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Designs that Should Work but Don't... Like Coffee Creamers and Torpedoes

There is a word used in engineering when device is thrown together using odd parts. It is called a kludge (with a long u). One expects such a device to be unreliable. There is another engineering word for a design that cannot even perform the function for which it was intended. (It is actually a series of words punctuated with rude gestures, so we'll just skip that.) A good example is the restaurant coffee creamer. It is designed to pour creamer into my coffee cup, so why does half of it spill everywhere else? Another example is the World War 2 torpedo made in the USA. Perhaps someone is being bribed back home (a real possibility) but 70% of the contact fuses on US torpedoes are failing. The design goal is that when the pointy end of the torpedo hits an enemy ship or detects metal, the torpedo should go BOOM, but instead, it breaks up and fizzles. Part of the torpedo actually floats, so once it breaks up, it becomes a flotation device! (Hey! Stop laughing!) These and other design flaws have been corrected this year, so you will see an upswing in the number of kills for US submarines, particularly the USS Tang, currently stationed in the South Pacific. About a third of Japan's hulls are going to the bottom this year... by design. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Harry Truman made a name for himself leading official investigations into the flaws in military equipment such as faulty airplane engines. An officer was taking bribes from a manufacturer. (Thank goodness that could never happen today. Cough. Cough.) Thus, Harry Truman came to the attention of the powers-that-be and replaced Henry Wallace as FDR's Vice President. FDR's health was failing so whoever had the VP slot was sure to be the next President. Wallace was thought to be soft on communism, which he was. Was Wallace a KGB agent? No, but Laurence Duggan was and so was Harry Dexter White. Wallace said that if he had become President he would have named Duggan as Secretary of State and White as the Secretary of the Treasury! (This is proof positive that God is looking out for America because apparently no one else is.) [4]

Notable Births

  • Bill Ayers (Living): Founder of the Weather Underground (not a weather site), teacher of your children, and likely ghostwriter for Barack Obama. "Guilty as sin, free as a bird." [5] [6] [7]
  • Angela Davis (Living): Communist leader, teacher of your children, and acquitted of the murder of 4 people in the Marin County courthouse shooting. (It's always nice to know that your teacher didn't actually shoot someone in the head.) [5] [8]
  • Carl Bernstein (Living): Journalist along with Bob Woodward produced evidence of the Watergate scandal that caused President Nixon to resign. [5]
  • And in Entertainment...
  • -- Ben Stein (Living): Economist, speechwriter for Nixon and famous for the line "Bueller. Bueller" from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." . [5]
  • -- George Lucas (Living): Founder of Industrial Light & Magic. Best known for Star Wars and the Indiana Jones series. [9]
  • -- Lorne Michaels (Living): Creator of Saturday Night Live. [5]
  • -- Harold Ramis (d. 2014): "Ghostbusters", "Groundhog Day", and more comedy than you can shake a stick at. [5]
  • -- Barry White (d. 2003): This man's singing voice is responsible for more babies being born than any other man in history. [5]
  • -- And more and more and more. I can't name them all so I will leave it there.

**Note: (Living) means they were alive when I checked.

This Year in Film

  • Going My Way: Starring Bing Crosby. [10]
  • Meet Me in St. Louis: Starring Judy Garland. [10]
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo: Starring Spencer Tracy as Lt. Col. Doolittle. [10]
  • And several others you can still see on TV, now and again. I have to stop somewhere, so I'll let it go at that.

This Year in Music

  • I'll Be Seeing You: ...in all the old familiar places. Bing Crosby. [11]
  • Don't Fence Me In: Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters. [11]
  • Swinging on a Star: Bing Crosby. [11]
  • Bandleader, Major Glenn Miller, has died in a plane crash over the English Channel. Being too old for the service, he had volunteered to bring the Army Band into the modern age.

