Thursday, May 30, 2019

General Henri Guisan and Swiss Neutrality

Switzerland was surrounded and divided. Germany had annexed Austria. Italy was Germany’s ally. France had fallen. Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, and Greece also fell. Many Swiss were aligned to the German Nazi party. About 12,000 Germans of military age were in Switzerland in 1941; and they were organized under the German High Command. Germans and their agents carried out acts of sabotage. (Fifteen Swiss and two foreigners were executed for their crimes.) Others adopted an unsurprising and seemingly realistic and pragmatic attitude, accepting Germany’s domination of Europe. The central government of Switzerland was granted emergency powers to make laws without legislation. Any criticism of Germany by any newspaper was considered “unneutral conduct.” Independent journalism ceased.
Inside book cover text showing title, author, and publisher: Spying for Peace:  General Guisan and Swiss Neutrality  by Jon Kimche  (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1961).
Spying for Peace: General Guisan and Swiss Neutrality
by Jon Kimche (London:
Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1961)
The meaning of “neutrality” evolved over 400 years. The oldest and easiest definition is that a state (and they were mostly small) did not take sides in a dispute between two other states. In the 16thcentury, the standard was not actively helping one side or the other. By the 18thcentury, it was merely being inactive. (Consider the inactions of Spain and France in the early years of our War for Independence, despite their granting various helps or not enacting hindrances to our conduct.) By 1899, the Hague Conference, which was reconvened in 1915, set 47 articles of neutrality. (The Hague and Geneva Conventions are archived at the Yale Law School’s “Avalon Project” here.) The rules included protections for non-combatants and civilians in general.

Gen. Henri Guisan wanted those rules suspended. All male Swiss citizens age 20 to 60 served in their armed forces (and still do). And they were mobilized to meet the German threat. Eventually, many were released back to civilian life, but all remained available. Meanwhile, over four years, from 1939 to 1943, Gen. Guisan issued a series of orders to create, first, a line of defense facing Germany, and then, ultimately, an interior “redoubt” (reduit), a fortified central command in the middle of Switzerland, which could hold out against the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe. Tunnels and bridges were armed to collapse, sealing the center of the nation. 

Gen. Guisan understood that however it was defined Switzerland's neutrality would be meaningless--in fact, it would be impossible--without Swiss independence.  Therefore, on July 25, 1940, he addressed his officers in speech known as the Rütli Rapport. Nascent nationalism in the 18th century established a historiography to explain Rütli as the site of the first Swiss Confederation. The Rütlischwur (lit: Rütli Swear = the Oath of Rütli) brought the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden into a common league traditionally dated to 1307. It was also associated with the legend of Wilhelm Tell, certainly as told by Friedrich Schiller.

"Everywhere, where the order is to hold, it is the duty of conscience of each fighter, even if he depends on himself alone, to fight at his assigned position. The riflemen, if overtaken or surrounded, fight in their position until no more ammunition exists. The cold steel is next. ... The machine-gunners, the cannoneers of heavy weapons, the artillerymen, if in the bunker or on the field, do not abandon or destroy their weapons, or allow the enemy to seize them. Then the crews fight further like riflemen. As long as a man has another cartridge or hand weapon to use, he does not yield. " -- from General Henri Guisan's order to Swiss troops, July 25, 1940. ( 

Germany held off. On the one hand, obviously, Switzerland would be a tough nut to crack. This is a nation of soldiers who hold shooting contests for fun and prizes, firing everything from crossbows to the most modern sniper rifles. On the other hand, Germany’s own fifth column assured them that rather than a tough nut, Switzerland was a ripe fruit, ready to fall into their hands. 
Swiss shooting Thaler - silver dollar sized coin celebrating a shooting match
"Swiss Shooting Thaler"
commemorative coin
1872 Shooting Festival Zuerich
(Some local issues are rare,
but there is no shortage of the kind.)
Civitas Galleries, Calgary.
Then came Allen Dulles. For Dulles, espionage and counter-espionage were more important than guns. By 1943,. Hitler had lost the confidence of his military command and an agent known as “Viking Line” provided intelligence to the Swiss, and through them to the Allies. As Victor Davis Hanson argued in The Second World Wars this was not a simple matter of Three of Us versus Three of Them. Some Germans held back-channel communications with the USSR, the UK, and the USA. In Yugoslavia, Marshall Tito, acting in accordance with Stalin’s instructions, was willing to throw in with the Germans in order to prevent an Allied landing across the Adriatic. Heinrich Himmler’s SS was willing to write off most of Italy, if they could hold the Alps as the ramparts of Festung Europa. To that end German agents in Switzerland negotiated through Swiss contacts with the Americans and British. Eventually, the American point of view was made clear and the German army in Italy surrendered unconditionally. Switzerland was safe and secure.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

