Thursday, December 8, 2016

John Glenn, RIP -- December 8, 2016

www.listal.com

When a television channel recently showed The Right Stuff, I thought "John Glenn is still alive."  I was sad to learn that he has passed on. 

He served as a Marine fighter pilot in both World War II and the Korean War.  When NASA looked for the first group of astronauts for the Mercury program, he was almost too old and lacked the required degree in science, but made the cut.  On 20-January-1962, in Friendship 7, he became the first American to make an orbital space flight. 

When I was growing up, we heard a lot more about John Glenn than Alan Shepard or Gus Grissom, who flew before him.  We had a Time Life book and record set about the space program and Glenn was heavily featured. 

In 1974 he ran for the US Senate as a Democrat and won.  He ran for President in 1984, and got a boost from his portrayal in The Right Stuff

I remember how excited he was to fly on the Space Shuttle in 1998,. 

Godspeed, John Glenn. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pearl Harbor Day, 2016 -- December 7, 2016


75 years ago a sneak attack by forces of the Japanese Empire sank or damaged much of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in the territory of Hawaii. The Japanese Empire came to regret doing this.

Dreadnaught USS Arizona (BB-39) was commissioned in 1916.  During the attack on Pearl Harbor, she was bombed and a powder magazine exploded.  She sank and 1,177 members of her crew died.  She was too damaged to raise, so she remains at the bottom of the harbor.  The memorial opened in 1962.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Killed the First Day of the Somme -- WN Hodgson -- December 6, 2016


On 01-July-2016, I missed the opportunity to mark the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  More British soldiers died on that day than on any other day in history.  I thought to make up for it, I would write about some of the poets who died that day.  There were a lot.

WN Hodgson published under the pen name Edward Melbourne.  He wrote "Before Action" on 30-June-1916, one day before he died.

The image is from the movie The Battle of the Somme

By all the glories of the day
And the cool evening's benison
By that last sunset touch that lay
Upon the hills when day was done,
By beauty lavishly outpoured
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived
Make me a soldier, Lord.

By all of all man's hopes and fears
 And all the wonders poets sing,
 The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavour that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.

I, that on my familiar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say good-bye to all of this;
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Sopwith Aeroplanes, Part I -- December 5, 2016


The 15-September-1919 issue of Aerial Age Weekly featured the first of two parts of "The Sopwith Aeroplanes," an article about the products of the Sopwith Aviation Company.

THE SOPWITH AEROPLANES

The Sopwith "Tabloid" biplane although built in 1913, has had such an extraordinary effect on aeroplane design in general, and in particular was certainly the beginning of the greatness of the House of Sopwith, that it undoubtedly merits inclusion in this series of article reproduced through the courtesy of "Flight."



The Sopwith "Tabloid"
 
In its original form the Sopwith "Tabloid" was built as a side-by-side two-seater, with an 80 h.p. Gnome engine. It was built for Mr. Hawker, the famous Sopwith pilot, to be taken out to Australia in 1914, but very soon after its triumphant appearance a number of single-seaters of similar type were ordered by and built for the Army. This machine, as shown in the accompanying illustrations, had a skid type under carriage and a balanced rudder, while there was no fixed vertical fin. The pilot and passenger sat side by side, the pilot on the left. Lateral control was by means of wing warping. When this machine paid its first visit to Hendon it left everyone agape, as such speed as it developed had certainly never been seen, nor probably been believed possible, with a biplane type of machine. In those days the general opinion was that for speed one must have a monoplane, and it was not until the advent of the "Tabloid" that this fallacy was effectively cleared up. After that the small fast single-seater biplane received a great impetus, and the type began to become general all over the world. It will, therefore, be seen that the world at large, and British aviation in particular, owes a debt of gratitude to the Sopwith firm for having demonstrated the possibilities of the small biplane. In addition to its great maximum speed--92 m.p.h.--the "Tabloid" was remarkable in those days for its great speed range, as it would fly as slowly as 36 m.p.h. This was a range of speeds which none of the contemporary monoplanes were capable of.

