Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Your Head Is Where Your Stern Is

During World War I, when it was first proposed that British ships should not be inconspicuous in appearance but should instead be covered in bold, abstract, geometric shapes—called "dazzle painting" or dazzle camouflage—some naval officers objected. In one case (as quoted, without attribution, in Nicholas Rankin, A Genius for Deception (Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 131), a camouflage officer replied as follows—

The object of camouflage is not, as you suggest, to turn your ship into an imitation of a West African parrot, a rainbow in a naval pantomime, or a gay woman. The object of camouflage is rather to give the impression that your head is where your stern is.