Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Obit watch: September 3, 2015.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

I was thinking this morning: the first movie I have any recollection of seeing was the original The Love Bug at a drive-in somewhere in Virginia. NYT. Nice article in the WP.

Also among the dead: Ruth Newman, who passed away at the age of 113. Ms. Newman was a survivor of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

“She would tell us she remembered my grandmother being upset because they had just milked the cow earlier, and she had separated the cream and all and put it in containers that got thrown to the floor,” Ms. Dobbs said.

There is one known survivor still alive.

Ms. Newman attended a few of the annual earthquake commemorations in San Francisco. However, her daughter said that on some occasions, Ms. Newman preferred to sleep in rather than rise before dawn to attend.

Smart woman.

Historical note, suitable for use in schools.

Friday, August 21st, 2015

By way of the invaluable NYT obits Twitter feed, I have learned that today is the 75th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky. I don’t know what I would have done if this anniversary had gotten past me.

(Technically, I suppose it is the 75th anniversary of Trotsky’s death. Ramón Mercader, or whatever his name was – he seems to have had multitudes – attacked Trotsky on the 20th, but he lingered until the 21st.)

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so how about a little musical interlude?

This might push a few buttons.

Obit watch: August 21, 2015.

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Brigadier General Frederick Payne (USMC- ret.)

Gen. Payne was 104 when he died, and was the oldest surviving US fighter ace.

During two and a half weeks in 1942, from behind the guns of his Grumman F4F Wildcat flying over the Pacific near Guadalcanal, Mr. Payne, a major at the time, downed three Japanese bombers and two Zero fighters, having already shared credit with another pilot for bringing down an enemy bomber.

Gen. Payne received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions.

With Mr. Payne’s death, there are 71 surviving aces, said Arthur Bednar, coordinator of the American Fighter Aces Association.
According to Mr. Bednar, only 1,450 American pilots qualified to be called ace, a distinction reserved for pilots who downed at least five enemy planes in aerial combat during World Wars I and II and the wars in Korea and Vietnam; in addition, six aces are recognized from the Russian Civil War, the Spanish Civil War, the Sino-Japanese War and the Arab-Israeli War. Mr. Payne was credited with five and a half kills.

Quickies: August 13, 2015.

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Hugo Pinell died yesterday.

On August 21, 1971, Pinell, George Jackson, and several other inmates attempted to escape from San Quentin. Three inmates and three guards were killed in the attempt.

Pinell received a third life sentence for attacking two officers, slitting their throats, in that escape attempt, and had spent the majority of his time since then in solitary confinement and had participated in a 2013 statewide hunger strike protesting those conditions.

Pinell was killed by another prisoner during a riot.

Noted: Warren G. Harding apparently did father a child with his mistress, Nan Britton.

Also noted: VonTrey Clark was allegedly offering $5,000 for the murder of Samantha Dean. (Previously.)

My great and good friend Joe D. and I have had past discussions about death at the Grand Canyon and at Yosemite (although I can’t find them now). In that light, this is interesting: “Forget bears: Here’s what really kills people at national parks”.

Short version: if you do die at a national park, it will probably be a drowning or a car crash. But statistically, the odds are low that you will die at a national park.

Obit watch: August 6, 2015.

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

I’ve seen some mentions of this elsewhere, but I wanted to go ahead and link to the NYT obit for John Leslie Munro, last of the Dambusters.

I also kind of want to see “The Dam Busters” now. I’m pretty sure it was on TV when I was a kid, but somehow I never caught it. And it doesn’t look like Amazon has it on instant video…

For hysterical raisins: reprinted LAT obit for Marilyn Monroe.

Paul Fussell’s “Thank God For the Atom Bomb”.

Obit watch: August 5, 2015.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Noted historian and author Robert Conquest has passed away at 98.

The scope of Stalin’s purges was laid out: seven million people arrested in the peak years, 1937 and 1938; one million executed; two million dead in the concentration camps. Mr. Conquest estimated the death toll for the Stalin era at no less than 20 million.
“His historical intuition was astonishing,” said Norman M. Naimark, a professor of Eastern European history at Stanford University. “He saw things clearly without having access to archives or internal information from the Soviet government. We had a whole industry of Soviet historians who were exposed to a lot of the same material but did not come up with the same conclusions. This was groundbreaking, pioneering work.”

I expect Lawrence will have more to say later, but I do want to tell my favorite Conquest story. When his publisher was going to issue a new edition of The Great Terror: A Reassessment, they asked Conquest if he wanted to change the title. Conquest supposedly suggested a new title of I Told You So, You Fucking Fools.