In its single-seater form the "Tabloid" underwent various minor alterations. Thus one form was with skid undercarriage, but with the front struts slightly more raked than they were in the original machine. Another slight alteration was the addition of a vertical fin in front of the rudder, which latter was not balanced. The next step in the evolution of the "Tabloid" was seen when the late Mr. Harold Barnwell flew a "Tabloid" in the aerial Derby. This machine, although similar to its prototype, was fitted with a Vee-type undercarriage. Finally, the "Tabloid" entered the last stage of its development by being fitted with ailerons instead of warping wings, and in this form it was a most successful single-seater scout.

The Gun 'Bus

As a result of their experience with Sopwith school pushers, the Sopwith firm were given an order by the Greek Government for a number of somewhat similar machines, carrying a pilot and gunner, but not fitted with dual controls. A gun was mounted in the nose of the nacelle. This order was nearing completion when war broke out, and the machines were commandeered by the Admiralty. From August, 1914, they were immediately put into service, being among the first aeroplanes to be armed, and were equipped with land undercarriages instead of the original float chassis. The earlier batches were equipped with 100 h.p. Gnomes, but later water-cooled Sunbeams were fitted. The scale drawings and photograph show one of these machines fitted with a 150 h.p. Sunbeam.



The Torpedo Seaplane

In 1915 the Sopwith Co. built for the Admiralty a torpedo-carrying aeroplane. This machine was of an experimental character, but is notable as having been the forerunner of the famous Sopwith "Cuckoo." It was fitted with a 200 h.p. Canton-Unne engine.

The Tractor Seaplane

In the matter of tractor seaplanes the Sopwith Co. had already done good work in connection with, for instance, the circuit of Britain, and they were therefore in a position to undertake the design and construction of machines of this type when, early in the War, the Admiralty ordered some seaplanes. It was designed for reconnaissance work and was unarmed. The engine fitted was a 100 h.p. Gnome monosoupape. From the illustration it will be seen that this machine was fitted with folding wings. A somewhat similar machine of the land type was built also. The land machine differed, however, in several respects from the seaplane, apart from the difference in undercarriage. Thus the span of the two planes was equal. Machines of this type caused curiosity briefly on account of the bomb racks fitted on the struts of the undercarriage, a feature that was somewhat unusual in those days.

The Sopwith Bat Boat

Although not included in the drawings, the Sopwith Bat Boat merits brief mention here on account of the good work done by this type of machine before the War. Thus it may be remembered that the Sopwith Bat Boat, which was first exhibited at the Olympia Aero Show of 1913 and which had a 100 h.p. Green engine, won the Mortimer Singer Trophy by starting off the sea, coming down on land, and starting from the land alighting on the sea again. This was accomplished by fitting it, in addition to the boat, with a collapsible wheel undercarriage. Probably this was the first flying boat to be built in Great Britain. A later type of bat boat was fitted with a 200 h.p. Salmson engine and differed from the previous type in various details. Thus, for instance, it had a straight top plane, while the bottom plane had a pronounced dihedral. Also it had a single rudder instead of the twin rudders of the previous model. Also the tail booms were so arranged as to form a Vee when seen in plan view. Boats of this type were ordered by Germany before the War, and from photographs later published in German aviation papers it would appear that the Germans made several copies of this machine, imitating the original down to the smallest details.

The Baby Seaplane

The Baby Seaplane was an immediate development of the "Tabloid," from which it differed principally in the fitting of floats instead of wheels. One of these machines made history by winning the Schneider Trophy at Monaco, and the Baby Seaplane is very similar to the famous Sopwith "Schneider." In this machine wing warping had given way to ailerons. The floats were of the plain, non-stepped type, and a tail float of considerable size was fitted under the stern. The engine originally fitted was a 100 h.p. Gnome monosoupape, but later on 110 and 130 h.p. Clergets were also used.

It is of interest to note that, although this seaplane performed highly successfully at its first appearance, it was more or less put on one side at the outbreak of the War, and it was not until November, 1914, that the demand arose for a fast single-seater seaplane. It was then immediately put into production, and from that distant date until the signing of the Armistice the Sopwith Baby Seaplane has been continually in service.

