Archives

Russian family discovered in remote mountains after decades

Old News: A Russian family lived decades in the remote tiaga wilderness cut off from humanity

This story goes back some years, but it is still amazing, as reported in Smithsonian

Geologists visiting the remote Siberian taiga wilderness in 1978 discovered six members of a family who had fled civilization for religious reasons and survived over 40 years of famine and hardship.

“When (scientist) Pismenskaya asked, “Have you ever eaten bread?” the old man answered: “I have. But they have not. They have never seen it.” At least he was intelligible. The daughters spoke a language distorted by a lifetime of isolation. “When the sisters talked to each other, it sounded like a slow, blurred cooing…”

Two them had never seen a human being other than their parents and brothers.

Read the entire fascinating story HERE

Old News is a new feature at One Man’s World, with interesting facts and tales you may have missed the first time around.

The Somme in All Its Gory – Monday Map

Brilliant Detective Work at 4D Somme

Cartographers use the scarred landscape of France, World War I maps, and satellite imagery to plot the battlefield in stunning detail

somme-overlay

The website 4D Somme is dedicated to the British units raised in Ireland and Ulster, who saw considerable action during the battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916, and ended nearly 5 months later, on November 18th.

But the overall imagery provided covers the entire battlefield.

somme-lines-july-november

Above, the British lines at the start and end of the battle.

Hundreds of thousands died to move the front about 7 miles – over one million casualties in total among the British, French, and German forces fated to take part in arguably the most savage and costly battle in human history.

The satellite maps and the overlays taken from actual WWI strategic mapping can be zoomed into down to the individual village, trench, or observation post.

somme-air

Above, actual reconnaissance photographs lined up perfectly where they were actually taken from aircraft similar to those operated by my maternal grandfather, who flew for the American forces father south near the end of the Great War.

While other sites go into greater detail about the people who fought and died along the River Somme in 1916, this site is entirely engrossing and highly recommended.

The 4D Somme full url is

http://queensub.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=f0629347d5dc4d6987686f876eec5649

 

Remembering the Somme 100 Years On

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the ending of the Battle of the Somme

World War I veteran memories reveal the horror and humanity, and lessons that need relearned, however painful

Forty years ago, author Martin Middlebrook collected eye-witness accounts for his seminal work on the most horrific battle known in human history. But most of them remained hidden until only a few months ago, when they were turned over the Imperial War Museum, in London.

Many of them have now been made available to the public.

Please check out these podcasts and interesting short articles at the museum’s website.

And this article about them at the BBC’s website.

The battle began on July 1, 1916, when over 58,000 British soldiers were lost, with a third of them killed outright. Compare that to the American loses on D-Day (4,697,) at Gettysburg (23,049 over three days) and it will help put things into perspective.

The Somme lasted nearly five months, resulting in over 1 million causalities.

At a time when a new and popular video game, Battlefield 1, is focusing on the combat that took place during the First World War, it is sobering to learn of the real life experiences of actual veterans, many of whom could not bring themselves to speak of their combat experiences until near the end of their lives.

But it is even more important that such stark reality be exhibited before the minds of anyone advocating the use of military force and sending the young men and women of today into harm’s way in the name of  “our national interests” or “national defense.”

somme-satellite-map

source: 4D Somme

A Most Dishonorable Result

We get the government we deserve

Such quotes give scant comfort in an era when integrity means so little

During the first State of the Union Address given by President Barak Obama, when he stated that health care reform would not cover illegal immigrants, Joe Wilson, Republican Representative from South Carolina, shouted from his seat, “You lie!”

The President stopped his speech long enough to reply, “That’s not true.” But too few Americans could tell the difference between the two statements.

Social media was filled with commentary about the incident, with many saying things like “What’s the big deal? Democrats have booed Republican presidents during their addresses too.”

I knew then that if relatively literate, educated Americans do not understand how partisan booing of a President’s policies differed from a serving member of Congress declaring before the nation and the world that the President of the United States is a dishonest and dishonorable man, we were in serious trouble.

But I completely underestimated just how bad it has become.

Now, seven year later, the minority of Americans who actually vote have elected someone to the Presidency who has repeatedly proven, in absolutely verifiable ways, that he is serially dishonest and egregiously dishonorable, and they voted for him anyway.

Like so many, I failed to heed the dire warnings of Carl Sagan at the end of the last century, as he predicted how the American people might sign away their very liberty, if education in this country so deteriorated that voters were unable to distinguish fear mongering from inconvenient truths, and propaganda from reasonable assertion and argument supported by empirical evidence and verifiable fact.

But even such a brilliant wise man as Dr. Sagan could not have envisioned an American electorate unable to see the difference between the baseless character-smearing of the expert career bureaucrat proven to be the most truthful Presidential candidate in this past election cycle, and the overwhelming documentary evidence proving that the rank amateur who won the Presidency is a truly dishonest and dishonorable man unfit to serve on even a PTA board.

