tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:/posts The Para-Rigger 2024-06-14T18:49:19Z tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2116367 2024-06-14T11:41:08Z 2024-06-14T18:49:19Z The Borscht Belt

Today's selection -- from City Game by Matthew Goodman. In the 20th century, resorts in New York's Catskill Mountains became the destination of choice for New York City’s Jewish community:

“The Borscht Belt, it was called, a stretch of hotels that ran through the southwestern part of New York’s Catskill Mountains, a couple of hours up Route 17 from the city by ramshackle bus or overflowing family sedan. The Catskills had been discovered as a vacation spot around the turn of the century, when in the summertime Jewish immigrants fled the heat and noise of the city to experience the simple pleasures of country food and an after-dinner walk under the stars; as time went on, a steady stream of Jews from the Lower East Side began making the trek upstate, word having gotten around about the wonders of the mountains – the beautiful scenery, the healthful air, the deliciousness of butter and eggs from cows and chickens you could actually see. Soon farmhouses were converted into boardinghouses, and boardinghouses multiplied into bungalow colonies, and then came the hotels, sprouting like toadstools around the lakes and under the pines. 

“By the 1940s a Catskills vacationer had hundreds of places from which to choose, hotels for every budget and sensibility, from rustic homesteads to the most opulent modern palaces with tennis courts and golf courses; there were vegetarian health resorts and dude ranches and leftist retreats where the evening’s entertainment might be a Pete Seeger or Woody Guthrie concert, or the restaging of a Clifford Odets play, or a musical Pageant with a title like Peace in a World of Equality. Some hotels catered to families, while others were understood to be destinations for single people, or married people who arrived without their spouses, and there the evening dances took on a different quality, and couples made abundant use of parked cars and distant linen rooms, and the rules about employees fraternizing with guests were less strictly enforced. One of the hotels, the Sha-Wan-Ga Lodge, was widely known as ‘Schwenga Lodge,” from the Yiddish word for pregnant. The comedian Joey Adams had a joke: ‘Every year thousands of girls come up to the Catskills looking for husbands -- and thousands of husbands come up looking for girls.’

Concord Hotel, Kiamesha Lake, dining room, 1978

“The life of the hotel was carried on to the soundtrack of the public address loudspeaker, summoning bellhops for new arrivals, reporting lost children and phone calls waiting in the lobby, announcing upcoming activities: volleyball games, art classes, riding lessons, cha-cha lessons by the pool. (The Hotel Brickman offered lessons in so many activities that the owner, Murray Posner, once quipped, ‘You should get a diploma, not a receipt, when you leave my hotel.’) Almost all of the hotels provided three gargantuan meals a day, which in the larger hotels became four meals, including a self-service ‘midnight supper.’ Night there was dancing -- many hotels had two house orchestras. One that played American big band standards and the other specializing in the latest crazes of mambo and rumba -- and on the weekends the fancier hotels also offered nightclub routines by stars like Martin and Lewis and Sophie Tucker and Danny Kay and comedians like Milton Berle and Myron Cohen and Henny Youngman.) 'A drunk was brought into court. The judge says, “My good man, you’ve been brought here for drinking." He says, "All right, judge, let’s get started."’) In some of the hotels it was common practice for the comedian to tell the joke in English but reserve the punch line for Yiddish, for that extra ethnic zing, that zetz: ‘Mr. Goldman,’ the policeman asks the old man lying in the street who’s just been run over by a truck, ‘are you comfortable?’ The old man raises his head and replies, ‘Nu me makht a lebn.' (‘Well, I make a living.’)

“Like the jokes, the members of the audience seemed to exist in two cultures at once. They weren’t immigrants anymore but they weren’t precisely American either, though some of the older ones had in their youth changed their names to more American versions, lopping off extra syllables like sidelocks, with one swift stroke converting Old World to New. Many of them still spoke with accents and belonged to mutual aid societies that derived from towns in the ancestral homeland, and even their children, making their way into the wider society, understood the reality of educational quotas and professional restrictions, recognized that while the most talented among them might someday become a Supreme Court justice like Louis Brandeis, none could hope to be president, or even gain admission to many of New York’s elite private club. For a few weeks out of the summer, though, they could forget about their cares and do morning calisthenics and games of Simon Says, or just sit in the sun and do nothing at all, and three times a day, or four, they could eat to their heart’s content, and order more than they needed, and send back plates with scraps of food still on them, and in doing so thumb their noses, at last, at generations of scarcity.”

The City Game: Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team
author: Matthew Goodman
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2116022 2024-06-12T19:11:39Z 2024-06-12T19:11:40Z Chernobyl's Elephant's Foot - Four Million Chest X Rays/Hour

Chernobyl Elephant Foot
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2115389 2024-06-10T13:57:49Z 2024-06-10T14:53:05Z Lest We Forget...The USS Liberty

tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2114571 2024-06-06T12:41:40Z 2024-06-06T15:50:29Z Ham and Jam - The First Battle Of D Day

tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2114318 2024-06-05T07:53:18Z 2024-06-05T07:53:19Z Captain Cook and Kealakekua Bay
kealakekua bay, sunset

Today's excerpt --from The Wide Wide Sea by Hampton Sides. The stunning Kealakekua Bay, found on the big island of Hawai’i, and the very place where explorer Captain James Cook was greeted—and later killed:

“A sparkling bay, sheltered from the wind. A volcanic cliff, hundreds of feet high, rising over the shores, its layered rock pitted with dreads of feet high, rising over the shores, its layered rock pitted with secret caves. The water a crystalline blue-green, so clear one could see far into its depths. Moray eels and parrotfish slipping through the coral crevices. Spinner dolphins at play on the swells. 

“The place was called Kealakekua– the Pathway of the Gods. Approaching it from the ocean, the bay, with its massive stone walls, had the feel of a grand arena and amphitheater. It was a place of deep mama. Mark Twain, who visited Kealakekua a little over a century later, would describe it as ‘a little curve like the last kink of a snail – shell, winding deep into the land.’ Over the millennia, rivers of molten lava had glopped down the flanks of the Mauna Loa volcano, depositing tongue upon tongue of sloping dark rock at the water’s edge. One day approximately 120,000 years ago, a massive expanse of the Big Island collapsed into the sea here, leaving this considerable notch in the coastline unleashing a tsunami that barreled across the channel, sweeping shards of coral more than a thousand feet up into the high country on the island of Lāna’i, which lies 120 miles away. 

“Kealakekua had long been the place of royal authority on Hawai’i, the residence of the god-kings. The pockmarked cliff face here was a mausoleum where many generations of the island’s leaders had been entombed. When an important dignitary died, priests would conduct ceremonies to bake the body and remove the flesh from the bones; a commoner would be sent down the cliff by ropes to hide baskets filled with the late chief’s skeletal remains, along with relics, deep within one of the many alcoves. After he had safely stashed the bones in a promising place, the commoner would crane his neck and flash a sign to the priests waiting above, who would sever the taut ropes, dropping the poor burial servant to his immediate death upon the stones below. In this way, the bones were protected from looting or desecration. 

“If Kealakekua was the seat of royal power, it was also a nerve center from Hawaiin religion and cosmology. It was the home of Lono, the god of peace, rain, and fertility. A temple – a heiau – had been built on the shores of the bay to honor this important deity and to offer him tributes, including human sacrifices. 

Kaʻawaloa in 1779 by John Webber, artist aboard Cook's ship

“On January 17, 1779, the Resolution and the Discovery entered this beautiful harbor on the Kona Coast of Hawai’i. A strange and magical serendipity had guided Cook to stop here at this ancient, powerful, and ominous spot. It seemed the people here were already prepared to receive. Cook and his men – that, in fact, they had been waiting in anticipation of his arrival. Vast crowds had assembled on the shore and in the water– as many as ten thousand people. With more than a thousand canoes gathered around. ‘I have nowhere in this sea seen such a number of people assembled at one place,’ Cook wrote, noting that the shore ‘was covered with people and hundreds were swimming around the ships like shoals of fish.’

“What was more, the Hawaiians appeared almost deliriously happy. On land, in the water, and in the canoes, faces shone with a peculiar joy. People were singing, laughing, chanting, and beating drums, creating a din that reverberated off the lava cliffs. The energy was frenetic, ecstatic, Dionysian. Cook could tell that something special and peculiar was going on here, a revel of some kind. But he couldn’t imagine what it was about.

“So many Hawaiians tried to climb aboard the Discovery that it started to heel over from the weight and seemed in danger of capsizing. The islanders wanted the same things they had always wanted, at nearly all of Cook’s stops throughout Polynesia: trade, diversion, spectacle, cultural contact, and, most of all, iron. But it felt as though everything had been ratcheted to a manic level, as though the familiar themes of the voyage had here become strangely amplified.

“John Ledyard, the Connecticut American, tried to capture the wild scene: ‘The shouts of joy and admiration proceeding from the sonorous voices of the men confused with the shriller exclamations of the women dancing and clapping their hands, the cries of children , and hogs that were…squalling,’ he wrote, all mingled to form ‘one of the most tumultuous and most curious prospects that can be imagined.’

“Just like the Native Kuaians of the previous year, the Hawaiians were astounded by the visitors and tried to understand them in terms of the world they knew. According to oral history, when they saw the sailors smoking, they compared them to volcanoes, and were baffled by the vapor that seethed from their mouths. They thought the Englishmen;s speech sounded like the song of the ‘ō‘ō, a beautiful bird native to the island that is now thought to be extinct.

“A special canoe, ornamented and imposing, threaded through the many hundreds of vessels clogging the bay. The canoe carried a kāhuna whose name was Koa. The holy man was very old, shriveled, and shaky, with peeling skin, probably from too much consumption of kava, but the Hawaiians seemed to fear and respect him. Koa boarded the Resolution and introduced himself to Cook with much ceremony, presenting a welcoming gift that included a small pig, some coconuts, and a swath of delicate red cloth, which Koa carefully wrapped around Cook’s shoulders like a cape. Cook’s men noted a quality of reverence that made them uncomfortable. Something in Koa’s demeanor, in his voice and movements, went far beyond hospitality or the mere paying of respect. His chants were more like litanies; the encounter seemed to be invested with deep religious ceremony. 

“Koa invited Cook to come ashore, and the captain accepted. While he got ready, the frenzied songs and shouts of the crowds surrounding the Resolution and the Discovery continued to swell. It was bedlam now. THere was an urgency behind their desires and expectations that seemed to have been building for a long time. If this was true of the Hawaiians, it was also true of Cook’s men, who had endured quite a hard journey to get here from the Arctic and had been waiting for this moment for what had seemed to them like an eternity. 

“Lieutenant James King thought the Hawaiians ‘expressed the greeted joy and satisfaction, by singing and jumping, of our coming to anchor,” but added, “nor was the pleasure less on our side, [for] we were jaded and very heartily tired.’”

