Friday, July 24, 2015


We have been living for a while in 1937. Now, thanks to this Administration, we have moved into 1938.

There's not much time left to avoid 1939.

With what's now happened, I was tempted to start referring to President Obama as "Barack Hussein Chamberlain" — but that would be hugely unfair to Neville Chamberlain. And then there's John Kerry who is spending his time making Obama look good.

Why do I say that? It's what happened in the negotiations. Kerry and Obama spent years telling us the entire point of negotiating with Iran was to convince them to dismantle their nuclear program. Now they admit that subject was never even brought up once in the entire history of the negotiations. And after spending so much time assuring us the US would have rights to no-notice inspections anywhere in the country, to verify treaty compliance, they now admit that was never brought up even once, either. Further, what inspections can happen will be with no US inspectors allowed. And then there's the secret side agreements, hidden and not submitted to the Congress (or the UN?) with the rest of the agreement they are a part of . . . .

Will the agreement work? Will we be better off with this treaty than with none? It's possible. But that will require a degree of honor that has not been shown in the past.

And it's sad that, in this matter, the truthful statements have come from a country that has declared itself our sworn enemy while the false statements have come from our own government. And the only people being duped by the latter statements are us.

One more thing: If this is the great deal they are claiming it is, I'm sure the Administration will offer the identical deal to other countries — like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Iraq, etc. (And isn't it interesting that with this deal the Administration has managed to have Saudi Arabia, other Arab countries, and Israel in full agreement with each other, and disagreement with the Administration.)

On Racism

. . . and on what progressives pretend is racism.

There are a lot more things that could be added on the left; there are none that could be added on the right. What does that tell you? It tells me that single claim on the right is absolute and unmitigated bulls**t.

Someone who ...

If someone supports "Black Lives Matter" but not any other color,

and if that person objects to "All Lives Matter" and boos off the stage those who say it,

then that person is a bigot.

And almost certainly also an idiot.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

70 Years After Trinity

The following story is from 1945, and is true:

Marty had been excited when she boarded the bus that would take her from Jacksonville, Illinois, to Tucson, Arizona. The war in Europe was over, which meant Bud would be returning home. Marty didn't know just when Bud would get home. But she wanted to get back to Tucson, eager to be home again and eager to lay the groundwork so she and Bud could get married as soon as possible after he returned.

Now it was late at night (actually, early in the morning) as the bus rolled across New Mexico. Everyone else was asleep — only Marty and the bus driver were awake, and they were in the middle of a long discussion. Suddenly, the sky lit up with a brilliant light that seemed brighter than mid-day. Everything in sight stood out, but it wasn't obvious where the light was coming from.

The discussion stopped. When it started again, the topic for all the rest of the trip to Tucson was “What was that????” Marty and the bus driver were unable to find any reasonable explanation.

Marty figured it out three weeks later when the newspaper headlines told of the use of a new type of weapon — an atomic bomb — over Hiroshima, Japan. The news stories said there had been a test in the New Mexico desert. A check of the calendar showed that what she and the bus driver had seen that night was the flash from the Trinity Test.

Meanwhile, Bud was still stuck in Europe wondering, along with many others, why they weren’t being sent home and released now that the war was over. He may not have known the Army was working on the logistics of shipping them all from the European to the Pacific Theater. Bud returned home five months later, and my parents were married on Christmas Eve, December 24th, 1945.

The atomic test 15 seconds after detonation July 16, 1945. The Trinity test was the first ever test of a nuclear device

When the Trinity Test occurred, the war in Europe had been over for nine weeks — since the German surrender on May 8th. But the war in Asia and the Pacific continued and appeared likely to keep on for at least another year. Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin were meeting at Potsdam, mostly to make plans for post-war Europe. But Truman and Churchill were also outlining surrender terms for Japan.