In Other News

  • Economist Friedrich Hayek publishes "The Road to Serfdom: It is a "must read" for... everyone, frankly. [12]
  • United Negro College Fund is incorporated: "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." (It was a good idea when it first started, and for years thereafter, but they lost their way somehow.) [12]
  • Smokey Bear appears on posters for the first time.: "Only you can prevent forest fires." (Oh... so you're blaming ME?) [12]

World War 2 in Review

  • Note: About a third of Japan's hulls will be going to the bottom this year. Given that Japan has a sea-based transportation system (even domestically) this loss in capacity will be a devastating blow. [12]


  • The RAF drops 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin. [12]
  • The Battle of Anzio (Italy) begins. It will be an Allied victory 4 months later but 11,000 confirmed dead, 83,000 casualties, and tens of thousands missing. [12]
  • American forces land on the Japanese-held Marshall Islands. It's going to be ugly. [12]


  • American bombers hit German aircraft manufacturing centers. It's called "Big Week". (Are there any sharks involved?) [12]
  • A Jewish film director produces a Nazi propaganda film. He was promised his life in exchange, but Kurt Gerron is taken to Auschwitz and gassed. [12]


  • Joop Westerweel is shot for rescuing Jewish children. He smuggled them to Spain. [12]
  • RAF Flight Sargent Nicholas Alkemade bails out over Germany without a parachute and lives! From 12,000 feet, he hits tree branches and falls into the deep snow. [12]
  • The "Great Escape": 76 RAF POWs tunnel out of Stalag Luft 3. Only 3 make it back to the UK. 50 are executed. [12]


  • Adolf Eichmann offers "blood for goods". He will exchange Jews for supplies on the Eastern Front. [12]
  • Operation Overlord: A full-scale rehearsal of the Normandy invasion takes place. 749 American servicemen are killed just stepping off from the landing ships. [12]


  • Hitler orders "fight to the last man" in Ukraine. The German soldiers say, "I surrender" to the Soviets. Crimea is also "liberated". [12]
  • USS England sinks the sixth Japanese submarine in two weeks. This remains the record. [12]


  • Operation Overlord: The BBC transmits a coded message. The invasion of Europe is coming. [12]
  • Operation Overlord: The weather forecast is reasonable for tomorrow's Normandy landing. [12]
  • Operation Overlord: 5,000 tons of bombs drop on German gun batteries along the Normandy coast. [12]
  • Operation Overlord: US and British paratroopers are on their way for a drop behind German lines. [12]
  • Operation Overlord: It's D-Day. [12]
  • Operation Overlord: 155,000 Allied troops land on the beaches of northern France. This is the largest amphibious assault in history. [12]
  • Operation Overlord: The Allies move inland. (Sounds simple. Doesn't it? Thousands have died just getting off the boat.) [12]
  • V-1 flying bombs hit London. They are slow enough that an RAF pilot can tip a V-1 into the drink. This is like fighting a bear with a pole while balancing on a wooden fence. [12]
  • US Forces land on Saipan. Japanese nurses give hand grenades to their patients for an easy death. Civilians throw themselves off of cliffs. Japanese officers ask for their subordinates to behead them. Instead, their subordinates just shoot them. I could say more, but... no.. I can't say more. [12]
  • Soviet forces liberate Belarus. The Germans are well and truly hosed now. [12]
  • Operation Overlord: American troops enter Cherbourg, France. [12]


  • 1st Lt. Jackie Robinson refuses to step to the back of the U.S. Army bus. He will be acquitted... eventually. (He will also be a baseball player, eventually.) [12]
  • Japan's Prime Minister Tojo resigns for his failures. He will later be executed by the Allied Forces. [12]
  • Operation Valkyrie: Adolf Hitler survives an assassination attempt. Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer will be executed for his part in the plot... a few months before the end of the war. [12]


  • Anne Frank and her family are arrested. All but her father will die in the death camps. He will return, and find her diary. [12]
  • 40,000 to 50,000 Polish civilians are massacred by the SS. I mention this lest people think that only Jews are being massacred. [12]
  • Operation Overlord: The Allies enter Paris. Hitler orders that Paris be destroyed. The Germans decline to do so, and surrender. [12]


  • V-2 rockets hit London. These are much faster. The RAF pilots cannot tip these. [12]


  • Hitler accuses Rommel of conspiracy. Rommel takes his own life. [12]
  • General Douglas MacArthur returns to the Philippines. "Brigadier General" Wendell Fertig arranges for a marching band to greet him. Wendell has done very well, indeed. [12]
  • Charles de Gaulle forms a provisional government in France. [12]


  • FDR wins a fourth term! Harry S. Truman is Vice President, replacing Wallace who was soft on communism. [12]


