American Elephants


Good Speech by The Elephant's Child
October 3, 2017, 6:02 am
Filed under: England, France, History, Military, Politics | Tags: , ,

Henry V  by William Shakespeare

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, will
stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,
And say ‘Tomorrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then he will strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son:
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

……………………..Victory over the French at Agincourt 1415

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The Battle of Culloden Moor by The Elephant's Child
October 1, 2017, 6:34 am
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Scotland | Tags: , ,

16th of April, 1746: The Battle of Culloden Moor

The last great charge of the Highland clansmen—cut down by the volleys of the Redcoat English and Lowland Scots. The life of the clans was suppressed forever. Gaelic proscribed. Native dress (kilts and plaid) forbidden, organization banned, leaders banished.

Clearances allowed Loyalist landowners to expel the inhabitants and replace them with sheep. The result was an uninhabited Highlands which thrills tourists today and leaves more Scots in the United States than in Scotland.

The clearances combined with the two centuries old enclosure movement drove the small holders from the land in Britain and the purges deprived England of the small farmers that might have dissipated the rigid class system.



Worldwide Publicity and Public Outcry + A Little Scientific Input by The Elephant's Child

Charlie-Gard

It appears that worldwide publicity and public outcry have had an effect on the sad case of Great Ormond Street Hospital and the baby Charlie Gard. Seven medical experts have suggested that unpublished data showed therapy could improve the 11-month-old’s brain condition. The High Court said previously that it was unlikely a U.S. doctor offering to treat Charlie would be able to cure him. The Great Ormond Street Hospital has said it would “explore” the data. The case will be heard on Monday by Mr. Justice Francis.

According to the previous High Court ruling GOSH is forbidden from allowing Charlie to be transferred for nucleoside therapy anywhere.

Charlie has mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic condition which affects the cells responsible for energy production and respiration and has left him unable to move or breathe without a ventilator.

The parents have raised £1.3 million on a crowdfunding site to pay for the experimental therapy. Public attitudes may have been different if the cost was to be borne by taxpayers, but it has seemed to many that it’s not something for a court to decide if the parents can pay, even if it should prove to be futile. It’s the hospital and the High Court that have so enraged people around the world.



D-Day Through German Eyes by The Elephant's Child

In one of the posts on D-Day on and around June 6th, I came across a review of a new book, or rather 2 books on the German side of D-Day. The books are D-Day Through German Eyes and D-Day Through German Eyes—Book 2, by Holger Eckhertz. The author’s grandfather was a journalist for German news magazines during World War II. In the spring of 1944, prior to D-Day, he toured sections of the so-called Atlantic Wall, including the Normandy beaches, and interviewed soldiers from units in the area. About ten years later, he determined to track down the soldiers he had interviewed or at least someone from their units and interview them again about their experience during the invasion.

The books are apparently available only as E-books, and are in interview format, that is questions and answers—small vignettes of individual soldier’s experiences. The review isn’t long, and includes some surprising bits of information. The Germans did not expect an invasion at the Normandy beaches, the Allies had control of the air right from the beginning. The German troops were third rate troops, generally soldiers that because of a medical or psychiatric condition were no longer regular infantry, but there were also troops who had defected from the Soviets. They were surprised at the physical size of the American and Canadian troops, presumably because of better diet.

Do read the whole thing. It’s surprising and interesting.  It seems that the Germans were working on a thermobaric weapon — I had to look up the unfamiliar term.  A thermobaric weapon is a type of explosive that utilizes oxygen from the surrounding air to generate an intense, high-temperature explosion, and in practice the blast wave of such a weapon produces a typically significantly longer duration than a conventional condensed explosive. The fuel-air bomb is one of the most well-known types of thermobaric weapons. Fortunately, a stray Allied Bomb inadvertently destroyed to development works.



A Word for Our Fellow Members of NATO: by The Elephant's Child

You have heard President Trump saying that the nations of NATO need to step up and meet their commitments. There are 28 member nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization who have agreed, as a condition of their membership, to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defense.  That goal was set to include only a small percentage of GDP, and to avoid putting too big a burden on smaller countries.

Only five: The United States 3.61%, Greece 2.38%, Britain 2.21%, Estonia 2.16%, and Poland 2% actually meet that obligation. The other 23 countries do not. They range from France 1.78% down to the bottom five: Canada 0.99%, Slovenia o.94%, Spain o.91%, Belgium 0.85%, and Luxembourg 0.44%. The numbers come from 2016 figures supplied by NATO.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told the assembled Defense Ministers:

I owe it to you all to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States, and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms. America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense.

President Trump’s complaint about NATO would seem to be on solid ground, and Secretary Mattis is direct and simple.  With all the absurd claims and accusations going around, it’s nice to clear that particular one up.



One of the Great Speeches by The Elephant's Child



Remember the Men of D-Day, June 6, 1944 by The Elephant's Child
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Major Werner Pluskat in his bunker overlooking Omaha Beach had heard nothing from his superiors. He was cold, tired and exasperated. He felt isolated. He couldn’t understand why there had been no reports from either regimental or division headquarters. …Once more he swung the artillery glasses over to the left, picked up the dark mass of the Cherbourg peninsula and began another slow sweep of the horizon. The same low banks of mist came into view, the same patches of shimmering moonlight, the same restless white flecked sea.Behind him in the bunker his dog Harras, was stretched out asleep. Nearby,  Captain Ludz Wilkening and Lieutenant Fritz Theen were talking quietly. Pluskat joined them. “Still nothing out there,” he told them.” I’m about to give it up. But he walked back to the aperture and stood looking out as the first streaks of light began to lighten the sky. He decided to make another routine sweep.Wearily, he swung the glasses over to the left again. Slowly he tracked across the horizon. He reached the dead center of the bay. The glasses stopped moving. Pluskat tensed, stared hard.Through the scattering thinning mist the horizon was filling with ships — ships of every size and description, ships that casually maneuvered back and forth as though they had been there for hours. There appeared to be thousands of them. Pluskat stared in frozen disbelief, speechless, moved as he had never been before in his life. At that moment the world of the good soldier Pluskat began falling apart. He says that in those first few moments he knew, calmly and surely, that “this was the end for Germany.”      Cornelius Ryan: The Longest Day




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