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  #51  
Old 05-15-2019, 04:03 PM
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The USS Chesapeake was the black sheep of the original 6 Frigates. Besides being smaller and only 36 guns instead of the 44 she was spec'd out for, was there other problems with the Chesapeake?

I was wondering if inferior wood was used or if she didn't sail as well as the other 5? Anyone know more about the Chesapeake?
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Old 05-15-2019, 04:45 PM
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It happened exactly as Heinlein wrote it-That story (and so many others) differ from our historical records because they take place in an alternate universe.
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Old 05-15-2019, 06:11 PM
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The easiest answer is that Heinlein didn't know about it. I too grew up before the internet, and I grew up in a small city. I was constantly starved for information, and I lived at the library. But if the library didn't have a book, I was out of luck. Information was hard to come by. I still have stacks of old technical magazines because they were the only source of certain types of information I could get.

Yes, Heinlein was a voracious reader. All the more reason he might have missed a story if it was buried in the back pages of a magazine or newspaper. And he lived in Colorado Springs, so an 'easy check' would have required him going to the library in Denver AND knowing what to look for.

Since the story in the book works either way, there was no reason for him to ignore the facts. He could have just finished the story with, "And it took that midshipman's family over a hundred years just to clear his name."

So he could have chosen to tell the tale other than how it worked out in real life, but I don't think Heinlein would do that. Not about a story in the Navy. And especially not since the story worked either way. So the simplest answer is that he learned about it in the Academy, and never saw the story in the 1950's, because information was hard to come by, and a single story was very easy to miss. He might even have looked it up again in books to make sure he remembered the facts right, but any book he read while writing the story would almost certainly not have that information in it.
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Old 05-15-2019, 06:53 PM
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If he knew the full story, and wanted to deliver the maximum impact while still being literally 100% true, he could have said "And a century later, the conviction still stood".
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:03 PM
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The easiest answer is that Heinlein didn't know about it. I too grew up before the internet, and I grew up in a small city. I was constantly starved for information, and I lived at the library. But if the library didn't have a book, I was out of luck. Information was hard to come by. I still have stacks of old technical magazines because they were the only source of certain types of information I could get.

Yes, Heinlein was a voracious reader. All the more reason he might have missed a story if it was buried in the back pages of a magazine or newspaper. And he lived in Colorado Springs, so an 'easy check' would have required him going to the library in Denver AND knowing what to look for.

Since the story in the book works either way, there was no reason for him to ignore the facts. He could have just finished the story with, "And it took that midshipman's family over a hundred years just to clear his name."

So he could have chosen to tell the tale other than how it worked out in real life, but I don't think Heinlein would do that. Not about a story in the Navy. And especially not since the story worked either way. So the simplest answer is that he learned about it in the Academy, and never saw the story in the 1950's, because information was hard to come by, and a single story was very easy to miss. He might even have looked it up again in books to make sure he remembered the facts right, but any book he read while writing the story would almost certainly not have that information in it.
I think he just didn't check.

As a writer myself, I know that the things that get you are the "facts" you were so sure you knew that you don't bother checking them. I suspect he heard this story in the way back when and either didn't hear of or didn't recall the repeal. I suspect the latter -- Heinlein seems to have kept in touch with folks in the military, and would've heard about the overturn.

It wouldn't be the first time Heinlein's memory lead him astray. as a big fan of Holst's "Planets" Suite, it bugs me that Heinlein refers to it in Stranger in a Strange Land as "The Planets Symphony". And he clearly is referring to the movement "Mars" from Holst's composition, from the description he gives.


As for it being a major undertaking to drive all the way to Denver to check it out, and that being too much of a hassle, I protest. I used to look up lots of things in the pre-computer days. It certainly was possible to look things up relatively easily back then using citation indices and the like. Heinlein could easily have looked this up in Denver, had he chosen. But he lived close to Colorado springs. And, as I say, he had contacts in the military, and was visited by folks from the Academy (he writes about it). He could also call librarians in Denver, the Air Force Academy, Annapolis, or elsewhere to have them look it up if he really wanted. I suspect he really didn't want.
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  #56  
Old 05-15-2019, 08:07 PM
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It wouldn't be the first time Heinlein's memory lead him astray. as a big fan of Holst's "Planets" Suite, it bugs me that Heinlein refers to it in Stranger in a Strange Land as "The Planets Symphony". And he clearly is referring to the movement "Mars" from Holst's composition, from the description he gives.
I think Heinlein called it the "Nine Planets Symphony" - and Holst only has 7 movements in "The Planets"
  #57  
Old 05-15-2019, 10:28 PM
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I'm curious about a few things relating to Heinlein and Starship Troopers. As mentioned, Heinlein was a US Navy officer. He wasn't "unceremoniously booted"; he was medically discharged (IIRC, he was medically retired). He entered the Navy via the US Naval Academy. He wrote (at least) two books with military themes: Starship Troopers, and Space Cadet.

