Chateau Gaillard

Early in my childhood I read of the exploits of Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199), son of Henry II, and always fantasized about his building of Chateau Gaillard and its famous role in its future siege.

From Wikipedia:

Château Gaillard is a ruined medieval castle, located 300 feet (90 m) above the commune of Les Andelys overlooking the River Seine, in the Eure département of Normandy, France. It is located some 95 kilometres (59 mi) north-west of Paris and 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Rouen. Construction began in 1196 under the auspices of Richard the Lionheart, who was simultaneously King of England and feudal Duke of Normandy. The castle was expensive to build, but the majority of the work was done in an unusually short time. It took just two years and at the same time the town of Petit Andely was constructed. Château Gaillard has a complex and advanced design, and uses early principles of concentric fortification; it was also one of the earliest European castles to use machicolations. The castle consists of three enclosures separated by dry moats, with a keep in the inner enclosure.

Château Gaillard was captured in 1204 by the French king, Philip II, after a lengthy siege. In the mid-14th century, the castle was the residence of the exiled David II of Scotland. The castle changed hands several times in the Hundred Years’ War, but in 1449 the French captured Château Gaillard from the English for the last time, and from then on it remained in French ownership. Henry IV of France ordered the demolition of Château Gaillard in 1599; although it was in ruins at the time, it was felt to be a threat to the security of the local population. The castle ruins are listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture. The inner bailey is open to the public from March to November, and the outer baileys are open all year.

Clandestine Operations

There is a tremendous amount of things I cannot go into on this blog due to the general nature of it. I reserve my more incisive and relentless commentaries on more delicate issues for a secret blog that is published anonymously. The chances are you’ve never run across it and never will. And that’s fine by me.

However, from time to time I lean on my impression that those few people who do follow this blog are above average in intelligence and imagination, and have the ability, whole or in part, to at least reason in an honest way about matters of the world.  So here we go…

25% of people are 1-dimensional thinkers. About 60% (the vast majority of all people of all races, gender, class and in all nations) are 2-dimensional thinkers—they flatten complex ideas down to the point of least offense or in support of some idealogical bias. Only about 15% of people who ever lived or will live are 3-dimensional thinkers—they consider the entire argument and tailor responses, remedies and reactions according to the actual problem.

For example, the political issue of Gun Control.

1-dimensional: There is no such thing as evil, therefore people are intrinsically good. However, guns, being inanimate objects, are intrinsically evil. Therefore all guns should be destroyed. The paradox in this line of reasoning is instant and indicting—and by the way, this is a real argument that was made to me by a close high school friend. The logical fallacy is obvious and immediate. If evil cannot exist, then guns cannot be “intrisincally” evil (his terms).  Inanimate objects are exactly that—in (meaning not) + animate: they are not animated. Part of animation, by human definition, is moral animation.

Your average 1-dimensional thinker is a outright fool.

2-dimensional: Criminals use guns to threaten, injure, maim and kill people. Therefore all guns should be banned or destroyed.  Like all 2-dimensional arguments this not a line of reasoning, but a line of emoting. This response treats the argument emotionally, and provides an emotional answer. The fact the answer is false seems to bother 2-dimensionsal thinkers very little.  Why? Because “2-dimensional thinking” is an oxymoron. They are in fact 2-dimensional feelers. They are trying to offer a feel-good solution to a complex problem.

Further, the argument falls flat on its face when examineed in the clear water of history. Long before man invented gun (of any variety: drone, automatic, sem-automatic, rifle, pistol, musket, blunderbuss, muzzle loaded, breech loaded, matchlock, wheellock, snaplock, snaphance, miquelet, cartridge, etc.) the human race was doing a marvelous job of murdering each other with daggers, swords, lances, maces, clubs, axes, glaives, slingshots, bows and arrows, crossbows, trebuchets, etc.

2-dimensional thinking responds to the abuse of a right(s) by a minority by stripping the right from law abiding majority as well. Remember in grade school when the teacher would penalize the entire class because one student did or said something she didn’t like?

Well, it didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now.

Your average 2-dimensional thinker is a half-mind caring only for his or her half of the argument that brings them perceived emotional comfort.

3-dimensional: The “right to bear arms” (lets go ahead and use Constitutional language simply because most people are familiar with it) is a right, or privilege. People who abuse that right by threatening, injuring, maiming or killing someone else should have that right taken away, either temporarily or permanently. These people are correctly labeled as criminals. The remainder of the population that lawfully and wisely observe the rules for owning, transporting and discharging a firearm should keep their right.

