Saturday, December 31, 2016

Book Review: The Christmas Book: How to Have the Best Christmas Ever

The Christmas Book: How to Have the Best Christmas Ever, Juliana Foster, Scholastic, Inc., New York, 2007.
This book is filled with ideas for a good Christmas, some of which I found helpful but most not.  However the part I liked is the little blurbs about where different Christmas traditions come from.
Santa Clause: Santa evolves from Saint Nicholas, and early Christian priest who was known for giving to others.  It was said he threw money down a chimney which landed in stockings of three young women who did not have money for a dowry.  Santa began to spread as resistance to puritanical movements which wanted to do away with Christmas.  Santa represented the spirit of Christmas.  Washing Irving coined the term Santa Clause as a translation of Sinterklaas.  The poem "A Visit from Saint Nickolas" (now known as "The Night Before Christmas." embedded to definition of Santa Clause in the American character.  Santa has been wearing red since 1885, before Coca Cola's commercials.
Christmas Cards: There are rare wood engravings with Christmas messages from the middle ages; but the extensive use of Christmas cards started in England in 1840.  From there the tradition was introduced to America in 1843, and became very popular by the 1860s.
Christmas Stockings:  Christmas stocking may predate Christmas when German children left hay in their shoes for the god Odin and his hunting party.  As a Christmas tradition it is attributed to Saint Nicholas leaving gifts in stockings hung by the fire to dry.
Christmas Tree:  Here is another tradition that predates Christianity.  In Pagan times evergreens were symbolic of new life.  The first mention of the Christmas Tree is when Saint Boniface cut down an oak tree where a group of pagans were worshipping Thor.  A fir tree grew in its place, and this was proclaimed the symbol of Christianity.  It wasn't until Martin Luther however that the tree was brought indoors.  He was walking through a grove of pines, and observed the starts through the branches, and determined to bring this beauty into his home.  From Germany the tradition spread to England and then the United States.
Caroling: Originally the word caroling meant to dance in a circle with flute music being played.  The were introduced into church services in the 13th century by Saint Francis de Assisi.  The practice of going door to door singing began in Rome.  Wassailing was a practice by which peasants visited feudal lords in exchange for hot punch (wassail) or other favors.
The Yule Log: This tradition is traced to Norsemen.  It coincided with the winter solstice.  A log was cut form an oak.  when the fire was extinguished a small piece of wood was saved to light next year's log.  Ashes were spread on the ground for fertility.
Mistletoe:  Mistletoe again predates Christianity.  It was hung over doorways to ward off evil spirits.  Its evergreen nature is a symbol of prosperity and fertility.  The tradition of kissing is less clear.  However, any young woman under the mistletoe cannot refuse a kiss.  However if unkissed under the mistletoe she will not marry within the year.
Holly and Ivy:  Again these plant predate Christianity in traditions.  The holly (masculine) and ivy )feminine) were used in fertility rites.  Holly was associated with the Roman holiday Saturnalia, which is very similar to Christmas.  Holly is associated with Christ because of the red berries, and sharp edged leaves representing the crown of thorns placed on Christ's head.
There is also a section on traditions from around the world.    Some are quite strange.  In Wales the carry a horse's skull on a stick, and those it touches must pay a fine.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Book Review: In the Dark Streets Shineth

In the Dark Street Shineth, David McCullough, Shadow Mountain Press, Salt Lake City, UT, 2010,
This book is taken from the narration David McCullough provided for the Mormon tabernacle Choir at the Christmas Concert 2010.  He tells the stories of two American Christmas songs, the first being "O Little town of Bethlehem" and the second "I'll be Home for Christmas."  Phillips Brooks wrote "O Little town of Bethlehem" in 1865 after he visited the Holy Land and Bethlehem.  He wrote it as a way to remind himself of his trip.  A few years later he asked Lewis Redner to put the poem to music.  Redner felt like a failure, until Christmas Ee, and the melody came to his mind like a revelation, waking him from his sleep.
In 1841 Winston Churchill crossed the Atlantic to met with President Roosevelt at Christmastime.  This was shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Churchill had made the comment at a Christmas Eve presentation that each home should be a brightly lighted island of happiness and peace.  Then in singing this song a couple days later later at church, he likely was touched by the line, "Yet in they dark streets shineth the everlasting light."
The second song was specifically written for WWII but two song writer Kim Gannon (lyricist) and Walter Kent.  recorded by Bing Crosby, the song was the most popular of the time, and expressed the sentiments of many during the war.  "I'll be home...if only in my dreams.
During this Christmas may we remember the sacrifices of other who have paved a way for us.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Book Review: Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination: J.K. Rowling


Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure by: J.K. Rowling, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2008.
The title of this book says it all.  This is a short book of the commencement address delivered by J.K. Rowling at Harvard University 2008.  She talks about failure vs success, and different definitions for each.  How her greatest fear was to be a failure, and at age 30 most people would have called her just that.  However she is now the author of the most read fantasy books in history.  By imagination, you would think the author of fantasy books would be talking of the ability to write or tell stories or something.  However she is actually talking about the ability of people to empathize with others.   She draws upon her personal experiences working for Amnesty International.  We can feel the pain of other people we have never met.  She feels this is invaluable, and unique to us as humans.   Two quotes with this regard, "They can think themselves into other people's places" vs "They can refuse to know."  Then the conclusion is that "As is a tale so is life: not how long it is but how good it is, is what matters."

Jimmy Stewart ad It's a Wonderful Life

Here is a story I had not heard from the Wall Street Journal.  It's a Wonderful Life was released in 1946 just after WWII.  Bothe Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra, the director, were trying to reestablish themselves after serving during the war.  Jimmy Stewart as a squadron leader of B-24 bombers.  As  result of his service, Stewart was suffering from PTSD and wondering if acting was worth it; had the industry passed him by during the war.   Give the article a read as it is very interesting and insightful.

Article Review: 5 Language Myths Busted

5 Language Myths busted, by Amanda Taylor, Continuum Utah Magazine, Fall 2016.
Language is interesting, and study of language is general can be very interesting.  I took a few linguistics classes at school; so I found this article interesting.  The author bases her article on the work of University of Utah linguist Abby Kaplan.
Myth 1: Being bilingual makes you smarter.  In fact, being bilingual does not make you more or less intelligent.  Although it can have advantages.  You can communicate with more people, enjoy exploring a second culture, and also perhaps have some business advantages.  Bilingualism does offer a broader perspective in knowing more than one name for an object.  One is better able to think and talk about language.  So even if there is no evidence that knowing a second language increases your IQ, the advantages are such that Kaplan says this myth is mostly true.
Myth 2: Adults cannot learn a second language. This is based on anecdotal proof as refugees are observed and the children pick up the new language more quickly.  However this does not mean adults cannot learn a second language.  Children are usually more immersed into the new culture and language, at school and the playground.  Adults have less opportunity.  It is true, that the longer a language is wired, how to move your tongue etc., it can make pronouncing a new language more difficult.  So it may e more  difficult for an adult to learn a new language; but there is not a cut off after which a new language cannot be learned.
Myth 3: French is the most beautiful language.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  It is true the people consider more guttural sounds to not be beautiful.  In this we have the examples of Klingon (from Star Trek) and German.  But the beauty of language is subject to personal opinion, and people usually consider their own language the most beautiful.
Myth 4: Text messaging makes you illiterate.  In this case there is no evidence to support this statement.  Use of abbreviations does not effect the ability to read and write.  Some are common even in formal language.
Myth 5: Women talk far more than men.  Kaplan says the best studies show men and women talk about the same.  There is no proof that women talk more.  They also speak roughly the same way.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Traditions: Stockings

