Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thorium: Clean and Massively Abundant

Aerospace engineer Kirk Sorensen spotted a forty-year old volume of forgotten research sitting on the shelf at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
When Sorensen and his pals began delving into this history, they discovered not only an alternative fuel but also the design for the alternative reactor. Using that template, the Energy From Thorium team helped produce a design for a new liquid fluoride thorium reactor, or LFTR (pronounced "lifter"), which, according to estimates by Sorensen and others, would be some 50 percent more efficient than today's light-water uranium reactors. If the US reactor fleet could be converted to LFTRs overnight, existing thorium reserves would power the US for a thousand years.
Read it all.

Via David Handy - Blogger, once again in the sidebar.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

For A Contrarian View

Holman W. Jenkins Jr. says, actually, airport security works.
As this column noted years ago, the hunt for the nugget of information that will let us head off each and every attack is certainly worth undertaking, but real success in the narrow field of airport security comes from deterrence—i.e. presenting terrorists with an unacceptable risk of being stopped at the gate.

Contrary to the nugget thinkers who see every Umar Farouk as a security failure, the fact that terrorists are reduced to smuggling explosive materials on-board in their underwear, without the casings and detonators that make for an efficient explosion, is proof of our success in deterring them from even trying to board with a capable bomb. Amazingly, our checked-baggage screening, as imperfect as it's known to be, also appears to pose an unacceptable risk of detection.
Gee, I don't know, Mr. Jenkins. If the price of failure is embarrassment, and the reward for success is death, how exactly is the risk of being stopped unacceptable?

I guess the key word in his argument is deterrence. Yeah, sure, we're deterring them, but at the cost of strongly deterring me, and everyone else who has had enough of this crap, from ever flying again.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Charlie Brown Christmas Story

When CBS executives previewed A Charlie Brown Christmas, they were vastly underwhelmed. There was just so much wrong with it. There was not enough action. It moved too slow. The voices had been done by real kids, not adult actors. There was no laugh track. And Linus read from the Gospel of Luke in one scene. ("You can't read from the Bible on network television!" they declared in unison.) At the end of the meeting, Mendelson was told: "Well, you gave it a good shot. Believe me, we're big Peanuts fans, but maybe it's better suited to the comic page."
Read it all at Mental Floss.

Via Jonah's Debby in The Corner.

The Hero of Flight 253

From the Daily Mail.
Film producer Jasper Schuringa from Amsterdam was sitting in seat 20G when the device ignited. He leapt over the back of the seat and scrambled over four other passengers to pummel Abdulmutallab.

Mr Schuringa then saw a 'burning object' — which he said resembled a small, white shampoo bottle — between the student's legs. Mr Schuringa said: 'It was smoking and there were flames coming from beneath his legs. I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands then threw it away.'

He screamed: 'Water! Water!' as he pulled Abdulmutallab out of his seat and dragged him to the front of the plane.

Fellow passengers poured bottles of water on the blaze, while flight attendants tackled the flames with fire extinguishers. Mr Schuringa said Abdulmutallab seemed dazed. 'He was staring into nothing,' he said.

The producer said he then stripped off Abdulmutallab's clothes to make sure he did not have other explosives on his body. A crew member helped handcuff him.

He said other passengers applauded as he walked back to his seat.

'I don't feel like a hero,' he said: 'It was something that came completely naturally. I had to do something or it would be too late. My hands are pretty burned, but I am fine.

'I am shaken up. I am happy to be here.'
We're happy he was there, too.

It's a shame, though, that we have to wait three days to get the first coherent account of the incident from a British tabloid. Such is the state of journalism in our country.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Not So Early Christmas Morning

This was the first Christmas I can remember where we got to sleep in. As you can see, it was daylight outside and not a present was touched. Charlie finally got impatient and went upstairs to wake Marielle.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

From Equal Time For Pogo by Walt Kelly, 1968.

(Click pic for bigger.)

Here's something I just noticed (and I've had this book for forty years). Keep an eye on Porky's chair.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wise Guys, Eh?

Victor Davis Hanson asks Where Did These Guys Come From?
What Barack Obama advocates is as old as Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics, the agenda of the classical dêmos and Roman turba.
You expected a more contemporary explanation? From VDH?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Which Flicker?

