Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Documentary: Oklahoma City (2017)

This is a PBS documentary, which covers the theme of how conservative thought lead to the Oklahoma City bombing, or at least it seems like that is the intent of the film.  In this aspect, I think it failed to a degree.  It says the attitude prompted Timothy McVeigh to act, although he was not an actual member of any of the groups, such as paramilitary, or NeoNazi.  It does make a case that he was angry about how things were going.  He had actually been present at WACO.  However casting blame unto those who never even knew McVeigh would be a stretch.
What this documentary does well is tell the stories of those who were victims of the bombing.  these are innocent people, and in many cases children, because the day care in the Alfred P. Murrah building was destroyed by the bomb which McVeigh detonated April 19, 1995.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Documentary: Prelude to War

As Frank Capra looked for a way to make a war related movie about "Why we Fight" he came upon the idea of using Nazi propaganda pieces and turn them around.  The Germans had made many propaganda pieces using speeches by Adolf Hitler.  There were also Benito Mussolini speeches available as well as Emperor Yamamoto.  Capra showed the beginning of the war being 1941 when Japan invaded Manchuria.  He explained how the powers hoped to eventually claim the entire world.  He did this using maps with the flag of different groups overlaid.  With that as the basis for this film, Capra was able to make a fantastic propaganda piece, "Prelude to War" which explained to the American people why we were fighting the war.  The attitude of the American people quickly changed, from avoiding the war, to being fully engaged.
Capra won an Academy Award for this film.  It was used as a training film for new recruits.  It was released in 1942,

Monday, May 8, 2017

Great Blunders of WWII: Death at Stalingrad 9



Stalingrad become Hitler's greatest blunder, after he took more and more control of the military.  the initial drive into Russia went well, but fell short at the gates of Moscow.  Hitler sacked his commander in chief, and took over that roll himself.  The next year, the Hitler offensive headed south, to the oilfields and Stalingrad.  The move south was divided in two group, Group A and Group B.  The initial offensive was to Stalingrad, and then Army Group A to the south.  When the Russians withdrew rather than facing the onslaught, Hitler took even more control.  The effort, with the armor was focused on the move south.  They were able to take the first goals, but the Russians destroyed many of the oilfields in the area.  however, without most of their armor, Hitler ordered a move against Stalingrad.  Without the tanks, progress was slow.  The move south eventually stalled as the supply lines were too long, and they were far away from their air support.
In Stalingrad, the germans defended the city at all costs.  A counterattack finally surrounded the forces there.  However Hitler ordered them to remain, with the goal of their being resupplied from the air.  It was impossible to get adequate supplies.  Hitler put his efforts into a rescue effort to resupply.  However the Russians kept up their offensive against Army Group B.  The relief operation stalled before they could reach them; however the commander thought they could break out and meet the relief operation.  However they followed Hitler's original orders to stay put.  However shortly the Russian efforts took the airfields supplying Stalingrad, and the desperate measure to drop supplies form the air proved inadequate.  What became known as the Stalingrad Pocket was doomed. Almost one hundred thousand were killed.  They finally surrendered, and another almost one hundred thousand were marched into Russia.  Only about five thousand would ever return.
Stalingrad was a major turning point on the Eastern Front.  The Russians would be on the offensive from this point on.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Great Blunders of WWII: Japan's Mistakes at Midway 7



This is one of a series of movies about blunders made in WWII.  This deals with the Japanese blunders at Midway.  The idea of Midway was a very good idea.  The Americans would have to defend Midway, and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was hoping to eliminate the rest of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific.  However his superiors decided to eXpand the operation.  They added an attack on the Aleutians, with the logic the U.S. fleet would have to defend and be more scattered.  The other addition was a sea attack on Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.  In this way they could threaten Australia.  they committed three carriers to this operation.  Even though in the Battle of Coral Sea which took place as a result, they damaged Yorktown and sunk Lexington, for their own part, one carrier was sunk, another badly damaged, and a third lost most of its planes.  This left only four carriers for Midway.  The Japanese assumed Yorktown had been sunk.  The U.S. had a repaired Yorktown available, as well as Enterprise and Hornet.  Yamamoto felt these carriers were in Hawaii, but had not confirmed this.  However, due to cracking of the Japanese code system, the U.S. knew that Midway was the major focus of the Japanese attack.  The carriers were ready and waiting.  The U.S. also had a landing strip and planes on Midway Island, including high flying B-17 bombers.  The first wave against Midway caused considerable damage, but the run way remained serviceable, and many planes were spared.  As the Japanese prepared for a second assault against Midway, his ships were attacked, and three carriers sunk.  The fourth counter-attacked against Yorktown, causing serious damage.  Eventually Yorktown was sunk by submarine torpedoes.  This fourth carrier was itself counter attacked and destroyed.  The end result, over three thousand Japanese dead, four carriers, and one cruisers sunk, another cruiser damaged.  On the American side over three hundred dead, one carrier lost and one destroyer sunk.

