American Historic Moments; Then and Now

Don Troiani- “The Last Salute” HAP

Our friend, Practically Historical, reminds us that 154 years ago today General John B Gordon (seven times wounded, including 5 Minnie balls at Antietam) by order of General Robert E. Lee, surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia, to General Joshua L. Chamberlain (won the Medal of Honor at Little Round Top at Gettysburg, wounded six times, nearly mortally at Petersburg, and cited 4 times for bravery) of the Army of the Potomac.

As the Army of Northern Virginia marched past the Army of the Potomac, Chamberlain ordered the Army to “Carry Arms” (the marching salute) in respect, and at Gordon’s order, the Confederates responded. Chamberlain described the scene:

At the sound of that machine like snap of arms, however, General Gordon started, caught in a moment its significance, and instantly assumed the finest attitude of a soldier. He wheeled his horse facing me, touching him gently with the spur, so that the animal slightly reared, and as he wheeled, horse and rider made one motion, the horse’s head swung down with a graceful bow, and General Gordon dropped his sword point to his toe in salutation.”    Gordon truly understood the significance of the gesture, “Chamberlain called his men into line and as the Confederate soldiers marched in front of them, the veterans in blue gave a soldierly salute to those vanquished heroes—a token of respect from Americans to Americans.”

There is a lesson there for those who would destroy the heritage of the Confederacy. At least 300,000  Americans died upon those fields to (amongst their reasons) to destroy chattel slavery in America. At the end of it, they respected their opponents enough to salute them in honor, and the Confederates enough to return the salute. Without a worthy enemy, there is no honor, and so far no more worthy enemy for American arms has ever appeared than American arms. Both sides fighting for freedom, even if their definitions differed. When you denigrate the Confederates, you also denigrate the forces that fought them and freed the slaves.

And so with salutes and honors, and with terms that meant no proscription lists and no hangings, America’s hardest war ended.


Then there is this:

That is the first ever photograph of a Black Hole, something so dense that even light cannot escape. So how can we take its picture? It’s complicated. Here’s part of the explanation.

And this:

Both of those are some seriously good explaining of a subject that is quite hard to understand.

But how did this happen? A badass stem professor, of course. In fact, a Cal Tech professor with a doctorate from MIT, who graduated from West Lafayette High School. And back in the day when she was in high school used to work with her dad’s colleagues, professors at Purdue. Professor Dr. Katie Bouman. Her dad is Charles Bouman, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at Purdue. Wonder what dinner conversation was like in their house.

She explained in a TED talk what she was trying to do a couple years ago as well.

And it worked, as the picture above indicates. Pretty cool, essentially turning the entire Earth into a camera.

This is a very big deal, confirming relativity amongst other things, and another major major accomplishment for American science. I’m not a huge fan of government subsidizing stuff, but I’m not sure that any corporation would really see the point of this research, although I’ll bet there will be commercial benefits derived from it. Most corporations these days are insanely short-sighted about research. Hammer and Rails reminds us:

The combined budgets of NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Health (NIH) are just over $63 billion for FY 2019. That may sound like a lot, but when you consider that the US’s 2019 federal budget is $4.746 trillion, the three major scientific foundations and government institutions that allow for such ground breaking scientific research account for just under 1.5% of the federal budget.

For just 1.5% of our budget, we’re able to fund the great work of Dr. Bouman, along with other great scientists at Purdue, the Big Ten, and beyond. While Dr. Bouman didn’t go to Purdue (I guess I can’t blame her for going to MIT instead), her connections to the university allowed her to cultivate her passion in the STEM fields, and it shows that the impact of Purdue continue into interstellar space.

Congrats to Dr. Bouman, former President Córdova, and all the researchers involved in the Event Horizon Telescope.

Yep, and MIT had a couple things to say, as well. First, they noted how important women in Stem are to our success in space.

As noted in the comments to the Tweet above, all these women, and all of us men, as well, follow in the footsteps of Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron who wrote the first algorithm. And this:

Bomb Cyclone, Blizzard, Ice Dam: Quite the Week

A BNSF train sits in flood waters from the Platte River, in Plattsmouth, Neb., Sunday, March 17, 2019. Hundreds of people remained out of their homes in Nebraska, but rivers there were starting to recede. The National Weather Service said the Elkhorn River remained at major flood stage but was dropping. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

So I think we’ll stay a little closer to home today. Just a couple hours down I-80 to be exact. I don’t talk about it much, but Nebraska is gorgeous and has been pretty good to me.

