A Funeral in Nebraska

in September, a burial took place in the Omaha National Cemetery. That’s not unusual, of course, our national cemeteries are sadly busy. But this one was a bit different. Amongst the Greatest Generation, it is not all that uncommon for both husband and wife to be entitled to military funerals with full honors. but again this one was unusual.

This one was for the widow of a retired US Air Force colonel, who started his career flying B-17s for the 8th United States Army Air Force, and who served in Korea and Vietnam. He had died earlier this year at age 101.

Col. John Watters and his wife, Jean Watters, on their wedding day. Jean Watters, a codebreaker of German intelligence communications during WWII, was buried Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Nebraska with British military honors.
AP

But as I said this funeral was a bit different, for the ceremony was a bit different. His widow Jean Annette Briggs was buried with full British Military Honors, for she had been a Wren (Women’s Royal Naval Service) in world war two. She told her family she drove a bus. It was not so. Her obituary from the cemetery’s site states:

Born in 1925, Jean Annette Briggs grew up in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk County, England. One of three girls, she was a talented artist who attended school in Cambridge. In 1943, at 18, she joined the Royal Navy and her family believed she drove a bus during World War II. Briggs actually operated a BOMBE machine, used to decode German military messages, and worked for master codebreaker Alan Turing. The secret ULTRA project cracked Germany’s ENIGMA code. Briggs married U.S. Army Air Corps pilot John Watters (1917-2018) after the war. He flew B-17s, and later the U.S. Air Force colonel served in Korea and Vietnam. The couple raised six children in Bellevue, Nebraska. Jean Briggs Watters died September 15, 2018, and was buried with British military honors. She is interred with her husband in Omaha National Cemetery (Section 3, Site 253).

It is simply impossible to estimate how many Joe’s and Tommy’s owe their life to this woman, who served quietly and without recognition, and after the war married a man who would serve in three of America’s wars, and bring up a family here, in Nebraska, near what our forefathers knew as Fort Crook, and we know as Offutt Air Force Base.

God grant you rest, Ma’am.

via: Stars and Stripes.

 

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, I have to get on a jet plane in a few hours. It was unplanned, which is always unpleasant, perhaps we’ll talk about it when I get back, we’ll see. In the meantime, I’ve selected several articles for you from the top twenty all time read articles here (from the several thousand we have written. I’ll only have my phone but will try to check in periodically. Uffda! In the meantime, from my friend, Oyia Brown…

An 85-year-old man was requested by his doctor for a sperm count as part of his physical exam. The doctor gave the man a jar and said, “Take this jar home and bring back a semen sample tomorrow.”The next day the 85-year-old man reappeared at the doctor’s office and gave him the jar, which was as clean and empty as on the previous day. The doctor asked, what happened and the man explained.

“Well, doc, it’s like this–first I tried with my right hand, but nothing. Then I tried with my left hand, but still nothing. Then I asked my wife for help. She tried with her right hand, then with her left, still nothing. She tried with her mouth, first with the teeth in, then with her teeth out, still nothing.

We even called up Arleen, the lady next door, and she tried too. First with both hands, then an armpit, and she even tried squeezin’ it between her knees, but still nothing.”

Continued at: If You Don’t At First Succeed…

See you soon.

Eclipse Day

Yep, today is the big day. For me, it’s the second time in my life that I get to see (if it’s not cloudy) a total solar eclipse. I’m not overwhelmingly excited, but it is very interesting, and yes, I do have my glasses ready! 🙂

Here’s a bit about the legends surrounding the events from around the world, from National Geographic. Enjoy – And don’t forget your glasses, how will you read NEO if you’re blind, after all!

video.nationalgeographic.com/video/101-videos/solar-eclipse-101

Viking sky wolves, Korean fire dogs, and African versions of celestial reconciliation—these are only some of the many ways people around the world, and through the ages, have sought to explain solar eclipses.

People in equatorial Africa will be treated to a rare view of a total solar eclipse this Sunday, November 3. Those living on the eastern North American coast, northern South America, southern Europe, or the Middle East, will get to see a partial solar eclipse.

“If you do a worldwide survey of eclipse lore, the theme that constantly appears, with few exceptions, is it’s always a disruption of the established order,” said E. C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California. That’s true of both solar and lunar eclipses.

Join Nat Geo and Airbnb #LiveFrom a geodesic dome on August 20 to talk to astrophysicist Jedidah Isler and photographer Babak Tafreshi about the science behind the upcoming total solar eclipse.

