Thursday, July 31, 2014

In December 1862, at the Civil War battle of Fredericksburg, a young Union officer wrote: "I do like to see a brave man, but when a man goes out for the express purpose of getting shot at he seems to me in the way of a maniac." The officer was writing about Brigadier General Andrew Atkinson Humphreys. The battle was Humphreys' first real military engagement.

Fredericksburg was a blood bath. It has gone down in history books as one of the Union's most ill-conceived and poorly conducted battles. Confederate troops under General Robert E. Lee were positioned on high ground behind a stone wall. The Union troops under General Ambrose Burnside were ordered to charge at them. Column after column of men were mowed down under Confederate fire or driven back. When it came to Humphreys' turn, he ordered the youngest, most inexperienced men in his command to keep pace with the rest of his troops and then he charged up the hill in front. He loved the bloody mayhem. In a letter to his wife he described the thrill of battle: "as the storm of bullets whistled around me, and as the shells and shrapnel burst close to me in every direction with hissing sound, the excitement grew more glorious still. Oh, it was sublime!" In a letter to a friend he said, "I felt like a young girl of sixteen at her first ball … I felt more like a god than a man."

Within ten or fifteen minutes, by his own reckoning, Humphreys had lost 1,000 men, a fifth of his command. But that didn't seem to disturb him. Nor did the deaths of thousands more of his troops in subsequent battles. In his letters home, Humphreys never mentioned those losses. What concerned him was establishing his reputation as a military leader. "It is acknowledged throughout this army," he explained to his wife, "that no officer ever did as much with troops of short term of service as I did. …"

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cambria County People.

Coal miner's little girl. And maybe his wife there. Maybe that's him in the background, I don't know. A little girl shouldn't have to be out picking up coal.

Cambria County People.

Coal miner children.

Cambria County People.

Coal miner.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

China incident.

From China Digital Times:

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

Without exception, all media must refrain from reporting on the violent terror incident in Shache County, Xinjiang. (July 29, 2014)


On July 29 at 22:00, Xinhua reported that a “serious violent terrorist attack” occurred in Shache County, western Xinjiang[Chinese] early on the morning of July 28. Xinhua said a group of knife-wielding “thugs” attacked a government building and police station in Ailixihu town, before part of the group fled, leaving dozens of Han and Uyghur civilian casualties and 31 destroyed police vehicles on their way. The report called the attack “premeditated and carefully planned,” and noted that police fire killed dozens of the attackers.

This attack is the latest in a series of recent violent attacks in Xinjiang blamed by the government on Uyghur separatists, and Beijing has been tightly managing information about violence amid a yearlong terror crackdown in the region and in greater China. Xinhua’s report came over 24 hours after rumors of an attack and crackdown in Shache began circulating (and being deleted) on Weibo. A report from Radio Free Asia quotes local Shache residents saying that the Internet has been completely blacked out in the area since Monday morning, when unconfirmed news of the attack began circulating online.

Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.

The people at CDT do the best in-depth reporting on China. And this is all they have! There has been no new information added to the first reports and they, and this CDT report, are all based on Xinhua. Shache County is just on total lockdown. The internet has been cut; if the phone lines are working nobody's answering because they're just ringing. I don't know what The New York Times is going to do if they can't make phone calls. Heh-heh-heh-heh.

China incident.

From the Voice of America:
China's Internet minders are scrubbing social networks for references about a heavily populated county in the south of the country's volatile and remote region of Xinjiang, following reports of a major outbreak of unrest.
Some of the scrubbed postings from China's social media that can be seen on the website say Shache County in Xinjiang's southern Kashgar Prefecture has been hit by up to at least "four violent terrorist attacks."
While the reports of unrest have yet to be confirmed, sources tell VOA that the county has been locked down and that no one is being allowed to enter.
This is extremely unusual handling even by the PRC's standards of censorship and control.


"Mass Assault Belatedly Reported in China's Far West."

-headline, New York Times.

BEIJING — China’s state news media on Tuesday belatedly reported what was described as a terror attack in the troubled far west region of Xinjiang, where dozens of people were said to have been killed or wounded by assailants with knives and axes.

