Category Archives: History

Make Yourself a Harriet Tubman Stamp

From the ingenious Tubman Stamp campaign:

The face of genocide may be gone even sooner than expected.

“We’re just thrilled that Andrew Jackson has had a removal of his own,” Hobbs said. “The constant reminder of Andrew Jackson being glorified is sad and sickening to our people.”

Given nearly 10 billion of these bills are in circulation (a jump from 5 billion just 20 years ago) someone might want to migrate him using machines instead of by hand…

Origins of American Memorial Day

Most Americans probably think of Memorial Day as a time for remembering all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving in our armed forces. It was observed every year on May 30th from 1868 to 1970, and then became a federal holiday on the last Monday of May (as with today, the 27th).

Perhaps some wonder what Memorial Day was like before May 30, 1868? Obviously there were federal holidays and armed forces earlier so the answer is…it’s a trick question.

Nothing formal came before 1868 (unless you count things like blacks decorating graves of Union soldiers in 1865), because the day was established specifically to commemorate those who died to preserve the Union against an expansionist war of aggression started by pro-slavery “foreign” militants.

Unlike the federal Thanksgiving holiday established by President Lincoln in 1863, meant to bring Americans together, Memorial Day was to commemorate those who fought on one side.

Does that sound harsh? When I say there was aggression by “foreign” militants against America, I am speaking of those former Americans who openly renounced their citizenship in favor of using guns to perpetuate and expand westward the enslavement of humans.

We’re talking here about Americans who most decidedly fought against their own country, who wanted to perpetuate a King’s tyrannical precedent they believed was an inherited right from colonial-monarchist times (a false interpretation of history on their part, since the King’s corporations starting colonies were attempting to ban slavery, but that’s a post for another day).

All around the world by the late 1820s slavery was being widely abolished, including parts of America (in the great agrarian state of New York slavery was abolished on Independence Day, 4th of July 1827).

Yet some Americans simply could not give up a love of pre-1800s tyrannical practices and even chose to renounce their citizenship before they would renounce slavery. They set about in the 1830s silencing dissent and forcing slavery into new western territories. It was as if England’s 1833 Slavery Abolition Act didn’t mean anything to some in the former colonies, let alone England’s Slave Trade Act 1807 which made the purchase or ownership of slaves illegal within the British Empire.

America no longer was within the British Empire, so it also came up with its own Act of Congress in 1807 that outlawed importation of slaves. That Act really targeted only three states (South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana), the ones that purposefully had undone a 1770s revolutionary American ban on importation of slaves.

Basically it was some hard-core American white supremacists who weren’t going to give up slaves. While so many other countries of the world were banning slavery, America was strangely engaged in harsh militant terror tactics, murdering those who even dared to speak about winding down human trafficking.

Lincoln in 1838 described the widespread fear and terror of being killed by slaveholder mobs:

Thus went on this process of hanging, from gamblers to negroes, from negroes to white citizens, and from these to strangers; till, dead men were seen literally dangling from the boughs of trees upon every road side; and in numbers almost sufficient, to rival the native Spanish moss of the country, as a drapery of the forest.

A quick recap of what Lincoln was referring to:

  • 1830 President Jackson starts interception of US Mail on the pretense of impounding any talk of abolition
  • 1831 Nat Turner (slave) uprising leads to “reign of terror” by white supremacist militias
  • 1833 England abolishes slavery
  • 1836 Gag rule to deny Americans the right to even speak about abolition

And notably after Lincoln’s speech…

  • 1843 Edgar Allen Poe writes incredibly popular “Gold Bug” book describing how to use encryption for secret communications
  • 1844 Gag rules defeated after long campaign by former President Adams

I find a lot of people have no idea what conditions in America were like after the 1831 uprising and dark days of the Gag rules, so here’s an excerpt from slaveholders themselves describing widespread murder and torture of anyone black or caught speaking of abolition:

A final-ish tipping point to this condition came in 1859 when slaveholders believed their execution of openly abolitionist John Brown served as proof they could murder American citizens and face no real resistance, as long it was claimed slavery was being defended.