Like many a successful shyster, he convinced them to vote against someone else. I realize that a lot of these voters were simply unaware of what they were actually voting for.

Facts Forgotten

The Trump campaign won in part by using the technique where you accuse someone of something terrible, which cannot be disproved, and then say it louder and louder and over and over until the masses believe it must be true.

Trump’s increasing declaration that no one has ever been more corrupt than Hillary Clinton was nothing more than an outrageous insult to hurl at an opponent. It can’t even be considered an opinion, as it has no basis in fact, and was put forth and repeated without a shred of evidence presented to back up his claims.

This technique is known as “the Big Lie” and it has worked very well for many people like Trump, since Adolf Hitler published the concept in Mein Kampf in 1925.

That is not to say Trump is a Nazi. He isn’t.

Fascism doesn’t mean “Nazis.” It means “the merger between the corporation and the state.”

That is the definition of Fascism according to Giovanni Gentile, the man who invented it.

And that is exactly what the American people voted for; even if most of them didn’t even know it, including Donald Trump.

All they know is they voted for the tough-talking outsider who is going to shake up Washington – by voting into power the very corruption they thought they were voting against.

They just handed the White House and Congress to the Oil Companies whose profits are soaring but pay no taxes, the Insurance Companies that will deny them healthcare or skyrocket their premiums once the ACA is repealed, the Pharmaceutical Companies who will continue to charge them many times more for drugs than what people pay in other countries, and the shadowy firms who make most of the weapons of mass destruction in the world and grow fat by eating up more than half of every tax dollar that should be going to repair our schools, bridges, roads, and affordable healthcare in the only industrialized nation that doesn’t have it.

In case you think such statements are soft on “national defense,” you may have not noticed that the USA’s military is larger and more powerful than THE ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD COMBINED.

A Safe Place

At 3:30 AM, after drinking more scotch than at any time my life, I posted on social media my sincere disappointment with the results of the most important election in my lifetime, and my disgust for those who would knowingly vote for Institutionalized Intolerance, Bigotry, and Brutality, which Donald Trump embraces and encouraged.

I received a private message in response to my election night reaction, asking “Do you need a blankie and a safe place?”

My impromptu reply included the following:

Oh my.

You could not be more wrong.

I have spent far too many years in a very safe place on an island off the coast of America, in the only cosmopolitan city on the continent.

From here I could feel sorry for working class women in places like Texas, who could not access safe and affordable healthcare, or even a textbook on history or science that presented the world to young minds as it really is, rather than sustaining the precious but false beliefs of those empowered to ban books and even ideas.

But my own life was relatively untouched by such things, and I grew complacent and comfortable and on the sideline far too long.

While I could be tempted to emigrate from America to the civilized world – a place that is, around the globe, horrified at what happened here on the 8th of November – that would be deserting my homeland on the brink of its worst crisis since the Civil War.

Only, this time, the winning forces belong to the bigotry-based aristocracy that grow ever richer on the masses of ignorant laborers, because they vote against their own better interests, if they vote at all.

A little over a decade ago, representatives from around the world, who really know what they are talking about, took part in a poll that named North Korea as the worst threat to world peace and global stability.

The United States of America came in second.

The Obama Administration went a long way toward repairing the severe damage to our credibility brought about by the last Republican administration, as well as overseeing an historic and remarkable domestic economic recovery from the calamity that happened during the Bush Administration, and all despite disgraceful obstructionism on the part of a hostile Congress, the like of which having never before existed in U.S. history.

So yeah, I am distraught to the point of despair that the United States of America is now going to backslide from all of that progress and set the world back decades if not a century, when very real threats like Climate Change cannot wait, rather than leading the world into a brighter future, as it once did.

As a white Anglo-Saxon male with health insurance, most any election result hardly touches my own life.

Yet I grieve for my fellow Americans who will suffer mightily as a result of this election. And that includes those who brought it upon themselves.

Well, some of them anyway.

But I grieve most for those in this once great nation that was built upon principals of enlightenment and justice for all, whose civil rights and human rights are threatened, denied, or abused, now that the Ugly Americanism of ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, brutality, and persecution have been given a green light and the reigns of power, and in many cases will almost certainly be legislated into law.

Tolerance Has Its Limits

I have never been particularly political, except in cases of notable social injustice. My life has been built upon tolerance, even for the most intolerant, who I tended to pity if not as much as their victims, except in cases of overt bigotry. But no longer.