Author:  Hampton Sides 
Title: The Wide Wide Sea: Imperial Ambition, First Contact and the Fateful Final Voyage of Captain James Cook
Publisher: Doubleday
Date: Copyright 2024
page(s): 289-292
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2113928 2024-06-03T10:03:45Z 2024-06-05T01:23:02Z The Louisiana Purchase

Today's selection -- from History of the American Frontier by Frederic L. Paxson. Jefferson's possible motivations behind the Lewis and Clark expedition.  

“With the ratification of the Louisiana Purchase the frontier had little special concern. It wanted the territory and felt none of the constitutional qualms that had distressed Jefferson. The Federalists of New England were tin-own into the opposition and the minority, and now experienced fears of executive usurpation and constitutional violation that they would have scoffed at when in office. They fought in vain the ratification of the treaty, and the appropriation of the funds to pay for Louisiana. Over their objections the transaction was consummated, and Congress passed as well the necessary laws to authorize an American government at New Orleans in place of that of Spain and France. 

“The actual transfer of Louisiana from Spain to France had not taken place, and France never took the trouble to set up a colonial establishment. Late in the fall of 1803, France took a formal possession of Louisiana at New Orleans, and delivered it at once, December 20, 1803, to the agents of the United States, James Wilkinson and William C. C. Claiborne. The upper portion of the province was transferred in the spring of 1804 to Meriwether Lewis, whose presence at St. Louis was in connection with a scheme of Jefferson's for the investigation of Louisiana. 

“Within a few days of the nomination of James Monroe as minister to France, Jefferson sent a secret message to Congress asking authority for a venture whose meaning and propriety were then and still remain uncertain. He asked for an appropriation to pay the cost of a reconnaissance of the Missouri Valley. Since this was French territory and he had no idea of its purchase as yet, the enterprise looks like an encroachment upon the rights of a country with which the United States was at peace. He planned to make the investigation with a detachment of the United States army, under military discipline. If his motive was not science alone, but possible preparation for a war of seizure, there was a special reason for his desire to keep the matter secret. Before the money was ready and the men were found, the consummation of the purchase removed all question of the reasonableness of the exploration; but it cannot yet be stated with certainty the part which it played in American policy at the moment of its proposal. 

‘It is quite possible that Jefferson's motive may have been entirely scientific. His was an active mind and he found time to explore the whole field of scientific attainment as well as the intricacies of politics. His friends found him alert to new ideas, and those who had business with him more than once complained that they could not detach him from his speculations — or hold him to the exclusive consideration of one of these. In his work with the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, he found exercise for this side of his activities. As early as the Revolution he recorded a hope that it might be possible to send an expedition up the Mississippi and the Missouri and lift their topography and resources from the limbo of conjecture to a state of fact. As President, he could control resources that made this possible. Congress found the money in 1803; Jefferson found a leader for the party in a young friend, Meriwether Lewis; and Lewis selected as his second in command the brother of the conqueror of the Illinois country, William Clark. 

Route of expedition with modern borders

“The expedition of Lewis and Clark was organized in the summer of 1803, under instructions from the President dated June 20. It was to ascend the Missouri to its source, cross the continental divide, and descend the Columbia River to its mouth. It was to search for a route across the continent, and while doing this was to observe and record the lay of the land, the races of Indians that resided there, and the animal and vegetable resources. Trappers had long hunted over much of the region in question, and the Jesuit fathers had carried the influence of France to many of the tribes, but there was no description of Louisiana that could be relied upon for accurate information. Every member of the party was ordered to keep a record of the trip, was provided with notebooks and a waterproof cover for his papers, and was directed to keep his journal by him at all times. If there had been as much care taken to procure men trained to know the meaning of what they saw as there was to procure a record and keep it safe, the expedition might have added much to the store of facts. But the men enrolled were sturdy products of the frontier, whose literary habits were untrained. They were able to live in the remote wilderness, but none of them was a scientist in thought or disposition. There was not even a professional physician among them, and no formal preparation was made for dealing with the miscellaneous Indian tribes who might block their way. The party was heavily armed and stocked with trading goods; but when Lewis wanted to converse with the Indians, he was forced to rely upon his mulatto body servant, who by chance spoke French. This servant translated the message to Charbonneau, one of the French guides, who could render it into the dialect he used in talking to his Indian wife, Sacajawea. She in turn translated it again into whatever tongue was necessary as the party met tribe after tribe along their way. She was a squaw of western origin who had been handed east among the tribes as a prisoner of war, and had taken on linguistic training as she came. With three translations between himself and the Indian chiefs, Lewis could not hope for intimate or accurate converse. 

“The enlisted men of the expedition were picked up where they could be found, according to their fitness for a prolonged trip. They mobilized at Pittsburgh and followed the river route past the new State of Ohio, and the older Kentucky, until they reached the Illinois shore, opposite St. Louis. Here they stayed for the winter of 1803-1804, because the Spanish officers at St. Louis would not honor their passports and were not instructed to give up the province. In March, Lewis was made the agent to receive the transfer, and on May 14, 1804, he led his band of thirty-two across the Mississippi and up the Missouri. They advanced in three small boats, ten miles or less a day, rowing, poling, towing, and pulling on ropes that they fastened to the shore. Their hunting parties marched with them, along the banks, shooting fresh meat and observing the country. When Lewis went ashore, Clark stayed with the boats. They found the Indians numerous, and generally friendly. Often hungry and always bored with their unlimited diet of meat, the Indians were greedy for sugar, molasses, coffee, and whiskey. They were willing petty thieves, but as yet they had little reason to be hostile to the whites; and the diseases occasioned by contact between the races were not yet serious. 

“After six months of laborious ascent, the expedition reached the village of the Mandan Sioux, where the Northern Pacific Railroad now crosses the Missouri; and here it went into winter quarters for 1804-1805. In the five months spent among the Mandan, the nature of the fur trade was forced upon their attention. The only resource the Indian had with which to enrich his life was fur. The traders who bought his pelts, paid low prices for them in blankets, ammunition, guns, and household tools, and maintained headquarters without regard to nationality. Lewis found English traders on the Upper Missouri, and saw the profits of the traffic passing to the Hudson's Bay Company or its rivals at Montreal. 

“The summer of 1805 carried the expedition from the Missouri to the Pacific. When they crossed the divide they left anything that could be called Louisiana behind them and entered a region where the scanty claims of foreign powers were divided among Russia, Spain, England, and the United States. They spent the next winter in a fort which they built at the mouth of the Columbia River, and in September, 1806, were back again at St. Louis. 

“The results of the Lewis and Clark expedition were not commensurate with the effort or the success that attended it. In a geographic way it greatly enlarged our knowledge of America. It made new and original contacts with many tribes of Indians. It provided descriptions, had any one cared to read them, of the Missouri and Columbia valleys. But it was many years before a fair compilation of the journals was prepared, and the century was nearly gone before the first critical edition appeared. Patrick Gass, one of the soldier-diarists, published his journal at Pittsburgh in 1807, in a small edition. Nicholas Biddle of Philadelphia began to edit them in 1811, but the war with England was a distraction, and his work did not appear until 1814. Before the party arrived back at St. Louis the world had so changed that, whatever the original idea of Jefferson may have been, it was no longer a vital thing. If he feared the necessity to seize Louisiana, and was preparing a military survey, the ease with which the transfer had been accomplished destroyed it. No power contested the purchase, though Spain showed an irritation at being defrauded by Napoleon. If he hoped to make great scientific discoveries, the journals must have disappointed him for they contained nothing startling. By 1807 there was danger of war with England. After that date the United States was being drawn step by step into the meshes of European politics, and Jefferson had little leisure to play the man of science. Not until after 1815 was the time ripe for a profitable interest in the transMississippi; and then the legend was already in formation to which the remarks of Lewis and Clark gave credence: — that, after all, the country beyond the Missouri River was not fit for white habitation or use."

tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2113388 2024-05-31T15:25:31Z 2024-06-05T01:23:34Z H.L. Mencken On The Gettysburg Address

The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and Everetts seem gaudy and silly. It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost child-like perfection—the highest emotion reduced to one graceful and irresistible gesture. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous.

But let us not forget that it is oratory, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it! Put it into the cold words of everyday life! The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — “that government of the people, by the people, for the people,” should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i. e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle an absolutely free people; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and vote of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that vote was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely any freedom at all. Am I the first American to note the fundamental nonsensicality of the Gettysburg address? If so, I plead my aesthetic joy in it in amelioration of the sacrilege.

Today (September 12) is H.L. Mencken’s birthday. The “Sage of Baltimore” (pictured above) was born on September 12 in 1880 and is regarded by many as one of the most influential American journalists, essayists, and writers of the early 20th century. To recognize the great political writer on the 142nd anniversary of his birthday, here are 17 of my favorite Mencken quotes:

1. Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

2. A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

3. A politician is an animal that can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.

4. Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

5. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.

6. Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

7. Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

8. Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

9. If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.

10. For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

11. The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

12. As democracy is perfected, the office of the president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

13. The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it. Power is what all messiahs really seek: not the chance to serve.

14. No democratic delusion is more fatuous than that all men are capable of reason, and hence susceptible to conversion by evidence.

15. Communism, like any other revealed religion, is largely made up of prophecies.

16. The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear – fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety.

17. When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before.

tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2113347 2024-05-31T09:51:45Z 2024-05-31T16:32:00Z The End of the Nation-State

The nation-state is coming to its end. And thank god for that.

For five hundred years, since the emergence of Spain and England as more than a collection of defeated princedoms and duchies but coherent entities with shared customs, religions, allegiances, and language, the nation-state has been the way most societies have ordered their politie

Indeed, nowadays there are as many as 195 recognized states in the United Nations, but many of those are known as failed states–Somalia, Haiti, Syria, and Yemen, for example—and one organization that measures such things, a Fund for Peace think tank in America, found in 2023 that two dozen others are so fragile that they cannot provide a full range of basic state functions, plus another 84 that have one or more warning signs of failure. In other words, the arrangement of government by nations that the West has foisted on the world has not been much of a success, in view of the fact that in fully 64 per cent there is no fully cohesive state and in many of the others either internal or external pressures have eroded the essentials of such a state.

But we don’t have to go traipsing around to find the best example: it is here. The America of 2024 could no longer be called a nation, in the sense of a common culture, common loyalties, common beliefs, common religion, common ideology, common vision, common allegiance, or even common language.  It does not have a common agreement on what marriages should be or how many genders there are (ABC news in 2024 counted 53 in use), or what the country’s history has been or even what year it started, or what constitutes a crime; it does not have a working system for public education in any state; it does not even have defended borders, the minimum task that a civil body must fulfill to be a nation.

