From Craig's Railroad Pages, a little Oregon branchline action circa 1985. Craig also has a great multi-page article on the history of the East Portland Traction Company.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
From Craig's Railroad Pages, a little Oregon branchline action circa 1985. Craig also has a great multi-page article on the history of the East Portland Traction Company.
Friday, May 27, 2005
On May 10, 1940, the "phoney war" ended as Nazi troops attacked into Belgium, Luxemborg, the Netherlands, and France. With proof positive that his attempts to make peace with Hitler were doomed, and that the British Empire was woefully unprepared for war, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigns as Prime Minister, and First Lord of the Navy Winston Churchill is asked to form a new government.
Once the Germans had pulled the British Expeditionary Force and the French Fifth Corps (which together represented almost all of the Allies' most modern and most mobile units), a German army spearheaded by Erwin Rommel's 7th Panzer Division crashed through the Ardennes on May 13, enabling the encirclement of the armored forces and severing their roads to Paris. On May 17th, French Premier Paul Reynaud tells British Prime Minister Winston Churchill: "We have been defeated; we have lost the battle."
On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. When he met his Cabinet on May 13 he told them that "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." He repeated that phrase later in the day when he asked the House of Commons for a vote of confidence in his new all-party government. The response of Labour was heart-warming; the Conservative reaction was luke-warm. They still really wanted Neville Chamberlain. For the first time, the people had hope but Churchill commented to General Ismay: "Poor people, poor people. They trust me, and I can give them nothing but disaster for quite a long time."
"To form an Administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself, but it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many other points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations, such as have been indicated by my hon. Friend below the Gangway, have to be made here at home. In this crisis I hope I may be pardoned if I do not address the House at any length today. I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make allowance, all allowance, for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: 'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.'
"We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, 'come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.'"
First Speech as Prime Minister, May 13, 1940, House of Commons
Thursday, May 26, 2005
"Remember the tsunami? Big story, 300,000 dead; America and other rich countries too "stingy" in their response; government ministers from every capital on earth announcing on CNN every 10 minutes more and more millions and gazillions. It was in all the papers for a week or two, but not a lot of water under the bridge since then, and as a result this interesting statistic may not have caught your eye: Five hundred containers, representing one-quarter of all aid sent to Sri Lanka since the tsunami hit on Dec. 26, are still sitting on the dock in Colombo, unclaimed or unprocessed."
That's a full 25%, five months later, sitting on a dock. While people went without.
As Mr. Steyn says, "Whatever one feels about it, the United States manages to function. The U.N. apparatus doesn't."
Why should the UN get more power again? Why should the US give up sovereignty?
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
SO the chickens come home to roost, eh. Rather emaciated chickens too.
From the the Telegraph (thanks to Cox & Forkum for finding it):
"White farmers reject Mugabe plea to return."
"White farmers evicted by Robert Mugabe's government have reacted with contempt to an offer that they should return to Zimbabwe to take part in "joint ventures" with those who brutalised them and stole their land."
In case you missed it (and you probably did, as the American press didn't talk much about it), here's what happened. Mugabe, dictator-for-life of Zimbabwe, needed some party favors to throw around. There is a long history of white-black tension there in Zimbabwe (formerly the British colony of Rhodesia), as whites owned a majority of the land despite being very much in the minority. So Mugabe decided to take the land of white farmers and give it to the members of his political party in exchange for their continued loyalty.
The problem with that plan is that thugs make poor farmers. After several bloody attempts at resistance by white farmers and outright theft by Mugabe supporters, the country's farms rested in the hands of the thugs. And in the five years since, Zimbabwe went from the breadbasket of southern Africa to a starving nation dependant on foreign aid. Most of the farms lay fallow, their equipment stolen, their buildings looted and burned and their fields unworked. And the nation's economy was destroyed.
But here's the key:
"One tobacco and cattle farmer, who was forced off his property by armed squatters in 2000, said: 'He can't be serious. My house has been burnt down, my fields destroyed and he wants to invite me back? There has to be a proper return to respect for property rights. We need facts, not words and a legal framework. No one's going to go back on the basis of this.'"
Oh, and in case you were wondering - we said a few things, but we didn't do anything about it, as we were too busy obsessing over Abu Graib and demanding an investigation as the Army finished its four-month old investigation. Neither the UK or the UN actually did anything about it. I didn't hear any complaints from Amnesty International either.
It's not racism when whites are mobbed by blacks, you see.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
They go on to ask for prayers on his behalf. Kind of risky, in my opinion, seeing as how many of their brother Musilims they've been killing of late.
