dedicated himself to lifelong learning. The result was the ability to talk to anybody about anything and leave them entertained. Adeline Judd, the wife of Illinois Congressman Norman Judd, recounted an experience of being entertained one evening by the musings of Abe Lincoln:
“Mr. Lincoln, whose home,” she writes, “was far inland from the Great Lakes, seemed stirred by the wondrous beauty of the scene and by its very impressiveness was carried away from all thoughts of the earth. In that high-pitched but smooth-toned voice he began to speak of the mystery which for ages enshrouded and shut out those distant worlds above us from our own; of the poetry and beauty which was seen and felt by seers of old when they contemplated Orion and Arcturus as they wheeled seemingly around the earth in their mighty course; of the discoveries since the invention of the telescope which had thrown a flood of light and knowledge on what before was incomprehensible and mysterious; of the wonderful computations of scientists who had measured the miles of seemingly endless space which separated the planets in our solar system from our central sun and our sun from other suns which were now gemming the heavens above us with their resplendent beauty.”
“When the night air became too chilly to remain longer on the piazza, we went into the parlor where, seated on the sofa his long limbs stretching across the carpet and his arms folded about him, Mr. Lincoln went on to speak of the discoveries and inventions which had been made during the long lapse of time between the present and those early days when man began to make use of the material things about him. He speculated upon the possibilities of the knowledge which an increased power of the lens would give in the years to come, and then the wonderful discoveries of late centuries, as proving that beings endowed with such capabilities as man must be immortal and created for some high and noble end by Him who had spoken these numberless worlds into existence.”
“We were all indescribably impressed,” continues Mrs. Judd, “by Mr. Lincoln’s conversation. After he had gone Mr. Judd remarked: ‘The more I see of Mr. Lincoln the more I am surprised at the range of his attainments and the wonderful store of knowledge he has acquired in the various departments of science and learning during the years of his constant labor at the bar. A professor at Yale could not have been more entertaining and instructive.'”
Of course among the many subjects the educated man has studied is that of human behavior and psychology, so he knows that people are most charmed when others seemed interested in them. Here Lincoln also excelled; as one of his biographers noted, “Like all truly great men he was a good listener.”
While we’re on the subject, I’d also add that a man should be able to tell a good joke. I guess it’s gone out of fashion to tell real jokes, but I still enjoy them.

Can Entertain a New Idea

vintage businessmen pondering looking at papers
This might seem like the easiest one…how hard is it to be open-minded, right?
Well recent research into the way our minds work has shown that far from being the rational beings we flatter ourselves into believing we are, unbeknownst to us, our unconscious is constantly shaping our thoughts, beliefs, and motivations in irrational ways. For example because of “the backfire effect,” when we’re presented with evidence that contradicts our beliefs, instead of changing those beliefs, they become even more entrenched. “The confirmation bias” makes us seek out and only pay attention to new information that confirms our preexisting notions, while we let information that contradicts those notions go over our heads. And “the sunk-cost fallacy” pushes us to stick with a less sensible or desirable option instead of choosing something better, because we’ve already invested time, money, or emotion in it.
In other words, our unconscious minds see our personal ideas as a great treasure, and competing ideas as would-be looters; when they’re detected by the unconscious’ security system, it unleashes the dogs and locks the gate. If you look at a brain scan of people who are listening to a political argument that contradicts their own position, the blood in the part of the brain responsible for rational thought is depleted and is not replenished until the person hears a statement that confirms their position. When confronted with new ideas, your brain literally closes up shop and throws down the blinds until a friendly and well-known visitor knocks at the door.
All of which is to say, the ability to entertain new ideas does not come naturally. Your conscious mind has to turn off the unconscious’ security system and say, “Okay, I know what’s going on here. Let’s not be so hasty. I’m not sure if that’s a looter or a new friend. Why don’t we first check and see?”
Entertaining a new idea doesn’t necessarily mean accepting it and changing your beliefs every time you’re presented with a different take on things. As it has been said, “Be opened-minded, but not so open-minded that your brain falls out.”
Rather, you should entertain an idea in the same way you entertain a guest. You talk with him in a public setting first, at a distance. If you’re intrigued, you then invite him over for a chat. You spend some time getting to know him. And if he turns out to be a bad apple, you stop letting him come around. But sometimes, the person you didn’t think you had anything in common with becomes your new best friend.
The educated man has an easier time in seeing this. His varied experiences and studies have given him multiple opportunities to see how the information he has learned has changed his opinions–even if it took those new ideas a long time to be invited in. The sheltered man who only interacts with people just like him and only reads things that confirm his preconceived ideas will not have these experiences to draw upon, and will thus greet all new ideas like menacing strangers, shaking his fist at them from the safety of the other side of his crocodile-infested moat.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Great White Fleet

