Truman Warns Japan to Surrender

The above was filmed on June 7, 1945.  In July the Army Air Corps dropped sixteen million leaflets on Japanese cities warning the Japanese to evacuate their cities.  The leaflets varied, but the message in Japanese on the leaflets was substantially as follows: (more…)

Published in: on July 30, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Truman Warns Japan to Surrender  
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North America: 240 Years in Four Minutes

 

Quite a bit of stability in the map of North America since the 19th century, a testament to how peaceful the area has been, other than internal strife in Mexico in the first third of the 20th century, and internal strife in Central America in the seventies and the eighties.

 

 

Published in: on July 27, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on North America: 240 Years in Four Minutes  
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Action of July 24, 1945

One of the last naval actions in the Pacific War, the Action of July 24, 1945 was a Japanese victory.  Among the suicide weapons implemented by the Japanese at the end of the War were kaitens, manned torpedoes.  The I-53 was manned with kaitens, and launched six of them on an attack on an American troop convoyed escorted by Destroyer Escort USS Underhill, six sub chasers and a patrol boat.  The Underhill took out two of the kaitens before being sunk by the explosion of the second kaiten, as it was rammed by the Underhill.  The Underhill suffered casualties of 112 killed and 122 wounded.

Published in: on July 24, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Action of July 24, 1945  
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Top Movie Battle Speeches

An interesting list hampered by a narrator who obviously had no depth of knowledge of the films.  (The 54th “Army” instead of the 54th Massachusetts.)

 

Here are some other picks:

 

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9fa3HFR02E (more…)

Published in: on July 23, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments (3)  
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Abraham Lincoln’s Will

300px-JudgeDDavis

 

He didn’t have one, which is curious considering that Lincoln had been an attorney for almost a quarter of a century prior to being elected President.  Mary Lincoln called upon his friend Supreme Court Justice David Davis to act as administrator of the Estate, which he did, charging no fee and asking for no reimbursement for his expenses.

Congress donated the sum of $25,000.00 a years salary, to Lincoln’s family.  The Estate was closed in November 1867 showing a balance of $110,296.80, in today’s cash that would be : $1,750,742.86.  Lincoln’s estate was equally divided between Mary and her two sons.  Mary could have asked for a widow’s cash allowance, but she waived it.

Although Davis agreed to serve as administrator of the Estate he had no high opinion of Mary Lincoln.  In 1873, according to a diary entry of Senator Orville Browning (R. Il.): (more…)

Published in: on July 22, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Of Mockingbirds and Consciences

 

They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.

Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)

(I originally posted this on The American Catholic, and I thought the Literary Mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)

 

As I slave away in the law mines, I take my flashes of amusement where I can find them.  One thing that has often amused me is the bizarre names that people these days often curse their children with.  I often find when questioning the mother that the name was from some television show, film, video or song, often with a spelling variant to ensure that the child will be a special little snowflake and have his or her name misspelled for the remainder of the time God allots the child in this Vale of Tears.

Naming kids after a fictional character has always struck me as bizarre:  real people always being so much more interesting than two-dimensional fictional puppets.

An example of the drawbacks of naming a child after a fictional character has been illustrated this week by an interesting little literary-morality tempest being played out this week.  Harper Lee, a one book wonder, To Kill a Mockingbird, has released another book, Go Set a Watchman.  The story behind this book is perhaps more interesting than the tome itself.  Ms. Lee, 89 years old, lives in an assisted living facility, and is perhaps in her dotage.  Go Set a Watchman was written in 1957, the year of my birth, before To Kill a Mockingbird.  It was rejected by a publisher at the time as showing promise but not ready for publication, an accurate assessment I think.  That the book is now being published 58 years later might cause some to suspect the motivations of those now in control of Ms. Lee’s affairs, since for more than a half century she made no effort to have this early work published.  No doubt a book about the behind the scenes machinations that led to the publication of Go Set a Watchman will be forthcoming eventually, doubtless not written by Ms. Lee, alas.  More on this below the fold, with spoilers in regard to Go Set a Watchman. (more…)

Published in: on July 21, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Of Mockingbirds and Consciences  
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July 20, 1945: Dear Bess

 

Harry Truman was a very happily married man and whenever he was separated from his wife, he would write her chatty letters which are a first rate source of what he was thinking on a particular day.  He wrote this letter after the start of the Potsdam Conference with Stalin and Churchill:

 

Berlin July 20, 1945

Dear Bess:

It was an experience to talk to you from my desk here in Berlin night before last. It sure made me homesick. This is a hell of a place–ruined, dirty, smelly, forlorn people, bedraggled, hangdog look about them. You never saw as completely ruined a city. But they did it. I am most comfortably fixed and the palace where we meet is one of two intact palaces left standing.