I have seen two explanations for Christmas Stockings.  The first predated Christ, and children would put straw in their socks for some the god Odin's flying horse during his annual hunt.  In return small gifts were left in the shoes.
However I like the second version.  There are several versions of this story, but they all center on Saint Nicholas, and her generous nature.  Some his generosity is general.  He throws coins down chimneys in an effort not to be seen.  Often these coins would fall into stockings or shoes close to the fireplace.  However there is also a more specific story.  In one account there was a gentleman who had three daughters.  He fell on hard times and was broke.  The other account says just that a poor man had three daughters.  The man, whether always poor, or now poor, had no dowry for his daughters, and consequently no hopes of marrying them well.  At that time a dowry was required for a good marriage.  Saint Nichols was always on the look out for situations where he could help.  He had received an inheritance, and spent his life giving it away.  When he became aware of this gentleman he became determined to help, without being discovered.  In one account he sneaks in and places money in to stockings hanging by the fireplace.  In another he throws the coins through the chimney.  Yet in another he brings enough for one dowry on three different nights.  And still another he uses gold ornaments to place in the stockings, thus sparking the tradition of giving a Christmas orange.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Bear Lake Monster

This article from NEWSDAILYREPORT seems to indicate the Bear Lake Monster may be real, and its remains recently discovered.  Going to Scout Camp along the Bear Lake, I was familiar with the legend of the Bear Lake Monster, a creature who came form the lake and most often at sheep.  Of course the local sheep rangers did not care for the animal in their lake, but mostly it kept to itself.  There were reported sitings in early Mormon colonization history.  My grandfather use to haul freight in the area, and when it was iced over would take his wagon over the ice saving much time.  I have never heard nor read anything that he claims to have seen a bear lake monster.
It now appears the carcass of the beast has washed ashore.  It appears to be a sea based animal in appears like a sea fairing creature except when it is too tired.  It very likely is a mesosaur.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Book Review: Let's See Christmas

Let's See Christmas, by Natalie M. Rosinsky, Compass Point Books, Minneapolis, Minn., 2003.

This book is likely geared to the fourth grade reader.  It gives a good description of Christmas and what activities take place for Christmas.  It tells some stories I didn't know, like the Poinsettia coming from Mexico.  We put stockings out because it is said Saint Nicholas threw coins down chimneys which landed in shoes.  We don't know the day of Christ's birth, but the winter was chosen as it was a good time to celebrate.  Nativity's became popular when people didn't read, and the figures were used to tell the story of Jesus' birth.  The gift bringer is different from country to country based on the traditions.  Christmas season can last from early December to mid January.  Carols tell the story of Jesus, and other sing of Santa Claus.  Sending Christmas Cards is a relatively new tradition, catching on in the U.S. after 1875.  Evergreen trees are used as they remind people of spring.    Trees are decorated outdoors (such as the White House lawn) and indoors.

                                                            

Article Review: So I Married a New York Times Bestselling Author (RaeAnne Thayne)

So I Married a New York Times Bestselling Author, by Jared Thayne, UtahState, Winter 2017.
RaeAnne Thayne writes romance novels, and has published several Christmas Romances.  However I am not really into romance, and I must admit I have not read any of her noels that I remember.  However what is intriguing about her story, as told by her husband, is her devotion to her second child, a boy born three weeks early and with serious complications.  He was born in 1997.  He has endured 35 surgeries and medical procedures in his 19 years.  He does not speak, is 100-percent G-J tube fed, suctioned regularly, non-mobile when away from his wheel chair.  He also has a pump and catheter implanted into his stomach to provide continuous muscle relaxing medications.  However he is unable to say where he hurts.  RaeAnne has become fairly adept at narrowing things down.  Still so his care is difficult, and RaeAnne's back can attest to this.  It takes over an hour to get him ready in the morning.
Jared considers RaeAnne an angel; a far more gifted mother and caregiver than New York Times bestselling author.  She keeps detailed records of his medical procedures and medications.  She has been with him in the hospital many times, and knows precisely when to slip in her own shower.  It would seem their son would be a burden, but Jared says he has also brought good into their lives.  This includes friendships and neighbors, boys who volunteer to push his wheel chair, neighbors willing to help out, or lifting or whatever.  Often their are meals made, and neighbors willing to care for the boys.  "Peace and strength can be found among daily challenges.  RaeAnne feels that caring for their son has made her writing more "rich and compassionate".

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Book Review: Holildays and Festivals: Christmas

 Holidays and Festivals: Christmas, by Nancy Dickman, Heinemann Library, Chicago, Illinois, 2011.
This book appears to be geared towards second graders.  It is good to know that there are books about Christmas available.  Of course it is one in a series of books.  This book is very basic.  Christmas is a holiday celebrated by Christians, people who believe Christ is the son of God.  The celebrate by sending cards, decorating, putting up a Christmas tree, going to church, singing carols, giving gifts and getting gifts from Santa Clause.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Article Review: Crusade for a Chief

This article touches on the life of Chief Washakie.  It is written by Jana Bommersbach and appears in the August 2016 of True West magazine.  In 1940, the life of Chief Washakie was the subject of 23 oil paintings by J.K. Ralston.  Chief Washakie is considered the last chief of the Eastern Shoshone.  He was friendly to the Americans, and helped them on many occasions, being credited with saving thousands of lives.  He helped save General George Crook and his men at the battle of Rosebud.  We was given his choice of a location for their reservation.  A federal fort was named for him.  The paintings by Ralston were action paintings.  He painted them in more than forty years after Washakie's death.  He used some of Washakie's grand children as models to tell scenes from the life of Chief Washakie.  The paintings were exhibited in at the Fremont Pioneer Museum in Lander Wyoming.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Book Review: Day of Infamy: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl harbor

Day of Infamy: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, by Walter Lord, Henry Hold and Company, New York, 1957.
I read the 60th anniversary edition.
This book is stuffed full of stories.  The author was able to interview many of the participants, and there by had much information to share.  The downfall of the book, is with this much information it seems to start repeating itself, and it is hard to follow.  The story is told from many different angles, sailors on boats, sailors on leave, captains and admirals trying to get to their boats, Japanese Naval commanders and pilots, and submarine drivers, civilians, spouses of military personnel, local citizens, local Japanese, radar operators, pilots on the ground, and a few in the air, incoming plane pilots (some who were shot down,) those who pass away, and those who swim through oil, and those who are miraculously rescued from ships turned turtle.  This is a book to be devoured this time of year.  The Japanese caused civilian damage much must less than assume the author contends.  Most of the exploding ordnance in populated areas was anti-aircraft fire form the U.S. guns on ships and shore.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Biographical Documentary: Natalie Wood: Too Young to Die

This documentary was a look at the life of Natalie Wood.  It mentioned the controversy surrounding her death, but did not dwell on this, rather focused on her life.  Wood was an actress who was able to go from child star, to adult super star.  This does not happen very often.
She was born of Russian immigrants, Natasha Zakharenko,, and Natalie Wood was her stage name.  She would later name her daughter Natasha.  As a child star, she portrayed the girl who doubts Santa Clause in the "Miracle on 34th Street."  She was often cast as a daughter in films, and was in more than 20 films as a child.  Her mother also promoted her, and taught her how to get rolls by endearing herself to directors or actors.  The documentary shows several excerpts of a childhood friend, who always stayed close to Wood.  His insights were very good, and told how entering the movie business meant several changes she Wood did not necessarily like, name change, residence change etc.  She grew up on studio food and schooling.
Wood's life had some tragedy.  She was raped at age 16 by someone posing as a producer.
However making the transition to adult films required some manipulation.  She was in a car accident, and got a policeman to call her a juvenile delinquent.  Through this she was cast in the teen film "Rebel Without a Cause" with James Dean.  In this roll she won an academy award for best supporting actress.  This was here coming of age movie.
Wood would continue to have problems with relationships.  It was rumored she had relations with directors.  She married Robert Wagner.  And divorced him when she discovered him in bed with another man.  There was a time she only felt she could talk to her analyst.  She even turned down roles which would take her away.
She then married producer Richard Gregson and had her first daughter.  She married when she overheard an inappropriate conversation he had with his secretary.
She would remarry Robert Wagner and they also had a daughter together.  The remained together until her death in 1981.  She drowned.  From a young age Wood had a fear of water, and did not swim.  Somehow she fell from their boat off Catalina Island.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Book Review: Picasso: Museo Picasso de Barcelona