At Oryana Co-op I Took my Change in Bay Bucks

Over the weekend of May 18, we were in Traverse City. After shopping on Front Street, we went to Oryana Community Co-op to buy snacks. We were members when we lived in TC. And at that time, I worked with the Bay Bucks planning committee. So, I took my change in community currency. 
Early Stage Concepts
A local currency provides an economic “cul-de-sac” that keeps wealth within a community. Local money tends to stay close to home. This means that profits do not get exported via chain stores and multinational corporations. Instead, people buy and sell goods and services among themselves, with the currency being an accounting tool. About 30 towns have tried the experiment, some with more success than others. 
[Portions of this article first appeared in the Michigan State Numismatic Society MichMatist where it can be found online here]

Late Stage Concept
10BB Pre-Production Proof 
In the summer of 2003, I heard a radio interview on WIAA-FM, Interlochen, in which two Traverse City community activists, Chris Grobbel and Natasha Lapinski, explained their plans for a hometown money. They sounded competent and intelligent and the project was compelling to me as a numismatist. I tracked them down by asking around at the Oryana Natural Food Co-op. I interviewed them (and others) for an article that ran in the November 13, 2003 issue of Northern Express hereI wrote a follow-up article for the June 9, 2004 issue here. 

For me, the rewards were in managing the design team. I found three design students at Northwestern Michigan College. Brendan O’Brien, Pauline Viall, and Thomas Loomis launched a model company (OVL Design) and signed off on a Statement of Work. I gave them samples of world currencies, a copy of Standish’s The Art of Money and links to websites for the International Banknote Society and the Paper Money Collectors. 

20BB as Pre-Production Proof
Seeking a printer, I found Deep Wood Press and Chad Pastotnik. (There was another alternative but now I cannot find her name.) Chad did everything he could to help them with their insufficient production budget. We abandoned intaglio printing, hemp paper, die cut corners to facilitate telling by touch, and other craft elements. The final version does have a foil security appliqué. Each note was to carry its own motto: “Regional Community Currency” (BB1); “Traverse Area Community Currency” (BB5); “Bread for Your Watershed” (BB10); and “In Community We Trust” (BB20). Instead all of the backs say "Trustworthy Tools for Local Exchange."

Patty Fabian, a designer with Peninsula Partners in Traverse City, developed a set of proposed logos to support the imaging and branding of Bay Bucks in store windows, on bumper stickers, and on the notes themselves.
5BB (Face) and 1BB (Face and Back)

The final version of the series consists of four notes: BB1, BB5, BB10 and BB20. Each represents an eco-system: Dunes (Dune Lily and Piping Plover); Wetland (Morrell Mushroom and Ringtail Raccoon); Farm (Cherry Blossom and Barn Owl); and Forest (Lady Slipper and Whitetail Deer). The Petoskey Stone pattern supplied the border of all four faces.  

The planning committee identified about 100 local businesses that could benefit from participating in “Bay Bucks.”  About 30 of them were considered early adopters. Oryana Community Co-op was central to the success of Bay Bucks. Among the other participants was the State Theatre, home of the Traverse City Film Festival, a joint effort of Michael Moore and the Chamber of Commerce.

  • Bay Bucks here:
  • Launching Bay Bucks “Local Money Plan for Homegrown Currency has a Rich Past” Northern ExpressNovember 12, 2003, here.
  • “Passing the Bay Bucks: Local Currency Could Hit the Streets This Summer,” (Northern Express, 2004) here. 
  • Traverse Ticker (2018) “Yes, Traverse City Still has its own Currency” here.
  • Traverse Ticker (2019) “Could Bay Bucks go Digital?” here
  • “I Took My Change in Bay Bucks” on CoinTalk here.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Enerdyne and Brain Storm in Suttons Bay

While visiting family May 17-20, I stopped in at Enerdyne to shop for an optical adapter for my telescope. They were very helpful. They found the part that I needed. I also bought two pairs of small forceps (“tweezers”) and four bar magnets.