That assumption proved wildly false. Increasing numbers of Americans, particularly in Kansas, were now openly protesting slavery 30 years after the world had largely abandoned the practice…and so certain militant groups then chose to abandon America and start a war with it.

At this point everyone under threat of torture and murder by pro-slavery militants wandering unchecked around America had little choice but to rise up and defend self and their Union of states from what had become “foreign” forces.

Perhaps most famously foreign was General Lee, who went to West Point and then torched his American citizenship in order to prove a disastrous bumbling leader of enemy forces, and who never bothered to regain his papers. He died a relatively unpopular and isolated traitor to his country.

Lee’s epitaph probably should be here lies the man who advocated enslaving Americans when he wasn’t killing them, and late in life said he regretted the latter.

After the Civil War many white supremacists tried to hide their General (pun intended) ambition to perpetuate tyranny over country. Someone came up with catch phrases like “both sides”, used to passively argue how terrorists in America could be treated as equals to their victims.

This kind of dog-whistle not only is a page from history, it still can be found in fiction-based monument/attractions that have been erected by white supremacists, who
even go to the trouble of inventing Civil War battles that never happened:

Inscription signed by Golf Course Owner: “Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot.”

Even to this day it thus is important to remember Memorial Day was established in 1868 for one side only: soldiers of the United States who sacrificed their lives to put to end 30 years of terrorism, by crushing a “rebellious tyranny”, winning the Civil War and emancipating slaves.

Anyone commemorating pro-slavery soldiers on American Memorial Day is basically asking to lay a wreath for its enemies, against a united and free nation.

Perhaps that sounds harsh, yet here is how it was phrased on May 5, 1868 in the original “Memorial Day Order: …the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

And a year later, Colonel Fisher’s Memorial Day speech gave “praise those who saved the nation…from greed of gain”

Those are the origins of Memorial Day.

Things have changed quite a lot since then, clearly. So here are just a couple examples of attempts to change its meaning:

Woodrow Wilson restarted the KKK in 1916 under his “America First” Presidential campaign and then in 1919 gave a Memorial Day speech (his last speech ever) where he asks Americans to commemorate more than just the re-union of the country, setting a precedent to distract from its clear origins:

Eight years later in 1927 police were trying to block a tyranny-loving militant mob from violently disrupting/protesting a Memorial Day parade that was “dedicated to the soldier dead of the United States”.

Notably arrested was a 21-year old Fred Trump, for being among the nearly 1,000 black-shirted fascists and white-robed KKK who violently attacked 100 New York policemen.

Real History of the NRA

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has an interesting origin story that is basically 180 degrees from its current incarnation.

African American Civil War soldiers, 1865, Petersburg, VA via JSTOR, Project Gutenberg

The NRA was founded 1871 to better prepare American freemen (e.g. emancipated slaves) for defense of their nation against rebellion and infringement of civil rights (e.g. white supremacists).

That’s the executive summary.

And now for the long-form discussion: It generally was thought (pun intended) after the Civil War ended that Americans needed training with rifles to defend the country against white supremacists, and by that I mean citizens defend self, communities and federal government from terrorists. US General Shaler had noticed that on average it took nearly 1K rifle shots to stop each enemy soldier during the Civil War.

A UCLA law professor tried to frame it like this in his 2011 Atlantic article called “The Secret History of Guns”:

Wingate and Church had fought for the North in the Civil War and been shocked by the poor shooting skills of city-bred Union soldiers.

Unfortunately the law professor gets it right (marksmanship was a concern), while also being wrong (it’s not about zip code, it’s about race).

This law professor makes many good points about the NRA from a legal standpoint. Here, for another example, is how he hammers on the lack of any real 2nd Amendment focus in the organization.

For most of its history, the NRA completely ignored the Second Amendment. If you go through old issues of the NRA’s signature publication, American Rifleman, from the 1940s and 1950s, you can read issue after issue without finding a single mention of the Second Amendment. The organization was focused on marksmanship and hunting, not shooting down gun control.

