Blog to America – Follow-up

Way back in October 2007 I received a letter from Andrew promoting a website (well, blog really) called Blog to America. The principle of that blog was outlined as:

Our goal is to find individuals like yourself to help increase global awareness and create a greater understanding of the way the United States is viewed across the world. Our site allows people to write a letter addressed to the United States telling the world how they feel about any and all topics relating to the U.S.

If you are interested in writing a letter to the United States or simply interested in reading letters written by others from across the globe, please visit our site at

I noted at the time that I would certainly promote his blog however not contribute to it as Thomo’s Hole was and still is a “creative release which I guess you can see from the diversity of content – some serious, some light, some related to military history and wargaming, much travel related and much railing against stupidity (no – don’t start me on the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness again).”

I was concerned that Blog to America was simply going to “end up as a place where people who find the US a difficult nation to deal with come to vent their spleens, with supporters of the US defending their feelings in ever more acrimonious exchanges that achieve little but take trolling to a whole new level.”

Well here we are, 9 years on. Thomo’s Hole is still around in probably its fifth or sixth iteration. Blog to America is gone. I guess for a blog’s longevity it is a matter of doing it for the creative release and the fun. altruism comes, passes and leaves. Thomo’s Hole has been around since 1996 (20 years now) and has been in blog format since December 2004 (12 years). Whilst using something like WordPress saves me time and effort, I really did not find the HTML coding all that onerous at the time.

Now to relieve some of the past idiocy of those buffoons, the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness again!

Vinh Long

vinh long 100 Jim at the War Times Journal has released some more models of ships from around the end of the 19th Century. This latest release includes:

  • Collingwood
  • Monmouth
  • Drake
  • Highflyer
  • Dupleix
  • Vinh Long
  • Wittelsbach
  • Braunschweig
  • Cormoran
  • Arcona
  • Umbria
  • Etna

Along with two shore batteries.

The Vinh-Long particularly interested me as I recalled reading somewhere about the USS Bainbridge (DD-246) having rescued a large number of passengers and crew from the vessel in the 1920s and the skipper of the Bainbridge being decorated for his efforts. A little research was therefore in order.

Off to the US Naval History and Heritage website – one of my favourite sites, especially for US Navy vessels history.

vinh long 105 The Vinh-Long was a 5500-ton screw steamship and was built in 1881. I was one of several military transports needed to support France’s colonial empire. During the First World War the Vinh-Long server as a hospital ship. After the November 1918 Armistice she returned to her previous role as a troops transport.

On 16 November 1922, while carrying 495 persons, including civilians as well as military and naval personnel, the Vinh-Long caught fire in the Sea of Marmora, Turkey. She was carrying armaments in her magazines and as the fire spread, eventually it reached her after magazines causing explosions. This caused the fire to intensify and spread throughout the rest of the ship.

Even though the blaze as intense and there were known risks of further explosions (the forward magazines for example. The USS Bainbrdge (DD-246) pulled alongside the bow of the Vinh-Long and managed to save 482 of the passengers and crew. Thirteen people, among them two women and four children, lost their lives in the fire and subsequent efforts to abandon ship, some having life boats fall on them when they were in the water. One other man died of exposure on board the Bainbridge.

vinh long 106 The Bainbridge was approached eventually by HMS Sepoy but by that time the Bainbridge was underway to Istanbul with the survivors so needed no further assistance.

The rescue of Vinh-Long‘s passengers and crew was widely celebrated at the time. The Bainbridge‘s officers and crew were officially commended for their performance and the captain of the Bainbridge, Lieutenant Commander Edwards, was subsequently honoured with the United States’ Medal of Honor along with the French Legion of Honor and the British Distinguished Service Order.

Following on from here are pictures of Lt Commander Edwards receiving his medal from the US President, Calvin Collidge and then the last three photos are of Edwards’ actually report of the incident.