Enerdyne sells Petoskey stones, but I did not see any out on display. So, I went next door to Brain Storm and found one there. While at Brain Storm, I bought a game, "Word A Round," for Laurel and me.

Elaine and Stu were working the store on Saturday.
Dick Cookman, formerly a science instructor
at Northwestern College, is the owner.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Great Lakes Maritime Academy

On Friday, May 17, I was granted a tour of the Great Lakes Maritime Academy at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. It was arranged by my sister-in-law, an administrative assistant there. (She served in the Royal Navy.) Although their students were out on the water for training, I had about an hour with one of their instructors, Cary Godwin (CDR USCG Ret). While the simulator ran its program, we talked about training methods and methodologies. Sue then led us through the classrooms and laboratories. 

GLMA cadets are in a four-year program that requires 360 days of active shipboard assignment. In fact, it begins on the water. 

Students work hard at basic skills from the sextant and paper charts up through the newest technologies. Their training includes piloting 1000-foot ore ships and rowing small boats.  
The first class graduated in 1979.
Cadet David E. Weiss died when the Edmund Fitzgerald was lost,
November 10, 1975.
Engineer Paul C. Powell, class of 1999, perished in an incident
aboard the Edward A. Carter, July 14, 2001.
It all comes down to people.
Cadets graduate as deck officers or engineering officers. In addition, the GLNA has a US Naval Reserves program.

The students master diesel mechanics and electricity generation and control. For those who decide that life on the water is not for them, the school maintains a BS degree program in power systems that qualifies graduates to work in a wide range of industries. The GLNA shares their building with a culinary institute; so, they also train and graduate ship stewards. 
Just follow the rules.
 I learned the difference between an allision and a collision. (At home, I discovered that many dictionaries consider "allision" to be obsolete. Reading the US Naval Institute Proceedings since 2015, I soon learned that engines can be casualities, no less than engineers. See NOAA's discussion of allision here.) 

Previously on Necessary Facts

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Regimental Public Affairs Officer

On May 4 and-5 May 2019, I attended training for public affairs officers in the Texas Military Department. The training was presented by public affairs professionals from the news media and from the military. Of necessity, some presenters wore both hats. Of course, the panel discussions and lectures were focused on news reporting for military public affairs. In addition, I picked up good pointers about writing for any market or audience.

The Introduction by LTC David Spanton set the context. “We have three goals,” he said. 
1.    Meet your peers. Make friends. 
2.   Recognition of our work.
3.   Professional development.
The morning sessions were on Crisis Management, Media Relations, and Social Media. In the afternoon, we covered Photo & Video, and Cracking the Awards. On the second day, we were reminded of the fundamental truths in career development. The seminar ended with an awards ceremony to recognize the writers, photographers, and videographers in the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, and the Texas State Guard.
Texas State Guard Public Affairs
Maritime (left) and Army (right)
The first panel discussion on the first day was about Crisis Communications. The presenters were Bryce Dunbee (Austin Bergstrom International Airport), Natalie Bidnick Andreas (public relations consultant),  Caitlin Rourk (crisis management consultant).

Bryce recommended having a tagline that closes every statement: “As always, safety is our number one priority.”  Natalie said that crisis communication begins with an apology. She also emphasized the need for clear social media policies that apply to everyone from the CEO to interns. Caitlin encouraged us to find case studies of actual events. “Pick a crisis and then wordsmith a statement for it during your monthly drill as an exercise.” Look for bookmarkable case studies in crisis management.

They all insisted that public affairs officers need to reach out early and often to news media.  “Get your buy-in before the crisis…. Make your contacts in times of peace… Become part of the command staff equation. … Know your contacts in your legal affairs department.” And remember that today everyone is on a national stage.

Panel Sessions were held in 
the Audie Murphy Building
Natalie warned us to watch out for scope creep. You will have a client or stakeholder, a commander of some kind, who wants more services, whether that means more of your time or creating a new and better spin to the story. She recommended holding your ground. “You tell them: ‘I am duty bound and this is what I can do.’”  So, how do you push back to a client or a commander? You outline for them the reputational risk and give them a threat analysis. 

Crisis preparation is defining the “so-what” in a story. The numbers do not lie. Metrics speak. Tell the media not only why your organization is out there doing these things, but why your communications directors or spokespersons are saying these things. “We are continuing to investigate.” Tell them when you will have the information they seek.  

Have your speakers, your commanders, be prepared for the next question.  Reporters know that you are prepped for one or two responses. So, they keep asking more questions until they get to the one you are not prepared for.