Jim Blair came to see me yesterday and had breakfast with me this morning. He is a Lt. Col. and is in charge of food and clean up for American forces here. Said it was the filthiest place he ever saw when he arrived–but it’s clean now.

We had a tough meeting yesterday. I reared up on my hind legs and told ’em where to get off and they got off. I have to make it perfectly plain to them at least once a day that so far as this President is concerned Santa Claus is dead and that my first interest is U.S.A., then I want the Jap War won and I want ’em both in it. Then I want peace–world peace and will do what can be done by us to get it. But certainly am not going to set up another foil here in Europe, pay reparations, feed the world, and get nothing for it but a nose thumbing. They are beginning to awake to the fact that I mean business.

(more…)

Published in: on July 20, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 20, 1945: Dear Bess  
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Manhattan Project Failure

 

Security around the Manhattan Project was quite intense.  No doubt as a result of this Truman assumed that the Soviets had no inkling about the bomb.  Perhaps he was therefore surprised when Stalin had little reaction when Truman at the Potsdam Conference told him that the US had developed an atomic bomb.  Notwithstanding the intense security, the Soviets were kept quite informed about the steps the United States was taking to develop the Atomic Bomb, thanks to various spies and traitors:

1. Klaus Fuchs-A German anti-Nazi refugee to Britain, and a physicist, Fuchs worked at Los Alamos among the elite of the physicists.  A convinced Communist, Fuchs had his information sent on the Soviets, courtesy of Harry Gold.

2.  Harry Gold-An American laboratory assistant, Gold had been passing information to the Soviets since 1934.  Here is his report on his first meeting with Fuchs:

He (Fuchs) obviously worked with our people before and he is fully aware of what he is doing… He is a mathematical physicist… most likely a very brilliant man to have such a position at his age (he looks about 30). We took a long walk after dinner… He is a member of a British mission to the U.S. working under the direct control of the U.S. Army… The work involves mainly separating the isotopes… and is being done thusly: The electronic method has been developed at Berkeley, California, and is being carried out at a place known only as Camp Y… Simultaneously, the diffusion method is being tried here in the East… Should the diffusion method prove successful, it will be used as a preliminary step in the separation, with the final work being done by the electronic method. They hope to have the electronic method ready early in 1945 and the diffusion method in July 1945, but (Fuchs) says the latter estimate is optimistic. (Fuchs) says there is much being withheld from the British. Even Niels Bohr, who is now in the country incognito as Nicholas Baker, has not been told everything.

3.  David Greenglass-A machinist at Los Alamos, he passed information on to his sister Ethel Rosenberg and her husband Julius Rosenberg who passed it on to the Soviets.

4.  Theodore Hall-An American physicist working at Los Alamos.  Perhaps the most important of the atomic spies, beginning in October 1944 he passed on detailed information to the Soviets about the construction of the atomic bomb code-named “Fat Boy”. (more…)

Published in: on July 19, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Manhattan Project Failure  
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The Maid of Monterrey

Something for the weekend.  Almost all Mexican War songs have vanished into historical obscurity.  A possible exception is The Maid of Monterrey.  Written in 1848 by J. H. Hewitt, it was not published until 1851, so its claim to be a Mexican War song, as opposed to a song about the Mexican War, is dubious.  It memorializes a Mexican senorita who tended the wounded of the battle of Monterrey on both sides until she was killed: (more…)

Published in: on July 18, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Maid of Monterrey  
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July 16, 1945: Trinity Test

Batter my heart, three person’d God.

John Donne

At 5:29 AM Mountain War Time, seventy years ago, the first atomic bomb, nicknamed The Gadget, exploded with the force of 20 kilotons of TNT.  The test was called Trinity.  J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, gave the test its name.  He couldn’t recall why he chose the name, but suspected that his interest in some of the religious poetry of John Donne played a role, pointing to the verse at the beginning of this post as a possible source.

A brilliant physicist, Oppenheimer was inclined to be melancholy and had an eclectic interest in religious mysticism, rather at odds with his secular Jewish upbringing and the leftist academic milieu in which he led his life.

His visible reaction to the success of the test was rather prosaic:  “It worked.”

Twenty years later he said this was going through his mind:

I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” I suppose we all thought that, one way or another. (more…)

Published in: on July 16, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 16, 1945: Trinity Test  
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