American Elephants


The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain by The Elephant's Child
December 31, 2015, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Heartwarming, Music, United Kingdom | Tags: , ,



A Smart Bandage Signals Infection by Turning Fluoresent Green by The Elephant's Child

smart.bandages.1x519From the MIT Technology Review: A smart bandage signals infection by turning a fluorescent color. Researchers have developed a new kind of wound dressing that could serve as an early-detection system for infections. This could not only save lives, but reduce the need for antibiotics.

Bacterial infection is a fairly common and potentially dangerous complication of wound healing, but a new “intelligent” dressing that turns fluorescent green to signal the onset of an infection could provide physicians a valuable early-detection system.

Researchers in the United Kingdom recently unveiled a prototype of the color-changing bandage, which contains a gel-like material infused with tiny capsules that release nontoxic fluorescent dye in response to contact with populations of bacteria that commonly cause wound infections.

Led by Toby Jenkins, a professor of biophysical chemistry at the University of Bath, the inventors of the new bandage, which has not yet been tested in humans, say it could be used to alert health-care professionals to an infection early enough to prevent the patient from getting sick. In some cases it may even be able help avoid the need for antibiotics, says Jenkins.

Battlefield wounds are often dirty, infection, gangrene all too often led to amputation or death. I’m re-reading my way through the Patrick O’Brien Aubrey/ Maturin series of 18th Century sea stories, and there are plenty of shipboard wounds, and amputations,  usually successful because Stephen Maturin was an excellent 18the century physician. But in the real world, it is a real problem. Our current military provides wonderful care, compared to their forebears. My family lost a young uncle on each side of the civil war to a battlefield wound and sepsis.

The article reminds us that caring for infected wounds costs billions of dollars annually. This is early on, but very promising.



Daniel Hannan On The Miracle of the Marketplace by The Elephant's Child

Why private property matters, and how nations develop. In some parts of the world they have never developed those simple ideas, which is why poverty remains so endemic. If you have no title to your property, nor law that defends your rights, you cannot borrow against that value to start even a small business.



R.I.P. Robert Conquest by The Elephant's Child

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The great historian of Russia has passed away at the age of 98. Robert Conquest spent 28 years at the Hoover Institution where he was a Senior Research Fellow. He has, perhaps, been best known for his landmark work The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties. Thirty-five years after its publication, the book remains one of the most influential studies of Soviet history and has been translated into more than 20 languages. It is a detailed log of Stalin’s assassinations, arrests, tortures, frame-ups, forced confessions, show trials, executions and incarcerations that destroyed millions of lives.

Conquest was the author of twenty-one books on Soviet history, politics, and international affairs, including Harvest of Sorrow, which exposed the terror famine in the Ukraine, Stalin and the Kirov Murder, The Great Terror a Reassessment, Stalin: Breaker of Nations and Reflections on a Ravaged Century and The Dragons of Expectation. The last two are treasured books of mine.

He wrote one science fiction novel, and lots of poetry for which he also received awards.

He had no shortage of awards, the Jefferson Lectureship, the highest honor bestowed by the federal government for achievement in the humanities (1930), the Dan David Prize (2012), Poland’s Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit (2009), Estonia’s  Cross of Terra Mariana (2008), and the Ukrainian Order of Yaroslav Mudryi (2005).

Educated at Winchester College and the University of Grenoble, he was an exhibitioner in modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford, receiving his BA and MA in politics, philosophy, and economics and his DLitt in history.

Conquest-2005-copyConquest served in the British infantry in World War II and thereafter in His Majesty’s Diplomatic Service; he was awarded the Order of the British Empire. In 1996 he was named a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.

He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

( from the Hoover Institution, and Cynthia Haven)



It Sounded Like a Big Deal, But It is Only a Teeny One. by The Elephant's Child
June 24, 2015, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, United Kingdom | Tags: , ,

In Britain, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has announced that large swathes of the British countryside are to be spared the blight of windfarms as taxpayer subsidies are ended. She said that about 2,500 proposed turbines in 250 projects are now “unlikely to be built.” Pay attention to that word “proposed.” They are not tearing down existing windfarms, at least not yet.

The owners of some windfarms have been paid more than £3 million each to shut down their turbines when the National Grid is overloaded. Most windfarms are in Scotland, and “bottlenecks” of energy can build during high winds. Offshore windfarms are not affected as yet. This is unrelated to the ending of subsidies for future farms.

Origin Energy wants to cut down a corner of Barnsdale Forest to make way for two 400ft wind turbines which would tower over the remaining trees. The forest, which was featured in Russell Crowe’s 2010 movie ‘Robin Hood,’ is established as the haunt of the Merry Men in folklore, but local historians are researching Tudor history to determine if there is truth to the story — to prevent the turbines from being built.The locals are set against the windfarm.