With very few exceptions for the genuinely ignorant or those of misguided religious principals, I simply will never forgive anyone who voted for Donald Trump in knowing opposition to raising the minimum wage so families with two full-time working parents do not live in poverty, protecting Social Security and Medicare, science education standards based on actual science rather than denial or mythology, true environmental protection, truly equal civil rights and protection under the law for all Americans including equal pay for equal work and national healthcare, stopping criminals from buying firearms without a waiting period in some states to use for crimes in other states, and forcing corporations and the extremely wealthy to pay taxes equal to their income.

Those are all things you voted against if you voted for Trump.

And for those who voted thus out of concern only for their own personal greed at the expense of their fellow citizens, just so they can pay fewer taxes in a country with one of the lowest tax rates in the industrialized world, I have lost any respect I might have held for you as a human being – permanently.

 

Woodstock – Still Wonderful 47 Years On

This week marks the 47th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair.

It actually took place over three days (spilling over into a fourth) on a dairy farm outside of Bethel, New York, because the sleepy town of Woodstock voted to reject the initial plan to have it there.

For the 40th anniversary some films were put together, dedicated to first two days.

Here they are for your enjoyment.

Running just under an hour per film, they are full of footage shot for the Oscar winning documentary entitled Woodstock, but much of it previously unseen. This includes fascinating and entertaining examples of the crowds who attended, as well as the people who put on the festival and the musicians who performed there. Many of these performances were not included in the original theatrical release.

Day One Music Line Up: Richie Havens, Sweetwater, Bert Sommer, Ravi Shankar, Tim Harden, Melanie, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez went on at 1 AM to close the first day’s program.

 

Day Two Music Line Up: Quill, Country Joe McDonald, Santana, John Sebastian, Keef Hartley Band, The Incredible String Band, Canned Heat, Mountain, The Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival, Janice Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, The Who went on at 5 AM (due to earlier rain delays, ending at sunrise,) The Jefferson Airplane went on at 8 AM, closing out Saturday’s program

 

Day Three Music Line Up: Joe Cocker, Country Joe and the Fish, Ten Years After, The Band, Johnnie Winter, Blood Sweat and Tears, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Monday starting at 6 AM – Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Sha Na Na, Jimi Hendrix

Unfortunately, there isn’t a Part 3 available for these videos. But here are some videos from the musical perofrmances…

Crosby, Stills and Nash (before Neil Young came out)

And an except of Hendrix’s legendary performance, before a small crowd of diehard audience members who remained.

The Deadly Zone Rouge of France – Monday Map

Some 100 square kilometers of France is completely closed to people. It is known as Zone Rouge – the Red Zone.

The land there is utterly poisoned by the human folly that was World War I. To this day it remains unfit and unsafe to tread upon, 100 years later.

Zone Rouge - France's Deadly Red Zone

Surrounded by many more kilometers that have been slowly and imperfectly reclaimed, most people are unaware this caged landscape exists among the otherwise beautiful French countryside, near the border with Belgium.

There the Red Baron fought and fell, along with countless others of less-lofty reputations. And there, two place names became synonymous with human suffering on an obscene scale, because of the atrocious loss of life that took place there – Verdun and the River Somme.

As revealed in eye-opening detail at a blog dedicated to all sort of curiosities, the Zone Rouge is freakishly other-wordily, as the residents living near by continue to harvest a ghastly collection of munitions and human remains.

“… the forsaken territory, originally covering more than 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq miles) in the years following the Great War. Today, around 100km2 (roughly the size of Paris), is still strictly prohibited by law from public entry and agricultural use because of an impossible amount of human remains and unexploded chemical munitions yet to be recovered from the battlefields of both world wars…”

The essay is supplemented with many photos from one Olivier Saint Hilaire, which are indeed evocative. With more found via the link to his personal website.

This representational map of the Somme campaign makes up the Red Zone area between the towns of Cambrai, Arras, and Amiens.

The Somme 1916

The Lost Generation

One hundred years ago, one of the most cataclysmic battles in human history was raging in northern France.

The Battle of the Somme began on July 1, 1916. Fifty-three years earlier, on July 1, 1863, the battle of Gettysburg commenced in Pennsylvania.

Over three days of fighting at Gettysburg, a total of 51,112 Americans on both sides were lost as casualties during the entire battle, with some 7,000 killed outright. It remains the bloodiest, most lethal three days in American history.

During the first day’s fighting at the River Somme, the British Army alone lost over 57,000 men, with 20,000 dying on the field.

FIFTY-SEVEN THOUSAND.

The battle lasted four months. The combined losses of the Franco-British and Imperial German armies were over 1.5 million men.

ONE AND A HALF MILLION MEN.

On Thursday last, I watched the semifinal football match of the European championships, between France and Germany. These young men, almost all of them in their 20s and among the finest physical specimens their nations could produce, were giving everything they could to prove victorious for the expectant countries and their own personal glory. And throughout the relatively civil competition, I was haunted by the fact that these same champion athletes would almost certainly have been wearing the uniform of opposing armies locked in deadly strife, had they been born 100 years earlier.

