The Stringbags – New Release

Dead Reckoning have released The Stringbags a graphic novel written by Garth Ennis; drawn by PJ Holden; colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick and; lettered by Rob Steen.

Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy began World War II with torpedo bombers that could devastate enemy warships and merchantmen at will. Britain’s Royal Navy squadrons went to war equipped with the Fairey Swordfish. A biplane torpedo bomber in an age of monoplanes, the Swordfish was underpowered and under-gunned; an obsolete museum piece, an embarrassment. Its crews fully expected to be shot from the skies. Instead, they flew the ancient “Stringbag” into legend.

Rob Williams, author of Judge Dredd and Unfollow noted:

A reserve crew in a hopelessly outdated biplane attacking the might of a battleship convoy in the early days of World War Two. The Stringbags is, like the best well-researched military history, delivered with genuine heart— something Garth Ennis excels at. A gripping underdog tale filled with spectacle and tragedy, featuring career-best art from PJ Holden.

If you do the incredible often enough, they’ll want you to do the impossible.

Writer Garth Ennis and artist PJ Holden present The Stringbags, an original graphic novel based on the true story of the Royal Navy’s Swordfish crews in early World War II.

A biplane torpedo bomber in an age of monoplanes, the Fairey Swordfish was underpowered and under-gunned; an obsolete museum piece, an embarrassment. Its crews fully expected to be shot from the skies. Instead, they flew the ancient “Stringbag” into legend. From their triumphs against the Italian Fleet at Taranto and the mighty German battleship Bismarck in the Atlantic, to the deadly challenge of the Channel Dash in the bleak winter waters of their homeland.

The Stringbags is an epic tale of young men facing death in an aircraft almost out of time. They lived as they flew, without a second to lose—and the greatest tributes to their courage would come from the enemy who strove to kill them.

Garth Ennis has been writing comics since 1989. Credits include Preacher, The Boys (both adapted for TV), Hitman and successful runs on The Punisher and Fury for Marvel Comics. He is particularly known for his war comics, including War Stories, Battlefields, Out of the Blue, Sara, and a recent revival of the classic British series Johnny Red. Originally from Northern Ireland, Ennis now lives in New York City with his wife, Ruth.

PJ Holden is a Belfast-based comic artist. Best known for his work for 2000AD on Judge Dredd, over the last twenty years he’s also drawn Rogue Trooper, Robocop/Terminator, James Bond: M, World of Tanks, and Battlefields. He is the co-creator of Dept. of Monsterology and Numbercruncher. He is married to Annette and has two children, Thomas and Nathan.

Kelly Fitzpatrick is a Hugo nominated comic book colorist and illustrator. She has worked on everything from Kickstarter and indie publications to DC graphic novels. Kelly spends all of her free time doting on her dog, Archie as well as training dogs, doing yoga and aerial acrobatics, and self-publishing her own books.

Rob Steen has lettered comics for all major comic book companies. He is also the illustrator of the children’s book series Flanimals, written by Ricky Gervais, and Erf, written by Garth Ennis.

The book is available from the US Naval Institute Press and is set for publication on 15 May, 2020. It’s ISBN is 9781682475034.

I for one am looking forward to this.

Irsk Festuke – 1997 or 1998

It was St Patrick’s Day,  many  years  ago. A pub in Trondheim, Dirty Nelly’s (since gone) was advertising their Irsk festuke (or Irish party week).

I had been to Dirty Nelly’s St Patrick’s party the year before. Truth be known, I had been to Dirty Nelly’s pretty much every Friday and Saturday night for nigh on three years – some habits are difficult to break.

Anyway, this was the advertisement in the local press advertising the event. Yours truly is included in the advertisement … see if you can see Thomo the Lost!

Life in the Philippines – Ingat!

Leave the office to go home or from having dinner with local friends and you will almost always hear “ingat” or “ingat ikaw”. It is pronounced, as near as I can hear, as “ing-at”. Often your friends and colleagues will translate that to English, knowing how terrible your Tagalog is. In English you will hear “take care”.

“Ingat” literally means take care or be cautious and is the usual farewell between folks here. So, when a Filipino is leaving the office, give them a friendly “ingat”!

Life in the Philippines – Ano!

“Ano”! The universal Tagalog word, often heard in Taglish sentences as well, sentences such as, “You are so ano!” This means, “you are so ‘what is the word I am looking for?'” So ano could mean “cute”, “terrible”, “lovely”, “horrible” etc. Sometimes it could mean all of the preceding.

So, it is not unusual to hear someone say, “See how you are? You’re so ano!”

Life in the Philippines – and we wonder about the traffic

When is a one way street not one way?