The assault happened on Monday, the official news agency Xinhua and other state outlets reported. It was not clear why the authorities took more than a day to release the news, although much of the violence in the region goes unreported by China’s tightly controlled media.

EU Agrees New Russia Sanctions.

"Diplomats said ambassadors from the 28-member European bloc agreed to restrictions on trade of equipment for the oil and defence sectors, and "dual use" technology with both defence and civilian purposes. Russia's state run banks would be barred from raising funds in European capital markets. The measures would be reviewed in three months."

So they DID talk about a time frame. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

U.S., 4 European Countries: New Russia Sanctions.

Conference call: Obama, Cameron, Hollande, Merkel,...Mussolini...Silvio Berlusconi...Sylvia Poggioli...frigging Francesco Schettino--whoever the hell the capo dei capi of Italy is--agreed to further agree tomorrow when the EU meets, to impose new sanctions.

Wonder what the end game of this is going to be. It's a moot point as long as Putin keeps attacking Ukraine but at some point he will stop. Then what? Will the sanctions end? Will the sanctions end when Putin says, "Ok, I'm done"? The sanctions are not going to reverse what Putin has already done, he's not going to return Crimea. Obama has told him repeatedly that the U. S. will never recognize the annexation of Crimea but that doesn't mean the sanctions over Crimea will be in place forever. Putin can't bring back the 300 people killed on MH17, which prompted this new round of sanctions. How long are these sanctions to last? Do you think they talked about that on the conference call today? I don't. That is so amorphous, there would be so many considerations, I don't think they'd even talk about that. But at some point, presumably, they will.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Moving on.

If you just wandered in here from, say, China, you'd think, "I thought this was a blog about public occurrences, wtf?" Yeah, you're right. I decided a little while ago I wanted to write about Western Pennsylvania but had intended there to be more "writing." Fewer pitchers. I intended to write something "literary," something about water and mountains and life and death and fear and courage and all them literary things. Set in a place I know.  I have only written a little of that stuff. I have been "setting the scene." I've been "getting ideas." I don't know where I'm going with it. Yet. I hope there's a "yet" there. So I'm just trying to keep moving.

That map up there. Easy right? You don't have to be Mark Twain to understand that, right? Eight little towns all lined up along a river. Transportation, right? There was lumber and coal in them thar hills and once you got it out of them thar hills you put it on barges or whatever, boats, and floated it down river. To Pittsburgh or Johnstown or whatever. Frigging float it all the way to China. That's what's going on there, right?  No.

That thinnest of thin squiggly blue lines, the one almost completely obscured by the bigger cross-hatched green line, is about as deep as a piece of paper. The real thing is about six inches deep. The functional transportation artery on that map is the railroad in green. The West Branch of the Susquehanna River is worthless for transportation. You see where Cherry Tree is? Now, I have not verified this as I write but I am pretty sure Cherry Tree was known in Indian times as Canoe Place. You wanna know why it was called Canoe Place?  Because that was the first place where the frigging river was deep enough to float a goddamned Indian canoe! You could maybe put a lump of coal in a bathtub toy boat and float that down--or up--the West Branch of the Susquehanna. Logging? Oh yeah, right. Unless you're logging twigs, you are not floating anything bigger on that river. So, why does the railroad parallel it? Overlay it. I don't frigging know. The land was flatter, maybe? I don't frigging know. But I know you cannot float coal or logs down that frigging thing. My brother and I once had an argument: "That's the West Branch of the Susquehanna runs through Barnesboro," says I. "That's not the frigging West Branch of the Susquehanna," says he, with warmth. "What is it then!" "It's a shit creek!" "It's not...I mean, it's not just a frigging shit creek, it's too big!"  "It's a big shit creek!" That's what we used to call it growing up, the shit creek. Maybe that should be capitalized.

It is the West Branch of the Susquehanna and it also is a big Shit Creek. It was an open sewer for those eight little towns and for the coal mines around them. It was orange with acid mine drainage. One time when I was a kid, I was on my paper route and I stopped on a bridge to be lazy for a minute. And I looked down at the water of one of the little tributaries, the one that comes from Number 9, that flow into the big shit creek. Behold! I saw a log float down toward me. Followed by some toilet paper. Just movin' on down the river. That really made me sick. It's one thing to know it's a shit creek, it's another to see it. That was the end of that rest stop. I moved on.