People might move around as usual, some facades in the Washington Potemkin village might still be standing, but the core, the nation that was supposed to be at the heart of it all, is slowly vanishing.  In the U. S., as in most European countries, loyalty to nation has quietly withered away, to be replaced by loyalty to a cause, a race, a religion, a job, an ideology, or simply a market. Patriotism is for posing politicians.

Public confidence in the institutions of the nation is at an all-time low, with those professing great or a lot of trust in the Supreme Court at 27 per cent, the Presidency 26 per cent and the Congress 8 per cent;  the three branches of government in America muster trust from less than a quarter of its people, what we might dismiss caustically as “like a Third-World country.” Other areas fare hardly better:  newspapers gain only 18 per cent and TV news 14 per cent; banks, public schools and organized labor earn 26 per cent. In fact taken all together, only a little over a quarter of the American public can muster confidence in any of the systems and organizations that run their lives. They do not trust them.

It comes as no surprise then, to know that rates of suicide, alcohol use, and drugs are at all-time highs in 2024.  Suicide rates have increased every year of the 21st century, standing at more than 50,000 people in 2024—and here’s the indicator of the depth of the problem: the large majority of them are white men, and many of those in the 55 to 70 age range, just the population that should be running the country; the other large group were adolescents, just the population that should be inheriting it.  Drug deaths—not suicides, accidents—are running about 110,000 in these past few years, a great many from fentanyl, originating in China (which was simultaneously poisoning American youth through TikTok), and opioids, legal and illegal.  Alcohol “use disorder” (addiction, sickness) affected almost 30 million Americans, and more than 140,000 died each year.  Two-thirds of all adults then were either addicted to drugs or liquor or had someone in the family who was—that’s around 175 million people, an astounding figure.

The American economy is teetering, no matter what Jerome Powell professes, with the American dollar threatened abroad by the rise of the growing BRICS alliance using other currencies –Brazil, Russia, India, China, and now with Saudi Arabia and theUnited Arab Emirates—and the national debt crippling faith in the Federal Reserve system at home.  Month by month it has gotten through the post-pandemic years, largely dependent on creative fiddling by the hedge-fund-and-big-bank accord rather than manufacturing or production of anything, but the basic sickness of the economy was immune to healing.  No one could be confident that the teetering was going to end, and almost everyone realized that the national instruments, including Congress and the Presidency, were helpless—and the national debt, at the bottom of it all, was an astounding $34 trillion, and mounting every year.

In the March 2024 issue of Chronicles magazine, its managing editor wondered that no one was talking about observing the 250th anniversary of the country’s birth in 2026, although the Bicentennial in 1976 was a much-ballyhooed event with large public support.  No one. “Perhaps,” she said, “Americans don’t want to take part in the hypocrisy of celebrating the ‘birthday’ of an already dead regime….I don’t mean that the country called the United States no longer exists. I mean that its soul has been drained out…

“We cannot, rightly, call this doppelganger going by the name ‘United States of America’ the same regime as the regime of our founders. Celebrating the occasion of America’s birth as if it had not already slipped away and become something else is to take part in a lie.”

As in the U.S., so in most of the other nations of the West, including those of Europe.  No country was without its “populist” uprising, consisting of those left out of the “neoliberal” techno-economy of the 21st century whose earnings hadn’t even kept up with inflation.  What little remained of borders in the European Union were shattered by waves of mass migration from the Middle East and Africa in the 2010’s, and as in America common cultural, linguistic, and religious ties were overwhelmed, and nationalism as a unifying ideal ceased to exist.

On top of it all, an organization centered in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum, had been working since the 1970’s with considerable financial clout to create a world managed by multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations, working toward a “Great Reset” in which there would be a “General Redesign of Power” and centralized property ownership—in other words, a world government  without nations—or borders—at all.  It has great influence at the World Health Organization, where a new Pandemic Treaty threatens nation sovereignty, and the World Bank, failing in its attempts to sustain nations everywhere, and it has globalist allies in important positions throughout the richer nations.

The death of the nation state may not come with a bang, and its last, declining whimpers may take a few more years to be final.  But the patient is dying, and every sign is that its final days are near. It served its usefulness for quite some time, but it’s proven useless now. Requiem for a long time in pace.

tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2112866 2024-05-29T10:34:10Z 2024-05-29T10:39:36Z This Should Be Required Reading In Every U.S. History Course

Don’t Miss The Political Truths That Nobody Wants To Know

Joe Biden and Abe Lincoln — The Similarities Are Uncanny

By Kevin Orlin Johnson, Ph.D.

May 27, 2024

Looking up at the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial

Headlines are so contentious these days, even vicious, one way or the other.  But, in fairness, nobody can rightly say that Joe Biden is the first president in our history to weaponize federal agencies to censor political speech, or even to indict or imprison his political opponents.  Abraham Lincoln was.

Most Americans find it hard to reconcile that with everything else that we’ve learned about Lincoln.  But in fact there’s a long train of abuses across the Lincoln administration, with ample documentation that’s always been available — just ignored.  A good place to start is John A. Marshall’s American Bastile:  A History of the Illegal Arrests and Imprisonment of American Citizens in the Northern and Border States on Account of Their Political Opinions During the Late Civil War (Philadelphia 1883).

Then there are the private letters, diaries, and memoirs that relate how the Lincoln administration posted armed troops at the polling places across the North, ready to arrest anybody who picked up a Democrat ballot.  How Lincoln soldiers kicked in the doors of opposition candidates at midnight and dragged them away to military prisons a thousand miles away, without charge or habeas corpus, leaving Republicans to run unopposed.  How they smashed the presses of opposition — or even just accurate — newspapers.  Posted armed guards in churches to ensure that only the sermons written by the Secretary of War were proclaimed from the pulpit — and pistol whipped any clergyman who strayed, dragging him bloody through the congregation and off to those same distant prisons.

Well, even the standard histories of the time tell how the administration cut off the South’s trade with all parts of the world, and declared themselves invested with power to legislate in all cases whatsoever.  How they affected to render the military independent of and superior to the civil power, keeping among Americans, North and South, standing armies, quartering large bodies of armed troops in people’s houses, protecting soldiers from punishment even for murder while depriving citizens of the benefits of trial by jury — took away our charters, abolished our most valuable laws, and altered fundamentally the forms of our governments — plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people — in short, how the Lincoln administration combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws, running through practically the whole list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence four score and seven years before.

Best documented and most outrageous, there’s the overlooked case of Clement Vallandigham, sitting Representative of Ohio, arrested, imprisoned, tried by a military tribunal on vacant charges and transported contrary to the First Amendment and Art. I Sec. 6 (“The Senators and Representatives shall … be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and … for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place”, you know).  But his was only one of thousands of such cases — all of them in the North, where the Lincoln administration still had its civil authority, and most in states that had voted the Party into office, where state and local officials wouldn’t interfere.

Of course, like Biden and Carter and quite a few other recent incumbents, Lincoln had very little idea of what was being wrought in his name.  His handlers had chosen him as a candidate explicitly because they themselves were too well known to be electable and he was a complete non-entity.  His brief but famous speeches were written by others to be read off under strict orders to never speak extemporaneously.  Nobody attended his posted cabinet meetings; his secretaries ignored his scattershot and usually trivial orders, and normally Secretary of State William H. Seward told the president what was going to be done, or really what had been done.

Most interesting in that line, there’s Seward’s troubling “Some thoughts for the President’s consideration” of April 1, 1861.

“My system is built upon this idea as a ruling one,” Seward wrote, “namely that we must Change the question before the Public from one upon Slavery, or about Slavery for a question upon Union or Disunion.”

In other words, from what would be regarded as a Party question to one of Patriotism or Union

The occupation or evacuation of Fort Sumter, although not in fact a slavery, or a party question is so regarded

I would therefore terminate it as a safe means for changing the issue.

Lincoln replied that same day:  “I do not perceive how the re-inforcement of Fort Sumpter would be done on a slavery, or party issue”.  So they changed it.

Well, clearly, if you can’t do what you want to do in your war on the pretext of slavery — if you can change the pretext for your war from slavery to something else — then slavery wasn’t the real reason for your war in the first place.

That correspondence has always been plainly on the record — it’s in Roy P. Basler’s Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (Rutgers 1955), volume 4, pages 316-318 — but Lincoln Studiers and qualified historians alike have uniformly ignored it, as indeed they’ve ignored the affidavit in which Lincoln ordered the sale of his slaves.

That’s a pivotal document that I found uncatalogued in a cardboard box at the Regenstein Library of the University of Chicago and reproduced in my book, The Lincolns in the White House.  Nobody has disputed the affidavit’s authenticity.  It’s now included in the online Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, doc. no. 137259, in Parker v. Richardson et al., case L05935.  Yet everybody in Lincoln Studies persistently ignores it, too.

A few who have mentioned it try to push it aside as out of context, although it’s impossible to misconstrue the plain statement that “Abraham Lincoln and Mary his wife … are willing that the slaves mentioned in the Bill shall be sold on such terms as the Court may think advisable.”  Some few others have tried to bury it under misinformation about the relevant standing law of that time and place, as if to relieve Lincoln of any volition or intent.  Why, he never even knew about it, really.

But the laws are as plainly documented as the sale itself and all of Lincoln’s own acts and statements about slavery.  But so far nobody has published a revision of his stance.  In fact, nobody has published a revision of anything about Lincoln for a century and a half.  Even Stalin and Mussolini, even the German dictator, get their histories updated at least once in a generation.  Not Lincoln.

That seems inexplicable.  But, based on discussions with, and the shrieks of, professional Lincoln Studiers, I always cite two important studies that may explain it.  In 1949 J. S. Bruner and Leo Postman, in their “On the Perception of Incongruity:  A Paradigm” (Journal of Personality 18:206 ff.), discovered an unexpected fact.  If we’re taught a limited catalogue of possibilities — they used the normal four-suit deck of cards — then we are simply unable to perceive anything that doesn’t fit that classification.  We’re all taught that Lincoln was a lifelong and even a passionate abolitionist, so the ample documentation of his real attitude and his real actions, including his ownership and sale of slaves, simply does not exist in the universe as we Americans can see it.  Yet there it is.

Then in 1999 David Dunning and Justin Kruger came up with another principle that governs Lincoln Studies.  In their “Unskilled and Unaware of It:  How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments” (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77:1121 ff.), they showed that people who — how can we say this — people too stupid to — well, let’s say that incompetence in any given pursuit will predictably extend to prevent the person’s perception of his own incompetence.

That principle shapes academic fields because it sorts potential students.  A smart kid taking the basic course in a field that makes no sense will either move to a field more logically rigorous or, less frequently, stay on for an easy ride.  But classes in that field will be filled largely by students who can’t understand that it makes no sense.  And those who most uncritically parrot the professors’ nonsense will proceed, lauded and well referenced, to grad school, and they’ll ultimately succeed to those professorial chairs.

And all along the way they’ll be unable to perceive any counter evidence and — their reputations being their primary concern — they’ll fight like sunlit vampires to keep anybody from publishing any of it once it’s pointed out to them.