What I find lacking in legal perspectives on history such as this is any mention of NRA core principles. What was the organization meant to do, and what did it do within its first 20 years?

Imagine instead of 1950s…go way back to when the federal military was telling emancipated Americans to take up marksmanship and hunting with rifles, to better protect themselves because in doing so they were helping to protect their federal government from regression and rebellion.

That’s more what was really going on when the letters NRA first were put together.

From the start the NRA was “a roster of Union commanders” who had just defeated angry white men trying to destroy the federal government. Training emancipated blacks with marksmanship was seen as not only viable but logical course for America to preserve civil rights won as well as maintain the country’s national security.

General Grant in 1968 did not even have to campaign for President, he was so popular. He just stated that the federal government needed to preserve sacrifices of the war (that he had decisively won) by protecting Americans from racist militias and by preventing former rebellious militants from retaking power.

Look at these 1868 choices for President and take a wild guess which side created the NRA.

After the hugely popular Grant dominated the Presidential election, where 80% of freemen voted, he set about to crush the white-supremacist platform against civil rights. Consider three years after election, in 1871, it was Union military and political voices who set about forming the NRA under Grant’s administration to better protect the federal government against armed militias.

This is why today it would be so awesome if anyone making TV shows about the dysfunction of today’s NRA would point out that the decorated “roster of Union commanders” probably are rolling in their grave because of what their federal defense concept has become.

Burnside was the first NRA president and it’s worth noting his father emancipated their slaves in the 1820s, as most of the world was ending slavery.

Also note Burnside was engaged before Civil War. His bride-to-be disappeared and later showed up serving as a spy to the rebels fighting to perpetuate slavery. She infamously then got engaged to 16 pro-slavery men at the same time (saying “it is so they die happy and if they live I don’t give a damn”).

She was caught trying to fool Burnside a second time and he arrested her.

Just to go a little further on this tangent, the sister and mother of the woman he had been engaged to were both arrested for carrying large amounts of opium and morphine. The Civil War also had an element of “war on drugs” to it. With this woman’s family arrested for drug smuggling in the United States, she then shows up pretending to be British and…

I hope that gives some context to the environment where accuracy in both speech and rifle shot become paramount. This is the context for an NRA creation by Union Generals.

It is certain that a lot of people have completely forgotten that during this crazy time of privileged whites using “every trick” possible to deny blacks any rights, President Grant outsmarted them and successfully drove civil rights in America.

Grant used a multi-pronged military and civilian strategy to promulgate freedom in the truest sense, elevating America as a whole. This is what made 1871 such a pivotal time for NRA establishment.

After Grant had won on the battlefield, with far superior strategic plans than the bumbling failure General Lee, Grant was thrust into helping establish civilian models for Americans to defend themselves against residual terror cells (e.g. KKK) that were prolonging the Civil War.

Paramilitary terror campaigns continued to threaten to undermine emancipation or federal government legitimacy, and Union Generals knew America needed to build broader national defense options than just military ones.

In other words, when talking about 1871 as a start date, and saying “the situation shifted” for rifles in America, it was because a pro-government organization was founded as a citizen defense project to improve marksmanship of black men and…called it the NRA.

This NRA story about an 1871 equivalent of Black Panther might seem crazy and out of the blue until you also recognize that a man named Jefferson Beauregard in 2016 was appointed to head the Department of Justice (DoJ). What I mean is, when you look around more generally we’ve come a very long way from where we were in 1871.

The DoJ was created in 1870 by President Grant to fight against the KKK, also known as…wait for it…Jefferson and Beauregard’s legacy.

In case that reference is unclear, Jefferson and Beauregard were the lead traitors in their pro-slavery aggression against their own country. So now look at the news in 2016 that a man named Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was appointed to head the department created to defeat the men he was named after.

Even more to the point, in 1986 we hadn’t pivoted this far yet. There were newspaper headlines screaming about the man with a name intended to preserve painful memories of slavery and treason against his own country…calling him out as racist for saying the NAACP is “Un-American,” while calling Klansmen “Okay.”