“People depend on the sun’s movement,” Krupp said. “[It’s] regular, dependable, you can’t tamper with it. And then, all of a sudden, Shakespearean tragedy arrives and time is out of joint. The sun and moon do something that they shouldn’t be doing.”

What that disruption means depends on the culture, and not everyone views an eclipse as a bad thing, said Jarita Holbrook, a cultural astronomer at the University of the Western Cape in Bellville, South Africa.

Some see it as a time of terror, while others look at a solar eclipse as part of the natural order that deserves respect, or as a time of reflection and reconciliation. (Related: “Pictures: Solar Eclipse Creates Ring of Fire.”)

SWALLOWING FIRE

Many cultures explain eclipses, both solar and lunar, as a time when demons or animals consume the sun or the moon, said Krupp.

“The Vikings saw a pair of sky wolves chasing the sun or the moon,” said the Griffith Observatory astronomer. When one of the wolves caught either of the shining orbs, an eclipse would result. (Read “Vikings and Native Americans” in National Geographic magazine.)

“In Vietnam, a frog or a toad [eats] the moon or the sun,” Krupp added, while people of the Kwakiutl tribe on the western coast of Canada believe that the mouth of heaven consumes the sun or the moon during an eclipse.

In fact, the earliest word for eclipse in Chinese, shih, means “to eat,” he said.

Keep reading at Solar Eclipse Myths From Around the World

Obama’s Legacy Of Deceit

obama-fail4It’s been quite a while since we featured Victor Davis Hanson, no good reason for it, it simply hasn’t happened. But he wrote one of the best articles on why Obama’s legacy is so tainted with most of us. Here’s some

In its remaining days in power, the Obama administration suddenly punished Vladimir Putin’s Russia for allegedly interfering in the U.S. presidential election. It claimed that Russian or Russian-hired hackers tapped into the records of the Democratic National Committee as well as the correspondence of John Podesta, a Clinton advisor.

But what the Obama administration did not say was that such cyber-crimes are by now old hat. Both the Russian and Chinese governments have been hacking into far more important U.S. records and government archives for years without earning retaliation

The administration also did not mention that the election hacking occurred largely because of Podesta’s own carelessness in using his security password. Moreover, it failed to acknowledge that the Republican National Committee was likewise targeted, but apparently had enough safeguards to prevent successful entry into its records. Finally, the administration refused to mention that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange went on the record saying that he did not receive the email trove from the Russians.

The truth is that Obama, throughout his presidency, has appeased Putin. As president, Obama ended the previously agreed-on Eastern European missile defense; he made open-mic promises to be more flexible with Putin after his reelection; he barely responded to Russia’s aggression toward Crimea and Ukraine; and he constantly criticized both George W. Bush and Mitt Romney for being inordinately tough on Russia.

Until now, he saw no reason to stop enabling Russia. Had Hillary Clinton won the election, Putin’s alleged hacking would not have earned any administration attention. But this time around, an emboldened Putin allegedly went too far and crossed the only red line that Obama might have enforced by supposedly enabling the release of information that might have turned off some voters on Clinton. Blaming Putin for Clinton’s loss was a more convenient narrative than admitting that Obama’s own policies have turned off even traditional Democratic constituencies and for now reduced the Democratic Party to a minority coastal party.

All administrations play fast and loose with the truth. It is the nature of high politics to fib, cover up, and fudge in order to ensure the success of a so-called noble agenda for the greater good. But not since the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations have we seen a president so institutionalize misrepresentation.

There are ample examples. It was clear from Clinton’s own leaked emails and from real-time memos from intelligence agencies that the September 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was nota spontaneous riot over an insensitive video produced by a reactionary Coptic zealot residing in the United States, as the administration claimed. But such a concoction fit Obama’s 2012 reelection narrative: the recklessness of right-wing Islamophobes endangers national security abroad. In contrast, the reality—a preplanned al-Qaeda-affiliated attack on an unprepared and semi-covert American consulate—challenged Obama’s reelection myth that Al Qaeda was “on the run” and that the administration was vigilant in ensuring security for our diplomatic personnel in the Middle East.

The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. at the time, Susan Rice, went on five Sunday morning talk shows to insist, quite wrongly, that the deaths of four Americans in the attack were the tragic result of ad hoc furor over intolerance. The video-maker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was abruptly jailed on probation violation charges, in a display of swift American justice never matched by a commensurately prompt arrest and prosecution of real terrorists.