In Lincoln Studies they go as far as burning that evidence.  Henry Horner, Vice President of the Abraham Lincoln Association and Governor of Illinois; Oliver R. Barrett, President of the Board of Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library; and Robert Todd Lincoln himself are all on record as destroying whole trunks full of original documents, most of them from Lincoln’s own hand, and Mary Todd’s.  Lincoln’s prolific biographer Rev. William E. Barton stole whole carloads of documents and rare books from public repositories — his loot filled actual railroad boxcars — to keep honest historians from even knowing that they exist.  That’s where I found the affidavit.

Still, the assertion that the Party undertook the War to abolish slavery is immovable.  It’s by far the touchiest point in all of this:  you have only to present documentation articulating objectively anything to do with slavery, and the full weight of denial slams down upon you.

It seems usually to be a case for Dunning and Kruger, or more charitably for Bruner and Postman.  The documents, of course, deflate the assertion; they show uniformly that Lincoln throughout his private life aspired to ownership, and throughout his public life promised strictly never to interfere with slavery where it existed.

It’s explicit in his First Inaugural, when he repeated and then reaffirmed his consistent statement:  “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.  I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”  So either he was no enemy of slavery, or Honest Abe was a liar.

We have only to read the Emancipation Proclamation and think about what it says, precisely, and then clarify the resulting puzzlement over this baffling text, also explicitly contrary to our expectations and riddled with loopholes and prevarications as it is, by studying the context of its genesis and its reception by the foreign powers that received it, and derided it or even mocked it as the shabbiest and most heartless humbug.

In fact, the simple chronology shows that Lincoln had even less to do with emancipation than he had to do with anything else.  The Thirteenth Amendment was pushed through Congress by the Radical Republicans led by James Mitchell Ashley of Ohio and Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania, Lincoln’s fierce opponents within the Party.  Lyman Trumbull of Illinois was instrumental, too, and you may remember that he won a seat in the Senate in 1855 by running as an anti-slavery candidate in clear distinction against Lincoln.

Nor was the Amendment swept along on a wave of popular support.  The Radicals resorted to trying to change the rules for passage of a proposed amendment; they failed, but in 1864 it failed in the House to get the two-thirds majority required.  This is what prompted Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont to start a third party calling for abolition, in frank contrast to the Republicans.  The struggle to ratify the Amendment didn’t end until December 6, 1865, more than eight months after Lincoln was killed, with the Radicals fully in control of the only effective government in the land.

Well, after the War the whole history of the Amendment and of abolition, of Reconstruction and civil rights, is a tangle almost impenetrable, with nobody on the right side of anything and everybody doing the very opposite of what the Revised Standard Version claims.  Here we only have space enough to follow the normal method of Lincoln Studies, and walk silently around it.

We should remember, too, that Lincoln never advocated equal rights for African Americans, either — “even when you cease to be slaves,” he told a delegation of Black leaders at the White House on August 14, 1862, “you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race.”

That, too, gets sandburged into obscurity — Lincoln didn’t mean that, Lincoln abandoned the idea — Lincoln freed the slaves.  But did mean it, and he went farther.  “But for your race among us there could not be war,” he told them, “although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other.”

And he kept at it.  Only one day before he issued the Emancipation Proclamation he signed a contract with Florida planter Bernard Kock to ship five thousand freedmen to the bleak little Île à Vache off the coast of Haiti.  That first shipment suffered horribly from starvation and disease, and a quarter of them died.

Despite that atrocity he brought us once again to the brink of war by chartering another ship, without due process, without regular governmental contract procedure, without even consultation with his cabinet or the Monroe Doctrine, to dump free Black families on the shores Chiriquí Province on the Isthmus of Panama to work coal mines and establish a new colony, to be called Linconia.  That move also failed when Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica threatened to repel the expedition with armed force.

And Lincoln Studies’ standard texts notwithstanding, he never abandoned the idea of deporting all Americans of African descent to the Caribbean or “back” to Africa.  Only four days before his death he told Gen. “Spoons” Butler that he could “hardly believe that the South and North can live in peace, unless we can get rid of the negroes”.

Why does this matter?  Because both Democrats and Republicans — both sides of the Uniparty, some would say — are tussling for control of a government thoroughly reconstituted after the War.  That War can’t be justified by any principle of law — again, it was itself the same long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, that we find in the Declaration.  But everybody will agree that slavery is an evil, irreformable and unjustifiable; so if the War was about slavery, then the government that emerged after winning the War is right and unquestionably good.  If you criticize that government, then you obviously hate Blacks and want to reinstitute slavery, because this government was founded on the abolition of slavery.

Yet nobody denies that the War swept away the Constitution as it had stood before.  Instantly after Appomattox the Party, exultant in what it called its “perpetual ascendancy”, stood Lincoln next to Washington as the Father of the Country.  Within months they pushed Washington aside, replacing the foundational history of Washington’s administration with the myths of Lincoln’s — even today politicians, all of them, justify their positions with incessant references to Lincoln but never a mention of Washington.  How could they mention him?  That would lead directly to the Constitution.

The War was basically the same as we see in any number of other régimes throughout history and around the world:  a roundly unpopular minority party winning control of the government, by any means necessary, and weaponizing every agency, military and civil alike, to secure themselves in power immune to ballots.  On any pretext, which can change to follow the fortunes of war.

For the Party, it was a fortunate war indeed.  For the rest of the century we had an unbroken series of victorious President-Generals:  General of the Army Ulysses S. Grant, Gen. Rutherford B. Hayes, Maj. Gen. James A. Garfield, Gen. Chester A. Arthur, Brig. Gen. Grover Cleveland, Brig. Gen. Benjamin Harrison, Bvt. Maj. William McKinley, who was too young to make it to General before Appomattox — when we see this pattern overseas we sneer at whatever tin-pot República de la Banana was laughable enough to let that happen.

Those decades are never understood as the predictable aftermath of a violent military coup d’état.  It was a time when the Party was still working out how to perpetuate a revolution while preserving the form of the ancien régime.  Beyond the civil disturbances that erupted at every election, think of the monkey business with the Electoral College to get General Hayes into office in 1876, which was fairly typical of elections at every level in those days.  A little later and nobody remembered how things had been before — “A generation born since Abraham Lincoln died has already reached manhood and womanhood,” as the Party’s chief propagandist Richard Watson Gilder said.  By then the Party’s control was absolute and its bipartisan unity indivisible.

Today we wonder at the state of the Union, but we forget that régimes imposed that way by such parties invariably fail, and fail catastrophically.  When they fail, the government doesn’t do anything that it was constituted to do, while everything that it does is not just unconstitutional but bungled.  When they fail, every problem facing their people — economic, educational, social, cultural, security, every problem — is caused by the purposeful acts of that government.  When they fail, every year starts looking a lot like 1865.

Kevin Orlin Johnson is the author of The Lincolns in the White House:  Slanders, Scandals, and Lincoln’s Slave Trading Revealed and Mrs. Lincoln’s Recovery:  How Trauma, Malpractice, and a Despicable Son Destroyed a First Lady’s Reputation.  Both are available at bookstores everywhere and at Pangaeus.com for fast delivery.

Copyright © Kevin Orlin Johnson, Ph.D.

tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2112664 2024-05-28T08:09:21Z 2024-05-28T08:24:08Z The Reckoning
Dike and Nemesis, by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon

“But let’s be clear what happens to you and your family when old ghosts in new garments seize power, [who] come for the freedoms you thought belonged to you . . .” — Remarks by President Biden to the Morehouse College Class of 2024

Oh, we and our families get it, Mr. President, starting with our recognition that your speechwriters’ characterizations of “MAGA Republicans” as racist fascists led by a new Grand Wizard are, in fact, chiaroscuro projections of themselves. And of you.

Can it be, Mr. President, that in your long life no one has stood before you, as Nathan stood before David, to proclaim that “You are the man”? That you are that man — the “old ghost” of Marxists past, wearing a new-spun garment made from that synthetic fabric known as DEI, the material so flattering that it allows Antifa, BLM, transsexual and Pro-Hamas thugs to view themselves in the mirror as saints, and that transforms globalist Titans into saviors of the world?

Of course, it would be equally true to point out that you are also that man in Prud’hon’s painting above, making off with a stolen garment, like David’s stolen wife, and with it another man’s life and identity. When your new garment endears you with one audience but not with another, it’s always good to be able to slip into something more traditional and familiar, as you did at Morehouse College in wearing the mantle of a Martin Luther King Era champion of Civil Rights, ill-fitting as that garment might be.

We get it, Mr. President, you’re a serial plagiarist who can steal anything from anyone. Something old, something new — whatever works in the moment, and whatever helps line your pockets and consolidate your power.

And if you are the man in this painting, we’re the guy on the ground, whom neither the police nor the courts are any longer able or willing to protect, from whom you and your cartel have stolen everything from elections to our urban parks and playgrounds, which you are filling up with every manner of human filth.

“Let’s be clear,” you say? By all means. It’s time to take off those “aviator” sunglasses and raise your eyes, Mr. President. Somewhere on “a street called Straight,” an Ananias could be waiting for you, to remove the scales from those eyes.

And what you might see then, as in this painting, is that she is coming for you — that winged, dark-faced goddess from whom there is no escape. Who carries a measuring rod (or tally stick) and scales, and wields a whip or a sword by which to mete out what is due, in proportion to what is deserved.

She is Nemesis, and it is she who bends the long arc of the Universe toward justice. Implacable justice.

And, lest you think she is confined to Greek mythology, it is she who, with the disembodied hand of a man, wrote the writing on the wall beheld by Belshazzar in the Book of Daniel — You have been tried in the balance and found wanting.

She is universal, Mr. President, sensed by every soul across the spectrum of humankind, who for whatever reason fears a reckoning.

Surely your Catholic Faith, Mr. President, with its notion of mortal sin, has alerted you to her presence.

Surely you have heard phrases like “poetic justice” and expressions like “What goes around comes around.” Surely you know what they mean.

But perhaps you don’t. You pretend not to know what Donald Trump meant when he used the term blood bath. “What the hell is that about?!” you shout, doing your demagogic best to inspire fears of a Reign of Terror should Trump prevail. Never mind that he was speaking metaphorically of an economic downturn following your kleptocratic and foolish policies. Never mind that when he said he would be a dictator, but only on Day One, he was parodying your own conduct on your first day in office.

You pretend also that the judgment of the Supreme Court doesn’t apply to your effort to buy votes by dismissing student debt with taxpayer dollars. What the hell do they know, these servants of Lady Justice, who like Nemesis holds a balance and a sword? They say I can’t do it, but I’m going to find a way to do it. To hell with The Take Care Clause. I did away with the Nation’s borders, and no one did squat about it.