Anyway, "Immergrun" is neither company nor patch house and it's not in Ebensburg, neither. "Immergrun" is now part of St. Francis University (been there) in Loretto, Cambria County. CardCow makes me sick, too.

"Company houses."

Bakerton (Know Bakerton). This is from, which calls these "patch houses." Don't know patch houses; know company houses. Bakerton's company houses are on the horizontal street at bottom center and on the vertical T-street at right. In between, that long gray-roofed building, is the company store, according to coalcampusa. The "company" store, not the "patch" store, coalcampusa. You make me sick.

"Company houses."

Bens Creek. Not my creek. Never heard of Bens Creek. Bens Creek.

"Company houses."

Colver. Know Colver. Been to Colver. Don't know what came first, Colver or Revloc.

"Company houses."

Undated, location unknown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. From the Johnstown Area Historical Association,

"Company houses."

Blandburg. My God, Blandburg. Never heard of Blandburg. This is Blandburg, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Undated photograph, Library of Congress.

"Company houses."

The coal mine companies dominated every aspect of the miners lives. The towns were created by the companies, sometimes, as with Barnesboro, were named for the principal coal mine owner; the companies built identical homes for the miners, who also had to shop in "company stores." This is  Nanty Glo, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 1937.

Mt. Aloysius College Chapel, Cresson, Cambria County, Pennsylvania.

Atheist Station, Gallitzin, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Circa 2000's.

St. Mary's Catholic Church, Gallitzin, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Circa 1900's.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Episcopal Church, Barnesboro, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, circa 1912.

Moving On.

"From Johnstown, the fugitive slaves moved northeasterly through the heavily wooded valleys and gullies of the Appalachian Mountains. The more well known of the two routes … proceeds from Johnstown all the way to Ebensburg, following the trace that eventually became I-219."
                  -Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania, William J. Switala.

In the 1860 presidential election Cambria County voted for Lincoln and Union. After the election Lincoln instituted the draft. Cambria County just said no to the draft. Lincoln turned the war into a referendum on Emancipation. The better angels who ran the modest Underground Railroad in Cambria County were overwhelmed by the opposite sentiment, Copperheadism. For Union, yes, they would fight. To free the slaves, they felt strongly emancipation was not a worthy objective. They made their revised sentiments clear when a draft guy came to Cambria County to enforce conscription and was told his life expectancy was foreshortened the longer he stayed. He got out and reinforcements came in and quelled the Copperheadism. They didn't quell the free and secret ballot. In 1864 Cambria County voted for the peace Democrat, George B. McClellan, for disunion, or Union with slavery and voted against Abraham Lincoln's reelection. Pennsylvania voted to reelect.

Mothers at work. Mother Jones in Barnesboro, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 1899. 

Boys at play, Nanty Glo, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 1943. Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Friday, July 25, 2014

"Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality."-Danielle Allen.

"This is a strange and remarkable book...[N]o one has ever written a book on the Declaration quite like this one. If we read the Declaration of Independence slowly and carefully, Danielle Allen believes, then the document can become a basic primer for our democracy. It can be something that all of us--not just scholars and educated elites but common people--can participate in, and should participate in if we want to be good democratic citizens."
-Gordon S. Wood, New York Review of Books, August 14, 2014.

Heh-heh-heh. Oh dear. With good nature we offer the above as counter--hallucinating, headquarters-in-hindquarters, put-down-your-crack-pipe, stay-away-from-strong-magnets-with-that-plate-in-your-head, counter--to the slow, careful reading of the Dec. of Ind. that we have done made here our ownselves. And have wrote about. 
In the car a few minutes ago when the news came on, from the BBC at this hour. Iraq, Israel, Ukraine. Formal, unemotional reading, soft female voice. The last story:

Wikipedia administrators have imposed a ban on page edits from computers at the US House of Representatives, following "persistent disruptive editing". The 10-day block comes after anonymous changes were made to entries on politicians and businesses.The biography of former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld was edited to say that he was an "alien lizard". BBC News.

