Tag Archives: John F. Kennedy

On Being Presidential

A Leader is one who shows the way.

Listening to the wireless yesterday, I happened to hear part of a speech / response to a question by President Trump on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Allegedly some 100 men, women, and children were killed by Sarin Gas / and or Chlorine Gas, on Tuesday of this week.  This ‘massacre’ took place in Khan Sheikhoun, in the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib, allegedly the ‘massacre’ was carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Russia says this atrocity was caused by gas leaking from a terrorist / Syrian rebel chemical weapons depot.

Sarin Gas is particularly nasty stuff, invented by Hitler’s boffins, odourless and deadly in 10 seconds, it’s a perfect terrorist weapon.  The use of Sarin was banned in 1997 under the UN chemical weapons convention.  Chlorine Gas will also kill you pretty quickly, and obviously chlorine isn’t banned, but chlorine stinks.  The 1925 Geneva Protocol specifically prohibits the use of Gas in Warfare, but apparently allows the use of chemical weapons within a state’s own borders in a civil conflict.  So it wouldn’t actually be completely illegal for Syrian forces to use Chlorine Gas on rebels in Idlib Province.

However, the rights, wrongs, culprits, retaliations, and possible solutions for this terrible incident wasn’t what struck me about President Trump’s words during his Rose Garden Press Conference.  My first thought was that Mr. Trump didn’t sound ‘Presidential’.  His presentation skills were, quite frankly, terrible.

Strictly speaking, this wasn’t a ‘presentation’ by President Trump, but anytime a President of The United States of America speaks, shouldn’t he radiate authority, clarity, confidence, gravitas, and complete command of his brief?  For me, Mr Trump just sounded like an amateur speaker at a golf club tournament.

The President committed the cardinal sins of deviation, hesitation, and repetition.  I have a strong feeling that Mr. Trump speaks totally ‘off the cuff’, and ‘shoots from the hip’.  At the same time I believe that Mr. Trump has spent far too long using facile social media such as Twitter, and not long enough reading modern history written by statesmen such as Winston Churchill.

Listen to one of Mr Churchill’s great speeches, such as the ‘Finest Hour’, and then listen to Mr Trump on Syria, and note the differences.  If you like, you can also listen to someone like the actor Morgan Freeman, who sounds far more ‘Presidential’ than President Donald Trump.

The question is; does sounding and acting like a great president, make you a great president?  Well, partly it does.  Some say that John F. Kennedy was a great president, and that his greatest speech was his 100 days speech.  All I know is that Kennedy ‘sounds’ like a great President, and sadly Trump doesn’t, not quite, not yet.  Although Mr Trump does have a pretty cool sense of humour, and maybe that’s why a woman like Hillary Clinton couldn’t get herself elected.

Some say that a man should ‘fake it to make it’, and that looking and sounding like a leader is nine-tenths of the battle.  All I know is that presentation skills are part of urban survival skills and something every man should learn.


jack collier


The Miracle Material ~ Plywood

Plywood is marvellous stuff.  An engineered sheet wood that is made from thin veneers of timber glued together in a cross-grained layer cake.  It was allegedly invented in 1797 by Royal Navy Engineer Samuel Bentham, and further refined in about 1847 by Immanual Nobel, (father of Aflred Nobel).

You can build just about anything out of plywood.  Go to Joshua Tree in California and take a look at the Integratron if you want to see an amazing structure made from sheets of plywood.

ply2One can see the method of constriction much better from inside.

plywoodThe floor in my apartment is covered in sheets of varnished ply to give a warm, clean and attractive finish which is better than carpet, and gives extra strength to the structure ~ (which stops my record player from skipping when I walk around).

One can make furniture, car chassis, (as in the Marcos 1800 GT,and the Costin), from plywood, which have a stiff plywood monocoque.


I could even build a home out of plywood ~ not difficult once the concrete base is laid.  In fact all of the materials to build a substantial home could be moved in the back of a Ford Transit Van, (which was designed to take the standard 8 x 4 plywood sheet).


Of the more remarkable things built out of plywood there is the WWII United States Patrol Torpedo boat as skippered by Future President John F. Kennedy in PT 109.


An even more remarkable war-winning machine was the ‘wooden wonder’ the de Havilland Mosquito ~ the plywood plane.  This machine was a light bomber, strike fighter, night fighter, reconnaissance aircraft, target marker, low level bomber, maritime patrol aircraft, torpedo bomber ~ the first truly multi-role aircraft.  In 1941 the ‘Mossie’ was the fastest aircraft in the world and was almost immune from interception.  Powered by two Rolls-Royce Merlin engines it was faster than the Supermarine Spitfire, could fly higher and had a much longer range than the legendary Battle of Britain fighter.  The Mosquito could carry 2,000 lbs of bombs at up to 400 mph, all the way to Berlin.  The Mosquito could also maintain a climb on one engine.  It was also bloody dangerous for inexperienced pilots at low speed, having a stall speed of 121 mph.


de Havilland’s later jet fighters, the Venom and Vampire also use wood extensively in their construction.

One of the largest plywood structures today is Inhabitat, the Roskilde Plywood Dome.  Although, to me, this offers less than the aforementioned Integratron.

If one wants a less challenging project than an aircraft or home using plywood ~ try boat building.

plywood boatOh, and the WWII LCVP, the Higgins Boat, was also made from plywood.

higgins_boatjack collier




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