But she is not no one, and she’s coming, Mr. President. With winged haste and fury. You may be near death, but do not think that Death can cheat her.

“The prayers of a righteous man availeth much,” you said to the Morehouse graduates. Are you that man? Who will say so? Who will testify to your “fundamental decency,” that you have found so lacking in your political opponent that you have unleashed every weapon in your Justice Department in an effort to imprison or at least impugn him?

When your hands are clutching your Rosary, beseeching the Mother of God to pray for you in the hour of your death, will she be hearing the voice of a righteous man? Or that of just one more of us who continue to crucify Her Son?

Do you beseech that son — O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, Save us from the fires of hell —while simultaneously flogging his Evangelical and Rad-Trad Catholic followers as “domestic terrorists” and “MAGA extremists”? And while incongruously making the Sign of the Cross in bizarre contexts and settings, as at pro-abortion rallies?

You have become a Clown Catholic. And a Cartoon President.

What good have you done for anyone? How will this end well?

It can’t. It won’t.

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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2112480 2024-05-27T12:06:44Z 2024-05-27T14:21:09Z The Mansions Of The Lord

Don't be distracted by the subtitles.
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2111977 2024-05-24T19:13:09Z 2024-05-24T19:14:54Z Paderewski
"In 1892 at Stanford University, an 18-year-old student was struggling to pay his fees. He was an orphan, and not knowing where to turn for money, he came up with a bright idea. He and a friend decided to host a musical concert on campus to raise money for their education.
They reached out to the great pianist Ignacy J. Paderewski. His manager demanded a guaranteed fee of $2000 for the piano recital. A deal was struck and the boys began to work to make the concert a success.
The big day arrived. But unfortunately, they had not managed to sell enough tickets. The total collection was only $1600. Disappointed, they went to Paderewski and explained their plight.
They gave him the entire $1600, plus a cheque for the balance $400. They promised to honour the cheque at the soonest possible.
“No,” said Paderewski. “This is not acceptable.” He tore up the cheque, returned the $1600 and told the two boys: “Here’s the $1600. Please deduct whatever expenses you have incurred.
Keep the money you need for your fees. And just give me whatever is left”. The boys were surprised, and thanked him profusely.It was a small act of kindness. But it clearly marked out Paderewski as a great human being.
Why should he help two people he did not even know? We all come across situations like these in our lives. And most of us only think “If I help them, what would happen to me?” The truly great people think, “If I don’t help them, what will happen to them?” They don’t do it expecting something in return. They do it because they feel it’s the right thing to do.
Paderewski later went on to become the Prime Minister of Poland. He was a great leader, but unfortunately when the World War began, Poland was ravaged. There were more than 1.5 million people starving in his country, and no money to feed them.
Paderewski did not know where to turn for help. He reached out to the US Food and Relief Administration for help.He heard there was a man called Herbert Hoover — who later went on to become the US President. Hoover agreed to help and quickly shipped tons of food grains to feed the starving Polish people.A calamity was averted.
Paderewski was relieved.
He decided to go across to meet Hoover and personally thank him. When Paderewski began to thank Hoover for his noble gesture, Hoover quickly interjected and said, “You shouldn’t be thanking me Mr. Prime Minister. You may not remember this, but several years ago, you helped two young students go through college. I was one of them.”

Heh. Hoover was a brilliant mining engineer. After some year in China, he was returning to America by steamship. He struck up a friendship with a lady during the meals..  A day before they docked, the lady asked Hoover what he did for a living. "I am an engineer." "Oh! And I thought you were a gentleman!" she gasped.

tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2110958 2024-05-20T10:48:20Z 2024-05-21T05:49:48Z Abraham Lincoln and the Indian Wars

Today's selection-- from The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic by Manisha Sinha. The Native Americans in the Civil War:

When recalling his time in an Illinois militia in the Black Hawk war of 1832, Abraham Lincoln, whose settler grandfather had been killed by Indians, joked that the only thing he had killed were mosquitoes. The so-called Black Hawk war, named after a Sauk chief, was a merciless slaughter of Sauks and Foxes (Mesquakies), who had returned to their lands after being forcibly exiled by the US Army. Like other settlers who served in the militia, Lincoln received a land grant for his service, further dispossessing the Sauks.

“During the Civil War, preoccupied with defeating the Confederacy, President Lincoln—who, compared to many Americans, was not a diehard Indian hater—did not give much thought to the Indian wars. In 1862, 303 Dakota warriors were condemned to execution in a summary military trial after the Dakota-US conflict led by Little Crow in Minnesota, after years of reneged treaties, land grabs, and mistreatment that had reduced the Dakota Sioux to starvation and desperation. Lincoln pored over the trial records and commuted the sentences of all except thirty-nine accused of particularly egregious actions. In the end, thirty eight were hanged—the largest mass hanging in American history and a blot on Lincoln's presidency. And like most US presidents, Lincoln signed off on laws dispossessing Indians. Besides indigenous people themselves, only abolitionists like the Indian advocate John Beeson protested. As he put it, the Dakota were a ‘sovereign people’ and ‘their hostile acts in Minnesota ... [were] one of war, and not rebellion; and for what the most civilized nations would deem sufficient occasion for war.’ The Dakota Sioux and some Ho-Chunks (Winnebagos), who had not taken part in the uprising, were expelled from their homes and consigned to reservations.

“The Civil War brought devastation to Native America. Even as army regulars stationed in the West were summoned east, volunteers under generals such as James Carleton continued to wage war on the Indian frontier. The gruesome Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado Territory in 1864 saw volunteers of the Third Colorado Cavalry murder nearly four hundred Arapaho and Cheyenne, mainly women and children. Captain Silas Soule, an abolitionist, blew the whistle on his commanding officer, Col. John Chivington, a Methodist minister, who ordered the massacre. At a court-martial led by Samuel F. Tappan of the abolitionist Tappan family, another officer, Major Patrick Wynkoop, testified that the Indian women had been tortured and ‘profaned’ in a manner that was truly ‘sickening.’

Sauk Indian family photographed by Frank Rinehart in 1899

“The report of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, written by radical Benjamin F. Wade, strongly condemned Chivington's actions and the victims were given forty thousand dollars. Congress passed a joint resolution suspending all pay and allowances to Chivington's regiment. Charles Sumner called it an ‘exceptional crime,’ the ‘most atrocious in the history of any country.’ Despite congressional inquiries, Chivington went mostly unpunished. A month after the Sand Creek massacre, a Colorado cavalry regiment killed Lean Bear, a Cheyenne chief and one of the peace chiefs who had met with Lincoln in 1863 to protest settler encroachments. He was still wearing the peace medal Lincoln had given to him when he was murdered.

“Indigenous nations in ‘Indian territory,’ what is now the state of Oklahoma,—the so-called five civilized nations that had been expelled from their homelands in the 1830s-signed treaties with the Confederacy and fought on its behalf. Yet substantial numbers of people in these nations, especially among the Creeks and the Seminoles, many of whom had intermarried with former slaves, sided with the Union. Such indigenous unionists formed the first Indian regiments of the Civil War, in Kansas. Stand Watie, like many of the ‘mixed blood’ slaveholding elites of the Cherokee nation, supported the Confederacy and rose to the rank of a brigadier general in the Confederate army. His rival, John Ross, the ‘principal chief’ of the Cherokees, whom abolitionists had lauded before the war, had initially advocated neutrality and supported the Union. The Cherokees eventually surrendered to Union forces, and Ross met with Lincoln in 1862, trying to preserve the sovereignty of his nation. In a subsequent letter, Ross assured Lincoln that his nation had signed a treaty with the Confederacy out of necessity and that the true loyalty of Cherokees lay with the United States. At the end of the war, the fact that many of these nations were slaveholding—a mark of ‘civilization’ in the South—left them vulnerable when they signed treaties with the United States in 1866 that abolished slavery and recognized the equality of Indian freedpeople. (The status of Afro-Indians as full fledged members of Indian nations continues to be disputed.) In the late nineteenth century, the federal government gave Indian freedpeople and black settlers land in Indian territory, even as the abolitionist dream of land reform in the South withered.

“The pitting of freedpeople's rights against tribal sovereignty was the tragedy of formal Reconstruction in Indian territory. The southern Creeks, Chickasaws, and Choctaws abused freedpeople in much the same way as southern ex-slaveholders, reported agents of the Freedmen's Bureau. The remarkable northern Creek chief, Oktarsars Harjo, posited an alternative and, unfortunately, a minority vision: native sovereignty that included freedpeople. As he put it, ‘we were all one nation.’ Black settlers, fleeing southern terrorism, also cannot simply be viewed as equal participants in American colonialism in the West. The 1866 treaties between the US government and the five ‘civilized’ southern Indian nations resulted, C. N. Vann of the Cherokee nation argued, in land being taken from them and given to railroad corporations or designated as public domain. He was outraged ‘that the Government shall rob its wards and cover itself with ignominy, in order that these corporations may pile up mountainous fortunes.’ Indian territory would be opened to white settlement in 1889, paving the way for further dispossession and Oklahoma statehood. The loss of sovereignty suffered by indigenous nations in the West was compounded by wartime laws that were predicated on their dispossession: the Homestead Acts, which gave homesteads to settlers, citizens as well as immigrants, on ‘public’ lands, and the Pacific Railroad Act, which allowed for the construction of a transcontinental railroad through Native America.”

The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic: Reconstruction, 1860-1920
author: Manisha Sinha  
title: The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic: Reconstruction, 1860-1920  
publisher: Liveright  
page(s): 310-312
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2110560 2024-05-18T11:49:45Z 2024-05-18T12:06:31Z American Life In The 1930's (Colorized)

tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2110145 2024-05-16T16:32:49Z 2024-05-16T16:32:50Z The Spy Who Failed: Kurt Gödel

The spy who flunked it: Kurt Gödel’s forgotten part in the atom-bomb story

Kurt Goedel and Albert Einstein. Princton. Photography. 1950.

Kurt Gödel (left) and Albert Einstein in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1950.Credit: Imagno/Getty

The 2023 film Oppenheimer narrates the story of the atomic bomb entirely from the perspective of its eponymous hero. But there’s much that is left out. It is well-known that US efforts to build the bomb started years before physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer took over as director of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico in 1943. That project was initiated by fellow physicist Leo Szilard. Concerned by the pace at which nuclear-science discoveries were being made in Germany, Szilard persuaded Albert Einstein in August 1939 to write a letter to then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt, warning him of the risk of an atomic bomb in Adolf Hitler’s hands.