I had blogged a couple of days ago about the Virginius affair and the effect that it had on the U.S. Navy and American diplomacy,  I remembered reading about the "Great white Fleet in Elementary school and there was a picture of the ships sailing and gleaming all in white and gold trim.
On the warm, cloudy morning of Dec. 16, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt stood on the weather-deck of the presidential yacht Mayflower, anchored in the waters off Hampton Roads, Va. He flashed his famous broad, toothy smile and thought how "bully" it was to see a mighty armada of US battleships passing in review before him. The President, and indeed the throngs of onlookers gathered on shore, felt a great sense of pride and exhilaration as 16 battleships of the US Atlantic Fleet, all painted white, save for gilded bows, steamed in a long majestic column out of Hampton Roads to the open sea, flanked by their attending auxiliary ships.
Image of USS Connecticut (BB-18), leading the Atlantic Fleet to Sea, circa December 1907, probably at the start of the cruise around the world. NH 100349

USS Connecticut (BB-18), leading the Atlantic Fleet to Sea, circa December 1907, probably at the start of the cruise around the world

To the familiar strains of "The Girl I left Behind Me," the procession of battlewagons passed before the President at 400-yard intervals with their crews smartly manning the rails. This newly designated battle fleet was made up of ships commissioned since the end of the Spanish-American War. They were USS Kearsarge (BB-5), USS Kentucky (BB-6), USS Illinois (BB-7), USS Alabama (BB-8), USS Maine (BB-10), USS Missouri (BB-11), USS Ohio (BB-12), USS Virginia (BB-13), USS Georgia (BB-15), USS New Jersey (BB-16), USS Rhode Island (BB-17), USS Connecticut (BB-18), USS Louisiana (BB-19), USS Vermont (BB-20), USS Kansas (BB-21) and USS Minnesota (BB-22).
The four squadrons of warships, dubbed the "Great White Fleet," were manned by 14,000 sailors and marines under the command of Rear Adm. Robley "Fighting Bob" Evans. All were embarking upon a naval deployment the scale of which had never been attempted by any nation before - the first 'round-the-world cruise by a fleet of steam-powered, steel battleships. The 43,000 mile, 14-month circumnavigation would include 20 port calls on six continents; it is widely considered one of the greatest peacetime achievements of the US Navy.
The idea of sending the new battle fleet around the world was the brainchild of the energetic "Teddy" Roosevelt, former colonel of the Rough Riders and one-time assistant secretary of the Navy. Assuming the presidency after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, Roosevelt brought to the White House a deep conviction that only through a strong navy could a nation project its power and prestige abroad.
Image of Admirals Brownson, Davis and Evans, President Theodore Roosevelt and Secretary Bonaparte. NH 1203

Admirals Brownson, Davis and Evans, President Theodore Roosevelt and Secretary Bonaparte. 
      In 1898, at the end of the Spanish-American War, the United States was thrust into the mainstream of international affairs and gained status as a world power, acquiring as possessions the Philippines and Guam in the Pacific, then Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. In 1904, the United States also established a naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to ensure the safety of the Panama Canal, then under construction.
Roosevelt stressed the upgrading and expansion of the US fleet in order to protect American interests abroad. From 1904 to 1907, American shipyards turned out 11 new battleships to give the Navy awesome battle capabilities. This was timely, for, in 1906, hostilities with Japan seemed possible; the Japanese navy dominated the Pacific and posed a potential threat to the Philippines.
America's problems with Japan arose shortly after Roosevelt mediated the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1906, ending the Russo-Japanese War. In that conflict the Russian fleet had been annihilated by the Japanese. But despite their triumphs over the Russians on the high seas, the Japanese failed to get all they felt they deserved at the peace table and blamed Roosevelt for it.
In the same year, anti-Japanese feelings were sweeping California. The San Francisco Board of Education ordered the segregation of all immigrant and descendent Japanese school children.
When the news of this reached Japan, violent anti-American protests broke out. Roosevelt managed to persuade the Board of Education to discontinue its segregation policy in exchange for an agreement with Japan to slow down its stream of immigrants into the United States.
Roosevelt didn't want a break with Japan, as the United States was ill-prepared for war. Most of our battle fleet was concentrated in the Atlantic, and there were only a handful of armored cruisers on duty in the Pacific. In the event of war with Japan, this small contingent that made up the Asiatic Battle Fleet would have to abandon the Philippines for West Coast ports until the United States had strength enough to go on the offensive.
Thus, to impress upon Japan that the US Navy could shift from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Roosevelt ordered the Great White Fleet to sail around the world.
Image of U.S. Atlantic Fleet Battleships, steaming out of Hampton Roads, VA. , in December 1907, to begin their cruise around the World. Leading two ships are: Kansas (BB-21) and Vermont (BB-22). NH 92091

