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  • Archive for August, 2013

    ‘Unseen World War I photos’

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 9th August 2013 (All posts by )

    I am posting these images with the kind permission from Dean Putney.

    Dean Putney, a software developer at boing boing, is currently busy scanning in and publishing pictures from a family heirloom – a photo album with a huge number of photographs from World War I. They were taken by his great-grandfather Walter Koessler, who served as an officer in the German army during the war. Koessler later emigrated to the United States, where he worked as an art director at movie studios, even though he was trained as an architect.

    The images are posted at his Tumblr blog, Walter Koessler project. A selection also has been posted at boing boing.

    While there are a great many images from WW I, these are quite unique. As he writes at his blog:

    1 Walter was German, and he was an independent photographer. Most surviving photos from the war are from the Allies, and they tend to be propaganda or journalistic. Walter’s photos are very personal.

    Photography was going through big changes at the time, and Walter was a major early adopter. Film cameras were fairly new, and he took his in the trenches and everywhere else. WWI saw the first major use of airplanes in war, and Walter took aerial reconnaissance photos from biplanes and hot air balloons.

    He has a project at Kickstarter to publish the images in high quality form, and most importantly, as a coherent collection.

    If you want to contribute, pledges start at a $1 minimum.

    Posted in Europe, Germany, History, Photos | 9 Comments »

    History Friday: Some Curious Facts You Might Not Have Known . . .

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 9th August 2013 (All posts by )

    . . . . About the trans-Mississippi West, and the emigrant trails generally.

    In the interests of writing what now turns out to be seven books and counting, I spent the last couple of years immersed in a tidal-wave of books about the American West; the California and Oregon emigrant trails, the settlement of Texas, studies of various Indian tribes, the post-Civil War Army, cattle drives and all that.

    I have encountered all sorts of amusing things that either I didn’t know, or knew vaguely of, or that are not generally known, except by local historians and enthusiasts. Some of these may come as a great surprise to those who know only of the 19th Century American West through TV shows and movies. Such as:

    A flock of sheep was taken along the Oregon Trail in the early 1840ies. And in 1847 a large wagon of nursery stock: approximately 700 live young plants, of various types of fruit and nut trees, and vines. This at a time when it still generally took at least five months to cross two thirds of the North American continent.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, History | 15 Comments »

    History Friday: US Military Preparations The Day Nagasaki Was Nuked

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 9th August 2013 (All posts by )

    It has become something of a tradition for Leftists to commemorate the US A-bomb attacks on Imperial Japan, and on 9 August to try and make the case that even if the first bomb was needed — which it was not — that the second bomb was what amounted to a war crime because the American government and military knew the Japanese were trying to surrender, but wanted to intimidate the Soviet Union with the A-Bomb. This is the heart of Gar Alperovitz's book Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam in 1965, his 1994 revision Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam: The Use of the Atomic Bomb and the American Confrontation with Soviet Power and his 1995 book Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: And the Architecture of an American Myth.

    Starting in the 1990's military historians, using declassified "Ultra" signals intelligence files proceeded to destroy "Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam" and all the books based upon it. Edward Drea's 1992 Macarthur’s Ultra: Codebreaking and the War Against Japan, 1942-1945, Richard Frank's 1999 Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire and Robert James Maddox's 2007 Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism all do a very good job demolishing "Atomic Diplomacy" based arguments.

    Atomic Bomb Pit #2 - B-29 BocksCar Loading Site
    Atomic Bomb Pit #2 – B-29 BocksCar’s Loading Site on Tinian

    On Chicago Boyz it has also become a tradition for me to write on this subject at this time of year, doing my part to point out the untruths of “Atomic Diplomacy” as well.