Sessions is overtly the third generation with an absurdly un-American name. Can you see here the long game of the American white supremacist?

It sure seems very significant for the US to allow someone who calls a terrorist organization “Okay” to head the agency created to destroy that exact terrorist organization. This would be like Germany electing someone named Hitler Rommel Sessions III to be their Federal Minister of Justice.

In conclusion, I hope you see how the NRA of today has flipped 180 degrees from its origins of Union Generals aiming to help protect federal government by training black Americans to stop white supremacist militias from undoing civil rights and ruining the country.

It perhaps makes sense then that if the DoJ very openly becomes led by a third-generation family homage to pro-slavery anti-justice Jefferson and Beauregard…the NRA too now would be led by white supremacists who hate government

In fact the NRA flipped abruptly in a 1977 leadership coup called Harlon’s “Cincinnati Revolt” that arguably helped prop up South Africa’s apartheid government as I’ve spoken about before.

Despite arms embargo since 1977, NRA funnels US guns to Apartheid regime for wars against non-white governments

Think about that for a minute. After 1977, the NRA was transformed into a gun-running organization to perpetuate white nationalism against black populations. This literally is the opposite of its origin.

The tough question becomes should the NRA serving a structural white supremacist agenda today (let alone the DoJ) define it or obscure the true civil rights origins?

Both NRA and DoJ were established by Union Generals aiming to defend federal government from white supremacist militias. Americans should look at the history and regularly ask why these organizations no longer are serving in that capacity.

A Sailor-Historian-Technologist Perspective on the Boeing 737 MAX Disaster

The tragedy of Boeing’s 737 product security decisions create a sad trifecta for someone interested in aeronautics, lessons from the past, and risk management.

First, there was a sailor’s warning.

We know Boeing moved a jet engine into a position that fundamentally changed handling. This was a result of Airbus ability to add a more efficient engine to their popular A320. The A320 has more ground clearance, so a larger engine didn’t change anything in terms of handling. The 737 sits lower to the ground, so changing to a more efficient engine suddenly became a huge design change.

Here’s how it unfolded. In 2011 Boeing saw a new Airbus design as a direct threat to profitability. A sales-driven rush meant efficiency became a critical feature for their aging 737 design. The Boeing perspective on the kind of race they were in was basically this:

Boeing had to solve for a plane much closer to the ground, while achieving the same marketing feat of Airbus, which said the efficiency didn’t change a thing (thus no costly pilot re-training). This is where Boeing made the critical decision to push their engine design forward and up on the wing,…while claiming that pilots did not need to know anything new about handling characteristics.

60 minutes in Australia illustrated the difference in their segment called “Rogue Boeing 737 Max planes ‘with minds of their own’” (look carefully on the left and it says TOO BIG next to the engine):

Don’t ask me why an Australian TV show didn’t call their segment “Mad Max”.

And that is basically why handling the plane was different, despite Boeing’s claims that their changes weren’t significant, let alone safety-related. The difference in handling was so severe (risk of stall) that Boeing then doubled-down with a clumsy software hack to flight control systems to secretly handle the handling changes (as well as selling airlines an expensive sensor “disagree” light for pilots, which the downed planes hadn’t purchased)

An odd twist to this story is that it was American Airlines who kicked off the Boeing panic about sales with a 2011 order for several hundred new A320. See if you can pick up a more forward and higher engine design in this illustration handed out to passengers.

I added this into the story because note again how Boeing wanted to emphasize “identical” planes yet marketed them heavily as different for even an in-flight magazine given to every passenger. It stands in contrast to how that same airline’s pilots were repeatedly told by Boeing the two planes held no differences in flight worth highlighting in documentation.

To make an even finer point, the Airbus A320 in that same airline magazine doesn’t have a sub-model.

While this engine placement clearly had been approved by highly-specialized engineering management thinking short-term (about racing through FAA compliance), who was thinking about serious instability long-term as a predictable cost?

