Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Potemkin Office

Much ado, about nothing.
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I stood in the middle of the office, listening to the rhythm of computer keyboards, printers, copiers... the gurgle of the water cooler... the soft hum of the air conditioner. I could hear the sound of a small group of women singing "Happy Birthday" to someone named Carol, off to my left. The smell of coffee and chocolate cake was tantalising. I breathed deeply.

This was my business!

No-one would suspect that the cubicles hid machines that simply made those sounds; that the people striding purposefully from cubicle to office and back were paid actors.

The staff were all off running their own businesses from other locations while the work, which they never really did anyway, was not being done here.

Nothing would change, and on the off-chance that Mr Bigwig did make an appearance there was little chance he would notice anything amiss.

Of course, none of this came cheap. I took 1/3 of all salaries earned here, from the earners, in exchange for making this straw "village" look realistic. Government contracts were worth the trouble it took to obtain them, after all.

Next, the military, and those obsolescent battleships.

UnaBubba, Apr 25 2012

decoy planes http://news.google....BAJ&pg=4194,2588151
[bob, Apr 27 2012]

'The Other Side of the Hill' by Basil Liddell-Hart http://www.amazon.c...d=1335527793&sr=1-1
[DrBob, Apr 27 2012]

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       Hmm, I hope the building has had its entranceways vetted for wheelchair access, the last thing you want would be a pram bouncing all the way down those lovely monumental steps out front, could cause all manner of running about in panic, that.   

       So we're talking Government work here aren't we? I've not done it before, but I think I'd quite like to try working for the Public Sector, I'm not sure the prevailing economic climate makes that a particulary timely aspiration.
zen_tom, Apr 25 2012
  

       Yes. I've enjoyed a lovely afternoon, talking with a friend about one of his cow-orkers, who's under investigation for embezzling some $16M of government funds over a 3 year period.
UnaBubba, Apr 25 2012
  

       Youch. I was hoping for some extended holidays and the occasional tea-cake.
zen_tom, Apr 25 2012
  

       I think the guy has already begun his extended holiday. He's on remand at the moment. Not too sure how many tea-cakes they allow him each week?
UnaBubba, Apr 25 2012
  

       I'm sure I've worked there....
not_morrison_rm, Apr 25 2012
  

       Kudos, [UB]; [+]. I've been wondering for years about combining that battleship and that village in an HB idea. I was straining also to involve a bottleshop, and it didn't quite work.
pertinax, Apr 25 2012
  

       [+] for the idea of teleconferencing together all the noises from the home office and the at-home offices to create a unified environment soundscape. (yeah well that's what I read)
FlyingToaster, Apr 25 2012
  

       Would it be possible to have an 'Aurora' office, complete with blank firing (but real) 6" guns?
8th of 7, Apr 25 2012
  

       Is this just a variant of Office Zinderneuf?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Apr 25 2012
  

       Are you suggesting call centres aren't productive, [Simpleton]?
UnaBubba, Apr 25 2012
  

       If he's not, I will.   

       Does Australia still have any battleships? I would have thought they'd been auctioned off to India by now.
Alterother, Apr 25 2012
  

       The only nation retaining battleships (albeit mothballed) is the USA.   

       HMAS Australia was a battle cruiser; they never had any battleships of their own.
8th of 7, Apr 25 2012
  

       Battleships were obsolete by the end of WWII. No, Australia never had any of them, though our battle cruisers didn't do so badly, when they were needed.
UnaBubba, Apr 25 2012
  

       Hmm, "comfort noise" I was looking for something I heard on the Beeb, about an accounts office being so quiet that people were too startled when the phone rang, so they had artificial office noises playing.   