Charlie spotted one of these guys on the black locust out by the barnyard this morning. Gilded Flicker? No, more likely a Northern Flicker, since this is a bit out of the Gilded Flicker's range.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Three Wench Friends

To this day, whenever I have to sing Twelve Days in a group, I follow Churchy's version. I usually get sidelong glances from the people nearest me, but it all blends in.

Kelly's Secret Agenda

Every once in a while some grinning gargoyle of a dedicated liberal searching for meaning, a professional liberal who believes in liberalism rather than liberty, comes grinning at me with teeth set like a jack-o'-lantern and says, "Walter, tell me, what are you trying to do? What's behind the strip?" Such a man is a cryptologist.

The answer is simple, but unacceptable to such questioners. I've hinted at it all along. I'm trying to have fun and make money at the same time.
Walt Kelly in 1959.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nora's Freezin' On The Trolley

Walt Kelly himself:
This represents the first use nationally of the carol "Deck Us All With Boston Charlie." Although incomplete here, it was later expanded to include a couple of other baffling lines. Its first appearance was in the New York Star, Christmas 1948. It probably has something to do with my personal animosity toward those who worship the buck rather than the reindeer. As they say in North Bound-busses, "Everybody talkin' 'bout Christmas ain't goin' there."
So. New York Star, Christmas 1948. You might notice, though, if you get out the magnifying glass (if you're reading this on a computer, just click the picture) that the copyright on the strip reads "1949, N.Y. Post Corp." Kelly explains:
The first of the Pogo strips to be distributed nationally, starting in May 1949, came from a selection of material from the New York Star. This ill-fated newspaper had a brief but gaudy life from June 1948 until January 1949. In an unguarded moment, management decided to entrust me with the duties of political cartoonist, art director, comic-strip editor and comic-strip artist. Thus, loaded with Kelly art, the Star plunged out of orbit after a staggering eight months of furious activity. We might not have been so active, but we were certianly furious.
Ten Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Years With Pogo, by Walt Kelly, 1959.

I Just Keep Reminding Myself

That a law repugnant to the Constitution is void.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Original Version

All full of Peace an' Light.

Actually this panel is from December 22, 1968, the twentieth anniversary of Boston Charlie. Tomorrow I'll post the original, which first appeared in the New York Star, Christmas 1948.

Why Gold?

Doug Casey was asked "why gold?" I thought his reply cleared things up considerably:
First of all, it's because gold is actually money. It's an unfortunate historical anomaly that people think about the paper in their wallets as money. The dollar is, technically, a currency. A currency is a government substitute for money. Gold is money....

Over thousands of years, the precious metals have emerged as the best form of money. Gold and silver both, though primarily gold.

There are very good reasons for this, and they are not new reasons. Aristotle defined five reasons why gold is money in the fourth century BC (which may only have been the first time it was put down on paper). Those five reasons are as valid today as they were then. A good form of money must be: durable, divisible, consistent, convenient, and have value in and of itself.
He elaborates on those five qualities. Worth reading.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reading in the Brain

Christopher F. Chabris reviews Stanislas Dehaene's latest.
For adults, reading is an incredibly efficient way of getting information into the brain. It is efficient in part because it is so effortless: We can read 500 words in a minute; we can tolerate huge variations in the size and design of the type we read; and we can even use context to understand words we have never seen before. In this combination of ease and proficiency, reading resembles other mental tasks that are more remarkable than we might think and that computers have great difficulty learning to do: recognizing faces, interpreting body language or simply navigating in a confined space—e.g., walking through a living room without bumping into the furniture.
OK, I'd never heard of Dehaene before now either. Sounds like a cross between Steven Pinker and Nicholas Wade.

On my wish list, and if it's not in my stocking by December 27th, then I'll just have to buy it myself.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Scrape, Clunk. Rattle, Scuff

Cogito Ergo Geek has a vignette of old age, courage and determination.

New Guinea

For an explanation, see yesterday's post.