I can see I will need to prepare and order for Jim shortly.

vinh long 110

vinh long 200

vinh long 201

vinh long 202

On Matters Military and More Toys

imageA parcel arrived on the desk this morning. I love it when that happens. This one was from the nice folks at On Matters Military. I had ordered a copy of the DBMM version 2.0 rules (yes, I am still thinking of playing at Cancon in January 2011) as well as the DBMM Book 1 lists (they are army lists covering the period 3000 BCE to 500 BCE). Also enclosed was a copy of Robert Malcomson’s Warships of the Great Lakes, 1754-1834 (ISBN 0-7858-1798-0). Whilst this was published in 2004, I really don’t have much information on those particular maritime (is that the right word still for freshwater engagements?) events or the vessels that fought them.

I have some smaller sailing vessels at home that are suited for the Great Lakes warfare – at least that is what it says on the box. I am now looking forward to reading more about these vessels and I am hoping this book will give me a good introduction at least. A quick look through the book suggests that there will be more than enough detail for me. The book covers the French, English and American navies on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain with the vessels ranging in size from a gunboat to something that was close to a First Rate. There are many contemporary illustrations throughout the book as well.

I must also commend the service of On Matters Military. The items were ordered on the 9th of October, paid for through PayPal, invoiced on the 11th, posted on the 13th and arrived on my desk on 22 October – so just under a fortnight from order to delivery. The books were very well wrapped and protected as well.

Pentagon computers attacked with USB flash drive

Knowing this, many militaries are developing offensive capabilities in cyberspace, and more than 100 foreign intelligence organisations are trying to break into US networks,

he [US Deputy Defence Secretary William Lynn] said via Pentagon computers attacked with USB flash drive.

Gee, it’s nice to have friends. There are what, 200-odd countries in the world? Allowing for some having multiple intelligence agencies, but also allowing for some to be so small or so poor as to not have any agencies or the abilities to mount this sort of attack, Lynn is suggesting that pretty much everybody with an intelligence agency and technical capability is attacking the US.

Anyway, if those foreign organisations really wanted to break into the US networks, all they need are a couple of 16 year old geeks with laptops, a carton of red bull and a couple of home delivered pizza supremes

Paranoia? Nah, couldn’t be … could it?

Aussies Beat Americans Again!

Yep, Aussies have beaten the Americans again in yet one more thing. The Sydney Morning Herald noted on 20 June 2008 that Australia pips US as world’s fattest nation. Yes, goodly reader, us Aussies have managed to outweigh the Americans.

Fat Happy Thomo reports that he is also one of the sportsmen contributing to this victory … but has plans to retire from this competition as soon as he leaves Saudi Arabia.

Sending an S O S for a PC Exorcist

Harry Hurt III in the New York Times commented on PC problems in a piece called Sending an S O S for a PC Exorcist on 9 February 2008.

Harry noted

AT high noon on a recent Monday, I leaped up from my desk vowing to commit the most sensational attack of revenge in the history of the personal computer industry. Just 72 hours earlier, I had taken delivery on a Dell Inspiron 1720 laptop loaded with Microsoft Windows Vista. It was already on the blink. I couldn’t open a Word document. I couldn’t run a Google search. I couldn’t even send e-mail. I vowed to shave Michael Dell and Bill Gates with a broken beer bottle.

Harry then went on to note

John guessed that the problems might have been caused by resubscribing to the antivirus program. He told me he needed to take the computer to his shop to exorcise the evil spirits. I would have to go back to my worn-out old Toshiba, which had a nasty tendency to overheat and shut down without warning.

further noting

John and his two-man staff spent an entire week working on my Dell. “You fell prey to a cutting-edge disaster by subscribing to Norton Anti-Virus twice,” he informed me over the phone near week’s end. “That caused the computer to spit up a general error message. We all scratched our heads and glared threateningly at the machine for hours. Then we figured out that instead of two or three potential remedies, there were about 25. We decided it was time to cut our losses, and start from scratch.”

