David Knights' Weblog

December 3, 2013

Tar and feathers may not be enough

Filed under: Politics — dknights @ 7:54 am
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The IRS is out of control and the consequences of this have obviously not been thought about by the bureaucrats doing this.  Our tax system relies on voluntary cooperation.  If the victims (I mean taxpayers) feel it is politcally biased, then a large scale breakdown of the system will occur.  Mor e here.

December 2, 2013

Insanity, thy name is government

Filed under: Politics — dknights @ 9:20 am
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This is why the federal government needs to be radically smaller.

December 1, 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #19

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 3:44 pm
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After a couple of weeks absence, I return to doing a Sprue Cutters post.  This week’s topic:

– What did you score this Black Friday weekend? –

Nothing.  First, and I have been struggling with this, I have more kits than I need.  I am trying to thin the collection and slow down in acquiring new items.  Second, I find the whole retail rush over Black Friday to be somewhat off-putting.  We put to much materialism in the holiday season as is, and having this retail orgy to kick the season off just seems wrong to me.  You won’t be seeing me rush out to score a “Black Friday” deal, even though the local hobby shop did have a sale.

Here is what other members of the Union had to say:

Craig Thomas

Jeroen Vantroyen


Book review: Lost in Shangri-La

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 10:36 am
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Book review: Lost in Shangri-La
By Mitchell Zuckoff
ISBN: 978-0-06-198834-9
384 pgs

Review by D.M. Knights IPMS/USA 17656, IPMS/Canada C6091

Word War II will be providing us with stories a hundred years to come.  There are so many stories, large and small.  Each provides its own little glimpse into some small part of such a large global conflict.  This book covers one such small story.

In May of 1945, the war in the Pacific was approaching its inevitable end.  In Hollandia, New Guinea the USAAC had a troop transport wing as well as associated support units, including WACs, who provided staff support to the units stationed there.  Today, thanks to satellites and Google Earth, we know what every inch of the earth looks like.  That wasn’t so in 1945, especially the jungle covered island of New Guinea.  The pilots of the C-47 unit had discovered (or more accurately rediscovered) a valley in the middle of the mountains of western New Guinea.  This valley was originally “discovered” in 1938 but was quickly forgotten about in the chaos of World War II.  The valley was completely cut off from the rest of the world.  It was surrounded by high mountains, (10,000+ ft) and the mountains themselves were covered by jungle all the way to the sea. The valley, nicknamed Shangri-La by the USAAC pilots, was inhabited by a number of different tribes that lived in villages and occasionally warred with each other.  Some of the tribes engaged in cannibalistic practices.

As the war wound down, the troop transport unit at Hollandia would arrange sightseeing airplane trips over the valley they had discovered as a morale booster for the soldiers and WACs at this rear area base.  On May 13th, 1945 one such sightseeing trip with a number of WACs and troops from the units stationed at Hollandia crashed in the valley.  Only three passengers survived.  These included two men, one of who was on the flight with his twin brother who died. Only one WAC survived.  She was a young, vivacious woman with movie star looks named Margaret Hastings.

The book tells the story of the crash, the ordeal of the 3 survivors, and their contact with the natives on the valley floor and finally the rescue.  The press caught wind of the story, and due in no small part to the presence of the WAC with the movie star good looks, took a great interest in the survivors and their story and rescue.  Due to the thick jungle, it wasn’t possible for the survivors to walk out to the coast.  Additionally, though the valley floor was flat, there was no real place to hack out a strip long enough for a C-47 to take off and land.  The solution that was finally used involved a parachute drop by a group of Philippine scouts and a glider and a system for snagging the glider off the valley floor using a C-47 in flight.

The author tells the story well, with none of the typical mistakes one can find regarding aircraft or unit designations or the like.  The story is compelling and it moves along at a brisk pace.  While not your typical World War II story, in that it doesn’t involve combat, it does tell a story that is all too often untold, of the dangers faced by even rear area personnel in their day to day duties.  This one is well worth the read.

Special thanks to MMCL member Jerry Davis for bringing this book and many others to the club meeting for distribution to other MMCL members.

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