World War II Advice: Defeat The Enemy By Being A Terrible Employee

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iStock

At the height of World War II, with the Allied powers battling the encroaching Axis powers on multiple fronts, any little bit of assistance helped. Though citizens in the United States, Britain, France, and other similarly minded nations could freely dedicate their efforts to defeating Germany, Italy, and Japan, residents of those rival countries sympathetic to the Allied cause had little recourse to openly offer any help. To tap into those suppressed networks of support, the Office of Strategies Services (precursor to the modern CIA) published a “Simple Sabotage Field Manual,” distributed by pamphlet and targeted international broadcast.

The instructions direct ordinary citizens to obstruct the functioning of their local governments and economies with a series of outwardly normal, but secretly disruptive actions. According to the manual’s introduction [PDF], “sabotage varies from highly technical coup de main acts that require detailed planning and the use of specially trained operatives, to innumerable simple acts which the ordinary individual citizen-saboteur can perform.” Luckily for that ordinary citizen, “simple sabotage does not require specially prepared tools or equipment […] and it is carried out in such a way as to involve a minimum danger of injury, detection, and reprisal.” 

The suggested acts range from openly seditious (start fires, slash military vehicle tires) to brilliantly subtle, the latter variety of which read hilariously like a guide for how to be terrible at your job:

For train conductors: “Make mistakes in issuing train tickets, leaving portions of the journey uncovered by the ticket book; issue two tickets for the same seat in the train, so that an interesting argument will result.” “Make life as uncomfortable as possible for passengers. See that the food is especially bad, take up tickets after midnight, call station stops very loudly during the night, handle baggage as loudly as possible.” “Switch address labels on enemy baggage.”

FOR FARMERS

“Feed crops to livestock.” “Spoil fruits and vegetables by leaving them in the sun.”

FOR MAINTENANCE WORKERS

“Be inefficient in cleaning.” “Jam paper, bits of wood, hairpins, and anything else that will fit, into the locks of all unguarded entrances to public buildings.” “Forget to provide paper in toilets.”

FOR RIVERBOAT CAPTAINS

“Spread false rumors about the navigability and conditions of the waterways they travel. Tell other barge and boat captains to follow channels that will take extra time, or cause them to make canal detours.”

FOR MOVIE THEATER PROJECTIONISTS

“Ruin newsreels and other enemy propaganda films by bad focusing, speeding up or slowing down the film and by causing frequent breakage in the film.”

FOR RADIO ENGINEERS

“Overmodulate transmissions of talks by persons giving enemy propaganda or instructions, so that they will sound as if they were talking 'through a heavy cotton blanket with a mouth full of marbles.”

FOR TELEPHONE SWITCHBOARD OPERATORS

”Delay putting enemy calls through, give them wrong numbers, cut them off ‘accidentally,’ or forget to disconnect them so that the line cannot be used again.” “Tell important callers the boss is busy.”

FOR BUS DRIVERS

“Go past the stop where the enemy wants to get off.”

FOR TAXI DRIVERS

“Waste the enemy’s time and make extra money by driving the longest possible route to his destination.”

FOR COAL MINERS

“A slight blow against your Davy oil lamp will extinguish it, and to light it again you will have to find a place where there is no fire damp. Take a long time looking for the place.” “Send up quantities of rock and other useless material with the coal.”

FOR OFFICE WORKERS

“Misfile essential documents.” “Multiply paper work in plausible ways. Start duplicate files.” “Make mistakes in quantities of material when you are copying orders. Confuse similar names. Use wrong addresses.” “Even it you understand the language, pretend not to understand instructions in a foreign tongue.” “Spread disturbing rumors that sound like inside dope.”

FOR ADMINISTRATORS

“Insist on doing everything through ‘channels.’ Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.” “Make ‘speeches.’ Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your points by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate ‘patriotic’ comments.” “When possible, refer all matters to committees, for ‘further study and consideration.’ Attempt to make the committees as large as possible - never less than five.” “Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.” “Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.”

And for ordinary folks with no opportunity to engage in any of these other acts of simple sabotage, the OSS has a number of suggestions for actions anyone can take, from prank calls to general rudeness: “Hamper official and especially military business by making at least one telephone call a day to an enemy headquarters; when you get them, tell them you have the wrong number. Call military or police offices and make anonymous false reports of fires, air raids, bombs.” “Audiences can ruin enemy propaganda films by applauding to drown the words of the speaker, by coughing loudly, and by talking.” “Report imaginary spies or danger to the Gestapo or police.” “When the enemy asks for directions, give him wrong information.” “Act stupid.”