While there, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson delivered a message to President Truman that said "Operated this morning. Diagnosis not complete but results seem satisfactory and already exceed expectations ... Dr. Groves pleased." This was the message that told Truman that the Trinity Test had taken place in New Mexico earlier in the day, and had been a success. As a result, Truman mentioned having an unspecified "powerful new weapon" to Stalin; presumably Churchill got more details. At the end of the conference, an ultimatum (that did not mention the new weapon) was given to Japan to surrender or meet "prompt and utter destruction".

When the Potsdam Conference began, the Allies were looking at plans for another year or more of war in the Pacific, including invasions of the Japanese home islands that would have made D-Day look small. Because of the Trinity Test (and the resulting operations), Japan surrendered — without an invasion — a little over a month after Trinity.

Trinity was a test of the plutonium implosion bomb developed at Los Alamos. The test was performed to determine whether the "gadget" would really work. The uranium gun-type bomb was never tested before being used on Hiroshima, because the scientists were that confident it would work. Fortunately, Trinity showed the implosion bomb worked. The Manhattan Project and its Trinity Test changed the course of the Pacific War.

Sixty years later, in July of 2005, my wife and I joined in the event at the National Atomic Museum (now the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History) commemorating the Trinity Test and the beginning of the Atomic Age. It started the night before. We ate dinner with an older couple; she lived through the bombing in Germany as a young girl, and he had seen the Trinity flash on his way to go fishing outside Roswell. There were 1940’s cars in the parking lot, and wartime fashions were shown. The meat of the evening was a panel discussion (more a series of presentations) by two historians and two men who had been part of the Manhattan Engineering District — the Army’s part of the atomic bomb development program more broadly known as the Manhattan Project.

The next morning, on the sixtieth anniversary of the test, we were on one of the event’s three buses. The White Sands Missile Range had the site open for the anniversary. (Normally, it’s only open to the public on two Saturdays a year — one in October and one in April.) We were at Stallion Gate when it opened, and drove in to the McDonald Ranch house where the plutonium pit was assembled. We then spent some time at Ground Zero, before having green chile cheeseburgers at the Owl Cafe in San Antonio (where Manhattan Project people often ate on their way back and forth between the site and Los Alamos) before returning to Albuquerque.

One of the benefits of going as part of the group from the National Atomic Museum was that we weren’t just on our own looking around. Panel members from the night before spoke at the locations, giving us more of a picture of the conditions of sixty years ago. We also heard at least parts of interviews by various press organizations.

At the ranch house, an historian from the museum gave a picture of the camp that existed nearby at that time. He noted that the well and windmill could produce only about a gallon per hour of not very good water — which was why water for the several hundred people at the camp was trucked in. The one luxury was the stock tank, which was used as a swimming pool. Herb Lehr, who in 1945 was a sergeant in the Special Engineering Detachment, recounted bringing the plutonium pit (then the world’s supply of plutonium) down from Los Alamos, and told something of the checkout and assembly process. He noted that the markings on the door (clean your feet, don’t track in dust, etc.) were not authentic because they were done in chalk in 1945, while the ones you see now are painted on. At the request of some of the press representatives, he reenacted for the photographers how he took the assembled pit from the ranch house to the car (a 1942 Plymouth obtained new in 1945) to deliver it to the tower at Trinity Site Ground Zero.

Lehr also told of the hiccup in everyone's heartbeats as they attempted to load the pit into the rest of the device on the tower. Attempted — it didn’t fit, though the same pieces had fit at Los Alamos. The team lead said to just stop and they left it where it was, in contact with the outer uranium sphere, while they thought it through. A few minutes later, it slid in a fraction of an inch, and they realized they had a thermal problem. The plutonium core and the part of the unit near it were hot to the touch; the sphere had overnight cold. As the core heated the section of the sphere near it, its thermal expansion allowed the unit to slide in. Over a half hour or so the unit was assembled.

The historian speaking at Ground Zero (Ferenc Szasz, author of The Day the Sun Rose Twice) focussed on the difficulties in actually performing the test. This included worrying whether the night’s thunderstorms would clear before morning, and needing the wind to come from the proper direction. General Groves directly threatened the meteorologist that night, but fortunately the weather worked out well. That still left the question of whether the device would work properly, and with what kind of explosive yield. Of course, it did work — as everyone who saw the flash can attest.