For six months after Pearl Harbor the Japanese had run wild, but then they suffered a disastrous naval defeat at the Battle of Midway on the 6th of June, 1942. On the 7th of August the Marines stormed ashore on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, five hundred miles east of New Guinea. Japan controlled the entire northern coast of New Guinea but the Australians still held Port Moresby on the southern side. The Japanese attempted to send their army over the top of the treacherous Owen Stanley Mountains by way of a primitive jungle trail, too rugged for motorized vehicles, called the Kokoda track. In mid-September the Australian army stopped them less than thirty miles from Port Moresby, and then gradually, painfully, forced them back over the Owen Stanleys, retaking the mountain village of Wau in April of 1943.

MacArthur's plan for retaking New Guinea called for securing Milne Bay on the southeastern tip of the island and then working up the coast, first to Sanananda, Buna, and Gona, and then later to Salamaua and Lae. Both the 32nd and the 41st Divisions were ready, but the 32nd got the initial call. In late December the 163rd Regiment of the 41st joined the battle, and by January 22nd the battle for Sanananda was all over but the mopping up. The 186th Infantry flew over the Owen Stanleys to relieve elements of the 32nd.

The next phase would be up to the 162nd Infantry Regiment, including Company I, the boys from Bend, Stanley Langeberg's unit. William F. McCartney wrote the 41st Division's history in 1945, and in it he summed up the Salamaua campaign:
The 162nd Infantry, commanded by Colonel A. R. MacKechnie, ended its long period of waiting and got its baptism of fire in the fight which resulted in the fall of Salamaua and Lae, seventy-six days after the initial landing. In brief the story of the campaign was a landing at Nassau Bay, a junction with the Australians on Bitoi Ridge in the Mubo sector, then a slow process of driving the Japs off the ridges around Tambu Bay, with Roosevelt Ridge and Scout Ridge offering the greatest resistance. (McCartney, p. 51)
The 162nd had been in New Guinea since early February but preparations for the landing at Nassau were not complete until the end of June. The intervening months took a toll.
Malaria, typhus and other diseases, and the enervating climate had reduced the troops to poor physical shape. Units started the campaign with about two-thirds of their normal strength and in its later days several companies were reduced to thirty-five and fifty-five men because of the hardships of the campaign, disease and battle casualties. (McCartney, p. 51)
The 1st Battalion, comprised of companies A, B, and C, hit the beach just before midnight on the 29th of June.
Everything went wrong during the landing at Nassau Bay, approximately ten miles south of Salamaua. The leading PT boat overshot the beach; in turning back, several of the boats carrying the first wave were lost and much time passed before they could be located. By this time the second wave was moving ashore and crossed in front of the first wave, almost causing a collision. As the boats approached shore they found a ten-to-twelve-foot surf pounding the beach. Utter confusion reigned throughout the landing. (McCartney, p. 53)
And yet the stormy night worked to their advantage.
A prisoner, captured later, said that the landing was a complete surprise and that they knew nothing of it until the boats beached, troops were ashore and the tractors and bulldozers were at work. Due to the noise and confusion the Japs thought they were being attacked by an overwhelming force, including tanks, and they moved inland and hid in the swamps. (McCartney, p. 53)
Over the next three days the battalion cleared the area of Japanese, at the cost of over twenty men killed and another thirty wounded, and then linked up with the Australians further inland.