Memphis Belle: The Story Of A Flying Fortress (1944)



This is the WWII documentary from William Wyler.  This film documented the day in the life of B-17 bombers, and particularly the Memphis Belle, which completed its 25th and last bombing mission.  After this mission, the crew was retired to teaching other aviators, and the plane was also retired and is in the Smithsonian today.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Battlefield: S1 E3: The battle of Midway

The most decisive Naval battle of WWII changed the course of the war.  This is a very good day by day and blow by blow description of the battle, including the battle of Coral Sea which took place shortly before, and had influence on the Battle of Midway.  A single day changed the course of the war, and Japan went from the offense to defense.
Akagi
Kaga
Soryu
Hiryu
Yorktown
Carriers lost at the Battle of Midway.  the Japanese lost over 3000 men, and all the planes and most of the pilots involved.  The pilots were mostly killed in their planes on the decks of the carriers.  The United States lost over 300 men, and two thirds of the aircraft involved.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Battle of Midway — A John Ford Documentary Masterpiece



This is the documentary movie John Ford made from the footage he took during the battle of Midway.  He selected a raised area on Midway Island from which to film, and was actually wounded in the endeavour.  You can see in the film where this happens with the close bombing.  the most important news was what came at the end, the report of the turn in the war as Japan lost four carriers.  Though early in the war, this proved to be a turning point.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Documentary Review: Five Came Back (2017)

This is a made for Netflix documentary.  It presents the stories of five movie makers, big Hollywood directors, who took time away from their Hollywood careers, to serve in the military and document the war.  they could be called propagandists.  A part of their effort was to encourage the buying of war bonds.  On occasion, the documentaries were released for presentation in theaters.  However most often they were used as shorts before movies.
The five directors chronicled are William Wyler, John Huston, John Ford, George Stevens and Frank Capra.
Capra provided a very big service.  He director "Why we Fight" films.  this included "Prelude to War" which at first was not allowed to be shown because it was felt to be too negative towards the Germans.  However it was shown by Capra to win an Oscar.  Capra also produced training films for the service men.  The first movie he made after the war is "Its a  Wonderful Life" a box office disaster, but a classic in the long run.
John Huston was first a writer, but then started directing to better control his work.  He had made "Maltese Falcon" before the war.  The biggest movie he made during the war was "Let There Be Light" a look at the effects of war fatigue on soldiers.  Today we call this PTSD.  He also worked on documenting the war in the Aleutian Islands.  His first film after the war was "Treasure of the Sierra Madre."
John Ford was already a big name director before the war.  He had made "Stage Coach," "Young Mr. Lincoln" and :The Grapes of Wrath."  His first success during the war was "The Battle of Midway," in which he was wounded.  This movie won as Oscar as well.  He was with the troops in North Africa and also made a film there.  He went back and made a movie about Pearl Harbor as well.  After the war, his first film was "They Were Expendable" telling the story of the PT Boats.
George Stevens was a director of comedies before the war.  However he never went back to this.  As part of his duties, he documented the atrocities in "Nazi Concentration Camps."  Much of his work was used in the war crimes trials after the war.  His most important work after the war was "Diary of Anne Frank."
William Wyler won the Oscar for best director for his last film before the war.  Mrs. Miniver told the story of a British family and the effects the war was having on them.  By the time it was released the Americans were at war as well.  During the war he documented the Memphis Belle in "The Memphis Belle: The Story of a Flying Fortress."  He remained close to the men of the Memphis Belle his entire life.  After the war his first film was "The Best years of Our Lives" which dealt with Post traumatic Stress of three veterans, including one who lost his hands.  This movie won several Oscars and was a box office success.  He would later make the movie Ben Hur.
Commentators included Steven Spielberg and Guillermo Del Toro.
These men all risked their lives during the war.  They were some of the over 5000 movie people who joined the war effort.  they were all changed for their experience.  It was a sacrifice to leave their careers, but after returning their movie making seemed even better.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sagwitch, Shoshone Chieftan, Mormon Elder 1822-1887


This brief article is from Legacy: International Society: Daughters of Utah Pioneers
few People know or remember that some very important Shoshone Native American men were prominent leaders in the early days of the Mormon Church.
Chief Sagwitch of the Northwestern Shoshone tribe lived on the lower Bear River and was wounded at the Bear River Massacre January 29, 1863.  Many of his family were killed.  Nevertheless, during the years immediately following the massacre, the chief and his band came to know the Mormon residents of Brigham City and he joined the Mormon Church under the tutelage of Mormon missionary George Washington Hill and followed the steps of the Priesthood to become an Elder.
Sagwitch homesteaded land near Portage, Utah and also at Washakie, a small Mormon-sponsored Indian community in Box Elder County.  It is recorded that he helped build the Temple in Logan, Utah.  He experienced the traditional Indian patterns of hunting and gathering to the adjustment of adapting successfully to both EuroAmerican and religious influences.
His descendant included Moroni Timbimboo, the first native American Bishop in the Mormon Church and Bruce Parry, for many years director of Utah's Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The DUP Camp in Paradise, Utah was named in honor of Chief Sagwitch as well as two mountain peaks and a basin between the Cache and Ogden valleys.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Book review: Nettie's Trip South