The 1 1/2-Strutters

The Sopwith 1 1/2-Strutter has claims to great historical distinction, not only for its great capabilities for use as a fighter, but because, indirectly, it set a new fashion in aerial fighting, being the first British aeroplane to carry a synchronized gun firing through the propeller. The Sopwith-Kauper synchronization gear which made this possible was developed at the Sopwith works, and was as much a product of this firm as was the machine in which it was installed. It was also fitted with the Scarfe gun ring for the gunner, which has since become such a well-established feature on all fighters. The 1 1/2-Strutter was originally designed as a high-performance two-seater fighter, with a 100 h.p. Clerget engine. At the time of its introduction it was justly regarded as an extraordinarily good 'bus, having an excellent performance and a good manoeuvrability. Incidentally it established a world's altitude record for an altitude of 23,980 ft. In view of its good performance, coupled with its (for the times) excellent armament, the 1 1/2-Strutter had a tremendous success, and it is not surprising that many machines were built to the order of the Governments of Roumania, Russia, America and Belgium. In addition, it might be mentioned that the French Government has manufactured under license no less than 4,500 machines of this model. In addition to the novel points connected with the mounting and firing of the guns carried, the 1 1/2-Strutter was interesting in several other respects. Thus the wing bracing—which gave it its name —was very unusual, and in a modified form set a new fashion, so to speak. The top plane was in two halves, bolted to the top of a central cabane, while the spars were provided with an extra support in the shape of shorter struts running from the top longerons to the top plane spars some distance out. In the single-seaters to follow this bracing of the top plane was generally adopted, with the exception that the central cabane was done away with, the outer struts of the W formation having a slightly less pronounced slope, and supporting a separate top plane centre section. Aerodynamically the l/2-Strutter is of interest in being fitted with an air brake in the form of adjustable flaps in the trailing edge of the lower plane adjacent to the fuselage. These flaps could be rotated by the pilot until they were normal to the wind, thus helping to pull the machine up when about to land.

A more successful innovation incorporated in this machine was the trimming gear, by means of which the angle of incidence of the tail plane could be altered during flight. In this manner the difference in weight of the passenger carried could be counteracted by the tail setting, and also the tail could be adjusted for high speed, climbing, etc. This feature has since become universal practice on passenger-carrying machines.

The 1 1/2-Strutter Bomber

Originally designed as a two-seater fighter, the l 1/2-Strutter was later adopted as a single-seater bomber, and it is the machine which has been so successful in bombing, with good results, such towns as Essen, Munich and Frankfort. For bombing work the 1 1/2-Strutter was equipped with a 130 h.p. Clerget, which afterwards took the place of the 110 h.p. Clerget in the standard two-seater fighter model. It might also be mentioned that fairly recently the French Government converted a large number of two-seaters into school machines with dual controls. These machines are fitted with 80 h.p. Le Rhone engines.

The Sopwith "Pup"
The famous single-seater scout bears a strong family resemblance to the Sopwith "family," being reminiscent of both the 1 1/2-Strutter and of the original "Tabloid." The "Pup" was brought into existence principally with the object of tackling the Fokker monoplanes that were at one time doing far too well on the Western Front. In this object it succeeded admirably, and although judged by present standards it is of very low power—it was fitted with an 80 h.p. Le Rhone engine—its performance and ease of handling endeared it so much to its pilots that its merits are spoken of with much affection, tinged with a little regret that it has had to give way for higher-powered machines. A feature of the "Pup" are the window panels in the upper plane. The windows were rendered necessary by the fact that the pilot sat with his head below the level of the plane. A single machine gun firing through the propeller is mounted above the fuselage.

The "Pup" (Sea Type)

When starting from and alighting on the deck of a ship became the fashion, the Sopwith "Pup" was modified slightly for this purpose, and good work was done by this type on the North Sea patrols, for which work it proved very suitable. The "Pup" machine did not differ greatly from the standard type.