U.S. Atlantic Fleet Battleships, steaming out of Hampton Roads, VA. , in December 1907, to begin their cruise around the World. Leading two ships are: Kansas (BB-21) and Vermont (BB-22).
     The President also wanted to find out what condition the fleet would be in after such a transit. As he stated before the fleet's departure, "I want all failures, blunders and shortcomings to be made apparent in time of peace and not in time of war."
But, more importantly, Roosevelt felt that a successful cruise of this magnitude would provide the American people with an example of US naval preparedness, strength and range. Such an impression, he hoped, would help him get the desired appropriations for four more battleships.
With the exception of the few highest ranking naval officials, nobody was aware of Roosevelt's intention to send the fleet around the world. Even the President's own cabinet didn't know about it. All anyone knew was that the fleet would be steaming from the east to West Coast in a training exercise.
Once the plans for the cruise became public, not everyone was impressed. Some critics felt that this show of force would encourage a Japanese attack on the fleet. Others were worried that the Atlantic naval defenses would be weakened by taking away so many ships. Also, it was reasoned, since the Panama Canal was unfinished, the ships would have to pass through the Straits of Magellan, an area that posed considerable danger because of tricky currents and great storms.
Senator Eugene Hale from Maine, chairman of the Naval Appropriations Committee, threatened to withhold money for the cruise. But this didn't bother Roosevelt, who replied in his typically brusque and forthright fashion that he already had the money and dared Congress to "try and get it back."
Nobody took Roosevelt up on his challenge and the Great White Fleet got underway that December morning, with the coal-burning ships' stacks spewing billowing clouds of black smoke into the gray sky. Aboard the flagship Connecticut, Rear Adm. Evans looked out with pride upon the majestic fleet under his command. He had stated earlier that his ships "were ready at the drop of a hat for a feast, a frolic or a fight".
Late on the first day of steaming, Evans passed the word to the officers and men of the fleet that after a short stay on the West Coast, the fleet would return home by way of the Pacific, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean and then to the Atlantic. In short, they would be transiting the globe. When this announcement became general knowledge the next day, countries throughout the world tendered their invitations for the fleet to visit their ports.
The first leg of the cruise took the fleet into the South Atlantic. On Dec. 23, the fleet made its first port visit, at Port of Spain in Trinidad, a small island off the coast of Venezuela.
Trinidad, as most of the sailors discovered, rated a pretty low score when it came to liberty. According to one sailor, it was one of the most boring places he'd been to and he remarked, "When we pulled in, there were no people around and almost everything was closed up. Just one building was open that had any beer in it. By the time we made it to shore, the stuff was hot as hell. It was just like drinking boiler water."
Another sailor noted that, aside from "looking at the flowers and visiting a leper colony," there wasn't much to do. When the fleet left Port of Spain Dec. 29, enroute to Brazil, there were few if any, who longed to stay. All hoped for better liberty in the future. It couldn't get any worse.
On Jan.6, the fleet steamed across the equator and "Crossing the Line" ceremonies made up the plan of the day. Some 12,000 sailors were introduced to Davy Jones. Following proper initiation rights that included suffering through various indignities to make them worthy, all were welcomed into the exhaulted realm of King Neptune.
Image of USS Wisconsin, (BB-9). The Royal Party of the ship's "Crossing the Line" ceremonies, during the cruise around the world, 1908. NH 81447