This is 3-dimensional thinking.

The problem is neither with the object (in this case a lawful material, unlike child pornography which is an unlawful material), nor the entire population of this or any other nation. The problem is with a minority of people, criminals, who do not obey the law.  The solution should be strategically and precisely attentuated to address those persons who are violating the law, not those who are obeying it.

The 3-dimensional thinker is a whole intellect, nourished by analysis, balance and a lack of fear that empowers them to consider all the sharp corners of any argument.

To say this is obvious is tantamount so saying the sun is bright. It is an axiom, one recognized by any sane, clear-minded individual.

Moving on…

Now, knowing what we know now, let’s consider a popular target:  the conspiracy theory.

1-dimensional: There no such thing as a conspiracy; therefore, the phrase explains something that doesn’t exist.

2-dimensional: They’re are conspiracies, but they are rare and often conducted by people wearing black cloaks, masks who meet at night and have secret handshakes to identify fellow conspirators. And most conspiracies occurred in the 1400-1500’s.

3-dimensional: They’re are conspiracies, but by their very definition, they are difficult to prove.

Again, only 3-dimensional thinking approaches the question of a conspiracy properly. Here is the definition of “conspiracy.”

con·spir·a·cy [kuhn-spir-uh-see]
–noun, plural –cies.
1. the act of conspiring. 2. an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot. 3. a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose: He joined the conspiracy to overthrow the government. 4. an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act. 5. any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result.

After accumulating a quick list of ten people who regularly ridicule the idea of conspiracies as “absurd” I asked the same ten people if the founding of America constituted a conspiracy. Unanimously, all ten said the establishment of America by our founding fathers “did not in any way” constitute a conspiracy.

Thankfully, true 3-dimensional reasoning takes into consideration the fourth dimension, time, and perspective. I then asked the same ten people the same question, only rephrased:

Do you think George William Frederick considered the founding of America as having begun by conspiracy?

If you can believe it, all ten either said “no” or “who is he?”

Because I am pathologically thorough, I asked the same question a third time:

Do you think George William Frederick—King George III of England during the American Revolution—considered the founding of America by rebellion and colonial secession from Great Britain as either a conspiracy, or having started as one?

Astoundingly, three still said “no” and the other seven said “yes.”

By any of the five definitions listed above for “conspiracy” the American Revolution was a conspiracy, if only from the British perspective who considered the rebellion, well, a rebellion, or the unlawful throwing off of legitimate British government. A successful rebellion as it turned out, one that allowed me to write this blog, but a conspiracy nonetheless.

Its never a conspiracy when its in favor of what you want unless you are brave enough to admit it. It is only a conspiracy when someone else is doing it. By definition 5 (shown above) it can anything: partisan and political strategizing, corporate take-overs, lovers trying to conceal their adultery, military coups, etc.

I am struck by this fact because I once watched an internationally famous female television journalist inquiring about some events, and her tone in asking whether or not the events discussed would rise to conspiracy was absolutely mocking. Though she did not discredit a conspiracy outright, it was patently obvious from how she said it, her body language, her inflections and eye rolls that a conspiracy (of any kind, apparently, by her attitude) was on par with the credibility of the Keebler elves.

Now, I said all that to say this…

Call it suspicious, paranoia or even good old fashioned skepticism, but there is a part of my brain that is receptive to the uncomfortable premise that many things that seem totally random, are in fact clandestine evaluations.

McAfee recently had its antivirus program create havok by deleting critical operational files that it mistook for viruses.

An accident? Entirely and most feasibly so.

A clandestine shock assessment to measure the global impact of a purposefully delivered viral attack coordinated by McAfee, or any secret agency with which it is aligned? Probably not.

Personally, I think it is number 1.5.

If anything other than 1, this is how you do it: a deeply invasive estimate of world-wide security standards masked as a clerical error.

Governments, and obviously corporations, are not and never have been above using their own populations and client bases as unwitting test subjects and/or victims to gain credible intelligence they would defend as within the parameters of “national security.”

Just ask Ivan the Terrible or anybody at the CIA.

And let me say for the record: yes, I believe we landed on the moon.  And no, I don’t think George Bush and his fantasy cabal of war-mongering theocratic Neo-cons spent years secretly wiring the World Trade Centers to implode.

Question everyone and everything, even when they tell you to stop.