Picasso: Museo Picasso de Barcelona, text by Xavier Costa Clavell, photographic reproductions by Editorial Escudo de Oro, Editorial Escudo de Oro, seventh edition.  This book, written in Spanish, portrays artwork as well as the history of Pablo Picasso.  Born in 1881, in Malaga, Spain, Picasso was drawing and painting before 1890.  Most of his early work was drawings.  However his work was always very advanced.  He had an eye for seeing things clearly.  While he was approaching finals in 1894, his younger sister passed away.  This may have contributed to his entering a blue period of painting.  Much of his work began as sketches, before becoming paintings.  He was in full swing in the blue period by 1901.  From there he moved to a pink period.  In 1906 his style of painting changed again.  This change had French influences.  He began trying to paint more than just a physical representation of things, but began to add interpretation to his painting.  From this he eventually entered into Cubism.  Picasso, also entered an era of pottery and then finally sculpture.
The life of Picasso was influenced by war, and he in fact for a time joined the communist party.  However he was patriotic to country.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review: Native American Chiefs and Warriors

Native American Chiefs and Warriors: History Makers by Stuart A Kallen, Lucent Books, San Diego, CA, 1999.
This book tells Native American history from a Native American view point.  In particular it first gives a general overview, with the theme that Native Americans were only protecting their land from encroaching Whites, which is what happened.
This book particularly talks about several chiefs.  First King Phillip.  King Phillip lead King Phillip's War after his father passed away.  There came a point where he couldn't take the encroachment, and poor treatment of the Pilgrims any longer.  They achieved initial success, but eventually they were overwhelmed, and King Phillip killed and his family sold into slavery.
Chief Pontiac was of the Ottawa Tribe, who were known for their trading, especially with the French.  They were active participants int he French and Indian War, and the loss of the French was especially hard.  When the French refused to support the continued conflict Pontiac and his warriors were sunk.  Pontiac was befriended by the English, and this did him in amongst his people.  He was murdered, and there was no one to avenge his death.
Geronimo was the famous Apache warrior, who kept breaking loss from the reservation and continuing his warring.  He first warred the Spanish, then the Mexicans and finally the Americans.
Crazy Horse was the famous Sioux Chief, who followed his dream telling him to know wear a head dress in to battle, nor paint his horse, nor take spoils.  He lead his people to victory at Little Big Horn but was killed being taken into captivity.
Wilma Mankiller was the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.  She grew up in the San Francisco area during the protest era.  She and her family returned to the reservation after the death of her father.  She met with presidents, and was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Chapter Review: Who is Tokyo Rose

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

The interesting thing I learned from this chapter is that Tokyo Rose was not just one person, but five or six women who announced on Radio Tokyo.  The Japanese goal was to discourage the U.S. soldiers; and in some respects this was accomplished.  However there were those on the radio, who hoped their program on the radio would have the opposite effect.  They would tell inside jokes, and talk quickly so the news could not be understood.  A team of POW's was n the radio and recruited Iva Toguri to join them on the radio.  She too wanted to use the radio to promote the Allied was effort rather than discourage.  Iva was Japanese American, born in Los Angeles.  She would not renounce her U.S. citizenship when she became trapped in Japan when the war started.
When the war was over, two reporters searched out Iva as they were looking for Tokyo Rose.  Iva had never heard of Tokyo Rose, but when is was explained to her that it was the name given to all the Japanese women radio broadcaster by the U.S. soldiers, she took credit for being Tokyo Rose.
As a result she was arrested and imprisoned.  However she was eventually released for lack of evidence.  She returned to the United States.
Thomas DeWolfe was a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's office.  He had reviewed the case, and new there was no case.  However public outcry was persistent.  This included political pressure.  He was ordered to prosecute, and so Iva found herself in court.  Charles Cousens, one of the two radio broadcaster testified and verified Iva's story.  She had no intent to harm the war effort but just the opposite.  However she was found guilty.
She served six years in prison, and was almost deported.  She did lose her citizenship.  Her husband was deported, and their marriage was ruined.  She had been pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1977, and her citizenship restored.  Some members of the jury later regretted that they had been persuaded to go with the majority.  Thomas DeWolfe took his own life three years after the verdict.
Iva Toguri

Chapter Review: The My Lai Massacre: A Light in the Darkness

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

This is a very sad day in U.S. military history.  True it was that the orders were to wipe out everyone in the village of My Lai because they were believed to be harboring The Viet Cong Forty Eighth , which would attack, and then melt into the jungle.  Someone must be helping them.  However, in this case intelligence was faulty.  When Charlie Company attacked the village, they did not find Viet Cong, but took to killing the civilians all the same.  Some even raised their hands in surrender, and were easier prey.  Lieutenant William Calley was leading the killing.  With 200 prisoners lined up in front of a trench, a helicopter pilot, Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, tried to intervene.  However Calley insisted he had his orders.  When the helicopter had taken off, Calley ordered the slaughter.  The continued shooting into the bodies to make sure nothing moved.  A group of Vietnamese holed up in a bunker.  Again they were pursued, but this time Thompson was able to rescue them, he also pulled a living boy from the pile of massacred bodies.
The massacre was covered up.  However the press finally did get a hold of the information.  Captain Medina, who gave the orders got off, having a good lawyer.  Lieutenant Calley was convicted of multiple counts of premeditated murder, but his sentence was commuted by President Nixon.  Hugh Thompson was harassed and threatened with prosecution.  It took thirty years for his bravery to be recognized.  He and his crew received the Soldier's Medal for their actions.
Warrant Officer Hugh THompson

The MIssing 9/11 Terrorist: The Power of Everyday Heroes

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

It may well have been the actions of an Orlando border agent Jose Melendez-Perez, an Army veteran who took protection of the United States seriously.  The individual in question had incomplete documents, and so was interviewed by the agent.  His story did not add up.  He wouldn't say who he was to meet, and how he was getting around with his limited English skills.  He did take the finger prints of Mohammed al Qahtani before denying him entry.  He was given they opportunity to return to Dubai, paying for his ticket back.  Facing this or imprisonment he took the opportunity.
The day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Flight 93 only had four terrorists on board, not five like the other planes.  Perhaps one less man defending the cock pit after taking over the flight is what allowed the heroes aboard Flight 93 to drive it into the ground instead of the intended target in Washington, D.C.
After the attack on Afghanistan, Qatani was captured in the Tora Bora area.  He was identified from the finger prints.  He had not given his name when captured, but the finger prints gave him away.  Qatani ended up at Guantanamo Bay.
There he was subjected to accepted interrogation procedures, restraint on a swivel chair, deprivation of sleep, loud music, prohibition of praying, threats of rendition to countries who use torture.  After a week the interview began.  He was accused of being the twelfth hijacker.  He was asked the location of Bin Laden.  He was accused of wasted the interrogators time, and asked to give one name.  He gave Abu Ahmed al Kuwaite, who taught him internet.
Some months later, that name came up, Sheik Al Kuwaite.  Invasion of the compound where he was located lead to the killing of Bin Laden.
Small things can bring important results.
Jose Melendez-Perez