Under “Possible Effects,” the manual declares that “occurring on a wide scale, simple sabotage will be a constant and tangible drag on the war effort of the enemy.” While there’s no measurable data on how many people were inspired by the distributed pamphlets to subvert the Axis powers from within, that might even be considered a sign of their success; after all, no one was ever outed as an enemy sympathizer simply for being very bad at their job. However, decades later, the war long over, some of these actions still seem suspiciously prevalent in particularly inefficient workplaces everywhere. If anything here seems too familiar, keep an eye out for possible subversives among you—or maybe just nudge your coworkers to pick up the slack.

[h/t Business Insider]

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

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Good Gnews: Remembering The Great Space Coaster

Tubby Baxter and Gary Gnu in The Great Space Coaster.
Tubby Baxter and Gary Gnu in The Great Space Coaster.
YouTube

Tubby Baxter. Gary Gnu. Goriddle Gorilla. Speed Reader. For people of a certain age, these names probably tug on distant memories of a television series that blended live-action, puppetry, and animation. It was The Great Space Coaster, and it aired daily in syndication from 1981 to 1986. Earning both a Daytime Emmy and a Peabody Award for excellence in children’s programming, The Great Space Coaster fell somewhere in between Sesame Street and The Muppet Show—a series for kids who wanted a little more edge to their puppet performances.

Unlike most classic kid’s shows, fans have had a hard time locating footage of The Great Space Coaster. Even after five seasons and 250 episodes, no collections are available on home video. So what happened?

Get On Board

The Great Space Coaster was created by Kermit Love, who worked closely with Jim Henson on Sesame Street and created Big Bird, and Jim Martin, a master puppeteer who also collaborated with Henson. Produced by Sunbow Productions and sponsored by the Kellogg Company and toy manufacturer Hasbro, The Great Space Coaster took the same approach as Sesame Street of being educational entertainment. In fact, many of the puppeteers and writers were veterans of Sesame Street or The Muppet Show. Producers met with educators to determine subjects and content that could result in a positive cognitive or personal development goal for the audience, which was intended to be children from ages 6 to 11. There would be music, comedy, and cartoons, but all of it would be working toward a lesson on everything from claustrophobia to the hazards of being a litterbug.

The premise involved three teens—Danny (Chris Gifford), Roy (Ray Stephens), and Francine (Emily Bindiger)—who hitch a ride on a space vehicle piloted by a clown named Tubby Baxter. The crew would head for an asteroid populated by a variety of characters like Goriddle Gorilla (Kevin Clash). Roy carried a monitor that played La Linea, an animated segment from Italian creator Osvaldo Cavandoli that featured a figure at odds with his animator. The kids—all of whom looked a fair bit older than their purported teens—also sang in segments with original or cover songs.

The most memorable segment might have been the newscast with Gary Gnu, a stuffy puppet broadcaster who delivered the day’s top stories with his catchphrase: “No gnews is good gnews!” Aside from Gnu, there was Speed Reader (Ken Myles), a super-fast sprinter and reader who reviewed the books he breezed through. Often, the show would also have guest stars, including Mark Hamill, boxer “Sugar” Ray Leonard, and Henry Winkler.

All of it had a slightly irreverent tone, with humor that was more biting than most other kid’s programming of the era. The circus that Tubby Baxter ran away from was run by a character named M.T. Promises. Gnu had subversive takes on his news stories. Other characters weren’t always as well-intentioned as the residents of Sesame Street.

Off We Go

The Great Space Coaster was popular among viewers and critics. In 1982, it won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children’s Programming—Graphic Design and a Peabody Award in 1983. But after the show ceased production in 1986, it failed to have a second life in reruns or on video. Only one VHS tape, The Great Space Coaster Supershow, was ever released in the 1980s. And while fan sites like TheGreatSpaceCoaster.TV surfaced, it was difficult to compile a complete library of the series.

In 2012, Tanslin Media, which had acquired the rights to the show, explained why. Owing to the musical interludes, re-licensing songs would be prohibitively expensive—potentially far more than the company would make selling the program. Worse, the original episodes, which were recorded on 1-inch or 2-inch reel tapes, were in the process of degrading.

That same year, Jim Martin mounted an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to try and raise funds to begin salvaging episodes and digitizing them for preservation. That work has continued over the years, with Tanslin releasing episodes and clips online that don’t require expensive licensing agreements and fans uploading episodes from their original VHS recordings to YouTube.

There’s been no further word on digitizing efforts for the complete series, though Tanslin has reported that a future home video release isn’t out of the question. If that materializes, it’s likely Gary Gnu will be first to deliver the news.