November 10, 2012 archive

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History and its discontents

No we’re not going to talk about slips and the fact that you wear them to make sure that your clothes fall right and don’t bunch up on your body.

This is instead my pointlessly long introduction to the BBC 5 documentary, The Russian Revolution In Colour, and this criticism by Nadim al-Mahjoub

Perhaps because I watched the documentary in black and white I was not so prone to accept the colourful misrepresentation of the revolution.

The Russian Revolution in Colour (History Documentary), we read on the Channel Five website, “shows how the Kronstadt sailors’ loyalty helped defend the revolution in its first years; and how their brutal defeat killed the flickering of hope for a more just society.” The documentary highlights the role played by the sailors of the Kronstadt naval base in the second Russian revolution as well as in the October Revolution. In addition to their strong militancy, the documentary stresses the high level of democracy and self-governing that reigned among the sailors of Kronstadt. The ‘turning point’ of the revolution, the editors argue, is that while the February Revolution was spontaneous the October Revolution was consciously organised. Lenin and his followers, the documentary tells us, “killed the hope when they dissolved the Constituent Assembly and took over.”

Regarding the circumstances, and what happened just after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, which they portray as ‘the embryo of democracy’, the documentary mentions nothing. Was it something of secondary importance that it was not worthy of mention in describing the process of the revolution? Or was the omission of the context and the reactions of the forces in play a deliberate act by the makers of the documentary? Unlike many commentators the documentary does not say that the Bolshevik Revolution was a coup. But what is stressed in the film is that the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly by Lenin led to dictatorship. Thus, the editors suggest, Soviet Dictatorship started with Lenin and was continued by Stalin.

The Russian revolution took place in a backward country; the overwhelming majority of the population of the country were peasants, most were illiterate, and the level of technique and production was very low. Russia was a semi-colony producing less than three per cent of world industrial output. The revolution found itself not only besieged by a fierce foreign intervention hell-bent on destroying it, but also without the hoped for assistance by the spread of the revolution to the developed capitalist countries of the time. These objective factors were to play a decisive role in determining the fate of the revolution. Lenin and Trotsky were the leaders of the revolution and they were all the time aware of the impossibility of establishing socialism in Russia alone. Thus, they linked the success of winning the battle for democracy by the working class to the revolution in Germany, in particular, and in the developed countries in general.

I happened to see this broadcast the other day and was quite surprised when it turned up in my recommended viewing list.

Your tinfoil hat is optional.

On This Day In History November 10

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 10 is the 314th day of the year (315th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 51 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1975, the 729-foot-long freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald sinks during a storm on Lake Superior, killing all 29 crew on board.

SS Edmund Fitzgerald (nicknamed “Mighty Fitz,” “The Fitz,” or “The Big Fitz”) was an American Great Lakes freighter launched on June 8, 1958. At the time of its launching, it was one of the first boats to be at or near maximum “St Lawrence Seaway Size” which was 730 feet (220 m) long and 75 feet (23 m) wide. From its launching in 1958 until 1971 the Fitzgerald continued to be one of the largest boats on the Great Lakes.

Final voyage and wreck

Fitzgerald left Superior, Wisconsin on the afternoon of Sunday, November 9, 1975 under the command of Captain Ernest M. McSorley. It was en route to the steel mill on Zug Island, near Detroit, Michigan, with a full cargo of taconite. A second freighter under the command of Captain Jesse B. “Bernie” Cooper, Arthur M. Anderson, destined for Gary, Indiana out of Two Harbors, Minnesota, joined up with Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, being the faster ship, took the lead while Anderson trailed not far behind. The weather forecast was not unusual for November and called for a storm to pass over eastern Lake Superior and small craft warnings.

Crossing Lake Superior at about 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph), the boats encountered a massive winter storm, reporting winds in excess of 50 knots (93 km/h; 58 mph) with gusts up to 86.9 knots (160.9 km/h; 100.0 mph) and waves as high as 35 feet (11 m). Visibility was poor due to heavy snow.  The Weather Bureau upgraded the forecast to gale warnings. The freighters altered their courses northward, seeking shelter along the Canadian coast. Later, they would cross to Whitefish Bay to approach the locks.When the storm became intense, the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie were closed.

Late in the afternoon of Monday, November 10, sustained winds of 50 knots were observed across eastern Lake Superior. Anderson was struck by a 75-knot (139 km/h; 86 mph) hurricane-force gust. At 3:30 pm, Captain McSorley radioed the Anderson to report that she was taking on water and had top-side damage including that the Fitzgerald was suffering a list, and had lost two vent covers and some railings. Two of the Fitzgerald’s six bilge pumps were running continuously to discharge shipped water.

At about 3:50 pm, McSorley called the Anderson to report that his radar was not working and he asked the Anderson to keep them in sight while he checked his ship down so that the Anderson could close the gap between them. Fitzgerald was ahead of Anderson at the time, effectively blind; therefore, she slowed to come within 10 miles (16 km) range so she could receive radar guidance from the other ship. For a time the Anderson directed the Fitzgerald toward the relative safety of Whitefish Bay. McSorley contacted the U.S. Coast Guard station in Grand Marais, Michigan after 4:00 pm and then hailed any ships in the Whitefish Point area to inquire if the Whitefish Point light and navigational radio beacon were operational. Captain Cedric Woodard of the Avafors answered that both the light and radio direction beacon were out at that moment. Around 5:30 pm, Woodward called the Fitzgerald again to report that the Whitefish point light was back on but not the radio beacon. When McSorley replied to the Avafors, he commented, “We’re in a big sea. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”

The last communication from the doomed ship came at approximately 7:10 pm, when Anderson notified Fitzgerald of an upbound ship and asked how it was doing. McSorley reported, “We are holding our own.” A few minutes later, it apparently sank; no distress signal was received. Ten minutes later Anderson could neither raise Fitzgerald by radio, nor detect it on radar. At 8:32 pm, Anderson was finally able to convince the U. S. Coast Guard that the Fitzgerald had gone missing. Up until that time, the Coast Guard was looking for a 16 foot outboard lost in the area. The United States Coast Guard finally took Captain Cooper of the Anderson seriously shortly after 8:30 pm. The Coast Guard then asked the Anderson to turn around and look for survivors.