Problems of supply became very difficult and air supply was used. There was a shortage of native carriers and it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the forward units furnished with rations. Food ran short and water was hard to get, men averaging a canteenful a day for all purposes.... To make matters worse, the rations given to these men contained salted peanuts. (McCartney, p. 55)
Evacuation of the wounded was extremely difficult.
Native litter bearers won the admiration and the undying gratitude of the men of the 41st. Over trails hardly wide enough for a man to walk, skirting cliffs often five hundred feet high, they carried the wounded safely and gently. Always there was the soothing comment, "Sorry, Boss" at the slightest jolt of the litter. (McCartney, p. 55)
A week later it was the 3rd Battalion's turn.
After the 1st Battalion of the 162nd Infantry had secured the Nassau Bay area and had moved inland for the fight on Bitoi Ridge and Mount Tambu, the 3d Battalion, under the command of the colorful, intrepid Major (Later Lieutenant Colonel) Archie Roosevelt, son of the late President Roosevelt, came ashore on 6 July. This unit set up defenses on the Nassau beachhead and patrolled north of Salus Inlet. Patrolling activities continued for about two weeks but only light contacts were made with the enemy. Part of Company I hand-carried supplies to the 1st Battalion on Bitoi Ridge when the supply problem was critical there. (McCartney, p. 61)
Plans were made to occupy the high ground overlooking Tambu Bay.
Companies I and L moved out on the morning of 18 July. Information regarding a secret trail which was supposed to alow Company I to reach its objective by late afternoon was erroneous, and due to the rugged terrain encountered two days were required for the march. At the end of the first day, rations were almost gone, many men's shoes were unserviceable and the company was a day's march from its objective. (McCartney, p. 61)
They finally reached a swamp south of the village of Boisi on Tamby Bay at nine o'clock on the evening of the 20th.
The battalion caught hell getting into Tambu Bay. The Japs, strongly entrenched on Roosevelt Ridge, threw everything at the Sunsetters while other Jap forces on towering Scout Track Ridge, to the left of the battalion, raked them with withering enfilade fire. Despite this heavy enemy resistance, and with the aid of their own artillery, the men of the 3d Battalion edged slowly ahead and established a command post at the base of Roosevelt Ridge... (McCartney, p. 61)
For the next three weeks Companies K and L made repeated assaults on Roosevelt Ridge but made little progress. The 2nd Battalion was brought in to help. Meanwhile Company I attempted to clear the Japanese off Scout Track Ridge. (Much of this account is from an article by 1st/Sgt. M. H. Kelley.)
Four days after K and L's first push on Roosevelt Ridge 26 July, we got orders to follow Scout Ridge to where it seemed to intersect Roosevelt Ridge and the Jap army. Led by black Papuan Infantry, we labored heavily armed up Scout Ridge. A native guide raced down the column shouting, "Smellum Yapan!" An Arisaka cracked. Paul Rober fell dead of a bullet. The Japs volleyed with mortars, rifles, MGs. We blew them back, killed 7. The Japs dragged off other dead. (Kelley, p. 88)
The next day they pushed on to a high point on the ridge, which they named Bald Knob, and dug in.
On 28 July, the Japs attacked — out of nowhere. They charged uphill, shrieked, called insults in English. An amplifier with an Orient record weirdly heartened their charge. Our MG's, rifles, grenades blasted them back. But we had heavy losses — especially 2 Papuans who panicked from the holes. That night we learned that muzzle flashes made us targets; we began using grenades for night-fighting.