I'll be praying, but not for what they want. I want him to fully recover - in the hospital at Gitmo.
Monday, May 23, 2005
The new governor, Christine Gregoire (D), won the election on a margin of two hundred votes - total.
Since then, a number of newspaper and private citizen investigations have called into question the legitimacy of that margin. At least a thousand votes for Gregoire have been found to have been illegally cast (cast by convicted felons, the dead, or there are cast ballots whose voters cannot be found.) One heavily Democratic district in Seattle cast 150 more votes than it had registered voters.
As a result, the Republican candidate Dino Rossi has filed suit in state court, asking the state court to force the state to hold a new election. The trial began today. You can follow the trial news over at Sound Politics.
The interesting question this issue begs is, when do you quit fighting? Obviously partisan politics plays some role here; both major Seattle papers have issued editiorials telling Rossi to back off and dismissing the whole thing as partisan politics. However, Gov. Gregoire has been the beneficiary of election fraud, as the best-known vote problems occurred in Democratic areas. In state where the Governor is a Democrat and the state legistaure is heavily Democratic, where will the impetus come from to solve these very real problems?
I think Rossi is right in asking for a new election rather than trying to prove he actually won, and hopefully this will get the press to hold the legislature's feet to the fire and fix the election system. But I'm not too optimistic anything will change. I expect Rossi's challenge to lose, mainly due to a desire to avoid upending an already extant six-month old administration, and with its dismissal will end any desire to fix the fraud problems that have manifested themselves.
Friday, May 20, 2005
"We have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, and France has suffered even more than we have." - WSC, speech made during debate to ratify the Munich Agreement in House of Commons, October 5, 1938. Nancy Astor heckled him by calling out "Nonsense."
Munich would blind Europe at a crucial time; France and Britain thought they had established peace, when all the really accomplished was a postponement of the war. An interesting examination of this can be found here.
This was the result of negotiating with a tyrant, and assuming he wanted peace as badly as you did. How can we negotiate with terrorists, when they have told us that they want to destroy us to our face?
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Twenty-five years ago today.
In March 1980, Mount St. Helens began to stir. Authorities closed off a "red zone" around the mountain and restricted access as small puffs of ash emerged from newly formed craters on the mountain's summit. The volcano was stirring.
At 8:32 AM Pacific, May 18, 1980, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake dislodged the hardened magma plug that had trapped the violent pressures below. On a ridge to the northwest, a geologist named David Johnson saw the movement and called the volcano observatory in Vancouver, Washington: "Vancouver, Vancouver, this it!" As the plug fell away to the north, the suddenly released magma and gases rushed out in a superheated cloud of ash and poisonous gas, incinerating everything in their path and rearranging the landscape in an explosion that could be heard as far away as Canada. The hot cloud moved north at incredible speeds, blasting down trees 17 miles from the mountain. With the plug gone, an ash plume tens of thousands of feet high rose into the blue Washington sky, carried east by the prevailing winds.
East of the mountain, the ash clouds rained pumice and a haze of ash decended on Eastern Washington. In Yakima, ashfall was measured in inches.
On the mountain itself, the hot ash and rock melted the mountain's snows and glaciers, and the rushing waters absorbed finely pulverized rock to form giant mudflows that moved down the nearby rivers, crushing homes and bridges and scouring the floodplain. Flowing down the Toutle river, one mud flow almost destroyed the Interstate 5 bridges and filled in the Columbia River channel, raising its depth from forty to less than thirteen feet deep, stranding several ships in Portland.
David Johnson and 56 others died that day, victims of a force of nature Americans had little previous experience with. That would change.
The Cascades are lined with several similar resting volcanoes, from Mount Baker in the north to Mount Lassen and Mammoth Mountain in California. Now science is attempting to learn all it can, so at least we will have a better warning and a better understanding of the forces around us. We have already learned much in unexpected areas - such as how forests grow, and how nature responds to disaster. And we are learning to plan and prepare, as much of the human reaction in 1980 was ad hoc and improvised.
As for Mt. St. Helens herself, she has recently reawakened. A large mound has been growing next to the one she built after the 1980 eruption, which ceased growing in 1986. Volcanologists are watching, and waiting. What happens next is anyone's guess.
Mt. St. Helens Volcanic National Monument
USGS - Mount St. Helens
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
This is a good reason.
According to the USGS, Mount Rainier is the largest volcanic hazard in the continental United States, chiefly for one big reason - lots of people live below Mount Rainier, and if it erupted would have at most 45 minutes to get clear. Lahars from the 14,410 ft high mountain would travel all the way to the Puget Sound - through Tacoma.
