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Month: July 2008

The Underlying Sadness of “Harold and the Purple Crayon”

My oldest boy and I have been reading the 50th anniversary edition of “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson for a couple of nights now. It’s a nice hardback collection of four of the Harold stories and Noah has been completely enthralled by it. He’ll talk about Harold falling off of a mountain only to rescue himself by drawing a balloon so he won’t get hurt. Harold is a clever little boy who doesn’t forget how to get out of trouble when he needs to and that makes the book fun and exciting and ingenius because the whole thing is Harold’s imagination and where it can take him.

But I started noticing something as we were reading through the four stories that make up the collection – it’s only Harold. There are no other humans anywhere in the book. I’m probably reading too much into it, as I tend to do, but Harold is just all alone in a world of his creation Much like Scientologist Tom Cruise. where no one else is. The stories mention him looking for his home, and him drawing the chair that his mother would sit in when she read, and how he remembers where his bed is by gauging where the moon is in his window, but other than that Harold is never in a real world.

Now, it could just be that he’s dreaming and you just never see him wake up, and that’s the more-than-likely answer to the whole thing, or it could be (and I’m just hypothesizing here, brainstorming if you will)maybe Harold is crazy and trapped in his own mind and the purple crayon is some sort of enabler for him to get out of his inner insanity, or maybe he’s been transported into a “Twilight-Zone”y place of sight and sound but no dimension other than 2-D and he only has a crayon to help him escape….

I am reading way too much into it. My son likes the story. That’s enough.


Operation Downfall, Part II

Downfall would have been the largest amphibious landing in history, including 42 aircraft carriers, 24 battleships, 400 destroyers and other ships. Fourteen U.S. divisions A division is a large military unit usually consisting of around ten to twenty thousand soldiers. would take part also as they used Okinawa as a staging base and then seized the southern portion of the island of Kyushu. The invasion was scheduled to start on November 1, 1945. But there were some other considerations that the planners had to take into account.

There was, naturally, to be a deception plan leading up to the Olympic invasion. By having such a plan it was hoped, as all deception plans in war were, that Allied casualties would be minimized because the enemy force would believe that it needed to focus itself elsewhere. The plan to precede Olympic was Operation Pastel, wherein which the Joint Chiefs of Staff would attempt to fool the Japanese into thinking that a direct invasion of the southern islands had been rejected and instead that the Allies would focus first on Japanese forces still in mainland China. The first strike would be a false Allied attack on China’s Chusan-Shanghai area, with a fictional landing date of October 1, 1945. This was to be followed by one of the smaller southern Japanese islands, Shikoku. After this the Allies hoped to surprise the Japanese with the Olympic invasion.

All of this was leading up to X-Day, as it was called, where the Alllied forces would invade Kyushu along the eastern, southeastern, southern and western coasts of the island near the towns of Miyazaki, Ariake, and Kushikino. The invasion force was to consist of three main groups landing on 35 different beaches, all codenamed after makes of automobiles. The Eastern Assault Force consisting of the 25th, 33rd and the 41st Infantry Divisions, would land near Miyaski and quickly move inland to capture Miyazaki and its nearby airfield. The Southern Force which was to consist of the 1st cavalry Division, the 43rd Division and American Division would land inside Ariake Bay and capture Shibushi and to capture, further inland, the city of Kanoya and its surrounding airfield. On the western shore of Kyushu near Kushikino the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Marine Divisions would land and split, part of which would head inland to capture Sendai while the other half captured the port city of Kagoshima. Once these areas were secured more Allied reinforcements consisting of three American divisions would be brought in each month to strengthen the hold on the occupied portion of Kyushu.

Before and during all of this activity the U.S. Twentieth Air Force would be bombing strategic targets such as railroads, airfields and the various beaches that were to be hit. With a successful bombing campaign it was hoped that they could minimize any fast means that reinforcements could utilize to arrive at the various invasion points.

The four month timetable for Olympic was not to conquer the entire island but to gain a foothold for the Allies to jump off of and use as a staging ground for the even bigger invasion – Coronet. More on it in part 3.1The info for this piece came, once again, from Wikipedia, the the Combined Arms Research Library

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An Open Letter to Colonel Saul Tigh

Dear Colonel Tigh,
Saul, we’ve known each other a long time at this point, you and I. I’ve been watching you intently for three and a half years as you’ve wrestled with the Ambrosia-drinkin’ and put-a-gun-to-your-head demons in your mind and you’ve failed more often than I know you’ve wanted to, but I’ll come right out and say it, Saul – you’ve always been my favorite on “Battlestar Galactica”. Others may think that Adama is king or Starbuck is the coolest or Lee is too pretty for words and he gets all the lucky breaks, but for me it’s you, Saul. It’s your craggy ways, your hard livin’, hard drinkin’, always ready for a fight lifestyle, your eye patch, your ability to sum up every situation by cursing. For frak’s sake, you killed your own wife for collaborating with the enemy! You loved her and you poisoned her and held her while she died! Yes, you did cry afterward rather than drink and curse, but you killed someone you loved! Do you think Roslin would, could ever do that? No. It’s one of the things that I love about you that just makes you, you.