Nettie's Trip South by Ann Turner, illustrated by Ronald Himler, Alladin Paperbacks,  New York, 1987.
This is actual a book of fiction, describing a trip South just before the Cicil War.  The author says this of the book, "This story is inspired by my great grandmother Henrietta
'a [Nettie's] diary of her trip South, taken in 1859 when she was a young woman.  there, she witnessed a slave auction and returned home a committed abolitionist.  As she said in her own words, 'All I have heard of slaver seemed unreal until now that I see for myself.'"
The story of this book is a young woman, traveling South with her older brother and sister, just before the Civil.  Her brother was determined to see conditions, and to see a slave auction.  It appears he was writing a paper.  It describes the auction, and the slaves being required to jump when told to do so.  They slaves did not have last names, just their first.  Families meant nothing to the overseer, so without a last name they could removed easily from relatives.  The story tells of two siblings being separated.  It also confronts the idea of three fifths of a person according to the constitution, because all the people for full people.
The story tells of the profound effect on the author, who now has nightmares.
Slavery was a nightmare for our country, and lead to inevitable results to get rid of it.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Article Review: Exotic WWI Spy Mata Hari

Utah State Magazine Spring 2017, article by Janelle Hyatt.
This article is based on an interview with Tammy Proctor, who was recently interviewed as an expert for a featured BBC documentary about Mata Hari, the spy that was executed by the French during WWI.  The French government said her actions lead to the deaths of thousands of men, as many as 750,000 by some acounts.  Mata Hari was a woman who had survived childhood abuse, and then spousal abuse.  She was left on her own with no means of support, and she needed money to get her who she had been forced to leave when she left her husband.   She was of Dutch descent living in France.  She finally found she could make a living as an exotic dancer.  However when the WWI all her assets were frozen, because she was Dutch.  Then she became a spy.  Mata Hari was a double agent, a spy for the French who was also spying for the Germans.  The legend has her as a seductress, who was able to get information from men when they were the most vulnerable, in bed.  However Proctor contends she wasn't even a very good spy.  She was not responsible for so much destruction. The myth around her actual does a disservice to those women who were actual spies during the time.   MI-5 actually employed 800 female spies during the war.  I may well have been the Mata Hari was set up with fabricated evidence.  She was shot on October 15, 1917.  She refused a blindfold.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Chapter Review: Did Pocahontas Save John Smith?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1997.
About the only source that Pocahontas saved John Smith from her father, Powhatan, comes from John Smith himself.  There are no other first party corroborating statements.  The statement wasn't released until some years after the events.  there was a great age difference between Smith and Pocahontas.  However Smith never claimed the relationship was romantic.  It seems Pocahontas helped many with her influence and generosity.  However parts the the story don't make sense.  The author draws the conclusion that to Smith, maybe things appeared like Pocahontas saved him, while instead it may have been part of an adoption into the tribe ritual.  That Smith needed a sponsor.  This would have been a traditional death and rebirth ritual.  Smith would have felt intimidated by Powhatan, and grateful to Pocahontas.  
As for me, I accept the story as written by Smith, because I like the story, and I don't want to take away from the bravery of Pocahontas. 
 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Chapter Review: What Happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1997.
The Roanoke colonist predated the Jamestown colony of British settlers in America.  Roanoke Island is off the coast of North Carolina.  This was 20 years before the Jamestown.  the governor of the colony, John White, only stayed a short time.  His daughter gave birth to the first English baby born in America, Virginia Dare.  He then returned to England to negotiate for more supplies and support.  He returned three years later, and the colony had disappeared.  they left carved in a tree the word, Croatan.  Perhaps the left and joined the Native American on Croatoan Island.  However they had been told to go north, and the island was south.  
Sir Walter raleigh was the money behind the project.  However he fell out of favor with the queen, and was off on other adventures.  the colony was somewhat forgotten.  
There in fact was even an earlier colony by two years.  However this colony faded into the mist as well.  However this colony was rescued just in time.  they had alienated the locals, and were short on food.  Sir Walter raleigh appeared with ships, and took them aboard, making room by leaving some slaves and Indians who had been rescued from the Spanish.  Those left also disappeared.  
With regards to the lost colony, it is generally felt the majority went north, and were killed when they allied themselves with the Chesapeake Indians.  This group was wiped out by Powhatan.  A for the few who had been left to guard the original settlement, it is believed the did go to Croatoan and mixed in with the Native Americans.  
the governor of the colony, though not much of a governor (he left) he was an artist, and consequently we have from him the first pictures by and Englishman of Native Americans.  these were painted in 1585.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Biography: Cesar Chavez