The emerging safety problems led to a series of shortcut hacks and partial explanations that attempted to minimize talk about stabilizing or training for new flow characteristics, rather than admit huge long-term implications (deaths).

Boeing Knew About Safety-Alert Problem for a Year Before Telling FAA, Airlines

The Seattle Times posted clear evidence of pilots fighting against their own ship, unaware of reasons it was fighting with them.

Anyone who sails, let alone flies airplanes, immediately can see the problem in calling a 737 “Mad Max” the same as a prior 737 design, when flow handling has changed — one doesn’t just push a keel or mast around without direct tiller effects.

Some pilots say unofficially they knew the 737 “Mad Max” was not the same and, at least in America, were mentally preparing themselves for how to react to a defective system. Officially however pilots globally needed to be warned clearly and properly, as well as trained better on the faulty software that would fight with them for safe control of the aircraft.

Second, America has a “Widowmaker” precedent.

Years ago I wrote about pilot concerns with a plane of WWII, the crash-prone B-26.

The B-26 had a high rate of accidents in takeoff and landing until crews were trained better and the aspect ratio modified on its wings/rudder

That doesn’t tell the whole story, though. In terms of history repeating itself, evidence mounted this American airplane was manifestly unsafe to fly and the manufacturer wasn’t inclined to proactively fix and save lives.

A biographer of Truman gives us some details from 1942 Senate hearings, foreshadowing the situation today with Boeing.

Apparently crashes of the Martin B-26 were happening at least every month and sometimes every other day. Yes, crashes were literally happening 15 days out of 30 and the plane wasn’t grounded.

The Martin company in response to concerns started a PR campaign to gloat about how one of its aircraft actually didn’t kill everyone on board and received blessings from Churchill.

Promoting survivorship should be recognized today as a dangerously and infamously bad data tactic. Focusing on economics of Boeing is the right thing here. They haven’t stooped yet to Martin’s survivorship bias campaign, but it does seem that Boeing knowingly was putting lives at risk to win a marketing and sales battle with a rival, similar to what Tesla could be accused of doing.

Third, there are broad societal issues from profitable data integrity flaws.

Can we speak openly yet about the executives making money on big data technology with known integrity flaws that kill customers?

There’s really a strange element to this story from a product management decision flow. Nobody should want to end up where we are at today with this issue.

Boeing knew right away its design change impacted the handling of the product. They then added fixes in, without notifying their customers responsible for operating the product of the severity of a fix failure (crash).

I believe this is where and why the expanding number of investigations are being cited as “criminal” in nature.

  • Investigation of development and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX by the FAA and Boeing, by DoJ Fraud Section, with help from the FBI and the DoT Inspector General
  • Administrative investigation by the DoT Inspector General
  • DoT Inspector General hearings
  • FAA review panel on “certification of the automated flight-control system on the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, as well as its design and how pilots interact with it”
  • Congressional investigation of “status of the Boeing 737 MAX” for US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

These investigations seem all to be getting at the sort of accountability I’ve been saying needs to happen for Facebook, which also suffered from integrity flaws in its product design. Will a top executive eventually be named? And will there be wider impact to engineering and manufacturing ethics in general? If the Grover Shoe Factory disaster is any indication, the answers should be yes.

In conclusion, if change in design is being deceptively presented, and the suffering of those impacted is minimized (because profits, duh), then we’re approaching a transportation regulatory moment that really is about software engineering. What may emerge is these software-based transportation risks, because fatalities, will bring regulation for software in general.

Even if regulation isn’t coming, the other new reality is buyers (airlines, especially outside the US and beyond the FAA) will do what Truman suggested in 1942: cancel contracts and buy from another supplier who can pass transparency/accountability tests.

The Facebook Trust Disaster Was Easily Predicted

Five years ago in 2014, the future of Facebook trust was in the balance. What happened?