       "During the siege of Leningrad, the beat of a metronome was used as comfort noise on the Leningrad radio network, indicating that the network was still functioning" - wikipedia, so it must be true..
not_morrison_rm, Apr 25 2012
  

       Oh, that scurrilous, wicked Wikipedia!
UnaBubba, Apr 25 2012
  

       I know we're the only ones still lamely clinging to our battlewagons, I was just making a cheap joke, but honestly thought HMAS Australia was a full battleship. Bluddy big cruiser. No [UB], they didn't do badly at all, for a war in which they were largely without a role (battleships and big cruisers, I mean, not Aussies).
Alterother, Apr 26 2012
  

       Sydney and Kormoran took each other out, in a one- on-one battle in 1941. Sydney was a cruiser.
UnaBubba, Apr 26 2012
  

       Jacky Fisher never liked the term" Battle cruiser". Although they were as big as battleships and carried battleship guns, they sacrificed armour for speed, making them very vulnerable tto" real" battleships.   

       The classic battle cruiser action was the Falkland Islands iin WW1 where they overtook and destroyed German armoured cruisers.   

       The concept isn't flawed per se; the flaw is that they were often misunderstood and wrongly deployed by the Naval staffs.   

       In naval combat terms, battleships are obsolete, but given adequate air cover they are less vulnerable than flattops and have an unrivalled ability to act as monitors for shore bombardment. The ability to deliver a salvo of 400mm HE shells at a tonne each once a minute for hours at a time still commands respect.
8th of 7, Apr 26 2012
  

       Everytime I see a potemkin in the supermarket, I have the secret urge to smash it. quote unquote.
4whom, Apr 26 2012
  

       //ability to deliver a salvo of 400mm HE shells at a tonne each once a minute for hours at a time still commands respect//   

       The Japanese fleet learned that at Leyte Gulf, I think. Cruisers did quite a bit of damage in the Battle of Surigao Strait, which was possibly the most classical naval battle in history. The battleships fired between 14 and 93 shells apiece. One of the cruisers in the action fired something like 1300 rounds from her main armaments, over the course of the 60-odd hour action.
UnaBubba, Apr 26 2012
  

       How great that they're finally coming up with a sequel, with Liam Neeson in the Admiral's role!
theircompetitor, Apr 26 2012
  

              //ability to deliver a salvo of 400mm HE shells at a tonne each once a minute for hours at a time still commands respect//      

       Respect, yes, but as we rapidly approach the obsolesence of even the AEGIS systems, perhaps it's time to accept that respect doesn't win wars and the only real role of a battleship is as a floating museum.   

       // The Japanese fleet learned that at Leyte Gulf //   

       An understatement, although 'learned' implies there was anyone left in a position to appreciate the lesson. The last great crossing of the T, as it were.   

       In terms of ship-to-ship slugfests, the Brits and Aussies definitely threw the biggest punches of the war. [UB], [8th] will probably tell you, despite our constant feuding, that I'm one of the rare American armchair historians who knows that we didn't win the war all by ourselves. In the ETO, we just helped; in the PTO, we had a lot of help, and could not have done without.
Alterother, Apr 26 2012
  

       My satirical-culations place this at 11.3 on the Richturd scale, and well into Fraudmulan space Captian.   

       // // The Japanese fleet learned that at Leyte Gulf // An understatement, although 'learned' implies there was anyone left in a position to appreciate the lesson. //   

       "Experience is the harshest teacher, because she always gives the test first and the lesson afterward…"   

       Not, of course, that the filthy Nips didn't (and don't) ddeserve every last gram of Pentrite and every last white-hot whining fragment of hardened steel shrapnel; should the opportunity ever arise to adorn a suitably malevolent projectile with the phrase, "Ship that on yer Burma Railroad, Tojo !" we will have our special stick of chalk ready to hand…
8th of 7, Apr 26 2012
  

       It's surprising just how few decisive naval engagements there have actually been, in history.   

       The US battleships at Leyte did a fair share of the heavy lifting, though a lot of the damage was also done by the force of almost 1,000 aircraft the US brought to bear in the engagement.   

       The Japanese force was heavily outnumbered and outgunned.
UnaBubba, Apr 27 2012
  

       I think one of their largest contributing factors was to simply tie up the Germans to help keep supplies coming through, as well as control the Med.
RayfordSteele, Apr 27 2012
  

       Absolutely. The discussion has centered on the Pacific, where the US Navy was devoting the majority of its forces to air assault actions and shepherding the Marines, in roughly equal proportion, but in the ETO the USN definitely played a decisive role in strictly naval actions.   

