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Posted By: Dave Gaddy on: 12/30/2011 11:41:13 EDT
Subject: Subject

Message Detail:
I thought it would be appropriate to end the year with a cautionary note and a reminder. But, as I checked the Search function here, I found it had been well done in an exchange Walt, Ken, and Ryan had back in March 2002, in which Walt had an informative piece on "The Art of Aerial Telegraphy," responding to Ken, and with a follow-on by Ryan. (I had also had an exchange with Doug under the topic of "color" -- you can find these by searching for keyword "wigwag.")

The point was -- avoid the term "wigwag" (or wig wag or wig-wag) in any living history or contemporary context, and gently lead any questioner away from the use of that term ... which was probably insulting to the first generation. (The Confederate equivalent was "flag-flopper.") As the fellow says in the novel, "The Virginian," "when you say that, smile."

The related thought was that emphasis on the two-element code as a simple explanation has probably resulted in a debasement of the visual beauty of the original signalling using the four-element code, with its grace and obvious beauty, by having "any rank amateur" figure he/she could execute the left-right moves in a mechanical style (more reminiscent of the machines used for visual telegraphy in Europe). Walt's well written description amply demonstrates that even the two-element requires careful execution ... and as Ryan adds, long, well supervised practice until prefected.

Let's make these points the basis of a New Year's resolution, to emulate the practices of the men we study and "bring back to life," honoring their pioneering efforts by fidelity to the true picture as we understand it, politely correcting those who "take the easy way out" and showing how rapid and truly beautiful was the Myer-Alexander concept of battlefield telecommunication ... the first "wireless" and fore-runner of the electronic era.

Happy New Year to all. And much appreciation to our Webmeister. Long may he wave!


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