Bastille Day 2016; Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

July 14, 2016

Eiffel Tower in the French national colors, backlit by fireworks, on Bastille Day 2014. IBTimes photo

Eiffel Tower in the French national colors, backlit by fireworks, on Bastille Day 2014. IBTimes photo

Bastille Day, more properly called The 14th of July or National Day, celebrates the day in 1789 that Parisian peasants and non-nobles seized the iconic prison in an old fort known as the Bastille, an action that gave form to the French Revolution.

It is expected that those who love liberty will drink Champagne, listen to French music and toast good friends on Bastille Day. No, not sparkling wine from California or Spain or Australia — real, French Champagne.

Much more can be said about Bastille Day, including that it is generally overlooked in Texas high school history courses. We can put that off until later.

In the meantime, here’s a video from IBTimes of the 2014 fireworks display in Paris, said by many to be among the best ever. I’m off to find some Champagne.


August 9, 1945, at Nagasaki: What we hope was last use of atomic weapons in war

August 9, 2014

Much has changed since I wrote most of the post, below, in 2009. The number of years, perhaps (and I’ve changed them in the text).  Not enough else.

The Obama Administration made some progress in getting Iran to the table to talk non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.   START was renewed.  But not much more.

We’re left with the hope that this was the last time atomic weapons are used.

Stars and Stripes posted this short video of the ceremonies held in 2011 in Peace Park in Nagasaki

21

Stars and Stripes said:

A memorial service was held at the Nagasaki Peace Park on Aug. 9, 2011, the 66th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on the city at the tail end of World War II. The ceremony was attended by dignitaries from 44 countries – including an envoy from the United States – to honor the more than 155,000 people who were claimed by the bomb, including the 80,000 killed instantly.

The service came three days after one similar in Hiroshima, and marked the first time in history that an envoy from the United States attended both services.

In the wake of the March 11 disaster, Japanese officials called for the abolition of nuclear weapons and also for renewable sources of energy to replace nuclear power.

Below is mostly an encore post:

Nuclear anniversaries have been ignored again this year, it seems to me.

Ceremony in Nagasaki marked the remembrance of the victims of the second atomic weapon used in war, which was detonated over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Agence France Press reported (in 2009):

Nagasaki’s mayor, marking the 64th anniversary [66th in 2011] of his city’s atomic bombing by the United States, called on Sunday on the leaders of nuclear-armed powers to visit the site and build a nuclear-free world.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, map by CNN

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, map by CNN

Tomihisa Tanoue urged world leaders from both declared nuclear powers and others such as Iran, Israel and North Korea to visit the city in southwestern Japan.

“I am sure anyone who visits here would feel the sorrow of the victims and be shaken by it,” the mayor said in an address at an annual ceremony commemorating the 1945 bombing.

A minute of silence was observed at 11:02 am (0202 GMT), when the US bomb exploded above the city, killing roughly 74,000 people. The bombing followed one a week before in Hiroshima and hastened Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Tanoue said an April speech by US President Barack Obama in Prague, where Obama pledged to build a world with no nuclear weapons, “impressed” the residents of Nagasaki.

“The Japanese government must support the Prague speech. As a nation that has come under nuclear attack, Japan must lead the international community” in abolishing the weapons, he said.

Similar appeals were made Thursday when Hiroshima marked the anniversary of its bombing, which killed 140,000 people.

At the Nagasaki ceremony, Prime Minister Taro Aso reiterated the Japanese government’s anti-nuclear stance, three weeks ahead of national elections that he is tipped to lose.

Aso raised eyebrows at the Hiroshima ceremony, when he pledged to work toward abolishing nuclear weapons but later told reporters that he thought it was “unimaginable” to attain a nuclear-free world.

Similar ceremonies, and similar pleas for nuclear non-proliferation marked the August 6 anniversary of the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima. The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported:

Some 50,000 people gathered Thursday at the peace park in Hiroshima to mourn the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba delivered a peace declaration, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020.

“The hibakusha still suffer a hell that continues,” said Akiba.