Chapter Review: The Sabateurs: In a Time of War, the Laws Are SIlent

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

German trained saboteurs to invade the American coast and cause damage to American infrastructure during WWII.  These were generally men who had lived in America and knew the customs and language.  Some did not know what they were getting into.  George Dasch was one of them.  They really were not good learners, nor good spies.  That didn't seem to matter to the Nazis.  They were given specific targets, bridges, railways and factories.  They were headed to America, dropped off by submarine; two groups, four men to New York, Long Island, the other four to Florida.  A National Guard man came upon them as the landed.  They presented as fisherman, without fishing tackle.  The story didn't add up, when they threatened him, he let them go.  They had been given ample money to stay in rich hotels.  George did not intend to carry out sabotage, nor did Peter Berger.
George called the FBI and asked to speak to Herbert Hoover.  His call was handled as a crank call.  He traveled to Washington D.C. where he called the FBI and was put in contact with Duane Traynor to expose the entire operation.  He was sure he would be a hero.  He could take the money and live well.  However, after taking days to explain his case, George was arrested and imprisoned as a spy.  J. Edgar Hoover took credit for breaking the spy ring. The other men were all gathered.  George faced a military tribunal.  However his lawyer was able to appeal his case, George was an American, and entitled to a fair trial.  His case made its way all the way to the supreme court.  The military argued that in time of was, such laws could be suspended with regards to enemy combatants.  The Supreme Court sided with the government, and the military trials preceded.  Six of the eight spies were executed.  George was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Peter to life in prison.
However, even though the Supreme Court had announced its ruling, writing a opinion was harder.  It was not based on sound legal precedent.  Four of the justices were now doubting their ruling.  However six men had been executed.  The opinion, written by Chief Justice Harlan Stone was not written well, but they all signed it.  President Truman granted executive immunity to the two men, and they were shipped back to Germany in 1948.
This case was later used as precedent during the Afghanistan conflict for holding American Citizens as enemy combatants.
George John Dasch

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Great American Documents: Privileges and Perogaties Granted to Columbus 1492.

Before 1492, there was no real written language, and so the Native American citizens of America are not represented.  In other words we do not have documents pertaining to the Iroquois Confederation, or other Native American History.  However this document is the first presented.  After having been refused by Portugal, and Spain at least three times, and while he was preparing to present his idea to France, the Royalty of Spain changed their mind, on a premonition that Queen Isabel had based on the confidence Columbus showed.  Consequently the financed his voyage, borrowing fourteen thousand dollars from the royal treasury, and also bestowing upon Columbus and his heirs the title of Don, and also admiralty to govern whatever islands he may find.  This they made known by this document to all their people and royalty so it would remain in effect.  Columbus set sail in April of 1492, for East Indian; however he would find much more.

Great American Documents, The New Book of Knowledge, Grolier Books, Danbery, CN, 1987.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Chapter Review: The Battle of Wounded Knee: Medals of Dishonor

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

Th Massacre at Wounded Knee is common knowledge to most of us.  But the official Army version is much different from what we know happened.  As a result of the Ghost Dance, the federal forces were on heightened alert.  The intended to arrest Sitting Bull.  However he and two of his sons were killed in the arrest attempt.  Six Native American policemen had also been killed.
Under the command of General Nelson Miles, Major Samuel Whiteside was ordered to find Big Foot and his band and escort them back to reservation.  There worries he might join another group and make a large force together.  Big Foot was not with the original negotiating party.  He was ill.  Whiteside insisted he talk with Big Foot, and he was brought in his sick wagon.  They had no intention of fighting and were willing to be accompanied back to the reservation.  Whiteside put up a loose perimeter, however when he was relieved by Colonel James Forsyth he was ordered to encircle the Indians, and disarm them in the morning.
Disarming was the trick.  At first they asked the Native Americans to bring their guns, and they brought a few.  A search of the tepees garnered about that many more.  Then the started a person inspection and were finding even more.  When a young man who was deaf, was having his weapon taken from him by force, it discharged.  There was a second of silence, then Forsyth gave the order to fire.  That they did, mowing down the warriors, as well as women and children.  The let lose with the Hotchkiss guns, Gatling guns, and the devastation was quick.  However, being in a circle, many of their own bullets his comrades on the other side of the circle.
The frozen bodies left in the snow was a testament to the brutality.  However in the investigation, the government exonerated Forsyth and his men.  Miles brought him up on charges, but the inquiry just said he may have camped too close to the Native Americans, allowing for sabotage, but not giving any clear blame.  In fact, just to prove the troops were not at fault, 20 citations were made for action in this battle.  That is more than are generally given after a battle, let alone a massacre.
To finish the rub, a grandson of Big Foot's actual name (rather than the one given by the Americans) is Chief Spotted Elk.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Chapter Review: The Battle of Athens: Repeated Petitions, Repeated Injuries

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

This is a story that you find hard to believe could happen in the United States, however it is a story of conditions right after WWII that faced some of the returning GI's.  Many areas of the country have political bosses, and such was the case here.  Athens, Tennessee was a rural town.  It had the same Sheriff, Paul Cantrell, for many years.  They insisted on counting the ballots in private, and turned out he always won.  This only changed when he took higher office, but then he placed puppets in his place, using the same routine.  Sheri was paid for how many stayed in jail, so the trumped up the numbers by arresting people for nothing, and beating them if they didn't cooperate.  Some of the local citizens, lead by the retuning GI's who had been the victims of these assaults, decided enough was enough.  The easily had triple the votes of the corrupt Sheriff, who had returned to run again because many were displeased with his replacement.  Only through some shenanigans could the Sheriff win.
They brought in men to intimidate the polls, and even shot a Black man.  However the key as to sneak enough ballots away and count them out of sight.  They did this in the jail.
Bill White had warned to state government and the FBI of the situation in Athens before the election.  However there was no response.  When the Sheriff had taken ballots to count in secret,  action was needed.  They confronted the men in the jail, asking for the ballots.  They were greeted with a couple shot gun blasts.  The battle and siege was on.  The people could rearm themselves, and did so by visiting the local stores.  They men in the jail had no such opportunity.  People were wounded on both sides, but no one died.  However eventually the governor or the National Guard would come to rescue the Sheriff.  Something had to be done.  Bill White had brought dynamite.  It wasn't until the third throw that he got one close enough to take the front off the jail.  The ballots would be counted fairly.  The only person tried as a result of this day was the police man who shot another man keeping him from the ballot box.