Seeking the Soul of Russia.

After denying responsibility for MH17 and pledging cooperation in any investigation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone all in with the Russian separatists in Ukraine. More Ukrainian aircraft have been shot down, Russia has begun shelling Ukraine from Russia, and the movement of heavy artillery from Russia into Ukraine is reported as "imminent." All of this has been in the face of increased sanctions from the U.S. and the E.U. The struggle within the Kremlin for the soul of Russia has turned hard anti-West once again.

It's Friday. Coal miners children, Nanty Glo, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 1943. Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Does Radar Work?

"Air Algerie plane disappears from radar in West Africa, 116 on board."-Washington Post.

This is unbelievable.

AH5017 "apparently" has been found though, "apparently" crashed in Mali, all on board killed.

-Okay, strike "apparently crashed" and "all on board killed," it's "missing" per French President Francois Hollande. "We still don't know what happened," Hollande added helpfully. Image: The Genius of France Between Liberty and Death, Jean-Baptiste Regnault (1795). (7:53 pm).

-Now, we do have this intelligence from The New York Times:

"Moumouni Barro, Burkina Faso’s director of airports, said in a telephone interview from Ouagadougou that a resident of Gossi, a village in Mali between Mopti and Gao, near the border with Burkina Faso, “saw the plane fall from the sky” around 1:50 a.m., during a storm. Mr. Barro said the resident’s account was credible and that searchers were at work in the area."

The "director of airports." Of "Burkina Faso." Vouches for the credibility of  "a resident" of  "Gossi" in Mali. Sure, I'd print that. That's news that's fit to print. Take that sucker to the bank.

But wait!:

"However, other people in Gossi, including the town’s mayor, who were reached by telephone Thursday afternoon could not confirm the report that the plane had been seen there."

We trust the Times will keep us posted as it works its way through the Gossi, Mali phone book. (8:02 pm)

-I'm sure this is on CNN right now--and will be for the next 103 straight days. There is Mali, "Mali," and there is "Burkina Faso." And you can see Mopti and Gao. Don't see "Gossi" but Gossi is between Mopti and Gao, according to The New York Times. And Gossi is where Our Man in Mali, confidential informant numero uno reported seeing AH5017 "fall from the sky." According to the director of airports in Burkina Faso. As told to The New York Times. But, Gossi is also where a Statesman and "other people" challenge the eyesight of Our Man in Mali. Now this commercial break. Back in a flash. (8:31 pm).

-"The Burkina government said in a statement late Thursday that searchers had found the wreckage of 
Flight 5017 at around 6:40 p.m., “on Malian territory, about 30 miles from our borders.”-New York Times (July 25, 2:36 am).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Does America Still Work?

"Inmate's Execution Takes Two Hours."-USAToday.

Americans will recognize that headline. Non-Americans, this happens constantly in America. It is mind-boggling. We can't even kill people anymore.


This is from Forbes by Gordon G. Chang:

What’s wrong in China?  Xi Jinping, Communist Party general secretary since November 2012, has launched a nationwide anti-corruption campaign that has terrorized most everyone holding a position of responsibility in government.  The newish leader famously promised to take down both “tigers”—those of high rank—and “flies,” and he has made a bold start.

So far, he has stripped Bo Xilai, once China’s most charismatic politician, of all assets and sent him to prison for life for corruption and abuse of power. 
Xi is now going after the underlings in the patronage network of his predecessor, Hu Jintao, and there is evidence to suggest he is also gunning for Hu’s predecessor, Jiang Zemin.  The moves, therefore, look like attempts to bring down both Jiang, the leader of the Shanghai Gang faction, and Hu, head of the Communist Youth League faction.  Xi, it seems, is in the midst of destroying all other power centers in the country’s ruling organization, firmly rejecting the live-and-let-live mentality that has kept peace in Beijing since the sentencing of the Gang of Four in early 1981.

