Sergeant’s Business and Other Stories Now Available in Paperback

JDB Communications, LLC is proud to announce the availability of the famous short story collection from John D. Beatty, Sergeant’s Business and Other Stories at The Book Patch. According to the author:

Mostly this collection is about the unsung, the innumerable heroes that don’t get into the history books, that struggle on many levels, are hurt and killed by the enemy and the elements, by bad luck and stupidity-the ultimate yet necessary stupidity that is war.

Priced at $7.99 for the 212-page 6 X 9 perfect bound, $3.99 for PDF, Sergeant’s Business is perfect for those who love a front-to-back engaging read.



Crucible: Causes and Global Effects of the War of 1812 Now Available in Paperback!

JDB Communications, LLC is proud to announce that Crucible: The Causes and Global Effects of the War of 1812 by John D. Beatty is now available in paperback from The Book Patch.

The War of 1812, often called the second war for American independence, took place during a global conflict between Britain and Napoleonic France, which then controlled most of Europe. The causes for the war are often obscured, and go far beyond the impressment of sailors so often cited. The long-ranging effects of the conflict are still being felt, and may be most evident in the American way of war, with the conduct of warfare at sea for the rest of the 19th century, and in the nature of the military and political systems of the United States.

Modestly priced at $3.99, this 38-page text is also available in Amazon Kindle format for $0.99, or free for Kindle Unlimited members.


Wrong-Way Corrigan and Yellow Pig Day

Well, we all know the story of ol’ Wrong Way (though most of what we “know” ain’t so), but of other things that happened on 17 July there are legion, including the final surrender of Napoleon at Rochefort in 1915, the founding of Harvard’s Dental School of Medicine in 1867, the execution of the Romanovs in 1918, the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the Port Chicago explosion in 1944, the opening of Disneyland in 1955, and the TWA 800 explosion in 1996.  It’s also National Peach Ice Cream Day and World Emoji Day.  I can get (almost) all but that last one.

The whole world “knows” that Douglas Corrigan took off from New York on 17 July 1938 planning to go to California, but landed twenty-eight hours later in Ireland.  The sobriquet “Wrong Way” got stuck to him immediately thereafter and stuck for the rest of his life.  Trouble is, that’s not really what happened.  He wasn’t authorized to make a trans-Atlantic jump because the authorities that were in charge of such things deemed his aircraft (that he built himself) to be unsafe.  It was important for public relations reasons at that time that as few air-travel disasters as possible were enabled, and Corrigan was a fairly well-known airplane builder (he had worked on Lindberg’s Spirit)  and pilot.

The truth was that he had always planned a trans-Atlantic flight, and he was by no means the first to solo across the pond.  He took off after anyone who could stop him had gone home, turned around above the cloud deck, and headed for Ireland.  But he enjoyed more fame as a poor navigator than he did as a miscreant, so he never admitted that it was intentional.  Corrigan died in 1995, and Wrong Way Corrigan Day commemorates his achievement.

Someone is seriously going to have to explain this one to me.  Yellow Pig Day is July 17, has been since the 1960s, apparently. The way I get it, yellow pigs have seventeen eyelashes, and a couple of math geeks at Princeton named Kelley and Spivak were obsessing over the number 17…yeah.  Anyway, the two of them invented yellow pigs with seventeen toes and seventeen teeth…and on and on, and…maybe you need to be a mathematician to appreciate it. At any rate, Yellow Pig Math Days are celebrated at Hampshire College as a convocation of budding mathematicians, and are also held at various other locations to emphasize mathematics in education. As someone who always considered abstract mathematics as stupid human tricks, I don’t get it, but I don’t need to.

Gettysburg, a Smorgasbord of National Days, and the Consequences of Belief

Huh, you say…what is he up to now?  Well, as it happens, I just want to put some stuff out there so you, my dear readers, can argue about lots of different things that have nothing to do with anything, like our current Fearless Leader in the White House duking it out with the Mass Media into all sorts of nothing sandwiches while he quietly gets the regulatory swamp drained.  Such is life.  Misdirection, you see.