But Szilard wasn’t the only physicist to try to use Einstein’s prestige to alert the president. Viennese physicist Hans Thirring independently arrived at the same idea. Thirring’s attempt petered out, but deserves a footnote in history, if only because it involves none less than Kurt Gödel in the unexpected role of a secret agent. The tale has all the trappings of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Vienna Circle

Gödel, a mathematician and philosopher, was called by Einstein “the greatest logician since Aristotle” — a phrase coined in 1924 that stuck. Yet when Kurt enrolled at the University of Vienna 100 years ago, he started out in physics. Relativity was all the rage then, and Gödel’s professor, Hans Thirring, was an expert. He had just co-discovered an important feature of the Universe — that the gravitational field of a spinning ball (such as Earth) differs from that when the ball is still, now known as the Lense–Thirring effect. The difference is tiny, however, and it wasn’t measured until 80 years later, using first-rate space technology.

The avant-garde philosophers of the Vienna Circle, a group of self-appointed heralds of the scientific world view, also influenced Gödel and turned his mind towards the foundations of mathematics. By age 25, he had discovered his ‘incompleteness theorem’, which states roughly that there is no consistent formal system in which all arithmetical propositions can be proved. This was an epoch-making result.

Gödel became one of the first postdocs to be invited to the newly founded Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. But when he returned from the United States to Vienna in 1934, he had a nervous breakdown. Indeed, bouts of persecution mania and fears of poisoning would dog him for the rest of his life. Thus, during the 1930s, Gödel shuttled between seminars in Vienna, the Institute for Advanced Study and mental-health clinics.

His mathematical work shifted to ‘set theory’, especially the theory of infinites. And again, he achieved a landmark result. He obsessively pursued the ‘continuum hypothesis’, which states roughly that the infinitude of real numbers is next largest to that of natural numbers. Gödel managed to show that this hypothesis is compatible with the axioms of set theory — a brilliant feat. His shorthand notebooks from that period, which are currently being deciphered and published, show that he pursued in parallel a stupendous range of interests, including parapsychology and quantum mechanics — two fields that also engrossed his former physics professor, with whom he had never lost touch.

Thirring was charismatic, popular with his students and brim-full of ideas. He had invented a cape-like ‘hover-coat’ for skiers and held a patent on films with sound. He, too, was in close touch with the hard-nosed ‘positivists’ of the Vienna Circle, who thought that knowledge comes only from experience and logical analysis. But this did not dampen Thirring’s interest in paranormal phenomena.

To hold a truly scientific world view, one must be ready to swim against the mainstream. This applies to political tides, too: Thirring was one of the woefully few in Vienna to stand up firmly against the flood of Nazi students after Hitler came to power. The ‘brownshirt’ storm troopers — the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party — could not accuse him of being of Jewish descent, but his support of Einstein (who was Jewish) was bad enough in their eyes. And in 1938, as soon as Austria was annexed to the Third Reich, 50-year-old Thirring lost his professorial chair. But he did not lose contact with former colleagues. And he was well aware that, in physics labs everywhere, everyone was talking about nuclear fission — the division of the atomic nucleus and the resulting release of energy — which had just been discovered in Hitler’s Berlin.

Mounting concern

In the summer of 1939, after reading an article in the scientific journal Die Naturwissenschaften by Siegfried Flügge — later a leading member of Uranverein, the ominous ‘Uranium Club’ that was behind the German effort to build a nuclear bomb — Thirring had learnt enough to feel that the US government should be warned. Like Szilard, and at about the same time, he came up with the idea to use Einstein to alert Roosevelt. But how could Thirring contact Einstein? The Gestapo, the Nazi secret police force, would intercept every phone call or letter from Vienna to Princeton, where Einstein lived.

This is when Thirring heard that Gödel happened to be on a brief visit to Vienna, to see his mother and take his wife Adele back with him to Princeton. Why not use Gödel as a secret messenger to reach Einstein? Thirring entrusted Gödel confidentially with the task of warning Einstein about Hitler’s bomb.

Unfortunately, the plan proved ill-fated. Gödel’s departure was delayed for nearly four months by an avalanche of bureaucratic hurdles. At times, escape looked hopeless.

Difficulties and chicanery piled up. After Germany annexed Austria, Gödel automatically became a German citizen, and had to return his old passport. The visa for multiple re-entry into the United States was in the old passport, and the hopelessly overtaxed US consulate could not simply transfer it to the new one. Gödel had to re-apply to enter the United States, and thus join a queue of thousands who were desperately trying to escape from the Reich.

The Ski-Sailing” invented in Austria has now also entered Switzerland, where the famous ski resort at St. Moritz has been demonstrated. Photo: An impression of the new sport, St. Moritz, Switzerland January 1938.

The ‘hover-coat’ designed by Hans Thirring.Credit: BNA Photographic/Alamy

Gödel had also lost his lectureship, and thus his professorial status. The Nazis were re-structuring academic life, and Gödel’s former contacts aroused their suspicion. Would he be able to represent ‘New Germany’ abroad? A minor bureaucrat had found fault with Gödel’s previous journey to the United States; the revenue service questioned the few hundred dollars on his account. It seemed he was of Aryan descent, but where was his grandparents’ marriage certificate, and that of his wife’s grandparents? Administration ran amok.

As one Viennese eye-witness, the writer Leo Perutz, described it: “Obscure offices that no one had ever heard of before would suddenly emerge from hiding, would make their demands imperiously known, and would insist on being satisfied, or at least noticed and consulted.”

Gödel and his wife had moved out of their flat in September — but because they couldn’t leave the country as planned, they had to look urgently for new lodgings. On top of it all, a mustering commission of the German armed forces, the Wehrmacht, declared Gödel fit for garrison duty. It was like a bad dream. Indeed, many years later, he would still be plagued by nightmares about being trapped in Vienna.

Perilous flight

In the end, thanks to vigorous interventions by mathematician John von Neumann and others at the Institute for Advanced Study, the visas came through in early January 1940. By then, Hitler’s troops had overrun Poland, and Europe was torn apart by war. The United States wasn’t involved yet, and some neutral vessels still plied the Atlantic Ocean. However, they were routinely searched by Allied warships, and all German passengers were sent to internment camps. On top of that, there was the risk of running through the periscope sight of a trigger-happy German U-boat skipper. Obviously, an Atlantic crossing would not do.

The only way out was the other way around: eastward, through Siberia and the Pacific. A tight-rope act, but just feasible. The Soviet Union and Japan were both waging wars, but not against Germany, or the United States, or each other.

Thirring’s plan was still alive, and on the eve of Gödel’s departure, the dauntless physicist met him and relayed the secret message. It was by no means sure that it would reach its destination. At each hitch, the Gödels risked being stopped. They had a long way to go.

To Berlin first, for some final stamps on their documents. From there, across half of Prussia, to reach occupied Poland, with its bombed railway stations and baleful troop transports clustering the sidings. On through twilight Latvia and Lithuania, and into Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union. Each border crossing took hours. Each luggage search was nerve-racking, and each knock on the compartment door was ill-boding. Finally in Moscow, the Gödels spent a night in the gigantic Hotel Metropol, a gloomy block housing mostly Communist Party delegates, some anxiously awaiting their upcoming trials for disloyalty. These were the heydays of communist purges and spy scares.

At Yaroslavski station in central Moscow, the Gödels boarded the Trans-Siberian Express. Its other terminus was more than 9,000 kilometres away, in Vladivostok. During the seemingly endless nights of ice and snow, the train accumulated a colossal delay. After finally reaching Vladivostok, they had to take a ship — often running behind schedule — to Yokohama, Japan. While in Berlin, Gödel and Adele had booked a cabin in the SS President Taft for the leg from Yokohama to San Francisco, California. Inevitably, they missed the ocean liner, and had to wait for two weeks for the next one, the SS President Cleveland.

Once aboard, things started picking up. A day’s stopover in sight of Oahu, Hawaii, came as a welcome change from icy Siberian train platforms. The coast of California rising from the horizon was the climax. Years later, Gödel would still enthuse: “San Francisco is absolutely the most beautiful city I have ever seen.” There was just one last formality before landing: the immigration papers, with their obnoxious queries — “Have you ever been a patient in an institution for the care and treatment of the insane?” No.

Another railway ticket; another trans-continental ride, now in an elegant Pullman sleeper train; and the safe haven of Princeton at last, after almost two months of travelling. Gödel’s long-time friend, economist Oskar Morgenstern, reported in his diary on 12 March 1940: “Gödel arrived. This time with wife. Via Siberia. When asked about Vienna: The coffee is wretched!”

After having circled three-quarters of the globe, Gödel had reached Einstein’s doorstep. He could finally fulfil his mission. Despite all obstacles, Thirring’s message had arrived. Quite conceivably, it could save the world.

And this is where Gödel failed.

He confessed it to Thirring more than three decades later: on meeting Einstein, Gödel had not transmitted the warning, but merely “greetings from Thirring”. The bizarre excuse: he, Gödel, had felt that a nuclear chain reaction would be possible only “in a distant future”.

Lost legacy

What did Thirring make of this? We can only wonder. He had outlasted the Third Reich unbowed, reassumed his professorship and become one of the firmest voices against nuclear armament. By then, however, Einstein’s letter to Roosevelt, prompted by Szilard, was public knowledge. Thirring’s son Walter, who was also a theoretical physicist and a colleague of mine in Vienna, later told me that his father was always uneasy about his (imagined) role in the bomb project. Hans, who was an inveterate pacifist, saw himself as a link in the causal chain that had led to the horrors of the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945. Only in 1972, shortly before his death and already weakened by a stroke, did he learn that his message had never reached its goal.

As a secret agent, Gödel had proved a dud. But then again, fortunately, the spectre of Hitler’s atomic bomb had turned out to be no great shakes either.

Nature 627, 26-28 (2024)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-024-00644-1


  • Correction 20 March 2024: Owing to a late editorial change, the originally published text of this Essay made an erroneous statement about the nature of the continuum hypothesis, and stated mistakenly that Hans Thirring had lost contact with former colleagues.

tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2109585 2024-05-14T14:58:18Z 2024-05-14T14:58:18Z Red Bull Wingsuits Blasting Through Tower Bridge
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2109324 2024-05-13T09:53:24Z 2024-05-13T12:14:03Z The Mongol Conquests

Today's selection -- from A Short History of the World by H.G. Wells. The Mongols achieved “a series of conquests as has no parallel in history:” 

Mongolia Travel Map  Road Map Mongolia  Tourist Map Mongolia

“In the thirteenth century, … Turkish people from the country to the north of China rose suddenly to prominence in the world's affairs, and achieved such a series of conquests as has no parallel in history. These were the Mongols. At the opening of the thirteenth century they were a horde of nomadic horsemen, living very much as their predecessors, the Huns, had done, subsisting chiefly upon meat and mare's milk and living in tents of skin. They had shaken themselves free from Chinese dominion, and brought a number of other Turkish tribes into a military confederacy. Their central camp was Karakorum in Mongolia. 

