You are currently browsing the archive for the History category.

Here’s what I wrote on that day, mis-spellings and all:
“This is one of those days I shall always remember — D Day. The invasion of western Europe has finally begun between the towns of Le Harve, Cherbourg and extending down the penninsula. This day marks the most terrific and the most men used in one attact in the history of the World!! Thousands of airoplanes were used and it is said that more bombs were dropped today than in the entire 6 months of bombing by the Germans on London.”

This is from the comment section of the NYT article today by David Brooks titled “It’s Not About You”. It’s a comment by a William Taylor of Nampa, ID, and it rang a bell with me.

As Robert Cole pointed out in his “Habits of the Heart” America entered its individualist era during the early to mid eighteen-hundreds, as documented by de Alexis de Tocqueville in his famous book chronicaling his journey among the American people. The visitor from France wondered what would happen. I think he is the one who first coined the word “individualism,” describing a pattern in which the horizon is finally reduced to “me.”

The main thing lost due to the triumph of individualism has been a sense of the common good. Democrats still have some allegiance to the idea, as illustrated by their continued concern for social welfare and the supportive role of government. The Republicans (David Brooks is a good example) have always been suspicious of this idea, but their almost religious individualism really took over with Reagan and now reigns supreme thanks to the libertarians and the Tea Party. The Ryan budget is a good example of individualism’s rotten fruit.

In philosophy, they talk about a “reductio ad absurdum,” the condition that exists when the fallacy of an idea finally reaches its ultimate point of absurdity. With the ongoing financial debacle…the loss of cheap oil…and climate change, we face huge problems that can only be solved when “I” becomes a “we.” The prognosis is not good.

That’s right. The prognosis is not good.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ah, the exciting Minimos Users Symposium of 1989 in all it’s glory! Can you identify the participants? I see me! Second from right standing, with Wilfred Haensch behind me to my left.

Can you identify the seated front row people? Let us begin with Martin Thurner on the left. Then comes Johann Nittmann, manager of the CEC and looking quite chipper. Beside him sits the lovely Romy Maier, the office secretary and consultant for those new to Vienna. Beside Romy of course sits the great Professor Siegfried Selberherr, inventor of Minimos! And then comes the fun guy, Willie Curran who handles all the business relationships. Wonder where he is now? Beside Willie sits someone I can’t recognize, and then comes someone I can recognize but can’t think of his name. As I remember, he was a friendly fun guy.

Where are they now? After 21 years…

Tags: , , , , ,

I can’t believe this! This here blog of mine is being inundated with Pearl Harbor searchers. Over 350 visitors so far today. Of course none of them leaves a comment. But that’s OK.

Did I say in this blog somewhere where I was on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th, 1941? Maybe I did mention it, and of course I have other stuff on that “Day of Infamy” on this blog that evidently people are finding.

Anyway, I remember being in our living room in our little house in Westford, Mass., and hearing H. V. Kaltenborn report the “dastardly attack” by those Japs on Pearl Harbor. My mother was there with me in front of our big old radio in the corner of our living room. My father came home later and I believe we were still listening.

UPDATE: I checked my own blog here and I see that I had links to recordings of people on the street and some photos. This was just two years ago today, December 7, 2007. This can be found easily using the Archives feature on this blog, that is, if anyone gives a shit. aHaHaHaHa

I still remember that old song, “Remember Pearl Harbor!” that was popular during the 1940’s. It keeps running through my head even to this day. Amazing, eh? aHaHaHaHa

Tags: , , ,

This story took place 70 years ago today, March 25, 1939.

A boy of 10 asked his mother if he could stay up and listen to Tom Mix.
She said, “Well, OK, but you must go to bed right away afterwards.”

The boy enjoyed the cowboy western and then went happily off to bed.

He had a cozy room above the front door overlooking the street in this mid-19th century house with ell containing a kitchen and woodshed. A large barn was attached to the ell.

The boy lived in the house with his mother and father and sometimes his grandfather. On the evening of March 25th the father was away shopping in Lowell – the house was in Westford, Mass. – and the grandfather was away visiting the boy’s aunt. So, the boy was alone with his mother in the big house.

The boy had just dozed off to sleep when suddenly there was his mother shaking him and saying, “I smell smoke! I think the house is on fire!”

She grabbed the boy’s hand, pulled him out of bed, and dragged him bumpity-bump down the stairs and out into the street. There he could see smoke curling up from the ell and maybe some flames too.

May Day! May Day!! Yes, it was May Day, the town librarian who next grabbed his hand and began pulling him – red queen-like — toward the library just beyond a neighboring house. The boy tried to resist, but May Day was strong and tough, and she shushed him like she did unruly youths in her library.

Before he knew it, the boy was alone in the library. May Day told the boy in no uncertain terms to stay put before she and the library patrons dashed back outside to watch the fire. But the boy could see his house clearly, especially its barn, from the reading room windows, and besides, it was warmer inside the library than out – he had his pajamas on of course – so he did stay put.

By now there was considerable commotion out in the street and around his house. He hoped there were fire engines there although he couldn’t see any from the library. He began to see smoke rising from the barn, and then, whammo!, all of a sudden the barn burst into flame, quite literally becoming a fireball, even though this was indeed before the invention of the atom bomb. The boy thought, “Oh dear, I don’t think they’re going to put this fire out!”, and for the first time he became really worried and a little frightened.

It was about this time he realized he needed to “go to the bathroom”. What bathrooms? he thought. He rushed around the first floor of the library but didn’t see any men’s room signs. However, he noticed heating registers in the corners on the floor of the reading room. Hmmm, how convenient and nobody’s here, he thought. For many years thereafter the boy’s Uncle Gordon was want to make jokes about how the boy “peed down the register” in the library while his house was burning down. The boy never should have bragged about it!