After that first Cylon war years ago you were drifting, floundering here and there, drinking, getting into fights, until that one bar where you met Bill Adama and the two of you pledged to each other that no matter what happened the two of you were going to get back into the fleet. And you did. That took guts and guts you have, my brother.

You were crafted by war, Saul, and war needed you. When the Galactica had been hit by nuclear missiles during the initial volleys of the Cylon War II, you had the hulls sealed off and then the airlocks opened to put out a fire that was threatening to take out the entire ship. In the process you shot many living people into space, but you saved the ship. You killed your crewmen but you did it for the greater good and it was a shining moment in your dented and scarred career. Who else would have had the stones to do that? Few men, I tell you.

And when the war came again you found your place. You hated Cylons with a white-hot Tilium-burning passion and that hate has gotten you this far, but now you’ve come to a HUGE crossroad, my friend – you’ve discovered, along with three other people on board the Galactica, that you’re Cylons. You’re part of the fabled Final Five which makes you special, very special. Suddenly your life has tremendous meaning – you’re now more than just a man, you’re a symbol to some, a god to others. You’ve been killing Cylons for fifty years, from the first rebellion to the holocaust of the human race to New Caprica, and now you find out you’re a Cylon? You yourself are one of the enemy? Well, that’s almost too much for an ordinary man to bear.

But damnit Saul, you’re no ordinary man! You’re Saul Tigh, the most rip-snortin’, butt-kickin’ Colonel, XO and one-time dictator in the entire human race! Man up, son! Get yourself together!

Oh sure, it was soul cleansing when you told Adama that you were a Cylon. But what did you think he was going to do, kill you? Would that have made everything better? That would be too good, too easy for you. He handed you over to his son who almost killed you, but Bill never could kill his best friend. You think The Old Man could really have done that to someone he loves almost as much as his own son? Never. I even had in my mind the way I thought you would go on the show but as the midpoint of season four showed us it won’t happen. Here it is though for you –

Adama knows you’re a Cylon. He’s in a rage, holding you up against the bulkhead and has a gun to your chest.

ADAMA : You want absolution, Saul?! What the frak did you think I was going to do? Kill you so you wouldn’t have to?

TIGH : No Bill. I couldn’t let you do that. It wouldn’t be right.

And then you shoot yourself in the head and as your body falls to the floor of the airlock Bill bursts into tears as his best friend dies in his arms and he weeps over you because he knows that part of his soul is now gone and can never come back no matter how many model ships or mirrors he destroys.

It would have been an amazing way for you to go and it would have sucker punched me in the stomach to watch you die. But you’re not dead yet, Saul. You have to keep going. The race isn’t over yet, brother. You said it yourself : you’re Saul Tigh, XO of the Battlestar Galactica, and whatever you were then, that’s the way you’re going to be until the day you die. That’s quite a mantra to live by Saul, given what’s happened to you.

Toughen up, Saul. The worst may be yet to come. Good luck and gods’ speed, friend.

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I’m (Probably) Done Watching “Heroes”

The show “Heroes” started out as a fun but derivative concept – the hero origin story. More pointedly, “Heroes” is a take on the X-Men. You’ve got your mind reader (Professor X), the guy who can fly (Angel), the girl who can regenerate (Wolverine), the girl who can look like anything (Mystique) and a bunch of others, but it was fun at the beginning since everybody loves the “origin” story. It’s fun to watch people get new powers and then learn how to use them as well as their limitations. It’s plain ol’ good vs. evil.

The evil on the show is Gabriel Gray, a nerdy watch repairman who took the lame moniker of Sylar from one of the brands of watches he fixed. He is able to acquire other powers by (he thinks, but I’m not so sure) eating other hero-type people’s brains. Lovely.

The first season was fun and I stuck around to see if New York would indeed be destroyed by the man who can’t control his powers, Peter Petrelli. Peter had acquired nuclear capabilities from Ted Sprague. Peter, unlike Sylar, gets powers by being around people who already have the power he will develop. I think Sylar operates the same way but he just doesn’t know it.

Half the joy of season one was watching Hiro, the time-traveling Japanese office worker, discover his ability and then realize that it can be fun as well as powerful. His journey, of all of them, has been the most enjoyable to watch as he grows.