Just like Lee was snookered into Gettysburg.  Sure, he wanted a fight outside Virginia…but then what?  The Confederacy was already losing half its food supply when US Grant finished clearing the Mississippi Valley with the capture of .  The Richmond/Washington corridor was, in comparison, as sideshow.  But the history books, driven by the Lost Cause Mythology (LCM) that demands that All Things Lee must be Earth-shatteringly vital, says that Gettysburg was the battle of the Civil War.  Some American history textbooks mention Bull Run, Gettysburg and Appomattox, foregoing all other actions  as unimportant.  Lee is mentioned, of course, and Lincoln, but Grant?  Meade? Even Halleck?  Not on a bet.

But…you moan.  Lee was snookered into Gettysburg?  Tricked?  Well, in a way, yes, he was.  Though the “strategy” that he outlined to Jefferson Davis demanded a fight with the Army of the Potomac, but he didn’t say just where or how.  So he split up his army to join it up somewhere in Pennsylvania so he could thrash “those people” (the term that LCM insists Lee always used when referring to the Union Army…except when he didn’t) once and for all.  Trouble with that was that, without a definite plan, the various pieces of his army were just going to be out foraging as he looked for a place to get together.  Lee wasn’t expecting to get it together in southern Adams County, but that was where Buford’s cavalry encountered Ewell’s corps.  Then there was Howard’s and Reynold’s corps, and Ewell had a real fight on his hands.

Suddenly Lee’s army had to come together, and he had no idea that Meade’s whole army was on hand because Stuart’s cavalry was off on another “ride around” the AoP and thus out of communications, but unlike 1862, the propaganda value to the Bold Cavalier’s exploits was nil.  However, the military value of bruising Stuart’s ego in June at Brandy Station was tremendous, and to salvage his sinking reputation he took his horsemen off on another wild ride.

So Lee was blinded by Stuart’s absence…or at least that’s what LCM claims.  You see, it just isn’t possible that Lee had so little control over his subordinates that such things could happen, so it has to be Stuart’s fault.  Just as on 3 July 1863 it was Longstreet who failed against Meade’s center because Lee cannot fail…ever.  And Lee, the ever-stainless Marse Robert Edward Lee, cannot be faulted for fighting at a severe terrain disadvantage in Pennsylvania.  It had to have been his subordinates who failed him. And so it goes.

But too, today is National Chocolate Wafer Day, National Eat Your Beans Day, and National Fried Clams Day.  Now, only Fried Clams Day has a known origin–3 July 1916 was the first time anyone suggested deep-frying clams–but the other two are mysteries.  A snack stand in Essex, Massachusetts battered and fried a batch after a customer suggested it, and first served them during Fourth of July festivities.  It sort of took off.  I have some rather fond memories of fried clams at Howard Johnson’s restaurants, which dates me.  The national day started in 2015.

Now, the consequences of belief.  There are, you know.  As Lee found out in Pennsylvania, believing that he could steal a march on Meade was, in his case, catastrophic. Similarly, German belief in their capacity to knock France out of the war before having to deal with the Russians in 1914 was similarly disastrous.  Germany did it again in 1939, taking on the whole world by 1941.  But that was a consequence in Hitler’s “unshakeable belief” in so many things that were just–demonstrably–wrong.

But no one can escape the consequences of belief, because what you believe guides what you do.  And if what you believe is accurate, all is well until someone decides that what you believe is simply wrong.  If that disagreement is a simple “I don’t think so,” there it  ends.  But if someone believes–and has the power to enforce–that you must change your belief and behavior or face a fatal consequence…that’s different.

But that’s where “free speech” and “censorship” and “hate speech” and “blasphemy” and “sedition” get all tangled up.  Opinions (personal, not legal) can’t be “wrong” if they don’t deny facts–they’re just beliefs.  Today is Monday.  If you say that it’s Wednesday, you would be wrong, incontrovertibly.  That is not an opinion, but a fact.  If you believe that persons of another faith or skin color are all evil, or want to destroy those of your faith or skin color, that is an opinion because it’s simply too broad a spread.  But if you act on that belief, it stops being an opinion and starts being a motive for whatever it is you wish to do.