“The Japanese government should support hibakusha, including those who were victims of black rain and those who live overseas,” he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso delivers a speech in front of the Memorial Cenotaph during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, western Japan on Aug. 6, 2009. Hiroshima on Thursday mourned the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II. (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)

“Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso delivers a speech in front of the Memorial Cenotaph during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, western Japan on Aug. 6, 2009. Hiroshima on Thursday mourned the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II. (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)”

It was reported Wednesday that the Japanese government aims to come to an agreement with all atomic bomb survivors who have sued the government for financial support to help them pay medical bills for illnesses related to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Akiba also said “The year 2020 is important as we want to enter a world without nuclear weapons with as many hibakusha as possible. We call on the world to join forces with us to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020.”

Referring to the movements such as the environmentalists, Akibasaid, “Global democracy that respects the will of the world and respects the power of the people has begun to grow.”

“We have the power. We have the responsibility. We are the Obamajority. And we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes we can,” said the mayor.

On Wednesday, Akiba urged the people around the world to join the city’s efforts to abolish nuclear weapons in response to U.S. President Barack Obama’ s appeal for a world free of nuclear weapons.

During the 50-minute memorial ceremony, a moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima 64 years ago, killing nearly 100,000 people in a blink.

This in a week when two burgeoning new nuclear powers, Iran and North Korea, continue to claim they will flout non-proliferation agreements for their own self defense. [Still true in 2014, alas.]

The question obtains on nuclear issues as well as genocides: When does “never again” start?

It’s up to you and me.  What have you done to make “never again” with atomic weapons, start now?

Other related posts at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post.


Bering land bridge in autumn

September 23, 2013

World and U.S. history classes should be long past this point, but the photo just recently surfaced:

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Department of Interior

From America’s Outdoors: Bering Land Bridge National Preserve – Gone are the shockingly bright pinks, yellows and purples of summer, replaced by deeper and darker reds, yellows, greens and the beginnings of brown, all of equal vibrancy and beauty. And soon, as the 34 degree weather and diminishing daylight would lead us to believe, a blanket of white will fall upon the landscape. Enjoy the change of seasons wherever you may be!

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve? Did you even know there was such a thing?  Part of our public lands, your tax dollars at work.

Not a place for a Sunday drive.  There are no roads to get to the place.  For students, this site offers a lot of photos and interesting stuff for projects in history (human migrations) and geography (land forms, lava flows, migration routes, wilderness).

More:

Tors of Serpentine, in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska - NPS photo

Tors of Serpentine, in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska – NPS photo


CSCOPE chart Glenn Beck doesn’t want you to see

April 2, 2013

. . . because he screwed it up.

Thanks to Morgan Freeberg over at House of Eratosthenes — shows he’s a fair player (I doubt he’s got much sympathy with the CSCOPE project).

Here’s the chart Glenn Beck, or perhaps his partner-in-calumny David Barton, appears to have mis-identified, the one that no one else who joined his witch-hunt bandwagon bothered to read:

CSCOPE chart on economics

CSCOPE chart on rise of economic systems in the 19th century that critics claim, erroneously, promotes socialism and Marxism. This is copyrighted material, posted here in the interests of correcting false claims. Will CSCOPE complain?

I’m not sure which episode of “The Blaze” this appeared on in the fuzzy version in my earlier post (anyone know?); but it’s clear that it’s been grotesquely mischaracterized by CSCOPE critics.  Think about a Texas high school kid; the readings say communism prohibits private property ownership.  Given that, how do you think a Texas high school student — generally a sophomore for  world history —  would answer the questions in the “Communism” box:

What about Private Property?

How much government control?

(Say it ain’t so, Glenn Beck:  Did David Barton really complain that Texas’s curriculum puts the family at the the foundation of our culture, and our government?  (Yes, he did.)  He fought to get that in; is Barton on drugs, or depressed, or drunk?  If so, get him help.  If not, he’s corrupt.)

More, from the rational world:

More from the irrational world, the Wall of Shameful reporting:

English: Cropped from a photo of a group of pr...