John ultimately had to remove the data on the hard drive, wipe it clean, and then reinstall all the data and Vista. The total cost of these surgical procedures was about $800, over half of what I had originally paid for the Dell. But I was so happy to hear the crunch of S.U.V. tires on my driveway when John returned with my newly repaired machine, I told him I didn’t begrudge paying the tab.

Oh my God – did they see him coming or what? $800 to fix an error like that, removing all the data from the hard drive and reinstalling everything, Vista included?

When Harry vowed to “commit the most sensational attack of revenge in the history of the personal computer industry” I think he got the wrong end of it and rather the computer industry committed the most sensational case of pre-emptive revenge on Harry!

Many of these “independent service providers” make a very nice living out of the ignorance of those who know little about computers. This is like taking your car to the mechanic and having the mechanic say “what’s wrong with it” to which you reply “it’s broke, fix it”. You wouldn’t do that with a mechanic, so why would you do the same with your PC?

Jeffro – this independent service provider has to be the business to get in to – we could write our own salary cheques week on week! There are enough blokes with soft parts to their anatomy to make it worthwhile. 😆

U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms

In a classic of headline writing skills, the New York Times (NYT) published an article with the Headline above – U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms. The article was written by David E. Sanger and William J. Broad and published on 18 November 2007:

With the future of Pakistan’s leadership in doubt, debate is growing about whether a classified program has done enough.

Of course, now that it is published in the New York Times it can’t possibly be a secret … unless the NYT has 0 readership of course, then it could still be a secret 😆

The Great White Fleet

USS Conneticut leads Atlantic Fleet ships to sea in 1907I noticed earlier today that it is almost the 100th Anniversary of the Cruise Around the World by the United States’ Great White Fleet. This took place between 16 December 1907 and 22 February 1909.

The fleet was farewelled by President Theodore Roosevelt at the Jamestown Exposition. Over 70,000 kilometres later the fleet returned to the Hampton Roads.

The fleet consisted of 16 battleships and many support ships. During its trip around the world it visited places such as Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the Suez, Greece, Malta, Algeria, Italy, Gibraltar and South America amongst other places.

As it is the centenary of this feat and as I really do love warships from that period of time, it seemed only natural to mention it here and include some links.

For pictures and story, see the US’ Naval Historical Center (where the picture above came from) – in particular, the article The Cruise of the Great White Fleet with references provides a good discussion of the objectives and successes of the cruise.

Another interesting site is The Great White Fleet, A collection of postcards, medals, photographs, and memorabilia by William Stewart has a nice collection of memorabilia displayed on it. Following the link on this site to “the Cruise” and you can click on a map displaying the route of the cruise and see memorabilia collected from that port – a really interesting site (even if they refer to Australia’s Emu as an Ostrich).

Wikipedia has a description at The Great White Fleet which is a brief overview. For the chronically lazy, click on the following link for the Google Search for the Great White Fleet.

A fascinating piece of history and some wonderful old ships.

The ships involved are listed below:

First Squadron, First Division, USS Connecticut (BB-18), USS Kansas (BB-21), USS Vermont (BB-20), USS Louisiana (BB-19).

Second Division, USS Georgia (BB-15), USS New Jersey (BB-16), USS Rhode Island (BB-17), USS Virginia (BB-13).

Second Squadron, Third Division, USS Minnesota (BB-22), USS Maine (BB-10), USS Missouri (BB-11), USS Ohio (BB-12).

Fourth Division, USS Alabama (BB-8), USS Illinois (BB-7), USS Kearsarge (BB-5), USS Kentucky (BB-6).

The Fleet Auxiliaries consisted of store ships USS Culgoa and USS Glacier, repair ship USS Panther, tender USS Yankton and hospital ship USS Relief.

Torpedo Flotilla – USS Hopkins, USS Stewart, USS Hull, USS Truxton, USS Lawrence, USS Whipple and a tender USS Arethusa.

Lastly, Rich wants me to mention that there is a Great White Fleet Centennial t-shirt available from 🙂