USS Wisconsin, (BB-9). The Royal Party of the ship's "Crossing the Line" ceremonies, during the cruise around the world, 1908.
     The fleet anchored in Rio de Janeiro on Jan.13. Unfortunately, there was an incident the first night that came close to shattering goodwill between the US Navy and Brazil.
It all began in one of Rio's rowdier drinking establishments when two local longshoremen got into an argument. In expressing his particular point of view, one of the longshoremen threw a beer bottle at the other. The bottle missed its intended target and continued its flight across the smoke-filled room. At the bar, a group of White Fleet sailors were enjoying a brew and good conversation when the wayward bottle found a target - a sailor from Louisiana. The rest is right out of a Hollywood movie. Sailors rallied around the victim, the longshoremen called up their reserves and the battle was joined.
When the shore patrol arrived, the donnybrook had flowed out into the street, as longshoremen and sailors threw rocks and bricks at each other. Shore patrol and local police brought about order, separated the combatants, and escorted the sailors back to their ships.
The next day, during an inquiry, Louisiana's master-at-arms testified that the "civilians seemed to be the aggressors." After all the evidence was in, Brazilian officials agreed with this assessment and, to improve relations, publicly invited the American sailors to continue to enjoy Rio.
There were no further incidents while the fleet was in Rio and the sailors all had a good time. Many of them even joined in local political parades, marching gleefully with the locals and shouting slogans they probably didn't remotely understand. Brazilian President Penna gave high praise to what he termed "the glorious American Navy," and Penna's foreign minister showered the Navy with praise and described the visiting fleet as "the pride of the continent."
During the Rio visit, Evans suffered an attack of gout, an affliction that plagued him from the start of the voyage and would be responsible for his being relieved of command when the fleet arrived in San Francisco.
It was also in Rio that the first of many wild rumors about threats to the fleet began circulating. The Rio chief of police had been advised, through unknown sources, that anarchists were plotting to blow up the fleet. Nothing came of it, although Washington did cable for details. These rumors would follow the feet throughout its voyage and eventually gave the folks back home the impression that the Great White Fleet was in constant peril.
On Jan. 21, the fleet weighed anchor and got underway, leaving Rio and setting a course for the Straits of Magellan near the southern tip of So. America.
There, rumor had it, massive whirlpools could twist a ship completely around. Winds, known as wiliwaws, were said to be so wild that ships would be dashed to pieces on the rocky shores of such nightmarish labeled places as Delusion Bay, Desolation Island, Point Famine and Dislocation Point, all inhabited by cannibals, of course. One newspaper in California, the Sacramento Union, prophesied shipwreck and cannibalism should the White Fleet attempt the Straits. "We don't want our Jackies eaten by terrible Tierra del Fuegans," wrote the editor.
A Chilean cruiser met the fleet and guided it through the Straits. Although there was considerable fog and wind, the fleet completed its passage without mishap and encountered none of the calamities conjured up by the over-active imaginations of newspaper editors. Now in the South Pacific, the fleet set its track for Peru, following visits to Punta Arenas and Valparaiso, Chile.
Although normal day-to-day routine and training evolutions kept the sailors busy while underway, there were diversions after hours for those not on watch. Aboard the ships were pianos and phonographs, various games, plenty of playing cards, and handball and billiard equipments. There were also player pianos and silent movies.
Image of "A Navy Barber", gives a shave to a battleship crewman, during the early 1900s. NH 94301-KN.

"A Navy Barber", gives a shave to a battleship crewman, during the early 1900s.
     In referring to the movies, a White Fleet veteran assigned to Connecticut remarked, "They had one they showed us about 50 times … The Perils of Pauline. It was a film series. They might show number nine one day and then show number 47 the next. But we enjoyed it anyway; she was always in some kind of fix, getting thrown off cliffs and things like that."
The good times were earned by these sailors. There was the seemingly endless round of cleaning chores, watches and drills. But even for the hard-working deck force, life at sea wasn't quite so bad, not when compared to the jobs of the so-called "black gang" in the fire room below decks. At least topside, the deck force had the benefit of sunlight and breezes; below decks, the engineers' world was dominated by searing heat and coal dust.
Coal, commonly referred as "black diamonds," was the ship's sole source of power. Ships would normally go into port and take on coal every two weeks. "Coaling ship" was an all hands evolution and a dirty job. It would take several days to coal a ship. Afterward, the crew would spend several more days cleaning the ship, inside and out, fore and aft, since coal dust settled everywhere.
Image of Members of the "Black Gang", stoke the coal burning power plants of the Battleships of the Great White Fleet. C. 1907-1908. NH 101721.

Members of the "Black Gang", stoke the coal burning power plants of the Battleships of the Great White Fleet. C. 1907-1908. 
      A member of the "black gang" on the battleship Connecticut described coaling day. "Our ship held about 2,000 tons of the stuff. All the deckhands would go down into the collier (coal supply ship) and fill these big bags with about 500 pounds. Then they'd hoist 'em over to us down in the coal bunkers and we'd spread out the coal with shovels until all the bunkers - about 20 - were full to the top."
Image of U.S.S. Connecticut (BB-18), Flagship of Admiral Robley D. Evans, USN on the cruise around the world of the Great White Fleet, shown here at Callao, Peru, 1907. NH 1571