    See the following posts:
    2012 – Nagasaki Plus 67 Years
    2011 – Happy V-J Day!
    2010 – Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Saving Hirohito’s Phony Baloney Job
    and Hiroshima — The A-bomb plus 65 years

    This 2013 column will address this subject by concentrating on “US Military Preparations The Day Nagasaki Was Nuked” to point out that in both word and in deed, the US Military believed Japan was going to fight to the bitter end, until it finally surrendered on August 14th 1945. And if Japan had not surrendered, every weapon America had would be involved in the hell on earth which would have been the conquest and subjugation of the Imperial Japanese Military and People.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History, Military Affairs, USA, War and Peace | 22 Comments »

    Quote from Rudolf Binding, A Fatalist at War

    Posted by Lexington Green on 7th August 2013 (All posts by )

    Recently I read Trench Warfare 1850-1950 by Anthony Saunders, which is very good. Saunders cites to a German war memoir I had not heard of before: Rudolf Binding, A Fatalist at War. It was published in German in 1927 and in English in 1929. I bought it. It is a collection of excerpts from Binding’s letters and diaries. Binding was 46 when the war broke out, and he volunteered, serving in the cavalry. I am only up to December of 1914 and haven’t read enough to assess Binding yet.

    I ran into this entry:

    Drywege, December 19, 1914
    What the English do, they do well; they will make good soldiers. Perhaps not so many as people think, but good ones. If England were to introduce conscription it would be more dangerous for us than anything she has ever done. For I do not agree with those who ask contemptuously where they will find officers and N.C.O.s. They will all come — the rowing blues, the leading lights of the cricket and football teams, the athletic trainers, runners and many more. Are the Berlin police to be compared with the English police, although most of them are Prussian N.C.O.s? The English policemen know how to deal with masses; they handle them perfectly. The quality of troops has always compensated for their comparatively small numbers. They have given us plenty of trouble here, too, though they are, in fact, definitely outnumbered.

    Binding correctly perceived that leadership talent was dispersed throughout English society, and would be of military value in a mass army.

    Interesting that he calls the town, presumably in Belgium, where he is billeted “Drywege.” But there is no town by that name as far as Google is concerned.

    Posted in Book Notes, History, Military Affairs | 6 Comments »

    The Mentality of the Totalitarian Revolutionary

    Posted by David Foster on 7th August 2013 (All posts by )

    Re-reading Doctor Zhivago, I was struck by the following passage:

    That’s just the point, Larisa Feodorovna. There are limits to everything. In all this time something definite should have been achieved. But it turns out that those who inspired the revolution aren’t at home in anything except change and turmoil, they aren’t happy with anything that’s on less than a world scale. For them transitional periods, worlds in the making, are an end in themselves. They aren’t trained for anything else, they don’t know anything except that. And do you know why these never-ending preparations are so futile? It’s because these men haven’t any real capacities, they are incompetent. Man is born to live, not to prepare for life. Life itself, the phenomenon of life, the gift of life, is so breath-takingly serious. So why substitute this childish harlequinade of immature fantasies, these schoolboy escapades?

    Zhivago’s words here provide an interesting parallel to the observations of Sebasian Haffner from inter-war Germany…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Leftism, Russia, Society, Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

    Counting the Blessings

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th August 2013 (All posts by )

    Among the blessing that is about biggest in my inventory of them – aside from finishing out my final military tour in Texas, which I didn’t much like at the time, since it was third on my list of choices. Dammit, the personnel who dictated broadcaster assignments were supposed to turn themselves inside out, giving retiring broadcasting personnel their first choice of a final assignment location since they could then do things like buy a house and work up local connections to facilitate the post-retirement second career which the customary long stretches of overseas/remote duty tours usually didn’t allow an opportunity to do. It turned out for the best, although I certainly didn’t see it so at the time. The main thing is that not only am I now glad that I am retired and long past being recalled to active duty (like they couldn’t get enough military broadcaster talent that they have to recall a slightly overweight lady of certain age) but I am glad that Blondie is also long past recall. And that she didn’t sign up for Reserve duty, either.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Christianity, Conservatism, National Security, Personal Narrative | 5 Comments »

    Obama’s Anti-Terror Policy Can’t Be a Continuation of Bush’s Policy

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th August 2013 (All posts by )

    J. E. Dyer:

    Foreign policy doesn’t operate mechanically, on autopilot. Its effectiveness is determined entirely by the nature of the national administrations involved. You take the Bush 41 administration, and it can make a particular basic policy — say, in the war on terror — achieve a detectable level of good effect, in spite of the setbacks and “friction” (in the Clausewitzian sense) that are inevitable with international relations.
    You take the Obama administration, and officially, it will modify the same basic policy on the edges. But in reality, the Obama administration becomes known for things like zero follow-through, strategic sclerosis, narcissism, unreliability, and desperation for photo ops and a favorable narrative. The same policy, modified, can’t work under those conditions.