Anyway, there was this “mastermind” named Daniel Linderman (he has powers too – regeneration) who was going to bring about a new age by having Peter Petrelli destroy New York with his nuclear capabilities and then get Peter’s brother Nathan elected president. Nathan helped Peter get out of the city by flying up into the stratosphere before exploding. In the “destroy NY” show Linderman is shot to death, right through the head, and can’t regenerate. He’s dead. Really dead.

Which brings me around to now. Ain’t It Cool News is linking to a story where someone from the BBC is giving away what’s in a season 3 ‘Heroes’ promo. I’m talking spoilers, so if you care and watch the show, skip the next paragraph.


What?! Why can’t they kill anyone on this show and not have them stay dead?! Why can’t someone just die and be really dead?! The freaking guy was SHOT IN THE HEAD. Kill him! Kill him! Have him be dead, really dead! Bad guys, even SUPER BAD GUYS, die! Come on, man, just kill someone off of this show and have him be gone! He wasn’t that cool or anything. Even his name is lame. He was even lamer than the guy that could paint the future.1Don’t even get me started on how cool it would have been to have Hiro fighting a Tyrannosaurus. That would have rökked. Jeez.

And man, I’ve hung on even through the lame new characters they tried to introduce last season where all I wanted was for the girl who’s eyes turn black to die. The sweet release of her death would have been a high point of last season, but no, they had to have her “fall in love” with Sylar. She’s as lame as Nikki and Paulo on “Lost” were and the creators of “Lost” were smart enough to kill them off! Kill Black Eyed Girl! Kill her as soon as possible!

The list of people on the show with powers just keeps growing. Nikki, who supposedly died in an explosion, I’m sure will turn up alive. Nathan, who was shot at the end of last season right before he “came out” about his flying power, I’m sure will be back too. Claire’s dad, who’s death was very powerful on the show, was resurrected. Sylar himself probably was dead but they’ve brought him back to annoy us with his “my-head-is-down-but-I’m-looking-at-you” eyes and stupid way of talking again. And Hiro can’t even kill a bad guy; he has to bury him in a coffin alive. The guy he buried is immortal so I’m sure he’ll turn up again, as usual.

The only one that I really am glad is back is Hiro’s friend Ando. Ando is one of the few people on the roster without powers which is probably why I like him so much. Can’t we have fewer people with powers? To see their perspective on those with powers? And can’t this freaking show thin the ranks a little bit before the whole planet is on the show because, you know, they ALL have powers?

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Have You Ever Actually Read the Declaration of Independence?

Well…you should. Here it is.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

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Operation Downfall, Part I

As 1944 turned into 1945 an Allied victory in the Pacific was creeping closer to reality. Little by little American forces were rolling up the Japanese defenses one island at a time as they pushed the invaders back further and further towards the Japanese mainland. Guam had been taken, the Philippines were being contained and bombing on Iwo Jima was underway. In this atmosphere of cautious optimism the ideas for Operation Downfall, as it would be called, were being hashed out by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at the Argonaut Conference 1The codename for The Yalta Conference, the 1945 wartime meeting between Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin held on the tiny island of Malta in the Mediterranean. The conference called for the defeat of Japan within eighteen months of the surrender of Germany, and this would entail a possible amphibious landing on the Japanese mainland itself. At the time the Manhattan Project was a closely guarded secret so the members at the conference didn’t even take its existence into account.

The conference had many other factors to think about also. How could they force an unconditional Japanese surrender with the least amount of Allied casualties in the shortest period of time? Originally a joint British-American team had written a document entitled “Appreciation and Plan for the Defeat of Japan” where they didn’t foresee an invasion until after 1947 but the conference felt that dragging the war out that far would have dangerous consequences to American morale at home. And not only would the Allies face Japanese military units but also a “fanatically hostile population”. Fighting the Japanese military was one thing, facing an entire population armed with various weapons carrying out banzai attacks was another. The death toll on both sides could have been tremendous.

In light of this the US Navy urged a sea blockade and airpower to bring about surrender. The US Army Air Force, using captured airbases in China and Korea would be able to bombard Japan into submission.2A sea blockade had helped the US defeat another enemy roughly 80 years previous to this – The Confederate States of America. The US Army, though, believed that the strategy could prolong the war for an indeterminate amount of time and needlessly waste lives. In light of this the Army’s opinion won out.

And so planning on the two-part invasion began. It was to be broken into two operations, Olympic and Coronet with Olympic scheduled to begin on X-Day – November 1, 1945.3Info for this post came from both Military History Encyclopedia on the Web and Wikipedia.

We’ll talk about the first phase, Olympic, next time.

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