Now, the two books I've mentioned above are considerably different in their attitude towards the military. Starshoop Troopers is quite authoritarian and a bit over the top with "only the miitary understands civic duty" approach to citizenship. Space Cadet is a bit dismissive of military tradition (although the Patrol in the story does substitute its own traditions which smack of miitary tradition), rank, and outlook. This leads me to the questions: what kind of officer was Heinlein himself? What was his preferred philosophy of goverment.

Oh, I just realized that If This Goes On— might be considered a military themed novel since the theocracy running the country was kept in power by the military and, of course, the rebellion against that theocracy was organized on military lines.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:54 PM
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I disagree. The story was told to the "third LTs" as an object lesson. Saying "But eventually he was rehabilitated." lessens the impact tremendously.

Also, what Jim said.
Yeah it makes it a better story to tell, and with greater impact for two reasons - depending on the listener it either shows how important the army takes following orders, or it shows how intractable the armed forces decision making process is. Both valuable lessons with which to scare junior officers.

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  #59  
Old 05-15-2019, 11:37 PM
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Pardon the zombie thread....

Just read an interesting article in the August 2007 issue of Naval History magazine, Robert E. Cray Jr.'s "Explaining Defeat: The Loss of the USS Chesapeake," which mentions the Cox controversy in passing. Doesn't mention his 1952 vindication, though.
Pardon the zombie reply to the zombie post, but it's interesting that the 2007 Naval History article doesn't mention the 1952 decision by Truman. Kind of shows that even if Heinlein had researched the incident, he might not have found that bit of information if he didn't read the right articles.


As to Heinlein simply seeing the story in Time magazine himself back in 1952 when the event happened--the timing doesn't quite fit, but it's interesting to note the Heinlein was traveling all over the world in 1953 and 1954; and back then, you couldn't just connect your laptop to the hotel Wi-Fi, fire up the old VPN, and log on to all the newspapers and magazines you've subscribed to. If you were off in Tristan da Cunha (OK, so I guess he never actually made it there) or someplace, I bet you could very easily miss the news from back home for anything short of a war or a presidential assassination.
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:37 AM
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Pardon the zombie reply to the zombie post, but it's interesting that the 2007 Naval History article doesn't mention the 1952 decision by Truman. Kind of shows that even if Heinlein had researched the incident, he might not have found that bit of information if he didn't read the right articles.


As to Heinlein simply seeing the story in Time magazine himself back in 1952 when the event happened--the timing doesn't quite fit, but it's interesting to note the Heinlein was traveling all over the world in 1953 and 1954; and back then, you couldn't just connect your laptop to the hotel Wi-Fi, fire up the old VPN, and log on to all the newspapers and magazines you've subscribed to. If you were off in Tristan da Cunha (OK, so I guess he never actually made it there) or someplace, I bet you could very easily miss the news from back home for anything short of a war or a presidential assassination.
Yeah, but he was plugged into a network of military folk. Even if he missed the article, you'd think someone would have brought it up.


One reason this bothers me is that this is a pretty long story in Starship Troopers, not some throwaway line (I have the novel on audiodisc. When I get to this part anymore, I skip it, which requires several pushes of the "skip" button to flip past the whole story), but is a pretty significant aside made to emphasize a serious point about military Chain-of-Command. The fact that it IS such an outrageous story makes you take note of it. It demonstrably sticks in Johnny Rico's head.


BUT


It's like with accounts of miracles -- extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If Heinlein was going to tell such an outrageous story, he should've checked it. Certainly he checked on the probability of Robert Ripley's "Marching Chinese" story that he told in Tunnel in the Sky, and he writes of checking his orbital calculations for Space Cadet. You'd think he'd devote the same care to non-mathematical thing, as well.


