Railroad maps!

September 30, 2008

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, 1899 - from the Library of Congress

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, 1899 - from the Library of Congress

American Memory at the Library of Congress features dozens of historic railroad maps of U.S. railroads.

This is a great collection for U.S. history presentations on development of the railroads, or on settlement of the west, in particular.

The Railroad maps represent an important historical record, illustrating the growth of travel and settlement as well as the development of industry and agriculture in the United States. They depict the development of cartographic style and technique, highlighting the achievement of early railroaders. Included in the collection are progress report surveys for individual lines, official government surveys, promotional maps, maps showing land grants and rights-of-way, and route guides published by commercial firms.

Heck, if nothing else, these make great backgrounds for PowerPoint presentations.

Bookmark the site — kids working on projects specific to a state or region should have a field day with these things.

Thanks a million

September 29, 2008

Sometime Monday afternoon or evening at approximately 4:40 p.m. Central Daylight Time, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub will pass passed the million total views milestone.

It’s nowhere near the readership of Pharyngula, Eduwonks, Daily Kos or others.   For some reason, many readers feel no need to scrawl on the bathroom wall here (comments are always welcomed, edited only for profanity), so the comments don’t reflect total readership, I think.

Thank you to each and every reader, and especially to the faithful readers who keep coming back day after day.  Thank you to the large handful who send story ideas.

In periods like the current one, when there is so little time to post on key issues, it’s especially gratifying that readership continues to rise.

Thank you, Dear Readers.

Michael Crichton’s errors worshipped by warming deniers

September 28, 2008

The Millard Fillmore soap-on-a-rope* started spinning in the shower this morning.  I knew some mischief was afoot.

Sure enough, as soon as we turned the gas on to the computer and the screen warmed up, what should pop up but a group claiming to be opposed to junk science and arrogant ignorance, but arrogantly spreading the ignorance of junk science:  Climate Change Fraud, “The Crichtonian Green.”

I caught the site with a news reader that looks for idiocy about DDT.  This is the line the automoton caught:

“DDT is not a carcinogen…the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people…”

We’ve washed out the dirt from Crichton’s claims before in the Bathtub, in “Michael Crichton hysterical for DDT.”  Go read his errors there (there’s a YouTube video of his assaulting innocent school children with his hysteric errors, too, in case you think I’m joking).

Among the anti-science crowds, this stuff is holy writ.  Dogma insists that scientists are craven political creatures driven to silly programs that waste money and hurt poor people.  Never mind the facts.  They believe it religiously — and they treat efforts to educate them as assaults on their faith.

DDT is a well-established carcinogen in animals, including mammals, and every cancer-fighting agency on Earth lists DDT as a probable human carcinogen.  The various “bans” on DDT all allow DDT to be used to protect poor people against disease, but DDT’s overuse by its advocates led to rapid evolution of resistance and immunity in insects targeted by DDT — DDT use was stopped when it stopped being effective.  Inaction on the part of DDT advocates, and their unwillingness to use other methods to fight malaria, have been culprits in the too-slow program to reduce malaria among poor people.   Spraying DDT advocates with DDT will do absolutely nothing to get them off their butts to act.

(Go to the search feature on this blog, search for “DDT.”  The truth is out there.)

Oy.  This is how the week starts?


No, I never did get a Millard Fillmore soap-on-a-rope; but it makes a good gambit to open a post, don’t you think?

McCain on Eisenhower’s two letters

September 27, 2008

In the first of the 2008 debates between presidential candidates, Sen. John McCain pointed to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s two letters, written on the eve of the D-Day invasion in June 1944.  One letter would be released.  The first letter, the “Orders of the Day,” commended the troops for their work in the impending invasion, giving full credit for the hoped-for success of the operation to the men and women who would make it work.

The second letter was to be used if the invasion failed.  In it, Eisenhower commended the troops for their valiant efforts, but said that the failure had been in the planning — it was all Eisenhower’s fault.  (It was not a letter of resignation.)

