Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 11th, 2019

The Great War disillusioned and decimated a generation

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Dulce et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen – born March 18, 1893; killed November 7, 1918
(4 days before the Armistice)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 November 2019 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Army, Art, Daily life, Military

“I Will Never Let Boeing Forget Her”

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Alec MacGillis reports in ProPublica:

Samya Stumo liked to ride pigs. This was on her family’s farm, in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Caring for the pigs was one of her chores, so she would hop on an old, dilapidated Army jeep and drive a water tank to the sty, where she would fill the troughs and take a ride. She was 9 years old.

Samya had always been precocious. She started playing cello when she was 3, the year before her younger brother, Nels, became ill with cancer. When her mother, Nadia Milleron, returned from the hospital one day, Samya told her that she had learned to read.

Nels died, at the age of 2, shortly after Nadia had another son. The loss played a role in Samya’s eventual choice of studies: public health. So did the strain of activism in her family. Her mother’s uncle is Ralph Nader, the transportation-safety crusader turned progressive advocate and third-party presidential candidate. Her father, Michael Stumo, who grew up on a farm in Iowa, made frequent trips to Washington to lobby for small manufacturers and family farmers.

For Samya and her two surviving brothers, the family ethic was clear: seek justice for the disadvantaged, even if it means challenging authority. Samya could carry this to comic extremes. On a camping trip, she mounted a tree stump and inveighed against the family’s patriarchal dynamics, while everyone else, suppressing laughter, hurried to set up before dark.

In 2015, Samya graduated from the University of Massachusetts and won a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in global public health at the University of Copenhagen. Afterward, when she was 24, she got a job with ThinkWell, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., which works to expand health coverage in developing nations. ThinkWell sent her to East Africa to open offices there. The night before she left, earlier this year, she had dinner with Ralph Nader and his sister Claire.

During a stopover in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, Samya texted her family to say that she would arrive in Nairobi in a few hours. Then she boarded Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. She sat in Row 16, beside a Somali-American trucker from Minnesota. There were 149 passengers, from 35 countries, and eight crew members.

The plane, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, took off at 8:38 a.m. on March 10. A minute and a half later, it began to pitch downward. A sensor on the nose had malfunctioned, triggering an automated control system. The cockpit filled with a confusing array of audio and visual warnings. The pilots tried to counter the downward movement, but the automated system overrode them. Six minutes after takeoff, the plane dived into the earth at 575 miles per hour, carving out a crater 32 feet deep and 131 feet long, and killing everyone on board.

That day, Stumo, Milleron and their younger son, Torleif, flew to Addis Ababa. The crater had been cordoned off, but Milleron and Tor rushed past the barrier. “It was mostly dirt,” Stumo said later. “Where’s the plane? Where’s the pieces? This plane had just buried itself right straight into the ground vertically and just disintegrated.”

This was the second crash of a 737 MAX in five months, after a Lion Air jet plunged into the Java Sea in late October 2018. Investigators quickly focused on the automated system that had pushed down both jets, a feature new to this model of the 737. But a counternarrative gained force, too: that the crashes were, above all, the fault of insufficiently trained foreign pilots. “Procedures were not completely followed,” Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Mui­lenburg, said at a contentious news conference in April.

It has been more than a decade since a commercial airline crash in the United States resulted in fatalities, but airplane disasters are an unwelcome reminder of the inherent risk of flying. Some 2.7 million people fly on U.S. airlines every day; we’d rather not think about the brazenness of launching ourselves thousands of miles in a fragile tube, 30,000 feet above the earth. The appeal of blaming foreign pilots is easy to see. For the past eight months, however, the Stumo family has dedicated itself to demonstrating a scarier reality: that Boeing, the pride of American manufacturing, prioritized financial gain over safety, with the federal government as a collaborator.