       //       It's surprising just how few decisive naval engagements there have actually been, in history.    //   

       I know what you mean, but you've gotten me thinking about the kind of really serious resources that go into (and are consumed by) a naval engagement. Soldiers are relatively cheap to generate and maintain, as are sailors, but ships are not. Also, a large infantry battle may be, and often is, decided by the actions of a single platoon, whereas a naval battle of equal significance is decided by the dedicated and careful deployment a million of tons of warships acting in concert while lobbing a massive amount of ordnance at the horizon and burning fuel like it's free. Even with artillery and logistics, the cost of fighting a single battle on land pales in comparison, so it stands to reason there'd more of them.   

       Also, the ocean is very large and the number of ships in each navy is relatively small. The infantry only have to walk for a few minutes if they want to pick a fight, but in the days before mechanical propulsion navies could spend months just trying to _find_ each other.
Alterother, Apr 27 2012
  

       Germany tried hard to keep Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, Hungary and particularly Japan interested in WWII, to distract Russia, with whom the majority of the war was actually fought. 60- 80% of German efforts and losses were on the Eastern Front. Practically none of that, barring submarine operations, was of a naval nature.   

       However, it bled dry Germany's warchests while the US and Britain were preparing to invade Normandy and Italy. The invasion of Italy took place while Germany was locked in a massive struggle for the Kursk salient, where 800,000 German soldiers and 2,900 tanks attacked 1,900,000 Russian troops and over 5,000 tanks.   

       The Germans were doing well, especially the 3 SS armoured divisions in the southern pincer of the action, until Hitler pulled the plug on 12 July, 3 days after the US invaded Sicily.   

       People tend to forget the Russian contributions, largely because the history we read glosses over them because of their post-war ideological confrontation with the West.
UnaBubba, Apr 27 2012
  

       WWII: the only time in recorded history when the world actually benefitted from the interference of a micromanaging supervisor.   

       The Russian front is actually my favorite subject. It's what I mean when I say 'we just helped' in the ETO.
Alterother, Apr 27 2012
  

       We probably have similar libraries, [Alter]. I have about 1200 volumes of military history, though it's biased towards the Australian involvement in the Boer War, WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
UnaBubba, Apr 27 2012
  

       I haven't bothered to count the number of books I own, although my history library is probably half yours at best. The topics trend according to 'whatever I was interested in at the time' but generally focus on the 20th century, probably 60% WWII. I'm very armchair. But yeah, I imagine we've read a lot of the same stuff.   

       One I keep going back to is 'The Tigers Are Burning'.
Alterother, Apr 27 2012
  

       I only know how many I've got because I recently insured them, along with the rest of the 7,000 titles I have. I've a stack of oriental art books as well.   

       A lot of the military history came from my uncle, who wrote and published a number of books on the subject.
UnaBubba, Apr 27 2012
  

       I tend to look at the value of these battleships as more of chess pieces than for their direct offensive maneuver capability. Comparatively, there are relatively few rook vs. rook fights, but they do help shape the board in dramatic ways.   

       Most of what I know about WWII I learned from Churchill's volumes. I wonder if there's a comparative German-perspective work out there?
RayfordSteele, Apr 27 2012
  

       <linky>

Not nearly as voluminous as Churchill's writings but interesting nevertheless.
DrBob, Apr 27 2012
  

       Mein Kampf has just been re-published, with the blessing of a number of Jewish organisations.
UnaBubba, Apr 27 2012
  

       Ah, but to appreciate it properly, you have to read it in the original Yiddish…
8th of 7, Apr 27 2012
  

       &#1502; &#1497;&#1497; &#1503; &#1513; &#1500; &#1488;&#1463; &#1499; &#1496;
UnaBubba, Apr 27 2012
  

       Most of my history books came from my Grandad. There's quite bit of very dry Cold War stuff in there as well, but due to the publishing dates it actually qualifies as 'current events'. My favorite items, of course, are the internal publications from various intelligence and defense agencies that I'm probably not even allowed to own. Many of those are so contextual as to be virtually unreadable, but I still like having books and folders with 'secret' stamped on the inside cover. Then there are my Grandad's journals, on any given page of which one may find a sketch of downtown Prague and a critique of that day's lunch right in the middle of a slough of mathematics and diagrams pertaining to some radar system that's still considered cutting edge to this day... I have a lot of fun with those old books, even the ones I don't fully understand.
Alterother, Apr 27 2012
  

       //I wonder if there's a comparative German-perspective work out there?//   

       No, but you might be interested by an English-language work called "The Russian Version of the Second World War" (Graham Lyons), based on extracts from Soviet-era school textbooks.   