But winter going into spring can be pretty awful. This year is an example. Let Emily Zanotti explain:

Historic floodwaters have besieged Nebraska following this week’s “Bomb Cyclone” weather event, leaving areas in and around Omaha and Belleville, Nebraska, completely underwater — and the waters show no sign of receding any time soon.

Few news organizations outside the state have been documenting the flood and subsequent levee breaches, which have left Nebraskans struggling to save their homes and farms from floodwaters reaching up to seven feet higher than they’ve ever been.

Reuters reports that the floods are the direct result of the “Bomb Cyclone,” a “winter hurricane that forms when the barometric pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours.” Between the Bomb Cyclone’s snow and rain, the Missouri River rose dramatically, and isn’t expected to officially crest until the early hours of Tuesday morning.

In Fremont, Nebraska, residents remain stranded, according to local news sources. Roads and bridges are washed out and emergency responders are furiously raising sand-bag walls in the hopes of saving homes from the rising Platte River after two levees, meant to keep the river at bay, failed completely.

Near Lincoln, roads and highways are washed out, Omaha.com reports.

“A quarter-mile section of U.S. 281 was washed out just south of the bridge over the Niobrara River,” according to the local outlet. “At the Allen ranch, floodwaters 4 to 5 feet deep inundated pastures and livestock pens,” he said, “tipping over stock trailers, flowing into farm sheds and tractors, and scattering cattle.”

“I’ve never seen anything close to this,” one rancher told reporters. “I’ve seen water come within a foot of coming over the banks of the river, but never anything like this. Never.”

Governor Ricketts and Senator Sasse have been out checking on what is needed, and if truth be told, probably mostly getting in the way. But showing them around is important too.

 

So we’ve got ourselves a bit of a mess. Ain’t the first one, won’t be the last either. And you know, they remind us of who we are, as we pitch in to help our neighbors, One of my blogfriends, a Nebraska Extension Agent (no doubt she is very busy now) put it this way.

Perspective. I spoke a little of this last week. This week, in the midst of much occurring, it was all about perspective for me. It’s hard to find words for the devastation occurring in Nebraska. Perhaps like me, you found yourself feeling a tad overwhelmed or helpless by the images of damage…cattle being dug out of snow or stranded on islands and whole communities engulfed by water… I think what made this extra hard for me is that so many of our people are hurting and affected. Tornadoes and hail damage are somewhat more isolated for allowing people to more easily respond. This has been harder to help with road and bridge infrastructure damaged in so much of the State. And, unfortunately, we will feel these effects for a long time.

Perspective for me was counting my blessings. Because I rely a great deal on my faith, considering worse things I’ve personally gone through and remembering God’s faithfulness to me helps me with perspective. My family is all safe and we have each other, and my dad’s livestock are also safe. Those statements aren’t true for some I know who lost family and livestock this week and many more that I don’t know. In talking to a farmer friend, he was also sharing how he kept thinking about his blessings and that was the message he was sharing with others. So perhaps thinking of our blessings can help all of us with so much loss all around us? That actually is one of the research-based tips mentioned in this article: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/coping-stress-during-crisis.

Nebraskans are so resilient! In the midst of tragedy, the stories of people pulling together to help however they can is heart-warming. Though we may experience more devastation for a time, we will get through this! #NebraskaStrong.

#NebraskaStrong. Yep, that describes us. We’re fairly quiet folk, not given to overtalking things or very comfortable showing emotions. We tend toward both the solid and the stolid.  But, we’ve been in this country long enough to know that the old saying was right, the strong do thrive, the sick do die, and the weak never start stay back east. That is the story of the Great American Desert, and neither floodwater nor ice dam, neither blizzard nor tornado will change it. It’s a story of neighbors banding together and facing their troubles down. It’s a very American story, perhaps the American story, neighbors standing together through anything, its what we do, just as de Tocqueville wrote way back when it’s still our way.

If you are wondering how this screws up our lives going forward, my friend’s blog also passes along quite a bit of the information that the University of Nebraska is telling us. Very useful, and highly recommended.

 

Sunday Funnies: Late but Hating Hate

Well, I refused to give up an hours sleep last night, so I’m rather late this morning, since they changed the clocks anyway. But a busy week.

In other news: Turkeys vote for Christmas

Or not replacing it!