The painting that heads this little missive is a good example.  It was painted to meet a commercial need, and to satisfy an audience that would find “Hancock at Gettysburg” to be inspiring. It’s not a photograph, and abounds with historical inaccuracy.  But it was commercially successful despite all that. Point at it as say “Pickett’s Charge” if you want; no one will kill you for it, but it’s “Hancock at Gettysburg.”  But say that a TV personality is wrong, or ugly, or–horrors–unworthy of your time, and you may be in for a fight.  Attractiveness is unquantifiable, and thus not a matter of “fact.”

What anyone says about anyone’s looks or appearance is, long run, irrelevant to living, or governing, or ruling.  The accuracy of paintings, too, is pretty irrelevant.  And so is this blog.  I write it because I want to; you read it for the same reason.  No harm no foul if you don’t or I don’t.  But it’s not “censorship” if you don’t follow me, just as my not watching the endless reruns of the same twisted plots of TV sitcoms isn’t “censorship,” or my not caring what your sexual proclivity is or your gender identity or your personal pronouns isn’t “anti-gay,” and it is not yet illegal to not care.  That may come, but not yet.


A Disaster in Luxemburg and Lightning Awareness Week

Yeah, like living in the Great Lakes we’re not “aware” of lightning.

Anyway, 26 June is one of those days that, well, is not blessed with an excess of National Days (except for National Hair Stylist Appreciation Day and (National Chocolate Pudding Day), and a plethora of events including the murder of Pizarro in 1541, the battle of Mechanicsville in 1862, the beginning of the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963.  But today, we have to be obscure…and talk about lightning.

In the early 19th century, during the French occupation of Luxembourg , the 75 year old fortress of Fort Thungen in Kirchberg (now a part of Luxembourg City), was being used as a magazine and gunpowder factory by the ammunition-hungry armies of Napoleon.  On 26 June 1807, a lightning strike touched off the powder, destroying two city blocks and killing at least 300 people.  If my sources are right, most simple gunpowder in the pre-industrial era was made from November to March to avoid dampening the mixture, so its not clear if the powder works was operating.

At this distance it’s hard to say exactly what happened, but either the walls of the fortress were very stout or there wasn’t a great deal of powder there.  This accident took place just twelve days after the battle of Friedland in Prussia, the battle that ended the War of the Fourth Coalition, enabled the Treaty of TIlsit and pulled Russia into the Continental System, at least for a while.  It was also four months after the battle of Eylau, and barely a month after the siege of Danzig ended.  In six months, Napoleon had consumed several magazines of powder so far that year, so it’s just possible that the magazine was lower than normal.

National Lightning Awareness Week was last week (last full week in June), regrettably, but I couldn’t resist the connection.  Neither accidental explosive detonations nor lightning strikes are that rare or unusual, but this one was both.  It’s called the deadliest lightning strike in history by some, but the Lightning Safety Council doesn’t mention it on its web site.  As of 2001 lightning strikes killed about 50 people a year in the US: at this writing that number is about 30.  The Lightning Safety Council claims its because of their efforts, but it seems more likely that people are spending less time outside and electrical codes have caught up with the need for extensive grounding.  I’ve been in airplanes when they were struck by lightning (flash/boom/passenger hollers/PA says “nothing to worry about”), but with modern aircraft the problem isn’t what it once was.

Lightning and gunpowder–dangerous mix.

Emancipation and Juneteenth Day

There was a lot going on in history on 19 June: Robert Peel started the Bobbies/Peelers in London, the first organized police force in 1828; USS Kearsarge sank the Confederate raider Alabama in the Bay of Biscay in 1864; Maximilian I of Mexico was executed in 1867; the first Father’s Day was observed in Spokane, Washington in 1910; the Marianas Turkey Shoot (also called the battle of the Philippine Sea) destroyed much of the remainder of Japan’s naval aviation in 1944; and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed for espionage in 1953.

It’s not often that historians can point to a single moment in history and declare: there is where it was all changed, where the fates were fixed.  On 19 June in 1862 and in 1865, such an event occurred, but not for the reasons usually ascribed.  On 19 June 1862, Congress passed a law prohibiting slavery in US territories–not the states, and not everywhere that Federal troops didn’t stand in the Confederacy.: that would come later.