This is not a reason not to live there - with that kind of view, who wouldn't want to live there?- but it is worth taking a few minutes to figure out what you would do if worse went to worst.
Monday, May 16, 2005
That inflamatory report Newsweek stood behind, accusing US soldiers of desecrating the Koran? The one that sparked protests throughout the world and riots in Afghanistan that killed 16? Newsweek doesn't stand by it anymore.
Nice job, guys. I know that nothing guarantees a Pulitzer, fame, and international street cred like making the US look bad, but maybe you could do us all a favor and remember two things:
1. People outside of the US read what you print.
2. Just because a story looks good doesn't mean it's true.
Do something really crazy and try to hold yourselves to the same high standards you attempt to impose on everyone else.
I really find it hard to believe they think a rise in Islamic facism is a good thing, if they ever pulled themselves out of their fevered anti-Bush haze long enough to think about it. The amount of ink wasted on clamourous warnings of the imminent Christian conservative pseudo-Reich in recent weeks would suggest that they generally oppose religious autocracies. (Socialist autocracies are a different story.) I don't get it; maybe, deep down, they all want to wear burkhas.
I would like to suggest that instead of playing this "gotcha!" game that the press is insistent on playing, they start finding real problems and suggest solutions. And make sure that the problems really are problems, not incidents played up to look like problems in order to sell more magazines.
But the damage is already done.
Newsweek has officially retracted the story.
Friday, May 13, 2005
Churchill Quote of the Week:
The new Minister of Fuel and Power, Hugh Gaitskell, later Attlee's successor as leader of the Labour Party, had advocated saving energy by taking fewer baths: "Personally, I have never had a great many baths myself, and I can assure those who are in the habit of having a great many that it does not make a great difference to their health if they have less." Churchill, a renowned bather, responded: "When Ministers of the Crown speak like this on behalf of HM Government, the Prime Minister and his friends have no need to wonder why they are getting increasingly into bad odour. I have even asked myself, when meditating upon these points, whether you, Mr. Speaker, would admit the word 'lousy' as a Parliamentary expression in referring to the Administration, provided, of course, it was not intended in a contemptuous sense but purely as one of factual narration."
Thursday, May 12, 2005
What does Tyler do when he needs a laugh? Read webcomics.
Here is one of my new favorites, Vexxar! A sci-fi alien thing, it promises to be a lot of fun.
There is something about "You have us by the Golgi Apparatus" that speaks well of his sense of humor..
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
The Editors of NRO: "Yalta Regrets."
"Russia is awash with nostalgia for the bad old days of Soviet Communism...Bush’s speech was an implicit but powerful criticism both of Russia’s flirtation with authoritarianism and of its swooning sentimentality about Soviet brutality."
"Speaking of genocide: Are you sick of Sudan, or have you not learned enough about it? I have a piece in the current issue, examining the Darfur genocide, and the one that took place previously in Sudan’s south. (Darfur is in the west — same country, different genocide. Lovely record, Khartoum’s.)" [And in case you were wondering - yes, Sudan sits on the UN's Human rights committee. - Tyler]
A word about the 92nd St. Y (which is, or was, a YMHA, incidentally, not a YMCA — a Young Men’s Hebrew Association, not a Young Men’s Christian Association): You look up in the auditorium, where concerts are held, and you see names. Ready for them? Beethoven, Lincoln, Washington, David, Moses, Isaiah, Jefferson, Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe, Bach . . . Is it not hard to feel what has been lost, when you see what our culture was, what our civilization was, what people appreciated, what they looked up to (literally)? Is such a feeling pure, conservative, shameful nostalgia?
And what if names were placed in some pantheon today? We’d have . . . Alice Walker, Michael Moore, Barry Commoner . . .
And check out his bumper sticker rant at the end.
Finally, the incomparable Mark Steyn. Unfotunately, it's a tease for his next printed column, but it's worth reading. He brings up a question I've been having - where has the popular culture reaction to the war on terror been?
A week and a half after the VE Day anniversary, here's a date that will get a lot less attention: May 19, 2005. On that day, the war on terror will have outlasted America's participation in the Second World War. In other words, the period since 9/11 will be longer than the period of time between Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the Japanese surrender in August 1945.