Chapter Review: Easy Eddie & the Hard Road to Redemption

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

Easy Eddie was a lawyer.  He became the mob lawyer in Chicago, particular the lawyer of AL Capone, because Capone selected him, and he wasn't in a position to say know.  With being the lawyer for the mob came family consequences.  Eddie would lose his family and his kids, except in the case of his son, the younger Eddie, he decided he could make a difference.  The younger Eddie had started mixing with the wrong crowd, missing school, and show signs he was headed for trouble.  Fast die intervened by sending his son to military school.  It actually worked.
Easy Eddie was eventually approached by the government, and he knew they had him.  However they wanted Capone, so made a deal.  Part of the deal was they would get his son an appointment to Naval Academy.  Easy Eddie wasn't sure they could do this, but he knew they could keep him out.  Fast Eddie turned, and was a major witness against Capone when he went to prison.  With that action, he was also a man marked for death.
Easy Eddie

Task Force 11 was on its way to attack Rabaul in the Pacific and were deep in enemy waters when they were discovered by the Japanese.  All the fighters scrambled, and chased the incoming planes, keeping them at bay.  Eddie Jr. and his buddy were the last planes launched.  They were headed skyward when the noticed a group of Japanese bombers, who were approaching the convoy untouched with no one to stop them.  The other fighters had all chased the earlier bombing raids.  Perhaps this was the plan all along.  Eddie's buddy's guns wouldn't fire.  This left only Eddie.  He was a good pilot, and a good shot.  He had to fire in short bursts, but he took the Japanese by surprise his first run, and subsequent runs his aim was very good.  When his guns finally ran out of ammunition, he was prepared to ram the few planes still remaining.  However he didn't have to as other fighters joined the fight, and the planes skedaddled leaving their bombs well short.  Edward Butch saved many lives and important naval vessels that day.
Easy Eddie met his end, a victim of murder as a result of his life of crime and testifying against Capone.  His son however was proclaimed a hero.  He received the first medal of honor awarded to a Navy man in WWII.  He could have gone on a hero's tour and stayed out of the fighting, but he insisted on returning to his men.  He was shot down a few months later.
Some years later, the Chicago airport was named in his honor, and so also named for his father.  O'Hare Airport carries the name of Easy Eddie.
Edward Butch O'Hare

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Chapter Review: Alan Turing: How the Father of the Computer Saved the World for Democracy

from the book Dreamers and Deceivers: True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe, Theshold Editions, New York, 2014.

This is the only individual featured in this book who was not a citizen of the United States.  Alan Turing was a mathematician, and a marathon runner.  It was while running that he thought of the idea of machines being used to solve problems.  The machine he imagined could read instructions, it would scan a tape with numeric code which would tell the machine what to do.  He thought this machine may solve complex mathematical problems.  
And so the beginnings of the computer where hatched.  This idea of a problem solving machine became a necessity during WWII.  The Nazis were using a sophisticated coding machine, enigma it was called.  Only a machine would be able to decipher the code fast enough to have a chance at breaking the Nazi codes.  Turing worked on this through a good part of the war, but finally had developed something which would help them crack the code, by using known words or frequent words.  Turing was especially prominent in the work against the U-Boats.  Who knows how many lives he saved by being able to pinpoint the location of submarines.  His work was part of the strategy to eliminate or reduce the threat from the Nazi U-boats.  
During his time in the deciphering business, he visited America where he again helped with developing the computer, while taking ideas home.  
After the war Turing became known as a homosexual, which was against British law of the time.  He was subject to hormone therapy,and later took his own life via one bite form a cyanide laced apple.  Beck wonders if that may be the reason behind the Apples with one bite missing on all i-phones and Apple computers.

Chapter Review: The CIty of Tomorrow: Walt Disney's Last and Lost Dream

from the book Dreamers and Deceivers: True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe, Theshold Editions, New York, 2014.

Epcot Center was Walt Disney's last and great dream.  Previously he had proved critics wrong when he insisted on creating Disneyland as a different kind of park.  However Epcot was suppose to be much more than a display of technology.  Walt Disney envisioned it as a self enclosed city.  EPCOT, Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.  Disney had seen suffering in the world, and poverty, and this was his plan to counteract such issues.  He had also seen the riots in Watts, and knew there was a better way.  However Disney's health did not allow him to finish this dream.  He made his older brother, Roy, promise to finish the work.  However Roy could not quite see Walt's dream.  Sure Walt Disney World (Roy insisted on the Walt) opened as a great amusement park, but it never quite was what Walt envisioned, nor did it have the impact Walt had hoped for.  Epcot is an exhibit acknowledging technology, but is only a sad compromise of Walt's original dream, EPCOT.
Roy Disney
Walt Disney

Native American Biography: Book Review: Red Bird SIngs

Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist, adapted by Gina Capaldi and Q.L. Pearce, illustrations by Gina Capaldi, Carolrhoda Books, Minneapolis, MN, 2011.
The story of Red Bird, born Gertrude Simmons is one of overcoming the odds, and one of fighting for equality.  She was also known as Gertrude Simmons.  At a young age she left her reservation to be educated at a Quaker school, White’s Manual Labor Institute in Wabash, Indiana.  This was common in that day, but it was hard as often students were expected to leave their Native Americanness behind.  Hair was often cut, they were taught a different religion, and were expected to talk in English instead of their native tongue.  This was difficult.  Gertrude Simmons, or Red Bird was left at a place between two worlds, with neither being home.
However in the end, after graduating, she chose to stay to pursue higher education in music.  She was an accomplished violinist and pianist, and had taught music lessons at the institute.  She was an accomplished orator and musician.  She won a state speech contest, even though there were those to intimidate her because she was a “squaw.”  She even recited poetry for President McKinley. 
Despite her accomplishments, when she returned home she discovered things had just gotten worse on the reservation.  She had been teaching at Carlisle Indian School.  When she returned she resigned her post, and began studying music.  She also began writing, telling the stories of herself and her people.  She married Raymond Bonnin, a Yankton-Dakota.  They traveled to Utah and worked with the Ute people.  While there, with William F> Hanson she wrote and staged a Native American opera, the first of its kind.  Many of the Utes took part in the reenactment of the Sioux Sun Dance. 
Red Bird eventually made her way to Washington D.C. where she was active in politics, speaking for and fighting for her people as well as for women’s suffrage.
 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Chapter Review: The Spy Who Turned to a Pumpkin: Alger Hiss and the Liberal Establishment That Defended a Traitor

from the book Dreamers and Deceivers: True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe, Theshold Editions, New York, 2014.

Alger Hiss was a rising star in the Democrat Party.  He accompanied President Franklin Roosevelt to Malta for Roosevelt's last visit with Churchill and Stalin before the end of WWII.  At this meeting, the Allies basically gave up the Easter European countries to the Soviet Union, including Poland.  Alger Hiss was identified as a spy by Whitaker Chambers.  Hiss had left the State Department, and was no at the Carnegie Foundation.  He approached this information by facing the House Un-American Activities Committee.  He denied ever knowing Chambers.  One of them was lying.  
His challenged Chambers, saying he would sue him if he made his accusations public.  When they were made public, then Chambers turned over to the government evidence of Hiss' spying activities.  Papers that Chambers had matched the typewriter that Hiss kept under his bed.  He was tried and convicted of perjury.  The Democratic controlled justice department did not try him for espionage.  
Hiss maintained his innocence.  In fact after the Soviet bloc fell, a Soviet leader said he had never seen evidence Hiss was a spy.  However he later admitted he only had access to a small percentage of documents. However Hiss became the first person to be restored to the Massachusetts Bar after having been removed.   Later a note about Hiss recruiting another spy was found among Hungarian documents.  Further damning evidence was found by the State Department who apparently forced him out because of his ties with espionage.  The government knew all along about Hiss' spying but chose to look the other way.  