Yourself and your motives most of all, even when you tell yourself to stop.

Ottorino Respighi & I pini della Via Appia

Ottorino Respighi (1879 – 1936) was a great Italian composer, conductor and talented music theorist.  Probably most famous for his orchestral Roman trilogy including Fontane di Roma (“Fountains of Rome”), Pini di Roma (“Pines of Rome”), and Feste Romane (“Roman Festivals”).

The Pines of the Appian Way was first composed in 1924 in Rome by Bernardino Molinari.

The final I pini della Via Appia reflects the morning crescendo of a approaching Roman legion.  The score requires actual ancient trumpets called buccine, which are often replaced with flugelhorns.

The peal and arch of B-flat trumpets at 2:47 into the final score is one of the most beautiful and perfectly constructed swells in all music, classical or otherwise.

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk


Okay, while we’re at it…

I could easily turn this blog into a World War II fan blog if I wanted to — certainly not because I am glad we had to find a war as devastating as WWII, but because of the mechanized beauty that was reluctantly required to win it and save the world from a most heinous enemy.

The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

Easily in my top five war planes of WWII… up there with the P-51 Mustang and the Chance Vought F4U Corsair.

Aesthetically, the P-40 Warhawk it is my favorite… by a margin.

If you need me to explain to you the sheer sexiness of this plane, then you are in the wrong dimension.  Contact your local chapter of the Dr. Who Fan Club and get back to where ever it is you belong.

General Characteristics

Crew: 1
Length: 31.67 ft (9.66 m)
Wingspan: 37.33 ft (11.38 m)
Height: 12.33 ft (3.76 m)
Wing area: 235.94 ft² (21.92 m²)
Empty weight: 6,350 lb (2,880 kg)
Loaded weight: 8,280 lb (3,760 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 8,810 lb (4,000 kg)
Powerplant: 1× Allison V-1710-39 liquid-cooled V12 engine, 1,150 hp (858 kW)


Maximum speed: 360 mph (310 kn, 580 km/h)
Cruise speed: 270 mph (235 kn, 435 km/h)
Range: 650 mi (560 nmi, 1,100 km)
Service ceiling: 29,000 ft (8,800 m)
Rate of climb: 2,100 ft/min (11 m/s)
Wing loading: 35.1 lb/ft² (171.5 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.14 hp/lb (230 W/kg)


Guns: 6 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns with 150-200 rounds per gun
Bombs: 250 to 1,000 lb (110 to 450 kg) bombs to a total of 2,000 lb (907 kg) on three hardpoints (one under the fuselage and two underwing)

My god — what a beautiful plane.

P-51 Mustang

P-51 Mustang 10

No admiration of the vintage warplanes of World War II would be complete without a starched salute to the distinguished P-51 Mustang, easily one of the most effective fighters of the second world war. Though she started out as the NA-73X (for the August 1940 deadline for the British) she quickly became an American legend.

General Characteristics

Crew: 1
Length: 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m)
Wingspan: 37 ft 0 in (11.28 m)
Height: 13 ft 8 in (4.17 m)
Wing area: 235 ft² (21.83 m²)
Empty weight: 7,635 lb (3,465 kg)
Loaded weight: 9,200 lb (4,175 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 12,100 lb (5,490 kg)
Powerplant: 1× Packard V-1650-7 liquid-cooled supercharged V-12, 1,490 hp (1,111 kW) at 3,000 rpm;[104] 1,720 hp (1,282 kW) at WEP
Zero-lift drag coefficient: 0.0163
Drag area: 3.80 ft² (0.35 m²)
Aspect ratio: 5.83


Maximum speed: 437 mph (703 km/h) at 25,000 ft (7,600 m)
Cruise speed: 362 mph (580 km/h)
Stall speed: 100 mph (160 km/h)
Range: 1,650 mi (2,755 km) with external tanks
Service ceiling: 41,900 ft (12,800 m)
Rate of climb: 3,200 ft/min (16.3 m/s)
Wing loading: 39 lb/ft² (192 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.18 hp/lb (300 W/kg)
Lift-to-drag ratio: 14.6
Recommended Mach limit 0.8


6× 0.50 caliber (12.7mm) M2 Browning machine guns with 1,880 total rounds (400 rounds for each on the inner pair, and 270 rounds for each of the outer two pair)
2× hardpoints for up to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs
10× 5.0 in (127 mm) rockets

Again, its Wikipedia, so cross-check your facts: P-51 Mustang