Cropped from a photo of a group of predominantly anti-Glenn Beck protesters holding home-made placards in Beck’s hometown of Mt. Vernon, Washington, outside the venue where Beck received the ceremonial key to the town. Even his home town people don’t believe him. Photo via Wikipedia


More unintentional humor from Texas conservatives: Can’t read charts on economic systems

April 1, 2013

Mural in Adams Building of Library of Congress, Jefferson on Education

Mural in the Adams Building of the Library of Congress,m with Thomas Jefferson’s views on education, and education’s importance to liberty. (Click for larger version)

Under the standards for social studies the Texas State Board of Education promulgates, Texas high school kids must learn to read charts and extract information from them.

In the criticism of the small-school curriculum planning system, CSCOPE, conservative critics demonstrate both that they are not as smart as a Texas high school kid, OR they don’t know feces in economics.

Note the chart; it’s a fuzzy picture, but it shows an arrow indicating which economic systems have more government involvement, or control, or “interference” in Texas conservative talk; and note the comments:

So, in other words, the conservatives worry because a chart shows that socialism and communism have “more government control and planning,” and the conservatives come unglued.  They read the chart incorrectly; generally conservatives can be counted on to favor less government control in economic matters, which this chart shows is a virtue of free market economics systems.

Let me repeat:  They read the chart incorrectly.

Worse, there’s a guy who professes to teach economics in a California college who says he doesn’t teach this stuff.

What do they want, what does he teach?  That communism offers more economic freedom from government regulation than free enterprise?

Clearly they didn’t bother to read the chart.  These critics are the epitome of knee-jerk reactionaries:  If there is a word about something they don’t like, they assume the entire piece is tainted and biased against them.  If you said, “We say the Pledge of Allegiance every day as a defense against communism,” they’d claim you’re teaching communism.

BUT, this sort of criticism got Texas Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Mars, to call for an investigation, a witch-hunt, of the group that works to provide curriculum helps especially to smaller districts who don’t have curriculum planning staffs; SBOE and the directors of the Regional Education Centers agreed.  Directors of the Regional Education Centers have bent over backwards to be open about what goes into CSCOPE, and how each lesson and each unit, and each test is aligned with Texas standards, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

Yeah, I know:  The chart could have been done differently.  But this is EXACTLY the sort of stuff the Texas Education Agency favors on standardized tests students must pass to advance and graduate, to make sure students read the questions, and the charts.

Are you as smart as a Texas high school student?  Then you’re smarter than the critics of CSCOPE, at least in this case.

Still, CSCOPE, in an well-intentioned effort to be open about the curriculum materials they provide, and whether there is any bias in them, released this statement on their support of free enterprise:

CSCOPE Response to Lesson Regarding Economic Systems

CSCOPE strongly believes in the greatness of the free enterprise system and how it has helped build our country into the envy of all other nations. Free markets are a critical part of our American way of life. It is important to note that the activity in question is in a high school course and not in a grade 6 lesson. This twenty-minute activity is part of a six-day lesson on various economic systems at the high school level that are state required teaching standards set forth by the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education requires students to learn the following economic systems in World History:

  • WH.18: Economics. The student understands the historical origins of contemporary economic systems and the benefits of free enterprise in world history. The student is expected to:
    • WH.18A: Identify the historical origins and characteristics of the free enterprise system, including the contributions of Adam Smith, especially the influence of his ideas found in The Wealth of Nations.
    • WH.18B: Identify the historic origins and characteristics of communism, including the influences of Karl Marx.
    • WH.18C: Identify the historical origins and characteristics of socialism.

Furthermore, the State Board of Education establishes student expectations that focus on social studies skills. For the World History unit referenced above, the following social studies skills are included:

  • WH.30: Economics: The student communicates in written, oral, and visual forms. The student is expected to:
  • WH.30C: Interpret and create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information.

The goal of this activity is to address the content and skills standards that have been adopted by the State Board of Education, and it is absolutely not promoting a way of life contrary to what we value as Americans. In this activity, students examine four different flags, beginning with the US flag, and analyze the colors, the design, and the graphics as symbols of each country’s characteristics and economic systems. Students then design a flag to demonstrate their understanding of the characteristics of socialism, as the standard requires (WH.18C).

