July 31, 1943: Death of Private Petrarca


Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

It is a trite but true observation that war brings out the very worst and the very best in men.  In the category of very best, sacrificial courage has to be high on the list.  Such was displayed by Private Frank J. Petrarca on three occasions in the bitter fighting on New Georgia in the Solomon Islands.  One of ten children he had attended parochial school before following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a carpenter.  In October 1940 he enlisted in the Army.  On July 27, 1943 he began displaying a courage that was rare even in the Pacific theater where, as Admiral Nimitz stated, valor was a common virtue.  Here is his Medal of Honor Citation: (more…)

Published in: on July 31, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 31, 1943: Death of Private Petrarca  
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Custer the Goat


George Armstrong Custer established a record that is still talked about at West Point.  He graduated dead last in his class of 1861, 34th out of 34.  This made him the class goat. He also compiled more demerits for misconduct than any other cadet who went on to graduate.

Interestingly enough, being the class goat is considered almost an honor at West Point.  At graduation ceremonies the goat always receives the loudest cheers when his name is announced to receive his diploma.  More than a few goats have attained the rank of general, military life and war often requiring qualities and abilities that are difficult to test in the classroom.

So it was with Custer.  Within two years of graduation he was a brigadier general of volunteers.  By the end of the Civil War he was commanding a cavalry division with the rank of major general of volunteers.  Custer’s defeat at the Little Big Horn in 1876 gained him immortality, but also an undeserved reputation as a brave bumbler.  Actually Custer was a skilled commander of troops, as his record in the Civil War amply demonstrates.  Not bad for a goat.


Published in: on July 30, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Custer the Goat  
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Milton Friedman on Slavery and Colonization

Slavery and colonization bulk large in the period of American history covered by this blog, so I thought our readers might like to hear Milton Friedman’s views on these topics.  (For people who had the good fortune not to live in the Seventies, yes many people on college campuses did really dress like Mr. Friedman’s interlocutor, and yes more than a few college students did go around chanting half-baked Marxist cliches, which, unfortunately has come back into fashion as of late.)

Published in: on July 29, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Milton Friedman on Slavery and Colonization  
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Vacation 2019


Something for the weekend:  Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer (1963) sung by Nat King Cole.  I am on vacation with my family until August 4. My internet connection in the coming week will range from intermittent to non-existent. That is now by choice.  In the past it was not, but now with ubiquitous wi-fi, portable ipads and kindles, that is no longer the case, and, truth to tell, it hasn’t been for the last several years.  I will have posts for each day I am away on the blog, but if something momentous occurs, for example:  Elvis is discovered working at a Big Boy’s in Tulsa, the Pope issues a Bull against blogging as a complete waste of time, or Trump  and Ilhan Omar  have a fist fight on the White House steps, I trust that this post will explain why I am not discussing it.

First, up to Kenosha, Wisconsin with a visit to my bride’s mother.  We have been doing this since the birth of the twins and it has always been a fun family gathering.  I heartily recommend both the Kenosha Civil War Museum and the Milwaukee Zoo  Then it is back home next Tuesday for an overnight pit stop.


Then on to GenCon 52 over in Indianapolis, with a brief stop in Urbana on the way for a bankruptcy hearing.  (Yes, the law mines do have a habit of intruding on vacations!)


My bride and I have only been attending since 1986, my bride missing 1991 when she was heavily pregnant with our twins.  (I made a 300 mile one day dash to the Convention that year through continual thunder storms by myself, one of the more foolish actions of my life.)


If any of you are close to Indianapolis and you have never attended, it is worth a drive to see tens of thousands of role players, board gamers and computer gamers in Congress assembled.  If nothing else you will go home reassured as to how comparatively normal you are.  Last year’s attendance was in excess of 61,000 and there are multitudes of gaming related events.

A good week albeit somewhat tiring, but I can rest in the law mines after I get back!

Published in: on July 27, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Vacation 2019  
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You Have to Love Buzz Aldrin


Aldrin shot down two MIGs in combat in the Korean War, and he earned two Air Force Service Medals, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and three Air Medals  during his career.  As An astronaut he risked his life time after time on beyond cutting edge technology.  Post his NASA career he had a problem with depression and alcoholism and quit drinking for good in 1978.  He was 72 when he punched the obnoxious lunatic, who accused him of being a coward, in the above video.

Published in: on July 26, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on You Have to Love Buzz Aldrin  
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Apollo 11 Press Conference

The post flight press conference of Apollo 11 conducted on August 12, 1969.

Published in: on July 25, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Apollo 11 Press Conference  
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July 23, 1969: Preparing for Landing


Fifty years ago was a relatively quit day on Columbia as the crew prepared for the splash down the next day.  It gave the astronauts time to contemplate the remarkable events they had been through, something that was mentioned in the telebroadcast from Columbia on July 23.

Published in: on July 23, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 23, 1969: Preparing for Landing  
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July 22, 1969: Heading Home

On July 22, 1969 the engines of the Columbia were fired to begin the trip back to Earth, the Columbia leaving lunar orbit with a speed of 3600 miles per hour.  About 15 hours later a mid course correction was made to keep the Columbia on track back to Earth.


Published in: on July 22, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 22, 1969: Heading Home  
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July 20, 1969: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.




Fifty years ago on July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to land a  craft on the moon.  As the Eagle descended from Columbia, Armstrong noted that the projected landing site was strewn with boulders, and he began maneuvering the craft to find an area clear of boulders. The Eagle landed in a clear patch with 90 seconds of propellant left.

Two and a half hours later, before they went outside, Aldrin made this statement:  This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.  A Presbyterian, Aldrin then ate bread and drank wine in a Presbyterian communion service, the wine and bread having been prepared by his pastor.  NASA, afraid of atheist law suits, requested that Aldrin not broadcast what he was doing, and he did not.

Armstrong and Aldrin were scheduled to sleep for five hours before leaving Eagle and walking on the Moon.  They realized that efforts to sleep would be futile, and they began preparations immediately for their Moon walk.  Tomorrow would be a big day for them.

Published in: on July 20, 2019 at 5:45 am  Comments Off on July 20, 1969: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.  
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Clair de Lune



Something for the weekend.  Clair de Lune (1905) by Claude Debussy.


Published in: on July 20, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Clair de Lune  
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