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Winner: Frank, followed by Carol St. Martin, Tall Paul, and Allie

Frank wins in only his second attempt, and he already knows the secret of the game – it’s the questions that make a winner.

After a long absence, Bud “the Bug Man” returned. He had spent his time away honing his trivia skills and thought he was ready for a big game. Alas, he finished back in the pack. He even missed the question on the Colorado beetle. C’mon Bug Man, you have to do better.

One of the questions we all missed was Harry Houdini’s real name – Erich Weiss.

Good Question!: Sabotage is French. What did the saboteurs use?

Choices: a. swords   b, shoes   c. flour   d. brandy

Answer: shoes

This was quite a surprise. The word “sabotage” appears in the beginning of the early 20th century from the French word “sabotage”. It is sometimes said that some workers used to throw their wooden shoes, called “sabots” (clogs) in the machines to break them, but this is not supported by the etymology. Rather, the French source word literally means to “walk noisily,” and wearing wooden shoes is an example of walking noisily. Originally this was used metaphorically to refer to labor disputes, not damage. At the end of the 19th century it really began to be used with the meaning of “deliberately and maliciously destroying property.”

Value of sabotage in wartime

In World War I

On 30 July 1916, the Black Tom explosion occurred when German agents set fire to a complex of warehouses and ships in Jersey City, New Jersey that held munitions, fuel, and explosives bound to aid the Allies in their fight.

Fragments from the explosion traveled long distances, some lodging in the Statue of Liberty. The explosion was the equivalent of an earthquake measuring between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter scale and was felt as far away as Philadelphia. Windows were broken as far as 25 miles away, including thousands in lower Manhattan and some windows in Times Square were shattered. Property damage from the attack was estimated at $454,000,000 (in 2017 dollars.) Who knew!

In World War II

The French Resistance ran an extremely effective sabotage campaign against the Germans during World War II. Many sabotage attempts were against critical rail lines of transportation. German records count 1,429 instances of sabotage from French Resistance forces between January 1942 and February 1943. From January through March 1944, sabotage accounted for three times the number of locomotives damaged by Allied air power.

In December 1944, the Germans ran a false flag sabotage infiltration, Operation Greif, which was commanded by Waffen-SS commando Otto Skorzeny during the Battle of the Bulge. German commandos, wearing US Army uniforms, carrying US Army weapons, and using US Army vehicles, penetrated US lines to spread panic and confusion among US troops and to blow up bridges, ammunition dumps, and fuel stores and to disrupt the lines of communication. Many of the commandos were captured by the Americans. Because they were wearing US uniforms, a number of the Germans were executed as spies, either summarily or after military commissions.

My fave WWII sabotage operation – “The Guns of Navarone” – A specialized commando team organized in1943 to sabotage and put out of commission the Axis firepower on the mountainous Greek island of Navarone in the Aegean Sea.

Modern Era

A modern form of sabotage is the distribution of software intended to damage specific industrial systems. For example, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is alleged to have sabotaged a Siberian pipeline during the Cold War, using information from the Farewell Dossier. A more recent case may be the Stuxnet computer worm, which was designed to subtly infect and damage specific types of industrial equipment. Based on the equipment targeted and the location of infected machines, security experts believe it was an attack on the Iranian nuclear program by the United States and Israel.

 

 

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