At the end of the first day, the sixth panel was titled “Cracking the Awards” (SSG Will Reinier, Jordyn Fetter, and MSG Thomas Wheeler presenting). They did not say this, but it is a known cliché (perhaps from Napoleon) that a soldier will do anything for a piece of colored silk. Awards matter for the same reasons that publicity itself matters: recognition is important. So, how do you get recognized? 

Stick to the criteria. Follow the instructions. Look for categories with fewer entrants. It is pretty easy. 
Class Photo: Texas Military Department
Public Affairs Officers Seminar
I found value in their outline for any story. We are writing non-fiction. These are reports to the public. But it is best told as a story. 
Five elements of any story.
1.    Set the scene. Take a wide shot.
2.   Introduce the character. Root for or against.
3.   Find the conflict. Find the challenge.
4.   Conflict changes the character.
5.   Resolution.

Similarly, the first panel of the second day on Career Management (LTC David Spanton, MAJ Jose Perez) underscored truths that apply to all professions. Look for opportunities in education, training, promotions, and assignment. Follow up on continuing education whether that is the completion of certifications or accreditations or maintaining your society memberships.  


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Asteroid Hunters by Carrie Nugent

This is an inspired little book with a lot of problems. I pulled it from the stacks at my city library neighborhood branch because I wanted something casual to read and because I wanted to find a book to review for my local astronomy club newsletter. Asteroid hunting is one of the activities of amateur astronomers that intersects the work of professionals. Comet hunting is another. I was pleasantly surprised by Dr. Nugent’s easy explanation of why, contrary to our common assumptions, asteroids and comets are often the same. That was one of several interesting facts in a flawed presentation. 

With a lot of hope, I expected to read about amateur and professional astronomers, including photographs of the instruments used by my unpaid colleagues who work for the love of it. Instead, I soon met the first of over 20 errors of fact. It started with the vernacular American style which includes jarring grammatical lapses and sentence fragments.
  • “When I tell people I’m a space scientist studying asteroids, they sometimes assume I’m a super-smart math whiz. The kind of person who skipped a bunch of grades and went to college when they were sixteen.” (page 2)
  • “There wasn’t going to be any surprises.” (page 15)
  • “Soy latte, check e-mail, wait for the caffeine to kick in.” (page 29)
  • “… there’s a few…” (page 73)

Nugent writes, “… sometimes artifacts of the telescope can masquerade as an asteroid moving across the sky. These artifacts can be a series of cosmic rays, or the edge of a flare from a bright star.” (page 29).That is not what an “artifact” is in a viewing instrument. When you see your eyelashes in a microscope because of internal reflections in the lens system, that is an artifact. 
Asteroid Hunters by Carrie Nugent, 
TED Books Simon & Schuster, 2017, 
108 pages, $16.99.
Nugent wrongly claims that astronomers in 1800 thought that the planets orbit in circles. “Existing methods of the time [1800-1802] used the assumption that the planets traveled around the Sun in circular paths, when in reality they traveled on a specific geometric path called an ellipse.” (page 43) But it was Kepler who first fit the orbits of the planets into elliptical paths about 1605.

At that point, Nugent already referenced Kepler, though she never mentions Newton. Kepler showed that the planets travel in ellipses and then that was proved as mathematically necessary by Newton. Newton’s calculus demonstrated that objects moving under the influence of a central force do so in paths that are conic sections. It is called a “necessary fact” something that is both required by logic and observed in experience. The shape of the orbit (line, hyperbola, parabola, ellipse, circle) depends on the velocity of the object. 

An underlying theme of this book is that getting money to search for near-Earth asteroids has been difficult because the political agencies that fund such research consider the possibility of catastrophe to be remote. The kind of asteroid that could end life as we know it comes only every 65 million years. However, two asteroids dramatically became meteorites in recent times: the Sudan 2008 TC3; and Siberia 2012DA14 (Chelyabinsk). The Sudan fall was predicted a few hours ahead of impact. Siberia was a complete surprise.

Nugent explains the difficulties in spotting asteroids. For one thing, the Sun blocks our view. But she also explains the work-arounds of observation and orbit plotting. At least, she says that such tools exist.  In fact, Nugent presents orbit plotting as extremely complex, difficult mathematics that only a genius could master. If not for Carl Gauss, we would be working in the dark, so to speak. But it only takes three points, three observations, to define a conic section. 