Well, to make a long story short, they finally managed to put out the fire with half of the house and the entire barn burned to the ground. It seemed that hoses got tangled, or didn’t fit or something, and water ran out, etc., but eventually the volunteer force got the blaze under control. One of the firemen said later, “Well, we saved the cellar hole!”

The boy’s father came back from Lowell seeing hoses on the street leading to where? To his very own house! One can imagine how he felt.

The boy’s uncle Morton took him and his mother and father – he was an only child — to Concord to spend the night at his house, and uncle Morton presented the boy with a used bike which made him happy. He remembers trying it out that very night, or maybe it was the next night.

The little family spent the spring and part of the summer in a little camp on Lake Mattawanikee, also known as Forge Pond, while a new house was being thrown together using cheap hurricane lumber at the site of the old house. The famous New England hurricane had occurred the previous year.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Forty five years ago this day, August 28, 1963, it was, I have a dream!:
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, We are Free At Last!!!
Barack, this is your moment!

Tags: , , ,

I watched most of Bill Moyers’ interview with Andrew J. Bacevich last evening. What an eye-opener! I’d been aware of a lot about Bacevich (see my post from last year) but had never known what he looks like nor witnessed his strong personality in a video before.

I would sum up what he is saying as follows: we have become an imperial nation over the past thirty years because of the combination of our naivety and hubris about “freedom” and our craven commercialism.

A small group of us at the top has led the way into this economic, political and military pickle we’re now in, and he blames Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II all about equally, except of course that Bush II has really accelerated our decline, but we, the American people as a whole, bear equal responsibility for being oblivious and allowing this nonsense to go on. You could blame the media too.

He feels that no matter who is elected president, Obama or McCain, nothing much will change because we are already far down the road with this imperial state and certainly Obama does not appear to have deviated much from the status quo, evidence for this being he does not list Andrew J. Bacevich among his advisers.

Bacevich is a Professor of International Relations at Boston University, retired Army colonel, and West Point graduate who served in Vietnam and retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of colonel. He’s come out with a new book, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, which Moyers referred to in his interview with Bacevich.

He invokes Reinhold Niebuhr, that famous intellectual American theologian of the 20th century, in this paragraph given by Moyers from the first chapter of The Limits of Power:

The United States today finds itself threatened by three interlocking crises. The first of these crises is economic and cultural, the second political, and the third military. All three share this characteristic: They are of our own making. In assessing the predicament that results from these crises, THE LIMITS OF POWER employs what might be called a Niebuhrean perspective. Writing decades ago, Reinhold Niebuhr anticipated that predicament with uncanny accuracy and astonishing prescience. As such, perhaps more than any other figure in our recent history, he may help us discern a way out.

So what should we do on Nov. 4? I’d say hold your nose and vote for Obama. Here’s a paragraph from a comment by PacificCoastRon on Steve Clemons’ blog:

So: oppose Obama all you want up til Nov. 3rd, criticize him, hold him up to higher standards, advocate for the revolution you’d like to see, and call out the Democrats for the cowardly leeches that most of them are. But hold your nose to make sure you vote for him on Nov. 4th (or earlier if you can vote by mail), and get all your friends to vote for him, and get all your friends to make sure the Republicans don’t steal it again. then on Nov. 5th you can go back to being disappointed in Obama, and in pressuring him and criticizing him with all your might to guide him towards your vision of utopia.

The alternative, John McCain, is unthinkable.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A number of weeks back, in mid-February in fact, I caught a person named Mark Perry on C-Span II talking about his new book, Partners in Command: George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower in War and Peace. This takes you back to World War II and the efforts to stop Hitler. It seems that Perry thinks highly of both Marshall, a great leader, and Eisenhower, who later became President, and perhaps is best remembered for his warning us about the Military-Industrial complex. The warning wasn’t heeded of course.

But what I’m leading up to is in Perry’s talk, which can be found here, he does not have very much nice to say about war. In fact, at one point he admits that he would now pull all our troops home from overseas spots around the world, and greatly reduce the size of the Military-Industrial complex which, as he says, is way too bloated.

So, here’s basically a conventional military historian saying we should emulate the Ron Pauls, Denis Kucinichs, and Mike Gravels of the world in terms of foreign policy. Pretty radical for an apparent centrist. Of course, this is all in a dream world and won’t happen — I mean the bringing back of our troops from around the world and the slashing of the size of the Pentagon.

Over and out.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Juan Cole posts a great visual history of Middle Eastern empires beginning about 1800 BC. This is the YouTube version of the Maps of War with a neat musical accompaniment add-on:


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The above poem, Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley is perhaps appropriate, as Juan points out.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Go IRV Go!!

No, I haven’t flipped out and gone for Irving Kristol, considered the founder of American neoconservatism, for president. Instead I’m going for IRV, or Instant Runoff Voting!

Many places in the world use IRV now, including even a few places here in America. For example, Aspen, Colorado, and Sarasota, Florida, as Hendrik Hertzberg points out, have become the latest jurisdictions to adopt it.

Hendrik has a nice discussion on his blog of the effects of IRV in the recent elections in Australia. The Green Party there got 7.7% of the vote which because of IRV helped push the leading Labor Party over the top for the win.

Just the opposite of course occurred in America in 2000: Ralph Nader’s Green Party with 2.7% of the vote sank the candidacy of Al Gore. Here’s the way Hendrik describes it:

For the past seven years, Americans (and the world) have been suffering from the head-pounding hangover of that 2.7 per cent: President George W. Bush. Even though a clear majority of us—51 per cent—wanted a left-of-center government, we got, with the help of a little nudge from the Supreme Court, a very, very right-of-center one.

Thanks Ralph!

« Older entries