‘When I joined Facebook in 2016, my mom was so proud of me, and I could walk around with my Facebook backpack all over the world and people would stop and say, ‘It’s so cool that you worked for Facebook.’ That’s not the case anymore,’ a former product manager says. ‘It made it hard to go home for Thanksgiving.’

First of all, Thanksgiving is literally a holiday created by Abraham Lincoln after the defeat of pro-slavery forces that had been aiming to break apart the United States. It’s supposed to be the easiest time to get back together with family, even for those unwilling to give up human slavery.

Second, 2016? Let’s talk about warnings as early as 2011, which are easy to find even in the public forums…and maybe the better question is what didn’t happen? Facebook didn’t hire a qualified CSO during these years, and didn’t have executive leadership committed to respect for human rights (e.g. privacy) let alone ethics.

Third, recent studies by the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona cited that only 14% of Facebook users deleted their account after Cambridge University researchers violated privacy. More importantly, the studies found that user behavior changed measurably and “sensitive words” were removed as users start self-censoring and encoding their meanings in a manner similar to slaves in American history.

The Oscillation Range of Human Languages

Being caught as a non-native speaker can have serious implications, like death. That probably is why a BBC article about overcoming the exact cause of accents is going to be of more than just casual interest.

Recent studies show that native speakers develop expertise with a specific oscillation range:

Every human language oscillates at a different range of frequencies, with British English fluctuating considerably between 2,000 to 12,000 Hz and French much less so between 15 to 250 Hz and 1,000 to 2,000 Hz. If French can be described as flat, English is very wavy. Russian fluctuates between an incredible 125 to 12,000 Hz. This means that some languages, like English and Russian, can go much higher and lower in pitch than say French.

There are many recent examples of risk to draw from. The BBC goes with an ancient history one to highlight why being identified by accent is so dangerous; why some work so hard to understand how to more easily jump into different ranges:

Speech has been used to segregate people for millennia. When the Tribe of Gilead defeated the Ephraimites in The Bible, they used accent as a means of identifying surviving Ephraimites trying to flee.

Anyone who claimed not to be a survivor was asked to say the Hebrew word “Shibboleth”, which means stream. People from Gilead pronounced it with a “sh” sound, whereas Ephraimites could not say “sh”, so anyone who said “Sibboleth” was killed on the spot: 42,000 people failed the test, according to the Old Testament.

Of course accent is just the beginning. Cultural meaning is another problem entirely. Take being happy, for example:

  • Chinese “Xingfu” – Sustainability and meaningfulness through sufficiency
  • Greek “Meraki” – Focused attention that achieves devoted precision to creative tasks
  • Japanese “Wabi Sabi” – Appreciation of the imperfection and complexity of reality
  • Brazilian “Saudade” – The longing for a happiness that once was or could be
  • Finnish “Kalsarikaanit” – Staying home wearing only your underwear and drinking


Escape from Tehran: Big Data Edition

A new query tool has been posted online that purportedly searches all the flight booking services to find deals for travel. The name of the tool is “Escape” and the URL even is more interstingly:

For some reason the first thing that comes to mind for me is a series of US evacuation/escape stories from history. Whether it be Tehran (commercial jet), Saigon helicopter or even the March 24, 1944 plan to escape Nazi camps (as “immortalized” by Steve McQueen’s famous motorcycle freedom leap over walls), the marketing takes me here:

Real Americans Hate Nazi Walls

I wonder whether movie posters for “Great Escape” are what the site creators were thinking about when they named their product…

Marketing the film released to theaters on Independence Day, 1963. Based on the book by Paul Brickhill, True story of Allied prisoners who break out of Nazi detention camp. 76 of 250 prisoners escaped. 50 escaped prisoners were murdered by Nazi prison guards. 18 of those Nazis later were convicted of war crimes.

Let’s take Tehran as a simple example. We query a one-way escape flight query for tomorrow (unfortunately we can’t select January 27, 1980) and here is our map:

March 31, 2019 Escape from Tehran

Yes, I ran a bunch of queries for historic escapes by Americans using modern routes. This is probably why I’m not popular at some parties. Someone says “hey I found a vacation tool that maximizes my spend so I can consume more…” and I say “could it represent the shortest exit for Embassy staff rushed to leave a deteriorating political situation based on forged visa options?”