From 27 July-3 Aug., "I" withstood nightly attacks from infantry. But at dark 3 Aug. came new terror — boom of shell, eerie whistle, crash in perimeter, moans. It was their 70 mm "Whistling Charlie." Then infantry howled, drove in. Sgt. Rush, among others, was wounded; but we lobbed in mortars, rolled grenades, beat them. (Kelley, p. 88)
From then until the 12th of August, they held Bald Knob, but not without daily trouble.

Meanwhile the rest of the 3rd Battalion, reinforced by the 2nd, had made some progress on Roosevelt Ridge, but the Japanese were too well entrenched. Infantry attacks couldn't budge them; it was time to try something different.

The day for the attack on Roosevelt Ridge was a brilliantly clear one. Task Force Headquarters was crowded with officers, men and war correspondents. Though the imminent show was classified top secret, word was passing through the ranks that something out of the ordinary was brewing.... All of the guns at the disposal of the commander of Royal Artillery were ordered to turn their far distant barrels toward Roosevelt Ridge.... At about 1315 the jungles north, south, and west of Roosevelt Ridge shook and shivered to the sustained blast.... Scores of guns — 75mm howitzers, Aussie 25-pounders, 20mms, Bofors, light and heavy machine guns, even small arms — had opened up simultaneously on the enemy-held ridge. A score or more Allied fighters and bombers had swooped low to strafe its dome and tons of bombs released from the B-24s and B-25s fell straight and true, to detonate, shatter, rip and tear and to deliver certain death at that moment on an August afternoon. Those who watched from the beach saw the top fourth of the ridge lift perceptibly into the air and then fall into the waiting sea. In a scant twenty minutes all that remained of the objective was a denuded, redly scarred hill over which infantrymen already were clambering, destroying what remained of a battered and stunned enemy. (McCartney, p. 63)
Roosevelt Ridge was taken, but there were a series of smaller ridges beyond, and three more miles of the Scout Track between the 162nd and Salamaua. The men of Company I picked up where they had left off.
After a brief relief 13 Aug. while other outfits took Roosevelt Ridge, we went back to fight Scout Ridge — but this time from a different side. As we moved inland from the shambles of Roosevelt Ridge, MG's struck our first scouts. Trying to spot gunners, Lt. Gordon took a sniper bullet in the thigh. (Kelley, p. 89)
They pushed on, fighting day after day. They were down to 51 men and four officers.
For 2 weeks after 16 Aug., "I" held in grenade range of Japs, broke their attacks nightly. Without men for offense, we gave them no rest. Our alert snipers spotted movements, squeezed triggers. Strong-armed throwers lobbed grenades; mortars hit them, always unexpected. But among others, we lost Thomas to a direct mortar hit. (Kelley, p. 89)
By the 10th of September the 3rd Batallion had reached Logui Point on Bayern Bay. The next day they received orders to cross the Francisco River and storm Salamaua.
A small group of officers and men, deciding to test what the Japs would offer at Salamaua, walked into the Francisco River on 12 September and deliberately, although apprehensively, forded the stream. Not a shot greeted this group as it waded through the water and climbed out on the opposite bank. Just the previous day the Japs had been throwing out some heavy artillery fire but now the guns were silent. The Japs had fled. (McCartney, p. 66)
The rest of the battalion crossed the river and Salamaua came under Allied control. It hardly seemed worth it.
When the Japs had overrun Salamaua in their southward march in 1942 it had been a lovely place on a beautiful, land-locked harbor. When they gave it up, it was a filthy, rat-ridden, pestilential hole. Rotting corpses sent up a vile stench and rats as big as small dogs roamed all over the place. (McCartney, p. 66)
Company I, and the 162nd Infantry, had proven themselves. Together with the rest of the 41st Division, they had earned a new nickname — the Jungleers.
The Salamaua campaign from Nassau Bay through Tambu Bay, Roosevelt Ridge and Scout Track had taken seventy-six days of fighting over as difficult military terrain as the United States Army has ever encountered. From start to finish there had been no let-up, day or night, in the heavy fighting, small skirmishes and patrolling. The 162nd Infantry had received its baptism of battle and moved nearly two hundred miles from Sanananda Point to Salamaua. It had recaptured more ground for the Allies than had any other force since Pearl Harbor. (McCartney, p. 66)
And yet, in the final analysis, it was all a ruse. John Miller, Jr., the U.S. Army's official historian, concluded:
Salamaua was not an important objective, but MacArthur and Blamey ordered the 3d Australian Division with the MacKechnie Force attached to press against it for purposes of deception. They wanted the Japanese to believe that Salamaua and not Lae was the real objective, and so to strengthen Salamaua at Lae's expense. (Miller, p. 190)

The cost was not cheap. On 29 June there were 2,554 men in the 162d Infantry. By 12 September battle casualties and disease had reduced the regiment to 1,763 men. One hundred and two had been killed, 447 wounded. The 162d estimated it had killed 1,272 Japanese and reported the capture of 6 prisoners.

The Japanese had lost Salamaua after a stiff fight and the very strength of their defense had played into Allied hands, for of the ten thousand enemy soldiers in the Lae-Salamaua area, the majority had been moved to Salamaua. The Allied ruse had succeeded. (Miller, pp. 201-202)
On the 25th of September the 162nd Infantry boarded landing craft and returned to Oro Bay where they received new clothes and spent a few days doing nothing but bathing, eating, and cleaning up. On the 3rd of October they returned to Australia. Or, as Sergeant Kelley put it, to "long-legged blondes, steak and eggs, Aussie pubs, Melbourne furloughs. We had won our first battle." (Kelley, p. 90)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

From Oregon to Australia

I got an extension on my "term paper." It's not a real term paper. Let me explain.

Leslie has put together a booklet with all the transcriptions of her father's Letters From the Southwest Pacific, and I have attempted to write a brief historical background to include as an appendix. My audience, nieces and nephews, brother- and sisters-in-law, have only an average acquaintance with the history of World War Two; which is to say, practically none.

Here is the first part, from Oregon to Australia. Tomorrow, New Guinea.