U.S.S. Connecticut (BB-18), Flagship of Admiral Robley D. Evans, USN on the cruise around the world of the Great White Fleet, shown here at Callao, Peru, 1907. 
     On Feb. 20, the fleet pulled in to Callao, Peru, just north of Lima. Their arrival sparked a nine-day celebration that included commemoration of George Washington's birthday, a holiday the Peruvians felt they should share with their American friends to the north. Peruvian composer, Ce'sar Penizo, paid homage to the fleet by composing a special dance piece entitled "The White Squadron." Wishing the American sailors to feel at home, a small tugboat roved about the anchored ships, its passengers regaling the White Fleet crews with lively renditions of Cornell football cheers.
Images of Merchants aboard the U.S.S. Connecticut (BB-18) at Colombo during the cruise around the world of the Atlantic Fleet in 1908. NH 1746

Merchants aboard the U.S.S. Connecticut (BB-18) at Colombo during the cruise around the world of the Atlantic Fleet in 1908. 
     Having absorbed an abundance of Peruvian hospitality, the White Fleet reluctantly got up steam to continue its journey northward to California, with an intermediate one-month stopover at Magdalena Bay in Baja California for gunnery practice.
The fleet arrived March 12 for its gunnery exercises at Magdalena Bay while California's coastal cities were trying everything in their power to get the fleet into their ports. Ulysses S. Grant Jr., a noted citizen of San Diego, went so far as to write Roosevelt to request that the fleet steam directly into San Diego harbor instead of anchoring at Coronado.
The President took this request under consideration and contacted the Navy Department about the possibility. Word came back that, should the fleet attempt anchoring in San Diego harbor, there was a good chance that the ships would remain permanently mired in the mud. Thus, Grant and his fellow San Diegans had to be content with greeting the fleet at Coronado.
When the fleet pulled in on April 14, the sailors were greeted by thousands of enthusiastic residents as the great ships anchored off the Hotel del Coronado. Small boats of all descriptions surrounded the warships, and sailors were pelted with blossoms by "Flower Committees" and filled to capacity with free lemonade by "Fruit Committees." For the next four days, San Diego celebrated, and the White Fleet sailors were given the royal treatment that ended only with the fleet's departure for Los Angeles on April 18.
In Los Angeles, the officers and men were feted to such entertainments as a giant Spanish barbecue, thrilled to a breathtaking balloon ascension by a group of daring aeronauts, and cheered a number of prize fights between well-known local pugilists.
Meantime, as the fleet was being pampered and honored by the good citizens of L.A., Santa Cruz, to the north, was gearing up for its welcome to the fleet and attempting to crowd out rival Monterey just across the bay. But when the Santa Cruz town fathers got the word that only part of the fleet would be visiting their community, they were so upset that they threatened to call off the entire reception if they weren't visited by all the ships. The Navy relented and Santa Cruz got its wish, after the fleet visited Santa Barbara and Monterey.
When the fleet arrived in San Francisco on May 6, the hills surrounding the city by the Bay were packed with thousands of greeters, many brought in by special trains from outlying communities. San Francisco greeted the fleet in its typical warm-hearted and ostentatious fashion by staging a 48-hour ball at the Fairmont Hotel where dinners normally went for $10 per plate. The officers and men of the Great White Fleet were treated to a welcome they would long remember.
During the sailor's stay in 'Frisco, the citizens went so far as to pitch tents in Jefferson Square and Portsmouth Square for White Fleet sailors who ran out of hotel money.
While in San Francisco, the battleships Maine and Alabama were replaced by USS Nebraska (BB-14) and USS Wisconsin (BB-9). The reason behind this change was due to Maine's and Alabama's voracious appetite for coal. They seemed to eat up more "'black diamonds" than any other ships in the fleet.
San Francisco was also the last port-of-call for fleet commander Evans, still suffering from gout. He was relieved by Rear Adm. C. M. Thomas. Thomas then commanded some of the ships during visits to ports in Washington State, including Seattle, Bellingham and Tacoma.
Thomas nearly missed movement when that part of the fleet was ready to get underway for the Northwest visits. He was to have been picked up at his hotel lobby by auto and driven to his flagship. As a precaution, two autos were sent to be sure he made it, but a traffic cop noticed that the kerosene tail-lamp on the first car had been blown out, violating a city traffic ordinance.
Putting the first car out of action, the observant police officer noticed that the back-up car also had a blown tail-lamp. Luckily, the driver was able to re-light that lamp, and after some smooth talking, convinced the cop to let the admiral's car proceed. Thomas made it to his ship, and San Francisco was inspired to change its auto lamp law.
The fleet visit up and down the West Coast was one week shy of three months. That part of the cruise was like a constant party, with everyone, sailor and civilian alike, celebrating this great adventure. On July 7, the fleet, now reassembled under Rear Adm. Charles Sperry, bid farewell to San Francisco and weighed anchor to continue its journey across the Pacific.
On July 16, the fleet arrived in Hawaii. After a six-day layover at Pearl Harbor, where it was feted with luaus and sailing regattas, the great armada got underway for New Zealand, anchoring in Auckland on Aug. 9. The New Zealanders gave the fleet a very warm reception and invited Sperry and his staff to observe tribal ceremonies at a Maori village. At the conclusion of one of the dances, a tribesman bounded from the circle of dancers. Halting before the admiral and his staff, the Maori dancer broke into a broad, toothy smile and explained, "bully!" Even among these rustics in the outback of New Zealand, Roosevelt had made his mark, to the great surprise and amusement of Sperry and his staff.
On Aug. 15, the fleet sailed for Sydney, Australia, where it arrived five days later. The fleet was greeted by more than 250,000 people, who had stayed up all night so as not to miss the ships' arrival. For the next eight days, there was a non-stop celebration in honor of the Navy visitors.
With all this celebrating, some of the crewmen were beginning to feel the wear and tear. One sailor was found asleep on a bench in one of Sydney's parks. Not wishing to be disturbed, he posted a sign above his head which read:
"Yes, I am delighted with the Australian people.
"Yes, I think your park is the finest in the world.
"I am very tired and would like to go to sleep."
Being truly hospitable, Sydney let him sleep.
Melbourne also rolled out the red carpet for the fleet. Nothing was too good for the Yankee sailors, and they were given the key to the city. Melbourne's hospitality made such an impression that many sailors were reluctant to leave when the ships got underway for Manila on Sept. 18 and arrived Oct. 2.
Image of USS. Connecticut (BB-18). View taken c.August 1908, showing Lt. John E. Lewis, USN, with the kangaroo mascot presented to the ship by the citizens of Sydney, Australia, at the occasion of the U.S. Fleet's visit to that port during the round-the-world cruise, 1907-1908. NH 50477.