Chapter Review: "Make it Great, John": How Steve Jobs and John Lasseter Changed History at Pixar

from the book Dreamers and Deceivers: True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe, Theshold Editions, New York, 2014.
During the time when Steve Jobs had been forced out at Apple Computer, he purchased from George Lucas a his computer graphics division which had about 100 employees and was named for their computer, Pixar.  John Lasseter was one of the employees there.  Lasseter was the artist, animator among the computer technicians.  He had previously worked for Disney, and been let go because of his ideas about using computers to do animation.  
Before Pixar found it self if cost Jobs millions of dollars; 5 million to purchase it, another immediate investment of 5 million, and over the next couple years another 10 million.  They were bleeding money.  It was unclear how long Jobs could continue.  At a meeting to see how they could save money, Lasseter proposed making a short film, for $300,000.  When money is tight asking for more is not always a good thing.  However Jobs gave Lasseter this one instruction, "Just make it great."
The short he had in mind was called Tin Toy.  It was a precursor to Toy Story.  The short won an Academy Award for animation.  The bigger project followed, However they needed financing, so they invited Disney to oversee the project.  They had evolved the character to Woody and Buzz Lightyear.  However Disney insisted on Woody being cantankerous so they could attract an adult audience.  The movie lost its focus and was not going well.  Tom Hanks, the actor for Woody said, This guy is a real jerk."  Initial previews did not go well.  Disney shut own the project.  However Jobs convinced them to give it another shot, and they rewrote the script.  The movie was on its way.
Jobs did not want to be dependent on Disney in the future.  He made plans for Pixar, a company with successive years of loss, to go public as soon as the movie came out.  And that is what he did, against everyone's better judgement.  Pixar gained financial independence, and went on to make many more movies; A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monster Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and more.  
Jobs was welcomed back at Apple, and Pixar became a subsidiary of Disney.  The original Pixar Computer is now in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Book Review: Living Through the Mexican American War

 Living Through the Mexican American War by John DiConsiglio, Heinemann Library, Chicago, Ill., 2012.
This is an interesting read about the Mexican American War.  It was started partly by the United States feelings of manifest destiny, that the country was destined to extend from one ocean to the other.  The final straw was when the United States annexed Texas which had won their independence from Mexico.  Before the war, the U.S. government had secretly attempted to buy land from Mexico.  However Mexican officials would not meet with the U.S. emissary.  Hostilities started in this area, when Mexico challenged and killed U.S. Troops on the northern side of the Rio Grande River.
At the same time, in California the Bear Flag Revolt lead to a removal of Mexican control in northern California.  Colonel John Fremont had been in the area, and quickly took over for the revolters.
However the real war was fought in Mexico.  The United States had to force Mexico to sue for peace, and did this by invading their country.  Although hard fought, the United States generally won all the battles, culminating in a battle for Mexico City itself.  Many of the battle were hard fought.  The U.S. would lose just over 1000 men killed in battle in the war, however ten times that amount would succumb to disease, mostly Yellow Fever.  The U.S. had several generals who lead the war.  First was Zachary Taylor.  However the president didn't like him because he gained popularity and may run against the president for election.  General Winfield Scott lead the troops into Mexico City.   Santa ANa returned form exile to lead the Mexican forces.

Chapter Review: The Muckraker: How a Lost Letter Revealed Upton SInclair's Deception

The Muckraker: How a Lost Letter Revealed Upton Sinclair's Deception, from the book Dreamers and Deceivers: True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe, Theshold Editions, New York, 2014.

Upton Sinclair is best known for writing the book "The Jungle."  However this story is not about that book so much, but a subsequent book Sinclair wrote entitled "Boston."  This book is about two Italian immigrants, Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, who were put to death by the electric chair in Massachusetts after they killed two payroll clerks, and stole a parole to help fund their terroristic organization which was fighting against the elite in the Boston area.  Mostly they would set of bombs, but they needed to purchase dynamite to do this.  The two men had alibis, but they were also identified as being the killers.  Sinclair, always for social justice, had a point to make with his book.  He challenged the verdict and the trial feeling it had been unfair.  Besides the men maintained their innocence.  Sinclair however saw some inconsistencies in the men's testimony, and sought out a lawyer who had worked on the case.  Despite the lawyer proclaiming them guilty, that he had trumped up the alibi witnesses, Sinclair still published the book maintaining the trial was unfair.  Many years later a letter about this meeting would come to light which indicated that Sinclair knew the men were guilty.  Sometimes the truth just gets in the way of a good story or cause.
Upton Sinclair

Chapter Review: Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball

This chapter is entitled : He Loved Lucy: The Tragic Genius of Desi Arnaz, the Inventor of the Rerun.  It is from the book Dreamers and Deceivers: True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe, Theshold Editions, New York, 2014.

Desi Arnaz escaped with his family from Cuba when he was a teenage.  The went from having three homes, to having nothing.  His father barely escaped with his life, and slowly arranged for other family members to join them, starting with Desi.  Desi had a dream to never be in that situation again.   And the slowly rebuilt their life.   However when Desi told his father he ws going to pursue msic, playing the bongos and singing, his father resisted.  In the old country this was not good work.  However Desi would prove successful.
When Desi began to pursue movie deals as part of his career, he met Lucille Ball.  When he first met her she had a black eye (make up) and Desi was not impressed.  However that soon changed.  Lucy and Desi were married, and because of the different nature of their personalities, except for their stubbornness, the marriage was not expected to last.  With individual lives in entertainment, which took them different ways, it had a rocky start; especially due to Desi's drinking and womanizing.  However they had hopes of doing a show together, a television show.  Lucy already had a radio show.  However when they pitched it to studios it was rejected.  The said people wouldn't belief they were married.  SO they created their own production company, Desilu Industries, and became the first independent T.V. producers.  They were able to sell their t.v. show, filming in Los Angeles, close to their home.  Desi negotiated that they would maintain the rights to the programs they produced, and thus when they became popular, reruns were born.  DesiLu actually sold the rights for millions of dollars.  They would produce many more programs, including Star Trek and Mission Impossible.  However their marriage would not last.  Desi and Lucy would have two children together, but eventually Desi's drinking and womanizing would take its toll.  However Desi and Lucy continued to love each other, even when Lucy moved on to subsequent versions of her t.v. shows.

Chapter Review: Edison vs. Westinghouse: An Epic Struggle for Power

This chapter is reviewed from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Threshold Editions, New York, 2013.
The struggle between alternating current and direct current was significant in our country, and determined how the power grid in the United States would go.  Nikola Tesla actually worked for Thomas Edison, and had developed things for him using alternating current.  However Edison was totally committed to direct current, so in the end Tesla left and joined George Westinghouse.  Alternating current had some advantages over direct current.  It could be transported over longer distances without losing as much power.  This made it so the lines used less copper in transmission.  At the time the price of copper was over inflated, which was a hindrance to Edison.
However Edison had developed citywide systems based on direct current.  He wasn't going to give up the power grid without a fight.  He tried to paint alternating current as being dangerous.  It was the spark of Edison which used alternating current for the electric chair.  He contended that many people would die if the grid went to alternating current.  He publicly proclaimed the use of the electric chair.  However when it was used it wasn't quite as effective as believed, as it took several attempts to kill the condemned.  Westinghouse had his opening.  The pinnacle was being able to light the World's Fair Columbian Exposition in New York.  After successfully bidding on this, at a price half that of Edison.  From there Westinghouse won the Niagara Falls contract, using Tesla's advances.
In the end, Edison would lose control of his power company, and would focus on film and mining adventures.  His company became General Electric.  Westinghouse would eventually also lose ownership of his company to bankers, but he continued in other interests as well and controlled many patents.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Native American Biography: Louis Sockalexis: Book Review: Indian Summer