I am home from work today for Cesar Chavez Day.  I started wondering, what is so significant about the day.  It is a Santa Clara County and California State holiday.
March 31 is the day of the birth of Cesar Chavez.  he was born in Arizona.  The family ended in California because of the depression.  Cesar Chavez worked in the fields with his family.  there was considerable hardship, and as a teenager Cesar and his sister would take people to the doctor as needed.  Otherwise the workers were without medical care.
Chavez with Dolores Huerta was instrumental in the organization of farm labor.  Their union became the United Farm Worker Union.  they employed many nonviolent initiatives for change.  Among this was a self imposed fast of 20 days.  The tactics also included boycotting of food, including the salad bowl boycott and the boycott of grapes.  At its highest the union boasted 50,000 members.  After his death the numbers decreased rapidly to only 15,000 a few years later.  During the Chavez years in the union they were active in fighting against immigration which tends to lower farm wages.  Chavez' actions were instrumental in fighting for civil and labor rights.  His motto, "Si se puede" was adopted by the Obama campaign.  (most of this article gleaned from Wikipedia)


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Documentary Review: Beary Tales (2013)

This is the story of a photographer who raises a couple of bear cubs in the Bohemian forest.  It provides some insights into the bears, and how cubs grow.  These two cubs, a boy and a girl have a special relationship with each other.  they also form a bond with the photographer; but not as close as their relationship with each other.  It is fun to watch the bear learn.  The photographer has to teach them how to forage for edible things in the woods, and not to eat the poisonous ones.  And then he has to take them to where they can become independent, although they always remember him.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Chapter Review: Was Rachel Jackson a Bigamist?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1997.
This chapter concludes that this is a true statement to a degree.  This was an accusation made while Jackson was running for president.  In the day when Andrew Jackson and Rachel Jackson became husband and wife laws were different.  Rachel was married previous, and to get a divorce took and act of Congress, at least state house.  Rachel's first husband was abusive, but there was not a way for her to get out.  Andrew Jackson took up as her defender.  And it appears they had become intimate long before any divorce could be granted, which reportedly the Jacksons thought had happened but hadn't.  At any rate, the friends of the Jackson, and the country folk where they lived had no problem with it.  The relationship between Rachel and Andrew was considered legitimate.  
Andrew won the election, but Rachel never served as first lady as she passed away before Andrew Jackson took over as president.  

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Chapter Review: How Did Cortez Conquer the Aztecs?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1997.
This chapter gives a pretty concise of the two-year struggle in which the Aztecs were defeated.  Hernan Cortez took his men on a non-sanctioned mission to Mexico to take the Aztec treasure.  On the way to the Aztec capitol city, Tenochtitlan, a city built in the middle of a lake, the gather allies from amongst those native indigenous people who were controlled by the Aztec, but historically were enemies.  Sometimes this involved small skirmishes, but by the time the Spanish force of 600 men arrived, they had numerous allies supporting them.  Add to this the confusion Montezuma had over the appearance of White forces.  The were confused because they had a legend about a White god returning to take his place as ruler.  This was enough to give Cortez a break, and the took Montezuma captive.  Controlling the ruler, the Spanish controlled the Aztecs, until the Aztecs became disillusioned with Montezuma.  They confronted him, and Montezuma attempted to calm him.  Instead the Aztecs started firing at him, and whether Montezuma was killed by the Aztecs, or the Spanish is not known, but he was of no further use to the Aztecs.  However without some kind of control, the Spanish were forced out of the city, suffering heavy casualties.  Many of the Spanish drowned with their pockets heavy with gold.  As they retreated they were met with another convoy of Spanish, sent by the Cuban governor to capture Cortez.  However Cortez and his men were able to kill the leader and instantly had many new recruits to continue their battle against the Aztecs.  They returned, and with their allies were able to take the city again, fighting house to house.  
This chapter does not mention the story about burning the boats presented by Andy Andrews.  In other study it appears this story is basically true.  However their are mixed ideas with regards to motive.  Cortez did spend considerable time with his men on the beach motivating them.  However some of the men were determine to return to Cuba as the new the mission was illegitimate.  It is not necessary that the boats were burned, but they were destroyed.  


Friday, March 24, 2017

Chapter Review: Where Did Columbus Land?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1997.
Some people, with their made up history, have accused Columbus as the culprit of everything bad thing that has happened over the past 500+ years, which is just nonsense.  Columbus was a man who embarked on a quest for a different route to India, and was willing to risk his reputation and life on that quest.   However, a more important question that where he landed, is what he thought about what he had found.  There are several islands that claim to be the spot of the first landing.  They are all in the Bahamas, and the historical record is so old, it is open to interpretation today.  Columbus never returned to the original landing site.  However a more interesting question is at what point did Columbus realize he had found something other than a route to India?  The debate here ranges from, Columbus always though he had found islands off the coast of India, v. his intention all along was to discover a new world.  What is certain is that two cultures collided, which collision caused terrible hardship for the Native Americans.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Chapter Review: Why Did Benedict Arnold Turn Traitor?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1997.
In the case of Benedict Arnold the primary motivation was greed.  Arnold had other grievances.  In fact he had been court marshaled, but cleared on most counts, however he had begun communicating with the British before this.  He also felt slighted in many instances.  He had directed several American military successes before joining the British.  However his major reason for turning was money.  He had a new wife he needed to support, and offered to surrender West Point to the British for money.   However the British officer with whom he was communicating was found out, and in turn so was Arnold.  The officer was hung, but Arnold escaped, leading troops for the British and eventually returning to England.  George Washington had given orders that Arnold was to be hung if caught.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tales of the Wild West: Campfire Stories