On the 16th of September in 1940 the war in Europe had raged for just over a year, but the United States was not yet in it. Together with friends and schoolmates from Bend, Oregon, Stanley Langeberg, already a Corporal in the National Guard, was formally inducted into the U.S. Army. Most of the men in Company I, a unit of nearly two hundred men, came from Bend and the surrounding Central Oregon area. Unlike regular Army units, those drawn from the National Guard were composed of boys who had grown up together. Company I became part of the 3rd Battalion of the 162nd Infantry, which, together with the 163rd Infantry from Montana and Idaho, and the 186th Infantry from Washington and Oregon, were to form the 41st Division, initially known as the Sunsetters, but later the Jungleers.

In the fall of 1940 they gathered in Camp Murray (known to the men as "Swamp" Murray) at Fort Lewis, Washington, to begin their training. In May they headed for Jolon, California, stopping on the way in Bend where the men were granted overnight passes to visit their families. In California they were to practice "the most realistic war games ever to be conducted on the Pacific Coast." (McCartney, p. 7) That was not saying much. Their equipment still consisted of "machine guns made of wood, tanks so designated by placards on truck windshields, and an odd assortment of other innovations." (McCartney, p. 11) The United States was not yet ready for war.

On a quiet Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The men of the 41st scrambled to guard the Pacific coast against the anticipated invasion, manning gun emplacements from Port Angeles to Fort Clatsop. It soon became apparent, however, that Japan's intentions were elsewhere. On December 8th they attacked the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Malaya. In short order they took the American islands of Guam and Wake, and British Borneo, and then the Dutch East Indies and Burma. By early 1942 the Japanese controlled the entire southwest Pacific and all but the southern-most part of New Guinea. Even the city of Darwin in northern Australia came under air attack, and the Australian people feared imminent invasion. Their army was busy on the other side of the globe, in North Africa.

In late February the 162nd Regiment went by train to Fort Dix, New Jersey, and there boarded ships. They took the scenic route through the Panama Canal, then to Bora Bora, then to Auckland, New Zealand, finally arriving in Melbourne, Australia on the 9th of April. The people of Australia greeted them enthusiastically. The men settled in at nearby Seymour, a camp used by the Australian army during World War I, and waited for the rest of the 41st Division, the last of which arrived on May 13th. In July they boarded trains for a thousand-mile trip from the "wet chill of Melbourne to the dry heat of Rockhampton" in the north. (McCartney, p. 27) There they trained with new equipment and each battalion practiced a full scale amphibious landing at Toorbul Point. In their spare time they swam in the rivers and enjoyed weekend passes to the small town of Rockhampton and the beachside resort at Yeppoon.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Music

We've been listening to these guys.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Sorry not much blogging lately.

You may recall that I am attempting to reconstruct my father-in-law's experiences in the South Pacific during World War Two. This has turned into a research project of the scope of a college term paper. (A real paper, that is, not one of those cut-n-paste internet jobs.) It's due Monday morning, and I'm cramming.

Here's my bibliography.

The Second World War, by John Keegan, 1990.
The Second World War was so huge, involving almost every country in the world (only six remained neutral), that it is almost impossible to cover it well in a single volume. John Keegan does it best.

Eagle Against the Sun: The American War With Japan, by Ronald H. Spector, 1985.
The best single-volume history of the Pacific War.

Touched With Fire: The Land War in the South Pacific, by Eric Bergerud, 1996.
The Pacific War is primarily known as an island-hopping drive through the islands of the Central Pacific, but there was also another war, a brutal ground war fought through New Guinea, New Britain, and the Solomon Islands. Bergerud takes a topical rather than a narrative approach, taking each topic; heat, humidity, rain, mud, terrain, disease, native peoples, and so on; one at a time. The result is a book that gives the reader a feel for what the war was like for the men who fought it.

MacArthur's Victory: The War in New Guinea, 1943-1944, by Harry A. Gailey, 2004.
A history more sympathetic than most to General MacArthur, this volume focuses on New Guinea. Chapter Four: Salamaua-Lae Operations, covers the campaign in which Stanley Langeberg fought.

Cartwheel: The Reduction of Rabaul, by John Miller, Jr., 1959.
This is the fifth volume of the twelve-volume official history of the Pacific War as published by the United States Army. Most of these are still in print and available from the Army for about $35 each. More economically, you can get the entire set in PDF form on CD-ROM for $15. Operations from Nassau Bay to Salamaua are covered in chapters V and XI.