Edited to add: Lawrence’s obit is now up.

The holidays have snuck up on me…

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

…and I didn’t really have a chance to prepare.

So happy Bastille Day, everyone. I don’t actually recommend storming a prison, but if you do, please observe all safety precautions. (And don’t launch fireworks off of your head, or other body parts.)

The All-Star game kind of snuck up on me, too. But honestly, this year, I don’t give a flying flip at a rolling doughnut. There’s really no spectacularly bad team to root against. Heck, both the Astros and the Cubs are over .500.

The Beams of New College, Oxford.

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

You know this story, right? At least you do if you’re weird like me and used to read Whole Earth Review (I think they used to sell this on a poster) or if you’ve read How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built (a book I tremendously admire).

If you don’t know the story, the canonical version (minus Brand’s “That’s the way to run a culture”) is here. I always thought that was a nice story.

Turns out that story isn’t exactly 100% true. And the true version of the story is arguably even better, if you’re looking for tips on how to run a culture.

(I think I got this from TJIC on the Twitter.)

Quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore (#3 in a series).

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

I’ve been taking a bit of a break from Half-Price recently.

It wasn’t just that I was trying to save money for my trip, though that was part of it. (And I hope to have the report up in the next few days.) It was also that I kept going and not coming out with anything I wanted. The few things I did find that I wanted were somewhat overpriced in my opinion.

So I bided my time. Mom wanted to go last week to sell some books at the South Half-Price, so we went. And the drought broke: I picked up a stack of African hunting books (Peter Capstick’s Africa: A Return To The Long Grass, Robert Ruark’s Africa, and the Capstick library edition of Kill or Be Killed: The Rambling Reminiscences of an Amateur Hunter) for reasonable money.

(I miss Capstick. And yes, this does mean you will probably hear me ramble some more about Ruark. But not in this post.)

Emboldened by my recent success, I bopped over to the central Half-Price this afternoon. It isn’t a bad way to kill some time in an air-conditioned environment. And the latest entry in this series fell into my hands…

===

Back when I was taking “Modern Revolutions” at St. Ed’s (and if you’re out there somewhere, Dr. Sanchez, I hope you’re having a wonderful life), I noticed that Kermit Roosevelt Jr. seemed to pop up in a lot of places in the Middle East during the 1950s. I believe I made the observation in class that someone really needed to write a good biography of Kim, especially now that a lot of older material has been declassified.

I actually got that wish late in 2013 (though the book was a Christmas 2014 present from my beloved and indulgent sister) with the publication of Hugh Wilford’s excellent book, America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East. It isn’t exactly a biography of Kim, but it does contain a lot of biographical material about Kim, his cousin Archie, and Miles Copeland Jr. (another interesting guy, but I’ll come back to him).

I wasn’t really aware, until I read Wilford’s book, that Archie was almost as deeply involved with the CIA and the Middle East as Kim was. So when I saw this on the shelf at Half-Price today, I pulled it down for a closer look.

archie_cover

It isn’t a great copy: Lawrence would probably turn his nose up at it, as the dust jacket has a few small tears and some shelf wear. I wouldn’t call it much better than “Good”, and you can get copies on Amazon in “Very Good” condition for $2.50 or so (plus shipping). I paid $10 plus tax for this one; I do believe it is a first printing from 1988, two years before Archie died. Maybe I am a sucker, but it has one thing going for it that the other copies don’t:

lucky_signature

“For Douglas Brinkley–
With great admiration, a book I think you will enjoy – by someone I wish you could have met-
Fondly-
Lucky Roosevelt
Aug. 1997″

Lucky Roosevelt was Archie’s wife, to whom the book is dedicated.

It may not be much to other people, but it pushes a couple of my buttons. And I leave you with the quote of the day:

I have always found yogurt an excellent preventative against bacterial dysentery.

Now I’d like to find a copy of Kim’s book, Countercoup, at a reasonable price. And maybe copies of Copeland’s books, though Wilford states that they have something of a passing resemblance to the truth.

Random notes: May 18, 2015.

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Lawrence has been on the Waco biker gang shootout like a fat man on a Chinese buffet. I’d encourage you to go here and here for coverage. (I was out and about with friends pretty much all day yesterday, which is why I’m running behind.)