Tales of the Wild West Vol. 12: Campfire Stories, by Rick Steber, illustrations by Don Gray, Bonanza Publishing, Prineville, Oregon, 1994.
This is just that, very short stories, for telling around the campfire.  Each story is one page only.  I am sure a lot of these stories are nothing more than imagination, however this little book also includes a half dozen Indian legends, and some of the stories are based on fact, giving different experiences that happened to people as they settled the West.  It is weighted to the Northwest, which is where the book was published.  It tells how man got fire, with coyote tricking Skookum (evil spirits) to get it from them.  It explains why the coyote has white on its tail, shy the squirrel's tail is crooked, and the frog has no tail.  Later it talks about Skookum lake, which later became Devil's lake when renamed.  There are also stories about the Oregon trail, and hardships on the way, as well as hardships faced by early settlers.  There is a military story, of a man who was thought dead in crossing the Isthmus of Panama, but a young lady saw he was alive and his life was saved just short of burial.  Another story where it appears that someone wasn't quite saved, and was buried alive.  (that kind of story just gives me the creeps; I can't stand the thought of being enclosed in such a way.)
I enjoy short stories, and these are pretty good, and they keep moving.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chapter Review: Why did the Anasazi Abandon their Cities?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble, New York, 1997.
The Anasazi are the ancient people who were responsible for the building of the sites in Chaco Canyon, as well as Mesa Verde where they constructed cliff dwellings.  Pueblo Bonito was the largest apartment building in North America until the late 1800s.  It was five stories high.  However durable these buildings, the people abandoned these sites, Chaco Canyon by 1200, and the Mesa Verde sites by 1300.  So where did the people go?  You may thin they were conquered by another nation, but there is no evidence of a great battle or warfare. Weather conditions may have been a contributing factor.  Tree ring studies does show evidence of a drought.  However the answer may lie in a combination of factors.   Sometimes we think of the Anasazi as a distinct people that disappeared.  In fact they merged with other peoples.  The Anasazi live on in the Pueblo peoples of Arizona and New Mexico.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Chapter Review: Did Leif Ericsson Discover America?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble, New York, 1997.
I think we all pretty much accept that the Vikings visited North America in their travels.   Eric the Red had discovered Greenland, giving it a hopeful name in order to attract people to settle.  However Biarni Heriulfson first made it to North America, but was very unimpressed.  He did mention his find to Leif Ericsson, who was impressed with his story.  He went to establish the first non Native American settlement there and called in Vinland.  It wasn't until 1964 that evidence of an actual village was discovered.   This discovery included domestic items, which indicated their must have been women in the settlement.  However it didn't last long.  The natives were too inhospitable.  The mystery remains however that the site discovered is too far north for grapes to grow, thus belying the name of the city.  It could have been a rouse to encourage settlement, or the climate may have been more conducive to grapes at a past period, or there could be another site farther south.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Book Review: Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama's Dream of the Socialist States of America

Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama's Dream of the Socialist States of America by Michael Savage, William Marrow, New York, 2012.
This is a Michael Savage book written before Obama won his second term.  There are things about that Romney Obama election where Savage was right on.  The media did everything they could to destroy Romney, including the debate moderator taking Obama's side in the middle of a debate, to the media making a big thing of Romney's religion, to some king of disclosure about something Romney said in a close door meeting.  This process goes on and on.  We seek it now despite Trump's victory, every day main stream media is harping about something else.  They should let it go already.  We need to rebuild our country from the past eight years, where the only way to get the unemployment rolls down was to increase the number of people who were disabled.  Savage points out that 50 percent of Americans are now on some kind of welfare program.  At the same time, our military has never been more vulnerable.  For the past eight years our friends have become our enemies and our enemies have become the people we negotiate with, but to who's benefit.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

ESPN 30 30: Brave in the Attempt (History of Special Olympics)

This is the history of Special Olympics, and the story of Eunice Shriver.  Eunice Shriver was the sister of John F. Kennedy.  Unknown to most is that her older sister, Rosemary Kennedy, was a woman with special needs.  As such she took up the cause of those with special needs.  And in doing so,  started an international movement, and brought the cause of these people into the public light.  She started with a day camp on her back lawn in 1962 where children with intellectual disability could attend.  These children were usually hidden, and now they were welcomed.  This was a world of shame for these people.
When her brother was in the White House, she lobbied for these people.  The first legislation recognizing them was signed by her brother and committed federal funding to people with disabilities.
1968 was the first Special Olympics.  this was only a couple months after the assassination of her brother Bobby Kennedy.  This was held in Chicago, where there were over 1000 participants, and not that many spectators.  The Special Olympians quote at each meet: "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." 