To be fair, some parties don’t mind these topics. I can see my next drinking session with security operations teams discussing and ultimately adding this tool to a list of things to consider when assessing travel risks and disaster response. It’s not just that people we care about are landing in some usually stable city for a meeting, it’s “who can deliver me a list of escapes for the next three days correlated with increasing probability of disaster?”

On second thought, what if the creators of the tool really are making a political statement about the current administration? The default configuration of the tool does seem to be finding inexpensive paths out of America. Have you planned your great escape?

Great Escape from…

This Day in History: Nazis Invade Czechoslovakia

Radio Praha remembers this dark day in history with a post including some poetry. It begins…

Eighty years ago today, on March 15 1939, Hitler gave Czechoslovak President Emil Hácha a stark choice: accept becoming a protectorate or face destruction.

There was no choice, really, as Hácha was tortured and literally manipulated by Nazi “doctors” into signing away his country’s existence. An eye-witness (M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, in the French Yellow Book) reported it as heart-attack and injections until the suicidal papers were signed.

President Hácha was in such a state of exhaustion that he more than once needed medical attention from the doctors, who, by the way, had been there ready for service since the beginning of the interview. […] At 4:30 in the morning, Dr. Hacha, in a state of total collapse, and kept going only by means of injections, resigned himself with death in his soul to give his signature.

Two very notable points are made in the Radio Praha post, which a reader hopefully will not miss so I’ll call them out here.

1) Chamberlain was fighting an uphill political battle in Britain to oppose Hitler’s insanity. Although in retrospect many obviously want to say Chamberlain should have been more aggressive towards Nazi Germany, at the time he had to carefully navigate through many in Britain who wanted to embrace fascism.

Six months after the Munich deal was struck, Chamberlain explained invasion of Czechoslovakia as his “I told you so” moment to allow him to declare war, instead of being an oops moment he regretted. It’s a very subtle and important distinction in the texts.

It has been suggested that this occupation of Czecho-Slovakia was the direct consequence of the visit which I paid to Germany last autumn. It is said that, as this was the personal policy of the prime minister, the blame for the fate of Czecho-Slovakia must rest upon his shoulders.

“I may remind you that, when it was first announced that I was going, not a voice was raised in criticism. Everyone applauded that effort. It was only later, when it appeared that the results of the final settlement fell short of the expectations of some who did not fully appreciate the facts-it was only then that the attack began, and even then it was not the visit, it was the terms of settlement that were disapproved.

Had Britain been more aggressively opposed to Hitler earlier there’s a good chance Hitler would have been assassinated by the Nazi military itself, but that’s tough speculation. We know General Beck said his coup plans were cooled when he thought foreign nations wouldn’t support it.

More certain is the fact Chamberlain was trying to keep pro-Hitler factions at bay in his own country. He would likely have lost control of Britain by moving faster or more decisively against Germany. Chamberlain’s cautious approach ultimately meant handing control of his party to Churchill, who earlier had more aggressively opposed fascism.

While handing control to Churchill meant Chamberlain himself took a step away from leading, his party neither lost control (as Churchill famously proved) nor did Chamberlain allow Britain to side with the Nazis as so many in Britain had hoped. That’s the political complexity and proper context for the “I may remind you” quote above.

2) A popular commentator in Prague used a form of poetry to navigate the dark veil of censorship by Nazis

Allow me to mention a non-military fact. Somewhere from afar a black crow flew over Prague. It circled above the National Museum building above the headlights and listening devices of the German army and headed down Wenceslas Square to Můstek. Perhaps the crow was surprised by the noise it had heard and the picture it saw below.

Radio Praha points out that his attempts to avoid Nazi censorship weren’t enough, however as “eventually they lost patience with František Kocourek. He was arrested by the Gestapo and would later die like so many others in Auschwitz-Birkenau.”