    This is a good point and should give pause to anyone who is reassured by assertions that the Obama administration’s anti-terror activities are an extension of what the Bush administration did. In fact, Obama’s weakness and ineptitude make it impossible for him to get the results Bush did, even if Obama wants to.

    Executive competence is a critical variable in foreign-policy success. There is no adequate workaround for executive incompetence.

    Posted in National Security, Obama, Quotations | 7 Comments »

    Why, Yes – Everything is Bigger

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 4th August 2013 (All posts by )

    In Texas. Proof below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Humor, Photos | 10 Comments »

    NIN At Lollapalooza And Sign Language Interpreter

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 3rd August 2013 (All posts by )

    Dan and I went to Lollapalooza for the Friday, August 2nd show. We primarily went to see Nine Inch Nails who headlined on the North Stage late Friday night.

    I saw NIN at Lollapalooza a few years ago and frankly, the show sucked. I am a big NIN fan and I came away seriously disappointed, especially since Kanye was tearing it up on the other side of the festival. The crowd was dead, the volume was low, they seemed to choose a strange mix of songs, and the light show was boring.

    This time NIN put on a great show, with a huge light show, and an awesome sounding band. I was very impressed. Also note the “sign language interpreter” on the lower left. They have these ASL interpreters at many festivals now and they are fun to watch and really seem to get into the music. You can see her dance and move with “The Hand That Feeds” in the short video here. I wanted to see what she was going to do for the notorious song “Closer” but this is more family friendly.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Music | 4 Comments »

    An Age of Decline?

    Posted by David Foster on 3rd August 2013 (All posts by )

    In 2011, I reviewed a biography of General Bernard Schriever, who led missile development activities for the US Air Force. The bio noted that Schriever and his crew had been referred to as “tomorrow’s men” in a 1957 TIME cover story, to which I commented:

    In retrospect, this was true only if one defined “tomorrow” as the interval between the appearance of the article and, say, July 1969. Actually it could be argued that Schriever was a man of the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, the era of the Panama Canal and the Hoover Dam and the Empire State Building. In our current era, the execution of such projects has become difficult almost to the point of impossibility. Schreiver faced down General LeMay and Secretary Talbott..would a modern-day Schriever be able to prevail against the lilliputian army of lawyers, “community activists,” and “public interest” nonprofits who obstruct every single project of any size?

    July 1969 was of course the month in which the American manned moon landing took place. A couple of months ago, Daniel Greenfield (aka Sultan Knish) marked to anniversary of the landing with one of the most depressing blog posts of the year.

    No one who was born after 1935 has walked on the moon. That period is swiftly becoming a historical relic. A thing that men did who lived long ago. A great work of other times like the building of dams and fleets, the winning of wars and the expansion of frontiers. Those are things that the men of back then did. Those are not things that we do anymore…

    In those long lost days, we did great things. The bureaucrats took their cut and the contractors chiseled and the lobbyists lobbied and the whole great vulture pack of government swarmed and screeched and still somehow, with a billion monkeys on our back, we moved forward, because we still had great goals. Now our goal is government. There is no longer a moon. Only a paper moon.

    The whole mess of bureaucrats, contractors, lobbyists, policy experts, consultants, congressmen, aides, crooks, creeps, thieves and agents is no longer a necessary evil that we put up with in order to accomplish great things. It is the great thing that we accomplish. There are no more moon landings, no more dams or tallest buildings in the world. The massive towering edifice of our own government is now our moon landing, our Hoover Dam, our Empire State Building…

    We have replaced confidence with attitude. And the difference between them is the same as the difference between a civilization and the savages outside. Confidence comes from competence. Attitude comes from rituals of pride uninformed by achievements.

    Please read the whole depressing thing. And then think about it. And discuss.

    Can we convince the Sultan that things are not really so bleak, that American can and will have a brilliant future?

    Or do we have to admit that things are really as dark as portrayed in the post?