When Special Olympics was featured on Wide World of Sports in 1973, the movement gained a broader audience, as many were introduced for the first time.  This was initially a mostly American event, but is now truly international.  Many celebrities, and many more volunteers have lead to this success.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

PBS NOVA Bombing Hitler's Supergun New Documentary 2016



There are same things in this presentation that I didn't know which makes it very interesting.  I wasn't even aware of a V-3 super-gun program.  This really was some gun.  It was pointed directly to London and that was the target.  It had five shafts, with five barrels in each shaft.  That would have been 25 barrels hurling projectiles towards London.  The effect could have been devastating.  The guns did not rely on just one explosion but a series of explosions to hurl the shell.  They had a cannon that could reach England, but not London.  In a big way, Hitler was relying on this weapon to turn the war.  After the Allies discover the existence of the bunkers, with a barrel, they set on a bombing program, which was not effective.  Two other programs were devised, one by England and the other by The United States.  The United State program involved the first use of a drone.  The drone used early television and remote control.  It required a pilot and copilot to take off, and get the plane in motion.  Joe Kennedy, the brother of John Kennedy was the pilot.  His father Joe Sr.  had groomed him to be the first Catholic President.  The English plan involved the first use of buster busting bombs.  This attack actually took place a month before the American attack.  The aerial photos after the attack showed that there were big holes in the bunker, but no one could see inside the bunker.  SO the American plan went through.  However there was a fault with the remote arming devise in the American plane that caused it to explode prematurely.  Joe Kennedy and his copilot were lost.  When the Allies finally reached the area where the bunker was located, the discovered that the buster bunker bombs had caused irreparable damage.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: Let's Read About...Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let's Read About martin Luther King, Jr. by Courtney Baker, Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, Scholistic, New York, 2001.
This is a very good book about the childhood of Martin Luther King, and the things that would effect him in later life.  It explains the circumstances of his developing a dream that children would be able to live together, no matter the color of their skin.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chapter Review: When Did the First People Arrive in America?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History, by Paul Aaron, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1997.
This book starts with a chapter on the origin of the Native Americans.  It proposed that the majority of them came across the Bering Strait, when it was a land bridge at the end of an ice age in about 12,000 B.C.  However there are others how have evidence of earlier inhabitants.  There are also those who contend that some of the Native Americans are of Hebrew or Middle Eastern origin.  Some even contend they were survivors of Atlantis.  I think in the end, accepting all theories as a partial explanation for the arrival of the Native Americans is a good bet.  Of course theories of native Americans coming from the lost tribes predates Joseph Smith.  The Book of Mormon explains the arrival of a group to America, although likely only a small group compared to those already here.  If you ask Native Americans themselves, they will tell you many stories of how they arrived as well.

Hydraulic Mining and the California Gold Rush

Water cannon
Hydraulic mining was a practice which worked for extracting gold.  However it was not very healthy for the environment.  The water cannon would not only force the gravel and dirt into a sluice, where the gold was separated, it also destroyed the undergrowth and the hillsides.  The practice was halted by the federal government in 1885.



This pictures shows the result on the hillside.
This is a rest area on the I-80.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Book Review: America's Tea Parties: Not One But Four!

America’s Tea Parties: Not One But Four! Boston, Charleston, New York, Philadelphia, by Marissa Moss, ABRAMS, New York, 2016.
This is an interesting read, and explains the original tea parties better than anything I have read.  I was always under the mistaken impression there was just the tea party in Boston, and didn’t know about the others.  In fact the author points out there were numerous tea parties, some small and some larger.   Sevem tea boats were sent to America, with the added tax attached.  Americas made a commitment not to accept the tea, and not to pay the tax.  Boston was the first "tea party.”  To assure the tea wasn’t used or tax collected, it was dumped into the sea.  The protestors were careful not to damage other property, even replacing a padlock.  In some instances tax collectors were tar and feathers, using pine tar so no physical injury was afflicted.  The British responded by occupying Boston, and closing the port.  They intended to keep the port closed until the destroyed tea with the tax, was paid for.  The British also passed several oppressive laws in response.  The heavy-handed response, further emboldened the Americans.  In fact many stopped being British at this time and became Americans.  Also the colonies began acting in concert with a joint goal, not to accept any tea from England.  Before this, American enjoyed a cup of tea.  However many committed not to drink tea.  The beverage of choice was thereafter coffee.  The actions surrounded the tea parties would galvanize the Americans, and eventually lead to the Revolutionary War. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Book Review: Determination: The Story of Jackie Robinson

Determination: The Story of Jackie Robinson, by Deborah Woodworth, illustrated by Robin Lawrie, The Child's World, North Mankota, Minnesota, 1999.
This is a very interesting story about the opening of Major League Baseball to African American players.  Jackie Robinson lived in an era of racial strife.  Even in Pasadena, California he was discriminated against at a lunch counter.  When he started playing baseball he had to put up with the most vile insults.  He had agreed not to respond for the first couple years, to assure that he would be able to continue to play.  He kept his agreement, but it was hard.  He had to often stay in a separate hotel than the rest of the players.  However he let his play do the talking.  His was got at all facets of the game, fielding, base running, and hitting.  His first year he was rookie of the year.  A couple years later he was MVP.  After his career he became a member of the Hall of Fame.  His ability to stick with the Dodgers lead to other African Americans being able to play.  He would call them and offer support.  Many players had a friend and mentor in Robinson.  My only complaint is one illustration has the wrong hand on top on the bat.  It is just strange.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mining Museum: New Almaden