Ms Rudd, who has also announced plans to give local communities the final say over windfarms, said: “We are reaching the limits of what is affordable, and what the public is prepared to accept.”

But critics said taxpayers still face a soaring bill for subsidies to costly offshore windfarms .

Without taxpayer subsidies, windfarms get scrapped. They are not a successful business proposition. Britain got all excited about moving to “renewable” energy, but as they blight the landscape and nearby people suffer from the noise, and their taxes go up, enthusiasm wanes. When you get around to shutting them down, be sure to add taking them down and disposing of the dead turbines part of the deal.

I did see ‘Robin Hood’ and cherish the memory. Russell Crowe was Russell Crowe, the story improbable, but it was the ending that was wonderful. It was the Norman Invasion, 1066, and according to Hollywood, the Normans invaded England with Medieval Higgins boats apparently mostly made of driftwood. They were rowed up to the British beach and the front ramp fell, but all were defeated by the Merry Men and the Battle of Hastings never took place? Or perhaps the beach landings were the Battle of Hastings. It was hilarious!



The Battle of Waterloo, June 18, 1815 by The Elephant's Child

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Napoléon Bonaparte, born August 15, 1769 on the island of Corsica, rose from an artillery officer in the French Army,  to prominence during the French Revolution and its associated wars. He dominated French affairs for two decades while leading France against 220px-Jacques-Louis_David_-_The_Emperor_Napoleon_in_His_Study_at_the_Tuileries_-_Google_Art_Projecta series of coalitions in the Revolutionary Wars and what came to be called the Napoleonic Wars.

He became Emperor of France in 1804. He was one of the greatest military commanders in history and his campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide.

Today, the British are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, by a coalition led by the British Duke of Wellington, pictured at top to Napoleon’s right in the red coat.

Andrew Roberts has a new biography just out. I’ve heard him interviewed on the radio, and it sounds very interesting. British children learn two major dates — 1066, the Battle of Hastings, and 1815, the Battle of Waterloo — or at least they used to. Of course there is a movie, called appropriately — “Waterloo.”



Piper Bill Millin Pipes the Invasion Forces Ashore on Sword Beach by The Elephant's Child

Bill Millin, Lord Lovat’s personal piper, is pictured here ready to jump from the ramp of the landing craft into the icy water of Sword beach on June 6, D–Day, 1944.  Lord Lovat is thigh-deep in the water just to the left of Bill Millin’s arm.  As the Telegraph obituary says: “As the Cameron tartan of his kilt floated to the surface he struck up with Hieland Laddie.  He continued to pipe even as the man behind him was hit, dropped into the sea and sank.

Millin said “I was so relieved of getting off that boat after all night being violently sick.  When I finished, Lovat asked for another tune.  Well, when I looked round — the noise and people lying about shouting and the smoke, the crump of mortars, I said to myself  “Well, you must be joking surely.” He said “What was that?” and he said “Would you mind giving us a tune?” “Well, what tune would you like, Sir?” “How about The Road to the Isles?” “Now, would you want me to walk up and down, Sir?” “Yes, That would be nice.  Yes, walk up and down.”

And that’s what Bill Millin did, walked up and down the invasion beach at water’s edge, blasting out a series of tunes.  Bodies of the fallen were drifting to and fro in the surf.  Soldiers were trying to dig in and, when they heard the pipes, many of them waved and cheered — though one came up to Millin and called him “a mad bastard.”

For many soldiers, the piper provided a unique boost to morale.  “I shall never forget hearing the skirl of Bill Millin’s pipes” said one, Tom Duncan, many years later.  “It is hard to describe the impact it had.  It gave us a great lift and increased our determination.  As well as the pride we felt, it reminded us of home and why we were there fighting for our lives and those of our loved ones.”

After the Great War the War Office had banned pipers from leading soldiers into battle after losses had become too great. “Ah, but that’s the English War Office,” Lovat told Millin.  You and I are both Scottish and that doesn’t apply.”  Millin was the only piper on D-Day.

Millin died on August 17, 2010 aged 88.  He piped the invasion forces on to the shores of France, unarmed apart from the ceremonial dagger in his stocking.  The mayor of Colleville-Montgomery, a town on Sword Beach, has offered a site for a life-size statue of Millin opposite the place where he landed on D-Day. His pipes are in the Scottish War Museum.

Bill Millin’s personal account of D-Day is found here, and the Telegraph’s obituary is here. Millin has been justly famous in all accounts of the D-Day invasion, especially his courageous march across Pegasus Bridge at the crossing of the Orne.  This may have been the last time that a Scottish piper led Scottish troops into battle.




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