You can find the first letter, the one that was released, through links at this post at the Bathtub, “Quote of the Moment:  Eisenhower at D-Day Eve.”

The second letter, you’ll find in image and text with links to other sources at this Bathtub post, “Quote of the Moment:  Eisenhower, duty and accountability.”  Last year I wrote:

In a few short sentences, Eisenhower commended the courage and commitment of the troops who, he wrote, had done all they could. The invasion was a chance, a good chance based on the best intelligence the Allies had, Eisenhower wrote. But it had failed.

The failure, Eisenhower wrote, was not the fault of the troops, but was entirely Eisenhower’s.

He didn’t blame the weather, though he could have. He didn’t blame fatigue of the troops, though they were tired, some simply from drilling, many from war. He didn’t blame the superior field position of the Germans, though the Germans clearly had the upper hand. He didn’t blame the almost-bizarre attempts to use technology that look almost clownish in retrospect — the gliders that carried troops behind the lines, the flotation devices that were supposed to float tanks to the beaches to provide cover for the troops (but which failed, drowning the tank crews and leaving the foot soldiers on their own).

There may have been a plan B, but in the event of failure, Eisenhower was prepared to establish who was accountable, whose head should roll if anyone’s should.

Eisenhower took full responsibility.

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troop, the air [force] and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.

Who in the U.S. command would write such a thing today?

It was a case of the Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, taking upon himself all responsibility for failure.

McCain has called for the resignation of the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which he points to as part of his plan for accountability.  The analogy fails, I think.  The proper analogy would be George Bush taking blame for the current financial crisis.  In his speech earlier this week, Bush blamed homebuyers, mortgage writers, bankers and financiers.  If Bush took any part of the blame himself, I missed it.

I wonder if McCain really understands the Eisenhower story.  I still wonder:  Who in the U.S. command would write such a thing today?

Bush readies troops to suppress American dissent

September 26, 2008

William K. Wolfrum writes “satire and commentary.”  This would make great satire — but, darn it, it’s not:  “Bush unleashes surge in War on Americans.”

What sort of riots does Bush expect?  When?

Is there a Poe’s Law of politics?  Can we impeach someone who follows that law, and quickly, please?

From Army Times:

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.

*     *     *     *     *

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the “jaws of life” to extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.

The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

“It’s a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they’re fielding. They’ve been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re undertaking we were the first to get it.”

The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.

“I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered,” said Cloutier, describing the experience as “your worst muscle cramp ever — times 10 throughout your whole body.

“I’m not a small guy, I weigh 230 pounds … it put me on my knees in seconds.”

The brigade will not change its name, but the force will be known for the next year as a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF (pronounced “sea-smurf”).

“I can’t think of a more noble mission than this,” said Cloutier, who took command in July. “We’ve been all over the world during this time of conflict, but now our mission is to take care of citizens at home … and depending on where an event occurred, you’re going home to take care of your home town, your loved ones.”

You read it right.  The Army is coming to “take care of you in your home town.”

Were they being deployed to rebuild New Orleans, I’d regard it as a noble undertaking.  Am I wrong to worry about what is up with this?

Whatever happened to the posse comitatus nuts?

Comments are open.  What do you think?


Lookin’ good, for 4.28 billion years old

September 25, 2008

New candidate for “oldest rocks on Earth,” from Canada.  They come in perhaps as old as 4.28 billion years.

They’re older than John McCain!

90 years ago today, the fighting 369th won the war

September 25, 2008

You won’t find it phrased that way in any of the textbooks, but it would improve the telling of history of World War I if we did tell it that way.  This retelling promises to be a good one.

It might improve race relations in the U.S., too.

The story of the Harlem Hellfighters, the 369th Infantry Regiment, and their bravery and fighting acumen in World War I, make for a gripping day of war stories, if you’re looking for stories of heroism.

Edge of the American West is one of those blogs that will make you smarter as you read it, rather than angrier.  If someone is wrong somewhere on the internet, Edge of the American West will help you keep it in perspective.

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