Why on a Sunday of course.

These signs are seen all over Makati City. Mind you, I can’t help but think, if the one way streets work so well keeping the traffic moving, why would you bother to go back to two ways on a Sunday?

And worse, two weeks ago this one way street went one way the other way!

Life in the Philippines – Aray!

Ouch!

No, really, “ouch”. In the Philippines, stub your toe or be pinched by someone and you would say “aray”. Close as I can make it, you would pronounce it like “a-rye”.

So, be bumped by someone and say “aray”, then hear them respond with “ay sorry” 🙂

Hacked Off

So it has been an annoying period. About two months ago I received an email saying words to the effect of “We have your password, email ID etc. Send around a thousand dollars in Bitcoins or we will start releasing embarrassing pictures of you to all your email contacts, social networks and what have you”.

I did not worry about this of course, as I am quite capable of publishing embarrassing photos of myself myself! In any case, the password they quoted was one that I had not used on email or any of the social networks for many years so no problem.

Then this week. Firstly Airbnb sent me a note to say my email address had been changed and did I make the change. I followed the links provided to say that it was not me but then they asked my to login using the old email address and a password. The password had been changed so that did not work. I posted a message in Twitter to Airbnb and mentioned all this. I am waiting to hear back.

And then bookings.com sent me a note asking me to check my password change and confirmation of a hotel booking in London for GPB 350. This was followed by a cancellation charge of GBP 167. Interesting, me checking into a hotel in London when I am sitting in Singapore! Bookings.com had a very helpful operator who managed to sort a solution out. Kudos to them.

I then tried to access my hotels.com account and the password was marked as wrong and/or the email address. Clicking forgot password resulted in nothing so I contacted hotels.com and received the following note,  noting the same thing, that my email address had been changed. I am waiting for them to give me some customer service but the one thing I am missing to get them working is my Aussie mobile – the SIM Card is in Manila! They did send me a helpful email saying that

“This is to acknowledge your email. Please be advised, our policy is not to disclose any information once you failed on our security verification. For us to proceed with the investigation, we need you to provide the correct email address or phone number, or, you may call us and our colleagues will glad to assist you.”

Of course they do not give you a phone number to call.

So, the scores?

  • Airbnb @airbnb – they have almost helped me so 5/10
  • Booking.com @bookingcom – full marks, brilliant service 10/10
  • hotels.com @Hotels.comASIA – I have booked many rooms through them but posting messages has not helped. I have just had a chat sessions, still not sorted but a “Specialized Team” will contact me – 3/10 (at the moment as I have free nights I cannot access)

Well that has been a Saturday wasted chasing all this up!

Update – 8 March 2019 – hotels.com has been repaired finally. So far it looks like all dodgy attempts to screw something free out of me are from Jersey DS!

Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905, Volume 2 – Julian S. Corbett – Review

Back in September 2018 I reviewed Volume 1 of Julian Corbett’s Maritime Operations of the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905. Volume 2 arrived recently and replaced my reading list for a period of time as I followed the maritime operations from the Genesis of the Russian Baltic Fleet, through the Battle of Tsushima (or as Corbett describes it, the Battle of the Sea of Japan) and which completes with a look at the two Sakhalin expeditions.

So this volume covers:

  1. Genesis of the Baltic Fleet
  2. Cruise of the Smolensk and Peterburg
  3.  The Dogger Bank Incident
  4. Situation at Port Arthur to the First Attack on 203-metre hill
  5. The Blockade of Kwangtung
  6. 203-metre Hill
  7. Destruction of the Ships at Port Artur and the Torpedo Attack on the Sevastopol
  8. Fall of Port Arthur
  9. Progress of the Baltic Fleet
  10. Japanese Preparations for the Baltic Fleet
  11. Fleet Movements in March and April
  12. Concentration of and the Final Approach of the Baltic Fleet up to Contact
  13. The Battle of the Sea of Japan (Tsushima) in five phases
  14. Admiral Nebogatov’s Surrender
  15. The Sakhalin Expeditions

I will admit that in the past I have tended to stop reading the histories at the climax that is Tsushima so reading the last chapters in this book were well worth the effort.

Adding Corbett to my Kindle copies of Semenoff as well as the works by Hough, and Warner & Warner in particular, I feel I have a good view (at least as good as an historical view can get) of the Maritime side of the Russo-Japanese War (RJW). I will look for further works on the land warfare at the time but I can’t help but wonder if the performance of the Japanese against the Russians during the RJW encouraged the Japanese to take on the Soviets and Mongolians at Khalkin-gol (Nomonhan), a battle that resulted in the Japanese agreeing to a peace with the Soviets and which allowed the Soviets to concentrate on their war with Germany.