The Mining Museum is located in Casa Grande.  The mining f mercury was very interesting.  Mining the ore was not dangerous.  The mercury is in a solid state and poses no threat.  however in the process of mercury it had to be evaporated, and the gas collected.  this did pose a risk, so the workers could only work one day per month in the processing of the ore.  They gave me a large rock of cinnebar to heft and it was very heavy for its size.
old washboard
Chinese plate made of Cinnebar (mercury ore)



Native Americans used cinnebar for body painting

Friday, February 10, 2017

Native American Stories: The Rough-Face Girl (2004)



This story is very much like Cinderella.  In fact the rough face girl is burnt by the ashes, as Cinderella's name means ashes, although she wasn't burned caring for the fire, she was dirty as a result.  In the story the Rough-Face Girl has two older sisters, who think themselves beautiful and above tending for the fire.  The both want to Mary the invisible man, but they have not seen him.  However the Rough-Face Girl has seen him, because here heart is pure.  This is a good story to remind us of what really is important.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Documentary Review: What Was Ours

"What Was Ours" is a documentary from Indie Lens released January 17 on PBS.  I enjoyed this.  It is about the Shoshone and Arapaho from Wyoming, Wind River Reservation.  When the economic foundation of the Native Americans changed, many sold their artifacts to museums, or in one case to a Deacon of the Episcopal Church, and the items were lost to the tribe.
This documentary tells three stories, two young Arapaho, one a young woman, Mikala, a high school senior.  She was princess of a Denver March Pow Wow.  Her family is important to hear, going back through generations.  He tells the story of her grandfather who was a previous keeper of artifacts.   A young man, Jordan, interested in bringing the items back to the reservation.  He is interested in the storytelling of his paper, which tells you are part of a bigger picture.   Lastly an elderly Shoshone, Philbert, who served in the Viet Nam War as a helicopter gunner.  He always carried his talisman as a good luck charm.  All three are trying to maintain their Indian ways in a modern way.  Some of the items which have left the reservation were sacred objects.
There had been a museum on the reservation,  but the items were removed when there was no longer anyone to care for them.  Philbert works for the casino, and a space in the casino set aside for a museum.
These three are part of a group which traveled to Chicago to see items stored or displayed there.  However the focus on the film is the return of items owned by the Episcopalian Church; those which had been at the museum.  In the end, there is a cooperation between the reservation, the church and the casino which lead to the items being returned and displayed on the reservation.
This documentary is fascinating.  It shows a people trying to tight rope two cultures.  This struggle for their artifacts is just one part of that struggle.  The colors and the artwork in some of the pieces is just fascinating.  They also talk about the history behind some of the pieces they are creating contemporarily.  There is also insight given on how some of the ancient pieces were used.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Witness: A documentary about Kitty Genovese (2015)

The Witness is a fascinating story.  It tells a story that has haunted America for half a century.  Kitty is the woman who was murdered in New York in 1964, reportedly as 64 people heard her screams and watched the murder but did nothing.  She has been the study of sociology books, what motivates us to act?  The brother of Kitty, who was 16 at the time of her murder, tells the family story and takes another look at the report behind this case.
The brother found out that the report of 38 witnesses was rather arbitrary.  Police however did interview 38 people.  Some heard a scream, some heard a scream and got up (it was 3 in the morning), looked out the window, didn't see or hear anything more, and went back to bed.  One man yelled down to  the perpetrator, get out of here, and he fled.  Initially Kitty was stabbed twice.  She had dropped to her knees, and struggled to her feet.  She then went around the corner and into a stairwell of her apartment.  The people then could not see her.  The perpetrator returned, and attacked her again.  He raped her and stabbed her more times.  She screamed, and on of her neighbors came to her aid after the deed had been done, when she realized what was happening.  Kitty, although mortally wounded, did not die alone, but in the arms of a friend.  In many regards the story is different than reported.  In fact, some of the witnesses said they called police.  However, the police did not respond.  They thought it was the  result of bar room shenanigans as there was a bar close by.  Even her  roommate (lover) was not awoken by the screams, and didn't know anything until the police woke her up.  She was called upon to identify the body.  This movie shows this story from many more angles that what had been represented, and the subject of many books and articles.  It is a story about mass media failure.  Many witnesses felt they were misquoted, and so stopped talking to the media.  There was not a 9-11 system at the time, and the few who called were not taken seriously.  there was only one recorded call from the night.  
One of the things this movie presents is the effect the murder had on people; the effect on the two families.  The genovese family was really torn, and coped by not talking about Kitty.  Bill, who is the narrator and teller of the story, joined the Marines, served in Viet Nam and there lost his legs.  Other siblings had their own struggles to put the events behind them.  Bill even interviewed the murderer's son, and then the effect on his family, wife and two children, was manifested.
Very good film which combats many misconceptions I had of these events.  They have an actress act out the screams, which was very eerie and brought the night home.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Book Review: Woman of Colonial America