The Sopwith Triplane

Amongst all the Sopwith productions, nearly all of which have attained great fame, none is more characteristic than the triplane, affectionately known as the "Tripe" or "Tripehound." This machine was fitted with 130 h.p. Clerget engines. The principal objects aimed at in this notable design were, first, the attainment of a high degree of visibility, or, rather, the reduction to a minimum of the pilot's blind angle. With his head on a level with the intermediate plane, he enjoys a practically unrestricted arc of vision through about 120°, whilst sections cut out of the centre of the intermediate plane enable him to have a good view of the ground when landing, the position of the cockpit being such that the bottom plane has no restricting influence on the view. The narrowness of the chord made available by the use of three main planes also allowed the pilot an exceptional view upwards and to either side, an important consideration in a purely offensive machine. The second object aimed at was an increase in maneuverability, and the triplane principle was adopted to secure this purpose in consequence of the fact that, owing to the narrow chord, the shift of the center of pressure with varying angles of incidence is relatively smaller than in a biplane, and consequently demands a shorter length of fuselage to carry the tail. At the same time the small span reduces the moments of inertia in the horizontal plane, and a machine is thus obtained which is highly responsive to its controls and which can add the important ability to dodge to its other strategic advantages. The consideration of movement of the centre of pressure enabled single I-struts to be adopted in place of the usual pairs springing one from each spar. This construction also leads to a sensible simplification of the wiring system. Ailerons of the unbalanced type are fitted to all three planes.

The Sopwith "Camel"

Few aeroplanes have done more to repulse German attempts at aerial supremacy than the famous "Camel," so called from the hump which it carries on the forward top side of its fuselage by virtue of the fitting of two fixed machine guns, both firing through the propeller. Furnished with a 130 h.p. Clerget, and designed to achieve a very high performance both in climb and speed, the "Camel" showed itself a redoubtable fighter against antagonistic scouts, and also performed extraordinarily well as a Zeppelin catcher, in which latter connection its ability to climb with great rapidity was extremely valuable. A good angle of vision was obtained by keeping the pilot fairly well forward, and also by the positive stagger of the planes. In place of the large transparent panels fitted in the middle of the top plane in the "Pup," that of the "Camel" was provided with a faired-off slot. The remainder of the designed followed "Pup" lines pretty closely, but it is of interest to note that this machine was the first to be fitted with two machine guns, a practice that has since been extensively adopted in both Allied and enemy aeroplanes of a similar type.

The Sopwith "Camel" (Sea Type)

This design was almost identical with the above, except that the fuselage was made detachable at the rear of the pilot's seat, enabling the machine to be conveniently stowed aboard ship. It was used for flying from the deck of seaplane carriers, and, in addition to this, was also carried on some of our fast cruisers. The method of launching was off the Barbet guns. It will be appreciated that it required a machine of considerable efficiency to get off with certainty and satisfaction with so short a run.



{To be concluded)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Over the Top -- Chapter XXII -- November 30, 2016


Arthur Guy Empey was a member of the US Cavalry who resigned to volunteer for the British Army during World War One. He was wounded during the Battle of the Somme. When the US entered the war, he tried to rejoin the US Army, but was rejected because of his wounds and possibly because of some disparaging comments about American draftees. He wrote a book, Over the Top, about his experiences during the war. With the 100th anniversary of the war, I thought it might be interesting to post his story. Empey later became a prolific pulp magazine author, a movie star and producer, and a playwright. 

From "Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches" by Empey:   
Elephant Dugout. A large, safe, and roomy dugout, braced by heavy steel ribs or girders.

CHAPTER I -- From Mufti to Khaki
CHAPTER II -- Blighty to Rest Billets
CHAPTER III -- I Go to Church
CHAPTER IV -- Into the Trench
CHAPTER V -- Mud, Rats and Shells
CHAPTER VI -- "Back of the Line"
CHAPTER VII -- Rations
CHAPTER VIII -- The Little Wooden Cross

CHAPTER IX -- Suicide Annex  CHAPTER X -- "The Day's Work" 

CHAPTER XX -   Chats With Fritz
CHAPTER XXI -  "About Turn"

  

CHAPTER XXII
PUNISHMENTS AND MACHINE-GUN STUNTS

SOON after my arrival in France, in fact from my enlistment, I had found that in the British Army discipline is very strict. One has to be very careful in order to stay on the narrow path of government virtue.

There are about seven million ways of breaking the King's Regulations; to keep one you have to break another.

The worst punishment is death by a firing squad or "up against the wall" as Tommy calls it.

This is for desertion, cowardice, mutiny, giving information to the enemy, destroying or willfully wasting ammunition, looting, rape, robbing the dead, forcing a safeguard, striking a superior, etc.

Then comes the punishment of sixty-four days in the front-line trench without relief. During this time you have to engage in all raids, working parties in No Man's Land, and every hazardous undertaking that comes along. If you live through the sixty-four days you are indeed lucky.