This is of far more moment and occupies a bigger chunk of the book than those cases. He really ought to have checked. As I say, it's the things you THINK you know really well that you don't check. He was just too sure of his memory of an extraordinary event in this case.
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:45 AM
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Heck, Heinlein also repeated some hoary old urban legends as fact, too, like the 200 MPG carburetor. Being good at fact-checking only helps you when you realize there's something to check. He knew that he needed to do the orbital mechanics calculations for The Rolling Stones, so he did. But he already knew all about the carburetor, so he didn't need to double-check that one.

By comparison, missing one detail in an otherwise-accurate story is small potatoes.
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:48 AM
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Heck, Heinlein also repeated some hoary old urban legends as fact, too, like the 200 MPG carburetor. Being good at fact-checking only helps you when you realize there's something to check. He knew that he needed to do the orbital mechanics calculations for The Rolling Stones, so he did. But he already knew all about the carburetor, so he didn't need to double-check that one.

By comparison, missing one detail in an otherwise-accurate story is small potatoes.
As I say, though, a pretty important detail that takes up a big chunk of space in the story. A pretty major point, not some throwaway item.
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:15 AM
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Eh, it was only a short story rather than a novel, but the 200 MPG carburetor was pretty significant in "Let There be Light", probably more significant than the Cox story was in Starship Troopers.
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:16 AM
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As I say, though, a pretty important detail that takes up a big chunk of space in the story. A pretty major point, not some throwaway item.
I wouldn't say it's an important detail. Whether or not the Sergeant's story was true had no impact on the narrative; in fact, Heinlein could have been making the whole Cox thing up and it wouldn't have made a bit of a difference.

Besides, NCOs are notorious bullshitters. Maybe the character knew the truth, but preferred to tell his version of the story.

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  #65  
Old 05-16-2019, 08:26 AM
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I wouldn't say it's an important detail. Whether or not the Sergeant's story was true had no impact on the narrative; in fact, Heinlein could have been making the whole Cox thing up and it wouldn't have made a bit of a difference.

Besides, NCOs are notorious bullshitters. Maybe the character knew the truth, but preferred to tell his version of the story.
It wasn't an NCO that told the story. It was his OCS commander, who's not supposed to be a "notorious bullshitter," especially when he's giving you a pep talk prior to your first mission as a proto-officer. In fact, this is precisely the point at which you want your facts to be straight. If they aren't, why should your charges ever trust anything you tell them again?
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:26 AM
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I wouldn't say it's an important detail. Whether or not the Sergeant's story was true had no impact on the narrative; in fact, Heinlein could have been making the whole Cox thing up and it wouldn't have made a bit of a difference...
This. The truthfulness of the story is nearly irrelevant to the novel. Honestly, when I read the book, I just assumed he'd made that up, but didn't care.
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:30 AM
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This. The truthfulness of the story is nearly irrelevant to the novel. Honestly, when I read the book, I just assumed he'd made that up, but didn't care.
He could, indeed, have made it up. It makes the point.

The fact that he didn't make it up, but distorted an actual event , though, bugs me. Heinlein usually gets his historical facts straight.
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:40 AM
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It's obvious that Cox's name being cleared is the butterfly effect event where the Starship Troopers universe diverged from ours. Cox remaining disgraced led directly to the war between the Russo-Anglo-American Alliance and the Chinese Hegemony of 1987. So we really all have Harry S Truman to thank that we're not on that particular timeline.

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Old 05-16-2019, 09:49 AM
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But that means that we're going to be woefully unprepared when the Bugs flatten Buenos Aires.
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:59 AM
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But that means that we're going to be woefully unprepared when the Bugs flatten Buenos Aires.
That was a false-flag operation. Everyone knows you can't poop rocks across interstellar distances.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:13 AM
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But that means that we're going to be woefully unprepared when the Bugs flatten Buenos Aires.
I thought we already were? Why else would Johnny's mother have been vacationing there?
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:26 AM
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It's obvious that Cox's name being cleared is the butterfly effect event where the Starship Troopers universe diverged from ours. Cox remaining disgraced led directly to the war between the Russo-Anglo-American Alliance and the Chinese Hegemony of 1987. So we really all have Harry S Truman to thank that we're not on that particular timeline.
I like this.

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That was a false-flag operation. Everyone knows you can't poop rocks across interstellar distances.
Quite right. Not to mention the ludicrous suggestion that a near-encounter with one disabled the Rodger Young's communication mast.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:44 AM
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The easiest answer is that Heinlein didn't know about it. I too grew up before the internet, and I grew up in a small city. I was constantly starved for information, and I lived at the library. But if the library didn't have a book, I was out of luck. Information was hard to come by. I still have stacks of old technical magazines because they were the only source of certain types of information I could get.