Women of Colonial America (We the People) by Jana Voelke Studelska, Compass Point Books, North Mankato, Minnesota, 2007.
This book presents a fascinating picture of women.  I did not know women volunteered to be sold as slaves in Jamestown.  Several boatloads of women arrived and were sold as brides.  These women suffered the same hardships as the men, and many died from the elements, disease and starvation.  However, if a true settlement was to be made, women and wives were a necessary part.  These women were remarkable in the hardships they faced.  Some would survive, and families were raised.  These women were also hard working.  The economy eventually thrived with raising tobacco.  More laborer were needed, who came in the form of African slaves and indentured servants.
In Massachusetts Pilgrim women arrived with their husbands.  They were escaping religious oppression.  This society was focused on the Bible, and religion ruled.  The women were known as "Goodwife."  They made almost everything they needed.  They ground corn, barley and wheat.  They butchered pigs.  The made soap and candles from fat.  They dried fruit.  Mothers taught their skills to daughters.  Some learned midwifery.  A woman was the legal property of her husband.  The woman who did they work and obeyed her husband was respected in this society.  There were times when men and women who did not conform were kicked out of the community.  This was often for being outspoken.  Mary Dyer was banished from Boston, but kept coming back.  On the fourth occasion she was executed.
Salem is of particular note in the history of women, in the trying and execution of several as witches.  This was all based on false testimony of a few girls.  20 people and two dogs were executed.
Some women thrived outside the traditional roles of women.  Some opened boarding houses, stores or schools.  Eliza Lucas took over her fathers plantation after her mother died and her father returned to military as a British army officer.  She studied indigo, a new crop.  This was popular as a dye for clothing.  It became a source of great wealth to many farmers in the area.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Documentary Review: World War Two: 1941 and the Man of Steel (2011)

This is an interesting look at WWII from the other side, the Soviet Union side.  Joseph Stalin, whose name means steel, as a Communist dictator was a brutal murderer, killing 10 million peasants in his own country.  When the peasants would not go along with the plan to develop communal farms,  many of them killed their own cattle.  A a result Stalin transported them to remote areas, and let them starve.  He was also a master manipulator, instilling fear in his people and fellow politicians.  Many were carted off to prisons or concentration camps, or executed.  He even killed the wife of his person secretary.  No one was immune.  No one was immune.  However when the Nazis attacked the Soviet Union, many things changed.  Stalin was incredulous, and consequently the Russian  reaction was slow.  Stalin's forces were near defeat, and with them would have gone Stalin's ability to lead.  Stalin appealed to national Russian pride, rather than the benefits of communism.  In this way he rallied the people and his own position.  He determine not to abandon Moscow to the Germans, and over time this decision was born out.  When the snow hit, Russians were at a disadvantage, in terms of not having proper equipment.  Even their tanks would take hours to start in the freezing weather.  A counter attack pushed them back.  However Stalin was too greedy.  He pushed his generals into a trap, and almost a million men were captured.
In 1842 Stalin was forced to reach out to the West.  He was also forced to trust his generals.  he removed communist oversight, and let his generals lead.  He also supported them by allowing reserves to move forward.  This time around Stalingrad (which if it fell would have opened the way to Persia and the British oil reserves) the Russians were again able to push back the Germans.  However this time they were more cautious in their advance.
Behind all of this was the relationship between Stalin and Churchill.  Churchill had previously sworn to stamp out communism.  Now they were allies.  However they were allies with differences.  Russia insisted on the Balkans and Poland be given to them.  However England did not give in. Stalin insisted on a second front to relieve pressure on Russia.  Churchill agreed to opening a front in Africa.  Situations were tense, but the allegiance prevailed.  Russia and England needed each other.
After the war, Stalin went back to his old tactics, arresting generals and ruling with an iron hand.  And in truth the Soviet Union gained more territory than the had asked, as many countries, included much of Germany, were behind the iron curtain and under communist oversight.
This is a BBC production with David reynolds narrating and Russell Barnes directing.

Oakland Temple Hill Historic Tour


This is a pamphlet from the church.  The Temple Hill was used annually for an Easter presentation before construction of the temple.  The property was purchased in 1943.  My dad writes in his letters during the war of helping to establish a soldiers home at a church property in Oakland, and I assume that was on the grounds.  Construction of the area began in 1956 and of the temple 1962 with dedication of the temple in 1964 by President McKay.

The tour suggests four buildings, the visitors center, The Brooklyn memorial, The Inter Stake Center and the Temple
The visitors center


One of my highlights of my temple visits is to step onto the deck of the Brooklyn.  This memorial was added to the site in 1996.  The ship Brooklyn brought Saints to California.  It included those who settled in Fremont, Hayward, New Hope (San Joaquin County) and other areas in California.

The view of Oakland is tremendous
The interstake center
The fountains
There is now a fountain coming off the temple.  The fountains always recycle the water, using it over and over.


The panels are beautiful.  A special clamp was developed to help in their placement as the panels weigh over 12 tons.  Also if you are visiting, don't neglect the terrace flower gardens which are beautiful any time of year.