The New Guinea Offensives, by David Dexter, 1961.
This is the sixth volume of the seven-volume official history of the Australian Army in the War of 1939-1945. Out of print and somewhat difficult to find, but I located one in a used book store in London (by way of Amazon, of course). The Australians beat back the Japanese effort to capture Port Moresby and drove them back over the Owen Stanley mountains to within about twenty-five miles of Salamaua before being joined by the American 162nd Infantry. This account provides more detail of the day-to-day fighting than the official U.S. history.

Salamaua Siege: An Official Publication, Australian Military Forces, no publication date.
This 36-page pamphlet, a narrative history written for the general public, contains the very best maps and some of the best photos of the Salamaua campaign. The before and after photographs of the beautiful tropical paradise of Salamaua reduced to a "filthy, rat-ridden, pestilential hole" are particularly striking. Long out of print and difficult to find, but worth the effort.

The Jungleers: A History of The 41st Infantry Division, by William F. McCartney, 1945, reprinted 1988.
This semi-official divisional history contains the best single narrative account of the 162nd Infantry's seventy-six days of continuous combat from Nassau Bay to Salamaua, with frequent reference to the actions of individual companies, including Stanley Langeberg's Company I. Out of print but not too hard to find.

41st Infantry Division: Fighting Jungleers II, edited by Hargis Westerfield, Ph.D., 1992.
This large book compiles individual accounts and memoirs, some 200 in all, from nearly every company in nearly every campaign. I Co. 162 Infantry: Epic Heroism On Scout Ridge, by 1st/Sgt. M. H. Kelley, most concerns us. Kelley is neither a professional writer nor a historian, but his first-hand account brings us close to the action. (No, Stanley Langeberg is not mentioned by name, but Stan does mention Maurice Kelley in one of his letters.)

The Barbarians: A Soldier's New Guinea Diary, by Peter Pinney, 1988.
Peter Pinney made a name for himself as a journalist and travel writer after the war. He based this book on an illicit diary he kept while in the Australian army fighting from Wau to Salamaua. If you really want to know what fighting the Japanese in New Guinea was like, read this book. It's so beautifully written you'll want to read it again and again.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Churchill In Brief

Jonathan Foreman interviews my favorite historian.
Paul Johnson is the most celebrated and best-loved British historian in America, especially by readers of a conservative bent. Astonishingly prolific, he has over three decades produced a series of serious best sellers, all of which present a refreshingly revisionist take on their subjects. Most controversial of all, perhaps, was his defense of Richard Nixon in his "A History of the American People." But there is plenty in each of his histories to startle readers used to conventional wisdom or the liberal conventions of academia.

Now, at 81 and after years of producing enormous, compulsively readable history books, Mr. Johnson has just written what, at 192 pages, is probably the shortest biography of Winston Churchill ever published.
At Amazon, and in my cart — no, wait. Make that my wish list.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Quote of the Day

Reason means truth and those who are not governed by it take the chance that someday the sunken fact will rip the bottom out of their boat.
--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Spotted at Random Acts of Patriotism.

Sentence First

IBD Editorials reports that a pack of leftists wants Tom Donohue arrested.
Monday, Fox News reported that a coalition of 120 left-wing groups called "Velvet Revolution" issued an Old West-style "wanted" poster, complete with a tip hotline urging anyone connected with the Chamber president to come forward with information that will get him arrested. It offers guaranteed anonymity for tipsters.
What's he done? Nothing, yet. Not that anyone knows of, anyway. It's a fishing expedition with $200,000 as bait. He's no more guilty than you or I, but I have no doubt they'll find something on him. As Glenn Reynolds has mentioned a few times lately, "criminal law has expanded to the point where everyone is some sort of a felon." He recommends Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Harvey A. Silverglate.

It's no longer just rogue prosecutors and attorneys general trying to make a name for themselves. Now the left has escalated the game to a whole new level. It won't stop here, I'm sure. We're all guilty and we will all be punished.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Cranky Santa

The folks at Palladin Press are having a 20% off sale December 8-15. Use promotion code DEC09 on checkout.

