American Elephants

Wildfire In The West by The Elephant's Child


Those of you who are following the dreadful story of the California wildfires might be interested in Norman Maclean’s Young Men and Fire.  Norman Maclean (1902-1990) grew up in the Western Rocky Mountains of Montana. He worked for many years in logging camps and for the U.S. Forest Service before he began his academic career. He is the author of A River Runs Through It and Other Stories which he completed after his retirement from the University of Chicago in 1973.

On August 5, 1949, a crew of fifteen Smoke-jumpers, the U.S. Forest Service’s elite airborne firefighters, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Less than two hours after their jump, all but three of these men were dead or fatally burned. Exactly what happened in Mann Gulch that day has been obscured by years of grief and controversy.

Norman Maclean first saw the Mann Gulch fire as it still burned in mid August 1949, and even then he knew he would one day become part of its story. Maclean spent the last fourteen years of his life studying and reliving the fire.
Young Men and Fire is a story of Montana, of the ways of wildfires, firefighters and fire scientists, and especially of crew, young and proud, who”hadn’t learned to count the odds and to sense they might owe the universe a tragedy”. The story is also Maclean’s own, the story of a writer obsessed by a strange and human horror, unable to let the truth die with these young men.

The smokejumpers in Mann Gulch are trapped by a “blowup” a deadly explosion of flame and wind rarely encountered and little understood at the time.

A River Runs Through It is also very special. Maclean beginsIn our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”

You Were Complaining About the Cost of Your Health Care? by The Elephant's Child
November 16, 2018, 2:54 pm
Filed under: England, Europe, Health Care, History, Science/Technology | Tags:

The Black Death: 1348-1350, was an amalgam of three diseases: Bubonic plague, septicemic plague, and pulmonary plague. The first two came from fleas carried by black rats, the third was an airborne variant. Cautious estimates: 1/3 of the population of Europe perished. About 1.4 million – 2 million in England, 8 million in France, 30 million in Europe as a whole.

This was a decisive point in the decline of the European feudal system. By 1230 the English population was 6 million. Not until the mid-18th century did population reach this number again.

An Historic Timeline: Leaving Out Quite a Bit by The Elephant's Child


I am fond of making timelines for my own information, to help me understand the order in which things happened, which it turns out, matters. Here’s one:

The Norman Invasion, Battle of Hastings 1066 : “William the Conqueror”
Magna Charta 1215
Black Death 1348-1350
The Renaissance 1350-1600
Hundred Years War  1337-1453 (France: Crecy, Portiers, Joan d’Arc)
War of the Roses  1455-1485  Lancaster v. York
First Watch invented  1502
Martin Luther 1517, Calvin 1532, John Knox 1541, – The Reformation
Spanish Conquest 1519-1535
Henry VIII 1534  Breaks Away from the Catholic Church
First Western Entry to Japan  1542
The Armada  1588
Elizabeth I Dies  1602
The English Civil War 1642-1660 Roundheads v. Cavaliers, Cromwell
American Revolution 1776-1781 (Yorktown)
Washington’s Farewell  1783
Napolean Bonaparte coup -proclaimed emperor 1799
Napoleonic Wars 1804-1815
Waterloo 1815
Crimean War 1853
Darwin Origin of Species  1859
American Civil War  1861 – 1865
Canada becomes Dominion  1867
Boer War 1899 – 1902
Russian Revolution  1903 – 1917
Irish Potato Famine  1846
Irish Free State (Dominion Status) 1922

………………………..Little Ice Age circa 1450 – 1850

……………Yes, It’s an odd quirk, and I obviously left out quite a bit.

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