This punishment is awarded where there is a doubt as to the willful guilt of a man who has committed an offence punishable by death.

Then comes the famous Field Punishment No. I. Tommy has nicknamed it "crucifixion." It means that a man is spread-eagled on a limber wheel, two hours a day for twenty-one days. During this time he only gets water, bully beef, and biscuits for his chow. You get "crucified" for repeated minor offences.

Next in order is Field Punishment No. 2.

This is confinement in the "Clink," without blankets, getting water, bully beef, and biscuits for rations and doing all the dirty work that can be found. This may be for twenty-four hours or twenty days, according to the gravity of the offence.

Then comes "Pack Drill" or Defaulters' Parade. This consists of drilling, mostly at the double, for two hours with full equipment. Tommy hates this, because it is hard work. Sometimes he fills his pack with straw to lighten it, and sometimes he gets caught. If he gets caught, he grouses at everything in general for twenty-one days, from the vantage point of a limber wheel.

Next comes "C. B." meaning "Confined to Barracks." This consists of staying in billets or barracks for twenty-four hours to seven days. You also get an occasional Defaulters' Parade and dirty jobs around the quarters.

The Sergeant-Major keeps what is known as the Crime Sheet. When a man commits an offence, he is "Crimed," that is, his name, number, and offence is entered on the Crime Sheet. Next day at 9 A.m. he goes to the "Orderly Room" before the Captain, who either punishes him with "C. B." or sends him before the O. C. (Officer Commanding Battalion). The Captain of the Company can only award "C. B."

Tommy many a time has thanked the King for making that provision in his regulations.

To gain the title of a "smart soldier," Tommy has to keep clear of the Crime Sheet, and you have to be darned smart to do it.

I have been on it a few times, mostly for "Yankee impudence."

During our stay of two weeks in rest billets our Captain put us through a course of machine-gun drills, trying out new stunts and theories.

After parades were over, our guns' crews got together and also tried out some theories of their own in reference to handling guns. These courses had nothing to do with the advancement of the war, consisted mostly of causing tricky jams in the gun, and then the rest of the crew would endeavor to locate as quickly as possible the cause of the stoppage. This amused them for a few days and then things came to a standstill.

One of the boys on my gun claimed that he could play a tune while the gun was actually firing, and demonstrated this fact one day on the target range. We were very enthusiastic and decided to become musicians.

After constant practice I became quite expert in the tune entitled All Conductors Have Big Feet.

When I had mastered this tune, our two weeks' rest came to an end, and once again we went up the line and took over the sector in front of G---- Wood.

At this point the German trenches ran around the base of a hill, on the top of which was a dense wood. This wood was infested with machine guns, which used to traverse our lines at will, and sweep the streets of a little village, where we were billeted while in reserve.

There was one gun in particular which used to get our goats, it had the exact range of our "elephant" dugout entrance, and every evening, about the time rations were being brought up, its bullets would knock up the dust on the road; more than one Tommy went West or to Blighty by running into them.

This gun got our nerves on edge, and Fritz seemed to know it, because he never gave us an hour's rest. Our reputation as machine gunners was at stake; we tried various ruses to locate and put this gun out of action, but each one proved to be a failure, and Fritz became a worse nuisance than ever. He was getting fresher and more careless every day, took all kinds of liberties, with us,—thought he was invincible.

Then one of our crew got a brilliant idea and we were all enthusiastic to put it to the test.

Here was his scheme:

When firing my gun, I was to play my tune, and Fritz, no doubt, would fall for it, try to imitate me as an added insult. This gunner and two others would try, by the sound, to locate Fritz and his gun. After having got the location, they would mount two machine guns in trees, in a little clump of woods, to the left of our cemetery, and while Fritz was in the middle of his lesson, would open up and trust to luck. By our calculations, it would take at least a week to pull off the stunt.

If Fritz refused to swallow our bait, it would be impossible to locate his special gun, and that's the one we were after, because they all sound alike, a slow pup-pup-pup. Our prestige was hanging by a thread. In the battalion we had to endure all kinds of insults and fresh remarks as to our ability in silencing Fritz. Even to the battalion that German gun was a sore spot.