Does it seem that long? For the most part, no. The War on Terror has involved no major mobilization of the population at large. In contrast to Casablanca, Mrs. Miniver, "I'll Be Seeing You," "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (with Anyone Else but Me)," "The Last Time I Saw Paris," "Victory Polka," "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition," and "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Town of Berlin," American popular culture has preferred to sit this one out, aside from Michael Moore's crockumentaries and incoherent soundbites from every Hollywood airhead who gets invited to European film festivals. And the response of U.S. government agencies hasn't been much better: In his testimony to the 9/11 commission, George Tenet said blithely that it would take another half-decade to rebuild the CIA's joke of a clandestine service. In other words, three years after 9/11, he was saying he needed another five years. Imagine if FDR had turned to Tenet to start up the OSS. In 1942, he'd have told the president not to worry, we'll have it up and running by 1950.
So, while this war may have started with the first direct assault on American territory since Pearl Harbor, it's clearly evolved into a different kind of conflict, one in which after three and a half years it's hard for many Americans to maintain the sense that it's a "war" at all. By now, National Review's British, Commonwealth, and European readers will be huffing that the Second World War wasn't three-and-a-half years long, you idiots; it was six years, except for certain latecomers who turned up halfway through. Fair point. But if the Americans were late getting into World War II they were also late getting into the war on terror: Al Qaeda's bombers, Saudi moneymen, and Wahhabi clerics had been trying to catch Washington's eye for years only to be dismissed, as then-defense secretary Bill Cohen said of the attack on the USS Cole, as "not sufficiently provocative." You'll have to do better than that, Osama!
And then he did.
Think about it. The shock waves of that day rippled through our society and affected our daily lives. The attack forced us to radically reconsider our security - but few of us did. Aside from a lame miniseries, some half-hearted spy series, "special episodes" of a couple of TV series, and a few songs ("The Rising," "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning," and "Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue" are the only examples that come to mind), where are the reflections of that? And why? Is September 11th destined to become a quiet, dim memory like the flu pandemic of 1918?
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
What was it that the Engines said,
On this date, one hundred and thirty-six years ago, America's greatest engineering feat to date was finished. This feat meant the nation would flower, as at long last East was linked to West.
They would never look back.
Lieutenant-Commander Eric Walmsley, who has died aged 95, was captain of Saumarez, one of the destroyers whose torpedo attack on the Scharnhorst assured the battlecruiser's destruction at the Battle of North Cape.
On December 26 1943, Scharnhorst sortied out of the Norwegian fjords to attack the east-bound convoy JW55B. After a day-long battle of manoeuvre, Scharnhorst was damaged, but seemed about to escape from the battleship Duke of York. As two divisions of destroyers struggled through high seas in the dark to overtake her, Walmsley fired a burst of starshell which blinded the German ship. Then, when Scharnhorst swung away to comb the tracks of their torpedoes, Walmsley found himself ideally positioned for his own torpedo attack.
The Telegraph reported at the time that the destroyers, under murderous fire from Scharnhorst's guns, pressed on indomitably until each side fired torpedoes at point-blank range. The official historian recorded that one sailor cried out: "Get out wires and fenders! We are going alongside the bastard!" Splinters from a near-miss by one of Scharnhorst's 11-inch shells peppered Saumarez with holes. Another 11-inch shell passed through the gun direction tower and obliterated everyone inside without exploding, while Saumarez's after end was spattered by short-range fire. With 10 dead and many wounded, Walmsley pressed home the attack, firing his puny guns and scoring one torpedo hit as the German battleship loomed over him. As a result, Scharnhorst was slowed sufficiently for Duke of York to close the range further and deliver the coup de grace shortly after 7pm.
Saumarez had lost power; her radio aerials were shot away; the after shell room and magazine were flooded; and the starboard engine was out of action. Walmsley had to stop for 20 minutes and wallow head to wind until he was escorted into the Kola Inlet for repairs. He was awarded a Bar to an earlier DSC.
Hat tip to Argghhh!
Monday, May 09, 2005
"...All the nations that border Russia will benefit from the spread of democratic values -- and so will Russia, itself. Stable, prosperous democracies are good neighbors, trading in freedom, and posing no threat to anyone. The United States has free and peaceful nations to the north and south of us. We do not consider ourselves to be encircled; we consider ourselves to be blessed."
"...In the Middle East, we are seeing the rule of law -- the rule of fear give way to the hope of change. And brave reformers in that region deserve more than our praise. The established democracies have a duty to help emerging democracies of the broader Middle East. They need our help, because freedom has deadly enemies in that region -- men who celebrate murder, incite suicide, and thirst for absolute power. By aiding democratic transitions, we will isolate the forces of hatred and terror and defeat them before violence spreads."