  • Major Glenn Miller disappears in heavy fog over the English Channel. All is lost. [12]
  • Germany begins the Battle of the Bulge. It is an effort to break out of the Allied encirclement. [12]
  • George Marshall becomes the first U.S. Five-Star General. [12]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1944, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Clancy, Tom. Submarine: A Guided Tour Inside a Nuclear Warship. Berkley Books. ISBN 9780425183007. “It took a while to get rolling, especially when eighteen months were needed to repair a series of faults with the American Mark 14 torpedo and its magnetic fuse, but by late 1943 the American subs were beginning to make a real difference in the amount of material getting to Japan's war industries. Under the command of Admiral Charles Lockwood, the American boats were starting to starve Japan into submission. In addition, they were taking an increasing toll of Japanese warships.” 
  2. Kludge - definition of kludge (2017). Retrieved on 2 February 2017. “A clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem.”
  3. Alex Shrugged notes: My comments on submarines come from my memory of past reading and the audiobook "The War Below" by James Scott.
  4. Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, The. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465003105. “Most other pre-war agents, however, were successfully reactivated, among them Laurence Duggan (FRANK) and Harry Dexter White (JURIST). Henry Wallace, vice-president during Roosevelt's third term of office (1941 to 1945), said later that if the ailing Roosevelt had died during that period and he had become president, it had been his intention to make Duggan his Secretary of State and White his Secretary of the Treasury. The fact that Roosevelt survived three months into an unprecedented fourth term in the White House, and replaced Wallace with Harry Truman as vice-president in January 1945, deprived Soviet intelligence of what would have been its most spectacular success in penetrating a major Western government.” 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 1944 Births - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  6. 'Guilty as Sin, Free as a Bird’: Bill Ayers – TheBlaze (2017). Retrieved on 2 February 2017. “'Guilty as sin, free as a bird.' That is a term all-too apropos for unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, a man who set off explosives at the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a police station, two Army recruiting stations and a New York judge’s home while his entire family slept inside. He is the founder and leader of the now-defunct radical group, The Weather Underground, of which three members perished while building additional bombs that were, ironically, intended to cause harm to others. He is also the man who happened to help launch an ambitious community organizer’s political career into the stratosphere right from his apartment on Chicago’s South Side.”
  7. Bill Ayers - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 2 February 2017.
  8. Marin County courthouse incident - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 2 February 2017. “In 1970, fired UCLA professor Angela Davis considered a prison inmate named George Jackson to be her 'lifetime' husband, though they were never legally married. George Jackson was a Black Panther and in a subset of the Black Panthers called the Soledad Brothers. A plan was hatched to get Jackson out of prison by kidnapping persons during the trial of another Black Panther named James McClain. Those to be held hostage - including the judge, deputy district attorney, and jurors - would be traded for Jackson's freedom. McClain was being tried in the Marin County Hall of Justice. Judge Haley was presiding over the trial of McClain who was accused of stabbing a prison guard while serving a sentence for burglary.[10] The person chosen to effectuate the kidnapping was George's younger brother Jonathan. In the week preceding the kidnapping, Angela Davis and Jonathan Jackson spent much time together, visiting George, buying things, and cashing checks. In the days before the kidnapping, Davis and Jonathan Jackson drove to Mexico, Santa Cruz, Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco, and San Rafael. Two days before the kidnapping, Davis and Jonathan Jackson bought a shotgun from a pawn shop in San Francisco. After Davis paid for the shotgun, the barrel of the shotgun was sawed off so as to be concealable.[11] On the day before the kidnapping, Davis and Jonathan Jackson were in a rented yellow utility van at the Marin Courthouse. Jonathan went into the courtroom where James McClain was on trial. He was wearing a long buttoned-up raincoat, despite the heat and lack of rain. The van had troubles running, so Jonathan and Davis drove to a gas station down the street from the courthouse to get the van repaired.[citation needed] On August 7, 1970, a heavily armed Jonathan Jackson returned to the courthouse in the yellow van. He entered the courtroom again wearing the long raincoat, and brought three guns registered to Angela Davis[12] into the Hall of Justice.”
  9. 1944 Births - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 1944 in film - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 1944 in music - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 12.12 12.13 12.14 12.15 12.16 12.17 12.18 12.19 12.20 12.21 12.22 12.23 12.24 12.25 12.26 12.27 12.28 12.29 12.30 12.31 12.32 12.33 12.34 12.35 12.36 12.37 12.38 12.39 12.40 1944 - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.

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