 Indian Summer: The Forgotten Story of Louis Sockalexis the First Native american in Major League Baseball, by Brian McDonald, Rodale, Emmaus, PA, 2003.
I found this story very fascinating.  I had never heard of Louis Socalexis.  He was Panobscot, and grew up on Indian Island in the Penobscot River.  He took up baseball after watching others play, and used it to get a college education.  He played college ball for Holy Cross.  He was a team star, playing in the outfield and hitting.  He was noted for his speed, his ability to track down a ball, his arm, and his bat.  He was a well rounded player.  When he joined the Cleveland team, the name of the team changed to Indians to reflect their new rookie.  The team was known as Tebeau's tribe (their manager.)  Sockalexis was touted as a future star, and that he was.  He hit home runs, touring home runs.  He through a runner out at the plate, he ran down base balls, and he could steal bases standing up with his speed.  However he had to deal with tremendous pressure.  Wherever he traveled he was taunted with war whoops and people making fun of his name.  The pressure got to him, and he turned to drink.  It was the drink that was his undoing.  While drinking, he umped from a second story window and broke his ankle.  He never took time for the ankle to heal properly, as he had to get back to the bars.  He was kept on the roster, but for many games was inactive.  He didn't play the later part of the season because of his drinking.  The next year, the owner bought a new club, the St. Louis ball team.  He jumped ship because he wan't allowed to play Sunday games in Cleveland.  His second year he was part of the worst team in baseball history.  He didn't make it through the season and was released.  He struggled for a time, but eventually made it home to his people.  There he started to heal.  He was involved in baseball umpiring.  He worked in logging or other jobs.  Both his parents passed away.  Sockalexis died rather young, age 42 form a heart attack.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Barbary War: A Steep Price for Peace

This is a review of a chapter from the book, Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Threshold Editions, New York, 2013.
This story explains why the Marine Song includes the line, "To the shores of Tripoli."  When the United States was a new nation the Barbary Coast pirates were notorious, with safe haven in Tripoli and many other North African Ports.  Yussef Qaramanli had taken Hamet Quaramanli's, his brother's throne as Pashta, and supported the pirates, and demanded ransom from countries for safe passage.  He demanded millions of dollars from the United States, which at the time represented over ten percent of the country's budget.  Finally, when Thomas Jefferson was president, war was declared.  The people of Tripoli had overtaken the U.S. consulate.  However, early efforts to fight the pirates failed.  Finally a large ship, the U.S.S. Philadelphia was sent.  They were going to make their first capture, but ran aground and were surrounded and the sailors caught and made slaves.  This would begin a hell that would last a year and a half for these men, including Marines.  Stephen Decatur later lead a force which boarded the Philadelphia, used her cannon to fire upon the city, and then her aflame and she sank when the magazine room was lit.  The men escaped.

William Eaton, the former consul approached Jefferson with a plan to replace Yussef with his brother, the rightful ruler.  He was given men and money to make this happen.  He put together an army which traveled over desert from Alexandria, some 400 miles to reach their first test, Derna.  This was an outlying town loyal to Yussef.  Supported the the Navy, Eaton and his men of Marines, European mercenaries and Muslims loyal to Hamet.  Hamet traveled with them.  They finally stormed the fortified positions at Derna, and won the day.

However reinforcements from Tripoli, loyal to Yussef arrived and pinned them in the city.  However siege was futile as Eaton and his men were well supplied by the U.S. Navy.  A new ship arrived, and with it orders from Jefferson that peace terms had been accepted.  Yussef would retain his crown.  The mercenaries and Hamet would be taken to Italy.  The imprisoned sailors and Marines were freed from their hell.  However Eaton remained bitter as he knew he could have taken Tripoli and effected regime change.
Yussef broke all the agreements of the treaty.  The taking of Tripoli had to be done later.  It wasn't until after the War of 1812, that the U.S. had a Naval force such that they could back up their threats.  They went to Tripoli and forced a final peace.

Chapter Review: Streets of Gold: Charles Ponzi and the American Scheme

I am familiar with the term, Ponzi Scheme, but was not familiar with the man who prompted this term.  That man is Charles Ponzi, was born Carlo Ponzi in Italy.  He flunked out of university, and so set his sights on America as a place to win his fortune.  He had heard the streets in America were made of gold.  He eventually drifted north, where he became involved in  a scheme to pay back loans (self loans made to yourself illegally from people giving you money to wire to relatives).  It eventually tumbled, and Ponzi was jailed for writing a forged check to himself.  He then landed in Federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia for helping people enter the United States illegally.  While there he met Charles Morse, and from him learned more about speculation schemes.   He thought about returning to Europe, to fight for Italy in the war, but changed his mind  He met a woman, fell in love and married Rose Gneccco.  Rose contended they didn't need to be rich to be happy.  However Ponzi had other ideas, and began promising incredible returns to his investors in a scheme to buy International Reply Coupons abroad, and sell them in the United States.  The idea being they were accepted for postage any where in the world, but were sold more cheaply in Europe.  This he used as his draw, but what he was really doing was paying investors back with the money from new investors.  In fact the Post Office had written him a letter saying such a scheme was not allowed.  No matter if he made believe this was his method, and besides, he was paying people back with incredible interest.  We are all gamblers.  We all crave easy money.
Working upon this crave Ponzi kept his scheme going for several years.  He bought a large mansion.  He brought his mother from Italy.  He had made good.  When the paper ran an article about his investment program, he made even more money.  However, eventually in such a scheme, the debts our weigh the assets, and when that happens it comes crashing down.  Thousands of people lost millions of dollars.  When it collapsed, and he was audited, his scheme was up.  After serving five years in prison he was deported.  He died in Brazil a broke man, but he had given the people of America quite a show for a time.

Constitution Day September 17, 1787

Constitution Day commemerates the day the Constitution was signed by those who wrote it at the Constitutional Convention in 1787.  It is also observed as citizenship day.  Schools generally provide education about the Constitution on this day.  Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution December 7 that same year.  In 1790 Rhode Island became the last of the original thirteen states to ratify.  George Washington became president in 1789.

Chapter Review: Woodrow Wilson: A Masterful Stroke of Deception

This chapter is from the book: Dreamers and Deceivers by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe.  It is subtitled True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America.  Published by Threshold Editions, New York, 2014.
Woodrow Wilson was a progressive educator, President of Princeton.  However when offered the chance to run for governor, as a jumping point to run for president he jumped at the opportunity.  There were concerns about his health, arteriosclerosis, but he did not let that stand in is way.  In fact, during his first term as president, it was not his health, but his wife's that was a concern.  His wife died of liver disease, and her passing devastated him.  However he remarried while in the White House.  He married Edith Bolling Galt, a woman who shared his political views.  Wilson was a racist from the South.  He did not support women's suffrage and felt women were inferior, and should compliment men.  He also allowed segregation to take place int eh federal government, and supported Jim Crow laws.  He also agreed with the movie "Birth of a Nation" which during his presidency, was the first movie screened in the White House, with its reference to the Ku Klux Klan as saviors of the South.  However he won reelection on the theme, "I kept us out of War," referring to WWI.  However it wasn't long into his second term that the United States entered the war.  Woodrow Wilson's biggest push was to negotiate a treaty not too harsh on the Germans, and to establish the League of Nations.  However, in the end of his presidency, Wilson was absent.  He had a stroke, which left his face droopy, and his arm paralyzed.  He was also afflicted by paranoia and anger.  It was his wife, Edith, who in essence ran the country.  She was able to pass him off as running the country to two senators, but still he was ineffective as an actual world leader.  The final treaty at the end of WWI was punitive to the germans, requiring war reparations and taking territory from them.  Resentment over this treaty lead to the rise of the Nazi Party and Hitler, and played a real part in continued hostilities.  The League of Nations was only a shell of what Wilson envisioned, as a result of his stroke he could not pursue it vigorously, and only after compromise was it acceptable to the United States.
Of course as it happened, knowledge of WILson's stroke was not common knowledge.  It was only over 40 years later at the death of his doctor, Cary Grayson, and release of his notes, that the serious nature of his health problems was known.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Chapter Review: The Constitutional Debate in Virgiania