 

And, of course, and still more double trouble

 

The Eagle and the Dragon

David Runciman wants you to know that the 21st Century will be China’s just as the 20th was America’s. Isn’t that special! Maybe, but frankly, I doubt it. So does Steven W. Mosher, who writes about that in American Greatness.

Let’s take a look.

America’s best days are behind it, says David Runciman, in his book, How Democracy Ends.

Runciman sounds for all the world like a big “D” Democrat—a member of the political party that, at least since the time of Jimmy Carter, has specialized in “malaise.” The Democrat “two-step” goes like this. First, they cause “malaise” by hamstringing the economy, then they highlight it as an excuse to enact government programs that make even more people dependent upon the welfare state they control.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, specializes in “robust good health.” His booming optimism is reminiscent of Teddy Roosevelt’s. You can almost imagine him charging up San Juan Hill. How invigorating and refreshing to see energy, rather than excuses, in the Oval Office.

Like Roosevelt and Reagan, Trump believes that America’s best days are ahead of it.

Mosher goes on to note that it is China that has started to decline since the American people decided to turn our back on despair and dependency by electing Trump. He says, and I agree, it might have been true if we had elected Clinton.

But we didn’t. We elected Trump, a proven fighter who fights to win and is already doing so, as we see China and the EU start to slip into recession. Mind you, trade is not a strictly a win-lose game. Done properly it is a win-win thing. But the US has been playing a sucker’s bet since 1945, first intended to help the world to recover, and then out of habit until it was starting to really hurt America. To every thing, there is a time, wrote the Teacher, and the time to hurt ourselves to help others is no more.

While the Brits may not have caught on to the fact that America’s best days are ahead of it, the Democrats have. Witness the increasingly panicky calls for impeachment.

When their chief initiative is to carry out a political coup to remove their political opponent from office they are truly out of ideas.

Read his article (linked above) for his observations on China. I agree, from what I see. But he’s an expert, I’m not, but I do have eyes.

Business Insider is also reporting on troubles in China.

According to a paper published in January by Hurun Report, a Shanghai-based research firm, just over one-third of the superrich Chinese citizens in a survey described themselves as “very confident” about the future of the Chinese economy.

On the surface, that seems like a solid number, but it is startling when compared with the same survey two years ago, which showed that nearly two-thirds were very confident in China’s economic future. It is also the lowest number in the 15 years the survey has been produced, Hurun said.

The same survey from Hurun also found that the number of wealthy Chinese who had “no confidence at all” in China’s economic future had doubled from last year’s survey to 14%.

Hurun’s survey of 465 superrich Chinese citizens also found that almost half were considering emigrating or had already made moves to emigrate from China.

Heh! Funny how that happens when you feel you know better than your people. Here it is, more people saying the US will win again.

Why?

You know why!

Because Hillary will never be President.

Always amazing what freedom, politically, and in markets can do.

Green New Dream and Brexit: the Musical

Well, I think we’ll do a few more videos today.

The Clear Energy Alliance has a series of videos up explaining just how incredibly stupid Occasional Cortex’s (or AOC, if you insist) Green New Deal is.

I’ll post a couple of the series, but more at the link.

and

They are completely right, of course. This whole plan is substandard for college freshmen over a football weekend. But that is fairly standard for Congress.

Or Parliament for that matter, Brexit the Musical is available. It’s not quite up to the standard of Hamilton, but if the F bomb in a posh British accent doesn’t overly bother you, it’s pretty good. But perhaps a bit NSFW

Hat tip to PowerLine for both.

75 Years: The Mighty Eighth and American Exceptionalism

Something we don’t talk about too much is that while almost any nation will defend itself, one of the ways that America is exceptional is our willingness to defend freedom for other people as well as ourselves. This has been quite evident in the last century. It was brought to my attention by this from Vassar Bushmills at Unified Patriots 

[…]

    Why is it conservatives never come right out and say that the willingness of American men and women to die for the cause of not just liberty, but other men’s liberty, is a defining characteristic of American spirit? I know Ron Paul doesn’t agree, nor do Libertarians, for that matter.

But I can say this…go tell Putin’s new generation of America-haters that those 250,000 white crosses in Europe are shoulders they stand on as well. While Europe bears even more Russian graves than American, no slander ever accused any Russian of dying for the liberty of the French. But the fact that Americans have, and have shown in recent history they are still willing to ensures that none of their generation will ever die trying to repeat what their forbears did so well.