    Posted in History, Society, Space, USA | 37 Comments »

    History Friday: Trenches Don’t Work Well If They Aren’t Messy

    Posted by Lexington Green on 2nd August 2013 (All posts by )

    I recently purchased Trench Warfare 1850-1950 by Anthony Saunders. I know of no other book that covers the topic over this span of time. We all know about the American Civil War and its premonitions of the Western Front trench works in its later stages, e.g. before Petersburg. Also, I was struck when reading the Memoirs of Lord Wolseley by his depiction of the fighting before Sebastopol during the Crimean War, and how much it sounded like World War I.

    Upon receiving the book, I opened it at random and found this:

    The quality of the British trenches varied according to which battalion had been responsible for their original construction and the attitude to trench maintenance of those who came afterward. One aspect that was universal in the early days was was uniformity and neatness, much prized initially as evidence of soldierly bearing and professionalism. Uniformity and neatness were soon discovered to be the worst possible qualities in an entrenchment. Indeed, they came to symbolize inexperience and lack of skill in trench fighting. Such trenches were killers because even the slightest movement or change that broke the neat orderliness were instantly seen; and German snipers soon learned the locations in the Allied trenches where men were careless. Almost from the start of trench warfare, German snipers made British parapets dangerous places for the unwary and they took a steady toll of the incautious. Ideally, trenches not only blended into their surroundings, but the parapet was disordered, uneven and camouflaged, all of this designed to hide the location of the trench and prevent movement in it from being noticed. There are few straight lines of the sort so favoured by peace-time sergeant-majors to be found in nature. Such military orderliness had no place in the trenches of the Western Front.

    Nicely put. It appears I am in good authorial hands.

    Posted in Book Notes, History, Military Affairs | 3 Comments »

    History Friday: Where Legends Were Born – The Long Trail Cattle Drives

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 2nd August 2013 (All posts by )

    For no good reason that I have ever been able to figure out – the figure of the cowboy remains about the most dominant figure in our mental landscape of the Wild West – the version of the 19th century American frontier that the public usually knows best, through novels, movies and television. The version of the Wild West which most people have in mind when they consider that period is post-Civil War as to time frame and available technology, and most often centered on aspects of cattle ranches, cow-towns, and long-trail cattle drives – and the hired men who performed the grunt work involved – or those various forces arrayed against them; homesteaders, rustlers and assorted other stock baddies. The long-trail drives actually took place over a fairly limited time; about ten or fifteen years, but those few years established an undying legend, especially in the minds of people anywhere else or at any other time. The realities of it all, of course, are a bit more nuanced, a bit more complicated, and perhaps a bit more interesting.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Entrepreneurship, History | 7 Comments »

    History Friday: Validating a Pro-MacArthur Story

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 2nd August 2013 (All posts by )

    In my last column (History Friday — MacArthur: A General Made for Another Convenient Lie) I opened with the following point about General Douglas MacArthur —

    “One of the important things to know about General Douglas MacArthur was that almost nothing said or written about him can be trusted without extensive research to validate its truthfulness. …”

    …and explained how MacArthur’s very personally poisonous relations with Australian Military Forces commander General Blamey polluted the historical record of the events around the Sandukan Death March.

    General Douglas MacArthur decorates General George Kenney

    General Douglas MacArthur decorates General George Kenney

    This week is a MacArthur story from 180 degree opposite direction than the Blamey one, via General George L. Kenney’s book “The MacArthur I Know”. Kenney was General Douglas MacArthur’s 3rd and final air commander for WW2 and, while not part of the “Bataan Gang,” he became a fierce partisan for MacArthur. This is story is from the book’s Chapter III. I Join MacArthur’s Command at page 56 —

    At every opportunity I talked MacArthur to the kids. I told them that he appreciated the place of air power and that his backing of me was responsible for the improvement in food and living conditions during the past few weeks. We had started flying fresh meat to New Guinea and screening all mess halls and kitchens. The dysentery and malaria rates had dropped amazingly. Men were even beginning to get back some of the weight they had lost. MacArthur had approved my action, in spite of the expressed disapproval of many of his staff and Service of Supply people.

    It turns out that this pro-MacArthur story Kenney told was not the whole truth…it was over a longer period and -A LOT- more complicated.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, USA, War and Peace | 26 Comments »