Neologism: to go “Full-Halsey”

From an actual email thread with my brother yesterday:

I think Tyra Banks might secretly be the worst human being who ever lived.

Sneaky-pure-evil. [Matt’s wife] will tell you that I have an immediate and involuntarily visceral response to her voice. She opens her mouth, and I am no longer “electric brain.” I go full-Halsey.


So what does it mean to be “Electric brain,” and what does it mean to go full-Halsey? Let’s start with the latter, since I believe it will enter my vocabulary.

From 3,000 mi (2,600 nmi; 4,800 km) away in Pearl Harbor, Admiral Nimitz had been monitoring the desperate calls from Taffy 3, and sent Halsey a terse message: “TURKEY TROTS TO WATER GG FROM CINCPAC ACTION COM THIRD FLEET INFO COMINCH CTF SEVENTY-SEVEN X WHERE IS RPT WHERE IS TASK FORCE THIRTY FOUR RR THE WORLD WONDERS.” The first four words and the last three were “padding” used to confuse enemy cryptanalysis (the beginning and end of the true message was marked by double consonants). The communications staff on Halsey’s flagship correctly deleted the first section of padding but mistakenly retained the last three words in the message finally handed to Halsey. The last three words—probably selected by a communications officer at Nimitz’s headquarters—may have been meant as a loose quote from Tennyson’s poem on “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, suggested by the coincidence that this day, 25 October, was the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Balaclava—and was not intended as a commentary on the current crisis off Leyte. Halsey, however, when reading the message, thought that the last words—”THE WORLD WONDERS”—were a biting piece of criticism from Nimitz, threw his cap to the deck and broke into “sobs of rage”. Rear Admiral Robert Carney, his Chief of Staff, confronted him, telling Halsey “Stop it! What the hell’s the matter with you? Pull yourself together.”

This quotation prompted my brother to ask if Halsey had “syndromes,” because throwing your hat and sobbing in rage isn’t behavior he envisions in an Admiral. I pointed out that Halsey was at one point was viewed extremely favorably (being named to the unusual 5-star rank of Fleet Admiral after the war), but his star has been in decline among military historians lately, and opinions of his counterpart in the Fifth Fleet, Raymond Spruance, are on the rise. It was said of Spruance that:

Spruance was nicknamed “electric brain” for his calmness even in moments of supreme crisis…

Making him Halsey’s antithesis. But to me “electric brain” sounds derogatory, as if was manly and proper to have a rage stroke on the flag deck of a battleship if someone questioned your tactics.

Maybe things have changed since the 40’s.

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