Since the crash, the family members have made more than a dozen trips to Washington — a routine they expect to continue: They recently found an apartment in town. They have met separately with two dozen members of Congress, and with the heads of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, and testified before a House committee. They were the first American family to sue Boeing, accusing the company of gross negligence and recklessness. They have sought out whistle-blowers and filed Freedom of Information requests. They got a meeting for themselves and 11 other victims’ families with Elaine Chao, the secretary of transportation. Afterward, they held a large vigil outside the department’s headquarters. When the vigil broke up, I talked with Gregory Travis, a software engineer and pilot who has written extensively about the crashes. “Every past crash that I can think of was an accident, in that there was something that wasn’t really reasonably foreseeable,” Travis told me. “This was entirely different, and I don’t think anyone understands that. This was a collision of deregulation and Wall Street, and the tragic thing is that it was tragic. It was inevitable.”


I met the Stumos in 1996, in Winsted, a former mill town of 8,000 people in northwest Connecticut. After emigrating from Lebanon in the 1920s, Milleron’s grandfather opened a restaurant there. Her grandmother, Ralph Nader’s mother, lived in the town until her death, in 2006, at 99. Nader still visits from Washington, and his family funds two activists to monitor local affairs and bend them in a progressive direction.

Milleron and Stumo met in law school, at the University of Iowa, and afterward settled in Winsted, moving into a house on Hillside Avenue and starting a family. First Adnaan, then Samya, then Nels. They began attending an Orthodox Christian church in a nearby town. Nadia worked part time, as a court-appointed lawyer. Michael commuted 25 miles to a Hartford law firm, and joined the Winsted school board.

I came to Winsted for my first job, at the Winsted Journal, a weekly paper. At the first school board meeting I covered, Michael arrived late from Hartford. He was wearing a suit that hung loosely on his lanky 6-foot-1-inch frame. He carried a briefcase. He was only 29, but he looked every bit the engaged citizen and responsible father.

Michael and I met a few times at a gloomy bar on Main Street, where he offered a wry perspective on Winsted politics and the plight of small-town America. He invited me over for breakfast. I remember warm sunlight, pancakes, small kids and being impressed by Nadia, a tall woman with long, dark hair and an intently appraising gaze.

I was soon gone from Winsted, to a daily paper near Hartford. In 1999, after the birth of Tor and the death of Nels, the Stumo family bought a ramshackle 18th-century house on a farm, over the Massachusetts line. It had been owned by sheep farmers who published a magazine called The Shepherd; old issues were strewn about the house, and manure was piled 4 feet high in the barn. Michael worked for months cleaning the house and clearing out the barn with a tractor.

A year later, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 November 2019 at 10:40 am

Best cooked turkey: Spatchcock a fresh (never-frozen) turkey

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The skin of a turkey that’s not been frozen is much better than the (somewhat rubbery) skin of a bird that’s once been frozen. And spatchcocking the turkey ensures even cooking and easy carving.

Let me also point out using mayonnaise as a marinade — or coating the turkey with mayo before putting it into the oven.

Update: I’ve been told in a comment on Quora from Amanda Rene Fisher that spatchcocking doesn’t work all that well on large turkeys. It was suggested that if the bird is 16 pounds or more, just break it down and roast it rather than trying to spatchcock it. She adds, “spatchcocking is BRILLIANT for birds up to 14–15 pounds- especially if you put it over the dressing/stuffing! That was our “gateway drug” to getting a bigger one, and totally breaking it down and proceeding from there.”

Written by LeisureGuy

11 November 2019 at 10:18 am

A wonderful shave, and Bay Rum at that, with Above the Tie’s S1

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I love a great shave and this morning my face is totally smooth, soft, and fragrant, thanks to the guys in the photo.

Simpson’s Chubby 1 Best made a terrific lather from Phoenix Artisan’s Bay Rum, and I suspect some of the softness I feel in my skin is from the soap’s skin-friendly ingredients. Above the Tie’s S1 slant is a superb razor, here mounted on a UFO handle. Three passes were each enjoyable, and after a final rinse and dry, a good splash of Dominica Bay Rum finished the shave.

The week is off to an excellent start. And I figured out where I got the wonderful Ambercup squash I bought on impulse, and today I’m going to get another.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 November 2019 at 8:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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