You Better Watch Out

Sarah Palin is coming to town.

Stanley Fish provides a beautifully written review of Sarah Palin's book in, of all places, The New York Times.
When I walked into the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan last week, I headed straight for the bright young thing who wore an "Ask Me" button, and asked her to point me to the section of the store where I might find Sarah Palin's memoir, "Going Rogue: An American Life." She looked at me as if I had requested a copy of "Mein Kampf" signed in blood by the author, and directed me to the nearest Barnes and Noble, where, presumably, readers of dubious taste and sensibility could find what they wanted.
Via Instapundit.

Monday, December 07, 2009


The flags were out all over town today.
"What's the holiday?" I teased the man putting them out.

"Pearl Harbor Day."

"Isn't that something the Japanese should celebrate?"

"Maybe they do. I don't know."
It would have made more sense if the flags were flown, as they are properly supposed to be, at half-mast, but that's a little difficult with the wooden poles with the flags tacked on.

Queen Clinton Checks King Obama

The opponent of my opponent is my champion. Go Hillary.
Quietly, and under almost everyone's radar, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been vanquishing her foes, while President Barack Obama has been multiplying his....

On Tuesday night, Clinton may win promotion of another pawn to a valuable seat in the U.S. Senate-and enhance her position on the political chess board.
Very interesting analysis by Colleen O'Connor of the San Diego News Network. Worth reading in its entirety.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Getting Our Christmas Trees

We drove up Highway 230 to about 15 miles this side of Diamond Lake to get our trees this year. Charlie got one for Grandma Bentley.

Marielle got a little one for at the top of the stairs, our upstairs living room.

From the road we walked up a steep hill side. That made it easy to get the trees back down to the car. Part of the way Charlie and Marielle hopped on and rode the tree like a sled.

On the way back we stopped at Beckie's in Union Creek for huckleberry pie.

P.S. We also got a monster tree for our living room. It stood 11½ feet tall but we'll only use the top nine feet.

Friday, December 04, 2009

In the Local Blogosphere

Jim Wickre is one happy Duck, Patrick Joubert Conlon is in the hospital and can use your prayers, and Clueless Emma has gone missing now for over a month. Don't know what's up there, but I hope it's not bad news.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

It’s A Warmerful Life

Mark Steyn weighs in on Warmergate.
The science is so settled it's now perfectly routine for leaders of the developed world to go around sounding like apocalyptic madmen of the kind that used to wander the streets wearing sandwich boards and handing out homemade pamphlets.
It's so good to see him laying off the demographics for a column. There are so many other ways the world could end. For instance, we could be whimpering under punitive taxes.

Wake Me When Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

Steve Flesher on Sarah Palin's Reagan Qualities.
...while some progressive types scramble to suddenly defend Reagan conservatism by writing articles titled "Sarah Palin is NOT the new Reagan," the life stories of Reagan and Palin contradict their theories by revealing stark similarities between these two fascinating Americans.

Reagan and Palin were raised with similar values, attended similar schools, had similar competitive interests, and embarked on authentic, gradual segues into public service, with an undeniable connection to conservative Americans.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Hide the Decline (In Your Ratings)

It's been nearly two weeks since a scandal shook many people's faith in the scientists behind global warming alarmism. The scandal forced the University of East Anglia (UK) to divulge that it threw away raw temperature data and prompted the temporary resignation of Phil Jones of the university's Climate Research Unit.

Despite that resignation and calls by a U.S. senator to investigate the matter, ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news programming have remained silent...
Julia A. Seymour , by way of Driscoll and Insty.

Awkward News Ahead

Geoffrey Miller on some inconvenient truths in the human genome.
The trouble is, the resequencing data will reveal much more about human evolutionary history and ethnic differences than they will about disease genes. Once enough DNA is analysed around the world, science will have a panoramic view of human genetic variation across races, ethnicities and regions. We will start reconstructing a detailed family tree that links all living humans, discovering many surprises about mis-attributed paternity and covert mating between classes, castes, regions and ethnicities.

We will also identify the many genes that create physical and mental differences across populations, and we will be able to estimate when those genes arose. Some of those differences probably occurred very recently, within recorded history....
It will either be the end of racism or the beginning of a whole new kind. Via Instapundit.