Friday, August 28, 2015

The Doobie Brothers Behind The Music

There are a few things I didn't know about the Doobie Brothers.  They are a band which formed in San Jose and made their debut in the 70s playing the local club scene.  The originally called themselves PUD.  They then hit upon a regular club in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Chateau Liberte, which was a Hells Angels Biker Club hang out. Their early sound was geared to this population.  A demo tape earned them a contract with Warner Brothers.  They couldn't continue with their original name, and came up with Doobie Brothers, which basically means marijuana joint brothers.  They released their first album, which really wasn't a success.  This resulted in their back to the club scene, and adding a few new members.  Over the years the members of the band have changed several times.  They came up with their first hit single by listening to the radio.  "Listen to the Music" written by Pat Simmons took off and the rest is history, with many bumps along the way.  One of the band members, Bobbie Lakind, succumbed to heroine addiction and colon cancer.  Other band members also had substance abuse issues.  The band disbanded at one point, and subsequently has come back together.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Adair Iowa: Site of First Successful Train Robbery

Site of the first train robbery in the Western United States was in Iowa in 1873.  This was conducted by the James Younger gang and resulted in the death of the engineer.  Wikipedia tells the story briefly: On July 21, 1873, the gang carried out its first train robbery, derailing a locomotive of the Rock Island Railroad near Adair, Iowa. Engineer John Rafferty died in the crash. The outlaws took $2,337 (equivalent to $38,000 in 2015[3]) from the express safe in the baggage car, having narrowly missed a transcontinental express shipment of a large amount of cash.

The track goes through a narrow wooded gorge.  It would have been easy to ambush.
This pictures is taken from a bridge which was not there in 1873.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Documentary Review: Lee & Grant

Lee & Grant, History Channel (2011)

This is a made for History Channel Documentary and includes the typical methods of the History Channel for telling the story.  It is narrated by Jonathan Frakes.  They have re-enactors as well as professionals telling the story and offering their opinions.  The re-enacting is very gruesome and very bloody.  However it does a good job of telling the story, up until July 4, 1863.  I guess it concludes that even though the war would continue for a couple years more, it was pretty much done then.  We don’t even get where Grant and Lee confronted each other directly.  I like the story of the childhoods of each of the men.  Grant had a great love for horses, and was only a mediocre student at West Point.  However he did make his mark in the Mexican American War.  I think the stuff about his alcohol usage was over played, but this was the fault of the newspaper media of the time.  Abraham Lincoln was always a Grant supporter because he actually won battles.  During the early part of the war, he was the only general winning battles.  Lee on the other had, could not afford to lose battles, and he did.  It was the Confederate loss at Gettysburg, and the Union victory at Vicksburg upon which the movie concluded that all was down hill for the Confederacy after this point and the fate of the war was decided.  

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Documentary Review: Hiroshima: BBC History of Worlld War II

Hiroshima: BBC History of the World War II, BBC (2005)
This is a very good documentary of the first and second atomic bombings in Japan.  It explores the reason for the bombs very well.  The Japanese refused to surrender when given the chance, even of only the a military surrender.  The Japanese were training their civilians to become human bombs.  They death toll of a U.S. invasion of the Japanese mainland would have been horrendous, for both the Japanese and the Americans.
The film also gives the argument against the use of the bomb, contending it was an experiment at the expense of the Japanese as no one knew the effects the bomb would have although they did know there was radiation.  The first third explores preparation.  One thing I did not know is the things what had to be done to the bomb in flight.  First it was not loaded with the TNT charges that would start the chain reaction until after the bomb was in the air.  Then there were three fuses which had to be put in place, after that the bomb was live.
August 6 the bomb was dropped.  After the bomb was dropped, it was 45 seconds until it detonated.  That is how much time the Enola Gay had to get away.  At the same time there were two other plains, one filming and the other of scientist testing that also had to make sure they were not too close.
The devastation from the bomb was terrible.  The immediate area was incinerated.  There were survivors at a bank only 250 yards from the epicenter of the blast that survived because of the strength of the building.  However most in the area perished, some vaporized.  Others were turned to charcoal.  The other immediate consequence was a flash cloud, which destroyed most everything in its path as it blew everyone, and everything over.  This effect was prevalent for over a mile radius from the epicenter.  Walls and buildings became deadly debris.  People were blown over like a ball that was thrown.
The after effects of the bomb were horrendous.  Many were thirsty because of the effects of the heat.  It started to rain a black sludge.  Many drank this.  However it had deadly effects as it was full of radiation.  This radiation caused people to decay away from the inside.  Many vomited brown liquid, which were their decaying internal organs.  The death was terrific.
As the Japanese did not yet surrender, Nagasaki was also bombed three days later.  Finally the Japanese, still torn as many had the attitude  better to die than surrender, the question was  put to the emperor, who decided the suffering should stop.  Victory in Japan had finally been achieved.

Book Review: Ancient Ruins of the Southwest: An Archeological Guide

Ancient Ruins of the Southwest by David Grant Noble, Northland Publishing, Flagstaff Arizona, 1991.
This book, although a bit dated is a good reference guide to Native American ruins and other artifacts in the states of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.  In each chapter it gives a brief synopsis of what is to see in a particular site.  It divides the book into ancient American Indian types: Hohokam, Anasazi, Sinagua and pueblos and missions of New Mexico.  Of particular interest are Hovenweep in Utah,  Mesa Verde in Colorado, and the National Monuments in Arizona.
This book does not cover the Freemont nor the Ute Indians of Utah and is lacking in this regard.