"Now, ladies and gentlemen, the freedom of Europe, won by courage, must be secured by effort and goodwill. In our time, as well, we must raise our sights. In the distance we can see another great goal -- not merely the absence of tyranny on this continent, but the end of tyranny in our world. Once again, we're asked to hold firm to our principles, and to value the liberty of others. And once again, if we do our part, freedom will prevail. Thank you, and God bless."
Full text here.
Jay Nordlinger's thoughts: "I have said it before, friends, and will remind you again: There will never be another like him. Enjoy it while you can. The clock is ticking till January ’09."
Oh, and Happy V-E Day!
This is pretty cool. A small oil company believes they have stumbled onto a major oil field, the largest on-shore oil discovery in 30 years. The initial response is cautious, but the discoverers are talking big.
The region around Richfield is no stanger to oil; up until about ten years ago a small refinery operated in Richfield processing crude from several small producers. It has since closed down and been dismantled, I believe.
Oil has never played a major role in the Utah economy until the last 20 years or so, and that emergence has been due more to the decline of mining than the rise of oil production and refining. The fossil fuel that dominated the Utah landscape (and so far still does) is coal, which is mined most profitably in a region west and south of Price, Utah.
So while caution is advisable, I think this is something to watch. It could be big.
Friday, May 06, 2005
But even Bin Laden's eventual demise will not bring peace, love, and the Millenium. Others are still plotting, and rogue nations still scheme. Our future will be that of continual low-intensity, worldwide warfare against individuals who seek to war against nations, and occasional wars agains their state sponsors. These wars will most often involve special operations forces, and most of the battles you and I will never hear about. Defeats will be open and noisy; victories will be quiet, often anti-climactic, and usually secret.
The biggest historical parallel I can find is in the eightenth and again in the early nineteenth centuries, when the Royal Navy (later assisted by the US Navy) began agressive patrolling to end piracy. There never was a climactic final battle; instead, the pirates gradually found it more and more dangerous to do business, and either found new occupations, new hunting grounds, or were destroyed.
So, I believe, it will be with terrorism. This campaign will be a many-pronged effort, against the terrorists themselves in all their theatres of operation (possibly the easiest phase), against their state sponsors (those who provide aid, shelter, and occasionally employ them), and against their ideological leaders.
It will take a long time, but we must fight - and win. Living in fear forever is not an alternative.
P.S. Choosing the life of a terrorist can be hard on you. And no, I'm not related to the guy in the fourth picture.
Churchill Quote of the Week:
"Indeed I do not think we should be justified in using any but the more sombre tones and colours while our people, our Empire, and indeed the whole English-speaking world are passing through a dark and deadly valley."
Sir Winston Churchill, speech given in the House of Commons, January 22, 1941
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Will be on the road until Thursday night. Blogging will be, of necessity, delayed until Friday. Be excellent to one another.
You still here? Well, have a look at the archives if you wish, but really - nothing new 'till Friday.
I don't know why I bother. No one reads this weblog anyway...
America's 10 most hazardous volcanoes
The score shown below is arrived at by looking at both the destructive capacity of each volcano, along with the people and property at risk.
1. Kilauea, Hawaii erupting now
2. St Helens, Washington erupting now
3. Rainier, Washington
4. Hood, Oregon
5. Shasta, California
6. South Sister, Oregon
7. Lassen Volcanic Center, California
8. Mauna Loa, Hawaii signs of unrest
9. Redoubt, Alaska
10. Crater Lake, Oregon
For more information:
USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory
USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory
USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory
USGS Long Valley (CA) Volcano Observatory - very cool pictures, btw
USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Now, a new theory has emerged, which holds some promise. What if Jack the Ripper was a sailor?
I rather doubt that the cases will ever be resolved to anyone's satisfaction. At the time, forensics was a new and developing science, and much of the evidence was lost or dismissed away. The march of time precludes the discovery of new evidence, and all we really have are contemporary reports by fallible investigators.
Which is why the story of Jack the Ripper maintains its allure. He's one who got away; crawling out of his dark hiding place to kill, then slipping back from where he came with no one the wiser.
Found at Orbusmax.
Monday, May 02, 2005
Quite funny, but it's Monty Python-style humor (or humour). Much of the laughs come from absurd visuals and absurd situations. So if that's not your thing, don't go. But you will be missing out.
The only trouble is, the opening song stays in your head and won't leave...
So long so long so long so long
So long so long so long so long
So long so long and thanks!
For all the fish.