Julian Corbett (Later Sir Julian Corbett) wrote the Maritime Operations of the Russo-Japanese War as a confidential publication for the Intelligence Division of the Admiralty War Staff. It was never made available to the general reader until well after Corbett’s death. Corbett composes a picture of the war by writing a continuous narrative that weaves the interrelationship of land and sea events as they affect each other. He examines the political objectives, the geography of the area as well as the naval aspects to tell that story. Because Corbett writes in a continues narratives he is easy to read as well.

Naval Institute Press published a hardback version of Corbett’s work back in 1994. This is the first release of the history in paperback. It is also released in an eBook version (Kindle). As with Volume 1, there are none of the original illustrations that accompanied the 1914/1915 editions of Corbett’s work.

This volume is smaller than the first volume but arguably more exciting. There are 24 chapters in this volume. 11 Appendices and an Index.

For example, on page 404 is Appendix III, which contains a translation of the Instructions for the Vladivostok Squadron  sent by Vice-Admiral Stark to Rear-Admiral Baron Shtakelberg at Vladivostok  and notes:

I must point out that Japan has not subscribed to the Paris Declaration of the 16th April 1856; and therefore we shall not hesitate to inflict as much damage as possible to the enemy on the sea. Being convinced that during war the Japanese merchant vessels will not think twice about flying the flags of other nationalities, I am forwarding to your Excellency copies of the regulations laid down for Japanese merchant vessels, which may be of use in establishing the actual nationality of vessels stopped by you, of which only valuable prizes captured at no great distance from Vladivostok may be sent to that port; all the remainder must be sent to the bottom without consideration of pity and without hesitation.

This book belongs on any naval historian’s bookshelf, and now that it is available in both paperback and electronic form it is available to a wider reading audience.

As before, as a companion set to Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905, Vols 1 and 2, look for a copy of The Russo-Japanese War at Sea 1904-5: Volume 1-Port Arthur, the Battles of the Yellow Sea and Sea of Japan and Volume 2: The Battle of Tsushima and the Aftermath by Vladimir Semenoff These works provide a view of the war from the Russian side.

Product Details

In the same way I did with Volume 1, I highly recommend this work, especially for any naval historian, general reader with an interest in naval or Asian history, or anyone interested in the zenith of the pre-dreadnought period.

Saving Space

Reader TWR asked how to reduce image size in WordPress. What follows is a little tutorial. I took two pictures tonight. The first is here to the right.

Some modern Japanese ships seem appropriate for this. The file size on the original image is 5MB as can be seen from the next image – which is copied straight from the WordPress media library.

The size of the original image is 3120 x 3120 pixels and I am sure the blue background is increasing the file size a little.

You can see details of the image here. There is the link to delete the image of course but there is also a second link which is to edit the Image. This editing is performed inside WordPress.

I have a second image now which I will select Edit Image on and we can have a look at how you cut back the image size. Because I took two images we can also see how the images look when clicked on.

OK, so the second image was resized to 2148 by typing 2148 over the top of 3120.

You can see on these dialog boxes that you also crop the image by aspect ration or by selection. Lastly, you can restore the original image size but I think that only works if you are still in this part of the editor. Once you go back there is no turning back.

When you have the desired size, and I would suggest playing around with it until you get the resolution you are after, press <BACK> at the bottom of the screen to bring you back to the Media Library.

Now you can see after resizing, the file size has dropped from 5MB to 989KB so that is a whole 4MB saved on that one file.

The reason I was working with two nearly identical files is so that you can compare the resolution both before and after resizing.

The photo below is the 989KB one with lower resolution than the original.

The other way to save space is to have your images out in the cloud somewhere and point to them as a URL from within the WordPress post, in much the same way I point to YouTube videos.

However that will likely slow your blog down a little.

So, a lesson in resolution and space.

Next will be some book reviews followed by some new toys to look at.

A new home for the Hole

Thomo’s Hole has been hosted here in WordPress for quite a few years now but is starting to run out of space, especially for photographs. Some solutions are:

  1. Go back through previous posts and lower the resolution of the photos – perhaps just do that through the media library (tedious but possible)
  2. Take a paid option at WordPress which increases storage
  3. Move all the photos out to one of my cloud storage providers and share links from there back to the posts and pages in the Hole
  4. Move the Hole to another CMS provider (like blogspot)
  5. Move the Hole out to the cloud (Azure, Google, AWS) although these seem a rather expensive option for what is, from my perspective, an unmonetized hobby blog

So, gentle readers, any suggestions? I am at that indecision/planning/pass the beer stage of deciding on what to do.