Tag: History

What Do You Mean We Have To Sink The Bismarck Again?


My Mom and Dad met when they were reporters for the El Paso Times.  After they married, my father became a correspondent* for the Associated Press in New Mexico.  My mother worked as a police reporter, stringer, and photographer until my father became AP bureau chief.

She still reads two physical newspapers every day.  During a visit last week, she handed me this clipping, asking “How did that happen?”

Quote of the Day: John S. Mosby


“Historic truth ought to be no less sacred than religion.”

I live in Loudoun County, which, as you may know, is becoming ground zero in the Critical Race Theory battle in the schools. It is also a hotbed of name-changing to whitewash (can I still say that?) history.

Where Have You Gone, Samuil? A Journey Through Identity and Exile with Vladislav Khodasevich (Borscht Report #9/Group Writing)


When it comes to pre-WWII Russian literary critics and poets, Vladislav Khodasevich is not well known, particularly in the West. Compared to someone like, say, Bunin or Tsvetaeva, he’s been largely ignored. But Khodasevich deserves attention, both as a skilled memoirist and poet, and as one of the few who chronicled the whole journey of his generation through the realities of WWI and the White exile, grappling with issues of right, honor, and Russian identity, especially for those who carried non-Russian blood in the vast multiethnic empire. 

Born in Moscow in May of 1886, Khodasevich was the son of a Polish nobleman and a Jewish woman. Unlike the union of Vera and Vladimir Nabokov, though, theirs was not an unusual act of mutual tolerance. Jacob Brafman, Khodasevich’s maternal grandfather, was a famous convert from Judaism to Orthodoxy, who wrote The Book of Kahal, a forerunner to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He entered the law faculty of Moscow University in 1904, then switched to history and philology the next year, staying on until 1910. It was during his time at the university that Vladislav met Samuil Kissin, a law student and aspiring poet from Orsha who was a year older than he. Twenty years later, he said Kissin, whom he affectionately nicknamed Muni, was “как бы вторым «я»” (like my second self) and reflected on how “we lived in such a faithful brotherhood, in such close love, which now seems wonderful to me.”

Despite his training, Khodasevich did not want to be a historian or a philologist, but, like Kissin, a poet, and dropped out in the final year of his course. He frequented Moscow’s literary salons and cafes, and published articles and poems for famous literary magazines, like Golden Fleece and Libra. Although he was the descendant of a noble family, his father had come to Russia impoverished, and Kissin, who hailed from an observant Jewish merchant family (he was trained in Hebrew and the Talmud at home during his childhood) actually had a much more secure financial position, though he was always willing and happy to support his friend along with himself. 

Diplomacy Won the Cold War


General Donn StarryStrategic clarity plus skillful diplomacy won a Beltway battle, setting conditions for Cold War victory. This is a story of a star among senior military leaders, U. S. Army General Donn Starry. He was not alone, but was a key change agent when the armed services were floundering post-Vietnam. General Starry, an Army officer, had no power over his Air Force counterparts. Yet, over the course of several years, Starry both kept the scale of the Warsaw Pact threat clear and persuaded senior Air Force staff, with their congressional backers, that there was a win-win solution between the two services. He was one of the leaders at the heart of the AirLand Battle doctrinal shift. General Starry’s story offers lessons for successful leadership and organizational change beyond those rare occasions when orders command action. In addition to leadership lessons, we will have a brief cautionary tale about the dangerous power of a tale well told.

Post-Vietnam Conditions

Not just equipment

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I used to subscribe to Harper’s Magazine back in the day when it was closer to classical liberalism than Leftist ideology. I still have a handful of those magazines from the 1980s. Walter Karp, historian and contributing editor, was what we would call today a “good liberal.” And he understood the problem with public (read […]

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Training Young Heroes in the Present Crisis


I just finished teaching military history in a homeschool co-op. The last day was devoted to the topic of masculinity: what it is and how it relates to war. At the last minute, I tore up my notes and rewrote my class plan in response to some reading I found.

The students were 11 boys, ages 13-17.

The old plan started with a discussion of courage based on a reading from Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, which gives a fictional account of the Battle of Thermopylae. We had previously covered Christian just war theory and I thought a bit of pagan philosophy would be an interesting contrast.