That being so, what makes orbit plotting and asteroid hunting a challenge is the many perturbations that change the neat conic sections into wobbly, wonky drunk walks. Nonetheless, celestial bodies travel in very predictable, mathematically definable paths. Even the perturbations are knowable and predictable. That being so, it remains that even now, 300 years after Newton’s Principia, for the most exacting predictions, we depend on tables of previous observations, rather than applying undergraduate calculus to three observations.

Nugent says that “Space is cold.” (page 64 para 6). It is not cold if you are in direct sunlight. Then, it is hot. Whether space is hot or cold depends on the definitions. Statistical mechanics defines temperature by the number of particles with a significant velocity. If you have one or two traveling at the speed of light,  you have “cold.” If you have thousands going 10 mph, it is hot: just rub your hands together as fast as you can. (Don’t burn yourself.) 

Nugent discusses the important statistical method of her team without naming it. Writing about p-values, (page 76) she calls it “debiasing” (pgs-75-77). “They also knew the time and location in the sky of every image NEOWISE had ever taken. The computer simulation exactly modeled how NEOWISE observed the sky and what it would be able to see. Then, they simulated hundreds of thousands of ‘synthetic’ asteroids and ran them through the simulation to see how many asteroids NEOWISE would have seen. The result was compared to what NEOWISE actually saw.” Nugent then gives an example using 10, 12, and 18 samples.  “Of course, the actual implementation is more complicated than that, and many more asteroids are simulated so that the results have statistical significance. But you get the idea. With this method, we know what we don’t know.” (page 77).  

Dr. Nugent delivered her TED Talk in February 2016. This book came out in 2017. But p-values and “statistical significance” were being questioned for the very misuse and abuse of statistical methods by scientists such as Dr. Nugent. 
  • “Why Most Published Research Findings are False,” John P. A. Ioannidis, PLoS Medicine, August 2005.
  • “How to Use p-Values Correctly,” Kerry Grens, March 9, 2016,The Scientist.
  • “The ASA’s statement on p-values: context, process, and purpose,” by Ronald L. Wasserman, and Nicole A. Lazar, The American Statistician, March 9, 2016.

It is a serious fact that keeping up with all of the sciences not related to your own is a challenge. However, this controversy was first opened for discussion in 2005 and just as Dr. Nugent was approaching TED Talks, it burst out. The ASA Statement can be found on many websites for university undergraduate classes in statistics. She should have known. They all should have, rather than surging forward with their millions of computer-simulated asteroids.

And yet, there is much here, even though the details may not motivate anyone else. I always accepted the easy statement that a thousand Earths could fit inside Jupiter. The giant planet’s diameter is about ten times our own’s. Ten cubed is a thousand. (In fact, it works out to Jupiter’s volume being about 1381 times that of Earth.) In a footnote, Dr. Nugent explains that packing spheres leaves space between them. Only about 800 Terras could be fit into Jove. I learned something that I should have figured out on my own. So, I am appreciative.

Jupiter is discussed in the context of asteroid Shoemaker-Levy 9 striking Jupiter. “Unfortunately, the impact was going to hit the side of Jupiter that was facing away from Earth, so astronomers with telescopes wouldn’t have a direct view. … A fleet of spacecraft was trained on Jupiter, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the ROSAT X-ray satellite, and …” (page 81) Neither of those was in any position to see the far side of Jupiter. Both Hubble and ROSAT orbited Earth. In fact, Hubble did send images from after the impact. 
This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of Jupiter's cloudtops was taken at 5:32 EDT on July 16, 1994, shortly after the impact of the first fragment (A) of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. A violet (410 nanometer) filter of the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 was used to make the image 1.5 hours after the impact.
And it was not a single event but a series of impacts. The comet had broken up two years earlier in a previous pass-by in July 1992. The fragment stream impacted the planet over six days, July 16-22, 1994. As Jupiter rotates on its axis with a period of about 10 hours (9 hr 55 min 30 sec), the effects of the fall could still be detected. In fact, “ripples” on Jupiter out to its thin ring were recorded as late as 2002.  (See–Levy_9) and see So, the actual moments of these impacts may have been missed by all, but being in Earth orbit would not have made any difference.

When you watch Prof. Carrie Nugent’s TED Talk here, it is obvious that she is excited about her work and the opportunity to share it with an audience that will care. Those six minutes are fine as far as they go. The difference is that print captures everything except (perhaps) exuberance.