“At this time China was in a state of division. The great dynasty of Tang had passed into decay by the tenth century, and after a phase of division into warring states, three main empires, that of Kin in the north with Pekin as its capital and that of Sung in the south with a capital at Nankin, and Hsia in the centre, remain. In 1214 Jengis Khan, the leader of the Mongol confederates, made war on the Kin Empire and captured Pekin (1214). He then turned westward and conquered Western Turkestan, Persia, Armenia, India down Lahore, and South Russia as far as Kieff. He died master of a vast empire that reached from the Pacific to the Dnieper. 

“His successor, Ogdai Khan, continued this astonishing career of conquest. His armies were organized to a very high level of efficiency; and they had with them a new Chinese invention, gunpowder, which they used in small field guns. He completed the conquest of the Kin Empire and then swept his hosts right across Asia to Russia (1235), an altogether amazing march. Kieff was destroyed in 1240, and nearly all Russia became tributary to the Mongols. Poland was ravaged, and a mixed army of Poles and Germans was annihilated at the battle of Liegnitz in Lower Silesia in 1241. The Emperor Frederick II does not seem to have made any great efforts to stay the advancing tide. 

“‘It is only recently,’ says Bury in his notes to Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ‘that European history has begun to understand that the successes of the Mongol army which overran Poland and occupied Hungary in the spring of A.D. 1241 were won by consummate strategy and were not due to a mere overwhelming superiority of numbers. But this fact has not yet become a matter of common knowledge; the vulgar opinion which represents the Tartars as a wild horde carrying all before them solely by their multitude, and galloping through Eastern Europe without a strategic plan, rushing at all obstacles and overcoming them by mere weight, still prevails .... 

“‘It was wonderful how punctually and effectually the arrangements were carried out in operations extending from the Lower Vistula to Transylvania. Such a campaign was quite beyond the power of any European army of the time, and it was beyond the vision of any European commander. There was no general in Europe, from Frederick II downward, who was not a tyro in strategy compared to Subutai. It should also be noticed that the Mongols embarked upon the enterprise with full knowledge of the political situation of Hungary and the condition of Poland—they had taken care to inform themselves by a well-organized system of spies; on the other hand, the Hungarians and the Christian powers, like childish barbarians, knew hardly anything about their enemies.’"

Portrayal of Ögedei Khan in a 14th-century Yuan-era album, originally painted in 1278

“But though the Mongols were victorious at Liegnitz, they did not continue their drive westward. They were getting into woodlands and hilly country, which did not suit their tactics; and so they turned southward and prepared to settle in Hungary, massacring or assimilating the kindred Magyar, even as these had previously massacred and assimilated the mixed Scythians and Avars and Huns before them. From the Hungarian plain they would probably have made raids west and south as the Hungarians had done in the ninth century, the Avars in the seventh and eighth and the Huns in the fifth. But Ogdai died suddenly, and in 1242 there was trouble about

the succession, and recalled by this, the undefeated hosts of Mongols began to pour back across Hungary and Rumania towards the east.

“Thereafter the Mongols concentrated their attention upon their Asiatic conquests. By the middle of the thirteenth century they had conquered the Sung Empire. Mangu Khan succeeded Ogdai Khan as Great Khan in 1251, and made his brother Kublai Khan governor of China. In 1280 Kublai Khan had been formally recognized Emperor of China, and so founded the Yuan dynasty which lasted until 1368. While the last ruins of the Sung rule were going down in China, another brother of Mangu, Hulagu, was conquering Persia and Syria. The Mongols displayed a bitter animosity to Islam at this time, and not only massacred the population of Bagdad when they captured that city, but set to work to destroy the immemorial irrigation system which had kept Mesopotamia incessantly prosperous and populous from the early days of Sumeria. From that time until our own Mesopotamia has been a desert of ruins, sustaining only a scanty population. Into Egypt the Mongols never penetrated; the Sultan of Egypt completely defeated an army of Hulagu's in Palestine in 1260.

“After that disaster the tide of Mongol victory ebbed. The dominions of the Great Khan fell into a number of separate states. The eastern Mongols became Buddhists, like the Chinese; the western became Moslim. The Chinese threw off the rule of the Yuan dynasty in 1368, and set up the native Ming dynasty which flourished from 1368 to 1644. The Russians remained tributary to the Tartar hordes upon the south-east steppes until 1480, when the Grand Duke of Moscow repudiated his allegiance and laid the foundation of modern Russia.

“In the fourteenth century there was a brief revival of Mongol vigour under Timurlane, a descendant of Jengis Khan. He established himself in Western Turkestan, assumed the title of Grand Khan in 1369, and conquered from Syria to Delhi. He was the most savage and destructive of all the Mongol conquerors. He established an empire of desolation that did not survive his death. In 1505, however, a descendant of this Timur, an adventurer named Baber, got together an army with guns and swept down upon the plain of India. His grandson Akbar (1556-1605) completed his conques and this Mongol (or ‘Mogul’ as the Arabs called it) dynasty ruled in Delhi over the greater part of India until the eighteenth century."

A Short History of the World
author: H.G. Wells  
title: A Short History of the World  
publisher: Fingerprint! Publishing  
page(s): 302-208
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2109102 2024-05-12T06:40:51Z 2024-05-12T19:10:25Z Sage Advice c. 1943
Livret A Short Guide to Great Britain  US Militaria  Collection
Search inside imag

Along the way the Army had given the men a slim booklet - A Short Guide To Great Britain, written, in part, by the English author of Lassie Come Home, Eric Knight. The guide says right off that if you're Irish-American, forget "old grievances," "There is no time today to fight old wars over again," It steps quickly through history --- "Our ideals of religious freedom were all brought from Britain when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock...and parts of our own Bill of Rights were borrowed from the great charters of British liberty." It gives some language pointers---"It isn't a good idea ... to say 'bloody' in mixed company in Britain--- it is one of their worst swear words." And it repeatedly cautions yanks about being rude:
  You're coming to Britain from a country where your home is still safe, food is still plentiful, and lights are still burning. So, it is doubly important for you to remember that the British soldiers and civilians have been living under a tremendous strain. It is always impolite to criticise your hosts. It is militarily stupid to insult your allies.  So, stop and think before you sound off about lukewarm beer, or cold boiled potatoes, or the way English cigarettes taste.

   Put away your comments about dreary English weather, dinky cars, worn-out trains, shabby dress, confusing currency, and bland food: The British don't know how to make a good cup of coffee. You don't know how to make a good cup of tea. It's an even swap. And "Keep out of arguments ... Never criticise the King or Queen."

   Above all, don't be a show-off:

   You are higher paid than the British 'Tommy'. Don't rub it in. Don't brag or bluster---'swank' as the British say.  If somebody looks in your direction and says, "He's chucking his weight about,' you can be pretty sure you're off base.That's the time to pull in your ears.

   The British will welcome you as friends and allies. But remember that crossing the ocean doesn't automatically make you a hero. There are housewives in aprons and youngsters in knee pants ... who have lived through more high explosives in air raids than many soldiers saw in first clashes in the last war.

   Remember there's a war on. Britain may look a little shop-worn and grimy to you. The British people are anxious for you to know that you are not seeing its country at its best. There's been a war on since 1939. The houses haven't been painted because the factories are not making paint---they're making planes. The famous English gardens and parks are either unkept because there are no men to take care of them, or they are being used to grow needed vegetables .... In normal times Britain looks much prettier, cleaner, neater.

I Will Tell No War Stories -
 What Our Fathers Left Unsaid about World War II.
pp 28-29
Howard Mansfiield

My own father had a similar book given to the English about the Americans. High on the list was "Never call an American soldier a "Yankee." You have better than a 50% chance of offending him and a considerable chance for getting into a fist-fight.

I moved from Hawaii to a new school in New Hampshire. The very first breakfast I attended advertised, on the menu board: chitlins.  "Chitlins!" I cried " "I think I just died and went to Alabama! You Yankee girls don't know how to make no chitlins!" Just then a 250 lb black cook came around the corner waving a major-sized frying pan in my direction. "Who you callin' a Yankee?" she demanded. 


tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2108565 2024-05-09T08:52:08Z 2024-05-09T08:54:47Z Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Sci-Fi Movie Tier List

Search inside image
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2107598 2024-05-04T08:37:28Z 2024-05-04T08:37:28Z How America Stole A German Submarine
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2107575 2024-05-04T01:37:28Z 2024-05-04T01:37:29Z Vertassium: Black Holes, White Holes
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2107437 2024-05-03T10:13:46Z 2024-05-03T10:13:47Z 1.5 billion Pounds (750,000 Tons) Of Cheese Stored In American Bunkers
The Fat Electrician expounds yet again:

tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2106859 2024-04-30T11:07:15Z 2024-05-04T21:13:19Z Battleships, 1900-1922

Today's selection -- from Fifty Ships that Changed the Course of History by Ian Graham.The brief technological supremacy of Britain’s Dreadnought battleship:

“Battleship design underwent a revolution in the early 1900s. Torpedoes had become a serious danger to warships. They were more than capable of hitting ships, and sinking them, over their typical battle separation of about 3,000 yards (2.7 km). All the largest navies were thinking about fighting over longer ranges with bigger guns, but the first person to air the idea publicly was an Italian naval engineer, Vittorio Cuniberti. He wrote an article in 1903 proposing an ‘all-big-gun’ battleship. Just one size of gun was needed, because fighting at long range rendered most of the smaller guns carried by existing battleships unnecessary. Cuniberri's ideal future battleship would be armed only with the biggest guns available. The usual procedure was to design a ship first and then fill it with guns. From now on, the selection of the guns would come first and then the ship would be designed around them.

“The first all-big-gun battleship to be launched was the British Royal Navy's Dreadnought. She was armed with 10 12-inch (305-mm) guns in five twin-gun turrets. Each of these giant guns could hurl a shell weighing 8 50 pounds (390 kg) a distance of more than 10 miles (16 km). Dreadnought was also the first battleship to be powered by steam-turbine engines, giving the massive vessel a top speed of 21 knots (24 mph or 40 km/h) — faster than any other battleship afloat.

“HMS Dreadnought was intended to act as a deterrent to any nation thinking of attacking Britain. She was such a fast and powerful fighting vessel that she immediately rendered every other battleship obsolete. But other navies had been thinking along the same lines and soon built their own dreadnoughts. Japan had actually started building its first dreadnought, the Satsuma, before Britain, but Dreadnought was launched first. America's first dreadnought, USS Michigan, followed in 1908. The United States had been prompted to embark on a new warship construction program by the emergence of Japan as a serious naval power in the Pacific. Meanwhile in Europe, Britain was increasingly alarmed by the number of warships being built by Germany; they represented the first serious challenge to Britain's naval supremacy since Nelson's time. The result was a worldwide explosion in battleship construction, with each major naval power watching what the others did and then marching or surpassing it.