How Not to Win Friends and Influence People: Noa Tishby


red green capitalI wanted to like Noa Tishby. I was prepared to hear her out as a courageous voice in Hollywood and a potential cobelligerent against the new Red-Green alliance.* I value Scott Johnson’s opinions in the main, having followed PowerLine Blog since they eviscerated Dan Rather’s attempt to steal the 2004 election with a blatantly fraudulent story about George W. Bush’s Texas Air Guard service record. Scott recommended readers to “meet Noa Tishby.” So, I read Robert Sarner’s Times of Israel profile “Israeli actress Noa Tishby’s ‘Simple Guide’ to Israel shakes up US progressives.” So far so good. Then, I followed the link to Matt Lewis’s long-form web video interview of Noa Tisby on the new book she reportedly wrote entirely on her own, Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth. Sad.

I embed, you go watch and decide, then come back to check my opinion. Or read on and then go check my assessment against the tape. By way of warning, this was not safe for younger children’s ears. This is so for all too many web-exclusive videos. She asks the profanity question, common these days as a “mind if I smoke” question used to be. Once the cursing/smoking light is on, the filter comes off, especially late in the interview when she talks about being a woman in Hollywood with “Weinstein” being the daily norm for decades.

May Day Down by Law


ConstitutionMay 1st, May Day, is formally recognized in the United States as Law Day, not Workers Day, and certainly not International Workers Day. We successfully rejected the left’s class warfare agenda for a century because of the reality of American law, grounded in our foundational law, the Constitution of the United States of America. Because of our reasonable reliance on a system of laws, not men, we observed that economic status was not fixed from birth, so the weeds of envy could not take deep root on American soil. That is why the left both set about subverting our system of law and creating a different basis for division, hate, and envy.

The effort to make May Day a class-based workers holiday was driven by the early socialist movement:

In 1889 an international federation of socialist groups and trade unions designated May 1 as a day in support of workers, in commemoration of the Haymarket Riot in Chicago (1886). Five years later, U.S. Pres. Grover Cleveland, uneasy with the socialist origins of Workers’ Day, signed legislation to make Labor Day—already held in some states on the first Monday of September—the official U.S. holiday in honour of workers. Canada followed suit not long afterward.

For Want of Wild Beasts: Meet Me at the Corner of Auburn and Prescott


“Botany is 98% burnouts and potheads.”

The registrar, a kindly, aging woman with a sharp Boston accent, had said that to him on the first day of orientation, handing over his class schedule. Strictly speaking, a medical doctor shouldn’t have been teaching botany at all, but there had been a blank space in his teaching schedule, and the matter of various athletes and sons (and daughters) of privilege who needed science credits. Mix in a few naive humanities majors, frightened of the harder sciences and without any older friends to warn them against it, and that about made up one of his classes. If nothing else, it made his litany of pre-med modules more bearable. 

The Computer Age Turns 75


In February 1946, the first general-purpose electronic computer, the ENIA, was introduced to the public. Nothing like ENIAC had been seen before, and the unveiling of the computer, a room-filling machine with lots of flashing lights and switches–made quite an impact.

ENIAC (the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was created primarily to help with the trajectory-calculation problems for artillery shells and bombs, a problem that was requiring increasing numbers of people for manual computations. John Mauchly, a physics professor attending a summer session at the University of Pennsylvania, and J Presper Eckert, a 24-year-old grad student, proposed the machine after observing the work of the women (including Mauchly’s wife Mary) who had been hired to assist the Army with these calculations. The proposal made its way to the Army’s liason with Penn, and that officer, Lieutenant Herman Goldstine, took up the project’s cause. (Goldstine apparently heard about the proposal not via formal university channels but via a mutual friend, which is an interesting point in our present era of remote work.) Electronics had not previously been used for digital computing, and a lot of authorities thought an electromechanical machine would be a better and safer bet.

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I discovered and read through the spy novels by Daniel Silva that included the Gabriel Allon Series. What I enjoyed the most was his continuation of the same group of characters in each novel. You got to know their personalities, quirks, weaknesses and strengths, so it was appealing because you became invested on a more […]

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7 Inspiring Baseball Players Who Overcame Adversity


Mordecai Brown, Chicago Cubs

It’s tough to make it to the major leagues and it’s even tougher to stay there. It takes a not-insignificant amount of natural physical ability, a lot of hard work, and plenty of self-confidence to get there and stay there. It’s a battle that plays out every day through competition from the amateur level through the minor leagues and at the major league level. It’s even tougher for some who have an additional opponent they have to conquer along the way. That’s the purpose of this post – to briefly tell the stories of a few of those who had an additional obstacle on their way to the majors. I think I’ll proceed in chronological order.

Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown

A Multi-Level Treasure Hunt


In 1764 Tsarina Catherine the Great of Russia started a major war in Europe. It was a culture war. She collected fine art as aggressively as she fought on the battlefield. It spurred Europe’s crowned heads, especially Louis XVI of France and Frederick the Great of Prussia, to compete at obtaining and displaying art, especially fine paintings.

“The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure: Catherine the Great, a Golden Age Masterpiece, and a Legendary Shipwreck,” by Gerald Easter and Mara Vorhees, records a casualty of that culture war Dutch Master paintings purchased at auction for Catherine the Great were sent from Holland to St Petersburg aboard the Dutch merchantman Vrouw Maria. Caught in a storm, the ship sank off the Finnish coast.

The book uses the shipwreck, to frame the story. Among the paintings lost was Gerrit Dou’s triptych The Nursery. Largely forgotten today, Dou was then the most admired Golden Age Dutch Master. (One of Dou’s paintings hung in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa.) The Nursery was considered Dou’s finest work.

Black History the Way It Should Be Done


I just wanted to take the opportunity to share a podcast I started recording last year. Instead of woke historical revisionism, there are fascinating stories in black history that are worth telling. If there are any creative film production companies, they might even see some potential for great films that are different from the endless sequels and prequels.

If You Can Stand the Heat, Get in the Kitchen: Theory and Practice of Szechuan Cuisine


Generally, I only inflict my culinary exploits on the PiT. (Before you start to feel too bad for them, you can rest assured that they are not passive victims in this endeavour). As with so much else in my life, my gastronomic tastes tend to veer a little bit outside of the mainstream, especially for a college student that lives alone. Mostly traditional Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese food, as well as some Middle Eastern, and not quite any burgers, spaghetti, and donuts. My parents don’t exactly love it when I come home, and the next day they have a fridge fully stocked with tofu, preserved bamboo shoots, century eggs, kimchi, and the like. (Mom draws the line at congealed blood and chicken feet). With England in lockdown yet again, I’ve had more time than normal to cook for myself, and, like an old and familiar friend, I often gravitate towards Szechuanese and Xi’an food. 

Chinese food encompasses a vast array of regional dishes, ingredients, and methods, but there are, in modern times, the 八大菜系: Eight Great Cuisines of China. Szechuan cuisine is one and is renowned in the country and around the world for its characteristic pungency and spiciness. Commonly available ingredients, like garlic, ginger, sesame paste, and green onion, play a role in this, but so do two ingredients grown almost exclusively in the region. The Szechuan peppercorn, which creates a unique kind of numbing and tongue-tingling spice when consumed, and the heaven facing pepper, oftentimes too hot to be consumed raw but a staple in dried and cooked form. If you’ve ever had Szechuan food, you’ll be familiar with that pepper, and also with the chili oil that is almost ubiquitous in it. 

Life Lessons from Tom Brady? Well…. Maybe


Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just beat the mighty Green Bay Packers and are on their way to Super Bowl 55; coincidentally being played this year in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have won one Super Bowl. Tom Brady has taken his teams to the Super Bowl nine times and won six. We were New England Patriots fans for over twenty years while living in Boston. We’ve been in Florida since 2003 and never thought Tom Brady (or Gronkowski) would relocate their careers and homes to Florida. I asked my husband this evening: Is it because Tom Brady is such a good football player? He said he’s more than that, he’s an exceptional athlete, one of those rare people that is not only a team player but excels in leadership.

I thought about that comment because I had just gotten off the phone with my older cousin in Las Vegas, who asked me if I had watched the Biden Inauguration and the program after. I said no, and let her talk. She gushed about how she taped it and wept through the whole thing, “the young poet and her words and hand gestures reduced me to tears”, she said, “how Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem while gazing with so much love at our flag, then there was Jennifer Lopez and Tom Hanks.” She said they were cathartic tears after four years of hell. I knew my cousin and her husband were very liberal, and I thought she knew I was conservative, but I let her have her moment and stayed silent.

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Hello Ricochet, Barring any bombshells getting dropped in the next couple of days, we are about to close the history books on presidential administration number 45 (44 if you count Cleveland’s non-consecutive administrations as one. Thanks for making this complicated, Grover…). I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that the Trump administration will have a […]

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While I believe most people are shocked and upset by yesterday’s events at our Capitol, we have to keep our wits and move forward. We cannot control the behavior of others and events that come and go, beyond our control.  This includes yesterday’s breach of the Capitol in Washington, DC.  I’ll give my thoughts briefly, […]

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