This was landmark legislation because it completely repudiated the Dred Scott decision of 1857, and ended the Southern notion of “popular sovereignty” in the territories being the controlling factor.  Though Lincoln was still on a lawyerly fence about a general emancipation, he was discussing the matter with his cabinet even at this early date.  The Congress’ action on 19 June galvanized and accelerated Lincoln’s thinking. Though the news of the horrible carnage at Shiloh in April had reached Washington and most of the Union by then, it hadn’t sunk in yet to the halls of power or the general public that the river of blood spilled in the Tennessee pine barrens decided that the conflict would not end with two separate countries.  It would, though, soon enough .

Fast forward to 19 June 1865, when Gordon Granger and his XIII Corps landed on Galveston Island.  Lincoln was dead; most of the principle Confederate armies had given up and gone home, but still word of the Emancipation had yet to reach this somewhat remote former Confederate territory.  Granger read General Order #3 almost as soon as he got off the boat:

The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection therefore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.

There were a thousand or so slaves in Galveston at the time, and a great celebration ensued.  The next year the anniversary was observed, and has been on 19 June ever since.  The day had been called Freedom Day and Emancipation Day, even though the actual emancipation was 1 January 1863.  But because the commemoration/celebration started on 19 June and the local vernacular “Juneteenth” was catchy, the tradition stuck.

Like most holidays in America, business has grabbed the opportunity, but not as much as other “greeting card” holidays like St. Valentine’s or Grandparent’s Day.  So 19 June didn’t free all the slaves, and it didn’t grant them any more rights than they had before but it did signal the end of chattel slavery in the United States.  And that’s worth taking note of.

Anne Frank’s Diary and National Red Rose Day

Connections? Read and find out.  I find it quaintly coincidental that anyone should declare a day celebrating the flower that symbolizes romance and love on the same day that a young Jewish girl in the Netherlands should get the autograph album that would become her famous diary.  Or, for that matter, the same day Medgar Evers was killed on the same day in 1963, or that Gregory Peck died in 2003.  It’s also the anniversary of the Virginia v Loving decision that legalized interracial marriage in the US in 1963. Just coincidence…I suppose.

Anneliese Marie “Anne” Frank was born in Germany on 12 June 1929, but spent most of her short life in and around Amsterdam. Stateless in 1941 after German Jews were stripped of the citizenship, she and her family hid out in various places in Amsterdam until August 1944, when the family was discovered and they were shipped off to the camps.  Anne and her sister died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen sometime between February and March 1945. All but her father died somewhere in the camps.

But between her thirteenth birthday on 20 June 1942 and 1 August 1944–three days before she was captured–Anne made entries in her diary nearly every day. It described everyday life for Jews in Amsterdam, for just over two years.  Her first –and only–romance with fellow attic refugee Peter van Pels is described, as is her exploration of her own sexuality (in the 1995 edition)–a series of entries her father left out in earlier editions but that some educrats have take exception to.  But she was a teenage girl stuck in an attic with strangers, that included her family.  The internal tensions she described with her family and the others that she was enclosed with in that attic.  The food they ate–especially how much–and their attitudes towards nearly everything were carefully compiled. After the war, and after the Red Cross had confirmed Anne’s death, Anne’s father, Otto, went back to the attic and found the diary hidden away. Since its publication in 1947 the Diary of Anne Frank has gone through numerous editions under different names, translation into sixty languages, and has withstood accusations of hoax, forgery and worse, but has been authenticated by more than one authority.

A rose, according to WIkipedia,  “is a woody perennial flowering plant of the genus Rosa, in the family Rosaceae, or the flower it bears.”  According to Gertrude Stein, “a rose is a rose by any other name:” by Shakespeare’s lights “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  All of that aside for the moment, a rose is a flowering ornamental shrub that thrives nearly everywhere, from Africa and Asia to Europe and the Americas.  Most garden roses (and there are over a hundred different varieties) prefer somewhat temperate climates where they can hibernate for a few months between blooming seasons.  My dear wife struggles mightily with the roses in her garden every spring, and they seem to respond in kind, thriving from year to year.

But National Red Rose Day?  OK, I get the romance part (I never gave a woman a red rose who didn’t appreciate it in some way–and there have only been two), but a national day?  Oh, why not? Today’s Peanut Butter Cookie Day too, and Jerky Day…and Loving Day, after the Loving decision.

So a rose for the famous diarist on what would have been her 88th birthday. We wish you might have gotten one from some young admirer at least once in your short life.