USS. Connecticut (BB-18). View taken c.August 1908, showing Lt. John E. Lewis, USN, with the kangaroo mascot presented to the ship by the citizens of Sydney, Australia, at the occasion of the U.S. Fleet's visit to that port during the round-the-world cruise, 1907-1908.
     There was no liberty in Manila, due to a cholera epidemic, but the mail caught up with the fleet and, just like in today's Navy, mail call was the highlight of day. One White Fleet veteran remembered one man aboard the Connecticut who couldn't read. He said whenever this fellow got mail, "He'd have someone read his letters to him. And he'd make whoever was doing it stick cotton in his ears so he wouldn't be able to hear what he was reading. He thought he could keep his privacy that way."
From Manila the squadron turned north for Japan on Oct. 10. While enroute in the South China Sea, the fleet ran into one of the worst typhoons in 40 years. According to one sailor, "The typhoon happened right off Formosa. All you could see, when a ship was in trough, was the trunk of its mast above the wave tops. That was all you could see of an entire battleship. Then our turn would come to go into a trough, and we couldn't see anything for a while."
In riding out the storm, there was a moment of high drama, when as the sailor recalled, "Something happened that you're just not going to believe. One of the sailors on a ship in our squadron was picked up and washed overboard by a big wave. Then that same wave carried him over to another ship in another squadron and it threw him up on the deck."
Image of USS Kansas (BB-21). Japanese children & other visitors aboard the ship, during one of the "Great White Fleet's" stops in Japan, 1908. NH 82772