CSCOPE has a significant emphasis on the free enterprise system. The other economic systems are only addressed as required by State Board of Education. Additionally, every lesson and activity in our system is customizable. The teacher in the classroom is the final authority on whether or not the lesson should be customized for his or her students and community.

CSCOPE would also like to reassure parents and community members that there is a comparable activity in the lesson that focuses on free markets where students are asked to read about characteristics of free enterprise in The Wealth of Nations, complete an analysis chart, and discuss with their classmates the characteristics and benefits of the free enterprise system. In addition, in Texas History, World History, US History, and US Government courses, students are engaged extensively in studying the principles of the US free enterprise system and the role it plays in American society. Furthermore, Texas graduation requirements specify that students take an economics course, and this course focuses entirely on the American free market system.

CSCOPE staff takes great pride in helping educators teach the standards established by the State Board of Education. This dedicated staff works each day to ensure that teachers have the best resources available to help Texas school children succeed, and they continually focus on improving the system for the districts they serve. We are committed to helping every parent and community member better understand CSCOPE. Please contact CSCOPE through the http://www.cscope.us site if you have further questions or concerns.

The exercise with flag making is pretty lame, to me — with no note of irony that CSCOPE nor their critics would notice, it offers the grand opportunity to read all sorts of symbolism into the U.S. flag that was never intended by the flag’s designers, nor by any tradition.  That’s a pro-free enterprise bias if it occurs, however, and not a pro-communist or socialist bias.

One may wonder if the references to Adam Smith and Wealth of Nations threw the critics; more than once I’ve been confronted by a yahoo at a meeting in Texas who argues that we in the U.S. don’t need any foreign influences in our laws or economy, like that “socialist” Adam Smith!  (To be fair, he published in England . . .)

The charges from “Sharon” can’t help but remind you of that famous political smear campaign against then-U.S. Sen. Claude Pepper, of Florida, in which his opponent called him “Red” Pepper, and accused him of ::GASP!!:: matriculating while a student in college — and not just matriculating, but matriculating in public!

Yes, this is an attempted political smear of CSCOPE, Texas teachers, and Texas education.

P.S.:  I’d love to have a copy of that chart in a readable form; if you have access to the chart, especially to information that indicates where it really comes from (it looks like CSCOPE, but it’s fuzzy here), please send me a copy.  Thanks.

More:

Comments from people and groups who appear not as smart as a Texas high  school student:

And the original?  Screen shot from Glenn Beck’s show:


“The War Prayer” of Mark Twain (encore post)

September 21, 2012

(Updating dead links, especially from the late and lamented (here at least) VodPod, I found myself back in 2008, with this post on Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer.”  Fortunately, I found the film migrated to YouTube, though split in two parts.  Some information that should have caught our attention in 2008 deserves noting now, and we can update and add new links.)

It’s largely forgotten now, especially in history texts in high schools.  After the Spanish-American War, when the U.S. wrested several territories from Spain, including Guam, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, the U.S. quickly got mired in one of the original guerrilla wars in the Philippines.  It took 15 years, but the U.S. finally put down the rebellion — 15 brutal, bloody years.  The conduct of that war shocked many people, including Mark Twain.

This piece was written partly in response to that war.

Many Americans, like Twain, who questioned the war, in turn had their patriotism questioned.  Why wouldn’t they get on board with the war, and kill off those Filipino rebels? the critics asked.

Here’s a film in two parts, a stunning production, produced and directed by Markos Kounalakis (who uploaded the thing); go to the film’s website for a copy of the text.

Part I:

Part II:

Why didn’t I notice this in 2008?  The film is narrated by Peter Coyote.  Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti plays the minister.  Erik Bauersfeld plays the Stranger.

Another short film of The War Prayer came out in 2007, from Lyceum Productions.  Neither version appears to be available on DVD or Blu-Ray.  Too bad.


August 9, 1945, at Nagasaki: The last use of atomic weapons in war

August 9, 2011

How much has changed since I wrote the post, below, in 2009?  The number of years, perhaps (and I’ve changed them in the text).