One question that I have had for months is this. Why exactly would Putin favor Trump, a man who believes in, if not perhaps, the American Dream, some version of it, and not Hillary Clinton, an experienced and proven appeaser? Huh? Why? Just doesn’t make sense, does it? Continuing.

More recently we learned that Iran got the sanctions lifted before it met all its obligations outlined in the deal. Ben Rhodes, an architect of the swap and deputy national security advisor, boasted about the administration’s affinity for deceit. Rhodes, described by a New York Times interviewer as “a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal,” explained the methods of concocting an Iran narrative to a guidable media: “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” Rhodes intoned. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. . . The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

Rhodes’s cynicism was reminiscent of the boasts of another administration advisor, the MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who bragged of the administration’s ability to get passed the Patient Protection and affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), largely through deliberate deceit about the inevitable consequences of higher premiums and deductibles, the dropping of existing coverage and doctors, and increases in federal outlays. Some of the bill’s more obvious and unpopular elements—such as the employer mandate—were not enforced until after Obama’s 2012 reelection bid. Gruber admitted that the law was composed “in a tortured way” to delude people into accepting that “healthy people pay in and sick people get money”—a subterfuge that was both necessary and worked because of “the stupidity of the American voter,” a fact confirming that the “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage”

via Obama’s Legacy Of Deceit | Hoover Institution

You know I live out here with average Americans, and yes, I’m one myself. What’s our common characteristic? We’re uh, average. Neither rich nor desperately poor, brilliantly smart nor imbecilic, completely informed nor apathetic. Something else, which doesn’t apply as much to me anymore, we’re quite busy trying to make a living, and so don’t spend all that much time watching the swamp circus in Washington. We care, we always have, but we have mortgages, families, and all that stuff to do, so… But we can easily tell when the bullshit meter pegs, and it’s been going off almost constantly lately.

In many ways, the last administration reminded us of a stroppy teenager, who won’t shut up, and won’t go away. These are the kids that a sensible policeman arrests for disturbing the peace or some such. That this was our government became an embarrassment to us. And so we’ll try Trump. Sure he’s a noisy self-promoter, but we all saw The Music Man long ago, and kind of like town bands, in any case.

Is this the cure? We really ain’t got a clue but are convinced that it’s an improvement, and we’ll think about it for next time. Kicking the can down the road? Sure. But that’s better than scoring an own goal, after all.

The Price of Freedom

Western trails in Nebraska. Blue = Mormon Trai...

Image via Wikipedia

I wrote this back in 2012 and I think it’s worth a revisit.

Let’s start with a song, shall we:

Keep that in mind, we’ll be coming back to it.

As I sit here in my office, looking out the window, I can see 7 of the great American migration routes, from north to south:  The Lincoln Highway, US Highway 30, The Transcontinental Railroad, Interstate 80, The Platte River, The Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, and  the Pony Express Route. Think about how many hopes and dreams have passed through here.

Now combine that with Shenandoah. The song came about in the early 19th century and was made famous by US sailors all over the world. what does it speak of? It speaks of loneliness, of likely never seeing your friends and family again, and does it hauntingly. It was very appropriate for those sailors, and it was equally appropriate for (and loved by) those thousands/millions trekking through Nebraska on their way to a new and hopefully better life.

Why did they do it? Some, of course, to avoid the sheriff, or their girlfriend’s father but, mostly they were going to, not running from. To what? A better life, maybe, but they were going to have to build it themselves, and if you’ve ever driven I-80, you know what a trek it is today, let alone to walk it, as most did.

What motivated them is the same thing that has motivated American from the very beginning: Freedom. Freedom to build your own life. Freedom to be left alone, Freedom to be the very best that you can be.

What was the price they put on that freedom? That they would most likely, whether they succeeded or failed, never see their family and friends again. If they were very lucky they might receive a few letters in the course of the rest of their life.

And remember, it was out here, on the Oregon trail (and it’s fork in the road, the California trail) that the saying became true. “The sick died, the weak never started”, it was that kind of migration.

That freedom had quite a price, didn’t it?

What is yours worth?

Sunday Ride

You know when I was a kid, every once in a while on a nice Sunday afternoon my folks would decide to just go for a ride. It was a nice custom that seems to have died out, mostly.

But this is kind of a virtual one, for out here. Enjoy!

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