“HMS Dreadnought's technological lead did not last long. The first dreadnoughts were followed by even bigger and more heavily armed ships known as superdreadnoughts. The British were first again, with their Orion-class ships, but other nations quickly followed. They mounted bigger and bigger guns, ultimately 15-inch (380-mm) weapons. During this time there was also a change of fuel, from coal to oil. Oil packed more energy into a smaller volume, so oil-fired boilers could be smaller.

Dreadnought at sea in 1906

“Although she had been built for combat with other surface ships, the only action HMS Dreadnought saw during World War I was with a submarine.The German submarine U-29 surfaced in front of her in the Pentland Firth, north of Scotland, on March 18, 1915. Dreadnought rammed the submarine and sank it with all hands.

“Dreadnought battleships met in combat only once, at the Battle of Jutland during World War I. Ironically, HMS Dreadnought herself did not take part. The battle was fought between the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, and the German Navy's High Seas Fleet, commanded by Admiral Reinhard Scheer. The Royal Navy was blockading the North Sea to starve Germany of essential supplies and also to prevent the German navy from breaking out into the Atlantic where it could attack British merchant shipping. At the end of May 1916, a group of German battlecruisers ventured out into the North Sea to lure British ships out where the German fleet would be waiting for them. The German navy expected to be fighting only a small number of British ships. However, the British had learned that 40 German warships had left port and so they mobilized the entire Grand Fleet.

“On the afternoon of May 31, a British force of 151 ships including 28 battleships met a German force of 99 ships with 16 battleships.

“The German ships scored first, sinking three British ships. The British had more success in the engagements that followed. 1he fighting went on into the night until, under cover of darkness, the German ships returned to port. The Royal Navy had lost 14 ships and more than 6,000 dead. Germany lost 11 ships and more than 2,500 dead. Both sides claimed victory. The British had lost more ships and suffered higher casualties, but they retained control of the North Sea and stopped the German fleet from breaking out.

“After World War I, Germany was prevented from building new warships by the Treaty of Versailles. Britain, impoverished by the war, could not afford a new warship construction program and looked likely to be overtaken by other countries. However, none of the other major naval powers relished the vast expense of building new fleets. Consequently, the Washington Naval Treaty, signed in 1922 by the United States, Britain, Japan, France and Italy, limited the numbers, types and sizes of warships that could be built. In addition, the treaty required most of the old dreadnought-type ships to be scrapped. HMS Dreadnought herself had already been sold for scrap the previous year.”

Fifty Ships that Changed the Course of History
author: Ian Graham  
title: Fifty Ships that Changed the Course of History  
publisher: Firefly Books  
page(s): 130-133
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2106623 2024-04-29T04:48:20Z 2024-04-29T20:58:27Z The 7 Strangest Coincidences in the Laws of Nature
To cite the title of her first book, Sabine Hossenfelder may be "Lost in Math." 

tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2106279 2024-04-27T06:04:58Z 2024-05-04T21:13:12Z On Beethoven's *Ode To Joy*

Ode to Joy
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2105943 2024-04-25T12:40:23Z 2024-04-25T12:40:23Z Delanceyplace: Why Sharks Matter

Today's encore selection -- from Why Sharks Matter by David Shiffman. Shark biodiversity and biogeography:
"According to the latest edition of the field guide Sharks of the World, there are 536 recognized species of sharks. They range in size from the dwarf lanternshark, which could fit in your hand, to the school bus­-sized whale shark. Many -- like the sandbar shark (#BestShark) -- have the particularly sharky shape you're familiar with from movies or from visiting your local aquarium, but some, like the angel shark, are flat and capable of burying themselves in the sand to wait for prey. Some deep­-sea weirdos like the frilled shark are almost snake-like in appearance and movement. Many are gray or brown in color; some are blue; some, like the goblin shark, can be bubblegum pink. Some sharks have beautifully elaborate patterns of stripes or spots. Some are sleek, like the shortfin mako shark, which is among the fastest animals in the world. Others, like the angular roughshark, have just about the least hydrodynamic shape I can imagine: they look like the ocean's overinflated footballs.

"Recognizable sharks have been swimming in the ocean for more than 400 million years. This means that the first shark was on Earth not only well before dinosaurs trod the land but before trees existed. Though we've lost many species over the eons, sharks as a group have survived every mass extinction event in Earth's history -- which makes the conservation challenges they've faced in the past 50 years all the more heartbreaking. While we're talking about ancient sharks, let me assure you that, no, the giant and ancient megalodon is not still alive. It is definitely super-duper extinct. People claiming otherwise are lying to you, for reasons that remain unclear to me despite a decade of refuting this really strange folk legend. I've received death threats from people who believe I am part of a global conspiracy to hide the truth about megalodon. Once I even interacted with someone online who emphat­ically made the bizarre and obviously false claim that she had seen the US government rounding up and killing megalodons -- and that she had barely escaped with her life once the shark-killing soldiers spotted her.

"Sharks' habitats are as diverse as the animals themselves. Some sharks are found on coral reefs, while others, like the Greenland shark, are found under Arctic ice. (Fun fact about Greenland sharks: they have been found with digested polar bear and reindeer meat in their stomachs. These are probably the remains of scavenging animals that drowned, but I enjoy imagining a polar bear getting slurped from below as it swims between ice floes.) Some sharks live in the open ocean, where they'll never see a hard surface their entire lives. Some sharks live in the deep sea, where it's so dark that sunlight never reaches. The megamouth shark, a deep-sea animal with the world's coolest scientific name -- Megachasma pelagios, which means 'the giant mouth of the deep' -- has bioluminescent gums that entice prey to swim right into its mouth.

"US Navy Seals jokingly say that you can test whether there are sharks nearby by dipping your finger in the water and tasting it -- if it's salty, there are probably sharks around. While technically accurate -- there are sharks just about everywhere there's ocean -- the implication is incom­plete, because there are also sharks that live in fresh water. No, I'm not just referring to the bull shark, which Discovery's Shark Week program­ming wrongly claims year after year is the only shark that can enter fresh water. I'm also talking about Glyphis sharks, sometimes known as river sharks, which live almost their entire lives in fresh water. Unfor­tunately, river sharks are some of the most critically endangered sharks in the world, in no small part because they live closer co humans than ocean-dwelling sharks do.

Speartooth shark (Glyphis glyphis) at the Melbourne Aquarium

"What we already know about shark biodiversity is amazing, but it's what we don't know yet that many attendees at my public talks find shocking. We are still discovering new species all the time. A new species of chondrichthyan fish is discovered about every two weeks. Some of them get tons of media attention, like a new species of 'walking shark,' so called because they can crawl on their fins out of water for shore peri­ods of time, or a new species of dogfish named after shark science legend Genie Clark (Genie's dogfish, Squalus clarkae). Others are little known outside of science nerd circles. There's plenty left to discover. (But no, that doesn't mean that megalodon is still hiding out there.)

"Unfortunately, the threats these species face are as diverse as their habitats and color patterns, which means that there's no one-size-fits-all solution. For instance, creating no-fishing zones is less helpful to a spe­cies that moves around a lot and spends limited time in protected areas. Nor is a ban on selling shark fins especially useful for the many species killed for reasons having nothing to do with their fins. Generally speak­ing, any solution to a complex worldwide conservation problem simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker is perhaps too simple to be helpful."

Why Sharks Matter: A Deep Dive with the World's Most Misunderstood Predator
author: David Shiffman  
title: Why Sharks Matter: A Deep Dive with the World's Most Misunderstood Predator  
publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press  
date: 2022 Johns Hopkins University Press  
page(s): 15-17
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2105771 2024-04-24T14:00:03Z 2024-05-03T19:06:05Z The Second Deepest Place On Earth

Today's selection -- from The Underworld by Susan Casey. The Tonga Trench:

“[If the island of] Tonga lacks in terrestrial heft, its surrounding waters are magisterial. To sail 180 miles south from the capital city of Nuku'alofa, on Tongatapu, is to find yourself floating atop thirty-five thousand feet of unquiet ocean above a seabed laceration known as the Horizon Deep. It's the deepest point in the 850-mile-long Tonga Trench, and the world's second-deepest spot, period—just a whisper shy of the Mariana Trench's Challenger Deep. You won't read about it in tourist brochures, but Tonga's ultradeep realm is one of the wonders of the underworld.

“In a contest of extremes, the Tonga Trench and the Mariana Trench are well matched. They're the inverted summits of Hades—a regal pair of forbidding destinations, as implacable as interstellar space. Like all hadal trenches they were created by subduction: as one tectonic plate dives beneath another, that collision bends the downgoing plate, forming a deep, V-shaped trench. There are approximately twenty-seven hadal trenches in the ocean, twenty-three of

which are located on the Ring of Fire, the belt of subduction zones around the Pacific margin. Only four of these trenches plunge below ten thousand meters (32,800 feet)—the Mariana, Tonga, Kermadec, and Philippine—and though they're well hidden from us, these titans are among the earth's most dramatic features.

The Tonga Trench constitutes the northern half of the Tonga-Kermadec subduction system, which extends 2,550 km (1,580 mi) between New Zealand and Tonga.

“The Mariana Trench has starred in undersea horror movies, but the Tonga Trench is scarier, and that's before you factor in the eight pounds of plutonium in its depths, jettisoned during the aborted Apollo 13 mission. It's steeper, more severe, more seismically volatile-busier. At the Tonga Trench's north end, the Pacific plate is subducting beneath the Australian plate at the startling rate of nine inches per year. Nowhere else is a tectonic plate being gobbled with such relish, seamounts and volcanoes ingested like dinner rolls. It's a buffet of geological havoc.

“Every so often the Tonga Trench gets indigestion and belches out an earthquake from way down in the mantle: a majority of the world's deepest quakes originate there, rumbling hundreds of miles beneath the seabed. In 2009, a slab of the Pacific plate cracked as it was being subducted, and the Tonga Trench roared. A magnitude 8.1 earthquake triggered two magnitude 7.8 earthquakes, and all three earthquakes shook simultaneously, generating tsunami waves that ravaged Tonga and Samoa.

“As an encore, one of Tonga's seafloor volcanoes burped up a new island, more than two miles long and a half mile wide, now known as Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai. (In January 2022, this same volcano would be historical in its fury, unleashing an eruption that blasted steam and ash thirty-six miles up into the mesosphere, created a two-hundred-and-ninety-foot tsunami at its epicenter, and sent shock waves around the globe.) In 2019, another Tongan island called Lateiki disappeared into the depths during a submarine eruption, only to pop up again in a slightly different location."

The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean
author: Susan Casey  
title: The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean  
publisher: Doubleday  
page(s): 117-119
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2105041 2024-04-21T00:55:05Z 2024-04-21T00:55:05Z Anglish: English Without the "Foreign" Bits
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2104896 2024-04-20T05:00:44Z 2024-04-20T05:00:44Z Roman Words We Use Today
tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2103398 2024-04-13T19:34:52Z 2024-04-13T19:34:53Z Why Does Everything Decay Into Lead?