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Thread: Tanks and armor quiz (medium level)

  1. #1531
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    Default Re: Tanks and armor quiz (medium level)

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    I recently heard of a Christmas dish, still prepared in Iceland, for which the recipe might read as follows -

    Take one or more raw flat fish - skate or small ray are pretty usual.
    Place in a deep dish (galvanized iron buckets are commonly used).
    Seal to exclude all contact with external air.
    Leave in safe location (not too cool), so that the fish ferments in its own "juices" for three-four weeks.
    Open the dish, pat the fish dry, and grill, fry or barbecue in accordance with taste.
    Serve with something equally disgusting.
    No different to the British practice of hanging game meats (pheasant, hare, deer etc) for a week to a month until they start to decompose and, allegedly, become really sweet and tender.

    I suppose we could be discussing something about WWII so, in a clever segue, the Japanese tendency at times to eat their enemies, and their own, wasn't replicated by Western armies, primarily because:

    1. Despite Japanese food scales being considerably lower than Western ones, Western logistics were rather better than Japan's and didn't result in large numbers of troops being denied food and forced to consider eating their own dead or nearly dead, as in the Buna Gona Sanananda defensive perimeter in late 1942. This was compounded by the Japanese logistics approach of expecting troops to supply a large part of their requirements by living off the land - i.e. plundering local resources - after expending their initial scale of full rations. This was doomed to failure in places like Papua New Guinea where the locals were engaged in subsistence farming at best, and compounded at Buna etc by the Allies cutting off sea borne supplies to the defenders.

    2. Similarly in the Kokoda retreat when frequently starving Japanese troops occasionally ate their Australian enemies.

    3. Quite distinctly, the separate practice of eating the liver or other part of an enemy to satisfy primitive beliefs about gaining strength from this practice, one of the primary practitioners being the deplorable Colonel Tsujii in various parts of Japan's southern occupied territories.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  2. #1532
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    Default Re: Tanks and armor quiz (medium level)

    Fascinating (off) topic. While the general objective may be similar, a major difference between hanging, say, pheasants and the Icelandic fish thing is that the former involves aerobic decomposition, while the latter is anerobic. The fish ferment in their own juices in the absence (after the first few days) of any significant quantity of oxygen. Thus, anerobic bacteria and internally generated chemicals such as ammonia take the lead, producing a different form of decomposition. Not that this is inherently less disgusting than what can happen if a pheasant is hanged too long. I quite like pheasant in season, but have to admit that I have had a few cases of "Downton Tummy" in my time. The difference between aerobic and anerobic decomposition should, perhaps, be borne in mind by people considering whether they want to be buried in sealed or unsealed coffins/caskets on the basis that sealed caskets (usually of metal, and more expensive) will help "preserve" the corpse. In her grimly hilarious book, "The American Way of Death", Jessica Mitford (the Commie one) records an instance of a gentleman who sued his funeral director over this. Not that he was dead himself, of course. However, he allowed the undertaker to sell him a package including comprehensive embalming and interment in a sealed, bronze coffin (a "casket with a gasket") on the basis that his beloved late mother would be "eternally preserved" by this system. For some reason, the customer chose to have his mother's coffin removed from her vault (overground, another expensive addition) when he noticed lots of enthusiastic bugs circulating around it. When the casket was opened, well, let us just say that the contents looked like something straight out of a Stephen King novel - "Pet Semetary" comes to mind. As Mitford pointed out, anerobic decomposition trumps aerobic decomposition any time. In any case, rot is rot.

    Which leads in a way to the subject of human cannibalism. Understandable that many Japanese soldiers were forced to resort to this. The injunction to soldiers to "live off the land" is ancient, and was practiced with enthusiasm (though not always with success) by Napoleon among others in the modern period. Doing this in the hostile conditions in places like New Guinea should obviously have been a stretch. Regarding "ritual" consumption of selected parts of the enemy's flesh - this is (or was) a practice common in Melanesia. A problem was that, because this was human-on-human consumption, it exposed the consumers more directly to the communication of diseases to which humans are more directly prone. Studies suggest that the (former?) practice of Papuan tribesmen of eating the brains of their enemies for "spiritual" purposes increased the occurrence of dementia and prion-based diseases among the consumers. Not sure about livers, but there must be something, given that we are talking about a major organ as vital to mammalian survival as the brain. I am not familiar with the case of Colonel Tsujii but, if he did contract a nasty disease, I suspect it could not have happened to a nicer guy ... Yours from Whispering Glades, JR.

  3. #1533
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    Default Re: Tanks and armor quiz (medium level)

    Ah, I've heard of that dish, though I thought the Icelandics were more shark-oriented.

    Bonus: http://satwcomic.com/nordics-like-fish

  4. #1534
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    Default Re: Tanks and armor quiz (medium level)

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    I am not familiar with the case of Colonel Tsujii but, if he did contract a nasty disease, I suspect it could not have happened to a nicer guy ... Yours from Whispering Glades, JR.
    You're correct on the latter, but despite qualifying as a war criminal he survived the war and went on to more extraordinary adventures, including being elected to the Japanese parliament and possibly having CIA or similar links before disappearing mysteriously in Vietnam in the early 1960s.

    He was involved in the Nomonhan conflict in 1939 and was the primary, and very effective, staff planner behind Japan's conquest of Malaya and Singapore. He popped up all over Japan's expansion during the war, including encouraging the execution of POWs on the Bataan Death March and dropping in to Guadalcanal in Japan's advance phase. My recollection is that one of his independently documented liver eating events was in the Philippines.

    For anyone seriously interested in the Malayan campaign, his post-war book is required reading as a counterpoint to Percival's book. http://www.amazon.com/Japans-Greates.../dp/188511933X

    Although a very nasty character, he was also an outstanding officer at his rank and a remarkable survivor post-war.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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