       It's quite a lot shorter than Mr. Churchill's version. Then again, so is "War and Peace".
pertinax, Apr 28 2012
  

       // Then again, so is "War and Peace" //   

       Shorter, perhaps, but the body count is somewhat higher. If the direct and indirect victims of the Great Patriotic War asked the question "Went the day well ?", their voices would number in tens of millions.
8th of 7, Apr 28 2012
  

       //No, but //   

       Wait; I tell a lie: there's Albert Speer's memoir, "Inside the Third Reich". That's probably the closest equivalent.
pertinax, Apr 30 2012
  

       I seem to remember someone'd written a book on WWII making a point that pretty much all Western allied ground action was a bit pointless. The third reich and the soviet union would have fought each other to a standstill, by D-Day just about everyone who was going to die in the Holocaust was already dead.   

       It was an interesting perspective, sometime morality comes before military necessity.
not_morrison_rm, May 01 2012
  

       That sounds about right, [nmr]. The Western Front initiatives distracted the Germans enough for the Russians to run over them from the East... and gave Russia enough self-belief that they decided to annex everything they'd invaded while chasing the Huns back to Berlin and beyond.   

       It took a while to get those worms back in the can.
UnaBubba, May 01 2012
  

       The Western Front was Stalin's prerogative as much as anyone else's, so let's not entirely discount its importance. Without the invasion of Europe from the south and northwest, the war could have gone on another two or three years. That's another 2-3 years of occupation, atrocity, subjugation, and indocrtination in most of Europe. By the end, most or all of the resistance groups would have been wiped out, and the USA's economy and industrial infrastructure might have been irreparably damaged. Even if the Nazis still suffered total defeat solely at the hands of the Russians, the world would still have suffered far more for the delay, and almost all of mainland Europe would have become Soviet territory.
Alterother, May 01 2012
  

       //and the USA's economy and industrial infrastructure might have been irreparably damaged.//
Or the Western Allies would've nuked Berlin, and the Japanese would've seen the futility of continuing and folded.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 02 2012
  

       // I was straining also to involve a bottleshop, and it didn't quite work.//   

       [pertinax] An off license called "Bottleshop Potemkin" would spark an epidemic of arthouse alcoholism
oscil8, May 05 2012
  

       Vodka would be much in evidence, I imagine.
UnaBubba, May 05 2012
  

              //, the Japanese would've seen the futility of continuing //    Doubtful, in my view. Consider the fanaticism, the all-or- nothing mindset that prevailed form the top down in not only the Japanese military heirarchy but the very culture of the nation at the time; Germany was beaten, Hitler dead, 2/3 of the axis dismantled, and still they fought on as though this were only a setback. We could have nuked not only Berlin but every major German base of resistance and the Japanese would have dismissed it as irrelevant.   

       In our scenario of leaving the ETO entirely to the Russians on the ground, which would have incensed Stalin to the point of anuerysm and probably led to the near-immediate continuation of Soviet expansionism into the West, I believe that the Rising Sun would still have fought to the end. The Pacific endgame was always going to be either atomic bombs or a million-man invasion.   

       Furthermore, prolonging the European war would possibly have given the Japanese more time to develop their own superweapons. They weren't anywhere close to finishing an atomic weapon (though they had the rudimentary understanding and components of an implosion-type device by war's end), but they were close to developing mass- deployment biological and chemical weapons, including anthrax.
Alterother, May 05 2012
  

       <sarcasm mode>
So was Saddam Hussein.
</sm>
UnaBubba, May 05 2012
  


 

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