As a part of this ambitious effort, Xi is also targeting senior military officers, most notably Xu Caihou, a Jiang ally.  The gravely ill Xu—stricken by cancer—was stripped of Party membership at the end of last month and, despite his retirement, will be court martialed for taking bribes and selling promotions to junior officers.  The former general is the most senior officer ensnared in an investigation of this sort since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.  The PLA Daily, the military’s most authoritative publication, has carried numerous reports this year of generals and admirals condemning Xu and taking what are tantamount to public loyalty oaths to Xi.
Xi, to be sure, is incarcerating corrupt figures, but he is not doing so for their corruption.  He is purging political opponents using corruption as an excuse.  Tellingly, none of the individuals Xi has put away is either one of his family members or a supporter.  And if China’s leader was really determined to rid his country of corruption, he would not be relentlessly jailing anti-corruption activists.
Xi’s campaign is now so ferocious that some Chinese think they could be on the eve of another Cultural Revolution.
“How many times have you heard the Chinese described as pragmatists?” Arthur Waldron, the University of Pennsylvania’s famed historian, asked me the beginning of this month.  “They’re not.”


Never want to have a picture of you and the guy at left surface. Xu Caihou, former Politburo member and Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission was charged recently with graft-related offenses. He's been kicked out of the CPC.

"Ukraine Says 2 Fighter Jets Are Shot Down As Clashes Intensify."-New York Times.

"UKRAINE SAYS:" Is that where we are to place the emphasis as we read that? I don't know.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Seeking the Soul of Russia.

Boy oh boy, U.S. Senator John McCain says Russian President Vladimir Putin is "getting away with murder" in MH17. The latest U.S. intel reports are that there is no "direct link" to Moscow but that Moscow "created the conditions," pretty similar to what President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and The New York Times have been saying. The problem there is Obama and Kerry and U.S. spooks were equally certain only military action was necessary to get Syria to give up chemical wmd. The same U.S. intel people say their best judgment now is that the shoot-down was a "mistake." Okay, let's dispose of that one right now: if by "mistake," they mean the Russian separatists shot down MH17 thinking it was a Ukrainian military plane, that's no mistake, they had no right shooting down a Ukrainian plane; in criminal law that's called transferred intent. Then a Putin advisor accused Kiev of being "the West's henchmen" while a former advisor said he couldn't believe the level of anti-Western sentiment coming out of the Kremlin these days. There seems to be a bit of a struggle going on for the soul of Russia.

It should be enough that the SAM was fired by Russian separatists from a separatist-controlled area in Ukraine, enough of a "link" to Putin, that is. I thought that was established. These latest reports are at least confusing the issue though for if the above is enough, why not leave it there? Unless the above is not considered enough or unless these latest reports are intended to imply indirectly that that "enough" itself is under reconsideration. Drat this!

"Nigerian president meets parents of abducted girls."-TVNZ.

What's that guy's name, "Feelgood" or "Happytime" or something?
The government of Canada was a visitor today., the whole government.
Top X most-read posts today:

1. China's Great Wall of Silence, Aug. 6, 2010.
2. China's Great Wall of Silence, Feb. 16, 2008.
3. China's Great Wall of Silence, June 28, 2010.
4. China's Great Wall of Silence, Sept. 30, 2009.
5. China's Great Wall of Silence, Aug. 19, 2010.
6. China's Great Wall of Silence, Sept. 29, 2009.
7. China's Great Wall of Silence, April 29, 2007.
8. China's Great Wall of Silence, Nov. 28, 2011.
9. China's Great Wall of Silence, June 16, 2010.
10. Kiribati.

I see a pattern there. LeBron James is in China. I see!

"I'm Coming Home."

LeBron James just sees things other people can't see. On the basketball court, in life. He is the best basketball player in the world and also one of the most intelligent men in the sport. I did not realize until today that the two year contract he signed with Cleveland is actually a one year with the second at his option. ?  That's more like "I'm coming home to visit." In his Sports Illustrated essay James was definitive that Cleveland was not ready to win a championship immediately ("No way.").  ??  Don't see what he sees. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Russian People's Crimes.

"Americans:" No. Flight manifest by nationality below. Russian people should be the Dutch principally, and the other countries of the victims, if those countries believe Russian people should be killed:

(Boarding passport)
Dual nationality
 Hong Kong(China)[i]01
 New Zealand10
 South Africa[v]01
 United Kingdom[w][x]100
 United States[y]01