That made me think of the tale told me years ago by people who had been in the Manhattan Project. Enrico Fermi was among those outside the blockhouse when the Trinity Test took place. After the initial radiation flash, he stood up and started dropping small pieces of paper. When the shock from the detonation arrived, the piece of paper that was in mid-air was moved and fell away from the rest. Fermi measured how far it was moved by the shock and, in just a few minutes, computed an estimate of the test’s explosive yield that was almost as good as the value that came days later from analyses of the experiment’s instrumentation.

Back at Ground Zero, Szasz noted that the inner fence surrounds the area where the test’s fireball touched the ground, where the trinitite was created. (Trinitite is glass created from the sand there by the heat of the Trinity Test fireball, all of which was later buried.) He also said that area was used to determine the detonation altitude that should be used in the attacks on Japan, both to maximize blast and shock effects on the cities from the atomic explosions and to avoid having the detonation fireballs reach the surface. Keeping the fireballs from touching the ground was necessary to minimize nuclear fallout from the explosions so the cities (and the areas downwind) would not be overly dangerous (longer term) either to their surviving residents or to invading U.S. soldiers — and so they would be better able to recover when the war was over.

On the bus ride home, I thought about the wartime focus that allowed a new weapon — a new class of weapon — to be used in the war just three weeks after the Trinity test showed it would work. That’s a very different timeline from what we see today. But it did bring the war to an end.

Now it is another ten years later. The Trinity Test took place seventy years ago today. It was the beginning of the end of World War II in the Pacific — and, in a significant sense, the beginning of the Atomic Age.

There has been no wartime use of nuclear weapons since the end of that war. How long will that continue to be true?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Where Will It End?

The French fleur de lis (see left) is now being called a racist symbol, a symbol of slavery.

This raises in my mind just one question: Is there anything left that people are not claiming to be racist? Where will this end?

There is still racism in America

. . . and it's almost entirely in the black community and its Leftist overseers.

Just a few examples, collected in just a few minutes:

This pervasive discrimination against whites has become not only institutionalized but ossified. Affirmative action, racial set-asides, university quotas, the relentless push for “diversity” and the constant drive to purge our European Judeo-Christian roots from the public square amount to a liberal campaign of anti-white racism.

In this context, it would also be worthwhile to look at this and this.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sir Nicholas Winton — The British Schindler

Who is more vulnerable than a child? And how bad must a situation be for parents give them up, to hand their children to a perfect stranger and send them away to an unknown future in an unknown place?

In 1938, Nicholas Winton went to Prague instead of on the ski vacation he had planned. He saw the conditions affecting the refugees from Adolf Hitler's conquest of the Sudetanland, and he recognized the threat they faced. He couldn't save the adults, but he found he could bend the rules enough to get children out.

He started making arrangements for what became known as the Kindertransport. Word of this spread and refugee parents besieged him, asking him to save their children. Most of these parents died during the war, many of them in the concentration camp at Auschwitz. But for Nicholas Winton, their children would have died with them.

Winton arranged eight transports — eight trains — taking children from Prague to ports through which they were sent to England. A ninth transport was ready to leave Prague on September 1, 1939, when World War II broke out and trains could no longer leave Nazi-occupied regions. A total of 669 Czech children were rescued by means of the eight successful trains. Their operation was so rushed that many lacked travel and immigration documents issued by the British government. Nevertheless, Winton and his small group saw to it that they reached England and were placed in homes there.

Winton's actions weren't secret, but he "just didn't talk about them." And so his story was virtually unknown for fifty years, until his wife discovered a scrapbook in the attic, identifying and showing the children he saved. That resulted in him being featured on the BBC TV program That's Life in 1988, and his being knighted in 2003 by Queen Elizabeth. Today there are more than 6000 people who owe their lives to his actions in 1939.

