On Being Able To Forge My Father’s Signature

A few years after my father passed away, I began to be able to forge his signature. One day, on a lark, I picked up a pen and tried to sign his name; much to my surprise, a reasonable facsimile stood forth. I stared at it for a few seconds, and then tried again. TheContinue reading “On Being Able To Forge My Father’s Signature”

Of Pilots’ Comrades And Young Imaginations

On Father’s Day, like last year, I posted a photograph of my father on Facebook. This one shows him as a young pilot, standing in his flying overalls next to a fighter jet; he stands proud and erect, carrying his flying helmet tucked under his arm. Here it is: the man, his steed, the glamourContinue reading “Of Pilots’ Comrades And Young Imaginations”

Military Brats And Shoe Shines

A good shoe shine isn’t easy to pull off. You have to do a preliminary cleaning of the shoe first: a removal of the dust and grime that has accumulated on the shoe’s precious leather exterior, perhaps with a cloth or with a spare brush. Then, you apply the polish itself with another small brushContinue reading “Military Brats And Shoe Shines”

Satadru Sen on Eagles Over Bangladesh

Satadru Sen has written a very thoughtful and engaged review of Eagles over Bangladesh: The Indian Air Force in the 1971 Liberation War. His generally positive review also strikes some critical notes in it, and I’d like to respond to those. These critical points are all largely concerned with how well the book succeeds asContinue reading “Satadru Sen on Eagles Over Bangladesh”

Book Release Announcement: Eagles Over Bangladesh

Some readers of this blog might remember that I write on military aviation history; more specifically, the history of the Indian Air Force¬†(IAF), and especially its role in India’s post-independence wars. Thus, I’m pleased to announce the release of my second book on this subject: Eagles Over Bangladesh: The Indian Air Force in the 1971Continue reading “Book Release Announcement: Eagles Over Bangladesh”

Shrapnel is Still Deadly, No Matter Where It Strikes

Many years ago, while talking to my father and some of his air force mates, I stumbled into a conversation about munitions. ¬†There was talk of rockets, shells, casings, high-explosive rounds, tracer bullets, napalm, and all of the rest. Realizing I was in the right company, I asked if someone could tell me what ‘shrapnel’Continue reading “Shrapnel is Still Deadly, No Matter Where It Strikes”

My Father’s Aviator Sunglasses

As a young boy I loved and admired many things about my father. Foremost among them was the fact that he was an Air Force pilot, a decorated one, one who had fought in two wars, capable of feats of valor and skill that boggled my juvenile mind. He seemed impossibly charismatic. How could heContinue reading “My Father’s Aviator Sunglasses”

Workplace Coercion, the Military, and Resisting Superiors

Corey Robin’s post on Arizona’s new anti-birth control legislation centers on a recurring concern of his: coercion in the private sector work-place, which remains largely impervious to constitutional circumscriptions of state power. I want to use this opportunity to talk about coercion in a very particular workplace: the military. The coercion of subordinates by superiorsContinue reading “Workplace Coercion, the Military, and Resisting Superiors”

Traffic “Interceptors” and the Militarization of Police

Yesterday, as I strolled down my neighborhood’s main street, I noticed two rather portly New York City police checking parked cars for traffic violations. I deliberately use the word “portly” to describe their appearance because I never cease to be amazed by how patently unfit for their duties our local guardians of law and orderContinue reading “Traffic “Interceptors” and the Militarization of Police”