For that you owe America, not Putin, moi priyatyel.

And because of that willingness to die for other’s freedom, we now have the amazing sight of Europe, for most of us, our homelands, becoming not proud countries as before, but willing colonists, no longer willing to stand on their own feet, for all their whingeing, they are simply a protectorate of the United States. All those famous names, with only a few exceptions like Britain and Poland, have sold their sovereignty to us, and increasingly to Brussels. Sad, but the truth.

Vassar is absolutely correct, in neither 1917 nor 1942 was there any essential American national interest in the European war. In fact, it’s is quite possible that if we hadn’t stood with China in the 1930s, Japan might not have attacked us at all, we probably would have lost the Philippines, which if I recall correctly, were scheduled for independence on 4 July 1942 anyway, but, not a lot else.

In other words, we made it our business. And when Americans do business, we damned well do business. Göring’s Luftwaffe had a propensity to bomb civilians, and there’s an old rule about that, it’s called

Dresden in 1945

Dresden in 1945

Sow the Wind: Reap the Whirlwind

and on 13 February 1945, it came true as the US 8th Army Air Force in combination with the RAF Bomber Command burned down (in the first man-made firestorm) the city of Dresden. It caused far more casualties than Hiroshima, by the way.

But that’s toward the end of the story, 75 years ago today, that same Air Force, the Mighty Eighth mounted the first of a series of strikes which have become known as Big Week. The targets included:  LeipzigBrunswickGothaRegensburgSchweinfurtAugsburgStuttgart and Steyr but, the real target was the Luftwaffe, all of these cities were crucial in aircraft production.

The time would come, on 4 June 1944 when General Eisenhower would be able to tell the forces assembled for Overlord that “if you see aircraft, they will be ours” and it was nearly true, anywhere in Europe that summer.

But it was expensive, many of those crosses that Vladimir spoke of above are here, in Cambridge, England. Most of these men were in the Mighty Eighth. And these were only the ones that made it back to base, many others were in those aircraft that blew up, or crashed, or just plain never got home. In fact 75 years ago today, we lost sixty aircraft, that is 600 hundred men, and many more were wounded and killed in aircraft that came home. To the point that 8th AAF took higher casualties than any other like size unit in Europe. And higher in World War II than the whole United States Marine Corp.

Cambridge American Military Cemetery, England

And so, it went until the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945.

And here is a clip from one of my all-time top five favorite movies Twelve O’Clock High, that speaks to what it took.

Little Easton St. Mary’s Church, Essex England

And interestingly, this story was supposedly based on the 100th Bombardment Group H, which came to be known as “The Bloody Hundredth” because of its losses. If you happen to be around Thorpe Abbotts in Norfolk, England, you will find that their control tower and some other buildings are now a museum dedicated to the 100th. This is how we and the British really established that special relationship that the politicians like to talk about, but it has much more to do with our peoples than our governments. For more about how the English remember the 8th USAAF go to The Eighth in the East.

But, you know the story doesn’t end on VE and VJ day does it. On VJ day America had 14,000,000 men in uniform, a navy far stronger than the rest of the world combined, an incomparable strategic bombing force, not to mention the world’s only atomic bomb, and over half of world domestic product. Never before or since has one country so dominated the world as on that September afternoon on the deck of the USS Missouri.

So what did America do?

It demobilized just as fast as it could, started making civilian goods and loaning giving money to Europe and Japan to rebuild their industries to be far more modern than American ones. It’s what we do.

But think about this, if we had been the imperialists that everybody wants to call us today, well who exactly was going to stop us in 1945. The British, who came out of the war probably second best were exhausted, and everybody else was flat on their back, except maybe the Russians, and the German army was more than willing for a rematch backed by the United States.

And when the Soviet Union started threatening Europe, the old names came back, for the 8th United States Air Force is still here, still the premier strategic bombing (and now missile) force in the world, even now, after the defeat of communism, still on guard.

But the time is coming when the world is going to have to take care of itself when we have to concentrate on getting our own house in order, and that time may be coming soon. So if you’re one of those NATO countries that we’ve been defending for the last century, you might want to think about defending yourselves, America may not always be there to cover you.

Heed not the sighs and sermons,
Go, gallant lads, again.
Let some folk think of Germans—
We think of Pole and Dane.
March 19, 1944

 

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