Yes, Heinlein was a voracious reader. All the more reason he might have missed a story if it was buried in the back pages of a magazine or newspaper. And he lived in Colorado Springs, so an 'easy check' would have required him going to the library in Denver AND knowing what to look for.
I was going to say the same thing. People nowadays forget how difficult it could be to check on basic facts in the era before Wikipedia.
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Old 05-16-2019, 11:12 AM
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I was going to say the same thing. People nowadays forget how difficult it could be to check on basic facts in the era before Wikipedia.
But they also exaggerate how difficult it was. I researched my first thesis and half my second using citation indices and yearly records of abstracts. I researched non-technical stuff with the Readers Guide to Periodic Literature and the New York Times index and suchlike. My own home town library had the Reader's guide, and the local university had a LOT more.

It was harder than a few keystrokes on your phone, tablet, or Chromebook, but it wasn't absurdly difficult.
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  #75  
Old 05-16-2019, 01:18 PM
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It seems to me the most likely answer is that Heinlein heard the story back in his early cadet days, and it stuck in his head just like it was supposed to stick in Johnny Rico's head. So since he knew the story so well, he didn't need to "check the facts" on it, he knew it by heart. And so he told the story in the book the same way he heard it back when he was a cadet, and didn't bother to research the story.
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:53 PM
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He probably just remembered--off the top of his head--the Old Sea Story that was used to scare the bejesus out of cadets at the Naval Academy back in the 1920s.

But he might also have "fact checked" himself by grabbing something off his own bookshelf; you know, just to make sure he got the names and dates and the other little details right. But of course the book he grabbed was a few years out of date, but gosh, why would that matter? It was an anecdote from history from nearly a 150 years ago, and it might not have even occurred to Heinlein that he really needed to have the most up-to-date (not to mention detailed) book or article he could find. (Again, assuming that he just happened to miss that later development as it happened.)



(Also, some of y'all are clearly posting from the timeline where Starship Troopers was adapted into a Major Motion Picture. That never happened on this timeline! Never!)
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Old 05-16-2019, 02:57 PM
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But then why would the Commandant have mentioned that Cox's family had tried unsuccessfully for a century and a half to get the conviction reversed? Unless Heinlein was aware that there was an effort to clear Cox's name by his great-grandson at the time he was writing the book?
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:17 PM
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...(Also, some of y'all are clearly posting from the timeline where Starship Troopers was adapted into a Major Motion Picture. That never happened on this timeline! Never!)
Of course. What idjit would make a movie of it without powered armor?!?
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:37 PM
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(Also, some of y'all are clearly posting from the timeline where Starship Troopers was adapted into a Major Motion Picture. That never happened on this timeline! Never!)
Never happened in my timeline either. A film using the title but adapted from a completely different story was made though.


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But then why would the Commandant have mentioned that Cox's family had tried unsuccessfully for a century and a half to get the conviction reversed? Unless Heinlein was aware that there was an effort to clear Cox's name by his great-grandson at the time he was writing the book?
Cox's family had been arguing the case since at least 1882 - they got Theodore Roosevelt to remove disparaging remarks about Cox from a book TR wrote in that year https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willia...ves_Cox#Legacy - Heinlein could well be aware of those continuing efforts to clear Cox (and their failure up until the 1950s).
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:29 PM
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Of course, the real problem with the story – as Billdo pointed out -- is the exaggeration of the difference between Cox and the Captain.

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Originally Posted by Starship Troopers
a case in which four levels were wiped out in six minutes—as if a platoon leader were to blink his eyes and find himself commanding a brigade.
A shipboard analogy to a platoon leader commanding a brigade might be a two-days-out of OCS lieutenant in charge of ordering galley supplies suddenly had to command an aircraft carrier.

But that's not what happened on the Chesapeake. Cox was actually one of the three watch officers, in acting command of the ship a third of the time, not ‘four levels’ below the Captain but one of the three people who were all one level below the Captain. So it’s less like a platoon leader commanding a brigade, and more like the brigade’s executive officer, or a battalion commander taking charge. Which is something that the XO or battalion commander should be prepared for, and something that the platoon leader wouldn't be.

As far as the Court-Martial, Cox was certainly a fall-guy scapegoat for the bad-PR from the loss of the ship, no question. But, given that he was second in command at the point he carried the wounded Captain below, it was arguably not the right move.


More here, by the way: https://nielsenhayden.com/makingligh...es/012922.html
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