USS Kansas (BB-21). Japanese children & other visitors aboard the ship, during one of the "Great White Fleet's" stops in Japan, 1908.
      The fleet came through the typhoon unscathed, and as it approached Tokyo Bay and Yokohama, Sperry circulated a directive concerning liberty in Japan. In it he stated that, to insure against diplomatically damaging incidents, "only first-class men, whose records showed no evidence of previous indulgence in intoxicating liquor," would be allowed ashore. And, in reference to a planned reception for the crew, the directive went on to state that "the men will be made to understand that this, though an entertainment, is a matter of military duty" and all sailors should conduct themselves accordingly.
On Oct. 17, the day before the fleet's arrival, the Yokohama newspaper, Boyaki Shimpo came out with what it called a "Fleet Banzai Number," and showered printed praise upon the fleet. When the US ships arrived the next day, they were escorted into the bay by three Japanese destroyers, while on shore, school children sang "Hail Columbia" and the "Star-Spangled Banner."
Japanese hospitality was indeed overflowing. All flag officers of the fleet were accommodated at the Emperor's Palace, while the ships' captains occupied suites at Tokyo's elegant Imperial Hotel. Junior officers were presented with railroad passes, and selected enlisted men were given free trolley car privileges. For the entire week the fleet was in Japan, there was a constant round of celebrations, balls and parties. Adm. Togo of the Imperial Japanese Navy gave a garden party; Premier Katsura hosted a formal ball; and 50,000 Tokyo citizens honored the fleet with a torchlight parade.
During a champagne party aboard the Japanese battleship Nikasa, Sperry suffered an indignity, albeit unintended by his Japanese navy hosts. It occurred when a group of exuberant Imperial Navy cadets suddenly picked up Sperry and hurled him into the air three times, shouting "Banzai!" with each liftoff. In Japanese naval circles, the Banzai cheer and tossing were considered tributes. This was explained to a ruffled Sperry after he was placed back on the deck, gasping and trying to straighten out his twisted sash, dislocated sword and wrinkled uniform. Sperry accepted the tribute as graciously as possible under the circumstances.
One of the first diplomatic gestures came about, not as part of an elaborately planned ceremony, but occurred spontaneously during a crisis. On the night of Oct. 22, a flimsy arch, honoring the fleet, caught fire and the flames began creeping up one side of the arch toward a Japanese flag anchored on a pole at the top. Three US sailors and a Marine raced toward the scene. The Marine, reaching the blazing arch first, climbed the clear side of the arch and retrieved the Japanese flag before the flames engulfed it. In the crowd that had gathered, the Japanese went wild and the gusty Marine was hoisted onto shoulders and paraded about the streets. Another small but important diplomatic coup had been scored by the Great White Fleet.
The fleet's Japan visit had the desired result: it generated good will between both countries and eased tensions that might otherwise have led to open conflict. Much of the credit goes to Sperry, whose skill as a diplomat and professionalism as an officer were crucial.
Image of Officers of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet who were entertained by the Japanese Minister of War in Tokyo, Japan, while the Great White Fleet was on a cruise around the world, 1907-1908.

Officers of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet who were entertained by the Japanese Minister of War in Tokyo, Japan, while the Great White Fleet was on a cruise around the world, 1907-1908.
     After Japan, half the fleet steamed back to Manila for a month's gunnery practice and the other eight ships set course for the Formosa Straits and the Chinese island of Amoy. The Peking government was prepared to welcome 16 battleships, but when only eight arrived, the local officials were a little disappointed and embarrassed. Though this slight was due to operational requirements and unintentional on the fleet's part, it did contribute to the peculiar funk known to the Chinese as "losing face." But Peking rallied, and in order to "save face," told the people that the rest of the fleet was lost in a typhoon.
Because of a dangerous epidemic on Amoy, a specially-built entertainment center awaited the officers and men of the fleet. All food and drink was brought in from Shanghai, along with rickshaws, mandarin chairs, horses and wagons. It was on Amoy that many of the sailors were introduced to the oriental delicacy of shark fin soup.
Image of Officers of the Great White Fleet in Amoy, China, 1 November 1908. Adm William H. Emory, USN. Radm Seaton Schroeder, USN, Imperial Manchu Prince Yo Lang H.E, Sung Shou Viceroy are among the guests. NH 53142.

Officers of the Great White Fleet in Amoy, China, 1 November 1908. Adm William H. Emory, USN. Radm Seaton Schroeder, USN, Imperial Manchu Prince Yo Lang H.E, Sung Shou Viceroy are among the guests. 
      Concluding its call on Amoy, the eight ships steamed back to Manila to join the rest of the fleet on maneuvers. From there, the entire fleet sailed into the Indian Ocean, making a port call at Colombo, Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), which lies off the southeastern coast of India. While in Ceylon, the officers and crew were swamped with complimentary tea from none other than Sir Thomas Lipton, a man whose familiar face, even today, adorns boxes of tea bags found in supermarkets throughout the United States.
Christmas of 1908 was celebrated by the fleet as it crossed the Indian Ocean enroute to the Arabian Sea. During the holiday underway, the ships were decorated with palms, colored streamers, coconuts and other fruit. Holiday routine was set throughout the ships and sailors enjoyed a number of competitions, including potato races, three-legged races, sack races and bobbing for oranges.
Steaming through the Suez Canal, the fleet took on coal in Port Said, Egypt. While in Port Said, Sperry received word of a terrible earthquake that had struck Messina, Sicily. After coaling up, Connecticut and Illinois set a course for Messina at top speed. When they arrived, sailors did everything they could to assist the beleaguered city. One of their tasks was to search for the American consul's daughter, who disappeared during the quake. But the search was in vain. They never found her.
Image of Refugees waiting for transportation at Messina, where the U.S.S. Culgoa (AF-3) and U.S.S. Yankton fed many of these hungry Sicilians, 1908. NH 1177.