Next day, Fritz opened up as usual. I let him fire away for a while and then butted in with my "pup-pup-pup-pup-pup-pup." I kept this up quite a while, used two belts of ammunition. Fritz had stopped firing to listen. Then he started in; sure enough, he had fallen for our game, his gun was trying to imitate mine, but, at first he made a horrible mess of that tune. Again I butted in with a few bars and stopped. Then he tried to copy what I had played. He was a good sport all right, because his bullets were going away over our heads, must have been firing into the air. I commenced to feel friendly toward him.

This duet went on for five days. Fritz was a good pupil and learned rapidly, in fact, got better than his teacher. I commenced to feel jealous. When he had completely mastered the tune, he started sweeping the road again and we clicked it worse than ever. But he signed his death warrant by doing so, because my friendship turned to hate. Every time he fired he played that tune and we danced.

The boys in the battalion gave us the "Ha! Ha!" They weren't in on our little frame-up.

The originator of the ruse and the other two gunners had Fritz's location taped to the minute; they mounted their two guns, and also gave me the range. The next afternoon was set for the grand finale.

Our three guns, with different elevations, had their fire so arranged, that, opening up together, their bullets would suddenly drop on Fritz like a hailstorm.

About three the next day, Fritz started "pup-pupping" that tune. I blew a sharp blast on a whistle, it was the signal agreed upon; we turned loose and Fritz's gun suddenly stopped in the middle of a bar. We had cooked his goose, and our ruse had worked. After firing two belts each, to make sure of our job, we hurriedly dismounted our guns and took cover in the dugout. We knew what to expect soon. We didn't have to wait long, three salvos of "whizz-bangs" came over from Fritz's artillery, a further confirmation that we had sent that musical machine-gunner on his westward bound journey.

That gun never bothered us again. We were the heroes of the battalion, our Captain congratulated us, said it was a neat piece of work, and, consequently, we were all puffed up over the stunt.

There are several ways Tommy uses to disguise the location of his machine gun and get his range. Some of the most commonly used stunts are as follows:

At night, when he mounts his gun over the top of his trench and wants to get the range of Fritz's trench he adopts the method of what he terms "getting the sparks." This consists of firing bursts from his gun until the bullets hit the German barbed wire. He can tell when they are cutting the wire, because a bullet when it hits a wire throws out a blue electric spark. Machine-gun fire is very damaging to wire and causes many a wiring party to go out at night when it is quiet to repair the damage.

To disguise the flare of his gun at night when firing, Tommy uses what is called a flare protector. This is a stove-pipe arrangement which fits over the barrel casing of the gun and screens the sparks from the right and left, but not from the front. So Tommy, always resourceful, adopts this scheme. About three feet or less in front of the gun he drives two stakes into the ground, about five feet apart. Across these stakes he stretches a curtain made out of empty sandbags ripped open. He soaks this curtain in water and fires through it. The water prevents it catching fire and effectively screens the flare of the firing gun from the enemy.

Sound is a valuable asset in locating a machine gun, but Tommy surmounts this obstacle by placing two machine guns about one hundred to one hundred fifty yards apart. The gun on the right to cover with its fire the sector of the left gun and the gun on the left to cover that of the right gun. This makes their fire cross; they are fired simultaneously.

By this method it sounds like one gun firing and gives the Germans the impression that the gun is firing from a point midway between the guns which are actually firing, and they accordingly shell that particular spot. The machine gunners chuckle and say, "Fritz is a brainy boy, not 'alf he ain't."

But the men in our lines at the spot being shelled curse Fritz for his ignorance and pass a few pert remarks down the line in reference to the machine gunners being "windy" and afraid to take their medicine.

Next: CHAPTER XXIII --Gas Attacks and Spies

Monday, November 28, 2016

Fidel Castro -- November 28, 2016

www.listal.com

Fidel Castro is dead.  I have always had mixed feelings about him.  Cuba has universal health care, near-universal literacy and very good levels of infant survival.  On the other hand, he imposed a rigid authoritarian regime with little or no regard for human life.  The United States of America has supported many repressive regimes which have done worse than Cuba.  I remember stories that the Giants had offered him a contract as a pitcher, but it probably did not happen.  The world might have been a different place if it had...

Friday, November 25, 2016