The military, innovation and language

Regular citizens have the military to thank for many innovations that we use daily. If it wasn’t for military innovation we wouldn’t have cellphones or the Internet.

During the Second World War the US Army re-organized its petroleum supply structure. They simplified their demand by converting to a single all-purpose motor fuel and single all-purpose diesel fuel. A design problem was discovered in the 10 gallon can that soldiers used to carry fuel: it was too heavy and too unwieldy. The Americans designed a new 5 gallon can based on captured German cans. The troops paid homage to the origin of the design by calling it the “blitz can” or more commonly the “jerrycan.”

I checked the ACLU website to see if there was any movement to change the term to something more politically correct (“liquified hydrocarbon receptacle of Teutonic descent”?), but they haven’t gotten around to that cause yet.

About Younghusband

Sir Francis Edward Younghusband (1863-1942) was a British explorer, army officer, military-political officer, and foreign correspondent born in India who led expeditions into Manchuria, Kashgar, and Tibet. He three times tried and failed to scale Mt. Everest and journeyed from China to India, crossing the Gobi desert and the Mustagh Pass (alt. c.19,000 ft/5,791 m) of the Karakoram mountain range in modern day Pakistan. Convinced of Russian designs on British interests in India, Younghusband proactively engaged in the nineteenth century spying and conflict over Central Asia between the British and the Russians known as the Great Game. "Younghusband" is a Canadian who has spent a number of years bouncing back and forth between his home country and Japan. Fluent in Japanese and English with experience in numerous other languages from Spanish to Georgian, Younghusband has travelled throughout Asia. He graduated with an MA from the War Studies Department at the Royal Military College of Canada, where he focussed on the Japanese oil industry and energy security issues. He has recently returned to Canada from Japan, and is working in the technology sector.
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