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Apparently, Gordon Freeman was named after Freeman Dyson … Secret Santos … ‚Schräge Musik‘ 9th of December, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 04:36

An interesting article from Freeman Dyson on researching British bomber raids on Germany in World War II as they happened; he worked for something called the Operational Research Section, which had been modelled on something parallel in the Navy. It was a much less effective unit, as he explained it because its boss didn’t have the freedom to honestly threaten to resign—he was a career civil servant, whereas the Naval unit’s chief was a successful academic—so he basically spent the war doing nothing productive as a consequence of a hierarchical problem. It was the sort of situation that I hear about from academic friends regularly, but that was the first time I had come across it in published prose.

Anyway, in it he mentions a German technology that clears up why in books on the RAF of the time bombers would be routinely shot down by ‘flak’ in places, like rural Germany, where there was no good reason for anti-aircraft batteries to be in place. Usenet says:

On his first mission with the device, Lt P Ehardt of the 6th Squadron, NJG 5 shot down four bombers in 29 minutes as they attacked Peenemuende on 17/18 August 1943.

Also, the secret Santos worked out well; I got a present, it wasn’t wildly inappropriate, yay! Now to work out who it was.

Word of the day ‚Schräge Musik‘ was the Nazi propaganda term for Jazz (pronounced /jats/ back then); ‚schräg‘ in this context meaning ‘weird, dodgy.’ It was also used for a skewed emplacement of guns in night fighters, that allowed them to approach British bombers in the blind spot below and slightly aft, and shoot them down unobserved.

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