Sir Nicholas Winton in 2009 surrounded by a few of the 669 children he saved.

Sir Nicholas Winton died peacefully on July 1, 2015, at the age of 106, and the world is poorer for his loss.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Too Good to Ignore (2)

This week, again, I ran across a few things that are just "too good to ignore." Three of them are here.

The national rage against the Confederate Battle Flag reached a fever pitch, well beyond anything rational.

See this, too.

The US Supreme Court issued several major decisions for the end of June. Here's how one of those decisions came about.

These and a lot of other things that happened seemed to reflect operations of the "herd mentality" — decision makers following the Masses. That has its dangers.

Can the world get any more nuts?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Overreach & Dishonesty

There was a mass shooting at a church in South Carolina. It was racially motivated, quite obviously. Very quickly, however, the response was not on guns or racism (at least, not directly) or white supremacists; it focused on the Confederate flag, which really had nothing to do with the murders.

It got worse from there. It leaped to the flag being flown at the Confederate monument on the state's capitol grouonds, and the car used in the "Dukes of Hazard" TV show that ended 30 years ago, and nearly anything related to the US Civil War. There were even calls to remove all confederate reminders from the Gettysburg Battlefield. (Which would leave many visitors with the question, "Who did the Union army fight there?") It begins to look like a substantial overreach.

Of course, there's a bit more hiding behind the surface. Well behind.

It appears a good chunk of the the claims in our children's textbooks are — as a matter of history — false. They claim the Southern states' reason for secession was primarily to protect States' rights. But no state cited states' rights at the time as its reason for secession. In fact, they all objected to states' rights — at least, they particularly objected to other states exercising their rights to move against slavery within their borders. And apparently every state that seceded cited protection of their rights to slavery as their reason — their right to let some of their people own other people as if they were furniture (or livestock). With that, the Confederate flag is more clearly an element of racism rather than of cultural pride.

Personally, I'd always thought the "states' right" supported or promoted by the Confederacy was the right to slavery — the right to let some of their citizens own others. Nothing else ever made any sense to me.
This supports the demands that the Confederate battle flag should be removed from official places. Indeed, it supports calls for the Confederate battle flag to be removed everywhere it appears. (It would appear slavery has been the primary contribution of Arabs and other Muslims to U.S. history and culture.)

Even at the beginning of the Civil War, things were more complex than has been acknowledged. Much of the population of "the South" apparently didn't want to support slavery, at least not to that degree. Especially in the border states, more volunteered to fight for the Union than for the Confederacy, but we don't find that in the school textbooks. So there was more hope for the future then than we have been told — and more now than the textbooks are willing to tell us.

I started out opposing this move as "not really related to the incident." But in its real historical context, that's not really true.

And then there's this:

Just keeping it all in perspective.

UPDATE: The Confederate battle flag is coming down. Governor Nikki Haley signed the bill today.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Too Good To Ignore

I ran across a few things this past week that are, as the post's title says, just "too good to ignore." Three of them are here. Another will be in another post Real Soon Now.

The US Supreme Court issued several major decisions for the end of June. Two of them are highlighted here.
I've no doubt no one will be satisfied with these decisions for very long. For multiple different reasons.

A case in point: Former actor George Takei (Star Trek's Sulu, now a progressive gay activist) took offense to things said by Justice Clarence Thomas in his dissenting opinion in the gay marriage case. His remarks on the Associate Justice went over the top, and his attempt at an explanation didn't help. That caused some folks to make an interesting comparison.
(You did know the Democrats were/are the party of slavery and Jim Crow and lynching and the KKK, right? And that the Republicans were/are the party of emancipation and the anti-lynching laws and the civil rights laws, right? Why else would it be that Jackie Robinson and Rev. Martin Luther King were Republicans?)

Society changed and made progress, but our politicians didn't. Perhaps this explains that.

There's a lot of truth here. And it's expressed in ways too good to ignore.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July!
Happy Independence Day!