Stars and Stripes posted this short video of the cermonies held in 2011 in Peace Park in Nagasaki

21

Stars and Stripes said:

A memorial service was held at the Nagasaki Peace Park on Aug. 9, 2011, the 66th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on the city at the tail end of World War II. The ceremony was attended by dignitaries from 44 countries – including an envoy from the United States – to honor the more than 155,000 people who were claimed by the bomb, including the 80,000 killed instantly.

The service came three days after one similar in Hiroshima, and marked the first time in history that an envoy from the United States attended both services.

In the wake of the March 11 disaster, Japanese officials called for the abolition of nuclear weapons and also for renewable sources of energy to replace nuclear power.

Below is mostly an encore post:

Nuclear anniversaries have been ignored this year, it seems to me.

Ceremony in Nagasaki marked the remembrance of the victims of the second atomic weapon used in war, which was detonated over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Agence France Press reported (in 2009):

Nagasaki’s mayor, marking the 64th anniversary [66th in 2011] of his city’s atomic bombing by the United States, called on Sunday on the leaders of nuclear-armed powers to visit the site and build a nuclear-free world.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, map by CNN

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, map by CNN

Tomihisa Tanoue urged world leaders from both declared nuclear powers and others such as Iran, Israel and North Korea to visit the city in southwestern Japan.

“I am sure anyone who visits here would feel the sorrow of the victims and be shaken by it,” the mayor said in an address at an annual ceremony commemorating the 1945 bombing.

A minute of silence was observed at 11:02 am (0202 GMT), when the US bomb exploded above the city, killing roughly 74,000 people. The bombing followed one a week before in Hiroshima and hastened Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Tanoue said an April speech by US President Barack Obama in Prague, where Obama pledged to build a world with no nuclear weapons, “impressed” the residents of Nagasaki.

“The Japanese government must support the Prague speech. As a nation that has come under nuclear attack, Japan must lead the international community” in abolishing the weapons, he said.

Similar appeals were made Thursday when Hiroshima marked the anniversary of its bombing, which killed 140,000 people.

At the Nagasaki ceremony, Prime Minister Taro Aso reiterated the Japanese government’s anti-nuclear stance, three weeks ahead of national elections that he is tipped to lose.

Aso raised eyebrows at the Hiroshima ceremony, when he pledged to work toward abolishing nuclear weapons but later told reporters that he thought it was “unimaginable” to attain a nuclear-free world.

Similar ceremonies, and similar pleas for nuclear non-proliferation marked the August 6 anniversary of the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima. The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported:

Some 50,000 people gathered Thursday at the peace park in Hiroshima to mourn the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba delivered a peace declaration, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020.

“The hibakusha still suffer a hell that continues,” said Akiba.

“The Japanese government should support hibakusha, including those who were victims of black rain and those who live overseas,” he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso delivers a speech in front of the Memorial Cenotaph during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, western Japan on Aug. 6, 2009. Hiroshima on Thursday mourned the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II. (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)

"Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso delivers a speech in front of the Memorial Cenotaph during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, western Japan on Aug. 6, 2009. Hiroshima on Thursday mourned the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by U.S. forces during the World War II. (Xinhua/Ren Zhenglai)"

It was reported Wednesday that the Japanese government aims to come to an agreement with all atomic bomb survivors who have sued the government for financial support to help them pay medical bills for illnesses related to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Akiba also said “The year 2020 is important as we want to enter a world without nuclear weapons with as many hibakusha as possible. We call on the world to join forces with us to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020.”

Referring to the movements such as the environmentalists, Akibasaid, “Global democracy that respects the will of the world and respects the power of the people has begun to grow.”

“We have the power. We have the responsibility. We are the Obamajority. And we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes we can,” said the mayor.

On Wednesday, Akiba urged the people around the world to join the city’s efforts to abolish nuclear weapons in response to U.S. President Barack Obama’ s appeal for a world free of nuclear weapons.

During the 50-minute memorial ceremony, a moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima 64 years ago, killing nearly 100,000 people in a blink.

This in a week when two burgeoning new nuclear powers, Iran and North Korea, continue to claim they will flout non-proliferation agreements for their own self defense. [Still true in 2011, alas.]

The question obtains on nuclear issues as well as genocides: When does “never again” start?

Other related posts at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:


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