The Edmund Fitzgerald now lies under 530 feet of water, broken in two sections. On July 4, 1995, the ship’s bell was recovered from the wreck, and a replica, engraved with the names of the crew members who perished in this tragedy, was left in its place. The original bell is on display at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point in Michigan.

The Witch of November I am a sailor. Blessed Be

Nontheistic Religions…

Listed are:

   The Great Spirit

   Unitarian Universalism





For certain this isn’t comprehensive but mindless to boot.

I will ignore all or most syncretic religions and all real polytheisms. No cargo cults, no voudouin, sorry. IMO they are so obviously false that one doesn’t really need to say much about them anyway…

Man, you are sorry in more ways than one.  Has to be a man.  Even blondes aren’t that dumb unless they are men like me.

This comes from a university blog but it might as well come from the collected wisdom of Rush Limbaugh for scholarship.

From the Deism link:

Historically, many of the Founding Fathers of the United States were deists: Jefferson…

Aww, geez, Washington, and I think Adams, were Deists but Jefferson was a Unitarian.

I kinda like Deism which says there was a Creator but God takes care of God and man can damn well take care of himself.  It is one of the remaining things that still allows me to like Washington.  

Deism was obviously a handy device to be an atheist without getting hanged.

Me and my ancient bride and the dawgs sit out evenings at the edge of our landing strip waiting for John Frum to arrive in the cargo planes packed with canned spam and other good things.  Our Cargo Cult’s a heck of a lot better religion than that stupid Deism that gives you nothing.

Best,  Terry

Late Night Karaoke

Popular Culture 20121109: The Electric Light Orchestra

The Electric Light Orchestra, also known as ELO, were a pretty good British band that officially formed in 1970.  Like many British bands of its era, ELO went through huge personnel changes over the years.  We shall confine our discussion to the band(s) from 1970 to 1983, sort of like what we did with The Moody Blues not that long ago.

The band were founded by Roy Wood (previously leader of the decent British band The Move), and Jeff Lynne (previously from the band The Idle Race, which also had Wood as a member for a while).  Interestingly, The Move continued to record and release records whilst ELO was being formed, largely to pay the bills.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

The Many Colors of Squash

Winter Squash

   This week it’s hard not to think about pumpkins, even though most of you won’t be cooking your jack-o’-lanterns. But along with the pumpkins in bins outside my supermarket, there are as many kabocha squashes, butternuts, acorns and large, squat European pumpkins that the French call potirons.

   You can use either butternut or kabocha squash in this week’s recipes, though the two are not identical in texture or flavor. Butternut is a denser, slightly sweeter squash, and kabocha has an earthier flavor. Kabocha squash absorbs flavors beautifully and is especially well suited for salads because of the nice way it absorbs tart dressings.

Puréed Winter Squash Soup With Ginger

One of the most comforting dishes you can make with winter squash is a puréed soup.

Lasagna With Roasted Kabocha Squash and Béchamel

No-boil noodles make this rich-tasting lasagna easier to prepare.

Roasted Beet and Winter Squash Salad With Walnuts

This composed salad sets the colors of the beets and the squash against each other beautifully.

Winter Squash and Molasses Muffins

Add walnuts and raisins or chopped apricots to personalize these moist muffins.

Balsamic Roasted Winter Squash and Wild Rice Salad

Tossing the squash with the vinegar before roasting deepens the flavors of both.

Seven “News” Boston

If I was in charge of the FCC which hands out “licenses” for public broadcast stations I would not renew this station for the criminal nonsense of touting TV shows as newsworthy topics.  It’s actually not news, they can’t report on real news.  I have my alternate sources of news, which makes lamestream not lamestream anymore but something far more offensive.  A programming device plus a commercialized venue designed to make you feel good.

Transgender Politicians Win

Nashua, New Hamphire voters elected the first transperson ever to the New Hamphire House of Representatives on Tuesday.  Stacy Laughton, 28, places gender issues at the top of her agenda, but wants to be treated like any other woman on the House floor.

Laughton has been politically active since she was a teenager.  When she lived in Laconia, she was unsuccessful in several attempts at securing city positions and one attwempt at a run for the State House while running as a Republican.  

She worked on John Kerry’s campaign in 2004 as an independent.  Her shift in allegiance had a lot to do with Gov. Craig Benson’s budget cuts.

He cut welfare funding, he cut special ed funding, he cut a lot of these vitally important programs, and these were programs that I knew lots of people who were on, and I started to see their lives change, but they didn’t change for the better.


Laughton became a Democrat in 2010 and was elected as a selectman in Ward 4 in Nashua, where she now lives.  Several friends and mentors suggested a run for higher office, but it was newly-elected Rep. Maggie Hassan’s plea for people to run which ultimately caused her to do so.

This area of New Hampshire needed somebody like me, somebody who understands the complex issues that this district faces, somebody who understands what it’s like to live with a lower income, somebody who knows the people in the area.