A few random thoughts:

  • Before yesterday, I couldn’t have named five biker gangs; my knowledge pretty much stopped with the Hells Angels, Bandidos, and Mongols (the latter because of their trademark battle). Not that I’m proud of my ignorance or anything, just saying.
  • A lot of yesterday’s stories included some variation on “Twin Peaks corporate office was unavailable for comment”. Of course; it was a Sunday. But I figure there’s got to be a 24/7 emergency number for franchise owners to call…

    “Thank you for calling the Twin Peaks hotline. If you have an emergency, press 1.”

    “Thank you. If your restaurant is on fire, press 1. If your restaurant is flooding, press 2. If there is a shootout between rival biker gangs going on, press 3. If someone is committing an act of regicide, press 4.”

    You have selected regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one.

  • Speaking of Twin Peaks corporate, Lawrence quotes: “Twin Peaks corporate “is ‘seriously considering revoking’ the Waco location’s franchise agreement.” Gee, you don’t say. (As I was writing this post, the Statesman reported that the franchise has, indeed, been yanked.)
  • “”We are horrified by the criminal, violent acts that occurred outside of our Waco restaurant today.” Shocked, shocked we are to find out that biker gangs used our restaurant as a meeting place. (I know it is early and I’m relying on news media coverage, but it seems pretty well established at this point that this was a biker hangout, and that the management knew it.)
  • Not only did they shoot up Twin Peaks, they walked the check at Denny’s and were rude to the Hooters girls. “They come in here all the time. I’ll keep waiting on them because that is my job. But this whole thing is just so crazy. And it’s also disrespectful, because of lot of those girls at Twin Peaks used to work here.”
  • Seriously, I feel bad for the Twin Peaks and Don Carlos staff, who are probably going to lose at least several days of pay (if not their jobs) over this. Twin Peaks had their liquor license yanked temporarily, though the reports I’ve read say they can reopen as a restaurant “as soon as police allow it to be opened”.

Obit watch: Garo Yepremian, legendary Miami Dolphins kicker.

A while back, I linked to a NYT story about the Clif Bar people ending their sponsorships of certain athletes because of their discomfort with the risk involved. One of those athletes, Dean Potter, was quoted in the article.

Dean Potter was killed in a BASE jumping accident over the weekend.

Penn Jillette on the closing of the Riveria. The Riveria was actually the first place I ever stayed in Vegas.

Finally, and on a lighter note, the NYT ran an interview with Don Rickles. The news peg is that the complete “CPO Sharkey” is being released on DVD Tuesday. I had actually completely forgotten the existence of “CPO Sharkey” (though I’m sure I watched it) until the paper of record reminded me. Man, it is hard getting old.

Edited to add: Well. Well well well. Well.

The Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco will be permanently closed as a result of Sunday’s deadly shooting.

Quel fromage! I wonder what they’re going to replace it with. Maybe a Bikinis? Or perhaps a Bombshells? Wait, wait, I know: perhaps someplace good? Or at least not degrading to women?

Ironic or not?

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

“Ironic or not?” is a game I used to play with one of my cow orkers at Four Letter Computer Corporation.

During the Great Bobblehead Scandal of 2012, I bought a John Wilkes Booth bobblehead.

I had it on my desk at work until this morning, when I accidentally knocked it onto the floor and…

booth

Yes, Booth broke his ankles. Much like the actual John Wilkes Booth did when he got his foot tangled in the bunting while leaping out of the presidential box at Ford’s Theater.

(Or maybe he broke his leg. Or maybe he didn’t break anything at all in the leap, but his horse injured him later. I’m a little dubious about that story; the evidence for that seems to be “he didn’t run like he had a broken leg”. Well, maybe, but given that he’d just killed the president and was fleeing the scene, adrenaline may have done a great job of hiding a broken leg.)

What really kind of totes my goat is that Booth fell maybe three feet (if that) onto a carpeted office floor. Note to self: don’t buy stuff from “The Bobblehead LLC”.

Ironic or not? Before you answer…

Robert Conquest, call your office, please.

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Traditionally, Ukrainian historians have characterized the famine as a genocide, the direct result of Stalin’s forced collectivization and the Soviet government’s requisitioning of grain for export abroad, leaving Ukraine short — and its borders sealed shut. Since Ukraine gained independence, that is what its students have been taught.

But that is not what students in southeastern Ukraine are learning this year. Instead, under orders from the newly installed separatist governments, they are getting the sanitized Russian version, in which the famine was an unavoidable tragedy that befell the entire Soviet Union.

(Harvest of Sorrow from Amazon.)