The constitutional debate pitted Alexander Hamilton arguing against the ratification of the constitution, while James Madison argued for ratification.  The federalist, those for the constitution, had decided that a stronger federal government was needed to ensure the continued existence of our nation.  Those who argued against did not want a more central government which they equated with kings and tyranny.  Edmond randolph spoke for ratification, while George Mason spoke against the document without a Bill of Rights.  James Madison felt his side, the Federalist were winning.  But that was before Patrick Henry stood to talk, and point by point tore the constitution apart.  It was almost to the point of blows between he and Randolph.  However, the next day, Hamilton came back and only spoke of the need for a Bill of Rights, which was put to a vote as an amendment.  The Federalist argued the Bill of Rights could be added after ratification.  However, passing amendments would but all those states who had already ratified the Constitution back in the ratification stage.  The vote for the amendments was close, but did not pass.  With that vote the vote for ratification of the Constitution also passed.  However wise minds prevailed, and a Bill of Rights was added to the constitution.
This is a summary of the chapter in Glenn Beck: Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Documentary Review: World War I in Color: Victory and Despair

With Russia rescinding in the east, Germany was able to move troops to the west, and with the beginning of 1918 they were able to unleash an offensive that threw the Allies back 30 miles.  This is more territory than had been changed in the past three years.  This was known as the Ludendorff Offensive and brought the Germans to within miles of Paris.  However an allied, tank-lead counterattack put the germans on their heals and pushed them back to the original lines.  At that time the United States now entered the war.  The Allies, following the example of the Australians began to use coordinated air and ground attacks, with troops following tanks.  This allowed the allies a new strategy which was effective.
However they still face the Hindenburg Line, a strong German defensive position with barbed wire and concrete defensive works.  However they were able to make a create a break in the line, and the next day followed up this break.  German morale was greatly influenced, but while they still had some morale, they proposed peace.  However the Germans were able to regain some momentum and talks of peace faded for a time.  It was the blockade that lead to peace.  The Germans were starving.  At this time, the war seemed a wasted effort to the Allies, as the outcome seemed certain.  Casualties remained high.  But everybody knew the end must be close.
The Kaiser sacked his general who did not want to surrender, and himself abdicated, and went into hiding.  An armistice was finally signed 11 November 1918, and the guns went silent.
Armistice of Compiegne

Book Review: September 11: Snapshots in History

September 11: Snapshots in History, by Andrew Langley, Compass Point Books, Minneapolis, MN, 2006.
Written on the fifth year anniversary of 9/11, or ten years ago, this book tells the story of 9/11.  It does a fairly good job of telling the events of the day, although no book could totally capture the day.  I thin the place the book bogs down is his going back in history to try to explain why the terrorists would do such a thing.  It seems the author is somehow trying to justify the actions of the terrorists, or cast blame where it doesn't belong.  He also talks about three major world religions coming out of the area, but he only talks about the tenants of one.  To be more balanced he should have also mentioned the beliefs of all three religions, or not mentioned them at all.  He tries to explain how the teaches of Islam have become the teachings of Islam, as they protect the world from the influence of evil.  I guess I am saying much of this book is cow pucky.

Documentary Review: World War I in Color: Mayhem on the Eastern Front

This episode talks a bout the war on the Russian front.  It includes mention of the Armenian holocaust in which the Turkish government killed 1.5 million Armenians.  Turkey was affiliate with Germany and Austria.  Italy entered the war on the Allied side.  In an effort to alleviate some of this suffering, Russia appealed to the other allies.  Germany attempted a Naval campaign in the Gallipoli Peninsula of Turkey.j  This was under the command of Winston Churchill.  At first the Naval vessels set to open with a bombardment hit enemy mines.  When the British forces landed (New Zealand, English and Australian) the became bogged down in a stalemate.  They were removed some months later with the loss of 250,000 casualties.  Churchill was sacked.
The Russians continued to fight, and defended Warsaw from German invasion.  However eventually their forces wore down, and Warsaw fell.  At the same time Czar Nicholas lost control of his country, and the Communist rose to power.  The Russians then left the war.  Russia suffered about 2 million military deaths during the war and another million civilian deaths.  With them leaving the war, the germans could now focus on their western front, France and England.  The effect of the reinforcement from the east was first felt in Italy, as the Germans brought more divisions into the area.  The war would have gone the way except the entry of the United States into the war at about the same time.

Book review: The Seminole

The Seminole by Liz Sonneborn, Watts Library, A Division of Scholastic, New York, 2001.
The Seminole, in a real way are a combination of many Native Americans, and escaped slaves who fled to Florida.  They had an agricultural life style, living close to their farms to keep them safe.  They were involved in three wars against the U.S. government.  The first took place before Florida was even part of the United States.  Never the less, Andrew Jackson lead a U.S. force into Florida.  This was precipitated by plantation owner claiming the Seminole had stolen their slaves.  Jackson gained a victory, the Seminole headed south, leaving their best farm lands behind them.  Shortly after, Florida became a part of the United States when Spain sold the territory.
When Andrew Jackson became president, his goal was to remove the Seminole from Florida to the Indian territories in Oklahoma.  Many gave way and relocated.  Others refused, and this started the second Seminole War.  Osceola lead the Seminole resistance.  However at a negotiation he was captures and thrown in prison, where he would die from illness.  Cooacoochee then lead the Seminole.  Their defeat only took time, and more Seminole were sent west.  However some still refused, moving deeper into the Everglades.  There economy now became dependent on hunting as it was more difficult to raise crops.  They also ate wild plants.  Here they remained for some time, until surveyors entered the area.  Billy Bowlegs did not trust them, and attacked.  This lead to the third Seminole War, with even more being sent west, Billy Bowlegs among them.  However some stayed.  There are now two Seminole Nations, in the east and in the west.  The western Seminole had further problems.  At first they were not given territory, but later negotiated an area.  However they were torn in the Civil War.  The Seminole officially supported the Confederacy.  Some refused and traveled to Kansas to join the Union soldiers.  
Today both nations have their own governments, and economic bases including gambling.  They also include appeal to the tourist industry with museums, and in the eastern nation, alligator wrestlers.

Documentary Review: World War I in Color: Killers of the Sea

Killers of the sea of course refers the the German U-Boats.  The struck with deadly effect, however they went too far.  The sunk the cruise ship Lusitania, which was a propaganda victory for the British and eventually lead to the entry of the United States into the war.  For a time Germany agreed to not attack merchant vessels indiscriminately, but when they returned to this policy, the United States entered the war.  However the U-Boats continued to be a problem.  Britain maintained a blockade of Germany, and Germany used the U-boats to destroy supplies headed to England.  Both these strategies proved effective.  In Germany, a population use to eating meat, they many were subsisting on turnips by the end of the war.  Rationing also went into effect in England.
This war produced ever larger naval vessels, dreadnought battleships if you will.  There was only one major naval battle, the Battle of Jutland.  In this battle the the British Grand Fleet faced the German High Seas Fleet.  The first day was a German victory, as two of the British cruisers exploded after their powder kegs were ignited.  However the British retreated to where their larger vessels were waiting, and the second day proved otherwise.  During the two days of fighting fourteen British vessels were sunk, and eleven German.  The battle continued into the night, with the British trying to cut the Germans off from their home base.  However the next morning they had escaped.  Both sides claimed victory, but the Germans new better than to try to engage the British again.  This became the last major naval battle in history involving battleships agains battleships.
The War at sea remained a desperate affair until the British gained ways to slow down the U-boats.  This took place with large air ships-balloon based which could cruise the seas for long periods of time, and then also closing in on the U-boat bases and trying to eliminate their access.  This was done partially by sinking old ships in the mouth of the bay.  Only after the U-boats were somewhat controlled could the U.S. forces travel by sea to join the fighting.