Refugees waiting for transportation at Messina, where the U.S.S. Culgoa (AF-3) and U.S.S. Yankton fed many of these hungry Sicilians, 1908.
       The other White Fleet ships split into several parties after leaving Port Said and visited Algiers, Tripoli, Naples, Marseille, Athens and Malta. Regrouping once again on Feb. 6, the fleet made a final stop at Gibraltar and then steamed out into the Atlantic, the ships' bands playing "Home Sweet Home" on this last leg of the voyage.
Having crossed the Atlantic, the fleet arrived at Hampton Roads, Va., on a rainy Feb. 22, 1909, ending its 14-month odyssey. Steaming into the Roads, the ships, looking not quite as white as when they started out, but majestic nonetheless, had their bands belt out the rollicking tune "Strike Up The Band," followed by the slower, more poignant strains of "There's No Place Like Home."
The enthusiasm of the cheering multitudes waiting on shore to greet the fleet was not dampened by the inclement weather, and once again aboard the presidential yacht Mayflower, Roosevelt responded to the rendering of the fleet's 21-gun salute with enthusiastic waves. With only two weeks left in the White House before turning over the reins of government to his successor, William Howard Taft, the return of the fleet and the success of its mission prompted Roosevelt to declare later that this cruise was "the most important service that I rendered for peace."
A White Fleet sailor remembered the homecoming . "We hit Hampton Roads on Washington's Birthday and it was raining. But by golly, we celebrated with hardtack and sow belly dinner that day. Later, all the deckhands had to go to Washington and parade in the snow for (president-elect) Howard Taft."
The cruise of the Great White Fleet had many substantial results both diplomatically for the nation and technically for the Navy. On the diplomatic side, the cruise satisfied our country's desire to be recognized as a world power. It was aptly proven that the United States was capable of projecting its influence anywhere in the world on a heretofore unprecedented scale.
Our relations with the countries visited were improved or initially established in a positive way. The most important improvement of relations was with Japan, the main diplomatic target from the beginning. The visit by the fleet provided the main thrust behind the Root-Takahira Agreement that went into effect shortly after the fleet's return. According to this treaty, the United States and Japan agreed to maintain the status quo in the Pacific and to respect each other's possessions there. Also, both nations consented to respect the "Open Door" policy in China and the independence and territorial integrity of that country.

Operationally, the cruise was a resounding success. Initially, the detractors of the enterprise didn't think the ships would be capable of making the 'round-the-world' transit without continually breaking down. Yet there were no serious repair of maintenance problems; there were no breakdowns or serious accidents.
The voyage brought to light various technical defects in ship design. It was found that, due to the heavy weather encountered, there was a need for greater size and displacement of ships; shipboard habitability wasn't adequate and ventilation had to be improved; hull casement shutters couldn't keep the water out in rough seas; rapid-fire guns placed close to the waterline could not be used effectively since spray and water shipping into the gun ports were distracting to the crews; and the lofty upperworks of the ships were found to be comfortable for peacetime conditions but would be "shell exploders" during wartime.
In addition, the old-style military masts and "fighting tops" were replaced by new cage masts with fire-control tops; top-heavy bridges and charthouses were removed and replaced by open bridges; light-weight torpedo-defense guns gave way to more powerful pieces; and new fire-control gear as fitted out on the ships.
Image of President Theodore Roosevelt adressing officers and men onboard U.S.S Connecticut (BB-18) at Hampton Roads, Virginia, after cruise around the world by the Great White Fleet, 1909. NH 1836.

President Theodore Roosevelt addressing officers and men on-board U.S.S Connecticut (BB-18) at Hampton Roads, Virginia, after cruise around the world by the Great White Fleet, 1909.

Sperry also recommended that the ships of the Navy should have their coloration changed from white to gray, something naval officers had been recommending for years. It was felt that Navy ships should not be in "holiday colors" going into battle.
The cruise provided the officers and men of the fleet with thorough at-sea training and brought about improvements in formation steaming, coal economy, gunnery and morale. It also stressed the need for overseas bases that could provide better coaling and supply services along with more auxiliary ships. Foreign coaling ships or ports were used 90 percent of the time for coaling and resupply.
For the sailors who participated in this historic once-in-a-lifetime adventure, the cruise reinforced their pride in service and country. They had been the ambassadors of good will and the vehicles through which others perceived and judged America and the Navy. The results were gratifying. But even more concretely, the sailors saw their individual roles and the role of the Great White Fleet as providing the muscle behind US foreign policy.
As one sailor succinctly put it, "We just wanted to let the world know we were prepared for anything they wanted to kick up. We wanted to show the world what we could do."