They would have undergone a very different kind of training and physical conditioning to hone their elite skills for the purpose of killing their fellow Europeans, in a war between states whose rulers were, in some cases, cousins.

cousins

For me, the obscene absurdity of the so-called Great War isn’t found in the fact closely-related cousins could inflict such horrors upon their own closely-related European peoples. But rather, that the people of Europe could have done it all over again less than 30 years later – with far worse destruction of treasure and human lives.

As the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union, it is important to remember that the peace that has existed there is not to be taken for granted. Rather, it has required an enormous change of attitudes in nationalism, jingoism, and xenophobia, and continual efforts since the end the Second World War to prevent backsliding.

May the centennial of the Somme and other atrocious acts of war in the coming months and years help to educate and supplicate the current tensions rippling across Europe and its neighbors.

The Most Significant 4th of July – Monday Map

The 4th of July is set aside to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which actually took place on July 2, 1776.

But the most important July 4th of all was that of 1863, when it was celebrated as a national day thanksgiving and of mourning, at least throughout the northern states.

On that date, the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi surrendered to the combined forces under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant, at the end of a long, grueling siege during the War of the Rebellion, now typically referred to as the America Civil War.

Vicksburg 4th of July map

Vicksburg map 4th of July

And on that same 4th of the July the rebel forces of General Robert E. Lee withdrew in defeat from the fields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from where they retreated south across the Mason Dixon Line, and never again posed any serious threat to the nation’s capital, nor to any northern state.

gettysburg-map 4th of July 1863

While the timing in Pennsylvania was accidental, at Vicksburg it was anything but.

The commander of the Confederate forces within the beleaguered city was born and raised a Northerner. He chose to surrender on the 4th of July, saying he knew his northern people and that they would give better terms on that day than on any other day of the year.

The very first 4th of July may have rang the knell for the birth of our nation. But it was this later, more important 4th of July which helped forge in the crucible of the Civil War a single nation from a more imperfect collection of discordant states.

And even if some continue to kick and scream from what Mr. Lincoln called a new birth of freedom.

 

Visions of Johanna still haunting after 50 years

May 17, 1966 – Bob Dylan performs Visions of Johanna, solo acoustic

Imagine, if you can, someone hearing this song for the first time, rendered by Dylan in top form

Love songs have been a part of music since, well, forever. Many are light or even trite, while some others can be truly moving.

But when it came to popular music in modern times, there were songs about falling in love, falling out of love, being a teenager in love, or a teenager being dumped, occasionally letting someone down easy, or telling them to “hit the road, Jack.”

And then there came Visions of Johanna.

Read the full essay and hear the song HERE

Dylan 1966 Visions of Johanna concert

photo: Mark Makin who took the only photos from the concert, getting “about nine usable shots” from a roll of film, according to the BBC.

Duluth, Minnesota 1891 – Monday Map

50 years before Bob Dylan was born there

On May 24, 1941 – 75 years ago

Monday Map Duluth 1891

Although he denied his actual origins and place of birth at first, in an effort to create some mystery and an image associated with intrepid figures like Woody Guthrie and Billy the Kid, Bob Dylan was born in Duluth, the Great Lakes port, before his family moved to the North Country mining town of Hibbing, MN when he was 6 years old.

Hibbing, Minnesota in the 1940s

Hibbing Minnesota north of Duluth 1940s

Hibbing Minnesota train to Duluth 1940s Bob Dylan

His mother grew up there, and his father worked for the family electrical supply shop. The young Bob Zimmerman had a normal merchant-class upbringing, and like many teenagers he wanted to play the electric guitar in a rock and roll band.

And that is something he did to revolutionary effect, when he first toured with an electric guitar, in 1966, 50 years ago.

In fact, his double album Blonde on Blonde was released on May 15, 1966, and he performed the infamous “Judas” concert in Manchester, England on May 17.

 

Manhattan 1776 – Monday Map

Website Shows New York City Boundaries Over 250 Years

Manhattan Island Slowly Swallowed by the Big Apple

Manhattan 1776 map

click to enlarge

The map above shows General Washington’s fortifications at New York (left) and what were later named Washington Heights (right) in 1776 stretch the length of Manhattan Island.

A series of similar maps is found on a very interesting webpage, which shows the expansion of New York City from 1660 to 2004.

See more HERE

This brought to mind David McCullough’s wonderful book, 1776, which takes an in depth look at that extremely important year in American history, and how it began with the revolutionary forces withdrawing from Boston, only to be soundly defeated at New York in the Battle of Long Island, but ultimately ending in the Washington’s daring attack at Trenton, New Jersey at the end of the year. Highly recommended.